3 of 6 | Chapter 14


“Very pleasant, thank you,” he said, taking a sip of the aromatic spirit. “The few hours flew by.”

“We took slightly longer to arrive. Including refueling, it took us the best part of a day,” said Doyle.

“How fast does your aircraft fly, Sean?” asked Gorbunov.

“At sixty thousand meters above sea level it'll do mach eight,” he said, and the presidents gasped.

“You know, Sean, after much debate, this room was selected as the place for our meeting so that we could speak freely, as friends. It's not something that is permitted in more public arenas, but here, in this room, we are not the leaders of nations with often different goals and interests. Here, we are neighbors, wishing to discuss mutual concerns in good faith, and working together without ill will, because we know that we all live in the same house, as it were,” Monroe paused and glanced towards Gorbunov.

“That's right! We have a drink together and try to ascertain what is best for all,” continued Gorbunov.

“You know, I can't help thinking that the ambiance in this room should be extended across the whole planet,” said Steersman, in response. He didn't expect an answer, and none was forthcoming.

Instead Gorbunov reacted with a question. “How do you imagine that?”

Steersman began to elucidate, “Obviously, there are plenty of reasons for you to meet in the Antarctic for a discussion, not just because of public perceptions, but because of the entire dark history of mankind and its vested and conflicting interests, as you have implied, and the inherent problems associated with them.” The politicians absorbed his statements, testing each word for weaknesses and hidden rhetoric. Steersman felt in his every cell, that they would not quickly reach the understanding that there was no easy way out of a system of political interrelationships that was as old as the history of the human species itself. He knew, above all, they would not be able to even imagine how it could be otherwise. “Would you allow me to ask you all a question?”

“Please, go ahead,” assented Doyle, nodding.

“Let's assume that you have an infinite amount of resources at your disposal; you have no financial or physical barriers. There would naturally be moral constraints, and associated consequences. With such power in your hands, what else you think would be required to make the world we live in ideal? A world without extreme poverty, no widespread violence, no environmental destruction, a world in which humankind can become a civilized species living in an unparalleled culture.”

An eloquent silence settled over the room.

“Infinite resources would seem to be enough,” said Doyle breaking the silence.

“Without physical barriers, I think it could easily become a reality,” added Gorbunov.

“Please, tell us, Sean. What else would we need?” Monroe countered.

“What I am referring to is not another method or tool. What is needed does not originate from an external source. It is something, a vision or dream of the future, that must come from within us. Call it an ambition or an unshakeable conviction if you like, but focusing on making the terminology presentable may lead us to miss the point. What's missing is resolute and unbiased intent, that can allow us to overcome our ingrained mental inhibitions and barriers, so that existing habits and motivations can be bypassed or given new meaning. This is something that is largely infeasible for those bound to comply with an established and entrenched political status quo. It would not matter what they had at their disposal, they could never live with such a vision or take advantage of such a possibility.” Steersman sat back and observed his auditors.

“By your tone, I would suggest that you consider us similarly bound and unable,” posited Monroe.

“Were it otherwise, you would not find it necessary to meet in the cold depths of the Southern Ocean, away from prying eyes and ears. You are bound by your duty to your constituent public and are in no position to neutralize that effect. We have to bear in mind, however, that we're talking about the three most powerful people in the world sitting in this room. So what can we expect from those who just want to live, and they feel the corrosive bile of regret as they watch their world slowly destroyed.”

The room was thick with a silence that was pregnant with unasked questions.

“And you will help us make this new vision a reality, Sean?” Doyle spoke again.

“Not just me, the whole of the ASEC,” said Steersman, pressing his fingertips together. “We will do everything possible to realize a sustainable and clean future for our planet.”

“What are you trying to accomplish? Do you wish to control the world?” asked Gorbunov, suspiciously.

“Hardly.” Steersman laughed. “Have I yet shown any intention of ruling the world like some power-hungry warlord?”

“No, Sean,” said Doyle smiling.

“Yet, to be honest, it's not easy to ascertain your intentions. What you say is frighteningly real. Of course, there are wheels within wheels here, but your deeds have sometimes been a little ambiguous, so it's perhaps easy to believe that you might have such intentions,” said Monroe a little angrily.

“I play by my own rules, that's true, but I'm dedicated to this cause, and I want ASEC to be your neighbor that protects this house from irresponsible vandals,” said Steersman smiling.

The three presidents looked at each other in silence, quietly digesting Steersman's words.

“What you did to defend Excolopolis was quite unique,” interjected Doyle, abruptly veering along another line, he glanced at his colleagues. Monroe and Gorbunov also looked at each other.

“I agree. You built up a covert robot army, then picked up the gauntlet fairly decisively against an extremely formidable attack,” said Gorbunov.

“Tell us if you would, what you will do with your military contingents now that the immediate threat has been neutralized,” said Monroe.

“Certainly,” said Steersman. “I'll initiate you into our plans at ASEC, after all, everyone will be affected. What we call our armed forces now, will not remain as it is. It was not created for this purpose. Nevertheless, new military force is being created that will be specifically directed to serve as a transcendent power. And indirectly, it will take the burden of your own armed deterrents off the shoulders of you and your tax payers.”

“And what do you expect of us? To simply agree to it?” asked Monroe.

“I'd certainly like to ask for your cooperation in the first step, which will be to wipe all weapons of mass destruction from the surface of the Earth. All biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.”

“Sean, you're asking the impossible,” exclaimed Doyle, now a little exasperated. “No one will agree to this, not to mention that even were we to cooperate, there are a further one hundred thirty countries that have such devices. As long as this condition remains, no state will voluntarily take part in your proposed plan.”

Monroe sat forward. “That may indeed be the case, but I think we can all agree that there has been a strong change in the international position of ASEC since the attacks, otherwise you would not be sitting here. Military experts have pointed out without hesitation that ASEC technology is capable of neutralizing the most advanced military technology we have available today,” Monroe went on, “but you alone can not take on such an enormous role. It is a physical impossibility. We employ intelligence organizations that can track and locate all of the devices that you wish to destroy, because they are so fast and easy to reach these days. You know that the only reason states don't fire at each other every time some petty squabble erupts is because they know that they'll have two warheads up their asses in return: the nature of the classic deterrent. Every square meter of land and sea is under observation by at least fifty intelligence agencies. No one can even pick their nose on another continent without us knowing minutes later,” she explained with increasing passion.



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