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E - Everyone

Connection - Chapter 46

by Rook


A/N: Okay, I realize that the timeline for this is kind of wonky. I want a couple of days to have passed so that Everen could heal a bit, but I think Kerra found Hirschel just a little bit after their last conversation? Honestly I can't remember, but hopefully I'll fix that in edits. Getting a solid timeline (like, mapping out events down to the day) is something I definitely want to do in revisions so that I can confidently say things like, "two weeks ago." I think time is definitely an important aspect in murder mysteries and it bugs me when timelines in books that I read aren't clear. So that said, let's just pretend the current timeline works! :D also idk how long injuries take to heal so!

The medicine on the ship was incredible. Everen had only been down a few days and she could already speak again. It was painful if she spoke too loudly, but she could whisper and move her head and sit up. She'd be released soon, after she was able to walk and eat solid food. Unfortunately, her bedroom was a crime scene currently being investigated so she'd have nowhere to go. She'd probably just stay in the infirmary under the care of Janna. There were worse places to be in the universe. Everen smiled.

As if she could tell Everen was looking at her, Janna glanced up from her work.

"What are you looking so happy for?" Janna said, smiling in return.

"You," Everen signed. Even though she could whisper now, she appreciated the convenience of sign language and how she knew she wouldn't have to speak up to be heard.

Janna blushed and shook her head, eyes focusing back on her work. But a moment later she asked, "Are you ready for the trial? They should be along at any moment to collect us."

"Yes," Everen signed. Then whispered, "I typed up my statement. Will you read it for me?"

"Aliens?" Janna grimaced. "I worry that might not help our case."

"We've gotta tell them sometime. And I can prove it."

Janna nodded. "Okay, I'll read for you."

"Thanks," Everen signed. She pulled up her holographic laptop with a gesture and sent Janna the file she'd been working on ever since she could sit up.

Janna's communicator made a small popping noise, a confirmation notification that the speech had been received. She gestured and the file opened in front of her. She scanned it for a moment, then nodded and stood. "Let's get you into a wheelchair."

--

The trial took place in the mess hall, the only room on the ship with enough seating for everyone. Everen didn't know how the judge, jury, prosecution, and defense were decided on, but she was glad that she didn't have to organize anything. Because she was healing from a pretty serious injury, very little was expected from her at all, really, which was great because it was hard for her to pay close attention to the court proceedings. Her mind kept wandering to other topics. At some point, Janna got up and told everyone what had happened.

At another point, the prosecutor, a man named Serge, lifted up the bag that contained the pen Everen had been stabbed in the neck with. "The attack against Everen followed the pattern of the other murders," he said. "In all cases the attacker used an improvised weapon taken from the room that the crime took place."

It seemed to Everen that the case should be open and shut, but clearly there was still some kind of doubt because Janna was called back to the stand, not to testify of her own account, but rather to read Everen's. Serge had told Everen that her "alien story" (as he'd called it) would only be presented if there was nothing left to present but there was still doubt as to whether Clarisse was guilty or not. Serge had been rather dubious when Everen had claimed she could prove the aliens were real, but he'd relented after she'd demonstrated the proof on him.

After explaining that she would be reading Everen's account, Janna began. "Hello. My apologies for not being on the stand myself, but considering my injuries, I figured this would be the best way to share what I know. This will come as a major surprise to all of you as it came as a major suprise for me. I apologize for not revealing this sooner. I believed that it would be best to keep it secret until the identity of the killer was known, although now, with ample time to reconsider my actions, I wonder if that was wise. Regardless, I am sharing it now."

Janna took a deep breath.

Everen could feel everyone in the room lean forward in their seats. This was clearly some huge revelation and no one had any idea what would come next.

"We are indeed not alone in this universe," Janna read. "In fact, the planet we are headed to is inhabited by an intelligent species that I have taken to calling 'the motes.' They communicate in a similar way to how I communicate with my sisters, which is how they first made contact with me."

Shocked, increculous faces plastered the crowd, but no one made a sound. Everen especially loved the look on Clarisse's face: flabbergasted, almost offended that something could be introduced into the case that she wasn't aware of, and something this bonkers too!

Janna continued, "This information is obviously crucial to our mission and with greatly impact our future actions, but this trial is not the place to get into those details quite yet. Suffice it to say, the Motes have great telepathic powers and shared with me the identity of the killer before we set up our ambush. They were able to deduce her identity based on the massive amounts of guilt she was feeling at the time. In a similar fashion, I can ask them to tell me what any one of you are feeling at a given moment to help prove this claim. I can be in another room so no one will suspect me of reading the emotions from expressions or body language. However, it would be best for the test volunteer to be feeling a strong, identifyable emotion." Janna looked up from the document. "Well?" she asked the judge.

"Well, it's unorthodox, but I don't see why we shouldn't put Everen's claim to the test," she said. "Someone take Everen into the bathroom over there. Someone from the defence team, ideally. Just in case."

A few minutes later, Serge appeared at the entrance to the bathroom. "They want you to test DeShaquis, Fontaigne, and Bonny."

"Three people?" Everen asked in a whisper.

"Yes, they want to make sure it isn't a fluke."

"Alright," Everen signed, then said, "Give me a moment. This isn't an immediate thing." She closed her eyes. Motes? she sent to the void. Are you there?

Affirmative, they responded. We have observed your weakened mental state of late and have held off on contacting you until you had healed.

Thank you, said Everen. I will update you on everything very soon. As of now, we are having a trial. The time has come for me to prove to my shipmates that you are real. Could you tell me what emotions match with the following names? DeShaquis Morton, Fontaigne Regis, and Bonny Lavender.

Understood. One moment please.

Everen opened her eyes. "They're working on it," she whispered.

Serge nodded and Trudy, the member of the defense team, watched her closely.

Everen, not sure what else to do, closed her eyes again and waited.

Soon enough the motes said, We have felt their hearts. The one called DeShaquis Morton is feeling great sadness. The motes sent a heavy, dark feeling. Fontaigne Regis is feeling shock and excitement. They sent a matching feeling. Bonny Lavender is feeling doubt and betrayal. Once again, they sent the matching feeling. We hope this helps prove our existence. Please contact us again soon. Our diplomacy department would like to speak to whoever replaces Clarisse Bevington.

Thank you, Everen said. Will do. She closed the connection.

She relayed the information to Serge and after a minute or two, she was brought back out, into the midst of a crew that had accepted the real and actual existence of telepathic aliens.

The trial continued, but Everen rested easy knowing that her part was over, and she had finally spilled the secret that had been so crucial but so potentially deadly.


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217 Reviews


Points: 7300
Reviews: 217

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Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:57 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi Rook!

First Impressions
I thought this chapter seemed to have a more humorous, light-hearted vibe than the previous one. Could it be because it seems to be wrapping up a part of the plot? Maybe. The way the problem of the trial resolves itself seems pretty believable to me. I get the sense that Everen is an intelligent character by how she was able to pre-plan a way to convince the people in the courtroom. Everen also comes across as sassy/ witty, whereas Janna seems more direct/ straightforward, with less overt joking around. I’m a bit curious about the three people whose emotions the motes checked. They are named characters, so I feel that the info about what they were feeling at court is somehow relevant to the overall narrative.

Style

Unfortunately, her bedroom was a crime scene currently being investigated so she'd have nowhere to go. She'd probably just stay in the infirmary under the care of Janna. There were worse places to be in the universe. Everen smiled.

This bit made ME smile. The narrative voice is strong here! I like how Everen’s ‘logic’ shows in the writing and how that clues me in to her personality even though this is the first time I’m reading about her character.
"Yes," Everen signed. Then whispered, "I typed up my statement. Will you read it for me?"

This one’s a nitpick, but the otherwise very smooth flow of prose felt a bit stuck there between “signed” and the next sentence.
The trial took place in the mess hall, the only room on the ship with enough seating for everyone.

I think there wasn’t much description of what the trial looked and sounded like. I’d imagine where ‘the stand’ is and where the judges are seated would look pretty different than in an actual courtroom since they had it in a mess hall. At one point I actually forgot this detail about the mess hall and started imagining a regular courtroom because the ‘mess hall’ bit wasn’t brought up much in descriptions. I wonder if for example, the judge and jury would just be seated at tables like everyone else, or if they could hear noise from the nearby kitchen.
Another thing I was wondering about was whether the reader is going to see people’’s reactions during the trial up close. Did anybody doubt the evidence? Maybe as a gut reaction to something ‘new’? From what I can tell, this story is written in a third person POV that sticks close to one character at a time, in this case, Everen. So of course Everen wouldn’t see how people reacted because she was in the bathroom. But I found myself curious about that point and I felt that the whole episode seemed to wrap up very quickly.
We hope this helps prove our existence. Please contact us again soon. Our diplomacy department would like to speak to whoever replaces Clarisse Bevington.

I love how the motes speak. For some reason they initially reminded me of customer service people and the contrast between stock corporate phrases like “Our ___ department would like to speak to . . .” and sci-fi lines like “prove our existence” made me giggle.
We have felt their hearts.

The word choice, for instance here, also makes them seem like ‘extra-terrestrials’ to me? Like, a human wouldn’t be able to ‘feel’ someone’s heart as far as I can tell, so the fact that they say this in a matter-of-fact tone sort of adds to their characterisation as a species, I think.

Overall
I liked this chapter. I’d imagine if I saw this at the end of a long story arc about this murder case, it would be a pretty satisfying resolution with one more clever twist about how Everen brings in the motes at court. Given what’s happened with Hirschel in the previous chapter though, I do wonder if this is really ‘the end’ or if there’s going to be more complications . . .

Hope some of this is helpful – keep writing!
-Lim




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Thu Dec 30, 2021 8:00 pm
Roundsquare wrote a review...



Hi, here for a quick review. Sort of...

I love your storytelling. You're really good. Keep it up. Only criticism is not to be in a hurry because you miss a lot of easy grammatical errors, typos, etc.

So I basically made a few edits here and there.

___________
The medicine on the ship was incredible. Everen had only been down a few days, and she could already speak again. It was painful if she spoke too loudly, but she could whisper, move her head, and even sit up. She’d be released soon after she was able to walk and eat solid food. Unfortunately, her bedroom was a crime scene currently, so she'd have nowhere to go. She'd probably just stay in the infirmary under the care of Janna. There were worse places to be in the universe. Everen smiled.
As if she could tell Everen was looking at her, Janna glanced up from her work.
"What are you looking so happy for?" Janna said, smiling in return.
"You," Everen signed. Even though she could whisper now, she appreciated the convenience of sign language and how she knew she wouldn't have to speak up to be heard.
Janna blushed and shook her head, eyes focusing back on her work. But a moment later, she asked, "Are you ready for the trial? They should be along at any moment to collect us."
"Yes," Everen signed. Then whispered, "I typed up my statement. Will you read it for me?"
"Aliens?" Janna grimaced. "I worry that might not help our case."
"We've gotta tell them sometime. And I can prove it."
Janna nodded. "Okay, I'll read for you."
"Thanks," Everen sighed. She pulled up her holographic laptop with a gesture and sent Janna the file she'd been working on ever since she could sit up.
Janna's communicator made a small popping noise, a confirmation notification that the speech had been received. She gestured and the file opened in front of her. She scanned it for a moment, then nodded and stood. "Let's get you into a wheelchair."
The trial took place in the mass hall—the only room on the ship with enough seating for everyone. Everen didn't know how the judge, jury, prosecution, and defense were decided, but she was glad that she didn't have to organize anything. It was hard for her to focus on anything other than her injuries right now. Her mind kept wandering to other topics. At some point, Janna got up and told everyone what had happened.
The prosecutor, Serge, lifted the bag that contained the pen Everen had been stabbed in the neck with. "The attack against Everen followed the pattern of the other murders," he said. "In all cases, the attacker used an improvised weapon taken from the room the crime took place in."
As far as Everen was concerned, it was an open and shut case, but clearly, there was still some doubt. Janna was called back to the stand, not to give her own testimony but to recite Everen's. Sergei had told Everen that her "alien story" (as he'd called it) would only be presented if there was nothing left to present, but there was still doubt as to whether Clarisse was guilty or not. Sergei had been rather dubious when Everen had claimed she could prove the aliens were real, but he'd relented after she'd demonstrated the proof on him.
After explaining that she would be reading Everen's account, Janna began. "Hello. My apologies for not being on the stand myself, but considering my injuries, I figured this would be the best way to share what I know. This will come as a major surprise to all of you as it came as a major surprise for me. I apologize for not revealing this sooner. I believed it would be best to keep it secret until the killer’s identity was known, although now, with ample time to reconsider my actions, I wonder if that was wise. Regardless, I am sharing it now."
Janna took a deep breath.
Everen could feel everyone in the room lean forward in their seats. This was clearly going to be a huge revelation, and no one had any idea what would come next.
"We are indeed not alone in this universe," Janna read. "The planet we are headed to is inhabited by an intelligent species that I have taken to calling 'the motes.' They communicate in a similar way to how I communicate with my sisters, which is how they first made contact with me."
Shocked, incredulous faces plastered the crowd, but no one made a sound. Everen especially loved the look on Clarisse's face: flabbergasted, almost offended that something could be introduced into the case that she wasn't aware of, and something this bonkers too!
Janna continued, "This information is crucial to our mission and with greatly impact our future actions, but this trial is not the place to get into those details quite yet. Suffice it to say, the Motes have great telepathic powers and shared with me the killer’s identity before we set up our ambush. They could deduce her identity based on the massive amounts of guilt she was feeling at the time. Similarly, I can ask them to tell me what any one of you is feeling at a given moment to help prove this claim. I can be in another room, so no one will suspect me of reading the emotions from expressions or body language. However, it would be best for the test volunteer to be feeling a strong, identifiable emotion." Janna looked up from the document. "Well?" she asked the judge.
"Well, it's unorthodox, but I don't see why we shouldn't put Everen's claim to the test," she said. "Someone take Everen into the bathroom over there. Someone from the defense team, ideally. Just in case."
A few minutes later, Sergei appeared at the entrance to the bathroom. "They want you to test DeShaquis, Fontaigne, and Bonny."
"Three people?" Everen asked in a whisper.
"Yes, they want to make sure it isn't a fluke."
"Alright," Everen signed, then said, "Give me a moment. This isn't an immediate thing." She closed her eyes. Motes? she sent to the void. Are you there?
Affirmative, they responded. We have observed your weakened mental state of late and have held off on contacting you until you had healed.
Thank you, said Everen. I will update you on everything very soon. As of now, we are having a trial. The time has come to prove to my shipmates that you are real. Could you tell me what emotions match with the following names? DeShaquis Morton, Fontaigne Regis, and Bonny Lavender.
Understood. One moment, please.
Everen opened her eyes. "They're working on it," she whispered.
Sergei nodded, and Trudy, the defense team member, watched her closely.
Everen, not sure what else to do, closed her eyes again and waited.
Soon enough, the motes said, We have felt their hearts. The one called DeShaquis Morton is feeling great sadness. The motes sent a heavy, dark feeling. Fontaigne Regis is feeling shocked and excited. They sent a matching feeling. Bonny Lavender is feeling doubt and betrayal. Once again, they sent the matching feeling. We hope this helps prove our existence. Please get in touch with us again soon. Our diplomacy department would like to speak to whoever replaces Clarisse Bevington.
Thank you, Everen said. Will do. She closed the connection.
She relayed the information to Sergei, and after a minute or two, she was brought back out into the midst of a crew that had accepted the real and actual existence of telepathic aliens.
The trial continued, but Everen rested easy knowing that her part was over, and she had finally spilled the secret that had been so crucial but so potentially deadly.





Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
— Mark Twain