TC2T

TC2T-DECON

President-elect Henry Jackson, Hunky, and six Secret Service agents gather in the main control bay of DECON, which is surrounded by four levels of prison cells, including the one where the entirely unrecognizable body of the Vice-President still lies. It is the largest cavity inside Green Dome.

Two of the Secret Service agents had initially preceded the Vice-President and President-elect by elevator into the DECON complex. Two had accompanied the leaders, and after that two more had come down as reserve. President Gerald Ford had separated from Jackson after the incident at Mt. Rushmore and flew over to Caspar, Wyoming to remotely manage the war in Barbuda.

The bulk of Green Dome blocks any direct radio transmissions between the agents and the larger team that waited in the summit parking lot but DECON promised to arrange for communications and at first the agents had been satisfied with the results. But now the link has been severed and Special Agent Ted Hickey, the leader of the detachment inside the mountain, demands the DECON leadership explain why.

Ed Conley is the man in charge of DECON when the Vice-President is not actually present and handling the reins.

ED
I took DECON to Protocol Yellow when the Vice-President was killed. No messages get in or out after the initial message that we are actually at Protocol Yellow. Only the President can move us back to Protocol White and he is flying over from Casper right now.

SCOOP
I want to get the hell out of here.

ED
Unfortunately, sir, the elevators are locked on their tracks as part of Protocol Yellow.

SCOOP
Then we’ll take the goddamn stairs! The reporter goes with.

A nod from Ted Hickey confirms this plan is a Go. By a quick hand-sign Hickey indicates that two special agents would stay behind and they understand it is to ensure the integrity of the crime scene.

Hunky spies her Plug sitting on a console in the main bay.

HUNKY
I want my Plug back before we go.

The President-elect nods, and one of Hickey’s special agents retrieves it for her.

When DECON goes to Protocol Yellow guards on every level of the mountain take the safeties off their weapons and begin to patrol their assigned routes within the complex, but the doors are not locked. Some of these squads encounter the four Secret Service agents climbing the stair well with their charges, but they do not detain them.

HUNKY
Jerry Ford.

Hunky speaks with disgust as she climbs the stairs with the President-elect and the agents. It is quite a climb. Yellow spinning lights turn the stairwell into a disco.

HUNKY
Nobody voted for his ass, and nobody voted for Roland either. Ford’s probably coming here because he’s got his own sex video hanging over his head.

SCOOP
Two days until the Inauguration.

Jackson stops for a rest on a stair landing between floors.

SCOOP
That’ll give him forty-eight hours to comb the DECON records, remove whatever it was Roland had on him. Frankly, I don’t blame him at all.

Ted Hickey catches the eye of the President-elect.

TED
This isn’t America. This isn’t who we are.

SCOOP
I agree one hundred percent. So tell me your mission statement, Special Agent Hickey.

TED
The law specifies a list of people that the Secret Service is required to protect. Anyone can opt out of that protection except the President, the Vice-President, the President-elect, and the Vice-President-elect. I’ll try to accommodate your wishes, but by law I’m in charge until we get out of here.

SCOOP
Agreed.

Five minutes after they leave Ed Conley asks for a report on the progress of the stair-climbers. A subordinate says they were last spotted on level 31.

ED
Go to Protocol Red. Use this when you call it away.

Conley hands the subordinate a sheet of paper from a notebook. The officer punches the complex-wide intercom.

OFFICER
Security alert, Protocol Red. Reason for security alert: escaped prisoner. Target is a white female named Sofie Krause. Detain all accompanying persons. Deadly force authorized in the event of resistance.

AGENT
What the hell is Protocol Red?

ED
It means DECON slams down tight and no one can move after two minutes. After two minutes everyone should be at their posts but there are always laggards so for the next eight minutes after that only the DECON Internal Police can move, individually and in squads, taking names and questioning tardy personnel. If their excuses are halfway valid they will personally escort them to their units. If their excuses are lame? Vee haff vays.

The other Secret Service agent points a 9mm pistol at Conley.

AGENT
Rescind the order authorizing deadly force. The President-elect and four agents are with her. In fact, you and everyone involved with that announcement just committed a felony offense, threatening the life of the President-elect.

ED
(in a loud voice) I don’t like the way this Secret Service agent is pointing his gun at me. I can’t focus on my job.

From the upper levels of the cell bank all around, DECON guards with semiautomatic rifles pour fire into the two Secret Agents. It is massive overkill, but the tone of Conley’s voice seemed to suggest he really didn’t like being threatened.

ED
Now that is closer to what I call a felony offense.

In the stairwell the rotating yellow lights cease and rotating red lights spin up. Agent Hickey’s party hear the alert with the part about deadly force. He and his agents chamber a round.

TED
They know exactly where we are, and if we keep climbing up these stairs, we’re going to run into company. So we need to make a detour.

Hunky tries a door leading to level 28 but it is locked. Hickey swipes a badge and it clicks open. He orders one of his agents to join him on point, and the other two on rear-guard, with the President-elect and Hunky between them, and they all leave the stairwell.

SCOOP
So where do we go?

HUNKY
My girl is coming, and she’s homing on my Plug. I’m talking to her right now.

TED
Your girl?

HUNKY
Goes by the name Del. Ever heard of her?

TED
There’s been whispers.

HUNKY
Well she says she’s coming, so we just need to find another stairwell and go down as far as we can go, then straight out. My people are squirting a layout of this place to me now. I can see it in my head.

SCOOP How can they have a layout?

HUNKY We know every corner of this mountain, the number of times our people have been taken here for a short spell.

TED I accept your plan, Hunky. Just tell us where to go. And boys, girls, no one stops us no matter what, got that?

As Ed Conley indicated, for two minutes after Protocol Red was called away the Big Board is lit up with a flurry of activity as the DECON personnel move to their assigned stations. The activity drops abruptly at the two minute mark and for the next eight minutes the Big Board shows a reduced set of activity as the internal security forces squared everything away. The movement of Hickey’s team is masked by this. But at the eight minute mark they descend one level down a partially painted stairwell that is empty of personnel and looks to be little used. Still, the swipe of the badge to open the door at the bottom of the stairs immediately registers on the Big Board.

ED
What’s that movement?

The duty officer quickly puts up a visual of the space that Hickey’s team and his guests are entering from the stairwell. And as they pass under the security camera and out of view Conley gets one good look at Hickey, who holds up the Vice-President’s badge and sticks his tongue out. Conley is incensed.

ED
Go to Protocol Blue! Now! Shut it all up tight!

The red lighting shifts over to all blue, everywhere. Now even the Vice-President’s badge is no good. None of the doors in the entire complex work at all unless Ed Conley personally authorized it from where he was, on a case by case basis. He points at a section of the Big Board where a force of seven security men are now trapped in a section of corridor.

ED
Get ahold of these fellows and tell them to drop two levels and work their way east. Release the doors in front of them in such a way that they run smack into where the Secret Service team is trapped. No one else moves.

Conley is as good as his word. When Hickey tries to get out of the office space they crossed, the door won’t respond. He tosses Roland’s now useless badge away.

TED
Any ideas?

A hissing black shaft about a foot long penetrates a nearby wall and carves out something in the rough shape of a door, which then falls forward flat to the deck. The hissing stops and the black shaft retracts into what the President-elect knew must be the Golden Gift, so familiar from the Scroll of Lael but now physically present, held in the hand of an attractive redhaired young woman wearing a gray and red tunic, textured black tights, and black boots.

HUNKY
(grinning) Del! Just in the nick of time, as usual. Gentlemen, meet Del. She’s a two-legged Tough Women Attack Team, all by her lonesome.

DEL
Have a macro.

She passes to Hunky a silver copy of the weapon she holds in her hand, probably snagged from a Navy of Thaumiel armory somewhere.

DEL
Kill that camera, please, Hunky.

Hunky uses her Silver Gift to make the slowly rotating video camera covering the space they are standing in to entirely go away.

Soon after that a squad of eight DECON troops dispatched by Conley enters the office space though the door, which seems to work for them just fine.

SQUAD LEADER
Everyone lay down your weapons and freeze!

Hunky marvels that he even got the two commands in the correct logical order. Then she steps in front of Del and blossoms her macro to full umbrella mode causing a great wind to start. She uses this as a shield to absorb the initial bullets of the guards, which come immediately after her movement.

In a perfect dance, as though they rehearsed it, which in fact they often did, Hunky collapses her blade and steps beside Del. And Del, stepping a bit forward, fires exactly two rounds, center of mass, killing two guards. Lather, rinse, repeat. Two more guards down and then Hunky and Del are close enough to just hack the rest to pieces.

HUNKY
(to Del)

How’d you get in?

DEL
Well there’s this network of tunnels inside the mountain made by DECON, and there’s the network of tunnels we made under the mountain as insurance. It was just a simple matter of making one well-placed connection.

She holds up her Golden Gift and wonders if she really needs to explain to Hunky the actual mechanics of the entry.

HUNKY
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the B’nei Elohim named Del, the daughter of the late Haziel. who was the incarnation of Chokhmah. Which, I suppose, makes her the half-sister of Jesus. Or something.

SCOOP
What did she give you just now? Is there more than one Golden Gift?

HUNKY
Naw, we call this a macro. Del’s mother God gave the Golden Gift to some very clever monkeys, and we very clever monkeys copied it and made it better.

TED
What’s next? Our plan was to move down and out.

DEL
We will stay with your plan, except that we will backtrack along the path I carved on my way up here. I took the liberty of killing the cameras in every space I entered.

TED
But now Conley’s got a trail of dead cameras leading directly to the last position he knew we were. So now he knows we have help.

DEL (annoyed)
There’s such a thing as the fog of war. Let’s see how bright this Conley fellow really is. Let’s see how far we can get before he puts it all together.

The duty officer informs Ed Conley the President has arrived and is making his way to the summit of Green Dome.

ED
Good, when he gets here and authenticates, unlock the elevators. Meanwhile I want the bodies of these two agents put in the path of somewhere we know Jackson went. It’s called shaping the evidence trail.

Ed Conley stepped back from the Big Board to allow his personnel to remove the bodies, and stepping back, he was able to take in the whole picture. There were hundreds of small screens showing mostly stationary views, some empty, some with idle DECON personnel, but about twenty random screens were blank static with no signal, and he wondered about that. He knew there was no particular relationship between the dead screens and the position of the corresponding camera within the mountain, but he thought if such a relationship could be made, it might speak volumes. When the bodies were dragged away, Conley approached the duty officer again.

ED
Plot the position of this dead camera.

Presently a floor map of that level of the mountain was displayed, with the dead camera indicated by a flashing red dot.

ED
Can you plot all the dead cameras? Is there a PolyCode script ready to do that?

OFFICER
No sir, but I can whip one out for you. Just one moment.

Presently the duty officer completes his script and runs it. Twenty maps flash on the screen, one after the other.

ED
Okay, now here’s the real test. I want you stack those maps in order, and then I want you to rotate the whole shooting match to an oblique view so I can see them from the side and up. Can you do that?

The duty officer has to think for a bit before he dares answer in the affirmative, and the script for this takes somewhat longer than the first one. But in about ten minutes Conley is looking at a kind of x-ray view of Green Dome, with a trail of red dots meandering through the center of the hill to the bottom. The top dot was the most interesting one of all, that was the camera covering the space where he had sent that squad of seven DECON personnel before losing contact with them. Ed Conley traces the line of red dots from the bottom to the top.

ED
They’ve gotten help from outside.

OFFICER
I don’t see how that’s possible, sir. How would they get in?

ED
Who’s to say the whole mountain isn’t sitting on a network of tunnels they made, waiting for the right time, and they just punched through? Send everything we have to that bottom dot.

In the space one level up from that bottom dot Del stuck her head through the hole she made in the floor just long enough to see it was filled with more DECON personnel than she could possibly deal with, even with her, Hunky, and the four Secret Service personnel in full berserk mode.

DEL
Well, we have our answer. This Conley fellow put all the pieces together. We’ll have to get out another way.

HUNKY
Any ideas?

DEL
Actually, I’ve just had a brilliant one. I’ve called in our air assets. DECON will want to scramble to deal with them, so all we need to do is be in one of the helicopter hangars when they do. Then we just walk right out of the mountain.

After Gerald Ford had seen the cell-camera footage of the demise of the Vice President he demanded to see the body, not fully aware exactly what it was he was asking for, but Ed Conley dutifully took him up to the cell and showed him the pile of hamburger that used to be Earl Roland and it was everything Ford could do not to puke up his lunch right there. He wheeled away out of the cell and up against the rail looking down on the control bay to steady himself.

PRESIDENT
Where is the so-called President-elect?

ED
Mr. President, the President-elect together with the assassin are being taken out of the complex by six Secret Service agents, against my better wishes. Apparently there was a disagreement among those six agents as well, we’ve found the bodies of two of them they shot up and left behind.

The President looked to his own Secret Service agents.

PRESIDENT
See to it.

And it occurred to Ed Conley just then, much too late, that the dead agents were fill of DECON lead, and he hadn’t thought about that. So he started thinking about making his own way out of the mountain.

DUTY OFFICER
We count twelve incoming bogeys, possibly Church of Green Dome air assets come to pull the assassin out.

PRESIDENT (to Ed Conley)
You handle it. All I want right now is a private office with a computer terminal and total access to the files. And by that I do mean all of them.

The cliff on the east side of the base of Yellow Mountain was pierced with eight large four-story high helicopter hangers opening on a large landing area. Here was where DECON’s dreaded black Sikorsky H-5 helicopters were maintained and stowed. Hunky noticed that close up they weren’t really black at all, but dark green.

A small company was guarding the hanger where Del’s party happened to emerge, with about fifty alert troops. Del squeezed Hunky’s hands to assure her, then stepped out to try a supreme bluff.

DEL (snapping to the company commander)
Report!

LT ROSS
I’m Lieutenant Ross, Ma’am. Hangar Six is all secure. All personnel are present and accounted for.

He did not question her bizarre uniform or her strange, unknown accent. After all, it was Protocol Red. If she was still moving around, then she obviously had the authority to do so no matter who she was. But Hunky’s orange prison uniform raised eyebrows.

DEL (pointing at Hunky)
Do you recognize this civilian?

ROSS
Yes Ma’am, it’s the reporter we took into custody at Mount Rushmore.

DEL
The alert was called away because the Vice-President of the United States is dead and his killer has escaped. The enemy is already here and they want this woman. They will try to get this woman come hell or high water.

ROSS
I understand the danger, Ma’am.

DEL
Then I turn her over to you, lieutenant.

For a moment Hunky thought that this was some kind of double cross, like when Edgar went over to Thaumiel’s camp. But Del looked back again, her attention caught by the appearance of the company commander’s rifle. She came strolling right back and ordered the man to present arms. Then Del did a thorough inspection of the exterior, with sarcastic military flair. Then all kidding aside, with practiced motions she broke the weapon down to it’s component parts while humming to herself. Finally she turned back to the officer.

DEL
Lieutenant, tell me why is there light machine oil all over everything in your rifle except where it belongs?

ROSS
Ma’am, I have no explanation.

DEL
How about your men? Round them up. Let’s have a quick personnel inspection.

They left their posts in the nooks and crannies of the hangar and formed up on Del’s makeshift parade grounds right in the middle of the hangar. Del, Hunky, the President-elect, the four Secret Service agents and the company commander got halfway down the first rank before Del stopped and shook her head sadly.

DEL
Lieutenant this is a major safety hit. I won’t have any of your soldier’s half-assed work, inspired by you, causing a hang fire.

ROSS
My apologies, Ma’am. I can offer no excuse.

DEL
If this was a drill I’d let it go. But this is Protocol Red! It’s the real thing! Instruct your men to disassemble and quickly clean their weapons. Handguns too! Everything!

ROSS
Yes Ma’am!

DEL
It’s a disgrace. And in front of civilians too! I’ll tell you what, Lieutenant Ross. I’ll make you a deal. I won’t report this.

ROSS
Thank you, Ma’am.

DEL
But I am going to take the prisoner to Hangar Seven.

ROSS
I understand, Ma’am.

Del’s team are nearly all the way across the hangar floor when a hundred security men finally catch up and enter, anxiously looking for them. Some of these men are pilots who pile into the helicopter. But what they all saw defies belief: the DECON duty officer started rolling up the large hangar door leading outside to the landing pad in preparation for the launch of the helicopter. And fifty soldiers had let Del’s people slip past them because they were all sitting flat on the floor, legs spread out, with their weapons disassembled in tiny pieces all around them.

Ed Conley is watching it now on the monitor in the control bay. He screams for an override on the door, and gets it. The door begins to shut again after opening only three feet.

The bursts from the DECON security men’s rifles begin to hit around them, some very closely. Under fire, partially protected by Hunky’s macro in full mushroom bloom, Del, the President-elect, the four Secret Service agents and finally Hunky drop and roll under the closing hangar door just before it slams shut.

They are safe for perhaps one minute.

Three flying saucers arrive on the landing pad, piloted, respectively, by Dory, Jill, and Mike Morrich. Mike had miraculously survived the nuclear annihilation of Washington DC on the original timeline and became a member of the B’nei Elohim, but he had never accepted the Name Ritual.

MIKE
I was about to give up on your ass.

Del and one of the Secret Service agents sit in the webbing slung across the central core. In Dory’s second saucer the President-elect and two more agents pile in. Jill gets Hunky and the last agent. Then everyone’s stomachs clench as the saucers accelerate sharply upward, and the ground drops quickly away.

SCOOP
Am really I seeing this? Flying saucers?

DORY
Why not? It’s the same trick as the macros. Make the air go away over the roof and you get a bubble of low pressure, hence lift. And a macro makes its own power the more it eats. Basically we’re just like a helicopter but with unlimited fuel.

DECON already had three birds of their own in the air, and they have five more getting prepped to fly. But Del’s wing has twelve units already in the air. Del tells everyone flying them, via Neutrinonet, to play a little Three Card Monte, and the twelve flying saucers mix it up like gnats for a while, until nobody watching can be sure which one holds who. They even make a point of mixing up any attempt to track them on radar by briefly pointing the top of the saucers back toward the transmitter at DECON now and again. If air molecules disappeared, it goes without saying that radar pulses do too. Then in one coordinated move the twelve saucers split up to every point of the compass.

In a thirty mile circle centered on the point where Wyoming, South Dakato, and Nebraska all come together a dozen dilapidated trucks have been prepared, waiting on the side of various dirt farm roads. Most of these are decoys. Hunky and one of the Secret Service agents named Gwen Scott is set down by Jill on the Wyoming side, and Hunky jumps out to get in the truck.
GWEN
Whoa, whoa, we got a problem now. We’ve fulfilled our mandate to protect the President-elect but now our mandate is to investigate the death of the Vice-President. You’re a material witness, Hunky, perhaps even the perp, I can’t let you out of my sight. You must know how it is.

HUNKY
You were right there, you came into my cell before you let the President-elect come in, it was a polywire web. Yeah I set it up but what is there for you to investigate? I didn’t want to get any more electric shock torture from Roland. How about you investigate that? Shit. Me, I’m for out of here.

Gwen points her gun at Hunky. And Hunky, with intense sadness, points her macro right back at her.

HUNKY
This entire operation was put together to get me out of that Yellow Mountain shithole, I’m not going to let you follow your stupid rules and put me back in there, which is exactly what would happen. So we part ways right here, Special Agent Scott, like it or not. Jill, take her to meet the rest of her team.

Already five of the decoy saucers have stopped for a few minutes by five decoy trucks, then the saucers and the trucks go their merry way. Del is dumped off on the Nebraska side and starts heading for Crawford. She sees two black helicopters crossing the sky as she drives across the Ogala National Grassland, green from recent rains, but the choppers are looking for flying saucers, which, of course, is the whole point of the B’nei Elohim using the trucks.

On the South Dakota side, Dory is speaking to Ted Hickey and the President-elect when Jill and Mike come in, bringing their one agent apiece.

DORY (to Scoop Jackson)
He got to you, didn’t he? The Vice-President? Pulled out all the DECON stops?

Jill arrives just in time to hear the President-elect admit that it is true.

SCOOP
Sex videos. Stuff that would have killed my campaign.

DORY
You see, that’s how America works these days, and we don’t like it. We never did. They call us the enemy within, Domestic Enemies, right? But that crap you saw up there in the mountain? Torture? Extortion? That’s what we’ve been fighting since ’43. And I’m telling you to stand by for heavy weather, Mr. Jackson, because we saw the President go in to DECON just as you were coming out.

Mike comes up, catches the jist of what Dory is saying, and throws in his two cents.

MIKE
Best case scenario, Ford deletes whatever crap the Vice-President had on him, goes home, and in two days you and Jeane Kirkpatrick are sworn in. I presume you are going to dismantle DECON if that’s the case.

SCOOP
You are absolutely right. I’m going to tear DECON down to molecules and hold everyone who put it together responsible. If that was the object of this entire exercise, folks, then consider it a resounding success.

MIKE
Well, let’s not celebrate just yet. Worst case scenario, Ford calls off the inauguration and uses DECON to squash any impeachment flack he might get from Congress. At that point all you will have is a sort of government in exile. You’ll be like the Dalai Lama. We consider ourselves real American patriots, so we will offer what help we can, which is considerable, but it is pathetic that the United States has come to this. And historic, any way you look at it. How does the ancient Chinese curse go? May you live in interesting times? We might be looking at a second American civil war.

JILL
Between the best and worst cases are scenarios that are a mix of the two. We’ve gamed all this stuff out. In most of our scenarios, President Ford releases whatever crap DECON had on you to the media. You will have to be prepared for that to happen.

SCOOP
Hunky suggested to me that whatever it was that I thought was crap wasn’t really crap, and I’ve started to think she might be right. The stuff I saw in Yellow Mountain, now, that really was crap. But you, Special Agent Hickey, where do you come down on all this?

TED
I am carrying out my oath to protect the President-elect of the United States. Until such time as you are sworn in as Commander-in Chief, I will continue to carry out that oath, and I will expect the agents under me to carry out theirs.

GWEN:
Yes sir, but I think I just made an enemy out of Hunky. I tried to keep her from leaving my sight because I knew she was mixed up with the assassination of the Vice-President but it quickly came to an armed standoff and she left. Threatening a federal officer is another offense, by the way.

Henry “Scoop” Jackson crawls into one of the waiting farm trucks, one driven by a third Secret Service agent. He rolls down the passenger-side window.

SCOOP
I was in that God-forsaken mountain. I watched Earl Roland torture Hunky and she was simply doing what she could to keep it from happening again. If it comes down to it, when I’m President I will pardon Hunky myself, and also any of you for helping me if the Secret Service tries to retaliate for you going rogue. Now let’s get the hell out of Dodge.