Alpha Prime, MY 2140

The True Human council Rebecca Whinn sat down and folded her hands on the polished table. Her client looked over at her with a beseeching look. His face was composed, but strained.

First Chancellor Ryan stood. His salt and pepper hair was immaculate, and his cerebral nodes were polished to a high sheen. They seemed to glisten as the peaked just beneath his mane. He nodded to the defense. “The facts are clear, Prime Function. Waylan Jones was caught with the stolen goods in his possession. His DNA traces were found at the crime scene, and they had enough cellular decay to place him at the scene within the timeframe needed for the crime to have been committed. His alibi has not proven to be persuasive. In short, he is clearly guilty of theft. It is only logical to find him guilty, and impose a just sentence that will serve society, and mitigate some of the harm he has caused.”

The First Chancellor nodded to the Prime Function, and then turned ninety degrees to give a short bow to the defending council. She gave him a curt nod in return. The defendant did not look at him. His eyes were fixed on his judge, Aki Zeta-Five.

“The case was well argued by both sides,” she began. Her voice was impassive and tone flat. “In view of the evidence, the Consciousness finds the defendant Waylan Jones guilty of theft.”

Waylan moaned and his eyes slipped from Aki to the tabletop.

“His sentence is either ten Chiron years of hard labor in the agricultural fields, with a second class laborer’s salary that will be appropriated in full to pay for the theft and to support his family, or acceptance of the Consciousness and the retention of existing status, with remuneration to the injured party to be paid by the state. Mr. Jones, what is your choice?”

Waylan moaned again and muttered, “No, no, no, no…”

His council leaned over and whispered into his ear. She had a tense look on her face. As she whispered Waylan pinched shut his eyes and shook his head once, then more violently a second time. The defense council’s face took on a hard visage and she whispered in an audible voice, “Do it now or your family will be reduced to poverty, all because of your stupid mistake! You won’t get another chance! DO IT!”

Waylan’s will seemed to collapse. He nodded. His council immediately stood up and said, “Waylan Jones will accept the Consciousness.” She was about to add another statement but paused, thinking better of it, and sat down. Then she reached over and held his shaking hand.

“The choice is acknowledged by this tribunal. Sentence will be administered immediately,” she said.

At the prompt Chancellor Ryan Gamma-Four stood up, picked up a small black box from the table in front of him, and paced over to the table where the defendant sat. The meeting room was deathly quiet. He placed the box on the table, opened the lid, and took out two metal nodes, each trapezoidal in shape and three centimeters in diameter. Fine metallic tendrils writhed at the end of the trapezoids. As they neared Waylan they quivered, and snaked toward his temples.

In a quick motion Ryan Gamma-Four locked the nodes in place. Waylan gasped, then gave a strangled sound as his face contorted. His breathing became fast and shallow. Thin rivulets of blood dripped down from this temples as the tendrils drilled into his skull.

Rebecca’s eyes went wide as she tried to calm Waylan’s trembling hands. She whispered, “Don’t fight it. That only makes it worse…” Aki, Ryan and the rest of the audience looked on with dead eyes.

Finally Waylan collapsed. In a moment he sat back up, then stood. “I am Jones Delta-Seven. Transition complete.” His voice was lifeless.

The he looked over to Rebecca and deliberately removed his hands, which were no longer trembling, from her embrace. His eyes were emotionless and his face placid. Rebecca recoiled.

Aki said, “Welcome to the Consciousness, Jones Delta-Seven.”