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
“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“Withdrawn.”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
Beach Nuclear Processing Plant,January
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?”
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
“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
“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
“Please state for the court the nature of your
expertise in this matter.” Nicholls took a step
“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
“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
“Dr Allen, does your current job involve the design
or assembly of –“ Swan glanced down, referring
to his notes, “- delivery devices for gases or
“More the design than the assembly.” Dr
Allen smiled. “The department I run does the actual
“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
“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.”
* * * *
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
“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
“Gone to the big courtroom in the sky!”
Nikki’s voice was grim. “Watch your back,
“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
* * * *
“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
“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.