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Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 17: Power, Corruption, and Lies
Part 3: The Nuclear Option
Part 3: The Nuclear Option
9 october 2014.
Shira’s apartment. A naked Sparks opens the door, and Shira enters carrying four jam-packed cloth grocery bags. He closes the door behind her and locks it as she half-jogs to the kitchen and puts the bags on the counter and her phone and yo-yo pouches next to them. She strips off her clothes as fast as she can; once she’s as naked as they are, she passionately kisses Leila, Sparks, and Amanda in turn.
“You were pedo hunting tonight?” asks Sparks.
Shira grins at him. “It ain’t just any old time one can exploit Perverted Justice for a big score.”
“I should have been reporting that story,” says Amanda.
“Amanda, you know you’re just another interchangeable blond haircut to them.”
Amanda shakes Shira by the shoulders and cries, “Damn it, Shira, you destroyed my career!”
“No I didn’t. Not me, not Spanner. Your competition did. It’s another form of Tournament. That’s why all blond female reporters in the lamestream are interchangeable. You, my love, I saved from total corruption.” Amanda sighs in despair. Shira kisses her again and says, “I only did it because I love you. Who taught me and Kira about free love? You did. For that, we’re forever grateful.”
“But Kira’s dead, and it’s all my fault...”
Shira kisses her more deeply. “Don’t you dare blame yourself. If by a miracle she survived, we’ll find her somehow. But if she really is dead, a lot more Corpos will pay than just the Fearsome Foursome.” She takes the SD card out of the phone’s pouch. “And this is how we’re gonna make the bastards pay.”
“What’s that?” asks Leila. Sparks takes the card and looks it over carefully.
“That, dear lovers, is the total destruction of the Fearsome Foursome, courtesy of Arvid Shield. And you three are the stars. Behold your revenge!”
10 october 2014.
before school. Lesbian rumors now surround Debbie despite all the suspiciously specific denials her cousins the Fleer sisters can publicly throw out.
Polly says, “Shira, is it really true that Debbie’s in the closet?”
“Girl hates me so much ’cuz she knows she loves me,” Shira replies. “Pretty well-built closet if you ask me.”
“So why doesn’t she get out of it?”
“Consider this: Big Chief One-Eye’s already suffered a black eye when it turned out his elder daughters were doing each other.”
“You mean the twins?”
“She wins the Cheezy Prize™.” Shira winks.
A nasty idea makes Polly smile. “Hmm, maybe there’s rumors floating around Charmian and Dorian?”
“Them doing each other? Nah. But me doing ’em? I’ll just keep teasing ’em and let the rumors fly.”
“Don’t say that, Polly!” complains Mimi. “You’re only giving her ideas!” She stands behind Polly with her arms crossed.
Shira lets a wicked smirk grow on her face. “Well... I’m sorry, Mimi, but I’m afraid you’re already too late. That would make an excellent rumor, even if it isn’t true. But Kelly, on the other hand...” She turns to Mimi. “The question is, which twin’s she in love with?”
hallway. On the Bremerton High football team, Bart Green is only a linebacker. The linemen are so huge that they make him look merely human in contrast. Bart, the master fighter, is relatively calm; they are violent.
Defensive end Ned Jovanovich is particularly agitated today. He yells at any student or teacher that gets within his hypersensitive aura and threatens to beat them up. Shira gets in his face and refuses to move. “I know something that you don’t,” she sings.
“What is it?”
“Joe Fisk is laughing at you behind your back. He knows he’s bigger than you, and he’ll always be bigger than you. He calls you a runt.”
He explodes in rage. “That motherfuckin” bitch! I’ll kill him!” He runs down the hall in a screaming fury, knocking over anyone unlucky enough to get in his path. He finds his locker room rival, defensive guard Fisk, and attacks him.
Jovanovich and Fisk battle like two enraged bulls. Unlike a formal Tournament challenge, they fight by no rules and try to kill each other. People flee to the distance that seems safe to them for now, far enough away to avoid becoming collateral damage but close enough to watch in horror. They dent lockers, knock holes into the walls, break windows; they fight and fight and fight till they both drop from exhaustion.
library. Polly says angrily, “I’m glad you survived, Shira. Did you have to get those two to kill each other?”
“Hey, babe. Anything to keep them from killing us.”
Jennifer complains, “I wish we didn’t have to go to that stupid assembly they’re holding.”
“I’m going whether you like it or not, darling,” says Shira. “The rich and popular Shepherd Rexelle Steele is scheduled to preach, and I gotta stick around to see the fireworks.”
Polly holds her hands out. “I’m going home to get as far away as possible.”
Shira puts her arm around her shoulders. “I don’t blame you. It is true she doesn’t like witches.”
Leila sits at the table and places a book in front of her. “What’s so special about this Rexelle Steele?”
“She’s Debbie’s mother.”
Leila rolls her eyes. “Oh great. So they’ll be throwing hellfire at us for the whole afternoon?”
“No. At each other.”
Sally slips by and says, “You’ve been stuck in Pretty City too long, sugah. Ain’t you heard of the legend of Rexelle Steele?”
Shira grins. “Rexie, you see, is a fervent believer in the Ex-Gay Therapy ministry. Now, consider her children. Frank’s a crime lord and serial killer. The twins, Quinn and Lindsey? They’re doin’ each other, big time. So Rexie worries her twisted head off over her youngest child. She’s terribly afraid she too will turn out to be a shameless pervert just like her elder siblings. So she’ll be baptizing her precious little princess with hellfire and brimstone tonight. If Debbie gives in, she’s a wimp and she’ll lose all respect. But if she fights it, she’ll out herself, and then she’s done for. And all because of her not-so-secret crush on yours truly.”
“So damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t,” says Leila. “Poetic justice for a mean girl.”
Jennifer sighs. “I guess I’ll stay for the party, then.” Shira winks.
lunch. Debbie picks at her food. “What’s wrong, cousin?” asks Dorian.
“Nothing,” Debbie snaps
“Are you worrying about the assembly this afternoon?”
Dorian sighs and goes back to eating her lunch.
hallway. Bart stands in Rob’s way to block him. “Well, hello there, Mr Head Boy,” taunts Rob. “What’s botherin’ you today?”
Bart says menacingly, “I’m a-hearin’ bad things ’bout you, pretty boy.”
“Rumors ’bout me boyfriend? I happen to like pretty boys as much as pretty girls. Too bad you ain’t man enough to handle it, Barty.”
Bart takes a swing at Rob. Rob parries it, knees Bart in the groin, then stomp-kicks him in the chest so hard that he flies backwards several meters, lands with a thud and knocks his head on the hard floor, and rolls over. Bart briefly holds his head, then puts his hands on the floor and slowly raises himself back to his feet. He glares back at Rob and breathes heavily in his rage.
“This a Challenge?”
“You want one?”
“You don’t. Remember I’m as dangerous as I am shameless, Barty.” Rob grins. “I’m as bad as my sister.”
Bart angrily wags his finger at him. “I showed that bitch who’s boss!”
“You made one fatal mistake. You let her live. After what you did to her, all she wants is to watch you die.” The two fighters stare each other down, Bart with a hateful grimace, Rob with an ironic smile full of threat.
band room. Karen presides over an impromptu meeting of the Peace Committee. “There’s been too much violence today. We need to find a way to put a stop to it.”
Shira says, “All the violence is coming from the guys who believe their manhood depends on being violent. They must have been upping the juice since the little happening last Sunday.”
“I think they’re preparing for war,” says Connor. “We need to make sure we can defend ourselves and keep those who can’t away from harm.”
“We can’t afford to be pacifists,” says Leila.
“Leila,” Karen says, “nonviolent action helped bring down the Raj, Jim Crow, and apartheid. Remember?”
“But it didn’t bring down the Third Reich or any Red Empire. Hitler himself told Churchill he’d have had his thugs shoot Gandhi into hamburger at the first opportunity. Remember the Stalinist Terror and the Tiananmen Square Massacre. I do like you, Karen, but I know the Beckets ’cos I’ve had to live with ’em. They’re more like a Hitler or Stalin than a Gandhi or King. They’re killers. Against these people, nonviolence is suicide. We need to hit the enemy hard. That requires weapons.”
“We can’t fight their way and still win.”
“That’s what the terrorists don’t realize,” Shira says. “They’re fighting the enemy’s way on the enemy’s turf, and that’s why they always lose. Even if the beat the Man, they always end up becoming the Man. They’re attacking the Man’s strength. We have to attack their weakness.”
Colette listens to Shira with open admiration. “So where do think they’re weakest?”
“The fatal contradiction at the core of the Conservative Revolution is between the extreme moral purism they got from the Christian Right and the singleminded devotion to corruption they inherited from the Corporate chickenhawks.”
“What kinds of weapons do you think can hurt ’em the most?”
“Mind bombs. Mind viruses. Scandals and controversies. Come to think of it, a big scandal’s scheduled to explode right after school.”
Karen warns, “We can’t use violence, Shira.”
Shira smiles ironically. “Who said anything about using violence? We didn’t need it on Sunday.”
library. Bremerton High’s three hot librarians, Sally, Kitty, and Chrissy, have three hot student librarians in training: Jennifer, Polly, and the Shelley twins” cousin from the Student Council, Rachel Brinkman. All of them look great in fashion eyeglasses.
Sally drums for Charlie and Desiree’s band, the Naked Killers. Kitty is a keyboardist like Desiree, but prefers the BadPop style that made Charlie famous before the coup and is trying to convince her to restart her old band the Sour Grapes. Chrissy writes slash fanfics. Sometimes Charlie and Desiree share their bed with them, and sometimes Shira, Ruby, and Elle join in. They love to dote on Jennifer because they hero-worship her mother/wife Willa Richter-Thomas without reason; sometimes they share their bed too. All three are secular like Shira and Jennifer, and Polly is a witch, but they treat her fondly too.
Rachel is her cousin Leila’s antithesis and archenemy. As intellectual and literate as she is (two characteristics she shares with Leila), she is also a devout Jew obsessed with Kabbalah. She regards the others coolly because they are lesbians, or at least bisexuals, who strike her as promiscuous, while she is a strict heterosexual who prides herself on preserving her virginity. Leila calls her “butterfaith” (slang for “she’d be the perfect girl if she didn’t belong to a cult”), mocks her superstitious red-thread bracelet, and insists on asking her why she doesn’t wear an Orthodox shawl; in turn, she calls her cousin a dirty whore. Sally, Kitty, and Jennifer are far more gentle and tactful with her; they believe she will eventually see reason. Even so, Leila warns them that Rachel is not just the hated Governor’s loyal granddaughter but a loyal agent of the even more bitterly hated school administration.
After Rachel leaves, Jennifer brings Shira and Leila to join Sally, Kitty, Chrissy, and Polly in the larger meeting room with the large table surrounded by ten chairs and the walls lined with bookshelves crammed with reference books. Colette joins them soon afterward. “Let’s talk about the Rachel problem,” says Sally.
“Let’s,” Leila concurs.
“So,” says Shira, “is our council secretary gathering blackmailable information on us?”
Jennifer winks at Shira. “If so, we know someone who can steal it.”
“Is it true,” Leila asks Shira, “that Rachel refuses to shower after P.E. class because she doesn’t want you to stare at her naked body?”
Polly rolls her eyes. “After what Shira pulled on Charmian recently, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“No, it’s not that,” Shira says. “My hands on Charmian’s sweet breasts told me she’s almost as deep in the closet as Debbie, and Kelly I know is red-hot for her. But Rachel” Doesn’t register. She’s just a prudish stuck-up breeder, that’s all. I think she’s here only ’cuz she was assigned. I predict she’ll marry young, probably to some handsome yeshiva student, and be a stay-at-home. I don’t think she even wants a career. Still, I’d love to see that lovely body of hers naked, if only at least once.”
Colette, wide-eyed, says, “You actually put your hands on Charmian’s breasts?”
“After the hell she put both you and Leila through, I should have raped her. But the way she melted and moaned before she slapped me, I knew it’d be a bad idea to give her the proverbial taste of her own medicine. She desperately needs some of mine.” Shira winks.
“Rachel isn’t the real problem anyway,” says Jennifer, “and neither is Charmian, or Bart really. The council’s unpopular anyway. Anybody with a hold on reality sees them for what they are, a bunch of stuck-up rich twits whose parents have money and pull. What we really need to do is strike at those parents, and the principals they own, and their party commissar Spiekerman.”
Shira carefully puts her phone and Arvid’s SD card in front of her. She points at Arvid’s card. “This card has all the ammo I need to kill the Fearsome Foursome. Not ruin, but kill. I’m talking Nancy Grace’s hands strangling Governor Wally’s wolfsbane-poisoned throat.”
“As much as I loathe La Grace,” says Leila, “I have to say that image gives me quite the thrill.”
Then Shira points at her phone. “The card in my phone contains spycam video of Admiral Fleer committing blatant adultery in the park with none other than our own Major Honey Sue. It also contains unretouched video evidence of what Bart and Ollie did to Leila, spelling sure death for Bart.”
“I should kill him myself. If he throws me a Challenge, I will.”
“You won’t need to. This will. Now, the important thing is, there’s nothing actually moral about the Conservative Revolution. The Party rules purely by power, corruption, and lies. They’re in it not to save America from monsters, but to deify their sacred egos and turn themselves into gods. They call it the Law of Social Darwinism. We call it Tournament. Conscience and compassion are mortal sins to these people. They hero-worship serial killers. The terrorists? They’re idiots. Scandal, disgrace, and information warfare — that’s how you slay living gods. They mess with us, we’ve got the nuclear option.”
Shira holds up her phone and Arvid’s card, and flashes a beautiful wicked smile. Leila smiles at her approvingly. Colette gapes at her admiringly. The others stare at her in shock.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 9/14/11: Added new first scene and the character of Nicole; everything else from original Chapter 17.]
[Revision 2.1, 9/29/11: Changed Nicole’s name to Colette to fit Third Edition continuity.]