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The Ambassador, Chapter 21

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  • The Ambassador, Chapter 21

    I'd been asleep for about two hours when I was woken up by what I first thought was thunder. About the time I got awake enough to be paying a reasonable amount of attention, the building rattled fairly hard.

    I immediately concluded that I hadn't heard thunder. About that time, I heard another blast, or what I concluded was another one. It sounded strange, but I wasn't sure what else it could have been. It sure wasn't thunder. Something was exploding. A couple of somethings, I suspected. Before my sleepy mind got that all processed, there was a third fairly serious sounding ka-boom. None of them seemed to be particularly close.

    I reviewed things, and put Mike on the case. The second there was anything about it on the air, he'd know what was being said. None of it seemed close enough that I was personally worried, but if it's close enough I can hear it, I really want to know what's going on.

    Mike informed me about thirty seconds later that there had been a big explosion on the George Washington Bridge for starters. That was the one that had gotten me awake. Initial reports were that the Bridge was down. He then started on the second, funny sounding one. That was the Holland Tunnel blowing up. The third one had been the Triborough bridge.

    Don messaged me. “Do you think we stuff everyone into the basement?”

    I replied. “No. And you don't either, or you'd be getting it done instead of asking me if we should.”

    He was noting that it all seemed fairly far away to him when there was another blast. This one rattled the building about the same way the first one had. I messaged back “I'll meet you in the Cafeteria.”

    He was there when Rover and I arrived. About the time we got through the doors, there was another blast, slightly further away than the last one. Things didn't rattle very much at all that time.

    Don announced that he was not liking this. I noted that I wasn't particularly amused myself, but I still didn't figure that it had anything to do with us, other than that we were in the same City where it was happening. About then, another one went off. It was the faintest of the bunch, so far.

    I was getting a lot of inquiries from the staff about what was happening, and I had canned a stock message. “Whatever is happening is probably not related to us in any way, and appears so far to be directed at local infrastructure. Happily, we are not close to any of that which is of any major importance, so I don't think we are in the line of fire. For safety's sake, though, stay away from windows and keep your blinds and drapes closed just in case something explodes closely enough to cause any flying glass. The situation is being monitored, and we'll let you know if anything changes.”

    Don picked up on the message, and noted that staying away from windows was a good call, then shook his head. “I'm not thinking right yet. Neither are you. The windows are in no danger, short of perhaps a Nuke. The building shield went on at about 2300, once they got the power plant wired in and running.”

    That gave me a bright idea. “How about we get up on the roof and see what we can see from there?”

    We couldn't see much of anything, actually. There were large areas where the power was out, but it was a bit cloudy, and other than a couple of suspicious looking clouds that might have actually been smoke, we couldn't see anything worth noting, so we came back down after about five minutes.

    We returned to the Cafeteria. The news was announcing that all Cell Phone transmissions in New York City had been shut down. Someone had managed to blow up three bridges and two tunnels with truck bombs. Another one had gone off on the approaches to the Brooklyn Bridge. The Police had another two dozen suspect trucks surrounded.

    Scott wandered in and poured himself some coffee. He announced “The Jihadis are restless tonight.”

    Don announced that we didn't know that for sure, and I offered to bet him any amount he cared to risk at three to one that Scott had it right. Don declined to bet on it, adding that he did not say that Scott was wrong, but simply that we didn't know that for a fact yet.

    We discussed the probability that we were not going to be able to get anything at all done for the next week or so. I noted that it was lucky that we had gotten food in today, because we probably wouldn't be able to get any deliveries by truck for a fair while in the future.

    We spent the next couple of hours monitoring the situation and concluded that whatever had happened was all that was going to happen. I took Miss Rover outside. When we came back in I announced that I planned on catching another two or three hours of sleep, being as there would be very little else going on for the next couple of days. I went up and went back to sleep until about 0630. I then got up and prepared to face a long day on short sleep.

    I was monitoring the news intermittently, but had my usual 48 hour rule in effect, and was not taking anything they said too seriously. They had managed to snag three more explosive laden semi-s when they shut the roads down and shut off all cell phone traffic. It was the Jihadi folks, and they'd come up with a fairly effective approach. They'd constructed their bombs inside shipping containers, then loaded the containers inside a large . They had apparently hooked a GPS System up to send a signal at a fixed location, and that signal went to a cell phone that detonated the bomb. The locations they picked were the middle of the various Bridges and Tunnels.

    There was massive reluctance to turn the Cell Phone network back on among the powers that be, but the natives were already getting seriously restless about that part. They were talking about banning all trucks over about 10,000 pounds from the City, but that one would not work either, and they knew it up front. They would have people going without food before next Friday if they did that.

    The hand wringing and demands that someone “do something” were endless. Apparently passing Laws and Regulations that left half the City without food and eight out of ten people unable to make a telephone call were the only appropriate responses that most people in power could think of.

    Around 0800 I got a call from my wife. She was not amused that I was hanging around places where things were blowing up, for starters. She was also not amused that I was letting Miss Rover chew on people. Beyond that, she was particularly not amused that I was hanging around in New York instead of getting back to see her. Once she got through explaining all the things that I was doing wrong, I inquired if she wanted to come to New York.

    She did, she didn't, and I was an idiot for asking in either case. Beyond that, I was a complete idiot, because the news was saying that there probably was going to be minimal traffic in and out of New York for the next few days or weeks. She couldn't get there even if she did want to, although she made it quite clear that she wasn't saying she actually wanted to.
    Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.

  • #2
    Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 21

    I noted that if she wanted to get here, I could arrange to get her here. Apart from anything else, I noted that we could just get her on a shuttle up to the ship and then down here. That led me to ask if she'd like to see the ship.

    Once again, she would, she wouldn't, I knew she wouldn't fly, and I was an idiot. I read all that through the filters that I've developed over the last 45 years, and it came out that she would come to New York, she would like to see the ship, and that I might as well start arranging it. I came to that conclusion while she was still explaining how impossible it all was and that I was still an idiot. She wound up her statement with a question. “Who's going to take care of the cats if I come there?”

    “It seems to me that you told me that there are four cats there now, because there were already two in residence when you got there. I suspect that they will take care of the other two for a while for you. I'm not going to put you on an airplane. We have a shuttle scheduled to go to Rock Springs this Thursday, and we'll get you up to the ship. It isn't flying. You get in, you sit down, and you are there. I can get you here using the same transportation. There may be transportation issues for some folks getting in and out of here for a while, but I'm not one of the folks it'll be an issue for. Is Thursday early enough, or should I schedule a shuttle to come get you today?”

    It was explained to me that I was still being an idiot. Thursday would work just fine, assuming that I came along to get her, and what did I think I was talking about scheduling one to come get her today? She'd seen the shuttles, and exactly why did I think that I could send something like that wherever I wanted to just to pick her up? I was getting a big head, and those Karn people were going to put me in my place one of these first days.

    I assured her that I would probably get put in my place before long, and added some suggestions about what she'd need to pack for the trip. I got filled in on the current status of the kids and Grandkids, and we wound up and got off the phone after I assured here that I'd be on the shuttle that picked her up.

    The dog informed me that she would take kindly to some ball playing, and I was in the process of figuring out which desk drawer I'd put a can of tennis balls into when Don knocked on the door and stuck his head in. I asked “What's up?”

    “We've got a helicopter chartered to come pick Allan up in about an hour. If you need to get out of town, that might be the best transportation available for a while. I had to pull some strings to get this one, what with one thing and another.”

    “I don't have any plans on going anywhere before Wednesday, and that will be on a shuttle back to the ship. We have a Board meeting scheduled then. I can just imagine how balled up things are around here right now.”

    We discussed the situation briefly. The Stock Markets were shut down for the day. The NYSE would have had to be down, given the communication issues. Not only were the Cell towers all still shut off, the majority of the cables that handled their communications had been blown up along with the bridges and tunnels they were routed over or through. Nothing was moving on the ground into or out of NYC except Police, Fire, and National Guard vehicles. It was a fine mess.

    I got Rover outside and we played ball for about ten minutes before Mike informed me that I was going to be getting a call from the U.S. Secretary of State in about two minutes. One of his people had called one of my people to set it up, and arrangements were currently being made. I noted that Mike should run him through as soon as they got him on the line at his end, and went back inside to get a cup of coffee. I got that and was almost back to my office when he came on the line.
    Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.


    • #3
      Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 21

      He introduced himself, by name and title. I responded in kind, and asked how the Karn could be of assistance to him. I had my Diplomat hat on, so I resisted asking him why he had such a long face.

      His first question was to ask if my line was secure. I couldn't restrain myself. “The NSA cannot record or listen in on my end. I cannot speak to the situation on your end.”

      He left that one lie right where I'd dropped it and went on. It developed that assistance was exactly what he was after. They had a problem, and they knew it. They wanted assistance, probably technological, to screen trucks. They suspected that the Karn had such abilities, and were most anxious to discuss arranging the transfer of such technology to them at the earliest possible moment.

      I started dancing around just a bit. I noted that I suspected that we did have such capabilities, but would have to make some inquiries to find out exactly what we could do and how difficult it would be to adapt it to their needs. I put Mike on the case, which meant that I would know in about two minutes, but didn't offer the Secretary any kind of time table on when I'd know more. I also noted that we were getting a bit ahead of ourselves with things here, given that we had not yet established formal Diplomatic Relations or any kind of Treaties relative to trade and suchlike.

      We continued the conversation, but I was only halfway paying attention. I got the impression that they were pretty much up a stump on this one, and that we could leverage it into a really favorable trade Treaty if we got moving on it right now. I had Mike messaging Allan, as well as all my people. I wanted everyone who was not nailed to the floor with something else working on this one now, if not yesterday. Stick something together that gave us total tax immunity, exemption from going through Customs, and so on and so forth. I even suggested that we stick a clause in there which gave anyone we were doing business with an exemption from Federal taxes on anything they made from dealing with us.

      I suspected that we'd have to give some of that away in negotiations, but I was going to ask for the Moon and the Stars, and settle for just the Moon, if they really thought they were in as much trouble as they appeared to. It was going to cost them money in the sense of not collecting it in taxes, but I don't personally see taxes as anything a Government is somehow entitled to anyway, so I didn't feel bad about wringing out every advantage we could from the situation.

      After getting the messages sent out via Mike, I got my head back into the game that I was playing on the 'phone. I agreed with him that we needed to meet directly in order to expedite the process. He offered to arrange transportation for me and my staff to Washington DC. I started to accept, and then noted that I suspected that they had other uses for their available equipment right about now, and that I could manage to get there using our resources. I did a fast check with Mike, and found that I could arrange a shuttle and get to DC by 1 PM. I then told the Secretary that we could arrive wherever he felt was convenient at about 3:30 PM. I asked that he get one of his people with one of mine to arrange the location and suchlike, and gave him a number for them to call. I added that I'd be bringing a dozen or so of my staff along, and that I'd appreciate it if they would see to accommodations for us for the couple of days that I imagined it would take us to get the framework for things set up.

      Once I got through with that call, I was seriously busy sending messages for a while. Allan saw where I was headed immediately, and jumped square on board. He sent one of his assistants to do the Contract work he had planned to do, and put several others in contact with my folks to start drawing up our proposals regarding a trade Treaty. Once we got that lined out, I messaged the Chief Engineer. I explained what we were being asked to assist with, and requested that he have someone with background in those areas available to accompany us to Washington, so that we could give them a coherent idea of what we could do for them, what it would take to do it, and approximately what it would cost them.

      I checked with Transportation and confirmed that they would have a shuttle ready to pick us up at 1430 our time. They were getting innovative. Given the transportation issues in existence in and around the City, we were going to do this transit to and from the roof of the Embassy. One of the things we'd installed was a homing unit for the shuttles, so it was now apparently quite simple to put one at whatever height we wanted above the roof, or just right next to it. We'd burn a bit more power holding an altitude of five stories above ground, but given the short distance involved in the transits, that wasn't a big deal from a capacitor standpoint. They pop in, extend a ramp, we board, and we leave, just about that quickly.

      There were a few other things that needed checked out, and by the time I got through with those it was almost 12:30, so I wandered in to see what was cooking. It developed that the selection was pretty much up to me, with the caveat that we still were not elaborately stocked. I settled for a steak sandwich and a serving of pasta salad which was already made up. Don showed up when I was about halfway finished, and asked if we were still on schedule for a 1430 departure.

      I confirmed that we were, and he noted that he and Scott would be ready He apologized in advance for only furnishing two security people for this trip, but didn't have anyone else that he trusted to bring along who wasn't needed to keep the lid on things here.

      Don and I were still sitting there kicking things around at about a quarter after One when I got a message, and announced that the trip was hereby canceled. Don wanted to know why, and I held off for about ten seconds while he got and processed the message. His response was about the same as mine was, although more blunt.

      “Well kiss my.....”

      I interrupted him. “Yeah. It's not happening that way. First off, while I would be willing to keep my Diplomat hat on and meet their President without spitting on his shoes or anything like that, I'll be flipped if we are going to either leave our Security people at home or disarm them. I wasn't even planning on disarming myself, if the truth be told.”

      Don was seething. “That's totally outside the lines, and they should know it. I don't think that any other Administration would have been brave enough to try to pull that with Idi Amin or Kadaffi, let alone someone who is not notably crazy or dangerous to them.”

      I asked Mike to get me connected to the Secretary of State. While he was putting the call through I arranged for him to relay both ends of it to Don, so he could listen in.

      Once I got the Secretary on the line, I cut straight to the chase. “Mr. Secretary, I'm afraid that our meeting this afternoon is hereby canceled. I'm sorry, but you are leaving us no choice in the matter, relative to your position on my Security people.”
      Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.


      • #4
        Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 21

        He either actually was clueless as to what I was talking about or was one of the best actors in the world. He demanded to know what I was talking about. I referred him to the memo we'd received about ten minutes ago, starting with the name of the Undersecretary who had sent it and summarized it from there.

        “He says here that the President of The United States is going to meet and greet our delegation when it arrives. He goes on to note that due to the fact that the President will be present, it is required that we either disarm our Security people or leave them here rather than bringing them along. He goes on to make assurances that y'all are going to meet any security needs that we may have, and we really don't need our people anyway. Let me note for the record that this is not acceptable, and that I am hereby officially canceling the meeting.”

        There was some really fast tap-dancing going on at the other end of the conversation at that point. He assured me that whoever had sent that memo was not authorized to make that sort of request, let alone to phrase it as a demand, and that he would see to it that it was rescinded immediately, and on and on. I let him run for a minute or so, and then kicked him while he was down.

        “I'm sorry, Mr. Secretary, but I do have to consider the fact that if your people are that insecure about our Security people, it probably reflects a level of concern about your Security also. Given that, I really can't take the chance of putting my people at risk by allowing them to be protected by people who you apparently don't even trust yourselves.”

        This got me a fairly plaintive response. “That guy is on the Presidential staff. He's not one of my people. My Security people are all excellent.”

        “Be that as it may, Mr. Secretary. I'm sorry about all this, but I'm sure that you can see my position on the matter. I'm sure we'll be in touch at some point in the future.”

        With that I had Mike hang up on him.

        Don was grinning from ear to ear, but expressed some reservations. “Do you realize what you just did?”

        “Well, the way I intended it was that I just rolled a doughnut down the hallway and told the Secretary of State and the President of The United States what to do relative to it. Does that about sum it up?”

        “That is a fair after action report on that engagement. Once more, I am impressed by your astute Diplomatic skills.”

        “Give me a couple of minutes here. I've got to send some messages to folks about what to do when they start groveling and apologizing. We're going to let them off, but I'm still debating if we should ask that they publicly hang that Undersecretary on the White House lawn before we do.”

        I sent out a bunch of messages instructing our folks what to do when the groveling started. I also sent one to everyone who was going noting that the departure had been rescheduled for 1530, and could be later than that, depending on what came up in the next hour or so. I then messaged Transportation and rescheduled the shuttle for 1530, and told them that it might get pushed back again.

        Don wanted to know what I was going to hold out for in return for rescheduling.

        “Nothing much, actually. All they have to do is keep the President away and I'm good.”

        “Do you think they will do that now?”

        “It is devoutly to be wished. It goes like this. I was going to grin and shake the man's hand just because it's part of my new job and it would be right and proper for me to do it, given my position. I talked myself into it based on the hope that he would bow to me when we met. However, I do also have to note that I was involved in a discussion once, back in another life about a year ago, and the question arose regarding what you would do if you were in a position to shake hands with that man. My position at that time was that I would never have to, because if I were to find myself under the same roof he was, I'd leave the building. If I were outdoors, I would maintain a minimum of one mile of clearance between us.”

        “So you used it as an excuse?”

        “Nope. I'd have reacted to that memo in the same way if Ronald Reagan was the President. I might not have made keeping him away a condition of rescheduling, but I wouldn't have taken that one from anyone.”

        The backing and filling from the State Department was in full swing within another ten minutes. We got things rescheduled for a 4;30PM arrival in DC, and things looked to be settling down when someone in the White House leaked to the Media.

        The headline under the talking heads on the cable networks all read the same way. “Karn refuse to meet with The President.” We were being asked for a statement by several of the outlets, but that hadn't kept them from running with one side of the story.

        I kicked together a press release, which included the memo from the Undersecretary and a synopsis of what I'd told the Secretary of State about the concerns about our Security indicating a strong likelihood that they didn't trust their own. The press release also noted that such a request was pretty much unprecedented, and that we Karn were hopeful that it indicated a simple lack of understanding of normal Diplomatic procedures rather than some underlying prejudice against or distrust of the Karn. It concluded by noting that we were surely not refusing to meet with the President. We only felt that given the current security concerns it would probably be better if the United States kept it's President somewhere that they were able to maintain complete control of everyone around him without having to have any concerns at all about armed guards who were not of their own choosing. It closed by noting that we had encountered some Security issues of our own yesterday from people who were supposed to have been properly screened in advance, and that as such we were sympathetic to others proceeding with a certain abundance of caution, as were we. That, we observed, was the reason that we were going to have to insist on having our own Security people with us.

        I lobbed that one off and waited for the other shoe to drop. Within fifteen minutes, the headline under the talking heads at Fox read “White House fumbles another one.” The rest of the cable networks were not quite that blunt, but they were clearly realizing that they'd been subjected to a fairly blatant misrepresentation by whoever had leaked the information to them, and they were not taking it too kindly.

        At about two minutes after 3 I got another call from the Secretary of State. I was informed who was calling and asked “Well, are we on or are we off?”

        He replied that he wasn't sure, and that the White House was livid.

        “If their lividity is supposed to somehow move me, I'm not feeling it. I've got to tell you that between things blowing up around here and your Executive branch being unable to keep from shooting itself in the feet, I'm thinking that I'm going to relocate to Geneva. I might be able to get something done from there.”

        He started asking me not to be hasty. I replied. “Look, Mr. Secretary. I understand the problem you are having here in New York. I'd really like to be able to help you out, and I believe that we have some means by which we can do so. It has to be noted, though. My desire to help you out does not mean that you, or anyone else in your Government, is going to be allowed to lie about us, or disrespect us, without us feeling that correcting the record is fair game. We have so far been completely honest and transparent with everyone, and ask nothing in return but that you be honest and transparent with and about us. Whoever it is in your Government that is trying to play Political games using us as a pawn is going to find out that we can also play those games if we get dragged into them.”

        He went back to beating around the bush. He was trying to apologize for the fact that his boss had screwed things up big time, and couldn't bring himself to actually come out and put it that way. It would probably have been racist for him to do so, I guess.
        Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.


        • #5
          Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 21

          I finally broke in and laid it on the line for him. “OK. I understand what you are saying, and I think I also understand what you will not say. If you haven't contacted me by 4:15 and let me know that we are on for this meeting, it's off, and I'm not going to reschedule until we can manage to get things a whole lot better organized than they have been so far. Call me and let me know before then if you can, otherwise, I'll be in touch eventually.”

          I hung up on him again.

          About a minute later, Heather showed up took Miss Rover into her custody. I went up and got my luggage and headed up to the roof, where everyone who was scheduled to go along, or back to the ship, was collecting up to meet the shuttle. It popped in right on schedule. A dozen or so Karn got off, and we all loaded up and got strapped into our seats for the trip back up to the ship. We got a moderate thump at the end of the transit, and we were there. I had Mike message everyone that we had perhaps another thirty minutes before we would know if we were going to DC or staying here, and we waited.

          At ten after Four, Mike put the Secretary of State through again. He announced that he had gotten everything smoothed over, and that we were good to go. I talked with him for about five more minutes, and noted that I'd see him shortly. A few minutes later we transited down to DC, and were picked up and convoyed to the State Department.

          I met with the Secretary of State for a couple of hours. My people and his people had their heads together in about three different Conference Rooms. The Chief Engineer had sent not one, but three experts along. We had an Electronics Engineer, a Metallurgical Engineer, and most important, a Mining Engineer. Apparently, the technique for finding things to mine on a Gas Giant planet was perfectly scalable for use to determine what the contents of a truck was.

          Everyone had time to get to know everyone elses' function and get a feel for the positions that each side had. The Diplomatic Recognition side was fairly easy, and they mostly had an agreement reached by the time the Secretary and I got wrapped up for the evening. The Trade Agreement end was going to take a fair bit longer, but both sides had staked out a starting position. As far as assistance with their terrorism problems, we could do most anything they needed done. The question remained whether or not they would admit what they actually needed done or not, but that was their problem. I had told our people on that end to stick to the technical aspects, and leave the questions of why those people were running loose in the United States in the first place aside.

          The Secretary seemed willing to put aside our little differences earlier in the day, and so was I. Most of our discussion centered on an overview of what tech resources we could supply them with to assist in preventing any more large explosions in various critical infrastructure. I was somewhat surprised to find that the man was not actually a complete idiot. He had no notable idea of how the application of some of this technology would be implemented, and got somewhat confused when I pointed out that screening motor vehicles wasn't going to do anything about someone bringing something into a City on a train, aircraft, or ship. That thought had never passed through his mind until I mentioned it.

          At any rate, we bounced around on the high points of everything, and it seemed to me to have gone fairly well. We wrapped it all up at about 8PM, and agreed to start back in tomorrow morning at 0900. Our transportation dropped us at a fancy Hotel at a little after 8:30. We had one floor blocked off for our party, and they had deposited Allan and I in a pair of Suites on the floor above.

          Everyone moved to the Restaurant fairly rapidly. The Karn all had lists of things that were recommended for them to try, and those of us originally from Earth did not need an AI to translate the menu for us. We all got fed and everyone headed back to their rooms fairly early. It had been another long day, which seemed to be getting to be the rule rather than the exception. I got back to my suite with the intention of getting at least 8 hours of sleep, and was about to go horizontal when I got a message from Allan.

          His sources were indicating that there was something unusual going on at the Hotel. Apparently, the restaurants and bars had shut down early, and a lot of the night staff was being told not to come in. That didn't sound good to me, and I noted as much to him.

          I was in the process of composing a message to Don when I got one from him. Ian had messaged him with information from his sources indicating that there was something going on. His sources were different than Allan's were, but also pointed to some sort of unusual activity around the Hotel.

          My reply to Don was to inquire if Ian had any handle on who was doing the activity. He said he'd ask, and came back about a minute later with two words. “Homeland Security.”

          I had bells going off and red lights coming on all across the board when he said that. Column A was that they were expecting something, but I would have expected them to say something to us if they were anticipating an outside problem. Column B said that they were planning something, and I told Mike to get his minions on it and find out what they were doing. One AI can crack any online security going in a couple of hours. Two of them can do it in a half hour. A couple dozen of them take about five minutes, which was about how long it took before I got my answers.
          Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.


          • #6
            Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 21

            They had arrest warrants out for me, Don, Scott, Curly, Isiah, and Heather. It all involved some nebulous theory about supporting Terrorism, but the whole thing was predicated on the fact that I, and the Karn, were making the President look like a fool.

            I tossed the information to Don, with a question. “It's up to you folks individually to decide, but I'm going back to the ship, and I'm taking anyone who wants to go along with me. You can stay here and fight it out in the Courts or not. It's all on you, and I'm going to tell everyone else involved the same thing.”

            I messaged the ship, and told them that we needed a shuttle at the Embassy in New York City about ten minutes ago, then I messaged our human folks at the Embassy and told them to decide how they wanted to play it, because the last flight out was leaving in about an hour. I noted to Heather that if she wanted to hang around, to make sure and send the dog on the shuttle. All three of them got back to me within five more minutes, noting that they were coming to the ship.

            Then, I got a shuttle sent out West, and called my wife. “Change of plans, Dear. You need to come up to the ship tonight.”

            I think she picked up on the tone of my voice. She didn't even call me an idiot. She just asked if she should bring the cats. I replied that she should put them in a carrier and bring them along. The shuttle would be in the back yard in about ten minutes, so grab what you want, get the cats packed up, and roll onto it. She did, and I got confirmation that they were at the ship before anything else happened.

            I hadn't requested it, but Ian met her and escorted her to my digs there on the ship. He told her I'd be along in a few hours.

            I didn't want to have a shuttle show up at the Embassy too soon, since that might tip someone off that we had caught on to their plan, but I didn't want to wait too long either. The rest of the staff there were UN accredited Karn, and I really didn't suspect that even this Administration would be stupid enough to arrest them. On the other hand, I wanted the people that we actually wanted to leave the United States to get out ahead of us, because I was planning on giving the United States Government a demonstration of exactly what they were playing with, and they weren't going to like it.

            I got the rest of our Delegation up to my suite, which had a huge floor to ceiling window between two balconies on the outside wall. That was where the shuttle loading ramp was coming in at. The shuttles were sitting there one button push away from transiting in for almost an hour and a half before Don announced that the Homeland Security people were entering the building. I called both ours and the New York one in at that point. The New York evacuees were on the roof waiting for their ride.

            The shuttle transited in. We removed the window by the simple expedient of extending the boarding ramp through it, and we started loading the Karn aboard. Don, Scott, and I were in the suite doorway waiting for someone to show up. We had turned all the lights out.

            It seemed to me like we were waiting for an hour or so, but it was actually less than four minutes. I heard the elevator doors open, then close, then open again. Then there were running footsteps headed for the door of my suite.

            The three of us backed up from the door, and waited. Sure enough, they kicked it in, and tossed in a couple of flash-bangs for good measure. We'd discussed that possibility, and were ready for it. Our AI's could damp our hearing, and modulate our eyesight down enough that we were neither dazzled or stunned. We were seriously annoyed, but that was another matter entirely.

            They came through the door fairly professionally, and I immediately started yelling at them. “Gentlemen, I have Diplomatic Immunity. Is this a Declaration of War?”

            None of them answered me, except to shout at each other “There he is.”

            All three of us had our handguns in our hands. One of them finally saw that we were armed, screamed “Gun”, and started shooting. That set all of them off, so we waited them out. The shields were limited when on battery power, but with a shuttle hanging about 100 feet behind us, we had broadcast power that would last far longer than those folks could keep shooting. It took them about thirty seconds, and about eight casualties, before they realized that they were having no effect, and that their ricocheting rounds were hitting them. At least someone recognized it because someone started screaming for them to hold their fire.

            The firing tapered off over about fifteen more seconds. They had finally realized that they were not damaging us, and were damaging themselves. I once more asked if this was a Declaration of War, and then asked to speak to whoever was in charge. Someone answered, so I challenged him directly. “I am an accredited Karn Diplomat. Are your actions sanctioned by your Government?”

            He replied that he had warrants for our arrest. I asked what they claimed that we were being arrested for. He said that we had been giving material support to terrorists.

            I tried again. “I am an accredited Diplomat. You have opened fire on me with the apparent intent to kill me. Are you acting in an official capacity as a representative of your Government?”

            He again announced that he had a warrant for my arrest, and fired about a dozen rounds at from his H&K MP-5 from about ten feet away. That annoyed me. I took one step up to him and shot him in the foot with my EAA 10mm. That got a dozen of them to shooting at me, which had about as much result as his first burst had. The more they fired, the more of their own people went down. I grabbed the supposed “leader”s MP-5 away from him and walked back to where Scott and Don were standing, ignoring the gunfire.

            I announced. “All right Gentlemen. We are leaving now. For the record, I am noting that your leader has announced that he was acting with official approval. That leads me to assume that you have declared that a State of War now exists between the United States of America and the Karn Federation. Be sure you tell your leaders that we have taken their actions at face value, and that they will be hearing from us quite soon in response.”

            We then made our way up the ramp and onto the shuttle. Nobody was stupid enough to get onto the ramp before we retracted it.

            I dropped the mag on the MP-5 I'd collected and started to clear it, but I noticed that the bolt was locked back. I looked at the magazine, and it was empty. I then got into a seat and belted myself in, made sure that Scott and Don were belted, and told Mike to tell the pilot to get us out of here.

            We went back to the ship.
            Alle Kunst ist umsunst Wenn ein Engel auf das Zundloch brunzet (All skill is in vain if an angel pisses down the touch-hole of your musket.) Old German Folk Wisdom.