So, we were talking about how the spy game actually !@#$ing works, the other day. And I told you about having things on people, and !@#$ like that.
You remember that, son? Or are you still scared some dog!@#$ing punk with no brain, a !@#$ longer than his arm, and more guns that Al !@#$ing Capone is going to hunt you down, eat your skin, and bang your skull because you got hold of his sister's favorite marble?
Well, put that fear aside, son. Bloody Dogkill street's long-since gentrified. Now you're in more danger of being hit up by yuppies selling Civet Cat coffee than what used to go on in that place.
(Or maybe it's gotten worse. Ever tried that cat butt stuff? I'm still tasting it, years and years and ten million beers later.)
Anyway. That !@#$ about the fine art of blackmail, threats, and cooperation? That's only half the story, son. Because while it's one thing to have something on someone, you can't !@#$ing blackmail your allies into doing what you want if you actually want them to be !@#$ing allies, as opposed to people who will turn around and !@#$ you in the back with a very large knife the first chance they get.
No, son. For that, you need something different. You need favors.
Yes, son. Favors. As in "Do this for me and I owe you one." Or "I will do this for you, but I'll ask for something in return, someday."
Or, even more rarely, "Now we're even."
It's a dangerous game. You need a lot of memory and a !@#$ good sense of bargaining. But if you can keep it all down in your little black book, you'll be ahead of the game.
Especially when you can combine favors and threats into one tasty package...
Now, you got all that? I mean, I know it's a lot to !@#$ing take in, son, but what do you expect? There's a reason us superspies make the big !@#$ bucks. Or get to !@#$ing steal them, anyway.
(But that's another big !@#$ story for another day...)
So let me give you a perfect !@#$ing example of how this all !@#$ing works. And that would be the tragicomic tale of one Faraj al-Ǧazāʼir. Would-be Moroccan astronaut, accidental interplanetary revolutionary, space pirate of the Viridian Sea, the greatest nemesis of the Emperor, the current head of our new Space Service.
And the last man in the Solar System you want to !@#$ with, after yours truly.
How he got to be where he was, and is now, is a quiet little story with loud !@#$ing consequences. It also perfectly illustrates what a massive cluster!@#$ the international superspy game can be.
It all starts in the mid-60s, when our friends in ABWEHR decided to hook up with people who !@#$ing hated Jews as much as they did. This meant making some inroads with various governments in Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, and some of those folks were !@#$ing stupid enough to bite.
Now, some of these relationships would never quite get off the !@#$ ground, thanks to Israel finding out and kicking !@#$. And some would eventually have severe !@#$ing ramifications, especially in Libya, and some eventually bled into things like the Yom Kippur War.
But some of them went right the !@#$ under the table, because, to those countries' credit, they decided to take what their new Nazi !@#$buddies had given them and did not advertise it, nor get really deeply involved with any heavy !@#$ that came after.
That's what happened in !@#$ing Morocco, for example. In the 50's and 60's, they were buddies with the !@#$ing Soviet Union, mostly because everyone else was. After that, they kind of swung our way, if only because they wanted better trade partners, not to mention better !@#$ing weapons.
But, all along, they maintained a number of alliances with creepy !@#$holes, if only because it worked out to their benefit, and it made them a lot of !@#$ing money. And when they got caught, they could always claim they were shocked, shocked to find out that super villain bull!@#$ was going on in their country.
(You do know Casablanca's in Morocco, right? Just making sure, son.)
So, one of the wedding presents that Morocco kept, post-divorce with ABWEHR, was the functioning start of an actual, for-!@#$-real, !@#$ing space program.
No, really. I'm sure you knew that some of those mother!@#$ing Nazi scientists had some amazing !@#$ ideas on getting into orbit, and beyond. But you may not have known that not all of those folks got snapped up by Operation Paperclip, grabbed by the !@#$ Soviets, or shot in the back of the !@#$ head at the end of the War. Some of them actually made it out with ABWEHR, and their researches continued, just along slightly different lines.
Well, the Moroccans wanted to go into !@#$ing space. And if they'd managed to make it work, using ABWEHR's tech, they'd have cleaned up pretty !@#$ well. Especially if the Silbervogel spaceplane worked as advertised, and they could deploy a payload during the flight.
Oh, that surprises you? You think that NASA, the ESA, and the Soviets were the only major players in the outer space game? Think the !@#$ again, son. There were bunches of folks trying their hand at the table. It's just that we were the only ones who had any real !@#$ success, for one reason or another.
I mean, !@#$, son. You know about the Space Race. You know about the probes, the satellites. The Moon Landings. Alpha Base Seven. You even know about Deep Ten, rest its massive soul.
But there's tons of !@#$ you never !@#$ing heard about. Big !@#$ science that was not done by
governments with rational, well-funded research divisions. Reckless experiments by high-science weirdos, all tweaking the !@#$ boundaries of the possible
And occasionally they'd find some gold, up there in the black, but more often than
not they just crashed and burned.
I mean, you think
the early American space program had some really big !@#$-ups during
the testing stages? You should have seen some of those poor fools who
thought they could fly to Mars or beyond on a literal wing and a
!@#$ prayer. There's !@#$ing dozens of dead spaceships floating between here and the
outer and inner planets. Silent eternal graveyards in space, their
crew flash frozen in the moments between life and death when something
went horribly wrong.
Or worse. Much worse.
So just imagine, son. Imagine a reusable spaceplane that was actually based on sound, scientific principles. Imagine it being accelerated up to speed by a rocket sled, and then using its own engine to get up into the deep blue sky. Imagine it skipping across the atmosphere, tossing a satellite up, and then coming back down half the !@#$ world away.
Imagine us having that kind of technology in the !@#$ing mid-70's, instead of having to go through that sorry, expensive farce with the !@#$ing Space Shuttle for all those !@#$ years.
Well, that's all well and good. But come the late 70's, when Morocco managed to put all the !@#$ pieces together, no one was really wanting to see them come out on top. Especially not Israel, considering that Morocco had helped out during the Yom Kippur War.
So, as soon as Israel realized that this country was about to beat it to the stars, not to mention beat America to having a reusable suborbital spaceplace, they decided to !@#$ing do something about it.
But here's the problem. Israel could do a lot with what it had. Unfortunately, it needed to do it quietly, so as to make whatever it did look like a massive !@#$ing accident. The kind of mishap that sets a space program back years, if not decades.
So sending Supers over to smash the Silvervogel? Not going to !@#$ing happen. And they can't sabotage it on the ground, thanks to some talents the Moroccans had watching over the program. And they can't blast it out of the !@#$ air on the way up or someone might !@#$ing see.
No, son. In order for this !@#$ to work they needed to blast the !@#$ing silver bird out of existence while it was out of our atmosphere, and skipping along to its destination.
Now, Israel does not a !@#$ing space program. However, it has understandings with various organizations that do. It's got us, of course. And it's got the !@#$ing Space Service, which is mostly us. And it's got the COMPANY, too, and MI-10, Direction Noir, and anyone else involved in the !@#$ ESA.
Now, the ESA people all beg off, mostly because they want to see this !@#$ thing work and buy the tech, so as to steal a march from NASA, which is still having a problem getting it's !@#$ing Space Shuttle off the ground. NASA's keen to stamp on this !@#$, too, but they're not going to make a !@#$ recommendation until they see which way the Space Service is going to !@#$ing jump.
But the Space Service? Get this, son. They say no.
Why? Well, I doubt it's because they wanted to take the high road (stop laughing) but they do say that, if they started shooting at !@#$ing humans, instead of alien invaders, no one would ever be able to !@#$ing trust them again. That and they did not want others to learn what kind of weapons capability they ahd.
And they were !@#$ right to be leery of that, as we've since learned.
Now, that leaves the COMPANY. And, given a chance to stomp Supernazi !@#$, however removed, you know I'm going to leap at that !@#$. Normally.
But here's the thing, son. At the time, the COMPANY was in a bit of a !@#$ing match with Israel over turf. Israel's two major spy organizations, HAGANAH and Molchanie, were at cross purposes over what to do with a certain other science criminal organization. And while we really could have just !@#$ing settled the matter over a few drinks and a good argument, the two groups were not wanting to talk to each other, but rather around each other, using the COMPANY as a go-between.
So I was pretty !@#$ing sick of them, by then, and decided to try and use the issue as a big !@#$ bargaining chip to get to the table. And I figured it'd work, right? I mean, it wasn't like they were going to go to the !@#$ing Soviets, were they?
(And, yes, they did. But the Soviets told them to suck it up, too. Go figure.)
Well, they drag their !@#$ feet, and eventually stop calling me. So I figure they're playing hard to !@#$ing get. And the time to the launch gets closer and closer, and I'm wondering if I'm going to have to kick !@#$ all by myself.
However, the Moroccans get wind that something's !@#$ing up, somehow. And they bring the launch forward a whole !@#$ week, which if you know !@#$ing anything about space travel is just !@#$ing unheard of.
At or around 6 in the AM, local time, they strap Captaine Faraj al-Ǧazāʼir into the cockpit of the Silbervogel. The preflight checks are rushed though as quickly as possible, the area cleared by force and fire. He waves once and smiles, saying that he's as ready as he's ever going to be, and all systems are go, go, go.
So they hit the big !@#$ red button, and the rocket sled takes off. They travel at ridiculous !@#$ speeds until they get just below where they need to be !@#$ing going. And then Faraj somehow presses the !@#$ button to activate the ship's own rocket engine. There's a burst of white-hot fire, and the ship flies off the sled, nearly straight up into the atmosphere.
It goes up, up, up. Faster and faster. The light blue of the desert sky turns into indigo, and then into black, and Faraj becomes the first Moroccan to see the stars from outside the atmosphere.
Only then, something goes terribly wrong. There's a flash of light, brighter than the Sun. A ring of fire floats in the upper atmosphere, just about where the Silbervogel would have been.
And, so far as anyone knows, the ship is lost, and Faraj al-Ǧazāʼir. is dead.
What happened? Well, son, you remember me telling you about el Wedjat? The Mukhabarat's occult secret police? The kind of people you call when the !@#$ing Sphinx wakes the !@#$ up and starts munching down tourists?
Well, remember this was just after the Camp David Accords, son. This was when, after years of being !@#$ing enemies, Israel and Egypt were going to try being peaceful neighbors, again. And that opened a number of diplomatic options back up, not to mention a few back-channels.
So yeah. When we were stalling, and they couldn't !@#$ing agree, HAGANAH got in touch with el Wedjat. They explained the situation, and their people agreed that they didn't want any !@#$ing supernazi tech in space.
Plus, getting one over on a former partner in the Yom Kippur War would make certain there was no question that Egypt was now on the side of the angels.
So they had one of their more powerful ceremonial magicians do... something. !@#$ if I ever knew what, or ever will. All that we know is that it was supposed to make it look like the ship blew the !@#$ up at the most critical point in the mission, setting the Moroccan space program back enough to give NASA the breathing room it needed to make the Space Shuttle a reality, and everyone else enough time to deal with the ramifications of what just almost !@#$ing happened.
And it worked, but not without consequences far beyond what they !@#$ing thought...
Yeah, more on this later. I need another !@#$ing beer, and you look like you've had your mind blown enough tonight.
Because if that was some crazy and complicated !@#$, what happened next is going to turn your brains to Moutabal. And !@#$ am I hungry for some of that stuff, right about now.
(Unfortunately, we can't order out, anymore.)
(SPYGOD is listening to Silver Bird (Mark Lindsay) and having a Flag Speciale)