By: Karla Fetrow
Chapter one contd.
Previously: Klaus Vandeweerd has a message for the Democratic World Council, a message they are not taking very kindly. He is raising the rate for Arctic water services and lowering the quota countries are allowed to receive if they do not exercise population controls. He warns the Federal United States to stay out of Alaskan waters, initiating a debate on Federal claims. Congressman Tobias Oyagek, Alaska’s Representative, is about to speak.
Out of the corner of his eye, Klaus watched President Ting give her barely perceptible signal for the reporters to close their media scans. She seemingly rested her head against her hand, placing two fingers against her temple. Just as imperceptibly, the boxed lenses held up by each journalistic hand, dimmed. He couldn’t tell if Tobias noticed or not. It didn’t matter. It was standard procedure whenever Alaska was brought into the discussion. They were used to it. He was frankly surprised he had been allowed to talk as long as he had without the public censure.
Tobias continued as though nothing had happened. “Honorable delegates, I apologize for raising my voice, but it appears we are going in a direction of little interest to this Congressional Assembly. If the United States has jurisdictional interests in Alaskan watershed, it is not as agent of Fiduciary! The United States Blockade will understand, as will all delegations; the mean index of consumable water resources held and stored in the Alaskan watershed is not a petty cash account.
There are those that have spoken recently who, regrettably, do not come from areas that produce nor utilize water correctly. The Alaska Delegation over the next fifteen years has promised hundreds of millions of Decca liters to Her North American co-delegate States.
President Barker, beyond the Acceptance of Texas to receive said resources, how have you prepared to receive said assets? Has the Texas delegation even begun to prepare for our generosity?
The answer, of course, is no! For we of the Alaska Corporation realize that to import said quantities off our soil is a project beyond current abilities. Therefore, We of the Alaskan Delegation provide in other areas.
As a result of Alaskan corporate intervention on Texas’ behalf Mr. Barker, water now flows past Cascadia and feeds your constituents a reliable flow of West Coast de-salinated water privileges.
The resources of Corporate Alaska extend beyond mere asset management of common water. Although water is a source of significant financial resources, and drives the Corporate Alaska credibility at debt, it is the Technological and Logistics Administrative Department, Mr. Barker, of Corporate Alaska on the West Coast that keep you and yours from hydration bankruptcy.”
With the smoothness of her office, President Ting swept aside his statement. “Representative Oyagak, three times your petition to annex the entire land mass into a united country has been received by the Democratic Council, and three times it has been voted against by the majority House. We cannot allow this much monopoly by you and your cohorts over the remaining water reserves. It sets a dangerous precedent for the bankrupt nations that are dependent on the Northwest Passage access. The charted agreement, under the Leningrad Convention, allows for the equal deployment of water cultivation and re-capturing systems by the nations of Canada, Russia and East America, not the Republic of Alaska. East America has the right to use this passage to reach its federal lands, which are still recognized by this assembly. Be reasonable, Representative Oyagek. With Greenland joining the Northern Alliance, you represent a ridiculously small population, controlling a vast number of resources. We can’t afford to let Federal Alaska go. We will allow Eastern America every means at their disposal within the Treaty of Low Impact Environmental Land Skirmishes to defend their territory.”
Land skirmishes. The polite way of saying, let’s kill each other, but don’t harm the environment. Lasers, homing pins, nerve janglers; crushing and maiming their victims but leaving the earth undisturbed. The land skirmishes worked well in the urban areas where lives were expendable; not quite so well in the staggered populations of the northern rim. There was the soft, shuffling sound Klaus had grown familiar with, the cultivated, yet somehow mewling voice of his greatest adversary, President Stanford. Stanford looked about politely. “I don’t mean to interrupt the Democratic Council, but I wanted to say something. The Democratic States of America wants to remain cordial with all parties involved with this dispute as much as possible. I want to reiterate that the cities and states we are in association with, whose views we reflect, have a strong opinion on this matter as well as a strong desire to negotiate into a peaceful arrangement.
I can’t speak for the Confederate States, but I speak on behalf of the former U.S. federal government, now fully incorporated into the Democratic States Offices. We retain rights to contracts that were made, if not to state territory themselves. In 1867 the former U.S. Senate approved the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire $7.2 million dollars. In 1959 it was officially declared as the 49th state of the former United States of America. In 2021, the Unites States entity separated into 51 self-sustaining cities and states, and territories. I want to reiterate that the United States as a country disbanded, but the federal branch of the former United States is still functioning as its own organization, as property of the Democratic States of America. This office continues to exercise rights and offer judicial guidance to many of the fledgling, self-sustaining states and cities of the former United States. The rights we retain do still involve Alaska, and I believe this is what President Barker was referring to.
Throughout 2021 and 2022 we negotiated for the legal secession of Alaska. We resolved that Alaska, as all the states, had the right to become its own independent territory, or even its own nation if it was capable. However, the “release” of Alaska was conditional. President Tunney, acting President of the still functioning United States federal government, stated that it would not be in the Democratic States’ best interest, nor in the interests of the global community, to have Alaska join an alliance so as to create a monopoly on any natural resource. At the time, oil was included in the release statement, but the contract clearly stated any natural resource, which could be exploited and then held as ransom in a global monopoly.
This clause was not only the prudent judgment of the United States federal government but was strongly suggested to us by the United Kingdom, and other European Nations. In fact, the cooperation of other nations in the judicious and cautious dismantling of the U.S. was dependent on this contract.
So does the federal government of the Democratic States of America have territorial rights to Alaska? No. But Alaska must give a responsible answer to the world community, and to the Democratic States. We are not challenging their right to exist or to form an alliance for financial purposes. However, holding the resources hostage is a violation of our goodwill agreement and an explicit violation of the contract made.
I want to see a peaceful resolution to this. If the Northern Alliance would cooperate with the global community I see no problem with the alliance continuing business as usual. But like the President of the South said, water is a resource that belongs to the people of earth.”
Oyagek suddenly closed his gatebook. “Has anyone been listening? We are not conducting business as usual. We are not negotiating a compromise. Take our conditions or suffer the consequences. That’s all I have to say.”
“Excuse me,” said the President of the South loudly. “I don’t mean to interrupt the council either, but I think it’s only fair to address what the Ogoyan Fellow was saying. ..”
“I think we’ve discussed enough for one day,” interrupted Klaus, eying the Alaskan representative anxiously. “President Stanford, keep your hired goons out of Alaskan waters. This is a warning.”
President Ting’s gavel rapped sharply on the table. “Congressman Vandeweerd, you are out of order.”
“Take your order and hang it,” roared Oyagek.
Ting’s eyes flashed. “The meeting will be adjourned until nine a.m., tomorrow. I hope by then, you will all gain a little self control and we will be spared these exhibitions. Congressman Vandeweerd, a word with you?”
Vandeweerd hesitated. He couldn’t really risk letting Oyagek out of his sight. It wasn’t Tobias he was worried about. He was basically a businessman. Once his temper cooled down, he would see the practicality of diplomacy. It was the brother. Tobias called him the ace in their pocket, but Vandeweerd saw him as a wild card. He was the head engineer for Northern Consolidated and their stream of desalination plants stretching along the West Coast. He was an inside man, who dealt as much with cut-throats and thieves as he did with labor unions.
“What is it, Lucinda?” He asked, addressing her by her informal name.
“I want a private session with you. Join me tonight at the Gardens. I think we can resolve this amicably.”
“You want me to go behind Oyagek’s back?”
“I will not have any more outbursts like this during convention. If you can’t control your bar bouncer, leave him behind. I mean it, Klaus.”
Oyagek’s back was squeezing through the exit door. In the glass studio beyond, reporters were crowding around the Texan President, who preened and postured, his eyes fastened to a particular young red head who hovered with her scan close to his lips, her face introspective. As Oyagek opened the door, the reporters magnetically attached themselves to him, their voices an excited babble, their scans held high. Klaus caught up and took the larger man by the arm. “Say nothing,” he whispered.
It wasn’t necessary. Oyagek pushed gruffly through the holo-light simulators, the i-cams, waving gatebooks, and clamoring media hounds hoping for an exclusive.
As it became apparent the Alliance members were not giving statements, the cameras slid back into focus on Troyal Barker. He was giving a speech, his words fading slowly into the background as they walked away. They could hear the first part of it, and Klaus felt Oyagek’s muscles tense under the grip on his jacket. The Texan’s soft drawl wafted into the corridor.
“ I don’t want to give anyone the impression that the Confederate States of the South is ignorant as to water needs or any other survival methods. We are first and foremost Republicans of this great land and we are responsible for the land we live on. We are sons of the soil, a moniker we gladly take up, as we are the western world’s top producer of agriculture, including livestock, cotton, cereal and fruit. We are also top producers of aeronautic and computer technologies and retain a strong central military with great manpower, something the Democratic States cannot say. We are united. We are still a functioning country.”
His voice was sing song and soaring. Cheers accompanied his words. Within an hour, his speech would be on every channel at NewsSynch. “Don’t make a scene,” cautioned Vanderweerd. “I think Ting is open to negotiations.”
Tobias was angry. His frustration broke out in sweat and rolled down his face as they entered the hydro-lift. “I will not have Alaska offered up like a sacrificial lamb for the federalists. This is my country. My people.”
“And it won’t happen. The Alliance will back you. But we need more leverage.”
The holo-boards lit up with Barker’s round, boyish face. “But again, I’m rambling on,” flickered the image. “The point is that Texas is as prepared as any country to receive water in exchange for our resources. We do want to establish a relationship with the Northern Alliance and the Global Community. I guess you could fault us for being aggressive negotiators, but hell, I’m getting thirty, people!”
“Who is that joker?” Asked Oyagek. “Is he some kind of new magic trick Stanford pulled out of his hat?”
“Don’t worry about him. He’s an obvie. He insulted the President of Russia and doesn’t even know it yet. They have wine here, from Venezuela. What a life, don’t you think? Grapes, coffee beans, sugar, cocoa. All part of the Peruvian Empire. I want to open trade with them, Tobias.”
“They’ve had several mishaps on the Antarctic shelf from unexpected calving. There are also rumors…” Klaus lowered his voice, “there have been pirates.”
“Maybe.” Vandeweerd sat back, sipping gently at his wine. It was more full bodied than the thin, distilled chemical process they had turned to when the vineyards of California and Europe had essentially dried up. Not that he had any real memories of how good wine tasted, only the nostalgic reflections of his father. This was how it all was before the purge; full bodied, rich tasting, thick with nectar. “I have been thinking, maybe this new President Troyal, can be an advantage to us.”
Oyagek grunted. If he was impressed with the wine, he wasn’t going to let it show, but at least his face had resumed its normal color. “How’s that?”
“He could push the Russian President to join our side.”
Oyagek’s com-link flashed, and he begged to be excused. While the big man hunkered over the metal disc attached to his wrist, his back turned, Klaus sat back, rolling the wine delicately in his mouth. Flavor was not a noticeable attribute of most beverages. They were crammed with vitamins, minerals, hydrates and calcium, but they nearly all had a bland, universal flavor, diversified with nothing more than a bit of citrus taste or fruit sweetener. One glass of this wine would dilute into three liters of synthewine and people would call it delicious. “We need a trade list,” he said dreamily. “Coffee, sugar…”
“I’ve gotta go,” interrupted Oyagek. “Trouble on the home front.”
“No, a little matter of a sick nephew.”
It was his brother. That’s what he always said when something was brewing that wasn’t quite pleasant and that his brother had found his way into. “Send my condolences,” muttered Klaus, and sat back to enjoy his solitude.