UN Headquarters, MY 2183

“Terraforming by committee,” Pravin said. His tone was dry, and somewhat irritated.

“No, not by committee,” Vice Adjunct Commissioner Gunther stated. “By consensus. All decisions go through us, and we represent all of the various interests at the UN. We are also all acknowledged experts in our fields, such as farming, mining, and energy. By working together we have combined the best of all of our competing agendas, forming a true bi-partisan decision-making process. When there is a nutrient lode to be harvested, of course we put a mine on it, and a farm! That only makes sense. If we have an energy nexus, it is clear that putting a solar collector on it is too much of a concession to the energy faction, so we put a sensor on it. So, you see, we achieve a balance, a symmetry.”

“And what of the many sectors that are unimproved? Does that not harm the people you are vested to serve? Aren’t you denying them the resources to improve their lives?” Pravin said. His words were carefully selected, and too neutral.

Gunther sat back in his ornate high back chair. “Well,” he drawled as he steepled his fingers in front of him. “That is simply the lack of resources. We have constantly requested more crawlers, but were consistently denied by the Commission. In effect, our wisdom was overridden by officious bureaucrats.”

“Officious bureaucrats,” Pravin intoned as if he had never heard the phrase before. “And what of the projections of one of the Agency of Terraforming and Resource Allocation’s young interns, a Ms. Elaine Wang. She pointed out that a forest could be constructed in less than half the time than one of your farm and mine improvement combinations you are so fond of, netting more energy resources and just as much food and minerals.”

“Former intern,” Gunter corrected. “She was released from her appointment due to her failure to follow protocol. This official body rejected that report, and her act of insubordination was inexcusable! It challenged our authority, and our credibility! We were shocked, shocked! And then there was the inquiry. Well, you know that sad story. Ms. Wang recanted, confessing all. An open and shut case, really.” He made a pitying face, but there was a tint of gloating in his voice.

“Yes, the inquiry was very efficient,” Pravin commented. “It ended Ms. Wang’s career.”

“Yes, very sad. So very sad. She was so bright, too. A promising student, led astray by her outrageous ideas. ”

“I’m glad you agree,” Pravin said, brightening. “Her ideas were both insightful, and sadly wasted on your commission. But, she now has a new position.”

Gunther was motionless.

Pravin let him squirm for a little longer. Then he stood up and walked to the grand double doorway, reached down to the burnished brass handle, and opened the door. A young woman with bobbed black hair and a light gray and blue business suit stood in the doorway.

“Mr. Lars Gunter, I would like you to meet my newest attaché in charge of the liaison between the Agency of Terraforming and Resource Allocation and the Commissioner’s office. Per official protocol, you are to justify and report all your recommendations to Ms. Wang, who will then pass appropriate reports directly to me. She has my full trust, and I expect she will have your full trust, and cooperation. Am I perfectly clear, Vice Adjunct Commissioner Gunther?”

“Yes. Perfectly.”

“Very good. I am sure that you will both get along famously. I would be sorely distressed, to the point of action, if I were to hear otherwise.” Pravin’s animated brown eyes locked with Gunther’s.

A small smile passed over Pravin’s face. “Then it is resolved.” He turned toward the slight Ms. Wang and gave her a shallow bow. “Your innovations are a service to us all, Ms. Wang. Please accept my warmest congratulations on your new appointment. And please, I want you to stop by my office whenever you have the need.”

Pravin could hear Gunther’s chair squeak as he squirmed. Almost no one had such access to the High Commissioner. Pravin’s slight smile broadened.

“Thank you, High Commissioner,” she said. Her eyes sparkled, and she fairly glowed in Pravin’s presence.

“Just remember to always do what is right,” Pravin said as he opened the doors fully. Then he stood to one side and gestured to the plush upholstered chair in front of Gunter’s desk that he had just vacated.

He turned his gaze toward Gunter. “Train her well, Vice Adjunct Commissioner. She can learn many lessons from the successes, and especially failures, of others. One day she will make a fine Vice Adjunct Commissioner.”

Pravin turned and shut the doors, sealing the two in the room to work out their differences. Actually, there were very few differences to work out now. Ms. Wang would be able to put her ideas into effect, and Gunther would be offered retirement within the year. He would accept, of course.