The dark haired, fair skinned and apparently human woman walked into the hearing room, takeaway coffee cup in hand. “Good morning, Senators.” She waved her free hand at the waiting committee and, by extension, their support staff. “I’m sorry I’m late but, as my message said, something that couldn’t be put off came up just as I was about to leave the office.”
“Ms Grendel,” the red haired, female senator from Queensland glared at her from the centre of the committee table, “as our message back to your office said, this committee hearing is your priority for today, not some nebulous matter that conveniently ‘came up’ when you were due here. Take your seat,” she indicated the seat at the table facing the committee, “and we can finally get started.”
Ms Grendel moved forward and took the indicated seat. She took a drink from her coffee and smiled.
“Is something amusing you, Ms Grendel?” The rotund Opposition senator from Western Australia was apparently one of the committee’s attack dogs.
“Well, yes, senator.” Ms Grendel continued to smile. “This committee’s attitude. You wanted to see me and it can’t be more than a meet and greet but you’re acting like I should obey you. I’m not sure why, given that you don’t pay me and don’t control my budget. You certainly have no say in my appointment.” She drank some more coffee.
“You’re the Ombudsman for this continent. You work for us.” The lean, dark haired senator from Victoria spoke quietly and the dark skinned senator from Tasmania nodded her head in agreement.
“No.” Ms Grendel disagreed and put her coffee down. “Ombudsman is a very bad translation of my actual job title. It’s more like Interface, with shades of Facilitator. Specifically the Governor’s Interface.”
“Which means?” It was the senator from Tasmania who asked the question.
“I work on his behalf, not yours. It’s in his interests to be both fair and to be seen to be fair in his governance of this world but he doesn’t have the time to be personally available to every member of a multibillion population. Hence, my function exists.” Ms Grendel shrugged. “The Governor has a lot on his plate at any given time, and some of those things are more important than the issues of the only permanently inhabited planet in the system.”
The senator from Western Australia demanded, “And what would those things be?”
“Ah,” Ms Grendel picked up her coffee again. “Those would be the Belmirin relics on Mars, the Jovian Trojan Pre-Ambric war fortresses and the seemingly randomly activating Elissil technology in the asteroid belt. All have the potential, if mishandled, to make this an uninhabited system.”
“So,” said the red-haired senator from Queensland, “you’re saying that the Governor is too busy keeping us alive to talk to us himself?”
“Partially and generally speaking, yes.” Ms Grendel took another sip of coffee.
“And if we need to talk to the Governor himself?” That was the Senator from Western Australia again.
“Oh, we have a form for that.” Ms Grendel drank some more coffee. “I can send you copies. Submission is no guarantee of receiving an interview, as certain Presidents are discovering.”
“And how do we find out more about these threats?”
Ms Grendel smiled. “There’s a form for that too.”