The Fox and The Eagle


Chapter 11 Butterflies of Change

November 10, 1805, Mission San Christopher, Oregon Territory

The men of the expedition had awoken to the unfamiliar sound of the steam whistle on the Maria Christina. Now, they were mostly observing the bustle as the people of the mission moved about, taking bundles of hides and furs down to the dock for loading, or preparing to unload supplies for the mission.

Lewis held his head as he looked at the strange ship. "I hardly know what to make of all this." He admitted.

"Well," said Clarke, "Don't look at me for any sharp answers." He shook his head. "I'm as befuddled as you. I feel as though I've stepped into some modern version of Prestor John's Kingdom here – American expatriates that have advanced far beyond anything we have dreamed of back home."

Lewis looked at the steam wagons pulling away from the loading dock. "I read about the –'trains" – that the British have been building. These – " he said, waving his arm " are far and away superior to those things, in every respect." He shrugged. "And if I can imagine those things towing artillery, I can imagine these folks already have had that thought."

"Yes they have," said Clarke, "I asked."

Lewis quirked an eyebrow but said nothing.

"I had a closer look at those vehicles last night," he said. "You were already passed out as we carried you back to the room…but they bear the crossed cannon insignia of the artillery…those are artillery movers, being used as cargo movers right now." Said Clark. "The Men here are of the Californio Guardia Nacional – an interesting concept, similar to our militia – they are nominally military members – but they farm, get a land plot, each company spreads out and holds an area that they also "prove up" – and at the end of ten years –each soldier owns his land, fee simple."

"Interesting concept" said Lewis.

The Californios intend to settle the area up to Vancouver Island – the Columbia and Willamette River Valleys – in that manner."

"Entirely with military settlements?" asked Lewis, cocking his head.

"No, not at all." Said Clarke. "Kaplan was adamant on that. But – he called them "strategic settlements." – and there would be regular Army Camps in the area, also, with civilian settlements and the Mission settlements they previously used."

Clarke shook his head. "The odd part was – they also want to make room for what he called – "oddballs" – the non-conformists – so long as they behave themselves, and don't harm others or make trouble."

Lewis eyes grew wide "what?"

"I had trouble understanding that part – and I think it was more than the befuddlement of drink…but I think the thought was that – America grows strong by the bright ideas of 'crazy people" – so New Spain should find some "crazy people" of her own…" he shook his head.

On the hillside above the two icons of American history, SSgt Larry Spangler looked at Major Morris. "Mo, I think…I finally get it."

"Huh." Said Morris. "Is it contagious?"

"No." laughed Spangler. "What the Colonel and you Officers are getting at here. Why we're out here, instead of back in the States."

"How's that?" said Moe.

"I'm looking at Lewis and Clarke. Meriwether Lewis and William Clarke – the guys who led the Corps of Discovery, mapped the Louisiana Purchase, made it "Sea to Shining Sea" – and – yeah…" he shook his head. "Couple of Yahoos." He jerked his thumb. "Most of the-" he crooked his fingers in the air quote"-Corps of Discovery" -unquote are a bunch of drunken smelly bums that wouldna' made it outta Basic…and dumb as a box o' rocks to boot."

He spat. "I'm talking to those hillbilly redneck buttwipes – and that is what passes for the cream of the US Army, circa 1805?" he shook his head in negation. "You gotta be kidding me. It was like an edition of "American Mujahadeen" or something."

"I am ever-so-loving-glad we are out here, Major." He said. "At least, out here, these guys will freaking listen to us. Here, I think we can make a difference…and…maybe…I see where Major Shaw is going. Maybe we can get a United States of Mexico, to go with the United States of America, a United States that runs from Guatemala to Washington, and all the way to the Atlantic – and maybe the border is at the Rocky Mountains, but maybe it will be a border that doesn't mean much more than the one between the US and Canada."

He looked off into the distance…"and if that other mission succeeds, well, who knows?"

Moe shuddered. "Are you nuts? Guardino. In Madrid. With Acosta. Is Don Diego Nuts?"

November 30, 1805 Mazatlan, Mexico

Clarke looked around him, at the bustling harbor of the port of Mazatlan. The Maria Christine had carried the men of the Corps of Discovery to New Spain, where the plan was to transit Mexico, take ship in the Gulf, and sail back to the United States.

After the wilderness of the Louisiana purchase, and the technological wonders of California, the tropical strangeness of Sinaloa was almost more than he could handle.

He could see it in the eyes of the men. "Captain" said Sergeant Perry. "I'm almost think we should have tarried a bit longer in Mission San Christopher."

"Aye" said Lewis, woodenly. "I'm thinking that you've the right of it, Sergeant. But – " he put his foot out. "Sooner started, sooner done." And he set out down the pier.

Washington, DC 10 March 1806

Thomas Jefferson looked at the two men before him. "So – basically, the Oregon territory is closed to the United States."

"Completely, in my opinion." Said Lewis.

"The Spanish look like they intend to stay." Said Clarke. "So it would mean a war, Mr President, and a War, I would doubt we'd have a chance of winning."

Jefferson looked sharply at him.

"Sir, it's a long distance across the Plains, and the Rocky Mountains…and then, against some well disciplined troops, and weapons as I'd care not to see before we improve our own somewhat, sir." Said Lewis.

"As bad as that." Sighed Jefferson.

"Yes sir, Mr President." Said Lewis, "As bad as that." He held up his report. "I'm not sure what is going on…what we saw in the rest of New Spain did not look all that different from what we had been seeing otherwise, nothing strange at all…but California?"

He stared into space a second. "Sir, I asked around a bit…these Americanos, the Aquilas, the "Eagles" suddenly appeared in the Spring of 1803, possibly around March or so. Since then, they have introduced a whirlwind of change to California – not just to their technology, but their society."

Jefferson cocked his head quizzically.

"It is – somehow, as if these men – and two women – came from some other – world. They certainly do not seem to have come from America – at least not the America that you and I know Mr President."

William Clarke looked at the man he had stood with for these last three years and marveled. "What had happened to the slightly befuddled maniac and drunken buffoon this man had become." He thought. "Had it all been and act?"

"What do you mean?" asked President Jefferson.

"Sir." Said Captain Meriwether Lewis. "I managed to obtain this." He held up a small piece of embroidered cloth. "It was taken from one of the uniforms they were wearing when they arrived. It is supposed to be an American Flag, it is done in shades of brown because everything on their uniform is done in shades of brown and tan, the better to blend in with the background."

"How…bizarre…"murmured Jefferson, as he peered at the flag.

Clarke was the first to catch it. "Why so many Stars?"

Lewis grinned fiercely. "Exactly!"

"Eh" said Jefferson. "By the Lord Harry, you're right! – There's a damn sight more than 15 stars on that flag – and only 13 stripes, not 15. – This must be a fraud."

"Well, " said Lewis carefully. "Consider this. "Why would they state they were Americans, Outlaw Americans – Americans with scientific knowledge that WE don't have…and wear a flag that we don't use?"

Jefferson sighed. "It is a puzzle."

"They are all mad" said Clarke.

"Not so much insane, I'd say." He grinned, "but I'd say they might be Americans from a place where America has more States – I'm not sure, but I'd say that there should be fifty stars on that flag."

"What – exactly – do you mean, Captain?" said Jefferson, slowly.

"I think…" said Lewis…"it sounds insane, but I think that, somehow, a group of American soldiers from somewhere in the future has somehow come to this time."

"Well," exclaimed Clarke, "then why in the devil are they in California, and working for the Spanish Crown?"

A wry smile split Lewis' homely face. "I'm not exactly sure of that one. But I have my suspicions." He said.

"And?" prompted Jefferson.

"William, Mr President, I'd have to ask you both, as gentlemen, please not to speak of this again suspicion again, but I think, possibly, that Colonel Kaplan means to deliver all of New Spain to the United States as a package in the next decade or so…a United States of Mexico was a term I overheard."

Jefferson looked at a map of North America that hung in the Oval Office. The Louisiana Purchase was marked along side the United States, with New Spain and the disputed area of the Oregon country also marked in…since the report of the Corps of Discovery, the area up to the 49th parallel had been re-marked as Spanish Colonization.

"My God!" exclaimed Jefferson. The idea of New Spain coming over to the United States – or even Alta California – was breathtaking.

"I think…" he said…his voice was shaky…"I shall recommend that we leave these "Eagles" alone for a bit…although perhaps we should contact them from time to time, to see if they need any assistance from us.

"They looked pretty capable to me." Said Lewis.

"Well." Said Jefferson. "The other thought that occurs to me, Captain Lewis, is that they may modernize New Spain, turn it into a United States of their own – and then conquer these United States, not join us."

"Urk." Said Clarke. "That is all too possible."

"Better" said Jefferson, "that they are disposed to look kindly upon us."

March 30 1806 Off the coast of Baja California.

Don Diego De La Vega watched the broaching whales in their pods and smiled. He though of what the Eagles had told him – that the massive animals were intelligent beings, possibly as smart as humans…and there was no need to hunt them for food, or oil.

No, he thought, in this world, the great mass butchery of another Universe would most assuredly not happen here…Not if he could possibly help it.

Below him, the engines of the SMS Maria Christine chugged away, taking him northward, with a revolutionary new charter for Alta California…and a new life for Rossiya Aleyaska

April 20, 1806 San Francisco Harbor

The Russian ships Juno and Avos were tied up on the Embarcadero, and the head of the Russian American Company, Count Nikolai Rezanov, was attempting to persuade Governor Gallegos to trade food for furs and gold – at some fairl good exchange rates.

The merchants of San Francisco were more than ready to do business with this apparently crazy Russian madman – since his gold was good, and he had apparently had more gold than sense….but Governor Gallegos was firm.

The Law was simple. "No Spanish colony could do business with a foreign colony with prior written approval of the Crown."

And Gallegos, drunken sot that he was, was not that stupid.

Count Nikolai Rezanov was a dashing figure, and had captivated the ladies of San Francisco – he was also an accomplished diplomat, and had won the approval of the clergy – no mean feat also! – but – the law was the law.

And then…as Count Rezanov stood badgering, persuading him for yet another round, Gallegos heard the room quiet. He turned, to see his old friend, Don Diego.

"Greetings, Diego!" said Gallegos. "You are back from – wherever?" He turned – "Let me introduce you to –"

Diego stepped forward and put his hand out – "Count Nikolai Rezanov, I presume?" he said, smiling, "I have been looking forward to meeting you, Gospodeen." He said, "and you will be glad to see me, I am sure."

Rezanov looked a bit confused, but he stayed steady. This young man looked fairly confidant. Acosta stepped forward with a briefcase and opened it. Diego picked up the top document. "This is a patent of Office from the Spanish Crown, authorizing the Governorship of Alta California to do business with the Rossiya Aleyaska Company, in perpetuity."

Rezanov's grin was very wide. "Oh, yes, indeed, I am very glad to meet you, Don Diego…and I will not even think to ask HOW you managed to get to Madrid and back with a patent of business to for my company – when I have only been here for two weeks."

Diego smiled and said quietly. "We left over a year ago…fourteen months, to be exact. I will leave it to you to figure out how we knew what you needed and when you would need it, good sir."

Rezanov was stunned. They would have had to have left California while he was in Japan…how?...but…the document was solidly real.

The important thing was – now he could legally obtain food here in California for his workers…and the Russian American company could thrive.

Another Butterfly was flapping his wings, and another hurricane was beginning…the empty land that had been sold to the United States in 1866…would not be empty.

Colonel Lance Kaplan pondered the world he and his people were creating. In the world he had come from, America was a bright and shining beacon of hope – but Mexico had been a land of poverty and misery for much of its history.

Was he a hero – bringing a better life to people to who had lived terrible lives in his previous world? Or was he the worst traitor unhung?

He shook his head…Would he live long enough to see an answer to his questions? He looked up at the clear night sky over San Francisco Bay, north, over to the Marin Highlands, where someday, the Golden Gate Bridge might stand.

Rebecca Shaw came out to the portico. She was wearing a military uniform – the only female officer – hell, the only female member of the Guardia Nacional. The older biddies still clucked their tongues when they saw her…none of the officers said anything – at least not to her face. They had seen her shoot, and they had seen her at saber drill…and she had been teaching close quarters unarmed combat techniques to the troops.

There was no man in Alta California stupid enough to dare her wrath.

"Penny for your thoughts, colonel?" she said.

"Eh." He grunted. "Just wondering if we're taking the right path here." He said.

February 10, 1808 – Madrid, Spain

Charles the Fourth of Spain listened to the crowd below his window, and looked at the papers his Prime Minister held for him.

"It is truly as bad as that?" he asked.

"Truly, your Highness." Said Valido Godoy, the Prime Minister.

Charles looked at the globe of the earth, and was suddenly beset by a notion…perhaps a notion of madness, a notion of despondency, but…

Spain…and the Empire of Spain - was in the worst crisis it had faced in centuries. For centuries, it had lived off the gold and silver plundered from the colonies in the New World.

As the centuries had passed, those deposits had grown leaner, more expensive to work. Now, Spain faced a crisis it had not faced in centuries –invasion. The Spanish Fleet had been destroyed in a series of actions – Trafalgar had been merely the worst defeat of a series of crushing blows – and now her commercial fleet was plagued by pirates and privateers.

Charles had tried to be a good King, but he had always felt as if he was a figurehead, an imposter. His son, Ferdinand, was always urging him to do other things – and more often than not, it seemed as if Ferdinands ideas would have been better.

Perhaps…perhaps it might be a good idea for him to step down and let Ferdinand be King, before he totally destroyed Spain.

It was the custom for Spanish Kings to die in office…but perhaps…perhaps Charles should start a new tradition.

He thought of those strange folk he had met a few years earlier. That dashing young man from the Colonies – what was his name – ah yes? – Don Diego de la Vega! – that was it!

He had told marvelous tales of the place he had grown up – Alta California – and his men – they also had such interesting stories to tell.

The King looked around him. He had ruled an Empire that ran almost around the World – but he had hardly been a more than a few hundred leagues from this castle in his entire life.

He was three score years already, but still fairly healthy. Perhaps, if the Good Lord granted him three-score and ten years – he could use those ten years to SEE some of that Empire he had ruled for so long.

But – if he announced his intentions – it would turn into – what was that marvelous word those Californios had used – ah yes! – a "goat rope" – yes, indeed. He would need to make his plans for this.

February 20, 1808

"WHAT!" exploded the Prime Minister.

"It is a letter of abdication, signed by His Majesty, in favor of his son."

"Is he INSANE?"

"I – I do not know." Said the servant. "it looks as though his Majesty departed with only a small satchel bag of clothes – and not his finest at that."

The minister was speechless.

In the harbor at Cadiz, a ship was putting out to sea, bound for Vera Cruz. Carlos Diego, a somewhat wealthy businessman, was off to New Spain, to visit his son, whom he had not seen in many years.

"It is a long sea voyage, Sir, and you are not exactly young." Said the Captain.

"True, " said Carlos, "but, it is many years, and it is easier for me to go to see my son and my grandchildren, than for all of them to come and see me, no?" and he smiled – "and maybe I should see some of these wonders that they are always writing of."

"That is true enough, Senor Diego." Agreed the Capitan. "Welcome Aboard, Sir."

It had been many years since Carlos had been aboard a ship – the cabin was rather smalll and cramped, but he decided to make the best of it.

He wondered how Ferdinand was doing, now that he was King…but he put that out of his mind.

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