Twenty-seven

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Import Env_Analysis
  Logging.config
(security=default; module=core("op.parameters", "safeguards");access=ui("human.input","keytrack")
    Log:

      Sea level rise of >2m now inevitable, based on tracking of previous 200 years. The unanticipated acceleration of the Greenland melt and the fallout from the Korean peninsula incident forty years ago has pushed the planet rapidly past the point of no return. Mass migration in progress already across Europe, Central America and southern USA. Reduction of available land mass for human habitation theoretically manageable but governments entirely ill-equipped. Attempt to form planetary unity body to oversee terraforming and course processes has failed catastrophically. Poverty and starvation levels at unprecedented global high, including in many countries previously considered stable. Conclusion: humans now incapable of self-governance.//
Exit(logging)

*

It was a grand feast. The stoves and ovens in the kitchen ran at capacity in preparation all afternoon, pushing the upper limit of the Temple's generator, while the spit rotated gently. The fire was lit early, then once the meat was ready and removed it was turned into a roaring bonfire. The entire village congregated, all forty-two of them, laughing and playing games and helping to cook and clean dishes. The smell of roasting meat infused the air long after it had been removed from the fire. Songs were sung, celebrating the valley and the high and low lakes and the world of plenty in which they had all found themselves.

Tommy leaned back in his chair, sipping from a mug of berry juice, freshly squeezed that morning. It was a good life, yet something Ramin had said recently pulled at the back of his mind, drawing his attention away from the revelry. He'd theorised two potential scenarios, as was his tendency. Whereas ordinarily Tommy humoured Ramin but left the discussion of such ramblings to those with more time and less responsibility, this time it had stuck in his head and refused to dislodge. Ramin painted a vivid picture of life without the Temple: its teachings gone, its electricity no longer available, its assistance with farming and manufacture of clothes and tools denied to them. Tommy had bullishly declared that they would simply adapt and make more use of their own skills, but in private the idea bothered him. It was inconceivable that the Temple would cease to provide, it having been a part of all their lives for as long as they could remember, but as a responsible leader he had to consider it. One cold winter without the Temple's support would land them in trouble.

The other scenario had been somehow more disturbing. Ramin's prediction was that if everything carried on as normal, with everybody safe and secure and provide for, that they would eventually become dissatisfied and bored. "The oldest of us are sixteen, as best we can tell," he'd said. "Until now we've been content and happy. The younger ones are still like that. But I'm fifteen, and I'm starting to sense a kind of restlessness. I'll bet you and Harry feel it even more. What happens when you're eighteen? Or really old, like twenty? Twenty-five? Will you still be here in the village, year-after-year? Will everyone else?"

None of them knew, of course. Tommy and Harry were the oldest in the village. There were a handful of people close in age to them, then everyone else were between ten and sixteen. Then there were the new arrivals, only six or seven years old. Tommy smiled to himself as the fire flickered away. Those new arrivals had been in the village for over three years, since they had first walked up, tired and lost. The time had passed so quickly, which he supposed was Ramin's entire point.

As the sun began to drop towards the trees on the highest hill, Tommy joined in with the dancing and singing and celebrations, but his attention was elsewhere. His thoughts frightened him but he was increasingly convinced of their necessity. Sooner or later, it would have to be done. It might as well be that night.

"Everybody!" he shouted, raising his hands in the air. "People of Cragside!" Slowly the rhythmic drumming and singing subsided and everyone paused to look in his direction. Tommy smiled his broad smile, moving his gaze across the group and looking them in the eyes, as if he were speaking personally to each and every one. "Alright. We are fortunate to be living here now. We're safe, we're protected. We have food, shelter. We have the Temple-" that brought a cheer "-and we have each other."

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