For All Nails #189: (Can't Get No) Satisfaction
by Johnny Pez
Sir Geoffrey Gold peered uncertainly at the grey metal box perched incongruously atop the oval oak table in the cabinet room. "Are you quite certain this will work?"
"So the boffins assure me," said Foreign Secretary Eustace Sudbury. "Something to do with bouncing radio signals off of artificial planetoids."
The grey box crackled to life. "Good evening, can anyone hear me?"
Even had he not recognised the voice, Sir Geoffrey would have known that the speaker was somewhere in the Far East, as it was still a few minutes shy of nine in the morning in London.
"Good morning, Mr. Loy," Sir Geoffrey answered him. "We hear you loud and clear."
"Ah, Sir Geoffrey," said the grey box in the unmistakably fruity tones of the Australian Governor-General. "A pleasure as always, dear fellow. Is there anyone else with you?"
"Mr. Sudbury and Mr. Chase," Sir Geoffrey answered. "Is there anyone else with you?"
"Mr. Parsons and Mr. Antonelli," Loy answered. That would be Foreign Minister Alvin Parsons and War Minister Arthur Antonelli. Australia had been the recipient of a steady stream of Italian immigrants between the Bloody Eighties and the Global War, and they made up the country's largest non-British minority. Which was all well and good for the Stuffies, but how British could they be with all those people named Antonelli and DiMeglio and whatnot? One only had to look at the state of the Johnnies to see where that sort of thing could lead.
Sir Geoffrey's thoughts on suspicious surnames were interrupted by a German-accented voice from the grey box. "Good morning, gentlemen. This is Exterior Minister Merkel, along with Chancellor Grauer. As the Chancellor is not fluent in English, I will serve as his translator this morning."
Sir Geoffrey returned Merkel's greeting, as did Governor-General Loy. It still felt odd working together with the Wieners, FN1 and Sir Geoffrey would have been perfectly happy to leave them out of the whole business. However, King Christian Gustav, whose idea this had all been, had been dead keen on getting them involved, and Sir Geoffrey could see the sense in it. The Wieners, damn them, were the most powerful nation in the world, despite the relative decline they had suffered in recent years. Besides, if they were left out, there was always the possibility that they might align themselves with the Dagos.
"Good evening, gentlemen, " came another voice from the grey box. This time, the accent was distinctly Mexican, which Sir Geoffrey always found ironic. That, however, was the language spoken by educated Taiwanese; a legacy of Kramer Associates' national origins.
"Good morning, Prime Minister Lin," said Sir Geoffrey. Merkel also wished the Prime Minister a good morning, while Loy of course wished him a good evening in return.
"I am joined today," said Lin, "by Mr. Soong and Mr. Sebastian." Soong was Lin's Minister of Defense, while Sebastian was Acting President of what remained of Kramer Associates.
"Good evening, Mr. Lin," a new voice replied to the Taiwanese Premier.
"Good evening, Mr. Sucharitkul," Lin said. "Is Admiral Taksin there with you?"
"He is, yes," said Sucharitkul, the Siamese Premier. Admiral Taksin was the Siamese Foreign Minister. Sir Geoffrey introduced himself to Sucharitkul, as did Merkel and Loy. It had been Loy's idea, Sir Geoffrey recalled, to invite the Siamese to the Bornholm conference. The Twinks had seconded the proposal, and neither the Wieners nor the Vikings had objected. For his part, Sir Geoffrey hadn't understood the necessity, but he had bowed to the others' wishes.
"Good morning, gentlemen," came one last voice, that of Chancellor von Moltke of Scandinavia. "I apologise for my tardiness, but I was unavoidably detained." Sir Geoffrey had been wondering about that -- usually the Vikings were as punctual as the Wieners.
"Is His Majesty with you?" Merkel asked.
"Regretfully, no," said von Moltke to Sir Geoffrey's surprise. "Marshal Lauritzen is here on behalf of His Majesty, who is regrettably indisposed." Sudbury and Chase returned Sir Geoffrey's look of puzzlement. The Bornholm conference had been Christian Gustav's pride and joy, his first act of global leadership. It was Sir Geoffrey's impression that Christian Gustav would sooner give up his right hand than miss a second meeting between all the principal actors, even one conducted via telephone. Was there something going on under the surface in Copenhagen? Silly question, really; there was always something going on under the surface in Copenhagen. There was nobody on earth as two-faced as a Viking. Still, Sir Geoffrey couldn't help wondering what the King's absence portended.
The question of who would act as host of the telephonic conference had been a delicate one. The Scandinavians had supplied the initial impetus, the Germans had supplied the artificial planetoids, the Taiwanese and the Australians were held to be the aggrieved parties, and the United Empire was supplying most of the military force. All of these claims had served to cancel each other out, with the result that the Siamese wound up being the hosts by default.
"Now that we are all present," said Sucharitkul, "let us begin these proceedings. The first order of business is to receive the reports on the consequences of our demarche to the governments of Mexico and New Granada. I yield the, er, floor to Mr. Merkel, who will report on the response of the Mexican government."
After a brief pause, Merkel said, "I am happy to report that the Mexican response to our demands has been a satisfactory one. Ambassador Eichel's investigative teams have been given full access to the Department of War offices in Coyoacán as well as the atomic weapons facilities in Los Alamos and Nuevo Conyers. The teams report that Mercator and most of his inner circle within the War Department disappeared from Mexico after the 23rd of December. Also at this time an experimental atomic-powered submersible disappeared from the NUSM base at Pearl Harbour.
"Our teams have concluded that Mercator and his clique within the War Department absconded with the submersible before the detonation of the Bali bomb took place. The teams have further concluded that knowledge of the plot to attack Bali was confined to the Mercator clique, and was deliberately withheld by them from President Moctezuma and the rest of the Mexican government. As we agreed at Bornholm, copies of the investigative teams' report are being sent to Copenhagen, and delivered there to the Amalienborg Palace and to the embassies of the other signatory powers.
"In light of the findings of the investigative teams, His Imperial Majesty's government recommend that President Moctezuma and his government be absolved of all blame for the events of 26 December, that the powers signatory to the Bornholm Instrument restore full diplomatic relations with the United States of Mexico, and that the USM be invited to participate in future collective efforts by the Interested Powers."
Leaning in towards Sudbury, Sir Geoffrey whispered, "Why, they're letting the Wogs get off scot-free! We ought to at least get them to pay some sort of indemnity!"
"I rather doubt President Poo-Poo would agree to that," the Foreign Secretary whispered back. "More to the point, I doubt Chancellor Grauer would agree to it."
"Thank you, Mr. Merkel," said Sucharitkul. "Does anyone wish to question Mr. Merkel, or otherwise comment upon his report?"
Von Moltke spoke up. "On behalf of His Majesty's government, I wish to endorse Mr. Merkel's recommendation that full diplomatic relations be restored with the United States of Mexico. In recognition of the fact that several of the powers present did not maintain full diplomatic relations with the USM before the Bali incident, we recommend that their relations be restored to the status quo ante."
"I concur," Lin said simply.
"I as well," said Loy.
Sighing to himself, Sir Geoffrey added, "And I as well." In the United Empire's case, the status quo ante meant pretending the USM didn't exist. No postwar British government, even Fuller's cowardly lot, had had the temerity to offer peace to those treacherous Wogs.
"We also endorse Mr. Merkel's recommendation," said Sucharitkul. Well, no surprise there. The Siamese had been allied to the Wogs during the war, of course they'd support restoring relations with them. Sucharitkul continued, "We now yield the floor to Sir Geoffrey Gold, who will report on the response made by the Neogranadian government to the demarche."
Glancing from time to time at his notes, Sir Geoffrey began to speak. "Unfortunately, our own experience with New Granada has not been as pleasant as Mr. Merkel's has been with the Mexicans. In light of King Ferdinand's admission of New Granadan complicity in the Bali attack, and in light of considerable evidence that New Granada continues to maintain some form of contact with former Secretary Mercator, His Britannic Majesty's government felt that Colonel Elbittar's government ought to be held to more stringent conditions than President Moctezuma's government. Accordingly, our demarche to the New Granadans required their assent to permanent international oversight of their atomic weapons facility in Camacho City. The New Granadans have been steadfast in their opposition to this requirement, with the result that His Britannic Majesty's government do not feel themselves answered in a satisfactory manner by the New Granadan government.
"Consequently, it is the recommendation of His Britannic Majesty's government that the government of New Granada be compelled, by whatever means may be necessary, to yield up control over their atomic weapons production facilities to the nations signatory to the Bornholm Instrument."
"Thank you, Sir Geoffrey," said Sucharitkul. "Does anyone wish to question Sir Geoffrey, or otherwise comment upon his report?"
Loy immediately spoke up. "On behalf of His Australian Majesty's government, I wish to endorse Sir Geoffrey's recommendation that the New Granadans be required to yield control over their atomic weapons facilities."
Once again, Lin said simply, "I concur."
Sir Geoffrey found himself holding his breath. He'd known beforehand that he could count on the Stuffies and Twinks to support coercive measures against the Dagoes. The question was how the other three nations would react.
"I concur as well," said von Moltke. Not too surprising there - the Vikings had been in bed with the Twinks for years before Christian Gustav had pulled his little stunt in July.
"As do I," said Merkel, and now Sir Geoffrey was surprised. The Wieners had no cause to love Kramer Associates, and little reason to grieve for their demise. Sir Geoffrey had been half expecting Merkel to oppose his recommendation, and had been prepared to see the Wieners withdraw from the Bornholm process.
Sir Geoffrey immediately became suspicious. What were the Wieners after? Were they hoping to act as a drag on the upcoming war with New Granada? Were they intent on twisting the Bornholm process to their own ends?
"And I concur as well," said Sucharitkul. And that was it. The Bornholm signatories had just endorsed Sir Geoffrey's call for war upon New Granada. Alexander Elbittar had just had his bluff called, as had Lennart Bloody Skinner. The British fleet that was even now steaming across the Atlantic towards the Caribbean could call upon the other five nations for material support, and with any luck the threat posed to the world by the Camacho City facility would be eliminated.
So why was he suddenly so uneasy?
Forward to FAN #190: Going to California.
Forward to 14 January 1975 (American War): The Dingoes of War.
Forward to Great Britain: The World is a Vampire.
Return to For All Nails.