The council chamber was wreathed in the sort of darkness which only grudgingly gave ground before the light. Charlene didn’t dislike the darkness, it was convenient to be able to recline back and enjoy the anonymity provided by the obscuring shadows. She did wish however that she could see whether the council had finished assembling so she could make a guess at how long it would be before her fate was decided.
A spotlight from high above illuminated a sharply defined circle in the middle of the half moon table the council sat behind. No witnesses stood within its confines as yet, but Charlene guessed that several might be called before the proceedings were finished.
She didn’t feel concerned for the fact that she was on trial. She had faith in the actions she’d authorized and the people she’d entrusted to carry them out. She was determined however that none of the associates she chose to employ should have to bear witness for her. It was one thing to stand before the Council’s merciless gaze herself, it was quite another to expose her people to their inquiries.
A rap of a hammer on wood from the head chair brought her attention back to the present from memories she’d hoped to never revisit. Memories of the last time she’d stood before the Council for judgment and the price her associates had paid then.
“A complaint has been lodged,” the Chair said. “Will the Accuser pursue their suit.”
“We shall.” A trio of voices spoke from the shadow drenched seat on the far opposite side of the conference table said.
Charlene wrinkled her nose. Of course all three of the founders of PrimaLux had chosen to appear. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen them act independent of one another. In theory that should have been a good thing, each one’s excesses tempered by the others’ caution, but in practice each of the founders held such similar vile opinions that they functioned as little more than three mouths that spoke with one voice. If one sunk to a new low, the other two would not be far behind in joining them.
“And will the Accused put forth a defense against these claims?” the Chair said.
“I need make no defense,” Charlene said, lounging in the shadows. “The charges are groundless and without merit. I will prove that the only ones worthy of censure are the ones who bring these false complaints.”
It was a risky strategy to pursue, but Charlene didn’t feel like tolerating PrimaLux’s aggressions any further. A prosecution and defense could easily end in a compromise finding, one where Charlene admitted no guilt but was required to help PrimaLux restore some of what they had lost as a gesture of good faith and friendship.
Charlene was done with both of those, at least as far as the founders of PrimaLux were concerned.
“Be warned, if you offer no defense and the complaints are found to have merit, you will be subject to the maximum censure this Council can apply,” the Chair said.
Given that the Council possessed the power to apply terminal penalties to those who breached its core principles, Charlene knew she was facing a certain amount of peril but her options were limited if she wanted to resolve her issues with PrimaLux for the foreseeable future.
“Thank you, but my declaration is unchanged,” Charlene said.
“We shall proceed to the declaration of the complaints then,” the Chair said.
A man in an impeccably tailored suit stepped into the pool of light the Council’s table wrapped around.
“State your name and relation to the relevant parties,” the Vice-Chair said.
“Ronald Smythe, esquire, Chief Legal Council for PrimaLux Global Holdings,” the man said. His words and body language spoke of overflowing confidence and control but they didn’t fool anyone on the Council. Ronald Smythe believed himself to be the top of the elite, but that wasn’t why the founders had brought him along as their representative. Ronald had been selected to represent them because he embodied the the best combination between competent and expendable.
“State your complaint,” the Chair said. Other people found the ponderous, humorless tones the Chair spoke in off putting but Charlene didn’t mind them at all. That the chair spoke the same as they always had, across all of the years Charlene had been on the Council, gave a feeling of familiarity to proceedings which should have lacked such comforts.
“Issue one,” Smythe read from a thick pad in her hands, “The party of the first part, hereafter referred to as PrimaLux Global Holdings, assert and attests that…”
He didn’t get to finish before a hammer rapped on wood again.
“Ronald Smythe, esquire,” the Chair said. “You were instructed to state your complaint. We are not interested having a document read to us which we can and have read for ourselves.”
Charlene smiled. PrimaLux had a lot of experience playing with mundane institutions, but it had been so long since anyone had moved against them that they were out of practice with the Council’s protocols.
“Could you clarify your request then?” Smythe asked. “I was led to believe that these were formal proceedings.”
“State the complaint,” the Chair said, consuming the last bit of patience the lawyer could hope to enjoy from them.
“May I confer with my clients?” Smythe asked.
“You may do as you wish,” the Chair said. What was left unsaid was that all actions have consequences. The Council had seen lawyers come to them, they knew the sort of twisting, half truths and misdirections which characterized mundane law. The Council was not an impartial body however and wasn’t concerned with dealing out a form of justice which consisted of rigid adherence to technical detail and slavish devotion to precedence when no two arguments they heard could truly be considered to come from equal circumstances.
Ronald Smythe, esq., unaware of what his actions were conveying to the Council, turned and walked out of the light to the inner side of the conference table where the founders of PrimaLux sat. After a few moments of speaking with them, he returned to the center of the spotlight, paler and fighting to remain in control of his stone faced features.
“Our complaint is that Charlene Potestates has acted with supernatural means to disrupt the legitimate and authorized workings of PrimaLux,” Ronald said, staring straight ahead.
“And what do you seek in exchange for this,” the Chair asked.
“We seek to take freely from her holdings and dominions, both in recompense of what we lost and as a punitive action to ensure no further damage will befall us,” Ronald said, without inflection.
“And what proof do you have to support this claim with?” the Chair asked.
“We can show that supernatural forces were employed in a direct assault on PrimaLux’s possessions and employees,” Ronald said. “Due to these losses, PrimaLux is facing a variety of fines and legal charges. Additionally, the assault endangered the containment of entities which require global armageddon protocols should they be released. Lastly, this assaults violates the covenant this Council is founded upon, that no member shall corrupt the workings of another.”
“How will the Accused answer these complaints?” the Chair asked.
Charlene flipped a folder open on the table in front of her. The illumination which filled the circle Ronald stood without barely lit the pages within the folder but that was sufficient for Charlene’s needed.
“Firstly by pointing out that these complaints are wasting our time,” Charlene said. “Of them all, the only one which is directly relevant to this Council is the claimed breach of our covenant. For completeness sake I will address them all however.”
She heard a small cackle from the founders of PrimaLux. They thought she was playing into their trap.
“They begin with a complaint stating that I used supernatural force to assault PrimaLux,” Charlene said. “This is irrelevant, but also untrue. I have taken no direct part in action against PrimaLux.”
“It was members of your organization who were responsible for the assault,” Ronald said. “We have proof that they were aided by supernatural powers not accessible by human beings. That leaves you as their primary source.”
“The enchantments used against PrimaLux did come from unusual sources,” Charlene said. “But they were not from myself, or anyone pledged to this Council as you can see in the sworn statements I have provided from the entities who did lend their power against PrimaLux.”
“The King and Queen of Unicorns?” the Chair said, flipping through a stack of papers Charlene had provided.
“Among others,” Charlene said.
“Why were we not given a copy of these affidavits?” Ronald asked.
“Because their purpose is to expose your lies,” Charlene said.
“Or support yours,” Ronald said. “They could be false, but we’ve had no time to prove that.”
“They are not false,” the Chair said. “I had just spoken to the ones who provided them. The supernatural powers used against PrimaLux were either of human origin or provided by people allied against PrimaLux’s interests.”
“Moving on then,” Charlene said. “The point about PrimaLux facing fines and legal actions is irrelevant because those are a matter for other courts, and, frankly, are the result of PrimaLux’s misdeeds and incompetence. That the mundane legal proceedings will ruin PrimaLux as a viable platform for pursuing the founders’ vision reflects on nothing more than their own failings and the failings of the path they have chosen to pursue in disregarding the sanctity of those they consider beneath them.”
“Agreed,” the Chair said. “This Council takes no interest in the state PrimaLux as an institution.”
“Their next point was related to endangering the containment of entities which are not meant to be a part of this creation,” Charlene said. “Does anyone else think that’s somewhat backwards? Or to be more specific, I would like to formally enter a complaint that PrimaLux was being used as part of the means to control things which this Council was never consulted about or agreed to allow a member to possess.”
“Your complaint is noted,” the Chair said. “We will address it once the remaining matters in this case are dealt with.”
“Yes, which brings us to the last issue,” Charlene said. “That my actions breached our covenant by corrupting the workings PrimaLux had been set to.”
“You can’t deny that PrimaLux’s purpose and personnel have been corrupted,” Ronald said, his body going rigid and a voice which was not his own spilling from his mouth.
“I don’t deny that at all,” Charlene said. “PrimaLux existed to further your ambition to drive humanity to extinction by creating ever more unbearable conditions for them and gifting the world with every better tools to destroy itself with. I won’t even begin to pretend to be sad that its purpose has been perverted, its personnel suborned, and your machinations broken.”
“There it is! She admits to working against us! She broke the covenant!”
“That is not what she said,” the Chair warned.
“Exactly,” Charlene said. “I am glad to see PrimaLux fail, just as I will be glad to see all such efforts fail. The distinction however is that PrimaLux’s failure was not brought about by my hand, but rather by the hands of humans, exceptional though they may be, who chose to step forward and interfere with what you were doing.”
“Prove it! Summon those humans here!” the things which had been Ronald Smythe demanded.
“I don’t think I will,” Charlene said, smiling to hide the worry that the Council would demand it over her despite her objections.
“Because it’s a lie!”
“No, because that would violate the covenant in truth,” Charlene said, spinning the one tale which might keep her people safe. “If I bring the people who destroyed PrimaLux here, so that they can see this Council, see all of you, and they begin asking questions about the sort of things you all do, how well do you think your enterprises will fare? I wasn’t the one who lead them to PrimaLux, or who informed them of its true nature. They discovered and destroyed something that three of our members had spent centuries working on. What sort of charges will you throw at me, if I give them the means to learn who you are by just looking around this table?”
After the Council meeting had adjourned, only the Chair and Charlene remained behind.
“You have your judgment against PrimaLux and its founders,” the Chair said. “What demands will you make for recompense?”
“I’ll keep them simple,” Charlene said. “There will be no retribution against my agents, or the former agents PrimaLux employed. Beyond that I will ask for no further strictures.”
“You don’t wish to bar them from repeating their designs?” the Chair asked.
“It will take them centuries to recover,” Charlene said.
“You may not be so fortunate as to have such exceptional agents at that time,” the Chair said.
“I don’t believe that will be problem,” Charlene said. “The world is full of exceptional people, they just need the chance to see that in themselves.”