The twin cities were everything that every other city wanted to be. For thousands of years, the two four-tiered cities stood in the centre of the Everlasting Plains and called to those who would serve them.
They stood aloof and apart; not entering into the world affairs with the exception of their advertising and recruiting, which they were very good at. They were both praised and criticised for this, often from the same people. It didn't do any good though: criticism wasn't replied to with any defence and no special arrangements were made for those who praised them. And so the status quo remained, with two exceptions, for the entire life of the twin cities of the Everlasting Plains.
It is easy to overlook the beginning of these cities, simply due to how long ago they were founded, and if history has taught any of us one thing, it’s that neglecting one part of it only serves to breed confusion later on down the line. So, for that reason here's an abridged history of the founding of the twin cities.
The world was in a time of clarity, the vast majority of nation states were in a stable peace and those who weren't were too small to do anything terribly destructive and thus, spent most of their time rattling sabres from across a negotiation table, or via diplomats-turned-spies.
The global economy was booming and the time was right for something bold.
A group of philosophers and other esoteric souls left to wander the world. They are credited, some believe falsely, as discovering the Everlasting Plains. The traditional story of the founding suggests that some supernatural force told them to found the first of the cities on the shores of the large lake that used to be a volcano. The more realistic view of these events is that the travellers decided they had walked enough, and considering, back then, there was no way they knew the world was spherical and knew their only choice was to turn back, which at this point meant a full three year journey back to where they started. So they opted to settle down here.
That seems pretty standard, at least for that time. But the real story begins with the second city which, contrary to popular belief, was not built at the same time but almost 50 years later. We don't know much about what happened then, the famous Secrecy Policy was in effect by this time, but we do know there was a differing of opinions on something within the city, and some second generationers left, travelled half a day away from the lake and started building there. It took less than ten years and the second city was just as big, in terms of geographical size and population, as the first.
Now here is the thing that most people forget, and what remains relevant for today's society. There are two separate cities on the Everlasting Plains which govern independently from each other. They are in close proximity, sure, but they are two different cities. The only reason they call them the twin cities is their relative sameness in design and size and their closeness to each other. Otherwise they are almost polar opposites.
Take the Secrecy Policy, for example. The original city enacted this policy in order to cover up what has come to be considered some of the worst abuses of a population in history. The second city enacted it’s version of the policy in wartime to prevent the first city, at the time technically an enemy, from gaining any of its wartime developments and it was dropped after the war and research many years later showed no untoward behaviour.
As time went on, a lot of policy was enacted that made sense to have, regardless of the ideology of the day. One such policy was to ignore the world at large, and take no part in the Unified Congress, a concept both cities saw as a farce, instead choosing to work together to be the force for progress they wanted to see from others.
The original city still hurts from the atrocities performed within its walls all those years ago, and it’s an open secret that there are still a significant number of people who wish to return to those days lobbying for power and influence within the same walls. The second city remains the more popular of the two to emigrate to, yet is the one who restricts movement in and out of its walls the most.
There is a balance there and the two governments manage to keep it stable very well, after all they know that if confidence in either city fell, then they would both be vulnerable to conflict from outside actors.
By and large, that's where we are today. That's what I would have been saying a year ago in this class, but as you know, a year makes a lot of difference and our modern world changes so fast. I don't have to go over what happened at New Years. We shamed our ancestors and will forever have those actions hanging over our head.
The law of unintended consequences is a harsh mistress and we learnt that the hard way. I've been to the crevasse on the Everlasting Plains and I have seen what we did. Despite this, despite everything, the twin cities stand strong, albeit slightly damaged, and the truth of it all is they will be stronger for it.
The land is broken and the walls are damaged, but the people remain and the people rebuild. Even now, there is a bridge being built to physically connect the two cities for the first time ever. Water from the lake will be pumped along an aqueduct within the bridge, and citizens from both will have unrestricted movement permanently.
The Unified Congress has done nothing to help and will splinter before the year is out, after all, they cannot be seen to be taking responsibility for this, or all other damages accrued by their mistakes will also be laid at their feet.
It is likely that the twin cities will join as one and become the new seat of global power, as you have already began seeing the start of this in the many national leaders eschewing the UC meeting next week for a trip to the cities.
Our world is changing and we cannot pretend to know what will happen next. What I can tell you is that it will be up to you, all of you, to ensure that your generation and the one that you bring into the world are ready for it. Make this world better than how we, me and my generation, left it for you.