“With respect, this tribunal hearing is a complete sham.” Shiaz Starr began. Starr was a high profile celebrity lawyer, designated by the Senate to the defence of Roc Wieler. Though out of his element in a military hearing (which was probably the intent of the Senate), Starr felt confident that he would win these proceedings, and become more famous doing so.
“Anyone can twist facts to suit their own purpose; we call that politics.” Starr continued in his opening argument, waiting for the appropriate laughter from the gathered crowd. They complied on cue, and Starr pushed forward, already getting a feel for the right techniques to use.
“Seriously though, we’re not here to discuss perspective. We’re here to look at facts objectively, to present the cold, hard evidence in favour of and against my client, Colonel Roc Wieler. Individual opinions shouldn’t hold sway in a proceeding such as this, especially when a man’s career is on the line. My esteemed opponent has already provided you with distorted views of well documented historical events, to suit his purpose, and bravo to him for starting so brazenly.”
Starr stopped and gave an artifically shallow clap towards the prosecutor.
“I could go over that very same footage, and show the entirety of the clip; in fact, why don’t we, just to illustrate my point.”
A camera drone played the same clip as used by the prosecution, the footage of Roc Wieler attacking TLF pilots while flying allied with the notorious pirate gang The Bastards. Only, this time, it started differently.
RoninData: I need to know if those are friendlies, Roc. We’re here to help you, yes, but I can’t risk my guys getting shot at in the process.
Roc Wieler: I’m trying to raise a response, but they’re not returning my hail. Gimme more time, Ronin, or this will all go to hell.
Roc Wieler (encrypted military channel): I repeat, this is Colonel Roc Wieler. Do NOT fire on the pirate gang. They are working under my command. Respond.
This line is repeated three more times without success.
RoninData: They look to be moving into an attack formation, Roc. What’s the word?
Roc Wieler: I’m getting no reply. Don’t fire on them!
RoninData: If they fire on us, we’ll be returning fire, Colonel, regardless of our arrangement.
The video then looked familiar, Roc Wieler’s ship angling towards the Minmatar militia, on an intercept course.
Roc Wieler: I’m going to try strafing them with blanks to get their attention. Maybe then they’ll return my hail.
Roc Wieler’s ship opened fire on the nearest vessel. The Minmatar fleet returned fire.
RoninData: Shit! All Bastards, open fire on the TLF! Sorry Roc, it’s every man for himself now!
A series of cursing and grumbling can be heard from Roc Wieler’s comm unit. His ship then plots an egress trajectory and warps away.
Roc Wieler: I’m not firing on my own people, Ronin. Get the Bastards out of there. Let’s regroup and try this again elsewhere.
The camera drone stopped there, leaving the assembled crowd stunned. Shiaz Starr didn’t miss a moment’s opportunity.
“As you can see, much of what we perceive as truth is in reality our own perceptions forced upon a given situation. And while I can understand the desperate attempt by my opponent to establish poor character of my client, I believe this tribunal is more interested in the murder of Spear Lieutenant Daul Halwick, and the involvement, if any, of Colonel Roc Wieler.
I could cling to that same pathetic tactic, showing countless examples of my client’s honourable character, but his exemplary war record speaks volumes.
Instead, if it pleases this tribunal, I’d prefer to focus on the relevant facts, and not waste anymore time on unsubstantiated heresay. Thank you.”
Shiaz Starr took his seat, his expression neutral, but inside he was quite contented with his performance. This arena might be different than what he was accustomed to, but the game was the same.
Casting a sidelong glance towards the prosecution table, he could see his opponent wasn’t as adept at hiding his emotions. A scowl masked the prosecutor’s face, which only reinforced to Starr that the man knew he had been bested.
The following hours were a back and forth between prosecution and defence, with arguments and counter arguments ensuing every step of the way.
The temperment of the crowd shifted easily, at times condeming the Colonel, while at others times crying for his innocence. Eventually, the head of the Triumvirate overseeing the hearing cited contempt of court, and had the media and the public removed for the duration of the hearing.
This, of course, only led to more media coverage, and more speculation as to the truth regarding Colonel Roc Wieler.
“It’s looking bad, Maleatu.” Senator Keitan Yun said. “This isn’t playing out well in the media at all.”
Sanmatar Maleatu Shakor stood with his back to his desk, his impressive physique framed by the light cascading in from his magnificent office window.
“I advised that allowing the public access to a military hearing would only backfire; and it has.” Yun continued. “Not only is this Starr gaining public confidence, but his refuting of every argument is devastating to the prosecution’s case.”
The Sanmatar took a deep breath.
Senator Yun continued, emboldened. “I’ve spoken with our colleagues and we are of one accord. You need to intervene in this, Sanmatar. Show the people that none are exempt of their crimes, even heroes of the war. You could end this before it gets even more out of hand.”
“Out of hand?” The Sanmatar snapped, turning his full attention towards the seated Senator. “Is that what you call this?” Shakor said, nearly laughing.
Senator Yun was perplexed, squirming in his suddenly uncomfortable chair.
“Who do you think recommended Starr in the first place?” The Sanmatar asked rhetorically. “He’s the perfect man for this task, and has performed admirably.”
Senator Yun didn’t understand. For all his intelligence and scheming, he had failed to see the bigger picture. Maleatu Shakor saw this on the Senator’s face, and shook his head in disappointment.
“Sometimes I am amazed we’ve lasted this long, Keitan. For all the backroom politics that go on within the Republic, it’s a wonder we’ve achieved any forward motion at all.” Shakor said.
Yun blinked dumbly, not knowing whether he was being accused of plots against the Sanmatar, or whether he should know what the Sanmatar was referring to, instead of sitting there dumbly, like a child being chastised by a parent.
Shakor continued. “Look around us, Keitan. What do you see?” Maleatu paused.
“I’ll tell you what I see.” Shakor continued, just as Yun was opening his mouth to answer. The Senator was thankful for being interrupted, as he was totally unprepared to debate the Sanmatar on a topic he wasn’t even sure of yet.
“The Amarr and the Khanid have united, Amarr religious zealots have brainwashed our people into their way of life, and we have to allow them their freedoms or ourselves look to be overlords. Caldari State has crushed the Gallente Federation, the Heretics pirate organization hampers our every military move out of Dal, the Bastards roam freely in Evati, the Hellcats have expanded their operations unchecked into Kourmonen, I could go on.”
Slow comprehension was finally revealing itself on the face of Senator Keitan Yun.
“Yes, Keitan, you get it. I can see that now, and no, I know you’re not part of the planned coup against me.” Maleatu smiled. “Don’t worry, I am aware of that too, but one matter at a time, if we may.”
The Senator nodded overemphatically, still feeling three steps behind the Sanmatar.
“We need to distract our people from our real problems, Keitan. We need to show them what we want them to see. If they knew how bad things truly were, there would be widespread panic and chaos beyond our ability to manage.” Maleatu said.
“Look at the holos! Everyone is talking about this trial! The newsfeeds, the talkshows; you can’t escape it! It’s exactly what I was hoping for.” The Sanmatar slammed his fist on his desk to reinforce his point, causing the Senator to jump in his seat.
“But…but, what are you saying?” Keitan Yun stammered. “Are you saying this is all a setup? That the Colonel is truly innocent of his accusations?”
“Yes Keitan! That is what I am saying! Are you willfully stupid? The Colonel is one of the most loyal Matari this generation has seen! His efforts in this war, and affection from the public have been instrumental in many of our victories.” Shakor said with pride.
“Then … why? Would you honestly sacrifice a hero’s career to further your own political agenda?” Keitan asked.
The Sanmatar sighed heavily.
“You can’t really be this short-sighted, Keitan. The Colonel will be found innocent. There are recordings of the actual murder. He was in his own quarters several systems away at the time! This is all smoke and mirrors. Look at my right hand so you can’t see what my left hand is doing!”
Slow comprehension dawned on the Senator.
“He’s going to be furious. He may even resign. Are you really willing to risk that if he’s as valuable as you say?” Keitan asked.
“He won’t resign, not this one. And he needed this, in all honesty. He’s a cocky, arrogant, sunuvabitch that has been too hard to manage. He’s still caught up in being a Capsuleer, though he doesn’t consciously realize it. He needed to be taught his place. He needed to be knocked down a peg.
He’s going to feel relieved. He’s going to be thankful to still be of service to the Republic. He’s going to be able to follow orders without attitude.
He’s going to be everything I have always hoped he would be.”