“Faith, ye know oi’m surprised this worked,” Seamus said. He wore a black robe and barrister’s wig, and a harness around his waist. From a wire on the harness dangled a mobile phone with a picture of the full moon on it, the light of which glinted strangely off of Seamus’ glazed hat. “Artificial lunar light, keeping me awake even in the daytime. Truly, this is an age of wonders.”
Donna glared at the little fellow. She was in two minds about the little creature. On the one hand, she was still annoyed at him for getting the Dark Brownie acquitted. On the other hand, she needed good legal representation herself if she was going to avoid prison. If there was anything she’d learned from the gnome’s utter dismantling of her seemingly solid case against the Brownie, it was that the little fellow was a first-rate lawyer.
She shifted in the hard plastic chair in the courthouse waiting room. Riot. It was a serious offence. First offence, granted, and all that. But a serious crime and the
“Donna, are you sure about this guy?” asked Vincent Pizaro, the usual lawyer for the former Handy Pavilion staff who were being prosecuted for the Battle of Wellington Street. “He doesn’t have any formal legal training. What’s more, he is clearly a pottery garden gnome.”
“Point of order!” Seamus said. “And objection and suchlike. All gnomes were made honorary QCs in 1847 by Queen Victoria. Granted, she was high on nitrous at the time and granted also that she was a hateful English tyrant, that proclamation has never been rescinded.”
“I didn’t say you weren’t a barrister,” Vincent snapped. “Unlike you, I did go to law school so I know all about the Gnome Proclamation. I wrote my honours thesis on its long term impact on common law, thank you very much. I just said you’re untrained.”
“Luke, I appreciate what you’re doing,” Donna said. “Did you ever meet ??”
“The scary woman with the scary eyes? Yes, once or twice.”
“Well she’s the one who taught me that I should always do the right thing,” Donna said. “And that’s why I fought at Wellington Street, because it was the right thing. And that’s why I’ll probably go down in flames in a trial. I’ll try to do the right thing you see. I need to counterbalance myself with a barrister who’s a complete bastard.”
Seamus waved his pipe at Vincent. “You know, if yez wasn’t wearin’ them glasses, and you didn’t have that beard, I’d say you look just like an older, less buff version of Captain Stellar.”
“Get that all the time,” Vincent mumbled. “But…”
Donna disengaged from the conversation and stared of into space. It probably wasn’t a good sign when your barrister and solicitor argued before an important hearing. Would she go to gaol? Possibly. Most eyewitnesses to the Battle had been too overwhelmed by the craziness of it all to positively identify any of the combatants. The main evidence against the Pavilionites came from a handful of security cameras that had caught the event, one of which clearly showed Donna braining a DIY Barnling with a fence picket.
A bunch of Pavilionites were being ground slowly and finely through the wheels of justice. Axel Platzoff’s parole had been rescinded. Laura Cho hadn’t been granted bail. Adam deported.
And Fiona… What had happened to Fiona?
“…even listening?” Vincent said. “There was only the security camera footage and your presence on the battle scene when the cops arrived. Tough to get around, but possible. Now Jane Nguyen has turned crown evidence.”
“Stands ter reason,” Seamus said. “She’s a werewolf. Der rest of yez might go ter gaol, she’d be put down. Stray Dogs and Unchained Lycanthropes act, 1982. Hah! No legal training, begorrah!”
Donna still wasn’t really listening. Across the waitingroom, a man standing next to a soda machine was staring at her. Creepily. And not even the usual ‘man staring at a young woman’ sort of creepily. More a ‘Manchurian candidate about to be activated’ sort of creepy.
Looking back at her quarrelling legal team, Donna said, “I’m going to hit the drinks machine,” and stood without being acknowledged. She walked towards the man. He was a tubby white guy with wisps of a cheap haircut poking out from under a cap embroidered with a pyramid. He shifted position as Donna approached. His jacket came open slightly, a khaki vest, studded with plastic packets that were connected with wires.
Donna should have been terrified, but instead felt an odd calm overtake her. “You with the Barn?” she said.
The man stared at her. Not creepily this time. More confused, like a shark might look if a minnow clapped a fin on its shoulder and started chatting about the weather.
“I serve the Barn.”
“The Barn is destroyed.”
“The Barn is eternal.”
“That doesn’t sound right,” Donna said. “Barns last a long time but not forever.”
“Time cannot destroy the Barns. None of them”
“You are here to kill me?” she whispered.
“That is a side mission. Mostly I am here to destroy the Pavilion legal team,” the man said. He gestured at Seamus, who was standing on a chair to wave his clay finger in Vincent’s increasingly red face. Donna noticed that the hand he gestured with was holding something electronic in a white-knuckled grip. Dead man switch for the vest?
Donna looked at the Barnling more closely. There was no expression on the fellow. She remembered when she’d been looking for a job and she’d considered applying to the DIY Barn, but decided against it.
If she had applied; if she had been successful; if she’d got the job then this… this poor brainwashed creature could have been her.
“I sympathise with you,” she said. “I see… I see how easy it could have been to have gone the same way you went. How can I blame you for what other people have made you? You poor, poor lost soul.”
She grabbed him by the switch hand as kneed him square in the balls. He was heavy, but Donna barged him into the corer between the wall and the drink machine, keeping him upright as possible and squeezing the switch closed with all her might.