Break-out

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A census taken in 1950 revealed that the US population had exceeded 100 million people. In general it was a prosperous time in America. The rest of the world was still trying to rebuild after the incredible destruction wrought by the Second World War.

America was the preeminent military and economic power on the globe, but the Soviet Union and China were rising to challenge her. The Korean War began when North Korea invaded the south. The US joined with forces from the United Nations to drive them back, and there were early successes, but when they came close to overrunning the country China came to North Korea's aid with a large infusion of troops and drove the UN forces back to a stalemate.

As in the 1920s, there was a renewed Red Scare in America, and the Senate investigated alleged influence of the Communists Party on all aspects of the government and military. Lilith was glad the Senate was chasing Reds and was leaving her people alone for once.

In the early years of the Fifities Jill and the three newest members of the B’nei Elohim singlehandedly invented the genre of popular music that would be called Rock 'n' Roll a few years later and would dominate the music of the second half of the Twentieth Century.

They were young white American women playing sensuous but ghettoized rhythm and blues "race music" mixed with the fun of hillbilly music, the conscience of folk, the swing of boogie woogie, and the energy of gospel music, and only the fact that their influence remained confined to a few cities the northwestern United States led music historians to attribute the creation of Rock 'n' Roll to Chuck Berry, or Elvis, or Little Richard, or even Bill Haley and the Comets.

The Jills’ songs were written mostly by the drummer Gina (formerly Linda Sunkel) using an AABA song structure, with Trish on saxophone for the solo B part and Audrey on acoustic bass. The band used no electric guitar in those early days. What audiences were getting was a lot of energy but not much in the way of sound fidelity. The tapes were recorded on a two track system but the second track was for overdubs, not a separate channel. So the resultant vinyl disk was monophonic, and a little noisy by later standards.

Every album by The Jills would have the same pattern: Exactly eight songs, with the second one a ballad, the seventh one an instrumental, and the last one a segue to the next album. Only the styles would change, sometimes wildly, and the band would consistently foreshadow the changing tastes in pop music by several years. They would rarely get credit for that, but the girls didn't care. They were doing it just for fun and a little mad money.

After their album was compete they had far less difficulty distributing the LP and the singles, and getting radio play, than bands with less name recognition. The Jills were modestly famous, but only locally, and their impact was regional, not yet national, and certainly not international. They hit the road and traveled to cities as far west as Honolulu, as far north as Vancouver, as far east as Denver, and as far south as San Francisco. But it wasn't all work. Along the way they also visited the Redwoods, the Hawaiian volcanoes, Glacier Park and Yellowstone Park.

The Jills were pretty tame and "square" for a band. They didn't drink alcohol or smoke funny cigarettes, but regular cigarettes were ubiquitous, and the effect of second-hand smoke on children like Hailey wasn't really apprehended at that time.

Hailey witnessed many of the children crying on her first day of school because they had never been apart from their parents, while she herself was very often away from her mother Gina, to be cared for by other B’nei Elohim. And though she could not remember it, Hailey had even been cared for by the priestesses of Yeshua Bat-El on Barbelo.

In the middle of the decade of the Fifities the Jills began to use more aggressive drumming from Gina, with more creative fills, but the big change was in the bottom end. Audrey set aside her acoustic bass (which was always difficult to mic for concerts anyway) and picked up a Fender Precision electric bass, or P-Bass. Audrey's performance was pushed way forward in the mix and run through a spring reverb box, which allowed Audrey to essentially duet with her own slapped-back notes. But the new bass took some getting used to. Instead of standing up on an end-pin, it lay horizontally across her chest, supported with a shoulder strap. But it was easier to tune than her double bass and also allowed her to get out of her seat and dance around the stage, leading to more visually dynamic concerts.

Trish set aside her saxophone and picked up a solid-body electric guitar, which Audrey taught her to play after she was satisfied with her own electric bass technique. They still used the AABA arrangement of Rock 'n' Roll songs, but now Trish soloed the 'B' part on electric guitar rather than saxophone. She slit the speaker cones in her amplifier with a knife to create a ragged distortion that sounded (counter-intuitively) very good.

Trish’s twangy guitar riff would become de rigueur in the British spy movies of the following decade. But there was also a Bavarian flavor to the songs, with Jill the cute little mädchen singing about gingerbread, pilsners, nutcrackers and other whiter-than-white bread things. The rhythm and blues were left far behind.

One Friday night Hunky and Dory drove to the top of End Dome Hill to gaze at the lights of Puget Sound City and make love in the back seat of their huge Detroit-made car, aided, of course, by the trusty Purple Cable. Pretty soon the whole car began to smell like a girl's gym locker room, and they couldn't see anything outside for the condensed sweat on the windows. Hunky and Dory ran through every trick in the lesbian sex book, and then some.

Round about ten o'clock the moon came out, and a Mexican AM radio station they knew about started broadcasting at 250,000 watts, with a beer can top opening, a massive echoing chug, and an unearthly belch, carried by RF skip all across North America. The cross-country truckers and every kid at a drive-in hamburger joint or making out at Inspiration point like Hunky and Dory knew that distinctive belch. That was Anchor Baby, a man who spoke at a machine-gun pace in a strange kind of street jive designed specifically to infuriate the grown-ups, and he played whatever the hell he wanted to. The first song he wanted to play that night was from the Jills.

The battle over the starship Redemption, of a necessity, became strung out on a line. Redemption herself led the way with a significant head start, accelerating toward the place where Barnard’s Star would be in the eight years of real time (and two years of shipboard time) it would take to reach it under one full gravity, with a brief period of free fall halfway as the ship turned around.

Asmodeus had gambled a third of his entire Navy on a bid to stop the starship but he had badly bungled the assault in the face of fierce Belter resistance. Only a remnant, equivalent to a single carrier battlegroup, remained for the final push. These assets Asmodeus ordered after Redemption in a suicidal push, though in the heat and confusion of the moment the commanding officers did not realize they were on a one-way trip as they hurried to carry out the commands of the Gerash patriarch.

The seraph Atarculph, in overall command of the Beater retaliation, had been caught flat-footed by the sudden change of plan, with Redemption getting underway without his orders or his presence aboard her, but after his initial fit of rage he began to see the wisdom of Edgar’s move and committed all the forces under his own command to stopping the Navy of Mastema.

Redemption tore away from the system of the yellow sun at a remorseless full gravity of acceleration that never ceased. The ships commanded by Asmodeus could make better than that, but only for a very limited amount of time.

While disaster loomed for the patriarch's last remaining carrier the Inquisitor, commanded by Ophan Bashkir, the same held true for Ophan Gadreel of the Beaters commanding a destroyer squadron. In the perfect knowledge of standing no chance against Hochmiel, he nevertheless committed himself to the battle with five ships from two sides. Their spread was incredibly successful. Torpedoes mortally wounded the Imperial carrier, disabling her engines and ending her run. At the same time, several torpedoes from the carrier’s escorts plowed into the lead destroyer Luminary, blowing her to pieces after a matter of minutes and killing Gadreel.

No longer gaining on the starship, the ailing carrier launched four frigates, the smallest ships of the line in the fleet but the largest that could be embarked aboard Inquisitor. They began to accelerate anew after Redemption, and once again began to draw near to her.

Coming up behind the were the fighters of Bashkir's Beater destroyer force. Random course changes by the Imperial frigates enabled the little ships to escape damage for an unduly long amount of time, but inexorably their fate closed in. Three of the vessels were ripped into pieces by railgun shells and and left burning.

A fourth frigate, the Accuser, disabled and no longer gaining on Redemption much like the carrier that launched her, released the single fighter she carried to continue the stern chase and then focused on damage control. But it was all for nought. Although Accuser was no longer actively involved in the stern chase, she like all the other vessels Asmodeus dispatched after the starship continued out of the system on the last course and speed they held before being disabled, and no rescue would be forthcoming.

The operations officer of the Redemption noted the lone approaching fighter and informed Edgar the Elder. “What is the position angle relative to our stern?”

Since there were only two ships involved in this particular incident, they could be considered to exist on a plane, as though they were vessels at sea. The operations officer Hashmal Verchiel said to Edgar, “Captain, the track is approaching at a relative bearing of 187.”

“Make a temporary course change, Verchiel. Starboard seven degrees until we lose the track, then resume course.”

“Yes sir!”

And it was at that time that the Loyalist fighter pilot learned that the stack of hot protons and gamma rays that Redemption was using to tear out of the star system made one hell of a defensive weapon. He did not survive to relay this lesson to Asmodeus in a post-sortie outbrief

It was getting late, but Robyn and Lilith watched the growing police presence at the Watergate complex from their balcony in the Howard Johnson's across the avenue. Their funny neighbor Mr. Baldwin had to check out quite suddenly.

Lilith asked Robyn, “So did we do well?”

Robyn looked dreamy for a few seconds. “Oh yes. This bust right here isn't enough to do in the President, at least until after the election, but he's going to try to cover it up, and then he's going to totally botch the cover-up, and that will nail him in the end. He will have no choice but to quit his job or be impeached.”

“What about the war in the Middle-East next year?”

“We still get that, and Israel wins, barely, but it doesn't go nuclear. No one goes nuclear, in fact, until well into the next century.”

“But not far enough out for my purposes, I suppose.”

Robyn said, “We get more breathing room, but the space program just sort of peters out. The moon landings are never followed up. Then when they do start lobbing nukes around it's too late.”

“Okay, who starts lobbing nukes around?”

“About ten years from now some Muslims in Lebanon start using suicide bombers. One guy goes out and takes hundreds of victims with him. They promise their soldiers lots of post-mortem sex. And it works! The US President pulls his Marines out, and this is seen by the terrorists as positive reinforcement for what they’re doing. So when the new century comes in America pretty much goes into a permanent war against them, and it's a very strange war that mostly stays off the front pages. Mostly it’s a David verses Goliath story. But you can't un-invent the bomb, and sooner or later these suicidal assholes start getting some nukes, and there's no way to stop them. Eventually the West resorts to just sterilizing Islam from the entire planet but we take a lot of damage too, and after that the world is in no shape to do much of anything in the way of star travel.”

“So you're saying we just traded a dark future for an even darker one.”

“Oh, it's not all dark. There's some good things that will happen too. Communism goes away. People get smarter about their health, there’s some traction on the war on cancer. People will carry around telephones with no wires, and they will use them to watch any movie or television show they want, whenever they want to watch them. These telephones will double as cameras. Movie cameras even. And all those pictures and movies and music and things they write about what they're doing will go up on this big, connected . . . thing . . . so all their friends and anyone in the world can see them. And that's how everyone will get the news or read books in forty years, even in the smallest villages of the poorest countries.”

“With all that going for them, why do they kill the space program?”

“It costs too much and there’s no more rivalry with the communist world to conquer space. Oh, they don't kill it dead, they just switch to sending robots to do it instead, take pictures of all the planets, so people can see them on their little telephones. That doesn't do us much good, does it?”

“No it doesn't. We definitely must find a way to make the Americans reconsider rolling back their space program.”

“You should use reverse psychology, Lil. If they run into us up there telling them to go ahead and dial their program back, they'll do precisely the opposite.”

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