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Chapter 4 of Mr. Tucker’s novel 2065, which we are serializing, on America after China’s seizure of Pearl Harbor.
(Page 2 of 5)
General Forebender started to respond but the President interrupted. “Let’s hear from someone else on this. What about the Navy?”
Admiral Byron Hickenlooper, Navy Chief of Staff, cracked his knuckles for a moment and leaned forward. “Mizza President,” he began in a clear Southern accent, “The state of the Navy has been one of declining preparedness. We have five aircraft carriers in our half of the Pacific but three are in dry dock in San Diego. We estimate they will not be able to return to action for at least three months.”
“Yes, I realize that but I want to know is how was this fleet able to enter the harbor without anyone knowing?” said the President curtly.
The Admiral ran his hand over his forehead and started again. “Mizza President, since we ceded the Western half of the Pacific to China in 2035 we have had incomplete knowledge of anything they are doing. We know the size of their fleet but have not always kept abreast of their technology. They seem to have developed ways of disguising their movements. Our satellite system can track surface ships but we are not always able to locate their submarines. We have not sailed a vessel west of Guam in fifteen years so we have very little knowledge of what is going on in their territorial waters. We knew they had maneuvers in the vicinity of Hawaii over the past week but we did not expect anything like this. They seem to have been able to hack our satellite system overnight in order to bring those vessels in without our knowledge.”
“Weren’t there any mines in the harbor?” spoke up Warren Doyle, the Secretary of Commerce, a former Midwestern governor new to Washington.
“They were removed in the 2042 as a gesture of peace,” said the Admiral glumly.
At that moment a nervous aide entered the room. “Mizza President, excuse me. Our polls now show 68 percent of the public now believes that the invasion is a fake,” he said. “It’s climbing.”
“Alright, thank you,” said the President and the aide vanished. “Ask them why they think it’s not real,” s/he called after. Instant polling had become an essential tool in the White House and the government often paid thousands of people to be on call at any moment.
Again there was a moment of profound silence.
“Gentlemen and ladies,” said President Armageddon forcefully. “I know many of you are thinking. I know what people around the world are thinking. They doubt my capabilities. They are saying that I am unprepared to fill the responsibilities of this office and that a foreign power has taken advantage of a new President before he or she had the chance to get his or her feet on the ground. Well, let me tell you that this is not what is going to happen. We are going to respond to this emergency with appropriate measures. Now does anyone have any recommendations?”
“Mizza President,” spoke up Frank Buzzworth, the Secretary of the Air Force. A handsome, athletic figure in his late 40s, he had been on an unsuccessful attempt to reach Mars in 2052 and had enormous prestige across the country. “Even if we were at full strength, I doubt we would be able to dislodge the invading force at this time. We are not fully acquainted with their technology and so there are certain risks involved. But we do have submarine capability and with our nuclear strength we have enough firepower to dislodge the intruders while protecting ourselves from retaliation. In short, we are prepared to go to war.”
At that moment the aide interrupted again. “Mizza President, the prevailing belief in the Midwest is that this is a government plot to curtail civil liberties. On the East and West Coasts they think it’s a movie trailer.”
“Alright, thank you again,” said the President.
“Mizza President,” said Genevieve Ambrose, the Secretary of Gender. She was a tall, scholarly woman whose pale and solemn demeanor spoke of hours and hours in university libraries. “I would like to take great exception to what has just been said by the Secretary of the Air Force. I think what we’re hearing in the typical male response that has led us into all wars throughout history. That is just what we want to avoid. This is not necessarily an act of war. I think the Chinese are making a gesture and we should respond. There may be other ways of settling our differences.”
“Does that mean we play scissors, rock, paper to see who gets to keep Hawaii?” asked Clyde Wadsworth, the Secretary of Transportation. He was a Navy veteran himself.
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