Lucky’s Luck — Chapter 1: Misfortune of Lucky
This is the first chapter of what I is going to be a long science fiction story broken up into small, easily digestible parts. I hope you enjoy it! Comments very much welcomed and appreciated!
I stomped around the gravel path of the gardens of the Justicar Palaces, letting my stormy thoughts of some fantastical triumphalist legalese revenge-fantasy slowly wash away in the pleasant smells of the plants around me. It was here, in the quiet gravel paths of the gardens, that I could let my mind come to terms with what had happened. I took deep breaths of the multitude of scents, my gaze becoming preoccupied by the geometric arrangement of the colourful wall-flowers made more striking by the sunlight shining upon them. But I was still seething, and my mind quickly wandered back, picking at the wound, refusing to let it heal.
I had lost the leadership of the legal case I had been building, and the entire case had collapsed in record time. A noble had opened negotiations with Owners of some land to sell it to them for a massive reduction in its actual value. The Owners had said no, and that should have been the end of it. But the noble was going to get the land one way or another. They started to threaten and harass the Owners, using their influence with their underlings to try and reduce the value of the land, to force the Owner’s hands into selling. There had only been a case because the Owners had been friends of a friend, whom had referred me to their plight. I sought to bring the Owners some redress, and had taken their case. I spent many laborious months investigating and documenting, proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the noble had acted illegally.
We went to trial, and made some headway there for a time. Then, the Head of Justicars summoned me, and told me that I was being replaced with another prosecutor; Justicar Rinse, whom I knew- everyone knew- to be completely out of her depth. Her speciality in legal laws surrounding the agricultural municipalities did not lend itself to this entirely urban civic case- the two practices operated on two different planes of existence not only in terms of which areas of laws they covered, but the way they were practiced. I had tried to help her as much as I could, but the Justicars of the Defense had sensed the sudden shift in power, and capitalised on it. Rinse was simply not able to keep up with the shifty underhanded practices of civic municipal cases, and I could only watch from the sidelines as the case was slowly picked apart, killing it with grand gestures, and ragging on its corpse for much longer than needed.
The verdict was reached an hour ago, and I had lost. I was thankful that it had finally ended, but also angry. In my mind, the reason for my replacement was simple; if I had won the case would be appealed by the noble and would have been taken to the higher courts. This would raise the profile of this once unknown case and put it in the public eye. It would establish a precedence that victims of noble misdeeds could seek redress in some measure, provided the proper evidence was gathered. This, apparently, was unacceptable to the Government, and completely unsurprising to me.
It was not unusual for the Government to take an interest in some cases from time to time, and not at all unprecedented for them to exert some pressure to swap a few players around in key cases; yet somehow I, and my benefactor, had expected this case to fall through the cracks of the sheer quantity of work that the Justicars did. We had been naive. The Government had exerted their pressured on the Head of Justicars to replace me. I could not- would not- blame Justicar Rinse for the loss. She was an unfortunate victim picked at random, and no doubt glad she could go back to her speciality. My temper began to rise as I continued to pick at the mental wound. The reminder of how things had changed over the last decayear of being a Justicar rumbled through my mind completely unwelcomed. The nobles had become increasingly emboldened and forced through ever more privileges to expand their power, and the Justicars had to clench their fists and perpetuate their ridiculous demands. Each month, the Government seemed to go from one crisis to another without ever solving anything, only resolving to try and further deteriorate and interfere with the power of the Justicars. If this kept up, the Justicars would soon become a rump of what they once were; a rubber stamping authority for the government to appear legitimate. It was intolerable. I hadn’t joined the Justicars for it to become a shell of its old grand self; the one I had read about in history books and whose members I aspired to model myself after.
I forced out the thoughts of the result and my concerns about the way things were going. There would be nothing good in dwelling on them; especially the latter. If I slipped up, and spoke about my concerns out loud, word would quickly get out that I had voiced some kind of criticism of the Government, and would be misconstrued by other Justicars. It could be twisted into something that could land me in serious trouble, even expulsion. I forced my mind to be still. I was soon calm again, and I began to appreciate the surroundings again; staring into individual flowers and attempting to rationalise a mental mathematical model on their design, preoccupying my thoughts entirely.
The trance was broken when I felt something- no, someone- pull at my Justicar robes, and almost jumped; letting out a most displeasing sound which I quickly tried turning into a rumble of agitation and displeasure. I spun around and saw the fuzzy white hair of one of the Servants just below my line of sight. I gazed down towards to the grey-robe, who had jumped back slightly at my sudden movement, afraid I might shout or worse; hit them.
“What’s this then?” I spoke, making it sound more hostile than it actually was. I didn’t usually do this- I had a reputation for kindness towards the Servants- but I wanted to make sure that this one wouldn’t go spreading the word that I could be disturbed during my walks. The Servant quickly bowed low with mathematical precision and rose just as fast.
“Justicar Lucky, I didn’t- I mean” the Servant stammered, then remembered their role, their nervousness replaced by a professional confidence. “You have a summons from Servant Persistence. She requests your most humble audience at your earliest convenience. Servant Persistence also says that she apologises for the manner of this request; that she would have contacted your office but knew you would be unavailable until much later, but that she thinks this very important.”
“I hear and acknowledge. I suppose she didn’t tell you for what purpose she wants an audience? Does it perhaps have to do with my recent loss?” I said, forcing the bitterness of the word out. Telling myself I wouldn’t be bitter about the loss was much harder when I wanted to be bitter about it.
“Servant Persistence did not tell me, and it is not my place to speculate on her behalf.”
“I hear that. Tell Servant Persistence that I should visit her after a lap of the gardens.” The servant bowed quickly and precisely, and I watched them skip off and disappear from sight in the tall and winding wallflowers.
Normally, Servants didn’t make requests- unless there were extraordinary circumstances, as it was not in their station or their power to request something from the Justicars. Persistence was different. Though the Servants as an organization within the Justicars had no formal hierarchy, Persistence was considered by both Servants and Justicar alike to be the defacto head of it. After all, it wasn’t until she had arrived- disgraced, fallen from station, and much before my time- that the Servants turned from a disorganized rabble into the functioning system that kept the Justicar’s administration moving as fast as it did.
I had learned very early on that to make an ally and friend of Persistence was very good for one’s career; it was often joked that without her referrals, the Justicars would have to debate on the appropriate amount of lint in one’s pockets. She’d in fact referred the case I had just lost. I’d been initially hesitant to take it, but she had won me over through a convincing and simple arguments.
The case was open and shut; the noble had left evidence of their mischief all over the place, and gathering it would be a simple matter of administration. The caseload for the entire Justicar department was the busiest in the season; and only the most astute would notice this one particular case. That to win could set up some serious implications. That she had full confidence that I could live up to my name and pull a win.
She had appealed to my desire; my longing for positive change, and had managed to convince me. With her enthusiasm, my newfound conviction, and our longstanding relationship strengthened a little, I took the case.
With her network of Servants, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had known I had lost long before the verdict had been announced. Servants happened to be everywhere, and Justicars were always talking to each other about the particulars of their cases. I wondered if she was disappointed by the result. I decided then to skip walking the rest of the way around the gardens, and began to make my way towards the Servants Administration building, where Persistence’s office was buried.