Trial and Error

Fuse was still testing minor equipment controls on the Dreamgazer when he reached the Cosmicana, and was shocked to see a much larger ship floating in space next to it. This ship was clearly of a far superior design than the Cosmicana. It dwarfed the Cosmicana entirely in terms of size. Fuse slowed the Dreamgazer down to take a closer look at the large ship. In the dim starlight, Fuse could see an insignia on the side of the ship. A black triangle inscribed in a black circle, with a chevron streaking through the triangle. The letters GBCE were painted in silver in an arc on the outside of the circle, at the bottom.

Realization dawned on Fuse. The ship was a GBCE frigate, a docking ship for spacefighters. The Galactic Battleship Command Entity had arrived.

Fuse parked the Dreamgazer inside the Cosmicana hold. As he got out of the starfighter, Via and Roget hurried forward to greet him, a little faster than was necessary.

“How was the flight?” Roget asked, all the while his eyes darting around the hold.

“It was good, but I just saw this GBCE frigate outside. What’s going on?”

“Well, there are some guests here to meet you. They want to …talk.” Via looked pretty nervous.

Fuse was still processing the information, and on instinct, he turned to look around. From out of the shadows on the far side of the hold, twelve uniformed officers of the GBCE walked forward, dressed in the standard issue metal grey malleable armour suits. They had one other thing in common. They all had their ion pulsers trained on him. Fuse just stood there watching them approach. His eyes picked out the leader, a female who wore three stars on the lapel of her uniform. “A captain, no less.” thought Fuse numbly.   

The captain began to speak, “I am Captain Ursula Krett, of the GBCE frigate Starkar. We received word that this ship was the last one seen leaving G27 shortly before it went Code White. As you all know, a Code White is a serious offence under the rules of the G.R.A.F.T. We need to take you all in for questioning.” Her voice had a tone of authority Fuse was very uncomfortable with. If he was convicted of a Code White, there was no hope for him anywhere in the Galactic Republic of Allied and Federated Territories. And worse still, he’d dragged the Dublins into this. A mental image of the Kahnan, bleeding from the hole in his head, wavered in front of Fuse’s eyes.

“No! They have nothing to do with this.”

Captain Krett’s eyes narrowed. She asked in a steely tone, “Are you taking responsibility for what happened?”

Fuse sighed. “What about the Kestinos? You have to know there was an attack on G27. Alarms were set off. Warnings were sent.”

The captain responded curtly, “True, but people can make lots of excuses for a Code White. So, are you the one we should hold responsible?”

Fuse breathed heavily, his mind furiously ticking off all the options. His mother would have to be the last option. But for now, he had to get the blame off the Dublins.

Fuse held out his hands. As if on cue, one of the officers moved forward and latched Perspex vacuum cuffs which would contain Fuse’s hands. A second moved behind him and injected him with a sub-dermal microtracer. The officer whispered into his ears while he did it, “We wouldn’t want you running away on us now, would we?”

A third officer started setting up small holographic projectors all around Fuse. When he had laid down twelve of them, he nodded to the captain. The captain in turn, punched in a few numbers on her hand-held controller; codes which she knew would generate a randomized set of twelve members of the Galactic Republic.

Each of those members started appearing on the holographic projectors, albeit with blurred and hazy images; their identities were being protected by the holo-encrypter. They could see and hear everything that would happen but Fuse would never know who they were. If such anonymity was not guaranteed, almost no one would agree to jury duty.

Via looked on in shock at the flurry of activity going on, while Roget simply stood by, holding her hand. They couldn’t do much more.

When all the twelve members had appeared, Captain Krett stepped forward and started to read off of her controller. “Case GR-546729, sector 5. Reporting officer, Captain Ursula Krett. The crime is a Code White on planet G27. Perpetrator is…” She turned to look at Fuse, expecting him to provide the information.

Fuse closed his eyes and spat out, “Fuse Mate Fervent, G.R.A.F.T. Citizen 001-476867.”

Captain Krett continued, “The crime is Level I. The appropriate punishment is the death penalty. Commence the trial.”

Fuse gulped. He was about to be arraigned, and if found guilty he would be summarily executed.

One of the judges asked in a distorted voice, “Does he have legal representation?”

Captain Krett said out, “ No. For a Code White, legal representation would be considered an accomplice.”

“Wrong on both counts.” A strong female voice sounded out from the doorway. “I am his lawyer.”

The End

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