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The Bridge

Book III: The Starhell Mutiny

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 6, part 1 appears
in this issue.

Chapter 6: Twisting the Obvious

part 2 of 3

* * *

The Galactic Chronicler sat in his chair and thought of the mere two years he had yet before he retired to the home farm. Even now the thought excited him. He would, after all his years as a public servant, finally be able to have a quiet life, devoid of crisis and challenge. It was almost time, and he was tired, and he felt that he had earned it. Perhaps, with his recent discoveries and help to the Galactic Council he could apply for an exception and gain an early retirement. Surely he had earned that!

Just as he was letting his mind relax into a fantasy about how he would improve the home farm his assistant came hurriedly into his office. Looking up, the Galactic Chronicler asked Kolneer if he thought the Galactic Council could be induced to grant him an early retirement from his position.

“They already have, Sir,” Kolneer replied. “The Galactic Council, following the recommendation of Grand Minister Pwirkavi, has just removed you from office and made me Galactic Chronicler.”

“They have what?” asked his boss. “And what have they done with me?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but they have appointed you as the new Grand Minister to the Galactic Council.”

Before the shock was allowed to set in firmly, several attendants from the Galactic Council arrived at the Galactic Chronicler’s office and escorted Grand Minister-elect Xhelsher, kicking and screaming, to the Great Hall to take the oath of his new office. It seemed that “No” was not a word that they or the Ministers of the Galactic Council understood well.

Immediately upon the completion of that oath ex-Grand Minister Pwirkavi congratulated the new Grand Minister and told him that he felt much more secure now and would be able, because the Galactic Council was in such good hands, to retire confidently to his family farm in peace.

* * *

Kalvin Shapirov watched his wife sink into depression and wished he could do something. Yet what was there to do? Her goals seemed to have become impossible for her. Her embarrassment in the Galactic Council had been beyond humiliation. The people she had depended upon, those in the BGS, had proven to be fools. And now her own people — the people of New Earth — were talking about recalling her from her office as their Minister to the Galactic Council. What could happen next?

As he stood there wishing that he could come up with a solution, the chimes from the entrance sounded.

Kalvin opened the door and stood facing Grand Minister Xhelsher. Shocked because the Grand Minister had come to their door instead of summoning them to his office, Kalvin just stood there, open mouthed.

“May I come in?” asked Grand Minister Xhelsher. “I have come to see the Minister from New Earth.”

“So, they have already done it, have they? They’ve recalled her?”

“Recalled her! Nonsense! I would not allow it. Your wife, Maestro Shapirov, is much too valuable to the Galactic Council to put up with such foolishness. Now, if I may, I need to see her.”

Soon the Grand Minister was sitting across the room from Me’Avi Shapirov. And he was smiling at her.

“Me’Avi, I may call you Me’Avi... that is all right, is it not?”

“It is my name, Grand Minister. I suppose you may as well use it.”

“It is a grand name, one full of honor and accomplishment. It was the name, I believe of Jonkil da Laich’s mother. She was a magnificent lady, and I think that one named after her will be also.”

“You are very kind, Grand Minister, but after the stupidity of my actions at the Council I wonder that you even speak to me.”

“Nonsense, my dear, you did exactly right, considering your knowledge of the matter. Had you not stood up for those you believed in and trusted I would have been disappointed in you. That is why I want to talk with you. I have something to ask of you.”

“You are very kind, Grand Minister, I would like to be of help, if I may.”

“Good! The first thing you can do to be of help is to call me Kran. It is my name and if I can use yours it is only fair that you use mine.” Seeing the protest starting to show on Me’Avi’s face, he added, “I insist. I hope that we shall be working together a great deal and the use of long, boring, titles only takes time that needs to be used more profitably. You are Me’Avi and I am Kran.”

“All right... Kran. But, it will take me time to get used to. What was it you wanted to ask me?”

“There is a move in the Galactic Council to disband the Bureau of Galactic Security and move its operations to the Galactic Chronicler’s office. That move must be stopped. The Chronicler’s office is of an academic bent; it is not one well suited to doing the things that the BGS must be able to do. Such a thing would not only be the ruin of the Chronicler’s office, it would endanger the safety of our people.

“What the BGS needs is not to be disbanded, but to have its training programs updated so as to be able use research methods like those used in the Chronicler’s office.

“Because the BGS was defended by you in the Council, they will trust you when you bring this suggestion up to the Council. You will point out that the people of the BGS have skills that are needed and that tying them down to the academic atmosphere of the Chronicler’s office will interfere with their effectiveness.

“The new Galactic Chronicler — you may call him Kolneer, by the way; informality among peers is a tradition in the Chronicler’s office — will be summoned and asked his opinion of integrating the BGS into the Chronicler’s office. He will be adamant that such a thing is unthinkable, that the BGS is too important an agency to be slowed down by the Chronicler’s more deliberate methods. An agency that must respond to emergencies needs more independence of action than is possible in the Chronicler’s office.

“I will then agree with the suggestion and propose that you, Me’Avi, undertake the direction of a committee to overhaul the BGS and make it better able to perform its function. The Council will agree, thinking that I, like a normal politician, am setting you up for a failure because of your actions the other day. It is important that we let them think that. The Council must not know, politicians being what they are, that we are working together.

“They will be wrong. You will receive every bit of help that I can command. Then, when you have achieved your ‘miracle’, no one will remember the other day and they will again be comparing you to your grandmother.”

“Gran... Kran, this is most generous of you. Why do you pick me to do this?”

“Because, Me’Avi, you are more intelligent than ninety percent of the members of the Council, and you will accomplish what I want done. Then I can do what I want.”

“What,” asked a suspicious Me’Avi, “is it that you want to do?”

“You would do better to ask me what I don’t want. I don’t want this job the Council has forced on me. But I have it. I have always done my work to high standards, and I will do that in this job. My self-respect will allow no less; but I refuse to be trapped in this position longer than necessary.

“I want this situation over so that I can go home. I have been away from my home world for over seventy-five years. I do not want my retirement stolen from me.”

* * *

Katia sent a signal to Cyr to let him know there was trouble brewing. Cyr, who was on the other side of Starhell checking the new installation of tidal generators for the rapidly filling seas in that area, answered by satellite skip, “I’m pretty busy Katia; can it wait?”

“No, this is something that can’t wait. You have some pretty good engineers over there; let them earn their keep and you get back here as quickly as you can. This is too serious to broadcast on skip communications.”

Cyr, knowing Katia’s judgment in matters of importance, didn’t argue, but arranged for another ship to come and transport the engineers back when they were done , then hightailed it straight back to Starhell spaceport and settled down in his usual birth next to Harrigan’s Whelp.

Within seconds Katia’s holoform appeared in the control room of Alexei’s Pride. “Open some chairs, Cyr; we need to sit for this one.”

“Katia,” Cyr replied, “We are completely electronic beings, we hardly need to sit for anything.”

“Open some chairs anyway, Cyr. I used to be human and I still need at least to pretend to sit; and I have gotten rather used to talking to whatever holoform you are playing with in a sitting position.”

Chairs folded out from the bulkhead and Katia headed for her favorite, the one she had sat in when Alexei’s Pride was her official vessel and she was physically more substantial.

Cyr’s latest holoform appeared and stood by the other chair. “OK, Katia, now what is so important that we have to meet under several layers of security and without those on the Oversight Committee being present?”

“Cyr, do you remember a person named Kran Xhelsher?”

“Yes, Katia, I do. A very bright man. He has a lot of practical knowledge and the wisdom to use it. When you were Grand Minister you appointed him to the Chronicler’s office and he did quite well there. He is the present Galactic Chronicler.”

“No, Cyr, you are wrong on two things: one, I didn’t just appoint him to the Chronicler’s office, I did everything I could to maneuver him there. He would have been much too dangerous to our plans anywhere else that I could have put him. He was one of the most brilliant and savvy people I ever had working for me.”

“What was the second thing that you think I was wrong on?”

“Kran Xhelsher is not the present Galactic Chronicler. Pwirkavi nominated him, and the Council appointed him, as Grand Minister.”

Cyr, losing control of his fading holoform for a second, said only, “You’re right, Katia. I need to sit down.”

“With the exception of Jonkil, Alexei, and, maybe Charlie Philips, Kran Xhelsher is probably the smartest person I have ever known. He is also one of the best at finding practical means, physical means, of bringing about solutions to problems he encounters. Having him as Grand Minister may put us into a very difficult position.

“At this morning’s Council session he seemed to maneuver my granddaughter into overhauling the BGS. Me’Avi fought with him over the leaning of the Council to disband the BGS and have the Chronicler’s office take on the Galactic Council’s dirty work. Me’Avi is too bright to allow herself to be put into a position like that unless she has been guaranteed the resources she needs to complete that task.

“So she got ‘stuck’ with it. It was smoothly done. The Council is sure she is being punished for her little tantrum in the other session and that the possibility of her being a competition to them over Galactic Council policies is now diminished. She will now be able to do things they would earlier have denied her in her former position. She and the Grand Minister are working together in some kind of arrangement.

“That means we have to really get busy and get this system’s camouflaged identity finished. And, it also means that our identity will have to be ten times more convincing than we have yet planned.”

“Katia, you are almost always right about these things, but are you sure this time? I agree that with Xhelsher as Grand Minister we are in for a rough ride. And, if those two are working together, we multiply the roughness of the ride by a factor of ten; but what makes you so sure that they are working together.”

“Because the new Grand Minister, a person not experienced in political maneuvering, pulled this off in exactly the same way I would have done it. He used many of the same tricks I used to get him socked away in the Chronicler’s office, and he has topped it off by arranging an alliance with the one person in the Council who really does know about political maneuvering.”

* * *

The Associated Planets of the Cernon Sector served notice to the Galactic Council that they not only had no regrets or guilt over their fraudulent acts, they demanded that those bases set up during the crisis remain in use.

That demand was backed up by huge demonstrations of the peoples on each of the four planets. They were broadcast all over the area ruled by the Galactic Council. Then came the turn of the Ministers from the four planets to speak before the Council itself.

“It is time that the people of the Associated Planets of the Cernon Sector,” said the Minister from Plosa before the Galactic Council, “be accorded the same protections and attentions that other sectors are given. We feel that a part of the Fleet must remain in the Cernon Sector to protect us as they are protecting other, older sectors. Continuing to keep a reasonable number of Fleet vessels in our Sector and continuation of the operation of those new bases will negate the need for the Associated Planets to build a fleet of its own.”

Proceed to part 3...

Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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