The Scorpion's TailBook - 2021
From the critics
QuotesAdd a Quote
It’s not enough to succeed; others must fail.
Corrie felt bad for the kid, and then felt bad for feeling bad — because, after all, he’d hacked into a classified network at Los Alamos National Laboratory “just for fun.” Now his computers, external hard drives, iPhone, USB sticks, PlayStation, and even home security system were all loaded into the black Navigator with tinted windows that was following their vehicle with Agent Liz Khoury at the wheel and Agent Harry Martinez riding shotgun.
“... Smart kid, stable middle -class home, straight -A student, promising future. That in a way makes it worse than, say, some kid who grows up in the inner city and starts dealing drugs because it’s all he knows. Our boy is eighteen, he’s an adult, and he broke into a system that holds classified nuclear bomb information.”
“Remember Frank Wills?” “Was he an FBI agent?” “No. He was a hotel security guard. One night, he noticed that a couple of door latches had been taped open.” Corrie waited to hear more, wondering where Morwood was going with this. “Seemed like a pretty small thing,” he continued. “Doors get taped for convenience all the time in hotels. But Frank mulled it over and decided to notify the police — even if they laughed at him for calling them about something as stupid as a couple of taped locks.” He waited for Corrie’s reaction, a small smile on his face. “So what happened then?” “Watergate,” said Morwood.
Sheriff Watts came out right away, and Corrie had her first shock of the morning. Instead of the jowly, mustachioed good old boy she expected, Watts was around her age — twenty -three — tall, fit, and handsome as hell, with curly black hair above a smooth brow, brown eyes, and a movie-star smile. Accentuating the look were the two antique revolvers he wore, one on each hip.
“South of us, that’s the Jornada del Muerto desert and the San Andres Mountains. That’s all part of the White Sands Missile Range, where the army folks play with their weapons.” Fountain said, “In Spanish, Jornada del Muerto means ‘journey of death.’ The old Spanish trail from Mexico City to Santa Fe crossed that desert, over a hundred miles. The trail was paved with bones and lined with crosses.”
“And to the southeast of us is the Mescalero reservation. Beautiful country. That rez is where the last of Geronimo’s Chiricahua Apache band finally settled. Geronimo, Cochise, Victorio — those great chiefs used to roam all through these mountains.” Corrie could hear a strong love of the land in Fountain’s voice, and oddly, it made her envious. She had no love for her own hometown of Medicine Creek, Kansas, and never planned to go back. She’d rather go to hell.
This cave was one of hundreds carved into the volcanic tufa of northern New Mexico, part of an ancient Pueblo settlement called Tsankawi. It was tangential to the Bandelier National Monument, a complex of caves, ladders, trails, and a mesa -top ruin. The view from the mesa was amazing — the ancestral Pueblo people really liked their views — looking across the valley of the Rio Grande to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, twenty miles away, covered by a fresh dusting of snow. And all this, Nora thought, was a few scant miles from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where they had designed and built the first atomic bomb.
“The guys?” Corrie replied. “You mean, the ones with a dick between their legs ? ’ Cause that sure doesn’t apply to you. Only a dickless wonder would find that schoolboy prank so hilarious, especially in a setting like this.
New Mexico was first settled by Europeans in 1598 by the Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate and a group of European colonists, along with a number of friars. Those padres fanned out to all the subjugated Puebloan Indian settlements along the Rio Grande, where they built mission churches. These churches needed ecclesiastical goods — crosses, bells, chalices, statues of the Virgin, that sort of thing. So a lot of workshops in Mexico City began churning out holy items to supply the churches along the northern frontier. Since they had access to plenty of gold, silver, and gems pouring out of the mines, some of these religious articles were quite spectacular. They were carried up from Mexico City and distributed to the mission churches across New Mexico.
“The test was conducted in the Jornada del Muerto desert about thirty -five miles southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, on what was then the USAAF Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, now part of White Sands Missile Range.”
“In 1680, the Indians rose up, killed four hundred settlers and dozens of padres, and drove the rest of the Spanish out of New Mexico. This was the Pueblo Revolt. The Pueblo Indians proceeded to erase every trace of Spanish occupation. They destroyed houses, burned churches, smashed the crosses, and ground up the statues. Anyone who’d been baptized was ritually washed clean. All marriages performed by a padre were dissolved. That’s why it’s rare to find an object that survived the destruction — particularly one made of gold.”
Morwood came up and shook Nora’s hand. “I want to thank you, Dr. Kelly, for speaking today.” “Of course.” “There was quite a lot of interest in the cross, as you saw.” “Gold, gems, lost mines — that gets people’s attention.”
Wikipedia. “Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 AM on July 16, 1945.”
“Where are all the bomb craters?” she asked. The general laughed over the rush of air. “This is the largest military installation in the United States — the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The areas used for testing comprise less than one -tenth of one percent. Basically, this is one of the best -preserved landscapes in all of the Southwest.”
“Oryx?” “A big antelope with long, straight horns. They escaped from a game ranch in the thirties and thrive here, because they don’t need to drink water.”
This is where we developed many of our short -and medium -range missiles, starting with V -2 missiles appropriated from the Germans right after World War Two, the Viking rockets, the Nike and Patriot air defense systems. These days, of course, there’s a lot of drone testing in partnership with Holloman AFB, which is adjacent. We’re also home to the White Sands Space
“It’s good to have compassion. That’s something a lot of agents lose over time. But balance it with a sense of justice. He’s going to get a fair trial in front of twelve ordinary, commonsense Americans. That’s how it works — and it’s a beautiful system.”
“Missile dogs?” Watts asked. The general smiled. “Missiles don’t always behave like they should, especially during testing. Sometimes they explode in midair or fall apart, and the pieces that come down will be lost to radar. It can be hell to find them — not to mention that impact speed sometimes buries the parts in the sand. So we spray the critical parts with shark -liver oil. In the case of a loss, we helicopter the dogs and their handlers to the debris area — and they’ll have it swept clean before you know it.”
“History has taught me some hard truths. Those Apaches were just fighting to keep their homeland — no different from what our forefathers did in the Revolution. We were in the wrong with regard to the Apaches, and it’s a great shame to our — ah, take a look over there — a herd of oryx ! ”
“During the Pueblo Revolt,” Watts said, “the Spanish padres supposedly gathered up all the wealth from their churches and were transporting it to Mexico when they were waylaid by Apaches. They left the trail and hid the treasure in an old mine somewhere in this area, then blocked the entrance.
“Bliss and WSMR are more like night and day. Fort Bliss houses armored divisions, brigades, and an air defense command. Oh, and an intelligence center for tactical ops. Fort Bliss is the real deal … and they don’t give tours.”
The place reminded her of the old double -wide she’d shared with her mother, growing up in Medicine Creek. There was the same atmosphere of loneliness, of lost hopes and dreams, of the long decline of opportunity, slipping away like sand between one’s fingers.
“Do you know why 3M called it Scotch tape?” “No idea.” “Because when it was first being developed, adhesive was applied only along the edges, instead of the entire strip. Someone joked that such parsimoniousness was typically Scotch — the Scottish people being stereotyped at the time for their, shall we say, excessive frugality.”
…narrow channel of sandstone, hundreds of feet deep but only a dozen or so feet wide. There are quite a few in the Southwest.” She tapped the dark semicircle gently with a gloved fingertip. “This section, here, is known locally as El Anzuelo, which is Spanish for fishhook — for obvious reasons. And the ridge curving across the eastern side of the frame is a section of Navajo Ridge.”
Age SuitabilityAdd Age Suitability
There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.
SummaryAdd a Summary
There are no summaries for this title yet.
There are no notices for this title yet.