Hi okay here’s an unexpected turn of events.
I’m in the bar right now, but I have a couple minutes before everything gets started and I’m super avoiding Rook, so I’ll just update you real quick.
Beverly called Julian this morning because a couple of Ace’s guys appeared on their doorstep this morning.
Apparently because Ace has everyone all worked up into a froth. Any progress we might have made in the last few days to bring people around has been totally lost at this point. He’s telling all his followers that if we were willing to lie about Julian being alive, than what else are we lying about? If Julian is alive than what could excuse could Neal possibly have for killing Merl?
They’re all revving up for a blood bath.
The two that came were probably in their 30s, one bald with a dark beard in a scarred leather jacket named Marco Torres and the other a chubby guy in glasses named David Schooner.
“We just want you to know that some of us are listening,” Marco was saying when we arrived. “We’re not the only ones either — we’re just the ones who decided to come say something to you. There’s a lot of anger in there. We’re getting nervous.”
“Is Neal in danger?” Beverly asked.
“Not yet,” Marco said. “I think Ace wants to use him to make a statement.”
I think we all sorta know what that statement is going to be.
“In your mind, is there anything any of us can do to salvage this situation?” Beverly asked.
They exchanged a glance.
“They’ve made up their minds,” Marco said.
“Okay,” Beverly said. “Then we’re going to need another plan.”
“What are you going to do?” David asked. There was fear in his face, and I realized he thought we were going to do something violent. These guys really thought we were going to handle this problem with unspeakable sorcery and came anyways.
“We’re going to get Neal out of harms way,” Beverly said. “Our first priority is to make sure no one gets hurt.” And then when that didn’t seem to sooth them, Beverly added, as gently as she could, “if we wanted to hurt you or your people, we’d have done it already.”
So we just spent the last half hour bashing together a new game plan. We have no idea if it’s going to work — we’re about to go in and essentially ask the “judge” if we can put four more people up on the witness stand.
“We’re not going to try and win this case anymore,” Beverly said. “It’s not possible. All we can do is present them our plan for how to face the future, and hope that for some at least, it’s enough to pull them to our side.”
How are we going to do that, you ask?
We’re going to put Julian up there in front of everyone and tell the story in his own words.
Just standing in the dusty parking lot felt like we were in a town too small for all of us and it was nearing high noon.
Before we went in, Cosima paused.
“So…” she glanced up at Cooper, and swatted his arm gently. “I have some backup.”
“Backup?” Cooper repeated, frowning at her.
She got out her phone and typed something quickly, and a moment later his phone buzzed.
“Go to that address,” she said. “We may need her.”
“Oh,” Cooper said, evidently realizing who she meant.
“Who?” Beverly asked.
But they ignored her and Cooper asked, “You sure that’s a good idea?”
Cosima shrugged. “Got a better idea?” And then with a gesture, “please, she won’t come if I call. You’re gonna have to convince her.”
Cooper and Cosima exchanged a long look and then he pulled his keys back out of his pocket and headed back to the car.
Now, I have a guess as to who Cosima brought with her, but I’m not going to say it aloud because I don’t want to be wrong. But if I’m right — damn, Cosima’s more worried than she’s letting on.
Julian’s not here yet. We thought it might be better if he’s not on the lot until the moment we’re ready. Just seems like too big a risk, you know? We don’t want to jump start the shit show that’s bound to happen when everyone actually sees him alive ya know?
Oh they’re starting I’ll update more later.
The jury is in the back room deliberating, but I don’t think their solution really even matters at this point. Like, at this point I think we’ve made it abundantly clear that we’re not here to fuck around.
Putting Julian on the stand was a fucking delight.
When the judge stood up, he said, “Alright, who’s going to start with their final statement?”
“I’ll start,” Cosima said, standing up. “But I have a request.” They waited a moment and Cosima said, “I have one more witness.”
“I think our people have heard enough from all of you,” the judge said.
“Then it’s a good thing I’m not talking only to your people,” she said. “Though it hasn’t escaped our notice that the jury was entirely selected from among your own.”
“You had your opportunity,” the judge said.
“Mr Gutierrez,” Cosima said, striding forward towards him and lowering her voice so I almost couldn’t hear her. “You have the opportunity to hear us out now. It might be the only one you get.”
“Judge, she’s had her chance,” Billy Ace reminded the whole room. It was the first thing he’s said publicly in this entire trial.
Judge Gutierrez paused for a moment, and then sighed. “I’ll give you one more witness,” he said quietly and there was a wave of whispering and surprise through the room.
Cosima glanced over her shoulder and gave me the thumbs up to text Julian.
He looked so tall and handsome as he came into the room in his shabby grandpa sweater. He didn’t meet anyone’s gaze as he crossed the front of the bar, despite the murmuring. He kept his head down as he settled onto the bar stool, then looked up at only Neal. He nodded, barely. Then he squared his shoulders.
“Hello Julian,” Cosima said.
The dislike in the room was palpable, and they both had to adjust a little to get their feet under them.
“I think we’d all like to hear what happened to you,” she said. “In your own words, if you don’t mind.”
And then Julian told us the whole story again, but this time I actually heard it.
The Allens brought Julian into Reno, remember? And one of the first things Julian said to me was that they wanted him to change.
“So they thought that you were a dangerous monster,” Cosima said. “And they brought you into the city to test their theory, correct?”
“Yes,” Julian said.
“That seems a bit irresponsible,” Cosima said.
“That’s exactly what I told them,” Julian replied.
“But they were determined?”
Julian finally turned to look directly at Billy Ace. He said, “They were.”
“Why do you think that was?”
“I don’t feel comfortable making that guess,” Julian said, but the implication was right there for all of us to see.
“Julian,” Cosima said, very slow and even. “What is a dog saint?”
Julian took a long breath. Then he explained it, just like they once explained it to me.
The room listened hungrily, as he explained that the dog saints are activated by an old spell that recurs generationally, giving people magical abilities in order to protect the world in it’s time of great need. More hungrily than I would have expected from a group of people who supposedly really hate magic.
“And are there dog saints right now?” Cosima asked.
“Who are they?”
“Me,” Julian said. “My brother, Neal. You.” This was greeted by a general rustle of alarm.
Because remember — Ace’s people aren’t the only ones who didn’t know this. Our people didn’t know it either.
“Then, Cooper, who’s been here the last few days, and another woman named Eden.”
“And what are our powers?”
This had been discussed. Everyone present had agreed that this should be done, finally.
“You all already know my ability,” Julian said dryly. “And I’m not at liberty to tell anyone Eden’s, as I barely understand it myself. Cooper has super-human strength. You have the power to humanely end a person’s life, provided you truly believe that they deserve it. And Neal can always tell when you’re lying.”
This time the rustling of discomfort came from our side of the room. I distinctly saw the Kellihers recoil and Rook’s brow furrowed. Neal folded his arms and lifted his chin defiantly.
“And what is our purpose?” Cosima asked.
“Historically,” Julian said, haltingly, “dog saints have taken on a sort of leadership role as the world has descended into magical chaos. A bit like calling marshal law. But that’s not what we want to do.”
“What do we want to do?”
Julian looked out at the room and he just said it: “We want to vote. A fair, complete vote, for a leader we can all trust. It’s what we’ve been asking for all week, just a vote. We’ll build a new system together — and the five of us will back whoever wins.” After a brief pause, he added, “the world will need all of us. Surely you’ve noticed — there is more magic lately, more danger, and it’s only going to get worse. We can teach you. We can share resources.” He shifted in his seat, leaning back.
“Or?” Cosima asked.
“Or you can burn this bridge and carry forward on your own, and we’ll walk out of here right now.”
“No one walks out of here,” Billy Ace said from the back of the room. “This is a trial.”
“This,” Julian said, very calmly, “is a farce.” The danger was so close under the surface, and I would be lying if I told you if I didn’t feel a total fucking thrill. “Frankly, Mr. Ace, everyone in this room knows that the moment we stop playing along with this ridiculous game, is the moment the game ends.”
“That’s enough questions,” Ace snapped. “It’s our turn. Heller —”
The prosecutor got to his feet, but he wasn’t quite willing to just interrupt until Cosima gestured to him that he was welcome. The judge wasn’t even trying to lead the thing anymore.
Heller cleared his throat and straightened his tie nervously.
“I only have one question,” Heller said. “But I do demand the truth.” He paused just a moment and then said, “how did you come back?”
I fucking FROZE
“I can’t answer that question,” Julian said without missing a beat.
“Excuse me?” Heller asked.
“Is that allowed?” the judge asked.
But it was Ace that really lost it. He strode forward through the crowded bar, drew a handgun from under his clothes, and held it square to Julian’s head.
“Tell me how you came back,” Ace said. He was practically shaking with rage.
Julian only looked up at him and observed, “We’ve been here before.”
Everyone was so busy watching Ace and Julian that no one noticed Neal get up, cross the room, and casually disarm Ace with a few easy passes of his hands. He tossed the gun to Beverly who caught it easily.
Ace stood there, disarmed and blinking with fury and powerlessness. He looked strangely naked, like an ugly ass baby pigeon.
“Enough of this,” Neal said. “You all — go decide if you’re going to try and enforce some punishment on me. Good luck. The rest of us, I’m so fucking hungry, can we go?”
And that was that. We all just got up and left, and there wasn’t a damn thing any of those people could do about it. They just watched us go, wide-eyed and frightened.
And now we’re all out in the parking lot, essentially tailgating. Someone went and got tacos from a taco truck down the street. I’m hiding in the shade where hopefully Rook won’t decide to talk to me because I honestly just can’t handle that today.
Poor Neal and Julian are currently explaining more of the intricacies of their no-longer-secret dog saint powers. They do not look like they’re having a good time.
On the other hand I’m feeling pretty good about the whole neoidahj