In court, they swear on a stack of bills.
The Maneuverist religion teaches that lying is wrong if you’re unconvincing, and stealing is sinful if you’re the victim. To enforce those standards on their membership, they maintain ecclesiastical courts which try those who break either of their Two Commandments.
Andrew Rawlings is an ecclesiastical lawyer. As a proctor of absolution, his job is to defend those charged with breaking the Two Commandments or the Cardinal Rules of Status and Success. Andrew himself lives by the rules of his religion even as he superbly represents those who do not. His success comes from his analytical skill, his adroitness at cutting corners around the rules of procedure, and his psychological manipulation of opposing counsel. In court, he consistently defeats a repugnant proctor of sanctions who sometimes charges women for refusing his advances.
At times, Andrew laments the harshness of his religion’s disciplinary system, but he attributes that to an overzealous application of sound principles. His mentor, the chief attorney at his corporation, has always cautioned him about unbridled greed, and the woman he most desires has privately expressed opinions bordering on altruism. Andrew deeply respects both of them, but he basks in his wealth and status while fully supporting the societal system that makes it all possible.
Maneuverists corral their society’s wealth by granting themselves preferences in government contracting. Their corporations are allowed to win up to 40% of their contracts in a non-competitive process that effectively excludes non-Maneuverists. However, that doesn’t satisfy the contracting officers in Andrew’s corporation, and his corporation has been caught exceeding the 40% limit. Afraid of losing its preferences altogether, his CEO assigns its defense to Andrew.
Andrew struggles to devise a defense to spare his corporation the disaster of litigation. His initial efforts reveal that the illegality is more serious than previously known, and his mentor admonishes him for digging the corporation into a deeper hole. Andrew, however, sticks to the principles his mentor taught him years ago and ponders his mentor’s apparent change of character.
Throughout his life, Andrew has followed his religious upbringing to exalt status and success. But the small rift with his mentor and the desire for a woman who privately questions those precepts opens his heart to influences he had previously not felt. Without himself fully understanding it, he is guided by two masters, and he must solve his corporation’s legal problems even as he contemplates new principles of honesty and fairness.