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Chapter 5527 Lemmings
The dynamic inside the enormous and ceremonially decorated a.s.sembly had taken a drastically different turn.
All of the mechers and a.s.sociates a.s.sumed that the 273 delegates with voting rights would hold an orderly and conventional vote.
The Survivalists generally despised drama.
Drama represented unantic.i.p.ated consequences.
Drama vastly increased the probability of accidents.
Drama had the potential to completely upend other people's calculations.
Right now, a drama had unfolded at the worst possible time during the conference.
Before this point, everything proceeded roughly according to plan. The three cliques of the Survivalist Faction all followed their own scripts and tried their best to appeal to as many neutral delegates as possible.
It wasn't until that old lady Master Istis Yinwe utilized a loophole in the age-old rules that governed events like these that the table had been completely flipped!
All the scripts got tossed away as a new reality unfolded right before everyone's eyes!
As the roll call continued, the older and more respected ladies and gentlemen increasingly threw aside their original responses in order to join the latest bandwagon.
"I still remain undecided." Master Kerin Mansour mentioned. "Over the past seven days, I have struggled with the greatest decision of my life and the lives of all of the red humans who look up to us for answers. I am ashamed. I have made difficult decisions throughout several centuries. Rarely have I flinched from this duty as much as today. As shameful as it is for me to admit my failing in full view of everyone, I cannot not allow myself to take this step without providing you with an accounting of my failings. I do not know what Master Istis Yinwe and her like-minded delegates see in Professor Ves Larkinson, but if they trust him with their voice, I shall do so as well. He has my proxy vote."
Another ace pilot rose up to her feet. Saint Fjelda Granton gazed at the Mace of Retaliation for a moment as if to signal that she was close to casting her vote on the Deep Strike Plan.
She ultimately made a different choice.
"I am a soldier. I have made my career out of fighting. I am not a politician. I despise all of the discussion about plans and reforms. Point me at an enemy and I will fight with my ace mech without hesitation. Ask me which of the three far-reaching blueprints for the future of our entire civilization I think is best, and I am twice as likely to botch this request. While I am honored by the deference you have shown me, I am not the right person to ask which policy is best. I will leave that to people who can do much better. I do not think I can go wrong with giving Professor Larkinson my proxy vote."
A transportation business magnate rose up next.
"All three plans have their own merits. The Diplomacy Plan has the highest success rate but sacrifices the most. The Deep Strike Plan is the most satisfying but has the greatest chance of dooming us all. The Unity Plan sounds fantastic in theory, but in my long experience of navigating the realities of doing business, it is always the unexpected that can make all of your foresight invalid. All three plans have their good points. All three plans have their flaws. It is impossible to objectively judge their quality or rank them from best or worse. They are all practically equal in my mind, so it does not actually matter which one I vote for. Since that is the case, I would rather bestow Professor Larkinson the right to cast my vote in proxy."
The largely ceremonial of a large first-rate colonial state spoke up a minute later.
"My reason for deferring my vote is moral in nature. As one of my fellow delegates has stated earlier, we are all relics from the Age of Mechs. The four centuries that preceded our current times belonged to us. We shaped the future of humanity in the Milky Way for such a long time that we have already had plenty of opportunities to make our marks. My career as a politician and a governor ended long ago. My value to society lies in my wisdom and my experience. That lends me well in a capacity as an advisor, but I have become too far removed from the people I used to answer to. I do not have the right to make decisions on their behalf anymore. The younger generations who will have to carry the torch forward in the Age of Dawn have a much greater right to decide on how they should live their lives. Let the only delegate who actually belongs to this prime generation vote on my behalf. Professor Larkinson has my proxy!"
Seeing all of these aged and respected people stand up and make increasingly elaborate speeches to justify their new decisions was agonizing to Ves and many other people.
The Xenotechnician, the Mace of Retaliation and the Polymath had done their best to maintain their dignity as the roll call continued to go off-course, but it was clear that none of them liked what was happening!
If not for the fact that invalidating the decisions of the delegates would actually break the rules a lot worse than what was happening at this time, they would have tried to shut down the proceedings at this time!
Ves wanted to bury his face a long time ago. He could feel the enormous amount of scrutiny directed towards him. It wasn't his fault!
n.o.body asked him whether he wanted to receive all of the proxies! There was no way he could possibly bear this much responsibility!
Why were all of these mechers and a.s.sociates eager to let the outcome of this entire voting session be decided by a mere second-cla.s.s Senior Mech Designer? It didn't make any sense from his perspective!
Yet another figure who possessed the full capacity to cast his vote but decided to join the latest bandwagon for yet another reason.
"I agree with the sentiments of many of my colleagues that have spoken before." The old and dignified man said. "What I would like to add is that Professor Ves Larkinson is perhaps the most component and visionary among his generation of mech designers that we have been graced with. His heritage is monstrous if you are able to look into it. His accomplishments over the course of his relatively short career are nothing short of astounding."
The man paused for a moment to look admiringly at Ves.
His works... many of them have the potential to uplift our race to a higher state. From his companion spirits to the rumors I have heard about an even greater means of empowerment, he has made so many groundbreaking contributions that it is clear that he is the guiding star of this new age. While it is true that there are many other brilliant mech designers and professionals who have made greater contributions than him, how much of that are legacy works that have been unveiled decades if not centuries ago? As far as 1 am concerned, Professor Larkinson fully deserves to cast my vote in proxy. Only he can determine which of the three plans best synergizes with his inventions."
A highly peculiar social dynamic unfolded. The mult.i.tude of arguments that these delegates came up with to excuse their behavior built up more and more momentum for giving Ves more proxy votes.
Ves could practically see the people on the front rows reconsidering their original voting decisions.
While there were still a number of people who selfishly or princ.i.p.ally insisted on casting their own votes, many of the delegates who had remained undecided up to this point saw little harm in giving Ves their votes instead!
By the time the people who stood up started to look younger and less aged, Ves had grown completely numb at this time.
He hadn't even spared any thought about what he wanted to do with all of these proxy votes.
This was because he thought that his vote wouldn't have mattered anyway!
When Jovy had explained the rules of the voting session, it had become clear to Ves that as the most junior delegate, he should have ordinarily been allowed to cast his own vote after everyone else had made their preferences clear.
This should have meant that his vote essentially wouldn't have changed anything!
Either one of the three plans had already won an outright majority, or the voting session proceeded to the second round where the least popular plan got ejected from consideration.
The probability that a two-way or three-way tie would occur where Ves just happened to be in a position to cast the deciding vote should have been minimal!
Instead, everyone's calculations had been thrown aside by this stupid stunt.
To Ves, these old and highly accomplished delegates no longer seemed so impressive to him anymore.
In his eyes, they were like lemmings who blindly followed their compatriots as they ran off a cliff and plunged into doom!
Ves still couldn't believe that all of these Survivalists and worthy a.s.sociates could lose their minds in such a critical situation!
As the man sitting next to Ves had given away his vote to the man of the hour as well, all eyes rested on the only remaining delegate who had yet to announce his voice.
Ves really did not want to stand up right now. His head was spinning like crazy as the enormous pressure weighed him down.
He had a strong feeling that if he rose to his seat at this time, he would p.i.s.s off a huge amount of powerful people regardless of what he said!
Fortunately, the three leaders noticed his less-than-ideal state.
The Xenotechnician spoke up in order to clarify the current situation.
"All but one of the delegates have made themselves heard. Out of the 273 votes, 183 have been cast for one of the three proposals for the time being. The Diplomacy Plan has accrued 60 votes. The Deep Strike Plan has accrued 48 votes. The Unity Plan has accrued 75 votes. The last remaining delegate has yet to cast a vote. Together with the proxy votes that he has been bestowed, he can effectively cast 90 votes in total."
90 votes. That represented an immense amount of power that roughly corresponded to a third of the legislative power of this gathering of delegates!
It was ludicrous to think that all of that voting power fell into the hands of a 40-ish year old mech designer!
The Xenotechnician continued to describe the possibilities that have emerged.
"90 votes is enough to ensure that one of the three plans will obtain an outright majority, including the least-popular Deep Strike Plan as it can just raise it above the threshold. Professor Larkinson may also decide to split his vote in a manner that will force us to proceed to the second round of voting. Depending on how he allocates his proxy votes, he can engineer his voting strategy to eliminate one plan of his choosing. Every delegate will then be able to cast his vote in a binary choice between the two surviving plans."
Ves' eyes lit up all of a sudden!
Although the Xenotechnician ostensibly laid out the facts, he was actually giving Ves a way out of this mess, more or less!
Although he would still have to bear a lot of responsibility by crossing out one of the three proposals in contention, this was a much more palatable alternative than single-handedly deciding the course of red humanity by himself!
Besides, once the voting session devolved into a much more simpler consideration between two different plans, the delegates would probably become a lot less confused. The odds that they would pull off their proxy stunt once again should be significantly reduced!
Ves firmed up his posture a bit as he finally regained enough composure to put on his metaphorical thinking cap again.
His eyes gazed speculatively across the three impressively dressed leaders floating above the central podium.
He knew that no matter what happened, he could not get away from this historic event without disappointing one of the three bigshots of the Survivalist Faction.
"Hmmmm... let's see..."
Which one did he detest the most?