October 9, 2014
4:31 PM PST
As Rau's three Powers arrived at the doors of the courtroom, they were greeted by several thugs who blocked their way. “We need to get in there!” Gadgeteer said to them.
“Not yet you don't, darling.” a voice said behind them. They turned to see what appeared to be a young woman in a cheetah fur coat, smoking a cigarette on a holder. Her aura was strange, instead of being filled to the brim with the fate of her Estate, the Power of Gambling was slowly decaying the destiny of everything around her, with only a tiny amount of her auctoritas able to escape the event horizon. “Elizabeth River. I'm sure you can figure out my estate. What's more important is that I run the Cammora, the most powerful secret society in Creation. My influence over the organization is second only to Lord Entropy. More than that, I have what you seek. I always do.” she said, pointing at Gadgeteer.
“I can get that from someone else.” he responded.
“I know, and I have no intent of forcing you to seek your freedom from me.” Elizabeth said. “No, my point is that I am the Unchosen One. I have no destiny but what I chose, and I've chosen to destroy the web of fate. To do that, I need the help of the three of you. Besides, social freedom only goes so far against fate, and it would be in my best interests to ensure you are truly free.”
“What's the catch?” Feeney asked. “There's always a catch isn't there?”
“Indeed.” Elizabeth said, taking a breath of the noxious fumes. “I want a certain somebody dead. I think you know who.”
“Join the club.” Gadgeteer grumbled. “What do you guys think?”
“It's risky.” Feeney pointed out. “That said, I wouldn't expect any less from a power of Gambling. It will certainly prove disruptive.”
“I'm okay with it.” Alex said. “We'll have to start somewhere, right?”
“Then it's a deal.” Elizabeth said. “I'm not one for contracts, so I'll leave it up to you to fulfill your end.“ She snapped her fingers, and the thugs parted to allow access to the courtroom door. Then she handed a piece of paper to Gadgeteer. “Read this, follow its advice, and you should survive the trial.”
October 9, 2014
4:35 PM PST
Gadgeteer tried to quietly slip into the courtroom, but awkward little things like the creaking of the door and everyone looking straight at him the second he walked in put that option six feet under.
“Well, look at that. Early by… 10 seconds.” Lord Entropy said, blood dripping down his fingers as they always were.
Alex burst in right afterwards in an unhappy manner, followed by Feeney calmly closing the door behind him.
“You're lucky I couldn't find you three to lock you up while you await trial.” Lord Entropy grumbled.
“Court is now in session.” said an anthropomorphic dog who they had been told was the Imperator Surolam, one of the Council of Four, the owner of the Locust Court and probably their best hope for a somewhat fair trial. “We call Gadgeteer to the stand.”
“Gadgeteer, the Pawn of Play, has been charged with breaking the Chestnut law by wreaking more vengeance than the sevenfold degree.” Ananda stated. His intrinsic beauty that normally drove people mad with joy was carefully countered by the three Powers. Gadgeteer was unfazed due to his Active Immortality. Alex had to do his job as CEO of Draconic Studios which would be hard to do if driven insane. As for Feeney, a quick shot from his gun which was purposefully meant to graze Ananda - but was instead caught in the Imperator's divine hand - pretty much made the efforts of everyone in the room moot for a little while, thanks to the disruption of Ananda's beauty. “How do you plead?” Ananda asked, chucking the bullet away while giving Feeney a nasty look.
“Not Guilty.” Gadgeteer said, unflinching.
“How exactly do you hope to make such a claim stand up in this courtroom?” Ananda asked. “You have obviously taken the life of Romulus Nightshade.”
“Let me guess. A power's life is somehow worth more than the 27 mortal lives he took?” Gadgeteer said. “That's beside the point though, isn't it, because Romulus Nightshade isn't dead. I call Alex Chaser to the stand.”
Alex traded positions with Gadgeteer, and cleared his throat. “Ask away!”
“Is it not true that you, the Duke of Video Games and Writing, tore the dead heart from Romulus' chest after he suffocated on riot foam at the hands of Gadgeteer?” Lord Entropy asked, annoyed that he wasn't being referred to by his full title and then otherwise treated normally.
“Well, let's see…” Alex said, and pulled Romulus' heart out of his pocket. It was a sickly brown color and appeared to be decaying. Alex held it in front of his face and took a big whiff. “Ugh, that's ripe. Seems this heart is rotting like old meat. It's been over three-quarters of a day since I pulled this out of Romulus' chest. Aren't Noble hearts supposed to last indefinitely to preserve the Estate they hold?”
There was an immediate murmur in the courtroom.
“I suppose you think this is somehow proof that Romulus lives.” Lord Entropy countered. “There could be any number of reasons that is not actually his heart.”
“Well, the person I ripped this heart out of - ugh, never thought I'd say that without feeling like a villain - had the auctoritas of the Power of Sadism guarding it shortly before they died. Obviously, the reason this is not his heart is because it is his anchor's heart.”
“Unless you have Romulus himself available to come to the stand, I see no merit in this argument.” Lord Entropy said.
“Then I call Jack Talini to the stand.” Gadgeteer said. Jack, who had been sitting in the benches, approached the stand as Alex returned to his seat.
“Jack, did you see your familia member Romulus at any point after I met for you for the first time?” Gadgeteer asked.
“No.” Jack said.
Lord Entropy gave a slight smile that sent shivers down Gadgeteer's spine. “Do you have any reason to believe he is still alive?” Gadgeteer asked.
“Yes.” Jack answered. The smile was wiped right off Lord Entropy's face.
“Can you elaborate?” Gadgeteer said.
“Romulus always wears a pair of rusty iron claws. They're a prized possession of his, but they were not on the body of the victim when I got to it.” Jack explained.
“Could the items have been taken by the accused or one of his familia?” Lord Entropy said.
“They are enchanted to return to a vault in Romulus' secret lair in our chancel should the heart of the wearer be taken from them. This happens either when nobody is looking, or as soon as someone else tries to claim them. Unless one of them was both skilled at miracles and had enough foresight to not look away from or touch them, they will be in that chamber, where few could access it.” Jack explained.
“How do you know this so well?” Lord Entropy asked.
“Because I tried to take them myself, to end the bloodshed Romulus causes.” Jack said. “Obviously I never succeeded.”
"How powerful and skilled are the rest of your familia, Jack?" Gadgeteer asked.
"Very." Jack said.
"Would you agree that they are powerful enough that we should not have been able to subdue them as easily as we did?" Gadgeteer continued.
"Yes, I would." Jack admitted.
"Then were you aware of any plot by your familia against us, which could have involved faking defeat as part of their plan?" Gadgeteer questioned.
"No." Jack said, with uncertainty in his voice.
"Then did you have any suspicions that might be the case?" Gadgeteer asked.
"Yes. They had been keeping me in the dark about something. I still have no idea what about." Jack answered.
"Just what are you implying?" Lord Entropy said, extremely unhappy.
"Nothing. That's all, folks!" Gadgeteer told him.
“Is there any more evidence the defense would like to present?” Lord Entropy said, gears working in the back of his head. Someone had leaked important information, but who? “Nothing? Then I suppose we'll break for lunch.”
“It's almost 5 in the evening.” Gadgeteer pointed out.
“Not in Fiji.” Lord Entropy said, giving him a look that suggested he was onto their plan.
October 9, 2014
5:07 PM PST
“You called?” Romulus asked from the shadows once everyone but Lord Entropy was out of the back room where the decisions were made.
“Yes I did.” Lord Entropy said, then thrust his hand into Romulus' chest. “You have outlived your usefulness, Mr. Nightshade. I will give my condolences to Imperator Bial.” He then used the World-Breaker's Hand to eliminate the heart in the same way an Excrucian would. “Such a loss, that Estate. I will certainly miss Sadism, but I can't afford to lose to that upstart Rau.” he said to Romulus' dying face. He then took out a cell phone that looked like it was barely working, almost as if his influence was slowly corroding it. “Ms. River, I almost forgot to thank you for your information on Romulus' treachery! Be a dear and send some of your men to clean up the mess before someone sees it. It's in the Council Chamber. Oh, and before I forget… See to it that Rau's powers don't leave the courtroom without owing you a debt they can't possibly repay. Already taken care of? Impressive. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm a very busy Imperator.” he said, and crushed the phone with his bare hand, which despite obviously not breaking his Imperial skin, caused the blood that constantly dripped from those evil digits to run down and pool on the tiled floor.
October 9, 2014
5:39 PM PST
“We have made our decisions.” Surolam said. “I place my vote. There is insufficient evidence to support the defendant's guilt. Not guilty.”
“Guilty.” Lord Entropy said casually.
“Guilty.” said Ha-Qadosch Berakha, and Gadgeteer buried his head in his hands.
“Not Guilty.” said Ananda.
Gadgeteer suddenly raised his head. There was an awkward, deadly silence in the courtroom. Ananda never voted differently than Lord Entropy. He occasionally abstained, but that was the farthest it ever went. Despite rumors of Lord Entropy threatening Ananda, the lack of retribution upon those who believed there was any corruption pointed to an even worse possibility… that the prophesy that Ananda had stated, that if he and Lord Entropy were ever opposed a terrible disaster would occur, was true. Of course, so far nobody had opposed them and such a disaster had yet to occur. The silence hung for nearly a full minute before the only person free enough of worry to break it spoke, and even the face of the Darkest Lord was paler than usual. “I'm sorry, could you repeat that?” Lord Entropy asked.
“Not Guilty.” Ananda repeated. “It has happened. The tragedy looms upon us. Now it is only a matter of time before the dawn of the Fourth Age.”
“Ananda? The disaster was something bad, wasn't it?” Surolam pointed out.
“The dawn of the Fourth Age is bad. Even though it will bring about good things, it will come at a great cost.” Ananda said, and turned to Lord Entropy. “Especially to you, Lord Entropy. For your sake, and for everyone else's, you should tread lightly.”
"Great. First day on the job and I nearly get executed. Second day on the job and I trigger the apocalypse…" Gadgeteer thought to himself.
“This is merely a draw.” Lord Entropy pointed out. “We can discuss the impending doomsday later. The task at hand is whether the Power of Play is guilty.”
“Then I'm going to go ahead and be the deal-breaker.” Ha-Qadosch Berakha said. “I have my reasons. Not guilty.”
October 9, 2014
5:47 PM PST
“You asked for us?” Gadgeteer asked Ha-Qadosch Berakha outside the courtroom.
“I have grown somewhat bored of toying with the Prosaic Earth. I suppose the possibility that its lifespan is now short might explain that. Regardless, I have a deal with Rau.” the Imperator explained. “I will stop by Locus Apepi soon to collect my payment.” Ha-Qadosch Berakha told them offhandedly, as if the words could not possibly seem ominous, and walked away.
“Should we be worried about that?” Alex asked.