Chapter 50: Early retirement
At last, the Vice-President’s bulletproof car, with its escort, turned the circle at a little past one in the morning, as Lawson was awakened by Sylvia. He had apparently passed out on the couch and she had let him sleep. They waited for the majority-unelected President of the United States. The Vice-President entered the Family Living Room, with his tie already thrown somewhere, and his coat possibly removed by a secret agent or the butler. Theodore Grant proceeded to meet Colonel Lawson, shook his hand and hugged him, kissed his wife, and sat down on the couch as he motioned for the rest to join him.
“Fuck that bullshit. There is nothing we can do anymore. The house just burnt down and all we can do is pick up what we can save from the rubbles, and hope that the American people will clearly see what took place and stick their collective cock up Baker’s ass in ‘04. Damn, the country was doing so well financially. I can’t believe that with Florida stolen by that retard and his fucking brother, I didn’t manage to win and that’s what’s wrong with this country. People didn’t vote for him; they voted to change because it is in the constitution that you have the right to change your leaders. But you don’t fucking change what is not broken. The United States government and the president are not fucking shoes that you buy at Wal-Mart for five dollars because a poor bastard that makes a dollar a day made them cheap so you can buy them again in four years! The country has never been so great and these bastards have used Blowjob Gate and my atheism again to boost their campaign. Fuck, if the people knew what I know about these two, they would be chased down the streets, stoned or lynched.
“Do you know that this schmuck was elected Governor of Tennessee, but he almost never lived in the state? Of course, with millions more than your rival, you can buy all the votes you want,” snorted Theodore, almost out of breath, his head swimming in too much coffee. “He doesn’t know the first thing about running a country—hell, he fucking failed to make profit with his lemonade stand as a kid and now he will run the biggest economy in the world? Sure he will. I have no doubt that he will run it to the ground and take us all with him.”
“Don’t get me wrong, his brother is a first class thief and I would still have never voted for him, but I would be, at least, more confident that he would make money for the country, and for himself. Not necessarily in that order, mind you. But, his other brothers didn’t want to leave their businesses and become politicians. You don’t see Donald Trump running for mayor of New York. No need when you own half of it already, right?” He paused again, this time to take a beer from a hostess who had just come in and left just as fast. “Well, same shit with him and he wouldn’t be re-elected, anyway, after what he did to the country during his presidency eight years ago. That’s why he arranged to have his disposable brother to run for office. Today, the Secretary of Defense made the remark that Little Willy had big eyes, because the hand of his brother is always up his ass to control him like a puppet. Damn, that’s so true.”
Theodore finally took a deep breath and thanked the books all around the living room for being so good at sound proofing. Both his listeners knew that the speech was over and Lawson thought for the thousandth time that he should try that, instead of massages or psychotherapy. But he reminded himself that all these years of military service and self-discipline had rendered him incapable of the deed and he cursed it now.
“Feeling better, honey?”
“Loads. It’s nice to have two more ears to listen to me tonight,” said Theodore, looking and smiling at the friend who had introduced his wife to him. “Well, all that is behind me now. In a few days I’ll return to being Mr. Joe Citizen again and try to mute the television every time they show news about the Republican Party.”
“Now that my therapy is over, let’s talk about your stuff, shall we?” offered Theodore. “I have a lot of documents for your eyes only, okay?” Lawson nodded in agreement. “First, bad news: They are going to bring a new agency to handle security. It is a private firm out of Virginia. The navy is using them in Africa and they are owned, in part, by a corporation that belongs to AmeriOil, the Baker’s oil company. I was told that during a secret briefing by our friends in the CIA with a beef against the new administration, these new soldiers will be offered at cost. At this price and with their experience, the Council will welcome them with open arms even though they will be absolutely loyal to the Bakers.”
“What’s the Bakers’ core mission?” asked Sylvia this time.
“Unclear, likely even to them. I think there was no point for them to sell the bear before it was killed, but with the decision today, you bet that this will be a shift in gear. Our analyst thinks that they will speed up the effort to reverse-engineer the equipment on site, now that the tunnel will be completed soon. They will be able to bring more sophisticated equipment and more scientists. The freeing of replicated and original Builders’ equipment will also be a priority... along with the medical stuff, in order to make immediate profits,” explained Theodore, withholding something to make sure his friend had digested the news first.
“Those are basically our current objectives, so what gives?” asked Lawson.
“To them, apparently, the Facility is just a shell to be cracked, a safe to be opened and a treasure to be taken. But as you know, the Facility’s outer shell is impenetrable. For months, other than the one hundred people in Norway working inside, we had an army of people working on it here in the US. Of course, most of them don’t have any idea of what they are working on or where it is, but we have made a lot of progress, thanks to some very smart people. But now, all these reports and personnel will be under the new administration. These people have made a proposal which we rejected, but the new President and his greedy bastard friends will likely accept. So here it is,” said Theodore, pushing a stack of top secret-tagged Manila envelopes toward his friend. “In there, you have a plan for mass replication of all the items in the Facility, with additional rare elements like platinum, rhodium, gold, and palladium. After which, the main reactor should be sufficiently drained to punch through, or so they believe.”
“Without power, no force field and without force field, no restriction on what you can take out,” confirmed Lawson, clenching his fists.
“But, what about the Facility, its purpose, the Builders?” asked Sylvia. “We can’t ignore them. This place has existed for hundreds of thousands of years. It would be like the Egyptian government deciding to take down the Great Pyramids, so they could use the stones to make a highway or something. It’s criminal!”
“Yeah well, it’s not like we can call UNESCO and have a secret underground building declared as a World Heritage Site to protect it,” snapped Theodore, too tired and drained from the week’s event to apologize. “We already know that the power can be turned off partially, but not completely. The report I have read concluded that the force field at the only entrance would remain active, denying them the possibility of taking the equipment out. That’s why their long-term plan is to connect the reactor to the European power grid and let the reserve and backups deplete totally.” Theodore paused to observe the reaction on his friend’s face, but either Lawson had a good poker face or he just didn’t understand the implications. He didn’t react to it at all.
Lawson took a deep breath, as a father would before repeating the basics of something to a five-year-old, and explained. “Look, I understand that you guys have never been inside and that I have not been its leader for very long either. Please believe me when I say that this place is amazing. According to Steven Miller’s and Chrissy O’Donnell’s reports, they discovered what they call the Chamber, a place where in a minute you can experience hours and potentially years. That’s more advanced than anything I have ever imagined. If you had seen everything I saw, you would understand that the Builders have made that place for us—their future generations. There are also hundreds, hell, maybe tens of thousands of safeguards to make sure even monkeys like us couldn’t screw things up in there. Yes, we know now that people can increase their levels by taking tests on various subjects and completing games and scenarios, sort of model citizen test. But we also know that people can lose almost everything if you try something that can result in harming the Facility or its people.” Lawson requested for a glass of water and Theodore went to the door to ask instead for a jug to be brought in, with more bottles of beer.
“You can’t imagine it just by looking at reports and thinking that it’s like a safe that a thief can break in, given enough time,” continued Lawson. “In this case, we are only medieval knights on a quest to rob Fort Knox using only our swords, bow and arrows against a trained defense force with automatic weapons in one of the safest locations in America. It can’t be done.”
“I hope you are right, because unlike knights, the American people are a resourceful bunch who will not give up until it is done,” replied Theodore.
“Well, I thought the same thing at the beginning. I don’t know anymore. It would take a lifetime to understand it all.”
“True, but they don’t talk about understanding. They talk about destroying, and that’s not the same.”
Resigned to the idea and not seeing the point of arguing something out of his control, Lawson changed the subject before excusing himself to sleep. “How long do you think I have?”
“Tough to say. Not before the King and Council’s visit, for sure. That would be too soon and, surprisingly enough, they are patient men. Also, it would be in their best interest to wait for you to make a mistake and, as a leader, it is easy, since the error can be made by others,” explained Theodore, in an even and calm voice, as he was slowly starting to accept the fate of his friend and of his own.
“And the others making the mistakes could be on the payroll of those who want me to fail,” offered Lawson, and seeing that Sylvia had not understood, he explained his meaning. “When there is a riot or a demonstration that turns violent, it is always started by a few people and then seeing that others are breaking things, the rest suddenly grow balls and follow them. Because, monkey see, monkey do.”
“All too true. Anyway, we have all morning tomorrow to discuss it further. I can see your right eye shrinking like it used to after our long D&D evenings, so go to bed, Dungeon Master. We have a new quest to start in the morning,” ended Theodore, smiling and tapping his friend on the shoulder and gulping the rest of his second beer of that short and depressing evening.