Three days later Christina Crow looked about at the people sitting across from her, Congressman Mark Spencer of the Tau Ceti System and Congresswoman Diane Flores of the Newton System. They were seated in one of the sitting rooms of the Officer’s Barracks in La Citadelle. The last three days had been the most terrifying days that President Christina Crow ever experienced in her life.
The Human Federation government was in shambles. Several militant groups and gangs came out of the shadows across the world, to include one or two security scares to La Citadelle. None of them were serious enough to be a danger to the base as the two army units, with their powered and unpowered armor, stationed inside the walls were enough to deter even the most deranged person. That wasn’t even counting the Air Force and Space Force stationed over the city or the extra police that had been called in from the rest of Canada. If that wasn’t enough to discourage anyone from trying to breach the walls the .50 caliber machine guns atop the hastily run up guard towers and the snipers on the roofs of the buildings should.
The worst of the uprisings were in the Middle East, with the self-styled Islamic State of Earth raising Cain from as far north as Syria down to the former UAE. They’d overwhelmed the local police forces faster than anyone expected. Once the Army got into the fight the ISE found itself being rolled up very quickly. How the ISE thought it had a prayer, the pun wasn’t lost on Christina, she had no idea. While the main body of the ISE would be destroyed by the end of the week that part of the globe would have to worry about lone wolf terrorist attacks by ISE holdouts for weeks or months.
The fact that Bernard Hernandez worked with members of the ISE to pull off the attack in NYC and elsewhere really got her blood up. Did that maniac even realize who he was working with? The ISE fanatics were just that, fanatics. They didn’t care if they lived or died, so long as they carried out their misguided jihad against the rest of humanity. The jihadists weren’t all that picky about who they targeted either. Most of the attacks on civilians were against innocent Muslim bystanders caught during an attack on Human Federation government entities. Of course, according to the ISE, anyone that wasn’t with them was an infidel. It was how they rationalized attacks on fellow Muslims, Shiite, or Sunni alike.
The worst attack, and the one that provoked anger and horror from beyond Terra, was the attack in downtown Riyadh of the former Saudi Arabia. An ISE bomber with explosives strapped under his garments had walked into a crowded market full of not only humans but eight Zaltaens. The bomber’s target was only too evident after the fact.
From the surviving security footage, the man screamed, “die you godless freaks from space! This is Allah’s world!” in Arabic before he hit the button. The resulting explosion killed him, the Zaltaens and about sixty other humans and injured hundreds more. The incident was enough to send the Zaltaen deputy ambassador into a frothing rage, as if the killing of the primary ambassador in NYC wasn’t enough. Word of the first attack had already reached Zalta and the queen wasn’t taking the events on Terra very well to say the least. The Riyadh attack would only further inflame her.
“As both of you know, the three of us are the only remaining surviving members of our duly elected government.” Both blinked their eyes as the reality of the situation finally sunk into their heads. All three felt as if the world was on their shoulders.
“What do we do now?” Flores asked. “I don’t know what to do. I’ve only been a member of Congress since I was elected two years ago; I’m really just learning all the ropes and most of our advisors were killed as well.”
Spencer spoke up. “I’ve been part of Congress for nearly five years but in terms of seniority I barely have any.” Diane looked to him. “Anyways… first, we need to establish some form of an advisory cabinet. Everything from new heads for the Department of the Treasury, to the Department of Defense, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy…” Christina cut him off.
“Mark,” Christina spoke up, “I think that most of those positions aren’t really of importance right now,” Mark was about to interject but Christina spoke again. “As for the Department of Defense and Planetary Security, we need to establish those quickly. I might be the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, but I’m in no way ready to lead our brave men and women in uniform. I need advisors and I need them quickly. Hell, we need a vice president and I need a chief of staff. The deputy directors of all the departments have stepped up to the plate, but none of them were confirmed by the Senate to hold the top spots. When we finally reconvene a newly elected Congress, we’ll have to go through the Senate confirmation hearings.” Christina shook her head, imagining the long road ahead of them.
“A vice president?” Diana asked. “Which of the two of us are most qualified?”
Mark Spencer spoke up. “I used to be the System Governor of Tau Ceti before I stepped down to take a national position.”
“Perfect!” Christina spoke up, “I nominate you my Vice President.” She turned to Diana. “Do you approve?” Diana nodded her head. “Then that’s done, we officially have a vice president.” She turned to Mark. “Until I get a formal chief of staff, you’re my top advisor.” Mark nodded his head. “Do you know of anyone you know that could be my chief of staff?”
“Well, there’s my wife and my former chief of staff back when I was the system governor.”
Christina looked to him. “Do you know if they’re okay? Are they still alive?”
“Yes,” Mark breathed a sigh of relief. “I talked to Lisa about three hours ago. Thankfully she was nowhere near the capital when all of this went down. My former chief of staff is on Tau Ceti and it’s quiet there.”
“Good,” Christina replied, “They’re alive. At least we have some good news around here.” She turned to the command sergeant major from the 502nd Infantry Regiment standing near her. “We’ll need his former chief of staff on the fastest transport to Terra. They’ll have my personal authorization to enter Terra orbit.”
“Yes, Madam President!” The sergeant major walked to one of the privates who were sitting at one of several communication stations lining the northern wall.
“Until he gets here, and we start setting up some form of hierarchy of government, we need to calm the people of the nation. We need to assure the people of this nation that we have things under control,” Mark said.
“How do you suppose we do that Mark?”
“We need you on the television with me by your side.”
“I see,” Christina thought back to when she made her first address to the nation as President of the Human Federation. “I was also thinking about appearing at Ground Zero in New York. What do you think?” Both Diane and Mark looked at her while blinking their eyes. The returning sergeant major also looked at her as if he were going to have a fit of apoplexy. “I figure from the looks on your faces that you believe that that’s a bad idea.”
Mark shrugged his shoulders. “It wouldn’t be my first choice of places to go. We can do the same thing from right here. The military was nice enough to set up a galactic comm net that links you with all the Human Federation and even Midas and Sirius. Hell, if you wanted to, you wouldn’t even have to leave that chair. Right?” He asked, looking at the sergeant major.
“Yes, Mister Vice President,” the sergeant major replied with a sudden grin. “President Crow could deliver any address she wants from her stateroom.”
“But we can’t just be hiding like we are, we have to show the people that…”
Colonel Blair Thompson, the commander of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, came over and spoke for the first time. “I don’t think that that’s a good idea Madam President. Things are still quite chaotic out there. To be honest, we’re not sure about the security situation. The only place that I can guarantee your safety is here in Quebec City. I don’t want what’s left of this government to be out amongst the people where you could get hurt… or worse. I won’t sign off any such activity Madam President. Your safety is of utmost priority.”
Mark looked around the room and lightly tapped his hands on the table. “Well, that decision’s been made for us.”
“So, what can we do?” Christina asked. “I need to assure the people of this nation that we have things under control, maybe then things will start quieting down out there.”
“What about that one news crew that you made an announcement to a couple of days ago?” Diane asked. “Can we get them here for a live broadcast?”
Christina looked up to the general. “Is that doable?”
“Yes,” Colonel Thompson paused, “but we’re going to have to vet them before they even set foot on a transport destined for here. The city is under lockdown as you well know. The newsies threw OPSEC out the airlock when they told the entire galaxy you were here. Right now, all we can do is to keep the unwanted the hell out of here. Those .50 Cals on the guard towers are doing a hell of a job doing that all by themselves. I think most of the crazies got the idea and went home though.”
“Make every possible arrangement for that to happen,” President Crow told him.
Just then something startled Mark as he jumped out of his chair which caused the colonel to pull out his sidearm. A softly uttered chirping sound was heard before Mark exclaimed, “What the hell is that?!”
“Oh sorry,” Christina bent down and picked up Sparky and put him on the table. “That’s just my cat Sparky; it’s about feeding time for him.” A sigh of relief came over the colonel as he holstered his sidearm. She turned to the colonel. “Do we have anything for him to eat around here?”
“Uh…” the officer stammered. “I… I don’t know. Let me find out for you.”
Diane looked to Christina. “You brought your cat?” she asked as she began to pet him on his head which Sparky graciously accepted and started purring.
“Why not?” Crow asked as she put the Maine Coon in her lap and petted him while he purred in happiness. “I can see that Sparky likes you.” She paused. “The soldiers who brought my things here were nice enough to bring my cat too. I wouldn’t want him sitting in an apartment by himself with no one to feed him.”
Mark sighed in relief as he looked at his president and her cat. Shaking his head slightly he stated, “Madam President, we’ll need to convene a meeting of all the system governors in order to start the rebuilding process. That should be the easy part.” He sighed again, “The hard part will be deciding on a safe place to hold this meeting. We can’t put them all here, much as we’d like to. But I can’t think of anywhere on Terra to do so.”
“Why does it have to be on Terra?” the sergeant major asked rather matter-of-factly, “Why not in orbit?”
“In orbit?” Crow asked.
The senior noncom shrugged his shoulders, as if to say that the civilians in front of him should’ve figured it out by then. They chose to ignore the slight as the sergeant major went on. “We have dozens of orbital forts and defense platforms in high orbit. Not to mention the entirety of the two Terra Orbital Fleets and the Lunar Fleet. Any one of those installations or a capital ship could serve as the meeting place. It’d be all too easy to have a Space Force pinnace or a Marine assault shuttle ferry you up there. We’d just have to get you to the spaceport, and I can personally vouch for my men and women to get you there safely. Once you’re up there you’ll be under the Fleet’s protection as well as their Marines.”
“You’re right!” Crow said with a snap of her fingers on her right hand. “I didn’t think of that.” The noncom restrained himself from grinning. “Once we get the meeting announced we can move it to one of the orbital forts like you said.”
“It’ll take time,” Mark replied. “Those system governors will have to come to Terra and for some of them that’s a long haul even with the jump gates. It’ll be at least a week, maybe two for them to get here.”
“Well then, what are we waiting for?” Christina asked as she stood with her cat in her arms. “Sergeant major, please have your communications people get those dispatches sent out. Let me know when you have messages back from the system governors.”
The senior noncom snapped to attention, “Yes Madam President.”