Per Ardua Ad Astra
Chapter 28: Report to DC
Copyright© 2013 by normist
Our meeting that morning, brought us up to date with each others activities and enabled us to combine our reports for the following week. When we came to the Centauran data, the meeting grew more animated. The pictures and video that we shot produced so many questions that I asked Phyllis to produce enough copies of the encyclopedia, dictionary and the language primer to give everybody at the meeting, a set each.
After lunch, Captain Sims, the Base commander, brought me up-to-date on what had been happening locally. The first stage of the construction of married quarters had been completed by the Seabees. The families of staff that had been recruited from the Air Force Base, had been moved in. In addition, some of the scientists' families had also been moved in.
There were too many people to transport to DC in the Enterprise, so the rest of the party travelled in a shuttle. We landed at Andrews Navel Air Station and from there, a pair of stretch limos took us the last twelve miles to the Hay-Adams Hotel on 16th Street NW. Entering the lobby, I found Bob Mather waiting for me.
"Good evening, Admiral."
"Good evening, Bob, I take it that you're here to escort me?"
"Yes. Dinner is in thirty five minutes, and we can't leave it to the last minute to arrive. How soon can you be ready?"
"Give me twelve minutes to freshen up and change and I'll be ready to take on anybody."
I took the proffered key from him and made for the elevator. We had arrived wearing our fatigues. Our dress uniforms had been delivered only two days before and had yet to be worn in anger. They were blue in a lighter shade than used by the Air Force, but otherwise followed the Coast Guard uniforms in basic design.
Ten minutes later, after a quick shower, I was back in the lobby dressed in my finery. Bob gave me the once over, before he grabbed my arm and dragged me out to a limo waiting to take us to the White House.
Over dinner, I described the voyage of the Endeavour. The President and the First Lady were saddened and then excited by the tale of the Centaurans.
"Is that the reason you told me to consider the 'Prime Directive'?"
"Yes, Sir, although from what we've discovered since, they appear to have been receiving regular visits over the years. As far as we can calculate, their final conflict and exodus occurred between three and four hundred years ago. They've lost a lot of their scientific abilities over those years, but they still retain some knowledge of what they've lost."
"Do you think that they would accept assistance from us?" asked the President.
"We know that they've turned down assistance from their other visitors. They seem to want to make it on their own. I think that they've been grateful for the interest that the visitors have shown them, but they still want to go their own way."
"Do you think that they would tolerate or even welcome a visit from us?"
"I just don't know, Sir. I think we'll probably have to continue observing them from space until we find out what their reaction would be."
That's how we left it. Bob drove me back to our hotel saying that he would pick up our party at a quarter to nine the following morning.
At breakfast, the next morning, I told my party that the head of our so-called Advisory Committee was antagonistic to the Service. I told them of my encounters with Doctor Gentry and how annoyed he had been with the four of his staff that had left NASA to join the Space Service. I suggested, therefore, that they need not reply to his questions unless that I indicate that they should. There were several nodding heads while I was talking as they had heard of my run-ins with the good Doctor previously.
We were waiting in the lobby when Bob's limos drew up. After the drive which hardly seemed worth it, we were driven up to the entrance of the White House. Bob led us to the Conference room, to find that we were the first ones there. John White and Thomas Long set up the computer and projector for our report.
We were all sitting on one side of a long table, and were facing the door when it opened. Doctor Gentry entered talking over his shoulder to someone. He turned seeing us for the first time. He stopped so suddenly that the person behind crashed into him.
"What ... What is the meaning of this? Admiral Axon, I demand an explanation."
He stood with one hand on the back of a chair. The other members representing his Advisory Committee crowded in behind him. Before I could reply, Another door opened and the President entered, followed by Bruce Gordon, the Secretary of State, and Bob Mather. Our Party stood.
"Please be seated," said the President taking his place at the end of the table.