This week’s theme is worldbuilding! One of my favorite things to read and write. I thought I’d put up a scene from my Federation Chronicles book – RELENTLESS – when Abbie goes to address the Full Governance Council. Not just the physical space, but the majesty of what she was discussing, who she was, who she is in relation to who Roman is – all these things go into building a world in any book. I hope you enjoy and don’t forget to visit the other Snippeters in the links below!
FEDERATION CHRONICLES: RELENTLESS by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2009, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, The Penguin Group
Abbie took a deep breath and nodded to Charlie and her new bodyguard, Cynthia, to open the doors. Other security guards had been alerted and were waiting to escort them them down the hall.
Today she would make history. She, Abigail Haws, an unranked barrister who grew up with nothing and yet, more than many, would be one of only a handful of unranked to ever address the Council and the first to ever be granted an audience to officially petition for expanded governance for the unranked.
With her were her mother and father, her sister and brothers. Her father had delivered a slightly tearful speech to her under her mother’s watchful eye. Abbie believed most of it and had asked him to come along. Marcus would already be inside to attend to Roman but it would be good to have another friend in the room.
She wore her best suit, one purchased specially for this event. Her hair was up in a tight but complicated knot her mother composed at the nape of her neck. She wore a pin on her lapel, a pin that had belonged to her grandmother and her mother before that.
The significance of the moment was framed most excellently by the physical space itself.
The building the Governance Council was housed in sat in the exact center of the capital. The spires rose high into the clouds. Paintings and photographs, statues and certificates lined the walls of the wide, spectacular Hall of Heroes.
Abbie had never been inside the building before and the affect was not lost on her. Generations of history surrounded her, reminded her that despite having a monopoly on power, the Families had done a good job on many things.
Doctors who’d pioneered the first vaccines for diseases that used to kill millions of citizens. Engineers who harnessed the vents to create heat and power to run all of Ravena. Military leaders like those who fought at Varhana, the battles that pushed the Imperialists and their slave traders back past the edge and underlined the Federation values they all held. Freedom from slavery, education for all, life and liberty. It hadn’t been perfect, but it was theirs and she was proud of it.
A crowd had already assembled and the closer she got to the Grand Council Chamber at the end of the hall, the more people had lined the walls.
Shit, that’s what those banners look like? She noted the huge banners people held with Abbie’s face and the MRD motto: A voice for the voiceless. Hear us now, emblazoned upon it.
“You’re making history, Abbie. I’m so proud of you,” Daniel murmured as he leaned close. “This is a momentous occasion. We are getting drunk when you’re done here.”
She laughed. “You are so right about that.” Hells, she’d have pounded back a few that morning if she hadn’t already been on the verge of throwing up from sheer nervousness.
Sunlight, filtered through the tall glass lining the upper part of the hall, marked squares of progress to the doors at the end. Abbie counted them in her head, seeking the calm in the rhythmic activity.
The noise from the crowds faded, even as she registered a less than friendly tone in some quarters. Not all would be for her plan. Not even all the unranked. Change was scary, she understood that better than most.
The crowd pushed in and she was jostled a bit but her guards held them back and the security guards pushed to keep the way cleared.
The doors opened, revealing the burnished wood and gleaming surfaces of the Grand Chamber within.
“Ms. Haws, if you’ll follow me? I’ll lead you to the upper chamber. You’ll remain seated there until it’s time for you to speak.”
Abbie looked up and up some more until her neck hurt.
The giant of a man nodded at Daniel and Charlie. “I’ve got it from here.”
Abbie was surprised to see her brother nod and take a step back.
“Excuse my manners, my mother would whack my hand for that.” He bowed. “I’m Wilhelm Ellis. I’ll be your bodyguard here within the Grand Chambers. Everyone out there,” he lifted his chin, indicating the hallway outside, “has been run through weapons scanners just as you were.”
She placed her hand on his forearm and left her group, following him up a staircase to a promenade of sorts, facing a tiered seating area. Audience chambers sat to either side of the tiered seating.
“So um, are you saying you’re expecting someone to try and kill me or something?”
“Ms. Haws, someone did try to kill you but got your assistant instead. I’m not letting you get harmed. Not on my watch. No way. If offends me.”
She couldn’t help but snort a laugh, making him smile.
“You’ll address the Council from here.” He indicated a podium. “A speech broadcaster is built in right here. Just use your normal voice. If you want to move a bit, it has a good range. You’re going to be great. I’ve read your proposal and I think you make sense. Just speak from your heart and be aware that not all of them will want to hear it.”
“Thank you. I do appreciate that.”
He inclined his head and took a seat next to her.
Roman woke up and a sense of calm washed through him. He wouldn’t send Alexander in in his stead. What would that say to Abbie? No, he would be there and watch her, send her some sort of moral support as she made a very difficult proposal.
He would see her, eat her up with his gaze. His beautiful, intelligent Abbie.
He arrived at the Council building to see a crush had already developed. He worried for Abbie, worried for her safety. He’d nearly had a heart attack when he’d been given the news about the poison delivered to her office. Thank the gods she’d been out of town and surrounded by guards.
His own guards materialized and led him into a side entrance. The noise from the Hall of Heroes was nearly deafening. Roman wondered how this day would end. Nothing of this sort had ever happened and he had to lead it, lead through it and guide a solution. He hoped he made the right choice.
When the time came, all fifteen Family leaders filed out onto their seats. This was a special meeting of the Council and each leader was there in person rather than by vid conference. They’d all attend the final day of Perry Walker’s trial the following day. The ritual was in high form. Each man wore his Council robes, all lined with their House color.
Row by row, bottom to top. He sat in the middle on the very top tier and saw her right away. Wilhelm was with her and Roman relaxed a bit. If anyone could protect her in a crisis, Ellis could.
He used the amplifier on his seat as he stood. “Order in the chamber. I would like to admonish the crowd to hold down the noise. Any party making an outburst will be escorted from the chamber immediately. We rarely have such large gatherings here so please be patient as we work through the process. We’ve dealt with routine business issues in a special private session and now will move on to our guest, Abigail Haws of the Movement for Representative Democracy as she makes her proposal to this body.”
He turned from the crowd to face Abbie. She sat, looking perfectly calm but he knew her, knew she had to be nervous because this meant so much to her. But for both their sakes, he had to remain as neutral as possible.
“Ms. Haws, please take the podium. Your time will be displayed on the clock to your left. At the conclusion of your remarks, there will be a question and answer session with the assembled Council.”
Roman sat and Abbie stood and walked slowly to the podium. She had no notes. No paper. Just herself. And that’s all she needed because her speech was written into her very bones.
She waited a moment and then thanked Roman and the assembled Council. And then she thanked the crowd.
“I was born here in Ravena. In the outback. My father was a teacher. My mother took in mending and also cooked and baked for other families for extra money.”
Abbie fell into the story, her story, the story of the unranked and didn’t bother to look at the clock. She knew just how long it would take.
She spun through her life briefly before launching into her proposal.
“We do not want to steal your power. We want to share it. We are all citizens of the Federation. We all work hard and build lives here. We raise families and watch the fireworks on Varhana Day. We do not dispute the fact that the Families only wish the best for all their citizens, nor do we dispute that for the most part, especially here in Ravena, we lead good lives. But we have no say in the direction our governance goes in. We do not vote, we are not asked. We simply let governance happen to us. And it has created a sickness that resulted in the worst sort of betrayal.”
Gasps sounded but Abbie did not flinch from the truth. The Families had brought this crisis on themselves and now they had to face it.
“We have been voiceless for generation after generation. And yet we have done service in the military corps, we have built â€˜Verse after â€˜Verse from the sewers to the portals. We seek an advisory committee with an unranked, elected member from each â€˜Verse, to serve as an adjunct to this body.”
Abbie went through the details of how that would happen and ended with, “The time for a greater democracy, the time to give voice to the voiceless is now. Thank you.”
Thundering applause sounded from the chamber below, drowning out the boos of some of the assembled people. She caught sight of her mother’s face, the pride there, and then her father’s and it touched her to see his smile, his approval.