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The State of Merria v. Sgt. Hirah Zahn, appeal of conviction for the supreme capital offense of genocide. Hall of Interpretors, Shisk, Turvin, Planet Tarizon.
Lorina Lance stood in front of the media camera and adjusted her hair. A white light came on and a digital readout began the countdown 3, 2, 1. She smiled brightly.
“Good morning, this is Lorina Lance reporting on a dark, cloudless day in Shisk, the capital city of Soni, Turvin, where the fate of the Nanomite life-form hangs in the balance. Ironically the Nanomites built this very structure dedicated to the pursuit of justice, where it will be determined today whether or not they too may enjoy the rights guaranteed by the Supreme Mandate, the foundation upon which our world is governed. The Seven Counselors of the Council of Interpreters must make this determination by upholding or overturning the conviction of Sgt. Hirah Zahn for the supreme capital offense of genocide.
“Earlier this year Sgt. Zahn was in charge of the relocation of a Nanomite construction colony after it had completed the construction of a subtram transfer station in northwest Shisk. It was the beginning of the Unification Holiday and witnesses testified that Sgt. Zahn was anxious to return to his compartment because he had plans to go on holiday with his mate. Unfortunately, when he contacted the closest Nanomite farm he was told it was full. When he tried other farms in the region and was told that they too were full, he apparently determined that there was a surplus of Nanomites and that those in his custody wouldn’t be missed if they should happen to disappear. As the hour got later he became more and more distressed at the thought of missing out on his holiday and having to face the anger of his mate, so he ordered his men to fumigate the new structure with a chemical that he knew would kill the Nanomites waiting within for transport. He may have gotten away with his crime had not the Nanomite’s Chief Swarmmaster Allo reported the missing swarms and demanded they be found. After it was discovered what had happened, Sgt. Zahn was arrested and charged with capital genocide. He was convicted and is now pursuing his last appeal.
“For those of you who haven’t been to the Hall of the Interpreters, it sits proudly on the tallest hill of Shisk. Raised by the Nanomites in only three cycles, it has been the home of the Counsel of Interpreters since its inception following the unification of Tarizon. As are all Nanomite structures, it is made of Bazillian Crystal which is a hard, durable material that shines quite radiantly even under the toxic clouds that hang as a shroud over Tarizon. Inside there isn’t an empty seat as court’s scribe rises to announce that the session is in order. We now take you to the Great Hall where the Chief Councilor is about to begin.”
“Good Morning,” Councilor Garcia said. “Today we have asked for oral arguments on the matter of the appeal of the final conviction of capital genocide determined by the Supreme Council of the State of Merria in matter number SM 2247, State of Merria vs. Sgt Hirah Zahn. The prosecution and defense will each have 20 loons to make their arguments and all other parties given leave to speak will each be have 10 loons. Please be seated promptly when your time has expired. We will not extend oral arguments beyond today’s session.“The councilor turned to a stout man dressed in a purple robe. “Mr. Sorhn, I believe you will be speaking for the prosecution?”
“That is correct.”
“Then you may proceed.”
“Thank you, Chief Councilor,” Sorhn said as he took the lectern and faced the seven supreme councilors. “There is no dispute that Sgt. Zahn exterminated Swarm 6222 in contravention of the covenant between Central Authority and the Nanomite Colonies of Tarizon. Let’s get that out of the way at the outset. Sgt. Zahn has not disputed it, nor has he shown any remorse for his actions. The question that this supreme council must consider is whether the Nanomite population of Tarizon enjoys the protections provided to other life forms on Tarizon under the Supreme Mandate. We don’t believe this would be an issue had contact with the Nanomite life form taken place before the ratification of the Supreme Mandate. For anyone who has studied the life of the author of the Supreme Mandate, our beloved Sandee Brahm, knows that he not only championed equal rights for all the races of humans on Tarizon but also for other life forms such as the Rhutz and the Drogals. And why would he not also cherish a life form that has the capacity to enter into covenants with Central Authority and to build not only this magnificent hall, but thousands of other similar structures throughout the five continents of Tarizon?
“Sgt. Zahn must pay for his crimes against the Nanomites and the people of Tarizon. His punishment must be most severe in order to deter others who would circumvent the Supreme Mandate and the laws of God and Sandee. If we allow Sgt. Zahn to get away with this horrific act who will be next—the Mutants? We’ve already heard the Purists call for their extermination. If we allow the genocide of the Nanomites, what is our argument against the murdering the Mutants. They are human and only different from ourselves because of Central Authorities inability a provide a safe environment after the great volcanic eruptions. There are stories, which I fear are true , that the Purists would have the Nanomites and the Mutants work as slaves rather than under a covenant.”
Councilor Thoripides stood and glared at Sorhn. “Wild speculation and slander will get you nowhere with this Court,” Thoripides warned. “How do you dispute the clear language of the Supreme Mandate that ‘...all citizens of Tarizon shall enjoy the fundamental rights herein enumerated... and ...all citizens of the 29 states shall be citizens of Tarizon?’ Since you admit that the very existence of the Nanomites was unknown when the Supreme Mandate was ratified, they obviously could not have been citizens of any of the 29 states and therefore can not be citizens of Tarizon today.”
“Councilor Thoripides,” Sorhn replied, “the Nanomites should be considered citizens because the author of the Supreme Mandate intended all life forms to be afforded liberty and civil rights under the new order. His writings and teachings are clear on this point.”
“His other writings are irrelevant,” Thoripides scowled. “We are bound only to consider the actual content of the Supreme Mandate, for that is what was ratified by the citizens of Tarizon.”
The Court Scribe stood and motioned that time was up. The gallery erupted in excited chatter as Sorhn returned to his seat. The bailiff stood and admonished the crowd to be quiet or be arrested and escorted to a detention center for negative stimulation therapy.
Garcia looked at Sorhn. “Thank you, Mr. Sorhn. Now I believe it is time for the accused’s defender, Mr. Sorrbeth, to speak. Mr. Sorrbeth, you have 20 loons.”
Sorrbeth rose slowly. He was a tall, imposing man who exuded great confidence. He strolled swiftly to the podium. “Chief Councilor, members of the Supreme Council of Interpreters. It is with great humility that I speak before such a distinguished body. Councilor Thoripides has already spoken directly to the heart of my client’s case. The Supreme Mandate does not protect Nanomites. That is clean and simple. The Merria Court did not have the right to try Sgt. Zahn for genocide. Genocide by definition is the mass murder of a large number of people. People historically have referred to human beings. Under the Supreme Mandate, however, any life form that enjoyed citizenship in one or more of the 29 original states ratifying the Supreme Mandate would qualify. These other life forms would include the rhutz who were granted citizenship in seven nations, the Drogals who were citizens of Muhl and Ock Mezan, and the Dalo who inhabit their own island nation by that same name. The Nanomites were not citizens of any state when the Supreme Mandate was ratified.”
Councilor Garcia sat up in his seat and peered out at Sorrbeth. “Mr. Sorrbeth. Do you deny that the Nanomites are sapient beings—that they are self aware and capable of rational thought and communication with human beings?”
“I concede nothing, Your Honor. I have never seen or talked to a Nanomite. Only a few claim to have done so and then only telepathically. I don’t deny that they are good at building their crystal structures, but how do we know whether they do it voluntarily or if Threebeard and the other handlers have simply learned how to train them and modify their behavior?”
“If you could talk to a Nanomite swarm master today, would that change your mind?” Garcia asked.
Sorrbeth chuckled. “Certainly, but we know that is not possible. They can’t even be seen by the naked eyes. Even if one shouted, we couldn’t hear him.”
The gallery erupted in laughter. Councilor Garcia grinned. “Well, Mr. Sorrbeth. Don’t leave after you’ve finished making your argument today. I believe there is a Nanomite who has asked to be heard.”
Sorrbeth’s eyes widened. “If it is true , I wouldn’t miss it, but I fear this appearance will be but another trick of the mutant Threebeard.”
The scribe stood up indicating Sorrbeth’s time had elapsed. He returned to this seat and Councilor Garcia looked down at his docket sheet. “The court will now hear from Jondrel Bohm, known to most of us as the mutant Threebeard.”
The tall, stout, three-headed mutant stood up and walked slowly to the podium. His three heads were joined above the ears so only his three bearded chins revealed that his gigantic head was actually three joined as one. It was said that Threebeard was the most intelligent being on Tarizon. Not only was he psychic but telepathic and telekinetic as well. It was no secret that Central Authority feared him as he was unofficial leader of the mutant population that lived unprotected outside the urban domes. As he walked by Sorrbeth’s seat, a glass of water tumbled over and spilled its contents in Sorrbeth’s lap. The gallery erupted in laughter. Sorrbeth stood up and raised his fist at Threebeard.
Councilor Thoripides became rigid in his chair and glared at Threebeard. “Let me remind you this is the highest court of the land, Mr. Bohm. We will not tolerate childish antics.”
“Yet you will tolerate scoundrels who openly condone genocide and even suggest it would be a remedy for the millions of mutants who are suffering outside the domes and taxing the resources of Central Authority.”
“Let’s not get off the subject,” Councilor Garcia interjected. “That is not an issue before this court today.”
“My apologies, Chief Councilor. Since I am one of the few people who communicate with the Nanomites I wanted to tell the Court what I have learned about them. My contact is with a Nanomite swarm master who I call Allo. This came about actually at the request of Central Authority. After the cataclysmic volcanic eruptions that devastated Tarizon less than twenty cycles ago, the construction industry was in ruins and Central Authority was looking for a way to rejuvenate it. The Nanomites were well known for the crystal palaces that they inhabited in their desert homelands, yet no one knew how they did it. The one thing that was clear was these Nanomites were geniuses when it came to engineering. It was thought if communication could be established, that perhaps the Nanomites could build other structures, structures that could be used my humans.
“Since it was apparent the Nanomites swarm masters could communicate instantaneously with their individual Nanomite workers, it was thought that perhaps communication could be established telepathically. So, I was asked to attempt to make contact. It was a long and arduous task, the details of which I couldn’t begin to explain in the short time I have to speak today, but the important thing is I did make contact. It was an exciting moment when I first felt Allo’s presence in my mind. He had resisted me because he had no understanding of human life or any life form other than his own.
“Let me tell you about the Nanomites. They are gentle, caring, beings. They have no politics because all act for the benefit of each other. Any one of them would sacrifice their life for the good of the swarm. There is no conflict, discord or jealousy in a Nanomite swarm. They simply don’t understand these concepts. Everyone looks out for each other in their constant battle for survival.”
“Excuse me,” Councilor Thoripides interrupted. “From your explanation these Nanomites seem to me to be just another insect who live by instinct and don’t have the ability for rational thought.”
“Oh, but that is not the case at all, Councilor. Allo has emotions. He worries about his swarm and the other swarms in the colonies. He communicates with other swarm masters and they discuss options and make plans for how best to make their colonies thrive. They are as much a sapient life form as human beings.”
Councilor Thoripides shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Threebeard, if I can call you that—”
“Yes, please do, everyone does.”
“Threebeard, how do we know you’re not making all of this up? I know you’ve been able to get the Nanomites to build magnificent structures all over Tarizon and I commend you for that, but many believe you have simply learned how to control and manipulate them. How do you respond to that?”
The scribe stood up and Councilor Garcia smiled. “I think, Councilor, that our next speaker may be able to answer that question better than anyone. Threebeard, would you ask Allo of the Nanomites to make his appearance.”
Threebeard nodded and closed his eyes. Councilor Thoripides snarled, “What is this?”
“Patience,” the Chief Councilor said. “Give him a moment.”
“Yes, I have him,” Threebeard said without opening his eyes.
The Chief Councilor nodded. “Please translate his thoughts.”
“I object!” Councilor Thoripides scowled. “This is outrageous.”
Councilor Garcia sighed. “I suspected you would object, so I polled the other councilors and four of us want to hear from Allo of the Nanomites. Do I need to take a formal vote?”
Thoripides sat back in his chair and shook his head. “All right, then. Let’s hear from Mr. Allo. Is that his first name or last?”
“It is my only name. We have no marriage or parentage. Every Nanomite is identical with the exception of the swarm masters who are blessed with power of thought.”
“Allo,” Councilor Garcia asked. “Why have your swarms built so many magnificent palaces, halls and buildings all over Tarizon?”
“Because we have agreed to a covenant for such construction work with the Central Authority. We must honor our word.”
“But what do you get for all this hard work? From what I have heard it so little in comparison to what us humans get?”
“What seems like nothing to you is monumental to our colonies. Before we knew of your human existence, life was very perilous for us. To thrive as a people we must have certain chemical elements and specific environmental conditions. Only a few places on Tarizon are habitable for us. The Covenant makes it possible for us to migrate and multiply. Our colonies have increased a hundred fold since we signed the covenant. Like humans and all life-forms our most important instinct is for survival and increasing our swarms. It is our ultimate objective to make sure Nanomites never become extinct.”
“So, tell us how you feel about Sgt. Zahn and what he did to Swarm 6222.”
“At times I feel a great sadness and depression over the loss of so many of my brothers and sisters. Other times I feel regret that we came to know the human race. But mostly I feel outrage that someone could murder an entire swarm of Nanomites and feel no remorse. I wonder if other human beings could do the same thing.”
“I assure you that is a unique case, Allo. We feel your outrage and that is why the Merria Tribunal convicted Sgt. Zahn of this heinous crime. Unfortunately, under the Supreme Mandate he is entitled to an appeal. I promise you I will urge my colleagues to uphold that appeal.”
“Thank you, Chief Councilor. You are an honorable man and I hope the others who are deciding this appeal are as just and honorable, but I have my reservations judging by the arguments I’ve heard today.”
“I understand, but the right to speak freely is protected under the Supreme Mandate and noone should be chastised for exercising that right.”
“Then I will speak freely. If Sgt. Zahn is not executed for his crimes, we will consider the covenant breached and no longer honor it. And if there are any further acts of genocide against the Nanomites, we will take appropriate measures to protect ourselves and punish those who have done us harm.”
The gallery erupted in hushed conversation. Council Thoripides eyes narrowed. “Are you threatening us?” he asked.
“No,” Allo replied evenly. “I’m simply stating a fact which is my right as a citizen of Tarizon.”
The scribe stood up and Threebeard opened his eyes. Councilor Garcia coughed nervously. “Well, thank you Threebeard. Our final speaker will be Senator Videl Lai.”
A tall, muscular man walked deliberately up to the lectern. He didn’t bow but rather glared at the Chief Councilor. “You may proceed,” the councilor advised.
“Since my time is short I will not belabor issues that have already been addressed. What I wanted to warn the Supreme Councilors about today is the growing threat that the Nanomites pose to Central Authority and the human population of Tarizon. Are you aware that many Nanomites swarms are left in each structure after they build it? They will tell you these are maintenance swarms, but I have it on good authority that they are actually spies for militant mutants who are raising armies to overthrow Central Authority and seize control of the urban domes.”
The Chief Councilor shook his head. “Senator, do you have an argument relevant to the issues before this tribunal? We are not interested in your paranoia.”
Videl Lai’s eyes narrowed. “If you insist on ignoring the truth and won’t heed my warning, then I just want to say that, as far as I am concerned, Sgt. Zahn is a hero and a patriot and I applaud what he has done.”
Many in the gallery cheered Videl as he returned to his seat, but most just sat in shock pondering his words. The Chief Councilor spoke up. “The council will take this matter under consideration and have a decision by the end of the day. Thank you,” he said and stood up.
Councilor Thoripides leaned back in his chair and laughed. “Threebeard, you’re a good actor. . . . Allo of the Nanomites. What a joke!” Just then the councilor’s chair collapsed and he fell hard to the floor. He screamed and then scrambled to his feet staring at the pile of saw dust which was all that was left of his seat. Councilor Garcia stifled a laugh, but few in the gallery restrained their amusement over the Nanomite leader’s clear message.
The media camera came back on and Lorina Lance was back in front of it. “All right, the council has left the courtroom and will now deliberate in private before taking a final vote. You saw that Chief Councilor had mustered enough votes to let Allo be heard. There is no guarantee, however, that he will be able to muster the four votes necessary to uphold Sgt. Zahn’s conviction. In addition to Councilor Thoripides, two other councilors are staunch allies of Videl Lai and the Purist Party. The other four councilors are known to be independent with allegiances to no one in particular. Accordingly, the vote could go either way and since there is so much at stake deliberations may extend late into the night.
“If Sgt. Zahn is convicted he will flogged, hung by his wrist in the public square, and then given a lethal injection. Experts tell me the flogging and public display is to insure the condemned suffers great pain and feels the public’s outrage. Just after nightfall he’ll be terminated, his body incinerated and his remains buried in an unmarked grave.
“While we are waiting for the decision of the Supreme Council of the Interpreters we will return to our regular programming with a promise that coverage will resume just as soon as the council reconvenes.”
The coverage ended at 1400 and resumed six and a half kyloons later. Lorina Lance was back in front of the media camera when it went live.
“This is Lorina Lance back live. We’ve just been advised that the council has made a decision and I am making my way back into the Great Hall. Councilor Garcia is looking rather somber which could be good news for Sgt. Zahn. Apparently Councilor Thoripides will read the decision.”
“Citizens of Tarizon. After careful consideration of Sgt. Hirah Zahn’s appeal of his conviction of genocide rendered by the Merria Council of Interpreters, it is our opinion that the conviction should be and is hereby reversed. After careful study and deliberation, it is clear that Nanomites are not persons within the meaning of the Supreme Mandate, nor have they ever been citizens of any of the 29 consolidated states. Therefore, Sgt. Zahn shall be released and fully reinstated with back pay to his position in Tarizon’s Global Forces.”
The camera switched back to Lorina Lance. “Well there you have it. Sgt. Zahn’s conviction has been overturned and as we speak he is being congratulated by Senator Videl Lai and others who have shown their support for him since his arrest. This is a difficult day for the mutant Threebeard and, of course, the Nanomites. It is unclear if they will indeed reject their covenant with Central Authority, but their leader Allo seemed pretty adamant that there would be no further construction by Nanomite swarms. He even suggested the Nanomites would find a way to exact revenge for the genocide of Swarm 6222. What that means is anyone’s guess, but I’m sure Sgt. Zahn will be pondering that question carefully tonight when he rejoins his family.”
“This is Lorina Lance reporting from the courtroom of the Supreme Council of the Interpreters. Good night.”
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|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|your story telling ability continues to increase, please sir, may we have some more|