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    David McLeod
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

0300 Book 3 - 8. Chapter 8: Fatima Planning

Chapter 8: Fatima Planning

 

2009-02-23 USS Charleston
Flag Intel Team Briefing

 

Word of John and Andrew’s rescue spread quickly through the Task Force. I was proud and pleased with the way people accepted John despite his obvious difference, and of the members of the Flag Intel Team who kept him busy with questions. No one seemed surprised when he sat with the team on the next Task Force-wide briefing.

 

Kevin kicked off the program. “At our first briefing, Lt. Commander Cousins asked how we could reconcile the existence of the Hoover Dam and its electrical generation capability with the rest of the technology in the Reverends’ territory. That was a tough question to answer. We had a lot of imint and a little sigint, but didn’t know how to tie it together. However, since John has joined our team, we’ve learned enough to make some educated guesses.

“Since it was the Imint Team who led the effort, Ensign Alex Tremaine will conduct the briefing.” Kevin sat down, and Alex took his place at the lectern.

“Thank you, Lt. Cathcart. First, this was a real team effort, and we got some information from some pretty different places.” He pressed a button, and an image of the Reverend’s dam and lake appeared.

“You all know John, named for John of Patmos. We learned from John that their name for the dam is Scudder Dam, and that it holds back The Lake of the Lord. We’ve also learned that their transportation network has significantly and deliberately been degraded over the past 50 years.”

Alex waited for the whispers to die down.

“At one time, there was an extensive rail, canal, and road network linking cities—a network likely equivalent to what might have existed on our world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The clues were there; we just didn’t see them. It was obvious, however, once we knew what to look for.”

Alex put up an image of agricultural land, and then zoomed in. There was a lighter streak running diagonally across the rows of corn.

“This clue came from Senior Chief Anderson, who grew up on a farm in Iowa. In fact, this image is a field on his family’s farm.

“That streak represents differential growth in the corn. It was caused by iron in the soil—iron that rusted from railroad tracks. There are similar streaks all over our world where the old inter-urban rail lines ran before the maglev system was installed.

“We looked at the Reverend’s territory, and have found more than a thousand miles of such streaks where there used to be tracks. And we’re still finding them.”

Alex put up more photos, and explained that similar patterns showed where highways and an extensive canal system once existed on the Reverends’ world.

“Their only remaining long distance transportation is by train. We didn’t understand why, until John explained.

“The Reverends are deliberately keeping people isolated. There are no towns with a population greater than 5,000 except Las Vegas, Miami, Lynchburg, Chicago, and Albany. Las Vegas is a western headquarters, ruled by a powerful council of Reverends. We know Lynchburg is their center of Government. Albany and Miami appear to be important ports. Chicago appears to be the main port for receiving grain from Canada, including the port of Thunder Bay. The Reverends may deliberately have torn up or closed the canals, unneeded train tracks, and the highways in order to keep their people isolated.

“There is little traffic on the remaining rail lines except for freight, and much of that seems destined to the few large cities and ports, as well as to ports on the Pacific controlled by California.

“Some of the trains have a passenger car. Other than the Scudder’s train, we’ve never seen more than one passenger car. The passengers are limited to Reverends, identifiable by their black clothing; soldiers; and—based on the destination—Sheriffs and children being shipped to Sheriffs’ labor camps.

“Occasionally, we’ll see a different kind of person, a well-dressed man. John suggests that these are administrators of some sort.

“Are there any questions?”

Commander Cousins led the applause that followed.

 

Lieutenant Evans, Captain of the Hope, called me a few days later. I’d forgotten he was also a doctor, until he explained the reason for his call.

“Sir? I understood that the people in the Reverends’ territory have been isolated in towns with populations of no more than about 5,000. Given their likely lifespan, which I’ve calculated using data George got to me, I would guess that they’re on their fourth or fifth generation of genetic isolation. I suspect that abnormalities are beginning to show up. Based on some work done in several Anabaptist colonies in the USA, as well as studies of isolated populations of Eastern European Jews, perhaps 5% of those abnormalities will not be viable at birth, and another 5% will likely suffer early mortality—perhaps by their fifth year. Those percentages will probably double with each successive generation.

“Couple that with primitive medicine and even more primitive living conditions and in another 50 years there won’t be anyone left.”

I was gob-smacked. “Jeff, that completely escaped me—” I began.

“It’s okay, sir,” he said. “You’re not a doctor. It’s—”

He stopped talking when he heard my laughter.

“What?” he asked.

“Jeff, actually, I earned a medical degree at Nazca, but I completely let this get past me.”

“That’s why you have us old folks, sir,” he said, and then grinned.

 

Kidnap Team I

 

George reminded me that our plans to kidnap someone from California had been interrupted, and asked me what we were going to do about that. I think he was bored, but he was also right. And I knew that I could not have functioned without him and the other metas keeping things organized.

 

George recruited Artie, who brought in two more of his boys to help plan the mission. They were able to select a teacher who seemed to enjoy solitary jogging in the early mornings. George ran his plan through the Intel and Ops Teams, and sent me a memo. By the time I had received the memo, the team was halfway to the rift.

That was okay. I remembered when George and Danny had screwed up in a tunnel at Disneyworld, and we’d had a serious discussion. By now, George and the others knew that it is often easier to get forgiven than to get permission, and that they’d get forgiven as long as they didn’t break a prime directive. And, there were only two prime directives: don’t get caught, and don’t give away any hint of our technology.

 

George was smart enough not to take any of Artie’s boys on the mission. If one were seen and recognized, our cover would be jeopardized. Kidnap Team I was dressed in tatterdemalion—not rags, but a hodge-podge of clothing that mirrored what the boys at Santa Ana routinely wore when not in uniform.

 

The mission was successful. They landed the shuttle in darkness behind a hill, and intercepted the teacher. They were prepared to use force, and to drug him into unconsciousness, if necessary; however, once he caught sight of the shuttle, the man was eager to cooperate. I met the team on the Flight Deck, and got a hug from George. He was still flushed with excitement and pride.

“We did it, Daddy!” he whispered. “And he’s a cool dude, and smart, too.

“Professor Martin? Would you come meet my daddy?”

 

I saw the professor’s puzzlement at George’s calling me daddy. That would have to wait, however. I invited the professor as well as George’s team to join me in the Flag Conference Room, where Artie was already waiting. The professor had arrived at Camp Santa Ana after the Battle for Las Vegas, and wouldn’t have known Artie, although we expected him to recognize the uniform. We were surprised when the professor said, “You’re Artie!” and then asked, “Where are the others? How many . . .?”

“Six hundred eighty six survived,” Artie said. “But I don’t know you.”

“I’ve seen you on the Don’s televisor,” the professor began, but I interrupted him with a critical question.

“Professor? Artie will fill you in shortly; however it’s important to know what the Don will think of your disappearance. Can you help us understand what his reaction might be?”

“He—rather, at first, the Officer of the Day—will assume that I was injured, perhaps that I fell, and will send someone to look for me. When I am not found, the Don will be notified. He will likely assume that I was attacked by a bobcat, and will send a few more people. When I am not found, he will settle on an attack by a wild animal which dragged my carcass away, despite the lack of physical evidence.”

“Will he notify his headquarters?”

“Not likely. He shares no more than he has to with the CIA.”

In addition to explaining that the CIA was the California Intelligence Agency, a sort of central council that ran the army, Professor Martin helped us understand the California government.

“California is technically a republic. Do you know what that is?” he asked.

“Yes, a representative government in which the representatives are chosen by an electorate and given authority to rule. Is it based on the old constitution of the USA?”

“You are familiar with that?” Professor Martin asked.

We stopped the debriefing at that point, not only because it was getting late, but also because I felt the professor could tell us more if he knew more about us.

 

The next morning Artie and Cam gave the professor an in-depth understanding of not only what we knew about his world, but also about ours. I suggested that they hold off explaining Corey and his world until later. I kept one screen linked to the room where Artie, Cam, and the professor were talking, but only watched when something caught my attention.

* * * * *

“We believe that the atmosphere is about 60 miles deep,” Professor Martin said. “That you were able to release the bodies of the children from that height was confirmed by simple trigonometry from measurements made from several points during the funeral.”

“You were prepared to do that?”

“Of course. We knew that Artie would not lie about something so important.”

 

“The two new buildings are classrooms. All the boys now learn to read, write, and do simple arithmetic. They also receive classes in military history, strategy, and tactics. The orphanage has been converted into a military post at which another army of children is being trained.”

 

“Yes, the link which brings the televisor signal down the mountain is powered by a solar cell.”

“What other technology does California have that the Reverends don’t?”

“I don’t know,” Professor Martin said. I’ll try to think of any, but I was, after all, a teacher of mathematics and history.”

 

“Why children?” Cam asked.

“Because they demanded to be allowed to fight. Because we judge a person not on calendar age but on mental maturity.”

I was happy to hear that, since it would likely make it easier for the professor to accept the children in my command, and the relationships that existed between boys and adults.

 

2009-03-01 USF Charleston
How to Foil Fatima

 

The kidnapping—or rescue depending on one’s perspective—of John and Andrew and the subsequent kidnapping of Professor Martin were interludes in the middle of a greater problem: how to deal with the Reverends’ attempt to re-create the Miracle of the Sun. Plans for other kidnappings were put on hold until we could resolve that. In hindsight, that was a bad decision, one that put a child at great risk.

 

“We cannot let this miracle take place. We know it’s not really a miracle, but we cannot allow the Reverends’ people to believe it is.” Those were the instructions I gave to the team. And then, I let them deal with it, just as I had when my element at Edmonton had won the ice hockey championship, even beating the Flin Flon Junior Team, and I learned that helping and encouraging my teammates was more effective than being the star, myself. The battles of Empire are won on the playing fields of Eton. I remember wondering what that meant; now, it became clear.

I sat back and listened to the discussion.

“Do we need only to block the sun, or must we do more?”

“A single ship can create a circular force field that is opaque.”

“What if CERN-Higgs opened a rift so that instead of the sun, all they saw was empty space . . . and maybe, some stars?”

“A rift would have to be outside the atmosphere, or it could create strong windstorms, and maybe suck away the air of Earth.”

“A windstorm—a sandstorm—might not be a bad idea, if we could control it.”

“How do they normally see an eclipse? This can’t be the first time that’s happened.”

Several pairs of eyes turned to Artie, but he shrugged. “I don’t know what you mean,” he said.

A message was sent asking John to join the discussion. He looked much better than when I’d first seen him. Hormone therapy and a boost to his thyroid, as well as help from a physical therapist had begun a process that would bring him to a semblance of normalcy—at least, what we considered normalcy.

“An eclipse?” he asked. “I don’t know that word.”

Cam linked his iPad to the big screen, and drew the sun, the orbit of the Earth and that of the moon, and was about to show the moon crossing in front of the Earth and casting its shadow when John gasped. So did Artie and the two of his boys who were with him.

I realized immediately what was wrong: they’d never been told of the heliocentric solar system.

Cam displayed a couple of videos of eclipses recorded on our Earth. John grasped the situation quickly, and I made a note to ask Corey to add a few things to the U-Cal boys’ curriculum.

“Very interesting,” John said. “What you’re describing could happen even in the Reverend’s model of the universe, in which the moon occupies a crystal sphere between the Earth and the sun, but I have never seen this.”

Then he said something that sounded like poetry. “ ‘ . . . the sun became black as sackcloth of hair and the moon became as blood . . .’

“There have been, I remember, reports of the Lord God sending darkness over some of His people as a sign of His displeasure. The message on the televisor following these was that it was only by the intercession of the Scudder that the darkness was lifted.”

“Sounds as if no matter what we do, we’re going to give them a chance to count coup,” Danny said. “If the miracle of the sun occurs, the Scudder will claim credit; if we block it, and later remove the block, the Scudder will claim credit.”

“Unless we show them a boxy aeroplane without wings, and let them know—”

“Is this the time to do that?”

“Showing a shuttle to the general population might not be problematic; however, until we know more about the Inquisitors, we must not reveal our technology to anyone.” I reminded them of one of the prime directives, and gently vetoed that idea.

 

It took the team about an hour to come up with a way to block the miracle, but one that left a gaping hole—and by that, I didn’t mean a rift. “We need to know what’s going on at ground zero,” I said. “We need someone on the ground at the South Rim.”

The question of humint had come up, again. And I was afraid that this time, there would be no way to avoid it.

“Maybe we don’t need someone on the ground,” Bobby said. “We could let them see an aeroplane with wings. They do have aeroplanes, you know.”

“Do you think we can make a Spad and train a pilot in just a couple of days?”

“No, but there’s the Enterprise VII,” Bobby said. “We went there on a field trip. All of her aircraft are operational, including the replicas from the Franco-German War, and the Lafayette Escadrille, and they all have AG drive.”

 

After the meeting broke up, I saw Cam corner John.

“What you said after the videos of eclipses,” Cam said to John. “You were quoting something.”

“A book written by the man for whom I was named: John of Patmos.”

“I would like to know more,” Cam said.

John nodded.

Cam thinks and senses more deeply than any of us, I thought. When he is older, he will become the leader of the metas and the Geeks. I wasn’t quite sure what I thought about that, but knew it was something I’d have to address.

 

When I called Admiral Davis to request air support from Enterprise VII he agreed that this exceeded my authority. “Especially since all the pilots are reservists or retirees. On the other hand, they are all reservists or retirees, so there should be no difficulty getting volunteers,” he said. “Good idea—shows someone is thinking.”

“I’ll pass that on, sir,” I said. “It came out of a team meeting.” Privately, I resolved to give Bobby an extra big hug.

 

Less than a day later, we got word that Enterprise VIII was en route to our position. “Be prepared to transfer large cargo and personnel,” read the brief message from Geneva Main.

 

2009-03-02 USF Enterprise
at USF Charleston

I felt a quiver in my tummy when Enterprise pulled alongside the Charleston. Enterprise had been my first ship-borne assignment—when I was a six-year-old Cadet (j.g.) who had been in Fleet for only a few months—and it was an experience that I would never forget. I still wore the battle ribbon from Jamnagar. I knew that the captain was not the man who had commanded the ship fourteen years ago, but I wondered if there were anyone on board I knew. Of course, they’d not remember me. On the other hand . . .

“Tobor? Is Phillip Moore still . . .”

“Yes, Paul. He is a Lieutenant j.g., and a staff officer.”

“Thank you.”

There was a question in my mind that Tobor could not help me answer: Should I ask him to visit? Can I make him remember me? Should I?

 

The crew of the two battleships were prepared to handle the transfer of the antique aircraft from ship to ship; a shuttle had been launched to bring the pilots to Charleston; there was nothing for me to do but . . .

“Comm? My compliments to the Captain of USF Enterprise and would he join me for coffee and, if it fits the duty schedule, would he bring his exec and the Ship’s Senior Chief, as well as Lt. Phillip Moore? I’ll invite Captain Moultrie.”

“Comm, aye.”

 

Captain Moultrie greeted Captain Howard on the flight deck, and escorted him and his staff to the Flag Bridge where I was waiting with several members of the Intel Team.

Captain Moultrie began the introductions. “Commodore Stewart, I’m happy to introduce an old friend and classmate from Fleet School Sydney, Captain Jack Howard.”

“Captain Howard, a pleasure. Thank you for responding so quickly to what must have seemed an unusual request.” I held out my hand.

“You’re welcome, Commodore. Admiral Davis wouldn’t explain . . .” He heard a giggle from one of the kids, and raised an eyebrow.

“These are members of the Flag Intel Team who will brief you and your staff on the mission for the aircraft and pilots you’ve brought us.”

Spads in space? I think, Commodore, that after today, I’ll have to find a new word to replace unusual in my vocabulary.” Captain Howard chuckled, and then turned to the men on his left whom he introduced as his XO and Ship’s Senior Chief. “And, Lieutenant Moore,” he concluded.

I shook hands with the XO and Senior Chief. I saw that Phillip didn’t recognize me, so I pushed him gently and saw his eyes widen. I pushed an image of our last night together, and managed to bring a little blush to his cheeks. He remembers, I thought. The memories were there, just suppressed.

“Phillip, it’s good to see you again. Perhaps we can take some time after the briefing, to catch up.”

“I’d like that, sir.”

It was the Chief of the Ship who spotted the battle ribbon and knew its significance. “You served on Enterprise before? And with Lt. Moore?”

“Yes, Senior Chief. I was part of the contingent from Fleet School Edmonton that got dragged into the battle of Jamnagar,” I said. “Lt. Moore and I were roommates, and stood watch together on the weapons consoles.”

 

The introductions and small talk delayed the start of the briefing, but finally we got everyone into the Flag Conference Room where coffee was waiting.

Deacon went to the lectern. He’d long ago gotten over his funk, and his voice was level and calm.

“Gentlemen, I am Cadet j.g. Pierce. The information in this briefing is classified Secret because it discusses intelligence sources and methods, as well as Fleet operational capabilities.

“You have received background information on the Reverend’s Universe.

“The Reverends’ territories present a unique challenge to modern intelligence gathering. They do not use radio, only microwave and local television broadcasts that last only about two hours a day—a few hours longer on their Sabbath or seventh day. These broadcasts are primarily propaganda, and of little intelligence value. Sigint has proven to be of little use. Their society appears to be primitive and agrarian. Imint tells us little. We are not yet prepared to put humint resources on the ground.

“You know that Task Force Rift is charged with intelligence gathering as well as guarding the rift against potential attack from the other side. Please add the understanding that Commodore Stewart has a great deal of latitude in how we interact with this universe and the Reverends. A significant aspect of that interaction will be testing their reaction to things they do not understand.

“We have begun to stir the pot a bit.

“You have seen the Funeral. What you do not know is that we seized the Reverends’ television signals, and broadcast a speech by Colonel Artie Stewart that was followed by a broadcast of the re-entry of the bodies of our brothers into the atmosphere above the Las Vegas of that universe.

“In response to the Funeral, the Reverends plan to create a miracle. They intend to replicate the Miracle of Fatima.”

Deacon punched the clicker and an artist’s rendition appeared on the screen. He explained the miracle as it had allegedly transpired.

“The Reverends plan to assemble thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of pilgrims on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. They do not have the technology to do much more than order people to look at the sun. As did those who orchestrated the original so-called miracle, they will depend on the power of suggestion as well as the natural twitching of people’s eyes if they stare at a light long enough. That people may be blinded by staring at the sun is unlikely to be any more a concern of the Reverends than it was to the Catholic hierarchy nearly 100 years ago.

“We have resolved to foil this miracle.

“We do need to be able to collect intelligence before, during, and after the events. We do not want to give the Reverends opportunity to see our shuttlecraft.

“The people of the Reverend’s universe are familiar with aircraft of the type used in our universe in the early 20th century. The aircraft from Enterprise VII are already being repainted to match markings used on the planes of the Reverends’ Army. They will be equipped with imint sensors, as well as standard shields. They will operate on their AG drives for safety, and will run engines only for the sound.

“They will be taken in a transport shuttle to the bottom of the canyon the night before the miracle is expected to occur. They will fly recon beginning at dawn. Mission planning will likely fall apart after the first hour or two, and will be done ad hoc in coordination with intel team members on the transport shuttle, which will operate as a forward command post.

“We understand that all the aircraft are equipped with operational slug-firing machine guns. Even though they will be shielded, they will be expected to defend themselves—or at least appear to do so— should they be attacked. Our opsec people believe this will help prevent the Reverends from learning about our shields and penetrating the charade.

“The aircraft will be equipped with destruction charges in the unlikely event they are forced down. Pilots will wear shielded skin suits. We will break cover if necessary to rescue a pilot, although we have plans to divert attention and mask a rescue mission.

“The two-seater aircraft will have an armed observer from our team.” He did not say that the observers would be armed with phasers; we were still keeping that technology classified.

“Are there any question?”

“Do you mind explaining how you’ll foil the miracle?” Captain Howard asked.

“We have six asteroid ore freighters filled with sand from the area around our Grand Canyon, just in case anyone’s smart enough to analyze it. Dr. Adams, Chief of CERN-Higgs will open two rifts that will pull air from higher pressure at the bottom of the canyon to lower pressure, higher in the atmosphere. The freighters will release the sand into rift at the bottom of the canyon. It will be tricky to coordinate the sand with the wind, but the freighter pilots and loadmasters assure us they can do it.

“The artificial sandstorm that will be created will mask the sun and temporarily blind the pilgrims. We will endeavor to keep the sand above the pilgrims, in order not to create permanent blindness.”

“What if they run out of sand?”

“The freighters will refill from upriver as required; there will be a continuous stream of sand for as long as the day lasts.”

After Deacon fielded several more questions, I thanked him.

After the boy had taken his seat, Captain Howard turned to me. “Outstanding briefing,” he said. “And quite a plan.”

“The plan was developed by the team members you see, as well as others just like them,” I said.

“That was a great deal more than I would expect from a cadet j.g.,” Captain Howard said. Deacon took Howard’s remark in the spirit in which it was offered. To the metas in the room, the boy literally glowed.

* * * * *

“Commodore, it’s good to see you again,” Phillip said. He stood stiffly, not quite at attention, but definitely not at ease.

“Phillip, please call me Paul. Do you remember what you said that night? You said that after the next day we might never see each other again, but that you wanted to remember me as a friend. I wanted that, too, but nature and my own fear made it impossible. You were the first person to ever offer me friendship, and I’ve never forgotten it.”

I told him a little more about the veil, and how long it had taken me to learn to control it.

“Is it too late for us to try to become friends? I know it will take some time . . .”

“I do remember,” Phillip said. “I also said we were too little to be boyfriends. I have a boyfriend, Paul.”

“So do I, Phillip. In fact, I have two, and someday, when there is time, I’d like you to meet—”

Jonathan’s bosun’s whistle from the speaker on my desk interrupted me. “Yes, Jonathan?”

“Sir, message from Geneva Main. Begin Message ‘Commodore Stewart: Enterprise now assigned to Task Force Rift.’ There’s a private message from Admiral Davis attached, sir.”

What does he know that he’s not telling me? I wondered.

That thought was interrupted by Phillip’s hug. “That’s terrific, Paul,” he said. “I think now we’ll have a chance to become friends.”

I returned the hug. Phillip was the first boy I’d ever wanted to be my friend. Now, after fourteen years, maybe it would happen.

“We’ll have to explain to your captain, I think,” I said.

“Won’t be hard,” Phillip said. “I’m on his Ops Plans Team—it won’t be difficult to convince him I should be liaison with your Flag Team.” He grinned, the same silly grin I remembered.

 

After Phillip had left, I opened the private message from Admiral Davis. “You may need these aeroplanes again; might as well keep them, and they really do belong on an Enterprise. To your team: Bravo Zulu.”

 

* * * * *

“A family dinner,” George said.

“Huh?” Danny asked.

“We’re family; Phillip was your friend when you were little. I’ll bet he thinks of his boyfriend as family, too. Anyway, a family dinner.”

I’d asked George and Danny how to introduce them to Phillip and his boyfriend. George was one of the few metas who had known a family and had a family relationship for the same reason he got caught stealing a shuttle: he was slower to develop his veil. He had been able to answer my question without thought. It was a good answer, and I asked the Flag Mess to arrange it, and sent the invitation.

The dinner was in a small dining room I didn’t even know we had. The table was set with a linen tablecloth, but all the food was in bowls and on platters that we had to pass. Once they put the food on the table, the mess stewards left us alone. Family style, George sent.

Phillip and Kenny Carter were familiar with family style, and joked about growing up in large families and having to have long arms, or starve. George and Danny and I caught the love and warmth in those memories, and enjoyed sharing them.

After supper, we went to my quarters for coffee and lemonade. George and Danny curled up on either side of me; Kenny took that as permission, and cuddled up to Phillip.

I knew Phillip was two years older than I was. George and Danny were six years younger than I was. Their fourteen was a couple of standard deviations from the norm, but as I’d explained to Corey, the age of consent was based on mental maturity, not a calendar. It didn’t bother us that Kenny was probably no older than George and Danny. All we saw was the love that Phillip and Kenny shared.

 

“I’ve never told anyone this before,” Phillip said. “I didn’t know why until the other day when you explained this mental thing you do.

“If you hadn’t taken out that Mirage fighter, there would be no Enterprise VIII—and no Phillip Moore.

“The ship was more vulnerable than we knew: the portside flight decks were all open, as were the weapons bays. If the Mirage’s weapon had gone off, the ship would have been destroyed.

“Daddy got a commendation. I always knew that he was puzzled about that. That medal should have gone to you.”

“It did,” I said. “But not the way you think. It came back to me three days ago when you remembered who I was, and said that we might try, once again to be friends. It came back to me tonight when I felt your happiness and love for Kenny.”

 

Inquisitors’ Response to Fatima Plan

“They will proceed with this show?”

The Colonel-General of the Inquisition had convened his staff, save for a young lieutenant who was, at this moment, in Chicago having his eyes and mind opened by a Jewish scientist named Oppenheimer.

“There is every indication they will,” one of the majors said. “It’s been pushed on the Scudder’s televisor messages for the past ten days. The Army has been called out to provide logistics, and has already moved troops, armored motorcars, tank trucks of water, and boxcars of food, to the south rim of the canyon. Calls for pilgrims have been issued. Our guess is that they will take the entire population of several towns rather than have to decide who to take from among a town’s population.”

“You have someone on the ground?” the Colonel-General asked.

“Several, sir,” the major said. “Most are integrated into the Army support units. One will be located with binoculars about a mile from the site.”

“What if the miracle doesn’t work?” another major asked.

“The Scudder will have a few dozen towns to repopulate,” the Colonel-General said. “Is it safe to assume that the Army also has gas units?”

The major charged with oversight of the miracle nodded.

“And our observers have gas masks?”

“The ones that matter.”

“And the people with the boxy aeroplanes? How will they see this? And what will be their response?” The only remaining lieutenant on the staff asked.

“What? What makes you think—” one of the colonels said before being interrupted by the Colonel-General.

“Perhaps the most astute question asked, today,” he said. He gestured to the lieutenant. “Proceed.”

The lieutenant had thought this through carefully, and was prepared.

“It’s been only a few weeks since they overpowered the televisor signal and broadcast their message. A few days later they overpowered it again and broadcast the fire from the sky. If they can overpower the signal, they can monitor it. If they can monitor it, they know what the Reverends’ Council and the Scudder are planning.”

“What about it?” a colonel asked.

Why would they care is the real question,” the lieutenant said. It was risky, but he was sure he was right. “Why would they care if people knew their version of the Battle of Las Vegas? Why would they care if people knew that the fire in the sky was created by them and represented the bodies of children killed by the Army? Why would they care if the Scudder passed his own miracle?”

He paused. The Colonel-General knew the answer, and smiled inwardly. “Suppose you tell us, Lieutenant Riggs.”

“Because they are going to invade, and they want the people on their side. They want the people on their side more than they fear the Army knowing about them, more than they fear the Reverends knowing about them.”

“And us?” one of the colonels asked.

“We may hope that they do not know about us,” the Colonel-General said. “At least, that they do not know all there is to know about us.

“We are in agreement, then?” the Colonel-General asked. It was a rhetorical question, but he knew it made the others less likely to object if they felt they were part of the process and the decisionmaking.

“We will allow the Reverends Council and the Scudder to go ahead with this show. We will have agents among the crowd; we will have agents making a televisor recording. We will have a contingent of our Jewish scientists present with whatever detection and recording equipment they can bring. We will be silent and invisible unless an unequivocal opportunity presents itself to capture one of the boxy aeroplanes, which we believe will be present to foil the miracle.”

 

Chapter End Notes: Quotations from the Bible are from the King James Version of Earth Analogues I and III except where noted as being from the Reverends’ Standard Version (RSV) (Earth Analogue II).

Copyright © 2014 David McLeod; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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