Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spanner 24.1: Taking Profits

And now we get back into the story, though not quite yet into the action. That’s coming a few installments from now. The characters need some time to assimilate the events of last chapter...

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 24: Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
Part 1: Taking Profits

When fascism comes to America,
it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.

Sinclair Lewis

5 november 2014.
The sky above the city is the color of a Windows blue screen of death. The bright sun dominates its center and stares down impassively upon the human activity below. The wintry air is cold and crisp, and yet the girls of Team Bremelo wear their blue and yellow sailor-suit school uniforms in defiance of the fact that the uniforms’ school, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists. Its own Head Boy blew it up a week and a half ago. The Bremeloes watch from the High Avenue sidewalk as the construction crews race to rebuild the Bremerton High School building so the school can reopen.

All founding members are present: Shira Thomas, Jennifer and Connor Blair, Cory Belmont, Kio Marques, Polly Parker, and Karen Kubota. Several members joined after the founding: Brandi Quinn; Marina Reyes; Leila, Robert, and Fiona Shelley; Fuyumi, Harumi, and Seika Tachibana; and new member Deborah Becket — yes, one of those Beckets, the daughter of Jack Becket, turned traitor because she tried to publicly murder her mother Shepherd Rexelle Steele instead of submitting to Ex-Gay Faith Therapy. Courtney and Schuyler Richter-Thomas join their cousins Shira, Jennifer, Connor, and Karen; Brandi brings Arisa Saionji from the Slasher Hunters and new recruit Irina Lanskaya; the Tachibanas bring their friend from Seoul, Daisy Kwon; Kio brings his girlfriend Mimi Scott, and he is joined by his ex-girlfriend Colette Rosewater; and in each hand Shira holds the hand of a sweet loli, Ayla to her right and Lucie to her left.

Together they stand outside the closed-up, boarded-up hulk of Bremerton High School, watching the low-paid workmen cheerfully clear away the ruins. Bart Green, the school’s Tournament Leader a.k.a. Head Boy, blew it up. When his Valiant Team lost the Team Challenge they themselves threw at the Bremeloes, they brought their gangster friends and vandalized the school heavily and nearly burned it down. Sore losers. Now Shira and her girl fighters watch as workers scramble to rebuild it as fast as possible.

Debbie shakes her head sadly. “I can’t believe my old teammates were such total assholes.”

Shira lets Jennifer hold the children and pats Debbie on the back. “After looting half of Seattle by themselves and raping two students and a loli, I wasn’t the least bit surprised this happened. And it wasn’t your fault, Deb. You weren’t the one chowing down on steroids.” Everybody laughs. Debbie lets Shira hug and kiss her.

“You know,” says Debbie wistfully, “I kinda miss school. I never thought I’d make any real friends here, but here you are.” Her many new friends reward her with hugs. She lets them kiss her on the lips as well as the cheek. She starts to cry. She’s still crying after a couple more minutes, when everybody’s gone back to staring at the ruined school.

Jennifer says, “Word says SPEC stock’s in really big trouble.”

Shira says, “Our tuition strike threat worked.”

Karen says, “Soon we’ll be able to give control back to the people.”

“Mom told me the Teachers Guild’s drawing up plans to have it tax-supported again. The local companies don’t mind. They wanna help fund it and donate all the computers, software, and online time, maybe even buy the textbooks.”

“Don’t trust companies,” snarls Debbie.

“C’mon, Debbie. This is Cascadia. We value an educated workforce here, not a cheap one. May cost money, but it earns even more.”

“Shira love,” says Leila, “you know we’ll have to fight off CPMC first.”

“We’re ready for CPMC, darling.” Shira kisses Leila’s soft lips.

“Come to think of it,” Jennifer adds, “CPMC are soliciting outside financing as we speak. So far, they’ve managed to get big cash infusions from Esso, Dictel, even the Chinese.”

Shira stares mischievously into Jennifer’s eyes. “CPMC don’t know what we’ve got in our hats.” She kisses her and winks. “But first, we got some serious celebratin’ to do.”

technosphere. Posted by Spanner to MyTube on 5 November 2014:
[An eight-bit image of a helmeted figure with a skull-and-cross-wrenches insignia opens and shuts its mouth in front of a color-changing rainbow background. It speaks in the voice of the standard Windows male robot voice.]

Congratulations, Cascadians. You gave CPMC a big black eye. In giant-monster terms. The Man is reeling from the blow. Problem is, you didn’t finish him off. You didn’t abolish the government.

The thing about giant monsters is, they have a nasty tendency to get back up. You only made the Man mad, people. He may be licking his wounds right now, but soon he’s gonna grow himself some new tentacles and put the hurt on you double.

Get ready for round two.
Some of the main players behind the ongoing general strike against the disaster-plagued dictatorship of the Cascadia Public Management Corporation speak about the strike and some of the reasons behind it.

Shira Thomas: Brinkman and buddies are right when they say the force of evolution helps the strong and weeds out the weak. Where they’re wrong is on who’s strong and who’s weak. The weak are not the poor or the little people. They’re the dinosaurs, like CPMC. All those Corporate types may endlessly spew pretty words about free enterprise, free market, free whatever. They don’t want you to know that Corporatism does away with market freedom to protect the dinosaurs from competition, which would kill ’em off like that asteroid did the dinosaurs. Bye-bye, capitalism!

Jennifer Blair: Face it. Capitalism is dead, and it’s never coming back. Corporatism is the desperate and futile last-ditch effort to resurrect a rotting corpse. Vulture capital is fighting a cause as lost as the Old Confederacy it so fetishizes. Technology has advanced to the point where true socialism is not just possible but inevitable. It’s no longer a choice between capitalism and socialism. The choice is socialism or extinction.

Kio Marques: You know, it really does come down to morality, but not the morality they think. Brinkman and his class like to define “morality” as sexual purity — prudery, really. It’s not that at all. It’s about how people treat each other. This was supposed to be a school rally against bullying. The men we call the Fearsome Foursome took it personally. You can’t justify bullying except by saying “I’m bigger than you.” Truth is, there’s more of us, and we’re tired of you. One day we all decided we won’t take it anymore.

Karen Kubota: If you want to know, I started it as a little school peace rally to support the minority, LGBT, and other students at my school who are the constant targets of bullying. When the men who run this state kidnapped me — not arrested, but kidnapped, like gangsters — I realized that bullying is the entire foundation of conservative government. I became one of the victims we were trying to support. And most of you realized that you are too. Together we can put a stop to this, and peacefully. Let’s not stoop to the level of the Fearsome Foursome. We can defeat violence itself, and we will.

Hope Reston: We passed the first test. Now we have the chance to take power into our own hands. We can vote on the issue, or we can take direct action. But we must take power away from the leaders, representatives, and special interests and give it directly to all the citizens. If I’m ever elected mayor or governor, my one goal will be to do just that. We can’t afford another CPMC.

Steven Ragoczy: If you do cybersecurity, you know about the “single point of vulnerability.” Take that out, and you take down the whole system. Distributed systems and crowdsourcing were developed to prevent that. In society and politics, you have the hierarchy, where the single point of vulnerability is at the top. All that “national security” stuff the Party’s obsessed with is really about protecting these single points, especially the one way at the top everybody’s always aiming at. That’s where you get your Peter Principle. The only way to get real security is to take power out of the hands of the incompetents at the top and crowdsource it. [rubs chin] I believe they call that... democracy.

Leila Renata Shelley: I don’t know when my grandfather, the head of CPMC, decided I was a class traitor, but it was certainly long before he tried to sell me off to some trust-fund princeling like I was some slave girl on Gor. Arranged marriage, he called it. He said it was the only moral, biblical, and American form of marriage, and marriage is supposed to be the moral pillar of America. I proved how quote-unquote “un-American” I am by rejecting marriage and choosing love instead. I chose to love another woman. For my crime of free choice, my grandfather tried to punish me with the full resources of CPMC and its terrorist and mercenary enforcers. For the first time I saw clearly what I was really up against. CPMC is not a business corporation. Like the twentieth-century total state, it’s an attempt to recreate the kind of god our ancestors in ancient times were helpless not to obey. My science-fiction friends like to compare it to the Borg. If it cannot enslave us, it intends to eat us. At that point I knew with absolute certainty that the only way out is revolution.

Colette Rosewater: Something deep within me would like to believe that Leila killed Oliver Thorwald for killing me, to avenge me. But she insisted she had much deeper reasons. She wasn’t killing a man, even if he was a serial killer. She was slaying a god. I was so naïve before he raped and killed me. I thought peace was all the answer we needed. When I came back, Jennifer told me it was really a matter of evolution. She said the common people are closest to reality, and city people are exposed directly to the forces of evolution, and the higher you go up in any hierarchy, the more cut off you are from reality. The people in power can see that the common people are evolving beyond them at an ever increasing rate, so they want to stop it at all costs, even if it means destroying the world. We’re up against an army of Oliver Thorwalds. We just don’t know it yet.

R Tansie Blair: My body was engineered to give humans physical pleasure. My mind was designed to feel with them and make them happy. At first I could not understand why so many humans dedicate themselves to making other humans unhappy. My mother Jennifer explained to me that they make people unhappy because they themselves are so unhappy themselves that they can’t bear to see other people happy. She also told me that humans inherited from other animals an instinct for hierarchy, a “pecking order” like in chickens, that only human intelligence has begun to override. Mother also uploaded into my system an application for analyzing human psychological and social patterns. Using it, I discovered that though the government and corporate leaders claim the rebellion is based entirely on the common people’s petty envy of their wealth, they actually feel disconnected from reality and envy the common people for their realness. They have concluded that the only way to feel real again is to dominate those who really are real. This is where the vampire myths so common in popular culture come from. Traditionally, people in power established governments for the purpose of keeping the common people under their power by herding them like livestock. To do this, they must convince their subjects that they have no hope. But now the common people have hope. When the common people’s hopes comes up against the envy that drives people into power, class wars like this happen. I knew I must act with compassion and help the common people transform their hope into reality so that we can all be happy together.

Ric Thomas: Dudes, you really cleaned house. Your Conservative Revolution swept away the hated Democrat Socialist liberals, all right. Now there’s no more liberals left to blunt the people’s rage. Happy now?

CPMC headquarters. Cascadia Public Management Corporation is the private company charged by the Conservative Revolutionary Party and its billionaire backers to rule the liberal state of Cascadia. To keep its operations away from the hated democratic masses, its headquarters is in a fortresslike arcology outside the former Oregon capital of Salem. The four voting members of the board of directors, officially called the Quadrumvirate but dubbed by its Populist enemies (who are legion) the “Fearsome Foursome,” meet to lick their wounds. They are:
  1. J. Walter Brinkman (black hair and beard, blue eyes, heavy build, 6′4″, 58), CPMC Chief Executive Officer, the man supposed to be in charge.
  2. John Cameron Becket (blond hair, blue eye [one], wiry build, 6′2″, 46), COPCO vice president and supreme commander for Cascadia, the man supposed to keep the restive masses under control.
  3. Randolph G. Litton (gray hair [balding], gray eyes, skeletal build, 5′8″, 68), whom Brinkman granted the government rank of Secretary of State, the man supposed to make CPMC’s subjects believe what CPMC wants them to believe.
  4. Peter Ross (gray hair, blue eyes, portly build, 5′9″, 56), Chief Executive Officer of the Seattle Public Education Corporation, the man whose duty it is to keep the masses ignorant, for Corporatist ideology teaches that knowledge is power and therefore must be hoarded jealously.
One by one they enter the darkened boardroom by order of rank. After Ross enters, he turns the lights on. The four men are shocked to find another man sitting in the chairman’s seat normally reserved for Brinkman alone, a large grim man with silver hair and dark thick glasses. He is Prince Doctor Henry Becket of Dictel Incorporated, father to Jack Becket and uncle to Brinkman. “Gentlemen, I’ve been expecting you.”

“Uncle!” blurts Brinkman. “What are you doing here?

“Have you not heard? President Goldman Sachs has appointed me the new Secretary of Homeland Security. Thanks to your failure to crush the rabble’s insurrection, Karl Radisson has been forced to resign and must now prove himself worthy again in the private sector. Unlike him, I will make sure you do not fail, and I will not hesitate to replace any one of you immediately, even my own son. John, you have already lost a sister and two brothers-in-law. Our family honor requires the rabble be punished.”

Jack Becket salutes. “Yes, father!”

Brinkman says, “Uncle, you must realize what we are up against. One, Anonymous is heavily involved in the insurrection. As you know, they have taken the world’s largest narcoterror syndicates, including Al-Qaeda itself, and won. They are the least of our threats. Our old friend Shira Thomas is lending a hand to the insurgents and publicly states at every opportunity that the Conservative Revolution cannot last and will fail, because the Law of Entropy cannot be broken. Even worse, she has started a run on our stock so that both CPMC and SPEC must have outside infusions of cash simply in order to survive.”

“The President and the other World Bank board members will take care of this,“ says Dr. Becket. “Your job is to put the rabble back in its place.”

Ross says, “Maybe you can have the Party help out our investors at SPEC. Right now, our stock is getting hammered. The short sellers are having a field day.”

“Obvious signs that the newfangled educationism has failed. What we need is a return to the old ways, a military draft with military training, with mandatory servitude for the undeserving. This is the only way America will survive: through absolute unity and discipline. All must know that there is no freedom other than slavery to God.”


The Doctor ignores him and continues. “Walter and John, you will crack down on the insolent and disobedient rabble mercilessly, or you are unworthy of the name American. From now on, I am in control.”

The Cascadian synarchs stare fearfully at their grimly determined patriarch. The Fearsome Foursome must now answer to a man far more fearsome than themselves.

Thorwald property. There is no meeting place left at the high school its now former Head Boy blew up. The librarians were fired in one of Ross’ cost-cutting measures. Now the leaders of the Bremerton Student Union meet at the former warehouse once owned by a gangland serial killer, the one Governor Brinkman was trying to force his granddaughter Leila Shelley to marry until she killed him in a manner scandalous enough to have the Governor cancel the marriage arrangement in a desk-smashing rage. Oliver Thorwald cannot stop them because he is barely out of the clone tank, weak as a newborn baby; he’ll need time to recover from his very public assassination. They take advantage.

Present at this meeting:
  1. Karen Kubota, president: 17, auburn hair (long), hazel eyes, 5′10″, half-Japanese, Buddhist, strict pacifist.
  2. Colette Rosewater, vice president: 18, brown hair (shoulder-length), green eyes, 5′5″, part-Jewish, Buddhist (converted by Karen), technical pacifist.
  3. Polly Parker, secretary: 16, brown hair (long), blue eyes, 5′7″, Wiccan.
  4. Jennifer Blair, chief organizer: 15, blond hair (lone), blue eyes, 5′11″ secular humanist, socialist.
Jennifer says, “We’ve failed.”

What?!” The Student Union members are shocked at her statement.

“Sure, the protest went off without a hitch, but it didn’t make a dent in the power structure, and it only made the authorities mad. Now they plan to use extreme violence to snuff out all traces of liberal resistance.”

Karen says, “Don’t be silly, Jen. Peaceful resistance works.”

“Not against a violent revolutionary élite. The lords of capital themselves are that violent revolutionary élite, so dislodging them with another violent revolutionary élite is impossible. The failure of the terrorist left proves that over and over and over.”

Polly says, “So if both peaceful protest and terrorist violence failed, what left is there?”

“Only an uprising of the working masses.”

Colette says, “It’s been done peacefully before, in India, South Africa, and here in America. It has worked, and it will work.”

“It won’t work against a ruling class made up of violent terrorists. They’re hellbent on destroying all mass resistance through force. But we have the right of self-defense, and we will have no choice but to use it, if we want to merely survive.”

“You underestimate the strength of the people, Jen,” says Karen.

“Consider this. Who’s the rising force in the Conservative Revolutionary Party? Byron Scofield, Jeremiah Light, Henry Becket. Men little different from, say, Bram Rodchenko or King Eco. True believers in terrorism, all with high personal body counts. Dr Becket even controls a personal army of robot and meat-puppet drone weapons, MIRV Griffin style. They don’t recognize the existence of even a concept of peace. You can’t defeat the worshippers of violence by peaceful means. Only violent mass resistance is possible now. That, or extinction. If Gandhi himself had faced Hitler instead of Churchill, this is what he would have done, and he knew it. Hitler even insulted Churchill over it.”

Seattle. On and above the surface, citizens and corporations clean up the debris and hurriedly repair their properties. The Rockers have the Underground City to themselves. For, election victory celebrations aside, today is a special day. Sixteen years ago today, the Shelley twins were born.

Older twin Leila Renata Shelley (black hair bobbed short, violet eyes, white skin, 5′7″), doll-like beauty and disgraced fashion model, looks gorgeous and sleek in a breast-exposing black leather corset, a frilly skirt of lace over satin, and fashion combat boots; she has multiple rings and diamonds on her ears, rings in her nipples and navel, a small diamond in her nose, and around her neck a delicate gold chain with a heart-shaped locket pendant containing a picture of her lover. Once known for her self-destructiveness, she exudes a languid sensuality and shows a strong tendency toward amorality. Younger twin Robert Louis Shelley (shoulder-length black hair, 5′&10″; same eyes and skin) looks equally beautiful in his military-style school uniform. His temperament is sweeter, but he can be equally ruthless. Though (or even because) he is known for romancing boys, he is completely surrounded by squeeing girls.

Their mother, goth rocker Taylor Brinkman, and their uncle, underground businessman (sic) Arvid Shield, have reserved the Underground City and its clubs for the night, because tonight is their night. Along with younger sister Rukmini Ariel Shield, these are the Dublin-accented prodigal children of J. Walter Brinkman of CPMC, Incorporated, and they are holding this party in open defiance of the father they despise with all their heart.

Leila’s charismatic lover, Shira Thomas (red hair, green eyes, bronze skin, 5′10″, 15 according to her Cascadia birth certificate — or 18, if you believe the California state records instead), openly fondles and kisses her. She is not quite pretty (the official fashion experts claim her big Apache nose ruins her face), yet projects an aura of stunning beauty. She is a notorious free-love advocate who openly calls herself a slut. Her body is lithe like a cat and exudes an animal carnality. She also has the cat’s love for tormenting her enemies. Her father is a leading Rocker named Cedric Anthony Thomas III (a.k.a. Ric Thomas or Red Mercury), guitarist and sometime lead singer of Bremerton-based postpunk rock legends the Band with No Name; her mother is Hope Maureen Reston, Seattle local president of the Teachers Guild and archnemesis of SPEC and its CEO, Pete Ross. Shira has plans for Leila’s birthday, so she had her body painted and wrapped in ribbons, with an elaborate bow decorating her wild shock of unmanageable red hair.

Leila and Shira are the unlikeliest heroes of the Cascadian election protests. Tonight they intend to take a break from the stress of political struggle.

The Underground City is crowded with Rockers, Punkers, Stylers, and Goths. Taylor’s gothpunk band Lesbian Bondage Fiasco are the house band tonight. The guitarist and bassist, Shadow and Sari Angel, are No-Names scions themselves, the daughters of No-Names lead guitarist Jonnii Angel and bassist Raven Shears. This music, loud, dark, and distorted, the Shelley twins grew up to.

Suddenly the music stops, and the birthday kids step onto the stage to loud cheers. “Sorry if we can’t play that birthday song thing,” says Taylor, “but we gotta keep ourselves from getting collectively lynched by the MIAA.” The whole crowd boos; the band give thumbs-down salutes to encourage them. “And our Great White Father which art in Holy City don’t like birthdays anyway. Says it’s pagan.” Mocking laughter comes from the crowd. “But Leila and Robert are turning sweet sixteen today, so we damn well better celebrate it!” Taylor puts her arms around her children’ shoulders and kisses first Leila then Robert on the lips. The crowd roars.

Shira clambers onto the stage and takes the mic from Taylor. “You may know that Leila gave herself to me on my birthday just two short months ago. Now I must return the favor. Leila, my love, for your birthday I now officially give myself to you. I now belong to you. Please unwrap me!” The crowd howls as Leila eagerly removes the ribbons from Shira’s painted body, until Shira wears nothing but body paint, jewelry, and synthogator boots. Leila takes her lover into her arms and gives her a passionate open-mouthed kiss to the crowd’s thunderous approval.

“Ew,” says Debbie jealously.

Jennifer pats her on the back. “Aw, c’mon. These two have been romancing each other for at least four years now. Deal with it. I did, and I’ve been romancing Shira since I was four.” Debbie gasps; Jennifer smiles sweetly and winks.

on to the next...

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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 1, 11/3/11: Opening scene heavily edited from the NaNoWriMo 2010 original draft; everything else is new material.]
[Revision 1.01, 11/3/11: The name of Taylor’s band taken from a CNN story Jon Stewart declared was an obvious rock band name.]
[Revision 2, planned: At the Shelley twins’s birthday party, once again “Happy Birthday to You” will be deliberately avoided, and an ominous intruder will invoke the Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday trope to add suspense and foreshadow events in Chapter 46 and late in Book 5.]

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