The Eden Prophecy [James Foster Adventures Book 4]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Gerald W. Mills
Category: Science Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
Description: Jim Foster's quest for meaning bears fruit even as he eludes a continental dragnet. An advanced society has chosen him to deliver an urgent warning to all mankind: Earth will enter a period of upheaval that will doom all life within 30 years, and humanity's survival requires global cooperation--now! James Foster Adventures Book 4.
eBook Publisher: Twilight Times Books, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [465 KB]
Reading time: 287-402 min.
Praise for The Mudslinger Sanction, book two in the series of the James Foster adventures. "...a fast-paced, action-packed tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat as it unfolds with the world as its stage. Danger lurks on every page." Anne K. Edwards, author of The Last to Fall.
Spaceship Grellen-6. | Earth date February 26.
The decision was Char-el's to make. His sudden transition to audible speech signaled the end of mental discussion among the remaining five who made up his staff. They closed their mental channels and waited, each wishing there were some other solution, yet sharing their mission commander's mood of urgency. Previous leaders had faced difficult choices for Earth, but none so heartbreaking or inescapable.
He met each expectant gaze, then drew a long breath. "There is no reason to further delay our warning. I'll return to Earth tonight and set things in motion."
Second in command Taryn shook her head sadly. "So much death, Char-el...."
"But unavoidable. We dare not accelerate our long-term solution... not yet. In the short term we are counting on unpredictable factors and may already be too late. This is the humane way."
"You will use James Foster for the warning?" she asked.
"If there is time and if he manages to stay alive. The United Nations action we've all monitored prior to this meeting has unfortunately put him in the gravest of danger, yet he is still the best of all our choices at this moment."
Five heads nodded.
"Our alternative," Char-el continued, "is to move this ship into their skies and hope that our predictions of human mass psychological responses are wrong. We have, of course, seen exactly the opposite during the Venus crisis, and mankind has not changed that much in the three millennia I've been in command. Merely showing our ship could result in several hundred million panic deaths and trigger global conflicts that will certainly include atomic and biological retaliations everywhere. That part is most predictable. Of what consequence would our warning be then? I will make myself and our mission known to Foster as quickly as practical. He has the required character traits many times over, and of course he is known to billions by his pseudonym, Mudslinger. Notoriety is essential in this case."
"Where will you meet?"
"He will develop a sudden urge to visit Finland with wife Tricia. I will make first contact there. My goal will be to move him to one of our sites where my message will impress him the most."
"No, not Giza. Manus. Its secrets will appeal to his engineering mind."
"What if he is wrong for the purpose, Char-el?" The question came from another of the five. "What if he balks for any number of reasons?"
"Then we know what we must do, regardless of the risk for humanity."
Quaker Hill, New York. | February 26.
NPA Special Projects director Howard Greenward was alone in his library when the story broke on the nightly news, something about the U.N. and a pair of "shocking new resolutions" passed that very afternoon. Half listening, he twisted his mouth with the adjective. Shocking? Was that what the man said? When had the U.N. General Assembly ever passed anything shocking? Yet CNN had assembled a panel of experts, led by Dr. Shelby Warren, to discuss the development.
CNN's Alex Travis had just asked Warren to explain whatever it was that was so shocking, and Warren seemed delighted with the question.
"The first resolution is more of a declaration than any call to action, Alex," he explained, chopping the air with both hands as if to emphasize every word he said. "It declares all terrorists and their supporters to be predators on the Society of Man, threats to the peace that are to be removed by any means possible. What it does is take away everything criminals have enjoyed up to now in the way of rights, things like lawyers, doctors, clerics, comfortable jails, decent food, visitors, fair trials, public advocacy... that type of thing. People who support terrorists in any way can lose their rights as well."
"Can you give us a few examples of support, Dr. Warren?"
"Sure. Comfort or concealment, food, shelter... withholding of information, just about anything that could help the terrorist. This can be taken to extremes, but whether it will remains to be seen. Now the phrase "removal of threats to the peace" appears in the opening paragraph of the original U.N. Charter, so that part isn't new. The difference, Alex, is that any member country can now remove individual threats to the peace without regard to due process, existing laws or the nationality of predators. No statutes of any kind, in any member country, can be used to provide haven or help the captive. Death or life in prison are the only two possibilities. Again, this redefines terrorists in new terms. It really doesn't change anything until they're caught, but then it removes all civility toward them."
"And the second resolution?"
"Ah, that's the real shocker. Returning to the original charter's opening paragraph, we run into the words 'suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.' Fancy language, but no teeth. The words apply to nations, not individuals or political movements, and we all know that terrorism has become a decentralized thing. Very hard to identify individual acts as being state sponsored. It would appear U.N . members were out for blood this afternoon, and the British came through with a proposal that would turn the original dishwater into acid. The idea is to name the terrorists, confirm their acts of aggression, put a bounty on their heads and pay off the executioners when bodies are produced."
"That is correct."
"The U. N. is sanctioning murder?"
"Right. The British used our American frontier days as the model. Gunslingers were our home-grown terrorists in those times. They murdered and robbed while helpless citizens wrung their hands and prayed. Decent men did their best to bring outlaws to justice back then, but were mostly losers until decency was put aside. Once the words DEAD OR ALIVE appeared on posters, our gunslinger era was soon over."
"Bounty hunters finished them?"
"Correct again. Bandits were tracked down, finished off and the reward claimed. End of story. The single bounty hunter was usually more effective than any posse. Now compare that to what is happening today, with political correctness and this pervasive concern about offending one person while trying to save thousands or even millions. The bounty solution will work, in my opinion. The list of terrorists grows longer each day despite ever-increasing rewards for information leading to capture, so the reward thing hasn't worked at all. Part of the problem is the reward itself. How big is ten million of anything to some tribesman, for example? Where can it be hidden? How long can the informer expect to remain alive? Thousands have already lost their lives, their families and friends killed, towns and all those in them destroyed in reprisals. As long as decent people persist in behaving decently, terrorism thrives, you see. So, yes, the bounty approach will indeed be sanctioning murder, but I think it will work."
Another of the panelists, Sidney Colson, raised a hand. "Dr. Warren, how will all the religions react to this?"
"There will a tremendous backlash from that quarter, possibly violent backlash. And there are the activists, and of course there can be errors--the occasional wrong person may be blown away and the bounty hunter made to suffer for his mistake--but infinitely more probable are mass deaths from one suicide bomber blowing himself up on a crowded train, or from bio-weapons or even the nuclear horror. The proposed solution may even spawn a new breed of suicide terrorists, working to earn recognition so the bounty applies to them, then offering themselves up for slaughter by their own people. The U. N. might actually end up funding terrorist causes, but remember that this is an assembly of nations, and they passed this resolution. It has teeth."
He paused only long enough to draw a fresh breath and reseat his glasses.
"On the flip side, since the time of huge rewards being offered for the capture of international criminals, nearly a thousand informants are known to have lost their lives through reprisals. An estimated ten times that number might be closer to the real thing." He glanced up as if looking at a teleprompter. "Ah... twenty-six were killed while under government-witness protection, and in one absurd case the informer and his family were all murdered while guards watched television across the hall. So that part is not working at all."
"But," Colson interrupted, "surely there have been beneficial results. You're only telling us about the negatives."
"Frankly, I wish there had been positives, and everyone seems to think there have been, but in truth there have been none worth mentioning. Not one single terrorist has been captured or killed as a direct result of information garnered this way. We've gotten a few bad guys using other methods over the years, yes, but not this way. In the same time span, terrorism has cost the free world nearly half a million lives and a trillion dollars."
Greenward poured himself three fingers of scotch and sat down to listen in earnest. The Brits were already calling it the Tombstone Resolution, named for the Arizona town. It stipulated a standard bounty for dead terrorists only, one million pounds Sterling in whatever currency the bounty hunter wished. It could be paid off in reindeer, if a Lapp turned in the body. Proof of the kill was still a challenge for the hunter, as a corpse had to be produced one way or another, and he was responsible for killing the wrong person. Yet the bounty was large enough to be shared, small enough to be real, and reprisals would be greatly lessened if the terrorist were dead instead of simply hiding.
Live terrorists were of no value whatsoever. If individual member countries wanted to continue their rewards for information, let them. They could jail or free their quarry as they saw fit, but if a bounty hunter got to the predator first, so be it. Further, sanctioned murder was not all that strange a concept, Warren explained. Advertisement of the fact was the only thing new. The scheme could fare no worse than previous methods, but here again, Warren stressed his opinion that it would work better.
"We have to ask ourselves what we want most. Terrorism is a disease like cancer that will kill us in the end if we don't cure it. We've always had the means to effect a cure, but not the will. This action by the U.N. corrects that."
Colson again. "By putting willful acts into the hands of individual... ah... murderers?"
"Exactly. Buy a gun, find someone on this new list of names, shoot him in the back or head and become an overnight millionaire as well as a hero. That's it in the most brutal terms. So, we end up as bad as the bad guys while we try to rid ourselves of them."
The Tombstone List of international terrorists would be updated weekly, published by the media in every member country, broadcast on the Internet in various ways and displayed in all police stations, post offices, libraries and other public buildings as chosen by each member country. Photos were encouraged.
Atrocities committed against any three sovereign countries, whether U.N. member nations or not, gained the perpetrators an automatic listing--their death sentence--if nominated. Once a name was on the list, any two countries could maintain the status. The nature of atrocities was of little significance, nor did the affected country or countries have an exclusive voice in listing a name. Any member nation or group of members could request a name be added to the list, once the atrocities and their perpetrators were identified, studied and detailed beyond all question, as long as the three-country rule was met. The nominating country had the right to remain anonymous. This aspect of the resolution assured that no single nation could be threatened with reprisals. "Beyond all question" was a burden to be satisfied by the nominating country.
The rest of CNN's panel got into it, with Travis playing moderator.
Atrocity was further defined as a "deliberate, destructive, wicked, cruel or brutal act resulting in loss of any kind, endangerment, disruption, injury, ruin, illness or death." The country so affected could be an incidental victim to an atrocity against some other country. A radioactive bomb or a bio-weapon, for example, might contaminate great areas. In such a case, all countries affected would count toward the minimum of three.
Finally, terrorists would be considered equally dangerous to society irrespective of religion, gender, age or mental state. An atrocity was just that. Accomplices? They were eligible for The List if their complicity was voluntary. In that event, they'd earned their death sentences, too.
The resolution had passed with almost the same majority as its predecessor.
Former Marine Lt. Colonel Howard Greenward clicked off the TV, saluted the blank screen and let out a whoop that would have made any Comanche envious. He then stood, executed a smart right-face, selected a metal dart from the half dozen standing in his pencil cup and hurled it at a life-sized photo on the wall. Thock! The dart hit James Foster's image smack between the eyes, adding another hole to the hundreds already there. A small piece of the target fluttered to the floor.
"You heard the man, Foster. The new game is called Name That Terrorist. I'm gonna show the world your picture and tell them who the Mudslinger really is." Thock! "You think not? You've already attacked two countries, sucker, so one more and you're history. Got a couple photos of you I couldn't use until now. Couldn't advertise your real name, either, but your Top Secret days are over. I'm a National Protection Agency bigshot these days, 'case you haven't been keeping up, and I'm about to make you a walking bull's eye, front and back."
Tricia's hole-ridden picture hung a few inches away from Foster's. The third dart added yet another puncture to one of the sapphire-blue eyes. "You, too, slut. I may not have many pics of your lover man, but I have a fistful of yours. You'll be right next to your lover."
Greenward's mouth curled a bit at one corner. Just one more country besides Russia and the U.S. Which one would it be? He picked up a final dart.