Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 49

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Richard wished Geran Oulbriph had continued on being vague in his words rather than saying what he had just said, but he hadn’t. Upon hearing what he said, Richard realized this was his plan the whole time. He had been talking about how all Noxians needed to contribute to prevent the collapse of their society. He had been talking about various ways that could be done, and Richard was willing to bet Geran wasn’t doing any of those things himself. Finally he came to the few sentences that revealed his actual intent. “Of course, everyone must do their part, especially those of us who are nobles. This of course includes marrying and having children. I propose that all those who are fertile and of marriageable age should be matched with partners of suitable station.”

On the surface, that proposal sounded reasonable. However, Richard now knew why he had such a smug grin. As he listened to the murmurs of both approval and disapproval, Richard was just trying to think of a way to inject some sense into this whole situation. Richard already knew there weren’t that many unmarried nobles. In a practical sense, the number who were remaining getting married and having children would do basically nothing to affect the situation the Noxians were facing. It was also fairly easy to recognize the ultimate intention of Geran, which was to get himself married to Elena. Richard couldn’t really grasp why he would want that though. Of course, she was attractive, smart, and had a powerful family… but several of those would work against him because she didn’t like him. If he somehow managed to marry her, she could make his life a living hell. She wasn’t the kind of person to just go along with a situation she didn’t like. Of course, Elena would be unhappy too, but he wouldn’t care about that, only about the consequences to himself, and those seemed like they would be much greater. Perhaps he didn’t care about that as much as the theoretical power though.

The question was, would this plan work? Why even bring this specific idea up? Richard couldn’t see how the benefits would outweigh the consequences. There should be something deeper, more important to this. Otherwise, why would he have the support of so many? At this point, Richard was glad to have two brains that worked very differently. Perhaps he might come up with something.

What could be gained for Geran? Some slight personal power, with tradeoffs. What could the traditionalist faction gain? Firstly, it would be a slap to the face of the royals, and by extension the rest of the non-traditional factions. It would possibly gain them the momentum to do more later. Was that worth it? Richard didn’t know. Whether something particular was worthwhile varied greatly depending on perspective.

Richard went to converse with Elena. She was angry, though her face barely showed it. Still, Richard could tell. “How likely is this to succeed?”

Elena spoke slowly, choosing her words carefully. “That… depends on many factors. If they didn’t think there was a reasonable chance, they probably wouldn’t have called this meeting. They must have already won a good number of people over to their side.”

“I don’t suppose using numbers and logic would help?”

“Not as much as one might hope. People are pretty desperate for any kind of solution. Even the slight relief this might provide is enough hope. In reality, this specific plan is unlikely to go through, but there will be a side deal arranged, and concessions will have to be made.” Left unsaid was the possibility the plan went through as was currently being outlined, which would even with the most optimal outlook seriously disrupt Elena’s future.

“Would getting someone up there early to speak help?”

“Sure, but because of stupid outdated rules the person on stage selects the next person to speak, until five speakers have gone, in which case another person is randomly selected and the process repeats. It could easily be a week or more before anyone with sense gets to go up, and by then most everyone will want this process to be over, and will be willing to side with whatever side seems to be winning. There are at least enough of those neutral parties to cause significant issues, but of course they are still nobles, and thus they must attend these meetings if they want to keep their titles… and by extension properties. Many of those neutral parties are business minded, and feel that meetings, emergency or not, are a waste of time. Not that they are far wrong.”

Richard’s brain started working overtime to come up with a plan for him or someone else to speak. Richard would never be given a chance to speak, even though he was in attendance, because he wasn’t one of the nobles. His presence here was already as far as that would go. If there was an easy way to get someone else in early, Richard knew that Elena and her family would know it, and Elena would have brought it up. If they couldn’t think of anything, Richard doubted he could. Except… there was one possibility. He had noticed it and then immediately ignored it, because it seemed like a silly idea. At the time, it hadn’t been particularly important. Now, however, he couldn’t stop thinking about it, not with his physical brain, nor the part of him that was energy. All of him cared about this. Richard quickly looked some things up, though the specifics weren’t that easy to find so it took more than a few minutes. However, Geran didn’t look like he was going to shut up any time soon, so there wasn’t too much rush.

Richard finally came up with the start of a plan, but he didn’t know if it was a good idea. Perhaps he should leave things to the professionals. It would probably end up, if not fine… at least tolerable. His plan could cause all kinds of problems, and that was only including issues he had thought of… with many more possibilities he wasn’t aware of. Still, he couldn’t do nothing. Or could he? Should he? His friend was at possible risk, but she might not need or want his help.

Finally, Richard went to find Jot. “Hey, Jot.”

“Hello, Richard.”

“So… if you had a friend in trouble, and a way that might help them but might also cause other trouble, what would you do?”

“That depends on my confidence in my success… and the type of trouble. For example, if my friend was in mortal peril, I would do whatever I could to stop them from dying. Likewise, if I was assured confidence in my success, I would try, unless the consequences of failure were several degrees of magnitude worse than doing nothing.”

“Right so… one quick question then. What do you think of my combat training?”

Jot shrugged. “That’s an open question. You haven’t trained with weapons so I would avoid that if possible. Actually, avoid combat involving weapons except in situations that are already potentially lethal… or you have the only weapons. As for unarmed…” Jot thought for a few moments and looked around. “Well, I’m not sure in general, but I’d judge you to be somewhere around fourth best in this room. Not good enough to beat a trained Xevaronian yet. Of course, all of this also assumes you’re fighting one on one, and the fight is fair.”

“Fourth?” Richard looked around the room spotting a number of security guards. “What about them?”

“One on one… no weapons or armor… I’d favor you. Maybe not that much though.”

Even with that slight bit of doubt, Jot’s assessment filled Richard with confidence. Enough so that he actually went back to considering the crazy plan he had started forming.

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