Nestled deep in the alps of southern Europe lay the city of Zurich; A center of banking, technology, and general prosperity and humanity. Zurich attracted many people of immense wealth, be it legitimate wealth or not, to this bustling, yet homely, German-speaking community. Recently, however, poor migrant workers had flocked from the surrounding Swiss countryside as well as from southern Bavaria and northern Italy: They worked under foremen and engineers from the Arnstadt Foundation in Munich ensconcing a giant marble jewel in the beautiful Swiss landscape.

The giant hall stood 5 stories tall, it's square and vaguely rhomboid shape contrasting so darkly with the jagged mountainous skyline, and it's dark forest green hues of it's marble and brass pillars, and yet it set so well with the landscape, the long road connecting to it's massive underground Autohalle, and it's east wing tucked so cozily away in the mountainside. The large stainless-steel emblem that rested over the entrance of the now completed hall, the wiry globe covered with stars and adorned by olive branches, was glazed in a thin, ghostly layer of frost.

A dark violet Rolls Royce began to slow as it turned another corner of the road that snaked up the side of the mountain to the UN Convention Hall. In the back sat 4 men, councils representing powerful English-speaking nations, who had just had breakfast at a pastry shop in downtown Zurich, and prepared for the session which was to commence that day. Donald Briar, England's UN Representative thumbed through a dossier of pressing issues that had been prepared for him by his aide after the final meeting of the Helsinki convention, an amalgamation of pressing issues with notes that had been hand-witten by Prime Minister Wexler intended to inform Briar exactly where the governing body in London stood on several key issues.

Craig McGuire sipped gingerly on a glass of Scotch whiskey he'd brought with him from home. Home... thoughts of home crossed his mind as he peered out the darkly tinted window at the frozen landscape, as McGuire had a beautiful seaside home in the Hedbrides, where it was plenty warm right now. He looked down at the glass and adjusted his large, 18-karat gold ring that bore the Lion-with-sword crest that had adorned the banner of the Republic of Scotland since they gained their independance in 2068, which was beginning to chafe his fingers, as he presently removed it, and placed it into his blazer pocket.

The limousine slid slightly on the icy roads as it made another corner, and made Mark Leshay grip the door tightly, which creaked slightly in the silence of the back of the vehicle. He always felt pointless at these meetings, there were seldom any issues that concerned the Canadian people or government... But it was nice to travel, and be that ever-important conduit for your country into the world community. 'Thank god,' he whispered quietly to himself 'Almost there'

The United States had always held a sort of parental duty at these meetings, and the stress never seemed to relent, but Richard Holt didn't seem to mind all that much. His upbringing in Galveston had made him very stubborn, and very patriotic, but he had an uncanny knack for statesmanship and diplomacy. His 'Kick ass and take names' approach to dealing with international affairs had made him all at once loathed and respected, and his ability to hold firm was prized greatly as a bargaining tool by Washington officials.

Briar and Holt were seated across from eachother, and were the first to be taken aback by the stunning brilliance of the newly-finished Zurich convention hall. Silent awe filled the limousine, until it was broken by an impressed whistle from Council Holt. He adjusted his white Stetson as he gently reclined in his seat. A wide 'shit-eating' grin revealed bright white teeth behind the dark 5 O'clock shadow. He tugged idly at the jade and platinum filigree on his bolo-tie, disturbing his grey vest slightly with the leather.

"I can hardly believe it," Holt said staring out the window, a deep southern drawl adorning his speech "These buildings seem to get fancier with each convention. And I thought the one in Helsinki was impressive"

"Indeed," sighed Briar, his voice toned and restrained in that 'Higher Education' sort of way "Each time I behold a new one of these wonders, I shudder at the thought of having to go back to that ancient hall in New York next fall."

"I know what you mean," Holt chuckled "That mid-20th Century relic... They call it vintage, but I tell you, a little modernization wouldn't kill us." The car rolled to a stop, and the side doors opened on a whim from a control panel in the front. Holt and Briar turned and slid off their seats onto the frozen pavement before the front stoop. Briar adjusted his spectacles as he admired the grandiose entryway, a small billow from his breath floating up in front of him. McGuire and Leshay stepped beside them as the limousine pulled away to be parked.

After a long and loud stretch, Holt began to lead the way up the large stair before them, his snakeskin boots clicking loudly with each step. All four men readied their identification badges as they approached the armed guards at the doorway, and Briar removed his spectacles in preperation for the retinal scan. Holt stopped in the front room, waiting patiently, and trying not to blink as the red laser caressed his eye and confirmed his identity. He stepped into the lobby of the building, which took him completely by surprise.

The great modern building was of very gothic construction, large pillars and flying buttresses leading up to a large vaulted ceiling with an ornate fresco depicting the first UN meeting in 1946. As his companions filed in, McGuire could be heard gently tamping his kilt, attempting to move some hot air onto his frozen shins. Holt had learned earlier that morning that real Scotsmen don't wear anything under their kilts, which he had been contemplating asking for some time. Luckily for all parties present, Holt declined McGuire's offer for proof, an offer which he made for anyone who posed him that asinine and oh-so-original question.

A young Swiss aide approached them and motioned them to follow him to the convention hall without speaking, due to his poor English skills, and they all fell into step behind him. Briar let out a short cough, as he walked quickly to catch up with Holt's long strides. He kept his eyes ahead while turning his head slightly to him.

"Mister Holt," he said quietly "If I might have a quick word with you before we begin?"

"Go ahead." Holt said plainly, still looking straight ahead

"I'll be frank, Mr. Holt," Briar began "Parliment has requested that I discuss the option of our governments, perhaps, collaborating our ideals of peace. There are a number of countries that the British Empire has strategic interest in, and is planning on investing a few pounds towards the interest of the locals. Mostly South-Pacific and Mid-Atlantic island regions..."

"Strategic interest?" Holt interrupted "You mean you're not doing this out of the goodness of y'all's hearts?"

"Don't mistake me, Mister Holt," Briar said with a hushed irritation "Just because we have ulterior motives does not mean that we have no intrest in helping other human beings. As I was saying, if the American government would be willing to pledge a few dollars in aid packages to our cause, we might be able to arrange some sort of humanitarian exchange to a cause of your government's choosing"

"That might be a possibility," Holt grunted, knowing full well that the current administration would be leery at such a large movement of money out of the country without someone pitching it to them as an 'investment' of sorts "Do you have instructions to include any other nations in these negotiations? Or perhaps some more specifics?"

Briar opened his mouth in a cautious, pensive manner before finally speaking "Not any specific nations. And more specific details may be revealed through negotiations. I was, however, instructed to seek humanitarian aid from countries wishing to earn themselves some 'karma points', if you will, within the world community."

Holt was impressed by Briar's shrewdness, yet disappointed by his blunt straightforewardness. "All things considered, I would say this would be a good issue to discuss with the General Assembly."

As Holt's words set in, Briar's brow furrowed "Quite. But my question remains unanswered;" he paused "Would I have American backing on the issue?"

"I make no promises" Holt shrugged

"Mister Holt," Briar protested "If you were to pledge some assistance to our cause, it would be seen as a great precedent, and others would be more likely to follow your example. If you were to..."

"I make no promises" Holt repeated as the aide opened the large oak doors to the General Assembly hall. Although the building thus far had stood out as a work of art, the massive General Assembly hall was a cookie-cutter replica of the ones in Vienna, Geneva, and New York. The four men parted ways and went to seek their seats, settling gently into the cushioned wooden chairs, sliding the cold gel inserts that had been fitted to each Councilman's ear that speech came through from the translators. Holt leaned back on his chair, legs crossed, and began to whistle "Yellow Rose of Texas" in impatience while the final few Councilmen filed into their seats.

Once word arrived that everyone was seated, the massive wooden doors closed with a mighty thud, and silence gently settled over the assembly. 2 men stood behind the staggered tall desks in the middle of the room, and as a tall, thin, well-dressed white man with a narrow face and jet-black hair slicked back with pomade stood and spoke.

"We now call to order the One Hundred and Forty-second United Nations General Assembly" He spoke with a deep, dignified English accent "Secretary General, Mr. Pasha Omar al-Hassan," He motioned to an elderly Arabian man sitting at the shorter desk, wearing a turban and various other peices of middle-eastern dress "And I, President of this Assembly, A. Damien Morely III, presiding. You may be seated."

Hundreds of men moved in unison, following the example of a man who had been knighted by Queen Mary of England for his diplomatic exploits, and the man who had lead Kurdistan down the "Peaceful" path to independance several decades ago. The shuffling of papers and feet betrayed a shared tension in the room, and foreshadowed a very long engagement for most of the veteran Councilmen present. The United Nations proceedings had been reformed considerably in the last 100 years or so, and the goals of the reforms were unclear, as always. Perhaps they wished to be more effecient, more organized... whatever the case, catering to the whims of delegations from close to 250 nations was, as always, difficult.

But difficulty could always be surmounted by the tenacious Council.

(Finished 5/7/06)