Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 26

Published: 10 Aug 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

Revenge is Sweet

April 8, 2018 Sunday
Multiple Locations in North America

The flagship station of a UFC-affiliated organization located in Tupelo, Mississippi was on the Anconia watch list. The Sunday sermon they sent out to their nearly 300-station network was routinely recorded at Anconia.

"Energy cannot be created by any means which we call natural. We find in Hebrews 4:3 that The works were finished from the foundation of the world. The energy available to mankind is a fixed quantity; the amount and the terms on which God made it available to mankind were fixed and finished from the foundation of the world. Anconia Industries is violating the Law of God just as the atomic scientists of the 1940s broke the Law of God and created the atomic bomb and the terror it led to. Once again, scientists threaten the stability of God's—

The sermon cut off at that point. Technicians in Anconia facilities throughout North America spun dials or punched frequencies into their keyboards. The entire network was broadcasting only carrier waves.

Less than an hour later, we found a message on a social network site:

&sciencetruthnolies: hebrews 4 3 is poetry not science tell the truth or face the consequences

"Alexander? Whoever this is, I'm glad he's our friend."

"Me, too," I said. "What did it take to shut down a nationwide radio network?"

It was nearly two months later before the world learned the answer. Someone had hacked the flagship station's servers and not only completely wiped their hard drives, including their donor lists (!), but also changed the passwords. Their servers were so much junk after that, and the network was dead until they had replaced their entire system. The leader of the cult that ran the flagship station sounded as if he were frothing at the mouth. We imagined that we could hear spittle hitting the microphone when he damned to hell those who had tried to undo the Words of God.

"They could not have done that using comm from the ship," Bobby said. "A hack attack like that? There's no way, and I checked the logs. There was no unusual traffic anytime before or during the blackout."

Jonathan Romanov's Office
Winter Palace
April 8, 2019 @ 10:00 AM

I had been walking on the edge of a precipice after announcing the count's appointment as chancellor . . . and then carefully making sure he could not create a fifth column within my own staff. Davey and Jaf spent much of their time monitoring the count's communications. I think Leonid, also, was involved. At 9:00 AM, they burst into my office and handed me a printout.

I immediately summoned my chancellor.

"Good morning, Count." The count halted in front of my desk, clicked his heels together, and bowed.

"This message was intercepted by our security team. I would appreciate your thoughts on its meaning," I said. Davey handed the count a folder.

The count's face turned white. "I . . . I . . . this is obviously a forgery."

"I'm very much afraid it is not," I said. "It was traced carefully to the computer in your office. It was confirmed to have been sent at a time when you were alone in that office. You had used the cutout, before, and we had people waiting in the coffee shop. Your man was followed to another coffee shop. We were able to trace the address to which he forwarded the message."

The count sat, heavily. His breathing was ragged and his face was now florid.

"Count? Are you ill? Should I call a doctor?" I asked. I do want to keep you alive long enough for a trial.

"No. Please, you must understand . . ."

"Count? I cannot understand what is clearly betrayal. Since it is I and Russia who have been betrayed, it is treason, as well."

Davey picked up the narrative. "This is not the first of your messages which we have intercepted. We were waiting only to find your cutout. We expect to use this channel to identify your masters in the KGB and then arrest them, as well. Please consider yourself under arrest."

Davey removed the count's chain of office before security forces and a dryad entered, and removed the count.

That was the easy part. The hard task was going to be explaining why he had been made chancellor, and why he was no longer holding that office. Of course, we couldn't do that until after we were sure we had identified all the people at the end of his communication route.

_Global Explorer_
April 9, 2018

After New Zealand, I was a little uncertain about the first video conference with schools in Australia. Nicky had done some research that showed that the UFC was making inroads in that continent, but as far as he could tell, they hadn't penetrated the school system, yet. Almost as good, we were in the same time zone, which meant that I was able to get some coffee before the conference began.

The "local color" part of my lecture focused on the stromatolites off Australia's west coast. They provided perhaps the oldest record of life on earth. I also talked briefly about the temperature maps that Australian Met had posted, and which had required the meteorological service to create new color codes to show the higher temperatures—higher than ever in recorded history.

The questions were sharp and to the point, and there were no challenges regarding the age of the earth, or the science we presented. Wherever the UFC was going in Australia, they weren't—at least to this point—affecting the kids.

Helsinki International Airport
Vantaa, Finland
April 10, 2018

If anyone thought it unusual that passengers on the flight to Moscow included so many young adults in plain, dark clothing and with scrubbed faces, no one commented. They had seen stranger things going in and out of Russia in the past months.

Jonathan's Office
Winter Palace,
April 11, 2018

Leonid and a second boy I knew instantly to be a dryad had popped into my office, bringing Leonid's boyfriend, Jaf, with them. I raised a finger to forestall them, and finished my call to Alexander on the N-phone.

"Good morning, Jaf and Leonid," I said. "Who is our new friend?"

"This is Юрий—YOOreey—," Jaf said. "He has risked his life to find our enemies."

Jaf was rubbing the boy's wrists as if to stimulate circulation.

"Jaf? What's wrong with Yuri? For I know something is wrong," I said.

"Yuri had to leave his tree and cross a wasteland of poison in order to learn what he has to tell us," Jaf said. "I think he still feels . . . "

Jaf was ignoring me, and rightly so. I glanced at Leonid, who nodded to assure me that Yuri would be all right. After a few minutes, the color returned to Yuri's cheeks, and he and Jaf were able to tell me what Yuri had learned, and how.

"We followed the trail Jaf created. We took him to a place where others were using their computers. Jaf did things . . . I'm not sure . . ." Leonid looked at Jaf.

"They took me to an internet café. I watched the network when one of our messages was delivered. We followed the person who received it to another café, where he re-sent the message."

"That's how they were able to keep us from finding them," I said. "Smart."

"Stupid. He used the same laptop. It was easy to trace. Then, Yuri found us. We told him what we knew, and he found the server."

"The men you seek are in a building that is surrounded by a vast wasteland in which nothing can live," Yuri said.

"We have images," Jaf said. "It's in Novgorod."

Novgorod, Russia
April 12, 2018

All the Russian dryads and, I suspect, those from America as well, wanted to be part of the attack. While many of our Protectors were accustomed to working with the dryads, none were aware of their abilities. From the very beginning, they had worn uniforms and proclaimed themselves to be military cadets from a school in the Crimea that had been closed by the late premier. Uncle Admiral Pershing saw to it that they were not questioned too closely about that.

They all appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties, about the same age as many of the conscripts—later volunteers—in the Russian armed forces. It did not take long for them to be accepted by their comrades.

Their uniforms displayed only one insignia. It was never explained, and was meaningful only to them: the Russian alphabet letter, ш ("wa") with each vertical capped with a sharp point, as if it were a sword. The wa was superimposed on the outline of a tree. Only the dryads, Davey, and I knew that the wa was taken from the sailor's cap often worn by Alexei Romanov. It seemed that Davey wasn't the only one with a crush on the murdered prince.

Unknown to the Protectors, the "cadets" infiltrated the KGB headquarters building in Novgorod before the main attack, took out a few guards and sabotaged critical components of the alarm system. The Protectors' job was no walk in the park, but there were no casualties.

Hints from the dryads—the cadets—led to the discovery of a hidden store room in the basement . . . a room full of files, documents, and computer disks all the way back to eight-inch floppies. I had named Jaf's father Chancellor the instant the KGB was destroyed, and gave him and his staff the job of sorting through the files.

NSA Headquarters, Maryland
April 13, 2018, Friday

The man who had asked for the appointment was sufficiently high in the government hierarchy that Francisco Anconia had agreed to meet him. Knowing the global reach of the American National Security Agency, and their capability to help or harm—not just Anconia, but Jonathan—Francisco agreed to meet at NSA headquarters. His helicopter landed in the parking lot of a motel, once privately owned, now a government museum, just outside the main gate.

"Mr. Anconia, I'm General Hogg, Deputy Director. My boss, Admiral Entenmann and our senior civilian, Mr. Pendergrass are waiting at the headquarters building. If you'll follow me."

The general bypassed several security checkpoints as he led Francisco deeper into the building. Francisco saw copper bushings on doors that closed behind them, and knew he was inside a heavily shielded facility. After passing through the last door, he and the general walked across a bridge that spanned a gap between the outer and inner walls of the meeting room. The door closed behind them.

These people really are paranoid, Francisco thought.

The four-star director of the agency came directly to the point. "We understand that you have developed a means of communication based on neutrinos, and that it is being installed in a number of American and British attack submarines. The security of the United States demands that we have access to that device and the ability to intercept communications made on it."

"Admiral," Francisco said. "You say ‘the security of the United States demands' as if the security of the United States were a living thing, a sentient being. It is not, and it is not the security of the United States that is demanding; it is not the United States that is demanding. It is you, sir, who are demanding. The answer is no."

"Mr. Anconia," the civilian said. "I don't think you understand. We have the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act courts. At the moment, we are asking. Within an hour, we can have court orders—"

"You are not asking, sir, you are demanding. I thought I had made that clear," Francisco said.

"I'm sorry. I misspoke," the admiral said. "We are not demanding; we are requesting."

"The answer is still no," Francisco replied.

"Then you leave us no recourse but to obtain court orders and warrants," General Hogg said.

"Your FISA court warrants are valid only against foreign agents. They are not valid against citizens of the USA. One could argue that as a multi-national corporation, Anconia Industries is a foreign agent. Still, you must under the fourth amendment to the constitution have prima facia evidence of wrongdoing. You don't have a hope in hades of getting that."

"Mr. Anconia, I don't think you quite understand your situation. There are skeletons in every closet. We can, for example, make sure that the records of what your sister, Elizabeth, did for the CIA are utterly obliterated."

Francisco nodded. The men smiled, inwardly and secretly, until he spoke.

"You go too far. Had you threatened Anconia Industries or me I would have treated you differently. As an adversary, but a worthy adversary. You have chosen to threaten a member of my family." The men didn't notice as Francisco pressed one of his cufflinks. A microscopic particle of strange matter disintegrated, releasing a storm of neutrinos.

Less than a minute later and before the men could react to what Francisco said, a light came on over the door. Admiral Entenmann frowned, but gestured to General Hogg. The general opened the door to see a colonel holding a telephone from which a long wire hung.

"Sir, Admiral? It's the president."

The admiral's face was white when he replaced the handset on the cradle and activated the speakerphone.

"Francisco? It's Todd. How are you and Lydia on this beautiful spring day?"

"Just fine, Todd. How are you and Helen?"

"We were looking forward to a weekend at Camp David, but you seem to have thrown a monkey wrench into that. I've got to find three new people to run the NSA. Would you drop by the White House on your way home from there?"

"I would be glad to," Francisco said. "I'm using the helo."

"I'll let them know," the president said. "Try not to blow over too many rose bushes! There should be a squad of Marines at the door to your meeting room. They will escort your three hosts, and you, from the installation.

"Gentlemen?" the president continued. "The only reason you want access to the Anconia system would be to spy on Americans or our allies. The first is prohibited by law; the second is repugnant to honorable men. You are relieved of your responsibilities and will surrender yourselves to the Marine detachment that should arrive momentarily."

"The Marines are here," Francisco said.

"Good. They will escort you to your helo. See you in, what, about 30 minutes?"

"More like an hour, Todd. It took us 30 minutes just to get here from the front door."

He turned to the three men. "Looks like today is your unlucky day."

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