I had no idea what was going to happen, but I figured if they are giving me a trial, then at least they would let me defend myself and then maybe I could convince them that nothing had actually happened. I was really stupid to think that.
Aunt Rose was being fussy about what I wore, she picked out a light gray suit, like something she would wear at work. She slicked back all my hair and made it stay in place with some smelly kind of jelly. She said it made me look decent and innocent. I thought it made me look like a forty year old government employee. But I wasn’t in much of a position to protest about anything now. Somewhere in the back of my head I kept hearing Marjani telling me about Desolation and the serious ‘miscreants’ who had been sent there. I tried to keep myself calm, nobody had found any proof of there actually being a meeting place. It wasn’t my fault the guards were following me around and got the wrong idea that I was leading the rest of the kids to disobey the rules. And besides Aunt Rose worked for the regime, and she had a lot of clout. She was in a high and respectable position and she would never let anything happen to me. She was my aunt, she had sent for me when my mother had died because she cared for me. No, nothing was going to happen, Aunt Rose would take care of it. She seemed pretty confident today, not panicking or anything. I didn’t have anything to worry about.
I think she had taken some special pains for breakfast, there were so many things and they all smelled wonderful, but I was just too jumpy to eat much.
“I thought you’d be really hungry. You didn’t have any dinner last night and we have a pretty long day ahead of us. Try to eat just a little more.” Aunt Rose tried to convince me. So I ate some more, I didn’t want to offend her. Uncle Merariy seemed pretty nervous and kept offering me things, tea, buttered toast, eggs. Why was he acting so anxious?
“I should come with you two, Rose.” I am not sure whether he was asking or making a statement.
“Don’t be ridiculous, we will be fine. You go to work and I’ll see you in the evening.” Aunt Rose said cheerfully and I felt a little more relaxed by her calm demeanor. We finished up breakfast and left for Court.
The drive seemed too long. And it seemed too short. I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible but I didn’t want to mess up what I had to say. I kept going over things in my head, should I be polite and calm insisting it was all a mistake? They would want to know what the hell I was doing in school after curfew. Should I start crying and beg for mercy? That would be saying I was guilty.When we finally did reach the Court I felt like I was watching someone else.
The Court was a huge building. Dark, smooth, curved walls reflected the hot sun and sent out blinding flashes in all directions. On the inside the building was cool, almost chilly and I felt a shiver run through me. Our footsteps echoed and there weren’t many people in the main hall. The entrance had huge arched windows letting in the bright sunlight. But as we went in further the lights dimmed. The few people who were there stared at me oddly. I started to feel edgy again. And I felt a little lonely, as we got closer to the court room that had been assigned for my case, the halls became totally empty and the only thing I could hear were our loud footsteps. Aunt Rose stopped at the door and turned to look at me. I couldn’t read her expression and the confidence I had in her suddenly started to wane. She looked at me for a few seconds with pursed lips.
“Try to tell the truth, and tell them anything they want to know, we could beg for a mercy bargain if you tell them what they want.” Aunt Rose said a little coldly. Alarm bells went off in my head. What was a mercy bargain? I hadn’t done anything wrong! They couldn’t prove anything against me. Why was there no sympathy in her eyes, she had turned into someone else, someone I didn’t know. Or is this who she really was?
“I haven’t done anything wrong…” I started and caught her arm before she opened the huge doors that would lead me into something terrifying.
“You have committed treason, what did you think would happen when you broke the laws of the State? That they would give you a slap on the wrist and tell you not to do it again? I warned you so many times, you must obey the rules!” She looked at me and her eyes were blue voids. She shook off my hand and turned to go in, I followed her dumbly and I am met with another surprise. The whole region of Kiana was there, from oldest to youngest. I could see the anticipation from their faces, they had come to be entertained. Suddenly the hope that I had been kindling in my heart, that nothing could go wrong, was replaced by waves of panic. They had all come to watch me beg for mercy. As I met the eyes of some, I realized they were hoping I wouldn’t get it. My throat felt dry and I didn’t think I would be able to say anything sensible at all. Everyone was staring, I felt my cheeks get hot, my palms became wet and my heart started beating wildly. Aunt Rose turned back to me to urge me forward, but my feet wouldn’t cooperate. On both sides of the huge hall were rows of seats full of spectators, in the front rows were all the students of Blumenbach College. They all turned back to watch me walk up and take my place in front of the Board of Adjudicators. Countless blank eyes stared at me, they had neither sympathy nor hate but were well practiced in their impassiveness. I looked away from them, I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone for fear that they might come under suspicion.
I forced my heavy feet to move faster and I finally reached the spot where I thought I was supposed to stand. Two guards came to stand on either side of me, they didn’t glance at me even once. They were big intimidating statues, and I wondered what these people thought I was capable of. Did they think I would try to fight my way out? The Board of Adjudicators was walking in from behind the Dais, their names were being announced as they went to their seats by a short Scapolite man with a high voice.
“His Benevolence, Adjudicator Raiden, Her Benevolence Adjudicator Jaswinder, Her Benevolence Adjudicator Corentin, and His Benevolence Adjudicator Adalstan.” Then he walked away after glancing at me distastefully.
The Adjudicators stared down at me from their high tables arrogantly, they had already judged me and this was just an entertaining drama for the public. Or a warning. I couldn’t believe this was happening and my mind was not registering things the way it should have. I knew that they had planned some horrifying punishment and while I felt very alarmed I also felt incredibly numb. It must have been the shock. I didn’t think I would end up here. I couldn’t have imagined just how much injustice there really was in Arya.
“Mayameen Atamaita,” Adalstan, the Obsidian Adjudicator addressed me indifferently. I wasn’t sure I was supposed to say anything. Overpowering silence followed. He stared at me expectantly.
“Y-yes?” My voice was struggling to get out of my constricted throat. I was the focus of countless eyes and ears, any valor I had left deserted me. I attempted to stand straight and wiped every expression from my face, no matter what happened I couldn’t let them see me breakdown. I just hoped my voice would cooperate a little more.
This time the Goshenite, Cornetin, spoke. Her voice was as expressionless as the Obsidian. She was old and looked like she was made entirely out of grey marble. From her stiff grey robes, to her stiff grey hands and face. It was the same with all of them. Black marble, russet and beige. They were unbreakable marble statues, and I sensed their hearts were just as cool as their demeanor.
“You have been charged with disobedience, and are under suspicion of intending to incite an insurgence by polluting the susceptible young minds of fellow students with your …Rassenschande Idealogy.” A murmur travelled through the room as she condemned me with the worst crime they had created. “How do you plead?”
“Not guilty.” The indignity of their accusations brought life back into my voice. “I did no such thing.” I looked at each one of them in turn but tried to keep the anger out of my eyes.
“Prove yourself, bring forth your evidence that you are innocent.” The russet marble woman, Jaswinder, spoke contemptuously. She glared hatefully at me. We were almost the same color, but I was tainted.
“Bring forth your evidence that I am guilty.” My voice had a will of its own and answered back calmly. There was no hushed murmur in the room this time, but a myriad of voices in different tones and volumes. I could hear everything from awe to disgust.
My Granite Jury didn’t look too pleased; I didn’t really expect they would. They were silent for a few seconds. Shocked at my insolence or trying to intimidate me by prolonging their responses. Their faces gave me no clues, until I saw a gleam in Corentin’s eyes as she called for their witness.
“Burk Eberhart. Come forward to give your substantiation against the accused.” Corentin’s voice calmly commanded the guard who had arrested me to come forward. He came out of the entrance from behind the Adjudicator’s dais. This surprised me, because I didn’t think he would be allowed to wait in the Offices of the Adjudicators. Unless of course they were preparing him for what he was supposed to say.
He was wearing a well preened uniform and had a well preened smirk on his face as he met my eyes. He walked up to the same distance I stood and turned to face the Dais. He bowed, I hadn’t. He addressed them; ‘Your Benevolences’, I hadn’t. I felt like kicking myself, and I bet Aunt Rose did too. Not that I cared what she felt at that moment.
“Your Benevolences, I apprehended the Perpetrator, Mayameen Atamaita, at the venue where she had planned to carry out the corruption of the innocent young minds of Kiana Aryans. It was the luck of Purity that we had on our side, otherwise we may never have been able to incarcerate the accused. She has proven herself to be extremely cunning and well trained your Benevolences.” Burk finished off dramatically his voice conveying astonishment. I stared at him unbelievingly. I tried to defend myself.
“Your Benevolences, just because I was at a place does not mean that I was there to commit some crime….” I started.
“It is nice to hear you have remembered who you are addressing,” Jaswinder started, “at what time was it that you were apprehended?” An amused smile touched her lips and a flame burned in her eyes. I was doomed no matter what I answered.
“It was ,” I swallowed and tried to keep any feeling out of my voice, “just past ten o clock.” I had barely finished my sentence before she triumphantly broke in with another question.
“And is that not past the curfew time? Breaking the curfew is a crime itself, but enticing others to do so..” This time I cut her off.
“There were no others your …Benevolence.”I stated. This time Adalstan spoke.
“Yes it appears that the Protectors were successful in making sure no real damage was done, their presence must have been observed and the other miscreants were able to save themselves.”
“And it is necessary that these treasonous perpetrators be brought to justice, an example for all to see how evil will be dealt with in the Land of the Pure.” Corentin added. My mind was swirling, no one else had been caught. I had to get them to believe there was no one else. I just hoped that whoever reported the idea of all the kids meeting didn’t have any idea of which kids were involved. I could almost feel the panicky beating hearts of the students sitting in the front rows behind me. That is why they had been seated there, so their reactions could be observed, my eyes strayed to the cameras fixed in the corners of the ceiling. They were slowly moving back and forth, cold one eyed cobras watching and waiting to strike their prey.
“Your Benevolences, I broke curfew. I beg your mercy, that was the only crime. I was the only one there, I left my house and I just started walking. I have been disturbed as I am finding adjustment to my new home complicated and no one is willing to befriend me. It appears that it is against the law to be associated with …an Impure. I would not want to incite anyone to do wrong, I just want to be accepted into the society, not pay for my parent’s crimes.” I looked down as I said this, so that they couldn’t see what I felt when I was forced to say my parents committed a crime. “How could I incite anyone, your Benevolence when no one wants to even talk to me? They would never come to a place I had called them.”
They were no longer looking at me but at Burk, he had been told what to counter with.
“Your Benevolences, excuse my audacity to speak without your command. The perpetrator had indeed invited others and we have obtained evidences of the meeting that was to take place, several documents referring to the practices of the age of barbarism. On being apprehended she herself admitted to her guilt and pleaded we release her without report to the State. She made the promise to give us the names of the others, in return for the chance to defend herself in the Court.” Burk lied in his same appalled tone. I swung around to look at him and the guards standing on either side of me, grabbed my arms as if I was going to attack him. They twisted my arms back and I let out a gasp of pain, but they held on.
“There will be no disobedience here!” Adalstan said loudly over the hum of the agitated audience. “Mayameen Atamaita, you will disclose the identities of your fellow perpetrators, you face charges of treason. These crimes will not be tolerated at any expense! We have worked too long and too hard to rid our world of the chaos that our unenlightened forefathers had brought upon themselves.” He glared at me.
“There aren’t any, I told you,” I was having a hard time getting the words out with my arms being twisted painfully behind my back. Finally Raiden spoke. I thought he was not going to say anything throughout the whole case, he had seemed that disinterested.
“Release the perpetrator; she has realized any aggression is pointless.” I felt the blood rush back into my arms, but my shoulder joints were killing me.
“Mayameen Atamaita,” Raiden’s voice was devoid of either hate or partiality, “the punishment for treason is very serious, and although loyalty is an admirable quality,” the other three were silent, but I could see their eyes screaming their disagreement to Raiden’s non- hostile tone, “this is not a case where such loyalties would prove worthy.”
Breaths were being held behind me, I hoped that their faces didn’t betray them, because I wasn’t going to. Raiden paused a second, looking at me meaningfully. Then he continued.
“If you cooperate for the welfare of the State, the Jury may be more merciful towards you.”
“Give us the names of the absconders.” Adalstan was a little calmer now, as if trying to convince me to confide to him. But I couldn’t, I didn’t believe for a second they would show me any mercy. I wouldn’t betray the others.
My voice was beginning to tremble as the reality of what might happen to me set in.
“I already told you, there was no meeting, nothing. I just wanted some freedom and…” I was cut short by an angry hiss,
“Enough! Enough of this profane talk! How dare you infer that you have no freedom! It is exactly this behavior that will poison the youth of Arya and bring on Chaos. We need to set an example for all who have had the seeds of evil planted into their minds. Mayameen Atamaita you are found guilty in front of all these witnesses, of High Treason. Punishable only by solitary confinement in Desolation.” Corentin concluded with satisfaction, her voice echoing in the absolute silence. “You will be retained in our custody until your transportation has been arranged. Remove her from the court.” I stared disbelievingly at three pleased stone faces and one unreadable one , as whispers teased me from behind. That was it, there was no one to speak in my defense. I had been judged. I had no hope, but then I couldn’t go quietly, this is the last chance I would have.
“You have no evidence,” I started screaming. “This was not a trial, it was a joke. There were no others and I admitted no such thing, Burk and the other guards are lying! This is a crime! You think all can be well in a state where the innocent are found guilty and false evidences are given? How do you think it will be before another wants freedom? Yes freedom,” I struggled with the guards as they twisted my arms and tried to drag me out much to the pleasure of many onlookers who had been anticipating some sort of amusement. I fell to the ground and resisted their pulling me up as Corentin demanded order. As I looked back and saw the students of Blumenbach College, their mouths open with shock, the only thing that mattered to me at that moment was the look of disgust on Hitoshi’s face as he watched me struggle on the ground. He turned away with loathing and I felt so hurt. Didn’t he realize I had just saved all of their lives? But I kept screaming, hoping my voice would be heard and remembered. “How long do you think your system will prevail? Already your so-called pure gene pools are weakening! You can’t force everyone into submission forever,” I got a powerful slap and started to feel the room spin, but I had to keep conscious.
“Tomorrow someone else will demand their freedom, freedom to love who they want and believe what they want, and..” Something hit me hard, after that I don’t remember what happened to me. The last thing I saw was the rage in Corentin’s eyes.
(All pictures are from Google Images)