Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spanner 15.2: The Calm Before the Storm

This may be even tougher than a fight scene or a love scene: to take one of those wordless cinematic sequences that occur before the climactic battle in one of Mamoru Oshii’s Patlabor films and translate it into words. The name I gave these sequences is the name of this section. Drawing it would have been easy, and I have the precedent of Haruhiko Mikimoto in the Macross 7 manga; the “Intermission” that opens book 4 is, in fact, the original inspiration for all the Interludes in Spanner. The tricky part is doing it in words. Some of it sounds like a poem or a song. Anyway, here goes (crosses fingers)...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 15: Start the Violence
Part 2: The Calm Before the Storm

5 october 2014.
Midnight. The black Seattle skyline stands impassively against the black sky. A gentle rain washes it. The normal sounds of nighttime have fallen silent. Surveillance drones flit around like fireflies, scouring the empty city for any suspicious movement. The silent shadows of cloaked helicopters send out lonely beams of light. There is nothing for them to see, for no one is there.

Automated trucks patrol the downtown streets in search of the men of terror. They communicate with humanoid police robots hiding in plain sight along the building walls and in the allies and niches. Their many eyes transmit their images directly to COPCO. They search back and forth, again and again, restlessly, ceaselessly. But there is nothing for them to see, for no one is there.

John Cameron Becket, the one-eyed man, sits in front of the huge bank of monitors in his top-floor control room, scanning every monitor for the slightest movement, hoping and fearing that an enemy will betray its presence. He looks for the slightest signal that the terrorists are there. He knows they must be somewhere. Yet he sees nothing.

But the black shadows of the night are alive. The terror elite slink and crawl, dressed in black and cloaked in invisibility. They slip around from shadow to shadow, hiding from the eyes and ears of Jesus America. They believe they have the chance to slay the all-powerful nation-god. They intend to replace him with their own gods.

Above, every roof swarms with snipers, Deltas and strike cops, eyes constantly vigilant for any sight of the enemy, trigger fingers twitching. They are weapons, not men. They are the swords of Jesus America, who sacrificed their souls to become instruments of his will. His will is the destruction of the infidels, those who do not sacrifice their souls to become his.

The trucks and bots and drones look for movement. They find it. They disturb rats, mice, crows, pigeons, seagulls, stray cats and dogs. They find each other. They find no sign of human presence. With infinite patience they continue their search.

In the subways and sewers, in basements and fallout shelters, the poor and the homeless hide from their masters. They sleep in fear; they sleep with troubled dreams. Some of them sleep without dreams. They huddle together as if to protect each other. But if they are found, nothing can protect them from the consuming robots, the ravenous bodies of Jesus America.

Above them, in the towers, the faithful sleep in peace and dream of their Lord. Their dreams are uneasy because uncertainty is in the air, the uncertainty that drives the precogs mad.

Team Spanner sleep in bunks on the big yacht Martin Lansky won from Oliver Thorwald. They need the rest so they can be alert when the King arrives...

Dawn. The rain ceases; the clouds disperse. At first, the sky over the Cascades turns purple, then develops a stripe of pink. The sun peeks out brightly behind the mountains, behind the darkened towers of the skyline.

As the morning sun kisses the shimmering wet streets, the first of the faithful trickle out to meet the morning. When they sense the vastness of the city, they bow their heads and pray for Jesus America to protect them from the evil demon Babylon, mother of cities. Their King will pray to banish the demon, but they know she will pop up somewhere else, and then she will return in full horrific glory. The unfeeling towers will draw her back like stone and glass giants calling out for their mother, for she is their mother.

James Walter Brinkman awakens to find himself reverting to his slender human form. He throws himself to his feet, throws on a robe, and storms into the living room where room service have prepared a feast for a monster. He slams down meats and sweets in massive amounts until the feeling of weakness subsides. Before the mirror, he watches himself transform into his familiar heavy-bearded form, human in form but halfway to werewolf, until he becomes invulnerable. He dresses and prepares for the biggest day of his life.

The police robots and armoured strike police swirl around the faithful, offering them the protection of Jesus America. The number of the faithful slowly grows from a trickle to a stream. They venture out of their sleeping places, out into the streets of the accursed city, and make their pilgrimage to the open plaza at its heart. Such horrors are not permitted in the conservative exurbs that are the beating heart of the Empire; where the Babylons open their heart to the Evil of the world, their Zions protect theirs behind the protective armour of the giant Churches of America where Jesus America is worshipped, praised, and obeyed. And yet they came here to banish Babylon from this city in the holy name of Jesus America, knowing that the giant sons of Babylon that surround them will summon her back.

Drusilla Becket AMERICA! luxuriates in the giant bath of gold at the top of one of these giants. Three chaste young female disciples have earned the supreme privilege of joining her in her bath. With utmost worship they gently sponge the beautiful smooth skin of their Holy Mother. They have heard the blasphemous rumors, spread by her evil apostate daughters Charlotte and Desiree, that she feeds on their youth to keep herself forever young. They hope with all their heart that the rumors are true; they long to willingly offer up their youth in sacrifice to her, so she can remain young and beautiful forever.

After her bath, they dry her off with thick thirsty towels and dress her in elaborate robes, the vestments of the Supreme Shepherd, so she can present herself before her holy and eternal husband, Jesus America, in the presence of her father the King. They dry themselves off, don pure white robes, prostrate themselves before her in worship, and chant devotions. She holds out her hands in blessing and pronounces her benediction. She turns away from them, looks out the window at the city she has hated for so long, and pronounces a curse upon it, upon the demon Babylon and her children, and above all upon her daughters and the Angel of Chaos they summoned to plague her.

The sun shows its face and smiles down upon the city. It dries the rain off the streets to prepare the path of the faithful who have made their pilgrimage to this Babylon. They now flood the streets, walking to their meeting place from every direction, chanting prayers of protection from Babylon in the face of her sons and songs of praise for Jesus America. Some of them, overwhelmed by their love for their Lord, chant in the Unknown Tongue.

Richard Becket secures his power tie in the mirror of his superluxury suite. He unties it and ties it again until the knot is perfect and he is satisfied. He remembers the TrumpCity incident of last August, when the terrorist the scandal-hungry reporters named Spanner flew into the ceremony in a cloud of smoke and fire to snatch back the dominion over the Technosphere that God and destiny had promised to his Cartel. Worse than the chaos he had caused was the fearful expectation of chaos he sowed into the hearts of the United Corporations and of all faithful Conservative Revolutionaries.

He expects Spanner to strike again. He expects Spanner to strike here. He has ordered his nephew John to watch for any signs of the terrorist’s advent. He vowed in TrumpCity to catch and destroy him. He vowed to protect Order at all costs. His whole life now depends on it. For if this demon infects the sacred order with the corruption of chaos, the whole order will collapse and the entire fabric of reality will come apart at the seams. If that happens, he will never again be able to live with himself.

Seattle refugees overflow the growing urban hearts of Port Angeles, Victoria, Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Bellingham, Olympia, Ocean City. They alight in Vancouver and Portland, longing for their home city, waiting for the opportunity to reclaim it from the man and the Empire that have stolen it from them, even if only for one day. In San Francisco, Hope Reston betrays no sign of worry. When asked, she tells them that this is an acute affliction which will soon pass.

In Port Townsend, the streets of its three centers fill up again with locals, tourists, and refugees. In the basement below the Sky Dancer Bookstore, Ariel shares a bath with her beloved friends Ric and Willa, then shares her bed with Ric, Willa, and then both, then watches in pleasure as they make love to each other.

In Victoria, their sister Reva walks hand in hand with her daughters Saffron and Karen to experience the beautiful sights and sounds of the flower-filled city. Then they return to their hotel room, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and pray for the safety of Shira, her friends, and all those left in the city and faced with the wrath of Jesus America. They will chant without cease until the King has departed and the danger has passed. Throughout the Empire, in America and Europe and Japan, millions of their fellow Buddhists will join them to chant for the people of Seattle.

In Ocean City, Charlie and Desiree walk hand in hand with Ayla along the beaches, through the parks, on the crowded streets; they return home to make love to each other as the young girl’s watches them with joyful tears in utter fascination. The two sister-wives will make love without cease until the night comes and they fall exhausted into happy sleep.

In Seattle, the crowd of devout Americans gathers in Westlake Plaza, waiting to receive their President, their King, and the God of their Nation. They wait with utmost patience. They chant the hymns of their Nation. They pray for the banishment of the accursed Babylon and her daughters Humanism, Democracy, Science, and Reason. Together they stand in the contented sleep of reason, dreaming that they are one being, which they call the Bride of America. And the crowd grows and grows until it engulfs the heart of the city. For one day they shall consecrate it to Jesus America. But they know that once their President and their King have departed, they too will have to return the city to Babylon the mother of demons.

On the waterfront, among the moored ferries and yachts, the fighters and hackers of Team Spanner sleep soundly in the bunks of Martin Lansky’s yacht as the clock slowly approaches its alarm time. They must limit their dreams to their sleep, for they must be fully awake in order to carry out their mission. And so for one more hour they dream on, some of them still awake in their dreams, till the alarm sounds and all dreams must end.

John Cameron Becket paces restlessly, back and forth, throughout the control room. He carefully scans every monitor, hopeful and fearful that an enemy will betray its presence. His one eye flits back and forth among the monitors as he looks for the slightest sign or symbol of Spanner. So far, he sees nothing. But he doesn’t have the slightest desire for sleep. No, he cannot sleep.

His father, slumped over in the blackness and silence of his basement office, cannot stay awake...

Shira’s dream. The Lord of Order materializes before her threateningly, wearing the robes of a white king. Dr Henry Becket warns, “Do not summon the demon.”

Shira sports the regalia of a black queen. She shrugs. “Who said anything about demons?”

“You know which one. Only a demon could have slain so many seers.”

“Only an angel can slay a demon. But which is the angel, and which the demon?”

Leila’s dream. The voice of an angel whispers into her ear, “Wake up. This is important.” Within the dream, she awakens.

She sees the spirit of Roger Steele Becket materialize before her, surrounded by a Praetorian guard of superheroes all in the same costume. These his exobodies, the clones. She sees the three-dimensional shadow of his corporation body — another exobody. It too must not be touched.

Then his true body rises: the faceless formless ghost of King Patriot I, a being made entirely out of political power, created by magical incantations of publicity, fed by worship and fear. She sees it suck the life out of the masses like a gigantic formless vampire. She sees its power. And then, she sees its weak point—

on to the next...

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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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