"The tyranny we impose on others we will one day impose on ourselves." – Chris Hedges
"If there is anything worse than a corrupt and ill-equipped cop, it is a corrupt and well-equipped cop." – Jorge Chabat
Officer O’Brien sat in his patrol car watching a Subaru drive back and forth trying to find the magnetic sensor under the pavement. It was two in the morning and, while the sign said "No Turn on Red," there was not a car in sight and it was clear that the driver was losing patience.
"Man, this broken sensor is a total cash cow. Here goes another one. Ka-ching!"
"Do you think she’ll blow?" asked his partner, worriedly craning his neck to see the reddish glow of Mt. Rainier on the horizon.
O’Brien ground his teeth together. Obviously, Detective Kane hadn’t been listening to a word he’d said. O’Brien did not consider himself a man to be ignored.
"How would I know? Do I look like a fucking geologist? But I can tell you one thing: If it does, we’re going to be total fucking heroes - even bigger than the New York Fire Department. Maybe President Cheney will invite us to the White House!"
Ever since Bush was assassinated when he visited Baghdad, things had been a lot different for law enforcement. Big money had been flowing in, and tons of weapons - heavy weapons. Machines guns, armored personnel carriers, helicopters with Hellfire missiles and all kinds of shit they didn’t even know what to do with. There were always awards ceremonies going on at the White House for law enforcement personnel. So far, though, nobody from Seattle had gotten anything.
A tow truck with a Cadillac pulled up to the red zone. The driver got out, unhooked the car, then got back in and drove his truck forward a few feet. He got back out, took a picture of the Cadillac parked in the red zone, then got back in, hooked the car again and drove off.
"Man, those fuckers are raking it in!" declared O’Brien, "They charge us a penny per tow and, in exchange, we gave them a fucking license to steal. People pay through the nose to ransom their cars out and, if a month passes, the towing company fucking owns that car. Plus, they get all the shit inside the vehicle. For most cars, that doesn’t amount to squat, but occasionally they score a service truck belonging to a plumber or something and they can sell all his pipes and fittings and shit. Sweet!"
"Well, at least it’s not like in Mexico where they kidnap businessmen and make their companies pay for their release. Here they just hold people’s cars for ransom."
"At least not yet, huh?" O’Brien laughed, "I’d like to get in on some of that kidnapping lucre. I can think of a few people I’d like to kidnap. Ha!"
Tacoma burned. Molten rocks pelted the city, setting fires wherever they struck. Gas and water mains broke and day turned to night as clouds of ash from the volcano blotted out the sun. It was like a modern-day Pompeii. Maybe a quarter of the people died, nobody knows for sure, but the rest escaped the flames. Most of them headed for Seattle. It was the nearest big city. There was nowhere else to go.
Things were better in Seattle, but not by much. There had been fires, but not the firestorm that Tacoma had seen. Everything was covered in ash. Few of the houses had running water and, in those that did, it was like mud. Only by repeatedly filtering it through cloth could they obtain something drinkable. People fought each other with their fists over bottles of water. A decorative fountain in front of a fancy hotel was drunk dry. Iconic was the image, captured on TV, of the people, both well-to-do hotel guests and minimum-wage employees, elbowing each other out of the way to stick their heads in the fountain like cattle at a water tank.
The Washington State National Guard was, of course, in Iraq. So was the National Guard from all the neighboring states. But, no problem, President Cheney knew just what to do. Halliburton to the rescue! Millions of dollars in government contracts were awarded without even the facade of open bidding. Blackwater USA arrived the very next day in their distinctive brown shirts. The top priority was to pacify the city. Unsubstantiated rumors of gun battles ran rampant and, indeed, sporadic gunfire could be heard at night. The brownshirts got right down to business, searching people’s houses for weapons.
"Fuck, man, why do we have to pull guard duty at this stupid bank?" complained O’Brien.
"I think they had to keep the bank open so all the Halliburton employees," Kane indicated the queue of Halliburton employees with a wave of his hand, "could deposit their fat paychecks. I heard a teller say that the bank sold more Certificates of Deposit today than they had in all of last year."
The two officers of the law watched as a crew of brownshirts drove by in a Humvee pulling a compressor trailer behind it.
"Why do they all have those compressors?"
"Man, you’re as innocent as a newborn baby, Kane. Don’t you know shit? See that jackhammer on the back of the compressor trailer? When they search a house for weapons, if they find a floor safe, they can use the jackhammer to pull it out."
The brownshirts systematically moved through the neighborhood. Captain Prince worked the megaphone. He knew that, unlike in Iraq, these people could be intimidated by just a display of weapons. A firm, manly voice (like his) on the megaphone and an occasional burst from the .50 caliber and 99% of them would submit without a whimper. Of course, there was always that 1% who would fly off the handle and had to be put down, but that just made the job more exiting.
"Come out of your houses with your hands up. Lie face down on the lawn," Prince shouted into the megaphone, "We’re not going to hurt you. We just need to search your house for weapons. Anybody who remains inside will be considered an enemy combatant."
Slowly, the people came out, their faces ashen. With a nervous glance at the .50 caliber, they lay face down in the sulfurous ash on their lawns. The brownshirts efficiently swept through the houses with their metal detectors. Paintings were pulled down looking for wall safes, bookcases were pushed over, all the cans were inspected – it was amazing how many people thought they could hide a diamond ring in a fake can of shaving cream. Morons! The brownshirts knew all the tricks.
It was true that his men sometimes took things from the houses they searched, Prince reasoned, but they left something of far greater value: a copy of John Hagee’s Jerusalem Countdown, a Prelude to War.
It was God’s wrath that had caused Mount Rainier to erupt and, therefore, it was His will that Blackwater – America’s holy warriors – should be given the task of putting Washington State back onto the path of righteousness. Like Lazarus in Black Snake Moan, the brownshirts would just have to yank the sinful Seattleites’ chain a bit until they saw the light.
Prince was a true Christian. No doubt about that! He could quote the Bible chapter and verse – at least provided that all the quotations were from the Book of Revelation. He was a little hazy on what the rest of the Bible was about.
"Score! This one’s got a floor safe. Back the compressor up on that flower bed so we can bring the hose in through the bedroom window," Captain Prince barked orders to his men.
The brownshirts swarmed around the house, anxious to get in on the safe removal. Suddenly there was the sound of an MP-5 machine gun and everybody dove for cover.
"It’s okay!" one of the brownshirts inside shouted a few minutes later, "It was just a child. He was hiding under the stairs."
Immediately a woman spread-eagled on the lawn in front of the house began wailing. One of the brownshirts walked over and kicked her in the stomach to make her shut up.
"Let that be a lesson to all of you," Prince shouted into his megaphone, "Anybody who remains in their house will be considered an enemy combatant. Do not toy with us. We’re here to establish freedom and democracy in Bagh… I mean Seattle, whether you like it or not. Praise the Lord!"
The scene in Coeur d’Alene was chaotic. There were dozens of trucks of every description, motorcyclists circling the perimeter and hundreds of head of cattle. The eight semi trucks loaded with potatoes pulled over as far to the side of the road as they could. The driver of the lead truck watched as a barrel-chested man with a red beard pushed through the cattle and strode up to his truck.
"John Johnston," said the big man, thrusting out his hand.
"Del Que, pleased to meet you."
"You’re from Boise?"
"Then why didn’t you take Interstate 84 and then 82 directly to Seattle?"
"We did, but they wouldn’t let us through."
"I dunno. Some guys in brown shirts. In fact, that’s what the people in town – Prosser – called them, ‘brownshirts.’ But they had Humvees with .50 caliber machine guns, so we did what they told us to. They said, by some executive order that Cheney had signed, that they were in control of Washington State. They weren’t letting anybody in."
"You turned back?"
"Well, we weren’t about to take all these potatoes back to Idaho. So we skirted the Washington State line and took Highway 95 up here. We heard on the CB that you were organizing a relief convoy."
"That’s right, and you’re welcome to join us."
"So, what’s up with those brownshirts?"
"I’m not sure. According to CNN, President Cheney has declared a state of emergency. Some employees of Blackwater USA – that’s who the brownshirts are – were murdered by terrorists. And the TV is reporting that gangbangers are running wild in Seattle, raping and pillaging."
"This Blackwater, they’re Americans?"
"The officers are. The troops are mostly foreign mercenaries – Chileans, Columbians, Filipinos…"
"What is their background? Where did they get their training?"
The Chileans trained under the Pinochet regime. The Columbians we trained in Plan Columbia for narco interdiction. The Filipinos do not have the support of their government. Their ambassador has been on CNN. He doesn’t like to see Filipinos working for the imperialists."
"Is the use of mercenaries inside the United States constitutional?"
"Every U.S. Attorney who still has a job is 110% behind the Cheney/Gonzales Pacification and Re-Education Program."
"And the ones who objected?"
"Gonzales let them go. He said ‘Musharraf can fire judges who criticize
him and I don’t know why
I can’t too!’"
"Hmm… What did President Cheney have to say about all that?"
"He said, ‘Heckuva job, Gonzie!’"
"Do you have any other intel?"
"Um, some cop named O’Brien got an award for heroism and… Oh, they interviewed a lady from the Red Cross who said one of their trucks got towed cause it was in a no-parking zone. Mostly they just go on about some girl whose wedding dress was lost in the lava."
"No, I meant any intel of your own – other than just what’s on TV."
"There is an organization called ‘Cop Watch’ which has been surreptitiously taking videos and posting them on YouTube. There is one of a woman getting kicked in the stomach by a brownshirt captain. She was upset because they had just killed her little boy but, because of something called Order 17, I guess it wasn’t illegal for them to shoot him. YouTube reports over a hundred million people have viewed that video worldwide.
"Cop Watch talks about the brownshirts going house-to-house looking for weapons - nothing about gangbangers. If there are any gangsters in Seattle – or gangSTA’S, I guess they like to call themselves – they’re scrounging for food and water alongside everybody else."
"With one difference…"
"What’s that?" asked John.
Del Que grinned, "They’re doing all their scrounging with one hand cause they need the other hand to hold up their pants. Their gangsta-style pants are so baggy, if they let go for an instant, the pants’ll fall down and expose their bare ass to the world."
John laughed along with his new friend, "Yeah, I guess that would make the search for food and water a bit awkward."
"So, what’s the plan?" asked Del Que.
"Well, we’ve assembled a hundred and fifty motorcyclists armed with deer rifles to escort the convoy. We’ve got the gasoline tanker trucks in the back, cattle trucks up front. As soon as we get these cattle loaded, you pull in right behind them with your potatoes."
"The Montana Militia."
Blackwater’s A-10 Warthog came in low and slow. The terrorist convoy had crossed the Washington State line fifteen minutes ago – Against a direct order! – and was approaching Spokane. The Warthog pilot held his 30mm gatling gun steady on the column of trucks. He had made a hundred similar runs in Iraq. On the first pass he would spill their fuel with guns and on the second pass he would ignite it with rockets.
In its wake the Warthog left only chaos and death. People screamed. Cattle bawled. Gasoline trucks burned and there were potatoes everywhere. John Johnston’s muffler was burning his leg, but he didn’t scream. He lifted the heavy 1000cc bike up with one hand and pulled his leg out from under it. He found his rifle nearby and instinctively checked the muzzle to see if it had gotten dirt in it.
Most of the motorcyclists had survived by driving their bikes into the forest after the Warthog’s first pass. The men and women in the trucks had not fared so well. Del Que had already started first aid on the ones who could be saved when John pulled up on his motorcycle.
"How many wounded?"
"Those over there are too far gone," Del Que said, pointing, "These over here will live if we can get them back to the hospital in Coeur d’Alene."
"Here," John said, tossing him some keys, "Those are the keys to that grocery truck over there. I think it is the only vehicle still operational. We’ll clear out the pallets of bottled water and you can load the wounded into the back and drive them to the hospital."
"Aren’t you coming?"
"No. All the motorcyclists that survived are coming with me. We’re going to Seattle."
"What are you going to do when you get there?"
Along with all the men and women who had joined them in Spokane, the Montana Militia was now two hundred strong. They drove their motorcycles slowly down narrow Highway 2 with their headlights off, spread far apart and with every eye on the sky. At the first sign of a helicopter or an airplane they would dash into the forest and hide. Fortunately, most of them had equipped their bikes with oversize mufflers to reduce their heat signature and make them less visible to FLIR-equipped aircraft and tanks. Except for a couple of scares from distant airplanes, the trip was uneventful. If the brownshirts knew they were coming, they were looking for them on Interstate 90.
"Search for weapons," Captain Prince ordered.
The three brownshirts moved quickly through the empty Denny’s Restaurant. Of course, "search for weapons" was a euphemism for "see if they have a floor safe," and the brownshirts knew right where to look. It was in the manager’s office, under the desk. A moment later the three men emerged from the Denny’s.
"We’ll have to blow a hole in the wall here," one brownshirt reported, drawing an X on the wall with a piece of chalk, "Then we can back the compressor up and run the hose through the hole to operate the jackhammer."
"Step aside," ordered Prince, as he sighted a LAW rocket on the chalk mark.
The brownshirts watched as a tow truck sped by with a Lexus on the flatbed and a Porsche being pulled along behind.
"Man, even with all these safes we’re seizing, I bet those guys are making more money than us," Prince observed.
"Look," One of the brownshirts pointed out a group of refugees crossing a vacant lot who, on spotting the Humvee with its menacing .50, had hidden in some bushes.
Prince laughed out loud. For a moment he thought of walking over there and making them sing "This Little Light of Mine" like Rae sang in Black Snake Moan, but then decided not to delay pulling the safe out of the Denny’s. He and one of his subordinates lifted the heavy jackhammer off its rack and wheeled it into the restaurant.
The driver rolled his window down and stuck his head out, alternately looking at the trailer, which was now jack-knifed at a 90° angle to the truck, and his amigo, who was making incomprehensible hand signals and shouting helpful suggestions like "¡Derecho!"
Trained by the U.S. Southern Command’s Plan Columbia, he was one of the few brownshirts who’d seen combat before joining Blackwater. But it was all in the jungle fighting FARC – nothing about backing up a truck with a trailer hitched to it.
"Okay, hand me the hose," Prince shouted through the hole in the wall, but there was no answer.
"Hey! I said, ‘Hand me the fucking hose!’" he shouted even louder, but still there was no answer.
Captain Prince came storming out of the restaurant to demand an explanation from his subordinates, "What the fuck? Are you guys dea…"
Prince froze in his tracks. His men weren’t deaf, they were dead. One lay in a pool of blood behind the compressor and the other was slumped over the wheel of the Humvee.
Instinctively, Prince ducked. The bullet took his beret right off. Had it been an inch lower, it would have split his skull open.
Whatever else he was, he was an athlete. Like Carl Lewis exploding out of the starting blocks, Prince launched himself at the Humvee. He slid behind the engine block with the grace of Ty Cobb stealing home even as another bullet buried itself in the asphalt just inches behind him.
Captain Prince looked around for the remaining brownshirt, but all he saw of him was ass and elbows. BLAM!! Shot squarely between the shoulder blades, the man continued on for another thirty yards before running headlong into a light pole. Gong!
"Fuck! Somebody’s after that safe," Prince concluded as he cowered behind the Humvee’s big engine, "Sinners! How dare they attack a good Christian like me? Don’t they know I’m going to donate the money to the Christian Embassy?"
John Johnston wasn’t after the safe. A quarter of a mile away, on the other side of a canal (to prevent them from rushing him in their Humvee), John leapt up without even bothering to collect his brass, jumped on his motorcycle and twisted the throttle.
"The moment I stop moving is the moment I stop moving."
John was trying to recall everything he’d read at www.sniperflashcards.com. He’d already made use of "Fire when half the invaders are inside a building and half outside it." And, if he hadn’t taken their advice and gotten a nine-power scope rather than the more faddish twenty-power "sniper" scope, he’d have never hit that running man.
High above, an unmanned Polar 400 airship observed the action and relayed the information to a Grizzly armored personnel carrier only a mile away.
"Prepare to launch the TOW missile," the Grizzly captain ordered.
John felt the gust of wind as the missile passed just three feet over his head. Because tanks are softer on the top than on the sides, wire-guided missiles like the TOW are designed to fly three feet over the target and, when a magnet senses that it is directly over the tank, a shaped charge detonates straight downwards, blowing a hole through the top of the turret. However, there isn’t enough iron in a motorcycle to signal the TOW to detonate, so John got to live, at least for a few more minutes.
Nearby, a crew of brownshirts was pulling the safe out of a Texaco station. They unhitched their compressor trailer and joined the chase.
"Ha! Let’s see if that Harley can outrun a .50 caliber bullet!"
With the air overhead criss-crossed with green tracers and the ear-splitting racket of the .50 sounding like it was just inches behind him, John ran for his life. He was going 138 mph when he passed an elementary school, and he knows that for a fact because he received a speeding ticket in the mail a month later, signed by Officer O’Brien, who was sitting in the otherwise-empty school parking lot with a radar gun.
Thinking quickly, John drove into a gated condo complex.
"After him!" the Humvee commander shouted at his driver, "We’ve got him cornered."
But they did not have him cornered. Like threading a needle, John drove onto a pedestrian sidewalk and then went between two buildings, leaving his pursuers behind. Their Humvee was too wide to go between the buildings after his motorcycle.
"Shit, we lost him," they concluded, "Let’s get out of here."
Fortunately, John was not an army of one – he was an army of two hundred. One of his buddies was right behind him. His friend had a heavy chain and padlock that he used for securing his bike, but now he used it to chain the gates shut.
"Fuck, we’re trapped! Some asshole locked us in. What’re we gonna do?"
The Humvee is a heavy vehicle, but it wasn’t heavy enough to crash through.
"Attach the winch," their commander ordered, "We’ll pull it down."
BLAM!!! The brownshirt hadn’t been exposed five seconds before he was shot dead.
A civilian sniper lay on the kitchen table in an apartment across the street steadying her rifle with an M-14 sling attached to her arm just above the bicep. She knew immediately that, if a Humvee measured three and a half milliradians high and there was a 15 mph crosswind, her rifle, zeroed for 300 yards, would require two and a half mils holdover and 6.75 MOA of windage. Because she had trained with Sniper Flash Cards, she was able to get her shot off in less than five seconds, and without taking her eyes off the target, as would have been necessary with an auxiliary range-finder. Five seconds was all the time she had before the brownshirt got back inside his bullet-proof vehicle.
"Shit! More snipers! Let’s get into those apartments where they can’t see us."
But the condo complex was full of people and, only the day before, every one of them had been made to lie face down in the hot volcanic ash while their homes were ransacked. Everything of any monetary value was taken and the condos were trashed – bookcases overturned, drawers dumped out and furniture broken apart looking for hidden compartments. "Searching for weapons" or "pacifying the civilian population" the brownshirts called it, but the homeowners called it something else: "armed robbery."
Now, the brownshirts were so preoccupied with dodging the sniper’s bullets that they didn’t notice the hundreds of condo owners converging on them with kitchen knives and baseball bats.
The sniper, meanwhile, hopped onto her motorcycle, which was parked in the living room of the apartment she was hiding in, drove down the hallway, out the back door, bump, bump, bump down the back porch steps and away through the alley. Two minutes later the apartment she had been hiding in and, indeed, the entire building disappeared under the crashing blow of a GBU-24. But by then she was safely away and off looking for new targets.
And so it went for the brownshirts throughout the day. All the heavy weapons they had brought to Seattle were for naught because the motorcycle-mounted snipers who opposed them never stayed in one place long enough to get hit. Because they had all trained with Sniper Flash Cards, they could estimate holdover and windage in seconds without having to dink around with any lame slide rules like Army snipers must.
Captain Prince skidded to a stop inside the airport, which the brownshirts had commandeered for their headquarters.
"It’s fucking nuts out there," he observed, "All three of my subordinates were killed. I was shot at twice more on my way back here."
"Fuckin’a right it is!! There must be two thousand snipers in Seattle," another brownshirt stated without a hint of exaggeration - two hundred can seem like two thousand when they move around a lot.
"Good thing the brass called us all back to the airport. It might be cramped in here, but it sure’n fuck beats getting shot at," added another.
"Their motorcycles are too fast to hit and, when they stop, by using the Aguilar System for Medium-Range Sniping, they can get aimed shots off within seconds."
Prince stared at the TV. A runway-model beautiful girl whose wedding had been scheduled for that day was sobbing dramatically for the cameras. Between sobs she told of her watching her wedding dress catch fire as the dry-cleaning bag it was in was carried away by the lava flowing from Mount Rainier. Her fianc’, clad in a black tux, stood clasping her hand and regarding her with a comically concerned look on his face.
"That’s not news, that’s fark!" exclaimed Captain Prince, "Change the channel."
Whoever had the remote obeyed and the scene shifted. Four badly beaten bodies in brown shirts were hung from a bridge. A pretty blonde FOX newscaster was breathlessly describing how the four heroes had been searching for WMDs when they were murdered by some dead-enders.
"We think they may have found the militia’s WMDs when they were ambushed," she gushed.
"What’s that?" Prince asked a lieutenant, pointing to the TV.
"Four of our guys somehow got themselves trapped in a gated condo complex. The residents beat them to death and then hung them on that bridge. We tried to recover the bodies, but we were met with such intense sniper fire that we were forced to retreat."
"How were the civilians able to organize their defense of the bridge without secure radio communication?"
"All the militia members carry a six-sided die. They knew ahead of time that our Electronic Surveillance Team would monitor all their communications, so they had standing orders to roll their die and then follow this chart:
||Attack the target from the NW
||Attack the target from the NE
||Attack the target from the SW
||Attack the target from the SE
||Attack the nearest freeway offramp from the left
||Attack the nearest freeway offramp from the right
"What are we gonna do?" Prince asked plaintively, "They’ve thought of everything."
"Orders are, everybody is to withdraw to the airport. It’s just too fucking dangerous out there. This is worse’n Iraq. The Arabs can’t shoot like these assholes can."
"We’re quitting?" Prince asked incredulously.
"We can’t quit!" Prince prayed silently, "The Bible prophesizes a Great Tribulation. There’s no quitting now! Not for the Army of the Righteous!"
"Of course we’re not," the lieutenant reassured the nervous captain, "But we’ll have to hole up here through the night until we get re-supplied tomorrow. We’re down to only a few thousand rounds of 30mm ammo for the Warthog and we’re completely out of TOW missiles for the Grizzlies."
Captain Prince surveyed all the brownshirts crowded into the cramped terminal.
"Even with the Warthog and the Grizzlies back in action, I’m not sure we can defeat these snipers. They’re too fucking elusive. What are we gonna do?"
"We’ve got twenty Cobra gunships being shipped here tomorrow, all the way from North Carolina. Ha! Let’s see how the Montana-fucking-Militia deals with that. We’re gonna waste this city! Hell yeah!!! We’re gonna…"
The first shell struck terminal one and the gunner walked the rest right down the line through terminals two and three, where all the brownshirts had packed themselves in like sardines. Broken glass and broken bodies went flying in every direction as the airport was pummeled with high explosive rounds. The Warthog parked on the tarmac outside exploded in a giant fireball as its ammo and fuel detonated.
"Who’s shelling us? Who’s shelling us???" Prince cried out as the building collapsed around him.
The lieutenant crawled through the rubble with a cell phone.
"Did you find out who’s shelling us?" Prince pleaded, "Oh, make them stop. Please make them stop!"
"I can’t," sobbed the lieutenant, "It’s the U.S. Navy. They’ve got a battleship in Puget Sound. We’re done for."
"As an idealist, Abraham Lincoln had one consuming passion... and this was to preserve the union because the union was in danger. Toward that end, he broke laws, he violated the constitution, he usurped arbitrary power, he trampled individual liberty.""Gen. Musharraf, 3 Nov 07
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