Notes of Randolph Scott, outlaw journalist
It's Halloween, tonight. But right now -- at 8 in the morning our time -- all the masks are on television, turning France into a wonderland.
Human blurs rebuild national monuments and apartment buildings. Dynamos on legs bring electricity back online outside the big cities. The sick and the wounded are healed with a touch, food sprouts from the trees along the sides of the road.
And above it all, streaks of color fly across the screen, like jets with shaded contrails, just one step ahead of the cameras' ability to zoom in and see their faces.
I've been watching this happen live, courtesy of a call from a source in Paris a few hours ago. I thought he'd bought it during the Occupation, given his tendency to stick it to whatever "Man" he could put himself in front of. But here he was, alive, and telling me I needed to tune into France 24 as soon as possible.
So I did, and I was watching as they interrupted their 1 PM news coverage to bring us what may the most important development in the half a month since the Imago were defeated: the rise of an organization that promises to use Strategic Talents to solve the world's problems, as part of an overture to an actual, working world government.
They're calling themselves the Terre Unifee. Their "interim President" is some short, stout, and impeccably-dressed fellow named Henri Valentin Geraud, who never goes anywhere without Tempete Bleu, who was France's best-known superhero before the Imago took over.
A small man behind a large, well-appointed podium, he talks with reverence about the amazing things his people are doing for France, here and now. He speaks of a place where want and need are outlawed, and wonders will be around every corner.
And then he makes an offer to the rest of the world.
"Join us," he says to the cameras, looking at each one in turn: "Let us put aside all past rivalries and hostilities. Let us clasp hands and celebrate our differences, instead of relying upon them to keep us apart.
"As one planet we have kicked these creatures to the ground, and risen up as one people. Let us continue to rise as one unified planet! Together, we can reshape the world into what it should have been all along, and not what the old powers, run by madmen or imperialists, would have has us believe was the correct configuration..."
That's about as far as I got before I started feeling very uneasy. Not only because I don't remember France actually doing anything, during that war, but also because, once upon a time, France was one of the old powers.
And as I watched these heroes perform miracles, and create a whole new world in front of the cameras and their disbelieving crews, I realized that I knew a few things about this that they, perhaps, did not.
I know, courtesy of SPYGOD, that France never had too many Strategic Talents to begin with, thanks to their Direction Noir being a joke.
I also know that, apart from that Tempete Bleu guy, and maybe one or two of the others, the vast majority of the ones I'm seeing in front of me are a complete mystery.
So where did these heroes come from? Where have they been all this time, especially when we needed them? How do we know they're going to stick around?
And what price are we going to pay for these miracles?
All the world's agog, and France 24 is claiming that the Terre Unifee already has ten would-be members calling Paris on the phone. And all I can think of is that, given what happened to our Vice President just yesterday, the timing on this is !@#$ suspicious.
And while part of me thinks that it's !@#$ing sad that I think that way, the other half knows better.
His name is Frank McGarrick. He's 47 years old, married with two adult children. He describes himself as a capital-C conservative (as opposed to a small-r Republican), a Christian, a believer in America's God-given special destiny.
And he's just shaken hands with a supervillain.
We're standing on the side of a hill in Northern Montana, right now. I can't tell you exactly where because, to be honest, I have no !@#$ing idea. We took the long route to get here, today, and when I'm done telling the story I'm going right back by a different route, just to make sure I stay ignorant.
Not Frank, though. He's come all the way from Santa Fe to be here, today. And he and his wife aren't leaving for anything, now that they've finally made it to God's Country.
Home of the American Secessionist movement.
So how did this man get here? It's a story that involves a small business, a world without guns, and a squandered chance to do things differently. It also involves an organized group of supervillains who've capitalized on what's been going on, hoping to offer something unique to people like Frank.
A place to do things their own way.
Back in March of this year, Frank ran a gun shop in Santa Fe. He describes his life as quiet and ideal, in spite of taxes and Federal meddling in his affairs. He admits he cheered when the President was apparently shot, as he was convinced he was ineligible for the office, given the "facts" of his overseas birth and "Unamerican" parentage.
(He does, however, refuse to believe that he was a secret Muslim, as so many of his friends at World Net Daily did. I'm sure the President is glad for such kind considerations.)
Then the Imago came, and he was put out of business. Their ban on guns meant he had no livelihood, anymore. And he says he'll never forget the vapid smile on the blue and purple spaceman that had come to tell him in person, acting like he was doing Frank a favor.
He complained at first, of course. You don't just run a business for twenty years and then walk away from it with no feelings. He thought of protests and organizing, maybe marching all the way to what was left of Washington D.C. with all the other deprived gun store owners and traders and letting these "outer space faggots" know just what they thought about their rules.
But after a time he realized that he didn't care as much as he thought he might. Like so many others, he soon became content to watch TV over the internet, participate in milquetoast debates over the course of the nation on what was left of his old, conservative haunts, and enjoy the new job the Imago had given him.
He'd been victimized, just like the rest.
Once the War was over, and his mind came back to him, Frank was understandably furious. He wanted to grab every gun he could get his hands on and deal with the Imago personally. More importantly, he wanted to re-establish a stronger, better America, where no one would ever take them over, take their weapons, and leave them stupid and pacified in front of a literal idiot box.
And that desire would require a Second -- though some, like Frank, say third -- American Revolution.
He was far from the only person who wanted that, but his ideas got no traction. Most people were simply grateful to be free, and, thanks to the deputizing of America's Strategic Talents -- and their massive relief actions throughout the country -- no one was starving or deprived enough to be desperate enough to attack the government.
What was a capital-c Conservative to do? Frank decided to throw in with the secessionist movement, which was a major improvement over the old one, as he likes to tell people. Now they've got momentum, and purpose, and a real sense of what can happen when the government drops the ball and lets their country get taken over by outside forces.
Before, the threat was just some vague boogeyman. Now the threat had a face they could attach to it. And it scared the !@#$ out of them that this could ever happen again.
And that's why he's up here, in God's Country, shaking hands and getting set-up directions from a man who, at last count, has at least ten warrants out for his arrest for everything from bank robbery to murder one.
That man's name is Richter Scale, as in the Richter Scale. At some point in his teens he learned he could cause localized tectonic events, just through touch. He probably should have done the "right thing," and turned himself in to the COMPANY for testing, evaluation, and -- one hopes -- a snazzy uniform.
But he could only see dollar signs, fast cars, and women who would actually talk to him, provided he had the other two.
Along came the Legion, who snapped him up well before the COMPANY could get there. He spent 40 years with them, pulling heists and doing whatever they wanted him to, so they he could turn around and do whatever he wanted to do in his own free time. Mayhem, murder, team-ups, pitched battles in the streets of Anywheresville, USA -- everything, all the time.
Four decades of supervillain hijinks, just so he could have his memory wiped, and retire somewhere warm and sunny on money he couldn't remember making. Down in the tropics, surrounded by hot cars and hotter girls, wanted and desired at last.
Unfortunately for him, SPYGOD got tired of dealing with the Legion, last year. He brought them down like a stack of cards. Erased their political connections, destroyed their ace in the hole, put their leader in a medical coma. And suddenly Richter Scale was off the leash and without a cent.
But connections are connections, which bring us to this sad thing I'm watching here.
How many secessionist sympathizers are in the American intelligence community? More than you want to know. Most of them are just the crazy crank down the hall who works for a body that serves a thing he hates, and all his hate talk goes nowhere because, frankly, neither does he. He doesn't get promoted or advanced because no one likes him or trusts him, and he's kept around just to keep an eye on him, and make sure he doesn't do any damage.
Or maybe to have someone to burn, if it goes that way.
But every so often a smart little turd manages to swim in the punchbowl long enough without being noticed. He keeps his !@#$ty opinions to himself, until after hours, and uses what he knows to keep them hidden.
And, after getting enough promotions, he turns whole departments septic and brown.
These turds clump together and have meetings and get-togethers. They attend rallies incognito and make deals in back rooms. They shake hands with people who should be in jail, or shot on general principle. They put arms, cash, and materials into the wrong hands, hoping for the right results.
Which is why, thanks to certain elements of the CIA's old domestic spying program, and what was left of the Legion after the organization tried to burn itself down in self-defense, and SPYGOD !@#$ed on the flames, those persons who want to create a sovereign nation, right here on US soil, now have a place to go.
And this is quite the layout, I have to say. From here I can see impressive, ultra-modern armaments on the wooden palisades, like some alternate-history retelling of fights between cowboys and Indians. Inside I can just make out log cabins with satellite dishes and gun emplacements, and a few other things here and there that speak of technical superiority and heavy firepower.
And everywhere you go, some big, old man or woman who used to be an Operator for the Legion -- back in uniform, again -- is on patrol, making sure their new guests come to no harm.
They're not letting me in the palisade. They know my connections, and what I might do, or what I might say to those connections. But they wanted me to come here and talk to the people who are going into God's Country, knowing that it's going to be their last, great hope to stand against the One World Government that's coming.
(After what happened to Israel, I don't hear any talk about ZOG, anymore. I guess that's a small blessing.)
So I talk to people like Frank, and his friend Charlie, and their wives. I hear them tell me about how they hope their kids will join them, up here. I bite my tongue when they go on about how the world's now a lot less safe than it was before the Imago took it over, because at least we knew they were evil.
I shake their hands and wish them well as they turn to go. I do so knowing all too well that the next time I see them it'll be when I come here to report on the aftermath, and walk through the morgue. Because when it gets out that there's a separatist colony, up here, I have little doubt that Federal weight will be brought down on it.
And even in its weakened condition, there's enough firepower behind that weight to turn this place to matchsticks -- villains or no.
No one should have any illusions, here, and yet everyone's full of them. This is the answer to so many hopes and dreams that so many people have had for so long. It's a perfect little secessionist snowflake, floating down from heaven out of the clear sky.
And nothing is perfect, especially when it comes to things like this.
So it doesn't take someone like me to see that there's an angle, here. Someone is playing these people like camouflaged vioilins. And either their death is inconsequential, or just part of the plan.
I think about all that as I greet another pair of sacrificial doves, all kitted up in duck hunting gear and M-16s, and get ready to wade through another pile of bull!@#$ from the damned.
(SPYGOD is listening to Lost In Battle Overseas (The FIXX) and having a Bitter American)