Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 14

Published: 20 Jul 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

The Taking of Russia 1 2 3

Jonathan's Journal, Anconia Compound, Montana, February 17, 2018

"When this unfolds, it will unfold quickly," Mr. A had said. I knew what he meant. He and I were briefed at least once a day, sometimes more often, on the progress of our mercenary forces in Russia. They were working quickly toward multiple goals, and were getting close.

I had said goodbye to Mother and flown with Mr. A, Davey, and a handful of the Romanov people–including Davey's new friend, Jaf and Jaf's father–to Montana, to prepare for a fast flight to Russia.

The Pretender had accepted his role and, in fact, was turning out to be a significant asset. Davey found him to be an excellent sounding board against which to toss some of the information in Aunt E's CIA document. Of course, Davey couldn't say where he was getting his information.

The mole, Count Von B, was with us, as well. There was still a cabal of former KGB people somewhere. He reported to them and they were still directing resistance in Russia. Until we found them, we needed the count. We hoped to be able to monitor him more closely in Russia–tracing his comm links and accumulating evidence against him. At least, that was the plan.

Global Explorer, Jimmy's Stateroom, February 18, 2018, @ 1900 Hours

Jimmy rolled to answer the knock on the door to his quarters. Bobby stood, waiting.

"Jimmy, I'm–"

"Bobby, I'm–"

"You first."

"No, you first." Jimmy said. Bobby knew Jimmy had the right to demand that.

"Jimmy?" Bobby said. "I'm a coward. The first time you kissed me and said you hoped it might mean something more, I chickened out. I ran away. That night, I dreamed about you–and me–and what that kiss might mean. I, uh," Bobby blushed. "I had a wet dream. You know …"

Jimmy's laugh was happy, and it made Bobby feel happy, too.

"Me, too!" Jimmy said.

"Jimmy, I'm sorry. You gave me more than a kiss. You gave me your trust, and I … I uh, couldn't deal with that."

Jimmy's mouth opened. "Uh, I didn't think of it that way. I mean, I don't care if you told people I was gay and that I kissed you. I live with a lot worse than that."

"That's not what I meant," Bobby said, softly. "You trusted me to see you naked and to hold you."

"And the kiss?" Jimmy asked, understanding what Bobby meant.

"That, too, but like you said, you live with worse than that. Aren't you afraid that, well, I might take advantage of you? That I'm looking for something, you know, kinky?"

"Kinky sex with a crippled kid? It's not like I have two penises, or something."

"Well, actually, given how big you are …" Bobby blushed, and couldn't complete the sentence.

"It's not nice to tease the crippled kid," Jimmy said, and giggled.

"Not teasing," Bobby said. Then, he asked, "Is this the time to find out?"

"You mean if everything works?" Jimmy said.

Bobby blushed again; Jimmy giggled; and both knew it would be okay.

Bobby dried Jimmy and then sprinkled powder–cornstarch, actually, although it was scented and packaged as body powder–on Jimmy, and rubbed the powder around the boy's toes, legs, crotch … at which Jimmy's penis proved that "everything worked" by rising to a solid seven-inch height.

"See?" Bobby said. "You're ginormous!"

"Um, I can feel it, and I can feel what you're doing, but–like this?–I really can't see it," Jimmy said.

Bobby helped Jimmy scoot up against the headboard, allowing him to see what was happening.

"When you dreamed, what did you dream about?" Jimmy asked.

"Um, you know," Bobby said. "You and me … having sex?"

"Bobby, I don't know about that, really, except what I've found on the internet," Jimmy said. He blushed, and his penis softened noticeably.

"You … you've never …" Bobby said.

Jimmy blushed. "Actually? No. But I know it's what I want! Please, Bobby?"

Bobby lay beside Jimmy, and cuddled his body against the other boy's. He bent down his head, and kissed Jimmy. Then, he leaned back and said, "Jimmy? I don't know what you saw. Please forget that, though. That's porn. It's not real. This … this is what is real."

Bobby moved his kiss from Jimmy's lips to his chest, and then to his penis. Jimmy sighed softly and then gasped when Bobby's lips encircled the head of his penis and dropped … only about half-way down. Bobby pulled back, lifted his head, and grinned at Jimmy. "We're going to have to work on this, you know."

"You mean the ginormous part? Am I really that big?" Jimmy asked. He blushed.

"Better believe it!" Bobby replied.

Jimmy's blush only got brighter.

Jimmy's arms were strong, and when Bobby paused to kiss the younger boy, Jimmy pulled Bobby tightly to him. Both boys were so close that their orgasms exploded between them.

Jimmy and Bobby cuddled while their penises softened and their seed dried into crusty patches.

"We need to clean up," Bobby said.

"Is it always this messy?" Jimmy asked.

"Not always, but that's something we're going to have to talk about," Bobby said. "And work on."

Global Explorer 60 W, 60 S, February 20, 2018, @ 0700 Atlantic Time Zone

The message came over an encrypted circuit from Francesca. Even so, it was cryptic. "Put the television signal from ANMARSAT-W on your screen." ANMARSAT-W was the Anconia Maritime Satellite in synchronous orbit roughly over Venezuela. It was mostly used for point-to-point communication between ships and shore stations, and between people with satellite phones in under-developed parts of the world. We were so far south that we could barely see the satellite, but we did get a usable signal.

The signal had been relayed from a Russian television satellite through a British television satellite through our satellite. Since it was all digital, the picture and sound were pretty clear. I summoned the press pool and a few others to join me in the conference room. They arrived in time to see a flag with the emblem of the Romanovs rise over the Kremlin.

"Oh my god!" Ms. Munford said. "This is the beginning, isn't it?" She looked at me.

"Ms. Munford, I didn't expect this," I said. "But I think you are right. There's no reason to do this, and certainly no reason to broadcast it, unless he plans to follow through."

I didn't have to say who "he" was. We all knew.

"What the hell … sorry, what the heck can we say about this?" She asked. She looked at the other two in the press pool when she said that, as if daring them to send anything that she, personally hadn't cleared.

"Ms. Munford, I really don't know," I said. "I agree with your assessment: there's no reason for Mr. Romanov's people to seize the satellites and broadcast this unless they intend to follow through."

Actually, I knew what was planned, and what I was supposed to say.

"And, you may quote me on that."

Ms. Munford and her colleagues were happy to have that exclusive, and had no more questions. I left them in the conference room, where they were able to plug their laptops and cameras into internet ports. Bobby told me later that I'd gotten a lot of play on USA television networks.

The feed from Russia had stopped at 2:30 PM Moscow time. Perfect timing to get comments and news on British, US, Canadian and Australian television stations.

Also, plenty of time for our mysterious ally, as well. Francesca relayed his latest, which beat even our press pool:

"&sciencetruthnolies: it won't be long now

There was no question in our minds what he meant.

The news from Russia nearly overshadowed Captain Izzard's announcement that the Explorer had crossed the Antarctic Circle. His news was completely eclipsed by my announcement that in two days we'd begin shuttling anyone who wanted to go, on helos, to the Vinson Massif and the Bentley Subglacial Trench–the highest and lowest points, respectively, on Antarctica.

"Even though it's summer, and we'll have 24-hours of daylight, it's not bathing-suit weather: the temperature this morning was 20 degrees below zero."

Private Residence, Georgetown, DC February 20, 2018, @ 6:10 AM, Eastern Time Zone

"What does this mean? What–"

The words of the talking head on the local television station cut off the Bishop's question. The question was rhetorical, anyway: the Bishop was alone in his study. The feed switched to the Global Explorer, and the head became that of Ms. Munford.

" … directly quoting Commander Alexander Anconia, ‘ … there's no reason for Mr. Romanov's people to seize the satellites and broadcast this unless they intend to follow through.'

"Commander Anconia is the Mission Commander of the Global Explorer, a ship on which Mr. Jonathan Romanov spent a year as a member of the science team, after working and studying at the Anconia University, in Montana."

The Bishop shut off the television and picked up the telephone. The question of what this news would mean to his plans for Russia did not stop him from scheduling a breakfast meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel–a breakfast that would be paid for by the church, of course.

The White House, February 20, 2018, @ 8:30 AM Eastern

The president had refused to be rushed. He took a secure telephone call from Francisco Anconia, spoke briefly with his National Security Advisor, enjoyed breakfast with his wife, and then strolled into the East Wing press briefing room.

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I gather you've seen the broadcast from Russia and have heard Commander Alexander Anconia's words? Mrs. Thomas?" He acknowledged the doyen of the press corps.

"Good morning, Mr. President. Do you agree with Commander Anconia's assessment?"

"To the point, as always, Helen. Yes, I do. Commander Anconia worked with Mr. Romanov for nearly two years and may know him better than anyone. I agree with his assessment. Mr. Romanov will claim the throne of Russia, and fairly soon I would imagine."

Ms. Thomas didn't take advantage of her prerogative to close the press conference, but watched quietly as her colleagues made fools of themselves by challenging the president.

Four Seasons Hotel, Georgetown, DC, February 20, 2018, @ 9:00 AM, Eastern Time Zone

The maître de of the Four Seasons served the table, himself. He knew to bring the mimosas in tumblers rather than champagne flutes. These men were very good and very generous customers.

"What does it mean?" the Bishop asked after they'd been served.

"Just what the Anconia boy said: Romanov is going to try to take over the country."

"I know that!" the Bishop said, and then lowered his voice. "I know that. What I want to know is if he will be successful and either way, how it will affect our deal with the Russians."

Rump KGB, Ulyanovsk, Russia, February 20, 2018, @ 3:00 PM

"It has begun," one of the men said.

"It began in Geneva nearly two months ago." The man who spoke slammed his hand onto the table. The table shook, and vodka slopped over the rims of several shot glasses.

"What should we do–"

"It's not what we should do," the angry man spoke again. "It's what we can do. And that's damn little. Many of our people are missing, either dead or fled. We still do not know where Colonel Ulinov is. More than 400 are still in prison, while their appeals are stalled. Some are being executed every day. Moscow is full of men we know to be military of the Americans, British, Canadian, and Australian forces. They wear uniforms without insignia, and appear to be mercenaries, but they are agents of their governments–and of Anconia.

"It is they who have imprisoned–and almost certainly killed–our people. Their ability to locate them is suspicious. There are obviously traitors in our midst."

"Why have we escaped?"

The angry man had stood and was pacing about the room. He strode to the window, and stared at the landscape of concrete, of low buildings, of piles of slag, of ponds filled with spent uranium fuel rods from the reactor by the river. It was a barren landscape: no grass, no bushes, and no trees.

The man turned back to the room. "I do not know," he said.

Ensign Davey Jones's Journal, Airborne, February 20, 2018, @ 4:30 PM USA Mountain Time

The date depended on when our forces–members of special units from four allied countries–could seize the Kremlin. Once that happened, the clock started. We could not wait more than one day after that, lest the Presidential Guard regroup and counterattack. The "longest pole in the tent," as Mr. A said, was the flight to Russia. We had discussed staging Jonathan and his support people in England, Finland, and other places, but before those plans could be put in place, it happened.

The moment we saw the takeover of the Kremlin, Mr. A set our departure time for a mid-afternoon arrival in Russia. Jonathan had given to Mr. A the responsibility and authority for this next move, knowing that the schedule could not be determined in advance.

Global Explorer, February 21, 2018, @ 0600 Eastern Time Zone and St. Petersburg, Russia, February 21, 2018 @ 2:00 PM

The lines of longitude that marked time zones had gotten closer together as we moved south: got to multiply by the cosine of the latitude. I thought. The farther west we sailed, the earlier I had to wake up. At least, that's what I thought as Nicky and I stumbled into the conference room at 0545. We were moving through time zones fast enough that our body clocks were hard-pressed to adjust. Speaking of "press," the press team cut it closer than we did, but were in place at 0600 when the TV screens came to life.

The main screen showed Jonathan facing a battery of microphones, and with a huge, beautiful building behind him. The camera angle got wider, and we could see a few members of the Romanov Organization as well as what were probably security people. Nicky nudged me. Davey, he sent. Just to Jonathan's left. I nodded.

I knew what Jonathan was going to say. At least, I thought I did. There were two surprises in the speech in which he claimed the throne of Russia. The first brought tears to my eyes. Jonathan said that the Anconia family was his family, and that therefore we and the people of Russia were family. That had to be a calculated political risk, but I was sure he had talked it over with Dad and Uncle Ambassador Luce. Calculated or not, it meant that I would be able to see Jonathan–and Davey, again. As much as I loved Nicky, and as much as he loved me, I knew we both wanted that.

The second surprise was when Jonathan dropped the hint that Russia would soon not be dependent on coal, gas, and oil. His words were that the country would depend "for some time" on fossil fuels and that children would be taught the technology to eliminate that dependency. Another calculated statement. I think I was the only one to catch it. Certainly, our sleepy press pool didn't!

As soon as Jonathan ended his speech, our main screen switched to the East Room of the White House. Other screens showed people I now knew were the British, Canadian, and Australian Foreign Ministers, and one I recognized as the UN Sec Gen. The only sound came from the White House, but I knew that they all were saying pretty much the same thing: their governments recognized Jonathan as the ruler of Russia, and extended diplomatic recognition to his government.

There were probably only a few people who knew the significance of this date. It was on February 21, on the old, pre-Gregorian calendar that the first Romanov, Michael, grandson of the brother of Ivan the Terrible, was elected Tsar. There are few who remember that Michael I's grandfather, Nikita, was also the brother of Tsarina Anastasia Romanov, the first of eight wives of Ivan.

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