Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 20: Stand or Fall
Part 1: The Fall of the Student Council (Final Revision)
Part 1: The Fall of the Student Council (Final Revision)
When the people begin to reason, all is lost!
Party for your right to fight!
Public Enemy World Wrestling Entertainment
Party for your right to fight!
harrison hospital. “Take her to the public hospital,” Will Becket commands, “or I shall take heads. No, I won’t be merciful enough to kill you. This is for my dead sister, so do it!”
The MedEvac helicopter swoops in to sweep Karen away. Paramedics speed her into the ER. Surgeons race to stop all internal bleeding and repair the injuries Fleer inflicted in his fatal bout of unreason.
Will orders all flags lowered to half-staff in mourning for the late Princess Eden Becket, and that her married name be erased in all official announcements and press releases. And he orders the media to report that Karen Kubota is a hero for trying to save her. When Litton tries to dissuade him, he stares him down until Litton accedes.
20 october 2014.Amanda: U.S. Navy authorities have found Admiral Alan Fleer, Armed Forces Supreme Commander for Cascadia, shot dead at his home. Until he murdered her, he was married to the sister of COPCO Section Chief John Cameron Becket and Emergency Administrator Commander William Becket, who immediately revealed his unconscionable violation of his marriage vows with a woman not his wife...UndergroundResistance.hack: Ding dong, the Dirty Warrior’s dead, and he ain’t going to Valhalla, thank Odin. Take a drink for the bad guy, then let’s get back to war.Spanner: Comrades, do not be deceived by the apparent weakness of the Fearsome Foursome. CPMC is still governor of Cascadia. COPCO is a wounded beast. The military retaliation plans are not Fleer’s but Defense Secretary Dictel Corporation’s. The System is still in place. Our strategy remains the same. For now.Admiral Currie: I’m proud to represent the proud élite of America, and I swear by Our Nation I will do what I can to advance the Revolution in this state. Thank you.Shira: Nine days left. The SPEC Chairman’s still our problem till he says otherwise. He’s still got time to stop us. We still got tons of work to do. We give up, we lose. So don’t you ever give up.Nameless Reporter: Karen Kubota is in currently in stable condition and is expected to recover...
shira’s apartment. Their dreams are vague and uneasy and take a long time to fade. Eventually a black-haired girl with violet eyes and the dark-skinned redhead she loves wake up relieved to find themselves in each other’s arms. They know at once that Karen is okay. Eyes green and violet gaze deeply into each other for a long period of eloquent silence. At last the raven-haired girl breaks the silence. “Charmian...”
“You’re gonna take her virginity, aren’t you.” Shira winks.
Kira finds her sitting up, Shira kneeling behind her, embracing her from behind and caressing her breasts, and marvels. “You two really are into each other.” Shira squeezes the girl’s breasts to make her lean her head back and moan with pleasure and replies with a wink. Kira sings, “It’s Monday, better get ready for trouble.”
The girl gives her a knowing grin. “We’d better prepare then.” She and Shira fall onto their backs, then she rolls over to kiss her lustily. Seeing them preoccupied with each other, Kira withdraws.
Hope and Kira meet the lovers at breakfast. “I heard about Admiral Fleer,” says Hope.
Shira says, “Student Council’s gonna have one hell of a backstab party.”
The girl puts her hands on Shira’s shoulder. “Bart, right?”
“And Lucy’s gonna pounce like a hungry lion. Don’t you love Mondays?”
harrison hospital. Shira and Kira set the Catholic and Americanist priests against each other so they won’t bother the cousins interrupting Karen and Colette’s Buddhist chanting to shove aside protesting nurses and throw themselves on Karen’s bed to hug, kiss, and cry over her. She sees Desiree’s young daughter, who sees her for the first time.
Karen pulls her into a hug. “You’re my long-lost cousin and you’re here! I forgot your name...”
The girl grins huge “I don’t have one.”
Karen looks at her, puzzled. “But everybody has a name.”
“I don’t,” says the girl with the violet eyes.
Saffron tilts her head and looks at her skeptically. “I thought you could only erase your last name in this state.”
“It’s all loopholes right now,” says Shira. “So what should we call our newest, littlest nameless beauty?”
The violet-eyed girl leans on the bed and strokes the new nameless girl’s hair. “You’re a blondie and a green-eyed girl and everything else you want us to call you. Call me violet eyes, raven hair, the languid one, the model, and anything else you can think of that describes me. Not just any one, but all of ’em, any one you feel like at any time, and we’ll all do the same for you, okay?”
The blond girl says, “I hear you’re a ninja too.”
Karen grins. “Oh yeah, nanashi kunoichi.”
“Are you sure you’ll be all right?”
“Of course I will. I just need to heal.” She kisses her nameless cousin, then turns to Shira, Jennifer, Connor, Courtney, and the violet-eyed girl. “I’ll be here for some time, so I’m giving responsibility to you. Can you handle it?” They answer with enthusiastic nods and thumbs-up.
black tower. When the doorman lets Admiral Reynard S. Currie in, Brinkman gets out from behind his desk to personally greet him. “Welcome to the vanguard of the Revolution, Admiral.”
Currie eagerly shakes his hand. “I’m tickled pink to be part of the élite at last.”
Jack Becket glares at him suspiciously. “Will the new guy be any more effective than the one we just lost?”
“He was totally unworthy of the great task of remaking the world in America’s image. I most definitely am up to the task.”
Brinkman slaps Currie’s back. “Now that’s the Revolutionary spirit. Please have a seat.” Once Currie sits down, Brinkman brings him a box of Honduran cigars and lights the one he picks.
“I’ve heard about the problems you’ve been having with a certain mysterious counterrevoutionary.”
Litton says, “We believe our ‘friend’ Spanner is connected with a certain young lady belonging to the cabal of short-sellers hellbent on undermining America for personal profit, name of Shira Thomas.”
Currie’s eyes go wide. Pause. “You mean she’s still alive?”
“Not only that,” says Brinkman, “she stole my granddaughter and took away her name.” He smiles when he sees Currie’s face go cold and dark with hate. He grins in triumph. “That’s why I chose you, Admiral.” He tells Litton, “He’ll be very effective indeed.”
Litton holds out one hand. “You willing to bet money on that?”
Brinkman takes a drag on his cigar and leans toward him. “Millions.”
bangor jail. The guards bring escort each of the Fleer sisters into an interrogation room to be questioned by agents as unconnected to the Beckets or Fleer as Chief Mobley can find. He finds it difficult enough he has to import interrogators from other jurisdictions.
When the frazzled sisters are finally released, their uncle Jack Becket is there, and Chief Mobley is not happy: “But boss—”Charmian: I did it to defend myself and my sisters. It was too late for our mother.Vivian: Our father was a Hero of the Nation. She should have worshipped him! She’s lying, just like her mother.Charmian: I did worship him, until I saw what horrors that evil woman Falconer lured him into.Julian: We thought the Major was our ally.Christian: Doesn’t a Revolutionary Hero have the God-given right to pursue his sovereign will?Charmian: She lured him into corruption! She turned him into her zombie, told him to murder our mother and betray his own children!Dorian: I tried to turn him back to the path of righteousness, but he refused to listen. He listened to his lover instead.Vivian: Heroes deserve other heroes! The Book of America says so!Charmian: That woman’s evil power turned Father into a monster I didn’t recognize. She destroyed a hero!Dorian: After our mother died, he was no longer our father. If God had forced me to do it, I would have done it.Julian: I couldn’t have done it. Charmian’s so much braver and stronger than I am. I couldn’t be a hero like her.Vivian: (snarls) I’ll wring that traitorous little brat’s neck myself.Charmian: I swear to God Almighty that I shall never forgive that woman for turning our father against us. She murdered him. (breaks down in tears) You have to punish her...Christian: (on the verge of tears) She’s not my sister! She stole my father from me!Lillian: (sobs) I want my mom back!
“No charges! Charmian was avenging her mother and protecting her sisters. Is there anything hard to understand about ‘I give the fucking orders here,’ Mobley?” The local chief shakes his head and slinks away.
Charmian suppresses the emotional urge to throw herself into her uncle’s arms and regains her aristocratic decorum. “Thank you, uncle.”
eightieth street. The way to Bangor High from the jail passes by Dictel Park. Shira smiles to herself because she carries insurance in her backpack. She decides to walk.
As she expected, she’s being trailed. A small phalanx of Klownz walk up behind her, catching up to her at a deliberate pace: Killen Jokerz, out to avenge the Klown klan she cancelled with TerrorVision. She waits until they get close enough.
She stops and turns to face them. They take a step forward. She flashes a wicked grin and reaches behind her into her backpack. The Klownz step back nervously.
She pulls it out. Not her Go-Yo.
A spray can.
The Klownz run away screaming.
telesphere. Litton’s mainstream-media weapon of choice this time is the gossip reporter. “Make it juicy,” he tells Amanda Currie.
Shira posts her response to her Darknet Profile, then leaks it to the MSM:ESPNBC: Rumors sweeping the streets! [video of Shira and Leila together] Self-proclaimed rebel blogger Shira Thomas has been seen with scandal-plagued model Leila Shelley. In a recent video post, she all but admits they’re sleeping together!Shira: I stole the girl.ESPNBC: Could it get any worse than that? There’s laws against that, y’know.
Shira: Hi there! It’s the Teflon Kid here. So they’re trying to turn me into a scandal? Here’s a scandal for you. How about the insane speculation in human eggs driven by the Eugenics Institute? Rumor has it that fertile young white women are actually being murdered so that greedy eugenicists can make a killing on the egg market. You know what the real scandal is? [moves closer to the camera, whispers] It’s perfectly legal.Where Litton failed, Chief Shepherd Drusilla Becket AMERICA! thinks she can succeed by releasing an official Church of America public service announcement:
I bet there’s bad guys out there who’d just love to take my girl away from me. Well, bad guys, if you think you’re faster than a speeding bullet... [takes out semiautomatic pistol, cocks it] ...you can always try. [winks]
Announcer: Fellow Americans, now is the time to come to the defense of your country. Our Nation is constantly faced with the threat of insurrection by the undeserving rabble out to get something for nothing. In their resentment of the dictatorship of the deserving, they are revolting against all basic moral principles, above all the sanctity of family marriage. They wish to be free to indulge in the animal lusts that will destroy the moral order underlying the universe.Sure enough, Shira pounces at once, laughing at her even as she posts:
The moral foundation of our Republic is in mortal danger. Remember, freedom is not free. America bless God!
Shira: There you go again, Evil Stepmother. You just had to go gay-baitin’ again. You so hate me being in love with such a gorgeous girl. Are we polluting your precious bodily fluids? Your ex tried to force [air quotes] “family marriage” on my girl. That’s why I stole her.emergency administration. Admiral Currie arrives at Will Becket's makeshift suburban headquarters with much pomp and fanfare. Will, already weary of the dominant Egos of his kinsmen, greets him with thinly disguised annoyance.
I don’t see how you think you can use our love to destroy us when you hate love so much. It distracts from your Party’s precious eugenic program, after all. Between love and eugenics, I choose love. [blows kiss at camera, winks]
The Admiral ignores Will’s impatience; his only concern is to make clear his superior position in his too-chipper way. “So the men upstairs put you in charge ’cuz you’re a Hero of the Nation, Commander? They’re only out for themselves, see, and they know nothing about how we do things in the military. You’re still a commander, see, while I’m a full admiral. That puts you below me in the chain of command, see?”
“Funny how things work, don’t they?”
“Don’t forget that even you’re a hero, you’re still under me in the chain of command. You see? That means you have to obey orders whenever I give ’em. Got it?”
“I’ll make sure to discuss that with the Owners.”
Currie steals Will’s cigar out of the ashtray and leaves smoking it. “Just don’t forget who’s in charge, okay?”
Will looks toward his assistant. The assistant asks, “Anything bothering you, Commander?”
After a long pause, he replies: “I hate Mondays.”
school lobby. The news that gym teacher Elsie Patrice has cut Admiral Currie out of her name is drowned out by the commotion surrounding the now orphaned Fleer sisters. Lucy Wilkinson reasons: Debbie is purged, and I am now Student Council vice president; Team Valiant is now an enemy faction at war with the Council, the Fleer sisters are weak, and the principals are embroiled in scandal; therefore the time to seize supreme power is now. Shira, Jennifer, Connor, and the Shelley twins try to meet their friends in the cafeteria only to be blocked in the lobby by the crowd watching smug Lucy face off with Charmian. “You’re the orphaned child of a known moral criminal now, Charmian.”
Charmian coldly glares back. “I am an Imperial Princess whose grandfather is the Father of the Revolution, and you’re not.”
“You are still unfit for the power of the Student Council President. I’m taking over now.”
“Are you? Do you really believe you can handle the Student Union on your own? After what my father did to their leader, they are not in a good mood.”
“Don’t worry your empty little head about that. The Revolution will do away with them soon enough.”
Charmian smiles. “Good for you!” The smile vanishes. “Now go prove yourself. I’m positively dying to see you fail.” She turns to leave, only to be blocked by an angry Special Friend.
Kelly McLendon bores into her love’s eyes with her angry hurt stare on the verge of tears. “Lucy told me about you and Shira, Charmian. You were supposed to be my Special Friend.”
Charmian pulls her close. “You will always be my Special Friend, Kelly.”
Kelly struggles out of her embrace. “You touched her!”
“She touched me!”
She feels a ticklish finger on her neck. Shira purrs, “Like this?”
Kelly flinches, squeaks, spins to stare Shira down. “Charmian’s my Special Friend, you succubus! Get your tentacles out of her heart!”
Shira pulls her close, holds her tight, gazes deeply into her eyes, gently strokes her hair, makes her blush bright red. Kelly babbles incoherently. The others watch in silence.
A gigantic squee erupts outside the circle: Kelly’s been ’shipped! She pulls herself away in panic and flees. “No! no! no! nooooo!”
Charmian slaps Shira’s face — Shira catches her hand, holds it tenderly against her cheek, looks in her eyes with undisguised love. Charmian stares back shocked, lips parted. Shira kisses her hand.
She pulls her hand away and runs away crying through the gauntlet of ’shippers frantically Facebooking their fics.
Lucy comes up to Shira beaming triumphantly. “I’m immune to your charms, Shira Thomas. I’m morally pure and free from social chains. That’s why I’ll win.”
With a twinkle in her eye Shira replies, “I love you too, darling.” Lucy harrumphs and flounces away.
The girl with the violet eyes leans on her shoulder. “You planning on seducing the whole Student Council?” Shira kisses her on the lips and winks. They walk together into the school, defiantly presenting themselves as a couple against a hostile world.
principal’s office. Spiekerman says, “Kubota’s gone, and still the Student Union refuses to stay properly scared.”
“That’s because they still have Shira Thomas,” Falconer replies. “As long as she remains loose, the putrid rabble will continue to run amuck and scorn our authority.”
In comes Shira, flanked protectively by Angela and Willa. Principal says, “Speak of the devil.”
Falconer glares at her with open hatred. “This is your doing, Thomas!”
Shira shoots back an ironic wide-eyed grin. “I’m to blame for what you did to Karen and Big Al? I am shocked, shocked!”
Angela warns, “You have no legal case against my client, Major.”
Spiekerman snarls, “The Party has ways of dealing with people who defy our will.”
“If you’re above the Law, Comrade,” says Shira, “then there is no law and anything goes.”
“You killed Admiral Fleer, Thomas! One of the leaders of this state, and you killed him!”
“Me, Major? You’re the one who stuck a cattle prod up his ass, right in front of his wife! Then you kidnapped my cousin and had Big Al beat her up, as if that could suppress the facts. Result is, Big Al’s dead, leaving his beautiful daughters orphans, and it’s all your fault... Honey Bunny.” Falconer seethes with helpless rage.
Principal says smugly, “We know about your lesbian affair, Miss Thomas. Your immorality will be the end of you for certain.”
“What about you? Adultery, drugs, murder? Everybody knows Honey Bunny’s over. But what about the rest of you? What are you doing with Honey’s drugs, Coach? Might it be why your football team’s dead?”
Mobley gasps in rage. “You stole my paddle!”
“The one you like to use on cheerleaders and Honey Bunny? My lesbian lover thanks you. Speaking of which: Comrade Spiekerman, what on earth were you doing with Bernkastel that day? Was Eri-san murderously jealous of you?” Spiekerman stares at her in horror as the others stare at him. “Embezzlement, Robson? Entitlement mentality much?”
“You traitorous bitch!” blurts Robson, “you were spying on me!”
Shira taps her phone. “And what wonders I saw through Honey Bunny’s spycams, in such magnificent denominations. My mama always said union brass were never to be trusted, and sure enough. Benson, you’re lucky you’re a nothing. So try it on me and it’s bound to bite back. And if anything happens to me or Karen, I want you to know I shared [Angela winks]. Capiche?”
Willa adds, “It’s these kinds of things that’ll bring down your Revolution. Not us, but you, right in the foot.”
“Remember, you’re still just lion food.” Shira winks wickedly. The principals stare at her in anger and terror confused; but they look at Willa, then at Angela, and realize they’re helpless. She tugs on Angela’s and Willa’s sleeves. “We’ve done our good deed and my girlfriend’s waiting.” She leaves; they stare at the principals with ironic smiles, then follow her out. She peeks back in to wave, and then she’s gone.
Principal Principal giggles nervously. The strains of Spanner’s “You Are Dead” remake waft in from the adscreens.
hallway. Almost as soon as Shira, Jennifer, Debbie, and the girl with the violet eyes return to their lockers, they are accosted by a crowd of students. Mimi grabs Shira’s arm. “Are you really blackmailing the principals?”
“Gotta keep ’em in line,” Shira replies, “especially considering how deep Falconer sunk her tentacles in everybody else’s business. Lotta people died for her Ego, y’know.”
Polly asks, “So why hasn’t she been destroyed yet?”
“They’d be committing suicide. Remember: tentacles.”
Akane asks, “Did she really hire Bernkastel?”
“The chairman did that...” She leans to his ear and lowers her voice. “But I bet she showed Eri-obasan what he did to Spiekerman.”
His jaw drops to the floor. Excited students scatter and spread the news. Mimi asks one last question: “Shira, did you really steal Coach Mobley’s paddle?”
It’s the nameless girl who nods enthusiastically. Mimi, Trishie, and Ruthie all blush. Shira winks.
principal’s office. They gather in the meeting room behind the front office: Principal, Robson, Benson, Spiekerman, and Mobley, all staring silently at Falconer. She glares back defiantly at the ever-smirking Principal. He says, “Sorry, Major, but the news sources agree that our Student Council President killed her own father because of you.”
“Murder’s a crime!” she yells. “She doesn’t deserve to be Student Council President!”
“Major, she’s still an Imperial Princess,” says Spiekerman nervously, “and we’re in no better position than she is.”
“’Cuz Reston’s daughter’s onto us? Are you a bunch of quiche-eating surrender monkeys, or are you Men?”
“You see who she was with, Major?” says Mobley. “None of us is above the Law!”
“Cowards! I follow only the Law of Freedom!”
“You might just have to pursue your freedom someplace else,” Principal says.
“Some Revolutionaries you are,” Falconer hisses. “Stop being such girls.”
Her scorn only intensifies Principal’s disdain. He says in his most patronizing tone, “We’ll see what the CEO thinks about that.” His smirk disappears: a bad sign. “If you survive that long. Whatever you may think, making enemies of the Imperial House is nothing else but suicide. Now go home and think on that.” The smirk returns.
Shock mixes with rage. She trembles with the urge to kill these men. She successfully suppresses the urge and hurries out the door, slamming it on her way out.
Robson sighs in frustration, capturing the others’ attention. “So our Student Council President’s a patricide, our Vice Principal’s a Typhoid Mary of scandal, and Reston’s daughter is here. We can’t afford this kind of chaos.”
“Creative Destruction is the spirit of our Revolution, Mr. Robson,” says Spiekerman. “Are you second-guessing our Revolution?”
“The IPO is our Revolution, Comrade. Do you want it to be a penny-stock catastrophe? Just keep the door wide open and Reston’ll walk right in with reinforcements. You might as well be short-selling this company like her kid is. We’re trying to create the free-market future. Are you afraid of it?”
Robson and Spiekerman stare each other down. Principal begins to sweat.
homeroom office. Charmian, Dorian, and Julian hold each other tight and cry together. “They’re sure taking it hard,” the girl with the violet eyes says.
Shira replies, “You would too if you were in their situation.”
“I was in that situation,” says Jennifer. “They don’t need our help. Let’s talk about Karen.”
Debbie looks at her suspiciously. “When was that?”
“When I was Lillian’s age. I took it even harder. And remember, you just lost an aunt.”
Charmian spots Shira. She leaves her sisters’ embrace to confront her. Shira sweeps her into her arms and holds her tight. She breaks down and cries again. Dorian, Julian, and Debbie sigh in relief. She asks, “How’s Karen?”
Shira smiles. “She’s doing great, considering. How’s Lady?”
“Still weak... Shira...”
“I love you, Charmian.” Shira kisses her on the cheek; she blushes deeply and holds her tighter.
Their mutual cousins Courtney and Schuyler come in; Shira lets them take Charmian from her arms. Soon they’re all clumped together in a group hug that Sylvia soon joins.
Suddenly the fire alarm goes off...
cafeteria. The terror alert leads them to — the Killen Jokerz? Shira laughs. Brandi asks scornfully, “Did Falconer bring them too?”
“Well, if she sent the TerrorVision crew against me...”
“You done kilt our homies on that fuckin’ show, bitch!” yells the gang’s leader, Bobbzilla. “Y’all ain’t fuckin’ gettin’ away with that fuckin’ shit! We gonna get revenge!”
“You and what army, Boob?”
Behind her, around her, the Jokerz see all of Team Bremelo assembled and ready to dress down, and around them a growing crowd of angry students willing to use any weapon against the Klownz. The Jokerz back away slowly, then run out of the school as fast as they can to return to Dictel Park.
As soon as the Klownz are gone, the students crowd the door to the principal’s office and demand Falconer’s immediate resignation.
student council room. The divided Student Council meets for the last time. For the last time, Charmian Fleer opens the meeting as council president. “Next time we meet, there will be a different council. For all we know, not a single one of us will make it onto the next council.”
Debbie interrupts. “Except Lucy and Christie, of course.”
Lucy says, “From now on, I am Student Council president.”
“No!” yells Kelly. “I’m president!”
“You idiots,” says Christian, “the Council presidency belongs to me.”
Charmian bangs her gavel. “Stop it!” The others fall silent. She grits her teeth. “If we keep squabbling over who’s the next president, the Student Union will have their election and we’ll be answering to Karen Kubota.”
“No!” Bart bursts in suddenly, flanked by giggling goons Rex and Beck. “There’s no more Student Council! From now on, the Head Boy rules alone!”
Charmian narrows her eyes and glares at him contemptuously. “Well?”
“From now on, I rule as dictator! My word is law! Disobedience is death!”
She stands up. “You and what gang?”
“Evil woman! You murdered your father and betrayed your duty to me!” Terrified for her Special Friend, Kelly takes a protective position nearby.
“You left the Council,” Charmian says coldly, “which means you must be our enemy.”
“Bart!” calls Christian from behind him. “She’s not right for you. You deserve me. Leave her, and come with me.”
Charmian’s jaw drops in shock at her sister’s treachery. Kelly tugs gently at her uniform. “She’s right, Charmian. Let’s get away from those two.”
Her smile contains more cold contempt than any sneer. “Half your team is dead from steroids, the Vice Principal’s about to get purged, and Shira’s luring you into a Challenge you can’t win. If you take over, then it’s over. She wins, we lose. If you’re so eager to take the blame, then do so. I’ll be back to pick up the pieces. Goodbye, Bart. Lucy?” She turns her back to him and leaves. Most of the other remaining girls on the Council follow her out, leaving only Lucy and Christie.
Bart scowls at Christian. She smiles triumphantly back at him. “Come, Bart. We have a Student Council to rebuild.” She holds out her hand. Instead of shaking it, he throws a punch at her; she dodges it and steps back. “Ingrate.” She leaves with Lucy, who shoots a parting glare at him like a curse.
He immediately starts planning his attack on the Student Union.
gymnasium. The Student Union choose the old gym to meet because they can sit in a circle on the flat floor. Shira opens with a speech. “Karen says she wants me, Jen, Connor, and Courtney to take over for her. I say we use my mother’s strategy for the Guild instead and share power equally among all members. We can’t rely on leaders if they present the dreaded ‘single point of vulnerability’ letting terrorists and black-hat hackers take down the whole thing with a one-punch knockout.
“Yes, that’s why the Guild automatically takes dues out of teachers’ paychecks, so they can’t hold ’em back. SPEC can’t do that to our tuition. As consumers, we can demand our money back. We can stop being victims and withdraw our sanction. Mom reminds me, the teachers depend on us.” As soon as she finishes, Charmian comes in with her loyal sisters, Debbie, Kelly, and the Brinkman siblings to interrupt. Shira waves. “Hi, Charms! Let ’em through.” They brave a bitter wave of ordinary students’ resentment as they walk to the center of the circle to join Shira.
Charmian takes the position in front of Shira and crosses her arms. “Why are you doing this, Shira? Don’t you know the Party cannot tolerate insubordination?” A hateful hiss emanates from the circle.
Shira just smiles at her sadly. “You’re defending an already failing revolution-from-above based on panic and an attempt to stop the rate of profit from spiralling ever more rapidly toward zero? Don’t you see it collapsing right before your eyes? The Student Council’s gone, SPEC’s going bankrupt, CPMC’s flailing, and all the Party can think of to keep profit possible is faith and terror. It’s all just a massive act of denial.” She shrugs. “It was over even before it began.”
“They don’t know that.”
“That’s the problem.”
“Don’t get it in your pretty head that you can lead a bunch of nobodies and survive. Look at what happened to Colette and Karen.”
“I do, so I’m not leading.”
“I’m implementing the new plan. We need networkers, not leaders. Instead of ‘the single point of vulnerability,’ we need ‘the wisdom of crowds.’ It’s basic human psychology, basic statistics, and a principle of cybersecurity every hacker must memorize. Out of failure, something that can survive even the Zombie Apocalypse.”
“Besides,” Courtney adds, “you’re no longer in a position of power. We are.” She’s answered by a chorus of cheers and “hell yeahs.”
Charmian glares at Courtney. “You too, cousin?”
“As my cousins on the other side like to say, ‘it stands to reason.’”
Kelly sneers, “Should we call in the guards to break it up?”
Shira interrupts Charmian. “It’s already too late.”
“What about the cops?” says Julian in near-panic.
“Cops are easily blackmailed, Julie. Just look at my collection of realistic fake badges.” Approving howls from the circle, shocked stares from the councillors.
Charmian lets a small smile emerge on her lips. “You seem confident of yourself. Are you willing to bet money?”
“More than that.”
“Price no object.” She grins. “And what will you demand if you win?”
Shira returns her a wicked smile. “You.”
Charmian’s smile disappears. She blushes deep red as all eyes turn to her.
school lobby. Spanner and the Monkeywrench Gang being no longer relevant after Falconer’s hasty departure, Shira has Steve and Sana change the adscreen programming. Her typically clever name for the new show: “Bart’s Greatest Hits.” In it he:
And other glorious moments in the fighting career of Bangor High’s Tournament Leader and Head Boy, brought to you by Team Bremelo, whose creepy logo haunts the screens.breaks the neck of an opposing quarterback and nearly paralyzes him; his adoring bettors save him from prosecution, which he rewards by making them squee with the proud declaration, “I eat quarterbacks for breakfast!”slaps Charmian, screams at her, humilates her in front of everybody including her own parentshelps those homicidal weasels Ron and Don murder his own playersruns away screaming from Rebel Styles after she nearly annihilates his father’s factiontries to rape Steve Clare only to evade a Challenge from Shira by fobbing it off onto Team Valianttries to rape Leila Shelley (now known simply as the girl with the violet eyes) only to be rewarded with a vicious kick to the grointries to rape Rob Shelley only to run away from a humiliating beating as Rob laughs
Brought here by relentless rumors, Bart runs to see. He spins to watch the exhibition of his worst atrocities on every monitor. With a blood-curdling scream he freaks out in front of the growing crowd of onlookers; with his bare hands and a feral roar he smashes all the monitors into bloody shards.
student council room. Two Student Councils now, mortal enemies segregated by gender and coinciding with two fight clubs once allies: Team Valiant and Pretty Team. Lucy Wilkinson and Barton Green agree on only one thing: to purge Charmian Fleer and her allies from the Council. They intend to purge each other. They stare each other down as the Principal arrives with the athletic department’s cap gun. He fires it to startle them into attention and clears his throat. “What is this nonsense?”
“We’re choosing a new Student Council,” says Lucy.
“No we ain’t,” Bart replies, “it’s already been chosen.”
“We’re not giving it to a gang of steroid-mad terrorists.”
“Well, we ain’t gonna let a buncha girls steal what the Revolution promised only to Men.”
“What you’re witnessing,” declares Charmian walking in with Debbie, Julian, Rachel, and Bob, “is the collapse of the Council right before your eyes, just like, of all people, Shira Thomas said.”
“Nonsense! I’m in control! Jesus America hisself’s on my side!”
“Not for long, boy,” Lucy sneers. “I trust you to destroy yourselves quickly. If we’re lucky, we’ll even watch you explode like those gangsters in the arena. Then I shall take over and rebuild the Council that you, Charmian, helped destroy.”
“I?” gasps Charmian.
“You brought it to this sorry state. Only I can put back together what you broke.”
Everybody stares at Charmian. She crosses her arms. She surveys the factions competing to control the shattered Council, including her own. She chuckles. “Very well. Now that we have all purged each other, I say the Student Council is for all intents and purposes dissolved. Nice knowing you all.” She flounces out for the last time. All the others stare at her in shock as she leaves.
hallway. Shira, Jennifer, and the girl with the violet eyes put away their books when Charmian arrives in a huff, Debbie scampering after. Sensing impending drama, a crowd starts to gather around them. She gets very close to Shira and stares into her eyes with a hurt and angry look. “Did you know there’s no more Student Council anymore? It just fell apart, exactly like you said. Are you happy now, Shira? Are you satisfied?”
The nameless girl leans on her shoulder and purrs, “Well, I say that as much effort as you put into terrorizing the student body, it was inevitable you’d turn against each other.”
Jennifer pulls down her glasses to peer over them. “I saw it coming from the very beginning.”
“It was only political pressure from above that kept you all from clawing each other to shreds. When that pressure collapsed, you know what happened.”
Shira pulls Charmian close. “Aw, c’mon, guys, she just lost her parents and her position of power.”
Charmian pushes herself away, shakes her head violently, and screams, “Stop it! Please stop!”
“It’s okay, Charms.”
“No. it’s. not!” She slaps Shira. “I hate you, Shira Thomas.”
Shira smiles. “I never hated you.”
“I hate you,” shrieks Charmian, “because I love you!”
Shira pulls Charmian into her arms. Charmian gives up, lets herself cry, her body shuddering with grief. The crowd emits gasps, squees, gossip, and students running to tell their friends. The nameless girl asks, “Did you see that coming too, Jen?”
“The moment she got on our bus on day one.”
cafeteria. A crowd forms around them. Gossip spreads like wildfire. Girls squee and faint and ’ship like mad.
Rob Shelley and Connor Blair are kissing like lovers in front of everybody.
The instant Bart sees him, he screams.
By tradition, a Tournament Leader never issues his own Challenge. Usually he chooses which Challenges to accept from among the many assaulting him, to weed out the frivolous and prove his superiority to the legitimate.
By principle the Party rejects love in order to protect the pure manliness and holy dominion of the chosen race. Love leads to liaisons with eugenic defectives. Love murdered the Fleers and lured Major Falconer into crime and depravity. Love led Shira Thomas to war against the Revolution. And now Barton Green witnesses his worst enemy committing the supreme moral atrocitity right before his eyes.
“Robert Shelley, I Challenge you!”
Behind him, Shira Thomas declares, “Team Bremelo accept!”
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Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 3/24/13: Double-length installment condensed from 20.1-4 R2 and containing scenes from Chapters 18 and 21 R2.]