7 - Clan Amir: The U MAMA War
Copyright 2007 by Ernest Bywater as Ernest Edwards
The dinner is just as boring and full of politics as can be expected of such affairs. Many of the senior diplomats are upset about their junior advisers having been invited, and invited in a manner to make refusal seem rude. Instead of being the long sit down dinner with speeches most expect it’s a buffet style meal with soft dance music. Those who want to can dance, which many of the younger ones do. Or they can gather in groups and talk, which many of the serious lobbyists do. The Berant contingent is prepared to discuss anything, but they make no promises or commitments.
The US Secretary of State makes sure to corner Lord Robert about the bi-national Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Berant is recognised as the major player on the international scene for their region, and none of the other regional governments would think of entering into agreements that were different to those Berant have signed. They’d seen how Berant refused to bow down to pressure and has prospered by not getting too closely tied to countries with larger economies. What Berant does and agrees to the others will agree to. If Berant caves in the whole region will sign up. That will be a major political coup for Madam Secretary of State. It’ll open the way for her nomination as one of the first female nominees for the presidential race when the current President must step down at the end of this term. She believes any weakness on her part will see her lose her chance of being the first female President of the US. In her eyes her whole career hangs on forcing the Berant government to sign the document as it is. She’s threatening to establish a boycott of US trade with Berant if they don’t sign, and sign soon.
There are four major sticking points in the FTA. The adoption of US laws on Intellectual Property and Patents because Berant adheres strictly to the Berne Conventions and it refuses to have the corporately biased US laws. The Extradition clauses because the Berant government refuses to sign unless the US government will act to arrest and process two hundred and fifty-seven US citizens wanted for conspiracy to murder in Berant, fifty-three are CIA agents while the rest a very prominent US businessmen. The Senate and Congress want to remove a clause applying it to criminals wanted for crimes prior to the treaty becoming active. The US wants Berant to change the laws on foreign companies hiring locals and thus allow more US citizens to work in the country. The US wants Berant to create laws allowing for non-living legal entities because the current laws make the senior corporate executive in the country the personal owner of all corporate property in the country. When a company’s been found to be involved in unlawful activities the senior executive is held personally responsible, tried, convicted, sentenced, and all the assets confiscated if that’s called for. Several companies have suffered huge losses when their senior staff have been bribed to become involved in acts of brigandage and held responsible, thus losing major corporate assets. The US position on these items is totally unacceptable to the Berant government and the Secretary of State is not going to approve any document that doesn’t include her versions of clauses on these issues. Plus she has the support in the Senate to get her way.
At one point during the evening Gerry finds himself with a group of junior advisers that includes the youngest presidential aide, Harry Stivers, and a senior adviser to the Secretary of Defence. It took him over an hour to make this look like a natural gathering. Gerry steers the conversation around to the FTA and he gets them talking about it. Peter Davidson, an assistant adviser on economics says, “I’ve studied the balance of trade figures and if you don’t sign you stand to lose a major trading partner plus the bulk of your hard currency. You buy from us only one quarter of what you sell to us. We provide eighty-five percent of your international currency. How do you propose to handle that?”
Gerry smiles while saying, “I suggest you dig deeper into those trade figures. Madam Secretary of State obviously hasn’t. About forty-five percent of our US generated income is dividends and profits from US businesses owned by Berant citizens, plus about thirty percent is from tourism. No trade boycott will affect those. And any efforts to pass laws stopping us from continuing to control and operate what we already own will see over one hundred thousand people out of work. That’ll have serious repercussions at the next elections. The next problem will be the US military having to use more expensive but lower quality equipment than supplied by Berant companies. You may not realise it, but there are several US companies with Defence contracts that are reliant on their Berant parent companies for essential parts and materials. Paladin Plate supplies your troops’ body armour; the Eagle fighters are a Berant design. How would Defence like to give up those to pay more for lower quality? The thing that should frighten you the most is the fact we’re supplying you with the latest in military combat sensors and computers. Since we export it to you we don’t have to worry about your laws or agreements on what to do with technology we import from you. At present we choose not to sell that gear to the people on your technical sanctions list. If you lock us out of your market you can’t blame us for finding markets elsewhere. As Madam Secretary of State is fond of saying: business is business.” He stands there assessing the effects of his words on the advisers.
He’s got his message across - don’t start an economic war you can’t win. Many are thinking about how to tell their bosses. He says, “As for the FTA, all we need to do is let it die in these discussions because not signing won’t hurt us. Then at the next election we just support anyone standing against Madam Secretary of State’s party in her state. When her party loses her seat in the Senate they’ll drop her and she’s no longer a concern. I’m sure we can organise it because sixty thousand of the people whose jobs are at stake are from her state.” Smiling, he leaves to deliver his message to other junior advisers as he knows they’ll tell their bosses and they’ll check the data. If you can’t change a person’s mind on the issues, change the person. She wants to use Berant for her political advancement, so she can’t blame the Berant government for fighting back in the same way. Providing this exact information is the primary political reason for this trip. Gerry wanders off to other groups for more discussions on many subjects with political intrigue buried deep within them.
By the end of the evening many senior advisers are asking Lord Robert the appropriate questions on these matters, and they’re not liking the answers they get from him. They’ve just found out they’ve got a tiger by the tail when they thought they were trapping a mouse. Madam Secretary of State ends up having a very quiet, but intense, discussion with the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Defence. The evening is a great success for Berant and is thoroughly enjoyed by all but Madam Secretary of State, as she’s extremely upset about what they’ve just found out - yet it was always there to see if she ever bothered to look properly.
The morning is clear and bright. This is a rest day for all of the Berant advisers and Lord Robert has an informal morning meeting with the Vice President of the US while they play golf together. Gerry is off to spend the day with Don Mario and family. Gina’s birthday party is a large and happy event.
Everyone is quite taken with his gift of a very elegant and form fitting formal evening gown designed especially for her. It’s from the House of Yancey, the rarest and most prestigious of the private dress designers. They’re very rare because very few people know how to contact the designer or how to commission dresses. The fact Gerry can commission one is a very big surprise for Gina. All of the females present are jealous of her good luck in receiving one, and are envious of how good she looks in it.
In the evening Gerry escorts Gina, Francesca, and Marcus to New York. The Don will follow later. They arrive at the dock just before midnight and are soon settled into cabins on Gerry’s current yacht, the Sea Dream. It’s only two years old and is a much larger version of Dream Girl. So many people are borrowing Dream Girl, and now it’s a bit cramped for family trips so he designed Sea Dream. Dream Girl was big with a length of twenty-six metres, overall width nineteen metres, and the main hull width of six metres with fourteen cabins. Sea Dream keeps the same basic shape and design but it’s bigger with a longer aspect so the length to width ratio is obviously different. Sea Dream is sixty-two metres long, thirty-three metres wide, has thirty-nine larger cabins with their own en-suites and three lounges. Sea Dream has four much larger water jet engines. It’s a much larger and more luxurious craft, and it’s able to house most of the family on their outings. Made from Nolar Three Sea Dream is capable of withstanding the roughest storms.
Lord Robert arrives before Gerry and his group of travellers. The Sea Dream brought Robert’s wife, Carly, as well as members of Gerry’s family. Maria, Vicky, Isobelle, and a dozen of his children. The next day is a very festive day-long party. Don Mario arrives around noon and he’s very happy to see them all.
Monday morning is fine and sunny. At breakfast they discuss everyone’s agenda for the week. Carly, Robert, and Vicky will be visiting some important businessmen and politicians, federal and state, in New York and surrounding states. Angie will return to Washington to make preparations for Donna’s operation. Don Mario, Francesca, Maria, and Marcus will do some shopping and take the yacht out for a nice long cruise. Gerry, Isobelle, and Gina will visit some people in Colorado, Texas, and California. All of them will meet again in Washington on Friday. They all spend a pleasant morning together discussing many things, then they leave the yacht about noon.
After having flown to the Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Texas, Gerry decides to take things easy, so they go sightseeing. After an easy afternoon and evening he retires for the night.
Gerry is just finishing breakfast when a local agent arrives at his hotel. They travel to a house in an average middle class suburb. A college student is just leaving for class when Gerry walks up while saying, “Daniel Jackson, I’d like a word with you, if I may?”
Following Dan out the door is his father who aggressively asks, “What do you want with my son?”
Gerry smiles as he says, “I’d like to offer him a job. The terms include the completion of his current studies, but at Amarayah University in Carmel, Berant, all of the fees and costs are to be paid for by us.” He hands over the employment contract, a copy to each of them. He says, “Take your time, study the contract, make some inquiries. Just let me know your answer by next Monday, please. I’ll be waiting to hear from you, Byte Boy.” Daniel looks up at the reference to his hacker name. Mr Jackson is whistling at the terms of the contract when Gerry walks away. Putting his arm around his son he leads him back inside. They’ll both be late, but this is too important. Still in college and his son is being offered a better salary than he has.
The rest of the day is spent visiting many businesses to encourage them to do business with Berant. Gerry also spends some time talking to the local managers of some of the businesses he owns or manages for the clan.
That evening they fly out of Texas for Denver Centennial Airport in Colorado. On arrival they check into a hotel and sleep to mid-morning.
The afternoon is spent talking to local businessmen and doing some sightseeing. They spend the evening watching two local high-school girls’ basketball teams play in a fund raising match for local charities. His local agent gives him the low-down on one of the players. Gerry timed his arrival to attend this match. The half-time break is an extended affair with people being asked to ante up money for the players to do various basketball related challenges. One person offers a thousand dollars for each player who scores from a free shot taken from the mid-court centre circle. Gerry asks the agent to find a local business representative he asked to be here, and to prepare a document for him.
The half-time activities are just coming to a close when Gerry walks down to one of the teams and he asks to speak to a player. On being given approval he walks up to her and he speaks to her. The girl goes bright red while her nearby teammates giggle. Some tease her and encourage her to do it. The announcer sees what’s happening, so he comes over when Gerry signals to him. Putting his hand in his pocket Gerry draws out a large wad of notes. At his request the announcer asks one of the local police officers to join them. He’s an expert on fraud and counterfeit banknotes. He examines the notes and pronounces them to be genuine. Looking at the girl Gerry starts counting notes into her hand. Reaching five hundred notes he stops, and says, “Well? That’s as far as I’m prepared to go. Will you do it?” Her teammates are astounded, and they just stare at her.
Looking Gerry in the eyes she asks, “May I please speak to my mother about this?” He nods yes. She hands him the money, turns, and signals to a woman in the crowd. They meet near the end of the bench, and talk. The woman suddenly looks up to stare at Gerry, they talk some more. She comes back while she nods her agreement to do the task.
Gerry smiles when he hands the money to the announcer as he explains the deal. The announcer is stunned by the challenge. Gulping, he takes the money to the event organisers. Everyone has been watching this little event, so they’re all ears when the microphone is turned on. The rest of her team huddle around the girl while she prepares for the challenge. Gerry walks out into the key at one end.
The announcer says, “The challenge is for fifty thousand dollars. The young man will stand on the edge of the free throw circle and try to block the shots while guard Anita Lancer takes three free throws. She’ll win twenty-five thousand dollars for each point she makes. This is an increased difficulty event because the shooter must do this task wearing only her panties.” The crowd gasps because the shots are easy and Anita has a good percentage from the free throw line. But undressed and over a defender looking at her from less than a metre and a half away, she’ll be very embarrassed and put off.
Gerry is now in position in a defensive stance. Another of Anita’s team is on hand holding three basketballs. Anita walks out in a long coat. Reaching the free throw circle she takes it off to stand there in her skimpy pink panties and a full body blush. She takes the first ball and bounces it, then gets ready to shoot. Gerry says, “Anita, take your time, calm down, focus, and shoot when you’re ready. Don’t rush it. You want the money, and I’m enjoying the view.”
She takes a deep breath, bounces the ball again, and focuses on the ring. Taking a light spring jump she makes a perfectly launched shot. Good shot, clean, nothing but net. The crowd screams with joy. Gerry smiles and nods, she smiles as she reaches for another ball. It’s handed to her. She concentrates, springs, shoots. All net again. The crowd is ecstatic. She stops blushing, she holds her hand out and is given the third basketball. Another perfect shot. All three clean, all only net. Grinning, Gerry walks over to pick up the long coat and to put it over her shoulders. Her teammates rush forward and they hug her.
Gerry walks over to the organiser’s bench and peels off another thirty thousand dollars while saying, “Twenty-five grand a point, she made all three. So here’s the extra twenty-five grand, plus five more for being such a good sport.” Hearing this over the live microphone makes the crowd go wild. The fifty thousand was enough to get their target, and now they’re well over the target.
Walking back to the stands Gerry speaks to his agent and the person he went to get. He signs some paperwork and he hands the man two cheques with some instructions. Smiling, the man walks over to the coach of Anita’s team and he hands her a cheque while he explains it’s for the school’s girls’ basketball program to be spent how she sees fit. The coach stares at the cheque for twenty thousand dollars, this’ll allow the girls to make the tour program the girls want, and lots of new gear too. She’s standing there stunned, until a loud yell from the girls makes her jump. Turning, she learns the challenger has paid for a fully supported scholarship for Anita to go to the college of her choice; he did this because she was such a good sport in such an embarrassing situation. Anita is stunned, and her mother is very happy. Without this Anita would never have gotten to college. Her mother is a single parent of three teenagers and she can’t afford it. They all turn to look for their benefactor, but they can’t see him as he’s vanished into the crowd again.
Sitting near the top of the bleachers, and wearing a different jacket, Gerry is smiling at the smiles on their faces. Everyone wins from this little event. Giggling, Gina squeezes his arm while asking, “Were her tits really worth that much to look at?”
With a smile he says, “To me, they were. Look at the smile on her face, her mother’s, and her teammates. Also, the crowd got a bit of enjoyment out of the show and the various charities will do much good work with the money. If I’d offered her a scholarship outright she’d have refused, now she can’t.” Gina smiles as she nods her understanding.
Anita’s team is in such high spirits and powered up the opponents don’t stand a chance. They’re totally creamed during the second half.
On her way home from the game Anita reads the scholarship in detail. Reading the name of the scholarship purchasing organisation she turns to her mother to ask, “Mother, where have I heard the name Berant before?”
Startled, her mother says, “Why, that’s the name of the country your father was born in overseas. Why do you ask?”
Looking up Anita says, “This scholarship was bought and paid for by the Berant Citizen’s Educational Fund. Do you think the challenge was done just to make me accept their help?”
After pulling to the side of the road her mother stops the car. Taking the paperwork from Anita she reads it. In wonder she says, “Your father always said to contact the Berant Embassy if we ever needed anything to see us right. He said they’d look after us proper. On his death bed he said, ‘Call the embassy, ask for the Great Falcon’s help.’ I put it all down to more of his idealism. But now I’m not so sure. They’ve gone to a lot of trouble and effort to put you in a situation where you can’t refuse this like you’ve refused the charity from the people at school. I wonder if they’ll help out with your brother and sister?”