PANTHERA and LEO
On Trial For Treason (part 3)
by Bevie James
Simthara shifted in her chair.
“Forgive me, Adjudicator. It was the accusation. I reacted out of habit. It shall not occur again.”
Ursa Drake seemed satisfied. She turned her attention to Panteskus.
“Very good. So, Panteskus. What are you saying? I hope you are not accusing a judge of impropriety?”
Panteskus remained all manners and smiles.
“No, Adjudicator. Simthara has just reacted emotionally – as is her wont. I am sure she believes everything in her report is true. But that is why we have these trials: to determine if truth. My point is just that we have yet to determine a crime. Are there pieces to this puzzle which Simthara missed?”
Simthara’s anger had not abated, and Panteskus’ words fueled it. Panthera smiled at his baiting demeanor.
“No crime!” Simthara cried. “She held the criminal Pelage in her arms. Pelage was captured. But where is Pelage now? Free in Lower Earth. Why? Because Panthera let her go! That act makes her an accomplice.”
Ursa Drake allowed Simthara her outrage. Panthera suspected it was a compromise, for no doubt Ursa Drake understood Panteskus’ motives, too. The cat-and-mouse game was a game to be played with patience. That’s why the cats usually won.
“What have you to say to this, Panteskus?” Ursa asked. “Simthara’s argument is both strong and sound.”
“As far as it goes, yes,” said Panteskus. “But it fails to take into consideration the thinking of cats.”
Ursa Drake smiled. “Which is?”
“I can answer that!” said Simthara. Everyone turned to her. Simthara gave Panthera a look of loathing. “Pelage was once Panthera’s lover. There is no way Panthera could bring herself to being part of Pelage’s capture. So I warned from the beginning. I said we should have sent someone from the apes.”
“Do you honestly believe one of the People of the Apes could actually capture Pelage?” asked Panteskus.
“Don’t pretend you’re superior because you’re a cat,” said Simthara.
“I’m not pretending anything,” said Panteskus.
“How dare you!”
“How dare I what?”
Ursa Drake was now angry.
“Enough! Both of you! This is not about the People of Apes, or Cats. It is about Panthera, and whether she is, or is not, guilty of betraying our people in releasing Pelage. There is no question that she did that, Panteskus. That you must admit. I understand you’re wanting to see your cousin’s daughter exonerated, but I will not allow you to manipulate this trial for your own amusement. Do you understand?”
“I do, Adjudicator.”
“And you, Simthara. Control your temper, or I shall be forced to find a replacement.”
“I will, Adjudicator.”
“So. Panteskus. What is your point?”
“That Panthera cannot be guilty of treason if her actions were not against The People. For instance, if she held you, Simthara, and then let you go, there would be no crime.”
“But she didn’t hold me. She held Pelage.”
“So what are you saying?” asked Ursa Drake.
Panteskus smiled. “What if Pelage is not a criminal?”