Author’s Note: This story had me stuck for a while. Odd, because I knew the end a long time ago, but this was one of those parts in the middle that was hard to build a bridge over. I think I’ve done it, finally, but who knows?
“Your trial date has been set.”
Tynan looked up at the matron, wondering what that meant. The end, of course, it was quite near, and he had been doing his best to accept it and his circumstances, though he was not as prepared as he would have thought. He had known this day was coming, always, so why he did not feel ready to meet it? He had not thought that the children of the vortex possessed a survival instinct, not in the same sense as most species, and he did not believe that was the cause of his distress. He was not alive in the same sense as most species, either. He didn’t know that instinct was what disquieted him, though.
He knew what it was. Everything was about Luna, and that was not a surprise—it should not be, at least. He had come to understand that his personal obsession with her—it was an obsession, the need to be around her and to know what she thought about everything—was not something that could be denied. She had found a way into every part of his existence, whether that was her intention or not, and he could not think of much without thinking of her. He did not know how to separate her from anything besides his earliest memories, and even then he found himself wondering what she would think of him if she’d seen him in those days, if she’d seen his hunger at his worst. Would she still be his friend?
That thought worried him, but what could he do about it? He would not see her again. These people, the enlightened species of the galaxy, they had him, and they were not going to let him go. He had no choice but to accept his fate. He would be executed. He would die. That was, he feared, as everyone felt it should be.
Everyone but him and Luna, that was.
“When?” Tynan asked, rising from his place against the wall. He did not walk to the front of the cell—he knew that scared the matron, and he would rather not be hurt, not now. He could have a few more hours of peace, the last of his life, and then he would die.
“It shall commence in the morning.”
The matron gave a slight shrug, nothing like the ones that Luna would give, which seemed more of a friendly gesture than a careless, heartless one. He did not know why that mattered, except he had too much time to think about these sorts of things as he remained here, imprisoned. He could do little besides think, and he supposed it was almost a good thing they could create so much pain for him that his hunger was forced to fight against that, because he was bored.
He wanted to learn something, but there was nothing to learn here. He’d figured out more than he wanted to know of hate, but he was done with that, and now he had nothing at all. They gave him nothing, spoke of nothing but their hatred and his death. That was all that was left to him, and so he should not be disappointed to hear it was almost at hand.
He had not expected them to change their minds. They had made their decision long before he was ever caught, and that would not be altered now that he was. He would liked to have been compelling enough to convince them that they were wrong, that they should not do this, but he was not. He had tried, and now it was over.
“Will I be in attendance, or will my fate be decided without me?”
“That is an interesting question.”
“You mean since I know and you know that the outcome of the trial will not change? You have already chosen execution for me, and I can have no other sentence. Yes, that much I know, but I did hope that if I was able to give evidence, I might change some perceptions of my kind and your judgment later. Or that I might give Luna the message that I wanted to give her. You have not said if I will be permitted to do this or not. I do not know what to think about that part of it. I would believe you would not want that—I am different, and it bothers you that I am. Not enough to change your mind about killing me, but perhaps I might change someone else’s or simply make you look bad as I have been more than patient and rather forgiving of what has been done to me here. Your devices can kill me, yes, but I do not have to let them manage my hunger. You see, I am more powerful than you realize. It is my forbearance that grants your life. I have no desire to kill you, but I am aware that this device could not keep me in it if I decided that I could escape. Having no way of doing that without killing everyone within the immediate area and perhaps the solar system, I have chosen to remain where I am.”
She blinked. “You chose?”
He nodded. “Indeed. I think it is a decision that all your prisoners have made, all the ones of my species, at least. We realize that we will only be the monster again, that we will give your kind more reason to hate and fear us. I do not know if that is true. However, I have learned a great deal about my control and lack of it through my travels. This pain keeps my boredom from letting my hunger lose. If not for that, though, it might not work at all.”
“Yet you would have us permit you to attend the trial and perhaps risk killing our judges?”
He shrugged. “It is a risk, yes. I’d give my word not to hurt anyone, but you do not listen. We have been over that so many times… I would ask again to give a message to Luna, but I know the answer to that as well.”
The matron folded her arms behind her back. “Yes, you do. No, you will not be in attendance, not for most of the trial. There is one part where your presence will be required, but that is all.”
“You mean I get to be there when you tell me I’m to die?”