Global Explorer II
by David McLeod
Telepathy and Carteles
Rump KGB, Novgorod, Russia, January 9, 2018 @ 11:30 PM
"He is assembling allies," the senior man, a Colonel, said, interrupting the aide who was reading from an email message.
"Or the Anconias are drawing him and others in," a second man said. "Which is more likely?"
"Think, fool!" the Colonel said. "The boy knew the codes for the vault. He has managed to co-opt the support of that pathetic Romanov organization. What is more likely: that he is really what he says, or that he’s a puppet of the Anconias?"
"Do you believe&ndash" another man began.
"It’s not what I believe!" the leader said, reminding them again of reality. "It’s what they can make the rest of the world believe. What else have we heard from our man among the Romanovs?"
"This Jonathan person has recognized the Pretender, and may have drawn him in too closely for our purposes. He has offered positions, likely to include stipends using Anconia money, to any who will swear allegiance." The aide looked up from the message.
"There’s something more," he continued. "Francisco Anconia opened the convocation, making it clear that he is behind this new Tsar. Further, Alexander Anconia with a security detail and members of the American press landed during the convocation, and met afterwards with Jonathan and others. There should be no question that the Anconia family is behind this . . . this move, whatever it is."
"And, they are likely behind the mercenaries who have begun to attack us," one of the men, a Major, said. He was bold to say what none of the others would admit. Someone was attacking the KGB, starting at the fringes, but now working its way into the core. Like a body shutting down from loss of blood&mdashthe fingers and toes went first. The arms and legs would be next; and then the core.
"Not even Anconia has that kind of power," the leader, a Colonel said. "Who can we depend on?"
"Gazprom?" Suggested one man, "They are still the biggest source of hard currency after the kiddie-porn sites."
"How many of those sites have been taken down?" the Colonel asked.
"Six, sir. Their operators have disappeared, and their bank accounts are empty."
"Does anyone have good news? Who can we rely on?"
"The Russian Orthodox Church?" Another man said. His voice was less confident.
"Our allies in the United States?" A third man added. His voice was decidedly unsure. "What have we heard from them?"
"Senator McDonald spoke to his handler at a diplomatic reception. He had little to say that wasn’t already in the news."
"And the American church?"
"Our man on the Bishop’s staff has not contacted us."
Are they fools that they do not see the connection? Are they fools that they do not believe it is all Anconia? The Major pondered the question, but found no answers.
Nassau, The Bahamas, Jonathan Romanov’s Journal, January 9, 2018 @ 6:45 PM
Neither Davey nor I had relaxed since Alex, Nicky, and Fabiop had left us. Our erections had become painful. Davey, in particular was hurting: he was wearing the tight, woolen trousers that were part of his UNSC uniform. I, at least, was wearing a loose suit. OTOH, we both wore boxer-briefs that helped to conceal our arousal.
Mr. A had left a message inviting us to join him, Alexander, and Nicky for dinner at 7:00 PM&ndashin just fifteen minutes. Despite our situation, we’d accepted. Not just from a sense of duty, but also because we truly appreciated all he had done for us. And by "appreciated," I don’t mean "groveling thanks." The word has an older meaning, which best translates to "to understand." That is the kind of appreciation we had.
Davey, having grown up in foster homes, was often overwhelmed by what Mr. A’s wealth and position could buy. Davey’s awe and wonder were child-like. I felt that, and knew that Mr. A felt it as well, and I wondered how much Mr. A had been changed by the dryads about which he seemed to know so much.
The dinner was held in a restaurant that was open only to hotel guests. We might have been on a private and otherwise uninhabited island. The other diners ignored us, even when the waiters brought Davey’s entrée&ndasha flaming shish kebob of shrimp and scallops&ndashto the table. It was then, I think, that I began to understand the perquisites that came with the wealth of the Anconias.
Georgetown, DC, A Private Residence, January 10, 2018 @ 3:00 PM
The telephone required two separate two-wire circuits to carry its encrypted signal. Each call was first routed to an NSA site which provided an encryption key before the phone rang on the other end. It was a slow process, but the Universal Fundamentalist Church accepted it. They had paid a lot for access to this system, and their man in the NSA had assured them that not even his masters could break the encryption. Nevertheless, the UFC leadership was cautious.
"Francisco Anconia attended the conference of the Romanov Organization," Elder #1 said. "And his son, Alexander, joined him in Nassau afterwards."
"What does this mean?" the Bishop asked.
"We do not know, sir."
Global Explorer, Alexander’s Log, January 10, 2018,
There had been little traffic on the roads of Nassau that evening. We reached the international airport from the hotel on Paradise Island in a little over 25 minutes. The Clipper was ready and we were able to bypass regular security, but it was still late evening before we took off. And nearly 4:00 AM before we landed on the Explorer. The aircrew insisted that everyone be awake and belted in when we landed. It was awesome! And I think that one of the TV guys pissed his pants. It was too late or too early and definitely too dark to be sure, so no one really knew.
Nassau, The Bahamas, January 11, 2018 @ 10:00 PM, Jonathan Romanov’s Journal
It had been a long day, but it was also an exciting day. I was so full of adrenaline I couldn’t have slept, even if Davey&ndashalso full of energy&ndashhadn’t nearly ripped off my clothes and his before we tumbled onto the bed. It was if we’d been apart for years and just found each another, again. Our mouths and tongues sought one another while our arms moved from hugs to tickles and back to hugs.
When things calmed down a bit, I was able to roll onto Davey and push my tongue deep into his mouth. I felt his legs wrap around my waist, and knew without words what he wanted. I was happy to grant that, and lifted myself slightly before sliding deep inside him.
Global Explorer, 100 nm south of New Orleans, January 12, 2018 @ 0830
I think that Nicky and I had just gotten to sleep when the phone rang. I knew only the captain would be able to get through at that time, and that he wouldn’t unless something important was happening. He wanted me on the bridge.
I kissed Nicky and told him to go back to sleep, then put on a jump suit, and headed for the bridge, hoping that there would be coffee.
I arrived in time to be briefed by the captain and just before the ex-Navy sonar technician arrived. Ensign Boudreaux had heard something on sonar that he couldn’t identify. The captain had summoned Mr. Klystera, our ex-Navy sonar guy, and then me.
"It’s a sub," Mr. Klystera said, confirming what the sensor train was suggesting. "But like nothing I’ve heard, before. It’s only about 5 or 10 meters below the surface. I have heard that drug smugglers were using subs&ndashelectric, battery-powered&ndashto bring cocaine into the USA. Maybe the Coast Guard has some information."
"Find our Coastie&ndashMr. Casey&ndashand ask him to come to the bridge," Captain Izzard told the Sea Cadet who was on runner duty.
"Drug smuggler," Mr. Casey said after being briefed and shown the sensor train images. "Almost certainly. I’ve heard of these subs. They’ll have a hundred million dollars worth of drugs. Maybe more than that."
"Do we have a line to the Coast Guard?" Captain Izzard asked Bobby.
"Distress frequencies, only," Bobby said.
"We could call, but the odds are that those frequencies are being monitored," Mr. Casey said. "The sub is close to the surface and is probably checking a satellite signal constantly from a trailing buoy with an antenna," he explained.
"Oh, yes," he said. "They’re as sophisticated as&ndasheven more so than&ndashanything the USA has."
"Mr. Bell, make secure contact with the Navy&ndash"
"Sir, the satellite antenna is down for maintenance. I thought . . . in the Gulf of Mexico . . . " Bobby stuttered to a halt.
Before the captain could say more, Mr. Casey intervened. "Can you put your Morse key on _____ mHz? It’s a frequency monitored by Coast Guard land stations. There will be someone there who knows Morse, but it’s unlikely that any of the carteles will."
"Captain? May I?" Mr. Casey asked. The captain agreed. While Bobby tuned his radio and established contact, Mr. Casey wrote furiously, and then handed Bobby the note.
I read over Bobby’s shoulder as he worked the Morse code key. "Coast Guard New Orleans from Sean Casey on the Global Explorer. Formerly assigned Cutter Cape Fear out of New Orleans. Get to these coordinates for a Hot Wheels Operation." A string of numbers, latitude and longitude, followed.
Bobby translated the reply from Morse, and wrote it out. "Mr. Casey, this had better not be a joke."
"Send this," Mr. Casey said to Bobby and wrote, "No joke, No-la. Ask Commander Harrington, if he’s still there."
There was a long wait before New Orleans, _Louisiana&ndashNOLA&ndash_came back. "Captain Harrington has vouched for you. Cutter dispatched and will rendezvous in two hours thirty minutes."
Bobby signaled that we would continue to monitor the frequency, and then signed off.
Captain Izzard shadowed the drug sub, keeping it in range of our sensors without being obvious. Two hours passed before Bobby reported contact with a Coast Guard cutter. "Captain? Voice contact with the Samuel Allison out of New Orleans. They’re asking for latest location of contact."
Captain Izzard looked at Mr. Casey, who said, "Might as well send it in the clear, sir. The sub is in American waters. It’s too late for them to escape, now."
The captain nodded, and passed the numbers to Bobby.
It took only two depth charges from the Samuel Allison to convince the crew of the sub to surface. By then, Captain Izzard had closed the distance considerably. The sight of an aircraft carrier plus the Coast Guard cutter was enough to get an unconditional surrender from the smugglers.
We watched as crew members from the cutter took aboard as prisoners the crew of the sub, and then hooked up a tow line. And we were surprised when a red light on one of Bobby’s radios signaled an incoming encrypted message. Computers on both ends of the call digitized, encrypted, decrypted, and converted back to analogue. The voice that came from the speaker sounded flat, robotic.
"Global Explorer, this is Coast Guard NOLA. The Anconia office in New Orleans said you could receive this signal."
"Yes, sir. Five by five," Bobby reported.
"Will you accept a private call for Mr. Casey?"
"Patch it into the conference room," I told Bobby after a quick, unspoken exchange with the captain. "Mr. Casey? You know where that is." He ran from the bridge.
I was the only one who heard what Sean Casey heard, and then only because he was thinking so hard. We have to learn how to block, I thought.
"Son, this is Captain Harrington. I know why you resigned your commission. We’re a long way past don’t ask, don’t tell. Would you like to be reinstated, with assignment to the Global Explorer?"
"No sir." Mr. Casey’s reply was quick and firm. "Please understand. I appreciate what you’re offering, but I’ve found my place, here." And I have seven great big ex-enlisted teddy bears who don’t know I was ever an officer, and what we do in the privacy of our quarters is nobody’s business but ours, and the people who know us don’t treat us any differently because of it.
Captain Izzard, LCDR Griggs, and I met in the Captain’s ready room. He explained what needed to be done. "Mr. Bell took a critical system off-line without telling anyone. It was a good decision to perform maintenance when he did, but it was a bad decision not to tell me. Commander Anconia, it’s your call. You, Commander Griggs, or me?"
"It should come from an adult. Not someone younger than he," I said.
"Alex is right, Captain," Rocky said. "And, it was operational. I think, you, sir."
"You’re both right," Captain Izzard said. "I hate this part of the job, but it is part of the job."
I found Nicky. "Workout clothes," I said. "Tennis shoes."
Nicky knew something was wrong, but changed quickly. We found a pickup basketball game, and joined it. An hour later, I figured we were safe, and led Nicky back to our quarters.
"What was that all about?" he asked after we’d stepped into the shower.
"One of the kids did something wrong," I said. "He was going to get chewed out. Maybe more. I didn’t want to hear it, and I didn’t want you to have to, either.
"We’ve got to learn how to block," I said, not for the first time.
Nicky hugged me, and slid his slippery body against mine. "Nicky! I’m serious," I said.
"So am I," he said, and knelt. I knew I wasn’t going to win this one. I lifted him to his feet. "We can do that after we finish our shower," I said. "But then we are going to talk about it."
After our shower, Nicky and I dried one another with terrycloth towels, and then tumbled onto the bed. Nicky took charge, as he’d intimated he would. He’s not as oral as I am, but when he gets wound up&ndashas he was&ndashhe is pretty incredible.
I tried to delay things by switching roles with Nicky, but he was too single-minded. All I could do was lie back and succumb to the inevitable. His mouth worked its way slowly from my lips to my throat to my chest and tummy to my&ndash
"Oh, Nicky!" Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remembered that our bedroom was soundproofed, and I was glad for that. Had it not been, I suspect my cry as I came would have brought the ship to a stop.
Both Nicky and I napped until nearly time for supper. While we were dressing for the evening meal, Nicky continued the conversation begun in the shower.
"You know there isn’t a lot of scientific literature on dryads and telepathy," he said.
"No, I guess not. So where do we start?"
"Where science often starts. Science fiction. I know you have read Jules Verne. But how about Rossum’s Universal Robots? H.G. Wells? The Tom Swift books? And I heard somewhere that Arthur C. Clarke invented the communication satellite."
"That’s an awfully little bit of wheat in a lot of chaff," I said. "But you’re right. We have to start somewhere."
We found clues in a lot of places: Andre Norton’s books, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s stories of Darkover, Ann McCaffrey’s stories of Pern, Mercedes Lackey’s huge oeuvre. Everything pointed to three things: mental discipline, being able to hold a thought, and building an imaginary wall between our minds and the minds of others. It was a start.