After the results of the Global Referendum, personnel from the Archive Department arrive to collect depositions from Kuro’s group, taking time to corroborate their statements. Afterwards, the old Trio Eye first accompany Kuro and the team to their base for a rest, and then call an emergency meeting with The Company with all senior officials from each department in attendance. The meeting results in the dismissal of the Chief Executive, with a new one appointed by The Company. The old Trio Eye remain on New Earth 306, and Verity is tasked with uploading The Company’s secret onto the Recreation Center and managing any subsequent issues that may arise.
Tofu is missing. Kuro, Hoho, Chee, and the Worm check the Gourmet Center and Recreation Center without any success. They even go back to where they made their landing on New Earth 306 but there is no sign of him either. Later, while cleaning the Grand Reception Hall at the Library, The Worm notices oil droplets on the stairs that he believes were left by Tofu. They make attempts to look for him in the Great Library, but turn back for fear of getting lost in the maze of archives. So, Tofu, along with his unique quantities of information, vanishes into the depths of the Great Library.
Verity uploads The Company secrets about the black rain to the Recreation Center. She names the file “An Analysis of Ethnic Relations in Mirror Project Implementation Process.” The oral testimonies of Kuro’s group are presented unedited as an attachment, and the databank is stored in the category of “Other readings/History/Importance level F.” The Recreation Center rarely encounters occasions when a large number of people try to connect simultaneously, except maybe in the lead up to school exams.
But as soon as this databank is added, a flood of users attempt to use its search function. It slows the system down at the Recreation Center. After public feedback regarding these difficulties in accessing the target files, the newly appointed Chief Executive announces that The Company will hold information briefings every other month to instruct the public on using accurate search terms to locate the files they want.
“Mr. General” has become a trending topic among the youth. Even though no one has seen Mr. General in the flesh and few people have actually checked out and read the databank files, “Mr. General” is nevertheless vivid in the public imagination as “a man in a tailored suit, with hair neatly parted on the side and a metal briefcase in his hand.” More details are added through word of mouth and, after the global sensation of the animation series “Mr. General’s General”, licensed augmented reality games and holographic projection concerts sell out as soon as they are released. The visual image from the animation series upstages any other descriptions of Mr. General, and if Kuro and the gang ever tell people about the grandmotherly “Mr. General” they met on the spaceship, no one would believe them.
But Kuro, Hoho, and Chee have no time to spare in worrying about incorrect perceptions of Mr. General. The day after the Random Number Incident, they receive instructions from The Company headquarters to take on roles as assistants to the old Trio Eye, managing software, hardware, and population control respectively. They may have thought the work of assistants to be easier than rewriting the new earth on their own, but then they are immediately ordered to conduct a global census. The old Trio Eye tell them that in order to make New Earth 306 a better place, they need to gain a better understanding of the perspectives and opinions of each citizen on all aspects of governance. The three spend every day from dawn to dusk speaking to people on 3D holophones. They learn more from each person they interview, but feel as though they know less. Just like the three, The Worm has also become extremely busy. The new Chief Executive takes information management very seriously, and wants to confirm that each of the books in the Great Library has a corresponding databank in the Recreation Center, and to ensure that each word and each sentence is stored. The number of books in the first and second basement levels alone are insurmountable, and The Worm never finds time again to explore other spaces in the Great Museum.
The four are so busy that they never even have time to have a meal together. Sometimes they start to think that maybe the Mr. General on the spaceship, the global referendum and all of that, never really happened.
The hype around “Mr. General’s General” doesn’t last too long. Now that audiences can attend all-new live shows anytime they want, conversations among young people have shifted to discussions on the make-up, clothes, and personal flying machines of the performers. Sales of Mr. General-related merchandise begins to fall sharply.
Since The Company no longer considers Mr. General an unspeakable secret, those in academia began to advocate that the real Mr. General be found. A number of these individuals are senior executives at The Company Branch on New Earth 306. In addition to a careful audit of the information in the databanks to correct errors in the perception or understanding of “Mr. General’s General”, they also hold interplanetary scholarly exchanges, visiting other new earths to conduct field research on additional first-hand accounts related to Mr. General.
Their lectures grow in popularity, especially the midyear “Seminar on Comparisons between The Company and Mr. General” which attracts a surprisingly large number of non-academic attendees. During the seminar, scholars from various disciplines discuss the pros and cons of The Company and Mr. General respectively. The conference convener and host’s remarks at the conclusion of the event resonate with many people:
Times are changing. The environment is changing. Trends are changing too. As members of the public, we do not have to worry too much whether we are dealing with The Company or Mr. General. We can understand our own needs better if we have a better understanding of both The Company and Mr. General. I grew up under the protection and care of The Company, and feel tremendous gratitude toward The Company, but I have to declare that I am not only The Company’s man, I am also my own person.
Soon after the conference, the General Party is formed. The party platform clearly states that the General Party is not a subsidiary organization of The General, but is an organization that wants to build on foundations laid by The Company to make New Earth 306 a better place. The old Trio Eye attend the inaugural conference of the General Party, and pose for photos with all of the party members to commemorate the historical moment.
At the end of the year, the real human of the old Trio Eye passes away peacefully in her sleep on a mite bed at the end of the year, at the age of 221.
The members of the General Party make up close to 70 percent of the senior officials on New Earth 306 this year. They propose a global referendum for residents to decide whether to establish a deputy chief in addition to the chief executive role. The candidate is selected through a global vote, in order to balance the power of The Company. The results of the referendum cause The Company to become wary of the General Party. Even though the General Party does not impact The Company, and has not been as supportive of Mr. General as they had been in the early days, the development of a political party on New Earth 306 has troubling repercussions for The Company if other new earths followed suit. So the chief executive begins to contemplate a new slogan. The slogan “Everyone is equal in The Company” is obviously outdated. To prevent the General Party from gaining power through the appointment of a deputy chief, creating a narrative as rousing as that of the General Party has become an urgent matter.
Not everyone is in favor of the General Party. A conspiracy theory begins circulating among the elder residents that the old Trio Eye, who have since died, were actually Mr. General supporters plotting to convert New Earth 306 into a Mr. General territory; and that the General Party was just Mr. General in disguise. The Chief Executive realizes he has a ready-made weapon in the current Trio Eye. Kuro, Hoho, and Chee have taken over the official roles after the old Trio Eye passed away and, as the only three witnesses who have met Mr. General in the flesh, their attitudes toward the General Party can be instrumental in influencing the elderly citizens on New Earth 306.
At the request of the Chief Executive, Kuro, Hoho, and Chee frequently recount the sense of hope they felt when they first met Mr. General, and the devastating disappointment of learning the truth about Mr. General from the old Trio Eye.
This strategy by the Chief Executive is exceptionally effective. “Maintaining the status quo” becomes an overwhelming consensus on New Earth 306.
The number of space development corporations continues to rise, but The Company and Mr. General hold their position as the two top industry leaders. Even though there has been significant growth in cultural and business exchanges over the past century, rivalry between the two companies persists.
There have been 13 global elections for the deputy chief on New Earth 306 to date. Sometimes candidates from The Company win the office; other times, General Party candidates take office. With a four-year election cycle, the position seems to hand off every third term from one party to the other, but regardless of whether the candidate is from The Company or The General Party, their proposals have not changed much in the last 50 years. As a result, few young people are interested in participating or voting.
When the Chief Executive decides that the speeches by the Trio Eye have lost their effect, Kuro, Hoho, and Chee quickly fade from the public eye. They begin to spend their free time at the Great Library, helping The Worm set up files and carrying out a secret project: working under orders from the Chief Executive, The Worm accidentally discovers markings in the books’ pages. Some sections have been redacted, and some sentences have been rewritten. The Worm begins to organize all of the annotations, then passes them on to Kuro who re-edits the information in the Recreation Center databanks according to the messages left by Tofu, under the pretense of updating and debugging the system. They don’t know what difference any of this would make, because most of the books that Tofu annotated have been categorized at importance level F or lower; very few people would ever access this information.
In the Worm’s handwritten journal entry, he describes the secret project in this way:
… My rational self knows that none of this makes a difference. Everyone still gets excited when senior executives from The Company or Mr. General make official visits. I have given up on voting long ago. My irrational self tells me that this will make a difference; it’s just a matter of time. The information is all there, so we just have to wait patiently, for someone with an extra sense of curiosity or, for someone to ask the wrong question; to wait for them to arrive at an unexpected answer that will open up a new scenario which no one can foresee, turning them from the databanks back to printed books.
The mystery of the Great Library on New Earth 306 was finally resolved with the collective efforts of Mr. General, The Company, and other space developers. The complex architecture is reconstructed to serve as an educational amusement park where visitors can interact with characters from different historical periods in casual banter. There are dating or battle modes; the parameters of these characters can even be finetuned to suit the user’s imaginations.
During the renovation process, an employee of the Construction Department comes across an ancient mission-specific robot pilot. The robot is discovered in a remote book vault, surrounded by books and papers that have clearly been marked up. These notes describe in sequential leaps what happened 300 years and 600 years ago, as well as 3000 years and 60000 years hence. This particular model of mission-specific robot was discontinued soon after the Random Number Incident due to its susceptibility to external influence which resulted in unstable functionality. The employee who discovers the robot donates the artifact to the Department of Archives and is awarded two months’ worth of meal vouchers.