"An Unfair Trial?"

© 1984 by Andersen Silva

Xavier Huston gave the officer a disgusted look as he listened to his rights. "Yeah, yeah, I know," interrupted Huston, "just take me away from this place, willya?" 'This place' was the remains of the Cryin' Shame, an illegal casino on Neptune. Federal agents from Earth had been trying to close it down since 2030, but what dozens of troopers could not do in eleven years, Huston, a top-gun smuggler and bounty hunter, did in about six minutes. Having relieved a Terran Army trooper of his newly developed Blazer Lazer, the unshaven, lanky bandit massacred every living being in the casino. He smirked suddenly, and told the arresting officer, "Ol' Fats won't ever have to worry about late payments again." "Shut up and get moving!" the officer yelled.

During the ninety-minute ride to Earth, Huston retraced mentally the incidents that had led to this massacre. Chris "Fats" Qrytok, big-time interplanetary gangster, had informed Huston that a large shipment of tridium, from Mars to Venus, was scheduled to be transported in one month's time. Tridium was currently being used by scientists on Venus for adaptation purposes, but many citizens of the solar system had found that the drug, which they nicknamed 'marscaine' for its sole source, was highly addictive and hallucinogenic when mixed with distilled water. Huston agreed to nab the shipment for Fats for a million dollars, and he did so quite easily, as the freighter was unarmed. When he went to see Fats at the casino for his payment, however, he realized that he wasn't getting anything but excuses, and in a blind fury, he yanked out the new rapid-fire laser weapon he'd stolen and held the trigger for nearly six minutes, frying everyone in sight before the gun overheated, scorching his arm.

"We've arrived," announced the officer, and Xavier snarled, "So? How many hours 'til the execution?" The officer laughed. "Now, Huston, you know you're entitled to a fair trial. You've still got a few days left." He chuckled, but Huston's glare soon killed his mirth.

*                    *                    *

The federal prisons on Earth, the smuggler soon learned, were not as bad as they were made out to be. Granted, no one used waterbeds anymore, and water showers, as opposed to vibra-showers, wasted a lot of time, but it was still rather comfortable. Huston glanced around at his 15' by 10' cell, taking in the computer, microwave, and sensovision set. Smiling, he exclaimed, "You know, I could grow to like this!"

Just then, a prison guard came up to the cell, put his palm on a panel by the door, and pushed the door open. "All right, Huston! Come along!" The guard shoved the prisoner down the corridor, out another door, and into a Tcon-mobile. "Trans-continental?" wondered Huston aloud. "Just when I was getting used to the prisons in Austin! Where's the trial?" In Warsaw," muttered the guard. During the twenty-minute trip, Huston tried to remember where Warsaw was, finally guessing it to be a major resort city formerly of India.

The prisoner was led out of the vehicle and into a tall building. Stepping inside a turbo-elevator, they shortly arrived at the fifty-ninth floor and got out. Huston was then marched into a room, which he recognized as a courtroom. "Wait a minute," he told himself. "Something's missing... shouldn't I have a lawyer?"

As the judge entered, a young woman whispered in Huston's ear, "I've been told to inform you that you are your own defense. We realize that you are not familiar with the modern-day court system." She quickly went back to her own seat, and the judge turned to the district attorney. "What charges are brought against this man?" he rasped in heavily-accented English, and Huston stared at the judge in alarm at hearing his voice. He could not make out the justice's features at that distance, however.

"Your honor, Xavier Huston, also known as the Gunner, is charged with five counts of hijacking, eleven counts of rape, six counts of robbery, and... approximately four hundred seventy-three counts of murder in the first degree." "Just a minute!" thundered Huston. "You can't bring up old charges that were-" "Yes, we can, Mr. Huston," declared the judge icily. "Now, Mr. District Attorney, you said, 'Approximately four hundred seventy-three.'" "Er, yes, your honor. We don't have exact figures because... well, because the laser weapon Huston last used destroys human flesh beyond recognition, and we can't..." "I understand," said the judge.

"Jury, cast your vote!" he shouted, and Huston realized that there was, indeed, a twelve-member jury present. "But, your honor," he sputtered, "what evidence is there for a vote?" "All we need," smiled the judge. Huston sat in a daze as he saw the verdict light up above the judge's head, 12-0, guilty. "Well, as you have been found guilty, Mr. Huston, I sentence you to death in the radiation chamber. Dismissed!" "No, you can't do this! I demand a fair trial! I-" Huston stopped screaming as he realized what it was about the judge that had stricken fear into his heart, and, turning, he realized it held true for the jurors as well. "You blasted crooks! You mind-reading ALIENS! I want a human judge, not..." The guards dragged Huston away, and the judge from Antrana laughed, a booming sound. Wiping his one eye with his foot, he called out, "Next case!" while the jury foreman passed out refreshments. "I just love turtles!" whispered one happily crunching juror.