Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From the Unpublished Memoirs of Allen Keller.

January 2008

I hate ceremonies.

When I was in the Army I would find something that absolutely had to be done that very day so I wouldn't have to show up for the payday formation and any other ceremony that the C.O. would lay on for that day. Seriously, I would rather skip my own wedding if I could get away with it. (Fat chance on getting married).[1] And as a Randroid [2] you can only imagine how I feel about attending a Christian funeral service. Fortunately I really didn't have to. It wasn't my uncle who was being buried.

Most people have no idea how FU's [3] funeral service at Westminster Abbey came to being a total clusterfuck.

They had to bring in the vicar from FU's district [4] in Southampton to officiate. Most of the senior Anglican clergy, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, who very thoroughly loathed FU wanted no part of the whole affair. My (lack of) God! What a fucking waste of mass and energy! The current Archbishop of Canterbury would rather quote from Marx and Engels than from Jesus Christ and he'd rather do a blowjob on an Ayatollah or a Soviet Commissar than say a kind word about Western Civilization.

I once asked Corder [5] if anything could be done about that idiot and he said that offing a member of the clergy was still considered to be bad form. Really?! That Becket mess was how long ago?! Sure, they can pop a pesky journalist, but lay hands on a turbulent priest? No way!

Of course as an atheist I really shouldn't care. But if someone is going to do something they should do to properly. The Universe is supposed to make sense. Where is General Loan [6] when we really need him?

The local anarchists and other trash were of course were planning to disrupt the funeral. The security services were working overtime to preemptively disrupt those assholes. No proper arrests. Just a few convenient drug overdoses, suicides, and one case of "revolutionary justice.'

I asked Corder if I could help out. He said no. Spoilsport.

JAM [7] got to sit with his Aunt Elizabeth and other family members, ahead of Dubya [8] and the other heads of state, and the cabinet ministers and, and the other MP's, and a bunch of Lords and Ladies. [9] There was no space in Westminster Abbey for a mere henchman like me. I ended up watching the whole thing on the TV with Lady Lackland at her place. So I can't say that the trip was a complete waste.

Did I mention the fact that I hate ceremonies?

1. Allen Keller would eventually marry Marlene Lackland in February of 2010.
2. The correct pejorative term for an Objectivist.
3. Sir Francis Urquhart, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the uncle of President John
Andrew March of the United States.
4. Keller is using the American term for a parliamentary district.
5. A senior member of the British security services. In most conspiracy theories believed to be the head of Urquhart's goon squad.
6. South Vietnamese general officer who performed a summary execution of a illegal combatant and murderer in front of a newsreel camera during the Tet Offensive.
7. John Andrew March.
8. President George W. Bush of the United States.
9. Members of Parliament.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Quote of the Day

When your primary instruments of policy are fusion bombs your problems end up looking like Moscow and Mecca.

-- Admiral Elizabeth Weymouth


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quotes of the Day

"Ideology is the story that we tell ourselves... that what we are doing is right... and that it turn out well for us in the end."

-- John Andrew March, surveillance transcript, MI-5 Archive

"Politics is inherently violent, the best that we can do is limit the damage."

-- Ibid


Monday, October 27, 2008


Note: One of the problems with writing fan fiction is that sometimes one can come up with a better story. I'll have to incorporate stuff from THE WAY OF BEING into the background of this one.


by Leslie Bates

Chapter One

The klaxon suddenly woke her up.

As she came to consciousness she could hear the voice of a slightly annoyed young man announcing something.


The ship’s klaxon sounded again.

It took her a moment to remember that her name was Joan Sherman, and that she was a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in the Navy of the Republic of Freya.

Oh, and that she was also the captain of the Freya Navy Ship Reliable.

Joan donned and zipped up her gray shipboard jumpsuit. She didn’t bother to put on any shoes before punching the button that opened the door of her tiny cabin.

The first thing Joan noticed as she stepped onto the cramped bridge of the Reliable was that there were no stars, planets, or other bodies visible in the forward windows. There was only the unlit dull gray of Jumpspace.

There was no real emergency, only a randomly scheduled battle drill.

But as the captain Joan still had to play her role in the exercise.

There were three other people on the bridge when she entered it.

Sitting in the pilot’s seat was the executive officer, Ensign Hal Banning. At the fire control station running a simulation of the tactical scenario was the gunner, Petty Officer Third Class Jim Ripley. He was only wearing the tee shirt and boxer shorts that he normally slept in.

Standing on deck was the Chief of the Boat.

Normally a vessel such as the Reliable, an elderly Swift class multi-mission sloop, one of the smallest craft capable of transiting Jumpspace, would only rate a Petty Officer Third Class, or Second Class at best, as the senior noncommissioned officer on board.

The Republic of Freya Navy had very politely asked a retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Freya Colonial Space Guard, the predecessor service to the Navy, to come out of retirement for one year. Dennis Compton wasn’t quite old enough to be Lieutenant Sherman’s grandfather, but he was fairly close to it.

It was time for the captain to speak.

“What’s the situation?”

Master Chief Petty Officer Compton replied.

“Captain, we have a Federation Tango class patrol ship on an intercept vector to us.” He said. “We are running evasive maneuvers.”

“What the hell do they want?” Said the Lieutenant.

“They want us to surrender.” Said the Master Chief.

Up until about five years ago the Federation was the coalition of English speaking nations and their allies who held political domination over the Earth. The eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano brought an abrupt end to it. With the Federation capital buried under several meters of volcanic ash and anyone who could not leave the planet dying of starvation or killed in the vast planetwide food riot the Federation as an effective political entity was dead.

But the vast fleet of starships paid for by ten billion no longer living taxpayers still existed. Some of those ships were still operated by the coalition of core colonies that claimed to be the continuation of the Federation. Some ships went to those worlds who put in the highest bid for their services. Others simply went pirate.

And some of those had already attacked the Freyani homeworld.

The Tango class patrol ship had four times the size, mass, and firepower of the Reliable and had twice the acceleration. In a fight with conventional weapons the Reliable would lose.

But it didn’t really matter who was in control of the attacking ship. Surrender was simply not an option.

“We are not going to surrender.” She said. “Load the Bird.”

It wasn’t a technically correct order but the gunner understood it clearly.

“Load Mark Two anti-ship weapon, aye, aye.” He replied.

The Reliable carried a single triple weapon turret fitted in what the Freyan Navy called the Bravo configuration. Two beam lasers rated at 750 megawatts each, and a single missile launcher. The missile launcher normally carried three of the Mark One anti-ship missiles in the ready rack.

A basic anti-ship missile such as the Freyan Navy Mark One was a kinetic energy kill system. The warhead was a segmented mass of steel with a bursting charge to scatter the fragments should the missile’s guidance system fail to achieve a direct dead-on impact on the target.

But it was understood by the political and military leaders of the Republic of Freya that not all of their patrol vessels would have the upper hand in every situation. Thus a “battery-round”, which was one weapon per launcher, of Mark Two anti-ship weapons would be issued to each patrol ship regardless of its size.

The Mark Two anti-ship weapon carried a five kiloton boosted fission nuclear warhead. In the parlance of the patrol forces of the Freyan Navy it was called The Bird or The Finger. It was simply the weapon of last resort.

In the aft section of the ship in the accessway to the single turret the rest of the crew practiced the loading procedure with blue painted inert practice rounds.

On the bridge Lieutenant Sherman turned to the Master Chief and gave him an order.

“Chief of the Boat, unlock the safe.” She said.

“Unlock the safe, aye, aye.” He replied.

On the aft end of the bridge a bright and shiny box was bolted to the bulkhead. The Master Chief dialed the combination of mechanical lock on the box. With the final click of the lock he opened the box, reached in and picked out one of the two manila
envelopes in the box. The first envelope was marked with a red stripe and sealed with red colored wax. The other envelope had no markings and was merely closed with the flap in.

The Master Chief picked out the second envelope and handed it to Lieutenant Sherman.

Joan opened the envelope and removed the practice arming key for the Mark Two anti-ship weapon. She turned to the ship’s gunner and spoke.

“Fire Control, what is the status of the Mark Two?”

“Captain,” he said, “I show the Mark Two loaded and ready to launch. Firing solution is laid in.”

“I am arming the weapon.” She replied.

Lieutenant Sherman turned and stepped towards the pilot’s station.

On top of the forward control panel between the pilot’s and co-pilot/navigator’s seats was bolted a small shiny box with two key slots and red and a yellow light. Joan inserted the key into the slot under the yellow light.

“I am arming the weapon.” She said.

She turned the key and the yellow light lit up.

“Captain.” Said the Gunner. “I show the weapon is armed.”

“Launch weapon.” Lieutenant Sherman ordered.

“Launch weapon, aye, aye!” The Gunner replied.

The Gunner pressed a button and watched the results on the fire control display.

“Weapon away!” he yelled.

Joan heard the click of a stopwatch being stopped. She turned to the Master Chief to see that he had pulled the stopwatch from a pocket in his shipboard jumpsuit.

“How did we do?” She asked the Master Chief.

“We passed, Ma’am.” He replied.

“And?” She said.

“We could do better, Ma’am.” Said the Master Chief.

Ensign Banning in the pilot’s seat failed to suppress his own groan.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

"There is no such thing as an Ubermensch. There are only deluded fools who believe that they are superior beings."

-- Patricia Weymouth-Clarke, President of the Ursa Major Confederation


Friday, October 17, 2008

Quote of the Day

"When one makes a bloodcurdling statement one should not have to also say. 'and I mean it!'"

-- Ashleigh Dahl, The Path of Empire

Monday, October 06, 2008

Quotes of the Day

The Universe doesn't care how neat your theory is.

-- Professor Simon Weymouth, on book tour for The End of Utopia, 2101.

Martians (colonists) take pride in their work, of course Martians actually do work.

-- Elizabeth Anderson, Chief Administrator, Hellas City, Mars. Quoted in the Report on the Failure of the Utopia Planitia Colony, 2095.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Way Of Being, Chapter Two

The Way of Being

By Leslie Bates

Chapter Two

“There are those who believe that they are superior intellects. They choose to believe things which are often contrary to good old common sense. And of course they believe that the rest of us would benefit from listening to them drone on and on about what they believe ... in the aftermath of the loss of the third Mars Direct mission these voices, which had largely been silent since the end of the Final War, rose up and spoke as one saying that we, the Human race, should not waste any further effort in exploring and colonizing other planets until all our problems on Earth were solved. This, given the usual ideology of the self-appointed superior intellects, was taken to mean the establishment of the global socialist collective ... My Uncle John’s* answer to them was that we will NEVER solve all of our actual problems on Earth. And not only should we NOT bet the future of Humanity on the Final Peace actually being final, we should also note that we live in a dynamic universe and that unstoppable extinction events are still possible. Therefore it is absolutely essential that we establish permanent self-sustaining Human communities off of the Earth. On other planets of the Solar System and ultimately on the planets of other stars in our galaxy.”

– Francis Harding, Fifth President of the Federation

Lieutenant Elizabeth Adams, the Captain (Gold Crew) of the Freya Colonial Space Guard Ship Reliable, finished her second set of fifty push-ups for the day and turned over to do her second set of fifty sit-ups, this in turn would be followed by a run on the ship’s treadmill. Doing two sets of exercises a day was not as much a matter of diligence on her part as it was more a means of relieving the inherent boredom of performing a patrol in space.

But it didn’t hurt her either.

The exercise routine also allowed Elizabeth to mentally focus on something other than the most recent message from her mother announcing the birth of a son to her youngest sister Hannah and the often repeated question of when she was going to leave the Space Guard and get married.

Elizabeth Adams was the third of five sisters. Colonial families, even well off upper class families like hers, were generally larger than the families who remained on Earth. But was it really necessary for her to marry and add her own brood to the new generation of colonists as well?

And who the hell was she going to marry anyway?

Lieutenant Adams was called to the bridge before she finished her run on the treadmill. She folded the treadmill back into its stowage slot, grabbed her towel, and wiped off the sweat as she walked to the bridge.

It wasn’t a long walk. The Reliable was a Swift Class multi-mission sloop that the Freya Project had purchased second hand from the Federation Space Force. At 1400 cubic meters in volume the Swift was smallest standard vessel that could generate a stable jump field. And of course the designers would try to stuff as many components as possible into the tiny flattened bottle shape of the hull.

Elizabeth stepped through the sliding hatch onto the bridge. Standing watch on the bridge was the Chief of the Boat. As a general rule he preferred to sit in the navigator’s seat on the right side of cramped control space of the Reliable.

“What do you got, Chief?” Said the Lieutenant.

“Emergence from jumpspace.” Said the Chief. “It’s a two-hundred tonner. Transponder signal says it’s a space force Ashland class.”

Elizabeth picked up the clipboard she kept by the pilot’s seat and searched through the collected notes on it.

“It should be one of the ships carrying the new Governor General of Loki and his party.” Said the Lieutenant. “Transmit the greeting as planned.”

“Should we mention what’s been going on dirtside?” Said the Chief.

“No.” Said Elizabeth. I think he will far more pissed off if it is a complete surprise.”


The Meridian appeared after only six hours and forty-five minutes.

The immense disk of the Meridian was the first to settle on it’s landing legs at the primitive landing facility on Loki. There wasn’t much to the facility, which by the standards of the Federation only qualified as Class E, the lowest rating for an actual starport.

The control tower was a tiny room jutting out of the small whitewashed concrete block building that served as the administration building and terminal with three picture windows that slanted inward. The landing pad was little more than a cleared area that was covered over with gravel. There were also three sheet steel structures constructed as warehouses but with no wares to house.

What passed for a refueling facility was a small pump and a pipe to the nearest small lake. A visiting ship’s onboard fuel purification plant would have to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen and other contaminants.

The barely streamlined brick of the Epping Forest circled the field before she made her landing. She was about one third the size of the Meridian.

The manager of the starport floated his air raft, a gravitic descendent of the Jeep, out to the debarkation ramp of the Meridian. He settled the air raft onto the gravel and jumped out and strode confidently over to the large and obvious authority figure in civilian clothes who was the first to debark from the Meridian.

“Good afternoon, Governor General,” said the starport manager, “I’m Lloyd Robertson, the starport manager. Welcome to Loki, sir!”

The large obvious authority figure went into a fit of booming laughter.

“Um...” the starport manager ummed.

“Sergeant Major Anatoly Stedenko.” The large man introduced himself with an obvious Russian accent. “Formerly of the 58th Security Police Battalion out of Smolensk.”

Lloyd the starport manager stared.

“The Old Man asked me to come along when he got the job. He’s over on the Epping Forest.” Said the retired Sergeant Major.

“If you run over to it now you should catch him before he disembarks.”

Stedenko laughed again as the hapless starport manager leapt back into his air raft to speed over to the Epping Forest.

* John Andrew March, Founder and First President of the Federation. He was not actually an uncle to Francis Harding, the son of British Prime Minister Sarah Harding, but there are some grounds to believe that John and Francis were actually biological cousins.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Quote of the Day

"A Carthaginian Peace is better than no peace at all."

-- John Andrew March, Last President of the United States and First President of the Federation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yes/ I'm still working on it.


Most entertainment programs that depicted battles in space, even in the early twelfth century of the Third Imperium, showed combat as a rapid-fire slugfest at ultra close range. In reality any ship’s captain who brought his ship close enough to be visible to the naked eye would be summarily removed from command and cashiered for incompetence. Assuming of course that he survived the battle.

Actual combat in space was about as interesting as watching paint dry. Except of course for the fact that the freshly applied coat of paint wasn’t desperately trying to locate and kill you.


The problem with reconfigurable holographic control panels was that they had no knobs to twiddle. Ditzie liked to twiddle knobs on control panels. It was fun. Especially when there was an adult around to complain about her twiddling the knobs.

"Those are platinum coated knobs, miss!" One of them once said with a something resembling a Cockney accent. Ditzie had only a vague idea what planet that fellow was from.


Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Friday!

It's also Talk Like an Ethically Challenged Merchant Day here on Terra.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Another Ship

Ship: Epping Forest
Class: Ashland
Type: Free Trader/Light Transport
Architect: Lockheed Martin
Tech Level: 9

A-2211111-020000-10000-0 MCr 76.238 200 Tons
Bat Bear 2 2 Crew: 6
Bat 2 2 TL: 9

Cargo: 60 Passengers: 7 Fuel: 44 EP: 2 Agility: 0
Fuel Treatment: Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purification
Architects Fee: MCr 0.762 Cost in Quantity: MCr 60.990

Detailed Description

HULL: 200 tons standard, 2,800 cubic meters, Cone/Basic Streamlined Configuration

CREW: Pilot, Engineer, Steward, Medic, 2 Gunners
ENGINEERING: Jump-1, 1G Manuever, Power plant-1, 2 EP, Agility 0
AVIONICS: Bridge, Model/1 Computer
ARMAMENT: 2 Triple Mixed Turrets each with: 1 Pulse Laser (Factor-1), 2 Sandcasters (Factor-2)
FUEL: 44 Tons Fuel (2 parsecs jump and 56 days endurance)
On Board Fuel Scoops, On Board Fuel Purification Plant
MISCELLANEOUS: 10 Staterooms, 20 Low Berths, 6 High Passengers, 60 Tons Cargo
COST: MCr 77.000 Singly (incl. Architects fees of MCr 0.762), MCr 60.990 in Quantity
CONSTRUCTION TIME: 57 Weeks Singly, 46 Weeks in Quantity
COMMENTS: Standard light utility transport of the Federation Space Force. Surplus Units have been sold into civilian operation as free traders.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Boycott Uncle Hugo's

I will no longer do business with Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore in Minneapolis.

I picked up the latest issue of the bookstore's newsletter at my P.O. box. After announcing that they were having a sale on used books someone inserted this charming paragraph:

We hope you can get here the first weekend, before the RNC begins, but who knows about the period while the RNC is in town. We suggest that you stop thinking of the RNC as the Republican National Convention and instead think of it as the Republican National Circus, with one team of clowns performing inside the convention center and a different team of clowns performing on the streets outside the convention center.

They have a right to their own opinion, regardless of how utterly distorted it is.

They do not have a right to my custom.

I've been doing business with them for three decades. Never again will I step into that store.

I would suggest a long term metaphysical destination for them but I have no reason to believe in the existence of Hell.

What are your questions on this block of instruction?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Way Of Being, Chapter One

The Way of Being

By Leslie Bates

Chapter One

March 5, 2150

10 Ursae Majoris System

The Federation Ship Epping Forest dropped into normal space off of Loki, the fourth planet of 10 Ursae Majoris A. Like most vessels in the service of the Federation Space Force she was armed. But she was not a proper warship, merely an armed transport. Even so she was not flying alone on this trip.

On the bridge of the Epping Forest the command pilot, Major Franz Bergmann, softly cursed in his native German. Like all citizens and officers of the Federation, Bergmann was fluent in Standard Anglic, he just didn’t want the curse to be understood.

The problem was that the other vessel in the two ship convoy, a chartered liner named Meridian had not yet reentered normal space with the Epping Forest.

Bergmann rechecked the status display, cursed again, and then turned to the young lady who was his executive officer.

“We will wait here until Meridian drops in.” He said. “Watch the shop.”

“Yes sir.” Said the Exec.

As Bergmann turned to exit the Bridge the communications panel chirped.

Bergmann turned back to see the Executive Officer reading the message from her station.

“It’s a Freyani patrol ship,” she said, “they’re asking if we require assistance.”

For a moment Major Bergmann contemplated the damage the tiny colonial patrol ship could do to a space going piece of junk like the Meridian.

“Tell them ‘no’”, said Bergmann. “But think them for the offer.”

Bergmann exited the bridge.

On the civilian version of the Ashland class transport the next compartment would be the forward passenger lounge, with the crew lounge in a separate compartment just forward of the engineering spaces. On the Space Force version there was no separation between the crew and passenger spaces as in most cases the few passengers who flew on military transports were members of the Federation Armed Forces.

Except on this trip they were carrying a V.I.P., the newly appointed Governor of the planet Loki.

Ian March Weymouth was a descendant of the founder of the Federation and as a child of privilege he would have been expected to travel out to Loki on the chartered liner Meridian. Instead he chose to take a cabin on the Epping Forest because he felt more comfortable on a military transport than on a civilian liner. But then Weymouth was not a normal child of privilege.

Unlike many members of upper class families, who would drink and otherwise party their way through elite universities, Ian Weymouth chose to enlist in the Regular Army of the Federation and served out the full twenty years to retirement. And though he retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, Weymouth did not neglect his own education, earning a Doctorate in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.

So when the Federation President decided to appoint a Governor for the planet Loki, Ian Weymouth stood at the top of the list of candidates.

In the crew lounge Major Bergmann found the newly appointed Governor attacking a small pile of scrambled eggs with melted cheese sauce, hash brown potatoes, and toast.

Weymouth took a sip from his cup of coffee, and then spoke.

“Good morning Major,” he said. “I take it that we’ve arrived in the system?”

“Yes, sir.” Said Major Bergmann. “We are still waiting for the Meridian.”

“I’ll bet it’s going to be another sixteen hours.” Said Ian. “That would be a reasonable assumption, sir.” Bergmann replied, politely declining to cover the wager.

“Right.” Said Ian.

Before Major Bergmann could turn around the aft door to the lounge slid open and two Federation Marines entered the crew lounge and moved straight to the breakfast buffet line. First Lieutenant Otomo and Gunnery Sergeant Burnette headed up the Marine Security Detachment for the new Governor of Loki.

“Good morning, Skipper.” Said Lieutenant Otomo.

“Good morning, Lieutenant.” Replied Major Bergmann as he picked up a tray and joined the two marines in the buffet line.

“We’re waiting for the Meridian again, sir?” Said the Gunnery Sergeant.

“Afraid so, Gunny.” Said Bergmann.

Major Bergmann watched as both marines heaped scrambled eggs, and other stuff on to the plates on their trays. Lieutenant Otomo piled on sausage patties and hash browns, and Gunnery Sergeant Burnette opted for bacon and grits.

“I’d bet that its going to be another sixteen hours before they drop out of jump, sir.” Said Lieutenant Otomo.

“That would be a reasonable assumption, Lieutenant.” Bergmann replied, again declining to cover the wager.

Major Bergmann picked up a plate and started piling his breakfast on it. Scrambled eggs, corned beef hash, and hash browns, all covered with melted cheese sauce.

The three officers sat down at the table with the Governor and proceeded to devour their morning meals.

“So was there anything else of note, Major?” Ian asked.

“The Freyani are still running an anti-piracy patrol, sir.”

Freya was the other inhabitable world in the 10 Ursae Majoris system. It orbited the G5 binary companion of 10 Uma.

The people who colonized Freya believed in Laissez Faire Capitalism and being armed to the teeth. And they had no love whatsoever for the small band of “Apostolic Socialists” who had settled on Loki.

“I don’t understand why the Freyans would run a patrol over Loki, sir.” Said Lieutenant Otomo. “Don’t they hate each other?”

“They do.” Said Ian. “That’s why the Freyani are running the anti-piracy patrol.”

“It means, sir,” said Gunnery Sergeant Burnette, “that we are going to have a very interesting deployment.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Patrol Ship

I took a pencil sketch and fiddled with it in Photoshop.

This is the Freya Colonial Space Guard ship Reliable. The "S057" is her number in the Federation civil ships registry.

Here are the stats:

Ship: Reliable
Class: Type S-1A
Type: Scout/Courier
Architect: Lockheed Martin
Tech Level: 9

S-11122R1-020000-10000-0 MCr 50.238 100 Tons
Bat Bear 1 1 Crew: 2
Bat 1 1 TL: 9

Cargo: 12 Fuel: 24 EP: 2 Agility: 1 Pulse Lasers
Craft: 1 x 4 Ton Air/Raft
Fuel Treatment: Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purification

Architects Fee: MCr 0.496 Cost in Quantity: MCr 40.310

Detailed Description

HULL: 100 tons standard, Needle/Wedge Configuration
CREW: Pilot, Gunner,
ENGINEERING: Jump-1, 2G Manuever, Power plant-2, 2 EP, Agility 1
AVIONICS: Bridge, Model/1bis Computer
ARMAMENT: 1 Triple Mixed Turret with: 1 Pulse Laser (Factor-1).
DEFENCES: 1 Dual Sandcaster Turret organised into 1 Battery (Factor-2)
CRAFT: 1 x 4 ton Air/Raft (Cost of MCr 0.600)
FUEL: 24 Tons Fuel (2 parsecs jump and 56 days endurance)
On Board Fuel Scoops, On Board Fuel Purification Plant
MISCELLANEOUS: 4 Staterooms, 12 Tons Cargo
COST: MCr 50.134 Singly (incl. Architects fees of MCr 0.496), MCr 39.710 in Quantity, plus MCr 0.600 of Carried Craft
CONSTRUCTION TIME: 38 Weeks Singly, 30 Weeks in Quantity

COMMENTS: Reliable is one of four surplus Scout/Couriers in service with the Freya Colonial Space Guard. The others are Resolution, Resister, and Red-Shift.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Just a reminder.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Way Of Being, Prologue

The Way of Being

By Leslie Bates


[Author’s note: While I’ve borrowed characters from the Urquhart Trilogy certain events happened differently or did not happen at all. Obviously the conflict that drove TO PLAY THE KING didn’t happen and whatever financial mischief that occurred in THE FINAL CUT was rendered irrelevant by the so-called Final War. And of course LEGACY never happened. No, I can’t say what happened to the tape. –LB.]

It was cold in the ruins of Moscow.

Yes, Russian winters were a bitch. But Allen Keller had experienced colder days in his native state of Minnesota. He was dressed comfortably for the morning’s event. Of course not everyone was as sensibly prepared for the weather and there was no shortage of whining, moaning, and groaning about it.

Standing with a military honor guard at a gap in the rubble that was once the wall of the Kremlin, Allen Keller waited for the last official delegation to arrive. There was a time when he would have expected the Italians to be late to today’s event but the only word they seemed to use these days was “Avanti!” Of course after the Vatican and most of Rome had gone up in a cloud of radioactive smoke this should not have been a surprise.

It had been years since a main force unit of the alliance, now known as the Omaha Pact, clashed with any organized opposition. But there were still insurgents and bandits to deal with in the territories controlled by the Omaha Pact.

A lifetime ago, when he was a mere rifleman on a grass cutting detail in the United States Army, Keller had once joked that his role in the big NATO war plan was to cut the grass around Red Square for the great NATO victory parade. Of course back then the Soviet Union was something to be feared. And if it was possible to win in a global nuclear was it would be the Soviet Union that emerged as the victor.

In a way that old joke was somewhat prescient. Not that there was grass to be cut, certainly not in the middle of a Russian winter, but that Allen Keller was in charge of the event that would bring to an official end to the final global war on the planet Earth.

And it wasn’t really a ceremony, only a simple act of justice followed by a simple act of disposal.

The chill air efficiently carried the sound of the last motorcade to enter the vast plowed expanse of Red Square. The sergeant in charge the honor guard called his troops to attention as the line of Humvees approached the former gate of the Kremlin.

The sergeant called out the command to present arms as the motorcade came to a stop. The rear seat doors of two of the Humvees were opened and a man and woman emerged from each of the vehicles. Keller greeted them as they approached. He nodded his head in a barely perceivable manner to the former occupants of the first Humvee.

“Your Majesty, Madame Prime Minister.” Said Keller.

King William the Fifth had inherited the position of Monarch of the United Kingdom when his grandmother, the Queen, his father, The Prince of Wales, and both houses of Parliament were effectively vaporized on the first day of the Final War. His prime minister, Sarah Harding, had been the protegee of Conservative Prime Minister Francis Urquhart and had been in Oxford attempting to reconcile with her estranged husband on the day the war started. A task made more difficult by her visible state of pregnancy at that time. However this didn’t stop her from inheriting Urquhart’s political machine and thus effective control of the United Kingdom, and bringing it into the Omaha Pact.

Keller then turned to greet the occupants of the other Humvee.

“Lady Urquhart, Commander Corder.”

The wife of Prime Minister Urquhart and his chief hatchet man were at the Urquhart estate in Southampton on the day the war started. Keller had his own suspicions as to what they were doing but he sensibly kept those to himself.

“If you will follow me, please.” Said Keller.

He led the official British delegation and the honor guard through the charred and shattered ruins of the Kremlin to a large heated tent next to a cleared area. He let the official delegation in before he entered the tent himself.

Upon entering the tent Allen Keller walked over to his boss, the President of the United States and Chairman of the Council of the Omaha Pact, John Andrew March.

“Everything is ready, sir.” He said.

“Let’s do it.” The President and Chairman replied.

Outside of the tent a set of bleachers had been set up. In front of the bleachers was a pile of wood that had been salvaged from the ruins of Moscow, some soldiers, and a Ford van that had been painted in army green.

When the official delegations of all the members of the Omaha Pact had taken their place in the bleachers behind President March, Allen Keller stepped forward, turned to the soldiers by the van and spoke clearly.


The side door of the van was opened and the soldiers reached in. Out of the van they dragged a white haired man in the tattered remains of a tailored suit. He had been bound and gagged. There would be no final words for him. The old man was dragged over and dropped on his knees before Allen Keller.

Keller spoke.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.”

Putin glared up at Keller.

“You have been identified as an Enemy of Mankind. You are to be dealt with as such.”

A soldier in a black mask stepped up behind Putin, drew a Soviet era Markarov pistol from a holster, aimed at the back of the head, and fired one round in the old Soviet style.

Putin fell forward. Dead.

Other soldiers now stepped forward. They lifted up the corpse of Putin and laid it out face down on the pile of wood. Upon the body they placed the blood-red banner of the Soviet Union and then piled more wood on top. At the bottom of the funeral pyre volumes of Marxist literature and ancient copies of Pravda pulled from libraries and museums were laid down as kindling. One of the soldiers brought out a lighter and set an ancient sheet of newsprint aflame. Shortly thereafter the entire pyre was on fire.

The official delegations returned to their Humvees and drove to the airport. There was one more stop to make, one more act to witness, before everyone could return home.

With the end of one age comes the beginning of the next era.

At Cape Canaveral a massive rocket lifted off from the newly constructed Launch Pad 39-D. Aboard it was the Earth Return Vehicle for the first manned mission to the planet Mars. On it’s side was painted not the flag of any nation, but a flag with a white star within a white wreath on a blue field. The banner of the Omaha Pact. In two years another spacecraft would go out, it’s four-person crew would place human footprints upon the Martian surface for the first time.

There would further missions to Mars and other planets. There would be bases and permanent settlements to ensure that Humanity would not be trapped on one world and condemned to extinction. There would be new technologies such as fusion power, anti-gravity, reactionless thrusters, and ultimately the jump drive, which would take Mankind to the stars.

On that cold day in the ruins of the Kremlin someone within earshot of President and Chairman John March had said that world peace had finally been achieved.

March turned around and said. “Oh? Really?”


Monday, August 11, 2008

Quote of the Day

I've been putting this off for a while but I thought it would be a good time to do it now:

When the nations of the Omaha Pact came upon the smoking ruins of Moscow they decided to make an example that would be remembered through the ages.

The glassy ruins of the Kremlin were left intact. The forces of the Omaha Pact proceeded to demolish every whole structure or fragment of a structure within one hundred miles, not kilometers, miles of the Kremlin. Every brick was separated and smashed into small pieces, and every scrap of wood was burned to ashes. Every tree was cut down and uprooted and with every other form of plant life was also burned to ashes. When this task completed all the ground within one hundred miles of the ruins of the Kremlin was sown with salt.

While tourist groups are now brought across the Death Zone to view the ruins of the Kremlin, which remains as a monument to the evils of the Russian State, any unauthorized person, usually an ethnic Russian, found within the Death Zone is summarily executed and is covered with salt, lest the remains decay and renew the soil where he fell.

-- The History of the Omaha Pact, Joseph Douglas, University of Minnesota Press, 2150.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008


"Peace does not mean submission in the Freyani dialect of English. Some people had to learn that the hard way."

-- Ashleigh Dahl, The Path of Empire

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Earth in 2150

I made up this map of the Earth in 2150.

As you can see the colors denote the political status of various states and territories.

I also redrew some borders.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Flag of Our Forefathers

As part of this private universe project I've designed a flag for the political entity that ruled Earth at the time of the Yellowstone Supervolcano eruption of 2189.

I'm also thinking of starting the campaign in Private Universe Mk II in the year 2150.


Friday, July 11, 2008

So Anyway

I finally started my own myspace page.



Quote of the Day

We don't want to nuke everyone, only our enemies.

-- Admiral Elizabeth Weymouth, UMC Navy.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The Freyani are really into that 'pour encourager les autres' thing."

-- Some Historian.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

And Now...An Update

From Things 1101 Through 1125 That Mr. Welch is not allowed to do in a roleplaying game:

1101. I will not cut the vault guards in on the haul instead of fighting them.

1103. Just because I was paid in advance doesn’t mean I can let the incompetent expedition leader die.

1104. There is a limit to how much innuendo I can fit into one combat round.

1107. I will not attempt to clear out the dungeon using only Bangalore torpedoes.

1108. Picking his pocket means more than just turning him upside down and shaking him vigorously.

1113. I will not shoot vampires in the chest with a large pistol just so they have to explain the embarrassing sucking chest wound.

1114. I will not take a phobia of anything that doesn’t exist in the game world.

1117. Can’t strangle a werewolf with a roll of Kodak film, no matter what we all know it’s made out of.

1118. In the middle of a black ops I will not use up all the claymores just because I don’t want to take them back with me.

1119. I cannot have my mercy surgically removed.

1120. Even if I’m in charge I can’t order the Assault Lance to perform West Side Story dance routines.

1123. In the middle of a black ops I can’t call my girlfriend to remind her to pick up some Chinese on her way home.

1124. I will leave out mating rituals when presenting a cultural exchange with diplomatic ambassadors.

1125. Letting the Red Shirt guard the plane is really frowned upon as it doesn’t leave anybody to sacrifice to the Shoggoths.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Someone Else's Thought For The Day

Someone on an obscure forum had this thought:

Had a fun thought- if Monthy Python had been in charge at the (British) Admiralty, you might have seen BCs (battlecruisers) with names like Inadmissible, Inapplicable, Incontinent, Incurable, Indefinable, Indifferent and Wombat.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Chapter Five

January 2008

Susan Korrel barely paid attention to the flat screen televison set playing in the office of her patroness the junior Senator from New York.

Until someone said, “who’s that?”

Susan looked up to see the image of an old nemesis shaking hands with the acting British Prime Minister. The television set was showing the Fox News Channel’s coverage of President Bush’s arrival in the United Kingdom.

“That’s Tom Makepeace,” said Susan, “he was Urquhart’s foreign secretary.”

“No,” the other staffer said with a tone of annoyance, “who the guy shaking hands with him.”

“Doctor John Andrew March.” Said Susan with a discernable tone of anger. “Formerly of the Collage of Saint Anthony, presently the Republican Governor of Minnesota. He’s Urquhart’s nephew.”

It was at this point that Hillary Rodham, the junior Senator from New York, interjected herself into the conversation.

“You’re angry at him.” She said. “Why?”

Susan decided to answer the question with a more level tone of voice.

“He’s the only teacher I had in my entire life who ever gave me the grade of F.”

“What for?” Said Hillary.

“For speaking the truth.” Susan replied. “For standing up for the helpless and underprivileged. But as far as he was concerned I was only a robot who was parroting ‘Marxist trash’ and that I should pull my head out of my ass!”

Hillary was shocked.

“He actually said that?” She asked.

“Yes.” Said Susan. “He also told me that the only way that I could undo the fail grade was to write a paper comparing the platform of our party with that of the Nazi Party.”

Eyebrows went up and jaws dropped throughout the room.

“That,” said Susan, “tells us what he really thinks of our party and progressives in general.”

Another staff member spoke up.

“How could he have been elected Governor... of Minnesota?”

“The God-squad and the other fascist filth love him.” Said Susan. “And I’m certain that he’s started his own American branch of the Urquhart Machine.”

Hillary leaned back in her chair. She was firmly convinced that the late Francis Urquhart was the initiator of the chair of events that forced her husband into a New York state mental hospital and caused her to drop her married name in order to continue her quest for the American Presidency. Nothing short of her own death would stop her from obtaining her ultimate goal. She had hoped that she would use her power as President to bring down Urquhart and his regime. Taking down Urquhart’s American nephew would be almost as satisfying.

“So.” Said Hillary. “What else do we know about him?”

Another staff member, Emily Redmond, spoke up.

“He’s hosting the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul.” She said. “And there’s rumors that some of their candidates are thinking of asking him to take the VP slot on the ticket. We’re certain that he will meet with Senator McCain after he returns from London.”

Hillary smiled.

Crushing them in the upcoming general election would just be the start. There was so much more that could be done once the Justice Department was back under her control.

It was once said that revenge was a dish that best served cold. This was sensible advice but Hillary, being a proper Democrat, would insist on ignoring it to her peril.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Zhodani, you person with severe oedipal issues, do you speak it?"

-- Unknown Zhodani agent. 023-1107.


Friday, April 04, 2008


Chapter Four

June 1994

Corder was listening through a set of headphones to the private discussion that Francis and Elizabeth had in the late hours after the funeral of Tim Stamper. After all, the Urquhart’s private residence in London as well as the Prime Minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street were fully wired for internal surveillance.

Elizabeth was gravely concerned that her nephew would reveal the contents of the Storin Tape.

“He’s one of us, Elizabeth.” Said Francis. “There’s no question that he would betray us. He practically confessed to the murder of his own father right there in the office.”

Francis then recounted the conversation verbatim.

“But can you really be certain?” She replied. “Can we really be safe?”

“He forced the issue out of concern for his own safety.” Said Francis. “Of course it wouldn’t hurt for us to be absolutely certain.”

Elizabeth nodded.

“There are after all,” said Francis, “no shortage of minor pests on that side of the Atlantic that could be disposed of. But we’ll have Corder look into that.”

Corder grunted when he heard that through his headphones. He would of course wait to formally summoned to receive his orders before he would begin to work on the problem.

Elizabeth continued the conversation.

“Is he really serious about becoming President?”

“Well, yes.” Said Francis. “He has the right family background and there’s no question that he has the will to do it.”

Francis decided at the moment to tell his side of the story.

“Twelve years ago. Right before his father died John and I had a rather interesting talk on the telephone. It appeared that our dear brother in law Richard had decided to embark on a political career of his own and had forbidden John to enlist in the
American Army, even going as far to promise to pull strings to prevent it from happening as it would make him look bad to the leaders and the other ranks in the DFL party.”

“DFL, Francis?” Said Elizabeth.

“Democratic Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota.” Said Francis. “John says its every bit as bad as it sounds.”

Francis continued the story.

“I offered to use my influence as a junior whip to enroll John in my old regiment and he politely declined. He said that the last American President who served under the Crown was George Washington and that he didn’t believe that enlisting in the Scots
Guards was a really viable option for him.“

“Of course not.” Said Elizabeth.

Francis had to continue.

“I was aware of Richard’s bad habits but I couldn’t directly suggest that John put poison in his father’s cocaine over the telephone. So I asked John if he could find a tin of a particular kind of rat poison. He said that he would look into it. Three
days later Richard March was found dead in his office and a week later a slightly used tin of rat poison arrived at our Southampton manor by a parcel service.”

“What did you do with the rat poison?” Said Elizabeth.

“I used it on Roger O’Neill. Elizabeth.”

For Corder, the first task after receiving his orders from the Prime Minister was to perform a background check on John Andrew March. He was appalled to discover that the British security services had virtually nothing on the Prime Minister’s nephew apart from a note that John was keeping company at Oxford with Marlene Landless, an undergraduate student and the heiress of the Landless Media empire. Corder wrote a note to himself to also do a background check on Miss Landless.

There was a quick and dirty way of obtaining information on John March. Corder placed a call to the American Embassy in London. Two hours later Corder bought a pint for the FBI’s Diplomatic Liaison to the United Kingdom in a public house in Whitechapel.

The black haired Liaison Agent came straight to the point.

“So Corder,” he said, “what do you want?”

Corder thought that question was a bit abrupt but decided to play it nice.

“The P.M. wants to do a favor for his nephew, John Andrew March, he wants to arrange for someone to set up an endowed chair for John at an American university. We just need to know if there are any problems that we need to be aware of.”

“You need to see his FBI file?” Said the Liaison Agent.

“Yes.” Said Corder.

“Well, apart from being illegal,” said the Liaison Agent, “it might be a bit difficult.”

“Really?” Said Corder.

“F. U. is close to the top of the Hilary’s personal shit list.”

“I thought Bill was supposed to be in charge?” Said Corder.

“He’s the public face of the administration. He gets to make the speeches and sign the bills.” Said the Liaison Agent. ”Hillary is in charge of everything else. Nothing happens in the White House without her permission. Except of course, the trouser failures.”

“That’s hard to believe.” Said Corder.

“Believe it.” Said the Liaison Agent. “If Hillary could find a way to take down F. U., like through that nephew of his, she’ll do it in a heartbeat.”

“I’ll certainly pass on your warning.” Corder said.

“Pass this on too,” said the Liaison Agent as he leaned closer to Corder, “Hillary has made no secret of her desire to take the top job in her own right. If F. U. ever decides that she needs to be taken out, don’t piss around with the indirect approach, do it directly, a wood stake straight through the heart.”

“Right.” Corder replied.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Chapter Three

January 2008

John's private moment of introspection was interrupted by his own Chief of Staff.

Allen Keller was a bespeckled, overweight and balding former solder who had recently refused to celebrate his own forty-seventh birthday. Even though he wore a suit and tie as his daily uniform he often gave the impression that he would be more comfortable in old camouflage trousers and a tee shirt.

As the Governor's Chief of Staff Al Keller kept a small office in the basement of the Minnesota State Capitol building. Over the course of the last year it had become known as the Dungeon. And woe betide the staff member who was summoned to it. When one of the local socialist newspapers started to call him the Dungeonmaster he simply shrugged and admitted that he still owned a complete set of rule books for the First Edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

Al had two small bottles of chocolate milk with him. He handed one down to John and sat down in the adjoining seat.

"Here," Al said, "this should help you sleep."

Al opened his bottle and started chugging it down.

"You know," said John, "there are flight attendants on Air Force One."

"Some of the best in the world." Al replied. "But none of them are up to their eyebrows in your plot to dominate the world."

"I only want to be President." Said John.

Al Keller chose this moment to preach to his pope.

"The United States of America is the dominant nation on this planet. For example, nothing moves on the surface on our oceans without the permission of the United States Navy. And you know, I would like it to stay that way."

"I'm sure Senator McCain would love to hear that when I meet with him." Said John.

"Go ahead," said Al "use it."

"Thank you." John said.

Al finished his bottle of chocolate milk.

"Do you think Corder will be there?" Al had to ask.

"Of course." said John. "He and Aunt Elizabeth are practically inseparable now."

Al softly grunted. He always had the quiet suspicion that Corder wouldn't mind putting one round into Al's head in the old Soviet style.

There was a commotion at the front of the cabin, Al leaned over into the aisle to look.

"It's Dubya" Said Al, referring to President Bush. "Why the Hell does he have to come back here now?"

"He's just being a good Christian gentleman." Said John as he stood up to chat with the President.

"That," Al replied, "is a big part of our problem."

In Al Keller's view the people who led the Republican Party were simply too nice.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Legacy, Chapter Two

June 1994

John March ignored the twitch of pain in his left arm as he down shifted on the approach to Downing Street. He really did not want to drive his own car, a Triumph TR-6, from Oxford to Westminster, not after the deaths by bombing of Tim Stamper and Sarah Harding, but certain appearances had to be maintained. Though his uncle would often offer to send a car to pick him up John preferred to drive himself around. Even if it was on the wrong side of the road.

Security around the Prime Minister's official residence had been beefed up. There was a new guy at the police checkpoint. He had never seen a Minnesota driver's license before, nor was he aware of the fact that the Prime Minister had an American nephew. A police sergeant had to come over to clear things up. As he drove away from the checkpoint John caught a glimpse in him rear view mirror of the sergeant chewing the new guy a new one.

John drove past a visibly disappointed valet to the parking area normally used by cabinet ministers and bureaucrats. He parked in the late party chairman's space. It was a bit disrespectful, but who was going to complain?

John was dressed to attend Stamper's funeral. He put on his serious academic face as he entered 10 Downing Street. Corder was waiting just inside the door.

"Commander Corder." Said John.

"Doctor March." Corder replied.

"We're... not quite there yet." Said John. "May I ask of favor of you?"


"Could you see to it that no one plants a bomb in my car while I'm parked here?"

For a very brief moment Corder had the deer in the headlights look on his face, but he quickly recovered.

_Gotcha!_ John thought without changing the expression on his face.

"Yes... of course." Said Corder. "The P.M. is expecting you."

John charged up the stairs and entered the Prime Minister's office. His uncle, Francis Urquhart, also dressed to attend the funeral, had been dictating a letter to a stenographer when he entered the room.

"John!" said the Prime Minister. "It is good to see you again. Even under the circumstances."

"Yes." John replied. "It is a sad thing to lose two close friends to those barbarians."

"Of course." Said Francis. "And congratulations on being awarded your doctorate!"

"Thank you Uncle Francis." Said John."I do hope you and Aunt Elizabeth could attend the ceremony."

"We'll see." He replied. "Was there anything else?"

"Yes, Uncle Francis," Said John. "There is a matter that I need to speak to you about, in private."

The Prime Minister nodded to the stenographer and sat down. The stenographer closed the door as she left the room.

"Well?" Said Francis. "What is it?"

John reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a tape cassette. He laid it on the Prime Minister's desk and said. "This."

On the label of the cassette was written the name, "MATTIE STORIN".

Francis Urquhart looked up at his nephew in shock.

"Tim Stamper gave it to me before he died." Said John. "He acted as if I were some sort of naive and idealistic child. As if I didn't already have blood on my own hands."

"Did you play the tape?"

"Of course I played the tape!" John replied. "That's why I brought it down here, I can't just toss it out into the trash!"

Francis looked back down at the cassette.

"No." He said. "Of course not."

John March continued to speak.

"Bringing down this government is simply not an option and if it were to get out that you put rat poison in someone's cocaine that might cause the Minneapolis Police to reopen the investigation into my father's death."

Francis looked back up at his nephew. "I thought that matter was settled?"

John chose this moment to sit down before replying.

"Certain evidence was suppressed twelve years ago because it would have been embarrassing to the local branch of the Democratic Party for it to get out that one of their biggest donors and an announced candidate for state governor was a cokehead."

Francis silently pondered for a moment.

John continued. "Of course, given what I've heard about the current administration in
Washington, being a cokehead may not be such a liability."

From some of the reports that the Prime Minister had read it would appear that the interior of the White House was a virtual snowstorm.

"There is another issue." Said John. "As you may recall I have certain long range plans. These plans do not include being blown up in my own car or being shot in the head and dumped in a vacant lot by so-called Irish terrorists."

Francis looked up with a shocked stare.

"How do I assure that this won't happen?" Said John. "Do I have to kill someone? Or should I talk to Corder about that?"

"No." Said Francis. "You shouldn't have to speak to Corder."

Francis Urquhart took this moment to lean back in his chair. He placed his elbows firmly on the armrests and clasped his hands together.

"So," he said in a voice the verged on the reptilian, "do you really believe that you can do it? Become the President of the United States?"

Very calmly, John March replied. "Yes."

"It's a long term project," he continued, "but it is doable."

Someone knocked on the door to the Prime Minister's private office. It was Corder.

"The car is ready Prime Minister." He said.

"Thank you Corder." Said the Prime Minister.

Francis Urquhart and John March both stood up.

"I have to do the eulogy for Stamper," said Urquhart.

"Oh, I wouldn't miss that for anything." replied March.

Legacy, Chapter One

January 2008

Nothing lasts forever. Even the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end someday.

Some people mourned the passing of British Prime Minister Sir Francis Urquhart.. Others, of a less civilized frame of mind, saw his death as a cause for celebration.

Air Force One lifted off from runway 12L of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and turned left onto the great circle route towards London. It was the usual practice of American Presidents to fly directly to the capital of a foreign nation whenever he would attend the funeral of that nation's leader. But in this case President George W. Bush, being a good Christian gentleman, had decided to offer a lift to the sister and other American relatives of the late Prime Minister.

Mary Urquhart March was one of the small number of the sons and daughters of the British aristocratic class who continued to marry members of wealthy American families. In her case a Richard Charles March II of Minnesota.

The March family fortune began in the industries of lumber, mining, and local railroads but shifted to other endeavors over the course of time. When Mary Urquhart met and married Richard, who was named for the legendary creator of the family fortune, he was a charming gentleman who showed no hint of the character flaws that would ultimately bring about his early demise. Richard was now interred in the family crypt in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

Mary Urquhart March had borne three children for her husband.

The first, Richard Charles March III, had upon entering the University of Minnesota immersed himself in the local drug culture and ultimately discovered Heroin. He was subsequently interred next to his father in the family crypt.

The second, Anne Elizabeth March, had left the University as a Marxist agitator and a lesbian. It was no surprise to anyone that she had joined the ruffians who celebrated her uncle's death.

The last, John Andrew March, had skipped entering the University and instead enlisted in the United States Army as an infantryman. He had night-schooled his way to Bachelor's degree and was selected for Officer Candidate School. It was after being wounded in a fratricide incident during Operation Desert Storm and receiving a medical discharge that he, with his uncle's influence as a newly minted Prime Minister, he went to Oxford to continue his postgraduate studies and earn a doctorate in history. John would use that "piled higher and deeper" degree and his subsequent writings as a ticket to a political career.

John Andrew March was now entering his second year as the Republican Governor of the State of Minnesota. Even without that he was still the dutiful son who would accompany his mother to her older brother's funeral. But John wanted to be elected to a higher office. And a photo opportunity was a photo opportunity, even if it was literally over his uncle's dead body.

John sat at a window seat on Air Force One, contemplating the path he had taken to reach this point, and the path he must follow to reach his ultimate goal.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008