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For All Nails # 153:  Notes from the Investigation, pt. 1

By Noel Maurer and Dan McDonald

Coyoacán, Chiapas
3 January 1975

Immanuel Moctezuma entered the office on the 23rd floor of Navy
Headquarters on the War Department campus.  It was the first time he
had been in the NUSM pyramid.  In fact, this visit had been the first
time since becoming President that he had even seen NUSM officers
wearing anything other than dress whites.  That, however, was a
phenomenon of the past.  Now he was the Commander-in-Chief as well as
the President.

An armed man in a brown Constabulary uniform pounded on the office
door.  A man wearing lieutenant commander's stripes on his dark blue
uniform opened it.  He immediately jumped to attention when he saw who
was behind the constabulario.

"All rise for the President!" he shouted.  The men behind him, and
they were all men, dropped what they were doing and presented arms.  A
few pens clattered to the ground.

The President and his Chief of Staff pushed forward into the office. 
It was crowded with desks and filing cabinets.  There were even some
calculators scattered around.

"Carry on!" barked the President.  The assembled naval officers
dropped their salutes, but none relaxed.  This was unprecedented, if
not entirely unexpected, a visit from the President of the United
States of Mexico!

"Where's Commodore Bain?" asked El Popo.

"Here, sir," came a voice from the back of the room.  

"Commodore Bain.  Good to see you.  This is Chewy Enciso, my chief of
staff.  Do you have a private office where we can talk?"

"Uh, yes sir," said the young --- for his rank --- naval officer. 
"Right in here, sir."  He moved to a door fronted in translucent
glass.  The president nodded at the constabulario, who opened the
door, looked around, and motioned them in.  The office, like the rest
of the War Department that the president had seen, was not
ostentatious.  Apparently the only thing ostentatious about the War
Department complex was the exterior, a frightening collection of
pyramids reminiscent of ancient Tenochtitlán, decorated with complex
and baroque tile murals representing Mexican history from the Conquest
to the Wilderness Walk to Manumission.  The interior, well, the
interior looked like any collection of cheap cubicles anywhere.

Once they were inside, the door shut, the President got to business. 
"Commodore Bain.  I have heard very positive things about you."

"Thank you, Mr. President."  Commodore Daniel Bain kept his composure,
but he was a little bit discomfitted by the attention.  In the past
week Constabulary officers had gone over every little bit of his life,
trying to insure where his loyalty lay.  The entire Navy had been
turned upside down, what with the disappearance of the Admiral, half
the NUSM's general staff, and an entire naval battle group ---which
appeared to have ended up in the hands of the FANG.  Still, the Navy
had never gotten along particularly well with the Secretary of War,
and, unlike the poor Army, the Constabulary had let up on what
remained of the top brass in the last few days.

"You know why I'm here," continued the President.  It was a test.

Bain passed it.  "The reactors, Mr. President?"

El Popo nodded.  "I want to know where the research took place and
their current status."

"Well, Mr. President, I think the research was completed near the
I-don't-need-to-know location of the K-bomb program.  That was an Army
project.  Secretary Mercator deliberately kept the Navy out of it.  As
for the first applications, the USS Cochise is based in Pearl Harbor.
You'd never know it from a flyover.  It's pen looks like an ordinary
aircraft hangar that just happens to have its back to the docks."  The
Commodore paused.  "Uh, Mr. President, I hope Secretary Mercator
didn't have _his_ people in Pearl.  Otherwise, we've lost our only
operational prototype.  If we have the Cochise, and its operational
data, we probably can commission the Alaska-class aircraft carriers,
and have them ready in 2 years, modulo snags, and there probably will
be in the reactors."

"The designs are complete on the Alaska class?" asked Chewy.

"Yes, sir, we're ready to start construction once we know that the
reactor design works," answered the Commodore.

"What reason to we have to keep the program under wraps?" asked the

"Sir, we can declassify the Cochise at your whim.  I'd suggest
waiting, however, until Cochise's friends Black Hawk and Sitting Bull
have started their sea trials.  Assuming Secretary Mercator doesn't
have them as well."  The Commodore looked worried.

Chewy and the President looked at each other.  They had to trust
someone, and Commodore Bain had passed all the security checks.  The
President answered the Commodore's implicit question.  "Mercator's
people were at Pearl.  The Cochise is gone, and has been since before
Christmas."  He let that sink in.  "We still have the other two.  I
think."  He looked at his Chief of Staff.  Chewy nodded affirmative. 
The Commodore looked relieved ... well, he looked less worried.

"Commodore, is there anything else I should know about the program?"

Worried or not, Commodore Bain thought on his feet.  "Sir, if, uh,
certain allies had, er, _partial_ specs on the Cochise, we might have
an easier time hunting it.  I can make sure that these flaws are at
least partially addressed on the Black Hawk and Sitting Bull, sir."

"Good idea," said the President.  He glanced at Chewy, and Chewy
nodded.  Assuming that "certain allies" meant the Reichsmarine (and
what else would it mean from a naval officer?), it would happen. 
"You'll need to send us a report on those design flaws, Commodore. 

"Yes, sir.  I can have it for you the day after tomorrow, sir."  Still
thinking on his feet, Commodore Bain seized the opportunity.  "Sir,
while I've got you here we need to decide which design we'll take for
the new carrier-launch interceptor.  I like Malverde's design myself,
but my vaquero friends insist that Resnick's is better.  Given these
are the same vaqueros who swear by the Diablo, that's high praise.  I
think you should talk to Captain Tuttle, in Aircraft Development. 
He's Navy, sir."  The implication that Army officers couldn't be
trusted was left unsaid.

"You'll have the chance to make that recommendation more formally,
Admiral Bain," said the President.  The look of confusion on Bain's
face was priceless.  "You're in charge of both programs now.  I expect
regular status reports, and I want that report on the Cochise design
flaws _tomorrow_, not the day after.  Mr. Bisteni from the
Constabulary thinks highly of you.  I want you to pick your own team,
but in close consultation with Bisteni.  You'll have access to him, of
course, and I hope that soon these tonterías can end, but for now así
es."  He paused.  "I want the submersibles up and running as soon as
possible, and I want detailed status reports about the reactors on my
desk twice a week.  Do what you have to do to make that happen.  Me

"Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir.  You can count on me, sir."

"I know that.  I'm looking forward to those reports, Admiral."  The
president saluted the new admiral, whose snapped to attention and
presented arms back.  Then El Popo nodded, and motioned to Chewy and
their uniformed guarrua that it was time to leave.  The investigation
was not over, there was a lot more work to do, and a lot more people
to surprise.