The Cabal – Opening section of Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The inauguration had all the pageantry of an ancient royal coronation.  That was what was felt necessary in the year 3960 of the System. With humanity spread over hundreds of thousands of planets they needed something larger than life to focus on and unite them. A pageant was what was required. Human beings love rituals.

The ceremony was designed to impress the trillion-plus citizens of the System. The tridee links, with their three dimensional images and full surround sound, took the spectacle straight into the living rooms of every single dom throughout the entire System, from core to rim. It offered an unparalleled spectacle that could not be matched anywhere else throughout the breadth of the now hundreds of thousands of inhabited planets. While acting as a vindication of the democratic process it also operated as a demonstration of power.

As far as Ishmarl Creed was concerned it was an annoying charade of nonsense; though he did enjoy the power and attention. He liked being the centre of things. It was just that it was so obviously tacky. The phoniness irked him; but the people seemed to lap it up.

The backdrop of the Hall of Supremacy was just the start. Built to impress, and it certainly did that; nobody, not even Creed, could fail to be stunned by the gigantic scale of the building. Back at the start of the System, when mankind had begun to spread through the stars, it had been felt necessary to make a bold statement in order to provide unity. The burgeoning culture of humanity was already spreading out over thousands of planets and was ever reaching out to encompass more. Even with the almost instant travel provided by the droptubes there was the tendency for planets to become insular and pull away from the core. The psychologists were employed to devise mechanisms to unify the people and prevent the break-up of the System. The spectacular Hall of Supremacy was one of the physical structures proposed. The lavish ceremony for the inauguration of a new president was another.

Even in this age of all possibility, where it seemed that any engineering idea was made feasible by new technologies and the invention of Plexiglas, the Halls still performed their function. They impressed. Their sheer size was breath-taking. The lines of troopers, in full colourful military regalia, were dwarfed to the size of querts. The music from the assembled massed bands echoed off the massive façade and was swallowed by its immensity. Minds quaked.

Not that the impressive nature of the physical structure stopped there at the portal. Once through the enormous gates of the Hall of Supremacy one passed through long, wide lavish corridors, adorned with a sumptuous collection of  sculptures and art, to the jaw-dropping Chamber of Unity with its array of colours, embellishments and flowing patterns described as the greatest work of art mankind has ever created. Here was where the new president was sworn into office, or in this instance, the old president was re-sworn.

The Chamber of Unity surpassed all splendour. Created by the massed skills of the greatest artists and architects of their era it has stood the test of time and, despite its patina of great age, still retained the feeling of awe that it had originally been created to generate. Sympathetic refurbishments down through the millennia had only served to enhance that majesty.

Human psychology had not changed in the 3960 years since the foundation of the System. The symbols were just as effective now as they ever had been.

The System had stayed united. At least, up until now…

The tall slim figure of Ishmarl Creed, wearing his ruby-red flowing robes, stepped nimbly out of the lavish luxoscud that had delivered him to the beginning of the red carpet – a red carpet that formed a scarlet path that trailed across the huge square, up the multitude of steps and in through the dauntingly enormous portals of the Hall of Supremacy. A small delegation, headed by Commander Jon Kraal, the head of the military, in full dress uniform complete with plumes and medals, and Jamaal Krus, the master of ceremonies, in equally ornate costume, who was going to conduct the swearing in, were standing there to greet him and escort him through to his inauguration.

Ishmarl Creed stood for a moment surveying the daunting spectacle. This was the fourth time he had experienced this but no matter how many times he went through it there was no diminution of the impact. All this had been orchestrated for him – the fantastic edifice, the thousands upon thousands of troopers – the massed bands, lights and sounds. No human being could possibly remain unmoved.

Aware that the eyes of the entire human race were fixed on him he pulled himself together and assumed the role. It was game time.

With a haughty air Ishmarl Creed strode past the lines of troopers standing to attention with laz-guns raised, without so much as a glance. He seemed unmoved by the loud strident music of the massed bands and finally reaching the great flights of steps, he powered up to the top as if wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible, leaving the rest of the entourage vainly trying to match his pace. Only when he reached the level concord before the great portal did he slow, pausing to wave to the mass of flag-waving supporters, knowing that a close-up of his smiling face with upraised arm would be beamed into a trillion doms. It was required that he projected confidence and poise. He was their leader. He had to be larger than life. The people needed to see that he was a strong leader. They had to believe in him.

He stood for a full minute to allow them to see his magnificence. He also wanted to look out at the sheer scale of this so that he could play it back in his mind. All this had been put on just for him. He allowed himself a satisfied smile before once more turning to plunge through the portal into the Hall of Supremacy and disappear from sight, his escorts once again trailing behind.

 Inside, a euphorically happy Creed, floating effortlessly on the thick red pile, with his stressed entourage struggling to keep up, passed more lines of troopers until they finally arrived at the lavishly embellished portals of Chamber of Unity. Here, they were brought to a halt, giving the aged escorts an opportunity to catch their wind.

In an obscure archaic ceremony dating back to the dawn of time, Jamaal Krus, red in the face and struggling for breath, stepped forward and rapped loudly on the portals, calling, in what came out as a wheezy croak, for them to be opened.

A voice from within enquired as to whom it was who was making such demands. Krus replied, in a more authoritative tone, having now recovered his breath, that it was none other than the newly elected president.

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