Saturday, October 24, 2015

Superpowers: I Have a Plan (Part III)

Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the entire story.

Though Federama was governed by a single system, and everyone within the government was on board with Governor Stockton’s vision, not all citizens were. Roma Tanner, the de facto leader of a coastal city was the primary voice against the mission. He had not been elected to any position, but he was the owner of a variety of different small shops, so many looked to him for general guidance. Every single day since the beginning of Stage One, Tanner requested audience with Stockton. His family had immigrated from Russia, which would very obviously be the focus of Stage Three, so his urgency was growing. Following the completion of Stage Two, Stockton was feeling comfortable with his position, and finally called for a meeting with Tanner.
“Why have you been avoiding me?”
“I’ve not,” Stockton promised him. “I’ve been busy, with obvious crises.”
“Yes, I’ve heard. I’m here to discuss some concerns. I’m not happy with you threatening the lives of my brothers and sisters around the world.”
“I’m not happy with it either,” Stockton agreed. “I felt I had no choice. If they don’t think we are capable of protecting ourselves, then we encourage them to come after us. I’m not the one who invented mutually assured destruction.”
“This isn’t mutual. Every time you take their weapons, and keep them for yourself, you are succeeding in increasing your own.”
“I have a plan.”
“I know. I’m trying to tell you that it’s not working.”
“No, I’m not talking about the plans to disarm the world. That’s going swimmingly. I mean I have a plan for what to do with the weapons once I’ve collected them all.
“And so what is it?”
Stockton took a sip from his tea. “I’m afraid that such information is known only to myself.”
“You’re telling me that your lieutenants and subordinates follow your ambitions blindly, without even knowing how it ends?”
“They trust me. You should too.”
“No, I should not. Your threat of nuclear retaliation is not working. All signs point to the very real possibility that Russia is calling your bluff and is planning on deploying missiles against us.”
“I have a contingency in place if this were to happen.”
“And I suppose you’re not going to tell me that either?”
“You would be correct.”
“You couldn’t possibly have enough spies in Russia, like you did with China. Their recruitment program is notoriously difficult to get through. The statistics on failouts are staggering. No one really knows what happens in the spy world, but it’s a common rumor that Usonia has been trying and failing for years to embed spies in Russia, or at least informants.”
“I don’t have any spies,” Stockton answered with a shrug. “But I have intelligence. I know where most of their weapons are. We’re still working on it. I would have liked more time, but these are the cards I was dealt.”
“No, Stockton, that’s not true. You’re the one dealing the cards. You’re the instigator of all this. And you have to stop. It’s only going to get worse. Usonia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, by an astronomical margin.”
Stockton chuckled. “That’s funny what you just said there. It’s not funny now, but it’ll be funny later. Trust me.”
Tanner ignored his remark. “What are you going to do when you inevitably reach the Stage for Usonia? They’re going to be the hardest.”
“Yes, they are. But that’s why I’m holding off on them. I’m hoping after I’m finished with France and the U.K., they’ll choose to disarm themselves.”
“That’s not going to happen. No one is going to do that.”
“We’re already talking to India about it.”
“Yes, they intend to disarm of their own accord. We’re just discussing specifics.”
Tanner seemed genuinely impressed with this, even knowing how supportive India had been throughout this whole endeavor. “Either way, that’s them. What about everyone else?”
“I’m handling each nuclear nation differently. I have considered all of the angles. Every single point of retaliation or resistance, I’ve planned for it.”
“I am a point of resistance, as are my constituents. Have you planned for us?”
“Indeed. In fact, I was putting off this meeting so that you can be here on this specific day. What you said about Russia is true, and will mark a turning point in our grand mission. We have been monitoring their communications, and we believe that they are about to, as you said, call my bluff very soon. Within minutes, actually.”
“Well, what are you going to do about it?”
“I have a plan.”
“Stop saying that!”
Stockton shrugged again. “It’s true.”
“It’s also meaningless to someone as ignorant on the matter as I am. If you want me to trust you, then read me in.”
He shook his head. “The only way I know that I can trust you is if I don’t read you in. You have to make the decision yourself.”
“What does that even mean?”
“You will soon have a choice. You can either push the button, and show me that you love your constituents, or you can do nothing, and risk not only this mission, but the lives of everyone you know.”
“I don’t understand.”
Governor Stockton’s special red phone rang. “Ah, here’s the call now.” He answered. “Yes, Mister Lazarov. What do you hear from the airwaves?” He waited for a response. “Are you sure?” He waited once more. “Have they already deployed?”
Deployed?” Tanner repeated. “What’s happening?”
Stockton placed his hand over the mouthpiece and whispered, “Russia’s gonna nuke us.”
“Thank you very much, Radimir. My love to your family.” He hung up and walked over to the other side of the room.”
“They’ve already sent a missile, haven’t they? We have to get everyone to the bunkers.”
Stockton unlocked a cabinet and pulled a drawer from it. There was a single mauve button on it. He simply presented it to Tanner, as if trying to sell him a car.
Tanner jumped up and pushed the button without hesitation. Sirens went off across the entire island. Everyone and their mother was headed for safety in the bunkers below. “Is that going to be enough? Will the bunkers keep them safe?”
“Some of them, yes. The coastal bunkers couldn’t be dug too deep, but the Russians are almost certainly aiming for the center. For the people there, probably not. The Amadesins built the bunkers to protect themselves from that day’s technology, not today’s.”
“This is crazy!”
“I know. They’re all so shortsighted.”
“No, I mean what’s happening right now! The Russian missile will be here in, what, thirty minutes?”
“Closer to twenty.”
“You did this!” Tanner screamed. “You put us all in danger, and now it’s coming to fruition. Was this your plan? To have everyone die? I imagine you have a bunker that goes down a thousand sheam. You and your friends will be safe, while your country burns around you.”
“Nonsense,” the governor replied. “I’m staying right here.” He fiddled with a few instruments on the console. “Remember when we renovated my office a few years ago? I had to lobby for the tax money, even though it was seemingly frivolous?”
“Yes, as I recall, that was the first time we heard you say, I have a plan.”
“Well, I’m sorry to inform you that the renovation was mostly frivolous.” He playfully finished the sequence of commands on his instruments. The ceiling above them began to open up. “I couldn’t pass up the chance to have the best seat in the house. There’s no way I’m going down to a bunker.”
“We’re in the middle of the island,” Tanner said while watching with interest as the ceiling continued to disappear. “It’ll fall right on top of us.”
“It’ll try.” He casually placed his sunglasses on his face.
After the ceiling was finished, a set of television screens rose from the floor, cycling through security footage from around the island. Stockton was not lying about having technology beyond the day at his disposal.
After time, the screens showed that no one was left on the streets, or even above ground level. “Tell me your plan,” Tanner insisted.
“I need to know if I can trust you. I’ve told you this.” He unlocked a second cabinet, and released a second drawer. A yellow button this time. “Push this. I’m not going to tell you what it does. But I can tell you that it will surprise Russia like none other.”
Tanner hesitated. “I can’t. I would rather die than send a barrage of missiles towards my enemies.”
“So you agree? My vision is right and good.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“And I didn’t say that the yellow button would deploy a missile.”
The security screens transformed to show the perspective of a single camera, each one revealing only part of the picture. The missile from Russia was on its way.”
“It’s your choice, Roma. Are you going to push the button or not? You have to decide in the next minute or two.”
Tanner stood there, stunned and sweating. He desperately exchanged looks between the yellow button, and the security screen. Fearful and feeling no other way out, he reached over and smashed his hand into the button. It opened a secret door from the bookcase. A woman came out of it. “Really, Stockton? Those theatrics? I say...”
“I knew you would come out on your own, in plenty of time, if he ended up not pushing it. You are nothing if not reliable, Mrs. Blackmore.”
“What’s going on?” Tanner cried.
Stockton handed Tanner a pair of sunglasses. “You might want these.”
Mrs. Blackmore walked to the center of the room and lifted her arms. The security camera became useless as they could now see the missile headed towards them with their own eyes. Tanner continued to sweat. A magical yellow light came out of Mrs. Blackmore’s hands and shot towards the missile. It overcame the deadly weapon, and in one bright flash of light, disappeared it.
Tanner removed his glasses and continued to stare as the yellow light faded away to reveal blue skies. “What the hell was that?”
“Oh yeah, you should know,” Stockton said with a smile. “Superpowers exist.” Click here for the next installment...

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