***Originally Written for 2013 Pod and Planet Fiction Contest
With sharp ear one could discern the student whispers wafting through Arkadia Rural School District 14’s hallways:
“I hear multiple family members are staying at the estate.”
“You lie. Capsuleer families never vacation together. Arguments ensue.”
“She speaks true. My Uncle Joe is estate head carpenter and just yesterday he saw two sisters conversing in the arboretum.”
“DireNecessity and WhoopsyDaisy.”
“Watch your language!!! They’ll hear you.”
“Bah! That vacation’s gonna explode long before they get around to disciplining me.”
Explode first it did. Not two days later the students were called to the estate. WhoopsyDaisy was to be tried for ‘Crimes against the Capsuleer Community’. Middle schooler Jackson was appointed student prosecutor. Precocious young Jessica was appointed student defender. DireNecessity appointed herself judge. WhoopsyDaisy surrendered to the student authorities.
Lounging at her judicial dais, DireNecessity soaked up late morning sun. To her right WhoopsyDaisy sat serenely in the defendant cage conferring with her attorney through the bars. To her front sat the student gallery bubbly with anticipation. To her left sat the prosecutor taciturnly researching on his tablet. DireNecessity had simply commissioned a court. Reasoning a Capsuleer would appreciate a little authentic sunlight on vacation, Uncle Joe had the foresight to build it outdoors. Clever fellow Uncle Joe.
“Shall we begin?” asked DireNecessity nodding to the attorneys.
“First a request, if I may be so bold,” interjected defense attorney Jessica. “My client calls for trial by jury. It’s a legitimate request and should be honored.”
“Your Capsuleer client is entitled to a jury of her peers,” replied prosecuting attorney Jackson. “With the exception of our judge, she has no peers here.”
“I believe our prosecutor is correct Jessica,” commented DireNecessity. “I’m all WhoopsyDaisy’s got.”
Shrugging her shoulders noncommittally, Jessica waived Jackson forward.
“According to zKill,” announced Jackson, expanding his tablet’s hologram display for all to see, “the defendant has destroyed some 80 ships and podded some 83 fellow Capsuleers. Are these numbers accurate?”
“Yes,” replied WhoopsyDaisy.
“Did your victims deserve their deaths?” asked Jackson.
“Probably not,” said WhoopsyDaisy.
“So what motivated you?” pursued Jackson.
“Malevolence,” responded WhoopsyDaisy.
“My work here is done,” proclaimed Jackson, “She killed each and every one of them. They didn’t deserve it. She did it because she’s mean spirited. If that’s not ‘Crimes against the Capsuleer Community’, nothing is.”
DireNecessity smiled smugly as the gallery erupted in applause. Blood would spill today. Jessica, however, had other ideas.
“When you destroyed those ships and killed those Capsuleers were your actions unlawful?” asked Jessica.
“Most definitely,” answered WhoopsyDaisy.
“zKill shows you’ve lost only four ships,” continued Jessica pointing to Jaskson’s hologram, “is that accurate too?”
“Not entirely,” replied WhoopsyDaisy.
“159 losses. ZKill tracks only Capsuleer on Capsuleer violence. When CONCORD alone destroys your boat zKill doesn’t publish it.”
“So in each of your murders CONCORD judged you guilty and destroyed your ship as punishment?”
“Every single time. They lowered my security status too. Now the Faction Police shoot me on sight. CONCORD is meticulous.”
“Gallery, prosecutor, judge,” announced Jessica, “My client has already been tried, found guilty and punished for these murders by none other than the Consolidated Cooperation and Relations Command. This trial puts my client in double jeopardy. Accordingly, it is illegitimate and my client must be released.”
The gallery gasped, prosecutor Jackson paled, DireNecessity scowled. A little sun? A little blood? Was that so much to ask?
“You’re a shrewd one, Jessica,” stated DireNecessity, “but your argument presumes CONCORD holds jurisdiction in this court. It does not. This court cares not for CONCORD’s actions. This court administers its own justice. This court finds your client, WhoopsyDaisy, guilty and punishment will now proceed. Student authorities, bring forth the accused. Uncle Joe, reveal the guillotine.”
Uncle Joe clever? No the man was genius. Earlier that morning, when first introduced to the guillotine, DireNecessity giggled with delight. “Possibly my best vacation yet,” she announced.
As the gallery stood up for a better view, WhoopsyDaisy dutifully placed her head in the guillotine. Middle school prosecutor Jackson, pursing his lips in disdain, whispered, “Capsuleers lack joie de vivre.” Precocious young defender Jessica stood with her client as tradition dictated while DireNecessity pulled the cord releasing the blade. With sun glint flash, WhoopsyDaisy’s head, cleanly severed, plopped to the ground before the crowd but her body contorted violently spraying blood over both guillotine and Jessica. Blood spattered, clutching WhoopsyDaisy’s lifeless hand, Jessica wailed despondently.
“It’s time we spoke with her,” reported DireNecessity over the com. “She remains inconsolable.”
“I’ll pop in late this afternoon. Call her to the estate,” responded WhoopsyDaisy.
Summoned, Jessica trudged into WhoopsyDaisy’s quarters. Accommodating her eyes to the evening sun streaming through the West window, Jessica saw WhoopsyDaisy patting the loveseat cushion beside her.
“Sit with me Jessica,” said WhoopsDaisy, “DireNecessity tells me you’ve been moping around for weeks.”
Jessica mustered no response but tears welled up in her eyes.
“You’re aware the beheading was elaborate clone personality jump, yes?” continued WhoopsyDaisy.
“Sans Capsuleer pod,” added Jessica.
“Dramatic conceit. T’was not guillotine only.”
“So it seems. Why am I summoned?”
“I have a gift for you.”
Pulling a small sharp barbed hook mounted atop mahogany handle from her breast pocket, WhoopsyDaisy grabbed Jessica’s leg, deftly pierced the flesh behind Jessica’s knee and set the hook around Jessica’s lateral hamstring tendon. “I know envy when I see it girl,” WhoopsDaisy hissed into Jessica’s ear, “don’t be sullen as well.”
Stumbling out of the room, untouched mahogany handle tapping her calf, Jessica had the day’s first epiphany. WhoopsyDaisy understood. Overflowing with compassion, teachers and parents insisted it wasn’t her fault but WhoopsyDaisy had burrowed straight to the true origin of her upset – envy. Approaching the front door, Jessica found DireNecessity waiting for her in the entry foyer.
“You’re bleeding on my hand tied silk rug,” commented DireNecessity.
“She stabbed me,” moaned Jessica.
“Be precise,” replied DireNecessity, “Precision matters.”
Abandoning decorum, Jessica tore the mahogany handled hook free from behind her knee raggedly severing the tendon and pointed it accusingly at DireNecessity. “Fine! Your sister WhoopsyDaisy set this hook into my flesh and look at me now! A cripple bleeding on your precious hand tied silk rug!”
“I said be precise,” replied DireNecessity ignoring the impudent breach of etiquette. “WhoopsyDaisy merely hooked you. You severed the tendon. You cripple yourself.”
“What are you going to do about it DireNecessity?” Jessica retorted, “Break my arm?”
“No grumpy girl, I’m going to send you to the infirmary,” answered DireNecessity.
The cogs clicked in Jessica’s head as she reached the day’s second epiphany. Two unforgivable breeches of etiquette and DireNecessity hadn’t delivered retribution. (Standards, if they wanted to live long peaceful lives didn’t utter Capsuleer’s true names.) To be precise, DireNecessity offered assistance.
“I’m not Standard,” mumbled Jessica, dazed.
“So we suspect young Capsuleer Initiate,” replied DireNecessity. “Now off to the infirmary with you. Your initial appointment’s already arranged.”
Absent mindedly grasping the hook, Jessica limped off, blood dripping with each labored step.
“That girl is an enigma,” remarked DireNecessity under her breath.
“She’s an open book,” commented WhoopsyDaisy who’d sidled up beside her older sister.
“You’re a literary critic?” mocked DireNecessity. ”I glimpsed the ecstasy in her eyes when she jabbed your hook at me.”
“You read selectively. The bliss on her face when she tore the hook free was equally alluring. You’re familiar with the euphemism la petite mort?”
“Oh, you’re a Gallente literary critic.”
“No. Just a Capsuleer flirt. For us all deaths are small. You might give it a try.”
Jessica would keep the limp. Claiming the post graduation Capsuleer name ‘DipsyDoodle,’ she’d re-sever the tendon herself before each clone vat exit. Years would pass before DipsyDoodle, on vacation, would summon her childhood compatriot Jackson to the family estate and correct his misapprehension. “You say we Capsuleers lack joie de vivre but what happens when you remove death – and thus life – from the equation?” she’d ask rhetorically, ”All that remains is joy.” Jackson would appreciate the clever argument but remain dubious about the conclusion.