Friday, January 14, 2011

Spanner Chapter 21: High School Banned

The action gets fast and furious as we approach the climax of Book 1. The two big clashes, though, are yet to come.

I’ll just shut my trap now and let the story speak for itself. But not before I make sure you know that you still ain’t seen nothing yet...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 21: High School Banned

We learn not in the school, but in life.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I never let schooling interfere with my education.
Mark Twain

21 October 2014
Shira’s apartment.
The windows to Shira’s bedroom: replaced. Source of payment: the Slasher Hunters’ bounty money. Hunters present in the living room: Shira Thomas, John Peck, Lars Ulquiorra, Brandi Quinn, Arisa Saionji.
Peck: Big Al Fleer is dead.
Shira: One down, three to go.
Arisa: The Fearsome Foursome are now the Terrible Trio.
Brandi: He went out in the worst way possible.
Shira: In an incestuous clinch, taken out by his own daughter in a fit of jealousy.
Lars: (grins) And the daughter in question was Vicious Vivian.
Arisa: (chuckles) Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving motherfucker.
Peck: Even if we’d caught Fleer, there’s no way we could have collected on him. He was too connected.
Brandi: He was too high up in the hierarchy, too important to the men who rule.
Shira: But if the whole System’s going down, no one man’s safe, no matter how high he climbs.
Black Tower. The men who rule Seattle look down upon the city they hate. Cascadia Governor J. Walter Brinkman, Seattle Mayor Shepherd Luke Everson, and NPA Cascadia Section Chief John Cameron Becket do not wait for the Imperial Confederate Navy to replace the fallen Alan Fleer with a new Supreme Commander for the North Cascadia Fleet. The Fearsome Foursome welcome Fleer’s replacement, Randolph G. “Rat Bastard” Litton.
Brinkman: Welcome, Mr. Litton.
Everson: (raises hand in salute) Jesus America be with thee.
Becket: Father speaks highly of you, Mr. Litton.
Litton: Cut the crap, boys. And don’t fucking call me “Rat Bastard.” Let’s get down to business.
Brinkman: The problem is Spanner.
Litton: That’s all? Just one guy?
Becket: You don’t seem to be doing too well against him so far, Litton.
Litton: ’Cuz you idiots ain’t backing me up with action, One-Eye. If the one behind this Spanner is the same bitch keeps owning your daddy in chess, you’re in deep shit. I want charges, trumped up; evidence, planted; arrests, false, everybody; disinfo, floods of it. You go call your men, Becket; I’ll go make a call to my friend the Toymaker. (leaves)
Everson: Are you sure he’s trustworthy?
Brinkman: (puffs on cigar) The Rat Bastard is never trustworthy. That, my friend, is why we need him.
Becket: We’ll see...
the brig. As Vivian Fleer is brought to her cell, she feigns the nobility of a political prisoner. The working-class sailor girls in the surrounding cells aren’t fooled by her pose. They mock the fallen princess relentlessly.

Diana is surprised to find J.T. assigned to the interrogation. “What were you in the Navy?” she demands.

“Submariner,” he answers casually. “Radio man.”

“So you were NCIS before the consolidation?”

“Yeah. Now stay clear. No relatives allowed. I say this only for your own good, and your niece’s.”

From the transcript:
J.T.: Okay now, Miss Fleer, can—
Vivian: (offended) I am a princess. You will address me properly, officer.
J.T.: (unmoved) Yes, Your Highness. Now, Your Highness, will you please tell me—
Vivian: (haughtily) And you will cut that silly emo mop top. It’s an insult to American manhood!
J.T.: (annoyed) Noted. Now can you tell us the circumstances surrounding your father’s death?
Vivian: (indignant) He was going to leave me for that hideous Falconer woman! He already murdered Mother, and now he was trying to kill me! The treacherous bastard! That woman needs to be destroyed! (begins to cry)
J.T.: (professionally) You’ll be pleased to hear, then, that we’ve picked her up on drug charges. You may plead self-defense at the arraignment, and you may file charges against Falconer if you prefer. (stands up) That is all, Your Highness. You may go.
Vivian: (sniffs) Thank you, Agent.
“That was quick,” says Diana.

“She may prove useful.”

“That was awfully callous of you. You know she just lost both her parents.”

“She’s your niece, not mine. Besides, she orphaned herself.” Diana glares at J.T. as he walks away.

As the guards lead Vivian back to her cell, the enlisted women resume their mocking. One goes, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” The other prisoners laugh. Vivian haughtily harrumphs.

KCUF studios. Jennifer says, “Corporate princelings can do that, you know.”

“Whoa,” says Deth. “You mean like kill their wives and marry their daughters?”

“If they buy the right Exception, they can marry their daughters and still remain married to their wives, however many wives they have. Polygamy is perfectly legal under the Eugenics Code.”

“But porking their own daughters ain’t.”

Jennifer grins deviously. “You mean you haven’t yet heard the news about the Eugenics Institute’s new Pharaonic Rule? The Pharaohs insisted on marrying their own sisters to keep their bloodline pure.”

“Oh shit. Oh, fuck. This is starting to get interesting like the Chinese curse says! I love it!”
Desiree: Newly uncovered evidence reveals that the murder of Admiral Alan Fleer by his daughter Vivian may have been in revenge for his murder of her mother. She has pleaded innocent by reason of self-defense...
22 October 2014
Shira’s apartment.
Hope has turned her office into election central. Shira gives Leila the tour. She sweeps her arm panoramically and says, “Welcome to our command center.”

“Isn’t that just another Single Point of Vulnerability?”

“Not the way we’ve designed it. It’s a node, not the node. Basically we connect with other nodes, and then we connect ’em.”

“I hope you have a better security system now.”

“Actually, the whole building does. All the condos in town upgraded after Vinnie and Becky attacked Ai-chan.”

“How’s Aira doing, anyway?”

“Charlie and Desiree are giving her their special ‘TLC’ treatment, so she’s back to her bubbly old self now. She absolutely adores ’em. I think they’ve fallen hopelessly in love with her. I hope they adopt.”

“At least that’ll keep the little freak out of my hair.”

Shira laughs. “Anyway, (Hi, Moon!) [“Hiiii!”], Moon’s manning security on the Darknet side. The Roaches are taking alternating shifts till the Big Day.”

“You mean those naked guys who took over our bed?”

“Hey, everybody here knows only barbarians wear clothes in the house.” Shira winks. She points at Selene. “Big sister here’s helping us set up the comm system. Alex and Nick already set up the vote system on the Darknet. Open source, of course, unlike that hopelessly rigged proprietary Diebold crap. All voting’s by phone this time. Deth Pussy contributed the Phreaks’ foolproof system for detecting Diebold hacks, ’cuz we’re all expecting all the Mobs’ botnets to pull some doozies. Its packet filters also work on DDoSes...”


“Distributed Denial of Service attacks. The botnet specialty. This time we expect Echelon to pull its biggest one since the Infowar. I think it’s jealous.”

“No, they’re jealous.”

“That too.”

Moon sighs hard. Selene groans, “Tell me about it.”

“Never underestimate the malice of power-hungry royals. This is Saudi America, remember. But you already know that.”

“I should.”

“So what’s Grandpa Wally cooking up these days?”

“You know, the standard police state overreaction? Hello, Shira?”

“You mean his usual bully crap, when he’s not trying to force his Moses Plan down our throats.”

“Moses Plan?” asks Moon.

“As in Robert Moses, the guy who tried to deconstruct New York. Jane Jacobs stopped him fifty years ago before he could put ten lanes through Washington Square. Today, Wally’s got Tim ‘Darth Horses-Ass’ Eyman [Moon giggles at the nickname] in charge. Darth wants to blast some twenty-lane canyons into Seattle’s densest neighborhoods, even as we’re trying to put all our downtown freeways underground to get ’em out of our way. Sound Transit’s convinced Darth’s hiring Wog suicide bombers to blow up all the transit lines. I hear people around here are downloading The Death and Life of Great American Cities in record numbers.”

“I didn’t know about that one,” Leila confesses.

“Oh yeah, he had you stashed away in Pretty City. Speaking of which, the Moses Plan’s ultimate goal is to depopulate the cities and imprison everybody in isolated Arcologies. Those are the old suburban Edge Cities crossed with company towns, stashed out in the middle of nowhere. That way, the Corps can own the people there. You can’t vote where you’re bought and paid for like a slave.”

“I should go tell Grandfather’s slaves.”

“Moon, any trouble yet?”

“I just saw some zombies from Russia try and drop off some dead people votes,” says Moon airily. “They fell off the face of the earth. The dead people votes, I mean. The zombies were running iOS.”

Shira grins. “Apple traitorware has its uses.”

school. An angry and disturbed Christian Fleer confronts Shira in the main hallway. “You killed my father, didn’t you.”

“Hardly. I didn’t vid those adulterous affairs your father was carrying on, especially with Honey Falconer. Your mother did that. I didn’t record his little games with those poor slave girls; he did that himself. And I certainly didn’t contest the Exception he and Vivian bought for themselves. In fact, I’m convinced Vivian was entirely justified for once. Who knows, your big sister might have saved your life.”

“Then why did you make those vids public?!

“Your mother did that herself. I was merely connected with the one media outlet that wasn’t toadying him. She wanted him to repent, you see. Turns out he was too far gone into kamikaze mode. If you wanna blame anybody, blame him. If you don’t believe me, ask Vivian.”

Shira walks away calmly. Christian glares at her and resists the temptation to shout something foolish.

cafeteria. Shira finds Mimi blissfully blushing in Rob’s comforting arms. “Rob’s a totally sweet guy,” says Mimi. “I’m so glad he’s letting me get to know him.”

“Hi, Shira,” says Rob. Shira hugs and kisses them both. “How’s Leila handling things?”

“Pretty well, considering. You going to the meeting?”

“What meeting?”

“Homeroom bell rings, we’re meeting in the library. Be there or be square.” Shira winks.

library. Dave Whitmer and Sylvia Plame have cancelled their homeroom classes so the Peace Committee can meet in closed session. Leila enters with her arm around her cousin Rachel.

“Isn’t she banned?” demands Polly.

“I underestimated the Vice Principal, Polly,” says Rachel. “And I didn’t realize how much it freaked Leila out. I’m horribly sorry.” Rachel goes to hug Polly, but the younger girl hesitates. But then Polly decides to forgive, and gives Rachel a big hug and kisses her on the cheek. Rachel cries in gratitude.

Dorian Fleer insists on entering, but Cory and Kio get in the way. “You can’t come in, Fleer,” warns Cory.

“No Mafia allowed,” adds Kio. “That means not just soldiers but princesses.”

“You can’t do this without me,” says Dorian. “Try it, and they’ll eat you alive. You need me. And I’m the only one who can bring Karen back.” Everybody stares at Dorian. “Well?” After several seconds, Cory and Kio relent, and Dorian takes a seat at the big table. “Thank you.”

Shira looks at Rachel and then Dorian uneasily. “Okay, then. Since Karen’s still kidnapped—”

Dorian laughs. Everybody looks at her, annoyed. “I never thought of it that way. But I did overhear him talking about it. You were his next target, Shira.”

Shira stares at Dorian for an endless moment. “Did he say anything about a police, army, or Minuteman strike?”

Dorian starts to sweat nervously and struggles to remember.

Harumi interrupts. “I heard a lot of bad things on the news.”

“Tell me,” says Shira.

“They were saying peace people are bad, and they’re betraying [air quotes] ‘our fighting men who sacrifice their lives for our nation,’ and they ought to beat us up for being such chickens.”

“I think they were telegraphing their plans.”

Dorian says, “Bart says his brother plans to break him and his Team out of jail.”

Cory, Kio, and Chuck laugh. “You mean they went to jail?” mocks Cory.

Shira winks. “They were sore losers, darlin’.”

“Right after they lost,” says Jennifer scornfully, “those losers went around smashing everything in range.”

“Bart destroyed the fisherman statue downtown with his bare hands,” Mimi marvels.

Harumi and Seika stare at each other in shock. “Oh my...” says Seika. Jennifer and Connor shake their heads in disbelief. Leila rolls her eyes.

Dorian stands up and asserts, “We need to do this for Karen’s sake. The rally must go on.”

Leila says coldly, “Famous last words, Dorian. You know your father’s friends will double their efforts to smash us for his sake. Billions of dollars in defense stocks are at stake. I fully expect Dictel-Blackwater itself to brush the police and military away and do away with us directly. Its board members still control this state. Remember?”

Shira stands up and smiles wide. “That’s where we come in, girlfriend. Let’s start a new subcommittee just to deal with the threat, with me, Jennifer, Cory, and Harumi. Let’s call it the Defense Subcommittee, just for giggles.”

“And what is that supposed to do?” asks Dorian skeptically.

“We’re not taking the bad guys on directly, no. We’re gonna trick ’em out of our way. And I don’t mean just disinfo this time. I mean magic.”

Jennifer slaps her forehead. “Now why didn’t we think of that before?”

Dorian says, “That’s not going to get Karen out of jail.”

Shira winks. “We’ve already got that planned.”

“So how are we going to get her out?” asks Polly.

“We use the bad guys as our weapon.”

23 October 2014
school lobby.
Debbie yells, “Incoming!”

“Everybody take your positions!” commands Shira. “This is our first test!”

Dozens of students scramble to take the positions Shira and Jennifer have mapped out for them. One group of six remains: Shira, Jennifer, Connor, Cory, Harumi, and Leila. “I hope you’re right about this,” says Leila.

Shira kisses her and winks. “Trust me.” Harumi giggles.

Soon enough, the Spics’ vehicles roar up to the door. Several gangsters leap out and jump the unprepared guards.

Jennifer says, “Test number one, commencing.” The six run to their hidden positions throughout the lobby and cafeteria, and await the gangsters’ arrival. After pummelling the guards, the gangsters burst through the doors. Finding no one to beat up, they spin around in confusion. One points to the principal’s office. Another rushes in, opens the door, finds nobody.

(Harumi whispers, “Where’s the principal?” Shira chuckles; “Cowering under his desk in the back office.” Harumi rolls her eyes; “Oh.”)

Suddenly the lights go out. Jennifer, Connor, and the Shelley twins pull the shades over the front entrance so that no light enters, then evade flailing gangsters in the darkness. Shira leaves Harumi and darts between the gangsters, hitting them, provoking them into punching each other. They scream at each other in Spanglish and go to war. By the time the lights come back on, they’re beating each other to bloody pulp.

The Peace Defense Subcommittee casually reassemble. Jennifer says, “That was easy.”

Shira shrugs. “Actually, I could have done it in broad daylight. It’s the steroids.”

24 October 2014
ferry terminal.
“Test number two,” says Jennifer.

“You got two groups of Islam bombers coming here?” gasps Polly. “At the same time?

Shira kisses her on the cheek. “Don’t forget to duck when I give the signal.” She winks. Polly sighs in frustration.

Before the Westside buses arrive, two cars race up the bus ramp. Shira calls Cory on her Droid. “Now!” The fire alarm sounds. People scatter away from the exposed walkways. Shira’s team and the police on the scene hide in sheltered nooks from where the cops can shoot.

Then another group of cars speed the wrong way up the opposite ramp and ram the cars already at the bus dropoff; several more armed men get out. The two groups shoot at each other and accuse each other of blasphemy at the top of their lungs in Arabic. Soon no Wogs are left alive to detonate their bomb jackets.

When the Subcommittee get back together in the fountain plaza, J.T. comes up to them and asks, “How’d you do that?”

“Oh, I let each of their bosses know the other jacked their heroin stash,” says Shira casually. “Subtly, of course.”

Evergreen Park. “Test number three,” says Jennifer.

“You’re gonna like this one,” Shira says to Harumi. The Japanese girl grins.

“So what’s the trick going to be this time, Shira?” asks a flustered Polly.

“Remember what Batman said?”

“You know I don’t read those silly comic books!”

“He said, ‘Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot.’ This is where the magic comes in.” Shira winks.

They hide behind trees, gazebos, sheds, picnic tables, trash cans. Some cans move. They assemble inflatable monsters and arm them with Roman candles and bottle rockets. They return to their hiding places, put on scary costumes, and pick up spud cannons.

(Polly: “We’re doing this in broad daylight?” Shira winks.)

Soon the Honkies race into the parking lots, wantonly smash cars, try to run over picnickers and joggers and dogs on the grass. Jennifer winks; Harumi grins, Shira flashes a wicked cockeyed smirk.

Inflatable monsters pop out of the trash cans and firepits. Controlled by phones, wands, and Wiimotes, they fire at gangsters and four-bys. Other monsters leap out from behind barriers and descend from the trees, shooting potatoes into the Honkies’ windows and skulls.

The Honkies panic. The suddenness of the attack and the freakishness of their attackers convince them that they’re under attack from demons. Some run aimlessly and scream for Jesus America to save them. Some stop driving and cower under their four-bys. Some lash out in irrational rage and shoot wildly. But the demon attack does not let up. Soon the gangsters pile into their trucks and speed away the way they came, as fast as their panic can propel them.

The Bremeloes take off their hideous masks and let out a wild collective whoop.

“That was the trick?” asks Polly, stunned.

Shira winks. “Hey, magic is the art of illusion.”

Public Safety Building. Jack Becket reviews intercepted phonecam videos of the Evergreen Park disturbance. “Looks like some clever gangbusting to me.”

Litton keeps his steely eyes on the screen. “Don’t be deceived. Our opponent’s obviously got something up her sleeve.”

dogfight arena. Several Bremeloes and Slasher Hunters sneak themselves into strategic locations throughout Ole-Ole’s property. Safely away from the action, Polly asks Shira over the phone, “What’s the trick this time?”

“It’s the dark-night test. The gangsters are hyped on adrenaline and steroids. They’ll be distracted by Tournaments. Too bad Debbie couldn’t come along. I’d so love to see her bite her big brother’s head off.” Polly groans and hangs up.

“Test number four,” says Jennifer.

“This time with flashing lights,” adds Shira.

When the day was still bright and the property still empty, four Hunters (Brandi, Arisa, Lars, Martin) and three hackers (Deth Pussy, Evil the Cat, El Kabong) hid inflatable demons in all the trash cans, firepits, and outhouses, and in every hidden nook and cranny in the warehouse and the crudely kludged arena. In them, the hackers installed portable light shows in addition to the firework weaponry. While they had time to spare, they replaced all the hidden cameras with holographic projectors that look identical and contain microcameras to eliminate suspicion.

After dark, when the crowds arrive, the Bremelo “ninja team” (Shira, Jennifer, Connor, Cory, and all three Shelley siblings) sneak in and use the crowd itself as their camouflage. They slip remotely triggered firecrackers and compact fireworks into jacket and jean pockets and down the exposed butt cracks of fat gangsters. They put noisemakers into purses, pouches, and pockets, down breast and butt cleavage.

Frank Becket will not come tonight. Team Spanner know that this canine Tournament masks a meeting of gang bosses over how to spring Frank and other criminals. Shira has already sent a rumor onto the grapevine saying that Frank intends to kill his own father, the Chief of Police.

The preparations are finished. No Bremeloes or Slasher Hunters will be present to fight the gangs this time. They sneak back out of the arena, snake through the parked cars and out of gangsters’ field of vision, back to the vans. The hackers join Lars in the unmarked Real News van. The “ninja team” join the Hunters and take out their phones. Lars appears on their screens. “You all ready?” The Bremeloes click yes.

The Skeever Brothers arrive: Johnny, Geordie, Tony, and Eddie. With them, the members of Eddie’s hate metal band, Gang: the Hitler Brothers, Sikki Sykopath, and Barney SATAN! The assembled gangsters hail the Skeevers like conquering heroes. Johnny Skeever commands the crowd like a Mongol khan. The gangsters are all as juiced as their drug-maddened fighting dogs. Johnny is about to give the signal to unleash the dogs into the pit when the attack begins.

Glowing demons pop out of trash cans and hidden corners, firing their bright screaming Chinese explosives into the packed crowd of agitated gangsters.

Johnny Skeever growls, “Oh. fucking. shit.”

“Whoooo-hoo!” cries Lars. Shira flashes a beautiful wicked grin as she taps her Droid wildly to activate multiple arrays of luminous inflatable attackers. Hackers and bounty hunters and high school fight clubbers wildly manipulate their controllers to remotely guide the monsters to hit their panicked targets. Gangsters shoot wildly at brightly lit moving targets; all too frequently they hit each other.

Shira taps the speaker icon. Deafening sirens scream between buttocks and breasts. Gangsters and molls howl and writhe in pain and struggle to get free of the painfully vibrating noisemakers and fling them away from their bodies. Before they can recover their breaths, she taps the firecracker icon. Firecrackers explode inside gangsters’ butt cracks; fireworks burn their way out of pockets; injured gangsters scream and rage and shoot and shoot and shoot.

“Consider yourselves owned, boys.” Shira taps the ghost icon to activate the holovid projectors. Ghosts and demons suddenly materialize and swoop down on the terrified Honkies, Russkies, Wops, and Tinks, firing lasers in five colors. The criminal crowds storm the arena exits in blind panic and trample each other to death.

Left alone on the platform, humiliated and enraged, Johnny Skeever screams at the top of his lungs the name of Spanner.

Karen’s house. Members and friends of the Richter-Thomas family gather at the house of Karen Kubota and her parents, Eiji Kubota and Reva Richter-Thomas. Eiji is short and charming; Karen got her genki temperament from him. Reva is tall, elegant, and beautiful like her younger and less jazzy siblings; her long hair is black and silver. Karen’s older sister Saffron Sakura Kubota takes more after her father in appearance and temperament; the brothers between them, Sage and Shin, are more like their mother. They are a Buddhist family who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; the altar in which they have enshrined their family Gohonzon is magnificent.

One of Karen’s lifelong goals is to convert Shira to Buddhism so they can chant together side by side. But Karen is still being held at the squalid, fascistic Bangor Jail where she was taken after Fleer’s murder. Out of their love for Karen, Shira and her sisters Charlie and Desiree chant together with her family; out of love for Shira, the Shelley twins join her. Karen’s boyfriend, Dexter Conway, has become single-minded in his practice for her sake; his sheer determination inspires everyone.

Present but not chanting: Willa Richter-Thomas, her wife and younger daughter Jennifer, her son Connor, and her older daughter Alex de Lacey and her husband Nick Cyphers; Reva’s oldest son, Wally Breydon, and his beautiful black-haired wife Shadow Angel; Shira’s oldest sister, Ruby Shears, and her young daughter-wife Elle; cousins Clover, Courtney, and Schuyler Richter-Thomas; and the Shelley twins’ redheaded sister Fiona.

After gongyo, everybody takes a seat in the vast living room and the family meeting begins. The subject is Karen. As the Japanese Buddhist women’s division members bring in the food they’ve prepared, Reva opens the meeting. “Welcome, everybody! I wish it didn’t take an emergency like this to get us all together again. But Karen needs us. We have to stick together for her sake.” Cheers answer her.

Next to Reva, Dexter stands up, shaking with spiritual fire and absolute determination. (Schuyler: “Wow, she’s changed!” Shira: “Karen changed him.”) “This has been so hard on us. But we refuse to give up. We can’t give up! Karen would never give up. I know she’s not giving up! She’s fighting for us, so let’s fight for her! Karen, I love you so much! I don’t know what I’d do without you anymore. I’m chanting and chanting that you’ll be free again and not come to any harm.” He’s greeted by even more enthusiastic cheers.

Shira stands up and declares, “Karen will be free tonight!” Several of the others gasp and ooh. “I know the gang that kidnapped her, and they got her to get at me. They’re about to blow the Bangor Jail up to spring several of their goons. Team Spanner are sending a rescue mission to free all the political prisoners. She’ll be home by the time this meeting is over!”

Bangor Jail. In the criminal wing, Valiant Team sit on their bunks, too excited to sleep. Beck promised his teammates that his gangster brothers would come to free them. Silently they wait.

Among the criminals, Karen Kubota has developed a superstitious aura. They have come to believe that harm comes to people who harm her. “Big Al” Fleer himself, the most frighteningly violent of the Fearsome Foursome, harmed her, and now he is dead. If such a fate could come to a man they themselves fear, they know it can visit them too. Unknown to the Skeever Brothers or Team Valiant, some of the most hardened of them have silently vowed to help her escape.

In the political wing, Karen chants along with five women she has inspired with her determination, her refusal to give up, and her infectious cheerfulness. Her reputation has spread among the imprisoned pacifists that Fleer and his torturers have beaten into submission and despair. She refused to break even when the monstrous “Big Al” Fleer himself tortured and tried to rape her. Fleer tried to destroy her, only to end up destroying himself. Karen herself said that Fleer entered into a reverse relationship with the Dharma and is now destined to become a Buddha without fail; the other prisoners took it as a joke until she reminded them that in Chapter 12 of the Lotus Sutra, Śakyamuni Buddha himself proclaimed that his mortal enemy would become a Buddha himself, a prophecy fullfilled at the moment King Aśoka achieved enlightenment.

Outside the jail, the Skeever Brothers aim their rocket launchers at the jail. They have inside men among the guards. When the Skeevers blow a hole in the walls, the guards will open the cells and shepherd the criminals through. Among them: their kid brother and his fight club, now suspended from school pending conviction.

Five Slasher Hunters spy on the Skeever Brothers. Lars Ulquiorra mans the command center in the van. Martin Lansky prepares to blow a hole of his own in the jail walls if they find it necessary. Brandi Quinn and Arisa Saionji will help evacuate the political prisoners. John Peck will destroy anyone, cop or criminal, who gets in their way.

They have an inside man within the political wing’s interrogation center. Right now, J.T. Sparks awaits while Peck, disguised as a guard, brings Karen out to him. In the room with him are Russian gang moll Irina Lanskaya and a convicted thief named Elizabeth McPhail. By the time Peck brings Karen, Lizzy has told J.T. about the rumor that Frank Becket has put a contract out on his father, the Police Chief. Peck smiles; Shira spread that rumor through him.

Karen does not smile, yet she is radiant. Hours of chanting have developed in her a powerful spiritual aura. J.T. says, “Please sit down.” Peck slides out the empty chair between Irina and Lizzy so Karen can sit in it. “You wanna know something,” he explains, “I’ve studied some Buddhism on my own, not your kind, probably, but still. And one thing that struck me is, well, the Buddha got in trouble by proclaiming the emptiness of God, or śūnyatā. In other words, he said there’s no need for a supreme being. The Brahmins didn’t like that one bit, and the mullahs of Allah like it even less. Turns out the same thing goes for the State. The State is nothing less than man playing God. And God is empty, śūnya. That means the State, our modern substitute for the supreme being, is just as empty.”

Karen goes, “Huh?”

J.T. leans forward toward Karen. “We’re gonna get you outta here.”

The black man dressed as a guard says, “I’m John Peck of the Slasher Hunters, one of Shira’s friends. Admiral Fleer, the man who tried to murder you, is dead.”

The Skeevers launch a barrage of rockets and mortars at the jail. The alarm sounds. Guards working for the Skeever gang shoot other guards, most of them belonging to rival gangs. All the locked doors unlock and open. Peck gets out his phone to call Brandi and Arisa. “Do it. Now.”

J.T. barks, “Let’s go!” He takes out his pistol, takes Karen by the hand, and leads the way out. Irina and Lizzy follow, with Peck behind them. They join a growing crowd of political prisoners that Brandi and Arisa are ushering out, away from the Skeever op.

The Skeever gang take guns from fallen guards and turn them against rival gangsters and random convicts. They get their freed warriors out of the jail building and herd them into military transports Johnny-Johnny Johnson had stolen for them and stashed on Ole-Ole’s property. “Where’s Ole?”

“Ole’s dead,” Johnny Skeever snarls. “Rebel Styles herself killed him for the Slasher Hunters.”

Rebel Styles?” squeaks Johnny-Johnny. “That was her? Oh fucking shit—”

Big Geordie tosses Johnny-Johnny into a transport. Johnny gestures Tony to come with him and leaves to get their brother and his fight club.

Karen, Lizzy, and Irina help the Hunters evacuate the political prisoners. When the last of them are out, they turn and see the Valiants coming toward them. Beck squeals, “Karen!” He runs to her, falls to his knees, puts his arms around her, and sobs.

Bart, shocked, begs him, “Beck, get hold of yourself. You’re a man, not a little boy!”

Johnny Skeever shoves him out of the way. He takes out his Luger, holds it sideways, points it at Karen. He snarls malevolently. J.T. points his steady Beretta at Johnny.

“If you harm her, Johnny, you’ll die,” warns J.T. calmly. “That’s what happened to Admiral Fleer himself. He harmed her, and now he’s dead. The same thing’ll happen to you too, Johnny.”

“Please don’t do it, Johnny,” Beck begs.

“What the fuck are you, Roger?” demands Johnny. “You turnin’ faggot on me?”

J.T. stares deep into Johnny’s eyes without blinking. “Don’t you see it, Johnny? She’s projecting a Reality Distortion Field, just like Rebel Styles’. She’s invincible, Johnny. You can’t kill her. Shoot her, and you’ll only kill yourself.”

Johnny feels a hand violently shake his shoulder. He turns to see a look of mad terror on Tony’s face. Voice shaking, Tony says, “He’s right, Johnny! We don’t wanna end up like Big Al!”

“Jesus fuckin’ America!” says Johnny, annoyed. “You too, Tony?” He glares back at Karen, then at J.T. “Fuuuuuck.” He holsters his gun and leaves the others behind. Tony runs after him like a dog with its tail between its legs. Bart stares after them. J.T. puts his gun back in its shoulder holster.

“Well?” says J.T. to Bart.

Brandi says, “If you follow ’em, you’ll never be welcome at school again.”

“Good for you,” snarls Vince. He leaves to join the gang.

Scotty, John, and Lance stare at Bart. He realizes that any decision he makes will be theirs as well. He stares at Karen.

“Well?” demands J.T.

Bart walks up to Karen. He looks her over as if she were a strange and exotic alien lifeform. He says, “I gotta figure you out. You and that crazy cousin of yours.” Karen beams at him.

The Slasher Hunters lead Lizzy, Irina, and the last of the politicals out. J.T., Karen, and Beck follow behind. Bart follows her; the rest of Valiant Team follow him.

Karen’s house. The Richter-Thomases are happy to be together, but they continue to worry about Karen. Shira’s prediction weighs on their minds. Shira winks at Shin and says, “I’m not predicting, Shin-chan. I’m in on the rescue.”

Someone knocks on the door. Everyone falls silent. Shira rushes to answer it. She opens the door.


The two girls squeal in absolute joy. Shira pulls her in, pulls her into a tight embrace, dances and hops, kisses her all over her face and hard on the lips before the ecstatic crowd pull Karen away from her. The Slasher Hunters and J.T. politely enter the house and introduce themselves to Shira and Karen’s family.

Lizzy says to Shira, “You’ve got a nice family here.”

Shira smiles. “I love ’em all to pieces.”

“My family’s all starving or dead.”

“Aww.” Shira hugs Lizzy.

Irina taps Shira on the shoulder and stares at her strangely. Shira sends Lizzy on to meet her family and faces Irina with a curious look.

“I know you,” says Irina.

Shira crosses her arms and smiles ironically at the deliciously slutty young Russian. “Well, who am I?”

Irina grins. “You used to be competition.”


“I want get together.”

Irina feels someone’s eyes burn on her skin. She turns to see Leila staring at her jealously, her arms crossed tight. She looks back at Shira, worried.

Shira smiles. “If you’re willing to share.” She winks at Leila. Leila sighs.

Irina throws herself into Shira’s arms and gives her a hard sweet kiss. Leila reluctantly embraces both of them. She caresses Irina’s shapely buttock. Irina breaks her kiss, smiles happily at Leila, and kisses her too.

Minuteman barracks. Braddock Green tortures his son Bart. Stan Green and Vince Corson hold Bart as his father beats him and beats him. “You’re supposed to be a man, not a girl!whack! “You’re supposed to master women, not be their slave!whack! whack! “Woman is the Devil!whack!

Barton Green swallows all the emotions he felt tonight, swallows his humanity, makes himself the monster his father forced him to be, does not whimper. For now and forever, he is his father’s slave.

25 October 2014
before school.
Students and teachers greet Karen ecstatically. The girls and gay boys hug and kiss her and cry tears of joy. The boys and lesbians treat her like a conquering hero. Karen finds to her surprise that the rally plans have advanced far without her. The kids have begun to trust themselves.

Shira takes it calmly. She says to Brandi, “We’ve got a team that can fight back. We’ve got Karen. And we’ve got Spanner. I think we stand a chance for once.”

“You forgot one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“We’ve got you.” Brandi kisses her and winks. Shira smiles.

Suddenly an explosion rocks the front entrance. “Gang invasion!” yells Steve. “Everybody run!

Hundreds of screaming students flee toward the back-side exits. With a madman’s strength, a man shatters the front entrance with his bare hands. Shira recognizes the man through the screaming madness.


Behind Barton Green, a grinning maniac holding a hand grenade.


Shira unholsters her Go-Yo and spins it up and down, slowly and threateningly.

Behind Bart and Vince, there’s Ron and Don, now Vince’s sidekicks and full-blown gangsters. Behind them, a pack of steroid-crazed jocks.

Bart rushes Shira screaming, face contorted by hate and madness. Shira flicks her Go-Yo and slams him in the left temple. He veers past her, stumbles, crashes.

Vince giggles and throws a grenade into the principal’s office. Dean Principal can only smile nervously and sweat as the grenade bounces across the floor and slides to the edge of his desk. It blows up, destroying the office and obliterating him instantly.

Shira plunges into the pack of steroid boys, deliberately provoking them. She flits between them, dodging the big clumsy men effortlessly, lures their fists into each other’s faces and bodies. Before long, they’re pummelling each other. The biggest, Joe Fisk, roars like a beast and attempts to kill the others with her bare hands. The others fall away wounded. Joe rushes Shira; she rolls underneath him, leaps over and around him. jumps around like a taunting pixie. He flails away at her, tries to grab and kick and crush her, finds only air where she once was. She launches a rising back kick into his jaw; he stumbles backwards but regains his balance. In the mad frenzy of ’roid rage, he tries to kill her again. But his overworked heart now refuses to work anymore. He feels pain in his chest, clutches it, cries out in wordless terror, falls to the floor, and dies. His last words: “At least I died big...” Shira’s sigh says You are so clueless.

Three gangsters cock their guns and hold them on Shira. Vince grins in malevolent triumph. “I gotcha now, Rebel Styles.” To Ron and Don, he commands, “Kill the fucking bitch.”

Ron and Don hold out their guns gangster style and point them at Shira. She stares at them, mesmerizes them, puts them in a trance. “Drop your guns.”

“Don’t do it! Hold onto your—”

Their guns clatter on the floor. “Slap yourselves.”

“Stop it!” Vince begs. “Don’t—”

They slap their cheeks with their right and then left hands. She stares them down as they stand helplessly before her. Then she says, “Now, fuck.”

As Vince stares on in horror, the two entranced gangster boys throw off their clothes and begin copulating like homosexual zombies.

Shira turns her head back and yells angrily, “Hey, Scotty! I told ’em to fuck! Happy now?”

Vince throws away his pistol and takes out an Uzi. He shoots wildly at her as she darts back and forth in seemingly random fashion, not allowing him to get a bead on her. She flings out her Go-Yo and slams it into his right hand, right on the trigger finger knuckle, shattering it. He screams and drops the gun. Shira rushes in and kicks him in the tender groin. He screams, clutches his groin, and falls to the floor. Shira picks up his discarded pistol and holds it on him.

“No, no, please don’t kill me...”

Shira flashes him a wicked cockeyed smirk and chuckles. She fires one shot through his hands, destroying one testicle. He holds his hands up and screams. She grins evilly and fires another bullet, destroying his other testicle, then one more to ruin his penis. She tries to shoot one more time for insurance, but the gun goes click. She stares at it, shakes it slightly, then tosses it aside. She gives him a sidelong contemptuous smirk and says, “I pity you, Vinnie. It so sucks to be you.” And she walks away, leaving the gangster boy helpless.

As Shira puts her hands on her knees and catches her breath, Brandi puts her hand on Shira’s shoulder. “You okay?”

Shira smiles. “Me, yeah. Them? Not so much.”

Bart suddenly grabs Brandi from behind and starts to crush her. Brandi cocks her head back to break his nose, then kicks his knees and stomps on his feet. While he’s reeling from the pain, she struggles free and faces him. She pulls out a pistol from the leg holster hidden beneath her skirt and coldly shoots him in the kneecaps. Bart falls to his knees and struggles not to feel the pain. Involuntarily, he whimpers and shudders. Unable to control himself, he howls, screams, collapses into sobs. He curls up into fetal position, holding his shattered knees. Realizing he has been utterly defeated, he falls silent.

Shira kneels over him and says, “Live by the sword, die by the sword. The rally’s going.” She stands up and yells to no one in particular, “Somebody get a nurse!”

Suddenly, a series of explosions goes off throughout the school. Huge blasts destroy classrooms and storage rooms. The newest wing of classrooms, less than five years old, is obliterated.

Forty-eight injured: now evacuated onto the football field. Fifteen people left in the building. Five are now dead. Ronald Tremayne and Donald Murphy. Edgar Olney Smith. Joe Fisk. Dean Principal.

As the rubble and dust settle, the remaining ten come together and surround the one of them who is wounded. Charmian patiently puts gauze around sobbing Bart’s bloody knees. Shira asks her, “Need any help?” Charmian smiles at her and shakes her head no.

Joining Shira are Jennifer, Connor, Brandi, and the Shelley twins. Dorian puts her hand gently on her own twin sister’s shoulder. Rachel kneels down sobbing, puts her arms around Bart, consoles him in a soothing voice, and kisses him. Everybody realizes at once that Rachel Brinkman has found her true love at last; and for the first time in his life, Barton Green is happy.

“Looks like we’ll be borrowing some portables,” Jennifer sighs.

“Either that,” says Shira ironically, “or school’s out forever.”

to be continued...

Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

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