It was a rough landing in Omaha.  The spaceport there had been destroyed during the war, so Chong had pulled some strings and allowed the Rayburn to land at the military spaceport erected south of the city. Needless to say it had none of the comforts of even the smallest spaceport.
The group disembraked onto a gantry that led down to an open tarmac.  Not only was this rustic, but frankly somewhat dangerous. The military port was quite active and shuttles were large, loud and blind. Chong breathed an inward sigh when they finally made it to the temporary command structures away from the moving space hulks.
A car waited to fly them up into central Omaha.  Chong would stay in a hotel there and then tour the main sites of the bombing with Malinao. Along the way, Chong saw the effects of the war, and the bombing he had authorized. Streteches of normal suburban businesses and houses were punctuated by large tracts of empty land and charred earth. The rebuilding efforts were underway in the center of the city but had not reached out this far. Instead, cleanup crews had removed dilapidated structures and prepped land for rebuilding. The empty stretches were desolate with nothing but black soil and a few signs and markers left for fututre rebuilding crews to identify what property belonged to whom and what structures were meant to be replaced.
Just before the car flew over Mandan Park, Chong got his first look at the true result of the bombings. A neighborhood had not been cleared. Chong tapped on the window to get the pilot’s attention.
“Fly closer to that area, I won’t to get a better look.”
The pilot looked a question at Lawrence who just nodded.
Malinao scoweled. “Are you sure you want to see that right now Chong?”
Chong said nothing but kept his gaze fixed out the door.  He soon realized both why the are had not been cleared and why the pilot and Malinao were uncertain he would want to see this. Among twisted metal and mounds of ash were hundreds and hundreds of bodies, preserved in stasis bags.  This was an identification center for the war dead. The field of bodies seemed endless and could not have had a more macabre setting. Nothing lived down there, and workers wore clean suits to prevent themselves getting infected. As they swooped down to their lowest point in passing, Chong saw that not all the bags had bodies.  Some contained collections of limbs or merely charred skull-like heads. He shuddered.  Suddenly the field of bodies ended. and in a snap he was looking at  shopping center.  Granted it wasn’t bustling.  Doubtless people had little to spend and wouldn’t be too keen about shopping near the dead.  However, aside from the lack of people it looked untouched as if the war had never happened.
Malinao leaned forward and touched Chong on the knee, sending an electric shock up his spine. “Are you OK?” she asked.
He found himself frustratingly speechless, not because of what he’d just seen but from Malinao’s touch.
“There’ll be worse tomorrow you know,” she said concerned. She removed her hand and freed his tounge.
“I know. That’s what I cam for. We have to confront it in order to get past it.”
The rest of the trip was in silence until the car floated to a landing at one of the few hotels in business in downtown Omaha.
The streets in downtown Omaha were quite a contrast to the outlying areas.  People were everywhere working on construction projects, conferncing about plans, protesting about issues and some of them merely asking for handouts. The bustle lifted Chong’s spirits a bit and he saw a similar effect on the others in the group.
Lawrence handled the checkin and brought everyone there room cards.
“They weren’t terribly pleased to see me, I’ll say that,” said Lawrence as he doled out the cards.
“Don’t take it personally,” Malinao said. “They’ve been through a lot. I don’t think most of the Omaha residents have anything against the UMC.  Most of them blame the Fundys at this point. Ford is unique. Most of these people weren’t even living here anymore at the time of the bombing.”
Chong started to feel the weight of a long day of travel, planet change, emotional sites and more. He intended to retire to his room and get some sleep. A guard accompanied upstairs and stood outside his room.  LAwrence was even too tired to talk right now, and went straight to his own room. They would all meet in four hours to begin their tour.
Chong threw his things down on the couch and opened the doors into the suite’s bedroom.  Sitting on the bed was John Ford.
“Hello Mr. President.  I hear you’ve met my wife.”