I had been waiting in his office for nearly twenty minutes. It was a classic tactic when establishing dominance, meant to remind the one waiting that they were not in power, and therefore, inferior in position. It gave an immediate psychological advantage to the one enforcing the waiting in most scenarios. For me, it was simply time to evaluate my opponent, to garner as much knowledge as I could from my surroundings, to reveal insights into the man, possible weaknesses. Of course with Maleatu Shakor, I never knew if he was truly friend or enemy.
His recently relocated and renovated office was stark. White marble floors, white walls with white colonnades, white walls. The sofas and chair were a plush white leather. Even the vases that held the few exotic plant specimens were a bland white. The far wall was equally divided with narrow vertical windows that reached nearly floor to ceiling. The view was spectacular, most of the planet’s capital sprawled out below. Again, a demonstration of position and importance. On that same wall hung two Minmatar Republic banners, the vibrant red fabric contrasting with the rest of the room’s decor. It was bold, meant to leave an impact on any guest that the Republic was not only the most important thing to Shakor, but from a design sensibility that it was the bold, vibrant part of an otherwise dull universe. There was nothing in this room that had been crafted by chance.
I heard the door hiss open, its seamless tracks near silent as Shakor walked in. He was blind, remaining so by choice, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice it. Quickly and deliberately he walked to the couch I waited on and gently sat beside me, taking great care to make sure his robe was pressed beneath him in a way that wouldn’t leave wrinkles.
He poured himself a cup of tea and without acknowledging my presence, the duel began.
“You’re not going to win.” he said before taking his first sip.
“It’s never been about winning.” I replied nonchalantly.
He finished his mouthful, delicately sitting the cup on a nearby coaster, dabbed as his mouth with a napkin, then continued. “It’s always about winning.” he said in all seriousness. “History has never been written by the losers. You’d be wise to remember that.”
I remained quiet for a moment, letting him wonder if I was thinking on his words or merely playing head games. “Yet history continues onward even when the ‘winners’ have long gone. No, Shakor, it’s not always about winning, but it is always about doing what is best for the people.”
He barked back at me immediately. “The people never know what they want! They are sheep! It is our responsibility as leaders to guide them, to direct society, to ensure that our future generations move forward, not backwards. It is only by seeing the big picture that we can know our destiny as a nation.”
I smirked a little to myself, believing I had incensed him to speak his real feelings. I should’ve known better. “Spoken as a true leader of men.”
“Bah.” he waved his hand, dismissing me. “There are always agendas in this game – megacorporations, fanatical religious groups, mercenary alliances, pirate organizations, smugglers, illegal traders, slavery. I’m not even going to mention the capsuleer issue.”
We both let that one hang in the air for an awkward amount of time.
“That’s just not the philosophy I buy into, Maleatu.” I began. “I think the political game has been corrupt for longer than either of us could remember. It’s an antiquated relic that only works because people constantly want change. They suffer and want better. Politicians have profited on that throughout the ages.” I leaned back, casually looking around his very office, humming gently to myself. “Those are lovely Republic tapestries, I must say.” I added with the smallest hint of sarcasm as they truly were breathtaking.
“I had them made by an artiste from a small tribe to the west. Lovely work, yes.” he said morosely, no immediate rebuttal to my statement. Instead, he picked up his cup of tea for another drink. I continued forward.
“I believe government needs to be transparent, working with the people, for the people, not over the people. There should be no difference in class or status between politicians and the people they represent. No hidden agendas, no ulterior motives, no false promises. What the people really deserve is someone who will speak for them, make their views heard no matter how obscure or unpopular that view may be. They need someone who can represent them, not dictate to them.”
“And that someone is you?” he said, a slight ire in his voice. “What are your views on the wars in null security space? How would you address that to your capsuleer demographic? What about this neverending war with the Amarr? Do you have an opinion on that? You can’t play all sides in a conversation or people will never know what you stand for. You must take a position. That’s how the game works.”
“That someone could be me, yes.” I paused, reflectively. “But it doesn’t have to be. I am not the answer, I am merely a representation of it. The answer is a better system of politics where trust is an actual commodity not a desperate pipe dream we hope exists.” I took a moment to gather my thoughts. “I have opinions – strong opinions. My mind never stops thinking about what transpires in this universe. For the most part, I keep them to myself. I don’t believe my own personal opinions should weigh in on a public platform. What I’ve been trying to get across to people these last few years is that it is their opinions and ideas that matter. If I can add to that, or give critical analysis of that, or even intelligently discuss that, then I will have accomplished what I set out to do.”
“Who is living the pipe dream now?” Shakor put back to me in between sips. “Your believing in the very thing you criticize – pipe dreams. You have a vision of a grand and austere utopian political system but fail to ignore the reality of what is in front of you. You need to play the game to get into a position of power or you will never be able to implement change. You are nothing but an optimistic fool.”
He smiled, confident that he had won our battle, and perhaps he had before I even walked in the door.
“Maybe you’re right.” I replied, a little subdued. “But maybe you’ve neglected to listen to the very people that empower you, surrounded in your ivory tower, ignorant to the plight of the populace. I am no better than any one of them, and they know it. I’ve made my mistakes. I’ve had my defeats. Through it all I’ve never backed down. I’ve always picked myself up again and pushed forward. I’ve been consistent, dedicated, passionate and disciplined in every aspect of my life. I was only able to do that because of the people. Because of their support, their belief. And now it’s time for me to believe in them once again.”
“And when they fail you once again?” he mocked.
“I will continue to believe in them.” I said with conviction.
I stood to leave.
“You’re done here.” Shakor said, ignoring that I was already standing.
“Yes, we are.” I replied, leaving him behind me, wishing for the last time though time would later reveal that not all wishes come true.