Going to Meet the Judge
Visit to Boros
Location: Boros, Better Section of Town
Timeline: Mission Day 58 - 2230
The Judge was holding night court, which accounted for the late hours, and the walk was safe enough though Poe kept watch anyways. Stone was a far more dangerous enemy than he had thought him to be and it didn't hurt to take precautions. So, he walked with Addy on the inside, and his hands loosely at his side, for ease of drawing a weapon he didn't dare bring with him, watching the street, the windows, the corners, and thought how easy it was to slip right back into old patterns.
There was plenty of coin left in his pocket, but Boney was already starting to feel woozy. It was no good getting woozy by yourself. That's when someone gets a notion to roll you.
"Reckon time I kick rocks..." Looking around for the server, Boney didn't see anyone he recognized. The pretty lady in the short dress at the next table over, though, made brief eye contact. Maybe she was the server. "How much?" Boney asked the young lady in the short dress next to him as if she were the hired help.
After taking one look at him, her face took on a look of disgust. Obviously she thought Boney wanted to hire her for other services.
"Huh? Didn't catch that," Boney said far too loudly. "I said how much?"
The man whose lap she slid off got up and pressed Boney in the shoulder.
"How 'bout you find someone else to bother," he said.
"How 'bout you keep your gorram hands to your ruttin' self," Boney retorted with a light slur.
"I think it's time you get the hell out of here," the man said.
"Shiny... just as soon as I settle up." Boney gave the man a crooked stare.
The man ran his hand across his fist, clearly interpreting that as a threat. "Best you don't, stranger. Get on out now."
"How's I not gon' settle up?" Boney had a smarmy smirk. Of course he was going to pay his tab. "Your lady friend there workin' for free?"
Boney didn't see the fist that struck his face, but he sure advertised the two of his own that followed. Bouncers appeared from each corner of the room and beat him to the floor until he was an unresisting limp noodle of a man. Only then did the bartender call the law.
The courthouse came into view and it felt as though it was end of a much longer journey than the time it took to walk there from the ship. Poe looked to both Addy and Lizzie and then ascended a short flight of steps and entered through the wide double doors. A hard-faced officer of the law stood to one side of a metal detector and Poe felt himself sigh inwardly.
"Weapons," the man growled. He gestured toward a set of lockers, big enough to hold pistols and the like, with numbered keys hanging off the individual doors. "You'll get the back once you're done inside, providing both you and your guns are legal."
Poe spread his arms and turned, indicating he was weaponless, and stepped forward.
"The bag," the officer said with a sharp nod at the messenger bag. Behind and to the side, a second officer stood with one hand on his service weapon, with a watchful gaze that bordered on outright suspicious.
Poe passed it over and let them have their look. This too was familiar. After the war, everyone he knew had spent time in some Alliance camp or other while the purple-bellies figured out whether charges were needed or not. Poe, whose work as a scout and sniper had never been broadcasted, was not considered a war criminal. Probably would have been if they had known the extent of what he had done but that wasn't something he spoke about. Not to them. Not to anyone really.
"Name," the officer said, "and your business here."
"Quinlan Barrett Poe," he answered. "Got a meeting with Judge Rainbird."
"Step through the scanner," the officer said, his attention turned toward the screen which showed Poe's record. He could tell when the officer read it by the way his upper lip curled. He ignored it because getting into it with the guard wasn't going to get it done. Once he was on the other side, his bag was returned to him and he waited while Addy went through the same process.
She didn't much like being scanned and divested of anything worth a mite of protection to her, but then she hadn't left the ship armed this time. She was with Quinn and traveling with him felt like traveling in a bubble of safety in its own right. Not that she weren't vigilant. She saw the way he shifted, became watchful, and like a mirror image she did the same, though perhaps not quite as effectively. Still, she was learning.
Hands out to either side she waited while the guard ran a wand up and down her. Coveralls held more metal than folks liked and the scanner hadn't liked hers. Still, they cleared her without much ceremony, the guard who'd now been looking at her record eyeing her and Poe together with something like suspicious curiosity.
At the last second, as Lizzie stepped up for her own sweep, she remembered her manners. "Thank you sir," she offered, just loud enough for the two guards to hear her and register the tiniest mite of surprise. She suspected people didn't often thank them for the work they did.
Once through security, Poe led them down a corridor to a courtroom on the far end where Judge Rainbird was in session. He found himself a seat on the back row and made eye contact with the Judge who nodded almost imperceptibly in return. From then on, it was just a matter of waiting.
Meanwhile, the clerk announced the next case on the docket. "Boros versus Boniface Grimshaw."
"What are the charges," the Judge asked.
"Destruction of private property and drunk and disorderly, your honor," the clerk read.
"How do you plead," the Judge asked.
"I didn't do shit!" Boney cried out with his hands restrained behind his back. "All I wanted was to pay my tab and leave!"
"I'll take that as a plea of not guilty," the Judge said. He fixed a steely-eyed gaze on the defendant as he added, "there will be no outbursts in my courtroom. Are we clear on that?"
"Yeah, yeah, Judge..." Boney sulked in reply as he threw an angry look at the bailiff who had manhandled him into the courtroom.
Poe straightened as he watched Boney in front of Judge Rainbird and wasn't that a bit of a conundrum. Don't antagonize the judge. Don't antagonize the judge, he chanted silently. We need him on our side.
"So can I go?" Boney asked plainly.
"Not yet," the Judge said. "Are there any witnesses?"
The bartender came forward and spent the next ten minutes talking about Boney's behavior. And none of it was exactly complimentary.
"None o' that is true!" Boney protested and looked around for help. "Don't I get some kind of advocate? Someone tell the judge that ain't true! All right, so some of it might coulda' happened but not like he said! It's all wrong, like, twisted and... and... ta ma duh, this world sucks!"
From his seat in the back, Poe groaned silently and inched forward on his seat. Too much was riding on this and he wrestled, between standing up for his crew and doing what needed to be done about Stone.
"Language, Mr. Grimshaw," the Judge said mildly. "The essential points, as I understand it, are that you got into a fight in the bar during which some damage was done to the bar. You left the bar without paying your considerable bar tab."
Boney waved his hands in the air as he pulled his eyes back inside his head enough to overcome his stammer. "Bdbd-th-th-th ugh! They didn't give me the chance! I got beat down and tossed out right in front of the lawman right after one of those fat ass zhēnzhū xiàngliàn stole my cash too! Arrest them!"
The judge exchanged a glance with his clerk and from the imperceptible nod, he understood that his earlier warning about language had not been heeded (though he might have guessed considering the man's demeanor). "Disrespect to the court will not be tolerated, Mr. Grimshaw. This is your last warning on that score." He paused a moment. "Now, what evidence can you provide to support your claim that you were robbed?"
"I'm flat broke!" Boney shouted, pulling his pockets inside out. "Who goes to town with no money to their name? I ain't from here, so I got here somehow and..."
Try as he might to lay low, Poe couldn't sink low enough to hide from Boney's view. "Right there! Judge, that man right there is my cap'n! He can tell you I got paid my dues just today! I ain't sayin' I couldn't blow my whole wad in one place. I'm sayin' I never got the chance because Boros folk done showed themselves downright in-hos-pitable!" He enunciated the last word hard enough to spray spittle.
Judge Rainbird's gaze turned, slowly and inevitably, toward Poe who, as he rose to his feet, saw the judge wave him forward. You fight in a war, you learn to do what's needful even when you'd rather hide in a foxhole and walking forward felt a lot like that. He needed the Judge but then, Boney was crew. He came up to stand beside the man and frowned at the smell coming off him before turning toward the judge. "With respect, Judge," Poe said, "he did in fact get paid today though I have no notion what he did after he lit out for town."
"Thank you, Captain," the Judge said. He cocked his head slightly as he returned his attention to Boney. "So, you went to a bar. Just how much did you have to drink, Mr. Grimshaw?"
Not like he kept count, but Boney had sobered up enough not to blurt that out. Instead, he flipped the script. "How many drinks did they say I welched on?"
The owner of the bar spoke up from his seat. Alliance to the bone, he'd grown up in the business, so to speak, and he was good at sizing folk up. "The man drank like it was water and he was dying of thirst, your Honor," he said. "Told me to keep 'em coming."
"Is that a crime?" Boney protested. "In a pub of all places?" He pointed an angry finger at the barkeep. "You want my money, go check your boys. They ripped me off."
"I don't have 'boys.' Two sons in school and one in the military but I don't employ bouncers. Never needed to till now." He turned his attention back to the Judge almost at once. "Sorry, your honor. 1-1/2 ounce shots, the average bottle holds ... about ... 17, I think. He had more than half the bottle and a few pints beside." He folded his arms across his chest. "The more he drank, the more he started running his mouth. Insults and the like."
"So, at the very least, inebriated and causing a disturbance," the Judge said.
"Aye," the owner said. "He was at that. Think he insulted half my regulars without even trying and he weren't listening. Not to me, not to them."
"Singin' ain't against the law 'round here," Boney protested, though he immediately began to wonder whether it was. "'Least it ain't posted nowhere I saw. Every tavern song has a bawdy lyric or two. You gon' throw half the town in jail for that one?"
"You went far beyond singing and you know it," the owner snapped. He quieted immediately, remembering almost at once where he was. "Sorry, your honor."
"I seem to recall that you installed security cameras in the bar after that last incident," the Judge said. "Am I remembering correctly?"
"You are, your Honor," the owner said. "Had to." He flashed a look at Boney as he said, "Only way to know the truth of things."
Boney only looked slightly worried. From what he could remember, he had behaved himself. But, admittedly, his recollection might not be the most reliable. "Good," he said, nearly confidently. "Maybe we can see which mook robbed me!"
At the judge's signal, the security feed was played back and the events laid out for all to see. The defendant was 'marked' for ease of identification but it wasn't necessary. Boney was drinking hard and fast, talking all the while, and doing his best, intentionally or not, to antagonize a group of dock workers who had just come off a long shift. In a column to the right of the display a transcript of the curses and crude language that comprised the heated conversation scrolled past.
The dock workers rose to their collective feet, hard muscles flexing, under the barrage being thrown at them. The largest was the one who stepped forward, staring down into Boney's eyes. "No one talks about my mama," he growled and one oversized fist shot out, hitting Boney square in the jaw.
"No one talks about your daddy either," Boney shot back, "not since he went out to buy a pack of smokes and never came back!"
"The dock workers clearly threw the first blow," Judge Rainbird said. "Charges are dismissed. You are free to go Mr. Grimshaw." He banged his gavel as his gaze took in the individuals at the rear of his courtroom. "Court is adjourned for one hour."
The bailiff rose smoothly to his feet, his deep voice rumbled out across the courtroom. "All rise."
And as Poe, along with everyone else complied, Judge Rainbird angled his head toward his chambers and then exited the courtroom in a sweep of robes.