Friday, January 11, 2013

Spanner 15.1: The Calm Before the Storm

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 15: Start the Violence
Part 1: The Calm Before the Storm (Revision 4)

5 october 2014.

The vision shifts and shimmers, but presently becomes coherent: the ingathering of the pilgrims to the heart of Babylon, the music of praise for America, the dramatic arrival of the Beckets on the platform, the bringing out of the sacrifice — suddenly it dissolves into chaos...

The spirit of King Patriot rises from the sea of Conservatives who summoned him, holding out his hands to dispell the chaos as the assembled Party cry out in unison and worship him as their sovereign

—but then the chaos assaults the vision with redoubled violence, men and gods and robots die screaming, the altar burns, the arena dissolves, reality warps and cuts like a knife — a lloigor materializes as pure entropy, then spreading darkness, till finally it takes the form of a magical girl condensing into a glowing indigo crystal—

Total chaos — alarms screaming — emergency lights flashing red — legions of burly cops struggle to wrest several writhing screaming precogs, driven irrevocably mad by visions of pure chaos, through the pandemonium and out of the Crime Prevention lab in the Seattle Public Safety Building’s basement, some of them on stretchers, two already dead. In the panic Doctor 6 hurries into Homeland Security Secretary Henry Becket’s darkened office to report. He salutes. “Mr. Secretary! We’re losing precogs at a record rate!”

Dr. Becket stares through him grimly, chilling him to the bone. “He is here. Now.”

Doctor 6 gasps in absolute horror. “Spanner?

In his top-floor control room, his son Jack, the COPCO Seattle section chief, watches the monitors with his one good eye. His robot cops chase the fleeing homeless out of Westlake Station and the sewers surrounding Westlake Plaza. With Agent Locke Holmes standing by his side, FBI Director Karl Radisson questions him in his Australian drawl, “Do you think your little robot plan will work?”

“Humans are perverse and treacherous,” the one-eyed man replies. “You can never trust ’em. Robot agents do exactly what you tell ’em to do, no more, no less.”

Holmes says, “Your father tells us he’s losing precogs at an alarming rate.”

“So the chaos angel’s here already.” Jack Becket smiles grimly. “We take the battle to him!”

Below them the Secretary stands in the center of the chaos yet remains unaffected. He closes his eyes to block out the light, shifts his focus within to shut out the sounds of chaos: he is the grandmaster, the world his chessboard; in his right hand he holds a white knight, in his left a black queen...

Hello again, America. Did you miss me? Your fear brought me back.

Your leaders are not men. They claim to be gods. They are illusions. They are no more real than the code I am made of, yet they cause damage and violence to the real world all the same. Now they are invading another great American city, rampaging through the skyscrapers like bulls in a china shop.

I am the voice that torments their minds every day. I am the manifestation of their fear and paranoia. I am the chaos within their own minds. I am entropy.

I am already here. You don’t know where, or how. Expect only what you least expect.

Peace out.

The American Crusader attacks in full costume, cape flowing — “You shall not summon the demon!”

The neon outline of Rebel Styles laughs at him. “You are the demons!”

“So many seers slain — their blood is on you!” The Crusader grows to Ultraman size, able to knock down tall buildings with a single blow—

but the neon outline woman is still there on his left! And to his right another giant woman appears, made entirely of shadow; in a whisper that shakes the universe she says: “Only an angel can slay a demon...”

The neon woman replies: “...but which is the angel, and which the demon?”

“I banish you to Hell!” With his mighty hands he grabs their necks—

but the hot red cord that connects their hearts somehow wraps itself around his neck and strangles him — Rebel Styles impales his heart with her giant monkeywrench — the woman of shadow, the prophesied one, tears the glowing violet power crystal from her silver necklace and jams it hard into his third eye—

—and Henry Becket wakes up screaming, convulsing on the floor in the crippling torture of another migraine—

Three gorgeous young women stand nude on the Smith Cove dock at Evergreen Park as the rain begins to fall. Jennifer rubs a special goop onto the trembling body of the girl with the violet eyes; Shira dries it with a portable hair dryer. “The pollution will be worse than usual in Elliott Bay,” Jennifer explains, “so I whipped this up to keep our skin from absorbing it.”

When the concoction is dry, she picks up a little pill jar and a bottle of water; each girl takes a pill and washes it down. The violet-eyed girl muses, “They really think they’re risking nothing...”

“And we’re risking everything. Are you scared?”

“Are you kidding? I live for this!”

Shira says, “To think of all those Corporates barging into Babylon to flaunt their bling and loot the city...”

The nameless girl’s violet eyes twinkle mischievously. “My love, do you have finder’s rights?”


Jennifer asks, “What’s ‘finder’s rights’?”

“A core Corporate right,” the nameless girl explains. “Basically, the sovereign right to steal.”

“Well!” Shira grins. “Maybe ‘Shira Thomas’ doesn’t, and neither does ‘Rebel Styles’; but ‘Miranda Clayton-Wilder’ sure does.”

The violet-eyed girl gasps; her jaw drops, her eyes go wide, she points: “You’re—” Shira nods gleefully and winks.

They stand side to side, arm in arm, looking in the direction of their destination. The rain slowly and steadily grows heavier. With no humans in the park to scare it off, a deer placidly munches on brush, periodically stopping to stare at them. The violet-eyed girl looks into Jennifer’s eyes and smiles. “Are you afraid to die?”

“Not in the least.” Jennifer winks.

Tears in her eyes, she pulls Jennifer close and kisses her deeply.

Jennifer blushes furiously and smiles. “What was that for?”

Her body trembling, her tears falling freely like the rain, the nameless girl holds her tight and smiles. “So that if you die, you’ll live in my heart as long as I’m still alive, and if I die, I want you to know that I love you with all my heart.”

Shira wraps them both in a tight embrace. “That mean the three of us are a couple now?”

Together they answer, “Yeah.” The girl with the violet eyes gives her red-haired lover a long sweet kiss. No one there to see them except wild animals in the park and Echelon above, temporarily placated by a bounty hunter’s license. Evergreen Park is empty, the neighbourhoods surrounding it are empty, the entire municipality of Bremerton and its suburbs are empty but for the remaining poor and homeless cowering in basements, alleyways, and construction zones, and the hyperactivity of the Naval shipyard where William Becket and his team of Sea and Air Knights in reluctant alliance have already left to run the gauntlet of the drones they despise in search of terrorist prey. The thought of Will shocks Jennifer back to herself.

Three young women sit at the end of the pier to don their dolphin-type flippers. Swim caps hide cap computers and the straps that secure the covers over their ears and the weapon holders behind them—Shira: bounty hunter’s license, Trackers Guild ID, flash-storage Companion Cube earrings, loaded Go-Yo; Jennifer: IDs, terabyte thumb drive, kubotan, Bernkastel’s knife; the nameless girl’s sheathed power crystal. Jennifer takes a deep breath and lets it out. “Anybody wants to pull out, do so now.” Her companions shake their heads. She smiles. “Good! Okay, one... two... three...” Overwhelmed with anticipation and fear, they shout together their battle cry: “Go Bremeloes!” They shove off the pier as hard as they can, dive down into the water below, reach their depth, turn to the east, and swim full speed toward the city.

They enter into the junction of waterways where Bremerton’s wide harbor, Sinclair Inlet, and the riverlike Port Washington Narrows flow into Rich Passage, directly in the city’s direction. To their left is the Manhattan-sized Corporate private city of Bainbridge Island, to their right the eastern suburbs of the county seat Port Orchard, both shores densely lined with the huge gaudy mansions of Corporates hellbent on cutting off working-class Bremerton from the city, prevented only by the Navy’s threatening presence. Turn north and you will reach Silverdale and its own harbor where neither industry nor armada will go; northward at the next junction, you will reach Poulsbo, the Keyport naval weapons station, and the tribal republics of the Suquamish and S’Klallam. But there’s nothing left there but a few Conservative vigilantes and the persecuted homeless. The mermaids must swim east. At the second junction, where Agate Passage ends and Bainbridge Island begins, the mermaids take their first great leap into the air and breathe deep.

They swim down deep, beneath the Imperial warships but avoiding the murderous sonar that sounds without cease and slays any sealife in its path without thought or care. They escape the notice of the security drones circling the Corporate mansions like killer bees waiting impatiently to strike at anything and everything just to relieve their boredom. Around them the entire Corporate city is empty, all its paying residents across the water helping the Party occupy the city; all the suburbs and exurbs of the Metropolitan City are nearly devoid of life not feral or wild, shut down except for a token force of security robots. The people of the city are not wanted there anymore: decreed by the Law, enforced by the Imperial Armed Forces, occupied by the funders and militants of the Conservative Revolution; outside the small zone of occupation, all is silence but for the reclaiming sounds of nature.

Her muscles burn, her lungs threaten to burst, but the mermaid with no name refuses to slow down; she will keep up with her better-conditioned companions no matter what. Presently a new companion joins them, a young male dolphin with a special fondness for humans, delighted that three of their most beautiful females have seen fit to join him in the sea, while they in turn are pleased to see him swim beside them. Dolphin and women dance together at full speed, touching each other gently, a flirtatious dance promising love yet melancholy with the knowledge that they must soon part. Where Rich Passage ends, where it joins the southern reach of the Salish Sea, with Blake Island in full view, the mermaids and their new dolphin friend take a mighty leap together to catch air.

Ahead of them, Puget Sound is empty of civilian boats but crawling with Navy ships and Coast Guard pursuit boats, chasing and firing at suspected malefactors trying to speed in, terrorists or gangsters, they don’t know which, their boats are the same. In the harbor, emptied of cargo ships and passenger boats, hypersensitive mines explode at the touch of curious fish and of barnacles trying to make a home. Beyond that, the city:


The skyline appears before them under the looming stormy sky. The people may be gone, but the skyscrapers’ lights are on, refracted like shimmering jewels through the raindrops and mist, dim echoes of the stars cut off from earthly view by the dark clouds. Lesser lights swarm through them like fireflies that upon closer view more resemble primitive sky creatures made of steel and silicon rather than carbon, looking down with visible eyebeams, hunting and preying through a forest of crystal-and-stone monoliths: drone helicopters, model warplanes, hovering cameras operated by the Tech Knights of COPCO, the CIA, and Lockheed Northrop Boeing Dynamics; assault helicopters and spy airplanes piloted by the Air Knights of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Dictel Corporation; hovering above them all, seeing through even the thickest clouds and hardest rain, the spy satellites that make up the all-seeing compound Eye of Echelon. Beyond the skyscraper forest, fires flicker and grow unchecked by the fire department that is no longer there. Afraid of the hazards ahead of him in the harbor, the flirtatious young dolphin regretfully parts ways with his beautiful human companions.

As the mermaids navigate carefully through the debris of explosions and through unexploded mines, slowing their pace and going deeper to avoid triggering more destruction on their way to the one boat in the empty port, a growing crowd of pilgrims, Corporates dressed expensively and gaudily blung, Patriots wrapped in the Imperial and Confederate flags, gather in the pouring rain to flood the streets with pilgrims, assembling before the platform and its altar and giant screen in the central square of the city, waiting to receive their President, their King, and the God of their Nation, waiting with utmost patience, chanting in tongues the hymns of the Nation and of protection from the great whore Babylon and her Populist daughters. Technicians build the stage suspended over the altar and prepare the instruments for the Patriot Metal Superstars as the faithful of the Nation engulf the beating heart of Babylon even knowing that once their President, King, and Party Central Committee depart, they too must return the City to its mother, the mother of demons.

The giant screen comes on. The image of the Star and Stripes appears, waving slowly and gracefully in a wind from Heaven; all the faithful hold their right arms out in salute to the Nation they worship and chant in the Unknown Tongue; their chants synchronize and converge until at last they speak in a single voice, the voice of God...

on to the next...

Back to Chapter 15 index...
Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 4 Final, 1/11/13: Based on the outline for the never produced Third Revision version. The pirate-radio yacht at the center of all previous revisions has been replaced with Shira, Leila, and Jennifer swimming together with dolphin-type flippers for the Fourth Revision and now makes its first appearance in 15.2.]

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