**Telum, Capital of Inimicus
January 9th 2015
DEUTSCHIAN VISIT TO INIMICUS**
Newly-elected Foreign Affairs Minister Sarah Gladwell was waiting in the usual room at the Imperial Aerodrome near Telum. Even though she had been present at summits like this one in the past dozens of times, leading this one, her first action as FA Minister, made her slightly nervous. Especially hosting a summit with a controversial nation like Deutschia was fairly unnerving. She meant no ill will against the Deutschians - she was a woman, after all, so she was sure they would respect her - but the recent news reports originating from the country made her cringe. Exporting male homosexuals - and only male homosexuals, and even offering them as a trade resource on the stock market was a bridge too far for her. However, she would have to be polite, leave personal matters outside of this, and attempt to get a good trade deal and better relations out of this summit.
"Your Excellency, the Deutschian plane is making its final approach. If you would accompany me outside", an airport secretary announced. It was cold outside. The Inimician winter was exceptionally tough, despite the country having a fairly southern position. Gladwell did not know much about the Deutschian climate, but even if winter was as tough as in Inimicus, she was sure the Deutschian Foreign Minister did not appreciate today's cold - or perhaps he did, depending on his preferences. At least the 'Goddess Wooo' herself was not visiting Inimicus. Even though Emperor Artabanos was formally a divine being, like the Deutschian head-of-state, no one in Inimicus takes the Imperial Cult seriously, and Gladwell would have had a hard time getting all the minor formalities right when speaking to someone who is actually considered a Goddess. She had heard of the 'nitpicking' Deutschians indulged in when it comes to addressing the Goddess by her proper title, and without ill will, she was glad she was meeting her counterpart, the Foreign Minister, instead.
The plane touched down with screeching tyres, and came to a halt about ten metres from the Inimician delegation. Gladwell saw the doors open, and the Deutschian Foreign Minister appear from the plane.
A tall, dark and extremely handsome man strode from the plane, covering the distance remarkably quickly, stopping right in front of Minister Gladwell, and a few centimeters too close at that. He looked at her up and down and stared into her eyes, but stayed silent
Well that was, to say the least, not what Minister Gladwell had expected. She had always thought Deutschia was as matriarchal as matriarchies could get, but did not even know the Foreign Minister was a man. Oh well. It didn't matter, anyway.
She shaked the man's hand, his grip was stiff. He was an intimidating man, and compared to Gladwell's own short stature, very tall. She could not deny he looked attractive, though. Heading to the motorcade which would take them to Parliament, where non-Imperial meetings usually take place, the Ministers tried their best at keeping up small talk.
"Please, do tell me about Deutschia. I haven't heard much about your nation apart from the recent controvery it's been in", Gladwell asked the Deutschian Minister as they were sat in the limousine.
The man looked at Minister Gladwell impassively.
"Greetings. I am afraid I am not authorized to do so. That is a matter for Her Foreign Minister."
Upon seeing her confusion, he said, "Her Foreign Minister is actually still on the plane. I am but her all-in-one ASS - aide, scribe and slave."
Just then, a short and older woman bustled over to the limousine, flanked by two pink Deutschian ninjas. She squeezed in between the man and Minister Gladwell, and proceeded to shake hands animatedly.
"Minister Gladwell! By the grace of the great Goddess, very nice to meet you! I am Her Foreign Minster, Marie Opreskt. I apologize for tarrying, but the Inimican plane was so comfortable! What are those things - cushions? What an ingenious invention! I couldn't bear to leave the seats ... and when we landed! The view! This Aerodrome is simply magnificent! It's like being in another world! Wow! By the grace of the magnificent Goddess - ruler of everything - this room has cushions too? Ahhh...." She sank back into the seat of the limousine.
Beside her, the ASS, who had been staring straight ahead, then began scribbling on parchment.
The Minister's guards were immediately alerted at the sight of foreign armed forces on Inimician soil. "I'm sorry, Your ....Holy.... Excellency", one of the guards said, "Your pink ninjas are not allowed to wear any kind of armament while on Inimician soil. I will have to take them for a search."
When the security matter had been dealt with, and the real Foreign Minister seated, an awkward silence began in the limousine. A nation that had never heard of pillows and cushions? A nation that kept its record on parchment? Dead goat's skin? "Well... different strokes for different folks, each to their own", Gladwell thought.
"Well, Foreign Minister, please do tell me about your nation. I know next to nothing about it and am keen to learn", she said.
Opreskt waved a hand at the pink ninjas. "Never liked them anyway ... they are entirely subservient to the Goddess, all bless Her Holy Soul. To answer your question, first and foremost it must be known that all in Her Holy Realm serve Goddess Zerthea Wooo. That is the point of our existence, because it was she who managed to single-handedly unify the nation after over centuries of strife. Previously, Deutschia was made of three states Bray, Shrew and Wooo. Goddess Wooo was the deity and leader of Wooo at the time. She conquered the two rebel states Bray and Shrew with her holy power, wiping out much of the traitorous Brayan vermin and plotting Shrewster scum. So, after uniting the whole country, the Holy One decided that her Greatness must be spread. She need not rule over the whole region, but it would do everyone a whole lot of good to be Enlightened by the Kind One. That is why Deutschia is making inroads into the international scene, that is Deutschia's story ... and what of Inimicus? The Goddess would like to hear of your Emperor."
Well.... Apparently, Minister Gladwell was now 'enlightened' by the Deuschian Goddess. She found Deutschia's tale an interesting one, however, and listened to the Foreign Minister with attention.
"We're due to arrive at Parliament. I will try to be as brief as possible. Inimicus began in 1342, when a nomadic tribe settled in the land we are currently driving through. They were known as the Adstringo, literally meaning "those who are tied together", and built a city, which, after an attack by a hostile tribe, they named Telum, "weapon". A civil war broke out in 1402, won by the enemies of the then King. The First Kingless Age began. These "Inimici" (Latin for enemy) established Parliament in its first form and the Kingdom of Inimicus was born with an elected monarch in 1404.
A second civil war overthrew the Kings, who had now managed to encompass Inimicus's current territories, and a military dictatorship was founded, the Republic of Telum. The Second Kingless Age had begun. This dictatorship fared well in its early years, but in the late 20th century and early 21st century it enouncered problems. A large political party known as the Teluminan Monarchy Party, of which I was a member myself, stirred trouble for the Presidential administration. In 2011, the third Inimician civil war began. A year later, the Republic was overthrown and the Empire of Inimicus was formed.
"In 1421, King Onomakritos declared himself a deity and was hailed by the people. Back then, this Imperial Cult was real and people actually took Kings for gods. This 'tradition' was reinstated two years past, and thus Emperor Artabanos is factually a deity, and the Imperial Cult is the state religion of Inimiucs. However, Inimicus is extremely secularised, the separation between church and state is as clear as glass: religion is not subsidised, not taught in school, and no political parties may draw manifesto issues from religion. The Emperor does have absolute power, however, although he must keep to Inimician laws and the constitution."
The limousine pulled into Parliament Square just as the Minister was finished. The two Ministers and the Slave (slavery did, by law, not exist in Inimicus, however, so technically the man was no slave) disembarked the vehicle and were led into Parliament by an aide. Minister Gladwell showed the Deutschians the magnificent House of Commons, but since no Ministers or members of the Commons are allowed to set foot inside the House of Nobles, she could not show them the Nobles Chamber. Instead, they settled down in a comfortable lounge - complete with pillows and cushions - and started the actual summiting.
Opreskt could not help herself. "Why, what a wonderful place ... seems even better than the House of the Goddess ... and eons better than any Deutschian government hut!" She lay down and stretched. "Oh, I hope you don't mind, I can't help it! Where was I actually ... oh yes, that was a wonderful depiction of the history of Inimicus! Altough, some might even say that deities with no power are more man than god ..." She stared hard at the ASS beside her, and smacked his head. "What an insolent thought, boy! You might offend the Inimici! You must respect them!"
Turning to Minister Gladwell, Opreskt stated briskly while hugging a cushion, "I apologize for my ASS' mistake. He will be punished more later. Now, down to business, then! Hopefully we can establish a trade deal. The Goddess wants no repeat of the terrible famine that struck 17 years ago, which wiped out 17% of our population..."
Trying to igore her counterpart's love for pillows, Gladwell focused on the negotiations: "Yes of course. Inimicus can most definitely trade food supplies. The large open fields in the east of our country play host to huge farming corporations which produce evenly huge quantities of grain and other agricultural products, all of which are available to trade. We are also currently working on expanding our fishing industry: Inimicus has a large coastline, but the Republican government abandoned fishermen - and fisherwomen, of course - by raising taxes on caught fish and fishing equipment. Under this Emperor's administration, the fishing industry has received subsidies and fishing companies are supported by any means possible. This has already resulted in a boom in our fish production, to the point at which we are now able to trade these products.
Does Deutschia have any other needs? What does it have to offer in return?"
"It's utterly terrible to hear how these poor fisherwomen are being mistreated. Yes, Deutschia does need fish. The Deutschian ninjas love eating pufferfish and stonefish, something like that, they are always clamouring for more of those, so we are looking to import that. On agriculture, we would like to import sweet potatoes, I think that that will contribute greatly to the daily diet of the average Deutschia, thrice a day might be good for them. On other needs, hmm..."
Opreskt reclined to stare at her ASS while upside down. He lifted his wrist and pointed at the back of his hand.
"Oh yes! Technology. We want bugging devices, you see. Micro-listening devices are the like. Does your country have them? In return, we have oil, gas, male homosexuals, and alcohol! We just banned alcohol, so we have to export all of it!"
When mention was made of the 'export' of male homosexuals, Minister Gladwell shrugged and gave her secretary a quick look. "Ah, yes. We most definitely have the technological capabilities to produce intelligence equipment, although I will have to ask you what this technology will be used for. The way you're asking me for this techonology implies you will use it for some sort of sinister purpose, and Inimicus would not want to be a part of that.
"So we will export fishing products, sweet potatoes, and possibly intelligence equipment, to Deuschia. Now on to what you will export to us in return. We would like to import Deutschian oil, most of all. However, I would like to stress that I find the 'export' of male homosexuals utterly disgusting. Please, can you elaborate on this subject. Why is Deutschia discriminating against male homosexuals? Do not take personal insult, my Emperor has instructed me to ask you about this since he is a bisexual himself and an avid LGBT rights activist."
"Minister Gladwell, you need not worry about the technology. I can straight-up assure you that it won't be used on the international stage, only within Deutschia. You see, powerful and beautiful as the Goddess may be, even she could not totally wipe out all of the no-good Brayans and Shrewsters. Their remnants of these states have formed terrorist groups against the Deutschian people. Only recently the Shrewsters attacked the editors of one of Deutschia's top magazines! The Goddess is sure some 'ordinary' Deutschians are assisting these rebels, and we need to find out who they are!"
"Now, about the male homosexuals, there was a time when all kinds of homosexuals were allowed in Deutschia. There were even unions for them! But then, about three years ago, the leader of the male homosexual union pledged allegiance to the Brayan rebels. He insulted the Goddess as being not open-minded and welcoming enough. That was too much for the Goddess. That particular union was outlawed immediately, but the leader escaped, and is now the number two in command of the Brayans. Many union members thus joined the Brayan rebels. The graceful Goddess is not evil, she did not order all male homosexuals to be executed. But they cannot be allowed to stay in Deutschia. That is why we are exporting them. I hope this answer will satisfy your Emperor. I also hope that he is keen on importing the male homosexuals."
"Hmm, well, yes, if you will excuse me I will make a quick phone call to the Imperial Palace to see what can be done", Minister Gladwell said as she stood up and walked over to the other end of the room, where she took her cell phone from her pocket and dialled a bookmark.
"It's Sarah, Your Majesty. Yes. Yes, they're here now, Sire. Their story is fascinating yet strange, Your Majesty. No, no I don't think so. Yes, I fear similarly, Sire. Alright. Yeah. Okay. See you soon, Your Majesty."
She walked back over to the table and sat down. "Right, His Majesty has agreed to invite Deutschian homosexual men to settle in Inimicus. We will not indulge in human trafficking, and as such would like to deal with this in a seperate agreement. We fear the men might face persecution in Deutschia, and as such will take them as refugees. I have been given the mandate to deal with this situation by His Majesty, and I would like to arrange transport as soon as possible.
"On to the main trade deal. We would be willing to offer Deutschia the technology it needs - obviously the details will have to be worked out by our trusty scribes and negotiators. So in return for sweet potatoes, fish, and technology, Deutschia will give us quantities of oil and allow us to extract your male homosexual minority from your country and give them asylum in Inimicus. Are there any other trade matters you might want to discuss?"
"Excellent, thank you, Minister Gladwell, and thank you to your Emperor as well, he seems to be as gracious as the Goddess Herself. Yes, we will have to settle the male homosexual transport issues. Are you really not interested in Deutschian-made alcohol? We will have to find other nations to take those, then."
Opreskt looked around nervously, then told her ASS, "Could you leave for a moment?" After he acquiesced, she leaned over and whispered to Gladwell. "Could I also have a few cushions for myself?"
Nervously sipping her hot beverage, Minister Gladwell promised her Deutschian counterpart she would give her some pillows and cushions from the Imperial Palace as a personal gift.
"Now, on to a different matter. As you might know, Inimicus has become a key producer of military technology and equipment, and a large arm-manufacturing nation. Perhaps Deutschia would be interested in purchasing some military equipment, vehicles, weaponry, or technology? We have sucessfully concluded an arms deal with Davishire - although there are currently doubts as to how justifyable that was - and as such have proven that we can be trusted."
Opreskt pondered for a moment, her eyes narrowing above the cushion she hugged. "Her Holy Realm doesn't ... spend too much on the military at the moment. We are not really seeking to expand our borders either ... we need to get our own house in order first. We are spending more on the police now ... unless you have civilian armoured cars, tear gas, silencers, and ... chloroform. You can never have too much of that. But what would you want in return? For your police, we've got extendable batons which can deliver electric shocks, Carolina Reaper sprays and spiked riot shields."
"Had you offered me spiked riot shields a year ago, I would've ordered a shipload full!", Minister Gladwell joked, referencing to the frequent rioting in Inimicus a fairly long time ago, "Nowadays, however, we are not faced with public disorder very often, although I am interested in trading police equipment with your nation. Now, your desperate craving for chloroform can most definitely be satisfied by Inimicus's booming chemical industry.
Are there any other matters you wish to discuss?"
"That should be all, I'd leave my A.S.S. to work out the nitty-gritty details with ... whichever A.S.S. you have. Pretty good for my first time conducting relations, I believe, and I got pillows, too! Oh, perhaps, there is one final issue..."
As she stood, Opreskt gestured to her A.S.S, who strode powerfully over and reached into his jacket. Gladwell's guards tensed, but the A.S.S. simply pulled out a red wine bottle. "It's Bull's Blood!" Opreskt beamed, "Minister Gladwell, this is the Cultured One's way of expressing her gratitude. Please accept it."
"Why, thank you!", Minister Gladwell said, slightly ashamed she had not brought anything special in return, "Please take all the pillows and cushions you want, they are plentiful around these parts."
The two Ministers were escorted to the Parliament's exit, where a motorcade was waiting to take the Deutschian delegation back to their home country. "Well, Your Excellency, this was most enjoyable and fruitful. We'll let the scribes and... A.S.S..... work out the rest, shall we? Have a safe journey homewards, and I hope I will meet you again one day."
Gladwell shook the Minister's hand, and waved as the Deutschians departed from Parliament.
"Clear! Minister, you may proceed," stated the A.S.S. from within the plane.
Opreskt sniffed, "I will miss this beautiful land of pillows," as she boarded. Two minutes later, she looked sharply at her A.S.S.
"Why are you still here? Don't you have work to do with their scribes? Get off! We'll send some form of transport back for you ... eventually!"
The A.S.S. did not wave as the plane departed. At least he could stay longer in comfortable Inimicus....