Faces of the Spider is a story arc of The Adventurers super group that began in January of 2016. When the monster form of Red Spider returns, the team assumes that Cassandra has lost control for the first time in more than a year since she was afflicted with an engineered mutation virus. Matters become complicated when another Cassandra - the real one - is located in the rubble of the monster's first attack site, a cloning laboratory belonging to Source Biotech Enterprises. With UNTIL maintaining the monster (now in human form) in their custody, the team must attend a secret court hearing meant to determine the clone's fate - and in the process, defend the team's actions going back nearly two years.
County Prosecutor George Kruger
Kruger's office boasts an 80% conviction record for felonies. As Millennium City's chief public prosecutor, he has made numerous statements excoriating costumed vigilantes.
UNTIL Captain Chris Suzuki
A representative from UNTIL's Officer of Superhuman Resources, Suzuki approaches the Adventurers to warn them and give them an opportunity. UNTIL has to turn Red Spider's clone over to the MCPD as the organization must defer to local authorities in cases like this. However, UNTIL appreciates the Adventurers past assistance and has used some of its clout to give the Adventurers a chance with a secret hearing to gain the clone's freedom. Suzuki warns that the prosecutor will do everything he can to see the matter of the clone referred to a public trail.
George Kruger, Prosecutor
Ahem. Thank you, your honor. Today I am privileged to be a part of a precedent setting case in many respects. We are dealing with not only the rights of cloned individuals - an area of case law that to date is quite barren - but the rights of persons who are cloned. But as the duly elected prosecutor for this county, I must represent the grave concerns to public safety represented in this case. It will be shown that on February 1st of this year, there was an attack on this city. Lives were lost. This was one-hundred percent preventable. A collection of costumed vigilantes, colorfully calling themselves 'The Adventurers', have repeatedly bucked the law to do their own thing. The county demands high standards of accountability for our protectors. Our protectors - our best protectors - wear uniforms, badges, and can be required to answer for any misdeeds. These costumed rogues do not meet that standard. In my case I will easily point out numerous times when they have flagrantly broke the laws of our ordered society. But let's not lose sight of our true focus here - the fate the defendant. If this person, who is known to have great destructive power, is not required to go to trial, but is left in the stewardship of these vigilantes... God help us all. The county's position is that the matter should go to trial, and let the public know of a potential danger in their midst. Let a duly appointed court, possibly a jury of peers, decide the fate of the monster. That is all.
Lady Justice, representing the defense
In the hands of this establishment lies the hands of a woman, a woman made of flesh and blood, thought and emotion. A human being! A human being who was brought into this world with ill intent in mind, but one who can still choose her own path just as any of us has. Yet again we will assert that the circumstances of her birth do not...no.../never/ merit treating her as a so-called monster! Our group is not free from error, I will be the first to admit...but our track record of bettering our own stands for itself. We are here now. We will guide her if that is her wish. I beg you, Your Honor, do not set the precedent that this nation may once again be free to hate and persecute... That is all.
Witnesses - Prosecution
MCPD Officer Martin Staniel
Staniel was a responder during the original Red Spider Monster attacks of July 10, 2014. He attended a police perimeter set up when the Adventurers cornered the monster in Little Italy, and the subsequent stand-off when the Adventurers absconded with the subdued monster rather than turn it over to the authorities.
Officer Martin Staniel, MCPD
<KRUGER> "Mr. Staniel, what is your occupation?"
<STANIEL> "Well, unless Halloween came early, I'd say I'm a police officer."
<KRUGER> "How long have you served as a police officer?"
<STANIEL> "I might look like I been a cop since before you were born, young man. But it's been about five years of coffee, sweat, blood, and more coffee."
<KRUGER> "All of that here in Millennium City?"
<STANIEL> "I sure ain't crazy enough to do it in California! Eh... yes."
<KRUGER> "Please describe your duties for the court."
<STANIEL> "Oh eh, I'm a beat cop. I patrol the streets with my partner, Jack. Respond to the dispatch and keep the streets safe from your typical lowlifes."
<KRUGER> "Have you had to respond to many meta-human crimes?"
<STANIEL> "Oh, all the time. You'd think they'd send in the MARS boys first. But we get so many supervillain false alarms that people like me gotta check it out first. Kids these days! Y'know?"
<KRUGER> "I want to recall the events of one particular meta-human attack on the city, on July 10, 2014. Do you remember that day clearly?"
<STANIEL> "Ho boy. I sure do. Gives my partner the shivers when he thinks about it."
<KRUGER> "How did you first get alerted to that incident?"
<STANIEL> "Oh yeah, my buddy Jack and I were doin' the beat. Same as always. He's telling me all about this crazy idea he has for a movie script. Somethin' about a blind crimefighter in New York. So I tell him "Blind superhero? Gimme a break." Anyways! We were shootin' the breeze when we got the call. Dispatch says there was a monster out there on the streets. My first thought was that we were bein' punked. I hate that."
<KRUGER> "What happened next?"
<STANIEL> "We responded to the call, that's what. Protect 'n serve. My partner and I was the closest patrol car and boy, I regretted that. Afterwards, I mean."
<KRUGER> "So you saw the source of this attack? The 'suspect' as it were?"
<KRUGER takes a big glossy photo out of a folder, and pushes it across to Staniel> "Is this what you saw?"
<STANIEL> "Wow. You betcha."
<KRUGER> "We'll enter this into evidence. This is a freeze frame from a MCPD dashboard cam, dated July 10, 2014."
<STANIEL> "Looks like it. Even uglier'n I remember. Never was a fan of spiders- Erm..No offense."
<KRUGER> "Let the record show that this is a photo provided by UNTIL dated February 1, 2016. An image of the defendant in an altered state."
<KRUGER> "Officer Staniel, would you say that the July 10th 2014 photo and the February 1st, 2016 photos show the same creature?"
<STANIEL> "Whuh? Uhm, well..I mean, I ain't really qualified to make that kinda judgement. But boy, if they don't look similar."
<KRUGER> "Your Honor, I'd like to refer to an agreed statement of facts that the defendant, a clone of code-name Red Spider, is thought to have matured within just the last few months."
<KRUGER> "Officer Staniel, I want to move ahead now in the incident. How was the creature subdued?"
<STANIEL> "Should of been a giant flyswatter if ya ask me. Eh heh..Heh..Uhm. Well y'see, those costumed heroes captured it."
<KRUGER> "Upon capturing it, did they turn it over to the MCPD?"
<STANIEL> "Well, no. N'fact that particular uhm, "discussion" didn't go so great."
<KRUGER> "What do you mean?"
<STANIEL> "Hoo boy. Uhm, see I was just with my partner while the EMT's were patchin' him up. But I heard from the boys on the radio that we had shots fired and not at the spider."
<KRUGER has a tape played, dashboard footage from an MCPD squad car, showing Adventurers Mark of Power, Lady Justice, and Illusion escaping into the sewers, and police opening fire>
<STANIEL> "Whoops. I guess the boys kinda exaggerated a-"
<KRUGER> "Officer Staniel, even in cases of duly registered costumed 'heroes', to your knowledge, the MCPD should have taken custody of the creature after the incident, correct?"
<STANIEL> "Huh? Well, that's how it usually goes. Yeah. They cook em, we book em."
<STANIEL> "Thank you officer Staniel. Your Honor, I have no further questions."
<The judge indicates that Lady Justice may now cross-examine if she wishes>
<LADY JUSTICE> "Officer Staniel, may I ask you what exactly the MCPD would have typically done in a situation such as that? How would you have contained the woman in question?"
<STANIEL> "In the absence of fabulously costumed crimefighters like yourself. I would call in the MARS squad before the EMTs need a spatula to scrape me off the sidewalk."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Do you believe the Adventurers team acted with intent to save MCPD lives that day then?"
<STANIEL> "Well..Maybe not specifically officers. But I'd hate to be the poor squad leader who would have had to go head-to-head with that-..Uhm, woman."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Given your best guess, who was better equipped to stop her in the moment?"
<STANIEL> "Well, you got powers. But the MARS boys get all the anti-meta gear. Real sci-fi stuff that makes you feel like a badass when you carry it. But eh, considering you actually knew the lady... Best guess? You. Personally, I like my blood where it is. Better you than me, huh?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Do you know why the MCPD used lethal force against the Adventurers?"
<STANIEL> "The uhm, 'suspect' is supposed to be handed over to the proper authorities. I mean, let's be honest, costumed heroics're skirting the edge of what's legal. And unlawful imprisonment is y'know, unlawful."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I see. Let's skip ahead to after the MCPD opened fire as the team fled. Were there any further incidents regarding this assailant? I will remind you that the defendant and Red Spider are two distinct individuals."
<STANIEL> "Eh, seeing as they're not the same person. I guess that was the last we saw of em."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Have you ever heard of Red Spider appearing again?"
<STANIEL> "You're talkin' about the real deal, right? In non-monster form?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "That's correct."
<STANIEL> "Well, if I hadn't, I have now. She's sittin' right there. <points at Red Spider> But eh, yeah. I heard she's been busy doing the hero thing."
<LADY JUSTICE> "So, after the team recovered her, there have been no incidents involving her and she has been helping keep order in the city?"
<STANIEL> "Looks that way t'me."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I have nothing further ask. Thank you for your time, Officer."
- Established that the spider monster of summer 2014 was actually Red Spider, which looks nearly identical to the 2016 'clone' one
- Implicit in this being the 'same' monster is that the Adventurers didn't deal with the problem properly in 2014
- The 'monster' of 2014 attacked police
- The Adventurers failed to turn over a dangerous creature to the MCPD, under whose jurisdiction it should have fallen
- MCPD would have opened fire because, from their POV, the Adventurers were kidnapping a suspect
- Staniel believes that the Adventurers were better prepared to handle the 2014 incident than the MCPD was
- The spider monster of 2014 wasn't seen again after the Adventurers absconded with it - but Red Spider was (ie, the Adventurers ensured that she was 'cured').
This costumed hero is with the Adventurers. Despite being new to the team at the time of the trial, she participated in the battle against the spider-monster which turned out to be a clone. After the fight was over, she attacked a news helicopter to prevent them getting a good look at the de-monsterfied clone.
<KRUGER> "So, Ms. Infinity-Zero. That's your code name right?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "It is."
<KRUGER> "Have you registered with UNTIL or PRIMUS?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "If I did, would I be up here?"
<KRUGER> "I'm going to request that you please answer yes or no."
<KRUGER> "Your honor, I would like permission to treat this witness as hostile." <the judge agrees>
<INFINITY-ZERO> *shakes her head*
<KRUGER> "So you have not registered. Do you believe you are not accountable to the state?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "I think a person has a right to do what they wish, whether it's right or wrong...This is still America isnt it? or at least the America we were promised exists as children."
<KRUGER> "You believe someone has a right to do what they wish. Perhaps you're referencing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "if that means freedom exists in a country that promises it, then yes."
<KRUGER> "So you recognize the Declaration of Independence. Do you recognize our Constitution and its many amendments?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "I recognize it exists, I recognize thousands of hours and hot-air was used making them. does that mean I agree with all of it? no, which I feel is redundant to say considering we already established I've refused to register myself."
<KRUGER> "I mean to establish that you understand the basic tenets of our society and our laws. You are aware that we have statutes against people taking matters into their own hands?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "I'm more than aware, I became 'aware' of it when cops wasted their time hassling me while I saved citizens lives."
<KRUGER> "Police officers have training, are appointed by a civilian commissioner, and can be held accountable for their actions. Do you believe you should be held to the same standard?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "Everyone should be held accountable for their actions."
<KRUGER> "I'm glad you think so." <pause> "Infinity-Zero, what are your powers?"
<Infinity-Zero> "I can enter cyberspace, and exit it freely. I can also control and manipulate electricity. All electricity."
<KRUGER> "I see. What are the origins of these powers?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "Would you prefer the long version, or the short?"
<Infinity-Zero> "Well, it all started one night. I was leaving Millennium city University. the streets were...oddly empty that night. I remember suddenly seeing these strange orbs circling me out of nowhere, then a light. next thing I know I'm strapped to a bed with a group of - a group of grey skinned, red-eyed aliens standing over me. I didn't get a thing they were saying. But eventually they left the room, and I fought and struggled until somehow I got off the bed. I started sneaking around, and my escape caused a panic. I accidentally let all the other prisoners they had abducted free, and in all the chaos I ran into a dark empty room. where I fell in a hole. I don't really remember much when I fell in, but when I came out well, I was this. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I could do enough to break out. kill some aliens, bust a hole in the ship, then fly back to Earth."
<KRUGER> "Would you say those events were quite traumatic for you?"
<KRUGER> "Did you seek psychological help after?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "I didn't. I didn't want anyone to know this happened. I...just wanted to go back to my normal life."
<KRUGER> "A normal life. Is that what you would say you have been living?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "A lot of time has passed since then, Mr. Kruger. Just like how a lot of time has passed since you were saved by who was it again? Oh, that's right. Vigilantes! Superheroes! Funny how our attitudes towards things change isn't it? Prosecuter...
<JUDGE, to the witness> "You're here to answer questions. Tread carefully or I will find you in contempt."
<DREAMWEAVER> "OBJECTION! The, the prosecution was leading the witness."
<JUDGE, to Dreamweaver/LJ> "This is a hearing. Furthermore, Mr. Kruger established that the witness is hostile. He is allowed to handle the witness in a tougher way."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Yes sir, your Honor. I'm sorry."
<KRUGER maintains his cool> "I'm not the one on trial here. Technically neither are you, Infinity-Zero. However, if your side wins their case, a dangerous being will be put in the care of you and your team. Which is why I want to ask, for the safety of Wayne County and its citizens, about an incident from a year ago."
<KRUGER> "I'd like to submit for the court a police reports spanning late 2014, early 2015."
<KRUGER> "In brief, the reports indicate high tech burglaries at several large corporations. Money was stolen, virtually. Cyber crimes unit reported certain key markers on transactions, which indicated the same individual was responsible.
<INFINITY-ZERO> "So what, just because I can cyber-walk that means I did it?"
<KRUGER> "Now..." he reaches into his folder. "I'd like to enter into evidence known cases with Infinity-Zero assisted - apparently virtuously - in defeating several cyber-attacks. The same markers appear to be present."
<INFINITY-ZERO> "Exactly, I've stopped several hackers, and technopaths in cyber-space. People who could shut down the entire country, they're so skilled. Is it so impossible to believe they couldn't be attempting to frame me? I mean, I did kinda mess up their plans after all."
<KRUGER> "Infinity-Zero: are you responsible for the thefts in the 2014-2015 reports?"
<KRUGER> "Have you always asked permission before 'cyber-walking' into a private mainframe?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "Considering, in cyberspace, I would have to fight, break, and kill several security processes to enter a private mainframe without permission? Yes, I have. Killing a non-hostile process in cyberspace is like killing a person in our world."
<KRUGER> "Would you say you normally exercise excellent judgement in whom to attack, then?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "I only attack if I'm attacked first. In this world and cyberspace."
<KRUGER> "Ah. Interesting you should say that. I'd like to enter the following video from local news coverage into evidence. In fact, it's video covering the very event that has led to this hearing."
<he plays the video of the news chopper attack Infinity-Zero committed>
<KRUGER> "Infinity-Zero: was that you in the video, attacking a chopper? Yes or no, please."
<INFINITY-ZERO> "It was, yes."
<KRUGER> "No further questions."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Ms. Infinity. In your own words, please describe your supposed attack on this news helicopter! I remind you that you are under oath!"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "I was protecting the integrity of who we thought was our leader. Every single reporter in this country thinks they can stick their nose in anything they want. I was proving they can't, and shouldn't."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Moving on! Please tell the court what bearing, if any, your background has on the current issue at hand."
<INFINITY-ZERO> "None. I'm a new member, who's asked to help when I'm needed. I'm hardly a leading member of our group."
<KRUGER> "Objection! Irrelevant."
<The judge dispels KRUGER's objection>
<DREAMWEAVER> "Wait really? HA!"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "I believe that, in my opinion. Red Spider and Lady Justice can, and will give her the appropriate treatment she needs, so to answer your question. Yes, I do believe under their watch she would pose no threat to us, the people of this world, or herself."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Thank you. Now, our esteemed opposition has so helpfully pointed out some issues between the police and yourself. Reminding you that you are under oath, would you say that these negative experiences represent the majority of your um. Meetings with them?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "I've never attacked the police, I've never caused them any harm, or wished to. And in regards to that chopper: I had no intention of harming them, I only wanted to destroy the camera mounted on it."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Ms. Infinity. I, um."
<DREAMWEAVER suddenly departs the court room>
<JUDGE> "Um. I take it we'll be going for an early recess. Court is in recess. One hour."
<Court resumes. Infinity-Zero is asked back to the witness stand, and sworn in again.>
<LADY JUSTICE begins by apologizing to the court for not being there earlier, explaining that she observed a crime in progress near the building>
<LADY JUSTICE> "Ms. Zero, why did you attempt to disable the camera on the helicopter?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "As I said, I wanted to protect the integrity of who we thought was our leader. The events that happened that day were for us and the police to know. Not nosey reporters looking for a fluff piece."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Thank you. Now I'd to ask your experiences without the team. Are the Adventurers the only ones you've lent your assistance to?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "No, they aren't."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Who else have you made a habit of assisting?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "5 months ago I was in Hong Kong, aiding in taking down a super-villain group by going undercover. I was working as an independent hire for UNTIL."
<LADY JUSTICE> "UNTIL approached you to work for them then?"
<INFINITY-ZERO> "They did, yes."
<LADY JUSTICE> "So since acquiring your abilities you have worked with a hero team and international law enforcement? Do I have your resume correct, Miss Zero?
<INFINITY-ZERO> "That's right, yes."
<LADY JUSTICE> "A productive use of your time for sure. I have nothing further to ask right now."
<The judge excuses Infinity-Zero from the witness stand.>
- Kruger establishes Infinity-Zero is an unregistered hero and attempts to make her sound disdainful of duly-appointed police, and ignorant of the law where it affects her
- Kruger tries to make Infinity-Zero sound like an untreated victim of trauma
- He shows inconsistencies in Infinity-Zero's discipline
- Kruger highlights that if the clone is freed, that it would be left in the care of people like Infinity-Zero
- More context is added to the helicopter incident
- Lady Justice establishes that law enforcement has sought out Infinity-Zero for her help, legitimizing some of her work.
- The record shows that Infinity-Zero participated in missions to defeat super villains
<Dreamweaver is sworn in. Kruger begins his questioning of her.>
<KRUGER> "Code-name Dreamweaver. Are you registered with UNTIL or PRIMUS?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Yes, I am. UNTIL."
<KRUGER> "That makes you one of a very few on your team. Did you tell your secret identity to them?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "To whom? My team, or the organization to which I am registered?"
<KRUGER> "With those whom you have registered."
<DREAMWEAVER> "No I did not. Health concerns."
<KRUGER> "Why did you register with them?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Seemed like the thing to do."
<KRUGER> "Oh really? What benefit did you get from doing so?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "For one, I'm not constantly hassled about being unregistered."
<KRUGER> "Did you know that the vast majority of registered meta-humans are required to give their secret identities?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Yep! Why?"
<KRUGER> "Then you also understand that a key reason for that is accountability - that meta-humans who step out of line can be held accountable?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Yes sir."
<KRUGER> "Would you agree that without knowing your secret identity, the organization you have registered with would have a very difficult time holding you accountable for acts of destruction you might perpetrate?"
<DREAMWEAVER> ""Well... someone there knows my identity. I had to plead my case for keeping it unlisted, though. So... to answer your earlier question... yes, they do know my real name. I guess I could have saved you some time there."
<KRUGER> "Thank you for being truthful on that matter."
<DREAMWEAVER> "I was just trying to be honest! And then it got weird."
<KRUGER> "So you did, in fact, trust your secret identity to an organization. The defense is contending that the defendant being put on trial would be a harm to the secret identity of another person. Do you agree that it would be harmful?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "I do, unequivocally."
<KRUGER> "But to date, it has not been a harm to you, your identity being known to legitimate authorities?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "I believe there's risk either way. If UNTIL were to be hacked, my name could be put out there."
<KRUGER> "I didn't ask about the risks involved, I asked if, to date, you have suffered harm for sharing your identity with legitimate authorities?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Well, no. But to remind you, my name isn't actually in the database, as far as I know. I made my case to prevent that!"
<KRUGER> "I will refer to the record - that the witness did indicate that one person in the organization knows her real name, and that she has answered in the negatory about suffering harm for doing so. Now on to something else."
<KRUGER takes some photos out of the folder, and shows them to Dreamweaver. They are of Poison Lash>
<KRUGER> "Can you identify this individual?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Yeah. That's Poison Lash, right? We've fought him!"
<KRUGER> "I'm submitting for state's evidence UNTIL reports indicating that this subject is code-name Poison Lash and is currently incarcerated. Tell me about your association with this detainee."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Association? We're enemies."
<KRUGER> "Before we probe that relationship further, tell me - how did you get your powers?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "An accident."
<KRUGER> "And what powers did you have after said accident?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Um, well... telekinesis and empathic control? Not telepathy. Let me be very clear on that."
<KRUGER> "Did you lose any abilities in the accident?"
<KRUGER> "Oh really? So there was at no point anything which Poison Lash offered to restore for you?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Objection... relevance?"
<JUDGE> "What are you getting at here, counsellor?"
<KRUGER> "I assure you, your honor, I have UNTIL records which speak to a pattern of questionable behavior. The witness's long standing with her team and repeated visits to the defendant indicate that she will be someone of importance to the dangerous individual around which this hearing revolves."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Objection, her being dangerous has yet to be established!"
<JUDGE> "Objection denied. That's what we're here to determine."
<DREAMWEAVER> ""Right. So, uh okay, what was the question?"
<KRUGER> "Let's cut to the point, shall we? UNTIL recordings and visitor logs indicate you and your team visited Poison Lash numerous times in late 2014, early 2015."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Right, we needed information to stop an evil plot!"
<KRUGER> "One of his so-called 'evil plots' was restoring your ability to walk, was it not?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "How? Yes."
<KRUGER> "It was spoken of openly between your team and Poison Lash while he was in UNTIL detention. Speaking of, I'm entering video logs into evidence. Would you say that Poison Lash, this enemy, this purveyor of 'evil plots' - had leverage over you at that time?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "No! Um, first of all, those videos have some- private emotiony moments I'm not comfortable with you sharing. But, but anyway no, he didn't have leverage. I refused his deal or whatever."
<KRUGER> "So at no time did he restore the use of your legs?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "He did, against my will I'd like to point out."
<KRUGER> "You would say that you normally make good decisions?"
<KRUGER> "In fact your honor, the county would like to enter into evidence eight videos of the witness engaged in public intoxication while in costume."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Eight? Oh come on, that's... excessive..."
<KRUGER> "County would also like to enter into evidence video circulated around the internet by code-name Cyber-Slash."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Hey, c... come on, that isn't even relevant."
<The video shows the time Dreamweaver picked a fight with Cyber-Slash, and lost>
<DREAMWEAVER> "I'd like to say for the record that Cyber-Slash and I made up and are super-best-friends now."
<KRUGER> "You do realize that Cyber-Slash is still wanted for assaulting MCPD officers, break and enter, burglary, and a host of other charges?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Redact that. I mean, uh, statement retracted! What I mean is, I haven't seen her in a long time. Barely knew her!"
<KRUGER> "The conditions of this hearing leave you immune to prosecution, Dreamweaver. But the court has a record of your statements."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Okay. Um, moving on."
<KRUGER> "I have only one further question for you. Do you plan to take a role in assisting the defendant after this hearing, whatever its outcome?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Y- um. Which answer is the good one?"
<KRUGER> "Yes or no, please."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Oh! I know. I'm definitely willing to take a role unless my assistance would be undesirable."
<KRUGER> "No further questions, your honor."
<JUDGE, to LADY JUSTICE> "Counsel, do you wish to recess at this time, or proceed?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I ask for a short recess your Honor."
<JUDGE strikes the gavel> "Court is in recess. 30 minutes."
<The judge calls the secret hearing back. Dreamweaver is sworn in again. The judge invites Lady Justice to cross-examine the witness.>
<LADY JUSTICE> "Thank you. Dreamweaver how long have you been without the use of your legs?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "About six years now."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Since then you've had to use a wheelchair or the assistance of your powers, is that correct?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Yes ma'am."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Six years without the ability to walk, run, dance, things we all take for granted. You told Poison Lash no. Why?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Oh, right. Well, his thing let me walk but took away my powers. Plus, he was a crazy super villain. I didn't want to owe him anything, and I also wanted to keep my powers so I could keep being a hero. To help people!"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Thank you. Would you say you've had a problem with drinking in the past?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Yes. I mean, yes, I have, ma'am. I mean, I would. I would say."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Your mobility wasn't the only thing the accident took from you. Your lost a parent, correct?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Yes. Um, my mother, that's correct."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Could you tell the court about what it was first like gaining your empathic abilities? Was it an easy transition?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Not at all. No one knew I had gained abilities, so I woke up in a hospital. Without control of my powers, I sort of... feel everyone's emotions, around me. So I was actually lucky to have my powers identified. There was talk that I'd gone insane. So... it took a while, to even get them under enough control that I could function."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Would you say you're functional? Despite losing your mother, your ability to walk, and having to fend off the emotions of everyone around you, UNTIL has validated you as a hero."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Uh yes, I'd say I'm functional, now."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Did joining the Adventurers facilitate that in any way to you?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Heh yeah, actually. It really helped, having people who cared. You guys made me a better person! Not sure if you'd all agree, but-"
<LADY JUSTICE> "May I ask how the team assisted you? Does anything stand out in your mind?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Well, they took a stand on me getting drunk in costume pretty quick! And they're friends, and you know, they supported me."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Hmm, held accountable for how you act in public and supported with friendship. Is that how everyone is treated?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Well, sure! We're all pretty much on good terms! We try to be there for each other, I'd like to think!"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I think that's all for now, Ms. Weaver."
- Dreamweaver's public intoxication, possible temptation by super-villains (Poison Lash), public drunkenness, admitted friendship with known fugitive Cyber-Slash, all used against her credibility
- Prosecutor has her admit she would likely be of assistance to the defendant after the trial - problematic considering her questionable past decisions
- Dreamweaver's past indiscretions characterized as being behind her, and as the result of understandable psychological trauma
- Dreamweaver shown to make responsible - and difficult - decision to turn down Poison Lash's offer
- Dreamewaver was positively affected by her association with the team
<Stormherald is sworn in by the bailiff. Kruger is then yielded the floor for his questions.>
<KRUGER> "Code name Stormherald. Is your secret identity registered with UNTIL or PRIMUS?"
<STORMHERALD> "I believe PRIMUS knows me, yes."
<KRUGER> "Do you believe you have suffered in any way for sharing your identity with PRIMUS?"
<STORMHERALD> "They haven't... deigned to bug me much, so no."
<KRUGER> "On February the First of this year, you participated in the action against the defendant, is that correct?"
<STORMHERALD> "I did, yes."
<KRUGER> "Would you agree that the defendant was a significant public safety risk at the time?"
<STORMHERALD> "At the time, yeah."
<KRUGER> "Did the defendant cause significant property damage on that date?"
<KRUGER> "Were lives lost as a result of the defendant's rampage?"
<KRUGER> "You were the first to investigate the laboratory where the defendant originated - first after the rampage, to be clear. Correct?"
<STORMHERALD> "If anyone came before me I wasn't aware."
<KRUGER> "That's good enough." <he grabs a folder> "I would like to enter into evidence crime scene photos taken by the MCPD." <he shows them to Stormherald> "Was this the state you found it?"
<KRUGER> "Oh? How does your memory differ from this police record of the crime scene at the laboratory?"
<STORMHERALD> "The um defendant was there when I got there. In one of the stasis tubes. Didn't know that's what it was at the time."
<KRUGER> "That's odd. According to custody papers from UNTIL, the defendant was already in UNTIL custody. You mean the individual from whom the defendant was cloned?"
<STORMHERALD> "Erm, yes. Well, they were both there when I got there."
<KRUGER> "I will note for the record that an agreed statement of facts with UNTIL suggests that only the original code-name Red Spider was found at the laboratory. The Adventurers turned over the clone to UNTIL's custody immediately following the rampage. In any case, putting aside who you found alive in the laboratory. You found numerous dead bodies there, isn't that correct?"
<KRUGER> "Could you estimate how many?"
<STORMHERALD> "I guess... a couple dozen? I didn't get a chance to make a count."
<KRUGER> "That's accurate. Nineteen bodies were recovered. Entering into evidence coroner's reports - blunt force trauma, all."
<KRUGER> "Would you say that your team mate code name Red Spider is powerful enough to kill nineteen people at once? I mean under normal circumstances, not when she's a monster."
<STORMHERALD> "Well, no."
<KRUGER> "So in your estimation, the killings were committed by someone in the monster form?"
<STORMHERALD> "That's what I said, yes."
<KRUGER> "What led you to the laboratory?"
<STORMHERALD> "I was following- erm- Red-Two's trail. Trying to see where she came from. Led me to the lab. Almost straight there."
<KRUGER> "So from the site of the battle where you apprehended the defendant, the trail of destruction led back to the lab?"
<KRUGER> "According to an UNTIL dossier, your powers include a hammer?"
<STORMHERALD> "Yeah, they do."
<KRUGER> "The hammer is the source of any powers you have?"
<STORMHERALD> "It's like the sole source of my power, what difference does that make?"
<KRUGER> "I'm arriving to a point here, but allow me to ask the questions. So how did you acquire this hammer?"
<STORMHERALD> "I found it on a beach. Had seaweed and other detritus on it, think it washed ashore. Picked it up, had a spirited conversation with someone, took it home."
<KRUGER> "Conversation with whom?"
<STORMHERALD> "Don't know."
<KRUGER> "Can you describe the person?"
<STORMHERALD> "Nope! Wasn't a person. That I could see anyway."
<KRUGER> "This conversation... what was the substance of it?"
<STORMHERALD> "A job interview. Sort of."
<KRUGER> "What would you speculate the origin of the hammer is?"
<STORMHERALD> "I- I couldn't begin to guess. Until I found that thing I never ran into anything more super than a car."
<The JUDGE intervenes> "Mr. Kruger, you need to get a point very rapidly here."
<KRUGER> "Pardon the tangent, your honor. But Stormherald, you started using a hammer you didn't know the origins of, guided by voices of people you couldn't see. Tell me, no matter what happens in result of this hearing, do you think you will be a presence in the life of the defendant?"
<STORMHERALD> "I suppose that's her decision, isn't it?"
<JUDGE> "You will need to answer the question."
<STORMHERALD> "If the defendant wants me in her life, then yes. I would be fine with that."
<KRUGER> "No further questions, your honor."
<JUDGE, to LJ> "Your witness, counsellor."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Since we've already established you at the incident earlier this month I'd like to ask you about the defendant's mental state. Do you believe she was fully aware of her actions that day?"
<STORMHERALD> "No, I don't think so."
<LADY JUSTICE> "May I ask what led you to that conclusion?"
<STORMHERALD> "When she stopped rampaging, she didn't seem cognizant, of where she was. Maybe that was just the hunger, but it didn't go away. It took a couple days just for her to speak, I think."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Yes, that is correct as the record will show regarding the surveillance footage. Do you think that the involvement of the individuals at the lab directly caused this tragedy?"
<STORMHERALD> "I believe what I saw in that building strongly suggests that, yes."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Yet we are here discussing her culpability anyways. Let me move on to the team's reaction to the incident. When the Adventurers engaged, was there a plan in place to deal with what you thought at the time was Red Spider? Mind you I'm not asking for exact details. I just want to know if there was one."
<STORMHERALD> "Think at the time we were more concerned with stopping the rampage. We'd figure out what to do when she was subdued. You know, one problem at a time."
<LADY JUSTICE> "And it was decided among you that once she was subdued you'd hand her over to UNTIL. Why?"
<STORMHERALD> "Because we didn't think we'd have the- facilities, to contain her if she- monstered- out again."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I see. To your knowledge has Red Spider ever had issues with unexpected transformations?"
<STORMHERALD> "I'm... led to believe the affliction suffered by the um, defendant was once Red's. But she's never had issues since I signed up."
<LADY JUSTICE> "As for that hammer of yours, you said you interviewed for it? What was the hammer's main concern? Using it for good? Something like that?"
<STORMHERALD> "In a manner of speaking, yeah I did. She - or he I guess I dunno - asked about my character, what I'd do, if I understood responsibility. I dunno what would have happened if I'd answered wrong.
<LADY JUSTICE> "Responsibility and character? Stormherald if you were to walk outside right now could you summon that hammer?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Then I have nothing further to ask of you."
- Stormherald bore witness to carnage caused by the monster, including 19 deaths
- She agrees that at the time, the monster was a significant public safety risk
- Kruger tries to cast Stormherald as a poor influence for the defendant by probing the unusual story of how she came by her powers
- Stormherald believes that the lab technicians were the root cause of the rampage; her look at the ruined laboratory suggested that
- The team responsibly turned the monster over to UNTIL after they subdued it
- Red Spider has never had a monster relapse as long as Stormherald has been on the team - which bodes well for the clone, her mutation is manageable.
- Stormherald's hammer seemed interested in her using its power for good - so far as she can tell
<LJ is sworn in by the bailiff.>
<KRUGER> "Well, well, well, where to begin? "
<LADY JUSTICE> "It is not."
<KRUGER> "It's interesting that you of all of your team mates is standing forward as counsel in this hearing. You have a checkered past with duly appointed authorities, don't you?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Their faith in me is appreciated, as always. And yes, you are correct regarding my past."
<KRUGER> "I thank you for your honesty on that. I have eight police reports here of reported assaults upon uniformed officers, committed by a costumed woman with a blindfold. Description matches one of your older costumes. So reminding you that a condition of your participation here is that you are immune to charges emerging from your testimony- will you admit that this was you?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "It was me."
<KRUGER> "We're off to a good start!" <he goes to retrieve a set of documents bound with a paperclip> "What can you tell me about Operation Blindfold?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "It was an attempt to capture me. It didn't work."
<KRUGER> "Indeed, let the record show that according to MCPD records, the operation failed, with numerous minor injuries to officers, and some expensive damage to taxpayer-funded vehicles. And that was you who caused those injuries and that damage, correct?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "That's correct. Upon gaining advance warning of the attempt I tried to use the least extreme measures possible."
<KRUGER> "Your team is led by Red Spider, correct?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Correct."
<KRUGER> "You are a senior member of the team, though?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Yes, I am."
<KRUGER> "You have been called upon to lead the team, on occasion?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Quite a few times."
<KRUGER> "Were you in a leadership role on February the First of this year, when the defendant was on her rampage?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I led the team in containing Red Spider's clone."
<KRUGER> "I want to go into your recollections of the events of July of 2014 - the last time you saw a creature like the one you encountered last February First. Can you confirm for the court that the creature you fought and captured on July 10th, 2014, was in fact Red Spider?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Yes, that was her."
<KRUGER> "As we previously established, the MCPD should have taken custody of the creature after your street battle with it. Whose decision was it to run off with it?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "It was a joint one. After the police opened fire I believe we were all on the same page."
<KRUGER> "Where did you take the creature?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "An undisclosed location with a holding facility. We began work on assessing her condition and finding ways to counter it. Which we did."
<KRUGER> "Ah, so you are medically trained?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "My background is relevant to assisting individuals via the use of technology."
<KRUGER> "So you claim you were able to assess her condition. What was the cause of it?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "A previously unencountered viral agent, developed by a known criminal entity."
<KRUGER> "A viral agent? ... Well. You say you treated it. How do you account for the same affliction appearing in the clone?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Because my nanotech cure cannot be cloned thus when she awoke, she did not have the protection that Red Spider has. Do you understand, Mr. Kruger?"
<JUDGE strikes his gavel at Lady Justice's snappy remark>
<JUDGE> "That'll be enough of that."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I meant no disrespect, your honor. This is a complex topic."
<KRUGER> "It's complex, for certain. We'll defer to your expertise. So. If the clone has the same virus, does it stand to reason that the original still has traces of virus?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Following the first event I made sure to repeatedly check her. There was no traces of the virus I could find."
<KRUGER> "None that you could find. After the February 1st 2016 incident you sought UNTIL's help. But you didn't in July 2014?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Aside from UNTIL's superior facilities and medical staff it was a leap of faith. I wanted to show my commitment to ending our feud."
<KRUGER> "That explains your actions this year. But why didn't you seek their help in 2014, what were the reasons?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "The police had already opened fire on us. I didn't trust them to treat her humanely or to consider my nanotech approach, which I believed to be the best option."
<KRUGER> "But we already know you're in the habit of taking matters into your own hands." <he picks up a stack of photos, puts the photos in front of her> "Can you identify this vehicle?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "It's a Hawkwing Interceptor."
<KRUGER> "In fact, you have that one in your possession do you not?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I have one in my possession, yes."
<KRUGER> "Perhaps you will delight the court with some of that honesty you showed early on, and tell us how and where you acquired it?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I acquired it two years ago when investigating mob activity in Westside. There were rumors of a power shift involving heavy weaponry. I managed to uncover that one of the gangs had procured the vehicle and was using it to knock out rival assets."
<KRUGER> "So you 'liberated' it from thieves?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Yes. I believe that the military was complicit with selling the vehicle off the books. As you can imagine, I have been reluctant to return it to them."
<KRUGER> "Did it ever occur to you that you have stolen from the American taxpayer?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "It occured to me that I was keeping people safe from thugs and a corrupt military authority."
<KRUGER> "That's a slick justification. Have you upgraded its destructive capabilities?"
<KRUGER> "I'm coming to my point, your honor. This individual admits to possessing stolen property with destructive capability. She may bear some responsibility for the monster matter not being put to rest two years ago once and for all by her decision not to seek UNTIL's assistance at the time. Further, it's the state's case that the defendant must not be allowed to associate with these dangerous persons."
<JUDGE> "I'll allow your questions, but wrap it up Mr. Kruger, you're straying from the path."
<KRUGER> "Thank you, your honor. The armament of your vehicle, please?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "The vehicle has an underside turret, two forward gun mounting, and two slots designed for missiles."
<KRUGER> "Are you certified to operate that class of vehicle?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I have no certifications. It is important that you note that there are no military-grade ammunitions being used on that vehicle."
<KRUGER> "Given your leadership position with your team - would you agree it is likely you would be a presence in the life of the clone after this hearing?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "If she wishes it, yes. If she does not, then no."
<KRUGER> "You know her well enough, or at least the person she is based upon. Do you believe she will wish it?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Objection, the prosecution's entire case is based on the defendant being a different individual."
<KRUGER> "I'd argue the question is fair, your honor. The statement of facts notes that the clone and Red Spider share most of the same memories. It's a reasoned intuition I'm asking for."
<DREAMWEAVER> "I'll retract my objection, your Honor."
<JUDGE, to LJ> "Proceed."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Red Spider typically relies on me for help regarding team activities. She does not rely on me personally. Since the defendant is not a member of this team I don't see her using me as a resource."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Objection, doctor-patient confidentiality?"
<KRUGER> "Patient privilege doesn't apply, I'm only asking if she did, not what for."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Most of her medical assistance has been rendered when she's in duress, but on occasion she's asked regarding my treatment. I was under the impression she had her own medical doctor now."
<KRUGER> "So she has, and perhaps the clone is conditioned to do the same. No further questions."
<DREAMWEAVER> "I'd like to object on his use of the word 'conditioned' but- eh."
<JUDGE, to Dreamweaver> "You'll have your chance to put a different view during cross. You're up."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Ms. Justice- let's start with this controversy about identity and weaponry."
<LADY JUSTICE> "As you wish."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Are you familiar with the Champions, the city's - nay, America's - premier super team?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I am familiar with them."
<DREAMWEAVER> "And of their famous leader, considered the greatest American hero, Defender?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I'm aware of him."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Is it not true that no one knows his real name? Almost as if he is not registered?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I don't know his name, that's true. I'm not familiar with his registration status though."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Are you also familiar with the fact that his armor has a very large minigun that springs from his shoulder?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I'm aware of that."
<DREAMWEAVER> "It seems that if Mr. Kruger has a problem with heroes having privacy and weaponry, he should be bringing it up with not only Mr. Defender, but with AMERICA. Moving on. Ms. Justice, would you say that team mate Red Spider, as of several months ago, has fairly good judgement? Knows the difference between right and wrong?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I have complete confidence in her. She does."
<DREAMWEAVER> "And would you agree with Mr. Kruger that the defendant has Red Spider's memories, up to at least several months ago?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "The findings suggest that she does."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Do you believe that the Red Spider of several months ago - who, as Mr. Kruger maintains, is the basis of the defendant - would be so easily swayed by 'bad influences'?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "If the defendant has Red Spider's moral code already built into her than I think nothing of the sort would sway her."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Thank you. Now, going back to the nano-tech cure that you developed... has Red Spider reverted to her monstrous form since this cure was administered?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Never."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Is this cure replicatable? And would it, conceivably, work on the defendant just as well as on Red Spider?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "It is, and if I'm not incorrect it has already been used. I provided it to UNTIL the same day she was brought in."
<DREAMWEAVER> "I'd like for that to be checked up on later, please."
<JUDGE, to Dreamweaver> "You can check on the status of that and introduce it during the defense round."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Alright. Anyway. Miss Justice. In the original incident involving Red Spider, you said that the police began firing on you? Was any warning given? Was this before or after she reverted to human form?"
"I tried to talk with them, but I believe they mistook it as an attack. They had sectioned off the area and had weapons raised in case Red tried to come through."
<DREAMWEAVER> "I see... did that happen often to you? The MCPD engaging in unprovoked attacks against you? Also, was Red unconscious or incapacitated at that time?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Before Operation Blindfold, they frequently would make attempts. They have left me alone since that."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Red wasn't conscious at the time we retreated."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Interesting... is it not standard police protocol for injured and unconscious criminals to be taken to medical facilities, and NOT fired upon?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "They fired on me, and by extension her. I had assumed they were supposed to do that, yes."
<DREAMEWAVER> "Personally, it sounds to me as if you had a good reason to be in conflict with the MCPD."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Do you believe any available facilities, medical or... prison..al... could have held Red Spider in her monstrous form?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I believed we were the best option at the time. I was unaware of UNTIL's facilities, or the MCPD's."
<DREAMWEAVER> "And now that you are, you turned over the defendant to UNTIL at the first opportunity. And the evidence clearly shows that your facilities were satisfactory for the original incident."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Plus, you provided the cure for the defendant's condition. And Mr. Kruger has helped prove that the defendant has the morals, judgement, and intelligence of Red Spider. Who, other than certain registration issues, is an upstanding member of the heroic community, despite leading a team consisting of... well, us. And finally, for the record, your relationship with the MCPD and UNTIL is greatly improved in no small part due to your own efforts, yes?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I've been working on it. "Recently I've been providing them both anonymous help, and physical assistance when asked for."
<DREAMAWEAVER> "Thank you, Ms. Justice. No further questions."
<JUDGE dismisses LJ from the stand>
<JUDGE> "We'll adjourn for the day." *gavel!!*
- Kruger grills LJ over her many past run-ins with the law
- He tries to make it sound as though LJ's choice not to seek UNTIL's help in 2014 allowed the monster problem to hold over to 2016
- As he has with others, Kruger tries to make LJ sound like an unfit companion for the clone, given her many questionable choices
- Lady Justice confirms Red Spider has a good moral code, which by extension must mean the clone does too
- Lady Justice treated Red Spider's condition and there were no relapses; the same could be done for the clone
- MCPD opened fire on the Adventurers in July 2014 which endangered monster-Red after she was unconscious; absconding with her may have saved her life
A last minute witness introduced after the defence rested by the prosecution. The unusual breach of court procedure was agreed by both sides and the judge.
<KRUGER> "So Blue Wonder. Are you registered with an agency such as UNTIL or PRIMUS?"
<BLUE WONDER> "I am indeed."
<KRUGER> "How long have you been?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Since I started my hero career in my teens. Never saw a need not to follow the law."
<KRUGER> "Oh, so during your entire time with the Adventurers, your secret identity was known to government agencies?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Ever since I became Blue Wonder my real identity has been known to the whole world, government agencies included."
<KRUGER> "Would you say you have ever suffered harm because of your identity being known?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Can't say that I have but I come from a family of heroes, so we aren't really messed with."
<KRUGER> "So you had training. You had no need to hide behind a mask. You could be held accountable. So how did you end up in the Adventurers?"
<BLUE WONDER> "I shared a drink at Club Caprice with Red Spider. At the time she was about to shutter the team. I offered to help her rebuild and she took me up on it."
<KRUGER> "That was in spring of 2014, correct?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Correct."
<KRUGER> "You were present on the team during the events of July 2014, when it is known that Red Spider mutated into an uncontrollable monster?"
<BLUE WONDER> "I was there, yes."
<KRUGER> "I think the court has heard enough of the Adventurers account of those events. Tell me- broad strokes, did they make any serious mistakes in that case?"
<BLUE WONDER> "In a lucid moment Red Spider named me team leader and I can say, yes. We made mistakes with her handling."
<KRUGER> "Before we proceed on this line of inquiry - you are a life-long costumed hero. Can you estimate the number of incidents in which you have saved lives?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Oh that number is countless by now."
<KRUGER> "You've served all over the globe, and off of it as well, correct?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Correct."
<KRUGER, to the judge> "I would like to have Blue Wonder declared an expert given her vast experience over a long period of time in the area of superheroics."
<JUDGE, to LJ> "Any objections?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "I object."
<JUDGE> "Approach the bench."
<They discuss in confidence>
<JUDGE> "Mr Kruger your witness is more of a character witness than a technical one. I'm ruling in favor of the defence." *gavel*
<KRUGER> "Blue Wonder... we spoke of mistakes. After Red Spider monster was captured and taken to an Adventurers hideout, was her captivity free of incident?"
<BLUE WONDDER> "No. We actually at first didn't even take her to the base. We took her unsecured back to her apartment."
<KRUGER> "Surely the apartment had... security measures of some kind? Ones that would keep a population-dense apartment block safe from a ravenous monster?"
<BLUE WONDER> "None at all. It was your standard apartment."
<KRUGER> "Was no one in the vicinity warned of the danger she posed?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Her identity is a secret so of course not."
<KRUGER> "Would it be accurate to say that concerns over her secret identity trumped public safety?"
<BLUE WONDER> "It wasn't thought out either way. We just wanted to take her some place she would be comfortable until we could come up with a plan to cure her."
<KRUGER> "At some later date, after the MCPD fire-fight, she was contained in a more secure area. Was that captivity free of incident?"
<BLUE WONDER> "After she broke free from the apartment and went on asecond rampage we contained her and took her to the now destroyed base. She was place in force field that she once again broke free from."
<KRUGER> "And then what happened?"
<BLUE WONDER> "We fought her back down but it nearly cost the lives of myself and Lady Justice. She's lucky her suit restarted her heart."
<KRUGER> "I don't understand, the Adventurers made it sound like she was contained easily until she was treated. You're saying they actually lost control of the monster?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Correct."
<KRUGER> "And you and the defence counsel almost lost your lives?"
<KRUGER brings a stack of photos to Blue Wonder> "These are pictures of our defendant in her mutated state. Does this look similar to what nearly killed you?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Yes. It looks nearly identical to the one for 2014."
<KRUGER> "A creature like this, your team captured and has claimed under oath to have had under control - they didn't, actually?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Not at all times. It took a while to get her there
<KRUGER> "No further questions."
<JUDGE, to LJ> "Your witness."
<LADY JUSTICE> "You're a sanctioned hero, known the world over. Is that correct?"
<BLUE WONDER> "That's correct."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Have you received training from the agencies you're associated with?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Very little. I'm a third generation hero trained by my mother and grandmother with histories going back to the second world war."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I see. The prosecution thinks you're competent enough to be considered an expert. Do you believe you are highly competent in your role?"
<BLUE WONDER> "I believe so as does every agency on this planet that has asked for my help on more than one occation."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Why did you order the Adventurers to take Red Spider to an apartment then?"
<BLUE WONDER> "At the time she had morhed back into a human state. We didn't have enough info on her condition to know how she would change back. We just wanted to make her comfortable."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Were you or were you not appointed the temporary leader of the team?"
<BLUE WONDER> "I was."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Then you believe you made an error in judgement in choosing to take here there?"
<BLUE WONDER> "In hindsight, yes."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Did you make similar mistakes in having her contained in the team's former stronghold?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Well she did rampage the base and nearly killed you and I, so yes, I would say mistakes were made."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I'm asking if you believe you made a mistake in ordering that. You, a sanctioned hero, were in charge."
<BLUE WONDER> "She should have been turned over to people that could properly contain her, so yes, it was a mistake to take her there."
<LADY JUSTICE> "In the course of this event did you ever contact your associated in law enforcement for aide? I imagine you have plenty."
<BLUE WONDER> "No. We believed we could handle our business in house. A sentiment you agreed with as second in command."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Then perhaps we're not so different. Was it true that you often served as the team's liaison to the public and law enforcement?"
<BLUE WONDER> "At the time I was the only registered hero on the team. It made sense that I was."
<LADY JUSTICE> "You were already quite used to talking to them then?"
<BLUE WONDER> "Indeed."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I'm sure you recalled that Red Spider received treatment for her condition. Did you believe that she was stable after that?"
<BLUE WONDER> "She seemed to be and gave no indications of relapse."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Thank you. Why did you leave the Adventurers, Ms. Taylor?"
<BLUE WONDER> "I'm not sure what the relevence of that has to do with this case."
<KRUGER> "Objection! Relevance."
<JUDGE, to LJ> "Where are you going with this?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Blue Wonder admits to having ordered the mistakes Mr. Kruger has pointed out during the incident in 2014. Her departure might shed light on those issues."
<JUDGE> "You're given some extra leeway to question harder on cross, but I want to see how you make that point. Overruled. Carry on."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Do you care to describe why you departed, Blue Wonder?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Very well. I left due to two reasons. Mainly was due to a bad falling out I had with Red Spider and secondly was breaking up with the counsellor here and no longer sleeping together."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Objection! As we've just heard, the defense and the witness were in a relationship that ended badly, I motion to throw out her testimony due to... um... that... thing. Where you're personally - involved and can't make an unbiased... judgment."
<LADY JUSTICE> "She is not the representing the defence."
<JUDGE> *gavel* "Order, order!"
<JUDGE, to LJ> "Counsellor this seems to be a conflict of interest. Do you have a qualified substitute to carry on this line of questioning? It's either that, or get off this line of questioning. Your choice, counsellor."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I'm satisfied. I have nothing further to ask her."
<JUDGE> "The witness is excused."
- Blue Wonder has thrived as a hero even being publicly registered & her identity widely known
- The team actually didn't contain Red Spider monster of 2014 - in an early stage she was kept in an apartment with no safeguards, then later when in holding she still escaped and nearly killed two Adventurers
- It could be construed that the Adventurers showed more concern for Red's secret identity than for public safety
- Blue Wonder testifies she was the appointed acting leader of the team during Red Spider's 2014 mutation crisis; LJ pins the team's shortcomings in addressing the crisis entirely on Blue Wonder
- Blue Wonder left the team due to emotional circumstances between her & Red Spider / her & Lady Justice. It calls into question her motivations for testifying against the team.
Witnesses - Defence
<Court is in session. The judge asks KRUGER if he has more witnesses to call; KRUGER indicates he does not. Judge says LJ may call her first defense witness>
<LADY JUSTICE> "I call Red Spider to the stand."
<Red Spider is sworn in.>
<LADY JUSTICE> "Red Spider can you tell me what your role is regarding the Adventurers?"
<RED SPIDER> "I am a founding member of the team. Some of the team look to me for leadership."
<LADY JUSTICE> "What exactly does that entail?"
<RED SPIDER> "I... recruit. Um. You know, I vet heroes to join, I... help decide our direction and undertakings."
<LADY JUSTICE> "What kind of qualities do you look for when you consider new additions?"
<RED SPIDER> "There's a lot of things. I want to make sure that they are in it for the right reasons. That they are able to work as a team. That they value ideals of our laws and society."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Most of your team has a relationship with law enforcement in a positive way. Some do not. Did you consider this before you recruited those members?"
<RED SPIDER> "Of course. But I've found a, um, questionable past shouldn't be the first, last, and only word on someone. Some people have been to the darkest depths of humanity, and come back from that to just try to keep regular people out of trouble, protect them from those things."
<LADY JUSTICE> "So you view their potential as greater than the sum of their past?"
<RED SPIDER> "Yes, yes."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Can you tell me how the team handles individuals who err in the course of their duties?"
<RED SPIDER> "We've put sanctions on them. You know, limit the resources of ours they have access to. We make sure to train with them. But I do everything I can to get them back on track."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Do you believe your team provides a stable environment that encourages positive behavior?"
<RED SPIDER> "Yes, I do. I think we hold each other accountable."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Accountable? Hmm. You've seen improvement then that you can evidence in your team's behavior?
Dreamweaver's public intoxication, Zero damaging property, my own contention with UNTIL?"
<RED SPIDER> "I can think of some members who started out really... rough. Meltdowner for example. But in his time with us, he's really reformed. Dreamweaver had some issues to work out. I think there's enough on the record about the troubles she had, but it helped being with a group of, you know, good, decent people like her. Zero also gave her defense on the copter matter. She was trying to protect... me. Who she thought was me. And you... well, I think you've gone from being an enemy to law enforcement, to being someone they can kinda work with. That's a big step."
<LADY JUSTICE> "I agree," she smirks. "Now let's talk about you. Can you tell me about your condition?"
<RED SPIDER> "I guess you're referring to the mutation virus. In 2014 a cabal of super criminals called the Syndicate kidnapped me and infected me with that as revenge for putting one of their people behind bars."
<LADY JUSTICE> "What is the nature of the infection?"
<RED SPIDER> "I believe it was an alien retrovirus. It combined human, spider, and alien DNA to turn me into a grotesque creature. The idea was to make me into a weapon against my team, either for them to kill me or me to kill them when I transformed."
<LADY JUSTICE> "That didn't happen though. What did your team do when you transformed?"
<RED SPIDER> "They did their best to contain me while a treatment was developed. Eventually, they did find a way to control the mutation."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Your condition is controlled then?"
<RED SPIDER> "Pretty much. I have to do some things to manage my metabolism, but that's pretty easy."
<LADY JUSTICE> "Have you ever had another episode after the treatment?"
<RED SPIDER> "Well. No. I never transformed into that creature after that."
<LADY JUSTICE> "When your clone appeared is it true that they once again contained the transformed individual, turned her over, and provided the same cure that has proven so effective to authorities?"
<RED SPIDER> "As I understand it, yeah, UNTIL took the existing treatment, updated it, and applied it."
<LADY JUSTICE> "So they did! An exchange without gunfire can be quite productive it seems. Are you and your team willing to guide Sam if she chooses so?"
<RED SPIDER> "Well, sure. If she needs guidance. As I understand it, she has most of my knowledge and experience. She can make up her own mind about her direction."
<LADY JUSTICE> "As anyone is entitled to do. I have nothing further to ask."
<JUDGE> "Very well, Mr. Kruger, you're up."
<KRUGER> "Red Spider you talk a good talk about how you manage your team, and how you're all about law and order. Do you remember code-name Cyber-Slash?"
<RED SPIDER> "Yes."
<KRUGER> "In fact for the record, she is wanted for several felony counts of assault upon officers, theft, burglary, cybercrimes, and more."
<KRUGER> "Cell phone video from the streets show your team surrounding her on a rooftop. You were there for a good long while. You had her cornered. How did she get away?"
<RED SPIDER> "There were ... circumstances. The team heard her out... we judged when she said she was turning over a new leaf, she was genuine. We have some experience with that."
<KRUGER> "Do you believe that when you put on a costume, the law applies differently to you?"
<RED SPIDER> "Not at all."
<KRUGER> "Do you realize that letting that suspect get away makes you complicit in obstruction of justice?"
<RED SPIDER> "Well- look, we -exist- in a grey area as it is, I'm not going to lie about that."
<KRUGER> "Touche. On to something else. Your clone has the same virus you did, correct? This engineered virus?"
<RED SPIDER> "Yes, that seems clear."
<KRUGER> "So you were 'treated' as you say. That's very euphemistic. You weren't cured?"
<RED SPIDER> "Not entirely."
<KRUGER> "So in fact the virus transferred from you to the clone through whatever sample the cloners obtained?"
<RED SPIDER> "I guess so."
<KRUGER> "You were aware from the summer of 2014, until before you met this clone a month ago, that you had this virus?"
<RED SPIDER> "Yes."
<KRUGER> "Did you ever try to seek a full cure?"
<RED SPIDER> "It was manageable as it was."
<KRUGER> "But you didn't try to seek to have the virus eliminated entirely from your body?"
<RED SPIDER> "No."
<KRUGER> "Where did this treatment come from?"
<RED SPIDER> "Lady Justice developed it with her technology."
<KRUGER> "A home-brewed treatment from someone with questionable credentials. Were you never afraid that you might transform?"
<RED SPIDER, hestitating> "Look- sure. I worried about it."
<KRUGER> "Do you ever think about having children some day?"
<RED SPIDER, shocked> "What?!"
<KRUGER> "It stands to reason your virus could be passed on. So answer the question, did you ever think about having children?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Objection, this line of questioning is based on zero evidence! The prosecution has not submitted any evidence to suggest how her DNA was stolen or when it was. Neither does he submit anything to show how transmission even /could/ occur!"
<KRUGER> "Your honor, it speaks to responsibility. If the witness shares the knowledge and experience of the defendant as she testified, the public has a right to be concerned about how the defendant will regard her own mutation."
<JUDGE> "I'm going to side with the defense on this one, you're getting a little too personal there counsellor."
<KRUGER> "Very well, question withdrawn."
<KRUGER, thinking a moment on where to pick up his next thread>
<KRUGER> "Red Spider, would you say you have been in mortal danger in the course of your costumed vigilantism?"
<RED SPIDER> "Yes."
<KRUGER> "How frequently would you say you come very close to death?"
<RED SPIDER> "Uhhh... I dunno. Once every week or two? Sometimes once a month?"
<KRUGER> "Most crooks you go after you can handle, is that right?"
<RED SPIDER> "I would say so."
<KRUGER> "You've encountered ones our of your league, isn't that right?"
<RED SPIDER> "Yeah. It's why I formed the team."
<KRUGER> "Do you still go out on your own, in costume?"
<RED SPIDER> "Yes."
<KRUGER> "About how much - some of the time? Half the time? Most of the time?"
<RED SPIDER> "I dunno, maybe... half the time?"
<KRUGER> "You've encountered adversaries beyond you while out on your own, without your team?"
<RED SPIDER> "I think I said that already, yeah."
<KRUGER> "And yet here you are, alive. What advantages do you attribute that to?"
<RED SPIDER> "Uhm... I know when to run... I know a thing or two about escape artistry if I have to... and I've got friends who'll come looking for me."
<KRUGER> "You told defense counsel that you manage your metabolism carefully. What happens if you don't?"
<RED SPIDER> "I um. Slip into a coma, basically."
<KRUGER> "Is that all? Just go comatose until you waste away?"
<RED SPIDER> "I think so?"
<KRUGER> "I'll remind you that you're under oath. Do you believe you would transform if you don't manage your metabolism?"
<RED SPIDER> "I have been afraid of that. It's -never- happened though!"
<KRUGER> "Do you know why the clone transformed?"
<RED SPIDER> "She had my virus."
<KRUGER> "Untreated virus. But the investigation into the lab reveals that she matured some time before you were subjected to memory transfer. Why didn't she transform then?"
<LADY JUSTICE> "Objection, this calls for an immense amount of speculation!"
<KRUGER> "On the contrary, Red Spider has a unique condition that she has a unique insight to."
<JUDGE, to KRUGER> "Care to rephrase your question to be less speculative, counsellor?"
<KRUGER sighs> "We've established the clone had your virus. We know she had been mature for some time. Did she choose to transform?"
<RED SPIDER> "No!"
<KRUGER> "How are you so sure of that?"
<RED SPIDER> "They weren't feeding her right!"
<KRUGER> "Ah, so it comes down to diet. So you can manipulate your metabolism and cause a transformation, correct?"
<RED SPIDER> "I- I don't know if it works that way, I never tried."
<KRUGER> "Oh no? But by your own admission you're routinely outmatched, wouldn't it be helpful to have an ace in the hole?"
<RED SPIDER> "Not like that! I would never do that!"
<KRUGER> "But we have you on record admitting, what was it? You exist in a grey area? No further questions, your honor."
- Red Spider has run the team responsibly with a view to improvement
- The team Red set up has helped numerous heroes reform
- Red Spider has managed her mutation and not had a relapse
- If the clone is a close copy of Red Spider, then she has a good foundation and can make responsible choices
- Had Red Spider admit she's taken on bigger foes than she can handle, sometimes lost
- Tried to make her seem irresponsible for not having her virus more fully treated
- Tried to make suspicion that she knows how to manipulate her metabolism to mutate at will
- By extension, the clone could potentially have mutated at will, which could make her culpable in the carnage
<DREAMWEAVER> "Meltdowner! Please give a summary of why YOU SIR, have been one of the main targets of our prosecutor's attempts to defame the team! I mean, what kind of bad things have you done? I mean, negative experiences, with the police, or-"
<DREAMWEAVER goes to confer with RED SPIDER quietly>
<DREAMWEAVER> "All right! Meltdowner! Please state how you got your powers!"
<MELTDOWNER> "I have no clear memory of that particular fact. The first memory I currently have involves waking up with them in midst of alien invasion."
<DREAMWEAVER> "So you don't remember anything of your life before? Your real name, your family, your childhood?"
<MELTDOWNER> "None. I have no memory of my former life."
<DREAMWEAVER> "That must be very hard. What are your powers, Melt?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I can generate and control fire, as well as utilize form of teleportation. I am unsure if cybernetic implants count in this matter."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Hmm. Fire. That's a pretty destructive power, wouldn't you say?"
<MELTDOWNER> "All powers are destructive. But yes, controlling fire can be considerably so."
<DREAMWEAVER> "And yet, with no memory, no identity, everything stripped away from you except your basic personality, you chose to become a hero. And may I ask what you do, besides heroing?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I work with local fire brigade."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Are you paid for your work there?"
<MELTDOWNER> "No. I do it because I want to"
<DREAMWEAVER> "A volunteer fireman, that's very noble! How many emergencies have you assisted with?"
<MELTDOWNER> "Thus far? Roughly a hundred. Even if Millennium City is not most hazardous city in United States where fire is concerned, it is up there."
<DREAMWEAVER> "That's quite a lot! How many people do you think you've saved? Ballpark it?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I don't tend to count that sort of thing, but if I were any judge? Anywhere between hundred and three hundred, on estimate."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Thank you for your service. What made you decide to volunteer?"
<MELTDOWNER> "Making up for certain mistakes I have made."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Is that also why you joined the Adventurers?"
<MELTDOWNER> "No, I joined because I was asked to and wished to experience working in a team. But I cannot say it was not a factor."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Has being on the team affected you?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I cannot answer that question with certainty. I am not psychological expert."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Okay, um, did you join the fire brigade after joining the team, or before?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "No further questions, unless the other member of the defence team today has anything."
<RED SPIDER> "Meltdowner do you remember an incident days after you joined the team, which nearly got you kicked off?"
<RED SPIDER> "Describe what happened for us please."
<MELTDOWNER> "I had grown frustrated after a decision regarding a villain that I disagreed with. So I went to Westside to defeat criminals. I admit I may have been tad rougher than necessary"
<RED SPIDER> "That was over the team's decision to let Cyber-Slash go, right?"
<RED SPIDER> "So you got out of line, you sent a lot of suspected participants in organized crime to the hospital. Did the team do anything to sanction you for that?"
<MELTDOWNER> "Yes. As you surmised earlier, my membership was nearly terminated. And one member ended up disagreeing with me strenuously enough to fight me."
<RED SPIDER> "And you were denied access to the erm, 'Justice Cave,' right?"
<RED SPIDER> "After such an inauspicious start with the team a year ago, you'd think you'd be a black sheep. Has anyone told you since then that you're a good hero?"
<MELTDOWNER> "Without going into exact wording, I have gained some compliments, yes. But I do not keep count."
<RED SPIDER> "That's fine. Any feedback stick out to you as especially meaningful?"
<MELTDOWNER> "Mainly the suggestions as to where I still require improvement"
<RED SPIDER> "You don't need to repeat that feedback now, but would you say you are committed to change for the better?"
<RED SPIDER> "Last few questions for you. Did you know about my condition with the potential for mutation?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I was not aware of it before. Then again, I never asked."
<RED SPIDER> "Um. Ok. Um. Now you know. Do you have any doubt about my ability to handle it?"
<MELTDOWNER> "None. I am convinced you are able to handle such a matter"
<RED SPIDER> "What in your experience with me makes you say that?"
<MELTDOWNER> "The fact you have more experience with your powers than anyone else, and work closely with multiple geniuses."
<RED SPIDER> "If my clone has most of my knowledge and experience - does that mean you trust her to use her abilities responsibly?"
<RED SPIDER> "Thank you. That's all I have."
<The judge calls upon KRUGER to cross-examine the witness>
<KRUGER> "Thank you, your honor. Mr. Meltdowner: I think your very public, well, melt-down a year ago was just symptom of a larger problem, isn't it?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I am afraid I cannot answer unless you phrase the question exactly, as I do not fully understand it."
<KRUGER> "I would like to submit for the court these copies of the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, relevant to Antisocial Personality Disorder. Now, I'm not a psychologist and I cannot officially diagnose you, but I ask the court's indulgence as you are known to the defendant and stand a chance of being her cohort in future."
<DREAMWEAVER> "Objection, I'd like to protest the coming armchair psychology."
<KRUGER> "I'm only going to compare this witness's actions with an agreed definition of someone with such a disorder."
<JUDGE> "I'll allow this. Just watch yourself, Mr. Kruger."
<KRUGER> "Now, there are several criteria here, any one of which can be used to complete a diagnosis. For starters, failure to obey laws or violation of others rights. Something you've done?"
<KRUGER> "Moving right along. Lying, deception, or manipulation - something you'll admit to?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I would wish to make clarification. Lying due to ignorance or by deliberate action?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Objection, lying? I would ask anyone in this room who's never intentionally lied to raise their hand."
<JUDGE strikes with the gavel> "Overruled. Please answer the question."
<MELTDOWNER> "No, I deny lying due to deliberate action, deception or manipulation."
<KRUGER> "Moving down the list. Impulsive behavior?"
<KRUGER> "Irritability and aggression?"
<KRUGER> "Now, this next one I believe a review of your testimony to defence counsel will attest - a pattern of irresponsibility?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I would personally disagree with such, but of course this depends on the prosecution's definition of "pattern"
<DREAMWEAVER> "I would like to request Mr. Kruger be subjected to being diagnosed as well."
<JUDGE strikes the gavel> "You're out of line, Miss. Mr. Kruger's doing his job attacking the credibility of your witness."
<KRUGER> "Your first known appearance in our city was during the Qu'larr invasion. Is it fair to characterize your use of your powers on that occasion were excessive?"
<MELTDOWNER> "It would not be fair, prosecutor, considering I was both seriously injured and at the time completely without memory."
<KRUGER> "Well, let's not debate the small things. We'll leave 'pattern of irresponsible behavior' aside for now. Tell me: do you feel remorse for what you did to those men you attacked a year ago when you were actually frustrated over the Cyber-Slash matter?"
<KRUGER> "I see, so in the space of a year, you can tell this court honestly that you wouldn't repeat that action?"
<MELTDOWNER> "I can tell the court honestly I would not repeat said action, if action described in this instance is my rampage through Westside"
<KRUGER> "Indeed. Well, you certainly satisfy 3 out of 7 criteria for a start toward an Antisocial Personality Disorder. Only one was needed."
<MELTDOWNER> "I would wish to address the courtroom, your honor. In twenty words or less."
<JUDGE> "You're here to answer questions, that's the role of a witness."
<KRUGER> "I found it interesting that code name Red Spider never told you about her mutation. Why do you suppose that is?"
<MELTDOWNER> "Because I do not need to be told of medical conditions of the team, considering I am neither a doctor nor any other expert adept at handling them?"
<KRUGER> "Does it not worry you that someone on your team had partly untreated condition that could have caused the deaths of your team, and didn't warn you?"
<MELTDOWNER> "Considering I have yet to see evidence of it being able to cause deaths of my team, no. It has not worried me."
<KRUGER> "This defendant has been linked to several deaths. If the county is to trust you and your team with her fate, tell me: will you be willing to use the full force of your powers against her, if it should come to that? Would you kill her, if necessary?"
<DREAMWEAVER> "Objection, the prosecution is asking... I mean, that's baiting! Right?"
<JUDGE, having dealt with some off behavior from Dreamweaver, isn't having it> "Overruled."
<MELTDOWNER> "Before I answer, I will point out to prosecution that as I am a vigilante, they are advocating murder in the courtroom."
<KRUGER> "Your entire team has been granted full immunity as a condition of your participation. The fifth doesn't apply here."
<MELTDOWNER> "Were it to come to a choice between allowing innocents to die and killing her, I would kill her. But I would not start with such lethal option."
<KRUGER> "No further questions."
- Meltdowner is known to have made strides in personal improvement since joining the team
- He volunteers as a firefighter and has saved many lives in so doing
- He feels remorse for dealing harm to suspected crooks without cause in the past
- He has no reservations about the clone's ability to handle her condition, if she's a clone of Red Spider
- Very few - Kruger wasn't able to get Meltdowner to 'melt down' on the stand
- Meltdowner shows some signs of a possible personality disorder, but it was a flimsy attack by Kruger that didn't entirely hold up
"Ahem. Your honor, this case has been a difficult one for the county to bring. Limited time, limited access to evidence and witnesses. Nonetheless, I have striven to make a strong case that there is an imminent danger presented by the defendant. It is not in dispute that she shares many of the memories and experiences of the original Red Spider - a team leader who chose not to seek full treatment of her illness, which she still harbored - a secret she kept from her team, and manifest itself when the defendant came to life. By Red Spider's own belief in her testimony, she can regulate her control over the mutation through diet. I think the public has every right to be concerned about a second such individual existing. And individual linked to numerous killings and millions of dollars in property damage. I think the public has every right to be concerned about who should be stewards of such a person. We have seen through testimony that it should not be the Adventurers. Numerous team members expect that they may have some association with the clone in future. This is a team that believes itself a supplement to the law, but its past actions show ignorance or even abuse of the law! Ignorance of public safety. Preference and deference to their own lives and their own secrets, over the public good. I only ask that this matter go to a public trial. That the people I am duly elected to serve, and to whom I am responsible, have the chance to hear the facts and pass judgement. That this matter not disappear into the nebulous and ethically lax world that these so-called heroes live in. The people of Wayne County expect and deserve accountability. On their behalf, I demand the facts of this hearing be taken to trial. Thank you, your honor."
<KRUGER returns to his seat, his remarks finished>
"Let me remind you all of why we are here," Justice begins, turning her head briefly to look at the assembled mass. "We are here because a woman was used against her will. We are here because even in this advanced day in age a human being must apparently prove they are indeed such. The prosecution has failed to show the slightest molecule of evidence proving that she was mentally culpable for her acts! The only thing that's been shown is that Red Spider and her team have a proven history of bettering everyone they come into contact with. It has been shown that despite that trauma and hardship of their beginnings they are more than capable of heroism and of guidance. I contend to you, your honor that the prosecutions case is as weak as it is unjust. The people do have a right to face their tormentor, but it is not the defendant. Your honor, I beg of you to do the just thing and let this woman show us for herself what she is capable of and who she truly is. Let us turn out attention to finding the true monster. Thank you."
I was told that this case was going to be complicated, and... wow, it was a doozy. Several matters in the hearing might seem on the surface to be without precedent, but in truth, there are enough facts here to give a fair ruling with reference to existing laws. I'm going to reveal my decision, but I want you to understand how I arrived at it through some facts and interpretations I had to consider. First. The defendant is the same entity that caused the death and destruction in question, that is not in dispute. The prosecution contends that the defedant has control over her mutation by way of diet, but evidence presented on the laboratory where she was grown may suggest that the defendant's nutritional needs were not met. Further, there is nothing in evidence show conclusively that the defendant -chose- to commit these crimes. On the matter of ignorance on the part of the person cloned, namely, Red Spider. We cannot judge the clone for actions of the person cloned, even if they share the same memories and genome. They are NOT the same entity. A growing area of the law concerns the culpability of persons under mind control. In this case, it could be said that the defendant was under mind control, as she was not born conventionally and her memeories and experience were added artificially. According to UNTIL, her mental conditioning is regarded as low to no risk to public safety. Now, to arguments from the prosecution respecting the allies of the person cloned - the Adventurers. First, there has been no submission to claim the defendant is mentally unfit to stand trial. I see no reason why she cannot make decisions for herself in her non-mutated state about with whom she will associate. Further, the support from the Adventurers in the trial attending regularly, shows that they are persons with a positive, vested interest in the defendant's well-being. Now, Mr. Kruger is not incorrect that the public should have some manner of accountability and oversight over a person with potentially unstable powers. So my ruling is as follows... First. The defendant must register with UNTIL, and continue to be treated by them until such time as her powers are considered acceptably under control. sits on the edge of her seat. Second, I rule that so long as UNTIL agrees, the clone may be released from their custody. I understand that Red Spider's family has embraced her as one of their own, so she has a good footing to begin her own life. Finally, all charges against the clone are dismissed. There will be no trial.
"Company of Carnage"
In Pursuit of Landon
UNTIL Agent Christopher Suzuki speaks to independent costumed hero White Star. UNTIL is concerned about Source Biotech's secret projects, the cloning lab and monster attack exposing just one of numerous compartmentalized R&D labs rumoured to exist. They present a risk to public safety given SBE's interest in developing marketable meta-human products & a lax ethical and safety record.
White Star is on the trail of James Landon, an SBE employee at the cloning lab where the Red Spider clone was created. Landon was not among the many employees killed when the clone transformed into the monster and escaped. White Star has determined that Landon had a laptop in his possession, and had performed some kind of experiment for which White Star found the data, but doesn't yet understand the context.
Tracking Landon to his parents' home in the suburbs of Millennium City, White Star intercepts a telephone call indicating that Landon is in imminent danger. White Star heroically faces down roving teams of armed gangsters at a construction site just as they are about to corner Landon. Injured, White Star manages to rescue Landon and escape with him in her plane.
The Matter of the Laptop
Landon reveals that he had a laptop with information about a superhero's secret identity. He wanted to sell it to mob lieutenant Adrian Tony for enough money to help Landon flee the United States, but Tony got agitated with Landon's requests for large sums and decided instead to simply steal the laptop and eliminate Landon entirely. White Star goes to face down Tony in his Millennium City mansion; sneaking into the mobster's home and breaking into his office, White Star is suddenly attacked by Tony himself! Tony has juiced himself up with a super serum of some kind and bats White Star around his office. He nearly gets the better of her in combat, but he punches through a wall, breaking a water pipe and also exposing some wires. Arcing electricity fells Tony.
White Star retrieves the laptop of Landon's from Tony's office.
The laptop is delivered into the hands of Red Spider, whose secret identity info was encrypted on the device. In so doing, White Star asks for the help of Red Spider & the Adventurers with another mission: knocking over an SBE lab hidden in a run-down boxing ring.