Friday, November 25, 2011

Te Eurasian, fifth installment: chapters 9 & 10

Chapter 9
The Sweat Lodge

Mickey sat in the shade of an overhanging rock, holding a bone. He was contemplating the bone, the dryness of it, the deadness of it. It was from some animal that had died a long time ago deep in the dessert. It was far beyond smelling bad. It was just dry and hollow.
Francis had given each of them a bone just before assigning them to their spots.
Mickey's spot overlooked the canyon with the waterfall where they had the camp-fire two nights ago. He could see Francis and Paco building a shelter which was to be the sweat lodge, not far from the fire pit. The location near the fire and the pool of cold water was an important part.
The other important part was what Mickey, his classmates and tour guide were doing right now, fasting in preparation, contemplating their dry bones. It was the preliminary part of the cleansing, that would be continued during the sweat lodge itself.
Francis had told them that it was a time of searching ones heart. It would be to them what Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is to the Jewish people, a day of fasting and admitting to God all the wrong things that come to the surface. Like the Jewish people in their synagogues on Yom Kippur, they had hiked out to their spots barefoot.
Regarding confessing of ones sins, Mickey was familiar. Some of the others, notably, Albert Fong, weren't.
When he objected to the idea of admitting his faults, Francis had said, 'You need a miracle from the Great Spirit to get you home. If you want His help, you must go to Him on His terms, not your own. He is open to you when you admit your faults. And He knows them already, so he won't be surprised by anything you say.'
'He know already, why I say then?' Albert had responded.
'You say them to clear your soul. Say everything you know. When you think you have no more to confess, look at the bone again. What is the difference between you and that bone? Whatever you find, offer that also to the Great Spirit. Do that until you, yourself, are no more than a dry bone, because it is He who said, "These dry bones shall live again."
'I advise you to do that, because without the help of the Great Spirit, you, Albert Fong, may be trapped in the wilderness like the animal these bones belonged to.'
Put that way, Albert was willing. Francis seemed to have that way about him.
* * *
For the whole day of fasting, they had worn the loose fitting cotton garments that had been provided, and then slept in them, wrapped in a warm blanket, under the stars. The next morning, they rolled up the blanket and carried it and the water bottle to the end of the canyon where the sweat lodge was to be held.
They all took their own time in arriving, so Francis bid them sit around the fire pit outside until they all arrived. The fire was kept burning, and would continue to burn throughout the session, so as to supply the hot rocks for the sweat chamber.
'There will be four rounds inside the sweat lodge, about 40 minutes each,' Francis said, 'each one followed by immersion in this pool next to us. Some of the immersions will have a special meaning, which I will tell you as we are about to come out.' He repeated this every time more of the group arrived and took their seats.
When everyone had arrived, Francis took out a long stemmed pipe and filled it with something from a pouch and lit it using a coal from the fire which he picked up with a pair of tongs.
'This is what we call chanunpa, what you know of as a Native American "peace pipe". It serves as an alter of incense, like what they used in the Temple in Jerusalem, by which our prayers ascend to the Great Spirit. I will pass it around. Say a prayer in your heart, and simply puff -- no need to inhale. It has tobacco, along with wood chips and herbs that give an aroma.'
They passed it around. Mickey suspected that everyone else's prayer was the same as his, Please get us home!
'Now,' said Francis, 'it is time to reverently enter the sweat lodge. Go in, turn to the left and go, clockwise around the fire pit in the middle so that all are seated around in a circle.'
They went in, as instructed, and sat in silence for a short time.
Francis called for Paco, who came in bringing a pan containing red hot stones from the fire outside. The door was closed so that the only light in the room was from the stones. Frances began to place them, one by one in the fire pit.
'These first four stones I place here are the four directions: North, East, South and West. The Great Spirit is in every place at once, filling all four directions. Now I place this one, representing the Great Spirit, as the Father of all. Now, this one, representing the Word of the Great Spirit, the Messiah, His Son. And last, I place this one, which represents the Breath of the Great Spirit, the living Breath who gave utterance to the Prophets, and who enables His servants to this day.'
Then, using a long handled dipper, he took some water from a clay jar at his side, and began pouring it slowly over the stones, making steam arise and fill the room. He poured dipper after dipper until they began to feel the effects of the steam, and sweat began to pour from their bodies.
Francis took his drum and began beating it lightly, making a steady distinct rhythm. After a while, he began singing a prayer asking for cleansing to come from the Breath of the Great Spirit. The words of the prayer also invited the group to think on all the things they had confessed during the fast.
Then, there was silence.
After a while, Francis said, 'It is written in the Golden Book, "Confess your faults to one another, that you may be cleansed." I will pass this "talking stick" around. As you hold it, tell us about yourself, and about what you have confessed. A part of your cleansing is sharing. When you've finished, pass the talking stick to the one next to you.'
He passed ornately carved piece of wood to Seymour, who was sitting on his left, who shared some of what he had struggled through the previous day. He passed it on to Philip, who did the same. He confessed his anger, especially towards Albert, and passed the stick on. When it got to Albert, he also apologised to Philip for cruel taunting words he had spoken.
The stick went all the way around and back to Francis. He confessed a few things himself.
'The Golden Book says, "If you confess your sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive you, and will cleanse you from all the bad." Now, since we have confessed our sins, we will go and immerse ourselves in the water. It is the immersion of repentance, the same as John the Baptist commanded. Immerse yourselves, and receive forgiveness from the Great Spirit. Leave slowly, following the one on your left to the door.'
The water was cold, but refreshing after all the sweating.
There followed two more rounds, which followed much the same pattern. Yorba Linda, on receiving the talking stick, confessed the anger she had towards her step brother. Philip confessed the same.
Then came the fourth round, which followed a different pattern.
After they had sat in silence, Francis began beating on his drum, softly at first, and then steadily louder. Then, he began to sing:

The Great White Spirit made the sky
The water, The fire, and the land
His Wisdom brought all things to balance
And He looked down and was glad

From the sky he poured life
With help from water, the land made it grow
But the fire stood by to serve in its time
In Wisdom it was to be so
And He looked down and was glad

He made birds to fly in the sky
Fish in the water, and beasts on land
But to the fire, he said wait, it's not your time
Listen to Wisdom, it bids you wait
And he looked down and was glad

He made the first man, and a woman to wife
He taught them the secrets of life from the land
To them he gave the birds in the sky
The fish in the water and the beasts on the land
And to this he added one more -- the power of fire
And Wisdom said, guard it carefully
And he looked down on his people and was glad

But the snake loved that fire,
It grew jealous of the power, it wanted the fire
Through the wife, it said to the man
I'll show you more secrets if you yield to me
You can do so much more, just yield to me
You will see the power it has over the sky, the water and land
But you must bow to me

The voice of Wisdom was ignored

The Great Spirit looked down and was sad

Through the hands of the man, the snake built a wall
It rose to the sky, it surrounded the land
Its depth was to the waters below -- the waters of death

Though the hand of the man had built it, he could not tear it down
It became his prison, it kept him inside
While the snake made use of the power of fire
To further the ruin of all life
Wisdom looked on and waited
The Great Spirit looked down and was sad

The man could do nothing, but the woman had a seed
The Great Spirit consulted His Wisdom, and sent it
He germinated the seed, and as a man, Wisdom was born
The man, the seed of the woman, wife of the first man
Of many generations, Wisdom was born

The wall was built so high, it hid man from the sky
The foundation was so deep, it reached to the waters of death
The Snake was confident that his prize was secure
His prize won through deceit and seduction
But he didn't consider that the Wisdom of the Great Spirit runs deeper still

So the man, Wisdom, the seed of the first woman of many generations
He dug a hole at the base of the wall
Though the wall had been built deep, Wisdom dug deeper still
He dug to the waters of death, and did what the snake failed to foresee
He dug to the waters of death and entered therein.
He was consumed by the waters of death, but death could not hold him
He found the fire that the snake had there hidden
He took the fire, and it burned a path upward and beyond the wall
The Great Spirit looked down and was again glad

So hear Wisdom, you generations of the man, and the woman, his wife
The path to life was opened by Wisdom
Though the wall extends deep, Wisdom dug deeper still
The way passes through the waters of death
To have life, you must die, says Wisdom
To die, to pass through the waters of death, is the way to reclaim the fire

So hear Wisdom, you generations of the man, and the woman, his wife
To have life, you must die, and pass through the waters of death
Then you'll have life, then you'll reclaim the fire

The drumming slowly died down, but continued at a steady beat.
'I will sing that one more time. This time, as you listen, consider that it is not only about our first father and mother, but about you and me. When the song says that he built the wall that became his prison, consider the faults that you have thought about during your fast, and have confessed, and understand what they cost to the Man, Wisdom, who is Yeshua.'
He sang it through again.
At the end of that round, Francis said, 'We will again immerse ourselves. This time, the immersion is in the waters of death. Some of you have done that already, some haven't. Do you wish to follow Wisdom through the water of death through immersion?'
Philip, Albert and Riu all indicated they would. Seymour and U Ta, though they had been baptised in the traditions of their respective churches, decided to do it as a conscious choice to follow Wisdom into life.
'Remember what I said about your dry bone, that the Great Spirit said, "These dry bones will yet live." As you have shed everything that distinguishes you from your dry dead bones, you are ready to be made alive. Go now and be immersed in the Name of the Great Spirit the Father of all, His Son the Word, and His Holy Breath.'
They went out and immersed themselves.
At the end of the day, all of them reported to one another that they felt at peace with themselves in a way they never had before.

Chapter 10
The Operatives

Albert, Riu, Seymour and U Ta, as promised, were off earning their keep on horseback. They each paired up with an experienced hand, and were off, deep into the wilderness beyond the mouth of the canyon, looking for stray cattle with their ranch's brand on them, and driving them back to the corral.
Mickey, Philip and Yorba Linda were giving the main room and the kitchen area a good cleaning.
Mickey was running the squeegee over the big window next to the front door, when he saw a vintage four wheel drive approaching. Four men got out and walked to the house. One of them was Chief Red Eagle. The other three appeared to be white people, though quite tan, and two had beards.
Mickey went to the door.
'Ah, still here, I see. I need to speak with Francis Baguette. And when you've brought him, you, too, stick around. These men have some questions to ask you and your companions.'
'Right,' responded Mickey.
Philip was washing another window, while Yorba Linda was mopping the patio.
'Chief Red Eagle,' said Mickey, on his way to the study.
A minute later, Francis, along with Mickey, Yorba Linda and Philip were at the front door.
'Perhaps you could give these men lodging for a few day? They are on an assignment from their nation, which should be of benefit to us all. Also, they need to gather what information your guests from the MCZ can give them, regarding the hijacking.'
Francis looked the three men over, and nodded.
'So, your guests, have they adjusted well? Do they still entertain hopes of returning to MCZ?'
'Yesterday, they attended the sweat lodge and that has helped them adjust.'
'Ah -- with your unique twist to it, of course.'
'Perhaps. But as for returning, only one of them, the young lady, is from MCZ. The rest are from China. They do wish to return there, but I've assured them that it will be a long hard journey.'
'But at least possible,' said one of the newcomers. 'Not like MCZ.'
'Unless they can hijack another hover car,' said another.
'Not likely,' said the third.
Francis invited them all into the dining area and asked one of the women there to fix some coffee. The three guests brought backpacks with them. They all sat down at the end of the long table, while Chief Red Eagle took his leave.
'Which nation are you from?' asked Francis.
'Free People's Union. It's a long way East of here,' said the one with the dark beard. 'My name's David, this is Yakov,' pointing to the one with a red beard, 'and that's Joe,' indicating the other one with dark hair but with only two days growth on his face.
'Where, exactly, is the Free People's Union?' asked Yorba Linda.
'We'd prefer not to be so specific,' said Yakov, 'at least not until we've got to know each other a bit better. But perhaps you could tell us, what do you know of the -- er -- republic to the north of Dinetah?'
'Not much at all, except that they're Nazis,' said Yorba Linda.
'I could not tell you any more than Chief Red Eagle could,' said Francis. 'He has had direct dealings with them.'
'Yes,' said Yakov. 'And he's been very helpful. But I understand you folks were pulled off a hover car as it passed over Dineh lands. Did they say anything that gave any hint of what their intentions were once they got to their destination?'
'Only to throw a wrench into the works of the Zionist something-or-other,' said Mickey.
'They stole your identities, didn't they?' asked Joe.
'Yes,' said Yakov. 'We can assume that, right now, there are seven Nazis moving about the MCZ using your identities. Perhaps it would be helpful if you told us your names, and any information that would be contained on the central database under your names.'
'You MCZ police?' asked Philip.
'No, we're not from the MCZ,' said Yakov.
'Not from MCZ,' repeated David.
'Perhaps, if we told you just a little bit more about ourselves, you would understand our interest,' said Joe. 'You see, we're Jewish.'
'Ah -- like Jesus?' said Philip.
'Er -- ' Joe cleared his through, 'yes, I suppose he was Jewish.'
'People in MCZ don't know he's Jewish,' said Philip, oblivious to the subtle reactions he had aroused.
'Yeah, I suppose they don't. But being that we are Jewish --'
'You want to keep track of the Nazis,' said Mickey.
'That's right,' said Yakov. 'We have it on good authority that they would like to take over and unite America again, but under their banner ...'
'But there, we have to be careful,' said Joe, 'because there are many people, and not just Nazis, who think we want to take over the whole show.'
'Yeah, not just the Nazis,' affirmed David.
'Let's just say we're an ethnic group, like the Native Americans, like the Chinese and Indians, who are interested in surviving. Now, there's been so much dirt flung around already, that many people find that hard to believe.'
'What does Chief Red Eagle believe?' asked Francis.
'I'm not sure,' said David. 'Perhaps he just wants to help maintain a balance of power...'
'...which would be fine with us,' said Joe.
'Or, perhaps he thinks we're the lesser of the two evils,' suggested Yakov.
'Yes,' said Francis. 'Native American ways have a lot in common with Judaism. I, for one, consider you far less evil than the Nazis.'
'Thank you,' said Yakov.
The other two also murmured a thank you.
The other workers had begun to arrive for their lunch, including the remaining four Asians.
After being introduced, they all gave their names and details, while Joe took them down in an e-tablet.
* * *
The food had been brought to their table, fry bread and a squash dish with some salad.
'I hope I'm not rude in asking,' said Joe, 'but what kind of oil was the bread fried in?'
'Oil from our peanuts,' said Francis.
The three newcomers looked relieved.
'Ah, you were afraid it might be un-kosher animal fat,' said Francis. 'There is no meat in this meal, but we plan to have roast lamb tonight. It will be slaughtered this afternoon. Perhaps you would like to see how we do it?'
'David here was trained as a shocket, he could slaughter it for you.'
'Very good,' said Francis. 'Also, I will ask them not to add milk to the fry bread dough for this evening.'
'What's a "shocket"?' asked Seymour.
'That's a butcher who slaughters animals in a way that is acceptable for Jewish people,' answered Francis.
'You were saying earlier that Native American ways shared common traits with Judaism,' said Joe.
'Yes,' said Francis. 'An example is your prohibition against eating the blood of an animal.'
'But don't young Indians on their first hunt drink the blood of their first kill?'
'Yes, in some communities they do, but that's for the same reason that you do not drink the blood. It is the belief we hold in common that the spirit of the animal is in the blood. Also, you have a commandment forbidding one to take a mother bird from the wild along with its young -- only take the young without the mother. That reflects our common belief that we must only take what we need from nature, and leave nature the means to replenish herself.'
'How does taking the young birds away without the mother help?' asked Yorba Linda.
'Because, the next time the mother lays eggs, it will lay twice as many, to compensate for the loss, so nothing is lost from nature. But if you take the mother as well, that is a loss.'
'It's interesting to find one so knowledgeable about Judaism way out here,' said David.
'I do a lot of study. I have talked to Jewish people in the past, when the rest of the world was more accessible. Now, these people dropped out of the sky a few days ago, bringing me the Golden Book, along with parts of the Talmud, the Mishna and a midrash so I can now continue my study.'
'I'm impressed!'
'Speaking of falling out of the sky,' began Yakov, looking at his two friends, 'I'd say we can let them in on a bit more of what we're doing? They seem to me to be quite safe. '
The other two murmured assent.
'We have a few people hacking into MCZ cyberspace doing routine surveillance. They've come up with evidence that some of the Nazi nations have been doing the same. In fact, we learned of their plan to penetrate the MCZ by hijacking a hover shuttle, which they've now succeeded in doing. That's why we wanted to find out as much as we could from all of you. For one thing, we believe they had help from inside.'
'My step brother,' said Yorba Linda.
'Who?' said David.
'Your step brother?' said Joe. 'You were aware of this?'
'We only found that out when we managed to hack in and talk to him. He was shocked that his friend, Philip, here, and I were on the hover bus that was taken down. There were two buses assigned to our group, for whom I was the tour guide. Philip and I were supposed to be on the other bus. He seemed very upset, but then, we got cut off.'
'How did get through?' asked Yakov.
'Philip did that.'
Philip smiled shyly at them.
'You did it? How?'
'I can show you, but I can't hack any more. Can't get through.'
'Okay, I think I know what happened. You found a weak link in the addressing system, but they caught you in the act and patched it up so it's no longer available.'
'But I do it many times from China!'
'That probably didn't concern them as much as communication to the Free Zone. We've brought equipment that enables us to hack in on a more fundamental level. Perhaps it might be good if we called him. We could learn a few things.'
'Can we call to China?' asked Riu.
'We could try.'
* * *
The three newcomers, along with Francis, Yorba Linda, Mickey, Philip and Riu were in the study. Joe was setting up their system, connecting it to Francis' router which they had linked to their own satellite dish outside via a wireless connection.
'The key to broadcasting into the MCZ is linking to the right satellite,' Yakov was explaining. 'Then, it's simply a matter of using the right protocol. When the Multinationals took over, they didn't bother to study the whole inventory. They were only interested in the more powerful satellites that could most efficiently connect all their systems. They left a lot of the smaller ones unused, some with open links into strategic points in the system. Old Jack King used to work for a company that maintained several satellite links. He kept the coordinates and encryption keys on his own computer at home. Suddenly, one of the big Multinationals bought out his company and he was out of a job, but he held on to the data. Later, he went to work for us.'
'But apparently, the Nazis have access to a few of them as well,' said Joe, 'which is how they've gotten in.'
'But if they can link in, why did they need my brother?' asked Yorba Linda.
'Because they've firewalled the infrastructures,' said Yakov. 'While we can communicate into the MCZ, we can't access the other systems, like transportation. They needed an inside man for that.'
David said, 'Now, what we're afraid is happening, is that they're in there, trying to install links between all the systems, bypassing the firewalls. That would give them a lot of control.'
'A lot,' affirmed Joe.
'Okay, I think we're through,' said Yakov. 'Let's give it a try.'
Philip gave them the IP address.
As soon as Monterey Jack's face shone on the other side, he suddenly looked flustered, and then said, 'Hey, I can't talk now. I'm, like real busy, okay? Like -- er -- ' he seemed distracted, as though doing two things at once. 'Er -- I'd love to talk to you and all, but I'm -- like -- real busy -- and ...well -- later, okay?'
He held up a piece of paper with a hand written IP address on it. Apparently, he had been writing it while talking.
Yakov saved a screen shot of the written message, and Jack went off line.
'What's that all about?' said Yorba Linda.
'Let's try the IP address he showed us,' said Joe.
Yakov entered it, and soon Jack's face came up again, a bit more relaxed. It looked like he was in the toilet.
'Linda, there's a woman been come'n around using a virtual image that look just like you, call'n herself Yorba Linda Sanchez and all, but her real self is white. I think she's got your ID bracelet or something. Anyway, she and a guy comes when the folks are all out, and like, she'll kill me and our whole family if I don't cooperate, and they've taken over my old net address. And they've got my room and my computer bugged so I can't call anyone, so I have to use this other one they don't know about.'
'What are they trying to do?' asked Yorba Linda.
'I don't know. They make me go out of the room when they're do'n it.'
'Are they there now?' asked Yakov from behind.
'Jack,' said Yorba Linda. 'These are some people that are trying to help us. They need you to give them as much information about this group as you know.'
Yakov took the tablet. 'You must be Monterey Jack,' he said.
'Yeah. Who are you?'
'You can call me Jake. We can try to help. But first, what do you know about the people you've been in contact with?'
'I don't know. They seemed like nice guys at first, and were all friendly, and they got me into all sorts of cool stuff ...'
'... like planning hijacks?' said Yorba Linda.
'Well -- they promised me they'd send the car back for you -- really, they did! They didn't say anything about take'n anyone's ID bracelets, honest!'
'But what do you know about them?' repeated Yakov.
'Not much. Like I said, they were real cool at first, but close up they're like real hard core evil, like, threatening to kill me and all.'
'What are they trying to do?'
'They won't tell me. But the man has got a swastika tattooed to his eyelid.'
'Jack,' said Yakov. 'Can you do something for me?'
'Maybe, if it's not dangerous.'
'Do you know how to hack back into your own system in stealth mode?'
'I probably could.'
'Don't try this directly from your main system or they'll probably detect it. If you know all your hidden settings, you can hack into it from this IP address that you're using now, and access the security control box. In that, first, change the PQ setting to 106. After that, disable the streaming shield. Then, set the PQ setting to 105.'
'Got it. Anything else?'
'That's it. The rest is up to us.'
'You guys doin' okay?'
Philip answered, 'We okay. No worries. We pray the Great Spirit for you.'
They went off line.
'What will you do now?' asked Francis.
'I'll give him time to change the settings, then we'll eaves drop on them,' said Yakov. 'Meanwhile, you wanted to contact your people in China?'
* * *
They were through to Mr. Singh.
'Mercy, you're alive! They told us you were all killed in a fatal accident!'
'Yes, we're all okay,' said Yorba Linda. 'So they sent you straight back to China?'
'Yes. When you failed to turn up, they sent us back immediately after giving us the news.'
'You didn't see our car arrive?'
'There was one I thought should have been yours, but a group of strangers got out -- rather odd looking ones at that.'
'That was probably the group that stole our IDs. They're Nazis from what they call the Free Zone.'
'The what zone?'
Yorba Linda explained that to him. Mr. Singh looked perplexed.
'I think I did see a Nazi sign on one of them, a swastika tattoo.'
Then, Yorba Linda asked him, 'Is there any word from the parents of the students?'
'We informed them about the fatal crash,' replied Mr. Singh. 'I'm sure they'll be happy to know otherwise -- all except for, -- hmm -- Riu's grandmother. I'm sorry to say, she passed away.'
Everyone in the room looked at Riu. He looked surprisingly calm.
'Also,' continued Mr. Singh, 'her home was sold to pay off debts, so, I'm afraid other arrangements will have to be made for Riu once he returns.'
'That's okay,' said Riu. 'I was ready for that. I think I'll live here and work on the ranch, okay, Francis?'
Francis put his hand on his shoulder. 'Yes. We will be glad to have you among us.'
* * *
'My grandmother told me this would happen,' said Riu, at dinner. 'She wanted me to go on this trip. She even said I would find a new life. I told her, "No", but she insisted, saying that there would be nothing left for me in Chantaburi. In fact, during our time in the sweat lodge, I knew she had died, and that this is the place for me.'
* * *
'Do you have any plans of where to go from here?' asked Joe.
'The only idea so far is to try to find my uncle, Rodrigo Sanchez,' said Yorba Linda. 'We believe he runs a communications tower in some town called Milfred in South Texas. Again, Monterey Jack conveniently had that information for us.'
'Quite a kid!' commented David.
'How did your uncle come to get a job in a place like that?'
'I have no idea. He disappeared off our radar screen a few years ago. We were told he had been offered a job with a research firm and had to move, and that he'd keep in touch. He didn't.'
'Do you think he knew anything he shouldn't have?'
'He had all these ideas that -- well -- in retrospect, were probably more than just ideas.'
'Dangerous,' said Joe. 'Had to be sent into exile.'
'And now, he maintains a communications tower for the MCZ intercity transport system?' said David.
'That's what we've been told,' said Yorba Linda.
Just then, Yakov walked into the front room where his two friends were sitting with Yorba Linda, Mickey and Philip.
'I think we've hit a goldmine!' he said.
'What's the story?' asked Joe.
'They're using all sorts of codes and passwords. I believe some of them are to their own command centre in Central West Aryan State, and a few others as well. I'm sure one's for American Nazi Republic Central HQ.'
'Woah!' exclaimed David.
'And, I think I can confirm that they are setting up hard links like we suspected. I've got a few access codes for some of them as well. If we keep listening, more are on the way.'
'So, that means the Nazis nations are all in on this together?' said Joe.
'I guess it does,' said David. 'What about the hard links to -- you know ...'
'You mean the big one? I don't know yet. We'll have to keep listening.'
'With this info, we can start listening in to a few more places, can't we?' said Joe.
'Unfortunately, with what we have here, we can only listen to one place at a time. And to forward this to Bruno would be too risky,' said Yakov.
'Now, what about using a MCZ communications tower?' said David.
'If we had one of those, that would be perfect. Know of one for sale?'
'Yorba Linda's uncle. South Texas. What's the town again?' said David.
'Milfred,' replied Yorba Linda.
'I know that place,' said Yakov. 'It's in the Republic of Mexas. They're a more friendly nation that keeps Nazis and other radicals at arms length.'
'What do you say we help these people get there?' said David.
'Would he be likely to want to help us?' asked Yakov.
'From the way he used to be,' said Yorba Linda, 'I think there's a good chance he would.'
'Yeah, you told us. That's why they put him there,' said Joe.
'Using a communications tower, we could do all we need and more,' said Yakov.
'But the man at the communications tower near here said he could only call to the central transport communications office,' said Mickey.
'First off,' said Yakov, 'he probably doesn't know how to hack his system. Secondly, they're not entirely on their own. They get visits from time to time. Unless he were an expert, like us, they would either detect his tampering from the main office, or by inspecting the safety seals on the equipment when they visit. They'd have him out of there in two seconds, and he'd be stuck hoeing cotton along side the local farm labourers.'
'We will, of course, warn your uncle of the risks,' said David.
'Would there be a way to get back to China from there?' asked Mickey.
'The MCZ controls the entire coastline,' said Joe. 'As far as the rest of the world is concerned, they claim sovereignty over the whole continent. Their lack of control over the interior is a very well kept secret. To keep it that way, they restrict access to the borders by anyone without ID, they jam any radio communications, they block internet traffic, and of course, travel. But there are ways around that.'
'Can't fly over?' suggested Mickey.
'Not unless you use a stealth aircraft, flying very low. They'll shoot you down,' said David. 'No one we know has that sort of a plane.'
'Submarine from up river is one of the more available options. That's also difficult,' said Yakov.
'How then?' said Philip.
'We've never done it. All I know is, it's possible,' said Joe.
'And easier than actually getting into the MCZ from here,' said Yakov.
* * *
The old map sat, unrolled, on the desk. Yakov was penciling in national borders for places further off, and their names.
'We came through "USA", but it might be difficult to return that way,' said Joe. 'They didn't take to us very well.'
'Stanley Town will take you in,' said Francis, tapping on the place on the map. 'To get there, you cross this desert.'
'That one in your back yard? I don't think we'd make it,' said David.
'You go in our electric wagon. Paco will take you. I just had three solar panels replaced, so it's ready to go.'
The three operatives thought a moment.
'That would be helpful,' said Joe. 'It won't put you out?'
'We have been planning this trip to take gifts to the people there, as our harvest has been very good this year.'
'Now, White River is a friendly place,' said Yakov, pointing at a place beyond, but not bordering Stanley Town. 'They have a big Jewish community. We should be able to find our way there.'
'What about this place in between -- er -- "Republic of Arizona"?' asked David.
'They are very protective,' answered Francis. 'All the land is held by farmers, who fight very hard to keep what they have. Stanley Town is also very well armed, but they will welcome you with open arms if you bring groceries.'
'Stanley Town people aren't farmers then?'
'They farm what little land they have. It is not sufficient to feed such a big population.'
'How do they survive then?'
'They have ways, which accounts for them being well armed, and the Republic of Arizona people being very protective. I hope that by sending food whenever we have some to spare, we can generate peace. Father Ryan hopes that as well. My only concern is finding a way to cross the Republic of Arizona.'
'I'm sure we can find a way,' said Yakov. 'What do you say, Joe? David?'
'We've done as much before,' said David. 'Perhaps not with such a large group.'
'I'm for it,' said Joe.
'I will send an email to Father Ryan,' said Francis. 'If he turns on his server, he should have word of your arrival before you get there.'

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