The room was completely silent, all eyes were on Fletcher as she completed her presentation.
Fletcher, 44, a little taller than average, was a lifetime member of the committee. Although she had perfect eyesight and abundant hair, she wore comically round glasses and shaved her head to fit the part she was given. Her mother, whom she inherited the seat from, had looked like this, as had her maternal grandmother. It was tradition. Today was an extraordinary day, one she had trained specifically for, and she was sharing good news with a few hundred of her fellow committee members.
“And so,” she continued, her mellifluous voice ringing out clearly so that each of assembled felt as if she was right next to them, “with this successful result, we on the New Neighborhood Subcommittee respectfully recommend that we terminate the experiment, reset the environments, and plan our migration. Thank you.”
The room was silent. Fletcher waited patiently, fighting the urge to fidget or fix her suit.
“Mr. Fletcher” — all committeemen were always “Mr.” — “thank you for that report. Before proceeding can you remind us of the basic stats please?”
This was from Mr. Sigmund Youngheim, a senior committee expert on foliage and leader of the Appearances Subcommittee, who generally preferred not to speak. In fact this was the first time he has asked a question at a committee presentation in 18 years. It was a high compliment.
“Our most successful site, #5, has 24 generations, spanning 600 years, who have survived well and grown in population from our initial seed of 10,000 penal volunteers to just over 2 billion inhabitants today. The nine other sites all have substantially lower success rates. For example, at site #7, the next best result, the population has stabilized at about 1.1 billion. This is an acceptable result and once it is reset we will catalogue the site as a potential expansion neighborhood.”
“And please describe the reset process,” Mr. Youngheim continued.
Fletcher paused for just a moment. Of course she knew the details by heart, but waiting for a moment gave her audience a chance to catch up.
“The reset process is a simple. We’ll send medium-sized comets to each site. The impact will cause a gradual reset to population zero over the next five years. Once the sites are reset to pre-experiment levels, we will send infrastructure teams to site #5. That team will confirm the reset to zero population and begin migration prep. The first ships will leave for the new neighborhood in less than 100 years.”
Silence hovered while they waited for more questions.
Fletcher waited for one minute as described in the committee bylaws and said, “Gentlemen” — it was always “gentlemen”, regardless of the makeup of the committee, a fact which Fletcher occasionally wondered about but generally overlooked — “it is time for a vote. Please enter your selection. “
After a few minutes, the entire committee — all 415 — had voted for reset.
“Gentlemen,” Fletcher concluded, “thank you for your time today. The reset comets have just launched and I look forward to seeing you all at our next planning session.”
Fletcher stood, did the deep ceremonial bow, and went deep into the crowd, where she was congratulated on stirring even Mr. Youngheim to attention. It had been a great day!