I’d like to thank all of you who offered advice and support, in various forms, over the last couple of days. It means a lot to me, and I want you to know I really appreciated it. I’m still all little off kilter, but doing fine all things considered.
I lost track of time and wasn’t able to finish this next bit of story, but it’s at a decent stopping point. I hope you enjoy what I’ve done so far. It’s unedited for the most part.
The judge’s office was very old fashioned in many ways. There was a lot of wood involved. Dust covered long shelves of old books. Books printed on actual paper. Several paintings hung around the room as well. Visages of judges now long passed. Stepping in from the hallway was like walking into a rip in space and time.
Richard hated it. The smell of it, the look of it, it all irritated him. So much so that he always ended up looking out of the window when he had to wait there. His assistant was sitting a short distance away. She fidgeted audibly.
“Nervous?” He asked without looking towards her.
“Maybe a bit.” She said after a slight pause.
“You shouldn’t be. This case is cut and dried, Victoria.” He replied, still refusing to face the room. “JCR is liable for the death. A simple robotic malfunction. They’ll settle for millions. They always settle.” Victoria didn’t appear to be comforted. Truth be told, Richard made her feel uneasy. He was a cold man, who seemed to have no weaknesses, and cared for little apart from money. It was quite a relief when the judge’s desk sprang to life.
Splitting in half, the desktop slid apart, revealing a flat screen. It rotated itself into place, and the face of Judge Reed slowly faded in. A small camera, mounted atop the screen, rotated around until it focused on Richard.
“Good day, Mister Dickson.” He said regarding Richard with thinly veiled disdain. Richard slowly turned towards the judge’s image.
“Quite.” He replied.
“Good day sir!” Victoria chirped. “You’re looking well.”
“Victoria!” Answered Judge Reed. “Thank you, I’m feeling well.” Richard scowled at Victoria. She wilted back into her chair.
“I’d like to get started sir.” He said coldly. “It doesn’t look as if JCR can be bothered to send a representative.” The judge’s face looked off camera.
“We’re a little early yet.” He replied. “I expect they’ll be along presently.” As if on cue the office door swung open. Derek and Lilly strode confidently. Both had made feeble attempts at looking professional, but the veneer wasn’t wholly convincing.
Richard swore under his breath. Victoria was surprised to see her employer suddenly showing an emotion that more or less looked like fear.
“Right on time.” Derek blurted. “Nice to see you again, Ben…” He paused when he saw Richard. “Dick.” Richard gritted his teeth, but said nothing. “I’m not familiar with this little lady though.” He continued, offering a hand to Victoria. “Derek Sims, and this is my assistant, Lillian Morse.”
“Lilly!” She Interjected. “And I’m his partner!”
“Victoria Eddings. Pleasure to meet you both.”
“Oh, an optimist.” Derek laughed, while rubbing the spot on his side where Lilly has struck him. “How’d you end up working with Dick Dickson?”
“That’s not your concern.” Richard interrupted. “And the name is Richard. Now, can we get this started. Unlike you I have places to be.” Victoria handed Richard a data pad. He inserted it into the port under the judge’s screen. “As you can see, your honor, the police report states the robot in question wasn’t tampered with. Fault lies with the manufacturer. End of story.”
The Judge looked over the report in silence. “This appears to be in order. We can settle this now unless you have anything to ad, Mr. Sims.” Lilly sprung forward and replaced Dickson’s data pad with her own.
“We do sir! I found traces of tampering in the neural net of the synthetic in question!” She stated excitedly.
“Whoever did it exhibited a level of knowledge unusual even for company technicians.” Added Derek.