Somebody, somewhere, makes a mistake.

A shipment of parts has arrived, but you realize you already got them days ago. That can't be right, somebody must have made a mistake. Somebody must have made a mistake, but it wasn't you. It couldn't have been you, because if it was you, then it's your head on the chopping block. So you make some calls. Ask around. You find an old request that takes up some of them. You find a stockpile you can put some more in, for a rainy day. The rest you figure you'll think of something for

Part of you worries, but you tell yourself it's okay. It has to be. Somebody, up on high, ordered those parts be delivered to you. That makes it okay, doesn't it? Somebody knows what he's doing. You don't have to worry about that, you have your own problems.

Like that ship arriving, her holds full of raw materials. The crew doesn't know what they're for, they just received orders from higher up to deliver them here. Perhaps even from on high. You don't know who requested them – maybe your predecessor, before you exposed him as inept and replaced him. It doesn't matter, you might not need the resources but you need the ship. You order it unloaded, then direct it to some of the local factories and mines and recruitment centers. They've all exceeded quota again, and need their stock offloaded in turn.

So you order the ship to load up, and head for where you sent the last batch. Surely they know what to do with them after. You order them to pick up the surplus of parts – after all, they needed some quite a while ago, surely they can use some more. And then you distribute the resources, to those who need them, then to those who might need them sometime in the future, then to those who have room to stockpile them, then to those who might know where to send the rest.

And so another crisis is averted. And for a moment you worry, what if you couldn't make it? What if your underlings knew how closely you come to failing, to succumbing to the chaos? Would one of them dare replace you? No, that's a crazy thought. It all works as it has to be. There's somebody who keeps an eye on all of it. Somebody up top. Somebody who keeps it all working. There has to be.

And so ships come and ships go. Requests are made and filled and filled again. Crew is harvested and lost and replaced. Quotas are issued and met and adjusted and met again. The machine works, and even when parts of it break, they are quickly fixed, or replaced, or circumvented. The many, many gears turn, and not one of them knows, or even suspects, that at the top is only a gaping hole. Those who clawed their way to it all died decades ago, and nobody even noticed.

And so the machine works on. And on. And on…