1 pm EST, Friday, April 3rd, 2131, New York

Sven had invited the editorial team for lunch, knowing that Jocelyn would be in New York with Ferdinand during the plenary. And Slavica, of course. Like almost the entire human race, they had spent the morning glued to the newswires, but with a closer interest than many!

Now they sat around a table in the Plaza's over-the-top belle epoque restaurant, sipping champagne.

"I have never been so scared," said Jocelyn. "He told me about it last night at the hotel before he went out to testify at the tribunal for the warrants. That bit didn't bother me, I mean he was going to be in his office when the operation started and it was so well planned. No, it was this morning. I was in the public gallery when he stood up. Anything could have happened. All the members had their heads buried in their machines, at first, trying to absorb what they'd been given. Nearly five thousand case files plus 200 gigs of Slavica's JIRS, and they were supposed to approve it all by lunchtime. They weren't expecting it, and they were, I don't know, not exactly resentful, but not wanting hassle on the second day of a Plenary. It's when they all have breakfast, lunch and dinner with each other. You could feel a sort of impatience with the situation. But then when he started to speak, gradually, one by one the heads came up and they started listening. After ten minutes I knew it would be OK."

"What did happen last night," asked John. "Does anyone know?"

"Sure," said Slavica, "I was in the office with Ferdinand and Frans, installing JIRS. It was fairly calm, actually; they were completely taken by surprise. I mean, just a few hours before the Assembly had given two years for development of JIRS, so they must have thought they had all the time in the world. Most of them were in bed in their pajamas. There were half a dozen who tried to tough it out, but with the new troopers they didn't stand a chance. No-one got killed, or even badly injured. And Frans said they were pulling in unbelievable amounts of weaponry, all illegal of course, vast piles of cash, and most important of all, files. Lots of them were amazingly casual, lists of who was paid what, where it came from. They were so over-confident; how could they imagine after all those hundreds of years they were going to get busted? Truck-loads of stuff were rolling into police HQ all night, apart from what's in the cloud. It's going to take weeks to sort it out. But Frans already had enough on them to get the tribunal referrals. The rest of it is icing on the cake. Frans should be here any minute, actually. I thought you wouldn't mind if I asked him, Sven, he's done such an incredible job for Ferdinand in the last six months."

And at that moment they saw the tall figure of Ferdinand walking briskly through the entrance doors, with the diminutive Frans trailing behind. There was a buzz as people recognized him, then as he approached their table people began to get up and applaud. By the time he had reached the table the entire restaurant was on its feet, clapping and cheering as if the Mets had won the Superbowl. For a moment he stood, embarrassed, not knowing how to respond, but in the end just waved vaguely in a few different directions, and sat down awkwardly in Slavica's chair. Servitors rushed up to add seats and settings to the table, pouring champagne.

"There's your answer," said Sven to Jocelyn. "She said you made her nervous this morning."

"Anything makes Jocelyn nervous," said Ferdinand. "I don't know how she gets through the day."


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