Friday, September 26, 2014

Step Back -- Part 17

“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 the mission.

“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 craft.

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.

She replied.

“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 militarization.”


“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.

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