LAW ABIDING CRIMINALS



"Will you state your name for the record, please?"

"Beguiler."

"And this is your hero identity, correct?"

"Yes, it is."

The attorney smiled in approval and then continued. "Your powers are psychic in nature, correct?"

"Yes. I am what you would call an empath. I can sense what others are feeling, as well as control the minds of others." Beguiler stated into the microphone. His violet eyes swept over the crowd gathered in the courtroom.

"How would you describe the way you use your powers when crimefighting?" Maria Perez walked in front of the desk, casually flipping through her file as she asked her questions.

"I use them to confuse groups or mentally subdue them." he responded.

"Do you go into peopleís minds uninvited?"

"Mind read, you mean? Iím an empath. I read emotions, not thoughts." the hero watched the attorney pace in front of him. He felt ridiculous in the helmet that had been put on him. Designed to contain his psychic powers while in court, it was large and cumbersome, not to mention, he mused, completely unfashionable, and made his head itch.

"But do you go into peopleís minds uninvited?"

"I can sense what others are feeling like one cannot help smelling pastries being made while strolling through a bakery. If anything, I have to keep people out."

"So when you sensed the emotions of Raymond Von Dorn, was it intentional?"

"No. When someone has such strong feelings, it can still get through my psychic shielding."

"How would you describe his mental state?"

"Objection!" Blurted out the defense attorney. "Beguiler is not a psychiatrist and not qualified to comment on my clientís mental state."

"Sustained." sighed the judge, a spindly middle-aged woman. Every few questions, Mr. Danforth, the defense counsel would object.

Gritting her teeth, and silently cursing Danforth, Maria rephrased.

"How did it appear to you?"

"Ms. Perez, I have come across all kinds of monsters as a hero." He looked directly at the defendant, whose attorney had successfully petitioned an appeal. "I have found the worst ones are those that look like everyone else. His emotions were in some sort of psycho-sexual afterglow."

"What caused it?"

"Normally, I donít go meddling in peopleís fantasies. Behind closed doors, and all. But what was so disturbing was that the images going over in his head was that of a child."

The gallery, filled with people, gasped simultaneously. The murmuring got loud, and the judge banged her gavel to silence them.

"Order!" she barked.

"So you would say you had probable cause?"

"Yes. I would say so."

"Thank you, no further questions. Your witness." she sat back down, flipping a stray lock of black hair.

"You donít go meddling in peopleís fantasies, you say?" asked Mr. Danforth, who looked every bit like a serpent coiled to strike.

"What they do, as long as no one else is hurt, is their business."

"How do you know my client wasnít fantasizing?"

"A mental fantasy never has the mental clarity that a true memory does. It would be like an out of focus photo compared to one that is in focus. Fantasies tend to be more fluid in the mind." Beguiler hated this helmet. He wanted to know what direction the attorney was coming at him from. Damn psychic oath Sister Psyche drafted for the courts. She was as annoyingly goody-goody as Statesman.

"Some peopleís fantasies are very strong, though, wouldnít you agree?"

"Yes." Beguiler drew the word out. He was getting nervous with this damned helmet on. "They can be."

"Allow me to present to the court as evidence the journal kept by Mr. VonDorn while incarcerated. In it he has detailed several fantasies regarding hisÖpreferences." Danforth produced a small leather book from his briefcase. "The writing that my client uses is so clear and so descriptive, it almost makes you feel that you were there."

Beguiler gave the attorney an irritated look. "Iíll mention it to my book club." he muttered.

"I also brought in Mr. VonDornís psychiatric records. In it, you will see that while he was competent enough to stand trial last year, his fantasies are so strong and intense, they are, in effect, a second set of memories. So," answered the defense attorney with a smarmy look on his face, "are we going to start making fantasizing illegal?"


The trial went downhill for the prosecution; the judge ruled that Beguiler had indeed broken the Psychic Intrusion Law, and therefore, any evidence obtained as a result of it was not admissible. Since the prosecutionís case had been based on the mountain of evidence obtained at VonDornís condo, it crumbled. To top it off, Beguiler had been fined for violating the law, and had to perform 50 hours of non-heroic community service.

Back at the DAís office, Beguiler tried to console Maria, but he was too upset to even try.

"Donít worry, weíll get him." he knew, however, the words were meaningless.

"Well, it wonít be for the rape of McKenzie Webb. He canít be tried twice for the same crime once heís been acquitted." she sighed.

"Thatís the bloody problem with this country. The criminals are given way too much protection." he growled.

"The thing is, Beguiler, if you had gone to the authorities first with your discovery, a warrant could have been obtained, and VonDorn would be doing time legitimately." she crossed her arms and scowled at him. "Here, we have laws about illegal searches."

"There was no time to go get a warrant, Maria." anger flashed in his eyes. "I had just caught him post-crime! Tell you what, Iíll do that next time I see a Hellion mugging someone in Atlas Park or if the Circle of Thorns are about to turn some bloody soccer mom into a screaming she-demon!" He exhaled sharply. "For all the "protection" the Psychic Intrusion Law gives, it prevents people like me from fighting crime effectively." He grabbed his jacket. "Iíve got to go."

He left the building, disgusted with lawyers and their foolish laws. A year ago, defense attorneys began to complain that due to the emergence of psychic superheroes, the minds of criminals were just as off-limits when it came to searches, much like a car or apartment. Under well-played public pressure, Sister Psyche had drafted up the Psychic Intrusion Law, which passed in Paragon City unanimously. Similar laws sprang up around the country in suit.

Beguiler looked up at the sky; twilight was gathering, and the first, brightest stars of the night sky could be seen. He remembered the mocking look VonDorn had given him as he left the courtroom. He had every intention of making the depraved fantasy he had written down come to life, and very soon.

Running down the street in the direction of Eastgate, Beguiler knew he had a very small window of opportunity to act. Psychic Intrusion Law be damned; what he was about to do was the right thing, and everyone would know it.


"Thanks for sending Mr. Danforth, Clarry." Ray said as he twirled a glass of scotch.

"No problem. The man is quite a genius at getting around legal problems with the capes." came the Countessí voice over the phone line. "But donít call me Clarry."

"Sorry."

"So, now that youíre a free man, what are your plans?"

"I havenít really thought about it."

"Well, hereís a something you might try; sue the hero who had you arrested. A civil trial would ruin him publicly and financially. Revenge of the legal kind." she intimated.

Ray smiled at the thought; Beguiler ruined in more ways than could be imagined. With a civil trial, it was all about character assassination and anything could be brought out.

"Can Danforth help me with that?"

"Heíll file it with the judge in the morning."

"Cool. Thanks again, cousin."

"Again, no problem."
Ray suddenly heard his cousin talking to someone else who had just entered the room with her. He could hear her whispering in a harsh tone, but couldnít quite make it out. He heard the words "Revenant", and "clonal degeneration," but decided they didnít relate to him.

"Ray, Iíve got to get going. Duty calls."

"You coming to the trial?"

"Wouldnít miss it for the world. And Ray?"

"Yes?"

"Be a little more discreet, will you?"

"Sure thing." he looked over at his latest acquisition, a beautiful little girl. He had her drugged, but he knew that soon, she would be waking up. Then, the celebration of his legal victory would begin.

"Sure thing." he repeated, and then hung up.


Beguiler stood outside the house, watching him. He knew he should call the police; after all, Ray had a child with him right now. But he also knew that Rayís oily attorney would throw up so many objections, he would end up confusing both judge and jury.

No, Beguiler thought, it ends here. He proceeded up the inviting walkway to the front door.


Ray was surprised to see Beguiler standing there when he had opened the door. He greeted the hero with the same smug sneer he had in the courtroom earlier that day.

If he was waiting for the British hero to go into some cliched speech about how he would never get away with it, and justice would prevail, Raymond VonDorn was going to be disappointed. The empathís mind grabbed the pedophileís, and proceeded to rip through layers and layers consciousness.

What right does one like you have to even exist? Beguiler asked angrily. You do not love, you do not care for anyone or anything beyond your own perversions.

Raymond tried to fight against what was happening, but proved to be no match for the highly skilled psychic.

Proceeding from lobe to lobe in the manís mind, Beguiler began to disconnect his synapses, disrupting how his brain functioned. Leaving the basic functions intact, like blood flow, Beguiler took away voluntary skills, like speech and movement, leaving the depraved cousin of Countess Crey a statue of flesh.

Hardly finished with the man, Beguiler began to go from one part to another, erasing all sense of who he was, why he was, and left only in his mind the memories of what he had done. Having removed all feelings of pleasure Raymond might have felt from replaying his memories, Beguiler enhanced the manís feelings of guilt and mentally linked the two. Satisfied with what he had done, the hero removed himself from Raymondís mind and walked away into the night.

Unable to move, incapable of speech, Raymond just stood at the door, a look of profound shock and terror frozen on his face.



EPILOGUE

Months had gone by since Beguilerís attack on Ray. The police received too much public pressure about pursuing the assailant of a pedophile. In their minds, as well as the communityís, whoever had fried Ray VonDornís mind had done a public service.

Countess Crey, however, wanted Beguiler found, dead or alive, but preferably dead. Her private security forces had finally closed in on where they thought he was, but they were too late.

Beguiler and his sister, another psychic named Psirene, had vanished. No one knew where. All of his neighbors had said they saw some trucks come by one morning, overseen by men in business suits and tommy guns.

Knowing that Beguiler would be untouchable while he was in league with The Family, the Countess called off the search. She would, like always, bide her time. Eventually, Beguiler would slip up, and when he did, she would be ready.
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