Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 1: Spanner in the Works
Part 3: Escape to New York (Revision 4)
Part 3: Escape to New York (Revision 4)
telesphere. Reporting for ESPNBC News: Amanda Currie, your bright-eyed companion in the morning. Very attractive, some say cute, her cutely bobbed hair bleached blond because all Conservative beauties are blond by definition. Some are Resculpted into nondescript prettiness; she is a natural beauty. You want her. Once ambitious, now resigned, she cheerily chirps the Party line.
Breaking news just in! The Honorable Senator George C. Ryder has just been martyred by evil terrorists! America’s heroic Special Forces are scouring the area for the devil-worshipping liberal humanist traitors who snatched him away from service to Our Nation. Several hundred terrorist organizations from all over the world have called in to gloat over the heinous atrocity. Senator Ryder is now home in Jesus America for all eternity. America bless God!airport, los angeles. It’s business as usual in the crowded LAX terminal as Ward Tremayne, a High Shepherd of the Church of America, drags the sulky and unwilling Lucie past intimidated Homeland Security guards and fleeing civilians into the golden-crowned presence of the beautiful face and terrifying aura of Princess Drusilla Anne Becket Thomas Thorndyke Wilkinson Brinkman Draper Pernell of Dictel, Incorporated, 56, the Church’s Chief Shepherd for the state of Cascadia to the north and youngest daughter of Patriot the First, King of the Confederate States of America by divine right. She wears the rich, shimmering, exotically unworldly robes that identify her as a wealthy and corrupt New Age guru, the dollar-sign emblem of the American Remnant as a golden pendant, on her left hand a large and baroque diamond-encrusted gold wedding ring only a High Corporate as rich as Bert Pernell can afford, and on her right a signet ring bearing the coveted dragon-swallowing-its-own-tail emblem of European royalty. She was once a Cold War superheroine codenamed Livewire for her electrokinetic abilities, only to lose her codename and costume to her estranged daughter Desiree Richter-Thomas after turning guru.
In other news, the Church of America is sending a team of exorcists to New Jersey to bind and banish the Jersey Devil after several scary, scary encounters. And rumor has it that the mysterious vandal known only as Spanner plans to deface every train in the TrumpRail™ system. Back after these messages. . .
“Your Holiness should keep better control of your granddaughter,” says Tremayne, “before the child’s evil nature emerges to bring us ruin.”
Drusilla’s expression does not change. She drills her eyes into his. “Is my son-in-law dead yet?”
With smug confidence he replies, “Stenbeck is confirmed dead, Your Holiness. Our forces have destroyed the remnants of his Syndicate.”
“Now you must destroy my ex-husband’s evil family before they destroy us, especially that mudblood spawn of his.”
“Easier said than done, Your—”
She slaps him. “I hate them! I want them dead!”
“Y-yes, Your Holiness.”
She stares down at trembling Lucie. The sweet lilt in her voice only reinforces the cruelty of her words. “This latest horror you have gotten into, my little darling, should teach you the foolishness of defying my will. Right, Lucille?” Lucie stares at her in frozen terror. Drusilla narrows her eyes into something terrifying and hateful. “Right, Lucille?” Lucie nods hastily.
A soft Irish-accented female voice behind them says, “You should treat your children like human beings, Drusilla.” Ariel wears her hair up, a top hat on top of it, and a frilly black neo-Victorian dress over her bodysuit.
Drusilla spins around to glare angrily at her. “Ariel! How dare you interfere! And you shall address your great-aunt like a superior!”
“I am your superior in power,” Ariel purrs. “Rank is nothing to me. . . Drusilla.”
“I will not allow my granddaughter to grow weak and liberal—like her faithless mother!”
“Her mother has made herself as strong as her desire for revenge. You do possess a special talent for making enemies.”
Tremayne reaches for his revolver and points it at Ariel. “Silence! You shall not speak ill of the Lady!”
Ariel raises her left hand, revealing her rose signet—the force of her Repulse field knocks Tremayne back several feet so he tumbles hard to the floor. Drusilla attacks her with her own Repulse field. Everybody around the duelling women scatter away in terror of being disintegrated. Lucie seizes the opportunity to run away and vanish into the fleeing crowd.
Rukmini Ariel Shield
truth against the world
truth against the world
interrogation room. “What’s the slayer of the Evil One doing stooping to do cop work?” says Oliver Thorwald smugly to the tall blond man across the table. “I was only doing my sacred duty as an American.”
The blue-camouflaged soldier interrogating him is his onetime commander, Lieutenant Commander William Jay Becket. Even as tall and intimidating as he is, he looks too much the Aryan beauty to be a Navy SEAL. But Will Becket is a Hero of the Nation awarded both a Gold Star and a Congressional Medal of Honor for slaying the Assassin messiah Osama bin Laden. The Evil One had to be buried at sea because Will Becket drank his blood and ate his brains and heart.
For Will Becket, the legendary “Red Fang,” the man who said “Geronimo,” is a hereditary vampire. Vampires make the ideal super soldiers. He subtly shows his Dragon signet; Thorwald snorts.
His cold blue eyes fix his prey. He smiles ironically. Just to torture Thorwald, he speaks in his native accent, the strange half-English patrician manner the Beckets share only with the Kennedys. “I’d ask why a decorated Pistol Knight would turn. . . mercenary; but the answer is obvious. Your insistence on extracurricular. . . fun under my command so compromised our last SOG op in Siberia that not only does the CIA deny your existence, but the Army demoted you and removed you from the field. I believe the problem is your Corporate sense of. . . entitlement.”
Thorwald squirms. Becket’s odd speech mannerisms affect the rangy young killer like fingernails on a blackboard, and Becket knows it. Thorwald chuckles. “You mean those worthless lowlifes? That’s what we fought our Revolution to destroy.”
Becket twists the knife deeper. “I mean those. . . cops.”
“Those rent-a-cops shouldn’t have gotten between me and that baby-rapin’ filth.”
“And. . . a United States Marshal.”
“U.S. Marshal, huh? Those government parasites shoulda had the sense to butt out of internal Party affairs and let us purge our corruption.”
“I happen to be one of those. . . nosy government parasites, Lieutenant.”
“Wrong attitude, G-boy. As long as I remain a hero in the eyes of Jesus America, there ain’t nothing you can do to stop me.”
“Maybe so. Keep this up, Second Lieutenant, and you’ll get yourself drummed out of the Army. Mercenary pay is higher, to be sure, but you’ll lose your sovereign immunity.”
Thorwald’s glib mask disappears. He leans forward threateningly. “That ring, Becket. You’re Dragonite. A vampire, a superman. You’re not really this pretty little monkey body sitting here asking me stupid questions. That’s just a shell, and you know it. You and I, we’re gods, beyond putrid monkey flesh. So why are you having such a conscience over putrid monkeys? Did you forget our eternal vow, to seize our rightful dominion over the inferior species? Why such compassion for undeserving beasts? Is it because you married one?”
Becket does not lose his ironic smile nor his unblinking stare. With unperturbed calm he fires back, “You forget. . . she’s my conscience. Take away my conscience, and I shall tear you limb from limb without the slightest shred of. . . remorse.” He smiles sweetly in triumph.
A hard smile full of malice flashes onto Thorwald’s face. “You wouldn’t dare, pretty boy. I bet your pet can’t live without her master.” He pulls a large knife.
Will knocks him back with the table, crushes him against the wall, exposes his fangs, hisses. Thorwald, laughing, explodes—
In the next room, a grinning Johnson tells his interrogator, “I love kids. They make great snacks.”
airplane. The way too cute face of Harumi Tachibana hijacks the non-brand smartphone’s screen. She waves her hand. “Hi, Jen-chan!” she sings.
Shira hugs her from behind. The bespectacled blond beauty on the receiving end of the call lets out a massive sigh of relief. “I love me some Haru-chan,” says Shira, “but kawaii as she is, she can be a bit of a nuisance.” She kisses Harumi on the cheek, then shoves her out of the way.
“Iyaaa—” protests Harumi.
Jennifer Blair, tall blond beauty in round rimless eyeglasses, computer scientist too brilliant and precocious to be only fifteen, has been deeply in love with her cousin Shira since they were four. She speaks with an English-sounding North Cascadian accent she contracted growing up in Victoria when Canada still existed. “The important thing is, she’s smart. I’m keeping her. So what’s the news, cousin mine?”
“Non-news, plausibly denied. Snatch a couple wetwork specialists from the Siberian front, send ’em to whack a compromised Party hack, say it’s over some child sex slave, proclaim the victim a martyr. The Party have perfect deniability, the slashers get off scot-free, and the Wicked Witch has clean hands. Very clever. Spin op’s got the Rat Bastard’s signature all over it.”
Jennifer gives Shira one of her sudden serious looks. “It’s not about deniability.”
Shira looks at her funny. “Tell me you can’t see the obvious when it’s hitting you over the head.”
“What does the serial killer represent to the [clears throat; air quotes] ‘Real American’?”
“What’s this got to do with—”
“The ideal sovereign Ego, complete in itself, perfect in will, unfeminized by any trace of mushy human sentiment. Forget deniability, Shira. This is hero worship.”
“Johnny-Johnny was trying to eat Lucie—”
“Precisely what Ayn Rand so adored in William Hickman. ‘What is good for me is right’—like eating little girls for kicks.” Shira rolls her eyes: Here she goes again. . . Jennifer gestures in her agitation. “Now, why did that high priestess of Apollo hero-worship that most Dionysiac of malefactors, a serial killer, instead of the proper Apollonian one, a tyrant, like her disciples do? I bet she hated Stalin too personally. She was more himself than he was! That, or she got so drunk on Python’s fumes that she fell off her tripod and broke it.”
Shira sighs. “And I thought she was just the angry guru who makes mean people worship their egos.”
“I love you to pieces, Shira, but never forget for a microsecond what final girls think of serial-killer groupies. By the way, your big sister Talia’s on our flight. In fact, she’s sitting right next to me.” She points her phone camera at the dark-skinned young woman with strawberry-blond hair and hard eyes in the airliner’s next seat: Talia Espinoza, strike agent of the Socialist Revolutionary Organization.
Shira lets her eyes and mouth go wide and takes an audible deep breath. “Oh hi Tal! I just happen to be headed your way.” She flashes Talia a huge sweet smile.
The man sitting next to Talia grabs Jennifer’s phone, “We’re on a mission, Shira. Don’t interfere.” He is Adam Gabriel, Talia’s husband and comrade, a former right-wing Colombian terrorist whose love for Talia turned him left-wing.
“I have no intention of interfering with your suicide, or joining it.”
Talia demands, “Why do you keep rejecting your destiny?”
“I make my own destiny. You keep forgetting that.”
No one on the plane dares say even a word. The dead air marshals at the feet of the seven men and two women hiding their faces behind red bandannas and wielding AK-47s are example enough.
Jennifer asks Shira, “So, cousin mine, what did you do in D.C.?”
“Ollie and his closet butt-buddy tried to eat Lucie, so of course I whipped out a can of whoop-ass on ’em for the recommended daily allowance of lulz. So what are your fellow passengers up to?”
“The usual bomb-related stuff.”
Shira rolls her eyes. “Figures.”
Adam threatens, “Are you doubting the righteousness of our mission?”
“Righteousness got nothing to do with it. Terrorism’s a superhero’s game, O brother-in-law. Compared to the Beckets, you’re farm-league.”
“The Beckets are only men!”
“No vampire, no problem. Got your stakes, garlic, and UV RPGs? We’re talking supermen here. Bombs won’t kill gods.”
Talia slaps her forehead and shakes her head. “Please explain what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Gods,” says Jennifer. She holds up her right index finger like a pointer. “The person of pure faith is an evolutionary throwback. Their will is not their own, but outside them in the form of a god. The first kings were Senders, superhumans with psychic powers who made themselves living gods to their abjectly superstitious subjects. The Beckets are the Senders whose every whim is the will of God.”
Adam dramatically swipes his fist. “So if we cut off the head, the dragon’s body will die.”
“Not so fast. Kill a tyrant, guru, or true believer and you create an immortal martyr. Don’t martyr your enemy, or you’ll never be rid of him again.”
One of the fighters, Michalski, shouts, “That’s bullshit and you know it!”
“They don’t know it. They love martyrs as much as any suicide-bombing Assassin.”
“Think, guys,” says Shira. “You gotta know your enemy before you can beat him.”
Talia glares at her. “Is that why you keep daring the Crusader to kill you playing those chess games?”
Gabriel roars, “Enough of this nonsense!”
Shira frowns at him. “Your funeral, dude.” She winks at Jennifer. “Love ya, Jen!”
“We’ll meet at the appointed time. Make sure to bring me my Haru-chan! Love ya.” She blows Shira a kiss, Shira blows one back (Harumi winks and giggles cutely), and both switch off.
“Now don’t kill anybody while I’m here,” Jennifer sternly warns.
A balding Corporate passenger turned red with rage shouts, “You people think you’re such heroes. Well, I say you’re no heroes! You’re all just a filthy bunch of commie liberal nigger faggots! Jesus America will strike you dead!” A big white woman Shira introduced to Jennifer as Mike “the Dyke” Blaney, butch former member of a lesbian biker gang, grabs him by the neck one-handed, lifts him out of his seat, locks him in a two-arm choke hold, and with a mighty twist snaps his neck. The expensively business-suited corpse falls to the floor and twitches at the feet of Blaney’s lover (and, before the Revolutionary sodomy prohibition, wife), blond former Yakuza contract killer Hime “Princess Princess” Saionji.
“Except him. He’s a terrorist. I mean, was.”
“What’s wrong with terrorism?” demands Blaney.
“It’s just a euphemism for bullying. It’s conservatism with a bomb. It’s simply what Conservatives do.” She points at the Corporate corpse. “Case in point.”
“That makes us counterterrorists,” says Gabriel, “fighting fire with fire.”
“You don’t put out fires with napalm.”
He leans toward her threateningly. “Give me one reason why we shouldn’t just kill you.”
She glares back. “I’ll give you fifty-two, all of ’em dead, some still rotting on Blake Island.” Talia, alarmed, pushes him back; the other militants look at Jennifer warily.
A woman slightly older than Talia with short spiked platinum hair slips into the seat behind Jennifer and leans forward to put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m amazed at how you and Shira manage to keep the moral police at bay,” says Alex de Lacey, Jennifer’s half-sister fifteen years her senior, known to the underground as Alex Plus: New Rave DJ, clandestine hacker, underground legend. She is supposed to be in San Francisco tonight. The plane speeds toward New York, now privately owned under the name TrumpCity™. She finishes off her last slice of pizza.
“Shira has a talent for using their prejudices against them.”
“That won’t help you in New York,” says Gabriel.
“Don’t assume. We do what we do.”
“And just what are you doing?”
“Ego busting,” Jennifer explains. “One is not considered ‘American,’ quote-unquote, unless one ditches one’s conscience and builds up their ego to giant-monster size, then gives it a ritual power-up to god level.”
“Giant monsters?” says Talia. “These guys are only men.”
Jennifer rolls her eyes. “Egoists are never mere men. Corporate egos are giant monsters. They don’t call themselves ‘Titans’ so proudly for nothing.”
Talia sighs and crosses her arms. “This is insane, Jennifer. Explain.”
“Party orthodoxy defines the official seat of the soul as not the body but one’s public image, which they identify with the ka, the spirit double in Egyptian mythology. The bigger and stronger your public image, and the more control you have over it, the higher you can rise in the Party hierarchy. Any Corporate with a registered public image can routinely get away with murder and even sexcrime. Own your public image, and you have legal personhood whether you’re human, corporation, robot, or alien. But if you don’t, whoever owns your ka owns you. Even worse, if you’re one of the ‘little people’ with no public image, you’re not a person at all. It’s even crazier than it sounds.”
“That’s why we have to take back the people’s voice. Because they’re no longer able to claim it for themselves.”
“Yes, they can. They just don’t know it yet. The victims still think they’re victims. When they find out what they really are, they’ll withdraw their sanction and stop feeding the parasites, and then the System will collapse under its own weight.”
“It’s not our job to bring it down,” Alex adds. “It’s already coming down.”
Gabriel glares at them. “Don’t be so sure.” He reaches for Jennifer’s glasses.
She shoots back an angry look to make him flinch. “Don’t unless you want me to puke in your lap.”
“I can see auras. Yours is not pretty. So no.”
The airliner hits sudden turbulence. The voice of the SRO man in the cockpit says, “We’ve encountered resistance. We might not make it to Newark.”
Jennifer slides out her phone’s keyboard. “I’ll take care of that.” She starts an xterm window and runs a program from the command line. Outside the window, the drones harassing the plane start shooting each other down. The turbulence ends; the plane begins its approach to a smooth landing. She closes and pockets her phone, then gives Talia a sweet smile of triumph.
Talia asks Gabriel, “What should we do with the hostages?”
“Leave ’em,” Jennifer answers sharply. “Let ’em go.”
Gabriel waves his finger in her face. “Who made you—”
Jennifer grabs his finger. “If you don’t let these people go unharmed, the next set of passengers you hijack won’t forget. They like living, so they won’t let you live.” She smiles sweetly.
“Okay. Have it your way.” To his comrades he commands: “When we land, get off immediately and leave the passengers and crew alone. I repeat, leave them alone.”
At the airport, Gabriel orders the pilots to fly back to Philadelphia. The SRO load up a van and squeal away; Alex steals a rental Beetle and drives it toward Jersey City. “Surely those fools don’t think they can actually pull it off.”
Jennifer frowns. “Of course they do. They’re self-righteous vigilantes. They cut out their own eyes. They won’t know what hit ’em.”
see for miles
see for miles
dreamspace. The vision starts unambiguously, almost clearly: the meeting, the assembled Corporates in the arena, the figure of United Corporations Chairman Richard Becket on the platform beneath the huge screen to the thunderous unified applause of his people, preparing to welcome one of their own into the ranks of the Chosen. This man is greater than most of the Corporate aristocrats in the arena for the ceremony of Acceptance, for all Corporates know that he is no mere man: his true body is a Corporation, the first of the tech companies to join the Cartel. He shall be called. . .
But then the vision dissolves into chaos. Men die and live and die again. The arena is destroyed and reassembles into bizarre expressionist antiforms. Angels and demons cut each other to ichor-splattered ribbons overhead. A shoggoth attacks one of the dreamers, and she screams. Suddenly the shattered vision goes black—
copco new york. The alarm klaxon screams; the monitor room goes red. Doctor 56 cries out into his microphone, onto the PA: “Emergency! Precog 18C has gone mad! I repeat! Precog 18C has gone mad!” Two white-clad interns drag the screaming, writhing Precog 18C, a gaunt middle-aged woman, out of the lab and past the security monitors. The Psychic Lab erupts into chaos.
Doctor 42 slips in behind Doctor 56. Doctor 42 (civilian name: Edgar Bryce) is the head of the Psychic Detection Lab owned by COPCO’s Crime Prevention Division. Under his breath he quietly emits the un-Scientistic epithet: “Damn. . .” To the Doctors watching the security monitors in front of him: “Untank all the precogs! We can’t lose any more of them! Hurry!” He runs out of the monitor room into the Deputy Director’s office, making sure to close the door tight. He lets his eyes adjust to the darkness so he can avoid tripping over the chess pieces and table fragments scattered across the floor as he approaches the self-enclosed and all-repelling spectre in a crisp black suit that sits enthroned before him, crowned by his ever-present fedora. The dark apparition raises his head to reveal his half-hidden face and fix Doctor 42 with unblinking eyes behind thick glasses, chilling him to the bone.
C. Henry Becket, 76, former Cold War superhero codenamed Crusader, initiate of MKULTRA turned master, founded the CPD himself; today, as Secretary of Homeland Security, he commands it. He sits grimly behind the division president’s huge desk, a huge man whose aura of power intimidates even in near total darkness. The office is dark because a war wound he suffered in Vietnam ruined his eyesight and made him painfully light-sensitive. He insists on personally commanding this specific Crime Prevention operation, something he does only if he judges it crucial. This Acceptance ceremony is too important for him to leave it to anyone else, for it promises to shift the balance of power massively toward the Cartel. His gaze is fixed not on this world, but on the iron purpose that rules his every thought and action. He is the Conservative Revolution manifest in superhuman form. Doctor 42 trembles in the presence of a man so dangerous.
“She was hunting them,” Becket says.
“She did not bother to hide herself form us. In a Tracker, that is a sign of perfect confidence—or suicidal arrogance.”
“Uh. . . sir?”
“In any case, my dear sister Drusilla got her desire, that mudblood changeling of hers had her will, and we have one less potential spy for the Chinese to use against us. What do you want, Doctor 42?”
“About the precogs. . .”
“You lost another. This is not good.”
“You are right, sir.”
“They are not public men. They are nothing to us.”
“Even so, they are useful tools to us, so they must be maintained in good working order.”
“Yes, sir. That is why we fear the coming of this angel of chaos.”
Dr. Becket raises his gaze to stare directly at Doctor 42. The light reflects off his thick spectacles, hiding the hard stare of his ice-cold blue eyes. “Terrorists, like serial killers, have a signature, a fixed set of patterns,” he says darkly. “We have analyzed them with such mathematical precision that our computers are now able to predict all their moves in advance. But confronted with these persistent anomalies, we are helpless to understand them even with the mathematics of chaos. You know what this means, do you not, Doctor 42?”
Bryce trembles. “Yes.” He takes a deep breath to regain his courage. “Chaos is coming.” Even his fear of the master counterterrorist cannot mask his terror of Chaos.
“He is coming.”
Becket picks up his com receiver. To the security chief he hand-picked for this operation, he barks: “Double the guard! No, triple it!”
Agent 6 (civilian name: classified) cannot disguise his alarm. “You can’t be serious, Chief. He isn’t coming. Isn’t he?”
“He is,” Becket says grimly. “You have no choice but to stop him. He’ll ruin everything.”
“Yes sir!” The signal disconnects.
To Dr. Bryce, the Secretary warns, “Never forget, Doctor 42, that we are sacrificing our freedom to fight for the sacred freedom of Our Nation, which alone is the Light of the world. You do not want the Light snuffed out by a demon, now do you?”
“No, sir! Perish the thought.”
“You are a man of great faith. Dis-missed!”
Bryce salutes. “Yes sir!” He runs out the door and closes it.
Becket sits silently at his huge desk for a seemingly endless moment, trying to assimilate the fact that the dreaded Angel of Chaos has targetted this particular event.
“Spanner,” he finally says. Then, in an un-Corporate moment of uncontrol, he slams his mighty fist down on the desk. “Damn!”
C. Henry Becket, M.D.
fight the future
fight the future
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Copyright © 2010, 2012 Dennis Jernberg.
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[Revision 4.0, 7/5/12: Expanded and revised to fit Fourth Revision continuity.]
[Revision 4 Final, 1/9/13: descriptions of Amanda as “your bright-eyed companion in the morning” and Will as “The Red Fang” added to call forward to Chapters 12 and 15 respectively and fit the new expanded Fourth Revision continuity.]