Ch 19 Memorial

White House
Washington D.C., USA
Saturday May 22, 1999

 
Dave and Sue had invited the extended Maclaren family to the White House for brunch.  They would watch the memorial services and discuss the impact of the other worlds.  Al DeSang, Margaret O’Reilly, Sol and Mei-lei White had also been invited.  They were gathered in the Situation Room because of the large screen televisions.  Dave, Al, Sol, Will, and Rob were discussing the initial surveys of the four worlds.  Sue, Mei-lie, and Kim with Alice were discussing the Kin.  Leslie, Margaret, Edna and Beth sat together near the four young boys who sat close to one of the big televisions.  They were discussing if another country would be able to develop a working window on their own.  Jeff Wilson, seated behind the President, was the only secret service agent in the room.

Sue asked, “I thought that Alice said that there was no intelligent life on the other worlds?”

Kim had expected this question, “Mom saw things in her dreams.  The Kin aren’t tool users.  They herd animals.  If an S-I search team had not left the observation window running while they had lunch, we wouldn’t have had the sequence of images showing the cooperative efforts of the kin to rescue one of their herds.”

“The Kin will redefine our understanding of intelligent life, but these silent ones have me concerned.  A specie that is hostile to those that can mentally communicate.  I’m unsure how such a trait would evolve.”  Mei-lei hadn’t expected two such revolutionary discoveries in the first day of exploring.

“Jess reported ocean for the Earth world at TDI.  We will have to find a location with access to the Earth world so we can meet the Kin.”  Sue looked forward to communication with an alien species.

“We don’t know that the Kin are wide spread.  I’m more concerned that we might run into the silent ones.  They are a threat to any of us that mentally communicate.”  Kim was concerned about the family’s safety.

“What to do about the silent ones is one of the priority topics for the meeting this afternoon.  I expect that the discussion will get very heated.”  Sue looked concerned.  Genocide wasn’t something that her husband would be comfortable ordering, but what other solution was there.

“There’s Claire!” yelled Tommy when he saw his sister on the television.

All attention turned to the news broadcast.

International High School
Washington D.C., USA
Saturday May 22, 1999
 
Claire arrived at International High School less than ten minutes before the memorial was to start.  The Secret Service hadn’t expected the large number of people that turned out to see her.  There had been crowds standing in the light rain all along Connecticut Avenue.  DuPont Circle had been especially crowded.  They had about a half hour warning about the crowds from the DC Police but they had managed to leave only five minutes ahead of schedule.  The trip had taken forty minutes not the usual fifteen and this was Saturday traffic.  Bruce had been glad that Will’s kids had walked over to the White House with their parents and relatives.

Bruce left only one agent with the three Suburbans.  He and the other nine agents formed up around the four young people to provide them protection.  Or were they protecting the crowd from them?  From what he had seen over the past days, the three young Maclarens were a deadlier threat than the agents were.  With Claire added there was no contesting that.  He noticed how the twins spread out to offer additional coverage to Claire.  Looking at Claire and Robert there was no doubt that they were a couple, but it was also obvious that Robert’s first priority was protecting Claire.  He cleaned up nice and the suit fit him well but there was no doubt that he was a predator.  He could see it in the eyes of the young men in the crowd.  They might glance at Claire and the twins but they watched Robert.

Then Bruce noticed the effect that Claire was having on the crowd.  She’s not waving but her smile said thank you for coming out to remember my friends.  I have never seen a young person have such an effect on a crowd.  She has a presence like President Clarke has with a crowd and Claire is just as good but different.
 
Oh, there is the press around the door.  The cameras are tracking Claire.  It looks like they are noticing Claire’s effect on the crowd.  Good, the men are holding them back.  One of the reporters is trying to cut around them through the crowd, which is not making way for the reporter.  The two police officers are opening the doors.  Ok!  We will be inside in a few seconds.  I haven’t seen anyone more threatening that the reporters.  In fact, I have not seen one negative sign the whole way.  That’s unusual.  Claire is heading off to the right.  That must be the way to the back of the stage.
 
White House
Washington D.C., USA
Saturday May 22, 1999
 
The three Reynolds boys moved into a circle and held hands.  They were quiet with their eyes closed.

Edna noticed and called, “Kim.”

Kim turned and looked towards them.  She saw her boys and glanced down at her daughter in her arms.  Alice was looking back at her.

Everyone in the room was watching the three boys.  Jason looked over to the President.  “Robert says to have the attack on the Jordanian embassy ready to go.”  He turned back to his brothers and closed his eyes.

Dave looked at Will who nodded his head yes and then shrugged.  Dave turned to Jeff.  “Call the FBI Rescue Team and tell them to be ready now.  Things at the memorial service may be breaking sooner than expected.”  The plan had been to launch the attack to rescue the hostages as the Jordanian embassy when the memorial service was underway.  They expected that the kidnappers would be watching since another attempt on Claire was expected.

International High School
Washington D.C., USA
Saturday May 22, 1999
 

What just happened?  Is there a threat?  The four of them just tensed up.  Bruce looked up and down the halls and saw nothing.  The agents had all noticed the change but they also had found no threat.

Though still in the hallway, Robert had noticed two men down in the front of the auditorium with guns.  As he sensed further, he realized that the woman with them had explosives wrapped around her.  The young girl with them was unarmed.  He could sense the tension in the three older ones.

The three young women were alerted to the problem by their mental contact with Robert.  Like him, they were able to sense the four people.  Then, Jason, Eric, and Jerome joined them mentally.  Their perception of the room improved.

The seven of them checked everyone in the auditorium.  The three in front were the only ones with weapons except for the police at the doors.  They investigated the weapons especially the bomb.

We will move to the center front of the stage.  Mary and Brenda are on the flanks.  I will ask them to disarm.  If they start to attack, you two will take the two men with guns.  Claire and I will take the woman with the explosives.  She is holding the trigger in her right hand.  We must shoot to cut the wires before she can set it off.  We cannot clear the room so we have to go in.   Robert informed them.  He looked at each in turn and got a nod.  Claire gave his hand a squeeze.

They continued forward.

Claire indicated a door, and they entered the off stage area.  The agents spread out, as Claire and the others walked towards the principle and the minister.

Bruce had seen the pause but was unsure what had happened.  He tried the mental communication that he had just learned.   Robert, what is happening?

Robert replied.   There is a bomber and two shooters in the front row.  We will handle.  Stop anyone else from going in.

“Principal Singh, please stay here.  We have something to take care of.”  Claire commanded him as the four quickly walked past him and the minister.  They drew their guns and held them down at their sides.

Bruce ordered the agents to draw their guns but to stay back.  He radioed to have no one else enter the auditorium.

When the four reached the front of the stage, Robert addressed the family in the front row in Arabic.  “And make not Allah’s name an excuse in your oaths against doing good, or acting rightly, or making peace between persons; for Allah is One Who heareth and knoweth all things.”  (Quran 2.224)

  • وَلَا تَجْعَلُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ عُرْضَةًۭ لِّأَيْمَٰنِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوا۟ وَتَتَّقُوا۟ وَتُصْلِحُوا۟ بَيْنَ ٱلنَّاسِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌۭ

He switched to English.  “Lay down your guns and do not go for the bomb switch.”

The family was startled by this young, tall, redhead man quoting the Quran.  How did he know what they were there to do?  His words didn’t sway them.  The father and son yelled “Allāhu Akbar!”  The mother had been distracted by the daughter.  She turned towards her as the men drew their guns.

Brenda and Mary didn’t hesitate.  Before the men had their guns drawn, they had fired.  Each woman fired two shots.  One was between the eyes and the other was into the heart.  Robert and Claire had held their shots.  When the shots were fired, the women had just started to reach towards her daughter.  As she heard the shots, she remembered the bomb trigger in her sleeve.  When her hand stopped moving toward her daughter, Robert and Claire fired.  Their aim was for her wrist.  Multiple shots rang out.  The woman’s hand was literally hanging on by the skin of her arm.  The bones and the wires that went from her hand and up her arm had been severed.

 Disarm the bomb.   Robert ordered his sisters.

Mary and Brenda jumped down.  They cut open the woman’s clothing exposing the bomb.  Swiftly they removed all the detonators.  Mary cut the belt off and handed the explosives to her brother.  Brenda was using some of the cut clothing to put a tourniquet on the woman’s arm.

Robert looked at the explosive in the belt as he held it over his head for all to see.  With his left hand, he removed one of the bundles of explosive from the belt.  He looked at the markings on the bundle, which he then turned so that the markings were visible to the audience and the TV camera.  In a loud clear voice, he said, “C4, plastic explosives.”

As Robert turned to hand the belt and explosive to Bruce who had come up behind them, he looked over to Claire and softly said.  “Calm them.”  He stood beside her.

This broke Claire out of the inertia that had overcome her since she realized that she had shot someone.  Calmly, she holstered her pistol.  She saw that most everyone was staring at her.  She looked across the crowd and saw Raha one of her friends from school.  They made eye contact.  “Mary”, she called.  Mary stopped helping her sister with the wounded woman.  “Take the girl over to Raha.”  Claire did not point, and Mary did not ask any questions.  Claire had told her mentally what she needed to know mentally.

Mary bent down and lifted the young girl out of the chair where she had been crying.  She stood and carried her over to Raha and her family.  Smiling she set the girl down on her feet by them.  Mary said, “She needs your help.”  Raha and her mother stood and hugged the girl.  Mary returned to helping her sister.

The audiences and the press had watched all that had happened.  They were touched by the care that is being shown after the sudden violence.  The millions of people that were watching on television mostly had the same reaction.  One of the exceptions was the kidnappers.  What they have seen was not what they had expected.  They were shouting and saying that they would kill one of the hostages, but they wouldn’t have time for that for the FBI has already preparing for their assault.

Claire started to speak to the crowd.  “We found out about the bomb and the guns after we entered the building.  While we could have remained safe by leaving, we knew that it would do nothing to lessen the danger to you who were already in the room.  They would not have allowed you to leave.  Either demands would be made or the bomb would have been set off.  My friends and I not being there would not have mattered that much since what was happening would have been broadcast.”  She paused to let that sink in.

“Therefore, we took the only course that we saw to save you.  It put the four of us at risk but that is what many people do every day.  They risk their lives for others.”  There was another short pause.  “Robert asked them to lay down their arms but they started their attack.  We were ready so they did not succeed.”

She looked at each of her classmates from the class from which she was kidnapped as she continues.  “Tuesday, this school suffered its first attack by terrorists.  Maria Alverez, David Gold, Jean Koenig, Maxwell Watson, and Martha Lawler were killed in the attack that kidnapped Bridget Schmidt and me.”  She paused.

“Bridget is still being held captured.  In the short time that I was held captive, I experienced a small measure of the terror that she has been experiencing.  Luckily, for me, the Maclaren family noticed what was happening and was able to rescue me.  That day I made a vow to learn to defend myself and to be able to help others.  Today, we four found ourselves with the opportunity to help prevent a tragedy as we gathered to remember our friends.  I thank God, who we know by many different names, that he gave us the strength and the guidance to do what needed to be done.”

The crowd started to cheer.

Medics had taken over tending to the women who had intended to be a suicide bomber.  Brenda and Mary rejoined them on the stage.

Claire waited for the cheers to die down.  “Let me introduce my very special friends that accompanied me here today to remember those we have lost.”

“Brenda Maclaren.”  Brenda stepped forward besides Claire.

“Mary Maclaren.”  Mary joined her sister.

“Robert Maclaren.”  Robert nodded.

“Siblings from the Australian branch of the Maclaren family.  They along with other family members from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States along with some friends rescued me on Wednesday.”

There was applause intermix with some cheering.  Claire waited for the audience to quiet.

“These two rescues this week are extreme examples of how you can help others.  Most times the help that is needed may be a phone call to the police, giving directions when someone is lost, or a kind word.  Everyday ways of helping others are not spectacular but because there are so many more of them, they have a bigger impact.  When we all meet the opportunities to help others that occur every day, we end up making a big difference.  So look for those opportunities to help others and when they occur, take that extra effort that will make a difference.  Remember, we can make a difference.”

Applause and cheers of “We can make a difference.” were heard and seen by the television audience.

Robert was amazed at Claire’s ability to speak to the crowd.  He knew that she was speaking from her heart.  He took her hand and she moved closer to him.

The audience took longer to quiet this time.  When they did, Claire again spoke.  “Now, I must bid all of you here at International goodbye.  I told my parents that I did not want to risk any of you by returning to school here and they agreed.  I will miss all of my friends, but as was evident a short while ago, I am a target for terrorists.  So, I bid you all goodbye.”

Cries of “We will miss you.” and “Don’t go.” were repeated throughout the auditorium.

The four young people started to exit the stage, but Principal Singh motioned them to stay.

Principal Singh moved to the front of the stage.  “I will miss Claire.  She has been a part of our student body the past three years and has been a friend to all of us.”

He paused as cries of “Claire” came from the audience.  Soon he raised his hands.

“I am very thankful for the decisive action that she and the Maclarens took here today.  They risked themselves and saved me and many of you in the auditorium.  Let us show them that we appreciate them.”

Loud applause and cheers broke out from all in the audience.  The principal walked to each of the four and shook their hands.  The four accepted the gratitude with small smiles and red faces.

Bruce called the four off the stage.  They entered the theater equipment room.  The secret service agent that had checked out the room exited.

Back on the stage, the principal told the people in the auditorium that the memorial service was moving to the cafeteria so that the police and secret service could conduct an investigation on the shootings.

Cries of “Claire did nothing wrong” and “The terrorists got what they deserved.” were heard.

The principal held up his hands.  “We know that and everyone watching on TV knows that, but the US is a country where laws apply to everyone so we must treat every man and woman the same.  Please give your name, address, and phone number to the police so that you can bear witness to what has occurred here.

The police at the door were overwhelmed by everyone offering to give evidence to what has occurred.

White House
Washington D.C., USA
Saturday May 22, 1999
 
After Edna’s warning about the boys to Kim, everyone had alternated watching the boys and the broadcast.

Within a minute, the people in the room saw Claire, Robert, Mary, and Brenda enter and go to the front of the stage.  When Robert spoke in Arabic, most were surprised at his knowledge.  Only Marge O’Reilly and his parents understood his words.  They were the least surprised by the events that follow his words.

When the shooting stopped, many started to speak but when Robert raised the explosives and showed the C4 markings, the shock of the situation quieted them.  When Claire spoke, they like most of the people watching across the world were captured by her words.

When the four young people left the stage, the President turned to Jeff.  “Get me Bruce Maclaren, now”

Jeff went to the communication console to contact Bruce.

Margaret said to Sue, “That is some girl you got there.”  She turned to Al.  “It is lucky for you that she has twenty years until she can run for the Presidency.”

Al laughed, “I do agree.  In the primary, I had a chance with Dave, but with Claire, I would be wasting my time.”

Everyone joined in with the laughter.

Margaret commented, “I have never seen anyone take so quickly to the gun.  She was right in there with the other three.  All four reacted so quickly and accurately.  No one else was hurt.”

Jerome remarked, “Claire had two shots to Robert’s three.  They quit when the wires were broken.”

Beth was confused.  “What wires?”

Will answered.  “The wires from the trigger to the bomb.  If they had shot to kill the women, a dying reflex could have set the bomb off.  Luckily it was not a dead man switch.”

Jason commented, “It wasn’t.  We helped Robert see the bomb.”

Rob asked, “Did you help Robert find the terrorists?”

Jason replied, “Dad, they had found them before they contacted us.”

There was a hush as they contemplated what they had just heard.

Tommy Clarke asked, “How do you communicate with them?  I cannot reach Claire.”

Jason replied, “We can communicate over long distance with the family and Claire.  You will be able to do it with more practice.”

Eric corrected his brother.  “Claire is family.  She and Robert are a pair just like mom and dad, Uncle Will and Aunt Leslie, your f…”

Edna placed a hand on Eric shoulder.

Leslie added, “Our middle son Ian found his Life-Mate Nazma.  Willy found Linda.  The girls are both happy and annoyed that their little brother for having beat them when he wasn’t even looking.”

“I know how they feel.  She has found what I have searched my whole life for and never found.  I’m married to my job and not to the man that can be my other half.  Margaret voice was low and showed much more emotion that Dave had ever heard from her.

Jason had a strange look on his face as he looked at his sister.  “Alice said to look around.  You have known him for years but now the time is right.”

Edna jumped up and looked at her great granddaughter.  “Alice, what are you up to now.”

The baby laughed.

Margaret was confused.   Love advice from a baby.  I have known him for years.  She looks around the room.  The only men that she had known for years that were in the room were the President and Vice President.  She liked Dave but it was more like a little brother.  Besides, he and Sue were Life-Mates.  Al and she had many confrontations over the years.  She respected him but he thought diplomacy was all that was needed to protect the nation.  Al thought of the CIA as only an intelligence-gathering agency and did not agree that it should have a more active role.  She looked over at Al and saw he had been looking at her.  The questioning look on his face matched the way that she felt.

“Sir, I have made contact with Senior Agent Maclaren.”  Jeff said.

“One moment.”  The President turned to Margaret.  “What did Robert say to the terrorists?”

“And make not Allah’s name an excuse in your oaths against doing good, or acting rightly, or making peace between persons; for Allah is One Who hears and knows all things.”  Marge replied.  “That was not a bad selection.”  She looked at Leslie.  “His accent was more Indonesian Arabic than Indian Arabic.  Your daughter-in-law did not teach him?”

“No, Robert started when he found out his future sister-in-law was Muslim.  He said he wanted to make her feel welcome.  When he met her a few weeks later and found that she spoke five languages including English, he said that he was still going to do it and kept at it.  He had found a teacher and kept at it until Ian and Naz married after graduation.  After the ceremony, he greeted her into the family in Arabic.  When she heard him, she broke up laughing.  He had hired the son of one of our managers to teach him.  Naz has been working with him to correct some of the mistakes he had learned.”

Dave and Sue Clarke looked at each other.   Yes, he would make a good husband for Claire.   Dave went over to the console to talk to Bruce.  Sue looked at her husband and then at Will and Leslie.  She and Dave had shared the thought.  They had always understood what the other was feeling but it would take a while to get used to sharing thoughts.  She would discuss with Leslie how to handle it.

 
International High School
Washington D.C., USA
Saturday May 22, 1999
 
Bruce’s thoughts were in turmoil as he left the stage with the four young people.  He had been shocked when he had seen them walk to the front of the stage and confront the terrorists.   What was the Arabic that Robert had said to them?  He then told them to lay down their guns, but they had instead drawn them.  The speed with which the four of them had fired and then disabled the bomb was hard to believe.  They had controlled the situation from beginning to end.  The terrorists had not thought before they reacted.  If they had, would they have recognized the threat that they had faced?  Probably not.  It was one boy and three girls.  They would have discounted the girls and gone after the Robert.  He could have taken both gunmen but the woman suicide bomber would have had time to set off her bomb.  They were martyrs so they would not have worried about their own life.  Still the woman could have ended it all by detonating the bomb, but she had turned to her daughter, who had reacted to the presence of the four on the stage.  Had they done something to get the girl to react?   He doubted if he would ever know.  They entered the room off the stage.   We could not have done what they did.  They had to walk right up to the end of the stage to be able to shoot down without hitting the people behind the terrorist.  The four had done the only thing possible to end the situation without saying a word to him.  Telling me about the bomb and the guns wouldn’t have helped.
 
Bruce closed the door and turned towards the four.  We are supposed to protect Claire not the other way around.  How was he going to tell the President that he was grateful for his daughter saving their lives?
 
The agent carrying the communications system opened the door.  “The President wants to speak to you.”  He handed the system to Bruce.

 Dad is not angry.  Claire thought was clear to Bruce.

The boys explained what happened to him and the others.  They were working with us to understand the situation especially the bomb.  Robert added.

Bruce was more confused.   The young boys had worked with them.  What had occurred that no one had seen or heard?

“Bruce Maclaren, Mr. President.”  Bruce said into the phone.

“It’s Jeff.  Hold for the President.”

In seconds, the President was on the line.  “Tell those four well done.  I assume that they reacted without informing you.”

“Yes, sir.”

“When you get back to the White House, I want you to sit down with Will and them and work out procedures for them to co-ordinate with you.  Work out with Will what size detail you will need when you go with them.  I expect four will be enough but we might want to have a mix from other agencies or the military.  You will be acting as my liaison as well as Claire’s protection detail.  You should bring your family but we might want to consider single individuals for the other positions.”  President Clarke said.

“Sir, you have me at a loss as to you intentions.”  Bruce had expected the President to be upset.

“Claire will be going to Australia with Robert and his family.  I think that she will be safer there especially once they cross over to another world.  You and your family would go with them as well as the rest of the detail.  Your wife is a teacher and she will have no trouble finding work with all the families moving to the new worlds.  I am sure Leslie will hire her when she finds out.  Housing and per diem should give you some compensation for the disruption.  You have followed our discussion about the other worlds, so you know what to expect.  I figure in the year and a half until I am out of office that you will be able to decide if you want to stay there or not.”

Bruce was stunned.  He had not been able to mention the other world to Martha, but he suspected that she would be more eager to go than he was.  She and the kids spent a month each year at her parents’ farm in Texas.  He was only able to join them for a couple of weeks.  He knew that his job was the only thing that kept them near a big city.  What the president was offering was a great opportunity as well as a much larger responsibility.

“Sir, may I tell my wife.”  Bruce asked.

Dave Clarke laughed.  “You have better.  It is not the type of surprise that you want to spring on her once you get to Australia.  Bring her in to talk to Will and Leslie in the next couple of days.  She may need some convincing to believe that you are sane.  Hold off on telling the kids until you get there.  The Reynolds boys have reminded me again that youngsters do not always know how to keep a secret.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The move on the Jordanian embassy has started.  Let Claire know that the FBI is going in and Bridget should be free within the hour.  Keep them there until we have the situation fully under control.  They are not to go off and help.”  An idea comes to Dave.  “Put the phone on speaker.  I need to talk to Robert.”

Bruce was puzzled at the sudden change.  He put the communication system on speaker.

Dave heard the background noise increase.  “Robert, we are going into the Jordanian embassy to rescue the hostages.  Can you or the boys help us like you did at the school to give us any intelligence?”

Robert paused for a second.  “No, sir.  The boys and I do not know the building or any of the people involved.  We would not know where to look.”

“I know Bridget.”  Claire stated.

There was silence for a second as the seven join together again.

“Sir, the four kidnappers are in the front of the building in a room near the entrance.  They are watching the new reports on what happened here.  The hostages are tied up in two rooms one to the east and one to the west down the hall from the room that the kidnappers are in.”  Robert reported.

“That’s good, I will pass that on.”  Dave told them.

“Sir, we should go out and talk to the press.  Hold up until we can get the kidnappers attention.  They are very excited and nervous now.  They may be expecting an attack after what occurred here.  When we have their attention, Brenda will say something.  If they are going for the hostages, Mary will say something.”

“That will not work.  The FBI hostage rescue team does not know about your mental abilities.  Send a mental message to your dad.  I may have to micro-manage this because I don’t know how to convince the head of the FBI hostage rescue team that he should follow your cues.”  Dave said.

Bruce laughed.  “Just tell him, I lied to him.  He called up yesterday to ask about the seven of them.  He swore that they were psychic but I told him that it was just training.  He was there at the shooting range.”

“Will do.  I need to go and get them to hold up.”  Dave cut the line.

Bruce switched to the earpiece radio that he was using to keep track of his detail.  “Claire and the Maclarens are going to talk with the TV reporters.  Move out and watch the crowd.”  He looked at the four young people.  “Let’s go.  The President asked me to tell you well done.”

The young people were surprised by the President’s acceptance of their action.

They went to the front of the building.  The television cameras were spread out across the parking lot as they got the reaction of the crowd to what had happened.  Claire scanned the crowd.  She spotted a reporter that she knew would concentrate on the human-interest angle and not ask any hard questions.  She was sure that she and Robert could control the flow of discussion.  She led them over to the reporter and her camera crew.  The crowd parted and the camera turned to them as they approached.

“Hi Lisa.  We would like to talk with you if you can make it a shared broadcast.  We don’t want to go to all six of you and have the same questions asked again and again.  You can do the interview though.”

Lisa Saunders realized that her network would lose the exclusivity but she would not.  In fact, she would be on all six networks.  She quickly got connected to the shared feed for the memorial service.

They spend the next twenty minutes answering personal questions.  Most of the questions were about Claire, Robert and their relationship.  They acted the loved crazed teenagers.  Claire said she has found her knight in shining armor who had rescued her from the misguided terrorists.  All the while, they knew that the kidnappers at the Jordanian embassy were getting more and more confused.  How had these teenagers been able to walk up and take out their two brothers?  Brenda had come forward and hugged Claire.  She said that she looked forward to the day that Claire would be her sister-in-law.  Mary had also hugged Claire but hadn’t said a thing.

Lisa had just asked another of her silly questions.  Claire raised he left hand as she put her right over her ear and the earpiece that she wore.  She looked at Robert and his sisters and nodded.  “Lisa, I have some breaking news that I would like to report.  The Jordanian military attaché with the support of the FBI hostage rescue team has retaken the Jordanian embassy.  The hostages are free and have not been injured in the attack.  One of the kidnappers is dead.  The other three are captured with one wounded.  No one else was injured.  I believe that the United States will be holding the kidnappers for transport to Jordan.”  Of course, most of this she had known but Bruce was feeding the information to them so that it wouldn’t look like they had other means to the knowledge.

“Lisa, I would like to thank you for allowing us to talk to you.  The kidnappers were so wrapped up in your interview that they failed to notice the rescue until they were confronted.  You helped save lives today.”

Lisa was stunned at the turn of events, but she was a veteran report so she continued after her story.  “When are you and Robert getting married?”

“Lisa, I am only fourteen.  I was a junior, but I have enough credits to graduate.  I am going to college.  I may go on and get a graduate degree.  I need to grow and explore.  There are worlds out there waiting for me.  I am in no hurry to get married, but when I do it will be to Robert.”  Claire answered.

Lisa was confused at the changes in Claire.  This couldn’t be the same girl she was interviewing a couple of minutes ago.  She turned to Robert.  “What are your thoughts on this?  Will you wait for Claire?  You have only known her a few days.”

“Claire and I will marry.  I will be starting college and expect to earn a degree and go on to advanced study.  As you said, I have only known her for a few days.  My Uncle Jess and Aunt Alice grew up together and knew they were going to marry for many years.  They waited until after they had degrees before they married.  Just because we know we will marry, it does not mean we will do it right now.  I love Claire and that will last the rest of my life.  Just because I found her early does not mean that we have to get married early.”  Robert answered.

“We need to go now.  We need to speak with our parents.”  Claire added.

They headed to the Suburbans where Bruce and the other agents were waiting for them.

Once inside, they along with Bruce and the driver burst out laughing.

Bruce turned to Claire.  “You chose Lisa so you could do the airhead act.  It took me a couple of questions before I caught on.”

“Yes.”  Claire answered.  “We wanted the kidnappers’ attention but did not want them to get angry or feel they needed to kill the hostages.  They were totally confused.”

“Well it worked.  We need to get back to the White House.  I need to tell my wife that we are moving to Australia.”  Bruce commented.

“You are moving to Australia.”  Claire asked.

“Yes, I am going to help keep an eye on you.”  Bruce answered.

It took Claire a second to realize what it means.  A big smile broke out on her face.  She turned to Robert, who was also smiling.  They hugged.  They had been expecting to be halfway around the world from each other.  Now they would be going to college together.

“What major are you planning on?”  Mary asked Claire.

“I have not made up my mind.  I was expecting to spend another year in school here and then go to college.  My grades would have gotten me in anywhere even without dad being the President.  I was considering robotics, but I also like mathematics.  You went to school abroad.  Is there a local university?  Do you have a good math department?”

“James Cook is a good university.  Not one of the top schools in the world but we have many foreign students.  We went to Edinburgh not so much for the school but for the extra training we could pick up.”  Mary answered.  “I majored in electrical engineer.  Uncle Jess is one of the top engineers in the world.  He only has a Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering but he has two hundred and thirty seven patents and they are not all electrical.  Working with him especially on the windows gave me the equivalent of an advanced degree.  Plus Aunt Alice was teaching me the mathematics related to the windows.”

Brenda talked of her studies.  “I am a pre-med major.  James Cook has a medical school.  I went to work with Aunt Alice’s sister Marge.  She is a professor at the University of Edinburgh medical school.  She is one of the top experts in allergies.  We expect to have allergy problems on the other worlds.”

Robert said, “MME has been working on robotics since before Aunt Alice released her Adjacent World Theory.  Much of the mining work can be handled by robots.  Safety is our number one concern in mining.  With plans to explore and colonize another world, we knew robotics could play a big part in that.  We have helped to fund a robotics department at James Cook.  It is not on the level of the Japanese or Korean university programs but that is what mother is aiming for.”

“Your mother?”  Claire asks.

The siblings laugh.  Most people expect one of her older brothers to be the next head of MME.  Their grandfather and their uncles had all agreed that Leslie was the one that they wanted to take over.  If it hadn’t been for the windows to other worlds, Ian Macphater would have retired.  Their mother had taken on their operational planning for exploring and colonizing, which meant that grandfather had to wait to retire.

Claire realized she didn’t understand something about her future in-laws.

Robert sensed Claire’s dilemma.  “Mom had been taking over the responsibilities from Grandpa Ian for the last ten years.  He would have retired but mom was needed to co-ordinate the work needed for exploring and colonizing.  One of the goals is to have James Cook expand to meet the needs on Earth and all the other worlds.  Electronics, robotics, mathematics, and medicine are the four main areas that MME is working to expand.  You career plans matches well with the family plans.”

Mary interrupted her brother.  She did not want him to go too far into the family plans until they were alone.  “Cousin Marie had taken over Aunt Alice’s chair at the University of Edinburgh.  She will be thrilled to know that you are interested in mathematics.  She and Aunt Alice would often lament to us that none of the younger generation was interested in pure mathematics, just what you could do with it.  Mostly they were teasing us but I know Marie was disappointed that none of her children have expressed a strong interest.”

Bruce asked, “Isn’t her youngest only six?”

“Yes, and all Less is interested in is riding horses.  Uncle Jess came up with his math machine for Marie.  The patent was when she was five.  Before she was in school, she was using the prototype.  Uncle Jess related how he had had to explain to her that the machine rounded the numbers when it divided.  She had him add two lights for when it rounded up or down.”  Mary related.

“I do not have that level of interest or talent.”  Claire realized that Marie was way beyond what she had ever considered doing in mathematics.

Brenda smiled as she says.  “We don’t expect to see anyone as good as Aunt Alice or Marie.  Aunt Alice had been regarded as the best mathematician in over a hundred years.  She believed that Marie will surpass her.”

Bruce added, “Claire, remember Marie grew up with a mother who was a mathematician.  Look at the speech you gave today.  Who, your age, could have given that great of a speech?”

“I just said what I felt had to be said.”  Claire hadn’t realized that her speech was anything special.

“Claire, I have been guarding politicians for fifteen years.  Your father is the best speaker that I have ever heard.  Your speech was as good as his best.  Do you realize that you were not just speaking to the people in the auditorium or the people watching nationwide.  The memorial service was broadcast worldwide.”

All four of the young adults sat there stunned.  Claire is thinking about the millions of people that must have heard her speech.  Then she sensed the alarm that the others were feeling.  “They broadcast our shooting also.”  Claire said.

“Yes.”  Bruce answered.  “That is why that I thought you chose Lisa to talk to.”

“I don’t think any of us were thinking of the broadcast except on a local level.  I think that the four of us are now on the top of the terrorist kill list.”  Robert stated.

“Yes, I think that is part of the President’s thinking.  Move you around and get you over to another world as soon as possible.”  Bruce confirmed.

Mary said, “I think that we need some more shooting practice.”

The trip to the White House went much faster than the earlier trip to the school.  DC police with sirens and lights escorted them the entire way.

Chapter 20

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