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|“||Mutiny. It's mutiny, Elder. More than technical error or ship malfunction or outside dangers, mutiny is the greatest threat to this ship. So, after the Plague, the Eldest system was created. One person, born ahead of the people he would lead, to act as patriarch and commander to the people younger than he. Each generation has an Eldest to lead. You will one day be an Eldest. You will be the strong central leader who prevents discord, who preserves every living person on this ship.||„|
|~ Eldest to Elder about leadership.|
|“||There was never any Plague.||„|
|~ Eldest revealing that the Plague never existed.|
|“||You never had a mother! We're the same person! Elders are cloned—same DNA, same everything. All I did was pluck you from the jar and put you into a tube sixteen years ago.||„|
|~ Eldest reveals to Elder that they are both clones of the Plague Eldest.|
Eldest is the main antagonist of the novel Across the Universe. He is the evil captain of the spaceship Godspeed which is traveling to a new planet called Centauri-Earth.
Not much is known about Eldest's background before the events of the book. What is known, however, is that he was once an Elder who was cloned by the Plague Eldest, and created an Elder, whom he tried to corrupt, and then kill him by having Doc inject the Elder with Phydus. However, that Elder fought the Phydus in his body and won, and having enough of Eldest's abuse, he ripped out the Wi-com from his left ear, and named himself Orion. However, Eldest didn't know that Orion was still alive. After that incident, he created another Elder three years later, and has been trying to corrupt him all his life.
Across the Universe
At first, Eldest calls Elder about the latter throwing the Keeper Level of Godspeed into lockdown, and releases the lockdown himself. When Elder tries to explain that he scanned his access and that caused the metal screen with sparkling lights resembling stars to open, Eldest furiously demands Elder why he was messing around with it, and closes the metal screen with the biometric scanner. Following this, he teaches Elder some leadership lessons. He talks about a different Elder before the current Elder, one who was very foolish, which got him killed. He also shows Elder the wi-com map, and that the wi-coms are implanted behind people's left ears, and are used to call and locate one another. After that, Eldest tells Elder that all 2,312 Shippers, the passengers of Godspeed, are his responsibility, and teaches him the three causes of discord. He tells him that the first two are difference and lack of a strong central leader, but leaves him to find the third cause of discord all by himself.
Eldest reappears in the storage of the spaceship, where he sees Elder and Doc looking at Amy in one of the freezing chambers. He furiously asks Doc how he and Elder got down there, and Doc lies that he left the door to the fourth floor of the hospital unlocked and was distracted when one of the patients needed medications. Then Eldest demands that Elder follow him, and the latter obediently listens.
|“||Eldest's cool, grandfatherly exterior is cracking, and his true self, his petty, power-hungry self, is leaking through.||„|
|~ Elder seeing the monster Eldest really is.|
Eldest is a manipulative and threatening individual. While he may seem like a grandfatherly figure at first, his true nature starts to unfold: that of a lying, dishonorable, and failure-intolerant despot who rules over the Shippers in Godspeed with an iron fist.
He is a soft-spoken sadist who likes to torture Elder as shown when he made a smile while increasing the loud, deafening sounds in the wi-com from within Elder's ear to force him to go to the Keeper Level, despite keeping calm during the scene. He also views Adolf Hitler as a role model while also lying to Elder that Abraham Lincoln sent the African slaves back to their own country. Eldest is also an addict, as he is an alcoholic who drinks liquor.
His dishonorable side is shown when he previously promised the Shippers that they would be able to see Centauri-Earth before eventually telling them that the flight is being delayed and they won't be able to see it, a fact Harley rants at Eldest about during the latter's speech. Also, later on in the book, Eldest takes Elder to the Shipper Level where he explains that the ship is actually 250 years behind schedule and not 25 like he claimed in his speech, and it's eventually revealed by Orion that the Frozens were meant to be the colonists of Centauri-Earth and never the Shippers like Eldest claimed, so the Frozens could control the Shippers as soldiers and slaves.
Worse, Eldest is a mass brainwasher who uses the Season, an event where he puts a drug called Phydus, which he uses to control the Shippers, in the water the Feeders drink out of to make them sex-crazed, to give birth to a new generation for Elder to rule over, the person he is mentoring and trying to corrupt to become just like him; because of said brainwashing, a group of Feeders try to rape Amy at one point in the book. Eldest knows about what Phydus does and uses it to his own advantage, either for brainwashing citizens to use them for maintaining the ship, or killing those who know about his true evil and turning them into fertilizer used in the Feeder Level (as shown in the case with Steela). This all shows he clearly has no regard for other people's lives.