Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Life and Times of Aries Interlude 2: A Two Front War

Aries looked over the reports on his desk and sighed. He was so tired. He knew that the fight for independence was going to be tough, but he didn’t know that it would be this tough. He pressed the button on his desk to call Anthony.

“Coffee is on the way, sir,” Anthony said before Aries even had the chance ot say anything.

“How did...?” he started to ask, then stopped. This was Anthony. He often seemed to know what Aries needed before Aries did. “Thank you.”

“Sir,” Anthony said, which was really his way of saying there was something more.


“The Chinese Minister is here,” he aid simply.

What? He wasn’t due to be here for another hour. Aries wasn’t ready. He narrowed his eyes. That was probably the purpose of his arriving early. Well, this was his office. The other man would just have to wait.

“Of course,” Aries said, knowing that the other man could hear him across Anthony’s desk. “Well, as you know Anthony, I am still on the call to England. Please let him know that I will be with him right after that call is finished.”

“Of course, sir,” Anthony said. Aries could almost hear his smile through the phone. There was, of course, no call, but the bluff would give him time to get things in order. It had taken him the past year to get into the swing of things, but Aries was getting used to this job.

When he was ready, he buzzed Anthony again.

“Please send the Minister in,” he said.

The door opened, and the official representative of the Chinese government entered the room. He wasn’t tall, but solidly built, and wore a military looking uniform. He was also older, and his gray streaked hair and wrinkles on his face only added to the image of an imposing man who knew what he was doing. Especially when compared to the young and inexperienced Aries. Aries had learned, however, to avoid showing fear. He bowed to the other man and offered a seat. One of the benefits of having this office was the desk it self. Made of solid oak, a rarity on Mars, its size and solidness aided in giving Aries his own sense of intimidation. Aries had a comfortable chair across the desk that was raised up, so he was always looking down at the other man, who sat in a smaller chair that wasn’t too comfortable.

“Minister,” Aries said in Chinese.

“Please,” the man said in almost unaccented English, “Call me Xiaowen.”

“Of course, Xiaowen,” Aries said, switching back to English. “And you can call me Aries. Would you like some coffee or tea?”

“Tea would be fine, thank you,” Xiaowen said. “But while we wait, let’s get straight to business, shall we?”

“I like that,” Aries said. He ordered a cup of tea for the Minister from Anthony, and the two men sat down. “I assume that you have, of course, read over my proposal.”

“Of course,” he said. “I do have one question, however. What, exactly, is it that you think you can provide to the People’s Republic that we cannot already provide to ourselves?”

“Phobos,” Aries said immediately. He kept a straight face when he said the answer, but he wanted to grin when he saw how the Minister’s face fell at the mention of the moon.

“We already have the Martian moon,” the Minister said with a sneer.

“Well, technically, yes,” Aries replied. He stood and started walking around the desk. It was an old habit of his, one that Anthony had tried to dissuade him of. Aries had found, however, that it kept visiting dignitaries off balance, and so he continued to do it. “But here’s the thing. You see, most of the construction work on Phobos was done by Martians. Martians, I might add, that were loyal to the Free Mars movement.”

The Minister narrowed his eyes. “Do you have a point to make here, Prime Minister?”

Aries smiled. It was the first time anyone from China had refereed to him by that title. “Indeed I do. And it is this. We could, if we wanted to, destroy the entire Phobos colony very easily. It being your only source of minerals from Mars, that would be a huge blow to your war effort on Earth.”

“Is that a threat?” the Minister asked.

“No,” Aries said. “It is a truth. We would be capable of getting all the civilans out of the colony and down here before the destruction happened. All in all, it wouldn’t take us more than a dozen hours to pull off the entire operation. And as we are officially at war, who would blame us?”

“And you want China to officially recognize your independence for one colony?” the Minister asked, though he already knew the answer.

“I know you’re struggling on Earth, Xiaowen ,” Aries said. He made sure to use the Minister’s name, so as to re-enforce the power structure. “You’ve stripped your own country clean, and Korea isn’t providing nearly what you wanted. America has a heads up with its Helium 3 factory on Luna. And with Mars no longer providing resources, you were left with Phobos. Especially given that Phobos recently was discovered to have Helium 3 deposits. If we take that away from you, America will gain the upper hand. Not an outright victory, to be sure, you still outnumber everyone. But it would be a big blow. So, we offer you Phobos in return for our independence.”

The Minister glared at Aries as he returned to his desk and sat down.

“Agreed,” he said. Aries took a moment to make sure he actually heard him.

“Agreed?” he said, “Don’t you need to discuss this with your government first?”

“Please,” Xiaowen said. “We suspected such a move from you for some time, though we expected it to be a straight out military attack. Or even that you would sell the information of Phobos to the Americans. This was not quite what we planned for, but it’s the same result. We will agree to sign a treaty with the Martian Republic and publicly announce that we recognize your independence. We cannot afford a two front war any further.”

“Neither can we,” Aries said. “Neither can we.”

End Interlude

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