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2206 : Window Onto A New World Book I in The Threshold

Chapter IX Careful With That Axe, Eugene

By

Christopher Stewart ★ Bookcast Edition – April 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Christopher Stewart

★ All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

★ Bookcast Edition - April 2012

★ This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Chapter IX

Careful With That Axe, Eugene

« I've been worrying about Ricky lately. What if his staff is right and he has AD ? It wouldn't be surprising given his drinking. He hasn't been the same after Helen has been diagnosed with cancer. Remarrying would do him a power of good, but he doesn't seem in a hurry to find someone. I'm greatly concerned for him... » – Excerpted from Chloe Ramsay Nowak's diary entry for 74.4.2206

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IX. Careful With That Axe, Eugene

R

ichard Ramsay had once more successfully escaped the tediously overarching protocol

that accompanied his functions as leader of the Federation, but only thanks to the cooperation of Peter Conrad. Aboard an unmarked vehicle driven by his always reliable assistant, the Chancellor, attired in an almost military fashion that made him look like a Milagenian extremist, albeit one of the smaller-sized, could freely wander in the streets of Triton Aeolus without fear of being recognized. And he was too well aware that many would have loved to recognize him in such circumstances. Not that he really felt threatened by his numerous political opponents, or his personal enemies, and nor was he apprehensive of meeting inquisitorial journalists accidentally. Rather, he was worried by the hordes of Ovelians who despised the arrogant, despotic attitude with which he and his Conservative cohorts had governed the planet during the recent terms, as if the whole globe had been theirs. – – –

« Drop me off here » commanded the veteran representative. « Ahem... » reacted the tricenarian, « there's still quite a way to – » « I know where we are, Peter » rudely interrupted the thin elder, « I grew up around here, remember ? » he pointed out curtly, « the drizzle has stopped, and it's been way too long since I've taken a walk » he then declared, peering at the grey, cloudy sky. « As you wish, sir » yieldingly responded the chauffeur.

The attendant had learned over the short period he had been working for the stubborn man that there wasn't much use in trying to make him see reason once he had set his mind on something. He had also discovered that his illustrious employer sometimes needed to vanish without telling him of his whereabouts, and that he was expected to accept it obediently, and handle it dutifully. Thus, at the first chance, he slowed down and parked near the sidewalk, and the passenger quickly exited the transport.

« Would you like my umbrella, sir ? » politely offered the young helper, leaning towards the window so he could catch sight of the expression of his interlocutor. « I don't think it'll rain again today » remarked the aging federalist, standing on the wet concrete and gazing skywards to get a sense of the upcoming weather, « you can take the next two hours off » he announced coldly, « I'll call you to let you know where to pick me up » he finally informed Conrad, glancing at him as he closed the door, before promptly heading away. « Yes sir ! Thanks sir ! » respectfully acknowledged the assistant as he watched the other swiftly disappear into the busy crowd of pedestrians, in the heart of the capital city, { at least he's not angry } he mused in contentment while he waited for a gap in the traffic to

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depart, ruminating on the manner he had been treated. Having witnessed his fury on countless occasions over the course of his tenure as his personal attendant, the tricenarian could appreciate whenever the notable was simply being the authoritarian, laconic, and distant official he usually was, at least around him. After all, the Chancellor had never really behaved as a paragon of courtesy, except perhaps at some formal events. Ramsay had always thought that men of his stature had way more pressing affairs to concern themselves with than how their entourage felt about them. Sparing apparatchiks from his temper had never seemed a much relevant factor in his conception of what successful leadership should be. Still, although his numerous victories should have confirmed his views beyond any doubt, he couldn't but notice that, of late, he had frequently been pondering the matter. Not that reflection time was an abundant commodity in the life of the veteran representative, and less so during electoral campaigns, or so he reckoned. The slightest opportunity to break away from the political psychosis and to experience a moment of mental freedom, even when it was very relative, undercover, and probably tightly surveilled freedom, was a much welcome balm soothing a much burning wound. Manifestly, the megapolis had become one of extremes. In downtown Triton Aeolus, where he had been dropped off, which was far from being one of the disadvantaged neighbourhoods of the vast urban area, the disguised ruler had gone from a place of ostentatious wealth to one of abject poverty just by crossing a few streets. And so, only minutes after having parted ways with his trustworthy helper, he was rid of the hustle and bustle of the boulevard and surrounded by the raw, desolate, yet peaceful landscape so common to those who had to live in the daily company of scarcity. Regardless of grey clouds and bleak environment, behind his shades, his eyes were bright, and underneath his long, black leather raincoat, his heart was light. He was savouring each instant of the quiet time as he trod the drying sidewalks, once in a while using his cane to steady himself as he would step on an uneven slab of derelict pavement. –

– –

« Got some spare change, old man ? » asked a dishevelled middle-aged man who suddenly jumped about three meters in front of the federalist from behind a tall dilapidated wooden fence, wielding an axe and presenting his open left hand. « How much do you need ? » answered the startled politician, as calmly as he could under the circumstances, after a second of confusion. « Oh ! What have we got here ? » surprisingly replied the brawny mugger, « a man from Milagenia ! How ironic ! » he went on, fooled by the leather garment that the other wore, and mistaking his forest green military beret for the typical headgear of the armed faction of the independent nation, « I was born in Coraden myself » he commented, referring to one of the largest cities of the sovereign country, « but my parents decided to move here

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on the promises of riches untold ! » he exclaimed in a cynical manner. « I guess things didn't turn out as planned » daringly yet sedately remarked the chief of the Conservatives following another brief pause, attempting to appear as unfazed as he possibly could, sensing that the imposing thief might be quite a few cards short of a full deck, { maybe if I can make him talk, somebody will pass by and he'll run } he thought as he quickly scanned the location. « Didn't turn out as planned ? » repeated the robber in an aggressive tone, « you really want to know what happened ? I'll tell you what happened ! » he declared, eager to share his tale, « we used to have our farm » he gravely began his account, « we were living in peace, happy, minding our own business, and then – » the attacker stopped, looking down pensively, before grabbing the weapon with both hands, « then those corrupted bastards from the Federation changed everything ! » he resumed, enraged, « thanks to them and their so-called expertise of the Ovelian ecology, the weather is so messed up that nothing grows on our lands anymore ! » he passionately explained, « my parents had to witness their life dream wither and die before their very eyes » the delinquent related, obviously regretful, « and when they asked for help, the banks all said no way, because our desert lands, they ain't worth a damn now ! » he raved on as he brandished the sharp tool, « and because, you know, when the going gets tough, the Conservatives and their little friends the bankers only save one another's butts while we end up paying for their monumental failure ! » he shouted in an emotional voice. « And how did you end up in Triton Aeolus, ahem... what's your name ? » considerately queried the Chancellor, carrying on the delaying strategy, trying not to give way to fear, and despite the stressful situation, feeling deeply grateful for the fact that his assailant had manifestly not the faintest idea who he was talking to. « My name is Eugene » readily responded the brigand, his expression changing from fury to melancholy, « my father hanged himself in the barn » he revealed after a moment, « so my mother and I moved here hoping to find a job and a place to stay » he mentioned as he relaxed and rested the head of his chopper on the sidewalk, « but we haven't found any » the bandit pointed out wistfully, « there's way too many people, I never really knew what overpopulation meant until we got here » he stated in astonishment, « well, my mother was lucky enough to find a place in a shelter for the elderly homeless after a few weeks of sleeping rough » he noted, smiling for an instant, « and I... I do what I have to » he lastly confessed, sternly, yet visibly ashamed of himself. « But where do you sleep ? » wondered Ramsay, somewhat relieved by the middle-aged man's embarrassment, and once more glancing discreetly at the surroundings, hoping to see someone who would help him out. « Wherever I can ! » answered the vagrant, chuckling disturbingly, « outside, most of the time... I spend most of my life outside, you know ? » he continued as frustration slowly reclaimed the place that grief had temporarily taken, « even when it rains like today... and I'm lucky I have these good boots » he immediately emphasized, grinning as he stared at

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his footwear, and then at the black combat boots of his interrogator, « because I can walk in the rain and not get my feet so wet they end up all wrinkled with the skin peeling off » the mugger observed, « and you know what else ? » he told the military-looking elder as he lifted the axe up and rested it on his shoulder, « whenever it rains, I have to walk most of the time too, and you know why ? » he went on as wrath further rose in him, « because our good government doesn't like to have us homeless people around their beautiful cities, and the few places around here where we can sit outside, under a roof to shelter us from the rain, they're all patrolled by policemen or security agents, and when the rain stops, the benches take forever to dry up ! » he tempestuously decried, again waving the weapon in his right hand as he gestured with the other. This time, the veteran statesman remained speechless, troubled and saddened by the account of his robber as he attempted to imagine what his life could be like. { Nobody has walked by yet } he then reflected, afraid that no one would dare approach the intimidating arm-wielding delinquent. As he did, he recognized that the distracted man who had been interrupted in his assault by the enquiry of his victim was now recalling the motives he had seemingly been oblivious to just a second ago, as if his own tale had suddenly brought them back into view.

– – – – – –

« Okay ! Hurry old man, I haven't got all day ! » the attacker commanded angrily, putting both his hands on the handle of the edge tool, « and take off those shades ! I can't see your eyes and I don't like it ! » he instructed sharply. « I... I can't... I... » the aging ruler stammered, « I have to protect my eyes from daylight » he lied, scared of being discovered. « Argh... okay... » grumbled the assailant, « hurry up ! » he repeated forcefully. « How much do you need, Hubert ? » nervously reiterated the septuagenarian, growingly fearful. « It's Eugene ! » corrected the muscular thug, « as much as you got ! » he loudly laughed. « I never have cash on me » declared the politician, « I can transfer you some » he added right away as he reached inside his raincoat. « Careful now ! » exclaimed the tall thief, his strong voice freezing the world leader in his motion, « no tricks or you'll know what being a tree feels like ! » he threatened, raising the chopper higher in the air, as if he were about to swing it down. « Okay... okay » anxiously uttered the federalist as he promptly took a step back, slightly bending down as he turned to the side, lifting his right arm in front of him for protection, « I'm just getting my uDev so I can transfer you some money » he justified with difficulty, as if winded by the unanticipated move of his interlocutor, « don't do anything stupid, and you'll get what you want » he boldly suggested. « Okay » worriedly responded the imposing drifter, « but don't do anything stupid either old man, or you'll get to know the feeling of my axe in your skull » he warned, tensing his arms as if he were getting ready to strike.

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« There... I'm just getting my handheld » weakly assured the disguised Chancellor after cautiously straightening back up, partially unzipping his outer garment before inserting his right hand underneath the black leather, attentively watching his aggressor, « if you have yours we can do this very easily » he noted naively. « Sure ! And then you'll very easily identify me ! » the brawny vagabond retorted with a chortle, « what do you think ? That I was born yesterday ? » he shouted at the thin elder. « Sorry, I don't get mugged that often » reflexively commented Ramsay, withdrawing his hand from under his coat upon hearing the menacing words. « Hey, good one old man ! » chuckled the dishevelled brigand, clearly finding the apology quite humorous, « you know what ? » he continued after a brief moment, « I don't have a device » he announced, smiling wryly, « I gave it up in exchange for those boots... the best deal I got in a long while ! » the bandit observed, once more looking down at his footwear, « tell you what » he carried on following a short pause, resting his weapon on his right shoulder, « get your gizmo, go to your bank account, and throw me the thing » he ordered in a serious, authoritative manner. « Okay, okay » assented the First Citizen of Ovel, somewhat more confidently, apparently encouraged by the effect of his unintentionally funny remark, « let's do that » he agreed as he fished once again inside his pocket, « I won't try anything stupid, but please don't hurt me » he implored as he grabbed the uDev and showed it to the homeless robber who gestured a single affirmative nod in acknowledgement, « access personal bank account » the veteran Conservative instructed the gadget which soon emitted its distinctive sound as it performed the operation, « okay... now it has to scan my fingerprint » he explained as he lifted the index of his left hand, that still held his walking cane, and again, the mugger, familiar with the routine, quickly bowed his head in approval, « okay... I'm accessing the account » declared the statesman, pressing his finger on the tiny screen until the expected notification, « okay... now I can throw it to you » he went on nervously as he replaced his arm to his side to steady himself on his staff.

Wielding the sharp tool in one hand, the muscular attacker extended his left arm in front of him, eager to catch the coveted object. He stared at the elected official who slowly motioned back and forth twice with his right arm to indicate how he would proceed, finally flipping his communicator to the keen delinquent. And as soon as the thug closed his hand over it, he felt a strong electrical surge travel up his arm and run through his whole body. He collapsed down onto the pavement, groaning, utterly paralysed by the discharge. { Be damned old man ! I'll get you for this ! } he last thought as he fainted. « Mine can do that too ! » laughed the aging world leader as he approached the assailant, before lambasting him hatefully, clutching his cane with both hands and swinging at the stunned man many times.

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Waiting for the handheld to silence its warning tone, the Chancellor eventually picked it up, using his staff to stabilize himself as he bent down and straightened back up. He remembered that, at the second it had knocked out the imposing drifter, the intelligent device had sent an alert, including identification and localization data, to his assistant as well as to the governmental security services. And so he rushed away as swiftly as an a out of shape cane-needing septuagenarian could, knowing that he would probably have to justify his whereabouts if he stood around for too long. « Message Peter Conrad » the federalist commanded, bringing the uDev near his mouth as he hastened away at a good pace, « I'm okay, no need to worry » he began in the calmest voice he could muster, « I haven't been attacked » he lied with a contrived chuckle, « I... I just thought I was about to be... and I mishandled the thing » he clumsily masqueraded, pausing for an instant as he decided on what to say next, « ahem... call security and tell them it was a false alarm » he concluded, immediately mailing the recording. Ramsay just couldn't divulge where he was going and why he was escaping his duties. Indeed, only two persons knew about his short absence, and the only reason why they had been advised was that there had simply been no better alternative. So, in order to preserve the secrecy surrounding his temporary leave, he had to keep on advancing as fast as he possibly could towards his destination, and away from that most unanticipated and bewildering encounter, that had shaken him on a much more profound level that he had been aware of at the time of its occurrence. Over the years, the veteran representative had heard many reports, read many critiques, and seen number of documentaries about the purported perverse effects of the consecutive Conservative regimes, and of his rule in particular, on the general state of the union. In fact, some of his political manoeuvres had attracted so many such derogatory reactions that at some point he had stopped to acknowledge them altogether. It had seemed much easier to believe that they were the inventions of biased, ill-intended enemies. He had instead preferred to rely solely on his own sources. What could his adversaries understand of the constraints he was under anyway ? And who truly knew but him by whom he was held accountable ? All that mass of disapproving information, regardless of how brilliantly some of it had been devised, had never really moved the statesman. Of course, he had doubted, especially around every transition, every time he had climbed a further step towards the Chancellery, every time he had been assigned more important functions. But never before had he genuinely felt what the persistent critics meant, how some of his choices translated into the experiences of the unfortunate people who had to handle the consequences, and suffer the outcomes. One brief skirmish with a dishevelled, indignant, axe-wielding delinquent had successfully shifted what ages of clashing disparagement had, at best, strengthened. It was as if a dam had suddenly burst open. Excerpts of telling writings and echoes of harsh or accusing words were flooding his mind. The thin elder had to withstand the onslaught of all he had learned to downplay as exaggerated partisan opposition. { What if they're right ? } he thought in dismay, { perhaps their complaints have been founded all along ? Perhaps our politics actually sustain The Threshold

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the financial crisis ? Could I have done something against overpopulation ? What if the climate change isn't merely an imaginative fiction of the environmentalists ? Was it necessary to resort to the creation of artificial states to protect our majority ? Was I really in danger of destitution ? } he wondered in shock. The scary ordeal had pierced another breach in the bunker, it had removed another brick in the wall, it had dug out another channel for turmoil to get in. Luckily, the balding world leader had recently found his way to deal with turmoil. All things considered, the upsetting questions were only more answers. The troubling disturbances were only more motivations to hurry ahead. If there were one matter he could ponder in peace, one oh-so-soothing zone of relief, one area where only a few minor issues threatened balance, that was definitely the future he was preparing for himself. « Call Bruno Gray... stealth mode » the notable instructed the gadget he still carried in his right hand, peering around to figure out how deeply into the desolate neighbourhood his musings had taken him. The elected official wasn't certain he recognized the district which had obviously undergone many modifications since the last time he had set foot in it. He halted, tucked his cane under his left arm, and momentarily took the universal device in his left hand. He fished in the inside pocket of his raincoat with the right, this time aiming for a miniaturized headset. He was strongly tempted to grab his flask of scotch, but in light of where he was going, he ultimately resisted. – –

– – –

« Good morning Mister Chancellor ! » the voice of the president of the CSS sounded after the few seconds it took for him to accept the videoless communication. « Hello Bruno » mechanically greeted the politician, struggling to position the tiny object on his right ear, « sorry I couldn't take your call earlier on » he apologized as he finally inserted the earphone, « we were having a strategic meeting » he justified, resuming his progress as he muted his uDev put it back inside his garment. « I can only imagine how exacting your life must be these days, Richard ! » exclaimed the public worker, manifestly in a good mood, and slightly surprised at how his own remark had come out. « You have no idea ! » the federalist confirmed with amusement, { if only you knew ! } he reflected, recalling the attack as his interlocutor let out a chuckle. « Well, I used to » retorted Gray, « but then I was hired in the civil service ! » he joked, apparently deeming the line very funny. « Listen, I'm in a hurry right now, can we get to the point ? » Ramsay abruptly demanded after a chortle, « you had something you wanted to discuss with me ? » he immediately inquired. « Oh... yes, sure ! » replied the quinquagenarian, recollecting his thoughts, embarrassed at his own lack of seriousness given who he was talking to, « okay... first, I submitted your generous offer to the discretion of our advisory board » he announced in a more solemn

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fashion, « and I'm happy to report that their recommendation has been unanimous » he told the veteran Conservative. « Positive I assume ? » queried the military-looking statesman, wanting the agreement to be guaranteed beyond any doubt. « Positive indeed Richard ! » emphatically ensured the functionary, « they all were very enthusiastic about the possibilities your collaboration opens up for our organization » he noted in a friendly, optimistic manner. « Great, great » responded the elder, « you don't know how glad I am of hearing that this morning ! » he pointed out with evident, genuine joy, « is there anything I can do for you right now ? » he asked following a short silence, stopping at a street corner. « Yes, indeed there is » answered the bureaucrat, « that was the main reason for my call, in fact » he explained, pausing briefly to consider how to formulate his request, « as you know, the arm of the Syndicate can have a very long reach » he continued in his habitual formal tone, « however, there are still some of the farther regions of the Federation where it doesn't extend to... yet » he first hinted.

Preoccupied as he crossed the avenue, the world leader remained quiet, so the public worker carried on his preamble.

– – –

– –

« We have learned that the Global Space Agency is getting ready to deploy a permanent observation mission on Veshtar, in order to monitor and investigate the – » the president of the Syndicate revealed, halting to search for the correct word. « The discontinuation » tentatively completed the politician. « The discontinuity, yes » the civil servant remembered. « You are well informed, Bruno » complimented the elected official, surprised but mostly concerned, his respect towards the efficiency of the underground organization increasing, « this is something we have approved only a few days ago, and talked over again just this morning » he disclosed, reflexively attempting to figure out who could have leaked the decision. « Yes... we can indeed be very well informed when there's a need » proudly boasted the quinquagenarian. « I have to admit I'm impressed » confided the aging federalist, in a blend of sincerity and flattery, « so you'd like to have a man on Veshtar, is that it ? » he guessed after a moment, raising his right hand to replace the headset, the earbud having slightly moved out of his ear, as he walked onward to his appointment. « Ahem... it's a little more complicated than that, I'm afraid » Gray declared in a warmer voice, « we already have... people... over there » he announced cryptically, unwilling to expose too much at the early stage of their relationship, « but we don't know for sure if... they can be of use, not yet anyway » he went on, intentionally vague, « we'd like to have someone in a position of authority » he finally remarked.

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« Okay... » Ramsay chuckled, « I'd like to help, but you're gonna have to tell me more » he promptly added, not quite understanding what was required of him. « Of course, ahem... » acquiesced the bureaucrat, hesitating as if he was not yet settled on whether to proceed or not, « we suspect that Bernard Sturn has joined the Community » he bluntly stated following some deliberation. « What ? » exclaimed the Chancellor, « the Bernard Sturn ? » he almost shouted in shock. « Yes » sedately confirmed the functionary, « the well-known scientist » he emphasized for clarity. « No, that can't be » the statesman reacted, manifestly incredulous, « he's one of our most prestigious researchers ! » he stressed, aghast, « he's one of our scientific advisers ! » he rejected resolutely, having difficulty to imagine how the physicist could be interested in such unscientific activities, even less be part of a religious order. « Yes, we know, obviously » assured the president of the Syndicate, « we – » « Are you sure of what you insinuate, Bruno ? » the veteran representative interrupted with insistence. « We have a very strong suspicion » the public worker slowly asserted after a brief while, pausing again for an instant as he prepared himself for further revelations, « we know he is a long time acolyte of the woman who goes by the name of Mistress Aeira, the celebrity astrologer » he solemnly submitted, « and it's a well-known fact that she's one of them » he maintained, eschewing his kindlier tone in favour of his more self-important attitude. « Of course ! » at once responded the world leader, struggling to stay calm, « even I knew they're friends » he mentioned, somewhat derisively, « that doesn't mean he's with them » he objected with conviction, « my own sisters don't vote Conservative ! » he commented sarcastically, chortling loudly. « As a matter of fact » the civil servant imperturbably carried on, « we have approached Sturn on several occasions during the last year » he candidly shared, « and although he systematically refuses to cooperate, not once has he denied being part of the order » he offered, thinking as he did that the argument might not be sufficient for the other to alter his stance and allow for the possibility. « He's just putting you on ! » immediately retorted the legendary politician, passionately skeptical, « you know the reputation your fellowship has throughout the Federation ! » he clumsily suggested. « Well... ahem... » mumbled the quinquagenarian, insulted, « this is the information we have, and with your collaboration we would like to act on it » he declared coldly, in his more stuffy voice. « Oh ! » uttered the First Citizen of Ovel, recognizing the faux pas he had just committed, « I'm sorry Bruno » he sincerely apologized, « tell me what I can do » he sympathetically continued, hoping to redeem his gaffe. « Well... » began the bureaucrat following a tense, bitter silence, « as I said, we probably

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already have a way to keep an eye on him, but we'd like to have a way to force him into helping us » he announced at last. « And how can I assist you with that ? » inquired the federalist right away. « We'd like to have one of our people as his superior » answered the functionary. « Ah... I'm afraid that's not something I'm in a position to do » Ramsay reacted, concerned, « you see, that's not how it works, I can't replace a high ranking official just like that... not without a very solid justification... not now » he explained, resolute but audibly uneasy. « We know Richard, we know » Gray quickly replied, « but don't worry, that's not what we're expecting of you » he reassured his interlocutor, « you can't replace, but you can promote » he went on cryptically. « What do you mean, promote ? » wondered the perplexed statesman. « What if you – » commenced the public worker, stopping to select a proper formulation, « strongly recommended that someone above him be given the responsibility of directing the observation mission » he proposed cautiously, « the one you'll create to study the – » « The discontinuity » completed the head of the Global Government. « The discontinuity, yes » confirmed the president of the CSS. « Ahem... yes » reluctantly yielded the ruler, « that would be acceptable » he remarked, progressively opening himself up to the idea, « but – » « Then we could arrange for our... colleague... to take the vacant position » interrupted the civil servant. « Ahem... » sounded the Chancellor, « let me see... » he requested after a moment, « I... I believe it could work, but – » « Our people will take care of all the paperwork » the quinquagenarian maintained, « we only require your signature » he confidently stated. « Alright then » consented the world leader following another short pause, « so I assume you already know who are the people involved ? » he hazarded, curious to discover if he could unearth more of the secret plans. « Yes, we already do » tersely asserted the bureaucrat, manifestly unwilling to give any further details. « Alright then » repeated the veteran politician, somewhat bothered by the reticence of his partner, yet mainly relieved that their first attempt at cooperating had gone generally well, « ahem... anything else ? » he eventually offered, following a longer than anticipated break in the conversation. « Not for now » declined the functionary, « I'll contact you when the papers are ready » he promised his new found associate. « Works for me, Bruno ! » cheerfully approved the military-looking elder. « Excellent, Richard ! » Gray reciprocated, « I believe our collaboration will turn out to be most fruitful » he commented optimistically. « I'm very glad to hear that ! » the experienced representative reacted, peering ahead and

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recognizing his sister Chloe waving at him from afar, standing on the sidewalk in front of her apartment, « and I believe you're right » he chuckled as he echoed her gesture, « listen Bruno, I really have to leave you now, I – » « Of course, of course, Richard » assured the public worker, « no doubt you have pressing matters to attend to » he immediately noted, « thanks for everything » he acknowledged, undeniably appreciative, « I'll call you in a day or two » he concluded in a friendly tone. « Great ! Thanks ! » Ramsay added as the civil servant ended the communication, « take my calls » he promptly commanded the handheld still sitting in his raincoat before taking the headset off his right ear and putting it back where he had first taken it, removing his shades and placing them in another pocket, and finally zipping up the leather garment as he kept on walking towards the woman. « Hello ! » musically shouted the thin lady of average height, waving again and grinning widely as the federalist got nearer, visibly very happy that her brother was visiting her. « Hello ! » greeted the statesman in a raised voice as he advanced, also obviously enjoying the reunion, « you still haven't moved out of this place » he playfully derided, glancing at the shabby building with an exaggerated expression of disdain. « Why, no ! » exclaimed the pixie-cut grey haired nurse, gazing to her side at the facade of the small edifice, « you know how much I like it around here ! » she mentioned, peaceful. « Hello Chlo » warmly reiterated the chief of the Conservatives as he reached his sister, hugging her as she turned back to him. « Hello Ricky » the confidante replied as they kissed each other on the cheeks. « You know, Eugene left you more than enough to find yourself a far better place to live » the head of the Global Government went on, smiling lovingly at his favourite sibling. « Eugene ? » uttered the perplexed sexagenarian, « who's Eugene ? » she asked, frowning, { that could be a sign... he's never been good with names though } she quickly dismissed. « Oh... sorry... I meant ahem... » the embarrassed Chancellor mumbled, « Warren ! » he recalled after some hesitation, « Warren left you plenty ! » he repeated, seeming unfazed. « Ah... yes, I know » the dignified woman admitted, averting the eyes of her interlocutor briefly, slightly irritated by the intrusive remark, « he left me with more than I could ever spend ! » she declared in jest, « I'm at peace here though, in the old neighbourhood » she shared, looking at the surroundings that reminded her of her youth, « that's why I moved back here when he died » she lastly observed, manifestly serene. « The old neighbourhood is not safe anymore » knowingly warned the world leader. « So they say » the benevolent lady responded, « but nothing bad ever happened to me » she pointed out, approaching the fence bordering the property, « knock... on... wood » she rhythmically sounded in a carefree manner, hitting one of the posts three times with the knuckles of her left hand. « You're a long way from everything ! » persisted the decider, more for the fun of teasing his relative than in an attempt to convince her.

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IX. Careful With That Axe, Eugene

« No I'm not ! » objected the nurse, « the health center is only a few minutes away » she carried on, indicating its direction, « they take me wherever they need me to stand in and bring me back here afterwards » she explained as she faced her brother. « If you say so » simply conceded the military-looking man, « shouldn't we be going ? » he suggested as it occurred to him that they might be running short on time. « Indeed we should ! » cheerfully concurred the sexagenarian, glad to change the subject, as the duo started to stroll towards the community clinic, « you're late » she commented after a moment, « I was worried for a while » she confided pensively. « Yes, sorry » readily apologized the veteran ruler, « we had a meeting this morning » he continued right away, « we finished later than planned » he justified, not bringing up the attack he had fended off earlier as he didn't want to trouble his sister unduly. « You look like a retired Milagenian soldier » the generous woman noted following some more tranquil walking. « Pretty realistic, huh ? » the politician proudly agreed. « I could have been waving at an extremist ! » the lady submitted half-jokingly. « Maybe he would have swept you off your feet » proposed the amused Chancellor. « Maybe » the nurse acquiesced, surprised, « anyway, with your shades on, no one will even begin to suspect it might be you » she resolutely assured. « You really think so ? » at once queried the statesman, somewhat anxious, but except for an undecipherable tender glance, his question remained unanswered. « What are you going to do ? » gravely inquired the sexagenarian after some while. « What ? » wondered the experienced representative, staring nervously at his sibling. « You've seen the polls » the woman mentioned, gazing at her brother as he turned away, « the Coalition is ahead now » she stressed in a concerned tone. « They have shot themselves in the foot with their announcement » Ramsay immediately asserted, « just this morning, our Chief Scientific Adviser has recommended that we wait until further investigation before making any official declarations » he maintained, dead serious, « it's too soon to be devising colonization plans ! » he insisted in a raising voice. « It's audacious » calmly remarked the lady. « You mean downright irresponsible ! » retorted the steamed federalist, « we know next to nothing about this... wormhole... thing » he reasoned, very much preoccupied with the issue, « who knows what can happen in there ? » he exclaimed, appearing worried. « People seem to like the idea » the nurse offered gently, looking down in front of her to avoid the eyes of the irritated man. « Yes, well, just see what happens once we show them how early it is and how hazardous the plans of the Coalition really are ! » the world leader angrily responded. « What will you tell them ? » asked the sexagenarian, sounding apprehensive, aware of the dubious methods the Conservatives often resorted to in electoral times.

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2206 : Window Onto A New World

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IX. Careful With That Axe, Eugene

« We will tell them exactly what I've just told you » firmly stated the First Citizen of Ovel, still annoyed, « that's it too soon to make plans » he reiterated with conviction, « and that nobody knows what can happen on the other side » he emphasized authoritatively, « they want to move our space stations over there, can you imagine ? » the decider pointed out, clearly overwhelmed by the eventuality, « who could come up with such a crazy idea ? » he lastly derided, letting out a burst of laughter. « I suppose they have their advisers too » stoically observed the dignified woman, pausing as she considered the possibility of moving settlements into the newly discovered region of space, « what will you do if that doesn't work ? » she queried after an extended silence. « If what doesn't work ? » replied the veteran official who had also been envisioning the project of his opponents, and had been pacified by the reflective process. « What if people still want to go ahead with the idea ? » clarified the lady, staring at her relative. « Well... I don't know » the Chancellor hesitated, glimpsing at his sister and then peering in the distance in front of him as he mulled over the future, « would it be so bad if it all ended ? » he submitted tentatively. « What ? » the nurse reacted in surprise, « you mean if the Conservatives were removed from power ? » she inquired, eagerly looking again at her interlocutor, hoping to catch his gaze. « Yes » readily corroborated the balding statesman, « and if I were defeated too » he went on, turning his head towards his companion, the two of them making eye contact for an instant. « No » the sexagenarian first answered in a comforting tone, « it wouldn't be so bad » she carried on, careful not to show how delighted she was by the prospect which very much suited her own political leanings, although it also meant that her dear Ricky would finally be able to enjoy a peaceful and well-deserved retirement after a lifetime spent attending to the affairs of the Federation. « I've been in the government for over forty years... forty years ! Do you realize ? » the experienced representative stressed, « maybe it's time » he suggested, smiling serenely. « You bet it is ! » humorously retorted the happy woman, « it's a good thing we're here ! » she announced in an amused voice as she turned to her right and walked to the main door of the health center, checking behind her to make sure her brother was following, « put your shades on ! Hurry up, you don't want to be late do you ? » she commanded him in an upbeat manner, the man hastening to do as instructed, « the doctor hasn't got all day ! » she concluded as the two of them entered the building.

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About the Series

A

t the turn of the century, Ovel must face the consequences of its accelerated growth. One

hundred and twenty seven federated countries and eleven sovereign nations, spread across the homeland and in colonies settled onboard orbiting stations and on a nearby planet. Fourteen billion inhabitants struggling to thrive under the rule of a corrupted Global Government, in power for over forty years. Fuelled by a recent scientific finding, the once in a lifetime discovery of a discontinuity in the cosmic fabric of the neighbouring space, a coalition of politicians is willing to stand up for the people and radically change things. Now relegated to the ranks of an obscure sect, the once dominant Community and its disciples must effectively handle the requirements of the Celestials to ensure that the most favourable of all possible destinies comes to pass. Meanwhile, halfway across the world, a young monk must learn to collaborate with the Enlightened Ones in order to successfully discharge the essential task he has accepted to fulfil in behalf of his monastery. Will the crucial 2206 electoral campaign climax on the emergence of a charismatic Progressive leader, or will the decried Chancellor prevail despite the many forces scheming for his downfall ? On a background of environmental and financial crises, and religious influences intertwining with political manoeuvres to determine the fate of the overpopulated orb, The Threshold chronicles the evolution of the Ovelian civilization as it heads towards unprecedented upheaval.

★ Contact Facebook Profile : https://www.facebook.com/the.threshold.2206 Google Plus Profile : https://plus.google.com/u/0/104660427672333556879

★ The Complete Edition of The Threshold - 2206 : Window Onto A New World is available in the following locations Kindle Format on Amazon ePub Format on Lulu

About the Author

C

hristopher Stewart loves to try his hand at various artistic endeavours, but if there's one discipline he's perfecting, it must be the art of blooming late.

He has studied for a long time, played football even longer, spent a significant part of his adult life developing software on a full-time basis and invested what remained in the pursuit of his ideal of creating meaningful music in the context of a rock ensemble. He has founded the prolific yet still album-less Quebec-based progressive rock outfit Poligraf in 1998 and has never been quite the same since. He has been practising Buddhism dead-seriously since the mid 90s, until he finally awakened to the fact that it teaches living happiness. His interests range from psychology, physics, and philosophy, to mysticism, divination, the arts and the creative process, and, obviously, multitasking and clichés. Pick any task, tag it with the word « impossible, » assign it to him, and he’ll be hard at work for years before the first suspicion finally pops in his mind.

★ Contact Email : christopher.stewart@gmail.com Facebook Profile : https://www.facebook.com/christopher.andrew.stewart Google Plus Profile : https://plus.google.com/114005406455037130049 Twitter Profile : https://twitter.com/poligraf

★ Also Available as eBooks On the Meaning of Sin

Credits Chapter Titles The titles are meant as a tribute to the musicians. Special thanks to the members of Yes for their musical genius, and to Jon Anderson in particular for sharing his vision with the world. Fonts Linux Libertine : http://www.linuxlibertine.org/ Vollkorn : http://friedrichalthausen.de/ Philosopher : http://jovanny.ru/ BorisBlackBoxx : http://manfred-klein.ina-mar.com/ Quirkus : http://www.peter-wiegel.de/ Ubuntu : http://font.ubuntu.com/ Liberation : from the Fedora Linux Distribution : http://fedoraproject.org/ Images Joe Mabel : Pioneer Square neighborhood, Seattle, Washington Software Open Office : http://www.openoffice.org/ FreeMind : http://freemind.sourceforge.net/ The Timeline Project : http://thetimelineproj.sourceforge.net/ Gimp : http://www.gimp.org/ Blender : http://www.blender.org/ References Most of my book design questions have found an answer on Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer : http://www.thebookdesigner.com/

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The Threshold Bookcast : Chapter 9 – Careful With That Axe, Eugene