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The Meeting Chamber was right next to the Central Control Room so Makandal didn’t need to stray too far from familiar surroundings to attend the meeting with the Savants and Temple Engineers.

He casually strolled into the dimly lit Pyramid Shaped Meeting Chamber, where he took a seat and helped himself to a pack of Hydration Liquid from the Conference Table. As he savoured the precious liquid, Jinda, the Chief Savant stepped in, with Timati the Mambo’s representative and Dzimba, the Chief Temple Engineer close behind.

As usual, they all cast a cold demeanour as they took to their tall black plush seats. They had no need for hydration, and seemed eager to start the meeting right away.

Without any pretence of ceremony and a sardonic condescending look coupled with a haughty aristocratic voice, Timati started the meeting.

We’re concerned about the lack of productivity on the Zig Mines as well as the increasing Cognitive resistance to the updated Memes coded into the updated Neural feed. The word from Juluka is that Lord Bindu is NOT pleased.”

Dzimba, always on the defensive, took the latter as a criticism of the Temple Engineers and immediately chimed in.

Well the latest Neural Feed worked perfectly on test subjects, it must be something to do with the new Neural Connection interface.

We’ve followed the implementation Protocols that were given to us by the Engineers to the letter so I very much doubt that”, Makandal coolly responded to Dzimba’s attempt at deflecting criticism. Dzimba had always rubbed him the wrong way. He was an overweight, vicious Technocrat of distant Noble Birth accustomed to privilege all his life.

Typically, Timati chimed in with more aristocratic vituperations.

Well the Neural Connections need to be active so people can get the latest Neural Feed Protocols. Its never been a problem before so this needs to be resolved urgently.”

We’ll work on the Feed update and find out where the problem is so we can fix it”, Dzimba eventually conceded.

I hope so for your own good” was Timati’s idea of an appropriate response.

Finally, Jinda, the Chief Savant broke his silence. Ultimately, the Savants always settled the question.

Look, we don’t want or need excuses with the Neural Feed. We’ve also been getting reports of resistance and rebellion on the Zig Mines, and our Intelligence so far indicates that there are bandits hacking into Neural Implants corrupting them and preventing the installation of Protocol updates all across the Federation.

In light of the seriousness of the situation, I’ve decided that in conjunction with our ongoing Intelligence efforts, Makandal be dispatched to the Zig Mines to Investigate. We’ve arranged a Conference of all the representatives of the Federation Planets on Lamu so they can explain themselves.”

Sounds like a good start if we intend getting to the root of the problem” Makandal confidently replied without displaying his apprehension at this unexpected development.

Any other questions or business?”, Jinda sternly inquired.

Makandal felt like this was his opportunity to raise the isuue of the Elevation applications.

Before we adjourn, I’d like to find out whether the Council Of Savants has made a decision on our Elevation applications?”

Timati let out a cruel snigger.

Not yet….Mmmmmmm that decision has been deferred indefinitely in light of the current problems we’re experiencing with the Neural Feed and Zig Ore Production. Pleasing Juluka Lord Bindu is, and should be everyone’s priority right now. If there’s no other business, our meeting is adjourned, and lets reconvene after the Conference on Lamu.”

Downcast and livid, Makandal was the last to leave the Chamber. He could barely conceal the whirlwind gathering inside him after being told that a decision on the elevation applications had been deferred once again. Maybe Juju was right all along…They’ll never allow ordinary Citizens to become Savants or to get accepted to the Federation Ruling Council!!

He would use the trip to Lamu as an opportunity to investigate activities on the Zig Mines so he could understand what was really going on in the Planets across the entire Kingu Federation.

A Sapphire blue Lamu appeared on the horizon as Juju disengaged the Magnetic Thrusters. A Methane dominated Planet, Lamu glittered in a resplendent glow from the rays of its 3 Suns as they bounced off the Planet’s atmosphere, playing wanton gambols in Space.

Makandal always delighted in the opportunities to visit different Planets and catch a regular glimpse of the Expanse of Space which his job at the Citadel offered. He wondered what souvenirs Lamu had in store.

The anticipation was too much to bear as Juju transmitted the Universal Federation Code to the Lamu Control Tower so they could be cleared for landing.

They were soon given the all clear, and directed to a landing dock. A smooth landing was assured with Juju at the controls. Not only was Juju a fantastic Pilot, but he’d chosen Juju for this particular mission because he needed Juju’s jaded perspective.

After the last meeting with the Savants, he feared he could be a little naive, and Juju would provide the perfect antidote to his unchecked optimism. He was secure in Dimpo’s ability to run things smoothly at Kingu Citadel Station while they were away.

Although Lamu’s gravity was similar to Kingu’s, they still needed Gravity Suits and Breathing masks.

I’ve never really trusted the Lamu, and I suspect they are somehow involved in causing the anomalies. Don’t forget that they were the last to join the Federation, holding out against the Juluka more than any other Federation Planet.”

Juju said coming through on the Comms device breaking the silence with typical skepticism as they prepared to step out of their docked transport Ship. Unlike Kingu which was built mostly in Pyramid Shaped Structures, Lamu’s harsher atmosphere and terrain required the use of enclosed glass dome structures.

We’ll see, lets face it, we can’t really say until we’ve heard from all the gathered Federation representatives”, was Makandal’s terse response. He had to seem objective and unbiased for now, but was glad Juju was on top of his game because he needed that if he was going to arrive at a realistic assessment of the situation.

If you say so Boss”. Juju sarcastically replied as they walked towards Lamu’s main Conference Dome where representatives from all the Kingu Federation States had gathered.

The Juluka were the common yoke and burden shared by all the Planetary representatives gathered for the Conference on Planet Lamu.

I hope you had a pleasant trip. The microwave storms in the Xai Xai belt can be rough around this time of year”, the Lamu Temple Engineer remarked as he ushered them into the Conference Dome.

We sailed through just fine thank you”, Juju replied.

They had no time for pleasantries today, and Makandal was glad Juju had taken the burden of playing nice off him. They were in no mood for small talk. Makandal and Juju immediately took their seats at the long Conference Table.

 

Image credit: Men Of Color in Fantasy Art and Deviant Art.

  

Next Chapter 3: Federation Voices