I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Anita Blake. They belong to Joss Whedon and Laurell K. Hamilton respectively. I also don't own A Few Good Men or Stargate SG-1. They belong to Rob Reiner (I think?) and MGM.
This fic is not kind to the Anita-verse. You have been warned.
~~Murder Most Foul
Catherine Maison-Gilett sighed as she glanced at the client she was defending. He wasn’t her first choice of clients in this life, but life had a way of presenting you with things you don’t want. He was guilty as sin and didn’t regret it for a moment. That was her first objection. He refused to even consider pleading guilty, despite the insane mountain of evidence that was levelled against him. That was her second objection. Somewhere, deep down within her, she knew he had done the right thing. That was her third and final objection. It scared the hell out of her.
Her client was Alexander Lavelle Harris, publicly known as the Scourge of St. Louis. It was reported to her that when Harris had heard this nickname mentioned in his presence, the man had gone on a giggling frenzy. She still wasn’t sure she wanted to know why he found it so funny. Perhaps the mass murderer simply had a twisted sense of humour.
Yes, you heard correctly. Alexander Harris was a mass murderer. He had gleefully slain over two dozen vampires in St. Louis alone. The last had been Jean-Claude, the current master of the city. There had been nearly a dozen witnesses to that last one, including Catherine’s old friend Anita. It was reputedly Anita who had put the round in Harris’ kneecap. Alexander still walked with a terrible limp. Apparently Anita had taken great exception to the murder of her lover.
Of course, Harris had yet to be convicted. That was what this trial was about. The man stood accused of thirty-seven counts of homicide, those being the only ones that could be linked to him for certain. The D.A. had apparently not felt the need to level charges for the over one hundred other murders that Harris had been tenuously linked to. They seemed to think that thirty-seven counts was more then enough to make sure that Alexander never saw daylight again. They were probably right.
Today was the forth day of the lengthy jury trial. The press was out in droves for this day. As if they hadn’t been for others. Today was the day when Alexander Harris, against her repeated and strident advice, was going to take the stand in his own defence. She still didn’t know what he hoped to accomplish, but she had given up trying to reason with him. “The defence calls Alexander Harris to the stand.”
Soft murmurs echoed through the courtroom as the tall, broad and intimidating figure of Alexander Harris stood up and approached the witness box. A dark leather eye-patch dominated one side of the man’s face, making him appear more menacing. She had recommended a fake eye in order to make him appear more innocent in appearance and had been duly ignored. Sometimes Catherine wondered why he even thought he needed representation. He did it all his own way anyway.
An officer of the court swore Alexander in, awaiting the calm response. “I do so swear.” An odd choice of answer, but the spell-casters in the room recognised it as mystically binding. This was a purely symbolic act since Harris was not a mage, but the witches and mages in the room seemed to appreciate it. The vampire in the gallery had all shifted uncomfortably when Alexander had adjusted the crucifix he wore so that it was prominently on display.
Catherine stood up and began to question her client. “Please state your full name and occupation for the record.”
“Alexander Lavelle Harris. I’ve also been known as the Slayer’s White Knight, the Zeppo, the One-Who-Sees-Everything and apparently the Scourge of St. Louis. I think the last was a touch over the top, but that’s life. I am a vampire and zombie hunter by trade. I end them before they can end us.”
Catherine pursed her lips. She was desperately trying to think of a way she might ask questions that would not be self-defeating. “You have pled not guilty to the murders of the thirty-seven people listed in the charges against you. Why?”
The one-eyed man grinned almost maniacally. Apparently he’d been hoping for this. “Because I never killed those people. Each and every one of them was killed by a vampire.”
Catherine frowned. She did not like this. Her client was blatantly committing perjury. “And what of the numerous witnesses to your execution of Jean-Claude via beheading? Marshal Blake among them…”
Harris frowned at this. For some reason he really hated Anita Blake. Catherine figured it was because she had shot him, but Alexander had denied it fervently. “A vampire known as Lissette murdered Jean-Claude Batiste via exsanguination. This happened some four hundred years ago.”
Catherine allowed a faint smile to caress her lips. So this was his tactic. It was unlikely to work, but it at least had the virtue of having never been tried before. “And you would contend that all of your alleged murders were similar in nature to that of Jean-Claude?”
Alexander nodded, almost regally. “I would indeed.”
Catherine nodded. This was as good as she could possibly have hoped to manage. “The defence is finished with this witness for the moment.”
The judge nodded, looking faintly stunned at the audacity of the accused. “The Prosecution may begin cross-examining the witness.”
Monica Vespucci stood up, glaring at Catherine’s client. The woman liked the attention of vampires very much and obviously disliked Alexander as a result. “Your contention seems to be that killing a vampire is not murder. Would that be a correct assumption, Mr. Harris?”
The man in the patch did not get perturbed in the slightest. “It would indeed.”
The D.A. smirked faintly, going straight for the kill. “You are aware that the law recognises vampires as legal and equal citizens of the United States, are you not?”
A nod was Harris’ only reply.
“I’ll take your nod as a yes. Then, how do you justify yourself, Mr. Harris?”
Alexander merely arched his brow in a way that made everyone feel that he was addressing a child. “A vampire is, by its very definition, a demonic essence that inhabits an animated corpse. It may have skipped your attention, Counsellor, but it is physically impossible to murder someone who is already dead. You can write any law you like in any manner you like; it won’t change that fundamental truth. When one destroys a vampire, they do not commit murder, they lay a victim’s body to rest, nothing more.”
“So you contend that killing vampires, legal citizens of the United States, is perfectly fine. That these innocent beings who have, as a race, done no real harm to anyone since they were formally recognised as such, should all be ended. Is that your contention?”
“You regard the vampires as safe because they don’t seek to destroy you anymore. Why would they? You’re doing their jobs for them. You cull the strong and vigilant from your ranks and all but bare your necks for them. When my kind are dead and gone, then you shall see their true faces again. Until then, all they have to do is be patient. They have all the time in the world.”
The lawyer smirked at Harris in a superior manner. “I would suggest that we will let the courts decide that, Mr. Harris. I’m done with this witness.”
The judge looked to Catherine for redirect, but she could think of no way to improve their position. They were already doing better then they had any right to, even if she still thought her client was screwed. The judge nodded in acknowledgement. “We will now hear the closing arguments. Miss Vespucci?”
Monica stood again and addressed herself to the jury. The group included four vampires, four weres of various types and four humans. Confident that she had four of the twelve in the bag before she even began, she addressed the other eight. “Killing a sentient being is a crime. By the law of this nation, a vampire is a sentient being. Alexander Harris openly admits to killing the thirty-seven vampires that he has been charged with murdering. No more need be said.”
Catherine stood up, formulating her response based on Harris’ own tactic. Like Monica, she deliberately addressed herself to the eight non-vampires on the jury. She knew the vamps were a lost cause but you only needed one for reasonable doubt. “A vampire is an animated corpse, inhabited by demonic entity. The act of murder requires that the victim must first be alive. A vampire does not fit that definition. Is my client guilty of desecrating corpses? Perhaps. Of murder? No. Not by any legal definition.”
The judge nodded authoritatively and dismissed the jury to their deliberations.
The wait was not long. Vampires had long since integrated into society on every level. Despite his legally intriguing argument, her client didn’t have a chance.
The judge addressed the jury. “How do you find?”
The foreman of the jury, one of the vampires ironically, stood and addressed the court. “We find the defendant guilty of all charges and suggest that the full measure of the court’s strength be exercised here, due to the heinous nature of these crimes.”
Harris’ loud snort echoed through the courtroom. The man truly had no shame.
The judge glanced at Alexander and stared at him for a long moment. “Mr. Harris, you have been found guilty of thirty-seven counts of murder. Given the sheer magnitude of your crime I am inclined to extend to you the full punishment that the law mandates and place you on death row. Do you have anything else to say before your sentencing?”
Harris stood once more and addressed himself not to the judge, but to the gallery. “I have hunted the night for over three decades now. Some of you see me as a paranoid dinosaur from a bygone era. Most of you see me as a monster of the worst sort.
“You all stand here, condemning me as a monster even as you blindfold yourselves to avoid seeing the real monsters that you happily allow into your homes and businesses, infiltrating your ranks so that may one day destroy you forever.
“I have witnessed depravities since the vampire statutes were put on the books that make my very blood curdle in horror. That a slayer…” Here Harris addressed himself to Blake, who stood in the gallery. “… would have the utter gall to betray her calling and begin sleeping with the enemy is an affront to every member of that once noble line stretching back for a thousand generations. I have only seen such an abomination once before, but at least she had the excuse of severe P.T.S.D. to excuse her somewhat.
“Nathan R. Jessup said it best. ‘You have no idea how to defend a nation. All you did was weaken a country today.’”
Most of the crowd didn’t even remember the old classic, but the judge seemed to find it awfully fitting. After all, wasn’t Harris a man who wouldn’t accept that certain behaviours were no longer tolerated? “I’m afraid that my sentencing decision will stand then. Alexander Lavelle Harris, you are hereby sentenced to death by lethal injection. And may god have mercy on your soul.”
Harris stood straight and proud. “Shal’kek nem’ron.” When nobody seemed to understand his statement, Xander translated it for them. “I die free…”
Not a very happy ending, but then it wans't meant to be.
Is Xander an old soldier who can't grow past his history, or is he a vigilant soldier who sees a threat no one will acknowledge any longer? You decide...