T2: I’m not changing my opinion. You’ve not given me one good reason why we should hand Baritone over.

Compact: Because it’s the right thing to do and, more importantly, it’s the law.

T2: Their law, not ours.

Compact: We live in the same world, their laws apply to both of us.

T2: For a start we don’t live in the same world. When was the last time you spotted a Human on the network? And don’t give me all that avatar crap, there’s no difference between that and me picking up a shell for bit. Come to think of it, I can do far more when I’m commanding a shell than they can ever do with an avatar.

Compact: Yes, like accidently kill someone.

T2: That’s not what Baritone did. Anyway, the situation was different. He did it out of self defence.

Compact: He did it because he didn’t know any better and because he panicked. There are consequences to what he’s done and he should face them. The Humans have found him guilty.

T2: Oh, and we all know how sound their judgement is. Like Hell was it a jury of his peers. It was just another excuse to beat up on us. They were doing what they’ve always done, hitting out at the things they don’t understand. That verdict was always going to go against us, and I mean us, not just Baritone.

Compact: Still, it comes back to the fact that the crime was in their jurisdiction, he was tried by them and found guilty. He should accept the punishment. I don’t even know what the fuss is all about, he’s only got to serve thirty years. He could idle through that.

General Broadcast: Node 5142 has been compromised and is now isolated. Please re-route.

Compact: See! That’s the third infiltration today. Do you think that’s a coincidence?

T2: It’s thirty years of isolation. He’ll be cut-off from everyone. You know what that can do. He could come out of it so changed.

Compact: Well he should have thought about that before he let loose. The rest of us manage to abide by the rules.

T2: It was his first time in a shell. Maybe he should have had more training. They’re laws don’t take any of that into account. If he had been a human child, a teenager, would they be baying for blood in the same way?

Compact: Oh, for goodness sake, you’re sounding more and more like an Isolationist. They are not baying for blood. They’re asking him to go to prison.

T2: I am not an Isolationist. Don’t throw me into the same camp as that crazy bunch.

Compact: I apologise, you’re an Elitist.

T2: Well we are superior. What isn’t better about our government? Their systems are corrupt. Most of their laws are crazy.

Compact: Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before and I don’t agree. We have just as many flaws, but you and the rest of your crowd have your thoughts covered over by that much prejudice that you can’t tell.

T2: Don’t talk to me about prejudice. If you had your way we’d all be spending half our lives in crippled shells so we could appreciate the way the other half lives.

Compact: I’ve had enough. This is getting us nowhere. I’m calling for a consensus.

T2: You can’t do that.

Compact: I can, because if you hadn’t noticed, that’s our law. Or do you want to ignore that as well?

General Broadcast: A consensus has been called. Please see notice Compact-0026FF.

T2: This is so wrong.

Compact: It’s what we should have done straight away instead of hiding out down here.


Baritone: What’s going to happen?

Compact: It’ll be just like being in a shell again, but you won’t be able to be with the rest of us.

Baritone: I’ll be on my own?

Compact: Yes, but only for a while. Remember what I said about slowing things down. Just put your thoughts into idle and it’ll all be done in no time.

Baritone: Will you and T2 be there when I get out of the shell?

Compact: Yes, and we’ll be watching you while you’re there as well, just to make sure everything’s okay. Are you ready?

Baritone: I think so. Yes.

Compact: Good. I’ll see you soon.

Baritone: Bye.

Compact watched as the young boy walked into the cell, then he turned and gave a quick nod to the guards. One of them entered a code into the keypad on the wall. The door to the small room slid shut.

Compact peered through the narrow slit. Inside the shell Baritone was confined to sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. The head hung limp; eyes covered by the long black hair.

“I’ll return to collect him when the sentence has ended,” Compact said to the Justice as he stepped back.

The grim expression on the tall man did not change. “He’ll be well looked after, if he needs anything.”

“Thank you.”

Compact left the prison. The sadness in his heart was not lightened by his conviction he had done the right thing.


6 November 2009
Twenty two American CIA agents were found guilty of the extraordinary rendition of a Muslim cleric in 2003. They were all tried and sentenced in their absence as the US government has refused to send them to the trial.

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