So: straight from the Chinese Hells to Vasilkos trial at last. Very little of the evidence – such as it was – was in dispute. Vasilko had transformed three underage kids into lesser werewolves. Admittedly, he was underage himself at the time – not even much older – and it evidently had been to save their lives. After one of the girls involved hit puberty, Vasilko had begun having sex with her regularly: Admittedly, it was with her consent and they were both still underage, but her consent was arguably less meaningful thanks to the soulbond and pack-dominance relationship. Furthermore – and this would mean further charges against several past and present members of the Mandate – no one had notified the children’s relatives of this, and in fact – later on – had intentionally concealed a portion of this information. Admittedly, the situation had been quite chaotic at the time, there had been a global war on, and those involved apparently either meant well or acted out of ignorance – but it was still quite negligent.
Legally this might – or might not – amount to Enslavement, Rape, and Kidnaping. The case hinged upon whether or not the children’s situation had been as described, whether transforming the children had been necessary to save them, whether or not Vasilko had acted reasonably in doing so, whether or not the soulbond amounted to Enslavement, and whether or not the failure to locate and notify the children’s relatives amounted to criminal negligence, and thus Kidnaping.
The defense had quite a few arguments – among the best being that the soul-bond did not amount to enslavement, that more recent civil rights legislation for non-humans superseded 120-year-old laws, that Mina, the other girl, had freely opted NOT to get involved with Vasilko, and had not been pressured to do so, and – if necessary – that there were international complications to persecuting a kidnaped russian child and that – as a participant in the offense against the Darkmage – Vasilko had been granted full amnesty for prior actions. Still, the defense would rather have some useful precedents than invoke immunity.
Unfortunately, there were quite few groups interested in making sure that those precedents were not established. The Knights of God – and their hunting arm, the Order of the Silver Forge (including Silverstorm, Purifier, Crusader, and Barrage) – saw all werecreatures as unholy abominations, and were determined to eliminate them. Several people who owned “animalistic” were’s were determined to keep them. There were mercenaries, a selection of werewolves – both bound and free – in attendance, and numerous mages. Ranko, Yuki, Khaelios, The Warlock, the Bishop of New York, Lonewolf, Dr Midnight, the Police, and a contingent of Justifiers brought in for extra security… Even the Bailiff was a low-powered superhuman specializing in defense.
Perhaps worse, Darius Metaxis – still calling himself “Satan” – had turned up as a character witness. Even Vasilko’s fan club had sent representatives – ready and willing to testify that Vasilko could have all the girls he wanted (and plenty of volunteers to become werewolves) without having to run around transforming unwilling people.
The Chauffeur was pretty sure this was going to devolve into total chaos within the hour. The court would be lucky to get through reading the charges first!
It actually only took about thirty minutes.
The battle opened up with a mass attack on the werewolves – silver-plated ripper nanites dispersed in a cloud. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, Vasilko had suspected that someone would be attacking his friends during the trial and had a spell ready to divert ALL the damage to himself. Purifier summoned Warrior Angels and sent them to attack the impure (werewolf) spirits in the room, Barrage started shooting almost indiscriminately, the Knights of God sent a contingent of power-armor goons to take out the Justifiers, By the time things settled down, most of the building was rubble – although “Satan” was putting it back with improvements. Typical: Tokyo gets Balldandy to fix things. New York gets Satan. Vasilko got enormous amounts of medical attention and healing magic, since – although he’d been reduced to atoms – he couldn’t actually die as long as Ranko survived.
Worse, the ruckus had brought out Khaelios’s extra-dimensional tentacle-bear-things. A massive army of them who were apparently prepared to do battle all of New York in order to capture him. There seemed to be no end to them… What the hell had the boy done?!?
Apparently on his little visit he’d somehow created a near-global blight of some sort. Crop failures and massive environmental damage across the continent while turning the local area into a jungle. The tentacle-bear-things had a weird dominance-based social system – first you fight with (non-lethal) weapons, then discuss things when you know who would win a serious fight (so you know who makes concessions) – but they were rational enough otherwise.
It took a lot of magical analysis to find out what was going on… Apparently the place was fairly low-magic, but what little there was was pretty vital – and Khaelios was a natural focus for nature spirits. The local spirits were normally huge, diffuse, and fairly unthinking – but they’d drawn in on Khaelios – a natural spirit beacon – followed him home, and thus left a blight in their wake. In Earth’s far stronger magical field they hadn’t been particularly noticeable though.
Easy enough then: all they had to do was get Khaelios out of there without letting the spirits follow, and they could wave a relatively peaceful bye-bye to the tentacle-bears. Fortunately, they had more than enough mages to arrange it.
Back at the trial, despite the Yakuza lawyers trying to get Ranko and Yuki in trouble, they eventually got a fair amount of what they wanted – in part because the kids Uncle wasn’t actually all that hostile (even to Vasilko: after all, he’d just observed the boy’s willingness to sacrifice himself to protect the other children). He just believed that the only way to break his nieces and nephews free from an unacceptable soulbond was to permanently separate them from Vasilko. A little careful truth and some mental enhancement from the Chauffeur got him to accept that the bond wasn’t actually unacceptable – and that they’d be miserable if separated. They simply weren’t human any longer.
The verdict was that (1) Vasilko had acted to save the children’s lives in transforming them and that such an action was acceptable as emergency medical treatment. (2) The soulbond and pack-dominance effects did not necessarily constitute enslavement – although they could easily BECOME enslavement if so exploited. In this case, they evidently had not been. Ergo, Vasilko was not guilty on the charges of Enslavement and Rape. (3) The failure to locate and notify relatives had, indeed, been negligent – but, in the confusion, this was a relatively minor failure. There would, however, be a substantial fine, an inspection, child welfare interviews, a probation period for Vasilko, and a police liaison for the Mandate. Custody of the three children could be determined by the appropriate courts, however, it was recommended that the pack structure be given due consideration, since (4) current civil rights laws for nonhuman sentients were held to apply to werecreatures with nonhuman mindsets as long as they did not demonstrate themselves to be a danger to the community.
Overall, the Mandate could live with that. It might even be better than a simple victory in some ways. Besides… Two of the three throughly-controlled animalistic werewolves at the trial had been used in an attempt to disrupt it – so the Chauffeur used that attempt as leverage to acquire them from their current owners. The third was under the control of a responsible superhero group. Two had been officially ruled animalistic, but weren’t – and were only under light control. Still, something had to be done about that – as well as tracking down any other victims of whoever’d done the testing on them. Evidently the man had never passed a werecreature.
There turned out to be nine more – two of which were actually animalistic (one deceased), three of which were in the custody of relatives and were doing fairly well, two were under the influence of old control talismans (their maker long deceased) and were being used as guard animals, and two simply could not be found…
They were going to need a werewolf rescue foundation or something. Well, at least the Mandate had plenty of money to endow it with.
Meanwhile, back at the orphanage, Yuki had decided to take three of the children out for some minor heroing lessons. She took along Peter, with his wooden sword, Timothy and his Photon Manipulation Pistol, and Darith, one of the Revenants. Perhaps predictably, things rapidly got a bit out of control. The pickpocket wasn’t much of a challenge, the three-card monte guy wasn’t even cheating – with 2-1 house odds and even-on bets he didn’t need to – so they left him alone, and the crazy bag lady upset everyone – but the demon-rat nest which had been killing and eating various animals and at least one person was pretty dangerous.
They got out of it all right, but it was hairy for a bit.
5 XP all around, for – finally – winding up the werewolf trials plotline. Khaelios will be acquring a replacement hunted.