Monday, November 7, 2011
National Novel Writing Month 7: The Revenge
In this episode: Intrigue, excitement, drinking, and breakfast
The spark of nuclear fire had started with the self-destruct of the warehouse, and consumed a dozen cities with mushroom clouds and fallout. The body counts were still unknown, and martial law had been declared in almost every country involved as the leaders met for peace talks.
Or, rather, that was the official word on the matter. To those in the know, the peace talks were just a formality. No one wanted a nuclear war, after all, except perhaps a few insane generals that had nearly had the full arsenal of the world's superpowers airborne and live. No, what was really being discussed was exactly what had happened, and how to prevent it again. The aides and spies had been asked to leave the room so the four representatives meeting there could speak off the record.
“After Berlin and Geneva, we come to this, eh?” Tony Garden shook his head. He was the representative for Britain. A few weeks ago he had just been a paper-pusher stuck in middle management. But with London gone, well, there was room closer to the top.
“Hard to believe MacArthur wanted this,” Joeseph Sears said. “I met him once and he told me all about how a good show of force with nuclear weapons would really put the Soviets in their place. I wonder if he's smiling happily or turning in his grave.”
“You Americans always thought that,” Vlad Mylenovich said. “Our nuclear program is... was just as advanced as yours. Better in some ways. All secret, of course.”
“I don't think it matters now,” George muttered. “After this mistake, the public will be against nuclear programs.” The french representative took a long drink. Unlike the others, with glasses of water, he had a glass of wine. “I weep for the future of France. So many men lost in war, and now the refugees coming across the Channel. There may not be many true Frenchmen left in a few decades.”
“Sounds like you made out pretty well, then,” Tony said, rolling his eyes.
“How can you say such a thing when-” George grew red in the face. Tony waved a hand.
“I don't mean any offense. But we have more important things to worry about.” Tony looked at Joeseph. “Joe, be honest with us. We're all on the same side. How hard were you hit?” Joe gave Vlad a long look, then looked back at Tony.
“Pretty bad. We lost Washington and New York before we even knew what was going on. Los Angeles and Boston got hit before we could scramble interceptors. The President, Vice President, and most of Congress and the House died. We're going to keep the country under martial law until we can hold an election. The interim government we set up will keep things together until then.”
“At least you got rid of McCarthy,” Vlad said. He took out a flask and sipped from it. “The man was insane. I cannot imagine how a person like that can be elected in your country.”
“You know how it goes, Vlad,” Joe said with a sigh. “Put on a good song and dance and the public loves to watch. That's all it was, really. Just a way to keep people busy and give them something to talk about.”
“Yes. You Americans were very good at that, keeping people happy with politics. We used fear and force to do the same. Only different until the end, eh?” He took another sip and then put the flask away. “We did not suffer quite so badly as you, but with Moscow gone the party is tearing itself apart to find a new leader. A few generals decided to start a small civil war.” He shook his head. “The masters were not pleased.”
“I'd think not,” George snorted. “None of this was according to plan. I haven't heard much from them, since the exchange. I think they're a bit disappointed with us.”
“You haven't heard anything either?” Tom said, sitting up and looking at the French representative. “I thought it was just us. We lost everyone that dealt with them.”
“No,” Vlad said. “Not just you. They were distant after the bombs dropped.” He paused. “They sounded busy. I would call it afraid, if it was anyone else.”
“The masters don't get afraid,” Joe agreed. “Not even when the Nazis damn near put an end to them. Guess they didn't expect Hitler to double-cross them.” He laughed. “I don't think they're going to let anyone near their technology like that ever again.”
“I heard a rumor,” Vlad muttered. “That in the warehouse where this all started, they were trying to reverse-engineer some of the work Hitler's men did towards the end. Do you think the masters might have...” He searched for the word. “Planned it like this? To... get rid of what the fascists had made?”
“I doubt it,” Joe said. “They could have told us to throw it all into the ocean and we would have done it. Hell, we would have tossed it into the sun if they gave us a few years to figure out how.” He looked at Vlad. “Pass me that flask. I think I need a touch myself.” Vlad passed the flask down to Joe. The American sipped, winced, and passed it back. “Strong stuff.”
“Good vodka must be strong,” Vlad said. He took another sip himself before putting it away. “We cannot move forward without the masters guiding us, though. So what do we do? Sit here and drink until they tell us to jump?”
“We can't wait that long,” George said. “There is too much at stake. We'll just have to make do without them for now. Politics may just be a show, but, well, the show must go on.”
Tilda groaned and sat up. Her ribs hurt. Her ears were ringing. She felt like she was coming down with something. Then she heard the sounds of cooking. Tilda's heart jumped, and she was suddenly awake. She stumbled out of bed, still wearing the clothing she had gone to work in the day before, and ran over to the kitchen.
“Good morning,” Arma said. She was... well that was a more casual look than the wedding dress she had been wearing. Arma was in a white skirt and tank top. It was the first time Tilda had gotten a decent look at more than her mouth. She wasn't bad looking, but there was an odd exotic look to her that Tilda just couldn't place.
More importantly, the strange woman had apparently gotten changed, stayed all night, and was now cooking breakfast.
“What are you doing here?” Tilda asked, exasperated.
“I told you I'd explain things to you.” Arma smiled, her green eyes twinkling. She offered Tilda a plate of eggs and bacon. “When we got back you just collapsed into bed. It was cute.” Arma laughed a little. Tilda took the plate, looking at it.
“...Thanks, I guess,” she said, sitting down at the table heavily. There were already two glasses of grapefruit juice waiting there. She didn't really feel like eating. Arma put her own plate down across from Tilda and sat. This was awkward. She hadn't even ever had someone over to her place, and now the first person to come over was... Tilda wasn't even sure if Arma counted as a person. She was definitely strange, though.
“I can tell you have a lot of questions,” Arma said. The strange woman cut into her fried eggs, yolk dripping as she slurped it down. “About Krieg. About the Verbesserte. Maybe even about me.” She smiled seductively.
“Yeah,” Tilda muttered. “I'm just full of questions.” She poked at her food. “Look, what the hell happened last night?”
“You fought and killed a Verbesserte.” Arma answered. Tilda gave her a flat look.
“Yeah, thanks. How about an actual answer?” Arma scarfed down another bite. Tilda sipped the grapefruit juice to clear her throat. “I don't know what the hell that's supposed to mean. You told me it meant he was someone given 'power' by someone called the 'secret masters', but that doesn't tell me shit, and you know it.”
“If you knew anything about world history it would be more than enough explanation. It's hardly my fault that you don't understand anything about what was really going on before the Fimbulvetr.”
“I think you know it better as the Collapse. When the secret masters were assassinated following a nuclear exchange. It's taken almost six decades to even begin to recover from the attack.”
“Yeah, I know about the Collapse. Everyone does. There was a little war and then the economy crashed and a couple political revolutions went on around the world. It was a long time ago.”
“I suppose that's all you'd know,” Arma agreed, nodding. She finished off her eggs. “There was more to it than that. There was a small nuclear exchange, that's true, but that wouldn't have stopped the secret masters. After all, getting rid of a few capitols was just a minor setback. Politics were just supposed to keep humans busy, and it would have been easy enough to replace the players.”
“What are you talking about?” Tilda grabbed a piece of bacon and bit it in half.
“There have always been others pulling the strings, Tilda,” Arma shook her head. “Humans may have enjoyed pretending to be in charge, but they never were.”
“Let me guess.” Tilda rolled her eyes. “It's the devil. He was secretly in charge of things the whole time.” Arma laughed.
“Don't be silly. The devil isn't real!” Arma laughed more. “No, no. It was aliens. We've been here since your earliest civilizations. You've made excellent servants and, more importantly, we've been helping you advance yourselves.”
Tilda just stared at Arma. The strange woman had gone straight from an odd but possibly credible source of information all the way to crazytown. Or she was mocking her. But the way Arma said it made it sound like she really believed it.
“If you don't have real answers, you can just leave,” Tilda said.
“Just because you don't know the truth doesn't make it less true. We've been the ones writing your history. You weren't even around a hundred years ago. Can you prove, with evidence, that anything you've been told about from back then actually happened?”
“Well, that's...” Tilda sighed. “That's just being paranoid.”
“It's a fact. Anyway, that all changed a few decades ago. After the Fimbulvetr, we've been locked out and you humans have been in charge of yourselves.” Arma shook her head. “And you made a mess of things. You're decades behind our plans. Your corporations and governments collapsed without our intervention and guidance. You barely even have electricity!”
“We?” Tilda raised an eyebrow. She had only noticed it this time, but... Arma had said we before, about the aliens.
“You're one of a privileged few,” Arma said, sitting back. “Usually only the very top members of society are allowed to meet the Anunnaki.”
“The...” Tilda stopped herself from asking the question and shook her head. “So you're an alien. Fine. Whatever.”
“You don't believe me,” Arma said, with an understanding nod. “I think you just need a little proof.”