Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Step Forward - Part 1

He dreamed of fire.

The cities of his Nation, and of his Civilization, were on fire.

Someone, a group of hostile men, had set those fires.

He dreamed that the soldiers who were under his direction had entered the cities. To hunt down and kill those who set the cities on fire.

And when the soldiers under his command were done with the killing, the People of his Nation and his Civilization could begin to rebuild.

He dreamed that he had a life, again.

He dreamed that he had a wife, a son, and a daughter.

And he dreamed that there was an explosion.

And that there was blood. There was blood, all over, everywhere.

He regained consciousness.

Once, on one of his more cynical days, Evelyn Allen Keller said to his older half brother that the history of the Early Twenty First Century would be written in human blood. When he originally said that he did not imagine for a moment that the blood would that of himself, and his wife and daughter.

The glare of the overhead lights came through his remaining eyelid.

He opened his remaining eye.

Even though he wasn’t wearing his eyeglasses, it was very readily apparent that he was laying on a hospital bed in an intensive care ward. It was also apparent that only his right eye was functioning.

He raised his hands into what was left of his field of view. Apart from stitches and some bandaging it appeared that his right hand was completely intact. The left hand was completely bandaged over and it appeared that the little and ring fingers were missing.

Keller began to look around the room.

The room of the intensive care ward was walled in glass and that four paratroopers wearing their full British pattern uniforms, combat load, maroon berets, and holding their L85A1 assault rifles, were standing outside the door. The maroon beret was still worn by the paratroopers of the American 82nd Airborne Division and the British Parachute Regiment of the Federation Armies.

There were also two Presidential Protective Service agents visible outside the room.

Someone was sitting inside of the room. Even with the disposable isolation garments over her civilian clothes, and her eyeglasses she could still be reasonably described as attractive.

It also helped that the wig and makeup covered her burn scars.

She was also Sonya Newman, she was once a reporter for Fox News, then she became the press secretary for President March. Allen and his wife Susan had met her during the presidential campaign eight years ago. And they became good friends.

And she was here and alone.

She stood up and walked over to the side of the bed.

“Hello Evelyn.” She said. She was one of the few persons who could address him by his given name. And now she was only one who could do that. Even the President and his own Mother did not do that.

“Hello Sunny.” He replied.

He thought for a moment, and then spoke again.

“What happened and where am I?”

Sonya answered.

“There was a suicide bombing, roughly a week ago.” She said. “Apparently the bomber was a Caucasian American convert to Islam. You’re now in the ICU of HCMC.”

The Intensive Care Unit of the Hennepin County Medical Center in the city of Minneapolis.

Keller had to ask a question about his wife, son, and daughter.

“Susan, Anson, and Alice?”

“Anson was in the school building when it happened, he’s safe and with your Mother now.” She said. “We buried Susan and Alice yesterday. And John was there for the funeral.”

John Andrew March was one of Keller’s oldest friends. He was also the last President of the United States and the first President of the Federation.

“Where is John now?” He asked.

“He’s checked into the Presidential Suite at the downtown Radisson Hotel.” She replied.

The downtown Radisson was on the south side of Seventh Street between Nicollet and Hennepin Avenues. The hotel shared a parking ramp with the Macy’s department store on Nicollet Avenue, and the ramp exited on Eighth Street. It would be a straight drive from the hotel ramp to the HCMC.

Sonya had something else to say.

“Oh, and Rush Limbaugh is still complaining about Affirmative Action.”

“Really?” Said Keller. “I thought we banned it.”

“Well he isn’t really,” replied Sonya, “but I felt like I had to say something humorous.”

“Okay.” He nodded and replied.

From his bed Keller could see a PPS agent pull out a cell phone out of a pocket, dial a number, and start talking.

Keller lifted his right hand and pointed at the paratroopers just outside of the door.

“We have Paras here?” He said, using the common name for the British Parachute Regiment.

Sonya responded.

“Bravo Company of the Second Battalion of the Parachute Regiment has secured the hospital. John has brought the entire Federation Airborne Corps up to the Twin Cities. He’s using them to turn the area over looking for the Hidden Mosque and the Hidden Mullah.”

“If it’s who The Unit thinks it is,” said Keller, “I don’t believe that we’ll find him up here at all.”

Roughly ten minutes After the PPS agent made his call, Keller had two visitors, his Mother, and his son.

Keller’s Mother was eighty years old and her hair was completely white now. She was was barely able to walk by herself and had to use a wheelchair or a cane to move around most of the time. Anson was barely seven years old, and apart from his red hair, greatly reminded Keller of himself when he was that age.

The ICU staff helped them put on isolation garments and gloves. And an ICU nurse pushed his Mother’s wheelchair into the room.

“Hello Allen.” His Mother said.

“Hi Mom.” Al replied.

Al looked at his son and spoke.

“Hello Anson.”

“Hi Daddy,” Anson smiled and replied.

Mother spoke.

“We buried Susan and Alice yesterday.” She said.

“I know.” Al replied.

Mother continued to speak.

“We haven’t heard from Gabriel yet.” She said.

Allan thought that he to reply to his Mother with more gravity in his voice.

“I’m not at all surprised. Mother, you better face it, Gabriel is no longer your stepson, and as a result of what he chose to become, and what he has chosen to do, he is no longer a member of our family.” Allen said. “And anything else I have to say on the subject is covered by a security clearance.”

“You can’t say that!” Mother replied.

“I have to.” Said Allen. “For all practical purposes Gabriel is already dead, and you may as well morn for him right now.”

Mother could not believe what she just heard.

From his position in bed Allen could see a dozen more PPS agents and The President of The Federation enter the ICU. John March began to put on the isolation garments that were provided to him.. Allen looked back to his son and spoke.

“I have to talk to The President now,” he said, “I’ll try to get out of here as soon as possible. Okay?”

“Okay, Daddy.” Anson replied.

With his right hand Allen patted his son on the head. Sonya pushed Al’s Mother and her wheelchair out of the room. Anson followed them.

And then The President entered the room alone. Al spoke first.

“Hey, John.”

“Hey, Al.” He replied.

John March had attended Oxford to obtain his Doctorate in History. He picked up a wife and a slight British accent in the process.

Now he was the one who was making history.

John spoke again.

“You’re angry?”

“I’m sedated.” Said Al. “I’ll be really angry when this crap I’m on wears off.”

Al then spoke with a clear degree of seriousness.

“You know that the Airborne Corps are not going to find the Hidden Mullah.”

“I know.” Said John. “The Paras are being used to secure this hospital, your home in the Uptown area, and the hotel. The rest of the Airborne Corps is up here to perform some political theater. To give the impression that we are actually doing something. And who knows, they may actually catch some Muslims in hiding.”

John leaned down to say something else in a whisper.

“I also have Uri and the Special Unit doing the real work on catching the bastard.”

Uri, and the other members of the Special Unit were Israeli soldiers who survived the Second Holocaust. The Special Unit operated under Keller’s control and were tasked with hunting down and killing those who were responsible for the annihilation of Israel. And also with eliminating the other confirmed enemies of Rational Civilization.

John spoke again.

“Uri says that he has a lead on catching the bastard.”

“Good.” Said Al. “I want to be kept up to speed on this.”

John nodded.

“John,” said Al, “I have another request.”

“Yes?” Said John.

“I haven’t had long to think about this.” Al said. “But I think it’s time to move on.”

“What?” Said John.

“I understand that the position of Governor of the Mars Colony is still open.” Said Al. “I want it.”

“Al...” said John, “Al, you are fifty nine years old, and you were not in the best state of health to begin with. And I still need you here on Earth.”

Al waited a bit before answering John.

“If you will pardon me for being selfish,” said Al, “but I would be doing poor job of being a father if either I or my son were to be murdered by a Jihadist. I would think that about thirty five million miles of hard vacuum should be an effective barrier to that.”

John was stunned into silence. Al continued to speak.

“We just discovered the hard way that the Quarantine is not perfect. There will continue to be leakage and individuals outside who covert to Islam.”

Al continued to speak.

“And even if our successors in government were able to maintain the Quarantine, someone else may very well cook up another toxic ideology and start another global war. Given that most of the easily accessed resources on this planet have already been used up, that means that a technological collapse would condemn any of the remaining people to being stuck on the Earth and condemn them to eventual extinction.”

“You know,” said John, “You used to be an optimist.”

John and Allen had met during the first year of the Reagan Administration at The Little Tin Soldier Shop on Lake Street in Minneapolis. John was a spoiled rich kid who was into Dungeons And Dragons. Allen had introduced him to hard science fiction and a role playing game called Traveller. And in spite of efforts by his politically Leftist parent’s to dissuade him, John had also followed Allen in enlisting in The United States Army on the same day.

“We are now, for all practical purposes, in charge of the most powerful government on the planet.” Said Al. “If we didn’t think up worst case scenarios and work out plans for dealing with them, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs.”

“Yes.” Said John.

Al continued.

“And we have to move on.” He said. “We, The Human Race, have to move out into the Universe. And I always wanted to take a part in that.”

“Yes,” said John, “you always did.”

John had something else to say.

“Okay, I’ll push your appointment.” He said. “You do know that this will be a bitch to push through?”

“I wouldn’t think so.” Said Al. “There are so many people who hate or fear me that you should be able to get a simple majority just from the folks who want me off off the planet.”

That thought surprised John.

“In a strange way,” said John, “you are still an optimist.”

“And there’s another issue.” Said Al.

“Which is?” Said John.

“The Special Unit.” Said Al. “The members of the unit and their families will need a place of sanctuary after this ... this incident ... is properly dealt with.”

“Mars?” Said John.

“Yes.” Said Al.

“Why?” Said John.

“After all that has happened, you’re asking why?” Said Al.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t.” Said John.

Al nodded.

“Of course not.” He said.

Al thought for a moment before answering.

“I gave the orders.” He said. “The Special Unit carried them out.”

“Al.” said John. “you shot my predecessor, yourself.”

“Okay,” Al replied, “I did provide him with a round in the head in the old Soviet style. Apart from that, the Special Unit did most of the wet work. And they will get most of the blame in the histories written of our conflicts.”

John nodded, and Al continued to speak.

“In the Internet era, The winners, or more accurately, those who are politically dominant, can no longer control the general historical narrative.”

“If it were not for the net, we would already be dead.” Said John. “And anyone still alive would be under the boot of the Big Zero and compelled to sing the praises of his supreme leadership, or learning to speak Arabic, the hard way.”

Al nodded. And then spoke again.

“What was done, what we did, will be remembered, in an adverse fashion. And those who did it, and their families will need a place of sanctuary, too.”

John again nodded. And then he answered.

“Okay then,” he said, “they will have a ticket to Mars too.”

“Is there anything else?” Said John.

“Yes, I want to be kept up to speed on the Hidden Mullah case.” Said Al. “And if I think of anything else, you’ll get a fax or an e-mail.”

“Of course.” Said John.

That was all they had to say.

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