Tyrannis: Great Things

– by Sinclair Ferguson

It was only by great concentration that Orwell Fine repressed his glands’ inclination to call his bluff before the world by dotting his forehead with beads of sweat. The fluorescent, almost neon glow of the cameras’ supplemental light lent no heat to his place behind the senatorial podium. Perspiration would mean only one thing: his words were less than sincere. Still, Senator Fine had stood behind this same podium on a number of occasions, and his experience and practice had taught him to mask himself well.

“Like my father before me, I will persist with upholding the will of the people who’ve repeatedly promoted me to this post. We will continue to insist that our sovereignty be recognized, and that the people of Eruka V are not merely a workforce to be recruited, but a free people, destined to write its own future, not subject to the whims and fiscal quotas of mega-corporations who through their political wooing, can bend the ear of CONCORD. We will continue the fight. Thank you.”

Concluding his statements, he abruptly turned, his entourage following him. The cameras rotated from their focus on the podium to their respective commentators who began to offer narrative on the senator’s remarks. Senator Fine absently dragged his thumb across the left side of his forehead. It was still dry. His secretary leaned into him as he turned the hallway corner to the double doors of his office, and said, “You have a visitor.” “I’m sure,” he replied, as the double doors were parted for him by eager staff.

His office was plush. Kobalt blue carpet spread like the sea to the edges of the curved walls, lined with fine wood, dyed white. Behind the large desk at the end of the room stood a wide window, flanked by tall drapes, edged in gold lining, a breathtaking view of the senatorial lawn behind it. The view was occluded by the silhouette of a man, looking out the window. Orwell turned to the staffer who’d followed him in. The man immediately recognized this as an indication to leave the room and exited, closing the doors behind him. As the latch engaged on the door, the figure by the window turned. “That was quite a speech, Senator. You’re getting better at them, I think. I was almost sympathetic.” “Mr. Trinnix, it is customary to make appointments with with Senate. We are very busy these days,” Orwell remarked, stepping behind his desk, taking his place in his own ornate but comfortable chair. “Won’t you have a seat?”

“Thank you, Senator.” The man descended into one of the leather chairs opposite the official desk, and leaned back. “My corporation was expecting a more generous and expedient schedule. We’ve demonstrated the courtesy of working with you, showing good faith. CONCORD has given us a clearance that doesn’t exactly require such formalities. We would have thought you would have responded differently.” The Senator’s chair rotated back and forth slowly as he listened, his fingers pressed together before him. “Mr. Trinnix, I…” “Just Trinnix,” the guest interrupted with less than sympathetic correction. Orwell noted the posturing and continued. “Trinnix, it takes time to soften such an independent people. If they had any inkling you were even planetside, they’d dismember both our bodies on the capitol steps.” The guest’s eyes were steady. “I’ve been dismembered many times,” Trinnix replied, a grin playing upon his face. “Ah yes,” Orwell returned, “your immortality. A thousand rebirths amongst the stars. Your little 600,000 member oligarchy. And we all have to play the good and faithful subject, we poor mortals.” The Senator has frequently used sarcasm to mask fear or awkwardness. He was doing his best to project confidence, but he wanted little more than for this zombie to leave his office. “I’m trying to broker a situation that will guarantee your corporation’s initial unfettered access to Eruka’s resources and to its skilled labor. You know I have to continue to masquerade until I have courted the unions, put in place the propaganda that will convince the public that your molestation of their planet is in their best interests. Your insistence on a stepped up timeline is making this very difficult.”

“Senator Fine, we have no intention of delaying our plans, with or without your help. Do you think we’re ignorant to your other dealings, to your maneuvering to delay our progress? We know you’re in bed with Hyasyoda.” Trinnix was attempting to trump the Senator’s sarcasm, and by the look on his face, it was working. “They’ve been a major shadow contributor to your campaigns over the last 25 years, and in return you’ve given them mining contract after contract, unregulated and unmonitored. They’ve practically assassinated the reputation your opposition in elections going back a decade. Your love affair with the press, your influence amongst the member planets of the Eruka system, and your prominence in this constellation will come to ruin if you take one more step to suppress our right to immediately develop this planet any further.”

Orwell broke this gaze with Trinnix. His lips pursed, his nostils opened as he inhaled deeply. For years, he’d sat behind this desk while his father was in chambers, pretending the seat was his, pretending his power was limitless. His father, a highly successful and popular politician, practically secured Orwell’s ascension to the seat when he died 4 months after the beginning of his 3rd term. He was practically appointed to the office, and riding the wave of well-wishers and political capital, proceeded to secure seats on the most prominent of committees. He was the darling of the lobby circuit. In return for his support, he’d secured great wealth and influence. He could have spent that capital and influence in back-room opposition to CONCORDs treaty, to preserving Eruka V’s bounty for its inhabitants. He instead chose to peddle them to the highest bidder, to welcome in corporations with the intent of trading his planet for even greater power. Now, it appeared that he was losing his leverage, and for the first time in his political career, losing the ability to control the situation.

“You know, Trinnix. Eruka is not without it’s problems. CONCORD’s grasp here is not such that the safety of your operations here can be fully guaranteed. I want what’s best for my people.” He leaned forward on his desk, his gaze sympathetic. “And, I want what’s best for your corporation. We have a great opportunity to build something great, something in all our interests. I would hate it if this system’s underbelly did anything to jeopardize that.” He was playing his last card. It wasn’t exactly a bluff, but it was close. “Piracy has been a real problem in the lower security systems of The Forge for years. We’ve made great strides in securing safe commerce for our member planets and systems through negotiation, and yes, through a bit of racketeering. Unpleasant, I know. I want you to rest assured that I’m going to be working very hard in the coming weeks to secure agreements from the pirate entities here that nothing will happen to your dear freighter fleets. It will take some time, though, and not a little ISK. I know I have your support on this, yes?”

Trinnix’s shifted in his chair, pausing for several moments before speaking. “Senator Fine, space has taught me many things, the hardest of which has been patience. Please keep me apprised as to your progress. We’re looking forward to beginning operations here soon, Senator. Soon.” Orwell stood, his guest with him. He extended a hand to Trinnix, which was taken. “Soon enough, Mr. Trinnix. I think you and I can expect great things.”

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