Friday, January 27, 2012

1/16-18/12 - Et in Arcadia, Arcadia Ego


Moderator: This question is going to Governor Perry. Sir, I'm sure you, like your fellow candidates, have been noticing that the role of America's Strategic Talents in the world has changed quite a bit in the last year. The COMPANY, which oversees America's Supers, has declared outright war against a number of America's enemies. The remnants of the Fourth Reich, ABWEHR, are gone, as are the Legion, and, as of just before Christmas, HONEYCOMB

While many are applauding the effort, there's been some question as to the decision making process behind this offensive. Word from the White House is that SPYGOD, the head of The COMPANY, did not seek permission from the President, nor confer with him as to the ramifications of the matter before going off on this crusade. Indeed, we're told the President was embarrassed on live television for trying to take credit for the raid on Antarctica, only to be told off by SPYGOD, himself.

(Audience laughter)

Moderator: Now, sir-

Perry: Is there a question in all that?

(Audience laughter)

Moderator: Yes, sir. You've spoken before on the need for a strong military, and the need to react quickly and unilaterally against threats. Do you approve of what The COMPANY is doing? And do you think SPYGOD is handling the matter as well as he ought to be, given that the man who he reports to directly is apparently completely out of the decision making loop?

Perry: Well, I can't help but think there's a few gotchas in that question, to be honest. But let's be honest, here. I think it's about time that we went after these people. We went after the people who were responsible for The Computer Hell Virus, and we've been going after terrorists in the Middle East since before then. Especially the ones who tried to hijack planes and crash them into Neo York City and Washington D.C. 

My concern, here, is why didn't we do this sooner? I mean...

(Audience applause) 

Let's face it, the guy who's running this agency, SPYGOD. He could have done this at any time in the last twenty or thirty years. Instead, they've been playing the game where they attack us, we stop them, we go after them, they retreat, and then a month or two later, maybe a year later, they pop up again and attack us, and we're doing it all over again. Why didn't we hammer them earlier, like this? Why did we wait?

So I think we need to ask that question. I think the answer will have something to do with this President trying to shore up what's otherwise going to be a really sorry legacy.

(Audience applause)

Perry: I think the notion that he didn't know what his Super Spy in Chief was doing is ludicrous and a dodge. I think he approved it all and then hung SPYGOD out to dry, so he could take some of the credit when it was all over and he could be rid of SPYGOD, because, let's face it, the man is an embarrassment to this country. 

(Audience applause, some booing)

Perry: Now, I've had some run-ins with SPYGOD, and I've never walked away from them feeling like he's in any way, shape, or form able to handle our nation's security. Word is that he's drunk more often than he's sober, taking all kinds of non-prescription medicines and maybe some illegal drugs, having improper relations with members of his own staff. And, let's not mince words here, he's a sexual deviant, and I think that sends the wrong message to our allies and enemies.

If the President cared about the security of this country, he'd have done the right thing and sent him packing as soon as he got the lay of the Oval Office down. 

Moderator: Congressman Paul? Should he have been sent packing? I know you've been critical of SPYGOD in the past.

Paul: Well... not exactly. You see, most of my criticism of him comes from what the previous administration had him doing on America's behalf around the world. I think there was a lot of serious mistakes going on in terms of foreign policy and how we treated our fellow nations back then, and SPYGOD was being used just like any other agency the President has direct control over. And now that things have changed in the Oval Office, well, sort of changed, you know how I feel about that by now.

(Audience laughter)
Paul: I think he's doing the right thing. We have to remember that, every day, this country is under siege by numerous dangerous organizations. There is essentially an undeclared war against our way of life. People like SPYGOD are our soldiers on the front lines. So let's not get too excited about his personal life. Let's look at the good he's done, and continues to do.

Moderator: Sir, I'm kind of confused. In 2008 you said, quote, "SPYGOD is the devil incarnate. He takes all the hard work our diplomats and soldiers do and essentially flushes it down the commode. He overrides the President with the barrel of a gun and just does what he wants. And as if that wasn't enough, he's the most immoral and obnoxious person I've ever had the displeasure of meeting. He's also an avowed homosexual, and that makes him the ultimate security risk. The man has to go, The COMPANY needs to be reformed, and if you send me to the other side of the National Mall that's exactly what I will do."

(Audience applause, laughter)

Paul: Oh, well, I didn't exactly say that. 

(Audience boos)

Paul: That... that was in one of my newsletters. Someone who used to work for me took that out of context and wrote it up. You know how these things are. But I will say this, The COMPANY could stand some reform, just like every Agency and Department in Washington, and I am the only person up here who would seek to follow the Constitution while doing so. 

Moderator: Governor Romney? Is he the only one who could bring that reform to the table, when it comes to The COMPANY and America's war on Super Terror?

Romney: No, I don't think he is. I think that egregious flip-flop we just witnessed is shameful. I was there when those words were spoken by the Congressman. He didn't have a wayward intern write them down in one of those questionable newsletters of his, that he still won't take credit for all of, even though his own name's on the top. We have to take responsibility for our own words, Mr. Congressman. We can't dodge them.

(Audience applause)

Romney: And with responsibility comes a lot of responsibilities. Or great power, or something. 

(Audience laughter)

Romney: I don't know, maybe something, there. I think we could ask the President. He reads that kind of stuff instead of how the country's really doing these days.

(Audience applause, laughter)

Romney: But to continue the answer, yes. SPYGOD needs to go. The man is an embarrassment to this nation. The COMPANY needs to continue on, because it does a lot of good work, and keeps us safe, but the man at the top of the Agency is a morally corrupt, out of control individual who's one drunk night away from causing another world war. 

I mean, did you hear that we almost got in a shooting match with South Korea late last year because of something he did, over there? And, as usual, the President had no idea he was even there until he was reading in the papers about how the South Korean authorities had to try and arrest him for doing something I'm not even going to talk about here. It was that distasteful. 

Moderator: I take it you're referring to his relieving himself on the grave of a South Korean President?

Paul: Well, didn't General Park urinate on his people's basic, God given liberty and freedom for years?

(Audience applause)

Paul: I mean, he stood up against Communism, but the man was a dictator. This is what I've been trying to say. We need to have a better foreign policy that's based on the golden rule-

Moderator: Congressman Paul, I think the Governor has the floor.

Romney: That's right, I do.

(Audience laughter)

Romney: But I think that's all I had to say on the matter, really. The man is clearly out of control, just like a lot of Washington since the President took office. I think our nation's safety and security is too important to put in the hands of someone who carries on like it's a wild Hollywood party.

(Audience applause)

Moderator: Out of control, wild Hollywood party, Governor Santorum?

Santorum: Absolutely. I think it's disgusting that we've let this immoral farce go on for as long as it has. I actually had the displeasure of meeting SPYGOD one time, when he was doing something top secret in Pennsylvania, when I was Governor. I had some complaints about how he was doing his business, and... well, I won't even tell you what he told me. It was just that hideous.

Moderator: Wasn't it something to do with Governor Dwyer, I think, sir? The Pennsylvania governor who shot himself on live television?

Santorum: You know, I really don't want to talk about it. That was a terrible episode in our state's history. I'd really rather we got past that. And I think we should get past SPYGOD, too. The sooner the better.

Moderator: Speaker Gingrich, you look like you've been gearing up to give a answer to this question.

(Audience laughter)

Gingrich: Was it that obvious?

(Audience laughter)

Gingrich: I'm going to differ a little from my colleagues, here. I think the basic fact is that, in an Administration that's been hamstrung by incompetence and waywardness, and utterly bereft of any guiding principles, other than getting re-elected, the only things that are really getting done are by SPYGOD. The man has done more to shore up our nation's security in the last year than the President has in the last four, and I suspect his sudden burst of activity has more to do with his being as disgusted as most Americans are at our current state of defense.

(Audience applause)

Gingrich: Now, having said that, yes, on an interpersonal level, the man is a little weird.

(Audience laughter, puzzlement)

Gingrich: However, we have to remember that he made a massive sacrifice many decades ago in order to safeguard not only America, but the entire world. He has a number of strikes against him and genuine handicaps as a result of that sacrifice. And while that's not always an excuse for some of his cruder displays, for which he can and should be taken to task, I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. We have to-

Santorum: He threatened the sanctity of my anus with what appeared to be a rocket launcher, Mr. Speaker.

Perry: He offered to indoctrinate me into the joys of homosexuality. I had to have my bodyguards chase him out of the Statehouse.

Romney: He also threatened me with something about the UFO that Joseph Smith came to Earth in... whatever that meant.

Gingrich: Well, I'm not going to comment on what he may or may not have said, or occasionally done while he was off duty. Let's look at what he did for his country, then and now, and consider that, if anyone had to be the one to do what he did for the sake the world, we should be grateful it was him, and not someone from the Soviet Union or China.

Romney: You know, you can only play that 'He killed Hitler' card a number of times. Mr. Speaker, you're a historian. Let's not forget that, before he betrayed our country, Benedict Arnold was a hero, too.

(Audience applause)

Gingrich: Now, now-

Moderator: Mr. Speaker? My apologies, bit we have to take a break, now. We'll come back and talk about foreign policy.

4:58 PM

For a moment, Mr. USA doesn't know what to do.

The horrible voice on the other end of the phone call has just told him what his new orders are. He blinks, fighting back tears, and exhales, and inhales sharply.

"No," he says. The first time he's ever spoken during one of these calls: "No."

"Did I hear you correctly, (REDACTED)?" The voice asks, mockingly: "Did you actually say no? To me?"

"You... you can't ask that of me, sir," the hero says: "It goes against everything. Everything I stand for. Everything we stand for. America. I can't-"

"You can and you will," the voice insists: "You will do exactly as you have been instructed. You will follow those commands to the letter. You will not falter. You will not renege on our agreement. And you show the slightest deviation from the plan, she will suffer."

She. Oh God. She. 

He tries to regain his composure. He coughs and tries not to sound as !@#$ screwed up and around as he actually is, right now. But it's useless.

"I'm sorry. It's just... sir, do you know what you're asking?"

"You must be joking, (REDACTED)," the voice replies after a very unnerving moment of silence: "I've known what I was doing since this started. I've known what I was doing since before you even came into the equation. The question is, do you know what I'm telling?"

Another hitched breath. A shudder.

"Let me put it to you this way, hero," the voice continues: "I'm looking at her right now."

"Oh no. Please, no..."

"I am looking at her through a very large scope."

"Oh God. No. Please, sir. No."

"You know what kind of scope it is. It's the kind we use when we need to end someone from a long way away, and not miss."


"She's in the backyard, completely unaware that she's being watched. And all I have to do is squeeze, just a little bit. Just squeeze. And then she won't be aware of anything. Not. Ever. Again."

Mr. USA drops to his knees, trying not to sob any more. Knowing what comes next makes all the difference in the world.

"Now, just so we're clear. This has been a major breach of protocol on your part. You're not supposed to be talking to me unless I ask you questions. You're not supposed to be begging me for mercy. You know the parameters of our arrangement. You listen, you obey, she lives."

He says nothing. He wants to scream. He can't say a word.

"Now go and do what I've ordered. I'm hanging up now. But just so you know? From now on, there will be three men watching her through scopes. Good luck trying to stop them all."

The phone call ends. Mr. USA screams. No one hears him.

Not even SPYGOD.

11:00 AM

The Press surrounds the podium, waiting for the Governor to arrive. The word is that he's going to say something important. Better word is that, after dismal poll showings and a distinct lack of funds,  he's going to throw in the towel. The questions, then, are how he'll throw it, and who, if anyone, he'll endorse on the way out.

Hundreds of miles away, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, floats what's left of The Flier. A skeleton crew of Agents keeps it as ship-shape as possible, waiting for repairs that have been hamstrung by bureaucracy and small-mindedness. They've also been keeping scavengers away, knowing that even the weakest weapons system on board could start or end a war, somewhere, or at least fetch a good price for someone wanting to sell it. 

That and fishing. Lots of fishing. The cookouts have become legendary, now.

The Governor walks out, waving this way and that. Thank yous are said. Small talk is made. He grips the podium, basking in the love, or at least the camera flashes, and as he smiles and prepares to speak it's obvious that he knows this is it, at least for a while. The race is over, and this moment will never come again. 

“As I’ve stated numerous times during the campaign, this campaign has never been about the candidate. I ran for president because I love America. I love our people. I love our freedom and, matter of fact, this mission is greater than any one man."

The Agents feel the platforms before they see them. The radios squawk into life and instructions pour out of them. The day they've been waiting for is here, at long last. 

The reconstruction is finally here.

"As I’ve traveled across this great country, starting here in Charleston, going to New Hampshire, Iowa, California, down into Florida, numerous states in between obviously. I just covered this tremendous purpose, resiliency of our people. They’ve never lost hope despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. They haven’t stopped believing in the promise of America. They haven’t stopped believing in the American dream. Americans are down but we can never be counted out. We’re too great a people for that."

In moments, everyone has the rafts ready to go and is flinging everything they need into them. Not that they need a lot, of course, but while they've been preparing for this moment for quite some time, no one's really sure how long it might take. 

And the last thing they want is to be caught without crucial supplies while waiting for The Flier to rise again.

"What’s broken in America is not our people, it’s our politics. And what we need in Washington is a place that is humbler with a federal government that is smaller so that our people can live freer.
I entered this campaign offering a unique perspective. A governor who had led a large state leading a nation in job creation. An executive leader who had implemented conservative principles. A son of tenant farmers who was born with little more than a good name but who has experienced the great opportunity and freedom of this country."

The platforms are overhead moments after all the rafts are away, and all Agents a safe distance from the Flier. They watch as large boxes are tossed out the sides and back of each platform, falling down to a certain height and then exploding as their cargo violently exits. What looks like clouds of smoke but are actually swarms of tiny, single-use construction robots float on the breeze for a moment, and then rocket down to the stricken shell of what used to be The COMPANY's first, last, and best defense.

"But I’ve never believed the cause of conservatism is embodied by one individual. Our party and the conservative philosophy transcends any one individual. It’s a movement of ideas that are greater than any one of us and will live long past any of us in our lives.

"As a former air force pilot, I don’t get confused. I know we can’t lose track of the ultimate objective of carrying out our mission and that objective is not only to defeat President Obama but to replace him with a conservative leader who will bring about real change."

The clouds touch down, covering the wreck, and the resulting conversion from broken junk to base elements is swift and merciless. The mighty but old superstructure is dismantled in moments, and turned into a churning sea of metal, rubber, and plastic. 

As the Agents watch from above and below, the sea expands like a wave, but then falters and, like the swiftly receding tide that warns of a tsunami, rushes back to the center. And in that center, the boiling, roiling mass begins to take shape, again. 

"Our country is hurting. Make no mistake about that. Thirteen million people out of work. Fifty million of our citizens on food stamps. Fifteen trillion dollar national debt and growing. A Supers program that's run by an insane, militant homosexual. We need bold, conservative leadership that will take on the entrenched interests and give the American People their country back."

Length first, then height, then depth. Steel tendrils shoot forward, wrapping around each other and becoming framework, then passageways, then rooms. The skeleton is wrapped in armored skin, and weapons systems begin to reform over that.

Mighty engines are rebuilt from the inside out and placed where they need to go. Flight platforms self-rivet into place. Engine rooms assemble, and are brought partially online to fuel the ship as it recreates itself. Control decks clamber over one another like block towers falling in reverse.

A distant, atonal hum becomes the mighty thrum of its metal hearts beating, shuddering the leviathan into motion. Foot by foot, the machine rises from the ocean, its lights forming like fruit rotting in reverse and then glowing as bright as newborn suns.

"I have always believed the mission is greater than the man. As I have contemplated the future of this campaign, I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign.

"Therefore, today I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for president of the United States."

The Agents cheer, and then begin to paddle closer to the newborn machine. They don't need to know exactly what's going on in there, except that, once inside, they expect that it'll be everything they ever wanted in The Flier, but didn't think they'd get. 

They have faith. Sometimes that's more than enough. Sometimes that brings forth miracles.

There is a gasp and then a room full of applause. The tattoo of cameras and the surging of microphones increases. The Governor smiles, knowing that this moment will never come again, either, but if he's played his card right, this could be the start of something new and different.

"I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country. We’ve had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have. And Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?

"The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God and I believe in the power of redemption, for it is a central tenet of my Christian faith."

"This is Agent Knowles," says the first Agent to get to the Bridge: "We have The Flier secured, sir."

"How does it look down there, son?" SPYGOD's voice says over the intercom, clear as FM radio.

"It's... it's beautiful, sir," the Agent says, looking around a bridge that's even more spacious and beautiful than the last one: "I think I've seen the face of God made manifest in our mighty fortress."

"Son, when I get down there, you and I are having a very large drink," SPYGOD says: "And then I'm going to teach you what the !@#$ not to say over an open channel."

The Governor opens his mouth again, to speak, but then hears some strange noises. At first he thinks it's someone slamming a door one time too many, but then he has a terrible pain in his head that flares up like a sudden migraine, and gets so bad so quickly that he feels the need to just sit down.

Lie down, really, and people scream as he does. That's the first thing that really tells him that something's wrong. That and the weird, warm wet running down his neck, his shoulders, the back of his shirt.

Something's wrong, but he's still not sure what. 

The worst thing is that he can't think. As people surround him, he can't remember who they are, or what they are to him. As the lights dim to the slowing beat of his heart he can't imagine why they seem so concerned.

Truly, this is paradise, he thinks he hears someone saying. He imagines a large space full of bright lights and happy, jubilant people, all drinking champagne from fluted glasses. Someone in a black leather uniform with an eyepatch is all but forcing one on him, berating him teasingly for not drinking enough.

You gotta sin to get saved around here, son, the man says, grinning ear to ear: Now drink up before some chicken!@#$ bureaucrat realizes how much we just spent on nanotech and wants to crawl up our !@#$ with a ruler to get every last penny accounted for. We got us a date in Costa !@#$ Rica.

Bewildered, the Governor closes his eyes once, then twice. The next time they open it's for good, until some kind soul, apparently unafraid of the ruin his head's become, runs a gentle hand over them to see they're closed.

And then there's nothing. Nothing at all.

(SPYGOD is listening to Democracy (Killing Joke) and having some $1000 a bottle Champagne)

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