The following is a work of fiction.
It is the third in a series of sci-fi novels of the type known as
alternate history. What’s different is that this series takes place in
our time, with characters familiar in your real life.
The first book in the series, The Chinese Century, was written late 2004. Its table of contents is here. The second, The American Diaspora, was written in 2005. Its table of contents for that book is here.
Following is a brief table of contents, allowing you to catch-up on the action:
Meanwhile, settle down and relax. Any similarity between the
characters in this book and real people is purely coincidental, purely
a product of imagination, and not meant as real in any way.
When the most expensive hotel in the world closes the most expensive restaurant in the world in order to serve a dinner for three, something major is going on.
The Cheneys made little of it, but the husband allowed himself a sly little smile, and a wink at the nervous maitre ‘d, as they exited the elevator. The two were led over to a quiet table by a window, where their host, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, rose to salute Mrs. Cheney and to shake Mr. Cheney’s hand.
“It is a pleasure to finally welcome you personally to my hometown,” the Sheikh said in only slightly-accented English. He was a surprisingly young men, with a well-trimmed mustache and beard, wearing a flowing white robe with a headdress. The table before them was set with tea for the Sheikh, water for Mr. Cheney, and a gin-and-tonic for the Mrs.
“We have much in common, Mrs. Cheney,” the Sheikh continued. “Your husband was until recently the Vice President of your great nation. I have the current honor of being Vice President for mine.”
“He is also Prime Minister and Minister of Defense,” said Cheney. “Don’t let his false modesty fool you.”
“Did you not have the same jobs in your government?” the Sheikh said, smiling.
“Touche,” said Mrs. Cheney.
Cheney came right to the point. “I hope we are prepared for a signing. I brought my favorite pen.” He pulled from a jacket a rather ordinary blue ballpoint, but with the seal of the President of the United States. The Sheikh’s eyebrows went up. “No, it’s the one he signed the tax cut with,” Cheney said, smiling. He flipped the pen in his hand and passed it over, its top facing the Sheikh.
“It is not traditional for us to sign important documents before at least partaking of drink together,” the Sheikh said. “But do be assured we will use this pen very soon.” He motioned with his right hand, and a business-suited aide placed a folio in it. “You will see we have a final draft, all issues have been agreed to. This is merely a formality, a celebration.” He raised his tea cup toward Mrs. Cheney, who raised her drink in turn, while her husband thumbed quickly through the papers, seeking an unpleasant surprise.
“Trust but verify, Mr. Cheney?” the Sheikh said, smiling. Mrs. Cheney laughed as a second gin-and-tonic magically appeared before her.
“This is perfect.” Cheney pulled a second Presidential pen from his pocket, flipped quickly to the last page, and signed it over his name.
“Let me sketch briefly what we’re in for,” the former Vice President said. “This market will be completely self-regulatory. For all legal purposes, its offices will be sovereign territory of the market.”
“The same rules as with Virgin Maverick” said the Sheikh, smiling. “Only with a higher capitalization. Our President has personal holdings of $19 billion American, and I myself am also well-situated. The resources available to us will dwarf those of our small African rival.”
Both men were talking to one another directly, through Mrs. Cheney, whose smile grew-and-grew under the influence of gin and the thought of becoming a billionaire.
“We have other advantages as well,” Cheney said. “Strict opacity, for one. A secret market that can offer complete secrecy, not only on transactions but on the players as well.
“We’ll have access to cash flows from around the world, wherever there is money which wants to grow. Whatever its source.” The last was said with a degree of coldness which made his wife shiver.
“We are trusting your husband to be honest in his accounts, subject only to my own membership on his board,” said the Sheikh. “You will find that our regulatory regime is much lighter than even that of your own S.E.C. And the law is especially generous to citizens.”
Again, the Sheikh’s right hand went up. This time a booklet and a small box were placed in it. He opened the booklet to Mr. Cheney and placed the box before Mrs. Cheney. “You are now a citizen of the Emirates, Mr. Cheney. Welcome.”
“And with that our equality ends,” Cheney said. “I acknowledge my sovereign.” He picked up his water glass and drank.
“No sir, you will find it does not,” responded the Sheikh, taking the pen Cheney had handed him earlier and signing the folio’s last page. The folio went back up in the right hand, an aide took it away.
“Now,” said the Sheikh. “You may not be wholly familiar with what we in the Gulf call lobster, but I’m certain you will agree that they prepare it excellently here.” A waiter appeared then with a bottle of Dom Perignon and three glasses. Its cork popped with an erotic sigh.
“A sip will harm no one, and is a proper way to seal an agreement some may charge violates both the rules of Allah the Merciful and the Hippocratic Oath.”
Both Cheneys lifted their glasses, and all three took a cautious sip.