1 Muharram 1420yp
Internal Relations HQ, Paris, One World
“So, welcome to the Election Year Panic.”
Icka Withione Sycamore Tall Trees bit his lip.
Cannot be crazier than the last one . . . can it?
I was oblivious to the election in 1400, the year I came across to Tall Trees. 1405 . . . I was in college, so we were supposed to be paying attention. I joined the War Party, both because most of my fellow Directorate School students were members, and because it was the home of most of the troublemakers—from Earth’s point of view. The election itself was a shoo-in, after that amazing no-confidence special election the year before.
The 1410 election was another shoo-in for President Orde, all the gooey emotions flying around his daughter’s wedding. I shifted to Interior Relations right before that. Kind of fun, watching everyone go bonkers.
1415. Holy cats! Bombs during the primaries, a sniper, a hostage situation during the countdown party. I still don’t believe Izzo pulled off a win.
And now we’ll see if he can do it again.
He turned his attention back to the screen, where Director Ajki was addressing the whole Internal Relations Directorate over the dedicated grid.
“. . . Black Horse Guards will be providing security, and the Presidential Directorate Analysts will be analyzing threats to the candidates.
“Which we will be doing as well, but we cannot neglect our regular jobs, especially since the politicians will be jostling for positions in a possible new administration.”
Crap. I hope to hell not! Orde and then Izzo have been peace-makers. Not pacifists, by any means, but . . . One Hell! I don’t want to see a return to the old aggressively expanding Empire.
Not the least because I’m an agent of Earth.
I’ve enjoyed the life of a nice quiet mole.
“. . . so we’ll be authorizing some political surveillance even without prior indication of criminal intent.”
One Hell! I hate the constant watching. Not that Earth is much better. Especially for a nasty mutant like me. I may be their agent . . . but I’m not one of them.
. . . I may never go back.
Bastards. A terminal license—I’ll never have a child there. Of course here, would I dare? I have that priest gene . . .
Good thing I’m not in love, nor inclined to get married.
Ice eyed his comm suspiciously. “That was fast. I don’t think I know a thing I ought not tell you.”
“Good! Then just come and distract me.” Noon was newsie, and thus not to be trusted. But also a good source of gossip. And she always had invitations to interesting parties. And she was very easy on the eye, even if she’d never so much as flirted with him.
“Sounds good. Maxwell’s? Twenty hundred hours?”
Ice clicked off and sent a censorious glower at the doorway of his cubicle.
Dog and Vaul grinned.
“Making dates on government time?” Dog tried to look innocent.
Ice elevated his nose. “Currying favor with a good source of gossip. You children need to find some contacts. And no, you cannot steal Noon from me.”
A snort from behind them. “One! Ice Kah Tall Trees. Out of your league and over the hill. She’s well into her second century, isn’t she?”
“Can’t tell by her looks, and she’s pretty sharp, well connected, and collects some fascinating information.” Ice eyed Enqy. “And no. I’m not going to introduce you to her.”
“Thank the One!” Enqy—Querry, around the office—gave a nasty laugh as he walked away.
Ice shrugged. “I guess some people just like being unpleasant. So are you two just being nosy or is there a purpose for your visit?”
“This is our first presidential campaign. I mean, I was hired in the middle of the last one, but I mostly went from training to scut work and back to training. What the heck do we do?”
Vaul nodded. “I was across doing my internships for the Summer, then we wrote reports for classes about the end of it, but . . . Well, what do we do?”
Ice blinked, nodded. “Right, Eyeball will call a section meeting, probably as soon as he escapes from the face-to-face meeting he’s in right now. I suspect he’ll split us up between the political parties, and we’ll start keeping an eye on the upper and mid-level types, to hopefully keep the backstabbing metaphorical.”
“Upper and mid-level?” Dog frowned. “Tell me you don’t mean ministers, subministers, and councilmen?”
“Yep. And the Senior level analysts, aides, and, well, anyone with good enough reputations. Whichever party you get, you look at who’s closest to their candidate, especially the people who are possible Directors. Presidential, Interior, and Exterior.” Ice grinned at their horrified expressions.
“Yes, even Ajki could be replaced. You’ll want to look over the leadership of the Party, see who might be rewarded for their support. Or, as I said, stabbed in the back by someone supporting someone else in the Primaries.”
Dog let out a whistle. “That’s going to be interesting!”
Ice nodded. “All year.” His comm buzzed. He glanced at the message as Dog and Vaul both grabbed for theirs. “Ibla. So, let’s go see who gets what.”