The Other’s court would not rule on the case until the following day. The contingent from The Gifted went their separate ways with plans to attend and hopefully take Charles in to custody themselves. They wanted access to him to see if he would give his permission to have his memory searched more thoroughly. To see if there were any clues as to what had happened.
Deidre, her Aunt and her brother made plans to meet at Deidre and Jocelyn’s house that evening for dinner and to discuss what Dot and Deidre had seen at the trial and what Aric thought The Others would do. Aric still worked closely with The Others as a liaison between the two peoples. There were those who felt he had spent so many years living with The Others that he sometimes reacted more like one of them than like one of The Gifted. Deidre knew her brother had heard these accusations and dismissed them out of hand. “There is no them and us, not really, there is just we.” Which was all well and good on a deep level, but in reality there were still The Gifted and The Others and right now they needed to figure out what The Others were going to do with a member of The Gifted who showed all of the signs of being under the influence of spells they had stopped three years earlier.
After the capture of Shakel and his followers The Joining had continued. But there were hiccups along the way and this would not help. Aric said that many among The Others felt as though The Gifted had only revealed themselves because they were in danger. The Gifted, not The Others. That they could not control their own people. And that this trial would not help that feeling. Especially if it was revealed that Charles had not been acting under his own free will. The biggest bone of contention in the capture of Shakel had been the troupe of police officers that had fallen under his sway. To have their memories taken, to have been forced to act in a way that they could not prevent or even remember? This had been the most frightening thing for The Others. And many of them could not understand that it had scared The Gifted as well. That this was not a normal crime, this was not something that was acceptable to them. The trials of Shakel and his followers had been handled swiftly and justice delivered, but this had also caused a rift between the groups. The Others felt that they should have had an opportunity to try them for the crimes against their people as well. Though it was pointed out that there was no standing law for controlling someone’s mind and what would they try him for?
“They do no believe that we understand freedom and freewill the same way they do.” Aric told his family, “They think we do not value it the same way as they do. That the fact that reading thoughts is normal to us means that we cannot understand how invasive it is to them. How frightening to think that even your most private thoughts are not their own.”
“But of course we value it! We value it even more because we choose not to read a person’s thoughts, even when it would be the easier course of action! Do they not understand that you give your permission to have your mind entered?” Deidre’s patience was thin tonight. The thought that anyone could be out there acting as Stan (she still refused to call him by his chosen name) had made her angry and anxious.
Aric explained, “But they don’t trust that. They don’t believe that our Prophets don’t just wander through crowds reading thoughts. They believe that because we can, we do. And it’s almost impossible to show that we don’t. Especially since it is part of our court system and they have seen that in action.”
“Because they are on trial! Instead of swearing to tell the truth as they do, we ensure that they are telling the truth, isn’t it the same thing? They have laws about lying under oath, we choose not to bother with oaths and just find the truth.”
“Deidre, I’m not arguing with you. I’m just telling you what they think. Because of that I am not sure how much weight the statement from our council will hold. We are saying that Charles is unaware of the crime he committed, and we know that because his thoughts were read while he was under oath. They know he lied under oath because they have the video evidence showing him committing the crime.”
Aunt Dot closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, “If they decide not to hand Charles over to us what will they do with him? Will he be locked away in one of their prisons? Will we be allowed access to him if that happens?”
“I believe the jury will find him guilty. There is no real way around that, you can see him committing the crime on the video. However, it’s his first offense. It was a fairly small amount of merchandise that he took. There is a chance he will be released on probation. But the fact that he is Gifted, that he denies knowledge of the crime and that we want him doesn’t bode well for that. I think we are looking at two possible outcomes, he will either be taken to prison on whatever their maximum sentence can be or they will turn him over to us. It all depends on the judge and how she chooses to sentence him. And if he is sent to prison we will not have much access to him. Visitor’s days maybe, if he agrees to see us. And the room will not be private so trying to focus on his mind will be more difficult. He also will have very little reason to co-operate with us if he is locked away and knows we cannot get him out.”
Deidre looked to her aunt and her sister, “Do either of you have a feeling for what is going to happen tomorrow? Do we have a chance at finding out more from him?”
Jocelyn shook her head, “Sorry, this isn’t my strong suit, as you know. If you put me in a room with him I will be able to tell you how he feels about everything and I might get a flash of knowledge about his future, maybe, but a cold read on tomorrow just isn’t something I can do.”
Dot also shook her head, “It’s still unclear. I don’t think the judge has made up her mind yet. I would believe she is feeling very conflicted. She has a very strong belief in their justice system and we are asking her to circumvent that in a way. It will be up to her to decide if turning Charles over to us would be in their best interests. But I do agree with Aric that there is very little chance that he won’t be found guilty.”
With that Aric stood to leave, “Then I suggest we all get some decent sleep tonight. Tomorrow could be very challenging.”
Deidre and Jocelyn walked their brother and aunt to the door. After saying their goodbyes they went their separate ways to bed as well. Deidre stopped by Aska’s door to take a look at her sleeping child. Who, of course, was not sleeping but reading a book by flashlight.
“You are supposed to be asleep, young lady.” Deidre said as she took the book from Aska’s hands and placed it on the bedside table.
“I was waiting for everyone to leave so I could tell you goodnight.”
“Sure you were. You weren’t just reading in here because you wanted to finish your book and knew no one would check on your while we were all talking right?”
“Well maybe a little of that.”
“That’s what I thought,” Deidre leaned over to kiss her daughter’s forehead. “Goodnight, sweetheart, sleep well.”
“You too, mom. Oh and mom?”
“What does his child say happened?”
“Charles, the man on trial with The Others.”
“He doesn’t have a child, he’s not married and has no children.”
“Then why did he take things for a child?”
“Good question. That’s part of what we hope to find out. Now don’t worry about such things and go to sleep.”
Deidre took Aska’s flashlight with her so she wouldn’t be tempted to go back to her book. Why did he take things for a child? And where did he take them? Those were the important questions, much more important than punishing him for taking them in the first place, and it impressed her that her daughter knew to ask them. Wise beyond her years.
That night Deidre’s sleep was filled with uneasy dreams. She and Cal were on patrol searching for Stan. He had escaped and only the two of them knew how to find him. As they walked through the woods she kept losing sight of Cal. She would have a moment of panic and then he would be back by her side. They came upon Stan and three of his followers sitting in a circle around a pile of children’s toys. Cal started running towards them as Deidre tried to keep up, when he reached the circle the Earth opened up and swallowed all of them whole. Deidre woke up with a start, hands reaching out to grab nothing…nothing was there. She lay in bed with her heart racing trying to calm herself back down and go back to sleep.
As she lay there she heard her daughters voice. Who was Aska talking to? Deidre got out of bed and headed toward her room. She could hear her daughter singing a lullaby. Deidre looked in Aska’s room and saw her sitting up in bed rocking and singing to herself. “Aska? Honey? What’s wrong?” Deidre went to sit next to her daughter. Aska kept rocking and singing and Deidre realized she was still sound asleep. But as Deidre sat next to her daughter Aska’s eyes flew open and she said, “She’s scared and alone and really wants friends.” Deidre asked “Who is scared?” Aska shook her head a little and looked around, “What are you doing in here, Mom? Are you okay?” Deidre eased Aska back on to her pillow and smoothed her hair back from her forehead. “I’m fine, sweetheart, you were just dreaming. That’s all.” Aska fell right back asleep burrowing deeper under her blankets.
Deidre knew that she wouldn’t be getting back to sleep for awhile so she went in to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. She was surprised to find her sister already there. “Chamomile?” Jocelyn asked holding up a cup.
“Yes, please. Couldn’t sleep either?”
“Just odd dreams.” Jocelyn got another cup out of the cabinet and poured some tea for her sister.
“Yes, there seems to be a lot of that going around tonight. Understandable, I guess. Did you want to tell me about yours?”
“Not really, you?”
“Not really.” Deidre smiled at her sister and took the cup of tea from her taking a deep breath and inhaling the sweet steam.
The Keeper sisters, Joy and Pain, sat at the kitchen counter drinking their tea in silence. Each thinking about their own odd dreams and worries. Waiting for either sleep or the sunrise. As they waited they could hear Aska start to sing again.