Fiction Tuesday – On Trial

Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes

“All rise.”

Everyone in the courtroom stood as Finch Herald, the Attorney General of Copyright, entered the tent and took his seat at the judge’s bench.

Two weeks had passed since Stevens had begun working the case against the Horde. Representatives from the major firms which made up The Bar had been brought in to serve as the jury for the trial, and General Isme had also come to camp as chief representative of The Realm. Bug and the Professor served as co-defendants, while the rest of their group had been prepared as key witnesses. Will had become the key to the entire case.

When AG Herald had been seated, those present also took their seats. The bailiff then called to the stand one of the most anticipated witnesses of the trial.

“The court calls Fictive Kindle to the witness stand.”

Murmuring began as soon as the name was announced, causing Finch to rap his gavel on his bench.

“Order! There will be order in this court!”

“I wonder when the Kangaroos are going to show up,” muttered Bug as the room began to quiet down.

Oblivious to the minor upheaval caused by his name, an unassuming lawyer stood and approached the witness stand. He was average height, with a tangle of brown hair atop his head. As was the custom of his firm, Fictive wore a three piece camouflage suit, cut from a pattern of blues and grays Will hadn’t before seen. The lawyer turned and smiled at the assembly, raising his right hand as the bailiff swore him in.

“Do you swear to uphold the highest ethical standards of The Bar of Copyright, to tell the truth and refrain from using annoying spin or innuendo?”

“I do,” replied Fictive, and then he took his seat.

Once seated, a black-suited lawyer from the plaintiff’s table stood and began his examination.

“Sir, for the court, would you please state your name and occupation?”

“My name is Fictive Kindle, Senior Partner of the Copyright Coalition.”

“And for those who are unfamiliar with that organization, would you please describe it?”

“Of course. We are a partnership between the First State Firm of The Bar, and the Eastern Patent Trolls.”

“And your purpose is?”

“Our purpose is to discover any group or organization which is defying the Copyright Accords and bring them under the authority of The Bar.”

“I see. So, in many ways, you are bringing law and order to people who survive through smuggling and piracy, correct?”

“Objection!” Stevens shouted as he stood. “Leading the witness.”

“Sustained,” Agreed Finch.

The black suited lawyer nodded in submission. “Withdrawn. Mr. Kindle what do say to those who claim the region against which you are currently deployed is not part of the Copyright Accords?”

“I say the Copyright Accords cover the entirety of the Unreal Realms. Whether their local governments have signed off on the Accords or not.”

“Objection!” Stevens shouted again. “Copyright Universalism is not legal precedent.”

“Your Honor,” shot back black suit. “My client’s legal views explain why he authorized the actions taken by the Coalition. If he’s not permitted to voice them then this trial must be called into question.”

Finch grunted. “I’ll allow it. But you are strolling over very thin ice, Mr. Walker. Tread carefully.”

Walker nodded, and continued his questioning. “And why do you say the region which claims the name ‘The Realm’ is under Copyright even though it is not a signatory of the Accords?”

“Because the Copyright Accords apply to all citizens of signatory realms. People can’t emigrate into a far corner of the Unreal Realms, set up a coalition government and claim they aren’t under the treaty. Moreover, they can’t use this claim to conduct trades which are forbidden the rules of the Accords.”

“And what about their claims to not be immigrants, but rather natives to their lands?”

Fictive chuckled. “The Bar has been in existence for centuries, and we’ve never come across a true realm which wasn’t instinctive in their acceptance of the Accords. Only bands of rogues and pirates, anarchists who reject all authority, resist The Bar. Just because the people of the “Realm” have been hidden for much longer than most of these deviant groups doesn’t make them qualitatively different.”

“And what proof do you have that the people of this region are, in reality, immigrants from other Unreal Realms?”

“Well, our coalition has uncovered a number of abandoned smuggling passes into the region, which betrays a connection with the rest of the Unreal Realm which goes back much farther than their representatives admit. And there is the fact our injunctions are effective against their people — proof their population is, by nature, under Copyright.”

Muttering began once more, causing AG Herald to bring the gavel down upon his bench, “I said their will be order. One more outburst and I will clear this tent.”

Mr. Walker nodded his thanks and announced, “Thank you, your honor, no further questions.”

“Very well. Mr. Stevens, your witness.”

Stevens stood and straightened his suit jacket. “Thank you, Your Honor.”

“Mr. Kindle. You said the ability for The Bar’s injunction munitions to wound the people of The Realm is proof they are under Copyright. Correct?”

“I said our injunctions can injure the people who claim to be from that region, which shows they are under Copyright. Yes.”

“And this is your sole reason for believing they are, in reality, a migrant people trying to escape the Copyright Accords?”

Fictive huffed annoyance. “Hardly. The population demographics of this so-called realm spring from its nearest neighbors. Gnomes, elves, dwarves, and even wizards? They are hardly an original people.”

“And yet, each culture in The Realm…”

“Objection! Your Honor, the existence of this region as a separate realm is what this trial is about. If counsel for the defense continues to refer to it as such before judgement he is influencing the jury!”

“Your honor, I’m using the terminology of my clients. Nothing more.”

Finch smirked. “I’d hardly call it ‘nothing,’ Mr. Stevens. But, as you are working on your client’s behalf I will allow it.” The AG then turned toward the jury and add, “Please do not see the witness’ willingness to answer the questions as posed as acceptance of the Defendant’s claims.” Banging his gavel on the bench he concluded, “Overruled!”

Stevens nodded toward the bench as he continued. “As I was saying, each of the population groups in The Realm has a culture entirely unrelated to the populations of elves and dwarves and gnomes in the nearby Copyright Realms. Is this this not correct?”

“Cultures diverge over time, certainly, but time does not erase the immutable nature of the Copyright Accords.”

“So you say. But would cultural divergence explain why injunctions affect the peoples of The Realm in unique ways?”

Fictive straightened. “I’m afraid I don’t understand the question.”

“I’m referring to the issue of fading, as the peoples of The Realm call it.” Stevens returned to the defense table and picked up a folder. He held it up toward the Bench and continued, “Your Honor. I present to the court testimony from Professor Cooly Nobody, co-defendant and an expert on the nature of fading. It describes how The Bar’s injunction munitions impact the lives of those wounded by them. Loss of color vision, taste, and pigmentation. And, if left untreated, their memory fades from the living — including the faded’s very name.”

Finch motioned for the folder. “Very well, the court accepts your evidence as ‘Exhibit A.’”

“Thank you, Your Honor.” Turning back to the witness, Stevens continued. “Are you familiar with the process of fading?”

Fictive cleared his throat. “We have heard unconfirmed rumors of the phenomena. Yes.”

“And are any of these effects common in populations which fall under the Copyright Accords?”

“They do not occur in the other populations which live under the Accords. No.”

“And why do you think these munitions would affect this population in such a different manner?”

“I’m afraid, not being an expert on the phenomena, I couldn’t say.”

“And yet part of your basis for assuming the people of The Realm automatically fall under the Copyright Accords on the fact our munitions can wound them?”

Fictive’s lips tightened to a line. “Yes.”

“So that was your inexpert opinion?”

Walker jumped to his feet. “Objection! Your Honor, badgering the witness.”

“Sustained. Careful, Mr. Stevens.”

Once again, Stevens bowed toward the bench. “I withdraw the question, Your Honor.” Turning back to the witness stand he approached Fictive as he spoke. “And what is your opinion on resources in The Realm which have no correlation in any other Unreal Realms?”

“Such as?”

“Penny Ore.”

Fictive choked a laugh. “The mythological ore which forms natural pennies and is able to create portals to the so-called ‘Real Realms?’ Please. It does not exist.”

This was too much for Bug, who called out, “When it blows up in your face you’ll think different you pompous blowhard.”

The crowed erupted into murmuring as Finch rapped his gavel on the bench in an attempt to call the proceedings back to order. When everyone managed to settle down, the AG addressed Bug with a scowl. “Mr. Moume, as you are new to our ways I will excuse your outburst this one time. Should you make such an outburst again, however, I will remove you from this tent. Am I understood?”

Bug stood and nodded. “Yes your honor.” He took his seat once more, but smiled when Sindy reached out and squeezed his shoulder in support.

“I have one more question, Mr. Kindle. What are your thoughts on Applied Imagination?”

Will’s attention was jerked away by the sudden appearance of a voice resonating in his skull.

Will, stand up.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Applied Imagination. The power to take disparate ideas and create something new from them — transformations which often have little or no link to the parts from which they were formed. An energy field which is, in fact, unique in the Unreal Realms and is the source of The Realm’s successful defenses against the munitions of Copyright. What are your thoughts on it?”

Fictive’s face had burned to crimson as Stevens spoke, and sweat was now pouring from his brow.

Will, stand up now.

Will and Fictive stood almost in unison as the witness began to shout. “The Patent Trolls were right. Those people are a danger to everything we’ve ever known!” He then pointed an accusatory finger toward Nobody and cried, “And that one is the worst of all of them. He turns copyright on its head as if this were all a game. They must be brought under our heel, and he must be brought to an end!”

Take two steps to the right, Will.

Fictive Kindle then pulled a pistol from his suit and pointed to toward Nobody. As the Attorney General shouted for order, and the Bailiffs rushed to contain the hostile witness, the deranged Senior Partner fired three injunctions in rapid succession. Each hit the Professor in the chest, passing through the space from which Will had just stepped.

Sindy screamed and rushed toward her father as the gallery fled from the tent in a panic. Bug stood, looking down toward his father-in-law in shock as armed Lawyers moved in to secure the scene. Isme took to his own feet in a rage and shouted toward Finch, who had turned bright white.

“Was this your plan all along?” the general shouted.

Off to the Judge’s right, Fictive broke into a fit of laughter as several explosions reverberated through the camp.

It’s time, Will. Show them who you are.

The teen stepped forward toward the bench, ignoring cries for him to retreat and join his friends. The site of Nobody bleeding on the ground had broken him, and now he saw his purpose. He was a pawn of Narrative, sent to make certain the story continued. He knew he needed to heal the tale, and yet had no idea how.

But he stepped forward anyway.

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