Alrighty, Liza. We have a chill chapter for the first time in a long time and it’s your turn to narrate.
Do us proud.
Links below for the rest of the parts:
(if you guys haven’t noticed, this is way longer than Blank Mastermind. XD)
Despite the fact that I wasn’t losing a limb this time, I was still not thrilled to be back in the hospital.
A bloody hole through my leg really wasn’t making things out to be fun in the first place. But knowing that News and Wolfy were just in rooms down the hall and I couldn’t get up and see them and they couldn’t see me made it worse.
I spent a little over a week just lying around, getting my bandages changed . . . getting my wound painfully cleaned over and over again . . . lasting only off snippets of what was happening in the outside world.
Maxine had gotten shot dead, thankfully. She definitely deserved it, after all that. Shooting me was one thing. But she’d done that to hurt Wolfgang, not me. And then tossed us both in the freezer, again just for the pure reason of terrifying Wolfy. She deserved everything she got and more.
News had gotten out of the hospital the quickest, so I was told. But I really found it odd that I hadn’t heard a peep from him since I’d gotten in here. Usually he’d be making the rounds and saying hi to everyone. Smuggling in ice cream and all that.
Well, they said they were pretty much keeping Wolfgang unconscious because of some lung damage or whatnot. Maybe News thought they had me under as well and didn’t see the use of popping by.
Something like that.
But finally, after some convincing of the nurses with some help from Dallas, I was released just in time for the trial to bring Silverwing down. Still on a crutch. But out of the hospital nonetheless.
I swung my crutch out ahead of me as I walked down the hall, still escorted by a nurse. None of them trusted me unsupervised around here. Even if I did link in a new function on my arm to hook in the crutch really well.
I blew a blue strand of hair out of my face and peered down the hall, trying to remember Wolfgang’s room number.
Funny. Last time he was the one gimping his way down the hall to see me.
I spotted the room I thought was it and stopped for a second, catching my breath.
“Are you doing alright?” asked the nurse.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just . . . I was gonna go pop in really quick and say hello to Wolfy before we headed out, if that’s okay?” I turned to look over at her.
Her smooth brow furrowed slightly. “You do know he’s . . . probably still sleeping, correct?”
“I know, I know. Just want to see his face really quick. Last time I saw it was all covered in blood, so it’ll be nice to cleanse the palette.” I gave the nurse a sideways smile and limped my way over to the doorway while she waited where I’d left her.
Summer sunlight came in through the window, spilling across the room. The little nurse who’d looked after Wolfy last time . . . Abby, if I remembered right . . . sat in the corner, reading.
Wolfgang was out cold, just like the other nurse had said. Bandages stuck on different spots around his face and there was some sort of breathing tube hooked up to him. But yeah, he looked better than the last time I saw him. Not as covered in blood and bruises.
He had his leather jacket draped over the end of his bed, folded up and washed. And he wasn’t awake to defend how stupid he looked in that old hospital gown.
I bit back a bit of a smirk, edging my way into the room.
Abby looked up, raising her eyebrows for a second before smiling at me. “Hello, can I help with anything?”
I shook my head, stopping by the foot of Wolfgang’s bed. “Not really. Just wanted to stop in and see how he’s doing.”
“Better. Definitely better, but it’ll still be a bit before we can let him go. He just needs to rest and lie still so we’re mostly . . . keeping him sedated.” Abby nodded, tucking her light brown hair behind one ear. She looked back up at me. “And you’re on the mend, I see.”
“More or less.” I looked over at Wolfgang, leaning down to finger the hem of his jacket. “Needed to get out for this SPI trial thing that’s going on. Witness for myself and . . . on Wolfy’s behalf since . . . well, he’s not going anywhere.”
Abby nodded, setting her book to the side. “The trial about Silverwing and the heroes, right? That’s really big.”
I nodded, my stomach tightening just a little.
Dallas had said it was one of the rarer public trials that the SPI was in charge of. Everyone wanted to know what was happening. It would be televised nationwide.
“Well, I hope it goes alright.” Abby’s small mouth curved into a red painted smile.
It was just . . . weird. Having what Wolfgang had nearly gotten himself killed for actually being resolved while he wasn’t even awake to see it.
This had just better go well.
I considered for a moment before leaning over and picking up the leather jacket. Not like Wolfgang would notice it was gone or anything.
I held the jacket up and slung it over my shoulder. “You know, I think I’ll borrow Fredrick one last time. For luck.”
Abby blinked, looking stuck half between confusion and protest as I limped for the door.
“The jacket,” I explained, slipping one arm in. “And hopefully Wolfgang’s good luck charm.”
Talk about a public event…
The SPI open courtroom was practically boiling with people. Reporters with microphones and cameras. SPI agents. Just normal people who were trying to get in to see. Everyone was yelling over one another and waving and shoving around. It was giving me a headache.
I wrinkled my nose, adjusting the collar on Wolfy’s jacket as I followed Dallas through the doorway into the room. “Looks like a bloody mob,” I remarked, having to raise my voice so he could hear me.
Dallas didn’t answer, stiffly pushing ahead to our seats near the front and looking pale. He mumbled “excuse me”, “pardon me” and “I’m sorry” to nearly everyone we passed, whether he bumped into them or not.
The aisles slanted downwards as we walked and the seating rows curved around the stand in the center. The setup was sort of like an amphitheater, from what I could see. But I couldn’t see much through the crush of bodies.
Questions from reporters buzzed in the air and I kept having to push away microphones shoved in my face.
“Miss Allister, is it true that you were shot by a super who could shoot bullets from their bare hands?”
“Miss Allister, did Silverwing really throw you in a freezer?”
“Miss Allister, why are you the one wearing the Wolf’s jacket now?”
I could see why witnesses had to be escorted by an agent now. But really, someone like Dallas wasn’t too much of a bodyguard.
Dallas’s polite poking through the crowd didn’t seem to be getting us anywhere fast. I pushed up from behind him, gimping along on my crutch as I moved around. More people moved for my being in front than they had for his and we got to the front much faster.
“Where are we sitting?” I asked in a half-shout.
Dallas nodded his head towards the second bench that was on our right, not even trying to communicate verbally over the din.
I looked where he indicated and noted with some chagrin that Franklin already sat on one end, one arm thrown over the wooden bench back and his legs crossed. A smile crossed his face as he saw us and he waved, seemingly not bothered at all by all the noise.
Dallas stood back, adjusting his green striped tie and waiting for me to take my seat.
I sighed and slid in. I still kept a good distance from Franklin. As much as I could on the short bench.
My leg bumped against the wood as I moved my crutch and I flinched, muttering an inaudible curse under my breath.
Dallas sat down next to me, folding his hands in his lap. He bounced one knee and chewed on his lip. His gaze stayed focused on the stand in front of us and away from all the people.
“Hey,” Franklin leaned over to touch my shoulder and grinned. “Nice to see you again. We’ll be takin’ Silverwing down together, huh?” Somehow he managed to hit the perfect pitch of his voice rising just above the crowd chatter, but not sounding too loud.
I was glad for the layer of leather in between my skin and his fingers. “Hmm.”
He leaned back easily. A slight frown crossed his face. “Hey, isn’t that Dank’s jacket?”
“Yep.” I zipped it up, still not meeting his gaze.
The room was just as loud as before, but the silence between us was noticeable and awkward.
Franklin cleared his throat. “Well, we should pretty much have this in the bag. I helped Dallas dig up more info than he could ever wish for.” He craned his neck around. “Ain’t that right, Dall?”
Dallas nodded distractedly, focused on twisting his hands in his lap.
“Yeah, see?” Franklin leaned back again, swiping his hair back out of his face with one hand. “I’m a hero.”
I ignored him.
On the bench across the aisle from us, a tall figure with a fedora and sunglasses and a short girl with fluffy blonde hair slid into their seats.
Hey, News is gonna witness too? He looked in as good of health as ever. Just good old News, looking like he always did. For the first time since we’d gotten anywhere near the building, my spirits lifted a little.
Bad News sat down as Kaity’s mouth moved, probably explaining something by the way News nodded. He adjusted his tie a little and turned his head slightly in our direction.
I peered around Dallas, putting up my metal hand and waving at him. “Hey! News!” My voice was lost in the racket around me.
News just finished adjusting his tie and turned back towards the front with no change in expression.
I lowered my hand, frowning. I could have sworn . . .
There’re a lot of people around. And more important things to do than wave around. He’s probably saving all the chit-chat for later.
Franklin seemed to read my mind and nodded. “Yeeep, Baden and me, we know how court works. No funny business in here. All professional.”
I rolled my eyes and leaned back against the bench. My gaze went up to the stand just as the judge took his place in the tall seat at the front. A couple SPI agents in front of the stand put up their hands up and someone gave a short whistle.
The chatter quieted. People found their seats. Reporters went back into some semblance of a formation near the back wall.
The judge, a surprisingly young man with neatly combed blond hair straightened in his seat and scanned the room over. Like he was deciding whether we were all worthy of being there. We apparently passed the test because he gave a nod, looking down at whatever he had on his desk.
“This is the public trial and witnessing against the alleged organization of Silverwing. Actions to be taken will be decided on afterwards.”
He looked back up. “Now. Connecting back to the case of former HP director, Derrick Mansley, this would explain what he was involved in, how he got the resources he did, etcetera. There have been many public events pointing to this theoretical organization over the past month. The appearance of mysterious superpowers, and more recently the strange behavior of the former Heroes . . .”
The judge was obviously reading off a script, but he spoke like he’d just come up with it all on the spot. With a bit of curiosity and energy involved. At least this didn’t seem like this would be a total bore. Depending on how long he talked.
I let out my breath and started to lean back.
Another agent stepped forward, clasping his hands. “We will now hear from our first witness regarding Silverwing: Miss Liza Allister.”
My muscles stiffened. The judge – and in turn, everyone in the room – turned to look in my direction.
I sat back up, fumbling to grab my crutch again. Jeez, I didn’t know they’d be calling me up so early on . . .
I got on my feet and edged back out past Dallas into the aisle. As I moved down to the stand, I wondered how I’d never thought that stares could be felt before. I could feel everyone’s gazes locked on me and it was giving me goosebumps.
Dallas had given me the rundown on SPI trial procedure and everything beforehand. I knew what I was supposed to do.
I got to the front. There was the whole thing of putting my hand on the Bible and swearing to tell the truth. Which I did with my metal hand, so that got a few weird looks.
But then there I was up on a stand near the judge.
I let out my breath, cuffing up the sleeves of Fredrick and biting down on the inside of my cheek.
“So, Miss Allister,” began the agent I guessed to be playing the part of some lawyer in this trial. He turned towards me. “Is it true that you and Mr. Dankworth were taken as prisoners of this organization, Silverwing? This being where you sustained the bullet wound to your leg?”
I nodded. “That would be correct.” My gaze wandered back over towards the benches I’d just come from. Kaity and Franklin both watched me. Dallas watched his hands. News was fiddling with his tie again and looking bothered.
“And you were both caught in the act of breaking in to free Agent Knight, who was imprisoned inside?” The agent kept facing me, his hands behind his back and his eyes hidden behind his sunglasses.
“Would you like to tell us of those events? Of what organization details you know about Silverwing?”
I took a deep breath. “Absolutely.”
It took a while to tell, for sure. But I’d had enough time to get my thoughts together on the matter and moved through with minimal rabbit-trails.
Starting right off with Wolfy getting his superpowers and everything I knew about the nanites. What I knew from Dallas. From the opera incident. And then the bit about breaking in, using Wolfgang’s keychain as a key, and being captured.
I faltered at the part where my metal arm got taken control of. When I’d whacked Wolfgang and punched myself in the head wasn’t my finest moment. But . . . the whole truth, eh? Best to get it all out there.
“ . . . and then when I came to, Wolfgang and I were both tied up. Wolf had a power inhibitor cuff around his ankle, so he couldn’t burn through the rope. Maxine had taken the gun and she was angry with Wolfgang for ‘betraying the cause’ and all that. He said something that put a bee in her bonnet and . . . well . . . I don’t remember too much after that since I got . . .” I gestured to my leg, pressing my lips together.
I started to speak again, picking up the story, but caught myself before coming out with the bit about Wolfgang’s claustrophobia. Nationally televised court proceedings wouldn’t be the best place to mention that touchy subject for him.
And besides, he’d made me promise not to tell after I’d found out about it. I wasn’t gonna do that to him.
I fingered the cuffs of the jacket and bit my tongue, rewording the next part in my head.
The agent quizzing me down raised his eyebrows and tilted his head. “Do you remember nothing of the experience past that point?”
“No, there’s more.” I pushed a piece of hair back behind one ear. “Maxine had figured out from Wolfgang that I . . . had a problem with small spaces. So to both kill us and make it especially torturous, she . . . locked us both in a walk-in freezer.”
That definitely got the shocked gasps and everything from the audience. Reporters scribbled notes and snapped pictures.
“It was on, so it was extremely cold. Very little air . . .” I trailed off. That was around where my memory got really fuzzy. “Wolfgang somehow managed to get the freezer back open and get us both back out. That was where Bad News found us.”
I smiled a little, looking over towards News.
Kaity elbowed him as he looked up towards me. He gave an awkward grin and wave.
I saluted back before turning to the agent again. “That’s really all I have on the front of Silverwing. The rest of my evening was taken up with my leg feeling bloody awful.”
The agent nodded. “Thank you, Miss Allister, you may return to your seat.”
And I did.
I took a breath and let it out as I sat back down. I didn’t realize how shaky my legs had gotten while I was up there. I’d actually been a little nervous.
Still nothing to contest Dallas’s obvious, extreme nervousness, but it was nervous for me.
“Our next witness, Mr. Baden News.”
Kaity slipped out into the aisle just before News did and stayed next to him as she went up to the stand.
News kept a hold on Kaity’s small hand with his own giant one, giving it a quick squeeze before letting go when he reached his position.
He swore in, got up on the stand and set about adjusting his hat and tie yet again.
His witnessing overlapped with mine in quite a few spots. More detail at the opera and less at Wolf and I being captured. Plus a few jaded remarks about Franklin that I couldn’t help but smirk at. The obviously “offended but trying not to be” face that Franklin put on next to me was beautiful.
Kaity stayed next to News the whole time and escorted him back to his seat when it was over.
The next witness was Franklin. News didn’t seem too happy about that, but Franklin strode his way right up to the witness stand like it was what he was born to do.
And boy, I thought Wolfy could get long-winded?
Get Franklin talking about his own heroic betrayal of his associates and he had Wolfgang beat three times over.
What he was saying . . . checked out with the facts. But something about his motivation didn’t sit quite right with me. He was either skipping something or glossing it over right around the spot that he switched sides.
The part where his “conscience finally awoke from its long, forced slumber that he never should have had it in in the first place”. And his “long overdue change of heart and realization of the error of his ways”.
News was wrinkling his nose like he smelled a skunk in the courtroom.
With the dead silence everywhere else in the courtroom but from Franklin’s blabbermouth, it was easy to make out News’s whisper as he leaned over to Kaity.
“Yeah, actually I bet Maxine slapped ‘im and he got mad and left.”
Kaity’s mouth twitched into a smile. I muffled a snicker.
Franklin stopped for a second and gave News a look. “Did you have something to say, Baden?”
News straightened back up. “Oh, no way, man. Just theorizing is all.”
Franklin continued to glare for another second before diving back in.
When he’d finally finished his chronicles of all of Silverwing’s sins, plus the bonus features, he hopped back down from the witness stand. Didn’t even wait for leave before heading back to his seat.
“You may . . . take your seat,” the agent lawyer stammered as Franklin slid back into the bench.
Franklin saluted him, then reached over to poke Dallas. Dallas broke out of his quiet whispering to himself and rubbing his hands together and looked up with wide eyes. His face was so pale I could almost count his freckles.
“And our final witness. One of our own agents, Dallas Knight.”
Kaity looked over and flashed a smile along with a thumbs-up. Franklin grinned. “Your time to shine, dude.”
Dallas looked like he’d rather die on the spot. But slowly, he pushed to his feet. He walked to the witness stand as though he was some sort of wind up toy. I could see that he was shaking a little and his voice squeaked as he swore in.
Good Lord, I hope he can make it through without keeling over.
Dallas got up to the witness stand, just looking down at the wood like it was going to jump up and eat him. He closed his eyes for a few seconds and moved his lips silently, his brow furrowed in concentration.
The agent in front of the stand cleared his throat. “Mr. Knight, records show that you have been researching this theoretical Silverwing for nearly a year now as an unassigned side project to your work. Is this true?”
Dallas opened his eyes, taking a breath and looking up. “Yes, sir.” His words came out a little stronger than a whisper, amplified over the microphone.
“Over this time, one might consider you an expert on the topic. At least the abiding SPI expert. In light of the past events and the death of Assistant Director Maxine Wellington, do you have any other pieces of evidence you’d like to share with us?”
Dallas spent a few seconds gathering himself before nodding and holding onto the sides of the stand.
Clear and concise, even if a little quiet, he launched into a summary of what he’d found through his research. All the things that tied back to verify Silverwing’s existence, and all the things they’d done over the years. The climbing through society . . . the constant setups and infiltrations of the SPI and other government organizations . . . He even said he had a members list. Something I’m sure Franklin helped with.
His voice gained strength as he neared the end of his testimony.
“And I would like to state very clearly that I wouldn’t have known more than half of this information if it wasn’t for the courage and self-sacrifice of Mr. Wolfgang Dankworth. After everything he’d done before, the fact that he was willing to put his life on the line for so many people he didn’t even know is an inspiration to me. We never would have been able to stop the recent Hero disaster without him and the others who witnessed. I’m . . . I’m proud to call Wolfgang my friend.”
On national television.
The whole country just heard that beautiful speech. That beautiful, reputation redeeming speech.
I couldn’t bite back the huge grin that spread across my face.
The judge nodded, his eyebrows raised. “Well then. I’d say we’ve gotten all the information we need on this thing. We can say for sure that Silverwing exists . . .” he looked down at Dallas. “And would you say we have enough information on the members and operations to tear it apart completely?”
The judge gave a short nod, smiling. “Then let’s get to work.”
He pounded his gavel and any further words were drowned out by a cheer from the crowd.
Judgment day had finally come for Silverwing, and oh it was a beautiful sight to see.
Two…. more…. parts… left…
We’re almost there, guys, can you believe it?
Anyone have any predictions for what the last two chapters hold? Favorite parts now that we’re over the main conflict?