The Great Confrontation

    Part 16

    by DarkMark  and Dannell Lites

“How does the accused plead?”

“Guilty with mitigating circumstances, Mediator,” said Adam, forthrightly.

Theo Siegel, the Mediator, shifted his gaze to the family of Sy Kent.  “Is this agreeable to the accused and her family?”

Irinia Kent said, “One moment to consult our advocate, Mediator.”  

“Granted,” said Theo.

Irinia, Sy, and George went to the back of the room to huddle with Adam.  The usual rule of honor was for the mediator and others present not to use their super-hearing on private conversations in these sessions, but nobody could tell if somebody did or didn’t.  Irinia, facing away from Theo, said to Adam, “You’re doubledamned insane!”

“Arguably,” said Adam, keeping his features neutral.

“Mom, please,” said Sy, clutching Irinia’s arm.

George broke in.  “Adam, what the hell is this?  Why are you sticking your El-nose in this?  You should be on the other side.”

“Precisely,” said Adam.  “I should.  And don’t you think the Mediator and company would think so, too?”

“Start being understandable,” said Irinia.  “Now.”

“It looks best to have one of my clan on your side right now,” said Adam.  “I have a plan.  It may get us the best results.  Trust me, and let me talk.  Will you do that?”

“What are you going to say?”  Sy was the speaker, looking up at Adam with more than a hint of desperation.

He put his hand on her shoulder.  “Something that may keep you from a Gold K treatment.  What do you say?”

After a pause, Sy Kent said, “I’m willing.”

George looked at them, then shook his head.  “Go ahead, if you think you can.”

“George,” hissed Irinia.

Her husband looked at her and said the only thing that ever triumphed over Irinia: nothing at all.

An eternity of three seconds later, Irinia said, “You’d better have the mouth of Judge Dug-Les when he was a trial lawyer.”

“I’ll do all right on my own,” said Adam.

The four of them turned back to face the Mediator and the four-man council.  Theo Siegel said, “Is the defendant satisfied with her choice of counsel?”

Setting her face in iron, Irinia said, “She is, Mediator.”

“Very well, then.  Proceed.”

One of the councilmen stood and read from a crawlscreen in his hand.  “Defendant Sybilla Kent is charged as follows: assault and battery upon Katherine de Ka’an on June 7, 2499.  Action was registered in part by cambots on the scene.  Council has seen this recording.  The argument of Tynth De Ka’an will be heard at a later time, through proxy or by deposition.  Does defense wish to present an argument?”

“We do, Councilman,” said Adam.

“Proceed,” repeated Theo.

“It’s true, Sy Kent did get into a fight with Katherine de Ka’an,” Adam began, clasping his hands behind his back.  “Nobody’s going to try and debate that here.  The record, as council has noted, exists.  But not all of that was on record.  Was it?”

“No,” admitted Hale Evan Z336, one of the Councilmen.  “The cambots were drawn by their motion sensors after the fight had started.”

“Exactly,” said Adam.  “So.  No scenes of provocation were recorded.  We don’t know how the fight started.  Do we?”

Theo Siegel sighed.  “Advocate, your client has already admitted striking the first blow.  And we’ve seen her strike the last.”

“Of course,” said Adam.

“There are also witnesses, including some of the clansmen at this table, to an incident several weeks back on Mars.  An incident in which Tynth Kent punched Tynth de Ka’an.”

“Agreed,” said Adam.  George and Irinia tried not to show tension.  Sy just clenched her hands together and kept looking at her defender.

“So what is your defense of Tynth Kent?”

“Consider what you have just said, Mediator,” Adam stated.  “Sybilla Kent had already knocked Katherine de Ka’an down, some weeks before.  There was hostility between the two of them.  Both parties knew that.  Why, then, did Katherine go to see her at George Kent’s estate?  At a time in which she knew that neither of Sy’s parents would be home?”

“Any number of reasons,” said Theo, a bit gruffly. “To apologize, perhaps.  To deliver a message.  Until we hear de Ka’an’s testimony, we won’t know.”

“And you probably won’t even then,” said Adam.  “You know that the Family is, despite its great power, only human.  And humans can bend the truth.”

“You’re suggesting...”

“As easily as you or I might bend a thermosteel bar, Mediator.”

One could detect an uneasy shifting of a couple of the Councilmen in their seats.  There was a lot more sympathy there for Kath than Sy.  To suggest that Tynth de Ka’an might lie, especially under oath, was pretty close to a damnable offense.

“But, perhaps, not consciously,” amended Adam.

“You’ve dug yourself an awfully deep hole, advocate,” said Theo.  “I certainly hope you can fly out of it.  Make your argument. Fully.”

“Thank you, Mediator.  Now, one fact that de Ka’an will undoubtedly bring up in her statement is this: she and I had been having an affair, in years past.  Now, though I hate to admit it, rumor has it that I am romantically linked to...Sybilla Kent.”

Five pairs of ears were trained on Adam’s heart and pulserate.  It remained steady.  Sy’s was booming, but that was understandable.  The advocate went on.

“Rumors have a way of spreading quickly in the Family,” said Adam.  “Sometimes they...inflame hearts, passions...drive one to do what one would not normally consider.  Also, consider this: Sybilla had humiliated Katherine de Ka’an at the Mars reunion, as you noted, by punching her and knocking her down.  In front of a large part of the Family.  Now, Katherine de Ka’an is not just any clanswoman.  She is, as we both know, a descendant of Kara Zor-El, the original Supergirl.  Has she ever wanted to don the cape of her ancestress?  We don’t know.  We may never know.  But, regardless, I submit that for a woman of such lineage, an action such as that would not only be an embarrassment.  It would be an insult.”

Adam stopped, eyeing each of the Councilmen in turn.  He, too, was of a singular lineage, and they knew it.  He resumed his speech.  

“Is it not possible that such an insult, combined with the thought that Sybilla Kent might be keeping company with a man who had once been her...lover...might have driven Katherine de Ka’an to go to George Kent’s home and, knowingly or unknowingly, provoke Sybilla into a fight?  With the thought that, perhaps this time, Katherine might be the one to land a lucky punch?  Or that her very fury might be enough to make her the victor this time?  Is this not possible, Councilmen?”

Sy breathed in, very quietly.  Her pulse began to calm.

“We don’t know, and we may never know.  Katherine herself may not know by now.  The memory, even those such as our own, does play tricks. Tricks of perception, even when we can recall the exact images, the exact words spoken.  My sympathies are with Katherine.  She is, as I have admitted, my former lover.  She is a woman of high standing in the Family.  Yet, for her to contact Sybilla Kent alone, with no parents there to restrain her, when Sybilla had already punched her...does any other scenario make sense?  No sane person is going to put herself in that kind of jeopardy again, unless, perhaps, she thinks that this time, she’s going to even things out for herself.  Unless her motivation is----revenge.

“Now.  Having said that, let me outline another possible scenario.  Not as likely, but still possible.  Let’s say that Tynth de Ka’an does not go to the George Kent home with thoughts of physical violence on her mind.  Let’s entertain the possibility that there might be another motivation.  The rumor of Sybilla’s involvement with myself.  Mediator, Katherine is a fine woman.  I can testify to that, personally.  But she does have a tendency towards jealousy, if only slightly, in my perception.  Suppose she simply resented the thought that Sybilla Kent, the young woman who had knocked her down at a Family gathering, was keeping company with a man who...there is no other way to say this...once shared her bed?

“What if Katherine de Ka’an’s purpose in going to George Kent’s house was merely to, on the surface, mend fences, but, deeper below, to poison Sy’s mind against her alleged current lover?  What if de Ka’an came there, made certain accusations or even allegations, and provoked Sybilla that way?  Just because the first blow was verbal, does that make it any less of a blow?

“I am not saying, Mediator, that either of these scenarios did happen.  But I am saying that they could have.  And I will repeat, memory being as subjective as it is, and the only witnesses being Katherine de Ka’an and Sybilla Kent themselves, even they might not be able to say accurately what begun the fight.

“All I am saying is: we do not know.  And we cannot know.  We do know they had a fight.  We do know Sybilla beat Katherine badly.  But we also know that it isn’t always the smartest thing to mouth off to someone who is stronger than you, and who has a temper.  If you dare someone to punch you in the face, and he does, what grounds do you have to complain when it hurts?  ‘Oh, I didn’t think you’d really do it?’  Ridiculous.  But I’ve seen similar things happen, more than once.  I submit that the Councilmen have, too.

“So, since only the results of the fight, and not the motivation of the fight, can be known, I ask for clemency on behalf of Sybilla Kent.  I ask that she undergo a program of rehabilitative therapy...and, moreover, one to be administered by myself, with Sybilla in my care.”

Looking at Adam, Irinia Kent had to keep her mouth from dropping open.  She kept her hands on Sy’s shoulders and prayed to whatever God might be conveniently taking prayer requests at the moment for another lucky break.

Silence shrouded the room for another long moment.  Then Theo Siegel said, “Is that the end of your statement, Advocate?”

“It is, Mediator.”

“And is the penalty, if prescribed, agreeable to the defendant and her parents?”

“It–“, began Irinia.

George overrode her.  “It is, Mediator.”  Sy stiffened a bit, then relaxed.

“The Council will not render judgment until after the statement of Katherine de Ka’an is heard, not excluding the possibility of further investigative procedure, including verbal interviews, forensic examinations, and possibly Total Recall sessions,” said Theo.  “At such time as the Council renders judgment, the offer of the Advocate will be considered, but not necessarily actuated.  Penalties for the accused may range from, but are not limited to, financial reparation, rehabilitation sessions, exile from other members of the Family, exile to Rokyn, forced powerloss through Gold Kryptonite exposure, and exile to the Phantom Zone.  Does the family of the accused understand these penalties?”

“We do, Mediator,” said George Kent, one hand on Irinia’s shoulder, making a human chain with her to Sy.

“Until such time as decision is reached, the accused must remain upon the planet Terra.  There will be no contact between her and the accuser, or members of her immediate Clan.  If this condition is breached, physically or otherwise, the penalty is automatic.  Does the family of the accused understand these penalties?”

“We do, Mediator,” George repeated.  Sy wanted to reach out her hand to Adam, but just didn’t dare.

“So be it,” said the Mediator.  “This Council will reconvene at a later date to pass judgment.  The family of the accused will be duly notified.  Adjourned.”

Adam bobbed his head, briefly.  “Thank you, Mediator.”

Theo looked at him, saying nothing.  Adam Kent herded the other three out the door.

After even their enhanced hearing told them the four had left, Hale turned to Theo.  “Well, what do you think?”

Theo took his time about replying.  “I think that, somewhere down the line, someone else in that group is going to be standing before us, and not as an advocate.  Maybe more than one.”

“Rao help us all,” said Hale.

“If he will, boy,” said Theo.  “If he will.”

    -S-

In the past few weeks, Fin-El had learned to read LoriLe much better than at first, which was only natural.  Even though the woman wore a Slug getup, she wasn’t without her charm.  You just had to dig for it sometimes.

Right now the two of them were on their backs, floating above the skies of Metropolis on a rented Hover Cushion.  The gases and anti-grav of the inflated bed below them, a screen over them that could be opaqued to conceal them as easily as it was now made transparent to let them see the night sky, well, it was something special for a date.  A motion sensor on all sides kept them away from other skycraft.  

Sy was wearing a tight black garment that bared her legs, which were pale and beautiful.  A couple of short decorative chains were wrapped about each of her upper arms, and her hair and eyeliner were, as usual, black.  But he’d grown used to that.  Sheol, he thought she looked beautiful in it, despite it all.

What she really thought of his bourgeois outfit, he had no clue.  But she still liked to snuggle, and that crossed all cultural boundaries.

Right now, Fin’s arm was around Lori’s slim body and her head was on his shoulder.  “This is boring,” she said.

“Most boring thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.

“Bet you say that to all the girls.”

“No, all of them say it to me.”

She walked her fingers up his breastbone.  “So many stars up there.  We could see each of them as if we were only feet away from them.  But I am most indifferent to them like this.  I suppose you don’t agree.”

“I am even more indifferent to them than you are.”

“Flatterer.”

“I am more capable of indifference than you would believe.”

“I don’t believe you.”  He smirked.

LoriLe lurched on top of him, pressed her body to his, covered his mouth with her own, and gave him a kiss Earthwomen could only dream of.  Subjectively, it seemed to last for hours.  The screen above them was still transparent and neither of them gave a damn.

When they finally broke the kiss, Lori held herself above him and smirked.  “How indifferent were you to that?”

“Oh, that’s not the question,” he said.  “The question is, how indifferent will you be to this?”

He reversed their positions.  Despite herself, Lori squealed and laughed.  He managed to get one hand out far enough to touch the opaqueing switch.

Later, with their clothes at a heap under their feet, they converted the screen to one-way and looked out at the stars again.  Lori sighed.  “You know the only thing that makes me sad about the stars?”

“What, hon?”

“That we can’t see the one that held Krypton.”

That much was true.  Krypton had orbited a sun in a different part of the galaxy.  The place where it had been could only be accessed easily through space warps, or a WarPort.  From this angle, they couldn’t see the star that had hosted their extinct homeworld.

“I understand, Lori,” said Fin.  He kissed her ear, gently.

“Nor can we see Rokyn.”

“No.  We can’t.”  Rokyn, the world settled by Kandorians, was native to another universe and only appeared in theirs when it phased in, once every few years.  But it, too, could be reached through dimensional warps, or a WarPort.

“We’re just Earthers, Fin,” said Lori.  “Aliens on Earth.  We pretend to be them, but we’re really not.  We could be the biggest boon to them ever.  But we’re not allowed to.”

“I don’t know what to say to you,” Fin replied.  “You know how the Family is about these things.  You know what the rules are.”

“Fin.”

“What, Lori?”

“You know what happened to Katherine?”

“How could I not know?”

“I want to go to Rokyn, Fin.  I want both of us to go there.  I want to talk to Katherine.  I do, Fin.”

He was silent.  Finally, when he realized she wasn’t going to say anything, he murmured, “And then what?”

“And then I’ll want to have a talk with Sy.”

    (next chapter)

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