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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Taking counsel


Mr Fox

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Three days after the mission to stop Elijah and Morgan was starting to get back to normal. In the wake of that clusterfuck he had started to question his vision and leadership. Sure, no plan survives the first engagement with the enemy. That was a truism for a reason, but some of his people had nearly gotten killed and while he was away all kinds of craziness had occurred back here at the Refuge. Then last night he'd spouted off at the fire by Bond's Humvee. He'd seen the look on Jule's face when he'd talked about his plans and vision. He was defending his status more than anything else, but she'd looked almost crestfallen. Was what he wanted really so bad or was it just a difference in viewpoints? He had to find out, and more importantly he had to make sure he wasn't going off the tracks like Elijah. Not that he'd ever turn into that kind of monster, but if you were losing it how would you really know? He thought what he'd said last night was perfectly reasonable, but there were four people standing or sitting around that fire and not one of them had agreed with him. Bond he could understand, but even Priest who had been around for the last couple months and knew what kind of person he was didn't speak up in his defense. It was enough to make Morgan question himself and his leadership.

To that end he wanted to speak with Jules privately and get her honest opinion as a new arrival so that night after the evening meal had been finished, he sat back and asked, "I couldn't help but notice last night that you seemed disappointed in what I said about the future of the refuge. I have to admit that my military background has given me a certain amount of tunnel vision on how things should operate. I'd really like to hear your honest opinion on what you think about what I said."

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Jules paused, studying him, biting her lip. "It's all well and good to run the military like a military," she said. "But these people here aren't military. I know that you know that, but do you know it?" She sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. "For you, that's a good way to be. It's comfortable, and safe. You're part of the machine. Most people here aren't, and they aren't part of the machine. They aren't comfortable, because all they have is what you give them, what they can find, and their anger." She paused and added, "And their grief."

She sighed. "One of two things needs to happen. Either you change the way you view this place and how it functions. Or, you make everyone part of the machine. Everyone gets rank, everyone has a duty, and you take care of every last one of them as if they were your personal army.

"I won't lie. I'd already started to see the way we could make this a light on the hill, metaphorically, for other enclaves. We can be more than a refuge; we could be the start of a nation. You may have started it, Morgan, but even the Founding Fathers knew when to give the power away. You once served their ideals. Dan... he never told you, but Dan was proud that you were military. He said you did something good with yourself."

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Morgan sat back and thought about what she said. "That's good to know. We disagreed about so much and we weren't real close after I left to join the Air Force. I'm glad he didn't hate me."

"I can see what you are saying Jules, about folks feeling like they are on the outside looking in. Thing is, that during crisis times a military structure usually does work best as long as the person or people at the top are competent. I would be inclined more toward making everyone here military to better respond to the issues we have, but I'm a realist enough to know that wouldn't go over very well. So what do you suggest to bring people into the process more? Also, on a related note, I didn't say it last night at the campfire because I don't want folks to be thinking about it, but I will not give up control of the underground facility or let anyone but those I trust inside because we have three live nuclear missiles here and I don't want to risk those getting messed with. So even if I threw in the towel right now and declared anarchy or gave leadership to someone else, I still wouldn't allow the underground part of the facility to be entered or taken away from me." He gave a wiry smile at that last.

"The thing that worries me about elections and democracy is that the US was absolutely plagued with corruption before the z-plague. Very few of the politicians did anything but fight to keep their positions of power and milk them for everything they could get out of them. With the way things are right now that kind of personal ambition would get a lot of people killed."

"Anyway, that's what worries me and that's my mindset right now, but obviously something needs to be done and there needs to be some change and unless you think folks would become military, then I guess I'll have to accept some kind of representative government."

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"What's wrong with a Peace Corp type set up?" Jules asked. "The important thing isn't military, it's structure. People need to know how to defend themselves, even from the system, and they need to have a purpose beyond survival." She leaned forward. "You can give them a purpose - rebuilding all we have lost. You have everything here, or you could get it, to make this place the foundation of a new nation.

"The problem with politicians is that they can forget who they serve. Here, that's less of a problem. Honestly, as small as we are, you can probably get away with direct representation. But people need to have a say in what happens to them, or they'll find ways to regain control. That might be beating their wife or kids, or starting fights or a mutiny." She crossed her arms. "People need to feel like they have some power."

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Morgan nodded. "I hate to say it but I never had much to do with the Peace Corp, what's their structure like?" He was genuinely interested in what Jules was saying. He didn't like the idea of someone else leading the Refuge if only because he knew himself and trusted himself to do a decent job, and because he had founded the place, but she was right. He could sense the tension of the last week, not that there hadn't been any tension before the last week, but it had all boiled to the surface with all the terrible things that had happened in just the matter of a few days. He definitely needed to speak to the people and give them some hope, and he supposed some choice.

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"I didn't mean their structure as much as their mission. If you need to structure this formally, having a non-military branch for people to join that will support the community, that can do things to better their lives. Planting, weaving, building - all things that will need to start happening if we want to stop living off the ruins of our former lives."

Those words were ironic, considering that she was pretty much doing the same thing she did before - taking care of a Fox, living on his salary and being his companion.

Maybe I should move out, she thought. It was like living with a ghost; her memories of Dan's appearance were blurring into Morgan's, until she was left with confusion. Find somewhere else. There was also the quietly pleasant thought of going away completely, of running from this mess. But where?

Her shirt pulled lightly against her scars, and Jules considered going back to Paradise and taking out as many of them as she could before they killed her.

Morgan was looking at her, and Jules stopped her dark thoughts. "I've already spoken with Walker. He has some survival skills. I've convinced him to help us teach a class on making those things we need."

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"I see what you are saying and I completely agree. We need to build a new future, which is what I started a few days ago, but the people need to feel like they belong and aren't just guests in 'my' home that could be tossed out at my whim. What we need is a constitution and a bill of rights and a process for folks to earn citizenship. And a government, an elected government, but not the same old crap that has paralyzed the country for the last several decades."

He thought for a moment then added, "Of course I'd like to see myself as head of that government, which if I open things up for elections might not be the case. But I think that the people really are behind me for the most part despite the dip in morale over the last week or two. It's not like anyone else has done anything for them to compare with all that I've done."

"I'm trying to formulate an idea on how this could work in terms of structure. I like the Swiss model, every citizen has to serve the country and goes through basic training and spends a couple years after graduation in service. Every citizen is armed, and every citizen has the responsibility of helping to defend the country in case of attack. So pretty much every citizen is a memeber of the military for all intents and purposes, but they don't live their day to day lives that way. Except for their term of service the rest of their life is spent just like the citizen of any other country. What do you think of that Jules?"

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"Sounds good to me, though I'd have to see the details," Jules said thoughtfully. "The most important thing is to give people an official way to complain, and to feel like they have a say. Right now, people have to do whatever you say without question, or they are cast out. That's created some resentment.

"Give them a purpose and stability, and I think you'll see some problems disappear." Jules leaned back, her eyes distant. "There will be others, but some structure should be good." She looked at him again and asked, "Do you want me to grab some paper and start to get some ideas down?"

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"Yeah, that would be great. I think we need to call a meeting before that trip to Dallas and speak with the people, that way as soon as the Dallas trip is over we can have the elections, or referendum or whatever we call it and get things started."

As she got up to grab some paper he had an idea that might kill several birds with one stone. "Hey, why don't we invite the other supers and a few of the regular folk who are the most dedicated to making life better here at the refuge and pool ideas on this new government? We can move this little discussion to the HQ and have ourselves a bit of a constitutional conference. Or do you think we should wait?"

Jules smiled, "That is what I think the refuge needs. Having a voice in the new structure and how it is formed will help."

Fox agreed, "Good, grab that pad of yours then and let's head to the HQ and I'll radio folks to gather up if they want."

As they hit the surface Fox clicked on the mic on the private channel, "Ger, Markham, this is Fox. I want to talk to the supers and you guys. Also, gather up whoever else you think should be included like the new Pastor. I want to discuss some issues of how things are run here in the refuge and talk about the future. It's not a mandatory meeting, don't twist anyone's arm, but extend the invite for me. Also let's keep this to a relatively small group. I don't want the whole population of the compound showing up for what is intended to by just a discussion. Thanks guys, Fox out."

As they hit the surface Morgan offered his arm to Jules. It wasn't a conscious effort to win her over, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he wanted this beautiful and intelligent woman on his side. What he wouldn't have admitted even to himself, at least not this soon, was that perhaps there might be more to it than that.

Since they were already on their way they were the first to arrive and Fox took advantage by setting up the room as best he could for an informal talk but so that he and Jules be at the focus point of the discussion. It might be informal, but he didn't want a wild anything goes chat, that wouldn't serve much purpose. By the time others started to filter in all the chairs were set up in a circle but there was a table in front of Morgan and Jules for writing purposes.

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Priest walked in, toweling off.

"Where's the stampede?"

He moved to the front, avoiding his high school favorite - the last row. He did pause by it though, putting a hand on the back of a chair.

"You two don't look paniced, which is a good thing, and my spidey-sense isn't tickling ... so what's the deal?"

Stripped down to the waist, deeply tanned, and without his customary sunglasses, Priest was quite the handsome man. Surviving the Z-Virus had been more than kind to him.

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"No panic this time. Just want to get some input on organizing a government around here. People are feeling disenfranchised and it's screwing morale. Want to discuss some options with folk before making a proposal to the community."

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James walked in and with a cane in one hand and a lady on the other. He was wearing a pair of dark sunglasses and now somewhat resigned to taking weeks and not hours to recover. James said,

"I'm here, and I caught that last part."

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Jules nodded at the men as they arrived. "Priest," she said with a smile. "I was hoping you'd join us." She glanced at James and Violet. "And it's good to see both of you." She wasn't sure that inviting all the supers, just because they were super was a good idea. Had she not been super, were she just Morgan's sister-in-law, would she invited?

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A few minutes later, Myfwany came in and looked around at the gathering, a bit bemused. She gave Fox a curious look and asked, "What? No mysterious dying prisoner to save? You must be losing your touch."

"What's all this about?"

Her tone was a little tired, a little teasing, and she came in and took a seat.

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He looks at Jules.

"Us nomads have a vest interest in how the enclaves work out, especially this one. That's why Me and Mine are contributing what we can for the time being before we hit the roadways once more. Sort ot like goes around comes around."

"Anyway, if all you want to do is pick my mind, I'm game. I've seen every post-apocalyptic film that the Sci-Fi channel ever played. Saw almost every movie too. Can you believe it, in the before times, I actually loved that crap?"

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Fox chuckled. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I guess that's one of the reasons that when the world started to go to shit, I holed up here and made sure it stayed safe. Your knowledge and opinion will be appreciated. I'm going to be making a proposal to the people of the refuge and I want to get some varying viewpoints. We've got some big challenges ahead of us and we need to move forward with some dedication and a common purpose if we are going to survive and eventually rebuild civilization." His look to Mwfwany let her know she was included in his words.

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Originally Posted By: Jules WhiteElk
Jules nodded at the men as they arrived. "Priest," she said with a smile. "I was hoping you'd join us." She glanced at James and Violet. "And it's good to see both of you." She wasn't sure that inviting all the supers, just because they were super was a good idea. Had she not been super, were she just Morgan's sister-in-law, would she invited?


Violet smiled briefly at Jules not really convinced of her sincerity. She guided James to one of the chairs and stood next to him preferring to stand. Violet closed her eyes and extended her senses attuning herself to the general mood. She didn't want to miss out on any subtleties of this conversation.

"I know most of the people in the refuge including some of the present folks here don't really trust me and are even afraid of what I might do or not. Before you start making any plans I'd like to settle any issues you may have with me or James. I want you to know that all I ever tried to do here is to help and not establish some kind of shady business. Right now I'm not really sure if I'm welcomed in this circle.", Violet's voice was calm and not accusingly. If anything she sounded a bit tired and disappointed.

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*Direct confrontation? Violet's taking a page from my book.*

*I don't think that new bible-thumper is around and he's likely going to head up any problems so this might head things off.*

James squeezed V's hand in support.

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"For one, I have no problem with you, Violet. As far as I'm concerned, we are good. People here hate me and mine too. I'm working on it. So are you. Give this place some time were it is less like a camp and more like a home, and you'll see things change."

"And, if they don't, you can always join my crew out on the road, the five of you."

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Myfwany blinked at Violet, a little surprised. But then again, she hadn't really been in on a lot of things, she supposed.

"I've got nothing personally against you, or the club," she said mildly. "And if your abilities make me uneasy sometimes, well, bear in mind that all of our abilities make me uneasy. Including my own. So you're in good company."

She smiled, then looked at Fox.

"I do have a question for you though. If this proposal you're going to make is for the entire Refuge, and you're looking for varied viewpoints...why are there only 'enhanced' people here? Some of whom, like myself, have been here quite a bit less time than most of the people out in the tents."

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"Sorry I'm late." came the cultured English drawl from the doorway. "I was a mess after the day's work, so thought I'd avail myself of a shower. Your man caught me there, but I decided to get dressed properly first." Bond was leaning against the doorjam, having clearly been listening for a couple of minutes and making little effort to hide it. With a ready smile he sauntered to a seat and relaxed, his damp hair testament to the truth of his statement as he folded his arms over his chest. He was clad in a dark green polo shirt and khaki slacks, topped off with his boots and shoulder rig for his twin pistols. Blue eyes regarded the other supers with friendly curiousity.

"So, how far have we gotten? Hope I didn't miss too much."

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"Good evening," a voice by the door said, and the assembled supers turned to see a large man enter. It was clear that he'd once carried a much larger girth. "I was surprised but pleased to recieve this invitation, Mr. Fox. I am Gerald Hoffany." He held out a hand, indicating the woman next to him who was just as tough-looking and big-boned as he. "This is Dettie, my wife."

His eyes traveled around the room, taking in the assembled supers. His and his wife's expression were pleasantly blank as they took a set of the seats.

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Dan arrives, for once not packing his rifle, and in an actually clean set of fatigues. "Sorry, been in the Pit all day, figured I needed to clean up before showin up."

His was a practiced calm, and he took a seat where he could easily see everyone, Genuinely curious to see what was said.

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He had spent the past few hours drawing up blue prints, and making sure that his Min was getting what she needed here. He was going to talk to Fox some more about his plans. When he walked in he set down the blue prints for, a power plant using the river, a basic water treatment plant, a water system, and and power grid. They were basic boiler plate papers to him. The size and scale changed but nothing much else.

"Fox, and you good people. Some of you I know. Most of you I don't. I don't have much to say here, most of I have is this. The time for fear is long past.The time to be timid is not now. The meek shall die, and the strong will live. Note I did not say the cruel, or mean. I say to you the reason I stay here is because I do not see meek people here. I will help, and work with anyone is willing to push the limits of who they are in order to build a better world."

Handing the papers to Fox. He looked about the room. He was younger than he was yesterday. It was clear to those who had already seen him clearly.

"I don't seek to have my name in history book, I seek that their is a history book."

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"Rousing speech. You would think we were about to storm Nottingham castle!"

The voice belonged to Jon who had just entered in the back. The beautiful, sad woman who had come back with him was nowhere to be seen. Jon had left her to meet people, it would do her good and lord knows she had seen alot of him. Still, it was hard not to feel at least a litle bit squemish about what lay beyond their isolated codependancy. It was only natural to respond to those feelings with a bit of humor and so Jon entered in a better mood than just about anyone had seen him in.

"Hail to the Chief." he nodded to Fox. "Wesson! Haven't seen you since Lost Bridge!" He slapped Wesson on the arm. "Glad you made it out alive...is it me or are you pulling a Benjamin Button?" he squinted his eyes a little appraising the older man who didn't look nearly as old as their first meeting. "And what's with the soliloquey?"

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Fox smiled at all the arrivals stating from time to time to the new folk wandering in that this meeting was about the future of the refuge and gathering ideas on how to make things better. As the minutes ticked by several more of the 'regular' people came in along with Fox's security chief's Markham and Ger. Once he was satisfied everyone had arrived that he was expecting he motioned to Markham to close the doors.

Getting to his feet behind the table he stood to his full height and it was apparent that he had changed in the last couple weeks. He was definitely enhanced in looks and personality. He had always been a leader, but now he was more so. He cleared his throat as the room quieted.

"Thank you all for coming. We've all been through hell and back to get to this point and we have carved out a comfortable and realatively safe spot here at the Refuge. That's all well and good, but the world isn't standing still outside of our walls and fences. Inside those walls we are growing and the refuge is changing with the influx of new folk as word spreads that we are a place of safety. As you all know I was a Captain in the US Air Force and was trained special forces, I served in leadership roles there, but after Z-day I never set out to become king and carve out my own personal fiefdom, and I certainly don't want that now. I do think strong leadership is required for survival in times like these and I think I've got what it takes, but I don't want to be king or dictator for life or any of that BS. This facility was my sworn responsibility and I made it a safe place for folk to gather and start to rebuild, but the people need to have a choice in their future and not just live here at the whim of myself or anyone else. They need to unite in common cause to rebuild civilization. I plan to speak with the people of the Refuge and make them a proposal. I want to call for a referrendum on how we should proceed. What form our governemnt should take. Who should lead it. Those here at the refuge who want to make it their home will be citizens with the full rights and responsibilities that entails."

Through his words he looked around the room making eye contact and smiling at everyone. "I will stand by the peoples choices. But before I make a proposal, I need suggestions and advice. It would be the sheerest arrogance to believe I have all the answers and don't need to look to the people for their input." He looked at Jules and smiled giving her a slight nod before going on.

"Before I open the floor for others to speak let me share a few things that I believe everyone should bear in mind as we deliberate."

"One. We are beset by threats from all sides. Some small, some large. There is a group calling themselves the RUS, Reclaimed United States. Two weeks ago they wiped out a research facility just north of us because they considered them a threat. How long before we are considered a threat as well? Sooner or later we will have to deal with them and most likely it will be to defend ourselves. There were only three survivors of Roff, and one of the officers in charge of their mission was captured and they tried to get one of our people to kill that officer because she 'knew too much'. They don't sound like friendly people to me. My point is that whatever government we form here will have to have the moral fortitude to deal with serious outside threats and the foresight to prepare for them."

"Two. We just dealt with an insane leader of a doomsday religous cult who was bent on 'finishing the Lord's work' by finishing off the human race. There will be more crazys like him." Fox gestured toward the new self appointed minister of the non-denominational church. "This man has done a great thing offering to provide spiritual guidance and lead worship. One thing I hope the people will vote on is to reject religious extremism of any kind and focus on coming together to put aside past differences and look to our future, one in which folk can choose to worship or not as they see fit."

"Three. Aside from those threats there are other more random ones out there. In New Mexico there is former prison in which the guards have turned not only the former inmates, but also any unwary survivors they can get their hands on into their own personal sex slaves. We are already planning a mission to free those slaves. The point is that there will always be things out there that may not directly concern the citizens of the Refuge, but we still might have to take action because it is the right thing to do."

"Four. There are some zombies that have mutated in Lawton. We don't know yet if that is an isolated thing, but we will have to deal with that as well and possibly with it happening everywhere. That will make survival and rebuilding more difficult. Whatever government we form, all our citizens are going to have to be able to defend themselves."

That leads me to my proposal. I would like to see us follow the Swiss model. Over there before the Z plauge, every citizen of the country put in their time serving their country and after their time of service they went back to their regular lives, but they kept their weapons and gear so that should anyone ever invade they would find the entire population of the country ready on an instant to defend their nation, and in times of war, they could be called up to serve again. I think under our current circumstances that kind of model would be very advantageous. You never know when a zombie horde will arrive at the walls after all."

Looking around at the crowd he smiled, "Well, sorry to talk your ears off, but I think that's what I needed to say. I'll open up the floor to your suggestions now."

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Dan follows along, having borne the latest news from Lawton. "The swiss model works Captain, but if we go that route, I'd say we should also have regular refresher courses, perhaps a drill here and there while this community remains small. Or perhaps you could stagger the terms of service. That way we'd always have some people under arms."

"With regards to religious tolerance, that's one of the principles the nation was originally founded on, I agree it should continue to be so.

His face darkens. "You realize that if we are to continue putting out fires as we have, things like Elijah's cult, the Prison, we will either become a major player politically, or and this may happen regardless, we will draw the ire of another large community. You mentioned the RUS and their activity. It might be wise to try diplomacy with them before things go to far and get out of hand."

"I realize I don't make policy here, but if you're going to start thinking Longterm here, then perhaps we should think about a governing body."

He looks at Fox. "I have no issues with how things are done currently, but then I'm also a military man. However there are many here that have never been in the military. The Captain here has done a remarkable job in creating a functional society here, one that allows freedoms, but yet also provides security. It is not my suggestion that he be removed as overall commander of this Community, he had the vision to found it, but perhaps it would be wise to give others a say. That's been the gist of the rumblings I've heard from time to time around here."

He knew no matter what it probably came off as him not believing in Fox, which couldn't be further from the truth.

"I've stayed here as long as I have because I believe in what he's done here, no more, no less."

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Myfwany absorbed Fox and Dan's words, and reflected on how things had changed even since she'd come to the Refuge. It was encouraging.

"I think before we start talking about Swiss models and threats, we need to start with the basics," she said. "We need to build the foundation first. We need a constitution, so everyone knows there are laws no one, absolutely no one, is above."

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Myfwany shrugged at that and looked around.

"I'm not sure. I suppose it might be good to think about who should be involved in creating a constitution, before we actually get to that point. There's a lot of interests involved, and a lot of people who'll want a say. And like it or not, we should probably have at least one lawyer involved, since any constitution will come under legal scrutiny at some point."

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"Why make a new one?It was not the constitution that failed. Sure we need to scale the political bodies to this new world order, but the core of the one we have works rather well if I do say myself."

Pausing a bit he took a glance at Dan.

"There is a a group of 2,000 people about I would say 350 miles away from us. That is a far ways, they have a damn, a rather big power source, but they need help in their own ways.A lot of it. You talk of setting up a political base, and that is the best one I have seen so far. They have 10 times the people we do ant a resource we could never hope to match without a lot of time and resources. I know put out fires is a good thing, but maybe building a fire house is better?"

He move towards Jon. He spoke in a soft tone.

"You made a big mistake back there, I am not angry with you about it. I am going to say this, don't do shit like that again."

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Only Priest and the Doctor answered to my question. The rest must be just talk and rumors I guess

Violet didn't want to push the matter but she had to make sure before she shared her own thoughts on the Captain's speech. Her eyes wandered briefly over their faces as she spoke, "I don't feel comfortable with an open election. What I'm trying to say is - I don't think that everyone should be able to run for office. How do you want to make sure that a potential candidate has really only the best interest for the community in mind? Right now I think you're doing a great job, Captain. If there was an election I'd give you my vote but what if someone else got elected? Someone that managed to get more votes but is unsuitable to lead this community? Someone like me, for instance?", she raised an eyebrow letting that question hang for just a second in the air before she continued.

"Those are just my thoughts on it, mustn't necessarily be right or good. Most of what Dan said I would agree on, though. Having that said I'd like to add or offer two more things. First, if you don't mind.", she was looking at the Captain and Jules in particular, "I want to put my abilities to your best benefit. I'm not a psychoanalyst but I do get a very good impression about someone's intentions and motives. I'd like to offer help as your counselor, Captain. And if you're not around then I'd assist Jules of course. Second, and I'm going to repeat this just for once - I asked earlier if you had any issues with me or James. IF so, speak your mind now because I very much like to settle any problems you may have with us. I'm tired of the prejudice. Thanks."

Violet nodded at the table and rested her hands on James' shoulders giving him a gentle massage to keep herself calm.

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Hettie spoke up. "Well, not everyone believed the Constitution was infalliable. That's a kind of faith that I myself didn't have in it." She gave a wry smile. "I feel that we could improve it, especially for a group as small as our own. We might grow, but it won't be fast."

She glanced at her husband, as if passing a baton, and it was he who looked to Violet and James. "The problems that our church and much of our community have with you and James, Violet, cannot be resolved by talk. Only by action. Yours. Your club, your lifestyle are detriments to this community. Knowing that Mr. Fox has allowed you to continue as you have makes me believe that if I asked for making polygomous relationships illegal, I'd be ignored. I'm not speaking of them being immoral, but of them being illogical now for our ravaged world. Resources need to be shared, and that includes our most precious resource - people."

He boldly looked the two of them in the eyes, his gaze flickering from her to him, even if he couldn't see it. "Those are the issues, so you can see that talking about them won't help."

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Priest looks over his shoulder to the humans in the crowd.

"Gerald, Hettie - there is an aspect of this that you may be ignoring. There are two communities here. Us nomads, who need a base to go to and unwind from time to time, and you settled folk, who need more of a structured legal environment."

"For some time to come, you are going to need us traders and travelers to find you stuff, and trade your goods for other goods along the dangerous roadways. Allow us our customs, as loose as they are, and we'll happily trade with you. Shut down our liberties and most of us will go elsewhere. Less trade means less prospertiy. No community porduces everything it needs."

"Besides, if you are going to spread your way of life, you need the nomads to spread the word and show the rest of the world how well you doing. We aren't going to need laws. We are developing our own customs, not that we don't want to help out, but we divide resources our own way, not yours. If Bond wants a Bond-Girl in evey port, he's allowed," Priet grins, winking at Bond.

As to the matter at hand, I suggest something akin the the American Indian setting. You have a Peace Chief, a War Chief, and a Medicine Chief. Peace Chief rules the communities and handles things like diplomacy, panting, and trade treaties. War chief commands during times of conflict, trains the military, and keeps charge of the nuclear missles. They are his problem and no others."

"Medical Chief handles sickness, health, well-being, education, and all things Zombie related. If sickness of some kind breaks out, the Medicine Chief is in charge.

"The three advise and consult one another at all times, which each one having their own sphere of influence."

Looking to Fox,

"That way you control your old job and don't have to think about giving it up. You are obviously War Chief until you pass it on. I don't think you want to final authority in the community anyway."

"Peace Chief should be somebody the community respects and shouldn't be somebody in this room."

Looking to Gerald,

"Serperation of Church and State, though feel free to campaign for somebody. This is still America!"

"The Medical Chief should be chosen amongst all our medical professionals, which I think numers two right now."

"There you have it. The guy or gal who rules the most is popularly elected. The War chief rules until he retires, but doesnt' rule that often, and only when war arises. His successor is chosen by the previous Warchief, or by a decision amongts his senior officers if he dies prematurely. The Medical Chief is a meritocracy."

"Have I left anything out?"

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"That's a slippery slope though," Myfwany points out. "Are we going to tell people who they can and can't sleep with? The next step after that is mandated sex for the purpose of child rearing. In short, I think talk, real constructive talk is -exactly- what's needed for this sort of thing."

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James shrugged and said, "Talking is *much* better than the alternatives, and logic doesn't have a lot to do with relationships. And you're right, just like everyone else from the beginning of time, we'd resist any laws telling us who we can and can't sleep with. Law is ultimately about what we're willing to tell people to do at gun point, and mandating relationships at gun point is wrong."

"Worrying about someone else's sex life is very natural, very human, and very often a waste of time. I have a permanent relationship with four women. I'm not forcing anyone to do anything and everyone involved is an adult. I know they'd object strongly to being 'shared' and that's not a road we to want to go down anyway."

"What I'd like to do is get married to each of them, but even if the community says 'no' you should understand I already am married where it counts."

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Fox stood back up for a moment drawing silence again, "Yes, this is a constitutional convention, that was my purpose in calling this meeting. We need not only a constitution but also a Bill of Rights. The old ones were good but not perfect, and under the present circumstances not everything in them will apply or be appropriate."

Fox smiled ruefully, "Before the Z-plague folk used to joke about how great things would be without any lawyers... who'd have thought we'd want one now. No, I'm afraid I don't know of any lawyers or judges that survived."

"Violet brings up an excellent point about our new government needing to take into account new folk like us. Violet has talents that can be put to use to help make sure no one out only for self advancement can win election. How can that be used is another question that needs to be addressed. But it also brings up another point that ties in with what Hettie and Priest said too. One thing that needs to be in our bill of rights is legal definition of who is a citizen and what rights and responsibilities a citizen has in the community and to it. We cannot allow a government to be set up that will force anyone into a form of slavery whether it be reproductive slavery bearing young to repopulate the earth or functional slavery forcing someone to work at manual labor because they have the strength of ten men. Nor can we allow serfdom where people are not allowed to move freely about the country. We face challenges unlike mankind has every faced, but we can't let ourselves fall into old or barbaric practices in the name of necessity."

Looking directly to Violet, "One of the reasons I specifically asked you and James to attend tonight is because we need to address the morale problem that you to have caused over the last couple weeks since you became a couple so to speak." Fox looked at Hettie and Gerald, "I won't be part of any community that mandates moralistic laws about personal conduct choice of who you can and cannot sleep with." Looking back to Violet and James, "On the other hand, your non-traditional family unit to put it in the best terms, has caused a definite hit to the communities morale and something needs to be done about that. It's all good to say, we won't legislate morals, but it's another to allow a situation that actually causes fights and hurts the community that we are trying to rebuild."

Addressing himself to Violet rather than James, "Violet, perceptions about your club and its purpose have been part of the problem, but that will be eased or eliminated when you open for business and folk realize it won't be some 'den of inequity.' It would also help if people realized that the club has been built entirely with your own resources that you gathered or paid for, same goes for the labor, no one in the community has put in one single minute into it's construction that wasn't paid for by you." Fox looked to the rest of the folks in the room. "Please spread the word about that. I've heard the grumblings about how the community can build a Saloon but can't build a school. That's not the case and I don't want to hear that talk any more. Violet built that club and I allowed her to build it because I thought it would help morale here. This last week 'The community' has started to build things and the first things I ordered built were walls, a school, and a library. Now that we as a community are working for a future, that is the legacy I want to leave, but the business about Violet's is nonsense."

Looking back to Violet and James again, "Hattie has it right though. If you two and the sisters want to be part of the community and be accepted you need to get out and work for the community and put your skills to good use side by side with the other citizens. Until now you've been mostly working toward your own benefit by building the club and I allowed that because I thought it would benefit morale, but I think you should both consider spending a good chunk of your time on the other things that can help the community."

"James. Until such time as we do hold elections, I am the law in these parts as the old saying goes. Your actions on the mission to Elijah's caused direct harm to another. I've been petitioned to pass judgment against you for that. In light of what I've just said and after discussion with the man you almost killed, I sentence you to two weeks of community service, and you will not be allowed to join our next expedition." Fox held up a hand that James could not see to forestall protest and continued quickly before anyone could speak. "It is an empty threat since I can't force you to accept the judgment short of threat of exile, but if you do want to be part of the community and start to change their perceptions of you, then I suggest you accept it. It will be a good opportunity for you to get to know folks and them to know you in return. A little mutual respect built through community service would go a long way."

"That brings me to another point that our old constitution didn't address well. Punishment for crimes. There are too few people in this world to be executing them for crimes committed unless those crimes are so heinous that their continued presence might cause strife and destabilize our society. On the other hand sitting around in prison being fed for free by the hard working citizens is not an option either. I would like to see something like the oldtime prison system where those convicted of crimes worked and did something useful while serving their sentence. Those who harm the community should earn their way back in through that hard work. If they are going to be allowed to live after committing serious crimes like murder or rape then it can't be as free citizens. They will need to earn their food just like anyone else by working in the fields or at hard labor building things."

"Lastly, yes, I do want to hold an election and if I am not elected to lead the community then so be it, the people need to have a voice and even though I formed this refuge and got us to this point I can't truly lead if people only follow me through fear of exile. I want a united community focused on a goal behind me or I'd rather not lead at all. Anything less would be wasting my time and yours."

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Walker appeared suddenly, and silently, at the door in the back of the room, and just as quickly moved off to one side, taking a position along the back wall. He'd arrived late because he'd still been inbound from a scouting sweep along the opposite bank of the Red River, following it upriver to where it flowed between the towns of Thackerville and Gainsville. Zombie activity was light for the most part, but there was a noticeable bottleneck effect taking place where the 35 crossed over the Red River, and the north bank, on the Thackerville side, looked even worse.

It wasn't a major concern, since the horde as a whole didn't seem to be moving in any specific direction, and even if the entire lot of them decided to make for Fox's today it would still likely take as long as a week or two for them to reach the Refuge, as slow as they moved. Still, he'd heard about a planned trip to Dallas sometime soon, and seeing as the 35 was the most likely route to take (in a pre-Plague world), he'd have to advise the foraging party of the hazard and suggest an alternate route. There was a bridge about 10 miles west that could be reached via the 32, and once they'd crossed there they could take backroads almost all the way down to Dallas if they liked, and that was what Walker would most likely suggest. Assuming they didn't already know about the best routes of course; he was the new guy here, after all, but if they were going to hire him to be a perimeter guard and scout then he'd have to start doing his job somewhere.

Listening to the conversation taking place in the meeting room, Walker wasn't sure why he'd even been called. He could tell by the relatively small crowd, and the topic of conversation, that this was some kind of meeting of the minds to decide the direction of the Refuge. Why would they want him here? He'd only arrived a few days ago, and was still little more than a hired grunt working out in the trenches. All of the scientists he'd brought here seemed like much better candidates for a meeting like this to him.

Walker had the feeling that he'd been invited simply because he was 'enhanced' (as Kiet liked to call it). He found the attitude towards 'his kind' here at the Refuge to be a bit odd. At Roff, he'd been the only enhanced there, and while he'd been extremely well paid for his services, at the end of the day they'd still treated him like just an employee. Here, he was treated like a VIP simply for being able to count to twenty without taking his shoes off. He shrugged mentally. People were different everywhere you went, it seemed.

He settled himself against the wall in preparation for what sounded like it was going to be a long and rather high-minded debate, and hoped it wouldn't take too long to wrap itself up. He still needed to prepare for that class Jules wanted him to teach; it could take hours to track down a suitable white-tail, and he wanted to get started by early evening at the latest.

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