Castle Roland

Book II - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 37

Published: 14 Sept 15

Global Explorer II

by David McLeod

Darwin and Dirty Tricks

Washington Standard, July 11, 2018: President Cleans House At Federal Election Commission. President Hawkins has demanded the resignations of seven top officials at the Federal Election Commission. All seven were appointed by his predecessor. Senator Randolph has said that the Senate will not act on the president's nominees to replace the seven until the White House agrees to support the Clean Coal for Clean Energy Act that now languishes in the Congress.

The president's response was, "Fine. The career civil servants can run the show. They know how to do their jobs. And there's no such thing as clean energy from coal."

What the president didn't say was perhaps more important than what he said: he had ordered the formation of a joint task force among the IRS, the Federal Election Commission, and the FBI to investigate allegations and complaints of other violations of the law by non-profit organizations.

@sciencetruthnolies: president hawkins knows no such thing as clean coal 228 lbs co2 per million btu highest of fossil fuels

Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC
July 13, 2018

Congress was trying to wrap up the budget. Actually, they'd not passed a legitimate budget in nearly 20 years. However, they were hoping to pass, for the first time in a decade, all the authorization and appropriation bills that they were obligated, under the law, to pass. If the bills didn't pass, they'd play footsie and politics with continuing resolutions. Everyone in the congress won: they got to tell their constituents how hard they'd worked, how bad the other side was, and why they—the congresspersons—should be re-elected. No one outside the congress and the Congressional Budget Office understood how much this inefficiency cost the taxpayers. No one cared.

Senator Randolph looked at the stacks of documents on the corner of his desk. Three stacks, each at least two feet high. The bills on which he was expected to vote, tomorrow. He sneered, swept them off the desk onto the floor, and then called for someone to clean up.

The aide who responded said, stuttered actually, "Sir? Mrs. Peligrini would like to talk to you. She's … " The aide looked over his shoulder. "She's in the outer office."

Randolph frowned, but was careful that the aide did not see that. "As soon as you remove this trash, show her in."

"Randolph, I'm no longer going to beat around the bush," Peligrini said.

The senator hid his anger at the way she spoke. He was, after all, a member of the most "exclusive club in the world," the (mostly) white, (mostly) male, and very powerful Senate of the United States of America. To be addressed without respect by anyone, much less a queer-loving, liberal, female from the Granola State—land of fruits, nuts, and flakes—was intolerable. Nevertheless, he listened.

"You promised to support the Fair Allocation of Western Water bill," she said. "It will reach the floor of the house, tomorrow, and an identical bill will reach the senate the next day. An identical bill."

Randolph knew what that meant: if the bill passed both House and Senate without amendment, it would be put on the president's desk. Peligrini had managed something that more seasoned and male colleagues seldom had. Randolph knew that if he supported the bill, he might win a few votes in California, but he would lose more important states: Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico. Red states that could be counted on to support his bid for the presidency.

"I am not in a giving mood today," he said. "This is not the time to be sticking out our necks." And you should have thought of that before you hung out with the queers in that parade.

Washington Standard, July 17, 2018: Senator Randolph Named in Civil Suit. The family of the senator's deceased aide, Norman Crater, has filed a civil suit against Senator Randolph. The charge is that the senator described their son as a homosexual. A defamation suit on behalf of a deceased individual is new to the DC Superior Court; however, a judge has ruled that it may proceed.

The lawyer for the aide's family was surprised, but pleased, to receive an anonymous message that provided information and documentation on Senator Randolph's views on homosexuality. The suggestion that the senator's son might be gay was an eye-opener, but the lawyer knew he could not use that. At least, not directly.

Washington Standard, July 20, 2018: Bombing Plea Deal Implicates UFC. One of the men arrested for bombing two homes in Pennsylvania just two months ago has struck a plea deal with prosecutors. According to sources who cannot be named because they are not authorized to speak to the press, Melvin _____, of Smyrna, _____ confessed that the pastor of his church, the Universal Fundamentalist Church of Smyrna, sent him to Washington, DC, where he met with members of the UFC leadership and his co-defendant, Junior _____, of Lexington, _____ to plan the bombings and to be given the explosives and timing devices which were used.

Our calls to the UFC in Smyrna, Lexington, and Washington have met with categorical denials.

The Silver Club
Anacostia, DC
July 20, 2018

The club was 60% owned by the Universal Fundamentalist Church. The 40% owners were unnamed, but referred to only as men who were connected. The private entrance was by elevator from an underground parking garage. Four men were met and escorted through empty hallways to a small meeting room. They were seen by no one other than the staff. They heard, but did not see, the slot machines that brought in thousands of dollars each month—money that did not have to be accounted or reported.

"I thought those two were going to be taken care of," the Bishop said, referring to the bombers.

"Apparently, they thought so, too," one of the connected men said. "They disappeared immediately after they had done their work."

"How could the FBI catch them, and you couldn't?"

"The FBI has access to NSA intercepts of phone calls. We don't. One of them called his girlfriend's cell phone once too often or said the wrong thing."

"Is there any way to shut them up?"

"Now that they are in federal custody? That is not in scope of our relationship," the connected man said.

"The two bomb experts … ?" The question in the Bishop's voice was clear.

The connected man didn't hesitate. "Fifty thousand dollars … each."

"The two preachers? They must appear to be natural or accidental."

The connected man nodded, and set a price. The Bishop blanched, but agreed.

_Global Explorer_
July 25, 2018

"Alexander? Your mission profile seems to run out at the Marshall Islands." Captain Izzard and I were seated on the bridge watching flight operations as helos and Clippers shuttled kids—our kids and their Marshallese friends—around the atoll and to other atolls that made up the nation.

"Well, there's the equatorial current; another visit to the garbage patch to check progress … Actually, Dr. Brewster hasn't said—"

"Alex, that's not his job. It's yours," the captain said. He spoke softly, but he had interrupted me. I knew what he said was important. So I didn't answer right away. When I did, it was with a question.

"Do you have any ideas? Suggestions?"

"Do you remember when I told your father about browsing your bookshelf while waiting to be interviewed? Do you remember some of the books I mentioned?"

"Alexander Selkirk?" I said. And then grinned. I knew that's not what he meant. "Darwin." I said.

The captain nodded. "What about a trip, along the Equatorial Current, to the Galapagos?"

"Yes! Absolutely. Who do we know in Ecuador? Is the water deep enough for the Explorer?" My mind filled with the political and the practical. The captain just sat back in his chair, and smiled.

@sciencetruthnolies: global finally decides to explore galapagos go go darwin

Lexington Star-Ledger, July 27, 2018: Funeral Today for Reverend Mond. The Lexington Universal Fundamentalist Church will be the site of a funeral for its pastor, the Reverend Mustapha Mond. Reverend Mond died tragically on Monday morning when his car exploded. The police report suggests that a leaking fuel line … "

No one connected that announcement with the obituary for a second UFC preacher, or those for two former soldiers who were described as "munitions experts." No one, that is, except for Nicky O'Brien Pershing.

"Alex? I put a crawler on the news sources. At least, the important ones. It runs on your servers in Montana and sends results to me, here. The correlation algorithms are based on the ones that uses to tailor responses to internet searches. They're pretty sophisticated, even though they sometimes come up with some really weird results."

"What have you found?"

Nicky scrolled through several screens, pointing to names and the links that his software had found.

"What it looks like is that the UFC is tied to the Mafia, and that they are behind two bombings that killed three people, plus four more murders."

"What can we do with this?"

"It's all circumstantial," Nicky said.

"Only until Mossad gets it," I said.

"Huh? What have the Israelis got to do with it?"

"Ex-Mossad," I should have said. And then picked up the N-phone to call Dad.

_Global Explorer_
7.00 N, 171.50 W
July 30, 2018

The Marshallese kids and their parents threw a party for us the night before we were scheduled to depart. The government had tried to get involved, but somehow, Frank managed to quash that, and it was just their kids, our kids, some parents, and a few of our adults—teachers and Science Corps guys—who surrounded the bonfires and food.

Frank cornered Nicky and me and took us aside. There was an area set up for adults. Nicky and I felt, actually, pretty good about being included. We exchanged greetings with some of the Marshallese kids' parents, filled plates with food, and sat at picnic tables.

"Alexander?" Frank said. "We owe you the life of these islands."

We had already agreed that if the nanotube sea-walls around the capitol atoll were feasible, others would be constructed.

I thought about that only for a moment.

"Frank … Director," I said, using his title, "My home is in Montana, USA. The altitude there is more than 3,500 feet … sorry, more than a thousand meters above sea level. I have never faced the challenges you are facing. However, in the past few weeks, I have had a chance to talk not with officials, but with kids who know the effects of global warming on their homes. I see in their eyes and in their minds, but I couldn't say that their love of their country, and their home. There is nothing that can prevent me from trying to help them save that.

"And," I added, "That's all we need to say about that. We're not here to create obligations, but to create friendships and bonds."

The farewell party moved from the beach to the ship. A handful of Sea Cadets stood at the boarding ladders to make sure that we didn't have any stowaways. I had already talked to Frank about bringing some of his kids on board for the fall semester though.

All our kids were probably asleep on Monday at 0400 when the crew brought the reactors to full power, and the Explorer left the Marshall Islands.

Our course was 135 degrees true. In this part of the world, that was only about five degrees from magnetic, so we sailed by the compass on the old-fashioned side of the bridge.

Travel time, with the sensor train extended, and allowing for the vagaries of the three parallel Equatorial Currents, would be at least seventeen days. That would put us at the end of the planned summer camp. I could not imagine the campers not wanting to visit the Galapagos. Nicky and Francesca seemed to be getting along—for the moment at least—so I asked him to ask her to "take care of it."

All of the summer campers were "children of Anconia." Although some were enrolled in public schools, many attended company schools or private academies set up by Anconia parents.

All the students in company schools and the private academies were approved to remain on the Explorer through our visit to the Galapagos. The thirty whose public schools rejected the offer were immediately offered space in the fall semester on the Explorer. When that news got around, another hundred and eighty or so asked to be signed up, as well. Captain Izzard just laughed when I told him.

The next challenge would be the biggest initiation of pollywogs—including the triplets—ever on the Explorer. It was not only an important ritual, but also an excuse for another party.

Washington Standard, July 30, 2018: Tragedy Strikes Congress. Long-time member of the Congress, Senator Charles Zinio (WY) was mugged and murdered by an unknown assailant in the usually safe South Capitol neighborhood.

At the Washington, DC law firm of Bikkerstaff and Bikkerstaff a countdown clock began.

Chapter end note: Data on CO2 per million BTU of energy is from the US energy Information Administration, at

Randolph's words to Peligrini are an echo of King Richard III's to Buckingham in Act IV, Scene ii.

How Alexander overlooked the Galapagos is a mystery held closely by the Muses. It was Brendan who broke through that barrier and sent the Explorer there.

Previous ChapterNext Chapter