Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 5

Published: 6 Jul 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

Tectonic Tests

GX Off the Coast of North Carolina, January 4, 2018 @ 1300

A quick word with Nicky had made sure that everything that came from &sciencetruthnolies would be brought to our attention. We were about to do something spectacular. If there were a mole on the GX, I hoped this would flush him out.

We announced what we were calling a 'calibration test' of the seismometers. After launching the fixed wing aircraft, which took advantage of the relative wind across the deck, the captain ordered us to station keeping. The thrusters were tied to the GPS receiver to keep us in one spot. As soon as that was confirmed, one of the submersibles was launched to emplace a seismometer below the ship. The helos launched and dropped seismometers in a 25-mile radius pattern around us. When all the seismometers had reached the bottom and drilled themselves in, Captain Izzard gave the order.

Our press pool had been alerted, and we made sure they had an opportunity to take video of one of the Clippers and one of the helos firing rockets. While still in range of the video cameras, the rockets turned and dove straight into the sea.

"We have video of the submersible operation in a format that you can use," Lt. Anik said at the debriefing.

"We'll schedule a demo of submersible control as soon as things settle down," Nicky added.

"We also have video taken from the aircraft, and of the helos dropping and recovering the seismometers," one of the pilots said. "Perhaps at another time, you'd like to ride along—get your own video."

"I have video of the data from the seismometers. It's not very exciting, but you can see the graphs jiggle when the tectonic charges go off at the bottom of the sea," Dr. Gannon completed the discussion.

I think we overwhelmed the press pool with our openness and willingness to share information. They immediately began putting together a program for a science cable channel, and were much too busy to ask questions.

"&sciencetruthnolies: tectonic tests on global explorer watch cbn 3"

The post included a link to a Canadian Broadcast Network station in Toronto.

"This was sent a few minutes after the video was carried on a Toronto television station," Nicky said. "No luck in tracing it; it could have come from anywhere."

"The video was on other stations, too, right? Why CBN3?"

"It gets more internet hits than any other Canadian station," Nicky suggested. "And it may be a red herring."

"Any clue where he is?"

"No. He's using proxies, and bouncing the signals around the world. And the proxies are being monitored. As soon as I get into one, it shuts down. The signal goes to another proxy, and I have to search for it. And, his messages are always short. We need another way to track him."

"There was something from the IEEE recently about fingerprinting browsers. Since people have learned to refuse or delete cookies and history, advertisers are having a hard time tracking. That means they can't target ads as effectively."

"So what are they doing?"

"Some companies are looking into people's computers through their browsers and collecting information like font lists, file structures, even file names that are unique to a particular computer. They can then track that user's browsing history."

"Oh crap!"

"Can we use this?"

"Only if we can hack the NSA."

"Don't think that would be a good idea."

"No, probably not."

Zurich, Switzerland, January 4, 2018, Ensign Davey Jones's Journal

Jonathan and I had a suite at a hotel in Zurich. It had two bedrooms, but we needed only one. Mr. A knew that Jonathan and I were boyfriends. It didn't matter to him except that he knew it cemented our family relationships. And that it was something to be kept secret from the world.

I was an orphan since I was eight years old. Neither the Anconia Virginia compound nor the few hours we'd spent at the Montana compound, much less any of the foster homes or group homes I'd been in, had prepared me for all this luxury—not even close! Mr. A was pretty cool about it; so was Jonathan. I tried to be—cool, that is—but I felt Jonathan's pleasure, and Mr. A's, at my feelings of wonder. Actually, I was kind of glad I could give them some good feelings. Especially Jonathan. He was becoming more and more tense and worried. I wanted to help, any way I could.

Jonathan interrupted my thoughts. "Hey, Davey? Want a massage?"

I didn't know anything about massage, but figured a little on-the-job training couldn't hurt.

"Jonathan? How about you get naked, and I'll give you a massage?"

"I would like that, a lot," he said. "And I'll give you a massage, too. So you have to be naked, too."

It didn't work. The mattress was entirely too soft—we sank into it and I couldn't get any leverage. The floor? We didn't even consider that. Definitely would have been too hard.

"Davey? Put on some gym shorts," Jonathan said, pulling a pair from his suitcase. "I'll fix this!"

A phone call was made, and in less than twenty minutes this fellow arrived, portable massage table in hand. He set up the table in the sitting room. Jonathan insisted I go first. I lay on the table, my face in a hole conveniently placed on the table's padded top. I damn near jumped off when I felt the guy jerk my gym shorts down my legs and over my feet.

"There must be nothing in way," he said. At that point, I felt something warm and liquid being poured on my back, and then his hands began to dig into my muscles.

"You very tense," he said. "You call me every day you be here. Do not worry. Is included in cost of suite. I do not try to generate money."

Oh yes! I thought as his hands moved down my back. At least once a day.

I was afraid I'd get an erection and that when he was ready to do my front I'd be embarrassed. I was so relaxed, however, I was still soft when I rolled over. Until he started massaging my legs. I looked at him through narrowed eyelids, but he ignored my growing penis. I guess he'd seen more than one.

When my massage was over, Jonathan handed me a robe, stripped off his shorts, and lay on the table. I'm glad I had on the robe: watching the masseuse rubbing Jonathan kept me hard.

The door had barely closed behind the guy when Jonathan and I were naked, in the bed, and pressing our erections against one another. I was so hot, I thought I would explode instantly, but Jonathan moved away.

"Too fast," he said. And lay quietly on his back.

"No way!" I said. I straddled his thighs. We were still slippery from the massage oil. Even so, this was going to hurt both of us, but a little pain would slow our orgasms. I leaned forward, reached behind me, and guided Jonathan's penis between my cheeks. And sat back. And sighed with—not pain although that was there, but with pleasure and love.

As soon as Jonathan was all the way inside me, I rocked back and forth, stimulating him by squeezing and releasing muscles.

Jonathan was able to hold off his orgasm, but not for long, and I felt his heat inside me as I spurted across his tummy.

After we showered, I studied Russian on my iPad while Jonathan read "The White Crow," by Jamie H. Cockfield. It was one of the books among Jonathan's presents from the Anconias. When I looked up, Jonathan caught my eye.

"This is the biography of my great, great grandfather, Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich Romanov," he said. "He too, was murdered by the communists. It is not easy for me to read about him, but I must, and I will."

"What does 'white crow' mean?" I asked.

Jonathan laughed. "A white crow is an oddity, and apparently he was something of an oddball. I'm still learning."

Global Explorer, East of Cape Canaveral, January 5, 2018 @ 0900

"Sir, we're sailing against the current. Do we need to reduce speed to compensate?" one of the cadets asked. He was looking at a map showing the branch of the North Equatorial Current that split off near Venezuela and went west, toward Yucatan and spun clockwise past Texas and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, before passing through the strait between Florida and Cuba to join the Gulf Stream.

"We'll hold at 15 knots," Dr. Brewster replied. "The ship's speed—both absolute and relative to the current, based on GPS data, is automatically incorporated into the sensor data recorded—here." He pointed to the bank of servers. Dr. Brewster was holding an orientation session for new Sea Cadets. "That was a good question."

"Will we be sailing through the Gulf dead zone? Will the sensors find that?" another cadet asked.

"What's a dead zone?" someone asked before Dr. Brewster could respond.

"The dead zones are caused by phytoplankton blooms fed by fertilizer washed into the Gulf. When the phytoplankton die, they fall to the bottom and rot. That uses up oxygen. Since the water at the bottom is not as easily oxygenated by current or wave action as is water near the top, the oxygen becomes depleted and the water near the bottom cannot support most sea life. This is a spring and summer event. It's not likely we'll see much, if any, of its effect in winter."

"But if it's there, will the sensor find it?" The kid was, if nothing else, persistent.

"May I answer that?" Nicky asked. He'd become an unofficial tactical officer and big brother to the new Sea Cadets. When Dr. Brewster agreed, Nicky continued.

"One of the sensors is designed to measure dissolved oxygen in the water. If there is a dead zone, they'll find it. Then, depending on what the Science Team wants to do, we may drop additional sensors from our aircraft to measure and map the area. We did that when we mapped the South Pacific Garbage Patch, last year. We may also launch the submersibles.

"Some of you guys may get to pilot the submersibles; and, some of you may be scheduled to fly on the helos or aircraft."

I've got to warn them about pissing their pants during fixed-wing landings, he thought. As funny as it might be to some people, there's no reason to embarrass anyone.

Ensign Davey Jones's Journal, January 5, 2018

"In 1850, more than 90% of Russia's population of 70 million lived in isolated rural villages, unaware of the outside world beyond the next village. This situation was created by my ancestors and the Russian Orthodox Church in order to keep them under control. They were taught racial and religious hatred for anyone unlike themselves." I saw Jonathan's anger as he spoke, and felt him trying to keep control and not to throw the book across the room. It was the book Mr. Anconia had given him, White Crow.

I sat beside him and took his hand. "Jonathan, please don't be upset. Please look at this as a lesson, as something to be avoided. Your job is going to be bringing people together. It's easy to get people to hate a common enemy; it's going to be a lot harder to get them to work together toward a common goal. Maybe there's something in the book that will help.

"Right now, you need to take a break, and I need …" My voice drifted off, but Jonathan knew what I meant. No matter how much I liked to feel Jonathan inside me, and no matter how good I felt when Jonathan filled me with his heat, there were times when I needed to feel in control.

And, there were times when Jonathan needed for someone other than himself to be in control.

Global Explorer, January 5, 2018

Francesca's secure email was waiting when I got to the conference room and logged onto my terminal. "Unable to determine source of &sciencetruthnolies. Davey is in Virginia at Dad's headquarters. He and Montana IT people working, but dead ends, so far. Have you confirmed GX isn't source?"

I told her that I'd scanned everyone. "Nicky put a bot on the ship's comm system that will look for that tag, but suspects that if it's coming from the ship, it's going somewhere and being converted. We could put keyword search on every outgoing message but I don't want to do that. Besides, we don't have the staff to check it. It's just Nicky and me."

"What else do you have to do, Mr. Mission Commander?" Francesca sent.

That pissed me off, but rather than start a fight with my sister, I simply logged off.

I found Nicky in our sitting room. He was at a computer terminal that showed a picture of a man, a woman, and a child who held a teddy bear. I knew instantly what it was, and was afraid to speak.

Nicky knew what I felt, and was quick to speak. "It's okay, Alex. Please, sit beside me."

When I did, he scrolled through photos. I recognized him, even so many years younger, and knew the adults were his parents, long dead.

Then, the pictures became contemporaneous: I was there, as were my parents as well as Aunt Elizabeth, Uncle Admiral Pershing, and Tom—Nicky's new family.

"My parents would have loved you, you know," Nicky said. "And they would have loved my new family, too."

Warren National Cathedral, Washington, DC, USA,

January 7, 2018 @ 11:00 AM local time

The Episcopal Church of the USA, once the owner of the Washington National Cathedral, had been torn apart by the question of gay marriage. As the church had splintered, financial support for the corporate entity that owned the cathedral had waned. Much against its will, the church had been forced to sell the building and grounds. Even more humiliating, the sale had been to the United Fundamentalist Church—the UFC.

Few of the television sets on the Global Explorer were turned on this early on a Sunday morning. Most of those were being used to play video games, or were tuned to the ship's station, which was playing an old movie, Key Largo. The ship had just passed the tip of Florida and was moving into the Gulf of Mexico.

Had anyone tuned to one of the many available satellite channels, they would have heard the words of the sermon given by the Reverend Fallmuth, prelate of the UFC's cathedral.

"The climate is not changing. The floods these so-called scientists predict will not happen. God made this promise to Noah and his descendants after the Great Flood, and the rainbow in the sky is the sign of that promise."

In Clover, South Carolina, a couple of boys who had held a sleepover at one of their homes, giggled. They had heard Fallmuth talk about the rainbow while flipping through channels.

"The rainbow … that's for gay people, right?"

"I know what Pastor Franklin preached," one of the boys said. "I know he said that gay people were condemned to hell. But that's not right!"

"Why isn't it right?"

"Look, there's nothing, really, in the New Testament that condemns homosexuality. It's all in the Old Testament, right?"

"Yeah; that's right."

"But so are the Old Testament laws against eating catfish and shrimp. And what did we have at the church picnic last Sunday afternoon?"

"Fried catfish and shrimp. Oh crap!"

"It's like in the school cafeteria: pick and choose."

"But no matter what you pick at school it's crap. Oh! It's the same, isn't it?"

The boy's eyes lit. "They're nothing but … I don't know, cafeteria Christians? Picking and choosing what they want to believe."

"Yeppers. Now," the first boy said, stroking his boyfriend's tummy. "Here's what I believe. I believe I love you, and that no one can tell me that it's wrong."

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