Elements of Mystery takes chemistry to a new level in the ongoing series of mystery novels by author Terri Talley Venters.

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“Hello President. Putin, thank you for meeting me,” President Chen said.  Although China’s newest leader spoke fluent Russian, both parties agreed to speak the language of their common enemy–the United States of America.

“Hello, President Chen.  The Iron Curtain collapsed decades ago and yet we meet behind closed doors.  I must say, you’ve piqued my curiosity,” Putin said.

The most powerful man in Russia presented China’s President with a bottle of his best vodka and immediately poured two glasses. He gestured for her to sit in the chair opposite him to join him for a drink.

“We need your help,” Chen said.  She sipped the vodka as it warmed her fifty-year old belly.

“The most populated country on the planet needs the help of Mother Russia?” Putin asked.  The sixty-year-old man placed his fingers on his thin beard, rubbing it in deep thought. He drank most of his vodka pour in one gulp, following the Russian custom.

“We need your help to take over the United States of America,” Chen said.  Her black slanted eyes stared at Putin to convey her seriousness.  She needed to work twice as hard as her male constituents to prove her worth, even after her victorious election to become the first female leader of China.

“How do you plan to accomplish such a monumental task?” Putin asked.

“The United States is bankrupt beyond recovery.  They ran their deficit up to infinity.  They print more money than they can back up in gold.  They issued Treasury bills to raise money.  China started buying all of the zero-coupon T-bills years ago,” Chen said.

“Zero coupon means they owe you more than they paid because it doesn’t include the interest until the back end?” Putin asked, confirming what he already knew.

“Yes, many T-bills are due, and they can’t pay.  So what do you do when you can’t pay your debts?”  Chen asked.

“The creditor takes possession of the debtor’s assets,” Putin said.  He shifted his eyes as his mind comprehended the revelation.

“The United States owns land, structures, and all of the gold in Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve.  But most of the real estate is owned by the Americans,” Chen said.

“You are correct, but most Americans mortgage their homes.  The bank owns the property until the mortgage is paid in full.  If the payments cannot be made, the bank repossesses the land and structure,” Putin said.

“And who owns the banks?  The federal reserve took over all banks since so many failed during the mortgage crises,” Chen said.

“The government turns over the banks to China and you control the interest rates,” Putin said, marveling at the genius first female president of China.

“I won’t even need to raise the interest rates because the Americans cannot afford to pay their mortgages,” Chen said.

“They have no money because the U.S. Dollar becomes worthless.  They have no jobs because our Chinese companies will only hire Chinese and Russians,” Chen said.

“The Chinese take over the homes, jobs, and the lives of the American People,” Putin said.

“And the Russians as well.  We need your help. More importantly, we need your military support,” Chen said, she finished the last of her vodka and nudged the glass towards Putin to indicate her interest in another round.

“Mother Russia helps China invade the United States of America, in exchange for what?” Putin asked as he obliged Chen’s nonverbal request for another round of Russia’s drink of choice.

“The entire Eastern coast of the United States,” Chen said. She sipped on the vodka and appreciated the liquid courage to broach the subject of her controversial plans.

“I like it,” Putin said with a nod of approval.

“We have a mass foothold in the States already.  Every Chinese restaurant in every strip mall across the nation is actually a sleeper cell awaiting instructions for a hostile takeover,” Chen said.

“Brilliant, Miss Chen.  Russia invades the East coast, and China invades the West coast,” Putin said.

“And the Americans get squeezed into the middle,” Chen said, finishing Putin’s sentence.

“Exactly, but I do have two conditions,” Chen said.

“I’m listening,” Putin said.

“China and Russia share the use of NASA’s launch facilities,” Chen said.

“Of course. We both use the Florida, California, and Texas facilities equally. It only seems fair. What else?” Putin asked.

“China wants all of its foreign nationals to be granted safe passage to the west coast,” Chen said.

“I don’t see a problem with that,” Putin said.

“Including all of its women.  Millions of our Chinese infant girls were adopted by American parents.  Many of them are grown and are now of child-bearing age.  We need them for breeding with our overabundance of Chinese men,” Chen said.

“Ah, I see, with all of the space on the west coast, you no longer need to enforce your mandate of one child per couple,” Putin said.

“Yes, I hated the policy and never married because of it.  I couldn’t bear to ever face the possibility of giving up my child simply because she was born a female.  I decided to devote my life to politics in hopes of finding a way to rid China of the horrific mandate,” Chen said.  Her eyes moistened from the confession.

“So how do you propose we keep the Americans out of our repossessed lands?” Putin asked.

“We set up borders to keep them between Denver and Chicago. The Southerners may try to head south to Mexico, if the Mexicans will accept them.  And the Northerners will probably flee towards Canada. Or they can find their way in the vast nothingness of the new Middle America,” Chen said.

“How ironic to think that the Americans will be treated as they treated the Native Americans centuries ago.  It’s Karma,” Putin said, nodding his head with approval of the dramatic irony.

“And now we use your ‘Iron Curtain’ to border our new Eastern and Western Territories. We build a cross between the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall to contain the Americans in Middle America,” Chen said.

“To Iron Curtains,” Putin said as he raised his newly poured shot of vodka into the air.

“To Iron Curtains,” Chen said as she clinked her vodka-filled glass with Putin’s to toast their plans to take over the United States of America.

“Da svi dan ya,” Putin said.

“Sayonara,” Chen said.

“Good-bye, United States of America.”

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