Mary Ann Mogus
Walker is the third book in a ‘what if’ series about the
Civil War. The action takes place in a number of alternate
universes. Most ‘what if’ Civil War stories revolve
around the South winning the war. This series asks the question:
What would happen of the North and South were forced to fight a
technologically superior opponent? The answer follows the adventures
of a number of individuals as they are dawn into this conflict that
escalates from nineteenth-century warfare to a twentieth- first
century war. The following is the first chapter of the book which is
available from Wings-ePress, Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a
paperback, an E-book and a number of other mobile platforms.
universes are at the same place, but not all are at the same time. — Codex
of Flowering Butterfly
14, 1961 (Universe U0)
Eagle climbed from the blue, gold, and white airplane, while a
mechanic hurried to greet him.
Medicine Man how’s the engine?”
purring like a fat, sassy cat.” Gray Eagle smiled at the use
of the nickname he had acquired during his stint with the army.
“Sam, you’ve worked miracles.”
easy when you have good material, as they say in Hollywood.”
Sam rubbed his hands against his greasy overalls. “But then
Hollywood doesn’t have an aeronautical engineer like you. I’ll
miss you when Connie and I leave to start the business.”
miss you too. The only mechanic I know who’s better than you
Eagle felt a sudden twinge of nostalgia for the man who had taught
him so much about airplanes. He wondered where Gordo, R. Gordon
Sykes, was now. He hadn’t heard from the man since ’52.
It was a shame the way once close friends often lost touch with
interrupted his musings. “So you think you and the team will
be ready for the August air show?”
provided Amber doesn’t burn out one of the engines.”
little hellion,” Sam agreed. “Not yet eighteen and too
smart for her own good.”
Eagle nodded, sobering at the thought of his pupil Amber Valic. She
and the other six pilots were the children of the scientists and
technicians working at ISIR, the Institute for Scientific
Investigation and Research. But she was far ahead of her
contemporaries in many ways, not all of them guaranteed to give her
smooth flying in life.
out the other planes, will you, Sam? I’ve a meeting with
Julian at eleven.”
gave Gray Eagle a mock salute and hurried away. Gray Eagle watched
for a moment, before staring at the sky empty of clouds. He lowered
his gaze as one of his team started a landing approach. The runways
of the private airport baked under a sun the color of melted butter.
The air had a hot, dry smell to it, a smell he identified with the
season. It was in stark contrast to the North Dakota reservation
where he had been born.
Eagle glanced at his watch, an ever-present goad to action. No one
kept Indian time here. He hadn’t kept it since he left the
reservation in ’41. He hummed a song as he walked toward the
hangar, set parallel to the North South runway. It was a Quonset hut
type building; the roof and walls supported by a metal skeleton. The
hangar would house two of the Merlins Gray Eagle had designed.
designs were based on the P-51 fighter used in WWII. He wondered if
Julian Barstead, a man he considered a brother, was right about
looking for a company to manufacture the new aerobatics planes. It
would bring in extra money for ISIR, not that the institute needed
funds. Barstead had a top engineering mind and the royalties from
his patents were more than sufficient to keep ISIR in funds for
years. It was Cc Rierdon, one of the anthropologists at the
institute, who had the knack for investments.
Julian lets Cc have his hand in the stock market, we’ll need no
more government contracts ever,” Gray Eagle said out loud as he
made his way to the empty hangar. “What a blessing that would
be. I hate the security issues.”
walked into the shade of the hangar with more spring in his step than
he had felt for some time. Yes, both the planes and his pupils
were performing well. They would be ready for the air show.
by the thought, he turned to watch the second Merlin land. Heat
flared in his stomach and he gasped as if he had been punched. He
knew it was the sudden touch of a vision. The scene before him took
on a mottled grainy appearance as if he were looking at billions of
tiny colored dots. Gray Eagle grabbed at the side of the hangar
entrance, anchoring his body to the earth.
he pleaded. “Not now not after ten years.” He knew there
was no way to stop the coming vision; there never had been.
graininess of his sight was followed by a prickling sensation as if
he were passing through an electric membrane. Instantly his sight
cleared. For a moment he thought the vision had passed. The scene
before him was the same as when the sensations began, but the buzzing
in his head was still present.
not stopped. He called upon his power animals to help him, but
the answer was a sudden appearance of two Merlins leaping into the
sky like young, winged colts. The planes gained altitude, did a snap
roll, and climbed higher before starting the Immelman maneuver, an
old trick learned by pilots during the First World War to turn the
tables on an attacker when both planes disappeared into a thick bank
sight of clouds in an otherwise cloudless sky reminded Gray Eagle
that the vision was happening in his head and not on the airfield
outside the confines of the hangar. As the vision continued, his
mind was enveloped by smoke filled with the acrid stench of
gunpowder, fear, and death. Voices called from a dark wind
surrounding him but their words were indistinct.
was no longer in the hangar, but on a hill pitted by repeated
shelling, and surrounded by two nebulous armies. His only clear view
was of the sky and the hefty cloudbank into which the little Merlins
had disappeared only moments ago. His eyes caught movement as the
planes reappeared. But where two planes had gone into the clouds,
three tore through, diving toward the ground in what he recognized as
a strafing attack.
the hell?” he said, ducking to one side.
planes were P-40s, just like the ones he had flown in China in ’41
when he, Barstead, Gordo, and his old teacher Murphy, had fought in
the Chinese Air Corps. He would recognize the shark’s teeth on
the nose symbol anywhere. But his eyes caught a detail the planes he
flew never had. It looked as if someone had painted white blotches
on the body and wings in a careless attempt at what?
scene collapsed. His sight readjusted to the airfield before him and
two figures running toward him. The sound of engines filled his
ears, followed by the routine crackle of static on the small radio in
the hangar, and the smell of stale oil and grease. His forehead was
beaded with sweat. His palm slid from the hangar’s edge,
catching on a sharp piece of metal, the bite of pain forcing him to
Eagle!” Amber reached him as he dropped to his knees. “Help
me, Roger!” she shouted to her companion.
helped Gray Eagle to a chair beside the table that supported the
radio and piles of books and papers. He nodded his thanks, strength
slowly filling his body, some of it directed to him by the young
people standing on either side of his chair. He was grateful he had
taught them the ways of medicine just as he had taught them to fly.
had a vision?” Amber said with the hint of accusation.
shook his head; not wanting to tell her what he had learned as the
vision collapsed. That he knew she and Roger were two of the pilots
in the planes of his vision and that he wasn’t the third. He
reached for the medicine bag he always carried around his neck.
Warmth and energy touched his hand and filled his spirit.
cut your hand.” She unwound the silk flying scarf she wore as
get the first aid kit,” Roger offered, leaving the two alone
for the moment.
wrapped the scarf tightly around Gray Eagle’s hand to stop the
bleeding. “It must have been some vision. What was this one
he muttered, pulling his hand away from her. “I’m
surprised you didn’t sense anything.”
that you were in trouble. But I don’t have one of those
strange stones that you carry.”
Eagle knew the allusion was to the pouch tied around his neck. The
day in 1941 when he had left Bismarck, North Dakota, for California
and the war, his mentor, Two Feathers, had given him what he at first
thought was a white pebble. It was a sacred stone kept by his late
grandmother, Red Moon. She had left instructions that it was to be
given to him when he left the reservation.
he met Julian Barstead, the two learned that the pebble was not
simply a stone but a crystal formation. Later, after the war, after
Barstead formed ISIR and Gray Eagle joined him, the two were able to
finally study the stone they had come to wonder about. Scientific
analysis suggested the stone was synthetic, and no one could discover
exactly what it was constructed for or how to use it at will.
warmth of the stone slowly ebbed and Gray Eagle sighed. “I’ve
a meeting with Julian at eleven.” He stood on shaky legs
drawing on his new reserves of strength to shove aside the images
burned in his memory. Time would not allow him the luxury of
thinking about what had just happened. He would find a space for it
later, and as he had done before, he pushed the images deeper into
came to him with the first aid kit. “At least let us put a
bandage and some antiseptic on the cut.”
Eagle agreed as Amber unwound the flying scarf from his hand,
discarding it on the table. Roger opened the kit, and Amber used the
alcohol to wipe away the dried blood. Gray Eagle winced as Amber
painted his wound with iodine and bandaged his hand.
coming with you to that meeting.” She finished taping the
bandage in place and returned the unused portion of the roll to the
first aid kit.
he cautioned. “Weber will be there.”
narrowed her blue eyes and drew herself up to her indignant five foot
three height. “I don’t care.”
hates you,” Roger interrupted.
hates anyone under forty,” she retorted. “The man has
the personality of a box of rocks.”
Eagle chuckled. “The description fits. I wish Julian hadn’t
been so insistent on hiring a plasma physicist.”
really wish Julian had hired someone else, say Dr. Hans Bechter?”
Eagle nodded. “Bechter’s good from what I hear. But he
was too close to the Nazis for us to hire him.”
thought he worked for the underground during the war.” Amber
snapped the metal tab, locking the first aid kit.
one really knows.” Gray Eagle looked at his bandaged hand,
wondering how he was going to explain the accident to Barstead. It
was true he and Barstead were like brothers: he the younger, Barstead
the older worrywart. Barstead would demand to know what happened and
his already graying hair would add a few white strands when he heard
the nature of the vision.
still coming with you.” Amber poked at Gray Eagle’s
need security clearance for this visit,” Gray Eagle tried to
temper her determination.
have it, so does everyone at ISIR. We live on the property,
and the others won’t mind, but Weber,” Gray Eagle made a
rocking motion with his bandaged hand.
placed the first aid kit on the table. “Are you coming?”
She asked as Roger brushed at an absent strand of blond hair.
rather chew on a rattlesnake.”
going. Julian can be the one to kick me out.”
Eagle knew better than to argue with her when she made a decision and
he didn’t have the time for subtle persuasion. If Julian
wanted her out of the meeting, he would be the one to tell her.
Stan Weber glared at Gray Eagle sitting across from him. The
polished, round, walnut table was a tenuous buffer against the
hostility radiated by the scientist.
the hell’s she doing here?”
had an accident, and Amber agreed to come with me to the meeting,”
Gray Eagle replied. Both true statements but their relationship was
don’t care if you had a heart attack,” Weber blurted.
“This is a secure meeting. The man coming to speak is from DC.
You think he wants some dumb kid at the meeting?”
Margaret Aksawan toyed with the leather strap of her watch. The
white skin beneath the watchband stood out against her darkly tanned
arm. “Can it, Stan. We need to meet with this meeting with
the secret service agent over with. I have a load of artifacts to
gives a damn about your stupid potsherds. You’ve hogged half
the instruments at ISIR in your study.”
doesn’t use the same equipment you do,” Dr. Walter Reed
said in defense of his colleague. He lounged at ease in his chair,
his lanky body resting against the cushioned seat.
lips twitched. “When I took a contract with ISIR, I thought
this place did serious research.”
does,” Margaret leaned forward, removed her watch and placed it
on the table beside her notebook. “But not all serious
research involves plasmas.”
said. “You don’t know the meaning of serious.”
Barstead entered interrupted Weber’s criticism.
Julian Barstead, director and foundered of ISIR entered with a man
an inch shorter than he. The newcomer had dark auburn hair, hazel
eyes, and the look of an agent. His navy suit, blue silk tie,
button-down shirt, and wing tip shoes screamed easterner before he
opened his mouth.
is Mr. Arthur Beaumont, of the Secret Service,” Barstead
introduced the man with him. Barstead glanced at Amber, then at Gray
Eagle. When neither volunteered any information, he made the
introductions, pausing only to assure Beaumont that the young woman
had the necessary security clearance.
Eagle suspected the assurance was redundant. If this agent had done
his homework, he knew about everyone at ISIR, including Amber. What
he thought about them was another matter.
directed the agent to a seat and took the chair next to him. “I’ve
kept the number of people to a minimum as you requested. Now, would
you like to tell us what the meeting is about? Your request said
security clearance is not an issue for any of you, I’ll get
right to the point.”
Eagle sensed Amber shift in her chair. He felt it too, the silent
anxiety gripping the stranger across the table from him in a bond so
tight Gray Eagle wondered why he couldn’t see an image of it.
a problem at the White House that the president hopes you will be
able to solve.”
problem?” Barstead asked, training his blue eyes on the agent.
had a visitor disturbing the occupants since March and it can’t
continue.” Beaumont ran a hand through his hair.
Eagle caught the liquid sibilance of a Virginia accent beneath the
words. “Mr. Beaumont, isn’t that the job of the FBI?
Or even your agency?”
Weber leaned against his chair. “Why bother us?”
working on this with two other agents, Mark Kraft and Aaron Stein.
But this isn’t, shall we say, within our area of training, let
don’t do security work,” Weber’s nostrils widened.
“Why would you even think this has anything to do with us?”
met the scientist’s gaze. “The visitor is a ghost.”
Margaret’s eyes widened.
crap,” Weber barked. “There’s no such thing as a
up, Stan! Let the man finish.” Margaret smacked the table with
the flat of her hand, an action she had used to summon the wandering
attention of numerous college students in the days when she taught at
smiled his thanks. Weber folded his arms across his chest and
visitations started in the Lincoln bedroom as just a glimpse of
something and when you turn it’s gone. But the encounters have
do you mean by escalated?” Gray Eagle asked.
ghost has been seen by several people and we’ve been able to
photograph it.” Beaumont pulled out three photographs. “Would
you look at these Dr. Aksawan?”
looked at the photographs, blinked, and shook her head.
said. “Stein took, developed and printed the photos. The
light from the visitor was enough to give us the image in a darkened
see what you captured.” Reed leaned closer to his colleague for
a look at the photos.
God, it’s a picture of Lincoln?”
Weber casually ran the tips of his fingers along the edge of the
table. “Surely, you’re not suggesting that Lincoln is
haunting the White House?”
not suggesting anything,” Beaumont said. “I’m
simply giving you what evidence we have. I’ve also brought
along typed transcripts of interviews with the people who’ve
encountered this ghost.”
say ghost with some hesitation,” Gray Eagle said.
don’t think this is a ghost. My gut tells me it’s
you suppose that the Soviets are doing this?” Barstead asked as
he took one of the photographs that had made its way to him.
don’t know what to suggest,” Beaumont rubbed his
forehead. “Kraft actually fired off two rounds at the thing
when it appeared in the Rose Garden. The bullets missed the ghost,
but it looked scared as hell.”
Eagle sat upright in his chair. “The ghost looked scared?”
nodded. “I couldn’t fire at it. I mean it looks so much
Eagle said. “But that doesn’t explain the reaction.
Ghosts seldom interact with the person witnessing the scene.”
He did not add that most witnesses ran in the opposite direction.
Few drew a gun and fired at an apparition.
it.” Weber let out a deep breath. “I’ve got work
to do. Count me out of this. I’m presenting a paper at the
Plasma Physics meeting and I have some last minute calculations to
finish.” He rose and strode from the room without looking back.
riddance,” Margaret muttered.
frowned. “Will he speak of this meeting?”
shook his head. “No, this isn’t something he can add to
his list of publications.”
sat back in his chair, but his eyes strayed to the now closed door.
would you like us to help you?” Gray Eagle interrupted the
like you to come to DC and have a look for yourself.”
ripple of laughter broke the tension in the room. Gray Eagle lifted
a photograph and studied it as Barstead and the agent talked about
the arrangements. Something was not quite right, he thought. The
photograph was in perfect focus, but his mind insisted on blurring
it, as if the focus of the action were elsewhere. He felt warmth
from the stone he carried and quickly dropped the photograph.
is it?” Amber whispered to him.
felt something from that stone.”
looked at her. “Is something wrong?”
just discussing the flight east,” she improvised.
be coming with them?”
pilot the plane. Roger will serve as my copilot,” she said,
keeping up the fiction she had just devised.
glanced at the man beside him for an explanation, but none was
forthcoming. He resorted to opening his briefcase and removing a set
of folders that he placed on the table.
these the interviews?” Barstead reached for a folder.
agent nodded. “Seven including mine. I know you people have
top clearance. I’ve researched you at President Kennedy’s
request. But this has to be kept very quiet.”
asked, “Isn’t that plasma physics conference Stan plans
to attend in Washington?”
nodded. “It starts in a week. You thinking perhaps we could
go also, but check out the White House ghost instead?”
thinking exactly that. It will serve as cover.”
what sort of cover will Cc and I serve?” Margaret asked.
Eagle glanced at her. “You’re coming to speak with
colleagues at the Smithsonian.”
idea,” she cocked a finger at him. “And you?”
check out the museum, maybe talk with some people about aviation
winked at Amber. “And the dangerous duo?”
be responsible for them,” he replied a bit too quickly. He
suddenly wished he hadn’t said it. He could easily have flown
one of the newer eight-passenger planes cross-country without any
help. But Amber’s remark had seemed to commit ISIR to taking
her and Roger as well.
let’s discuss what we’ve learned about the sightings and
make some plans for your arrival and how we can integrate you into
the White House routine,” Beaumont offered.
14, 1861 (Universe U1)
Bouchard hurried toward her new residence on State Street in the
western Maryland town of Frederick. She stopped outside her house,
glanced at the sky, and said out loud. “It will rain this
was no hint of rain in the hazy sunlight filtering through the
feather-like clouds, but she sensed the touch of moisture on the
breeze. She was good at predicting the weather.
her gaze to the house, she smiled, feeling again the thrill of
freedom in her heart every time she looked at the two-story
structure. The house was built in the Federal style of architecture,
with window frames set off by black shutters. It was just the sort
of house her late husband, Louis, would have hated. She absolutely
hurried up the brick driveway and beneath the ornate portico with the
two fluted columns, a later addition. She mounted the three steps to
the door, inserted the key she carried in her hand and opened it,
coming face to face with Harriette, the young woman she had raised
from birth and considered her ward.
stepped back a pace to avoid a collision. “I heard you coming
and meant to get the door.”
handed the young woman the package she was carrying. “I’ve
brought the pastries. There was no need to worry that I would be
put these with the coffee.” Harriette took the package from
Desiree. “A courier came for you while you were out. He left
that.” She inclined her head to the petticoat table in the
hall. A thick pack of papers sat inert on a silver tray.
from Henri,” Desiree knew without seeing the handwriting or the
return address. She swore in French.
smiled, turned, and hurried toward the drawing room, her apricot
taffeta day gown rustling as she walked. Desiree looked at her
departing from. She’s eighteen and there’s no one but me
to support her.
was the offspring of a liaison between her late husband and one of
his slaves. Harriette had been a gift to Desiree when Louis learned
she could not have children. But Desiree had always known the truth.
Louis preferred other women to his wife, no matter what the color of
Louis was dead, as was Harriette’s mother. Harriette was free.
And the dowry money Desiree had brought to the marriage was invested
in stock and property in the North. At least Louis had known how to
do that and see that she was provided for. The Louisiana plantation
had gone to his younger brother, Henri. Desiree had all she would
ever need and that she would share with Harriette.
removed her bonnet, placed it on a wooden peg, part of an elaborately
carved set of pegs fastened to the wall for just this purpose, and
attacked the packet. She scanned the contents, mostly the remnants
of the estate to deal with, she thought.
he’s still in Charleston,” she muttered.
Harriette stepped into the hall.
he’s still in Charleston. He will probably lead the charge on
that fort everyone is arguing about. What is it called?”
Harriette said. “But if the fort is fired upon, won’t
that mean war?”
Desiree said. “Yes,” she repeated to herself in a softer
voice. “It will indeed mean war.”
Time 1. 00. 04. 14 (Universe 61)
San felt that if Brie did not stop talking soon, she would reach
across the table and strangle him, Supreme Commander of the Khysid
Army or not.
I see that we are proceeding on schedule.” He consulted a thin
sheet of what looked like paper, but was really a computer.
let her eyes travel over the domed Command Chamber, taking in the
blue-gray color of the stone, and finally resting her gaze on the
ornate chair occupied by Brie at the head of the crescent shape
table. Since San was granted a seat on the Command Council, the room
had come to have a claustrophobic feel to it. She was still a junior
member and the senior members seldom gave her words the seriousness
she thought they deserved.
concluded. “We will invade the 1861 universe shortly after
they finish their battle at Gettysburg. That will give us a chance
to get some good war footage.”
shifted in her chair. The natural highlights in her hair set off her
dark skin. Her movement caused Elar to glance in her direction. San
knew he was attracted to her, but he had yet to make his move.
questions?” Brie asked.
spoke. “Sir, I think we had better address this latest record
of instability in the universe we are proposing to invade.” She
tapped the report before her with her beautifully manicured finger.
made a dismissive gesture with his hand. “Have Colonel Val
deal with it. After all, his new software has proved useful. I see
no reason to interfere with the mission. He and Major Kester seem
capable of dealing with any perturbations.”
wouldn’t see your hand if it didn’t come attached to your
arm, she thought. She didn’t like the data Val had sent to
her. The incidents he related seemed too unstable. She knew the
army was committed to invading the universe in question. The cache
of Jewels, used to power the Source Gates that opened portals between
alternate universes, was nearing depletion. The army had never been
able to create synthetic versions of the original Jewels.
worried about committing a nearly intact Jewel to this invasion,”
we need a large, stable portal at the Embassy Club. This is no
simple long-term exploitation. We intend to take this universe. Are
you worried about fighting?” Elar asked.
as anxious to see the troops trained, as ready to take to the field
as any of your more experienced generals.”
one of our best. But the instabilities in these readings worry me.
I know they aren’t large, but they seem persistent. That’s
waved her hand. “They’ll dissipate in time.”
San,” Brie poured contempt into the two words. “If we
wait, fighting will begin, and we’ll miss our chance at
recording some good footage during the battle of Bull Run, or
Manassas, or whatever they call it.” He paused. “I mean
will call it when they fight it.”
Command Council returned to deliberations as San felt her temper move
up several degrees. She had rid them of Supreme Commander Hazen,
paving the way for Brie to take Hazen’s seat and control of the
Khysid Army. But it was Kester, her mind whispered, who had Hazen
killed. She smacked down the thought.
set the events in motion,” she muttered beneath her breath. No
one was paying attention to her.
had learned one thing from the late Supreme Commander Hazen. Events
not planned for were the problem in an army dependent for survival on
the products and resources of the alternate universes. Events were
history and before Hazen died he had reminded her that history had a
way of thumbing its nose at the best of plans.