Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 8

Published: 9 Jul 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

Dryads and Dead Zones

When we realize the magnitude of the effort
that will be required to avert disaster,
we all too often discover
a vested interest in pessimism.
After all, if the situation is hopeless, why act?
Al Jazeera (paraphrased)
on attitudes toward climate change,
January 5, 2014
Earth Analogue III

Anconia Compound, Virginia, USA, Jonathan Romanov’s Journal, January 11, 2018

I thought I’d overslept, and that Davey was shaking my shoulder to wake me up. When I opened my eyes, I saw a boy with café-au-lait skin and black hair that fell in bangs over his forehead: Fabiop! At the same time, I realized that the arms around my chest and the warm body cuddled into my backside were Davey’s.

Fabiop put his finger to his lips in a universal signal to be quiet, and beckoned with his other hand for me to get up and follow him.

"No way!" I whispered. "If we’re going to talk, it’s going to be with Davey who, by the way, is about to wake up."

I thought for a moment, a very short moment, and added, "You need to get naked and get into bed with us."

Davey had had a number of lovers during his years in the foster kid system. He was fortunate—and perhaps unusual—in that they were all lovers and not rapists. I had also had several lovers—never rapists—before meeting Alexander and then Nicky and Davey. Neither Davey nor I were inexperienced nor were we virgins.

Fabiop appeared to be quite young, but had explained that he was several hundreds, perhaps thousands of years old. "I do not know, for certain. I have lived a long time, awake, but my companions and I have lived even more years asleep, waiting for something. We did not know what it was. I think, and we hope, that the something is you, Jonathan, and Alexander."

"And Davey?" I asked, while I pulled the now-naked boy dryad into the bed.

"Yes, and Davey," Fabiop said.

I was cuddled—and pressed—between two boys, either of whom would be able to entice an erection from a ghost. I was acutely aware of my erection as well as Davey’s, which was pressing into my backside.

Both Davey and I remembered the unspoken promise before Fabiop disappeared in Nassau. I ran my hands slowly over Fabiop’s chest and tummy, then down his thighs, avoiding his penis and pubic mound. Davey crawled around us, and then lay facing Fabiop. I felt their kiss, and Fabiop’s body stiffen.

I moved back, and urged Fabiop to lie on his back. With me on the boy’s right, and Davey on his left, four hands and two mouths caressed his smooth, café au lait skin and elicited gasps, whimpers, and quivers.

Davey and I sensed that Fabiop was about to reach the peak. A quick thought flashed between us. Davey dropped his mouth on Fabiop’s penis while I pressed my lips against Fabiop’s and pushed my tongue into his mouth. The boy arched his back, pulled Davey’s head down, and sucked my tongue nearly from the roots, all at the same time.

When his breathing slowed to something close to normal, Fabiop turned to kiss each of us, and then said, "It has been a long time, such a very long time. I had nearly forgotten. We have lost so many . . ."

We knew what he could not say: so many dryads had died and more died each day from deforestation, from climate change, and, perhaps, from frustration at their inability to alter what seemed to be the inevitable destruction of their species. I wondered if that same ennui were part of our human species’ seeming disregard of the facts and science of climate change.

After a shower, Fabiop talked. And Davey and I learned.

"There is a man in the Romanov Organization who is not your friend," Fabiop said. "He hides his loyalty to the evil men who once ruled Russia and who still want to do so."

"A mole!" Davey said.

Fabiop shook his head. "Not a mole, he is a man . . . "

"It means he’s underground, like a mole, hidden from sight," I explained. "Which one is it?"

"The one with the glass in his eye," Fabiop said. "He says his name is Maximilian von Bismarck, but his real name is Vasilly Putin."

"Glass in his eye? Oh, the guy with the monocle!" Davey said. "I thought there was something peculiar about him—besides the monocle, that is."

"We will tell Mr. A, and we will leave this mole in place, and use him to find his masters," I said.

Fabiop had left after promising to visit us again. There was something I felt I had to say.

"Davey? Why didn’t you say something about this guy—the mole, earlier?"

"I’m sorry, Jonathan. I tried to read everyone, but there were so many, and their thoughts were so confusing."

I felt Davey’s shame and—fright. He was afraid of me! "Davey, please do not be afraid."

"But I have failed you. I am supposed to protect you, and I failed." Tears trickled from his eyes. He stood, rigidly, as if at attention. Which looked a little silly—no, a lot silly since he was still naked.

I clasped him to me, and pressed his head onto my shoulder. "Davey? You have not failed. My question was impertinent. I should have known better than to ask it. Will you forgive me?"

I knew Davey would be okay when I felt him—and me—swell between us, and heard his giggle.

"Little Jonathan seems to have forgiven me," he said. "And Little Davey has forgiven you. I suppose I must forgive you, too."

UFC Headquarters, Washington, DC, January 12, 2018

"Sir, the submarine with the latest shipment of drugs was intercepted by the Coast Guard with the assistance of the Global Explorer," Mr. Lennox said. He cringed in anticipation of the Bishop’s reaction. He was not wrong to do so.

"What? Who let that happen? Who is responsible? Who knew?" The Bishop spit out his words—and not a little bit of saliva.

"We don’t know, sir. So far, it seems to be coincidence."

Global Explorer, Gulf of Mexico, January 12, 2018

The Sea Cadet who had asked about the Gulf "dead zone" had been right. It was there, and we found it.

It was not as big as it usually was during the summer, but it was there. A little research into weather over the North American continent gave us an explanation: the Southern Pacific Oscillation—what most people think of as the El Nino-La Nina cycle—had flipped, changing the weather patterns over most of the USA, and bringing heavy rains to the Mississippi Valley. Excess fertilizer applied the previous spring had been washed into the Mississippi drainage basin and then into the Gulf of Mexico.

Feb by nitrogen and phosphorous, phytoplankton had bloomed, encouraged by the 1.4 degree centigrade increase in water temperature in the Gulf caused by global warming. Then, having exhausted their food supply and surrounding themselves in their own waste products, they died.

"Captain Izzard? I think we need to find something for our aviators to do before they either die of boredom or get into trouble. Let’s get some samples and measure the extent of this dead zone."

The aviators were happy to have a mission, and Sea Cadets and high school students were thrilled when they were included in flight operations. I knew why Azisa had asked for samples of the surface waters. It was not the time to challenge him about that, however.

In addition to the zero-oxygen dead zone near the bottom, we picked up chemical signatures of nitrogen and phosphorous—the proof of fertilizer too liberally applied. We sent a preliminary report to the Environmental Protection Agency and Uncle Carlos—and to Francesca.

Francesca had very high bandwidth fiber optic connections to the internet; we relied on a satellite feed. Her scan of the internet caught it before we did: a short message on one of the global social networking sites:

&sciencetruthnolies: Global Explorer finds winter dead zone in golf of mexico from overfertilization

The message included a link to Francesca’s web site.

"What do you think?" I asked Francesca. We were on a 1024-bit encrypted VOIP call. The security should have been sufficient.

"He’s been an ally, so far," she said. "He could have gotten this from the EPA or the UN. The misspelling may be an error, or the work of a youngster. I kind of hope the latter. But we need to keep an eye on him."

"Agreed," I said.

Anconia Compound, Virginia, Davey’s Journal, January 13, 2018

Some of Jonathan’s relatives in the Romanov organization were struggling financially to the point that they had gone into debt to attend the convocation. Two had lost their jobs because of absence from work. They had said nothing, but I was able to find out. I sorted through their files, and made some recommendations to Jonathan, who immediately invited a select group of his Romanov cousins to join him in Virginia, and offered appropriate compensation. They would become the first of the Romanov Organization to be put on Jonathan’s payroll.

"You need a personnel director, an accountant, and a bunch of other people," I said.

"Davey is right," Mr. A said. "For the moment, I will select several of my people who will quit their jobs with Anconia Industries and take jobs with—what would you like to call it?—Romanov Enterprises? Russia, Incorporated?" He laughed.

"You have met Tom. He is Alexander’s cousin and Nicky’s brother," he said. "If you agree, Tom will set up a corporation or two in Switzerland that will hire people, handle Jonathan’s money while making sure no one knows from where it comes, write checks, and do whatever else is needed until you can reconstitute the government of Russia.

"That is," he added, and looked at Jonathan, "if you want."

"Mr. Anconia?" Jonathan said. He said Mr. Anconia and not Mr. A, so I knew this was serious. "You said once that my gift to you was that I had trusted my life and Davey’s life to you. Now, I trust the life of my people and my country to you. Will you also accept that gift?"

I had never seen tears in Mr. A’s eyes, and I wondered if Alexander had. I was pretty sure they were tears. I was equally sure they were happy tears.

Global Explorer, January 20, 2018,

We had completed our sweep of the Gulf of Mexico, and transmitted our final report on the dead zone to UNESCO and the National Science Foundation and, through Francesca’s blog, to a lot of the world. What we missed, the press team filled in. We included in our internet posts the link to a TED Talk on phosphorous fertilizer. I was pretty sure that one of the forces pushing back against progress consisted of the American plutocrats who "owned" both the Chilean government and the mines in that country.

Exposing that corruption became one more thing on my to-do list.

Our next operation was to be a tectonic examination of the border between the Caribbean and North American Plates. It would provide another opportunity to show that the missiles from the Clippers and the helos were not weapons, but strictly for science. No one seemed to understand that we could load anything we wanted in the rocket pods. Actually, that was a good thing.

I had pushed, and then insisted that the press pool people be on board one of the aircraft or helos for this operation. After experiencing a carrier takeoff and landing during their trip to the Romanov Convocation, they all opted to ride in helos.

The test was a success—not that I had ever doubted it.

"Damn, Alexander," Mrs. Munford said. "The helo pilot sure made us feel like we were part of the mission." She’d gotten to ride in the left-hand seat, and to launch some of the missiles. The two men had been in the back, wrapped in safety harnesses and hanging out the doors, videotaping as she did so.

UFC Headquarters, Washington, DC, January 20, 2018

The leadership of the UFC had converted the Lady Chapel into an office. Surrounded by stone, deep below the cathedral, it was as secure from electronic snooping and as comfortable as only their money and influence could make it.

"Monthly income rose by 17% over the Christmas holiday as we diverted people from the commercialization of the Lord’s birthday to donating to those less fortunate than they."

The leadership smiled—smugly, but inwardly—at the phrase "less fortunate" Only about 20% of the money had gone to the less fortunate. The rest had gone into their coffers.

Mr. Lennox, the UFC senior accountant, continued, "However, expenses are up by 5%, mostly because our people in the government are requiring more."

"Who is asking for more?" the Bishop said.

Mr. Lennox provided a list of Senators and Congresspersons who were facing challenges. "They are asking for less than a million dollars, each. The greatest demand is from Senator Randolph, who asks for nearly $10 million."

The three leaders whispered among themselves; then, the Bishop spoke. "Tell Senator Randolph that after he announces his candidacy we will channel funds into our PACs for television and radio commercials. He won’t be happy that he can’t divert the money to himself, but he will accept the situation. Fund the others through the account in the Channel Islands. It can’t be traced to us."

"Yes, sir."

Anconia Compound, Virginia, Ensign Davey Jones’s Journal, **January 20, 2018

"Mr. A? I’m afraid I’ve gotten in over my head," Jonathan said.

Francisco laughed. "I’ve lost count of the times I did that," he said. "What have you done?" He refrained from saying, this time.

Jonathan explained. He’d invited thirty members of the Romanov Organization to become his cadre of diplomats. "The problem is, that they’re going to lose their jobs and their homes. And they have families.

"Alexander has already paid me a lot of money for my share of hydrogen fusion, and said I could have more, but I don’t know how to spend it to help these people."

Mr. A thought for only a moment before he said, "It would be best if they all could be close to you in Virginia until you are ready to enter Russia. Since we don’t know how long it will be until that happens, they should not be here without their families. Do you agree?"

Jonathan nodded.

"Jonathan? This sounds like the first real job for your staff."

I felt Jonathan’s embarrassment at not having thought of that. I felt mine, as well. I was supposed to be helping him. I think Mr. A understood.

"Boys? I know that you are going to be overwhelmed again and again. That’s the nature of the game. As long as you keep picking yourselves up, you will learn and you will grow stronger."

Jonathan’s staff found homes for everyone in a gated condominium development a few miles from the Anconia compound. Even here, so close to the power (and money) of Washington, DC, the real estate market was soft. Jonathan’s staff bought all the empty townhouses, assured Jonathan that he would make money in the long run, and then convinced the condo association to hire Anconia Security to protect the property.

I was concerned about kids (and parents) who couldn’t speak English. Then I learned that all of them spoke at least three languages, and usually four: whatever was their native language, most often German or Spanish, plus Russian and English. And I reminded myself that I really needed to learn Russian.

Chapter End Note: &sciencetruthnolies would know that warming of the oceans&mdashone aspect of global warming&mdashhas encouraged the growth of phytoplankton in both the GX’s reality and ours. As a result, dead zones have gotten larger and lasted longer. For more on oceanic dead zones, simply Google "dead zones." For more on overuse of phosphorous, and the likely future impact on agriculture, as well as a possible solution, link to, or just Google "ted talk phosphorous."

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