Executive Office Building
Washington DC, USA
Friday May 21, 1999
Jeff Wilson, head of presidential security, was having trouble with all the unorthodox changes. He had had no problem that Bruce Maclaren had been promoted and assigned to a special project by the President, but hadn’t understood why Bruce was so often the only agent in meetings that the President had. Then the President had ordered that the entire party that had rescued his daughter were allowed to go armed around the President and his family. When he heard the reports about the shooting range and that Claire was going to be armed, he came directly to the President’s office.
Bruce had just left with Leslie, Will, and Jess to go to the meeting.
Dave and Sol were seated on the couch discussing last minute plans. Robert was listening. It was similar to discussions that he had heard among his grandfather, parents, uncles and aunts as long as he could remember, but more intense and not with the easy of those that had known and loved each other for years. He was seeing two men that were used to being the dominate ones in a discussion work out an understanding of the other. Robert got a heads up from his father that Jeff Wilson was upset and was coming in unannounced so he interrupted the President. “Sir, company.”
Jeff Wilson entered the Oval Office.
Robert noticed that Dave instantly stopped his conversation. Yes, he had caught a bit of the warning that dad had sent. There should be no problem with getting him trained this weekend.
Jess sent a message that only Robert received. He is another with potential.
“We should train him this weekend.” Robert knew who Chief Agent Wilson was from the day of the rescue when he had made it a point to meet all of the people that had been suddenly dropped into his care. He and dad had hit it off from the beginning.
Dave only acknowledged Robert’s comment with a smile. The agents from his current detail were concerned at the way their boss had stormed into the President’s office. Dave waved them out. “Jeff, have a seat. I apologize for keeping you in the dark. The new worlds are not the only new thing that we have to learn to live with.” He directed Jeff to the other couch and then sat with him. “Most of what I am going to tell you was learned this week. It is hard to believe this without a demonstration.”
“Well, he doesn’t have any coins, but I know why he and dad hit it off so well. Besides his gun in the shoulder holster, he has one at his back and one in an ankle holster on the left side. Extra magazines in special holders are sewn into his jacket pockets. He has two knives.” Robert barely paused. “Dad pointed out the lock picks and garrote in the belt. Also, he has spare batteries for the ear piece.”
Jeff was sitting there with his mouth open.
“It is a lot to take in, but it seems that you and I will both be learning how to do it.” Sol said.
“Jeff, Sol is correct. I also will be learning how to do most of this. As I understand it, they have only learned how to do it this week though some of them have had lesser skills. Robert learned much from his younger cousins and then figured out how to teach Claire. The rest of the family has had lesser abilities for years and now they are all able to learn more and teach it to others. Yesterday, they found that they could recognize the ability to learn in others. I learned about the ability to find and train more people this morning. They recognized the ability when they met you in the outer office.” Dave explained.
“It was how Brenda was able to teach Claire to be an expert shot yesterday. We are monitoring the area around the White House and keeping track of all the people in the area and especially those who are armed. We are not sure of what percentage of the population has the potential but the percentage is small. It runs in families and people with the potential are attracted to each other. Do you and your wife sometimes know what the other is doing or share feeling or thoughts?” Robert’s question had changed Jeff’s expression from startled to a smile.
“Yes, we have had such moments. Also we have had them with the kids.” Jeff’s smile started to slip. “Will they be able to learn?”
“That question is one you will have to answer as you decide who will and will not be trained among the agents and their families.” Dave said.
“That is a lot to consider.” Jeff realized. “Vice President DeSang and Director O’Reilly?”
“Both have the potential. They were more obvious than you were or we would have said something to Dave earlier.” Robert answered.
Jeff looked between Dave and Robert.
“Robert and Claire are Life-Mates. That is when two people find that they have a deep connection between them. Sue and I found out that we were also Life-Mates. We have shared feelings and some thoughts but we are learning more.”
“We cannot identify people who are Life-Mates unless a person has met both of them.” Robert nods towards Sol. “In Sol’s case, we met him today and had monitored his wife as she toured the building. That was enough to identify them as Life-Mates. My sisters are eager to find theirs now that we have found this out. When Linda Steele and my brother Willy found each other last night, Mary and Brenda were almost as excited as they were.”
Jeff was taking this all in and you could see that he was seeing both positive and negative aspects that he was going to have to deal with. “Sorry for barging in here, sir. I almost wish that I hadn’t and life could have remained simpler.”
“Life keeps getting more complicated all the time. We are just having three major changes dropped on us in less than a week.” Dave looked at Robert. “I hope that you don’t have any more in store for me.” He wasn’t surprised at the look on Robert’s face. “Don’t tell me now. We need to get to the meeting. Jeff, you are with us.” He stands and gathers some papers from his desk.
They headed out the door.
White House Conference Center
Washington DC, USA
Friday May 21, 1999
Robert followed President Clarke and Doctor White out of the elevator and down the hall. They were surrounded by Jeff and five other agents. Robert realized that he was soon going to play a part with which he was not comfortable. It would look to a lot of the people there that he was there because of his connection to Claire. It was the best excuse they had for one of them sitting with the President and passing him notes. He had felt that Claire would be the better choice, but Sue had said that Claire was a known quantity to the people there. He was not, so he could do things without it seeming out of character. He might seem odd, but the President would be communicating by Monday and could then handle communications on his own.
When they entered the presentation room, Brad Henley, the Chief of Staff, met Dave just inside the door. “Dave, everything is set up just as you requested. Everyone is present except Dr. Reynolds and the First Lady.”
“Thanks, Brad. Sue and Kim are talking with Professor Mei-lei White. She is a zoologist. All three will be here when they are done.” Brad nodded in understanding. Dave continued to the table at the left front of the room. Solomon White moved to his right and Robert to his left.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasure to introduce Doctor Solomon White. He will be heading our efforts to explore and colonize the new worlds. Besides having doctorates in medicine and physics, he is also a popular writer of science articles and science fiction. He will be reporting directly to me. The position will be made a temporary cabinet post that will expire in early 2001 if the new president doesn’t request for it to be extended.”
“Also, this is Robert Maclaren. He will be assisting me today.” The three of them sat down. “Time is short so I won’t have time for questions before the meeting. I know that you all have been briefed about the adjacent worlds. I assume that you have all had time to look over the outline and the few items in the briefing package. Things are moving at a fast pace which is why we need Doctor White.” Dave glanced at Brad, who signaled that it was time to start. Dave folded his hands and sat back to watch the television monitors.
There were four large monitors to the right front of the room. Three of the monitors were labeled for the three countries. Each showed three people. The fourth monitor was labeled Presentation. A picture of Dame Alice as she made her presentation on the Adjacent World Theory was displayed.
“My name is John Harvey Lawrence. I am directing the efforts by the United Kingdom to explore the four worlds that Dame Alice Farwell Maclaren and Jess Maclaren have given us the ability to access. Seated with me are Prime Minister Charles Blake and Professor Marie Maclaren Lawrence, my wife.”
“For Australia, Jonathan Albright will be directing their efforts. Seated with him are Prime Minister James Hunt and Ian Macphater.
“For the United States, President David Clarke is currently overseeing their efforts. With him are Doctor Solomon White and Robert Maclaren. I believe that it is safe to say that Doctor White has accepted the responsibility of directing the United States efforts.
“I will be running the meeting today. That responsibility will rotate between Jon Albright, Sol White, and me. Our next meeting will be at this same time tomorrow when we expect to have the initial reports on man’s first exploration of the four worlds.”
“In a moment, Prime Minister Blake will say a few words. After him, Prime Minister Hunt and then President Clarke will speak to us. Prime Minister Blake.” The camera didn’t shift but continued to show the three sitting at the table.
“This is a historic week. Mankind has four worlds to explore. Will we meet other intelligent beings or will we still be alone but with four additional worlds on which to live. Our three countries are joined together to explore these new world. We will map these worlds and learn about them so that windows can be set up so that all mankind can safely share these worlds. What we do is for all mankind. Jimmy.”
“As Charlie said, we may meet other intelligent beings on these worlds. We know what has happened on Earth when one group of people met with another. One was usually conquered if not destroyed. We plan not to repeat this on these new worlds. Prime Minister Blake, President Clarke and I have agreed to work together to ensure that we have peaceful relations with any intelligent being that we meet. Dave.”
“As Charlie and Jimmy have said, our three countries will be working together to explore these worlds. One reason is to ensure the safety of those who visit these worlds, but another is to ensure that some of the problems that exist on Earth do not have an easy time taking root on the new worlds. We cannot and will not try to keep these worlds to ourselves, but we will work to see that our ideal of representative government of free men has a head start. To this end, only one world, Water, will be identified to the world once the knowledge of the existence of an adjacent world becomes public knowledge. There have been others attempting, all in secret, to access an adjacent world. All of these governments and private groups believe that there is only one world. Therefore, that is what we will acknowledge. The secret will not hold long, but we will gain extra time to allow freedom to take root on the new worlds. John Harvey.”
“Jess Maclaren will say a few words about the Adjacent World Theory and the invention of the windows that we will use to access these worlds. Jess.”
Jess stood up and walked to the front of the President’s table. He stood in front of Robert who stood and moved so that he could see the monitors.
“Most scientific theories come about through observation of natural happenings and finding that what we understand about the world doesn’t match what is observed. A new understanding is sought to match the observations. That is not how Alice came up with the Theory of Adjacent Worlds.”
“Alice, my cousin Will, and I grew up together. From an early age, Alice told the two of us about the dreams that she had. These weren’t typical dreams. These dreams came true. We never spoke about it to anyone else. When we were ten, Alice got a different type of dream. They weren’t dreams that came true in a few days but ones that were many years in the future, when we had kids and grandkids. In these dreams, we lived on different worlds. These were worlds that we could just take a step and enter. Alice still had the other type of dreams, but variations on these new dreams kept occurring. In the dreams, Alice saw herself providing the information that I used to make the window that we stepped through to these other worlds. For Will, she saw the role of protector. We talked this over for many months trying to understand what it meant. What bothered us more was the question of why were we learning about this. Alice sought help from the only source she knew of that could provide it. She prayed. That night she had a darker dream. Men, women, and children were seeking shelter on these worlds. We now had the why.”
“We discussed what we must do to make the dream of having these worlds for protection of mankind. What we came up with was that Alice had to determine how to get to these worlds. She had to learn science and math. I had to be able to make the equipment to allow us to get to these worlds. Will’s task was to protect us. We set upon our courses and each became the person that we needed to be. Through the years, Alice had additional dreams that guided what we did. We told our families little about Alice’s dreams and our goal. I think our daughters, Marie and Kim, and Will’s wife Leslie came to understand some of what drove us but this wasn’t talked of except among the three of us.”
“With Alice’s death, we lost more than a wife, mother, friend, or mathematician. We lost a guide. I know of the dreams that Alice told me of, but she had others of which she didn’t speak. Nor are the dreams one hundred percent certain, for she saw herself with us on these other worlds.”
“What I know for sure, is that we will live on these four worlds, that we will find no alien civilizations on these worlds, and that there is a disaster coming which requires these worlds for man to survive. What I don’t know is when the disaster will strike or what it is. Alice had no dreams of the disaster only of people fleeing.”
Jess sat down.
Before the stunned silence ended, John Harvey started to speak. He was holding Marie’s hand. “Neither my wife nor I knew the whole story that Jess just related. What he said fits with the things that the three of them have done and how they lived their lives. He speaks of how they were guided by Alice’s dreams as if they were guided in what they did. Recently there have been too many things occurring that also lead one to believe that we are getting outside help. To me the story rings true, but we still need to assume that things can differ. Alice did see herself on these other worlds. We do have a reason now to believe that what we will do with these worlds is more important than what we had thought.” He paused and many people started to talk to the people near them. “Let us take a fifteen minute break.”
Dave turned to Robert who had returned to his seat. As he suspected, he saw that Robert was in the middle of a major mental discussion that took most of his attention. He started to turn to Sol but Robert looked at him.
“Sorry, I let myself get too caught up in the discussion about what Uncle Jess said.” The distant look had gone from Robert’s eyes. “As John said, it all makes sense now that we have heard what Uncle Jess has told us. None of us knew about what Aunt Alice, Uncle Jess, and dad had not told us. Uncle Jess and dad are supplying more information but nothing major. My take is that we are on the right course but what we are doing takes on more significance.”
“I agree. We need to discuss this but there is no need to change what we are doing now. Also we don’t want this getting out to the public.” Dave said.
Sol had been listening to them. “I also agree. I would suggest that we start looking for possible disasters that would fit. I can think of two right off that would require more space observation. The two are an asteroid or comet hitting Earth and an alien invasion. Additionally, I don’t see from Jess’s statements that we should consider Earth as the location of the disaster. He spoke of people escaping through the windows but he didn’t say from Earth.”
Dave was shocked. He had assumed that they were fleeing from Earth, but it could be from one of the other planets. “Sol, I am very thankful that I selected you. Continue to consider what we have learned, but concentrate on the original task. Also, I would like a list of possible people to work on looking into the types of disasters that we could face.” Dave turned to Robert. “Let John Harvey know that I want to speak.”
“I have passed along what was just said. There is general agreement with it. Uncle Jess and dad had also always believed that the disaster was on Earth but they agree that nothing that Alice had ever told them had specified Earth. John Harvey says he will call on you first.”
Jeff went over to talk to Bruce. “The President has informed me of some of what has been going on. It was right before the meeting so I am to meet later but I am not sure with whom to get more information. There is to be some training this weekend and then I am to consider bringing more agents and their families in for training. I assume that you are the only agent fully informed?”
“I don’t think anyone is fully informed. What Jess just told us was known only to Alice, Will, and Jess. Will and Jess didn’t know everything that Alice did. Therefore, no one is fully informed. If you mean, am I the agent who has learned the most, I would say yes. I feel that we are caught in an avalanche and more and more things and people are being dragged in.”
“I see what you mean. I need to sit down with you and discuss the implications of this to our protecting the leaders of the country. We will have to come up with some criteria for whom to train.”
“Jeff, they believe that this having abilities has reached a critical mass. They are finding that with so many around that have abilities that those with the potential are developing abilities. That they can now train is good, but what we may also need to do is also keep an eye out for those that may be developing on their own. This will include the families. It may become automatic that when an agent is trained that any family members with the ability would also be trained. We may need to arrange special vacations for the family where they can go off and train while having the time to adjust.”
“Those are the types of things that I need to know.”
“I am staying late to start my training. Do you think that you could stay?”
“I had expected that Sandy was already going to be upset with my having to be here all weekend for the training. If I start tonight, then I will have something to show her that will help to explain.”
“Jeff, the training won’t be all weekend, it’ll only be a few hours. They have learned how to speed it up. Things are changing during the meeting. That’s why Robert is with the President. He is giving him additional information as it comes up. That gives you an idea of how fast things are changing. Run as fast as we can and hope that we can keep up.” They both laughed.
As the fifteen minutes draws to a close, everyone was still talking. Dave tried to call the room to order but no one heard. He stood up and started clapping. Sol and Robert joined him. Soon everyone in the room was watching them and they stopped clapping. Dave smiled and looked around the room. “Let us finish the agenda for the meeting and then we will talk about what else is needed.” He sat down. Everyone else returned to their seats.”
John Harvey and Jon Albright had also brought order to their meeting rooms. John Harvey addressed the meeting. “Before we get back to our agenda, President Clark would like to say a few words. President Clark.”
“Sol, brought up a point that I believe that we missed from what Jess said. It wasn’t said that the people were fleeing through the windows from Earth. It could be from one of the other planets. Jess and Will, did Alice every say that the people were fleeing from Earth?”
Jess and Will exchanged a look and then Will stood up. “No, it was never mentioned from where they fled. Jess and I realized this only minutes ago. If Alice was still here we could ask her, but from what we know, we have no answer.” Will sat down.
“I propose that we set up tri-country meetings like this to organize our efforts to look into the possibilities of world threatening disaster. Over the next few days, we need to determine who from each country will be involved. I propose a meeting on Wednesday at 6 AM Washington time, where we will start our efforts to address these possible disasters. Each country will need someone to direct their country’s efforts. Thank you.” Dave sat back.
Jimmy Hunt replied. “I agree with Dave’s plan. I also appreciate the different time selected.”
Charlie Blake agreed. “The meeting is a good idea. This search should be brought forth first to the public as it will lead to a better understanding about the adjacent worlds. John Harvey, you may continue with the meeting.”
“Next on our agenda is a discussion of the initial exploration of the four worlds. The United Kingdom and Australia are ready to explore. Australia is preparing to explore at the close of this meeting. We will explore first thing in the morning.”
“We are referring to the four worlds as Air, Earth, Water, and Fire. Once we have learned more about them and have people living on them, we will look for appropriate names. The only criteria we have presently, is that the planets not be named after a person. Jess Maclaren was insistent on that. The name should be descriptive for the planet or of an ideal.”
“At the Smythe-Industries’ Kingmoor facility near Carlisle, England, we have good access to the worlds Water and Earth. Mixed teams of civilian and military will conduct the initial exploration. The first major item to be transported will be an emergency window for return to earth. It will be set up and turned on before full exploration is started. At the first sign of an alien civilization, we plan to retreat to earth after removing all signs of our presence. Water will be the first world to be entered followed by Earth. Exploration of both will be conducted simultaneously. Separate windows will be set up for transportation of material. Material for buildings, supplies, and equipment to set up a compound will be transported. We expect to have small compounds with facilities for over a hundred people set up by Monday. Long-range exploration will be conducted for the next week on both worlds as we determine the location for major settlements. Jon will explain further about plans for exploration.”
“As John Harvey mentioned, Australia will start our exploration immediately after the meeting. Our location is at Lavarack Barracks near Townsville. It is convenient to both the MME facility and James Cook University. We also are basing our plans on those developed by the three companies. We will make our first entrance onto the world Fire. This will be followed by the world Air. We also will be setting up compounds on each of the worlds. Locations for major settlements will need to be determined after we explore the worlds. They will be located within a few miles of our initial windows since the pictures that we have show easy access to good locations on all four worlds. We have coastline on all four worlds within a few miles of where we are now. One of our first tasks will be to explore all four worlds. We plan to start exploring on the other two worlds either Monday or Tuesday depending on what we hear from the exploration at Carlisle. I want to say a few words about the equipment and planning that MME, S-I, and TDI did in preparation for exploring these worlds. I have expected weeks to get set up, but once I found out what they had ready, we were able to be ready in a couple of days. The equipment powered by the AJ Power Generators is amazing. President Clarke, I believe you wanted to address the status of you exploration effort.”
“Our initial window opening is being held up by the need of Jess Maclaren to go to TDI. He will leave today. We will look for good locations to setup and then open our windows at those locations. Each window needs a location on land where the elevation is the same so that you can go from surface to surface. Doctor White will be familiarized this weekend and then he will go to TDI in Dallas to direct operations. We should have our first window open within a few days. We hope to be as lucky in Texas as they were in finding good locations in Carlisle and Townsville.”
Kim and Mei-lei entered the conference room.
“John Harvey, Kim and Professor White are here.” Dave mentions the arrival of Kim and Mei-lei. He waves them to join him. Robert gives his cousin his seat. Mei-Lei stood next to her husband.
“Doctor Kimberly Maclaren Reynolds will now discuss the flora and fawn that we expect on these worlds. Kim.”
“Before I begin my discussion, I would like to present Professor Mei-lei Huang White. When Doctor White was selected, we ended up with a great bonus. Mei-lei is a zoologist whose specialty is determining the evolutionary connection between different species. As I will explain, her expertise will be very useful as we explore these worlds.” Kim gestured towards Mei-lei, who smiled and nodded.
“I am a geneticist at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, MD. Earlier this year, I was making a microscope observation when bacteria appeared in my field of view. I had been videotaping my work so I was able to go back and observe the appearance of the bacteria. In one frame, it wasn’t there and in the next one, it was. I called my mother and explained what I had seen. She had no idea what had happened but would consider it. She suggested that I identify the bacteria. I couldn’t match it exactly with anything but it was similar to a common type of bacteria. My mother and sister looked at the equations for the Adjacent Windows theory for very small windows.”
“The energy requirement for a window is non-linear. This is the reason that we have an upper limit on the size of the window that we can open. Above the largest size window we will use, the energy requirement increases sharply. The energy requirement for very small windows that would allow a bacterium or a virus to cross between worlds has an extremely small energy requirement. Marie can address the math behind the adjacent world theory if you have any questions.”
“From the windows to the three worlds that were opened on Monday, we were able to get some biological samples. My aunt, Dr. Margaret Gillon, took air samples from the Air and Earth worlds. Samples of small flora and fauna were also taken from the Earth world. When my mother was killed by water from the lake, a fish from the Water world also came through. Examination of these samples shows that the bacteria and viruses are very similar to those on Earth. The larger samples revealed that they were similar to what we have but they diverged like Australia and the Socotra Archipelago flora and fauna does from other Earth species.”
“Based on my mother’s belief that there are no civilizations on these worlds, I believe that life may have started on our Earth and moved to these worlds. We have had a mixing of microscopic life forms ever since. I expect that we will find compatible life forms on all of these worlds.”
“Thank you, Kim.” John Harvey said. “Besides investigation of the life forms, there are a number of other scientific investigations that I would like to mention.”
“We will do detailed surveys around every window area. We want to determine if the mapping from world to world is really one to one. This will help us in determining where to set up other windows. Meteorological stations will be set up so that we can work towards predicting the weather. Astronomical observatories both optical and radio will be set up. We want to find out where in the universe and hopefully in our galaxy the worlds are located. Even more important we want to investigate the solar systems and nearby stars. We may have nearby intelligent life.”
“We will be doing mappings of the planet. At first, this will be by exploring on the ground, but we expect to have air borne exploration as soon as we confirm that there are no high-level civilizations. The initial plans are for high altitude balloons, RPVs and small manned airplanes. The infrastructure for long-range airplanes or rockets will take a while to set up.”
“With the mapping we will be taking geological, air, water, and earth samples so we can identify areas where we may want to settle.”
“That is all for now. We are keeping it short since we will be having the first exploration starting at the end of the meeting. Marie and I will be able to stay for about a half hour. We need to be up to observer the exploration from here though we probably won’t be going over right away. Jon, good luck on your exploration.”
“You also, John Harvey. President Clarke, we could use Sir William and Leslie Maclaren back here as soon as possible. They are instrumental in the MME planning and execution.”
Robert answered, “General Albright, we will be back as soon as we have everything set up here. Mom and Dad may be another week or so. We are sending help sooner. Willy will explain.”
“Thank you Robert. Not that your grandfather and brothers are not taking care of things, but your mom and dad have always had a special touch for getting things done.”
“You may find that more of the family has a special touch than you expected.”
“Well, I just wanted to make sure that they weren’t held up. I need to get out to the site.” Jon Albright stood and left.
Robert sees that Dave was concerned about Jon Albright. “Don’t worry. Willy plans to spend some time with him once things settle down. Once he learns certain things, he will be a little easier to work with. He has just retired or mom and dad would have had him working for us earlier.”
Dave smiled as he realized what Robert had really told him. “So we have a measure of the people both here and there.”
“Yes, and we need to talk to him before he gets even more upset.” Robert replied.
Dave looked up and saw Speaker Albert Hartley approaching. He had always been hard to deal with even though they were of the same party, but after his wife had suddenly died at the beginning of the year, he had been almost impossible. Dave had had to call in favors to keep the other house members from kicking him out as Speaker. He looked at Robert who nodded his head.
Dave stood up. “Al, let us go to my office. We have too much to discuss to do it standing around here.”
Dave’s offer to have a long talk had surprised Al. “Yes, that would be a good idea.”
“Would you like to stay for dinner? I thing that you will find that two or three hours won’t be enough to give you everything that you need to know.”
Al was surprised. He and the President had never been on close terms. To be invited to dinner and a long talk was very unexpected. The offer seemed to offer more than what he had wanted to talk about. Maybe he would be able to get through some of the secrecy that was surrounding so much this week. “I would like that.”
Dave turned to Jeff. “You and Bruce should start on that assignment that I gave you. Take the Whites and get things started for them.”
“Yes, sir.” Jeff realized that the President wanted the four of them to start their training. Bruce would know where they would have to go and whom they would have to see.
The President turns to the Speaker. “Al, did you bring anything that you need to get?”
“I had a briefcase. It is over by where I was seated.”
“I will get it, Mr. Speaker.” Robert turned and went to retrieve the briefcase.
Dave could see that Al has questions about Robert, but he couldn’t figure out how to ask them. “You will learn more about Robert when we talk. Let us head on out so that I can start with the explanations. Robert can catch up.”
Al Hartley was now sure that there was more to learn than he had expected.