I nervously straightened my lab-coat as I entered the turbolift. This was it, the interview that would make or break his chance to become the president. All the other candidates so far had been rejected, and to make it even worse the interim president was on of the three. With a whoosh the doors closed, and there was a slight tug of acceleration before the doors opened again, nearly a thousand kilometers away, in front of the presidents office. I feel like I'm a kid again knocking on the big wooden doors of the principals office. Of course my high school didn't have giant doors donated by the British Museum when they modernized.
"Come in." rang out the voice of interim president as the giant doors swung open. The office was incredibly over sized, as was the giant marble desk, a holdover from the second president, who had been over three meters tall and had an ego even larger than he was. Behind the ten meter wide desk the president looked tiny, even though she was the tallest of the three.
"Miss Asakura, it is a pleasure to finally meet you." I blurted out as I approached the desk. At least I didn't stammer. It's not every day you meet a legend.
"The pleasure is all mine professor Bernstein. Please call me Ryoko," she smiled warmly, "Would you like some coffee?"
"Yes, of course, I mean please, if it's no trouble." I babble, blushing in embarrassment.
"Oh it's no trouble, please have a seat and make yourself comfortable." She said, as she started busying herself with the coffee machine on the side of the desk.
I took the opportunity to examine the desk in more detail, it was neatly organized, but almost completely filled with odds and ends. Along the front of the desk was a line of models depicting the Academy through it's 75 year growth from it's humble beginnings as an outgrowth of Hades station through it's current size as a collection of asteroids, domes and rings surrounded by the currently largest particle accelerator in known space at a diameter of 2000km up the the planned expansion to add more space for the new departments and a 4000 km diameter particle accelerator which would be used for really high energy physics. And to add a few more 2000km rings to use for student projects. The title for the largest university in known space was definitely secure for a while longer.
Other noteworthy models included the one with the first breaker gate, and the one from just after the activation of the breaker gate, when the entire department of limit break research as involuntarily relocated deep into the local limit. Ever since then various dangerous projects have been moved to other satellites in system, making some claim that the Academy stretches over the entire system. The President of the Academy was recognized as the system authority for Procyon by the Federation, lending additional weight to that claim. And here I was trying to get the job, I must be mad to think I even stand a chance.
Some of the other items on the desk where clearly the personal belongings of Ryoko, such as the pictures of the legendary Professor, in whose name the Academy was founded, together with the three and the schools founder and first headmaster Indy when he was still a kid. Measuring up to the Professors Apprentice, who also was the first president, was going to be a though job. A job so though that no-one has managed it yet.
"Are you alright?" asked Ryoko, while handing over a freshly brewed cup of coffee. "You look a little preoccupied."
Taking a deep breath to steady myself I take the steaming mug and reply; "I was just thinking about the responsibilities and duties as the president of the Academy."
"To business then, what makes you think that you are the best person for the job." She asked with a smile that set my heart aflutter.
Rallying my wits I responded with one of my prepared statements; "As the chair for the journalism department I have a great deal of experience in leading a section of the Academy, and I am already familiar with most of the day to day operations necessary to keep the university running."
"But following that argument wouldn't Dean Harzaref even better suited to the job? He has lived at the Academy for his entire life, and many departments would be happier with a proper scientist in the lead." Prodded Ryoko, her smile suddenly reminding me more of a shark's.
I successfully held in my shudder at the sudden change in the offices mood, the argument was expected after all. Indeed it was almost as if she was following my script. "With all due respect to the Limit Break Physics Department, Dean Harzaref is a brilliant scientist but his skills as an administrator are severely lacking. He also doesn't have the breath of experience necessary to lead the Academy in interfactional affairs, he is almost embracingly provincial. I hover have extensive experience in this field, I even helped settle some of the disputes during the Mars Rebellions."
"That leads me to another point raised against you, you have made enemies in the Federation with your involvement on mars, there have even been rumors that the federation would free the Citizens of Procyon from the 'tyranny' of the Academy President, who is after all a dictator that is not democratically elected. Many feel that appointing someone like you to this sensitive post would be an unnecessary affront." Ryoko said, you could almost hear the quotes around the key word of that sound byte bandied around by the Federation politicians. Though her inscrutable smile gave no hint of her position on that issue.
"Those rumors are always circling, the Federation is not like the old style USA, nothing will come of it. Besides there are only a few thousand Citizens of Procyon, as it is a honorary title bestowed on a few scientists. Secondly the rest of the population are either transients, most of whom are students, or they are employed by the Academy, and few universities hold elections amongst the staff for leadership." I retorted, becoming more comfortable, so far all the objections had been things I had expected and had prepared a response for. I might still make it. Her next question however hit me out of the blue.
"Well you know the correct platitudes to say, lets move on to something else. So I heard that you had an affair with Ms. Alexander, who was later convicted as a Boskoninan in the aftermath of the Mars Rebellions. Tell me is she really like a wildcat in bed?"
I barely kept my jaw from dropping, how did she know about that? I hated the guilty expression that I knew was on my face. Still after a second to gather my composure I started to respond. "I broke of my affair with Ms. Alexander when she joined the MRA, since I disagreed with her decision. I never though the MRA would go as far as the Stingray Incident, otherwise I would have informed the Martian authorities of course. I simply felt there was no point in advertising my former relationship with one of the ring leaders after the fact."
Ryoko just nodded, "As I said you know the things to say, but that wasn't what I asked."
Thinking franticly to recall what she asked when she dropped that little bombshell on me. Finally I responded "I don't see what business it is of yours, but yes, she was."
"If it is none of my business why did you even respond to it in the first place?"
I couldn't decide whether her smile was cherubic or that of a shark about to go into a feeding frenzy. Still I pressed on as well as I was able. "If I get the Presidency I will have to maintain the standards of openness and transparency set up by previous presidents, so I will have to get used to having very little privacy. And you are the Interim President, and on the board of directors. If you felt it was your business to know something about me then I have an obligation to tell you or withdraw my application."
"Not quite the answer I was hoping for but good enough. Congratulations Mr. President."
It took a few moments for what she said to penetrate, it was all I could do to stammer out, "Thank you, but the board of directors still have to vote."
She waved it off, "a formality, you already have seven out of nine votes between me Miyu and Catty. By the way you are wrong about the Federation, they are about to make a move against the Drakensis Combine."
Of course that made sense, the three each held two out of the nine votes, and the current president also had a vote, so the overwhelming majority was no surprise. The what she said about the Federation penetrated and I shuddered. I thought they would have learned after what happened to the USA, or if not, then at least from Mars.