Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 33

Published: 31 Aug 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

"I fought the law …"

Washington Standard
May 15, 2018
Surprise in Humanist Lawsuit. One of the lawyers for the Universal Fundamentalist Church was charged with contempt of court after arguing repeatedly against the admissibility of evidence brought by a Union Steward from Pennsylvania. The Union Steward and his attorney presented themselves as amicus curae—friends of the court—and offered documentation and depositions describing illegal campaign contributions by the UFC.

_Global Explorer_
May 17, 2018

The triplets arrived late in the evening, but there was enough light for the news crew to get video of their carrier landing and of the triplets deplaning and being welcomed aboard. As if they knew this was important, the triplets did not try to knock over Nicky and me until after the news crew had left the deck. Then, they swarmed us.

Bringing the triplets on board worked. We opened registration for the Explorer's summer camp two days later, and all the slots were filled within 15 minutes.

We had recovered the sensor cable, replaced twenty-seven damaged sensors, spliced the cable, and sent a bill through the British embassy in North Korea. Uncle Ambassador Luce had delivered it to the British Ambassador to the USA over dinner, and said they both got a chuckle from it. I suppose a chuckle was about the best we could expect from the British.

The North Koreans eventually paid the bill. By that time, Francesca had set up a non-profit that funneled food and books—and smuggled cell phones—into North Korea. I donated the entire amount of the South Koreans' payment to the charity. That really pissed off the NKs. Tough.

Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC
May 17, 2018

Senator Randolph stared at the message. It had been delivered in a double-sealed envelope by two Navy officers, who had politely insisted it be placed into his hands, only. As soon as they left, he sliced open the envelopes to reveal the inner message. Now, he sat, frozen.


I have accepted a commission in the United Nations Science Corps. I am no longer a cadet, but am under contract for the foreseeable future. I do not intend to publicize either your most recent message or this one, nor the reasons for my change in career paths.

Macon Randolph, III, Ensign, UNSC

"Change in career paths! Who the hell does he think he is?"

The senator's question was rhetorical. He was alone in the office. When his political advisors assembled an hour later, he had better questions, but the staff was still singularly unhelpful.

"Sir, he is of age under US and international law. He had the right to make a contract."

"There's nothing the Navy can do. The Explorer is a civilian ship, run by a non-profit corporation—"

"It's run by Francisco Anconia's son!" the senator interrupted.

"On the surface, yes, sir. But there's quite a tangle of universities, non-profit educational foundations, and environmental groups—not to mention the United Nations. And, we suspect, the US, British, Canadian, and Australian navies."

"The Explorer has an 85% approval rating in the polls—that's about 80% higher than the congress. They have a huge fan base, and some powerful press and internet associates."

"What the hell can we do?" the senator demanded.

"At the moment, sir, nothing. And I recommend that the news be kept to those in this room. There's been nothing from the Explorer about this. It's best to keep it that way."

The senator wasn't happy, but he was smart enough to take that advice.

Konigsberg, Germany
May 18, 2018

The news was electrifying. The original Amber Room had been looted from Russia by the Germans during World War II. Until now, its location has been a mystery. It had been located. It was in the hands of a middle-eastern emir in his mansion only a few miles from the room's last known location.

Ownership was being disputed, however. The German government had contributed heavily to a reconstruction of the room in the Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg only a decade or so, ago. Jonathan was faced with a dilemma: should the Germans, then, own the original?

That was not his only dilemma. Whether or not he regained custody of the original Amber Room, should it be sold to help rebuild Russia? Should both the original and the reconstruction be sold to help rebuild the country? Should this treasure be put into private hands?

I was so proud of Jonathan when he proposed a solution that satisfied everyone—except the King of Saudi Arabia, perhaps. After a call from Jonathan, the king had an epiphany, and offered to pay Russia the estimated value of both rooms, some 400 million pounds sterling, with the original room to remain on permanent loan in Germany and the reconstruction to be on display in Russia. After a call from Interpol, the emir had an epiphany, too, and gave up his ownership of the mansion he had built to hold the room. The mansion became a museum.

No one ever knew what Jonathan said to the King of Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, by now, Jonathan had control of Gazprom, and it was becoming common knowledge that he also had controlling interest in hydrogen power. And the Saudis were running out of both oil and money.

_Global Explorer_
Alexander Anconia's Journal
May 19, 2018

Things had calmed down enough that Nicky and I were able to respond to Jonathan's request for a conference call on the N-circuit. After what he told us about Jaf, we figured it was about telepathy. We were right.

"Jonathan said it when we discovered that Jaf was affected: it's boys who have been close to the dryads. Alexander? I know that your family wants you to figure this out." Davey came straight to the point.

"What do all the people who are telepathic have in common?"

"Who do we know for sure is telepathic?"

I answered that one. "Jonathan, Davey, Jaf; the triplets; Nicky and I. Maybe Dad; maybe Aunt Elizabeth."

"First data point: male, except maybe Aunt Elizabeth."

"She never said if she were … she'd been to the grove, but …" I said.

"I don't think she is," Nicky said. "I would never try to read her, but I don't hear her, either."

"What about Francesca?" Davey asked.

"No way! She'd never have let us get away with …" Nicky blushed, brightly enough that the others knew not to pursue the matter.

"Besides, Colin said she wasn't," Alexander said.

"If it's just boys, then it's got to be something on the Y-chromosome."

"Jonathan? We need DNA samples. Yours, Davey's, Jaf's, Leonid's. Will you do that?" Alexander asked.

"Of course, Alexander. This is important to us all, and it's a family thing."

London Daily Telegraph, May 20, 2018. Hydrogen Power Comes to the UK. Her Majesty's government announced today that the first in a series of hydrogen power plants will be built at Newcastle on Tyne. The plant will provide electricity to the national grid and will replace three of the coal-fired plants that remain in operation. Construction of additional plants at Dundee and Derry will begin soon.

&sciencetruthnolies: new meaning coals to newcastle jolly good united kingdom has joined hydrogen revolution

Concord Village and Wesley Woods
Pittsburg, PA
May 20, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

The explosions were carefully timed to go off at the same moment. The explosives were from the same batch; their chemical fingerprints would match. The people who set off the bombs at the homes of the Union Steward and the local UFC accountant wanted people to tie the two together. The K Street lobbyists weren't the only people who knew how to use fear.

_Global Explorer_
Alexander Anconia's Journal
May 21, 2018

Our newly minted Ensign had requested a meeting but was reluctant to say what the subject would be. I wasn't sure whether to brush up on evolution or politics. I should have read up on the psychology of guilt.

Macon declined coffee, but sat at my invitation. Then, he burst into tears, put his head in his hands, and sobbed. I allowed him a couple of minutes, and when it seemed he was in control, said, "Macon? Those weren't happy tears. I feel a great sadness. You asked for this meeting; you want to tell me something, don't you?"

He looked up and blurted. "Sir, I want to resign my commission and be put off the boat as soon as possible."

"Uh, Macon? It's not a boat. It's a ship. And I know that you aren't telling me the truth. Please start over. Please take your time."

He was shocked by my answer, which actually was my intent. His tears stopped and I felt a little anger toward me. Good, I thought. That's better than whatever was eating him.

I opened for him a bottle of water. He sipped, and then gulped half of it. He took a deep breath, and looked straight into my eyes.

"Alex, I have betrayed you."

That was not what I expected to hear. I thought about probing, just a little, but settled for trying to read whether he was being truthful.

"In what way, Macon?"

"Ever since I came on board I've been reporting to my father everything that's happened on the ship, and have answered questions he's sent. I know that some of the information I have sent has created bad publicity for you and the Explorer."

"How have you been reporting?" I asked.

He seemed puzzled. "Email, of course."

"May I see your messages, and your father's?"

"I delete them, every day," he said.

"Perhaps," I said. "But you don't delete the system backups."

Macon grew quite pale, but nodded. I took that for agreement, and called up his message file.

"Macon?" I said, after about thirty minutes. "There's nothing here that's secret. There's nothing here that isn't true, factual, and accurate. I've only read about 10% of the file, but I'm willing to bet that there will not be anything untoward in any of your messages. You have not betrayed our friendship.

"We are friends, aren't we?" I added.

It was awkward for me to hug him while he was seated in a cushy chair at the conference table, but I managed. I was sure that his tears were now happy tears.

Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC
May 25, 2018

"That Anconia ship is going to host a summit conference between Japan and Russia." Senator Randolph's announcement stunned the members of his camarilla.

"That's not been in the news. Your man on the Explorer came through," Senator Zinio said.

"No. This came from a … a member of the Japanese embassy staff. Apparently, the kid who is running that ship—" Senator Randolph did not want to say Alexander's name— "had to get permission from the president."

"What does your man on the Explorer say?" Zinio pressed the issue.

"Nothing! Focus on what is important!" Randolph demanded.

_Global Explorer_
May 26, 2019

Although Tommy and Artie's duty stations were in the reactor control room, I had insisted that all Sea Cadets and UNSC officers serve in bridge positions. And everywhere that Tommy went, Artie was sure to go, as the nursery rhyme went. That included the bridge, even though Artie was a high school student and not a cadet.

We had just entered the Sea of Okhotsk, and were sailing south-by-south-south east. Tommy had the conn. We had not yet picked up the Kamchatka Current, so all he had to do was keep us on course. Actually, Artie was doing that. He had the wheel, and was focused on the magnetic compass.

The bell sounded for watch change. After each watch-stander briefed his relief, but before the old shift could leave, I spoke up. "Would everyone on the day watch remain for a moment, please? Mr. Samson and Mr. Michaels, would you come here, please?"

Before either Tommy or Artie could panic, I said what needed to be said.

"Artie Michaels, you came to us as a high school student. You have not only excelled in your studies, you have become an important part of the crew both in the engine room and in the comms shack. If you will agree, and take the oath of office, I am prepared to offer you a commission as Ensign in the United Nations Science Corps."

I had to hand it to the kid. He didn't pass out, although I think a great deal of blood may have rushed from his head.

"Sir? I know the oath of office. Tommy … I mean, Mr. Samson has it framed in his stateroom. And I would be willing to take it. But I'm not old enough."

"Mr. Michaels? You have dual US-Algerian citizenship. In Algeria, the age of consent is twelve. Further … " I handed him a message form. "Your parents have granted their permission."

Now I think he swayed a little. Tommy saw, and was ready to catch him, but Artie pulled himself together."

"Yes, sir. I mean, I am. I mean, yes, sir."

At my request, Tommy administered the oath of office, and then passed to Artie the gold ensign bars LCDR Griggs gave him. Artie got handshakes from everyone on the bridge, including Tommy. Everyone who knew them knew that they were boyfriends, but they were still a little shy. Hugs would come later.

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