Prose Header

The Hades Connection

by Gabriel S. Timar

Chapter 23

part 2 of 2

The arrival of Presidents Holdsworth, Park, and Kamarov was a gala occasion. There were twenty-one-gun salutes, marching bands, and all the trimmings of a prestigious international gathering.

When I asked for a private meeting with the big shots, the Presidents wanted to have a few advisors around, but I vetoed it. The matter I wished to discuss was very sensitive, and I permitted only Mike, Esther, and Ensign Garfield to be present.

“Gentlemen,” I began, “I would like to introduce you to a member of my staff, Ensign Teri Garfield. She was a history major prior to joining the space fleet, and she has made a few startling revelations. With her help, we established the fact that the history of Khomu is almost identical to yours. She accurately described the events related to the terrorist attack on this hotel. On our world, it ended in a bloodbath; our history books call it the Phoenix massacre. Garfield actually saved the lives of many people.”

There was eerie silence in the room.

“However, my preventing the massacre did not change the timeline of history,” I continued. “All the events leading to a nuclear war on this planet are still on track. I am determined to stop the holocaust; not because I am a humanitarian or a good guy, but because the continued existence of your world means the survival of my people.”

I stopped to take a breath. President Kamarov took this opportunity to express his doubts: “Can we have some proof?”

Before I could say something nasty, Garfield replied: “Most certainly, sir. What would you like to know?”

“An important election is coming up in the Republic of South Africa,” Ilya said. “There are three candidates for the presidency: a Zulu Chief, a white industrialist and the SANU president. Can you tell me which one will win?”

“This is very easy,” Teri replied. “Chief Mzilikazi will, surprisingly, win the election by a landslide. Mr. Bloomfontain, the white industrialist, will get ten; and Ms. Kamwanga, twenty-eight percent of the vote. In fact as soon as the results are in, South Africa will apply for membership in the Northern League.”

“All we have to do now is wait a day,” replied Kamarov, “then we will know if you are telling the truth or not.”

“I’m afraid we cannot,” I said. “There are a few pressing matters needing your immediate attention.”

“Permission to speak, Captain,” Garfield said.

“Go ahead Ensign.” I smiled. I knew she had studied the computer in the morning and had found a few newsworthy items in which to rub the noses of the politicos.

“Today is November sixth,” Garfield started, “and it is Wednesday eleven a.m. Eastern Time. There will be an unexpected announcement in a few minutes, which will send Wall Street into a nosedive. A major corporation, Union Computers, and the software giant, Deltasoft, will ask for chapter eleven protection.

“High-tech shares will take a tumble, and the Dow Jones will lose four hundred points today. The slide will continue tomorrow and even the resources sector will take a heavy hit.” She looked at her watch. “If you have Union Computers shares, you have no more than ten minutes to dump them.”

“I don’t believe that,” Holdsworth said calmly. “It is impossible. Union Computers is solid as the rock of Gibraltar.”

“It is your opinion, sir,” I said, “I’d be inclined to go with Ensign Garfield’s prediction.”

“Would it help if I told you that the New England Patriots were going to beat Buffalo 28 to 6 on Sunday?” Garfield continued with the confidence of a professional.

“Would you like to back that up with some moola?” asked Park, the ex-professional football star with a smile.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” I got into the act. “I am not going to let Ensign Garfield go into the fortune-telling business. Let’s have a cup of coffee and check the market results.”

“Good idea,” Ilya remarked. “Mike has the connections to the media, he can get us up to the minute information.”

“I have the stock market ticker,” Mike said, “courtesy of the NUTS representatives. We need it because in an hour the International Space Agency bonds go on the market. As they are all government guaranteed, they will go fast. It was Yoshi’s idea to get funding for the first stage.”

“I should have been told,” roared Holdsworth.

“I didn’t know about it either,” I noted. “I’m sure if anyone of you had known, it could not have remained a secret for very long. Besides, you gave full authority to your representatives to do what was necessary to get the project off the ground.”

It was Garfield’s time to turn gray. “Captain, please stop the International Space Agency issue of the bearer bonds or have the issuer change the logo, the color or anything about them. There was a huge counterfeiting operation on Khomu producing exact replicas of those bearer bonds. The ISA went bankrupt because of the counterfeiting. If you change the format, the color, or delay the issue, you may foil the criminals’ plans. The bogus bonds were ready for shipping a day before the issue of the real bonds. On Khomu this happened much earlier than here.”

A few frantic telephone calls made by President Holdsworth stopped the issue of the ISA bonds. By chance it turned out to be a very well-timed move since following the Union Computers and Deltasoft announcement of the chapter eleven bankruptcy, the stock market headed south. From that day on, Teri Garfield’s credibility surpassed the Pope’s by a mile.

Both the Russians and the Americans immediately mobilized their fearsome military machinery and started making menacing moves in the vicinity of the People’s Republic of China. The U.S. Fifth Fleet moved into the Sea of Japan for extended war games jointly with the Russian naval task force out of Vladivostok.

Under these circumstances, Kuo could not possibly start threatening the Japanese, who remained members of the Northern League. Without the industrial might of Japan, the Rising Sun Alliance would be no more dangerous than the Boy Scouts taken over by anarchists.

The ISA bonds went on sale a couple of days later; in view of the continued retreat of most equities, there was a great deal of interest. The International Space Agency slowly became a reality, and the actual manufacturing of the thruster field components began.

The first task was instruction. The team of terrestrial experts developed a training program for the construction workers and began personnel selection.

The first phase involved the fabrication of transport containers. These modules were made of lightweight titanium and had thick insulation, which could double as crew quarters for two people. Several solar panels were loaded into the containers, along with components of the supporting structures and massive energy storage units. They were supposed to go into orbit and later be captured by Khomu ships for delivery to the Lunar surface.

The second stage included the construction of a number of force field generators to provide a safe working environment. Under these conditions, the technicians could work without having to wear a space suit. The coupled force fields would create a double dome, which retained air and shielded the surface against meteorites.

For safety, each dome extended five meters below the surface, protecting an area about the size of a tennis court. A thruster unit required that much space. Two domes joined side by side formed a working unit. The crew was supposed to live in one and build the thruster in the other.

To protect the central facility, housing offices, hospital, material storage, and a garage for the special vehicles, the engineers planned a larger, double-skinned dome. Their generators were supposed to go into similar containers as those in the first phase.

The locations of the thrusters were precisely calculated. This was a particularly important part of the construction, because the foundation transmitted the thrust to the common center of gravity of the Moon and the Earth. In addition to the correct location, precise soil examination and layout measurements were essential.

The construction equipment used the same principle as conventional bulldozers and backhoes, but instead of blades and buckets, the Khomus used various force field configurations. These were far more reliable than the conventional machines, and their accuracy was greater.

By the time the bulk of the workers arrived, the advance team had placed the equipment and the materials at the proper sites and activated the force fields. The workers were supposed to move in and start building the foundations of the thrusters.

The last stage of the work was the manufacture of the actual thrusters. This was perhaps the easiest because they were huge, hydrogen-powered jet engines. Their components went into the same standard containers.

In fact, the thruster field on the Lunar surface turned Earth into a huge spaceship. I foresaw eventually a gigantic force field covering the Earth and the Moon. If the sun cooled, the “ship” could easily move closer or travel to another solar system. This scenario was the work of my overactive imagination and had no bearing on my assignment.

The ISA awarded the contracts according to the schedule prepared by the Khomu scientists. The rockets to blast the containers into orbit were under construction at an accelerated pace. The terrestrials started the conversion of old military rockets to blast the components of the thrusters into orbit.

I was satisfied. Everything was apparently on track; the Earth’s people were working hard. It was likely that by the time the Nimrod arrived, she could haul the first components of the system to the Moon. I knew my old ship would reach Earth in a couple of months. Shortly thereafter, the Khomu fleet had to arrive. By that time, the work should be progressing well, and there would be no need to shoot it out with the terrestrials.

* * *

In the safety of the captain’s cabin on board of “Baby,” I was taking stock of the situation. I figured this was more or less the end of my assignment. The only thing I had to do was set up a mechanism to keep the terrestrials on the straight and narrow. I was sure the guns and Stuart Nelson-Sired, the capable new captain of the Nimrod, would manage it after the ship arrived. However, I had to leave someone on Earth in charge until the Nimrod could take over.

Somehow, I had to contact my Head Office, check with my boss, and find out what else he had in mind for me. The only catch was that I did not know where my real home planet was.

I thought I could remedy the situation by returning to the Nimrod and having a long talk with the ship’s doctor, Joe, who was supposed to be an agent of Hades, Ltd.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2004 by Gabriel S. Timar

Home Page