How We All Got There (Was a Mystery)
Two folios shared space, side by side on the vastness of President Shinra's desk.
Though Shinra did not yet know it, the second folio contained the answer to the first.
Shinra read the first folio with an increasing rage. It was a compilation from the Department of Administrative Research, titled "Reports Documenting the Reactions of Midgar's (Greater) Population to the Monstrous Massacre at Gongaga."
He showed none of his anger on his face, broad and sweating, nor in twitches, stance or surrender. He was ever aware of the two Turks who kept his presence at all times, city spies, administrative researchers, guardians of the establishment. They pained him, these Turks. They had been so useful to begin with, believers in rightful governance; it was to Shinra's growing despair that they believed more in the rightfulness of governance than the right of the governer. He was no despot to contradict them, but day by day their advice came peppered with the full weight of cannonfire, as though rule by committee could ever achieve what Shinra had wrought of his own, singular spine. He did not know what had happened. Of the Young Turks, those associates of his youth, a second generation of public servants had evolved, having lived only and ever under the shadow of Midgar's plate; their loyalties were to the city, not to the man.
Shinra read through his rage:
To the President.
Regarding the Gongaga incident, the public has been willing to accept the comparison between this inglorious episode and our earlier, triumphant struggle for Midgar’s unification, notably as presented in the speech of the resident Shinra Marshal (Heidegger, field promotion, see footnotes for relevant recommendation). The push for globalization is accepted as a necessity against the inglory of a world increasingly hostile to our presence. However, the fact remains that Midgar’s offer of ‘rescue’ to the citizens of Gongaga will result in the influx of some 47000 wounded and 50000 sound-of-body, all 97000 suffering considerable trauma of mind, into the subcity sectors. Despite our own losses during the Gongaga incident, it is vital to inform the press that the majority mass of these Gongaga immigrants will not respond well to the employment of such emotional sentiments as “heroism”, “valor”, “sacrifice and martyrdom”. Such terminology will be regarded as emphasis of their defeat, to rekindle only reminders of the monstrous invasion which necessitated their call for Midgar’s assistance. Furthermore, large segments of Midgar’s native population have been noted as publicly debating whether Midgar’s involvement in world development is inevitable and whether the resultant immense sacrifices are necessary. Our fellow citizens are specifically concerned with the question of whether the threat to Gongaga was at the time promptly recognized. Air reconnaissance should have spotted the vast concentration of monstrous activity then moving against Gongaga. The controlled leaking of reports to the media regarding the apparent ‘appearance’ of the monstrous presence central to the city itself have worsened the matter, increasing uncertainty in the competence of Midgar’s armed forced.
The media has been informed to avoid use of the abovementioned terminology, the concept of “heroism” and “one land: a better land” having been emptied of meaning through prior overuse. With the vastness of this defeat frustrating all good sentiment, it is vital that the Shinra Administration avoid refuge in platitudes.
The question today, it is said, is no longer how far away victory is, but how long Midgar can continue a war of unification while it also must fight against a world that itself seems to be revolting against our very presence.
The so-called reports had long since stopped taking the tone of informative memos. The Turks - his Turks - dictated to their dictator.
Shinra was not stupid: he recognised the true misfortune here was that he had trusted the Turks too wholly. He had trusted them to remove all trace of his authority as anything but a man. The mayors of old had claimed their right to rule through a public vote - but Shinra had trusted his Turks when they said the voices of the uneducated were flawed. The kings and city-princes who had ruled before the mayors once claimed their right to rule as a divine law, descendents from the Cetra themselves - but Shinra had trusted his Turks when they said the outmoded religion could only disqualify Shinra himself from a lawful dominion. Shinra knew the Turks had marketed him as a force for change too thoroughly, they could not oust him, not and retain Midgar's position as the centre of the world. But they wanted to puppet him.
All Shinra needed was autonomy. His administration ruled him now by right of numbers. Shinra needed a source of power all his own. Shinra cleared his throat and closed the first folio. Behind him, one of the Turks shifted his weight from foot to foot, fabric rustling.
The second folio contained a diffidently written proposal from one Professor Gast Faremis, requesting funding for the research of an unlikely Cetran relic.
Continue to Chapter 9 →
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