“What becomes of the unused land?” “It will belong to no one. This world is still healing from the mistakes of our ancestors. Any area uninhabited by a city will be returned to the Earth to allow for that rehabilitation,” Kachin said, absently. His slit eyes still scrutinized Adair’s expression.
“And what of us?”
Kachin ripped his gaze away to address Gimlin’s question.
“What of us?”
“How are we to communicate effectively in this government committee of yours if we’re all separated by our own borders,” Teague spoke in Gimlin’s place.
“We’ll live together in a central city, one that is exclusively for those of the governing authority and their families. A small minority of others in varying professions will live among us to make our city as self-sufficient as the rest,” Adair said calmly.
“And where exactly will the central city be,” Ridly scoffed. “Every single person in this room would want to keep their capital.”
“Then no one will keep their capital. We’ll create a new city in neutral territory,” Kachin said.
“The amount of labor and time, not to mention the amount of resources, that would use up would render the proposition void. There would be no point.” He scowled, slamming a clenched fist against the table.
“Chief Ridly,” Adair spoke softly to the leader of the southern nation. “There are other options.” She turned her gleaming, dark eyes to each face before she began again. “Some of the old cities still exists. Though the structures and roads are in poor condition, the infrastructure seems to still be strong, and there are a few which exist between borders.”
“You seem well informed, Ruler Adair,” Teague said pointedly.
The lower rims of Adair’s eyes tightened ever so slightly as she focused on Teague. Kachin only noticed because of their proximity; he doubted anyone else noted the gesture, though.
“Yes,” she said, after a moment in which she relaxed her gaze. “As a ruler of my own nation, I consider it important to know as much about this continent as is possible. You have not done the same?”
Teague flushed, marking the grim scars of his face into a gruesome contrast.
“Not to that extent,” he said gruffly, and slid his eyes aside. Adair clamped her lips firmly together, and though the muscles appeared fixed, her expression was smooth and passive.
“There are not many options, but I believe we can all come to a decision,” she continued.
“We can discuss this matter later, after we have considered all the other aspects of the proposal,” Kachin said. Adair twisted her head, laying narrowed eyes on him.
“On the contrary,” Ridly said. “We cannot agree to any deal until we are certain this particular matter is settled.”
Gimlin nodded beside him. Kachin stared at them all, boring through their eyes, and saved Adair for last. Her face wore that same smooth mask, but her eyes danced like he remembered. Still, her expression blurred before him as his daughter’s face flashed in his mind’s eye. The soft hazel eyes and the rosy complexion of her brilliant porcelain skin tortured his thoughts, once again, as he witnessed her take his place in the memories of his youth.
When he answered the pregnant silence, his tone never wavered, though the tendons at his neck stretched taut:
“We should not delay any longer then, shall we? Ruler Adair, would you like to explain to all of us who are less informed about the cities you were referring to?”