Though Atticus had spent most of his time in Statodnim meditating in his room, he found it hard to fully clear his mind. This discomfort was further punctuated by a knock at his door.
"May I come in?" spoke the familiar voice of Moloch.
"The others have been talking about what you said to Xanvi. I'm sure they don't want me telling you, but they've been very displeased."
"But why?" Atticus asked, standing up from the corner of his bed. "Was my answer that bad?"
"Maybe to them. I-I thought it was admirable," said Moloch.
"Well, I didn't mean to offend anyone, was just answering honestly."
After a moment, Atticus decided to respond to the rest of Moloch's statement. "You do? Why?"
"Xanvi is not a-a hero. When he was — When we were still just mortal men, the political leaders saw his g-growing influence as an issue. Ch-children are much easier to influence, you know. He ordered Yaakov to... to..." Moloch paused. "There were a l-lot of dead politicians and a lot of orphans joining our organization."
"That's... that's horrible," Atticus responded, taken aback. "But why are you telling me this? Do you think I can do something about it?"
Moloch clasped his cold hands around one of Atticus'. "I can't accompany you, but — but I'd advise you to explore the lower l-levels of Statodnim." He moved his hands away, leaving a thin brass object in Atticus' palm. "You'll find supplies there to make something. A weapon."
Teleporting inside of the basement, Atticus found himself in a dark room — the only light came from bioluminescent green fungi growing on the walls and machinery.
As he wandered down the corridor, Atticus felt the pipes lining the wall expel hot steam into the air. His knuckles went white as he clenched the metal object in his fist. The sounds of the machines working in unison combined with a repetitive ticking noise and Atticus' own footsteps did nothing to ease the uncomfortable atmosphere.
The boy came to a door bound with a large brass valve, he placed his hands on it and turned the mechanism clockwise. Another burst of hot steam released as the door slid to the side, revealing a nigh-completely darkened area. The only light came from the eyes of what looked to be a human face made of marble. A voice echoed.
"What brings you here, aspirant?"
"I was sent down here," Atticus answered, deciding to ignore the oddity of the being.
The marble being rose, and a flickering luminescent bulb turned on, bathing the room in red light. The creature's face, upon closer inspection, bore a long beard and tall headdress, both undoubtedly carved out of stone. What concerned Atticus, however, was that it had the body of a lean equine with wings.
"You shouldn't be here, Nuyövian." It said, its mouth not moving as it spoke. "I am called Lamassu, guardian of Research Station Tzapotl."
"What could you possibly be guarding down here?" Atticus asked.
"Not much anymore. The station's recent occupants have neutralized our security system, so there's nothing I can do but discourage you from continuing." said Lamassu, a tinge of venom in its tone. "It's a mining station. We used to dig up orichalcum down here. Stills works, too, but nobody's touched it in... millennia, now."
"Orichalcum?" Atticus asked. "What's the importance of that?"
"It's metal. Brought the Munese into a new age of technology when we discovered it. The man who has moved into the station wields a sword made of the pure stuff."
The man who moved in... Xanvi?
Feeling emboldened, Atticus walked past the figure and into the room, which was lined with sets of controls and a massive window. Beyond the window, only complete darkness was visible. Every now and then, ripples would occur, showing that the view was submerged.
"What is your goal?" Lamassu asked, following Atticus into the room. "There's nothing down here for you."
"Which button turns it on?" Atticus asked, ignoring the question. "There's so many here."
"Why would I tell you?"
"You have no reason not to, unless you prefer staying down here without a purpose. We're probably the only ones who can change that."
"So you intend to make a weapon?" asked Lamassu. Atticus nodded. The creature trotted towards the machine and placed a hoofed forefoot on the controls. "Then... let me show you how this works."
"This is Vassiliki's Castle, the Vayu, created by Vritra as a gift for his wife. She was pleased with it, but it was the angels who were utterly enraptured by its beauty. To even lay eyes upon it, let alone be granted the opportunity to explore the halls intricately decorated with the finest materials a god could imagine: they felt it was unfair for mere mortals like themselves. An assembly of angel architects agreed that the only acceptable repayment was to create a megacity surrounding the palace.
"Very little of this planned city, Empyrean, was actually completed before the demons revolted. Their slaves freed and their people at war, Vritra had no choice but to demand the construction be halted. Towers were erected around the block surrounding the tower. The Power made it so that no one except himself, his wife and the most senior commanders could enter the castle.
"Then Xeren began his approach. Vritra knew that, as a fellow deity, Xeren could easily remove the protection on the castle or simply tear through it. He chose to confront Xeren himself before he reached the city. You've already seen how that ended.
"Empyrean now extends out into this world through Alchemilia's wormhole. Ezekiel had the testing grounds converted into his headquarters. It is impossible to access Empyrean on foot: the angels have no need to, after all. The immediate surroundings are minefields and watchtowers. Beyond that is a trench. It used to be a moat, supposedly created wholly by the legendary warrior Josephus. We'll talk more about him some other time.
"When Xeren's soul is reunified, the first use of your power will be the subjugation of the angel army, Sabaoth. What better way to show the return of Xeren then to complete the siege of Empyrean?
"Our forces will begin the attack on land. This is to confuse them and focus their efforts on the ground instead of the air. With the battle underway, our airships will make their entrance. Our men have worked hard to keep the construction away from prying eyes. The arrival should be yet another surprise. You won't have to do anything until the Copperhead reaches the inner citadel. Ezekiel will have fled through the portal, hiding in Vassiliki's Castle. We'll follow. The next step should be self-explanatory: you breach the supposedly impenetrable walls, we go in and kill Ezekiel. His death, along with the destruction of the Hussars — an elite unit based out of Empyrean — will weaken Sabaoth to the point of collapse.
"Then, we can focus on the Powers."
A demon youth who would come to be known to all his people as their Supreme Commander was, like all of his kin, forced to spend his developing years endlessly toiling away in the fields and mines of Eden. He received little in return for the hours of labor: meager rations and bits of wisdom from his elders. Anything more than the bare minimum for him to survive was reserved for those who had already spent decades unwillingly serving Vritra. Dasim would not learn of any alternative to this pitiful life until he heard the voice of Xeren calling out to the demons.
Now, hundreds of years later, he reread a transcript of that first message. The aged book was barely holding together as he turned the pages. Any lingering doubts about his plan needed to be snuffed out as soon as possible. Dasim hoped that the same words that had inspired him and his people to take up arms against their slavers might strengthen his resolve to confront Cicero. Any lingering doubt in his mind needed to be purged posthaste.
Assuming he survived the confrontation with Cicero, the late demigod's responsibilities would become his. Many were willing to follow Dasim, but he was not the heir of Xeren. The last time he held a position meant for Cicero there had been much dissent. The deity had named Cicero as his successor and, even if he was only a child, some thought it was more important to follow Xeren's will than to have a competent leader for their armies. It reminded Dasim of the angels: blindly obedient to their king, unwilling to admit even the slightest fault.
The words of Xeren did not give him some flash of inspiration as he had hoped, nor any great doubt about the necessity of his plan as he had feared. Instead, he only felt a great loss. Nothing was left of Xeren beyond a few speeches and memories. He set down the dust-caked codex and put it back on a shelf. Dasim retrieved his uniform and put it on. The shirt was covered in pins recognizing him for multiple lifetimes of exceptional service. His beret flash was a Coalition emblem, indicative of his status as supreme commander.
Awgalahaga had only recently come under Coalition control. A forward operating base had been set up in what had been a parking lot. Nearby housing was allocated for use by soldiers. Dasim left the home of a wealthy couple that the mayor had gifted him upon his arrival. Cicero’s airship, the "Copperhead," loomed overhead. The commander went into its shadow while proceeding north.
Dasim turned to see a human man walking towards him. He was tall for one of his kind but the demon commander still dwarfed him. The man, who wore a black trenchcoat and hat, was a Nuyovian courier.
"What is it?" Dasim asked.
"I have an important message from the Tsar," the courier answered. "He accepts your proposition. A unit has been sent to this base to discuss the specifics. I could take you to them if you’d like."
The commander nodded. He followed the messenger east, towards a group of Nuyovians clad in thick metal body armor. They were gathered around a heliplane. Additional soldiers and support staff carried bins out of the aircraft containing weapons and silhouette targets. Dasim recognized one among them as Dmitri Avilov, a liaison between the Tsar and the demon army. He greeted Avilov with a handshake.
"Hello, Commander," Dmitri said. "Nice to meet you again after so long. Now then, I've come here to be of some assistance. I and my soldiers are here to accompany you when you face Cicero."
"Thank you, Dmitri," Dasim replied. He eyed the firearms being unloaded. "Human technology has always fascinated me. I've never had the chance to examine these weapons closely, however. Would you mind?"
"Not at all," the Nuyovian took a double-barrel shotgun from a crate and handed it to Dasim. "Take this, try it out on one of the dummies."
The commander looked over the targets. Most of them were standard silhouette outlines, but two stuck out. They were three-dimensional models of human torsos and heads. The first wore standard-issue Nuyovian combat armor, while the second replicated a specific, unique set of armor.
"Is that who I think it is?" Dasim asked.
"Indeed it is," Dmitri smiled. "Our engineers created a replica of his armor to be used as target practice. It's made from the same material as the original and as close to scale as we could manage."
"If this is as close an imitation as you say, these weapons will be useless against it."
"Oh? Take a shot at Cicero, then. See how he fares."
Dasim, while confused at the soldier's confidence, nonetheless aimed the shotgun towards the head of the target. He pulled the trigger. Click. Nothing happened.
"The — the safety's still on. Just, uh, give it to me for a second," Dasim handed the shotgun back to Dmitri. He pressed a button on the gun’s receiver and returned it to Dasim. "Try it now."
Once again, the demon aimed the gun at the target's head and fired. He felt the intense kickback of the shot and reeled. The buckshot shattered the helmet of the target and tore its head into uneven chunks. The target collapsed onto the ground, the eye on its chest cracking. White and black debris collected behind it.
"Impressive," Dasim muttered. He thought of himself blasting apart the real Cicero's head. The fleshy texture of the suit made it all too easy for him to picture it as a corpse.
"That's not all," Vassily said. "Try to hit the one wearing our armor."
The commander snapped out of his daze. He fired at the soldier mannequin as suggested. The bullets hit the combat helmet, bending the metal at the site of impact. It then fell to the ground. The target's head remained fully intact.
"This could be very useful, but let's hope we don't need it," the commander said.
"I suppose," Dmitri frowned.
Soon after, Dasim bid Dmitri and his men farewell. He began heading north, towards the portal which connected the base in Awgalahaga to the outskirts of Empyrean in Eden. On the way, he stopped two demon soldiers and asked for them to accompany him. The three continued into the portal.
Through the portal, there was a field where two gods had fought. Two graves marked the site. The grave of Xeren received few visitors: it was only a few miles from Empyrean, which was still inhabited by a small number of angels. If they were to notice the supreme commander of the demon army approaching their city, there was no doubt Dasim would be attacked. This was why he had brought bodyguards.
When they first arrived, the site appeared empty. After Dasim began to look upon the grave, however, the guards interrupted him. One was holding an angel's arms behind his back.
"I did nothing wrong! Let me go," the angel said, squirming in the guard's grip. "I won't tell anyone you're here, I promise! I just want to visit my son's grave. He... he died in battle and... I've been struggling ever since. I-I just wanted to talk to him and to ask my god for strength... i-it's been so hard..."
The guards were unimpressed with the angel's plea. "Quit your whining. We know you'd tell your general exactly what you saw here," one of them replied.
"I-I'm not enlisted--"
"Be quiet," The other barked. "Commander, your orders?"
Dasim knew he should have ordered them to let them kill the angel. His story could be completely fake, thought up in a quick bout of self-preservation. Yet it did not sound such: it felt real, genuine. The death of someone so close was the same reason Dasim had come here. Is it fair to punish the poor man for the same desperate act?
"Let him go," Dasim decided. "He poses no threat to us."
"Sir, he may warn his fellows of your presence," a guard retorted. "What would we do then?"
"Keep watch. If he tries anything, we leave and close the portal behind us."
"But sir, Cicero himself," the name was over-enunciated in veiled contempt. "Has asked us to keep the portal open."
"He'll understand, I'm sure," Dasim said.
The guards released the angel as requested. The man mumbled a few words of thankfulness before departing.
Dasim looked to the grave and wondered whether Xeren would have approved of what he had to do. He knew it did not matter. Dasim was not forced to serve Xeren as he had Vritra. The kinder deity had given him and his people a chance to carve out their own destinies, after all. But that did not stop him from wondering.
The demons remained at the grave for a few minutes more. Then, satisfied, Dasim and his guards left.
With more than a week passing since the surrender of the Port City Eight at the Chang Monastery, the group was escorted to Nuyö and held in the private headquarters of the Global Union. The members of the former Search Party, Blackmore Veers, and Zade Santello — as well as the Changs themselves and Isaiah — remained at the monastery, unsure of what their next move would be.
Locked in separate cells, the Port City Eight ceased to have contact with each other. Their only link was a lawyer provided by Florence Carnation and Theo Rosington, who had received the message from the Midnight Runners and agreed to help the group privately.
Lars Bontemps, the lawyer, would meet with all of them separately and go over possible defenses. Eventually, the man informed them that their trial would happen quicker than expected, due to the Global Union wanting to quickly put an end to their case and already having a 'mountain of evidence' against them.
Blossom walked into the courtroom, her hands still handcuffed behind her. The room was large and had dozens of seats separated into groups. At the farthest side of the room, the bench was located — close to it was the jury box, where the Global Union Ministers would sit to watch the trial.
The room was empty, with Blossom and her guards being the only ones there. "I think we arrived a bit early," Blossom said, sitting down in her chair as one of the guards unlocked her handcuffs and proceeded to lock one end of them to the table in front.
After a few minutes, the rest of the group was escorted into the room, with Bontemps at the helm. Among the group, Blossom noticed a woman she didn't recognize but knew that it had to be Lisa Fiss.
"So what's the plan, law man?" Marshall asked. "Are we just completely screwed?"
"As you know, my team and I have been working on various defenses and we think we've landed with a pretty solid one. I don't think any of you will like it too much, but it might be helpful in getting you out of this mess," Bontemps answered.
"I'm going to present all of you as robbers. That defense will be used to explain why you attempted to storm the entrance of Remnant Rock. As for the prison break - simple, you simply broke free with everyone else and made your escape. Other than a few of you having fights, I don't think there's any video or picture that actually shows any further criminal activity. Any witness that says otherwise can be questioned around such. We have a few character witnesses lined up as well."
"But what about me?" Lisa asked. "Surely, there's a way to prove my innocence."
"You've done nothing," Bontemps answered, "and that won't be hard to prove."
The ministers of the Global Union took their seats at the head of the courtroom. They were led by Jessica Morin, a wealthy Thelsh woman who presided over the Union’s judicial branch as Deputy Prime Minister. She took a seat behind the judge's bench.
Ministers representing the various countries and city-states followed behind and sat in the jury box. Oliver Baldwin, a revolutionary who had seized control of Stvitel and became its Prime Minister, was the first to sit down. His country had nearly fallen into Coalition control before he had taken office. Its quick recovery had earned him much respect among the other representatives.
To Baldwin's left sat Heidi Forwater, the pacifist President of Sampi. She refused to co-sign any judgment which called for capital punishment of the accused. To her left was Eseme Salamanca, former general and mayor of Mcyne. Her efforts to reclaim much of Muné from demon control were well-known but of varying success. Theo Rosington sat to the right of Baldwin.
Morin slammed her gavel down. Assorted murmurings from the stands quieted. Everyone turned to face the assembled ministers. A blonde woman stood up from the other side of the room and made her way towards the bench. As the prosecuting attorney, Charlotte McLeod, began her opening statement.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the court, we are here today because of the act of terrorism perpetrated by the so-called 'Port City Eight.' Their role in the destruction of Remnant Rock, which would leave few survivors, also prevented vital medical research from being completed. This is to speak nothing of the fiscal damage to Alchemilia Corporation, which is no longer able to manufacture as many weapons for use by our armies.
"Let us consider not only the big picture. The grieving families of those killed are still waiting for justice. Escapees from the Remnant Rock holding facility are still at large. Employees of Alchemilia have had their salaries reduced out of necessity. Ministers, you know who is responsible for this."
The woman held up a small remote and pointed it across the room, towards a projector screen. "I'd like for everyone to turn their attention towards this screen," McLeod began.
A picture of a van heading across Remnant Rock's bridge was eventually shown, followed by another one showing Li driving the van. Various other pictures were presented, each showing a specific member of the group near or during the confrontation at the bridge.
"As you can see, these pictures taken from a nearby security camera obviously show members of this group attempting to storm their way into the building. Luckily, they were stopped and detained. However, their plan didn't stop there, and perhaps it could be argued that being captured was their plan. This brings me to my first witness. Abram Pavlovic."
The witness took to the witness stand. He was a portly Nuyovian man with short blonde hair and a clean-shaven face. The bailiff asked him to affirm he was going to tell the whole truth. He responded in the affirmative.
"Mister Pavlovic, how many years have you worked at Alchemilia Corporation?" asked McLeod.
"Twenty," Pavlovic responded. "I have been the director of the Genetics Department for fourteen."
"And were you working at Remnant Rock on Xerus 42th?"
"Yes. I was working on a critical project when the incident began."
"That's what I thought. I heard you had some information to tell about this case, can you tell us what it is?" McLeod continued to ask.
"Selma Klosterman, our department's head of security, informed us of an attempted break-in. The perpetrators were woefully unprepared for such an undertaking. There were concerns among site security this was a distraction for a more-competent undertaking. Klosterman didn't believe them. When we received warning that the facility's central power had been disabled, it appeared she was wrong to doubt her colleagues."
"We were forced to evacuate. Most of our research material was left behind due to the abruptness of the evacuation. There was a consensus that the incident would be resolved, so no effort was made to retrieve it. Decades of medical research is now lost."
"I'm sorry that happened, it's very unfortunate. Were attacks on Alchemilia common?"
"With attacks being uncommon, would you say one of this size - an attack that managed to bring the entire infrastructure down, kill hundreds of employees, and ruin all kinds of data - was done by someone with unique and incredible experience?"
McLeod took a moment to glance around the room, reading expressions as quickly as possible.
"I would say that's a reasonable assumption," Pavlovic replied.
McLeod turned away from Pavlovic briefly and pointed the remote at the projector screen again. Clicking a button, an image of a young Li flashed onto the screen - one of him standing next to Gabriel Alchemilia and a group of men.
"I believe Wen Li was a former executive at Alchemilia Corporation, and that he didn't leave on the best terms. I think it's likely that in Doctor Li's old age, he decided to do one last deed against his former employer and concocted this plan of revenge."
"Samuel Brownlee was a talented and well-known doctor in Silivia, recognized as a man of all trades. He was also the friend of Doctor Li, and an attacker on Remnant Rock."
Following that image, a grainy video was projected onto the screen. Soundless, it showed Atticus, Marshall, and a third man whose face was obscured and unrecognizable exiting a train and heading towards a wider tunnel. All three of them were dressed in Alchem garb.
"This shows the younger employee of Doctor Li, Marshall Rooke, and his friend Atticus Rosington exiting Alchemilia's underground train system and heading higher into Remnant Rock. Why did they do this? Why did Atticus Rosington, the son of the Silivian Governor, fake his death and seemingly wind up with an extremist group? I believe there's clearly one link - Wen Li.
"What do you think, Doctor Pavlovic? Surely you know the man better than we do."
"Your theory certainly has some merit, but it's not the conclusion I reached. After carefully reviewing that footage, it appears that the attack was the work of employees who were dissatisfied with company management. None of them had any recorded contact with Doctor Li or another member of the accused. Furthermore, the purported photograph of Rosington and Rooke actually depicts two of the aforementioned dissident employees: Eustace Keller and Lionel Williams."
"Thank you for your input, sir. That's all the questions I had," McLeod replied after a short pause. She then walked back to her desk and sat down, opening up a large folder.
"Mister Bontemps, you can ask your questions now," Morin ordered.
"Mister Pavlovic, you've reviewed the tapes, correct?" Bontemps started, standing up and making his way near the stand.
"Yes, I have."
"So you could identify the third man for the court, right?"
"I cannot, the video is too unclear to see his features clearly."
"Regarding an earlier statement made by the prosecution, particularly in reference to Doctor Li's age being "old," would you believe this to be true?" As he spoke, he carefully examined the Nuyovian witness's face.
"Based on these images here, how old would you say he is?" He pointed towards the projector screen, which showed various recent pictures of Li at Plant Empire.
"Uh, late sixties or early seventies?"
"I'd like to present another piece of evidence, please." The ministers nodded, and he proceeded. "Doctor Li, would you like to come over here?"
His eyes searched for Li, who was being rolled out to the court floor in a wheelchair by a bailiff. The botanist's hands were cuffed to the chair. A look of strain fell upon the old man's face, a mix of stress from his age and pain from the events that took place not so long ago. Upon Li's arrival to the center of the room, Bontemps continued.
"Does this man, Doctor Wen Li, look to be physically capable of committing an act of terrorism?" queried Bontemps.
"Dependent on the act, of course, but I seriously doubt he would be capable of those attributed to the accused in this state," Pavlovic replied.
"I have no further questions at this time," Bontemps replied, smiling and walking towards his table again.
McLeod approached the stand again, making an announcement. "The prosecution would like to call our next witness now, Santo Giovanni."
Shortly afterwards, an elderly man with dark hair took his seat behind the stand and was quickly sworn in.
"Mister Giovanni, thanks for coming today. I understand we have a lot to discuss, can you tell us what you were doing on Xerus 42nd? Before the attack, that is."
"Corralling pigs, as usual," he huffed, inhaling a puff of his cigar. "I heard news of Officer Galina Nabi bringing in a group of prisoners that tried to storm the entrance. I was making my rounds, checking on all of the prisoners, when I encountered Brownlee, Li, and Wellington. They were already free from their chambers, unlocking doors and attempting to start a riot. Li physically attacked me, so I tried to pin him to the wall. He rammed into me and broke my nose. When I awoke, my gun holster was gone, I assume he stole it."
"Even in the shape Mister Bontemps just showed Doctor Li to be in, you saw him and the others leading a jailbreak and Doctor Li proceeded to assault and rob you?" McLeod asked.
"The man that assaulted me was no doubt Wen Li, and he was in perfect shape. The only thing that would seem disabled about the man is his mind." “No further questions.”
"Mister Bontemps, you can ask your questions now," Morin said again.
"Mister Giovanni, how long have you known Doctor Li?" Bontemps asked.
"I first met him decades ago," Santo began. "We worked in the same department for a while. Alchemilia Corporation's prison ward."
"Right. You were pretty active in the ward at the time of Doctor Li's promotion to warden."
"That is correct," the General responded, annoyed. "May I ask how this is relevant to the case?"
"Your personnel file notes a complaint towards the administration upon his promotion."
"I felt it was unfair for Doctor Li to be promoted that far with so little experience, there were better candidates. In my opinion, the chairmen were making a serious mistake."
"You had no personal bias against him, then? No reason to get some long-awaited revenge? After all the years you worked there, you weren't the least bit angry that someone newer got the promotion that you wanted? That you earned and deserved?"
"I don't want to discuss this," Santo answered, clenching his fist.
"Why? It shouldn't be too hard to answer," Bontemps pressed. "Yes or no, were you angry that someone newer got the promotion you wanted?"
"Maybe I wouldn't have been angry if the person that got the job wasn't a complete idiot," Santo snapped. "If they actually worked hard or tried to, at least. Li ran around all the time, with his head in the clouds. He was never capable of much, randomly got the promotion because he was buddies with the big boss."
"He's an idiot, huh?" Bontemps asked, a slight smile crossing his face. "How did he manage to pull off the Remnant Rock attack then? Isn't he the mastermind or whatever?"
"Honestly, I have no clue how he managed to do such, it must've been a miracle," Santo answered. "He's really not fit to lead a single thing."
After some time, all of the prosecution's witnesses finished giving their statements and left the stand, leaving the prosecution to rest its case. The first witness for the defense, Dexter Wellington, was shortly called.
"Good afternoon, Mister Wellington," Bontemps stated. "It's nice to have you here today."
"It's nice to be here today," Dexter replied.
"I understand you have a few statements you'd like to make, can you begin?"
"Yes. Firstly, I would like to state for a fact that Chris, and I would assume the other defendants, are being grossly misrepresented. Chris was detained by Alchemilia against his will for several days. During that time, he was introduced to me through the CEO. I was informed that Alchemilia had offered him employment voluntarily, but he had refused. Wanted to make sure his amnesiac friends sorted out who they were."
"What was his state of mind after being detained and eventually making his escape? Do you think he'd hold any animosity towards the company, maybe attempt to attack them?"
"Not really. In our conversations, he didn't express any real animosity towards the company or its employees. I think, if he had any intent to harm the employees or destroy property, he would have done so during his escape. Yet he left them unharmed, didn't steal anything on the way out."
After Bontemps finished his questioning, McLeod replaced him at the stand.
"So, let's get the facts straight. Chris Wellington was 'detained' by Alchemilia? How did that happen?" She asked, placing her hand against the stand.
"He was depowered and placed into storage against his will."
"I doubt Alchemilia would do such a thing, but let's play along. How did he escape?"
"I let him leave the room and exit the building through a trash compactor."
"I see," the blonde woman nodded. "And after all of this, you say Wellington held no negative feelings towards Alchem? That he just forgave all of it?"
"As I said, he never showed any sort of animosity towards them."
"Can we even trust your word? Per your own statement, you helped Wellington 'escape,' doesn't this make you a hostile witness?"
"I was only helping someone in distress," Dexter sighed. "If you take issue with my actions and turn a blind eye to Alchem's wrongdoing, perhaps you should take a look at yourself."
Standing before the court, Bontemps clasped his hands behind his back. "Before I make this final argument, I'd like to acknowledge that I truly respect this establishment and all that it has done to protect this world and humanity. The Global Union is an important and highly valued community, we'd be lost without it.
"But that leads me to my next point. Anybody can make mistakes, and this entire trial has been one mistake after another. As shown by all of the witnesses — even the ones called by the other side, there is no proof of this group being involved in any form of terrorism at all. This has all been based on random reports by TV journalists and not based on any fact. And perhaps the worst part out of all of this is that we do not even have the right suspects in custody."
The man paused to point at Lisa.
"This woman is not Melissa Devlin, this is Lisa Fiss. She was wrongly accused and arrested because she tried to assist the 'Port City Eight' in Nirvana. Because she was a woman with dark hair, she was instantly assumed to be someone else that she barely shares any resemblance with."
Bontemps turned around and pointed the remote at the projector screen again, clicking it and causing a side by side photo of Melissa and Lisa to appear.
"As shown here, these two are not the same at all." Pausing, he proceeded to show various documents — birth certificates, school and doctor records — and finally turned the screen off again.
"All I'm asking all of you to consider is that if you got something as basic and simple as this fact wrong, what else is wrong in this case? Thank you for listening, I rest my case now."
With everyone returning to the room after taking a short recess, Morin began her address.
"After conversing with all of the Ministers and going over all of the evidence presented, I've made a decision. As mentioned by Mister Bontemps, this case has been an utter embarrassment and doesn't show us at our best. Only circumstantial evidence was given and every witness gave facts provided by hearsay and their own obvious biases. In one case, we do not even have the right person on trial.
"Let me be clear, being at Remnant Rock on the day of the attack is not a sign of guilt. My decision is that these individuals are not guilty. They should be released as soon as possible, and given a flight back to Silivia if they wish. This case has been dismissed."
Morin proceeded to slam her gavel down, calling the court to an end.
|Season One:||Catching Smoke • White Room • Bare Trees • One Night in Gladea • Ceasefire • Hide & Seek • Exit Music • Reunion • In Somnis Veritas • Carpe Diem • Primo Victoria • Don't Fear the Reaper|
|Season Two:||Crumbling Castle • Roaming King • Safe Haven • Marked Map • The Less I Know the Better • Riding the Wave • Centuries of Damnation • House of the Rising Sun • The Master • Everybody Plays the Fool • Loyalty|