“Oh, hello there, stranger. Please, come in. Have a seat,” the aged man welcomes you from behind his polished wooden desk. Though he holds a warm smile, the sorrow of politics darken his eyes. “You have a face I don’t recognize. I’ve asked my Praetorian guards to keep an eye out for unfamiliar people and to send them to see me. I make it my personal duty to meet all of my constituents.”
After taking in the looks from the other few people in the room, he allows a creeping worry to crease his brow. “Oh, dear friends, don’t be confused. It appears that you may be lost. Perhaps you were a late sleeper from the stasis cells, or you came from Providence or another Lark colony. Perhaps your family managed to survive in the jungle for this long.” His ancient eyes twinkle a hint of his youth, “Whatever or whomever brings you here to Macedon, I sincerely welcome you and hope that you find a safe home here in the city. My name is Joseph Tromburg. I am President of Macedon’s Central Council. and I have served the colony for the entire 17 years of its existence; ever since the Dorchester first landed here on Skellium.”
After a quick round of handshakes and ‘How do you dos’, Mr. Tromburg returns to his speech, “I am afraid that both the colony and myself have seen better days. I would have met you all at the door you see, but I am an old man now, confined to this damn wheelchair and cramped office space.” The President chuckles softly. ” A few years back, maybe even ten years, the aids asked if I wanted a larger office. I told them, ‘No! Go spend that money more wisely.’ How could I have known how quickly my health would decline.”
A coughing bout rattles the elder as if on cue, giving you an opportunity to look around. Mr. Tromburg’s office was indeed small, yet extremely organized. As your eyes wander the room, the realization occurs… there isn’t any trace of work being done here. There isn’t any paperwork, digital or physical, anywhere. Tromburg’s desktop is clear, as are his nearby bookshelves. Still, he has an old fashioned pen and a stylus on his desk.
As if he reads your mind, he says, “I learned long ago that the clutter of keeping track of things was of no use around here. Everyone who enters this room will bring with them whatever it is that I need to read or sign. Why keep extra fluff here, right?” He smiles broadly with a wealth of decaying charm. You realize this man once swayed the masses with that charm, both here on Skellium as well as back on Earth.
“You know, I once had a youngster like yourself sit in that chair and ask me what it was like to be the president of Macedon. I thought about it for a moment and asked him if he ever owned a cat. Of course, none of you Skellium-born humans have seen an Earthling cat. But if you had, you would have known that they are furry, capable of great love, and spend countless hours licking their own backside. The curious part about a cat is that no matter what you do, once a cat has made up its mind, there is nothing you can do to make it do what you want it to do. A cat is going to do what a cat is going to do. And my job as president of Macedon is to organize and protect those cats!”
A long silence lingers as you try to find the meaning of his metaphor.
“Oh, in your eyes I see the innocence of youth. I am going to guess then that you probably have not heard about the Houses, the Exile, the Rebellion, and everything that helps me metaphorically describe the people of my city. If you have a few minutes, entertain an old man while he tells you a story about several groups of cats.”
He shifts slightly in his chair and pulls a small container from the folds of his robes. A quick sip later he begins again: “You see, when we first landed on Skellium, I made the decision to disband the old Houses from the ship. I felt that we needed unity, not separation and isolationism. While the majority of the six Dorchester Houses cheered and merged, two of them–Lark and Wren–had old Earth bloodlines and refused.
“I had expected issues from Roman Jackson, the leader of Wren, but not from Lark. In reality, Lark proved to be the biggest hurdle, as their leader–Mandara Amah, had brought with him the pride of the old world. Unfortunately, diplomacy failed and turned into politics. Politics failed and turned into war, as we were forced to assign troops to protect the colony food supplies.” Tromburg grimaces at the admission.
“In the end, I issued an ultimatum: comply or get out. They did not comply, so I was forced to release my hold on the Journeymen Order, the colony military force. That was my biggest mistake. I underestimated the tenacity of a cornered wolverine and the determination of the Order’s Captain. Lark was not going to lay down without a fight, and Captain Rene was one who didn’t like the word ‘no.’ Not to mention that Jackson sent in his Wren Blackguard to assault the Lark. It was nothing less than gruesome. In the end, the Lark were shoved out into the wilderness and into exile.”
“What’s worse is that Jackson correctly read the times and then declared Wren’s independence from the rest of the colony. I couldn’t then attack more of my own people, so I was forced to recognize their House. Again, blasted politics.
Not long after that–mildly to my amusement– Lain Cochrane, a scientific prodigy, pulled the wool over Jackson and his group seceded from Wren! Clarity, Inc. was formed over in Greenspire and then there were two free Houses in Macedon.
Many years later, another uprising occurred over in Docksdown near the remains of the Dorchester. Docksdown is a small, poor community that almost no one visits. We discovered that one of our Councillors, Desdemona Pierce, was sending unapproved supplies to them–in the form of weapons, armor and intelligence.”
He shook his head slightly and continued the tale, “We sent in our Journeymen troops and they were met with resistance. I asked the Captain to back down and he did. However, Roman Jackson filled the void with Blackguard soldiers. This was not taken lightly and the Custodians attacked from the Dorchester. They were actually led by the traitor Pierce. The rebellion was ultimately put down, but the Custodians felt betrayed by the attack and broke away from the colony, which left me facing yet another free House in Macedon.
“That brings us to today and your world. Most of Macedon is still governed by the Council. There are three sectors of the city under different laws–learn them. I advise you to remain loyal to the Council and receive our protection, but you are–like the others–free to choose your allegiance however you wish. Be warned, you will face danger no matter which House you align with, so make sure that you decide wisely. Macedon is not a city to be trifled with. No matter which neighborhood you choose to live, just be careful and find friends.”
An aide peeked her head into the door way and motioned for Mr. Tromburg. “If you all will excuse me, I must take my leave, Mr. Gentry and I are traveling to Greenspire to meet with Dr. Cochrane this afternoon. I wish you good luck and safe travels!” With a smile and short wave, the aide wheeled the President out the door.