Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 21

Published: 3 Aug 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

Baba Yaga and the Giant Turnip

The 225 ex-KGB parolees plus their guards occupied twenty barracks at the Kubinka Air Base, west of Moscow. We chose that location because both a chain-link fence and trees surrounded it—and the trees housed dryads—dryads who were awakening.

"Set a thief to catch a thief" was an aphorism, but one which seemed to have a kernel of truth. The first task of the "shadow men" was to protect the borders. We did not want contraband such as drugs and weapons coming into the country; we didn't want the treasures of Russia leaving the country. Most especially, we did not want children being removed.

The first two of the paroled KGB operatives who tried to escape were captured at the border with Finland. We let them get that far so that there would be no question of their guilt. We made sure the others knew of these men's trial and sentencing—their original sentences plus five years for attempting escape. During the next two weeks, three more escape attempts were made, with the same results. After that, the others buckled down and performed their tasks.

Anconia Compound, Virginia
March 14, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

"Uncle Frank? A bill to prohibit hydrogen fusion plants in this country is on the fax to you. It will be introduced in the House and the Senate this morning at 9:00 AM. I've set an early press conference for you."

"Thank you, Tom."

"Whose chain are you and Tom pulling, today?" Mrs. Anconia mumbled sleepily.

"Just the US Congress," Francisco said. "I'm sorry you were wakened. I'll tell you in the morning."

Anconia Compound, Virginia
March 14, 2018 @ 7:00 AM

The audio and video from Francisco Anconia's office in Fairfax, Virginia were sent to four cable news networks as well as the headquarters station of the two remaining broadcast networks. All six networks carried it on their early morning news shows.

"The hydrogen fusion power plants in Nunavut and in the Navajo Nation have been joined by two on Anconia properties in Virginia and Montana. We have taken those properties off the grid, and will provide all their electrical power requirements. In the near future, we will be offering to sell power—at much lower costs than people are presently paying—to the grid."

That was the gist and the entirety of Francisco Anconia's 7:00 announcement. Francisco and Tom Pershing, the family's uber-lawyer, were the only ones who understood the import and the reason for making the announcement at that time.

The Oval Office, the White House
March 14, 2018 @ 2:00 PM

"Folks, I'm a soldier and a history teacher, and not a lawyer. But I'm smart enough to understand the Constitution of the United States when it says in Article 1 Section 9 that no ex post facto law shall be passed. What that means is that the Congress cannot make illegal after the fact something that was legal when it was done.

"The hydrogen fusion power plants in the Navajo Nation, Montana, and Virginia were not illegal when they were built; Congress cannot make them illegal, now—after the fact. I hereby veto this bill, and order all federal agencies to stand down, and to disregard any warrants that may have been issued to search, seize, or otherwise interfere with these power plants.

"For those in Congress who may have been misled in this instance, I remind you of the EPA regulations issued over the past decade or so restricting carbon emissions. They were created during a Democrat administration, and with only token criticism but no Congressional action from Republicans. You wanted clean energy, now you've got it."

Russell Senate Office Building
March 14, 2018 @ 2:10 PM

"He's hung himself, especially since Anconia announced the reactor upwind of Washington. When it explodes, it'll kill millions, and wipe out the nation's capital. At least, that will be our message." Senator Randolph sipped the bourbon his political advisor had poured for him.

"They played right into your hand, sir," the aide said. "Your announcement condemning the president and his veto will be released to the press in an hour. Don't want to do it too quickly, or people might catch on that it was your plan. There's no way he can be re-elected, now."

Too bad they're too stupid to know that was our strategy all along, the Senator and his advisor both thought.

"You might as well invite them in," Senator Randolph said.

The camarilla walked in: Senator McDonald; Senator Zinio of Wyoming, wearing his trademark cowboy boots; Senators Able and Jefferson of Arizona; Representative Peligrini of California, who had managed to work her way back into Randolph's graces; and the also-rans, the horse-holders who had sponsored the anti-nuclear-fission bill, including Senator Chambers of Georgia.

Their uncertainty was obvious in their mumbled greetings.

"Folks? Let's not think of this as a defeat, but as Lenin pointed out, the creation of a chaotic situation in which the strong find opportunity. This is but one small battle in a larger war. The president has fired a shot across our bow—"

"Will you stop your campaign speech," Senator Zinio said. "What we need is a plan for the next step," he added.

That only partially mollified Senator Randolph, and he tucked a note in the back of his mind to watch Zinio a little more closely.

"Can you muster the votes in the Senate to override the veto?" Representative Peligrini asked. "The House is problematic, but if it's important, I can call in some favors. I'll need some assurances from the Senate on the California-Nevada Water Rights Bill, though."

Bitch, Randolph thought, not for the first time. Stupid bitch, he added. Wants the federal government to re-write fifty-year-old Lake Meade water distribution contracts in favor of her state.

"Ernest? What do you think?" Senator Randolph deliberately ignored Peligrini, and addressed the senior senator from Georgia.

"I think we need to sit back and think for a few minutes, and not let our hormones run away with this. It may be that the president's veto plays right into our hands."

Peligrini may have been a bitch, but she wasn't a stupid bitch. He's right, she thought, and that was Randolph's plan from the beginning. That bastard!

While the camarilla debated, Randolph's press release hit the media, and talk radio lit up.

"They're going to blow up Virginia and take out the National Capitol . . ."

"Ben Gazi. They keep trying to cover up Ben Gazi . . ."

"Where was the government? Where was the government in all this?"

"What did the President know, and when did he know it?"

"This is not real. Whatever it is, this is not real."

"Anconia is the Antichrist . . . Reverend Fallmuth said so."

Winter Palace
Jonathan's Journal
March 15, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

Jaf's father woke early each day and had waiting for me a summary of world news he thought important. I was reminded of the part of Gulliver's Travels that described bureaucratic "flappers," who would cover the ruler's ears when they didn't think he should hear something, and cover his mouth when they didn't think he should speak.

Mr. Achterberg, himself, was the one who reminded me of that. He told me the story, and seemed surprised that a boy reared and educated in the USA would know it.

"Your school system has removed the classics that are the foundation of Western Civilization, and replaced them with politically correct pap by more recent authors," he said.

"I know," I answered. "One summer, I served as a volunteer in a homeless shelter, reading stories to children. I found none who knew any of Aesop's fables—including the most famous, 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf.'

"Mr. Achtenberg, you've just opened a can of worms! We will have to examine the Russian school system, and ensure that Baba Yaga, Vasilissa, Father Frost, the Frog Princess, and by all means, the Giant Turnip—as well as Aesop—are read and discussed!"

On this morning, at the top of the list, was the revelation of hydrogen fusion. I was reading the details when Davey came in, followed by Leonid and Jaf. I smiled. They were my friends, and my most trusted staff, and I felt comfortable and happy in their company.

"We got a call from Mr. A earlier," Jaf said. "But he said not to wake you; this morning would be soon enough."

"He was right," I said. "But maybe we should call him, now." I picked up my N-Phone and pressed Mr. A's number.

"A brilliant strategy, sir," I said. I understood from Mr. Achtenberg's notes, the reason for the timing of the announcement.

He thanked me, and I told him that we would soon be ready for the delivery of the first hydrogen fusion core for the first Russian hydrogen plant. Then I terminated the call.

"Leonid? What's wrong? You look as if you were going to throw up?" Jaf said.

"Just a little dizzy," Leonid said. "I'm okay, now."

"Leonid? I know your tree is thousands of miles away," I began. "Can you not move—"

"He already has," Jaf guessed my question. "He's now living in an oak in the park west of the palace."

"You get your nourishment from your tree, do you not? Are you also eating with Jaf?"

That brought a flush to both Leonid and Jaf, and a chuckle from Davey.

"That's not what I meant, and you both know it," I said. "This is serious. We know so little about the dryads. Jaf, this isn't the first time we've seen Leonid in distress. Jaf? Send an email to both Alexander and Mr. Anconia and ask if they have any ideas.

"Leonid? May I have a doctor examine you?"

Jaf acknowledged my order, and Leonid agreed to a physical exam.

_Global Explorer_
March 16, 2018
Alexander Anconia's Log

Davey sent us a video of Jonathan's meeting with the Russian Orthodox Church leaders. It came over the November circuit, which Bobby and my cousins in Montana had expanded to include some really high-speed internet for us. I was sure glad that Nicky had figured out how to reconstitute the strange matter in real time, else we'd have used it up in the first few seconds.

"That was awesome!" Nicky said when the picture faded to black."

"On the other hand, he may have made a powerful enemy," I said. "We may need to help Jonathan."

UFC Leadership
Café du Monde, Georgetown, DC
March 17, 2018

"The best of all possible news," Elder #1 said. "The new boy-tsar has taken on the Russian Orthodox Church."

"What does that mean, taken on," the Bishop demanded. "Where the hell is the waiter?"

"It means that he has demanded that they return to the 14th century, wear woolen robes and sandals, and give up their riches to support his goals," Elder #1 said. "At least, that's what it seems from the television reports intercepted in Finland."

"Have we heard anything directly?" the Bishop demanded. He turned to the waitperson. "Another bourbon. This time, neat. That means without ice or anything else, comprende?"

"Yes, sir."

"No, sir. But he has pulled their teeth and claws, opening Russia to us."

"If we can get in. When are our missionaries scheduled to arrive?"

"They will fly from Helsinki to Moscow on April 10th."

_Global Explorer_
15 W, 66 S
March 17, 2018

Sometimes it was hard for me to remember that I was on the Explorer circumnavigating Antarctica. The message from Germany quickly brought me back to reality.

The Germans sent an invitation to visit Neumayer, their research station at the edge of Queen Maud Land. As soon as I asked Hans if he'd like to lead the planning, I could read his excitement and pride at an opportunity to show what his country was doing.

"You know you're going to have to fly in a helo, don't you? No jet fighters on the Explorer." Hans furrowed his brow and compressed his lips. "No!" I said. "Whatever you're thinking, no."

Hans grinned. "American helicopters are very cool. But I shall not need my flight suit I think."

The Neumayer Station was built in 2009, and looks like a cruise ship on stilts above the snow. A wind farm provides all electric power, although the three original diesel generators remain for emergency power and when the wind doesn't blow. Which isn't often. Our kids were able to get a glimpse of what was in store for them from the webcam atop the radar dome.

One of the station's principal missions is seismic monitoring, and Hans was proud to be named to coordinate their mission with our plans for seismic tests along the Antarctic plate.

Anconia Compound, Virginia
March 17, 2018
Francisco Anconia's Journal

Todd's veto of the "anti-hydrogen-fusion" bill and his instructions to federal agencies didn't affect either the courts or the states. Such was the separation of powers within the federal government, and between the federal government and the states. I had taught Alexander that it was immoral to buy Senators and Representatives, and we'd watched together an old movie, "Born Yesterday" with Judy Holiday and Broderick Crawford, which put a seriocomic spin on that idea. The movie was more than 60 years old, but its message was timeless.

Although I refused to buy congresspersons, I had no hesitation to buy lawyers—and armed guards.

The first showdown was at the gate of the Virginia compound, when the Louden County sheriff showed up with a search warrant.

"Hello, Mr. Pershing," the sheriff greeted Tom.

Tom looked past the sheriff where three TV vans had parked. Two of them had parabolic microphones pointed toward the two men. Tom decided to play it safe and straight.

"Good morning, Sheriff," Tom said. He held out his hand, not to be shaken by his friend, but to accept the warrant. "May I read this through?"

"Of course."

Tom was a speed-reader, but he was also a smart lawyer, and read slowly. He was on Page 25 when the cavalry arrived. Actually, it was a Federal Marshall in a bronze F-150 pickup truck with an integrated light bar with four colors of lights, and a forest of antennas on the roof of the cab.

"Good morning, Sheriff. Got an order from federal court for you."

"Let me guess. It's a cease and desist order not to serve the search warrant from the county court."

"Yes, sir. Here's a copy for you, Mr. Pershing."

The US Marshall's arrival put a stop to the first warrant, but it was the kids of Anconia, which now numbered in the tens of thousands—many of whom were not children of Anconia employees, but who identified with our goals—who put a stop to any further warrants. As soon as Francesca put a video and explanation on the internet, the Virginia Attorney General, Governor, Congressional Delegation, and every TV station and newspaper in the state were bombarded with emails, tweets, and in some cases, hand-delivered hard copy letters demanding that they uphold clean energy and listen to science rather than scare-tactics. A month later, Virginia had passed the first "Pro-Hydrogen Power" law in the nation.

It was a lot simpler in Montana: the people there were already pretty damn independent and very reluctant to accept crap from the central government. The county sheriff refused to serve the warrant that was faxed to him, and that was it. End of story.

While the Luddites (and special interests, including the UFC) in Virginia and Montana may have been stopped, the Universal Fundamentalist Church was still solidly against us. Whether in response or simply as part of their strategy, they directed a darknet message to the UFC in Gallup.

Chapter End Note: For an image of Neumayer, check the link, below or Google "Neumayer station." The station also sends real-time seismic and geomagnetic data to the internet.

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