Monday, January 10, 2011

Spanner Chapter 20: Working for the Crackdown

You’d probably expect from the title to find a traitor in Team Spanner. Except for one thing: with all the surveillance tech the government’s overusing, is there even a need for traitors and spies anymore? Besides, Jennifer can spot a spy whenever she takes her glasses off, and Shira can Charm them into betraying the agency that sent them. In this chapter, then, the major villains take the spotlight. And then they try to hog it at each other’s expense.

Meanwhile, the Hackers of Reality continue their assault on the media system from the safety of the Darknet. Desiree takes on the role of point man. Shira manipulates from the shadows, and then tells everybody that (and whom) she’s manipulating. Karen earns her martyr cred at the villains’s expense. Team Spanner argue over how to spring her.

We find out that some of the villains are actually human, some despite themselves. Others, of course, are increasingly, or completely, inhuman. The Cartel’s “Moravec Plan” will explain what Ariel calls the “gods of power” in the seemingly materialist terms the Corporates understand.

Scenarios from the Project Notebooks of the early ’00s: exactly none. New characters introduced from the ’90s Notebooks: Option.

The battle now kicks into high gear. Expect casualties.

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 20: Working for the Crackdown

Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors.
Lewis H. Lapham

Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want
and deserve to get it good and hard.

.H. L. Mencken

18 October 2014
Posted by LaFantoma99 on MyTube, October 18, 2014:
Shira: Hi, everybody! Remember that drill-sergeant vice principle of ours? Well, you now know that the Major’s been committing adultery with a very powerful and dangerous man around here. Here in Saudi America, that’s considered an unforgivable sexcrime. My friends and I have been working hard to expose it.

Meanwhile, my cousin Karen’s been planning a student rally against institutionalize bullying. Just when we’re getting ready to start, the Major betrays her to her lover, the Admiral. He thinks he can torture her into submission. Honey Bunny’s a treacherous psycho, and Big Al’s a big bully. That’s just — there’s no other way to describe it — cowardly. Don’tcha think?
Shira’s bed. Leila wakes up in Shira’s arms. “Good morning, O love of my life,” she coos.

“Good morning,” Shira purrs. She gives her a long sweet kiss. “I love you.”

“I’m in love with you, too.” Leila looks down upon Shira’s firm breasts and puts her left hand on Shira’s right breast to caress it. She smiles at her lover. “The depression’s gone now. I’m no longer afraid.”

“Your own uncle did that?”

“Is it even wrong? No more than me making love to you, or your sisters being lovers. If you love each other, it’s right no matter who you do it with. I don’t care what the Law decrees from On High.”

Shira laughs. “I’ve lived by that all my life.” She kisses Leila again.

Leila sighs. “I’ve decided I’m going to make peace with Rachel and Bob.”

“But didn’t they betray Karen to Fleer?”

“Honey Bunny already had a big hate-on for her for a long time. She didn’t need anybody to betray Karen when she was already out to get her. I know Rachel feels as horrible about it as I do. But you and Rob have to come with me. I need to apologize to my brother too...”

the brig. Admiral Fleer himself insists on being the interrogator. “Why you?” asks LCDR Will Becket, his brother-in-law and pet SEAL.

Fleer wags his finger at Will. “This is no gangster. This is no terrorist. This is a threat to our Nation’s sacred honor and to the very fabric of Order itself.”

“You mean a peacenik.”

“That’s right. That makes it personal.”

When Fleer enters the interrogation room, he orders all the interrogation specialists out. They have stripped Karen to her underwear, deprived her of food, water, and sleep. The bruise he left on her stomach when he punched her has grown ugly. She struggles to stay calm and stay awake. But she is surprisingly elated to find herself in the same position Makiguchi-sensei and Toda-sensei were in when the Last Shogun’s secret police imprisoned them for insubordination during World War II. Now, like them, she can confront the beast in his lair. The man of violence who faces her alone is the next best thing to Hideki Tojo himself.

In Greek, the word “martyr” means witness. Karen Kubota’s body bears direct witness to Alan Fleer’s crimes. She has already earned her martyrdom, and Fleer knows it. The brig at Naval Base Bremerton now seems to him all too uncomfortably like Robben Island, where one hothead transformed himself into Nelson Mandela. Karen does not allow herself to fear Fleer. But Fleer fears her, and both of them know it. His father was a member of Argentina’s infamous synarchy of generals; for that, the Argentine people put him to death. He sees his father’s fate in the eyes of this calm young woman.

Outside, one of the interrogators asks Will, “What does the Admiral think he’s doing?”

Will shakes his head in amusement. “He’s playing the redneck cop. He thinks he can break Martin Luther King.”

Fleer paces around. In front of her, he turns around, glares at her in undisguised fury, breathes heavily, and shakes his fist. In his Texas accent, he drawls, “You think you’re such a heee-ro. You think you’re trying to save the world. You ain’t got the slightest idea about Good or Evil.”

(“Here comes the lecture,” says Will. The interrogators behind him look at each other.)

He allows himself to lose control of his temper. He sweeps his arm around as if to show Karen something. “You want the truth about the world? It’s Hell! The Devil created it! There ain’t no world, just Heaven and Hell! God and Satan are fighting for control! You gotta choose one side or the other! If you don’t choose God, you’ve chosen Satan!” He grabs her and shakes her. “There ain’t no such thing as peace, you hear? There’s only eternal war between Heaven and Hell! You think you can bring peace to that? You’re fucking outta your mind!”

(“King Fleer rageth upon the moors, and the cauldron in which he boils is his own flesh.” The uncomprehending interrogators stare at each other.)

He slaps Karen over and over as if trying to scramble her brain. It doesn’t work. Her aikido training allows her to absorb the blows. She says nothing and lets him rave. “You stupid peaceniks make me sick. You insult the honor of our brave military men who willingly sacrifice their lives in the war against Evil!” He leans over her and shakes his finger in her face. “It ain’t gonna work, you little piece of shit! You ain’t gonna get away with betraying our fighting men to the Antichrist!” He starts spinning and flailing and—

He sees the little camera mounted above the door. “Eeek!” he squeaks.

He races outside, abandoning Karen, to scream at Will. “Who told you to put that camera in there?!”

Will remains perfectly calm and smiles enigmatically. “Your sister, Alan. The one you married. She wants to make sure you don’t rape your prisoners. And me? I don’t want you in any more of a position to be blackmailed than you already are. Our Nation’s enemies could find out. If they do, they’ll be able to make you into a very useful tool. You don’t want that, now do you, Alan?”

Fleer jabs his finger into Will’s sternum. Will does not flinch. “You shut up, Commander, and don’t forget that Admiral outranks Commander.”

“But Prince Royal outranks even an Admiral of the Fleet. You should remember something yourself, O brother-in-law: just marrying a Princess of the Realm doesn’t necessarily give you the sovereign right of a Prince. You can go to my grandfather if you want to contest that, but I get the feeling that he will agree with his grandson and not some glorified ex-mercenary who just happens to have a way with ships. Next time, I suggest you leave her to me. Goodbye, Alan.” Will leaves.

The Admiral sputters and stutters and tries to think of something to yell at him. But he realizes that yelling at William Becket is like banging one’s head against a brick wall. He growls, then storms back to his command center.

television. Broadcast on all the news shows: Amanda Currie’s resignation. She is shaky and hysterical. The important excerpt:
Amanda: I’ve been under extreme stress for a long time. I’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer handle it. I’ve lost the ability to do my job effectively.

All the stress and backstabbing are getting to me! I can’t handle it anymore! I’m retiring from the media business effective immediately.
All the talking heads on all the official news channels report her resignation video as a suicide not. In the criminal underworld, the bookies take bets on when she’ll kill herself.

KCUF studios. Team Spanner’s new Informal Committee to Free Karen Kubota hold their first meeting at the table they’ve set up in the lobby. Karen’s cousins Shira Thomas, Jennifer Richter-Thomas, Connor Blair, and Alex de Lacey are present, along with Alex’s husband Nick Cyphers, Shira’s girlfriend Leila Shelley, Leila’s twin brother Robert, and their mutual friend Cory Belmont. Present among the hackers: Deth Pussy, Simon Sez, and the Cockroach Twins. Their police insider is J.T. Sparks. The Slasher Hunters are not present because there’s no criminal conspiracy to crack — yet.

Deth opens the meeting. “J.T., what’s the 411 at the station?”

“You know the Beckets,” J.T. answers, “always looking for a conspiracy against ’em.”

Jennifer says, “I believe the name of the conspiracy they’re trying to break is ‘Richter-Thomas family.’ They’ve been feuding against us since our name was Kincaid and theirs was Cromwell.”

“You mean as in Ollie?” asks a surprised Deth.

“And it all started when he destroyed the Irish village of Drogheda. It was the Puritan Lidice or My Lai.”

“Jesus H. America, this is getting interesting!”

“I don’t see how this has anything to do with the situation,” says J.T.

“Except merely that my mother was married to one Dr. C. Henry Becket for one disastrous month back in 1992, or that the Egregious Doctor’s baby sister, the narcissistic bitch now known as Shepherd Drusilla AMERICA!, stole Shira’s dad from his first wife long enough to entangle him with two beautiful daughters who just happen to hate their mother more than anybody else in the world.”

“And don’t forget that it’s the Doctor’s spawn, Jack and Diana Becket, who kidnapped Karen and are currently torturing her,” adds Alex. She puts her arms around Jennifer and Connor. “Since they’re our stepsiblings and Karen’s our cousin, they made it personal.”

“It could have been me, or Mother, or Shira, or any of us. It just happened to be Karen. The result’s still the same. The Royal House of Cromwell Becket have just resumed our ancient family feud because they think they’re about to win it.”

“A family feud?” marvels Deth. “Get outta here!”

“It won’t look personal,” warns J.T. “Remember, they’ve got cover of law.”

“Law ain’t nothing but royal whim backed by the overseer’s whip,” snarls Shira.

“This is Rog Becket’s plantation. He makes the rules, and his spawn crack the whip. You’re just so many expendable field niggers to him. He’ll spin it in moral jargon and legalese, but it’s still just an uppity-nigger case.”

Impasse. Committee members sigh and shake their heads in despair. Moon Roach implores, “So then what do we do?”

“I know.” Shira grins. Everybody turns to look at her. She holds up Arvid’s SD card. “We hit ’em with their own weapons.”

Charlie and Desiree’s house. Charlie paces her living room, dressed up in case she has to leave any second. Amanda, wearing her bathrobe, slumps in her recliner, looking catatonic. Charlie snaps, “Did you have anything to do with the Beckets kidnapping our cousin?

Amanda shrugs. “I thought the Beckets were your cousins,” she protests.

“Okay, word it differently. My bad cousins kidnapped my good cousin and are probably now torturing her just to torture us.”

“Don’t they have something on her, like some subversive—”

“They’re not quote-unquote ‘interrogating’ her, they’re torturing her! They don’t plan to punish her, they’re offering her up as a blood sacrifice and they’re setting up the altar as we speak!”

Desiree comes in from the bedroom, fresh out of the shower, also completely dressed except for her boots. “They’ve got her holed up in their citadel’s dungeon. All we need is the forces to spring her. We’ve got our spies.”

Charlie’s phone rings. She picks it up. The call’s coming on an encrypted line, but the ID says Deth Pussy. “Hello?”

“Hey, babe. Our informal committee’s been brainstorming over how we can spring Karen from your evil cousins’ personal vendetta bullshit. We hit a wall and were gonna call it a day till Shira gave us a little gift from Duke Wally’s prodigal son.”


“‘Ding ding ding,’ to quote your cousin Jen. Here, why not try before you buy.” A dialog pops up on the Nexus 6’s screen asking her to sync with Deth’s phone. Charlie taps “OK”. Desiree and Amanda run to her and look over her shoulder at the screen. Back in the apps screen, Charlie goes into “Shared Folders” and finds two new ones provocatively called “Wally Loves Art” and “Al’s A Dog”. Deth says, “Be careful, babe. Shira says they’re murder weapons.”

The sisters look at each other and pretend to gasp. Desiree pleads, “Let’s see what’s inside!”

Charlie says, “Eenie, meenie, minie, mo...” She circles her finger around, then makes her decision and taps “Wally Loves Art”. This directory contains several OGVs named by date, covering the years 1988 through 1993. She picks one at random. Eleven-year-old Arthur Brinkman is being raped by a black-bearded man with an evil grin on his face. The man is clearly J. Walter Brinkman — Artie’s own father.

Three women gasp together in horror. Amanda blurts, “Oh my god—”

“Well, well, well!” exults Desiree.

“So what is it?”

Charlie answers, “It’s a smoking gun! Evidence! We’ve finally got what we need to bring Cousin Wally down!

Desiree points at the phone. “What about Al?”

“Oh yeah!” Charlie returns to the parent directory and taps on “Al’s A Dog”. All the videos are named after women. One look is all that is necessary to determine that the named women are the sexual partners of Alan Fleer and the crime, carefully recorded by Eden Becket Fleer, is adultery, a listed sexcrime. Charlie laughs. “Oh Edie! You just destroyed your own husband!”

Amanda points at the on-screen action. “That’s the Admiral?

In flagrante delicto, courtesy of his jealous wife. Here must be the pièce de résistance.” She taps the folder icon marked “Al B. Sure” and sees that the five files’ names contain the string “Honey Bunny”.

“‘Honey Bunny’?”

Desiree says, “Lieutenant Major Honey Sue Falconer, United States Marine Corps, retired, now vice principal of Bremerton High School, where our cousin Karen Kubota just happens to be the head cheerleader and shadow senior class president.”

Both sisters turn to face Amanda. Charlie asks her, “Are you up to one last story, Mandy?”

Amanda panics. “No! Please don’t...”

KCUF studios.Me?” says a shocked Desiree.

“I know you can do it, Desi,” says Simon. “Just have confidence in yourself.”

“But I’ve never done it before!”

“This is to save Karen,” implores Alex.

“Believe in yourself, Desi. You can do anything you put your mind to.” Simon kisses her on the forehead.

“Okay... I’ll do it.”

The Committee and the studio crew cheer.

broadcast time. Desiree paces outside the studio door and tries to calm herself. She struggles to take deep breaths and control her nervous shaking. She’s about to carry the news to the nation and the whole world as her sisters watch on.

“Relax, Desi,” she tells herself in a shaky voice. “Just breathe deep and remain calm. You can do it. Yes, you can do it. Just believe in yourself. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo...”

“We’re on!” says Simon over the PA. Desiree shrieks and hurries into the studio.
The opening logo graphic plays.

Announcer: On the Pirate Television Network, this is Real News, Evening Edition.

The camera zooms on Desiree. She radiates perfect calm and absolute determination.

Desiree: Good evening. I am Desiree Richter-Thomas. Tonight, we have breaking news about the recent security disasters hitting Metropolitan Seattle, exclusive to PTN Real News. We have come into possession of a series of videos incriminating Admiral Alan Fleer in a series of adulteries. Here we must warn you that these videos contain disturbing material; parental discretion is advised.

The least explicit but most incriminating Fleer/Falconer video runs.

This video captures Admiral Fleer committing adultery with Bremerton High School vice principal and suspected drug dealer Honey Sue Falconer...
At that moment, Shira releases all the Fleer adultery vids onto the Darknet and posts the link. At first, only the diehards download them. Then they pass them on via encrypted links to other hackers, who upload them to the pirate emulation and warez servers, which send them down to the P2P servers just beyond Echelon’s surveillance threshold. From there, people download them onto their phones and computers, then pass them on via encrypted wireless channels to their friends, who send them to their friends, and so on, till the videos go viral.
Desiree: ...And that’s our report for tonight. On behalf of all of us at Real News, have courage, everybody. [She winks.]
Everybody in the KCUF studio cheers ecstatically. After the camera zooms out and the closing graphic begins, Shira and Charlie run as fast as they can into the newsroom, glomp Desiree, and dance together with her. Shira cries, “You did it, Desi! You did it!” Jennifer, Connor, and Alex soon join the group hug.

Admiral’s House, Naval Base Bremerton. Admiral Fleer slugs his wife to the floor and screams, “What the hell were you trying to do, Eden?”

She shrieks, “Trying to save you from yourself, Alan! Obviously I failed!”

He takes his pistol out of its holster. “What are you doing, Alan? Oh, please don’t—”

Alan Fleer shoots his wife dead. In irrational rage, he shoots and shoots till the trigger clicks. Then he loads another clip and empties it into his wife’s corpse, then another. For several minutes after that, he clicks the empty gun at her again and again and again, totally unconscious of the consequences of murdering a Princess of the Realm.

outside the studio. Stu Kowalczyk whips out his pistol and yells, “Freeze!”

J.T. takes his own pistol out and also holds it on Shira. He whispers to her, “Play along.” Stu winks.

The two agents, dressed MIB, handcuff Shira, drag her to their unmarked Lincoln and put her in the back seat. J.T. texts to Desiree the one word: “Falconer.”

When Desiree sees it, she laughs.

principal’s office. Arriving on Thirteenth Street, the car stops in front of the Bremerton High front entrance. The agents take Shira out, uncuff her, and flank her as they walk up to the entrance. It’s unlocked just for them, so they enter and go into the principal’s office. Principal Principal and Vice Principal Falconer away them. Joining them: Diana Shockley.

“Well, hello, Princess!” says Shira cheerily.

“Silence!” barks Shockley.

“Aren’t you gonna ask her questions, Diana?” asks Stu.

“About the videos,” adds J.T.

Diana looks at Falconer, who glares down at an unrepentant and eerily calm Shira. In an unusually low and slow voice oozing with hatred, Falconer asks Shira, “Where did you get those videos?”

Shira smiles. “From Arvid Shield.” She looks at Diana. “He got them from your sister. She made them.”

Diana stares at Falconer. For once, the Major begins to sweat. Diana says nothing to her. She quickly turns back to Shira and demands, “Why did you release them, and why now?”

“Because the Major here betrayed my cousin to her lover, specifically for torture, even as he was cheating with her on his own wife, your sister.” To Falconer: “I warned you, Major, if you tried to do anything stupid against us to protect your drug ring, we would strike back. You did, so we did. It’s not about my cousin. It’s about your drugs that have already killed at least one student athlete.”

Diana suddenly turns her head toward Falconer. “What?!

“That’s right, Princess. The Major uses drugs to lure this school’s top students into a life of crime.” To Falconer: “The Slasher Hunters have been onto you from the beginning, Honey Bunny. We made the connection between you and the serial killers we’ve been catching. We caught you trading drugs with Byron Scofield, Stan Green, and their muscleboy army. And now the trail leads all the way to the Puget Sound Naval Command, thanks to your affair with Admiral Fleer, which the world now knows all about. And since the Admiral’s wife is a Princess of the Realm, whose sister is standing right next to you, it echoes all the way to the imperial throne. And the evidence is all right here.” She holds up Arvid’s SD card.

“She’s lying!” shrieks Falconer. “That mudblood bitch is a traitor! Mudbloods always lie! Get her! Stop her before she destroys everything!”

Shira tosses the card to Diana. “There’s more than just the Admiral’s flings on it. There’s surveillance cam video of the Major engaging in drug deals, some of them with respectable pillars of the Empire. Mr. Shield has included incriminating video of sexcrimes against him that could destroy his father, the Governor. All the evidence is there, including everything the Slasher Hunters uncovered while tracking down serial killers. Don’t bother to take fingerprints; the handwriting’s Arvid’s. And don’t bother suppressing it, either. He wouldn’t give it to me unless I promised to copy it. That’s why I released it.”

Falconer stares down at Shira in utter horror. “You. fucking. whore.”

The agents stare at her grimly. Shira smiles enigmatically. Diana says, “For once I have to agree with my old enemy. I would order you to cease and desist. But now that you have directly involved my sister by luring her husband into adultery, I have no choice but to charge you with grave crimes against morality.”

Stu’s phone rings. He answers. “Hello?... Yes?... What?... Oh, this is so screwed... ’Bye.” He hangs up. “Oh, by the way, Diana, your sister is dead.”

What?!” Diana glares hatefully at Falconer and struggles the temptation to kill her on the spot. “I’m now also charging you with conspiracy to commit murder in the commission of crimes against morality.” To her agents: “Arrest this witch!”

Stu and J.T. grin at each other. “Yes ma’am!”

Dean Principal can only sit there, paralyzed. His grotesque grin fails to hide his terror. He whimpers.
Desiree Richter-Thomas: Real News have just received word that Admiral Alan Fleer has just murdered his wife, Princess Eden Becket. We have acquired video evidence of the crimes he may have been covering up when he killed her. Warning: the following contains some very disturbing material.

Analog video footage of Fleer savagely beating a naked child prostitute.

Desiree: It has come to light that Fleer has been seen raping and murdering enslaved child prostitutes in the Seattle area. This is just one of the many tapes seized by police investigators in their periodic crackdowns on child prostitution establishments. Charges are expected to be filed against Fleer soon.
Fleer’s office. “Now you’ve gone and done it,” says Shepherd-Mayor Luke Everson over the vidphone. “You’ve turned the whole House of Becket against you.”

“What are they? Just a bunch of Corp faggots. They’re weak. They know they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against the Imperial Armed Forces.”

“But they are the Nation, Alan.”

Fleer points at the screen. “That’s bullshit, and you know it! The military is the Nation! Without the military, there ain’t no Nation! Well, guess what, Shepherd? We’re about to take our Nation back from those traitor Corps! You better play along nicely if you wanna survive.”

The Mayor realizes he’s now trapped. “I’m afraid that’s for the Lord to decide, Admiral.” His image disappears, ending the call.
Admiral Alan Fleer: Our Nation has been made weak by the weakness of its Corporate elite. America is the one true God! Our fighting men offer themselves in willing sacrifice to Jesus America. But as long as the Corporate House of Becket continues to plunder the Empire for their own sick pleasures, their sacrifice is in vain! The Beckets have turned America away from God and submitted it to the dominion of a pagan demon lord — Mammon!

I hereby declare myself True King of Texas! I call for the arrest of that Corporate usurper, Roger Becket, and his House for immediate execution as traitors! [thrusts hand in the air in the Legionary Salute] Praise Jesus America! Hail Victory!
Public Safety Building. “Eden’s dead, John,” says Will to his brother, the NPA Section Chief.


“Alan killed her.”

Jack Becket’s smile cannot disguise his rage. Through his teeth he says, “Well, then. We’ll have to do something about him then, won’t we?”
John Cameron Becket, Cascadia section chief of the National Police Agency, makes an official pronouncement over the official media channels. His younger brother, LCDR William Jay Becket, CSA Imperial Navy, stands beside him in full dress uniform, holding his hat against his heart.

Jack Becket: I have just received word that Admiral Alan Fleer has just murdered his wife. She was our sister, Eden Marie Cromwell Becket of Dictel, Incorporated, Imperial Princess of the Confederate States of America. He murdered her to cover up evidence of his crimes of adultery and rape, and his involvement in the transport and distribution of illegal drugs. He has now committed treason against our Nation. He has declared war against our King.

I order the arrest of Alan James Fleer for the crimes of adultery, child rape, murder, and treason. If the traitor Fleer believes he can wage war against our sacred Nation, the Nation is duty-bound to take the war to him.
command center. Admiral Fleer commands, “Launch the drones! Destroy the city!”

His war technicians answer in unison, “Yes, sir!”

From every ship in the North Cascadian Fleet, from every bunker on every Navy base on the shores of the Salish Sea, millions of drones launch toward Seattle. Massive flocks of them darken the sky beneath them. On Fleer’s command, they will launch their missiles at the city and reduce it to rubble.

Shira’s apartment. Option, Shira’s analytical, says through her phone, “I have detected that the Admiral’s air drones all run Windows. Several show evidence of previous infection.”

“Perfect.” Shira dismisses Option and fires up Back Orifice on the Droid. The Linux-based Windows infection loads up her most recently modified drone rootkit. Option finds the secret channels the drones communicate on and opens them, then syncs the Droid to them. Back Orifice sends copies of the rootkit over the open channels to every activated air drone; they install themselves into the drones’ firmware and onto the root sectors of their storage drives.

command center. “Admiral! The drones are changing course!”


“They’re headed back to base! They’re attacking base!

“Order them back on course!”

“We can’t! They’ve been hijacked!”

“Then sound the air raid siren! Now!

“Yes sir!”

The drones speed back to the bases that launched them and unleash their missiles. Ships sink, weapons emplacements blow sky high. The drones make kamikaze raids on ships, weapons factories, supply convoys and trains. In just a few minutes, the North Cascadia Fleet is destroyed!

In utmost hysteria, at the top of his lungs, Admiral Alan Fleer cries out the name of Spanner.
Spanner: Big Al Fleer, miles gloriosus, wants to take over America and destroy civilization. There’s enough jihadis in the Caliphate. Western Civilization doesn’t need more on our home turf. Now he’s got the Dictels’ panties in a bundle. They’ll eat him alive. Sucks to be you, Big Al.
school library. After Falconer’s arrest, the principal proves easy for Shira to blackmail. He gives her the keys to the school. She summons Team Spanner to the library for an emergency meeting.

“Karen’s arrest,” she announces, “has thrown a wrench into our plans. That means we gotta hammer out Plan B.”

“Actually,” replies Jennifer, “the plan’s still on track. The only problem’s that we don’t have a leader now.”

Cory says, “But we built Plan A all around Karen. I’m with Shira. We need a Plan B.”

“Then we should have planned for it before they kidnapped Karen. We’d have Plan B ready right now.”

Courtney stands up. “If Shira’s right and all our original rally will do is bring in a horde of gangsters wanting to beat us up, then how about we do this for Karen?”

“You mean,” asks Shira, “we hold our rally, say, at the jail and call for her release?”

“That’s right!”

Polly asks, “Isn’t she being held at the Bangor Jail right now?”

“Isn’t the brig on base more secure?” asks Kio.

“Not with what’s been going on at the base lately.”

“So who’ll lead it?” asks Courtney.

“Can’t you?”

“I’m afraid I’m nothing like Karen that way.”

“Well,” says Shira, “if nobody else wants to do it, then I will.”

J.T. rises out of his chair. “No!

“What are you saying?”

No leaders!

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

“A leader is either a tyrant or a martyr, sometimes even both. But he’s a Single Point of Vulnerability. Take out the capstone, the pyramid falls! Our plans have to be collective, democratic, and clandestine if we want to even survive!”

“But that’s impossible!” protests Sally.

“Then resistance is futile. Think of the Internet. Just think of it! Why did it survive even after Echelon destroyed the Web? Because its structure is distributed. Data goes takes as many routes as it can, not just for speed but to prevent a bottleneck that one hack can take out. The Net was designed to survive a nuclear war! How? By preventing the emergence of any Single Point of Vulnerability!

“A leader is such a bottleneck. Don’t say anything about so-called ‘democratic centralism’; a synarchy is the same thing. If we want to take the base out from under the pyramid, we can’t let another pyramid form, or the old one will fall right back on top of us. Speak only to your equals. Use flash mobs and viral messaging. Keep it horizontal and, above all, distributed.”

“In other words,” says Shira, “if everybody’s a co-leader, they’ll have to take us all out before they can stop us. Right?”


21 October 2014
The NPA places a fresh new batch of copbots onto the city streets. The military once again darkens the skies with replacement drones. The NSA sends millions of new camdrones flying into the cities to watch everything. Shira toys with the camdrones’ transmissions to Echelon. Otherwise, she wants the authorities to settle into a complacency that stifles their paranoia before she gives the signal to strike.

The decision to strike without leaders changed the protest’s focus. No longer will it be merely about Karen. The single-issue hotheads continue to be possessed by their agendas. But the majority will strike over what the Synarchy scornfully call bread-and-butter issues. They know that the most important of all rights is the right to live.

Shira has agreed to be the herald. But she is not a leader. She merely holds the starting gun. The magic bullet will kill the expensive war machines. Only then can the human strikers take to the streets.

The gods watch them from on high. They are impassive, yet wary. They remain smug in their sense of superiority to the presumptuous monkeys. But they do not underestimate them.

school. The Bremeloes get off the bus and enter the school only to find Diana Shockley in the lobby, waiting for Shira and pointing her pistol at her.

“What are you doing? I didn’t kill your sister, Princess.”

Schuyler glomps her dark cousin from behind and begs Diana, “Please don’t do anything to her, Aunt Diana!”

Diana’s gun hands shakes. “Why are you trying to destroy the country?” she demands.

“Destroy something that’s already dead? What do you want me to do, use my magic to bring an already dead Empire back to life? You know I can’t do it, and neither can you. I’m just trying to get as many people out of the way as I can, so they won’t get crushed when the corpse comes down for a hard landing.”

Cop and rebel stare at each other for a seeming eternity. Then she hears her nieces, the Fleer sisters, pleading for her to stop. And she remembers the vow Charlie and Desiree made to destroy her if she does any harm to their sister. Diana puts her gun back into its shoulder holster, goes “Hmph!” in frustration, and storms out of the building.

Shira asks the Fleer sisters, “Why the concern for me?”

Dorian says, “We thought she was about to shoot you!” She puts her hands to her face and sobs. “This is just too much!”

Christian wails, “Why did he have to molest Vivian? He could have done it to any of us!”

Shira marvels at the trauma Fleer has inflicted on his daughters by murdering their mother. Dorian finds her way into Shira’s arms, holds her as close as she can, and sobs incoherently about the mother she adored and lost. Charmian pries one of Dorian’s arms off Shira and puts it around herself, then embraces both of them and cries on Shira’s shoulder. Julian and Schuyler hug Shira from behind; Courtney joins them at Shira’s side; Debbie spots them and joins their group hug. The nieces of Eden Becket Fleer cry for her and don’t bother to notice when the homeroom bell sounds.

Admiral’s House. Dictel security agents rush toward the base commander’s residence overlooking Sinclair Inlet. Two herds of squad cars approach from either end of Decatur Road. A small army of security agents rush into the house, first as a large group, then in a long line through the front door of the nineteenth-century house and up the stairs. When they reach the Admiral’s bedroom, they find Fleer, naked on the bed, bleeding out through a chest wound. Above him, his daughter Vivian stands with his service pistol in her hand, her underwear only half on.

The last words of the man who would be Emperor of America are: “You... fucking... whore—”

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Copyright © 2010 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

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