Part 1: The media mapping initiative

With advancements in facial recognition and micro-expression analysis, a project went underway analyzing all the videos and images of the past centuries and tracking individuals throughout their lives.

Visionary companies at the second half of the 21st century had started acquiring data — back then optical and magnetic storage, such as ancient DVDs and hard drives used in the beginning of the century — and storing them for future usage.

Later on, the data became available and projects started analyzing everything and categorizing it by individual, tracking travel patterns, mood statistics, everything that one could think of.

Individuals were recognized not only on their own media but also on other people’s. Whenever a tourist had grabbed a picture of a monument in a foreign city, the expressions of those walking about were permanently stored, waiting for centuries until the media mapping initiative would track them down, sorting out all the occurrences of each individual and their personal story: where they went, how they felt, who they were with.

Part 2: Johnston

Johnston had now been an imperial attorney for a long time.

He was in the prime of his life, his mind was extremely sharp, and his reputation preceded him wherever he went.

He was known for righting wrongs and working months on end on a single case.

He was about to go to court with recent findings provided by the media mapping initiative.

It was his birthday, but he had long since stopped caring for birthdays and the facts at hand seemed more important.

Part 3: Reasonable Doubt

Standing before the court, Johnston presented his findings: the known whereabouts of Patrick Keaton throughout time, colliding with the times of the murders he’d been accused of centuries before.

Some of the data were conclusive: he couldn’t have committed at least some of the crimes; as for the inconclusive data — media of which the time and date couldn’t be completely verified — it was surely sufficient to raise reasonable doubt that he might not have been the serial killer that had murdered so many people 300 years ago. He was not the man who had killed his own wife and the wife of his partner, the other co-founder of Farnan Dynamics.

The data was so strong and so efficiently presented that the court quickly overruled the case.

In just a matter of hours, the work of ten months had ended and a wrong of three centuries had been righted, if only on paper. There would be an official apology from the empire and other protocols to follow.

Part 4: Keaton

In the later years of the 21st century, Keaton and Francis were the owners of the largest corporation in the world: Farnan Dynamics. They were the two richest and perhaps the most well-known people on the planet.

But terror ensued.

A gory cycle of murders took hold of the city, and no one seemed safe. The killings only stopped when the wives of both partners were killed.

Keaton’s profile rose as a possible suspect.

Francis, blinded by the pain of having his wife being brutally slaughtered, and pry to the sociopathic nature of Keaton, convinced himself of Keaton’s guilt and used everything in his power to bring him to justice.

Keaton’s lawyers fought back, but the court had declared him guilty nonetheless.

Part 5: Aftermath

Johnston pondered on the life of Keaton, a man who had been deprived of his life, family, incredible wealth, and so much more.

He considered how much Keaton must have missed: having to witness from behind bars the conquest of other planets, the advent of artificial intelligence, and so many other advances in science.

He thought back to his history knowledge and briefly compared the agony of 21st-century cancer patients versus his two doctor appointments that got him rid of it permanently. All thanks to the company those two men had started over three and a half centuries ago.

Johnston was so concerned with all that Keaton had lost that he didn’t even consider all that Francis had gained.

An alert popped up: it was still his birthday, and he did have dinner reservations with his wife and family; all 23 of them would get together soon to celebrate his 120th anniversary.

As he walked away from the court, he kept thinking about Keaton.

A man who had lost everything.

A man who had been incarcerated.

A man who would have surely gone mad while confined in that small space.

A man who had been imprisoned for 329 years and was now getting back into the world, finally able to enact revenge on his former colleague.

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