Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 17: Power, Corruption, and Lies
Part 6: We Officially Deny
Part 6: We Officially Deny
11 october 2014.
telesphere. Broadcast on all the network news shows: Amanda Currie’s resignation. She is uncharacteristically shaky and hysterical. The important excerpt:
Amanda:All the talking heads on all the official news channels report her resignation video as a suicide note. In the criminal underworld, the bookies take bets on when she’ll kill herself, or if she’ll go Howard Beale instead.
I’ve been under extreme stress for a long time. I’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer handle it. I’ve lost the ability to do my job effectively.
All the stress and backstabbing are getting to me! I can’t handle it anymore! I’m retiring from the media business effective immediately.
One of her interchangeable replacements reports Seattle Public Education Corporation CEO Peter Ross’ official announcement that due to funding going to school repairs, the company is eliminating all ‘non-essential programs’ (read: subjects not tested) as a cost-cutting measure. “Our business is to maximize test scores,” he tells the company’s shareholders. “We need to keep our business laser-focused on our basic mission.” He also announces that SPEC will not cut or sell off school sports teams because they make money in ticket sales, radio and television broadcasts, and ancillary merchandise sales.
In response, Bremerton Student Union spokesperson Shira Thomas holds a press conference. “The business of schools is education. SPEC and other public education companies have been steadily lowering not just the quality but the amount of education for two years running. If SPEC refuses to educate, students will refuse to pay to not be educated. Mr CEO, students are supposed to be your customers, not the product. If SPEC does not get back into the business of education and offer the full range of subjects and activities its customers require, then SPEC will soon be out of business, period.”
Underground City. Shira avoids the late ferries and flies to Seattle directly on her hoverboard, dressed in her bad-weather courier gear. She bribes her way into the Underground City beneath Pioneer Square, then takes a leisurely walk along the darkly lit subterranean streets to the techGothic. Despite being underage, she can enter because the club itself is illegal.
The doorman says, “Loca Fantoma ain’t Stylin” tonight?”
“Right now I don’t care.” Her phone sends the code to the front door’s security mechanism, and the doorman lets her in. She leaves behind a couple dozen jealous left-out rivetheads.
She weaves through the jerky robodancers, between the dead-eyed nude go-go dancers, past the booths crowded with robosexual johns copulating with their mechanical whores, to the sound-shielded booth in back where Sparks, Amanda, and Deth Pussy wait. She hangs her flight jacket, motorcycle helmet, and hoverboard on their holders, then slips in beside Deth. “ “Okay, what’s the order of business today?”
“That was quite the ultimatum you gave Ross there,” says Sparks.
“Hey, you wanna be in business, you gotta do your business. But Ross ain’t in it for business.”
“Babe, it’s all about social control,“ Deth says. “The Party wants people stupid.”
“That’s a no-brainer.“ The others laugh. “So what’s the order of business?“
“What did you find on Artie’s card?”
“You’ll be amazed.” She takes the card holder out of her jacket pocket. Sparks reaches for it, but she gives it to Deth. She smirks mischievously at Sparks The men both laugh. “What we got here is dirt so thick on the Fearsome Foursome, it’ll bury ’em. And I mean dead dead dead.”
Sparks takes out his jailbroken iPhone. “Sync me, Pussycat.”
“Come ’n’ get it,” says Deth. He inserts the card into his non-brand phone, syncs it to Sparks’s, and copies the files to the phones” hard drives. “The Big Al bit, Diana know already?”
“Knowing Big Al’s wife, she probably already has a copy of everything.”
“But she wouldn’t give it to you or Stu, would she?”
“Of course not. She doesn’t want us in on the in-palace wars.”
Shira says, “Well, somebody inside the palace gave Arvid Shield the Fleer vids. Somebody who knows somebody Edie Fleer trusts.”
“Or maybe the somebody Edie trusts. She’s been known to make enemies, you know.”
“Thank you, Captain Obvious.” Sparks chuckles.
“How come Arvid Shield seems to trust you?” asks Deth.
“He wants revenge. I suspect he actually likes me.”
“Y’know, we were talking about that right after Wayne Tremayne bit it. Rebel Styles was the only girl Artie was ever interested in.”
“That’s ’cuz Artie thinks Rebel’s a guy.” They laugh.
Sparks says, “Shira, there’s one think I have to tell you.”
“You have to realize the kind of danger you’re putting yourself in.”
“You know me, Jim. Flirting with danger is my life.”
“You know you could end up dead or worse.”
“Like Kira?” Sparks says nothing. “Listen, the Party’s been busily building up so much resentment in their so-called inferiors that if they kill or capture me, that spells instant martyrdom. As it is, when they took my Kira away from me, I got huge martyr cred right off the bat. They can’t kill me, even if they kill me, and they know it. That’s why they’re afraid to touch me.”
“She’s right about that,” says Deth. He points across the table. “But you two gotta be extra careful. Cop and flack? You’re still in the system. You ain’t got Shira’s kind of leverage. Remember you got One-Eye and his li’l sis on your ass, J.T.”
Sparks holds his hand to his forehead and shakes his head. “Jesus fucking America, Steve, I’m in deep enough shit as it is...” Amanda sighs.
Before they reach the front door on their way out, a gang of five long-bearded Caliphate jihad agents burst in, fire their AKs, and declare they’re closing the place down and sending all the patrons to Hell in the name of Allah. Sparks whips out his Beretta and shoots them all between the eyes.
12 october 2014.
Shira’s apartment. Hope, Selene, and Ayla, all cuddled together, sleep in the master bedroom when Shira comes home with Sparks after midnight. Amanda, no longer able to stay awake waiting for them, lies nude on the couch. Leila joins them to help them take off their clothes. The three embrace and kiss each other, then go to Amanda and take turns gently kissing her nipples and then her cunt. The sleeping woman moans softly, quietly, unconsciously. They join Leila in the office.
OZMA appears on the monitor screen. “Hi, everybody!”
“Hello, stranger,” Shira says. “Long time, no see.”
“Who’s this?” asks Leila.
“This, my love, is Seattle’s Urban Intelligence, hosted by the Wilder Foundation. Her avatar and the acronym of her name, OZMA, are a pun on ‘Emerald City.’”
Leila rolls her eyes. “Oh.”
“Got anything new and interesting to tell us, Ozzie?”
OZMA says, “Right now, there’s a meeting going on in the CPMC boardroom. Would you like to listen in?”
“You got a tap on ’em?” asks Sparks.
“Yes, and they don’t even know it.”
Shira grins. “Gimme the signal now. We gotta hear this.”
Salem. Far to the south, at Cascadia Public Management Corporation headquarters outside the former Oregon capital, the Fearsome Foursome and COPCO CEO Brendan Sparks meet with a trembling SPEC CEO. “Mr Ross,” says CPMC CEO Brinkman, “what the hell is this ‘student union’ thing you’re starting to attract?”
“Don’t ask me!“ protests Ross. “I’m not a principal! I only run this company!”
Jack Becket growls, “What it means is, the parasitic rabble is starting to organize against us. They’re threatening the proper hierarchy and order of things. They want to destroy the very principles of our revolution, and all that is right in the world. You have to do something about this, Ross.”
“John, that’s our job, not his,” says the COPCO CEO. “Securing the rights of wealth is our business. It’s up to us to put down this insurrection.”
“We should just kill these mice,” says Admiral Fleer.
“We need to put the fear of Jesus America into them,” adds Shepherd Everson, “with maximum terror if necessary.”
Ross says, “We tried that last weekend, but—”
Brinkman’s old-fashioned desk telephone rings. He takes the receiver from its base. “Hello?... Yes... No!... Thanks. Goodbye.” He slams the receiver down. “Gentlemen, we have a problem.”
telesphere. Network news talking heads report: “The Cascadia Public Management Corporation has released a statement saying that the rumors that Conservative Revolutionary Party membership will be required in order to be able to buy food are false. COPCO CEO Brendan Sparks promises to punish anybody accused of spreading—”
Spanner interrupts. “The Law of Plausible Deniability decrees that whatever the rulers deny is true by definition. CPMC and COPCO officially deny all rumors that only Party loyalists will be allowed to eat. Therefore the rumors are true.”
The first reports of desperate crowds smashing grocery store windows begin shortly afterward.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 9/17/11: Final scene from the first draft heavily modified to fit Second Edition continuity; Amanda’s retirement announcement moved here from Chapter 20. New scenes added.]
[Revision 2.1, 9/29/11: Added reference to 2.3 and 19.5 in first sentence of techGothic scene.]