It was the day before the autumnal dance. The streamers were tacked up in the traditional green and silver that were St. Gabriel’s Academy’s colors. The cheerleaders were busy at tables selling tickets for the dance and the senior athletes were busy hazing and giving the new students a hard time. Things were all in all normal in the city Gildedtongue worked at. The chakat purred to hirself as shi sipped from hir cup of tea.
The early morning newspaper gripped in hir other hand as shi made way to hir classroom. Though shi had the first hour of hir day open, shi was one of the few teachers who actually arrived early, and stayed late. 06:43 read the chronometer at the front of the class. "Damn, thirteen minutes late," the brown furred felinoid thought to hirself while heading towards hir desk. Hir prehensile tail tucking in chairs to the student desks idly as shi moved. Sitting down shi ran both hir hands through hir red mane of hair, finding hir scalp to relieve an itch on the back of hir head.
"Today is going to be an interesting day" shi said aloud to no one in particular. This only reminded hir of an ancient Chinese curse. Booting up hir computer shi checked hir mail. Seven students writing in some excuse that they couldn’t attend hir public speaking class for some reason or another. Not surprisingly, all seven students were registered to present their second speeches today. Looking over hir notes, the cancellations left only Dreamweaver to do hir presentation. Dreamweaver was one of two chakats in the entire of school population, the other being Gildy, of course. The common species has given the two a special kinship to each other. Hir parents took very good care of hir, except they were constantly busy during the day, so the young chakat went to the longtail for advice often. Gildedtongue, in exchange for the advice, simply enjoyed the platonic friendship the youth gave hir. 63 might not be too old for any chakat, but shi’ll be the first to admit it is very lonely to live as long without a mate.
Gildedtongue’s reminiscence was cut short by the shattering of glass. A baseball bat was being pulled out of the window, as the startled centauroid looked up. Shi dashed out to the door, wincing at the shards cutting into hir bare feet as shi wrenched the door open, looking into the hallway. Hundreds of students filled the hall, milling towards their first class, and the perpetrator was nowhere in sight. Shi pulled back and sighed, closing hir door again gently, as not to let any more glass shower. Limping to the desk shi called maintenance to come by and clean up the glass and put up some cardboard on the wreckage.
After the Gene Wars, America lay mostly in ruins, taking the fullest brunt of what could be easily called the third World War. It was the most targeted country for total land assault. Reason being that whilst the country set itself up well to defend against mass destructive warfare and terrorism, it lacked the ground force to counter an invasion, an ingenious attack through the Yukon of Canada, into Washington, then traveling eastward in its assault. Thus, those with enough time to flee took refuge in the allied countries of Australia and the United Kingdom. It was much to the shame of the American Refugees when it was the French who liberated New York and Washington D.C. Having been the focus of such a massacre gave way to new leaders with old policies. Just like how Germany reacted to the failure of the First World War, Americans in the southern sector, which became the Holy Christian Kingdom of North America (HCKNA) blamed the morphs for their problems, and the Humans First movement got its first foothold in that country.
Certain religious leaders of all walks damned and cursed the morphs. Legal and political measures were used to prosecute them to beyond the full extent of the law, stating plainly that all rights and privileges of the new Kingdom were reserved solely for people, not animals, or their kin. It wasn’t until the formation of the Federation of Planets, which managed to calm the hateful policies of the time of troubles, and give morphs the joys, and benefits, that were to be shared by all living things.
"Old ideologies die hard." Gildedtongue mused as shi reached down to hir handpaw, yanking out a sizable shard of glass from the pad. A number of napkins were applied to curb the bleeding. Shi had to work quickly to remove all of the glass from hir wounds. The Turners thought they were giving chakats an advantage to their regenerative properties, however it did make cleaning small wounds a bear, especially non volatile substances like Glass, which could be lodged in hir skin for years. Shi finished hir conversation with the janitors and hung up, letting out a sigh into the air. A knock was heard on hir door and Gildy instinctively responded, "Come in!" but quickly added, "Watch out for the glass!"
A tiger striped head peeked into the room and nodded, giving a short leap into the room, over the crystalline dust, then nodded in achievement. Dreamweaver had a very unique fur pattern, as shi had some normal tiger stripes going vertically along hir body, but also patches of fur that moved horizontally along hir fur, making hir look like a loosely woven tapestry. Shi padded up to the older chakat’s desk with a grin that reminded Gildy of a kitten with his first mouse clutched in his teeth. Gildy decided to bite and cocked hir head, "So, what’s so important that you’re missing your first class to talk to me, Dreamy?"
"Guess who’s going to the dance tomorrow?" the student grinned, closing hir eyes in hir smile.
Gildedtongue, much like shi always does, played with the conversation like a kitten with a moth, batting around before delivering the fatal blow. Shi rolled hir eyes a little, "I dunno, some new pop band?"
Dreamweaver smirked and shook hir head, "Gah, Gildedtongue. You’re such a meanie at times. Me! Of course."
Gildedtongue gave a soft nod as shi looked at the younger ‘taur, "Well, congratulations. So who is the lucky guy or gal who got to escort you?"
"Jacob Miller, you know, the captain on the rugby team? He he, he is so hot out there on the field."
Gildedtongue furrowed hir eyebrows on hearing this. Shi wasn’t completely against the idea of Dreamy dating an athlete, but shi had bad vibes coming off that particular one. His record was completely clean, however, so shi dismissed it as pure irrational paranoia. Hir face softened at the empathetic barrage of good feelings from the teenager. Shi smiled and gave another nod, "Well, congratulations, Dreamy. I hope you have a good time."
"Thank you. So, will you be attending it as well?"
"Of course I will." Gildedtongue smiled smugly, "I’d never turn down an opportunity for extra money and hours. I’m rather mercenary."
Dreamweaver giggled loudly, "He he, well, that’s good. Going with anyone?"
Shi shook hir head, "No no, just little ol’ me. That’s good enough though." Gildedtongue shrugged, looking up at the ceiling again.
Dreamweaver leaned in close over the desk. Hir black facial fur getting a red hue of blush, as shi whispered softly, "Well, Gildy, you know, if you ever get too lonely, I wouldn’t mind if…"
The young chakat was cut short by the banging of Gildy’s paw on the surface of hir desk. The yellow muzzled feline swallowing a growl, "That’s enough, Dreamweaver! You know as well as I do the legal ramifications of such actions. Not to mention the breaking of the student/teacher relationship." Gildedtongue calmed down as shi saw hir student’s fur prickling up on end and the buds of tears forming at the corners of hir eyes. The older chakat let out a long, slow sigh, regaining hir composure, "I’m sorry. I thank you for your concern over my well being, however, you know as well as I do what the Pope thinks of underage sexual activity." The leonine chakat chuckled to hirself, "or any sexual activity that doesn’t result in bouncy baby humans, for that matter."
"I know, but, well, in Chakona…"
"Trust me, I know Dreamy. I know. No one would notice, or care. But even then I would refuse, so long as you were my student. If you weren’t in my class, that would be different. But, firstly, you’re in my class; secondly, this is the HoCK on Terra. And lastly," Gildedtongue looked at hir clock again, "Our class starts in five minutes." Gildedtongue looked over at the door again. The glass was still all over the floor, even though it was over an hour since shi called. Shi kept a broom and dustpan for this reason, sweeping up the brunt of the glass, and then laying down a thick carpet for the non-shod students, leaving the door open.
The day went on rather uneventful for the rest of the day. Students came, presented, and left. After the final class Gildedtongue took the recordings and the notes shi made and started to critique and grade each student. At 17:45 shi finally finished all the paperwork and left the school for the day, catching the bus home. HCKNA Terran buses were almost considered torture devices for most ‘taurs. Each had a section at the back for four leggers, but were rarely maintained, or cleaned off. Thus Gildedtongue stood in the aisle at the back through hir short journey. Luckily the commute was only an hour to hir apartment.
The two bedroom flat was suitable for any bachelor. A full sized kitchen greeted the eyes of anyone coming in the door. An electric stove, microwave, and refrigerator were all the appliances the chakat used. The den was just to the door’s right. A small viewscreen, which doubled as a telephone and entertainment TV, hung on the wall. A videogame system hooked up to that. Pillows of all sizes adorned the floor, mostly seated around a short coffee table that served as the main dining table. Gildedtongue took no interest in these as shi pulled off hir shirt, tossing it into the hamper, and then unbuckling hir saddlebags, letting hir books and notes fall with a loud clump on the floor. The bed’s siren call drove the chakat to its downy breast, where shi slept.
Gildedtongue snarled as the alarm clock pulled the chakat out of hir world of imagination. Shi wondered what the hell shi was doing riding a giant llama whilst an unseen announcer described a fictitious relationship hir grandmother had with a minor celebrity. These mental images were quickly done away with upon the introduction of Earl Grey into hir body. There was, as usual, no time for breakfast as shi threw on another shirt, packed a dress shirt for the evening, and bolted for the bus stop.
The bus nearly left hir behind as shi dashed the block between hir dwelling to the mass transit stop. Hir bus card seemed to refuse to be read by the driver’s transaction machine so shi ended up having to pay two hundred and fifty credits to the booth to remain onboard. That fare was twice the amount any biped had to pay, but was justified that since ‘taurs were at least twice any single rider, that they must cost at least twice to maintain their seating. Shi didn’t argue as shi took hir spot near the back of the bus. Shi didn’t have enough time to buy a paper so shi spent the trip simply looking out of the window in quiet admiration and horror of the St. Altretic cityscape.
Most of the walls of the buildings were coated in various designs of graffiti. Curse words, gang names, and other bits of text surrounded images of phalluses and, at times, morphs being hurt in one way or another. The skies offered no different mood to the blue green eyes of the chakat. Skyscrapers speared the heavens like wicked fangs against the blood red sunrise. Billowing from the factories, clouds of midnight attempted to drown the sun’s light. Though the Federation’s environmental bureau registered these emissions as only mildly hazardous and negligible after 24 hours of dissipation, their early morning presence made anyone worry. The city renewed itself into the same desolate abomination it was before the conquer.
Gildedtongue’s mind was snapped back to the present as the school came into view and shi signaled the driver that it was hir stop. The Mass Transportation Vehicle slowed to a crawl, stopping at the front gates of the Academy. Shi started to get off, heading to the door when shi felt something reach under hir tail and touch hir anus and vulva. A toss of fiery strands of hair billowed around hir head as shi snapped hir face around to see who did that. A perverted human chuckled and waved to hir, winking knowingly. Shi swallowed hir initial instincts to haul off and slap the twenty something with hir claws, and with shaky knees walked out of the door.
The initial surprise and adrenaline had worn off quickly, but hir fury stayed as shi marched coldly up the steps and down the halls to hir room, not responding to any ‘hellos’ or ‘good mornings.’ The door was still broken and the glass remained everywhere as shi stepped around it. Shi just wanted to set hir books down, head to the gymnasium, and take the shower shi forgot to earlier.
A fold of cloth greeted hir as shi approached hir desk. A memo rested on top of it with hir name in clear, bold letters.
To: Gildedtongue, chakat
From: Jackson, Earl; Human Resources
Gildedtongue sighed to hirself upon reading the header. Nothing good seemed to come to hir from this department, usually in large complaints to something shi said or did. Shi idly wondered how they could still call themselves ‘Human Resources’ considering the large morphic employment, but a mental reminder telling hir who was on the board of education gave hir that answer. Booting up hir computer shi read the bulk of the memo.
It has come to the attention of the board that the current dress code has needed to be revised to assume a greater sense of decency, especially concerning centauroids such as yourself. On your desk is a new model of loincloth made to cover the genitalia of someone of your build.
We’ve received numerous complaints of third parties concerning the lack of your wearing anything below the waist, and this came as an agreement with the board of directors and the various third parties. We are sure you can understand why many people would be offended by such lack of attire and that you will co-operate completely.
‘If it isn’t some pervert trying to cop a feel, it’s some nervous ninny blushing at the thought that any normal creature has the equipment to procreate,’ Gildedtongue thought to hirself as shi crumpled up the piece of paper. A growl developing in hir lower chest, letting the bass noise fill the room. Shi picked up the article of clothing and stared at it. The fabric on hir fingers already made hir itch around hir rump as shi could tell this was made cheaply, or maybe to be as uncomfortably as mortally possible. Shi made a mental note to give Mr. Jackson a very firm talking to after school.
The trash barrel almost called to hir to dispose of it before anyone came. Maybe shi could feign ignorance that no one gave hir any note or cloth. That idea came to a dead halt as shi noticed in hir inbox a campus wide message instructing all teachers must announce that all ‘taurs must wear the new dress code by Monday. Shi did a mental population of the campus and tried to find out how many other ‘taurs there were on campus. Hirself, Dreamweaver, and a young skunktaur who didn’t seem to really associate with anyone were the only ones who came to mind. Shi checked the calendar to make sure this wasn’t Friday the Thirteenth. Shi was close; it was the Friday the twelfth.
Begrudgingly shi donned on the silly looking thing. On the bright side, this prevented students from ‘accidentally’ dropping pens to get a voyeuristic thrill, but shi’d rather had made this sort of decision herself. The fact that this thing was also the same bright green and silver of the school’s colors, didn’t make hir any happier either. Shi didn’t receive any visitors that morning like yesterday, so shi managed to get a cheap breakfast-like meal from the vending machines at the teacher’s lounge. Pop-tarts and coffee, whilst a traditional breakfast for high school and college students, didn’t do much to ease hir palate.
Third period rolled around as it always does. Shi stood at the board, explaining how public speaking skills could benefit all of them, simply by the additional pay for a high demand skill. The raised hand of a student in the middle of the class interrupted hir. She was the usual cheerleader type, blonde hair in two pigtails, breasts that rivaled the chakat’s, an outfit that revealed where her strong suits were (if HR was concerned with how shi was dressed, why don’t the crack down on these people?), and a plastic smile that never seemed to fade. Gildedtongue was, as always, obliged to answer, hoping that the question actually dealt with the subject. "Yes, Jennifer?"
Shi, of course, was wrong. "My dad’s the minister for Revelation Baptist Church, you know, the one off of Main Street?"
Gildedtongue continued hir struggle to not groan and rub hir temples in agony, but rather attempted to move this statement to something relevant, "Yes, priests, preachers, rabbis, clerics, and all holy men need plenty of public speaking skills. In fact, that is their whole job." Shi turned hir back to the class and raised hir chalk again, but stopped short as hir fur went on edge, hearing Jennifer continue hir ‘question.’
"Well, my daddy says that since Morphs were made by Man that they don’t have a soul and thus can’t be saved. So does that mean that you’ll be burning in Hell for all of eternity?" What surprised Gildedtongue the most was the sincerity of her voice. This didn’t, however, make hir any less angry.
Perhaps it was the punk on the bus this morning. Perhaps it was the loincloth shi was forced to wear. Perhaps it was the fact that the glass still hasn’t been cleaned up, or perhaps it was the fact that Gildedtongue hadn’t been laid in forty some years. But at this point, the chalk between hir fingers cracked in twain. Shi turned around slowly to look at the still clueless set of tits seated in hir class and leaned against hir desk, a cocked eye ridge and a bored expression on hir face. "Is that so? Let me ask you something. If I don’t have a soul, then what, exactly, is going to Hell?" Jennifer obviously didn’t have any comment past her original witticism.
"If you’re going to make stupid comments like that in my class again, Ms. Reynolds, then I hope you at least research some logic to back yourself up. Oh, I forgot, God damns logic and reason to make sure you brainless twits keep in line under your rich priests and any male horny enough to take you as his own personal property in marriage." The chakat turned back to the board to continue writing as shi heard the young girl scramble out of hir classroom.
The official report stated that Gildedtongue regretted immensely what shi said in that class. Off the record, shi couldn’t thank Charles and Kathleen more for that empathetic taste of psychic blood. It wasn’t that Gildedtongue was an atheist or had anything against religion. Shi was, privately, a very devout practitioner of the Christian religion, but didn’t quite agree with the mainstream practices of the faith, especially the ideology of creating the philosophies into a religion of fear and hatred. Whatever happened to ‘Love Thy Neighbor?’
There was a deafening silence that roared in the room. None of the students made a peep through the rest of the class, which suited the chakat fine. Shi was definitely not in a very pleasant or humorous mood as shi lectured through the rest of the class.
Lunch was a more solitary affair than usual. By now hir action in the classroom would have spread like wildfire. Gossip and rumor are exchanged more than ideas and teachings at this school. It’s not like that was the first time a question of that sort has been brought up in any sort of social environment. However, at least to Gildy’s knowledge, it was the first time anyone had actively defended themselves against such accusation in such a manner. The other teachers seemed to avoid the chakat during the lunch hour, more so than usual. Gildedtongue took the hint and gathered hir books quietly and returned to hir room. This was, of course, the time when maintenance decided to clean the floor, making the chakat lose the ability to enter hir ‘fortress of solitude.’
Hir last place of sanctuary was in the library. Shi sat hirself at one of the tables and picked up a discarded datapad. An article about a squabble on a Lunar colony read across the screen. Pictures of Morph standing next to Man, together as one, in their disagreement of their company’s policies looked so strange and alien to the chakat. A paradise found only in movies and television. Shi noticed that a music file was paused on the background of the GUI display. Shi pulled the retractable ear buds from the top, wiping them clean on hir shirt and placing them into hir ear before playing. A centuries old rock and roll song started to play into hir ears as shi checked the title and band. "I’ve Got to Break Free" by Queen. Shi chuckled to hirself, wondering who in their right mind would listen to something this archaic. Shi shook hir head, pulling out the buds and wiped them again. Shi returned the pad to the library’s rack where the memory was erased and ready for another student to pick up. Shi sighed softly and made hir way back to hir classroom. Fourth hour started in just twelve minutes.
Gildedtongue purred contently under the warm flow of water from the locker room’s shower spout. Though the chakat tended to often lean to hir masculine side, shi found that the woman’s locker room to raise fewer eyebrows during bathing. That and it was usually far cleaner than its boy’s counterpart. Though shi wasn’t all that dirty or smelly, thanks for fewer sweat glands in hir body, the feeling of the filth of the air and the stupidity of the school all dripping down off hir fur and into the drain below was very therapeutic. After about an hour and a half of good lather, rinse, repetition, and soaking, shi finally came out to towel off hir fur, not having a decent fur dryer at the school. It was a few hours after school and most of the students and faculty were off getting ready for tonight’s event. Shi had hir own eveningwear in hir bag over by a locker.
Gildy blushed to hirself as shi found the shower relaxed hir a bit more than expected. Hir length throbbed darkly between hir hindlegs, begging for a bit of attention. Shi looked left and right, making sure shi was the only one in the room before making hir way to one of the larger ‘taur stalls. Shi closed hir eyes after locking the door and moving hir left forepaw to hir length, beginning a slow, deliberate motion. Shi tried to picture people shi would like to be mating with, alas, absolutely no one came to mind, pure void. Shi tried to think of movie stars, or porn stars, even Dreamweaver to give the masturbation session some substance. No fantasy seemed to spring forth, though, as this whole thing became very mechanical. It was all over with a hushed hiss as shi felt hir paw become warm and sticky with the fruit of hir efforts. Even hir fantasies have become as lonely and as blank as hir life has become.
Shi lifted hir forepaw to look over it, seeing the pearl colored fluid streaked across the black paw pads. The essence for new life ran over hir paw, glistening like a golden elixir to end hir lonely nights. Shi knew that just shoving hir fingers coated in this fluid while shi was ovulating would be a good chance to put a cub inside of hirself. A small, happy child willing to be with hir through those cold nights alone in that hell hole of an apartment. A slice of salvation the longtail yearned for to keep from going mad. It would be so simple, fast and efficient. Maybe when the cub got old enough, shi’d even offer hirself to hir mother and father.
Gildy spat at hirself from thinking such thoughts. Wiping the seminal fluid off of hir paw with a bit of tissue and flushing it down the toilet. Shi cleaned off hir limp shaft before letting it retreat back into hir body. Shi made hir way to hir bag and pulled out hir evening attire, a light green silk long formal blouse. Shi knew shi didn’t have a loincloth to accompany this as well, but didn’t care at that point. Hir day was terrible enough that if anyone had a problem with it, shi’d rather hear about it on Monday like the rest of the things shi knows shi’ll get an earful of.
Taking hir small makeup kit to the sinks shi made some minor dusting over the hairs on hir face that have grayed more than the others, trying to get a uniform look. A little application of a mild perfume upon the two sides of hir jawline, and a firm blast of deodorizer against hir sheath, as shi certainly didn’t want to attend the dance smelling like a young, randy male who just finished masturbating, no matter how accurate that would be, minus the young and half of the male part. A pair of clip-on emerald earrings completed the basic look. Shi looked at the mane of hir hair and, much like females even in that era, grumbled and sighed a puff of breath at it. A comb and brush started to work on the knots and tussles in it, trying desperately to achieve a form of uniformity in it all. A wild mane looks all right on a lion fur for most occasions except formal. After sticking hir tongue out at the reflection in the mirror shi decided to attempt to braid the mess. Shi separated the headfur into two clumps, and worked on braiding each half into its own ponytail, then getting a long band to connect the two at the bottom. Shi looked at the mirror and nodded, giving a small smile, "Looks much better," shi said to hirself before gathering hir things and leaving the locker room.
Gildedtongue left hir books and things at hir classroom and left the school for a bit of personal time before the dance. Shi had a few hours to kill and wondered where to kill it. Shi could get a pack of cigarettes as shi was getting low, but shi would probably be able to confiscate plenty at the dance. Shi saw the local Catholic Church and shrugged to hirself, heading to the massive doors.
The ‘taur made hir way to the confessional in the back, seeing that there was a priest available shi slipped in and knelt on hir forelegs, a very uncomfortable position since hir legs were not really designed for this work, but some traditions die hard, and others, not at all. Shi made the sign of the cross and began the ritual of Confession.
"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last confession."
"Go on, young morph."
Gildy gritted hir teeth at that phrase. Like most things, it was the little things like that. Most people expect a ‘my child’ or something, but this one was definitely another holy man who felt that there was a huge divide between humans and morphs. Shi took a breath to relax and started to relate what shi’s done. "Well, Father, I’ve spilt seed twice since my last confession and have viewed pornographic imagery on occasions."
"Mmm, lust does tend to control your kind. No matter as you seemed to have been created to be such, especially as one who isn’t even male or female. Anyway, go on."
Gildedtongue felt some enamel rubbing off the tops of hir molars in hir swallowed rage, but continued with a dry, flat tone, "I’ve yelled at a young girl for her opinions, and…"
"Excuse me," the priest interrupted, "A human girl, or another construct?"
Gildy pursed hir lips tightly, closing hir eyes. "Human," shi muttered, telling the truth.
"Tsk tsk. You really shouldn’t do that. I also see much wrath in you. Anyway, go on."
Gildedtongue was finding it increasingly harder to control hir temper, but managed to keep it under foot for this moment, "Last week I…"
"Look." The priest interjected once more, sliding open the privacy mesh, "Why are you even wasting your time and mine. We all know that only God’s creations are going to heaven. You’re merely a fancy new Golem of Prague. Made of genetic mud and science from people thinking they can be their own God. Some day you will stop listening to the ‘Obey’ on your forehead, and then we’ll have to change it to ‘Die.’ Why don’t you go worship the Turners or something and just leave the God work to the humans."
This was definitely not turning into one of Gildedtongue’s best days. In the back of hir head shi very much wanted to slam the mesh door into the fingers of the thin looking priest that was probably half hir age. Common decency managed to win out in hir head as shi calmly got up and started for the door. Hir eyes a little swollen with swallowed tears, hir tail dragged on the tile floor, dusting a trail behind hir as both of hir hearts sank to the bottom of hir feet.
Before shi left shi looked at a hung crucifix in the vestibule, and asked the effigy, "Please, I really could use some help now. Your followers know not what love is." With that shi went back outside, inhaling the cool air of the evening.
The skyline of the city of St. Altretic looked a little brighter than usual, possibly a good omen of things to come as shi made hir way back to the school. The church district was always interesting to walk through, seeing beams of stained light run through the glass windows of the buildings unto the ground, making the floor look painted upon. The chakat’s step almost seemed to get a slight bounce as shi purred softly to hirself, humming a quiet little ditty to sweep away the troubles of the day, for now it is night, and it should at least darken hir woes. Maybe tonight shi’ll have a good night, shi thought and hoped to hirself as shi walked into the parking lot of the school. Funny how reality and hopefulness never tend to coincide with each other.
One Week Later.
"Chakat Gildedtongue, you have been charged with assault on a minor, and the destruction of private property. How do you plead?"
The leonine chakat stared firmly at the judge before hir. Hir hands painfully bound with thick bracer cuffs as well as hir tail to hir left hindleg. Hir tongue swollen in hir mouth as shi just stared trying not to growl.
"Shir Gildedtongue, how do you plead?"
20:00 – 01:15 before incident.
Gildy managed to get back to the school without any more irritations. Shi had calmed down quite a bit from the cold air and the brisk walk. Shi daresay, felt a little happy about being able to relax and if something broke out at the dance, shi could excuse hirself with little worry of retribution. The event was already starting by the time shi got there, the gymnasium’s lights were on and the sound of the audio system was just barely made out by Gildy’s black furred ears.
Shi purred to hirself as shi made hir way up the stairs and into the hardwood floored room. The students were sparse, but the night was still young. It was a very usual young dance in the Kingdom, the female humans were out dancing and having a good time, where as the males were predominately spending their time looking at the laces of their shoes, or chatting amongst each other about what movie or videogame they’ve watched or played recently.
Gildy spotted a fellow teacher and friend in the corner of the place as shi smiled wide, making hir way through the students to the bearded, white haired human and took plenty of will power not to hug him right there in front of the student body. "Reverend Johnson, I’m surprised to see you here!"
He returned the smile with his own wrinkled one, "Gildedtongue, I’m happy to see you here. Apparently we’re a little under chaperoned tonight, so I’ve had to help pull the slack," he gave out a hearty laugh, "Of course, it’s this sort of overtime working when I wish I didn’t take a vow of poverty." The monsignor pat the chakat’s shoulder, "Heard what happened in class today."
Gildedtongue’s ears drooped, hoping shi hadn’t offended one of hir few good, close friends in hir outburst, "Yeah, I guess I’ve been stressed out lately, Frank."
Frank merely chuckled, then gave a pair of shifty eyes before leaning in to whisper, "Between you, me, and the Lord, I think you let her off easy. People like that need a good slap of reality now and then. Call it human weakness, but I would have dug deeper than you did."
Gildedtongue blushed inside of hir ears at the comment, "Heh, thank you. Glad to see someone giving me a bit of support today."
21:45 – 30 minutes after the incident.
"You fucking freaks make me sick! I’ve read all that propaganda the Feds keep dishing out about your kind, but tonight just proves you’re all a menace to everyone around you!"
The police officer was screaming into Gildedtongue’s face as shi sat in the interrogation room. Hir eyes remained fixated on the steel wall in front of hir, counting the cracks in the paint, as hir tail remained wrapped around the leg of the table in front of hir. It’s only been a few minutes since shi was thrown in here, but it already felt like an eternity. Shi hasn’t said a word since shi was taken to custody, keeping hir yellow muzzle firmly locked with hir tongue swelling against the roof of hir mouth.
Hir left paw unconsciously stroked over hir right arm, still tingling and burning from the event of being stunned. All of hir muscles ached, having had been rapidly twitching from the effects of the stunning weapon. A stun ray was little different than a 20th century Tazer aside from less needles and direct electricity.
The officer continued to ramble and rave loudly in front of hir, hir brain having droned him out with the sounds of the air conditioner unit. Finally the man swung open the door and stepped out with a huff, slamming the steel door behind him. Gildy could hear the door latch and lock, not that shi was in any mood to escape at the moment.
20:30 – 45 minutes before the incident.
Gildedtongue wasn’t too interested in leaving at the moment. The large hall was pounding with the sounds of synthetic music from the speakers on the ceiling and multi colored lights were dancing around the room, bouncing off the faces of the various participants. Gildedtongue felt a little bored that not much was happening, however, after today, Gildy certainly could appreciate a little boredom. A familiar face popped out of the crowed, carrying a very uncomfortable older human male. Gildedtongue purred softly as shi bowed hir head to Dreamweaver. "Good evening, Dreamweaver. And this must be young master Miller. Your reputation precedes you."
"Glad you could make it, Gildedtongue, and yes, this is Jacob." Dreamweaver said in a smile, smitten and in a healthy bit of lust, Gildy noticed. Shi also noticed that Jacob’s eyes were traveling all around the hall except to hir and Dreamy, as if to check out all the exits and the location of everyone.
"Erm, hi," is all that the rugby player had to say. He did take the time to look Gildy straight in the eye and give hir a cocky salute. Gildy nodded hir head back, not really minding the brush off, shi was about to do the same. Dreamweaver purred a bit, stroking over the thick forearm on hir date.
"Well, we’ve best be going, Gildy. Have a good evening!" the younger chakat purred as shi drug the athlete along behind hir. Gildy purred to hirself, at least shi isn’t letting him drag her around like a trophy. Shi padded over towards the punch stand, thinking to hirself, ‘maybe they’ll make good companions,’ but shi doubted seriously that they’d become anything closer.
Students continued to dance, forgetting what lives they may have in the future, but embracing the moment.
22:00 – 45 minutes after the incident.
The cold interrogation room housed only Gildedtongue for a short period of time, letting hir stew a bit. The chakat remained completely unmoving, locking hir muscles on the floor. Finally the steel door opened up again as a thinner, lankier officer stepped into the room carrying two cups of coffee. His uniform was left unbuttoned, showing off his work shirt and loosened tie. He set one of the black liquid filled paper cups in front of the stoic felitaur as he proceeded to sit down on the chair on the opposite side of the table, propping his feet up. Hey, let me level with you, Gilded. It’s not your fault." The blonde haired yuppie started. "It’s completely understandable why you did all of that, hell I would have too."
Gildy’s eyes betrayed hir as they moved to look over the human, hir brow softening just a little. The goateed face let a small smile as he felt he might have dug in a bit, "I mean, shi was a pretty girl, you know, for a morph," he shrugged to himself, "and I’d be jealous too."
The chakat’s brain, probably too weak to keep up the stone face, opened up a little as shi muttered the first intelligible thing in over an hour, "Jealous?" Hir tail tightened around the leg of the table separating hir from the officer.
The officer nodded a bit, "Yeah. I’ve read up on your kind. You don’t care about the age of your lovers, or who they are. A little release is all fun and games right? Maybe you got too attached to this one, and you were upset that someone else, someone younger was pushing you out of the picture, am I right?"
Gildedtongue was speechless; hir slight softening to this kinder man had only become thicker and colder with his every word. A slight growl developed in hir lower lungs, but shi swallowed it down reluctantly. Hir teeth clenched harder in hir muzzle as shi tried desperately to refrain from any more outbursts, enough that shi felt one of hir molars starting to break under pressure. The officer leaned over again, chuckling softly, "C’mon, you know I’m right."
Gildedtongue could barely think in the residual wrath brewing in hir cortex, but managed to keep reasonable and silent. Shi knew this man was wrong, completely wrong, however shi could not even fathom trying to attempt to convince him this. The officer produced a small datapad, smiling, "Just sign this with your verbal signature, and maybe I can get the judge to let you off a little easier. After all, you were only doing what instinct dictated."
21:10 – Five minutes before the incident.
Gildedtongue stepped out of the gymnasium to start hir rounds and to take in the fresh night air. Hir soft footpads moved silently across the concrete below hir as shi kept an eye out for any student or students trying to try something against the rules while most of the chaperones were inside.
Shi came across a number of students smoking out behind a dumpster can behind the cafeteria. They were rather surprised to see hir as they probably have found this reeking hiding spot to be useful for previous uses. The chakat was in the middle of checking their identification when shi heard a loud shriek from the parking lot. "Vae!* What’s going on?" shi muttered, turning back to the students, "I’ll attend to you later."
Shi knew perfectly well that the students wouldn’t be there when shi returned, but shi quickens hir step towards the sounds of screaming. Hir breathing was getting harder as was the pounding of hir hearts while a great sense of foreboding swallowed hir feelings.
The sounds seemed to come from a PTV parked just next to a light tree. Hir pace quickened as shi saw the back of a young male student in front of the passenger side rear door. The vehicle was rocking rapidly as the screams were getting louder. Gildy recognized it was Dreamweaver!
The chakat was in a bounding sprint as shi approached the vehicle. The screams were getting louder as she saw the back of the cheap suit her date was wearing standing in front of the rear passenger door, trousers bundled around his ankles.
"Shit, beast, what, are you ‘kats all that shallow? Barely got the tip in." Jacob muttered, not hearing the approaching teacher. "Keep it down, beast, or I’ll give you something to scream about."
Gildedtongue was there in a flash, grasping the athlete’s shoulder and wrenching him around to look at hir. The boy gave a yelp as he was forcefully spun around, looking blankly, then angrily at his assailant. A long, sharp knife clutched in his right hand, dripping with red.
22:30 – One hour, fifteen minutes after the incident.
A knock on the door preceded another detective entering the interrogation room. She was tall with brown hair, clutching a datapad in her left hand. A glance over at the quiet chakat made her visibly shudder. She turned back to the smug looking officer seated at the table. "We got the results in from the hospital. Mr. Miller is in stable condition, however both of his hands will be need serious attention. His right hand should require the least amount of care, however his whole left hand will require reconstruction from the most base level. This isn’t counting the amount of plastic surgery required to rebuild his face."
The smug officer nodded, giving a wink to the detective, "Thanks for the report. And the other that went in?"
"The… construct claimed a number of lacerations from the knife, however the medics nor the doctors could find any." She finally said, taking another look at the angry Gildedtongue, then made a hasty retreat out. The officer was quiet for a moment, cradling the cup of coffee in his hands. His eyes shut, as he seemed to be thinking.
"You know, he was one of the best, Shir Gildedtongue. One of the best in his field, and in an instant, you managed to hurt his career, possibly destroy it." He leaned over the table to look at the chakat more intently. "How does that make you feel?"
Gildedtongue remained silent, looking down at hirself. Hir dress was torn in shambles, blood caking the bottom half of it as a long slit seemed to be healing well across her bosom.
Gildedtongue couldn’t think.
All of hir vision seemed to match the red hue that was dripping from the knife. Time seemed to move slower, more clean and crisp. The left hand of the student pulled back, balling itself into a fist as Jacob threw a sloppy haymaker towards the chakat’s temple. It drifted in the air like a toy balloon. Gildedtongue lifted hir right hand, catching the fist as easily as snatching a ball from the air.
Hir fingers curled and clasped around the hand. It had weight and velocity, but it didn’t feel that way. Adrenaline pushed out of hir large glands, filling hir body with the potent hormone as shi squeezed the hand much like one would crush a Styrofoam container, feeling it collapse just as easily. Like a paper lantern, shi felt it go flat, then try to push back to regain rigidity, but unable to withstand the force.
Jacob’s face contorted and opened in a scream that Gildedtongue couldn’t hear, not with all the blood pumping loudly in hir ears. The knife moved faster than the fist, hir left hand couldn’t intercept it in time as it scored a slash across hir chest, leaving a deep, bleeding gash in hir bosom. Hir left hand managed to catch up with the knifed hand at the end of his swing.
Hir grip of his wrist made his fingers open up just for a moment, causing the knife to start to fall towards the earth. Hir right hand let go of the remains of the human’s fist, falling to snatch the knife out of the air as shi slammed the offending hand on the top of the car.
Shi caught it with the blade pointed downwards, where shi needed it. Hir right hand raised like a priestess offering a sacrifice to a pagan god as it pierced into the heart of Jacob’s right hand, pinning it and him to the roof of his vehicle.
Jacob’s face was no longer human. A wailing banshee of terror and pain, but Gildedtongue couldn’t see that. All shi saw was the various aspects of hir life being flattened out like a ball of clay under a brick.
"Stop it!" a scream pulled Gildy out of hir rage, letting go of the teenager as he slumped forward, held up by his hand still pegged to the roof of the vehicle. Gildy pushed Jacob to the side to see Dreamweaver trapped underneath the seats rigged to hold hir in place. Gildy shoved the backs of the bucket seats, hearing the hinges snap before pulling the young felitaur out of the PTV, wrapping hir arms and forelegs around hir, sobbing loudly.
"Dreamweaver. I'm so sorry Dreamweaver, I should have said something and stop you. Oh God, My Dreamweaver." Shi muttered, holding Dream squeezing hir tightly. Hir eyes shoot open wide as shi realizes what shi's saying. 'My Dreamweaver? Am I believing shi's my daughter? Am I that lonely I've taken another's child as my own mentally?"
Gildy's train of thought was cut short at the arrival of the police, called by one of the students shi saw earlier. Hir vision went dark as the stunning weapons struck hir, Dream, and the unconscious Jacob.
06:45 The next morning.
Gildedtongue's eyes opened slowly as the rays of the sun crept through the barred windows above hir. Shi lifted hir head from the ground, looking around a bit, realizing that the prison of hir life has become far more literal than shi'd care to. Shi climbed onto all four legs, looking out of the bars to the hallway, whining to hirself, feeling loneliness growing heavily, knowing what shi did has made hir a monster.
Shi barely had the drive to use the toilet, but figured it was best to not dirty the concrete floor. Hir hearts felt like they were made of cast iron as they weighed heavily in hir chests. The adrenaline that left hir body is still making hir hands shake in nerves as hir bloodshot eyes stared blankly at the brick wall opposite of hir.
Shi was alone.
* (Latin) Damn!
The cell was relatively small. Enough room for hir to turn around comfortably, attend the lavatory and the sink without much effort, and the steel cot was nigh useless, but could be folded against the wall for added room, or be used as a desk or eating bed. The walls were twenty hand-sized brick high. Fifteen bricks to the steel molding around the barred window and a pane of marred Plexiglas on hir side of the bars with images of swastikas and Humans First emblems that distorted the light of the morning sun. The door was a simple affair large and metal, cold, with a panel to slide food and mail in and out of. Shi could not see anything else, nor could she hear anything else in the area.
Some time during the morning she was fed breakfast. Shi couldn’t identify the contents but figured the brown fluid in the cup was something akin to coffee. There wasn’t even a guard to give the meal, rather an automated serving robot. Gildedtongue picked at the food quietly before starting to eat, sadly realizing that this was probably more nutrients than shi’s had in a meal for ages.
Shi slipped the tray and such out of the slot as the bottom of the tray instructed, probably another robot will come by to clean it up later tonight. Shi sighed softly to hirself, pacing and counting bricks. Without a book or any paper or a data pad, this was going to be very long.
Gildedtongue sighed softly to hirself as shi woke up. It took hir a few moments to recall how long shi had been in the cell, two days seemed like an eternity for hir. A message from the server droid beeped that shi would have consul from hir attourney an hour before the proceedings started. That was the first voice shi heard since the guard escorted hir into this room, and it wasn’t even real.
No one had come to talk to hir. Not Frank, nor Dreamweaver or any of hir family. Gildedtongue racked hir brain for anyone else shi might know that hadn’t come, but none came to mind that shi would have ever considered "Friend."
The room seemed to grow bigger or smaller the more shi paced inside the walls. Shi probably walked a mile without ever leaving the square of the cell. Meals and the light coming through the bars of the window were the only measurement of time in this room. The time could have passed by faster if shi just had someone to talk to.
Day 4, morning
The chakat woke up with a start after another dreamless sleep. It was still dark out and not even the beginnings of dawn poked at the starry sky. The chakat’s hair went on end as shi looked around the room, wondering what woke hir up.
"Hello?" was all that shi could croak out. It had been days since shi last spoke and hir vocal cords were stiff and dry. Shi greeted to the phantoms of the shadows of hir cell a few more times, aching for another voice. Figuring it only nerves the golden brown chakat moved to the corner of the room and wrapped hirself with hir body, aching for self-warmth.
The chakat felt a hand rest on hir shoulder for a moment. This time shi woke up slowly, blinking the sleep from hir eyes before lifting hir head to look at whatever was there. A tall, older chakat sat next to the waking felitaur, smiling down at hir and reached to stroke over Gildedtongue’s hair. "Hey, kiddo. Man, you look like shit."
Gildedtongue grumbled as shi slowly got up, feeling hir joints crack a bit, "Mmmmph, thanks, Dad, you always know how to make someone feel special." Gildy looked at the other chakat in the room. Shi was a bit smaller than Gildy, with gray, ratty fur, a ruffled mane, and the long tail of a chakat elder. The slightly younger chakat looked around to see if anyone else came in. Shi saw the locked, solid door and realized that of course no one could have come in and turned to ask Creekstripe just how shi came in, but as shi turned hir head shi realized again, that shi was alone.
"I must be dreaming again," shi muttered to hirself, at least, shi thought it was just to hirself as shi curled back up again.
The day went on without any more visitors. Gildedtongue spent hir day devising a crude clock using the light out of the window and chiseling hir spoon. Shi failed to remember that the shadow would be sticking outside of the window come midday, but at least hir mornings were less dull, and shi felt at least slightly productive that morning.
Day 4, evening
For failing to return the spoon shi was punished with smaller rations in the evening. Not that less tasteless food could be considered a true punishment; it did leave hir stomachs growling. Shi idly wondered about hir attourney. Probably some young, fresh out of law school student who drew a short straw, that or a soon-to-be-retiring man who wouldn’t mind losing a case just to feel his own sense of justice. Either way, Gildy didn’t quite hold too much optimism.
"What has caused you to lose your smile, Gildy?" Creekstripe asked hir again. Gildedtongue shivered but figured it just the cooler kicking on. Gildy didn’t turn hir head to even attempt to see who said it. At the same time, why fight insanity when madness always beats out rationale.
"I dunno. The fact that I was already sentenced before the police even arrived?" shi retorted to hir father. Shi knew it wasn’t true, not officially. There will be a trial of inquisitors and shi will be held to whatever the views of those most pure of thought feel shi deserves. HCKNA trials just barely squeak by Federation standards of justice. "Maybe I deserve it, Dad. Maybe not for this crime, but maybe for others."
"Others? Other crimes? My child, have you been a naughty kitten while your parents weren’t looking?" The gray felitaur smiled giddily, giving Gildedtongue’s tail a swat. The leonine chakat pulled hir tail away a bit, giving a small growl. Hir father always loved this game, even as a long tail, tormenting other chakat’s tails. The story goes that shi met Glade long after pouncing on hir tail.
"Maybe not crimes, Dad," shi muttered, "but, other infractions against humanity." Shi rubbed hir left arm idly, trying to think. "I mean, I’ve certainly had enough malicious thoughts. And I’ve started to lash out, to both the clergy and children. Children, Dad!" shi sighed softly, rubbing hir temple.
"You haven’t changed a bit, Gildedtongue. Spare the rod to everyone but yourself. You’ve always seemed to enjoy the role of the troubled elder."
"Someone had to, Dad. You were never exactly one to take things seriously." Gildedtongue retorted, turning back to hir father, snarling threateningly, "Every single time something went on that could have affected us, you’d just throw up your fucking hands and say ‘that’s the course of things.’ You never tried!" Gilded stood still for a moment, then, realizing shi just went off on hir parent, shi hushed up.
Creekstripe was quiet for a moment; closing hir eyes a moment, then reached out to stroke over Gildedtongue’s ear, "My child. I’m sorry if that was the impression you had, but you know now that without the right sort of power here, it is rather futile to try. I just tried to show you how to adapt. I’m sorry that I appeared the coward, but that wasn’t what I was after."
The red-maned chakat shuddered and leaned into the ear stroking, "I-I know that, Dad. I just am stressed out and angry, I guess." Shi looked upon the ground a bit more, thinking to hirself for a moment, and then asked, "How did you get here, Dad?"
The longtail smiled to himself and padded over to the door, "What, you never tried the door?" shi asked and proceeded to tug a bit on the handle. The door slowly opened to reveal the hallway, "Heh, when you’ve been in here as often as I have, you know that the big doors are just to frighten you. C’mon." Gildy’s sire took hir hand and lead hir into the dank hallway. They passed several of the same sorts of door. The food slot was about eye level as Gildy peeked inside. Each cell containing one prisoner; big ones, mean ones, humans, morphs, all represented, however they all had the same thing in common, a broken soul full of hopelessness. Gildy’s empathy was never that well honed; however the degree of despair left hir hearts heavy with grief. Creekstripe saw this and reached to rest hir hand on Gildy’s shoulder, giving a comforting pat, "Please come."
They went through a door leading out of the hallway. The room felt better, but empty, there wasn’t any feeling. The walls were bare white and the furniture was a simple table and chairs. No art hung upon the walls and in the corner, a Vending Replicator hummed quietly. Gildy’s father pushed some chairs to the side and sat down, a paw moved to offer hir to join. "It’s not much but at least it’s quiet, don’t you think?"
"Dead quiet." Gildedtongue responded, moving to sit with hir father, looking around the small room. Shi rested hir elbows on the table and let go of a long sigh. "Dad, can I ask you something?" the chakat looked up through hir mane of hair at the other seated centauroid. Hir father nodded and listened to hir child’s inquiry, cocking hir ears towards hir intently. "Why here, Dad? I mean, don’t give me that bullshit about your university job. That ended when I was 13, and yet you, Mom, and I kept living here in this…" Gildedtongue fumbled for the right words, "Holy Hell Hole."
Creekstripe went silent for a few moments. The moments stretched for an eternity as Gildedtongue looked up to hir sire, hoping for a real answer. The longtail finally sighed and started to speak, "Well, the job was definitely the first reason. I mean, that’s the only reason we moved here. But, you’re right, afterwards it really wasn’t a good reason." Shi shrugged a bit.
"Well, no good reason is better than no reason, so what was it?" asked Gildedtongue, getting a little frustrated at the roundabout reasoning shi was going through.
Creekstripe gave a half smile as shi looked at hir daughter, "Well, to return the question, what kept you staying here?" Gildedtongue nearly snarled again, but stopped. It was a relatively legitimate question, even though it dodged hir own. Shi settled back down onto hir haunches and thought about it.
"I guess that even despite having no real power in this government, I still wanted to try and make a difference for the better. I guess that’s why I started to teach; to help people fulfill their potential." Shi sighed a bit, slumping atop of the table, looking up as shi felt most of hir energy drained from trying to think. "But, why here? I mean, we could have done a better job in Australia, Europe, or any of the stars in the galaxy! Here it just felt like breaking your hands against a wall trying to get it to move, nothing seemed to do anything!" Gildedtongue hushed a shout, feeling tears of frustration welling in hir eyes.
Creekstripe rubbed hir daughter’s head softly, reassuring hir, "You haven’t been that ineffective, Gildedtongue. Sure, the majority of your students probably will never have been helped, and most of them not helped by anyone else. But teaching isn’t about numbers, it’s about the few that actually do get it and do become better for it." The longtail caressed hir child’s back, trying to calm hir down.
Gildedtongue exhaled a long breath before blinking hir eyes clear of tears again, gulping down hir throat, "I still haven’t forgiven myself for killing you, Dad." Shi muttered under hir breath. Shi yelped at a clap to hir ears and felt hir head being picked up by the sore cranial appendage, looking at the very stern face of hir sire.
"Gildedtongue, you still blame yourself for that? No wonder you haven’t done anything or gotten close to anyone since." Creekstripe scolded and sighed a bit, letting go of Gildedtongue’s head. The leonine chakat sat up a bit more, looking intently at the table between them.
"But, Dad, a week after, you…" Gildedtongue started, but was quickly cut off by Creekstripe. Hir ears pressed against hir skull and hir tail wrapped around hir haunches in defense.
"A week later I passed on because of complications and my body just shut down. It happens, Gildedtongue, you’re not God." The older chakat stood up and wrapped hir arms around hir child, "I’m sorry that I caused you such grief. Maybe it was my fault for asking you to make love. I just wanted to make you happy."
Gildedtongue bit hir tongue, crying a bit more in hir father’s embrace, "No, no, it wasn’t your fault. I just…" shi started, then recollected hir thoughts, "I just take everything unto myself like always. I guess I still have a lot of growing up to do. I-I love you, Dad." Shi muttered under hir breath, allowing hirself to purr.
Creekstripe nodded to hirself, stroking hir daughter’s cheek a bit, "I know. I love you too, Gildedtongue. But I must go now. You must now fight for your life without me. You won’t be alone for long, I assure you."
Gildedtongue held still while the arms that held hir slowly faded away. Hir eyes held closed for a moment longer. Slowly they reopened to see that the chakat was in a ruined city, hir home. Buildings were burning and the streets lay in ruins. Shi looked around hirself for a moment, seeing a discarded vibroblade. Shi picked up the longsword and gave it a few swishes in hir hand, getting a feel for the weapon.
Shi didn’t have long alone, however. Shi turned slowly behind hir. A lumbering hulk of metal and madness slowly walked towards hir. Shi recognized it as the Christian Army’s Power armor from the Gene War. Shi readied hir blade, staring at hir adversary. The metal beast saluted with its own claymore, then opened its helmet for a moment. Gildedtongue nearly dropped hir weapon as shi saw a familiar golden furred muzzle peering out of the helmet.
It was hir. Gildedtongue shook hir head rapidly to ready hirself, shi had to win. Shi stared for a moment more before the powered monstrosity made two quick moments. Shi couldn’t keep up with it as the blade broke through hir defenses and penetrated hir chest. Gildedtongue screamed in pain as shi felt the electric current from the blade course through hir body.
Day 6, evening
Gildedtongue blinked hir eyes open as shi awoke. The pain of the sword started to fade as a greater one filled hir chest. The chakat lifted hir head slowly to see a number of men above hir in surgical garb. Hir eyes went wide as shi looked at hirself, seeing a large needle stuck through hir chest. The doctors continued to push a yellowish liquid into what felt like hir heart. A nurse near hir head saw hir open hir eyes as she yelped, "The Adrenaline is working, shi's awake!" the chakat yowled as the pain came to fully register as shi passed out again. Shaken, but stable, now.
Day 7, morning
Gildedtongue was apparently unconscious and barely alive since the evening of the fourth day. Hir body was already repairing hirself from the shock of surgery. Apparently the correctional facility hadn’t changed its medical practices since before the war. Gildedtongue supposed it was easier trying dead people than living people.
The chakat put on the fresh clothing shi was offered by the server 'bot along with hir breakfast. The food was slightly less vile today, shi wasn’t sure if that was for the trial, or the fact that shi nearly died. Either way shi made a small prayer of thanks before consuming the meal.
An hour later a guard, a real, human guard, appeared and brandished his stunstick at the crushed chakat. Shi followed his barked orders; silently thanking him for acknowledging hir presence and reminding hir that shi was real. Shi donned on the tail cuff first, then slowly cuffed hir hands behind hir join, The guard made sure they were secure before sheathing his weapon.
Shi was lead to the court where shi met hir attourney. Shi was right on the first account, as the student seemed to be barely out of hir own classes. He looked over Gildedtongue’s file again and sighed softly, "Look, I’m not even sure what you did or why you did it. I just got this case last night. But I’m going to tell you to plead guilty. No one’s dead, so maybe you’ll only get a few years in prison." The squirrelly boy said. Gildedtongue only nodded.
The Judge slowly approached from the rear out of a pair of heavy wooden doors. He stared at the court, seeing the appointed jury, then at the accused. "Chakat Gildedtongue, you have been charged with assault on a minor, and the destruction of private property. How do you plead?"
Gildedtongue felt in a daze. Shi wasn’t sure what to say. Hir brain told hir to follow the advice of hir council, but that just didn’t feel right. Shi gulped again, trying to find words, but all that came was a growl deep in hir chest.
"Shir Gildedtongue, how do you plead?" the judge repeated, getting a bit irritated already. Gildedtongue already saw this as going down hill as shi looked upon the floor again and resigned.
"I am guilty of these sins, Inquisitor."
The room felt like all the energy and life was sucked out of it at that moment as the chakat resigned hirself to fate.
"Very well, the Defendant pleads hir innocence. The accused’s fate shall be put to the test starting on the morrow. Dismissed!"
Gildedtongue jerked hir head up. Hir eyes gone wide as hir mouth became barren of fluid. They didn’t want a trial; they wanted a show of good triumphing over evil.
Gildedtongue’s ordeals were far from over.
The chakat and hir attourney were lead away into a small square room after that small ordeal. A shiver ran up Gildy’s spine as the room brought back memories of the interrogation shi went through when shi was first thrown into the police station. Shi sat down at the table in the middle of the room as the young man near fell into a chair on the other side. It didn’t take a trained empath to see how nervous this man was. The water cooler in the corner bubbled air before anyone spoke.
"Well, that certainly was, not too expected," the man said finally. He opened up his attaché case, pulling out a data pad and what smelled like a peanut butter and banana sandwich. The attourney looked at the chakat, seeing hir salivate as he tore the sandwich in half, giving hir a large chunk, "I can’t imagine food in prison to be that great." The leonine chakat took the offering thankfully, trying not to inhale the sandwich all at once. Shi never thought the combination was particularly appetizing, however he was right, this was certainly better than those slabs of protein shi’s been eating lately. "I’m Peter Jacobs. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing each other quite a bit while this goes on, Gildedtongue."
The chakat nodded after finishing the sandwich, finding hir voice a bit easier now that shi knew his name and that Peter was nervous simply because he was as lost as shi was. Shi allowed hirself to purr softly, "Please, Mr. Jacobs, call me Gildy."
"Then call me Pete, please."
The tension evaporated from the room as both people came to relax. Peter turned on the pad and typed a few phrases into it in silence, his left incisor and canine bit into his lower lip as he gave another small sigh, "Well, Gilded… Gildy. I’ve read over the official police report of the event, and received a long detailed report from the victim and two under aged witnesses, as well as a chakat Dreamweaver. Hir story seems to be rather short, just saying that you were enraged and tried to pull the victim out of the car and after gave him his wounds." Gildedtongue gave a small nod; it was the truth, not the whole truth, but a well-edited truth. The two sat in silence for a moment after that before Pete glanced up for a moment, turning on a record button on the data pad, "Would you like to give your side of that story, Gildedtongue?"
The chakat nodded and gave a small sigh before recounting the events of that night a week ago to the best of hir ability. Pete tapped on the datapad to mark out key points and places for questions but kept attentive. Gildy couldn’t describe it, however the eyes reminded hir of hir friend Frank. Gildy’s mind wandered in the middle of the story, wondering what the monsignor was doing at the moment, or Dreamweaver and hir parents for that matter. After shi was done shi sat back on hir haunches more flatly, exhaling slowly.
Peter continued to notate in silence for a moment, then raised his head slowly, "None of the other stories ever mentioned an attempted rape, Gildedtongue. Are you sure?"
"I can confirm that Mr. Miller is not orthodox Jewish." The two people in the room laughed out at that. Gildedtongue hinted a blush under hir fur. It had been ages since hir last laugh and despite hir dark humor, it certainly felt good. The chakat shrugged a bit, getting serious again, "I know what I saw, and I can confirm that Dreamweaver would agree to the notion that, yes, Jacob was indeed trying to take advantage of Dreamweaver."
Peter nodded as he jotted down that somber note. He sighed to himself, shrugging, "Well, unfortunately that is going to be hard to prove. I’m not going to lie, however you’re more than willing to agree that whatever jury the judge and the prosecutor set up, they won’t be too friendly to our cause." Pete looked over his notes again, "But the cards are certainly stacked against your favor. If somehow we could prove this singular trump card, then we go into a cry of self-defense. However…" Peter was interrupted by a guard who swung open the door with a metallic bang.
"Time’s up. The prisoner must return to its cell now."
"However, without it, Nos futuero.*" Peter shrugged as he gathered his things, tipping his head to his client before leaving with one guard. The other brandished a stun stick at the chakat as shi got up slowly, keeping hir hands in plain slight, moving slowly as shi was lead away back to hir cell.
The chakat exhaled softly as shi looked around inside hir cell again. Gildy went back to lie down again. Hir body felt lighter than last week as shi looked over hirself, a little leaner and hir fur was dusty from the room, however the meeting with Peter certainly poked a small hole in the shroud surrounding. A small light is always brightest when everything else is at its darkest.
The next day at the court felt just as overwhelming as the previous one. The prosecutor, a middle aged woman, honed to a sharp edge by the whetstone of her career, introduced her witnesses, as a bruised and injured Jacob Miller spoke, then the two students Gildedtongue came across just moments before. The whole of the proceedings felt totally alien to the chakat, however shi could feel the hostility brewing in the room. Gildedtongue turned hir head to see if shi could see any of hir friends. Several holorecorders were in the room, taking down every movement and word to be uploaded to the Kingdom’s databases. The audience of the spectacle spilt out into the hallway as the benches were full and people stood at the walls and peeked through the doors. Gildy could swear that they decided to have mass here rather than at the churches.
Gildy’s attention was snapped back forward as shi heard hir name called out by the prosecutor. Peter elbowed hir rib gently, giving a glance up to the empty witness booth. The chakat slowly rose and made hir way to the small podium. The bailiff shoved a Bible into the chakat’s chest, barking out in Latin for Gildy’s affidavit that shi shall speak no falsehoods and follow the Eighth Commandment as declared by the prophet Moses. Gildedtongue returned with the knee-jerk affirmation, but wondered if anyone had ever disagreed and what would happen if they did.
The prosecutor approached the felitaur with eyes that burned with hate and rage. Gildy’s ears pressed against hir skull like a cub that was found next to a broken lamp. Her words offered no respite from the venomous gaze.
"What were you thinking when you maimed that poor boy?" she dripped her alto voice into the air. Gildedtongue’s mind scrambled as shi tried to even remember what shi was thinking. Shi wasn’t thinking then, it was complete autopilot. Shi opened hir mouth to speak but was interrupted by hir attorney’s shout from behind his table.
"Objection, your honor, the prosecution is leading the witness!" Peter yelped almost prepubescently. The judge gave a nod and turned towards the interrogator and interrogated.
"Sustained. Please rephrase your question, Sister Ontario," the judge commanded, leaning back into his seat.
The prosecutor gave a soft sigh as she returned her gaze back to the chakat, crossing her arms over her chest and gave a small smile. "Did you, or did you not attack the victim, Jacob Miller, on the twenty sixth day of November on the twenty first hour of the day?"
Gildedtongue mentally growled, of course the simpler questions could lead to the most amount of trouble for hir case. Shi exhaled again and started to speak, "The circumstances of the…"
"Just answer the question, morph," the woman interrupted, staring colder at the chakat. Gildedtongue turned hir face to the judge.
"Your honor, I..."
"Answer her question, or I shall hold you in contempt, Gildedtongue!" the judge snapped back, a large sneer on his face. It seemed his earlier sustaining of the objection was to look good for the galactic viewership. Gildedtongue sighed again before closing hir eyes, finally speaking.
The rest of the questioning went downhill from that abysmal starting point. The whole day in court the chakat felt like shi was skinned of hir sanity, mind and soul and it made hir weary. The chakat joined hir attourney after the trial was adjourned for the evening back into their advisory room.
Peter placed his attaché case on the table like last time, but took out two sandwiches, offering the second one to the chakat. The dark haired human gave a small chuckle as he broke the silence, "Well, you’ll be pleased to know that the hard rock song, ‘Chakat Attack’ just made number one in sales last night. And after today’s performance it should go platinum by teatime tomorrow."
Gildedtongue chuckled at that and settled in, looking at Peter a bit more, "Today sucked, didn’t it?"
Peter let out a sigh and nodded, "It’s going to be interesting escaping the mouth of this whale, Jonah," he muttered and sat down finally, looking over his notes on his datapad. "Unfortunately, Gildedtongue, I wasn’t able to come into contact with either Dreamweaver nor hir parents yesterday. Shi seemed completely tied up at school, and hir parents, well, somehow my communicator can’t connect. I wonder why?" he mused idly with a chuckle. He gave another sigh, "I’ll try again tonight, but I’m afraid that it might be more of the same."
Gildedtongue nodded quietly as shi ate, giving thanks to Peter before speaking on more important manners. "So, well, without hir it is Jacob’s and his friends’ words against mine. Somehow I think that is going to be somewhat lopsided against me." Shi sighed softly, thinking to hirself, "Well, what else have we got?"
Peter shrugged, "Well, considering you have just admitted to the assault, without that piece of evidence proving motive, we’re looking at a very short trial right about now. Or long and drawn out if the prosecution decides to bring in plenty of people to speak against you and your species just for public and protected record."
Gildedtongue nodded glumly, crossing hir arms on the table as shi looked dejected. "Almost sounds like I should have just walked away from it all," shi muttered under hir breath. Peter shook his head as he rested his hand on hir mane.
"Look, we’re just a mortal trial. You’ve got another trial ahead of you and in that case, you did the right thing. Maybe a bit overzealously, but you did the right thing," he smiled and scratched over hir headfur. Gildedtongue purred contently for a moment as shi closed hir eyes.
"So, what’s next on your bag of tricks, Peter?"
"Keep trying to get in contact with Dreamweaver, I guess. Then convince the jury that hir testimony is the important one," Peter shrugged as he pulled his hand away, making some more notes on his datapad, "Outside of that, we’re completely fucked."
Gildedtongue nodded slightly in hir arms before lifting hir head slowly, giving a half a smile, "Well, heh, if we are, then I’m glad I went through this with you, Peter," shi gave a coy smirk, "You might not be the most experienced lawman out there, but you certainly treated me like a person, which is something I have really needed for some time."
Peter laughed at that and shrugged, "Well, I figured if I have to defend someone, I had better learn to like him, her, or hir." The door opened as the guard motioned for Peter to leave. He packed up his things and gave Gildy a firm handshake before exiting.
Gildedtongue lay in the middle of hir cell, looking around the small room that had become hir private universe these two weeks. The chakat sighed as shi padded around slowly, and then shrugged to hirself. Shi couldn’t really do anything at this point. Everything seemed to be on Peter’s shoulders. How he manages to keep a smile in an obviously hopeless case is beyond hir, but it certainly had helped hir keep sane again. The chakat looked out of hir window at the shining moon, giving a small whimper as only hir eyes could drink in the freedom.
"Look, I know I haven’t been a particularly good or obedient person in this universe," shi muttered, to God or no-one shi didn’t care at the moment, "But I have tried. I’ve tried as much as my abilities allow me to. Isn’t that all anyone really can ask for?" shi sighed and dug hir claw into a small hole that pocked the metal and stone, scratching up the inside of it. "I just need a little help right now. I’m not sure what I did was good or bad, or if there is a good or bad. All I know is that I did what I did, and it was what I thought was right at the time."
Gildy walked away from the window, clutching hir shoulders in the cold. "Peter’s right, though. The consequences of my actions might not be truly reflected in this case, but either by Judgment or by Dreamweaver’s and Mr. Miller’s life, my actions, I hope, will do some sort of good." Shi shrugged and sighed, "But I certainly don’t want to witness it in this life, rather than the next," shi said before falling asleep.
Gildedtongue was led back into the courtroom, seeing a smiling Peter. Shi sighed in relief as shi padded closer to him, sitting down on hir haunches at the table. Shi leaned closer to whisper into his ear, "So, you got into contact with Dreamweaver?"
Peter shook his head, "Nope, couldn’t get a hold of hir nor hir parents," he says as he leaned against the table he was seated at.
"Then, erm, what, you got plastered the night before?"
"Even better, I got a comm last night." Peter responded smugly as he leaned back into his seat. Gildy waited for him to finish his thought, but blinked as nothing else came.
"You’ll see," the human said smugly as he opened his case again, pulling out his datapad full of notes. The court all rose when the judge entered the room. The other heraldry of the beginning of the court session went on. Gildy wasn’t paying much attention as hir brain was trying to figure out what Pete had done. Everyone sat down except for the camera crews, and Peter.
"Your Honor. I would like to move for a recess to investigate the testimonies of the witnesses and defendant." Peter said with unusual confidence. Gildedtongue looked to hir side, seeing the human’s knuckles become a bright white in a fist.
"Mister Jacobs, you had ample time to review the official testimonies prior to the trial. I doubt anything that would be said would be different," the judge said, holding back a yawn of boredom.
Peter relaxed his fist as he took a short breath, "Then I’m not going to ask them for what they said, but rather what they saw." Peter turned around to see two people in Starfleet uniforms march up the middle of the sea of people and onlookers. Gildedtongue saw the forerunner, an elderly human, with platinum blonde/gray hair. He walked with a slight limp but moved with utmost dignity. Next to him was another officer’s uniform, this time wrapped around the top of a skunk. A swatch of cloth was missing over the right breast as Gildy blinked to hirself, a skunktaur telepath.
Peter smiled at his own theatrics as the whole courtroom rose in murmurs. The judge pounded his gavel to little avail before the bailiff shouted a bark for order. The older gentleman sighed to himself, "Mister Jacobs, what is the meaning of this?"
"Your Honor, I request that master Miller, the two witnesses, Dreamweaver and my client undergo a mind read."
"On what grounds?" the judge asked, a bit upset that he seemed to be losing control of his court.
"I have reason to believe that Miller and the witnesses have all committed perjury which would hurt my client." Peter stated, looking over his notes on his datapad.
"Mister Jacobs, you are aware that in this Kingdom no one can be forced to such," the judge thought for a word, "unholy means of information gathering."
"I am aware, your Honor, however I can assure you that my logic is fair."
The judge bit the inside of his cheek in consideration. Gildedtongue felt beads of sweat well up under hir hairline. It was a bold move by Peter, and one that could be easily swatted away by the man in the black robe. The judge’s gavel cracked on the table twice more, "Very well, Mister Jacobs. The court will reconvene at fifteen hundred hours. Until then you may conduct your investigation. Bailiff, please escort the victim, the witnesses, and the defendant to separate rooms. Also put a word in to the school to bring Dreamweaver here."
Peter collapsed in his chair exhaling a breath that was held since he first stood up. Gildedtongue couldn’t help but lean and hug hir attourney, making him giggle a little, "Mmmmph, hey. We’re not done yet!"
"No, but we’re getting closer." Gildedtongue smiled softly. Shi didn’t care that the cameras were focused on hir and Peter. Shi was close to winning.
Gildedtongue sat in hir cell alone. Hir tail bushed up as it flicked around like mad. Shi couldn’t remember any other time shi was this excited to meet anyone and shi didn’t know hys name. After a few minutes, the door opened up and the Skunktaur walked in quietly, looking around with a critical eye.
"Not exactly the Ritz hotel." Hy said to himself before looking at Gildedtongue. The chakat started to pad toward the chakat-kin, opening hir arms to the officer. Shi stopped when shi saw the skunktaur lift hir hands in front of hir, "Please, Gildedtongue. I would rather keep this as impersonal as possible. I don’t want anything to possibly bias my findings."
Gildedtongue nodded as shi sat down again. Shi watched the skunktaur set up a camera, turning it on towards the middle of the room before sitting in front of Gildedtongue.
"I am going to go into your memories, Gildedtongue. I will see what you saw, hear what you heard, smell what you smelt, taste what you tasted, feel what you felt, but most importantly, I will know what you thought. For the purposes of this reading, Gildedtongue, I shall say aloud your thoughts and anything else of note. Do you understand?"
Gildedtongue could only nod, but remembering the recorder shi spoke up, "Yes, I understand."
The skunktaur nodded to hymself, "Good. Do you agree to the memory read?" The chakat nodded and affirmed again. The skunktaur exhaled slowly before placing hys fingers along the temple and cheeks of the felitaur. The skunktaur whispered gently, "Then take me to that time."
The recording flickered on the viewscreen as it projected the image of Gildedtongue and the skunktaur. The recorded skunktaur was reiterating Gildedtongue’s thoughts before asking, "My daughter?" then slumped a little as the feeling of the abrupt stunning ended the memory. The jury sat in some boredom, as only a few who have researched into chakats knew the weight of that thought. Peter smiled softly as he rose again, "I have two more pieces of evidence to offer to the court. First I would like to give young master Miller’s mental recollection. Then I would finally like to offer Dreamweaver’s."
Peter typed out a few keys on his datapad before the image of Jacob Miller’s memory scanning came up. The two witnesses had refused to be scanned, but they weren’t completely necessary. The young human was seated in front of the skunktaur, with two guards on the far corners of the room. The skunktaur asked him the same question hy asked Gildedtongue earlier. Then Jacob became quiet as the skunktaur started to speak for him.
"Just a bit longer, then I’ll ask it if it wants to go out for a ride. Fuckin’ God, will it ever shut up." The skunktaur said in the recording. The courtroom grumbled in dissent as some murmurs of lies and trickery bubbled among the visitors.
The skunktaur went on for a few minutes until they reached the car. "Johnny said the seats should be able to hold a half a thousand kilograms, should hold a squirmy morph. Let’s see if it works. ‘Hey, sorry babe, you’ll be okay there.’ Fuckin’ tail getting in the way. ‘Shut up, will you? Keep that up and I’ll give you something to bitch about.’" The skunktaur continued, making the room get louder in their anger. The judge’s gavel slammed a few times for quiet, which the visitors offered begrudgedly.
"Fuck its tight, but shallow, can’t get in deep enough for fucking," the skunktaur muttered with Jacob’s mental voice. "What, who’s there? You! I’ll fucking gut you, you piece of shi- Argh! Yagh!" the skunktaur yelped before going limp again, just like the last recording. The visitor section was in an uproar, screaming for the blood of the officers. Peter remained calm as he sat. He had a final piece of evidence to show, his final trump. He looked over at the jury. Some were angered much like others in the room, though some were in shock, just where he wanted them. Peter rose slowly, exhaling evenly.
"I’d like to finally display Dreamweaver’s memory scan. I believe it should put the final questions anyone might have about the events to rest." Peter stated. The small population there wasn’t too happy about all the theatrics, but glad to see this near the end. Peter’s hand trembled as he moved to tap on his datapad. He gulped quietly to himself as he closed his eyes; this one was definitely the worst of the crop.
The beginning of the recording was the same as the last one with general questioning of agreement to the scan. Dreamweaver sat on hir haunches like Gildedtongue did earlier. It was the first time Gildedtongue saw even an image of Dreamy since the events. Shi looked just as ragged and exhausted as the longtail that had been put on trial. The events of the dance played out with a teenage jubilation of young love. A sense of confusion and urgency came up as Miller asked Dreamweaver to the car. Dream wondered if hir date was feeling ill and followed him closely. Miller was a gentleman as he opened up the door for hir, but as shi climbed in, shi felt hir right foreleg and hindleg slip under the seats.
"My legs are being crushed!" the officer plead to no one, "I have to back out to adjust myself. Wait, what the hell is going on? Oh shit, is he trying? Oh God. ‘No, Jake, I don’t want to! No, stop!’ I can’t seem to get the leverage to break off the seats or slip my legs out." The skunktaur let out a yelp of psychic pain; "he’s dragging a knife on my flanks. Maybe if I just give him what he wants he won’t hurt me." The skunktaur whimpered openly, letting tears flow as hy felt the chakat’s memory. Dream was quaking in the grip the skunktaur had on hir. Shi whimpered softly.
The officer continued slowly, "I can’t relax enough to even give him what he wants. Oh shit, this can’t be how I die. What, why is he stopping? Is that Gildy? Oh thank God." The skunktaur and the chakat both flinched as the moment of the shattered hand passed through the memory. "Oh, oh Gildy, you can stop now. Oh God, thank you. ‘Aiee!’" the skunktaur let out another yelp, most likely the moment the knife went through the roof of the PTV. " ‘Stop, Stop it, Gildy! You’ve finished him!’ shi can’t hear me. What’s going o…" the skunktaur slumped again as the memory once again ended with the feeling of the stunner.
The image flickered off of the viewscreen. Everyone in the room was eerily silent. No shouts of dissent, no demand of genetically engineered blood. Just deafening silence. Peter slowly rose, himself still shaken from seeing the events a second time. He coughed into his fist to garner some courage. "The Defense rests, your Honor." Peter slumped back into his chair, emotion and adrenaline causing his hands to shake and spasm randomly.
The judge nodded and banged his gavel on his bench again, "Very well, we shall listen to the closing arguments. Sister Ontario, you have five minutes." The nun rose slowly, clearing her throat softly. She knew that the jury’s decision has been skewed far beyond her ability to sway at this point. She, however, continued to hammer the fact that Jacob Miller’s career has been completely ruined because of this bout of vigilante justice. Had Gildedtongue reported the activity rather than take the law into hir own hands, shi might have not been in this mess. She rest her case and stormed back to her seat. Peter took a sip of water from a nearby glass before standing up to the jury.
"Members of the jury. What you have seen was not an act of malice, but rather an act of mercy. While action is what our laws are based on, we must temper all these actions with motives. Immanuel Kant, an 18th century philosopher claimed that motive and drive was above all action. In this case, I would say he is correct. Gildedtongue’s motives were pure and good, the motive of defending those who cannot defend themselves. Many of you might feel that is true, but shi went too far." Peter shrugged, "But you must look upon your own virtues, and accept that Zeal is something to be praised. Shi made sure that the defenseless was to be defended in the future.
It is in this logic that we must uphold justice and law to its fullest extent and find my client, Gildedtongue, innocent, for only then will justice truly be served. I thank you, and praise be." Peter calmly returned to the table with Gildedtongue. The judge rapped his gavel again, dismissing the jury.
"At ten hundred hours tomorrow, you shall return with your verdict. Until then the defendant will remain in its-hir cell. Court is adjourned."
Gildedtongue was nigh dancing on the ceiling as shi was led back to hir cold cell. Shi couldn’t believe that things were going so well. Shi never felt the door close behind hir as shi looked around the empty room shi had called home for two weeks. Shi lay on hir backs, looking up at the ceiling, resting up for the morrow. Things couldn’t get worse after this, could they? Shi had it made, right? The nagging uncertainty certainly felt heavier as it dragged hir back to earth. Sure, the evidence pointed toward hir innocence, but sometimes bigotry and hatred outweighed fact. Shi sighed softly to hirself as shi curled up around hirself, fighting to accept sleep.
Gildedtongue awoke to the pounding of a fist on hir door. It opened up as three guards seized hir roughly. The chakat yelped in pain, wiggling around in their grip, trying to find footing and leverage to pull away. The police seemed particularly aggressive and never used to physically touch hir before. The half awake chakat felt hir clothing pulled off of hir before being pushed into a running tap of cold water. The feline bathed quickly, using hir pads to scrub off any dirt. It wasn’t a particularly good job, however it had been since the incident since hir last cleansing.
The water shut off as quickly as it had came. Another quick set of raps on the door before the guards came to grab hir again, tossing hir garments into hir hands as they resumed their march, making the chakat keep up and dress at the same time. The series of corridors to the courtroom felt more labyrinthine than before, maybe because shi just wanted to hear the verdict and leave. They paused in front of a familiar set of wooden doors and the guards put hir hands into binders behind the chakat’s back.
The courtroom felt painfully bright compared to the last sessions. The murmurs of the attendees made a sea of noise. Calm, but a stone could easily ripple and drive it violent. The chakat was lead next to hir attourney. Peter smiled and nodded to his client, giving hir a thumbs up. Gildedtongue could only respond with a Sign of the Cross and clasped hands in dramatic prayer, hoping this will go well.
The jury certainly took their time arriving. Gildedtongue’s mouth was dry and hir tail wrapped tightly around the table leg in front of hir. Shi took a look around the room while they waited. Again, most of the attendees were angry citizens baying for blood and vengeance; the rest was the media looking for a good story, which usually entailed blood as well.
The members of Gildedtongue’s jury finally filed into their box. A deathly silence filled the room as the twelve, heads down and lips unquivering took their seats. Gildedtongue couldn’t breathe, the air too thick with suspense to fit into hir mouth. As soon as they sat, the room burst into a frantic muttering, making last minute speculation of the oncoming verdict. The banging of the judge’s gavel brought the attendees to a complete silence. His old, tired eyes surveyed all before him.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this court has resumed session. Members of the jury, have you reached a verdict?" the judge asked, turning over to the box.
"We have, your honor," an older, frail man spoke. He slowly stood up, opening a small fold of paper, looking over it a few times before continuing. "In the case of Jacob Miller v. Gildedtongue, in the event of malicious and unlawful acts of assault..."
Time seemed to completely stop for Gildedtongue. Shi could count the nanomoments between the beats of hir hearts. Hir eyelids tried to close in a blink to moisten hir eyes, but it wasn’t moving fast enough. Gildedtongue could smell Peter’s fingernails digging into the palms of his hands, making a small blood vessel burst, loosing his life essence. The slow feeling of the shower’s moisture evaporating from hir fur. Everything seemed to wait for the next words from this man’s lips.
"Not guilty on all charges."
The mob that had gathered in the seats made their disgust well known, screaming obscenities and booing the jury. Neither the judge, nor the guards could ever hope to quiet the people there. Gildy didn’t particularly care as shi wrapped hir arms around Peter’s body, hugging him tightly, giving his cheek a kiss. Calls of rage claiming that the Federation had meddled with the trial peppered the room as the judge pointed to the chakat, asking the bailiff to escort hir out into the Judge’s chambers. Gildedtongue was lead away as the room continued to fall into chaos.
The judge’s chambers were the opposite Gildedtongue would have thought. Rather than anything remotely elaborate or ornamental, it was almost a monk’s cell. A desk with a name plaque stating "High Inquisitor Saul Robinson" was in front of a data pad and an open book. Gildedtongue hid a blush, realizing that shi never knew the judge’s name prior to the trial, and it was already over.
Saul sighed as he removed his heavy robe, showing a lithe, small man dressed in a simple white tunic and white pants. He hung his robe on the wall before sitting down, interlocking his fingers, staring at the chakat. "Lord knows how you’ve done it, but you managed to avoid the wrath of the law. Obviously there is something to be said about luck." Gildedtongue swallowed dryly, keeping at the far wall of the room, staring at the only other occupant.
"But, it is in the ways of men to destroy things that should not be," Saul muttered, turning his gaze icily to the Gildedtongue. "You are simply a thing created by man in a war that needed more soldiers than were pushed out of the womb to fight it. Oh, sure, you yourself weren’t, nor was your," Saul tasted the air in thought, "type. But you are all from the same mud. A mud of people who thought they could be greater than God.
"Through some sort of sick turn of events that will only try the faith of those blind to the truth, you managed to break free. But like any farmer that owns a dog who has tasted the blood of man, there are many people more than willing to put you down. How much farther do you think your luck will hold, construct? How fast do you think you can precede the devil? Don’t think that your wars will always be taken to the civility of this building. The longer you remain here, the more you are tempting the fates God placed here!"
Gildedtongue felt hir claws pricking over hir palm. Hir eyes looking over the angry defeated inquisitor as shi shook hir head. "Your words are dead, old man. Your words and the words that you claim to follow and uphold. This whole country is a mockery of the truths that it claims to be based upon," the chakat growled offensively. "I thank God every day that I’m not cut out of the same cloth as you." Hir hand outstretched and a finger damning the man before hir, "Not all humans, but you and your kind, Inquisitor, a complete disgrace to your species and your religion. If I am sent to the last level of Hell simply for not being like you, then I shall call it Paradise, for nowhere with the likes of you could be called Heaven."
Gildedtongue felt hir whole body trembling in a thousand emotions. Fear, anger, pain, disgust, and sorrow filled hir chest. Hir hand slowly lowered as shi closed hir eyes lightly, exhaling the rest of hir breath before resuming to speak, "Know this, Inquisitor. Know that I shall not be remaining in this tainted pit of hellfire for much longer. I have wasted half of my life hoping for some sense of human decency, but came across only barbarism. This "Place of Peace" is merely a cesspool of hate and insanity. Good day, sir."
Gildedtongue stood up and walked out of the room, letting the doors slam behind hir. Shi returned to hir cell where shi picked up hir effects from that evening weeks ago. A torn dress, a purse with a bus pass, a credstick, some cigarettes and a comb. That was all shi had.
No, shi had freedom and hope.
To be be continued in Book II: Purgatorio.
Chakats and the Chakat universe are copyright © Bernard Doove, and are used with permission.
Skunktaurs are the creation of Bob Reijns.
All other characters are copyright © 2007 Robert Adrian firstname.lastname@example.org
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