I stood in Senator Zelphah’s ornate office, maintaining my serene composure while he paced back and forth, gesticulating while he talked. It was late. He had dismissed his staff before I sneaked in, so we were the only two beings in the room. The lights were dim and the shades drawn. It sickened me to think that I had to help this buffoon become Prime Minister of Kalzeron.
“You’re young, you know that?” the Senator asked, rhetorically. His movements were sharp and quick, his voice low and melodious. I supposed if he composed himself, he would be an inspiring leader, but without the guts to take risks he would never rise to greatness. But I guess that was what the Dark Council liked in their pet satraps. Enough greed to grab power, enough fear that they would be easily controlled.
“Too young. How can I trust you to help me?” Zelphah was a typical Kalzeronian with leathery gray skin, black teeth, and yellow eyes. He reminded me of the nightcrawlers, fictional Almanian bogeymen who were used as a threat to make unruly children behave. Other than his looks he was quite humanoid, perhaps a bit more petite than the average human.
“I wish I’d known they’d send someone like you. Wish I’d known.” He stopped for a moment to wring his hands, then stared at me. “Aren’t you going to speak?”
I looked at him casually for a moment before replying. “I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt your monologue.” He threw his hands up in the air, then resumed pacing. “I’ve been well trained, and if it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be running for the Prime Minister’s position. As long as you don’t lose your nerve you’ll be fine,” I said.
“I need you to give me a complete briefing on the political situation here, the factions that operate and the key beings that have power and influence.” Of course I had other sources of information, but wanted his views on things.
“Alright.” The senator plopped down in his padded desk chair, poured himself a snifter of amber brandy, and leaned back. “Then you’re going to kill them.”
“Wrong,” I said. “I will manipulate them. If all or most of your enemies end up dead, everyone will be looking in your direction. Especially since the previous Prime Minister just died. What I will do is exert pressure and make them react in a way that will end up with your assuming the Prime Ministry. Don’t make the same mistake that so many of my colleagues make, in that all enemies have to be eliminated. Beings who wield power make valuable tools, if you know how to use them.”
The senator nodded. “That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said tonight.”
I let the jibe go by unanswered. My ego was secure enough not to be inflamed by his insult, and the thing he didn’t realize was that he was the first being I was manipulating. But once I directed his attention to business he was cooperative and very informative. Nearly all politicians are ambitious and greedy, and not just for political power. Money and sex are also alluring subjects. And with Zelphah’s knowledge of his colleagues’ peccadilloes, I had an excellent starting point for my operations.
Since the elections were a month away I had time to sculpt the outcome to my satisfaction. If we needed quicker results then I would have had to resort to shock force to compel obedience, and a permanent presence would be required on Kalzeron to keep up the pressure to comply. Fortunately I learned the benefits of careful planning while becoming a successful thief on Almania. While not patient, and how many teens are, I did learn valuable lessons about foresight and self-control that served me well even now.
The first thing I did was make myself home in the subbasement under the Beldivian senate office building. It was intended for nothing more than long term storage of maintenance supplies and equipment, and judging by the coat of dust on the floor few beings ever wandered in. So I set up my Krath alter and set about creating the dark side nexus that would occupy the bulk of my time in the following weeks.
If I’d had more Brotherhood members to work with, or more time, the incantations and rituals would have created a more potent node. But I had to deal the hand that was given me. So I chanted and performed the sacrifices necessary to build the power source that would help keep Zelphah in line, and give him an aura of dark power. And finding victims to slaughter was easy. In every big city there are vagabonds aplenty in alleys and abandoned buildings, and effortless it was to lure them to my consecrated shrine where I could trap their tortured Force essences in a vortex of command.
So I did my dirty work at night while using daylight hours to bring to fruition the less insidious part of my plan. After all, depending on the base politics of where you are from the second part of my plan was hardly remarkable. Everyone has secrets, and the more powerful the person the more dirty laundry he has. That went for two of the four Kalzeronians whom I targeted. Two were rivals for the Prime Minister position, while the others were heavy hitters who preferred to sit back and play king-maker.
The news media, whether the local planet-side services or the galactic holonet press would love to get the goods that I sought. But I had the Force to assist me, and my Brotherhood training to enable me. And since we had compatibly goals, I would rely heavily on the media to further my agenda. Unbeknownst to them, their thirst for juicy stories would be slaked by my manipulations.
My first target was Admas Qince, a veteran senator, senior Kalzerian statesman, and wealthy trader. He had the best shot at being elected by his peers as the Prime Minister and was therefore my number one target. I did my research and studied him through the Force, and felt I knew him better than anyone who wasn’t a close friend or family member. He was, in my opinion, a better candidate than Zelphah, but I wouldn’t let that interfere with the discharge of my duty.
Qince had a weak point. He was very angry. Oh, he controlled it well, but underneath his polished veneer lay a bubbling sea of seething wrath. He unleashed it verbally, injecting such an amount of wit into his tongue-lashings that it was fashionable among the upper crust to pique his anger so as to be on the receiving end of his venom.
The gossip holozines followed him around and made a grudge match out of a polto game that pitted the senator against one of his enemies, a being by the name of Gruntch. It was easy enough for me, sitting in the crowded stands, to engineer the murder. The two senators hated each other, riding their bucking mounts knee to knee and jostling each other for control of the ball. And both were, according to the rules of the game, armed with smack sticks to drive the ball with.
After using the Force to knock Gruntch into Qince a number of times, and inducing the latter senator into being dismounted a couple of times, Admas finally lost it. He leapt up and snatched Gruntch out of the saddle, then pummeled him with his smack stick. I used the Force to fuel his white-hot rage, pumping the most vicious mood I could conjure into his mind and using telekinesis to assist the smack stick hitting its victim.
By the time the other players and the referees pulled Qince back, Gruntch was unconscious and very bloody. But he was still alive. I could tell even from my perch a dozen meters away. With my use of the Force, however, I reached deep into Gruntch’s brain and tore open an artery. That finished his life and Qince’s political career. He could probably count on a smattering of support for his run, but with my help he had just sent the majority of his benefactors scattering for cover.
The third candidate for PM was an unremarkable female named Harti Tubnan. She had no dirt on her, but as a leader was entirely uninspiring. She would almost certainly lose to Zelphah, but I never relied on chance. She was a free-trade advocate who favored de-criminalizing the spice trade, and had come under fire by the law-and-order crowd who didn’t agree with her stance that spice biting was a victimless crime.
So during one of my sojourns through the downtown area I stopped in the largest bank in Kalzeron City, one in which Tubnan had her campaign treasury stored. I used a little mind control on the bank president and sat at his computer terminal moving funds blatantly into her account from the account of Pon Canone, an import merchant and well-known as a spice dealer. Then I tipped off one of the local news services about the unsavory source of funds, and watched the fireworks consume the local news.
Of course there was still time to find a late entry into the race, someone who could slip into the Prime Minister’s office with enough support from a heavy hitter. That meant I had to get to the two king-makers, and coerce them to back Zelphah, or neuter their clout. The life-blood of politics is credits, and running for high office requires a steady infusion. Most of the media was scattered and independent, and controlling them would be like herding manka cats. But two Kalzeronians did have the voice to reach out to millions of their kind.
Dillar Za’Chrey wasn’t an elected official. He was the owner of the largest planet-based press syndicate on Kalzeron and a dabbler in politics. Due to his wealth and communications network he was a valuable ally and a dangerous foe. He was a backer of Qince, both monetarily and as a cheerleader. Whether he chose to continue to try to ram the now disgraced senator into higher office or switch to one of the alternatives was anyone’s guess.
Za’Chrey’s wife had been a society deb, and with her family name and her husband’s money had become doyen of the afternoon tea set. But like so many other females, after spawning several younglings and putting on years, she became quite rotund. And her husband had quite the eye for svelte young beings of both sexes.
Fortunately for me, Kalzeron was a planet of rather prim mores. So I hired a group of very attractive young beings, plied them with spice and liquor, and set up my hidden holocams to gain evidence of the multitude of laws that Za’Chrey ended up breaking. Contributing to the delinquency of minors, underage sex, spice use. A nice little orgy gave me all the leverage I needed to control his influence. He almost had a coronary when I played the tape for him, but he indeed saw reason and agreed to support Zelphah.
Regley H’Racce was a prominent religious leader. He used his oratorical skills to give voice to ancient Kalzeronian scripture, bringing in followers and enough donations to make him one of the wealthiest beings on the planet. And of course he was the voice of morality and propriety for the millions of devout temple kneelers who drank in the good preacher’s every opinion, who would pressure the senate to vote their will. He would be my most difficult challenge.
Logically he should support Zelphah as the least objectionable candidate for office, but logic and religion rarely meet. H’Racce had no vices that I could determine, a patient and kindly demeanor, and except for the questionable habit of soliciting credits from little old Kalzeronian females who were trying to buy their way into nirvana after death he was pristine in character. It would be my sincere pleasure to ruin him.
Sex and spice were out, and the good pastor’s followers didn’t seem to concern themselves with the nature of his finances, so I was very limited in what I could do. After I murdered the Prime Minister I didn’t want another assassination in rapid succession. My aim was to create a stable government without a need to maintain Brotherhood forces here, and I didn’t want to start a conspiracy craze that would have tongues wagging over how Zelphah obtained power.
After considerable thought I decided on good old insanity. On a recent trip to Dromund Kaas I learned a great deal about herbal potions from a black witch I encountered, including the uses for psychotropic plants. Mind control using the Force is a great tool, but it does have its limitations, especially against strong-willed individuals. But a combination of botanicals and the Force, a melding of the material and the mystical, would work wonders.
So I toured the herbariums in the capital city, searching for the supplies I needed. I found a local plant they called wolf’s bane in a small shop selling rather dangerous items. The flowers of the herb were highly toxic, but in small doses provided a hallucinogenic chemical that also induced paranoia. I extracted a few grams of the dark, milky liquid by pressing it out of thousands of flower heads, and headed off for the spacious mansion of the spiritual guru.
It was dark by the time I made my way to H’Racce’s estate. It was a palace. Stone walls all around, well-kept grounds, armed guards patrolling. I used my shadow crafting skills to walk boldly across the manicured lawn and up to a darkened window. A little telekinesis unlatched the lock, and I was inside. My former career as a thief called out to me, seeing the ease in which I made my way in and the opulence of the furnishings.
As with most rich people, they relied on guards but didn’t respect them. They only patrolled outside, not inside the master’s domain, where the Force told me that the inhabitants were all asleep. I walked up to the master bedroom, eyeing the pastor snoring in the still of the night, stifling the urge to kill him quietly. I made my way to the refresher, marveling at the expensive marble and the expanse of the room. Growing up on Almania my bedroom wasn’t that big.
I poured the herbal potion into H’Racce’s bodywash, and shook it to insure even distribution. Every day when he performed his morning ablutions the toxin would seep into his skin, make its way through his entire nervous system and work its wonderful magic on his brain. After this simple but vital task I made my way back through the mansion and out into the night.
H’Racce had scheduled a press conference for a few days hence, when he would announce for a new candidate for Prime Minister. There was a great deal of speculation on the local holonet on who it would be, seeing as the pastor didn’t abide Zelphah. Which was why I had to destroy him as a player.
Leading up to the announcement, everyone noticed the preacher’s growing dissociation with reality. The more charitable members of the press attributed it to overwork, stress or illness, while enough of the rest savaged him. I suppose the squeaky-clean goodness of the pastor irked other beings beside me.
I was in the audience for the speech. I used the Force to project an image, and the voice, of Qince into H’Racce’s mind. I bade the specter call the preacher a liar, an imbecile, a traitor – and worse. It didn’t take long for the pastor to begin a heated dialog with someone who wasn’t there, much to the dismay of his supporters and the glee of the antagonistic members of the media. Needless to say, his ability to support a new candidate evaporated. His choice politely declined H’Racce’s efforts to draft him, and that was that.
While waiting for the election I closely watched the news while continuing my rituals underneath the senate chambers. I used a DNA sample of Zelphah along with the chanting to make the senator, soon to be Prime Minister, the beneficiary of the Force nexus that was slowly building. The media confirmed my feeling that my mission would soon be crowned a success.
The day of the vote was anticlimactic. I made it past security and into the galleries of the senate, normally restricted for VIPs, to observe. And to intervene if anything went awry. But my caution was unnecessary, as the senate voted 35-13 to elevate the Brotherhood candidate to the supreme political office of Kalzeron.