Monday, September 16, 2013

Illuminoimia Ch 11: Two Lies

In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It remains a seminal work of conspiracy fiction. Today, The Omnivore continues a serial-fiction experiment: Illuminoimia. 

Everything You're Afraid Of Is True.

The Secretary of state has two meetings. The first is with the president and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She lies to them. The second is with the True Kings of the World and she hasn't been completely honest with them either ...
Previously On Illuminoimia

Chapter 11: Two Lies
Sept 18th 2012 Washington DC
Evergreen had lied twice tonight. She had lied once to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Renegade himself when she told them that the Benghazi situation was stabilized, finally under control, and into the damage assessment phase of the operation. That, if the full truth came out, could get her killed--hanged for treason.

She had lied a second time, to Them, when she told them that the situation was still liquid--that the nuclear weapon had not been recovered--and that they were still hunting for it. That lie--if the truth came out on that lie--death would be a mercy: They would take out Their malice on Energy if she were dead--so she would have to live through whatever They deemed sufficient. She didn’t like to think about that.

The first lie had come in the command center with the JCS sitting at the conference table, Renegade at the head, one lanky leg draped over the chair, his foot kicking impatiently as he looked away. This was not uncommon behavior and it terrified Evergreen that the JCS did not seem appalled by it--they simply accepted it. Once, when he had summarily stood during a briefing and then left with a curt “SportCenter’s on,” she had waited, breathless in his absence, for grumbling--but there was nothing. They simply, awkwardly, continued as though the President of the United States was still there.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t know about the bomb. That was Their plan--and while the men in the room did have insight into ‘how the world worked’ they were not cleared for that. So she told them the attack had concluded--that it was terrorists--but that they were spinning things for the public so as not to damage the electoral pageant--and that if Congress could be shut up it would all blow over in another couple of news cycles.

It was humiliating to have them look at Renegade after she was done giving them their marching orders: until his silence confirmed her directives they would consider them advice. The burning inside (she had prescription antacids which she ate like Halloween candy now) was like a constant terrible fire.

A few hours ago, though, it had been fear she felt--purging her system of everything else. As far as she could tell They did not like Washington DC. They considered it vulgar, somehow, she thought. Still, They did not believe much in electronic communication (and her ‘mundane’ Top Secret-level security briefings confirmed to her that They were right not to). She--and Renegade--went in person to a large building out beyond the White House walls. The motorcade pulled into the secure parking facility and she left her special Secret Service guard in the reinforced cement structure and she and the President had entered the open elevator door that shut automatically--as though it were waiting for them.

Which, of course, it was.

This was not The Puppet Theater--thank goodness--it was just Their current address--a building with extreme yet subtle security measures. It was created to special building codes: Many vacant, maze-like floors, devices that would kill or cruelly maim anyone where they were not supposed to be. There were personal vehicles in the ordinary parking garage (itself a high security area) perhaps there were a smattering of actual real enterprises that were, in some way, tainted by Them on the lower levels? She wasn’t sure--and They would be alert to any attempt to find out.

He was waiting for them at the top. It was dark out but the windows still cast everything beyond them in a strange gray tint. It was a vast empty space with marble floors. The conference area had a rug on which, she had been told, a pope was murdered (it was an ornate, ghastly Renaissance thing), custom leather seats, a central table made by a master craftsman, and the high-backed European ‘throne’ on which He sat waiting for them. As always, she could only guess what His clothes might cost in actual money--if They used actual money.

“You will explain this to us,” said the man, gently--his voice still a bit of a rumble. “My associates do not understand how things have transpired. Please,” he said to Evergreen, “enlighten us on the loss of The Weapon.”

Renegade was there, of course. He looked tense--petulant--pained--to be called on the carpet like this. He looked like a resentful child. Evergreen had been briefed--exactly once--and it had been impressed on her how dangerous these meetings were no matter what they might seem like. If the man was annoyed with Renegade’s attitude, she thought, being President Of The United States would not protect him.

Still, and this was painfully unfair, this man knew what Renegade was--he would ignore the tall handsome leader of the free world’s temper-tantrum. Nothing would come of that. But Evergreen? She knew that if she were found wanting, she would be punished expediently.

“Based on the information--” she started, and then caught herself: They did not like or accept qualifiers. You said everything to them as though you were sure of it. If you were wrong there was at times a price to be paid. That was how it worked. She held up a hand. The man nodded indulgently: ‘Very good,’ his eyes said--good girl! Good student.  He radiated patience and kindness.

“Diplomatic security operative Charles Brin can read Keys he has not formally been trained for,” she said (had he been trained? Possible--but she had no evidence to that effect and made the call that it was random). “He came in contact with a Code in The Innocence of Muslims which contained instructions for the attack as well as ranging locations for mortar fire--to prevent the attack team from having to scout the location and risk early detection.”

She kept eye contact with the man looking for anything that would tell her if she was right. She was sure They knew more about the origins of this operation than she did. She got nothing--a small pleased smile and a nod for her to continue. It could have meant They were planning to torture her daughter to death. It could mean she was right. She kept going.

“This unfortunate set of events--a combination of Situational Awareness Training received as part of a prototype Counter-Terrorism project and SOG Minus Squad training led him to execute a field-craft maneuver and prepare to go underground--which he did, taking The Package with him.”

“He communicated this to no one? He alerted no one?”

“His teammates died in the shelling,” she said. “There was no communication--both on diplomatic channels and others. Either he was working for someone we have yet to identify or he correctly assessed that telling anyone would not be in his best interest.” She felt her pulse quicken with anger. She was speculating there, sure--but suddenly--and in a blinding flash of anger she mentally dared the man to chide her for it.

“You don’t know?” He seemed amused--and, of course, she had broken a rule.

“I don’t know if he was working for someone?” She repeated, feeling her voice rise--she couldn’t help it--”I have NO evidence that he was working for anyone but us, sir--but I have no explanation other than--” she swallowed--she had something else to say here--but she chose not to say it--”I have no explanation other than bad luck--” she said through her teeth “that can explain how he intercepted and decoded a message sent by You.”

She looked back--back at his pudgy bearded face--back at his squinty eyes--she looked back at this bag of bones and meat and she wished she could squeeze the life out of those eyes. Part of her, in the back of her brain, though, was screaming loudly enough that she pulled herself back--got herself under control--and felt a sudden flush of horror as it dawned on her what that outburst might have done.

The man, however, nodded, thoughtfully. “You are quite right,” he admitted. “Of course. We did align the message and the receivers--it was a complete surprise to us as well that the Operative was able to receive it--much less decode it. A difficulty in dealing with less sophisticated tools,” he considered. She knew he meant the terrorists. “You cannot rightfully be held accountable for that.”

She let herself exhale just a little. She was far from relieved. He nodded for her to go on.

“There isn’t much more to tell,” she said. “We got him as soon as he resurfaced--he was trying to make contact with our high-level command--but he used a Chinese email and SMS programmed messaging system and had only seconds--about a hundred and ninety seconds--to deactivate it when the meeting went down.”

“We got him--but not before he put a .45 slug in his mouth. Before we could revive him,” she said, aware that the technical term was ‘ressurect’ “and extract his kill codes the messaging went out.”

She said the last part with dismal finality. “We were using non-lethal--we went in hard, sir. He just left no margin for error. We’re not even sure how he could’ve called it off--although there must have been a way. Maybe a phone call from the cafe to a person with an Internet connection? We’ve seen no traffic that gives us any information.”

“His communications bomb was … “ she grasped for a word. “Thorough. He designated a ‘Very High Value Package’ with coordinates to a cave near--but not exactly where--the vehicle containing the bomb was buried. Apparently he left some kind of clue in that cave to lead to the next one.”

“A number of forces converged but found nothing. Our own Recovery Team was extremely fast--but, sir--”

He waited.

“We were pulling forces out of Benghazi and he had shot up our on-the-ground operatives there with the clearance to go after him. We had to get a team in there that could handle the package: traditional Special Forces wouldn’t do it--”

He agreed. “I know. You had limited trusted contacts. You did not come to us directly because?”

Fuck. There it was.

“Because I believed we could contain the situation,” she said--the fear was back, full force. Renegade shook his head, sadly: ‘can you believe it,’ his manner said. If she could have kicked him in the testicals full force then, she would. She felt frustration and anger rise and she clamped down on it. It was like a physical pain in her chest.

“And,” said the man, “because we are not so easy to get hold of--not with a 24/7 high tempo-operation. Had you slept in those days?”

She paused--”No sir. Not for ninety six hours.” She looked down. She wasn’t sure They were capable of sympathy in the conventional sense--no matter how much it sounded like it. He nodded.

“And Charles Brin?” The man asked.

“He has been brought back--here,” she said. “He is at Walter Reed, under guard by the SOG.”

“Has he been interrogated?”

“We are gearing up for that,” she said. “I wanted to speak with you first--to see if--”

“--if there was anything you should know,” the man said, sounding pleased. “No, there isn’t. He will never walk in the daylight again and I imagine your time with him will be limited. We do not believe he was in someone else’s employ nor specially trained. Your instincts are correct. The Coding was basic as the situation did not allow for highly trained operations. That would seem to be the weak-point.”

The man considered. “He probably cut things so closely because he knew there was no escape. In any event, your orders are--”

Here she relaxed. If he were giving her orders that suggested continued existence.

“Locate the weapon . It will resurface. Be aware of it. Get to it first. Do not destroy it. It is special. We will be patient. Find it, recover it. Have the SOG ready. Once it is back in hand we will move again. Dispose of Brin. Make it so that it is better he should have never been born,” said the man--a bit carelessly quoting Jesus on Judas’ fate--”You need not take too long with him but do … observe a bit of it.”

The man gave her a meaningful look.

“Yes sir.” She was to witness his extremes of torture and death--as an example to her.

“Beyond that,” he said, “it was a difficult situation where you were not apprised of all the variables and we seemed to have an inflection point undiscovered and deeply embedded.” The man was solicitous. “We ought have foreseen that. Your behavior, given the circumstances, has made me proud.”

She smiled--a reflex she hated, even as she looked down, feeling a warm heat in her face. Oh, FUCK him, she thought--but even given everything she had a hard time mustering emotional force for it here, in his presence.

“And get some rest--both of you.”

“Yes sir,” Evergreen said.

“Will do,” said Renegade agreeably.

He nodded and they turned--they had never been invited to sit--and they had not. Evergreen paused though.



“Can’t you just manufacture another bomb? I mean--I realize it is a custom build--but it’s uncoded--” If anyone can set it off, she meant, isn’t in our best interest to collect it in the most expedient method possible: including destroying it?”

“It is special,” he said. Then: “The heavy water Deuterium in it was taken from rivers in Eden--and the place in the stream where a certain Baptism once took place. Please recover it intact.”

She swallowed--and felt cold. “Yes sir.”

They exited, Renegaded humming tunelessly in the elevator.

Her second lie--an act of omission--had come when she had not reported that a force she was aware of had recovered the weapon. A security services contracting group: Executive Outcomes had remained in the region following the fall of Gaddafi. They had fought for the Rebels, paid for by money partially funneled through the State Department. They had been on Brin’s mailing list--they had, apparently, known him.

When they encountered the first responders--an islamist desert militia--making off with the device they had acted quickly to kill them and take it into custody. Apparently they were trained in Nuclear Search and Recovery protocols as the sensors-packs on the drones hadn’t been able to locate it. They had disappeared.

They’d made contact--directly to the top of the State Department itself using the channels through which they had previously collected laundered money. Their communication had been terse: HAVE PACKAGE. WILL TRADE FOR BRIN. FORTY MILLION DOLLARS. TEN DAYS OR HIGHEST BIDDER.

Evergreen had considered going straight to Them with this offer/threat. They would know how to deal with it--but she hadn’t--because of something else that had happened.

That ‘something else’ was inexplicable to her--and it scared her almost as much as They did. Worse: it gave her the tiniest germination of ideas.

“You coming to Reed?” she asked Renegade.

“Hate that place,” he said, not looking at her.

“Fuck--okay.” She looked out the window too. Good, she thought. She needed some time alone with Mr. Brin and she certainly didn’t want Renegade there for the Q and A.
Wheels Within Wheels
Continue to Chapter 12: The Heart Vault

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