Working Chapter 15 of my Is it for us alone? novel in progress
When Anders awoke it was sometime near dawn and he was still where he started, back some time which felt like very long ago. He groggily sat up without thinking about what he had done or where he wanted to go. All he knew in this moment that whatever was the most vital thing that he needed at this moment. Dehydration felt like it was setting in and besides his various desires for cigarettes, alcohol or coffee, he knew it was the only thing that would make him feel awake. Typically, he hadn’t thought to bring a bottle to the car, so he ventured into the nearby house, where he had memory of a store of bottles.
He walked slowly into the cellar of the house. It was cool even adjusting for the heat of the place, so when he ripped apart the plastic wrap holding six two litre bottles of water and greedily gulped most of the two litres down or over himself, it was at a cool and refreshing temperature. Sitting on the top of the cellar steps, he realised that he was entirely cantered and at peace. Presumably such a basic biological function was so universal that everyone was thinking the same thing all at once. It was calming, but did not last.
Generally, the thought was that little truth had come from the President, because she had been more of a self interested passenger in the whole affair. In a different sort of way, the General had also been a passenger, following orders and refusing to consider the morality of it all. The same principle broadly rolled down throughout the ranks, carried by self interest as it always is in war. Now the jury thought there was only one pair that could provide the truth that they sought. Two ministers, both Prime and prime suspects for delivering the truth. They needed to be round up and interrogated.
The first Prime Minister was Karl Duck of North America, a man that many thought was born and bred in the Navy and whose surname couldn’t have been more fitting. He brought a military efficiency to his Premiership which didn’t always sit well with his Members of Parliament, but inspired confidence from the voters who had tired of eight years of more or less technocratic rule that seemed to promise much and deliver little in the short term. There was no doubt in the jury’s mind that PM Duck had a hand in swaying the bloc towards a solution which essentially amounted to a blockade. In his youth, during the final major conflicts which set out the new blocs of the world, he had masterminded several crucial blockades of key rebel strongholds which starved them into submission. It’s no surprise he would try to use this tactic on a much larger scale when he felt threatened.
Then there was Prime Minister Ashish Zhén, the leader of the Greater China region. Premier Zhén was a true visionary in his early years having spearheaded the negotiations that lead to to formation of the Greater China bloc, years before he became Prime Minister. The party line was that these negotiations were constructive and filled with great energy from all involved, but it was clear that behind the scenes there was a significant amount of leverage and muscle at work. To his followers, even in the non-Chinese portions of the bloc, he was seen as a great unifier, but in truth it always takes a few generations for unity to really show. In any event, PM Zhén was confident in his position. That he stood by PM Duck was surprising to most given the icy state of affairs between them publicly, but then again, as self interest looms large, it’s not so surprising.
Jurors were focussed, Judge was in session, only witnessed remained to appear. They had been summoned and while there was not strict penalty that could be levied for non-compliance with the summons, the jury was intent on compelling their appearance. Accusations were being levied, but again no real penalties existed. This was an exercise in truth. So it was that when all of Anders, as judge and the other parts of him as jury, focussed all energy on the summons, the memories of the Ministers Prime Duck and Zhén, they appeared and were interrogated together.
“There are many questions to answer, but chief among them, and in reality the only true question, is why?” Anders the judge queried the memories of the Ministers Prime.
A lull and then the simplistic chorus from them both rang through, “We had no other option.”
This was an unacceptable truth, the jury ruled quickly. It may be one of their memories, but it was practiced and reused a thousand times. It would not suffice in these circumstances, where the Ministers Prime had no authority and no power. They were probed again.
Zhén’s measly response was found, “I was reluctant, but I had no choice to protect my people.”
This brought up memories or rage and a giant uproar from the righteous indignation of armchair diplomats and the pure hatred of the disenfranchised. Zhén was a great leader to only a select few and those were mostly dead. He was ruthless and no one believed that he would do anything for the benefit of his people. This was all about retaining his power and position within the Triumvirate.
“To the truth of the matter!” Was the rallying call from the jury.
Then they found the kernel of truth, “I was worried that I would be left out and that the work that needed to be done would be beneficial to my standing. If I challenged the others and I was left out of the pact, no one would believe me until it came true and then they’d behead me for not joining in. It’s only now that we’re stuck together that any of my people grow a moral conscience.”
There was truth in this. Really everyone was angry with Anders, but they were starting to understand their current situation and understand Anders’ motivations to a point. The bottom line was that the reckless, dehumanising behaviour of the Triumvirate pushed Anders over the edge and humanity into Anders. There were no good answers, but truth gave some comfort and understanding.
It was only Duck’s memories left to be interrogated. There was little will from judge or jury as they all knew the truth would be terribly unsatisfying. Nonetheless they pressed forward with the clear hateful memories of Zhén hanging nearby.
“And you, Duck, what is your excuse? What is your reason?”
Silence in Anders’ head as they probed for the suitable memories.
“I wanted to do it.”
“That is too simple and too cruel. What was your motivation?”
“I wanted to do it. I only care about me and mine. It was necessary to have the other territories involved, but I simply didn’t care about them either. North America has always been the Greatest of the blocs and I wanted to ensure that continued. If we had made a plan to help those from Europe or Africa, it would have been at our expense. We would have had to let people into our home and this was simply unacceptable on the scale we would have needed. I wanted to. It was the easiest route. I did it and I wouldn’t change my decision even now.”