Ares Chronicles: 3: The Changing of the Guard

Chapter 3: The Changing of the Guard

The man, Mor Draemien, marched down the corridors of power with determination. One only had to look at his face to realise this was not someone to be trifled with. He marched right up to the assistant at the 39th Parallel. She looked at him and waved him by, pausing only to register his furious expression.

There he made his way around the near-empty corridors to the office of the Director. He opened the door, and flung the paper down on the bed.

'DuPont!'

DuPont stirred and woke up. After initially registering he was not alone, his response was lightning quick. He jumped out of bed and rolled on to the floor.

'Mor Draemien. What are you doing here?' He responded with more surprise than anger at seeing his friend.

'Look at that.' The paper showed quite clearly on the bed, and they needn't scroll through the pages to look for what he meant. There, was a picture of Aedal Eshem and Molex Reeves on the front page. The title read 'The New Political Alliance?'

'Arrrghhh.' Said DuPont, rubbing his eyes. He didn't quite understand why Mor Draemien was so irate.

'Yes, 'aaarghh' my friend. Aaaargh indeed.' He paced around the room. 'Do you realise, this puts Molex Reeves in front of the popular vote?'

'This can't be.' DuPont said, taking up the paper, surprised at seeing it already begin to self-disintegrate. He was more surprised the leader of the Cossack party had time to come and rant at him on Jupiter Command's primary station.

His friend said nothing, but just continued to pace around the room muttering.

'No, it can't be. This is a 3 party system. 2 major political parties can't align. This is nonsense.' He put down the paper. 'Don't worry.'

' Yes worry. It's against the Convention of course, but Aedal Eshem can still go and tell his followers to simply vote for Molex Reeves. They know they haven't got a chance.'

Now it was DuPont's turn to wake up to the awful truth.

'You mean, he's telling the whole Ragna party to vote for another party?'

'You're quick...' Muttered Mor Draemien as he continued to pace around the room.

DuPont took no notice of his friend. Hot-tempered and prone to ravings, Mor Draemien's remarks were best taken out of context. If he really did want to insult you, he wouldn't do it like that.

'There has to be something...'

'Yes, we can go and tell the Corporate Senate not to bother.'

'Wait. Don't do this to me Draemien.'

The Director of Jupiter Command stared at the paper. Then he put it down and threw in the bin. Then he put on his military jacket, buttoned up the sleeves, brushed his hair, put on his hat, and straightened his uniform.

'We're going in.'

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'Director DuPont to see you sir.'

Director Naccali put down the pen he had been using to write with and turned to face the door to his office. He was a busy man. Over the last 36 hours, he had been engaged in frenzied political lobbying for a position on the Cossack cabinet. Now that he had a worthwhile goal he devoted all his attention to it. Sleep, food, activities were all lost to his consuming efforts in his moral crusade.

Director DuPont entered the room and sat down on a chair he salvaged from the other end of the small office.

'It's nice to see you Gene.' Was all he said.

'Thankyou Avril. I hope you've come to speak to me about a position on the cabinet.'

DuPont betrayed a moment of confusion. A position on the cabinet?

'No, actually, I came to speak to you about this.' He withdrew a paper from his pocket and unfolded it. Wordlessly he handled it to Director Naccali.

'What is this?' He looked up.

'Your, our, leadership challenge. It looks like Molex is using illegal methods, going against the Convention, in order to hold onto a term which the people do not want him to hold on to.' He finished with an air of grave injustice.

Naccali spent some time reading it. Had he not a newfound interest in politics, he would have brushed it aside as a minor inconvenience.

'Tell me Gene, what do you call that?' Said DuPont, willing Naccali to pronounce the inevitable description.

'Injustice. At the deepest level.' He handed the paper back to DuPont. 'He is using the system to promote his own ends, at the expense of the people.'

'Yes, yes exactly!' Said DuPont, wringing his hands.

'We must stop him.' Naccali got up. He had no more interest in writing speeches. It was time for action. His enemy had made himself known. A surprise yes, that Molex Reeves would be the one. Colour his designs by calling it 'a voluntary commitment to democracy' but only a fool would be taken in by that. He was exploiting the ESF for his own gain. This was clearcut.

'I believe I can get this trumped up as something worthy of impeachment. I'll contact the Corporate Senate and the Jihilites. They'll know what it means to cross the ESF. From now on, this will be stopped.'

DuPont smiled, stood up, and would have shaken hands, but Naccali was clearly feverish enough not to notice.

'Good. Perhaps I'll join you and Mor Draemien tomorrow.'

'Eh?' Naccali looked up.

'Oh, he's decided to give you a position in his cabinet. Minister of Justice, that is, if you don't mind...'

'Well...' Naccali felt somewhat flattered. 'I only mean to help reform the ESF. I don't actually intend to gather support for the Cossacks. My duties to Mercury Command are rather extensive.'

'My friend, they'll only have to hear your name to know which party to vote for. You have something of a reputation.' Naccali blushed, ever so slightly.

'Farewell.' Said Dupont. And all the while smiling, walked out.

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Admiral Murda was busy writing reports when Jarrid came in, escorted with 2 guards. Part of her personal escort, which she kept at all times. She was more mindful now of the fragility of the ESF, and also of her fellow Directors. It has never been proven, but she had evidence that past Directors had occasionally reduced competition in a slightly less than subtle way.

'Greetings Jarrid, or should I call you Dreas?'

'Either way will do, Director.' He grinned.

'So,' She focused her full attention on the man in front of her. 'How did it go?'

'Apart from what I wrote, well?' He considered for a moment. It wasn't as if he didn't expect this kind of question... 'I was somewhat impressed by the way he moved. I think Union training must involve alot of drills.'

'Yes... that would be a correct observation.'

'And I think I told you, he seemed awfully eager to discuss relations, like in regards to war. I think it's fair to say they're planning something.'

'Again, I'd be surprised if they weren't.'

'Some of his reactions... I'll put some money on the Union having a low opinion of the ESF. Don't ask me to back that up, I just got that feeling.'

She nodded.

'And one other thing. This is really in the realms of quasi-initiative guessing but,' He was covering himself. 'I sort of got the impression that they were sort of... unfamiliar with their own technology.'

'Indeed.' Said Murda, genuinely impressed.

It was obvious that there wasn't much else that wasn't in the report. He had been quite thorough with it. The details of an entire 10 minutes of conversation, right there on her desk.

She removed another pad from a drawer and place it there. It was different from the other pad. While some holopads were used for private information retrieval/storage, there were others, more popular, that actually projected holograms, in 3-D space. She activated one now. It was 3-D, but it showed a 2-D image. It was a list of names of various systems and pirate organisations.

'Now,' She said. 'This is half of the pirate systems he let us know about.' She moved the list down. And down. There were clearly alot of them.

'Pirate activity has very obviously been a major activity for funding for the Union. Now, you tell me. For this level of funding required, and his level of concernment, do you think it was a very important thing in the Union's budget?'

He fidgeted at the awkward question.

'I don't know... I couldn't really, well.'

'I would say no.' She de-activated the holo. 'This is only a very simple demonstration of the enormous resources the Union is able to muster for fairly simple pirate organisations.'

'Now then, your next mission will be of a still more delicate nature.' He nodded. After the election (and successfull, hopefully re-election of Molex Reeves) he would visit Beurasaj and witness a naval demonstration from the newly-commissioned 6th fleet. He would not be going there as a spy, but as an incognito ambassador from the ESF, with all the clearance and right-of-way that didn't imply.

'For the mission, you will have to be refitted with oracular implants.'

'What?' He rose from his desk. Oracular implants were artificial eyes, manufactured usually for the visually-challenged. They were expensive, rather scarce, and more importantly, required the removal of atleast one eye.

'It's necessary. I'm sorry, but it is necessary.'

'No. I can observe perfectly well with my own eyes.' The guards by the door, at a signal, tensed. Jarrid/Dreas knew he didn't have some at the back of his head, but he could see a difficult situation when there was one. This was a difficult situation.

'Alright.' He relented.

She smiled. 'You'll be a national hero after this.'

'Oh yes?'

'Of course, an incognito one.'

enjoy

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There's just no way around that 'enjoy' is there?

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There are only 3 kinds of people: those who can count, and those who can't.

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