Third Revision Update: The second scene, which hardly identified Shira, is now much expanded to include her meeting with several other major protagonists, itself now connected with Shira and Jennifer’s entrances in the revised Part 1 and Part 2, the all-important events of Part 4, and the entire subsequent story. Narrative coherence is a good thing.
The big question this installment asks: whose is the lost cause?
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Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 1: Spanner in the Works
Part 3: The Lost Cause (Revision 3)
Part 3: The Lost Cause (Revision 3)
19 august 2014.
Newark ghetto. To Christians, it is the year of Our Lord, 2014. But to the neofeudal Corporate aristocracy that rules the American Empire with an iron fist, it is really the year of Our Ford, 116. To prepare for Revolution Day, one of the high holy days of the American Religion, the Federal Emergency Management Administration contracted the national police corporation COPCO and the giant private military corporation Dictel to forcibly evacuate the New York area for — a business meeting? Since this is a convention of the United Corporations, the cartel of corporate titans that owns America and its empire, the people forced out of their city truly believe this is a disaster on the level of a hurricane or major earthquake, only completely unnatural. Other than the expected die-hards, some of whom were taken by force out of the city, the only ones who refuse to leave are the criminal gangs, the fringe cults, and the terrorist groups.
One terror group, the right-wing Minuteman Defense Alliance, rampages through the shantytowns built on the ruins of Newark’s slums, hoping to find poor people to kill, especially racially incorrect “mudbloods.” Believing they have the support of the ruling Conservative Revolutionary Party, they smash and burn everything they can get find. They are the dregs of the white underclass, some of them ultraviolent prison gangsters with large Satanic crosses (formerly known as swastikas) burnt onto their heads as curses; but they believe they can rise to the level of the Corporates by killing all the people the Law of Social Darwinism says should die.
Suddenly, they find themselves under fire. Militants get shredded by machine-gun rapid fire and blown up by grenades. The survivors scatter and try to run away, only to discover that they’re completely surrounded by militants of another radical faction.
A shadow forms in the smoke. The shape consolidates into that of a man with military bearing. At last, the intimidating figure of Adam Gabriel emerges. In his Colombian accent, he demands: “Surrender now, if you want to live.”
One cursed Minuteman militant raises his AK at Gabriel and screams, “Fuck y—” Gabriel quick-draws his Glock 9mm and shoots him dead.
The surviving Minutemen drop their guns and hold their hands up. Gabriel’s men take them away. His wife and comrade Talia Espinoza comes up beside him. “How come we’re mopping up lowlifes?”
“Criminal gangs like Minuteman are where the PMSCs recruit. We take down Minuteman, and COPCO and Dictel will eventually fall. Without COPCO and Dictel, the Corpos are fish in a barrel.”
“But do we have to look like we’re assisting Delta Force while we’re at it?”
“We are the Socialist Revolutionary Organization. We hunt the Blond Beast. Our crusade does not end until we free the people from his power.”
tenement. The place stinks. It smells of poor people. Inside, the Cracker hears all that goes on outside. She suppresses an annoyed sigh. To her, the SRO are little different from the MDA, just another TLA with guns. She has concluded that the SRO exists just to fight the CRP and vice versa. She decides they need to be hacked.
The terrorists outside do not notice the Cracker as she slinks away from her tenement’s window to the tablet computer that provides her room with its only light. A hoverboard leans against the desk. She sits sideways on the chair so Harumi can lean against her and hold her tight from behind. She slips on her homebrew datagloves and flicks one finger at the screen to call up the agent called AEGIS: the Advanced Electronic Global Intelligence System. The interface tiles scatter from the screen, and the steampunkish image of a brass mechanical owl with Harry Potter eyeglasses zooms to take over the screen. “How may I help you, Miss Fantoma?” it asks squeakily.
“Somebody needs to spray some WD-40 on your mandible joints,” Shira says. “Turns out the SRO’s in town to crash the big shindig.”
“Currently they are clearing out the criminal element from the periphery.”
“That’s just a distraction, of course. Their real plan couldn’t be more obvious if they tweeted their plans to every screeching chickenhawk on the lamestream news.”
“So what is your plan?”
She rolls her eyes. “I thought you were the expert system here. Anyway, we use our terrorist friends as cover. Once they suffer their latest Götterdämmerung on national TV, we slip Echelon a mickey. Then Spanner strikes.”
Someone knocks on the front door. “By the way,” says AEGIS, “your cousins are here.” Someone opens it to let them in. There is a commotion as Harumi’s sisters and Shira’s cousins greet each other ecstatically. Shira takes the tablet and Harumi to the kitchen; by the time they get there, Sparks arrives with an order of Chinese food.
Nine chopstick-wielding people sit on five chairs and one stool and hold a meeting in the kitchen, lit only by a small battery-powered lamp, while terrorists and gangsters fight outside for the right to champion their lost causes against the revolutionaries in power. All four Tachibana sisters are here: smart girl Natsumi, tough girl Akimi, girly girl Fuyumi, and weird girl Harumi. Their mother Umi named them after the four seasons and the character of her name (meaning “sea”); their father is Korean-Japanese and lives among the Korean settlers of Fort Lee to the north. Shira sits on Sparks’ lap; Jennifer sits sideways on Connor’s lap; Akimi sits on Alex’ lap facing her so she can give her a sloppy kiss. Harumi sits on the kitchen footstool, looks around the derelict house, and asks in still unsteady English, “Why we have to have meeting here?”
Alex winks at her. “This dump? Darling Haru-chan, this is the best place for a secret meeting.”
Sparks looks at her skeptically. “You mean, we can keep it a secret, even with all those terrorists going at each other outside.”
“All the terrorists are here,” Shira answers, “and they’re all preoccupied with sticking it to the man, while the gangbangers try to bag ’em for money and Tournament points. If anybody from COPCO asks what we’re doing here, we can flash ’em our cards and tell ’em we’re here to bag some terrorists. We’ve got it all covered.”
Alex says, “We’re assuming the terrorists have been planning their preemptive counterstrikes since the big shindig was first quietly announced and the foreign moles told ’em.”
“Knowing how their factions work and how predictable they are,” Jennifer adds, “I’ve got a very good idea of what their plans are.”
“Let me guess,” says Natsumi, “the SRO will take the subways, the neo-Nazis will take the freeways, the ERF will take the sewers, Al-Qaeda in America will disguise themselves as private security guards, and the anarcho-terrorist groups will just barge in throwing bombs.”
“In other words, the usual. By the way, are your girls seducing that adorable cousin of yours yet?” Jennifer winks.
Akimi huffs, “Would we not seduce our sweet Sei-chan?”
“He’s way too cute to resist,” Natsumi adds with a wink of her own. “By the way, Shira, will that sexy reporter you like be there?”
Sparks facepalms and groans. Shira replies, “Nah, this is a private party, and the news ain’t invited.”
“Neither are we.”
“But we’re crashing it anyway.” Shira gives Natsumi a mischievous wink.
“So what’s our plan?” asks Sparks.
“First we let the terrorists destroy themselves as expected. The Corps will predictably get overconfident and show us their weak points. Then we give ’em what they least expect.”
“Talia’s Colombian boyfriend was foolish enough to tell us the entire SRO plan,” Jennifer adds. She checks her wristwatch. “They should be making their move right about — now.”
COPCO field office. “A terrorist strike force is coming our way,” proclaims the Terrorism Fuhrer to his brother, United Corporations chairman Richard Becket. “We have already predicted their every move. Delta Force is in perfect position to intercept and destroy them.”
“Did your precogs envision this beforehand, brother?” asks the Chairman skeptically.
“We did not even need the precogs. I analyzed the SRO mathematically. They operate on a series of simple set patterns. We are using these patterns to bring them to us—”
“—and lure them into our trap. How clever.”
“We had no need for cleverness, either. Like I said, they operate on fixed patterns.”
“So now we know they pose little or no threat. But what about this...anomaly your precogs have been seeing? This chaos?”
“It’s the signature of someone who follows no discernable patterns at all.”
“Or random ones. Do you think, Harry, that your people can prepare themselves against a man who operates strictly by whim?“ Henry Becket stares at his brother grimly, saying nothing. “You know you must prepare, whatever the cost.”
subway. The stolen COPCO security aircars move swiftly through the PATH tunnel. Their best fighters, Rodor and Michalski, take the front; the most vigilant, Gabriel and Espinoza, take the rear. The Amazons, Mike “the Dyke” Blaney and Miho Saionji, follow behind the front; Lynch and Persson fly second from the rear. In the middle is their commander, Bram Rodchenko. Personnel carriers flank the commanders’ vehicles. Together, the SRO expeditionary force numbers forty. All of them are dressed in COPCO SWAT gear.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” says Talia.
Adam replies, “Don’t worry about it. We have the advantage of speed and deception. The COPCO forces will not realize until it’s too late that their comrades are not their comrades. We will win.”
COPCO field office. “Zoom in,” says Henry Becket. The map on the wall screen zooms in to focus on the PATH tunnel and follow a group of blips travelling at high speed through it. “This is Adam Gabriel’s technique: steal the face of your enemies until you are among them, and then launch a surprise attack. I myself used that tactic against the Communist invaders in Afghanistan. As I said, they are completely transparent.”
“They’re moving awful fast,’ Agent 6 comments.
“This does not matter. Their single route is a bottleneck. We have sent a detachment of Dictel forces to intercept them before they reach the World Trade Center station. The terrorists have already lost.”
subway. “Up ahead!” shouts Rodor.
“Incoming!” adds Michalski.
“Fire!” commands Rodchenko. Missiles fire from air vehicles and hand-held grenade launchers at the Dictel mercenaries up ahead. The militants take out their rifles and spray cover fire at the enemy.
But the missiles explode before they reach their target. The mercenaries retaliate with a solid wave of sound. High-powered sound blasters shatter glass, torture eardrums, send the militants twitching and screaming in unbearable pain; they lose control of their vehicles, which spin in mid-air and bounce off the sides until they fly out of control and crash. Five air cars and six transports slam against a solid wall of sound.
COPCO field office. Talia was injured in the crash, but still her captors tie her naked to a restraining frame. A sound cannon blasts her, torturing every nerve, making her scream and convulse for what seems to her an eternity. As suddenly as it began, the torture stops, and she can hear.
The grim, implacable face of Henry Becket stares at her through his thick dark glasses. He barks, “Now where is Spanner and what are his plans?”
Talia laughs. “I bet he just gave us to you as a Revolution Day gift, all gift-wrapped and everything.”
“Tell me — now!”
Her laugh subsides into a chuckle. “You know where Spanner is. He’s always where you least expect. And his plan’s to do what you least expect him to do. He disrupts. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be Spanner.”
Dr Becket growls and suppresses the urge to tear the woman’s head off. He turns around and commands, “A long period of solitary confinement should be sufficient time to meditate upon the error of your ways and to repent of your sins. Take her away.”
His men stare at him until he leaves through the open door. Then they turn off the sound cannon and untie the weakened woman from her restraint.
Suddenly, loud klaxons sound and the lights go red. The building AI’s female voice repeats, “Warning. Cyber defenses breached.”
“I assume this must be our Spanner,” says Agent 6.
Dr Becket punches all the way through the wall. “Damn!”
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 3.0, 9/8/11: Scene 2 expanded to incorporate new “kitchen meeting” scene, introduce new characters not introduced before, and continue the expanded continuity from Parts 1 and 2 into the main events of Parts 4 and 5. Corrected text errors.]
[Revision 3.1, 9/28/11: Corrected text errors.]
[Revision 3 Final, 10/5/11: Added new two-sentence opening to scene 2, edited third sentence. Final version.]