I know that, to every appearance, I killed Michelle Andrews in cold blood. My fingerprints are on her purse, my dandruff on her dress. Forty people witnessed me whispering to her in the middle of a crowded restaurant not fifteen minutes before she dropped dead of a heart attack. She was registered as a Passive-2, vulnerable to any assault from someone above an Active-3, which I surpass easily. My dinner companions described my mood later to you as "brooding, nervous and cold". The police found me with blood dripping from both ears in the men's room of the restaurant, vomiting up my chicken cordon bleu and the better part of the lining of my small intestine. None of these statements are lies, nor are they the complete truth. Jurors, Monitors, Judge Sallenger, let this be, in my own words, my chance to defend myself.

Before I can discuss the killing of Michelle Andrews, I must first mention the person of Lyle Ashley Lyonson. I never met this individual face to face, and for this fact, I must say I am horribly glad. Lyonson was a killer of rare breeding, not only Active, of some rating I can't say I even begin to know, but a man of selective tastes. His victims were Active females, typically going through puberty, the newer to their power the better. He preferred to hunt his game before it could run away or fight back.

Lyonson was the cohort of a man named Trevor Thomas, a powerful if uninspired P-4 whose primary amusement seemed to be the vicarious enjoyment of the suffering of others, and Lyonson kept him well supplied in exchange for various services including getaway driver, sexual partner and confidant. Trevor Thomas was sentenced to twenty years in prison six and a half years ago, but I will now contend that the man actually sent to prison was Lyonson, at least briefly.

I know, everyone, that my tale sounds tangled and confused. I promise you that, by the end, all will become explained. The Monitor has not yet detected instability, nor deception, have you? Granting, of course, that were I rated high enough, I could simply change your opinions on the matter, but I digress. May I continue?

The true start to this twisted road is seven years prior, when my youngest sister Hazel died. She was twelve at the time, a late bloomer. I must apologize now to the members of the jury and the audience who are not at least P-1; this I trust will either be explained or has already been covered in some part in preparation for this trial. Hazel's death rattle was more than enough to disturb the better part of the household, driving my mother into a maze in her own mind from which I doubt she will ever emerge, and leaving burned in my mind both a distinctive aura of mocking glee and the image of a man's face.

My sister's death was labelled a homicide, and images gleaned from my mother's mind, matched to the description I gave to the police during the investigation, pointed the finger at Lyonson. Prior to my sister, he had chosen his victims with more caution, or else Lyonson had been lucky, selecting targets in families comprised mostly of P-0s, unable to send or receive any sort of mental link. His poor luck, perhaps.

Lyle Ashley Lyonson was recorded dead six months later, shot in the head by his once partner-in-crime, Trevor Thomas, likely for the reward money. This fact I cannot dispute. His body was cremated, the ashes scattered as per his will, for whatever the last words of a dead killer are worth. Does anyone else find it strange that Lyonson, a highly-rated Active, could not prevent his own death at the hands of a mid-ranked Passive? Lyonson was presumed asleep at the time of the shooting, but his body posture was rigid, his fingers gripped tightly to the arm of the couch in which he'd been "sleeping". However ludicrous it may sound, from the coroner's report, and what little I've been able to determine myself that Lyle Lyonson was, at the time of his own recorded death, fully aware of Thomas's actions and a willing participant in them.

For his part in Lyonson's crimes, Thomas was sent to the Masterson Institute of North Dakota to serve out his sentence. Masterson is, of course, a high-security prison with an impeccable track record, and Thomas is reportedly still there today. However, one of the people not still there is Michael Brewer, a nineteen-year-old P-3, arrested for assault and armed robbery. He was eight years into a ten-year prison sentence when Thomas would have arrived, and as both participants of violent crimes they would have been in the same wing of the Institute. Brewer's performance within the institute, questionable for most of his stay, improved remarkably as the last year of his sentence approached, and he was considered reformed by his release date, while Thomas slipped into docility, following orders but showing little initiative.

Michael Brewer was not a rich man, and his family had not taken kindly to his ranking and disowned him, a fact that likely led to his arrest in some roundabout fashion. Hoewver, he was not without friends when he left. A support group for low-ranked Passives had formed at Arcadia Univeristy not two years ago, and eighteen-year-old Michelle Andrewsand now we begin to close the circlewas in her freshman year at Arcadia, one grade below mine. Several people at the college found Brewer, working on the campus maintenence staff, and Andrews talking together often, and Andrews' diaries describe Brewer as "charming, kind of cute and incredibly understanding".

Lyonson was, probably at first, an Active well surpassing not only my own unnatural abilities but those of the scale itself. However, recently transferring into a new host had taxed his reserves. For those of you who have not followed this tale, let me now spell it out in full: I contend that Lyonson survived his own death in the mind of Trevor Thomas, later projecting himself into first Brewer and then Andrews, looking for a safe mind unconnected to his former life in which he could recover his strength and again continue his hobby of ripping the budding minds of young Actives from their skulls as they first took notice of the minds around them. I knew Andrews from the social club at Arcadia University, and that night at the restaurant she had about her the same aura I remembered from seven years ago. I pushed into her mind while she was in the bathroom, and I saw Lyonson's eyes smirking back at himself in the women's room. It was at that point that I went to the restrooms, grabbed her shoulder as she exited, forced myself as deeply into her mind as I could and proceeded to scatter every neural pathway I could find before staggering into the men's room and collapsing in a stall, leaving her corpse in front of the door.

The Monitor has not stopped me, and so at the very least I must believe what I've told you, even if it isn't true. Did I kill Andrews? If you mean did I stop her life-process, then yes. If you mean was it Andrews in control of the body I killed, then no, the person whose life I ended died seven years ago.

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