“I met discretely with someone. She didn’t say the request came from Doctor Chelan and beyond, but I am sure it was. I was given a list, two articles of legislation and two dates.” Raymond paused slightly for an interruption. None came. “My friend across the street pulled down two weeks of records for two committees, the interesting dates being not quite in the middle, and tracked the legislation back and forth in time, using the anonymizer. These Committees, two years back, both had senior Republic Counsellors added as members, for no obvious reason. And now the legislation has passed into law.”
“What do these laws do?” deWitt asked.
“I haven’t read them yet,” Raymond answered. “Friend says they’re effectively a complete trade embargo. Our goods must be carried only in our bottoms, and we have no cargo starships. Trade in goods must be on an even-dollar basis, by category. There are a lot of categories. If we sell them wheat, we can only use those Republic notes to buy corn or quinoa…there’s a long list of goods in each category. If something of ours is not in the list, it goes to the lowest-tech category, like gravel. If something of theirs is not on the list, it goes to the top, most-restricted category.”
“How charming,” de Witt said. “And many other words that would bleach your adolescent hair. Why didn’t our Embassy tell us about this?”
“I have another pair of files,” Raymond answered. “Supposedly the First Minister was informed, acknowledged the information, and deliberately didn’t say anything.”
Senator DeWitt was thunderstruck. “How could he not say? That’s beyond crazy! OK, pass off your other projects to Miles and Heather, and get through this.”
“Last word: These were passed into law. I did confirm that.” Raymond said as he rose.
“As you southern Americans would say, the Stellar Republicoids, God bless their sweet little hearts,” deWitt answered. “This is an emergency priority. Nothing else…no, keep your rounds in the research offices, having lunch with the young lady every day, and your visible routines, so none suspect, and I’ll cover lunches for you two. Oh, make a copy of whatever it is, and get it back to our source as soon as possible.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he answered.
The Union Senates and Lords
First Minister Question Period
“…in closing, I hope that I have adequately answered the wise and sensible question of the Honorable Member,” First Minister Cedric Drummond-McLaren said, “and hope that brings this Question Period to an end.”
Drummond-McLaren’s selection as First Minister of the Anglic Union, Elektra De Witt thought, was widely said to owe little to his brilliant ideas or strong leadership, since it was widely understood that he was utterly lacking in either of these characteristics, but instead said to owe much to his lack of objectionable traits. However, she thought, in exchange for our votes, the people who run him made a series of commitments that they have been dilatory and evasive in honoring. Indeed, they have not honored. Now they get to pay a price.
“The Honorable Leader of the National Union Party has invoked her right to ask a question,” Speaker Ariel D’Angelo said. “Lady De Witt, you have the floor.”