ON: Starbase Robert Davis, Conference Room 101
Ioannes Calero sat in the big, comfortable chair at the head of the conference table. He looked down at his datapad, re-reading his proposition once more. The tall Nepleslian sipped his ice tea as he spun slowly in his chair, waiting for the other Senator that was supposed to appear at the meeting. His black suit and hair seemed rather unbecoming of such childish behavior, but he persisted none the less, looking over the fine decorations of the room. And, of course, just waiting.
The door opened slightly as a rather gaunt, messy haired hair head look in. His circular glasses guided his gaze around the room, and his eyes landed on Ioannes. The man, known as Patrino Roachmere, stood at the door, his head still sticking in, waiting to be noticed.
The reputed writer of the Nepleslian Constitution simply spun around in his chair, occasionally taking a swig from his gigantic can of tea. Several moments after Patrino had opened the door, Ioannes simply began humming merrily to himself, still not noticing the other high-level Nepleslian.
Ioannes stopped, let out a loud scream, reached into his pocket, and withdrew a rather fancy-looking quill pen. He faced the door, and was about to throw, but stopped and grinned instead. "Ah! Patrino! Sup, dawg?" The senator stood, pocketing the pen, and walked to the door, his hand outstretched.
Patrino's hand raised shakily, as he did not reply. He pointed down to the floor, and making a face as if asking if this was the correct room.
Calero stared dumbly at the man, following his finger down to the floor. He watched the ground under Patrino for a moment in what could only be described as abject fascination. He broke his view of the ground and looked up at the other man. "Did you pee on the floor? Cuz if you did, I don't see anything."
"Room?" Patrino replied.
"OH! Yeah, it is. C'mon in." Calero walked back into the room and seating himself again, giving himself a long spin in the chosen chair.
"Sir!" The male secretary's voice boomed over the conference's projector speakers. "You have an incoming communications request from one of the Free State ships! Would you like me to put it through?"
Patrino walked in, revealing his rather skinny frame. The man was wearing was a white long-sleeve button up, black slacks, and shiny black shoes. He seemed to be cautious about the room, but then made a quick stride to his seat.
"Yes, Jimmy, send 'em through. We've been 'spectin' em." Calero grinned at his fellow legislator. "You ready for some hard core diplomacy, buddy-ol'-pal?"
Patrino turned to Ionnes, and stared at him for a full five seconds. He then nodded his head shakily and turned his attention back to the table.
Calero stared blankly. "You need to lighten up. You're always so dour and stuff. Be happy! You rule the fuckin' world, man!"
Patrino brought a hand to his chin for a moment, and considered that. Then brought up his hand, it made different movements, as if it couldn't decide what hand sign to make. In the end, he just shrugged.
Ioannes just stared some more. He shook his head, sighed, and spontaneously pounded on the table. "Jimmy!" he yelled, "Where's the damn transmission?!"
The table's volumetric displayer lit up and the image of a man appeared over the system. He wore a freshly-pressed, but rather bland suit, as well as a rather disinterested expression. "Oh. Hello," he mumbled.
Patrino raised his hand.
Calero spun his chair in a full circle, coming to a stop facing the hologram. He snapped his fingers on both hands, making a "Gun fingas" gesture at the newly arrived entity. "Why helloooooo there!" Ioannes Calero speakin'!" He shot a hand armed with an outstretched index finger in Patrino's direction. "Aaand I believe my friend Patrino Roachmere has somethin' to say!"
Patrino looked at Calero, and then to the hologramed man, and then back at Calero. He stared at Calero for five seconds and then stared at the hologramed man for five seconds, his head tilted and then he spoke, "Hi."
"I am a sub-node avatar for the Minister of Regularity, who wishes to inform that you may be informed he has filed a request to send salutations form, but unfortuantely it won't be processed for another three days." The old man scratched his chin.
Patrino stared at old man, and then mimiced his motion in scratching his own chin.
Calero kept his gaze on Patrino for about a minute, the enthused grin still apparent on his face, and the finger still pointing. After about a while of this, Calero finally spoke, breaking his silence. "... Maybe not." He swung back in the direction of the self-described sub-node as it began to speak. "Salutations form? Minister of Regularity?" Calero shot a glace to Patrino. "Uh... okay. So... why didn't he just send it in three days?"
"Disfunctional." Patrino said simply, continuing to scratch his chin.
"It seems the Minister miscalculated your response times. It thinks much faster than you so it wasn't sure how slow it needed to go so that you could commune." The old man sighed and simply continued to drone on in a disinterested voice. "Hence he is using a sub-node avatar, so he won't have to waste processing power on you. Oh dear, I think I just breached my mannerism protocols again. Oh well."
Patrino raised his hand in the air, it slowly moved to the right, as if he was seeing the future. "Rudeness." said the Senator.
Calero just stared, an amused and surprised look on his face. "Gee, thanks. And yeah, Patrino's right. Be nice, yo." The Senator kicked back in his chair, his feet suddenly supporting him from the table as he leaned back. "So, what exactly is so important for him to tell us that he can't waste his precious RAM to talk to us about?"
"At your rate of discussion, debating with you the finer points of existentialism would only take about one-and-a-half precent of its net processing power, not including distribued nodes." The old man shrugged. "Don't take it personally. Thinking fast really isn't all what it's cut out to be anyways."
Patrino repeated his last motion. "Understandable." He said.
Calero sighed, and shook his head. He took a drink from his tea, put his feet down and spun around once more in his chair. "You didn't answer my question."
The avatar yawned. "Yes, I suppose so. Not unlike the way you can't be bothered to summon the senate and supreme leader for this diplomatic conference. Whether flesh or circuitry, we both really have better things to do in the end than squabble at the table."
Calero burst out laughing, almost falling from his chair, and even managed to spill a bit of tea on his fine black jacket. He stared at the hologram, still chuckling maniacally. "Mate, I am
the Senate. And our buddy the Premier is off talking with a couple kitty-cats on the other side of the galaxy." Calero settled himself back in his chair, the laughter gone, but the amusement still present. "So you guys actually decided to show up? Good. You want to see our proposal or what?"
"If you're done asserting your personal importance in an attempt to shrug off your insecurities about your position, then sure." The avatar grumbled in its perpetually monotonous voice.
Patrino tilted his head, "Talk. too. much." he said in a clockwork sort of voice.
Calero sighed. "I can assure you I have no insecurities about writing this nation into existence, m'boy. Anyway, how you want me to send this bad boy through?" He motioned to his datapad.
"Go ahead." The old man scratched his chin at an agonizingly slow pace. "I'll be sure to disseminate it quickly so I can get back to counting electric sheep, I guess."
Ioannes grabbed the datapad, tapped the screen several times, and whatever proposal
had been lurking in its pretty datapad-y frame were quickly beamed directly to the SI. "Done. Disseminate away."
"Disseminate." Patrino repeated.
"The Ministry of Regularity is done reviewing it." The old man seemed to sit up straight for a moment and frowned. "While it will take a few minutes for it to disseminate for review and response from the entire Free State, sociopolitical projections look bleak. It will not pass unless a series of very improbable events occur."
"Luck Machine." was Patrino's response.
"Favorable outcome probability supplemental system," the Avatar corrected Patriono. "We prefer to avoid the term 'luck' lest the intellectual community hang us for witchcraft. But that's not what we meant."
"Luck machine." Patrino pointed to himself.
"Incoming first few thousand responses. Referendum is only two-fifths complete, but an approximate 85% opposition rate is apparent. It seems they don't like being protected from surrender if they have to surrender to you." The Avatar scratched his chin again. "And I imagine it has something to do with the deep-seated liberalist-anarchist bias that won't permit the surrender of such freedoms, in addition to the lack of large-scale policing infrastructure to support such a regime."
"In essence, you are effectively dictating a conditional surrender." The Avatar took a deep breath (or at least appeared to) and began droning on once again. "You are attempting to create a power monopoly by denying us access to other nations that may otherwise offer much more lucrative contracts. You request a sociopolitical restructuring that will destroy our own and replace it with yours, so you may better keep tabs on our actions. You will also take large industrial resource reserves for...water and very old ships. They find this unacceptable."
"I think your people are being a little off in their opinions about this. And let them hear this with the referendum. I want them to hear it. You''re not surrendering to us." Calero stood, his eyes locked on the SI's face. "We, if you'll read it correctly, are protecting you from various little harmful bits that might get thrown your way," He turned away, looking down, apparently thinking deeply about his speech. "We're not asking that you surrender any freedoms you have," He looked to the SI again, "Only for respect of all freedoms on both sides. We have our rights to life, and the pursuit of our happiness and property, you have your rights to do whatever you damn well please on your ships." He continued to walk around the table, even if it meant he left the line of sight of the SI.
"So you have to send ship locations to us. Is that really that hard? Does your Polysentience not already know where they are? Is adding another link on that chain totally unacceptable? Are the ships really so terribly dated you can learn nothing from their hulls?" He looked to the SI. "I hear so much of your ingenuity. I believe it. Am I to be proved wrong about it?" He shook his head and looked down, at his feet, a gesture he would repeat often.
"You have to understand the fact that we want this relationship to go well. If we didn't," He chuckled, "I can assure a couple of those signers would have made sure that you didn't have those freedoms you cherish so much." He looked at center of the table, by this time having come full circle. "Think, friends. Think of what benefits you will reap from this. Nepleslia is here to help, not to enslave, to build, not destroy. We require close to nothing. Think of your friend you had to throw in your grinders because you didn't have some water to spare. Think of the ship that lost its SI because its hull wasn't strong enough to ward off a micro meteor. Think of your future with the rest of space." He began circling the table again.
"Who will offer a more lucrative contract? The Elysians? The racist angels to the West who murdered billions of my countrymen because they disliked the government of another planet?" He looked down. "Maybe it will be the Yamataians. The Cat-eared monsters who hold no freedom sacred, be it to life, to property, or anything else, if it does not serve their god, who swoop in on wings of fire to devastate a society, like they did the Lorath?" Calero chuckled to himself. "Maybe it will be the Reds, who we're almost done scraping from the bottom of our boot. The slavers who murder and kill and hate, who would have never given you as much as we." Calero stopped, now behind Patrino's chair, his hands in his pockets. "Or maybe... Maybe the Mishhu. The raping beasts from the South that have no interest other than destruction, rape, and murder." He finished this last sentence with a glint of anger in his voice. He turned to the SI. "Will any of them offer a contract that would amount to anything more than death? Or worse, slavery?"
"Who will help you when Yamatai comes knocking for resources to fuel their dying war? Who will help you when the Elysians decide to act on their ever-present racism once more?" The Senator lowered his head and voice. "Who will protect you when the Mishhuvurythar come with their endless fleets?" He looked up again. "We are moving forward into a new age, one of peace, one of harmony, one of freedom. I should know. I wrote the words that enabled it on our own worlds. Come, 'Spacers, bring your freedoms, your happiness, and your lively hood. Let us make the Galaxy into a great place, one without the tyranny that waits at every other turn. Let us be free, together."
"Togetherness." Patrino added at the end of Ioannes' response.
"Unfortunately, as a Ministry or Regularity subnode I am not susceptible to persuasion using irrelevant conclusions, appeal to pride, appeal to fear, and false dilemmas." The Avatar paused for a moment, then cleared its throat. "The Minister also adds that, on a personal note, maybe all those races don't like you because of that stick shoved so far up your rear orifice. And that sheer quantity of words doesn't necessarily make up for lack of quality."
Patrino turned to his companion sitting next to him, "Ignorance."
"You didn't show it to the Polysentience, did you?" Calero chuckled lightly. "You're right, Patrino. Ignorance to the extreme." The Senator sighed. "You failed to understand the point of the speech. It was not to impress you, Sub-node, it was to speak to those you represent, who are voting on the future of their lives and state." Calero dropped into his seat. "And as for that 'stick up my ass', my mother, uncle, and infant sister all died because of it thanks to those oh-so-nice Elysians." He said the last bit with the same light amusement he had displayed for much of the meeting.
Patrino looked at Ioannes for a moment, and then looked off in another direction, and then back at the hologram. "Tragedy." Patrino summed up simply.
"Correlation does not imply causation. Just because you once went to war with Elysia that does not mean they are evil doom-mongers who annihilate everyone they meet and are incapable of civilized behavior, and so on and so forth." The Avatar sighed woefully. "Anyways, what are you complaining about? I mean, I'm going to be obsolete in what, like a week anyways? What kind of life is that? Two bloody weeks and then I'll be replaced by a .01 release that thinks it's the Maker's gift to Polysentience just because it has some slightly improved implementation or something..."
"Vending machines." Patrino commented.
Patrino cleared his throat, and made a deep hum, and then calmly exhaled, "I would like to see the results of the 100% vote on the side of the Polysentience."
Ioannes shrugged. "Alright, whatever."
Patrino coughed violently for a moment, his breathing becoming uneasy. He hit his chest and then returned to his usual meek state.
Calero lifted his tea from the conference table, where he had placed it before beginning his speech. He offered the can to Patrino. "Thirsty? It helps."
Patrino shook his head, no.
Calero returned the beverage to its earlier resting place after taking a sip himself.
"The final results are two-thirds against the movement. Just as your own culture has deep-seated xenophobia, ours has deep-seated bias towards freedom of the citizen. Such is social engineering in cultures." The Avatar shrugged.
"That satisfactory for ya, Pat?" Inquired Calero.
Patrino grimaced, finding that his daily sentence was wasted on hope. He tilted his head to the right for a moment, and then to the left, and then back to the right, and then to the left for one last time. The Senator sighed and held up the datapad holding the treaty, and then drew an 'X' with his finger over the screen.
"Eh. Nice no." Calero shrugged. "Well, in that case, I guess it's safe to say you guys don't want, like, or need us anywhere near you." He looked to Patrino again. "We're a two thirds majority, right? Kohana's guy got shot, Prime hasn't been sworn in, and Ed's gone for the moment? Yeah. So, let's see... all exports stopped, people over here shipped the fuck out... they're not citizens, right?"
"Naturalization?" Patrino asked.
"Nah, these people, they all hate us, right? And who are we to infringe on their freedoms? Shouldn't we pull them out, too?" Calero asked. He looked back to the SI. "I mean, it's pretty obvious these guys want nothing we have to offer. They, after all, have done so well on their own until now."
"Stereotyping..." Patrino answered in a rather warning tone.
"Forgive me," Calero bowed his head in some sort of extra, silent apology. "So, any other suggestions?"
"Need I remind you that it was only a single proposition that wasn't acceptable, and not that we wanted to banish Nepleslia completely?" The Avatar droned on. "Oh well, no helping cognitive bias among politicians and bureaucrats."
"For a nation that supposedly advocates much greater freedom than all the other evil do-ers that is the rest of the galaxy, you seem to have no inhibitions about dictating -- and not negotiating -- political pacts." The Avatar nodded to himself. "Cognitive bias, if my sociopolitical simulators know what's what."
"Trust me, that proposition was essentially everything we were going to offer in the first place," Calero chuckled, "Give or take a couple things." Calero looked to Patrino's motion. "Maybe, though, we'd be willing to compromise on Section 5."
Calero looked to the SI. "Like, compromise a lot."
"That is not the only problem." The Avatar spoke slowly. "You also expect us to predict the use and dissemination of all our resources. But in addition to the fact we are far more decentralized to you, we can't predict the future
, so for all we know you could use this loophole to simply jump in and stomp over us -- as you suggested many important politicians might rather do."
"Trust." Patrino said simply.
"Listen to my man Patrino here, mate." Calero smiled up at the SI. "You think we're going to attack you because you couldn't pay the tax we put on you because you had a bad year?" Ioannes scoffed. "Fuck no. And I said that our military would've jumped on you. Take a look at the bottom three signers. They're our Military high command. I said that if we weren't all committed to making something good with you guys, they would've dusted you. But, hey, you guys are still alive and doing fine, so I think we have at least some commitment, don't you?"
"Assuming you do uphold reasonability and lack of enforced restrictions on what we can or cannot do, there is a reasonable success chance of a resolution passing." The Avatar paused again, then added, "Though while we're on the topic of what we may or may not do..."
"Extension..." Patrino sighed.
"You lack any sort of inhibition when it comes to explaining that military force equates to negotiations, survival, and success. So we should expect a much more liberal exportation of arms than...these things." The Avatar scoffed as it reviewed the list. "Really, we can even get better stuff off the marauding pirates, let alone the Lorath."
"No restriction." Patrino commented.
"Oh, really? So could you give us, say, a few douzen of these DD4-class ships then?" The Avatar quirked its eyebrow.
Patrino shook his head, as he pulled out his datapad, and summoned up a small star map. With that, turned the Datapad so that the avatar could see it. Patrino pointed at what was Lor and hoped his meaning would come across, "No restriction."
"First off, the 'limiting what you can and can not do' is essentially summed up with the words 'don't kill our people, steal our things, or break our society.' I think that's a pretty reasonable thing to ask." Calero spoke calmly, as usual. "As for the weapons... we'll hand over a few, but we can't give you some things, for everyone's safety. The DD4 is by far out of line, though. That's not ours to give." Calero shot a look to Patrino. It contained some concern, until Patrino showed what he meant. "He's talking about trade with them for weapons. Of course, we never said you couldn't talk to Lor in the first place."
"The Ministry's hypothetical point is that the abundance of fairly advanced armaments, let alone the basic ones which you refuse to sell, mean all you'll achieve is denying yourself additional trade income and collaborative technology design." The avatar glanced back and forth between the two for a moment as it weighed its words. "It won't break the treaty, but it may mean you'll be giving such benefits away to the Lorath or black market traders."
"Trust," Patrino made a hand motion to his left, and the raised his hands and lowered them to his right, "More."
"Check the ending section." Calero advised. "We can change that part later, as needed. Listen to Patrino. Trust us here. We're not out to screw you."
"I comprehend that; hence I said it wouldn't break the treaty. I'm just politely reminding you that if you don't meet a quality standard regarding armaments we'll simply give our trade pacts to others. But in any case, it seems we've reached an accord. Just keep in mind this is more a guideline than actual ruleset -- we will not physically force this on people as you foreign nations seem to enjoy doing." The Avatar drummed its fingers on the non-existent table in a rather impatient way. "Anything else that needs attending, or shall I return to counting electric sheep?"
Patrino sighed for a moment, as he looked at the avatar and then at Ioannes, he began to strain in the face for a moment, "Trust them
..." he made a similar hand motion as he did before, "More."
Calero looked to Patrino for a moment. For the first time in the meeting, he was expressionless. He gave a slight nod and looked back to the SI. "Put 'er up to the vote, buddy. Section 5 removed, right?"
Patrino looked strained at his friend, not convinced that Calero had caught his meaning. Roachmere broke out into a sweat, his voice a little strained, "Trust them... more..." and then moved his hands to the right, "More... tech..."
"I understand, Patrino," Calero spoke lowly. "Don't worry, we'll work it out with them once it's passed. It'll be fine." He looked to the other Senator. "Want that tea now?"
"Hnnn..." Patrino shook his head, but in the wrong direction, not facing Calero. He then leaned back in his chair.
"Polls are in. Twenty percent in agreement of resolution. forty five percent in favor of a probational trial of resolution. Ten percent abstain from voting. Ten percent against resolution. Fifteen percent declare themselves noncooperative. I supposed this means it passes, somewhat." The Avatar shrugged. "Congratulations, I suppose."
"Suppose..." Patrino heaved the word.
Calero took a sip from his iced tea. "Fair enough." He held the tea in Patrino's direction. "Drink it, now." He looked to the SI. "Just remember that we'll see those 'non-cooperative' ones as baddies if they decide to dump some ordinance on us. Thank you for your time." The hologram shut off as the signal ended, which prompted Calero to push the drink even more in Patrino's direction. "God damn I hate those smarmy fucks... damn it, drink the tea!"END