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For a week DECON had been making raids on Round Robyn’s macro power plants across the midwest with precisely the same result every time. The plants were sabotaged by its operators in such a way that it could never be started again. Still, DECON continued to come, time after time, performing the same assault and hoping for a different result each time, until six of them were offline. That was the very epitome of insanity under the definition once held forth by Albert Einstein.

Dory was fairly certain that the Kansas City plant was next on the list. She invited Diane Sawyer and a handful of employees who remained loyal to her to travel to Missouri to tour the plant, with a high probability of covering the impending raid, which Ford continued to assure everyone were merely routine safety checks.

President-elect Henry “Scoop” Jackson had joined Dory and Diane Sawyer to tour the macro power plant, and a federal district judge named Ryan Wustner had also joined Dory’s party by invitation to see for himself what Dory promised would be some pretty anti-American shit.

The power plant was located in an industrial park south and west of downtown Kansas City on the Blue River, near the site of a Civil War tussle in 1864 called the Battle of the Big Blue, after the Union tendency to name battles after the water that was nigh at hand. A second battle was destined to ensue on the same site. Sure enough, before Dory could even give Sawyer, Wustner, and Jackson the standard tour of the plant, DECON came calling with guns drawn.

Since the Great Leap Backward for women that began with the New Righteousness the potential combat abilities of half of the human race had been held of no account. So the sight of teenaged girls and young women burning anything that moved was an awful shock. Any hesitancy on the part of the agents storming that entrance therefore was forgivable. Or at the very least understandable.

But weapons from Barbelo, even in the softer hands of women from Earth, were not forgiving in the slightest, nor understanding, but rather very lethal. At a certain point panic set in among the attackers and the DECON guys started to shoot at motion, or even sound, not bothering to identify their targets first. In the hailstorm of bullets they did manage to shoot down Noelie and Paige, as well as three of their own people.

The sight of Noelie and Paige falling in battle merely drove the surviving B’nei Elohim girls to new levels of ferocity. For some of them this was their first Church campaign, their baptism by fire. Since it was almost possible for a member of the Church of End Dome to truly die, they truly did not fear death. No one could have withstood such a suicidal assault, and DECON’s numbers were steadily whittled down to a manageable number. But to deceive the remaining agents, Dory and her fighters slowly edged back into the power plant as Diane Sawyer and her crew edged back behind them and filmed the entire firefight, the Second Battle of Big Blue, in the Second American Civil War.

Two other girls died, but their souls were saved to the Swarm as a data stream. Only Cheryl and Karen were left to fight with Dory as they made their way to the corridor outside the cafeteria. One DECON agent remained alive, but he managed to grab Karen and manhandle her around with a pistol pointed at her head.

“Drop your weapons now!” he warned, looking both smug and guilty, simultaneously scared and full of bluster. “I guarantee I can finish her before you make a move.”

“Fuck you,” Cheryl sneered, whipping up her rifle to bear.

The agent’s self-preservation instinct took over. In a split-second he realized they were willing to write Karen off if they pressed. He shifted his aim to Cheryl and caught her mid-stride with two bursts, blowing the tiny nineteen year-old back into Dory’s arms.

With an underhand swing Dory hurled Cheryl’s body right back at him and pinned his gun against him long enough for her and Karen to descend on him like vultures.

“Don’t kill him,” Dory ordered. “We’re not butchers.”

With the muzzle of Dory’s piece nudging him the agent went slack and released his pistol. Dory kicked it away while Karen began securing his hands behind his back with tie wraps.

“If he moves blow his dick off,” Dory advised her.

“What if he doesn’t move? Can I still blow his dick off?”

When pressed the man identified himself as DECON Agent Phillip Shields.

“I’m Dory, Agent Shields. This is Scoop Jackson, who was chosen by the voters of this country to be its President. And this is Diane Sawyer. Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.”

“There’s a bulletin out on you,” Shields said. “Jackson and Sawyer both need to come in for questioning.”

“We can talk right here,” Diane replied, but the agent himself had nothing to say.

Dory said, “Well, let’s see, you’re up to power plant number seven now, aren’t you? The first one in West Virginia you came in with guns blazing and that power plant doesn’t work anymore. And I think you will find it will never work again. At the second one in Kentucky you came in nicely enough but you didn’t let the employees go and so that power plant don’t work anymore either. Now you’re back to the gun thing.”

“We’re prepared to let the people go this time.”

“Great! Agent Shields, there are ninety-one Church employees who work in this plant, and I ask that they be allowed to go without being hindered or followed.”

“Will the plant continue to operate if they go?”

“Yes, of course. You’ll find that everything is quite automatic, as long as you don’t shoot things up that do need to be in good working order.”

“In that case we have a bargain. I’ve already been given the authority to negotiate. So with your permission?”

Dory nodded to Karen, who cut Agent Shield’s hands loose. The man got on his radio and issued a few orders before assuring Dory, “I give you my word, my men will stand fast while your people go.”

Dory nodded. “Fair enough. Oh, Agent Phillips, don’t even think about doing anything to them after they’re out of eyeshot or this tour will be over pronto. Believe me, I will know if anything goes wrong, the instant it goes wrong.

He was a little annoyed at Dory now. “I gave my word.”

“Well, this is a war and a lot of bitterness has spread everywhere since 1943. I’m sorry to have to say this but I don’t fully take your word to be your bond. If any of my people are accosted or harassed after they leave I can shut this whole place down hard and I won’t even need to be near a control panel to do it.”

Presently a train of people straggled out, crossing the lobby. They went out to the parking lot to get in their cars. Some of the employees were full members of the Church, some were catechumens, and some were merely local employees hired to help run the plant.

It took about ten minutes before everyone was accounted for. None of the DECON agents detained them, so Dory smiled and said to Shields and Sawyer and the others, “Very well, folks, then let started.”

Shields was surprised. “Started doing what?”

“Started turning the plant over to you. I’m going to give you the standard tour of the plant, so you know where everything is.”

“Why would you cooperate with us?” he asked as she led them through a set of double-doors to a long white passageway.

“It’s good business, Agent Phillips. Okay, so you’ve nationalized our power plant, but we won’t take that personally. You win, we acknowledge that. So let’s have an orderly transition. Can you get on board with that?”

“Like I said, I was told to make a deal with you.”

“That’s good. Now, those people of ours you saw leaving the plant will have to be replaced. People are actually very important to the continued operation of this plant. There’s a lot of preventive and corrective maintenance that needs to be done every day. For instance, you will see that the lights are out on a few generators here and there. Those are ones that are currently off-line to be lubed or adjusted. And the lubers and adjusters like anyone else anywhere you go in this country will expect to be paid. I don’t know whether you intend to bring your own people in here or not, but if you hire back our people, the government is going to have to take over the payroll.”

“I’m not an accountant, I don’t know how that’s supposed to work. What I really want to know is, how long can everything run without being attended?”

“I’d say you would have a good twenty-four hours before you started to have problems.”

“In that case, Dory, I’d like to ask you to stay and tell our people coming in what they have to do to keep everything going.”

“Uh, no, sorry Agent Shields, that’s not part of the deal. I’m sticking around just to give you a quick familiarization tour. That should take about an hour. After that, I expect to be allowed to leave just like the rest of my people were allowed to leave.”

“But I can see there’s going to be a steep learning curve involved here. What if our people can’t figure everything out in only twenty-four hours?”

“Well, Agent Phillips, that’s a risk I suppose you should have been prepared to take when your people decided to take over our plant. If you don’t have some really sharp fellows who can come in here and figure everything out in less than twenty-four hours, my advice would be to leave our other forty-three macro power plants in the United State the hell alone.”

“So you won’t comply with my request and that’s that?”

“That’s that.”

“Then Dory, you leave me no choice but to instruct my people to take you, the President-elect, Diane Sawyer and her people into custody. That means the deal’s off as of right now.”

And at that precise instant the lights flickered. There were ninety simultaneous thumps as breaker switches snapped off and the high pitched whir of the generators began slowly, slowly running down. Now none of them were illuminated, indicating they were off-line. The lights overhead got dimmer and dimmer. A cacophony of thumping began under the floor of the powerhouse. Large steam pipes burst free of the deck plating, howling and screaming as they filled the entire space with water vapor. Soon it grew difficult to see, and the entire vast space grew uncomfortably warm.

“Damn, you DECON people are slow learners,” Dory said, shaking her head in disbelief.

“What happened? What did you do?”

“Agent Phillips, my recommendation is that you flee. You should get your men at least as far away from here as my people hope to be by now.”


“Well the words that come to my mind are ‘Hiroshima’ or ‘Nagasaki.”

It was a bluff. There was no danger of an explosion. But her bluff worked well enough for Shields and his people to leave, not even waiting for orders from on high.

Dory turned to Jackson and said, “We’ll never get you close to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, sir, but you already knew that. Fortunately, the oath of office for President of the United States doesn’t require the Chief Justice to administer it.

Jackson glanced at the federal judge and at Diane Sawyer’s team standing their rolling cameras. “Then I shall take the oath at once.”

Judge Ryan Wustner held up a document on a clipboard. No Bible was used. The oath of office was carried out over the written affirmation itself. Henry “Scoop” Jackson put his left hand on the clipboard, his right hand in the air, and repeated after Judge Wustner, “I Henry Jackson do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.”

“Mr. President,” said the judge, “please attach your signature.”

And so the President signed the paperwork on the clipboard and it was done. Jackson was now on a collision course with his own Vice-President pick Jeane Kirkpatrick, who was being groomed by the Congress to be President of the United States herself.

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