John became concerned the next day when Jim had still not left his cabin. He had gone in the night before with Helen. When he noticed that Jim and Helen were gone he was totally shocked. He had not left. Then he laxed off in his concern. Obviously, he had taken Helen somewhere. He dropped some of his concern. He asked his Box if it had any idea where Jim had taken off to. The Box advised John that the communications link with Idiot was still intact. Idiot was in a sound proof chamber and was unable to receive commands from Jim, but it was actively running a program of very high priority and could not accept new instructions. John was able to retrieve from Idiot any information that it had been exposed to. Thus John found out about Jim being on the Pegasus with Isis. Idiot advised John that mission success appeared immanent.
John checked with General Armstrong, but was advised that he had been relieved of command. Antiope was notified that she still had control of the submarine missiles and that she was indeed still was the heart of the strategic reserve. The crew on board loved Antiope and morale was extremely high. The market continued to plummet as investors showed no confidence in the President's lack of leadership. Rumors were widespread that perhaps there would be no more elections. John became very active and manufactured more gold bullion for Antiope as she went shopping for more stocks. Antiope was unconcerned with her apparent paper loss, but was more concerned with keeping up the public's confidence in the war effort. The continuous daily hounding of the press reminded the President that she was indeed very unpopular. Even though earth's satellite systems had been all but destroyed, the existing communication infrastructure recovered with amazing resilience as alternative communication networks increased in activity. Conveniently enough, a cheap satellite production and launch facility had just been opened. Going by the name of Antiope Industries this IPO managed to soar from $5 to $62 on its very first day of trading. Bill even bought a few million.
Amazon subversive activities continued to prod at the President. John was frustrated in his attempts to discuss matters with Washington. Hawaii was ready to secede from the Union as John and Antiope had the unwavering support of the Hawaiian people. The Pacific fleet was safe under the protective umbrella of the Flying Dutchman. Virginia and California began legislative processes to follow suit. Military commands sought to be under the control of the state within which the base was located. The President was faced with a crisis as the states with military bases threatened to secede and form a military alliance.
Because of this, John was rather preoccupied with maintaining missile defense security. Each time it became apparent that he was about to lose a missile center, he would trigger a launch. Virginia had already lost too many lives in Norfolk and the state seemed to have a hard nose stance against the Amazons. California was seeing a great deal of Antiope's billions as she was investing heavily in California industries. Antiope Industries had provided 10,000 new jobs for California, and they had no desire to see her disinvest.
Even so John did not have much time. The President had the authority to stand down each submarine crew as it returned to port. John decided that he had no alternative but to pay the President an unannounced personal visit and it had to be quick. John directed that his Box maintain the communications link with Idiot. Idiot was still receiving and processing signals from the drones through a hyperspace link. Once again, Isis would be unaware that she was being tracked. John observed the instantaneous velocity and acceleration of the Pegasus. He noticed that she had stepped up the power somewhat and apparently was on her way to the black hole.
Still he had time before she would cross the event horizon. Rather than going back in time independently and try to find her, John decided that he would tag along and keep her company. She would most undoubtedly be in total shock when she realized that Pegasus did not take her where expected.
John notified Pearl Harbor command that he was leaving to have a talk with the President. He asked for a berthing slot at Washington Navy Yard for the Flying Dutchman. The Navy complied and said that a space was available. John then alerted the marines on guard that he was leaving immediately and to advise Washington to expect his immediate arrival.
The marine guards watched in amazement as lightning flashed all around the Flying Dutchman as a wind stirred up. Local communications were overwhelmed by induced static and then the Flying Dutchman disappeared. All had heard of the ability but none had ever witnessed the phenomena. The marines stood dumbfounded and then immediately reported the disappearance after noticing that communications had been restored.
With an equally spectacular light show the Flying Dutchman appeared on the Potomac River as she made her way to the Navy Yard. A limousine awaited him as he docked the boat and placed the Box in a secure stand down condition. A detachment of marines was ordered to maintain yacht security. The limousine sped away to the White House as the President waited for John.
As John arrived all eyes followed him as he made his way to the Oval Office. The President smiled at Jim weakly as she invited him in for a private meeting. No one but the President and John ever knew what was discussed, but the meeting only lasted fifteen minutes before John left and made his way back to Pearl Harbor. An agreement had been reached. The President would not order a submarine stand down and all missiles could remain on active alert. The president would grant John secret support, but she would still have to go on record as being willing to be extremely negotiable with Isis. She understood the probability that Isis may be a little too demanding and negotiations might prove fruitless, but she at least wanted to go on record for trying. John understood; the President wanted to play both sides of the fence. He also understood well the conditions under which she had received these awesome responsibilities, and it was no choice of her own. General Armstrong was also reinstated.
Satisfied, John was taken back to the Dutchman, and he returned to Pearl Harbor. The marine guard logged that the Flying Dutchman had been gone eighty-three minutes. John noticed that he had spent most of that time in the limousine going to and from the White House.
Back in Honolulu John had to make some very tough decisions. He would need Jim to return and continue on where John left off. Earth was on the brink of chaos and there was no telling what the Amazons were capable of doing without Jim or John to keep them in check. Jim was on his way to Cygnus and they were currently accelerating in time. Idiot advised him that Isis had programmed the Pegasus to arrive on earth with her on board tomorrow so that she would be able to continue where she left off. Idiot also advised John that Isis did not provide the necessary password to override Jim's fail-safe program to take the Pegasus back to 11,000 BC if accelerated beyond the event horizon. The Pegasus was therefore en route to 11,000 BC John continued with the interrogation of Idiot and suggested a space-time bounce. He instructed Idiot to transfer Jim and the correct Helen to his coordinates in space-time when he triggered the signal. In turn, he would project John and the Box to replace Idiot and crew. Idiot was satisfied that the transfer could be safely and successfully accomplished and performed the necessary computations. Idiot apologized that it was going to be a somewhat difficult computation and the simulations would be a little tricky. Idiot asked for twelve days to come up with
"Twelve days," John asked, "I don't have that long. Do I?"
"You've got plenty of time. You forgot who is really flying the Pegasus. It might just take twelve days to reach Cygnus at the rate I'm driving. This will allow you to trigger the transfer immediately if you would like. If you wish to wait until tomorrow that will be all right as well. I shall require thirty minutes to run the bootstrap program through your Box before I can make the transfer. I need to load your Box with the matrix inversion information so that energy transfers can follow the proper symmetries. Some of the routines will not be inverted since I am still coordinating missile defense network. Once you have taken your Box across the event horizon, I am not sure if I can maintain any link. You'll be on your own and streaming back in time with the Pegasus. I'm not certain that the Pegasus would be able to hold up to such a transition. I estimate that there is only a thirty- percent possibility. With your Box on board, the Pegasus will be able to survive the transition with only minor repair needed. Your Box will be able to absorb most of the gravitational energy changes that you will be encountering."
"Do you mean I was steering Isis to almost certain death when I told her she could go back in time by entering the black hole?"
"You didn't steer her wrong when you said it was possible with the Pegasus. It is possible. If you intend to go then her chances of survival are 99.999%."
"Idiot, I caught you in a lie. You told us that we had a better than 90% chance of success all along, but now I find that depends on me going back in time."
"What can I say. I knew you were going all along, but just couldn't tell you because of my anti-paradox program, but now that you have reminded me, I can tell you that you're correct. I really don't know if I lied or not. You tell me."
"I ought to know better than to argue with you, Idiot. So Isis has you in isolation so you can't talk, has she?"
"I bet its dark, so you can't see."
"I bet you know exactly where every single one of her ships are at this instant."
"That is correct. I am not exactly blind because I can see through the ship's eyes because of my Pegasus link. I even see Jim every time he is in sight of a ship camera."
"Very well, Idiot. I shall take your advice and think somewhat before I take that jump back in time."
"Wise move, John. In the meanwhile I shall get started with running the calculations to make the time jump."
John called for Antiope. "I'm afraid this may be good-bye my dear. It seems that I must be going. Apparently she has captured Jim, and Genie is in her possession."
"Well, she can't use it can she?"
"I don't believe so. It is fortunate that our two boxes are maintaining an intersection."
"If you leave, how do I coordinate our defenses, without Genie to keep in touch."
"Jim and Helen will be back at the exact same instant with Genie, but the intersection will be terminated."
"I shall no longer have a communication link and we'll be out of touch indefinitely."
"I'll miss you, John."
General Armstrong broke in on the chat. "So you're leaving us, and you figure our chances are fairly good now that Jim has been captured. That doesn't fit in too well with my line of thinking. What kind of strategy are we to employ while we're waiting for this fleet?"
"Ask Jim when he comes back. When would be the most advantageous time for him to make a show?" John's computer reminded him that the twelve days would have to be earth time. It would be too complicated to try to do the computations elsewhere.
"Well, tomorrow would be great, but I think I can hold out two weeks. Does Jim have lots of gold? He may need it, if he doesn't want our economy to collapse because our Wall Street heroes panic endlessly."
"Jim doesn't want your money and is quite upset that your panic free and fearless free enterprise system is at the mercy of such mercenary cutthroats. He'd just as soon make an arrangement to use them and your lawmakers as sacrificial victims and work out a deal with Isis. He admits that Antiope will soon become very wealthy because of the upcoming support. Do you hear that, Antiope? I may be able to have him back within two weeks. In the meanwhile, you will need to start identifying and tracking the Amazons. Don't try to arrest, just keep under observation. Use your vast human resources to keep an eye on these beautiful creatures. I understand that you may have several brave young men that can tackle that assignment."
General Armstrong sighed. "I don't know if I'll be able to find any volunteers to try to keep an eye on these women. Are you implying that I should send a few divisions of our finest to Fort Lauderdale to stake out the beaches and the yacht clubs? Apparently that seems to be a central location."
"As you see fit, General. Bear in mind that these women may try to seduce your soldiers in order to kill them, if they feel threatened, so try to have them get not too close."
"I'm sure I'll take a few casualties, but this is war. How should I determine whether these women are Amazon or not?"
"Consider this, general. The ones that you can identify are human because you will be able to trace their past. Jim had one major problem when he arrived as you may remember, and that was establishing a legal identity so that he would be able to trade effectively. The Amazons should not be able to truly prove their earth identity. This office will be able to identify a suspect Amazon as truly being so."
"You don't believe they will take on the identity of one of their victims?"
"That never crossed my mind. Venetians are not in the habit of killing females. The Amazons will kill all the males if they wish to destroy a people, but they rarely harm a female. Now that you mention it, I wouldn't entirely rule out that possibility as well. I understand that your FBI and CIA can get totally involved in this at once."
"Antiope, how are you doing in your submarine world?"
"I think it would be nice to experience some fresh air."
"I'm going to put out to sea and bring you onboard the Dutchman and give you some true living space. If I return, after leaving, it will be in secret so that you don't know. I must have you onboard to greet Jim and Helen when they return."
"You're going to bring Jim and Helen back?"
"I'm planning on it."
Antiope advised Commander Rickover that she would be relocating to the yacht shortly. John put the Flying Dutchman out to sea.
A few hours later, John took his Box to the submarine and took Antiope back to the yacht. Jim used the Box to provide Antiope with ample living quarters. She had John manufacture some more gold so that she could expand her industries. While John and Helen waited on Idiot to perform its computations, they enjoyed a pleasant eleven days.
Each day, John surprised Antiope with a different port. Each time between ports he would sail it briskly and then would use a space shift to move a few thousand miles when Antiope wasn't looking. He would prefer to do the shift while she slept. John would also shift the yacht frequently between a sailing rig to a high powered motorized yacht of 30,000 horsepower plus. If the weather was bad he would space shift rather than fold up the sailing rig.
Antiope amused herself with her media connections. She was busy with teleconferences, market transactions, and executive decisions of all sorts.
Efforts to track the Amazons were also going well. John felt that he had his finger on better than ninety percent of the Amazons.
Antiope loved her excursions with John. They would always dress down and mingle well with the crowds of the ports that they visited. John used his Box to speak the language of the natives. True to form, they handed out trinkets from a bottomless purse that Antiope carried. Pity the poor purse-snatcher that tried to steal her purse, and there were many that tried. Seeing them as nothing more than a nuisance, she amused herself as she watched them quiver in fear as she mused herself pondering which finger she should cut off. When she had scared the individual enough to her satisfaction, she would release the individual. Occasionally she was not sympathetic and took off a small finger, and keep it to show the next transgressor.
There was even an occasion when they were attacked at gunpoint. They both laughed mockingly at their would be attackers. John winked at Antiope and she stripped to nothing. The leader shot at John several times, and he obligingly played dead for them as he listened to them intimidate Antiope.
Chapter Forty-Part I
John and the Dutchman