Written by Whatopercy
"Five incidents. Zero recoveries. Eight casualties."
The man at the center of the room flopped a thin blue file on his folding table and sat down. A semi-circle of solemn, practically dressed officials sat on worn chairs around the individual drenched in sweat standing before them.
Adjusting his tie and pushing his glasses up his sweating nose, UIU agent and legal specialist Damion Hill addressed the committee as firmly as he could. "Director Keynes, the losses were not the fault of our agents. We're simply not well equipped enough-"
"Quiet on the floor, please." The Director clasped his hands together on the snap-up table. "Frankly, Mr. Hill, the matter of whose fault it is - your agents or the belligerents - is not a valid point at this stage. The Resource Planning Office is considering withdrawing all immediate funds from your division, claiming that it is a waste of the Bureau's time and money." He cocked his head at the handsomely dressed official carrying a grey suitcase quietly seated at the end of the semicircle. "I do not necessarily disagree."
Relaxing back in his hard-backed chair, he added, "I suggest you give him - and us - a good reason to refrain from proceeding as such."
Hill's glasses began to slide down his face again. As he propped them back up, he returned, "Sir, with all due respect, the Bureau itself is not devoid of guilt. Year after year my office has been denied the authority to enact threat orientation and the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to high-profile situations. The Bureau's practice of actively discouraging graduates from inquiring about our unit has led to a severe deficiency in our personnel count, leading to the possibility of numerical superiority being virtually unfeasible in a combat-" He was cut off by Agent Jericho, an elderly woman sitting beside Director Keynes. "Numerical superiority?" she interjected incredulously. "I was under the impression you had apes to chase, not a war to win." A number of the attendants chuckled. Settling back into a cold, hostile gaze, she added, "Mr. Hill, your organization's very goal is to remove any…" she turned her nose at the term. "Paranormal objects from society, without society noticing."
Hill's sense of courtly composure began to wane. He retorted, "Madam, presuming you have read the full length of the dispatches my subsection sends out bi-annually, you would know that the Bureau isn't the only group capable of combating abnormal entities on a large scale. Certain elements outside our jurisdiction have proven far more adept at interacting with the anomalous underground than we have since our inception. "
A young representative suited in green, seated in the middle of the left column raised his hand. Pleased by the show of respect, Hill motioned for him to speak. He stood. "We've read your reports, agent. Our issue with them is the unprofessional nature of your conclusions. I recall dissecting a dossier on - the Men in Black, I believe you call them. " Snickers were heard. Keynes kept quiet. He continued, "In the past you've intimated that they are infinitely more well-prepared for the conflicts and brushfire wars that erupt daily in your area of expertise, and are likely the reason the UIU so rarely comes upon a fruitful case. I ask, then: why do you feel the need to press the Bureau to fund a society that, in all probability, became outmoded and irrelevant many years ago?"
So this is what it comes to, Hill thought.
"What you propose, sir, is what is at the crux of this matter." He scanned the room for signs of amusement. "Sixty-nine years ago, we stepped into a deep and unknown pool that we, though we thought otherwise, knew very little about. When the Nazis came, into our temples and our cities, Roosevelt had us hunt them down. We succeeded, and changed the course of history. But what we couldn't change was the fact that our country had just staked its claim for dominance on a new plane of politics and espionage."
He wiped his brow.
Considering his words for a moment, he pressed on, "I will admit, with time our image has degraded significantly. Men and women before you have also asked why we need an organization of our own to collect and contain paranormal phenomena. Why interfere with business and politicking that we can't integrate with? Why shouldn't we 'leave it to the professionals'? I cannot deny that this position isn't entirely unreasonable."
The light shining on him was blistering, and once again, he adjusted his spectacles.
"However, I propose to this committee - a counterpoint. For a century, this country has grown and built itself up to be what may be considered a superpower. In conjunction with our friends in Europe, we have established a globe-spanning network of communication and military dominance. Why is it then that we, ostensibly the most influential nation of this twenty-first century, should be defenseless against a facet of reality we may have no conception of? It is true that there exist men and women capable of isolating this world from ourselves, working around the clock to ensure our safety and comfort. But now I ask you; who will you run to should their soldiers rout, their barricades collapse, their fortresses be overrun? One could argue that in such a situation, any effort on our part would be futile; I find a most apt analogy in Hector, riding out to face Achilles as he has slaughtered the Trojan army." He paused. The faces filling the room, gazing into his were difficult to read.
"Perhaps it is true. But I cannot in good conscience recommend leaving such a situation to chance, nor can I taking the protection they have given us so long and throwing it away in an instant by choosing to leave ourselves undefended. If you decide otherwise, so be it."
He sat down. Muttering ensued.
About a minute later, Keynes stood up. "Those in favor of a brief recess?" There was a unanimous response. The other members, as well as the man with the suitcase at the end of the semicircle, left into a smaller, more private chamber located at the back of the room. Some of the younger council members, including the man in the green suit, appeared deeply thoughtful, their hands in their pockets as they entered the discussion chamber.
After what seemed to be an eternity, the council filed back in. Keynes stood, while the rest sat, and the man with the briefcase silently exited the room. "You have your years' funding, Agent Hill," he pronounced. "This twenty-third tri-annual review of the Unusual Incidents Unit is formally dismissed."