Ch. 20 — ‘Franchising’ by Alex Allca

ET is  visiting again, bringing the billionaire philanthropist from Philly to share some recommendations with the family to help them to decide what direction their future endeavors should take.

Present are Russell, Dianne, Buckminster and Ladybird, and the two Grovers, plus the family’s two visitors. Unfortunately, this is a school day, so James and Lyndsey are at school.

As the conversation dies down, Alexander Allca now raises the matter of the willingness of the family to lease out the technology that has so mysteriously fallen into its collective lap.

“What thought have you given to making an enterprise out of this technology?” the Philadelphian inquires.

Interestingly, he indicates that ‘off the top of his head’ he can come up with the names of many companies that could unquestionably benefit from the unprecedented capabilities of the System.

He adds that, too, there are many government agencies that would appreciate a functionality of this kind.

Russell counters with a reminder of a caution the family has felt, regarding the need to protect the System, citing the possibility of being able to clone other sets.

“How would we go about preventing purchasers from creating other portals with the same travel capability and selling them?” he queries.

“What could we do to stop them from handing our portals over to unscrupulous individuals who want to use the System for wrong ends?”

He explained his concern that an unscrupulous ‘operator’ could ‘cruise’ into the U.S. Mint, and strip it of a small fortune, with no one any the wiser.

The same potential would exist for Fort Knox, permitting a user to help himself or herself to some of the gold Monday to Friday after working hours. There is no way to prevent that.

“What about a foreign power that wants to bankrupt the United States?

“Using the System the criminals could help themselves to a day’s production of $20 bills at the mint, replacing them with counterfeit notes. Can you see Uncle Sam asking for Chapter 11?”

“It’s easy to understand your expressions, Russ.” Allca had no criticism, obviously seeing Russell’s concerns as genuine risks.

However, Alex does wish Russ and the family to take some action with the miraculous powers that have suddenly landed on the family’s doorstep.

Alex begins with a brief history lesson. “Remember, Russ. How did Winston Churchill handle the issue of security related to the Axis ciphers?

“The British developed code-breaking computers to crack the German “Enigma” cipher. The British called the messages ‘Ultra.’

“Churchill had Hitler’s Ultra signals under close observation at all times, using trustworthy teams of men especially chosen for the task.

“It could be anywhere in the world that someone approved by Churchill to receive this top secret information might be located.

“So, Churchill had a crew of hand-picked men specially selected and trained to receive that traffic, and to hand it to that one individual, to insure the Ultra secret never got out.

“His plan was hyper-successful. The extremely crucial secret data was almost never handed to anyone whose name was not on Churchill’s list.

“For the vast majority of the people of the world, it came as an absolute shock when the news of the Ultra secret was released to the general public in 1974, almost thirty years after the Second War ended.

“The bottom line to all of this is to simply use the same procedure Winston used.

“Provide each System with a person of absolute integrity, an Untouchable, a person you have personally vetted to insure his or her integrity.

“What I am proposing is that the family should lease the equipment; not sell it. That way, it always remains your property.

“The client must agree to have your Untouchable operator use the unit only within the guidelines that you provide. If he refuses your terms, you leave!

“Remember, you only need to unplug your unit from the power supply and it’s just another TV set.

“The lessee must provide a climate-controlled, blast-proof, bulletproof room which can only be accessed with permission from the Untouchable inside, with CCTV covering all access routes.

“Each unit must be placed in that closed environment; controlled from a console that is absolutely secure. Only one person has the entrance key and password.

“Remember what I said before, the Untouchable (and he is allowed to have other Untouchables as assistants,) handles every operation for the client, if that transaction is genuine, and within parameters that you will provide.

“That will give you absolute control over the end-users of your equipment. YOU’LL be doing virtually everything instead of them. They never get to touch the System.”

“Well, as I said to the family the other day, this is an interesting thought,” Russell replies. “Lynz and Deej were bantering back and forth about some sort of a courier service using the portal.

“The thing is, we don’t even have the resources to mount an operation like that.”

“Frankly, we can easily agree that this is an incredible idea, but we can’t afford to do very much, even with the extended families kicking in with some support.

“We would be stretching our credibility at the bank by asking for a loan anywhere near the size we would need, even taking out a second mortgage on the house,” Russell states.

Alex continues, “I’ll tell you what. This technology has to be of greater use than for entertaining trips into the past to see John Summerfield at the Tower of London, James W. Marshall, and Tom Edison, as enjoyable as they are.

“What is needed is to launch this project on an urgent basis.

“There is a way to put this technology to work in getting some work done toward cleaning up this country.

“What I mean is in the sense of helping ordinary people, not only in a time of emergency, such as Paw Paw and the Mass Tower incident.

“But, rather, cutting back on the corruption and criminal activity, benefiting the entire population through the use of the System.

“I like the way you all act. You’re unusual as a family. You all get along well and you obviously stand by what you believe; you’ve even raised your children to the same standards as you stick to yourselves.

“So, I’ll tell you what we can do.

“I’ll make a gift to you of the funds you need to get things going.

“The Allca Foundation will start you off with a $20 million grant and I’ll stand you anything you need beyond that.

“I’m very impressed with your integrity, Russell, and should commend you for it, all of you,” Allca volunteered.

“By the way, I do expect that every one of you that works for the organization will receive an excellent salary, with full benefits, the equivalent of the staff at the Allca Foundation, both for the salary and the fringe benefits.

“If this is OK with you, I’ll set my legal department to work on getting you set up as a non-profit organization, with you as the president, Russell.

“Let me know what positions you want to assign to Dianne and all four of your parents, if they decide they would like to get involved.

“Include Lyndsey and James as soon as they legally can be recruited. They can be vice-presidents. Perhaps you could check out how to set them up with home schooling so that they can be available in the event that things get exciting.

“If they’re too young to hold corporate positions, let them serve as department heads, or managers, and pay them handsomely, too.

“Let me know what you would like to use as a name for the organization.”

“Honestly, this has taken our collective breath! I don’t know how to respond. It’s tremendously generous of you, Alex. What a marvelous opportunity you’re putting before all of us.

“ET, what do you think?”

“Good for you guys, Russell,” the correspondent congratulates.

“I just need you to say that NNN can have the exclusive first broadcast rights for all video made of the operations your Untouchables handle for you at any of the companies that take out franchising leases from you.”

Laughing and winking, Russell replies, “Have your people get hold of my people and we’ll talk about it.”

“Thinking about that, though, ET, there might be some question as to privacy and security if there are sensitive issues, but I guess we can cross that bridge when we come to it,” Russ mentions.

“Dad, what do you think?” Russell questions his father, Buckminster Richardson.

Buck and Ladybird, having had a whispering session during the discussion, have already made up their minds. “Listen, we’re in for the long haul.

“This is an awesome opportunity for you, even all of us, to leave a genuine mark on the world stage, especially if, as Alex said earlier, something can be done about taking our country back from the bad guys.”

“Pop, Jay, what’s your take on this.” It is now the turn of Dianne’s parents. Again, there is no hesitation.

“We’re still plenty young enough to be able to handle this for quite a few years. I hope the System keeps plodding on the way it is now and doesn’t fade out on you.”

“That’s one of the first areas we have to look at seriously. It would be a disaster if somehow we lost our connection with whatever cause it is that’s driving this effect,” Russell adds.

Allca concludes, “Then, hopefully, we’re agreed on this.

“I have to get the legals at the Foundation to do the necessary with your lawyer, and work out the details of how to have the papers drawn up to cover the grant, and the setup of the non-profit organization.

“Then we can get the cash on its way to you.

“By the way, don’t plan on working out of the house for too long. You simply won’t have the room.

“Perhaps you’d be good enough to arrange the first meeting of the Board of Governors and decide what positions everyone will be assuming.

“I’ll need you to call me and let me know the results of that, and also the name you want to give to the organization.

“Since your parents on both sides are willing to share in the activities, you might think about the possibility of having them be your first Untouchables, which will save any conflict in getting your early contracts up and running.

“Although they might be assigned to work out-of-town, you can always keep in instant touch with them using a small screen hooked up to the System.

“Would you be good enough to have your family lawyer check out the home-schooling I suggested for the two young ones? My legals will check on the age at which they will become eligible to hold corporate positions.

“Even if it’s not for a year or two, that shouldn’t be any impediment; you can just use them and we’ll make any necessary adjustments to the arrangements when they are of age.

“They certainly should be included in all the activities to the extent possible; after all, James was the original time-traveler and, from what you’ve told me, Lyndsey wasn’t far behind.

“Probably she was pretty ticked off at him when she found the shot-up chesterfield and James the only body in sight, with a silly grin on his face, saying ‘a U.S. marine did it.’”

After the laughter dies down, Buckminster offers to make coffee for everyone and the crowd moves upstairs to the kitchen at his call.

#

“Russell.” Alex asks. “Give me an idea how you would proceed if the St. Pete’s police department called you up and asked you if you could help them to solve a certain crime?

“Say, for example, the son of the chief of police has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom by some criminal types, who are asking $1m, or he will be killed.

“How would you go about being of help?”

“I love this stuff,” Russell gushes. “Perhaps Dianne could answer this.”

“Wow,” Dianne says, “This is just like the situation the kids handled with the kidnaped girl in Toronto.

“They had a simple solution: They just went to Toronto, found the girl’s home, waited outside until she left the house for the last time on the day of her kidnaping.

“The kids followed her through the System as she walked down the street.

”The girl was taken by a man who dragged her into a nearby home and concealed her in a room under the floor.

“Lynz and Deej followed without being seen, were able to enter the house without the man’s knowledge, and watched him tie her up.

“They made a video of the entire trip and, since the girl had already been rescued by the time the kids learned of it, they did nothing about helping her to escape.

“The DVD record of the operation was passed on to our lawyer, who relayed it on to the police in Toronto, so that they would have ironclad evidence of the guilt of the perp, and he wouldn’t be able to escape justice.”

“Great story,” the billionaire responds. “Now, remember, we know that there is no way that we can just up and donate a System to every police department in the country.

“Somebody has to ante up and pay for it.

“In the event you get a call from St. Pete’s police, or anyone in the same field, you will have to sell them on the idea of leasing a ‘liaison unit’ from the organization.

“The point is that their overall rate of crime is going to be dropping ‘big time’ as a direct result of their taking the unit, which will save any city, like St. Petersburg, millions of dollars in law-enforcement costs.

“You can even use your own experience with the SUV as a demo, to remind them of the stolen vehicle.

“Use your photos and the video you produced by deploying your own copy of the System to help St. Pete’s to apprehend the crook.

“In reality, you could deploy the System from home. You don’t need to be at a police department’s offices to handle that kind of query,” he acknowledges.

“If anyone comes along of whom you have no previous knowledge, or suspect may not be genuine, I’ll give you contacts inside the AAF who can check people out for you.

“We need to make sure that no crooked people get their hands on this technology.”

Jay pipes in with a thought. “How about locating money or treasures that have been lost for centuries, say in Spanish galleons on the high seas?

“Perhaps they were sunk in centuries past and their exact positions are now unknown.

“We could back-pedal in time to find the ships and follow them until they are sunk, mark the location and hand the info off to marine recovery experts to get back for us.

“Treasure of this sort is often generally considered the property of the finder. Is there some way that the organization could take advantage of such finds?”

“That’s a great scenario, Jay. Thank you for coming up with that thought.

“You know, there’s a great deal of misery in the world today because of the type of incidents that you mention.

“Your expression brings a thought to mind that we might be able to alleviate some of that suffering.

“We don’t need that money ourselves. Your organization will thrive on monies it can earn right here in the United States.

“What would you think of finding the sunken or buried treasure and restoring it to the country to which it originally belonged?”

“What a great idea, Alex,” Ethan chimes in. “How do you think it would be possible to do that; without the possibility of it falling into someone’s Swiss bank account, and being lost to the people forever?

“This is why so many of the world’s “developing” countries are still developing, when life should already be prosperous for their citizens.”

“Holy smoke!” the philanthropist says, “We’d need to set up another non-profit organization to handle that side of the operation, but there’s no reason why not.

“We could simply arrange to sell the merchandise and hand the money over to charities in that country and making sure your Untouchables handle the distribution of the proceeds of the sale.

“If there is any interference by officialdom, we can get a foreign bank to initiate a credit card arrangement.

“Each individual could apply for a card with a positive balance that could be used in any store. Retinal scans and other forms of positive identification could be built in to stop wrongdoers from making use of stolen cards.

“That way the money would be handed out only to the people who really need it.

“Set-up costs could be deducted from the proceeds of the sale of the treasure.

“There wouldn’t be a need to make a profit; the satisfaction would be reward enough.”

“What other unrighteous riches can you think of? Anyone?” ET questions.

“What about D.B. Cooper? Would his case qualify for that classification?” Ladybuck asks.

“Who?” most of the others asked.

Ladybuck has to clarify for those who were not yet ‘reading the mail’ at that time.

“D. B. Thomas was the name of a man who hijacked a U.S. commercial airliner in this country in the early seventies. He was paid about $200,000 as a ransom, and jumped out of the plane using a parachute.

“Neither he nor the majority of the money was ever found.

“Some years later a youngster found about $6,000 two inches below the surface of the water of a river near Vancouver, Washington. The bills that were found were badly decayed, but were later proven part of the ransom money paid to Cooper.”

“Fascinating story,” is the common response from those in the crew who are unaware of the 1971 incident.

‘Judge’ Allca makes his ruling, “There’s probably no way that it could match our principal criteria.

“If the one who forked out the ransom is a commercial airline, its corporation can lease a ‘liaison unit’ and we can check its problem out.

“There are no poor people involved in this case, who have lost the money, and need to get their hands on it again.

“The ransom was only $200,000 anyway, and that likely won’t be worth the time and effort to them, after this amount of time.

“Then, that will likely rule out bank robberies too, unless it involves ‘safety deposit boxes.’ This would affect individuals, and not a corporate body.

“The banks or the city cops can afford to take out a contract with you to have you check out their robberies using the System.

“Inquiries about unsolved crimes will have to be directed to police departments in the cities where the action took place.

“Cities can afford to pony up the funds to contract you for your Untouchables to handle their cold-case files.

“The same goes for airlines, ocean lines, transport companies, even governments.

“This organization is being set up to with the idea of providing help for little people, not corporate giants who can afford to pay to recover their losses, so let them do that.

“Just keep those thoughts in mind, and you can’t go far wrong,” he concludes.

“Sorry, I forgot to offer you any assistance you need in the human resources area. We have a need to be careful over at the Allca Foundation over just whom we will employ, too.

“If you have someone you think might make a good Untouchable, but you’re not quite sure of them, we can put our HR people at your disposal any time you need them.”

As an afterthought, he adds, “Hey, this is your organization; I’m just here to guide you, and I hope I won’t have to say any more. It’s all up to you from here on in; the decisions are all yours. If I can help, just let me know.”

“You’ve been marvelous, Alex; thank you for everything.

“We will gather the information you have asked for, and get it over to you as soon as possible.

“Your recommendations and criteria for accepting assignments and contracts, as well as for our operating procedures, are very logical and will be extremely useful to us.

“It’s likely that we’ll have to call on you for a little direction from time to time, but we’re all very grateful for your input.”

“I know you’ll be successful, because you have a fantastic product you can make available to people who are in need of help.

“On top of that, you’re all fantastic people; I’m proud to know each one of you.

“There is not a doubt in my mind that ‘the world will beat a path to your door.’

“The time and resources eaten up by private operations you carry on for needy individuals by using the System can be paid for by using the money you make from your contracts.

“You’ll have to remember to always keep yourselves within the guidelines for non-profit organizations.

“Once Ethan files his NNN report about the System, that will likely generate many enquiries that will give you something to be making a start on,” Allca concludes.

Russell is already beginning to get a warm and fuzzy feeling, the delight of being able to do something useful for others.

In the meantime, “Until the NPO is legally in place, everyone has to keep quiet about these arrangements. You OK with that, folks?” he asks his parents and in-laws.

####

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