Disclaimer: The characters of Gundam Wing and all that relates to the After Colony universe belongs to Bandai, Sunrise, Sotsu Agency & TV Asahi 1995 (c). The following is a fan fiction story that was written for none profitable purposes.
Title: Direct Examination
Author: Elle Smith.
Warning: Rated M for non-graphic reference of rape and physical abuse; some disturbing imagery.
Author's Note: The story is written in the format of a U.S. court martial transcript, with a few adjustments to make reading easier. It may seem a bit weird at the first few paragraphs, so you may skip down to the actual part of the story – which is the witness examination.
Lastly, in this story, I am relying on the CIA's definition of terrorism and on U.S. Army ranks and court martial proceedings. Before you start reading, I'd like to clarify a few things, but you really don't have to read them in order to enjoy the story itself:
-- A 'Class A' War Criminal is a person who has committed a crime against peace. In international law, that refers to "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing". [Wikipedia]
-- A special court-martial is the intermediate court level. It consists of a military judge, trial counsel (prosecutor), defense counsel, and a minimum of three officers sitting as a panel of court members or jury. An accused may request trial by judge alone. Regardless of the offenses involved, a special court-martial sentence is limited to no more than one year confinement, forfeiture of two-third’s basic pay per month for one year, a bad-conduct discharge (for enlisted personnel), and certain lesser punishments. An officer accused in a special court-martial cannot be dismissed from the service or confined. [Wikipedia]
-- Article 39a Session: Is a session of a court-martial called by the military judge either before the members (jurors) are seated or, after that phase of the trial has begun, without the members of the court being present. Article 39a sessions are used to dispose of matters not amounting to a trial of the accused's guilt or innocence. The civilian equivalent: sidebar conferences outside the hearing of the jury. [Justia]
* For the sake of this story, I assume that an Article 39a session and a Special Court Martial could be used to sweep embarrassing matters under the carpet.
Gee, that was long and (hopefully) informative. And now – on with the show!
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RECORD OF TRIAL
LARSON, ANNIKA M. SSN xxx-xx-xxxx LIEUTENANT GENERAL O-9
COMMANDER OF ESUN MILITARY CONFINEMENT FACILITY NO. 7/9
COMMANDING OFFICER ADMIRAL JAMES T. HANGEN
FORT MORWOOD on 17 FEBRUARY, AC 202
ESUN DEFENSE ARMY NORTHERN COMMAND HEADQUARTERS
OF THE ESUN DEFENSE ARMY
Special court-martial order 17 February AC 202.
ARTICLE 39 (a) SESSION
PROCEEDINGS OF A SPECIAL COURT-MARTIAL
In the case of Annika M. Larson, xxx-xx-xxxx, Lieutenant General O-9 the military judge called the Article 39(a) to order at Fort Morwood.
ADMIRAL JAMES T. HANGEN, xxx-xx-xxxx, ESUN Defense Army Judiciary, certified in accordance with Article 42(a).
Lieutenant General O-9 Annika M. Larson, SSN xxx-xx-xxxx, ESUN Defense Army, Commander of ESUN Military Confinement Facility No. 7/9, did at ESUN Military Confinement Facility No. 7/9, on or about 26th August AC 201, have wrongfully aided in the escape of and offered asylum to high-security prisoner Heero Yuy, PSN xxxx-xxx-xx.
The defense had no motions to present except as indicated below:
Defense made a motion to dismiss the charge on the grounds of the accused putting an end to the severe military misconduct preformed by Warrant Officer 1 JAMES K. MERIT, xxx-xx-xxxx, Chief Warrant Officer 3 EUGENE C. KASLIK, xxx-xx-xxxx, and Second Lieutenant CLAYBURN M. PALESS, xxx-xx-xxxx and their associates who are yet to be identified.
The Defense asks for the charges to be dropped and that the Prosecution should seek to charge the names mentioned above and investigate the crime that has been committed against prisoner Heero Yuy.
The Defense called the following witnesses:
Lieutenant General ANNIKA, M. LARSON, ESUN Defense Army, Commander of ESUN Military Confinement Facility No. 7/9.
Q: State your name, age, rank and position.
A: Annika Marion Larson, age forty six. Lt. General, commander of the ESUN Defense Army Confinement Facility No. 7/9.
Q: How did you come across the prisoner?
A: I had just been transferred to fill the position of prison commander after General Madison had retired. I was appointed command of the facility on August 13th, AC 201, and arrived at the facility on August 15th of the same year. After settling in my new position and getting acquainted with my staff, I began making rounds around the facility, to familiarize myself with it. The new high-security wing was undergoing construction and the base was in a constant state of chaos. As I made my rounds, I could see that I had my work cut out for me. Some of the personnel thought it would be a good opportunity to 'slack off', as they say. They thought I'd never catch them amongst the mess the construction had created around the base. I intended to prove them wrong and made the proper steps to increase discipline and drills. Any kind of misconduct was punished severely until the men realized that having a woman for a commander does not entitle them to become slothful, insolent, disobedient or inefficient. Their behavior could affect the prisoners themselves, and I could not afford that risk.
It took me about a week to become acquainted with every section in the facility. To affirm that I have indeed covered all the grounds, I checked the prison's blueprints in my office. Looking at the blueprints, I found that I had missed one section – the old underground high-security wing. The records said that it had been sealed off since AC 199, and that all of the high-security the prisoners have been transferred elsewhere until construction on the new wing was complete. I decided that there was no need to visit an abandoned section of the prison.
However, about a week later, when I was going over some financial paperwork to make my monthly report, I noticed that the abandoned wing was still using water and power. At first I thought that it was an error, but when I checked my computer, I found that water and electricity to that section hadn't been cut off yet, even when the section was scheduled for demolition at the end of the month. Because water and power had been flowing to the old wing for a period of over two years since the section had been closed, I suspected that some of the personnel were using the abandoned underground wing for inappropriate recreational activities, most likely for drug or alcohol abuse and gambling. I decided to go down there and see for myself.
Secretly, I went down to the old wing on the night of August 21st AC 201. The elevator shaft and staircase leading down to the wing had been sealed off, but I found a ladder hidden in one of the emergency access tunnels. After climbing down the ladder, I found myself standing in a dark hallway on the top floor of the old section. The ventilation system was still working, but the air was hot and rather moldy; some of the ventilation tunnels must have already been sealed. A few fluorescent lights were still working, flickering on and off, but it was still very dark.
I lit a flashlight to scan the area. Looking down the long dark hallway, I saw that all of the doors to the prison cells were wide open. They had probably been left that way after the prisoners had been relocated. The building was in a bad shape, plaster peeling off the walls litter was scattered everywhere: liquor bottles and beer cans, cigarette buds, pizza boxes and whatnot. I spotted torn armchairs arranged along the corridor wall, like a waiting room. There were also chairs and broken tables scattered here and there; I even found a deck of cards and poker chips. Evidently, the men were indeed using the old wing as an illegal recreational facility. After seeing enough, I decided to leave. I was fuming with anger and I began planning my next move so I could find the people who used that place and discipline them accordingly.
I was about to climb back up the ladder, when I heard a sound, a sort of metallic clattering echoing throughout the hall. I stopped and scanned the corridor once more, using my flashlight. I noticed that one of the cell doors was closed while the rest of them were left open. Curious as to why that particular door was still locked, I climbed back down. As I approached it, I thought I heard more metallic clattering from inside the closed cell. I must admit that I was a bit anxious. The sound surprised me and my heart began pounding with a sense of forbiddance. I knew that I was about to discover something terrible.
Have you ever heard the testimony of the Hollywood tycoons President Truman sent to witness the Nazi death-camps immediately after the Second World War?
Q: No, I have not.
A: That's because they couldn't possibly put what they saw into words. Truman wanted them to witness the horror first hand so they could tell the story to the world, but even the films they made failed to capture the true horror of the situation. The Holocaust featured on the cinema screen in gloomy black and white, while in truth the victims of the Nazi regime had experienced it in full HD color and surround sound, so to speak. No storyteller or moviemaker, not even the survivors themselves, could not tell the story properly.
Q: Your point being?
A: My point is, sir: that I cannot put into words what I saw down there that night. Anything I describe to you would be a crime against the victim, because it will be too simplistic, no matter how accurate or figurative. It's like what the survivors of the first atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima had said – 'there are no more words'. No words could describe what happened to the victims of the atom bomb, or to the Jewish people who had suffered through the Holocaust. One cannot put such horrors into words; you had to be there in order to understand. I'm not trying to compare those two historical events to what we are dealing with here, but the principle still remains – I cannot portray it in a way that would do the situation justice.
Q: I see your point, Lt. General, but I must ask you to describe what you saw, for the record.
A: I can only try.
I reached the door and I was shocked to see that the key was inside the lock, ready to be opened at any time. Just think about how many people came and went in and out of that cell as they pleased, while the prisoner was doomed to remain inside, even when the section was scheduled to be demolished. Every prisoner, even the most dangerous, still retains his basic human rights and is entitled for proper care. They see daylight when they're out in the yard; they are well fed and medically taken care of. This was not the case for this prisoner.
I peered into the cell through the small hatch on the door. I pointed my flashlight at the hatch to see what went on inside. I thought I saw a shadow move at the far end of the cell. I was spooked. It took me a few minutes to gather the courage to open the door.
Once I opened the door I was immediately assaulted with the heavy stanch of stale air, stool and urine. The room reeked badly, I had to cover my mouth and nose to keep breathing. It took my eyes a while to adjust to the dim illumination cast by my flashlight, but I could still hear the person inside breathing. They were short, panicked kind of breaths, like a wounded animal.
Once my vision had adjusted, I could see finally him, lying on the bed. He huddled close to the wall, afraid. His hands and legs were handcuffed and chained to the bed's metal frame; that was the clatter I had heard: the chains hitting against the metallic bars as he moved. It didn't look like the chains were long enough to allow him to move away from the bed. I could tell that he had soiled himself, even when there was a toilet a mere foot from the bed. It was inhumane to say the least; I was horrified, but I worked up the strength to approach him.
The prisoner was lying chained to the bed, dressed in rags, in what used to be bright orange high-security prisoner uniform. Someone had ripped the uniform in such a way that it looked like the prisoner was wearing a skirt jumpsuit, or a dress. His hair was long, shoulder length, and he had a few days' worth of stubble on his face. His left leg was propped on the bed in an odd position, like it had been broken and healed in an unnatural angle. I saw that his right arm was also twisted in a similar way and that all of his fingers were pointing in odd angles, disfigured. It frightened me, I must admit. For a moment I thought about sealing the door and getting the hell out of there. But then he looked at me. I will never forget that look. It broke my heart.
Q: Please refrain from sentimental phrases.
A: I will try, but it's hard for me to tell you this story without sharing my feelings. That moment, when I entered the cell, must have been one of the most difficult things I've ever experienced.
His hair was long, obscuring his face. I could see the shine in his eyes; they gleamed between long strands of hair that fell over his face, staring at me silently. Even though his bangs hid most of his face, I could tell that he was Asian; and young, so very young. I assumed that he couldn't be more than twenty or so.
When he saw me look back at him, he began tugging at the chains with his hands, flexing his disfigured fingers. I thought he was making some sort of futile attempt to escape me, but then I realized that he was trying to signal me, pointing at something. I looked up and aimed the flashlight at the wall he was pointing at. I saw that he was actually gesturing towards a small sink, where a dirty glass of water stood. He made a sort of croaking sound; he was obviously parched.
I was so shaken that it took me a while to move towards the sink. I reached for the glass of water and noted that there were bloody fingerprints all over it. I had to keep myself from gagging when I looked into the sink and saw dirty condoms inside; some of them were bloody. I stood there, holding the glass of water, and simply tried to keep breathing calmly. I became nauseated; the horror of the situation was finally beginning to fully register with me.
The prisoner moaned again, withering on the bed. His desperate moans reminded me that he had asked me for water. I looked at the glass I was holding, still rather stunned and then filled it with tap water. The plumbing was old, and the water gushing out of the tap was dirty. Still, I could not deny the prisoner from the relief he sought for his thirst, so I went back to the bed and handed him the water. He tried grabbing the glass with his disfigured hands, but he could not grasp it properly. The chains also denied him of maneuvering space, he had to twist his whole body in order to turn around and somehow bring himself closer to his restrained hands. His struggle was pitiful and painful to see; my chest ached just from watching him. I quickly realized that I had made a mistake by handing him the glass. I hurried to take it back from him and served him the water myself. I could tell that he was shocked; he looked up at me with wide and unbelieving eyes. My own eyes filled with tears, but I tired to smile at him, to reassure him that I wasn't playing some kind of sick joke on him.
After a moment of hesitation, he finally leaned towards the glass and allowed me to help him drink. He gulped the water down quickly and then collapsed back on the bed, apparently exhausted. He closed his eyes and prepared to go to sleep. It didn't even cross his mind that I was there to let him out. He must have assumed that I was one of his captors; that I only came to give him the water. I think I almost cried then. My eyes definitely filled with tears. For a few good moments, I honestly didn't know what to do; I remained kneeling in front of his bed, dazed and overwhelmed with horror.
Q: Did you release the prisoner from the cell?
A: Of course I did! Who wouldn't have? It was the civilized thing to do.
After I got back to my senses, I pulled out my communicator and called Dr. Andrea Reed, the chief medical officer and an old friend of mine from military school. I carefully explained the situation to her and asked Reed to come down with a first aid kit and a rescue stretcher. I told her to keep the matter to herself and that I will take full responsibility for whatever happens. I'd like to stress the point that Dr. Reed was following my orders the whole time.
Q: Noted. Continue.
A: I went to the door and was relieved to see that the key-chain left inside the lock also contained keys to the handcuffs chaining the prisoner to the bed. While I waited for Dr. Reed to arrive, I released the prisoner from his bounds. He wasn't surprised or shocked at my actions. I imagined that he was released from the handcuffs every now and then, when his captors wished to play their sick games on him. Once his hands and legs were free, he simply lay there, staring at me, waiting for me to make my next move. There was no fear in his eyes, just resigned acceptance of what might come next. I had to find a way to get it through to him that I was not there to hurt him. I told him my name, my rank and my position. I told him that I was there to release him from the cell. I think I even apologized for not finding him sooner.
Q: Did he say anything in reply?
A: No, he never spoke a word; he still doesn't. Perhaps it was all a bit too much for him to grasp. He simply turned away to face the wall and stared at it quietly. Dr. Reed arrived soon after. She was just as shaken as I was at the condition of the prisoner. The moment she arrived at the cell, I found the strength to be a commander again and took charge of the situation.
After giving the prisoner some more water, Reed suggested that we should sedate him before taking him to the infirmary. She was afraid to leave him conscious, considering the condition of his twisted limbs. She had asserted that his bones had been broken and left to heal in an unnatural position. It would be impossible for him to walk on his own and moving him to the stretcher might also cause him pain. I concurred. The prisoner offered little resistance as she administered the shot. He just kept staring at us as we treated him. I think he was confused, perhaps even delusional due to severe dehydration.
Together, Dr. Reed and I secured the prisoner to the rescue-stretcher and made our way back the ladder. The handling of the stretcher was difficult, but not as much as I expected it to be. The prisoner weighed close to nothing. We managed to carry the stretcher up vertically, using ropes, and headed straight to the infirmary. No one saw us go in or out of that hellhole.
Q: Did you appoint Dr. Reed to treat the prisoner?
A: Yes, again, under my orders and full responsibility. I ordered Andrea to put the prisoner in an isolated room and to keep him off the records for the time being. I wanted to get to the bottom of things before reporting the matter to my superiors.
Dr. Reed examined the prisoner and came to some horrifying conclusions. As I had first assumed, the prisoner had been badly abused, both physically and sexually. His bones had indeed been broken and left to heal wrongly. His left leg, his entire right arm and all of his fingers were disfigured. Dr. Reed had to keep him under deep sedation in order to break the bones again and set them back correctly.
She found many other signs of abuse, as mentioned in the medical report I asked her to compose. You can read it for yourself and see the extent of the abuse. Somehow, even the word 'inhumane' doesn’t seem to apply here; it's hardly enough to describe what had been done to him. There were scars from deep cuts, cigarette burns and various other marks and infections. He was in a state of severe malnutrition and dehydration. To top that, Dr. Reed diagnoses at least two sexually-transmitted diseases in a highly developed stage.
It took Andrea nearly a month to nurse him back to acceptable health. I asked her to keep him sedated the whole time. I suppose that I wasn't ready to deal with a conscious patient yet. I needed time to think.
Dr. Reed also found traced of some infamous 'date rape' drugs in his system. A toxicology screen suggested that he had been administered with drugs on a regular basis. Andrea noted that he might have even developed an addiction to some of them. A few days after we had hospitalized him, the prisoner began showing withdrawal symptoms, as Reed had assumed he would. I suspect that the drugs were used to render him a helpless docile sex-doll. Some of the things done to him could not have been done to a conscious person; or at least, I'd like to hope that he hadn't been conscious to experience them. I can imagine that those bastards had rejoiced when he developed an addiction and a physical need for the drugs. They probably made him beg for them, like they made him beg for food and water.
Q: Please refrain from jumping to conclusions. Until we have proper evidence, you cannot be certain of any of this.
A: I don't need 'proper evidence', I know what I saw. I'm trying to paint a picture here, Admiral; I want you to know that what happened down in that cell should not be taken lightly. It wasn't some mere gambling operation or a brothel; it was evil, cruel and coldly calculated abuse. I know how these people work. They make their victims beg to be abused, they make sure the victim becomes dependant on them for survival and they take advantage of that need. That's what gets them off; the complete control they have over their victim.
Q: That is not for you to assert.
At what point did you become aware of the prisoner's identity?
A: Soon after we hospitalized him. As you know, each high-security prisoner is tattooed with an identification barcode. While he was unconscious, I scanned the code and retrieved his record. The computer file clearly stated that he should be dead.
According to the prison records, the prisoner's name is Heero Yuy, the only Gundam pilot who was ever captured and prosecuted for crimes of war and crimes against humanity. He was trialed immediately after he had recovered from serious injuries inflicted upon him at the end of the Marimeia Rebellion. He had been held at an ESUN Military Hospital and then transferred to a confinement facility until he stood trial and was charged as a Class A war criminal. As you may already know, no other pilot was ever caught, so the court wanted to make an example out of him. They trialed him as an adult and sentenced him for life imprisonment. He was transferred to 7/9 and held at the high-security section. The record clearly stated that he had committed suicide on May 17th AC 199 – the week the section had been sealed off. Obviously, someone had faked the records and kept him there regardless of the others being transferred elsewhere.
I consider it intolerable that such a crime had been committed inside the ranks of the ESUN Defense Army. We pride ourselves of being more enlightened than our Alliance or OZ predecessors, but it appears that man’s heart is evil from his youth. No amount of laws, treaties or so-called 'high culture' could ever change that. Don't you find it suspicious that the issue had allegedly escaped the attention of the previous commander, General Earl Madison, for over two years? Doesn't a commander have a responsibility to know what goes on in his base? I began to investigate the matter. I made up my mind to find the perpetrators and see to it that they'd be brought to justice.
Q: How did you conduct your investigation?
A: First, I asked Dr. Reed to inform me of any men who came asking for STD treatment. I strictly ordered her to break doctor-patient confidentiality. Again, I assume full responsibility.
A: According to the data Dr. Reed had provided me with, I narrowed the list of possible perpetrators to Warrant Officer James Merit, Chief Warrant Officer Eugene Kalsik and Second Lieutenant Clayburn Paless. The three of them had come to the infirmary asking for treatment for the same kind of STDs the prisoner was suffering from.
I called the three of them to my office, one at a time, and tried to get more information out of them. Since I've seen used condoms in the prisoner's cell, I was certain that there were others who had avoided getting infected by the disease, but were still involved in sexual crimes. I'm also certain that there were others who had avoided sexual assault but still abused the prisoner physically. Some might have just come to use the underground facility for drinking and gambling without ever laying a hand on the prisoner. Those people are just as guilty in my eyes, because they knew what was going on and never reported it to anyone. I was determined to seek out all of the criminals. I still have suspicions that this went as high as Madison himself. It is a well known fact that he holds a grudge against the Gundams for killing his two sons.
Q: One could say the same for you. You lost your son to the Gundams.
A: I lost my son in battle, that's what happens during war. I also lost my husband in a car accident a few years earlier. I never blamed the driver who had accidently killed Jeff, nor do I blame the Gundam pilots for Mathew's death. The Gundams just happened to be there when he was sent to the front, but I have no proof that they were responsible for his death. Either way, Mathew died fighting for his country, it was an honorable death. I learned to forgive both my husband's and my son's killers.
But General Madison's case is different. He lost two sons in an attack carried out by Gundam pilot 05, he knows that for certain. 05 planted explosives in a training facility where Madison's sons were serving and blew the cadets up while they were sleeping. No one could forgive that kind of death.
Later, or so I heard, Madison even lost an entire base while fighting the Gundams. Rumor has is that he became deranged with revenge. It is a well known fact that he used to gloat about being in charge of keeping the only Gundam pilot ever caught under lock and key. He was sent to early retirement after being found unfit for duty by his doctors. Even while I can sympathize with the General, I still think that this is more than enough reason to call him into questioning.
Q: We all have mixed feelings when it comes to the Gundams. Frankly, I can understand Madison, but your comment will be noted.
Were you able to get any information out of your three suspects?
A: No, they wouldn't admit to anything. One claimed that he got the disease from an ex-girlfriend; the other two remained silent and denied everything. I ordered the three to be thrown to the brig and continued the investigation on my own. Since no one knew that I've rescued the prisoner, I planned on placing electronic surveillance in the old wing and wait to see who came down there. It was a futile plan because the underground wing was scheduled for demolition that week and so the men had abandoned it. Furthermore, I suspect that, whoever they are, they heard about Merit, Kalsik and Paless being incarcerated and made the connection – they figured that their 'gig was up', as they say.
I pulled a few strings and got permission to order the demolition to be postponed. Dr. Reed and I decided to go down to the cell and try to gather DNA samples and fingerprints. We collected the condoms that had been left in the sink and even scanned the soiled mattress. We picked up cigarette buds and beer bottles from the floor, anything we could think of. It was hard and tedious work, but we managed to collect a substantial amount of evidence. I have the forensic data available for your review. We managed to prove that at least seven other men and five women – officers and enlisted soldiers alike – had been down there. There was evidence that some men and women used the vacant prison cells to have intercourse. They've made the old wing into a filthy 'love hotel' and the prisoner was the main attraction.
Q: You could have done things by the book and called for a proper investigation. It would have saved you a lot of trouble, including this very court martial. Yet, you chose to operate on your own, why is that?
A: I planned on eventually presenting the evidence in court, but I couldn't trust anyone, sir. I was afraid that the matter will be swept under the rug and forgotten. The army cannot afford such a terrible embarrassment. Also, this is a convicted war criminal we are talking about. There are many who hold a grudge against him. I couldn't help but fear that the matter will not be taken as seriously as it should be. After all, who cares what happens to the so-called scum of society after we throw them behind lock and key?
No, I couldn't turn to anyone before I collected enough evidence to make sure that this was a matter they could never ignore. I was ready to go with that information to the media if necessary.
Q: Fortunately, we were able to stop you before you could do such a thing.
What became of the prisoner after you hospitalized him?
A: I decided to tend to the prisoner myself. Would it be all right if I called him by his name? I can't stand it when he's referred to as something less than a human being. He's been through enough already.
Q: You may.
A: Thank you.
Q: Do you confess to have given the prisoner refuge in your own quarters?
A: Yes, I do. Where else could I have brought him? I couldn't keep him in the infirmary forever; people would have started asking questions. When Andrea deemed him healthy enough, I asked her to help me move him to my quarters. We carried him by wheelchair late at night so no one would see. Again, I take full responsibility; Dr. Reed was only following my orders.
Q: It was already noted, there's no need to repeat it again. Please continue.
A: We made proper adjustments to accommodate him in my personal quarters. I moved to the living room, sleeping on the couch, because I wanted Heero to have the bed where he would be most comfortable. I kept thinking of the horrible conditions in which he had been kept down there... I couldn't bear the thought of it. I didn't want him to suffer anymore, no matter what crimes he was accused of.
Q: So you admit, again, of taking the law into your own hands.
A: What law, Admiral? Are you referring to the same law that had condemned an adolescent boy to a life in prison without fair trial? Is it the same law that had discarded his basic human rights? Was it that same law which allowed those men to abuse him for over two years without anyone taking the time to report it? Is it the same law that now denies the existence of their crimes and refuses to prosecute men who had performed such atrocities?
There is no law, Admiral. If people respected the law and abided by it, then you could claim that it exists. But those men disregarded the law and they weren't afraid to do it because they knew that they would go unpunished. In human society, individual welfare always suppresses the common good. Laws are meaningless, so, yes, I took that law into my own hands. What sane person wouldn't?
Q: I'm surprised to hear you – a woman in charge of upholding the law – say such a thing.
A: Open your eyes, Admiral. If people cared about one another, there wouldn't be any wars or crimes committed.
Q: There would still be a need for a structured legal system. I never knew you to be an anarchist, Annika.
A: Seeing what I have seen had undermined my faith in human society, but I am not and anarchist. I'm just upset. I apologize. Please disregard my outburst.
Q: For how long did you shelter the prisoner in your quarters?
A: For as long as it took. Dr. Reed took Heero off the sedatives and we waited for him to wake up. I was very anxious. I didn't know what to expect. What becomes of a person after an extended period of such terrible abuse? I was afraid of finding out.
Q: What was he like when he regained consciousness?
A: Have you ever treated a wounded animal before, sir?
A: Then I can't describe it to you. Nothing I can say could make you understand what it was like for him. Tending him was difficult. It was heartbreaking and frightening at the same time. Most of the time, Heero was unresponsive, like a rag doll. I washed him, fed him and even gave him a haircut, but he never responded to me, aside from a glance here and there. Then there were moments of fear and violence on his part. I could never approach him when he behaved that way. I kept speaking to him, reassuring him, but he never acknowledged me. He hardly ever does.
During the first few days, he was indifferent, dazed maybe. After he had woken up from the affect of the sedatives, he simply lay in bed and stared at thin air. I suppose that he thought he was dreaming or hallucinating. After a while, he seemed to have woken up completely. I could finally see awareness in his eyes; he began looking around, silently studying his surroundings. I think he was slowly learning to cope with the fact that he was no longer in that dark cell. He'd turn to me when I spoke to him, it was great progress, and I was encouraged. Perhaps it took him a while to recover from both the sedatives and the drugs he was constantly injected with.
You know what was the first conscious thing he did? He looked at his hands. I'll never forget the astonishment in his eyes as he raised his hands up to his face and saw that his fingers had been restored to their natural positions. I think that was when he had realized that he was not dreaming. He tested his fingers, flexing them like... well, like a child, I suppose. The way he reached for and looked at things reminded me of Mathew when he was a baby, how he had explored the world as an infant.
Heero really was a child for the first few weeks. All he did was sleep. If he wasn't sleeping, he was staring at thin air. Sometimes I left the television open for him and he'd watch it while lying in bed. I brought him a few books and I think he even read some of them. I caught him using the computer once, when I came back to my quarters. It brought on a severe panic attack; he was probably thinking that he had done something terribly wrong and that he will be punished. All he did was play a card game on the computer. I had to assure him that neither I nor anyone else will ever throw him back into that cell, no matter what he'll do, before the anxiety attack subsided. Only after I assured him that it would be all right if he used the television or the computer, did he start using them more freely.
I balanced my work and my time with him as much as I could. When I was preoccupied with my duties, I'd ask Andrea to check up on him. Heero only ate when we served him a meal and encouraged him to eat it, so one of us always had to be there to make sure he'd eat. I suspect that he was waiting for permission to take the food, like he was expecting us to demand that he'd do something in return. It must have been unfathomable to him that he was receiving a hot meal without having to do something in return. Can you imagine what those men did to him before they fed him? I still get nightmares thinking about it. Those men treated him like... I can't even find a proper analogy. I'd say 'animal' but pets are treated kindly, Heero was constantly abused.
Even weeks after we had rescued him, he still could not bring himself to trust us. Although I always treated him with great care, Heero still kept a safe distance from me. It took him a while to understand that I wasn't a threat. I worked hard to earn his trust. It wasn't easy for me at all, not after losing a husband and then a son. I had to find compassion in me again, and it wasn't easy after so many years alone, years I've spent absorbed in my military duties. It took me some time to find a way to reach him; and it took him even longer to let me do so.
Q: Did Dr. Reed continue aiding you?
A: Yes, she had. Strangely, Heero didn't seem to mind Andrea's presence all that much. At first, Andrea had been the only one Heero allowed to touch him. Since he was unused to walking, having been denied of use of his leg for so long, Andrea came by in the evenings to administer some physiotherapy, to the best of her ability. She'd stay for dinner when I had to work late. I even saw the two of them play chess together once. After a while, Heero was able to walk again, though he still carries a slight limp. He also grew close to Andrea.
I've always known that Andrea possessed a very positive and reassuring aura; she has this calming affect on people. I suppose that my appearance is too strict and formal, too authoritative. Perhaps it intimidated Heero; maybe he couldn't see beyond the soldier in me. It wasn't the case with Andrea. She never had that kind of problem; she was always the pretty and more feminine one. I suppose that compared to her, I come off as stiff and rather masculine. It was a while before Heero let his guard down around me. I found that he was much more at ease when I wasn't wearing my uniform or if I let my hair down. I had to learn how to unwind again, something I haven't allowed myself since Mathew died. Gradually, I learned how to be my old self again and, in response, Heero learned to trust me.
Q: Had Dr. Reed acted on your orders when she came to see the prisoner?
A: Yes, of course.
Q: Let me remind you that you are under oath.
A: I am aware of that, sir.
Q: Somehow, I am doubtful. The three of you seem to have created a small family for yourselves. I am skeptic as to how much Dr. Reed had acted on your orders, compared to how much she was driven by a personal need to continue seeing the prisoner.
A: Dr. Reed already has a family: a husband, a son and a young daughter. She only aided me because I ordered her to do so.
Q: And Dr. Reed being your old-time friend had nothing to do with that assistance?
A: Is being friends with someone a crime? I don't see how that contradicts the fact that I've taken full responsibility for her actions, as they were done under my direct orders and supervision. Our friendship does not conflict with that fact.
Q: Perhaps. But the fact remains that, much like you, Dr. Reed refuses to inform us of the prisoner's current whereabouts.
A: That's because she doesn't know where he is. I was the one to smuggle him out of the base. Dr. Reed had nothing to do with it.
Q: So she had told her interrogator, but that fact still remains to be seen as his investigation progresses. For now, you are the one standing trial and I shall refrain from asking more questions regarding Dr. Reed.
A: Thank you, sir. I appreciate that.
Q: Tell me, have you tried asking the prisoner about the people who had hurt him? Has he confirmed the involvement of General Madison?
A: No, I haven't asked him. Like I said before – Heero doesn't speak at all. I've been advised that the best thing for me to do is be as supportive as possible and never push him into talking. I struggle to keep my frustration and anger to myself as I wait for him to start talking on his own. I'm aware of the fact that he will require professional help, as he might suffer from posttraumatic stress and depression, but for now, I simply focus my efforts on making him feel safe and comfortable. I do what I can to make sure that he's feeling at ease. I know that asking him about what happened is out of the question. Heero needs more time before he could deal with what he's been through. When the time comes and I feel that he is ready, I will acquire the assistance of a professional therapist.
I know that Heero suffers from terrible nightmares; I can hear him scream at night. He won't sleep without a small light on. Sometimes I come to check up on him at night, to make sure that he is sleeping peacefully. I leave a glass of warm milk by his bedside, just in case he needs it. When he can't sleep at all, I stay with him and we watch television together. I'd like to believe that my presence reassures him somehow, that he feels comforted when I'm around. Of course, it might only be my wishful thinking, but Heero doesn't push me away so I keep telling myself that I must be doing something right.
Lately, he had even picked up a hobby. He likes to work with his hands, now that he can use them properly again. He does a lot of carpentry work. I think it's very therapeutic for him; he seems content when he's at it.
Q: You grew attached to him.
A: Yes, of course. It's only natural, isn't it? I suppose that Heero evoked something in me, something that had been absent ever since the day Mathew died. In a way, I felt like a mother again.
Q: Let me remind you that he is a 'Class A' war criminal.
A: That might be true, but in many ways, Heero is still just a boy. And yet... at twenty-two years of age, he had already been through more than you can possibly imagine. Sometimes, even I can't wrap my head around it. Sometime, I forget what he's been through and all I see is a young man who's quiet demeanor reminds me so much of Mathew. Do you have any children, Admiral?
Q: I do, three of them.
A: Wouldn't you still love them, no matter what they did?
Q: Lt. General, Annika, Heero Yuy is not your son. Even if he was, you would still be standing trial for providing a condemned war criminal with shelter.
A: If he were my son, Admiral, he would have never been convicted the way he had. I would have fought for him. I would have made sure that the whole damn world fought for him. I would have made sure that he'd at least get a fair trial; Heero deserves it. People forget all too easily what he had done for them, for all of us. I've read the OZ reports, I'm sure you have too. Yes, he is guilty of taking the lives of hundreds if not thousands, but so is every military man or woman who had given orders to wage battle in that bloody war.
I've heard rumors that the Preventers' Head Director Une – then a high ranking OZ officer – had ordered nuclear weapons to be launched at both Earth and the Colonies, on various occasions. It was Heero and his fellow pilots who had stopped her. However, Une was never prosecuted the way the Gundam pilots were – why is that? Is it because she had the right connections, the right rank to be ordering mass murder?
The whole meaning behind trialing criminals of war is to make sure that they cannot hide behind ranks and politicians. But hardly any Alliance or OZ officers were trialed for their crimes. No, the prosecution was after the Gundams. It seems to me that Heero's biggest crime was that he lacked an official rank and the proper political support. Is that what gave them the right to make him into a scapegoat?
He was found guilty simply because he lacked an affiliation with the right people. Even Foreign Minister Darlian's testimony was twisted so it could be used against him. No one else stood in his defense. All of the other pilots went to hiding. Preventer Agents Sally Po and Lucrezia Noin were deemed unfit to testify, with no reason at all, and the public accepted that. It was hardly a fair trial, merely a collection of circumstantial evidence that allegedly proved Heero's guilt in the whole damn war!
Heero never stood a chance against the judges, they had already condemned him as a criminal; they never planned on hearing him out. It's no wonder he had refused his right to tell his side of the story, he knew that there was no point in him testifying. The world wanted someone to blame for its anguish and grief; Heero was doomed to lose that trial. He simply accepted his role as the despicable scapegoat and allowed them to lock him up.
I wonder, why is it that after a war ends, only the winners dictate what's wrong and what's right? Are the people on the losing side less than human because their leaders had lost a war?
Just because there's some twisted random rule telling us that history belongs to the winners, we allow ourselves to disregard the crimes the winners themselves had committed. Was is it all right for the Americans to proudly display the Enola Gay– a plane responsible for carrying the bomb that had murdered over sixty thousand people – in a museum, but to deny the Japanese the right to honor their fallen in battle? Was it right for the Americans to trial their enemies on the charges of crimes against humanity, but they themselves lived happily with the fact that they had dropped deadly bombs on two civilian cities?
Q: We are not here to debate history or the future for that matter. We are dealing with the present.
A: Sitting here, you and I are taking an active part in writing history. We are giving the future generations an excuse to disregard the sacrifices the Gundam pilots had made for humanity. Denying what they have done is in itself a crime against humanity. In many ways, the Eve Wars are no different than World War Two. Humanity still hadn't learned its lesson. No matter how large a scale war we wage, no matter how many people suffer and die, we still don't get it: there are no winners or losers. We are all sinners.
Q: Some are more sinful than others. You are forgetting the atrocities committed by the Japanese and the Germans during World War II. Any humanitarian would tell you that the acts they had performed on their occupied populations were far worse than dropping an atom bomb or two. You said so yourself in regard of the Holocaust, just moments ago. 
A: Yes, I cannot argue with that. But both the Japanese and the Germans had learned their lesson. They prospered and taught their young about the past so that mistakes wouldn't be repeated. That's what the losers do – isn't it? They lick their wounds and try to better themselves. And what do the winners do? Do you know that most Americans didn't even know that they were the only country of their time to have used nuclear weapons against civilians? And why was that – because they were the winners of that war; they could rewrite history all they wanted.
Q: Firstly, they never denied that fact, and they took anti-proliferation measures to stop others from using such weapons. Secondly, you are speaking of something that happened centuries ago. What the Americans did on August 1945 AD would be considered an act of terror in our days. Things have changed.
A: Have they really? What have we learned from history, sir? What changed, exactly? We still think that it is all right to ignore the people on the other side of the fence. We still believe that as long as we win we are right. And who decides who the winners are and who are the losers? The Gundams fought for the freedom of all mankind and they were still condemned as losers. They were considered unworthy of our acknowledgement of the role they had played in achieving global peace.
Q: That is because they acted against the law – the same law we are debating right now. They were – by every definition – a group of terrorists. It does not matter if you call them 'Freedom Fighters', 'Fighters for Peace' and whatnot. It does not matter if some people saw them as damn martyrs. The fact remains that they used deadly force to perform premeditated, politically motivated acts of violence against noncombatant and combatant targets alike. You yourself have implied that 05 had performed an act of terror by killing cadets in their sleep. The Gundams have fired at important civilian officials and even attacked their own colonies. The same prisoner you are sheltering had shot down a plane full of peaceful diplomats who were ready to resolve the crisis.
A: I cannot believe that you believe that OZ propaganda. It was a set up, the Gundams fell right into it, but it was not their fault. If Heero would have been allowed a fair trial, then the truth would have come out.
Let me remind you that Heero had also fired at a piece of the Libra station that was about to destroy the planet, and he had aided in the containment of the Marimeia rebellion. He had ended it with his own hands, and in the risk of his own life. What did we do to show our gratitude? We incarcerated him, threw him into a dark cell and forgot all about him while sick men tortured him for over two years. Where were your law and justice then, sir? Where was that all-mighty law you rely on? Where were justice and righteousness when humanity turned its back on its own savior?
Q: I am not the one standing trial here, Lt. General.
A: No, humanity is. And I think that it's losing, sir. How could we have condemned a boy who had proven himself to the world, who had actually saved the Earth from destruction on a few occasions – how dare we imprison him as a war criminal?
Q: Lt. General, you've already confessed for releasing the prisoner from custody. Let us end this. Why won't you tell me where you're hiding him?
A: Never. Not until you prosecute the men who did this to him. I've presented you with enough evidence. You have medical reports, forensic reports and even more physical evidence waiting for you down in that cell. What will it take to convince you that a terrible crime has been committed, and that Heero is not the one to have committed it? He is a victim of a corrupted political system; a victim of our ignorance and neglect. He deserves much more than to be treated like a criminal, like a lower human being. How can you overlook what had been done to him? How can you turn your back on this?
Q: We've convened here to determine whether or not you are guilty of treason and all you do is criticizing this court.
A: This is not a court, Admiral. This is you and me, one on one, trying to make sure that justice is served. Please, help me. Help Heero. The face that I've been summoned to a Special Court Martial is evidence enough that you don't intend to deal me a heavy sentence. You've unjustly called for an Article 39a session to try to keep this matter from leaking out, trying to keep the dirty laundry within the ranks. I'm asking you to let people know what happened here. You can trial me and punish me however you see fit, if that's what it would take for justice to be served.
Those people had hurt Heero in ways you and I can barely even begin to imagine. They had abused him, used him and left him for dead to be killed when the old wing was to be demolished. How can justice be served if those men are still running free? How can we call ourselves a just and peaceful society when we ignore our own mistakes and turn the other way when a crime is being committed? The ESUN prides itself on high morals and values. If you allow this matter to go unnoticed and unsolved, then the government you stand for is nothing but a lie. All that we have fought for, all the casualties we had suffered – like my son – would be in vain. Can't you see that?
FURTHER RECORDS ARE CLASSIFIED AS TOP SECRET.
The Military Judge commented as follows:
I do not have any question as to the commitment of a terrible crime against prisoner Heero Yuy. Further investigation will be needed to determine the full extent of the foul scheme that had undergone for over two years under the command of General Earl Madison (retired).
As for Lt. General Annika Larson, I do have a question concerning the decision to prosecute her for aiding in the escape of said prisoner. While there is no doubt that protocol has been breached, I see no need to deliver a harsh sentence. Considering the fact that Lt. General Larson had exposed a far more terrible crime and was willing to take full responsibility for her actions, I announce that the Motion of Defense to dismiss the charges is hereby granted. It would be necessary to communicate this ruling to the convening authority to determine his desires with regard to disposal of the charges. In the meanwhile, Lt. General Larson had requested a year long sabbatical, which I feel has been long overdue. Her request was approved by me.
Furthermore, proper investigation regarding the crimes committed against Heero Yuy under the command of General Earl Madison should commence as soon as possible. Warrant Officer James K. Merit, Chief Warrant Officer Eugene C. Kalsik and Second Lieutenant Clayburn M. Paless should also be held accountable for their crimes and their accomplices should be sought out and brought to justice. The Prosecution should make use of Lt. General Larson's testimony and the evidence she had presented to the court.
In regard of the Prosecution's demand that Dr. Andrea Reed would be charged as Lt. General Larson's accomplice, it is hereby denied. Dr. Reed will not be charged with misconduct on account of the deeds committed in regard of prisoner Heero Yuy.
As for the handing over of prisoner Heero Yuy and the revealing of his unknown whereabouts, I announce that he shall remain under the custody of Lt. General Larson and kept where she sees fit during her sabbatical. After a period of one year, the Prosecution may request information regarding the prisoner's location and also his cooperation in the investigation, which will only be given if a doctor had deemed him healthy enough to offer it.
The court adjourned at 1020 hours, 30 January, AC 202.
* * *
 On a side note, I chose to deal with historic issues (WWII) because I fear that referring to current events – such as the war in Iraq, the War on Terror, the Arab-Israeli conflict, etc. – might hit a bit too close to home for some people. While I do have a lot to say on those matters, I choose not to. After all, reading a fan-fiction story should be fun and politics should be set aside (no?). Still, you are more than welcomed to comment on anything I've written here. Just don't flame me about anything that might have ticked you off... express your opinion kindly, please. (Who am I kidding – I'll consider myself lucky if this story even gets a review, flame or no flame...).