Vern sat on his stone throne and surveyed the antics of his brethren in the
senate chamber. A few hours ago he had banished the senate, telling them to go
and tidy up all the rooms in the Academy's dorm. He had then passed a decree that
all of Generation Prime must walk on all fours. Anyone caught breaking the
rule would have to stand on one foot for half-an-hour whilst singing "The
Tennessee Waltz" over and over.
From what Vern understood, he was one of the more benevolent Lords of
Misrule.
He had gathered his fellow Academy classmates into the Senate chamber, where
they proceeded to party like it was 99 B.C. Since there was no alcohol, they
sipped water and mushroom tea while singing (off-key) songs from the 1970s, while
others played twenty-year-old boardgames. It was the first time Vern had seen
the Clue box with the original actors.
"Hey King Vern," a voice called from across the chamber. Vern squinted to
see who it was to no avail. "I just lost Parcheesi again. Decree that I actually
won."
"All right, you won. But one day, and it may never come, I may ask you to
do a service for me," Vern said.
"Uh, okay," the voice said.
Vern sighed; no one got his humor down here. He'd had enough of his myopia,
and leapt off of the stack of three senate seats he'd been sitting on. Several
people stood up to attention and made the common chest-bang salute, but this time
with their left hand.
"As you were," Vern said. "I'm just going to get my diving mask. I assume
you can behave badly without my supervision?"
"Yes, my liege," a voice said, quickly followed by a chatter of assents.
After picking up an oil-lamp from one of the pedestals, Vern made his way
to the door. At the last moment he turned around and faced his contemporaries.
"I'm going to find an honest man." Laughter filled the chamber, Vern smiled and
made his way out. He'd turned into such a nerd.


"Hail Tuttle," a bored voice said from the darkness.
Vern had gotten his mask and was on his way back to the Senate chamber. He
turned in the direction of the voice and slowly walked towards it.
"Claudius?" he said.
Sure enough, the pool of lamplight soon fell across the familiar shape of
his friend. Claudius was scrunched up, leaning against a wall.
"Did your lamp go out?" Vern asked. He looked around Claudius, but didn't
see a lamp anywhere.
"Having fun?" Claudius asked, his voice devoid of interest.
"I suppose so. How long have you been here? I didn't see you at the Senate
party, but considering my eyesight that isn't surprising," Vern said.
"I heard about your ascension. Congratulations," Claudius said.
Vern sat down next to him. "Did Helena tell you?"
"No. The council of teachers put up the list of the ascended," Claudius set.
A few moments passed. "I wasn't on it."
Oh, Vern thought. Now he understood. "Were you expecting to be?"
"I can't take another year of this," Claudius said. "I obviously grasp the
material. Why the hell do I have to spend another year writing essays on polemics
and making speeches about good citizenship and leadership?!"
"Did they tell you why you weren't being ascended?" Vern asked.
"They don't think my rhetoric is up to snuff," Claudius said. "Although that
seems rather admirable to me."
Vern didn't know what to say. He leaned against the wall and sighed. He
wished he could've said something to make it all better. But he couldn't think of
a damn thing.
"Once you become a citizen, you're going to run for senate, aren't you?"
Claudius asked.
"I'm considering it," Vern said, feeling a little uncomfortable.
"And you're going to use that position to escape the Republic, right?"
Claudius asked.
"Now wait just a minute there-" Vern started.
"Don't bullshit me Vern. You might have got the others fooled, but you don't
belong here. We both know that," Claudius said.
"That's completely untrue!" Vern said.
"I want to go with you," Claudius said.
Vern hadn't been expecting that; to say the least. "What? Why?"
"There's nothing here for me anymore. If you're running for Senator you'll
need someone who knows the Republic. I know it better than anyone. With me as a
consultant, you'll be a shoo-in," Claudius said.
Vern looked at his friend in a new light. Very subtly, things had changed.
There was one person down here that he didn't have to wear the mask for: someone
who shared his goals. Someone he could truly talk to. He felt a great deal of
the stress that had accumulated over the past two months evaporate. He felt like
he'd regained a piece of himself.
"All right," Vern said. "Let's do it."
END PART ONE


Afterword

This is all there is of the story known as "The Republic". I wrote it as a serial novel back in 2004, a chapter every day, excluding weekends. (As such, it predates Bioshock. At the time this story was written, Bioshock was supposed to be about an unearthed Nazi bunker on a tropical island that was filled with giant genetically engineered insects).

I'm going to make an attempt to complete the story (it was originally supposed to be composed of four volumes, with what you just read being the first volume. However, it will be awhile before I post any new chapters.

In the meantime please check out some of my other stories:

A Year Out

Jessica & Kaori

The Lodge Meeting

The Babysitter Caper

And thank you for reading!