Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 28

Published: 13 Aug 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

Only Nixon Could Go To China

Lady Chapel
April 16, 2018

"The KGB has been utterly destroyed, sir. It's common knowledge, but hasn't been in the press. The leadership in Novgorod was arrested four days ago."

"Did our man have anything else to say?"

"That didn't come from him, sir. We've lost contact with him. That came from a contact in Finland."

"And the missionaries?"

"They've been arrested, sir, all of them. They're being held in Lubyanka. They have Russian lawyers but are allowed no other contacts. The teachers' organization that issued their credentials has been unable . . ."

Goddamn! was all the Bishop could think.

Sydney, Australia
Nicky O'Brien Pershing's Log
April 17, 2018

I watched when Jonathan's plane landed and taxied to the front of the terminal. Davey followed Jonathan down the air stairs from a four-engine plane with the Romanov coat of arms emblazoned on it. Davey wore a naval uniform. I spelled out the Cyrillic letters above the bill of Davey's wheel hat: Standart. That was the name of the old imperial yacht. They were the letters on the hat that Alexei had worn in so many photos that Davey and I had mooned over on the computer. Then I saw the captain's stripes on Davey's epaulets. What and why? I wondered.

Jonathan was in the powder-blue suit that had become his uniform.

Alexander stood at the foot of the stairs in a line of dignitaries to greet Jonathan. As the representative of the United States, he ranked just behind the host, the Australian Prime Minister.

Jonathan was the first Russian (or Soviet) head of state to visit Australia in decades, and the Aussies pulled out all the stops to welcome him: a military band playing the old imperial anthem (which everyone who even thought they knew believed was the 1812 Overture), a twenty-one gun salute, a couple of hundred school children waving the old and now new Russian flag, and the current Miss Australia with a bouquet of roses.

Alexander Anconia's Log
April 17, 2018

The Australian PM, host to the Commission meeting, was almost as excited as were Jonathan and I when we outlined our plan.

"You know, don't you, that if the USA and Russia issue a joint statement supporting the closing, the meeting will be over."

"It's not just Russia and the USA," I said. "The Danish delegation will make the motion, and Norway will second it."

"Those two countries will suffer from that more than many, except perhaps for Vietnam," the PM said. "The other delegates will recognize that. I know you've been busy, Alexander. Still, how . . . ?"

"More Uncle Carlos than me," I said. "Norway, especially, with its fiords, is ideal for fish farming, and Uncle Carlos has agreed to underwrite massive facilities including fusion plants. Denmark will be a business partner in the Norwegian hatcheries through a bilateral treaty."

The Australian PM just shook his head. "I said you were fast on the draw, Alexander."

I don't know who was responsible for the secrecy or the reason for it, but I was completely surprised when Uncle Asuilaak arrived and presented his credentials as the emissary for Canada.

As I had thought, the conference, itself, was somewhat anticlimactic. After several delegations had read introductory statements in which they voiced their opinions (in some cases, rather pointedly) denying global warming, denying climate change, and denying charges of overfishing, the Australian delegation, as hosts, read what was supposed to be a first draft the proposed resolution.

Before anyone could offer an amendment, the Australian PM, the chair, recognized Denmark who moved to pass the resolution to close the Ross Sea to all fishing. Several delegations sought recognition, but the PM recognized Norway, who seconded the motion. That opened the floor for discussion. The PM brought in the big guns, and recognized Jonathan.

"The human race could survive on this Earth with no other species than brown rice and dung beetles." Jonathan said. "But it would not be a very pleasant existence. Biological diversity is essential not only to our life, but also to a civilization that is more than creatures grubbing in the muck. Someday, that diversity may be essential to our survival. Russia supports the resolution without question or modification."

Then, the PM recognized Uncle Asuilaak. He spoke in the Inuit dialect of Nunavut, even though I knew he had a good command of English. A boy who looked awfully familiar, stood beside Uncle Asuilaak, and translated into English. In a booth at the back of the auditorium, others translated into French, Russian, Norwegian, and a handful of other languages.

"Our peoples and others like us along the Arctic Circle, have lived by harvesting the sea and the land, on and off as glaciers advanced and receded, and in harmony, for perhaps 40,000 years. Global warming, climate change, and overfishing of northern waters by trawlers from many nations has put that way of life at risk. Now, it is happening along the Antarctic oceans. In concert with the Government of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of British Nations, the Government of Canada supports the resolution without change or reservation."

All the delegates knew about Anconia Foods and our interests in ocean harvesting. They also knew about the Global Explorer's mission. I don't know what they were expecting when the PM called on me. But I knew what I had to say.

"We as a species have caused the extinction of scores, perhaps hundreds of other species. We are about to destroy the oceanic ecosystem by overfishing . . . where we've not already done that in places like the Grand Banks and the Pacific Ocean west of Peru. The United States of America joins Norway, Denmark, Russia, Canada, and all the nations of the British Commonwealth in support of the resolution without question or modification."

The biggest surprise was when the PM next recognized the delegation from Vietnam. We expected the greatest pushback to be from them; however in a clear and forceful voice, the Chief of Delegation said, "Vietnam moves the previous question." It was a motion that without debate for itself would cut off further debate. Thailand seconded the motion without being recognized. If the motion passed, then we'd vote on the resolution. It would be an up or down vote. If it passed, it would end the conference.

Vietnam's motion passed. The PM called for a vote on the resolution. Seven countries voted "Nay." Eight, including Vietnam and Thailand voted "Aye." And I wondered what Anconia had promised (or would have to deliver) for those votes.

I made the motion to adjourn. It's another motion that isn't subject to debate. After being seconded by Jonathan it passed by the same eight-to-seven margin. I immediately moved toward Uncle Asuilaak.

His greeting was cordial, but reserved. Although the relationship between the people of Nunavut and Anconia was not secret, neither was it widely advertised. The boy was introduced as Lt. Anik's brother, which made him my brother, as well.

The conference couldn't close without a formal banquet and the obligatory photo of the leaders of the delegations. Afterwards, Jonathan and I found a corner in which to talk.

"Alexander? I've had enough ceremony and protocol. But I'd like to visit Nicky and the others, on the Explorer. Can you sneak Davey and me aboard?"

That was not as easy as it might sound, especially since Jonathan was surrounded not only by his security, but also Australian police and Special Forces. But, we managed.

"The water in the samovar is hot, and Pavel Korsokov has prepared the zvarka." That was the first thing I told Jonathan when we reached the conference room.

"Then you must allow me to serve tea," he said.

"The заварка is perfect," Jonathan said to Pavel, meaning the tea syrup. "Where did you learn?"

"My father is an employee of Anconia," Pavel said. "He and my mother are refugees from Russia. They escaped thirty years ago while attending an International Youth conference in Vienna. They weren't my parents, then. They were married in the USA, and I am a citizen."

"Do they still have family in Russia?" Jonathan asked.

Pavel seemed reluctant to answer, so I interjected. "Pavel, Jonathan is not the old regime. He is asking if your parents would like to be reunited, under his protection, with relatives and friends. Is that not right?"

"It is," Jonathan said. "Reuniting families separated during the communist—and post-communist—era is one of my goals."

"What's the story about Davey's hat?" I asked when the four of us were in private.

"The Standart has had an interesting life," Jonathan said. "She was converted into a minelayer, renamed Marti and served in World War II. After the war, she became a naval training ship named Oka. She was scrapped in 1963.

"The late Premier commissioned a yacht for himself to be built in secret in a Dutch shipyard. It was to be named for one of his paramours. The Dutch contacted me, and asked what they should do with it. Since it was already paid for, we decided to accept delivery, rename it after the old imperial yacht, and make it a holiday ship for our orphans."

"And Davey?"

"You see his epaulets," Jonathan said. "He is now a captain in the Russian Navy and Captain of the Standart. These are symbols, just like the ship, herself. He has not given up his USA citizenship, but has Russian citizenship. His grade and position serve to publicize that, and he does get to command the ship on day-cruises."

"But only because Lt. Anatoly is there to keep me from getting into trouble," Davey said.

"Guys? Would you let Jonathan and me talk privately for a while?"

No one objected; Davey and Nicky knew they would be filled in once Jonathan and I had reached agreement.

"Jonathan? One of the kids from Australia raised a serious question. China is the world's worse carbon polluter. Do you remember . . . did you learn . . . the expression, Only Nixon could go to China?"

Jonathan was quiet for so long, I was afraid I had done something wrong. Then, he spoke.

"Yes," he said. "I understand. You are saying that only Russia can deal with China. I don't like it, but you are right.

"We will need to prepare the way."

Chapter Notes: The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is real; the push-back by Russia and the Ukraine in 2014 (Earth Analogue III) was real. The threat to wildlife in the Ross Sea by overfishing was real and in our reality is likely to fall before political stupidity as the nations of the world play a "mine's bigger than yours" game.

Zvarka or заварка is tea syrup to which is added hot water from the samovar.

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