The Fugly Girl Incident: Chapter Two
Chapter Two: The Aftermath
Ta-Shra Devall slammed her fist down on the table with rage. “What the Duat is this mess?” she fumed, glaring at Bishop. The student council had met in their official chambers to discuss the fallout from the fiasco that had become known as, “The Fugly Girl Incident”. Two weeks had passed since the interaction between Bishop and Primrose in the Great Hall and rumours about what had happened had gotten out of hand. Bishop’s usually stellar reputation had plummeted and even Foundation was floundering in the ratings. Even the annual celebration of Cupid, Duke of Doom’s birthday had been cancelled, along with the Cupid’s Day dance and accompanying celebrations.
“Why is it always my family?” Ta-Shra demanded looking at Bishop for an explanation. “First it was Panilla dressing up as me, making your brother pretend to be Arata. Now you’ve taken it upon yourself to call some girl ugly, so not only is my brother taking the blame for defending you, but Foundation’s events are being cancelled which means that neither Sa-Ankh nor Arata are getting the income they should! What have we Duatians ever done to you Gondorians?” she asked, her red on black eyes flashing.
A few months prior, Bishop’s older brother Duke had been involved in a scandal when he was accused of impregnating one of Ta-Shra’s best friends, Panilla, Princess of the Warrior Women. Eventually the true paternity of Panilla’s child had been uncovered but in the process Ta-Shra’s name had become embroiled in the drama. Now her older brother Sa-Ankh was being blamed for siding with his friend against one of his subjects and that was only the beginning of their troubles. The Devall Imperial Family of Duat were one of the most powerful but conversely one of the poorest in The Alliance, they needed the income from Foundation almost as much as Bishop’s best friend Arata who happened to also be Ta-Shra’s boyfriend.
“You do realise that Primrose and Branwen are Duatians, don’t you?” Pigfoot, another member of the student council said before Bishop could make any response. “They’re the ones who started this mess.” Pigfoot and the other members of the student council had been sitting in their usual places at the first table which had been directly next to the one at which Bishop had been sitting. Usually, Bishop sat with them, whilst his bandmates and acolytes sat on the second table, but on the day when Primrose had approached him, Foundation had been going over their plans for their performance at the Cupid’s Day Dance, so Bishop had joined them.
“Obviously, I’m aware of that,” Ta-Shra replied rolling her eyes. “Isn’t that what I just said? The trouble is Bishop should have just told Primrose what she wanted to hear, not sat there, and agreed with her like an idiot.”
“I simply followed my grandmother’s advice,” Bishop sighed. Usually, he was cheeky and fun loving but over the course of the last few years, ever since what happened to Ella, things had gone from bad to worse for the Gondorian prince and his family. “Besides, I’m betrothed to your niece so how could I call another girl pretty?”
“Let’s get on with what we came here for shall we?” Ta-Shra’s best friend Lorraine cut in before Ta-Shra had a chance to reply. Lorraine was the student council president and the most popular girl at school thanks to her reputation for being kind, caring and friendly.
Ta-Shra sighed and sat down whilst Bishop made a gesture of brushing off his clothes. When everyone had settled down, Lorraine turned to Vulpesia the student council historian and said, “Now then Vulpesia, what have you found out in regard to the current situation? Is there any historical precedent?”
“Yes,” Vulpesia replied with a nod as she stood up. “I’ve found that a similar situation happened about one hundred years ago when Lady Ruffa Thanmost of Bim was the president of the school council.
In Lady Ruffa’s time a girl from Lilit called Nani of Pua was slighted by a boy from Rodens whose name was Alfeo of Dor. Much like now, a scandal broke out at the school and caused disruptions to school life so Lady Ruffa decided that there should be a trial to decide the guilt or innocence of Alfeo.”
“I’ve heard of this,” Lorraine said thoughtfully. Her younger stepsisters Vineen and Momo were half Rodenian and as such Lorraine and her sisters had learned as much as possible about the history of the now uninhabitable planet. “The trial was conducted by Lady Ruffa herself; I believe. Lady Ruffa was the judge whilst the rest of the council acted as the jury.”
“That’s correct,” Vulpesia agreed. “Alfeo was eventually found guilty of the slight and he was forced to leave the school. The rest of his education was conducted on Rodens. There’s little mention of him in the Adharian historical archives after that. It appears Alfeo never came back to the station and did not join the Alliance military service.”
“I see,” Ta-Shra nodded. “This could have more serious consequences than I had first imagined.”
“Could it?” Heftier of Bim asked speaking up for the first time since the emergency meeting had begun. “Alfeo of Dor was in a completely different situation than Bishop, surely. I’ve never even heard of him or this, Nani of Pua person so neither of them could have been royalty or we would all know their names.”
There was a murmur of agreement from the rest of the council. Throughout their years at Adhara Academy they had been taught the history of most Alliance worlds so they each had more than a passing knowledge of the royal families of most planets but with the exception of Lorraine, no one had heard of either Nani or Alfeo until Vulpesia brought them up.
“It makes no difference if they were royalty or not,” Lorraine replied to Heftier’s suggestion. “All that matters is that there was a trial carried out by the student council to restore school life to normal. That’s the historical precedent and that’s what we should do now.”
A meaningful silence filled the room as Vulpesia and her best friend Sue, exchanged knowing glances. In the Alliance social rank meant everything from one’s socio-economic status within one’s own society to the rank of one’s planet within the alliance. Rank influenced every aspect of one’s life and the only reason Lorraine would suggest otherwise was because despite having been voted into her current position as President of the Student Council, she was the lowest ranked person there.
“So, you think we should put Bishop on trial?” Ta-Shra asked when no one else responded to what Lorraine had said. She glanced over at Voodoo-Lily, a cousin of Primrose but the girl was looking at her Com-D and seemed completely uninterested in the proceedings.
“Yes!” Lorraine said smiling, “And just as in the historic case, I’ll act as the judge in my capacity as the student council president.”
“No, you won’t!” an older voice cut in and the next moment Lorraine was shoved unceremoniously out of the way by Scully Golgotha, head Judge of the Alliance Supreme Court. “I’ll judge the case myself,” the older man said, taking Lorraine’s seat as she looked on in shock.
Scully cleared his throat with a satisfied twinkle in his ice blue eyes as he looked around the table at the astonished, young faces before him. His entrance had been just as surprising as he had intended. “This is a serious issue,” Scully said with the appropriate level of gravitas as he glanced at each of the student council members in turn. When his eyes landed on Voodoo-Lily, a look of annoyance passed over his face, “As the cousin of one of the parties involved in this issue and a friend of the other, I would have expected you to give these proceedings your full attention Voodoo-Lily!”
Voodoo-Lily raised her eyes from her Com-D and looked at Scully with a malicious smirk on her face. “I’m sorry,” came her disingenuous response. “It’s simply that Prince Asgar has been seen leaving The Tower a few minutes before Prince Serpentine arrived with Gatsby,” she said, lowering her Com-D. “This news can wait.”
Scully glared at Voodoo-Lily and fidgeted for a second, before shaking his head as if to clear his mind. He closed his eyes and exhaled slowly before saying, “My grandfather was at school when a similar case took place. In that instance there were two students called Nani of Pua and Alfeo of Dor…”
“We’ve already spoken about them,” Lorraine cut in more sharply than she had intended as she marched up to the table and stood at the corner between Ta-Shra and Heftier. Toning back her voice she said, “What I meant to say was that Vulpesia has already informed us of that case. That’s the historical precedent we were speaking about when you… arrived.”
Scully exhaled slowly. “My grandfather was at school when a similar case took place. In that instance there were two students called Nani of Pua and Alfeo of Dor. Nani is a Lilitian and she had decided that she wanted Alfeo to be her consort. This was in a time before Krumpus and Barbarius,” he explained meaningfully as he chose to completely ignore Lorraine.
A murmur went around the table as the students tried to take in what they had heard. Lilit had once been part of the Duatian Empire but had become independent centuries before. Lilitian culture centred around seduction and procreation with most Lilitians never choosing a permanent consort and instead choosing to breed with as many individuals as possible to maintain genetic diversity. For a Lilitian noble woman to make a request for perpetual joining was rare enough as it was but for her to be rejected was quite another thing entirely. Alfeo had not slighted Nani, he had insulted and embarrassed her in the worst possible way.
“That can’t be right,” Lorraine said, involuntarily shaking her head. “If the matter was that serious Lady Ruffa shouldn’t have been allowed to preside over the case.”
“And that,” Scully smirked, the skull-like birthmarks on his face taking on a sinister appearance as his ice blue eyes flashed, “…is why I should judge the case myself.” He had caught Lorraine in his trap, making her provide the very reason why she should not take the coveted position of judge. “During the case of Nani of Pua and Alfeo of Dor, my grandfather Maxilla, who was Historian at that time, did his best to provide all historical and legal precedents for the case. The result was that Alfeo, his good friend ended up being found guilty and expelled from the school and though my grandfather felt remorse for the rest of his life. He was forced to go into a lucrative career in the law. Something he barely enjoyed.”
“And that’s why you, your father and your son have all gone into the law, is it?” Lorraine asked sardonically, her mask of kindness momentarily slipping.
“Yes, it is you rude child,” Scully replied angrily. The judge was not accustomed to being spoken to in this manner, especially by someone who was still at school. “After my grandfather inadvertently helped ruin his friend’s life, he vowed that he would never let anything like that happen again. He went into the law so that he could protect people from such injustices. His son, my father, followed in my grandfather’s footsteps and I in his and so on to the present generation. That’s why I’m here. To make sure that this trial is conducted fairly and justly.”
There was a silence as Lorraine tried to think of a way to wheedle the role of judge out of Scully’s hands but eventually, she seemed to realise that this was futile. “Then I suppose, the rest of the student council and I will act as the jury,” she said at last.
Scully thought for a moment, “Hmm, no. I think not. If there’s no objection, you Lorraine and Little Ta-Shra here will act as Primrose’s council and you will present her case against Bishop,” he said, flashing a toothy smile.
Before Lorraine could reply Ta-Shra had cut in, “Yes, there’s a rather big objection. I don’t want to help Primrose and even if I did, I couldn’t. She’s pulled my brother’s name into the mess claiming that he sided with Bishop. Bishop’s fiancée is my niece Lavender, they became betrothed over the summer and the union was due to be finalised on Cupid’s Day, as is tradition. Isn’t that called “a conflict of interest” or something like that?” Ta-Shra did not bother mentioning that her boyfriend Arata was Bishop’s best bro. The information would have been redundant as it was a commonly known fact in their social circle.
Scully nodded, “No,” he said thoughtfully. “I can see what you mean but in fact instead of being the reason that you can’t help Primrose, it shows why you should. She’s one of your father’s subjects after all. You have no choice but to defend her.”
“That’s a shame,” Lorraine said trying to fight back a smile. “I suppose with Ta-Shra acting on Primrose’s behalf, I have no choice but to defend Bishop.”
“No,” Scully replied, his smile becoming even more malicious. “You’ll have to work alongside Little Ta-Shra. It’s a known fact that the two of you are best friends. If you work on Bishop’s defence and win, no-one will believe that Ta-Shra didn’t help you by telling you everything she intends to argue. No. You’ll have to help support Primrose.”
Lorraine was about to object but before she could do so Scully continued, “And besides, as the president of the S. C. you can’t defend Bishop, the third chair. The S. C. is supposed to work on behalf of the entire student body. You can show that the council is impartial by working against Bishop.”
“Wait a minute!” Bishop cut in after remaining silent for so long. “Who’ll defend me? I’ve done nothing wrong and didn’t you just say that your motive for turning up here and demanding to be the judge in a school proceeding was because you want to make sure this trial is fair and just? If that’s the case, why did you instruct Lorraine to work against me?
Scully sighed and turned to look at Bishop who was sitting on his left. “I am doing this to make sure that the trial is fair,” the older man said, speaking in a significantly friendlier tone than he had used when Lorraine had interrupted him. “If you’re proven innocent of insulting Primrose but it seems that your friends have helped you, the rumours and speculation will never die down. It’s already a miracle that you have any reputation left to speak of, what with your brother Tsar’s evil antics or Duke’s problems,” Scully explained.
“What I said about the student council working for the entire student body is also true and Primrose is a student at this school too. The odds are already stacked against you because all of the potential witnesses have a connection with you, as your friends, family, fans or colleagues from the S. C. Even still because of your social rank, position at school and visibility with your band, it is necessary to make sure that you aren’t seen to be given any preferential treatment at all.
“I see,” Bishop said slinking back into his chair. “But that doesn’t answer the question of who will defend me.”
“I will,” Vinod said scrapping his chair against the floor as he got to his feet. “I was sitting far enough away that I didn’t hear exactly what was said during the incident and Bishop and I haven’t exactly been on the best of terms for the last year or so,” the Ajnian boy explained.
“Very good,” Scully said with a toothy grin. “Now that that’s all taken care of, I’ll take my leave,” the judge said relinquishing Lorraine’s seat at last and walking over to the door.
Apparently having remembered something Scully turned back when he reached the door. “One last thing,” he said, all the humour gone from his face. “I expect to hear from both sides within the next two days in regard to your witness and evidence lists. Don’t even think about discussing this matter any further amongst yourselves. The trial will begin in exactly one month. See you then.” With that Scully was gone, leaving the student council looking at each other in shocked silence.
Did you notice that Scully allowed a mind reader to be Bishop’s council? Lorraine asked hastily sending a message to Ta-Shra via her Com-D.
So what? Ta-Shra replied.
I can do that too.
|The connections between some characters mentioned.|