PYRAMIP POWER – snippet 54:



            Outside the club, while they waited for the limos, Senator Martinez leaned over and said softly to Melvin: “I still can’t believe she was dumb enough to authorize such a wild-ass project.”


            Steinmetz shrugged. “The problem isn’t her intelligence, Paula. She just still hasn’t learned the same lesson that the man who was possibly England’s most competent king had to learn the hard way.”


            Martinez frowned. “Which means…”


            “Do not state, in front of drunken and stupid knights—and someone like Megane makes up for sobriety by being at least as dumb as any knight who ever lived—‘will no one rid me of this turbulent priest’?”


            The California senator chuckled softly. “Oh, that Thomas à Becket business. In fairness, Melvin, she didn’t go that far.”


            Steinmetz gave her a cold eye. “I’m sure she didn’t suggest anyone commit murder. But who knows what other foolishness she set in train, Paula? Who knows what cowboy agents will do, or try to do, if they think they’re interpreting tough talk properly?” He gave Garnett a look that was colder still. She was standing out of hearing range thirty feet away, talking with the secretary of defense. “And unfortunately, that’s Helen Garnett’s stock in trade. Talking tough.”




            “The problem with Scandinavian mythology,” said Dr. Gunnarsson, finishing his presentation to the Senate committee the next morning, “is that the area was thoroughly Christianized. Reading Dr. Lukacs’ debriefing report it seems pretty certain that we need some deity or power in the Ur-Mythology that is also worshiped in earnest here, acting as a linkage.”


            Miggy took it from there, to the room full of powerful people. “There is plainly more to belief than even churchmen were sincerely able to appreciate. We’re also getting hints that not all ‘believers’ are identical. Careful measurements of the pyramid expansion indicate that although it grew slightly with all intakes, it grew at different rates with each person. Look, we know from the debriefing reports that the Krim expected the pyramid to cross some threshold relatively soon. We do not know at what point that happens. We simply cannot take a chance that through badly researched cowboy efforts, following a very private agenda, the PSA is going to put the country in jeopardy. Under military control, containment and isolation worked. We had zero growth and zero snatches for three weeks, Senators. We can cope with that. What we can’t cope with has been the results of this foolishness. I’ve presented the evidence to you, and later on in the hearings you’ll be able to hear the eyewitness testimony of such people as Sergeant Cruz and Corporal McKenna and their families, as well as Colonel McNamara and the Greek sphinx Throttler. There is simply no longer any question that the PSA operatives took highly unauthorized actions. I’m sure Director Garnett will insist that none of these actions were authorized by her, and that may well be true. But whether authorized or not, they were done by people on her staff, and on her watch.”




            By the early afternoon, as he watched from the audience, Melvin Steinmetz knew that Helen Garnett was in deep trouble.


            And it only got worse after she took her seat at the witness table. Not more than two minutes after Helen finished her opening remarks, Senator Larsen picked up a piece of paper in front of him. An aide had just slid it in front of him. The fact that the senator didn’t give it more than a glance made clear to Melvin that Larsen already knew what it contained. In fact, he was pretty sure having the aide hand it to him in front of the whole room was simply the senator’s clever stage management.


            Rustling the paper in front of the microphone, the senator from Montana said:


            “I was wondering if you could shed some light on this subject, as well, Director. I’ve just received a report from Director O’Hare of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who’ll be testifying tomorrow or the day after. But he felt this item of information was important enough to ask me to bring it up immediately. Fish and Wildlife did blood tests on the Greek sphinx Throttler and discovered that your PSA agents had injected her with a tranquilizer after they got her on board the cargo plane.” He glanced back and forth along the long hearing table, making eye contact with as many other senators as he could. “I hope I don’t need to point out to the senators here that any such action is a gross violation of the law. I was wondering if you could explain to us how that criminal action came about.”


            Garnett stared at him, for a moment, seeming to be frozen. Like a rabbit in front of a snake. Watching her closely, Steinmetz was quite sure the information came as a complete surprise to her.


            Marvelous. The captain of the ship had just found out that she had loose cannons rolling all over the deck. Melvin lifted his eyes and exchanged a glance with Senator Martinez, sitting at the long table with the other senators. After a couple of seconds, she looked away. Fortunately, she had an excellent poker face.


            “Well… I certainly don’t know anything about it, Senator,” insisted Garnett. “I can assure you—”


            Larsen cut her off abruptly. “Assure me of what? That you’ve lost control of your own subordinates? That much is obvious. Even leaving aside this latest escapade involving the sphinx, your PSA agents ran roughshod over officers and enlisted men of one of our nation’s most decorated military units, even going so far as kidnapping—yes, that’s what it amounts to, for all practical purposes—the families of two of its soldiers.” He let that sit for a moment. Then added, grimly: “This is a nation of laws, Ms. Garnett. Even the Alien Pyramid Security Act—which I opposed at the time, and now intend to see repealed if I can—is a law. It is not a blank check.”


            Quietly, Melvin Steinmetz rose from his seat and made his way toward the exit at the rear of the big chamber.


            Time to bail out. Miggy was partial to Italian food, if he remembered correctly. Maybe he’d be free for lunch in a day or two.