Saturday, November 14, 2015

Superpowers: Exile (Part VI)

Enemy of the state, Ellaraitch strode into Governor Stockton’s office with that same smug look on his face he always had. What else could be expected from someone who refused to divulge either his first or last name to the public; insisting that people refer to him by the one name alone? One thing to note about the Amadesis religion was that there were many extremely disparate sects. The main characteristics that held them all together were that they were all evil, they all believed in a single path to enlightenment, and they all considered harming others to be best practice. The largest sect engaged in a sick form of polygamy that not only allowed, but encouraged, child rape, along with good ol’ fashioned incest. Another tortured victims so badly that they were corrupted enough to join up themselves. There was even one that believed in some sort of presumably unknowable hierarchy where only a select few members would get into heaven, so that even being part of it didn’t guarantee you happiness.
Ellaraitch was the head of a sect of Amadesis that was the lesser of many evils; at the time, at least. He originally became famous as a prolific science fiction writer, churning out crap stories like cancer cells. He was known for charging new members with increasingly more money each time for therapeutic treatments, and for creating a level of privileged secrecy surpassed by none other. He would go on to be far more dangerous to the world, but for the moment, Stockton thought of him as the only way to reach his goals. Ellaraitch had always been against the violence of other Amadesins; particularly the ones that sent the bomb to Utah, but not because he wasn’t himself violent, but because he considered their methods to be tactless and unsophisticated. He fancied himself more strategic than that, and he would prove this to be true once his sect began to spiral out of control, and become dominant.
“I can help you remove the nuclear weapons of the U.K., but you’re not going to like how I plan to do it.” Ellaraitch sat in what was supposed to be Stockton’s chair, and drank his glass of alcohol. It wasn’t technically illegal on the island, but only because it never seemed necessary to pass a law.
“I’m not going to hurt anyone. I regret every casualty of the Korean invasion. I need the next step to be seamless and painless. If it can’t be, then I would rather just give up.”
“I do not intend to hurt anyone. It will hurt, yes, but not physically. It’ll only hurt you, because it’s going to take much longer than you wanted, and it’s not going to make you look good.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Have you heard of Tygreve Melsbach?”
Stockton thought back to his primary school days. “A leader of Belgium; the one who was exiled? That was centuries ago.”
“The important part of the lesson is not that he was exiled, but that he later returned to power. Like you, he took on an impossible mission, and suffered many setbacks before just losing completely.”
“Yeah...” Stockton was waiting for a point.
“And so he was sent to an island, much smaller than this one. He lived there for the better part of two decades, until secretly escaping, gathering support, and taking back his throne.”
“Go on.”
“If he had tried to steal back power immediately after exilement, he would have failed. It was that time he spent away that made it work. In that time, the world changed. Trade deals were made, canals were dug, leaders came and went. By the time he left the island, he had been all but forgotten. He used this infamy to his advantage, knowing that the day’s leadership would severely underestimate his strength.”
“Are you asking me to go into exile?”
“Not exile. That wouldn’t work for you; not in modern times. But you have to fully accept your role as the world’s pariah. You have to suffer a scandal, get yourself sanctioned by the Confederacy, and then Federama has to wait at least five years before doing anything else that gets it noticed. You have to throw your little nation into obscurity so people let their guard down and stop worrying about what you do next.”
“This sounds like a trick to get me out of the way, so that you can take control of the Amadesins. You need the spotlight, and my mission is in your way right now.”
“This is true,” Ellaraitch conceded. “I see a benefit to my movement, but that doesn’t mean you cannot benefit as well.”
“Five years. Of just...doing nothing?”
“After the scandal, yes,” Ellaraitch reminded him.
“Of course, and what do you suggest this scandal be?”
“The United Kingdom.”
“Oh, that explains it. Thanks.”
“An attack from the United Kingdom, is what I mean; apparent attack from them. They won’t actually have anything to do with it.”
“I have people in high offices of the U.K. They can make it look like they’re attacking you, but it’ll actually be your people. They can come in with a bunch of those—what are they called—helicopters. Soldiers will descend on the island, start shooting up the place, and steal all the weapons back.” He put up air quotes for the last few words.
Stockton just stared at the man for a minute or so. “You sound like an idiot. Well, even more of an idiot than usual. That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”
“They don’t have to be helicopters. They could be narrow-body jet airliners. We’ll claim the British threw the bombs into a volcano, along with a bunch of poor unfortunate souls. If you think what you did was bad, just wait until the public hears about the U.K. throwing people into a volcano.”
“This isn’t one of your bad books, Ellaraitch,” Stockton raised his voice. “This is real life. You can’t just come up with plot twists and narratively presentable fabrications to fit the story corner you’ve painted yourself into. This is why your religion is complete nonsense. No one would believe something like that. Airliners? In a volcano? Come on!”
He shrugged. “We can make it work.”
“No, we can’t. You’re asking thousands of people to keep quiet a huge and ridiculous lie.”
“Haven’t you already done that? No one knows what you’re really planning to do with these nuclear weapons. And your mission was a perfect secret until you actually began to execute it.”
“That was based on a system of compartmentalization. Not everyone is on board with this, and people have loose lips. The secret of the fact that the British never invaded my shores would be revealed eventually.”
“Sure, maybe in 1995, or something. But you won’t have to worry about that. We’re not going to just write a news story about the invasion, we’re going to actually stage one. Your citizens will be convinced that it happened because they’ll see it with their own eyes.”
It took a few more hours of discussion, but Governor Stockton was eventually persuaded to agree to the plan. It was the most frustrating thing that had ever happened to him, even up against the past year’s of problems. He knew in his soul that what Ellaraitch had come up with was ludicrous, but the more the man spoke, the more reasonable he sounded. It was evidently his superpower to make people believe preposterous lies wholeheartedly, and Stockton found he had no choice but to exploit that for his own gain. A few months following the conversation, “the United Kingdom” came in with helicopters—not airliners—with precision strike forces, conveniently similar to the ones that Stockton had deployed for his earlier missions. They recorded a series of carefully placed explosions with grainy and fuzzy security cameras.
A few Federama citizens were claimed to have been killed, while others were just kidnapped, along with the bombs and missiles. In reality, they were all removed from the island and taken to what Stockton had always referred to as the second location. He hadn’t needed much time to prepare for this, because this small island in Antarctica was already being used to house the actual weapons stolen from other countries. It was just another method of compartmentalization. If anything went wrong, he wanted the least number of people to be at risk of being within the blast radius. Even the strike teams didn’t originally know where the second location was. After each stage, they would place the weapons on a ship so that a different team could take them away.
The handful of people said to have been kidnapped had agreed to sacrifice their lives. They were either single people with no families, or entire families that were willing to relocate to a secret base in the middle of nowhere. They told the world that the United Kingdom military was responsible for this travesty. The Confederacy began an investigation, and they were unable to come up with any other legitimate explanation. As a kind of punishment, the U.K. was ordered to relinquish their own nuclear weapons, despite the fact that the ones supposedly stolen from Federama were never recovered. These British weapons were transported to an unknown location in Usonia, which was both disgusting and helpful to Stockton’s plans. Now, according to the world consciousness, Usonia was the only nation in the world with nuclear arms. That didn’t seem safe, but it did mean that there was only one more step in disarming the world entirely.
Governor Stockton continued to lead Federama, but with little global intrigue, for less than a year. He was then asked to step down from his position, and was replaced by his frenemy, Roma Tanner. Stockton left the island and joined the sacrificed in Antarctica. He waited there for three years, working on his plans for disarming the most powerful country in the world. The United States of Northern Integrated America. Usonia.

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