Ch 9 US Cabinet Meeting

White House
Washington DC, USA
Early Afternoon, Wednesday May 19, 1999
 
President Clarke usually arrived at Cabinet meetings just before the scheduled time.  For this meeting he was early.  He looked forward to finding out if what he suspected was true about the boys.  He remembered that the twins had easily found the most Easter eggs at the White House Easter festivity.  When their father had told them that they could each only keep one egg, they each had immediately chosen an egg.  They had not shaken or weighed the eggs.  They each knew which one they wanted.  Then they had deliberately chosen which egg to give to each of the other children.  It looked like they knew what the eggs had in them.  He had wondered about their behavior a number of times in the past month.

Senior Agent Bruce Maclaren escorted Jess, Will, Leslie, Tom, Rob, Kim and the three young boys into the conference room.  The adults of the family were surprised at the number of people there.  It was going to be a full cabinet meeting along with a few generals and others.  The children had known how many people were there and looked forward to performing for such a large group.

Kim turned to her father.  “Did John Harvey brief this many people when he spoke to Prime Minister Blake.”

The President had heard her.  “Prime Minister Blake indicated that he had had a much smaller group when your brother-in-law spoke to him.  He suggested both to me and earlier to Prime Minister Hunt that a large meeting would be useful.”

Jess looked at the people waiting to hear what they had to say and then at his grandsons.  “If I had known that the meeting was to be so large, I might have asked that the boys meet with a smaller group.  Well things are set and they don’t seem to mind the attention.”

Chief of Staff Brad Henley made the introductions.

President Clark looked around the room.  “I had originally asked for a meeting to discuss the AJ Power Generator.  It’s implications for the US and the world need to be understood so that we can plan for less disruptive changes in how we do things.  Jess Maclaren early this morning mentioned that there was a related development to discuss at the same time.  This I agreed to.  Today, you are all aware that his family was responsible for the rescue of my daughter Claire.  There are questions regarding that event that need to be answered.  Jess requested that they supply that information at this meeting also but he needed his three grandsons present at the start of this meeting for the explanation.  I had met the boys at the White House Easter celebration.  They had intrigued me at that time so I agreed.  So with that background, I will turn this first portion of the meeting over to Jess Maclaren.”

“Thank you, President Clarke.  That was enough of a buildup so now for our demonstration.”  He turns to Jason.  “Jason, behind that door at the other end of the room, is there anyone just beyond it?”  Jess asked.

“There are two men standing to either side of the door.  There are two women and a man sitting beyond them.”

A number of people started to speak but Jess raised his hand.  “Jerome, are there any guns beyond the door?”

He replies, “The two men by the door have pistols and there are some rifles farther away.  Like Dad keeps his guns.”

The room is hushed as Jess turns to Eric.  “Who has guns in this room?”

Eric glances around.  “The three men and the women standing up have pistols.”  He looked around the room again.  Then he pointed to a woman at the other end of the table.  “She has one but it isn’t metal.”

President Clarke looked at the CIA Director.  “Margaret, you know that only the Secret Service is to be armed.”  He shook his head.  He had had this discussion before with her.  It looked like she had gotten a plastic gun to carry to the White House.  The Secret Service had drawn their weapons.  She smiled at the boys.  She carefully pulled up her skirt and took the gun out with just two fingers of her off hand.  She handed it over to an agent.

Bruce was impressed.  That was how they had set up the take down.  They must have used the radios to relay the information from the boys.  Without thinking, he asks, “How did they know where Claire was?”

The president smiled at Agent Maclaren asking a question.  He indicated for Jess to go ahead and answer.  Bruce Maclaren caught on real fast.  He is a good man to have in an unusual situation.  I expect that more of those types of situations would be showing up.

Will is the one to answer the agent’s questions.  “Yes, the boys were how we got the information we used to rescue Miss Clarke.  Jason remembered her from meeting her here at Easter.  When the news was showing picture of the embassy and saying that she was there, he was saying “No, No, No”.  When I questioned him, he said that she was with three men from the house behind us and they were heading back our way.  They are the unsung heroes of the rescue.  I believe that it would be better to keep it that way.”

The president had started clapping.  Soon everyone in the room was.  Yes, thought President  Clarke, this is something that should not be made public.  This is the only recognition that these boys would get for some time.

John Hauffman, the Nation Science Adviser, asked a question, “What type of range do they have?”

“The demonstration was only to show how we knew to set up to rescue Claire Clarke.  Obviously, we couldn’t call the police with this type of information.  I considered that with the information that the boys could provide that we could safely rescue her.  I feel the most important consideration isn’t the abilities and training that enabled us to perform the rescue, but how it was that we were in the right place at the right time.  This was the second time that I was placed in a position to do God’s work.”  Will surveyed the room where the implication of his statement causes a buzz.

Margaret O’Reilly had had a couple of times as a field agent that she could only attribute her survival to God.  She had read the complete report on Will and several other family members.  She asked, “The Falklands was the other time.”

Will faced her, “Yes.”  He continued.  “Rob and Kim should escort their boys to the rest of the family and then return.  In the mean time, I will give a summary of how we used the intelligence.”

The President directed one of the agents to escort them.

Will gave an outline of the take down.  There were a few questions but the President cut it short when Rob return.

“Where is your wife?”  President Clarke asked.

“My daughter woke up and Kim had to attend to her.  Mrs. Clarke told me to go back to the meeting and tell you that Kim would be along later.”

“Well, the boss has spoken,” laughed President Clarke.  Everyone joined in.  It was no secret that theirs was a marriage of equals.

Will summarized the family’s position.  “The boys are too young to directly support any activity that you might be contemplating.”  He looked around the room.  “We would like to explore what they can do but at the same time let them grow up like other boys.  We would be willing to share the findings with the three governments, but Rob and Kim want to remain in charge of their children’s lives.”  He and the President looked around the room.

“That sounds reasonable to me.  Continue.”  President Clarke could tell that Will was not finished.

“Rob and Kim will be relocating to Texas.  We believe that they can be better protected there.  They’ll be working for the family.”  He paused.  “The incident today has put our family in danger of reprisal from those who ordered the attacks.  We need the help of the US government in ensuring our protection.  We will also be asking the same from the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia.”

“That is what governments are meant to do for their citizens.  The US will work with the United Kingdom and Australia to guarantee your safety.  I personally have reason to come down hard on these terrorists.  We can set up discussions about this outside this meeting.  Agent Maclaren, I would like you to handle this.”

“Sir, that is above my grade level.  I am willing to participate but such an assignment calls for a more senior agent.”

“I will see that your grade level matches this assignment.  Your handling on the incident today leads me to believe that you are ready for more responsibility.  “

“Thank you, sir.”

“Now Jess.”  The president chuckled.  “There are too many Maclarens to be saying Mr. Maclaren.  I believe that you have other important revelations for us.”

“Mr. President, the AJ Power Generator will cause a revolution by freeing man of many of the negatives of previous methods of generating power.  However, as revolutionary as it is, Alice and I only came up with the idea because of her prior discovery.  We needed a means to prove that idea and a better power source was needed.”

There was a flurry of questions asking about this other discovery.  Jess kept quiet until the President has restored order.

“Ok, Jess you have our undivided attention.”  President Clarke had several conflicting emotions and thoughts about what he was finding out about this family.

Before Jess could speak, Sue Clarke led Kim with baby Alice into the room.

“Sorry for the interruption.  Every time that Kim tried to leave the baby, she started to cry.  She was so quiet when Kim held her that, I felt that we could risk bringing her to the meeting.  Kim insisted that I accompany her.  She said that she wanted me to hear what was said.”

Vice President Algernon DeSang was very annoyed by all the irregularities that had been going on.  “A baby doesn’t belong…”  He cut off in mid-sentence as he fixed his attention on the baby.  He relaxed.  “Let me get you a chair, Susan.”  He rose and placed a chair between the President and himself.

Will looked around the room and then looked at his cousin who had also just surveyed the room.  Jess nodded.  Will thought.  It was not only I that notices what Alice is doing to everyone in the room.  She was not just lying there in her mother’s arms.  Jess also could feel her exuding a calming influence over everyone.  Ah!  President Clarke and his wife have noticed it also.  He again noticed them communicating without words.

Sue Clarke walked over to the chair.  She smiled at the Vice President “Thank you, Al.”

Kim had taken her seat beside her husband.

President Clarke wondered what amazing thing he would see next.  Al DeSang though he had been my vice president for both terms had never had more than a professional relationship with him or his family.  To have him offer a chair to Sue and standup and bring it over to her, ranked as one of the biggest surprises of the day.  The three boys were amazing but he expected that their sister would be the one to watch.  Well, I need to get this meeting going again.  He looked out over the table.  What was Margaret doing by the baby?  She was a spinster wedded to her job.  She looked more like a great aunt the way she looked at the baby.  Enough.  Back to business.  “Margaret, we need to proceed.”

She looked up sheepishly.  “Sorry, Sir.”  She returned to her chair.

President Clarke thought.  OK, that is definitely the biggest surprise of the day.  Probably of my lifeShe has been contentious with me in every meeting that we ever had.  Now she says “Sorry, Sir” and means it.

“Jess, I believe that you were going to explain what it was that required you and your wife to come up with the AJ Power Generator.”

“We needed the power to open a window into another world.  Some of you might remember Alice’s Theory of Adjacent Worlds.  Worlds close to Earth but not through space and time.  A theory met almost universally by skepticism or worse.  After a few weeks in the press, you heard no more about it.  Some thought that she had slunk off after the criticism that she had gotten.  She had not.  She had presented her paper at the conference, but we knew before hand that the mathematics wouldn’t be understood.  The press conference after the presentation is the only time that she spoke about it in public.  Reporters hounded her, but we knew that wasn’t the way to convince people.  We knew that the only way was to show them a new world.  Therefore, from the start we planned for Alice to present the theory fully knowing how her colleges would react.  We then went off to prove her theory.”  He paused as he relived the memory of what happened Monday.  “Alice died Monday when water from another world poured over her and the equipment.  She was electrocuted.”  He paused again, ready for the questions that he knew would come.

“What proof do you have that there is another world?”  John Hauffman, the National Science Advisor, asked.

“Video and what looks to be a fish.  It is the file named ‘FirstTry’ in the video directory.”  He passed two DVDs to the president, who passed one to Hauffman.  He handed the other to Henley and indicated that he wanted to see it.

Jess pointed to Kim.  “My daughter is Doctor Kimberley Reynolds of the National Human Genome Research Institute.  She was going to go into work tomorrow to analyze the DNA of the fish from the sample that we had brought.  We had planned to have her present her finding to you on Friday.”

“How do we know that the fish or any of the other life on this other world has DNA?  If it does, how do we know that we don’t have to be concerned about diseases from this world?”  Asked Vice President DeSang.

“That was something that had us concerned from the beginning.  There were many diseases carried back and forth when Earth was explored.  What diseases might we find on another planet?”  He took a short pause, and then continued before another question could be asked.

“A few months ago, Kim told us of something that she had observed at work.  It took Alice three days to come up with an explanation.  Before I give you that, let us have Kim tell you what she saw.”

“I was observing a sample of bacteria under a microscope.  Suddenly there was another organism there among the ones that I was observing.  I repeatedly replayed the video of the observation, but it had appeared out of nowhere.  On one frame, it wasn’t there and on the next, it was.  I analyzed its DNA and found that the DNA was similar to what we would expect for a similar organism in this world.  In fact, I identified it as a common organism found throughout the world.  I couldn’t figure out how it had appeared.”  She nodded to her father.

He continued.  “We knew that to open a window into another world, the larger a window was the more power that was required.  Alice now looked at what was required for extremely small windows.  Her equations showed that the energy was also extremely small.  Something as small, as a cell could cross over anytime that the conditions were right.

“What conditions?” asks the President.

“We do not know.  We expect that they are extremely rare or Kim wouldn’t have been the first to report it.  But it means that single cell organisms and other life have been exchanged between the worlds all along.”

“That could be, but I would recommend a cautious approach.”  Hauffman asked.

“Yes we found out Monday that there were three dangerous we hadn’t anticipated.  On the first world we lost a temperature probe when the window size fluctuated and cut the cord.”  Jess replied.

“First world?”  DeSang had read the discussions on Alice’s Adjacent World Theory.  All of them had been about a single world.

“Yes, there are multiple worlds.”  Jess looked around the room of people that were intently paying attention to everything he said.  “Alice had calculated initial settings for four worlds.  She died when we opened the window to the third world.  For the first world, we observed only ocean.  Sea level was close to Earth’s sea level.  The air through the window was very cold.  Alice put the outdoor probe from a thermometer through the window and measured -2°C.  The probe wire was hanging across the edge of the window.  The cord was cut when the window fluctuated.  It would seem that we have a method to cut anything.  We closed the window while a clamp held a piece of metal at an angle in the window.  The cut was mirror smooth and not hot.  The edge was extremely sharp.  On the second world, we viewed dirt that appeared to be a couple of feet underground.  We took a sample but figured to move the equipment to the second floor to view that world after we got back from visiting our new granddaughter.”

Mary Clarke saw that talking about his wife bothered Jess, but not to the extent that she would expect after seeing how close his family was.  She would have to look into it.  She needed to learn more about this family.”

“What of the fourth world?” asked the President?

“We started to check that out later after the equipment had been repaired.  But we realized in going over Alice’s notes that she had had symbols in her doodles by each of the settings.”  Jess paused.  “Alice had included the symbol for fire by the fourth set of co-ordinates, just as she had the other three symbols, air, earth, and water.  She had drawn the Greek symbols for the classical elements, fire, earth, air, and water.  Since we had seen air at the first window, earth at the second, and water at the first, we wondered what type of fire we might see at the forth window.  We opted to believe the second worst possibility.  The first, a star ,wouldn’t meet the criteria of a planet similar to our own.  The next worst possibility was a volcano.  If the window opened into a volcano on this other world, we would have no way to protect ourselves.”

President Clarke realized that what Jess was telling is true but that he was leaving something out.

“Sir, I have the video ready.”  Henley said.

“Good, dim the lights.”  The President said.

They watched Alice and Jess as they opened the first two windows.  They heard and saw their excitement.  When they opened the window to the third world, they saw Alice’s death and Jess’s action to revive his wife.  The video cut off at that point.

Kim had not seen the video, her mother’s death had started to upset her until Alice calming influence again came into play.  Sue Clarke had heard Kim as she reacted to her mother’s death.  She had turned and seen her calm down in seconds as she looked at her daughter.  Kim smiled now.  Sue did not understand what had happened, but something had allowed Kim to accept her mother’s death.

The lights went back up.

Jess continued his presentation.  “After Alice’s death we realized that we needed help in exploring these new worlds.  The family had planned to explore from three areas, Scotland, Texas, and Queensland.  We had developed the equipment that we thought we would need with companies owned by our relatives.  Smyth-Industries, Trail Drive International, and Macphater Mining Equipment are privately held companies so they didn’t have to make public announcements about what we were doing.  Texas Instruments was the only public company that had a major interest in what we were developing.  All they knew about was the controller for the AJ Power Generator that they were building.  Rob and I designed the controller for the AJ Power Generator so that they would also control the opening of a window.  TI knew about the first use but not about the second.  In licensing the controllers, I put in a requirement that S-I, TDI, and MME would have priority on purchasing the controllers.  They had preliminary information about what the controller could do and have been designing equipment to use it for months.  Some of this equipment had applications here on Earth as well as exploring new worlds.  I believe that TDI’s presentation to the military may have been one of the factors leading to this meeting.

President Clarke nodded, “Yes, between a compact power source that required no fuel and the ATVs that made no noise and didn’t need to be refueled, you caught our attention.  Why haven’t you build any larger vehicles?  Wouldn’t larger vehicles be useful on these other worlds?  What if you met hostile natives?”

“We cannot open up a large window.  The power necessary to do that increases very substantially for windows past the size we are planning to use.  To open up a window big enough to let a truck drive through would take more power than the largest nuclear reactor.  Looking at the power requirement curve, we decided to live with the limitation.  Therefore, there will be no driving between worlds.  MME is experienced in moving material in the crammed conditions found in mines.  They designed equipment to move material through the windows.  We will assemble large items on the other side.  Assembling larger vehicles requires more work than is needed for initial exploring.  We felt it would be easier to open a window at a new location than build vehicles to move items on the other side.  We have a good transportation infrastructure on Earth.  We needed to explore before we decide to add some on the other side.”

“Your choice of transportation for exploring makes sense.  Why were you planning to keep the new worlds secret?”  President Clarke asked.

“To be the first there.  To go where no man has gone before.  Remember the reception Alice’s presentation received.  We also wanted to have solid proof, but not everyone disbelieved Alice.  A couple spoke up but others kept silent.  I expect that Russia, China, India, and other countries have people looking into this.  I am surprised that the US hasn’t been experimenting in this.”

“No, we do not have any research in this.”  President Clarke replied.

Margaret O’Reilly spoke up.  “Excuse me, sir.  That isn’t exactly correct.  The CIA has a project as well as other agencies.  There are also three university experiments and a few private organizations.  I can also confirm government funded experiments in the countries mentioned as well as a few others.  Most of the western countries also have university and private projects that are looking into it.  None of them has made any progress.  Funding hasn’t been easily available but I believe the biggest problem to be that no one understands the mathematics.  They are all trying to use Dame Alice’s presentation as a cookbook to work it out.”

“Why haven’t I been briefed on this?”  The President was upset that he has not been told about the projects.

“It is a lot of different people working on small budgets.  The research on pyramids is two to three times as large.  Both are theories that most people don’t believe.”  O’Reilly replied.

“Pyramids?”  President Clarke looked at Jess.

“We aren’t into that.”  Jess laughed.  Everybody got a chuckle out of that.  “Word of what happened Monday will get out.  I see all these projects getting more money and mathematicians will look over Alice’s equations with the knowledge that they are correct.  We should expect others to be opening windows this year.”

“What do you see the government’s roll being in exploring new worlds?”  President Clarke asked.

“The same as what we had discussed when we talked about the boys.  The government should be there to protect the people.  First, we need exploration, which will identify the safe places to open windows.  We envision a database with information about each of these worlds.  Initially, it would only be a co-operative venture between the three governments.  Eventually it would be open to anyone.”

“But you expect the knowledge about these windows to other worlds to get out soon.  How can we keep this secret?  Al DeSang asked.

“The common assumption is that there is only one world.  Doctor Solomon White presented that interpretation in the article that he wrote on the Adjacent World Theory.  Every enquiry that Alice ever got in the past couple of years made that same assumption.”  Jess answered.

“So, we could just mention one world when the information gets out.”  Al considers the implications of that.  “That would help to keep knowledge of the other three worlds secret.”

“Yes, mention the water world that we opened just before Alice died.  Everyone has been thinking in terms of one other world.  Lie by omission.  Everyone will be thinking about one world; just don’t mention the others.”  Jess continued, “As to the governments roll, it is the same basic ones that any representative governments has for the people.  It is to enable the people to safely prosper.”  He paused.

“We need to find out what is over there.  At first, I believed that a shuttle mission or airplane with a window with equipment to look through a window would be able to map these worlds.  We could then provide the rest of the world a map.  When we opened the window to the first world, we found that a heavy electrical current was being generated.  With the other two worlds, the current was much smaller.  We believe that unless a window is tied to ground through solid or liquid that a heavy electrical current will be produced.  Until we know more about this, we believe that it is too dangerous to use a window in a plane or shuttle.”

 That is why they did the work to develop the sensors.  President Clarke smiled.  They did plan to include governments in particular us in the exploration.  They just wanted a head start.  I do not blame them for that.

Before they could start discussing, the grounding problem, Jess continued.  “Open a window into the unknown can be dangerous.  We saw what happened when you opened the window underwater, but what would happen if you opened one up into a volcano?  We need to figure out what is dangerous and tell people.  We feel that the governments should help by organizing the exploration.  They’ll act as a clearing house for the information that we will learn.”

Will interrupted, “We have also realized that these windows pose a threat that the governments needs to be aware of and develop measures to counteract.  Mister President, what would have happened if the terrorist that attacked your daughter had the ability to open windows from another world into Washington or another city?”

Many of the people around the table went pale.

Jess continued, “We had planned to start exploring and colonizing before the knowledge became public.  Announcement of the AJ Power Generator was planned to give reason to all the work we had been doing.  Most of the equipment that was designed had applications in this world.  The specialty designs weren’t that far from the type of products that each company had designed over the years.  The presentation of the ATVs were planned to interest the governments in what we were doing.  Once we were talking at a high enough level, we would have revealed our exploration and colonization of the other worlds.  Alice’s death made me realizes that we couldn’t risk anyone else opening a window before we are able to assess the risks and map the worlds for good crossing points.  We have the ability to explore and colonize, but we had planned to start from our three locations and explore until we found a good area to colonize.  We would then build our colonies.  We expect that we only have a few months before others had build windows.  We planned on selling our equipment to everyone.”

Vice President DeSang interrupted, “What is the danger of terrorists that would cross over into Washington or another major city from another world?  They could bring an atomic weapon across.”

Jess looked the Vice President in the eye.  “We have good transportation on Earth.  Why would it be easier for them to carry an atomic bomb across uncharted oceans and lands to deliver the bomb with the small vehicles that can be taken across?  We have a while before that threat will emerge.”

“But in time they can do it.”  Vice President DeSang replied.

“Where will the hottest pieces of property on the new worlds be?  They’ll be where the big cities are.  You can have a house in the country that is a few minute walk from where you work downtown.  You will have police protection there before you know it.”  Jess responded.

Vice President DeSang still couldn’t accept Jess seeming lack of concern.  “How can you know that we won’t face a terrible danger?”

Will answered, “You never can.  You can only take precautions.  Sometime in the future, we will face a natural disaster that could destroy life, as we know it on Earth.  It could be a new ice age where we have years trying to combat the advancing ice.  Or it could be a major meteor strike where we would be lucky to have a month’s notice.  If we have only Earth, civilization if not mankind is dead.  We now have five worlds to live on.  Mankind is much safer over the long run.

“The long time isn’t what I am worried about.”  Vice President DeSang raised his voice.

The President was about to put an end to the discussion, but Jess raised his hand and stopped him.  “The long run is what is important to mankind.”  Jess looked around the room considering whether to reveal the information than only he, Alice, Marie, Kim, and Will knew.  His gaze halted on Alice.  He felt that she was encouraging him to tell the secret.

Jess reached for his water glass and took a drink.  “Alice didn’t arrive at the knowledge of the other worlds through her equations.  It came to her in dreams.  She sought the explanation for her dreams in her math.  She and I were of the generation that learned to hide under the desks when we heard the attack sirens go off.  This bothered Alice.  She felt that man couldn’t be allowed to die.  She started having dreams of other worlds that you could take a step and be in another world.  She felt that once we had these other worlds we wouldn’t have to fear the bombs.  As she grew older, she continued to have dreams of these worlds and of us living in them.  She dreamed of these worlds in which mankind lived.  She saw the windows that we could walk through but that we couldn’t drive through.  She never saw any intelligent life.  Mankind prospered.”  He pauses and looks at Al DeSang.  “That is the knowledge that we based our plans on.  Only a handful of us knew of Alice’s dreams.  We set our goals based on the dreams but we made our plans on the science and engineering that we developed to make those dreams real.”

The room was stunned.  Everything was based on Alice’s dreams and they had become real.

Jess holds up his hands until he has everyone’s attention.  “Just like a seer in the stories, Alice didn’t see all that was to happen.  I know that her death came as a surprise to her, but I don’t know of any of her dreams that had been proven false.  They are only guides.  Often they were very vague.  I will give you an example.  When I was close to getting my degree, we often talked about what I should do when I graduated.  We were concerned that I would get a job that would have long hours or would have me traveling.  Alice had a dream where she saw us living in a village near where we had grown up.  I had a shop at home where I designed and made items that would help people.  Alice and I had lots of time together with our two girls.  The clear things in the dreams were interrelations with people.  We lived near our families, I did things at home to help people and we had lots of time together as a family.  The only specific things in the dreams were the village that we would live in but not the house nor that we would have two daughters.”  Jess again paused.  “Alice is the ones that had the dreams.  She told me what she felt was important.  I remember much of what she told me but I don’t know the dreams.  Without her knowledge of the dreams, I don’t want to say too much about what she told me.”

“Jess that is a remarkable story, thank you for telling us about Alice’s dreams.  It will help us understand much of what the three of you have started.  I see that just like your career, the exploration and colonization was initiated for goals other than personal gain.  Again you will be financially successful from the exploration and colonization, but that isn’t the driving force, but the result of doing what you do very well.”  President Clarke said.

“I see that you understand what I was trying to convey.  I would like to leave this meeting now.  This discussion had brought up many memories that I would like to have the time alone to think on.”  Jess said.

Alice had begun to cry.

President Clark looks at Jess, Kim, and Alice.  “Maybe the three of you should go and rest.  The others in your family can help us to understand what we need to do to go on from the start that you have given us.”

“Thank you.”

An agent led Jess and Kim from the room.

President Clarke asked Will.  “Can you summarize what you have developed for the exploration?”  He is surprised when Leslie answered.

“I am in charge of planning MME’s activities.  I am Vice Chairman of MME and president of the Out of This World Adventures division.”  Leslie thinks.  When Alice and her family had first visited our station, she had suggested to Leslie that name for the new company that would be offering camping and hunting trips.  Did Alice know back then that they would be exploring other worlds?  “The name of my division was suggested by Alice.  Some think of the outback or even Australia as another world.  Under that name, I have been recruiting couples that were interesting in exploring.  I haven’t explained where they would be exploring but discounted vacations where they received their initial training has allowed us to prepare over five thousand families with some twenty thousand family members that we can set up to live and explore on these other worlds within two months.  We planned on having transfer points in each of the three countries.  The ATVs and other special equipment are in production.  We expect that inclusion of the military and other government personnel will delay the full transfer of the colonist no more than two weeks.”

“Good lord, you were planning big.”  Vice President DeSang is surprised by the magnitude of their plan.

“Yes, this is just what we were able to do without drawing attention to our operations.  Once the public is aware, we plan to scale up.  Other types of equipment that we have planned besides the ATVs includes farm equipment, saw mills, water and sewage plants, mining equipment, earth moving equipment, and road building equipment.  All will be powered by AJ Power Generators.  Where we found an advantage as with the ATVs to do a bottom up redesign we did.  Otherwise, what was developed was just to power them without carbon-based fuels.  My favorite is a catamaran propelled with electric motors.  It can be assembled from a window above the sea.  The hulls are sent through first and then the cross bracing.  The rest is assembled around that structure.  It was developed as a design project by a team of student engineers.  The professor was the only one in the know about the true goal.  It was presented as a test in thinking outside of the box.  When they demonstrated it, they used batteries instead of the power generators.  MME has hired most of them.  There first job was to redesign it for the power generators and larger motors.”

Will took over.  “As you can see, we have given a lot of thought into what we may need to colonize another world.  We haven’t gotten it all right.”

“I am amazed at what you have done, but I don’t want to keep this from the public any longer than we need for addressing the security concerns.  I believe that we have a lot about which we need to think before we can make any plans.  How long are you expecting to be in the area?”  Dave realizes that there is much more that must be learned.

“My family and I need to be in Dallas next week.  On Monday, we were to take delivery of a shipment of power controllers for MME.  It would be good if we can get my daughter Mary back to Townsville by Tuesday.  She is needed to oversee the setup of the window generators.  Tom is going to Dallas to oversee increasing production of the power controllers.”  Will said.

“What is the availability of the power controllers?”  President Clarke asked Tom.

“Current production is one hundred thousand per week with just the one fab now in production.  We will double production in that fab by the end of the month.  Two additional fabs will be in production within a month.  Plans are underway for additional fabs to be brought on line in Europe and SE Asia.  I will be suggesting that we license production to other companies.  All three of our companies have just increased our orders for the controllers.  Other companies that have finished engineering evaluation of the power controller in their versions of the power generator have placed their initial orders.  That is why we are looking at all the extra fab capability.  Jess had contracted to have the special equipment needed for building the devices developed by a company that can ramp up delivery quickly.  They thought he was crazy with the initial order but they are also ramping up for the additional need.  What do you expect your initial need to be?”

The president looked around the table but no one had an answer for him.  They were as stunned as he is by how fast production was ramping up.

Leslie saw that they would have to consider their needs before committing.  “Let us start with an additional one hundred thousand per week for the three governments.  That will start sometime in June.  We will increase the orders, as each government understands their needs.  Initially, your needs will be met with the equipment that we are already building.  I believe that all three companies are increasing production as fast as they are able without firm orders to secure additional funding.  If you can place initial orders for the ATVs and other items that you can quickly identify we can use that to get additional financing to expand more quickly.”

President Clarke looks at the Defense Secretary who responds.  “Our initial thought was to buy over a thousand of the ATVs.  The demonstration showed them to be so much better than any similar vehicle we have ever looked at as well as being quiet and not needing fuel, the handling and speed were amazing.  Besides, you can use them as a power generator.  Knowing what I know now I would say that we should commit to five thousand.  Hell, I want five for the family.”

“I will verbally commit to that then.”  President Clarke looked to the two Congressmen that are attending the meeting.  “We will start thing rolling with Congress tomorrow.”

“Oh, I don’t think Congress will be any problem.”  Tom explains.  “Congresswoman Sandra Smith-Lewis has a number of her colleagues from both houses down at her mom’s ranch for some hunting this week.  I understand that they were going to use the new ATVs.  In addition, there is no one scheduled for next week if anyone else would be interested in some hunting.  I am sure that there would be other things to see if anyone is interested especially if they took a tour of TDI.”

President Clarke looks at Vice President DeSang.  “Al, you are an avid hunter.  Why don’t you choose two or three others to accompany you on a little hunting trip?  I will have to pass on this opportunity.  Too many people would question why I was going hunting so soon after my daughter was kidnapped.  If you happened to be able to find room in the C-5 for a couple of the ATVs, I am sure we can put them to use at Camp David.”

“My pleasure, Dave.”  Vice President DeSang had a broad smile.

“Sir, would the order now be five thousand and seven.”  Leslie asked.

“Mr. President, I suggest that those two would be the first ones in an order of a hundred that the secret service would want.”  Bruce Maclaren suggested.

“Yes, let us include one hundred for the Secret Service.  Good suggestion.”

“Each of us needs to go and consider what impact these revelations will cause and how we should deal with it.  PM Blake has suggested a joint teleconference for Friday to discuss what each of the three governments is doing and how we can work together.  I will have a meeting tomorrow to go over what you come up with and what we will do.  We will have to have cover stories to explain the meetings.  The terrorist have provided one for the next few days.  Now, let us break up and consider what we have learned.”  President Clarke rose.

Everyone started to rise.  Sue Clarke turned to her husband.  “Dave, I had wanted to have the Maclarens and their family and friend for dinner with us tonight.  I understand that they were going to go to Quantico for protection until the other terrorists are caught.  Could we put them up at the Blair House?  That would be more convenient tonight and over the next few days when I am sure that most of the people here will want to be talking to them.”

President Clarke looked at Brad Henley.  Brad said.  “I believe that Blair House is free until President Santali’s visit in three weeks.”

“Excellent, let us put them up at the Blair House.  It will be convenient and the protection there can handle the terrorists.”

“Yes, sir.”  The chief of staff replied.

President Clarke called Margaret O’Reilly over.  “Margaret, I don’t have a problem with you carrying a handgun to and from the White House.  I would like you to leave it with the Secret Service while you are in the White House.  You should work out a similar agreement with the Congress.”  He turns to the secret service agent who has the gun.  “Give her back her pistol.”

“Yes, sir.  I just don’t like to feel helpless.”  Margaret replied.

“Claire was voicing that same sentiment.  She saw the agents, her teacher, and some of her classmates gunned down and she could do nothing.  I would like to get something like your gun for Claire.  Is that a CIA issued gun?”

She smiled.  The president is my type of politician.  Protection first.  “Yes, it is CIA property.  I keep others in my car and at home.  Why not keep this one for Claire.  I can also get another two for you and Mrs. Clarke.  All three of you will need to get Secret Service training before they’ll let you carry one.”

Dave hesitated but then realized that what she said made sense.  “Thank you, for the advice and the guns.  Send the other two to Agent Maclaren.  Claire’s weapon training is related to the assignment that I will be giving him.”

“Yes, Will Maclaren would be a good person to consult on training your family for self protection.  We saw the results of his training today.”  Margaret expression had turned serious.

Dave nodded and Margaret walked away.

Bruce is talking to Brad Henley when the President called him over.

Dave handed the plastic pistol to Bruce.  “I would like you to see that Claire learns how to use this gun so that she can help with her own protection.”

“Sir, Secret Service policy is that only the Secret Service is to be armed.  That includes you and your family in those that are not to be armed.”  Bruce answered.

“I want that changed.  I want Claire, Susan, and I trained so that we can protect ourselves if necessary.  I do expect the Secret Service to ensure that we never have to, but I want us to be able to protect ourselves if there is no other option.  That also will be part of the training along with knowing not to use the gun unless there is no other option.  Claire was upset that she saw the killings and she couldn’t do anything.  I know that she should also be taught when to surrender, but she will choose when to do that.”

“Sir, that goes against every procedure for protecting someone.”

“Not Will Maclaren’s.  I would like you to talk to him.  With the interest Claire and Robert are showing in each other, he will be more than willing to help.”  Dave smiled as he considers how Claire has reacted to Robert.  He was glad that it was not one sided.

Dave noticed that Will and Leslie have not left the room.  They were talking with Sue.  “Will, would you give us some advice.”  Dave beckoned him over.

Will, Leslie, and Sue came over.

“I was requesting that Bruce see to having Claire trained so that she could carry this pistol and be her own last line of defense.  She was upset that she couldn’t do anything when the terrorists killed her friends and captured her.  You have taught your family to protect themselves.  I thought that you could help us plan her training.”

Will looked at Bruce then Sue.  He saw that Sue is in agreement with Dave and that Bruce is the one that will have to be convinced.  “Dave, Leslie and I practically started the training at birth.  Guns were always a part of our children’s lives.  The guns were off limits until the child had earned the right to learn how to use them.  They were only to touch them when an adult family member was present until they were fully trained.  Claire didn’t have that early start, so her training will be different.  Does she have any weapons training?”

“Dave and I grew up with guns.”  Sue was answering Will’s question.  “Claire and Tommy have lived in the White House for the last seven years.  All of us have had a Secret Service course in what to expect and do if there is trouble.  That included going out to a shooting range and becoming familiar with guns going off around us.  They also learned how to handle a gun but not fire it.”

“That is a good if you are not part of your own defense, but there is a lot more.  We need to give Claire a chance to fire a gun and see how well she takes to it.  You do have some people that haven’t grown up with guns that are almost impossible to train.  I don’t think Claire will be one of those.  I suggest having Mary or Brenda train her.  They have been working with Alyca and assisting her with the training that she gives.”

Dave asked, “Jess’s niece Alyca Maclaren who designed the controls for the ATVs?”

“Yes, that was one of her designs.”

Bruce added, “She won a silver medal in the 96 Olympics for three-position rife and the biathlon world championship this past winter.  If she has been training them, that explains why you had Brenda on the front line and Mary as sniper.”

Will corrected him, “Leslie was the sniper.  Mary was the spotter.  Leslie has a rifle that Alyca designed for her.  It fires the same cartridge as the M107.”

Brad asked, “How does Alyca do so much?  The briefing said that she was only twenty-three and hadn’t mentioned the athletics.”

“She spent a lot of time helping Jess as a young girl.  Where Jess is laid back, she is driven.  She has a plan but she hasn’t confided it to anyone.  I am looking forward to meeting the man that catches her eye.”

Dave asked, “I would like to meet her.  More so, I would like Claire and Tommy to meet her.  You have a lot of very interesting people in your family.”

Will smiled.  “I expect that you will have a chance to meet a lot more of them.”  He paused.  “Would it be possible to have all of us get some time on the shooting range.  I believe that after what happened today, it would be good to work on our shooting skills.”

Dave smiled.  “It didn’t appear that way this morning.  Bruce, could you arrange it?”

“I will arrange for us to go to the FBI range at Quantico tomorrow.  It would be a good time to have Claire start to fire a gun.  Will, I assume everyone will be going.”

“Yes.”

“I hope that the training will help Claire get over the trauma of the kidnapping.  She felt helpless but this will give her the ability to get over that feeling.  We know it will take some time for her to learn but it will be good for her to start right away.”  Sue was very much in favor of Claire learning to protect herself.

“She won’t be able to go armed at school.”  Bruce knew that having a student armed would not be allowed.

“She won’t be returning to school.  She doesn’t want to expose everyone there to a repeat of today’s event.”  Dave paused as he remembers how strongly Claire had made that point.  “She has already skipped two grades and was taking advanced courses.  She says that she will study at home to pass any courses that she needs.  All she needs is another English course to have all the requirements.  She will wait until I am out of office to start college.”

Leslie smiled as she considers what a good match Claire was for Robert.  “Robert finished school last winter.  The girls have just graduated from the University of Edinburgh.  All three will be combining exploring and college at James Cook University in Queensland starting this fall.  Claire could join them.  The university is situated next to MME and the Lavarack Barracks.  Protection will be easier there.  I am on the board of regents so there should be no problem with a girl of her abilities and connection gaining entrance.”

“We can talk about that this evening over dinner.”  Sue said.

The President was intrigued by the idea but didn’t comment.

Chapter 10

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