THE TERROR OF BARCELONA: PROLOGUE|
The United Nations sat on the bank of the East River on Manhattan Island as stoically as the modern structure could. The flags of the member states waved proudly in the early summer breeze but men and women walked beneath without even so much as a glance up at the headquarters of the organization that hoped to represent the entire world. The guards in their sky blue uniforms walked around the grounds in a slow and doddering manner only someone with guaranteed lifetime employment could ever muster. It was a serene picture of order and calm, projected to keep the population of the world content that the representatives of their governments were taking care of them and doing the best possible job for their countries in the most civilized and polite way.
In times of peace and general prosperity, the various delegates that weren't already on their way back to their home countries for some well deserved vacation were there as a public relations stunt to inform the odd visitor and his wife from Kansas that the Democratic Republic of North Korea really wanted nuclear weapons for their protection and that while Haiti may have undergone its third revolution this year, it was still a swell place to holiday during those cold winter months.
This was often better in theory than in reality as most visitors to New York preferred to visit Times Square and the chain restaurants that inhabited it than the most important diplomatic body in the world, regardless of its outstanding gift shop that sold t-shirts featuring its logo in a multitude of colors. Somehow it just didn't stack up well against sports network branded apparel. So the delegates passed the time by playing solitaire on their computers until their governments coughed up the cash to bring them home.
Not a single delegate had flown home though and expensive luxury yachts sat collecting barnacles in their births all over the world. The more questionable governments were actually a little relieved as the pressure to explain their latest human rights violation went unreported in the midst of the latest crisis that was stirring up the world's press in a beehive of frenzy. The United Nations may have looked docile from the outside but the floor of the Security Council chamber was in chaos. It was a closed session which was good for the dignity and world opinion of the representatives, permanent and temporary, who were on their feet pointing and screaming at one another. Paper fell from the ceiling its self in a manner that otherwise would have seemed festive, but was instead more like a white snow of anarchy.
The Permanent Representative from France stood on his table with his assistants arrayed behind him, sending a vitriolic stream of French profanity across the room to the American Ambassador who leaned back casually flipping the bird in return. As the noise reached its acme, it overwhelmed the banging of the gavel by Australian Ambassador, President of the chamber, trying to bring order to a room that was far beyond any. Sweat started to roll down his forehead from the effort until the handle of the hammer finally splintered and the head bounced off the lectern knocking him unconscious.
The din began to subside as the various ambassadors noticed one of their own had just gone down to injury. Several assistants to the English Representative rushed up to the fallen Australian and helped him gently to his feet. He held his forehead that was quickly bruising.
"Order," he begged weakly into the podium microphone. "Order please."
Slowly the various ambassadors took their seats with their assistants and attaches doing the same. Even the United States Representative retracted his finger and straightened his tie.
The French Ambassador stood and banged his fist on the table he stood on just moments before.
"I demand that we consider sanctions against the United States for their lawless action in the Pacific!"
"Vetoed," said the American Representative.
The Frenchman turned a distinct merlot red. "And that sanctions should also be discussed against America's allies in this matter!"
The British Ambassador raised his head which had previously been resting on his country's own table in a silent prayer that the session would just end so he wouldn't have to give up his eight o'clock dinner reservations. "Vetoed," he replied. The room grumbled and the tension began to rise again.
The American Representative smiled and reached over, slapping the Brit on the back in a show of camaraderie. The Englishman returned a withering look. His country may have been in bed with the United States on their latest misadventure and it may have been his job to justify the whole thing to the world, but he didn't have to like it.
The Chamber President could feel that things were about to be thrown again and he rubbed his head wound defensively.
"This is outrageous," bellowed the delegate from France. "We demand that justice be done for this unilateral invasion of a peaceful nation!" The room grumbled in agreement. The American contingent made silly faces and hand gestures and the tension rose another notch.
"Mister President," the French Ambassador begged. "Please?"
The Australian shrugged. There was nothing he could do.
"Mister President," said a voice from the section of the temporary members of the Security Council. "If I may?"
"The Council recognizes the Federal Republic of Germany," said the Chamber President, before falling backwards from a new bout of dizziness into one of the chairs lined up behind him. One of his own assistants rushed up to help.
As the German delegate began to speak, two people in the back of the room, un-noticed by everyone else too involved in the discussion on the floor, began to speak quietly to one another. Around their necks swung United Nations badges that bore no country markings but had the word "special" written across them in UN blue.
One of them, a tall handsome young man in a sharp gray suit holding a small stack of manila folders, leaned over to listen to the other, a short tough looking woman in a dark red skirt and matching jacket with distinguished gray hair. The man nodded a couple of times, and spoke something into her ear. She nodded also. They caught the end of the German's contribution to the discussion.
"...and if the United States does not remove their forces and civilian contractors from these lands, France and Germany will have no choice but to impose our own sanctions as discussed before," the German delegate said forcefully then took his seat to let it sink in.
The American Ambassador stood slowly, smoothing his tie, and buttoning his suit jacket. He shuffled the papers on the table in front of him for a moment and the room was silent, anticipating his response to the blatant threat by two of America's former allies. Finally, he looked up and around at the room, spotting the two in the far back, giving a familiar nod only they saw.
"While I appreciate the concern shown by the various countries in this room," he began slowly. "I would also like to remind the honorable Representatives from France and Germany that such an action would put you in breach of various WTO rules and treaties for which penalties could be levied."
The American sat down smiling while the British Ambassador groaned and put his head back on the table. The room remained silent for a moment until the French delegate, who was so red it looked like his head would pop like a champagne bottle any moment, leapt back up onto his table and resumed his stream of profanities. His assistants followed by throwing various pens and coffee cups while shouting insults in French. Soon the rest of the room exploded into a flurry of flying paper and projectile pens backed by words usually unspoken in such a diplomatic environment.
The two in the back of the room excused themselves from the chamber and exited into one the modern glass and blue tile hallways that connected the United Nations conference rooms.
"Well that was interesting," said the woman sarcastically. She reached inside her jacket and produced a pack of cigarettes with a book of matches. She tapped one out of the soft pack and thrust it between her lips.
"Ma'am," the man said carefully. "I don't think you can smoke in here."
"Fuck that," she mumbled as she struck a match, lit it and took a deep drag. "I think we have bigger things to worry about. Fucking French. Fucking Germans."
"Do you think they'll do it," he asked.
"Of course they'll do it. They've been waiting to do it and now they actually have a reason."
A United Nations security guard appeared around a corner and asked the woman to please extinguish her cigarette. She waved the badge around her neck at him with a dirty look and he scurried back to where ever he came from.
The man in the gray suit began to shuffle through his various folders until he found the one that met his needs, opened it, and passed it to the woman.
"I think we may have an even bigger problem then," he said.
"What the fuck?"
"If the French and the Germans follow through on their threat, we might be able to compensate with increased domestic production and a few other friendly countries, but Spain might be a problem."
"Spain," she asked, taken aback. "Those turncoat mother fuckers."
"Not Spain as a whole, but the Catalan region. There've long been rumbles, but the latest word is that it's getting more serious."
"Shit," she said, dropping her cigarette on the gray carpet that lined all the hallways and putting it out with a high-healed foot. "Do you have any idea what this will do to us?" She tapped her chin thoughtfully for a moment. "Get someone on it," she said. "I want this taken care of before it becomes really serious. Get someone equally serious."
MAIL this to a friend. They'll thank you for it later.