Break-in

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Linda Sunkel was nineteen and living on Seattle streets with her very young baby, Hailey, nursing her in alleys, selling blow jobs, living on whatever change she could get from passers-by, and furtively hiding from police, who would surely interpret her vagrancy as a form of child abuse and take the baby away from her. She never stayed in one part of the town for long, for she was afraid the police would soon come to notice her as an unwelcome fixture.

The existence of the safe houses ran by the B’nei Elohim for battered women and runaway teenaged girls became known to Linda by flyers pasted on telephone poles. She hesitated going to one of them, being neither a battered woman nor a teen, and thought she would be unwelcome there too, but positive word-of-mouth on the street gradually steered her closer and closer. All were welcome. Narcotic dependent ladies. Ladies who had no concept of personal hygiene. Even rowdy ladies, because no matter how rowdy they thought they were, Lilith and Hunky were rowdier.

Linda drifted south past the Seattle City limits and eventually came to one of the safe houses in Franklin down in the Green River Gorge. Soon she found there was no shortage of women willing to help her with baby Hailey. Indeed, it was rare that she even had to change her baby's diapers.

But truth be known, Linda was just there for the handouts, and she expected to wear out her welcome in short order. To her surprise, the B’nei Elohim purse was nearly bottomless. If a gal was turned away, it was often only for lack of room in the house.

On the summit of End Dome Hill, amid the ruins of the Temple, Robyn presided over the ritual of belonging for Morgan Brooklyn to become fully B’nei Elohim. On this occasion Linda Sunkel was invited to attend as an observer, and she had been happy to oblige. It seemed such a very small thing to do in return for everything the B’nei Elohim had already done for her.

Robyn said to Morgan, “The Grays accept narrow horizons and the ebb and flow of cause and chance. In large numbers they become like a torrent of water filling the easy channels. Abdicating their responsibility to choose, they become a flood sweeping away everything in their path. Be a Green, Erin. A Green is a unique source of newness! A Green creates her moments afresh at each instant. A Green's every decision is not just another link in the chain of cause and effect, but rather an anchor for a new chain of consequences. Greens thrive on the knife-edge between cause and chance, where meaningful complexity finds fertile ground. Will you join us, Morgan, to become an immortal surprise generator of the universe?”

“I will,” she said.

And just as she had seen Julie Pritchard become Trish, now Morgan Brooklyn became Audrey, the sixth member of the B’nei Elohim.

When they walked back down from the top of End Dome, Linda had many questions about what she had seen, and the other B’nei Elohim allowed Audrey to answer all of them to cement Audrey’s own sense of belonging to something new. “We call it the Change, Linda,” she said. “It is something that comes to us from outside of this world. All the cells in my brain are not really alive anymore, they are very complicated micro-machines.”

“And that cup at the back of your head? What is that for?”

“That is a way to attach machines directly to my mind.”

“What kind of machines?”

“Machines that don't even exist yet.”

“May I touch it?”

Audrey allowed Linda to tug on the connector, and see that it was indeed deeply embedded in her head, and not just a prop applied with glue. Linda asked, “So what good is it for?”

“We have a cable that allows women who have been Changed to talk to each other, directly, mind-to-mind. There can be no lying in such an exchange, and I cannot even begin to tell you what it's like in words. You have to experience it yourself, if that is what you choose to do one day.”

“So is that all you can do right now, is link yourselves together?”

“Did you know that Jill was once two persons, Linda? That she was once a woman named Rebecca and also a man named Jerry?”

“How did that happen?”

“Jerry was killed by our enemies, but Rebecca saved him. Everything that he was, all his memories, she pulled into herself with that cable. Then she became a new person who calls herself Jill, but she is still Jerry and Rebecca inside. Jerry didn’t really die! None of us can ever really die.”

Lord Asmodeus was a quick study. After witnessing what the Beaters could do to his forces when they bunched together, he ordered them to stay far apart. But this nullified any possible coordination of his fleet. The battle became a free-for-all. Asmodeus sacrificed coherence in his force for the only prospect of victory he had left.

But in retrospect it was a good decision. Asmodeus may have fancied himself a tactical genius, but he was really a hopeless amateur, and releasing his tight grip on his forces allowed far more competent men to salvage something of the battle.

As Ezqeel pressed his vessels into orbit around Hybla, he fired on the destroyers on his flanks and sustained no damage from the torpedoes they fired. At this point the battle began to shift back in favor of the forces loyal to Asmodeus.

Ezqeel's cruisers opened up on Atarculph’s forces with railguns, delivering devastatingly accurate fire.

Desperately, Intrepid attempted to extract herself from the danger facing her. Realizing that no assistance would be forthcoming from the Beater ship closest to her, Luminary, and her own survival was unlikely in the face of such overwhelming fire, she dropped to a lower orbit over Hybla. As she did so, two torpedoes impacted on her submacro engines. Having taken the coup de grâce, Intrepid exploded.

Each Loyalist ship had fired between 60 and one hundred rounds. Valorous was disabled by the explosions of these shells and torpedoes and began to burn uncontrollably. Ezqeel, aboard his flagship cruiser Pursuer, realized his targets were too smothered with smoke and debris to target them accurately anymore and ordered a general cease-fire.

As the twisting, burning hulk of Valorous passed Indomitable, the men aboard Indomitable realized they had badly misjudged the other vessel's course. Franticly, they attempted to avoid a collision, but Indomitable's bow buried itself in Valourous' stern. Indomitable had her hull breached by the impact and her bow deformed. Slowly, the two carriers parted again and Indomitable fell back.

At some point in the middle of all this confusion, amid the new and unexpected tactical reverses suffered by the Beater fleet, Edgar the Elder overcame the objections of his companions and assumed direct command of the starship Redemption. The vessel got underway from the gravitational null point between Hybla and Dia called Central where she had been constructed several weeks before she was fully ready to deploy.

Atarculph was just as surprised and dismayed as Asmodeus to see the anti-matter engine of Redemption kick in and the vessel begin to accelerate relentlessly at one full gee out of the system.

Asmodeus threw everything he had left at the fleeing Redemption in a suicidal bid to stop it. And Atarculph thew everything he had left in a suicidal bid to stop him.

They bugged the wrong phone during the May 1972 Watergate break-in. It was just a secretary's phone mostly used by staffers to order in Chinese food, not the one used by the Democratic Party chairman that was clear on the other side of the office in a locked room.

The corresponding Operation GEMSTONE transcripts were useless and the Attorney General, loath to piss away $89,000 in diverted and laundered campaign funds, ordered a second break-in to square things away because the President himself insisted they keep collecting whatever information they could on his political enemies, around the clock.

On June 14 the GEMSTONE leader code-named "Daddy" got his Washington team back together and the "Spook" told the same group of burglars he used the first time to fly back up from Miami. It took two days to get everyone into place with the right equipment, mostly off-the-shelf stuff that couldn't be traced, but there was no written plan and no rehearsal.

This astonished the "Photographer", a semi-retired CIA operative who had captained a boat for over three hundred missions to communist Cuba (some of which were extraordinary renditions of men who might have been his friends had he dared to lift their hoods). But his friend the "Realtor", a fellow Bay of Pigs veteran, practically worshiped the ground the Spook walked on.

The "Quiet Man" walked nonchalantly through the front door of the Watergate office complex, signed in, took the elevator to the top floor, entered the stairwell, then used duct tape to cheat the locks on every door all the way down to the parking garage levels.

But the Quiet Man was a complete moron. He taped the doors horizontally, rather than vertically, so anyone and his dog could see it.

A private security guard named Frank Wills did see the tape, because his first task was always to check the basement doors for tampering when he came on to his shift at midnight. He pulled the tape off and called his supervisor, who told him to check the other doors and call back in fifteen minutes.

But what Frank did instead was go get some fast food across the street with a young intern who was pulling a late-nighter, a young lady that he was trying to make tracks with.

When the actual burglary commenced, it lasted for about seven minutes before they came back to their base of operations in Room 419 of the Watergate Hotel and told Daddy the duct tape on the B-2 garage level door was missing. Meanwhile the "Locksmith" and "The Goon" went around looking for another lock to pick.

The Realtor and the Spook told Daddy they wanted to abort the mission, because obviously a guard must have removed the tape. The Photographer said he was ready to do whatever Daddy decided to do. Daddy decided to cancel the evolution and try again two weeks later.

So the Quiet Man made his rounds again, this time removing the tape from all the doors. By the time Frank Wills finished his hamburger and actually did what his supervisor told him to do (check the other doors), there was no tape. He figured it had just been some lazy workman who taped the B-2 level door open that one time to save a few seconds of hassle fumbling for keys while carrying something big. Wills forgot about the entire episode.

But the third time was the charm for the burglars. On July 1 the GEMSTONE team returned one more time to the sixth floor offices of the DNC at the Watergate complex, bugged the correct phone, photographed ten rolls of film of the Realtor holding documents in his blue-gloved hands, and even made off with some blank stationary with Party letterhead.

What they didn't find was evidence that Cuban President Fidel Castro was giving money to the Democratic Party, which is what they hoped to find. But that was okay, because President Nixon’s master of dirty tricks, Donald Segretti, simply used the letterhead they stole and the photographs of various signatures to manufacture such evidence.

Tactically, there was little profit in any of this illegal activity, all it really did was turn what would have been a historic 49-state victory in November 1972 into an even more historic 50-state victory. But having avoided a messy second term scandal, Nixon was free to bring about what he called the New American Revolution, making the executive branch nearly omnipotent with a cabinet whose heads were supremely loyal to him. Congress he largely ignored. But this notion of an imperial presidency was going to bite America in the ass in October 1973 when the Yom Kippur War spiraled out of anyone’s control, even that of an Imperial President.

Rewind to early Saturday morning, June 17, 1972. At 12:30 in the morning, Robyn and Lilith walked across the street from the Howard Johnsons and entered the parking garage of the Watergate hotel/office complex. Robyn led them one level down, and walked toward the door leading into the building. It was locked.

“This is going to sound very strange, Lil, but if there's an empty mailbag sitting right here for the next hour, Washington DC will not get nuked..”

“A mailbag?”

“Yeah, you know, like the kind a mailman carries.”

“What's going on here anyway?”

“President Nixon sent some burglars here tonight. Well, not the President exactly, but men working for him did. If the burglars get caught, there's not going to be a nuclear war. He'll be too preoccupied by the scandal.”

“Why would such a small thing become a scandal?”

“Because Nixon will abuse his power and try to cover it up, and that will be the scandal.”

“So why don't we just call the police?”

“If we do, they'll get away. They've got a lookout posted in our hotel. In the room right next to ours, in fact.”

“So how does a mailbag lead to them getting caught?”

“It’s very complicated. If I try to explain, we’ll run out of time.”

“Fine, I'll go find a mailbag.”

“Empty one, Lil.”

Robyn saw Lilith shift a little bit, change her position slightly, but she was carrying an empty mailbag. Lilith had used the worm-tunnel to pop into a nearby post office, lifted a bag, dumped out the mail, and returned to the same spot and instant that she left.

Then they both went back across the street to their room and watched from the balcony.

At one AM the balding Quiet Man pushed open the door from the inside, noted that the duct tape he had placed there before was missing. But he did not immediately assume a guard had removed it, because he saw the empty US Postal Service mail bag sitting there. He assumed a mailman had come and tried to use his key to unlock the door, but found the door was already accessible thanks to the strip of tape. The Quiet Man also assumed the mailman had removed the tape, but that he would be too busy delivering mail to think of reporting it to anyone. So he replaced the missing tape with another strip to cheat the lock, and of course being stupid he posted it horizontally, leaving it perfectly visible.

At about one thirty, the Watergate security guard Frank Willis pushed the door open a second time and saw another strip of tape along the edge there after he had removed the first. He said, “What the hell?” but left the second piece tape in place. He left to call the police.

At 1:52 AM, Robyn and Lilith watched a piece of junk car pull up across the street. Two informally dressed longhaired men got out of the vehicle and entered the hotel. Neither Robyn nor Lilith realized they were plainclothes cops using an unmarked car, and neither did Alfred Baldwin, watching from the balcony right next door to them. Lilith scowled at the man, then went back inside the room.

Baldwin was more than a little nervous and felt like he had to say something to explain to Robyn why he was out on his balcony watching the Watergate. “Beautiful night.”

“You have no idea.”

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