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.
In upstate Georgia Homeland Security takes over Cedartown and receives resistance from the 499 Georgia District Militia.
Previously On Illuminoimia
Chapter 17: The Second American Revolution
Jun 8th, Cedartown, Georgia, 60 miles northeast of Atlanta
Booker grasped his tiny Ruger LCP-CT .38 ACP hold-out gun which he had kept against the small of his back in a Galeco holster. It was nothing against the Belgian-made Fabrique Nationale ultra light machine gun he was up against. He could hear the fully automatic weapon, fired by a Homeland Security agent, blazing away into the night above and in front of him.
But then, he didn’t need to kill the guy with the gun: he needed one thing: the field radio to contact command. He prayed Coyne was still alive out there in the night--he needed just one or two more rounds from the former US Army sniper to draw their fire and he could get to where Jacks lay--bleeding, probably dead--with the radio.
Four miles to the northeast, up by Hunts lake, the rest of the company was gathered. Jon might well hear the shooting--but without his signal they’d be reluctant to move. It was just too dangerous.
They’d entered the town from the north--a sleepy looking small town like so many others in rural Georgia--and taken Main Street down to the Polk Veterinary Care clinic where they’d parked in back, left their AR-15s in a lock-box in the car’s trunk--except for Coyne, who was ex-Ranger and a dead-ass shot--and proceeded on foot. They hated leaving the weapons but they knew if they were spotted with them--and they were right about what was happening--they’d be fired on immediately.
They’d paused in the parking lot of a CVS drugstore and watched the scene unfolding at the Polk Medical Center across the road. Booker had watched with his field glasses as three FEMA tanker trucks, four old-fashioned covered military ‘duce-and-a-half’ troop transports, and three disturbing-looking clearly armored Homeland Security humvees with metal bar-covered windows and oxygen filter systems had parked, engines still running.
On the top each of the Humvees were access hatches with a night-vision wearing, helmet-headed soldier manning a Squad Automatic Weapon--a belt-fed light machine gun. Even their AR-15 wouldn’t rate well against those and their large plastic drums of 5.56 rifle ammunition.
His unease had changed to horror when, further down Main Street, they had come to an elementary school. The black-tactical suited Homeland Security soldiers had set up bright lights and had put up rolls of razor-wire. He could see men atop the one-story building patrolling with weapons: they had turned it into a prison--a make-shift interment camp.
Even more mysterious and disturbing were the FEMA trucks--tankers of some sort--parked to the north of the school. Tubing ran from the tank on the back of the truck to the rooftop of the north building: what he made as the ‘primary detention area.’ Booker couldn’t see well, but he could make out plastic ‘hoods’ at the end of each tube placed over, covering, the air-vents.
The three of them watched as one of the covered trucks disgorged handcuffed civilians--some still in pajamas, all with hoods over their heads--from the back. Growling dogs were restrained on thick metal chains as the men, and even a few women, were herded through the doors.
Then came the crates, carried by two soldiers each.
“What do you think is in those?” Jacks had asked.
Booker didn’t have to wonder: “Guns.” The men opened the crates and removed civilian AR-15 rifles, a few handguns with extended magazines, and even the odd hunting rifle with expensive sights. The weapons were eclectic: they didn’t belong to Homeland Security--they belonged, Booker was sure, to the men and women he’d seen being detained. The soldiers were photographing them, recording serial numbers, and replacing them in the locked security containers.
“Get command on the radio,” Booker whispered. Jacks took the heavy handset and spoke into it--quietly.
Whatever was going on back at the lake, it took way too long for Jon Barrows to get on the line.
Booker tersely relayed the situation along with troop-counts, their position, and visible armament.
Barrows said nothing, listening, then: “Does OP-4 have pro-masks?” Jon asked. “Over.” He was asking if the Homeland Security forces had gas masks.
“I can confirm for deployed troops and FEMA agents. The suits in the Homeland Security vehicles don’t have masks but their vehicles are sealed. Over.”
There was silence. Then Jon spoke: “In the case of any low-flying aircraft--especially a commercial jetliner seek protection indoors immediately. They may be deploying chemical agents. Over.”
Booker felt a sick chill. He didn’t see any aircraft but whatever was in those FEMA trucks was certainly a chemical agent. They were ready to flood the detention center with gas.
“Roger. Do we know the nature of those agents? Over.”
“Negative. Just don’t get any on you. Wait..”
Whatever was going on there, he thought again, the news had to be bad.
“We have to help them,” Jacks said. “This is--they can’t do this.”
They are doing it, Booker thought. Another transport was pulling in. More prisoners.
“What are those?” Jacks was looking through the field goggles.
“Let me see.”
The Homeland Security Humvees had carried packs of some kind of gear. Black metallic pillars with lights on the top and small stubby projections. Each one was about eight feet high when assembled. Booker thought he could see hooded cameras on swivel mounts--and an unsettling projection from the top: some kind of cannon. He scanned them with the binoculars. SAMSUNG SGR-A1.
“Oh crap,” he breathed.
“What--what are they?”
“Those are gun-turrets. I read about them--they’re using them in Korea for the demilitarized zone. Those are machine guns on top--robot targeted.”
“Fuck me,” Jacks said. “They have robots? What the fucking-fuck are we supposed to do about that?”
“Quiet--” Booker was staring. “There’s a command unit--in the vehicles, probably.” He scanned. “They’ll be pointing them in at the school,” he decided. “They’ll be used for added security so their troops can round more people up.”
He ducked back down. They had to do something--but he couldn’t think of anything to do--not against firepower like that.
Barrows came back on the line. He was speaking faster now.
“Can you locate the command vehicle? It will be a Homeland Security Humvee with com-gear on top.” A pause. “Antennas. Dishes. Do you see it? Over.”
Booker looked. “Negative. I don’t see anything like that here, Command. They are deploying automated guns--some kind of robot targeting system. Be advised they are also preparing--it looks like--to gas detainees. Over.” He was speaking of abominable things--but his voice was low and calm.
Barrows came back: “Locate the command vehicle. It must be at one of their rally points. Neutralize it and report back. Intel suggests prep for a set of targeted chemical strikes. If we can take out their command unit it will delay action in this vicinity.”
There was a pause. Booker thought he might be done--but then Barrows’ voice came back, low and strong. “I have information, Booker: don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. I know you can do this. We just need time.” The radio crackled with static. “Good luck--may God be with you. Barrows out.”
God, Booker thought, looking at the swiveling robots sweeping their guns in an arc before the school, certainly isn’t with them.
Across the street Coyne whistled. A single, low sound--it cut through the night. He’d seen something. Booker rolled over and looked down the side street. A single police cruiser, parked out of sight, running, but lights off, hugging a wall--the dome light had flashed on though, and he could see an officer inside talking to someone on the radio.
That gave Booker pause.
“Stay here,” he told Jacks. “Radio in about the sentries. Radio base if anything changes. I’m going to go talk to the officer. If he’s smart enough to hide out there, he may be smart enough to know just how wrong this is.
Booker darted across the street. Fortunately, at this time of night, well past 10:30 PM, Cedartown was largely asleep. He also reckoned there were roadblocks set up strategically to control the main drag. He hugged a closed drugstore and then rounded the corner. He kept his hands down--but out to the sides--clearly empty. He approached the vehicle until the driver’s side door opened and the policeman exited behind it.
The officer had not drawn his weapon--but Booker could see his hand down at his hip--the other holding a mag-light.
“Officer,” Booker said, slowing, but not stopping. “I am Gary Booker with the 499 Georgia District Militia. I am a squad leader and what I have seen here tonight disturbs me very much. Is it possible for me to speak with your chief?”
He’d gotten close enough to talk in normal tones and came to a halt.
“Our chief is being held in lock-up,” the man said. Booker could read his shirt: Fenwell. The man was big and thickly muscled--but young and with his slightly pudgy baby-face he looked terrified. Booker didn’t blame him.
“Okay,” Booker said. “Who is in charge back at the station?”
“National--I mean Homeland Security,” he said. “They came in and started demanding we turn over all concealed carry permits. When Chief Bosen refused they locked him up--they had a Federal warrant--” he looked shell-shocked.
“You know it isn’t legal to share CCW data with the Federal government,” Booker asked. “No matter what a warrant says?”
“I don’t know. They said Atlanta was lost--that there were terrorists mixed in with the protesters--arsonists making a run for other cities. They said Senator Mary was dead--along with--” he paused--”King. Mrs. King--the Representative--and thousands of other people.”
Booker felt a moment of panic. Most of the movement knew Mary and his father. While not all of them agreed with his politics he was exactly the kind of rock--the kind of hard core constitutionalist watchdog--that would stand against this kind of tyranny. Now he was dead and Atlanta was engulfed in flames. Booker decided he didn’t figure that for an unrelated coincidence.
He clamped down on it: despair now would kill them just as surely as enemy bullets.
“Sir, I am a scout for a larger force. If we can get to the command vehicle we may be able to stall them--or even strike a decisive blow. It’s one of the black Homeland vehicles but with a cluster of antennas and dishes on top. Have you seen anything like that?”
“It’s down at the station on Philpot,” said the officer. “It isn’t far from here.”
“Can you take me--and some men there? Can we get to that vehicle?”
The officer considered. “They put out a call for me to come in. I got out of there when I saw them taking over--I’m not sure they won’t lock me up--or worse.”
Booker nodded. “Sir--if you can get me and my men to the station--close to the vehicle--we can take it from there.” He hoped this was true--but he had a sinking feeling they were over their heads. Robots. Armored vehicles. Light machine guns. Chemical weapons--all on American soil.
Coyne was on foot. Jacks and Booker rode in the squad car. They wore handcuffs on one wrist. The other side open in their hands. Booker had no real idea how this would work. He had told Barrows he was going in. Barrows’ response had been terse: “Good luck.”
The Cedartown police station was set in a parking lot with the fire department and the town hall. The area in front bore three of the armored Homeland Security vehicles and a FEMA supply truck--not one of the chemical tankers. There were two of the black suited Homeland soldiers by the front door. One on the roof. Out by the vehicles two agents in suits and ties were smoking.
The central vehicle sported a forest of antenna and sensory gear on the top instead of a mounted light machine gun.
“There,” he said. “Get us close to that one.”
Fenwell brought the cruiser around in a slow arc. The Homeland agents turned, cigarettes glowing in their hands. On top of the right hand Humvee the armored soldier slowly swiveled the gun. If they’d timed it right, Booker thought, Coyne was in position on top of the closed Huddle House restaurant across the street. If things had gone wrong he was in terrible, terrible danger.
Fenwell pulled up. “Keep your heads down,” he said. He didn’t look back at them. He exited the vehicle and moved around back to the passenger door even as the suited agent walked towards them, waving the man back.
“Take them to the detention center, officer. Get them out of the command zone and then get your ass back here.”
Fenwell opened the door and hauled Booker out by the elbow. They were twenty paces from the command humvee. The vehicle’s door was open: Booker could see thick, armored laptops open inside, maps glowing on their screens.
“This one demanded to be brought to you,” Fenwell said, wildly improvising. “He told me he’s a constitutional lawyer. He said what you were doing was patently illegal. I figure you can sort it out.”
The police officer gave Booker a little push towards the man and then turned to haul Jacks out. To his credit, the soldier behind the FN SAW wasn’t pointing the fully automatic straight at them. He was watching though.
Booker made himself stand up straight--he moved forward.
“You are rounding up weapons--detaining citizens without just cause--no warrant of any sort can grant that power--” His voice was surprisingly strong. “I demand to see your identification and speak to your commander.”
Twelve paces. Eight. The man stopped him with a palm hard against Booker’s chest.
“We have a national emergency and martial law,” he snarled. “Your rights are suspended.” He grabbed Booker by the each side of the t-shirt and then turned him--driving him towards the vehicle--to slam him into it. “I can detain you,” he said. “I can search you. I can seize you.” He rammed Booker back into the armored wall. “I can disappear you. Do you have any questions?”
Booker grasped the gun--he’d intended to simply shoot the man in the stomach--but for brief moments he Could. Not. Do. It. He couldn’t just execute the man--gun him down from surprise in the street.
“This is still America,” he say, his head tilted back as the Homeland Security loomed over him. “You can’t do those things.” His voice was raspy, though--he was scared.
“I Have. A. Federal. Warrant,” the agent said, speaking slowly--and with great malice. He was smiling though--showing his teeth--there was no joy in it. “America,” he told Booker, “is suspended.”
Officer Fenwell, spoke from behind them “Release that man i-immediately,” He started. The DHS agent didn’t turn--but when Fenwell stepped forward, raising one of his fists, the agent’s partner smoothly drew his sidearm and shot the policeman in the stomach.
“We aren’t fucking around,” said the man, exhaling into Booker’s face.
That was when Coyne opened fire. The sound of the AR-15 was unmistakable. The agent with the drawn gun simply folded backwards and in the span of a second heartbeat the soldier up on the mounted full-auto gun jerked backwards too, the shot going just under the helmet and opening a hole in the back of his skull.
Then Booker moved. The agent on him spun, also drawing and Booker cleared his own weapon and discharged it into the man’s lower back, right against the spine. The man went down clumsily, still groping for his gun.
Booker shot him in the back of the head and slammed himself against the armored vehicle. From the station, return fire was already streaming overhead and the other machine gun on the other DHS humvee had opened up as well, filling the night with a barrage of noise and light. If Coyne was still in position up there, Booker realized, he was probably dead.
When he looked down, he saw Jacks had fallen. There was enough light from the street lamps to see a dark stain. Jacks had the radio--but he was far from the vehicle and in a moment the soldiers would turn their guns on him: he had to get into the command humvee.
He also needed to radio Barrows.
There was a pause in the shooting--a heartbeat.
Then Coyne’s rifle fired again from the darkness near the side of the restaurant--Booker saw the muzzle flash and heard the man on the other mounted gun collapse. Fuck, Coyne was good. Booker sprinted. He grabbed the radio off the ground and, keeping low, sprinted back, diving into the now empty command vehicle and pulling the door to. Reinforcements would already be coming from the school-detention area. They were close--and they could bring dozens of men each more heavily armed than Coyne.
Between the driver’s seat and the passenger there was an open laptop: it showed an overhead map, troop icons, movement. Booker, who had a degree in computer science, with an emphasis on computer security realized the kind of breach this indicated--leaving the laptop open, unprotected--with full access to the battle plan.
In the short moments while men streamed towards ex-Ranger Coyne’s last known position, moving in bounding motions with over-watch and suppression fire shattering windows and scarring the sides of buildings, Booker went to town on it.
“Captain Barrows--Booker. I have control of the command vehicle. I have access to enemy intel, sir.” Booker paused. “I see what appear to be circling airborne enemy assets.” He inhaled. If what he were seeing was true … “Sir, I think they are inbound--some kind of air-strike is in progress.”
“Well done, Booker.” The captain's voice was a low, dangerous growl. “Are you able to get to cover?”
Outside was a cacophony of shots. The night was alive with gunfire.
“The vehicle is sealed sir,” he said. “I’m not sure how long this location is survivable.” It might only be seconds before the soldiers realized he was alive--moments before they surrounded and killed Coyne.
“Hole up, son.” Said Barrows. “Let them send their planes. Something new has happened. It’s a game changer.”
“Sir are you sure?” He paused then: “Over.”
“Just keep your head down” Barrows said. His voice had an edge that Booker had never heard before. “Just stay down and pray. And let the record show that the first shots fired in the Second American Revolution were fired here, in Cedartown by the 499th District Militia against a Federal Government we no longer acknowledge.”