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Queen of Tragedy
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Place of rocks and trees, and trees and rocks...and water.
For those who may still be reading...
Crime Never Sleeps
“The worst things we do always are by our own choice.”
New Part 1-4A
New Part 4B
New Part 5: Trial Day 1A
New Part 5: Trial Day 1B
New Part 5: Trial Day 1C and New Part 6
New Part 7
Part 8 and Part 9: Trial Day 2
Part 10: Trial Day 2
Side Story: Raven
Crime Never Sleeps, Part 15
“Do you think that we can conclude all of our preparations for the last trial day tonight?” Hayate asked as they got seated at her desk. She held up a coffee pot in silent offering, putting it aside when Auris shook her head. “I don’t want to rush anything, but I have a meeting with the Mayor tomorrow morning, then final budget doctoring with the Ground Forces over the next few days.”
“We can try,” Auris said as casually as she could, “but I think that we may need to tweak our game plan with the newest information that my agents are bringing in to me over the next few days.”
“You do know,” commented Hayate, “that if Officer Jettal or Officer Favager request any details of the case from you, the NSIS Director, that you are obligated to hand it over?”
“Not if the details have to do with ongoing missions,” Auris replied smugly. Of course she was aware, and had checked up on the exact regulations herself. “Or if the information contains names of any NSIS agents, who are all permitted anonymity except under dimensional crisis conditions.”
“They can still request documents with censored names and locations.”
“Ah,” Auris said, a smile on her lips, “Except when the documents involve Shadow agents personally—then all those documents are classified Level 4s, making them out of reach for mere court cases. And considering how Gallant is on trial for Touring’s murder, his involvement in the case is no longer purely military but also part of his personal life.”
Hayate laughed, sitting back in her chair. “I see you’ve looked into this in detail! Has the defence tried to ask you for anything yet?”
“Of course they did,” Auris rolled her eyes. “And being inexperienced, Jettal tried to ask me for the entire file on the Gallant case—which I simply denied him outright. If he had asked me for components, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
Auris had to wonder, that if Hayate wanted to double-cross Auris, if she would go drop that tidbit in Jettal’s ear…but what would be the point? She could just tell Jettal about all the recent discoveries about the Gallants herself—no, that would be too risky. Even if Hayate took precautions, the scandal would make itself known somehow. All these thoughts were leading Auris back to her original question, back at the beginning of the whole case—what was Hayate up to?
She couldn’t possibly
Auris to win? Of course, not losing the case reflected on Hayate herself, but wide-eyed idealists like the Aces didn’t worry about reputation when it came to “doing the right thing.” So Auris was still stuck in the uncomfortable state of not knowing just what Hayate wanted to get out of all this intrigue.
Did she want Auris to owe her a favour? Auris watched Hayate, keeping her expression mild as she scrutinized the brunette rearranging the holoscreens around her desk to give them space to work.
Or…does Hayate have her eye on bigger fish?
“Something wrong?” Hayate asked after noticing Auris’ attention.
A smile answered her. “No, nothing wrong,” Auris said. “It’s lucky for us that Admiral Lindy Harlaown had refused to testify for the defence in Trial Day 3—arguments about rehabilitation would be in favour of Gallant, as Admiral Harlaown has quite the record for finding young mages and getting them light sentences, to the benefit of the TSAB.”
“Lindy-san didn’t want to be involved,” Hayate said lightly. “She’s retired, after all.”
“She didn’t want to be against
,” Auris bluntly pointed out.
“Well,” Hayate said in a cheerful tone, “that’s lucky for us, isn’t it?”
Auris couldn’t help smirking slightly—this kind of arrogant and sly remark hinted at the best weaknesses for Auris to take advantage of against a rival, and while she wasn’t foolish enough to imagine that Hayate was like that at all, the fact that the younger woman was
to give off that kind of aura told Auris loads about the woman.
That kind of clumsy, over-reaching act indicated that Hayate wanted Auris off-guard, meaning that she was trying to hide her
feelings. And not just on this matter of witnesses, but on other things—her whole outlook on the case, her feelings about the betrayal to her ethics… Auris and Raven Gallant had seriously shaken Hayate’s comfortable cage, and Auris wanted to see how many hooks she could sink to the Ace of the Ground Forces during these brief defenceless moments.
It could come in handy in politics later on. Or it could give her insight into the woman who would likely become an enemy down the road. Auris had no illusions—Hayate would work with Auris as long as their ethics agreed. The moment things went dark Hayate would turn on Auris in an instant.
Ironic how people consider
“Yes,” Auris replied lazily. “Very lucky.”
Hayate wagged her eyebrows teasingly, then tapped an official memo on her desk. “Now, we have to confirm the order of the expert witnesses by tomorrow with the defence and submit that to Judge Grangaitz. I suggested that we have it go by Ginga, Chrono then Raven, but I wanted your thoughts on it before I send it off to Jettal and Favager. Sound fine?”
Auris stared at the sheet, contemplating different scenarios and finally the pieces fell together in an epiphany. “We should have Admiral Chrono Harlaown testify first.”
“Why?” Hayate blinked. “He’s our expert witness—the defence will rip our argument apart and then give what appears to be a better solution with Ginga’s testimony right afterwards. Wouldn’t it be better for us if we had Chrono go after Ginga?”
“No.” Auris narrowed her eyes slightly, calculating different scenarios of her new idea. How much should she reveal to Hayate? As her partner, she needed to make sure that they were both on the same page…
Hayate hummed, shuffling the papers on her desk in clear make-shift work while she waited for Auris to come up with what to say to her.
“Let’s go for a walk,” Auris jerked her head at the door, rising from her seat and straightening her tie.
“Even walls like yours have ears,” Auris replied, well aware of the irony of that statement. Besides, if Auris could manage to slip a bug into Hayate’s office, someone else could have as well. It was unlikely—not because of the technology since the bug that Auris was using was a generic Enforcer bug, so it couldn’t be easily traced back to Auris, but it was the
required to get one into the right place to pick up meaningful information instead of background noise that made it doubtful. This was a conversation that Auris didn’t want to have while smack in the middle of the TSAB Mid-Childan Main Office. The city councillors had too many allies inside the tower for Auris’ comfort.
“Alright then,” Hayate said agreeably, standing and stretching. The pops of her spine and shoulders made the younger woman wince, giving her head a shake. “It’ll be good to get out of the chair for once, eh?”
The elevator ride was oddly tense.
to know something. Even if she was a master liar, that kind of tension only came from someone with a guilty conscience.
Of course, Auris didn’t have that aura. She could do things without guilt that would make a tender-hearted woman like Hayate cringe.
Which made the mystery of why the Shadow Overseers were visiting Hayate often much more puzzling. Someone as smart as Hayate
to know that the Overseers were involved in illicit activity, just using common sense. And what about Mayor Magnus? Did Hayate know about the payoffs and the rehabilitated Shadow recruits?
They could have been visiting Hayate because
in on their conspiracy.
No, it’s not in Hayate’s nature to be part of a plot like that…
…But then again, Auris would have sworn that it wasn’t in Hayate’s nature to convict a young girl to hard prison either.
No point in mentioning the overseers, then. If Hayate was part of the conspiracy, then she’d be misled as to how much Auris actually knew. The Lieutenant-General wouldn’t be able to do anything against her fellow overseers anyways. Auris could use Hayate’s help to bring down the Mayor and find her own solutions for her over-reaching superiors.
It probably was best not to gamble all her luck in one front.
“One of my Shadows brought me something that changes things on the case.”
“Oh?” Hayate raised an eyebrow, intrigued.
“How much do you know about the Cranagan Corrections Program and Mayor Magnus?”
“I remember that the program was one of his major platform projects,” Hayate replied, frowning as her active mind started to think and make connections. “He didn’t found the program with Ginga Nakajima, but he’s always been a big supporter.”
Auris lifted a hand and called up a screen, transferring a temporary set of files to Hayate’s Device with a flick of her fingers. She waited while Hayate opened them and read them on her own screen as they walked, their boots tapping a clipped rhythm on the concrete. Even though the darkening sky made it hard to watch the younger woman, Auris kept her gaze on Hayate’s face as she read. Hiding her scrutiny would have made no difference—if Hayate was hiding something, she would have concealed her emotions anyway. No, Auris was more interested in seeing how Hayate was going to play her realization.
Would she act shocked? Be shocked? Or did Hayate have an inkling of what was going on already?
No matter if it was because Hayate was involved, or because she was faster on the uptake than Auris on gathering information, it meant that Auris needed to set some of her own plans in motion. She couldn’t have the Commander of the CDC and a Shadow Overseer be so close to Auris’ operations.
“Hm,” Hayate mumbled as she closed the document, watching it vanish from her screen and delete itself. “So, Mayor Magnus sends promising kids from the Cranagan Corrections Program to criminal foster parents, who then get the kids to enlist in the NSIS as they graduate the program.”
“It’s not the Mayor on his own,” Auris said carefully. “Someone is paying him a large sum for this.”
“Someone in the TSAB,” Hayate sighed, rubbing between her eyes to drive out a headache.
“Why would you say that?” Auris asked, hiding her alarm at Hayate’s astuteness.
“It’s easy—who stands to gain in this situation?” Hayate gestured, a little senselessly because the charts were no longer on her screen. “If you look at the bank accounts, that’s a lot of money being passed around. I can’t think of anyone who would be willing to pay that kind of money other than TSAB officers looking at their unit stats or those who want to line the TSAB with moles.”
“I have some Shadows chasing down the sponsors.” Auris glanced up at the setting sun, then blew out a breath. “But considering the red tape involved, I doubt that alone will be enough for a conviction. This is going to drag out longer than the Gallant Case.”
“I had other intelligence warning me that the Mayor wasn’t up to any good,” Hayate said, generous with her information now that she and Auris seemed to be of the same mind. “It’s nearly impossible for me to investigate him, given my position,” she blushed, and shrugged as if dismissing her influence and rank. “I tried to keep an eye on him, but there’s only so much I can do without alerting him about my suspicions.”
That would explain why Hayate had Lutecia Alphine nosing around in the Mayor’s files. Auris grunted acknowledgement and jerked a hand. “We’ll take care of it,” she said, meaning the Shadows. “But the relevant question now is, how does this affect the Gallant Case? Revealing the conspiracy would be a huge blow against the defence’s argument for clemency.”
“Would it?” Hayate countered, looking like she was only half in agreement. “With the right spin, it could look like Raven Gallant is just a victim of these Black Hat conspirators.”
“What did you call them?” Auris raised an eyebrow.
“Didn’t you read one of the memos they sent to each other?” Hayate cracked a small smile. “They called one of the foster transfers a “meeting at a Black Hat affair.” It seems fitting—only seemingly rich and respectable folk will do something like
just to line their pockets and boost their status.”
All Auris could do was roll her eyes in response. “Fine. Then we need to get personal with Gallant, and reveal the Black Hat conspiracy during the trial in a way that would cause a splash. First it would turn sympathy away from Gallant, and second it would dominate the papers for days after the trial, letting us cover up the end of the trial quickly and neatly.”
“And how are we going to shake Raven? We’ve revealed that her parents are criminals, but she only looked a little rocked by that news.”
Which was strange, now that Auris thought about it. Hadn’t Tagus told her that Raven Gallant had fragged Hellhound buildings before? Wouldn’t that mean that Gallant knew that her parents weren’t exactly on the good side of the law? “She’s a sociopath. It won’t be easy to get her off balance.”
“Sociopath is a bit harsh,” Hayate said disapprovingly.
Auris snorted, adjusting her sharp-framed glasses. “Have you
spoken with her? I’ll concede that she seems to really care about her foster parents. There must be something there that we can use.”
“Painting Raven in a bad light will only do so much,” Hayate pointed out, coming to a halt. They had looped most of the building, and were in the shadows between the main office and an outbuilding, still on the stone path winding through the green. “Getting her to incriminate herself would close the case in our favour, but if we go at this too heavy-handedly, it won’t work.”
Was Hayate trying to steer them away from the idea, or was she being even more cold-blooded than Auris was in pointing out the weaknesses of their plan? Auris observed her. “Why don’t you start working on the CCP angle, and work out how we’re going to tackle Ginga Nakajima’s testimony. I’ll dig and see what else I can figure out from Raven Gallant’s—or whatever her real name is—past that could be useful.”
Hayate nodded absently, staring at the Cranagan main office building with a distant eye. “Keep an eye out around you.”
“I’m not scared of what a few schemers may try on me,” Auris said sharply.
. Not directly.” Hayate rubbed her arms, ducking her head against the cold wind. “We won’t be the only ones thinking to win this case by discrediting our opponents. If the people in the shadows want to destroy
credibility…right now would be the perfect time.”
“The higher you are, the harder you fall, huh?” Auris laughed, her tone cold.
She had a point.
It was something Auris would do, after all. And anyone who could stomach being an NSIS Overseer would probably have the same thoughts too.
Auris almost looked forward to seeing if the Overseers would try something. There was nothing she would like better than to keep collecting evidence against them as she built her secret case to bring them down. All she had to do was keep giving them enough rope to hang themselves while accomplishing her own goals in the meantime.
And Auris intended to watch them swing.
Mostly a recenter-ing chapter, recapping old ideas and foreshadowing coming ones.
RadiantBeam has stopped writing Shadowverse, so it feels a little weird to be continuing this story, but I don't want to abandon it when I'm
to finishing, so I think I'll push to the end and post as soon as I can ^^;;.
Next chapter will have Lutecia! And blood! And action!
Latest "Angel" chapter
Latest "Daily Activity Logs" chapter
Latest "Crime Never Sleeps"
The Hayate x Vivio Files
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