September 19, 1969
Evelyn Boatman slowly awakened.
He was laying in a hospital bed under full terrestrial gravity. He could feel an oxygen tube in place on his nose. When he opened his eyes he saw a familiar figure standing beside the bed. A woman in scrubs and a white lab coat and holding a clipboard. The ship’s surgeon and his adopted daughter Alice.
“Hi Dad.” She said.
“What happened?” He replied. “Where am I?”
“We’re at our ground base. You seriously stirred up a nest of shrieks dirtside.”
The current ground base for the Eagle mission was at the U.S. Government’s Secret Area 51 in New Mexico.
He nodded, then replied.
“In the Terran context it should be hornets.”
“Whatever.” She replied. “What was the last thing you remember?”
He thought for a moment before answering.
“We had found temporary sanctuary at the local FBI office. The squad lander had set down in front of the Federal Building on Third Avenue and the Ranger squad was deployed in a circle. John and I had almost made it to the lander when something hit me in the back.”
Alice nodded and replied.
“It was a thirty caliber rifle fired by a police marksman. He apparently thought that the Federal order to not shoot you didn’t apply to him. The Rangers responded and killed every Minneapolis cop in sight. The dirtside press are now calling the incident the Minneapolis Massacre.”
“Morons.” He said.
“The cops or the press?” She replied.
He had another question.
“So how’s John?”
“He’s unharmed and back with his family in Huntsville.” She said. “Everyone at NASA Huntsville is seriously angry about the incident. And apparently Werner was actually cursing in Deutsche, something about the SS not being that stupid.”
Boatman could only nod. Doctor Von Braun’s personal history was something that not discussed.
Alice spoke again.
“So what happened to you? Well the bullet missed the heart but the right lung did collapse and we had to reinflate it. I want to keep you in bed until I’m certain it remains inflated. Do you understand?”
He looked up at Alice, she had her serious doctor look on her face.
“Yes ma’am.” He replied.
In Washington President Richard Milhous Nixon was not looking forward to the coming meeting. The Minneapolis Massacre had become a political nightmare for the administration. Although the Uptimers were fully cooperating with the FBI and fully presenting their case to the press the various news outlets were not presenting all of the facts. There appeared to be a concerted effort on the press to place the full blame for the incident on the Uptimers and the federal agencies that supported them.
The meeting would be held in the cabinet room in the West Wing. Along with the president would be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle Wheeler of the United States Army, and the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. The Uptimers would be represented by executive officer of the Eagle, Lieutenant Commander Michelle Keller. Commander Keller had brought a one of the spare laptop computers from the Eagle with her for the meeting.
The other side would be represented by Senators Hubert Humphrey and Edward Kennedy.
An aide poked his head into the cabinet room and spoke.
“Mister President, the senators are here.”
“Send them in.”
The three men stood up while Commander Keller remained seated.
As in the current norm the men shook hands then Senator Humphrey turned towards Commander Keller and put forth his hand with the expectation of a handshake. The Commander only responded with a cold stare.
President Nixon had read the full history of the United States up to the historical event the Uptimers called The Reformation. Given what he read he had expected the Uptimers to have a full hatred of the Democratic Party. What he found truly disturbing was their cold and clinical contempt for the Democrats instead of the emotional state of hatred.
“Do you understand courtesy?”
Commander Keller coldly responded.
“Where we come from the proper response to the presence of a Democrat is one round in the head in the old Soviet style.”
Both senators were shocked, their eyes widened.
Commander Keller pointed to the chairs as a command motion to sit.
The temperature in the cabinet room seemed to have dropped as the senators silently sat down.
Nixon had also read of the efforts of the political successors of the Democrats to prevent the construction of the sublight starships that would carry humans from the path of the oncoming neutron star that was expected to destroy Human Civilization in the Solar System.
As one of the Germans at Huntsville who also read the report had put it--those fools could have given Nietzsche several pointers on the philosophy of Nihilism.
Even so the clinical contempt of the Uptimers remained disturbing to the president.
President Nixon spoke.
“The subject of the discussion is the incident in Minneapolis yesterday.”
“Yes,” said Humphrey, “when will those murderers be brought to justice?”
Commander Keller calmly responded.
“Mister Humphrey, your police in Minneapolis chose to behave as predatory animals and were identified and dealt with as such. Justice has already been properly served.”
Humphrey face turned red as he raised his voice in response.
“THAT IS A LIE!”
Commander Keller said nothing in response. Instead she opened the laptop computer and positioned it so everyone at the table could see the screen and entered the command to play the audio-video file recorded by the lapel camera worn by Evelyn Boatman. Only after the file had completely played did she respond.
“As you can see the two officers in the initial incident failed to comply with the operational standards of a proper civil constabulary. Under the circumstances Mission Commander Boatman had no choice but to defend himself with deadly force.”
Both Director Hoover and General Wheeler nodded in agreement.
General Wheeler spoke up.
“Your cops were also ordered to stand down. Instead one of them shot Commander Boatman and the squad responded to that action in accordance to proper infantry doctrine.”
All of the television network news programs had shown newsreel footage of the Ranger squad, in their powered armor suits, engaging the Minneapolis Police on the ground. But the networks had consistently not shown the rifle shot that struck Boatman.
Humphrey spoke again.
“The Minneapolis police were slaughtered like animals! They didn’t know what they were up against!”
Director Hoover shook his head and replied.
“Senator, all the police departments in the Twin Cities area were notified of Commander Boatman’s visit to the area. The Saint Paul police informed their officers on duty of this. The Minneapolis police did not. So whose fault is this?”
Humphrey was struck silent, Kennedy now spoke up.
“So when will these monsters be disarmed?”
Commander Keller replied with a level voice.
“The citizens are the sovereign authority, those who seek to disarm them are traitors to the nation and should be put to death.”
Kennedy’s face turned red and he shouted in response.
President Nixon now interjected himself.
“Commander, I believe the senator is referring to your nuclear weapons.”
The planners of the Eagle expedition had no idea if anyone was still alive in the Solar System or how they would respond to a mission from Alpha Centauri. It was assumed that a hostile response was possible and that the expedition should be prepared for it. The Eagle at present carried more nuclear warheads than were in the arsenals of the United Kingdom, France, China, and Israel. Only the United States and Soviet Union outnumbered them in nuclear bombs and warheads.
“It simply won’t happen, sir.” She replied. “And Eagle is presently parked in geosynchronous orbit at about the longitude of Omaha, Nebraska. Our onboard laser batteries are presently providing coverage against a possible Soviet ballistic missile attack on the United States. If a hostile government were to come to power in the United States we would have withdraw our block against Soviet actions.”
What she left unsaid was that if a hostile president were elected it would be a very good idea to not be in Washington on Inauguration Day.
“You are the criminals!” Kennedy shouted.
Commander Keller slightly smiled, looked straight at Kennedy, and then she calmly spoke.
“Speaking of actual criminals, how is Mary Jo?”
Kennedy’s eyes widened. He shouted in response.
“HOW DARE YOU!”
Commander Keller’s eyes lit up as she spoke in response.
“Teddy, a proper government holds it’s elected officers to the highest reasonable standards, and the act of leaving a helpless young woman to slowly suffocate to death is something we treat as a capital crime.”
Well yes, the young woman in question was a Democrat, but a valid law must be applied to everyone without exception.
Kennedy quickly stood up and left the cabinet room.
President Nixon then spoke.
“Senator Humphrey, it appears that this meeting is over.”