Bertrina could not remember falling asleep again. She had woken to an empty room. Plel Harkoff and his bed had been removed, and the cloudy glass in the white door had become dark. As Bertrina straightened in her chair, the door opened, and The Minister stepped through the frame.
Bertrina stumbled onto her feet, legs jellied and her vision still warm and blurry, “Sir.”
“Hello Bertrina,” the Minister squinted, stumbling slightly. “It’s very bright in here! I forget how illuminated these rooms are!”
“You have a report for me, don’t you,” The Minister moved into the room, and stood in the centre.
“This is it,” Bertrina presented the manila folder with great deliberation, partly because it had begun to feel heavy, partly because she feared The Minister wouldn’t see it.
The file moved into his hands, and he browsed it’s contents briefly.
“Thank you for this, I find it important to get second opinions from sources I know I can trust,” he smiled.
“It was no trouble, but I was very disturbed with the findings,” Bertrina’s eyes searched the man for an explanation.
“You were disturbed?”
“And Harkoff started telling me things about how the Ministry uses its aides.”
“Harkoff told you things, did he?” The man simply gazed flatly back, before something in him twinged.
“I’m very sorry you had to become caught up in this, but I’m testing you as much as Harkoff. Over these past months, I have slowly deposed Ragzin of his position of power in Nela. The very real threat that presented itself to Malasrion warranted the co-operation of it’s two states, and the surest way to defend Malasrion was to let Nela’s fish rot from it’s head. I now have complete control over Nela, and now have a legitimate strategy to defend our innocence from the Gremanese. I have inhereted a legacy from Ragzin, and the powers I have acquired from him have exposed practices and actions that would shock most.
“Ragzin was a dictator, Bertrina, he collected rich and powerful people into his pocket, and he paid off councils and towns and families to appease and prevent protest. Many, and most believe his rise to power through the politicians his late father left behind ushered in some new era of social stability. My experience with the Gremanese question we were posed with twenty years ago tells me Nela was moving into dangerous territory. But as I said before, this was not why I usurped his seat.
“The immense power over Nela allowed him to conceal many secrets from its citizens. The greatest of all the secrets he kept was that of the developments he produced from immense investment he made in the Nelen scientific community. The hidden resources he channelled into their laboratories has yielded answers to ancient questions that had never yet been answered. They have also produced amazing innovations such as those being used in this very room, and thousands more. The pills that are unmentioned anywhere in the report the department made on your behalf are Ragzin’s. The vast majority of Ragzin’s secretly commissioned discoveries are terrible weapons of sick design, and the chemicals contained in those pills are a perfect example of such horrible results.
“Ragzin’s discoveries are quite possibly the most important thing ever to have happened in the history of Nela, and most definitely of Jardenia. They yield the potential strategic edge we need over the Gremanese, and in this context I find it necessary to reject one part of Ragzin and embrace another.”
“This is incredible. The entire time I have spent in this room has totally changed everything. Am I to believe governments merely exist to be exploited? Lives born to be ruined? Is everyone just playing a game, totally unawares? I know the Gremanese draw knives, but don’t you feel Ragzin’s hand guiding yours? Wasn’t it Ragzin’s fault we’re all facing such evil? Tell me how you can do this, sir, tell me this is all a dream, and that we won’t reduce ourselves to abusing our own, let alone destroy another race!” Bertrina raged.
The Minister looked down at the file in his hands.
“I don’t know what your mother told you when you were a child,” he looked up at her now, locking eyes. “But I know they were all lies.”