Some will do whatever it takes to become the next leader. Kellup is one of them.
Glora looked at herself in a floor to ceiling image reflector in her sleeping quarters. First she peered at herself in the front. Then at the back. Posing in several different poses as she did it.
Her three best friends lounged around in that room too. Leanc stretched out on Glora’s sleeper. Patrik leaned against that sleeper on the floor behind Glora. Contessi sat in a chair with her legs dangling over one arm of it.
“The election is only two weeks away,” said Glora. “I don’t know why you named me as the next leader of our training center.”
“We had to do something. No one wanted to go up against Kellup. Everyone who has tried has decided not to after talking to him. We can’t let him win.”
“I agree Patrik,” responded Glora. “We can’t let him do that. But why do I have to be the one who stops him.”
“You are the best one who has the best chance to do it. If anyone can do it you can,” said Contessi.
Leanc sat up on his elbow. “Has Kellup talked to you yet.”
“It’s still possible that I could be the next leader. What does that tell you about Kellup?”
“He hasn’t talked to you – yet,” said Patrik. “But he will. And when he does we will know how he’s talking everyone out of going up against him.”
“He’s not just talking them out of going up against him for leadership,” commented Glora. “He is also getting them not to admit to the real reason why they have decided not to challenge Kellup. How is he doing that?”
“I have been thinking a lot about that,” answered Contessi. “And I think he’s using the imperfection in us all to do it. No one is perfect. Everyone has defects and weaknesses. And he’s using that against them.”
“What are my defects – or are they my weaknesses?” asked Glora as she continued looking at herself in her image reflector. “Never mind. I can see them in my reflection. I’m ugly.”
“For one thing, you’re not ugly. And for another, that can’t be it anyway because some of the others who have decided not to challenge him aren’t ugly either.”
“That just means he has found out something else wrong with them. But with me it’s because I am ugly.”
“Leanc is right,” replied Cotessi. “You’re not uglier, or prettier, than anyone else is. You are a normal twelve-year-old female just like me.”
Glora twirled around to face her friends. “If that’s not the reason then what is.”
Patrik got up and sat on the edge of the sleeper facing Glora. Leanc and Contessi joined him. “Maybe there isn’t any. That’s why he hasn’t talked to you yet. It’s because there is nothing he can use against you.”
“You could be right about that Patrik,” responded Leanc. “All the others have been talked to a day or two after their announcement to challenge him. It’s been almost a week with you.”
“I hope your right about that. But I don’t think so.” Glora returned to looking at herself in the image reflector. “I don’t know what it is. But I know there’s something wrong with me.”
A few hours after her friends left Glora’s mother, Naince, called up to her. “Glora, there’s someone here to see you.”
Naince’s voice echoed all around Glora’s sleeping quarters. Glora got out of her sleeper and pushed a button on a small box, only big enough for that button, next to a door.
“Send them on up,” replied Glora. “It must be my friends coming back after eating to talk about what to do with Kellup.”
Someone walked up to a door in the hallway. It slid open when they reached it. Kellup walked through that door. “We need to talk.”
“I’ve been expecting you,” Glora lied. “What do you have against me?”
“I like that. Everyone else wanted to talk with me first. They thought they could talk me out of it. But not you.”
“The sooner you tell me the faster I don’t have to look at you. So why are you here.”
Kellup pulled out some images from his pocket and gave them to Glora. Glora looked at each one of them for about a minute. Then she threw them back at Kellup – one at a time. Each one like a disk. Two of them cut him in his face. The others didn’t get that close.
“Those are fakes. No one is going to believe those are real.”
“Of course they are fakes.” Kellup said sarcastically as he touched the blood on his face. “But even if they are it doesn’t matter. You know that once something like this is on The Network it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not it’s who you are for the rest of your life.”
“Is that how you have been eliminating your challengers?” Glora asked.
“Isn’t abjection great. It’s a lot easier, and faster, to humiliate someone than it is to find something wrong with them. Especially if there isn’t anything about them that is wrong.”
Glora smiled big. “Now I know why my friends wanted me to challenge Kellup. They knew I wouldn’t give in to his threats. I don’t care what you do with those illegal images. I’m not going to drop out of being the next leader.”
Kellup did what he said he would do. He did place those images The Network. But his plan backfired. Not only did he lose the challenge to because the next leader he also got into some serious trouble for placing those illegal images on The Network.
“I don’t know if they selected me in an overwhelming selection because of those fakes or not. I’m sure the males probably thought they were real. But the females didn’t. I don’t care. All I care about is that I’m the leader for the next five years.”