Global Explorer II
by David McLeod
Betrayal and Friendship
Old Ebbett's Grill, Washington, DC, February 13, 2018
"This is entirely too public," the Bishop groused. "Politicians? Press? Should we be seen here?"
"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," Elder #1 said.
"Would you please make sense?" the Bishop said.
"The other patrons are either politicians or their handler-lobbyists. None of them is guiltless," the Elder said. "Further, all of them were brainwashed in the Christian tradition as children. They see us as paragons of virtue, as leaders. It is good for them to see us here and know that we are always watching. And the waiter knows to bring your martini in a water glass."
Mollified, the Bishop ordered crab cakes, and sipped his martini.
"I thought the question from the kid in India would shut down Alexander Anconia," the Bishop said. "More important, however, who is the twit who is attacking us?"
"Twit?" Elder #1 asked.
"The one who calls himself "science truth," the Bishop said.
"We have no idea, sir," Elder #2 said. "We don't have the expertise to find him. We could hire someone."
"Just make sure they don't know they are working for us."
Global Explorer, Passing the Falkland Islands, February 13, 2018
"&sciencetruthnolies: $6 billion on bandaids or cure for disease? vote at www._____.za"
The URL was of a web site hosted in South Africa. The home page had links to a number of articles from the popular press about the GX, its mission, and how much it had cost to build. There were also articles, mostly from the World Health Organization, UNESCO, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees about the subjects I'd covered in the speech to India. Readers were invited to vote on toilets, heart transplants, orphans, solar cells, tractors, water purification, or research.
"It's a balanced presentation," I said.
"Hope it stays up long enough for us to get a final tally," Nicky said.
"It's self-directed polling," I said. "That's notoriously inaccurate. But I'd like to see the results, anyway."
The margin was narrow, but research got a plurality of 30%, with toilets close behind.
Rump KGB, Ulyanovsk, Russia, February 13, 2018 @ 8:00 PM
"Where is Colonel Ulinov? Lubyanka? Dead?"
"Not Lubyanka, sir. They have been quick and open with requests for names of prisoners."
"Bozhe moi! You didn't ask them!"
"The request came from a third party not known to be in our pay, sir."
"Sir, we have examined the colonel's computer. There is on it an American program that is used to provide videoconferences between computers. There is a record of a computer address in Washington, DC. It is possible that the colonel was a traitor."
"What might he have told them?"
"The computer address is that of the Bishop of the Universal Fundamentalist Church. The Bishop has tried to call Colonel Ulinov several times since his disappearance. The Bishop does not seem to understand that his words and image are recorded, even if no one on this end answers. Watch, please."
The Bishop's face was florid. "Goddamn it, Ulinov! Answer. The money has been removed from the North Korean account. Did you get it, or did those damn gooks get it, first? Are we still safe to bring in bibles and missionaries? Goddamn it, Ulinov! I need your input on this."
"What does this mean?"
"I will tell you," the Major said. He was no longer afraid, and it was far past time for these idiots to be put in their place.
"First, Colonel Ulinov betrayed us, and made a deal directly with the UFC. He convinced them to send him money, which he took before he left, on his own accord. He is not in Lubyanka or dead. Given his proclivities–his attraction to barely nubile children–I would guess that he's in Thailand.
"Second, the American church is no longer going to be a source of funds. If this idiot bishop doesn't know that he was screwed by Ulinov, he will figure it out fairly quickly.
"Third … well, this one doesn't mean anything to us, I don't think … but the American UFC is likely to send in their bibles and missionaries. Whether they make it past customs and immigration will tell us a great deal about the Romanov Dynasty."
"Oh, yes. He will re-establish the dynasty."
"What about the Anconia offer to the Count? Is the Anconia offer real? Or is the count being led by the nose?"
"What Anconia interest would be served by making the count the chancellor?"
"They are keeping the appointment secret. This leads me to believe it is legitimate. By doing this, they do not create jealousy and factiousness in the organization until they have consolidated their power."
"How should we respond to the request for lists of names?"
"How can we protect those who are our allies without giving away that they are allies?"
The longer the ex-KGB men and women talked, the more comfortable they became with the idea that perhaps the offer to the count, the secrecy, and the request for names were legitimate. That had been part of Francisco's plan. No, he was not a fool.
UFC Headquarters, Washington, DC, February 14, 2018
Mr. Lennox fumed. Then he dithered. The IRS had sued another offshore bank. The IRS had also slapped a million dollar fine on the church that held the first account to be exposed. Their non-profit and church status may have protected them from taxes, but they weren't exempt from banking regulations. What would be a long and expensive appeal process had begun.
The First Quorum needed to know this. Lennox prepared a memo. He did not include his prediction that more banks, more accounts, and more churches would be exposed. Let the bastards find out that for themselves, he thought.
Global Explorer, February 14, 2018 @ 0600
Our next video conference was with a collection of schools from the European Union. We were back in Atlantic Time, so I was awakened at 0500. Bleh!
The questions dealt mostly with science, and I was happy for others to answer them. OTOH, I was surprised by the last question. It sounded like something that the right-wing conspiracy theorists from the USA might come up with. Then, I remembered news coverage of skin heads in Europe, and wondered how far that insanity had penetrated.
"Isn't the global warming conspiracy just another way for government to take charge of our lives? How can Anconia Industries believe in global warming when there isn't a scientific consensus?"
That last gave me an opening. "First," I said, "we have to see who claims there isn't a scientific consensus, and we have to look at their scientific credentials.
"The people who claim there isn't a consensus don't understand what that means. Climate change deniers who are journalists or paid flacks do not constitute opposition either to science or to consensus."
It was a line from the author of "Merchants of Doubt." I didn't think she would mind.
Nicky had a message waiting for me after the conference.
"&sciencetruthnolies: the only conspirators are climate deniers see merchants of doubt
Our anonymous blogger had apparently recognized my source. At least he didn't call me to task for not giving Ms. Oreskes credit for the quotation.
Davey Jones's Journal, Anconia Virginia Compound, February 15, 2018
The count's comm link had a cutout. We were able to trace it only as far as a coffee shop in Russia. That was a dead end. We would have to be in Russia before we could go further. This meant that the count might see things we didn't want his masters to know. We would have to be very careful.
I read an email from Alexander. "Where do they get their money, and where to they hide it?"
I didn't realize I'd said that aloud until Jaf spoke.
"Who? What?" Jaf asked.
"The UFC," I replied. "They're attacking … if not us, directly, at least the things we believe in. And they've got money. I just don't know where it is."
"Leave it to me, Davey," Jaf said, and giggled.
Global Explorer, 60 W 60 S, February 15, 2018
At 1000 Atlantic Time, Captain Izzard ordered the helmsman to steer west, and we began our circumnavigation of Antarctica.
Before crossing the Atlantic, last year, we had added a more sensitive magnetometer to the end of the sensor cable, one capable of measuring paleomagnetism: the magnetic field in igneous rock that had been frozen in place when the rock solidified. We had repeated and confirmed the measurements that explained the North Atlantic Rift. Now, we were hoping that measurements around Antarctica would reveal more information that would help us expand our understanding of continental drift.
In order for the magnetometer to work properly, the bottom of the sensor cage had to be close to the bottom of the ocean. This meant closer monitoring, which meant more Sea Cadets had to be trained, and then given the conn. Actually, that was a good thing.
I was more interested in seeing the Southern Lights, the Aurora Australis. I'd seen the Northern Lights, not only in Montana, but also when we'd taken the triplets to Canada and when the Explorer had sailed across the North Pole.
Global Explorer, February 15, 2018 @ 1600,
Bobby's phone rang the instant he got off watch. He looked at the phone, and frowned. He didn't recognize the number in the caller ID.
"Bobby? It's Jimmy, the guy in the wheelchair? You said I could call if I needed help? Is it okay?"
Bobby felt something wash over him. He shivered for an instant, but he didn't know why. "Yes, sure. What can I do?"
"Would you come to my quarters? S-427-E? Do you remember where …"
Jimmy was waiting in the open doorway when Bobby arrived. "I wasn't sure you'd remember," he mumbled. "They all look alike." He closed the door behind Bobby.
The second bed was bare, except for what looked like a pile of laundry.
Bobby looked at the laundry. "You never found a roommate?" he asked.
"No, there were a couple of guys … and I've got some friends, but no one I really felt like trusting … there are too many people who are afraid of cripples, and who think that friendship with a cripple means people would be afraid of them, too."
"But you're settled in? Found everything?" Bobby asked, desperately changing the subject.
The small talk continued for a few moments until Bobby said, "So, what can I do for you?"
Jimmy blushed. "You asked me if I needed help with the shower?"
Bobby nodded, but frowned. "Yes, but you said …"
"Well, I can sit on the seat and use the hand-shower okay, but I really want to soak in the tub. My legs … sometimes they cramp, and, well, I can't get in and out of the tub by myself. Would you …?" He seemed unable to complete the question.
"Well, sure," Bobby said. "Uh, there's a hydrotherapy tub in the gym. Would that be better?"
Jimmy's blush turned white. "My legs, they're really ugly. I don't want people to see them."
Bobby understood instantly that Jimmy wasn't just asking for help–he was giving Bobby his trust. Bobby got the shivery feeling, again.
Bobby ran warm water in the tub while Jimmy went to undress. Jimmy rolled into the bathroom. Bobby kept his eyes on Jimmy's face and away from the boy's legs, although he could see them from the corners of his eyes–legs thin and twisted with atrophied and malformed muscles–and, he could see Jimmy's erection.
Bobby turned off the water. "How do we go about this?"
"Do you think you can lift me?" Jimmy asked. "I can lock the wheels, and you could lift me into the tub."
Bobby knelt by the tub. Jimmy parked the wheelchair next to him. Bobby reached one arm under Jimmy's thighs, and slid the other behind the boy's back. "Lean forward, and grab my shoulders," he instructed.
He's light, Bobby thought, and shivered. He swung Jimmy over the edge of the tub and lowered him into the water.
He's strong, Jimmy thought, and shivered.
Bobby sat on his heels and looked toward the door. "Water warm enough?" he asked.
"Yes," Jimmy said. "Um, you don't have to not look at me."
Bobby turned his head and stared at the faucet. "But you said you didn't want people to see–"
"I meant other people. Not you," Jimmy said. Another shiver washed over Bobby.
"You're going to soak your uniform lifting me out," Jimmy said. "You should … maybe … take it off?"
Bobby got the shivery feeling again. He stripped off his uniform and folded it beside the pile of clean laundry on the second bed. He hesitated for a moment, and then stripped off his briefs before adding them. Then, he knelt by the tub.
Jimmy put his arms around Bobby's shoulders while Bobby lifted the smaller boy from the water. Bobby turned, but before he could seat Jimmy in the wheelchair, he felt a kiss on his cheek.
He put Jimmy in his wheelchair and moved back. He looked at Jimmy's face.
"Please don't hate me," the boy whispered. "I shouldn't have … but …"
"I don't hate you," Bobby said. "But you have to tell me what that kiss meant–if it meant anything."
"It means I really like you. It means I want to get to know you better. It means I want for us to be best friends and maybe boyfriends."
Before Bobby could say anything, Jimmy continued. "I have seen a lot of things that other people don't see," he said. "I've figured out that a lot of the boys–the Sea Cadets and the Science Corps guys–are gay and have boyfriends? I kind of felt, that first day, that maybe you were? I kind of felt, that first day, that maybe you liked me?" Jimmy's confidence faded, and his statements became questions.
"Look, Jimmy, I'm sorry, but I can't stay … duty … you're okay, now? In your wheel … in your chair?"
Bobby hurriedly dressed. Jimmy watched for a moment and then turned away. Before Bobby could see the tears in Jimmy's eyes, Bobby had left the room.
Chapter End Note: "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming," by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway is a brilliantly written and exhaustively researched book that should confirm in anyone's mind that climate change deniers are fools or criminals–or both.