July 20th, 1969
Carter Monaghan was not a happy man.
"'... and several hundred pages of advanced numerical simulations
xerographed and sent, via commercial courier, to Jefferson City,'"
Liddy continued reading. "In short, Governor, we are packed."
In other men, Monaghan might have upbraided the vulgarity; but
Timothy Liddy was Carter's own bad man, who dated back to his days
at Treasury, and -- still -- made a fine head of the CBI.
"Is the work of one man really so crucial to our atomics program?"
Monaghan asked. Liddy shrugged; Science Advisor Mayfield picked up
"I would have to say that he was, Governor Monaghan. The Super was
formed out of Doctor Urquell's unique vision. To create a device that
would harness the power of the sun..." Mayfield paused delicately.
"And use it to flambee the gringoes down South," Liddy finished.
"Except they managed to find the lever to turn Urquell right back
It was an unpleasant picture. Mexican emigre scientists had formed
the backbone of the research teams that had built the Kramer bomb,
the British bomb, and even the Confederation's bomb, gutting the
Mexican atomic program in the process. But Mercator -- damn the man's
low animal cunning -- managed to turn Northwest University's top
physicist renegado, despite the manifold improbabilities in the idea.
"And will this 'Super' fly?"
"By our calculations, yes. With a relatively simple design, it should
be possible to create a blast equivalent to one million tons of
trinitrotoluene. The first Kramer bomb, in comparison, could only
manage a thirty-thousand ton blast."
One million tons of trinitrotoluene. In Carter Monaghan's days as
Treasury Minister, he would sometimes attempt to visualize the
numbers of CNA pounds or Mexican dolares he worked with by relating
them to commonplaces. Thirty thousand, that was half the capacity
of Three Rivers Stadium, or a little less. At two thousand pounds
each, each fan could buy a new Marillac.
But one million tons, the population of Burgoyne was only two million.
That would be one thousand pounds of high explosive for every man,
woman, and child in Burgoyne.
"My." It was all that Monaghan's father had said, standing on the
front porch of his Dickinson County farmhouse, watching the South
Vandalian horizon become engulfed in a cloud of dust. "My, my."
The formal briefing soon concluded, Liddy hung back at his boss's
"Timothy, what _really_ happened with this Stephen Urquell? We both
know that Mercator has as little use for the black man as Thomas
Liddy silently pulled a photograph from his briefing folder.
"_This_ is Doctor Urquell?" Monaghan shuddered.
"And this is Senorita Maria Francesca Cameron-Diaz, of Jefferson
City, and more recently, a habitue of Michigan City's _bon temps_
circles. An actress." Another photograph.
"And this is her boon companion, Geraldina Hall, an occasional runway
model in Milan and Buenos Aires. Also from Jefferson."
"Their mutual acquaintance, Teresa Ciccone, of the Capitol District.
Cabaret singer touring NA, many admirers. A bottle blonde, by the way."
"And this is..."
Monaghan raised a hand. "All right, all right. I get the picture,"
running his hand over his thinning hair. "Dammit, what am I supposed
to do now..."
Timothy Liddy stood alert, obedient to his master's next suggestion.