Trial of Grievance
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A Trial of Grievance is one of the six Trials of Combat.
When disputes arise between individual warriors that neither they nor their immediate superiors can resolve, both warriors must petition to have their differences heard by the Clan Council (or the Grand Council if the opponents are Bloodnamed or hold important rank). Until the council rules, the disputants are bound by Clan law to avoid any unnecessary contact. This may be carried to the point of one transferring to another unit. If one takes aggressive action against the other before the council rules, or if he disagrees with the council's decision, he or she has committed a breach of Clan law punishable by expulsion into a lesser caste or out of Clan society entirely.
If the issue is not resolved by the council, the parties may then call for a Trial of Grievance. The rules governing the trial are many and strict. If the combatants are MechWarriors or fighter pilots of different weight-class vehicles, the council must make the contest more even. Often, a vehicle type that is mid-way in size is chosen, and the disputants have several weeks to become accustomed to their new vehicles. If the disputants are from different branches of the warrior caste, then some kind of a middle ground, such as fencing or the use of Medusa whips, is chosen. If the combatants are completely different in physical form (such as an Elemental versus a Pilot) then they can either completely forget the Trial of Grievance or use an alternate form of "combat" such as a darts competition.
The trial itself is judged by members of the council, who ensure that trial and combat etiquette is strictly heeded. A Circle of Equals is defined, anything from ten meters in diameter for a hand-to-hand trial to more than 100 kilometers wide for an air duel. No one but the combatants may enter the Circle of Equals unless invited, and leaving the Circle before the contest is ended is a shameful defeat. All trials are defined as to the death, but they usually end before either combatant is killed; the definition is supposed to dissuade Trials of Grievance being declared unnecessarily. In addition should a Trial of Grievance occur too frequently, possibly affecting a military unit's readiness, a Star Colonel or Khan may forbid any Trials of Grievance for a certain amount of time.
This system of decisions and regulations is designed to outlast the anger that sparked the trial, and that is usually the case. Some records indicate, however, that sometimes the anger between two warriors, or two sets of warriors, outlasts even the Trial of Grievance, degenerating into what we would call a feud. The most notorious and well-documented failure of the grievance trial system involved the Nicholas Pride sibko and the Blue Devil sibko of Clan Smoke Jaguar. The Blue Devil warriors maintained a grudge for several generations, based on an imagined slight during a Smoke Jaguar Council ceremony.
More commonly than a formal Trial of Grievance is the informal version. These usually involve single low-ranking warriors over issues that are not considered important. Immediately after the Batchall, the two engage in negotiations, which are themselves quick. The trial is immediately fought in an ad-hoc Circle of Equals simply drawn in the dirt. This informal procedure is illegal in Clan law but not enforced, since to force all disputes to be formally resolved would cause too much of an administrative burden.
Though most commonly seen among the Warrior Caste, originally any caste could call for a Trial of Grievance. These early trials were more akin to the informal version of the Clan Invasion-era trial. Among the lower castes, a competition of some sort is usually held rather than a duel. This competition can be anything from a footrace to a drinking contest to a round of golf. These competitions also allow a member of the lower caste to challenge a Warrior caste member and stand a chance of winning.
- Era Digest: Golden Century, p. 17
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 118, "Trial of Grievance" - Brief explanation of what trial is Grievance is.