Arbitration and Reconciliation

Arbitration and Reconciliation by David Macfie

Jamie rose early the following day. He wanted to go over his plan of action and check that all of the infrastructure was up and running. He tried to be quiet but Jenny woke up anyway.

“Feeling a bit nervous are you?” she asked with an impish smile.

“You could say that,” admitted Jamie, with a lopsided grin that looked a bit strained at the edges.

“I’ll fetch you coffee while you get your thoughts in order,” offered his wife, with a tender grin of her own. “But, just relax and be yourself. You’ll be fine.”

She set off for the kitchen while Jamie sat at his laptop and looked through his notes. He’d memorized the main points so he was using this as a final edit, checking order and content rather than trying to remember detail. He’d made a presentation of cue cards to give his audience visuals instead of just his face. He planned to alternate between himself, the cards and video material from Androm itself. He’d also included the scientific discoveries that had led the Taurians to conclude that their home planet was threatened with destruction on a grand scale. He made a few minor changes to his content and one switch in the sequence before he was satisfied.

Somewhere in the middle of all this Jenny brought the coffee and sat quietly beside him as he worked. Once he was done he turned to her.

“Will you please go through this with me and tell me what you think?” he looked at her, a little anxiously, while she sipped coffee before replying. She let the moment stretch before grinning, mischievously.

“I’m just messing with your head, so relax. Of course I’ll have a look.”

He laughed. “I owe you one,” he replied before taking his ‘battle plan’ to the start again. He always worked stuff like this out as if a battle was in the offing and paid attention to the smallest details. Jenny couldn’t add anything to the content or the sequence, but did make some suggestions relating to his wording when he presented his material to the other leaders. He took all her suggestions on board and promised to make his delivery smoother and more chatty, rather than formal and stiff. She also suggested he ask questions before he began to get a sense of the attitudes in his audience. He thought that was a good idea also and understood that the answers he received could make a difference to his presentation. Once they were done with that, the pair made for the control deck, where they found the commander and the other Taurian leaders.

“Good morning Jamie and Jenny,” greeted the commander jovially. “We take it that you are ready, willing and able for this challenge today. Yes?”

“Good morning, gentlemen. I think so after a helpful review with Jenny, but, if I may, I’d like to run through everything with your technicians to make sure the show is not going to give me grey hair anywhere.”

“Of course, Jamie. Feel free. I thought you’d ask for this, given your attention to detail in the past. I told the guys to expect you.”

“Thanks,” replied Jamie, briefly, already focused on his next task. He wandered off towards the Technical working area, while Jenny chatted to the leaders. The commander confirmed that he’d spoken to the leaders of the twenty five ships and prepared them for the day. Now all was in the hands of Jamie and his team. After about half an hour Jamie returned.

“Right. Everything’s sorted and I’m starving so let’s eat. Gentlemen, we’ll see you in the hall half an hour before kick-off. OK?”

All the leaders concurred and Jamie and Jenny left for breakfast.

The team arrived on time and a final run through was done so everybody knew exactly what was going to happen and what was expected of each and every one of them. Finally, it was show time. Jamie stood at the podium and watched the big screens come to life. The smaller one showed him and behind him the Taurian commanders and the members of his team. The larger was divided into twenty six numbered boxes, the first one was highlighted and currently showed the same image as the smaller screen. Jamie knew that the highlight would always be on for the ship group that was enlarged onto the first screen. Patiently he watched as the images of the groups from ships two to twenty six gradually lit up. As soon as the last one was visible, Jamie began.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am Jamie Calhoun, the leader of the humans on ship one of the twenty six that are represented here today. On the divided screen you should be able to see your group in a numbered box. The number is the sequence in which these ships visited earth. Before we go further I would like to ask the human leaders a few questions. First, how much do you know of the background to what has happened to you?” Type your answer into the laptop in front of you. Make it as short as possible.”

Very quickly a box opened on the first big screen showing the summary of answers. It showed a unanimous result of ‘nothing’.

“Thank you. I will solve that problem as my first agenda item. Second, I believe that the relationships between your groups and the Taurian crews on your ships have broken down. Is this true?”

A unanimous ‘yes’ showed in the results box.

“Good, then we have a serious problem to resolve. Before I continue I’d like to give you my first piece of good news. The Taurians have agreed to repatriate any of your team members who wish to return to earth once the process we have begun today has been concluded. We will talk about the mechanics of that if or when it is required. This agreement had been accepted by each ship’s commanders and it will be honored. My third question – is the relationship breakdown irretrievable?”

The response box showed five answers of ‘yes’, four of ‘probably”, five of ‘don’t know’ and the remainder of ‘not necessarily’. Jamie took a moment to study the answers.

“I will repeat this question and ask you to answer it again once I have given you some more good news. Agreement has been reached to remove all surveillance devices from your quarters this will happen while we are busy with this conference. Further, each of you will, with immediate effect, become members of the command structure of your ship. All decisions affecting the humans in your teams will be discussed with you from now on. And no decisions or actions will be taken without the support of you and your team members. You will become allies with the Taurians rather than prisoners. I have to tell you that these steps have been taken on ship one and are working well. Now before I repeat the third question, I must brief you in response to the ‘nothing’ answer to my first question.”

For the next twenty minutes Jamie took the leaders through the background of the threat to Taurus, the decision to terraform Androm and the difficulties encountered including the too slow rate of progress.

“And so the Taurians found themselves between a rock and a hard place,” continued Jamie. “They desperately need more skilled people and they didn’t have them because of their reducing birth rates. In parallel with all that I have just told you, the Taurians have, for several hundred years, been scouring the universe for signs of sentient life. In all that time, they only found one place that had such life – earth. For many years they studied us and the more they learnt, the more they realized that we had the attributes they’d been looking for. They made a bold decision to identify people with the right skill sets, attitudes and adventurism, and then bring them to Androm to assist in the creation of a new world for both Taurians and humans to colonize. I have had many discussions on their abduction method of fetching their chosen people and have stressed that humans, in general, who have been treated like that will react badly. The Taurians have realized that they were wrong and are taking steps in this regard. But these steps are too late for those represented here. Also you need to know that there aren’t just twenty six ships in this project. There are three hundred and fifty, of which more than ninety have already turned around and are headed back to Androm. Every day another ship reaches earth to collect ten more people.”

Jamie had to pause because this information caused pandemonium. All twenty five leaders jumped to their feet, shouting abuse and shaking their fists. Jamie watched them quietly and patiently until one-by-one they subsided.

“I felt exactly the same when I was told,” he sympathized. “I couldn’t believe that something so callous could be contemplated. But I had one advantage over you. By the time I was told this, our relationship with the Taurians was on a solid footing. We had become allies. We were part of the decision making process and all of us were already working on the Androm project. We knew everything that was happening on the project, we were involved in it and something unexpected happened. We found that humans and Taurians make very good teams. We bring out the best in each other for some reason that we haven’t yet been able to understand. Already humans have made great contributions to this effort and all the members of my team see this as an opportunity to do something they’ve always dreamed of rather than a threat to be avoided. One other thing that the Taurians have arranged for us and will arrange for you is regular communications with family and friends back on earth. All of us have seen and spoken often in this way. Finally, I would like to say that my team and I now count the Taurians on ship one as friends and allies. We like and respect each other and work hard together. We also socialize on special occasions. We are jointly committed to saving the Taurian civilization. I will give you five minutes to think about this new information then I will return to question three.”

Jamie stood patiently waiting. He carefully watched the other leaders. They all seemed to be thinking carefully and, for that, he was grateful. He hoped they were considering his words rationally, in spite of the anger they had displayed only moments before. On by one they straitened in their seats and he saw that they were ready.

“So I ask once more. In view of what I have old you – is the relationship breakdown irretrievable?”

Jamie waited with bated breath and let it out explosively when the response box showed twenty five variations of “we are prepared to talk about it.”

“I am exceedingly happy with this response,” he said, with absolute sincerity. “Thank you for your open-mindedness. I am confident that none of you will regret it. Our plan now is to divide the twenty five into seven smaller groups each of which will have more detailed discussions with allocated members of my team. Here is the breakdown. Have a look and I’ll take questions before we split up. We will break for lunch at one and resume at two. There will be a wrap up session at three thirty so that you can get to your exercise sessions at four.”

When the wrap session began, Jamie shared the feedback reports he had received from each group. The reports indicated who was prepared to go to the next step and who wasn’t. Overall Jamie was pleasantly surprised. Fifteen of the twenty five leaders had agreed to proceed – better than could have been hoped. Only two women had refused, together with three men from the group facilitated by George, Peter and Richard. Jamie’s group had all refused, which wasn’t really a surprise since they were the most aggressive from the start.

“From tomorrow, we will move to the next step with all of you who have agreed to do so,” announced Jamie. There will be two groups. Amy and Gillian will facilitate the first consisting of the four who agreed from their initial groups together with the members of Elizabeth’s group. The second group will be facilitated by Jenny, Elizabeth and Laura. It will contain the initial members from the groups of Jenny and Laura together with the two males who agreed to go forward. The initial sessions tomorrow for these groups will be to plan the way forward in the ships managed by these leaders, starting with a full briefing of the humans on each of these ships. Are there any questions from those of you that I have covered already?”

“All the changes you mentioned in your opening remarks, will they be actioned on all twenty five ships or only on those that have leaders who have agreed to move forward?” asked a woman, whom Jamie recognized as Megan Flannagan, leader of the humans on ship eighteen on his list.

“Good question, Megan,” he replied, causing a flurry of surprise from the leaders by using her name. I will state quite clearly that the changes will take place on all ships and actually should have been completed already. If there are any problems, relay them to me and I will ensure they are sorted out as soon as possible. Any more questions?”

“Does that include our assignments to the relevant working groups on Androm?” asked Rory MacDonald one of the males who hadn’t agreed. He was the leader in ship three.”

“Yes it does, Rory. You will further opportunity to ask all your other questions tomorrow when you work with me and the others who still have issues. Are there any more questions?” There was a second ripple of surprise at the use of Rory’s name but no more questions.

“Needless to say,” continued Jamie. “The ten individuals, who chose not to move forward will continue with discussions around their problem areas. That group will be facilitated by Brian, George, Robert, Peter and myself. Thank you all for your participation today. I think we have made good progress and I have every confidence that all issues can and will be addressed. I’ll see you all same time, same place tomorrow. Have a great evening.”

The big screens winked out and Jamie went quickly to thank the technicians and have them send thank you messages to their colleagues on the other ships. He also asked that a transcript of all his opening remarks be forwarded into the personal laptops of all the leaders and to the computers in the training areas. Then he returned to his team and the Taurian leaders.

“Well done, everybody,” he congratulated his team. “You did a great job today. I didn’t expect such a good result.”

“Your intro helped a lot,” said Laura, to the head nods of the others. “Most of my group were already sold before I said a word.”

“It was a great team effort all round,” remarked Komando-Ka. “Once more you humans have demonstrated clearly why you will be so good for our survival possibilities.  We thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts.”

And on that note of resounding hope, the meeting concluded.