The opening section of my new novel – The Cabal.

This is the first section of my new Sci-fi novel. Grateful for any feedback. It’s a first draft. It’s a bit clunky. That’ll smooth out in the rewrite. The year is 3690. The election has just appointed a new President of the System:

The tall slim figure of Ishmarl Creed haughtily strode into the Hall of Supremacy to take his place at the Seat of Command. An imposing man with narrow, piercing black eyes, an aquiline nose, pointed chin – made even more pointed by an effected goatee beard – and waxy, pallid skin, that looked as if it had never seen the light of any sun. He gathered the long, ruby-red robes of office around him before seating himself. Then, sweeping his long grey hair back from his face, he deigned to look at his cabinet, gathered before him, his eyes slowly and deliberately passing from one to the other. Only then did they take their cue to be seated.

Ishmarl enjoyed power. Power was a mighty drug. To be elected by the System to serve for a fourth term was unprecedented. Never in the entire three thousand two hundred years of the System had this ever happened.

Yet Ishmarl was not surprised. It was what he had been promised. Ishmarl was just what was needed; just what ‘they’ needed.

For three thousand years the System had been expanding, incorporating planets, gaining wealth and reaching out further and further into the depths of space. Ever since the invention of the Sinclaire Hyperdrive there had been no stopping them. Faster than light travel, using the folds of space, had opened up the frontiers of the universe. Nowhere was inaccessible. Once established, the Droptubes had enabled almost instantaneous transport of personnel and goods. Commerce was the lifeblood of any civilisation. Star system after star system had been colonised and unimaginable wealth extracted, though, not a lot of that wealth had trickled down to the lower levels. The way the politics was organised ensured that. The political machinations were set up by the elite to ensure that the ‘needs’ of that elite were amply met.

For three thousand years the System had prospered but, as predicted, the rot had begun. Those planets on the periphery had begun to feel distant, had begun to question why a percentage of their wealth should be used to prop up the centre, had begun to try to break away. They cited corruption and waste, and were questioning the way the system was run, its inefficiency, sleaze and graft. They did not feel they were receiving value for their credits. They wanted to break away and go their own way. The general feeling was that they would be better on their own.

That was where Ishmarl came in. His ruthlessness coupled with his ability to read the complexities of any given situation and problem solving, were qualities that had proved indispensable to those who mattered. They wanted the System stable. That’s how their percentage – a large portion of all the profits from the eight hundred thousand planets that currently made up the System – found its way into their vaults. They needed a strong man to clamp down and expunge the rot, apply the tourniquet.

Ishmarl Creed was just the man to meet their needs. He was devious, hardnosed and immensely ambitious – which was precisely why he had been able to rise to the top. But Ishmarl had other qualities that gave him the edge over others of similar ilk; he recognised where the true power lay and was open and malleable enough to do their will. He knew his limitations and posed no threat.

The Cabal required a puppet who would do as instructed. It had proved a mutually beneficial arrangement. The relationship was functionally symbiotic.

Without the finance and propaganda behind him Ishmarl knew that he had no chance of prospering. The Cabal had both. Their wealth was immeasurable and they ran the Ministry of Truth – the only government ministry that did not answer to the government. It’s independence was enshrined in the very inaugural constitution of the System. For, as everybody knows, unbiased information is the cornerstone of democracy. No government should be in control of information.

Except, that, what nobody must be allowed to know, the Ministry of Truth, the dispenser of all information, was controlled by the Cabal.

Ishmarl knew that. He relied on it. His campaign had been bankrolled and orchestrated by the Cabal. Despite everything, they had swept him back to power yet again. That was fine. He knew what he had to do.

The whole of the vast hall of the Chamber of Unity, along with the cameras of every media outlet in the entire System, was focussed on him, but he did not allow that to hurry him. Far from it. Power was a performance. He knew that well. It resided in every gesture, every nuance. The game had to proceed at his pace and under his direction. His eyes settled on Jamaal Krus, the master of ceremony, ‘Kindly provide us with the agenda for this governments’ priorities,’ he instructed curtly, easing himself stiffly back in his pexicush, beginning the business for his fourth term of office. The cameras were rolling. The programme was to be outlined. Show time.

The priorities of the new government were read, as Ishmarl Creed, clad in all the finery of office, sat and listened to the sanitised wish list he had worked on with his inner caucus. He had to admit that it sounded good – ambitious, transformational and inclusive. Too bad that little of it would ever come to fruition. That was politics. The central issue concerned the looming crisis with the worlds at the periphery. Couched in sugar-sweet layers of tact and diplomacy, platitudes and warm words, the issue was broached along with the iron rod of veiled threats.

The Cabal wanted it sorted.

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