Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Part 29, Chapter 2 - The Day After The Worst Two Days

Lord Dom comes into the operations center the next morning to tell Jonnie that the trial's results will be announced in two hours, and Jonnie is invited due to his role in arresting Lord Schleim. There's also talk about possible reparations for Earth, which Jonnie seizes upon as a way to deal with the Galactic Bank.

With the help of manservant Tsung, Jonnie gets bathed and dressed. The newly-promoted Mandarin even has a new toy, a box on a cord around his neck that translates Chinese into English - a gift from the original Small Gray Man for starting a bank account, after the Tsung family started making money selling paintings and dragon sculptures to the alien ambassadors. Yes, the Selachee banker's library had data on "court Mandarin Chinese" and the equipment necessary to convert it to English. Of course one of the aliens took the time to visit Earth during the Psychlo occupation, meticulously gather data on an ancient, complicated, and nigh-extinct language, and figure out a way to convert it into another ancient, complicated, nigh-extinct language, as well as the Psychlo tongue.

Basically I'm running on the knowledge that there's only 130 pages left at this point.

Jonnie takes his seat amongst the audience in the impromptu courtroom, with all the alien lords assembled on one side and Schleim sitting in the middle, wrapped in chains and placed in a minecart for reasons that surely make sense to the aliens. The emissaries vote unanimously that Lord Schleim did "willfully and maliciously" order an attack on the conference, that he personally attempted to paralyze and attack the delegates, and that the entire Tolnep nation be branded outlaws due to Schleim's actions. The other races' militaries are absolved of guilt but charged with seeing any Tolenp prisoners of war deposited in a holding area on Earth, escorting the surviving Tolnep fleet home, and informing the Tolnep homeworld of its outlaw status. Shcleim in particular is set to be deposited naked and in chains in Tolnep's slave market as a sign of the conference's intense displeasure.

Our hero is called up and exonerated for bonking Schleim with a thrown scepter, and is given the Crimson Slash in recognition of saving the emissaries' lives. Lord Voraz whispers the meaning behind the honor (it's about a guy who saved an alien princess' boyfriend from being killed and earning a superficial wound in the process. Obviously the critters involved had red blood), and also informs Jonnie that he's now officially a Lord, and one who gets a two thousand credit yearly pension. Jonnie is impatient for reparations to be discussed and plans to put the sash on his horse.

Tolnep is fined a trillion credits, to be split among the ambassadors who weren't part of the coalition over Earth. The humans themselves get pretty much nothing - Voraz explains that next to the thirty-nine trillion Chatovarians spread across seven hundred worlds, thirty-three thousand humans don't earn much of a cut. I'm wondering if having 33,000 organisms qualifies a species for "Endangered" status.

Jonnie asks about all the (abandoned and ruined) cities the Tolneps "destroyed" and if that could help them get some reparations, but Voraz explains that he mentioned them to increase Earth's property value, but that this is a trial, not a peace conference. As consolation, he tells Jonnie that Tolnep's economy will crash from this fine, and that at least there aren't any hostile aliens around anymore. The emissary in charge of the "trial" tells Jonnie to either get Earth's representative Sir Robert, or be ready to sign some paperwork himself.

The chapter ends with a mournful Jonnie heading out of the conference, too crushed about the lack of reparations to notice the Small Gray Men (Dries came back at some point) smiling at each other at the idea of Jonnie signing papers.

So, that was the "trial," a bunch of aliens voting on sentences that will destroy an entire civilization and a distinct lack of evidence, cross-examination, lawyers, or defense of the accused. I'm wondering what this tells us about the author's view of the legal system, and if he's in favor of or against it. But I'm grateful that we only spent this chapter on it instead of an entire Part.

Next time, Jonnie loses his temper.

Back to Chapter One

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