Saturday, November 20, 2021

Extremus: Year 19

It’s been a week since the new administration took over governing responsibilities within the passenger population. Ovan has not been doing too well with it. He was extremely excited when he first decided to switch over to the crew, and become the first Second Lieutenant. This excitement waned soon after they announced his choice, and revealed to all that he would no longer be Passenger First Chair. Many were happy for him, but others saw it as a betrayal. He wasn’t open about how much he hated the crew, but his most loyal followers were well aware of his position. He now looked like a traitor, so they immediately turned their backs on him. He figured he would be able to hold onto them no matter what cause he fought for, but that was a gross miscalculation. As far as he’s aware, his former loyalists all lost interest in the movement, and have forgotten all about it. It’s hard to tell what they’re thinking, or what they’re doing, because the passengers don’t talk to him as much as they used to.
Still, Ovan tried to remain positive, and was hopeful that his new position would grant him the power he would need to execute real change on this vessel. The induction ceremony they threw for him was well-planned, but not very many people showed up, so it was a disappointment. Those who came didn’t seem to show that they felt the same way about it, but he expected gobs of fans, all cheering him on. Perhaps he never really had any fans at all. Perhaps they only voted for him in the first place because he was different, and not because they agreed with his political positions. Perhaps he’s been wholly delusional regarding his status amongst the people.
Still, Ovan tried to remain positive. He read up on the bylaws, and figured out what his duties were. They didn’t say much about what a second lieutenant was responsible for, but he assumed that would be a good thing. If they didn’t specifically spell out what he was allowed to do, then they also couldn’t preclude him from deciding what his own limitations were. If he was clever, maybe he didn’t have to stop being the ad hoc passenger chair. It’s not like the crew are really this completely separate group that doesn’t interact with the passengers at all. They can make decisions too, and if he could ingratiate himself with the new administration, he might be able to be the power behind the throne, so to speak. Unfortunately, his former Second Chair, who took over for him as First Chair, would have nothing to do with him. They weren’t friends, but they had grown accustomed to each other. According to election procedures, the runner up in any major election automatically secures the leadership role immediately below the one they were going for. Then, if their superior can—and chooses to—run again as an incumbent, the subordinate maintains their job as a running mate, instead of being replaced by whoever loses. Harper seemed content in this role, but he has turned out to just be another power-hungry asshole who was more than happy to fill his seat.
Still, Ovan tried to remain positive. He wouldn’t necessarily have to suck up to Harper for too long, because the election was coming up, and someone else could be elected. Yes, Kondo Harper swiftly announced that he would run for election, but that didn’t mean he was going to win. After all, he lost his first attempt at the election six years ago, so hopefully the electorate would remember that. Once a loser, always a loser, Ovan always says. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. Mother-effing Kondo Harper won his second official campaign, and became the third passenger chair of Extremus. This jerk could actually lead the passengers for the next twelve years, and due to Ovan’s premature abdication of the throne, he could potentially be the longest-lasting passenger chair ever. That would be unbearable, knowing that Kondo-Freaking-Harper might outlast Ovan ‘Rockstar’ Teleres. The history books would not be suitable as toilet paper if that’s what they ended up saying.
Still, Ovan must remain positive.
Right now, he’s sitting in the Consigliere Irenaeus Corten’s office. He’s an advisor to the government—more often than not, the higher executives—and was largely responsible for making this entire mission happen, and for advocating for passenger rights. The captain has the Admiralty, and the first chair has the Consigliere program. At some point, Corten will retire, and personally appoint a replacement. The assumption is that he’ll choose from the pool of still-living former chairs, but there are no laws regarding this. Technically, he could select a nonverbal baby to succeed him, and no one would be able to stop him. Word is he’s going to be retiring in the next couple of years. That’s why it’s so important for Ovan to meet with him. He’s already made the decision to get his chair back, but if that doesn’t work, he’s still planning to quit the crew, and he needs something to look forward to.
Irenaeus walks in from his cabin. “Mr. Teleres, I will say that this meeting is highly irregular. Or should I say, Lieutenant Teleres.”
“No, please, call me mister. Actually, I would rather you call me...Chair.”
Irenaeus laughs. “Don’t hold your breath.”
“I’m stepping down,” Ovan claims. “And I’m running for reëlection.”
“You’re trying to get back into civil service? After eight months? Is that even legal?”
“You tell me, you wrote the laws.”
He was clearly just being ornery. He leans back a little, and sighs. “It is.”
Ovan smiles like a politician. “Can I count on your vote?” This is something that the consigliere can’t do. This is exclusively an advisory position, and he sacrificed his official voice when he took the job. He’s the only person on the entire ship who can’t vote under any circumstances, in fact. Even Admiral Thatch can vote on crew matters.
“I imagine you mean my support?”
“It would go a long way.”
“I dunno anymore. Harper doesn’t listen to me, not like you did.”
“All the more reason to get him out. Work with me here, Irena.”
“Same old Ovan, always plotting.”
“I’m a shark, I can’t stop. I took this job because I thought it would give me more power.”
“If you had asked me before you accepted it, I would have told you not to do it. I can’t believe those two morons managed to trick you into it. I thought I taught you better.”
“They didn’t trick me! I just...didn’t know what a second lieutenant was.”
“That’s exactly what tricking means!”
“Well, I have time to get out, and I’m asking for your help. I’m not gonna go through with it if I have nowhere to go. At least second lieutenant is a title.”
“Ovan, I can’t guarantee you the first chair position. Harper has a lot of clout now. I probably couldn’t even get you a mailman job.”
“There is something you can guarantee me.”
The Consigliere knows what Ovan means by that, and he’s quite plainly not happy about it. Again, it’s not a real law, but there’s an unwritten rule that you do not ask to be considered for his replacement. It’s considered bad form, but Ovan’s desperate. The conversation has been rather light until now, but Irenaeus’ face changes dramatically.
Ovan quickly jumps back in, “before you say anything, remember that I didn’t actually ask anything of you.”
“I know what you want. Just speak freely.”
This feels like another trick, but he has to do something. Everything he’s tried has failed. He shouldn’t have been so focused on destroying the crew. It has proven to be his downfall. But the thing about falling is that you can always get back up. Ovan has to get back up, and keep fighting. “I am the best man for the job. No, I didn’t serve as long as Ebner, and I may not be as popular right now as Harper, but since when does any of that matter? I didn’t have any experience when I ran in the first place, but I think I proved more than capable of being a strong and powerful leader. And the consigliere job has never been about popularity.”
“No, it’s about respect, and you don’t have much left.”
“Well, just because you lose respect, doesn’t mean you can’t get it back. Let me show you I can get it back.”
“How would you do it? I can’t appoint you if you’re on the crew, so you would have to quit now without having one foot on the dock. You’re probably gonna get wet before you reach land again. You said you were a shark, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you swim.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sort of lost in this metaphor.”
Irenaeus rephrases, “how will you fare with no official power? How much can you control the population if you’re one of them; if you’re just another idiot passenger, with a tiny cabin, and no teleportation privileges. Your boy, Yavo managed to steal the mess hall from the crew, and gave it to the civilians. He was nobody, but he still took what he wanted.”
“He did that on my orders.”
He responds quickly, “but the people didn’t know that! They respect him, because he told them to, not because you did! I need to see you do something like that yourself. If you want the seat from under my ass, you have to show me you can take taking something else first. We’ll call it an audition.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“It’s your job to figure that out...and it’s your job to get it done. Quit the crew, go back to the passenger section, and then climb out of your hole with your bare hands. Then—and only then—will I entertain the idea of selecting you to backfill my job after I retire.” He holds up an index finger. “Or...stay where you are, and take what you want from that side of the ship. I honestly don’t care which. Just between you and me, I haven’t so much as started writing a short list of potential replacements. I don’t even know when I’m gonna step down, if ever. There’s no law that says I can’t die in this office.”
Ovan leads a moment of silence, soaking in the Consigliere’s words of wisdom, and thinking about what he wants to do. They just sit in their chairs, staring at each other. After five minutes, without speaking, Ovan stands up and leaves. Irenaeus doesn’t say anything either.
He heads to the bridge, where both Captain Halan Yenant, and First Lieutenant Mercer happen to be. There are no viewports here, because if you tried to look outside, all you would see is the blinding doppler glow of maximum sublight reframe speeds. Instead, most of the screens before them are relaying ship critical information, like power levels, heat dispersion, and life support systems. The center screen is different, though. It’s presently showing the Second Lieutenant’s avatar in a video game called Quantum Colony. He’s been trying to get the Captain into it, but the latter remains disinterested. Ovan must admit that the two of them have been cordial with him. Despite the trick that put him in this position in the first place, he hasn’t felt rejected or excluded by any of the crew. They appear to be professional and welcoming. Perhaps he misjudged all of these back in the day. He’ll have to remember that when he’s Captain.
“Lieutenant Teleres,” Halan begins. “You’re here just in time to watch Mercer show me yet another thing in the Delta Tri system that I don’t give a shit about.”
“Interesting,” Ovan lies. He too doesn’t give a shit about any of this. He steps over to the security guard presently assigned to the bridge, who’s as engrossed in the game as anyone else. Quickly, but carefully, Ovan removes the guard’s sidearm, and before anyone can do anything about it, shoots both Mercer and Halan in the head. Then, to protect himself, he holds the gun against Admiral Thatch’s head. He’s been assigned to run the stupid lights, so Ovan doesn’t feel threatened by him, but everyone else would be really butthurt if he died, so he’s a good hostage. “Everyone get the hell out of here right now. I feel like I don’t have to tell you the consequences of not complying. Am I wrong?”

No comments :

Post a Comment