Disclaimer: the following is based on my knowledge (or lack thereof) and (mis)understanding of Japanese history and/or culture. If I make a few mistakes, feel free to point them out.


Shuddering in fear, rubbing her hands in nervousness, Kirsten paces from one side of the room to the next.
She looks to her friend, Kyle, who is sitting on the couch. His head is resting in his hands, which are covering his eyes.
He is not looking at the screen, which she understands. In a way, he can already see everything through the windshield of the Van. There is no need for him to look at their television screen.
Part of her wishes they would be in his personal thoughtspace, where the floor is a mattress, and where they keep all their books, comics, movies, and more, giving them something to do while they wait. But their assistant, Anaïs, had advised against it. They may be inside the Van now, but they can always be called to go outside, and they should be ready for it.
Looking at her own body, she grows only more frustrated. Under the circumstances, so she was told, it is best that she would dress in something more formal. Why should that mean that she has to wear a dress? She hates wearing those.
Even Kyle, who always hated wearing formal suits, cannot help but scratch his neck every few seconds, because of how uncomfortable the collar of his shirt feels.
Kirsten looks to her right, where Anaïs is sitting, holding up a tablet, where she is typing a few notes.
She thinks of asking her a question, but cannot think of one. What can she ask, that they have not already discussed in grave detail?
She groans, while she continues her pace.
"Kirsten," Kyle starts. "I know how nerve-wrecking this all is, but can't you do something else to calm yourself?"
"Like what?!" she shouts. "We can't play Vigil City, 'cos they're blocking our internet! And we can't do anything in the Astral Plane, because the Faceless are guarding us there!"
"Gives new meaning to Thought Police..." Kyle mumbles.
Kirsten squints her eyes at that. "What did you say?"
Kyle lowers his hands, sighing. "Just something my parents used to say. Every time I disagreed with them, they'd say I'm lucky I wasn't alive when the Thought Police were around. They'd have punished me horribly, just for having a thought of my own."
"Worse than your parents could?"
"Can't imagine how," Kyle replies.
"Um..." Anaïs interjects. "The Thought Police, contrary to what their government wanted its people to believe, was never active outside of Great-Britain. So even if you were born then, they couldn't have come after you."
Kyle scoffs. "Just another one of my parents' lies, then."
Kirsten guffaws. "Sounds like your parents should be in there, not us!"
She points at the TV screen as she spoke.
There, in the background, a large room can be viewed, with marble walls and floor, wooden benches, chairs and desks.
In the foreground, several bars can be seen, giving off a green glow, indicating there is a cage. Inside the cage, white-gloved hands are visible at the bottom of the screen, resting on knees, indicating that the Van has changed into the Vanman, as he is held inside the cage.
"Actually," Anaïs says, "since he has been erased from history, then as far as his parents are concerned, they never did anything. Wrong or otherwise."
"They don't need their memories erased for that," Kyle says. "They already see nothing wrong with what they've done."
Kirsten gasps at a realization. "Does that mean that even the orphanage gets away with what they've done to me?"
"Afraid so," Anaïs answers.
Kirsten punches the couch. "Why is it that we get punished, when the real bad guys get away with everything?!"
Kyle shrugs. "Could be worse. If they ever do come to trial, they can have her defending them."
He points at the screen, where someone can be seen, sitting in front of the cage.
It is one red-headed woman, wearing a golden toga, along with a white scarf, and black shoes. As she is taking notes with her pen (the shape of which being reminiscent of a sword), the woman finds that some of her hair blocks her view, thus she moves some of it behind her ear, revealing an earring that is shaped like a balancing scale.
"If she's as good as Dr. Anand says she is, we wouldn't want her to defend my parents," Kyle continues. "Or your orphanage."
"That's another thing," Kirsten says. "Why isn't Dr. Anand defending us?"
Kyle raises a brow. "Don't you remember?"
She sighs. "I remember it being explained, yes. But I'm not sure I understood what she said."
"Coordinator Anand is too close to you two," Anaïs repeats. "You have to be defended by someone who's objective about your actions."
"What does that mean anyway?" Kirsten asks. "Being objective?"
"Think of it like when you write a song, or a poem," Anaïs begins to explain. "If you show it to people who know you, they'll think it's good or bad, based on how they feel about you. But if you show it to people who don't know you, they'll take it for what it is."
"In other words," Kyle elucidates, "suppose we've destroyed the planet. If it were anyone else, Dr. Anand would think this person is evil. But if it were us... not that we would destroy a planet... on purpose anyway..."
"I think I understand," Kirsten says. "They wanted someone who doesn't immediately think we're good or bad."
"That is correct," Anaïs replies.
"You know, I remember you mentioning you've been arrested before," Kyle says. "I'm surprised you don't know this already."
Kirsten scoffs. "I have been arrested, been to a lot of hearings, talked to a lot of people, but I just thought they're punishing me by making me listen to their long meaningless babbles."
"Sounds like going to church," Kyle chuckles.
"If anyone ever explained to me what it means to be objective, I don't remember it," Kirsten admits.
"Court's in session!" a voice calls out, and the woman in front of the Vanman rises up, as does everyone else.
At the sound of that voice, both Kyle and Kirsten can feel the meaning of the phrase my heart skipped a beat.
The Vanman rises up as well, revealing a little bit more of this room.
There is an area, opposite the Vanman, where twelve people are sitting. Some of them look human, while others do not. And even the ones that do, wear clothes that do not resemble anything from any culture that Kyle or Kirsten are familiar with.
At the left, several people enter the room, taking their seats behind their desks.
Two of them wear white suits, with some feathers sticking out from behind, indicating what they are, even though the two kids have never seen them before.
"Angels..." Kirsten grumbles.
"Good start already," Kyle says. "Anand can't defend us because she cares too much, but angels can judge over us, despite them having every reason to hate us?"
"Maybe you should tell Justine about that," Anaïs suggests. "It might come in handy soon."
"Be seated," one of the angels says, and everyone sits down.
The Vanman yanks the sleeve of the woman before him, and whispers. "We have a personal history with angels. We fear they will not be objective."
"For your sake, I hope so," she replies.
Kyle frowns. "What does that mean?"
"Kyle," Anaïs says. "Anand would not have asked her to represent you, unless she is certain about her abilities. You have to trust that much, at least."
Kyle leans back, and crosses his arms. "Easier said than done."
"Yeah," Kirsten agrees. "These SUITs have been after us since the start. Anything we've done, they've always seen it as some kind of plan to destroy the world. I'm sure this lady is good, but..."
"Mister Prosecutor," the one angel addresses the other. "The case."
"Thank you, mister Chairman," the Prosecutor says, as he rises up from his seat, and reads from something inside a file folder. "Case file number 522666: Vanman vs. the Humanitarian Exploration Defense Patrol. Incident in the Tokyo region, which caused the deaths of fourteen, mortally wounded twenty, that we know of, and endangered lives of everyone in the city, if not the world."
Kyle widens his eyes at those words. "Fourteen... deaths?"
The Chairman, frowns. "If this incident occurred in Tokyo, why is this Vanman not being tried there?"
"Because he is made, controlled, and commanded, by people from our jurisdiction," the Prosecutor elucidates.
The Chairman nods. "Very well."
"There was nothing you could've done," Anaïs says. "Not without endangering others, anyway."
"I know, but still..."
"You didn't do it," Kirsten says. "And you've said it before, if you helped, you risk the world knowing you exist."
"I know..." Kyle says. "I just... didn't think it would feel this... this..."
"You made a choice there and then," Anaïs reminds him. "Either you do what you were thinking of doing, and risk the lives of others. Or you do something to prevent more deaths, and let those whose job it is to take care of it, take care of it."
"And seeing as several died, they apparently didn't take care of it well enough," Kyle sighs.
"That is not your fault, that is their own," Anaïs assures him.
"But will these angels see it that way?" Kyle sighs. "This will be a while."
Words that are normally spoken out of boredom, Kirsten cannot help but sensing grief in his voice. Groaning, she thinks back to the times she was arrested. She would talk to the police, but they would never believe her. She would talk to therapists, but they drew all the wrong conclusions about her. Sometimes in her favor, most times not so much. And as she already mentioned, she would spend hours sitting through hearings, without having any idea of what people were saying. In a way, she has been through something like this before. And yet, despite the familiarity, something about this both looks and feels different. She does not know how best to describe it.
Finally sitting down on the couch, she thinks back about the last few days. How the SUITs had blocked internet access, and how the Faceless had found their Astral Van. They cannot go out and meet with their friends, nor can they play Vigil City, nor look up new movies or shows, or whatnot, in case they get tired of the things they already have.
If this is what they are capable of doing, Kirsten fears of what they will do, if they are found guilty.