The two gentlemen wait patiently. Words do not escape their mouths, yet it seems as though they are having a conversation anyway. A ghostly silver glow coming from the facial nanotattoo of the Brutor man supplements what dim lighting is provided by the overhead lights. The other man, a clean-shaven Caldari man with greying hair, taps his fingers on the mahogany red wood; wrapped around his other hand is a pocketwatch that dangles to and fro. The time ticks by. As the doors of the room slide open, the man yanks up his hand and catches the pocketwatch. He looks up at the entrance and snaps the watch shut.
“You’re late”, he says indifferently. The Brutor has his hands folded together and leaning against his mouth.
“Apologies, but…”, starts the leader of the group of incomers, “as you surely remember, sometimes this job entails unexpected surprises that end up occupying your time.” The leader enters the dimly lit room and takes a seat next to the Caldari man. He is followed by a handful of other individuals, who all take their seats around the long, deep red table.
“Let us proceed, then, shall we, Alex?” Alex Hinkelmann, the current Ishuk-Raata Enforcement Directive Executor, nods in agreement.
“Lead the way, John”, Alex replies calmly.
John, in turn, glances over and nods to the Brutor who has been silently observing. “Korbin, please provide us with updates.” The Brutor obliges.
A hidden holo-projector pops out from a hidden panel in the center of the table. It hums to life as Korbin rises from his seat to address the audience.
“As we all know, I have been acting as an Observer on behalf of I-RED for the First and Second Villore Assemblies.” Korbin begins pacing around the room slowly. Meanwhile, the holo-projector slides through pictures of the Villore Assembly as well as some of the individuals associated with the group.
“It was a ripe opportunity to exert pressure and influence on the Gallente, while operating under the guise of working to establish things for the benefit of the Federation.” Korbin halts in his steps briefly, as pictures of a number of Federal capsuleers are presented. “However, there were certain members who proved rather difficult to work with. And you all are aware of the complications that were associated with the Syndicate resolution I made a push to pass.” He shrugs his shoulders.
“It was all a bit unfortunate, but these setbacks were to be expected. Regardless of the VA’s decision to put the Syndicate resolution on hold, it only served to benefit I-RED.” He gives a nod to a woman across the room. Her glossy red lipstick shimmers under the dim lighting as she begins to speak.
“Yes, thanks to Korbin’s excellent maneuvering, I-RED stood in position to win whether the resolution passed or not”, the words exit her lips in a silky smooth way. “Information leaks we passed to third-party news sources were successful in turning the heads of many Syndicate residents. The VA’s complete reversal to follow through with enacting the actions listed in the resolution only amplified anti-Federation sentiment. As a result, capitalizing on this backlash was simple and straightforward.”
Korbin nods. “Thank you, Scarlet. The information war you have been waging has afforded I-RED with the most influence it has had on the region in years.” Scarlet’s glossy lips curve into a gentle smile.
“Despite opposing interests at times, however, VA leader Xun Yu saw fit to invite me as an Associate of the Isonomia Caucus. Naturally, I accepted. It was slightly more difficult to exert influence on the Isonomia Caucus due to the way it was structured, but I anticipated just as much success as we saw in the VA.” He finishes pacing around the room, and takes a seat at his original location. “Recent events that have unfolded due to the acceptance of Avio Yaken into Akagi have...created some unexpected results.” He folds his hands together and rests them against his mouth once more.
“Our sources have informed us that MITG and their allies have inflicted heavy losses to Sanxing and their chosen allies. Coincidentally enough, Korbin has passed information along to me that Xun Yu will also be stepping away from interstellar affairs to handle family matters on Chandielle. In effect, the Federal-loyal capsuleer groups are undergoing a power vacuum as their most vocal and organized leader has receded from the interstellar limelight”, explains John. “This presents us with a number of opportunities, but an equal number of problems because of how the situation has unfolded.” He glances over to Alex.
“Right. While I-RED has taken some flak with how we handled the situation, I have been in talks with John on how we can proceed, and I think we may have a solution”, Alex states succinctly. He takes a quick breath of air before going into more detail on his ideas.
“We believe that if members of the ‘old guard’ criticize the actions of the ‘new guard’, that a dichotomy between the old and new administrations of I-RED will be created. Baseliners, especially those in the Federation, who follow the ramblings presented on the Intergalactic Summit will then be able to understand and sympathize with the concerns of the old guard. While some complications may ensue for the current administration, the former administration will be seen as returning champions of righteousness when they inevitably return to leadership in I-RED. Thus, long term, we will effectively fortify and protect ourselves from possible criticism from Federal groups.” Alex scans the room, and nods to Scarlet.
“We’ve analyzed possible outcomes of the proposed actions, and have found no significant percent of negative possibilities. Essentially, these actions would be to assuage individuals based in or loyal to the Federation. The fallout due to the Sanxing situation has had no negative effect with our Syndicate associates, as many of them don’t have high notions of the Federation to begin with. We recommend proceeding with Executor Hinkelmann’s plans.” As she finishes speaking, she uses a finger to push back a lock of rosy red hair behind her ear. John stares at her and strokes his beard as he contemplates her statements.
A few moments of tense thinking proceed within the dimly lit meeting room.
“I volunteer to be the one to criticize the current administration”, Korbin finally exclaims. “After all, I do have a history of doing such things. It would make the most sense if I were the one to do this task.”
“You realize you will probably stir up the ire of certain-”
“Let them speak harshly. Their words will be irrelevant. We need to do this to protect the influence we hope to hold in the Federation, Roirdan”, Korbin interrupts. Roirdan Bouchate shrugs, and lights up a flavored cigar.
“Just tryna help you avoid the incoming shitstorm that will probably be directed to you”, he says as he puffs out a scented cloud of citrus smoke.
“I know, Roirdan, and I appreciate that, my friend. But you should know by now how little I care of other’s opinions of me.” Roirdan nods.
Korbin looks over to John who provides a slight nod of agreement. “Very well”, he says. “It shall be done. You are all excused. We will remain in close communication.” Alex and the rest of the I-RED Board of Directors stand. “For Ishukone. For the State”, exclaims Korbin. Everyone in the room repeats those words. Alex and the other directors file out of the room, leaving it alone save for Korbin and John.
The holo-projector displays images related to the Sanxing situation. A picture of Avio Yaken catches the attention of Korbin, who stares at it with an analyzing gaze.
“You know, that Yaken is a damn buffoon. Yet somehow, through all his buffoonery, he managed to indirectly take out the single greatest opposition to I-RED in the Federal capsuleer bloc. I would have preferred to enact more carefully planned political maneuvers, but Ancestor’s choke that fool did it faster than I could have hoped to.” He shakes his head and chuckles in amusement. “Amazing, really.”
“I-RED has plans for Caldari Prime and the rest of the Federation. And now those plans may proceed without the hindrance of politically strong opponents such as Mr. Xun and the rest of Sanxing. Planned or unplanned, the end result is the same - I-RED wins yet again. Well done, Korbin.” Korbin smirks.
“For Ishukone. For the State”, John proclaims.
“For Ishukone. For the State.”