Chapter 202: A Private Conversation in New York
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AN: Surprise! I'm back from the dead.

I feel a lot better now... And you know what that means!

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New York City, New York, the United States of America
January 24th, 1836

"Britain?"

"The cholera outbreak is in Britain now, and with much of Britain's infrastructure damaged and in disarray, it will be widespread in a short amount of time. It's already spreading rapidly across the entirety of Europe, and there have been rumors that it has reached into the Ottoman Empire and Russia as well. God forbid if that disease reaches India right now, the last thing the Indians need is disease mixed with famine and war. The French are accepting our studies and doing their best to contain the disease, but with the country at war, their soldiers are at risk," Justin Kim gazed out his study's window as he watched the gloomy clouds shed raindrops over the darkened city. "Hundreds of thousands will most likely die due to the disease, as many nations still ignore our scientific findings."

Governor Edward J. Mason scratched his balding head and sighed, "It seems as though every year, things only get worse. What's next for Europe, a famine like the one in India?"

The elderly Kim's eyes dimmed, which made his counterpart man cough dryly into his right fist, "I mentioned a famine as an example. Don't tell me that there is a famine at hand in Europe?"

"There have been reports of potato crop failures in France and Spain," Justin answered vacantly.

"Oh, for Heaven's sake!" Governor Mason nervously glanced up at the ceiling before returning his gaze towards Justin, "Is it... that?"

"Yes. Phytophthora infestans: the potato blight. It seems like it originated from southwestern Mexico, just like the Mississippi."

"How did Mexican potatoes end up in France?"

"Your guess is as good as mine, governor. Unfortunately, we can't change the past unless that happens again, which I reckon won't happen."

"Then should we prepare for the worst for Ireland?"

Justin slowly nodded, "We should assume the worst, especially since the British already dislike the Irish. The Indian Rebellion is also draining their finances, and much like the Mississippi, the Irish will be exploited and left to starve."

"Ah, so that clause under the Treaty of Reykjavík was for this exact situation, I see," Governor Mason's sunken eyes gazed off into the distance as his fingers drummed the armest of his comfortable, leather chair, "Though, I'm not sure if taking in Irish refugees is the best idea at this time, Justin. New York is struggling to stay afloat, with all the costs for repairs and social services draining our reduced income. And we weren't even one of the worst states affected by the war. The nation as a whole is in rough shape, and the federal government is barely able to hold the nation together. There are terrorists out in the west, religious agitators in the south, and rioting citizens in the north. I'm sure you heard already, but I had to call in the National Guard into Xin a few days ago to stop the lyn-crochinig of the few Asian Indians that decided to remain in the United States! Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Irish refugees spilling into our nation and threatening Americans of jobs and land will result in..."

"That's enough, Governor," The Korean-American raised his voice and firmly gripped his chair to stand up.

The governor pounded his fist on the armest, "I'm not saying this because I want to keep the Irish out; you know me better than that! I'm saying that maybe we should close ourselves off for a decade or so until we can fix our own house! The president gave the South African protectorate government $500,000 with no strings attached! $500,000! That is enough money to rebuild an entire city! And yet, he offered it to them while our own citizens are ailing and crying for help!"

"South Africa is an American protectorate..."

"Which we can deal with after our nation is fixed!"

"We will recover; that is inevitable. Unlike us, there is a chance that South Africa will never recover fully from the damages brought by the war without our support! Do we really want South Africa to turn into that... abomination that existed in the Mississippi? Radicalized by our indifference to their plight?" Justin's cheeks reddened as he narrowed his eyes towards his fellow Society member.

"It won't because history has already changed! The world is already in distress, and it will remain in distress whether we are involved or not. We can properly work to fix the damages after our nation recovers!"

"Then do we give up our protectorates? Let the British take them and add them to their colonial collection?"

"Maybe we should because I lost my son in the war due to our constant foreign meddling!" Governor Mason exploded, rising from his seat and balling his fists.

"So did I," Justin snapped, his words shaking the younger politician out of his rage. The former Special Operator glanced at a picture frame standing on his desk. The picture contained a grainy photo of a happy family with a middle-aged Korean man and Chinese woman, along with their daughter and two sons. They were standing in front of their family home in Manhattan with bright smiles on their faces. The Korean-American's voice softened to a whisper as he spoke, "So did I. And I lost my father as well."

"I..." Governor Mason sank into his chair as an awkward silence overtook the room. Two battery-powered lamps ominously lit the room while the two men stared at each other. After a few long minutes, a crack of thunder finally broke the silence. "I apologize for my remarks; they were uncalled for."

"I'm just as frustrated as you are, Ed," Justin muttered quietly as he tore his eyes away from the photo and stared out the window, "I want to see our nation back on its feet and our people living in happiness under our republic. But remember our Society's mission; we must "strive to not only improve the ideals, knowledge, and people of this nation, but every nation on this Earth." We must place ourselves first, but we can not forsake the rest of the world."

Justin slowly descended upon his chair and leaned backward with a sigh, "It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."

"Was that by that famous civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.?"

"No, Gandhi. In the Mississippi, he led a peaceful revolution against the British colonial government in India. Though, with all the changes made so far, I'm afraid he will not exist in the Ohio River."

"Ah," Governor Mason relaxed as he rested his hand on his thin chin, "Speaking of leaders, that reminds me of the original topic for our meeting: President Peters. Is he doing well? I have been buried by work and haven't kept contact with the other members of the Society."

"He's still distressed from the war, but he is doing his best. For every problem that he manages to stop, three more appear. His will is indomitable, but he is still mortal."

"From what I can judge, he will be remembered by future generations like that British prime minister: an immovable rock during wartime, but a fairly lackluster leader in peacetime."

"Only time will tell," Justin stated with an uneasy smile. "Hopefully, our next president will steer the nation away from our current crisis."

"Well, I'm sure Nathaniel will do fine."

"Oh, he will. I support his policies completely. And I'm almost certain that he will win due to his heroism during the war and his popularity. Let's hope that he remains healthy and able during his time in office. After all, he is getting a bit old..."

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