Chapter 12.

13 Feb

The courtroom was small, with dark caoba walls, wainscoting, and judge’s bench and desk. A night in carcel cells had made both Quio and Sagaza tired and disheveled. Neither one had ever been in the clutches of the law before. Disorientation and shock enveloped both of them as they were brought in through a side door. They were in a totally unfamiliar setting.

A large group of telepaths sat together in the back of the chamber, among whom was their leader, Damo Absum. He was nervously attentive, watching all that was transpiring about him.

Quio, looking to the back, caught sight of Oba and Shan together in the front row of seats. He gave them a slight nod, a sign of recognition and thankfulness for their presence.

The bailiff entered from the judge’s chamber and called the court to order.

A little old man in pinkish robe entered. Everyone, including the two accused, stood. Only when the magistrate himself was seated on his high platform did the rest also sit down.

Addressing the proctor on the left side of the room, the judge ordered him to begin.

Rising to his feet, the obese prosecuting attorney spoke in a gruff, caustic voice.

“These two persons were arrested while engaged in the vile aberration of applying telepathic energy upon material for the purpose of chemical transformation. Under the provisions of our psychic code such attempts are prohibited. This serious infraction of law was in progress when law officers apprehended these two perpetrators in the laboratory of Azote Products. They have been charged and brought to immediate trial because of the seriousness of the crime. Neither of them has requested an advocate. Both say that they will carry out their own defense. They claim to be prepared to do so.

“Because of the public benefit of making an example of them, we urge the wise court to give immediate judgment so that their penal period may begin at once.”

“Does either of you have anything to say before I pronounce judgment and announce what your sentences will be?” asked the judge calmly and coolly.

Quio and Sagaza looked at each other. She gave a nod, then the engineer rose and addressed th judge in a clear, ringing tone.

“Your Excellency, let me first say that I am a direct descendent of the Deliverer, Raxis Absum. Were he with me today, that pioneer of telesthesia would be appalled at the outrageous deviation from the principles he taught in the indictment brought against me and Miss Sagaza.”

A buzzing noise came from the back of the chamber, causing the judge to pound his little kevel once before the accused proceeded on.

“Our heritage from Raxis tells us to experiment and try the new, not to limit ourselves and others. The only prohibition the Deliverer made was to cause no harm, loss, or injury to others. The same limits that apply to all behavior are the boundaries for telepathy. If something is unlawful in social interaction and intercourse, then it is likewise banned in the psychic sphere. That is the only law, nothing beyond it can be enforced by anyone. It is fully sufficient for all purposes.

“Like all of science, what we were doing was part of all ordinary life. Whatever governs the latter must logically also apply to the former. There can be no exception to this consistent principle. Morality, as well as immorality, possess similar definitions in both realms. There are no exceptions.

“What was done at Azote Products was a legal, moral use of psychic capability. It was not unnatural, but a catalyst for what otherwise was perfectly lawful and socially acceptable: a chemical reaction involving engine fuels. No one was injured or harmed. The only objectors to our work that promises to be beneficial to our future were certain hypocrites who want to stifle all advancement in telepathy. They are reactionaries, afraid of mental progress.

“We did not attempt transmutation of substances. Our goal was not to obtain precious goods from base materials. We sought fuel to propel forward new aerial vehicles. Our goal was unselfish and honest. Our arrests were the product of a vicious personal vendetta aimed at me alone.”

With that, Quio turned his head around and stared accusingly at Damo in the rear of the courtroom. He glared at him with indignation.

The judge rapped his kevel once. “Are you finished?” he asked.

“Yes,” answered Quio, sitting down. “I am done.”

A solemn quiet prevailed while the magistrate decided among his options. Everyone waited to hear what his judgment was going to be.

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