Category: Drama, Angst
11th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to A Difference of Visions
Introduction: Avon speaks.
Everyone's eyes were focused on Avon who sat stiffly on a chair that was on a raised platform at the front. He had been there before the crew or any of the spectators arrived. Avon sat staring straight ahead, never moving, almost like a statue. Only the shallow movements of his chest indicated that he was alive. Shades covered his eyes. It was hard to tell if he was asleep or in deep thought.
Argus sat tall and straight, as he normally would, except that this time he consciously wanted to convey an air of confidence and, he hoped, someone with a just cause. He, Cally and Vila sat together at the Defence table, which was noticeably bare. Its burnished metallic surface reflecting the glare of the overhead lights. Almost blinding at the right angle. Compared to the laden surface of the Prosecution table, theirs seemed unprepared.
Argus had to resist the urge to go to Avon's aid. To slice the bonds he was certain held Avon to the chair. But his role today was a rescuer of a different kind. One with words and a silver tongue, both of which he felt supremely lacking in. But he was going to try.
The murmur of the crowd was incessant as everyone tried to talk at once.
Argus kept taking deep breaths and letting them out slowly. Trying to relax. Cally had to whisper to him once, telling him to stop or he would pass out from hyperventilation. He wished it were anyone else doing this but him. He needed to fight something, storm a hill somewhere. That was what he was good at.
He had felt better after speaking to Cally and Reya and they had pointed out that there was no evidence, unless someone could produce the recordings from the security logs. His side was the only one who had those. Or at least, Jenna and Sester both had copies.
If there were witnesses, Argus had his own in Vila. The only ones the Prosecution could produce would be people who had been in the tracking gallery at the time of the shooting. But the only live ones left were Avon and Vila.
That must have been why Jenna had been determined to make Avon confess. She realized that unless the trial was nothing more than a 'kangaroo court', with the verdict decided by popular opinion alone, she could not hope to win a fair trial. It would simply be her word against Avon's and Vila's.
It could still turn out her way, depending on the mood of the rebel leaders and how much control Avalon had over the proceedings. Argus had heard more than enough since arriving to be concerned. If Avalon lost control, then it would be little more than a lynching mob. Then Sester's work with Jenna would be essential. Jenna had to produce the security logs. It was the only way to sway the ugly mood of the crowd.
Beside him, Cally leaned over and whispered, "Jenna isn't here yet. And neither is Sester."
He whispered back, "I know."
Sester had contacted him the previous evening and told him that Jenna had been prepared and should show up at the trial with the recordings. He had also said that he might be late because there was something he had to check out. The aggravating man had also asked that Argus stall and that he would try to get back the next day. He had not explained why or what he was checking out.
Vila, who was on the other side of Cally, also leaned over and whispered, "I'm getting a bad feeling about this."
Argus said worriedly, "I am too."
Vila had a pained look on his face, "I wish you hadn't said that."
Avalon entered the room and a hushed silence descended on the noisy crowd. Behind her, two men and a woman crossed over to the Prosecution table. Avalon sat to one side as the host and chairman of the trial. She raised her hand. "This proceeding is about to begin. I remind everyone that there will be order during this trial or I will have you removed." To stress her point, her eyes swept the room slowly. "Very well, let us begin. This is the trial of Kerr Avon. The charges are as follows: charge number one is the planned and wilful murder of Roj Blake."
There were angry murmurings. Avalon shot a firm look at the audience and the voices died down.
She continued, "Second, is treason against the rebel alliance." Avalon looked towards Argus, "How does the Defence plead."
Argus stood up and took a deep breath.
A raspy voice, barely heard said, "I wish to speak."
Everyone turned with shock to Avon, who had turned his head to address Avalon.
Avalon asked Avon, "You wish to speak for yourself?"
Argus asked, "Avon, are you sure?"
Avalon said, "Very well. What do you wish to say in response to the charges?"
Avon's head lowered. "I wish to plead guilty. To all charges."
There was a collective gasp.
Cally half-rose from her seat. "Avon! No!"
There was a trace of a grimace on Avon's face as he turned towards her.
Argus had been shocked into silence but now he spoke, his voice echoed like thunder. "This is wrong! Avon you cannot confess to something you did not do!"
Vila also rose from his seat, "Avon, you have to tell them."
There were shouts from the audience. "Death to the traitor!"
Avon turned to Avalon. "Avalon, I plead guilty to all charges and will accept the full sentence of this tribunal. I have not been coerced in any way. This is done of my own free will. I only ask one request."
Avalon hesitated and then she said, "Name the request."
"I ask that I be allowed to speak to my crewmates, alone before the sentence is carried out."
An object flew through the air, the size of a man's fist, and hit Avon in the chest.
An explosive, angry energy had been building up inside Argus. Now it exploded. He bellowed, "No! This is wrong!" He rushed the platform, trying to reach Avon.
Guards stepped in front to block him but they fell aside as he went straight through them as if they weren't there. Some of the rebel leaders ran forward to stop him, some with weapons drawn, but Argus leapt onto the stage and stood with his arms wide in front of Avon, like a protecting wall. "You will not hurt him!"
Other guards had come forward and held weapons on Cally and Vila.
The energy was singing in Argus's ears, pulsating power running through his body, preparing him for battle. His voice was an angry accusation. "Avalon, you promised me a fair trial."
Avalon said, "I had every intention of honouring it. But Avon has confessed, there is no longer a need for a trial."
Argus lips curled in a snarl. "You forced him into it, just like Jenna."
"I swear to you. I did not apply any pressure on Avon."
From behind, Avon's scratchy voice said, "Jack."
Argus whirled to face him, an appeal in his eyes. "Avon, no."
"It must be this way."
Argus's face was contorted in pain. "No! I cannot let you do this. I…can't." He stepped to Avon's side. His sharp eyes could see where the barely visible ropes cut into Avon's body.
He whispered so that only the two of them could hear. "I'm sorry, Avon."
Avon said, "No."
But it was too late, with one sweep of his hand, Argus had ripped the shades from Avon's face. There was shocked silence at the sight of Avon's damaged eyes.
Before anyone could blink, Argus reached forward and tore the shirt from Avon's body. There were horrified gasps at the ugly marks of torture that were still clearly visible.
Argus was not done. His concealed knife slid into his hand and he sliced upwards with unerring accuracy. At first there was no effect and then Avon groaned and fell forward, unable to remain seated without the bonds. Argus caught him and lowered him gently to the ground. "I'm sorry, Avon. But there was no other way."
Argus looked up at the gathered rebels. They were all standing in shock and uncertainty. "This was what was done to Avon. They tortured him in order to force him to confess. I demand that his confession be considered void."
Avalon approached. "Argus, that will not work. Jenna did torture Avon before. We both know that. But if you look at him, you will see that there have been no new injuries. In fact, we have been trying to heal him."
Argus looked down reluctantly and knew that she was right. His mind searched for something to say, anything. Sester said to stall. "Give us time. There are files. Recordings of the security logs from Gauda Prime. They will show you the truth of what happened."
Avalon asked, "Where are these recordings?"
Argus looked around desperately but there was still no sign of Jenna or Sester. Where are they?!
He said, "We have them…but not right now. If you will give us time…"
The scarred lip man from the arrivals hall said, "He's stalling, Avalon. Let's kill the traitor now. What are we waiting for?"
There were shouts of agreement and a few uncertain dissenters who wanted to know more of what Argus was saying.
Argus said, "At least give us time with Avon. That's all I ask. One day. You owe him that. You all owe him that. No matter what crimes you think he's committed, you cannot deny that he has also done a great deal for the alliance. Not to mention, he helped saved this galaxy during the alien invasion. If he hadn't risked his life and stayed in the gap, we would all be dead or enslaved."
Avalon's eyes were troubled.
Argus continued, "Avalon, look at him. You know what Jenna did to him. Don't you owe him at least one day with people who don't hate him? Please, Avalon."
Avalon nodded. "You're right. We do owe him that much. You have one day. I hope it's enough time to produce the files you spoke of."