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Faramount

A Peculiar Acquisition

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"It would be my pleasure," Terrone said, stepping into the vehicle without hesitation. "Wait here for me," he directed his bodyguards before pulling the door closed. It was a risk to leave his escorts behind, of course, but the minister wanted to send a signal of trust to the senator. What's more, Terrone genuinely doubted he had much to fear. Darok had no reason to wish Terrone dead, and Darok's security -- and the generally high level of safety in first world Rihan -- would surely be enough to protect the minister from any other threat.

"It is an honor to meet with you, Senator Darok," Terrone said as the vehicle pulled out of the service lot, "I greatly appreciate you taking the time. I've had some very promising talks with your government regarding petroleum and other mining interests today. I'm hopeful we'll see some mutually beneficial investments in the coming years. But to get straight to the point -- I'd also like to see us establish a trade in certain other natural resources. I believe my chief of staff has already discussed the bare bones of my proposal with your advisers?"

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Terrone listened with his trademark intensity before responding quickly. "I'm glad to hear of your interest, and I think we may be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement."

"We have a great deal of people in Faramount whom we need to," Terrone paused, looking for the right word, before shrugging, and continuing bluntly, "get out of the way. Some are political dissidents, mostly ethnic minorities unhappy with the ruling regime. Some are locals that refuse to stand aside to allow for coal and petroleum extraction. Some are mere criminals. We have a massive prison population in Faramount, about 150,000 right now, and it is expensive to keep them locked up. And as a result, our system is to a great degree a revolving door."

"My compatriots in the defense ministry have found a... cheaper solution to the cost of mass incarceration," Terrone continued, "in the form of just slaughtering those who get in the way. And that happens sometimes from the interior ministry, too. But I dislike this solution. There's the issue of its brutality, of course, but more than that, it seems wasteful and inefficient to me. And it invites foreign condemnation, media attention, and above all else, dissent within the ranks. No one likes to be a mass murderer -- except for the people who, frankly, we shouldn't be given a badge and a gun."

"So I think we very much have something you might desire: labor. Instead of sentencing these people to prison (or killing them or catch-and-releasing them), we'd sentence them to hard labor, such sentence to be carried out in Rihan. We could easily be talking terms of 15, 20, even 30 years. And at the end of that time -- well, it'd really be up to you. You can dump them back on us. They'd be better educated and disciplined by that point, for sure. Or perhaps, as an incentive to work hard, you could let them stay. I can tell you -- being poor in Rihan is much better than being anything but filthy rich in Faramount. I think a lot of rational people would happily work away the best years of their lives in order to live out the last years of their lives somewhere like this."

Terrone smiled. "Now, obviously, we would expect some compensation for providing this labor. And, as the person arranging this deal, I'd need a...finder's fee. Setting up this system without attracting too much international attention won't be easy. But once it's in place, I think it'll be highly mutually beneficial."

"But of course, that's just my conceptualization," Terrone added quickly, "and we could certainly adjust it based on your preferences."

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Gathan listened attentively to Terrone's proposal. "It's certainly a tantalizing proposition you are suggesting," he began. "I will admit, enslavement is quite detested around the world as we've seen in various news media and international activity in recent weeks and months, but frankly, there is a place for it - if not in the name of providing a means for an individual to strive for reintegration into society by giving back to the world. True, it's not the same as putting them more 'costly' means of reconditioning but labor is cheapest and the easiest to use. I am quite aware that there are many nations in the world who are already disgusted by our continued use of slaves, even if they barely make up 10% of the population - and this was due to internal demands by the freeman of the lower classes. But its curtailment has had a mixed result on the economy."

"But those international powers are too occupied with dozens of far greater and severely more devasting problems facing the world - from extremists in Afropa to potential, if not outright genocide in the Serbian territories, and lest we forget stabilizing whole parts of the world that had fallen into utter chaos. If nations truly spent time trying to change societal conditions in Rihan then they'd be wasting their valuable time and resources on people who far worse off. I may be a businessman but I do not ignore events from beyond the Republic's borders. I am sure eventually a nation will pick up on our deal but by then, it will already be too far long for them to intervene 'directly.'"

He paused for a moment. "Our Derthaler friends are not fond of slavery but seeing as they've wanted to get to close to the Republic through diplomatic channels as a means to fight back many of their own detractors tells me that they are willing to look a blind eye so I believe they'd care little for our transaction as long as we don't make waves." He readjusted himself in his seat to take a quick look out the window as the car drove through the Forum.

"If we are going to proceed with this business, I would recommend that we do not frame this as a purely 'economic' venture as such language is sure to spark criticism, but rather, a program for those seeking a second chance. We can mold the message as giving those poor Faramountese an opportunity in a better country and if they 'participate' for the extent of the term, then their records are 'cleaned.' I can use my leverage in the Senate to set up a dumb program to filter the funding for the effort in cooperation with the D'era Cult. We would take those willing individuals for a period of 15 years and afterward, those who showed promise under the guidelines of this initiative would be given the option of being given protected status within the Republic - not citizenship - but they'd have their former lives burned and given a fresh start - and those who don't meet the qualifications or do not accept our exit offer - will be sent back to Faramount."

The car had turned out of the Forum and onto the Via Colius and back towards the hotel. "You mentioned a finder's fee," he said. "How much are you looking for...now...and for each of our expected participants?"

Edited by Rihan
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Terrome grinned broadly as Gathan detailed his counter-proposal. This would work perfectly, in Terrome's mind -- indeed, it might even work better than what he'd originally envisioned. "65 million chaks as a finder's fee, plus 10,000 chaks per person. I'd be taking the 65 million personally to cover the cost of setting up this system, and to cover my own risk in involving myself in this venture. The 10,000 per person would be paid to the Faramontese government itself."

"I do believe what you're suggesting here would indeed be preferable. We can give prisoners a choice -- a long sentence or a chance at a better life in Rihan. Indeed, with that chance of a better life available, we might actually even see some willing volunteers. There are some areas of rural Faramount that have...essentially not changed in centuries. The more ambitious of their inhabitants would give anything -- even a decade and a half -- for any opportunity to escape."

"Would you need anything from me on your end to make the necessary arrangements?"

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Gathan responded, pleased that the Minister concurred with his approach. "The Communications Ministry will help your staff in developing the required 'persuasion material," pausing for a moment. "Your personal finder's fee is completely acceptable and I'll have transferred clandestinely through our network. The 65 million Chaks will appear by the time you return to Faramount. To keep the per-person transactions more secure, I will work with staff within the Foreign Ministry to label these funds as foreign aid to Faramount - to be used for whatever purpose as required."

The car they were had turned back into the alleyway where the two first met. "There is nothing else I need to get this off the ground. If that is everything, I believe we have a deal?" he asked, hand extended.

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Terrome nodded, shaking Gathan's hand. "A deal, indeed. It has been a pleasure, senator. I'll let you get back to your evening."

The Faramontese minister exited the vehicle, making his way back to the hotel with the two guards. He could not be happier. This arrangement would give him the financial resources needed in the short term to hire Monarch, and in the long term, create a new source of cash flow for the Faramontese government. And in return, he'd be able to get rid of some of Faramount's problems, while simultaneously tightening the labor market, something that would be necessary with time. It was a true win-win.

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Darok watched the Faramontese minister leave the vehicle and re-enter the hotel. "Prelek," he said to his driver, "yes daise?" A short pause followed. "Take me to Consul Chatak Tela's villa at once, as we have a business matter to discuss." His plebian servant nodded in compliance and began to turn the car around. As they sped towards the Rendak District, Gathan picked up his cell phone and called his contact within the Foreign Ministry. "Terik, I wanted you the first to know that I will be proposing, in the near future, a proposal on the floor of the Senate that would provide the Democratic Republic of Faramount with 52 million Chaks in unrestricted foreign aid...that is right...I will take to Pranana when the Senate convenes in the morning...thank you, good night."

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