Vince slept restlessly, but eventually awoke before dawn to observe the meeting of the elders. After a brief morning ritual of cleanliness, Vince left his abode and still asleep wife. A figure, just outside of visibility in the predawn light loitered around a nearby tree. It approached, illumination quickly revealed it to be Carroll.

“Did you spend your night under that tree?” Vince asked, overcoming his instinctive apprehension.

“Of course not - I had more important things to do than stare at this tree.”

Vince stared into Carroll’s eyes knowingly. It looked like he hadn't slept. In their own way, each of Vince’s senses told the story of how Carroll spent his night. A vague, yet distinct scent of fuel, both burnt and raw wafted forward as Carroll drew near. Carroll’s trademark grin was dulled by more serious, more mature tones than it was when they first met. His voice was similarly affected as he quietly conveyed the events of last night.

“Fill me in while we walk.” Vince said quietly, not sure whether to approve or condemn Carroll’s behavior.

“We went by foot - some three hours going as fast as we could with the fuel and cutting torch from the workshop. You remember that cloaking device from my glider? Yeah, well, it can be used for anything in a small area, too. And there’s controls to record and project stuff too.”

Vince nodded and listened. The act didn’t surprise Vince, yet hearing the details aroused an unexpected excitement from within.

“So we got there, and I set it to replicate the image of the target - a relay station. It’s just a building densely packed with routers and stuff. Anyways, my cloak, it works kinda well from the side too-- it’s like a dome, but best from an aerial view. That got us close enough to start doing damage. The defenses on this place were surprisingly basic - pretty much just cameras. I guess the Overworld hasn't really ever had to defend it’s property before.”

Vince felt regret at not being there. Yet following Father’s example was somehow more important than expressing revenge on the Overworld.

“We just shot them out. Then came the hard part - actually damaging the place. It was just a big stone building inside of a fence. We cut off the lock on the fence and burned through the bolt locks in the door. There was just a bunch of computer stuff on the inside, like I said before. But we were all so nervous, considering that there would doubtless be… well, at least investigations on their way and worse if they actually knew what was going on.”

Father’s workshop was now in sight of the two men. A few others were already gathering - some of the other participants from last night’s escapade, Vince noticed. They were talking in a more friendly, carefree manner than what was normally warranted at this time of day. Was that laughter?

“So we went quick. Spilled the fuel all over everything we saw as quickly as we could. It was such a blur - such a rush! Someone lit it up, and we ran, still under the cover of the cloak. I came back here and kept watch all night. No way I was sleeping after that!”

Carroll wrapped up the story just as they were getting too close to the workshop to be discreet about the contents of the conversation. Not that it mattered - the group was speaking loudly enough until they were nearly joined by Vince and Carroll. How could they be careless about this? Didn’t Father instruct us to wait until the elders decided?

Vince’s thoughts evolved into words. “I hope you all know what you’re doing. Without the backing of the elders, the consequences could be… well, anything.” The words cut through tension and worry, replacing it with new questions. An awkward moment of silent contemplation rested over the group.

Carroll didn’t seem to notice, staring off into the opening of the workshop. “Father isn’t back yet?”

“No, he left with the speeder while we were out and there hasn't been any sign of him since we were with him after sundown last night. However, it is late-- err, early enough to try to get him on comms at this point.”

“Do it.” Carroll replied.

The group gathered around Vince as he manipulated ancient dials and buttons on the analog machine. It only took a moment before he was speaking into the microphone. “Father? Are you there?”

A faint static came across the speakers until Vince pressed another button. A moment passed.

“Yes. I’ll be back around the time the elders gather. That’s all for now.”

The response was terse. Vince understood there could be no coincidence that Father was out all night after what had happened. He rarely had jobs that were high enough priority to subvert the natural cycle of days.

“He knows.” Vince said, absently.

Tension and contemplation returned to the group.

“Good morning!” A newcomer approached the workshop, somewhat surprised to see Father gone and the group of men huddled together like they were. “What’s going on?” He asked innocently.

“Oh, nothing. We're just checking up on Father - he's out, but he’ll be back soon.” Vince casually replied.

The morning proceeded much differently than other mornings. Without Father, the central structure of society was missing. Yet little time was wasted. Within the hour, the elders gathered, and with them a large portion of the villagers. Among the crowd was Carroll, surrounded by the group of young men that had gone with him the night before. Vince thought it best to be a short distance away, so he settled for a front-row seat. The elders were seated, some score of them, on a quickly assembled stage.

Mattias, who often spoke for the elders, stepped forward. “We have received word that Father will return shortly. Therefore, we will postpone this meeting, in good faith that his absence is necessary, until his arrival.”

The crowd offered no qualm to the statement. Some ten minutes passed before the well known hum of father’s transport was heard. Moments later, he approached the stage and spoke. “Elders, I have been working hard since you last saw me to counteract and remedy the precarious situation that some among you have seen it fit to place us in.” He stared at Carroll, eyeing each individual who participated. “You see, although they have passion and ambition and zeal, and perhaps other admirable traits, they lack foresight and wisdom and patience, and perhaps other admirable traits. Because of this, they saw it fit to act outside of the bounds of proper planning, and could not even so much as obey my advice and instruction from last night.”

Aaron lowered his head in shame, beginning to guess at the series of events that followed the burning of the relay station.

“They went and assaulted-- no, destroyed a facility of the Overworld last night. In doing so, they have unwittingly put this village in jeopardy. For although they attempted carefulness, there is no assurance that the technology possessed by this Overworld cannot track back the events of last night back to us - to the village that has been our home for centuries.”

The crowd was stunned as Father let a profound silence drive the seriousness of the situation into each person.

“I was immediately and in real-time alerted to the various things that were destroyed by the devices I use in my work and arose from my slumber because of such. While this sequence of events was not wholly unforeseen, I thought that the clear advice I had given only hours before would be enough to at least delay this act, but it seems as if our guest Carroll has cast a spell over many of our young men.”

Many in the crowd turned to stare at Carroll. Vince remained transfixed on Father.

“Regardless, I have acted to give us some time to deliberate on our next steps. I have altered the scene of the act, and reported back that the destruction of the facility seemed to be of natural causes - A complex lie. This should be enough to prevent the immediate presence of military forces. However, there will still be an investigation into an event of this magnitude, and it is only a matter of time until the truth is uncovered. At which point I, at the very least, will be implicated and this entire village will be investigated for these crimes.”

The crowd grew anxious, cries and angry shouts were hurled at Carroll. Father continued.

“While this may look grim, I have pondered these events for several hours and concluded that there is some chance that they make no difference at all. You see, amongst the several choices that lay before us last night, this simply forces us into one of them, albeit without the elders decision. So I propose, in order to keep the peace and potentially restore Carroll’s reputation, that we have the elders deliberate and decide on our course in full knowledge of what has occurred. As such, I must point out that if we make the decision to attack the Overworld and accept the consequences, including that of becoming nomads, that such is the decision that would have been made regardless, and nothing has really changed due to the events of last night. For truly, it is still the most important question at hand. For even if we do not choose the violent route, we must relocate and live outside of the reach of the Overworld and the rest of society, we can do so. But we must decide our fate now, as time is short.”

With that, Father bowed to the elders before being offered a chair alongside them. He stood in front of it. Some time passed as the elders spoke openly to each other before the crowd. The conversation waxed and waned in intensity, but it was clear that there were individuals on both sides, as well as a couple with entirely different ideas. Mattias, the elder who spoke before addressed the other elders most persuasively. “As has already been shown, the world is moving in strange ways. We have never before seen such opportunity to achieve the original goals of us Wildmen, as they say. The conversation and stories from yesterday are impossible to ignore! Furthermore, I must remind you that there would be little evil in such acts of violence as we would only be targeting the truly evil works of technology that we have managed to mostly escape from here in our village. Indeed, we must admit that these technologies have destroyed society in our world, and that we each would, if we could, remove them altogether. With that in mind, the answer is simple: Before us is a task. One that requires great effort and perhaps sacrifice. Yet in fulfilling this task, as I believe that we will, we will be rewarded with a world in which we can once again be a part of - more so, one that we may even lead in the wisdom that we have sought out!”

The village was stunned by the authoritative instruction from the elder. So much so that no response was offered. Seeing that his speech had the desired effect, Mattias added, “Enough of this deliberation, may we vote?”

The elders agreed. As far as Vince knew, decisions like this one were supposed to be unanimous in order to proceed with the outcome. As Father had once explained to him, such rules were put in place to force those of differing opinions to understand one another, and objectively decide on the best route forward. Furthermore, it also forced a greater respect for the body of elders, as it was common that a minority of elders would collectively concede to the majority by simply changing their vote to agree, even if they did not truly think so. This would mostly only happen after much longer periods of deliberation, and when the outcome wasn’t as serious as it was today.

Mattias spoke once more, “Very well. Those in favor of joining the Reconstructionist movement, raise your hand!” At least 70% of the elders raised their hands within seconds the number increasing over the next few moments. Three elders remained unmoved.

Father spoke, as the elder’s hands remained raised. “You who remain in disagreement with the majority, I mean no disrespect to your position or wisdom. However, with the limited resource of time as I have already shown, I will ask that you would raise your hands in agreement with the majority. For it is rather unlikely, even given the full time that you would convince the others to join your side. As I know you do, please consider the best interests of the village, especially in that acting swiftly may save us from difficulties ahead.” With less authority than Vince had ever heard from Father before, Father’s words were nevertheless effective as the remaining elders raised their hands.

Mattias grinned, now facing the village. “We have reached a unity of mind, and will go forward, for the first time in our history, as a part of something bigger - as a member of the Reconstructionists.”