Part Three: The Trial, Chapter 10
Jeremiah sat in a chair, feet stretched out in front of him, laying back in the chair. Orlacc sat across from him, slumped over. There was only a couple of days left until Jeremiah would go to trial for the murder of Senator Alkis. Although Jeremiah had recovered his strength from his ordeal, his sight had still not returned. He didn’t have time to worry about it at the moment because the fate of being put in prison for the rest of his life was a much worse prospect.
“Who could’ve known?” asked Orlacc. “I mean, I thought that Admiral Araignea said that there were no men left free.”
“I don’t know. If someone found the body--”
“But how could they have known it was you?”
Princess Ania walked in the room. “Peter? Jeremiah? We have company. Mr. Araignea has returned with two of his men. They have heard about your plight, and wish to give their help.”
As she turned, three men entered, nodding respectfully to the princess. They had met her earlier after the fight was over and were pleased to be in her presence again.
Admiral Araignea was the first to approach them. He was tall and very handsome. His family had left Earth when the missions began to go further into other systems, but he was proud of their early African heritage which he felt was a great attribute to his gallantly wise methods of confrontation with the enemy. His former generations had dealt with the prejudice against their race, and, although the colour of one’s skin was not issued anymore, the generations of the Africans were still brave to stand up for what they believed in. That was why, when he was called for battle, Araignea didn’t have to think twice. And now, when Mr. Handell needed help, the admiral would do anything in his power to help keep him free.
“Captain,” he said. “I don’t know how this has happened. What will you do?”
Princess Ania sat down and motioned for the three men to do so as well.
The Admiral continued. “You shall have us behind you. I’m sure they have no evidence against you.”
“I don’t know, fellows,” he said. The other men were surprised at his apparent lack of respect for the princess, as they were trying to be regally formal in her presence. Jeremiah felt that the princess would not mind at his informal attitude, because he first knew her as Shanda, and therefore, never changed his ways. Orlacc, too, although more set in the old ways of chivalry, had not put on a front that was not in his character for the princess.
“How did you check and see if you had all Alkis’s men?” Orlacc asked Araignea.
“Well, I thought the bombs would do it,” the admiral said.
“They’re going to be tough,” Drate said. “You’ll have to be just as strong.”
“He will,” Ania said. Everyone turned toward her. She stood up and paced the room. “Jeremiah knows what to do, and we all know he is innocent. I am going to stand up on his behalf. They will have a hard time in convicting him if a princess is there for him.”
“But that could put you in danger, Your Highness,” Araignea said.
“I don’t care. I won’t have them put Jeremiah in jail and reinstate Police order. We did this to rid the Police from us forever. We succeeded, and now the Fleea Freedom Fighters, fronted by you, Mr. Araignea, should be put in their rightful position. That is my opinion, and I shall not back down.”
Jeremiah smiled, in spite of the seriousness. She was one stubborn girl. She would do anything once she set her mind to it. Her ways were braver now that she had been through the trip that caused her so much grief and so much happiness.
“I guess,” said Jeremiah, “there’s nothing to do but wait, and when the time comes, to answer their questions.”
And so, tea was served, and after lunch, the Freedom Fighters went back to their ships to await the trial.
Orlacc stood up. He was thinking about how these people banded together not only to fight against what they believed to be wrong, but because they were friends. He smiled once again at the thought.
“Why, Jeremiah, I believe that’s a smile on Peter’s face!” Ania teased.
Jeremiah turned to Orlacc. “What are you so happy about, Peter?” he asked. “I don’t recall you ever smiling, before.”
Orlacc remained quiet, but his face said it all, to Ania. She went over and gave him a hug, which he warmly returned. Jeremiah stood up and they each took him into their circle.
“How do I look?” Jeremiah asked the princess, as he straightened his tie. It was the morning of the trial, and Jeremiah was starting to feel very afraid.
Ania fixed his collar and looked at him with worry. “You look very distinguished. If one could be proven innocent on appearance alone, you would be out free in a second. Are you alright?”
“Yeah. No. Yeah, I’m fine.” He turned and moved slowly to the bed. Ania went and sat beside him. “If I do get off, what will I do then?” he asked. “Where will I go?”
Ania paused for a moment. She looked around the room and then back at Jeremiah. “You shall stay here. Here in this room.”
“Here?” he asked. The princess nodded. “But what would I do? My job was all I had. I can’t just live here. I’d feel guilty and I’d get terribly bored. What will I do?”
“We can think about that later,” Ania said.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I may not get off.”
“Don’t even think that.”
Orlacc knocked on the door. “Can I come in?” he called.
“Yeah, sure,” Jeremiah answered.
Orlacc slipped in the door. “I guess it’s time,” he said.
Jeremiah stood up. “Yeah. I guess it is.” He turned to Ania. “I just want to thank you, princess. And you, too, Mr. Orlacc. You have been so great. I know I’ll be okay. So... I suppose we should be on our way.”
Ania led Jeremiah out of the room and down the stairs. They were all very quiet. It was as though they were going to be put to their deaths.
“We are here to discuss Mr. Jeremiah Handell’s doings in one Senator Alkis’s death,” said the attorney who was going to try to give Jeremiah the title “guilty”. “Mr. Alkis was the senator of our government of present... although there have been recent changes in that. The senator was just getting the government established in the Remdis system. There was the occasional rebellion to the government, but the changes he had provided were supplying much income to each and every planet in this system, as well as jobs, and other much needed components to daily life.
“There had been no problems of late, until three people headed up several dozen Freedom Fighters, who had been quiet for many years after the so-called Myglord Invasion had erupted. The said three people included one Jeremiah Handell, who, after the destruction of the Police forces on Earth, causing much turmoil, I might add, may have possibly killed the senator by his own hand. This assassination is to be discussed in the following trial.
“The three members of this coup include the afore mentioned Handell, a man who once fought in those so-called Myglord Invasions, and Her Highness, Princess Ania Destanias of Xailier, as well as the members of the Fleea Freedom Fighters, headed by Admiral Davis Araignea.
“We will present the evidence as we see it, and we will have the witnesses and suspect take the stand to hopefully find the truth and justice.”
Jeremiah felt Ania squeeze his hand. They all sat in a row in the box near the front of the court, Araignea, Orlacc, Handell, and the princess, in that order, so that the jury could view them. Ania leaned across Jeremiah to whisper to Orlacc, “Why do they keep calling it the so-called Myglord Invasions?”
“They refer to it as such because, in their opinion, we were invading their government, and therefore, were wrong.”
“We shall cut right to the case, as our jury has been briefed on the matters of this trial,” said the attorney. “I shall call the first man to the stand, he who brought this matter to hand, General Mikel Aldeh. General Aldeh?”
The man stepped forward. Shanda saw him and he smiled at her evilly. She knew who he was. He had dragged Jeremiah to the senator, and had taken him back to the cell. He was one of the next men in position to Admiral Rakin. She looked at Jeremiah, who had a very surprised and then a puzzled,worried look on his face. “It’ll be alright, Jeremiah. He can’t prove anything.”
“General Aldeh.” the attorney said. “You claim to know that Captain Handell is guilty of murder? How would you be privy to such information? But first, how were you employed by Mr. Alkis?”
“I have been working for the senator for ten years. I was promoted to general two years ago. I knew Alkis quite well, and was included in many of his plans.”
“What were you doing when the three rebels entered the building on Earth?”
“I was the first, along with another, to find Mr. Handell. We took him directly to the senator.”
“Yet, the senator did not kill him, did he, despite their unlawful intrusion, and siege of the station, as well as the killing of scores of innocent men?”
“No, he merely put him in holding until he could find a suitable punishment for him.”
Ania was horrified at the turnaround this man was admitting to. He did not mention the pain the senator had caused Jeremiah.
“What was it that Mr. Handell had done while still under Police employment?”
“He had been a traitor, taking the Police unification plans to an opposing government who was beginning to succumb to the new order.”
“And note he was not killed for this either.”
“No, he was taken to Xailier, where he’d be far away from the base.”
“Alright, then, Mr. Aldeh, how did you find out about Mr. Alkis’s death?”
“Well, Sir, I found the senator’s body--”
“That would be Senator Alkis?” interrupted the attorney.
“Yes, Senator Alkis’s body... on the outskirts of the base. He had fallen from a great height. He had been seen being taken hostage by the three people who had come to destroy him.”
“Could you please identify these three people?”
“Yes,” the general pointed at them as he said their names. “Mr. Handell, the princess, and the Myglord.”
“Alright, continue,” the attorney said.
“He had been taken aboard the Myglord ship, and then I found his body.”
“Apparently had been thrown from the ship?”
“Yes. The report was that he had been thrown from probably just below atmospheric height.”
“That’s pretty high.”
“Could he have jumped from the ship?”
“No. He wouldn’t do that. He was hoping to get Mr. Handell back on his side. He wanted, not to kill him, but to bring him over to the Police side, so that they would not have him as a powerful enemy. He wanted to succeed in the new government, he didn’t want to die before he saw his idea succeed.”
“Thank you, General Aldeh. You may be seated.”
The general moved slowly back to his seat, glaring at the four sitting on the bench at the front.
“We shall now call Mr. Araignea to the stand,” called the attorney. He felt it was his duty to rid this world of the kind that rebelled against perfect government.
In recent law, the opposition and accused represented themselves, with the attorney asking the questions about the case. He had to be representative of both parties. Unfortunately, in this trial, the attorney was biased. In crimes such as political overthrows and assassinations, the attorney tended to be persuaded to his political beliefs.
Admiral Araignea stood with his hand on the Bible. He repeated the oath that Mr. Dobson, the attorney, recited.
“Mr. Araignea. You are in charge of the Fleea Freedom Fighters?”
“Yes, Sir,” Araignea said.
“You are the major opposing force of the Police?”
“Yes. We hope to bring our non-violent government back to power.”
“Non-violent? Well, it seems to me that your tactics have been less than non-violent.” He paused. “You were called upon by whom?”
“Mr. Peter Orlacc.”
“To do what?”
Araignea paused, looking at his friends. “To get rid of the Police.” The people in the court murmured amongst themselves.
“Meaning you were to destroy them.”
“Well, whatever to get rid of them.”
“Did you do so?”
“I believe we did what we could.”
“Did you want to kill them?”
“No, I did not want to use killing. I wish it hadn’t come to that.”
“Yet you were ordered to do so. Who was it, to you, that was in charge of this rebellion?”
Araignea put his head down. “It seemed, to me, to be Captain Handell.”
“Excuse me? Could you repeat that louder?”
“Captain Handell,” repeated Araignea.
“That is all.” said Dobson.
“Excuse me...,” said Orlacc, standing up. “I feel that you are only showing us one side. I object to your one-sided view.”
“The court recognises Peter Orlacc,” said the judge. “Yes, Mr. Orlacc. I agree with you, but we are to make the decision based on his answers, not the questions.”
“Well, I tend to think that if the questions were not so biased, we would get a fairer trial.”
“We shall keep that in mind,” said the attorney. “As for now, Mr. Orlacc, we shall have you up next.”
Orlacc stood up and as he went by Araignea, gave him a reassuring pat on the arm. He was sworn in and then the attorney began to ask him questions.
“Did you agree to the destruction of the Police?”
“I didn’t have to agree. I was around longer. I saw the murder that they committed. I was a victim of their targets. I wanted them to be taken over long ago.”
“Who’s idea was it to overthrow them?”
“Has it not been everyone’s idea? Has not everyone wished at some time or another that we had peaceful rule? We have been taken over, with our own wills suppressed by the Police. I’m sure that everyone in this room has hoped at one point or another that the tyranny would end. We could not be more like pawns. Who was it who let the Police kill so many innocent people? They have killed thousands, and Jeremiah Handell is put on the stand to find if he is guilty of relieving the system of the fear and pain we have suffered for so long.”
“Did Mr. Handell ever say to you that he planned on killing the senator?”
“Have you ever said that you wanted to kill someone? You did not mean it.”
“I am not on trial here, Mr. Orlacc. Could you just give us simple answers?” the attorney asked.
“This is not a simple matter. One cannot be simple when the life of a man is at stake.”
“Well, then, Mr. Orlacc. One man, many men, have been killed at Mr. Handell’s command. You took the senator onto your ship, did you not?”
“Yes, we did.”
“What were you planning on doing with him?”
“He agreed to give us the plans to the Police takeovers. We were going to take him to the Fleea authorities.”
“And a battle ensued?”
“Yes. The senator had endangered the princess’s life. He had shot her in the arm. We are lucky she is still with us.” He smiled at the princess, and it assured her that everything would be fine. One little smile from Orlacc could do that.
“Did you see the battle?” Mr. Dobson asked.
“Not with my eyes, Sir.”
“What did it look like when you entered the scene?”
“I found the Princess bleeding, trying to help Jeremiah into the ship. He and the senator had been thrown from the inside, and although Jeremiah was more inside than Mr. Alkis, both had been in danger. I saw Mr. Handell reaching out his hand to the air, as if to grab for a hand. That is what I saw. I saw a man reaching out to save someone, and he was in pain.”
Ania wiped a tear from her eye. She squeezed Jeremiah’s hand. Peter Orlacc was not the man she had first knew. But she had seen something about him in his gentle eyes the first time she looked into them. Orlacc would see to it that justice would be served.
“Thank you, Mr. Orlacc,” said the attorney.
“I would like to say one more thing,” said Orlacc. “I fear for the whole universe if this man is convicted for attempting to find eternal peace. I fear for you, I fear for me. I fear for our children.”
With that, Peter Orlacc went back to the people he represented. He wasn’t sure if Jeremiah would get off, but he had done what he could, what he considered the truth. Orlacc was a strong man. He would not give in his beliefs even after the last second.
“I suppose we shall call Her Royal Highness, Princess Ania Destanias of Xailier to the stand,” said Mr. Dobson. He knew that Mr. Orlacc had given a true statement, and he knew that he was a good strike for Mr. Handell’s freedom.
Ania repeated the oath and hoped that she did not implicate her love in further problems.
“Princess Ania,” the attorney said. “It was your plan to go after the Police?”
“Yes,” she said meekly.
“And you met with Mr. Handell?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Did he insist on coming?”
“Yes. He did not want me to go alone.” She said.
“Did he say that he would do the work for you?”
“No, he said he would protect me, which he did.”
“You saw the battle. Will you please tell us what happened, the way you saw it?”
“Jeremiah was trying to... to come to an agreement with the senator. He said something that Mr. Alkis didn’t like and Alkis grabbed the gun. He... he shot me, by a mistake, and Jeremiah jumped up and they got into a fight. Jeremiah unarmed the senator, and then they hit the door. They went out it, and the senator fell. Jeremiah was, as Mr. Orlacc said, more on the inside. The senator was holding onto the floor panel when I got over to them. I tried to help Jeremiah pull him back in, because that’s what Jeremiah was trying to do. He desperately tried to help Mr. Alkis back in.”
“Who started the fight?”
“I believe Senator Alkis called the first shot,” she said. Orlacc smiled at her. She was doing fine.
“What about threats? Did, at anytime before that, Mr. Handell threaten to kill Alkis. Did he ever put a gun to Alkis and tell him he was going to kill him?”
“Well....” She looked at Orlacc for guidance.
“Just answer the question yes or no,” said the attorney.
“Well..., yes, he did, but he was under severe physical conditions. And he didn’t do it either. He didn’t shoot him that time when he said. Instead, he made a deal. A deal to live.”
Orlacc was watching her. She was doing fine. She could tell from his face. Jeremiah looked hopeful. He was sitting with his eyes closed, listening intensely to the goings-on.
“Well, then, I guess that will be all. You may be seated.” The princess went back to her seat a little shaky. Jeremiah took her hands.
“You did fine,” he said. “You did fine. Thank you”
“We shall take a ten minute recess,” said the judge. “Court adjourned for said time.” With that, he stood up and went to his quarters, leaving the court to talk about what had taken place.