matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,

_Who Counts_ part 2

Ruin took a quick scan of the required reading.

The first report dissected the section about the Millennial Census and redistribution. And went on to a few other sections that might be relevant.

The second report was about the growth of the population since the Nuclear War in, Old Calendar, 1961AD.

Which was appalling, not that she hadn't seen it all before, all through school. "The war and the famines that followed killed two-thirds of the World's population." From a population of over three billion before the war, to a population of barely a billion, by the time all the consequences cascaded around the world.

And a century later, we were back to fighting, as the three main nations grubbed in the ruins for modern tech, especially weapons. Weird to think that we fell so far we thought those old tanks and guns and basic rockets were so amazing. And of course, what everyone really wanted was nuclear bombs.

But I need to concentrate on the populations. We--the Islamic Union--won with the help of the Prophets and their descendants, the Warriors.

Population-wise . . . As the One split out districts, officially, a century after the war was won, each was less than half a million people. Well, except for the ones with large cities. Sometimes they split them, like Paris was split eight ways. And sometimes they didn't, and assumed the low populations Districts would attract people.

The third report looked like it was something about whether the 1420 Census should consider "Suburb Worlds" as Colonies or as part of the metropolis it connected to. And how to deal with small population "Evac Worlds," "Hub Worlds in use," and "Uncolonized Claimed Worlds."

"Eep, it's like home work!" Ruin slapped a hand across her mouth at a masculine chuckle from the far side of the partition.

"Hopefully it won't be this tedious for too long, else I'll be looking for an escape route."

At least he wasn't angry or anything.

"Fortunately it's close to lunch time. Skim for another half an hour, then I'll give you guys a tour of the neighborhood and then take you out for lunch." Ice raised his voice, "Yes, even you Ministry Wonks, not that you need a tour, you could meet us at the Mayan Temple in half an hour, if your prefer. And Pook? You're new to the neighborhood, right? So you come, too."

Ruin braced herself and looked back at the files . . . "Rough census and estimated Council representatives under various scenarios" . . . Oh that doesn't sound a bit dry . . . but it's a small file . . . She opened it, three pages and a chart of how many council seats each district would have under various . . . "Whoa, Dune could get a second Council Rep?"

Fayt rolled her chair over . . . "Of course, they'd just split Sahara down the middle and you oasis farmers would still get ignored."

Ruin eyed the chart. "Sahara's barely over two million people. If we could corral them into a district and then have all the outlying areas and oasis settlements as another . . ."

Ozmo stuck his nose around the corner. "So are you one of the old colonists families?"

"No, my mom moved there before I was born. She won't talk about why, but she went as far away as she could get and started building a home. I still get told about how she was just finishing the wiring when she went into labor, and came home three days later to start on the plumbing. And I was walking before the house completely finished."

"Oooo! Must have been a good divorce settlement!"

"Well, it was small house, designed to be added on to, and they gave the land to anyone who'd come." Ruin cleared her throat. "And there were sixteen bachelors in a town of a hundred and fifty, very eager to help a single woman, no matter that she was pregnant. Mom married the youngest of them. Who was pushing a hundred."

"So you definitely want a say in the districting. Redistricting." Ice looked around the corner. "And that's going to be an issue we keep hitting, as the ramifications start hitting home. So . . . how about a tour?"

Which created a rush on the only bathroom in the office, but they eventually all gathered out on the balcony and Ice locked up. "And yes, this afternoon I'll get bunch of keys made, so you can adjust your hours to what works for you."

Fayt giggled. "So we can sleep off our hangovers every Monday morning?"

Ice shook his head. "I'd recommend minimizing the drinking and bar hopping unless you're with a trusted man, or several."

Fayt grinned, looking way too much like Granny. "Not you?"

"Nope. I'll be home with my family." The look he was giving Fayt was definitely disapproving.

Ruin hastily diverted the conversation, "How many children do you have?"

The Boss looked relieved. "Two and we're expecting twins in another four months."

"Only counting two of your twenty strays?"

Ruin looked over her shoulder to see who was talking. "Yeep!"


She backpedaled hastily.

Fayt screamed and ran.

Her boss sighed. "Bob, I'd feel sorry for you if I didn't suspect you enjoyed shocking people."

"Sorry, Ice. This time it was accidental."

"Uh huh. Ruin . . ." He turned his head and raised his voice. "Fayt? This is Bob, formally Bogdan Egorov, and registered as Bawb Clostuone. He is, as you see, a Cyborg who has escaped from the DMB.

'"Behind him is Rafail Rudolph Zarkov, registered as Raif Clostuone. Also an escapee. They are both here to be interviewed by the Drei Mächte Bündnis Task Force."

"Oh." Ruin swallowed. "How do you do?"

The Cyborg grinned. "Very well, thank you. I suppose I should warn you that working for Ice can be very . . . educational. Ice, himself, thinks it's normal, and never warns anyone."

"This summer is going to be peaceful and quiet. Um, Bob, Raif, this is Ruin Withione Dune, and somewhere down the hall, Fayt Withione New York. Oh, I see she ran straight into Whisper, who is probably helping her not fall, but he seems happy to do it."

Whisper and Fayt both blushed.

I didn't think she could!

The other guy limped forward. Apart from the limp he seemed normal, light brown hair and blue eyes, average height and build. "Hi. Umm, interns? Sorry, this is all new to me."

Ruin swallowed. A Foreigner. He'll need details. "I'm, we're, going to the School of Directorate Studies, at the University of the Empire in New York. We're training to work in one of the Directorates, and part of the training is to work for several weeks in two different Directorates."

"Really? That sounds awfully practical."

Fayt crept up behind her and craned her neck to eye the pair. "Did you say twenty? Cyborgs?"

The Cyborg shrugged. "I think that's the final total. But only four of us are Cyborged. And only two of us are underage and in need of adoption. And most of us are staying on Embassy and our World."

"Uh, I thought the Cyborgs had over a thousand worlds?"

Raif nodded. "Yeah, but this is an Empty World Gior found when we all escaped. It's ours. Not a part of the Triple Alliance Empire."

Ruin perked up. Research report opportunity! "You don't call it the Drei Mächte Bündnis?"

"That's German. I'm from one of the Russian Families. It's Troystvennyy soyuz for us. And the Japanese families say uh . . . Tori puru araian su . . . Sorry, I'm sure I'm utterly hashing the pronunciation, quite apart from it all being one word."

"But you all act together?"

"Well . . . the original hundred families each send a representative to the Duma, well, the Council, I suppose you'd say. Sorry, I'm pretty new to English. And then the three hundred hands down edits to all the worlds."

The Cyborg snickered. "And we sort of follow them."

"Fill out the right forms, as if we did, at any rate." Raif grinned. "And send tribute. Some money, but, I mean, they make the money. We send food, metals, petroleum, all sorts of manufactured goods. God only knows what they do with it all."

The Cyborg elbowed him.

"Oh, right. One only knows."

"Wow!" They sound like . . . people.


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