The Advocate

“I’m Harley. I’ll be your advocate.”

She waited while the creature on the other side of the translucent partition interpreted her message and responded. Integrated translators turned its color-shifting into text that scrolled across the partition. Many of the pixels were dead, especially for such a short response.

“My what?”

She sighed and crossed one leg over the other, leaning back in the hard plastic seat. They hadn’t briefed the creature on the proceedings. Typical; the most rampant crime around any justice center is bureaucracy.

“Advocate. I’ll be representing you in the criminal proceedings.”

Colors kaleidoscoped across the creature’s hard skin. Harley thought it looked more crustacean than insect, but the exobiologists disagreed.

Block letters appeared again on the partition. “A lawyer?”

“No,” she explained, “you’ll have a lawyer later. As a non-human, you will not be allowed in the courtroom. I’m you advocate. I will be questioned in your place, and my answers will be attributed to you. They could be used to acquit or convict you, so I’ll need you to be honest with me.

“Did you kill this human?”

She held a picture against the partition. Waves of black tribal-looking patterns ran down the creature’s eyestalks.

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