Metahumans or Menace?!
“Statikeel S’orion, of Axenokeanos. This trial has been arranged to settle a matter of thievery between you and the Tyxus Oribtal Platform Customs Bureau. Have you prepared a defense?”
“Very good, your time starts now,” The judge, a Petryte woman, said. It almost sounded rehearsed to Statikeel. Years of accusing people probably does that to your attitude, but Statikeel felt it was for a more personal reason. The whole situation had Statikeel angry, but she kept her pigmentation light to prevent betraying her mood.
The small Axolt stood from her chair, her shoulders barely rising over the table, and scanned the oddly cramped courtroom. Such a sterile environment. Reflective white tiles on the floor that mirrored the emblem of the GU emblazoned on the ceiling. The walls were all blank save for some banners for the council races. The tables and chairs were all lifeless chrome. This place was so different from home, where even the most advanced facilities were mostly windowed and the plants and animals would invade regularly. The only life here was the surprising amount of sit-ins this court had today. Statikeel would have assumed that an Axolt on trial would be too common to attract so many people.
Off to her right, Statikeel saw her flight suit. It was hanging next to a table with two security officers sitting behind it. On the table was most of her gear, interestingly enough customs had cleared all of that. There was something missing from her pile of possessions though. She had a feeling they wouldn’t leave them lying around…
The judge’s stand obviously had the most thought put into it. Every corner, every curve, meant to intimidate all who stood before it. The judge and the panel sat so far above everyone else it made them adopt a naturally dismissive posture. Statikeel wasn’t afraid of them though, and she stared right into the judges multi-lensed eyes and cleared her throat.
“You can’t steal something that belongs to you.”
The judge exchanged looks with the panel. The various species sat at their towering stands, swapping various gestures of approval or disapproval. Statikeel assumed more of the latter. After a few moments they turned their attention back to the small creature.
“Your weapons were confiscated. They were deemed “unsafe” for use on this station,” The judge explained, her finger tracing over what was likely a report in front of her.
Statikeel distorted her face into one of confusion.
“Weapons?” Statikeel asked, trying to sell her act. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the best liar.
“Customs says you tried to pass off THESE as work related apparel.”
The judge bent down, reaching for something out of sight. She came back into the court’s view with two alloy-plated glove-like devices. Statikeel looked at them, happy that they were actually in the courtroom.
“They’re work gloves.”
The judge turned the gloves over, inspecting them. They consisted of numerous alloy plates that covered the palm and back of the hand. On the back portion was a rounded dial that bumped up over the padded layer. It seemed to be some kind of dial with four symbols, old Axolted the judge wagered, etched around the perimeter. The palm had a strange hollowed out bowl with a projector of some kind located under a luminescent layer of glass. The fingers were skeletal in nature with wires and metal visible around the bending portions. Each finger-tip had an enclosed case with a device similar to the palm on the bottom. Along the outside of the palm were the letters AEC that had been scratched at, but not enough to obscure them completely.
“These are a little complex to be work gloves, don’t you think Miss S’orion?”
“Advanced work gloves.”
The judge put down the gloves and picked up the file that had been packaged with them. She quickly skimmed it and then turned her gaze back to Statikeel.
“Hmm… The electric discharge from these is enough to severely injure or impair someone. Lab analysis states that they were designed with this intent. Meaning they ARE a weapon,” The judge said.
Before Statikeel could argue, the judge turned to the panel and they began to deliberate amongst themselves. Their chairs were positioned in a way that when they rotated toward the judge they would be sitting in a half-circle. She sat down in her chair next to the security officer that had escorted her in. Utterly annoyed, she shifted her skin color to a purple hue hoping to convey her irritation, though she figured that the nuances of Axolt color changing was lost on most other races. She placed her feet up on the table and leaned back against the wall behind her. Just above was the first row of on-lookers who had nothing better to do today. She wished the place wasn’t so full; it could complicate things.
She raised her bound hands up over her head and slipped them behind her tendrils. They had been tied into an uncomfortable net by security, but that did little to dissuade Statikeel. She rested her head against her hands and sighed. She watched impatiently as the judge and the Panel determined her fate.
The Panel turned their chairs back toward the courtroom. Statikeel didn’t move; she was tired of being here. Off-world trials were always a waste of time. Visitors couldn’t be persecuted without contact with their home world. Axolted do sometimes have to worry about what crimes they’ve committed due to their troubling reputation, but stealing wasn’t one of them. Not that she’d stolen anything anyways.
The whole room had gone silent as the judge stood up to deliver a verdict.
“Statikeel S’orion. This council has determined that you shall be contained for 5 orbital cycles for your crimes.”
“You can’t do that!” Statikeel blurted out as she thrusted herself forward. She swung her hands over her head and slammed them on the table. The racket echoed throughout the quiet room. “Not without contacting Axenok first.”
“Your crimes don’t warrant review from Axenokeanos’” The judge scoffed, quite obviously sick of the lizard.
“I know my rights,” Statikeel said, now standing up. Her skin glowed red. “Stealing isn’t sanctioned by the Private Intelligence Act. I get to contact my homeworld before you can lock me up.”
The judge sat down. She pulled her hands up and connected her fingertips in a condescending fashion.
“If you’d prefer to have theft removed from the record, we can take a look at some of the other crimes listed on this report,” She said softly and tapped the paper on her desk. Her alien smile unsettled Statikeel.
The room went dark at the judge’s beckoning and a holo-screen appeared in the center of the room. Statikeel slid back into her chair. She was suddenly less confident about this trial going smoothly.
“This footage was taken from the Bureau 3 days ago,” The judge said as the TOPCB logo appeared on the screen. Moments later, an image of a door was displayed. The video feed started up and showed a security officer walk past the door. Shortly after the guard walked away, an Axolt wearing the same flight suit that was hanging on the right side of the courtroom walked into frame. Statikeel watched her past-self try to open the door, but it was locked. Past Statikeel pulled a cutting torch from her belt and burned the handle off the door. She then forced it open and slipped inside.
“Breaking and Entering,” The judge said. Statikeel’s eyes left the screen to glare at her for a moment.
Statikeel turned back to the screen and the perspective changed to inside the room she had just entered in the footage. There was a security officer sitting at a terminal facing away from the door. He was completely focused on the screens in front of him, with only some kind of snack in his off-hand drawing his focus every couple of seconds. He didn’t seem to notice the glow of Statikeel’s cutting tool as it burned through the door. Directly ahead of the camera was the contraband lock-up. Her “work-gloves” could barely be made out behind the mesh screen.
The door opened and Statikeel stepped inside. She quickly scanned the room and began to approach the officer. The officer said something, but the feed had no audio. He turned around as Statikeel was almost on him and panicked when he saw her. He slid back and fumbled for a gun that was resting on the terminal. Upon discovery Statikeel leapt onto the guard and began entangling him in her tendrils. The officer struggled to get away but he just ended up knocking the gun into the air. Statikeel caught it with one of her unoccupied tendrils. She also caught the officer’s food and placed it on the terminal. The scuffle ended when Statikeel bashed the gun on the officer’s head, knocking him out.
“Assaulting a security officer.”
Statikeel didn’t divert her attention from the screen. She was starting to get worried. She didn’t plan on squirming though. Instead she leaned back again and turned her skin a cool blue color. She propped her feet back up on the table and slid her hands behind her head. She watched on, with only the soft metallic click from her cuffs to comfort her.
Past Statikeel moved the officer out of his chair and sat in it herself. She started typing at the terminal for a few minutes. One of her tendrils grabbed the officer’s food and she began to chew at it while she worked. Statikeel recalled it being disgusting, but she had been so angry about them taking her gauntlets that she hadn’t eaten all day. The look on her face in the footage confirmed that.
“Hacking a Government Database.”
Hacking was a strong word. The officer was still logged in; it gave her access to the whole system. She watched herself delete the records of the gauntlets on the database so they wouldn’t know they were missing. She also deleted some security footage, but she must have missed the redundant back-up files. Unfortunately the door control itself was controlled by a clock, and it wasn’t going to open until the following morning. She improvised with some plastic explosives which knocked the sealed door open, leaving it barely attached to the wall.
“Destruction of Property”
With the door off its hinges, past Statikeel scrambled into the lock-up. Off screen for only a minute, she returned with the gauntlets on her hands. She tried to move the askew door back into place, but it seemed to be too heavy for her. Turning the dial on the gauntlets she tried again. This time she seemed to effortlessly move the door and place it back where it belonged. Next she moved toward the unconscious guard and picked him up. She set him back into his chair and spun him toward the monitors. She positioned him so he appeared to be asleep and placed his gun back on the terminal. Finally she ate the last bite of his food and retched a little. She shook her head and tossed the wrapper back toward the terminal, but it fell onto the floor in front of it.
It took every fiber of her self-control for Statikeel to not leap up to the judge’s stand and kick the Petryte’s teeth in for that last one. The judge waved her hands and the holo-screen faded away. The lights came back up and Statikeel blinked at the rapid illumination reflecting across all of the polished surfaces.
“In light of these altercations, we will have to extend your incarceration to 30 orbital cycles,” The judge said without even consulting the panel. “I believe you would agree that most of these additional charges are, in fact, covered in the Private Intelligence Act?”
“This is absurd! None of that would have happened if Customs hadn’t stolen my things!” Statikeel blurted out. She shifted herself forward again, but not as rapidly as before.
“We can revert to the original sentencing if you will admit to stealing government property,” The judge said as she leaned back in her chair.
“Absolutely not!” Statikeel fired back. The judge slumped for a second before sliding forward in her seat with her elbows now firmly on her stand.
“This court is trying to show leniency by only trying you for theft,” The judge sighed impatiently. “If you continue to deny that you have stolen anything, we’ll have to sentence you based on your other crimes.”
“Don’t think I don’t know what’s going on here,” Statikeel hissed. “This platform is notorious for its treatment of my people. There isn’t an Axolt out here who doesn’t know it. If you were planning on using me as some poster child, ‘the Axolt you went easy on,’ you’re going to be disappointed. I think you know that you unlawfully confiscated my things and now you’re trying to ‘bribe’ me with, what? LESS prison time?!”
“Miss S’orion, this court has—”
“I’m done here. If I hear one more word from you I think I’m going to be sick.”
Before the judge could say another word, Statikeel shuddered forward with her hands clutching her stomach. The entire courtroom watched her retch loudly with hushed mixtures of sympathy, pity, and disgust. She lurched forward and vomited on the table.
An oddly metallic sound emanated from the impact. The judge, the panel, and the onlookers leaned forward to see what was going on below. Statikeel was slumped over, motionless, on the table. She perked up suddenly and took a small step back, kicking her chair behind her. With a grin on her face she slipped her hands out of her unlocked cuffs and clutched the small metallic object that had appeared on the table. Without skipping a beat, Statikeel tossed the object into the air.
“Grena—!” Was all the judge got out before all sound in the room was replaced with an ear-shattering pop, accompanied by a blinding flash. Statikeel spun around, grabbed her chair by the back, and swung it at the disoriented officer next to her. The impact shattered the chair and the officer was downed. Next she leapt over the table and zipped toward her flight suit. She slid inside at an amazing speed and picked up her gear, placing each object onto her belt. Once the table was clear of her possessions, she flipped it up and kicked it into the two guards who were still stumbling behind it. The officers were pinned underneath, unable to regain their bearings.
The whole courtroom was in chaos now. The sit-ins were in a panic trying to escape the room, stumbling over each other while disoriented and security was trying to regroup as they recovered from the flash-bang. Wasting no time, Statikeel darted to the judge’s stand and climbed up to where she sat. Her gauntlets lay there along with the judge’s files. She put on the gauntlets, happy to be, once again, reunited with them. With them on her hands, she reached back to the ties binding her tendrils and crushed them.
The remaining active security officers gathered below the judge’s stand with batons in hand. One pulled a radio from his belt and raised it to his mouth. Statikeel turned the dial on her gauntlets and pointed her open hand at the officer. He pressed the call button, but before he could speak, the radio was wrenched from his hand by some unseen force. It sailed through the air until it stopped just in front of Statikeel’s gauntlet. She grabbed it out of the air and smashed it.
Statikeel smirked, turning the dial on her gauntlets once again. She jumped from the judge’s stand and glided toward the surprised officers. Spreading her arms wide she collided with the guards and knocked a few down. Those still standing attempted to surround her, but she started throwing punches. Each one that connected sent an electric current through the target that rendered them temporarily helpless. Followed by a switch of the dial and a swift blow, the officers fell easily. One by one the security officers were incapacitated until none were left standing.
The judge’s sight was slowly returning. The flash had really hit her hard. She’d probably have to visit the med bay for her lost hearing. The room came back into focus and she was alarmed to see the guards all unconscious with the Axolt fugitive standing over them. Behind the judge, it seemed the panel had deserted the chamber already. The small creature below turned her attention toward the judge and leapt from the floor to the top of the desk. She bent down and picked up the files that were laying there. She peered at the papers for a moment before shooting a glance at the judge. She said something, but the judge’s hearing was too far gone to properly hear it. It looked like she had said “reading material” and chuckled a little.
Statikeel glared at the judge. This whole thing had been a mess, but it was almost over. She narrowed her eyes and feinted a lunge directly toward the judge. In a panic, the Petryte kicked off her desk and her chair sailed backwards surprisingly quickly until it reached the top of the stairs that allowed the panel to reach their positions located in the back. The judge’s heart skipped a beat and she closed her eyes to brace herself when she felt her chair tip backwards over the stairs, but the fall never came. Forcing one eye open she looked at the Axolt standing before her. Her hand was outstretched toward the judge and her gauntlets glowed an odd color. The judge felt her chair slowly slide back toward her desk.
Statikeel wasn’t exactly sure why she stopped the judge’s fall. She guessed it must have been some form of respect. The judge was tougher than most Petrytes. The last one that she flash-banged had been hospitalized for a week. Either way she couldn’t really afford to make things worse at this point. Especially considering that things still had room to go horribly wrong.
The judge slid back to her original position and Statikeel turned around. She didn’t say anything; the judge wouldn’t be able to hear it anyways, and she stepped off the desk. She hit the ground and sprinted up into the stands, heading for the door at the back. Going out into the hall wasn’t the smartest option, but there was no other way out of the courtroom. She stopped at the door and slowly cracked it open. Her skin pigmentation changed and she peaked her head out the door. No one could see her head as she scanned the hallway. It was empty, but she doubted for long. She wasted no time and slipped out of the courtroom and latched onto the wall and crawled up onto the ceiling.
The hall had much more personality than the courtroom with a few ornamental images hanging on the walls. They were mixed in with the more stereotypical courtroom propaganda. Rules and regulations were presented optimistically hoping to lull lesser people into confiding in the law. It still had the lifeless white walls and reflective floors, but at least there was a decorative rug that covered the floor from end to end stopping just short of the doors. The hall was quiet, for now.
Statikeel scurried across the ceiling toward the end of the hall that she had been led in through. Her limbs and head changed colors to match the various symbols and wording of the seals that covered the ceiling every so often. Once she reached the end of the hall she climbed down the wall until she was perched just above the door. She waited for the door to open, but the one on the opposite wall opened first. Several security officers walked into the hallway and ran to the courtroom doors. Even though Statikeel was camouflaged, she knew they would eventually spot her flight suit. She sat motionless and the door below her finally opened. Three guards ran in to join the others. Once they had all passed, Statikeel zipped under the door frame and into the next room.
Once clear of the door, Statikeel drank in only enough of her surroundings to locate a ventilation shaft. She spotted one just to the side of the door she came in through and bolted to it. She turned the dial on her gauntlets and tore the grating free of the wall and jumped inside. She was confident that she’d be able to navigate these shafts with ease. This wasn’t her first time in a vent, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Luckily, Petrytes had such strict control of the platform’s temperature that there would be little risk of the fans activating as long as everything was within regulation. She wasted no time leaving the court block and headed toward the commercial sections bordering the residential sector and the hangers. She needed to have a word with her “employer.”
Reglos wiped the oil from his hands with the rag he always kept over his shoulder. It was two hours past closing and he was just finishing up his work. These late nights at the garage were starting to take a toll on him, but this was the price of owning one’s own repair shop, he supposed. His help was long gone, leaving him to wrap up the late arrivals and close up alone. He placed his tools back in the tool box after quickly wiping them down with his rag, and washed his hands. On his way out of the shop he flipped off the lights and got ready to lower the steel cage between the service desk and the back.
Before he could grab onto the grating the service bell pinged. It echoed strongly through the now quiet garage.
“We’re closed,” Shouted Reglos without turning around “Service times are posted on the back wall. Come back tomorrow.”
There was a beat of silence, and the bell pinged again. Reglos stopped what he was doing and approached the counter. He looked out into the cramped waiting area and saw only the meager furniture he had scrounged to populate the room. The bell pinged again. He quickly turned his attention to the bell and saw something slide over the front of the counter and down toward the floor. It only took him moment to figure it out and he leaned his tall body over until he could see the ground directly in front of the counter. Standing there was an Axolt in a flight suit.
“Static!” Shouted Reglos with unexpected excitement. Giving him a friendly nod, Statikeel jumped up onto the desk so they could converse more easily. Reglos’ delight passed quickly though and he crossed his arms and gave her a stern look. “You’re 2 days late for work.”
“Yeah… Look Reg, I’m sorry about that,” Statikeel said nervously pulling her hand up to her head and rubbing it a bit. “I had some trouble with Customs. And… things got out of hand, I got arrested, had to go on trial for a crime I didn’t commit-“
“Static, when you asked me for this job, you said it was so you could go straight. You couldn’t even go two days without some kind of trouble?”
Reglos was right. Statikeel had come here to try to leave her past behind her. She knew it would be hard, but not this hard. They took her one and only real possession and to get it back she didn’t even hesitate to break the law. She didn’t have the best judgement, always acting first and thinking about it later. But she was damn good at what she did. This whole mess started because of her attempts to live a normal life. It just wasn’t for her.
“I’m sorry,” The Axolt spoke somberly.
“It’s alright. At least you’re here now and you can start working tomorrow,” Reglos said and turned back toward the shop to close the grating. “Assuming your legal trouble has been dealt with.”
Good ol’ Reg. He had always been willing to help her in troubling times. He was lucky he got out of the questionable life when he did, so miscreants like Statikeel couldn’t drag him down anymore. Yet here she was regardless. The Koncuran always had been one of her best friends. Or at least one of her only associates that she was willing to call a friend.
“Actually Reg, I’m not here to report for work…” Statikeel said. Reglos froze and turned around to face her. He only closed the grate about half way. “I came here to ask for your help one last time.” She didn’t believe it, but she hoped it was true.
Reglos looked off to the side. He wanted to help her, he couldn’t deny that, but a new thought crossed his mind. If he didn’t help, maybe she would stop asking for it. This whole mess could ruin everything he had worked for. One thing was for certain: He needed to get away from her.
“Please, Reg. I need to get off this station.” Statikeel said after Reglos’s pause began to worry her. “You’re the only one who can help me.”
“…Listen, Static,” Reglos finally said. “I can’t. I really want to, but I can’t.” Statikeel’s heart sank. Reglos could see it in her face. He reached over to the series of hooks hanging on the wall and pulled off one of the keys looped around them. “I’d love to tell you that this key operates a sporty little cruiser out in the shop that belongs to an insufferable Tethoran that’s skipped out on his bill more times than I can count. I’d love to tell you that the hanger doors can’t be locked due to some electrical problem I haven’t fixed yet. And I’d certainly love to inform you of the blind spot in the security feeds just below the third level windows. But I can’t.”
Statikeel wasn’t sure what to say. She watched Reglos turn back to the wall and hang the key on the lowest hook. He’d done it again.
“Thanks Reg,” She said.
“For what?” Reglos replied while lowering the grate almost all the way to the ground. “I haven’t done anything.” He turned back to Statikeel and walked to the other side of the desk. “Good bye Static, and good luck.” He turned out the lights and walked out of the garage, locking the door behind him.
“Goodbye Reg,” Statikeel said to herself.
She stood there in the dark for a minute. She was so close to escaping. All she had to do was steal that ship. What was one more crime on her ever growing list? She grabbed the key off the wall and ducked underneath the grating. She slowly lowered it the rest of the way to the ground and turned to look into the dark garage. She pressed a button on the keys and a light began to blink further into the darkness. It was very quiet in here and Statikeel took in the calm while she could. It wasn’t long before she reached the ship Reglos had described.
The Tethoran who owned the cruiser had good taste. It was a sleek little red thing with shaded windows and some obvious engine modifications. It had a small cab fit only for the driver and a rather long body that curved back to accommodate the sleek design. Statikeel couldn’t help but open the hood and admire the mechanical wonders inside. Almost every part was custom made. It must have taken a lot of time and money to assemble this thing.
Suddenly, an alien thought started to burn in the back of Statikeel’s head. This ship was obviously very important to its owner. Much like her gauntlets were to her. Could she really take it after all she had just been through. She looked at her gauntlets and then to the cruiser. Staring for a minute, she started to notice something about the ship. All of the pieces had been installed very well, but she could see now a number of flaws. The kinds of flaws made by a professional hand with no attachment to their work. Her gauntlets had been made as a labor of love, but this ship had been made with money.
At that moment, the reluctance to steal the ship passed. She clicked the keys and hopped into the opening door. She bounced on the premium seat inside and adjusted it to her height. She hit a number of buttons on the dashboard and the hood slid shut. The engines burned and she pulled back on the controls, causing the ship to lift off the ground. The interior doors detected a lift-off and began to open.
Once the garage doors had fully raised, Statikeel activated the thrusters and the ship burst from the shop. She quickly dipped the controls so the tiny cruiser would fall just below the third level windows. The station was designed with alleyways that stretched from the lower levels to the upper floors that snaked around the various businesses and parking complexes that littered every level. To get to more distant sections of the station, ships would have to merge into massive tunnels that allowed for faster, less precise flying.
The station’s aero-traffic was pretty light and only a couple of ships zipped by as Statikeel joined them. The little cruiser handled beautifully. She flew through the brightly lit tube that guided all of the traffic around the station. The various bright lights of traffic signals, ads, and navigation signs whisked by while Statikeel looked for the nearest exit. A large green neon sign pointed her into a smaller tube that would lead out into open space.
Without looking back, Statikeel activated the ship’s autopilot and kicked her seat back. She pulled out the files she had swiped from the judge and began to thumb through them. A normal life wasn’t for her, she thought. She was glad she had given it a try, but her future was certainly destined to look like her past. And that was just fine with her…