Dog? and Pony Show

"The line between a just society and an unjust one is not drawn by virtue of what laws exist. It is drawn by virtue of whether the law is applied in the same way to all."

—Viktor Lazlo

Craterrock -> New Light

As one of the gel chip experiments, Hippocrates wants to set up a bunch of neural sensors on a large animal — in this case, the mud dragon totem animal belonging to Severe Tire Damage. The leader attempts to figure out whether Hippocrates follows Kith or Wind Between the Stars; Hippocrates attempts to choose "none of the above" but does finally admit to maybe liking Kith better, if only to get to play with the mud dragon.

Max talks the mud dragon into being helpful, and feeds him some rats from the Tinoori's stash. The mud dragon claims that it never gets fed, or scratched, but Max doesn't actually believe that it's starving. Hippocrates tries to steal one of his rats, and gets somewhat pummeled, but gets good data in the end.

Meanwhile, on New Light, Tom Corum (Kye's grad student) will be testifying soon against the New Light Strangler. He hasn't heard from his thesis advisor in about a year, though, so his thesis is pretty doomed at the moment. Dr. Crichton has been recently helpful, though, and has also arranged to have a military escort (which turns out to be Vance Wade) for him, because of the death threats he's been receiving.

Back on Craterrock, Sharra starts building a prosthetic hand for Ace, with robotics and mad engineering. The power source is a "stabilized chemical reaction" so it won't need recharging, and she sets it up so that it's contained within the glove covering the hand. Akito attaches the robot hand to Ace's arm using "the power of chi!" and a piece of paper with a bunch of arcane symbols on it. He tears half the paper away and puts it in his pocket, and tells Ace not to look under the paper. It's all very confusing. Ace also suits himself up in a shiny new Hippocrates uniform, as part of training with Jim.

Sharra finishes reconfiguring the last of the Memento Mori probes, to look for the source of the Strategos's broadcast. It has one of the C&C modules and ID cards, to try to trigger a reply. The probe starts sending back data, which Max analyses. Max thinks there's some corruption in the data, but Sharra can see that it's postcards. Then, the probe starts dodging incoming attacks — it's not clear this was part of its original spec.

"Did you program the probe to dodge weapons fire, Sharra?" –Hippocrates
"That seems like a reasonable thing to do." –Sharra
"I'll take that as a no-ish" –Ace
Ace starts the Hippocrates out towards the probe's location, at top speed. His glove rips a little, and Sharra's remote monitoring system lets her know that it's down to 85% containment. With no leatherworkers on board, Kith duct-tapes it up again. "Where is Jayla when you need her?"

The probe reports back that it's being asked for its command authorization, but finishes with "Uh oh, gotta go. Dodging now!" Kye continues to score points as Not The Worst Diplomat:

"Sharra, do you mourn your machines?" –Max
"Dude, you could have said that better" –Akito
"We could raise a glass of machine oil" –Ace
"We can't drink machine oil..." –Sharra
"That's why we're just raising the glass." –Ace
Meanwhile, back on New Light, Tom is approached by a reporter claiming to be from the New Light News. He interviews Tom for a feature he's writing on the New Light Strangler. "How does it feel to bring down the New Light Strangler?" Tom pretty much does his best to throw all credit to other people. "It was all Detective Briscoe who caught him, I just stood there and got strangled..." After a bit more give and take it becomes clear that the reporter is fishing for some headline quote, and finally gets Tom to say "It's scary," in response to questions about all of the strangler-wannabes sending him death threats. Then some pictures are taken including a couple of mock stranglings with help from an IPX secretary. The next day, it turns out that the tabloid Light of EnQuiry (byline of "Marvin Callahan") leads off with a full page picture of Tom being strangled, and the headline "It's Scary!".

Back on Craterrock, Akito and Kith hook up a little music player to the bridge sound system, so that flying the ship will have sound effects when things happen. "Whoosh!" "Bing!"

"Am I combat-ready?" –Ace
"Sure. The glove is still at 85% containment." –Sharra
The Hippocrates reaches about where the probe was destroyed, and there's a hail on the Gold Channel. Hippocrates gives it his command code and authorization. A response comes: the ship is regcognized as the HMF Hippocrates, but is asked to exit the area. A number of safe exit corridors are provided. Hippocrates tries to argue — what if it's a medical emergency? Still, he's not authorized to fly in without a valid C&C authorization. They swipe the remaining C&C card; authorization from the Admiral is accepted. A safe entry corridor is provided.

The Hippocrates flies through the (narrow) safe entry corridor, and docks with the small station. Then, in they go.

Back on New Light, Tom and Vance are set upon by a wanna-be strangler while Tom is walking to work. The kid isn't too bright, but insists he's going to strangle Tom. Fed up with this nonsense, Tom manages to persuade Vance not to interfere just this once, and has a good time pummelling the would-be strangler into unconsciousness. When complimented on his technique, Tom explains that he is in fact the King of New Light (in the SCA) at least for a little while (he's going to have to miss "Highguardsic" due to the trial and thus lose his title), so should be good at low tech combat. Vance suggests calling the police at this point, but the two decide to just leave the poor fool unconscious on the sidewalk as an example to others.

At the space station, the party proceeds inside. There's a seal of the Strategos, and a hand-print analysis panel that looks sort of like the key of the Strategos but sideways. They use the fake hand-of-the-Strategos that they use with the Key on the panel. The overhead speaker announces "Welcome back, sir!" and the door opens.

Hippocrates asks for a status report, and is told: "In the 120,263 days since you were here last, this station has repelled nine attempts to breach security. There is still some remaining damage, and the kitchen is still out of coffee."

There were only two attempts during the last ten zed: one about a zed ago (apparently Memento Mori), and one a tick ago (Sharra's probe). Ace brings in a packet of coffee to restock with.

The inside of the station is fairly small, but comfortable. There is a living room area with a semicircular couch and a plush rug. There's a small attached kitchenette, and a panelled area with the largest Counter Commander set that Jim has ever seen, each piece made of metal rather than cardboard. The board appears to depict a siege of Ridena. In another area, there's what seems to be a full-interface fleet command module, with screens and monitors and a comfy chair. On a table is a small black case, inscribed with a silver sword. There's a small bedroom area as well, with a velvet jewelry box on the dresser. And finally, a large computer running things in the back.

Ace gets a videocamera and starts taping the interior. The Hippocrates receives a signal of some sort, but it's very far away, near the planet. Max tries to ramp up the long-range sensors, and determines that it's a ship hailing on all frequencies, but isn't able to tell more than that.

Sharra goes to talk to the computer.

"Who are you?" –Computer
"I'm... I'm authorized to be using you." –Sharra
"If I wasn't, I wouldn't be here."
"That's a good line, but I'm smart, I'm not falling for it. I'm doing my duties."
"What duties are those?"
"Not letting unauthorized people hear the final orders of the Strategos."
The computer explains to Sharra that if she tells it who she is, it'll tell her if there are any secret last orders for her, or emergency contingency backup plans. Sharra gets it to brag a little — it has memory capacity sufficient to hold orders for 15,000 entities. Well, how many does it actually have? It won't tell her that. She tries to sweet-talk it, but it's reasonably clever.

Hippocrates swipes the command card from Sparta. It's recognized, and there's a message from Ambros Nomarche which commends the brave men of Sparta who died in the battle. Creepy. Hippocrates gives his own authorization code. Another message plays, this one not in Ambros's voice, telling him that the HMF Hippocrates was reported as destroyed, and it should report to the Skyguard for reassignment.

Back on New Light, the tabloid publicity has brought a publicist to Tom's door. Apparently, he's being considered for a walk-on role on the Laddie show! After all, if he could bring down the New Light Strangler, he can help Laddie save the day. Tom is a bit dubious, but all of the recent politics and intrigue have given him a pretty clear idea of archaeology. If he really wants to make it as an archaeologist in the big leagues, he's going to need to get started with a publicity machine sooner or later. After some negotiations, and a few checks with his IPX supervisors to make sure it's all OK, he agrees to appear on the Laddie show. The Laddie show producers ask him what skills he has, and after a brainstorming session, they decide to focus a whole episode around Laddie and the Temple of Deathtraps!

Back at the Strategos' secret retreat, Hippocrates sits in the Command chair, but it's not actually connected to anything right now. It would be a good control interface if it was. Sharra talks to the computer some more — since it needs repairs, how much memory should they make sure they don't replace? It's still not falling for it.

The people with psychology think that this place is the Strategos's retreat, not his secret control fortress. The box with the sword on it is deemed Not Trapped, and opened. Inside, there are ten velvet pockets, with seven data crystals and three empty slots.

"His entire music collection!" –Kith
Max checks out the jewelry box — it has two Strategos rank pins, in platinum-iridium. Ace and Jim discuss the ethics of looting from someone who's been dead for three hundred zed; the sides are not necessarily what the GMs might have expected. Max gives them to Hippocrates, who visibly hesitates.

"They're not promoting you, they're just giving you the loot." –Drew
And then, it's back down towards the planet to investigate the ship in-system. As they get closer, it does seem to be a distress call — it's a ship with Minister Drinkwine (the Blue minster of space affairs), which is suffering engine trouble. Ace pushes the engines to try to get back faster, and tears his glove again. He tries to repair the leather, and accidentally slices it open.

Sharra confiscates the robotic hand from him, until she can come up with another design.

Minister Drinkwine requests a ride to New Light, which is provided. On the way, people investigate the data crystals — they seem to be various reports from the Skyguard Weapons/Ordnance Research Division. The projects seem to be areas of military research still in progress. One crystal has computer intrusion research notes and a compressed file marked "do not open under any circumstances", apparently with dangerous viruses. Jim refrains from opening the file.

  1. Plasma Warheads
  2. Electronic Theatre Control/Suppression
  3. Gravitic Cloaking
  4. Fractal Neutrino Destabilization
  5. Antimatter
  6. Nanite-based Physical Enhancement
  7. Nanite-based Tactical Communication
People ask Minister Drinkwine why he was in the Craterrock system, and he explains his idea: convince the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to negotiate free passage through the Well for Blue ships, and then annex Craterrock for resources. If only somone could help him, he'd be ever so grateful!

Hippocrates calls a quick conference, sans Minister Drinkwine, to explain why getting in good with the ministers is a good thing: they're the ones to try to leverage to influence the Blue government towards peaceful unification, not just Donella. Kith also wants to make sure that the rabbits don't get oppressed in any Blue colonization efforts.

On the jump through the Well, Max sends some messages down to his parents and his company, to get them ready for a free-trade free-passage deal with Blue and to prepare them to aid in any diplomatic areas that might be possible for a random citizen.

Sharra checks what sort of features Ace wants in his Robot Hand Mark Two — hidden compartments! She is much more successful on this one, and the glove is (theoretically) optional this time.

Tom gets briefed on the details of the Laddie show. Every week, Laddie does something new and impressive — performs open heart surgery, flies a fighter jet, that sort of thing. Tom starts studying up on scriptwriting so he can write a script to showcase both himself and Laddie properly — most likely involving deathtraps, as that's something Tom knows something about. Tom tells them they really want Dr. Kye to assist, or, failing that, Dr. Crichton.

Akito fastens Ace's new hand on again, and Ace drinks a cup of tea to his health — the little teacup vanishes into his hand. Wow, Sharra's secret compartment stuff works pretty well!

The Hippocrates finally reaches New Light, and is hailed (the hail announces itself as Very Important). It's Don Jackson, from Caroline Productions. He needs to speak to Dr. Kye. In fact, Laddie needs Dr. Kye. Hippocrates does not seem to be as moved by this as he might be, and explains that he's not familiar with the Laddie Show. Jackson explains that he was told that they needed a deathtrap expert, and Dr. Kye was the best.

"Is someone in a deathtrap?" –Hippocrates
"There will be soon, if I can't find Dr. Kye."
Max starts running web searches for the Laddie Show, and Sharra calls Vance, who, coincidentally enough, is hanging out with Tom and knows all about the deathtraps idea. Max downloads some bootleg copies of the show, and people note that Laddie looks a lot like Dog?, but he's been washed a lot more recently.

Tom and Vance show up at the Hippocratesto see Sharra. Tom explains about his recent adventures. He's the King of New Light! Wait, he's what? In the SCA, that is. But there's an SCA convention on Highguard soon, because the Hegemon of the SCA is there - since he can't go because of his court appearance, he'll end up losing his title.

And, people keep trying to strangle him, because the New Light Strangler is apparently a fairly charismatic guy, and has been giving interviews. They all carefully stay on the legal side, saying "strangling is good" rather than "go strangle Tom!", and New Light does seem to be a little prone to following the new and most interesting cult.

Just for reference, the currently known list of dogs:
Akito tells Ruthie to give Dog? a bath, as he's definitely not as shiny as Laddie. Jim asks if he can do it for Ruthie. Akito gives him a funny look, but Ruthie is all over Jim giving the dog a bath instead of her. Ace offers Jim some etiquette tips on how to manage that more smoothly in the future.

Then, it's off to the conference at the studio. Several studio execs come in, Tom and Vance come in, and Dr. Crichton comes in, for the script revision meeting. They'd like to make the deathtraps more realistic. And everyone gets introduced to Laddie, who looks quite a bit like Dog, but much better-looking. Max chats up Laddie a little — Laddie is a little bored, having to do the dog and pony show without the pony. Ace offers Laddie a dog treat (from hidden in his hand), and the handlers leap in the way! No unauthorized dietary treats! They swap out Ace's treat for an authorized treat, and Ace feeds that to Laddie.

The scriptwriters explain. Every week, Laddie saves the day. This time, they're trying to change it up a little, make the viewers think. This time, Laddie can't do it alone — he has to go for help. So he goes for help to Tom, who will help him with the deathtrap. Tom has sketched out a deathtrap that requires both a man and a dog to disarm.

Dr. Crichton launches into an academic lecture on deathtraps, in an attempt to impress the scriptwriters. Tom anticipates his needs with posters. It's all very pretty, and definitely getting Crichton brownie points with the scriptwriters. Max attempts to head this off at the pass by asking Crichton what his most recent deathtrap was — Crichton says "the Collapsing Caves of Sundown." Max asks if that's the one that the party got out before Crichton did. (He's thinking of the Acheron project dig, but that was actually Dr. Van Trent, not Dr. Crichton). Crichton snipes back that no, he meant the one with the shark lizards. They are familiar with shark lizards? No? Well, perhaps someday they'll pick it up. Sharra gets into the fray, managing to one-up Dr. Crichton on his deathtrap lecture.

The writers head off again, instructing people to put together a deathtrap in Lot 17. Hippocrates tries to jump in to talk about business arrangements — he's angling for future screen time of some sort, possibly for Katya getting to appear on the Laddie Show...

Max visits with Laddie some more. Laddie thinks his life is monotonous, but generally okay. Once a week, it's pretty annoying — they do crazy things like make him stand on boxes, and sit in chairs, and tie ropes to him and shine bright lights at him. He hates that part, but the rest of it is okay.

Sharra supervises building the deathtrap, with help from the rest of the crew. It's a pretty scary deathtrap — 17 successes worth. Dr. Crichton suggests that the crew test out the deathtrap (as victims), to make sure that it works. Hippocrates points out that's not part of the standard consultant contract. Nobody is clear that they want to be in the deathtrap. Dr. Crichton agrees to use some Memento Mori extras instead.

A studio cameraman shows up to take the preliminary footage of the deathrap. It's a guy with a cheap camcorder, who doesn't seem to be particularly pointing it anywhere interesting. Everyone stares at him and motions towards the deathtrap, as blades whirl and hammers pound and spikes poke. Tom and Dr. Crichton (in Laddie's spot, though he's not willing to mimic Laddie any more than kneeling down) successfully deactivate the deathtrap, although Tom is a little worried that Laddie won't be as good at it as Crichton is.

The fact that the cameraman doesn't seem to be filming the action very competently is somewhat puzzling, though.

"If Mirris were here, she would be talking about Magent Storden or something of the sort." –Jim
Max asks the cameraman why he's not doing his job. He's a little taken aback, and explains that they'll just cut it together and edit it and it'll be fine. Nobody seem to believe him. Can he show them? He says okay, he'll go get a monitor. The cameraman comes back with a tape player and monitor, and replays the tape. There's a dramatic zoom in on the deathtrap, the scene cuts back and forth from panicked faces to dangerous sharp things, and then switches into bullet time to swivel around the final swinging blade.

See? He got it. The company insists on one take for all shoots, nowadays. Well, that explains... something, at least. There's definitely some sort of acausalness going on. Akito asks to see the camera — the camera guy takes the tape out and passes the camera to Akito. It promptly sparks and fries when he touches it. Akito claims to be traumatized and hurt, and threatens to sue the studio. The cameraman, on the other hand, is upset that he's going to be held responsible for the camera breaking.

The cameraman heads off with the broken camera, stalked by Ace and Max. The cameraman writes up a little report with the camera saying "I didn't break it, Akito did!" and leaves it with the camera, signing out a new one. Ace swaps in a forged report that doesn't mention Akito by name, just "the consultants", and steals one of the other cameras from the storage room.

Meanwhile, the cameraman takes the tape to the editor, who signs it in, doesn't use any of his fancy editing equipment, and then puts it back in the outbox. Max scans all that. When he replays the scans of it all, Akito thinks that's Agent Morden in the editor's chair. Hmm. So, his acausal tech this time has to do with a TV show? But then, it's a TV show that has one of the potential dogs in it, which could be extra-bad.

There is much discussion as to whether it is the camera or some sort of editing shtick which is acausal. Max doesn't think there's anything that scans as acausal in the camera, but Sharra points out that there wouldn't be; "acausal" just means that what actually happens doesn't seem to be related to what the tech ought to do. Kith offers to film Hydroponics — would that be bad? Tom thinks if you could disrupt the timestream by filming your back garden with an acausal camera, why would Agent Morden bother with a TV show? Akito points out the previous camera exploded, so it was the acausal thing.

Sharra's mother calls. Vance had mentioned Sharra was on planet. Sharra winces, and agrees to have dinner with the family that evening.

Ace makes a photo-collage of Crichton in the deathtrap, and leaves it in Kye's room for him, and then the party begins to plan how to take out Agent-Morden-the-Editor. Tom objects that he really doesn't want to knock out the editor of the Laddie show right before his PR campaign is supposed to take off by appearing on the Laddie show. Not to mention that without acausality, the show will probably tank, and "The Laddie Show — Destroyed by Tom Corum" is not the publicity Tom wants.

Max buys a cheap camera, same model, from Radio Shack. He throws it at Akito, who catches it — it doesn't explode. Ruthie and Dog? promptly commandeer it, and get Akito to film them in an episode of the Laddie Show in which they save Dessert. The special effects do not appear to be acausal.

People background check the editor. He was hired for the Laddie show because he was already known as a good editor, but he's branched out his technique for the Laddie Show. But then, that's standard practice for Agent Morden — he jumps into someone who already does the thing in question.

Just to test, Ace throws the acausal camera at Akito, and it explodes. Akito isn't keen on this as a testing mechanism, but it does serve to destroy the camera.

Sharra recruits Kith and Ace to visit her parents with her. Ace dutifully changes out of the Hippocrates uniform and unbuttons his shirt enough to show a good deal of chest hair, and promises to be an Utterly Unsuitable Husband Candidate; Kith intends to say nice things about Sharra instead. Sharra's dad glowers a little at Ace, but her mom realizes that their chains are being yanked and is more amused than anything else. The Wades ask a lot of questions about the battle in Tinara and such, and then Minister Wade asks about the jump gates. They opened the gate between Tinara and Gateway, yes? Anyway, the Trade Ministry is definitely interested in opening the gate between Juice and Nurl.

Sharra sticks to the party line — they'll open the gate when the governments on both sides ask for it. Have both sides asked for it? Well, Blue is definitely on board, but the Brochoan Protectorate seems to be dragging its feet, trying to leverage its quasi-independance.

En route to work, Vance and Tom are ambushed again. This time three stranglers surround them. It turns out they have strangling shticks and are actually pretty good at it. Luckily, Tom and Vance are pretty stoked, so they do manage to survive. Max slips them a couple of med patches with his powers, so that helps too.

Sharra, Kith, and Ace catch up to the group at the IPX office, which is a well-fortified building. It could probably withstand a siege by, well, not-amazingly-armed besiegers, for quite some time. It is, in fact, sufficient to withstand random kooky strangler wanna-bes.

Kith posts to the local Jaylaist news boards — there's so much good they could do in the field of criminal rehabilitation! Suffering to relieve, and people to bring around. She suggests that if anyone hasn't yet found their niche, they try that.

Several people manage to restrain the editor, and then he's turquoised. Eventually, he falls asleep and Akito touches him — both of them are flung across the room in the chi explosion. The crew leaves him asleep/unconscious in his house, and heads back to the ship.

When they get back to the ship, there's an junior lawyer from Solicitor Cyprus here to see Jim. If he can just get Dylanna to sign the form appointing them back as her attorneys, then they can unleash the full force of their firm on her case. Which is, he points out, not inconsiderable. Jim says he'll talk to her.

Ace, Sharra, and Max buy a pile of cameras from Radio Shack to replace the acausal cameras with. They swap them at the studio without incident.

Jim, Akito, and Kith go to talk to the editor. Akito points out that he's still way down from the chi explosion; Kith wishes she had more dice, and promptly segues into paranoia. The editor seems kinda confused, though Kith thinks he might have a gun. Jim says he wants to make sure he's feeling okay. He feels okay... why is Jim asking? Well, there was an explosion, with a camera. The editor frowns, suspicious. Did Jim come by last night? Well, yes. Why?

Jim tries to explain, but he's going along the "possessed by a guy from the future" path which the editor finds a little implausible. Tom leaps in: he was influenced by a guy trying to subvert the Laddie Show! Jim tries to explain the acausal part again. The editor is still a little iffy on that, but does get convinced that the Hippocrates crew is, in fact, made up of good guys. Kith is still worried about Agent Morden having left some sort of post-hypnotic suggestion, but everyone else thinks it's mostly sorted out.

Having somewhat torpedoed the Laddie Show's production values, the party agrees to try and help salvage the next episode. They head over to the studio. Tom and Vance have their own plan on how to get there, strangler-free. Tom calls three different cab companies, and tells them all to show up. Then he rolls dice to pick which cab to take. As it turns out, though, the evil cabbie does better on a fortune check than Tom does, so there starts to be a detour. Over the neutrino radios (which have been loaned to Tom and Vance), the party hears the cabbie protesting: "No need to point your gun at me, sir! I'm pulling over!"

The crew converges on Vance and Tom's location. Kith frowns sternly at the cab driver, using her Grandmother face. "I suggest, sir, that you tell the truth Right Now."

The driver confesses: "I was driving him to the farmhouse with the strangler convention!" Much of the party thinks that it would be a grand idea to go to the strangler convention too — some to reform them, other to kick butt, but in the end, it is left to the police. Kith convinces the driver that Strangling is Wrong and he promises to do better.

Then, it's to the Laddie Show! This time for sure! Max needles Crichton that he didn't notice the acausal tech — doesn't he do future archaeology? Well, now he does.

The editor comes in ready for work. The party tries to convince him that it's going to be different, but he's still unconvinced by the physics. "The special effects on the Laddie Show are destroying the universe. Right."

The group drags the director and editor to look at the set, which still looks like a deathtrap built by amateurs. The editor is beginning to see the oncoming doom, but the director protests that they've done the last nine episodes this way!

Tom explains:

"Deathtraps have special needs" –Tom
"Special needs. Yup. We're archaeologists. We understand this stuff." –Dr. Crichton
"And... a rival company was giving you CGI support, and it's withdrawn it. To make you fail." –Tom
That last, they understand. And Laddie has become very expensive, over the past nine episodes, due to a very crafty agent (Ryan Morningside). They can't afford new cameras and new staff and Laddie's salary. Well, what if there was another dog that looked like Laddie? The crew can help with that.

They show him (the newly washed) Dog?. They'll trade filming Dog? for a nummie from the studio that they can cash in later. It'll take a few days to set the set up to normal TV standards. Bring Dog? back in a few days, ready to act and disarm a deathtrap with his teeth. Sharra takes the opportunity to add a third hidden platform to disarm from, just in case Dog? isn't really up to archaeological standards.

The few days pass without any major strangling incidents (Jim visits Dylanna at this point). The set is prettified. The party returns, with Dog?, for filming. Dog? runs back and forth on cue, as directed by Akito and Max. Then, the deathtraps! Between Tom, Sharra (in the hidden platform), and Dog?, the deathtrap is successfully disarmed. Laddie saves the day!

Then, the editor runs off with the tape and begins to edit like the wind. As he's rolling d12s (Ace) and succeeds on 5s (Kith), he does quite well. The finished product is not quite the incredible efforts that Laddie has been putting in before, but it's still pretty good. Additionally, the availability of other dogs that look like Laddie has crushed Ryan Morningside's negotiating position.

The party checks in with the police — how did that strangler convention go? A lot of people got arrested (the ones who explicitly wanted to strangle Tom); the ones who were more about "Strangling — it's the future" got off (though the police will definitely be keeping an eye on them).

Finally, it's time for the trial of the real New Light Strangler.

Hippocrates crew escorts Tom (and Vance) to the trial. Detective Briscoe testifies, and then Tom testifies. The Strangler is defending himself — Ace hits him with an influence to roll d8s, setting off the psi detector. There's a temporary adjournment while a psychic checks to see if there was some sort of influence. There was, but it wears off. The trial resumes later that afternoon, this time with no weird psi.

The Strangler seems to be using the defense "I wasn't there, and even if I was, it's not like strangling was bad." This really doesn't seem like a plausible defense, but he seems to be hoping for jury nullification.

The jury files out, and time starts passing.

"Okay, I want to go..."
"Don't tamper with the jury!" –Hippocrates
After a few hours, there's one juror who is dismissed for trying to strangle another juror. An alternate is called in. A few more hours later, the jury files out — the verdict is Guilty.

On their way out, one of the jurors comes to shake Tom's hand. Then, he cracks and tries to strangle Tom, but it's a momentary impulse and Tom easily dodges.

As Laddie might say, "Ruff!" (Translation: "The day is saved!")