Category Archives: Rise of the Judge

Day of Dread, Part Fifteen

Continued from Part Fourteen

On the day the continuance ended, Snyder walked over to Hollerman’s table and handed Hollerman a piece of paper. “A couple more stipulations for you to sign.”

Hollerman read them. “This seems basic.” Hollerman pulled a pen out and signed.

“Well, it beats having to spend ten days in court to establish all this.”

“It’s a pity I have to hang you, Snyder. You would’ve been good in the JAG.”

Thanks, I think.

Snyder returned to the defense table.

Judge Appel entered. Everyone rose until the judge sat and then retook their seats.

The judge said, “Specialist Snyder, are you ready to proceed?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“Major Hollerman?”

He said, “Yes, your honor.”

Snyder stood. “The defense calls Rogaine Raulston.”

A small, balding man with a patch of new growth was sworn in and sat in the witness stand. Snyder asked, “Mr. Raulston, what is your occupation?”

“I’m a personal shopper.”

“What do you help people shop for?”

“Concubines. They’re the ideal gift to give the lonely single in your life for Valentines Day, but it can be tricky determining the right buy.”

Snyder swallowed bile. “What do you re-quire to make a recommendation?”

“A background report and a psychological profile.”

“Did you get such a report for me?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Was a concubine purchased for me?”

“No, the client asked some questions and paid for consulting, but never made the buy.”

“What was your recommendation?”

“I advised the party to try a book. Based on your profile, I concluded you wouldn’t be a good match for a concubine and would view the gift negatively.”

“Were there any types of concubines you especially warned the party about?”

“Yes, I thought a black concubine would be particularly displeasing, given the attitudes you described your mother having in your con-fidential psychiatric file.”

“How did you get the file?”

“The client sent it to me.”

“Who was your client.”

Raulston flipped through electronic pages on an Iboard. “Mr. Paul Dread.”

A gasp went from the jury box.

The judge slammed down the gavel.

Snyder constrained his grin. “Your honor, I’d like to enter the report sent by Mr. Raulston to Colonel Dread as Exhibit B for identification. Your witness, Major.”

Continued Next Thursday

Tales of the Dim Knight is available in Paperback form, in the Kindle Store as well as on Smashwords in a variety of formats. At both sites, you can get extensive free excerpts on your computer, or sent directly to your Kindle device from the Kindle store.

Day of Dread, Part Fourteen

Continued from Part Thirteen

At the end of Merle’s direct examination of the imperial law expert, Snyder stood at the defense table. “Your honor, I would like to dis-miss my attorney.”

Judge Appel leaned forward. “Specialist Snyder, have you ever heard the saying a man who is his own attorney has a fool for a client?”

“Yes, I believe a lawyer coined it.”

The jurors tittered in laughter. The judge banged the gavel. “Are you aware you cannot appeal on the basis of your own incompetence, and that, as an attorney, you are expected to act as an officer of this court and will be held to that standard?”

Merle stood. “Your honor, could I confer with my client?”

Snyder said, “Ex-client.”

Hollerman came over to the defense table. “Charlie, it’s not pleasant to be dismissed, but don’t take it personally. It happens. Leave with some dignity.” Hollerman returned to his table.  “If it pleases the court, the prosecution asks that Specialist Snyder’s request be granted and that Captain Merle be dismissed with no negative comment on his performance.”

The judge said, “Well, if it’s okay with the prosecution, we can now proceed to the cross-examination.”

As Hollerman cross-examined the Imperi-al law scholar, all of the arguments might as well have been in Greek. However, Hollerman stayed away from badgering and other obvious violations, so Snyder remained seated.

At eleven o’clock, Hollerman said, “No further questions, your honor.”

Snyder stood. “Your honor, I want to take my defense in a different direction, so, if it pleases the court, I’d like to request a seven day continuance to gather evidence.”

The judge frowned. “If you wanted to take a different direction, you shouldn’t have taken over right before the end of the trip.”

Hollerman stood. “If it pleases the court, could I have a moment with the Defense?”

At the judge’s nod, Hollerman came over to the defense table. “Snyder, I’ll give you your week. My only condition is that you don’t file an appeal alleging incompetence by Merle. This wasn’t a great trial for him, but he’ll be a good lawyer someday if he doesn’t get destroyed by an appeals court judge.”

“Fair enough.”

Hollerman walked back to his table. “Your honor, this is a Capital case. We should always have everything done in such a way that it’s in-disputable that we’ve provided a fair trial. I recommend we grant a one week continuance so Specialist Snyder can make whatever prepa-rations are necessary to make his defense.”

Snyder stood. “Your honor, I also ask to be relocated. The examinations I receive are not helpful to legal thinking.”

“What if we agree to leave you where you are, but no examinations?“ Hollerman turned to face Dread. “If I hear of any examinations, those who perpetrate them will themselves face court martial.” Hollerman turned to Snyder. “Is that agreeable?”

“Okay. I’ll also need a couple investigators with subpoena power.”

“Who are your investigators?”

Um, Mama and my eldest brother. “Azura Borden and Cerulean Borden.”

Hollerman smiled. “This will be amusing.”

Tales of the Dim Knight is available in Paperback form, in the Kindle Store as well as on Smashwords in a variety of formats. At both sites, you can get extensive free excerpts on your computer, or sent directly to your Kindle device from the Kindle store.

Day of Dread, Part Thirteen

Continued from Part Twelve

A few minutes later, McGraw opened Snyder’s cell door. “There, now everything’s been set up to look like you never left.”

Dread! Set up. Snyder’s eyes widened.  Their last mission. “You’re a genius.  Its been all set up to make it look like it was just a normal death, but it was murder.”

“What are you talking about?” McGraw laughed. “You’re just like your dad. Jim had these moments, and I never got them.”

Snyder grimaced. “McGraw, let’s get one thing straight. Genetics might say ‘Jim’ was my father, but I’ve never had a dad.”

“Touchy.”

 I’ll pretend you said touché. “Right. Have you hacked my personal e-mail?”

“Not recently—I mean no.”

“Well, hack it. I’ll be posting some drafts indicating what I’ll need. Send what I need to the courthouse.”

McGraw handed him the Jack of Spades. “Kid, you got my personal guarantee. What’s the plan?”

“For me to play a game called, ‘Lawyer.’”

Continued Next Thursday

Tales of the Dim Knight is available in Paperback form, in the Kindle Store as well as on Smashwords in a variety of formats. At both sites, you can get extensive free excerpts on your computer, or sent directly to your Kindle device from the Kindle store.

Day of Dread, Part Twelve

Continued from Part Eleven

A hand slapped Snyder across the chops. “Kid, wake up.”

Snyder opened his eyes. In the back of a red conversion van, Blackjack McGraw sat over him despite being declared dead a decade ago at least.

“Blackjack, what are you doing here? More to the point, what am I doing here?”

“No need to thank me. It was a tough job, but when Nick Verducci sought me out to break you out of jail, I told him to keep the money.”

“That explains it. Doesn’t Verducci own a few public harems?”

“I’ve never needed to use one.” Blackjack stared into a pocket mirror and adjusted his hair. “Come to think of it, he probably does.”

“Then we know what his angle is, and it’s not ‘I like you, kid.’ If I leave town, more men will be going to his harem when I’m convicted in my absence and unable to appeal. Blackjack, I need your help.”

“What do you need?”

“I need you to break me back into jail.”

McGraw stared. “You sure they didn’t beat you too hard the last time?”

“Do you want to start visiting public harems regularly?”

“I’ll have you back in a jiffy.”

Continued Next Thursday

Tales of the Dim Knight is available in Paperback form, in the Kindle Store as well as on Smashwords in a variety of formats. At both sites, you can get extensive free excerpts on your computer, or sent directly to your Kindle device from the Kindle store.

Day of Dread, Part Eleven

Continued from Part Ten

Snyder sat in his cell. His beaten back felt raw even with healing balm applied so Hewitt would have a fresh skin to stripe next time.

The cell block door slid up and admitted a female guard.

I’ve not seen her before. But wait, I have.

Mama Borden stopped in front of his cell, wearing the guards’ uniform and heavy make-up to hide the wrinkles.

Snyder gasped. “Mama?”

She put a key in the cell door and turned it. “That’s Private Cyanne Jones-Walker.”

“I’m a Specialist. Are you going to salute?”

“Boy, drop the smart talk and come on. Cerulean’s got a car waiting.”

“That’s great, but, how did you get in?”

“I had a calculator in my coat and copied Dread’s passcode when he entered it. While I was wailing and screaming, I was looking for a way into the jail.”

“You disassociated.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You weren’t Mama watching your baby get beaten, you were ol’ Harriet, tryin’ to figure out how to break into jail and putting on so that nobody would suspect you.”

“It worked, didn’t it? Now come.”

“Mama, I can’t.”

“What do you mean? You got a car parked down the street and forty thousand American that Cerulean and I got by selling everything we couldn’t pack. You can.”

“Somebody told me nobody would die for a harem girl. If I leave, I’ll be sentenced while absent, there’d be no appeal, and really bad law would take root.”

“But you got to come. This world can go to Hell. No cracker’s gonna beat my baby.” Tears, real ones began to trickle down Mama Borden’s face. “God forgive me. I almost killed them.”

 “You couldn’t have killed them.”

“The guard was too intent on watching the ‘fun.’ I could have grabbed his gun.”

“Do you know how to turn off the safety?”

Mama Borden raised an eyebrow. “What’s a safety?”

“A reason not to feel guilty. You would’ve just embarrassed yourself. But let me see the gun in your holster.”

Mama Borden pulled it out. Snyder eyed it. “Safety’s on, good. So how’d you take care of the usual guard?”

“We had ourselves a friendly conversation over cider. I drugged his second cup.”

“You better get out before he comes to.”

Mama Borden gave Snyder a hug. Snyder winced. She started to cry again, but wiped the tears away. “I’ll drop the keys with our friend. But if you convicted, I’ll be back.”

Snyder watched Mama Borden leave and laid down and closed his eyes.

Continued Next Thursday

Tales of the Dim Knight is available in Paperback form, in the Kindle Store as well as on Smashwords in a variety of formats. At both sites, you can get extensive free excerpts on your computer, or sent directly to your Kindle device from the Kindle store.

Day of Dread, Part Ten

Continued from Part Nine

Snyder sat on a bench in the back of the prison van with Mama Borden. “Mama, you shouldn’t have come. Dread has no thought that isn’t evil.”

“Anny, listen to me. I ain’t just some old lady. I may be pushin’ sixty—”

“Mama, you’re sixty-seven.”

“I can handle myself. I got your brothers and sisters out of worse spots.”

Snyder whispered, “They were micro-scopic embryos. You can’t inject me into your uterus unless you have a shrinking ray, which only exists in the movies.”

 “I told you, Mama will take care of it, and when I say that, I mean it.”

The van stopped.

Dread opened the back door and escorted them towards the jail. “Mrs. Borden, I hope you enjoyed your trip.”

Mama sneered. “It was a pleasure cruise.”

“I see where he gets it. Here’s a visitor badge.” Dread pressed buttons on a keypad at the jail door, which slid up.

Dread handed Snyder his jail clothes. “Go and change. These clothes look lovely on you.”

Snyder snarled. “Maybe I’ll arrange to get you a set someday.”

In a changing room, he traded his dress khakis for the gray prison uniform. He came back out.

Dread smiled. “Very good. Come this way, everyone.”

The guard led Dread, Snyder, and Mama Borden towards the cell blocks.

They passed the cell block.

Oh no. They couldn’t make mama watch this.

Snyder turned to Dread. “If you’ve got any decency, you’ll send her outside.”

Dread laughed. “Unfortunately for her, I haven’t any.”

They brought Snyder into the examination room with Mama Borden behind him.

Sergeant Hewitt stood by the whipping post. “You didn’t think I couldn’t be fair. But I promise, I treat you just like everybody else.”

Hewitt strapped Snyder to the post and powered up the shock fork.

Mama Borden shrieked, totally unlike her, “What are you doing?”

Dread waved at Snyder. “An examination, an approved method of questioning to find out additional info about the terrorist’s crimes.”

 “What do you hope to find out?”

 “A little of this, a little of that. You never know what you’ll find unless you look.”

Hewitt raised the shock fork.

Snyder braced himself and shut his eyes. His mother’s shrill cries rang through them.

Did Mary feel like Mama does right now?

Continued Next Thursday

Tales of the Dim Knight is available in Paperback form, in the Kindle Store as well as on Smashwords in a variety of formats. At both sites, you can get extensive free excerpts on your computer, or sent directly to your Kindle device from the Kindle store.

Day of Dread, Part Nine

Continued from Part Eight

Merle packed up his papers.

Snyder said, “It moves.”

“That was embarrassing, Snyder.”

“So is hanging. Even I know Hollerman was way out of line. What were you doing?”

“What are you talking about? The man’s brilliant. In getting an acquittal, objecting like a bad TV lawyer won’t help.”

“So what’s your next plan, Perry Mason?”

Merle blinked. “Who?”

I forgot. I’m in the land of the philistines. “Never mind. What’s your plan?”

“I’ll call an Imperial law expert who dis-agrees with Hollerman regarding the Imperial charter.”

“So you can let Hollerman destroy your law expert just like he destroyed Dr. Boulet?”

“Look, this is good law I’m practicing.”

“I’d hate to see bad law. You were so stiff, you should be thankful we don’t hold court outdoors. There’d be pigeons landing on you.”

“Anything else?”

“That whole ‘rough men’ quote was taken from Orwell, whose works are banned by the Empire.”

Merle smiled. “Great. One question. How did you know that?”

Snyder swallowed. “I see your point.”

They couldn’t get Hollerman in trouble for reading forbidden literature unless Snyder ad-mitted to reading it. Besides, Hollerman could claim he didn’t know Orwell had said it. People still said ‘big brother’ to refer to intrusive gov-ernment policies even though Orwell had been banned for fifty years along with other authors that would cause stress by making the people distrust the Imperial government.

“Thanks for nothing, Merle.” Snyder walk-ed towards the waiting guard.

Mama Borden called, “Don’t worry, baby! Mama will take care of everything!”

Snyder smiled. That’d be what she’d tell him when he came to her with a scraped knee when he was a boy. A gallows was a lot harder to deal with.

Dread joined Mama Borden. “Pardon me, Mrs. Borden, would you like to accompany Specialist Snyder back to the stockade?”

No way, there’s something wrong here.

Mama smiled. “Why, thank you, Colonel, I think I will.”

Snyder swallowed. This wouldn’t be good.

Continued Next Thursday

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Day of Dread, Part Eight

Continued from Part Seven

The next day, the prosecution rested at three oclock. Captain Merle stood. Defense calls Doctor Marie Boulet.

The military psychiatrist took the stand.

Merle said, After examining Specialist Snyder, what is your evaluation of Colonels Dreads order?

Dr. Boulet replied, I believe the order was psychologically abusive to Specialist Snyder.

Could you elaborate?

Of prime importance is sexual autonomy. Decisions by persons about sexuality must be made consensually by the persons involved.

Merle lifted a document from off the de-fense table. The Defense would like to enter as exhibit A… Merle walked across to the pros-ecution table and slapped the document on Hollermans desk. Article two of the Imperial Charter granting the right of sexual autonomy to all persons.

Hollerman chuckled.

Snyder sighed. This is not good.

Merle said, Dr. Boulet, what is the appro-priate word for forcing someone to perform a sexual act against their will?

Rape.

So youre saying Colonel Dreads order to Specialist Snyder was the equivalent of rape.

Hollerman said, Objection!

Merle held up his hand. Withdrawn. He turned to Dr. Boulet. Were there other factors that would have extenuated this for Snyder?

He was raised in a black home. The girl chosen reminded him of his sisters. Further, his family indoctrinated him to believe that trade in non-persons restores the inhumane slave trade, which evilly regarded black persons as animals. This lie has led to a strong inhibition.

What would have been the psychological impact had Snyder obeyed Dreads orders?

He was not capable of obeying. To do so would have psychologically devastated him.

Thank you. Your witness, Major.

Hollerman stood. Dr. Boulet, how long would you say have you been in his Imperial Majestys service?

Eleven years.

Would you say your average Imperial Soldier is mentally healthy?

Boulet swallowed. I couldnt say.

Really? Hollerman walked over to his desk and pulled out a piece of paper from a file folder. Your honor, if it pleases the court, Id ask this be labeled Prosecution Exhibit Eight for identification, an article that appeared in the American Journal of Psychology seven years ago concerning mental illness among members of the military. The article alleges higher rates of a wide range of mental disorders brought on by post-traumatic stress syndrome. Could you tell me who wrote this article, doctor?

I did, but

I didnt ask for an essay, doctor. Tell me, could you tell me, Dr. Boulet, is the execution of terrorists psychologically healthy?

It can cause trauma.

So should allow traitors to run wild?

Snyder leaned over to Merle. Object.

Merle shrugged.

Boulet licked her lips. My job is to treat my patients, not to propose policy changes.

Thats not what you wrote seven years ago. You laid out that the military ought to cease the execution of non-violent terrorists for the mental stability of soldiers and the long-term good of society.

Objection!

Everyone turned. Mama Borden stood in the visitors galley, shaking her fist. There wasn’t even a question in that!

Judge Appel banged his gavel. Order! Madam, be seated, or I’ll remove you from my court. Major, proceed.

Mama Borden sat down.

Hollerman said to Dr. Boulet, Do you think we ought to weaken our military to make it more friendly to mental health?

Dr. Boulet coughed. Im not here for a political debate.

Snyder glared at Merle, who apparently thought he was posing for painting.

Hollerman moved in inches from Boulets face. We do not need to be soft on non-violent traitors. We need a tough military. Civilians can only sleep in their bed because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do them harm of any kind. Isn’t it true that you seek to undermine this?

Snyder stood. Objection! Badgering the witness, argumentative, and irrelevant.

Judge Appel banged his gavel. Specialist Snyder, sit down. You have representation.

Snyder glared at Merle. My apologies, your honor. I couldn’t tell.

Major Hollerman, Im inclined to agree with Specialist Snyder regarding this line of questioning. Do you have any other questions?

Hollerman sighed. No, your honor.

Then I think it appropriate to adjourn until tomorrow. The judge banged the gavel.

Continued Next Thursday

Subscribe to Laser & Sword by Email to get the next part and all the rest of our free offerings delivered to you. To find out what happens sooner, visit theLaser and Sword Online store and download Issue 1 for free or purchase the Annual Editioncontaining 11 action packed stories

Day of Dread, Part Seven

Continued from Part Six

The MP shook his head. You can speak to him during visiting hours.

Im in command of Specialist Snyders department. I need to discuss something with him regarding the case.

Merle lifted his index finger. If its about the case, we can go to a conference room.

Kendal shook her head. Id like to speak with Snyder privately. Maybe we could step outside for a smoke.

Merle said to the MP, Take them to the smoking area and give them ten minutes. Ill ensure that its cleared.

As you order, sir. The MP led Snyder and Kendal out to the smoking area. A lone lieutenant dangled a cigarette. The Lieutenant put out his cigarette and headed in.

Snyder reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a cigarillo. I thought youd quit.

After this, Im doing a pack a day again. But I thought you only did cigars?

They dont give us enough time to smoke a good cigar in here.

Im going to tell the truth.

Snyder puffed on the cigarillo. About?

About me forcing Dread to promote you and that he asked me to dance for some of his friends to amuse them. When I didnt, he stuck me with jobs that would never be assigned to a Master First Sergeant.

Youd be confessing to extortion. Itd be the end of your career.

Itd saved your life.

Id be an accessory after the fact.

Ill tell them I didnt tell you. Dreads credibility will be destroyed.

If you stay in, youd lose your command of the Religious Intelligence specialists.

I got you in this.

Im not going to let innocent people die because some desk jockey found out about their church. Please, let me handle this. Im going to see Dr. Boulet. Shell help us.

And what if you get sentenced to death.

Snyder took a puff on his cigar. Then I go to plan B.

Whats that?

Im working on it.

Continued Next Thursday

Subscribe to Laser & Sword by Email to get the next part and all the rest of our free offerings delivered to you. To find out what happens sooner, visit theLaser and Sword Online store and download Issue 1 for free or purchase the Annual Editioncontaining 11 action packed stories

Day of Dread, Part Six

Continued from Part Five

Snyder walked into the courtroom in his khaki dress uniform and at sat down at the table next to Captain Merle.

Merle said, I requested two enlisted men be on the jury. They might be more sympathetic than the officers.

Snyder stared up at the jury table, spotted Baby Hueys ugly mug, and glared at Merle. What are you trying to pull?

I dont know what you mean.

Hewitts on the jury. That palooka beat me as part of my interrogation.

Well get that straightened out. Merle walked to the balding major at the prosecution table and spoke to him inaudibly.

The major glared at Colonel Dread. What the hell do you and your friend think youre trying to pull? I want that boy to hang, not to have this overturned because we had a ringer on the jury!

Dread snarled. Do you know what this Eagle means?

Yeah, that youre subject to court martial. If youre anything less than cooperative, you will be in need of Captain Merles services. Is that understood?

Dread nodded.

Merle returned to the Defense table. No problem. Hollerman will have Hewitt removed, and well delay the case until tomorrow after some preliminary matters are taken care of.

An elderly colonel entered the courtroom wearing a black robe.

The bailiff said, All rise, the Court Martial of Specialist A. L. Snyder is now in session, Colonel Lance Appel presiding.

The entire courtroom rose.

The judge took his seat. Be seated. Major Hollerman, Captain Merle, are you read to proceed?

Major Hollerman said, Your honor, if it pleases the court, we will not go to trial. An serious error was made. The prosecution just learned that Sergeant Hewitt was involved in the arrest and therefore would not be suitable to serve on the jury.

Judge Appel said, Sergeant Hewitt, is that correct?

Sergeant Hewitt shrugged. I examined him, but I dont know if hes guilty.

Hollerman smiled. While the Prosecution is sure Sergeant Hewitt is completely unbiased regarding the men he flogs, in the interest of the appearance of justice, we move Sergeant Hewitt be dismissed.

Merle said, Defense has no objection.

Judge Appel said, Sergeant Hewitt, you are dismissed.

Hewitt stood and saluted.

Judge Appel said, A replacement will be assigned. The trial will commence tomorrow.

Major Hollerman said, One thing further. On review of the accusation Colonel Dread submitted, the prosecution would like to move to dismiss the third item in the complaint.

The judge, Merle, and the members of the jury turned to the third page of the complaint.

Hollerman said, Given that Donovan the Steward encouraged enlisted soldiers to contact his helpline, contacting it could not be insubordination. The prosecution hence moves for the dismissal of count three.

Merle smiled. We have no objection.

The judge said, Count three is dismissed. If theres no further business before this court, well stand in recess until tomorrow morning. Judge Appel slammed his gavel.

Snyder glared at Merle. Why werent you making these motions?

Hollerman always does that.

So he can impress even the enlisted men of the jury with how fair he is.

Well, he is fair. And he does well with juries. Hes never lost a case.

Cheery. Has he always had you as his opponent?

Now look. Ive won plenty of cases when not facing Hollerman. Hes very good, and he always makes sure everything is done properly and that there are no grounds for appeals.

And I got the President of his fan club as my attorney. Maybe Ill represent myself.

Merle chortled. Anyone who represents themselves has a fool for a client. Itll be tough to get you off, impossible without counsel. Merle paused. Do you know Dr. Boulet?

Yea, shes gotten me on her couch.

Were scheduled to meet with her in an hour. Shes a fantastic expert witness and could blow Hollermans case apart.

Snyder perked up. Thanks!

An MP approached.

Snyder sighed. Guess I get to go change into my jail uniform now.

He and Merle followed the MP out of the courtroom and into the hall.

Sergeant Kendall approached them. She said, Can I speak to the prisoner?

Continued Next Thursday

Subscribe to Laser & Sword by Email to get the next part and all the rest of our free offerings delivered to you. To find out what happens sooner, visit theLaser and Sword Online store and download Issue 1 for free or purchase the Annual Editioncontaining 11 action packed stories