Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 6

Published: 6 Jul 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

School Days

Global Explorer, January 8, 2018 @ 1000 hours

Monday. The first day of the week. On the Explorer, it’s hard to understand that, sometimes. We change time zones to match our position, and we stand watches 24/7. The days of the week merge, one into the other.

Today, the high school kids on board were—for the most part—in class, although class on the Global Explorer had a different meaning than in traditional schools.

Some of the students were in the sensor control room, working with Dr. Brewster’s people to interpret data from the sensor cable—and learning about oceanography, Shannon’s law, time-division multiplexing, Maxwell’s equations, and matrix algebra in the process. Others were in Aunt Helen’s laboratory, sequencing the genes of comb jellies, or in other laboratories throughout the ship, designing and conducting experiments. A few were in Ensign Bobby Bell’s electronics laboratory, engaged in hands-on design of communications equipment.

One, a youngster named Artie with a flair for physics, had been sworn to secrecy, and was having his eyes opened while helping Bobby create new capabilities for the "Neutrino Circuit" phone system.

Francesca had managed to make me a hero to kids—mostly the children of Anconia, but the audience was growing. And, she’d scheduled a series of videoconferences from the GX to classrooms all over the world.

The screens in our conference room already showed three classrooms and one auditorium—all were full of kids—when I took my seat and signaled Nicky to go live.

It took a few minutes for them all to get quiet.

"Good morning, everyone," I said. "I am Alexander Anconia, the mission commander of the Science Ship Global Explorer. Thank you all for attending this seminar. I’ll say a few things, and then open it up for questions. I understand you have people with microphones in your rooms and auditorium to handle those questions.

"First, I have a question for you. Who all is represented here?"

A kid in the front row of the auditorium, who already had a microphone, was first to reply: "Benchley High School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana—Alons Tigres!"

That got quite a reaction from the rest of the kids in the auditorium. When they’d quieted, kids from the three classrooms responded. "Whitewater High, Oxford, Mississippi—Go Rebels!" "Fairley High School, Jacksonville, Florida—Eat ’Em Gators!" and "Fort Smith, Arkansas, High School—Rah, Rah, Razorbacks!"

"Well, I am sure happy to see you all so awake and alert this morning," I said. "And I have to add, Go Grizzlies. Even though we’re not in the same conferences. And what we are doing is broader than any football team."

Then, I began the canned speech.

"This is the Global Explorer, or GX as we’re calling her," I said while an image of the ship was displayed. "She started life as a warship, but we rescued her, and turned her into a science ship, and a floating classroom for high school and college students.

"Our main mission is to collect data about climate and climate change. There’s a lot of controversy about climate change. Most of that is not about whether the climate is changing—almost everyone who understands science knows that it is. Most of it is about how much of the change was caused by humans and about whether it’s going to cause problems for us, and what we can do about it.

"You see my sister, Francesca’s, internet and blog addresses at the bottom of the screen. If you want to learn more, check it out.

"We on the GX know that people have pretty much made a mess of Earth. We also know that there are things that we can do, individually and as a group, to make things better."

I showed images of the sensor train, and described the data we collected. I also talked about the "south pacific garbage patch," and said we were going to look for the "north pacific patch" on this mission.

Then, I opened the floor to questions. The first one was from the school in Arkansas. "Reverend Fallmuth preached last Sunday that climate change isn’t real, and that God promised there would be no floods, and that the rainbow is the symbol of that. How can you say that the climate is changing?"

"I have heard Mr. Fallmuth speak," I said. "He’s a very charismatic preacher. However, charisma doesn’t give a preacher permission to talk about something he doesn’t know anything about.

"Climate scientists aren’t predicting a global flood; so even if that story were true, the preacher is barking up the wrong tree. All we’re saying is that sea levels have risen—but only a few inches. That has been measured. It’s real; it’s a fact. And, we’re saying that if things continue the way they’re going, sea levels will continue to rise, maybe a few more inches, maybe a few meters, maybe fifteen or twenty meters. No one except that preacher is saying that the whole Earth will be flooded."

The next question was a little more complicated.

"The Vostok ice cores showed that rising temperature lagged rising carbon dioxide," he said. "So how can your sister say that CO2 is causing global warming?"

"An excellent question," I said. "I first saw that graph when it was presented to a Canadian Senate Panel. A lot of climate-change deniers use it. I couldn’t understand it, so I went to the source. I’ll ask Francesca to put those links on her web site.

"What the scientists said was that the advance and retreat of glaciers over the past 420,000 years or so was caused first by changes in solar radiation reaching Earth, which was then compounded—made worse—by greenhouse gasses, including CO2.

"The Vostok cores also showed something that the climate change deniers don’t ever seem to say: that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere today is higher than anytime in the past 420,000 years."

Francesca must have been watching, ’cause the links went up almost instantly on her web site. Nicky was operating our Chyron text generator, and quickly added them to the crawler at the bottom of our screen. I watched a lot of kids making notes, and hoped they were writing down the links.

There weren’t many questions after that, and we were able to sign off in time for lunch.

United Fundamentalist Church, Headquarters, Washington, DC,

January 8, 2018 @ 1:00 PM

"Sir, we’ve received a request from the governor of Pennsylvania for a million-dollar contribution." Mr. Lennox, the UFC’s senior accountant, said.

"For what reason?"

Mr. Lennox knew what the Bishop meant. "The unions are demanding that the state of Pennsylvania—meaning, of course, the taxpayers—assume responsibility for the unfunded portion of the unions’ defined benefit pension plans. The governor knows that would bankrupt the state—and guarantee he’d not be re-elected, but he can’t say that."

The union members are the sheep that fill our coffers, the Bishop thought. But at the moment, the governor has more power than they do.

"Send the money to him, but make sure it doesn’t appear to come from us," the Bishop said. "It wouldn’t do for the unions to know we support the governor with their money, and it certainly wouldn’t do for the IRS to know we are involved so directly in politics."

The accountant nodded, and withdrew.

Global Explorer, January 8, 2018, @ 1500 Eastern

&sciencetruthnolies: global explorer stomps on climate deniers and reverend foulmouth watch / kL43t

"Let me guess," I said. "The Arkansas school videotaped the program from the Explorer and some TV station broadcast it? Have we seen their commentary?"

"They only streamed the program on the internet. Our computer didn’t pick it up, at first, because it was on a deep page. The only comments are from viewers—and they’re running twenty-to-one against science, you, and the Explorer—in that order. Odds are we’ll not be invited back to Arkansas."

"Have you found out who it is?" Francesca sent.

"I told you I wasn’t going to keyword search every outgoing message," I said. "And I do have things to do."

"You still pissed?"

"Not really, but I was, then."

"Sorry, Big Brother, but I’m worried for you."

It wasn’t a real apology, but it would do.

"Thank you, Sister. I love you."

"You are so good," Nicky said. I pried a little, and saw he meant how I had handled the kids’ questions earlier today—and Francesca, later.

Nicky and I had managed to get to bed a little early. I was lying on my back; Nicky straddled me while his fingertips ran along my ribs. He was careful to energize me without tickling.

"We have to be up for an early flight, tomorrow," I said.

"Um, hmm. And I’m going to make sure neither of us has an orgasm from a catapult launch or a carrier landing."

Oh, oh, oh … was about all I could think after Nicky dropped his mouth onto my penis.

Nicky used every trick he knew to keep me hard and make me cum. And I did the same for him. Before we collapsed from exhaustion, I knew that if I had cum one more time, my balls would not have been in any condition to take a catapult launch from the flight deck of the Explorer. And I felt the same from Nicky.

Being powerful is like being a lady.
If you have to tell people you are,
you aren’t.

—Margaret Thatcher, Earth Analogue III

Nassau, The Bahamas, Ensign Davey Jones’s Journal

Mr. A and Jonathan had spent a lot of time talking and planning before we got on the B757 to fly to the Bahamas for the Romanov Convocation. It was the morning of January 8. I have to remember to put in dates. Things are happening so quickly!

Jonathan had offered to sponsor the meeting, including accommodations and the conference room. The Romanovs said no. He offered, discretely, to pay for transportation, but no one took him up on that, either. The IT guys at Anconia—with a little help from me—were able to get into the airlines’ and hotels’ databases, and gave us a list of people expected to attend. It looked like the entire organization would be there, including the Pretender.

The night before the meeting, Jonathan and I watched an old musical, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," and giggled when she introduced her "royal flush" of counts and duchesses to the society of early 20th century Denver. The Romanov Organization boasted some 60 "titled" members, although I wasn’t sure where all those titles came from.

Afterwards, I helped Jonathan relax.

Global Explorer @ Sea, January 9, 2018, @ Zero Dark Hundred Hours

"Got on your diapers?" I asked Nicky. We were standing on the flight deck in a brisk, cold wind waiting for one of the Clippers to be raised by the elevator from the hanger deck.

"Funny, ha, ha," he whispered. "I’m not going to piss myself and after last night, I’m not likely to cum in my pants, either." He grinned. It would have to do—there were a dozen people around us, members of our Strike Team who would provide security, plus the press pool—and it wouldn’t do for us to kiss, not even hold hands.

After takeoff, the two men in the press pool and all the strike team members had fallen asleep. I was too wired to sleep. The four cups of coffee I’d drunk might have had something to do with that. I was reading on my iPad when the woman from the press pool reached my seat.

"Mr. Anconia? May I ask you a few questions?"

"Certainly," I said. Nicky was in the jump seat behind the pilot. I gestured to his vacant seat beside me.

"Those missiles launched for the tectonic tests. They could be construed to be weapons," she said.

That wasn’t a question, really, but it was something I had to answer.

"That would be virtually impossible. And we’ve been careful to ensure that. In the first place, in order not to create environmental problems, we use very low charges—less powerful than the average 4th of July fireworks on the National Mall. They would be very unlikely to damage a modern warship.

"Second, there’s not much propellant, meaning they’re very short range, which is why we send out the planes and helos. And finally, there is no terminal guidance. They are on timers: after so many seconds, dive and detonate when you hit something harder than water. That’s all they know how to do."

"That is something perhaps for your web page," she said.

"Would you like to post something about that, with your byline?" I asked. "And would you let me help with any technical details?"

She nodded. Once again, by offering access, help, and freedom we had forestalled questions and suspicions we didn’t want raised. I wasn’t entirely happy lying—and that’s what I was doing. But I had a responsibility to some 650 people, now. More than two hundred were kids, when I counted the Sea Cadets. And I knew we still had some significant enemies.

Romanov Convocation, Ensign Davey Jones’s Journal, January 9, 2018 10:00 AM

The Anconia family convocation I’d attended on the Global Explorer was pretty plain compared to this one. The meeting room at the hotel in Nassau was ostentatious. That was a new word for me, and I had to look it up after Jonathan said it.

The room held a huge oak table, chairs with brocaded cushions, crystal glasses and pitchers of water, three chandeliers with more tiny lights than I could count, and at least a hundred people wearing what I learned were formal morning clothes.

I thought about the difference between the two meetings, and realized that the Anconia family didn’t need brocade and crystal—they were sure of themselves and of their power. The Romanov Organization wasn’t as confident, and hid that behind the showiness.

I wore my uniform, but again, at Mr. A’s request, I kept in the background with security dudes who ringed the room. Security dudes and a dryad. He was in Sea Cadet summer whites. The contrast between the uniform and his café au lait skin and black hair should have drawn people’s attention to him, but I think I may have been the only one who really saw him.

Hello, Davey. I am Fabiop, he sent. I selected that name because it is traditional on this island. My tree is the fig, specifically Ficus citrifolia. There are four dryads on this island. I am the only one who is awake. But we are the brothers of the dryads you know and those you will meet in Russia, and we are brothers of you and Jonathan, as well as your friends Alexander and Nicky.

Hello, Fabiop, I sent. I am glad to see you. I will tell the others—

I felt rather than heard his mental laugh. They already know, he sent. But thank you for your offer.

Why are you awake, and how did you know to be here? I wanted to ask, but the door opened and the Pretender entered the room. He was the last member of the Romanov Organization to arrive. Everyone stood, but he waved them to their seats before he took the left-most of three seats at the head of the table. I knew he’d been in a private meeting with Jonathan and Mr. A, and I knew what they planned to say to him. I hoped that it had worked, but couldn’t tell. His thoughts were too jumbled. I hoped that was a good sign.

A few minutes later, Jonathan and Mr. A entered. Jonathan wore a powder-blue suit, a plain white shirt, and a solid, dark blue tie. Mr. A wore a darker suit. I thought they both looked more elegant than the Romanovs in their striped pants and tailcoats.

I expected the Romanovs to stand up when Jonathan came in, but no one did. Bad sign, but Jonathan and Mr. A acted like it was no big deal. Jonathan sat at the head of the table. Mr. A sat beside Jonathan and then introduced himself.

Mr. A then said some things about family, and about trust, and some things that should have made the Romanov people proud of themselves. He was a very good speaker. I knew that Jonathan would have to become a good speaker, too, and that I would have to help him, so I tried to pay attention.

When Jonathan started talking, I saw people beginning to listen to what was going on … like they were just waking up or something.

Jonathan made it pretty clear that he was in charge, and that he had a lot of people backing him up. He didn’t actually say it, but he made sure they all remembered who all had met him at the airport in Zurich. He also made it very clear that there was one huge job ahead of all of them, and that they could join him if and only if they were willing to help take on that job.

He also acknowledged the Pretender, and claimed him as a member of the Romanov family. That had been what Mr. A and Jonathan were willing to offer for the Pretender’s support. I almost sighed my relief when I heard that.

The one thing he didn’t tell them about was that my adopted father, Alexander’s Uncle Admiral Pershing, had been recruiting and sending special forces of all kinds into Russia for two months, and that they had begun to take out the KGB.

Afterwards, Jonathan opened the meeting to questions.

"You have made it clear that you intend to claim the throne of Russia," one of the men said. "When will that happen?" The man was bald, and wore a monocle. He made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t know why. Maybe just because of the way he looked through the monocle, as if he were looking down at Jonathan.

"I do not yet know the date," Jonathan replied. "Moreover, when a date is decided, it must remain secret in order to ensure security. Those of you who are willing to commit fully to this venture will be the first to know."

"Mr. Anconia talked about family. How are you related to him?" This question came from an older woman.

I felt genuine curiosity, and a little concern, and I held my breath. This was something Jonathan and Mr. A had talked a lot about.

Jonathan surprised the Romanovs when he said, "Mr. Anconia and I have the same roles: we are heads of great families, he of Anconia, and I of Romanov. We therefore have a filial bond and a relationship that is unique."

After that, the rest of the questions were uninteresting.

I was, as they say in the gangster movies, "wearing a wire," and caught everything important. We’d send a copy to Alexander, later. At least, that’s what I thought.

I was surprised to find Alexander and Nicky waiting for us when Jonathan, Fabiop, and I reached our suite. It had only been a couple of weeks since we’d been together, but the hugs and kisses raised the level of pheromones so high I was afraid the fire suppression system would go off. Even Fabiop got hugs. He seemed both surprised and very happy.

"Davey! You left the Explorer too soon! We’ve made one carrier landing and one takeoff, and we’ll have another landing later tonight. They’re awesome!" Nicky said.

"Thank you for leaving the samovar," Alexander told Jonathan. "It will always be there for you, whenever you can visit."

Nicky handed me a large, boxy, black briefcase. "Davey, this is for you. Protect it; keep it safe; destroy it after you’ve read it; and never tell anyone where you got it," he said.

In answer to Jonathan’s question, he added, "It’s stuff about Russia that Davey needs to see and summarize for you." That seemed to satisfy Jonathan, and I realized, he trusts me. He loves me, but he trusts me, too.

"I have information, also," Fabiop said. "Information from our brothers in Russia. They are working with your soldiers. They have closed several of what they call kiddie-porn sites, and executed the operators after extracting their money. Further, they have said that some of the KGB people have fled, and that they do not know where they are. Twenty-seven, guilty of capital crimes, have been executed. Another two hundred forty, guilty of less than capital crimes, have been imprisoned awaiting trial. My brothers in Russia wonder when that might be."

We talked a bit about our schedule and plans, but left without having given Fabiop a firm date. He understood. Before Fabiop left, Jonathan invited him to visit us in Virginia. "There are some really big oak trees on the compound," he said.

Then I asked, "Can you get to Virginia? And how do you travel …?"

"After the kisses from you and the others, I think I can find you anywhere in the world. I do not know how I travel; I just do it."

He must have sensed my disappointment. "I will think on it," he said.

"Davey, this is for you, too." Nicky said after Fabiop had disappeared. He gave me something that looked like one of those ancient cell phones: like the size of a loaf of bread ancient. Okay, not quite that big.

"This is a neutrino phone. It can only communicate with our base station on the Explorer. We’re working with Bobby Bell and some of Alexander’s cousins in Montana on a better version, but it’s the best we have, now."

"This thing is heavy!" I said.

"Well," Nicky giggled, "you know that you’re carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator, don’t you? So, whatever you do, don’t cross the streams!"

Nicky and I giggled at that. Alexander and Jonathan didn’t seem to get the joke.

Chapter End Note: For information on the Vostok ice cores, see the link, below, or simply Google "petit vostok 1999."

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