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Silent enim inter arma Tribunals (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 42[]

Silent enim inter arma: Tribunals[]

Unity City
North America, Terra
Sol Star System
Republic of the Sphere

[Tribunal chambers, late afternoon....]

The audio was recorded from Alarion, and for the last eight hours, Seether had laid out for the press in the galleries what happened there, followed by selected segments from the last days of that world.

"There are hundreds of hours of this."  she said.  "THousands of holoimages.  These people died in misery and confusion, mostly without realizing they had been under attack.  this ladies and gentlemen, it isn't even the worst atrocity of the war.  It is simply one of the most prominent."

She laid out receipts and scans for the press cameras now, because the Tribunal had already seen all of this before, and more.  "These are the shipping manifests and delivery receipts.  The Virus came from here, it was loaded on to cargo containers at Luna Port, the people who did the loading had no idea what they were putting in there."

She laid out work-orders.

"All in order, every murder a world."  she turned, "And it was murder. The virals left the hardware intact, it killed people as the primary target, dispatching a little under one-third of Earth's population worth of ordinary people with ordinary lives who basically weren't involved in the decisions.   Street sweepers and shop girls, factory workers and farmers...the people that don't have their pictures in news media, who don't have profiles laid on them, who don't have medals and never had reason to expect to need to earn them."

"We have reports from the aftermath too.  Teams were dispatched to try to find out what went on, what went wrong, to see if they could find any survivors...none of those teams came back from Alarion, because it was too dangerous to allow out."

She clasped her hands behind her, "The perpetrators are not in this court today." she said, "They have not been arraigned, the ones we could identify are no longer alive to answer for it...more's the pity.  When Colonel Haskins, Our distinguished prosecutor was speaking of motive, well..." she gestured at the player, "This is a pretty good one, by itself.  Billions of ordinary people, with ordinary lives and ordinary dreams and ordinary aspirations, to pay their bills, raise their families, or meet someone special, or just get by?  Snuffed out on someone's order.  Those orders, we know, came from the group that held Terra, from the leadership of the Word of Blake."

She rocked on her toes, "Alarion wasn't the only one.  Necromo, another world.  Odessa...and outside the Commonwealth, there was Galedon, where a variant of the same virus was used, Galedon also cannot be visited, billions died there too-not soldiers, just regular people-exteriminated like vermin to what end?"

She walked to her briefcase.  "I can answer this.  This is Hegemony Order 13401..." she dropped a ream of printout, "In among the legalese is a directive to engage covert operations forces to use any means required to prevent technical progress outside the Terran Hegemony from outstripping the Terran Hegemony.  I bring this up, because of Raymond Karpov's Order 373..." she dropped another ream of printout on the evidence desk, "Which references and expands on the Terran Hegemony's order, and finally..."  she lifted the last printoff.  "This is a directive from the Primus of the Word of Blake, dated december of 3059, authorizing the production and distribution of 'special munitions' for use in facilitating something called 'The Third Transfer', it specifically references Karpov and the previous Hegemony order by number and heading."

She strode over to where Colonel Haskins sat in the Prosecution box.  "We dug it up, we dug it out.  This is certainly something to support the prosecutor's case against my client...and it's here.  Because the truth must surface eventually, it must be faced, and confronted, it must be accepted and acknowledged, or..." she turned to the gallery, "We can pretend everything is fine until the next time an Alarion happens, or maybe another Holy Shroud, or maybe someone on the other end decides to drop a rock on Yellowstone and ends another world out of misplaced vengeance and anger."

"In the words my Client used before, we can be better than that. We're all going to need to be. As easy as it was for men in isolated, high positions to say 'okay, let's kill some worlds'?  others in isolated positions might just say 'alright, tit for tat'.  The saying 'An eye for an eye and tooth for tooth leaves everyone blind and at the mercy of the dentist'."

"Geneva was not 'tit for tat'.  Tit for tat would be smacking the major faultlines and calderas and murdering an entire world in revenge for the murder of an entire world."  she walked along the panel, "We're a star-spanning civilization with over seven thousand years of continuous existence, we can do better than that."

She sighed, "This is almost my summation.  The prosecution alleges that Geneva was not a military target. We have proven that it was, the prosecution has tried to claim my client is motivated by revenge. I think this proves she was not.  We have given the intelligence and recon data showing that it was militarily necessary to decapitate the command structure controlling a thousand missile batteries for the safety not only of the assault force, but also the safety and lives of ten billion human beings resident to Earth itself...but my client has one more thing she wishes to demonstrate to the people watching this at home, and to the people in this tribunal, and it's someone who needs to be heard."

She took a deep breath, "Defense calls Luciano Mertz, as hostile witness."

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