Deal or No Deal
Liliyet sat down in the conference room. She suspected it was deep underground, although the elevator they’d entered made very little noise and gave no indication of exactly how deep down they were.
“We can speak freely here.”
“So what is this all about?”
“We need your help, Liliyet, and we think you are in a unique position to do something extraordinary for the world’s future.”
Liliyet burst out laughing.
“The world must be in really bad shape if I can do something extraordinary to help it.”
“Well, things are direr than you know and direr than I can say, but it’s important to remember that even the least of us can have something important to offer. And you are not the least of us.”
“What is it you want her to do?”
“We want you to become a spy for the Republic of Louisiana and Cascadia.”
“What now?” Liliyet blushed.
“Let’s circle back to your question about the note that was left at your door this morning. I did not leave it for you. It was left by a deep undercover agent of the Russian Imperium operating unchecked here in Cascadia. She is smart, capable, and utterly without a sense of shame. We have reason to believe that she reports directly to the First Consul of the Imperium.”
“And you want me to spy on this person?”
“Not exactly. She is already beginning to collect you as an asset. That is why she warned you about your morning visit from the Cascadian authorities. We believe she planned to intercept you in your escape and offer you help in exchange for your efforts on her behalf. We would like you to continue with your escape, accept her offer of help, and become her asset.”
“You want me to spy for her?”
“And also for us.”
“I don’t understand.”
“They want you to become a double agent, Liliyet,” interjected Ariana.
“That is exactly right.”
“That’s suicide if this Russian finds out.”
“What are you offering her in exchange?”
“In exchange, we offer you recognition of your country by both Louisiana and Cascadia and access to the world financial markets. Amnesty for your family from the world community.”
“I’m young, but I’m not a simpleton. It isn’t Cascadia or Louisiana that has frozen my family’s assets. It’s the Empire of Australia. It’s all well and good for you to offer amnesty and access to our money, but you don’t control it. The Empire does.”
“Such is the importance of this mission that we are prepared, our governments, to reimburse you for the amount of money currently frozen by the Empire of Australia.”
Liliyet burst out laughing again.
“What’s funny about that?” Asked Ariana.
“It’s more than a billion sovereigns.”
Emma took out a sheet of paper and slid it across the table to Liliyet.
“One Billion, Two-Hundred Million sovereigns and change, yes.”
“How do you know that?”
“I am in the business of knowing things.”
Liliyet thought a moment.
“And if I don’t accept these terms?”
“You will be granted amnesty for yourself and taken to the Republic for your safety. Where you go from there is up to you, but you would not be welcome back in Cascadia.”
“I’d be free to go?”
“Yes. I gave you my word.”
“The Cascadians have agreed to my terms in offering you this deal. They were hoping to scare you into agreeing to help, but Russia’s warning and your own tenacity led them to overplay their hand.”
“Why would I agree to help after being chased out of my home?”
“An excellent question, of course, but I would draw your attention to two things. The first is that you would be helping yourself and your family as much as anybody else in this situation. The second is that you would be saving countless lives through your actions. I cannot stress enough that there are things in motion now on the world stage that can potentially drive the world into an intractable crisis just when the world must be united against the existential threat to humanity of global climate change. The actions you take here will be like the wind from a butterfly that stops a hurricane in the future. We have all been asked to rise to the challenge. The question is now before you as well.”