BOOK 2 1515 The Next Generation
Chapter 1 The Capital
1515 early June
President Stone’s office
Baltimore, Capital of America
“What the hell do those Venetian bastards want now? We already captured Egypt and got back their Island of Crete; as well as Cyprus for us.”
Unshaken by President’s Stone outburst 27 year old Captain Crystal Paul answered. “They want to start building the Suez Canal.”
President Stone stared at Crystal. “No way in hell Crystal, I’ve committed our full strength to building the American Canal in Panama. All our heavy equipment is there now. My engineers tell me it’s going to take another three years before it’s finished. We’re not anywhere near ready to start work on the Suez Canal. For one thing the Special Sand moving equipment is still in the early stages of development. If they want to start digging the Suez Canal on their own that’s okay with me. We’ll lend them wheelbarrows and shovels, you sure this is not just a spy mission on their part?”
“Of course it is. All the European missions are spying. Everybody knows that; but these guys are serious about the Canal. They’ve actually brought treasure chests filled with coin. Hell my Grandmother is a numismatist; she’d go crazy over these coins. I’ve had a chance to look through the coins, some coins are Roman.”
“What are they trying to buy?”
“Somebody told them about dump trucks, they want to buy a bunch of them.”
“Oh, yeah! I can see that now, how long before the gas tanks go dry and they take their swords too them or they end up harnessing a whole bunch of camels to pull the dead beasts. How would that make them look at Americans?”
“They’re not that stupid, they had somebody do a research on what is needed. They know fuel, parts and training will be needed.”
“That’s not the only thing they will need; what about roads! We are talking about one of the worst fine sand deserts! No… It is the worst fine sand desert in the world. A fully loaded dump truck wouldn’t go ten feet; if it did, it would be south of vertical. Are they aware of that?”
“What about our oil fields in the Saudi Desert? Aren’t we using trucks there?”
“Yep Crystal we are. The sand’s nothing like the Sahara’s sand. Still we have to make roads to each oilfield we open up. Hell we just started drilling a couple of years ago.”
“What about that Leggo glue we are making Leggo sand building bricks with; couldn’t it be used to make the roads?”
“The sand blocks made from it aren’t strong enough to support a road; just two or three story buildings. Especially with heavy dump trucks travelling over a soft sand base. Those blocks would have to be ten feet thick. Beside the glue is petroleum based and we just have enough for our use.”
“Oh, then their mission is a bust?”
“Maybe not; were you serious about your Grandmother’s interest in old coins?”
“Hell yes, why do you think she really took over as Secretary of the Treasury?”
“Take them to her, present the problem and tell her I’ll back her if she can find a solution. She’ll have a motive. I don’t. Now get your butt outta here before my wife thinks I’m doing a Clinton.”
Damn I wish I was young again. Jon thought as he watched Crystal leave. I miss Elly, maybe she’ll be back from her European business trip this month.
Jon reached for the intercom and called his secretary who happened to be his 25 year old daughter, Elizabeth Stone. “Liz I’m going down to the Floating Restaurants for lunch. Is my schedule clear for an hour or two? ”
“Yes dad, your first afternoon appointment isn’t till one-thirty; it’s with the Surgeon General.”
“He’s here about the yellow fever problem?”
“Probably, he didn’t say. Oh, dad bring me back a deep fried lobster and crab cake sandwich, you know how I love lobster.”
“Honey with as much money as you’ve invested in Baltimore’s Floating Restaurants, you ought to get your meals free. I heard they are making plenty of money, hell their dividend paid close to ten percent.”
“Twenty percent total last year; yep they have two more in Annapolis, five in the Gulf of Mexico and they will have twenty in various places in Europe by next year.”
“I guess it paid to have great chefs and 500 years of recipes, along with all the spices the world can provide. I know I love to eat there.”
“That’s why Mark and I invested the Floating Restaurants. You didn’t raise any dummies Dad.”
“What are Mark and Jonnie up to now?”
Elizabeth glanced at the ceiling. “Oh, you know your sons, always on the move.”
“Liz what are you hiding?”
“Shit, so much for secrets. Okay, okay they were planning on going to California.”
“Gold, of course.”
“Have they left?”
“No, they’re trying to involve the Royal Phoenixes.”
“Mark’s Club is still in existence?”
“It took on a life of its own. You know Crystal Paul is a member.”
“She was eight when the Event happened, so she would be the right age.”
“I still can’t get over how Mark started the Royal Phoenixes. Imagine a club for eight year olds kids turning into the Princes’ of America.”
“They aren’t real Prince and Princesses Liz. Everybody knows that.”
“Dad, The Royal Phoenixes is the most exclusive club in the world. A lot of people have started thinking of them as just that. Hell membership only increased every time a new ring came into being.”
“Give Mark a call. Ask him to stop by tonight; I need to make sure of some things before he leaves.”
Jon glanced at the menu, and then he looked at his waiter. “Crab cakes, fries and a Pepsi please”
“You’re going to get fat!”
Jon turned to see who addressed him. The table two isles over had people he knew.
“All I do now is sit in a chair or go to meetings, no more adventures for me. So I guess a few pounds won’t matter that much. How it going Admiral? May I join you?”
“Sure; Mr. President this is Clara Walker and her friend Ian Campbell and their children Ian Jr., Mary and Bruce. And this is Betty Armstrong Keys and her children Beth, William and the twins John and James.”
Jon shook hands all around. “Haven’t see you in a while Josh. I haven’t been keeping up with the Navy’s exploits. It has been three years since the Persian Gulf action and our withdrawal from supporting the European allies in Turkey. All my reports got boring after that. What are you doing now Admiral Levy?”
“Right now I’m transporting these wonderful people back to Scotland. Their kids are going home for their schools summer break.”
“I remember you folks now” He looked at Ian, “You were King James’ right hand man and got hurt when the rebels captured the Castle. That was big news over here after the Castle was retaken. You made headlines too Carla, with the climb. I must say I’m surprised though. I wouldn’t have expected you to bring your kids here for schooling. I know the American’s School in Scotland is one of our best.
Betty spoke up. “We brought our eldest over last year to meet their relatives here and get a years schooling; besides that we wanted to introduce our Scotch Whiskey. Admiral Levy was going our way and agreed to carry us and three thousand bottles of Scotch so we could fulfill our contract and pick up the kids.”
“How is King James’ health these days?”
Ian jumped to answer. “King James is still in good health and very happy now that he has three sons. It’s always good to have heirs. After he read about his death in your history he changed. It seemed his leading an enormous army to total destruction, and nearly destroying Scotland in the process, shocked the hell out of him How do you Americans express it? Yes, he had a wakeup call. No more adventuring or wars, his drive now is educating Scotland. He and King Arthur have worked out some kind of agreement. Not like the Great Britain in your history, but some sort of union. He even pulled Scotland out of the Auld Alliance with France.”
“That’s good, Ian I always hated to read about the Scottish and English wars, it seemed like such a waste.”
Carla looked around. “Even with the high cost of your confectionary products: I like these floating restaurants. Besides the food, the views are great. You even have a nightclub for the night life. We’ve got a new contract from them for our Scotch whiskey.”
“Yeah, the sugar tax is responsible for that. Don’t you remember what happened in our first year? The price of sugar went through the roof as it ran out and stayed there. Even after we met the need; the government kept the price high. Don’t forget when we first came; the average American was fat and basically lazy. In that first year average Americans lost over forty pounds, and had much better health. So we now tax the hell out of sugar; it keeps the coffers full and the body lean. The candy manufactures are still having a hard time starting up a business; would you pay five dollars for a Milky Way Bar?”
Betty who seemed to be losing the battle of the bulge said. “I might if you make that a Three Musketeers Bar; I still have dreams of that chocolate devil.”
Jon smiled at that pleasant memory. “My son and daughter have quite a bit of their money invested in the restaurant venture. They want to add slots, but we haven’t started to manufacture them yet. It will be a few more years before they can be installed.”
“Slots?” said Ian.
“Slots Machines Ian, remember you saw some when we visited the casino on Wheeling Island.” Said Carla
“Those things scared me. All those blinking light and spinning wheels, I couldn’t figure out why people were putting money into a machine and receive nothing in return. Your other machines at least gave you food or drink.”
“The kids didn’t like those button pusher slots either, so they are going to go back in time a little and go with old style one arm bandits. There’s nothing like the feeling you get pulling the arm down, and watching those cherries line up… Ian, it’s just a form of gambling. Ah, Captain Levy stop in the oval office before you leave, we need to talk.”
Glancing around Betty looked surprised. “Mr. President shouldn’t you have some guards?”
“I do Betty; you just don’t see them, they’re real good at blending in. That’s why I picked them.”
Carla looked around to see if she could pick out the guards. “Man with the trouble Americans are having in Europe with the Church of the Light: I’d think you would have ten guards with you at all times.”
“That problem is still in Europe with the Catholic’s Churches splintering. God knows, there are always people afraid of the unknown. We as Americas are still free of that religious problem. Our new immigrants are coming in faster but we have developed a better screening process. The spies we let through as long as they are doing just that. The potential terrorists are marked and end up as farmers in the boondocks. Or colonist on some lousy Islands; some actually change their ways. So far nobody has tried to shoot me. Thanks for you concern.”
Ian thought about some recent events in Europe before they came over. “That may be a bigger problem than you think Mr. President; these new churches are actually preaching hate. There is a Scholar called Martin Luther who’s causing hell among the Catholics especially after he visited Scotland and read his biography. These new churches aren’t strong on the coasts were Americans are trading or running schools. But it is very dangerous for small groups of American traveling on land. They especially hate our use of electricity. Hell, their battle cry is Only God Can Make Lighting. These people actually are convinced Americans are Demons or Witches. Especially after your last presidents agreement with the Pope to have the inquisition’s power reduced. We have heard stories of pilgrims being attacked along roads leading into cities were Americans have a strong presence.”
Jon looked at Ian. “Pilgrims?”
“Well their not actually pilgrims,” said Ian. “I guess you could say they’re just curious people who want to see for themselves. It’s not a good idea to express interest in Americans to somebody you don’t know. It could be fatal.”
“It looks like the Governors are going to earn their appointments; I guess we will see if the new Governors Council can handle their first crisis.”
“Communications are still slow across the Atlantic?” asked Betty. “I thought we are going to put up satellites?”
“We are Betty but not for at least five more years, electronics’ are still to bulky, early satellites would have weighted several tons, we aren’t up to building Saturn 1’s yet. We are shooting for a first satellite launch date in 1519.”
“Do you have any idea how long we have to wait for cell phones to be back up again? My old one stopped just before I left for Scotland.”
“Every body seemed to be waiting for their return. Betty we have towers covering areas near each of our roads, but the cells batteries that the cell phones had are all dead. Instead of making all the different batteries we decided to produce a new civilian standard battery. There are new cell phones out their now but they don’t fit in your pocket like the old ones did, their more like the old walky-talky size. Production was much slower than anticipated. They should be available for the general public next year.”
“Are your two cougars in the White House with you Mr. President?”
A few moments passed.
“Sorry it hurts when friends pass. No, both have passed away. Snoopy died in battle when the Erie set a trap for me. I was on my way to negotiate a treaty with the Erie and Atlantic tribes. Bandit died of old age four years ago, she liked too watched over the farm where we raised cougars. When trained they make great companions for hunters and great guards for farms and outlying homes. One of my youngest Indian brothers runs the farms.”
Carla snapped her fingers and looked at Jon. “That’s right your father has a couple of Indian wives. How many Indian brothers do you have?”
Jon smiled at the familiar question. “After Mom died, Dad sort of went crazy. He has four Indian wives and now I have four brothers and three sisters from three different tribes. Hell my family is a united nations all by itself. That fact actually helped with my run for President; after all, we still have to live in peace with hundreds of tribes surrounding us.”
“I must have missed reading about that trap you fought with the Erie, we left for Scotland in 1501; it was May, I think,” said Betty.
“That’s when it happened, Betty. I was supposed to have clearance to meet with the Tribal leaders, but some of the Erie and rebel tribes had broken off and went off on their own. They heard about my party coming to make a peace proposal and sent out several groups of raiders to intercept us. I, my two cougars and four scouts ran into an ambush. Snoopy was ahead scouting as usual, they put three arrows into him but he stilled cried out. That sound still haunts me, but it saved us. I took two arrows into my chest and one in my leg. Bandit took an arrow in her butt. The scouts had spread out by then and hit the raiding party on both sides. It still was a mess. I don’t even know how many we faced, but we killed eight. Some others had gotten away. When we finally got to our rendezvous point, we arrived with only one horse and he was dragging a travois with the only remaining scout and Bandit.”
“You took two arrows in your chest and survived? Carla asked
“Carla, in those days we used chest protectors, especially in the woods. The Indians at that time didn’t have metal points like you came up against in Europe.”
Betty looked at Carla. “That must have made the news, how did we miss it?”
“I had to stay at the rendezvous for a month. I still had a leg wound and I wasn’t going to leave Bandit. By the time a second team arrived my mission was completed. The Indians respected courage and loyalty; at least that’s what my scout/translator told me. I think he was a good story teller. Anyway your mission was at sea by then. After that you guys were making the news. We followed your exploits when every ship arrived with fresh news… Has anybody tried the soft crab sandwich?”
“Yep, that’s what I ordered, they’re delicious,” Captain Levy smacked his lips.” I think I’ll order another one.
“Josh, how’s your project going?” Jon asked as he and Captain Levy walked back to the White House.
“The Jewish population on Cyprus is now around twenty percent of the Islands population. Quite a few are mistaken as Americans. They know the plans and aren’t giving away the fact that they are really Jews.”
“Captain although most Americans think of the Europeans and Muslims as dumb, they aren’t. In fact, probably as a people they are smarter than us, we just have more knowledge and training. Don’t for a second think they won’t figure out your plan. You can bet somebody will or has already read in our libraries about Israel becoming a country again in 1948. They’ve met us and know we are sneaky, they just won’t know when and how strong your invasion will be. Be careful Josh, you’re not Moses to the best of my knowledge; and God hasn’t sanctioned this operation. Or has He, and you just haven’t let us know?”
“Oh, what would you say if The God of Jews did tell us to return to Israel?”
“Josh, most people don’t know this but I do strongly believe in God. Did He sanction this in any way?”
“As much as I would like to lie to you, I can’t. To the best of my knowledge, no, He didn’t. But Jon every Jew is for returning to Israel; at least all of them I have spoken with dream of returning. Quite a few of the Jewish leaders I’ve spoken with got to read our history books. They are tired of being kicked out of every country they have settled in; sooner or later the nobility turned on them. Hell, take a look at present history.”
“Josh, are you sure you aren’t just seeing what you want to see?”
“That question came up plenty of times; the answer is yes and no. Once I brought up the idea of Jews returning to Israel permanently it became their quest. It’s taken on a life of its own. Since 1506 some have started working their way into Israel.”
“So what’s the latest timetable?
“After the inroads our so called allies made into Turkey, I think the Muslims will still be trying to eject them when we invade. Jon, it won’t be during your term of office. More likely the early 1520’s we estimate we will need over three quarters of a million people to retake Israel; along with at least four hundred ships. We’ve been buying America’s old navy ships as they are replaced with the metal ships. I’ll resign my commission the day before we invade.”
Jon stopped dead in his tracks. “Four hundred ships!”
“Yes, we have 49 now.”
“Josh I’ve had a peace of information that’s been puzzling the intelligence people for two years now; it didn’t make to much sense; I think you might have just pointed us in the right direction. The European nations have gone crazy making ships. Everywhere an American ship has made port they reported discovering ships being made. I mean these guys are in high gear. The question was why are they spending half or more of their budgets on ships? We thought at first they were going to use them to supply their armies in Turkey but most of those supply line are over land. Then we figured trade, but there is only enough to go around. Slavery; not bright if they want to keep their ships. Exploration and discovery; to claim new lands; that seemed to be one of the answers we were leaning toward. War, they could be a challenge to our sea power. You’ve just given us another option, Invasion! Damn Eastwood, I told him to keep world maps secret. We can’t protect the world, and I’m damned if I will even try.”
Captain levy faced out to sea.“Africa, India, Austria, China, Japan, Indo China; do you think they will invade any of those countries?”
“I don’t know. And you forgot Western South America; there are still large gaps between our trading posts. Still we have major trading compounds in each of those countries already. If they are invaded, we can always upgrade that country’s weapons. I don’t like that option.”
“Jon, I don’t envy your job.”
“Me neither, Josh how long have you been planning the Jewish return to Israel?”
“As soon as I found out what year we arrived in. Let’s see, eighteen or nineteen years now.”
“Talk about a one track mind.”
“Jon, it’s my mission in life. How many people can say that?”
“Yeah, I got one too, and it’s a doozy; the Panama Canal, although mine is inherited.”
“Dr Warren we are getting a massive amount of Immigrants from Ireland now that their revolts are over. Can you handle 2000+ Irishmen every three months?”
“Yes, sure Jon, actually that’s a good idea; it will cut down on the translators needed and they can elect their own bosses. Just make sure when they leave Bermuda they’ve gotten their shots. In nine years we’ve only lost eight people to yellow fever so far.”
Jon turns to his daughter as he escorts his guest out. “Liz contact Bermuda and have them ask the Irish immigrants for volunteers to help build the Panama Canal. We have openings for 2000 young men and their families. The jobs will come with free education, medical and cheap housing.”
Liz looked at her father, “Cheap housing?”
“Boxcars really, they can be moved easily and be set up on side rails. We can move whole neighborhoods along the rails as work progresses. It has worked fine so far; remember we’re replacing the railroad with a canal.”
Leaning back on his swivel chair, Jon closes his eyes to relax a few minutes, Instead his mind drifts to the ambush. Shit Jon, what’s past is past; they’re dead, forget it! So much for relaxing. He opened his eyes. The first thing he sees is the uncompleted wall painting. The entire oval wall facing the Baltimore harbor is one massive wall painting of North American on the left with Central American under the window connecting to South America on the right side. Different Indian tribes and their boundaries are marked all over the map. It’s a wall painting that is continuously updated as new tribes are discovered. When possible, faces of their tribal features are added, from pictures taken during initial tribal contact. At present over four hundred tribes are represented in the painting. American controlled lands are in dark blue, with the allied Indians tribal area in a lighter blue. The unallied tribes were in red and orange; depending on their aggressiveness. The remainder is a very light green filling in the unexplored land areas. Both walls at the entrances are covered with paintings of the rest of the world’s land areas. A good portion of the worlds shore lines and Islands are painted dark blue; at least in Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean Sea; with a large area on the Arabian Peninsula.
Jon stares at the map. Two years ago the White house was finished; modeled on the original white house but only three quarters the size. Foreign dignitaries now are barred from meeting the President in the oval office. Too much of the new USA is now shown on the walls with the series of wall paintings started last year.
Slowly but surely the silver spider web of railroad tracks are making their way, radiating out from the Ohio valley. The Texas oilfields have been reached, a silver line on the western portion has made its way to the Rockies soon to reach the Pacific. Silver webs have reached all the mineral rich Great Lakes, terminating at large ports, especially those in what use to be Canada. The East coast tracks range from Florida to Nova Scotia with a spur into Quebec. A quick glance at the Panama railroad has Jon wondering: we’d better keep the railroad, it at least it will still be a fast people movers from ocean to ocean. Let the big cargoes go by the ships; they are not in a rush.
A glance at his watch showed Jon his next appointment should be here.
Jon shakes hands with the Head of the Dept. of Educations. “Hello Sharon, I see you brought your protégé.”
“Yes, this is Cathy Jackson my oldest daughter, and she is my protégé.”
Jon shakes her hand. “Glade to meet you Cathy, your mother has had a lot of good things to say about you.”
“Why, thank you, Mr. President.”
“What brings you to the oval office Sharon? Sharon!”
“My god, Jon! Who did those walls?” Sharon couldn’t keep her eyes off the painted walls.
“Great aren’t they. I wanted the next president to see just how I left him or her after my 12 years. The painting is updated monthly. I plan on having them photographed each month. That way we can have a pictorial history of the USA’s new history. As for who’s doing the painting it’s actually the whole Baltimore Art Class. I remembered I saw a picture in a Baltimore history book. It showed how house’s whole walls were used for paintings in the early 1800’s. I thought it was a good idea. It’s a good teaching aid and you could do something like it in our schools.”
Sharon finally takes her eyes off the Great Lakes region. “Jon we have to make major changes in the Education system. I feel like the Dutch boy holding back the ocean with my thumb stuck in a hole on the dike. To put it bluntly our High Schools can’t handle the overflow of new Immigrants. It was hard when we had our neighboring Indian Tribal children entering our school system. The early grades turned from a trickle to a raging river. Still we managed to teach Basic English, math and classes on how thing worked. When most of the Indian children got to the High School grades they returned home; maybe 20% went on to H.S. That is changing too, the different tribes are setting up their own schools, but more are staying in our High Schools to become teachers.”
“I remember, those were the hell years, but at least now we can communicate with each tribe.”
“Yes, but now we are inundated with European immigrants’ children and the adopted bootstrap kids we keep managing to rescue. These kids are smart and want a full education. I know we can’t double the H.S.’s we have; so we came up with a farm out system. Vocational really, the kids would be assigned a H.S. but farmed out. So kids interested in becoming a mechanic would get training in a machine shop or garage. Electricians in a power plant or repair shop. Basically they will have on the job training but with verbal testing. Maybe half of their time would be spent OJT and with two weeks a month in their H.S., that way we can double H.S. attendances till we can get more H.S. and teachers trained. I don’t want to add a third shift or stop summer vacations.
It’s hell on the teacher trainees having to learn all year round; so we can fill all the slots.”
“Sounds like a good idea to me Sharon, Hell I’d had thought we had most of the problems solved with two shifts a day. Send me the paperwork, if it looks good on paper I’ll push it through, especially more High Schools.
“Ok Jon, as for college, the policy of free education for the highly gifted is not yet a problem. But it will soon be, Jon these immigrant children are smart, really smart. Before, on average the highly gifted made up about twenty percent of a class, now it’s something like fifty percent. The colleges are going to need an expansion too if that percentage continues. You might rethink out policy of having the fist year of college free for everybody. It was a good idea for filtering out the non-serious students, but a forty percent rate drop out after the first year is a waste. I recommend that that project be cut in half. Why wait a full year, the goof offs and failures quickly make themselves know.”
“Sharon we have a great need for those graduates. Medical, teachers, engineers and scientists will keep our technology alive. Since each workers union and the military started sponsoring the remaining college years; we finally have gotten a good start on bringing back the Technology we’ve put on hold; Make sure those drop outs are non-salvageable. I don’t want any minds going to waste; in fact I’ll increase the government’s grants by twenty-five percent.”
After two hours of fine tuning Sharon’s ideas, Jon sees his guests out. A quick glance at Liz’s face stops him from returning to his office.”What’s going on Liz?”
Liz returns the phone to its cradle. “They had an accident in Panama. The connector train had a bridge go out when the train was passing over, the whole train fell in the river.”
“Do you know how many cars were involved?
After glancing at her notes she looked at her father with frightened eyes. “The engine and twelve cars, the train was taking the day shift workers home…”
“God… Find out all you can Liz. It’s 6:15 so I don’t have any more appointments; I’ll be staying in my office for awhile. Please man the phones. Have someone bring me the Panama file… Wait I’ve still got the file here.”
After tossing the blueprints back on his desk, he stares at the ceiling thinking. That bridge shouldn’t have collapsed, no way. Tracks loose? Out of alignment? No she said the Bridge collapsed. Damn I need information.
Jon reaches for the phone but it rings just as he touches it. “Yes.”
“Dad, I’ve got an update on Panama.”
Baltimore Office of Stone Enterprises.
It’s one of those damn days you just can’t seem to relax; Mark leans back in his office chair and tries to blank his mind. If I could just get past…Thinking back Mark wondered, we never did find out why the Erie would attack a cement plant, what were they going to steal? Rocks? Maybe they though they could catch us unaware and get the guns and ammo. Still remembering that day always hurt. Thirteen is too young to kill. Mark couldn’t forget the face of the Erie warrior he killed. I wonder if everybody’s first kill comes back to haunt them. It happened so quick, I thought he was coming over to play with us till Bent Bow said he had war paint on, and that damn spear he threw would have gotten me in the stomach if I hadn’t been holding the basket ball. Still it went through the ball and broke skin. I still can’t remember taking that spear and stabbing the warrior with it. All I do remember is the look of surprise and pain on his face. Dad sure was proud though. That day is probably the reason he decided to teach us to quick draw. Hell I didn’t even know there was a club for it…
Enough Mark you’ll never relax by thinking of the past, mentally kicking himself on the butt. Hell go home Mark, you’re the boss; you don’t have to keep staying late.
After shaking his head, he brings out his schematic on improving a sluice; still dreaming of big bags of gold.
Damn, it’s 7pm everybody should be gone by now.
“Mark its Liz, Dad wants to talk to you about the Panama accident.”
“What Panama accident?”
“A bridge collapsed under a train; there are many people dead.”
“Shit…Wait a minute! That bridge was designed to hold very heavy weights. Are you sure it collapsed?”
“That’s the info we’ve gotten so far.”
“I’ll be there in a couple of hours let me get that bridge’s blueprints.”
“Dad’s got the Panama Blueprints in his office.”
“No his prints are of the whole railroad, I want the one of the Bridge.”
“It’s not a design fault; the bridge will support two to three times the weight those trains normally carry. Dad, it couldn’t be the design, wood, bolts, land, or insects maybe. We need more information.”
“Mark this accident hurt us. Besides those poor people we’ve lost; this should set us back 4 to 8 months. You’re right about information. Therefore I’m going to send an engineer I can trust. You’ve it. Just in case the collapse wasn’t an accident you will be traveling with my brother William.”
“William, why send him?”
“William’s the best woodsman we’ve got. He’s been hunting for five years now, from what I’ve heard he’s is damn good at it. Now that he’s seventeen he needs direction. If the problem is caused by human enemies or whatnot; he can help track them down.”
“How much time do I have before you want us to go?”
“Be here tomorrow, I’ll have a seaplane in the harbor tomorrow; with a quick refueling at Cuba you should be in Panama by tomorrow night. Mark if you need any military help, just ask for it. I’ll write up some help-this-man orders in case you have trouble; and I’ll promote you temporarily three more grades to Colonel. Try to keep from using them; I don’t want to step on any army toes.”
The phones musical ringer starts to play… “Hello Jon here.”
“Jonnie, its Mark, we have to postpone the California trip for awhile. Dad wants me and William in Panama.”
“Huh, why, you’re a big boy now, tell him you want to try out your new invention.”
“Jonnie he’s not sending me to Panama to stop our California adventure. It’s because I’m the chief engineer for Stone’s Industries, and he needed to know what went wrong in Panama He’s even sending William with me.”
“First off, what happened in Panama? What’s so important that he will send his younger brother and oldest son?”
“Sorry, I thought you would have heard the news by now. The main railroad bridge collapsed under a train. Over six hundred people are hurt or killed. William and I are flying down tomorrow with some medics and medical supplies.”
“God… Ok, I understand why your going, but why William, he’s only 17?”
“Dad is actually sending him along for my protection and tracker if the accident turns out to be man made.”
“Mark do you think it might not be an accident?”
“I can’t see how the bridge could collapse. I looked over the Blueprints, they were the same as we have been using on our railroads since 1498. We haven’t had any trouble with those bridges. So you tell me.”
“Are you going to take any Companions?”
“Not me; William might take a cougar or wolf. But I doubt it, to many unknowns, especially the terrain.”
The jungle’s shaded canopy made them invisible to the naked eye; as they watched the catastrophe unfold.
Such a lovely sight, the train was just like a bunch of roped men falling over a cliff. Just a couple cars go over and their weight pulls the rest over. Let the Americans shrug that off. And it was so easy. A lot of axe work and then. Smiling he glanced at the bag of nuts on the ground; each removed from bolts on the bridges woodwork
“Martim, we will not need those axes again, repack them on the donkeys. They will make good trade items for the local Indios.”
“Yes Fernao.” Teenager Martim Sousa answered
Silence reigned as the conspirators contemplated just what they had done.
Martim was the first to speak. “Shouldn’t we be leaving now?”
Fernao looked at his friends and co-conspirators. “Our mission here was a success; the question now is do we stop or wait for a chance to do more damage to these American demons?
Nicolau Coelho looked surprised at Fernao de Magalhaes. “I don’t think Admiral Cabral would be happy if we stopped; his hatred for these Americans is well known. I say we continue.”
“And you Francisco, do you want to continue.”
“They took it away from me. I was to complete the first circumnavigation of the world on your fleet. Now everyone knows the world is round and the Americans will sell the world maps to anyone. I Francisco Rodrigues; would have been famous. Yes, we continue.”
“Martim, do you wish to continue?”
“Sir, why do you ask? You are our leader, order it and it shall be done.”
“Martim each of us has a different degree of grievance with the Americans; some may consider their revenge over. I ask again, do you wish to continue?”
“Yes, Fernao, I will continue with you. The American advances need to be stopped; and here is the place to do it. We still have much of Admirals Cabral gold left. Look how a few coins went to one of their worker to buy the tools to remove those; those, what were they called again?”
“Nuts.” said Nicolau as he turned to the others. “He’s right you know; gold can easily line the palms of traitors; we might not need to get an army of indios. As it is we were lucky to find the ten guides we have now. Martim and Francisco know the American’s language and are young enough to pass themselves off as new workers. With the hundreds of new arrivals no one should notice. We need information.”
Fernao looked north into the jungle. “Best we move out now, I’ll have the scouts find us a good campsite. We will move camp to a few miles from their arrival center. Francisco, you and Martim will then join their work force. We will wait. Now let’s leave this place, the stink will be horrible.”
As then were leaving Martim asked, “What about the guards, are you going to ask if they want to continue on with us?”
Fernao glanced at their forty or so well armed guards. “No they are well paid, and for what ever reason; don’t like Americans. That’s why I hired them.”
Fernao watched his group pack up. I wonder just how many kings have contributed to Admiral Cabral’s coffers? The cost for our team alone would have bought me three ships. The Portuguese King is nearly broke and Admiral Cabral never did have much money after his return from India. So who’s really paying for these attacks?
President’s Jonathan Stone 49
Captain Crystal Paul 27
Elizabeth Stone. 25 sec and daughter of president Stone
Mark Stone 27 President Stone’s son
Jonnie (Jonathan Jr.) Stone 18 President Stone’s son
William Stone 17 the Presidents half brother.
Mary Walker 10
Bruce Walker 9
Betty Armstrong Keys
Beth Simoni 8 year old daughter of Michelangelo and Betty
William Keys 7 years old
John and James. 3 year old Betty’s the twins
Admiral Josh Levy 60
Dr Willy Warren 47Surgeon General, overseeing health of Panama Canal workers.
Sharon Jackson 51 Head of Dept of Education
Cathy Jackson 27 oldest daughter, and protégé.”