Supply & Demand

By Rocket

Episode 9.3

Part Two

“Prosecutor Nicholls, you may begin.” Judge Davis beckoned to Nicholls, uncapped his fountain pen and pushed his glasses up his nose.

“Thank you, your Honour.” Nicholls walked to the centre of the room. “Prosecution calls David Kyle.” She waited until Kyle had been sworn in and taken his seat, then approached him and smiled. Mr Kyle, please could you explain how you know Mr Hawkins?”

“Yes.” Kyle leaned forwards, his size making the witness stand look small. He leaned his elbows on his knees and stooped to make sure the microphone picked up his quiet voice. “I worked with him at Westpoint Beach Nuclear Processing Plant. I’m a site supervisor there and Hawkins worked for me as a general labourer.”

“What were his duties, Mr Kyle?” Nicholls stepped forward and raised the microphone up for him.

“He cleaned up, made sure all the suits were sent for decontamination, checked inventory... He helped with stuff generally, anything I needed doing.” Kyle cleared his throat.

“Were you satisfied with his work?” Nicholls glanced across at Hawkins, who was glaring at Kyle. She stepped across, blocking Hawkins’s glare from reaching her witness.

“Not so much.” Kyle laced his fingers together. “He was often late, he never got the inventory right and he cut corners wherever he could.”

“How was the inventory wrong, Mr Kyle?” Nicholls held Kyle’s gaze and nodded to encourage him.

“It was always short, like there was stuff missing. I took him off doing it in the end.” Kyle shook his head. “No good.”

“Did you ever suspect him of stealing from Westpoint, perhaps when –“ Nicholls broke off at the sound of a chair scraping.

“Objection – Calls for speculation!” Swan stood up, his voice loud.

“Sustained.” Judge Davis frowned at Nicholls. “Facts, not fiction, if you please.”

“Mr Kyle,” Nicholls smiled, “Given Mr Hawkins previous conviction, did you have reason to suspect him of stealing from Westpoint?”

“Objection - Leading question!” Swan’s voice echoed off the panelled walls.

“Withdrawn.” Nicholls turned to smile at the jury, turned the smile on Swan and then returned to Kyle as Judge Davis shrugged.

“Mr Kyle, please can you explain for the court what happened at Westpoint in January 1986?” Nicholls took a step back and folded her hands behind her.
Behind them, MacGyver sat up straight. Westpoint! Now he remembered...

 

Westpoint Beach Nuclear Processing Plant,January 1986


MacGyver closed his eyes, vertigo threatening to spin him off the ladder to tumble down the curved side of the reactor building. He took a deep breath, reassured Amy he was fine, and kept on climbing.

He wrestled with the pressure release valve, his wet gloves slipping on the wrench. He watched it tumble down, bounce off the edge of the grating and disappear down into the machinery below. Fear clenched in his stomach and his heavy visor fogged with condensation. He yelled to Amy to give him Train’s gun, took it apart and used the pieces to turn the valve.

He ducked under the plume of steam whistling out of the valve, and shuffled back around to the ladder. By the time he reached the ground, his knees were shaking and his head was spinning. Hands grabbed him and rushed him into a decontamination chamber. He was scrubbed and hosed down for what seemed like a very long time.

Cold, wet and wrapped in a scratchy blanket, he sat next to Amy. Teeth chattering, they tried to work out what Chief Train’s plan had been, how he’d got involved in such a terrible scheme, and what he might have planned to do with the stolen uranium. They’d got onto how Train might have planned to get the uranium out of the building, decided that they’d probably never find out who his contacts had been, and let it drop, grateful simply to be alive and unharmed.

For a year afterwards, MacGyver had been convinced that every cold, every cough, every day of feeling not quite as well as usual heralded the beginnings of radiation sickness. It had taken him three months to sleep through the night without dreaming of the terrible consequences that would have occurred if he’d failed.


Los Angeles Superior Court, October 1994


“Mr Kyle, was Mr Hawkins responsible for the inventory on that date?” Nicholls asked.

“Yes, he was.” Kyle nodded.

“If you had known that Mr Hawkins had previously been convicted for an offence involving the manipulation of inventory, would you have assigned him that role?”

Nicholls glanced at Swan.

“No Ma’am, I would not.” Kyle shook his head and frowned at Hawkins.

“No further questions” Nicholls sat down.

“Your witness, Mr Swan.” Judge Davis rumbled.

“Thank you.” Swan stood and walked forward. “Mr Kyle,” Swan turned to face the jury, extending an open hand towards Hawkins, “Is there any proof that my client did anything wrong?”

“Well, no, but –“

“No further questions, your Honour.” Swan interrupted, turning his back on Kyle.

“Call Officer Paul Chen.” Nicholls smiled to him, and Chen smiled back, looking nervous. “Officer Chen, when you arrested Mr Hawkins did you find any property belonging to Western Precision Electricals in his apartment?”

“Objection – Incompetent!” Swan stepped towards the Judge’s bench, giving Chen a glare on his way past.

“Explain yourself, Mr Swan.” Judge Davis leaned forwards, matching Swan’s glare with one of his own.

“Chen is not in a position to know the correct owners of any property found in my client’s apartment. He was sent in to arrest him, not to determine the true ownership of every item on the premises. He is an incompetent witness.” Swan saw Chen flush red out of the corner of his eye.

“Did you determine whether the property belonged to Mr Hawkins?” Judge Davis turned to Chen.

“Yessir. Yes, your Honour, I mean. Sorry.” Chen stumbled to a halt, blushing even redder. “Yes, I did ask Mr Hawkins to prove that the property was his but he was unable to do so.”

“Thank you.” Judge Davis turned his glare back on Swan. “Sit down, Mr Swan.”
“No further questions, your Honour.” Nicholls turned and went back to her seat, shooting Swan a nasty look. Swan smiled at her, pleased with the effect he’d had on Chen.

“Your witness, Mr Swan.” Judge Davis sounded annoyed. Swan stood up and walked to the centre of the courtroom, staring at Chen all the way. Chen stared back, but still looked nervous. He really was very young, Swan thought. Very new. Very soft…
“When you entered my client’s house, what did you see?” Swan leaned on the edge of the stand, forcing Chen to look up at him from his seat.

“I saw Alfred Hawkins. He was in his kitchen, and there were boxes stacked all down the hallway.” Chen swallowed hard, but met Swan’s stare.

“Was there anything written on the boxes?” Swan stepped back, giving Chen a little more room.

“They were stamped ‘WPE - Western Precision Electricals, Los Angeles” on the sides.” Chen glanced at Hawkins, who stared back.

“What was in the boxes?” Swan clasped his hands behind his back.

“Electrical components.” Chen held his hands about six inches apart. “Circuit boards about this size, and switches, and some other components I didn’t recognise.”

“Were any of them marked ‘WPE’ like the boxes?” Swan raised his eyebrows and waited.

“Well, no.” Chen shook his head. “Not the components themselves.”

“So, they could have been purchased quite legally by Mr Hawkins, who then used surplus boxes obtained legitimately from his place of work to store them in, yes?” Swan smiled his shark smile and put his hands in his pockets, turning away to pace the room.

“They were all still in the packaging and the boxes were sealed.” Chen leaned back in his chair as Swan swung round to face him.

“And if my client had carefully packed his surplus boxes with his own property and then sealed them for safety, they would have looked exactly like that, yes?” Swan took another step forwards, the front of his jacket brushing the edge of the stand in front of Chen.

“Well, I –“

“So we could simply be looking at the neat application of a few yards of packing tape, which you have mistaken as evidence of theft, yes?” Swan leaned forwards, staring down at Chen.

“I don’t –“ Chen leaned back as far as he could go.

“Objection – badgering!” Nicholls stood up, her expression angry.

“Sustained. Moderate your tone, Mr Swan!” Judge Davis now sounded cross, and Chen jumped at the bass rumble of his voice.

“No further questions, your Honour. I think Officer Chen has told us everything he knows.” Swan smiled the shark smile at Chen and sat down, looking pleased with himself.

“I’d like to call Dr Laura Allen” Nicholls rose, giving Swan another poisonous look in passing. Please take the stand.” Nicholls waited for the elegant woman to take her seat, and smiled at her.

“Please state for the court the nature of your expertise in this matter.” Nicholls took a step back.

“My name is Dr Laura Allen,” Allen leaned forward, “I have a doctorate in mechanical engineering and I am an expert in weapons delivery systems. I work for the Department of Defence.”

“Thank you, Dr Allen.” Nicholls folded her hands behind her back and walked across the courtroom. “Did you examine the articles retrieved from the defendant’s place of residence?”

“I did.” Allen nodded.

“And what were your conclusions?” Nicholls reached the end of the room and turned to face Allen and, beyond her, Hawkins.

“The components I examined could have been assembled into a delivery device for a gas or a low-viscosity liquid.” Allen shrugged. “To do so would have been a skilled job requiring specialist tools, but it could be done.”

“Objection – Calls for a conclusion!” Swan was definitely getting louder, MacGvyer thought.

“Yes, it does.” Judge Davis sighed, looking angry. “But seeing as how Dr Allen has been asked here specifically to reach conclusions, I think we’ll let her expert conclusion stand.” He leaned forward, waiting until Swan sat down. “Proceed.”

“Thank you.” Nicholls glanced at the judge. “In your opinion, Dr Allen, would an artillery expert have the necessary knowledge and skill to assemble such a device?”
Swan started to stand up, but Judge Davis pinned him with a blistering glare, and he sat down again.

“They would have the prerequisite knowledge, yes.” Allen nodded and brushed a stray tendril of hair off her face. “If an artillery expert had kept up with the new technology involved, he would certainly have the right skill set to assemble one.”

Behind her, Hawkins had grown pale. Swan watched the exchange intently. His eyes narrowed as Allen continued answering questions. He shot a glance across to the jury, who were listening and nodding, hanging on the expert’s every word. He’d hoped that casting doubt on Hawkins’s ability to understand what he had in the jumble of weapons components he’d acquired would be enough to convince the jury, but the Doctor was proving a much more competent witness than he’d anticipated. He felt a touch on his sleeve and turned to see Hawkins staring at him, desperation in his eyes. Swan frowned and shook off Hawkins’s hand, needing time to think. He wrote a few words in the margin of his notes and pushed the paper towards Hawkins, making him jump as the paper touched the edge of his hand. Hawkins looked at Swan, then at the paper, and took a deep breath.

MacGyver watched Dr Allen, nodding every now and again as she made a particularly good point. She would have made a good teacher, he thought, explaining her points clearly and without seeming nervous. He caught a movement out of the corner of his eye and looked across at Hawkins.

Hawkins was tapping his fingers on the table, and humming under his breath. He started breathing very fast and muttering. Beside him, Swan made no move to quieten him, instead watching him grow more and more agitated. Eventually the judge called a halt.

“Mr Swan, what exactly is the problem with your client?!” He glared at Hawkins and Swan over his glasses. Swan rose to his feet.

“Your honour, my client is finding this trial very distressing, and it is causing him to have flashbacks to the terrible things he has experienced as a serving soldier.” He placed a protective hand on Hawkins’s shoulder. “Our apologies, your honour. My client is very unwell and we beg this court’s indulgence for him.” He glanced down, and Hawkins buried his head in his hands and sobbed.

“We’ll take a recess for lunch after this witness.” The judge didn’t look pleased, but Hawkins sobs were getting louder. “Mr Hawkins, you have to pull yourself together and allow the prosecution to question the witnesses – this trial will continue whether you are distressed by it or not. Do you understand?” Hawkins nodded and snuffled, and stopped sobbing. Judge Davis continued to stare at him until he was satisfied that Hawkins wasn’t going to start sobbing again, then nodded. “Mrs Nicholls, are you finished with this witness?”

“No further questions, your Honour.” Nicholls smiled at Dr Allen, who smiled back.
“Very well. Your witness, Mr Swan.” Judge Davis sat back, folding his hands across his stomach and frowning.

“Dr Allen, does your current job involve the design or assembly of –“ Swan glanced down, referring to his notes, “- delivery devices for gases or liquids?”

“More the design than the assembly.” Dr Allen smiled. “The department I run does the actual assembly.”

“Quite. Do all the devices you assemble end up in weapons?” Swan put his hands in his pockets and stared at Allen.

“I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to discuss the destination of the devices my department assemble.” Dr Allen’s voice was pleasant, but firm. Beside her, MacGyver saw the judge nod approval.

“But those devices could, theoretically, have uses other than those of interest to the military?” Swan raised his eyebrows.

“Theoretically, yes.” Dr Allen nodded.

“So even if my client had intended to assemble such a device, and even if he possessed the skills to do so, he might well have ended up with something that had no military application whatsoever. Is that correct?” Swan took his hands out of his pockets, holding them up as he shrugged.

“Objection – calls for speculation!” Nicholls turned to face the judge.

“Sustained. Mr Swan, are you done?” Judge Davis frowned at Hawkins, who was whimpering quietly. “Your client is about two shakes away from disturbing this court, and I have no desire to have to start this whole thing again!” his jaw jutted and he glared at Swan. Swan opened his mouth to object again, caught the judge’s eye, and changed his mind.

“No further questions.”

“Good. This court is in recess for one hour.” Judge Davis stood and strode out of the room, conversation rising in his wake. MacGyver stood to allow his stern faced neighbour to get out, and looked across the room to find Swan looking back at him. Swan got up, straightened his jacket and followed his client out.

* * * *


MacGyver and Cooper filed outside, finding a clear area on the fresh cut grass to sit on in the autumn sunshine. Cooper looked better once they were outside, colour returning to his face. He took a few deep breaths and then coughed.

“Damn, Mac – how do you live here? Smog gets me every time I come here, and you live with it all the time!”

“You get used to it! Actually, it’s not so bad today.” MacGyver looked around him, the brown in the air blurring the distant hills. “Seems to me that Hawkins has got himself a pretty fancy attorney, don’t you think? Guys like him don’t work for peanuts, and Hawkins sure doesn’t dress like he can pay that guy’s wages...”

“I guess...” Cooper shrugged. “Probably one of his lowlife buddies sprang for it, it’d be just Hawkins’s style.”

“Pretty expensive for a lowlife...” Mac looked down, tugging at the short grass. “More like friends in high places, if you ask me. But how does a guy like Hawkins get friends in high places? He’s the lowest kind of bottom feeder, or he was last time I checked.”

“Well,” Cooper sat up straight, giving the problem his full attention, “Maybe by doing the dirty work for someone really important, or by knowing something that important people don’t want to become public knowledge?”

“Knowledge isn’t really Hawkins’s style, but dirty work?” MacGyver nodded, “Yeah, he wouldn’t mind how dirty it was, as long as there was a steady paycheck in it.” He got up, brushing grass off his trousers. “I’m going to make a phone call, see if I can’t find out who Damian Swan is, and what he might be doing defending a two bit smuggler like Hawkins.”

* * * *

Damian Swan sipped his coffee and read through his notes, scribbling reminders in the margin. Hawkins really was a disgusting parasite, he thought, grubbing around at the lowest levels of criminal activity and leaving the legal equivalent of big, muddy footprints wherever he went. No finesse. No style. No ambition. He screwed the cap on his gold fountain pen and finished his coffee, setting the cup down on the exact centre of the coaster. But then, defending people who really didn’t deserve to be defended was what he was paid to do. His superiors had been very clear – Hawkins could be convicted of crimes at Westpoint, but he must not be convicted of anything he’d been accused of doing here in California.

* * * *


“Nikki?” MacGyver turned to the wall and put a finger in his other ear to block out the sounds of the noisy street. “You there?”

“Yeah, Mac. Your scumbag sure has got himself a fancy lawyer!” MacGyver could hear Nikki turning pages in the background. “Way out of his league!”

“Can you find out who’s picking up the tab?” MacGyver switched the phone to his other ear and fished a pen and a scrap of paper out of his pocket.

“Probably not...” Nikki paused and MacGyver listened to the static on the line. “Swan works for Scott and Westfield up in Brentwood and they’re very discreet about their clients. I can tell you they’ve a reputation for taking on hopeless cases though – they’ve got a number of people off the hook for some very unsavoury crimes and there’s been a suspicion of jury-rigging on more than a few cases. A few attorneys have come to grief after opposing them on prominent cases, and there have been a couple of cases of clients disappearing after their trials too, so there’s definitely something going on behind the thousand dollar suits and flashy smiles!”

“Nasty.” MacGyver made a note of the name. “When you say ‘come to grief’, you mean...?”

“Gone to the big courtroom in the sky!” Nikki’s voice was grim. “Watch your back, Mac.”

“Understood. Thanks, Nikki.” MacGyver put down the phone, staring at his scribbled note. Who could be paying for a top-flight lawyer for Hawkins? What had he done that made him so important? He shoved the note into his trouser pocket and returned to the courtroom.

* * * *


“Hurry up!” Cooper beckoned to MacGyver, as he jogged back across the grass from the phone box with his tie flapping over his shoulder. “They’re starting again!”

“Done.” MacGyver slowed to a walk, following Cooper back into the courthouse. “Nikki’s going to look into Swan for me, find out what’s going on here.” He put a hand on Cooper’s shoulder. “You going to be OK?”

“I’ll be fine, Corporal!” Cooper squared his shoulders and MacGyver followed him in, standing aside to let his sour faced neighbour go first, and getting a disapproving glare for his trouble.

 

 

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