Third Edition revision notes: I’ll have to add foreshadowing all the way back to Chapter 9, and to “light novel” 1 I’ll need to add a “prophecy” subplot that starts shortly after Leila’s introduction in Chapter 1 and gets a huge twist at the end of Chapter 8, with the significance only fully realized in Chapter 10 or 11. Oliver Thorwald will get more time in Book 1 part 1, so his jealousy will be the link between Shira getting Leila in Chapter 9 and King Patriot coming to town later this chapter.
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Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 15: Start the Violence
Part 1: Plots and Plans
Part 1: Plots and Plans
For what is a man profited, if he shall
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Will there be blood?
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Will there be blood?
4 october 2014.
COPCO Seattle. King Patriot, newly risen from the dead, holds out his hands in triumph as the assembled masses cry out in unison and worship him as their God. And then — chaos...
Doctors 8 and 15 struggle to wrest Precog 218K writhing and screaming out of the Crime Prevention lab. Doctor 6 hurries into Dr Henry Becket’s darkened office to report. He salutes. “Chief, we’ve lost another precog.”
Dr Becket stares through him grimly, chilling him to the bone. “He is here already.”
In his top-floor control room, his son Jack watches the monitors with his one good eye. His robot cops chase the fleeing homeless out of Westlake Station and the sewers surrounding Westlake Plaza. Homeland Security Secretary Radisson says in his Australian drawl, “Do you think your little robot plan will work?”
“Humans are perverse and treacherous. They always angle for advantage, no matter who they feel the need to screw over. You can never trust ’em. Robot agents do exactly what they’re programmed to do, no more and no less. I’d even be willing to stake my reputation on this operation’s success. We need to teach these commie-ass traitors a hard lesson and make ’em feel the fear of God.”
Grimly, Radisson says, “Another precog just went mad.”
“What?! He’s here?”
“His precognitive signature is unmistakable.”
Jack Becket punches through a monitor; it shatters and sparks. “Damn!”
Bangor Jail. Burly guards throw the COPCO regional chief’s prodigal son Frank into a cell with a prostitution suspect in it. He finds himself face to face with Irina Lanskaya, one of his more hostile ex-girlfriends. They stare each other down, not pleased to find themselves together. Irina is Russian, sexy, an absolute slut, and fifteen. Like Shira, she has no qualms about selling her body for sex. Unlike Shira, she has no scruples and no integrity to protect or betray. She always dyes or bleaches her hair because she hates its natural mousy brown color. Today it’s bright red verging on pink. Blond Frank is prettier than she is, but his personality is far uglier.
“You don’t look quite so sexy in jailhouse orange, now, do you,” he sneers.
“You make me sick,” she spits.
He protests, “Irina, you know I had to—”
“You didn’t have to bring in stupid Satan shit! I help you kill Wog rats, but I don’t get off on watching naked pretty girls get snuffed by devil priest out of cheesy horror movie! I’m not into torture porn crap!”
Frank stares at her in open-mouthed shock. Then his expression changes to cold rage. “Maybe I should snuff you sometime.”
Irina crosses her arms contemptuously. “Hmph! I steal you of fun.”
Port Townsend. Downtown Port Townsend has all the charm of a nineteenth-century boomtown that once held the promise of turning into a great city, and may still become one sometime in the future. Port Townsend has long been one of Cascadia’s most liberal towns despite the looming presence of the Indian Island naval base, and despite not having its own major college like Bellingham, Olympia, or even Bremerton. But the threat remains that the paranoid conservatism native to small towns will destroy the town’s spirit: sinister MIBs from the National Police patrol the streets to enforce the grim rule of conformity. But Port Townsend is outside the Metropolitan Seattle boundaries, so it remains safe from the lockdown afflicting Seattle. The streets of Downtown, Uptown, and the City Center are crowded with people fleeing the big city for the weekend in addition to the usual tourists. Only tourists from out of the area gawk when they see two notorious (and married) red-haired Ric Thomas and his bespectacled blond sister Willa Richter-Thomas stroll down Water Street, arms around each other’s shoulders, kissing openly, as if they were lovers. “Lotta people here right now,” Ric understates.
“This is no ordinary tourist weekend. Seems half the people in Seattle followed us here.”
Ric looks up and sees the familiar sign of the Sky Dancer Metaphysical Bookstore. “Here’s a place we haven’t been in some time.”
When they enter, they feel like they’ve passed through the portal to an entirely different world. Glowing crystals, the smell of sandalwood incense, and music of sitar, tablas, Tibetan bells, and Mongolian Buddhist chants put them into a state of near trance and give them the feeling that genuine magic lives here. The magic is concentrated in the beautiful form of Ariel Shield herself, recognizable by the white stripe in her long black hair, who greets them barefoot, bare-breasted, and wearing a long frilly black skirt, accompanied by her cats, black Isis and white Artemis, who hope for affection and treats. Ariel holds out her arms. “Cedric and Willa!” she calls out in her beautiful Irish-accented voice. “I’m so happy to see you!”
The siblings take her into their arms and take turns kissing her on the lips. “It’s been too long.”
“I need to come down and see you all more. So you’re avoiding the, uh, visitation in Seattle too?”
Willa replies, “We figured we wanted to live, so we got the hell out.”
“Father has an uncanny talent for ruining everything.” Ric and Willa roll their eyes and groan in reply. “Since you haven’t stopped by in ages, you need to see our new collection.” She leads them by the hand to the niche beside the counter in the back of the store. She points toward several large tapestries of dancing Indian and Tibetan goddesses hanging on the walls.
“Nepal?” asks Ric.
Ariel winks. “No. Boulder. When the Party started cracking down on unbelievers in the area surrounding their ‘Holy City,’ some of the monks moved here and set up a satellite temple under one of the Uptown storefronts, and they painted these tapestries specially for me. These are the Buddhist goddesses I named this store after, and this is my shrine to them.”
Willa points at one particular tapestry, depicting a bronze-skinned goddess with flame for hair. “That one looks just like Shira.”
Ariel smiles. “Her name is Kurukulla. She is a love goddess who lost her homeland to the warrior monks of Islam. She dances naked because she is free from the masks that make up the false self. She bears the flowery bow and arrow of Eros and Cupid. She is the daughter of not Kali, but Tara the goddess Buddha. Her magic is Vashya Karma, red magic, the power of the Charmer who seduces people and brings them under her control.”
“That really does sound a lot like Shira.”
Ric asks skeptically, “Are you implying she’s this goddess’s avatar?”
“Possibly,” Ariel replies. “Even if she is not, she will come to know her true identity and her true mission. When she does, she will be a very powerful goddess indeed.”
“She stayed behind in Seattle with her Slasher Hunter friends.”
Ariel smiles. “I have the feeling she’ll do just fine. Are you worried about her?”
Willa grins back. “I don’t know about you, dear brother, but I’m not worried in the least. But the Man sure as hell is. As he should be.”
Rich Passage. A large crowded yacht plies the route from Bremerton to Seattle. Lansky won it from Thorwald in a game of Texas Hold ’em. On board are the members of three clubs: fighters, hackers, bounty hunters. Representing Team Bremelo: Jennifer and Connor Blair, Leila and Robert Shelley, Shira Thomas, Cory Belmont, Kio Marques, and, staying here at mission control, Harumi and Seika Tachibana. Representing the Wrecking Krewe: at mission control, Alex Plus, Deth Pussy, piratecaster Simon Sez, his assistants El Kabong and his boyfriend Evil the Cat, and the hackers the Bremeloes and Slasher Hunters rescued from Frank’s sacrifice, the Cockroach Twins: the girl, Moon Roach (her real name), and her male partners who go by the handles Wolveroach and Punisheroach; in the field, Simon’s main cameraman, Billy Hunter, codenamed Scope. Representing the Slasher Hunters: John Peck, Martin Lansky, Brandi Quinn, and Arisa Saionji, with Lars Magnus Izquierdo acting as Scope’s tech at mission control. The man who contracted them: James Tiberius Sparks, acting in his official capacity with COPCO.
All eyes turn to the newcomers. “So you’re the Cockroach Twins,” says Alex.
“Yeah,” says the girl in a thick Los Angeles drawl. “You’re, like, the Alex Plus? You’re my hero!”
“Why, thanks. We’ve been hearing some pretty good things about you. So how come you got caught by Frankie the Snake and his goons?”
“Like, we’re not real spies or anything...”
“Ollie-Ollie said he was gonna sell us for big bucks to the Chinese cyber police,” adds Wolveroach.
“You’re just in luck, Roaches!” says Shira. “Frank’s big daddy and his robot police await us as we speak.”
Moon’s eyes go wide with delight. “Like, we’re gonna hack ’em?”
Jennifer goes, “Ding ding ding!”
Sparks stands up and addresses the group. “Everybody! Listen.” They stop talking. “This is our cover story. Officially you’re under contract to help me take out terrorists and crooks. But the important people are the ones coming with the King: Brinkman, the Becket brothers and their sister Drusilla, Vice President Harper, and the presidents of President Goldman Sachs and Secretary General News Corporation. We can’t allow them to get hurt.”
Shira stands up beside him. “If there’s anything we know about the Corpos with absolute certainty, it’s their insatiable taste for martyrdom. If we let any Corpos get hurt or killed, especially the leaders, they’ll have martyrs to celebrate and they’ll win.”
“And even if any of ’em do get killed, they’ve got resurrection they can spring on us. Clone resurrection.” The others receive the revelation with shocked gasps and commotion. “Any Corporate worth his fortune owns or rents vats for growing backup clones, so if they get killed, they get to come back in a new body identical to the old. That makes ’em virtually immortal. Using technology developed during the Cold War to create armies of identical super soldiers, they bought themselves the power that used to belong to Jesus alone. And you wonder why they say they’re so superior to us.”
Jennifer stands up. “If you’re right, Jim, that means they can change bodies whenever they want. Some of ’em are changing out their human bodies and making corporations their bodies. Rupert Murdoch and Steve Jobs have already done this. So even besides their martyrdom cult, we can’t target their bodies anyway. The celebrity cult gave them the notion that their souls really reside in their public images. The terrorists refuse to believe this, so they’ll strike at their bodies. We must destroy their true selves: their reputations.”
“If you’re right,” asks Lars, “and we’re really going after ghosts, how do we hurt ’em?”
“Yeah!” adds Moon. “Who are we gonna call?”
Shira flashes them a wicked grin and winks. “Guess.”
COPCO Seattle. Jack Becket meets with his father in the basement. “I heard.”
“Are your people having any trouble with the terrorists, John?”
“Terrorists pose no problem.”
“They are easily predictable because they are always the same. But this Spanner fellow is not. With him, I’m afraid we must prepare ourselves to expect the unexpected.”
Puget Sound. The darkened downtown Seattle skyline comes into view; the yacht passes Bainbridge Island and begins its crossing toward Elliott Bay and the port. Several of its passengers resist the temptation to go on deck to take pictures.
The Cockroach Twins surround Shira like fans. “Wow!” marvels Moon. “You really killed Johnny-Johnny?”
“Actually, I told him I’d get my butt off his face if he surrendered. But Ollie came down hard with his shovel so I couldn’t get off, meaning he killed his own butt buddy even though he blames me. So it goes...”
Leila languidly embraces Shira from behind and kisses her neck. Moon says, “I thought you were just some glamour girl outta Pretty City.”
“Obviously,” says Leila, “you guys never bothered to find out about the Molotov Brothers’ secret pet project, the ‘Fashion Assassins.’ They wanted me and my brother because we knew ninjutsu, so they bought us.”
Sparks calls the group together. “We’re almost at our point of operation. Our official name for this op is, in proper bureaucratese, the Auxiliary Private Anti-Terrorist Expedition.”
Peck adds, “Our mission is to take out any terrorist and gang opposition that stands in our way, then strike at the real targets as described.”
“We can’t act as Slasher Hunters tomorrow,” says Lansky, “because we won’t be catching any actual Slashers.”
“We can’t go as Team Bremelo, either,” adds Brandi.
“No,” says Arisa, “we can’t take ’em on as some high school fight club.”
“Or a group of bounty hunters with a dodgy reputation.”
El Kabong says, “And everybody knows the Krewe are ace hackers but shit spies.”
“Let’s not forget for one second,” Sparks adds, “that we’re the bad guys.”
Shira stands up. “Well, then!” All eyes turn to her. A mischievous cockeyed smirk grows onto her face, then evolves into a full grin. “How’s about we call ourselves — Team Spanner?”
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.