Thank you for continuing to read DARK PRINCE. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
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I would like to refer you to my other stories appearing on Nifty: GAMES AT DEAUVILLE currently appearing in the Beginnings and historical folders as well as FLIGHT AT PEENEMÜNDE that is complete at both folders.
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"Karl, what's the latest on this fascist thing of your?" Tom asked as he stood behind me at the piano. Emil had gone out early to hunt. I turned to face the man whom I had followed to America.
"Emil and I have removed some of their allies recently," I offered and wondered why he had asked. Tom MacPherson was the least political person I had ever known. He simply would not allow himself to have a thought on the subject.
"Are they close to coming to power or something?"
"Hopefully, we've slowed them down -- why?"
"I went for a walk this afternoon -- down by the Tidal Basin." I waited. "I watched five helicopters fly along the Potomac -- it was sort of eerie actually. They just rose over the Fourteenth Street Bridge. They looked like wasps flying in single file as they went down the middle of the river towards Arlington. It looked like they turned in at Fort Myers."
"What made you ask about the fascist movement?" I demanded, giving vent to the curiosity he'd awoken.
"Each one had its doors opened as they flew by. There was a guy sitting behind a mounted machine gun in each one." He frowned. "It was sort of like those gunners were just waiting a command to start shooting. Can you imagine what they could do if they went to Lafayette Park across from the White House with orders to start shooting?"
I stared at Tom MacPherson, paralysed by shock. I certainly could imagine what a calvary charge from the air could do to a population, and that was what he was essentially suggesting.
I had been seriously deficient in how I envisioned America's Fascisti taking over the government. I had not given thought to their need for a military arm. Yet, I had personally watched the rise of the fascist governments in Europe during the 1920s and 30s. Not one of them would have succeeded without the mailed fist an army provided them against those who would take to the streets.
I had been rummaging through Trellum's mind for nearly a month and I had not once thought to look for his military support. I had thought to spy on these people -- and be the foil to their plans for America. How illogical of me.
How foolish. I could only be glad that the army had not already marched into my house and killed us all.
I faced Tom and wished Emil was already returned. I needed time to give Davis Trellum a headache that he would not soon forget. And anyone else who had more information than he did.
"You said soldiers were sitting in the open cabins with guns mounted as they flew by?" I asked.
He nodded. "What do you think it means, Karl?"
"It was probably just a training mission of some sort." I was sure it was, but I did not want to frighten Tom with my suspicions.
"That's probably it." He chuckled. "I was ready to see boogy-men wherever I looked after that."
"Why? Is there more?"
"Probably not. I was on Pennsylvania near the Capitol building this morning -- some general was in a hurry."
I cocked my head.
"One humvee pulled right out into the intersection with Capitol Avenue, a soldier jumped out and stopped traffic while the general and another humvee pulled onto Pennsylvania. The soldier got back into the first humvee and raced off after the general's car."
"Soldiers aren't traffic police, are they?" I asked, knowing the answer already.
"Not off-base, they aren't -- unless they're in a convoy ... I almost forgot! This one made to pull his gun when a couple of cars tried to make it through the intersection."
"How did you know it was a general?"
"His car was flying little red flags with a star in them -- one on each of the front fenders."
Generals were important even in a democracy. At least, they thought they were and I suspected it to be likely that politicians still generally agreed with them. But this sounded like what I imagined Berlin to have been like after 1940. With military staff cars rushing their generals from a meeting among themselves to one with Hermann Göring and finally to one with the Führer. I was not willing to believe that the government of the District of Columbia had surrendered its right to regulate traffic inside its borders.
I had most definitely been blind as I became involved with American fascism. Trellum's allies Emil and I had visited were important, but they were but minor players in the developing drama. They were the rubbish that Trellum had called upon to do his dirtiest work so he did not sully his own organisation's image.
Where was Emil? I needed him now to keep Tom occupied. I had information to pull from unwilling minds. I had months of my ignorance to catch up on. And, if generals now felt so important that they consciously violated traffic law, I suspected things were coming to a head sooner rather than later.
"Tom, I need to think," I told him. "Would you leave me alone for a while?"
He blinked in surprise at my request. Neither Emil nor I had ever dismissed him in the nearly two months that he had been living with us. "Liebchen, you've given me information that concerns me. I want to get to the bottom of it -- and quickly."
"How're you going to do that at this time of night?"
I smiled, a faint curl of my lips. "There are minds which I can explore."
His expression was incredulous. "You mean that you know what's happening before it even happens?"
"Only if I know what I'm looking for. Sergei Alexandrovitch knows what it's like to read an uncooperative mind, let him explain how difficult it is."
"You think this army stuff is important then?"
"I hadn't even thought about a military arm to this. I haven't explored it. But it's so necessary if these people are to be successful." I shuddered. "And what you've just told me implies that the putsch could be soon."
He studied me for a moment. "Okay, Karl. But I'd like to know what's going on. It's one thing when it's just some crazy nuts out there doing this stuff; it gets scary when the US Army is pulled into it. You won't keep me in the dark?"
"I'll tell you what I learn when I tell Emil."
He nodded and turned. "I love you -- both of you," he called out as he walked towards the door.
* * *
Trellum's mind roiled like a storm-tossed sea as I entered it. I was not gentle. I did not care if the man knew I was there. There was a putsch being planned and I would know when that was.
It was not just America that I sought to protect with the knowledge I found within him; it was the very essence of freedom -- the dream of it that men like Thomas Jefferson throughout history had dreamt of -- that I would not allow to be destroyed. If that gave Davis Trellum a headache, I was not going to feel sorry for him. At least, I would let him live, so that he could nurse the headache I gave him.
Suspicion and fear. He'd found no-one in the Christian Center's files who could be a spy. He had no doubt any man could be turned. And the zealots with whom Reverend Patterson had surrounded himself were the easiest to turn. All it took with a zealot was for one link in his faith to be broken and the man collapsed like a house of cards.
It wasn't because everyone in the Center was so trustworthy. It was because none of them had the knowledge of how to extract the information that could destroy the revolution. There was no sign of improper entry into the Center's files. No-one had surfed from one file to another. The tracking programme he himself had install just in case that ever happened showed no signs of activity. No hackers had broken through either, the tracking programme would have spotted them.
Maybe whoever it was hadn't learnt about the CMUM attacking the homos in West Hollywood. His boys had operated without interference for almost two weeks now. He was almost ready to turn that over to the skinheads -- and bring Barber and his men back east. He figured he'd only leave there another week at most.
But someone knew what was happening -- or most of it. Someone or something. And they were destroying the tools he'd forged to carry the revolution into power. It couldn't be a man, he told himself, even as he knew it had to be. But, if it wasn't a man, what was it?
God? He sniggered at that one. He gave up all of the Santa Claus characters when he was thirteen. There wasn't one damned argument anyone could use to prove the existence of a god or a Satan -- and men had been trying since the first priest convinced some dumb farmer to sacrifice his dinner to feed him. What was there then -- if he couldn't blame this shit on a god or devil?
He remembered that Reverend Patterson had suggested it might be a vampire playing havoc with his plans. He wanted to laugh, like Patterson had when he said it. Only, he couldn't forget the torn throats and the sucked out bodies that looked like Egyptian mummies.
I wasn't interested in watching this mortal try to decide if it was possible that I existed. |When?| I demanded.
Instantly, I was inundated with bombs blowing up all around me. Thousands of them. I knew each blast to be a television or telephone relay. Communication would become a trickle. The internet would grind to a halt. The electric grid too would be hit. The bombs were already in place. Men under the command of General Howell would set them off on the night of the 31st of July. The next day Reed Stephens would declare martial law.
I sat at my piano and stared at the keyboard in shock. The whole army would be involved. Somehow, I had supposed that there would be only a few small units scurrying around trying to maintain order while the tentacles of the Fascisti octopus began its possession.
|The whole army?| I asked, praying for a different answer.
All military units would go on alert at the time. The plans were already drawn up. Army units would begin patrolling every city in America with orders to shoot to kill at any sign of resistance. Military officers who questioned the imposition of martial law would be removed from their post; those who were questionable would be watched.
I searched deep into Trellum's mind but he did not know the particulars. General Howell was responsible for anything military. I recognised the mental picture Trellum had of Howell. He was Stephen's military aide. I learnt one more thing from Trellum before I left his mind.
The president of the United States was to be assassinated on the 30th of July, the day before the bombs began to explode. Two first strike units from the CMUM would take of that. They didn't mind killing.
I stood in the window and stared out the night-covered park beyond the wrought-iron fence that protected my property. That held back the insanity that roamed across the dark face of America. I didn't want to believe. No sane man would.
The vice president was the focus for the insanity that now prowled just beyond my reach. Could the man know of the plans that would propel him to power? I couldn't believe it. I had touched his mind at the soiree my embassy had held for me in the winter. It was logical, so organised. No sane man could condone the programme that Trellum had developed.
Gripping my wrists behind me, I searched for the remembered wisps of thought that would identify Reed Stephens' mind. I wanted to know if he understood what was planned in his name.
I found nothing.
The vice president was either dead or not in Washington, DC. I had heard nothing of his death, so I assumed the latter.
I had touched General Randolf Howell's thoughts at the soiree, too. I found quickly that the general was in the national capital. He was also alive and well. He was watching his son's soccer game.
I instantly felt his sense of security and traced it deeper into his thoughts. Soldiers. They were everywhere. Most of the men in the bleachers with him were in military uniform, high-ranking officers like he was. I understood that they were at Fort Myers in Virginia, across the Potomac river from the District. Their sons were on the two teen-aged soccer teams playing on the field.
I was glad he felt secure -- it would be easier to read his mind and remain unsensed as I did so.
Behind his sense of immediate personal security inside the army post, General Howell had doubts, doubts that gnawed at him. There was fear behind the stockade he had built to guard it.
He still wanted April for the putsch. He couldn't understand why Trellum had shoved it back to the end of July.
I trembled. April? The month that was but one week away? I had been oblivious to the use of the military; and my deficiency had almost had a horrible cost.
So what if some of the rabble had been killed? Trellum's collateral forces were going to be hunted down and killed anyway. It was the only way to protect the coup -- one peep from those crazies in the Aryan Order and the whole thing would have come down around everybody's ears. The skinheads, the militias, all of those freaks -- as soon as the army had effective control, he'd send the six divisions he could trust after them and root them out.
But Trellum had somehow convinced Patterson to put it off. He probably couldn't find three marksmen among his street brawlers or those crazies who hid out in the woods and played at war. It didn't take marksmen -- those days were forty years ago when the CIA and FBI wiped out Kennedy. All it would take is one hand-held missile.
Those things brought down Soviet helicopters like flies. And anybody could get one twenty years after the Afghan war, they were a dime a dozen on the international arms market. With one of those, even his kid could take out the presidential limousine and the boy wasn't worth shit with a gun.
Trellum was planning something. That much was pretty obvious. Even Stephens had figured that out. Only, what was it? Howell was forty-five years old. He wanted two more stars -- three, if he could get them. He didn't need to be left holding the bag if Trellum was going funny on them.
Realisation struck the general as his son lost the ball and the other team began to move it back down the field. He would be left holding the bag if Patterson was in on whatever funny stuff Trellum might be smoking. The army would have his ass but good. The bitch of it was that he was already in too far to pull out. There was no way to hide the training he'd already put in place. The long and short of it was that he had to pull off the coup or Randolf Howell was dead meat.
It was just as well that helicopter crews across the country had begun training in civilian control already. If Trellum or even Patterson were planning on pulling a fast one, he could push the vice president to go ahead. They'd find a mercenary to take out the president. In the Oval Office, Stephens would have to impose martial law -- just to save his own hide. Or because Howell was holding a gun to his head.
His son had managed to steal the ball and was racing down the field with it. There was only the goalie between him and a score. All thought of the Fascisti programme was forgotten as Howell stood up and began to pump his arm and scream his support to the boy on the field.
I knew enough. I also knew that Howell was too mercurial to trust. I knew instantly that "trust" was not the correct word -- one did not "trust" one's enemy. But Trellum planned. He was logical. If he found a problem, he pulled back and searched out the cause of his problem. He did not proceed until he could again command events. He was logical. Howell was not. It made him dangerous.
What did I do about it? That was the question. Really, it was two questions -- what I did about Trellum's well-planned putsch and how I prevented Howell from reacting out of fear. Trellum I could stay in step with -- parrying any move he made with my own.
My physical strength and immortality meant I could actually stay a step ahead of him -- as long as he continued to remain logical. Howell would react out of desperation and his action would invoke the entirety of the United States military. My strength and immortality could not compete with that.
I had to talk to Emil, but my thought was that Howell should be removed as soon as possible. Dead, he could do nothing.
* * *
I had thought to discuss what I had learnt with just Emil, tétè a tétè. Tom had been in New York when our Swiss lover and I destroyed the Aryan Order. He had been there when we went hunting in the Great Smokies. He had shown no interest in what he chose to call my fixation with the religious right -- until tonight. And he had Würther's distaste for killing. It was only logical to exclude him. I should have known better. Silly me.
The three of sat together in the living room, a prim, proper war council. ."These men -- Trellum and Howell -- they are the fascist's managers. They are the ones who make destabilisation and the putsch work. Reed Stephens appears to be mostly the figurehead who would seem to lead. The preacher, Bob Patterson, however is the heart of the programme."
I explained what I knew from both Trellum's and Howell's minds. I lay out my fear of Howell, his impulsiveness. I emphasised that if the general let the genie out of the bottle, there was nothing any of us could do against the military occupation he would unleash. Trellum's plans never involved more than a few men at a time, the general's threatened millions with the resulting bureaucracy and inertia that entailed. I wanted General Howell dead before he felt endangered and released that held chaos back.
"Why don't you just kill them all? This Patterson -- all of them?"
I frowned. "That would destroy the one threat. But it only cuts off the head of this monster. The people who would follow these men, however -- they'll only go back to waiting for another man to come riding in on a white hors -- or develop their own."
"So you would kill -- what? -- several million Americans?"
"No! Tom, you know me better than that. I'm talking about the groups like these militias Trellum's been using. Let the octopus' tentacles become known. There are agencies in the American government that will track them and infiltrate them -- the FBI does."
"You can read Howell's mind, can't you?" Tom asked quietly. "And Trellum's?"
"Can you read this preacher's? Or the vice president's?"
"I simply tune out the millions of thoughts that are around me, Tom -- it's something we have to learn to do early in our existence," I said and Emil nodded. "But there is something unique to each mind. If I have met someone or am drawn to him or her, I can find that person's thoughts. At least, I can if they are close by."
I shrugged. "I have only seen this Patterson chap on the television. I would have to open myself to every thought in America to try to find him. Stephens apparently isn't in town."
"I searched for him earlier but couldn't feel his presence."
"You've met him then?"
"At a party the embassy held for me during the winter. That's where I met Howell as well."
He turned to look over at Emil. "Is your bloodlust so great that you want to go in and tear the throats out of all these people, like Karl does?" he asked.
"I don't!" I yelped and stared at him.
"You do. This Trellum has actually ordered murders; yet, you excuse him. You explain this away because he is logical and the deaths that he's ordered haven't been that many. Howell, on the other hand, hasn't ordered one man's murder."
"But he can impose military rule! That could mean thousands killed before the military could pacify this country."
"Only if the president is assassinated and this Stephens becomes president. And if he orders martial law. You would know about that before it happened."
"How?" I demanded in exasperation.
"You and Emil are on the look-out for that decision -- every day. You read Howell's mind. Trellum's too. And Stephens. You look for any plan that involves assassinating the president. That's when you need to strike. Not before."
"What happens if we don't catch it in time, Tom?" Emil asked.
"Reed Stephens becomes president and martial law is imposed," I answered.
Tom sighed. "If that happens, you kill Stephens."
"What good would that do?" I demanded.
"The Speaker of the House becomes president after the vice president." Tom grinned. "She's a Democrat. I don't think she's part of your conspiracy."
"Karl," Emil mumbled and cleared his throat. "I think we should wait. We should watch these men closely, but we should wait."
I was prepared to ignore Tom's feelings, even if it soured our relationship. I explained his choice as an ill-informed one. He was a-political; he simply did not understand.
"I agree with Tom, Karl," Emil said softly. "Killing a man simply because of his political beliefs ended for me that night in Idaho. We watch them like Tom said and we stymie them at their every turn. Killing someone simply because he is impulsive makes us no better than he is."
I was not a democrat like Thomas Jefferson. I had never had faith in the common man. But I had accepted a relationship based on equality with these two men. I had been outvoted.
I stood slowly and, looking from one to the other of them, said: "I hope we don't come to regret this decision." I turned to face Emil directly. "Christian goons like those that attacked that naval officer in the park almost a month ago -- they have started up in West Hollywood." I turned to Tom. "That is in California, yes?" He nodded. "We can go out there tomorrow and see about stopping them."
"Karl! Emil! You can't just go hunting these..."
"Scheiße!" Emil growled. "This rubbish beats men to death, Tom. Five of them had that man surrounded; they were beating him with truncheons. What do you do with rubbish, Tom MacPherson? You wrap it up and put it out so it will be taken away. That is what I do with mess that fouls the air wherever it appears."
"Emil, there must be another way."
"No, Tom! I know, you don't like blood. You don't want killing. That's one reason you've not joined Karl and myself. But you've never seen a man being beaten to death, either. I love you. I want you with us forever, just as Karl does. But I will not become blind for you. I will not stop thinking because you don't understand and don't want to understand."
Emil turned to me, his lower lip trembling. "I'll be out there on the first flight tomorrow evening."
"You have your credit cards?"
"You'll be careful?"
He nodded again, a smile tugging at his lips.
"You'd better damned well be careful, Emil Paulik," Tom growled and moved to stand beside us. "I don't like what you're going to do. I don't agree with it. But I want you back here safe and sound."