It was 2034 and it was the first time since the civil war of 2008 that Maxel and Rubicon had spoken. The meeting was to be at noon. The negotiating table was set up in a glass room on the bridge over the Rubicon Gorge - now called Maxel Gorge by you know who. Ironically the first real cooperation between the two countries was by the people who built the negotiating area.
The Maxel Republic had encamped five battalions of infantry, artillery and aerial surveillance within two kilometers of the bridge. You couldn't see any preparation at all on the Rubicon side.
The theatrics started at eleven. Maxel marched their troops and drove their tanks back and forward and they had a line of helicopters patrolling just inside their border every thirty seconds. The Rubicon Federation joined in the fun and sent in a light horse charge. The Maxel military laughed off course. The cavalry dismounted just near the bridge and gave an excellent demonstration of Tai Chi with sword and staff.
At five to twelve the official negotiating parties started to make there way to the bridge; Maxel in a huge armoured limousine; Rubicon on horseback. From what Maxel could see they were only armed with sword, staff and self-confidence.
Alexandra Wynne led the negotiating team; they were on the first horses; they were followed by twenty drummers drumming incredibly intricate patterns in 12/4 time; it had its roots in African war drumming. Then on horseback followed 200-300 people of all genders and ages. All the Rubicons except Alexandra had their faces painted bright blue.
Each side had nine negotiators; Alexandra Wynne and John Morgan faced each other across the short axis of an oval table. John Morgan had his five wives standing behind him. Both sides had television cameras present; Rubicon's went live to the nation and Maxel's went to military command and the Institute. The Maxel negotiators were on earpieces from military command and the Rubicon team were on high priority lines to Brent in Featherston Bunker.
All the Maxel negotiators were males between 40 and 60. Rubicon had tried to represent the range of its citizenry; Lisa was the youngest at 13, Innis the eldest at 84 and of course Alexandra had just turned 33.
"Thank you, gentlemen, for coming at such short notice. I'm Alexandra Wynne, Rubicon's convenor of war." She could hear laughs in John Morgan's earpiece. "And this is our team, David, Drusella, Elena, Innis, Lisa and Martin."
"It's very nice to meet you Alexandra, and your team. This is Brigadier Chappell, General Nash, Colonel Rodman, Colonel Younger and Attache Hargraves from the Maxel Institute. And behind us over here are my five lovely wives Fiona, Susan, Katherin, Margret and Elle - come on girls do your thing."
The wives stepped forward with flowers for each of the Rubicon negotiating team; Elle approached Alexandra and spoke on their behalf, "We the wives of Maxel welcome you and present these flowers as a token of our good wishes to you from Rubicon."
There was general politeness all round. Colonel Rodman was surprised he found Alexandra almost as attractive as Elle; although technically speaking she wasn't at all beautiful.
Alexandra, "Thank You, Elle, they're beautiful."
Elle had never met such a strong women before and was overwhelmed, "It's - it's our pleasure - and we hope the negotiations can bring us all peace."
"We hope so too, Elle."
Elle felt bathed in Alexandra's beauty and energy.
John Morgan, "Thanks girls, we appreciate your message and wishes."
John Morgan, "Now we can get down to business. You sent us a letter in which you say you `want to discuss matters of mutual interest and benefit'. So go ahead what would interest us."
"It's very simple John; we have noticed how depleted your soils have become; your problems feeding your whole population and your problems with insufficient water and polluted air. And as good neighbours we'd like to help you."
The military staff look at each other and give a wry smile.
"And just how do you think you can help us, Alex?"
"In three ways; we can teach you farming methods that will improve your soils - as you are no doubt aware - we are now farming on land that was considered desert when it was part of the Greater Kolna. And we can help you lower your pollution levels. And we can make a very important offer as far water is concerned; at the moment neither of us can use the waters of the lower Coleo River. But we are willing to enter into a joint venture to build a dam. In fact we have drawn up a proposal which we will leave with you to mull over."
John Morgan, gave an evil looking smirk, "We could always just move the border - so all of the Coleo River is part of Maxel."
"The people of Rubicon are unlikely to agree to that."
Thirteen year old Lisa added, "Yes, we've discussed this possibility at school and we say you ought to get your own act together rather than steal our land."
The Maxel men had never considered they might have to listen to the opinion of a thirteen year old girl; they found it very challenging.
The whole Maxel negotiating team turned to the right and watched the next baseball toss. What they saw horrified them. The baseballs were being deflected a long way off course and hitting a small target perfectly.
General Nash, "delta"
Alexandra stared at him a second then continued, "As I was saying .. What we would like to get out of - "
Alexandra, "Go it - we would like to get half the water from the Coleo dam, certain minerals from your quarries and half the products from our processing of your industrial and domestic waste."
The next baseball went way off course and hit the pilot of the helicopter in the head knocking him unconscious; the helicopter momentarily dived into the ravine until the co-pilot could take control; it returned to Maxel territory. Everyone in the room was aware of what was happening but did not address it directly.
John Morgan, "This is all very interesting Alex but - "
Attache Hargraves cut him off, " - but we can't make a decision on behalf of the people of Maxel; we'll have to mull it over and take it to the legislature to debate."
"We all agree" she looked around for nods from her team, "that this is just a first meeting and we would not expect a firm decision about anything today. Except possibly that we would like to set up a broadband link to enable us to communicate with you more fully and easily."
John Morgan, checks with Attache Hargraves, "Yes that will be fine - Colonel Rodman will speak to your technicians."
"Lisa will negotiate with the Colonel."
Colonel Rodman looked horrified. The other military smirked at his misfortune.
Alexandra, "So could we meet again in two weeks?"
"Yes I'm sure we can"
Attache Hargraves, "I found it very interesting watching your baseball match - the balls all seemed to veer off course - as if they weren't obeying the laws of physics."
"I assure you, Attache - they were all obeying the laws of physics - it may just be that you aren't aware of all the laws of physics."
On that note the Rubicon team left the table and the drummers started again.
© Copyright 1999, Julie Peters