Thrrivel waited anxiously for the meeting to start. He glanced around the room, noting that just about everyone else was also somber and, if he was reading them right, a bit uneasy. Only Lavner was talking, having cornered Preena and Yarzil in the corner. Regaling them with the same tired stories, no doubt, or bragging about the latest exploits of his darling granddaughter. Like no other kid on the planet had ever quite figured out how to walk. Normally everyone else did their best to ignore his blather, to avoid him as politely as possible, to excuse themselves with mumbled apologies. Late for a meeting, Lavner, sorry, gotta run.
But today, Thrrivel noticed as he glanced around the room, everyone seemed intent on Lavner’s convesation. It was no wonder, either. An emergency assemblage, top secret. There hadn’t been a need for anything like this in at least the past thirty-two years since Thrrivel had been serving as Suzerain of Housing. Probably longer. Why would the Triumvirate call such a meeting? Surely it was the question that was burning in the back of the mind of every man and woman in this room. That was why most of them could think of nothing to do but to listen distractedly to Lavner’s ramblings.
Lavner was Legate of Exploration, a laughable position left over from an older time. Doubtless there could have been found a man of higher competence than Lavner if anyone took the job seriously. Thrrivel wondered why the position was still a formal part of the government.
A part of Lavner’s conversation caught his ear. “… emergency, but I told, him, no, it can’t be, run diagnostics on your equipment.” Thrrivel’s head snapped up and rotated around to stare at Lavner, mirroring the rest of the ministers in the room. Had Lavner been talking about something important this whole time?
“It’s already been done, he said, and so naturally I took this information immediately to Triumvir Opsnil, and well, you can guess that he wasted no time in calling this meeting. But what can be done? We can sit around all day pressing our thumbs into our temples, but what will happen can’t be stopped.”
Thrrivel noticed that his mouth was hanging open. He quickly closed it. What was it? What had he missed? He was on the verge of pushing back his chair to get up and join Lavner when the council doors opened and the Triumvirate strode in. Everyone quickly took their seats.
Triumvir por Inne opened the meeting. “As most of you are by now probably aware,” he nodded toward Lavner, “we now face the most demanding challenge of our age. We only learned of the problem early this morning, and so we don’t have a complete analysis of every facet of the issue in hand, but we felt that news of this magnitude could not be kept secret from the public for long, and we wanted to present as detailed a message as possible. That is why we have called you all here. Already news of this emergency assemblage has hit the airwaves, and we have decided to make a formal announcement this evening. That doesn’t give us much time. Legate Lavner, if you will provide us a brief overview.”
Lavner stood. “Right, so I think that most of you overheard me telling Legate Preena and Suzerain Yarzil about the meteor, and as I was saying, we’ve plotted the course three different times using three different methods and there’s no denying it. It’s headed right for us.”
Thrrivel felt his insides knot up. “Have you done a damage assessment?” he asked.
Lavner look bewildered. “Damage assessment? Didn’t you hear? This is going to be a direct hit.”
“Just give me a number. What percentage of the population will survive?”
Lavner simply stared at him, his mouth open.
“I mean, which continent will it hit? Or is it going to land in the ocean? There’s a high likelihood of that, isn’t there?”
“Suzerain Thrrivel, I’m afraid you don’t grasp the magnitude of this discovery,” Triumvir por Inne said. “This will completely wipe out almost all life. Only single celled organisms are expected to survive, and not very comfortably at that.”