We’d ended up outside of the decorative patio. Waiters danced around us, mostly humanoid. Halon and I scanned the tables for any sign of Cotto. “I don’t see her.” I finally decided.
Halon ground his teeth together, glancing around us nervously. “Looks like your bad feeling might have been right. Is Motor a slave dealer?”
I shook my head. “Sometimes on the side he’d get rid of bad mechanics. Mostly he worked on catching spies for the government.”
Halon’s eyes widened in horror. He stomped his foot, screaming curse words and attracting the attention of everyone around us. “Where did he go to turn them in?” He eventually spit out.
“But-but he wouldn’t take Cotto to the government. She doesn’t know anything useful.” I stammered uncertainly.
“I asked where he would turn in spies, not for your opinion.”
“At the courthouse, usually.” Halon had already started running. “Wait!” I sprinted to keep up. “He wouldn’t take Cotto there! She’s got nothing to do with the government!”
Halon didn’t answer. He stormed up the courthouse steps, shoving on the heavy oak door. Finding that it was locked, he rammed it with his shoulder until it opened. “I don’t think this is a good idea.” I began, stumbling after him.
“Wait outside Marina.”
His voice grew uncharacteristically loud and agitated. “I said wait outside!” He rushed inside of the courthouse.
I hesitated for a mere second before following. He pounded on the secretary’s desk urgently. “Did someone bring a woman in here and accuse her of being a spy at any point in the last few hours?”
The secretary was taken aback by his harshness. “Yes, a few minutes ago. She’s on trial in Courtroom A.”
Halon ran toward the doors to the courtroom. “Wait! You can’t go in there!” The secretary yelped.
Halon didn’t notice as I followed.
Cotto was handcuffed and standing before a judge. Her head was bowed, and her shoulders shook.
She turned to see Halon.
“Halon, don’t interfere with this.” Her voice wavered.
He looked up at the judge. “I don’t know what’s happening, but she isn’t a spy.”
The judge peered over his glasses. “Do you know her?”
“Yes, I’m the captain of the army transport cargo ship Radiance.”
“So you work closely with Ms. Alainee?”
Halon nodded eagerly. “She hasn’t done anything.”
I had to say something, but I couldn’t find the words. Halon was born on Nitana, not Baltienna. The court systems were different—there was no fair trial. If the judge even thought you looked guilty, then you were. Sometimes you didn’t even get to speak before you were executed.
“I think they’re conspirators.” The judge said accusatorily.
“I’ll tell you anything you want if you let her go.” Halon pleaded.
“Halon! Halon, don’t you dare!” Cotto screeched. “Don’t tell them anything!”
“I have to! They’re going to hurt you.”
She glared furiously. “I will never forgive you! They can’t do anything to me worse than you speaking a word!” Tears streamed down her face. “Don’t betray my trust like this.”
Cotto was an angel. The gift of the sweetest, happiest girl to ever live. And she was crying.
I couldn’t stop myself. I burst the whole way through the door and sprinted toward Cotto. The judge wouldn’t let Halon and Cotto talk for much longer.
They both exclaimed at the same time. “Marina!”
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