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They drove to the site of the Stargate. The vehicle looked like an ordinary troop transport, a lorry with a tray that had canvas sides and roof. However the canvas concealed armored walls, and the seats weren’t the ordinary benches. There was seating for six, round a table, and the walls were like the helicopter walls. They showed, clear as, what was outside.
Gunny and Corporal Afa accompanied them in the command vehicle. Four soldiers sat near the tailgate, weapons ready. There was another armed soldier up front with the driver. They were not alone. The other vehicle, a Humvee, went first.
“Citizen Lieutenant, the men are keen to meet you. They have all seen the video. I suggest a TARDIS at your convenience.”
‘A TARDIS, Gunny?’
“Troop Action Readiness Display Incorporating Simulations, Sir”
“We have organized one for oh nine hundred hours, if that is suitable Lieutenant.”
‘Sounds good.’ For a second there Sandy had thought he was in charge, making a decision. But, nah, it was all Gunny.
“Corporal Afa will inform the commanders of Bravo and Charlie troops.”
‘This TARDIS, it will take how long, Gunny?’
“Two hours, maybe two and a half, Sir.”
‘Excellent. This arvo I suppose we will listen to the Senator’s speech. You are invited to that, eh Gunny?’
“Yes Lieutenant, I am”
‘The Senator said something about taking 1RR to New Ziland. Do you know anything more about that?’
It turned out that Gunny did.
‘Do you know where New Ziland is?’
“Sandy, you a fool. Dunno how you tinned the top job. New Ziland is next to Australia. It’s where the Warriors come from.”
Yeah, course it was. Nellie had that right. Rugby league, the NRL, the Warriors. Mostly ordinary. Good players, below average team, and they had a habit of knocking off ten minutes before the end of each half.
Their truck stopped at Central Park. A football field sized area had been roped off. Inside that were what looked like two oversized soccer goals, side by side with a gap of perhaps ten meters between them. Above one of the goals or gates was a big screen showing the time. 0555. Outside the roped off area was a line of trucks loaded with machinery and other equipment. Off to one side was a stage. On it, Sandy could see the Senator and Luke and about a dozen reporters and cameras.
‘Corporal, can you patch us into the feeds?’
“Stage be on channel 1, technicians and scientists is on channel 2, Sir.”
On channel one, the Senator was being questioned about the overnight attack. It sounded like an interview.
“Senator, we have been shown the video feeds from your command center, and we have seen the bodies. Your response was brutal. You could have immobilized the helicopters and the motor vehicles well before they reached the reservation. You didn’t have to kill. There are one thousand and twenty-one dead federal officers, pilots, and drivers who did not have to die. I have seen video of nineteen officers killed after they had surrendered.”
“Uso Dex does not take prisoners.”
“But those whom you killed were only following orders. They were doing their duty.”
“Does doing your duty mean leaving your morality at home?”
“Those federal officers were acting morally. They were obeying lawful orders.”
“The Nuremberg defence? Don’t be silly. Those officers would have killed HAL, the Gooch and the Choo on sight. They were killed on sight by HAL, Gooch and Choo. How can you complain? They had done unto them as they were planning to do unto others.”
“Come on Senator, those federal officers weren’t killed by monkeys. We’ve seen the tapes. They were killed by men in uniform.”
“Those were Gooch and Choo. Men but not hu-men. You will meet some of them later today.”
The reporter looked confused. Sandy heard Luke’s voice.
“Excellent interview, Julie. I have sent it to your studio. If they don’t broadcast it, we will do so for them.”
“Ladies and gentleman, if you would like to face the middle of the park, our scientists are about to open the Stargate. Anything you record from now on, you will not be able to broadcast to your studios until after my speech this afternoon. One of the things I will be telling the world in my speech this afternoon is that we are leaving this planet. We call our mechanism the Stargate.”
The space under the goalposts seemed to shimmer, and the first vehicle approached. As it drove under the goalpost, its front end, and then the whole vehicle vanished. It seemed as if all the reporters were talking at once.
“If you would wait a moment, I need that vehicle to return, before we can really say the Stargate is open.”
The second goal remained empty. All was silent. Then the front bumper, the bonnet, and finally the vehicle appeared. The passenger door opened, and an arm punched the air, starting a bout of cheering from the assembled scientists. The line of vehicles began moving toward the goal, disappearing as they passed under.
“Well, I’m going for a walk under that goal. Who’s coming with me?”
The reporters and their cameramen looked nervously at each other, but all of them followed the Senator as he left the stage, and walked toward the Stargate.
‘Can we take our vehicle through Gunny?’
Citizen Master Gunnery Sergeant Shane looked at Afa, who tapped his monitor.
“At yours leisure Founder. If we just circles round behind the stage, they makes way for us.”
They approached the goal. ‘What do you think fellas?’
“This is O for awesome, man.”
Sandy liked that phrase. A world champion boxer had said it years ago when buying a vowel on some television game show. There was a moment of weirdness as he passed under the goal. Not something Sandy had words for. Then they were on the other side.
Shane directed their driver to circle around the area of the gates. The first trucks through contained soldiers and weapons. A defensive perimeter was being established.
Corporal Afa spoke. “An area, one kilometers square is being established around the Stargate. In four hours the first Gooch and Choo will come through the gate, and construction will begins using kit-sets.”
They stopped near a hill, and walked to the top. Sandy noticed Nellie had his arm around Jane. Gunny looked at him, and he shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t mind public displays of affection as long as they weren’t over the top. Mind you, this was not like Nellie. Not like Nellie at all.
“We aint in Texas no more.”
Nellie was right. It was dawn, kind of, here too. But there were two suns. They wandered around for a while, with Gunny Shane becoming increasingly unhappy. But it was real interesting. There were plants, but nothing Sandy recognized. There were animal tracks, but he didn’t see any birds.
Sandy could see forests from their hill. The trees looked like conifers, not that Sandy was an expert. There were a lot of ferns. No flowers. No birds. He couldn’t see any ocean from here. That was a bit strange. Most of the animals would be in the ocean. Maybe it wasn’t that strange. Maybe Gooch and Choo preferred to live in forests and eat plants, not on the coast fishing or digging for their dinner.
Sandy knew a bit about this stuff. Trees appeared on Earth about four hundred million years ago. Flowering plants and birds about two hundred million years ago. So, if this New World was at a similar stage to Earth about three hundred million years ago, there would be reptiles but no mammals yet. It might be too early for large dinosaurs. A good choice of time. Of course, that assumed that evolution had proceeded on at least a roughly similar path here.
‘Citizen Corporal Afa, any idea where these plants came from?’
“Founder Red is seeding life on this world, Founder.”
‘But, this universe is only five years old.’
“Ways above my pay grade, Founder. It says here that Founder Red is seeding this planet with something like the common ancestor of plants and animals around eight hundred million years ago. Guess you is going to have to ask him, or Founder Dick.”
Best not to think about that too much. Sandy agreed with Nellie science on this. Humans only had so many heartbeats until their hearts stopped, and could only do so much thinking before their brains gave up. That’s why scientists were mad as often as not. He checked his watch. They had been here for fifty minutes.
‘Time to leave. OK by you, Gunny?’
Sandy knew Gunny thought they had spent too long here. But he wasn’t planning on coming back, so an hour or so didn’t seem too long.
Now that was strange. The time on the clock by the Stargate was not the same as the time on his watch. He was about to ask, when Gunny said “Time on the New World passes at a different rate to time here. It is about one and a half times faster there.”
Yep, that was strange.
Half an hour later they were seated in Sandy’s dining room, and a steward had brought in some juice and snacks. This never happened when he was at school.
‘Well fellas what do you think?’
“This is pretty buzzy stuff, you know, eh?” Jane.
‘Yeah. Corporal, what does the rest of the world think about the Senator’s speech?’
“A lot of talks, Lieutenant. There is a lot of negative stuff about us Choos and the Gooch. The pictures they is publishing to guess what we look like is being pretty insulting. They is thinking humanzees – hairy, backward sloping foreheads, muzzles, arms down to our knees. The overwhelming view bes that we shouldn’t have been created. Most of the commentators believes we should be destroyed, but quite a few of those who believes we shouldn’t have been created also says that we exists now and may well be having a right to life if wes be intelligent.
Any number of rednecks is planning hunting trips to the reservation. A few stuffed human heads should bes hanging in the RDF barracks before the end of the week.
President Trump’s speech is not going down at all well with Muslims. They is not seeing where he gets off saying that we is an abomination in the eyes of Allah. That is for the imam to decide, not him.
The surprising thing is being the response to the Senator’s application for membership of the United Nations. The United Kingdom is said that if Uso Dex survives the next few days, the matter should bes considered by the United Nations. Europe is being silent. Russia and China is supporting us. Africa is very supportive. Australia, along with all the other Pacific nations except New Ziland, is declared its support for the Senator. At the moment that’s being majority support for us in the United Nations.”
‘Thanks for that Corporal. So I guess the Senator is good at that diplomacy stuff then. Are there any parts of the world where 1RR might be required? Where our people are at risk?’
“HAL bes monitoring the communication channels. There is being a lot of chatter within various governments about Uso Dex but nothing that raises flags, except that there is being something hinky occurring in New Ziland.”
‘With the Gooch there?’
“Abel Gooch, the son of Citizen Adam Gooch is being in police custody. HAL is being looking into it, and is waits to brief you, Founder.”
‘HAL, wassup man?’ It was easy to talk to HAL. There were screens and monitors all over the place.
“Citizen Lieutenant, pleased to hear from you. New Ziland is five hours behind us but one day ahead, so it is oh three hundred tomorrow over there at present. Abel Gooch left home at oh six thirty New Ziland time. He was driving to school where he was to go on a four day camp, something called a geology field trip. He was stopped by a police patrol about one kilometer from his school and taken into custody. I know this because all police communications are recorded and their voice encryption software is one developed by Uso Dex.
From his biochip we know he was taken to their central police station and is still there awaiting transfer to a young person’s secure residential care facility. He has not yet been arrested, and his father does not know he is not at the school camp.
The officer in charge is Detective Inspector Bruce Bacon, previously found by a commission of inquiry to have planted evidence at a murder scene, with that evidence being crucial to a later conviction. His nickname is the gardener, as he plants evidence so often. I tell you this because according to notes entered into the police computer system, a large quantity of methamphetamine was found in Abel’s car.
The arresting officer, Detective Sergeant Tom Trobow spent some time after work in the police bar. His mobile phone was turned on and I was able to use it to record his conversation. He bought the evidence locker sergeant a number of drinks and promised to return the methamphetamine in a few days. It seems that Abel was supposed to be arrested, with his father, at oh six thirty tomorrow their time, but plans had to be changed because of the school field trip.”
‘So Citizen Adam Gooch is to be arrested in, what, about twenty-seven hours from now?’
“That is correct, Citizen Lieutenant.”
‘I don’t think we want that to happen. Any idea why Mr Adam Gooch is to be arrested?’
“None at all. I will continue monitoring.”
‘Thank you HAL. Gunny, what do you think?’
“Sir, we cannot rescue Mr Adam Gooch against his will, he is a citizen, but we can be in a position to rescue him when he asks, if he asks. We would need to assemble at the airfield at twenty-one hundred hours for departure twenty-two thirty or thereabouts. As the Senator suggested, we can take the plane with him”
‘Let’s do that, eh, Gunny.’
“Ontos it, Gunny. Founder Red and the Senator is being heading to New Ziland in the Dreamliner. I will sorts that out. Full combat readiness?”
“New Ziland? Are we going to New Ziland?” Jane had been paying attention.
“They gotta league team. The Warriors.” Nellie knew his countries better than Sandy did, but he’d already said this once. He had this habit, it could get a bit annoying, of saying things over and over until he was sure Sandy understood, when he reckoned Sandy was being dumb, which was a lot.
“Excellent. Ord-studies field trip.”
Nellie shot a disgusted look at Jane.
“We finished with school, girl. Hey, what happened with the prisoners last night?”
‘What you on about Nellie?’
“Well, that Senator fella, he said we don’t take no prisoners. But Sandy you said three of those fellas that blew his door down were captured. So what happened?”
‘Corporal, do you know?’
“Three invaders is captured by the Gooch, Lieutenant. One is survived questioning. He is been returned to the ords in a body bag with all those who died in the raid. That should gives someone a surprise soon enough!”
“Ha. That’s funny. Yeah. But still, we did take a prisoner?”
‘Yep, Nellie, we did take a prisoner. What did we find out?’
“The raid bes organized by Homeland Security.”
“Hey, how come two of them died during questioning? Did we shoot them?” There was no sidetracking Nellie.
“No. The Gooch is just grabbing a joint, like a wrist or an elbow, and squeezing. Pretty simple really. Nothing is like broken bones grating on each other to be getting tongues wagging.”
“Nah, corp, that wouldna kill them.”
“If you must know, recruit, here’s how I would do it. Pick the strongest of the three. Slap him a few times. Then rip his head off. Make sure the one you have targeted, the middle chap, gets a fair covering of blood. It is best if he vomits. Then the weakest one, just put one thumb in each temple, and push, until you are through the bone. The skin should break, and there should be brain to see. The third man will talk then, after just a few broken bones.”
“Cool. Yeah Gunny, that’s a good way. I reckon I’d be a good in-tear-a-gate-or.”
Sandy thought that Gunny was joking. Maybe. Hard to be sure with Gunny.