Dane started it. Remember Dane? Oliver Dane, the “outsider”, the “ businessman” who was running for president of the United States back in the day? A lot of people believed in him. A lot of people who didn't usually pay much attention to politics were going to vote for him.
And then he quit.
Oh, he had ample and adequate reason to quit. He would have been a fool not too. His life was probably forfeit if he hadn't quit. The “entrenched authorities”, The "vested interests" had too much to lose if he ran…and heaven help them if he won. They’d have HAD to kill him. Or buy him off…and he didn't look to be buyable. No one knows if or what kind of threats were made to him and his family
So they drug his name through the dirt…shamed him in public and before his wife, family and church…….and he quit. He didn't have the gumption of Sally Pugsley.
Then again maybe he did…because she had already quit. Twice. A lot of people were depending upon the both of them and when neither ran it turned into “Politics as usual” and a lot of those same people didn't see the use of bothering with politics, or the election…any more. The smart one's bought more guns and ammo. It’s a shame really.
That election was possibly the last chance to stave off the collapse. It was possible….not likely but possible…that an honorable person who knew what the hell he or she was doing might have put the US’s financial house in order in time to prevent the collapse.
But that didn't happen. Honor is damn hard to find in the District of Corruption. It was politics as usual. The elected Rinos pretended to resist the DhmiKrats but everyone knew it was a game. The Rinos were Dhimikrat - lite. They were really gelded, invertebrates pretending to be Rino's. The country rushed toward the cliff. It came as no surprise to many when it finally went over.
It’s been said…..“When the US get’s a sniffle, the rest of the World Gets Pneumonia”…and that’s a fact. This time the US got Pneumonia and the rest of the world went into cardiac arrest.
When the US’s economy crashed (with a twenty trillion dollar debt and six hundred trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities… and with an economy strangled by government regulation….…, how could it NOT crash? ) ….the rest of the free world collapsed also. This pulled the economies of Not-So Free world over the brink also. Like it or not it had been a Global Economy,........HAD been.
It became a Global MeltDown.
The Religion of Peace was more than willing to help things along. It saw the collapse as an opportunity sent by Allah. Some evidence existed that some Jihadists had been instrumental in causing the MeltDown. Didn't it all begin with 911?
Except for a few places …. Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Canada… and a few others.…….the rest of the world reverted to…barbarism. Somalia writ large, warlord heaven and gangster rock.
When the US economy crashed….the “forty seven percent”, in the US (more in Europe and elsewhere) who depended on Government payments….(Job? What job?)…. were suddenly without an income.
It began to get hungry by and by. They had no skills but violence, and they weren't really good at that. Bullies only pick on the helpless. There were no jobs anyway.There were no jobs for the uneducated who had no skills. There were no jobs for the men who beat up women for a living and lived off the women's welfare check..and their children’s. The corner liquor stores, all the convenience stores, most of the other stores that were easy to rob, were burned out or vacant. The owners had either died or left. It became Detroit all over.
So…. They invaded suburbia.
Bad move. Much of Suburbia was prepared for them…armed and ready. Since the Twenty Oh Eight Election in the US , gun sales had skyrocketed. Over one million guns a month had sold and more continued to be sold, along with millions of rounds of ammunition. This continued right up until the economy tanked. The welfare class found themselves outgunned.
There were no Police and no liberal Court system left to protect them. All that had gone the way of the corner drugstore
It was an ugly time. A lot of people died. Justifiably so since many had been "needing killing" for a long, long time. Sow the Wind and Reap the Whirlwind the old saying goes. Tragically there were a great many people who didn't deserve to die but were in the wrong place at the wrong time ….and were unprepared.
Political Correctness died. It wasn't missed.
A great deal of the Government died. It was long overdue. A lot of fat and deadwood was eliminated from society. There could be , and have been, whole books written about the deaths (sometimes torture) of government officials during that time frame. Many people thought it was time and past time. SOME people made a hobby of tracking down former government officials. It was ugly and messy and never should have happened. Corruption brings it's own reward in the end.
After a few years it was over…and after a decade or so….Without oppressive government intervention in daily life… business picked up and carried on. Without the overbearing government watching their every move there were some abuses…sure…but there were JOBS. People, at least people in the US went back to work. Commerce started up and life resumed.... in the Free States. The American Caliphate was a different story, as were the BorderLands.
Technology and innovation began once more to feed upon itself. It was a chain reaction. The standard of living increased beyond all dreams of avarice in the Free States. The Second Republic of Texas led the way.
On a modified drilling platform in the Texas Gulf
He drifted. The pretty colors. The shapes…..all the symmetry. Hmmm….something was not right there….an “offness”. He puzzled. No matter how he looked, shifted and turned…it was off…
And so he “woke up”….from the total sensory immersion of virtual reality. He’d been trying to develop a new explosive. He wanted a VERY powerful explosive... Beyond Octa-nitro-cubane. IF he ever got it right he might even name it. He thought the word Cataclysmite had a nice ring to it. But so far he hadn't got it right. Something was wrong. He just could NOT bring the right…..
“Dammit Tex” said Dirksen Howard to his cat. “I can’t for the life of me understand how to fit ……” and he went off on a VERY technical rant regarding carbon chains….ring atoms…valence bonds, strained connections, hydrogen and fluoride and various other chemical esoteria.
Tex just nodded….and licked himself on the butt.
Dirk suddenly stopped and looked closer at Tex. “hmmmm” he said. “What I need is a different perspective”
Tex had a different perspective.
Tex jumped down and ran away. He knew that tone. He also knew that it did no good to run. Shortly he would experience aggravation. Not pain…not exactly…but a not-right-with-the- world-ness. It had happened before and he preferred to postpone the inevitable.
No good. Dirk caught him.
“Hmmmmmmmm” said he Dirk. “We might just have something here Tex”. Tex didn't say anything. Tex was unconscious. He’d just been prepped in order to undergo a “minor” surgical procedure…brain surgery actually, Tex was now wired into an apparatus. Wired and intubated It was actually kinda hard to see cat what with all the machinery.
The procedure WAS minor…so far…they hadn't got to the ‘good” part yet...and considering the tools and techniques that Dirk had at his disposal then just about anything up to and possibly including an organ transplant might be considered minor. This was research though…never knew what might happen.
Dirk wasn’t worried. Tex was possibly his best friend and he’d never do anything to Tex that he wouldn’t do to himself. In fact…he HAD done the exact same thing…to himself…just moments before he’d done it to Tex. It was merely an injection. However that which had been injected could be termed “exotic”.
Dirk settled back into his chair…and began to attach various tubes, wires, patches and other things to his person. It was a Strange Chair. It looked a lot like something Torquemada might have used. Or a mad dentist. Or a mad dentist on crystal meth’s gift to a cosmetology class. In fact Dirk thought of it as Torquemada’s Chippendale. The chair had all the proper gadgets, gizmos , electronics, high pressure air and water , drains and tubes, inputs and outgoes and what ever else might be needed. It was even computerized. Actually it was HIGHLY computerized. If it didn't have it…then additions could be made. Maybe that was the reason the chair looked so…….bizarre. Tex’s was the same only catsized....and more coffin like.
Dirk was comfortable in the chair. He should be. He had spent many, many hours in it. …and now he set about business. Using the appropriate mechanisms, biofeedback, mild sedatives, hypnotics and other arcane procedures he put himself into a deep trance…and entered a virtual reality. Virtual Reality was his workshop so to speak. He got a LOT of work done here. This time it just so happened that he was working on his and Tex’s brains. Mentally he was apart from his body and buffered by extensive cybernetics. Dirk examined the specific areas of interest in his and Tex’s brains and , using the previously injected micro and nanobots, he performed extensive parallel exploratory brain surgery and surgical modifications upon himself. He was stealing from the cat.
Some of the modifications were very intricate…much was almost at the molecular level….all in all it was very complex, and immensely interesting. He kept at it for days. This was made possible by the fact that the plumbing of both his and Tex’s “chairs” nourished and took care of hygienic needs for the both of them, and the trance state he was in altered his mental state. In other words he didn't need to sleep and fatigue was handled more effectively than when he was “conscious”.
Point of fact. Dirk would rather be in virtual reality than plain reality. It was much more interesting.
He must have done something right , or at least nothing seriously wrong, because eventually they both woke up.
Sometime later Tex was helping himself to a big bowl of “stinky food”, and Dirk was sitting nearby talking to him.
Dirk muttered while he worked.
"Alrighty Tex. We'll just let the surgery heal properly. I'm betting that when it's healed I can visualize that hi-explosive molecule better. You have neural structures running your vision that I don't have so I copied them and implanted them in my head. Soon I'll be able to visualize like you can. Hope it works"
He was the only one on-board and he had gotten used to talking to the cats. There were several cats. The big black one, Tex was his best friend. There was also Okie an Evil Siamese, to whom Dirk was nearly as close in a much different way than his relationship to Tex.., and then there was that bitch kitty Hillary who he hadn't shot yet just because he was worried about what the bullet might hit if he missed.... a Persian who wouldn’t give him the time of day. He thought he’d even seen a sphynx....although THAT was improbable....and there were many more. Dirk didn't bother to keep track of the cats too closely, actually most of the cats were feral....they’d come with the “real estate”. Hard to believe but where people go so do rats and where there are rats then cats can make a living. Still, how did rats get on an oil platform?
The rats were definitely there…and so were the cats..and the cats controlled the rats.…and some of the cats were his friends. He didn't think too much more about it other than making sure that the cats had plenty of water, food and litter boxes.
Dirk was a radical. He always had been. To make things worse he was also a genius...and a polymath, unfortunately as his long departed wife had once said he “didn't play well with others”, mostly. Even when he was young he chafed under the yoke of authority, Especially when he was young.
Even though Dirk WAS a radical life’s fortunes and circumstances had forced him to deal with government and their organizations. Fortunately for him he got to kill people. That helped relieve the stress. Nothing says “fuck you” quite like a nine millimeter between the eyes. He got to do that a lot when he was younger. Supposedly it had been for a good cause.
Now he was getting older more brittle, very cynical ....and very tired... so he tried to stay out of fights. These days he expressed himself in a different fashion. He had a new “job” with a new outfit and he expected to have a lot of fun.
It was nice not to have to worry about money. He’d spent his early years in the military before circumstances had allowed him to vanish. After that he’d always been short on money.
Until he won the lottery. Funny that. He’d never ever bought a lottery ticket and yet he’d wound up winning a really, REALLY large lottery. Hundreds of millions. It turned out that some folks from his past were involved.
There was an organization that was even more underground than the government agency that had designed him. The organization was ancient. Really, REALLY ancient. Like so old that the Catholic Church was considered an upstart.
The operative that had recruited Dirk and he had had a nice little drunk one night in an undisclosed location and had explained the DEAL to him. Dirk was fairly intelligent for all that he was a cynical curmudgeon. …and he was angry. Not really angry at the world, just a fairly good portion of it. Mostly angry at governments.
It had begun when he was young, when a government agency had more or less built him. It wasn't Dirk's fault that the government agency wasn't american. He was a designer soldier. Nothing changed when was liberated as an infant from the bad guys.. He was a soldier by design so he went to Viet Nam…did his job…got shot…spent some time in a hospital overseas, and came home to be vilified. That didn't hardly seem fair.
Dirk had thought he was totally divorced from his past.
He’d lived discreetly for years after Vietnam, he thought. Apparently not. DF had found him and had sent a recruiter.,
Dirk had listened to what the recruiter had to say. It was a sweet deal. Dirk accepted. Suddenly he had some money and an organization of like minded people who wanted to try to do something about the present sorry state of the world. If everything went to hell what was going to happen. He was going to die, maybe?
Dirk wasn’t completely sure but he was pretty certain that he’d done that already. Died that is, or come really close. It was no big deal anyway. Dirk figured that since that day in the rice paddy he was living on borrowed time.
Defender of the Faith had made him a deal he couldn't refuse, and sealed it , if not with a kiss, then with a whole lot of money and the promise of really interesting work. He got to do what he did best, besides kill people and break things. He got to build things. No real restrictions. Lots of money too, and he didn't have to work at the money part...just the “build stuff” part.
That had been several years ago. During the interval from then to now he, and Defender of the Faith had accomplished a LOT. For one thing he bought several oil platforms. It surprised him how relatively inexpensive they were. It was surprisingly inexpensive to have a company that normally built cruise ships remodel the oil platforms to suit his needs. Not many cruise ships being built apparently…not since that election. He guessed they needed the work.
The Non Statistical Fusion Reactors he’d had installed in all the platforms had been fairly expensive….they took a long time to ‘grow’. Lucky for him that Defender of the Faith had a great many available 3D printers of sufficient resolution. . Defender of the Faith smoothed the way though and everything went ok.
After the remodeling …he’d researched, built a LOT of stuff and bought some more stuff. Some of the Oil Platforms were now resorts for rich people, as cover. A few were ...other things.
But that was then and this was now. Now Tex (and himself) were recovering from brain surgery.....so it was incumbent upon Dirk (he thought) to “make nice” to Tex.
Dirk had often wondered why the cat food companies didn't market a catfood named/flavored ‘CatButt’....as much time as cat’s spent licking their own butts...and as much as cats like really STRONG smelling food.
Oh well...mom and the kiddies might object. Doubt the cats wouldn’t care. Who was he to talk about strong anyway. Heh...he remembered that time young Ed Strangler had just about come unglued when he took a sip of Dirk’s coffee. Did he ever howl.....
….Dirk liked strong coffee...with Chicory. Who’d a thunk someone with a name like “Strangler” was a sissy.?
“Tex” Dirk pondered “...your butt licking is what gave me the idea. Just as I mentioned , ‘I need a new perspective’ , you licked your butt. How much of a different perspective is THAT? Heh....as that youngster, Strangler would say... that thought was a gift from God.”.
“ When you emphasized the ‘different perspective’ that was all there was to it. It was but the work of a minute’s introspection for me to realize that you and I are different.” he blew smoke in Tex’s direction.
“Yup Tex . Although we both are classic examples of the superior male of our respective species” Dirk said...patting his ample beer gut” we ARE different species. I’m a human...you my dear buddy...are a CAT”.
Tex looked at Dirk as if he were demented.
“Oh it’s true” Said Dirk...” Hard for you to believe ..but true none the less. Being a cat you DO have different perspective. Depth perception, senses of kinesthetics, color and much more. People can’t match you for that.”
Dirk sat and smoked for a bit more...” so I stole it”.
Tex kind of narrowed his eyes while looking at Dirk...almost as if he understood what was being said....
“yup..I installed micro, almost a nano, sized organo/synthetic neurological synaptical.....” and Dirk was off to the races. What it boiled down to was that they each now had radio transceivers in each others heads, many, many, many radio transceivers..... as well as a very great deal of other equipment. The added equipment being necessary for…
…....well he wasn’t quite SURE what it was all going to be necessary for....but he had high hopes. It was certainly going to be different....and fun too.
Back to the “drawing board”...but first he added a slug of whisky to his ‘coffee’.
“ah” Dirk thought...”now that is so much better. move that radical sequence there....move this one here.....”
A few hours later Dirk took the Torquemada Chippendale’s helmet off and rubbed his hands together. “I think I’ve got it Tex. In fact I think I’ve got a few things. A VERY, VERY potent high explosive not the least of it.
Dirk leaned back in his chair. It was a regular chair and not his “Torquemada Chippendale”. That monstrosity, although immensely useful, tended to put people off their stride. He wouldn't have minded putting Strangler off his stride but it had been some time since they’d talked in the flesh and he rather liked the guy.
“Lessee”...muttered Dirk as he scrolled down his “phone book “ list...on his computer. “Ah...there it is..”Sgt.Ed Strangler”.
Dirk punched in the code and then leaned back taking a puff on his ceegar. Presently the screen cleared and there he was....Sgt. Ed Strangler…
“HiYa Ed.” said Dirk...” how’s things? Is this a bad time?”
“Not really Dirk. What ya got?” Said Strangler.
Said Dirk. “It’s like this...regarding that ‘memo’ I sent you a month or so ago....”
Defenders of the Faith.
<a short time earlier..somewhere in the Continental US.>
Recruiting Sgt. Ed Strangler grunted, put his feet up on the desk, and took a sip of coffee. Strangler’s coffee was so black and thick, it was rumored to have been used to waterproof tents in the field. Which was a lie. It would have dissolved them. He rubbed the top of his shaved head vigorously with his right hand, then brushed the ends of his thick, black mustache up, first right, then left, then right and left again. Any one of his men would have known the signs. Strangler was deep in thought. The vertical wrinkle between his heavy black eyebrows would have worried them even more. He was planning something. The sudden smile crinkles in the permanently sunburned skin around his black eyes would have sent them off to clean and pack their gear. When Sarge got An Idea like that, it was not going to be pretty. Or pleasant. But it was most assuredly going to be interesting.
“Hoffmeyer!” Strangler shouted over his shoulder. The flimsy door to the back room opened, and a short, muscular guy wearing an army green muscle shirt and fatigue pants bloused over his paratrooper boots came out and stood at attention. His hair was cut in something resembling a quarter inch high Mohawk.
“Yeah, Sarge?” Hoffmeyer eyed the level of coffee in the three gallon carafe on the hot plate. It wasn’t even down a quart. Nope. Not that.
“Lemme see that last memo from Higher. The one about the “enhanced surveillance mechanisms”. And get me some more coffee. Gonna need it.”
Hoffmeyer paled, as much as an AmerIndian could. “More coffee, Sarge?” He looked at the carafe again.
“You deaf, Hoffmeyer? Do I need to send you to Medical to get your hearing tested?” Hoffmeyer could almost see sparks coming off Strangler’s mustache.
“No! More coffee, Sarge! And the memo, Sarge! Right away, Sarge!” Hoffmeyer sprinted into the back room.
Strangler repeated the head rub and mustache grooming. He swallowed his coffee in one gulp, and a beatific smile crossed his face. This might just work. About that time the “phone” rang.
Sgt. Strangler, in his dress uniform, with his cover under his arm, stood at attention in front of Col. McLaughlin. McLaughlin, meanwhile, was reading the report that Strangler had just handed him. Steel gray hair and eyes, darker eyebrows, in a weathered face that at one time could have been described as the map of Ireland, McLaughlin was man enough not to be embarrassed by the wire-rim glasses he needed to read. He had one of the most perfect poker faces Strangler had ever seen.
“Huh,” McLaughlin’s grunt could have meant anything. He looked at Strangler over the wire-rims. “You work this all out yourself, Strangler?”
“Sir, no sir. The memo came from an “old friend” of mine about a month ago. A little while ago he called me. We had a little talk and it occurred to me this might fit in with what Higher was contemplating. Sir.”
“This memo? The one you attached on the back?”
“Yes, sir.” Strangler felt a small bead of sweat form under his mustache.
“And you worked everything else out, yourself?”
“No, sir. The two of us did together sir”
“Oh, at ease, Ed! Sit down and talk to me!”
Strangler drew the first deep breath he’d taken in the last twenty minutes, and let it out slowly. Thank you, God! He knew that he’d risked his stripes, and more, dumping this on the Colonel’s desk without any warning.
“Take off your tunic, and I’ll get some coffee in here,” Col. McLaughlin said, unbuttoning his uniform. He pressed a button on his keyboard. “Gutzman, bring coffee service in here for Sgt. Strangler and me.” He glanced at the time. “And rustle us up some supper in about half an hour. I think we’re going to be at this a while.”
The Colonel then looked Strangler in the eye. “Ok Sargent...you have my attention. What has Dirksen Howard got for us?”
The Colonel and the Sergeant talked very late....and drank much, much coffee between them....and had another meal. In fact it was sunup when the sergeant left the colonel’s office.
The Command structure of Defenders of the Faith was … unusual. There was the Guy In Charge (GIC) – a retired US Special Forces General. Directly under him, but advising him closely, were a retired Royal Navy Admiral, a retired US Air Force General, and a retired Royal [equivalent of Special Forces] – they each designated as the Guy Next to the Guy in Charge (GNGIC). They tried to make their decisions unanimous, but GIC could and would break stalemates. The other unusual thing was that they started each strategy session with prayer, and spent a lot of time pouring over the Bible while making decisions. It seemed to work, though, as their men would, quite literally, march into Hell and take hostages if ordered – while at the same time knowing full well that their lives would not be squandered.
GIC Lucas Niemann looked at the other three men in the room. They’d finished the Invocation, and all four turned their attention to their other “guest”.
“I’ll give you this, it’s never been done before,” GNGIC Trevor Bannister, Royal [equivalent of Special Forces] Ret., said, addressing the final member of the meeting....Dirk.
Dirk was telepresent and incognito. An odd looking pseudo robotic device spoke his words, moved it’s head as if it were his head, moved it’s body as if it were his body....et cetera. , it was his Avatar. Dirk was perhaps thousand of miles away...or maybe
in the building next door....no one in the room knew exactly where.
Bannister stretched his hands behind him so far, that his back popped. “There’s a certain elegance to it. But a lot depends on the range and payload those things are capable of.”
They were studying the interactive world map projected onto the underside of their Operations table. The various hot spots were highlighted with pulsating circles, larger for more dangerous, smaller for mere property damage. Red meant within the last 24 hours, through orange, yellow, and down to brown for over a week old. As always, there were far more than the DOC could hope to cover.
“Let’s get the little stuff out of here, and just look at the murders,” GNGIC James Baker, Gen USAF, Ret, said. He touched the screen and set it up to filter only for the spots where Christians had been murdered, or raped or kidnapped because of their faith. There were still far too many flashing circles.
“This one,” GIC Niemann said, pointing to a red pustule in Syracus New York, in the American Caliphate. “Close enough for sea support. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are being killed or dragged off to slavery. This is the one we focus on.” He touched the screen and it switched from map to video. The four men watched, grim faced, for a few moments, until GIC Niemann blanked the screen. “That’s enough. We know what they’re doing and what it looks like.” He looked at Bannister. “Trev, figure out what we need, with enough redundancy to not get caught short. We need somebody fluent in the local languages, of course. New Yorkers talk funny. “ He then turned to the Avatar of Dirk...”
Do you think you can actually help us ?
“Oh I don’t think you’ll be disappointed” Said Dirk’s avatar. “in fact I can think some significant improvements right now.....that map of yours...and the surveillance system....well here’s what I can offer you”...
“I have this gadget I call the wraith of god..WOG for short...cute name huh? And then there are the War Dove’s. Beyond that I have quite a few different types of pseudo arachnoids and insectivora...” he paused…
Bannister , and all the others...were quite puzzled. Those that didn't have their mouths hanging open were perhaps a little glassy eyed?
“Let me show you”...said the Avatar and began a presentation.... a picture appeared on the video screens...an oil platform was visible in the misty waters.
It was late at night, the water was glassy smooth and the moon reflected from the water...here and there a patch of fog curled upon the surface. Suddenly there was a ….flicker...from the oil platform. It was mostly silent since it was a coil ‘gun’ launch. The “barrel” of the gun was thousands of feet long, extending as it did almost to the sea floor. The electricity used to power it came from an on-board nuclear reactor. The only sound was that of the canister breaking the speed of sound. There was no flash...no smoke...merely a sudden flicker as the canister sped upwards almost too fast to even register upon the human eye.
The canister would go straight up…up….arcing up past the edge of space…then , when there was no air resistance and it coincidentally reached zero velocity...just before it began to fall back toward earth....it unfurled. The payload was interesting.
The payload had been made by a molecular manufacturing machine. The machine “printed” matter in three dimensions at the molecular level. It used atoms and molecules as building blocks. Inside a vacuum enclosure a “printing head” moved at high speed back and forth on a computer controlled trajectory. Similar to an inkjet printer only instead of ink it ejected molecules. By means of carefully controlled magnetic ‘pinches’ as well as other chemical and physical forces the molecules were forced into the desired configurations. Some of these configurations were rare in nature. Some of them were non existent. In fact some of them were said to be impossible.
Gradually, over the course time a ‘wraith’ was printed. When it was all done it didn't look like much, a long thin tube that was pointy on both ends, encircled with copper rings spaced evenly from one end to the other. That’s what it looked like… in that configuration, but almost every molecule, every atom, was in it’s proper place and had a specific job to do.
As mentioned at the top of its trajectory the rod unfurled…, or perhaps it blossomed. What had been a long thin cylinder was suddenly a gossamer net. It was a very LARGE net, hundreds of yards on a side, but only hundreds of molecules thick, except for some lumps. It was a VERY hard to see net. It had intentionally been designed to be hard to see. All sensing wavelengths, including visible, passed right through it. No return, since it was composed, mostly, of plastic with but a very,very small amount of various types of metals.
The function of the wraith was a combination communication and spy satellite. Instead of being in orbit, however, it floated, in the air, at the very top of the atmosphere, many of its components being hydrogen buoyancy cells. It was powered by sunlight. It communicated by encrypted spread spectrum laser micro-bursts and it worked its magic by a network of phased array antenna. It could, literally, read the writing on a golf ball from anywhere in it’s line of sight. It’s line of sight was very long considering how high up it floated.
There were a great many wraiths by now, they had floated and drifted to locations all over the world, they were holding station by means of tiny electric, solar powered thrusters.
“That’s your surveillance system gentlemen. It can be expanded as need be. With it you can monitor selected areas 24/7 even in inclement weather.”
“ I think you might find this interesting as well”
The video screen changed....it showed what at first glance appeared to be some type of bird.
The war doves were about the size of pigeons. The robot bird acted just like a real bird. It's flapping wings was powered by a form of plastic that expanded and contracted like a muscle when an electric charge was applied. This charge was acquired from sunlight by the use of embedded photocells all over the upper body and wings. This electricity was stored in supercapacitors and state of the art batteries. . Portions of the war dove were inflated with hydrogen which helped it stay aloft thus lessening the power requirements. A War Dove could cover any distance in the same time that birds could. It would fly into the night until it's batteries were exhausted then drift and float until sunup. With the return of sunlight it would acquire power and fly on. WarDoves could also be air dropped via multiple platforms....such as long range cruise or intercontinental ballistic missiles ,...air bursting over the area of interests.
“The war doves are a combination of cargo carrier and intermediate communication relay. They relay real time Command And Control to their cargo via the WOGS.” continued Dirk’s Avatar “ I can devise and produce a large variety of micro drones as their cargo...what I can’t do is control them. It’s going to take a large number of “kids playing video games” to control them.”
“If this works,” Baker said, drumming the fingers of his right hand, “it’s going to change our entire way of doing things.”
“ Oh I think you can be assured of that” said Dirk’s electronically altered voice from the avatar.
“Let’s pray it does work, then,” Niemann answered.
Launch the War Doves
The Second Republic of Texas has no law against private war. It's constitution is much the same as that of the old USA and has a clause about letters of marque and reprisal.
Texas doesn't make war. It will defend itself vigorously. When Texas retaliates it does so in overwhelming force and stomps the enemy flat.
If there are any survivors a Texas Ranger or two will go in and kill them. Usually it’s one Ranger one Riot. The Texas Ranger then goes home drinks beer and eats bar-b-que. Don't mess with Texas.
However, some individuals and organizations think that the encroaching Caliphate should be stopped. They are doing something about it, on the individual level.There is one particular old and secret christian organization that is actively waging war against the Jihadists.
Texas has no problem with that.
A Mother's Fear.
<Near Syracuse New York, in the American Caliphate>
The mother held her daughter to her. She was afraid. The mob on the other side of the town square was getting louder. The mob was composed of young Muslim men…she and her daughter were Christians.
She and her daughter had left their home and walked to the market to buy food. Had they known of the mob they would have stayed home. She and her daughter were presently out of sight of the mob but that might not continue to be so if she moved or the mob moved. She was afraid.
Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, on a converted oil platform, Dirksen Howard responded to a shrill siren. Instantly moving even though he was barely awake he didn't even bother to dress other than putting on a pair of shorts and a thick robe. He swung into his powered wheelchair and was rolling down the hall before he was even fully awake. He grabbed a cup of hot coffee from the always full coffee machine and snapped his mobile chiare into his “command” slot in his war room .
There was no one else on the rig other than cats. He had a particular affinity with two of them. One was big and Black and they’d hooked up when the cat was a tiny kitten, while in Texas, so he called it Tex. He also had an evil looking if smaller Siamese that had acquired HIM years later while he was in Oklahoma. Consequently...in a fit of originality...he called the Siamese “ Okie.”
Dirk picked up the phone and tersely said “Go.”
“We have a situation...coordinates have been sent....please prepare and execute “Mary One” “ Said the electronically altered voice on the line.
“Gotcha” Dirk said....and the line went dead.
“Mary One huh?” he thought. “not too bad as a first test of the system.” ...He typed in a code from his command station and in the depth of the oil platform various devices and mechanisms began to move. A projectile was loaded with various sub-munitions The codes from these sub-munitions were queued into a command message and prepared for transmittal. It didn't take long because, obviously, for something to have a code name, such as Mary One, there was a programmed response.
And thus it was that within a very few short minutes a projectile was being lowered toward the load chamber a few thousand feet below the platform.
Things might get tricky if there were anyone around to witness what was happening...but there wasn't. Nothing was within several hundred miles according to Dirk's Radar. Several hundred miles was just great. No one would see anything from just several miles away much less several hundred...but the more the better. The projectile reached the end of it’s travel and slotted into place. Amber lights became green lights and his board was good to go.
Dirk rechecked everything one last time and pushed the “go” button. Somewhere within the bowels of the platform a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor spooled up from idle to max output. A very efficient system involving an Anderson Cycle Turbine and multiple array’s of supercapacitors begin to power up. Within seconds the relatively small LFTR was pumping out Megawatts of electricity that were being soaked up by the Super-capacitor Arrays much like a sponge would soak up water. After a few seconds a certain tipping point was reached and the super-capacitors begin to discharge according to program.
Down below at the bottom of the several thousand foot coil gun... the projectiles was snatched by magnetic forces and leaped upwards at a horrific acceleration. The projectile exited the top of the drilling platform with a high pitched
as it broke the sound barrier ....and vanished from sight instantly. This particular projectile was en-route to one of the armpits of the north east, some town in New York State. It exited the atmosphere and sped along a ballistic path .
Simultaneous with projectile launch the activation codes for the sub-munitions aboard were beamed to DF. What DF did with them Cord didn't know. The manufacture and launch of various devices was his job....and that was it. What happened later he didn't know. He'd designed, built and delivered a weapon. How it was used wasn't up to him.
Dirk had a letter of marque and reprisal from Texas and as such was a known factor to the appropriate Texas Agency. Dirk had sent the that Agency a heads-up about the launch, as well as continuous updates. The agency therefore did not send counter-battery missiles down Dirk's launch tube nor intercept the projectiles when it became evident that they would overfly Texas.
The launched projectile, in fact, did have to overfly Texas. It re-entered the rarefied upper atmosphere. Air resistance slowed it and as it fell to earth.
Entering the denser atmosphere it was further slowed by air resistance and ablative heating. It lost tiny bits of itself in controlled burn off and ablation. It extruded small control surfaces and glided directly toward it objective. The projectile was extremely unlikely to have been spotted by radar since there was no rocket plume and it was almost entirely metal free. What little metal they did have were in sophisticated electronics. If sighted visually, at night during re entry, they looked almost exactly like a small shooting star.
Upon arrival over it's targets the projectile disintegrated. Hundreds of pieces drifted earthward.
Some of the pieces were remnants of the projectile’s body but many were it’s cargo. The cargo was War-doves All of the pieces except for the war-doves evaporated shortly afterward.
When released from the confines of the projectile the War-doves activated. Some portions unfolded and some portions filled with buoyancy enhancing hydrogen gas. Shortly it was as if a flock of medium sized birds were gliding down towards the small town...
A Different Class of Drone.
BaaaRaaaap!!! Whoooop!!!!Whooop!!!! Battle Stations....Battle Stations. Group One Report to Battle Stations. This is NOT a drill. BaaaRaaaaap!!!! Whooop!!! Whooop!!
Crashed out over the loud speakers.
Defenders of the Faith Battle Station One went active. A mission had just began. Everyone stopped what they were doing until the substance of what was being broadcast was assimilated then all but a few went back about their business. Those few literally dropped anything they were holding and took took off like scalded cats toward their assigned stations.
Several of the Drone Controllers literally slid into their consoles at almost at the same time and quickly began donning their respective equipment. When they were done they pretty much looked like helicopter pilots. They were each wearing a full sensory virtual reality rig and sat behind consoles that were designed to control any of a number of different remotely controlled vehicles.
In front of the rows of consoles and mounted high enough for all to see was a large video screen. On it was a view of an up rushing landscape. It was a picture from the nose camera of the descending canister. It appeared that the canister was still at a hundred thousand feet or better but descending rapidly.
Hurriedly the drone controllers downloaded the data that had been transmitted relative to that descending canister. They checked the connections and calibrations on their assigned machines, they input codes,they rapidly run down checklists and reviewed video synopsis’ of the mission.
Many of them prayed.
Coool...this was a pure “kill the bad guys” mission. Nothing fancy. Anything carated by the mission designator was to be obliterated. Easy.
The young woman and her child were discovered by the Muslim boys who were pretending to be men. She despaired. The last time a Christian woman had been caught alone by Muslim boys the woman had been raped and killed. What would become of her daughter? The boys approached.
Overhead strange a peculiar birds circled. None were noticed by anyone in the village. Birds were a normal occurrence These birds were not normal.
Seventy Two Virgins
There WERE seventy two girls on the team and there were hundreds of teams, one per war dove. The girls certainly weren't virgins. They had all been raped when they were young girls or even children. Aafreen was a perfect example. She had been raped when she was twelve. Gang Raped. After that she had almost been killed by her father. Her father said that she had brought dishonor to their family and tried to murder her.
Actually it wouldn’t have been murder. So called “honor killing” of a rape victim was perfectly legal under Sharia law according to the Mullah. Luckily for her she was a disobedient girl and with the help of some friends she had managed to escape her father, later the town, and much later the state. Through an unlikely series of actions she was now a member of DF. A drone controller.
And she had a bone to pick with that Mullah.
Bone? Heh...the Free Staters had such interesting slang. Bone indeed. That word could be used in so many ways. As in “had a bone on” or “had a boner”. If her plan worked this guy would never have a boner again.
The Team was observing a Mullah harangue a crowd of young men. This guy was positively frothing at the mouth. He was using such terms as “daughter of Satan”. “unclean whores” and much worse. Best she could tell he wasn’t referring to any woman in particular...just women in general. Moving away from the main crowd a group of boys had spotted some women and were approaching the terrified females.
The war dove canister had been launched, had completed it's flight and was in atmosphere. The sub-munition delivery systems, the war doves, were over crowd. Shortly the WD’s would drop their payload of gnats. Aafreen was a gnat controller this mission. Her and the other seventy two members of this WarDove Team.. A WD could carry a LOT of gnats. When she used one up another gnat would be available.
The WD’s drifted directly over the crowd. A multitude of small insect sized micro drones were ejected from dorsal ejection ports and drifted down toward the ground. Some of the gnats alighted on clothing, some in hair. They all found a human target. Aafreen managed to steer her gnat so that it landed on the Mullah. One more insect, he’d never notice. Not only did he have lice the Mullah probably had ticks. She maneuvered the Gnat under his clothes and directed it toward his groin. Yup..he had crabs too. Good thing the gnat didn’t relay smell...he’d probably never bathed in his life.
“Sir, Drone forty seven ...is in position” Aafreen relayed to her WarDove commander. An amber light on the commander's 'board' turned to green.
One after the other the other girls signaled that they too were in position. More and more amber lights turned to green.
When WD commander's board was all green made a final query. “Every one behind a scrotum?”...he sniggered.
"yessssss" came his reply.... He initiated.
The Mullah was in mid rant when his eyes bugged out, he reached for his groin with both hands and he began screaming. As he screamed he curled around himself and fell to the floor. He lay on the floor in the fetal position. He writhed and screamed. A pool of blood spread from under his body. He eventually stopped screaming and stopped moving. Throughout the crowd many, many of his followers did likewise. The men over, fell to the ground and curled around themselves and screamed. They screamed till their throat was raw. Sadly some of them would survive, for a while. A surprising number lived. They would NEVER rape another woman...nor father any children. Many would suicide.
A fraction of a gram or so of the new cataclysmite wasn’t much and couldn’t do extensive damage...but when it went under a man’s scrotum it pretty much canceled any hope he had of ever having any more children. Or peeing without a catheter. Or walking.
When it was over, back at base the team hooted and whistled. Tonight they would party.
The mother was amazed. What had just moments ago been a very hostile crowd of young men was now a field of agonized, writhing, screaming, moaning bodies. Many of which had stopped moving. The ground was red with blood.
Life was good.