Welcome to Saturday Morning 3 Tom Mazanec General Sampaio did pushups with his fingers, so his hands looked like a spider on a mirror. "You are absolutely sure of this...event? It is not some bizarre hoax by Avalon?" "Yes, General. I myself was incredulous at first, and I have long had an appreciation for how imaginative the natural world is at creating strange phenomona." replied Alberto Philho. "This is a catastrophe! You are saying we have lost most of our land, including the richest cropland, and a majority of our human population? And we are on the verge of war with this "Amazon Commonwealth"? How am I supposed to defend this nation under these conditions?" "As best you can, General. I cannot ask for more." "And you say these nations claim to have weapons far greater than anything we have seen in the war? What could be worse than poison smoke, fire fountains and plague bombs?" Academician Petrocci cleared his throat. "Several sanstring messages we have picked up seem to correspond to a hypothetical weapon called an atomcore bomb. This would be a device the size of this table able to incinerate or pulverize everything within a distance of several miles or more, and poison the land for many years, possibly generations." "Anyone can describe a hypothetical weapon. But can such a weapon actually be built?" asked the general. Petrocci looked at Philho and Vargas, who looked at each other and nodded their heads. "We have developed models and equations of atoms and atomcores. They indicate that such a bomb would actually explode as described. We have developed an atomcore fireplace, which we "lit" just last month. It also functioned as the equations and models predicted it would, so such a bomb is quite likely to work as well." "There is a big difference between a bomb and a fireplace!" "General, a bomb and a fireplace are both basically the same phenomona. Both are the combining of vitagen with something else...a bomb just does it a million times faster. If the atomcore fireplace functions correctly, this makes us much more confident that an atomcore bomb would also, since any mistake which would stop one would probably stop the other." "We have also made other observations and calculations which indicat that we will soon have the ability to wipe out a great city and a million people in one flash. Since at least some of these "time zones" seem to have developed at a faster rate than we have, it is logical to assume that they can do so to many cities at once." said the Aesop rakune next to the academician. "I still am not sure about this...the predictions of a dozen bigheads, seven of whom are aesops, led by someone whose parents were not even born here." "But *I* was born and raised here!" "Enough! General, assume, for safety sake, that such bombs now exist in other parts of the world. It would be better than assuming they do not and being wrong." "What about our attempts to communicate with this Commonwealth to our north?" continued Vargas. Ambassador Vanhorn replied "We are having some trouble doing so. The dialect is different from any I have heard before, with a strange vocabulary and accent. It is a little like speaking with an aesop of Portugal if you have never done so before, only worse. Also, I am a little concerned with this name "Amazon". It may be too much to put on a name, and may be just a coincidence...but why would a nation name itself after a race of female warriors that were a match for Athens and Sparta? I am afraid that these people to the north might be as militaristic as Avalon was." "What about the food situation?" Minister Spinola swallowed hard and paused for a moment before speaking. "It is very grave. We have approximately 150 million people, four fifths of them Aesops, in what is left of Brasil. We have only about one fifth of the food producing capacity we had last week. I would strongly advise that we obtain as much food imports as we can from these other timezones as soon as it is possible, or I shudder to think what will happen with our aesop army. I would also reverse my previous stand against certain agricultural practices which may cause long term damage to our land... if we do not obtain enough food in the short term, we will not even *have* a long term." "Very well. All cabinet members are to prepare reports for Vargas and me, to be delivered two days from now, on how this timezone situation will affect your particular area of expertise. Don't worry about the short time...I do not want your usual verbose tomes, we need to begin responding to this emergency immediately. Just give us an outline on your view of the situation. And try to come up with suggestions as to how to deal with this crisis. If you think of something that could help, let me or Paulo know at once. Every hour we delay could make the situation worse, perhaps irrepairable. Also, give top priority to this Amazon Commonwealth. The last thing we want is to blunder into an even bloodier war than the one we have just been through these last five years. Thank you, and get moving."