The Last Day (continued)
"Facts don't change, they are solid rocks to build our judgement on," said Sir Payne and made sure the judges realized how solid the 'rocks' were by squeezing imaginative boulders in his hands. "What does change is a story. Stories are made up, like the story you heard from our good Mr. Adrian Verlander about his misadventure in the elevator shaft. 90% of the population of this country don't even know what an elevator shatf is, but he just happened to turn up there, hit his head, while his SC miraculously teleported to the training room. However, the proof is conveniently gone, so here's what we're left with, here are the facts: Mr. Verlander goes in, Mr. Stevenson goes in at a different floor, Mr. Stevenson comes out alone on the first floor , Mr. Verlander is later found in the elevator shaft on the first floor with a sore head, his SC is found in the training room where the failed rescue operation had taken place, the surveillance video of the staircase is gone due to a technical error. Coincidence? I doubt it. Can we believe Mr. Verlander who was trying to cover for Mr. Stevenson, his close friend and collegue? We can't blame him either."
Lyonel jumped to his feet. "Objection, your Honor, councel is testifying."
"Oh, please, Mr. Gregaros, just stating the fact," said Payne.
"Based on your speculations. And my name is Geragos."
"Not speculations, a logical conclusion." Payne turned an expectant look to Judge Ketch.
"Overruled," said Ketch, without raising his eyes from his surface display.
Lyonel sat back heavily.
"Mr. Gregaros...sorry, Mr. Geragos, you are quite an afficionado of speculations yourself, I might say." Payne squinted cunningly at Lyonel. "How about we play a little game called 'Facts and Guesses'? I'll give you an example. You made it clear that you think Mr. Rawotzki is guilty, I say he's not, these are two guesses. You say Mr. Rawotzki is the man behind the plan to kill Diod Medina, surely a guess, the fact is, though, it was Mr. Stevenson who approached Mr. Rawotzki. Twice. Both times with an idea of his own."
Payne turned back to the judges and continued in a loud voice.
"Mr. Geragos says my client is an expert in memory-blocking, which one might assume of the CEO of a Top Tech Ten company, but the fact is, ZP has never produced memory blockers or had anything to do with the technology. Mr. Rawotzki's never worked for the government, never acquired all the necessary knowledge and skills to perform memory blocking, unlike the infamous fugitive who is being wanted at the moment.
"Mr. Geragos says my client allegedly created a program and messed with the algorithm which led to the death of an innocent boy, a good theory, except for the fact," he made a pause before he accentuated the word 'fact', "that Mr. Rawotzki didn't have access to the impenetrable database of Ford Industries, he didn't have the program of time travel, devised by the well-known fugitive who was also the leader of the rescue team and the only one who had full access to and full knowledge of the whole process. A question to you, Mr. Lyonel."
Sir Payne turned abruptly to Microsoft's lawyer and smiled.
"Have you ever seen Hugh Jackman?"
"Who?" Lyonel looked confused.
"An actor called Hugh Jackman, he was famous almost a century ago. And don't worry it's relevant, I'm getting to it. So, have you?"
"No," said Lyonel and pursed his lips.
"Can you make an impression of him?
"What? Of course, not." Lyonel folded his arms.
"So, I thought. A person can't make anything similar to the original if a person has never seen the original. Mr. Rawotzki couldn't have created an algorithm similar to the algorithm created by Mister, what was his name? Mister Tensorfield Riemann, because he couldn't have had the original algorithm. Thus, he couldn't have been the one to pay the Doodads employees to install the program on Mr. Stevenson's SC, because he didn't have the program in the first place. Lastly, Mr. Geragos argues that the murder was a big fat master plan that Mr. Rawotzki had been working on for five years. (I'm sorry if my terminology wasn't very precise.) An awful amount of time, 5 years, isn't it? Your Honors, do you remember what you have done over the past 5 years?"
The UN Judges exchanged confused glances. The direct address and the piercing look of Sir Payne made them wonder for a moment if they were supposed to answer that. Payne continued before any of them spoke.
"Has anyone of you been cooking a plan to take revenge on your imperfect father who repented, confessed to you, gave you an invaluable opportunity to get the best knowledge and experience in technology you could ever get in this country, and provided you with the start-up capital so you could make in into the TTT several years later?" Payne raised his eyebrows.
"Such a bastard of a father, isn't he? How could he!" Payne poured as much sarcasm into his phrase as he could. "Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? You know why? Because it is. The only reason Mr. Rawotzki kept his kinship secret was the desire to be independent, have an unbiased public appreciation and keep Mr. Ford's reputation intact. Where is malice, I ask myself? Where is rage and evil? The fact is, your Honors and the Honorable Panel, that Mr. Rawotzki came to his father the very moment he'd learned Mr. Ford was in trouble and offered his assistance. Mr. Ford refused and later at the press conference Mr. Rawotzki was defending him, you all saw him, you all heard him.
"So," Payne lifted his index finger, "Mr. Geragos says Mr. Rawotzki had a clear motive, which is revenge on the father who had abandoned him. Now ask yourselves: How is it a motive enough for my client whose father fully redeemed himself and not a motive for Mr. Stevenson who thought Mr. Ford was his father and thought Mr. Ford didn't give a damn about him? Who is more motivated to take revenge in this case?"
Sir Payne fell silent and stood still for a while letting the question sink in before coming up closer to the Judges and continuing in a low quiet voice that seemed to creep under the skin.
"The crime is vicious and atrocious, but it doesn't justify accusing anyone other than the guilty man of it. 'Faith is confidence in things unseen', they say, but here, in court, it's not the faith we're trying to rely on, it's proof beyond reasonable doubt, and that is achieved by seeing things and knowing the facts. Have faith in what you see, Ladies and Gentlemen, have faith in the facts you know, in your heart when it doubts that Mr. Rawotzki, a respectable and charitable citizen of our country, could have done anything wrong; have faith in the evidence that proves Mr. Rawotzki's innocence." He enjoyed another moment of silence and added, "Have faith, because Mr. Rawotzki has put his faith in you."
For an instant there Micorosoft felt like the walls would cave in and bury him under their deadly weight, he felt like all hope and joy had been sucked out of him with that solemn breath Sir Payne drew in when he sat back down beside Celestro.
He hardly noticed the Judge announcing that the court would retire to consider the verdict and only the sharp voice of the clerk in his head jolted him out of his near-delirious state. Micorosoft blinked at Lyonel.
"How long have they been deliberating?" he said as the Judges were taking their seats again.
"About 15 minutes." Lyonel looked a little taken aback by the question. "Are you unwell? You're pallid."
Microsoft didn't answer. Judge Ketch stood up and announce the verdict in a monotonous string of words.
"The defendant Mr. Celestro Rawotzki a.k.a. Mr. Celestro Aurelis Ford is unanimously acquitted of all charges."
Micorosoft gave Celestro an incredulous look only to see the man's mouth quirk into a ghost of a smile. When Celestro raised his eyes at Micorosoft, his look wasn't that of a triumph, as Micorosoft expected. On the contrary, there was pain and apprehension, and one more thing Micorosoft had never thought Celestro could feel, genuine fear. He looked at Ketch and then back at Micorosoft again when Micorosoft realized the Judge was saying his name.
"Mr. Stevenson, are you listening to me?" Judge Ketch stared at the defendant in contempt.
"Yes... I'm sorry, I've been distracted. You've got my full attention." Microsoft stood up facing the Judge.
"Mr. Microsoft Stevenson, the court has found you guilty of treason, corporate misdemeanor, conspiracy against the state and murder of a fourteen-year-old Diod Medina."
Micorosoft went cold on the inside but didn't move a muscle.
"Considering the severity of the crime and the danger to the society, the court sentences you to a life exile to the north pole and complete memory removal."
The last thing Microsoft heard before his head started buzzing and a noxious feeling came over him was Lyonel gasp. Microsoft gave Celestro a painful look that seemed to say: "That's what you wanted, isn't it?" Celestro, however, sat half-turned and stared up at the wall behind him.
Microsoft followed his gaze and realized it wasn't the wall Celestro stared at. Back there, hardly visible behind a shimmering curtain of a spyscreen, there were blurred images of people Microsoft hadn't noticed before. Among those people there was an outline of a girl, clasping her mouth with both hands, her shoulders shaking with sobs, her red hair streaming down and almost covering her face. Microsoft swallowed hard. Arone had been there the whole time and he hadn't even once glanced back at her. Through the buzz and commotion in his head Microsoft made out Celestro's voice.
"I'd like to make a statement." Celestro stood up. Now all eyes were on him. His perfect face was still and flushed, his hands shook a little.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Rawotzki?" said Judge Ketch. "You want to make a statement for the press?"
"No, I'd like to make a statement to you."
"Your Honor, my client is confused--" began Sir Payne.
"I'm not, but I apologize as I might have confused the court."
Celestro stepped from behind the table and went towards the stand. When he mounted it, he looked up. His eyes rested on the silhouette of Arone.
"All the evidence in my favor is a lie," he said. His voice was trembling. "I've planned everything from the very beginning, and I can prove it just by giving you access to my personal virtual room."
He slid an air display open on his SC, typed something in, and the Judges looked down on their surface display in bewilderment.
"You can see the algorithm, the secret files from the Ford Industries, everything I could find when I hacked into the system, which may sound impossible, but as you see it's not. Five years ago I tricked Microsoft Stevenson into helping me get access to some information that Matrix... Tensorfield Riemann had. Tensorfield handed him his SC for redesigning and I copied everything there was. I had a plan to take revenge on Ford, and Mike felt he had to tell Ford he was his son. I needed to do something to prevent it. So, I arranged for him to come to my house one night, when his wife Arone was there." He didn't take his eyes off her as he was speaking. "I drugged her and manipulated her mind into thinking she slept with me. I had a girl who looked like her. I made it seem we were having... sex in my orchard when Mike came in. It was dark and he didn't stay to check if it was Arone he'd seen."
"What?" Microsoft whispered under his breath.
"The girl had an eye camera, so Arone dreamed and saw everything the girl saw. When Arone woke up, she thought she'd cheated on her partner, she...she was on the verge of despair. I seized the chance to execute my plan and convinced her to put a memory blocker into Microsoft's head. I learned the technology from Tensorfield's files. I just didn't tell her the blocker was temporal and removable."
Microsoft felt the ground slip from under his feet, he staggered and Lyonel steadied him and helped him sink back into his chair.
"She did what I said," Celestro went on. "It took me five years to gather knowledge and come up with a new plan. I studied the teleportation process, and as ZP reached the first place in the world ratings I made an announcement that we were going to open our own teleportation line. It was a distraction. I made fake licenses and had it sold to three random teenagers, I knew one of them will be stuck between dimensions, I also knew that disintegration theory was total crap to simplify the teleportation technology for the general public. I'd studied the options before and realized Ford had only one thing to do to get the boy out. Time travel. I also realized I make the plan work alone."
Celestro spoke fast, as if he was afraid he'd be interrupted, but nobody dared to even move. The judges gaped at him with an expression of pure horror frozen on their faces. Payne had leaned forward and sat with his head in his hands. Lyonel was biting his lip so hard that it'd turned blue.
"I called Arone's company and asked for her specifically to be the designer for my mansion. I talked her into removing the blocker from Mr. Stevenson's head. When Microsoft remembered everything he came to me with an intention to expose Ford's crime and I used him to install the algorithm that would kill Diod Medina, because I knew that Ford could fight off the allegations of using time-travel, but the death of the boy will destroy the company and the man forever. Nor Microsoft Stevenson, nor Tensorfield Riemann had any idea what was happening behind their backs. I was all just me. The only crime Microsoft committed is that he trusted me."
At that moment the eyes of the two men met, and something sparked between them. The next movement Microsoft made was so swift and sudden that everyone jumped to their feet only when Celestro was already on the floor with Microsoft's fingers locked around his neck. Celestro showed no signs of resistance.
Lyonel was the first to reach Microsoft. The lawyer grabbed his client with both arms and tore him off Rawotzki, whispering something feverishly into his ear at that. Rawotzki was still lying passively on the floor coughing until Payne pulled him up onto his feet. Microsoft tried to struggle himself out of Lyonel's clasp, his face white with rage, but Lyonel was surprisingly strong.
"You, son of a--" Microsoft shouted but broke off, because tears burst free. He swallowed back the pressing sobs, and stood panting heavily. He wiped his cheeks with his cuffed hands.
"Come on, Mike, let's go out," said Lyonel and half-dragging Microsoft out of the court room. They almost bumped into the guards who rushed in to cuff Celestro.
"Mike," he called stertorously, "Mike!"
Microsoft turned around to see the guards snatch Celestro by the arms on both sides of him.
"I'm sorry!" shouted Celestro. "I'm so sorry."
The words made Microsoft sick. Although said with as much pain as could possibly be put into the words, they had nothing in them, not even a sound, not even a hint of the intonation or a shade of despair and anguish, that could redeem even a modicum of what had been done.
Microsoft let Lyonel push himself out of the room and into the hands of Arone, who had appeared out of nowhere and thrown her arms around him. She buried her wet face against his collarbone and shook. Microsoft stood still with his cuffed hands pressed against his wife's stomach. He didn't feel relief, he didn't feel comforted, he didn't feel anything at all as if his heart had been taken out. Only one desire burned inside the emptiness of his chest: to be left alone.