Sunday, 28 December 2014

"Bargaining On This Basement"

Where most people would see monsters, Nicholas van Rijn sees intelligent beings that it is possible to deal with although he does not make the mistake of thinking that their intelligence is like ours or, even worse, that it is some Platonic Idea of "Reason." Instead, he finds out how they evolved and thus what they value. He showed this on T'Kela and when responding to his employees' reports from Cain.

Now he negotiates with four-eyed, eight-legged, hydrogen-breathing, collectivist Baburites who have waged war against Technic civilization. The Baburites, realizing that they have been misled, want to make peace although the Solar Commonwealth government, serving the interests of the Home Companies, might continue to wage war demanding unconditional surrender. Van Rijn, the leading independent, suggests to the Duchess of Hermes that Hermes and the independents:

stop fighting;
exert their influence against continued conflict;
even hint that they will join with Babur to resist it;
thus, influence Commonwealth public opinion against its government.

The Duchess finds it difficult to side with "'...these...creatures. After what they've done.'" (Rise Of The Terran Empire, p. 278)

- but van Rijn points out that the alternative is worse. Next he proposes:

Hermes takes over Mirkheim under a treaty stating that they will license any legitimate companies;
they tax just enough to repair damage caused by the war and to buy industrial equipment;
Babur disarms, especially since its ships would have needed continual maintenance from its supposed allies;
the Commonwealth should then make peace;
Hermes guarantees Babur's safety and a fair share in Mirkheim;
thus, Babur becomes a protectorate of Hermes.

The Duchess is dumbstruck but agrees to "'...start bargaining on this basement...'" (p. 279)

- and van Rijn swings his chair back to start doing business with the alien monster/Baburite waiting patiently on the screen.

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