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 Chapter 4

Bianca is stuttering.

I'm not surprised; the first time I led it, I was scared out of my mind. But I had a relatively simple case. A girl, I couldn't remember her name - Jaz-something, who was reported for 'bullying her peers'. Her friends had turned her in. I couldn't imagine what kind of friends would do that to you. But it was such a minor case that after a few minutes of reviewing it, we deemed her unworthy of our time and sent it down to the lower courts, where all the people who were unfit to polish our shoes were sent.

Sound bitter? Maybe it was because Audrey wasn't looking me in the eye; she had devoted her entire time to staring at Noah. Noah was trying to mouth something to her, but she was shaking her head. I was crushed that she would let something so small get in the way of our friendship, but I understood where she was coming from.

And I wouldn't, no, couldn't, show my true feelings.

"And, um, Miss Emma Coleus Andrews, will you admit to, uh, your - your, er, crime?" Bianca stammers, barely meeting the accused eyes.

"Yeah, but, it wasn't my fault I -" The girl was cut off by Bianca.

"So, uh, you are guilty?" Bianca asks. Madison looks like she wants to interrupt, but she restrains herself.

The girl, who's only about 11, clasps her hands. "Look, I was with my friends! There was another girl, who kind of is smaller than the rest, and my best friend, Elle, started to kind of tease her. I wasn't a part of it, honestly!"

"Your so-called friends," Audrey says, her voice rather harsh. "They sold you out in this very court after confessing themselves. They're being tried in the lower courts."

Emma looks stunned. "I wasn't - "

Madison finally cuts in, taking pity on Bianca, who looks confused. "But you did not do anything while your friends promoted negativity, which, as you know, is forbidden in this community."

"It wasn't like that! I just wanted to fit in!" Emma argues heatedly.

"In the end, you did confess," Madison remarks. "Excellent work, Ms. Moore."

Bianca smiles, though her face is pale and sick, and proceeds to carry out the elimination order. "Emma Coleus Andrews, you have been deemed guilty, which will be punished by elimination."

I've been trying to restrain myself throughout the entire thing, but this is too much. "Bianca, you seriously can't punish someone for standing by. She didn't do anything!"

"Ms. Summers!" Madison has a sickly, sweet smile on her face. "This is your second act of insubordination!"

"Yes, please, uh, Ms. Summers," Bianca tries to copy Madison, but her sweet countenance clashes directly with her tone.

"Who votes guilty?" Noah asks, trying to make things less tense. 

Five hands go up. I refuse to look at any of them, and try to hold my tongue as Emma is forced through the side door. 

But because I was Aurelia Rose Summers, I had to go ahead and open my mouth one more time. 

"Okay, this isn't fair," I protest, standing up. 

Jason's eyes flash, and then he clears his throat. 

"Ms. Summers, you are hereby suspended from this court," Jason steps in, taking Bianca and Madison's side.


I stare at the rest of the court. Lucas refuses to look at me, for fear of being found out. Noah and William seem shaken. Neither of them had seen this happen before.

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