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The Ambassador, Chapter 22

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  • The Ambassador, Chapter 22

    As soon as we were back at the ship, I called a Board Meeting for about 7AM the following morning. It was mid-evening on the ship at the present time. Having gotten that done, I went home and talked to my wife for a while. She was suitably impressed by our new residence, but was not too happy that people were trying to arrest me. I got a lecture about her having told me that I was going to get myself in trouble with all of this foolishness.

    We got around that part, and I was noting that I wanted to get something to eat and go to bed when there was a knock at the door. Heather had brought Miss Rover home.

    That was interesting, for about five minutes. My dear wife proceeded to land square in the middle of me over my choice in dog watchers. She wanted to know exactly what was going on here. I didn't even manage to get my mouth open before Heather landed on her and straightened her out. She explained in no uncertain terms that she took the job because she liked Miss Rover. She also explained that she was not oriented in a direction that made any male attractive to her, and even given her orientation, she did not do geriatric cases, and certainly not married ones. She allowed that I was a nice enough person, and my dog was really cool, but that was as far as it went, and she'd thank my wife very much if she would quit casting aspersions on either her orientation or her character.

    With that, she turned around and stomped out. I was having a hard time not breaking out into laughter. My wife looked at me and announced “You best not laugh. It's not funny.”

    “But you did ask for it, dear.”

    “I think you hired her on purpose because you knew what would happen.”

    “Yep. I'm psychic, and you know it, because I'm so good at predicting how you will react to everything. I'm always right about what you will think about something.”

    “You are an idiot.”

    “You have previously remarked on that. Be that as it may, however, I'm about to fall out onto my face here. I got about four hours sleep the night before last, somewhere between zero and none last night, and I'm about to collapse. I'd really like to go to bed for a while, if you don't mind.”

    She wanted to know if she could come with me.

    “Only if you promise not to snore too much.”

    She was informing me that she did not snore when I had to stop and be greeted by the Stupid cat. We've got two cats, but the Stupid one is the one who thinks that I'm his best buddy in the whole world. That's why I know he's Stupid, because it doesn't seem to matter to him that I keep explaining that I am not a cat person. I keep telling him I don't like cats in general or him in particular, and he keeps climbing on me and rubbing his face in my face. He will climb me and sit on my shoulders for a half hour at a stretch if I'll let him stay up there that long. He likes to go to sleep in my lap, and acts like his feelings are hurt if I get up and make him move while he's taking his nap. He's a really Stupid cat.

    Anyway, once the Stupid Cat got over being happy to see me, we proceeded to go to bed. I don't think I even moved until about 0500 the next morning, ship time. Miss Rover was snuffling at the side of my face, which was my cue to get up and take her out. The wife was already up.

    My lady wife heard Miss Rover clattering down the stairs, and was pouring me a cup of coffee when I got down there. She handed it to me, and I asked if she'd seen the back yard yet. She hadn't, so I took her out to look at it while the dog got her morning rounds in. She was impressed with the sculpture.

    I asked if she'd met the household staff, and she said that she had, but wanted to know what their names were. I explained that I called the taller one Housekeeper 1 and the shorter one Housekeeper 2. She was not amused by that, and wanted to know what their actual names were.

    “You can't pronounce them.”

    “I'll bet I could if I tried.”

    “I'm sorry Dear, but you can't. None of we humans can. While humans and the Karn are quite similar in many ways, there are some areas where we diverge a fair amount. One of those things is the way we speak. They do not have vocal chords. They produce speech by controlled belching. We can't do it that way, and we can't reproduce the sounds with the equipment we have.”

    “I'll bet somebody can.”

    I conceded that “somebody” might could be able to do it, but would not concede that either she or I would be capable of doing so.

    On that note, I went back upstairs and got cleaned up and dressed up. And I do mean “Dressed Up”. At one end of my closet were the two sets of Karn robes that I'd ordered up. We had a Board meeting in about an hour and a quarter, and I was going to show up dressed the same way that everyone else would be. I was Karn now, and might as well start acting like it.

    I came back down and got a critique of my new mode of dress. I was expecting fits, but my Lady actually thought it looked “dignified” on me. I'm not sure what she meant by that, but I was perfectly willing to accept whatever got tossed out in that regard. I'd be wearing these things for any and all official appearances for a good while, I suspected.

    Actually, I was impressed. The Karn tailors who had made them didn't get to measure me, but they did get my best fitting Suit. They got it pretty much right. My hem was a bit higher off the floor than the average Karn in full uniform was going to be, but so it goes. They took my long upper body to mean that I had an equivalent Karn leg length, and that was an inch or an inch and a half short for my real body, but that was it. They got the shoulders and arms right, and they had the shoulderboards properly offset from where they'd put them on one of their robes.

    Heather showed up wondering if I needed dog minding about ten minutes before my ride arrived, and I couldn't help but grin at that. The only two human females on the ship might not agree about anything else, but they would at least agree on messing with me. It's a conspiracy, but if evolution hasn't cured it, I can't, and what can't be cured must be endured. I suspected that I'd endured worse, and left them to their devices and went and talked to the Board.

    The Board understood the concept quite well, but they didn't exactly relate to the program. They were totally confused about how we were going to go about this. They understood the concept of a War, and could even understand and relate to situations where we would go and kill everyone on the other side. What they didn't understand was the whole formal dance that I was proposing. Unlike most of the modern generation, I've read and studied some history. We could actually have a War without much of anything having to happen. Be it noted that I said “much” of anything there. I had some things in mind that would remind the folks in my former Country that we had not forgotten about them, although I didn't plan on seriously hurting anyone much in the process.
    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 22

    I detailed my plans for the Board, and they seemed to see the logic in what I was planning, and after about an hour and a half we voted, and my suggestions all passed with a large margin. We would give the United States of America one chance to call a halt, or it was War, by their choice.

    The Chairman of the Board made a video, which we immediately sent down to the Earth Media on all available channels. He expressed profound shock that the United States would treat accredited Diplomats in the fashion that they had, for starters. At that point we included POV video of the leader of the Homeland Security team that raided us raising his MP-5 and firing half a magazine of ammunition at my face. The Chairman laid it out clearly. “This is our Director of External Affairs, which is the equivalent of your Secretary of State. If someone tried that hard to murder your Secretary of State, would you not be offended? We can take these events no other way, unless certain things happen immediately.”

    He then detailed our demands, which included that the United States turn over everyone in the Chain of Command that led to that assault on our Diplomats for trial by the Karn, and a ten thousand square mile extraterritorial enclave. We suggested that a ten thousand square mile area centered on Rock Springs Wyoming would work, or they could pick somewhere else to offer. He also hinted at the fact that we knew exactly where the orders originated. That part was true, thanks to a lot of work by a whole lot of AI's. We didn't point any fingers, but we indicated that we knew.

    We followed that up with me, in full Karn regalia. I announced that, in sorrow rather than in anger, I was forced to second my Chairman's demands. I played the full video of the four minutes and 44 seconds from the time that Homeland Security kicked our doors in until the time that I watched the door of the shuttle close. I accompanied the video with a voice over explaining that they were shooting themselves. I replayed the part where I shot the Team Leader in the foot and took his H&K away from him three times, and lovingly noted that I was still not totally adapted to being a Karn in some respects. When someone starts shooting at me with a full Automatic weapon, I tend to get a bit annoyed.

    The second time I played the full video, I pointed out that my first reaction had been to aim at his face. I showed myself stopping . I changed my point of aim to his thigh, and stopped again. I really had not wanted to kill anyone, and either of those places would probably be fatal. A head shot with a 185 grain Golden Saber at 1225 FPS would be. A thigh shot with the same round would most likely cut the Femoral Artery, and he'd bleed out. So I restrained myself. But there is only so far that a man can restrain himself when someone is shoving an H&K in his face and pulling the trigger. So I shot him in the foot, just because he badly needed shooting, and I really didn't want to kill anyone.

    Having noted all that, I also made it clear that we had fired exactly one round during the whole encounter. The four dead and eight wounded Homeland Security people were all shot by their own bullets. I noted that there was a concept called “Fire discipline” that trained people not to all shoot endlessly at the same target, and then noted that we, (“We” being the Karn) didn't really care how many of their own people they shot. That wasn't our problem.

    I then added that we could provide transcripts of the conversations and copies of the E-mail discussion which had led up to the raid. We knew who had done it.

    Then, I explained why they had done it, and provided some transcripts to support my explanation. Someone in the White House had decided to issue the demand that we leave our Security people at home or disarm them. At about the same time, they leaked to the Press that the President was going to go greet the Aliens when they arrived.

    Serious embarrassment resulted when I told them where they could get off regarding our Security. They were offended by that, and determined that they would teach people to treat the White House that way. They thought they had an awesome plan, because they had not factored in my renunciation of my U.S. Citizenship or my perfectly good Diplomatic Visa to be in the United States. They decided that they could just arrest me. (Bad idea #1.)

    Beyond that, they were going to charge me, and a few others, with suspected complicity in the explosions in New York City. Hey, I was there when it happened, as were some of the other folks they were arresting. That was close enough for them, when they got desperate.

    We even had the conversation recorded. The question was asked “What will the Karn do if we arrest him?”

    The reply was “They'll just appoint someone else to his job and go on. We will probably have to let him go if he won't plead out to something, but it will get him out of the way.” (Bad idea #2.)

    I announced that I was totally in awe of the levels of stupid that I had encountered over the last day or so. We Karn had gone from trying to help the United States with a problem to a potential State of War in less than 24 hours, and it was all because the people running the Executive Branch of the United States Government were so enraptured by their own navel that they were totally unable to see the real world beyond their own little Cloud Cuckoo land.

    In closing, I noted that they had elected this Administration, and that it was their problem to deal with it. I then reminded them that they had 24 hours to decide what they were going to do, and added that I hoped that Our Lord would Bless and Shield them all in this, their time of trouble.

    And cut.

    I did several interviews with the broadcast media in the next couple of hours, and tried to be nice. Ian and Allan did several, and were not nice. The Chairman did two, and was totally severe. He noted that we had come here not as adversaries, but as partners, and before we even got settled in well, one of the major Earth Governments had gone totally outside the lines on us. We had observed all the normal Diplomatic protocols, and done our level best to be a good member of the Community of Nations. The United States had responded with behavior that seemed to be more appropriate from some Barbarian tribe from the Second Century AD or there about. He noted that we were not just offended, but felt that we had been challenged in a way that demanded that we get retribution, lest everyone on Earth think that they could do that sort of thing to us. We were the new kid on the block, but we were not going to be bullied.

    At about midnight, Washington DC time, we got a call from the State Department. The Secretary of State wanted to speak to me. Mike woke me up to get the message, and I informed him to relay the message that I had nothing to say to him, because I knew for a fact that he was aware of what was going to happen last night, and played along. He could go push his horse-faced version of Diplomacy some where else from now on, because I didn't have anything to say to him from yesterday forward.

    They contacted us a dozen more times between midnight and Noon. The best offer they ever came up with was that they would negotiate about things. They refused to admit any guilt, and were surely not going to either submit the perpetrators to our Justice or even offer to submit them to their own. And it went downhill from there.

    At straight up Noon, Eastern Daylight Time, our Chairman went on all the Networks who would have him. He announced that we were fully aware of who had instigated the situation, and we knew why they had done it. He noted that we had no particular reason to be angry with the average American, but that they had the leadership that they had selected, and were going to have to deal with that part on their own. He then announced what we were going to do in pursuit of the War that the United States had chosen to have with us.
    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 22

      For starters, all cellular telephone service in the United States was going to be out of service for the next 24 hours. He noted that we were including all 50 States and the Territories in that blackout. We'd be willing to review it after that, but that as of right now, there were no Cell Phones in the United States, just as a reminder to the Citizens that they were ultimately responsible for their own Government.

      He then explained part two of our sanctions. Nothing electronic would work within a 10 mile radius of wherever the President of the United States was. Nothing. That meant that vehicles wouldn't work, all power was out, and on and on, There would be no Radio, no TV, and no anything within 10 miles of him.

      He then added that he was going to delay the implementation of that for another five minutes, because Marine One really should land now. We were not kidding, and it wouldn't fly once we put our sanctions into effect.

      Actually, we held off for almost nine minutes. The fools were bound and determined to test us, and we'd have killed everyone on all five of the helicopters if we hadn't let them get to Camp David first. Two seconds after the last of the five helicopters landed, we shut all the power off. And I do mean all.

      A wind up watch would work inside our field. A battery powered one would not. At about 1500, someone managed to walk out of the 10 mile blackout area from Camp David, and called the Pentagon. His first question was to ask what time it was. He then related the sad story that absolutely nothing worked at Camp David. He requested that someone send technicians and engineers to try to fix things. They did that, but there was nothing that they could fix, since nothing was actually broken.

      We had to be really careful how we modulated the fields. If they were understrength, only some electronics did not work, depending on the voltages involved. If we got it too strong, it would kill people by shutting off the electrical systems that ran their hearts. We didn't want to kill anyone, so we tended to err to the side of caution. Actually, I came to understand that we really weren't eliminating any electricity. The field just sucked it all up and transmitted it to the Ship, where it was being used as part of the power supply that created the field. As proof of the law of Conservation of Energy, it took all the power that it scavenged and about another 15% or so from a generator to keep it running.

      The whole thing was working out better than I had expected. The President having run off to Camp David meant that we did not have Washington DC under the power blackout, so the Congress was active. There was a lot of noise being made about finding out exactly who had authorized the raid in the first place, of course. We could have told them, and even provided recordings of a lot of the process as documentation, but we were saving that part for later. I was hoping they'd figure it out on their own anyway.

      Things rocked on. We established full Diplomatic Relations with Great Britain, Russia, China, and France. We dispatched our UN Ambassador to Switzerland, and established Diplomatic Relations with them, and availed ourselves of their services to act as an intermediary between us and the United States. We had all that done by Friday.

      We turned the Cell Phone service in the United States back on after 24 hours, and calmly informed the Media that we could turn it back off any time we wanted to. We added that we could equally easily turn all the power in the entire country off the way we were doing around the President if we cared to do it. We were lying somewhat. We could do it, but the amount of power it would take would be equal to the amount of power we were blocking, plus about 15%. What we could do and what we were going to devote that much energy to doing were hopefully two different things.

      About Noon local time on Friday, someone finally figured out that a Diesel engine with a hand crank starter would run inside the shutdown zone. They'd apparently worked nonstop to get a couple of vehicles modified with that powerplant, a manual transmission, and no electronics at all. They attempted to relocate the President, and discovered that the shutdown zone moved right along with him.

      Since there were not enough vehicles available to move everyone that was considered necessary to escort and guard the President, they were moving at about five miles an hour at best. They first hauled several vehicles full of security folks to the edge of the shutdown zone, then moved the President. Naturally, when they moved him, the zone followed him, and when they got to the point where they expected to make the transfer to normal vehicles, they discovered that nothing was running except their two special Diesels.

      They then started off with the security folks walking along with the vehicles. We helpfully sent out a press release noting that the President appeared to be returning to Washington, and suggested that the residents along his route and in the District prepare themselves for the oncoming power outage by stocking up on bottled water and suchlike.

      The residents along his route were not taking well to having their power all quit because the President was around, and the folks in DC and the immediate area could readily use a compass and determine where a 10 mile radius around the White House would encompass. They started blocking the roads. This was easily done by driving motor vehicles, the larger the better, up to the shutdown zone. Once the vehicle entered the zone, it stopped. People were driving trucks, buses, and other large vehicles into what became a large circular parking lot.
      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 22

        As soon as the Presidential caravan came to the first of these roadblocks, it came to a halt. Even if they'd had enough men or horses to push or drag the vehicles out of the roads, there were a whole lot of them to be pushed or dragged. About 7PM they concluded that if the President wanted to get back to Washington, he was going to have to walk. This was apparently not suitable, so they turned around and drove him back to Camp David. Several of the civilian staff were left at the end point of the journey, and a lot of them chose to resign rather than walk back to the center of the shutdown. The horror stories that they related of trying to work, and work with the President when being interviewed by the Media were quite amusing. It seemed that the President was not amused, and was not making life easy for anyone.

        At about midnight on Thursday, Congress had quit running around in circles and screaming in panic for long enough to declare the President to be effectively incapacitated by the shutdown around him and passed the Football and other necessary decision making capacity to the Vice-President. About an hour later, they loaded the Vice President up in Air Force 1.5 and flew him off to Nebraska, outside of the range where they thought the President might travel and impose a blackout.

        Other than the first 24 hours when we had imposed the Cell Phone shutdown, most Americans were reacting to the whole situation as being more of a comedy than a crisis. There were numerous jokes going around relative to what was being called “The New Pony Express”. There were dispatch riders on horseback carrying information into Camp David, and bringing out Presidential directives and orders.

        Nobody was paying a whole lot of attention to the directives and orders he was sending out anyway. The majority of them were variations on the theme of getting the power fixed and suchlike petulant foot stomping. Most of the remainder involved various instructions to the Military and Law Enforcement to do something to get me. It sure looked to me as if the President was losing it, but I wasn't the one who needed convincing of that.

        Congress was investigating the circumstances surrounding the raid, and someone leaked a couple of transcripts of conversations between the President's de-facto Chief of Staff and the Attorney General just after the President was “embarrassed” by our declining to submit to their security demands. The President wasn't the only one in his Administration who appeared to have lost his grip.

        We had Karn Board Members on all of the Sunday morning talk shows that weekend. I declined to appear for obvious reasons, but the other Board Members filled in quite adequately. The Chief Engineer in particular stood out. He appeared (from a remote location, obviously) on Meet the Press and verbally pimp-slapped some idiot who was whining about how “unfair” we were being to the United States across the studio and back about three times. He pointed out that Iran was still under massive United States imposed sanctions more than 30 years after they had pulled a similar stunt with United States Diplomats, and questioned if the reporter felt that we should not follow the example of countries which were clearly more experienced in human style diplomacy than we were. He concluded by noting that we were being quite moderate, in that our sanctions did not currently involve the entire United States, although we had clearly demonstrated that we could arrange for them to do so.

        Tuesday I visited China and Russia and formally signed our Diplomatic Treaties. Wednesday, I did the same in France and Great Britain. Friday I went to Switzerland and signed off on our Treaty with them, and then had an unofficial meeting with the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He wanted to know exactly what it would take for us to stop our “sanctions”.

        I explained it to him. We did not hold any ill will toward the American people, or even the Government of the United States in general. I pointed out that we were fully certain that the responsibility for the incident rested with the current Administration, and that if and when the United States chose to replace that Administration with a different one, we would cheerfully reevaluate the situation. Until then, however, no relations of any sort were possible, and there would be no negotiations, talks, or even any more exchanges of informal visits.

        I then got quite blunt with him, and noted that I'd been an American for my whole life, up until less than a month ago, and that their problem was obvious. We did not know whether the President had made the decisions leading up to the raid, or if he was even in the loop on them, but the decisions were made by his people. He was either far too vindictive or far too inept for us to be able to trust. I emphasized that there would be no change in our position until he was gone, be that tomorrow or after the next Presidential election.

        He was honest enough to admit that he had not particularly expected that our position would be any different than it was. He added that he would pass the information along, and we went our separate ways.

        The next week we added Germany, Japan, and India to the list of Countries with which we had formal Diplomatic Relations. We had a training classes running all out producing Ambassadors. We had a list of which Nations were coming up, and were making sure that each Ambassador had a solid background regarding the Country to which he was going to be assigned. The fact that everyone had an AI meant that this was taking two or three weeks for each Ambassador, rather than months or years, but it still took time.

        Our next list of candidates for recognition produced some griping at the UN. We selected Australia, Sweden, Columbia, South Africa, Canada and Israel. The Moslem countries all started whining that we were neglecting them. Ian just happened to be in London when the complaints started, and got roped into appearing on a news show. When he was asked why we had not yet expanded our Diplomatic relations to include any Moslem nations, he explained it quite well.

        “We are starting with those Nations that either produce things we will need, or have the capabilities of manufacturing or learning to manufacture things that we will need. We have made lists of most of these things available to you already. If you can point me to some of these Moslem nations which have those capabilities, I will surely recommend that we get around to them as soon as possible.”

        The talking head conducting the interview spent over a minute dithering around trying to accuse Ian and the Karn of being either racist or harboring religious prejudices, although he wasn't sure how to approach it when he was dealing with a completely alien species. White Guilt was not going to work, but he valiantly tried to make it somehow racist.
        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 22

          Ian dryly noted that in the first instance, he was unaware that “Muslim” was a race, and asked if he was misunderstanding something in that regard. He then went on to explain to the talking head that when dealing with relations between the Karn and humans, it would be much more proper to call it xenophobia, and that there were, in fact, some xenophobes among the Karn, as there were among humans. He elaborated on how he had been one of the first Karn to visit Earth, and had spent months working here undercover as a human. That, he concluded, pretty much eliminated any possibility of his being xenophobic, since he'd have been totally unable to do that if he were, and he would probably not even consent to be on Earth at all.

          That did nothing to stop the whining in some quarters, but it did take almost all the wind out of the sails of the hard core Moslem apologists on the left. They tried to explain how the Karn could be somehow irrationally prejudiced against Moslems, but not Mongols, Orientals, Indians, Africans, South Americans, Nordics, or anyone else. They didn't manage to accomplish much with all that but twist themselves into knots and look foolish, so they pretty much quit trying.

          The situation in the United States was getting interesting. The Vice President was running around the Country doing his level best to seem Presidential. He was not doing a particularly impressive job of it, in the absence of any particular authority to do anything except act as President in case of National Emergencies. The President was still sitting at Camp David. His wife and children, along with a lot of the Staff, had returned to the White House. She had announced that she would act for her husband, and was roundly ignored. She kept announcing that she was acting for her husband, and no one paid any attention to her, to the point where the media quit even announcing her latest press releases or even covering her speeches.

          The House was debating articles of Impeachment. Perhaps not so surprisingly, it was being resisted from both the far Left and the far Right. On the Left, it was simply a matter of refusing to be seen as Racist by consenting to remove the President. The Right, on the other hand, would pay hard money to see him gone, but were not about to allow a foreign power to dictate who the United States could have as it's President.

          We were refusing to talk to them. I'd gone so far as to send instructions to all of our Diplomatic people that they were not to even talk about them. The only response that they were to make to any question about the United States was to be that the Karn Federation had no comment. I could relate to the Conservative sensitivities toward outsiders interfering with United States politics. The argument that seemed to be working the best with them was that the Karn Federation was staying strictly out of it. I intended to keep it that way.

          The last couple of weeks had been extremely busy for me, and things were really not looking to lighten up any time soon. I'd made eight official visits to various world Capitols, and had a ninth one scheduled for the following Monday. Actually, I was just a part of the delegation on this one. A lot of the Diplomatic protocols on Earth put a heavy premium on the position of the “Head of State.” The Karn system has the Chairman of the Board being more of the first among equals. There have been times when the position rotated among Board members at intervals of less than three months. There have been other times when a sharply divided Board with a swing vote would swap the position back and forth between two members at weekly intervals.

          Be that as it may, the Earth wanted our “Head of State” to attend some things in his official capacity, and we did accommodate them when it was reasonably possible. We were going to London to visit the Queen. Actually, we were going to formalize a full scale trade Treaty with the Brits, but it was going to be about a two day extravaganza, and the Brits were pulling out all their Pomp and Ceremony. I figured it was good PR.

          There would be four Board members in attendance, counting the Chairman. We had drafted Our Lady of The Arts to attend. She was reluctant at first, but I won her over by pointing out that we could arrange for her to see some of the greatest Art in the history of Earth while she was there. She finally acceded. I hooked the Chief Engineer in by arranging a tour of a couple of Royal Navy ships for him.

          I was bringing my wife along. She'd been through Medical, and was feeling a couple of orders of magnitude better than she had in ten or more years. Losing the permanent pains from a couple of back surgeries apparently livens you up a good bit. Since she'd expressed an interest, I'd scheduled us to join Environmental Control on the tour of the British Museum. I'd also blocked out a chunk of time for her to go shopping. They'd suggested Harrods, but I know my wife, and redirected them to the more upscale crafting type of places. I figured that would keep her occupied for a while.

          Don had been hiring like crazy. He was signing up anyone he could find with a clean record and SAS or SBS experience, as well as Germans, a smattering of Russians and a fair number of Israelis. He, Scott, Isiah, and Curly were each holding two half-day classes for the new hires, and they were spending the other half day at a Royal Marine shooting range, under the direction of a collection of old Royal Army Sergeant-Majors who had instructions to get any bad habits that anyone had developed drilled out of them really quickly.

          Most of the new hires were going to be Embassy Security, once we got the Dog and Pony show with the Queen finished. We would be using about a hundred of them for that, one way and another. The rest would just continue with their training regimen until we left, then be transported to the various Embassies, after an orientation tour of the ship.

          There was massive discontent among the former U.S. Military types who were looking for employment with us. Don was not in the least happy about it, but had announced that he was not hiring any Americans pending the current disagreement between us and them being resolved.

          About 1800 the night before our departure, I got a message that had been kicked all the way up the line to me regarding Music. We were going to be welcomed by the Royal Army Band, of course, and they wanted to know what the proper music would be for them to play for our arrival. I spent thirty minutes figuring it out, and concluded that they were not going to learn Karn Music in the next 14 hours or so, and dithered endlessly back and forth. I wound up asking around, and suggesting that they just have their Pipers give us a selection of traditional Highland Pipe music. I commented as an aside to my wife that I really should have them play The Beatles “Mean Mr. Mustard” when I hit the ramp, and got abused endlessly for the next hour. She emphatically announced that if I wanted to be an idiot, I could be, but if she was accompanying me, I would behave myself, or else.

          We departed the ship for London at about 1PM ship time, which was going to put us in London at about 0900 Greenwich. The difference in the length of days between Earth and the ship was going to get to be a problem for some people at some point, but we were all still coping.

          We got a rousing welcome, and everyone made a little speech. Most of it was scripted, but the Chief Engineer departed from his planned remarks to note how impressed he was with the Bagpipe music. When my turn came along, I noted that it appeared to me that the genes for Bagpipe appreciation and Engineering on a ship were apparently closely related, and that the Scotsmen apparently now had a reason for both of them. I added that someone was going to have to hand him a wee Dram at some point and see just how close the similarities were.
          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 22

            I could feel my wife's eyes boring holes into my back, and knew that I was fixing to get called names again here shortly, so I started to begin with my prepared remarks, and had to pause for a fairly serious burst of spontaneous applause. I stuck to the script from there, and was done in about three minutes.

            Environmental Control gave them about four minutes of blather about how fascinating she was finding the arts and sculpture of Earth. It was probably terribly boring for everyone involved who was not an Art History major, but it was suitably bland and noncontroversial. I'd take that over it not being boring every time right about now.

            After the reception, we motored off to a big hall, and those of us who were signing things were seated at a long table on a stage. The Queen addressed us for a while, then the Prime Minister did, then we got off to the task of signing the things. There were 20 copies. The Prime Minister was using about ten pens per copy, and the rest of the Brit dignitaries seemed to also have an endless supply of them. On our side of the table, we had one pen each, and they were the effective Karn equivalent of the $0.39 Bic ballpoint. I sent a message out via Mike, and when we finally got done, I got up and collected the pens we had used and carried them over to the opposite side of the table. I presented one to each of the Brit signatories.

            They seemed appreciative enough, so I guess it wasn't a total screw up, anyway.

            From the signing, we were driven about 20 odd miles to a large estate, and were the guests of honor at the Prime Minister's dinner. It wasn't the official State Dinner. That would occur tomorrow night at Balmoral. This was just a fancy dinner. After the food had been served and consumed, things loosened up a bit. Everyone was wanting pictures with the Karn. I wasn't in huge demand for pictures, but there were a dozen or more MP's and Ministers of this and that in the Government who were trying to pump me for information about what we were going to do about the United States.

            I was wearing out the “No Comment” line, and probably would have continued to, but about 2100 someone informed me that the United States House of Representatives had returned Articles of Impeachment against the President with only 33 dissenting votes. Once more, I was being barraged with questions about what we were going to do. I did actually reply to it, just that once. “As you folks would say at Wimbledon, the ball is in their Court. The doing of whatever is going to be done is strictly on them to accomplish. We won't interfere in their internal affairs.”

            It was remarked that based upon the rumors, we surely were interfering in their internal affairs. I asked if they were talking about the sanctions we had imposed. It developed that they were, and I gave them the same speech that the Chief Engineer had given about Iran and the maintaining of sanctions after more than 30 years. I noted that we were taking our guidance from established Diplomatic practices in response to such issues here on Earth.

            One of them asked me if I was armed tonight.

            “Of course I'm not. We've added a fair number of Security people since that happened, and I'm no longer having to do double duty that way. That, I will note, comes as a serious relief to me, because I'm hardly a professional in that regard, and probably not even a notably skilled amateur.”

            I was informed that CNN had talked to some folks back at my former stomping grounds who maintained that I was a wickedly good shot. I just laughed.

            “Someone is trying to get on the right side of me now that I've made good. If you'd have asked them that a month ago, they'd probably have told you about the time I shot the Chronometer.”

            That one went right past most of them. Someone googled up chronometers on an Iphone, and they passed it around and studied on it for a moment. My wife showed up about then and rescued me.

            I noticed that several people were leading the Chief Engineer over to the bar, and let my wife that direction. I noted that I thought I knew what was going on, and that I wanted to see the results of the experiment. I got yelled at. “They are going to give him some of that nasty Scotch, aren't they? I hope it doesn't make him sick or something.”

            I suggested that I doubted that it would make him sick, and we got over there about the time that someone was handing him a wee Dram. I didn't catch the name on the bottle, but I could see that it said “Single Malt”, and 25. It wasn't kerosene, anyway. Their idea of a “wee dram” was about two jiggers. The Chief Engineer smelled the glass, then sipped. He then announced “Bravo!” and sipped again. He had the whole works down in about three minutes, and was asking where he could buy some of that to take back to the ship with him.

            I told him that I could surely arrange for that to be done for him, and asked the barman exactly what it was. He replied “Laphroaig 25. From Islay, and surely the finest.”

            I noted that I was of the same opinion, and he asked if I would like some. I accepted, with the condition that he pour me about a third of what he'd given to the Chief Engineer. He managed to get stopped at about half, and I tasted and grinned. My wife started in on me again. “I knew you were just trying to get over here to the bar.”

            “That may or may not have been the case, but I'm now leaving again.”

            We wandered over to where Environmental Control was surrounded by people taking photographs of each other with her. She messaged me plaintively. “Get me out of here.”

            I walked up and asked her if she'd met my wife. As it eventuated, and as I knew, she had not, so I performed the introductions. That may have been a mistake. Our Lady of the Arts got going on architecture, and it just so happens that my wife is a massive fan of both Medieval architecture and Art Deco architecture. Gargoyles, friezes, ornate exteriors and interiors? She loves them. The two of them got going and were hitting it off quite well. I stood there looking sadly at the empty glass I was holding. About then, while my wife was facing the other direction, a waiter came up to me, took the empty out of my hand and gave me a refilled one. He pointed over toward the bar, and the Barman waved at me. I made a hand gesture of benediction, and mouthed “Bless you, Sir” in his direction.

            About then they got off onto crafts. Mostly needlework and embroidery. After a few minutes of that, they had hit it off well enough that they were going to make a joint expedition to the British Museum tomorrow, after which they were going to look at some handicraft outlets. I was thrilled with the whole thing, as long as I didn't have to go along. Before the treaty signing, I had been talking to the PM about this and that, and he noted that I seemed to have a hole in my schedule tomorrow, and offered to fill it for me. “How would you like to see the Imperial War Museum, old man?” I'd noted that I would very much like to, and that was where I planned on heading. I was to be picked up at around 0930.

            The Chairman and the Chief Engineer joined the three of us about that time, and the Chairman stated that he was getting ready to call it a day. Someone took that as a hint, and about five minutes later, it was announced that our transportation was around front. We spent fifteen minutes making our farewells, and finally made it out the door.

            When we got to our room, I spent about a half hour getting my opinion of Our Lady of The Arts realigned by my wife. She had heard me make a few less than glowing comments about her and her function, and decided that I needed to be straightened out. She explained it to me.

            “You seem to forget that their entire civilization exists on a Spaceship. Even given the fact that they do have all the room they could want, it's a totally sterile environment unless they do something with it. The whole design of the residential cubes is geared to getting people outside of their homes and moving around some. Look at the layout of the parks and gardens and open spaces. The installations of sculpture and suchlike may not be to your taste, but nobody is going to like everything. They've done wonders at creating a friendly and comfortable place to live that's built inside of a lot of huge boxes.”
            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.


            • #7
              Re: The Ambassador, Chapter 22

              remained a bit unconvinced. “Maybe so, but it sure seems to be arranged a bit to much from the top down to suit my tastes.”

              “So you are just going to let everyone do their own thing? Can you imagine the mess? It's not as if you can move to Florida or Arizona or something when your neighbors all start annoying you, you know. It's got to be a little bland and generic so it doesn't offend anyone badly, but it's also got to be appealing enough that everyone is willing to use the open spaces. That's a fine line to be walking.”

              I had enough sense to shut up before this went on all night. I was willing to concede that she may have had a point, although I still thought it was too regimented for my taste.

              The next morning I did the Imperial War Museum, which was pretty much awesome for someone with my interests and hobbies. I'd had the foresight to make sure that I put the word out about where I was going, and Don and Scott were my Security detail. They wanted to see the place as much as I did. I'd thought that the PM was going to arrange a tour of the place for me, but to my surprise he accompanied me.

              He was knowledgeable about most of the exhibits, and it was deeper than you would get by doing a once-over lightly. We got off into about a ten minute review of the evolution of the calibers of Tank cannon during the Second World War at one point, and the man knew his stuff in that regard. I was impressed. I think I held my own, though, and he was surprised to find that I was actually reasonably well versed in the various campaigns in the Western Desert. I got hooked on Robert Crisp's books as a kid, and pursued the subject on and off every since.

              At about Noon, we got ushered off into a private room and were served a light lunch. We continued our tour from there, and wound up at about 3PM, not having seen a tenth of what there was to see. I could have spent a solid week in there, at a minimum.

              My wife and Environmental Control were returning at the same time we did, and the three of us compared notes about our day for a few minutes. They had purchased things and had packages. Lots of them, although it developed that most of them were not my wife's. The wife and I then went up to our room and got ready for the State Dinner this evening. I complained extensively about the fact that I'd only worn a Tuxedo about five times in my whole life up to this point, and now I owned not one, but three. My wife told me which one of them I was going to wear. I did as I was instructed, and then got to listen to her gripe about what she was expected to wear to this particular shindig.

              We were going to be flown up to Balmoral by helicopter and overnight there after the Dinner. I was ready a good half-hour before we were scheduled to leave, so I checked in on the local news. Someone had leaked a picture of the Chief Engineer sampling the Laphroaig to one of the tabloids, and the British media was having a wonderful time speculating on whether the Karn were actually Scotsmen in space. I was tempted to suggest that the Chief Engineer have his translation pad start using a Scottish accent, and decided that I'd let him make up his own jokes if he chose to. I had done enough already.

              The Dinner went quite well. There were about 200 people in attendance, including every Karn in Britain. They'd brought all 24 of our Embassy staff up, and Allan had been in Germany and came over for the event.

              The Queen set a lovely table, and gave a very nice little speech. She withdrew fairly soon after the meal, and I expected things to break up early, but was informed that several of the Royal Family were still in attendance, and that given her age, the Queen typically made an early evening of it. The socializing would continue for a while longer.

              Fairly early on, Environmental Control had gotten into a discussion of fabrics and laces with someone, and come and drafted my wife to participate, so I was left to my own devices for a while. There was not nearly the amount of questioning going on that had occurred last night, and most people just wanted to discuss life and families and what-not. That worked for me.

              Someone, or several someones, had taken to educating the Chief Engineer's palate relative to the various varieties of Scotch Whiskeys. I would have dropped in on that event myself, but my dear wife would be having none of it, so I circulated around and socialized. The staff kept trying to give me glasses of Champagne, but I'd exhausted my ability to drink that stuff about the second glass. I finally ran into one who was serving Scotch, and obtained one of those, which worked a whole lot better than Champagne did for me.

              All in all, it was a nice evening. I'd always thought that this kind of event was stiff and formal, but it appeared that as the evening progressed, everyone loosened up and actually managed to enjoy themselves.

              I decided that I'd had enough at about 2330, and went over to get my wife. She had been being handed a fresh glass of Champagne every time she emptied one, and was about one sheet to the wind, which I thought was funny.

              The Chief Engineer left a trail of totally sodden folks in his wake as he wandered over to discuss our departure from the event. I hadn't bothered to tell anyone that the Karn had about five times the tolerance for alcohol that we did, and apparently nobody had noticed, or looked in the books we'd sent them in order to find out. I suspected that they'd poured about an honest Imperial quart of single malts into him, but they could not do that without pouring a significant amount into themselves, too. He was just starting to get a good buzz on. His assistants, though? They were mostly in need of being carried off.

              We got all the Karn together and sent all those of us who were going back to London on their way. Those of us who were staying the night, including Ian, got ourselves directed to our quarters and called it a night.

              I'd managed to spend some time with the Prince of Wales over the evening, and I have to be honest and note that I sincerely hope that he doesn't get to be the King of England as long as he has any notable influence at all. He can seem to be reasonably intelligent for a few minutes here and there, but overall, he and a box of rocks have more in common than would be a good thing for most any ruler of any Nation, even if it is only as a figurehead.

              His oldest kid, OTOH? That boy may in fact have some promise. He is a bit of a wiseazz, which will stand him in good stead if he remembers why he learned to be one. Further than that I'm not going to say anything, other than to note that I could probably work with him. His Daddy and I would not be able to be in the same room in two hours, and that'd probably be because of me. The Prince can say what he chooses to, regardless of how stupid it is. We commoners have to be able to defend our positions, and if the Prince differs with us, we are probably expected to leave the room. I would just leave any function that required me to deal with him and call it good. In other words, I was not impressed, and that's enough to say about it.

              Once we hit our room, I made a somewhat desultory effort to get my wife to join the Balmoral Club, but she was not in any mood for anything like that in a strange place. She's very careful about strange places, which is probably a good thing. Heaven only knows who has that place wired for video and sound. At any rate, we went to bed, we went to sleep, and we got up the next morning and were served coffee and other trifles, including some decent croissants. About 1000, we assembled outside the gates of the place and the shuttle transited in and we went back to the ship.

              The United States was still missing out on all the good stuff, but that was not something that I could do anything about, so I quit worrying about it.
              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.