Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 31

Published: 24 Aug 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

Flames and Flamethrower

Presidential Statement
East Wing, the White House
May 3, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

"The Senate Energy Subcommittee has issued a subpoena to leaders of the Navajo Nation, requiring that they appear to testify about the hydrogen plant built on the lands of the Navajo Nation. There are at least two problems with this document. In the first place, it is vague in its description: it is little more than a fishing expedition.

"In the second place, and more important, the subpoena was served from one sovereign nation, the USA, to another, the Navajo nation. That is a violation of the Constitution of the United States, which grants to the president complete authority over foreign relations.

"Given my constitutional responsibilities, I find it easy to tell the Congress that the subpoena is illegal and that it will not be served nor enforced by any federal officers.

"The Navajo Nation enjoys the same independence and sovereignty as do the peoples of Nunavut, a Canadian Province created and recognized by that great country in 1999. Ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, if you wish to deal with the Navajo Nation, you will do so through the Office of the President of the United States. I hope that is clear."

Talk Radio
May 3, 2018 @10:15 AM

"He's threatening to make them injuns an independent nation."

"He can't do that."

"I wouldn't bet on it."

"What about Ben Gazi? It's just like Ben Gazi—another cover-up."

"It's not real. It's just not real."

"We beat them injuns fair and square. What about Little Big Horn? What about Wounded Knee?"

What, indeed, Alexander thought. He shut down the conservative talk-radio stream. That almost certainly white, probably redneck, definitely jerk doesn't know his history. The injuns kicked butt at Little Big Horn. And Wounded Knee? Which one does he mean? He's probably too ignorant to know of the massacre in 1890, and what went on in 1973 is too buried in confusion for anyone to really understand. No matter, it's pretty apparent to anyone who looks, that the conquerors oppressed the conquered—something that has been repeated throughout history.

&sciencetruthnolies: navajo one big energy zero

_Global Explorer_
Molucca Sea, 0 Degrees Latitude
May 7, 2018

Bert, the 35 high school kids from New Zealand, and four of the adults were the only Pollywogs to face King Poseidon's court on this crossing of the equator. Still, it was an important ritual for them. It was just as important that last crossing's Pollywogs, now Shellbacks, be recognized in their new status. That was something the Chief of the Boat had pointed out to me.

We had miscalculated, and there weren't enough boys to create the human pyramid necessary to retrieve the flag atop the greased mast. As soon as the other kids realized that, all the Shellback boys—Sea Cadets and high school kids—joined in with utter disregard for their clothing. The ships laundry staff got over it pretty quickly, though, and the after-initiation party was just as good as ever.

Arizona Sun-Citizen, May 4, 2018: Anconia To Build Nanotube Mill In Farmington. Anconia Metals, a subsidiary of Anconia Industries, has announced plans to build a carbon nanotube plant on the Navajo Reservation near Farmington. The plant will initially employ 75 skilled laborers plus a staff of 10. When fully operational in less than two years, it will employ nearly 500 people, and produce automobile and light truck frames and bodies.

Anconia Metals Steel Mill
Pittsburg, PA, USA
May 7, 2018 Monday

The manager of the Anconia Metals Mill in Philadelphia had been warned about the pending announcement. His plant produced steel automobile body panels and frames. Carbon nanotube frames and bodies would not only be cheaper, lighter, and stronger, they would last longer.

He was not surprised to be visited the following day by the Union Steward for Steelworkers Local 4637. Nor was he surprised that Ricardo Anconia had arrived in his office just before the meeting.

The Union Steward hardly waited to be introduced to Ricardo before he spoke. "You can't shut down this plant. We have a contract."

"You might want to read that contract," Ricardo said. "The number of employees I have agreed to hire at the agreed level of wages and benefits is based on orders received at this plant. If orders decline, I am completely in my rights to lay off employees. How many orders do you think will go to the Arizona plant if the price of products from there is 30% lower than the price from this plant?"

"No matter how rich you are, you can't afford to sell for 30% under cost for long," the steward stuttered.

Ricardo Anconia nodded his agreement. "You are correct in that; but do you think the biggest cost of this plant is labor? You might want to read the annual report. The biggest cost is electrical power for the smelting furnaces, and I can buy electricity from the Navajo hydrogen plant for three cents per kiloWatt-hour. It's more than twelve cents, here. I would recover the cost of building the new plant in two years. After that, it's all gravy."

The Union Steward had read the annual report, and he knew Ricardo was correct. He dropped his belligerence, and whined. "Why doesn't Anconia build a hydrogen plant in Pennsylvania?"

"Because your governor and your senior senator have made it clear they don't want that. I say they're yours, because I know your union donated a lot of money to their campaigns and to PACs that supported them.

"We could probably fight them in court, and would probably win—in ten years or so, and at a cost of millions. Frankly, it's not worth it."

There was nothing else the union man could say. When he left, the plant manager asked Ricardo, "Does anyone have any idea why the governor and Senator Paine are opposed to hydrogen?"

"Follow the money," Ricardo said.

Although he'd not been privy to that conversation, the Union Steward understood that was exactly what he needed to do. He began looking around and asking questions.

It wasn't hard to connect the dots between the governor, the senator, and a preacher at a UFC mega-church in Philadelphia. It helped that the treasurer of the local mega-church was the husband of a union member and that he'd whispered some things to his wife.

She listened, and she got angry. "You're laundering money, and they'll put you in jail as fast as they do those drug dealers! And the church isn't supposed to be supporting politicians!"

"I know, and I'm worried, but I'm in so deep—"

"Get dressed," she said.

It was three in the morning when the couple left the home of the union steward.

Those sons of bitches, the steward thought. They take money from both sides and then shit on the workingman. How can I use this? Where is that newspaper? Those people who are suing the UFC . . . they'd like this, you bet!

Ensign Davey Jones's Journal
Winter Palace
May 8, 2018

"Jonathan? We've gotten a bunch of email messages. A kid named Viktor Tchekov, also known as огнемет, 'Flamethrower' is a fifteen-year-old computer hacker who was arrested three days ago. He had been operating out of coffee houses in and around Elektrostal. That's east of Moscow.

"His friends tried to hack us in retaliation. They failed. So, they've sent a message: they want 'the young tsar' to intervene on his behalf.

"Um, Jaf could use some help."

_Anaconda Smelter_
Western Edge of Nazca Plate
May 9, 2018

The submersible control room was crowded. Two second-generation submersibles, based on Alexander and Jonathan's design but four times bigger were at work some 2000 meters below the surface at each end of an ore vein. Their first task was to drill into the vein. Then, the drill bits were replaced with hollow cylinders made of carbon nanotubes. The molecular structure of these tubes was designed to be a room temperature superconductor. When hydrogen-generated power was run through the cylinders, the vein heated, melted, and was sucked through the tubes into waiting tenders.

After the vein was emptied, the Anconia Smelter melted blocks of radioactive materials from US and allied nuclear waste dumps and pumped it into the cavity. By the time the material was subducted, circulated through the outer core of Earth, and found its way back to the surface through volcanoes, the radioactivity would have long ago dissipated.

Ensign Davey Jones's Journal
May 9, 2018

We sent our own people to bring "Flamethrower" to St. Pete. We still weren't entirely sure of the loyalty or the professionalism of many of the police officers. I'm pretty sure the kid was impressed when they took him to the airport and put him in a business jet. And even more impressed when he was driven to the Winter Palace, and brought directly into Jonathan's office.

"огнемет, I am Davey Jones, your Tsar's Information Technology geek—his Компьютерщик. You recognize your Tsar, of course?"

Sensory overload. The kid started hyperventilating. I grabbed his elbow and guided him to a chair. "Breathe slowly," I said.

When he was able to talk, his first question wasn't anything like I expected. "You're both Americans," he said. "The people who brought me here were Americans. The plane was an American plane. Have you finally conquered Russia?"

"The plane was actually Brazilian," Jonathan replied. "An Embraer. The flight crew members were Australian. And Davey is a captain in the Russian Navy. We're very international, here."

The boy didn't seem to get Jonathan's pun on L'Internationale. Not surprised. Not many people would, actually.

_Global Explorer_
Early Morning, May 9, 2018
Ensign Bobby Bell's Quarters

The mid-watch ended at 0600 for the crew; 6:00 AM for the high school students. It had not been difficult for Ensign Bobby Bell to arrange the schedule so that Jimmy Hastings's schedule matched his own. When Bobby had asked, Alex had smiled.

"Bobby, you know we know that you and Jimmy are boyfriends, don't you?" Before Bobby could react, perhaps withdraw, Alex added, "And you know we're not only okay with that, but we're happy for both of you, don't you?"

Alex pushed a bit of reassurance toward Bobby, and felt the boy relax.

"I knew, I think," Bobby said. "But I didn't really feel good about that until now. You don't think it's weird, or anything, do you?"

"No, I don't. Tommy told me about Jimmy nearly running him down when he reported to the Explorer, and about your volunteering to get him settled. I've seen Jimmy in the classroom and on duty. He treats his disability in the same way other kids might treat their hair or eye color—it's part of him. And I've seen you treat him the same way. I've also seen the look in his eyes, and yours, when you are together."

Today, at the end of a routine watch, Bobby asked Jimmy, "Breakfast or . . . " He lowered his voice to a whisper, " . . . bath?"

"You know the crew mess will serve breakfast until 1100 hours," Jimmy said. "And I'm not sleepy." He mimed sniffing his axilla. "But I do think I'm a little whiff. How about a bath?"

Both boys fit into the tub in Bobby's quarters, although it was a tight fit. That didn't bother them. Actually, they liked it that way. They exchanged more than washing, and their bath was more than just about getting clean.

"I love you, Bobby," Jimmy said. He held Bobby's shoulders to support himself, leaned forward, and kissed the older boy.

"Love you, too. Love your crippled legs, which are beautiful to me. Love your ginormous penis. Love your silly grin that it took a month to find. Love you for you," Bobby replied.

_Global Explorer_
Nearing the China Sea
May 9, 2019

"Alexander? What can you tell me about the Anconia Smelter? It's created quite a stir. Since the Explorer mapped the ore they're extracting, I thought you could tell me something."

Ms. Munford was right, and I'd received a long email on the November circuit before the Smelter had sailed. I offered coffee, and suggested she turn on her recorder.

I drew a sketch of the electrical circuit between the two submersibles and through the ore vein. "The hydrogen generators provide nearly unlimited power from the seawater that surrounds the submersibles," I said. "And just about anything will melt if you put enough electricity through it."

"But aren't you heating up the ocean floor? What about the benthic organisms, the ones living near the sea floor?"

"The vein is more than 1000 feet below the surface and it's already pretty warm, there. Remember, we're at the edge of a plate, where the crust is thin. And we monitor the temperature carefully."

_Global Explorer_
West of Tsushima Island, Japan
May 10, 2018

Nicky and I had taken four months—between other duties—to learn how to block others' thoughts. After being telepathic for more than a year, the feeling was strange: as if we'd been in a concert hall, and suddenly gone deaf. We figured out how to "fine tune" our sensitivity in order to detect danger, but were at least able to protect ourselves from unwanted thoughts.

"I kind of liked feeling other boys' lust," Nicky said. We had both wakened early, and were lazing in bed, cuddling, waiting for dawn.


"Just kidding," he said. "There are an awful lot who would like to have sex with us, especially you, you know."

"I know. That's why I wear elastic boxer briefs," I said.

"And why you're so eager when we finally get to bed," Nicky said. And giggled.

"We've got to tell Jonathan and Davey," Nicky said.

"Tomorrow is soon enough. Right now, it's near midnight there. They won't appreciate being wakened, I don't think."

Geneva, Switzerland
May 11, 2015

Mother had traveled to Switzerland, again. The Swiss greeted her enthusiastically, again. The press was out in force, again. Then, the governor general electrified the world television audience when he said that this vault had been sealed on orders of Joseph Stalin in 1950.

No one was completely surprised that the vault was filled with gold: ingots, for the most part, but also coins.

"In the name of my son, Tsar Jonathan I Romanov, and on behalf of the people of Russia, I claim this gold, and pledge it to the benefit of Russia and her peoples."

The world gold markets plummeted about 30% over the next few days, but slowly returned to stability. Then we began selling.

Davey Jones's Journal
May 12, 2018

"Davey? I'm scared."

Jaf was crying. When I held out my arms, he stepped into a hug. I could feel that he was trembling, and I felt his fear.

"Jaf? What's wrong?"

"I'm hearing things. Voices. People around me. Not you or Leonid, but the staff, the guards. It's real! I can tell. What's happening?"

Oh. I thought. I should have realized.

"Jaf, it's okay. It is real. Jonathan and I hear people, too. So does Leonid. The dryads are telepathic, and those of us who are their friends . . . we get that way, too."

After Jaf left, I reported his concerns to Jonathan, and then prepared a message for Alexander.

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