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Continued from Paperwork

Jon stepped out from the Albuquerque Sunport and greeted the familiar sunny, tan New Mexico landscape. The warm air bore the pleasant reassuring smell of wet creosote that typically heralded the coming of an afternoon thunderstorm. Warm, but not too warm. April could be unpredictable but today was cooperative. This was a good thing because Jon had dressed to hold an audience upon touchdown in case his luggage had gotten misplaced. A turquoise and silver bolo accented the stiff white collar of the silk shirt, turquoise and silver threads accenting his almost black suit jacket and pants among vertical lines. Silver-tooled black boots and a black felt hat with stiff brim and a studded hatband. It was important to present himself as a native son who made good, well enough to overdress with confidence, but none of that outfit would have done for him in triple-digit heat.

Traditionally the Gathering of Nations, held the fourth weekend of April, met in Albuquerque proper, but the official representatives of the Council of Native Americans met separately on tribal land for a longer duration of time, choosing one of the nearby Pueblos for the conference. Isleta Pueblo just a few miles south of the airport graciously accepted the request to play host to what Jon could only term a pre-Gathering powwow. The taxicab ride was thankfully short, less than ten minutes. Albuquerque had become even more crowded than when Jon had attended school here. The south valley of Albuquerque had grown right up to the edge of the reservation, where suddenly development gave way to yellowed grass and mesquite brush. During the summer months the desert greenery would come to life, and closer to the Rio Grande there was always lush trees and farmland, but after a dry winter the landscape was in a dusty stasis.
The taxicab pulled up to the multistory conference center and casino. Jon checked his Wallet and saw he still had an hour before the scheduled time to start. He checked in at the concierge and had his luggage sent up to the room minus one small package which he kept on himself, a wrapped bundle the size of his palm. Jon tucked it into his inside jacket pocket.

Other Council delegates were already present in the lobby. Jon made small talk with Ysadora Chino, daughter of the Mescalero Apache president. They’d sort of briefly dated in high school but nothing serious had ever developed, Jon suspected mostly because her father had disliked Jon’s foster parents. It was just as well, from the sound of it she had done nothing over the recent years but develop a deep sense of entitlement and self-importance.

There were four ballrooms on the main floor. Jon made his way to the last one, which had a sign that simply said “Reserved for private use.” Once inside, he saw a podium and several tables set upon a platform, wired with microphones, and facing several rows of chairs. There wouldn’t be room for all of the tribal representatives, but it was already known that some wouldn’t make it. Neither Noah Crow’s Eye nor Bear-Who-Runs-on-Ice would be present. As a matter of fact none of the other walkers of the Spirit World would be in attendance. That was acceptable; Jon could see to them and some of them already had some knowledge of the events to take place.

Jon took a seat at one of the tables upon the platform. He reached out for the power of the Great Spirit. As it filled him, he cast a net around the room to prevent anyone from listening in. He looped off the flow so that it would maintain itself. Jon wondered how long a weave tied off like that would sustain itself. He’d have to experiment sometime. A cursory probe with fingers of the essence of Spirit did not yield any bugs or recording devices. Satisfied, Jon sat back in his chair, but he did not release the power.

The room filled up within the next few moments, and when the appointed time came the chairman of the Council, Red Kickinghorn of the Pawnee, approached the podium gave it a sharp rap with his gavel. “Take your seats ladies and gentlemen,” he intoned. “I call before the Council our legal advocate Jon Little Bird of the Mescalero Apache tribe, who has called this emergency conference to make a report of recent events.”

Jon leaned towards the microphone at his table. “Honorable chairman, I request before I begin that we invoke article 6 of the Council Charter.”

Chairman Kickinghorn nodded to Jon. “Are there any objections to invoking article 6?” he called out. With no responses, he continued. “Therefore article 6, the pledge to internal secrecy, is invoked. Let anyone not known to be a delegate be expunged from the Chamber, the chamber doors sealed, and all recording devices strictly prohibited. Violation of the absolute secrecy of any proceedings while the chamber is sealed beyond what is later determined as permitted to share will be treated as a treasonous offense and will result in expulsion of the delegate and his tribe from the Council of Native Americans.”

That would have to do for now, though the old saying “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead” came to mind. Jon stood and made his way to the podium.

“Brothers and sisters,”
he began. “There have been longstanding traditions of story, dance and lore among our peoples. Chief among these is the concept of the medicine man as a spiritual guide, an honored sage who possesses the medicines of the Gods and is in tune with the Great Spirit, called Wakan Tanka by the Sioux, that flows through all things, dwells in all things and gives life to all things.

"We have, at least as a tradition, believed in the power of nature and the ability of our own spirits to tap into this force. These beliefs and stories came from somewhere, and even in recent memory tribes of the native peoples of this land believed that a medicine man could alter the physical world, a belief that had disastrous results during Pontiac’s Rebellion and at Tipeecanoe. The braves were not, in fact, bulletproof. But studies conducted by pre-Columbian scholars show these beliefs appear to come from a sort of collective consciousness of the time before memory that appears in our myths of gods who walked among men.

“These stories may very well not have been made up. In recent years, no few of our youth have come under the affliction of the sickness, seemingly at random. Some recovered with no complications, and some died without apparent cause. At the same time I have witnessed in Moscow and elsewhere, as numerous others have, of the emergence of people with supernatural abilities. Indeed, the ability to tap into this power is awakening in individuals around the world and the Sickness is a manifestation of that power coming to life.”

The chamber erupted in chatter. Jon banged the gavel. “I will take questions one at a time.”
He gestured to a raised hand in the front row.

The man stood. “Are you saying that magic is real, then? How is this to be believed?”

Jon nodded to him. “I am confirming that the reports from the US and CCD governments are true and accurate, though I would not term it to be ‘magic’ as magic implies the miraculous, without explanation. This power appears to follow certain metaphysical laws and its nature appears consistent with Wakan Tanka, the Great Mystery or the Great Spirit. I can also confirm that there are efforts underway to better understand this in working with our sons and daughters that have manifested the symptoms. Once they are able to learn sufficient control they are no longer any danger to themselves or others.”
Unless one was mentally unstable, of course. Best not to bring that up.

Someone else did instead: “What about those who want to use this power for criminal actions?”

Jon shrugged. “Policies will have to be developed for certain,”
he said. “I’m not at liberty to speculate. It very well may be that people with these powers will be the most effective policemen. If we provide these individuals with resources to run Spiritual Development centers, they may be able to train themselves into Spirit Warriors for tribal protection.”

That earned another question, this time from Chairman Kickinghorn. “You mean to train them in use of force? Like an army? We would be prohibited from doing that by treaty and forced to rely on federal policing through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That would devastate us, we would be at the mercy of the federal bureaucracy. If they did not just roll over us. What if the federal government forces registration -- ”

Jon raised a finger to stop the shotgun blast of questions-turned-fearmongering. “Not so fast. See, our peoples have long been at the mercy of forces who have not hesitated to use the government against us. And while it is good to cooperate with the US efforts on this issue, we should also insulate ourselves from their missteps. On the legal side this was anticipated.

“The Native American Medical Privacy Protection Act was recently signed into law as a result of a year of lobbying efforts. While this was written with the Sickness in mind, it accomplishes several things. It prevents registration of Native Americans, it allows us to freely treat our own members on our own reservations…and it allows us to operate our own treatment facilities on reservation land free from government interference which may be utilized by tribal and nontribal members at our discretion. And in the case of the Sickness, the way to treat it is to teach control. Training.”

That set off more murmurs, and rightly so. It was a bulletproof piece of legislation that gave the tribes tremendous power. Jon was so fortunate to have gotten it through before the Ascendancy’s announcement, else it may have tipped his hand what he was going to accomplish. But they now had legal authority – insulting to say that sovereign peoples needed authority, but nevertheless – to gather people who could use this power and train them free from interference. He grinned despite himself. It was okay to gloat every now and then when you did something clever. Spirit Warrior -- it had a good ring to it.

But finally, the question that Jon didn’t want to answer asked: “Why can we believe what you’re saying is true?”

Jon sighed. Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead, right?
How many people were in the room? Two hundred? “Because I am one of these people. I can wield the power of the Great Spirit.”

His heightened senses caught a sudden movement in the back of the room. Someone was reaching for a gun.
Continued from Upriver

Katchina sat in the back of the room and listened to Mr. Little Bird. If she shut her eyes, she could imagine Noah's voice channeling those words, because it sounded just like what Noah had always described. She felt a little ache to see the man again. After her father had died the place had become more like home to her than anywhere else, Noah a bit like second father. She still hadn't been back to Michigan.

Wakan Tanka. Yes.
The same concept as Gitche Manidoo. The Great Spirit. This power was a thing of the Natives, was a thing of old come again. Noah was right! And here she was, spying on her own people because she hadn't been able to figure a way out from under Major Harris' thumb. This was not a thing that should be handed over to the Army. Least of all through her. There has to be a better way.

And it looked like Mr. Little Bird had the same thought. Yes, yes.
A treatment center. Perhaps a school. A place where people could overcome the Sickness in safety and learn how to control their powers, and not end up like Jerome. It would have to be in a remote area, to minimize anyone getting hurt, and probably away from prying eyes of people who would fear them. And it would have to be run by those who had already managed to survive, control and channel these powers. Like me...I think I could do something like that.

“...because I am one of these people. I can wield the power of the Great Spirit.”

Kat didn't even have time to register that. Suddenly, sitting not three feet from her, a nondescript man in a suit with his hair arranged in a neat braid moved in a flash, pulling something from his jacket. Father!


Father help me!
In less than an eyeblink, faster than thought, Kat gave herself over, pouring her will out into the sea of the Great Spirit of all things, of her Ancestors, of her Father. The doorway opened and it flooded into her. Kat pivoted. The man had leveled the thing in his hand right at Mr. Little Bird. A long-barrel handgun with a wide, curved banana magazine and wires that fed into an open recticle sight. His finger tightened on the trigger.

She shoved her hands toward him and struck out with all of her strength, air and fire and water. A tremendous flash of light arced from her hands and connected with the would-be-assassin, accompanied by a deafening BANG. Her very hair stood on end and the pulse forced the very air out of her lungs as she was pushed backward. The man went flying and struck the far wall, his weapon skittering across the polished wood floor.

Kat got back on her feet, still clinging onto the Great Power. She tasted metal in her mouth and smelled burned hair and plastic. She ran over to the assailant. His clothes were smoking and his head was twisted at an odd angle. She put a hand over her mouth and gasped. What did I do to him?
She ran across the room and knelt to lay her hands on him, and sent the flows of power through his body. No heartbeat. His neck was broken. Something was wrong with his internal organs, like he'd been cooked from the inside out.

“Come on, live!”
She forced air into the man's lungs, or what was left of him. Pulled the power into him, to force his heart to move the blood. Nothing. The man was like a puppet. There was no brain activity.

Kat stood up and dropped the flows as she let her arms hang back to her side. And then she realized everyone was staring at her.
Great Spirit, the man was fast. Jon had just enough time to throw up a barrier of Air before he saw the gun fire and a flash of light. Even from a hundred feet away, his ears rung and his eyes burned with the faint afterimage of the flash. The bullet zipped straight at him on a trajectory to strike his chest, till it struck the barrier and deflected over his shoulder. If Jon hadn't already been holding the Power he would have been too slow.

Jon popped his ears and gripped the podium, the Power surging within him, threatening to rip his soul from his flesh, daring him to give into the white-hot chaos within him. He prepared to lash out, but the man was already down. His skin prickled with goosebumps.

There was a young woman, in a brown suit jacket and two dark braids running down her back. Her hands were on the body. She stood up, glancing about nervously and wiping her hands on her skirt. The people nearby moved away, clearing a wide area around her. That woman had done it. She could use the Power, too, even though Jon couldn't see anything. It was like that woman at that burlesque house in Moscow. But Jon owed his life to this one.

"He's dead,"
the woman said. "I didn't mean to kill him. Just..."
She looked at Jon. He could read a plea in those brown eyes. Help me.

Jon came down from the podium and walked across the room. He saw the handgun lying where it had scattered. If it could even be called a handgun. The barrel was almost ten inches long with a detachable magazine. It had some sort of advanced targeting optics Jon didn't understand -- which accounted for him getting on target so fast. What a nasty piece of work. How by the Great Spirit had he managed to keep it concealed?

"Don't anyone touch anything,"
he said. "I think the danger's over."
He glanced at the man's body. He didn't recognize the native or what tribe he represented. He turned to the woman. "Are you hurt?"
She shook her head. "We'll get this sorted out."
Silently, he mouthed thank you
to her.

Sirens in the distance. The BIA had undoubtedly been alerted. There wasn't much to do but wait and see how things shook out. There wasn't any way he had the power to manipulate the memory of this many people...and something told him it would be wrong to do it if he could.
Even before Beto stepped off the plane onto the jetway, he could feel the difference in the air. The plane's air conditioning had kept things a constant 72, which was good enough for him. But once the doors were opened and the air of New Mexico began to fill the cabin, he felt warm. His collar already began to dampen with perspiration and the dry air seemed to assault his nose. He could feel his nasal passages seem to shrivel and open up.

It would be wrong to judge a place from what he'd seen from 40,000 feet in the air, but the reality was not much better. And he was not impressed. Not that he expected to be. There was history here, to be sure, but that never interested him, except where it intersected with his work. The legal maneuvers the Federal Government had used in their dealings with the various tribes; the treaties with their varied requirements and concessions; the abrogation of those treaties by the very same Federal Government. It was a work in progress, but it had gotten better over time. But that didn't mean he had to be impressed by the native artwork and architecture, either. Any more so than he was impressed by those of his native New York or in Washington. Buildings meant little to Beto.

No. He was here now because this was the beginning of a new world- a world in which things had changed. And that meant that he had to understand that change. He had to know what it meant for him and for society. The feel of chaos and lack of structure bothered him like the tag on the back of a shirt, irritating him with its constant presence until he could make it fit somewhere. And now it felt like someone was moving around behind his back, doing things. It bothered him.

As a Federal Prosecutor with the requisite seniority and clout, he had made it clear to the AG that this case- involving individuals from multiple indigenous tribes and on Federally protected land- and the newly revealed power- could not be shunted off to a subordinate. The ramifications with the various Native Tribes and their increasing political presence were far too large. Of course he did not add that he had a personal interest in this case. The curiosity seemed to burn in him. Of what he didn't know. He only knew that the itch was back and he had to be here and see where things were going.

He was shown to his room at whatever hotel it was that Justice had arranged for him. He knew the name if he really cared to, but such things weren't important until they became important. And after a shower and a change of clothing, he was sitting in a car, reviewing the facts of the case as was currently known. The BIA representative was with him, claiming jurisdiction of this or that facet, or knowledge of this or that feature but Beto ignored him. He'd listened to the man once, noted his information, and dismissed him from his mind, certainly not interested in placating the man or mollifying his feelings.

After a time walking through one doorway and gateway after another in the Albuquerque prison- and sweating into another collar and t-shirt- he was finally outside the room where Ms. Makawee was currently being kept. Interrogation. Special Agent Sheridon was there, along with a few of his junior agents, as well as a couple of MP guards called up from whatever National Guard was on duty this week, with rifles across their chests. Beto smiled inwardly at the ineffectiveness of it all. If Ms. Makawee could do even remotely what Nikolai Brandon, a man who claimed the mantle of godhood, could do, there was little here that could stop her. Through the mirror he watched her, sitting at the table in the stoic way that betrayed that she was scared and uncertain. He wondered if the temperature was increased in that room.

One person he did not see was he representative. "Where is Ms. Makawee's counsel?"
to no one in particular.

A few puzzled looks and then Sheridon answered. "We have not allowed her counsel in. Given the special nature..." his words trailed off at Beto's blank stare. He did not use it often- certainly not with winning a jury over- but in cutting through bureaucratic red tape, he wielded it like a hammer. Cases had to be airtight from the beginning. There could be no opportunity for the defense to have any testimony thrown out because of procedural error.

"Ms. Makawee is entitled to counsel, gentlemen. You may not appreciate the protections the constitutions affords us until you need them yourself. But should you do, you would do well to hope that the prosecution is as meticulous as I am. Now please escort her counsel in so they may confer in private. Then we will get started."

The Agent looked at him as if challenging and Beto merely stared at him dispassionately until he looked away. He whispered to one of the other agents and the man left the room. Beto dismissed them from his mind. Instead, he studied the girl through the glass, trying to fit her into his world. The curiosity was there again, waiting. Would god finally reveal himself to him? After all this time of hiding, had he decided to show himself to Beto?

Edited by Beto, Aug 15 2016, 05:15 PM.

They wouldn't let Jon in to see her, so he waited impatiently outside the visitor's area, sending furious messages back and forth with Caroline as they considered their legal strategy. He was going to give them another fifteen minutes, perhaps, and file the civil rights complaint in federal court for the violation of her sixth amendment right to an attorney.

Jon shot a wry glance at the two guards standing by the holding room, MP's dragged out from Kirtland Air Force Base, clutching their stubby M6 carbines as they waited for absolutely nothing to happen. Their weekend plans likely ruined, their presence was as pointless as it was futile. The young woman – named Katchina Makawee, Jon had learned – had surrendered without protest to the first BIA officers on the scene. They'd made her lie down on the ground with her hands behind her head, zip-tied her wrists together, and searched her for weapons, more equally pointless and futile maneuvers. His erstwhile savior was going to cooperate until she chose not to cooperate, and that would be that. The prison could not hold her if she chose to escape, of that Jon was certain. It couldn't have held him against his will.

But perhaps cooperation was best at this juncture. Getting the courts to agree with Jon's desired outcome was his specialty, and Jon was eager to return the favor, especially since he knew so little about anyone else on the proper side of the ocean having the ability to use the power. Especially a woman.

Jon was able to dig up precious few details on his prospective client. Born in Michigan, the daughter of the last significant Saginaw Chippewa chief, she played college basketball for one year at Michigan State. Then she dropped off the radar until turning up in Atlanta and going on expeditions to third-world Latin American countries. Then she showed up as a credentialed tribal representative. Then she saved Jon's life by throwing a lightning bolt at his would-be-assassin.

Someone cleared a throat. Jon looked up to see … Special Agent...Sheridon. The one who had refused to let Jon in. They had exchanged some words. His lips twisted in a scowl like he'd just eaten a fistful of sour grapes. “The federal prosecutor has demanded the detainee be allowed to see her counsel,” he spat out. “Come with me.”

John winked at him and stood. “Guess you won't have to dust off your resume after all.”
The guards moved aside and the two went through the double doors. Jon was sent through a sally port and searched – the wrapped bundle in his pocket explained away as a curio – before he was checked in at a second guard post. They were in the deepest, most secure holding cells, reserved for criminals too dangerous to put in with the general population. Jon could hear muffled shouts and screams.

Finally, they led him to a room with a plain square concrete slab for a table and four benches, one on each side, made from the same material. Katchina looked up as he came in. The young woman, with brown eyes and facial features that screamed her Algonquin heritage, was still wearing the same clothes. Her eyes were fixed and her lips pursed in a stoic expression of forced calm. “It's you,”
she said.

“Miss Makawee, I would like to provide pro bono legal services to you as your attorney,”
he replied. He took a seat to her left and slid his Wallet in front of her. “Please sign here if you wish to accept and appoint me as your attorney. If you wish I will contact another attorney for you instead. But I will promise you that there is no other lawyer in the country better suited to represent you given the circumstances of the case.”
Katchina shook her head and scrawled her finger across the Wallet.

Jon set his Wallet down on the table and pressed a button to begin recording. Now that that formality was out of the way, he removed his spectacles, laid them on the table next to his Wallet, and rubbed his weary eyes. He should really look into corrective surgery, but who had the time? “Anything said between you and I from here on out is privileged information. It is as inviolate as the confessional. And I have no doubt in your mind that what you did was necessary, and that it saved my life. I am in your debt, and I have anything to say about it--”

“Did you mean what you said, that you can use the Great Power too?”
she interrupted.

Jon blinked. “Yes,”
he replied. “If that is what you call it. The power of the Great Spirit. But I have some questions about what --”

“--How long have you been able to do it?”

“A few years. Now if we could –”

“How did you learn to control it?”

Jon clapped his hands together. “Miss Makawee. Would it be agreeable to you if we got you released first and then I satisfy your curiosities? Believe me when I say I am just as eager to ask you questions about these things on a personal level.

She put her hands on the table. “I didn't mean to do it, you know. Kill him. I just had to do something to stop him. It just happened so fast. That's what I told them on the way here.”

Jon held up a hand. “Wait. You told who what on the way here?”

“The guards. The M.P.s. They were nervous, so I told them I wasn't going to hurt anyone else.”

Jon rubbed his temples. Great Spirit please don't tell me she talked...
“Start from the beginning. When they handcuffed you and put you in the armored patrol vehicle, what did you say?”

Her eyes glanced up at the ceiling. “Let's see. In the vehicle, the guard had his gun pointed at me, so I said, uh, 'I won't hurt you' and then he said 'I don't believe you,' and then I said 'I wasn't intending to kill him and maybe I used too much but it all happened so fast, but they didn't have to be afraid of me,' and then there was an agent who asked me 'what happened' and I told him what happened.”

“Wait. Okay. What did you tell him? Exact words.”

She bit her lip. “I said that when you said you were one of 'them' --”

“--You told them that? You told them I could use the power?”
She nodded. Good grief!
He bit back the urge to shout down her foolishness. Didn't she realized secrets like this could be used against him or others like weapons? The truth about Jon was likely to end up on the national news, now. His headache was getting worse. “Okay, okay then what?”

“Then I saw the guy next to me stand up and pull a gun and scream, and I pulled in the power and threw it all at him so he wouldn't shoot you. Then I saw he was down so I ran over and tried to use the power to cure him but he was already dead --”

“You can do that?”
He pinched the bridge of his nose to relieve the pressure on his sinuses.

“Sure. Let me show you.”
Jon felt goosebumps. Then Katchina reached out and placed a hand on his head. A ripple went through his body like he'd had a bucket of ice dumped on him. He gasped and his eyes shot open. “Looks like just a little sinus pressure from flying and not enough sleep.”

Jon caught his breath, and blinked. Blessedly, the headache was gone. No, this woman didn't belong in a jail cell. “Back to the case at hand. So you told this agent you knew the man was already dead. What else?”

“He asked me how long I was able to use the power, and I said five years. And then he asked me what other magic death spells I knew, so I explained that it's not like that but that the Power has different currents like air and fire and water. And that's it.”

Jon paused, chewing on her testimony. “Did you have your Miranda rights read to you?”
Katchina nodded. “When?”

“Before they put me in the armored vehicle.”

. Jon's headache was about to come back. “Did you sign anything? Any waivers of your rights? ”
She shook her head. That was something then. Jon sent a quick message to Caroline along with the audio. Then he stood up. “I think we have something to work with. Sit tight. From here on out, don't answer any – any – question unless I say it's okay. Any questions?”

“Do you think we can really do what you said? Start an institute for learning to control the Power?”

Jon hadn't meant questions about that, but fair enough. “I do,”
he replied. He reached for the holding room door and gave it a sharp rap with his knuckles.
Sheridan was irritated, of course, at being overridden and it showed on the scowl as he returned and then switched off the audio monitoring of the room. Even more so when Beto himself reached over and flipped the window polarity so that it became opaque, giving them the legal privacy they were entitled to.

Irritation laced his voice. "What, you some kind of ACLU nut? We have a situation out here, in case you didn't notice. And you're worried about dotting your i's and crossing your t's?!?!"

Beto turned from the glass and looked at him, studying, the body language and words of the man: chest puffed out; brief glances to the guards with him as if making sure they were there to back him up; the contempt that showed when he'd spoken to Little Bird; the tightening of the eye on the girl just before the glass darkened.; the lilt of west Texas still on his tongue. He knew his type. Probably played football in high school. Line backer from the look of him. Likely small town hero. And when school was over it was suddenly being hit in the face with the real world. Oil rich Texas in decline after over a century of wealth. The big fish in a little pond was now plankton in an ocean. Suddenly thrust into a world where who you were or what position you played meant nothing. You got the job based on your merits, on your skills. Things not honed by the genetic and geographical lottery he'd won at birth.

A man like this might go into law enforcement or other positions where they can regain a bit of the power they had lost. A significant percentage, anyway, though not all, he knew. Not even the majority. Just the ones he seemed to encounter more frequently than most. Climb up the ladder using a mix of good-old-boy interactions with those higher up, an eagerness to alpha-male any situation, and smart enough- he wouldn't take that away from him- definitely smart enough to parlay all of that into a position as an FBI Special Agent. But the same man at the core.

Or not. It didn't really matter to Beto whether he was right. But it was useful to put tags on people, to see where they fit. If they had to be relabeled later, that was fine. Until then, they stayed in that place in his mind, judged and categorized, though he was always watching to see if things suddenly didn't fit.

All of that flashed through Beto's mind in the moment it took for him to sit down in one of the chairs, briefcase now at his side, and cross his legs. He allowed a slight smile to show on his face. This time it would be a different tack. "I was not aware the term 'Liberty' was a pejorative. But to ease your mind, Agent Sheridan, I am well aware of the situation. Not only with reference to Ms. Makawee. The President is fully cognizant of the danger these individuals might present to us. And of the difficulty before us in making sure that whomever they are, everyone abides by the law and does not weaken our country."

He smiled and let his language become less precise, now, more natural, as if relaxing around the man, inviting him into his confidence. "My job is to win cases. And to protect the American people. That is my goal. If Ms. Makawee is guilty of murder or manslaughter, then I want to prosecute her successfully. And that means making sure that her defense will have no valid reasons for throwing away any evidence we have gotten. I know you've been as angry as I have when cases were thrown out on technicalities due to the overzealous investigation of police."
He purposefully made it clear he wasn't including Sheridan in the implication.

The man looked at him as if trying to figure out where he fit. That amused Beto. The man seemed to deflate a bit, his stance returning to normal. "True enough, I guess." Frustration began to show. "I just don't know what to make of this. What this will mean. First that prick Brandon, after years of trying to wipe his ass with Old Glory, tells us he's got powers like outta some movie or something. And then it shows up here? Do they work for him? This like outta the Cold War? My daddy used to tell me stories about back then. Those sleeper agents or whatever that have been hiding here for years?"

Beto left the smile. The man thought so small. And his logic was wrong. Just because Brandon had the use of magic and because he also governed the CCD and because the CCD and the United States were in a state of cold war did not mean all magic users in the United States were agents of Brandon. It was post hoc, ergo propter hoc; a deformation of modus ponens; affirming the consequent fallacy.

There was much more going on here. And that was what Beto was here for. He leaned forward a bit. "I understand your frustration. Trust me, that I will do my best to see that the law and security of the United States is upheld."
He looked at the guards and then back at Sheridan. "Let me do my job, Special Agent, when I speak to Ms. Makawee and her lawyer. I am willing to take the risk of speaking to them alone."

It was not a necessary thing, of course, to act as if the man was doing him a favor, especially given his position. But he often found that the act elicited more cooperation from everyone involved and allowed him to move about unobtrusively, free to gain all the facts, as all sides trusted him to be on their side.

He had the girl's testimony to the MPs. And what he'd seen of her showed someone more frightened of what she'd done than what would be done to her. He would reserve judgement as to the direction he should take.

There was that flicker of thrill though. And the itch.

He waited until Ms. Makawee was finished with her lawyer.

Edited by Beto, Aug 17 2016, 10:42 AM.
Jon Little Bird was escorted from the holding room, leaving Katchina alone with her thoughts. And with the power. She hadn't released it since getting rid of that minor headache. Alone, Gitche Manidoo filled her completely, calm, serene. Like the kingfisher above a still pond. One minute it would be standing there like a statue, and the next moment a fish would be in its mouth and you'd never see it strike.

Jon had promised that he'd be back shortly. They would either question her further and charge her, or release her, but either way he'd be back. In the meantime there wasn't much point in worrying about things. And yet, eating away at the edge of her calm like a pebble skipped across a pond was a gnawing worry. What if her actions tainted people's perception about the Power? The power is a good thing -- we can do good with it! It is hope for a dying world.
And yet, fear could destroy any chance at delivering that hope. Without a way to teach control to others in a safe way, more and more people like Jerome would show up, sick men and women who would be dangers to themselves or others. The public would come to see all people with the power as rabid animals who needed to be hunted down.

What will be, will be.
However, not much would come of anything if she was left to stew away in a cell, waiting for something to happen that she could do something about. She hoped she didn't have to wait much longer.

Jon left the holding cell, mind already at work. This should be a simple procedure as long as it was taken care of quickly. "Take me to the prosecutor,"
he said to his escort. The soldier nodded and spoke something into his earpiece, then motioned for Jon to follow.

Jon shot a quick query to Caroline and quickly found out the Justice Department had sent down Alberto Trujillo to oversee the criminal investigation. They were indeed taking this seriously. Mr. Trujillo was something of a mover who bloomed young and had made it almost to the top without connections or really anything but his own skills and personal drive. He reminded Jon of himself, in some ways. And he'd gotten his start in law as a public defender. That should make him a bit more amicable. An attorney's first work was like to leave an impression on the rest of his career, and public defenders worked with the least fortunate, for whom adequate representation was just out of reach above that glass ceiling of means. The man had insisted on letting Katchina see her lawyer. Not that Jon would give the man any particular credit for that. The day I am expected to thank someone for not continuing to trample on an individual's rights is the day we are no longer a nation of laws.

The man let Jon into the observation room. Inside, there was the man, practically a carbon copy of his head shot on the Department of Justice site. Except a bit taller than Jon had expected. Mr. Trujillo turned toward Jon as he entered.

Jon met the man's eyes and put out his hand for a polite handshake. "Mr. Trujillo, I am Jon Little Bird, and I am representing Katchina Makawee. Let us discuss this situation a moment."

Timing was everything, and Jon would have to be quick. Not give Mr. Trujillo too much time to think about the fact that Katchina could use the power of the Great Spirit. "Neither the facts nor the law are in dispute here. My client acted to prevent a criminal act of violence. The use of lethal force in self defense or defense of another is clearly permissible."

True, there was still the confession to deal with that in hindsight she'd used more force than necessary. Even if it were true, she'd said it while she was traumatized and incapable of consenting to waive her 5th Amendment right. But that was secondary. "The bigger question for the Justice Department to concern itself with is why someone tried to assassinate me. So to that extent my client is prepared to assist your investigation into this attempted murder. Unfortunately she is being detained right now without charge and her attorney has advised her against making any statements. So as soon as you sign off on the order of nolle prosequi and release her we can get to that."

If Mr. Trujillo was a thinking man, and Jon had no doubt that he was, he'd see quite quickly that it was in his interest do things this way. Else things could get ugly. The Justice Department was holding a confession that would probably get thrown out, and Jon already had plenty of ammunition to file in court for alleged civil rights violations. But he'd see.
Beto left the now more amiable Agent Sheridan and went to the office that had been temporarily provided for him. He mulled over the facts. The event had occurred in on tribal land in chambers during a Council of Native Americans meeting. Article 6 had been invoked, under pain of expulsion. No recording devices were permitted. Therefore, no recording of the attack and killing was supposed to exist.

Of course, Beto knew that supposed to was not 'did not'. Despite the growing influence and public sentiment in favor of the Native Council, their unity was a tenuous recent thing. The massive changes over the last 30 years had left vacuums of influence. And into one of those the stepped the new Tribal Council.

It was a notable change. For the last 200 years, most tribes dealt with the Federal government on an individual basis through the various treaties- something the Fed took advantage to a degree that might shock those not familiar with human history. One group jockeying for advantage at the expense of the other, even when not promoted outright by government policy, was inevitable, as self-interest was always the driving force.

As such, among all tribes, there were always those who were...amenable to helping the Federal government as long as it lined their pockets. The number of cases of embezzlement in Tribal governments was too astonishingly high to indicate any higher moral character among them than any other group. The right questions asked of the right people might possibly provide video of the event- all anonymously, of course.

Whether that would be admissible or not was another question. Whoever might have taken the recording was not an agent of the government, after all. Tribal land was sovereign, though, and no doubt it would be argued that the meeting place itself, especially where the Charter was invoked, constituted an Embassy of sorts, with an expectation of privacy.

But things were not so cut and dried, Beto knew. Tribal Sovereignty was not, legally, the same as the sovereignty of any other country. While some might and could forcefully argue the ethics of the matter, the treaties themselves always made clear that the Federal government held jurisdiction over these lands. This wasn't the era of the Cherokee Trail of Tears or the Long Walk of the Navajo, no. But a sitting judge would have to rule on it, and then that decision would be subject to appeals, on and on, this time, no doubt walking all the way up to the Supreme Court. Tribal Relations would be legally defined.

And that was the real issue that Beto honed in on. While Native peoples would no doubt want that to become the focus, the United States- indeed the world- was facing a bigger problem. People with enhanced abilities existed. As Ms. Makawee herself was proof of. And her counsel, though Beto would not mention that he knew that. And the laws simply did not exist, yet, to figure out where they fit or what acceptable use of their abilities meant. Or even what those abilities were!

So was it in the Federal government's interest to pursue a case against Ms. Makawee. Or was to understand her and her what she could do? Whether her words to the police were considered excitied utterance and were or were not thrown out, he knew what she had said. She was one of them, as was Little Bird.

And that was Beto's concern. To create law, one must first define the players and the situations, in exacting detail. Good law was long and focused on the minutia, trying to account for all foreseeable possibilities. And the fact was, their information was limited. Nick Trano might be enhanced, as he claimed- Beto saw no reason to question it- but he was not available. And Beto had to understand.

A knock called him out his contemplation. At his word, the door opened and a man came in. Beto watched him. He knew who Jon Little Bird was by reputation. He had made a name for himself as a lawyer. Young, it was true. But that was never a handicap. He did not feel adversarial toward the man. Merely curious as to what the man would propose for his client. Beto put on friendliness at his man's greeting.

The man launched into a defense almost immediately and Beto felt a sense of amusement. He seemed almost out of breath as he made his case, his words pouring out in a stream.

They were certainly logical. And whatever his tone, it did not bother Beto in the slightest. He listened, showing little of what he was thinking. Or of what he had decided.

When he finished, Beto was quiet for a moment. The man was forthright. And confident, though not in the way that indicated an ego that needed to be coddled. Certainly not a Sheridan. Beto would speak honestly to him. "Let us put aside, for a moment, the fact that there is no certainty whatsoever that Ms. Makawee's statements were illegally obtained. You and I both know she was mirandized when she was taken in. She was not questioned without her counsel. I made sure of that. Nor is the fact that she hasn't been charged yet an indicator that she cannot be. As far as I can see, this situation is analogous to her using a gun to stop the man. The exact same things would have been done to her, regardless of sex or ethnicity."

He smiled at the man. "However, initial statements do support Ms. Makawee's claims that whatever happened, death was an accident. Likening the situation to the use of a firearm to stop a crime is illuminating, in as much as the effect is exactly the same, regardless of method. The man was attempting to kill you and she stopped him."

His earlier thought returned to him and he couldn't help it. "Of course, if there were any recordings that showed the incident, then there'd be no doubt, whatsoever. But you and I know that that is impossible."
He didn't have a sense of humor, not in the way others did. But he did find things humorous, especially when he could use them to prod.

It came down to what was the bigger concern. And what was provably the truth. He personally did not believe she had intended either murder or had a reasonable knowledge that her actions would lead to the man's death. And that was that as far as he was concerned. He could read people. And her remorse and fear and confusion had been real. "However, in this case, I do believe that Ms. Makawee acted in defense of another person and her use of lethal force, even in that was not intent, does not rise to the level of a crime. I do not believe she committed a crime and I am prepared to sign off on a nolle prosequi."

"Now, in regard to the assassination attempt on yourself the FBI will be taking the lead on that. I would be happy to liaise with Agent Sheridan in the investigation, if you do not wish to speak to him directly. At the very least I can be there when you speak to him. Having the Justice Department showing interest in the case could lead to a more thorough investigation."

Edited by Beto, Aug 22 2016, 04:02 PM.
Well, the man was certainly calm and calculating, and, like anyone who spent time in government these days, inordinately concerned with ensuring Katchina's sex or ethnicity were ruled out as reasons to claim unfair treatment at the hands of law enforcement. It hadn't even occurred to Jon that it would be relevant. But clearly the man had considered Katchina's ability to use the power of the Great Spirit in the matter and dismissed it as irrelevant. As well it should be, under the eyes of the law. Jon could work with him.

However, the man seemed to be digging for a video to turn up, as if Jon would somehow be able to magically produce one. That, of course, wasn't going to happen. Jon wasn't about to blow his reputation with the Council of Native Americans for the sake of satisfying Mr. Trujillo's curiosity. He had other ways of getting to the bottom of things.

Besides, it wasn't necessary. He'd had gotten what he had asked for. Jon smiled politely at Mr. Trujillo's agreement to not prosecute Katchina, a smile that did not quite touch his bespectacled eyes. "That is quite acceptable,"
Jon replied. "With prejudice, of course. I will have the draft sent over to your office immediately."
A touch to his Wallet and it was done.

As for the other..."I think for the time being my client and I would be happy to talk with you. Your agent Sheridan...I am unsure he has the appropriate mindset to comprehend such unconventional matters."
He glanced around. "Perhaps over a cup of coffee. Somewhere other than here. I think Miss Makawee has spent enough time in a cell."

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