Friday, September 2, 2011

Spanner 15.4: Epiphany of the God King

Who is this “Jesus America”? He’s what you get when Caesar becomes God, or at least thinks he is. Even the Pope can’t convince the Cult of America that it’s an idolatrous heresy rather than the only true Christianity (and he tries, forcefully). Now that the masters of the Conservative Revolution have gathered with crowds of the faithful in one of the liberal cities they hate most, a monster battery of “Chekhov’s guns” from earlier in the story starts rapid-firing...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 15: Start the Violence
Part 4: Epiphany of the God King

Westlake Plaza. The mind-melded pilgrims hold hands, sway together, and babble the holy names of the Nation as the Patriot Country band loudly play their twangy music and Tom E. Breydon sings his songs full of absolute love for Jesus America, the Holy Flag, and the Nation for which it stands, and holy hatred for the “traitor,” by which he means infidel. The wind rides on the sea of one-star American flags swaying above them. Giant flocks of camdrones fly above to send the sight to every television in the Empire, across the globe, broadcasted on every single channel whether anybody likes it or not. The only other option is to switch the signal off, for the media corporations that part-own the American government are themselves determined to worship Jesus America and his anointed king.

Martin Lansky, in his Israeli Defense Force uniform bearing Sayeret Matkal insignia, attracts ecstatic pilgrims praising the Holy State of Israel and its King in English, Hebrew, and the Unknown Tongue; Real Americans too are God’s Chosen People, the Holy Tribe of Manasseh according to the unquestioned Doctrine of British Israel, united in holy union with the Holy Tribe of Judah in eternal service to God. More than once he hears devout Americans spit anathemas at those Jews committing “treason” against Orthodoxy and the Holy Kingdom to consort in adultery with the whore Reason. “No Egoists here, right?” he whispers conspiratorially to Connor.

“You try herding cats sometime,” Connor replies. “Attack dogs still run in packs.” Lansky laughs; Scope, his identity sufficiently hidden under his Melodia Country Music Promotions cap, keeps his eyes and his goggles’ camera focused on the stage, undistracted even by the smitten matrons swarming Connor and telling him their desire to beg his father to marry him to their daughters.

Terrorists hide in the crowd, dressed like pilgrims, swaying and glossolating like pilgrims, waiting for the terror masters to give the order to strike. The pilgrims are too preoccupied with the collective ecstasy of their revival to notice.

Away from the congregation, rats scurry and pigeons forage. Copbots chase them, capture them, and eat them bloody raw as the cams watch from above.

COPCO Seattle. “What’s with these bots?” cries Agent 40125. “Are they malfunctioning?”

Jack Becket smirks grimly. “Somebody’s playin” with my toys.” To the techs in their cubicles, he barks, “Get me a trace on this bastard, now!”

“We are tracing him, Chief!” replies Agent 686454. “There’s no traceable signal coming from anywhere!”

Jack punches the wall. “Damn! Figures it had to be a rootkit!”

“A rootkit, Jack?” asks Radisson. “Where would our cyberterrorist find that?”

“Only everywhere on the Darknet. Whatever your operating system is, they got a rootkit for it. Once you install it, the computer’s yours and you can do whatever you want with it. Wipe the victim’s hard drive, steal identities and intel, assemble a botnet for a denial-of-service attack, you name it.”

“So what makes you think it’s a wedge end of a cyber assault and not a malfunction or an employee prank?”

“You saw those precogs as well as I did. God knows if we can save ’em all. Spanner’s here, so we’d better expect the worst.”

yacht. When Deth passes the Cockroach Twins, he sees them hacking CGI demons in Blender and K3D on their laptops. “Hey, kids! What’s with the monsters?”

Punisheroach answers, “Dude, these are custom models for like Hero World and such.”

Moon breathlessly informs, “You can find all kinds of monster models all over the Darknet, just like player skins!”

“We’re converting ’em into the proprietary format the government uses for these kinds of things.”

At the main computer, Lars says, “Cowardly and superstitious people are a criminal lot. The terrorists only think they can dish out the terror. We’re gonna show those posers how it’s really done.” The doors open for J.T. The security system says in a soothing female voice, “Welcome, Agent 98393. Your request has been approved. Please come in.”

“I’ve got four more contractors coming, so make sure to let ’em in and direct ’em to me. Here’s their access codes.”

“I will do that. Is there anything else you request?”

He thinks for a second, and then an idea hits him. “One thing. If you find any unauthorized armed personnel in the complex, pull a GLaDOS on ’em.”

“At your request. Please enter now, Agent 98393. Your contractors will join you shortly.”

“Thank you.” As they enter, Shira chuckles and fingers the cube in her pocket. “What was that about?”

“You don’t play games?”

“I’m a busy, busy girl.” She takes out the Miniature Companion Cube and snaps it onto her neck strap.

Sparks rolls his eyes. “Oh.”

They wend their way through the labyrinthine complex. Because the elevators have been shut off, they take the stairs, all the way down to the vast basement, several blocks in every direction. The loud hum of countless thousands of parallel processing mainframes nearly deafens them and disguises their presence.

“Wow,” says Shira, stunned at the vastness of the complex. “So these are the fabled servers of”

“This is almost bigger than NORAD.”

Shira spins around with her arms wide open. “And tonight, their power is ours.”

Westlake Plaza. A giant American flag, with one star in the blue field representing the eternal unity of Jesus America and his Nation, descends over the platform. “Old Glory” is no mere flag; it is a holy object, the idol of Jesus America, Manifest Destiny encapsulated into a single symbol: by this sign, thou shalt conquer. Jesus America’s Chosen People explode into cheers, screams, thunderous applause, and the Unknown Tongue. The Marine Corps Marching Band plays the National Anthem and the Army Chorus sings the lyrics in full; the massed pilgrims down below break out into mass glossolalia, thanking Jesus America in the Unknown Tongue. After the last held note of the anthem stops, the four biggest and strongest armoured soldiers in the Presidential Guard carry a litter on their strength-enhanced shoulders, and seated in the litter is the figure of Roger Steele BecketPatriot the First: King of Texas, Emperor of America, Lord of the World, high chieftain of the Confederate-American tribe, and high priest to the Messiah of the End Times. The crowd let out their adoration in one deafening roar. (Shira: “Now that is the biggest squee in history. And I’ve been to Twilight conventions.”) They set the litter down in front of the pulpit. Slowly he stands. He wears a robe beyond splendor, woven from fibers made out of precious metals and encrusted in glowing backlit gems. His body looks too young for his age, as if he were the same Super Patriot he was when he took the battle to the Chinese Red Army during the Korean War, eerily perserved in time; yet he seems every bit his ninety-eight years. Two Presidential Guardsmen move the pulpit away so the King can stand between Drusilla Becket AMERICA!, his youngest and most powerful daughter, and Conservative Revolutionary Party chairwoman Sarah AMERICA! As they kneel before him in adoration, he holds out his arms and reveals to his congregation his godhood. (Sparks: “Now here it comes.”)

Suddenly, one bodyguard breaks ranks, shoots two more, and holds up a detonator. He screams the Shahada — but a copbot interrupts him, grabbing both his arms and yanking them right off his body. The terrified killer screams for Allah as his life spurts out of him in red fountains. Five men in camo armour and armed with Kalashnikovs rappel down the side of the tower, land in a pentagon around the King, and raise their rifles to shoot him. Five copbots punch their fists right through their torsos, cutting through Kevlar like butter. Eight more armoured men fly by on hoverboards and attempt to shoot him from the sky. Chairwoman Sarah AMERICA! cringes in terror behind him; Drusilla cuts in front of him, holds her arms out in front of her, closes her eyes, and whispers her invocation of power. The assassins shoot; Drusilla opens her now glowing eyes; the bullets bounce off the force shield she projects. The snipers atop the skyscrapers shoot the flyers down. Drusilla collapses to her knees and pants in exhaustion.

But suddenly, a shot rings out. Blood spurts from a new hole between King Patriot’s eyes; he stumbles, collapses, and falls.

The crowd goes silent.

An armoured COPCO strike agent hovers in front of the platform. The jetpack agents were created to fight the hoverboard-riding sky pirates who have plagued American cities since the coup. The mole raises his gun high and lets out his war cry: “Ad majorem gloriam Dei! Sparks’ jaw drops in recognition. Shira says, “You know this guy?”

“Ogden,” he snarls.

“Former colleague?”

“Former FBI agent, before Rebel Styles got him.”

Shira smirks wickedly. “Well!”

Alex, Jennifer, and the Shelley twins run toward them. “Did we miss something?” asks Alex.

Sparks replies, “Looks like the Pope just signalled his disapproval.”

Westlake Plaza. All the snipers and strike agents in range shoot Ogden down. His jetpack explodes; he kamikazes toward the platform but lands short, succeeding only in creating five new martyrs for Jesus America. The king’s four guards put him back on his litter and whisk it through the door. Then they emerge with another litter—

—and on it sits King Patriot — alive! They set down the litter in the same place. He stands up, raises his arms again as if to embrace his entire congregation, and they roar out their adoration louder than before. The six of them watch the spectacle on the server farm’s security monitors. Shira exclaims, “I know that trick.”

Sparks cries out, “My God! He used a clone to resurrect himself!”

“That's an obvious substitution trick! Any magician could see through that!”

Jennifer says, “Any autistic kid can see through that. Either the second King's a clone, or the first's a double.”

Kagemusha! Resculpt the face, body, and vocal cords of a willing devotee, implant a mind control microchip like the ones they use in prison factories so he can control him remotely, and you’ve got the perfect sacrificial double! Kagemusha: shadow warrior! Get the terrorist to martyr you, then pull a resurrection on ’em! Pretty City’s top surgeons get a windfall, and Kingy here captures the suckers with signs and wonders! You can outdo Jesus, if you know the trick!”

Sparks chuckles. “Why Resculpt when it’s cheaper to clone? Any Corporate worth his net worth has a stash of spare bodies. Dictel Research scientists have found a way to imprint the mind of a dying person onto a fresh clone. So when a High Executive’s body starts to wear out beyond repair, he takes a clone out of its vat, offers up his old body as a sacrifice to himself, and then returns in his new body. No magic but the show to dupe the slobs. Clone resurrection.

Westlake Plaza. A terrorist attempts to spoil the show. “Eat this, fascist motherfuckers!” But before he can throw it, a copbot grabs his arm and breaks it, making him scream in pain and drop the grenade. The copbot yells “You’re under arrest!?, bodyslams him prone onto the grenade, and lands its crushing weight on top of him. The explosion obliterates the terrorist. The copbot stands up and runs after a group of attacking cops, oblivious to the gore staining the entire front of its body. Another terrorist shoots bullet after bullet into two approaching copbots. When he’s empty, they chase him, grab him, sandwich him, and crush him between their bodies. Two more copbots gruesomely disassemble two more would-be suicide bombers.

Justice for the people!”screams a familiar voice near Connor, Lansky, and Scope. Before Adam Gabriel can get off a shot, Connor elbow-smashes his head from behind and Lansky punches him out. The odd-looking blonde next to him tries to shoot them; Lansky yanks her gun arm, trips her backwards, falls with his full weight on top of her, knocking out her breath. Connor rips the pale latex skin off her face, revealing — “Talia?! Well, well, well!” Grinning, he kicks her in the face and sings, “Shira’s gonna be tickled at what we just caught!”

The crowd of devout Americans begin to panic. King Patriot stands before them, arms out in benediction to calm the pilgrims and tempt the terrorists to martyr him again. Terrorists take the bait and shoot at them, leading the strike agents and copbots to them with orders to capture not shoot. Some terrorists, recognizing their defeat, attempt to flee only to find themselves overtaken by jetpack agents and then swarmed by copbots. Shira smirks. “Hmph! All too easy.”

“What’s so easy about catching terrorists?”

Jennifer says, “You don’t need precogs or Patternists to figure out how terrorists work. It’s been well documented for two hundred years at least.”

“What they don’t get,” Shira adds, “is that no vanguard can use their tricks against another vanguard that rule by ’em and hope to succeed.”

Westlake Plaza. The holoprojectors mounted to the buildings surrounding the platform create a huge image of Jesus America, nine hundred feet tall: the traditional bearded image of Jesus dressed in the traditional garb of Uncle Sam, complete with top hat, wearing the Holy American Flag as a cape. The pilgrims prostrate themselves before the apparition of their God. The terrorists see the god and realize they are to be sacrificed to him; they struggle in a vain attempt to escape, beg their gods for mercy, defiantly shout the formulas of their religions in the face of the rival god.

Talia Espinoza of the Socialist Revolutionary Organization, unmasked and carried aloft by two copbots, remains silent and glares at the smugly smiling face of the King. Her captors never bothered to confiscate the vampire-killing stake she brought. Now she realizes she can never slay him: Roger Becket is a new type of vampire, one with many bodies all alike. One stake in one heart cannot kill a vampire with many hearts. Facing the new posthuman evolution of the Dragonite lord, all she can do is stare at him in hatred.

The King feels her hate and stares back smiling in triumph. You should have known we would be ready for you, slayer, he says silently to her alone. Do you think we would let ourselves die out with the old race?

yacht. “Back Orifice, do your stuff!” says Lars.

“You think we can take that thing?” asks Deth.

“If it runs Windows,” Lars informs him with mock solemnity, “that motherfucker is ours.”

Westlake Plaza. Some terrorists continue to struggle; some resign themselves and go limp; all of them glare with burning hatred at the Conservative Revolutionary crowd, the god whose nine-hundred-foot image towers above them, the giant Imperial Flag behind them, and the Nation for which it stands, whose holy name the pilgrims chant: “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” The copbots take them onto the platform and forcibly kneel them at the front with their hands on the back of their heads. COPCO agents step up behind them and point their pistols at the backs of their heads. But just before they are about to make their blood offering—

—Jesus America vanishes, leaving a void— Jennifer her goggles, still in disbelief at the images from Scope’s camera. “I see nothing!

Leila gasps. “The King’s weakness!

Sparks realizes: “Out of nothing, back to nothing, like a ghost—”

Shira snaps her fingers. “That’s it!

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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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