Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 29

Posted: 17 Aug 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

George Washington Ate Here

Hancock Tavern
Alexandria, Virginia
April 17, 2018

"Who is behind this lawsuit? The humanists are too fragmented to come up with something like this, and they do not have the money to hire that kind of legal talent."

The Bishop squirmed in the cane-bottomed, ladder-back chair. The tavern had been frequented by George Washington, and it looked as if the furniture hadn't been replaced since then. On the other hand, it was quiet and in the private room he could have a drink—or two—something he could not do in a public place.

Elder #1 shrugged. He thought he knew, but was afraid to say.

Elder #2 didn't share Elder #1's reluctance. He was also half-way through his second generously poured Martini. "We've been attacking Anconia; they've pushed back. Maybe we should stop pulling the tiger's tail."

"Do we know that it's Anconia?" the Bishop asked.

"No sir. We couldn't prove it. Even if we could, I'm not sure it would do any good," Elder #1 said.

"We need a strategy," the Bishop said. He tossed back his drink, and squirmed in the seat, again.

"Martyrdom," Elder #1 said. "The godless of Anconia are attacking Christianity. Time for the Soldiers of the Cross to take up the whole armor of God."

"We've just about beaten that one into the ground," the Bishop said.

"It's always worked, before," Elder #1 said.

_Global Explorer_
19 April 2018

@sciencetruthnolies: biological diversity versus anthropocene extinctions who will win

"What does he mean by that?" Macon asked. I had brought him into the outer level of our understanding, and shown him the social network message from Sciencetruth. And then explained our interest in him.

"The anthropocene is the epoch in Earth's history when humans have had a significant impact on the environment and climate," I said. "Some people say it began in the late 1700s and early 1800s with the Industrial Revolution; others say it began some 10 thousand years ago, when humans started driving other species to extinction through hunting."

"And this guy? Sciencetruth?"

"I think he's saying that maybe, for once, we've stopped and maybe reversed at least part of that," I said.

IEEE EnergyWise 24 September 2013, Earth Analogue III : The suspected sabotage of three Belgium nuclear plants resulted in their shutdown and rolling blackouts during that winter. Similar problems in the United Kingdom led to the shutdown of four nuclear plants, seriously straining electrical power delivery during the winter.

The Hague, Netherlands
April 19, 2018

The relationship between Anconia Industries and the Benelux countries' industries was very competitive; however, it was a mutually respectful relationship. It wasn't difficult for Francisco to arrange a meeting among industry representatives and key members of the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began. "You and I know that the oil reserves in the North Sea are not infinite. Production peaked in 2010, and has since declined. We all know that you are paying an incredible amount of money for coal from the USA and elsewhere. We also know that rising sea levels, caused by melting ice at the poles and thermal expansion of the ocean are threatening the coastlines of Belgium and the Netherlands.

"You face a serious conundrum: you are being bled of your treasury by high energy prices but you are dependent on carbon-based energy while you are suffering the effects of rising sea level more than most.

"You are certainly aware that we have helped build new power plants in Nunavut, Canada and in the Navajo Nation. These plants do not depend on fossil fuel, either coal or oil. Their fuel is hydrogen, and they have no polluting byproducts other than electricity. I call electricity a polluting byproduct only because it tends to be used in applications that generate heat and—in some cases—creates tasks that generate other pollutants.

"It is common knowledge that the Dutch are considering giving back part of your country to the sea that despite heroic efforts is rising faster than you can cope. I'm not sure I can solve that problem, but I can offer you hydrogen power plants, as well as both atmospheric carbon sequestration plants, and, eventually, carbon nanotube manufacturing plants to create things to reinforce the dikes of this country. Our projections suggest that even if these projects are started immediately, it will be nip-and-tuck.

"What say you?"

"What will this cost?"

"You have been given the data on the construction of the plants in Arizona and Nunavut. You can plug in the cost of local labor and materials to get an estimate of costs."

"What is your profit?"

"The licensing fees are clearly spelled out. For power production, they amount to two hundredths of a Euro per kiloWatt-hour. Since domestic electricity currently costs consumers about twenty-five hundredths Euros per kilowatt hour, and the hydrogen plants are able to produce electricity for less than five hundredths Euros per kWh, you will still be operating well within your margin of profit."

"And the fees for carbon sequestration?"

"That process we offer free, although the plants themselves use some expensive catalysts."

"Nanotube manufacturing?"

"That's where we hope to make a profit," Francisco said. He chuckled. "But if you will examine the papers, you will see that even that is not exorbitant."

The Europeans were careful, even cautious, but they could not see any flaws in what Francisco was offering. Construction of the first hydrogen plants would begin within the month.

&sciencetruthnolies: hope that the dutch commitment to h power is more than a finger in the dike

Lady Chapel
April 23, 2018

"Our man . . . the one we sent in . . . he's been arrested and charged with spying."


"We don't know, sir. Should we send an attorney . . .?"

"Send no one. If he becomes a martyr, more the better."

Lubyanka Prison, Moscow
April 25, 2018

"Your church leaders in America are trying to paint you as a martyr to the faith. We are not charging you for your religious beliefs, but for espionage. You entered the country on the orders of the American Universal Fundamentalist Church. There is nothing wrong with that. However, you used a forged passport. You lied to the officers at customs and immigration. You made every effort to re-establish contact with former KGB agents the UFC was conspiring with. You reported what you found to the UFC. Your communications were monitored.

"The American ambassador has been notified. Whether he acts or not is entirely up to him."

_Global Explorer_
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
April 25, 2018

The SEALS had offered SCUBA training to anyone who was interested. Although interrupted briefly when the pool was drained because of the storm off of the Straits of Magellan, it continued until we reached Starcke, Australia. By then, more than 50 of our students and nearly all of the Sea Cadets were dive-qualified. Wyatt Anconia's tanker, which met us at Starcke, offloaded not only provender and fuel, but also crates of scuba gear and wet suits.

We anchored—actually, we were station-keeping—while the SEALS and other adults took our kids to study the coral reefs.

_Global Explorer_
April 28, 2018

The Explorer was in "caretaker" mode: at a fixed position, with engines at low power—just enough to keep us on station. The only ones on the bridge at the moment were UN Science Corps and Sea Cadets. Azisa was in command. Bobby elected to be informal.

"Alex? I've received a message from your dad. Some science contest winner named Cuthbert Lucius Hayes, III is going to be on a ship that will meet us in about two hours.

"Holy crap! Who would name a kid Cuthbert much less Cuthbert the Third?" one of the kids asked.

"Cuthbert the Second, probably."

"Isn't that child abuse?"

"And what about Cuthbert the first?"

"Guys, listen up," the cadet on the radar position said.

He was already following several targets. Not surprising—this was a popular dive location. He had heard Bobby's announcement, and added, "There is a ship . . . Australian Navy . . . IFF checks out okay . . . headed toward us. She's slow, only about five knots. Probably doesn't want to run over any of the civilians."

"Anyone else close?" Azisa asked.

"Just the dive ships we've already identified, sir."

Azisa was terribly serious. I figured that out when he called me Mr. Anconia and issued orders to me.

"Mr. Bell? Attempt contact with the Australian ship; Mr. Anconia, please alert the response teams that they may be needed."

Response teams was our code word for the teams our Coastie Sean Casey and his boyfriends had put together. I knew they were boyfriends since I'd read Sean on the phone with NOLA. Nicky and a few others had figured it out, too. Except for a few prurient thoughts, like what did they do, together, which was none of our business, we didn't think anything of it.

The response teams and a few others knew about our armament, including the small arms, anti-aircraft rockets, and the anti-tank rockets that we'd fired at Russian Zodiacs last year. Most of this was still secret, and knowledge was limited to the response teams and a few senior UNSC and Sea Cadet people.

I thought Azisa was over-reacting but admired his professionalism and caution. And afterwards, I talked to Mr. Casey who agreed that the drill had been good training. "We've taken on two more members, and this was their first time to put on their battle rattle under close to real conditions."

Years ago, the transfer of a person from one ship to another would have been done with a bosun's chair suspended from lines running from one ship to another. The Aussie ship lowered a boat, however, which motored to our boarding ladder.

Cuthbert's blond hair stuck out from his head like I imagined corn shocks would stand out in a field. Despite the mass of hair, his ears were as obvious as those of Dumbo, the elephant. I hoped he wouldn't try to fly away from us.

Nicky, Azisa, and I were at the head of the brow when Cuthbert boarded. Nicky helped with the boy's luggage, while Azisa and I greeted him.

After a few perfunctory words, I asked, "Mr. N'Kosi? Would you please take Mr. Hayes to his quarters, and then bring him to the conference room?"

I turned to the kid and added, "Mr. Hayes? Sometimes we're very formal; sometimes, we're a lot less formal and a lot more friendly. For the friendly times, I'm Alexander; this is my boy . . . my friend, Nicky. Mr. N'Kosi is also my friend, and informally, he is Azisa. I hope you will come to think of us as friends. After you are settled, Azisa will bring you to a meeting where we can get to know each other a little better."

I thought I saw Bert's eyes narrow when I almost called Nicky my boyfriend. I thought so, I thought. But let's see where that takes us.

"Thank you, sir, I'd like that. And, uh, I'm Bert."

I was happy when I felt that Bert wasn't put off when I turned him over to Azisa. Bert was from Oklahoma. A lot of people there didn't have much tolerance for anyone different, especially anyone who wasn't white, Republican, and Baptist. And straight.

Azisa settled Bert in his quarters and fed him lunch before he brought the boy to the conference room.

"Bert, your school sent me more than 80 pages of information about you. I'm kind of lazy. I'd rather not have to read 80 pages of someone else's stuff to know all about you. How about you tell us what is important for us to know."

Bert was ready for that. "You already know that I won the Anconia science competition," he started. "And that it was for work on tailored bacteria to clean up after petroleum spills.

"I'm from the University High School, in Norman, Oklahoma. Some of our teachers are faculty at the University, and I worked with one of them on a project to create genetically modified bacteria to clean up after a potential oil spill in Oklahoma oil fields.

"The biggest problem we see is that bacteria evolve, and we were both afraid that these bacteria would evolve to eat something besides oil . . . something maybe we didn't want them to eat."

"Bert, one of our missions is to find the North Pacific Garbage Patch," I said. "What do you know about that?"

It turned out that he knew quite a bit, and was just as concerned as we were, not only about the patch, itself, but about using tailored bacteria to clean it up. "What if they start eating—well, the phytoplankton—" he asked. "That's the problem with bacteria and viruses: they evolve!"

Azisa and I had already reached agreement, so what I said next was easy.

"Bert, Azisa is a microbiologist. He has a large laboratory. I would like you to work with him. Will that be acceptable?"

I don't think Bert knew that he could disagree with me without getting into trouble, but I didn't see any reluctance, either.

"We've got to find him a boyfriend," Nicky said that night when we cuddled.


"You know who I mean!" Nicky said. "Bert!"

Actually, I did know, but I still got a kick out of teasing Nicky. Bert was entirely too open in his emotions, and both Nicky and I had read his desire when his eyes flickered among us and the others we had brought into the conference room. I followed his gaze and realized that we were sitting pretty much in pairs, separated from other pairs by some space. Hmmm.

"Who should it be?" I asked.

"Azisa?" Nicky suggested. There was a lot of doubt in his voice, though.

"Bert is a white boy from a very conservative American state," I said. "Azisa is a black boy from Africa. Do you think?"

"Alexander? I would like to make Bert and Azisa the poster boys for the next Gay Pride Parade in New York—or Atlanta—or some small-minded town in Alabama or Oklahoma. Yes and no! We both know it's too soon for that. Still, I'd like to throw them together and see what happens. Would that be a bad thing?"

I thought for a while. We were still coming to grips with the extent of our mental powers, and with what they meant. Still . . . Azisa was not only a watch-standing officer of the UNSC, he was a microbiologist, and would be a good mentor for Bert. Or, Bert might be a good mentor for Azisa. Either way.

"Yes, Nicky. Let's do that, but let's watch very carefully . . ."

I thought for a few minutes. Nicky understood, and gave me time. "I was incredibly geeky when I first came on the Explorer," I said.

"And a lot longer before—and after that," Nicky said. He wasn't being hard on me, and he was telling the truth.

"Um, hmm," I said. "Bert is where I was. It's my responsibility to help him grow away from that. I will do whatever I have to do to help him. Will you help me?"

"Do you suppose Azisa could talk him into getting a different haircut?"

"Are you quite finished with Bert and Azisa?" I asked, and pulled Nicky into a hug. "There's really something a lot more important."

Nicky returned my hug, I felt him swelling between us. I put my hands on his buttocks, and pressed us together.

Chapter End Note: IFF is the abbreviation for "identification friend or foe," and usually consists of codes sent by radar transponders after being pinged by another ship's radar.

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