Sunday, November 11, 2012

9/12/12 - Commit the Sin, Commit Yourself

" ... was the scene from Pontianak, yesterday, at 4 PM local time. Residents were stunned by a loud explosion, followed by a sound that witnesses described as screaming metal.

"They came out of their homes and businesses in time to see a seemingly-small portion of the Space Elevator wrapped in flames, and then ran for cover as it began to crumble and break at that point, and slowly fall down.

"The tower fell in keeping with the Earth's Eastward rotation, so that its staggering, 100 mile length came crashing down to the West.

"The tower was made from a special, transparent, heat resistant metal, so it did not burn up in the atmosphere as it fell, nor did it crumble under its own weight as it came down.

"As one giant, super-steel tube, it fell to the Earth, striking down on the fields, hills, and rivers of that part of Indonesia.

"And the roar it created as it fell, and as it hit, could be seen for hundreds of miles around, and heard for even wider distances -- at least as far away as Hong Kong, by some accounts.

"Fortunately, loss of life was minimal, as there was nothing in that area except for the Imago's mostly-automated receiving station, which takes, sorts, and transports the many things that a unified humanity makes in order to safeguard Earth against the threat we all face.

"Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the New Pattani United Liberation Organization, a group of Islamic radicals primarily operating in Southern Thailand, who were thought to have been mostly wiped out by a government crackdown in 2006.

"So far, the Imago have only broadcast a single message in response to this terrifying incident: DO NOT BE AFRAID OR ALARMED. EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL.

"Already, witnesses claim they have seen 'legions' of Imago floating about the ruins of the space elevator, seemingly preparing to fix the massive damage done to it, and raise it up above the clouds once more...."

* * *

Applause and cheering erupts at B.A.S.E.C.A.M.P. 4. as they watch the pirated -- and non-brainwashing -- video for the first time. There's dancing and hugging, laughing and tears of joy.  

(Winifred surprises Myron with a big hug and a kiss, and after a second or two he doesn't seem to surprised or worried about it.)

"How did this happen?" Mark asks the people back "up top," in Toonland, once the cheering dies down a bit: "Does anyone have any idea?"

"We don't, no," Fred replies through the communicator: "We checked in with Freedom Force, but they're at a loss, too."

"Well, I can tell you it wasn't New Pattani," the Green Man snorts, shaking his head as the announcer repeats the story: "Not without a lot of help, anyway. I worked a bit with Thai Intelligence before the coup. Those fools couldn't blow up a schoolbus, much less a thing like that."

"And you'd know all about blowing up schoolbuses, wouldn't you?" Mark replies, to which the pale fellow says nothing -- wheeling on his heel and leaving the room in a huff. On the way out he almost bumps into Myron, who's left the room in quite a hurry, his face red as a beet.

"He does have a point, my dear," the Fist says, leaning in to speak quietly: "I did work with Egyptian intelligence, and their data on that group was quite extensive. They were a fourth-rate outfit at best. So either something has changed, or someone helped them, or..."

"Or someone used them?" Mark completes the sentence, finally able to decipher her mostly-hidden facial expressions through voice alone, given that she covers.

"It would be his style," she offers: "I think I heard him say 'I use the enemy' on more than one occasion. And it is not bad strategy, to kill two targets with one bullet."

"Fred? Did you catch that?" Mark asks: "Do you think it's SPYGOD, come back at last?"

"Could very well be," Fred says: "I don't know if he's back yet or not, but we've seen how his plans work."

"Well... what does he say?" Mark asks, not willing to say too much about the mysterious figure in their lives.

"He's not saying anything, actually. He smiled and took off. So either he knew, or this wasn't very surprising."

"And that's not very surprising at all, is it," Mark sighs: "Any news of what's happening now?"

"No, they just keep repeating this. I guess the Imago couldn't just sweep this one under the rug, so we're getting it looped."

"It's !@#$ darn to hide when a 100 mile space elevator falls down and goes boom," Myron adds, running back into the room with a big bottle of champagne: "I was saving this for something, but..."

He looks around the room, realizes how many people there are Muslim, and smiles sheepishly. The Lion just laughs and waves him to come in. "We will be happy with some juice, my friend. On this day, all drinks are in celebration."

Everyone laughs, the drinks get passed, toasts are made and thanks are given. Strategy is discussed and amended. New plans are made, new timetables proposed. Hope doubles in size.

And, by the end of the evening, no one has any better idea who may have actually done this, though they all hope it's who they think it is.

Some remark, later, that Myron and Winifred are quite inseparable throughout the celebration, and leave earlier than the others.

A few also remark that Green Man stayed quite clear of everyone for some time thereafter, though, given his sour disposition -- and the bad news he got, the day he arrived here -- that's not so surprising.

And a few remember that the otherwise-convivial Man Of Steel was not anywhere to be seen throughout the entire thing -- almost as if he'd been in hiding for some weird reason.

* * *
O peoples of the Earth, hear us.
We send this to all the people of the world,
in all ways you speak to each other,
so there will be no confusion, no misunderstanding.
No mistake.

O peoples of the Earth, we bring sad news,
For as you have seen with your eyes, we have been attacked.
Our space elevator has been cut down by dangerous persons,
interrupting our shared efforts to protect the Earth.
Protect you.

We regret having to show these things to you. 
We know that these things must shock you, and scare you
and make you wonder if we, the Imago, can protect you at all.
We realize this must erode your confidence in us.
We are sorry.

But you can rest ensured, O peoples of the Earth,
for we Imago are not so easily harmed or destroyed.
These terrorists may have brought down a single tower,
but they cannot touch us in our entirety.
They cannot.

Do these misguided and sad people know what they do?
Do they believe this is the right thing, to condemn Earth to death?
Do they feel we are evil, or that they know more than we do?
Or are they in league with the threat, ever-oncoming?
We don't know. 

But you can be assured that we will find out their reasons.
We will hunt them down and bring their leaders to justice.
They will see the error of their ways, and work to fix that mistake.
No one group will be allowed to harm the whole.
Not by us.

And you can rest assured that the tower will soar, again.
Even now, as we speak, we Imago work to put it back up.
It will rise as high as before, and be twice as strong.
This moment of darkness will soon be eclipsed by bright light.
You will see.

So do not fear, O Peoples of the Earth.
You still need fear no evil or darkness, for we are here.
The trials of the present will bring the joys of the future,
And all you truly need is love.
Let us soar. 
* * *
The Asian Imam screams as his brains boil inside his skull. The metal thumbs in his eyesockets record all the details, big and small, of his life, until there's simply nothing left to remove. And then -- his mind an empty, ashen slate -- he's dropped to the white, plastic floor of the small, tent Mosque, twitching as his nervous system collapses upon itself. 

The Imago that killed him -- Light Green and Purple -- stands upright and regards his gauntlets, slick and red with dark blood and other bodily fluids. He also regards the many bodies on the white, plastic floor he's floating above, all with their eyes pushed in, their sockets smoking, and their brains turned to smoldering powder. 

He floats out of the room, over the corpses he created. Already, the floor is lapping up the liquid and solid waste products their deaths have generated; given time, they'll break the bodies down, too, though he suspects the workers here will see to their burial long before then. 

Provided the Imago leave any alive, today.

Outside, in the main thoroughfare of the tent city that houses the population of Thepha, in southern Thailand, he can see that his fellow Imago are not being very gentle. Black and Dark Green has just finished interrogating a dormitory for young, single men, and his hands are even bloodier than Light Green and Purple.

"No one knew anything of consequence," Black and Dark Green reports: "The names of the men who died in the plane are unknown to them. Many of them were sympathetic towards, or knew members of, that organization, but none of them knew anything about this attack, nor anything that could help us in the search."

"None of these men knew anything useful, either," Light Green and Purple says, gesturing to the mosque: "The Imam was morally opposed to sectarian violence, and told his people not to get involved in it."

"Apparently, his reading of their Holy Book is at extreme variance with the interpretation that this organization seems to follow."

"Not surprising, given Human history. Would we achieve better results by threatening the children?"

"No," Black and Dark Green says: "They would merely consider them to be martyrs as well. And when we failed to carry through on the threat, they would see too much."

"True, on both counts," Light Green and Purple says: "Proof of how truly wretched humanity is." 

"It is nothing we do not know by now," Black and Dark Green says "I look forward to The Day."

"The Day," Light Green and Purple repeats, sharing in the reverence: "We should erradicate the rest of these people. They will not serve us, now."

"I will see to that," Black and Dark Green says, rising up to do just that.

"And I will sync with the Leader. Perhaps others in other work camps are having better luck."
 * * *

They weren't.

In every tent city, and every non-resettled population center in Southern Thailand, the Imago were asking questions, and no one could give them any answers. All their victims could "say" for certain was that while they may have had their own feelings or sympathies towards that group, or any other such group, they did not know anyone involved in the attack. Which was sad, seeing as how, in the end, the Imago had to exterminate every work camp they interrogated, and they interrogated many work camps. 

Five million people dead, just like that.

* * *
Their quest for the truth took them to Bangkok, and the headquarters of the Internal Security Operations Command. Their contacts there were a little more forthcoming, especially after the first thing that Blue and Vermillion did was to crush the skull of their leader while he was trying to introduce his new assistant, and then demand that assistant give an exact accounting for the whereabouts, activities, and technical expertise of the New Pattani United Liberation Organization.

But in the end, all they could say is what was already known. The group was a splinter group of another splinter group, and had proven themselves to have much more bark than bite. After their leader had been shot and killed in 2006, and many of his lieutenants captured, tried, and executed for their crimes against the state after then, the remainder went underground. And they did nothing more dangerous than pray, plan, and trip over their own ammunition and shoelaces.

"So you mean to say they have been out there, all this time, and you have done nothing to them?" Blue and Vermillion asked the assistant to the assistant to the assistant, who was the only person still alive in the room by that point.

"Sir, you must understand," the man said, trying not to show his fear: "Such a group is useful from an intelligence standpoint. They can be used to watch overall movements within a larger terrorist network. By observing them, and gently working to counteract their major goals, we can keep tabs on other, more dangerous groups. We can even infiltrate them, if necessary, and set up crossfires and accidents."

"So you mean to say that you had them under surveillance this entire time?"

"Yes," the man says: "But so far as we knew, they were planning nothing of this caliber. I think they were going to assassinate an Imam who tried to get his flock away from violence, but that was it. And it was so badly-constructed a plan I do not think we were even going to intervene."

"Then you have been fooled," Blue and Vermillion said: "And your foolishness will cost you."

On his way out of the office-turned-abattoir, the Imago turned to the assistant to the assistant to the assistant to the assistant, who hadn't been in the room because he'd been in the bathroom, and then wisely decided to wait outside. The little man stumbles before the metal being who whirls on him, about to plead for his life, but halts in mid-prayer as the stern face smiles upon him.

"I have good news for you, O friend," Blue and Vermillion says: "You are now the acting head of Internal Security Operations Command. We shall inform your leaders of this change. And your first duty is to make the finding of the New Pattani United Liberation Organization your primary objective.

"You will see to this?"

"Yes, yes," the small man stammers, trying not to !@#$ himself: "At once, sir. You can count on me."

"Good, O man," the Imago says, patting him on the head with a hand still sticky with blood and filth: "They could not. I feel you will."

And then he's teleported away, leaving the small man to collapse to his knees, suddenly very grateful for his touchy digestive system.

* * *

Later that night, in a dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong, there's something of an odd disturbance. 

People would tell the police that a white man entered and had a few courses. He spoke decent Chinese, with an American accident (New York, someone thought) but people could not quite place him, visually. It was as though no one who saw him could accurately describe any feature of his that could make him stand out from their general idea of what a white man looked like.

He'd been there an hour, and had several course, and more than a few beers. It was odd that he didn't return the flirting of the young ladies who served his table, much less the friendly conversation from the old ladies who trundled the food carts across the floor. He was not drunk or sullen, but seemed preoccupied, as though he was waiting for news.

He received a message on his pad, and when he looked at what it said, he went rigid, and then began to shake. He got up and walked to the men's room, and locked the door behind him. And for the next ten minutes, every person in the entire building was scared utterly !@#$less by the rapid-fire barrage of curses and screaming that erupted from there.

("You dirty !@#$holes," "How could you?" "Five million people!" and "I didn't know!" seemed to be the four key phrases, but "I am going to !@#$ you to death! All of you!" stuck in one waitress' head.)

The police arrived after it had been quiet for a few minutes. They kicked down the door, but the man was already gone; he'd apparently shimmed out a window that he shouldn't have been able to fit through. On the sink was how much he owed for dinner, plus a sizable tip, and another pile of money that was clearly meant for damages.

(The mirror over the sink was smashed, doubtlessly punched in. There was no blood.)

What could the police do? They told the owners of the establishment to be grateful he'd paid his bill, and said they'd get back with them. Past that, all they could do was put out an APB for a white man with no description, and chalk it up to another strange night in Kowloon. 

And when the surveillance camera logs were checked, and they found out that the video could not focus on the man's face and eyes -- so that their computers could not identify him at all -- they kicked it upstairs, like they were supposed to, and went back to rousting easier crimes.

When you have to police eight million people, sometimes living with desertion is all you can do. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Other Voices (The Cure) and having a Sinkiang Black Beer)

No comments:

Post a Comment