The Jester sat in the stand, not because he was feeling rebellious but simply because they had placed a chair there and it seemed only right to sit, the name of the ‘stand’ notwithstanding. He might have taken these thoughts further, but for the fact that he was still tinkering with the damaged Cyberman head he had brought with him to court for something to do. That and the fact that there was a glowing orb floating in front of him bothering him with all sorts of questions.

“I can’t help noticing,” said the Prosecutor, “that you are, even as we speak, tampering with the head of a member of the plaintiff’s race.”

“Hmm? Oh, aye. Different model though. I rescued this one off a freighter about to crash into prehistoric Earth.” He figured it best not to mention the irritating lad who had begged for a lift at the same time. The Jester wasn’t averse to picking up hitch-hikers per se, but their company had to at least make a ten second space-time hop bearable. He tapped the Cyber-head with his (non-sonic) screwdriver. “These guys change their appearance more than our lot.”

“Yes.” The Prosecutor made a throat-clearing sound, which was quite impressive considering his complete lack of throat. “Talking of ‘your lot’, are your people aware that you have been going around to various sites of thwarted Cyberman invasion plans and collecting members of the plaintiff’s race – of various models – and organising them into a baseball team?”

“Aye. The Mondas Mets. But to be honest, I don’t know if my lot are aware of it or not. We advertise the fixtures prominently, but they’re such an insular lot I don’t suppose they monitor the sports channels.”

“Your candour is – appreciated,” noted the Prosecutor, apparently never having encountered such an honest defendant before. “Is it not true that you are already wanted by your own people?”

“Objection! Move to strike!” piped up Megara Three. “My client’s past record has no bearing on this case.”

“Your Honour,” appealed the Prosecutor. “I am trying to establish that we are dealing with a reprehensible individual, utterly devoid of shame in his treatment of the plaintiff’s race.”

“Oh in that case, carry on,” said Megara Three.

“Eh?” said the Jester.

“I think,” said High Justice, tipping himself forward to glower down on the Jester, “that much has been established by the fact that he is working on a Cyberman right now.”

“Just a spot of repair work, Your Orbship.”

The Prosecutor positively glowed and emitted a contented buzz the likes of which the Jester hadn’t heard since he’d stumbled in on President Flavia just as she’d discovered a new and innovative use for the Mind Probe.

“I think,” said the Prosecutor, “the defence could use a similar ‘spot of repair work’.”

The Jester wondered if he should start worrying.


Parole hearings were ordinarily held at the Correction Fluid Facility, where in a complex process of transmutation, offenders were reduced to liquid and pumped into tanks of water that had been morally primed at a subatomic level. The hope was that the punishment would dilute their criminality, but it was surprising how many reverted once restored to their proper form and most Megara had been obliged to conclude that it was a temporary solution at best.

Megara Six’s case was different and the hearing was taking place in a special room in the main courthouse, where her client had been ‘beamed in’ by transmat from her current place of detention. She – the client – stood upright and expressionless in the transmat tube, awaiting the verdict from the trio of the Parole Board who were arrayed before Megara Six on the other side of a long table. The Board consisted of several Diplans and a Senior Justice, all of whom were by now intimately familiar with the case.

“This parole hearing is now in session,” declared the Senior Justice, already sounding tired. “Let’s try to keep proceedings short and to the point, please.”

Megara Six made a sniffy noise. So the Board were trying to railroad her. “If it pleases the tribunal, may I point out that my client’s liberty is at stake here. Is there any particular reason to hurry this decision?”

The members of the tribunal glanced at one another. “The fact is we’ve been beaming in the prisoner annually for ten years now. People are paying closer attention to the number of stones in the circle. In short, your client may be missed.”

Six looked to her client. No reaction from her, as ever, but that was natural. She was pertrified. A cruel and inhumane punishment, but Megara could be such hard-butts when it came to sentencing. Still, she wasn’t here to contest the original decision. Best not, in fact, as that would raise the matter of Cessair’s long list of crimes. And that, like breakfast on a rollercoaster ride, was something you just didn’t want coming up.

“Well, first of all,” she began, “since sentence was imposed, my client has been a model prisoner. She hasn’t once stepped out of line – ”

“Hard to do when you’ve been turned to stone,” the Senior Justice Megara scoffed openly. “I imagine that’s one of the reasons that sentence was imposed.”

Six glanced at her client a little nervously. It wasn’t going well. The tribunal was outwardly hostile. Cessair had that effect on all justice machines and a large number of people. Six herself wasn’t entirely comfortable pleading her case, but a client was a client. Cessair only gave gloomy looks whichever side of her you looked, and her disposition wasn’t improved in the slightest by her being so heavily encrusted with lichen.

“Further to her exemplary behaviour, I would add that my client feels a great deal of remorse for all her crimes and wishes nothing more than to make amends and reclaim her place as an upstanding pillar of society.”

Damn, she had meant to strike that line.

“And, ah, what evidence do you have of your client’s mental state?” prompted a Diplan gentleman.

Aha, this would clinch it. “I have the testimony of an expert witness who conducted tests on site. If I may?”

“By all means.”

Six transmitted the signal and a large screen activated to one side of the transmat tube. It revealed a shot of an old lady with wild white hair dancing around what was officially known as the Stone Circle Penitentiary, situated on 20th century Earth. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Devorah Shywind of te Fourth Quaniticle of Mirabilis Fantagora. Renowned Space-Witch and Diviner of the Ultraparanormal.”

“Excuse me?”

“I realise it’s a bit of a mouthful.”

“Is it important that she’s naked?”

“Um, I gather it does play a part in the communication process, yes.” Six called up her notes from her internal databank. “I believe she refers to her state of undress as being ‘skyclad’. The essential point here is that she has communed extensively with my client.”

“Telepathically?” ventured one of the Diplan females.

“Not as such. She uses a special instrument.”

“Ah. May we see this device?”

Six gave the nod a little reticently. If there was a weak point in her case it was here. Devorah dutifully held up a couple of bent copper rods. Six looked at them and winced. She remembered in preparing the witness how she thought that a pair of bent coppers was the worst thing to bring before a parole hearing. Ah well, no going back now.

“You seriously expect us to believe this woman can talk to Cessair of Diplos using these primitive tools?”

“As I understand it, there are, um, energy emissions – ” Six searched through her files for the data on all those paranormal studies she had retrieved for just this eventuality.

“Pah! This is nothing but hocus pocus religion!”

“It’s no substitute for a good blaster at your side, I’ll grant you, but – ” She knew she was on a slippery slope when she was throwing in Star Wars quotes.

“No. I’m sorry, Megara Six, but this is inadmissible. Your client will have to endure her sentence for another year. This tribunal is concluded.”

Six dipped dejectedly a few inches in the air. So dejectedly, she had slipped from metric into some obscure imperial system of measurement. As the members of the tribunal filed out, she turned worriedly to her client.

“I’m sorry. We did all we could.”

No reaction.

“We’ll have better luck next time,” she tried.


“Well, see you in a year then.”


Damn it, if only she’d give her something. Anger, tears, anything would be better than this stone-faced silent treatment.

The transmat flared and Cessair was instantaneously transported back to her place in the Stone Circle. Her return would at least give Devorah something more to dance about.

Six decided there was nothing else to do but head over to the main courtroom to see if Megara Three’s case was faring any better.

[To Be Continued…]


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