The facade is the part of the building you see from the outside. It gives you a perception of what to expect the inside to be like. The brochures and painted smiles made the Oan Isles out to be the perfect place. Its people were indeed better off than many, but the ability to sustain them in the long term was diminishing.

There was less space to build in and resources to extract. The very ground had been filled with concrete to prevent the cities from collapsing into it. General Oaluoa Uye had identified the need for more space, like so many others, yet he was the only one who was able to give a sustainable solution. He was the Minister of Defence, but he expanded his portfolio. He had undertook a clandestine operation he had dubbed “Doors of Heaven”.

He convinced the National Assembly to increase the budget of the army to reinvigorate it. He siphened some of the money into a more lucrative investment. He explored uninhabited islands to the northwest of the Oan Isles. They were hot and lush and teemed with life. The sea was unpoisoned and the opportunity was immense.

He prepared a draft law to authorise the armed forces to explore and prepare a way for citizens to colonise the islands. The cabinet was seated near the speaker’s dais. The Speaker called General Uye to the podium. He had prepared a speech to introduce his plan and cement the law he had prepared.

"Greetings Speaker, Defender, members of the Cabinet and honourable members of the Assembly. The Oan Isles is being diminished. We need to balance protecting our pristine environment with maintaining the high standard of living that our people enjoy.
“We need to consider the expansion of our boundaries. I have prepared the Expansion Act and have provided each of you with a document that fully explains some of the points I will make in this presentation”.

He explained how the program had been started, how the investigation was conducted and what his plan was. Enthusiastic members asked questions and engaged with him on his seemingly profound discovery. He enjoyed the attention and the political leverage their bright smiles gave him. The Cabinet would be particularly red after this, but that was not his concern.

The law catapulted over the labyrinthine bureaucratic law making process. After several weeks, the National Assembly voted resoundingly for the law to carry through. He helmed the new Expansion Ministry which Defender Ese Ulua begrudgingly appointed him to.

He was sailing on the TOIS Adelaide to the new lands. He smelt the new air and walked on the new soil. He felt indomitable. Ships docked on the beech and soldiers began the odious work of making this land habitable.

A joint military base was constructed, several research stations had been set up and a repository of research had been collected within a few months. The hand of the Oan Isles had been extended to this new land, at last.

Proposed Expansion

General Oaluoa Uye wiped off the sweat from his brow. He had been working in the New Colony (as it was known). He dug in the hot sun, ate meals in the mess hall with his troops and told stories at night under the clear sky by firelight.

He felt like a general again. He gave instruction and it was followed. He lived with his soldiers and they respected him like their leader. La Rochelle was different.

Being a politician was an important job and he enjoyed the challenge and the diversity of issues he faced everyday, but this is what he needed. He needed the thrill of a new adventure, of going where feet have not set foot before, of building from scratch.

He would be summoned back to La Rochelle eventually to give a report and face the fury or favour of the Cabinet. At this point, he didn’t care.

One day he was trekking through the forest with an expedition party. They climbed over fallen logs and cut through foliage. They sometimes tripped over a stone or two. It was difficult, but rewarding work. They filled their canisters with water from the mighty rivers and filled their nets with fish. They ate like young men and women and enjoyed the rays of light that slipped through the cracks in the canopy above. Fantastical creatures scurried or crawled over the ground or lept through the branches.

It was in moments such as these that he was reminded why the Oan people sacrifices their own comfort to protect nature. It enlivened the soul and enriched the mind. He knew why he loved his country. It was beautiful. He had been fortunate enough to expand it to even greater beauty and he would fight for it to the last drop of his blood.

His men set up camp and took watch every night. Hualua was one of the young men who had recently gotten the chance to come year. It had been a dream come true. When the mighty general Uye asked him to accompang him on the expedition, he could barely contain his excitement or urine. Gladly he did.

He was taking watch over the camp. They didn’t know much about the island. They didn’t know what creatures were crawling into their ears or what beasts were lurking in the shadows. He was relaxed, yet vigilant. He saw a shadow thrown by the small fire over him. He looked up and grabbed his gun instantly. He saw the General over him.

He stood up and saluted him. The General reciprocated. He spoke softly, “I’m taking a walk. I’ll be back soon”.

Hualua was frightened. He was frightened for this man. The general was too important a man. If something happened to him, he would never be able to forgive himself. The general saw the frustration and mixed emotions in his eyes and comforted him, " I’ve been battling beast much bigger than that humvee since before you were born, my son; I’ll be fine".

Hualua was no less frustrated, but resigned; no one told General Oaluoa Uye what to do. The man walked into the darkness. The light of the stars and moon illuminated his way. He was wary of touching things, since they might be poisonous, but he could barely contain his excitement. He had the wonder and curiosity of a child discovering the world for the first time.

He walked for hours. The light of the sun broke through minute fissures of the night. The air was warmer and he could see more clearly. He knew he had to navigate his way back to the others. Something perculiar caught his eye. He saw a small, but reasonably defended guard post and a long fence stretching on either side of it.

“The Oan Isles’ first land border!” He thought aloud. He knew that he had to send a telegram to La Rochelle as soon as possible.

He walked back to the camp. His diligent team had already packed up camp and prepared breakfast. They been careful to ensure that no litter touched the floor. The General issued an edict against litter or unauthorised dumping that could result in a disciplinary hearing. He wanted to protect as much of the new colony’s natural environment from the scourge of human exploitation.

He knew that as resources in the Oan Isles become scarce and the population continues to grow, it was inevitable. But he knew that with a well thought out long term plan, the damage that man was capable of could be avoided. While the Oan Isles had one of the most beautiful environments in the world and the Oan people had inhabited it tentatively, he needed to learn lessons from where they had failed.

When he returned to the Settlement (as it was called) he set about issuing decrees banning the cutting of trees or mining of the ground. He inspected the facilities and ordered his architects and scientists to go about ensuring that the best technologies are employed to prevent any damage to this place. He sent a long term growth plan, that managed human development for the next 300 years.

A week ago he had announced that the islands were open for people to settle in. The government decided to limit the growth to families of the soldiers, architects and scientists and engineers already there.

Hua was a little boy named after the one thing that fascinated him most: light. His mother held the year old boy in her arms and spoke to her husband over the telephone.

“It’s gonna be a new life for us and for Hua”, the man over the phone said, " It’s so beautiful and you’re gonna love it".

She in turn replied, “I always knew that you wanted an adventure away from the concrete of the city. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. We’ll be there soon”.

Hualua has asked for his wife and son to come live with him and it was gladly accepted. She hastily told her parents, who made sure that she stayed for dinnet. When they told her it was beef, a luxury commodity in the Oan Isles, she could hardly refuse.

A car was waiting to pick her up. The city wizzed by her at a dizzying speed. Life in the city was fast and one never really had time to appreciate how hard the Sanitation Bureau worked to keep it clean, or how well the architects had thought it out. Today she was afforded the last and almost retrospective glimpse into it.

After a short time, she arrived at the dock where other families were waiting to board the enormous ships would take them to their new lives. Some were dispondent, but most were happy. Whichever they felt a new adventure awaited them…

General Uye had been sitting at a table with some of his lieutenants. They were discussing what name to give to their new land.

One proposed that they name it after the General himself. It was a clandestine attempt to get into his good books, but the General was flattered and genuinely appreciated it. They all knew that there was a policy or custom in the Oan Isles not to name things after people.

They pondered for hours. They threw ideas, back and forth and tossed them up again, should they reveal knew insight. Hualua had come to tell the General that his wife and son were coming. He knocked on the door and was well received. He was surprised to find all these men sitting in the small office, but he saluted them. They acknowledged him.

He began relaying the news he wanted to tell the general. The general cut him short and yelled, “Of course!”

He asked Hualua, “Hualua, what do you think we should name the new province?”

Hualua searched his mind. He wondered about it for a moment or two and yelped out, “Harmony”.

The Lieutenants looked at him and looked back at the general. One of them exclaimed, " Ko Oa! That’s a very good name!" The others spoke and in agreement and the General proclaimed, “It is decided that the new province will be Harmony Province and the first city would be Harmony City”.

Hualua was proud of himself. The General said, " Go tell your family the good news".

Hualua said, “I’ll get on a telephone right away”.

The General stopped him and said, " No man! Their already here!"

Hualua was overjoyed and gave the man a bear hug. He awkwardly receded when he realised what he had done and simply saluted the man and left the room. He was too excited to be embarrassed. The men in the room belted with laughter, but they understood why. They too felt more enthusiatic and excited than they had felt in a long time.

The men had to decide whether to move the settlement or keep it. They decided to properly map it first and get a feel for each island. They sailed at dizzying speeds from island to island. Satellites collected data. When he part looked at the map, he realised just how vast “Harmony Province” was. It was the size of the entire Oan Isles and then some! It had more than doubled the size of the Oan territory. He felt rather pleased with himself.

He decided to keep things as they were. Harmony Base would eventually (or hopefully) turn into Harmony City.

The day he had dreaded, had arrived. He was summoned back to La Rochelle to face the Cabinet. It’s not as though they were enemies. He was personal friends with each of them, as far as politicians could genuinely have any friends, but he didn’t want to see them. The last few days after the announcement of the law in the National Assembly and before he left were chilly at best. And it wasn’t because of the Antarctic Trade Winds shifting course.

He barely spoke to them and they didn’t seem interested in talking to him. He had acted without their consent and had thereby lost their trust. He hoped if he had lost their respect he would regain it. It was a good idea, and the Cabinet had to act as one. They had too few details on this and largely didn’t want to pursue the idea. They begrudgingly supported it. The law had already been passed and the Cabinet had to appear united, so they had no choice.

He sat in the ship, thinking about what he would say and how he would present it as the beautiful ocean swept him by.

La Rochelle was a little colder than usual today. Ese Ulua lit a fire in his office. His enormous penthouse the Defender’s Official Residence was kept warm by air conditioning, but he enjoyed the sound of the crackling flames. He wondered if Oaluoa was enjoying a fire such as this under the stars.

A knock on the door knocked him out of his daydream. He told the person to come in. Locklyn Le Roy saw the Defender hunched over a fire.

He asked him, “Should I turn the air-conditioning on?”

Ese Ulua simply shook his head. Locklyn went over to him and pulled up a chair next to him. He was a diplomat. He coaxed his prey before ensnaring it. He had a penchant for preambles and pretty, but long winded language. As soon as he started talking, Ese Ulua said, “Make sure that you get to the point as soon as possible”.

Locklyn replied, " Fine", and began his account, "I’ve been troubled by a number of things of late so I’m not sure where or with which I should start, but I suppose I should start at the beginning, relativenature speaking.
“I kept these things to myself, but they weigh heavily on me and before The General comes, I should make you aware of them. Since you asked ne to speak frankly I shall do so. Forgive me if I speak bluntly, but such the matters are.
" Oaluoa has aggressively been able to expand the budget of the armed forces of late. He has proposed extra budgetary appropriation bills for the purchase of equipment or construction of new facilities. He has gone as far as to set a five year plan for its modernisation and reinvigoration as he likes to call it. He has managed to pull of these feats and more such as shifting our pacifist policy to a nonaggression policy. In my view, he encroached on my department and I have, as demanded by my diplomatic nature, to find a compromise and to see the positive aspects of the changes he proposed. You were there of course sk you know all about that. But he has been able to introduce them with a greater ease and efficacy than one would expect. Unless of course he was not acting alone. I am not insinuating the kind of conspiratorial shadow works that my speech may lead one to perceive. But whether it has been a product of ignorance, disregard or design, I must ask and if you’re offended by that then I sincerely apologise”.

Ese knew that the dreaded question was coming and braced for impact.

“Did you support or allow Oaluoa to carry out his missives the way he did?”

Ese Ulua then replied, "I am not a dictator issuing instruction to his team autocratically. You and all the other ministers form the team I rely upon and am inspired by. Each of you has an ability to use the resources available to you or rise above the daily or hourly challenges you face, for which I admire and respect you, to get things done.
" I have always believed that my team, especially one so competent, should be given the freedom to work, to create art regardless of how large or small the department.
"I had worked as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Maritime Administration for some time. Because of this I had been responsible for procuring and handling all matters related to the ships of the state including those of the army. The power of the army to handle matters of its own ships had been wrenched from it as had its power to essentially do much independently of the vigilant and unyielding jaws of the civilian government. I greatly appreciated that as it has been a valuable resource in protecting the democracy that we hold dear and shall work endlessly to protect.
" Yet I had also served in the Navy as a lieutenant sme time before that. I had gained an understanding of the mechanisms within the army and those without it and how they affected its work. The experienced I had acquired in policy making gave me an understanding of the external restraints that the state naturally faced in equipping the army as extravagatly as many within it had hoped. I do not call anyone ignorant or naïve, but without an experience of the dangers we faced, policy and charts failed to give a full and trully comprehensive understanding of the conditions our men and women faced.
“General Oaluoa is someone whom I believed was most equipped to reconcile two seemingly divergent ideas and move the armed forces foward, just as I had placed my faith in you.
" I gave him the freedom, as I believe I have done all of you, to tackle the problems I had assigned him to tackle. I have supported you regardless of how imaginative the ideas are. Yes, I supported and allowed his appropriation bills”.

It felt as though there was no one else in the world, but them, which made Le Roy feel more aggressive and made Ese Ulua more poised for defence.

Locklyn asked, “Did you know that he was exploring new land?”

Ese replied, “I had heard a rumour, but did not know of it in the strictests sense of having information to have approved it”.

Locklyn asked, his heart increasing the fury with which it hit his chest, “Do you approve of what he did?”

Ese knew that the bait was set. He knew that he wpuld fall into the trap regardless of what direction he chose, so he went with the truth, “He provided us with a convenient solution to an obvious problem, so I didn’t really have a choice”.

" Locklyn", he continued, "I’m not naïve or playing favourites, but I know of the unspoken competition between you and Oaluoa. You both intend to succeed or unseat me. You are both building political capital to take my place if it comes down to it.
"You started to Embassy Program and expanded our diplomatic relations more viciously than they have ever been before. The Dragonia treaty was a particular gold mine.
" He started the expansiom of the army. You are worried that by virtually doubling the area of the republic that you have lost the competition, if I am to call it that.
" Both of you hope to gain more leverage over the other if a competition was closely contested and hope to solicit my support to tip the odds in youdr favour. You don’t trust me to be impartial.
"We are all politicians and understand that it comes with the territory, but because of the friendships we have forged, it’s a lot more personal, and no longer just business. When people stray into those waters, they are confronted with sharks and man-eating sirens!
" I would advise you to look at this with the retrospective mature eye of the diplomat I had faith in to appoint as my Minister of Foreign Affairs. Please don’t lose sight of the service you can do our nation whether it’s discussing trade deals in Aura or sitting in the Defender’s chair. That chair doesn’t mean much really. You even arrested me for being, as you described it, too whimsical! "

Locklyn smiled.

Ese continued, “The title means nothing without the courage and sense of duty of the man who sits in it. From the greatest to the least, everyone and anyone, can make a difference. You my friend, are among the greatest of all!”

The Cabinet room was slowly filling with the ministers. Each one wore a porcelain masks to conceal the emotions beneath. Stiff handshakes and awkward conversation showed that there was more to tell than faces could show.

The Defender arrived last and asked the members to be seated. He usually opened the meetings with an address to lighten the mood. His heavy conversation with Locklyn Le Roy had weighed upon him and occupired his thoughts. They sat in silence waiting for the infamous guest of honour to arrive. General Oaluoa eventually opened the heavy wood French doors. He seemed confident, yet he was just a apprehensive as the rest. He greeted each one individually. He greeted Locklyn the most gingerly of all. It would be a difficult meeting.

General Oaluoa Uye started, “There are choices I made that were controversial and that most of you might disagree with. I understand your mistrust or anger at the decisions I made and the actions I undertook. I hope that I can put your frustrations to rest, by explaining to all of you the impetus for the choice I made, the methods I employed and the things I achieve.
" We are not naïve about the problems that the Oan Isles is facing. We discussed plausible solutions. Building taller buildings had proven difficult. There were fault lines and the ground was dominated by dolomite. It was easily susceptible to collapsing. We resolved the problem by supporting the weight of our infrastructure on city block sized concrete and marble columns. Unfortunately we are running out of stone and concrete. We’ve had to import sand”.

Locklyn Le Roy, “We know the problem; get to the point”.

A visibly annoyed Oaluoa continued, " I had been inspecting our Patrol Boat’s radar systems. We were sailing outside our normal jurisdiction, curiosity. We discovered a landmass we hadn’t known was there before. Our instruments constantly crashed. A vortex around the islands interefered with our instruments. He were buoyed by the momentum of the ship, but we were sinking.
" The water filled up the hull. It damaged the boat quite badly. We were injured, but the emergency power managed to land us on a bizarre island. When strode into the sunlight from the chilling water in which we had been soaked. We managed to pry a medical kit from a compartment in the cabin wall.
" No one died, but some of us were badly injured and we barely survived. Towering trees lined the beachfront. They were the most magnificent trees we had ever seen. The canopies beneath them were humid and they hardly let in light. We managed to conduct rudimentary repairs to the ship and leave.
" I realised there was more to this place and I made it my mission to return to it. The crew was very small and they agreed to keep it a secret. I knew that I didn’t have enough money with the then present budgetary constraints. I decided that the navy was the best poised to investigate the islands. It obeyed me and I generally didn’t have to answer to anyone so I knew that it would give the chance to explore them. These events occured many years ago, before even Ese Ulua was the Defender.
"I had kept it a secret for a long time. When I was appointed to the post of Minister of Defence a couple of years ago , I used the opportunity to gather the funds, manpower and capital I needed to put my plan for into action. It was unfortunate and I do apologise that I siphoned money off the expansion of the Military.
“I apologise for deceiving all of you, and I understand the best image of myself that you now see in me”.

The Ministers were mostly quiet. They looked at him almost emotionless, not because there were none, but because they were struggling to determine which emotions to hide.

Ese Ulua broke the silence. “The issue, really, are neither your intentions or designs”, he continued, " The reality is that you broke the law and committed a crime. You have fraudulently taken state money and used for a mattet for which it was not intended. In order to do this, you would have had to create false accounts ans deceive a matrix of state institutions. For this the law will take its course and mostly find you guilty of several crimes and we will all be damaged if we protect you or let you fall".
“What you did has given you a lot of political leverage to maneuvre the case that the Prosecutor will most likely lodge against you or if a special intetest group does it first. What you did had beneftted us immensely however and eased the pressure we were facing. We have a new point upon which to train the public focus. We have a new source of resources and space to ease the overpopulation in the cities. You will most likely be charged. I will use my powers to commute your sentence to have you banished to these islands and forced to govern and perhaps expand them”.
" What we want to know is what did you find? What plans have you come up with? What ideas do you have? I think we’ll have to put our feelings aside and focus on the task at hand".

Locklyn asked, “Are there any people on those islands?”

Oaluoa replied, "We conducted a fairly thorough search of the islands and found no native inhabitants although there is an infinitesimal chance there might be.

Ese Ulua asked, " Have any other countries claimed those lands?"

“The Staynish Caltharus Empire has claimed some islands and has a border on one with us”.

Ese Ulua, " Alright. Locklyn, you will go to Sani Bursil and settle our claims with the King".

The Home Minister asked, “Have you mapped hoe colonisation should take place?”

“I simply looked at how Harmony base will be expanded and its military infrastructure scrapped to eventually form Harmony City”.

The Home Minister asked, " And beyond that?"

Oaluoa replied, “Nothing”.

Ese Ulua said, " Okay, Home Minister, map out the creation of the necessary social services and political infrastructure to make Harmony Province a viable part of the Republic and look into long term planning of the formation of extra provinces and more settlements. It’s a large place its bound to generate interest and people will settle and bysinesses will move there".

And so it went on. Each minister asked questions and was given a task. The environment minister was given the responsibility of studying and protecting the wildlife. The justice minister was asked to handle how disputes would be settled or crimes judge until a high couet was set up. The Chief Constable was asked to set up a police force to take over law enforcement from the army. The Treasurer was asked to manage and appropriate funds for the program they wished to pursue and so on and so on.

There was a genuine process of engagement and team work. They understood that the work was a collaborative effort among the ministers. They got down to work and made decisions together. They distributed the workload and forged a plan for the growth of the Oan Ises. This was part of the reason Oaluoa had not left politics sooner. These intelligent men and women were visionaries in their own right. While they had personal differences, they got things done and ruled the nation together. Ese Ulua had been Oaluoa’s friend for a long time, yet it was in difficult moments such as these that he was reminded of why he had supported his bid to become the Defender of the Republic.

Ese Ulua was a leader who united people and got through the most opinionated people, the biggest personalities and the sharpest minds to achieve his goals and mandate. The professionalism with which they approached their work was part of why, in spite of its flaws, the Oan Isles was a great country. It had damn good leaders.

Oaluoa met Locklyn at the corridor. He wanted to speak to him, to clear the air and settle the disagreements they had.

“Locklyn”, Oaluoa said.

" Look Oaluoa", Locklyn said,“Clearly we both have ambition and want to secure a legacy that we will be remembered for. There will be times when we want to gain an advantage over the other, when we feel done in, when ambition and greed gets in the way of our friendship. If we treasure more than just the power and status that politics has burnt into us to lust for, then we will have a productive relationship. We will uplift each other, we will grow each other and only by working together will we become the greatest statesmen in our nations history. In this endeavour, you are my brother in arms”.

Oaluoa said, “We rise and fall together”.

They shook hands and touched their foreheads together as the great warriors of old had done in the spirit of camaraderie and solidarity many years ago.

Leadership is more than power. It is humility, and vision. For Oan people say, " A mouth is as good as a pair of ears". It is that leadership and patrioti that has and will continue to take the Oan Isle from strength to strength!

A law was proposed to the National Assembly, to expedite the full intergration of Harmony into a part of the Republic as a full member. It managed to crawl its way out of the scrupulous committee process and make it to the floor. The members voted in favour of the proposal. It was called the Harmony Province Act.

General Oaluoa Uye appeared before the La Rochelle Criminal Court. The Prosecutor had charged him with corruption fraud. He was charged by the Judge to a jail sentence. Ese Ulua had decided to commute his sentence. He banished Oaluoa Uye to Harmony Province, to govern and coordinate the establishment of the province.

He was overjoyed. He had fallen in live with those islands over the time he had spent there. He built a delightful little cottage on a hill overlooking the busy construction works in Harmony City. He rememered his wife.

She had made him fall in love with nature. She was considered a traditional Oan woman. She made clay pots and grass mats. She sang songs and told stories by firelight in a little village. She raised the kids while the husband went to work. She adored nature. She planted a fantastic tree in the middle of their house as the focal point of the structure and of their lives. She loved art. She was a talented woman. He looked to her for inspiration and strength. He had been unfaithful once or twice. He had at one stage, hurled profanities at her. But she stayed. And he could find no home or run elsewhere, but to her. When she passed away, she simply asked that he surround himself with nature so he would never be away from her. He used to cry for her and sometimes he still does. But he smiles a lot too. As he stepped out onto the porch, when he wandered through the forests or swam in the pools, he heard her voice and felt her touch.

Perhaps that is why he had fallen in love with this place; because he was falling in love with her all over again. He wanted to make the ministers fall in love with this place too. He invited them to come and experience what he had experienced. The knowledge they would gain was invaluable, but the love they would gain would give them so much more.

He wanted to “stir the water” and do things differently. They played games. They played tug of war, they climbed the mountains. They jumped into the rivers. They caught fish and dove for mussels. They renewed youth, not in bone or flesh, but in spirit. They got down to the busy work ahead.

The Minister of Public Works oversaw the rapid construction of the infrastructure of Harmony City. Kilometre high skyscrapers pierced the sky while occupying only a thin sliver of land along the beech. Roads, rails, optic cables were laid. Tunnels were dug. Pipes, water supply and drainage were laid as well. People moved to Harmony City in droves. They occupied the towers of concrete and steel, traveled through the underground metropolitan trains to work or school. Businesses moved in. A dam in the mountains blocked the mighty Harmony River. It provided renewable energy and clean water to the city beneath. The rest of the forest remained untouched. Scientists busied themselves with studying the organisms, finding cures, treatment and antidotes, making new discoveries.

The e-Government system was set up. The citizens of the province had the power to vote on major affairs of the province. They ruled a vast archipelago, but had neither exploited nor explored any significant portion thereof.

The economic growth rate of the Oan increased from 4% to 7% for that year with many more to come. An anti missile shield was erected to shield the province. A base was built to coordinate the armed forces. It was surprising really, there was more to come.