Meanwhile on Planet Kingu, and on Lord Bindu’s Orders, Lord Bindu, Timati and Jinda had gathered for another separate meeting without Makandal to discuss the anomalies and the investigative mission dispatched to Planet Lamu.
“Look, I don’t think we’ve got anything to worry about. We’ll soon find out if the Federation Planets are up to something once Makandal returns. He’s never failed us.” Timati reassured Lord Bindu and Jinda via an Interstellar connection to Juluka.
“We can’t afford any disruptions with the Zig supply at this stage. The Energy situation on Juluka is critical. Any problems with the Zig supply puts all our plans for our own Planet Juluka and the entire Federation at risk” Lord Bindu interjected.
“The Neural errors are a concern for us as well. Our Immortality depends on our ability to extract Life Force from the Federation Citizens. As you already know, since the inception of the Savant Program, us Savants have been heavily dependant on the people’s Life Force Energy. We agreed to accept synthetic bodies as part of the Savant Program so we would not age, but without the people’s Life Force to animate us we will die.
If a solution is not found we may have to be retired, and without us there’s no-one else to ensure that the Federation Planets properly implement the Juluka Protocols prescribed in the Configuration Templates given to us during the Savant Program when this whole project was started”, Jinda said reminding everyone of what was at stake.
Timati felt compelled to give the impression that the situation was under control.
“I don’t think it will come to that. We’ve made an early intervention and its best to wait on the outcome of Makandal’s report. Meanwhile our Intelligence gathering will continue, we already have a few leads and whoever is behind this wont able to carry on for much longer.”
“Let’s hope so, and I suggest you start working on a cover story for the Federation Citizens in case things spin out of control. The Savant Program remains above Top Secret. We can’t afford a leak”, Lord Bindu cut in with a curt response.
“We’ll keep dangling the prospect of Elevation for as long as we can to motivate our people here, in the meantime lets see what comes out of the Lamu Conference…”
Lord Bindu abruptly terminated the feed as Timati finished his sentence whilst Jinda and Timati exchanged apprehensive glances.
On Planet Lamu representatives from Axum, Kush, Rozvi, Gandor, Kano, Ife, Kumasi, Songhai and Eya comprising all the 10 Federation Planets including Kingu were now gathered.
The Lamu were a Matriarchal society, and so Inoza, the Ningal or “Big Woman” amongst the Lamu began the proceedings.
“We’re most honoured that the Kingu leadership has finally seen it fit to send its
representatives to meet with the Citizens of the Federation Planets, although we’re not sure they are prepared for what we have to say.”
There was an underlying menace in her tone accompanied by murmurs across the room, but Makandal shrugged it off and listened attentively.
“Our people have been suffering at the hands of the Juluka since the establishment of the Federation. As everyone here knows, our Planet was the last to join. We fought to the bitter end because our Ancestors could foresee the misery that awaited their children with the arrival of the Juluka”.
More murmurs, but Makandal did not flinch, edging in even closer as if transfixed.
“They are concerned about the reduced output on the Zig Ore Mines and increased Neural Feed errors, but is anyone here really surprised? What did they expect after countless Mwedzis of Brainwashing, Slavery, Hunger, Poverty, Squalor and Disease amongst the nations of the Federation Planets…Gratitude?”
Inoza continued sarcastically as muffled giggles and nods spread across the room.
“Most of our Ancestral territories were seized after the Juluka discovered Zig Ore in our system, and in vain they have tried to suppress the memory of the Ancestors and teachings of the Metu Neta!
Please bring out the representatives so our esteemed delegates can see and hear for themselves!!”, she continued slipping into a tirade.
To both Makandal and Juju’s surprise, several people from the various Federation Planets were shuffled in. Juju and Makandal instantly realised they’d stepped into an ambush.
The Federation Nations were not there to ‘explain themselves’ as the Kingu leadership had arrogantly assumed, but Makandal was prepared to listen so he could prepare the most accurate report for the benefit of the Kingu leadership. Without any prompting from Makandal, Juju had already begun to record the accounts of suffering reported by the Federation Colony Citizens.
The first complaint was that the Juluka ban on physical coupling was causing marital and general psychological malaise amongst the Federation population because couples could not express their carnal desires since there were not enough virtual intimacy interfaces available for couples on most of the Federation Planets.
Citizens also reported being owed outstanding Credits by the Kingu Central Government which were yet to be deposited and uploaded to their Neural feed.
The regular Neural feed Updates conducted weekly at each Federation Planet’s Main Citadel Temple Complex were reportedly causing insanity on a wide scale especially amongst Children because their minds could no longer cope with the consistent reprogramming.
They were also reports that in order to prolong their own lives, the Savants were draining the Life Force out of Federation children while they were connected to the Citadel Network during Neural Feed updates.
A lot of children were dying unexplained deaths as their bodies were found abandoned and discarded on Citadel Temple Grounds shortly after being disconnected from the Citadel Network. In some cases, children had walked out of Citadel Temple grounds weak and blank-faced only to die at home in the arms of their frantic, desperate mothers.
Forced Zig Mine labour quotas had also been introduced, and in addition Citizens were forced to enlist at least one of their Children to work in the Zig Mines so they could earn enough Federation Credits to scrape through every Mbire Cycle. As a result, a significant number of children from the Federation Cities were not receiving the mandatory education at the Federation Academies.
The working conditions in the Mines were also deplorable, and debilitating injuries were widespread. Moreover, even when most Federation Citizens left the mines without being injured on duty, they suffered from long term health problems related to the poisons and strenuous physical labour they had performed on the Zig mines.
The promised Federation Social Security had not been delivered, so Federation Colony Citizens had no protection if they suffered unemployment, disability or ill-health, and there was no Retirement safety net to talk about. The Federation Cities were also overcrowded and polluted by the waste from the Zig Mines, and the Federation invested little in the maintenance of the Federation Cities.
Crime was also now on the rise in most Federation States due to increasing unemployment and competition for scarce Federation Credits. As if this was not enough, curfews had now been imposed in most major Federation Cities, and the Citizens on the Federation Planets were subject to random periodic arrests, searches and raids from local Citadel Authority Forces.
They had no right to appear before a Federation Tribunal on arrest, and could be detained at will and indefinitely by the Central Government. Juju and Makandal heard stories of Federation Citizens who had been detained for more than 10 Mbire Cycles without Trial before a Federation Tribunal and their whereabouts could not be accounted for by Citadel Authorities.
It was also clear that the Federation Nations simply could not sustain their Citizens on the 10% Wave Energy Quota allocated to them by the Juluka at the Zig Extraction Facilities.
Last but not least, the Federation Citizens reminded Makandal that after so many Mwedzis they did not even have a say on how things were run because only members of the Nobility were entitled to join the Federation Colony’s Ruling Council or to become Savants.
All in all, a grim picture of life on the Federation Federation Planets had been painted, and Makandal tried to stay composed as he listened to the startling revelations.
Somehow Juju had managed to keep a straight face.
In disbelief, Makandal thought of asking the delegates for some proof for some of the allegations but felt that it would only agitate the delegates even more, so he kept the thought to himself.
The Federation Citizens looked pitiful as they struggled to fit into their Gear which looked worn and outdated.
Visible signs of extensive crude home repairs were evident all over their Gear, and it seemed like their Gravity Suits and Atmospheric Masks could breach at any moment.
After the last Federation Citizen gave his testimony, Inoza turned to address Juju and Makandal once again.
“Well I trust you’ve heard it all for yourselves and that you’ll report the truth to your Masters on Kingu. We have nothing further to add, and are giving you our own ultimatum to resolve these problems otherwise we will not be held responsible for the people taking their destiny into their own hands”.
A few moments after Inoza sat down, Makandal stood up to address the delegates, his anxiety veiled by a thin layer of false confidence as he tried to speak with a clear voice.
“Our mission here was to request an explanation from you as to why there had been a decrease in output on the Zig Mines and an increase in Neural Feed errors.
However, even though its not what we came to discuss, we believe the issues you have brought to our attention are of the utmost importance and deserve attention from the Central Government.
At this point, we are not sure whether the Kingu Government is aware of all these concerns you have raised but I beg you for an opportunity to bring it to their attention. Its only then that we can say there has been a failure to act on the part of the Central Government”.
The delegates did not seem pleased with this response, and once again Inoza interceded on their behalf.
“We can’t wait forever, and are only prepared to grant you one Mbire cycle to present our Petition to the Central Government for consideration and action. In the event that you fail, we WILL take our destiny into our own hands!”
“Very well”, Makandal meekly conceded.
“Meeting adjourned”, I will escort you to your transport Inoza asserted, ending the proceedings.
Both Juju and Makandal were relieved. There would be no souvenirs collected on this trip Makandal thought as he walked briskly towards the waiting Ship.