Tuesday, October 29, 2013

From Freedom's Sons - Chapter 11




[Here's a teaser for you.]

XI. The Carrion Crows
(Twelve years and seven months after Longview)

"How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags? What is't you do?"
- Macbeth – Act IV, Scene 1

On a warm spring day in May, with the D.C. cherry blossoms in full bloom outdoors along the Potomac and the Ellipse, the United States executive and military command team for Operation Strikeout assembled in the Situation Room in the White House for a progress briefing on how they would restore truth, justice, and the American way to the Mordor of evil that was the Northwest Republic.
No corner of the White House with the exception of the Oval Office itself starred in more movies and television shows than the Situation Room, the presidential decision center under the main floor of the West Wing. Hollywood imagines the situation room as a beehive of activity, where grim and dignified presidents command covert operations around the world. In reality, it was something of a high-tech dungeon full of scurrying rats. The main situation room had six huge flat-screen televisions mounted on the walls for secure video conferences, satellite-linked through state-of-the-art technology to generals and prime ministers around the globe. White House technologists settled on NEC plasma flat-screens for the president’s main conference room and LCD screens in the remainder of the chamber. The main room had less mahogany and more 21st century whisper wall than the private conference room, which is where today’s meeting was taking place. There were five secure video rooms and a direct, secure feed to Air Force One. In the main room, the watch officers from every branch of the service were arrayed on two tiers of curved computer terminals that could be fed both classified and unclassified data from around the country and the world. While Secret Service agents or uniformed Protective Service officers always confiscated cellular phones and two-way pagers that could serve as bugging devices, the situation room left nothing to chance. It had sensors embedded in the ceilings that could pick up cellular signals and alert the guards if anyone was attempting to transmit anything from the room.
Operation Strikeout was D-minus forty-some-odd days and counting now, and they hadn’t even decided on the final date for the attack yet. Withholding that crucial detail even from his own troops was the Commander-in-Chief’s own idea. He thought it was brilliant. He called it “tactical flexibility”; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all of the other field grade officers in the military called it moronic and indicative of how little Hunter Wallace understood about the logistic realities involved in moving huge numbers of troops and vehicles and massive amounts of materièl around out in the real world. They called it “the damned Doughboy playing soldier,” although not where the DHS’s listening devices could overhear them.
Of course, it was not unheard-of in military history to plan major operations within a loose window of a few days or even weeks, but there were way too many other loose ends, half-assed aspects, slipshod logistics and vagaries about Strikeout that bothered the brass. The generals attempted without success to explain to the president that there was a difference between flexibility and sloppiness. One Air Force three-star said, “I understand the Northmen require in their Constitution that their president be a military veteran. Now we know why.” He made that remark in the bar of the Pentagon officers’ mess after his third martini, and it was picked up on a hidden microphone. The three-star was now a lowly private waiting in a cell in Fort Belvoir for his secret military tribunal. Most likely, he wouldn’t get the needle, but a trip to a penal coalmine in Pennsylvania was probably in his future, pour encourager les autres.
This core group meeting today in the Situation Room consisted first and foremost of U.S. President Hunter Wallace himself. The Doughboy was a pallid, lumpish, middle-aged man with hair so blond as to be almost white, and eyes that were technically blue, but in reality so pale as to be nearly colorless. It was as if nature had started to make an albino, and then changed her mind.
Wallace was always nattily well-dressed in carefully tailored clothing, everything from formal tuxes to crisp and gleaming tennis whites as the occasion demanded, and his hair received a thousand-dollar coiffure every other day from a stylist employed by the White House for the sole purpose of maintaining presidential spiffiness. He could not, in all honesty, be called fat. That was a tribute to a delegated White House dietician whose sole function it was to ensure that nothing that was not green, leafy, crunchy, or all three passed his lips or was even present at his table; the White House waiters were instructed to keep sweets physically out of his reach at all times during state dinners. Of course, meat was illegal these days in America, a prohibition no more honored in the White House kitchen than anywhere else. The Jewish staff all kept personal stashes of burgers, brisket, chicken and unlawful pizza toppings in the kitchen refrigerators that they gave or sold to their fellow employees, but the word had been laid down long ago by presidential Press Secretary and minder Angela Herrin: if President Wallace got hold of so much as a single slice of pepperoni, someone’s job was out the window. Wallace underwent a strict regimen of workouts in the White House gym supervised by a personal trainer who was authorized to literally drag him out of meetings if necessary, and make sure he got in an hour a day on the treadmill and swam fifty laps in the pool minimum, thereby maintaining an acceptable photogenic minimum of lean body mass, muscle tone, and definition in his limbs.
Yet one could somehow tell by looking at him that Hunter Wallace’s body yearned achingly to go to seed. He was one of those people who’d been struggling with a weight problem all his life, and was only barely staying on top of it through grueling, frantic exercise combined with a near starvation diet of rabbit food. One got the impression that if Wallace so much as looked at a slice of cheesecake his waist size would go up an inch, and if he ever slipped up and ate a single Danish pastry or bowl of ice cream, he would blow up into a blimp and burst the buttons on his Armani suit jacket. Even so inveterate a Wallace-hater as Vinnie Skins found it difficult not to sympathize a little. After reviewing one intelligence report he commented, “That Jew bitch don’t let the poor bastard eat nothing but broccoli and carrot juice. Plus he ain’t got no balls. No wonder he’s fucked up in the head!”
The Vice President of the United States was Hugh Jenner, a lean and acerbic former Senator from Oregon in his sixties who did his daily laps and handball sessions not out of sheer necessity like the president, but because he enjoyed exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Jenner was a former insurance executive and investment banker from Portland who had considered Northwest Finance Minister Ray Ridgeway to be a business rival before the War of Independence, and who now loathed him to the point of madness. Needless to say, Jenner had spent the entire past twelve years bellowing at the top of his lungs for something along the line of Operation Strikeout in order to recover his state, as well as his 35-room mansion on Skyline Boulevard in Portland. The mansion had been destroyed by shellfire during the Battle of Portland, and the Republic had built a local clinic on the site staffed by pediatric nurses, paramedics, and nurse practitioners from the National Medical Service. Jenner’s dream ever since had been to tear down the clinic and rebuild his former home down to the last detail.
Hugh Jenner’s Northwest origins had been his ticket onto the ticket, so to speak, at the last combined convention where Democrats and Republicans had met under the auspices of One Nation Indivisible to sort out the ONI Bipartisan Unity Nomination which effectively meant the presidency, although the formality of running a November election against a few minor third and fourth party candidates and eccentric billionaire independents was always scrupulously observed. When Hunter Wallace had raised Jenner’s hand beside him at the cheering convention he had said, “Hugh, I promise you that the next time this convention meets, you will be watching it from your own living room in Portland!” This set off a brief flurry of punditory speculation from the cable news talking heads as to what exactly Wallace meant by the remark, before a few phone calls from the ONI National Committee and a few heavy-handed FBI visits caused the pundits to find other things to talk about.
The other attendees at today’s briefing were bureaucratic as opposed to electoral products of the American system of government as it had come to be. Marlon Bagwell, the Secretary of Defense who was also the Zombie Master’s patient, was a large and overweight man with a seamed boozer’s face and four decades in Congress, the federal bureaucracy, and the private sector under his well-stretched belt. He was one of those uniquely American polymaths and political chameleons who moved effortlessly between boardroom, government office and media studio. Bagwell’s face just kept popping up everywhere on screens for years until everybody knew him: a cable talk show here, a Congressional hearing there, an ambassadorship to London and an energy consortium chairmanship in Houston, a media interview on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on his recent appointment to head up the latest neo-conservative or sometimes liberal think tank in D.C. But Bagwell was not just a yes-man to the people in power: he was a fixer, an able sergeant major who, once he picked his general of the moment, could get things done for him. He was the ideal man to provide civilian oversight of the reconquest of the Northwest. He was able, efficient, and as far as anyone knew, Marlon Bagwell had never in his life entertained anything remotely resembling a political or moral principle.
White House press secretary Angela Herrin and White House chief of staff Ronald Schiff were the two acknowledged Hofjüden at the presidential court, but the situation with them was more complex than it first appeared. In theory, the chief of staff was a much more powerful office than that of press secretary, but appearances were deceiving. Of the two, the raven-haired and statuesque Angela Herrin was actually the primary contact and conduit between the U.S. government and world Jewry, in whose hands was still concentrated such massive wealth that while the loss of the state of Israel was a crushing blow to Jewish morale, in the practical sense it was little more than a blip on the Tribe’s total balance sheet. She was 35 years old, born Angela Herrnstein on a kibbutz outside Herzliya, and a lifelong Mossad agent who didn’t admit to being Jewish at all. She had a fake Episcopalian background and past life every bit as mendacious and every bit as well documented as the Zombie Master’s, except courtesy of a different crew of crack computer hackers. It was not true that it was impossible to hide or keep any secrets in Hunter Wallace’s Surveillance State; you just had to be tech-savvy and well-connected to do it.
Angela kept a low profile outside her White House press briefings; her Lincoln Town Car was armored and bomb-proofed but very discreet, and she relied on her burly Israeli-born Secret Service agent and chauffeur Motti as her lone bodyguard. Motti lived in a garret over her fortified and high-security brownstone in the discreet neighborhood of Brookland, occasionally going downstairs to the master bedroom either to sleep in the king-sized bed with his boss, or to remove other unwanted male bodies from that bed, sometimes alive and sometimes dead. Angela’s sexual tastes were straight enough, but tended even more toward the bizarre than Hunter Wallace’s.
Ronald Schiff, the paunchy and balding White House Chief of Staff, was openly Jewish down to his Yiddish accent and the knitted blue kipa on his nut. He not only provided the administration’s necessary public genuflection to the Tribe’s power, but also acted as more or less a decoy to turn attention away from Angela Herrin, who so far as most people knew was the Barbie Doll spokesperson for the administration wielding only the power and influence of a press secretary, and supposedly was nowhere near the decision-making process. They all hoped (in vain) that this arrangement was able to fool foreign intelligence agencies, especially the Northwest War Prevention Bureau.
Schiff was aware of the fact that part of his function was to draw hostile fire away from Angela in the sense of media attention and Congressional political scrutiny as well as bullets and explosives, and it made him paranoid. He always traveled with an entourage of Secret Service bodyguards second only to the president’s, and he resented Angela mightily for the inconvenience. In public Schiff was cool, calm, witty and supercilious, earning himself the media nickname of the “Iron Chancellor” in a fawning Bismarckian reference. In reality he never quite pulled it off; he actually came across as a little ridiculous. Schiff tried to be Henry Kissinger but only made it as far as Jackie Mason. In private, he was a bundle of nerves and neuroses, apprehensive about maintaining his position, and terrified of Muslim and Northwest assassins under his bed. The Zombie Master had been carefully angling and trying to get Schiff onto his couch as a patient for some years, but without any luck. Schiff’s own father had been a psychiatrist, and so Schiff hated the breed. He preferred to spill his guts to $50,000-per-night hookers in expensive hotel rooms. A number of these sessions the WPB station had been able to bug in advance, thanks to Betsy’s contacts among the capitol’s high-end professional women. It had been from one such late night intíme that the Circus had first heard the name Operation Strikeout, and realized its significance.
Admiral Hector Brava, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was a lean and sour-faced Annapolis graduate with a salt and pepper moustache. A white man with a Hispanic name, he had traded on it to get into Annapolis and to some degree in order to gain promotion during his early years. It bothered and shamed him that he had done so, because unlike many people at the top of the American shitheap, Brava was actually half-way competent, both as a sailor and as a military tactician. Significantly, he was the only member of the inner circle besides the Oregonian, Vice President Jenner, who had any reservations about Operation Strikeout. Not about the actual idea of invading the Republic itself, but concerns about the increasingly slipshod way in which it was being done.
The same could not be said of Secretary of State David “Gator” Modlin. Modlin was a pipsqueak, a little man with watery eyes, a weak chin, and football moustache comprising eleven hairs on each side. He had never actually served in the military himself. No one quite knew how such an ineffectual individual had ever gained the nickname of “Gator.” In fact, Modlin had bestowed it on himself, and regularly paid media people under the counter to use it. He was a total political timeserver who had slithered his way to the top, because he had never found a single moneyed and politically powerful ass so rotten or so odoriferous that he would not apply his lips to it. Modlin bullied and hectored his subordinates, firing and transferring them for no reason other than the fact that they irritated him in some way, while at the same time he groveled to the president and anyone who might be in a position to hurt or help him.
Secretary of Northwest Recovery Janet Chalupiak was a six-foot-two, 280-pound lesbian with a face like a buffalo, and burning eyes, which gave away the fact that she was very nearly insane. In her youth, before the War of Independence, she had been a student at the University of Montana. There she and the late Linda Barnard, not yet a full professor, had conducted a lengthy liaison. The two of them had scratched each other’s backs by each filing sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuits against White male faculty members whom the other viewed as standing in their way. Both men were stripped of tenure and their lives and careers ruined, and one of them committed suicide when his wife left him. Linda moved up and got the dead man’s tenure. Janet received a poke full of cash from the university’s settlement, a brilliant academic record and a job recommendation to the Justice Department that got the lesbian lass the hell out of Red Lodge, and she had never looked back.
The whole experience had been deliciously empowering, and when Janet heard in the months after Longview that Linda had been hanged by Force 101, it sent her into a frenzy of hatred and lust for revenge against everything in the world that was white, male, heterosexual and thereby evil. It was Janet Chalupiak who had begun a program of selected assassinations within the Northwest Republic several years before. ONR agents had conducted a short campaign of shooting, sniping, and car-bomb attacks in the name of a non-existent group called “Northwest Rainbow,” allegedly seeking reunification with the United States. Several county sheriffs, judges, and Party officials had been murdered as well as some of their family members. BOSS and the Civil Guard’s CID quickly tracked down and eliminated the terrorists, with the help of an enraged and alert populace who left the ONR ops no place to run or hide. Then it was the Republic’s turn. ONR’s excursion into assassination provoked such severe retaliation from Olympia, including a car bomb that killed a Commerce Secretary and Janet’s own deputy director, who had been found garroted in her home, that she had been ordered by the president and the rest of the cabinet to stop before things got out of hand. Now nursing a sense of grievance against the administration she felt had failed to have her back in her personal vendetta against the Northwest Republic, Janet Chalupiak was the most impassioned backer of Operation Strikeout.
Rounding off the team was the obligatory Strong Black Woman, one specimen of whom had become a traditional feature of every administration since Condoleezza Rice. It was customary to give each “Condi” a big office in the West Wing and pile her desk up with huge stacks of reports on iron ore production in Outer Mongolia, or Pentagon war game scenarios involving an Italian blockade of the Faroe Islands, so forth and so on. Usually the SBW would spend a few weeks trying to wade through it all and pretending that she had a clue, then she would get the message and leave her office and the mountain of crap on her desk gathering dust, while she hit the talk shows and cocktail parties, the state dinners and photo-op circuit for the rest of the administration, Meanwhile the faceless white drudges in the pastel shirts and ties who actually had some idea of what they were doing handled all the actual policy wonk stuff.
But Kanesha Knight had seen Foxy Brown over 30 times as a little girl, so she wanted to be a spy. In exchange for keeping the Black Congressional Congress in line for ONI for some years, when her turn came to be Condi she demanded and got the job of director of the CIA. Always overrated as an intelligence agency from the very time of its equally overrated OSS origins, the once famed Company had by now been almost entirely supplanted in the foreign humintel field by other agencies or what were euphemistically known as “subcontracting non-governmental organizations,” i.e. mercenaries who were paid piecework rates for hard results and who were therefore incentivized to do some actual spying and get the real scoop. The CIA did nothing much anymore these days except collate these mercenaries’ data and perform satellite photo analysis; the actual heavy lifting of spying on the Northwest Republic was done by the Office of Northwest Recovery, some military analysts, some NGOs and also by a few free agents, some of them kooky Christian Zionist “volunteers” who actually served something of a purpose, since they wasted more of BOSS’s time than all the other actual spying combined.
So Kanesha had been given the CIA, providing a standard affirmative action two-fer, black skin and tits, and thus the ritual proof of Hunter Wallace’s love of diversity and the Gorgeous Mosaic. At first, she had done little harm, but then Kanesha accidentally found out about Operation Strikeout and the command conferences and she wanted in, having a vague notion that invading somewhere was something the CIA needed to be involved in. She threatened to file a sexual and racial discrimination lawsuit against the administration if she were not included in the strategy meetings.
This forced the administration to a hasty decision as to whether to admit Kanesha to the Situation Room and risk her blabbing off at the bubble lips, or have her assassinated in order to make sure the secrecy of Strikeout was not compromised. After some nattering with Angela Herrin, Ronald Schiff, and Janet Chalupiak, Hunter Wallace decided to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. He would include Kanesha in the planning phase, and give her some make-work to do. He would go behind her back and retain some properly instructed and remunerated CIA personnel over at Langley to keep an eye on her and make sure she didn’t totally blow the gaff on Operation Strikeout. Then about three weeks before the invasion, Wallace would have Kanesha whacked by the special duty detail of Secret Servicemen that American presidents traditionally used for such janitorial work since the Vince Foster episode back in the 90s. Wallace’s hit squad was headed by his own personal bodyguard, the formidable former Detroit linebacker, Jimbo Hadding. Kanesha’s assassination would of course be laid to the door of the dreaded WPB as part of the ongoing low-level grab-assing between the two nations’ agencies that had recently escalated, thanks to Janet Chalupiak. Her death would become the official excuse for the very invasion itself.
So the rest of the inner Strikeout circle, who were all in on the secret of her coming demise, put up with Kanesha Knight’s presence at the meetings, dressed to the nines and reeking of the perfume she apparently sloshed over her body by the quart. They listened to her endless babble on a variety of topics of which she had no understanding at all, secure in the knowledge that they wouldn’t have to put up with her for too much longer.
It was difficult for them to refrain from laughing, though, when she went on about the aliens. About a year before, some humorist in the WPB’s black ops branch in Olympia had worked up a project wherein the CIA was carefully fed a line of disinformation through foreign sources regarding Project Bluelight, Doctor Joseph Cord’s plasma anti-aircraft weapon, which was then just going into the prototype stage. The Circus knew that the CIA knew about the project, they just weren’t sure what it was. The disinformation was to the effect that after Longview the NDF had captured a secret U.S. government installation in Wyoming which housed remains of wrecked UFOs and laboratories where scientists were trying to reverse engineer the extraterrestrial technology, and that the plasma weapons were the result of this technology. The wicked white scientists had of course defected to the Republic, recycling the old Operation Paperclip liberal narrative, and they had now possibly succeeded in putting the horrible Nazi regime in Olympia into contact with the aliens who had originally visited earth in the UFOs. Therefore, it would not be a good idea for the United States to attack the Northwest Republic, because a flying saucer might appear over the White House and blow it up.
The WPB’s analyst had intended for this rumor to be a “glow-worm,” in intelligence parlance a deliberately created canard or red herring serving two purposes, to sow confusion and misdirection, and also to track and see where it went, how far and how fast, and where it eventually turned up. But Kanesha Knight had been reading supermarket tabloids since she was a child, she was an absolute believer in UFOs, and she was now expending a good deal of the resources of the CIA on trying to identify where the secret base with the alien technology had been and what it might have contained. The CIA analysts she had assigned to the job quickly figured out that the boss had been gulled by the WPB, but since no one dared to tell her and risk loss of career, they spent their days in their cubicles playing computer games or day-trading on the stock market, and writing up bogus reports based on internet UFO web sites.
“Can we at least set the date, Mister President?” asked Admiral Brava. “I vote for June 21st, the longest day of the year. We might as well give our boys the maximum amount of daylight to fight by.”
“Joshua prayed to the Lord and stopped the sun in the sky, so the Children of Israel could keep on fighting,” said Kanesha Knight, her exquisite enunciation reflecting the common negroid misconception that pronouncing clearly was the same as speaking intelligently.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, could you refresh my memory? What army group is Joshua commanding again?” asked Vice President Jenner politely.
“I’m holding off on that until the last minute,” said President Wallace with gravity. “No one can betray what even I don’t know.” While this was clearly true, Wallace made it sound profound. From his early days as a Cognitive Dissonance blogger, Hunter Wallace had mastered the art of speaking and writing deeply, profoundly, and impressively, while saying nothing. He could and often did write a two-thousand word article or make an hour-long speech that imparted not one single idea or piece of information, and yet he made it sound so good that it was hours before his audience realized they’d been stroked, and many of them never did—enough to keep voting him into office, at any rate. It was his greatest asset, one that every politician in a democracy must hone to razor sharpness: the art of baffling with bullshit where he could not dazzle with brilliance.
“Can we assume June 21st as a ballpark date, Mister President?” persisted Brava wearily. “A guesstimate? A definite maybe?”
“Perhaps,” said Hunter Wallace with an enigmatic smile. Brava gave up; they’d had this discussion many times before and by now it was almost routine, like the opening gambit of a chess match. The point of the running game for Brava, Jenner, and Chalupiak was to pry as much information and possibly even a decision or two out of President Wallace without landing themselves too deeply in the excremental matter. The trick was to offer him credible deniability so that if anything Wallace “suggested” went wrong, it would be officially someone else’s idea. The problem was that electronic audio-visual minutes were being kept off the videocam at one end of the table, and it was a lot harder to wiggle out of something once it is recorded for all time as having been spoken, than it was back in the days of simple written minutes.
Now Jenner gave Brava a subtle nod. “Mister President,” said Brava, “I would like to re-visit the question of a fourth front along the northern part of the I-Five corridor. There is still time to transfer at least two strategic bomber wings to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, and send at least ten mechanized brigades and six or seven infantry brigades to Fort Greely and Fort Wainwright. The troops can then move quietly down to the border so they can launch a co-ordinated fourth prong down through British Columbia and over into the Repub—I mean, the racist entity, at Bellingham. Then they drive right on to Seattle and Olympia. It will be midsummer, and the weather in Alaska will be perfect for a move like that. The Canadian government has already given its permission for us to use their territory as a springboard for the invasion. What could be the problem with getting them on board for an additional maneuver like this?”
“Well, let’s go over it again, since apparently you weren’t listening the first four or five times,” said Wallace irritably. “You’re a military man, Admiral Brava, and presumably you know how to read a map. I suggest you look at one of the Puget Sound area, where you will notice something interesting. The city of Vancouver, Canada, is practically right on top of enemy territory, as North American distances go. A man with an especially powerful bladder and a good wind behind him can piss in Seattle and hit downtown Vancouver. It is so close that the Nazi intelligence school on Whidbey Island occasionally takes trainees out on live infiltration exercises to Victoria and Vancouver, much to the disgust of those clowns at CSIS and the RCMP, who have yet to catch a single one of them. They’re tired of getting theater ticket and valet parking stubs from Nanaimo and Surrey showing up on their desks with Whidbey Island postmarks, especially since there is no legal mail service between Canada and the racist entity, and neither force has any idea who’s getting into their office to hand-deliver the letters. But to return to the subject, our racist buddies have a little something called the V-Three rocket. It’s actually more of a rocket-boosted glider. It’s very low-tech, doesn’t even have an onboard guidance system … ”
“Which means there is nothing we can jam, so we either shoot them down or they deliver their payload,” said Brava. “Yes, sir, I am familiar with the V-Three. They are slow compared to a Cruise missile, but four hundred and fifty miles per hour on launch and approximately the same speed coming in after burnout is still hard to hit without a high-tech defense system or a jet fighter. You can’t shoot one of the damned things down with small arms. They are comparatively cheap to manufacture, and our satellite and ground reports indicate that the NAR … ”
“The racist homophobic entity!” shrieked Janet Chalupiak. “There is no Republic of anything up there, and if you say that it sounds like you’re talking about a real country!”
“All right, let’s revert back to the modus vivendi we reached the last time, and just call it the Emerald City,” said Brava wearily.
“Fair enough,” said Hunter Wallace magnanimously. “The Emerald City and its band of naughty munchkins are manufacturing more of these V-Threes even as we speak. They’ve gone on a V-Three spree, see?” He giggled. “These weapons are capable of lifting a thousand-kilogram payload. That’s two thousand two hundred pounds, slightly over a ton, and that’s a lot of anthrax, a lot of phosgene or mustard gas, or a lot of just plain high explosive. They have a range of over four hundred miles, depending on the wind, but that means that from their firing platforms in southern Oregon they can hit San Francisco and Sacramento with no trouble.”
“They have no accuracy at all. They can’t even be aimed properly,” sniffed Dave “Gator” Modlin.
“No, they can’t,” agreed Hunter Wallace. “But they can hit something the size of a city, somewhere in town. Just a ton of bad shit, disease or explosive or incendiary white phosphorus, dropping randomly out of the sky. In a way, that’s a more effective terror weapon than a smart bomb or guided missile that one can avoid by staying away from obvious targets. The Nazis don’t call them Flying Bombs for nothing. Now, with a range of over four hundred miles, let us ask ourselves, where else can these flying murder machines hit with total ease? And the prize goes to—Vancouver, Canada! Yes, Vancouver, home of the largest Chinese and other Asian population on the North American continent. Millions of helpless victims for genocidal racist monsters to slaughter, simply for having the wrong color skin. For some reason, the Canadian prime minister doesn’t want that to happen. He seems to feel that it might impede his party’s chances in the next general election.”
“It doesn’t signify, Mister President,” said Janet Chalupiak. “All of the Nazi rocket launching bases will be wiped out by the Air Force in the first hour after you give the order to go green. For heaven’s sake! The things are made out of wood and canvas!”
“Well, some fiberglass as well,” said Kanesha Knight. “Fiberglass. I read that somewhere.”
“Possibly in a report from your own agency?” replied Chalupiak, rolling her eyes to the ceiling.
“Ah, but can we absolutely guarantee that will happen?” said President Wallace. “I hate to sound skeptical of our Air Force, who have the best planes and the best pilots in the world, and I am sure that General Bellows is correct when he assures us that all those little annoying accuracy problems with the Cruise and Tomahawks and Predators have been ironed out. They should be, since it now costs almost fifty million dollars for us to fire even a single one. But can we absolutely guarantee that a single V-Three full of phosgene won’t land in Vancouver once the racists detect American troops passing through British Columbia, coming to take away their shitty little country? I think not, and neither does Prime Minister Simoneau. The Canadian government wants full plausible deniability until after the racist entity has been defeated and occupied, then they want to step forward and take their modest bow for having helped democracy triumph. They don’t want the bad men taking any potshots at the Jewel of the Western Orient. That means no Canadian ground troops and all Canadian assistance has to stay on the QT until it’s safe to acknowledge their contribution.”
“The Canucks are yellow,” said Modlin contemptuously.
“The Canadian voters the government is concerned about keeping alive to vote Liberal certainly are,” said Wallace dryly. “Admiral Brava, don’t worry, there will be more than enough pressure on the racists from the west applied by your colleagues in the navy. Five carriers is a hell of a lot of firepower: the JFK II, the Kitty Hawk, the Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Delmar Partman and the Hornet. Plus the missile subs Harriet Tubman and Jesse Jackson. We will flatten everything west of the Cascades from Eugene to Bellingham; Seattle and Portland and Olympia will be nothing but burning trash heaps in a junkyard, and our ground-based planes and missiles will blast Boise and Spokane and Missoula into powder until not one stone remains on the other, and racism will be but a bad memory in the world. There is no need for a fourth infantry prong. American air power is invincible; ground troops are just there to clinch the deal.”
Vice President Jenner tactfully refrained from reminding the President that even under optimum conditions American air power, while often decisive in the past, had historically been far from invincible, and the quality of their ground troops had been America’s greatest military weakness since the Second World War. “There is always the possibility that we are underestimating their partisan unit defense strategy,” said the Vice President diplomatically.
Wallace grinned. “Ah, yes, the terrible NVA guerrillas of old, ten feet tall with saber teeth, firing a machine gun in each hand while they leap through the northern woods like giant kangaroos. I wondered when they would make their appearance. I know the legend. Hugh, we’ve always known that was on the cards, and we have let it deter us for too long. What has always been these gangsters’ big threat that they level against us? That they will fight all of our high-tech weaponry with low-tech, a simple bullet to the head of people who matter. That’s how they beat us before, Hugh. When that guy lit that booby-trapped cigar and blew his own head off at the dinner table right here in the White House and right in front of Chelsea Clinton, she broke. They were sending America a message: no one is safe, and America’s ruling class quailed before that message and surrendered. Now we have to be man enough to answer it with come and do your worst, for you are an abomination, and we will no longer allow you to be. They know full well that we could have taken back the Northwest any time we wanted to do so during the past twelve years, but we haven’t done so because we let them buffalo us. So they threaten us with the one thing that the United States has traditionally feared more than anything else, the one way that America has always been defeated in the past—a long and drawn-out guerrilla war as we try to occupy a hostile country.”
“It won’t be hostile!” said Kanesha Knight. “We are the good guys! We will be welcomed as liberators!”
“No, we will not be, Kanesha,” said Hunter Wallace firmly. “These are white people who for almost half a generation now have been living on their own and among their own, seeing only people who look like themselves, with no way to compel them to confront and deal with diversity and multiculturalism. History shows that white people won’t do that unless they are forced to do so by the power of the state, so deeply is racism ingrained in us. You have no idea how seductive that kind of evil can be. Remember, when I was doing my intelligence work, I used to peddle that very same evil, and I never had to work very hard to make a sale.” Wallace always referred to his days as a Cognitive Dissonance operative on the internet for one of Cass Sunstein’s early White House internet disruption programs as “intelligence work.” He liked sounding like a glamorous James Bond type.
Wallace went on, “They have tasted the fruit of the poisoned tree, Kanesha, and I assure you, they will fight like the very devil rather than have that poisoned fruit taken away from them and be forced to eat healthy again, in both the moral and the dietary sense. Hell, never mind their racial hatred, some of them will fight like hell just so they can commit obscenities like lighting up a carcinogen or gorging on the flesh of a dead animal, as if humanity hasn’t progressed at all in the past few thousand years and we were still predatory beasts living in caves. Their big threat they use to terrorize us is that they will take us back to those last few bad months before Longview when we were losing fifty soldiers and FATPOs a week, and not so much as a dime of revenue was coming in from the Northwest, and when the Northwest was draining the nation of money like a gigantic black hole. My benighted predecessor gave in to certain pressures…”
Angela Herrin spoke up for the first time. “President Clinton the Third had no choice. Israel was in danger, and Israel had to take priority,” she said flatly, brooking no contradiction.
“Damn straight!” said the White House Chief of Staff, Ronald Schiff.
“Of course it did,” said Wallace smoothly. “But sadly, that pressure no longer exists today, the Light Unto the Nations is no more, and so the United States of America can concentrate on recovering her own lost sheep, so to speak. That being said, there is a price we will have to pay. We weren’t ready to pay it before.” President Wallace looked around the room gravely. “We all need to accept that just as any rat will fight when cornered, these evil people are capable of targeting individuals in this administration, not just because we are enemies, but on the grounds of their color and gender alone. Perhaps even some of us in this room.” Suddenly everyone else realized where the president was headed with this, and they all gave Kanesha Knight a covert glance that she didn’t pick up on. The director of the CIA was thinking about aliens, and whether they really flew down in flying saucers that made beautiful music like in that Close Encounters movie.

* * *

After the meeting in the Situation Room, President Hunter Wallace returned upstairs to the Oval Office and spent the next hour working, and doing so productively. Whatever one could say about Wallace’s off-duty practices, and one could say a great deal, no one denied that the man was a workhorse. He had to be; the United States was in such terrible shape that a Bill Clinton-esque, hands-off president who tried to phone it in simply couldn’t cut it any more.
In one hour, Wallace dictated a memo on shoring up the old Tennessee Valley Authority electric power grid, which was now verging on total collapse from years of neglect. He went over a speech his writers had produced for him to give to the Israel Remembrance Association at a $200,000-a-plate fund-raising dinner in New York next week. He checked his personal uncensored news feed from CNN on his computer, a feed available to only a few high government officials that reported what was actually going on in the world, and he made several calls to various functionaries based on what he saw there. Wallace conducted short personal meetings with the head of the NAACP and the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Right, five o’clock!” he said, rising up. “Now for an hour of me time!” He punched the intercom, “Wanda, I have now ceased to exist until six o’clock. You know the drill.”
“Yes, sir,” came his secretary’s voice. This was known among staffers as the president’s “seventh inning stretch,” during which he disported himself with his personal services assistant of the moment. She would afterwards retire via a back staircase to the main bedroom in the residence itself, using her own special key card to enter. A discreet Asian waiter, who in the tradition of thousands of years of harem guards saw and heard nothing, would bring her supper at 6:30 p.m. There she would await the main bedtime session, which could begin as late as midnight depending on the president’s commitments for the evening. Afterward she might or might not spend the night, at the commander-in-chief’s discretion, before departing for her own home in an armored Secret Service limo. She reported back to the White House at 4:00 p.m. sharp, in case seventh inning stretch came a bit early. This routine went on seven days a week, although it was varied by weekend trips to Camp David and frequent, exciting and luxurious travel to the far corners of the earth on Air Force One. The world’s most famous jet was equipped with its own “executive lounge” for stratospheric nookie.
Wallace strode over to the door of the original executive lounge and opened it. Georgia Myers stood up from the sofa where she was reading a disarmingly innocuous Harlequin romance, and she greeted the president with a kiss. What followed would have made the average Harlequin reader double over and vomit.
“He tappin’ dat blondie again,” said Secret Service Special Agent Jimbo Hadding to his buttoned-down, buzz-cut detail commander, Special Agent Lee Lyons.
“Tapping?” said Lyons dryly.
“Well, what he do,” said Jimbo. Hadding was a gigantic black man, six feet five inches tall and three hundred pounds of ebony muscle, with a massive chest and shoulders. He literally looked like a gorilla dressed in a Brooks Brothers executive ensemble. When he stood straight, arms at his side, his knuckles almost reached his knees. His IQ was room temperature on a good day, but he did have two qualities that fitted him for his job: rare for a monkoid, he was a fairly good pistol shot, and he was just intelligent enough to memorize Secret Service security protocols and procedures and follow them to the letter, so long as nothing disrupted his routine and he didn’t have to think. Hunter Wallace knew the PR value of having a faithful and visible African-American appearing with him in public, so he had cultivated Hadding and made a kind of protégé or pet out of him. In return for his boss’s patronage, and a special permit to devour large amounts of barbecued ribs and fried chicken in the White House mess, Hadding responded with doglike devotion to his chief.
“I still don’t like the idea of him banging a Northwester, even a Cataclysm survivor who lost her home to the enemy, and especially not now,” said Lyons in a low voice. He was the one who had to do the thinking, and he didn’t like the direction his thoughts were taking. Operation Strikeout wasn’t quite as top secret as the command team liked to think; word had been trickling out for some weeks now, and those outside the rarefied zone of the Situation Room whose job it was to worry were concerned that rumors would reach the media soon. “I checked that Halberstam bimbo out myself, full court press, and I recommended against her. A few things were off. She doesn’t pass the sniff test.”
“Obviously she pass his sniff test,” replied the African with a wide, toothy grin. Lyons ignored him.
“She’s a heavy stoner and she sleeps around, and that usually means indiscreet. She had some neighbors down the street when she was a kid in Missoula, some people named Campbell, and they were NVA. It would be okay if she really was Jewish, but she’s not, her stepfather is. But the boss has been gaga for her ever since he saw her at that reception at the Corcoran Museum. Told me once she reminds him of his sister. He shouldn’t even have been talking to her that night. We had her flagged because she was born in Montana, and he’s supposed to follow our lead when we warn him off flagged individuals, but he didn’t this time. I had a quiet word with him and he blew me off, then he insists on our starting the PSA paperwork on her, when Carolyn’s contract still had six weeks to run.”
“We didden find nothin’ on de down-low,” said Hadding. “I ran her ass, too. She jus’ a junkie ho.”
“She still makes my ass twitch, and not in a good way,” said Lyons. “I’m keeping a close eye on her. I’m personally monitoring all her footage every minute she’s in the building and she’s not in the two dead zones where she actually works. You do that too, Jimbo. If that girl does anything that looks even a little off-kilter to you, you come to me and let me know.”
“Mos’ def,” replied Hadding.
 At six o’clock, President Hunter Wallace emerged from the executive lounge smiling and adjusting his tie. Georgia slipped out a few minutes later, her dress slightly disheveled as everyone expected it to be, and she strolled out of the Oval Office through the rear corridor on her way to the East Wing and the residence. Since she arrived, Georgia had fit right into both wings. She figured everyone knew who she was and why she was there, so there was no need to be coy about it. She had reached the point where she now had a few acquaintances among the West Wing staff with whom she could nod and exchange a few words. Already a few staffers were sidling up to her in the White House mess, as the cafeteria was called, or in break rooms or her small cubicle where she played with the computer sometimes, trying to get close to the maitresse en tître and pick up some juicy gossip or information they could sell to the media, a traditional cottage industry in the West Wing.
Georgia moved along a private staff corridor, a euphemism for a servant’s passage that ran the length of the West Wing from the Oval Office behind the Cabinet Room, the Roosevelt Room, and the Press Briefing Room. She was not allowed to use the open walkway along the West Colonnade—too public. It would have been possible for her to crack open a door and eavesdrop on Cabinet meetings and on conversations in a number of private offices from the servant’s passageway, except that it was completely covered with closed-circuit cameras and she assumed audio mics as well, and any lingering or suspicious behavior on her part would have been instantly detected in the Secret Service control room.
The West Wing was connected to the Executive Residence in the East Wing by the center hall on the ground floor. Georgia entered the East Wing with her pass card. She nodded pleasantly to the uniformed Protective Services officer on the duty desk, walked past the Map Room, the China Room, and the Diplomatic Reception Room, then up the stairs past the first or State Floor and on to the presidential master bedroom on the right, in the actual residence on the second floor. She swiped her card and entered one of only two places in the entire White House complex that was completely free of any audio or visual surveillance or recording devices, the other being the “executive lounge” and its attached bathroom and shower off the Oval Office.
Georgia now had some hours alone and unobserved, but the problem was how to make use of that time. Not only did she have to collect every scrap of information she could about what was going on in the White House, but she had to get it out of the building and convert it into some kind of intelligible form and order for Bobby Campbell. The simplest way to do this was just to verbally report everything she saw or heard, but that was proving problematic. It was hard for her to meet “Richie” anywhere in the District without being recorded on a spy camera of some kind, and trips out of the self-contained Green Zone, which had everything government people needed for a hermetically sealed existence, would draw suspicion. Many federal employees now lived and worked for decades without ever even going across the river to Arlington.
It was true the Office could arrange convenient outages when it was necessary for them to get together for half an hour or so, but this could only be done so often before somebody at DHS handling her routine VIP monitoring would notice and report the quirky camera cut-offs to the Secret Service, which would get them suspicious and lead to physical surveillance. Georgia had not yet been taken to see the Zombie Master in his own surveillance-free bubble. She could of course go into the White House wired for sound and video in a dozen different ways, but there were all kinds of electronic sensors, frequency detectors, body scans at all the entrances, and random security sweeps by Secret Service techs seeking to detect any signs of surveillance (besides theirs) and any transmission or unknown electronic device in operation. This was a tall order in a building full of electronic communications devices of every known kind, and there were ways around this, but the WPB had to be very careful, because Belladonna was a diamond asset that could not under any circumstances be compromised before she was able to fulfill her primary mission—not just White House gossip and policy tittle-tattle, but hard details about the when and where and how of Operation Strikeout.
The criminal techie geek Birdie had come up with a solution, acting on Vinnie Skins’ request to come up with some way to get sensitive information such as bills of lading and shipping schedules out of bonded tobacco and kosher meat warehouses, which had anti-spying and hacking systems almost equivalent to those in the White House.
It simply wasn’t practical for the Secret Service to confiscate everyone’s personal devices of various kinds as they came in the White House door, because the staff used them all day for personal and political business. As a precaution against unauthorized data theft, on entering the White House the Protective Service door guards passed each wireless phone, videophone, personal notebook, and Blackberry through a device which gave them an electronic configuration and snapshot of the drive and/or chips inside, together with their data content, X drive holding 300 gigabytes, Y chip holding 52.4 gigabytes, etc. These specifics were recorded on the security computer database. When each staffer left at night, their devices and laptops were again passed through the scanner and matched against their entrance data for that morning. Any extra data, or missing data causing a discrepancy, had to have a matching supervisor’s download permission code recorded for that device during the day giving the time when the download was performed and the source of the download.
The system was incredibly cumbersome and almost useless, because so few people bothered with it during the day. Half of them forgot what they had downloaded or added to their personal computers and handheld devices by the time they got to security checkout. The result was a line of irritated and arrogant government prima donnas at every security exit at quitting time, all of them convinced they were far too important and powerful players to have to bother with such nonsense, and many of them abusing and insulting the long-suffering FPS officers who wanted to know why they had two more gigabytes of data on their day planner than they’d had at nine o’clock that morning. The line to leave ended up slowed to a crawl as employees tried to locate authorized supervisors on the phone and get them to OK an upload to a guard, staffers made a game of finding ways to sneak out of the White House without checking out through security, formal complaints and reprimands and apologies and memos flew like confetti, and the whole thing degenerated into a typical American clusterfuck. This gave a genuine spy like Georgia a good deal of wiggle room.
What Birdie came up with was a way to rig Georgia’s SuperPod, her personal music player, so that she could load up to five terabytes of data onto the drive and conceal the fact. At some expense, the Office purchased for Georgia the deluxe Ayatollah Rockandrolla model, a pre-programmed SuperPod that contained every rock-and-roll, rockabilly, soul, Motown, heavy metal, grunge, ska, and any other popular music recorded in the last century, starting with Buddy Holly and the first Elvis. Everything except racist Skinhead rock music, Oi music, White Noise, and Northwest rebel songs like Third Brigade and The Boys of Elk River, of course.
The tens of thousands of songs amounted to quite a bit of compressed data, but this drive was partitioned by Birdie on two levels in some manner that Bobby could not understand, and Georgia didn’t even try. There were thousands of songs on the upper drive, and Georgia could create her own playlists and listen for hours, as could anyone else if they wanted proof that the SuperPod did indeed contain music. The lower partition was programmed in some voodoo-like manner so that when Georgia connected the Pod to a source computer or inserted a chip or flash drive, the new data uploaded onto the lower partition of the device’s drive and overwrote the existing data there without increasing the overall content. Georgia’s SuperPod went through the Secret Service scanner in the afternoon when she reported for Seventh Inning Stretch and showed 5.2 terabytes of data, and out again the next morning showing 5.2 terabytes—just not all of it the same data.
It was risky. At the slightest hint of suspicion, the SuperPod drive could be seized and accessed with a password-cracking program, and the true contents displayed. There was an emergency code Georgia could text onto the pad that would wipe the drive so clean that Christ and all twelve apostles couldn’t recover a single byte, but to do that was in itself as good as a confession if she were caught. But now not only did she have a way to bring actual confidential data out of the White House, but she had something to take out.
At the conclusion of seventh inning stretch in the executive lounge, President Wallace always ducked quickly into the shower to spruce up before resuming his official duties. Georgia needed a more leisurely time in the bathroom to clean up, shower, and sometimes to apply any necessary ointment or bandages to her body. This evening she had used the president’s shower time to rifle through his pockets, and she had found a flash drive with the clear plastic handle labeled “SR Conference May 20.” That was today’s date, and SR had to be Situation Room. Taking advantage of the absence of spy cameras in the Oval Office love nest, Georgia whipped out her SuperPod and copied the contents of the flash drive onto it, then carefully replaced the drive in Wallace’s inner jacket pocket where she found it just as he stepped out of the shower.
She was curious as to what she’d gotten. Now alone in the only other surveillance-free place in the building, she opened the file and picked a point at random to start playing. She saw Hunter Wallace’s face and heard his voice: “We will flatten everything west of the Cascades from Eugene to Bellingham; Seattle and Portland and Olympia will be nothing but burning trash heaps in a junkyard, and our ground-based planes and missiles will blast Boise and Spokane and Missoula into powder until not one stone remains on the other, and racism will be but a bad memory in the world…”
Georgia texted an apparently innocuous message to a girlfriend at her old job that was relayed to Bob Campbell’s phone, and told him she needed a meeting next morning at a certain bar and grill downtown, where the security cameras had been carefully turned aside so that one side entrance and a couple of tables at the back were in a blind spot. Georgia thought of her father and her brother in Montana, and the little baby boy she had seen when Bobby played their messages, and of what she was doing every night with the man who meant to murder them. She cried for a while, and then she got herself cleaned up. Her lover had told her he’d be up to bed early tonight.
Twenty-four hours later, the Northwest American Republic’s Council of State sat in the conference room in Olympia and watched the whole previous day’s meeting of their opposite numbers in the White House situation room. They heard Hunter Wallace say: “We will flatten everything west of the Cascades from Eugene to Bellingham; Seattle and Portland and Olympia will be nothing but burning trash heaps in a junkyard, and our ground-based planes and missiles will blast Boise and Spokane and Missoula into powder until not one stone remains on the other, and racism will be but a bad memory in the world.”
Wallace did not hear his counterpart, State President Henry “Red” Morehouse as he spoke aloud, to no one in particular, “No, sir. You won’t.”









1 Comments:

Anonymous Carl said...

I never thought you could out-do The Brigade, Harold, but damned if you haven't.

6:39 PM  

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