A Star Witness
Roleplaying Log: A Star Witness
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

AG David Archer begins preparing for Peterson v. New York. It is…not off to the most auspicious start.

Other Characters Referenced: Amon Bell, Nick Fury, Superman, Captain America, Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock
IC Date: April 04, 2019
IC Location: The AG's Office, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 03 Apr 2019 01:13
Rating & Warnings: PG
NPC & GM Credits: Rogue
Associated Plots

The Office of Attorney General David Archer is exquisitely tasteful. Mid-century modern office furniture combines with a shelf full of law books. There is, as it happens, no ego wall. He's here. That's the ego. That's the achievement.

Instead, where many attorneys would hang their degrees and news articles covering their successes, David hangs photos of his family. His wife is a statuesque black woman as tall as he is. The photos indicate he has three girls. They've been on some nice vacations. There are a few Christmas photos of a large and sprawling extended family. And if one might guess he doesn't see as much of them as he might like, in his position, they all seem well-dressed, well cared for, and loving. He clearly chose himself a woman who understood the tradeoffs: a high-powered career husband and financial security versus a highly available one.

Carol is shown in at precisely the time he set the appointment, offered water, offered coffee, offered pleasantries, offered a seat.

The broad-shouldered AG himself radiates presence, from the faint waft of a masculine cologne in the air to the way he just seems to fill a room. It's not hard to imagine him dominating a courtroom. And if his biggest case loss to date was also his most public, he has a long, long track record of wins to give him confidence.

And with pleasantries done, he gets right down to it.

"Captain Danvers," he says, "the State of New York is being sued over the registration law."

* * *

Its difficult to believe this is Carol Danvers.
The woman shown a seat after silently refusing every link in the chain of customary benefaction does not entirely look like the larger-than-life superhero.
Indeed, while the reigning AG has had over a year to recoup from his greatest public failure for Danvers it was only a few days ago.
Carol does not wear her starburst flight costume, nor her next level of formal wear which would be her Air Force decorated Captain dress uniform. Instead she wears a business casual suit with black slacks and a haphazardly affixed dress jacket over a simple white blouse. Her hair having grown unkempt in the past few months drawn into a simple bun. A very rushed approximation of a government agent in the administrative pool, as opposed to one of the greatest super beings on Earth.

Distant eyes seem to look through Archer. She had met the man in passing only briefly at several government functions but never said more than a few words to him. She is aware of his part to play in trying to affix all of the Winter Soldier's sins to Buchanan Barnes but does not particularly hold it against him. He was just doing his job.
Much as she was.

"I am aware." Danvers responds in hollowed quiet. She was very, very tempted to find some reason to not attend this meeting but.. One does not simply disregard the AG. Especially the very AG that may end up destroying what little remains of her government career.

* * *

David gives a curt nod to her answer. He says, "As I am aware of your recent trouble. Ignore the media, Captain Danvers. They love tearing down a hero just as much as they love building one up. Anyone would have taken that shot, and the kid's still alive. The State of New York has absolutely no interest in prosecuting this crime. If your current boss is so stupid as to throw you away for a shot he would have taken himself, rest assured I will personally make sure you have a soft place to fall. And neither is contingent on you doing anything for me, for all that I've called you here to request your help."

He leans forward and says, "And if you're feeling any guilt over it, take a deep breath. Try to let it go. You acted in good faith. That's all anyone can do."

He is not particularly known for being touchy feely, but there is something in his dark eyes that speaks to empathy with her situation. It's not overly applied. It's brisk and businesslike. But it's there.

* * *

If there is injury in Carol it is deep and not so easily swabbed away with a brisk of pep. However, as he offers his begrudged sympathy and support Carol slowly blinks her eyes the way a half-lucid dreamer might, "I appreciate that." Which is the most enthusiastic reply she can manage with an expression better worn by a corpse.
"How can I help?" Managing a bit more animation, clearly appreciating the brevity most of all as she seems receptive to his request. If mutely so.
A week ago and that question would be framed with confidence and an eagerness to do anything to make this law painless and as safe as possible. Now those words are coached with a measure of self-depreciation, uncertain how desperate he has to be right now to be talking to one of the currently most hated women in New York. If not the entire country.

* * *

"I need two things. A star witness, and protection. As soon as the Brotherhood gets wind that I'm the one prosecuting this case they're going to try to kill me. As I have not yet mastered the art of winning cases from the grave, I'd prefer to avoid that. Those Hells Kitchen bleeding hearts are going to try to make it out like metahumanity is a downtrodden class in need of protection. It's my job to show the opposite: that these are citizens, priviledged by science or genetics to hold advantages the rest of us can't dream of holding, and thus have responsibilities the rest of us don't have."

He leans back and spreads his hands. "And while you might think you won't make a good one, rest assured of two things. First, if you agree, I'll be launching a pretrial motion to suppress any reference to the shooting. It has nothing to do with the case at hand and should not enter into evidence. Second, if the motion is denied we'll just let Murdock or Nelson go right ahead and bring it up on cross. I'll turn it into a goddamn asset on redirect. If they want to talk about people not being culpable because someone is messing with someone else's mind, well, we can talk about it. I'd say being forced to see someone who isn't there qualifies."

* * *

Silence is his immediate answer. Carol bows her head a few degrees, eyes drifting to the finish of the AG's desk. Her expression is not one of a hardened poker player considering their risk and options, but a haunted ghost wondering if she should bother trying to live again.
There are other factors at play here, things that go beyond the simple fact that she blew a hole in a dumb Brotherhood wannabe. It is not that simple. It is never that simple for people like Carol. So often people think of her as hard-line military willing to do what it takes for her country and for many years she was very much one of those people herself.
None of which concerns a man like David Archer. He wants an answer and Carol cannot give him one right off the tip of her tongue.
Thoughts storm over and over again around the single moment. She finds it impossible to not think of the shooting for longer than a few minutes. She can sneak in some rational thought, considerations beyond this core failure. A notion toys with her. 'The Brotherhood.'
Carol likely cuts the man off before he can break the awkward silence himself, "I'll protect you. It.. has to be cleared through my superiors but I'll do it." Her eyes lifting again in vague approximation of eye contact, "If you call me to the stand I will tell the truth."

* * *

In all actuality, David was prepared to let the silence stretch on for a half an hour if that's what it took. He has waited out all sorts of people that way. He hadn't even made a motion to open his mouth before Carol opened hers. When she does, he nods, satisfied with the response.

"Good. That's all I want from you," Archer says. "That's the only thing you should do on any stand. Later we'll meet and I'll talk you through what to expect, run you through some questions I'll want to ask so that you are prepared."

And so he doesn't get any unpleasant surprises. His strategy in The Winter Soldier trial was a gamble that did not pay off. No gambles here. No gambles now.

He reaches into a desk drawer and pulls out an envelope, sliding it across the table. Carol has said she will do it, and now he locks it in by serving her with a subpeona to serve as a defense witness. No point in serving it if she was going to be hostile or uncooperative.

And going into strategy beyond this, now, working on those questions, now, seems like a bad plan. She's too out of it.

Instead he asks, "Do you know of any other witnesses I ought to be considering? Others who have adopted a stance matching your own?"

* * *

Carol accepts the envelope without looking upon it. The subpeona rests on her knees beneath her folded hands, only speaking up at the latter question. She can't even summon the energy to chuckle, her head shaking slowly from side to side, "No one else. At best I found.. Cautious acceptance of the Law."
Before the subject can change, Carol seems to change it herself. Gaining a fraction of wherewithal without warning she goes further on the first point, "The most important thing is you need to understand what you need to do to be prepared. The Triskelion was one of the most secure buildings in the entire world and the Brotherhood cracked it open and turned it to dust. If they're going to want you dead you will need security above and beyond anything SHIELD had in play. You do not show your face in public again, you hide every family member and burn their addresses. I can fight them, but if they come in mass I won't be enough to save you. You'll.."

She closes her eyes. Her head bows yet again, fighting the bile rising up her throat she long thought herself physically incapable of before continuing, ".. want Sentinel escorts and patrols in your presence at all times. They're the only reliable way to screen for mutant infiltration."

* * *

The warning is enough to give David Archer half a moment of pause. He had thought about them going after him. He had not thought about his family. his eyes flick up to the photographs, and he rubs a hand over his face. But he firms his jaw, and his eyes harden. Whatever he thinks about anything, he apparently can't be dissuaded from his own duty.

He pulls out a dayplanner and makes a note. "Makes sense. I'll get it done," he says. "Speaking of media appearances, you need to stop making them too. Give this uproar over your actions the attention it deserves, which is precisely none."

He tap-taps his pencil against the pages of his planner, and adds, "Who did you get cautious acceptance from?"

It's not that he can't get witnesses in support of the law. He's already got a long list of people whose homes have been destroyed, who have lost loved ones, who have gone uncompensated for damage caused by metahuman antics. But some witnesses are stronger than others.

Meta witnesses are stronger than others. In a supreme irony. He'll take every one of them he can get.

* * *

Carol's second wind from malaise lasts long enough to make serious eye contact with the man. She had noticed the photographs and she knows precisely what levels the Brotherhood would stoop to to make a point. With that point made as fiercely as she can muster she then releases her gaze, returning to a dejected sullenness that seems more comfortable.
"Done." Carol responds to the order of no longer being in the media crosshairs. Of all his requests that one is easiest to grant. She does not want to see a single reporter or camera. Not anytime soon. Her time as Registration spokeswoman is done, as far as she's concerned.

"Superman and Captain America were on the fence.." She murmurs quietly, eyes drifting away, "After Bell's disaster I doubt they are on the fence anymore. I wouldn't bother asking them."

* * *

Archer nods thoughtfully. Well, he'll have to make do. Captain America would have been a nice addition to his case, but it is what it is.

He follows her gaze to the photographs and stands. He begins taking them off the wall, almost as if the Brotherhood is already looking straight into his office, seeing them, marking them. He pulls out a file box and puts them inside; he'll take them to his wife later. And then they can all go into hiding.

She's just going to love that shit.

"Call me," he suggests, "as soon as your bosses are finished making their decision. Beyond that? Rest. See a shrink. Get your strength back. Remember you're a singular voice looking past identity politics to consider the greater good, the entire citizenry and not just a small portion of it. Nobody is hurt by being asked to carry a license. The violence did not start with the State of New York. It started with the Brotherhood. Rest easy knowing you're still doing the right thing, Captain Danvers."

* * *

Danvers stands shortly after Archer does. She watches him file away his family with mute pity. She can only imagine what this is going to do to his household.. Again. She can only imagine what his home must have been like in the aftermath of the 'Trial of the Century' but she does not pry. He seems resolved to his sacrifices.
Carol is finding her own sacrifices not as palatable as she had once thought.
"Archer." She states simply in farewell, a tone usually reserved for 'Sir'. He isn't in the same chain of command so she does not give him more respect than his State authority deserves, but some honorifics are so ingrained they're comforting.
She does not answer his parade of off-handed advice or his reminder that she is doing the right thing. She intellectually understands this and agrees.
Emotionally? Again she sees it play out in her head. Her order, Neutron turning and running.. Then Eliza collapsed dead. Again she rethinks the moment, all her decisions and thoughts. Going over it again and again. What mistake did she make, where and why it all went wrong. How did she kill a child?

She barely realizes she's walking the street, not flying back to her apartment in Boston. It takes hours to walk back to her apartment but that's fine with her. She'll have time to feed Chewie, take a shower and head to her next appointment. She doesn't need to sleep or eat, not really. The half-day walks give her time to think..

Again she sees it play out in her head…

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