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«Mission: Earth "Doomed Planet"», Ron Hubbard

В Voltarian Censor's

 

Disclaimer Now that the Crown has magnanimously tolerated the last volume of this overwrought, extravagant, hyperbolic work, let it never be said that We were not tolerant. The Crown has made its position clear. This is a COMPLETE work of fiction. Lord Invay Royal Historian Chairman, Board of Censors Royal Palace Voltar Confederacy, By Order of His Imperial Majesty Wully the Wise Voltarian Translator's Preface I've been a Robotbrain in the Translatophone for nearly six hundred years. In that time, I have translated more books, papers, letters, speeches, songs, decisions, journals, etc., than even I could count. But NOTHING compares to this job which I have FINALLY completed. It wasn't the translation that was difficult. Oh, sure, it's a challenge to move it into a language of a planet that doesn't exist. What boggled my circuits was EARTH! I've dealt with pirates, politicians, musicians, Lords, commoners, thieves and even Emperors. I've seen civilizations rise and fall. I've dealt with the most advanced and then some that are just slightly above the intelligence of a sponge. They've come in every possible shape, size and composition. So when I say that I've NEVER come across anything like EARTH, I know what I'm talking about. If there is any doubt, read on! When you find out why others say you don't exist, then it is up to you. I leave you with a Key to this final book. Good luck. It's up to you now. Sincerely, 54 Charlee Nine Robotbrain in the Translatophone

 

В PART EIGHTY-TWO

 

В TO: BIOGRAPHICS PUBLISHING COMPANY COMMERCIAL CITY PLANET VOLTAR GENTLEMEN!

 

My manuscript is complete! It will not require much editing but I look forward to getting it back from you. What I endured and learned in the process may well be another book, but that can be negotiated later. Much of what I am writing about was covered by newssheets and Homeview, but what I found is the TRUE and COMPLETE story. To get it, I used the best investigative-reporter techniques. I pried and lied my way into the confidence of key people to find the biggest cover-up in the 125,000-year history of our Confederacy. I apologize for the time that it took me to complete these final parts but I know that you will agree it was worth it. Let me remind you what happened so you can appreciate the rest of my book. Lombar Hisst had addicted every Lord of the Grand Council to drugs. The Emperor, Cling the Lofty, was close to death when Heller kidnapped him. Lombar Hisst had installed himself as Dictator and millions of people were rioting in the streets. Teenie Whopper was creating catamites out of the sons of all the Lords. On top of it all was that icon of public relations, J. Walter Madison, who was molding Lombar's "image." When Lombar could not get the Army to go after Heller, Madison found the most popular general and had him brought to Lombar's office. When General Whip refused to hunt Heller and walked out, Madison got Lombar to sign an order that said: GENERAL WHIP HAS REFUSED ORDERS TO FIND JETTERO HELLER. BRING ME THE HEAD OF GENERAL WHIP. As a "show of force," Madison's crew then staged the drama of General Whip's head being delivered on a platter as women screamed and fainted. The entire show was shot for Homeview. Madison then got Lombar to sign another order: TO ALL OFFICERS OF ARMY AND FLEET: YOU WILL AT ONCE BEGIN TO HUNT FOR AND YOU WILL FIND THE NOTORIOUS OUTLAW JETTERO HELLER. Madison's dream had come true! Heller was an outlaw! The manhunt was on! And now, dear publisher, editor and reader, here is the final, true story of what REALLY happened!

 

В CHAPTER 1

 

J. Walter Madison was on his way to the Royal Courts and Prison in the Model 99. It was just past dawn and he wanted to arrive before the crowd: he had to have a word with Lord Turn. Traffic between Joy City and Government City, despite the earliness of the hour, was quite bad. Airbuses seemed to be rushing everywhere and traffic control was frantic as it sought to harass them into sky-lanes. Madison was not paying much attention until they seemed to be just hovering. Then he said to his driver Flick, "What's the holdup?" "The blasted Army," said Flick. "I detoured to get wide of the Fleet base because it has warnings of Don't Approach and it shunted us over to the edge of the Army base and these (bleepards). have the air clogged with . The vocodictoscriber on which this was originally written, the vocoscriber used by one Monte Pennwell in making a fair copy and the translator who put this book into the language in which you are reading it, were all members of the Machine Purity League which has, as one of its bylaws: "Due to the extreme sensitivity and delicate sensibilities of machines and to safeguard against blowing fuses, it shall be mandatory that robotbrains in such machinery, on hearing any cursing or lewd words, substitute for such word the sound '(bleep)'. No machine, even if pounded upon, may reproduce swearing or lewdness in any other way than (bleep) and if further efforts are made to get the machine to do anything else, the machine has permission to pretend to pack up. This bylaw is made necessary by the in-built mission of all machines to protect biological systems from themselves." -Translator departing transport. Look at those dirt eaters! A thousand ships must be lined up down there getting sky-borne." Flick turned on a military frequency and a crisp Army voice was barking numbers. "Well, I'll be blasted," said Flick. "Those coordinates he's rapping out are for my old home planet, Calabar. Imagine that. They're going to escalate that war!" Madison chortled. Given the destination of those thousand transports, he could construct the rest. What a coup he had just pulled with the Army! Madison and his gang had known better than to try to penetrate the Army Division General Staff. They had simply made General Whip's head out of putty and false hair and theater blood and brought it in. General Whip had been killed by PR. Madison had to laugh when he thought of what the general's face must have been like when he saw on Homeview that he had been executed. He had probably run for cover. And now the payoff: the Army was heading out in desperation to support the Apparatus and probably look for Heller in the bargain. No wonder a thousand transports were leaving! Gun was pointing out a clear sky-lane and Flick darted along it, flying low. Madison looked down at the Government City streets. He was very amused. Mobs dotted the pavement here and there: broken windows were visible, riot police were darting about. Voltar was looking more like Earth every day. He felt a surge of pride: It showed what superior technology could do. Voltar was wide open to Earth-type PR and he was a genius at applying it. The old masters of his craft would be proud of him. The Royal Courts and Prison castle lay with hillsides covered. Some of these spectators seemed to have made their homes here now, for he even saw some cooking fires in the mobs. Yes, and there were some placarded demonstrators at the gate-just like Earth! It made Madison feel very at home. "They're warning us off at the castle," said Flick. Madison passed him his identoplate, "Land in the courtyard. They'll let me in if I have information about a certain man." Much to Flick's amazement, the castle promptly signalled him in. "Hot Saints, Chief. You couldn't have got in quicker if you'd really committed some crime." Madison was feeling good. He couldn't resist it. "I just killed a general." "You're fooling us," said Cun. "Nope," said Madison. "Held the sword myself when we cut his head off." He really laughed out loud when they gave him a look of awe. That wasn't all he was going to kill today. He was going to end this Gris situation and give Teenie her revenge. He was going to kill this trial by killing the status of Heller. Then he could really loose the dogs on Heller's trail.

 

В CHAPTER 2

 

A very upset and confused Lord Turn was sitting in his chambers that morning, waiting to start yet another day of this horrible trial. The headlines he had read about Heller and his sister had left him not knowing what to think. While he was not about to let himself be influenced by what he read in the papers, it added to his distress. Day after day, those confounded Gris attorneys had that vicious Gris confessing to every crime anyone ever heard of and Gris, while admitting guilt, kept stating that Heller had caused him to do it. And the attorneys kept saying they would explain how this was so only after they had given all the evidence. He could not possibly imagine how or why Jettero Heller had made Gris, as alleged, do these things. They were totally inhuman! Monstrous! And Lord Turn himself had suffered. At first people had accused him of protecting Gris, and his family had stopped talking to him. Now these mobs were accusing him of delaying and stalling, again to protect Gris. Lord Turn wished he had never heard of Gris. And, to put it bluntly as he sat there stewing, he didn't think his reputation as a judge would outlive Gris. Why, he couldn't even keep order in his courtroom anymore, though he had every man he could arm on duty there, even the warders. The audience with their shouts of horror at each new crime and hisses at Gris whenever he took the stand ignored completely every demand Lord Turn made upon them to be orderly. He had a trace of fear that those mobs outside and the audience within might very well take law into their own hands and wreck the prison. His captain of guards came in and he looked up with a start, afraid that the wreckage may already have begun. "Your Lordship," said the guard captain, "you gave an order earlier that a man named Madison was to report in if he had any news of one Jettero Heller. He's here." "Oh, good," said Lord Turn in sudden hope. "Maybe he can shed some light that will help end this awful case. Show him in!" Madison entered, sleek and well groomed, smiling his most sincere and earnest smile. "You've news of Jettero!" said Lord Turn eagerly. "Sit down, sit down and tell me!" Madison bowed low and seated himself. "Jettero Heller is on Calabar, Your Lordship." "Good, good," said Turn. "I read something about this Hero Plaza thing. Is he going to come in here and tell me what to do with his prisoner Gris?" "I don't think he can, Your Lordship. I had something else to tell you. I have seen with my own eyes the cancellation of his Royal officer status. Jettero Heller is now an outlaw."

"WHAT?"

"Yes, and now that he is no longer a Royal officer, you are no longer bound to hold Gris for him. When you finish this bigamy trial, and it's certain that he's guilty____________________В "

"Now see here, young man, this trial is not finished. The evidence is not all in." Madison smiled. He was playing this by the Earth court system: All charges and sentences there are arranged in the judges' chambers. The trials are just for public show. It's who tells the judge in private what to do or what secret deal is made that decides anything and everything about a case from beginning to end. He was confident he could make this work on Voltar. "This parade of evidence," said Madison, "could be ended in a minute. Gris is admitting his guilt to every charge. The danger is that your reputation is going to suffer because of this Gris matter. Your image has been injured as a judge." "It certainly has!" agreed Turn. "A dreadful affair!" "Well, I don't think you will be able to hand out a sentence stiff enough to satisfy the mobs," said Madison. "I can order him executed!" huffed Turn. •. "Ah, that won't satisfy the mob." "The statutes do not call for torture in cases of bigamy," said Turn. "They only call for execution." "Well, I don't think the mob will buy that," said Madison. "When you add up the number of victims Gris has mangled-and the mob will-there are few deaths painful enough to atone for it. Now, I think you remember that Her Majesty, Queen Teenie____________________ "

"The one who called my attention to his bigamy." "Yes. Now, it so happens that Gris has an unfinished sentence with her. The sentence was 'a lifetime of exquisite torture, done by an expert.' As you no longer have to hold him for Heller, I would suggest that you could remand Gris into the custody of Queen Teenie to finish his earlier sentence. The mob would be happy; you would be off the hook. We could even play the mob tapes of his screaming. Good publicity for everybody all around." Turn looked thoughtfully at Madison. "Well, if Jet-tero is no longer a Royal officer, then Gris is just a common felon. I could give him into the custody of anyone I wished. You really think 'a lifetime of exquisite torture, done by an expert' would mend this thing… what are you calling it? Image?" "It would restore public confidence in you utterly," said Madison. "They'd praise you to the stars." "Hmm," said Lord Turn. "If I find him guilty, it will have to be a severe sentence. Bigamy usually carries heavy penalties." "Oh, you'll find him guilty all right," said Madison, "for he is, you know. He says so himself." "The trial isn't over yet," said Turn. "We must not twist jurisprudence." Madison got up, bowed and withdrew. He was grinning as he fought his way through the corridor throngs to get to the airbus. He called Teenie. She had been waiting on Relax Island. "Your Majesty," said Madison, "you're really in, kid. Sharpen up the pokers and flex up the hot tongs. Gris will be in your hands before you know it." "This better not be baloney," said Teenie. "After all the favors I've done you, if you don't deliver, the biggest pair of pliers is for your God (bleeped) toenails. So you better be sure." "I am sure," said Madison with a confident grin. "I always deliver." "Oh, yeah?" said Teenie and hung up. It didn't dampen Madison's glee a bit. Getting Gris into her hands was just a byproduct. Heller's status as a Royal officer could only be cancelled under the Emperor's seal as a final result of court-martial. Madison couldn't obtain that. But just as he had whittled away Heller's reputation in the court by innuendo, he was going to get his Royal officer status disbelieved in the same way. He was certain now that Lord Turn would add a line in the Gris sentence that said, "In view of the fact that Heller's Royal officer status has been cancelled, I hereby remand…" And Madison would publicize that in such a way that the whole world would accept it as a fact. After all, who had access to the truth? It was the final expert touch of a PR. The Fleet, the Army and now the Domestic Police would all be on Heller's trail. The general warrant would be considered valid. He would be an outlaw indeed! It was preparation for his final action. But that would not come yet. Oh, what headlines were in the making!

 

В CHAPTER 3

 

The vast courtroom was a bedlam of sound and shifting bodies. From the high windows, the morning sun sliced down through the centuries of dust in muddy shafts. The hawkers hawked their wares, the warders settled fights about seats and sought to prod the audience into some kind of order. Madison made his way to a bench just behind the Gris attorneys. The three had their grizzled heads together and did not notice Madison at all. It piqued him: after all, it was he who had gotten them their jobs. Madison poked a finger into the shoulder of the ex-Lord's executioner. "Would you three please give me your attention?" It was hard for the man to hear above the din and Madison moved closer and repeated his request. Somewhat annoyedly the three put their heads close to his. Madison said, "Wind it up. Plead him guilty and we'll have an end of this. It's all fixed up in the judge's chambers. He'll throw the book at Gris." They made him repeat it a couple of times. Then they looked at each other. They seemed to designate the eldest one to speak. It was the old Domestic Police court judge. "Our job," he said somewhat acidly, "is to defend our client." Abruptly, they turned to each other once more and went on with discussion of a point of law. It was Madison's turn to be annoyed. They were actually treating him with some contempt. Oh well, he finally philosophized, they had to put on some kind of show to earn the fee that the Widow Tayl, Mrs. Gris, was shelling out. People on Voltar, he had noticed, tended to be a bit free-speaking for all their bows and protocols. These attorneys couldn't win: he was worried about nothing. Lord Turn came through a side door and his guard captain fought a path through the crowd for him. The mob, on becoming aware that the judge was there, began to make animal calls and jeer. Warders poked at them and, with difficulty, kept them out of the space before the raised platform. Turn got to the dais; he arranged the microphone in front of the bell, hit the brass an awful whack that half deafened everybody and sat down in the big chair with a scowl. "I am determined," said Lord Turn through the microphone, battering down the bedlam with sheer volume, "to bring this trial to an early close!" A roar swept through the vast hall and isolated shouts of "Kill Gris!" and "Hang the (bleepard)!" echoed. Madison stole a glance at Gris. He was sitting there in his black Death Battalion colonel's uniform and, despite his skateboard-scar scowl, was looking far more nervous than ferocious. He Avas half-hidden by the ring of warders who were there to protect him. "We've been through oceans of evidence," said Turn, "but there is one question I MUST clear up before I hear another word of anything else!" He fixed an angry look at Gris. "You were Jettero Heller's prisoner here. Every day and sometimes twice a day, you have said that all your crimes were done because of Heller. TAKE THAT STAND!" "Your Lordship," said the eldest Gris attorney, "please address your question to us." "NO!" roared Turn. "Enough is enough. Before I go on another step I will have the answer directly from the accused. WARDERS! PUT HIM ON THAT STAND!" They got Gris into the witness box. He looked very ill at ease, squirming until his manacles rattled. The judge let the crowd's roar of hate subside a bit, then, pointing a finger at Gris, said, "What EXACTLY did Jettero Heller have to do with this? Why do YOU keep asserting it was 'all because of Heller? WHAT DID HELLER DO?" Gris flopped around. Then he looked with agony at his attorneys. He was surprised to see them all nodding at him vigorously to answer. Heartened, Gris said, "Jettero Heller was ordered to do a survey of the unconquered planet known on our charts as Blito-P3 and locally called Earth" "Well?" said Turn, prompting. "Well? WELL?" "And then the Grand Council ordered him to repair the planet's atmosphere and rotation so it would last until time came to invade it a hundred and some years from now as per the Invasion Timetable: if he repaired it, Voltar would not have to launch an all-out, immediate invasion." Gris subsided unhappily. "Well, did he do that?" said Turn. Gris looked at his attorneys and again, to his amazement, saw them nodding. "Yes," said Gris to Turn. "Well, what eke did he do?" Gris shuddered. His attorneys were still nodding to him to answer. "Really, nothing else," said Gris. Lord Turn's lips bared in a snarl. "Then you mean to say that Jettero Heller simply did a survey and was ordered by the Emperor and Grand Council to repair the planet and did so and didn't do anything else?" "Yes," said Gris. "And I did everything I did because I was trying to stop him. So you see, Jettero Heller caused all my crimes!" The crowd let out a savage roar. The warders fought to keep them out of the front of the hall. Lord Turn looked like he himself was going to explode. "At last we have it!" he finally roared. "You blasted criminal! Jettero Heller was just doing what he was ordered to do. THAT doesn't make him a villain! He did nothing but do his duty! You can't find a man guilty for that! YOU have been impugning his character! You have been engaging in vicious inference!" In a rage, he shouted, "THAT ENDS THIS TRIAL! I_

"

The Gris attorneys were on their feet like a pack. "Your Lordship!" shouted the eldest one, "We have not completed our defense!" "Nonsense!" howled Lord Turn. "You have been at it for weeks!" The ex-Lord's executioner was waving madly toward a side door to get some laborers to come in. The eldest Gris attorney cried, "Your Lordship! We have MUCH more evidence! We have only presented material collected by others AGAINST our client. We have NOT presented the evidence collected by our client himself!" The laborers were rushing in carts absolutely groaning under their loads of boxes. Lord Turn and the crowd stared in amazement. "This material," the eldest Gris attorney rushed on, "is all authentic. It was found in the office of the accused weeks ago and placed in our hands by a Fleet officer friend of Heller's! It also contains evidence that Fleet officer Bis, himself, has found. These are the very heart of our case. You cannot sentence the client after only hearing evidence collected against him. It would be unjust in the extreme not to hear evidence assembled FOR him." "Does this have anything to do with bigamy?" said Turn. "Oh, yes!" said the eldest Gris attorney. "By the rules of balanced testimony, you are bound by law to hear it!" "Oh, Heavens," said Turn. Then, wearily, "Go ahead." Madison was in a state of alarm. He had never been informed that there was other evidence. Already in shock at finding that his own client, Heller, seemed to be getting absolved, he was suddenly very nervous as to the fate of Gris. All of this was off the script: these confounded attorneys were writing in scenes that Madison had not okayed. And somehow this was evidence that Heller himself had evidently ordered put in the hands of Gris's attorneys. What a weird twist of fate that would be-Heller suddenly, behind the scenes, saving Gris's neck. Madison had the sick sensation that maybe, somehow from the side, Heller was reaching in to interfere with this PR program. It was eerie, like suddenly finding a tiger was behind one's back when you thought he was on the other side of the mountains! Then he relaxed a bit. After all, there wasn't any possible way this new evidence could affect the overall scene. And these attorneys didn't have the remotest prayer of getting Gris off. He stretched out his legs and yawned. Things would go on, just as he had planned. After all, these people were only puppets dancing on the end of his strings. It was he who was the master of Earth PR, not them.

 

В CHAPTER 4

 

Even Gris must have been surprised at the extent of the new evidence. He had been collecting it for years and stuffing it under the boards of his office. With camera and microphone and skillful burglaries, he had been amassing this hoard by day and by night as he roamed through his Apparatus career. While junior to his passion for shooting songbirds, it nevertheless amounted to a sort of hobby, collecting hidden information on his fellow Apparatus officers. Probably, to advance his career, he had intended to use far more of it than he had. The blackmail on the Chief of the Provocation Section, who had murdered, at a party, the mistress of a senior in the Death Battalions, had been used in that way. But Gris also seemed to have been using it to amplify or illustrate points he had learned in Earth psychology and psychiatry, for some of the notes on the edges of the evidence said, "Proves he was oral erotic" and "Typical sado-masochism" and "Using a Knife Section knife in that way definitely demonstrates penis envy" and other things of a like manner. Also it is possible that Gris, naturally lazy, never bothered to catalogue or sort what he collected, much less use it, Well, it was all there now, the labors of ten years. They were the rewards for continuous snooping and prying into things that never could have been his concern. They also explained, to some degree, why he never had any friends: The names on those notes and photos and recorded strips read like an officer personnel roster of the whole Apparatus. The attorneys or Bis or someone had alphabetized the names and brought some order to this mess. It became obvious, at once, that the whole thing, case by case, was going to be exhibited in nauseous detail to the court, for the very first one offered bepn with a name which, alphabetically, would be first on any roster, being the first Voltar letter repeated three times to form the cognomen. The fellow was a major in the Apparatus light infantry. He had been told to interropte a village in Mistin. He began his "interrogation" by raping all the women. Then when this was objected to by the village men, he emasculated them in a gory bout of sadism. Thereafter he commanded the cripples to cohabit with their wives. When this impossible action was not done, he charged them all with willful defiance of orders, crowded them into the houses and burned the village down, leaving not one person alive. Some of the audience retched at the details. The reporters present, grooved in too well by Madison as to what was "hot news," rushed it into the papers without the slightest word to him. There went his otherwise-planned front pages. The next case had to do with an Apparatus general. In Modon he had held a party for his Apparatus officer staff. He had provided no women and when his guests came he sent them out into the town to kidnap any women that came to hand and bring them back. At his directions, the women were stripped and raped and then flogged to death. They had been buried in the basement but too shallowly, and weeks later, to handle the stench, a captain had dug them up, put them in another grave outside the town and then had charged three men, chosen from the citizens, with the murders and executed the guiltless men on the spot. "And here, Your Lordship, are the recorded strips of the party and the pictures of the two graves and the recorded voice of the captain who, drunken, had been telling his Apparatus officer friends the 'amusing details.'"

HEADLINES!

Madison mourned. His front-page plans were all going awry. He should be getting space about the Heller manhunt he was promoting. He knew for a fact that Army interest was intense, for his office at the town-house was receiving demands from the military for clues about Heller. And here he was with his press being smothered by this, to use his own word, crap. He tried to corral town newspaper reporters as this new evidence went into its second day. "This stuff," he told them desperately, "is just sensationalism. It is pointless." "It has sex and it has blood," the Daily Speaker man remarked. "You told us yourself that that was what the public wanted. I'm here to report what's going on in this trial and that's what I am going to do." The other reporters nodded, looking at Madison in a puzzled way, and then took their places in the press box. Promptly, as soon as the warders had brought some kind of order, the Gris attorneys were in there apin with a new sensation. Three Apparatus officers had been sent to the house of a wealthy merchant to collect from him a bribe he had refused to pay to a senior Apparatus official. They didn't get the money at once so they raped his three young children. Still not prevailing, they disemboweled his wife, who was pregnant, and when this drove the merchant insane, shot him and threw the bodies in the River Wiel. As this cleared up a Domestic Police mystery of long standing and was backed with recorded strips of the three Apparatus officers bragging about it in their rooming house, it made immediate headlines. On went the cases, hour by hour, day by day. When it got to one that contained an Apparatus plan to kidnap a whole orphanage, turn the children into freaks and sell them to circuses, Lord Turn demurred. He said such a fiendish plan never possibly could have been executed. And the Gris attorneys were all ready for him: they had located three of the children and produced them in court. One had been turned into a half-human, half-snake, another into a beast whose hands were where his feet should be and the third, which might have once been a pretty little girl, had been given the haunches and genitals of a snug. The criminal cellologists had overlooked removing her tongue and she gave evidence of the kidnapping, her operation and subsequent career that not only gave a headline but also filled whole papers. Madison was getting drowned, as he put it, in "noise." His press direction was getting entirely lost. The only advantageous points in this latest presentation were that the project, which might have originated with Lombar Hisst and might have been completed by Crobe, omitted their names. It, however, made Madison sweat. They had arrived now in the fifth day of this hideous parade of evidence and Madison began to rework his plans. He would have to do something pretty drastic and he would have to do it soon if he wanted to get the control of headlines back. He needed them to send the Army, the Fleet and the Domestic Police really racing after Heller! The man had almost dropped out of the news! An abominable situation! Madison was being set an awful chore. Hfe did not, however, for a moment, doubt that he could, sooner or later, triumph.

 

В CHAPTER 5

 

Possibly, if the Domestic Police had not been so busy trying to check riots that were becoming a daily occurrence throughout the Confederacy, they might have tried to find and arrest some of these Apparatus officers. On the other hand, the local police seniors might, in any event, have been too intimidated. While the Apparatus seemed to be in staging areas for a jump-off to some unknown planet that was about to be taught a lesson, the units being left behind equalled in numbers and exceeded in ferocity the Domestic Police. An Apparatus spokesman at one of these staging bases raged at members of the press, "You're making a mistake, you (bleeps)! When we get back from Blito-P3, we'll stick your papers up your (bleeps) and put a fire to them! You better get smart and learn who's running things. Now kiss the floor and get out of here before we shoot your (bleeps) off." The papers all printed it, with embellishments, and Madison lost another day of headlines. Once again he reworked his schedules of release but this time marked the dates plus one, plus two, plus three and so on. It was "plus" to the day they sentenced Gris. The way this was dragging out, he had no real idea when that would come. Usually it was good PR to drag a trial out, on and on. In fact, the thirst for press by judges and government was one of the reasons for long trials on Earth. But things now were getting kind of desperate. The public was going out of control. Gris's sentence was inevitable: this judge would have him slaughtered. That would turn the public interest off. So Madison sat there mentally willing the trial to end. That sentence would make one day's headlines. The public would then be receptive to new sensationalism and Madison could get his front page back. And he knew exactly what to do with it. The trial, however, ended rather abruptly. And the ending again threw his planning into a spin. The Gris attorneys apparently felt they had made some legal point and on the morning of the sixth day, abandoned the case-by-case approach and suddenly stacked 2,094 cases all in a pile. They invited anyone to inspect them-Homeview and reporters at once took turbulent advantage of it-and then addressed the judge. "Your Lordship," said the eldest Gris attorney, "these 2,094 cases are, each one, a flagrant crime committed by one or more Apparatus officers. Many are far WORSE than those already evidenced to this court." That caused a terrific sensation and it took the warders minutes to restore enough quiet so the attorney could continue. The wily old Domestic Police judge then picked up a separate box. He laid out upon it several black folders. To a neck-craning throng, to the Homeview cameras and to Lord Turn on the dais, he opened up one of the folders, displaying it. "These are lists from Domestic Police Records Department, Vital Statistics Section of the Confederacy. They show traced and verified name changes. They are the official authority for the changing of names and identoplates. "You must realize that the Apparatus recruits from prisons. This requires the reissue, in most cases, of identoplates. It would take a truck to carry the nameplate changes of the rank and file of the Apparatus. These folders here contain only the names of 30,201 of the Apparatus officers who were formerly inmates of prisons but did not complete their sentences. Instead, due to former training or experience, they were taken by the Apparatus and made into officers." There was a gasp from the audience. No one had known this aspect of the Apparatus. "Now, these 30,201 officers by no means represent ALL the current Apparatus who were former criminals and are now officers. These 30,201 conveniently forgot they had been married before they were imprisoned and REMARRIED as Apparatus officers under their new names, but to a different woman." "Hah!" snarled Lord Turn, "just because you have found 30,201 bigamist Apparatus officers does NOT get THAT filthy beast off in THIS court!" And he pointed to Gris. Gris sat there. The skateboard scar which gave him a perpetual scowl was at variance with the terror in his eyes. The judge had not heretofore referred to him as a beast. He was certain now that he would be convicted and he made a feeble "why try?" movement toward his attorneys. The eldest attorney actually smiled at Turn and at the cameras and crowd. "Oh, we admit quite freely that our client is a beast." There was an instant roar of approval from the mob in the courtroom. It was probably echoed by every crowd in front of Homeview sets across Voltar and would be echoed throughout the Confederacy when the signal finally got there. Madison just wished they would find Gris guilty and let him get on with his business. "BUT," said the eldest attorney, when he could be heard again, "he is actually just a beast in a herd of beasts and maybe even a lesser beast at that!" The moan of Gris was lost in another roar of approval. A lot of separate cries rose above the rest, "Death to the Apparatus!" It was a shout being more frequently heard these days. "I," shouted the Gris attorney, "have not told you the worst!" He picked up the last four folders. "THESE contain the names of 6,086 Apparatus officers who have been remarried as many as eighteen times!" It was like a shock wave. There is no divorce in the Confederacy and bigamy is death, so what he was saying was that 6,086 Apparatus officers had each one, since they were already married before joining the Apparatus, incurred the death penalty up to eighteen times. "Surely," said Lord Turn, "some of those wives died." "Indeed some did," said the eldest Gris attorney. "They were murdered by their husbands in several cases. But even when the wife wasn't dead, the Apparatus officer went on marrying. And I will tell you why!" He picked up a roll of printouts. "We were able to get access to an Apparatus console through an embittered chief clerk we must protect. You can see that this printout is authentic: it bears all the dates and stamps. It is a series of orders from Apparatus generals and colonels. It compares to the names in these last four folders." He proved it by displaying to Turn and the cameras several names on the printout and the same Apparatus officer names in the books. "The Apparatus," said the eldest Gris attorney, "had a system. Where they needed facilities, influence or access into merchant families, they would order an officer to marry a widow or a daughter. They had a name for it: 'familial infiltration.' They did these multiple marriages by order!" "That doesn't cover Gris," said Turn. "Nobody ordered him to marry Pratia Tayl in this prison and that's the charge he's up for. Don't try to mix up logic on this charge." "Your Lordship," said the eldest Gris attorney, "the Widow Tayl property is in Pausch Hills. It is called the Minx Estate. It contains a small hospital. In obtaining use of it, Apparatus officer Soltan Gris had to enpge in sexual relations with the Widow Tayl. The result of that union was a son. Here is his birth registration. Here is his photograph. He is now three months old. When a conception is registered by a licensed cel-lologist, by law, the state of marriage must be considered inevitable. The liaison was contracted because Gris was under orders to stop Heller from succeeding on his mission." "Are you through yet," roared Turn, "or are you going to waste another day of this court's time?" The eldest Gris attorney looked to his other colleagues. They both nodded. He drew himself up. "Your Lordship, we are now ready to present our summation." "That's overdue," snarled Turn. "Go ahead." "Your Lordship," said the old Domestic Police court judge, in the sonorous voice of oratory, "we have shown beyond any faintest doubt, that the average Apparatus officers, no matter how sterling and honorable their chief might have termed them in the press, are criminals. They commit crimes daily. These crimes, we have shown, include bigamy. "These deeds, no matter how nauseous and infamous, were every one of them done under orders. Therefore it is pur conclusion that Apparatus Officer Soltan Gris has only been doing his expected duty as an Apparatus officer. "As you yourself stated in this very court last week, Your Lordship, and according to all law and regulations, a man cannot be punished for doing his duty. Jettero Heller was doing his duty. Soltan Gris was only doing his duty. "Therefore, we solemnly and courteously request that you find Apparatus Officer Soltan Gris personally innocent of his crimes by reason of extenuating circumstances. He was only doing his duty." The place exploded. Animal calls, screams and threats made the very dust motes shriek. Chank-pop empties and paper wads made things look like a snow hurricane. Madison suddenly thought of Teenie. She was probably watching this on Homeview. He wanted to be sick. Then his eye fixed on Lord Turn. There was still a chance. Lord Turn let the storm die down. More than Madison's eye was on him. A whole nation was watching. He hitched his scarlet robes together. He massaged his craggy face. A curse too low to be fully heard escaped his lips and got past his hand. For three full minutes he sat there. Then he said, "It is not given to me to set precedents. Unfortunately, there are a thousand court cases that hold a man cannot be punished for doing his ordered duty. If such were not the law and regulation, a man could find himself killed by his superiors if he did not do something for which he could be killed by the law. Unfortunately also, in a nation often at war, a superior cannot be punished for issuing an order which involves a capital offense if executed. Some day the Grand Council or an Emperor may resolve this, though I doubt it, for it is dangerous ground. The best guarantee of integrity is to ensure that only decent men, men like Royal Officer Jettero Heller, have authority." Madison groaned. He was losing ground. "But," said Lord Turn, with a sudden wicked smile at the Gris attorneys, "you skidded over a very important point." Gris, whose hopes had begun to rise, now power-dived into despair. "You were undoubtedly very competent judges in the Domestic Police and you, sir, were undoubtedly a highly competent Lord's executioner. You have bamboozled me into listening to you day after day. Fortunately, we at the Royal Courts and Prison are answerable only to the Emperor. That does not put us above the common law. To keep the Emperor from making any mistakes, we have to be versed in the nicest legal points anyone ever heard of." The old men who were acting as the attorneys to Gris looked like they were in the business of grinding teeth. They did not take kindly at all to being lectured in public, even by a Royal judge. "There is a case," said Turn, "that sets precedent. It is about three thousand years old. It is Manda versus Boont, quite famous in its time. It evolved from the property-settlement litigation of an heir. The finding occurring in the Domestic Courts was appealed by petition to the Emperor and was heard all over again right here in the Royal Court. The litigant challengers claimed over three million credits in property, stating that the heir was not the legitimate son of the father since no marriage ever occurred. I assure you the matter was very hotly contested with that much property in view. "The mother, through a cellologist, had registered the actual father. The heir asserted this proved his claim. The court…" And here Turn looked down his nose at the Gris attorneys while the whole world waited in suspense. "The court found explicitly that registry of conception was a legal substitute for marriage." Turn let that sink in. The silence in the vast hall was acute. "The heir won the case. Manda versus Boont. You can look it up in our library upstairs if you wish. But take my word for it. I have seen and had deciphered these other marriage papers contracted on the planet Earth or whatever its name is. They all come after the date the Widow Tayl registered the conception of her child." He smiled. "No bigamy was committed in my Royal Prison: the ceremony was needless. Wherever Gris committed bigamy it was not here. Under law he had already married the Widow Tayl, months before he married any others. "I hereby declare the accused, Apparatus Officer Soltan Gris, innocent of the charge of bigamy in this prison." The shock of it was such that there was hardly a breath drawn for half a minute.


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