Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 6: The Presidential Blessing
Copyright© 2013 by normist
An officer was waiting for us by the door. As we reached him, he said, "The President would like to meet you and all of your crew."
I turned to Susan and called to her, "bring everybody with you and come with us."
I addressed the officer, "Lay on MacDuff."
I don't think he recognized the quote from 'MacBeth'. He looked slightly taken aback and said, "My name is not MacDuff, Sir. It is MacBain."
"Then lead on MacBain."
"Yes, Sir, please come this way."
By this time, the others had joined us on the ground. As we approached the President's podium, he stepped down and approached us with hand held out.
"Professor Burton, Doctor Axon, welcome to Washington. I was so excited to follow your exploits on the internet, from the time I was informed about it. Perhaps, you would be so kind to introduce your colleagues to me."
James worked his way through the introductions, including Adam, our Patent Attorney and the man from the Patent Office. James explained that our presence in Washington was due to the need to demonstrate the Enterprise in order to get a patent on the drive.
"And how did you enjoy the demonstration?" the President asked the man from the Patent Office.
"I must confess, Mister President, that I did not believe the application at first. The demonstration came as a shock to my system. It was quite scary."
"But it must have been a great experience. One that I wish I could have."
"Then why not let us take you, Mister President? We could take you on a brief tour and still have you home by teatime." James said.
"I'm afraid they wouldn't let me."
The President turned and looked at his bodyguard who shrugged to indicate that it was up to the President to decide.
The President looked back at James and said, "Yes, damn it, let's do it."
"Please come this way," said Susan.
She led the President to the stairs up to the Enterprise. James beckoned to the Secret Service bodyguard and we all followed the others, including the man from the Patent Office. I think he wanted to be conscious for this trip. Once aboard, we seated the President in the jump seat just behind and between the pilot and co-pilot's seats.
"Washington International. This is Space Ship One. Over"
The change in designation, by Benson, startled me. Then it dawned on me. If you have Air Force One or Marine One, there should be a Space Ship One. Good for Benson.
"Space Ship One. This is Washington International. You are cleared for takeoff. Out and have a safe voyage."
I deliberately took off more slowly than usual to give our guests an aerial view of Washington. Shortly we reached an altitude where the sky darkened. The President made a request.
"Do you think we could do a flyby of the International Space Station?"
"Surely," I replied. "Who would know where it is?"
"They would, Sir," said Benson. "I'll try and raise them. Alpha, Alpha, this is Space Ship One calling. Over."
"Space Ship One, this is Alpha. Over."
"Alpha, Space Ship One. Whereabouts are you, or rather where will you be in about ten minutes. Over."
There was a short pause, then, "Space Ship One, Alpha. We'll be about 675,000 feet above a point about twenty miles south of Hawaii. Over."
"Alpha, Space Ship One. See you there. Out."
I aimed the Enterprise seven and a half degrees north of west and our distance to 4,750 miles. I applied the drive and we were looking down at the earth with Hawaii in the distance.
I heard a soft, "Wow" from the seat behind me. I scanned the radar screen and after a few moments, spotted the Space Station coming up fast. I soon matched their speed and was moving alongside them. We could see two faces looking at us from the cupola.
"Is it possible for me to speak to them?" asked the President.
"I'll try to raise them," replied Benson.
A few moments later, he handed the President his microphone.
"This is your President speaking. I want you to know that we all think that you are doing a great job up here."
"Over," said Benson.
"Sorry, old dear. You're not our President. I'm an Aussie and Tobias, here, is British. Over."
Everyone was trying to suppress smiles, even the President, I thought.
"My fault for assuming. We still think you are doing a grand job."
He handed the microphone back to Benson who said, "Out."
"Is there something else we could show you, Mister President?" I asked.
There are two things I have always wished that I could see with my own eyes."
"And what are those, Sir?"
"One is that face on Mars."
"Ah! In Cydonia," I said, "and the other?"
"The volcanoes on that moon of ... is it Jupiter?"