The Council Building, Central
Esther was taken aback.
She couldn’t believe how many of the members of the Council she recognised. Not simply the likes of Goran, Eve and Sven who liaised with the residents, but people she recognised from before.
The woman to the far left of the table had been someone big in Europe. Germany, maybe?
Then there was that British politician guy. Matthewson? Mendelson? Mandelson?
…and the man from the UN. Kofi someone?
She didn’t recognise everyone there, but she would guess that many of them represented other parts of the world. And here was she. She suddenly felt once more that she was just a little girl from Oklahoma, and she had no idea what she was doing amongst these people.
Bryan knew nothing of these people, all he knew was that they were members of the Council, and that they held the key to his future, to his family’s future – to the future of all Beacon residents, and he was nervous that what they decided here might change his world irrevocably.
Eve introduced Bryan and Esther to the council. She gave the other members’ names, but Bryan could barely take any of them in. They all had fancy titles, like United Nations Liaison Officer, Global Affairs Co-ordinator and Implementation Strategy Advisor. He and Esther were simply ‘Residents’ Representatives’.
People shared the findings of reports. Bryan and Esther struggled to keep up at times, but it appeared that the plans for integrating Beacon into the world at large were still some way off, five years at an estimate, possibly ten.
Bryan felt a strange mixture of relief that the changes would not be immediate and fear from the knowledge that it would still be in his lifetime.
Esther, though, felt tears of frustration starting to prickle in her eyes. She could not wait another ten years. They could not wait. She could not bring that news back to the residents. There would be outrage.
After hearing discussions about diplomatic and economic strategy and about the lack of compatible infrastructures, Esther and Bryan were finally called upon to speak. Esther felt her anger and frustration rising and took a deep breath… but then Bryan spoke, much more calmly than she would have managed, and she gulped her outburst back, took a deep breath and forced back the tears. She couldn’t speak from a place of being upset, she would just look foolish.
‘I have to say that the residents are currently split on the issue of integration. I recognise that this has been a source of long-standing division in the communities but we feel that we need Council reassurance about how the integration will occur, and whether it will be phased in, in order to make the necessary adjustments’.
An Australian-sounding man spoke.
‘Mr Light, the onus is not on the members of the community to integrate into the world at large, the onus is on the world at large to change to accommodate Beacon. We are immensely proud of the work conducted in Beacon over the years, and we truly believe it is a community fit for purpose’.
‘Then why can’t we fulfil our purpose?’
All eyes in the room turned to look at Esther. She felt their stares: quizzical, accusatory, patronising.
‘Ms Lovett, you can surely appreciate what a change it would be for the world to accept this new country. A country that uses no currency, whose economic, political and geographical infrastructure varies so wildly from everywhere else. It is our firm belief that Beacon demonstrates what most of us would desire our own countries to become, that it truly is a shining example of nationhood. But the time is not right for the world to accept Beacon. It would cause a huge upset. We need time to prepare’.
Esther fumed. Bryan looked at her, giving a brief synpathetic glance, before addressing the room once more.
‘With respect, as you can see, feelings run high amongst a number of residents who feel that they are not able to fulfil their true purposes. We appreciate the complexity of the situation, but there are people who were students of the Academy many years ago now, elderly people who are anxious to see the promises fulfilled in their lifetime’.
‘And it is our hope that they will. But to rush integration would be a disaster for all involved. You yourself said that many of the community would find the process disruptive and are concerned that it not be rushed. We echo those concerns. For this to truly work, we have to take it at an appropriate pace’.
‘So what can we do? What can the residents do to prepare?’
Esther couldn’t help the desperation in her voice, although she was trying hard to restrain herself and be appropriate.
‘Just do as you have been. We have no significant concerns about residents. Please reassure all residents that we have their best interests at heart, that we understand their concerns and frustrations and that we will be doing everything within our power to address those concerns and ensure a smooth integration. For everyone’.
And with that, the discussion was closed down, and the Council members filed out.
Bryan looked at Esther and could see the anguish in her face, but he knew he couldn’t comfort her. She whispered ‘They’re going to be so upset when we tell them’. Bryan nodded. ‘But it’s for the best. You heard them. It has to be right’. Esther nodded and slowly got up to leave.
‘Come on, we’ll be OK. People will understand’.
Esther’s voice cracked a little: ‘but they’ve waited so long. It’s been so long’. She thought of it taking another ten years before she saw her family. What if they died? What if they wouldn’t recognise her?
Bryan looked at her and spoke gently.
‘In the scheme of things, it’s only a little while longer’.
Yet as they walked out, all Bryan could think was that the changes were happening too quickly, and all Esther could think was that they might never occur.
Author’s note: Special thanks to Hrootbeer for creating the political sims for me. Also: you may notice Goran missing – this save file seems to have vanished from my menu before I’d finished the shots. Am hoping to restore it before we need to go back, but I didn’t have time to faff about just to get him in there.