Archive for November 18th, 2006

November 18, 2006: 9:45 pm: UMC

The dark tunnel was full of dust and soot.  Malinao could barely see Chong through the gloom.  Even the floaters barely cast any light.  The moon dust was so fine, even underground, it clogged filters dn blocked light.
“Where are we now,” she shouted to Chong.
“About to the center of the colony. I think 5th street and Prophets Avenue,” he shouted back.
Hashimoto manned the device monitoring Narang’s quantum dot.
“Another 100 meters, heading 70 degrees north from current directional,” shouted down Hashimoto.
Malinao plugged her ears as the driller fired up again. It was extremely loud, but at least not as horrifice as the detrailers ahd been.  She was impressed by Chong’s skill withe driller.  Most politicians she knew claimed to be men of labour to get votes but really couldn’t do much but talk. Chong was proving his stories about mining weren’t just stories.
The question of what to do once they got below Narang was still an open one.  Chong was for just drilling through the surface but Hashimoto warned him what might happen if Cana found the President of the UMC drilling up through the middle of their colony.  The current plan was to drill close to the durface, then use a minidrill head to open up a small porthole.  That was Malinao’s job. She would man the minidrill and check the surface.  Nobody in Cana was liable to recognise her.
“OK, we’re here,” Chong yeleld after another twenty minutes of drilling.
“Check.  He’s right above us.  You ready Speaker?”
Malinao nodded and set off to climb into the minidrill.
She maneuvered it out from the side of the main drill and followed the cavern up close to the drill point.
“Within range,” she broadcast to the drill.
Chong moved the main drill back enough to give her room to slip in. She bore it straight up through the rock until proximity sensors warned her she was near the surface. She gave the controls a tight turn opening a neat circular hole in the ground above her and turning the minidrill on it’s side perfectly aligned to allow her to crawl out of the cockpit and up through the opening.
Chong whistled through her speakers. “Nice bit of driving.  Where’d you learn to do that?”
“Charm school,” she answered back. The fact was she had never driven a minidrill before  but she had driven rock busters once in california, and found the very similar. Her Uncle, Tito Jun, had a strip quarry and she spent a summer busting rocks for school money.
Malinao came out in a side street which was a relief.  They were trying to pick somewhere unobtrusive, but you nbever know if your math is good until you see it in real life. Malinao climbed on up through the ground and pavement.
“Close the grill,” she broadcast back.”
The driller had a large grill behind it that could be closed to effectively shut ooff the tunnel it had made on its way in. This prevented the air from the colony leaking out through the tunnel they made.  Not only would this give them away but it might kill a few people too. Malinao felt the slight breeze going past her into the hole suddenly die.
Chong’s voice whispered in her ear. “Grill’s closed. Narang’s Quantum Dot is registering 4 meters behind you and two meters to the left. Be careful, just reconnaisance.”
Malinao signaled her assent, and walked back down the alley towards the location of the dot. She was getting it on her reader now as well. There was door in the alleyway that seemed to lead right to the dot. She listened at the door but heard nothing. So she carefully began to open it. She slipped inside and saw only darkness.  There was a large empty room.  She heard nobody around her. She risked whispering to Chong.
“I’m reading a meter away but I’m in a dark room and there’s nobody here.”
“Shhhhh.” admonished Chong. “They might be there but hiding from you.”
“I’m going to try some light.”
No Malinao, it’s too risky.”
But Malinao had already triggered the light.
She looked around into emptiness. Not a soul or even much of anything was in the room.
“There’s nothing here,” she said back to Chong.
“What do you see?”
“Well there has to be something, we’re getting Narang’s dot transmission.”
She caught her breath as she looked down.
“I think I foud the source of the transmission.”
“What is it?  Is Narang there. Get out Malinao!”
“No it’s not Narang.  Well not all of him anyway.
She looked down at a severed arm she only could assume was Minister Narang’s.

: 12:06 pm: UMC

“How could you?” spat out Ford.
“Very easy brother.  I’m the leader of Britain.  As Mr. Chong here has discovered, when you’re the leader of a great power, you can do many things.”
“But you warred against the Fundys!”
“Oh yes, I warred against Touareg and all his religious nonsense. But this cloning thing caught my eye.  It really did. And the Fundys who had stayed loyal to Patel were much less extreme than Toureg’s men.  Much mor ethe pragmatists. Well can’t you see? Cana was willing to cooperate with a less extreme Fundy group.  I was very interetsed in scientific technology that the rest of the world was too frightened of to pursue. My only block was the UMC army.  AS long asthey were involved things were difficult. I can influence all the other armies rather easily, I must say, but not yours Chong, not yours. I tried diplomacy but you were too stubborn for that. So then I tried manipulating my brother. We’d had him under observation and cloned him already. But as I see, that backfired a bit too. Now what to do Chong?  What to do, what to do? You’re here and you know my secret.  I need you to withdraw the UMC troops from Earth and your Vice President has proved to be far more competent than either of us expected. It doesn’ look good for you Chong.  I can’t let you go–”
Suddenly the train stopped and the lights went out.
“Power outage,” muttered Ford.
Nothing but the dim white light of the sun unfiltered by an atmoisphere illuminated the cabin.
“Don’t move,” Narang commanded sounding a bit shrill. “We’re in Cana territory and you wouldn’t get far before the power came back on and we took you back.”
A distant rumbling filled the tube, as if another train were approaching from the Tranquility side.
“There shouldn’t be any trains coming if the power’s out,” stated Chong.
“Shut up,” barked Narang. “Carlos, take out the driver.  You can drive this, no?”
Carlos nodded and moved towards the front.
“See this was an honest to goodness rescue train.  The only way I could get out here to you poor poor people.  But now we have complications. Everyone into the fromt car.”
The rescue train was really two cars but with the divider doors between them removed and widened to give extra space. Narang waved them all into the front part of the train. He ordered Benito to uncouple the back half of the car, then moved into that half himself.  All the time the rumbling had increased and soft glow began to come from the direction of Tranquility. Finally they heard a self-propelled train engine shut off and troops begin walking towards the rescue car.
“Rescue car are you in need of assistance?” shouted someone through a megaphone.
“Over here!” yelled Narang and opened one of the side doors in the back train car then scooted forward.
Hashimoto came striding up into the rescue car flanked by UMC guards. Narang had his siguise back on and stood at the edge of the first car, right behind where he had uncoupled it.
“Now Carlos!” he shouted.
Decoupling bolts fired and the rescue train began to move away. With a bit of luck for Narang, suddenly the power returned and the train began to pick up speed. Chong realized his plan had been to use the xplosive decoupling to buil momentum and then fire other bolts to keep them moving until the power returned.  This plan would have eventually tore the train into bits, but kept them moving.  As it was Cana restored power to their end of the tracks and Narang was going to speed away.
So Chong jumped. He grabbed Malinao and leaped off the platform onto the tracks rolling as he went, taking care not to let Malinao hit the ground as much as possible. He heard shots but couldn’t tell if he’d been hit by one of them, or just the ground. They rolled to a stop against the side of the tube, Chong facing Malinao closer than he’d ever been.
She looked stunned. “I love you.”
Chong froze but wouldn’t have had time to respond anyway, as Hashimoto and the guards approached right then.
“Good to see you Mr. President”
“Thanks Rod.  Rod, I’d like you to meet Speaker Malinao from the USA. Speaker, this is Vice President Hashimoto.”
The exchanged pleasantries and walked back to the self-propelled vehicle that had brough Hashimoto and his troops.
“We got the frequency of your Quantum Dot from Ford.  When he didn’t return we started tracing it.  When it came halfway down the tube and hen turned back, we had a pretty good idea what had happened.”
“So now we need to get back into Cana and get him.”
“Not as easy as it sounds,” Hashimoto replied wiping his brow. “Cana’s been distancing themselves again. They’re saying the war is over and it’s time for us to let them be.  But I think there’s Fundy influence.”
“You’re right,” Chong agreed. “Not exactly Fundy though.  Minister Narang is leading a scientific cloning group of ex-Fundys.  They got kicked out of the Fundys by Touraeg before the ned of the war, and Narang’s taken up their cause.  They’re not as ideologically extreme as the originals except when it comes to cloning.  That is they’re holy grail.”
“narang!  I’m suprised at that.”
“So what do we do?” malinao interjected. “Can’t we inform the Canaan governemnt what happened?  Surely they’d change their minds given the facts.”
“We can try said Hashimoto.  But they pretended not to belive me when I said Chong and you were captured in there.  Just belw it off.  I think they must be farther oin Narang’a pocket than we’d like to beleive.”
“I’ve got it,” Chong said snapping his fingers.
“You do?” Malinao looked skeptical but impressed.
“Rod, can you get me three EVA units and a buggy from Tranquility?”
‘Yes of course, but what are you going to do with them? You can’t drive from Tranquility to Cana in one of those.  It would take days.”
“I don’t intend to drive all the way.  I’ll need a ship to land me outside Cana. Somehwre away from their outlying encampments.”
“I don’t understand,” Malinao shook her head. “What’s he talking about?”
Hashimoto shook his head too.  “I think I know.  Next you’re going to need a nosedriver and a couple detrailers.”
“You got it.”
“A couple what?  What’s going on?” Malinao was confused.  She knew a detrailer was what had blown up in Versailles.  So what was Chong going to blow up. “Are you going to blow something u?”
Chong looked confused then laughed. “No no.  A Detrailer is really meant fro blowing a pathway in a mine. I’m going to use a couple to start a pathway.”
“A pathway where?” she asked.
“Under Cana, right Chong?” Hashimoto answered.
“Exactly.  Right under Narang’s feet.  We’ll track him with the dot.”
“You’re not worried about an international incident?” Malinao smirked.
“Not exactly.  If they want to explain what three or four known Fundys and the British Minister are doing holding my aide and John Ford in captivity in their colony, well, let them.” Chong grinned, something he rarely did.
“well OK, then,” said Malinao flatly. “What can I do to help?”
“Can you dig?” asked Chong.