Chapter 4


CASE NO. PUBEND6067111-CJain-7


COUNCILPERSON SANGHA: Sentencing case PUBEND 6067111-CJain -7, Councilwoman Martella Sangha presiding. The accused has been found guilty of trespassing in the civic data architecture colloquially known as the "Cloud Ark," illegal simulation, and public endangerment.

COUNCILPERSON BOUDAN: It has been a very long week, Mr. Jain, but again: This council will show you leniency if you assist us by disclosing your coconspirators.

CONRAD JAIN (ACCUSED): The only criminals I've worked with to date are the ones handing down this sentence.

C. BOUDAN: Mr. Jain, these charges are—

JAIN: They're generational trauma with pomp!

C. BOUDAN: Mr. Jain—

JAIN: We're the last of humanity, trapped in a bubble. Simulation is an entire frontier we can explore to re-define what it means to be human. And you outlaw it just because we fear others' bad experiences from hundreds of years ago!

C. SANGHA: Laws exist by the public consensus. It is not your decision alone when and how our society evolves.

C. BOUDAN: There are approved channels for simulation research.

JAIN: "Approved channels." Is that what's under all that red tape?

C. BOUDAN: Mr. Jain—

JAIN: The CloudArk is an nth dimensional paracausal fold, and we use it to store library books.

C. BOUDAN: We use it to support the public need. Not as some playground.

JAIN: Play?! You bastard, I lost friends shutting down the Vex Isometry! You wouldn't be sitting there i—

C. BOUDAN: That's enough, Conrad!

C. SANGHA: Your actions are on trial, not your results. Only one person in this city gets to make decisions that affect us all, and you would do well to learn from the Cloud Strider what a dire burden that is.

JAIN: Is it such a heavy burden to be this council's lapdog?

C. BOUDAN: Heavier than anything you've proven yourself capable of.

C. SANGHA: Let the record show the accused exhibits no remorse for his actions and displays a disregard for the public consensus. Considering the good you accomplished as part of your illegal research, we offer some small mercy: three years' house arrest and 4,000 hours of community service, to be served concurrently.

JAIN: I've never wanted anything but to protect this city and help it grow. You can't punish me to make me stop.

C. BOUDAN: Fortunately, some members of this council feel your arguments have merit. If you consent, you will be allowed to work off your debt to society by continuing your simulation research. Under "lap dog" oversight, as you called her.