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[2009: JAN-FEB] *WINNER* Only One Constant


Nemitor
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“Vulcan whiskey.” The man said as he took a seat at the bar. His outfit was sleek, modern, and professional. As he handed payment to the bartender his eyes shone with a slight glimmer from a viewscreen above. He sighed as he reached for his shot glass, his face darkening as he avoided the screen.

“What do you think?” the voice came from the patron sitting beside him, a nearly empty mug of ale in his grip. The bar was mostly empty, surprising for the events happening on the station. Then again, it was late and the commotion had settled for the day.

“About what?”

Ale in hand the other man motioned to the display, his jacket sleeve sliding down his arm to revel a long, twisted scar. The newcomer looked at the display with a shallow sigh.

“Oh. That.” He took a swig of whiskey. “I’m not completely sure. I think it’ll do a lot of good in the world; it would help a lot of people.”

“Of course it will.” The man grumbled in a low voice as he motioned for another drink. “As a freighter pilot, I could use the help more than most. But that doesn’t mean I want it.”

“Why not?”

The pilot twisted around in his stool, to face the rest of the residents of the bar. Most sat in small groups at booths drinking or eating happily, while a few sat alone to drown their sorrows.

“What do you see?”

“People.”

“Really.” There was an awkward pause as he reconsidered his response, looking carefully around the room.

“Alright…. Hope, I see hope.” He said confidently with a nod. “These people lead hard working lives, and they deserve the right to have a better, easier, one.”

“You’re naïve.” he replied bluntly. “You’re just like them.”

“Excuse me?”

“These people, these masses of minds, if anything they are docile and selfish. Do you think they care about a hard day’s work? Do you think they care about the Federation? About the future?” he asked, “On first glance, they do. They care about their job, their family, their prosperity.”

“You’re confusing me.”

“Your treaty, your hope.” He went on. “These politicians, all they see is the surface; the status quo. The masses hate change, especially if it means they will have to suffer; to work harder. Therefore the leaders will do everything in their power to maintain the status quo.”

“Is there something wrong with wanting to maintain prosperity?”

“No.” he paused to take a sip of his ale. “But we are not entitled to it. We are where we are due to the sweat and labor of our fathers before us. We, as a Federation, inherited our success, and it’s our duty to maintain it.”

"Is this treaty not going to do that? Make millions of jobs, allow your ‘masses’ to continue their success and not have to worry about not having a job tomorrow?”

“Exactly!” The pilot said, his mug clanging as it hit the bar. “Things can never keep going up, and up, and up! As time progresses, a civilization’s power goes up and it goes down. Long-term changes are not as noticeable as a sudden spike in dilithium prices or the ban on speeds faster than warp five. These people have come to assume that we will never hit bumps in the road; that we’ll never have losses.”

“This isn’t some war, friend.” The other man said with a smile, “What you’ve said is right, but don’t think that politicians are idiots. They understand that they fight for more than just re-election. These people are not mindless sheep, they are individuals and all they want is prosperity.”

“They want prosperity without the work. They don’t want to worry; they don’t want to think about the future. They have never had true hardship, when their sole existence is on the line. They do not understand that we are not absolute! There is one constant in this universe, and it is change.”

The newcomer asked for another whiskey.

“If we could have endless, continuous, success without effort I would take it.” The pilot continued. “The thing is, this treaty is not long-term, and it has costs. We will be getting a free lunch, but nothing is truly free. Our children will pay the price for our docility; our laziness. Our children will inherit the costs of trying to strive toward endless triumph.”

He turned to face the view-screen, eyes tiredly gazing up.

“Things always appear to be worse than they actually are.” The newcomer whispered. “Whether those in power are right or you are, one thing is clear. We are not as docile as you make us out to be. Mankind does not sit idly by and let failure fill us; we continuously endeavor for a better life.”

“Not everyone is like you or me.” The pilot muttered. “That is what I’m getting at.”

“No, they aren’t.” he said, straightening his clothing. “But they aren’t fools.”

“We’ll see.” He said, drinking deeply from his mug.

“Don’t drink too much, friend.” The newcomer said as he stood to leave. “It can affect your judgment.”

He tapped the table, adding a tip to his bill and walked away. This time, his eyes shone with a different, natural, light. The bartender picked up the empty glass as he looked at the name from the bill, and the position attached to it.

The pilot looked down at his ale, nearly empty. The man across the counter leaned over and spoke softly as he refilled the glass. “Do you know who that was?”

“Yes… I do.” The pilot responded, “Keep it coming; I can't get drunk on synthehol.”

Edited by Nemitor
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