All Rise

a story
2021-01-14 17:44:29,
2021-02-15 18:42:35
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“Gentlemen,” he began, his voice filling the theater, “You are all here, in secret, to vote to agree to bring forward and pass this motion I shall present to you today. If anyone here feels they cannot support this motion, feel free to leave at any time.”

His eyes scanned the darkened room. Several representatives from the House of Engineers and the House of Commons sat before him. Men and Women. They smoked cigars and pipes and they all nodded in agreement.

They had answered his invite. Then again, one does not simply ignore a summons from a Judge of the Antiford Courts.

“Civilization. It’s different. A group of savages can be called a tribe. A group of soldiers is called a unit. A group of people can be called a gang, or a community. But a civilization is more than just a group of people. Of towns. Of cities. Civilization is set apart by one thing.”

He allowed his voice to echo for a moment. He listened to the silence. Saw every eye upon him. He had their attention.

“Law,” demanded Adrian Sandoval, “Law is what separates the savage from the man. Law is what keeps the lady from the harlot. Law is the difference between the business man and the pirate. The murderer from the gentleman. Law, gentlemen and ladies, is civilization.”

He looked from one face to another. He looked for doubt among their faces.

“Antiford is at a crossroads between civilization and territory lawlessness,” he continued, “What plagues our civilization, gentlemen? What forms of lawlessness poisons our government?”

“Gangs,” came a shout from the audience.

“Degenerates,” coughed an overweight man with mutton chops in the front.

“Demons!” shouted a woman from the back to the murmured agreement of all.

Sandoval shook his head, “Short sighted politicians. You look but you cannot see. The west, councilmen, the west. All you have named is nothing stacked against the bandit gangs of the west. The pirates hiding in the Hoganmar. Outlaws riding from boomtown to ghost town. Lawlessness. Utter lawlessness. And what have you done? You’ve given the justice of our country to lawlessness itself.”

Sandoval began to pace up and down the stage. A small show of how upset he was getting.

“Vigilante justice means more weapons vendors exist than food vendors in the west,” he continued, “Bounty Hunters murder their way across the desert doing battle with the very law-breakers who they are attempting to stop. Gangs and airship and landship captains take it upon themselves to be the saviors of towns. These vigilantes are often just as bad, destructive, and law breaking as the people they do battle against and they are a scar to our law enforcement. Despite this, you have freely given our law enforcement to these lawless vigilantes.”

“As long as we allow our west to continue to write and enforce its own laws Antiford will always be at risk of total destruction.”

“Total destruction?” laughed a man from the side, with a handlebar mustache.

He stood from his seat and addressed the crowd, “Antiford has thrived since the revolution. All that lies to the west is White Haven, and I see no signs of destruction there. Don’t you think it’s a little dramatic to suggest some degenerates punching each other out would be the death of Antiford.”

“True,” said Sandoval, “A couple degenerates punching each other is nothing to worry about. However, recent history has taught us it only takes one. One degenerate with charisma and a ship. A single ship armed to the teeth with guns. That one degenerate recruits a crew of ten. Then there’s twenty. Before you realize what has happened you have an army of them crying revolution. Civil War. Then what? What happens to us? Do we end up like the Confederacy? I’m sure our southern neighbors had your mindset when confronted with their own lawless territories when the Emperor resurfaced. Bounty Hunters become soldiers. Pirates become pilots. Brawls become battles. Before you are aware you are sitting on the steps of your home watching a rebel army march down the streets of Gearford.”

The man said nothing of it. He sat back down, leaving Sandoval to smile without moving his mouth, and turn to the rest.

“What do you suggest we do?” shouted an old woman from the back, “Get on with it, your honor!”

“My plan is detailed to you in your pamphlets you received,” said Sandoval, “However the funds and… legality of the plan must be sanctioned by the government. I need all of you here to introduce a motion to endow me with the power to do what is right. Give me the tools, and I will bring justice to the west. I will break the chanka in. I will clean the streets. I will civilize the savages.”

“What you are requesting is, expensive,” suggested a woman from the middle.

“Some of you have voted down a motion to increase spending on ‘on tour’ officers,” said Sandoval, “Your reluctance to spend has done nothing to the increase of crime and highway robberies. My plan is a little cheaper and I believe will end up being more effective. I think we can spare it.”

“How can you be sure this plan will be effective?” said the man with the mutton chops again.

“Because, Councilman, I will be in charge of it,” answered Sandoval.

“You realize this would be a pay cut for you?” asked another.

“For now, yes,” said Sandoval, “I did write in that my retirement would double, but while I am working I will, technically, be making less. But I think I have made clear today it isn’t about the money.”

“I sense the Judge’s bid for a seat on the Technocratic Council,” smiled an old crone.

Sandoval allowed a smirk to spread across his face, “I think speaking of such things would be looking to the clouds. I would prefer to focus on the road ahead.”

“Can it be built?” asked an older man in the back.

Sandoval held out his hands, eyeing those around the room, “Can it?”

“The design is solid and I doubt it isn’t build able,” piped one man.

“I have concerns about the railroads themselves,” said another older woman, “But the design is solid. This is buildable.”

“Then what say you?” asked Sandoval, “Ordain me with the power to bring civilization to the west. In one year’s time, you won’t even recognize it. I’ll bring the filth to its knees. Give me the power to invoke justice to the lawless. What say you?”

The room erupted in a flood of “I.”s. Everyone appeared to be in agreement. Sandoval held another grin.

“Then allow me to waste no more of your time. Introduce the motion on the back of your pamphlets and name me. As soon as my ‘tools’ are built I will head west. You have my word.”

With that, the room began to shuffle and stand, talk buzzing around the theater. Sandoval turned away from them and closed his eyes. Soon, his plan would be in motion.