PANTHERA and LEO
On Trial For Treason (part 4)
by Bevie James
Panthera sat shocked. She knew Panteskus was up to something clever, but this was a surprise to even her. And to Ursa Drake. She sat with a look of incredulity. Simthara may have been shocked, but she was too angry to show it.
“What do you mean, Pelage is not a criminal? Of course she’s a criminal! That was determined by the Court of Gambol.”
Panteskus shook his head. “Kangaroo court.”
“You would insult a Court of the People?” asked Simthara.
“No,” said Panteskus. “But Gambol’s court was not a court of the people. It was a court of kangaroos and apes. Pelage was guilty before it began. That is why the People of Cats fought so hard to have Panthera assigned to bring Pelage back. We wanted to make sure she made it back.”
“What are you implying?” said Simthara.
“Nothing. I think I’ve made my point quite clear.”
Simthara was furious, but it seemed to Panthera that she had been caught off guard by Panteskus’ accusation. In any case, instead of launching another tirade against him, she turned to Ursa Drake for help.
“Adjudicator, must we listen to these insults?”
To Panthera’s surprise, Ursa Drake did not criticize Panteskus for his words. Instead, she seemed thoughtful. She glanced at Simthara and then looked back to Panteskus.
“So what are you suggesting? Do we put Pelage on trial again?”
“If there is doubt, it seems the right thing to do,” said Panteskus.
“What doubt?” asked Simthara. “The Gambol Court made its decision. Why did the People of Cats not make an appeal at that time?”
“Because, unlike certain other people, we of the Cats are a cautious people. A thoughtful people. We gather evidence before acting.”
“And are you saying you have acquired new evidence?” asked Ursa Drake.
“What evidence?” asked Simthara.
Panteskus looked at Panthera. “The fact that Panthera actually caught Pelage. And then let her go. What other reason can there be than that Panthera knows Pelage is innocent?”
Simthara cackled, unafraid to show her contempt. Ursa Drake smiled.
“I can think of another reason. Panthera didn’t want to be the one to bring her lover back for sentencing. She’s a traitor, too. That’s why we’re here, Panteskus.”
“No. We are here because Pelage has been wrongly convicted of treason. She wasn’t even here to defend herself. Now Panthera is facing the same fate. All because she learned the truth: that Pelage is innocent.”
“So you say,” said Simthara. “But we must needs deal with facts. What facts do you have to present, Panteskus?”
“The facts are inside Panthera’s head. All we need do is question her.”
The room went silent. All eyes shifted from Panteskus to Ursa Drake. How would she deal with this? She addressed Panthera directly.
“It seems we are back to you, Panthera. Please present your evidence.”