Part 2 of Shoons.
“Sena-tor,” the newcomer spoke in a growl, his snout twitched involuntarily. The man acknowledged him and he offered the scroll to one of the guards. The two locked eyes as the scroll was passed along to the man. “Attendance.” the man said, and unrolled the paper. His face was expressionless as he read. After a minute, his brow furrowed slightly. “We have a missing member,” he said.
Blank stares looked around, searching for the person who wasn’t there. And then, as if on que, the crowd moved, opening to allow the latecomer. He was tall and lanky, walking quickly, leaning forward, head down, face up. He made his way to the front, where he was met by a couple of men. “I am sorry,” he said, “I was working and the time sped so quickly-“
“Your work,” one of the men said. “Not Estate work.”
“We have a time segment for our personal needs,” the other said.
Senator cleared his throat. “It is tempting to stray, to follow the heart’s passion, to go outside of the program. Yet-“
“But I think I have found a 3% efficiency improvement to our distribution process-“
Senator’s eyes brightened. “Well, then…that is certainly good news. You will share this with the others during Collaboration so we can decide how to proceed with it.”
The man attempted to say something in reply, but was motioned back from the podium into the crowd. “If I could continue my work for a short segment,” he protested, and murmuring began in the crowd. “I have made-“
At this the Senator’s face grew cross. “You didn’t make anything,” he snapped. “It is the program: We work together, and we move forward together.”
He paused and seemed to relax, then continued, “Your work is meaningless in comparison to the bulk of progress from Academia. Furthermore, your tests are unsanctioned and unguided, until reviewed.” He smiled now, and looked across the crowd:
“It is the program that moves us forward. It drags us along, regardless of what we believe as our personal truth. It gives us the ultimate truth. And those who do not accept it will not only be denied the truths, but will face justice for failing in their responsibility to the Estate.”