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Chapter 7 of Mr. Tucker novel 2065, now in its fifth week of serialization, on America and China after the latter’s seizure of Pearl Harbor.
The special Air Force jet circled Pearl Harbor twice before landing at the Naval airstrip further inland. Sitting in the front seat, Federer could see what that had brought him here — the supercruiser, two destroyers and two giant troop transports — pieces in an unlikely chess game, their greenish hue differentiating them from the familiar U.S. Navy gray.
“Could you swing around and tilt the plane to the left a little so I can get a better view?” he asked. The pilot, visibly nervous, responded immediately and now Federer could see clearly the remains of the Arizona at the bottom of the harbor, etched perfectly in the crystal-clear waters. Federer’s great-grandfather had been aboard one of those ships. Almost our entire Pacific fleet sunk to the bottom in one morning. Were we now better off or worse? Federer wondered. He would soon find out.
The plane banked again and descended, the steep volcanic escarpments coming into profile along the horizon. There’s nothing like this in China. No wonder they covet the Pearl of the Pacific, thought Federer as his stomach started to churn once more. The “Fasten Seat Belts” beeper came on and their descent took a steeper incline. In a few minutes they were on the ground.
Greeting him at the bottom of the movable stairway was a full honor guard with a red carpet. This always aggravated Federer immensely. Nobody in Washington ever paid any attention to his advice yet when he arrived somewhere there was always an honor guard telling him how important he was. He descended into the dazzling sunshine, his remaining hair whipped by the sea breeze, and shook hands with General Foster Schoonmaker, head of the Pacific Command. Schoonmaker was a big, handsome figure with battle ribbons all over his chest. Federer wondered how he collected them when there hadn’t been a major war for 50 years. As they greeted each other, however, their eyes averted. Federer immediately realized what was happening. For perhaps the first time in American history, two high officials were meeting on what might be called occupied territory. Was this the way the British felt at Yorktown? Federer tried to regain his composure.
“Mr. Ambassador,” said the general, making his own recovery. “Glad you could come.”
“Under the circumstances, I’d say it was entirely appropriate,” said Federer.
“We’re in touch with the White House,” said the General. “They want to talk to you right away. Then we’ve got a PAC command meeting to brief you at 1600.”
“If I could just get a chance to unpack my bags,” said Federer. He had misplaced his heart medicine, although he was sure he packed it somewhere.
“We’ll get you right to quarters,” said the General, taking his elbow and steering him toward a waiting black limousine.
“Can you tell me anything about… ” Federer wasn’t quite sure how to phrase it.
“Our Visitors?” said the General, with a sarcastic smile. It was a nice touch. Maybe they would just pay their respects and move on.
“Yes, our Visitors,” said Federer. So this was to be the protocol. At least he knew something. The Marine guard opened a rear door for Federer as the General slipped into the passenger seat. Then the stone-faced young warrior took a seat beside Federer. Oh what things those ears were going to pretend not to hear.
“Right now we don’t know quite what to expect,” said Schoonmaker, becoming more informal as the car motored off the runway. “They want to speak to someone with at least the rank of ambassador. Washington was going to send the SECSTATE but decided that would be kowtowing. So we’ve settled on you.”
“That’s alright, I haven’t been back to Hawaii since my honeymoon,” said Federer, trying to sound upbeat.
“It’s certainly a gem, isn’t it?” said the General, surveying the lush landscape. “Eight million U.S. tourists a year and another eight million from China.”
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