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Val Or... [message #8432] Mon, 26 May 2014 12:24
catherd  is currently offline catherd
Messages: 2
Registered: February 2014
Location: the weird part of Texas
Junior Member

The mail held a small box. *Business cards?  Old customs die slowly.*  I slit the tape
with a nail.  Just as was ordered:
  Valerie Tucker, Ph.D.
  Conway Strategic Cyberdefense Fellow, DARPA

Dad would have been proud.  *Was proud,* I reminded myself. He'd seen me get the
job, just not the cards.  I blinked a few times. *Damn, need to fix my eyes.*  Or
maybe never show my face in public again.  *Shouldn't have stopped by work today.
Not a good day to be alone, but I'm the one who insisted.*  But given where I was 
headed it would be Ok to be a raccoon.

*Lynn Conway _Fellow_? I need a talk to Deb about DOD 'humor.'* 

The pitiful substitute for a 500-set bell interrupted my thoughts. I picked up. 
"Sleepover at Deb's tonight" said a familiar voice.

*Wait, was that the secure phone?*

Out through the lobby I paused as my hip ached.  *No, I am not getting that old.*   
Lobby TV showed Mike live on CNN in LA at the dedication of the new wing of 
George Lucas Hospital.  *Too public a commitment for the Surgeon General to get 
out of.  Dammit I need you mano.*

Beltway traffic overloaded my targeting computer so I switched it off and my music 
on. Eventually security waved my Tesla through the gates at Arlington, and I glided 
around the drive into a parking space.  *About half limos, typical.*  I still preferred 
to drive myself.

*Mirror check.*

*Yep, raccoon.* But I would be completely excused.

I hugged Mom in her wheelchair and then Brian before sitting between him and Trav.
He was was holding Little Jody who reached with a hungry look so I unbuttoned and 
she latched on. *Dammit girl, you're teething. Don't bite mom.*  *Ouch.*  Telepathy 
FAIL.  *Who is that older man at the end?  Naah, can't be."

*Hellicopters are too noisy to be used by humans* I decided, but Jody didn't fuss too 
much. A couple minutes later the President came by, bent down, and said something
I couldn't hear to Mom.  But I did hear the sobs.  Oddly, as I glanced over, I saw Mom
smile.

I'm not sure how I felt when I dropped the handful of moist red clay into the chasm 
holding Dad's coffin.  A while later we were at Deb's.  *I don't really remember the 
last two hours.*

The older man from graveside was here too and I recognized. *That's a surprise.* 

"Dawson?"

"Secretary Dawson to you, Tucker."

"Department of Education.  Suits you. I lost track of your career somewhere between 
City Council and Governor."

"Well, a lot of it's in the biography.  Didn't we teach you to read at McAllen?"

*Mike? He's across the continent. Why do I feel like he's here?*  Mike walked in along 
with Sabrina.  He just grabbed my hands.  

Sabrina hummed "Sing a Song of Sixpence" to Little Jody and winked at me.  

*Can't be.  We no longer fly them.*   

*Officially.* 

Lisa came in the room.  She made one hell of a First Lady.  *Pushing Mom's chair?*

Something was definitely up.

Deb finally entered and after hugs stepped to the dais.  And used her President 
Carstairs voice.

"I've gathered you for a few words that can't leave this room.  Likely it won't be 
declassfied in our lifetimes, though I've tried to ensure that Little Jody will have an 
opportunity to know about her grandfather.

"We all know that William Tucker---Bill---was a true patriot and a highly decorated 
hero in Vietnam. Survivor guilt on his face every Memorial Day.

"What you don't know is what he did that literally changed the direction this country 
could have gone.

"In mid 2001 Bill, with Tuck's help, was debugging a Freehold email account used by 
a student at a Florida flight school.  Tuck amused himself and broke the encryption. 
Then it was no longer amusing.

Bill's act that summer in bringing this to the attention of the right member of 
Congress is a national secret, directly leading to constitutional crisis of that year and
eventual impeachment of Bush the Lesser for treasonous disregard of our nation's 
security for political ends.  He did our foreign policy and our economy enough 
damage in eight months.

"Imagine if had been eight years.

"What you don't know is that this thwarted a terrorist plot that came very close to 
fruition.  I won't minimize our tragedy in the skies the day that several passengers 
were injured and killed by our air marshalls.  But had that not happened, the 
hijackers might have succeeded in their unthinkable violence and used airliners as 
missiles to damage, maybe destroy, landmark buildings up and down this coast.  
Maybe this historic home.  Maybe the Capital or the Pentagon.  Maybe the New York 
skyline would have changed.  

"Bill altered the course of American history for the better.  Someday his story will be 
told.  But for our lifetimes, the privacy he so valued protects his legacy.  May he rest 
in the peace he preserved for our nation.

Later that night after our tears were gone Deb switched on the grin.  "I've got an idea."


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