It was night before the Zambrano family finished their dinner and received the call to help out at the high school. Guiseppe and Lisbeth got to the base location near the center of the former Cherry Hill Autonomous Zone. They arrived to find that the whole zone had been cleared aside from those who were in the gym, and the freeing of the korinthidons from their place in the zoo, where they had been forced together in small cages and not fed over the course of the day in the hope that they would start to turn on each other, allowed the troops to lock down all electronic communications coming from the gym. As far as could be determined, those who were in the gym were entirely unaware of what was going on outside, and that was clearly for the best. Guiseppe took his place with the imperial security officers who were on the street side after hugging his daughter, and she led a team into the school to get them in position near the locker rooms when the call came to clear the gym of whatever mischief was going on there and had been going on there since school ended. Lisbeth and the person in charge of the team waited for the call, and finally received it.
Upon receiving the signal Lisbeth sprinted through the locker rooms, pointing out the location where the boys’ and girls’ locker room ended in a small foyer before getting to the two double doors that led into the gym. With a nod from the head of the team, Lisbeth scanned her id, it turned green, and the security officers rushed into the gym, achieving complete tactical surprise on the people there. And that was a great shame, for the people inside the gym, who were in the process of preparing Molotov cocktails and dressing in black clothes and masks to attempt to hide their identities and preparing various “improvised” weapons for use in some sort of urban terrorism. With the security forces rushing in from the main entrance as well, it did not take too long before the group of would-be antifa terrorists (a tolerable redundancy) were properly disarmed and tied up. At this point the fun began.
As the would-be terrorists were caught in the act of preparing for their terrorism, there was no need to quibble about guilt. All of the people who were in that gymnasium before the security officers showed up were guilty, since none of them had reported their business to the security forces and received proper permission, not easy to come by, to serve as agent provocateurs. Since it was Lisbeth herself who had proven her loyalty to the state through her generous and timely information to her father, she was the only civilian in the area apart from the human and korinthidon members of the security forces who was going to be able to sleep well or at all that night. And since a formal trial to secure guilt or innocence was not needed, there was only the matter of people seeking to save their skins by revealing who the real brains of the operation were in the hope that exposing others as being the real movers and shakers would be enough to save their lives. It quickly became apparent that the security officers were not in a generous mood, even by the not particularly generous standards of Multipian security forces dealing with Marxist revolutionaries that could reasonably be expected. Lower ranked officers and the local police officers from Cherry Hill who had been added to the force to increase the numbers were busy for some time recording the confessions and attempts on the part of those present to dodge the full blame for their crimes against the state as well as against the korinthidons.
After some time Lisbeth thought of a question that was not being asked by the security forces and she quietly went up to the security officer in charge of the interrogations going on in the gym.
“Excuse me, sir,” she began politely.
“Yes?” the officer replied.
“Do you know who is responsible for the imprisonment of the korinthidons in the zoo and for their forcible removal from the streets?”
“I had not thought to ask,” the security officer said, and then realized that this would be a very fruitful area of study. “Is there anyone here who is bonded to a korinthidon?” the officer asked.
“I am,” Lisbeth said, and no one else there could say the same thing.
“Very well,” the officer said, smiling. “Is the dinosaur you are bonded to here?”
“Yes, she is,” Lisbeth nodded, and her friend ambled over beside her, showing off her teeth and claws in a very demure way, if you like that sort of thing.
“And can you recognize any people here who helped take the dinosaurs?” the security officer asked the young korinthidon, who nodded in response. “Who are they?”
The dinosaur looked intently at the face of a man that Lisbeth recognized as well.
“Oh, that’s Mr. _________, the biology teacher here,” said Lisbeth.
“Well, let’s interrogate him, then, to see what role he played in this, the officer said. The people looking at the interrogations shuddered to see such attention being directed their way, and the three quickly made it over to where the teacher was hogtied, with his belly to the gym floor.
“Would you like to explain why it is that you committed acts of evil against the royal korinthidons?” the officer in charge said.
“You can all rot in hell,” the teacher replied angrily. “I did nothing wrong.”
“Ah, now you are clearly mistaken about that,” the officer said. “You were involved in terrorist work, and were involved in falsely imprisoning animals with whom we are in a treaty relationship, a treaty which allows them to roam freely as they wish throughout all imperial territories.”
“Those monsters don’t deserve to live,” the teacher said.
“Why are you hostile to these noble creatures?” the officer replied.
“Noble creatures,” the teacher said contemptulously.
“They are,” Lisbeth said, “If you only could see it.”
“I suppose you led them here, didn’t you,” the teacher said.
“I suppose I did,” she replied.
“I think sometimes we take youth too granted and assume they are on our side,” the teacher said.
“I never sought to deceive anyone into thinking I was on your side,” she replied.
“I suppose you didn’t. You never showed any enthusiasm for our lessons on socialism or our struggle sessions,” the teacher commented.
“Why would I? Perhaps you did not think of me as an enemy, but I gave you no reason for you to think of me as an ally in your cause,” Lisbeth said. “But this is wasting time. What did you do to the dinosaurs, and why? This one here I found crying in my backyard this afternoon.”
“She escaped? That’s how she bonded with you, realizing that you were a friend to her and her kind when I mistakenly thought you were a friend to us,” the teacher said. “Strange how she knew you better than we did.”
“Why is that strange?”
The dinosaur looked at the teacher seriously, tilting her head.
“What say you,” the officer said to the dinosaur. To this, the dinosaur made a fierce sound, making it clear that she marked the teacher marked the teacher as an enemy.
Trying to save himself, the teacher replied, “I was asked by the people in charge of the cultural department to figure out a way to keep the dinosaurs from interfering with our efforts, so I figured out a way to isolate the dinosaurs from others and then surprise them and knock them out so that they could be collected together in the zoo and not be in our way.”
“You do realize that an attack on the korinthidons is an act of lese majeste,” the officer said.
“Rules, schmules,” the teacher replied.
“Let that be on your tombstone, I suppose,” the officer said. “Make sure to seize his documents and see what vulnerability he exploited against the dinosaurs, and let us make sure that this cannot happen again,” he said to an associate, who got from Lisbeth the location of his classroom and looked up property records to see where his house was located so that it could be thoroughly investigated, assuming that it had not been cleaned up already, and assuming correctly.
The process of investigating the condemned took course throughout the night, but after the initial processing work was done, there was no need for Lisbeth and the dinosaurs, so they were allowed to go home and get some rest, even if it was unlikely that there would be school tomorrow. Given the excitement of the previous day, it was thought that there would be no need for classes given that there needed to be the ceremonies and a decision on the punishment for this scum. By the time that morning came, an account of the previous day’s adventures had been recorded and well understood, and it became clear that a great deal of important decisions had been made by a few people, from the late emperor to his son and grandson, to Lisbeth, as well as a few of the dinosaurs.
Morning found most of the terrorists, those who were not able to demonstrate that they had been pressured to be there unwillingly, tied to various lightposts around the city of Cherry Hill, looking at the screens in the town that were around. The morning news told of the night’s events, giving a reasonable analysis of the death of the emperor by the assassin’s blade of the chief minister, and the successful mission at Cherry Hill. There was a speech by the emperor where he wept a bit and talked about his love for his father and his determination to rule the empire as well and with as generous as a spirit to all of the beings who were a part of the Multipian Alliance. After speaking there was a touching speech from the new crown prince, who spoke of his love for his grandfather and how much he had meant, and also about the horror of finding out that his tutor had been attempting to subvert him and his father. There was a speech from the head of the assembly about the importance of respecting authority and the horrors of rebellion.
And this is where the newscaster decided to switch to the reporter on the scene in Cherry Hill. Video cameras in the city now showed the unsuccessful revolutionaries being tied to the lightposts. “Here we see the results of this attempted coup against the emperor. Those who were captured in the rebellion have been tied to lightposts in the city where they sought to make their base against the empire. And it has been decided after their summary trials that they would suffer the trial by the ordeal of the korinthidon, where the noble dinosaurs who make up part of the triple alliance of Multipia who were unlawfully imprisoned in the city zoo without proper food and care will be free to avenge themselves on their enemies. Take a good look at those teeth and claws, they are not for show. As you are probably aware, most of the time the korinthidons are peaceful beings who enjoy eating plants and insects and other animals without troubling human beings, but when they are frightened by unfriendly humans the results can be unpleasant. And here the lovely beings are facing those who have hated and tormented them, and will determine who their enemies are and deal with them accordingly. What do you know about it, __________?”
The on-the scene reporter replied, without missing a beat, “We have here a couple of dozen korinthidons who were unlawfully imprisoned until they were freed last night, and right now they are waiting for the signal. According to the rituals of the ordeal of the korinthidon, each of the korinthidon will start with their most serious enemies first, and then move down through all who they judge from their understanding of the mood and attitude of those who have been convicted as being worthy of death, until those who are left alive are those whose attitudes have not completely hardened themselves in evil.”
“And how will the mood of these people be determined? One can imagine that the people who have been tied to the lightposts are pretty afraid of the dinosaurs and their sharp teeth and claws.”
“Of course they would be afraid. Who wouldn’t be? Technically, though, the dinosaurs are not determining the feeling of these condemned towards them, at least not after the first few who are personal enemies who were directly responsible for their suffering, but rather looking at the mood of the people towards the late emperor.”
“Ah yes,” the presenter said, a bit chagrined. It is at this moment that we will be watching a splitscreen presentation of a montage of scenes and photographs of the late emperor during the course of his life and reign, while also showing the ordeal of the korinthidons as they deal with the condemned terrorists and rebels.”
There is a slight pause, and then the montage of photos begins, and the korinthidons are given the racing gun as a signal to begin their testing of the character of the various condemned men and women and young adults who had been found to be involved in preparation for the attempt to overthrow the empire. The dinosaurs sniff the air and look around, giving each other subtle signals about which of the condemned are to die first based on the status of the dinosaurs and of the wrongdoers. After a few seconds of this communication, the dinosaurs race towards those most guilty and tear and bite, dismembering the condemned and leaving them bleeding corpses, torn to shreds. After finishing with one being, they move throughout the crowd of gagged and tied people, who are trying to move around but are unable to do so, trying to shake and wiggle themselves free before facing their inevitable and brutal demise. There is, in the meantime, a silence apart from the sound of the korinthidons making sounds of grim satisfaction at their execution of justice. Eventually, only a couple of people are left alive, and the dinosaurs tilt their heads at these and decide to let them live, and then the security forces in the area gather up the deceased for their burial in unmarked and unlamented tombs, while those who passed the ordeal breathe again and ask for a change of clothing and a quiet life where they can no more be troubled with the vision of being sliced and torn apart by these ferocious dinosaurs. And the presenter closes his presentation of these most important events with a statement of grim honesty before the screens around the empire fade to black, “Thus may it ever be to rebels.”