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The Ambassador, Chapter 23.

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  • The Ambassador, Chapter 23.

    We got back to the ship at about 0700, ship time, and so we all had a full day in front of us. (Other than my wife, who went home.) I went to a Board meeting at 1000, and briefed everyone else on how things had gone. Then again, I only gave half the briefing. The Chief Engineer liked him some Scotch Whiskey. Completely beyond that, I think that he bought into the theory that the Scotsmen and he were somehow related in some strange way. He wanted to just assimilate Scotland to the ship and call it done.

    I had to note there, for the record, that any attempts to relocate Islay to the ship would probably not come out well for either the ship or Islay, and suggested that he get our molecular chemists to working on the whole Scots Whiskey thing. I added, just for the record, that he could do the same thing with Bourbons and save me the trouble later.

    I was ahead of the game in one regard. When he mentioned Bagpipes, I offered that I had the location of a huge number of recordings of it, and had Mike hand it off to his AI. I'd already informed Don and Ian that they would probably be expected to provide a Pipe Band, and we were working on that part before it ever came up.

    Beyond any of the Chief Engineer's preferences, Our Lady of the Arts had taken a fancy to the music of the Pipes, also. The Karn would now have Bagpipes. It was a done deal, and all I could do was facilitate it or be run over by the stampede. Most all of the Karn who expressed a preference seriously approved of Bagpipe music in all the polls that had been done, so there would be Pipes.

    We got that settled, did the rest of the Board Meeting, and went on from that point, which I thought was a crucial one. Regardless of my Scots and Scots-Irish ancestry, I can take the Pipes or leave them, but the Karn apparently liked them well enough that they were going to be adopted. I don't hate the Pipes, but all other things being equal, I'd just as soon leave them. My ancestry has failed me in that regard. There are a couple of Germans in the woodpile, and that's probably why I'm not a major fan of the Pipes.

    Be that as it may, there was now a serious connection between the Karn and Earth. Huge decisions have turned on lesser things than a group of Pipers in the past, and I had no problem with seeing to it that my Species had a few hooks into a group which obviously was successful in the Universe at large. When I thought about it for a while, it's one of the main reasons I took the job when it was offered. It's important for all of us in the long term.

    It seemed that I'd managed something fairly profound, right up to the point that I got back home, or such as “home” now was. My dog wanted me to take her out and play. My wife was annoyed at me, and I was trying to find out why at the same time that I was taking the dog out.

    So, we all went out, and I got abused because Miss Sam hadn't been at home while we were gone. Then I got abused because the cats had been at home while we were gone. Not that the cats or Miss Sam had been abused or neglected in any way, but just because it went that way, I was going to get unloaded on.

    The Karn seem to be cat people, in general, and in the vast majority. Miss Sam is a curiosity, and they have adopted the theory that people and dogs have evolved into a symbioses, but they don't feel any general liking for dogs. Cats, though? They like cats. My help put about four hours of video of Butterbean and Goober up on the Karn 'net, and they were all heavily watched. They had them chasing laser beams. They had them leaping into empty boxes and peering out. They had them chasing each other, and attacking the feet of everyone around, and so on and so forth. Butterbean and Goober were celebrities, and a lot of the Karn were wanting to have a Cat of their own.

    It didn't make any sense to me why the wife was annoyed. Rover had been with Heather, and was happy. She was glad we were back, but it wasn't as if she was abandoned. The furballs had clearly had the time of their lives while we were gone, and they were not terribly overwhelmed that we'd come back. Goober did come and climb my leg until I let him sit on my shoulder for ten minutes or so, but then he was back to normal, and back to being a cat.

    I finally concluded that there was actually nothing wrong, which was what was wrong. She felt neglected because the critters hadn't missed her. I decided right then that she needed something to do, and started to send messages to Our Lady of The Arts and a few other folks. Mike interrupted my messaging to ask if my wife had checked her message list lately. I asked, and she hadn't.

    That was all it took. I found out later that she had been drafted, requested, and politely asked to participate in about ten dozen different “Arts and Crafts” projects, some of which were official and coming from the Board and some of which were just hobbyists among the Karn. She was busy for the next two days just answering her mail and sending out patterns.

    I cheated. I had Mike send some pictures of some of her cross-stitch and embroidery work to her AI. It never occurred to her to do that. I also added some of her Crochet work, ranging from pineapple doilies to Afghans. Then we went into knitting, and I covered that part, too.

    The Karn have time on their hands every so often, and handicrafts are big. Once they realized that they had someone who did a massive variety of new things that they could readily do, it was all over but the shouting. By the time I'd gotten through running Rover, my wife was totally involved with her kind of folks, and doing crafts.

    She was up ahead of me the next morning, and was totally involved. I got a “Good Morning” and then was completely ignored. She'd already had Breakfast, and I don't do food when I wake up. I got my coffee and went back to work myself after doing the morning dog running.

    I violated one of my own rules about fifteen minutes in. Given all the chaos with the United States, the Afghans had decided to swarm onto a couple of United States bases there. After serious consideration that took me about two minutes, I decided that the Karn were not going to allow any stupidity to happen because we were tweaking the United States Government. We shut down all non-US Military electronics for a 20 mile radius around those two bases. We might have also interfered with the function of firearm primers and other explosive devices inside that radius just a bit, but I will not admit to anything of that nature. The Karn did issue a statement noting that our differences with the United States were between us and them, and that other parties should not feel free to take advantage of the situation.

    The only thing that I personally did was to send a message to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and tell him not to pursue beyond the shutdown zone, unless he was terribly confident in the hand to hand skills of his troops.
    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 23.

    I wasn't too surprised to find out that the Corps had gone into the shutdown zone, and that their opposition was still running a day later. If you tell the Marines to “Fix Bayonets and Charge”, they will do it, and the guys they are charging are probably toast, all other things being equal, which they were in this case.

    Immediately after that one, I addressed the fact that Gaza and Lebanon were still launching massive quantities of missiles at Israel. That was easier to deal with. I had a couple of our “communication” satellites start whacking everything that they launched, and announced that in one hour we were going to start striking every launch site with a large meteor, or whatever they chose to call it. We used heat shielded chunks of lead, weighing about two pounds, for the ten strikes we had to make before they decided that they should probably quit. A two pound chunk of lead coming in at about 25,000 MPH makes a fairly serious bang, actually. They figured that out amazingly soon, and in so much as I had gotten ten thousand of them produced for contingencies, we still had a huge supply when they decided to stop being idiots. I didn't really plan on flattening more than half of Gaza or Lebanon before I did something else, but if they wanted to be a death cult, who am I to stop them?

    Note that we had serious issues with that part. We kept telling the to quit it, because our Diplomats were present in their target zones, but they wouldn't quit it, and kept lobbing missiles at random. After almost 48 hours of telling them to quit it or face the consequences, we reacted accordingly.

    We wound up having to have some sharp words with the Russians. They thought that they saw an opportunity to do some land grabbing in the Baltics, and were happily proceeding to try and start something that would give them an excuse. I had our Diplomats in Moscow pass a message to their Foreign Secretary noting that we'd really hate to have to take measures of the kind we were taking in Lebanon and Gaza with them, and that we hoped that a word to the wise was sufficient. It seemed that it was. Unlike the crazed Islamazoids, the Russians were fully aware that the Karn could take just about whatever offensive measures we wanted to take, and that their ability to retaliate was effectively nonexistent. I didn't trust them, but I did trust that they were not suicidal.

    The United States itself was pretty much floating along in neutral. The official Federal Government was only marginally functional, but the States all had laws and customs in place that seemed to be sufficient unto the day. Then it got interesting, for about ten hours.

    The President sent in his resignation, and it was accepted by Congress. We announced that we still wanted to discuss the prosecution of the people involved in the attacks on our Diplomatic Staff, but would cease hostilities pending further discussion. Once we shut off the blackout area, the President immediately announced that he had resigned under duress, and that he was still in power.

    He'd gotten back to Washington DC by then, and immediately after it was announced that he was backing out on his resignation, we shut off all telecommunications within a mile of him, and noted that if the U.S. Government chose to keep him, we'd reinstate our blockage of anything electrical within his immediate vicinity. After everything that had happened, they still couldn't get the required majority to Impeach him, so we reinstated the full 10 mile radius again about 1400 Eastern that day.

    Ian did an interview with all the major Networks and cable Networks that afternoon about 1600 Eastern. He made it clear that we were not going to be inclined to any outcome that left the current President in charge, and that we were running out of patience. He also noted that our running out of patience would mean that there would probably be no more telephone communication within the United States in about 24 hours, give or take.

    We let that soak in until about 2000, and then turned everything back on. The American people can be totally oblivious to a lot, but if you get their attention, they will respond. The Senate met at midnight, and did Impeach the President. Finally.

    Our Chairman sent a message to the new President, informing him of our conditions. We either would be given the entire chain of command responsible for the attack on our Diplomatic representatives to impose our own justice, or they would prosecute them themselves.

    The whole list of demands was something that I fabricated, and was the last thing I wanted to see happen. Other than murder, robbery by violence, or some various forms of fraud, the only thing that Karn law prescribed for most criminal action was removal of membership and exile. Unsuccessfully trying to kill our Diplomats was not a “crime” in the Karn lawbooks. We dealt with that through either our External Affairs or Security functions, as was appropriate.

    In this case, both Security and External Affairs were on the job. The Board had given myself and Ian free reign to do what we would as long as we weren't going to depopulate the Planet or mess with too many of our potential suppliers too badly.

    They'd all come around when we started paying them to do so, and everyone else figured that Ian and I would get them kicked back onto the rails before too long, although Allan was getting seriously impatient. Every day we wasted was costing him money, because he could get better bids for better things from a lot of American Companies. We really needed to be doing business with the United States.

    For the record, it should be noted that Allan understood what was happening, and he understood why it was happening. He really wasn't jiggling our elbows too badly, although he had, in fact, inquired if we couldn't just arrange for the President to get dead from Carbon Monoxide due to his heating preferences or something at least twice.

    As much as I'd liked the idea, I'd resisted it strongly, and it seemed that the need to take those sort of measures was now past. At least, I hoped so. The new Administration wasn't composed of people who I was inclined to have any notable confidence in, but I was at least slightly optimistic that they would not prove to be actively malicious.

    They were still working with the same Secretary of State, and we still weren't talking to him or any U.S. Diplomats directly. Working through the Swiss was a bit slow, but it kept everyone in mind of the fact that the United States still had some things to do regarding the imposition of Justice to some folks. Some of the U.S. Media had taken to referring to them as “War Criminals”. I was doing my best to discourage that severe of an approach, but it still rated as a positive development in my book.

    We announced the opening of four Schools, located in Switzerland, Russia, China, and Australia. These were primarily aimed at getting Earth's academic folks up to speed on some tech stuff, mostly dealing with power supplies, materials, and medical tech. We'd given everyone the raw data already, but there was a lot of it that was much more understandable if someone took you through it.

    Each school had openings for 300 students, divided into about 20 classes of 15 people each, and the courses were divided by specialty, be it medicine, materials, or power production. We had to get a bit sharp with three of the four host countries, because they seemed to think that they were going to fill the entire school with their own nationals, and leave everyone else out. We disabused them of that notion, and instituted quotas by Nationality. There was still vast discontent among the nationalities that we were leaving out of things, but we pointed out that when and if Burkina Faso, Tajikistan, or Jordan, just for instance, were in a position to produce things we wanted, we'd teach them how to do it. In the absence of the industrial base that was required, they were just going to have to wait in line.

    The United States was really getting worked up about that whole situation. As far as they knew, they were being left behind on the whole education situation, because we had made it clear that no one with a United States passport or dual nationality would be accepted at any of our schools pending our demands being met. The Federal Government was going nuts trying to work up the appropriate prosecutions, and kept getting themselves so balled up in their own dysfunctional legal system that they had so far been unable to even empanel a Grand Jury or produce any indictments, in spite of the best efforts of the new faces at the Justice Department.

    Twenty-three days after the President had resigned, the new Administration finally got around to getting a replacement Secretary of State confirmed by the Senate, on their second try. The first one probably would have been confirmed, but had been involved in the whole fiasco with myself and our Diplomats. She was not in the loop far enough that I wanted to see her prosecuted, but I was not going to work with her any more than I would with the previous Secretary of State, for the same reasons. Someone in the Senate had enough sense to have developed some back channels to reach us through the Swiss Embassy, and had thought to ask if she was acceptable. He got an answer, which consisted of one word, “No.”
    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 23.

      There was the usual amount of griping about having some Foreigners interfering with the Government, but in spite of that the nomination was voted down, and the guy who was picked next didn't have any notable baggage that way, having been out of Government for almost 15 years. Once they got him in place, we dropped a strong hint through the Swiss that we would meet with him in Switzerland and discuss what we needed to do to get this ugly situation put behind us.

      The United States Government accepted that plan, and I got to go to Switzerland for a week.

      The talks were only scheduled for five days, but I went down a day early, mostly just because I could. Actually, I wanted to get with Don and the rest of our early Security group. I missed those guys, and they were busy enough that they couldn't just take a couple of days off to run back to the ship. They could spend an evening at dinner in Zurich, though.

      I hooked a ride on our regular Embassy resupply and transport run, and nobody made a big deal of my arrival, which was how I wanted it. We did notify the Swiss that I was going to come down, but that I had personal business the day before the big Conference started, and that I'd appreciate it if they would not make an issue of my presence. They were quite accommodating.

      Don was probably even more annoyed that we hadn't just taken some sort of kinetic action against the former President than Allan was. He fully understood the issues involved, but was having a massive problem with his hiring because of the restriction on hiring U.S. Citizens. I explained to him that I could feel his pain, but that he'd just have to hang in for a bit longer until we got it all lined out. He really didn't trust about half of his applicants at this point, and was not hiring anyone that he didn't trust. That was leaving him with a lot of empty spaces to fill. We needed more Americans.

      I promised to do everything that I could to get the problems resolved, and we all had a good time, and probably drank more beer than we needed, since we didn't have the Karn tolerance for it. (It could be noted that my tolerance was up about halfway from the time before I'd been medically treated by the Karn, but that is incidental to the issue. A good time was had by all, though, and I was up and functional at my normal time the next morning, so it was all for the good.

      The first couple of days of our Summit with the Americans went well. They were willing to concede that they had stepped across some fairly well marked red lines, and were willing to see that the people involved were appropriately dealt with. We got most of that part done, and were heading off into a trade agreement and adding a couple of Schools in the States when for some reason, the USG decided among itself to get difficult.

      They demanded that we make up the lack of Americans in our other schools by allowing them to fill at least one of them by themselves. I had more or less planned on having them have a fair majority in at least two of the next four, and probably in at least three of them, but I wasn't going to be pushed around at this point.

      We devolved to setting up a conference about the student body composition of the new school. (Note the singular. I didn't feel the need to mention that we had four more planned.) Once that conference started, I had my people get totally obstinate about the shape of the table in the Conference room, the size and shape of the chairs, and the temperature that the room would be maintained at. Every time the conceded one thing to us, we added two more conditions onto the whole deal.

      Just before we adjourned for the evening meal, the Secretary of State and I took a walk. He was sorely offended that we were being so difficult. Being my usual “Diplomatic” self, I came right out and told him the score, in no uncertain terms.

      “Think about this, if you would. There is no way that we are going to let you send us a bunch of hidebound reactionary Greens or some such and try to educate them. You do not get to decide who we train, because we know who is un-trainable, and that would be most of your current Academic higher-ups. They want to come, but we don't need them, and won't waste our time on them. Either we pick who we are going to train, or there is no training. It's your call.”

      I thought the old guy was going to have a seizure for a minute. He wasn't stupid, but he was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, and had been drinking the Flavor-Aide for a long time. He couldn't quite process the whole thing, so I ran it by him one more time.

      “Forget your Global Warming. We're talking about Orbital Solar Power, and clean and safe Nuclear power. There is no Carbon Dioxide involved. You can have your cake and eat it too here. You need to be able to do that to produce what we want, and there won't be any more bad weather than there has ever been. You have to get over the whole knee-jerk opposition to Technology. Progress is not evil, bad, or even a sin against God, if you are inclined that way.”

      He came mostly unglued. He maintained that if we let people have all the power they wanted to have, they would destroy the Planet, and that it would be much easier to get the things manufactured that we wanted if we had a “more docile workforce”.

      I informed him that, for starters, we could not work with him. I added that I needed a drink to clear my mouth of the bad taste of talking to him at all, and stomped off and left him standing there with his mouth hanging open. I walk fairly fast when I get stressed or annoyed, and he'd managed to get me into both places at the same time.

      I went straight back into the Conference Room and declared that this meeting was closed unless someone could talk some sense into their Secretary of State, and that I was just about done with messing with them. His whole delegation exited en-mass to attempt to reason with him, and I and our people all left the premises. I had totally had it with people who could not accept getting what they always maintained that they wanted as an acceptable answer to their questions. They wanted to control everyone, and anything that prevented that was bad, clearly. I was pretty much done with them.

      I was stomping out the front doors of the place when Ian stopped me. He noted that I should wait for a few minutes and see what eventuated from the meeting of the United States delegation. I accepted his advice, and stopped. I was outdoors, so I lit a cigarette, and waited. About halfway through my cigarette, there was a lot of yelling coming from the back garden of the compound, and then there was a single gunshot.

      Our security folks mobbed us when the shot went off, but I waved Curly off, and moved back inside the door. I had my cigarette stuffed in the left side of my mouth, and I hope that I didn't offend anyone too badly by smoking indoors. I also had a 10mm Model 1911 handgun in my right hand, but I had my suspicions about what was going on, and wasn't too worried. Most of our Security people proceeded to stuff our entire delegation, other than myself, Ian, Don, and Curly into our transportation. The four of us got back inside, and were met about halfway by the United States Charge-d-Affairs for Switzerland. He announced that the Secretary of State had shot himself, and that we should consider resuming discussions in a day or so after this incident was cleared up.

      I wasn't about to ask any questions. It could also be noted that for some strange reason, none of the Video in the building was working. That was probably because we (The Karn) didn't want it to work, but even if Mike had, in fact, arranged it so that I would see a video of someone shooting the particular fool in question in the head, I wouldn't have publicized it. I no longer had a dog in that particular fight, and the United States was on their own as far as I was concerned.

      I put my handgun up, and reassured the Charge-d-Affairs that we would cheerfully give them a day or two to recover from this incident, and offered my condolences over the loss of their Secretary of State. I invoked James Forrestal and noted that the pressures of some jobs were just too much for a whole lot of folks. He assured me that we would be contacted about further meetings within the next day or two, and with that said, we left the Conference building and went back to our Hotel.
      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 23.

        It was actually two and a half days before we held the next meeting with the U.S. Delegation. During that period, there were about another forty “suicides” among senior United States Diplomatic personnel. For whatever reason, a large number of their most hidebound and senior folks were suddenly deciding that they could not face a world with cheap and clean energy in abundance, and were joining the Human Extinction movement as a consequence.

        I might or might not have had video of most of those events, but Mike won't tell, and I was seriously into Sergeant Schultz mode on it. “I see nothing. I hear nothing, and I know nothing!” For once, our surveillance videos were not going on the public net on the ship, so there was no contradiction of the official version of what was going on.

        Just for the record, I wasn't the one who kept our spy video off the public net on the ship. Actually, it was Allan who got worried that someone would tip our hand about our financial dealings and got all of it put off limits to the public. The best part of it all was that the “public” on the ship was quite willing to accept that excuse. They could care less about the quaint customs of the natives, except perhaps for Bagpipes, but when there is money involved, they are quite willing to keep secrets.

        I had a good couple of days. Everyone and everything that I had to concern myself about was out at the L5 point on the ship, including my kids, grandkids, and my daddy. The only person on the planet that I had to concern myself about was me, and I had no notable obligations to anyone until next week this time, or until the United States Delegation got it's stuff back into one sock. I'd announced to Don that I was going to go be a Tourist the next day, and that I'd be really appreciative if we could assemble my original security team for the day.

        He saw where I was headed with the whole idea, and had the proper people assigned to me. I'm not sure how the juggled some stuff, because both Curly and Scott were on their telephones intermittently, but they seemed to have managed somehow. We toured several museums, Armories, and suchlike. We also went and visited a Swiss Army shooting match, which we were invited to participate in. Not to brag too much, but all three of us who shot finished in the top 10, and although Don didn't win, it was withing the width of a dime for the championship.

        The media made a big deal of the fact that I wound up in 9th place, but that was pretty much blind luck and a good gust of wind at the right time. I was ready to call my last shot out, and it got blown back all the way into the eight ring. The scores at that point were close enough that it made the difference between 9th and about 22nd place. Just to note. I finished behind both Don and Scott, and we were all using rifles that we'd never fired before. I was pretty much disgruntled that they hadn't given me a K-31, because I would have done five points better with one of those, and have been in the top three, if not challenging for winning. But be that as it may, I love to shoot, and I love to go shooting with people who take it seriously. I was always well inclined to the Swiss, but after that session, I've been even more fond of them. They know how to take care of themselves, and they practice the skills regularly. I love it.

        The Swiss were impressed, anyway. Their media made the first big deal out of the fact that I could occasionally hit fairly close to where I was aiming, and the rest of the Earth media picked up on it. It got reflected on the Karn channels, and I was once again being interviewed by the ship's media just because I could do something moderately well. When I interviewed with the ship folks, the first thing I always did was to hold up nine fingers, and note that I had finished 9th. I had not won anything. I had just wound up better than some of the competition, which was not selected to be all that good in the first place. It was just a local match. Well, OK, it was a Regional Match, but our scores didn't count toward that, and it's not as if we were going up against their best talent, which I emphasized. I would not have advanced any further in the matches. I made that clear.

        For some reason, that didn't matter. I was being either condemned or noted on Earth as a competent shooter (I refuse to use the word “marksman”, because I am not good enough to deserve that title) and acclaimed on the ship as the “first human to join the Karn” as someone who is really good at the warring skills of Earth.

        All things being equal, I'd rather play with handguns. I'm kind of the reverse of the guy in the movie who said that “I said I don't care much for pistols, I didn't say I didn't know how to use one.” I don't have any problem with rifles, but if I'm going to go practice my shooting, it's mostly going to be with handguns. I prefer them, if I'm inside about 50 yards, and I don't plan on anyone being able to see me any closer than that, on a good day. On a bad day, I've got rifles, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't get closer if I could, and go to something that I've practiced with a lot more.

        Back in the United States, the epidemic of Suicide in the Diplomatic Corps went on for another day or so. They lost about 20 more folks. I don't know if someone was realigning the playing field or just getting payback for former idiocies, but there it was. I personally knew nothing about what was going on, and the couple of times that Mike offered to brief me on what the AI's were finding, I declined emphatically. I didn't need to know, and would not like it to influence my treatment of the current U.S. Diplomatic Corps, either positively or negatively. Not that the negative would be likely, but just in case, I don't need to know why it happened.

        We finally got two schools, (or Colleges, or whatever) set up to open in the United States the next month, and had two more coming on line the following one. Things seemed to be looking up. Allan had hooked up about Ten Billion dollars worth of contracts for components for the Station, and things seemed to be rolling along quite nicely.

        Then we went to Turkey, and things got stupid again really quickly. The Moslems were not notably happy with us in general, and the radical ones were really foaming at the mouth, and the Turks apparently were on their side.

        At least that's how it played out. They did really good to be able to plant the bombs without leaving any footprint anywhere that our AI's could find. The mistake they made was to celebrate their success before it was known exactly how successful they actually were. They were bragging before the smoke settled.

        We lost two of our Security folks (human) and one Karn who were close enough to the blasts that their shields were picked up and tossed. Several more of us had various injuries extending from broken bones to some internal organ damage, and in my case a serious nosebleed. That was minor. I've had my nose broken before, two or three times. One more won't make me any uglier, and in the greater scheme of things, I was back in action immediately, although I did have a lot of blood running down my front until I got some cotton stuffed into my nose about three minutes on.

        The stuffing of the cotton happened after we boarded the shuttle. There were about seven calls for evacuation in about fifteen seconds after the blast. Don was one, as was Curly. I was another, and four of the Karn delegation thought the same way we did. The shuttle popped in and dropped ramps before the smoke had cleared well, and we all boarded and left. We brought our dead with us. I had grabbed one of the Security guys, who had bounced off a wall right in front of me, and Curly and a couple of his people had the other one and the Karn victim in hand almost immediately.

        There were several folks that came charging in screaming “Allahu-Ackbar” over the first couple of minutes, but they were playing against a stacked deck. Everyone on the ground in our party had three batteries in hand, and there were a whole bunch of us who were not only armed but very annoyed at that point. Someone was taking head shots at the Jihadi folks with a handgun and rolling them over as fast as he could shoot. I blame Don for that one. I don't claim that I was hitting more than half of the ones I was aiming at, but I was annoyed, and I did shoot up 62 rounds in less than two minutes. The video we had did not tell who was doing the shooting, but there seemed to be a fairly large proportion of head shots going on. I don't think I was the only one doing my Zombie drill right then, at any rate.

        We'd planned for this. The ramps dropped on the shuttle, and the miniguns opened up. They had holograms that showed them where the shields were, which meant that they knew where not to shoot, and anything else in range was fair game. I'm really surprised that I got off as many rounds as I did, considering that the last three targets I aimed at seemed to disintegrate about the time I started shooting at them. Miniguns will do that to things, and after the third one, I decided that I was wasting my time and got my backside up the ramp and onto the shuttle. Don insists he was behind me, but I think that if you review the video, we got on the ramp at the same time.

        All I know for sure is that I was doing about five things at once. I was bleeding, cursing, shooting, reloading, boarding the shuttle, and demanding that Mike get the whole contingent of AI's on to finding out who was responsible for this, all at once.
        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 23.

          Once Don and I got onto the shuttle, we were both swarmed by the medics, even before we transited out. They were shoving stuff up my nose and immobilizing Don's left arm and shoulder on the deck when we popped back out to the ship.

          Fifteen minutes later, Don and I were both in a meeting of the Board. I still had a wad of cotton and a couple wads of nanobots up each nostril, and Don had a sling on his left arm to allow his 'bots to fix the crack in his collarbone and shoulder joint, but we were both ready to rock and roll at that point. The 'bots had stopped my bleeding in about 30 seconds, and were at that point making my nose as pretty as it ever was, but no prettier than it ever was, either.

          Ian opened the meeting. He was livid, to put it mildly. The Turkish Government had sold us out, and we had evidence of it. We also knew who had paid them to do so.

          Allan offered that we had no real reason to try to do any business with any of the Governments involved, and that he would recommend that we make them an example. The Chairman seconded that motion, and the Chief Engineer seconded it at the same time.

          Everyone looked at me and Don. I had gotten the briefing from Mike about who was involved, and so had Don. I waited for about thirty seconds to make sure that Don had absorbed the information, and addressed him.

          “Can you think of any reason that we shouldn't make an example here?”

          He tried to shrug his shoulders, and winced. “No. I can't.”

          I replied. “Neither can I, but we need to make it as universal as we can. I want another run from our AI's for involvement. We'll go to the second level of support on this one, at least. If they were financing it in any way, they are culpable. Is there any dissent from that?”

          There was no dissent. A couple of the board wanted to just eliminate Turkey for starters and go from there. I wasn't quite that bloodthirsty just yet. We'd hit the folks who were involved, and try to avoid too much collateral damage. I so moved, and it was unanimously adopted. I then offered the suggestion that we name names of who we were going after, and explain why we were going after them. That suggestion turned to a motion by Allan which was also adopted, and we waited three hours before we started in with our retaliation.

          We flooded the Earth media, and in some cases just preempted it with our own transmissions. We told them who we blamed for the attack. We told them why we blamed them, and we told them who had paid for the attack, and who had allowed it. After saturating the media for a couple of hours, we retaliated.

          We hit 1368 separate targets. Some of them got hit several times, in so much as they had gone and hidden underground a long way. We just kept dropping things on the same spot until it got deep enough to get them.

          The crazy Paleosimians were deep into it, and their brain trust was hiding underneath a hospital in Gaza, since they thought that they were safe there. That proved not to be the case in this instance. We dropped four successive five pound rods on the same spot in the middle of the hospital, and cracked every bunker they had under it. The casualty rate in the bunkers was 100%, as it was in a few other places in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Most of the rest of the targets were one shot, although we did add a second tap whenever we thought there were enough folks in the area who deserved a second one, just to make sure.

          The Chairman of The Board spoke to the media as our retaliation started. He noted that we had come strictly to trade and do business with the people who were involved in attacking us, and that we sincerely regretted having to do what we were doing. He also noted that in spite of our regrets over the outcome, it was exactly what anyone else who got that stupid in dealing with us could expect to see happen to themselves. “We will repay faithful dealing in honest coin. We will repay treachery and murder in equally honest coin, as is deserved. Those who murder our people will not profit from it, and usually will not survive it for very long.”

          The world media was going nuts. Not only had we hit Turkey in numerous places, we'd hit targets in both Riyadh and Mecca. We'd hit Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, several spots in Syria, and a whole bunch of places in Iran, not even to mention Pakistan. We hit 354 targest in Pakistan, which was the most anywhere except for Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Even Gaza and the West Bank didn't get that many.

          I was at my home nursing a cold container of Red and trying to relax when I got called back to an emergency Board meeting. The Islamics were reacting in their usual fashion, and were attacking various Foreign Embassies in Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Egypt. The Board felt that this was uncalled for, and wanted to discourage it, particularly since it included our Embassies. I almost tried to talk them out of it, but couldn't bring myself to do so.

          We hit the attackers with what amounted to buckshot, but it was coming in at 25,000 MPH, give or take. Each pellet only made a crater about two feet across. The attacks on Foreign Embassies came to a screeching halt very soon thereafter.

          Their propaganda claimed that there were a million dead. Our own estimates, based on the best satellite photography available, estimated it at 50,000, give or take 10%. Whatever, it was a fair slaughter.

          A couple of the European Embassies to us that we'd set up expressed some level of indignation that we would be massacring “the innocent” that way. The Chairman of The Board replied by an official video statement that he didn't think that we had massacred anyone who was particularly innocent in the first place, and that he'd gladly let them slaughter other Earth diplomats if they weren't using us as an excuse. He noted that he knew who was and was not responsible for what was going on, and that he'd decide if he wanted to let idiots kill innocent people because the idiots were angry at us.

          He then smiled, and noted that if the rest of the Earth wanted to put up with that, they could, but as long as it involved us and our business dealings, we were going to take a harsh view of such behavior. He added that anyone who encouraged such idiocies by omission might be held responsible themselves in the future.

          At that point, even the most suicidal of the Europeans pretty much stopped complaining.

          There were a few indignation meetings held in various large cities in Europe, but they were remarkably well behaved, overall. Ian did offer to intervene in Paris at one point, but the car burners got confronted by a fair mass of les Flics, and went home to think about it all fairly early in the evening. Most folks on either side of the argument were notably opposed to having small meteor-like objects coming down from the sky onto their City, and common sense seemed to be breaking out in a lot of unexpected places.

          Things actually got calm for almost a month after that one. I spent most of my time either at home (My new Karn home, that would be.) or in various meetings and conferences which mostly dealt with the minutia of getting various Earth industries re-geared to producing what we wanted to have in place before the second Karn ship arrived.

          Most of that involved structural steel and solar power panels, and we were working overtime trying to get various industrial folks on Earth up to speed on our particular requirements. They had problems producing ¼” square tubing in the lengths we wanted, gravity fields being what they are, but we were getting them up to 25' lengths, and welding them together ourselves once they arrived. It took longer, but we needed all we could get, and were only producing about 35 percent of it ourselves. We were just that badly short handed.

          Things seemed to be moving along well for a while, and then we started having quality problems form the Chinese. That proved to be another whole can of worms.
          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 23.

            Ohhh.....I LIKE it!
            Gregory Peter DuPont