Topic: 24.01.105 - The Sentence

If possible, the Garden is even more crowded than it was two weeks ago, when the original trial was held.

This time, the atmosphere is less curious and excited and more tense than previously. The word is that the ringleaders have contemplated the sentences in several meetings, many of them not public. Rumors go around about people planning to use this opportunity to further their political agendas.

Bahar: "Let us begin with the sentence for Andrea, Jaana, Aviah, and Sinuhe, charged for aiding the Lurkers. Please bring forth the suggestions for the sentence."

Laura steps up. "The prosecuted have shown great disregard to a democratic tower ruling. They must be punished harshly. I suggest them being locked up in floatbeds."

"For how long?" asks Hansila. "Indefinately? How can they ever prove their repentance and loyalty if they're locked away in a dream?"

Andrea stands listening, a neutral expression on his face

Mizuki stands with hands folded, alert eyes following the speakers, face not giving anything away.

"The number one priority in these cases is to ensure the crime doesn't get repeated", says Thrayn. "The floatbed will take care of that."

Ishi stands next to Mizuki, looking worried and tense, occasionally glancing at Andrea.

Barbaros: "Oh, and I suppose we should lock away all of those who've done something to hurt the tower when they thought they were helping it? How many floatbeds did we have again?"

Ishi, Mizuki, and Sebastian are currently standing at the edge of the little clearing, in the middle of which Andrea and his friends are standing.

"Their actions can hardly be compared to the usual interring schisms", says Laura. "They knowingly went against tower law, risking the security of everyone."

"Oh, come on!" says Astran. "I can't really see how that could have led to anything dangerous, you're all just being paranoid! The Stargazer ring suggests freeing them from charges."

"That's hardly an option", says McGregor. "Some kind of a punishment must be given. But I know for a fact that these four are good workers, important to the tower's survival, even if their reliability can sometimes be... uncertain. Tower Engineering Society suggests finding a punishment that doesn't prevent them from working."

Alexandra: "I concur that breaching a towerwide decicion is a serious offence, since it undermines the reliability of agreements, and agreements are what any society is fundamentally based on. The punishment needs to be something that's felt."

The discussion goes on for a while, with various ringleaders, as well as others, expressing their opinions on the matter. It seems the two most popular options are floatbed lockup or finding a strict way of punishment that doesn't render the convicts useless to the tower, would they still be inclined to be part of the community.

Those sympathizing with the prosecuted are a minority, mostly consisting of member rings of the Liberal Alliance, who believe in the right for anyone to do the right thing at any time. And, as Astran states, it was the right thing to do.

"Well", says Thrayn. "How about my suggestions? I understand there's a need for volunteers in the Tyler's Ailment project..."

"Yes", says Khitasang. "And I wrote 'volunteers' completely on purpose."

"Still, you need them, and they're not exactly easy to find", says Thrayn. "And this would combine the need for them to contribute to the tower as well as be punished for their deed."

This spurs up another line of arguments, in favor and in opposition. In the end, it's accepted to make this option one of those to be voted on.

Ishi looks disgusted.

Andrea closes his eyes for a moment

Mizuki looks thoughtful.

Thrayn also suggests putting them up for dangerous work, but it doesn't get a great reception. It seems most consider themselves already working on dangerous assignments so it wouldn't even be a punishment.

"What are you going to suggest next?" Astran exclaims. "The death sentence you talked about on the boards?"

Thrayn calmly shakes his head. "I don't believe this crime warrants a death sentence."

The mention of a death sentence causes a series of hushed uproars from the Large Crowd.

Finally, after a long-winding conversation of various suggestions, a vote is reached. It's between four options:

1) Locking up into a floatbed.

2) Volunteering on the medical testing.

3) Working in harsh conditions.

4) Release.

Before the voting commences, Thrayn poses a question to Khitasang: "Please tell us, Khitasang, what's the status of the research. Have you uncovered many carriers during the initial screening?"

Khitasang seems reluctant to reply but as all the eyes turn upon him, he gives in: "Four other second generation colonists have been found to be carriers to the disease", he simply states.

Thrayn: "How urgent does this make our situation?"

Khitasang: "Urgent."

Thrayn: "How many test subjects do you need?"

Mizuki tilts her head, listening to the two.

Khitasang: "At least 20 for the control group, to cover for different genome types."

Thrayn: "What kind of risk are we talking about for the volunteers?"

Khitasang: "That depends entirely on the level of risk we're willing to take, balancing it against the risk of an epidemic..."

"It's been lying dormant for decades", says Thrayn. "How come it's suddenly so urgent?"

"Who's told you...?" Khitasang starts but takes a deep breath. "We were able to discover these five cases because they had started to show the first symptoms of the ailment", he says. "Based on earlier experience, that's when it becomes contagious."

Thrayn: "So, the lives of many are at stake here, I take it."

Khitasang: "Yes, which is why we urge everyone to think carefully if they'd be willing to cooperate with us as subjects to the tests..."

"Or..." says Thrayn. "Would it not be fair that those who were willing to risk the tower previously would now risk themselves for the tower?"

There's a lot of awkward muttering among the audience.

Andrea's eyes narrows and he starts to look somewhat angry

Jaana looks down at the floor, frightened.

Aviah looks furious.

Ishi shakes her head

Tagato shakes his head slowly, eyes halfway closed.

Mizuki's face does not betray any emotion.

Stayn looks thoughful and somewhat confused.

Sinuhe speaks: "We're all, of course, willing to help with this project", he says. "But I believe there are other ways we could better contribute to the success of the tower..."

"Oh yes", says Laura. "I'm sure you're a great mathematician, Sinuhe. But you're not irreplacable - we all have talents. If we could get to the vote - The Watch is in favor of option 2."

Sinuhe: "But certainly, we could find ways... we could remain under observation..."

Mizuki's lips curl downwards in a displeased look.

Laura: "And waste the time of those doing the observation instead of your own? Besides, what would that tell about the value of tower judgements?"

Finally, the voting commences.

When Tagato hears Laura 's statement about her whole ring, he laughs silently.

From the major rings, Dreamers of Gaia, and The Common Good, vote in favor of the floatbed lockup. The Watch, The Horizon and The Association of Scholars are in favor of medical experiments. Tower Engineering Society votes for work in harsh conditions, backed up by several small worker rings, such as Tubelift Central Collective.

Once the votes have been counted, the suggestion to subject the convicts to medical testing wins.

Khitasang protests but finally is outspoken by the rest.

Andrea pales somewhat, but doesn't react otherwise

Ishi looks shocked and disgusted.

Mizuki looks at Ishi quietly.

Relay is fazed by the judgement

The agreement becomes: The convicts will be on the responsibility of The Common Good. That is, they'll arrange for any surveillance that might be needed if they're allowed outside guarentine zones. They will become 'volunteers' to the Tyler's Ailment project, to be used in the tests as needed. After the crisis is over, they'll be free.

Andrea looks as if he doesn't know what to do with himself

Hansila steps up: "I'll volunteer as a test subject."

Mizuki turns her head to study Andrea, blue eyes unblinking, her face a little thoughtful perhaps.

Relay also steps up "I am also volunteering."

Andrea turns to look towards Relay, then Mike before finally settling his gaze at Hansila

Khitasang glances at Hansila, somewhat awkwardly: "Thank you, Hansila. I'd rather have you on the medical team, though, with your expertise..."

Hansila: "It seems you need test subjects more desperately, Khitasang."

Khitasang sighs.

"Well then", says Bahar. "The sentence has been given."

Two other members of Society of Free Colonists have also volunteered.

Mike steps up with the others

Tagato shakes his head at the sight.

"Then", says Bahar, "we shall move on to the second case. Sebastian, Mizuki, and Ishi are charged for emotional torture during the investigation."

Andrea runs a hand down over his face

"Their crime was at least as much against tower judgements as that of the members of our ring", says Hansila. "And, in addition, against the core values of humanity. I suggest at least as harsh a punishment for each of the three."

"That's just ridiculous!" McGregor says. "Risking someone as important to the Tower as Sebastian to something like this is wise on no scale!"

Mizuki stands at attention next to Sebastian and Ishi, face alert.

Andrea: "That's what it comes down to then? Sentence is not based on the crime, but on the person commiting it?"

Relay moves at his place appearing uncharacteristically agitated

Mizuki frowns.

Andrea speaks slowly, without emotion

Sebastian stands quietly, eyes showing no emotion.

Sebastian looks from person to person in the audience.

"I agree", says Laura. "The sentence can't be based on the person. I suggest these three to volunteer to the research as well."

Mizuki frowns some more.

Ishi still looks disgusted from earlier, and somewhat preoccupied

"Even more important than finding a punishment", says Reneb, "is to resolve the problem posed by the closedness of the investigation. I suggest part of the repercussions will be that The Horizon reveals all of the investigation's data to the major ringleaders."

Alexandra, Laura, McGregor, and a few others nod in agreement.

Mike's face shows approval

Barbaros: "'Major ringleaders' is probably going to be defined based on following, not actual responsibility as usual..."

Andrea nods at Reneb's suggestion

Ishi's mouth turns to something like an ironic grin.

Astran: "How about revealing it to all ringleaders?"

Mizuki's eyes flash in annoyance.

Andrea smiles wryly

Laura snorts at Astran. "If we were to disclose it to all ringleaders, we might as well make it public. Which would defeat the purpose of the investigation.."

"Agreed", says McGregor. "I'm in favor of limited disclosure."

Even with the criticism by leaders of smaller rings, this suggestion is accepted rather easily.

"This is not enough, though", says Laura. "We still need to find an actual punishment. I've already stated what I favor."

Alexandra is quiet.

Khitasang shakes his head privately.

Further discussion ensues about various options of punishment to the three, most importantly Sebastian. Many ringmembers of The Horizon express their opinions that their ring would collapse entirely if Sebastian were killed. "And that's in no way beneficial to the tower, no matter what you think!"

During these discussions, Mizuki's body look more tense than previously, and her eyes rest on Sebastian quite often.

The discussion goes on for a long while, but finally there's not enough political resolve, it seems, to subject Sebastian to this punishment. Of the larger rings, Laura and Hansila seem to be alone with her views. Alexandra quietly abstains, while McGregor sticks to his practical view. The Dreamers of Gaia openly support Sebastian's importance.

Instead, the discussion moves into finding other options to punish Sebastian and the other two. All this time, Sebastian himself is quiet, observing everything around him. Loss of factories to his ring is suggested, along with putting him under constant surveillance.

Andrea has a slight wry smile on his lips, as if he's not at all surprised

Ishi removes the band displaying her skills from her upper arm.

Some complain that mixing administorial politics with criminal punishment can lead to nothing but a mess. Can he get them back next election? Who'll receive them? Others claim that this is already messed hugely with politics so why not go the full way?

Mizuki suddenly looks at Ishi, her eyes displaying shock for a brief second, getting through her neutral facade.

Tagato opens his eyes and stares at Ishi 's arm with a look of disbelief.

Ishi stares straight ahead.

Some suggest diplomatic repercussions, such as excluding Sebastian from meetings and various agreements. Others say hampering his ring's function isn't the right way to treat this at all.

Quickly however, the shock fades, and there's displeased resigning on Mizuki's face, as she looks tired for just a moment before resuming her normal unfazed look.

Andrea, seeing some reaction by Mizuki, looks around before noticing Ishi's actions. His eyes widens at the sight.

Tagato shakes his head a little and closes his eyes again.

Even Stayn seems surprised.

Finally, the consensus becomes that The Horizon loses several key factories to an administrator selected by this meeting (turns out to be Reneb). In addition, he must hand over all data regarding the investigation to the major ringleaders.

Hansila laughs openly at this sentence.

Mizuki neutral face is unusually taut as she looks at the biggest tree in the garden.

Somewhere along the line, it becomes a consensus that Sebastian actually didn't commit this crime so this is acceptable. However, Mizuki and Ishi are finally sentenced to the same punishment as Andrea, Sinuhe, Jaana, and Aviah.

This latter is almost an afterthought among the discussion centering mostly on Sebastian.

Ishi: "I would protest to this."

Mizuki grimaces in obvious displeasure and perhaps worry.

Ishi: "It's not much of a punishment for me. I volunteered some time ago."

Andrea stays silent

People look at Ishi. Those not engaged in various arguments, that is.

Tagato smiles slightly at Ishi 's remark

The people hearing Ishi's words seem confused further by this.

Mizuki stays quiet at her position.

Ishi: "and I thought that would be known. I *was* under surveillance, wasn't I?"

Laura frowns. "Someone must not have been paying attention."

Thrayn: "We understood you were working as a medic."

"We can't treat you differently only because you volunteered", says Khitasang. "Consider it a reward for your altruism."

Ishi: "I volunteered both as a medic and a testsubject. "

Ishi: "If the tests mke me unfit to do the medic work I'd simply become a test subject only."

Ishi: "Plenty of medics of my level."

People start arguing, though not too enthusiastically, about Khitasang's point. It seems many of them are getting tired of this meeting already. Plenty are leaving The Garden for their jobs.

In the end, most agree that the sentence can't be changed just because the convict would have taken it anyway.

Who knows, maybe one of the others would have volunteered as well.

Andrea frowns slightly

The ending of the meeting is undramatic. The decicions have been made and recorded, and at some point Bahar calls the meeting to an end. Many don't notice at all, continuing their bickering amongs each other.

The necklink surveillance is ended for the time being. No one seems too interested in the actions of Mizuki and Ishi from now on, and The Common Good is given the responsibility to see that none of the convicts escape their punishment.

As the ending is concluded, Mizuki bows deeply to Sebastian, then goes to the small pond, looking at her own reflection quietly, face unmoving.

Stayn finds a quiet corner for himself to sit down.

Ishi heads off to speak to Khitasang

Relay also heads to Khitasang

Mizuki runs a finger over the surface of the water, watching the ripples thoughtfully. She looks at the distorted image of herself for a moment, before looking up at the approaching Tagato, nodding.

Andrea stops up on his way towards Hansila as she exits the Garden. Looking around as if trying to find someone, he ends up joining Mike and Jaana

Jaana is sitting alone, under a tree.

Tagato looks at their reflection in the water before saying "It's great to see Tower-bureaucracy at work."