WorldAlpha Story - 4. Mindplay

July 21, 2013

It wasn't her looks, though he never dismissed their influence factor. It wasn’t her family either, though that had its decision-bending weight, as well. And it wasn’t the fact that she was already the second highest ranking member of the ship’s crew. That was a mere indication of already achieved influence.

It was her mind.

First Officer Kirsten Simmer had a potential that even captaining the AlphaOne would not begin to tap. Hers was the deadliest bullet in the entire arsenal of aging, rusted, pea-shooter brains the Military had to offer. Even Captain van Kuhn had long since lost his mental virility. The man had obviously been brilliant, once. Now he just seemed tired, ready for a never-ending round of holo-chess in the lounge of the Retired Officers Centre.

But Kirsten’s mind was alive, a resource unmined, a diamond still rough. The wonderful thing, like most geniuses, was that she seemed blind to her own abilities. Hmmm. That was never a problem for Delph Silva. The awareness of his own brilliance in a world of dull people was the constant burden he was forced to bear.

His supper meeting with her the other night was uncomfortably inconclusive. At points she seemed vulnerable, nervous, and even, on occasion, impressed. That meant little. Delph Silva needed her absolutely mesmerized.

Brilliant, yes. Exploitable? Uncertain.

That was the challenge in finding Another Great Mind. The greater the mind, the less gullible its possessor. Most of the time, anyway.

How to sway her away from a life untested, unfathomed, unlived as a mere Merc? That was only part of the problem. The greater part lay in having her ally her mind with his, join forces, moving together to financially govern Policks and Mercs alike – all of WorldAlpha, for that matter. The companies the two of them could start. The thousands of employees they could direct. The skyscrapers they could build. That was the lofty goal.

But it was a dangerous one.

To have her become a successful Tyc, only to support some other country, city, or state – thus becoming his opponent – that would be a counterproductive tragedy. Better it would be for her mind to fossilize in the stony thinking of the Merc world. But worse still would be watching her skills completely wasted in the fetid halls of the Policks, an existence worse than death in the world of Delph Silva.

His heart suddenly skipped three painful beats.

First Officer Kirsten Simmer just turned the corner, her lovely hands orchestrating a conversation. Next came Feston Willis Sedgwick IV, a Polick with generations of clout, formerly head of the European Ambassador Assembly or some such. Still very athletic at the tender age of 53, and more handsome than ever, a fact the whole ship seemed obsessed with. The Polick held a silver cup of steaming beverage – coffee, Silva assumed, having once smelled its foul odour in a conversation he would rather not have had. The cup floated, unmoving in the Polick’s steady hand, even as the rest of his agile body all but sprang through the corridor.

And First Officer Simmer’s very being all but danced in the man’s presence.

Childish rage threatened to crack Delph’s calm. With an effort, he controlled his pulse. The only outward sign of his discomposure was a mouth opening fractionally to exhale a long breath.

He could see the wheels turning in the mind of The Fourth, Feston Willis’s moniker in the halls of Tyc gossip. The Fourth was all ears and understanding, his princely charm escaping his pores like a burst of freshener in a public urinal. Heh, Delph chuckled to himself. The metaphor was perfect.

Do something!

He had ten seconds before the two passed him by. How to undermine, distract, or otherwise manipulate the animation of interests that walked before him? Hah! The solution was simple. But the need for subtlety, supreme.

Casting about for something, anything, he saw a glass table inset by the corridor wall, a hovering recliner before it. For whatever reason, the recliner had been left askew, its armrest protruding into the passageway.

Silva casually walked toward it, feigning interest in the array of screens that accompanied the desk. The seconds stretched, his mind calculating every motion of his own body and the two that approached. Timing was everything.

Five more feet. The Fourth finished another sip of Columbian Blend, his dazzling smile brimming unbroken over the cup. Silva focused on the elbow that held it. A calculated brush of his hip against the chair’s armrest, and he stumbled. The slightest little misstep. Just enough to jar the Royal Chalice.

The coffee went flying.

Feston Willis Sedgwick IV recovered with great agility, but his cup only caught half its former contents. His mind in hyperdrive, Delph Silva watched and rewatched with the horror of dream replay, completely unable to change the course of events. A nightmare.

The other half of The Fourth’s cup went flying across the beautifully endowed jacket and blouse of First Officer Kirsten Simmer.

Delph blinked in unbelief.

The Fourth flustered about with a handkerchief half a tablecloth in size, unsure – for once in his life – of exactly how to use it. His every awkward attempt was brushed away in frustrated defence by a First Officer who was as angry as Delph had ever seen.

When her clothes ceased to steam, Kirsten stared him in the face.

Silva’s Fu Manchu, for the first time in years, quivered uncontrollably. He gazed through the windows of that amazing mind and saw something he absolutely didn’t want to see.

She knew.

His manipulation was laid bare, naked in all its overweight ugliness. His infatuation with Kirsten Simmer shattered instantly in the face of irrevocable failure. Worse still, his aspirations to rule WorldAlpha were shaken to the core.

But not shattered.

With a grunt, Delph Silva spun on his heel, departing the scene without apology. Surely, with more than 17,000 souls aboard, hidden in some corner somewhere, AlphaOne had Another Great Mind to exploit.

-- Manfred



Comments

Great game, needs contests with prizes. Needs a working link to a forum. A lot of inactives need to be deleted. Some items too expensive to buy.
June 30, 2014 | Raphael


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