A Lunch Interlude by Snooky
(totally unedited by my trusty Beta, Bits and Pieces. Please forgive the mistakes)
Susan, aka Snooky, had spent the morning seated on the right hand side of the courtroom just yards away from Hogan and his fellow prisoners and utterly mortified at her performance on the stand. For someone who was used to dealing with the legal profession, this was an absolute, total embarrassment. If I only had time to prepare, she thought, and if Mason had done his job and prepped me, I probably wouldn't have made an utter fool of myself. However, Susan was grateful that her fellow authors, who obviously had some warning, were a little more effective on the stand. She was also glad to see that other than Bits and Pieces' little outburst, none of them were throwing each other under the proverbial bus. Yet….
In order to save her self-respect, Susan decided that since Harry had called a lunch break, it was a good time to waylay Mason and have a little chat. But first she stared in astonishment as Riker disappeared into thin air, obviously back up to the Enterprise. Sighing, she wished she could go with, knowing that Dr. Crusher would be able to fix her backache, hay fever, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and whatever else was wrong with her.
She glanced at the prisoners and thought it looked like Newkirk needed a nice cup of real tea, not the schmate tea as her grandfather used to call it, but real tea. Carter was busy wiping fake blood off of Hogan's jacket and had stopped glaring at her. Hogan and the rest of his posse, as Susan liked to call them, were talking amongst themselves. It looked to her like they were plotting something. Suddenly Hogan turned, stole a quick glance and smiled at her. It was a good thing she was still sitting down, otherwise her knees would have buckled. Oh brother, she said to herself, I'd better find Mason.
Hogan and his posse had actually been talking about Susan when he flashed a smile at her.
"You know, Colonel, I kind of feel sorry for that bird," Newkirk said. "After all, she really did show some remorse. That's more than you can say for the others."
"C'est vrai, mon Colonel. She seemed really upset that she hurt us. "
"Maybe she really didn't know," Kinch added.
Hogan was still up in the air over whether to forgive this particular author. For the most part, the other ones basically went after him and left the rest of his men alone. But this one…he just shook his head. He didn't know what to think. And then, there was the information about her that he had received from London. Hogan had passed on the names of the authors to London in hopes that their investigators could dig up useful information. Although this woman was fairly new at this fan fiction business, she had quickly and enthusiastically embraced the site and, in fact, with the assistance of another author, had reinvigorated the dormant Papa Bear awards. Now these people were in the middle of voting for the best stories completed in the future year of 2007, a fact that Hogan looked at as pouring salt into the wound, so to speak.
Carter had finished cleaning Hogan's jacket and was now able to join the conversation. "You know, sir, I think it would be a really simple matter to infiltrate the site, kind of like we did the last time, and start messing around with these votes."
"I don't know, sir." Kinch looked uncomfortable. "Something about the idea of messing around with people's votes - it just makes me uneasy."
Hogan decided to hold off on that option for now. "Let's see where this is heading. There are always other things we can try."
Riker had beamed back up to the Enterprise and brought Data up to date on the proceedings. He was particularly concerned about Linda's testimony. "She brought up a really good point, Data. The characters do not really exist in real life. So how can you be actually hurting these characters if they're not real? "
"On what grounds?" Data asked. "What are her justifications for saying these characters are not real?"
"What are you getting at, Data?"
"She claims these characters are not real, but are they not suffering? And, it is my understanding that they are self-aware."
Riker's eyes gleamed. "Data, you've just given me an idea." He snapped his fingers. "Do you remember the name of that hologram that ended up on DS9 – you know, the program that kept running? He was a singer, I think."
Data paused for a millisecond. "You are referring to Vic Fontaine. He owned a night club in Las Vegas, in what was then the United States of America circa 1962. He was part of an entertainment package and he was self-aware."
"Yes, that's correct." Riker's wheels were spinning. "He was self-aware, but also interacted with the crew as a friend. But I also remember that some joker messed around with the program and had some gangsters take over the night club."
"That is correct. "
"Data, would it be possible to borrow Vic's program for a while?"
"Mr. Mason." Susan stopped the defense attorney on the way out of the courtroom. "Can I talk to you?
It's really important."
Mason looked like the type of person who would enjoy a nice chat over lunch. After finding a quiet table in the corner of the cafeteria, Susan apologized for her poor performance on the stand. "I'm really sorry, but you know it was a bit of a shock, and honestly, weren't you supposed to prep me?"
"Under normal circumstances, Susan, I would have had plenty of time for prep, but due to the unique nature of the subpoena delivery system, I had no clue who was showing up when."
"Guess I had to be the unlucky one," Susan grumbled.
"Now," Mason asked. "Did you just want to apologize or is there something else you wanted to discuss?"
Susan took a sip of her coffee and gathered up her nerve. "Look, how can I put this? A lot of us weren't thinking. The excuse that it's dramatic and after all, I didn't kill anybody…well, I can't see that convincing a jury; but a lot of us are throwing that out there. I mean, let's say, you go outside and shoot somebody in the leg. Well, it's great if they get better, but you're still liable for shooting the person, aren't you?" Susan stopped and tried to think about how best to put what she was trying to say. "You've gotta think of a better defense; we're still causing harm. And I admit, I'm no better. I pulled the drama nonsense too."
Mason knew darn well that that excuse was not going to hold up in court. He had other ideas, but he was somewhat amused by this woman's attempt to redeem herself. So he continued to listen.
"Now, I said something on the stand that just popped out of me without realizing it. I said I didn't know. Don't you think that that sort of goes along with what Linda said? How could we know that we were causing harm if the characters aren't real?" Susan stopped and waited for Mason's response, not realizing that she had been running her mouth off, just like her favorite punching bag, Carter.
Mason took a deep breath. "Linda's testimony was very effective. I just want to assure you that I'm working on that angle." He patted Susan on the hand. "Don't worry."