Ch 17 Too Many Secrets

Smythe Industries Kingmoor Facility
Carlisle, Cambria, UK
Saturday May 22, 1999

The second infantry company arrived at the Smythe Industries Kingmoor Facility just after midnight.  When the Chief of the General Staff realized that the Australians were setting up at Lavarack Barracks and would have more than a brigade available with a company going into each world, he rushed to make more men available.  John Harvey’s only requirement was that the military keep as low a profile as possible.

Sam Pace, John Harvey’s brother-in-law, had the night shift the night before they would open the windows to the two worlds.  He had expected that he would have little to do.  They had great managers and workers.  In fact, he wasn’t even a member of senior management; they just needed someone from the family who could mentally communicate to be on site in case anything came up.

With the second company, had come their battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Richie, and his headquarters company.  He asked to talk to John Harvey.  When he had found that John and all of the rest of the family except Sam were home asleep, he asked that John Harvey be called to come in so he could be briefed on what was going on.  When Sam had received the phone call from the Jimmy Bronson, the night facilities manager, he had realized that Richie had been sent down here with almost no knowledge of what was going on.  Sam would have no problem briefing Colonel Richie on what was planned, since all the local family members were familiar with what would be going on the next day though John Harvey or Marie would be better at explaining the why of what was happening.

Sam left his office to speak with Colonel Richie.  As he exited the engineering offices building, he saw Jimmy Bronson talking with a group of Army officers.  Jimmy had the responsibility to ensure that anything arriving during the night got where it needed to go.  John Harvey had expected the second Army Company to arrive no sooner than late morning, so he hadn’t given Jimmy any instructions regarding them.  I guess Colonel Richie decided he needed to know why he had sent two of his companies here.  They probably decided that he didn’t have a need to know but had forgotten to tell him that he couldn’t come here and directly oversee his men.  “Colonel Richie, I am Sam Pace.  John Harvey Lawrence is my brother-in-law.  My mother-in-law, Leslie Smythe Lawrence, is the chairman of Smith-Industries, which is owned by the family.  I am the Lawrence family representative on site tonight.”  They shook hands.

“I was ordered to have a second company report to John Harvey Lawrence.  He was to brief them on what they were doing.  They moved up their deployment from next week when the engineers would have joined my battalion to form the new battle group that I will command.  I decided to come here and find out what we would be doing and why the second company was needed in such a hurry.”

Just as I suspected, rushing the second company here had raised his concern about what we were doing here to need two Army companies ready for combat.  “Colonel Richie, I need to talk to you in private.  Could we walk over across the courtyard?”

Colonel Richie nodded and he and Sam walked across the courtyard.

“John Harvey wasn’t expecting the second company until morning.  He and the rest of the family are at home.  We expect to have a long busy day.  There is a briefing scheduled at six AM which you and a few of your senior people should attend.  The meeting will last an hour and then we will start right after the meeting.  You would be able to get full information then from John Harvey and the others.  I can give you a summary of what will be going on but I am not the person that should answer most of the questions that you will have.”  He is going to want to know how and why about the other worlds and the windows.  I’m not the best person to answer those questions.  Sam knew his limits.

“If operations start just after the meeting, then I need to know what will be happening so that I can ensure that my people know what they need to do.  Mr. Lawrence needs to brief us before the meeting.”  Colonel Richie’s tone and words were just short of an order.

“Minister Lawrence has been assigned responsibility for all United Kingdom efforts in this endeavor by Prime Minister Blake.  He will be holding a video conference meeting this evening that PM Blake, President Clarke, and PM Hunt will be attending.  The first topic will be what the Australians and we have accomplished.  Additionally, what the United States is doing to catch up.  I’m not sure how long that meeting will last but I don’t see it being less than a couple of hours.”  Sam’s family had lived next door to Marie and John Harvey for the past nine years.  He had known JJ all his life and had built up some tolerance to his nephew’s power of persuasion.  The colonel was good but not in JJ’s class.

Colonel Richie realized that he had been out of line in demanding a briefing from John Harvey.  This wasn’t just some protection assignment for a member of Parliament’s family’s business, the assignment involved working with Australia and the United States.  What could be happening here and in Australia that was ahead of the United States’ effort?  “Sorry, it does look like I need your summary so I will know what I need to ask about.”

“Everything is happening extremely fast.  John Harvey only informed Blake, the Cabinet, and the military on Tuesday.  Australia and the United States found out on Wednesday.  We were lucky that Claire’s kidnapping gave us an introduction to her family.  Jess Maclaren is in Texas and he should get the United States ready in a few days.”

Charles Richie was totally confused.  What was happing that had gotten the three countries moving in only a few days?  What did the kidnapping of the US President’s daughter have to do with what they were doing?  Jess Maclaren was one of the Maclaren’s that had rescued her.  “How is Jess Maclaren involved?”

“Jess Maclaren is John Harvey’s father-in-law.  Jess, his wife Dame Alice, and Sir William Maclaren started everything by giving us the means to explore other worlds.  The Australians are right now exploring the first two worlds.  We will explore the other two in the morning.  Your men are here initially for protection as we set up compounds in each world.  We also expect to encounter an intelligent species on one of the worlds.”

“You are serious.”

“Yes, we have video of the initial exploring that Jess and Alice did.  An accident killed Alice on Monday.  That was the first time that the window was tried.  She died as they accessed the third world.  This is what I want to show and discuss with you and your senior people.  Here is a picture of the species that we believe is intelligent.”  Sam showed a photo to Colonel Richie.

“Yes, we definitely need to meet with you.  I cannot even guess where to start with the information that I have now.”

“Colonel Richie, let us get your men settled in.  We can also give them a hot meal if you want.”  Sam smiled.  This will be more interesting.  Reading reports after switching to third shift without any notice was putting me to sleep.
“Call me Charlie.”

*******

They went over to where Charlie’s people were waiting.  The first thing that Sam saw was Regis and Happy guarding the entrance to where the windows to the Earth world were set up.  Jimmy Bronson had sought to settle the new military unit in the area near the windows, but nobody had told Regis that the new humans were allowed in there.  He and Happy would let Jimmy in but none of the soldiers.  Well there was one there that he accepted.  Major Jamie West, commander of the first rifle company, stood to the side and the two dogs totally ignored him.
One of the officers went to draw his side arm and Major West had run over in front of him to protect him from Regis who had also seen the movement.  With the soldier that he knew talking to the other, Regis sat back down.

Sam turned to Charlie.  “Order your men to stand back.  I need to talk to the dogs.”

“Talk to the dogs?”

“Something else that I need to cover in the meeting.”

Charlie shrugged.  Another secret, well he did wonder why Jamie felt he had to protect Captain Pearce from a dog.  He ordered his men to move back.

Sam and Charlie went over to Regis and Happy.  “Regis, this is Charlie he is in charge of all the soldiers.  If there are any problems, see him just like you would see Jamie.”  Regis nodded then held his paw up to Charlie.

Charlie knelt down and shook the paw.  He could see the dog inhale deeply to get his scent.  That was one smart dog.

“Charlie, I would like you to order your men to relax and not be startled.  I am going to ask Regis to bring the rest of the pack here.”  Sam says.

Charlie told the men that there were more dogs and not to react.  Many of the men had seen him shake Regis’ paw and he heard the whispers as they had passed the tale to those in the back.

Sam and Regis watched the men relax.  “Regis, call your pack in to meet the new humans.”  Sam spoke to the dog.

Regis answered with a series of barks.  Tammy and three other dogs stepped forward out of the shadows right next to the soldiers.  They made their way over to Regis.  Happy gave up his spot next to Regis to Tammy.  He and the others formed a line behind the pair.  Soon other dogs were seen walking past the groups of soldiers.  In about seven minutes, the last one arrived panting.  Over twenty dogs were now in line.

“Charlie, could you lead your men in filing past the dogs.  They need to get everyone’s scent.  After that is done, the dogs will ignore them just as they ignore Major West’s men.  They just need to hold their hand where the dogs can smell them.  A little bit of space between them would help.”  Sam was smiling at the look on Charlie’s face.

Charlie ordered the men to form a line and file past the dogs.  Sam led off, followed by Charlie and then the officers.  Jamie West was standing to the side remembering when his men had done the same thing.

Sam and Charlie stepped to the side.  Sam turned to Jimmy.  “You can show them to where you decided to have them rest.  When they get settled, have them go in groups to the cafeteria.  I saw Delores watching so I expect that she knows that she will have a bunch more to feed.”

“You have trained you dogs very well.  I have never seen anything like that.  We could use some K-9s like them.”  Charlie said.

“They are not my dogs.  Regis knows that I am a family member so he will listen to me.  The dogs belong to my niece.  KA, Karen Alice but everyone calls her KA, or her brother or sister are the ones that they really obey.”

“How long has she been training them?”

“Regis and his mate Tammy for about six years.  She had her father drive her to almost every kennel within a hundred miles until she found the two puppies she wanted.  John Harvey spent five weekends with KA and JJ while Marie stayed home with Less.  We offered to take her so that John Harvey could spend some time at home, but KA said she needed her brother and father with her so she could find the right ones.”

The soldiers had all filed past.  Regis had let out a series of barks and all the dogs except Tammy and Happy left.  Happy went over to a nearby wall and picked up a bone.  He walked back to the entrance and then he laid down to chew the bone.

The officers gathered round awaiting orders.

“Major West, how well have you been briefed.”  Charlie asked.

“Not well enough, sir.  It will take a couple of more days to understand enough to know where I want to start learning and then it will take a couple of months before I know enough to really be amazed at what is going on.  Other than that, I have had good support here and what we have to do in the morning is straightforward.  We will accomplish our mission.  It is just the questions about everything else and how it will affect us in the future that have me asking so many questions, sir.”  Jamie West replied.

Charlie smiled.  He wondered sometimes whether Jamie was better suited to be a scientist or engineer.  The fact that he was a fine officer was why he had chosen his company as the first to deploy.  “From what I have seen and heard, I believe that is a fair assessment on the situation.”  He looked at the other officers.  “Gentlemen, I believe that this is one of those rare occasions that will stretch us more than we believe possible and one that I am looking forward to.”  He saw confusion in their faces.  “We are about to boldly go where no man has gone before.  Yes gentlemen, before the end of the day we will be stepping out on two new worlds.  Yes, that is plural and yes, we will be walking there.  That is all I have learned so far.  Sam Pace will be giving a preliminary briefing.  I would like to have Major West, Major Douglas, and my staff officers attend.  Sam, when do you want to start?”

“A half hour, if you don’t mind soup and sandwiches.  I will have them sent up to the main conference room.”  He pointed to the office building across from where they had entered the fenced area.  “Just go through the door and up the stairs to the top then to the left.  Ask anyone if you get lost.”  He then pointed to the entrance of a building to the left.  “There is a cafeteria through there.  Send your men in groups of ten or twenty every few minutes.  We have room for two hundred and fifty but we have a full crew on tonight so there is not room enough for everyone at one time.  You just have to sign your name and we will bill the government.  It is a flat charge so they can eat as much as they want.  We just didn’t want the government to think we were giving stuff away.”  Sam’s last comment drew a laugh.

“Ok, you have a half hour to get your men settled and start getting them fed.  Have them get some sleep if they can.  There will be no phone calls out.  Have the sergeants go around and check again for any cell phones.  Tell the men that we are going to explore two other worlds and that if anyone gives us any problems, they will not be going.  They can also expect the usual for their misbehavior.  We will have a short briefing at 0300.  I want the men napping and not talking.  We have a lot to do and I expect them to be wide-awake when we are on the new worlds.  Now carry on and I will see you in twenty six minutes.”  Charlie watched them walk off.  He saw them gathering around Major West.  It served him right for not warning him about the dogs.

Regis and Tammy trotted over.  They sat down and Tammy extended her paw.  Charlie knelt down and shook it.  “You two are the smartest dogs that I ever saw.  I am looking forward to meeting KA.”  He could have sworn that the dogs smiled.  He stood up and the two trotted away.

As Charlie accompanied Sam to the conference room, he commented.  “I am surprised that I haven’t heard about KA and her dogs.  My mother has been showing for years and she would have mentioned dogs like this.”

“Oh, KA tried to enter them in a show the year after she got them, but the kennel club said that she was too young.”

“Too young?  My mother had me helping her at shows when I was eight.  If I hadn’t got more interested in soccer, I would have shown Rufus when I was ten.”

“She was only five.  She hasn’t had anything to do with a kennel club since.  She will sell the puppies she doesn’t want but she has shown no interest in showing since that rejection.  If JJ had been older, he could have got her in but he was only three.”

“She picked Regis and Tammy when she was four.”  Charlie was not sure he wanted to believe Sam.

“My nieces and nephew will need to be seen to be believed.  I am glad to find that they are starting to be able to teach their cousins.  My Steve got upset that Happy would listen to KA more that he would to him.  He finally gave him back to her.  KA cried.  She had done nothing but be who she was.  When she talks to an animal, it listens and obeys.  Oh, I should mention that KA has a number of cats also patrolling here.  If you hear a bunch of cats start howling, your men will need to be on alert.  Someone has gotten past the dogs.  Probably with sedative darts like the Chinese agent did Wednesday night.  KA almost let her dogs have her until we convinced her that they were just sleeping.  JJ was not nice when he interrogated her.  He had her crying.  That is another reason that I wasn’t going to wake John Harvey up.  Our security at the houses is stretched.  If you could get another company or two here, we can move the dogs back to the houses.”

“JJ interrogated a Chinese agent that got passed the dogs and made her cry!”  Charlie wondered which sibling he wanted to meet most.  “What does the youngest one do?”

“Oh the dogs and the cats will listen to her and she can get her way when she wants to, but she is never happier than when she is riding one of her horses.  This increased security has her very cross.  She cannot go out riding alone with just her dogs.”

“She is six and they let her go out riding alone.”

“Well, only the dogs can keep up and it isn’t like she is going to fall off of a horse.  Oh, the British Olympic committee is trying to get her an exception to ride in the games at Sydney.  We will have the gold medal if they succeed.  We are trying to keep JJ out of it, because we would have to have him speak to the whole committee in person.  Alyca is using her influence but her best move was when she traded her staying out of the 2000 games to both the Russian and the Chinese separately for their vote to allow Less to compete.  The best part of that is that Alyca had already planned not to compete.”

“Alyca Maclaren?”

“Yes, she is Less’s cousin.”

“After she took the biathlon championship, they said she was sure to pick up Olympic gold this time.  We have used videos of her shooting for training.  Is she here?”  Charlie asked.

They had just entered the main lobby.  “One moment.”  Sam went over to the reception desk.  “Brenda, I will be briefing the military in the main conference room.  Call over and have Delores send over sandwiches and soup for a couple of dozen.  Also a big urn of coffee.  Snag some when it rolls through.”

“Will do.  Thanks for the food, Sam.”

Sam rejoined Charlie.  “Alyca is on her honeymoon tonight.  She and her new husband, Bruce Jenson, will be at the six AM briefing.  He’s the CIA agent that we caught on Tuesday night.  Love at first sight after Alyca put down her guns.  They will be escorting KA, JJ, and Less to the Earth world.  The creatures in the photograph are the reason why the three children are going.  We have seen signs that they’re much smarter than any pack animal that we have on Earth.  We believe that they may be intelligent but they’re not tool users.  KA is going to see if she can make contact.  Depending on how that goes we will know how we have to proceed.  We may have to abandon the Earth world or that territory if she cannot work things out.  We definitely don’t want to start a war or have the genocide of an alien species as one of the first things we do.”

“Will I need to provide a guard when they go out to meet the aliens?”  Charlie asks.

“She is not going out.  She will call them to meet with her outside the compound that we will be setting up.  All three kids will be at the briefing but Marie wants them to catch up with their schoolwork that they missed this week while they were helping out so they won’t go over to the Earth world until later.  That means that Alyca will be very busy instead of extremely busy.  You should ask her about giving a talk about her shooting so that she can work it into her schedule.”

“What will she be doing?”  Charlie is confused.  What would be keeping this Olympic shooter so busy?

“She’s working on her designs.  She, Jess, or both of them have had their hand in most of the new designs we have made.  With Bruce and Sandy both helping her, she will have her car design ready in a couple of days unless things get ugly with those predators.  Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Ford, and Toyota will be at a demonstration on Wednesday.  The car will be like the ATVs that you will be using.  It’s an electric car.  She has redone her control design for a road vehicle.  She will even have a heat pump for heating and air conditioning.  It is the same basic heat pump design that we are using for the buildings.

They entered the conference room and sat down.

“What ATVs?”

“Oh, the new electric ATVs that the MOD is buying.  It is all electric.  No fuel is necessary with the AJ generator providing the electricity.  We have over a hundred for your men to use today and we should have four hundred more by the end of next week.  I’m not sure if you should use them if we have trouble with the predators.  You could easily outrun them but they might set a trap and there’s no enclosure to give the driver protection.  You might want to have some of the men practicing on them before hand.  I can have a dozen ready for that.  There is a field north of here next to the train tracks.  Major West had men out practicing all day Friday.  We took a number of orders from Major West and his men for a number of personal units.”

“Jamie bought one without asking Karen?”  Charlie asks.

“Who?”

“My sister Karen.  Jamie West is my brother-in-law.  They’re saving up to buy a house.”

“He mentioned something about that when he found out about our plans to colonize.  He talked to Marie about his wife coming down.  She’ll be here this afternoon.”

“Karen’s a professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh.  Why would she want to colonize another world?”

Sam had broken into uncontrolled laughter.

A head peaked in from across the hall.  The woman looked tired but Charlie could see that she was curious about what was going on.  “What is so funny?”

“I just asked why a professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh would want to colonize another world.”  Charlie answered.

“She has been planning to do it for years.  I still cannot believe she kept it a secret from me all that time.  I’m her best friend.  At least, Ned and I are here now.  We wouldn’t have missed this for anything in the world.  Next week we are going to bring the kids down and show them the new worlds.  I know they are a little young but I want to give them the memory.”

Charlie is totally confused and Sam is laughing even harder.

A man has come up beside the women and put an arm around her.  “Sue, I don’t believe he was talking about Marie.”  Ned Douglass looked at Charlie.  “Were you, sir?”

“Marie Lawrence?  No, I was talking about my sister Karen West.”

“Oh, Marie said that someone she knew from the university was coming down today and her name was Karen.  Marie also mentioned that she was married to one of the officers and that they wanted to talk about colonizing.”  Sue informed Charlie.

“Karen wants to colonize another world!”

“She also wanted to see KA’s dogs.  She is bringing her mother, who breeds and shows dogs.”  Sue added.

“She is bringing Mom!  Jamie knows that this assignment is secret.  That we weren’t even to tell family where we were.”  Charlie had started to look a little angry along with the half dozen other expressions that had passed across his face in the last minute.

“Oh!  Marie called her.  When John agreed that they were Life-Mates, they had to have her come down.”  Sue said.

“Sue!”  Ned interrupted his wife.  Sam had stopped laughing.

“Ned, step outside and close the door.  Tell the officers or anyone else that shows up that the meeting is delayed.  Charlie, I’ll need to tell you something that we aren’t ready to make public.  Sue take a seat, I’ll probably need your help.”

They spent the next fifteen minutes explaining Life-Mates to Charlie.  When they got to the part about knowing what your Life-Mate was thinking or feeling, Charlie admitted that he and his wife, Penny, had both had the occasion where that had occurred to them.  He said that they didn’t know what to make of it but that those moments had made them feel very close together.  Sam explained that someone who was part of a Life-Mate couple often had siblings that had Life-Mates.  Sam explained that Charlie and Penny might be Life-Mates.  Sue mentioned that the main thing about Life-Mates was that they could mentally communicate and that meant not only with their Life-Mates but others.  Sam said that the ability was instrumental in the rescue of Claire Clarke but he wouldn’t comment any further on what had happened.  What Sam and Sue wanted to know was did Charlie want his mother and sister to bring his wife down to Carlisle.  After Marie and John Harvey met him and his wife, they would know whether they were Life-Mates.  Charlie told them yes.  When he started to give his phone number, Sue said that Marie was calling his sister to ask her to bring Penny with them.  Charlie realized that Sue was in communications with Marie and he hadn’t even noticed.  Sue got up and left the room.  The officers each carrying a plate and a mug entered the room.  The cart with the rest of the food was behind them.

Charlie saw how serious these people took Life-Mates.  He expected that mental communication could be very useful both for the military and in general.  He also realized Jamie had been speaking about more than Charlie realized when he made his comments earlier.  Yes, this would change things and it would take a while to figure it all out.

Sam realized some of what Charlie was thinking.  “Will Maclaren will want to discuss things with you.  He is very deeply involved with all that is going on.  I am sure that he will want to find out what the military officers involved think the implications will be.”

Charlie saw that Jamie had just entered the room and had a worried look when he had looked over at Charlie.  Sue probably grabbed him and explained things.  Jamie had heard what Sam had said.  Charlie smiled at his brother-in-law.  He wondered what Penny would think about colonizing.  He expected that there would be work for a schoolteacher on a new world.

Sam started the briefing.  There was a lot to discuss.

Chapter 18

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