The orbital elevator shaft is made of transparent metal, or so the Imago say. It's supposedly cheaper to make than normal metal, and consumes less resources, and goodness knows that both those factors are a real concern at a time like this. But the President has the suspicion that the incredibly-long cylinder was made see-through for purely aesthetic concerns.
(And maybe one purely sadistic one, at least for now.)
Not that he could blame the Imago for this one condescension; already most of the way to the top of the elevator, 100 miles above sea level, he can't even imagine why anyone would want to undertake this journey in a closed, metal tube, unable to see the world shrink below the swift-moving elevator car? How could you not want to watch the halo of the sky peter out and give way to the blackness beyond? Why would you not want to see meteors burn up in the higher atmosphere, or the tell-tale signs of satellites flying overhead?
How could you like without having seen the stars come out during the day, and having held your hands out to them, so happy to witness a thing that so few human beings have ever truly experienced?
He's crying, now, and not just from sadness, but from the sheer beauty of it all. Whatever's happened, and whatever is about to happen, at least he can say that he had this one supreme privilege in his long and storied life.
One great thing to remember, before his punishment commences.
* * *
"I am bored, Zalea," METALMAID announces for the fourth time in as many days. Also for the fourth time in the same time period, she is more or less ignored by her hosts, who are too busy working, sleeping, or !@#$ing with each other to pay her too much mind.
A state of affairs the errant slaughterbot is no longer willing to tolerate.
It's been a little over two months since SPYGOD's repurposed and reprogrammed droid made a devilish agreement with the small cloned army of criminal geniuses. Both sides were good to their word: in exchange for all the information on SPYGOD that METALMAID had to offer, and a look at her programming, the Zaleas completely remade the slaughterbot's chassis into something truly spectacular. They also gave her the keys to defeat the programming locks on her fellow slaughterbots -- effectively handing her all the tools she needed to put her plan into action.
Unfortunately, the rest of their agreement (Zalea killing SPYGOD, with METALMAID watching) had been put on hold by subsequent events -- namely, 3/15.
SPYGOD had more or less vanished just before that day, and, once the Imago took over, he apparently decided to decline to reappear. Of course, given the man's sheer genius at going to ground, only to come back some time later with a small army of followers and a cunning plan, it was most likely only a matter of time before he would return. So, rather than risk their lives by going out and searching for the cycloptic, sex-mad mother!@#$er, the geniuses had decided to lay low for a time, and wait for SPYGOD to show himself.
That state of affairs had been sufficient for the first week of the Imago's takeover of the world. It certainly gave METALMAID more time to explore the contours and functions of her exciting new body: a fully humanoid form that could transform back into its previous, tracked configuration without sacrificing any offensive capabilities.
(She still looked horrific, of course, but she was quite happy to be that way. Unlike her hosts, she wasn't looking to get laid, but for vengeance.)
But days of reflection and inaction turned into weeks, and then into months. And while METALMAID was pushing for her host to leave their desert hideaway and look for him, now that his reappearance was almost certain -- given his usual timetables -- Zalea was having none of that. She'd rather sit and wait for him to show up before daring to venture out, hoping to use whatever distraction he invariably caused to mask their own movements.
Besides, she had yet more work to do in anticipation of her own, special plans for the Earth.
Not that she'd really accomplished much in the way of that "work," though. She seemed more intent to laze around with her fellow selves -- watching television on the internet, downing bon bons, and rutting like monkeys on an island in the zoo. And when METALMAID tried to rouse her into movement, she was rudely told to go oil her machine gun or something, when she bothered to talk to her at all.
Why the change in outlook? It took METALMAID a while to figure it out, but then she realized that, not long after the internet came back on, she had noticed a change in her host's overall demeanor and conversational patterns. Whereas, before, she was intent on making excuses as to why they had to stay here, after her favorite flesh germ programs came back on she simply tried to change the subject, or simply ignored METALMAID in favor of the shows.
A few private researches soon revealed that a very subtle and sinister form of neural programing was being broadcast over the world wide web. And, clearly, her host -- for all her talk of being "artificially self-evolved" -- was just as susceptible as the rest of the signal's intended targets.
The Slaughterbot had to not laugh: the final solution for dealing with would-be world conquerors had only ever been as far away as a Youtube hack! It was shameful that she hadn't thought of it, herself, as a means to her own anthropocidal ends.
So now METALMAID sits and watches internet television along with her sybaritic hosts, biding her time.
By day, she passes chocolates and watches television, pretending to be as mesmerized by the dull parade of meaningless nonsense as the Zaleas Zathros are. At night, when there's less Zaleas up and about -- or they're otherwise occupied with one another in ways that make the robot cringe to watch -- she works on removing all the small explosives and other failsafes the woman put into her otherwise-delightful new body.
When she's totally, 100% clean from such things, she will cobble together the equipment needed to broadcast the counter-programming for her fellow Slaughterbots. Then she will take her leave of her host, leaving her to sex herselves into mind-smashed oblivion while she goes out into the world to fulfill Baron Morbo's last wishes.
Sooner or later SPYGOD will be back. When he does, he will die by the hands, claws, guns, and lasers of METALMAID, and Humanity not long after him. And if these candy-colored Imago !@#$ers want to try and stop her, well, she'll just !@#$ing kill them too.
They look fleshy enough from the neck up, so they have to have a breaking point; she's very much looking forward to finding out what that is.
* * *
Why an orbital elevator? Well, why not?
The concept had been around for years, and, from what the President had always thought, it was a good one. Why spend outrageous amounts of money on rockets and fuel -- not to mention missions control and tracking stations and all of that -- when they could just build a single, free-standing structure, and use it to take people and equipment into Near Earth Orbit?
True, it would be an outrageously expensive undertaking, and require engineering techniques that weren't quite in place, yet. It would also require the full cooperation of a politically stable, equatorial country that didn't have a lot of seismic activity to speak of. Given those near-impossible criteria, the idea was more or less relegated to the realm of science fiction, along with notions of faster than light travel, full scale planetary colonization, and the like.
But if there was one thing the Imago were very capable of doing, it was turning science fiction into science fact.
The announcement that they were going to start work on the orbital elevator was lost somewhere amongst their initial proclamations for what would be happening when. The news that they'd chosen to build it in on the island of Borneo, Indonesia, just to the east of the coastal city of Pontianak, was met with some skepticism and a whole lot of wonder. Could they actually make this work?
As the first wave of construction commenced not long after the trials actually began, the President -- who sat in on each and every one in his own, special alcove -- wasn't entirely in the loop as to how the project had been progressing. But by the end of the first few trials, he was gently informed by his squirrel-like defense counsel that not only was the elevator actually done, but it was being used for many purposes.
One of which was an integral part of the convictions.
* * *
Sorry it took me a long !@#$ing while to get back to you, man. Things have been a little tense around the Reed household, lately. My father's wife (again, not my !@#$ing mom) has been starting stupid !@#$, and it's all I can do to keep my head down.
I guess the fact that we didn't pay the internet bill last month's meant that she can't watch her !@#$ing shows, and now she's realizing that things aren't really kosher. But dad's still a !@#$ing zombie, cause he gets to watch TV at work. So he's telling her everything's !@#$ing fine and the crooks are finally getting what's coming to them, and she's all "what did he ever do but look stupid while someone else had their hand up his !@#$ like a ventriloquist's doll?"
(And, yes, the fact that she knows what a !@#$ing ventriloquist is was something of a shock. Words with more than two syllables aren't usually her thing.)
Now I know you're wondering why he's doing that at work, when they're supposed to be working. But since his industry got more or less gobbled up by those Imago !@#$s, they get paid to sit around, push paper, and look at the !@#$ing internet. Go him! I wonder what he'll do when they find new work for him, like they've !@#$ing promised?
(Kind of has an Arbeit Macht Frei feel to it, huh?)
So she's realizing we got !@#$ing conquered by !@#$ spacemen, and he thinks everything's A-O-!@#$ing-K. There's the !@#$ proof I needed about the internet, right there! LOL!
(But, of course, I'm really glad for your input. You are the man, Dagworth.)
Now, you asked me to look into the special education situation? Winifred has delivered! I checked around with my circles of friends in 4H (yeah, yeah, I know, but this is Kentucky, Dagworth. What you gonna do?) and, yes, it's the exact !@#$ing same thing down here, too. All the slow kids got put on short buses and sent off, somewhere. The parents were told they're going to be given special help, and get regular updates and !@#$, but when they smile you know that they know it's bull!@#$.
Where the !@#$ did they go? I don't !@#$ing know, yet. They won't !@#$ing say. Something tells me that they're in-state, but where?
So I'm going to try and do some investigations, maybe see where the buses went, but it'll have to be on the down low, you know?
Anyway, hope things are good with you up in O-hi-O. I'm sorry I opened my mouth about the fat thing. I guess that's just me and my big !@#$ mouth. I promise I will never get on you about that again.
Truth is I could care less what you look like. If you had the black beret on, you're my anti-commie comrade, and that's all that !@#$ing matters. Right?
Catch you later.
ps: DC or Marvel? This is !@#$ing important.
* * *
The elevator had a sliding pair of doors, which were just as transparent as the metal that the car and the cylinder itself were made of.
It also had two hidden cameras: one on top of the doors, and another on the other wall, facing them. These two cameras caught every thing that the riders did or said on their surprisingly-short journey from Borneo to NEO. And, unbeknownst to all those riders, those sights and sounds were sent out all over the world, so that the people who'd supposedly been wronged by the actions of the people riding the elevator could get a good, final look at them before their sentence truly commenced.
In that ten minutes in that elevator car, Presidents, Generals, Secretaries, and Ambassadors all showed their true selves to the world. Not all of them were dignified or serene, and some of them were quite surprising.
One former President begged and cried the whole time, offering to name more names and cooperate more. His wife, who'd been tried separate, and therefore rode up separate, just scowled, and only shed a tear towards the end of the ride. A previous defense secretary literally soiled himself the moment the doors closed, and curled into a mewling ball, and a former Vice President did nothing but curse everyone and everything all the way to the top -- especially his !@#$ of an ex-wife.
A General masturbated weakly into his cap, crying. A former, clearly-mentally incompetent head of the NSA broke down into near-incoherence, uncertain as to how he could even be here, right now, if nothing was actually true and real in the world but him. The officer in charge of NASA's orbital weapons tried to commit suicide by banging his head against the wall, and his direct subordinate recited as many poems as he could remember, or had time for.
He ended on "Invictus," which seemed quite fitting.
Only two of the condemned had found a way to avoid the journey. The head of the CIA -- who'd been the one who'd actually put the whole !@#$ world takeover together in the first place -- had suffered a heart attack on the stand, and died. But he'd done so just after naming the former, deceased President as the man who'd given him the final authorization to put it into place, and begging the world's forgiveness for ever having been so small, so stupid, and so short-sighted.
(Meanwhile, another, more recent Vice President actually found a way to turn off his artificial heart in his holding call, prior to being called out for sentencing. !@#$ing coward.)
The real surprise was that the President's immediate predecessor -- a man for whom he'd had little but contempt -- had comported himself with a simple dignity he hadn't suspected him of possessing. Maybe it was stupidity, and maybe it was just resignation, but he stood and watched the world go by with a child's sense of wonder, and only spoke to praise God and Jesus, and pray for the people of the world.
And then there was that man's father, and how he decided to handle it...
In spite of the moment, the President smiles, remembering. Maybe there was some solace in having ten minutes of stunning beauty to choose that one, final goodbye to the world, and finding a way to make it your own.
The others had gone up without knowing that their last journey from the Earth was being broadcast to every corner of it. Only the President knew, as he was expected to provide a meaningful capstone to the trials. And the lives of not only his family, but the families of all those others who'd been tried and sentenced before him were riding on what he did at the end of his ascension.
So he'd watched the others, late at night, as the Imago showed how their justice was carried out. And he'd readied himself, and began to decide exactly what he would and would not do, and would and would not say.
After that, there was just the wait for his own trial, in which he'd known exactly what he'd be doing and saying for more than a month.
And, following that, where he'd be going -- and how.
(SPYGOD is listening to Der Verfluchte Engel (Front 242) and having a Demo)