Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spanner 23.4: Vote Early, Vote Often

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 23: Black Panic in the Suites
Part 4: Vote Early, Vote Often
The issues on this election’s electronic ballot:
  1. CPMC Recall: effectively a vote of no confidence in the Corporate régime.
  2. Drug Decriminalization: a referendum on whether to continue Prohibition — and the gang wars it generates.
  3. Anti-Bullying: this would ban Tournament.
  4. Marriage Equality: this would repeal the eugenic and moral purity laws, making marriage a matter of individual choice and banning the Eugenics Institute from Cascadia.
  5. Anti-Sharia: this would forbid the enactment of religious laws in Cascadia, not only Islam but the Church of America as well.
This ballot is an open secret. Only the Corporate régime does not know about it — until it’s too late...
4 november 2014.
Immediately, a time bomb is discovered hidden between tree planters. Jennifer runs to reach it with only a minute to spare. Polly joins her. “Don’t you have to cut the right wire? or the wires in the right order?”

“This is not one of those movie-type bombs like the Toymaker makes,“ says Jennifer. Besides the wire from the timer to the detonator, there are four wires, all black. “This one goes to the timer, this must be the ground, these are the positive and negative...” She turns off a switch, and the timer shuts off. “...and there’s the switch, and here’s the battery.” She takes a nine-volt battery out of its holder, then pulls out all the wires. By then the bomb squad are here, so she gives the bomb to them.

Sparks gets there late. “Bomb trouble?”

Jennifer sighs. “Yeah.”


“True believer, probably. Simple construction, standard, probably got it off the Internet.” Jennifer shrugs and smiles.
To our rebellious subjects: There is no election. You are not the government. The government is CPMC. The government is me. I am the law. My word is the word of God. Obedience alone is of God. All rebellion is inspired by Satan. You will cease your Devil-inspired rebellion against God, or we shall be forced to destroy you all, to the man, root and branch.
Suddenly a piratecast interrupts the official announcement:
[An eight-bit representation of the head of the Statue of Liberty replaces the blue screen, opening and closing her mouth in clockwork fashion; descending red, white, and blue gradients replace Spanner’s rainbow background, speaking in a cheery female computer voice.]

Lady Liberty:
Good morning, America! I’m Lady Liberty, and I’m here to remind y’all that if you don’t vote, you can’t be free.

[The computer image of Lady Liberty is replaced by a series of portraits of great American founders and leaders, mouths animated ventriloquist-dummy style.]

Thomas Jefferson:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...

Thomas Paine:
These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

Abraham Lincoln:
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable — a most sacred right — a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.

Lady Liberty:
So y’all better rush on over to the polls and make your votes count! Let’s show ’em People Power! Let’s show ’em that America is We the People! Get off your duffs and make your votes count!
Litton and the NewsCorp techs finally interrupt the real piratecast, but not before the damage has already been done. Governor Brinkman returns to the screen, angrier than ever, looking less human by the second, venting his sovereign wrath in an escalating rage that distorts his face. (Sparks: “He’s starting to look less human.” Shira: “Good. Then people will see what their owners really are.”)
Y’all are traitors! Goddamn liberal communist Muslim faggot nigger-lovers! I’ll kill you all! I’ll eat y’all alive! I’ve got nukes and y’all don’t! I’ll rip your—

[Brinkman’s face is replaced with a comic book image of the Wolf Man and the sound of a howling movie werewolf.]

Lady Liberty:
Not so fast, Fido!

[The eight-bit image of Spanner appears. This time the famous graffiti tag of badge-shield, crossed wrenches, and Old English “S” is superimposed on his faceplate..]

People of Cascadia: You are being faced with a choice. The Synarchy are throwing you a Challenge they think you can’t possibly win. Accept it and throw it in their faces. Is America truly the land of freedom and democracy, or just an Islamic Caliphate of the ultra-rich dedicated to the cult of Mammon? The choice is yours and yours alone. This is Tournament, and you are the fighters under Challenge. Go forth and win.
CPMC boardroom. The Fearsome Foursome — Brinkman, Becket, Everson, Litton, plus Ross — face the wrath of Chairman Becket, who pounds on his desk, jerking his vidphone image. “You incompetents! Why are you letting those monkeys stomp all over you? We fought the Revolution against these animals! Explain! John?”

“Yes, Uncle!” says Jack Becket. “Somebody, and I have a very good idea who it is, is starting gang wars statewide just to divert our precious police resources away from the real threat, out on the streets.”

“Uncle, I don’t understand why the worthless rabble’s trying to mooch away our deserved reward,“ Brinkman complains. “Why don’t we just wipe ’em out!”

Ross says, “They’re just ungrateful swine, Walter. They’re incapable of earning an honest buck, so they’re after ours.”

“Because Jesus America didn’t choose them to be gifted with wealth,” says Everson. “God commands us to put them under ordeal and prove their worthiness to him. We have no choice.”

The four argue among themselves until Litton whistles. The boardroom falls silent. The Chairman says, “You had something to say, Mr Litton?”

The Rat Bastard looks at the other four with a hint of disgust. “You guys can argue all you want. Now it’s my turn. Sit back and watch.”

telesphere. The presenters on the official news channels speak with one voice, warning the “little people” to obey their betters and not vote, Or Else. Suddenly, they pause to prepare for Litton’s move. (Shira: “The lamestream sure know how to telegraph a fake piratecast, don’t they.”) He gives the order: “Now!” His TV techs switch the signal on. “Take that, motherfuckers!”

All the video signals disappear, and—
[—a man in a black motorcycle helmet appears. But it’s not Spanner. His jacket, for one, is Minuteman red. He speaks in a scrambled voice.]

The Terrorist:
I know you stupid commie faggots. You like to call me “The Terrorist.” In Jesus America’s name, don’t call me the Terrorist! I’m an angel from God.

You’ve pissed me off for the last time, you faggots. This is my last offer. You give me all the money you’ve got and your total and humiliating obedience and, hmm, crown me your king and worship me as your god, [camera zooms out] I might spare your worthless liberal faggot lives by not blowing up your butt-ugly commie liberal city. [gestures toward nuke behind him] You’ve got until [checks watch] about five minutes from now. I’m kinda hoping youAAAh!—

[A bat hits and shatters the Terrorist’s faceplate from off camera. The helmeted man who becomes the object of the camera’s attention is Spanner. He hammers the Terrorist in the shoulders and face several more times, then wrestles him into a full nelson and forces the villain to face the camera.]

Well, well, well. I should have known. The Fearsome Foursome are back up to their old tricks again. They even hired a mercenary assassin to destroy the city. His name is... [he wrests the helmet off the man’s head to reveal a steroid-faced Moral Enforcer with a shattered nose:] Stanley Green, drug pusher!

Stan Green:
You fu—

[Spanner interrupts the bullyboy with his fist, breaking his jaw and then knocking him out with a strike to the left temple. The signal suddenly goes out—]
—and regularly scheduled news entertainment programming resumes with all network presenters screaming.

Westlake Plaza. Someone dropped a time bomb in one of the trash cans nearby; it was discovered when one of the local homeless people remembered hearing a ticking sound earlier. COPCO’s anti-terror specialists evacuate the area. Suddenly Shira gets through and inspects the bomb. She recognizes the Toymaker’s work at once. A COPCO counterterrorist warns, “You are not authorized—”

“I know the Toymaker and you don’t.” She holds the bomb in her right hand and holds out her left. “Screwdriver. Common.”

“No, you can’t—”

You can’t. I can. Now gimme that screwdriver.” The COPCO bomb technician gives her a standard-size common screwdriver. She ignores the four thick red wires on the bomb’s surface and pries around the complicated closed box to find the hidden wires. “The Toymaker’s different from most bomb makers in that he does it the way movie villains do.” She finds one of the hidden wires: black. She holds out her left hand again. “Wire cutters.” The bomb tech gives her his. She gently pries out the wire and snips it. The timer goes out. “That was the negative.” She resumes prying around with the screwdriver. “You have to find all three hidden wires, negative, positive, and ground, before you can cut the big wires. If you don’t, you go boom. That’s his signature.” She finds the positive and ground wires, also black, and snips them; then she cuts all the red wires and gives the dead bomb and the tools back to the tech.

“Who’d put a bomb here?” the tech asks.

“Anybody could have, but the real question is, who would benefit? Someone with something to lose in the election: the Party, the Church, the banks, CPMC.” People crowd in to cheer her latest victory over the Toymaker. “And these are who they’re losing to.”
The election results:
Unlike mail-in ballots (normally required by Cascadian law), votes by phone are counted as soon as they are made. Most people voted within the first two hours, and already the results defy the sovereign will of CPMC:
  1. CPMC Recall: Yes 86%No 34% — Governor CPMC is officially overthrown. It does not pay to alienate your constituency in an age of decentralizing technologies, when word travels worldwide at light speed. But CPMC announces it will continue on in power in open defiance of the people, like an overconfident king who willfully denies that daggers are being raised behind him.
  2. Drug Decriminalization Initiative: Yes 72%No 28% — CPMC tried to frame this as a matter of simple morality: eliminate drugs, followed by alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and fatty foods, and the people will automatically become moral. The issue turned out to be the incestuous relationship that COPCO and Dictel Correctional Industries have with the Syndicates, and the growing totalitarian threat of the supergang known as the Omega Syndicate. Cascadians, particularly in the cities, voted to nullify the federal Prohibition Amendment in their own state constitution.
  3. Anti-Bullying Initiative: Yes 67%No 33% — Cascadian voters fed up with the Conservative Revolutionary Party constantly beating up on them in the name of American Manhood have now officially banished the sacred institution of Tournament from their state. School and police bullying are now criminalized under the assault laws.
  4. Marriage Freedom Initiative: Yes 56%No 44% — The coup prevented the former states of Washington and Oregon from repealing their Defense of Marriage Acts and expanding marriage rights to same-sex couples. This corrects that and also serves to nullify the federal Defense of Marriage Amendment, the basis of all moral and eugenic purity laws, in Cascadia. The wording leaves room for marriage to “artificial persons,” whenever that term is defined. Even more than the Church of America and the Eugenics Institute, the Mormon Church, which requires opposite-sex marriage dedicated to procreation as a prerequisite for salvation, is protests the vote. All marriages to Jesus America performed by the Party stand.
  5. Anti-Sharia Amendment: Yes 91%No 9% — Principles of religious law, whether Sharia or Halacha, are unconstitutional in Cascadia. This is a direct rebuke to the CRP, which made strict application of Halacha the centerpiece of its “Moral America” policy, which Cascadians revile as “moral Stalinism.”
The will of the people has spoken. Naturally, the Conservative Revolutionary Party, the Church of America, and the United Corporations declare the election null and void at once. It reeks of democracy.
technosphere. The Team Spanner Election Committee meet on the Darknet. Shira is greeted by cheering avatars. Deth Pussy exults, “We won! We got the vote in! Let those money-eating bastards eat our dust!”

“Not so fast, pussycat,” says Shira. “Sure, we threw a big pie in CPMC’s face. But they still got the Rat Bastard, and he can still win it for ’em. We won Round One. The Mob botnets’ll still be trying to steal the election till eight, and the Rat Bastard and I still have our grudge match. Time for Round Two.”

Westlake Plaza. The strikers celebrate their victory. The face of Shepherd-Mayor Everson fails to sway them or even be heard above their cheers. But the sound cannons still attack from above, still difficult to silence with the sound cancellers on the ground.

Shira and Leila allow themselves a long sweet victory kiss. People around them cheer them on. In Cascadia, two women can marry each other if they want, now that the law allows it. If CPMC allows the election to stand.

“So what’s next?” asks Leila.

“Hard players think ahead. The Rat Bastard makes his move anytime now. I’m ready for mine.”

A helicopter slams into a nearby skyscraper and explodes with a sonic boom, knocking everybody in range to the street, including Shira and Leila. Hot metal and glass shards rain to the ground, injuring even more. People climb off each other, struggle to stand up, give each other some of the medical attention the city government is forbidden to provide. A wave of anger ripples through the crowd. They will not be cowed.

But Litton is a hard player. Shira plays her gambit. With one finger tap on her phone, she releases the virus.
There was no vote! It never happened! There’s only one vote in this state, and it’s mine! I’m the chairman, CEO, and sole owner of this corporation, and...

[The video signal distorts into noise, then fades into snow.]
on to the next...

Back to Chapter 23 index...
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 2, 10/23/11: All broadcast sequences edited from the unpublished first draft to fit Third Revision continuity; everything else is new material. All quotes by historical figures taken from the original sources.]

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