Monday, September 22, 2014

Some Thoughts


Um, living next to those cheeseheads in Wisconsin I would be worried too.

Oh, and something from an old project.

Pay no attention to the penguin.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Step Back, Part 15

On that morning President Nixon was actually looking forward to this particular meeting in the Oval Office.

“Congressman Bush it is good to see you.”  He said to his guest.

“Thank you, sir.”  Congressman George Herbert Walker Bush of Texas replied.

The men walked over the sofas and sat down,

“So what did you want to speak to me about, sir.”  Said Bush.

“As a result of information brought back from the future, Vice President Agnew will not be running for reelection.  I want you to run for the office of Vice President in his place.”

Bush was shocked to hear this, but he quickly recovered.

“I would be honored, sir.”  He replied.

The two men continued their discussion about the future in more detail.

In the Uptime Liaison Office in Arlington, Virginia Lieutenant Commander Keller had two meetings scheduled.  The first was an interview for a leadership position with the security unit at the Uptime Base in Nevada.

Walter E. Short had a resume that was impressive even by Uptime standards.  He was a third-generation West Point graduate and had risen through the ranks of the army and had been on track for a top post within the Pentagon.  But on his first tour of Vietnam he was sent by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to compile a report on the failings of the current military policies.  His clearly critical report was unexpected and was immediately restricted for the joint chiefs and President Johnson only.

Short had repeatedly applied to join the Special Forces and the request was consistently denied, his subsequent request for retirement from the army at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel was granted.

The history of his counterpart on the original timeline was far more impressive.  Short had become a well read author in the fields of politics and military history.  His works would in turn influence the prime movers of the events that would eventually become known as The Reformation.

What he would become on this timeline was now another question.

The intercom buzzed, it was the local civilian receptionist out front.

“Commander, Colonel Short is here.”

“I’ll be right out.”

Keller stepped over to the closet and checked her appearance in the full length mirror mounted inside the door.  With her surface duty dress uniform clearly in order she stepped out to the reception area.

She found Colonel Short standing before the reception desk.  Although he was in a grey civilian business suit his military bearing was obvious as was his regulation haircut.  Even in his early forties he still had the appearance of a film star.  The man could clearly could pass for a fit and healthy version of Marlon Brando.

Keller spoke first.

“Colonel Short, thank you for coming.”

“Thank you, Ma’am.”  He replied.

It was a very pleasant meeting where Colonel Short agreed to take charge of the locally raised security force at the surface base.

The next meeting was with Mr. Gordon Graham, the Nixon Administration’s liaison with the Uptimers in Washington.  She did not expect it to be a pleasant one.

Keller did not stand up when Graham entered her office.

“Take a seat.”  She said.

With Graham seated she spoke again.

“Mr. Graham, do you understand why you are here today?”

“No.”

“It’s because of your failure to perform your job.”

“I don’t understand?”  He replied.  “I have performed my duties perfectly!”

“Really?”  Keller replied.  “Let’s examine one issue in particular.  We are raising a group of locals to perform security duties for our surface base in Nevada.  We intended to arm them with current technology weapons and we asked you to order specific weapons from a specific manufacturer on our behalf.  You have clearly failed to do so.”

Graham’s virtual feathers were virtually ruffled.

“You don’t need that foreign junk!  I ordered perfectly good Americans guns for you instead!”

Great Vacuum, she thought, what a moron.

“Mr. Graham,” she replied, “The M14 rifle was adopted because the United States Army Ordinance Corps has a long standing case of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome.  The M60 machine gun is such a worthless piece of junk that it will eventually be replaced by the FN-MAG machine gun under the designation of M240.  And the M3 Grease Gun is simply an obsolete piece of junk.  We have cancelled the order you placed and I had to place a direct order for the correct ordinance with Fabrique Nationale de Herstal in Belgium.”

The locally raised security force under Colonel Short will be issued FN-FAL rifles, FN-MAG general purpose machine guns, and licenced UZI machine pistols made by FN Herstal.

“You can’t do that!”  Graham proclaimed.

“I had to.”  Commander Keller replied.  “And you’re also fired.”

Graham shouted.

“You can’t do that!  I work for the United States Government!”

No, thought Commander Keller, I suppose I couldn’t fire him.

She replied.

“What I can do is to perform a ballistic lobotomy on you should you step foot in this office again.  Do you understand Mr. Graham?”

Gordon Graham abruptly stood up.

“You haven’t heard the last of this!”

He then stormed out of the office.

It was still afternoon in London when the guest arrived at the Prime Minister’s residence. 

“Mr. Clarke, thank you for coming.”  Said the Prime Minister.

“Thank you, sir.”  Arthur C. Clarke replied.

“Mr. Clarke, you’ve met with these people aboard their ship, why won’t they speak to Her Majesty’s Government here in London?”

“Because in their view you’re not a government.”  Said Clarke.  “They see the Labour Party and socialists in general as savages.”

Prime Minister Harold Wilson was stunned to hear this.

“How can that be?”  He asked.  “Socialism is clearly the most progressive form of social organization.”

“I asked the same question of their Mission Commander, Mr. Boatman.” Clarke replied.  “In their view Socialism is simply stone age savagery heavily disguised with a heavy coat of make up.  He also stated that there was absolutely no point in communicating to any sitting Socialist state as they are in complete denial with all respects to reality.”

What Clarke didn’t repeat to the PM was that they generally held the current Terran Socialists to be a lower form of life than the stone age natives of the Planet Eden.

“Would they ever speak to anyone here in United Kingdom?”

“They may speak with a Dry Tory such as Mrs. Thatcher, but they have nothing but absolute contempt for the Wets.”

This was not what the PM wanted to hear.

In Dallas a group was gathered in prayer before the ER entrance of Parkland Hospital.  The widow of the Reverend William Grant led the group in prayer for her late husband. 

Larry Travis and his film crew were observing the proceedings.  He quickly noticed that not one prayer was said for Judith, the daughter taken by the Uptimers to their ship.

Why?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Step Back, Part 14

On the command deck of the Eagle the Officer of the Watch called the ship to action stations.

Captain Sterling was the first to reach the command deck in response.

“What’s the problem?”  He asked the Watch Officer.

“Sir, the CMO is responding to a request for assistance in Dallas, Texas.  She’s bringing the alert squad of Rangers along for security on the ground.  And there a possible political issue.”

The Watch Officer handed the Captain a printout of the message.

“Very well.”  Said the Captain.  “Rig ship for ground support.”

As the Eagle shifted from spin to free fall Mission Commander Boatman himself reached the command deck.  Captain Sterling updated him on the situation and handed him the printed message from Doctor Boatman.

“This could get interesting.”  Said the Captain.

“Given that the male parental unit has a clear and severe problem with reality, it could.”

On the ground Petty Officer Murphy shouted an order.

“Weapons out!”

The ground security team drew their own gauss pistols and aimed them at the cops present.  The Dallas cops quickly held their own hands up.

The lead cop spoke up.

“What is this?”

Petty Officer Murphy replied.

“You saw what happened in Minneapolis, we don’t want a repetition of that incident. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

Doctor Boatman then holstered her weapon and spoke.

“Officer, we will evacuate our team and the patient without further incident, do you understand?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

She then spoke to the team members.

“Let’s go.”

The medivac lander and the Ranger squad was on the street in front of the ER entrance.   Doctor Goldman watched as Judith was brought aboard and shifted to a bunk in the horizontal position.  The bunk was then rotated to an apparently vertical position.

“Why are you doing this?”  He asked.

Doctor Boatman replied.

“This isn’t Star Trek, we don’t have artificial gravity any form of inertial compensation.  Judith will be laying flat with respect to the axis of acceleration of the lander.”

“Okay.”

“I would be remiss if I didn’t offer you a ride under the circumstances.”  She said.

“I still have a shift to complete.”  He replied.

“I understand.”

Once Doctor Goldman was clear of the medivac lander it took off.

At the White House President Nixon was notified of the incident.

After he hung up the phone he dropped his head onto his hands and spoke to himself.

“Fuck...Fuck...Fuck...”

Larry Travis and his team quickly returned to the station and processed their film.  And the the contents of the film and audio was quickly transmitted by cable to the network headquarters in New York.

David Brinkley would lead off the NBC Nightly News with a warning about the disturbing images.  Millions of American televison viewers would witness the execution of the Reverend William Grant by Doctor Alice Boatman in living color.

In the Soviet Embassy in Washington the Ambassador was viewing the broadcast with a guest.

“It appears that your mission may be over, Comrade Gorbachev.”

“On the contrary, Comrade Ambassador, the Star People are running out of friends here in the United States.  They may have no other choice but to come to us now.”

And that statement may very have been insanely optimistic on his part, thought Gorbachev.

In a hotel room in Kansas City, Missouri, agent John Cross was also watching the evening news.  He had performed several similar executions in the line of duty to the reigning monarch and country.  AS he saw it there was only a short amount of time before the Uptimers would have to leave the United States.  And under the circumstances they would have to be insane to refuse an offer of alliance with Her Majesty’s Government.

But then their actions on the ground couldn’t actually be described as sane.

As the Sun rose over the capitals of Europe three different men were sitting in contemplation of the morning’s news. 

In Vatican City Pope Paul the Sixth read the report of the incident over his morning breakfast.  Yes, William Grant was a disgusting heretic, but murder is murder.  There was no question that the Mother Church would condemn the actions of the godless monsters from space.  The question was how could the church use this incident to bring more Americans back into the fold.

At 10 Downing Street Prime Minister Harold Wilson at breakfast read the account printed in The Times of the event in Dallas.  There was no question that William Grant was a fraud and a monster. But his very pubic execution without any resemblance of due process would clearly anger the Protestant Christian base of the Republican Party in the United States.  And without that support the Uptime People would have no choice but to withdraw from America.

Without question they would have to come to Britain.

Later in the day the Prime Minister would meet with a man flown in Ceylon.  As a well known author of science fiction he was expected to have insights on solving the problems presented by the Uptimers.

In the Elysee Palace outside of Paris President Georges Pompidou sat quietly and watched the 16 millimeter film. It was another copy of the film that was distributed by the United States Government to its various allies, but somehow not to France.

Why?

As had the Soviets the French intelligence service has stolen a copy and sent it to Paris.  President Pompidou viewed it while listening to a translation of the soundtrack though a set of headphones.

When the screening was finished one clear question came to the president’s mind.

What about France?

Not once was his nation mentioned in the description of the future that the Uptimers came from.  Not once.

Why?

Thought For The Day

The modern Progressive is nothing more than a predatory animal pretending to be civilized man.  And as with all predators that attack men they must be hunted down and exterminated.

What are your questions on this block of instruction?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Step Back, Part 13

Doctor Alice Boatman was working in her office at the ground base when the phone rang.

“Hello?”  She said.

“Doctor Boatman?” 

“Yes.”

“This is Doctor Mark Goldman, we met at the conference in New York and I’m calling about a patient that was just brought into Parkland Hospital.”

“Is she stable?”

“For the moment yes, but it’s entirely possible that she will eventually succumb to her injuries.  And there’s also a political factor.”

“Which is?”

“The injuries were the result of her being severely beaten by her father, William Grant, and the Dallas police are reluctant to act on the case.”

An emotional button had just been pressed for her.  Alice firmly  reminded herself to remain calm.

She replied.

“There are several procedures we’ve developed in the last five centuries that could help, but in the absolute worst case we could do a RC.”

“RC?”

“Recorporation, it’s an annoying procedure to go through, but it’s clearly better than dying.  We’ll need a blood sample and we’ll have to do a memory scan on the patient.  Fortunately we do have a portable kit for that.”

“How soon can you come here?”

“We can come right away, but you’ll need to have the local police clear an area for the lander to set down on.”

“Okay, we can do that. Thank you Doctor Boatman.”

Thank you, Doctor Goldman, she thought.

For this mission she would take two assistants and a four man security team in a medivac lander.  And the alert squad of Rangers would come along in their own lander just in case there was a serious security problem on site.

Larry Travis was a field producer in the news department of the NBC Television affiliate in Dallas.  On the job at this station he had personally witnessed the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby.  He was now called into an office by the head the of the news department.

The department head spoke.

“Larry, one of those landing craft from the time traveling starship just set down at Parkland Hospital.  Take a reporter and a film crew and find out what’s going on there.”

“Yes sir.”  He replied.

As he left the office another field producer stepped inside.

“Jack,” said the Department Head, “the police scanner has just  picked up a call about the daughter of the Reverend William Grant gone missing, I want you to work on it.”

In the Parkland ER Doctor Goldman updated Doctor Boatman on the condition of the patient as they performed another examination. 

“There were numerous broken ribs and some broken bones in the arms and legs as a result of falling from the second floor.  And some internal injuries, but she appears to have stabilized for the moment.”

“Getting her into free fall or just lower spin gravity aboard the Eagle would help her recover faster.”  She replied.  “It would also get her away from the monster who did this.”

“Yes.”  Doctor Goldman replied.

Judith’s eyes flickered.

Alice spoke to her.

“Can you hear me?”

Judith could barely reply.

“Yes.”

“I’m Doctor Alice Boatman from the starship Eagle, we’re taking you up to the ship where we have better facilities and you’ll heal faster.  Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have any other questions?”  Said Doctor Boatman.

“I don’t know what to believe.”  Said Judith.

Doctor Goldman replied to her.

“Well, if there’s a God and he is just, then he won’t care how you worshiped him were but will welcome you because of how you lived.  Now if there wasn’t a God, then you will go, but you will be remembered as a good person.”

Judith smiled.

“Okay Judith,” said Doctor Boatman, “we’re going to prep for transit to the Eagle.  Okay?”

“Yes.”

Judith went back to sleep.

In the corridor Travis and his crew had set up their film camera and audio tape recorder when the Uptimers began to move their patient.  It was here that the hospital administrator stopped them.

The administrator wanted to speak to Doctor Boatman but directed himself to the male field medic.

“Doctor Boatman, I’m sorry but I can’t allow you to take this patient from here.”

Boatman directly replied.

“You’re the administrator?”

“Yes.”

“You act like one.”

Alice had mentally stopped herself from saying the word moron.

The administrator spoke again.

“You don’t have parental permission.”

Doctor Boatman calmly replied.

“The father had beaten the girl into a bloody pulp.  His claim to parental right is null and void.”

It was at this moment that there was a commotion at the end of the corridor.  The Reverend William Grant had entered the Emergency Room of Parkland Hospital.  He immediately saw the group of Uptimers with his daughter on the gurney and strode towards them.

Travis spoke to his crew.

“We are getting this?”

“Yes boss.”

Grant had reached the group at the other end of the corridor.  He spoke up with a strong voice.

“Who dares to take my daughter from me?”

“Doctor Alice Boatman of the starship Eagle.”

“You will return her to me!”  Said Grant.

“I don’t take orders from witch doctors.”  Doctor Boatman replied.  “Get out of the way.”

Petty Officer Third Class Elizabeth Murphy stepped forward to block Grant.

But Grant shouted.

“I don’t take orders from whores!”

For Alice Boatman a mental button had been pushed.

Every member of the Eagle Expedition was fully aware of the doctor’s background.  They knew that she had been born aboard the last sublight starship that had departed from Earth.  And they were fully aware of what happened to her on that ship when she was twelve standard years old.

The Integral was the last sublight starship to leave the Solar System and it was also the most primitive.  It was propelled by the Orion nuclear fission drive and was configured to carry twenty thousand people for three generations to Alpha Centauri.  Unfortunately it was manned by people who firmly believed in the doctrine of Communism and as a result of ideological actions and simple idiocy the number of souls aboard was reduced to a bit over 2,000 at the end of the journey.

The ideological leader of the this space going clusterfuck also had himself carried in cryostasis for the bulk of the journey with special arrangements made for his arrival.  One of them was to have a twelve year old girl available for his use for sexual gratification.

Upon arrival at Alpha Centauri he was put to death for his numerous crimes, including the repeated rapes of the girl.

The girl had been given an alphanumeric designation on the ship.  On the ground she was adopted by Evelyn and Cheryl Boatman and chose the name of Alice.

She would grow up to have a normal life.  But one of the consequences of her being used as a instrument of sexual gratification was that she would never enter into a mature relationship with a man.

For the rest of her lives Petty Officer Murphy would swear that she heard a mechanical click when Doctor Boatman’s eyes shifted towards Grant.  And that the temperature of the corridor seemed to have clearly shifted downwards.

Murphy briefly turned away from the scene and with her left hand shifted the microphone closer to her mouth.  She then softly but firmly spoke into the mike.

“Team Leader to Control, we need the Rangers on the ground and inside right now!”

Larry Travis was watching the scene from down the hall.  He spoke to the cameraman.

“Are you getting this?”

“Yes.”

Alice Boatman reminded herself that she was facing a problem with a clearly rational solution, very much like the surgical removal of a cancerous tumor.  With absolute clinical calmness she responded to the overt insult.

“What did you say?”

William Grant replied with the full fury of the righteous.

“You are a harlot!  A whore of the devil!  And only through renouncing Satan and bowing to our Lord Jesus Christ can you be saved!”

Doctor Boatman calmly turned to the nearest cop and calmly spoke.

“This man is clearly irrational, and he is a clear danger to himself and to others, he must be taken into custody.”

The Dallas cop was clearly frightened by this situation with a political factor.  With a shaken voice he replied.

“I can’t do that Ma’am.”

“Then there is no law.”  Doctor Boatman responded with a clearly calm voice.

This is it, thought Murphy.

Incredibly Grant raised his voice further and shouted.

“That’s right you whore of Satan, there’s only the law of God!”

At this point and without emotion Alice Boatman drew the gauss pistol from her holster, aimed it with both hands, and shot William Grant in the head.  There was no report of a gunpowder weapon, only the supersonic crack of the round and the sound of impact.

It was like shooting a shriek back home on Eden.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Step Back, Part 12

On Wednesday afternoon a police cruiser pulled up to the ER entrance of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas.  One of the officers rushed inside to get a gurney while the driver went back to extract the victim from the car.  The teenage girl had been severely beaten and then received further injuries from dropping from the second storey window to escape the family home.

It was on the street that the officers first saw the girl and from there taken her to the hospital.  

Mark Goldman was the doctor on duty when the girl was brought in. As he worked on her injuries she briefly regained consciousness.  He used the opportunity to speak to her.

“I’m Doctor Goldman, you are at Parkland Hospital.  Who did this to you?”

“Father,” she replied.

“Who is your father?”

“William Grant.”

Goldman was not surprised.  To him it wold take a very serious mental disconnection to preach any form of religion on an advanced technological medium such as television.  The beating of his own daughter to a bloody pulp was clearly not a surprise to the doctor.

“Do yo know why did he beat you?”

“He found my copy...of...Atlas Shrugged.”

After she had returned home after school for the day Judith Grant has spoken with her father.  He absolutely had to read his latest sermon to Judith and his other children.

Judith had learned the hard way to not criticize her father to his face.  But the obvious disconnection from reality was too much even for her this time.

“Father,” she said, “the Uptimers are just normal people doing what they see as right with what they have.  And reality is real, Father.”

He was shocked to hear a voice of dissent.  Then the state of anger at his oldest daughter rose within him.

That shock and anger was clearly in his voice as he spoke in return to her.

“What did you say?”

Judith could see her father’s anger, but she would speak what was clearly the truth.

“Reality is real, things and people are what they are.  A is A.”

Grant recognized the last sentence and the literary work it came from.  In full rage he stuck Judith in the face with his open right hand.  As she fell to the floor he looked to his other children.  They were clearly frightened of him now.

Good, he thought.

“Go to your rooms!”  He shouted the command.

As his other children scattered in fear to their rooms he reached down picked up Judith from the floor.

“Where is it?”  He shouted in a state of full rage.  “Where is that filth?”

“Atlas Shrugged?”

“Yes!  Where is it?”

There was no point in lying,  She answered the question.

“In my room.”

In a full rage he dragged her by the hair to her room and bodily pushed her inside.  He then followed.

“Now!”  He shouted.  “Where is it?”

There was no point in hiding it.  It was simply a material object, and one that could be replaced.  It was her own life that was precious and it was something that could no longer be lived in the shadow of a monster.  At this time, right now, that she decided to leave.  To run away from this nightmare.

She opened a dresser drawer where she kept some of her underwear  and pulled out an aging paperback copy of the book.

He suddenly grabbed it from her hands and shouted.

“This!  You dare to defile this house of The Lord with this filth!”

He raided his voice further.

“Rand is Satan’s whore, and you are no better than one yourself!”

He started beating her.  He would eventually beat her unconscious.  When she regained consciousness she found that the door to her room was wedged shut.

She decided at this time to go out of the window.

In the ER Doctor Goldman now stopped and looked down at Judith for a moment.  William Grant was generally known to have major connections to the political establishment in Dallas.  As a result he could very well get away with beating Judith, even if she had eventually died.

Doctor Goldman spoke to Judith.

“I promise that he will not harm you ever again.”

The girl smiled.

“I have some other things to do.”  He said.

“Yes.”  She replied.

Doctor Goldman steeped out into the hall and immediately saw one of the cops who brought Judith Grant to Parkland Hospital.  He walked up to him and spoke.

“Officer, William Grant has committed a felony assault on his daughter Judith.  He has to brought in.”

“Can’t do it.”  The officer replied.

“Why not?”

“Reverend Grant is politically connected and is untouchable.”

That was wrong thought Doctor Goldman.

“And what if his daughter dies?”  He replied.  “Then you’ll have a murder to deal with?”

The policeman shook his head and answered.

“Then I guess we’ll have to find a nigger to fry for it.”

Doctor Goldman stared for a moment.

“Never mind.”  He said.

There was something else he could do.

Goldman returned to a small office just off of the ER.  He opened his desk and brought out a notebook.  He recently attended a conference of Objectivists in New York City.  The CMO from the Eagle was one of the speakers at the conference.  And he wrote down a contact number.

He picked up the receiver of the desk phone and dialed zero.

“Hello, operator?  I need to make a long distance call to Nevada.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

An Image


This is an small aerodyne from Steve Gallachi's works, specifically Erma Felna EDF as published in his independent comic book series Albedo.  I'm using this as the basis of the landers in the Step Back series.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Step Back, Part 11

While on course back to the overwatch position the Eagle had gone into spin mode for internal gravity and dinner was being served in the officers mess.

Robert Heinlein had a question.

“So how did this all start?”

“That’s a good question,” Boatman replied, “the beginning goes a long ways back.”

“The beginning is usually the good place to begin.” Said Virginia Heinlein.

“Well yes, it is.” Boatman replied.

He leaned back in his chair for a moment before starting.

“It began early in my first incarnation on Earth. Even though at the time I normally lived and worked aboard the habitats orbiting Jupiter I occasionally had to physically visit the Earth. For me the Earth was a strange, wondrous and occasionally dangerous place. I was born and raised on Ganymede, one of the moons of Jupiter. I grew up in the domes and tunnels of Ganymede and worked aboard the orbital stations owned by the family firm, the Boatman Corporation.”

“The open skies and natural atmosphere of the Earth had been a new experience for me when came here to attend college. So was effort of living in the naturally higher gravity. Another surprise was the very annoying tendency of the Earthborn to not pay conscious attention to how they moved about. That is to actually look where they were going.”

“I had come to Earth to meet with two clients at Cal Tech. The first meeting was about my Dad’s last big project when he was alive. This was the Niven Deep Space Observatory. It had been placed in a solar orbit that took it well outside the plane of the ecliptic in the Solar System. The primary mission of the NDSO was to detect and observe neutron stars.”

“The Astronomy Department at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California was the primary operator of the NDSO. Our firm, having built the NDSO, now had the contract to maintain and upgrade it. For this I made a rare visit to Earth to speak with the program director, Dr. Bob Petrov, about the next series of upgrades.”

Everyone at the table was looking at Boatman with full attention.

“I asked Doctor Petrov what he wanted to talk about.”

“There was a very odd series of readings they got on an object with the platform. And they wanted to eliminate the possibility of a fault with the platform before publishing a paper on it. The object, which was designated it Niven-69, was at that time very close to the Solar System, well within a light year. The disturbing thing was that they could not detect a lateral movement.”

Heinlein spoke.

“Which was interpreted as meaning that it was headed our way?”

“Yes.” Boatman replied. “My next meeting was at the JPL next door, I brought Dr. Petrov with me.”

JPL was the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Cal Tech. At the present time it was the primary center for the unmanned probe programs of NASA.

On the ground the Sun was rising over the city of Dallas. The Reverend William Grant sat in the study of his home and read the local morning papers.

How could he explain the events of the previous night? The rescue of American servicemen held captive in North Vietnam and the demolition of the Communist military. There was no question that these were virtuous acts.

Or were they?

Satan was an angel of The Lord and had presented himself to men as such. And he was also known as the Bringer of Light. By such deception was he able to corrupt otherwise good men into serving him.

A new question now came to the Reverend Grant’s mind.

Was the child Boatman in fact the incarnation of Satan himself?

Has Satan come to Earth himself in order to deceive Mankind?

Is this The End?

He sat back in his chair to think.

Back on the Eagle Virginia Heinlein had a question.

“So what happened at JPL?”

Boatman answered her.

“My visit to JPL was to report on The Daedalus Project. The Daedalus was a sublight probe constructed to do a flyby of the stars Sirius A and B. During the meeting Bob Petrov and I talked the mission board into changing the destination to Alpha Centauri to search for a habitable planet.”

“And an Earth-like planet was found.” Virginia said.

“Actually two,” Boatman replied, “one each around A and B.”

Robert now had a question.

“Can you describe the Daedalus?”

“Yes, it was a two stage probe. As originally proposed in 1975 she was intended to go 12.5 percent of lightspeed. When we actually built and launched her we got the operating velocity up to twenty percent of C.”

“1975?” Said Robert.

“Yes the British Interstellar Society proposed the mission when it was believed at the time that there was a possible gas giant planet orbiting Barnard’s Star. We actually took the Eagle there on a test mission before coming to Earth and only found a Neptune-Uranus class gas giant and some airless rocks.”

“So you found two good worlds at Alpha Centauri.” Said Virginia.

“Yes, but one of them was already inhabited. Eden, orbiting A, had stone age natives, and very hostile natives at that. The first colonists on the planet were overrun and eaten.”

For everyone at the table that was the end of dinner.

On the ground in his classroom Professor Thomas Archer was in a very foul mood.

How can real progress be made when progressives can be murdered at will from space?

He looked around the classroom. The generally shorter haired boys and neatest and cleanest girls were obviously smiling at the horrible news of what happened to Vietnam.

Well he would teach them a real lesson.
Edit/Delete Message

Thought For The Day


In a rational society Miss Jodie Sweetin at this age would be identified as being too young for any sexual relations.  But Miss Sweetin would be too old according to the false prophet Mohammed.

What are your questions on this block of instruction?