"…and by doing all these things, VaDrune and DeGraki, also known as Frank and Leslie Dean, betrayed all of Majesdane and started the chain of events that led to the destruction of our planet. For their offspring, Karolina Dean, I suggest nothing but the highest punishment this jury can fathom be placed upon her: not just death, but utter, painful destruction."
As the prosecutor finished, the Majesdanian audience went wild. This is what they were expecting: not a trial, not justice, just a public condemnation motivated by the depths of hatred. The judge, the jury, and the lawyers were just there for show, so that historians could pretend justice was served. The truth was less heroic: Karolina Dean's sentence was decided before the trial ever started.
The defense took the stand. Karolina took a sorrowful look at her lawyer. He was a good man, a good Majesdanian. He did not believe the sins of the Dean family should be placed upon their daughter as a scapegoat. He believed that the surviving Majesdanians' obsession with revenge would destroy the very culture they needed to rebuild. He took her case the moment she arrived on the space station where the trail to be held. His convictions made him unpopular, but he told her that a culture where men could not think and act for themselves is not a culture worth rebuilding.
"My opponent yields to the emotions of the crowd rather than any sense of truth," he began. "Karolina Dean is a mere scapegoat. She had nothing to do with her parents' betrayal. Quite the opposite, when it was revealed to her, she traveled to Majesdane and took part in a marriage to form an alliance between the two warring sides. Is this the action of a criminal? Not a man in this audience has taken the time to learn just who Miss Dean is. Instead they believe what hearsay has told them: that she is a sadist who prefers relationships with humans and Skrulls rather than her own kind. Nothing could be further from the truth, and if they jury believes the lies then they are not convicting Karolina Dean, but rather an obscene caricature of her.
"Let's reason a little: even if this girl can be held responsible for the actions of her family, their sin is revealing the location of Majesdane. They have paid for it; they are dead. But it was the Skrulls who attacked our planet and committed the genocide, not them. The only real reason a Skrull is not on trial right now"—Karolina allowed herself a small smerk—"is because we do not have the strength to capture one. Instead, in an effort to show that we had some strength left, our surviving generals went after this innocent girl. A conviction may seem right to our new leaders, but I and many others will come to see it as an unfair judgment motivated by hatred, fear, pride and anguish."
There was a mixed reaction from the crowd. Karolina was sure she hear some cheering amount the hisses and boos. At least some people were on her side.
"TeSolo," the judge addressed Karolina's lawyer. The crowd silenced itself. "This court has already determined that Karolina Dean is culpable for the actions of her parents. Your job is to argue whether the punishment fits the crime. By questioning the integrity of our leaders you incur the disapproval of the court."
"I had hoped to appeal to a sense of reason in the jury," answered TeSolo as the crowd's cries stirred again. "But I have saved my strongest argument for last. There is, in fact, no definite proof that Karolina's parents ever revealed the coordinates of Majesdane." The crowd exploded. Karolina could not hear anyone clearly over the murmuring and yelling that took place. Some Majesdanians lit up brightly (expressing strong emotion) as the audience members began to argue amongst themselves.
There was no gavel in a Majesdanian court; instead the judge's scream of "SILENCE!" shut everyone up.
TeSolo continued, "All we have is anecdotal evidence. It's quite possible that after the Skrulls found our planet, political rumors blamed it on the Deans, who were well known at the time as banished criminals."
"I object," interrupted the prosecutor, "The Deans made a deal with the Skrulls that involved marrying their daughter to a Skrull prince. We had official records proving this, but they were lost with Majesdane. TeSolo's argument is invalid."
"Are all my arguments to be listed as invalid?"
Verbal fights went back and forth for some time. Karolina tuned out as they got more heated and less rational.
She waited with her head down as the judge and jury convened to decide the sentence. TeSolo held her hand the whole time. She looked up one last time to note the stars above the transparent ceiling. Stars varied depending on what planet or moon you were, and each culture had its own set of constellations. The Majesdanians had one called the flying whale, its shape defined not so much by the stars as the nebulous cloud that surrounded them, bits of dust from a star system destroyed millions of years before Majesdane. The space station they were in was in the same solar system as Majesdane was, so the stars were mostly the same. The flying whale shinned down on the courtroom, adding a wistful beauty to the place.
The judge reentered. Everbody shut up as a matter of both curiosity and decorum. Standing, he delivered the verdict.
"Karolina Dean, daughter of Frank and Leslie Dean, this court has decided that you and you alone hold culpability for the actions of your parents. However, the court also recognizes the arguments pointed out by the defense that you are not the betrayers that your parents were. Taking all arguments into account, we pronounce you to be guilty as an accomplice to all charges. Your punishment is as follows: 25 years forced labor in helping construct our colony on the moon of Zi'err. You also shall never be allowed to leave that colony unless this order is formally revoked."
More mixed cries emitted from the audience. The prosecutor looked noticeable upset; he was clearly hoping for a death sentence, or at least life imprisonment. TeSolo gave a sedated nod and smile to Karolina. "It's a mixed win."
"It's not a win at all," she whispered back. "Karo… I am not guilty."
"I know, but the surviving leaders needed a scapegoat, something to show the people that they are not powerless, to give encouragement."
Only the mad and the evil are encouraged by the conviction of the innocent, she thought, but she did not say it out loud. Two Majesdanian soldiers led her out of the courtroom and back to her cell. Curiously, halfway there they were replaced by a third, larger guard. He led the rest of the way. Karolina wrung her shackled wrists. The shackles were made out of the strange material known to suppress a Majesdanian's sun-induced powers; Zyberrium they called it. As she sighed, the guard bent down his mouth to her ear. He whispered, "I know who you are… Prince Xavin."
Xavin cringed, but he was careful to completely maintain his form as Karolina. "You are Skrull?"
"Yes," the guard answered. For a brief second his face molded itself into the familiar scaly, green Skrull face before changing back.
Somehow this surprised Xavin more than the fact that this man knew his identity. After all, the reason Xavin had been able to pretend to be Karolina was the Zyberrium shackles, which allowed him to pretend that his Majesdanian powers were suppressed as opposed to him not actually having any. But a Skrull pretending to be a Majesdanian guard could not avoid this problem. It was possible that a Super-Skrull had these powers, but Xavin considered that to be unlikely.
"What does this mean?" he asked. "Are we planning another attack?"
"No, it's not worth going after them," the guard answered. "We merely infiltrated them for good measure, to make sure they are no longer a threat to us."
"Their planet was destroyed," said Xavin. "The last thing they want right now is a war."
"But they want revenge," the guard said, "As evidenced by your conviction."
"By Karolina's conviction. I am lucky that they have not detected me so far, but if they do then I am afraid they will kill me."
"Two other Skrull are in the facility with me. We plan on bailing you out as they transport you to Zi'err's moon."
"That will have to wait," said Xavin. "I do not intend to spend 25 years in forced labor, but once they find out who I really am they will go back to Earth to find the real Karolina Dean." Xavin sighed. "I will not let that happen."
"You are still a prince, sir," said the guard. "Even though you rebuked and left the Skrull counsel, there are those who will follow you."
"Perhaps you can answer me a question." Xavin briefly revealed his Skrull face, although his body still remained Karolina's. "Why did the Skrulls blow up Majesdane? What did they have to gain from it? We wanted to conquer the planet, not destroy it."
The guard shrugged. "Tensions were high. I suppose our generals were just tired of the war, but felt that a peace would not have satisfied Majesdanian hatred after what we had done to them."
"But there was a counter attack which killed tens of thousands of Skrulls," continued Xavin. "Why were they too thick-headed to come to a peace?"
"Such is war," the guard answered calmly.
They reached the cell. The Skrull posing as a guard calmly locked Xavin inside. "Don't worry about me," the Skrull prince said. "I'm still a Super-Skrull after all. When the time is right, I will act. Until then, I hope you and your two friends remain in contact."
"Negotiations will reopen with the Majesdanians soon," said the guard. "Perhaps we can protect Karolina Dean."
"Perhaps," said Xavin. "It is lucky I left her with such capable friends. They will protect her for now."
We still don't know what happened to Xavin, so this is my own personal take on it. Technically this is in "The Last Minoru" continuity since that was also a shoot off from Vol 3 Issue 6. I'm planning more stories as winter break sets in, so keep a look out.