“Condemn the man whose acts are malign,
Even if his motivations are divine.”
– Ran Bai Ning, 1963-2034
“Hesitate to judge the man whose story is unknown,
Especially to the man where piety is shown.”
– Wu Mao Ling, 1994-2054
Five-hundred metres below the surface of an undisclosed location within the Grand Nation of Sinoa Doctor Radigan Erh-Lang was chained by his legs to a chair which was bolted to the floor. The room was cold. Cold enough that the thin man shivered. He trembled while he waited for his captors to come into the room. They had given him grey clothes to match the metal walls and table, with a designation of ‘D63A’ over his left breast pocket. He had been in the cell for forty hours. In that time, he had been given some bread and water, and little more than a grunt from the guard who gave it to him. He had been, in his opinion, unfairly incarcerated. An amount of pride filled his personality over the work he did as a research scientist. Others thought differently…
The door squeaked on its hinges. Footsteps echoed softly from the heels that stepped in, meanwhile the clunking of boots came after them. The guards placed a chair across the table from the doctor, and with an odd stillness the woman sat down. She was dressed in a formal black suit, not a single dash of colour in her clothes or her face. She hadn’t even glanced towards the man sitting opposite her, instead focusing on a folder she’d brought along with her. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a recording device. She set the device on the table and turned it on.
She spoke clearly and loudly, “This is a recording of the interview of Erh-Lang, formally known as Doctor Radigan Erh-Lang PhD, taking place on the sixteenth of March twenty-sixty-eight.” There were a few moments of silence as she put her folder down on the table and ticked a checkbox. “Please say your name for confirmation, doctor.”
With a deep breath and fixed eyes, he complied, “My name is Doctor Radigan Erh-Lang PhD, I am fifty-eight years old, and my field of study is-” he was cut off by the woman.
“We did not ask for that.”
In an attempt to make the silence less tense he queried her. “What is your name?”
“My name is not something you need to know. Tell us why you are here, Erh-Lang.” Her eyes had come to rest on him for the first time since she entered the room. Her mind took notes and calculated away at details like his short-greyed hair, his rimless glasses, a small nick in his stubble from shaving.
“Why I’m here?” he gasped as he looked up at the two guards stood by the locked door. He shuffled his feet and the shackles rattled. “I’m being held here against my will as a free citizen of-” before he could finish the sentence he had been whacked in the face with the end of a gun by one of the guards. They walked back over to the door. The woman waited.
“Tell us why you are here, Erh-Lang.”
He spat some blood to his side. One of the guards began to step forward but the woman raised her hand and stopped him. She waited while Radigan scrunched his nose and again spat blood to the floor. With a heavy breath he said, “I am being held here… for my crimes against the nation of Sinoa… of Sinoa’s leaders… and of Sinoa’s people.”
The woman marked off another box on her checklist. “Tell us specifically to which crimes you refer to.” She looked into his eyes. His were blue. Hers were grey.
“I refer to the crimes of passion,” the guard started to walk closer, “and of discovery!” he began to shout as he was again hit in the face. He almost doubled over to the side in pain. The bruising appeared almost immediately, and the guard walked back over to his post. The other guard stood resolute.
“I repeat in the case of your damaged hearing, tell us of what specific crimes you refer to.” She remained still in her chair, one hand hovered above her checklist with the pen. Radigan leaned over so that the blood drained out of his mouth. All he tasted was copper.
“Damaged hearing…” he muttered, but as he noticed the footstep of the guard he raised his head and spoke, “I refer to my crimes of theft and assault.”
“And?” demanded the woman.
“And?” mocked the man sat across from her. She looked at him for a few seconds before she flicked to another page in her folder and brought down the pen to another box. Tick. She flicked back. “…And of my crimes of public and private property damage, trespassing, treason, and moral obscenity.”
The edge of the woman’s mouth curled up momentarily. “So, you are saying that you knew the consequences of your actions?” She ticked another box.
“I am saying that I knew the consequences of my actions,” he began soft but grew loud, “I would have brought along a better world, a utopia unseen before by mankind. My actions were for the benefit of all and it was your actions, the hellish bureaucracy of soldiers that cost not only the lives of those people but the future of humanity!” Both of the guards stepped forward but were stopped by the raised hand of the woman. Her nails were trimmed very close to the ends of her fingertips, and she wore over them a coat of white polish. She looked over at the doctor, looked at his frail and hunched form. She reached out to the recorder and stopped it. She placed down her pen.
“Doctor, it may seem to you that you are gaining something by prolonging this scenario, but you are not.” She stated matter-of-fact. Her speech was quick and allowed only for the slightest hint of an informal accent. He guessed she had grown up in the southern regions of the country. “I have been sent here to get your confession for the acts which you committed, and your account leading up to the ordeal. No matter which court you are brought to trial with you will be found guilty. There is no-one in the nation, or outside of it, who would want to take your case. The quicker that you comply with this interview, the faster you can be placed somewhere slightly more comfortable, and possibly given something other than a slice of bread to eat. Now I think I’ll find you agree to this, so let’s not waste everyone’s time.” She stared at him after this. After a few brief moments he looked towards the guards whose faces remained behind helmets and masks. He decided to nod. “Thank you.” She reached to the recorder and switched it back on.
“You are saying that you knew the consequences of your actions?”
“The consequences of my actions were indeed known to me at the time.” He sighed.
“And thus, you admit that you know, and knew then, that what you were doing was wrong?”
Radigan mumbled as he looked down to the side. His mind and body were both beaten. He tried to think of anything else instead of his situation, but his mind was blocked out by the woman – the only face he had truly seen in almost two days.
“Can you please speak more loudly?” The ‘please’ sounded unnatural in her voice.
“Yes. I am, I was, aware that my actions were wrong.”
She ticked off another box on the long list. “And would you say, in your own words, that you were affected by incorrect views of reality and inadequate mental functioning?”
He was taken aback. “I am not mentally ill. I find the assertion of this insulting.” The woman sighed in response.
“…Doctor.” He fumbled with his lips in his teeth for a few seconds.
“Yes. I was affected by incorrect views on reality and inadequate mental functioning…” he looked down towards his feet. Tick.
“And do you remember when these events started?”
“I started my work early in the month of December.” His eyes focused on the middle space of the air in between him and the woman. His mind cast back to his memories.
“Does this refer to your practical application of your plans or the emergence of the concepts?”
“This refers to the practical application.” He responded in kind. The cogs of his mind began to gain speed.
“When would you say you had the concepts in your mind?”
A smile came to his face. “The concepts for my brilliant machine-” The first guard stepped forward. Radigan lowered his gaze as his smile vanished. “…The concepts for my machine which violated Sinoa… came to me in the July of twenty-sixty-seven.” He swilled some of the blood around his teeth. It stuck to the insides of his cheeks.
“Can you relate to us the events which transpired for these concepts to come to your mind? These concepts which damaged your home region and killed hundreds, injuring thousands?”
He glanced up at the guard who moved less. “May I have a drink of water first?”