“As the mutually chosen Speaker, Johannes, I will be mediating between the two governmental parties. Both have agreed to this. I will interpret and finalize all addendums, checking with each party of course, in order to reach a clear and concise conclusion for today’s summit. To the witnessing men and women, please respect the authority and severity of our joint council. The Triumvirate of Deinberj is seated on my left here and his majesty and her majesty are seated on the right, the King and Queen of Geminis.” Johannes wore the traditional robes of the Speaker. Summits such as this one were intended to bring many city-states together to discuss important issues. Only two agreed to join this time, a grave sign of rising tensions and general distrust.
The building was a council town hall in between both cities Deinberj and Geminis, a neutral zone, though oftentimes a city will host the summit as the turnout is many times greater when ten or more cities bring their government and retinue.
The large building had a central floor where a podium was raised for roles such as Speaker or judge. Two long tables with chairs faced each other on either side of the central podium. Three chairs for the Triumvirate and two for the monarchy.
“Beginning with our first topic for the day,” Johannes started the summit as the formalities were done with. “The neighboring city to both Deinberj and Geminis, Eleavear, has declared absolute isolationism for the duration that its newly formed government is still revolutionizing its city. The question is what are your thoughts on this. Should Eleavear be pressured into joining talks such as this one as the whole continent is under threat. Deinberj we will hear your thoughts on this first.”
The Triumvirate of Deinberj has always been composed of three from separate walks of life. A Soldier, a Scholar and a Citizen. A Triumvirate serves for a period of twelve years before a lottery of all its people decides the next three, servitude is mandatory. The bearded Soldier of the Triumvirate spoke his opinion first. “Eleavear has just recently gone through a series of brutal revolutions. Lazulie has proven to be an able strategist and has a keen mind for governing. I believe his decision of isolationism is to be expected and I see no harm coming from this. When the time comes he will be forced to make a move regardless.”
The Scholar nodded her close-cropped head in agreement. “He has purged his entire aristocracy and gotten rid of all our spies. He is going for a full media blackout and stopping trade and travel. While the expectation of participating in these summits is to be honored, Eleavear has no interest in fighting us and the other city-states have ignored the call as well.”
The Citizen, a man who had been a poor dock worker before his draw into the Triumvirate, added little. “Eleavear is no threat, let them be, we’ve enough enemies coming from the south, we don’t need the north on us too.”
The King of the dual monarchy of Geminis spoke next after a glance to the Queen. “We are in agreement. If Eleavear does not wish to participate then they will have defensive help from us.”
Johannes summarized. “So it is the consensus that Eleavear will not be pressured out of its isolationism nor will it receive aid in the event of war, or disaster of any kind.”
“Moving on to the next topic, Natung, the southern neighbor of Deinberj and Geminis, as well decided not to participate in this summit, what is the stance on that decision?”
This time the Queen spoke. “Natung is preparing its battalions to march south. Their president has no interest in a defensive alliance and wishes to take advantage of Garghent’s war with Ophir to cripple Garghent.”
“Would it be wise to join Natung’s effort?” The Citizen asked.
The Soldier responded. “No. We saw what happened to the Coalition. While Geminis did not participate in that alliance, it failed utterly and the outcome would not have changed. I will not send troops to their death like that again. We need them here.”
“That’s a good enough reason for me.” The Citizen said.
“Trade will continue with Natung. We will not approach their border with our forces while they are at war but neither will we come to their aid with our military.” The King said.
“Is this the consensus? Natung will be in open communication but not share with the defensive alliance?” The Speaker asked.
The Triumvirate and the dual Monarchy agreed.
“With the immediate foreign policy of the shared neighbors decided, we will move on to the nature of this defensive alliance. The Triumvirate will start us off, what do you propose?”
The Scholar spoke began. “I believe we should open our borders to each other. Allow military access on top of open markets and work opportunities. We should share our resources and improve the transit between our cities. With Eleavear in isolationism, there is no need for concern with blocking trade out or into their city. We combine our borders and close them off, combine our military and train them together and combine our economy.”
This was the first time the witnessing aristocrats of Deinberj and Geminis responded. While they remained civil, conversations broke out, interrupting the flow of the summit.
Johannes intervened. “I ask for quiet please. The Monarchy will respond if the Triumvirate is in agreement.”
The Soldier and the Citizen agreed.
The King took the response. “Such a proposal is unprecedented in the history of the metropoli. We would effectively be creating the world’s first city-state conglomerate. I heard rumors that Deinberj was manufacturing five hundred million dollars worth of train and railroad supplies. Was this your intention all along?”
The Scholar replied. “After the fall of the Coalition we decided to make preparations for the eventual imperialism of Garghent. We originally wanted Eleavear to join in this but as their government got themselves killed, they are out of the question. The three northern city-states should join as one. However, even with just Geminis, a two city federation could give us the access to production, wealth and power needed to survive the coming wars.”
“Such a proposal is predicated on trust. How can we trust you?” The Queen asked.
The Soldier handled the response. “This is a simple matter of what can we offer or do to earn that trust? Our cities have a history of occasional wars and decent repertoire in trade and commerce. There is no permanent feud or bad blood between us and therefore no reason to reject this alliance out of animosity.”
“We risk our future.” the Queen said. “The metropoli do not look kindly on such a long term cooperative alliance. Our laws are not the same. Our markets work differently. We would likely cause more chaos in a federation, doing more harm than good. A simple defensive alliance is best.”
That response got some cheers from the witnesses.
The Scholar offered a point of rebuttal. “We are in uncertain and changing times. Either a legion of the dead will march on us or Garghent’s forces will. And if not them, then the Fables who visited all our cities, the slayer of Talis Ranis. We can all feel it. The impending sense of something big happening. Maybe we have months, maybe years. Together we can form a single organic metropolis complex that spans our borders and sprawls through the mountains. We dig deep trenches and barricades. We bolster our navy. We build a series of railroads connecting us. We survive and thrive.”
Now there were more arguments from the aristocracy. Even the Speaker needed to process this. The implications were huge and exciting. The city-states valued their independence beyond anything else. Only in conquest or temporary alliance did they ever submit to rule. But this? Purposefully assimilating into each other, even proposing that would ruin the credibility and possibly career as a governor. Yet a feeling took over the summit, one of imagination and possibility, the breaking of moldings that shaped the world for millennia.
The Triumvirate government of Deinberj was an interesting model. Any random group of three could become a ruler. There were opportunities to remove a member of the Triumvirate if they are in failing health or deemed unfit to rule by some other standard, usually with a vote of the local governors and a trial.
In allowing random members of the city to lead, new ideas more relevant to the times and the needs of the people are felt because the Triumvirate is made of those very people.
The particular group of three in this Triumvirate, the 97th Triumvirate, come from such backgrounds that ultimately led to their proposal of a combining two cities. The Soldier had seen the potential and failure of the Coalition. The Scholar came from outstanding education in business and philosophy. While the Citizen was born in the labor class, experiencing the lack of opportunity and the cutthroat nature of those forced to struggle.
Their conclusion was a more just and cooperative society with the added reality of needing allies for the coming military incursions.
The Speaker finally called for silence again. He understood the need to process and talk about such a drastic proposal but now it was time for Geminis to respond.
The King addressed more than just the Triumvirate. “Deinberj brings up an intriguing plan, there is no denying that. But it is flawed because Deinberj has a smaller population, economy and military than Geminis. They were devastated in the Coalition, yet wish to form a federation in which we will be the main suppliers. It seems they are trying to save their city. Perhaps a more appropriate offer would be Deinberj’s vassalage.”
The response from Deinberj’s side of the witnesses was not kind.
Johannes restored order immediately, threatening to kick out the next witness who speaks.
The Citizen replied to the King. “What you say is true. Deinberj lost many men in the war. Our economy is diminutive and we have the smallest city on the entire Sister continent. But I ask you this, milord and lady, whose ships do you rely on to take you across the Asies? Whose tools do you use to build your infrastructure, whose guns are the most reliable? We are a hardy people. We survive and adapt and build and fight better than anyone on the continent! One laborer is worth ten from Geminis. Our government is the only true government for the people. I worked for twenty-five years repairing boats and now I am a ruler for twelve years and when I am done with this, I will go back to repairing boats. We do not have a royal family. We have men and women. We’re as strong as the mountains and as relentless as the ocean. That is what we offer.”
Cheering and clapping followed the Citizen’s speech.
For Geminis, a stark contrast in governmental style to Deinberj, there are two royal families. Each Royal family produces an heir that will be raised preparing to rule. As a dual monarchy, each king or queen never meets until the coronation, nor do they ever marry one another. The bloodlines are kept separated. Although the royal families have changed through the ages, there are always two. The king and queen are born at the same time and rule alongside each other. When one dies, the other must resign from ruling and if the next twin monarchs are not of age, an interim ruler is chosen until the coronation. Their rule is absolute.
The Queen silenced the witnesses before the Speaker could. “Geminis has always looked after the interest of its city above all else. It is why we did not join the Coalition. There are details to this federation you propose which must be answered. A whole range of topics and laws and bureaucracies to be accounted for. It is a logistic nightmare given the speed at which things must move because of the state of the world. All of these will be worked out in the coming weeks if we are to join.”
That left the witnesses in shock. The Queen agreed.
“This federation is the only viable solution moving forward. It is a pity Eleavear and Natung did not wish to attend. We must unite to survive. We will be the only stronghold of a free people and the worst case scenario, all of humanity. The threats we face are real and they are now.”
Johannes did his best to rein the witnesses in but a mix of celebration and argumentation turned this civil summit into a rabble.
The world was changing. A federation like this would either pressure the other city-states to form alliances or else start trade or military wars. But Deinberj and Geminis both agreed. Action had to be taken. The biggest threats were Garghent and Ophir right now. The opportunity would never come again. The King And Queen understood this.
The summit changed from an official meeting to a disorganized discussion as groups broke off and businessmen from one city met with businessmen from the other. Johannes just shrugged and turned his microphone off. There could hardly be a summit if both metropoli agreed to form a federation. This was technically an informal gathering now. His role as Speaker was concluded.
The Soldier approached Johannes and clapped him on the back. “You did good, man. For a group like this to get along and brainstorm this new partnership we are going to need drinks. Lots of drinks.”
“I am sure I can arrange that.” Johannes said with a nervous laugh.
“When the drinks arrive, I want you to make the announcement and a toast.”
“What do I say?”
“Toast to the Metropolix. The first of its kind in human history.”
Johannes, hired to be an impartial Speaker, couldn’t help but feel the dizzying sense of awe at such a prospect, two metropoli becoming one, filling in the countryside between them with railroads and barracks and towns and trenches.
Johannes was bobbing his head in confirmation, “to the Metropolix.”