Ursa Non Gratis

Part XI.

The Censure -

Duck paced the confines of her holding cell while the lawyers and the judge argued with her escort. The gravity of the charges required Censure by law, but that in itself was the danger. To let someone into her mind was to put her mind at risk, not to mention national security.

'What a lovely mess,' she mused to herself. She tried to calm herself down, but she knew that if the censure was allowed, all bets were off. Bear had admitted to killing Othello after his censure and that had set her time table spinning out of control Out of control, that was the key. Now all she could do was wait, and pray for a break.

When her escort arrived, she knew they had lost.

"Great," she sighed as the guard opened the door. "So they can have some mage verify that I was busy falling off a mountain in Appalachia when they believe I was busy killing a man in Quebec. Guess hospital records and eye witnesses aren't enough."

"Sorry," he answered. "But they say all that can be faked."

"Memories can be faked too," she grumbled.

They both knew the real problem: the censure, if reliable would prove her innocent of murder, but at the same time, it could also lead to charges of espionage, a crime both she and Bear were guilty of. If the censure was unreliable, it was all too possible, that she too would be confessing to a murder she had nothing to do with.

"Hang in there," he urged.

"Easy for you to say," she quipped. "You aren't going to have your brain picked apart." She paused as they approached the courtroom. "Did they agree?"

"To censure the censurer?" He shook his head. "That was a longshot."

"A girl can always hope," she answered. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then nodded.

Her escort smiled encouragingly thenopened the door and led her back into the courtroom. She tensed as she was led to the witness stand. Restraints that hadn't been there before now dangled from the armrests and the legs of the chair.

The bailiff gestured towards the chair. "Sit," he ordered gruffly. Duck tried to move, but found she couldn't. Fortunately when the bailiff turned and saw her expression was one of fear, not defiance, he relaxed just a little.

"Sorry," he stated. "Standard procedure, nothing more."

His words finally sunk in and Duck found she could move again. Once seated, the guard strapped her in and moved aside. "It'll be over soon." he assured her.

Duck nodded with a forced calmness. None of this was going to be easy, or quick, that she was sure of.

As the jury settled down a woman was called forward and led to Duck's side. Duck tried to force herself to comply with the censure, but as the woman tried to enter he mind, years of training kicked in, it quickly became a battle of wills, and Duck was breathing heavy when the woman leaned away.

"She's resisting your honor," the woman stated calmly. She knew that she didn't have to fight Duck to get what she needed, not when there were drugs that would do the fighting for her.

The judge nodded and signaled the Bailiff. Duck watched as a man was allowed entry to the court. He walked to the prosecution's table and placed the traditional black doctor's bag on the table. Duck watched as he took a needle from the bag and prepped it. She tensed as he walked over and swabbed her arm. She tried to remain calm as he inserted the needle and pressed the plunger down. She blinked as the world tried to swim around her, but then she felt the pressure again.

"Wjowski, Katya, Lt JG, 7170293-75A," she gasped asn the pressure increased to an unbearable level. ""Wjowski, Katya, Lt JG, 7170293-75A." It became a chant, a tailisman against the invasion of her mind.

She was oblivious as the woman backed away again, shaking her head. She felt the sharp stick as the needle was once again plunged into her amr. Then everything came back in a flood. Duck screamed.

It was like reliving a nightmare. She was repelling down the mountain, face first. Below her she could see the rocks and tress, then she felt the sudden release of tension, as her line broke, and she began falling. She felt the pain as she hit an outcropping and began tumbling. Then everything went blank.

Suddenly it was a week earlier. She was over at Dan's. He was watching her pack for her training stint through the steam from his cup of tea. She turned as he told her he was going to Quebec

"He says he has info on the 'Archer's Fist,'" he told her. "We have to follow up on it. If we don't they'll just wait and strike again, and again."

"Can't you wait until I'm done training?" she objected.

"Sorry babe, but you know the AF, they get word of this, they'll kill him in a heartbeat," he countered, then promised. "I'll be carefull."

Duck nodded, ignoring the gnawing feeling she got whenever the Archer's Fist was involved.

Her stomach churned as she felt some one sifting through her memories, guiding them. She struggled as she was forced to remember her first meeting with the Archer's Fist....

The court censurer, Miss Sullivan moved away from Duck for the third time and nodded at the doctor. Again he prepped the needle, then looked at the judge. "I hope this is worth it," he whispered, then gave Duck a third dose.

It came in a flood of images. Images and pain.

She remembered the fierce anger and worry, but the force that guided her kept aiming towards the part she avoided the most. The pain was overwhelming. She tried to fight it, but there was no escaping the pain and fear. It filled her, crushed her, left her helpless.

She cried out, straining against her bonds as she once again found herself in hell. Agony filled her mind as she fought to control herself and found she couldn't

"Where are they?" the voice taunted. She was blind. The only input she had was sound, and pain.

Duck shook her head, then screamed as her mind was set on fire. Power surged down the wires, through the datajack, straight into her mind. Her body shook from the shock. She tried to count, but time was gone. The surge seemed to last forever, then it was gone.

Her body twitched as she tried to breath and found she couldn't.

"Where are they," the voice asked again.

Duck tried to answer, but the after shocks from her own body wouldn't let her.

The voice's response was to unleash another surge, and another, and another.

"Enough!" A voice yelled. "Enough!"

The pressure eased, but the pain remained, threatening to overwhelm her. She tried to leave, but found she was trapped.

Gran TwoBears glowered at the judge and the censurer as she cradled Duck in her arms. She was trying to regain herself, but the drugs held her to the memories and pain. Slowly, Duck began rocking, singing almost mindlessly a children's nursery song.

The court waited in silence as Duck was carried from the room and the woman tried to regain her composure.

"Miss Sullivan?" the judge prompted.

"She had no knowledge of the murder," the woman stated. "As far as she knew, Daniel TwoBears was going to talk to the victim, nothing more. He was looking for information on a group called 'The Archer's Fist."

"And the rest of that display?"

"She was blocking something so heavily, I thought it might have had something to do with the case, and the rest of the memories were just a rouse..."

"And?" the judge prompted.

"It had nothing to do with this case," she answered, her voice trembling as she remembered the pain she had forced Duck to relive.

"We will be the judge of that," the Prosecutor countered. "It is your job to report what you see, it is our job to intepret!"

"Your honor?" the woman countered as the main railed against her.

"I'm afraid that is the case, the prosecution is correct, although he would be well advised to refrain from doing my job. Miss Sullivan, if you would be so kind..."

The woman nodded and spend the next four hours trying to describe the hell that Duck had endured.

Copyright 1998 - M.T. Decker

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