Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 34

Published: 3 Sept 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

The Noose Tightens

Winter Palace
Jaf's e-log
May 27, 2018

Flamethrower was still uncomfortable in his position on Jonathan's staff and also a little bit in awe of me, even though I was a couple of years younger than he was. Flamethrower was also a great deal in awe of Jonathan, his Tsar. He was understandably a little hesitant to announce his discovery.

"Um, Jaf? I think I've found something. Would you take a look?"

I wheeled my chair to огнемет's terminal and watched the older boy scroll through several screens.

"You've got 'em!" I said. "You've nailed those bastards. Come on … you've got to tell Jonathan and Davey."

огнемет sat, frozen, until I grabbed his hand and pulled him into Jonathan's office. It took some encouragement and a little help from Jaf, but огнемет got it out.

"The Universal Foundational Church … "


"Fundamentalist. They have account in Barbados. Three million US dollars was transferred to bank in Helsinki then Singapore then Thailand. The account in Thailand is being accessed regularly with cash being removed."

"Flamethrower found it all," Jaf said.

"Excellent work, огнемет," Jonathan said. "Jaf, please show him how to get this to Tom, would you?"

_Global Explorer_
Dr. Helen Stroud's Laboratory
May 29, 2018

"Aunt Helen? I have a secret that needs to be kept." I had elected to visit her laboratory alone and at a time when I knew high school students wouldn't be sequencing shark DNA or that of comb jellies.

"Alexander! I'm family. Of course I will keep a secret."

I opened the box, and waved my hand to clear away the fog created by the dry ice. The box held test tubes, each of which contained a cotton swab. She knew exactly what I wanted. Her eyebrow raised. "Eleven genomes? Human? That will take a while."

"What if you had to do only the Y-chromosomes?"

She laughed. "A lot less time. Alexander? I know that you and some of your friends are gay. You're not looking for a gay gene, are you?"

"Oh, no, Aunt Helen. Something a lot more important than that." I didn't want to tell her anything more, lest I influence her findings.

Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC
May 30, 2018

Senator Zinio shook two tablets from the bottle of extra-strength antacids. Lunch with his brother-in-law had been at an all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant on the Eastern Shore. If you can call a place with butcher paper tablecloths a restaurant,' Zinio thought.

The information he received had been worth the heartburn.

"Randolph's son is no longer a Sea Cadet. He's taken a UN commission in the floating science corps. It's the only commission that's been offered this year. Last year, they waited nearly nine months. He got his in five."

"How did you find out? I don't think even the senator knows."

"The UN servers were easy to crack, and they have a list. Since that Anconia kid seems to be in charge of the Science Corps, the list came up when I did a search on his name."

"Anything else?"

"Yes. The senator has a secret email account with one of the social network sites. For nearly five months, he was exchanging daily messages with his son … messages about what was happening on the ship. That has stopped. Either they have another account that I can't find, or the kid has stopped reporting. Given the other news, I'd say he's cut ties with his father."

"Your hunches are usually correct," Zinio said. But what can I do with this? he wondered

IEEE Spectrum posted 12 September 2014, Earth Analogue III: Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority grants approval to restart nuclear reactors at the Sendai plant on the southern island of Kyushu. They will be the first to be returned to service after the Fukushima disaster of March 2011. The country's other 46 reactors remain offline.

_Global Explorer_
Off Kyushu Island
June 1—5, 2018

The Japanese Prime Minister arrived by helicopter from an Isumo-class helicopter destroyer. Actually, it didn't destroy helicopters. That was just its name. It was more like a US Navy's LPH—or landing platform helicopter—than a destroyer. And, it was still the biggest warship built by the Japanese since World War II.

The destroyer remained some 300 meters away during the entire conference. Our naval aviators and army warrants—not to mention Mr. Casey's people—were a little nervous about that until they were invited aboard and given tours of the Japanese ship. And reciprocated, and were gratified at how fascinated were the Japanese crew with our science mission.

The conference lasted for five days, but I think Jonathan won the argument at the first meeting when he conducted a combined Russian-Japanese tea ceremony for the Prime Minister. They reached agreement shortly after that, and spent the rest of the time planning for the transition of the islands to the descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants, and then working on a trade treaty between the two countries.

I was concerned when Nicky showed me the message traffic from the kids of Japan. They universally demanded that Japan agree to stop and make punishable whaling and shark finning before Japan and Russia entered any kind of agreement. And they were sending these demands to both their Prime Minister and the Russian embassy.

Flight operations did not overshadow the conference. The newest clippers, with four H-powered engines and a passenger capacity of 52 in all first class seats, were too big for carrier landings and takeoffs, so they landed in the sea. By the time 500 campers were aboard, Captain Izzard had begun a Valium regimen. Just kidding about that. Although for about ten days he did spend more time than usual on the bridge, and less time wandering around the ship.

The joint announcement at the end of the conference took a lot of people by surprise. Jonathan said that Russia and Japan relinquished their claims to the Kurile Islands to the Ainu People, and the Japanese Prime Minister announced that Japan would begin building hydrogen power plants to replace all its nuclear reactors. Then, he stunned the world by saying that at the request of the children of Japan, who had been inspired by the work of the Global Explorer he would immediately introduce legislation criminalizing whaling and the practice of shark-finning.

@sciencetruthnolies: the world is a tough place but kids can make a difference way to go kids of japan

_Global Explorer_
Alexander Anconia's Journal
June 5, 2018

After the conference, Jonathan, Davey, and Jaf met with Nicky and me. I told them that Aunt Helen was still sequencing DNA, and promised to let them know when she was done.

"Do we know any more?"

"First data point: male. Second data point. Maybe 50% are gay," Davey said.

"Your dad isn't; and Colin said the triplets weren't."

"Aunt Helen said she couldn't sequence a gay gene anyway."

"They've been exposed to the dryads. And half have had sex with them."

"But there have been dryads as part of mother's security detail—the Protectors … and as far as we know … none of them have been affected," Jonathan said.

"We need that data point. Jonathan? Davey?"

"As soon as we get back," Jonathan said.

"Jaf was exposed to Langen and then Leonid for some time before he became telepathic," Jonathan added. "It was only after he had sex with Leonid."

Jaf blushed furiously, and we all pretended not to notice.

Chopstick Restaurant
Silver Spring, MD
June 6, 2018

"I don't like Chinese," Elder #2 groused. "I'm allergic to monosodium glutamate."

"Have you been reading that Food Bitch blog again?" Elder #1 said. "You know her degree is in art, and the only thing she knows about chemistry is how to mix paint."

"Gentlemen, please," the Bishop interrupted. "Apparently Mr. Lennox has something rather serious to tell us."

"Serious? Damning, rather," Lennox said. "Someone traced a transaction from the Barbados account to South Korea, then Russia, Finland and Singapore, to Thailand. The IRS and FBI as well as the US Attorney received the information anonymously. So did the Washington Standard.

"Someone is starting rumors on the internet that the money is tied to child pornography in Russia, and child prostitution in Thailand. This could … " Mr. Lennox wilted under the Bishop's stare, and could not continue.

"How in God's name did you allow this to happen?" the Bishop demanded.

Both Lennox and the Bishop knew the answer: Lennox had simply been following the Bishop's orders.

"We should create new accounts, sir," Lennox said. "New accounts in new locations, and move as much money as possible there. I will need to open the accounts in person."

Across the restaurant, a man nodded to his companion. His hearing aid had picked up and recorded the entire conversation. After the four churchmen had left, the two men departed and drove straight to the Anconia compound. Two days later, Mr. Lennox and his wife were watched as they boarded an international flight. They were not followed onto the airplane, but they would be met.

Taggart Transcontinental Hump Yard
Scottsbluff, Nebraska
June 6, 2018

Part of the locomotive had been built at a shipyard in Oakland. The wheels and axles came from South Bend, Indiana. Controls were manufactured in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dagney inspected the final assembly, and then turned to Francisco, who had arrived with two of his people and a four-foot cube wooden crate.

"Hey, Frisco, are you sure that's going to be big enough?" she asked. "Those are the most powerful electric motors we've ever put on a locomotive."

"You bet, Slug," Francisco said. "Twenty thousand kiloWatts, at your service." He handed her a plastic, gallon jug of distilled water. "This should handle the fuel requirements for the first year."

There was no question of payment. Taggart Transcontinental had not asked payment for extraordinary expenses incurred when Alexander's submersibles had been shipped from Montana to San Francisco more than a year before; Anconia Industries would not ask payment for this generator.

On the Explorer, we were surprised not to hear from @sciencetruth … and wondered why he would miss this event. Although there was no press release from Taggart or Anconia, knowledge of the event was widespread at both corporations and on the Explorer. I took it as confirmation that there wasn't a spy somewhere.

_Global Explorer_
Alexander Anconia's Quarters
June 7, 2018
The triplets remembered our deal, and didn't enter Nicky and my quarters without knocking. That wasn't all they remembered.

"You promised to tell us why people don't like homerosexuals," Demetrio spoke for them.

There was no sense in delaying my answer. I had had months to think about it, and was ready.

"Lots of reasons," I said. "One is that humans have a fear of that which they do not understand. That's something that is deep within our DNA, something that developed in the tiny mammals that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs and which grew into the small hominids that climbed down from trees on the African savannah and lived among carnivores such as lions and saber-tooth tigers that were very much more powerful than they were.

"Fear helped them survive long enough for homo sapiens to evolve. And you know that homo sapiens doesn't mean homerosexuals, right?"

Alberto giggled. "Bet we talk Latin better than you!"

"There's another reason," I said. "It also is deep in our genes. We have an innate drive to associate with those who are like us. It's another survival instinct that grew when we were a tribal species who depended on others to survive. There's a huge body of theory on that, including studies of altruism. You know what that means, right? It does come from Latin."

All three of the triplets giggled. I was glad for that.

"To like someone who is like us, and to dislike someone who is different from us is built into our genes. And it was codified in the Jewish Bible and the Christian New Testament. The Jewish Bible was written by goat-herders around 2,600 years ago, when children were important to the tribe's survival. People who didn't have children weren't contributing to that, and were shunned or killed.

"Long before either the Jewish Bible or the Christian New Testament was written, our Anconia ancestors came up with what is now called the golden rule. They also first stated the "eye for an eye" philosophy that the Hebrews popularized in their Bible. The only thing the Christians haven't stolen is something that is also part of the Anconia heritage: ‘We do what is right because it is the right thing to do.'

"To hate someone because he or she is different from us is built into our genes. But our genes and our evolution also gave us a mind that has the ability to reason, to step back from the evolutionary instinct, to discard the memes and to create new ones."

"You guys are going to be the ones to carry on the Anconia family—"

"You're not going to have children?" Demetrio interrupted me.

"The only way would be through artificial insemination, and I really don't see that happening," I said.

"I hope you will let me associate with my nieces and nephews," I added, glad that they didn't have questions about artificial insemination.

Chapter End Note: Thank you to Brendan for helping develop Alexander's explanation to the triplets. I only hope I've done your thoughts justice.

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