Kylantil, Kylan, 39th Nivos 997.

Senator Esfas taps the end of the strip of fairy lights as Senator Devig carefully balances herself on a stool so she can finish putting them up. “And these are going to be taken down on the second of Pluvos?”

Losyrki Devig sighs, her hand hesitating beside an unlit bulb. “It’s snowing, Alir. It’ll still be snowing in three days. Snow all piled up against the windows and no lights to keep us happy, is that what you want?”

“I want parliament to get on with work is what I want.”

She shrugs and continues hanging the wires across the doorframes. Alir Esfas continues on his way to look at some paperwork, bundling his grey coat around him even though Tower Hall’s heating system received enough funding this year to keep everyone warm.

She steps down, but before she can inspect her handiwork, her name is called.

“Senator Devig! You’ve got briefing notes in from Une,” Losyrki’s assistant, Osi, waves to her, clutching a stack of paper wrapped in a bright blue ribbon.

She doesn’t look round. “Give me an overview. Main points I need to deal with, which I’ll deal with later.”

“Okay. So tomorrow there’s the vote on the post-Democracy Day security laws, that’s what Esfas is worried about, ‘cos his party is supporting them but he thinks it’s gonna cause problems for citizen action.”

“That’s good, isn’t it? Don’t we want to protect the government?”

“Syrki! You haven’t made your decision yet? Union is opposing the law. You can’t go against your party with nobody to back you up.”

Losyrki flicks the switch and steps back as the bulbs glitter into light, bright colours splashing across the pale orange of the fourteenth floor walls. “I’ve been busy, and I won’t be at the vote. What’s it matter what Une thinks?”

Osi shakes her head. It’s not even worth answering – after all, in these times when the party is facing more and more pressure to reconsider its warm approach to what’s become known as “the Tregrihi problem”, their party needs all the unity it can find to survive.

Besides, Une’s decision agrees with Losyrki’s impulse to resist change. Tower Hall has only been compromised once in five hundred and fifty years, hasn’t it? Is this vote even worth the hassle of setting up a proxy?

“What do the constituents say?”

“I can’t do your job for you, Syrki. Ask them yourself.”

It’s moments like these that remind Losyrki what she hired Osi for. She considers. If she forgoes this vote, will there be backlash? Will there be significant backlash?

“Osi, you know I won’t be here, right? Anything else I need to worry about?”

“Syrkk, somebody has to do your job. And yes, you’ll have to be at the presentation for the new police chief on the second.”

“That’s still Mike Ryril, right? I hate that guy.”

“Well, who have you got with the same experience?”

The senator tuts and disappears into her office, checking her boarding pass again. She has a few hours before she needs to make her way to the airport, and some time there to spend deliberating. Osi drops the briefing papers next to her door and wanders in search of rationality.

Cautiously dipping her feet into the murky pool of the airport waiting area, Losyrki finally forces herself to scan through her briefing notes.

  • Vote: Government Security Reform

It’s hard to resist the temptation to prevent another Democracy Day, but has anything really changed because of it? Eight new laws were unintentionally (and unfortunately legally) introduced by public vote, but they’d all since been nullified, if not outright repealed. The exception was the one about cafés being kept open all the time, which remained in place despite vast industry outcry. That was something that should be fixed, thought Losyrki. There must be a way to keep the rule but stop the rampant vandalism and bankruptcy.

A Union report tells her that a worse “attack” on the government headquarters at Tower Hall shouldn’t be possible, and that Democracy Day only happened because the hijacker was so restrained. More on-site security is the answer, not new legislation, and especially not legislation which would reduce citizens rights’ and increase fears about the safety of Kylan as a whole.

That was easy.

  • Event: new police chief welcoming

Of course, in eight months nobody had managed to make any progress with figuring out who the interceptor was, and so the previous police chief had resigned in despair. A new one had been chosen and, yet again, Losyrki would have to pretend to show her support for him. No wonder nobody trusts politicians.

  • Discussion: measures against extremist groups

Meanwhile, a recent report from the Kylantil Daily Record warned of “so-called” political activism groups with potentially nastier goals that have been springing up in some parts of the country. They’re supposedly targeting youths with a distaste for authority and radicalising them. To what end, Losyrki isn’t sure, but Union thinks the ever-lowering support for the government is a problem. Their potential solutions range from giving advice in schools to starting a scheme to fund pro-government films. In other words, propaganda. Where do you draw the line?

  • Request for funding: Seluam project

And then there’s this woman who wants to send a party to support the Seluam. A tiny country south of Tregrihi that turned on its government and became an anarchist state, except they chose to do that, and they chose to suffer the consequences. Given recent events, if Kylan was seen to support that kind of lawlessness, it could be a disaster beyond what would happen to whoever was mad enough to join the trip. The plan is batshit idealism and Losyrki isn’t sure it should even be given a chance.

She puts her notes down and looks around her at the chaos of impatience. Someone throws a payphone at the floor while another shouts at the surrounding staff.

Just as she’s about to give in and get back to the drudgery of government work, a jingle over the tannoy announces the distraction she’s been desperate for. A mingled subset of those in the waiting zone pick up their bags and hurry to the gate, determined to finally be taken where they want to go.

After a little more time in a queue, Losyrki is led outside, away from the warmth of the airport terminal and onwards through the grey void to where the plane awaits her.

To be continued.

Update (2019-02-07): Corrected a timing error in the second paragraph.