The Ylvainan Inquisition tried many heretical Ylvainans over the centuries. Some of them openly defied the Ylvainan Faith. Others were exceedingly careful in expressing their deviant beliefs.
When the inquisition caught on to the heretics and dragged them to their tribunals, it was quite hard to know for certain if someone was guilty. While many tribunals generally issued a unanimous judgement of guilt, sometimes an extreme case would appear where it was truly difficult to be sure of someone's guilt.
In cases where an inquisitor was deeply conflicted about someone's guilt, they could choose to abstain from issuing their judgement.
This was a rare event, but fairly problematic. These kinds of edge cases might also prompt another inquisitor to take the rare step of acquitting the accused!
This resulted in a tie, whereby the tribunal became stuck between two verdicts!
After a lot of thought, the Ylvainan Inquisition decided that if a tie ever occurred, they would gravitate towards the guilty verdict!
The argument for this policy was that it was better for the Ylvainan Inquisition to be safe than sorry! Letting a potential heretic go free meant letting a potential threat return to society! In the interest of public safety and the integrity of the Ylvainan Faith, the inquisitors couldn't take the chance that they were releasing a monster!
Of course, whether Ves deserved to be treated in this fashion was still in question. Many Ylvainans in the gallery and watching the broadcast thought it was deeply unfair!
Yet while the Ylvainan Inquisition caught a lot of flack for following this rule, it was better than outright declaring Ves guilty!
Judge Kelber Kronon still attracted most of the blame! If not for judging the Bright Martyr guilty, the tribunal wouldn't have fallen into such an awkward situation!
Ves couldn't help but reveal a mocking smile at how this tribunal developed. He immediately came up with a guess for why High Inquisitor Kelly Ixef Poxco refused to issue her judgement.
She wanted to have it both ways! She wanted to declare Ves guilty but avoid most of the blame for condemning a potential Martyred Follower! By abstaining from the decision, she elegantly preserved most of the reputation of the inquisition while still ensuring that Ves would no longer be a problem to their interests!
What a dirty move! If Ves hadn't been the target, he would have applauded the shrewd woman for coming up with this brilliant solution!
"Outrageous! The Bright Martyr is innocent!"
"The rules shouldn't be applied anymore!"
"Kill this devil before he bewitches us again!"
The controversy that erupted from this result threw everyone into disarray yet again! Those who were inclined against Ves celebrated this result, while those who deeply believed that he was the Bright Martyr found it to be a travesty!
Yet no matter how they regarded the process, it didn't change the fact that the tribunal essentially declared Ves guilty of sacrilege!
While the judges hadn't even addressed the sentencing yet, there was really only one possible sentence they were allowed to make. For the vast majority of the crimes the Ylvainan Inquisition enforced, the punishment was death!
This was why despite Kelber Kronon's repeated strikes with his gavel, the Ylvainans in the gallery simply wouldn't stay still!
Through a variety of technological means, the audience in the gallery experienced increasingly greater suppression!
Even though the Ylvainan observers felt stifled, the most fanatical among them had to be dragged out by the guards before the entire gallery subsided!
Just as a tense and forceful silence descended on the courtroom, a Protector captain suddenly stepped out and approached the bench from the side!
The captain whispered something to the judges. The news was so alarming that none of the judges managed to maintain their composure!
"Ahem! A highly unusual disruption is taking place outside the court building!" Please remain seated while the Protectors attempt to reassert order!"
The Ylvainans seated in the gallery frowned. They raised their comms and attempted to access the galactic net to see what was happening, but their connections had forcefully been cut off!
Several uncertain minutes passed by as the judges became preoccupied with what was happening outside.
It must be something incredibly serious to prevent the judges from moving onto the sentencing! Ves glanced around and saw that the Protectorate guards increased their alertness. They were gearing up for a fight!
Was someone trying to rescue Ves? But how? The Protectors of the Faith deployed an entire mech regiment around the court building, and placed a lot of units around the city district in order to guard every direction! They even took precautions against both aerial and underground threats!
Yet for some reason, the Protectorate guards looked increasingly more tense as they acted as if a great force was about to descend upon the court!
Ves felt it first. Despite his exhaustion and his spiritual depletion, his spiritual senses hadn't turned entirely numb. He felt a very familiar sensation approaching him from the direction of the main entrance of the court building.
He doubted it at first, but as the sensation slowly grew stronger, his eyes widened as he realized what was approaching!
"My prototype is back!"
He sensed the pale but incredibly strong X-Factor of his prototype! He knew it was his prototype and not one of the authorized copies of the Transcendent Messenger because its X-Factor hadn't been affected by a virtue! The mech radiated a strong sense of absolute faith that was incredibly similar to the aura that he emanated during his extraordinary tirade!
The Ylvainans in the gallery, the Protector guards on duty and the judges on the bench all began to sense something familiar in the air.
Their sensitivity towards spirituality wasn't as good as Ves, so it took quite some time before they realized the similarities!
"The prophet has returned! He is outside the courtroom!"
"Is there another Martyr outside?!"
"Let us see! Let us see!"
Something incredibly significant was happening, but the courtroom was completely isolated right now. Yet despite the attempts of the inquisition and the Protectors to calm everyone down, the aura that continued to resonate with their faith made it increasingly more difficult to tamper everyone's excitement!
Ves knew more than most. He knew that the True Believers made off with the prototype while the Transcendent Messenger design was still incomplete.
Its aura wasn't very strong back then, but now was different! Now that the Transcendent Messenger gained a design spirit, the prototype's pale X-Factor seemed to have gained a lot more strength!
It was enough to affect the entire court building while standing outside!
What Ves wondered right now was whether the True Believers were responsible, and why the Protectors of the Faith allowed the prototype to approach without halting it. Were they afraid to bring their weapons to bear on the mech for fear of harming the great prophet's will or something?
Eventually, the three judges came to some sort of consensus after a furious discussion with the Protector captain!
Judge Okin Fillis spoke up. "While this is highly irregular, the event that is taking place outside the court building has forced us to adjust this tribunal. Please remain calm as we project the scene of what is happening outside."
A wide projection came to life. It depicted a stupendous scene of the prototype standing in front of a humongous mob of Ylvainans!
Hundreds of thousands of residents of Krent stepped out of their homes in clear violation of martial law! They outright ignored the warnings of the patrolling Protectors of the Faith and marched towards the court building!
This was not a spontaneous act! Instead, the presence of the prototype made it clear that it was orchestrated by the New Ylvaine Dynasty!
Even as hundreds of thousands of Ylvainans arrived at the court building, millions more became inspired by the sight and exited their homes as well! The entire city appeared to be converging on this location, much to the Kronon Dynasty's consternation!
They might be able to contain and subdue a mob of millions by employing a variety of crowd control measures, but the entire star system was under the control of the Curins! They would make sure that the heavy-handed suppression of the mob would be broadcasted to the entire Protectorate!
After suffering a heavy blow to their reputation due to the rigid judgement issued by Kelber Kronon, the Protectors could hardly afford another blow to their reputation! Their legitimacy would take a nosedive if they were seen as suppressing the very people they were supposed to protect!
This consideration also held the Kronon forces back from attacking the prototype. Regardless of how much reluctance the mech pilots exhibited against a mech that touched their faiths, the prototype was too close to the mob!
If the Protectors started to fight the prototype, then the collateral damage that ensued would definitely kill tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of innocent bystanders!
All in all, while the Protectors of the Faith still possessed a decisive edge in military might, they were rendered impotent in fear of harming so many Ylvainans!
The people outside the court building already knew what went on outside. Only now did the people inside the courtroom catch up to this alarming event!
Ves realized that he wasn't under any suppression, so he couldn't help but stoke the fire!
"That mech is my work! It is an early prototype of my Transcendent Messenger design that went missing at the hands of the True Believers! It is a rough copy of the same design that High Inquisitor Xefin Lin Poxco has accused of being a blasphemous design!"
The high inquisitor in question looked sick at this revelation, but the Ylvainans who had joined the mob or watched the broadcast all gasped in shock!
The mech that made them feel close to their faith was anything but blasphemous to them! Not even the greatest churches and cathedrals of the Ylvainan Faith made them feel this intimate!
"It is a holy mech!"
"If the inquisition thinks this mech is blasphemous, then they are the true heretics!"
"What are you guys thinking?! Don't you see that this mech is brainwashing us all! It's the same thing that its designer has done!"
Although some Ylvainans were dubious about the nature of the prototype, they were outnumbered by the Ylvainans who were convinced that the mech was something holy!
Although the leaders of the Ylvainan Inquisition and the Attendants of Ylvaine deeply wanted to suppress the news, Kesseling VIII was a stronghold of the Curin Dynasty! The Shepherds of the Flock gleefully broadcasted everything that was happening inside and outside the court building as long as it favored their agenda!
Due to the inaction displayed by the Kronons, there was no stopping this procession!
Once the people in the gallery started to subside in their rapturous excitement, the prototype began to activate its forward projectors.
The mech projected one of the most notorious figures in the Protectorate!
The projection depicted an old man dressed in a very accurate replica of an iconic robe. His face shared a lot of similarities to the face that adorned many statues and other religious artwork!
Ves was shocked at the sight as well, because there was only one living Ylvainan who wore that face!
"Many of you know who I am." The projection spoke. "I am Prophet Ylvaine come to life. I am the head of the Ylvaine Dynasty that many of you believe has committed terrible terrorist attacks. I would dearly like to dispute that, but I've made an agreement not to go into that at this moment."
A lot of mixed feelings emerged from the spectating Ylvainans. While they enjoyed the backing of many sympathizers, the majority firmly regarded the True Believers as terrorists! They believed that the figure who possessed the same DNA as the prophet should have never existed in the first place!
Yet now, under the influence of the aura emanating from the prototype, the Ylvainans didn't exhibit any of their disgust towards the self-proclaimed incarnation of the prophet right now!
The living prophet smiled. "It is presumptuous for the Curins, Kronons and Poxcos to cast judgement on my Martyred Follower without asking the true leading dynasty of the Protectorate!"
Ves felt like he wanted to puke. Who the hell was his Martyred Follower!? Ves didn't even agree to his latest title, but now even the living prophet accepted this interpretation!
Just as everyone in the courtroom was glued to the projection, the courtroom doors suddenly opened!
Escorted by a number of very tense Protector guards, the living prophet himself entered the room in the flesh!
"For this reason, I have forced the inquisition to accept a deal!" He spoke. The voice from his body echoed with the voice from the projection! "In exchange for letting me enter the courtroom and join the bench, I will place myself at their mercy! I do this for the good of my people and my beliefs!"
What?! Ves and every Ylvainan experienced yet another shock!