Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 18

Published: 27 Jul 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

Magnetic Poles and Manic Pundits

_Global Explorer_
South Magnetic Pole
March 4, 2018

Our magnetic compasses hadn't been of much use for some time. In the Supercargo mess hall, Bobby Bell had mounted a compass vertically to show the "dip" in the magnetic field as it entered the earth, and a computer display that showed the ship's location with respect to the South Magnetic Pole.

He also had a continuous slide show that showed how the magnetic field had flipped over the aeons, and plotted N-S orientation of the field worldwide. It was a lot prettier than the illustration in most textbooks.

Jonathan Romanov's Journal
March 5, 2018

I appreciated Alexander's gift of a B757—which we kept busy shuttling kids from Russia to hospitals throughout the world—but I knew that symbolism was important, and that not only mother's arrival, but also our first "orphan return flight" must be carried on Russian airplanes.

The first planeload of children who had been taken to hospitals outside Russia was scheduled to land at the St. Petersburg airport in three days—in a Russian plane—an IL96-300.

I knew that parents would be waiting for perhaps one-third of them. But the others? They were orphans or abandoned children, thrown away by parents who no longer wanted or deserved them. These children would become my responsibility, and I didn't know what to do.

Mother sat in the corner. She was knitting, although I knew that she was paying attention to what Davey and I said.

"There are at least twenty children whose families we do not know, and who will not be met by parents when the plane lands." Davey said what we both already knew.

"I wanted to build orphanages for them. That's better than whatever they had before! But there hasn't been time. I don't know . . ."

Mother looked up from her knitting. "Jonathan, did you know that there are more than three hundred bedrooms in the Anichkov Palace? Most were given over to the servants of your ancestors. They are, however, still available. There are also quarters for more than 1,000 in the Chudov Monastery in the Kremlin, and at least 1,000 in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery which is not far from here."

"But who will care for them?" Jonathan asked, as he grasped part of what his mother said.

"It is not only the children who have been neglected," Victoria said. "But also the elderly."

"I have already spoken to the staff of the Anichkov Palace, and asked them to stock the kitchen and linen closets. They will be prepared to house and feed the twenty-two orphans.

"That delightful babushka, Izabella who brings my tea every morning, has many friends—pensioners who live in deplorable conditions in crumbling apartment buildings without hot water and consistent heat. I have offered to house five of these couples in return for their serving as surrogate grandparents—and caretakers—for the orphans. They understand all of what that means.

"We will bring in other pensioners, other grandparents, as we bring in more children. I've already talked to Mrs. Pershing. She will have a crew from Becker build a playground in that lovely park just near the palace—as soon as the ground thaws! And we're going to need schoolteachers.

"Well, do close your mouths, boys. You told me I had a job to do."

I was happy with mother's plan for more than one reason. First, and most important, she was taking on an important task and doing something that I really didn't have the time to do properly. Second, by turning one of "my properties"—the Anichkov Palace—into an orphanage, I was setting the example that I hoped the orthodox church would follow. On the other hand, we would be taking the old monasteries for orphans—whether they liked it or not.

What Mother had done was only the first step, but it was an important one, and one that seemed to resonate with the people of Russia. We didn't have to ask the Russian press to cover the landing, the surrogate grandparents' meeting with the orphans, the cavalcade to the palace, or the first meal where more than a score of orphaned children sat among the pensioners who would be caring for them.

By the time the second "orphan plane" landed, Mother was on the covers of two magazines, and being called the Babushka of Russia. It was a title freely granted, and therefore more meaningful even than her title as Grand Duchess.

The children needed big brothers and sisters. That was, in my mind, very important. And I didn't give a damn what the USA daytime television's pseudo-scientists and pseudo-doctors such as Dr. Ox, or whatever, said. So, with the help of the dryads, we created a program. Older children would be big brothers and sisters to younger ones. They would be supervised—and protected—by dryads. As soon as the plans were finalized, Leonid brought in a dozen new dryads, boys who had not until this moment awakened.

Davey Jones's Journal
March 6, 2018

The call came from a man I knew to be a Colonel in the US Marine Corps, although he identified himself only by his last name. "Sir? Please tell me what to do with a semi-trailer full of Bibles?"

I didn't ask how he had discovered the contents; more dryads had wakened, and had attached themselves as cadets to our forces. "Please confiscate them; store them somewhere; send one here by courier; and try to find out where they came from."

I was able to figure out instantly where the bibles had come from: the Universal Fundamentalist Church in America. I flipped through, and found some of the passages they had rewritten. The whore who sheltered Jacob's spies was no longer a whore, but an "innkeeper." Jesus didn't turn water into wine; he turned water into punch. Punch? Really? Really. There were others, but I recognized it. One of my fosters had been members of the UFC, and I'd been exposed to their indoctrination before I rebelled—and was sent to another set of fosters.

I took what I knew to Jonathan, and explained. "We have another enemy."

_Global Explorer_
120 E, 65 S
March 7, 2018

We were conducting flight operations: helicopters shuttling kids and teachers to the Russian Vostok station, when the cadet on the comms position spoke.

"Sir? There's a German aircraft carrier about 300 miles to the east. They're hailing us on NATO frequencies. They want to land a . . . an ILA Tur Eggebek with a passenger for us? I don't know what that is."

"Scheisse!" Ludwig, one of our German Sea Cadets, said. "It's a fighter; two-seater and really heavy. I didn't know it was carrier capable. Uh, sorry." He was apologizing for saying shit.

Captain Izzard and I exchanged looks. He shrugged. That meant it was my call.

"Let the flight deck crew know. As soon as they're ready, clear the Germans to land. But ask Mr. Casey to be there. He'll understand. And Ludwig, don't worry about saying shit. And please come with me to meet the plane. I suspect that the only German I know, besides shit, isn't going to be enough."

That got a giggle from Ludwig, more giggles from the other Sea Cadets, and a smile from the captain.

"Hans," I said. "You certainly know how to make an entrance." The German fighter-trainer was surrounded by kids anxious to see it. As soon as we'd received confirmation that they were good guys, Mr. Casey's team had withdrawn, and allowed the kids to pester the pilot. Hans Bleiber wore a fighter pilot's pressure suit and was getting nearly as much attention as the plane.

After Hans had been shown to his quarters and had an opportunity to change, Nicky brought him to the conference room.

"Sir, I almost didn't come, after hearing the announcement about the hydrogen power plant. That will make all our work obsolete. Why are you wasting money on hydrogen power, when Luna Fire will provide all that is needed and at nearly no cost?" the boy asked.

"Hans, you are not only a well-educated boy, you are a smart boy. Why might we be funding both space exploration and alternate energy sources?"

Hans thought for a moment. I watched his eyes as he received and understood a new paradigm.

"The objective of Lunar Fire is space exploration, not energy. You have already solved the energy problem," he said.

"Anything else?" I asked.

"Yes. No. Yes, actually. The microwave transmission of energy will be important to getting power to remote parts of the world. It will be cheaper than stringing high-tension power lines."

"You are correct," I said.

_Global Explorer_
62 S 90 E
March 9, 2018 @ 2000 hours

We were in the Alma-Ata Asia time zone, and the 12-hour difference between us and the schools in Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska meant the video conference would be live at 10:00 PM Explorer time. We were about as far south as we could be and still hit an ANMARSAT, this one located over the Indian Ocean.

After listening to the kids from three schools cheer their sports teams, I turned our microphone over to Cadet Jorgensen, who presented an overview of the Explorer, and then a slide show of the Russian Vostok station.

Russia didn't play well in the USA Midwest. Omaha, especially, had been home to the Strategic Air Command and, after the official end of the Cold War, the command responsible for all US nuclear weapons.

The first questioner's voice was belligerent. "How come you didn't go to the USA stations?"

"Actually, we did. The USA has five permanent stations. We visited two of them." I put up a few slides.

Then, one of the kids from Texas had a question about the latest diatribe from the UFC.

"How can you say that people have changed the climate? Reverend Fallmuth says that that's hu . . . hubris, and that we can't be that powerful."

That was a question for me. "That's a good question," I said. "Earth is huge; we are small. How could we affect Earth?

"The first part of the answer has to do with climate sensitivity to things that cause change. It's been shown over and over again that average global temperature is very sensitive to the amount of greenhouse gasses, especially carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere.

"We know based on the work of many different scientists in many parts of the world, that CO2 has gone up.

"We also know that the chemical and radioactive signatures of carbon from burning fossil fuels are different from carbon from natural processes like rotting vegetation and burning wood—even from volcanoes. We can tell for sure how much of the carbon in the atmosphere has been added from burning coal, oil, and natural gas."

I'm not sure I convinced the kid, but maybe some of the seeds I'd planted would grow. Great oaks from little acorns, I thought.

It didn't take any time for a "talk radio" station in Dallas to pick up on what I'd said, and put their own spin on it.

"This isn't the first time he's challenged the Word of God," the host said. "Don't forget God's warning when He said, Look on my works ye mighty, and despair. Let's hear from some callers."

"Anconia's mighty close to anaconda. That's a snake like what tempted Eve. It ain't even a Christian name."

"Don't forget vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. It says that in Deuteronomy. The Lord will strike down those who mock Him."

"Ain't they got a Nazi on that ship, now?"

"It ain't Deuteronomy—the vengeance thing. It's First Samuel."

"Ben Gazi. They're covering up . . ."

"No, it's in Romans where it says God will take revenge."

The argument on Biblical authority continued. The only thing they could agree on was that there were a lot of places that said their god would strike us down.

Actually, it's all of those references, I thought. But it's not about that, it's about what these people's ignorance represents.

@sciencetruthnolies: idiot dallas radio host doesn't know difference between bible and shelleys ozymandias

After reading that, I cornered Nicky. It wasn't hard. He had been in the conference room but kept out of range of the camera.

"Nicky? There's something about this Fallmuth that bothers me. It seems as if he were targeting us, specifically. He's never mentioned the Explorer or Anconia, but . . .

"Is there some way to correlate what he's saying with our press releases and scientific papers? To see if he's deliberately working against us?

"Can't say about the deliberately part," Nicky said. "That would require being close enough to read him. But I can ask Francesca to do a keyword search and a scan of the darknet that might help."

Ensign Davey Jones's Journal
Winter Palace, St. Petersburg
March 9, 2018

"Davey? I'm worried about Mother," Jonathan said. "Her safety. She's determined to go out in public, to recruit helpers and teachers. But we still have enemies out there."

"Sounds like a job for a dryad," I said.

With the thought, Leonid joined us. Jaf had become accustomed to Leonid "popping" in, and was quick to run to him for a hug.

Leonid knew what I was going to ask. "There are now 38 dryads awake in Russia," he said. "They are already—how you say it? _taking turns—_guarding our Babushka between their other duties. Maybe she should meet them?"

That was easier done than said, actually. Jonathan met privately with his mother, told her about the dryads, and introduced her to Leonid.

"What a lovely child. How old are you, Leonid?"

"I have been awake for fifteen years," he said.

Leonid brought more dryads to St. Petersburg, and the oaks in the park next to the Winter Palace began to flourish.

Спартак, which in English was Spartak and in Russian, spahrTAHK, plus seven plainclothes security people, and the Grand Duchess had arrived in Moscow. (She was actually the Dowager Grand Duchess, but there weren't many people who were willing to call her that.) She was dressed plainly, but wore the name Viktoria with its Russian spelling, like a crown.

Jaf had been cooped up in the Winter Palace, and asked if he might go along, so he was on the train. Of course, that meant Leonid was there, too.

If a human being could spit fire, Viktoria would have done so. As soon as she grasped the scene, she called Jonathan on her November phone.

"Jonathan, this is an emergency. There are at least three hundred orphans living in a gymnasium—no, not a middle school—a large room with no beds, limited toilet facilities, and little to eat. There are a few people here who are trying to help, but it's not enough. I had intended only to evaluate shelters, but this requires immediate action. We are on the way to the Chudov Monastery. It's in the Kremlin complex. I think I can handle this, but I want you to know."

"Spartak? What is wrong?" Viktoria put the N-phone in her purse, and then felt the boy's forehead: warm. But his face is pale.

"I do not know, my Babushka," Spartak said. "I feel weak. I will summon another . . ."

"There is no need," Viktoria said. "You will rest."

"Here, here is water," Jaf said.

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