Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

The men that delivered Louis to the Chancellors chambers had done so quickly, forcefully and without remark. Louis had goaded them through the tunnels from the parking garage, up the elevators and along the corridors without rebuke until they deposited him violently on the cold stone floor and left the room.

“Louis,” the Chancellor frowned down at him, “you disappoint me.” He shook his head slowly as he spoke. “I thought we had an understanding.”

Louis pulled himself to his feet, the binders on his ankles and wrists making it an awkward and painful task.

“Chancellor Godheid, you’ve gone too far this time. You have no grounds for arrest, you have no reason…” The Chancellor cut him off abruptly.

“Quite the contrary. We know exactly what you do, and who you do it with, and I’m afraid you won’t be permitted to do it anymore. We have rules.”

“Rules? What about my rights? If you’re going to charge me, I want my lawyer. I want my minute of discretionary conversation.” Louis straightened and met the Chancellors cold glare. “Have you forgotten the law?”

“Forgotten the law? We made the law. My grandfather’s grandfather brought the law here with him from Earth and forged a new world around it. We made the law when we made this city from the living rock, made farm lands from the lifeless dust. We made the law for people like us, Louis, we made the law for the people who would abide by it. Not for you.”

Louis spat on the floor, the saliva quickly drawn into the pores of the polished stone. “You didn’t make the law, like you said you just brought it with you. It was written by better men than you. I have the right to a fair trial by a jury of my peers. Everything I know about you and what you do will be brought to public record there. You can’t stop it, you can’t stop the people hearing about how you run your little empire. We’ll see how they like you when I tell them what you are. You go ahead and try me if you dare, and I’ll hang you on the letter of your own law.”

The Chancellor closed the distance between them in a heartbeat, twisting his captives ear painfully, as though he were merely an insolent child, and hauled him stumbling onto the balcony outside.

“Look,” he waved at the landscape splayed out beneath and beyond the outcropping of carved stone on which they stood, “look at what we have made here. You think you can take this from me?” Louis was awestruck by the view. He’d seen the city from the ground his entire life, but never had the expanse of it been as apparent as it was from this altitude. Red rock fingers reaching out through fields of blue to the horizon, littered at regular intervals with domes of stone and alloy and polished glass. Sliding transport lanes arced between them, moving colonists and goods alike to and from the city center.

“We brought from Earth only what was useful. You’re right, by the laws of Earth you are entitled to your trial. You’re entitled to be found innocent or guilty and your sentence meted out appropriately. By the laws of Earth you’re allowed your day in public court, and to tell whatever stories you may wish to tell.” Louis smiled as the Chancellor leaned so close he could feel the heat of his breath on his ear, and there his expression froze. “We’re not on Earth now though, are we Louis?”

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