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Von Neumann's War: Chapter Sixteen

       Last updated: Saturday, July 15, 2006 16:53 EDT



    "They wanted to keep you in Washington," Roger said as Shane settled into the chair in the hastily made conference room. The "core" of the Neighborhood Watch group was seated around the table, which was really a dining table, to debrief the two soldiers. "But we convinced them you'd be better utilized giving us the skinny directly."

    "Thanks," Shane said, sighing. "I really don't want to be in D.C. when those things get here."

    "I don't know where I want to be," Cady interjected. He'd gotten a new uniform and a new set of sergeant major's insignia to go with it. "Maybe on a mountain somewhere in a log cabin with some wooden farming implements."

    "What's the word on England?" Shane asked, nodding at the sergeant major's comment.

    "You made it out of England just in time," Tom answered somberly. "They crossed the Channel when your flight was still in the air. All contact has been lost with the south of England and it's spreading north. All of northern France, half of Germany, all of Belgium and the Netherlands are gone."

    "Belgium, huh. I guess Rene will be staying with us for while," Shane said.

    Cady nodded in agreement.

    "Who's Rene?" Alan asked.

    "Long story, you'll meet him sooner or later, but he was one of the two surviving pilots of the northern aerial assault. He and USAF Lieutenant Colonel Ridley were both part of the NATO-Euro Falcons. They were on the plane with us from London. They were really banged up. I told him they should come visit us when they were better."

    "They had a rough go of it," Cady added.

    "Go ahead and tell us what you saw," Roger said, nodding at Shane and turning on a digital recorder. "Start from when you first saw the probes. When you're done, we'll get to the questions. We'll send the recording out on the net so everybody can get a look at it. There's not going to be any securing data from this point on; that decision has already been made. But you're the only people we can find who got an accurate look at the probes and made it back to tell about it." Shane related the story of the fallen Stryker battalion and the flight through the tunnel, shaking his head as he did.

    "I didn't want to just run away," he admitted. "But Colonel Schon made it pretty clear that that was my job."

    "That's what he was telling you," Cady said. "When he drew you aside."

    "Yeah," Shane replied. "That's what he was telling me."

    "And he was right," Roger said firmly. "There's important stuff in what you just described."

    "How long do you think it took those two to twin?" Tom asked. "It sounds like mitosis, just like a bacteria."

    "I was thinking the same thing," Shane admitted. "It was just like watching a cell divide. I wasn't timing it but maybe thirty seconds, a minute. No more."

    "How close did they get?" Tom asked, his eyes narrowed.

    "What do you mean?" the sergeant major asked.

    "How far away were they from the metal when they… sucked it up?" Tom expanded.

    "Oh," Shane said, frowning. "Not far. They got down to within a meter or so when they were ripping apart the Humvee. I… you know, I never saw them…

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