We had already had a couple of meetings, which had allowed us to get to work on new and different problems around the Dominion. It was easy to see that Emily and Faakhir had managed to rule the Dominion without these meetings, only because she didn’t care about the people in the Dominion. With such a vast population, with so many different needs, it was impossible for a single person to take care of everything, you needed to delegate and even if I had done my best, and I had managed to fulfill the basic needs of the population, I had realized that every region and every country had different needs that I had dismissed. Thanks to the meetings we had managed to identify some problems that I didn’t realize existed, also, we had better communication, and with that, and the ability to delegate, we had managed to attack those problems.
At the beginning, it was hard to give up control, but soon I realized that it was not only a good idea, but a necessity. Only time would say if I had done the right thing, but at the moment it looked that way. My work was to set goals, and organize the resources the Dominion had in order to allow them to meet those goals. I also had to make sure they were doing the job they were supposed to do. I couldn’t help but think that some of them were going to take advantage of the situation for their own benefit.
Kimball had been with me in some of the meetings, but he stayed out of the way, so the others wouldn’t be able to see him. So far I haven’t had a reason to worry. Of course, everyone was after what was best for their countries, and themselves, but most were willing to work with the others to make it possible, very few still held to the idea that one had to suffer so others could get on top.
“As always, I thank you for being at this meeting,” I greeted the leaders once all the virtual projections were in place. “During our meeting we will address the plans we were discussing the last meeting to see what you think about them. I think you and your people had enough time to go over them and find anything that you think requires more work.”
We spent the next couple of hours going over the plans and fine tuning them, as we had planned. Even if there were a few disagreements, we were able to fix them without much trouble.
“I think that’s everything we needed to go over. Is there anything else you would wish to discuss?”
“If you allow me, I would like to put an important issue on the table. We are approaching President Dante’s midterm. I don’t know if you realize it, but this is usually the time when we choose a new Prime Minister,” one of the presidents said. A wave of danger surrounded me, and I realized I needed to be very careful with how I proceeded.
“I don’t remember anything about agreeing to have Prime Minister elections, that’s something I decided to leave until later.”
“During the last meetings you talked about how you want to return to how things used to be, restore the status quo, and this is part of it, for our political system is very important to be able to alternate our rulers,” another leader said. The new speaker was from a different region, and that only left a couple of possibilities, either people agreed it was time to get rid of me, or a few had gotten together and decided to move me out of the way so they could follow their own interests.
“So, you are trying to tell me you are already tired of me and want me gone?” I said, trying for a joking tone, but being totally sincere in my question.
A few leaders started to agree with me, while others denied that was true, but no matter what they thought, it was clear that the seed had been planted, and more people would start thinking about it.
Once the situation calmed down a little bit, another leader spoke up. “I think it’s important for the Dominion’s progress to decide if we are going to honor old customs or if we are going to keep working under this tyranny…”
“Are you calling my rule a tyranny? I suppose that depends on what your definition of tyranny is. Anyway, I promised that I was working toward moving things to how they used to be, but I also said that I wouldn’t move forward until I had solved the Dominion’s main problems. So, I guess it’s valid to ask, do you think we have already reached that point? Has the Dominion already reached its equilibrium? I believe those are questions we have to ask before making a decision, and that is something we all have to work together to do. Right now I don’t think there’s enough time to discuss something like this, so I propose that we move this issue for the next meeting, once we all had the chance to think about it, so we are all on the same wavelength.”
“And how can we be sure that you’re not staling to avoid discussing this?” asked the President that had first raised the issue.
“For the simple reason that I don’t need to do that, if I really wanted to stop this, I could just veto it, I don’t need to play games or hide what I want to do. I will put this issue in the list of subject for our next meeting.”
Once the meeting ended, Kimball moved from the corner where he hid from the cameras. I was still thinking about what had happened. My first thought had been that there was no way I could allow something like that to happen, but then I had realized that my time had passed, my goals had been reached, and maybe it was time for me to leave my place in the Dominion and allow others to continue my work. Maybe it was time for me to go back to Aquarium, or even to the Empire and reclaim my place as head of my Clan, or maybe to become my brother’s right hand.
“Did you suspect that was going to happen?” Kimball asked, worried about me.
“To be truthful, no, I didn’t, but even if I had a bad feeling about it at the beginning, I’m starting to think it may not be a bad idea. Maybe my part in this is over, and it’s time for me to move on. Of course we need to think about the consequences in case my successor is not the right person. Maybe we will need to get William involved so he can interview the candidates, that way we can make sure that whomever they choose won’t damage the Dominion’s progress.”
“You are taking this much better than I expected. I know how much this means to you, and how much you had to sacrifice to reach this moment, I don’t think it’s fair that they get to decide that you can’t be here anymore.”
“I’m not sure what to think yet, I may change my mind tomorrow, but for now, all I can do is think about my options.”
“Maybe going into the fog would help you make a decision.”
“Maybe you’re right.”
The fog didn’t help much to clear my future, there were many versions of the future where I remained as head of the Dominion, some where I was forced to leave, and a few in which we were unable to control the outcome and the person they put in my place ended up being a bad election, one that undid all the work I had done and drove the Dominion back to its worst version.
By the time the new meeting arrived, I had no idea what was going to happen, but what I was sure of, was that I needed to accept their decision, even if I didn’t like it.
“Greetings. As I promised during our last meeting, today our first order of the day will be discussing the possibility of having an election for Prime Minister. I think that it would be best if the people that suggested it in the first place defend it, and whomever wants can add if they are in favor or against the idea before voting on it. Just let me remind you that in case you end up in a tie, I will be the one deciding what is going to happen.”
For a while, many leaders moved forward to give their opinion, and soon I realized that most were in favor of getting rid of me. I didn’t need to wait to know what way the vote would go. When the time arrived, it wasn’t a surprise to see that they had decided to vote whether they would have a new election or not. I couldn’t help but feel bad about it, that decision meant that they were going to decide if I was going to go, and end a time of my life that had cost me a lot, and it wasn’t because I wanted it to end, but because other people wanted me to go.
“As I promised, I will respect your vote and any decision you choose to make. I asked my people to adapt the system so you could have an anonymous vote, because, as I understand, that could encourage people to really go with the decision they want and not fear for repercussions, of course, there is also the option of an open vote, in case you don’t trust the system.”
“How can we be sure that you won’t use your tecnopaths to see how we voted, even with the system?” one of the Queens asked.
“That’s a matter of trust, you can either believe me or not. There is not much I could do or say if you don’t trust me or my people.”
“I think an open vote it’s better,” someone else suggested. “It’s as easy as to have those in favor of electing a new Prime Minister raising their hands, those against it don’t have to do anything.”
“That’s a good suggestion, if everyone agrees…” before I finished talking, many leaders started raising their hands, more than I originally expected. It wasn’t even necessary to count them to realize that they were the majority, but still I did it, for protocol. One by one I called the names of those in favor, while Kimball helped, making the count appear next to my virtual image on their side. At the end more than 80% of the leaders voted in favor, leaving no doubt about their decision.
“Now what?” an impatient voice asked.
“Now, you have to choose the candidates. Just a warning before you move on to that. Even if I believe that the time for Emily’s and Faakhir’s ideals are behind us, William asked, and I agree, to interview the candidates you choose, so he can make sure there is no relationship with his aunt and uncle, or any other problematic ideology that could represent a danger to the Dominion.”
“And how can we be sure that you won’t use that as an excuse to try and control the candidates, or to remove those who could be problematic to your way of thinking.”
“Again, that is a trust issue. If you believe that William doesn’t have the Dominion’s best interest at heart, or like many conspiracy theorists you believe that he is under some sort of mind control or some bullshit like that, then there is not much that I can do to change your minds. You have to trust in your King, if you don’t, then what can I do?”
“That really sounds great, but there is not much that can assure us that we can really trust you, or the King. Still, we don’t really have a choice, and the only thing we can do is to give you the benefit of the doubt and go ahead with the election,” one of the Presidents said. “I think that the next step is to choose possible candidates and work on getting them approved, that way they can start working on a proposal for their government, and give us a chance to get to know then and study who could be the better choice.”
As they started talking about it, I decided to stay quiet, just watching them talk, and in some cases fight over how to proceed. The process was way more chaotic than I expected, but there was not much I could do, any intervention on my part would be interpreted as a try to control them or the proceedings.
I couldn’t help but look at Kimball once in a while, he was also watching the discussion. I was still not sure how to feel about everything. It hurt to see how easily they discarded me after everything I had done for them, but at the same time I knew that it was a part of my life that sooner or later had to end, but that wasn’t exactly how I expected to leave, without it being my decision. I knew that I could fight them and stay in power, but that would only hurt me and my credibility, and the Dominion.
William arrived after a while, and I guessed that Kimball had sent him a message. We had already talked about the possibility having new elections and he was most likely there to set the game rules, the same way he had done so for the Congress when they elected their President. When I saw him there, I decided to interrupt the leaders.
“I think that is enough time to discuss your options, but before you move forward, William wants to talk to you.”
“Greetings, leaders of the Dominion,” William said, taking my place so the rest of the leaders could see him. “I have been told that you have decided it’s time to elect a new Prime Minister. I have to admit the decision surprises me, since Kaiserin has been doing such a good job so far, but I have to admit this is a necessary step if we want to keep moving forward. Still, there are a few concerns that we have to address and that come from the time my sister used to rule the Dominion, and because of that, I would like to interview the candidates you have chosen,” there were a few complaints and for a moment William was unable to continue talking.
“Silence!” Kgosi demanded in a voice so full of authority, causing a deep silence to fall. “Allow me to remind all of you protesting, that the King or Queen of the Dominion, in their capacity of Supreme Judge used to interview and had the final say in who could become President or Prime Minister. What William is asking for right now is not that different to what used to happen, and after all we have been through, I don’t see any problem in making sure that our candidates haven’t been corrupted by the old regime.”
“That’s right,” William agreed, “the fact that I’m interviewing the candidates and not the person elected is just a way to save one step, that way we can take out of the race those that doesn’t deserve to be there. You know the kind of power my family has, we can force people to talk only the truth in our presence, because of that you shouldn’t be so surprised that I am the right person to interview the candidates. Besides, you didn’t let me finish, I won’t be the only one there, President Dante will be with me, to make sure that the right questions are being asked and that the candidates are giving the right answers. This is all for the good of the Dominion.”
“Then, what’s next?”
“I suppose you already have your candidates chosen? Or at least you have an idea of who you want? The first step is to nominate your candidate, and if that person agrees, then we ask who else supports him or her, that person has to have at least another three persons supporting their candidacy, only then will that person be accepted as a candidate. Any questions?”
No one questioned William, so they proceeded to nominate their candidates. Some didn’t have the support they required and William didn’t take into account those who nominated themselves, even so the process was quick. Part of me expected my name to be called, but soon it was clear no one was going to nominate me, and I did my best to hide my disappointment, I convinced myself that it was time to turn the page and start a new chapter in my life. At the end there were five candidates, three of which came from the same region and represented countries that were both stable and prosperous.
“How are you feeling?” Kimball asked me, while William was going over the next steps with the leaders.
“I’m still not sure,” I said, sincerely. “I’m sure that once I have to step down, this whole business will finally register, but for the moment it doesn’t feel real. But this is a good thing, right? We have options, this is not the end, but a new beginning.”
“That’s right,” Kimball said, but I could see he had his doubts, or at least I thought he did, maybe I was just projecting myself.
“I think that’s the best option,” William was saying, “Capital City is prepared to host all the leaders, we already have the accommodations and the security needed in place, and I think that it’s best to vote in person. If one of you cannot make it for any reason, you can always send your Ambassador in your place,” William waited for someone to protest, when no one did, he ended his part of the meeting, and gave me back my place.
“Since we solved that issue, can we move on with our schedule? Or do you prefer if we postpone the rest of the issues until after the vote? I guess you still have a lot to think about or discuss, and some of you need to prepare if you are going to travel to Capital City or make arrangements with your Ambassadors if you aren’t.”
“I think it would be a good idea to postpone until after the election, there’s nothing urgent in the schedule anyway,” one of the Presidents said, and her words were followed with a series of agreements.
“Ok. I guess most of you will be staying in the Towers during your visits, but if one of you need help arranging something different, please let me know so I can help you. I still have a lot of work to do, so I will try to make the most of the time I still have, but you can stay connected if you want to discuss something further.”
I walked out of the room, feeling weird by leaving them there, but there was still a lot of work to do before my time ran out. I knew that some of my plans and proposals would be left on the side, still, I felt like I needed to make sure they were ready in case my successor decided to keep working on them. The situation was different than when Dante had been elected, and it would be harder for me to move forward.
Once we left the room, Kimball put his arm around my shoulders, giving me a one armed hug, offering me his support. I haven’t realized how much I needed his support until he gave it to me, as always, Kimball knew exactly what I needed, and once again I had to be thankful that I had him by my side.