When you go into court, you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.
Quontin didn't mind knowing that the end was approaching. Back when he was in the Legion he was programmed to always be prepared to face death. What did bother him now was sitting about waiting for it. Ever since he regained consciousness and found himself in police custody he had spent days, he exactly wasn't sure how many, sitting in a prison cell. Every couple of hours however he was dragged out into an interrogation room and interviewed repetitively by the police and grim faced Special Branch officers.
Most of their questions had nothing to do with his crimes and were all about what he knew of local Egalitarian vanguard activities. Quontin had his mind probed with invasive Wetware implants and laughed at the befuddled lawmen when they found he was telling the truth about his activities all along. Priska's murder was a side event to them. Quontin wished he could see what was going on in their heads as they all swapped each other confused glances when their vanguard enquiries proved a waste of time, but alas he was the one being probed.
After the first interview the police informed him that he was officially charged for murder and several counts of terrorism. From then on interrogations were shorter and less frequent and then the day before a lawyer was brought into the cell to provide him with legal counsel.
The lawyer was a young woman, a dainty little thing in her early thirties who seemed ill at ease just by being in the cell. Quontin was polite but he found considered her more a nuisance. She didn't really have anything new to say and her ham-fisted attempt at reassurance was intolerable. He didn't need to be a genius to work out his fate had already been decided and everyone else was just going through the motions.
"Mr Zalvy, you'll receive the death penalty. You really ought to be serious about this," she implored.
"Why waste time thinking about it?" he told her as he shrugged. "I'm guilty, even if I believed it was possible the best you could ever hope to achieve is commute the sentence to life imprisonment. I don't want decades of hard labour on a hellish penal colony. What's done is done."
This frazzled the lawyer, who informed him that there would be a trial soon and left. She hadn't returned since.
Now all that seemed left in his life was waiting.
His cell was an austere three by three metre box with grey walls. A single light tube on the ceiling ensured the cell was constantly lit with an irksome white light, which made sleep very difficult. With the exception of the wall mounted, pull out toilet station the only piece of furniture was a prison cot that stood side on to the wall opposite the cell door. The cot had an uncomfortably hard mattress and the pillow was just too thin. There was a single white sheet which was virtually against the chilled air conditioned environment.
Quontin slumped with his feet on the ground and his head rested on the back wall.
He relived through the moments before his capture in his mind again and again. Of all the people to stab him in the back, the last he would have expected was Harrin Nigo or whoever he really was. He pretended to their friend for three years. They had fought together. The arsehole had his complete trust.
What kind of soulless man can manufacture friendship for that long? He wondered in dismay.
What annoyed him most was he couldn't work out how he was duped. He couldn't recall anything that should have alerted him to danger. Normally resolve himself to learn from his lesson to prevent it being repeated but he laughed at the irony his present situation presented.
At first the betrayal had consumed him in white hot fury, vowing to his ancestors he'd get his revenge. He burned to know why Harrin did it, compromising years of work and threatening the wellbeing of many decent citizens. Who really was that that bastard?
As the hours passed into days Quontin mellowed out. He still felt deeply wounded but it became clear from the interrogators and the lawyer, the system was gunning for him. What was the point? Quontin simply didn't care anymore.
Suddenly the cell door opened. A guard entered the cell and tossed a bundle at him. Quontin unfurled a cheap grey suit and studied it.
"Let me guess," quipped Quontin, "we're going to a party and you don't want me getting wine stains over your rental suit?"
"Get changed into this," ordered the guard with disinterest. "Be ready to be collected for court in five minutes."
Quontin put the bundle aside on the cot and stood up and stretched.
"Well you know where I'll be," Quontin called out to the guard as he left the cell. "My people will get in touch with your people. You have my details!"
The cell door ceiled shut again. He sighed, with a bit too much relief for his liking. Well at least something is happening.
He got changed and neatened himself up as best as he could.
Quontin was a very surprised that Court Five, a high domed chamber within the Central Cefurbo building complex for the Metropolitan Court of Appeal was a surprisingly warm and inviting place. It was well lit and had a modern, distinctly Shiniri decor that was a mix of bright summer colours. Another surprise was the packed public and press galleries, more than a hundred people. All of the chatter stopped as he was led into the room by the court bailiff, paying no notice of all faces and floating sense-recorders scanning him, one the now infamous terrorists from the New Years attacks.
After days languishing in a tiny cell he welcomed sitting down on a comfortable chair at the defence table. He exchanged a few disinterested words with his lawyer, who was dressed in her black robe and wearing a wig. He then waited with a serene but subdued smile. That would perturb the prosecution; his lawyer certainly was. She wanted to drag his case on all the way up to the World Court but that would be pointless. This was political, just as it was when the officers orchestrated his removal from Legion. If this was the meant to be the end Quontin was going to go down with his pride intact.
"All rise for the Honourable Magistrate Ledo!" announced the bailiff.
Everyone stood and watched the Magistrate appear from his chambers and rise to the central podium draped in the flags of Shinir and the Genetate. The Magistrate was a small man with coffee coloured skin. Crow's feet marked the sides of his eyes as a sign that age was catching up with his genetic enhancements. He wore a black judicial Thobe. Quontin guessed that if the man's hair could be seen from under the Thobe's headdress it would be thin and greying. He sat down and glared at Quontin as he made himself comfortable in his ornate chair.
"Order! The Court is in session," the Magistrate began the deliberations. "Read the charges."
Another court official in black robes stood to attention by the side of the Magistrate's podium. "In the case of the People of Shinir vs Quontin Zalvy, the defendant is charged with the following…"
For two minutes the official recited off a long list of crimes. Essentially Quontin was labelled a murderous, bloodthirsty terrorist mastermind.
"Mr Zalvy, how do you plead to these charges?" asked the Magistrate, who was fiddling with files in front of him.
The lawyer was about to get up and address the Magistrate when Quontin placed his hand on her shoulder to urge her back down. Quontin stood up and pulled his broad shoulders as far back as he could.
"Your Honour," he said slowly but confidently, "I have been a loyal servant of the Genetate for years. I have the done right thing and have nothing to hide from. For that, Your Honour, I am proudly guilty."
A rush of surprised chatter went through the chamber. Reporters were groaning because there would be no long drawn out trial passed on to the World Court to sensationalise.
Quontin's lawyer buried her face in her palm. The lawyers at the prosecution table all looked disappointed. The spoilsport defendant robbed them of their fun.
"Order!" cried the Magistrate who also seemed surprised. Though Quontin thought it was pleasant surprise at being able to leave early for lunch. "As you have pleaded guilty I will pass judgement now. Quontin Zalvy this Court sentences you to Death by Spectacle. Order! The Court is now adjourned."
Quontin still stood there, watching the Magistrate retire to his chambers. He was sentenced to death but it didn't seem as bad as he thought it would be.
On the bright side, he thought, this form of execution will let me to go out the way I wanted.