Escorted by flag-bearer, flautist, and bodyguards, Victor Chelan descended the 47 steps of the Capitol’s front. The side doors of the building, close to ground level, were used by most visitors, but the sweep of the Great Stairs of the Union down Capitol Hill served to accentuate the building’s majesty, such as it was. Someday, Chelan thought, the current pile of industrial concrete and cinder block will be replaced with a majestic building, but probably not in this century. The stair architect and contractor had actually delivered, as promised, a magnificent set of stairs. Those stairs came to the great surprise of the press, which had hoped for yet another capital-construction scandal. Waiting at the bottom was a gaggle of reporters, backed by a slew of cameramen and tethered cameradrones.
“Doctor Chelan! Doctor Chelan!” Chelan decided that he could not tell which of the reporters was shouting what. Just as well, he thought. This way I affect to hear the questions I want asked, if need be by misunderstanding what is being said.
“Good afternoon,” Chelan said, raising his voice ever so slightly. “My lapel mike is on channel three, so most people can hear me over the roar of the crowd. I believe I heard someone ask why I am here. The answer, of course, is that I am a patriotic citizen of the Union, and received a subpoena. I appeared as directed.”
Reportorial voices became louder. “Why am I managing Bulger for the debtors in possession? Why not someone else? I appeared with a solid plan that will by and by get everyone their money back. Other investors did not.”
“But why are you managing?” someone shouted.
“I have friends who have significant funds tied up in the yard,” Chelan said. “I have friends, not rich friends, who invested sizable parts of their savings in Bulger. I am coming to their rescue, for which I am not being paid. Other, of course, than I am myself an investor, and last in line to get my money back.”
“Why did you turn down the Space Guard contracts?” That, Chelan thought, was the lead reporter from Intercontinental News, the muckraker channel.
“We are not in receipt of the alleged contract tender,” Chelan said, not quite raising his voice. “We have a number of former Space Guard members as employees; if any of them had heard about the contracts, they never mentioned. Also, we do have vigorous and positive contacts with the Space Guard. That’s how we found out where our missing ore was going. Those contacts never asked me what our response would be to their tenders, under conditions where I am sure the tenders would have been mentioned if they ever existed.”