“Final burn completed.”
Lieutenant Cook, the commander of this mission, looked about the command
deck of the subordinate craft. Even with the return to free fall
everyone and everything was working smoothly. This was especially true
with the Downtime American volunteers who made up part of the crew for
“Very good.” He said.
The Falcon, along with her sisters Harrier, Kite, Owl and Osprey, were
the largest subordinate craft carried aboard the Eagle on the mission to
Sol. As with th Eagle they had been fitted with the FTL Drive. And as
with the Eagle the FTL Drive had been disconnected from the control and
energy systems of the vessels. For this mission the drive had actually
been dismantled and placed in storage to improve the mass fraction of
The image on the primary screen of the command deck was split with a
virtually straight line between a field pf stars and a the night side
upper atmosphere of the planet Jupiter. The flashes of lightning that
could be seen from this orbit would put the electrical output of a
Terrestrial hurricane to shame.
But their mission wasn’t to play tourist, the Falcon was here for fuel.
Although the Eagle was designed and constructed to use a quantum
singularity as the primary power source, the auxiliary generators, as
well as the primary powerplants of the auxiliary craft and surface
installations were fusion reactors.
Fusion reactors used Deuterium and Helium-3 for fuel. While Deuterium
could be found on Earth the sources for any reasonable quantity of
Helium-3 were the large gas giants. In the history of the primary
timeline Jupiter and Saturn were robotically mined for Helium-3. For
the mission to Sol the necessary mining machines were duplicated and
brought along to support the mission.
Lieutenant Cook switched on the intercom and spoke to the crew of the Falcon.
“This is the commander, we have arrived, let’s get to work.”
Back on Earth in her Arlington office Lieutenant Commander Keller was having another meeting with Colonel Short.
“Walt,” she said,” you asked why we have a fundamental contempt for the
constabulary. There is an answer but you may not like it.”
Walter Short thought for a moment before responding.
“So?” He said. “If we are not willing to face an unpleasant truth we may as well be dead.”
Keller smiled. What Short just said to her was a verbatim statement straight from the historic record.
“There is a long history of abuses that led up to The Reformation--I’ve
included several works on the subject on this memory chip that you can
read on your laptop...”
She handed him a memory chip encased in bright blue plastic.
“...but the major incident that touched off The Reformation was the
Oakland Massacre. After the president elect was assassinated at the
orders of President Null, he issued an additional command for the
civilian police forces to use deadly force on any demonstrations in
opposition to his continued rule.”
“That’s a war crime!” Said Colonel Short.
“Yes.” Keller replied. “It was.”
Keller entered a command into the her desktop workstation. The large
video screen on a wall lit up with an image of the Oakland Police in
action. The Oakland cops wore dark blue uniforms with body armor and
carried military grade carbines.
Colonel Short spoke up.
“Those aren’t cops!” He said.
“Not by the current standards.” Commander Keller replied. “Up to the
time of the Last Election both parties had pursued a policy of police
“It was deemed expedient in the pursuit of other policies.”
Short shook his head in apparent disgust.
On the screen civilians were peacefully gathered. Some of them carried
signs that simply said: “Resign!” Other demonstrators carried signs
with something that Colonel Short recognized as the European road sign
symbol forbidding an action over the number zero.
“No Zero?” He said.
“Yes.” Keller replied. “At that time President Null was also called The Big Zero.”
“Ouch.” Short replied.
The video then showed a man with a flak vest civilian attire leaning
over to speak to the lead policeman. The Police Captain then spoke
through a megaphone to command the demonstrators to disperse.
One of the demonstrators shouted back.
“We The People are the sovereign authority, we give the orders to you!”
The civilian in the flak vest appeared to be clearly outraged and apparently issued another order to the Police Captain.
The Police Captain then shouted orders to his men.
“Take aim and fire!”
Apparently the camera operator was hit in the initial volley. Then another person picked up the camera and ran away with it.
“And this was broadcast?” Said Colonel Short.
“Yes, on the Internet.” Commander Keller replied.
Short had read about the construction of the Internet. It was originally
intended to be a system for military communication during a nuclear war
based on the fiber optic lines and multiple dispersed nodes. The
transfer of the Internet to civilian use and the further commercial
expansion of it effectively ended the days of a centralized and
controllable mass media.
Colonel Short whistled.
“And this led to the radical reforms of the police?”
“Yes.” Keller replied. “After The Reformation the civilian
constabulary was demilitarized and largely disarmed. The doctrines
originally put forth by Sir Robert Peel were adopted and policemen were
recruited exclusively from veterans of the Federal Service.”
“And it worked? Even with serious criminals?”
“Well what you call serious criminals were put to death. That’s another reform, sir.”
And all Colonel Short could do at that point was nod.