Suspicions Down Under
“Atheism is hereby recognized as a religion.” – Ruling of the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (pre-Rule of Law era), August 2005
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” – Attributed to Seneca the Younger, Roman stoic philosopher, 4 BCE - 65 CE
Western Europe fell to the Supreme Islamic Caliphate in 2065. Ibiza, Spain, that tiny island in the Mediterranean off the country’s Valencian coast, became the final stand of secular Spain against the Muslim invaders. There were heroic stories from every one of the twenty countries that the Caliphate seized in the war. Spanish resistance lasted longer than most of Western Europe, but it too lost violently. Those lucky to escape made it to whatever country would take them. Millions of secular Western Europeans fled to America, the Russian Bloc (which absorbed Eastern Europe), and Africa; but most Spaniards made it to Australia and named the city they created after that final battle for Spanish freedom.
The now thriving tek-city is home to not only Spaniards, but minority populations of Portuguese and Moroccans. It is a popular travel destination for the wealthy from the Spanish Americas (known as Latin America a half century ago), from Mexico to the tip of South America. Most notable today is the President of Mexico.
3:05 p.m., 27 May 2088
Stars of all colors reflect through the blackness: yellow, red, orange, blue, and white. The man looks up from his custom-made reflex hyper-scope; jet black hair, salt-and-pepper graying mustache and beard; casually dressed in an exquisitely patterned short-sleeved white shirt, tan pants, and shoes, his gold-plated e-pad clipped to his belt.
“We look at them with fascination even though what we see is an illusion,” he says. “The stars may all be dead, many millions of years ago even, the light being their only offspring to remind us that they ever existed. There was a nice Mexican poem we used to sing as children about the stars.”
Another man casually dressed in a black short-sleeved shirt with white pants and shoes stands next to him. “There’s a Mexican song for everything in the universe,” his guest says. Both men speak in Mexican Spanish with accents that reveal both are well-educated and city-born.
The guest notices something moving in one of the thick palm trees that shade the large outside patio where they stand. A bluish-gray koala bear hangs on the tree with its black clawed hands and stares at him with shimmering black eyes. Is it real or a robotic pet? Or is it a surveillance vid-cam robot masquerading as either? It yawns wide with its cute face and then refocuses on him. The wind blows, shifting the leaves and the shade, and for an instant it seems there are dozens of tiny black eyes all throughout the canopy of the tree watching him. The wind blows again, and the eyes and the koala bear are gone in the shade.
The man in white and tan now swings the gaze of his scope to focus on the city, though over five miles away, he can see the foreign delegates clearly. His palatial hillside mansion gives a beautiful 360 degree view for miles of the entire residential area of the tek-city, with its multi-colored homes surrounding the high-priced mansions littering the hillside. The towering steel and glass buildings of the tek city’s business section loom in the distance. He straightens up to directly look up at the halo, slang for a circle of drones hovering above a specific site, or, in this case, the visiting President of Mexico, the guest of the Australian President, with staffers and security detail at the home of some wealthy donor.
“The Americans, Chinese, and Muslims think there is no world outside of theirs. And we lesser nations do everything in our power to prove them right. A world summit without them is no summit at all,” he says.
Drones come in many configurations, but the ubiquitous ones are the “globe” surveillance models, twenty-inch-diameter flying spheres in a muted silver color, used by law enforcement all over the world to keep an ever-watchful vigil on the tek-city. The hover-tek of these sophisticated flying vid-cams is so advanced, they can hover or zip around more than a hundred feet in the air, allowing the government to continuously monitor tek-cities for any disturbance, crime, or act of terrorism. In halo formation, it is said drones can monitor billions of targets in the air and on the ground simultaneously.
He looks at the second man, Augustin. “What is it that you want me to say? I’m flattered you put so much confidence in our optics tek, but I can differentiate biological from artificial. That’s all.” He smiles. “The androids you see in the movies are science fiction, you know. No one can make ones that can fool scanners or even the human eye. No one can, man or robot—at least not yet.”
“I don’t know what I’m asking exactly.”
“Just that something isn’t right. You’ve known him since we were children. My dear Augustin, sometimes machines lie and your instincts tell the truth. I have never understood why people trust machines more than their own God-given instincts.” Agustin looks away for a moment. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone you’re religious. Only in America do they hunt religious people down like dingoes. Here in Australia, we only do that to Muslims and CHIN spies.”
“Any recommendations for me?”
“I can get my people close enough to do better scans, but I know your people have already done so. What are you going to do? Instincts, no matter how true, are not the kind of proof you’d need...” He gives him a deadly-serious look. “…to justify a coup.”
“You mean a civil war. My people will get the samples and the evidence.”
“If your suspicions are correct, all I can say, whatever is going on, the American White House is behind it.”
Long Island Expressway, New York City, New York
12:02 p.m., 4 June 2088
The real driver lies dead in the trunk.
Henry Ford didn’t invent the car. He allowed every American to be able to buy one and buy they did. Today, the car drives you. For the elite, hiring a driver remains a conspicuous status symbol. “Driving” simply means telling the car where to go, making calls, running errands, etcetera. A “driver” is nothing more than a “slave,” slang for personal assistant, who travels along.
In the back of the silver limousine, the boss looks at his hand-watch, one of the many fashionable, wearable devices available; a silver, dollar-sized, plastic circle affixed to the back of his hand, with the time displaying in four large silver digits. A young woman sits next to him, and across from them, are another two men, all busy at work on their tablets or e-pads. All four of them are dressed in some variation of a dark office-suit. A hard black partition separates the back passenger seats from the driver’s compartment.
Some eighteen years ago, author Ahn Droid wrote his seminal work, We Are Borg Now, about the merging of man and machine in modern tek-society. He didn’t speak of bionic people or cyborgs or any other kind of cybernetic tek, though they did exist even back then, but the inability of the average tek-city dweller to be without their mechanical device of choice, for even a few seconds. For most of the world’s population it is the e-pad, the descendant of the smart-phone of the past. The playing card-sized device of virtually no discernible weight simply never left the side of its human owner as it did everything. The tablet, colloquially known simply as a tab, is a larger e-pad of usually seven-inches-by-eleven-inches. Droid commented that these devices, along with their accompanying near ubiquitous ear-set, the descendant of the old analog phone and head-set, were the new mechanical appendages of the new quasi-cyber human race. This race would further evolve with ever bolder wearable and bio-integrated tek.
The boss touches his ear-set with his index finger to activate the intercom. “Driver, we need to move faster. I know it’s lunch-crunch traffic, but we need to get there at least thirty minutes before our appointment.”
The driver’s voice sounds over the speaker. “Yes sir, we’ll make it.”
The boss resumes speaking in Spanish on the phone via his e-pad: “Yes, sir. We made sure to land outside any major tek-city. We’re driving to the private airport now. We’ll get the deep-gene samples. Yes, we won’t let Centro know.” He refers to Mexico’s CIA, Center for Research and National Security.
The woman glances to the front of the vehicle. “The car has stopped.”
The boss touches his ear-set. “Driver why have we—” He is unable to finish his sentence as their bodies are violently thrown against the inside of the compartment like rag dolls.
The limousine is hit at over one-hundred miles an hour by a super-truck. After skidding down the road for twenty feet, both explode.
The driver, a square-jawed man, stands on the sidewalk watching it all happen. He wears dark shades and a black uniform. He is taller than average, with a very thick mane of hair and a rock-hard, ultra-defined musculature. Even his large hands, with porcelain, black nails, seems to be muscled.
He looks across the street and notices two young boys watching him. He purposely drove the limousine to a secluded back street. The area was supposed to be empty, but here these two boys are, out of nowhere. One of the boys was filming the explosion with his e-pad. He is now filming him.
The square-jawed man reaches into his jacket, takes out a gun, and shoots both boys dead. He walks across the street to the bodies and grabs the dead boy’s e-pad. He puts it in his jacket and speaks into his ear-set.
“Send the clean-up team. Primary targets eliminated, but two additional collateral targets.”
Oval Office, Washington DC
2:14 p.m., 4 June 2088
President T. Wilson stands in silhouette as he addresses his distinguished guests: The Presidents of Canada and Mexico. The two men sit attentively in facing chairs.
“I know my predecessors ignored your nations and your people. And your predecessors did the same when it came to the United States. Forget the Three Towers in New York City. As the leaders of the great North American continent, we must be our own ‘three towers.’ We have the duty and obligation to act as one against our mutual enemies…and sometimes even our own mutual allies.”
The Capitol Dome, Washington DC
8:34 a.m., 6 June 2089
Washington DC—the District—is neither the largest nor the showiest of the nation’s tek-metropolises, but it is the embodiment of pure, unfiltered power, and there are only two other cities on the planet (Riyadh and Beijing) that can boast the same.
Unlike all the other American tek-cities, the District is obsessed with maintaining the antiquity of its landmarks. The world famous Capitol Dome, designed by Thomas Walter, is still made out of its original cast iron and topped off by its Statue of Freedom.
The square-jawed man stares at the ivory white Capitol Dome building. There is something alluring about it separate from being one of the key seats of power in the nation. Maybe it’s the architecture; everything built today is so…unimaginative. People build buildings they think the people of the future should live in. The Capitol Dome is simple, non-tek majesty.
Executive Branch, Non-Public Off-Site Offices, Washington DC
11:13 a.m., 6 June 2089
The square-jawed man sits quietly on one of the many mahogany benches lining the dimly-lit, underground hallway. It’s been six months since the murder of the most powerful political campaign manager and “king maker” in American history, Lucifer Mestopheles (known by all as Lou), but it’s still the talk of the District. There is no shortage of sensationalism, debauchery, and lurid gossip in this town. Even the massacre of Palestine Israel, Muslims exterminating Muslims, only eclipsed his story for a few days in January. Millions of them don’t compare to Lou, who was instrumental in getting “God”, as President T. Wilson is known among the insider power elite, into the Oval Office.
Officially, the murder remains under investigation. Unofficially, it is being blamed directly on Jew-Christians. But he doesn’t believe it. The rumors run wild: it was the Muslims, either a lone, unaffiliated jihadi or the Islamic Caliphate itself; the CHINs, causing their chaos from the shadows; or even the Russian Bloc, who love doing things on a global stage just so you know they are still alive, no matter how pathetic or erratic the action. It could easily have been a random act of crime or maybe even a lovers’ quarrel that ended violently. Who really knows, except the people who did the murder.
He looks at his wrist-band watch with four large red numbers on its oval dial. 11:14. Forty-five minutes of waiting! They are never on time. But he already knows why he has been summoned. There is a bit of commotion as doors open and people stream out into the hallway. He sits back quietly, recognizing the security and intelligence community heavy-hitters in their dark office-suits as they exit the conference rooms for the elevators: the assistant secretary of state for the Western hemisphere, the assistant secretary of state for the Eastern hemisphere, the deputy secretary of state for the Americas, the deputy secretary of state for Asia, the deputy secretary of state for Africa, the deputy secretary of state for Eurasia and the Middle East.
“They will see you now,” a female voice says. Standing at an open door of the adjacent office is a middle-aged frumpy, but sharply-dressed woman.
She leads him into the massive, now empty, conference room and then to an inner office. She motions him inside, but doesn’t follow. The door closes.
“Please have a seat, sir. We’re sorry to have had you wait so long,” a man says.
He sits at a large desk. In a chair next to it is a blonde-haired woman who doesn’t even acknowledge his presence, as she taps on her tablet. He knows who she is: the director of the Homeland Defense and Intelligence Agency, the most powerful agency in America.
Presidents of years past had merged the nation’s Old Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, etcetera into one supreme law enforcement, border security, anti-terrorism, counter-terrorism, and intelligence-gathering organization. It isn’t just terrorists and criminals who were scared of its size, scope, and capabilities. The fear extended to even congress people, senators, governors, and the media.
“Do you know who I am?” the man asks.
The square-jawed man studies him for a moment with his wild, glistening brown eyes. “No sir.”
“Good. Do you know the Director?”
“Not directly, but I’ve seen her many times before.” As head of the agency she is simply called the same thing that the super-agency is for short: Homeland.
“I’m the President’s special advisor on strategic domestic security,” he says.
The square-jawed man nods. One of the perks of being President is you can make up whatever jobs in the White House, with any title you want, out of thin air, and hand the jobs out like candy. But all world leaders do it.
“Have you been read into Project Purify?” he asks.
“What are your personal feelings towards the project?”
“I fully support it, sir. There’s religious madness all over the world with the Caliphate. The Russian Bloc, Africa, Spanish Americas, here in America. At the end of the day, the only thing the American people want from their government is safety.”
“Exactly. It reminds me of the President’s speech at his third inauguration. His ‘Light and Darkness’ speech. ‘The human race is evolving into a New Enlightenment, beyond superstitions and religions. But it’s much more than being irreligious. Humankind, of a future today, will finally and logically rid itself in the belief of all fairytales, just as we did with the notion that the Earth was flat. Then the governments of the world can use their collective resources and intellect to create a great global civil society, a near-paradise here on Earth, rather than defending its people from those who would rather kill and die to go to an imaginary one in the sky.’”
The square-jawed man nods again. In politics, you adopt the “religion” of the people in power. He could care less about religious or irreligious. He is a Nihilist mercenary in the employ of the American government. He cares only about his job (violence) and benefits (money).
“Let me get directly to it. This year has not begun well for the administration. As you already understand, the most important duty of government is to protect its people, and we must never forget that. Nothing else comes even a close second, even above keeping the Grid stable and the Net forever-on. The President exerts much time, energy, and resources in the protection of the American people. Heading up our domestic anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism efforts of the project was an elite team of Vampires. Or so we thought. That team has been permanently disbanded. You and your Werewolf SS team will replace them. I am told you are a star within the special ops community. We expect you not to disappoint.”
One of the newer and officially recognized religions in Tek World is Vampirism; a lot more stupid, but a made-up one like all the others. A religion based on fang dental implants and permanent, yellow or red, eye contacts. How stupid indeed.
“I respect the confidence being placed in me, sir, but I am already heading up another important op which has had us on continuous duty all over the globe. We’re at a very critical point.”
“That project has been concluded, thanks to the efforts of you and your team. It has been duly noted in your file and already recognized as an impressive success.”
“Thank you, sir. May I know who the enemy foreign power directly behind the plot is?”
“The President will make that known to the American people in due course.”
“I’m sorry. That was an inappropriate question.”
“Not at all. Your curiosity is understandable. As for your new assignment, let me digress for a moment. In the pre-modern era, after World War Two, there was a common term used back then: the Cold War. It was between the two superpowers of the time, us and the empire that existed before the Russian Bloc, before Russia, called the Soviet Union. That Cold War could have, at any time, erupted into a ‘hot war’, the proverbial World War Three, with the very nuclear annihilation of the planet. It never happened. Instead, one day, the Soviet Union just up and collapsed without anyone on either side predicting it. There is a New Cold War today and the stakes are much higher. This time we have three global superpowers: us, the Muslims, and the Chinese. I never include the Indians, because it’s China, not India, that makes the CHINs formidable. There’s two wanna-be superpowers, the Russian Bloc and Australia, and two irrelevant continents, the Spanish Americas and Africa. My geo-politics professor at Harvard had a saying, ‘Don’t be Sue.’ ‘Sue’ wasn’t the female name S-U-E, but the initials S-U. ‘Don’t be SU.’ In the global game of musical chairs, make sure that when the tune stops playing, that you’re not the Soviet Union, that you’re not the empire that collapses with a puff of smoke, without the least bit of warning. To that end, America must remove any unneeded domestic distractions.”
The square-jawed man notices that Homeland is listening attentively too.
The President’s man continues, “We’re fighting this war every day. You know this better than most, being part of our super-soldier, special-ops division. Enemies abroad, enemies within. There is a tight deadline to get the project back on track, and the President himself will be watching. Based on the latest reports from the Terrorism Threat Work Group, he wants the focus increased on the entire Jew-Christian community, not just designated terrorists and persons of interest. All.”
“What about Muslims?”
“Not your concern. Besides, we can say joyfully that the Muslims seem to be more focused, at least for the moment, on killing each other, as we see with this destruction of Palestine Israel by the Caliphate. The American government is the best multi-tasking apparatus in the world. Your focus will be the Jew-Christians, dealing with that threat. We have actionable intel about planned future attacks and ongoing plots against the Homeland. We need to start whittling down the domestic chess board of threats. Why fight ten bad guys at a time when you can make it so you only have to fight one. Jew-Christians have killed and injured many government law enforcement, security, and intel personnel. The President wants direct action, and direct action has been sanctioned to neutralize these threats. He views this essential to his anti- and counter-terrorism domestic agenda. There will be many law enforcement and intel personnel involved at the state and national levels. However, you and your team will report directly to executive branch through us.”
“Sir, I’ve been in the business long enough to know that things don’t just happen out of nowhere when it comes to government. The Terrorism Threat Work Group says everyone and everything is a threat. That’s what they do. What’s the story behind the story here?”
The President’s man smiles. “You know why presidents age so rapidly when they’re in office? They know things, things most people on the planet will never ever be aware of in their lifetimes. We’re already fighting a world war of sorts, each and every day, on so many different fronts. He not only wants to maintain our global superpower standing, but elevate us to a status of the only global superpower. To that end, we cannot have any distracting factors, domestically.
“The Jew-Christian terrorists may live far away from our tek-cities, but the security threat remains. Local and state forces utterly failed to manage this problem and they had more than twenty years to get it done. This Office, through you, will take over. Target those where we still have undercover operatives in place, then move out from that center of work to neutralize the rest. These factions are all connected. America will not make the same mistake Old Western Europe made with its religious. Now, they’re citizen-slaves—those not killed—of the Caliphate that rose from within their own population. The President wants—no—he demands a solution of finality to the Jew-Christian situation.”
“I have full sanction to use whatever means necessary?”
“Yes, and you and your team have already been transferred to Special Services. Have you chosen a code name?”
“Agent Lycan, will there be any challenges to you faithfully executing your new job duties in defending America and its people?”
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