Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 44

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XLIV

The ship waiting for Elena was quite small, because accelerating to near light speed required a very large amount of energy. Richard was excited to fly in a vessel with a Time Distortion Drive, having never experienced it before… or at least not remembering it. He wanted to know how it was different. He was excited, waiting for it to activate, then he realized it already had been. He was kind of disappointed.

Looking at his father inquisitively, he got a response. “TDDs create a field of modified time. However, everything inside experiences time at the same rate, so there is no sudden acceleration. We actually experience the same amount of time as we would without one. However, it helps our relative time catch up to the time an outside observer experiences, and thus we get there much more ‘quickly’ than we would otherwise.”

Because of the amount of time they would be spending in transit, they couldn’t just relax and have fun. They still had to study, or they would fall behind. Fortunately, they could still actually view the lectures and get the work they needed to to. It almost brought to question why anyone attended a university in person, but that question had already been answered. Although some people were capable of learning alone and had the motivation to do so, others performed better in an environment where there were additional people like themselves, with similar motivations and goals. Richard had to admit that a space ship wasn’t the best environment to study, even though he still had access to all of the same information as normal.

There wasn’t enough room to do anything like sparring… though Jot still had a series of exercises to keep fit. Though he said it like that, the amount that he had Richard do was still exhausting. However, Richard still felt himself growing stronger, a little bit at a time. Maybe not over the course of the trip itself, but in general. Richard thought something felt weird, though he couldn’t place his finger on what it was. It wasn’t a bad feeling though, so he decided it wasn’t a problem.

During the trip, Richard asked Elena if she could give more details on what would be going on. She shook her head. “Unfortunately I can’t. I don’t really have any more information than you. Except, the fact that this isn’t a common event. Calling an emergency meeting like this is a privilege of the noble houses, and can’t be used lightly. Generally, it’s not even used once a generation. That’s not per-house, but across all of them. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait to find out. Though, I can guess that it probably has something to do with the genetic problems we Noxians are currently experiencing. That’s the only thing that should be important enough.”

Richard nodded “That does make sense, though I can’t imagine why and emergency meeting would be needed.”

Elena shrugged. “I don’t know, but for important issues, a vote of the full assembly is required. It can take some time to get a full assembly unless an emergency is called. Sometimes months, or a year. I’m not sure if I am the furthest away or not… if not, we may have to wait some time. However, most Noxians live in the systems close to our home system. Still, I was obligated to come as quickly as possible… especially given my position.”

“Yeah… so what are the benefits and drawbacks of being a princess anyway?”

“Well… I don’t have to worry about money, and I have to attend a lot of boring meetings. This is just one I actually have to go to in person. I honestly would prefer this one to be boring, because that would mean it’s less critical than it might seem.” She sighed. “Our current system isn’t really the best form of government. As for why we stick to it… I suppose it is tradition. We’ve had a royal family and nobles for a very long time, though any power we wield is really just limited our home system and the others nearby that we control. That, and any power we get from our wealth.” She shrugged. “That varies significantly from place to place. Though many of us value the tradition we have, some don’t. As long as they don’t live in the systems we govern, we can’t, and shouldn’t have any actual effect on them.”

“You sound somewhat upset at things being the way they are.”

“Well, that might be. Though I think tradition can be a good thing, we were quite slow to admit that there was something wrong with our people. Perhaps we would not have reached such a poor state if we admitted it earlier. Though I sound quite negative about our current system… I think it would do similarly to other forms of government, given some conditions. Specifically, it needs to be run by the right people. Taking a look at where you came from… Though Utopia is still a bit of a stretch, it has a long history of generally well accepted leaders who seem to have made good decisions for the prosperity of the citizens. Perhaps it is just good luck that you got relatively good citizens who elected relatively good leaders, or perhaps there is just a good system for elections in place.”

Richard shrugged. “I’m not sure. The system allows for the most people to be happy… or at least not upset, at who is elected. There was a lot of effort put in to make sure it’s not just a decision between a pair of polar opposites, or a few different schools of ideas. Actually, though, it’s not like the system came that way. Did you know we used to have an emperor?”

Elena raised an eyebrow. “An emperor? Really? That’s a pretty big shift in government to what you have now.”

“Well, you’d think so… but actually I’m not sure. There was also a system of elected officials pretty much the same as we have now. The only difference was that there was an emperor who had the ability to overrule any decisions made. I don’t remember the full details, but he had a lot of power. Except, he basically didn’t do anything with the power, so it was almost more like a figurehead.”

“Interesting. In that case, what caused a change in the laws?”

“Nothing. He just died. I don’t remember the exact details, but for some reason the existence of the emperor only applied to the very first one, and there was no possibility for another to take his place. There was no lineal succession, or way to elect one. So, basically he was just in the job of making sure the initial government didn’t do anything stupid, and I guess that worked out.”

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