Sanction vs Sacrifice ~ [2.2]
Michael came over to greet me after extricating himself from colleagues. It had been an eternal ninety seconds. I always feel out of place in crowds. “Sam, I’m so glad you’re finally here. Thanks for doing this. Everyone else apparently thought to come early and start debating before the vote.”
“You mean argue and yell?” I asked. He was trying to lighten me up. Mike continued, “Even though no one’s seen your report yet, many of ‘em think they know what’s best. Are you ready to get started? Can I get you anything? There’s some e/n-fluid up there in the lectern. I was able to get you almost five ounces!”
I replied with sincerity, “Much gratitude, Mike.”
“Steve refined the ratio a little more. It’s hiding for you on the shelf.”
And I am grateful. Four ounces of the electrolytic-nootropic fluid would be the same as drinking a full glass of rich spring water pumped directly from the limestone aquifers underground. This mineral rich water gives more than hydration alone. The added supplements will carry me through the night. There’s a lot of data to present this evening. It’s all up here in my neural network of a brain. Mind is the filter of recall. Drawing it out with the right words will be necessary tonight. Executing this plan–like any plan–will be the hard part. The e/n water will help me no doubt.
“Not to be taken in grant, nor for granted,” Mike said following up. Normally that common phrase wouldn’t bother me. And it would’ve made more sense had I said it first. I should’ve said it first. I wonder what he meant by saying that?
I’m probably reading too much into it. I nodded—about to respond when he got in front to complete his thought. Nodding back and says, “Just make sure you give us everything tonight. Everything you know about these fuckers. Help us make an informed and educated decision. We need that ‘network effect’ you taught me about.”
Doyle Abineau approached us out of nowhere. He has a round front side, causing him to lean back and compensate his weight while walking. It’s more like a slow and boisterous waddle. The mayor is a large and jovial man. “You think this will go well?” He asked in a slightly annoying way, reaching out. I shook his hand with reciprocal firmness, but without answering the question. “Doyle.”
The room is moving fast, and I need to speed up before getting on this freeway.
Out of nowhere, Mike whistled an ear splitting slice of air between two fingers in his mouth, like you see in movies. Then he clapped twice with commanding power. Three seconds and the room was silent.
His voice carries with volume and clarity. “Okay everyone. Thanks for being here tonight. Just so y’all know, we might see the sun rise tomorrow. We have work to do. Steve?”
“The HDC is now in session,” Steve Robertson declares with authority.
Mike pressed on, “You all know me, and most of you know me well. But I’m guessing only about half of us know our guest tonight. Sam Woodhouse. You know why he’s here, but you probably don’t know what he does. Even if you’ve read his bio.”
Mike received a few subdued chuckles.
“Sam is a researcher and regarded analyst of modern bureaucratic structures and their global organizational models. He writes on distributed network theory, and currently develops statistical data modeling systems using his own proprietary logistical projection algorithms… i.e. ‘secret projection algorithms.’ Dr. Woodhouse has monitored the movements of the gunkwick personnel and equipment since 2043, the year they became active in our country. He personally delivered a group of small-batch servers preloaded with his proprietary code to the UNA’s up north. And you know the rumors. That’s partly why their stronghold is so well organized and fortified. Apparently they used it with great success, huh?!”
The room whispered. Most people didn’t know that was my doing. These computer systems are like some kind of myth currently emerging. Most people outside this room don’t even know who I am. He left out that I did the same for the Alamex.
Mike finished up, “I could go on about his accomplishments and qualifications. But let’s get to it. Ladies and gentleman, this is Dr. Samuel Woodhouse.”
There was no clapping. Applause was written on some faces, but not many. I stepped behind the podium, reached under and took a sip of the silvery blue liquid. The room was quiet, but did not feel calm.
After a breath that was likely mistaken for a sigh, I began my presentation.
“Tonight you are gathered here to vote on a grave matter. A serious plan is in consideration, as everyone knows. I want to start by saying; nothing can be taken without a price. And while a price is being paid by our citizens everyday, by us, our families, brothers and sisters–we’ll have more taken from us no matter what you decide here this evening. If these actions are sanctioned, we must consider the burden, the price we are willing to pay.
“To sanction anybody requires sacrifice, for the word itself goes in either direction: to allow a thing, or to have a thing disallowed and taken. Before I show you the results of my analysis, I want every man and woman in this room to know that, no matter your result, we’ll need to find a way to pay our way–ehh pave it–to pave our way forward.”
I stuttered. I never stutter.
“Know this before we enter deep into the night. In the end we will invoke our own self imposed sanctions as a means to ration our final salvation. Your decision tonight will dictate the generosity and the affordance of our rations for years to come.”
I paused for a breath. I paused to make sure everyone knew. These reverberations will be felt long into the future.
“For it will likely take generations to dismantle the shackles that now bind us. But one thing I believe everyone here agrees on; the regime must fall. The gunkwick and their commissioners are not welcome here or anywhere else around the world. The only people who approve are the elite administrators themselves, the corporatist politicians who have turned their backs on us and invested in these authoritarian hierarchies. The people know this. And on this I know we all agree.”
The emotional temperature was level for the first time that evening. I continued diving into my full report. We started with easy-to-explain data like estimated gunkwick numbers up at their camp on the hill. Comparing that with our trained and approved force operators, and then a visual graph of their weaponry compared to ours. I answered occasional questions. The mood of the room was attentive. We discussed more items regarding simple logistics. As a group exercise, we pulled up info about the other gunkwick camps outside town and their response resources in the general vicinity.
I intentionally guided the initial conversation to create more cohesion and unity inside the cramped room. I showed how our plan of a clandestine night attack would yield us the advantage, in the short term and near long term. The fact that we have better trained operatives, the fact that gunkwick support and radio calls would be unresponsive for at least thirteen minutes. The fact that we could jam their holosets from broadcasting any live capture footage. The fact that the terrain would provide cover for our team to return or retreat if a contingency became needed. I withheld the information about the basement at Lowell. The secret shaft under the large telescope will only be known by one operative, if the plan gets approved by the vote. A possible eighth water well, as yet undiscovered, or forgotten to be more accurate. Lost to time. There was one entry in Percival Lowell’s journal that hinted toward groundwater being pumped on his compound. And another entry mentioning a “mine of riches and sustenance” that kept him provisioned up on the mesa. Whatever that meant, this is what supposedly enabled his obsessive and contentious research.
I’m done with the easy part. It was time to bring up the contentious issues of tonight’s conversation. We’ll take a quick break first.