IronHorse: The locomotive man CHAPTER 5

Kitsumi waited as the security guard opened the door for her and stepped into a storm of tension. A middle-aged woman currently held the courtroom in thrall as she issued a rebuke directed at a short high strung man who scowled and glared defiantly at her in return, but kept silent.

The same silence filled the courtroom as the same woman, whose tag in front introduced her as 'City Representative' stared at Kitsumi. The rest of the courtroom followed her line of sight and all attention belonged to the newcomer.

Kitsumi studied the room quickly seeing Maria whose face lit up in joy when their eyes met. Maria waved her hand, beckoning Kitsumi to join her and a striking lady with pink hair, with whose appearance directly represented the voice that Kitsumi knew to belong to Anna Keldowski. Between the two of them, was an iron monstrosity. Kitsumi paused for a second regarding the machine man's appearance from behind briefly before making her way down the aisle.

Kitsumi walked quickly and quietly, hoping that people would find something more interesting to look at. But this was not the case. The courtroom was juxtaposed into two entities, one side glowered at her coldly, even angrily, and the other side viewed her with warm jovial smiles.

Kitsumi reached Maria who had stood up promptly. Maria gave Kitsumi a quick hug. "Thank you for coming to save us."

"I feel like the crème filling in a Twinkie," Kitsumi whispered to the mechanic. "Half the people here look like they want to devour me, the other half look like they want to savor me."

“Kitsumi? That had to be both the most provocative and dirty analogy I have heard in a long time.” Anna stated while the young woman took a spot behind the defense’s table.

Maria muttered under her breath while trying not to laugh. Anna descended into a fit of giggles but it was IronHorse’s outburst that seemed to grab the most response. It was a single word filled with mirth and joy and rang out in the tense air of the courtroom. His eye visor filled with a glowing pink of a grin as the word left body.

“HA!”

Everyone who had been looking at Kitsumi suddenly looked at IronHorse. Anna slapped a palm to her forehead as Clockstopper sputtered in indignation.

“Whoops…” was IronHorse’s next word. The Paragon Police suddenly began to laugh as well. Long and hard.

“WHY ISN’T THAT MACHINE PROPERLY SILENCED?!?” Clockstopper leapt from his seat and stood on his table pointing at IronHorse in a manic fashion.

“Hey Pee-Wee, I don’t have a MOUTH genius. All this mask is doin’ is wreckin’ my chance to have a nice conversation with the ladies at my table.”

Maria paused just long enough to let her head fall forward with an audible thunk on the table.

Clockstopper stood there with a noticeable twitch forming above his left eyebrow. A small amount of froth seemed to form slowly on the corner of his mouth. Before he could begin a full-fledged rant however, both Anna and the City Representative stepped in.

“Ahem! Ah yes… I see miss Ichimura has joined us.” The City Representative began. “You may now give testimony for miss Anna Keldowski.”

Anna quickly stood again and took her position on the floor while the bailiff helped Kitsumi into the witness stand. Anna smiled and then brought over the stack of packing invoices.

“Miss Ichimura, Do you recognize these invoices?”

“Yes I do.” Kitsumi responded to the first question, shifting slightly in her seat until finally settling on the wooden chair comfortably.

“Do you remember clearing these papers?”

“Yes, I cleared these at approximately 11:15am on the date listed in the register.” Kitsumi pointed at the form.

“Did you inspect the contents of the crate at any time?”

“No, I did not. This was a private shipment. There was no need for me to open the crates, nor did I have legal right because I was without cause.”

“Are these your signatures here, here and here?”

“Yes ma’am that is my signature on both spots.” Kitsumi responded in agreement.

“Very good… Your witness Clockstopper.”

The little man was red with fury as he took the floor. Everything that Anna and Kitsumi had talked about had shot holes in his case. He forgot about the bylaw of the one-year grace period to the law, or the fact that the thing was built in the 1800’s…

He walked towards the witness stand and stared hard at Kitsumi.

“I… Miss Ichimura! Have you at any time experienced mental pain, trauma, or strange feelings while in the presence of the contents of the crate?”

Kitsumi studied the opposition intently as he presented his question, “No sir.”

“Uh… Huh. Can you in any way CONFIRM that this… This THING here, represents the contents of this supposedly destroyed crate?”

“Possibly,” Kitsumi responded much to the shocked look from Clockstopper. “I have a photocopy of the packing slip in the inventory folder that I presented as I arrived. The packing slip bears the same date and crate number on it that is on my receiving register. Even though this was a private shipment, since it was so large, I requested to make a copy of it, should there be any damages or questions to its ownership. The packing slip lists the contents as; ‘Quantity 1 – IronHorse, circa 1800’s Steam powered mechanical man, dismantled.’”

“The packing slip is stamped with the date and time when I processed the paperwork, and my initials are included underneath in the space provided, ‘KSI’ for Kitsumi Sakura Ichimura.” Kitsumi responded pointing to the bottom of the form that Clockstopper had quickly flipped to in the provided manila folder. “I am the only employee at the museum with those initials, you can verify that if you wish via the employee contact lookup. My LAN ID is KSICHIMU. Alphabetically I fall between Kevin R. Holden and Lance B. James both by first name and last name.” Kitsumi said with a cheerful giggle.

“Um… No… No further questions your honor.” Clockstopper looked smug but shaken.

The City Representative nodded and then looked at Maria, Anna, Kitsumi, and IronHorse.

“Miss Keldowski?’

Anna nodded and then took to the floor. She grinned at Clockstopper who glowered in the corner trying to make some kind of case now that his seemed to be scattering into the four winds.

“So now that we have proven that this AI has only been active in this day and age for the sum total of 4 days, we can all agree that he still has 360 to conform to the law and apply for an official AI license. In addition, because the crate received by miss Ichimura was a personal shipment to miss Estavez, we also must conclude that the AI in question is the legal property of Maria Estavez. That means, under Paragon code 40b, that as long as the AI’s owner is with the unlicensed AI and takes responsibility for its actions, the AI is free to be in public. Forcible removal of the AI from the owner’s custody reverts all responsibility to the individuals who take the AI.”

Anna turned and grinned at Clockstopper again before swatting a new sheaf of papers in her hand.

“Now the account of the events at the museum as detailed already for the court, have been told by three different sources! All of which agree that the AI, IronHorse, did NOT attack the museum, but rather defend it from an attack by the street gang known as the trolls.”

Anna handed the written accounts of each person, Maria, Hank, Carl, Frank Harris, and IronHorse, to the city representative.

“In addition, we have a contact with M.A.G.I. that supports the evidence that Trolls were going to attack the museum in the night in question.”

Again, Anna handed more documentation to the city representative. The woman was looking at each piece of paper critically and sighing as she looked at Clockstopper.

“So as it stands, we have an AI, in the presence of its owner, operating in public long before the limit for AI application has expired, coming to the rescue of his owner AND saving the museum from a bomb attack as shown by forensic evidence! In addition, Freedom Corps members, specifically under the recommendation of one Clockstopper, forcibly took the AI into custody. From here we have a signed affidavit by Shadow-Form that Clockstopper made several verbal threats to the AI who then responded with force to defend itself.”

Anna whirled and looked fiercely at Clockstopper. “The subsequent damage to the Freedom Corps vehicle, the street outside of its Steel Canyon base, AND damage to one city police vehicle are then the fault of Clockstopper, because the AI was in HIS possession at the time!”

The room went dead quiet as Clockstopper’s face went white with anger.

Anna looked at the crowd gathered and gestured imploringly.

“Ladies and gentlemen, IronHorse here is in no violation of the law, he has no reason to be chained, and he should be treated as a HERO! He SAVED the life of miss Estavez as well as protected the museum from imminent destruction! Is this how we treat one such as him?”

Murmurs went through the crowd and increasingly, people began to look at Clockstopper and his supporters as if they were trying to hang an innocent man. Clockstopper himself however paused, as someone in his group, a man he had never truly seen before, leaned over and whispered into Clockstopper’s ear.

This stranger seemed unnaturally pale and wore drab, and almost outdated clothing. However, whatever he whispered had the necessary effect, as Clockstopper rose for rebuttal seemingly renewed.

“Miss Keldowski… I have but ONE question. Despite everything said here, how can you deny the evidence from the documentation that this MACHINE was already tried once for being responsible for the death and destruction of an entire town of over one hundred people?!? Both you and I have the paperwork to PROVE that this machine was ordered to be disassembled and to never again be re-activated because of its faulty nature! How do we know that the things it committed before will not happen again?”

Anna paused and then looked at IronHorse. The massive metal man however was staring at Clockstopper with intense hatred. Even Anna could tell the shift in color from his eye visor from pink to red was not a good sign. Maria even had to shift in her seat to get away from the increasing levels of heat IronHorse was putting out.

Maria looked about terrified and then looked at Kitsumi. It was as if a bolt of lightening had struck her as her face suddenly brightened.

She leaned over and whispered into Kitsumi’s ear.

“Hey… Kitsumi, you are the best at finding the history of items at work. Look if the museum uses you to track and date objects… can you do the same for IronHorse? You can find something right? I hope you can prove to these people that IronHorse never DID those things… You… you have to try to find something.” Maria’s eyes almost filled with tears and looked at her friend imploringly. “You can prove it for me too… Prove to me that I am right about him… Please.”


Kitsumi looked at the distraught girl with a look of compassion. "I know that you trust him, and I hope that everything is as you hope it is with him. I could try to find something but that might take too long, trying to locate the proper resources and documents."


Kitsumi's eyes widened with an expression of revelation. "There is a better way though I think. I don't want to do it, but I don't think I have a choice. I can't abandon you two." Kitsumi talked out loud for both her and Maria's benefit.


Quickly she turned to Anna. "Anna, I have an idea, if you can get me up on the stand I can attempt to prove his innocence, but I will need a recess to have some documents faxed here."


Turning back to Maria, "Don't worry sweetie, I think we can win this."


Anna stood up in her seat. "Your Honor, I would like to request a fifteen minute recess to consult with my clients on this issue, and to have some documents faxed here."


The City Representative looked up at the clock on the wall. "Granted. You have fifteen minutes until we reconvene."


Kitsumi was up in a flash as soon as she was clear to go. The girl whisked out of the room and down the hall to an administrator's desk. "Excuse me miss, can I borrow a phone and your fax machine to have some urgent documents faxed here immediately for the court session."


The elder woman sitting at the desk looked up. "Sorry honey, but I can only allow..."


"It's Ok Rosie. She's with me." Anna had quickly followed Kitsumi out of the courtroom to find out more concerning Kitsumi's plan.


"Oh, then it's quite alright, as long as you are with Miss Keldowski." The woman offered a cheerful smile.


"Over here Miss Ichimura." Anna dragged her by the elbow to the fax machine and phone.



* * * * *



Kitsumi and Anna rushed back into the room just as the Representative reentered. Anna was carrying a stack of papers and had a very pleased look on her face.


The room went silent as the City Representative announced that the session was now resumed.


Anna stood up and walked up to the podium. "I would like to recall Miss Kitsumi Ichimura to the stand. I would also like to present Miss Ichimura's case records from the Paragon City University's Department of Psychology."


Anna presented the stack of papers to the representative. "If you note the highlighted sections; you will see that Miss Ichimura is a certified psychometric." The room was soon filled by whispers and hushed talk.


Anna paused for a second as Kitsumi moved up to take the stand. After the room quieted down she resumed. "Psychometry, is defined as the ability to retrieve information from an inanimate object. The psychometric picks up emanations, emotions and history from an object; this can be the history of object itself, or the past, present or future of the owner."


"Comments were made concerning her unbelievable accuracy in all tests performed. Not only does she have the ability to read an object, she is also able to determine its entire accurate timeline, however it is also noted that this she did not at the time of the study have the ability to also read the future of the object."


The volume of the crowded room increased as Anna paused, but with a sharp look from the podium, the noise settled.


Without waiting for an invitation to continue Anna proceeded. "Miss Ichimura has the ability to read inanimate objects, which should be more properly defined as, 'non living tissue,' which the studies conducted confirm." Anna quickly pointed to a highlighted paragraph.


"Miss Ichimura, is everything spoken by Miss Keldowski correct?" The City Representative looked over her rimed glasses at Kitsumi.


"Yes, your honor, that is all correct." Kitsumi smiled sheepishly, at her secret finally being exposed.


With a nod she looked over to Anna next. "Alright then, Miss Keldowski, you may continue."


"Miss Ichimura, for the record, have you attempted to 'read' the entity known as IronHorse prior or post reassembly?" Anna approached Kitsumi with professionalism.


"No, I have not." The psychometric responded.


"In your opinion, do you have the ability to read the entity on trial?" She next asked of Kitsumi.


"Yes, in my experience, I should not have a problem reading him for more accurate information." Kitsumi confirmed.


"OK then Miss Ichimura. With the Representative's permission, I would like for you to do what you need."



"Granted Attorney Keldowski." Anna winced at the title slightly as the woman looked around the room and announced from her seat up on the dais, "For the record, Miss Kitsumi Ichimura will psychometrically be attempting to read the entity known as IronHorse. Miss Ichimura will present her findings linearly if possible."


"Miss Ichimura, I require that you present your finding out loud for the entire court room. In the meantime, the courtroom will remain silent. Anyone who violates this order will be arrested; this includes Law Enforcement officials as well. This session once begun will 'Not' be interrupted."


"Now if the recorder is ready please precede Miss Ichimura." The recorder nodded in affirmation.


Kitsumi stood up from the bench and walked to the large mechanical man. She looked at IronHorse sitting quietly on the floor and gave him a reassuring smile. She breathed slowly, calmingly focusing on him alone.


The girl stopped right beside him and settled in a chair provided by the Bailiff next to him. Gingerly she placed her hands on his chest and closed her eyes.


The girl parted her lips and began her reading. "IronHorse's first coal fire was ignited at 16:11 on October 14th, 1864…"
TO CHAPTER 6 >
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