CHAPTER NAVIGATION BAR
TALES OF BUFFALO COMMONS
" MOBILIZATION "
Topper bolted upright in his seat, thankful he was wearing the headpiece rather than doing this by speaker phone. Being called ‘baby’ was disturbing at the best of times, twice as much when the source was Coombs.* * *
“Good. Good. Been thinking about you. Today was your first day back right?”
“You know I can’t talk about that.” Coombs wondered how the call was being routed to her. Probably through one of their corporate fronts unless they found a way to tap directly into the America phone grid then it could be from anywhere.
“Oh right, forgot, big time sensitive stuff. No worries.” Topper grimaced, ‘no worries’ wasn’t an Americanism, he was deviating from his phone legend. “You gonna get out here for Bev’s birthday?”
Bev’s birthday didn’t mean anything to Coombs so Topper must just be making small talk. “I doubt it. I’ve been off a long time and I’m looking forward to some normalness for a bit.”
It wasn’t true, Coombs didn’t even know who Bev was but the idea of going to a party of any variety was teasingly welcome at this point.
The chatter continued a bit longer, Coombs/Mary didn’t say the extract phrase and Topper didn’t reveal anything. The call closed off without incident a minute later and with the hang up came her frown as silence descended back on the room.
Life of a spy, Coombs thought, wasn’t as exciting as they made in the Televids.
* * *
Deep in the sub-basement of the White House, past a row of pipes that once carried hot water to Franklin D Roosevelt, President Victor John Warez passed a row of U.S. Marines heading for a room that was moved around this floor every 40 years or so while the upgrades were installed.
That hadn’t happened in almost a century because the technologies available to the United States of America hadn’t changed enough to require a full-scale overhaul, so, like so much else in the Nation, the Situation Room was patched and retro-fitted to accommodate what little change had happened in their now stagnant culture.
But despite the policy changes that made open dialogue so difficult everywhere else in the Nation one thing that hadn’t changed was that the Situation Room was sound proof and without recording devices, making it the only place in the whole Country where frank discussion could occur on the really important matters of State, specifically the planned invasion of Buffalo Commons.
“Alright Gentlemen,” Began the President despite the presence of three women, “Let’s see what you’ve got for me.”
General Sam Amulston stepped forward first, “Before we can, sir. We need to know what the political aims of this mission are.”
Warez stopped cold, flatly he replied, “Victory.”
Hoping to help clarify the matter the Joint Chief, Admiral Gerard Karambelas stepped in, “Mister President, political victory may be anything from slowing Network occupation of Buffalo Commons down to keeping the Network out of the Commons at all cost.”
A few blinks, and a nod or two later Warez had to concede that was an accurate assessment, certainly any student of history would have plenty of examples, even limited to American history, where this was true.
“What would the middle option be?” With that, the President of the United States of America took his seat at the head of the Situation Room table.
General Amulston turned and with a click of his thumb the display wall behind him lit up laying out a large map of Buffalo Commons and its immediately surrounding territory.
“Mister President, the recommended action is that we continue to move our troops into positions at strategic points along the eastern border of the Commons.”
A sprinkling of Red dots existed on the Buffalo Commons side while waves of Blue dots flooded into four points on the east side of the border, what the Network recognized as the United States.
Warez wasn’t sure how he felt about American forces appearing Blue, it wasn’t the colour of his Party, and his Party was the Nation. Unfortunately the choice of colours made by the Joint Chiefs caused a portion of his mind to begin thinking about this politically, and in the political field this action was filled with risk.
* * *
It had been three months since the Calgary Committee had last met, a fact not lost on Pamela Newhaven as she entered the snug, quiet little room, “Last time we gathered our collective stocks took a beating on the market while speculators fueled merger rumours.”
Tilley looked up and beamed, “Yes, we’re hoping to capitalize on it this time.”
Newhaven Junior, as Pamela was often called in this room, stopped and peered at Benjamin Tilley. If past performance repeated then each stock would dip, becoming a better buy, it would be a golden time to grab a deal on the market, or perhaps an even better time to try and take over someone.
It didn’t affect Rigel Aerospace, the overwhelming majority of the voting and controlling shares were held by the family, although sudden runs on Rigel common stock typically drove up the price, which would inject some always welcome liquidity into their Research and Development cash flow.
Similarly it could provide Rigel with a better hold on competitors and suppliers. She thought of drop texting a Beta Warning to her Number Two but refrained, Pamela would watch what Tilley did and if a desirable pattern emerged then she’d have to keep that in mind for the next meeting.
Ted Stabler, the old goat, shifted uncomfortably in his chair while looking around the room as everyone else settled. He didn’t trust any of these people and wondered how the Calgary Committee had remained in tact all these years considering how little the participants trusted one another. It was good for business, he conceded to himself, that’s why.
Annie Roth-MacKenzie peered around the room as well, one more person was left to arrive and then they could begin. She shrugged, oddly this group probably had more in common than most people but small talk wasn’t going to happen. Few would speak until the entire Quorum was assembled, then the agendas would come out.
The door opened and those already seated turned in expectation then surprise for directly behind Grayson Redbird was the overly cheerful visage of Victoria Wells, “Hello Darlings. Miss me?”
No one had.
* * *
A final image appeared on the large Display wall in the Situation Room of the White House as General Amulston, ever the poor diplomat, concluded his briefing, “While there is nothing we can do to prevent the Network from landing their reinforcements, our belief is these actions will slow down their occupation until we can find a workable diplomatic solution.”
Warez sat back and considered the plan before him, but it didn’t take long to come to a historic conclusion, he stood, made eye contact with each of the assembled and then spoke in a voice normally reserved for fervent campaign stops, “The policy of this Administration is not to stalemate the Network as their concerns are of no interest to us. Our goal is nothing short than the full re-patriation of the Buffalo Commons territory back into the United States of America.”
The President of the United States remained standing while no one responded to his bold statement, finally, quite sure a form of punctuation was required on his new Doctrine, Victor John Warez somehow fell into the phrase he would use to defend this action well into the next election, “Where they belong!” And with that, he sat.
Admiral Karambelas was the first to recover. “Mister President, if this is not an exercise to force diplomatic action then we’re talking about assembling, supplying and the long term support of our own invasion force.”
“No, Admiral, we’re talking about re-constituting the United States of America. We’ll let the Network proceed, slow them down as much as possible, but whatever short term gain they make will be off-set by our long term efforts, I don’t know what to call it, but you can’t invade your own territory.”
* * *