Direction – The inquisition of General Howerton

Working Chapter 12 of my Is it for us alone? novel in progress

The memories were muddled and being actively hidden from the group. There was no method of coercion or force that could work given the nature of what was sought after, but the consciousnesses within Anders were all for understanding what had happened so there was plenty of help in seeking them out. Many memories surrounded the night in that bunker, where the fate of mankind was ultimately sealed. The only particularly notable one besides that of the three heads of state was that of the General Bradley Howerton, the loyal though somewhat blunt commander of the North American military and chief adviser to the President.

Howerton’s memories were easy to find and the first analysed by Anders and the ultimate jury he had assembled that included all human consciousness. He had no regrets. At the time he made the decision it was the only course he could see to preserving the human race – at least his part of the human race. There was no way he could have foreseen the actions of Anders, who was in his mind the true culprit here.

There was silence from the jury. They considered their next line of questioning in light of the General’s brazen bluntness.

“How is it that the systematic extermination of a third of the world’s population was the only course available? We’re other options even considered?”

Truly a question for the leaders rather than the General, but he took it and answered in his own way.

“There may have been solutions had there been a proper assessment of the risk a decade ago, but by the time we got to reviewing our available options, there was only one course. I was able to stand by my president in his decision as my view of the scenario, at the time, was that there had to be a cull in order for the race to survive. I’m afraid to say that it really was as simple as that.”

An answer that wasn’t truly an answer. Typical of those being accused that know their guilt deep done. Of course this was no ordinary interrogation and the jury knew all of these feelings that flew around now that they were so focussed on the general. It was just not possible to hide his emotions.

“We see that there is guilt nonetheless.”

“Of course. You may think me a brutish man, but I was only suggesting and supporting the course of action that we took as I truly believed it to be the correct course. Even as a soldier, or rather particularly as a soldier, I don’t take the idea of killing lightly and I idea of mass killing is that much worse. Still, something had to be done or we would have all died.”

A long silence pervaded throughout Anders body as he sat looking out over the sea. He felt almost peaceful though he knew what rumbled beneath the surfaces in the shadows of his mind. In other times a passerby would have thought he was a deep in meditation. He was very mindful, but it was his own culpability that he was mindful of.

This inquisition before the court of humanity was a gathering in order to fully understand the facts of the matter. Judgment had already been passed and the sentence handed out indiscriminately. Still those countless members of the jury needed to understand the how and the why, at least in so far as it was understood and interpreted by the individuals that were there. Truth was not something at issue here as lies weren’t possible when peering directly into a person’s consciousness. That doesn’t mean that others might not take issue with that truth.

“Most of us fail to understand this rationale. Did you originally suggest your doomsday scenario?”

It was less of a question and more of a lead to structure the thought pattern. “I did not,” came the response as expected.

“It was no doubt a politician with a mandate to protect his people and their interests.”

No comment or judgement from the General. He had his job. He was a tool and he gave his service to do what he thought was required to safeguard those under his charge.

“You could have objected. You knew the inherent difficulty in even completing the task so why was there no discussion of this and straight on to the planning!?”

“As you know and I have said, there was no other course in my mind, so objecting to state that the task would be difficult would be utterly pointless. I’m given a task which I create a strategy for and my men implement. If they had come to me before this had become a breaking point issue, I may have been able to provide some alternative advice, but by the stage the meeting was held there were no alternatives.”

A line of thought the jury hadn’t considered.

“We see that you think things could have been controlled with selective Marshal law. This does not seem to be the fairest approach that could have been taken, but it would surely have saved our lives. Do you truly believe it would have worked?”

“It may not have been fair, and I am only speculating based on what I know, but I believe it would have been controversial, costly in some lives, but not to the extent that was to be considered under the alternatives.”

The line of inquisition is fruitless. While deplorable the General’s actions may have been, there is no recourse and the only truth that he offers up is tainted by his strict point of view. The jury wants an apology, an act of acquiescence or some other form of admission that he is guilty. General Howerton had essentially used the classic line of denial. He was, he finally contended, “Only doing his job,” as many of his men also contended. Their moral compasses were shrouded by fear and the desire for self preservation. Were the jury sympathetic? They may well have acted exactly the same. In fact, it is more than likely that they would have. Still, there is always a stark contrast between the hypothetical and the actual. Many of those on the jury would have acted the same, but they did not act.

“We have no further use for your memories General.”

They could not destroy him, but instead they did the closest they could to banishment – they suppressed the General’s consciousness deep in the the murky sub conscious of Anders’ mind.

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