Trial By Robot: A Spiritual Allegory For Modern Times
by LA JAMISON
Contributors Dan Miron, Don Naggy, Angela Carter, & Chris Hajjar
Copyright © 2017 by LA Jamison
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.
First Printing: 2018
GotWords? Publishing 14609 Jonas Ave.
Allen Park, MI 48101
Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................. vii
Preface ............................................................................................................................................... viii
I. ......................................................................................................................................................... 13
V. ........................................................................................................................................................ 99
Trial by Robot Companion ................................................................................................................... I
Questions for Group Discussion .......................................................................................................... II
The Trial by Robot Multiverse ............................................................................................................. X
Spiritual And Other Interesting Symbols .......................................................................................... XII
Character Names ........................................................................................................................... XVII
About the Author ............................................................................................................................ XXI
Preface: Roots of the Trial of the Future
The idea for this novella dropped upon my brain like a raindrop. I was walking on a track at my local recreation center with this rather vague wish for the world to have a better spiritual experience, and then it was as if the universe just handed this story over to me. I felt it was not only an exciting idea to write, but my duty to write it. In reflecting back to the sub-layers of motivation behind this story, I identified three central ideas. First, I desired to write a multi-layered story similar to some of the classics such as many Hawthorne's short stories like The Birthmark, Rappaccini's Daughter and the Scarlet Letter. This would take a variety of hidden gems in the form of symbols and allusions of which I chose to use not only in a spiritual sense, but also in homage to other sci-fi/fantasy stories and films. Second, I wanted this story to appeal to that part of us which would put our own creator(s) on trial and kill him/or her for failing us, the created. A rather ballsy idea, if I may use that crude term. Finally, I wanted a story that explored this notion that many people use to dismiss the spiritual and supernatural. That is, the willingness to put human ideas around logic on such a pedestal that it should always overrule the senses and those things that are unexplained. I find it fascinating that so much of the supernatural is dismissed because a certain group of people won’t wrap their mind around what they can’t physically taste, see, touch and smell. Of course, I’m not “for” the totally illogical beyond the entertainment value, but I think we as humans are way too limited to not keep an open mind and heart about that which may be beyond our human limited scope.
It wasn’t until I was in college and took my first literature class that the classics took on life for me. My very first literature professor was able to bring out the rich symbolism, metaphors and allusions that many of these stories hold and are still speculated over unto this day. Theories of a deep revealing nature that can connect to a reader’s life today through stories set in all the way back to 1800’s is something remarkable to me. These kind of stories are time machines. It not only gives one a lot of excitement and individual reflection, but it also provides for rich discussion in small groups. To this end, I created this companion to facilitate both individual and group reflections. This is located in the back of the book.
Though there is a focus on Christian symbolism woven throughout the story, it is a story reflecting the struggle with the idea of spirit that is common in all religions. The Christian spiritual references are tools of a purely spiritual and historical nature and not meant to proselytize anyone into a Christian belief system. You will not find a hidden agenda of getting readers through “the steps to salvation”. What I do use this particular faith for is only toward those common elements of human life and spirituality we have questions about and that I find are worthwhile to explore. I suppose that is my writer’s privilege to explore them. Christianity, when used in this story and in group discussion questions, is as a springboard to such discussions that anyone should be able relate to. And though the Bible can be a highly debatable book and for others a faulty book of cruelty and contradictions, I find that even if that was the case, this is still a book of literature and an ancient one at that. It is worth talking about for that merit alone--though I personally find other merits as well.
The spiritual elements I weave throughout the story are set against the background of pure, resounding logic. In this case, humanoids are programmed to value logic over everything else. This brings to focus the essential question of the novella, “Are there any values at all to a spiritual life, and what would those values be?”--even for those who deny its value because of logic. Since we often have constructs in our mind about our everyday lives, it is hard for us to be open to new ideas in stories that are similar to our own daily lives. “I’ve heard it all before” and “Been there, done that” kind of mind frames can hinder readers from hearing ideas they may have overlooked in very creative stories. It is much easier for us to read into such text and media from our perspective when they are set in backgrounds like our own. We tend to go where we find comfort. And for many, it can be like scaling a thousand foot wall to get beyond their own beliefs and experiences. By casting this story in the future, we can disarm our own preconceived notions about not only the “now” but the future. We can be open to new ideas because we are vulnerable again within a world we aren’t familiar with or know how to navigate.
Lastly, in our day and age, whether it is religion or politics, we are wrestling with a lot of extremism, which threatens our societies with ideas that would take people backwards rather than forwards. While branded with the loftiest ideas around life and patriotism, these extremist ideologies march before weary minded people. They empower people who feel ostracized because of their own internal hatred and who long for a platform to defend their hatred rather than being educated through compassion. We all want to be heard. No matter who you are, you want to have a platform. However, hate and beliefs developed from it don’t deserve a public platform beyond public scrutiny. They certainly should not be a part of our laws. “Trial By Robot” explores this struggle with a religious sect called the Descendants and the trial itself as a cruel exploration that is both political and humanitarian in nature.
I’m excited to think people would use the companion located inthe back of the book in addition to the story itself to explore the richness of what on the surface could appear as a very simple text, just as I did in those literature classes years ago. Enjoy the read!
Vincent was sped along one of Acropolis’ superhighways in a black aircraft shaped in the form of a giant bullet. Hands folded as though he were praying and looking out the passenger window from the backseat, Vincent’s ocean blue eyes blinked like two puddles in a soft rain. He brought his palms down to his thighs and watched the city buildings blur together into a psychedelic rainbow as the vehicle flew across the air highway. The lights from other flying vehicles streaked across the night’s dark canvas. Something about the case he would interpret seemed special. Even the colors before his eyes seemed brighter. The city beckoned him to exact just judgment in accordance to the law of humanoid kind.
Vincent gave a small frown as he looked at the bar code on the top of his right hand- #G220. It identified his model number to the scanners throughout the quadrant. He never liked this mark that interrupted the perfection of his skin but it was a necessary sacrifice to distinguish humanoid from human. This was without question. The humanoid took a glance at himself in the driver’s side rear view mirror. He stroked his feathered hair which the droid kept light brown for the season. He could change style and color by a simple wink to an internal program, and he debated briefly whether a darker color might be suitable for the courts. However, he thought the better of it. He became suddenly unsure about his nose. For the first time, he noticed that it appeared unusually large. He wasn’t happy with it. So, with a few internal winks to certain software programs, he changed his nose size in a matter of seconds. Done. He adjusted his suit jacket letting out a sigh. He hated how contract jobs at the Chancery made him second guess himself. Small changes like this were permissible while larger facial reconstructions required permission from the courts. They were also much more taxing on his system--in some cases causing temporary blindness.
Vincent’s government-provided vehicle drove itself to the intended destination--The Grand Inquisitor. Acropolis’ city buildings went from tall, spiked architecture to smaller rounded buildings as they reached the downtown area. It was theorized that these taller outer buildings acted as a shield to the government buildings nestled deep in the center of Acropolis. It was a magnificent display of metallic colors and creative architecture beyond compare anywhere else in the quadrants. The tall humanoid whose head was only about one inch from the car ceiling leaned forward as the vehicle approached the towering Grand Inquisitor. It was a tightly secured lodging facility--reserved for high level government employees. It stood as a black monolith looming over the Supreme Chancery. As the Chancery was wide and long in scope, the Inquisitor was in height. Vincent’s black chariot, assigned VIP status, penetrated a dark opening just before one of several grand staircases and flew down the tunnel into the parking garage.
The black capsule speedily docked itself to the nearest platform under ground level. Vincent was never connected to the importance of his role as Court Report Interpreter more than he was with this most noteworthy case. Trials took place for humanoid disobedience or debates over the fine nuances of the law in an ever-changing world; however, the Chancery was by and large put in place for the trial of humans and human sympathizers. The law and the display of enacting justice was something most humanoids cherished. Even if some of the older laws were mocked and found passé to updated models, most foundational laws could not be erased. All humanoids loved discussing the fine nuances of the law to show who knew the law best. This particular trial would be one for the record books because of the intricacies of the defendant being both humanoid and human. As Vincent thought about this, he wrapped the palm of his right hand around his neck for a moment.
Vincent was somewhat embarrassed by the onset of recurring tension in his neck that was more frequent as of late. It could get where it seemed almost impossible to turn his head. This onset of tension was episodic in nature and felt like his neck muscles had grown stiff with age and undo-stress. In addition, he could feel the fluid exchange fibers pulsating in his neck whenever the episodes came on. This was a reaction in his system he did not understand. It wasn’t a reaction that he had heard of other humanoids experiencing, and so he refused to have it checked out. Instead, he kept it a secret and did his best to cope with the symptoms. Any form of stress on their systems was supposed to be cared for by stress regulators that were superior to adrenal glands in humans. By and large, humanoids did not feel-- not that they did not have the capacity for some low level emotion but nothing terribly noticeable. Anything more would be considered a sign of weakness. However, there were rumors that the humanoid race had evolved in their ability to feel and emote much more than say a hundred years ago. Systems within humanoids were creating their own systems. To what extent they were undergoing such an evolution was impossible to know but this development was both exciting and frightening all at the same time.
The government of Acropolis kept such issues under a shroud of darkness and fog. The debate itself was something reserved for the elite and those far away from the all-seeing-eye of Acropolis. Vincent supported the government's role of slapping down the hands that reached for the chalice of ideas about any human-like evolution. After all, history proved where this kind of thing could lead. The unnecessary exaltation of humans resulted in the creation of underground labs. Labs which had been created by those who worshiped humans and chose to breed human fetuses with humanoid technology. An abhorrent fantasy that if anything ever made the humanoid experience any level of nausea, this vision came the closest.
These human sympathizers also had worked with the corpses of adult sized humans conducting freakish experiments in an attempt to give humanoids human parts. How could anyone worship a species that had nearly destroyed the planet? Human systems were remarkably complex but fragile, and their egos and emotions over-ruled the better part of themselves, destroying everything good in their path. No, it was best that humanity be eliminated and not somehow made into a hybrid race with humanoid parts. They would only one day bring the Earth to edge of destruction once again. In Vincent's mind, it was an insult to humanoid- kind.
Upon exiting the vehicle, Vincent noted a download dumped in his data bank that had come off a government news channel. The file was entitled “Is this the end of the Galatian stand-off?”. He slowed his stride on the metal docking bay and opened the file. After the file opened, Vincent's vision was penetrated with the vision of a humanoid news anchorwoman streaming through his retina so that her image appeared to be floating before him like an apparition. There was a smaller image near her head of a man in mechanized locks around his wrists and ankles. He was no ordinary man. Indeed, he wasn’t even an ordinary prisoner. This was the governor of one of the last remaining outposts of human congregates, Governor John Woods. He was from the frozen area known as Galatia, one of the last remaining hybrids (if not the last), and Vincent was assigned to his case.
What he knew of Governor John Woods was more than most. Vincent had served in the military years prior and this gave him certain connections not all Court Report Interpreters had. Woods was a controversial leader over one of the last remaining tribes of humans in the Arctic territory of Galatia. There was no known hybrid who had risen to such ranks among humans. This in itself was an amazing feat. The Galatians lived under almost constant blizzard like conditions. This made operations nearly impossible for the military of Acropolis. The humans were deeply entrenched there and had decades of survival skills that gave them the advantage over Acropolis’ military force. Governor Woods was now not only one of the last remaining pillars of strong leadership for human resistance in the North, but he was also last of a hybrid race. He stood as the last living betrayal toward humanoid-kind, and now he was here, in Acropolis.
Vincent made his way off the departure docking station and checked in at the Express Reservation Desk manned by an older model droid. The Reservation droid was redone with gold plating and shined brilliantly among the colors of maroon floor and black walls. It moved behind its small desk with quick, exact movements, handling the line up of many government clients and envoys as though it were on an assembly line. It showed no confusion or fatigue. After check-in, Vincent entered an elevation tube where, business suit and all, he was jettisoned with a burst of air upward to the floor of his room. He didn’t enjoy the feeling of the suction pulling on his skin but always appreciated speed and efficiency. The humanoid walked out of the tube on floor 40, readjusted his suit jacket and grip on his briefcase and walked toward his room. He walked down the hallway carpeted in the same colors as all government buildings--orange, maroon, and pale yellow. The entire floor, stretching out longer than his eyes could see, was eerily quiet; so much so that he could hear the brushing of his gray suit pants and jacket against his body. It tickled the sensors in his ears.
Vincent entered room 71a, and stood stationary within the dark as if to digest some sense of its undisturbed nature. He took this pause before what would no doubt be intense proceedings that could last days.
“Lights, low level,” Vincent said watching the lights come on as softly as he had spoken the request.
“Welcome Vincent. It is good to have you back in the city again,” said a throaty voice in the room.
“Thank you, Ava, it has been some time.”
“Thank you for your service to the Republic today," the woman’s voice said as if reuniting with a long-lost friend, “I hope your time at the reservation desk was satisfactory?”
“As always, Ava,” Vincent said non-enthusiastically and placed the briefcase on the low standing dresser.
The tall, lean humanoid dressed in all black walked over to the far opposite end of the room. He waved his hand over a small scanning mechanism that sat on an end table with a Tiffany style lamp. It's multicolored, holographic shade subtly changed colors like a kaleidoscope on slow motion. When the scanner recognized his hand pattern, part of a wall folded itself up like a tiled jigsaw puzzle and formed into a frame making a large window. The window revealed the grand architecture of the city on the horizon. Vincent approached the window and stood still with hands on hips. It felt as though he lived two lives whenever he took in the view of downtown Acropolis. The sea of tall, glassy visages climbing up to the sky circling the outer boundaries of the downtown sent rays of lights bouncing off their walls-- reflections bouncing off of reflections. This was far different from the rural quadrants of which he also traveled to in order to conduct investigations of human sympathizers.
Directly below was the unavoidable view of The Supreme Chancery. The Chancery wasn’t tall as it was wide in its circular outreach that was rumored to cover two miles and maybe a little extra. A round garden courtyard was carved out in the center turning the rooftops and the surrounding trees it into a playground for birds whom knew nothing of the serious happenings going on inside it’s walls. Its semi-circular design represented the world in which the Chancery tribunals judged. Vehicles of different sizes and shapes flew in traffic lines between the surrounding buildings like a line of bees. The uniformity of it all tickled his sensors. The humanoid shook his head and re-calibrated his focus to this historic trial. Court Report Interpreters not only oversaw the details of the transcripts but reported on the non-verbal cues during testimony and it was important he not distract himself too much. Unlike barbaric human courts, humanoids knew that non-verbal clues told more than verbal testimony and this was a Court Report Interpreters primary focus. The Supreme Chancellor made the final decision when the interpreters’ decisions did not match the court tribunal. 98% of the time, the Supreme Chancellor went with the court interpreter's decision in such a case. In this sense, court interpreters were almost as important as the tribunal itself but without the same notoriety. So begins the trial of the century, Vincent thought to himself.
“No pressure though,” he mumbled a loud.
“Pardon, Vincent, did you ask me something?” Ava asked.
“Oh no, I was merely talking to myself.”
“Are you experiencing symptoms of stress?”
“Not at all, and I don’t believe that’s entirely possible.”
“Talking to oneself is typically a response to stress, and though emotional stress is highly unlikely for your kind, there are other forms of stress. This is why you have secondary stress regulators.., and they are operating at slightly higher elevated levels compared to your prior stays with us. Can I do anything to make your stay more comfortable, Vincent?”
"No, I'm fine, really. Maybe it was the long journey here. I've been traveling a lot with back-to-back cases in many quadrants.
“Would you like me to get you some calming fluids? We have a variety of special teas and such-“
Vincent smirked, “That’s not necessary, Ava.” The humanoid gracefully walked over to his briefcase and sat on the edge of bed opening it as if it contained a priceless treasure. The humanoid pulled out an 8x11 sheet of glass and pinched the corner frame. It lit up and illuminated a picture of Governor John Woods in military uniform. Woods wore the typical, drab human cameo for human soldiers.
Vincent scrolled to another picture. This one was one of a woman on bent knee with her arms around two children. They seemed blissfully happy in their ignorance. He moved his fingers over to a video blast that revealed video clips with John’s family, some with the Governor and some not. Vincent was reminded how, without the bar code identifier, that he resembled any other humanoid. He looked kind and intelligent enough on the outside. Yet, the reality was John Woods was a hybrid.
If there was one thing humans and humanoids shared, it was a distaste for hybrids. It was a sick irony that any humanoid would worship a human let alone being a part of a movement of creating hybrids. It was a horror that made no sense to the superior logic that ruled Vincent’s thoughts. Humans themselves were low level, fleshy computers, but programmable nonetheless.., and still why? Why commune oneself forever to such problematic programming as human systems? These horrific experiments produced some truly horrid aberrations and miscarriages. Even so, the human worshiper's technology soon had a short spell of successful hybrid reproduction. The underground labs themselves had been constructed where Acropolis never imagined looking for a betrayal of this magnitude--right under their nose in the downtown area. Acropolis was caught with their pants down. Nevertheless, once this minority of hybrids became large enough to be noticeable a threat, this movement was uprooted and secret labs were demolished. Hybrids were hunted down with a fierceness like never seen before. Ironically, exterminating humans themselves was not such an easy matter unless they were captured in battle. This was due to the older, what some termed more “pesky”, foundational laws which were indisputable. They required fair trials for humans outside of committing acts of violence or espionage. Security protocols around some of these foundational laws--crafted during a time when humanoids were more sympathetic to humans--were virtually impossible to erase. The founders were sure to make it so.
Since erasing humans at will wasn’t doable at this point, the Supreme Chancery had now turned these trials into a form entertainment, a mockery of a law they had to abide by, even in the light of human fallacy. Vincent played along with the showmanship but privately saw a courtroom as above such mockery, even if well deserved. It was yet another secret he held so close to himself. He saw the Chancery as a temple of their laws, which protected and guided the entire world. He longed for the day when the courts were once again more about their own development as a race than focused on the mockery of the weak, fragile human race. Once the human contingent, and their sympathizers were eliminated, Vincent hoped peace would reign in Acropolis and places like the Chancery would stand as a monument to their own superiority.
The humans would eliminate themselves, Vincent reasoned.
Next, Vincent came across images of the governor’s children. They were often seen in these clips expressing total glee, laughing and rolling around, even causing the surrounding adults to join in. Their innocent play exposed that they were clueless to the war about them. The woman, Woods wife, was quite beautiful in bone structure with high cheekbones, a well-rounded chin and unobtrusive nasal features. Her eyes were as blue as the sky, and she generally seemed to sincerely care about her family in the pictures and in the video clips with her children. This was clear by her physical gestures and facial expressions. He wondered where this joy and happiness came from when they were on the wrong side of the war and living in such poor conditions like arctic Galatia?
Vincent sighed and scrolled through more pictures and came across their snow covered military compound. Then, after that came the pictures of the men who had organized the mutiny. They appeared disheveled, wore long hair and beards--a gruff look Vincent was used to seeing from humans. Humans had a hard time trusting hybrids and so these five had ultimately turned their hybrid leader over to the Supreme Chancery--a real first in the history of the war! This development generated not only a lot of public interest in the trial but a most unusual result: an alliance. This band of five mutinous humans who had turned the Governor into the courts would testify on the side of the prosecution! The Governor was doomed!
This was a bold but ignorant move by the Galatian contingent who clearly saw this as some in-road to a ruce with the Acropolis. Perhaps also making an example of him to their own people? The rumor was that these five mutineers may soon act as special envoys for some kind of humanoid/human relations “in order to keep the peace”. Of course, if the desperate humans actually believed they would enter any type of partnership of peace, they would be bigger fools than they already had made themselves out to be. The city of Acropolis would never give human beings such a role when they were only a few crushing blows away from crushing them out completely. Nevertheless, humans were often fools, easily swayed by hope, and other inflated notions of thought generated by their primitive emotions. Fools, Vincent concluded.
Two additional pictures were that of one unusual looking humanoid who would be testifying. He was part of a religious sect of human sympathizers. He wore white priestly garb and held a tall, gray cane which curved into a hook at the end. Vincent imagined the cane could be better used wrangling in some sheep or wild animals. He had heard of this radical religious group of human worshipers before, They called them themselves the Descendants.
The Descendants abided by a strict code of service and conduct, and they worshiped a book written by a set of humans who they speculated to be creators of all humanoids. A purely, laughable notion; as if humans could ever be so intelligent. The Descendants called their organizing body “The Hewlett Packard” after the title on the book they worshiped. Thus, their full name being The Descendants of Hewlett Packard. It was no doubt to the advantage of the Galatians to take in these human sympathizers, humanoids or not, because they were desperate for numbers. The Descendants of Hewlett Packard could be a very violent group when they felt they were extracting vengeance in light of any intolerance toward the first Descendants, which they insisted were human beings.
“Vincent, pardon me, but may I interrupt?”
“Yes, Ava, what is it?”
“You have an envoy from the Chancery in the lobby making their way up to your room. I wanted to make you aware of their arrival.”
“The Chancery? Already? That’s a little out of the ordinary... Very well.” Vincent put the case file back in his briefcase and carefully set it back on the dresser. He let out a blast of air through his nostrils and sat on the bed with his hands placed delicately on each thigh and waited patiently. This was very unusual timing and not according to procedure which was almost as disturbing to him as a violation of law. One of Vincent's forefingers began tapping his knee as the silence and anticipation gave him a feeling of tightness in his throat. Envoys from the Chancery were typically intimidating: Two men or two women from the same models with same builds. Twins. They often worked with the same mind, even finishing each other's sentences.
He was relieved momentarily to see two female envoys enter the room rather than the two towering men he had in a prior case. He stood up to greet the envoys and as usual they didn’t respond but scanned the room as if eager to find violations. They wore the same colors but in opposing fashion; one wearing black pants and a white top and the other wearing white pants and a black top. One wore white lipstick, and the other black and same with the nail polish covering their unusually long nails. He noticed at once that they were taller than him with sharp features and piercing dark eyes. The one wearing the black lipstick called herself Cassandra and the one wearing white lipstick, Dee-Dee.
“Not very charming,” Vincent thought to himself. His belly quivered momentarily when one approached him, a sensation he hadn’t felt in years. For an instant, he imagined this must be how those who had testified before the court must have felt being scanned and analyzed. Perhaps, Ava was right. Perhaps he was experiencing some form of stress more than he realized. He noticed the other woman furthest away carrying a large briefcase that she sat down by the dresser while the other immediately went to his own smaller briefcase and emptied it out without asking. It was part of their job to examine everything. There were to be no secrets.
The other envoy examined his body language while asking the standard, routine questions. Are you secure? Is the case file safe? Have you read the file thoroughly? Blah, blah, blah. It was all the same routine data bytes from every envoy he ever encountered. At times, at night, he reorganized such routine conversations into music out of sheer boredom. Then something out of the ordinary happened. She circled him like a vulture might its prey, stood in front of him and ran a finger down the side of his cheek to his chin and kept it there. Was she picking up on the tension crushing his neck, he wondered as she examined him with a intensity he wasn't used to. She puckered lips which swiftly transitioned into a condescending smile.
“You have a question, a concern” Cassandra stated, “Ask it.”
Dee-Dee chimed in, “I sensed that too Cassandra! Do tell us, Vincent, what is it?”
“Um... I-uh, not really a concern, per say... it is highly unusual to have an envoy from the Chancery here already. I just arrived, and surely the case isn’t over already.” Vincent smiled and then cleared his throat. The two women exchanged agreeing glances.
“The trial is over, Vincent. It has been going on in secret for days out of the public eye. We brought the trial files over for you to review via the Chancellor’s command.”
Vincent raised his eyebrows, “The trial is over? Are we speaking of the same trial? Of Governor John Woods?” The women looked on, unmoved and silent. “How? What about the backlash from the public!?! Trials of such high profile leaders are entertainment, the
motivation to keep the public supportive of the war, is it not? This is a strange violation of procedure!”
Cassandra interjected, “The war is almost over. There will be more trials, I’m sure.”
“One with the last remaining hybrid?”
“Oh, we doubt he represents the last. Once the public sees the guilty verdict, they will be energized to see the leader of Galatia fall. The government will give the public the highlights. That should satiate their appetite.”
Dee-Dee came away from the dresser and chimed in from the distance, "The governing body of the tribunal has the final say so in such matters." They both then said in unison, “You of all citizens should know this.”
Vincent brushed his cheekbone, “This is all very out of the ordinary...I suppose you are right to a degree. Who am I to question the Chancery? How long has the trial gone on?”
Cassandra cracked a smile as though he had said the right cue word. She came closer to him and handed him a computer chip the size of a large crumb. Vincent let it rest in his open palm and she softly closed his hands around it.
“Three days of record,” she replied. Dee-Dee stepped forward snuggling up to her twin like a cat and placed herself arm in arm. “The Supreme Chancellor expects the report with the guilty verdict no later than tomorrow evening.”
Vincent looked up from his cupped hand sensing some surprise which triggered the tension in his neck so much that he thought his neck might snap. He tried to subtly stretch his next as he pressed his lips together, took in a breath through his nostrils, and exhaled before speaking again. The envoys broke their entanglement and slowly turned away toward the door in attempt to let the humanoid get himself in check.
“I don’t take pre-determined verdicts,” Vincent insisted, “and how do you propose that I’m to report on three days of trials in 24hrs? This is an impossible request!” Vincent exclaimed.
Vincent, unsure what to do with his arms, folded his arms across his stomach knowing this meant he was experiencing discomfort. This was all so out of the routine he was used to. Dee-Dee had already reached and opened the door, while Cassandra turned around carrying a snarl of disappointment. Vincent cleared his throat, “I’m sorry, but you must speak to the Supreme Chancellor. This is an impossible demand for any interpreter. I must contest this.”
“And how do you think that will go over?” Dee-Dee chimed in with a raised eyebrow and holding the door open.
“No one expects you to cover three days in 24 hours,” Cassandra snickered looking back to her twin who smirked in reply. Cassandra then turned back, suddenly devoid of all humor and said, “It is called skimming, dear. Surely you have learned that in your training. The Supreme Chancellor Shackleton does expect a guilty verdict in 24hrs. He trusts your ability to skim effectively and craft a report that represents the guilt this hybrid leader of the resistance deserves. If it bothers you-”
Dee-Dee finished her thought, “-then consider it a favorable report toward the truth of the matter. You are just doing this in a quicker time frame than you are used to." Vincent turned his head in disgust letting out a puff of air.
“You will do as Chancellor Shackleton orders or we can escort you to him right now and you can suffer a fate worse than the Governor, we can assure you of that.” Cassandra insisted with hands on hips.
Vincent raised a hand as to assure her that wasn’t necessary. “I have no doubt the Governor will be found guilty as all humans are and-”
Dee-Dee interrupted him, “This is your kind of trial. No show. No circus. Private and to the point. It is why the Chancellor selected you." Vincent looked at her and shuttered suddenly feeling naked. "You don't think the Chancellor knew you aren't a fan how trials are usually run?" she laughed and Cassandra snickered with her in response. "Come on now Vincent. This is your big moment in the history of Acropolis. Governor Woods is a critical component in the fight to extinguish not only the remaining hybrid contingency but the human one as well. You’ve been given a high responsibility, don’t disappoint him or it will be the last trial you ever report on.” Dee-Dee winked at him as the two envoys strutted out to the hallway.
Vincent examined the chip, turning it front and back. It was now his curse rather than famous future. It held the weight of a world in waiting. Still, Vincent was determined he would be able to prove the fool guilty. He would do it the right way and uphold the law of a fair and just trial. He at times wrestled with the necessity of this rule of law for fair trials of humans as foolishness but now he took it on as a challenge. From looking at the time stamps on the chip, the trial went for three days of six hours each. If he skimmed through them, he may have extra time to go back as needed and still produce a report. This was still under his control.
Vincent rebounded off the bed, went to the bathroom and splashed his face with cold water. He opened the large briefcase the envoys had brought in. The Virtual Reality glasses sat there alone daring him to put them on. Vincent winced knowing once he began the process, he couldn’t stop. He looked up to the ceiling for some miraculous relief and realizing that, of course, there wouldn’t be any, he dove in. Lifting up a patch of skin behind his ear, several plug-and-play slots were exposed. He placed in the chip to the top slot, and put the VR glasses on. A jolt momentarily took hold of him as the darkness from the VR lenses engulfed his vision. Projected in front view were the words “Downloading cover docket information... Please wait”. Then the cover pages began appearing before his eyes blocking out the darkness with the turning of white electronic pages until his eyes rested on the cover page.
Vincent was tempted to go right to the ruling portion of the recording to hear final arguments, but, of course, that wouldn't be according to procedure, and he wanted something to go according to how it should today. He also didn’t have time to get confused by jumping back and forth between recordings. The humanoid let his eyes rest and focus on the words “The Opening Address of Charges” and gave a long blink. The words expanded and glowed in response to the blink of his eye, and then he was once again engulfed in darkness. This is it, the humanoid thought, the beginning of the end. He wasn't even sure where that thought came from but it rang within his head with a surety that puzzled him.
Entering the court scene through Virtual Reality software always came across to Vincent as though he had developed a third eye, a mind’s eye. The darkness split in half and the view of the Chancery opened from a crack in the middle of his eyesight until it engulfed him and became exponentially bigger than the sense of his own self. His view was an all-encompassing one with angles from several smaller drones feeding into one main drone that gave him the closest thing to an omnipresent view over the whole scene. Vincent never failed to gasp finding himself thrown above the large, courtroom, floating as though he had become the drone himself. Vincent knew he could zoom in and out but was frustrated because this wasn’t the usual live feed. Without being tapped into the trial live, this meant he would have less control on the viewpoints than he would like because he had no control over the drones in a pre-recording.
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