22 April 2007

Saskia's Trials - Chapter 1 Part 2

Jeff sat down opposite them. "The Council wants to arrest Saskia for the murder of Professor Jackson and his five men in Eupatoria a month ago." He looked thoroughly miserable.
"Five men?" the Doctor asked in surprise.
Jeff nodded.
"Why do they think Saskia is responsible?" asked the Doctor. "No one apart from us two came out of the desert alive."
"Luca told them," Jeff said. "He said he read it in Saskia's mind when she attacked him at the Museum. He and Philip were arrested, then tried a few days after your last visit. They were tried for their involvement in Jackson's attempt to steal 'a valuable cultural artefact'. And Luca was tried for inciting violence against an individual."
"You?" asked the Doctor.
"Me," confirmed Jeff.
"And?" asked the Doctor, sensing he wasn't going to like whatever else he was about to hear, whilst also wondering if Saskia was in shock.
"They were both found guilty. Philip was stripped of his role and given a heavy fine, but allowed to go free. Luca was sentenced to two years exile on Abneigung, but he plea bargained with the Council. He told them Saskia had killed Jackson and his five men, and they gave him a lighter sentence as a result: two years imprisonment here on Einfuhlung."
The Doctor frowned in thought. "Abneigung. That's where Jackson told me he was from."
Jeff nodded. "It's Einfuhlung's twin planet. It's a penal colony, mostly. Einfuhlung's criminals are sent into exile there, to help develop it into a wholly habitable planet. That's where they'll send Saskia if they find her guilty, which is why you two should get out of here whilst you still can."
The Doctor nodded his understanding. "Saskia?" he said gently.
She looked up at him, her face a picture of misery and despair. "Doctor?"
"Come on," he said. "Let's get back to the TARDIS." He stood up, then pulled Saskia to her feet, just as a thunderous knocking came at the door.
"Too late," whispered Jeff. "They must have been watching for you to arrive."

The Doctor cursed under his breath. "You'd better let them in," he told Jeff as an impatient voice shouted through the door.
"Open in the name of the High Council of Einfuhlung!"
Jeff hurried to open the door and half a dozen burly men entered Saskia's apartment. The leader was almost as tall as the Doctor, with very short hair and a very determined look on his face. He pulled out a wallet and showed them his ID.
"I'm here to arrest Saskia Scolere for the murder of Professor Jackson and his five companions in the Dasleere Viertel region on or about the 15th of Secundus," he said loudly.
The Doctor found himself wincing at the man's stentorian tones as Saskia stepped forward, white-faced and spoke in a surprisingly steady voice, steadier than the Doctor would have guessed she could manage.
"I am Saskia Scolere," she said.
The man nodded an acknowledgement having already recognised Saskia from the photos with which he'd been provided. "I've been authorised to take you in by force," he said. "That won't be necessary, will it?"
Saskia shook her head and crossed the room to stand near him and his men.
"Hang on!" the Doctor said.
She turned and looked at him. "It's OK," she said. She didn't flinch when two of the security men clasped a metal manacle around each of her wrists, setting a second manacle that was linked to the first by a short sturdy chain, onto their own wrist nearest to Saskia's.
The Doctor turned to Jeff as the men escorted her out. "Are we just going to let them take her?" he demanded angrily.
Jeff nodded unhappily. "I don't want to be arrested for trying to prevent them," he answered honestly.
The Doctor hurried to the door. "I'm going with them," he said.
Jeff rushed after him and grabbed his arm. "Don't," he begged. "Please don't. You'll only make things worse for Saskia. I'm going to call Dr Karg. He made me promise to let him know if this happened. We'll stand by Saskia, I promise, and do everything we can to help her, but we have to do this the legal way."
The Doctor shook Jeff's hand off his arm, then turned back into the apartment. "Call him, then," he growled. He slumped down onto the sofa, his mind in a turmoil of anger, disbelief and sorrow. He hadn't anticipated the possibility of Saskia being arrested and punished for what she had done to Jackson and his men, and it irked him that he hadn't thought of such an outcome.
He sat clutching his head and half listened to Jeff talking to Dr Karg as his thoughts churned through his head. He wondered what the three of them would be able to do to help Saskia, and began considering whether he could just take the TARDIS to wherever she was being held and simply take her away.

Jeff turned to look at Saskia's friend as he ended his call to Dr Karg. The Doctor had a fierce look on his face and Jeff could sense his anger and pain at what had happened. Jeff's empathic powers weren't as strong as Saskia's, but he could feel enough to know that this man cared deeply for her. He swallowed, then spoke. "Dr Karg is on his way into town," he told the Doctor. "He's asked that we wait until he arrives before we take any action."
The Doctor looked up at Jeff. "He'd better not be too long getting here, then."
"Do you want some tea?" asked Jeff, then winced, thinking he sounded like he was trying to play the good host. However, the Doctor looked pleased at the suggestion.
"I'd love some," he said, his face brightening a little from its hawk-like fierceness. He got up and followed Jeff into Saskia's kitchen, remembering the last time he had been in there.
"I haven't asked how you are," the Doctor observed.
"There hasn't exactly been an opportunity for social niceties," Jeff pointed out.
"True," acknowledged the Doctor. "Were you in the hospital for long?"
Jeff shook his head as he filled the kettle. "No, fortunately. They let me out again after a few days."
"Good." The Doctor dug in a pocket of his coat for a moment, then pulled out a banana. "Want one?" he asked.
Jeff shook his head. "No thanks." He sounded amused, the Doctor noticed, but he didn't ask why. He ate the banana absent-mindedly, his mind whirling around the problem of rescuing Saskia.
"Do you know where they've taken Saskia?" he asked as he dropped the banana skin into the recycling bin by the kitchen door.
"There's a detention unit in the Council Quarter of the city," Jeff answered.
"What's the security like?" asked the Doctor, trying to keep his voice casual.
Jeff looked at him sharply. "You can't break in," he insisted.
The Doctor cursed himself silently for forgetting that Jeff would be able to read his emotions almost as easily as Saskia. "I promise not to try it except as a last resort," he said.
"It would have to be the last resort," Jeff said. "Otherwise Saskia would just be in even more trouble."
The Doctor scowled but was interrupted by a knock at Saskia's front door before he could answer.
"That's Dr Karg," Jeff said. He hurried out of the kitchen and the Doctor followed him more slowly.

Jeff opened the door to the tall, grey-haired man whom the Doctor had met on his last visit to Einfuhlung. The Doctor approached him and shook hands. He noted that the other man looked a little older than he had a month ago, there were more lines around his eyes and mouth, although his green eyes still shone with wisdom.
"Doctor," he said, shaking hands. "I'm sorry we are meeting in such troubling circumstances."
"So am I," answered the Doctor. "Saskia and I were hoping to come and have our postponed lunch with you, but it looks like that won't be happening just yet."
Dr Karg shook his head sorrowfully. "I'm afraid not. And if the Council decides to give Saskia the harshest sentence possible, it won't happen at all."
The Doctor looked at him, open-mouthed in horror. "What? You don't mean they'll execute her?" he asked.
“No, no, we do not execute criminals on Einfuhlung, not even those found guilty of murder. And that's a rare crime here."
"What then?" demanded the Doctor. "What is the harshest possible sentence?" Jeff looked stricken, the Doctor noticed, and even Dr Karg looked grave.
"If she's found guilty, she will be exiled to Abneigung for a lengthy period after undergoing brain surgery," Dr Karg said.
"Brain surgery?" the Doctor whispered in disbelief.
Dr Karg nodded grimly. "The Council will authorise the use of corrective micro-laser surgery." He glanced at the Doctor who had sunk onto the sofa. "Corrective, in this case, means that they will neutralise those parts of the brain that give Saskia her strong empathic and telepathic powers."
"That's monstrous," the Doctor protested, a fierce look of anger on his face. He stood up again. "We've got to go and get her. I'll take the TARDIS. I should be able to locate Saskia easily with her aid." He moved towards the door, but Dr Karg intercepted him.
"Doctor, please calm down. I said that this was the harshest possible sentence that Saskia could be given. However, it's been several decades since such a sentence was last carried out."

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