Royal Verdict

I bet you didn’t expect me to have powers too, did you?” Mundo felt the strange thought in his head. The source of the smug statement, a scraggly-bearded man in an orange jump-suit, grinned at Mundo. The man massaged his wrists once the bailiff removed his cuffs.

It’s interesting that you ask…,” Mundo replied telepathically. The suited lawyer held up a golden pen to draw the killer’s attention. Once the scraggly man set his eyes on the pen Mundo dropped it. It fell half a foot then stopped as if it got stuck in the air.

“What the hell?!” the killer said aloud. He pointed at the pen frozen in the air and tried to get someone to look at it, but no one else was moving. Time stopped for them.

“…if you understood your powers better…” Mundo stepped around the frozen bailiff and approached the killer with a pair of onyx handcuffs. “…you’d know that I very much expected you to have powers. The funny part is:…” Mundo cuffed a very confused prisoner. “…we couldn’t do anything until you proved it to me.”

“I’m a free man,” The man faced the bench. “Hey judge, what about my rights?” he asked for help but the judge remained fixed in time. He stared forward at nothing. Mundo nodded.

“You do have rights,” the lawyer faced the back of the small courtroom. “Your honor?” he asked. A black-haired woman stood to separate herself from the time-locked crowd. She wore a black flowing dress that resembled a judge’s robe.

“Lucas Espinoza, #39 – El Nopal. The woman locked eyes with the prisoner. “The Royal Court of Uniques finds you guilty of unsanctioned Zero-slaughter. You are sentenced to The Courtyard prison server for five years.”

“WHAT?! What the hell are you talking about?” Lucas yelled. “Wake up!” He threw his weight against the Bailiff, but the chubby man fell over like a statue. Lucas noticed a gun holstered at the man’s hip. He scrambled to grab it with his cuffed hands; then, he pointed it at the woman and fired. A bullet exited the barrel then stopped. The empty air caught it the same way it caught the golden pen.

“Verdict is rendered. Owen, send me home, then assist Mundo with sentencing,” the woman said. A thin man with short blond hair sitting in front of the woman nodded. Lucas was surprised to see him move. He watched the group intently after the woman stood to pick out any movement, but did not see any. The blond man stood from his seat at the same time a black portal opened in the air in front of the woman. When the portal disappeared she was gone and Owen smiled.

“What’s going on?” Lucas asked Mundo. What’s the Courtyard? Who was that?” The greying man stepped to Mundo’s side to put the lawyer between Owen and himself.

“The Courtyard is the lightest sentence you can get. You pretty much got house arrest in a mansion,’ Mundo said, then he shrugged. “Well, a virtual mansion, I guess.”

“Virtual?” Lucas asked. Then he blinked.

“Yes,” Owen said. Lucas jumped and took a step back, he did not expect Owen to be so close. As he moved back he checked behind him to avoid tripping over the bailiff’s body, but it was gone. He looked around expecting to see the courtroom but he stood in the middle of a soil pit in a small prison cell. His orange jumpsuit was replaced with a white bodysuit. Lucas sighed.

“God damnit guys, can someone tell me what’s going on?” Lucas asked.

“You wanna know what’s going on?” Mundo asked.

“Yeah!” Lucas nodded. “First of all who was that lady and what kind of position does she have that lets her do…,” Lucas held up his cuffs. “…this to me.”

“That lady was Queen,-” Owen began to explain; then, Lucas blinked. Lucas opened his eyes to a violet sky with amber grain stems swaying over him.

“That time-stopping son of a bitch!” Lucas grumbled out loud when he realized what happened. “Hey, what happened to the prison?” Lucas stood up and looked around. An endless sea of golden waves swayed in the breeze as far as he could see. He turned in place several times to survey the land, but the field extended to the horizon in all directions.

“Welcome to the AlterNet!” a woman’s voice said behind him. He jumped and spun around. A white, featureless mannequin floated above the grain. “To enter general population you must first create a character. Recommended classes for #39 El Nopal include,-”

“What’s that!?” Lucas blurted out. “What am I?” He remembered the Queen had also used that phrase to describe him. The mannequin descended slightly and drew closer to Lucas.

“You don’t know what you are?” Lucas shook his head.

“No.” The mannequin nodded. It landed on the ground. Immediately a large radius of wheat around them disappeared, then a round, wooden table appeared in the center in front of Lucas. A chair formed by Lucas and several fast food boxes materialized on Lucas’ side of the table. A red and white bucket of fried chicken sat next to a plate of Chinese food, and both sat on top of a pizza box. On the other side of the table, a variety of drinks appeared.

“This will take some time to explain.”

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