Digital security bill postponed over senate reform rowFrom the Sovereign Suns political desk
Tuesday's unveiling of a digital security bill in the Solarian Senate has been postponed, after a row over senate reforms. The announcement was made by Sovereign Justice Senator Robert Space McNamara, one of the authors of the bi-partisan bill.
It came after Technocratic Radical Senator Hazel Renko, a co-author, threatened to withhold support if Sovereign Justice pushed ahead with the senate reform bill.
The digital security bill reportedly aims to increase funding to CEID's CompSec department by 17% over the next three years. “Regrettably, external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily,” Senator McNamara said in a statement. But he said he was confident the delay would be short.“We all believe that this year is our best and perhaps last chance for the Senate to pass a comprehensive approach,” he added.
McNamara's comments came after Senator Renko had said she would have to drop out of drafting the bill because of concerns that Sovereign Justice wanted to focus on a senate reform bill first. “Moving forward on reform - in this hurried, bushwhacking, election-promise-breaking manner - is nothing more than a cynical political ploy,” Renko said.
The Sovereign Justice majority party appears to be undeterred by the Radicals' withdrawal of support for the bi-partisan digital security effort. The senate reform bill is scheduled to go up for a vote on Friday...Cathedral of the Madeleine
Angel Gate District, Solaris Major
The Cathedral of the Madeleine was the greatest church on Solaris, standing over two thousand tall at its peak and capable of holding no less than two hundred and fifty-seven thousand believers at once: a magnificent testament to the Man Jesus and his most holy teachings. Or so thought those who worshiped here, anyway – to many others it was a ghastly eyesore, and its mind-numbingly loud thousand-bell carillon frequently woke the people living in the surrounding arcologies, much to their collective chagrin.
As he worked his way up the marble steps to the church, Jason Chandra reflected that he didn't care much for the church either way. Their religious beliefs were fairly out there, he felt... But then again, the galaxy was a pretty far out there kind of place. There were two planets Earth, for one, and no-one so far had adequately managed to explain that
one. Entire galactic states popped into existence out of nowhere, and bizarre otherworldly entities cloned cat-girls or machine polities for their own inexplicable and inscrutable reasons. Sure, ivory-towered intellectuals could talk about n-dimensional sophonts and their wily ways all they liked; they might as well call their deeds as acts of god and be done with it.
Jason felt the prickling sensation of the low-power forcefield that kept the cathedral pristine basalt-black and free from bird droppings creep over his skin when he came up the final step and entered the great marble square in front of the cathedral. He set a purposeful pace toward the looming church, and considered that even if He existed, that didn't mean he warranted worshiping. Or even cared if anyone did; certainly if Jason
had created all of space and time and everything therein, he wouldn't give two shits whether some pathetic creatures in a backwater group of galaxies worshiped him or not. He'd be too busy doing, well, whatever the hell gods did for fun. Shagging other gods, no doubt, he thought and grinned as he passed a statue of the Jesus-Man on his cross. He passed through the ornately gilded hundred-meter-high arches that lead into the interior of the building.
As the center of Ecumenical Orange Baptism in the galaxy and indeed god's own universe the Madeleine was intended by its architects as a humbling introduction to the wondrous perfumed halls of heaven itself. If they got anywhere close, Jason thought, that mean there sure was a hell of a lot of gold and precious stone in heaven. The interior of the Madeleine was a forest of sky-piercing pillars adorned with heartstone statues of the apostles, and its ceiling was almost entirely gilded and engraved in turn with verses from the Holy Bible and the Declaration of Sovereignty.
There were relatively few people in the hallowed main hall of the Madeleine at this time, which suited Jason just fine. He made his way over to one of the many gaudily decorated shrines that lined the side of the gigantic cathedral, a smaller one this, dedicated to a 'Saint Beck' that Jason had never heard of. There was only a single, gray-haired man inside, who was pretending to be praying whilst in fact watching a lewd program featuring barely clothed and barely legal girls on a small piece of datapaper folded into his prayer book.
Jason scraped his throat, and the man quickly slapped shut the prayer book. Then he looked up, a faked benign smile on his face. Senator Dick Richards had once been Pastor Dick Richards, a fire-breathing, foaming-at-the-mouth preacher of the doom and brimstone kind. Now he was a senator courting the fundamentalist fringe-world vote. And if President Sinclair had her way, he was soon to be out of a job.
Politically, the Baptists were an interesting bunch. Officially part of Sovereign Justice, they got most of their votes on the fringes of colonial space and the reality was that they hated the central government with a passion. Especially now that they were for all intents and purposes being screwed over by their own people. The religious were about to lose their voice in the senate, they realized there was nothing they could do about it, and it stung like hell. Even if they deserted Sovereign Justice now, between the core worlds, the Apexai and the Zigonians President Sinclair had more than enough votes to secure the reform bill. She didn't need the baptist vote anymore.
Unless, of course, someone had thought a little further than they had.
“A pleasure to meet you, senator,” Jason greeted Richards, and his tone of voice made it clear it was no such thing.
“Mr. Chandra.” Senator Richards slowly rose from the bench and glared at the man opposite him. It was clear from the gleaming cybernetics protruding from his neck and skull that Jason Chandra was no baptist himself. Between that, the tattoos running up and down his arms and the obvious soldierly demeanor most baptists would revile him – and that was okay, because he reviled them right back. It made him wonder though why his employer had picked him for this job. He could've sent someone a bit more diplomatically inclined, after all. “What can I do for you?” asked the senator, with more than a little venom in his voice.
“Senator, I'm here at the behest of my employer, who has a proposition for you.”
Richards scowled. “What could that filthy deviant
possibly have in mind that I might be interested in?”
“Mr. Hank,” Chandra said and placed extra emphasis on the name, “has an idea that will massively boost your popularity on the fringe, or allow you to keep your job. Maybe even both.”
The scowl turned into a suspicious frown now. “And why would he do that?” asked Richards. “He and I are... Not exactly friends.”
“That much is obvious from the way he described you,” leered Jason, who recalled fondly the many times his employer had characterized Senator Richards as a 'hypocritical pervert' and worse. “He feels however that the situation with respect to the reform bill calls for a temporary truce.” Jason produced a datachip from his pocket. “Care to have a look?”
Suspicion was still etched on the senator's face, but he took the chip all the same. Then he opened his prayer book, retrieved the piece of datapaper and connected the chip. Richards rapidly scrolled through the proposition outlined therein. “A subsidiary motion?” he scratched his chin, and all animosity seemed gone now that there were politics to consider. “It's... No, it would never fly. We don't have the necessary votes to make it stick.”
“The Apexai will support your bid,” said Jason, which made the senator look up in surprise.
“What possible reason could the alien scum have to do that?”
“Because we want them to. And because they owe Mr. Hank a bunch of favors.”
“Well, if we have the support of the Apexai block...” the senator frowned as he did the mental math, far slower than someone who was not a baseline would have done, but he still arrived at the correct conclusion. “I- yes, we'd have enough votes to carry the motion, wouldn't we?” Then he looked down at the datapaper and the suspicion flared again in his eyes. “But this will never pass into law, will it?”
Jason shrugged. “I'm not privy to the details, but I don't think so. Then again, the whole idea is to get this bill of the table, yeah? So relax, do as we ask, and with any luck you'll still have your job at the end of the week.”
Richards was silent for a few seconds, then nodded curtly. “Fine. But this doesn't make us friends.”
Jason smiled wolfishly. “I bloody hope not.”
“And one day, so help me god almighty, I will have that soulless bastard Hank's head on a silver platter.”
“Keep believing that old man.” Jason turned toward the door of the small, gaudily ornamented chapel. “But in the meantime, stop watching the dirty pictures: you have a job to do.”