Tofino Convention Center
Councillor Electra Georgiou watched as the Zamastanians exited Room 439. Once they were alone, she turned to Katrine Porter, who she'd allowed to lead the conversation, preferring to observe herself.
"Thoughts?" she asked.
"They don't like us very much," remarked Porter. "I wasn't expecting such explicit threats, however."
"The threat is irrelevant, since we're not meddling in that referendum. The Council has enough problems with Sanctaria in the form of the TRC without seeking out more. But I am very interested to see that they were willing to make such a threat. Perhaps we ought to divert more resources to watching Zamastan," mused Georgiou.
"If they hate us, why did they bother to invite us?" asked Ines Abbott.
"A courtesy. They never expected us to accept," replied Porter. "But we did, and now we're here, and they have to deal with it."
"We came here to try and mend relations, I remind you. Forge new ones. Try and make things better
. But nobody seems to want to listen. I am beginning to think this was a mistake," sighed the Councillor.
"It isn't over yet, Councillor," remarked Porter. "I have another meeting to get to, so I have to go, but even if no good comes for us of this summit, the fact we showed our faces signals to the rest of the world that we're not going to get back in our little box."
"Perhaps we should," countered Georgiou. "I do not like these threats. Our way of life was much safer when we stayed out of international affairs, before the Lauchenoirian war. Why the others decided to get involved with that, I cannot understand. I voted against involvement myself, of course."
Porter and Abbott exchanged surprised glances. Councillors did not usually divulge their voting history, especially on such topics.
"Yes, Councillor," Porter said, trying and failing to come up with something better. "May I go to my meeting? I have messages to send back to Kerlile beforehand as well, and I'm running out of time."
"Hmm? Yes, of course. Just... don't make things worse, okay?"
"I won't, Councillor."
(Following section written jointly with Shuell)
Katrine Porter walked quickly down the corridor, frantically typing a message on her phone to a member of her staff back in Kerlile, not looking where she was going. She stopped abruptly at the sight of a man turning a corner, and it took her a moment to remember she was not, in fact, in the Kerlian Parliament where men were forbidden from setting foot.
Director of International Affairs Sascha Hoffman turned the corner, a cup of coffee in his hand. Seeing the woman in the corrider stop, staring at him, he winked at her. "Hello there."
Repressing the urge to snap at the man for the wink, as she would have done at home, Porter instead forced a polite smile. "Hello. I don't believe we've met. Katrine Porter, Kerlian Minister of Foreign Affairs."
Hoffman grinned, showing off his white teeth and practiced smile. "I haven't had the pleasure. Sascha Hoffman, Shuellian Director of International Affairs."
"Lovely to meet you," Porter said. It was in the list of phrases she'd learned to use with foreigners, back when she'd been the Kerlian Ambassador to Laeral, and had needed to learn a whole book full of outsider customs.
"Of course, it's nice to meet you two. I haven't seen much of Kerlile - I believe one of my diplomats has finally arrived at the embassy, though. I don't quite remember her name, sadly." He extended his free hand towards her.
She took his hand, and shook it, grasping it rather more firmly than non-Kerlian men generally expected from women. This was a deliberate choice on Porter's part. "I know little of your country. Although I noticed that yesterday, you issued some kind of statement saying you'd support Aeluria, the Lauchenoirian island that wants to become independent."
His eyes widened for a quick moment, before his self-assured visage once again took charge. "I can admit I don't know much of your country either, besides the matriarchal aspects of it - and yes, I did make a statement yesterday about supporting Aelurian independence."
Porter's smile grew wider at the signs of slight discomfort. She always preferred men to be uncomfortable in her presence. "It is my job to keep up to date with the goings on in the world. And, of course, support for Aeluria is something our two nations share."
Hoffman nodded, a smug grin on his face. "I agree. If I remember correctly, the first couple aid workers should already be on their way to Aeluria and Lauchenoiria."
Irritated by the man's smugness, Porter searched for a way to try and knock him off balance. "Did you know, that historically, Aelurian tribes were ruled by women?"
Hoffman looked slightly offended at the remark. "Well, of course. Why wouldn't I have known? I had read multiple reports about Aeluria before making my speech - I'm not exactly new to this sort of thing, though you may be." He replied, watching her face.
Porter's eyes narrowed in anger. This
is why men were so annoying. They assumed that women were incompetent. "It's not like your government has shown the least bit of interest in Lauchenoiria until now," she snapped, unwisely. She immediately regretted it.
His grin widened, looking more and more predatory in nature. "There's no need to be offended, dear. I understand, however, that you may have a delicate constitution. If you weren't aware, it was my
policy that jumpstarted Shuell's stepping onto the international stage."
Porter blinked in shock. Never before had any man spoken to her in such a manner. If one had done so in Kerlile, she'd have had him arrested on the spot. It was unlikely, however, that the authorities of Zamastan would permit such a thing. "I'm sure you're very proud of it. My advice? Be very careful in your dealings with Lauchenoiria. They aren't nearly so appreciative of help as their public statements imply."
Hoffman rolled his eyes. "Ah, yes, the communists. Typical of them. I quite honestly don't care if they decide to refuse our aid - it's more for the rest of Lauchenoiria."
"The communists retain more support in Lauchenoiria than they're given credit for. Be careful you don't end up helping your enemy," Porter replied, a mocking sweetness in her tone.
He replied, speaking in a condescending manner to her. "One of the positives about women such as yourself - they're always quite empathetic and caring. I appreciate it.
Porter forced a fake chuckle, clasping her hands behind her back to prevent the urge to strangle the man in front of her. "Don't go to Kerlile, Director. You wouldn't fit in very well there."
"Oh, yes, I quite intend to avoid your home country. I'll leave my diplomats to that task. Feel free to visit Shuell, however. Just don't do anything you'd regret, and I'm sure we'll get along nicely." He lifted the cup of coffee to his mouth, taking a sip.
Porter raised one eyebrow, "I regret very little of my actions, Director. If that is meant as some kind of... warning
, well, I will deliver one in turn. The time of the patriarchy is ending. Don't be on the wrong side of history."
Hoffman smirked. "Just consider the warning a simple courtesy from me, Katrine. And don't worry your pretty little face about me, dear, I can handle myself just fine."
Katrine Porter's facial expression could have been used as an illustration for the concept of rage - for half a second. Then, she composed herself, and stepped forward so close she could feel his breath, "if you spoke to a woman in that manner in Kerlile, it would be the last thing you ever did." Then, she turned around quickly, and walked off, fast enough to cause a draft.
The director's eyes widened as she walked off, before a content smile flashed on his face. Walking off, he pulled out a phone and dialed a number. "Sascha here. I've just had a delightful
meeting with Katrine Porter in the halls - the Kerlilan minister of Foreign Affairs, Voortman. Didn't you pay attention to my briefing?" He sighed. "Yes, yes, I know you had things to do at that time. Regardless. Try and see if our agents can't find anything on them. I'll get back to you later." He hung up quickly and continued walking.
Katrine Porter burst into the women’s bathroom in a rage, frightening someone washing her hands, who promptly exited. She stood by the sink, breathing deeply and then looked in the mirror. She was slightly red in the face, and she knew she’d messed up. She swore. She let the Shuellian anger her.
She took out her phone and called one of her aides, Sigrid Accardo.
“Sigrid? I want you to find out everything you can about the Shuellian Director of International Affairs, Sascha Hoffman. I just had a… conversation
with him. He seems excessively misogynistic, even for someone from the patriarchal countries. Get me a report within the hour.”
She hung up the phone without waiting for a response, then splashed some water on her face and took a few more deep breaths. Once she was sufficiently composed, she exited, making sure to walk in the direction that took her further from where the confrontation took place.