In the Year 3555... or was it 3666… anyway, long time after all this, whatever this is for you right now dear reader, the thing you are about to see is the future! Where Earth has become a Union and humans as a whole are so powerful in their dealings in the galaxy that they can sometimes be law. Mostly corporate law actually. But anyway, as I was saying… Disputes happen often in such an age, the humans merely intervene only when they must, or if it’s time to collect taxes. When two parties cannot reach an agreement within the Union, special personnel are dispensed to carry out their duty to be…
My name is Viktor Venn and I wish someone would fire me… Oh and also, we are most likely going to be destroyed in the most catastrophic impact Inaria has ever seen. Hundreds of millions of dead in the first couple of minutes, then the rest would join an hour or so later as our planet slowly unhinges from its stable orbit and plunges into darkness. How terrible. I guess that’s what happens when someone dislodges an entire moon from its proper axis. Four!
We were in this very large chamber, two half circle tables on each end and our little square table in the middle. Both sides looked like they came to party for Holoween. On the left, the LARPing gentlemen of the Mage Ascendancy and on the right, hacker wannabes of the Technomancer Supreme Collective. I’d give them two out of five each for the names, but the aesthetics were solid threes across the board!
As the sudden realization of my current assignment ending so abruptly, and all my future prospects shrinking with the coming minutes, there was some great, release of tension that overtime started to put me at peace. My eyes began to slowly glaze over as the monotonous shouts of the two delegations began to screech over one another in a new found rage. I looked down at my chronometer and tugged at my rope-silk tie, it’s not so long before the impact… yet they are still arguing, not realising their world can be doomed in seconds! Fifty-Eight!
The Fifty Fourth Council Meeting of the Great Powers commenced almost an hour ago and, in that time, the two sides have made as much progress as I did on my first date with Sally. This might be too much information, but we did not even kiss… That was definitely too much information. And think of the stupid name for this meeting, Great powers? Four hundred and thirteen!
Richard Venn, my boss and my father, opened them up as was his right, being the servant of the Union sent here to ease the tensions. He wore that stupid title with more pride than he ever had in me. His smiling wrinkles and a fake smirk gave me the feeling that he did not hold much stalk in these negotiations going anywhere. If there was one constant on this god forsaken planet, it was that Mages could never agree with the Technomancers. No matter how many times the council meeting was summoned (Fifty-three times before, actually), they would always find a way to squabble. I think the best these savages have ever gotten to is “agree to disagree, we are watching Holoflix later” … Okay, I’m not sure if the two sides ever watched any intergalactic television with one another, but that’s how dad described it.
“Dad?” I said, as one of the mages on the left stood up and began to threateningly shake his fist, spewing some sort of rhetoric about his forefathers and how the Technomancers would never understand the plight of a simple farmer… Don’t they know this is a huge cliché? One thousand one hundred and twenty-one!
Oh, I should probably explain what the numbers mean huh? Well… My dad an I, we are what the Union calls the Delegators and we go onto these long journeys to be on negotiations and we see a lot of different stuff… Well at first anyway. Now, it seems like everything has been seen, heard or done at least once… Or one thousand one hundred and twenty-one times when it comes to that speech…
“Viktor?” My father looked at me, eyes flaring slightly. It seemed that dad was not so happy either and my query did not seem to set his mood on a better course. He looked out the window to see the moon approaching ever so diligently, not breaking atmosphere or anything, but definitely getting bigger.
“I forgot to take my Captain Fit Soda; can you give the fridge key?” I said innocently, my eyes following the extreme hand gestures of the mage who now moved on to: you have done great atrocities against our people and we cannot forgive them, even within the capacity of the upcoming crisis. Six hundred and five… or six hundred and six, not sure if the one with the cat people who ate their own children counts…
“Viktor, later” my father groaned. He was probably mad at the fact that I had the privilege to not take this whole farce seriously… But he had to. “Great Mage Uzar, thank you for your wise words…” my father began, standing upright and making a calming motion with his hands. Before he could continue however, a Technomancer from the other delegation rose to his feet and began a tirade about how unjustly the picture was painted about himself and his great people… Interrupting a delegator when they are trying to come to a peaceful resolution! Seven hundred and twenty-three.
The argument wasn’t that idiotic though, I mean I guess the Mages are kind of barbaric in some of their methods, with all the goat killing and heart eating… But then again, the Technomancers were kinda ruining the planet with all their smog and the fires of industry. The Technomancer spoke long and hard about the devastating corruptions that were unleashed onto the planet by the magical elements that were released into the world from all the unsanctioned rituals the Mages were doing somewhere in their own backyard. The latter did not realise that Technomancers had developed foul technology that could register these readings. A giant gasp went out through out the entire hall, the mages were revealed to be going back on their word!.. Fifty-seven thousand seven hundred and six…
“Dad” I whispered again. “I really want that soda…”
“Viktor, not now” he said decidedly. “Gentlemen and Ladies present, I ask for some decorum to be maintained. We don’t have that much…” The Mage, Uzar or whatever, rose from his seat, his hands waving in exasperation. This made my father sink back into the chair, once again interrupted as he was championing for peace. Seven hundred and twenty-four.
He shrunk on the reclining chair, slightly deflated. His eyes darted towards me as if he was trying to see if I would be quick enough to notice his glance. I stared at him the whole time. Silently, he put his hands into the back pocket of his rope-silk jacket, retrieving a small cylinder with a triangle finish.
“Finally,” I said, reaching for his hand. My father abruptly snatched the key away, eyes glaring. “Hey, what gives! I even asked nicely!”
“Viktor…” He looked at me his eyes with that little spark. I knew exactly what he was gonna ask me to do. I wanted to vomit straight away.
“Please don’t make me do this. I hate it, it’s SO fake, DAD!” I protested, eyes slowly zoning down to small slits of little rage.
“You shouldn’t have forgotten your soda then, eh?” He smiled. “Look, I don’t think they want to listen to anything I have to say, we have to try…” The screaming only became louder as the two negotiating sides began to throw insults at one another, demanding that the other acknowledge their mistakes without doing the same themselves. I am really not sure on the number; this happens every single negotiation… So, I guess One hundred thousand, nine hundred and seven?
Dad didn’t even rise this time, realising that there wasn’t much point in preventing this inevitable escalation. He simply looked at me, smiling. His eyes then darted towards the large oval window behind us, the moon growing ever so larger in the atmosphere. He pursed his lips, and narrowed his eyes, as if thoughts alone could stop the space object from its natural movement.
“Do it for the soda, Viktor” my dad finally uttered. “And maybe I’ll let you watch a Holofix movie in real time.” My eyes opened up. In real time? God it was such a bore to have the flicks play in your eyes for a split second. Yes, it was time-efficient and you remembered everything perfectly, but watching a movie on a Holofix in the real run time… The old ways felt better.
“Deal…” I said, grabbing the key from his hands and diving below the table to get to my prize. The fizzing drink felt like a kiss of a thousand little butterflies in my throat, the bubbles rose and rose from my stomach, giving me a strong desire to burp. When I tried to come up, my father shooed me under the table.
“It will have a better effect if it looks like you are hiding under the table when you rush in!” my dad said, a little shrill of excitement in his voice.
“Why would I be hiding, though?” I asked, annoyed.
“Because you are a kid and these mean adults are being loud and scary,” my dad said sternly.
“Oh, come on, do I have to cry too?” I drank the last little drop of my drink.
“It would help, actually.” Dad gave me a wink, then looked up. “Oh give me a second, they are fighting!”
“LET ME SEE!” I said excitedly. It’s only been two other times when negotiations went so poorly, a fight broke out. I looked upwards from the slit in the table. It wasn’t the best way to see the fight unfold, but good enough.
The Mages began to animate the objects all around the room! The Technomancer’s own table stood up on its back legs and began to attack them. A swirl of energy danced around our table too… That’s when I noticed my empty Captain Fix bottle began to menacingly stomp on the ground, moving towards the Technomancers. I grabbed it and threw it into a fridge… What a souvenir. One!
The Technomancers did not want to disappoint either. They made these strange binary callings shouting in a bunch of 1s and 0s. At first, I thought they were just screaming for help but then I understood that this was some sort of a command or a function, as their main guy… can’t remember his name… Loz? Who cares… Anyway he said EXECUTE. That was pretty cool.
A moment later, the doors of the room exploded as skeletally framed robots began to flood the room. Mages created this large blast shield around them, at the same time also creating various circular portals from which winged nightmares of eyes started to spread out. I suddenly felt very unhappy with my inanimate object souvenir… a bat eye would have been much cooler.
“Now Viktor!” my dad shouted. I looked up at him in confusion. “Now… I mean go do your thing!”
“But what am I saying this time?”
“Were.. you not listening?” my father said crossly.
“Yeah I was DAD - ” Something exploded in the background, making my ears ring. “Okay okay…” I blinked a bunch of times, doing so with a rapid motion, then I decidedly shook my head and, with a large groan, plunged both of my thumbs into my eyes. It hurt a little, but I’ve been doing this for a while so… no biggie.
As my eyes began to water, I replayed this entire interaction from the bottom to the top, all of the points and great disagreement that transpired right in front of me… Let’s see.. terrible crimes… disobeying laws… magic is weird… technology is intrusive… Ah got it.
“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT” I shouted, as I overthrew the table and began to run towards the middle of the room, my teary eyes all on display. My father, God bless his soul, reacted a couple of seconds later than he should have, grabbing his heart and standing up. I think he shouted something like “my boy” or “my son” but this moment definitely happened before… let’s say one hundred and nine.
“Stop it! STOP IT!” I said, trying to make myself cry even more. The Mages still held their wands bear, pointing them towards the Technomancers, but the objects they gave life to and the eye bats that they summoned hung in anticipation. The robots of the mancers were also on stand down it seemed. “Don’t you see. You are one and the same!” My voice cracked slightly; I could mentally feel my dad fist-bumping ’cause that was pretty realistic… I hope anyway. Sixty-one.
“You, Maguses of the Mage Ascendancy!” I pointed towards them “You corrupt this world with your magic and unsanctioned rituals!” The Mages looked at me all mad like... or as mad as one could look at a child. “And you…” I looked at dad and he mouthed their title. “Technomancer Supreme Collective, your pollution has been killing the planet for centuries! Does it really matter who caused the moon to start falling? Shouldn’t we just try and fix it now and then discuss whose fault it is later?”
There was a small, wordless pause that hung in the air. Then, out of nowhere, one of the mages put down his wand. I heard my dad breathe a sigh of relief. The mage went on to solidify his act with a passionate speech, where he claimed that he and his people were clouded by all the ambition and power, never realising that truly, there was no reason to find the culprit before the crisis itself was solved. He began proposing this great plan that would stop the moon dead in its tracks and then… BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. My chronometer went off.
“Ah that’s great and all, good luck with that,” I said, wiping my tears and hurriedly getting to my dad. I saw the fridge was still moving, I guess Captain Fix didn’t break itself.
“Commander, we are requesting extraction for two,” my dad said, hugging my shoulders.
“You are… leaving?” the Mage said in disbelief. “But who is going to help us with all the…”
“Oh, I’m sure you will be able to figure it out all on your own,” my father said reassuringly. As his words reached the man, our form began to disappear and we were no longer on the doomed planet of Inaria.
“Don’t you think that was a bit cruel?” I said, watching the debris of the planet slowly drifting in space, colliding with one another as the planet began to aimlessly drift in space. I opened my second Captain Fix for the day.
“When would we have another opportunity to see such a conflict? Practice makes perfect, Viktor,” my dad responded. “Besides, none of it mattered anyways.”
“Really?” I mused. “How you come to that?”
“Neither the mages, nor the mancers were responsible for the moon shift… It was the Clerical Institution of Luminus I think… Not like they could have come up with a solution anyway.”
“Ah… So, the moral of the story is, religion is… bad?” I posed.
“Moons falling on your planet is bad,” my dad laughed. “Now come on, I promised someone a real time Holofix…”
For the Roll Off a Tangent podcast click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiB3T9JiHuM&t=26s