85 - TRISH
Just like Robyn and Hunky, Morgan Brooklyn went through the Change without asking for it to happen. A slender strawberry-blonde, Morgan was very feminine, just as pensive as her calico named Retardo-Cat. She wore pretty knee-length dresses and didn't even own a pair of jeans, except for hiking when she made a sole concession and wore cutoff shorts.
When Morgan spoke, which was not often, it was in a hesitant but carefully thought out manner. She hardly ever stuck her foot in her mouth. About the only emotion her blank little porcelain doll face would show was a constant impatience, as if she was eternally bored with the people and places she found herself stuck with. This appearance of ennui tended to limit her popularity when she was in high school.
In a few days Morgan Brooklyn would attend her graduation ceremony at Hazen High, where she had just completed her senior year. She had a license and the keys to her mom's car and a part time job in a checkout line gave her a little bit of gas money, but she knew better than to spend the summer just sitting behind the wheel. It wasn't in her plan. She had to get out and move her ass.
Morgan drove south and east and explored the roads between her hometown of Renton and Enumclaw, in the rolling rural areas at the foot of the Cascade front. Crossing the single-lane bridge at Franklin she ended up on a road that was closed by a large green metal gate where the pavement ended. Morgan parked there and got out to explore the gravel road beyond the gate.
A half mile beyond the gate the road forked, with the right hand climbing sharply uphill. That was the road to the summit of End Dome hill. She decided to keep walking on the main road, which was much more level.
A mile past the gate, the road came to an end. Trails led all over the place from there, and Morgan decided to follow one of them. Later, when she knew more about this place, she would realize how lucky she was that she didn't fall victim to the many dangers there.
In one well-hidden place there was a curious small round pond surrounded by grassy berms.
Choosing trails at random, Morgan ascended the northwest face of End Dome hill on a broad ridge and in her head there were only gentle thoughts of this timeless interval between the close of her term and graduation, and the vague idea, a common belief of youth, that she would live forever. As she drew near to a golden object suspended in a grove of cedars ahead, not in her wildest daydreams did Morgan imagine that real immortality was only a few steps away.
On the trails Morgan was well-protected by her big, intimidating Alaskan malamute, Molly. On the game trail that she had chosen to explore, Morgan's dog Molly ran ahead to the little cedar grove and was sniffing at something that looked like a treasure chest, covered in a layer of beaten gold film, with perhaps a dozen needles sticking out of the surface.
Molly let out a yelp of pain and backed off a bit. She was snorting, shaking her nose, then she started growling and barking at the shiny chest as a newfound foe.
By this time Morgan was coming up. “Whassamatter Molly? You get stung by a bee? Let me take a look.”
Just as curious as Molly had been, Morgan put her index finger close to a part of the gold-lined box that was needle-free, just as Robyn and Hunky had once done under the Temple sanctuary years before, and the exact same thing happened. Her finger was skewered by a needle.
“Freaking health hazard,” she said, and she planned to tell someone about it. For the time being, she comforted Molly by rubbing the dog's nose, and turned to walk back to the car. Morgan was no longer in the mood for hiking.
In a few days both Morgan and Molly both developed the classic white bump at the back of their respective heads. Three things saved Morgan from ending up in another government clinic and starting the whole thing all over again. The first thing was that she was too scared to tell anyone, even herself. The second thing was that she loved her dog very much, so she went to an animal hospital. And the third thing was this animal hospital had an employee who worked on macros for Edgar the Elder part time and knew about all these bumps. She steered Morgan to Jill, and all was made clear. The worst part for Morgan was that Lilith insisted that Molly had to be put down. She had never made allowances for the Change to happen to animals.
Much chastened, the B’nei Elohim relocated the Ark to a safer place on Sugarloaf Mountain west of Kangley where Lilith had purchased some land that could be fenced off good. All of them went together, even Lilith. As they carried the Ark, Jill introduced Morgan to Julie, with a black eye from her husband Frank that had nearly healed.
Julie had a bump to match Morgan’s, but it had already opened up like a flower. She said to Morgan, “The only difference between you and me is that I asked for this to happen to me, and you didn’t.”
When they had all reached a consensus on a good place to hide the Ark on Sugarloaf Mountain everyone gathered around in the little wooded glen, and Julie, at the bidding of Robyn, stood forth.
"Take control of your destiny, Julie” Robyn said in her role as Prophet. “Carve out your own free will. Discard your slave name of Julie Pritchard and select a single new name. But consider it well, for it shall be your name for all eternity. Remember, in the B’nei Elohim all of your actions have eternal consequences. So choose!"
"Let me be called Trish."
"You are Trish, forever the fifth member of the B’nei Elohim. Welcome to your new family! This is the ceremony of belonging, Trish. You are now fully one of us."
She wanted to shout Thank You! but no words would come out. The entire experience was too much for her and she burst into tears. And Morgan, witnessing the ceremony too, was suitably impressed.
After the debacle during the transit through the Eggbeater Asmodeus took much greater precautions, such as only allowing one picket ship at a time to operate search radar. As a result the rest of the crossing was relatively uneventful. A year after deploying from Palato the Imperial Loyalist forces entered Hybla-Dia's gravitational influence, moving toward a certain encounter with Beater naval power
Imperial minesweeping shuttles arrived in high Hybla orbit to sweep out a clear path. The sudden appearance of Gerash anti-mine craft spelled out to Seraph Atarculph, commanding the Beater forces, what was soon to come. He immediately ordered the execution of the defensive plan codenamed Backhand.
Asmodeus, after joining with the Central Force, taking command, and placing Azael into a subordinate position, split off the 2nd Battleship Division under the Cherub Ezqeel. The battleships Tormentor and Devastator, the cruiser Pursuer, and four destroyers were ordered to perform one revolution of Dia and meet Asmodeus again in a l ower Hybla orbit to envelop the Beater forces. Another force, that of Cherub Hochmiel, cruising from the edge of the Eggbeater with the remnants of Space Action Group 16, including the frigage Exiler, would meet them as well as a third prong. Timing was crucial.
As Atarculph’s Backhand plan developed the contact reports issued by Tormentor and Devastator made the job of SAG16 commander Hochmiel much easier. He preferred to fight the Beaters outright to the more laborious task of protecting the main body. Now, with the Beaters blundering in his direction to carry out Backhand, all Hochmiel had to do was sit and wait. Aboard the carriers Indomitable and Inquisitor, seasoned Loyalist crews flawlessly readied their fighters for strikes against the oncoming Beater Fleet.
Yet it was not any massive strike that dealt the worst damage to the Beaters but a single bomber, clinging closely to their returning search pickets and escaping detection, that singled out the light carrier Evader as its target. Furiously fired at by the light railguns mounted on the small carrier, the bomber planted an armor-piercing sub-macro bomb in the middle of the hangar bay. In her interior, the bomb wrecked fighters that had been intended to join the strike on Asmodeus, igniting severe fires inside her hangar deck.
Evader's aft magazines, heated by the blaze in the hangar deck, ignited in turn, sending metal splinters in all directions of the sky, killing 230 crew members and maiming many others. With her hangar deck fires relentlessly spreading forward, Evader’s commanding officer Ophan Kafziel decided to abandon his ship.
Seraph Atarculph left behind three destroyers to retrieve the marooned men and went on to carry out the Backhand operation undeterred. Even as Evader died, strikes from the Indomitable task group swooped down on the Center Force of Lord Asmodeus. Simultaneously came fighter strikes on Ezqeel's smaller, but still very potent force.
Indomitable's shuttles found Devastator, the largest vessel ever to ply space. Indeed, they could hardly miss her. Like a magnet, the super-battleship attracted the attention of the majority of Beater strike fighters. Half-ton bombs and a torpedo began to hit the battle wagon, but the giant continued on, seemingly impervious to the assault from the Beater gnats.
In the second wave only three more torpedoes won through to hit Devastor. But the third wave scored eleven bombs hits and eight torpedo hits along the superbattleship's length. Asmodeus, watching from his flagship Tormentor, grew alarmed and ordered the bulk of his Central Force to pull in close to come to the aid of Devastator.
The anti-matter weapon introduced to the Beaters by Edgar the Elder was so powerful it didn’t matter if it actually hit the Devastator, it just needed to get close. None had ever seen an explosion so unimaginably powerful. The dreadnought was completely obliterated. The capital ships that had been pulled in close to protect her were left dead in space. The smaller destroyers and frigates that had tried to form a bubble around Devastator were damaged in various degrees from lightly to serious, including the frigate Exiler, which was ordered to limp home with a convoy of other hulks. Even the survivors suffered from high doses of gamma radiation, All of this came from just one warhead. Once more the Beaters had the full attention of Mastema
Robyn and Lilith ran out of Highway 50 at the nation's capital and got a room on the fourth floor of the Howard Johnson's hotel on Virginia Avenue. After they got all settled in, and the sun had gone down, Lilith took Robyn out on the balcony and said, “I brought you here to sensitize you, to let you practice what I need you to do. So please tell me what comes to mind.”
Robyn was silent for a moment as she surveyed the stack of events that piled up in her mind. At length she said, “All this, the city, it’s gone in a few months. H-bomb.”
“In October there will be a war in the Middle-East that will spin out of control. It won’t turn into World War III, but if you are able, Robyn, tell me what does happen.”
“There’s chaos at first. Millions of people are dead, here and in Russia. The United States moves the capital back to Philadelphia, where it was in the very beginning, but the states in the South and the mountain West take advantage of the opportunity and file for divorce. So you get two countries again, like way back in the Civil War, with America basically down to just New England and the states north of the Ohio River over to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, that area. The other side picks Atlanta to be their capital, and they get southern California, the Rockies, the Great Plains, and Dixie. They actually go ahead and call it the New Confederacy. But Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, they form a third country called Pacifica.”
“So look out towards the end of the century, Robyn. Tell me what happens.”
“Okay, so what’s left of the United States still has the most people and industry and money, but militarily they’re kind of weak. All the bases were in the south and the west. The New Confederacy has the most land and resources, but their culture and their political system isn’t set up to allow their people to flourish, only large corporations. It was the same thing in the Civil War, men dying to keep cotton-growers in the money. Anyone who isn’t white and Protestant will be basically non-citizens there. The New Confederates end up using the military they inherited to extort their neighbors, US and Mexico, the Caribbean, and try to bite off chunks of land. Everyone thinks they’re assholes. But they won’t mess too much with Pacifica, though, because that country inherits the west coast submarine fleet, a bunch of carriers and a crapload of nukes.”
“Tell me about Pacifica then. That’s where we shall have to live.”
“Pacifica is the smallest piece, with the fewest people, but in that country the people will come first. They will do some amazing things to make life on Earth a paradise, but the operative word there is Earth. The space program is entirely forgotten in all this, except for lofting some satellites. Everyone turns inward. And this, Lilith, if I understand your goals correctly, will not do.”
“No, Robyn, it will not do at all. We must make some sort of change, if only to make sure the suffering of those millions of people will not come to be. But I’m entirely at a loss as to how to proceed. I need to find a place where events constrict in such a way that if we apply a small change it will prevent the Cold War from going hot in October. But only you can see time that way, how it does constrict.”
Robyn desperately wanted to help, or at least give Lilith the impression that she was trying to help. She looked across the well-lit street at a large array of striking, modern buildings with graceful curves, very unlike any architecture she had ever seen. “There’s something about that place,” she said with more confidence than she really felt. “Something important, and the President is mixed up in it, but we’re about a year too late and now I can’t unravel what it was.”
“Give me a date and we’re there.”
“What day is it now? Some vacation, huh? I completely lost track.”
“Today is Saturday, June 16, 1973.”
“So there you go, Lilith. Make it June 16, 1972.”
86 - BREAK-IN
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..”
“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.”
87 - BREAK-OUT
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.”
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.”
88 - EUROPA
The Jovian moon Europa is just slightly smaller than the Earth's moon, with a total area of just six percent of the Earth, but the similarity with Luna pretty much ends there. For one thing there are almost no craters on Europa. The entire surface of the satellite is water ice about six hundred feet thick and only one hundred degrees above absolute zero. Underneath that ice is a saltwater ocean that is sixty miles deep and as warm as a heated swimming pool.
Driven by tidal forces as Europa orbits Jupiter every three and a half days, the thin crust of the satellite is always cracking open in random places, allowing liquid seawater to be exposed to the vacuum of space and freeze. This makes the surface of the moon a chaotic jumbled mess, just like a weld that is moved while it solidifies. There were ridges two hundred feet high alternating with ravines just as deep, all oriented at crazy angles.
So it is impossible to build a road on Europa, and it wouldn't last for very long in any event. Despite being one of the smoothest bodies in the Solar System on a large scale, with no mountains to speak of, on a small scale it is perhaps the most difficult place in the Jupiter system for nephilim colonists to get around upon except by flying.
But the House of Gerash didn't take that into account when the Navy of Mastema barged into the Jupiter system first and took over Europa and what they thought was the sweetest spot. They were thinking only of all that water, which their ships with their nuclear fission reactors (and later sub-macros) required for propellant.
But the White Beards soon found there were absolutely no other resources on Europa within reach. All the metals they required had to be imported. The only advantage Europa had over Ganymede or Callisto, which both had a mix of ice and rock, was that the ice didn't have to chiseled out and melted first.
So Europa became a money pit sucking up the Gerash patriarch's treasure and returning no profit to him at all. It wasn't even suitable for a navy garrison. Asmodeus operated Europa at a loss, therefore, only as a prestige showcase, just to say the White Beards had a toehold at Sol. The families of the Gerash clan who were established there lived largely on the Imperial dole.
Power was plentiful even without Asmodeus’ precious sub-macros, obtained by taking advantage of the large thermal gradient between the frozen surface and the warm underground liquid reservoir, but on Europa it was a life where almost nothing could be thrown away. Every piece of garbage had to be carefully weighed in the mind with regard to its possible value after being recycled.
So for nearly a hundred years the colony languished and Asmodeus thought of it seldom, if ever. It rarely figured in the military conflicts of the colonies. The largest towns on Europa numbered only in the hundreds of souls. The names of the colonists grew strange, and they drifted far from the law of Mastema. The Cupel testing system was entirely forgotten. Family Gerash shattered into thousands of individual families, living in homesteads or small communal farms with little communication between each other.
But it did not escape the notice of the Navy of Mastema, based out of Hyperion, that part of the surface of Europa was streaked with color. Some of the colonists had realized the sea salts in those areas were rich with minerals such as magnesium or iron or even gold that could be painstakingly extracted by electrolysis. Some families started operations to extract these minerals, and they not only went off the Gerash dole, they even turned a tidy profit in their own right.
The Patriarch naturally demanded a cut of these profits in taxes. Some of the families paid out of loyalty to Mastema. One such family belonged to Terel, the husband of Greidi and father of Lahatiel and Noriel. Most other families turning a profit on Europa did not pay up, judging it would be far more troublesome and expensive to extract these taxes by force than would ever be obtained by the Navy.
But they forgot the ancient principle of "kill one to warn a thousand". The Patriarch began sending warships down on raids to cower the rest of the homesteaders into paying their taxes. These official raids were carefully planned to avoid hitting the families of those who paid the temple tax as required by the law of Mastema. But some of the ships were commanded by officers who were not quite so meticulous, and wanted a piece of the action for themselves. They conducted unofficial raids, and some of these, unfortunately, resulted in assaults on loyal tax-paying subjects.
The mining operation belonging to Terel was spotted by the Navy of Mastema from above by examining their waste stream, the melted discolored water they dumped on the surface to freeze, leaving an unavoidable tell-tale sign someone was living and working below. The Hashmal named Hanziel, commanding the frigate Exiler, didn’t know Terel dutifully paid a quarter of his prophets to the Empire, but the odds were against it and in either case, their payments did not redound directly to the account of the offers and men of the Exiler. So to Hanziel this made the homestead a perfect candidate for a raid.
Hanziel timed his raid for one of the periods when the waste stream was observed to have diminished, which they took for a sleep period. Europa was tidally locked on Jupiter and "night" lasted for almost two standard days, so it was impossible to tell when the locals were asleep otherwise.
What saved the family was Terrel's strict policy that at least one member stand watch while the other two members slept. That, and also the fact that the airlock, the sole entrance to their homestead, was rigged with an alarm.
At the time of the raid, Greidi was on watch near the top of the main shaft. The ice cave network that was her family's home was two hundred feet below her, and the warm, inky surface of the Europan sea was three hundred feet below that, sending up billows of condensed water vapor that made it difficult to see anything in the main shaft.
When the first bluecoat stepped onto the portico Greidi hit a control stud that tipped the floor on that level forty-five degrees from the horizontal. Taken completely by surprise the spacer slid into the main shaft and began to fall toward Europa's ocean, but was arrested by his safety line.
Beware the female whose loved ones are endangered. Greidi reached out with a sharp blade and severed the line, causing the man to fall. Any scream was muffled by the helmet of his vacuum suit. Whether or not he survived the impact, his heavy suit made him sink like a stone toward the rocky core of Europa, which was yet another sixty miles below the water’s surface.
For her part, Greidi hightailed it down to the family living quarters to awaken har husband and children. Her escape was done by using a ladder with a safety lanyard sliding in a safety rail between alternating footrests. She took them five at a time to get completely out of the main shaft before the airlock cycled and another intruder arrived.
When two more bluecoats emerged from the airlock they called out for their companion in the white steam but got no response. Then they saw the cut line and realized there was trouble. An attempt to report this to Exiler failed. There was a film of heavy metals that had precipitated out from Terel's waste stream on the surface above and formed a Faraday Cage which blocked all radio signals out of the shaft. The wise thing to do at that point would be to abort. But the intruders knew Hanziel was not a wise man. So they proceeded slowly down the shaft under high alert.
When they got to the multi-level series of tunnels that formed Terel's home they dropped one at a time, alternating on point while the other man covered him. On the third level, Terel let the first exposed man have it with a stunner, a weapon which was actually a living plant from Gorpai. The dart penetrated his suit and gave the yang three minutes of total paralysis. All voluntary motor functions and even breathing was disabled. He couldn't move his mouth to warn the other yang, he couldn't even blink. The stunner wasn't used as a weapon of war in Asmodeus' armed forces, but it was often used to render a victim helpless and conscious for torture.
The other man above him wasn't a soldier per se but merely the lander pilot, a Europan colonial who was more or less drafted into the robbery "mission". He assumed the other one below, who really was a Barbelo spacer, was merely rendered speechless by what he saw, and curious himself, he dropped down to see what it was. And Terel hit him with the stunner too.
After they were both tied up Terel demanded, “Where's your unit?”
The reply he got from the spacer was a stream of obscenities, beginning with what he planned to do with Terel's wife, who was standing there covering all of her loved ones.
Lahatiel couldn't abide the insult to his beloved mother. He kicked the man's chair into the white abyss of the central shaft. This time Greidi could hear a scream, for a very long time. It was the first time Lahatiel killed a man, but not the last, by a wide measure.
The third intruder, the civilian became very co-operative after witnessing what had happened to his companion. He said, “Our mother ship is hovering directly overhead.”
“That's much better,” Terel said. “You're not really in the Navy, are you? You have a remarkably better attitude. What's your name?”
“Karayan. The hashmal was short-handed, so I was pressed into service.”
“So you are a Jovian civilian?”
Karayan nodded, affirming that Terel's guess was correct.
Lahatiel kicked the chair, but not hard enough to send it over the edge. Nuriel spat on him. “A curse on your beard,” Greidi told him bitterly. “That you would do this to your own people.”
“From the very beginning I had no choice, madam. The punishments...”
After Terel learned there were only three more men aboard the ship hy said, “So that makes your ship a corvette?”
“Frigate. But we came down in the lander, Exiler Sidekick.”
“Exiler Sidekick? Your frigate is the Exiler?”
“What irony,” Greidi said. “Asmodeus gave that ship to my husband once, then ‘borrowed’ it back to fight the Beaters. Now we are the victim of a raid by the very same vessel!”
“I see one just narrow way out for you, Karayan,” Terel said. “You do not have to die like your two friends. All you have to do is fire up your lander and take myself, my wife, my son and my daughter up to the Exiler.”
Karayan thought about it for a moment. Lahatiel helped hym along hyz thought process by drawing near to him and tapping his feet. “You'll never make it,” Karayan said. “They'll know something is wrong right away.”
“That's why I'm hoping you are a very good actor, Karayan. You need to get on visual, ship-to-ship, and give the performance of your life. Immediately. Because your very life is at stake.”
“And after that where can you go? The Empire will never stop looking for you.”
“Never mind about that. Will you fly us up?”
“It'll be crowded. And what about the other men on the Exiler?”
“No one has to die. I'll give you the lander and you can all fly away.”
Five heartbeats later Karayan said, “Then we do have a deal, sir.”
Before docking, the commanding officer of Exiler raised Corporal Karayan on intership VHF and ordered hym to make his report. Karayan said, “Gold, sir! There's so much the ravmalak told me to take a load up here and go back for more. And there were only four locals in the hole. We finished them off easy.”
“Excellent work, Karayan. We'll get ready to receive you.”
So anxious were the other three men on the Exiler to see the gold they were all present when the lander docked with the frigate and the hatch swung open. That made things easy for Terel and Lahatiel. They didn't have to go though the warship looking for strays. But they did have to hit the men with their stunners several times before they were all stuffed into Exiler Sidekick, the hatch was closed, and the lander was cast off into space.
Lahatiel never learned what happened to the spacers after they departed. Perhaps the three overcame the one, wriggled free, and killed Karayan when he succumbed to sleep. He hoped Karayan was the only one who knew how to fly the lander, because that would have preserved his life. Perhaps they found a settlement somewhere on Europa and sold the lander. Or perhaps they realized that the consquences of returning to Hyperion without a ship would be uniquely unhealthy. Mastema expected all of his officers and men to protect his warships with their very lives if necessary.
The cost to Asmodeus for molesting Terel's family was one frigate and it's associated lander.
Giving the lander to Karayan meant that Terel and his family could not return to their homestead to get their possessions. On very short notice they were forced to leave almost everything they owned behind. All they had left was the clothes on their back, the frigate, and everything aboard her. Lahatiel and Noriel went through the ship cataloging whatever they found while Terel flew on to the distant outskirts of the Jupiter system to see if he could find Greidi’s father.
89 - CONCERT
By the late Fifties the tour itinerary of The Jills was much larger than before, encompassing the entire western half of the United States. The Jills even played a gig at the foot of the Matterhorn ride in Disneyland. But despite the larger geographical footprint, in terms of total cities played their road show was slightly abbreviated compared to the earlier tour because little Hailey had to tag along too, and her summer vacation ran for only about three months.
The album created by the Jills in the fall of 1958 was called Suicide Club, which would have eerie reverberations a few years later when they operated a company called Cryoscan.
The first album by The Jills had been recorded in a garage with egg cartons lining the walls to improve the acoustics. Their second album had been recorded in a professional studio, but they had to book time there, and they only had short slots, sometimes as brief as two hours, to lay down what they could. But for Suicide Club, The Jills built their own recording studio with an eight-track system, and they actually lived in it for three months while they created their record. And when they were finished, the studio became a source of income when other artists lined up to get time in it.
The sound was exotic, morbid, even Gothic, and certainly ahead of its time. Jill traded in her piano for an organ. Audrey used a store-boughten fuzz box between her bass and the mixer board. Trish would pick up a sitar as often as she would pick up a guitar. Gina slowed things down a bit from the earlier days and developed a more stately, deliberate beat, but there's was still a drum solo or two that was hotter than anything anyone else was doing at the time.
No less than five cuts on the record garnered airplay including "No Love Lost," "Forever," "Pipe Dreams," and "All Or Nothing" But the biggest hit on the album was "Life and Death Are the Same" and this became the eternal war cry of the B’nei Elohim. In February 1959, after the Day the Music Died, The Jills would put this maxim to the test.
"Shit, Jill, it's slipping!"
Trish had gotten past the halfhearted pat down at the box office without being stopped, but she neglected to wrap the tape more carefully around her thigh, and a bottle of brandy slid down the inside of her long skirt and shattered on the blacktop.
Jill didn't break her stride or even look back. "You brought that in here?" she gasped, with mock indignation. That brought knowing chuckles to some of the others walking on the long, crowded, landscaped path leading to the Carter Barron Amphitheater near Washington DC. Jill was probably hoping her own bottle of hootch wouldn't slip next.
As Jill and Trish picked their way to their seats their band was warming up, with Gina beating out a long drum solo and Audrey doing some live improvisation on electric bass. The "gimmick" of the Suicide Club era Jills was a sort of bad-girl mystique. They encouraged the rampant rumors floating around that the lead singer was wanted by the authorities, which was in fact the case.
Jill pointed out to Trish that besides the usual concert bouncers there was a heavy law enforcement presence around and behind the stage. They had formed a gauntlet up there, determined to intercept the mystery woman before the show, if and when she showed up. Trish wanted to abort the whole thing, but Jill said there was no stopping it now. The presence of DECON agents in their fedoras and DC city police merely added to the crowd's feeling of anticipation.
By an unspoken signal, part of the crowd suddenly rushed down to fill up the space in front of the stage. Jill and Trish started diving over the newly vacated seats to join them, pushing their way through them right up to the edge of the stage. After a word from Audrey to a couple of bouncers, Jill and Trish were physically pulled up onto the stage. The crowd, clued in on the mythos of The Jills, cheered the clever way Jill and Trish had bypassed the heat behind the stage, and they began to grow excited.
Tubby low tones began boinging out of the electric bass guitar Audrey had strapped on, interacting with Gina who was beating the crap out of her drum kit yet still improvising her rhythms in, and around, and under Audrey's more precisely timed bass lines to give The Jills their very unusual but organic sound. In a reversal of convention it was Audrey who kept perfect time and Gina drumming was the "human" element of subtle randomness.
Meanwhile Jill and Trish ranged all over the stage, dancing, doing the flashy legwork of putting on a good show as the roar and whistling of the crowd rose to a deafening level
"Good evening, Washington DC! It's good to be out of the Seattle rain for a while. I'm Jill. My friends Trish and Audrey and Gina are gonna play some tunes with me, starting with this old familiar favorite--"
Jill was interrupted by police and DECON agents swarming the stage from its perimeter, apparently on a prearranged signal. Earl Roland was with them. He moved close enough that Jill could hear him shout over the noise to say, “Becky, what the hell are you doing?”
Jill decided to appeal to her fans. "Hey folks, it looks like the POE LEECE don't want us to play for you tonight! So what do you say to that?"
The crowd expressed their great displeasure, booing, throwing stuff at the stage, pushing the security guys back and some of them even wedged between the bouncers and clambered up onto the stage to confront the cops. A riot was a hair's-breadth away and Earl Roland knew it. He made a chopping motion with his hand. The men released the band and returned to their positions just off-stage. They could afford to wait.
The crowd cheered again, excited by this full-participation theater The Jills were putting on. Jill wasn't sure how long they'd get to play before the hammer of the Law dropped and her father moved in again so she told the band to play No Love Lost.
The opening bars of the hit from Suicide Club filled the stadium, and the fans went wild. Jill started belting it out.
Date her, mate her, take good notes And rate her, you hypocrite! But you don't know There’s no love lost!
Booze her, use her, try your best To lose her, cruise holy writ For a reason why! There’s no love lost!
Your goody-good book Bible Baptist bitches are gonna know this time!
Eve was framed by Adam but Blaming the victim won't Fly this time!
Jump her, pump her, Then go ahead and dump her, Tell yourself it's to save her soul. There’s no love lost!
Stalk her, block her Get your flock to mock her She won't submit to the status quo! There’s no love lost!
Trish had just launched into the blistering slapped bass solo that bridged to the middle third of the song when shots began to ring out.
Jill went down on the stage, bullets having struck each leg. She marveled that there was no pain. Gina, Audrey, and Trish dove into the crowd and scattered away. Roland didn’t want them anyway.
In a nearby hospital, after doctors had stabilized Jill, her father came calling. Jill remained under heavy guard, both to keep her in the hospital room and to keep her friends out.
“You’re thinking your own fame was your downfall, aren’t you Becky? You’re thinking I saw that thing in Life magazine, recognized my own daughter, and here I am.”
“Naw, Daddy, we all know your DECON agency is watching us.”
“That film was the damndest thing I ever saw,” he said. “I’m talking about the one you showed in the Senate. At the time of the incident it rather faithfully recorded I don't remember you bringing a movie camera to the house.”
“So you're saying we faked it, Daddy?” Jill asked.
“No, Becky, it was real enough. I can only surmise that you took it from your own memories, somehow. Such a thing would be unbelievably useful to me at DECON. Think of the coercive pornography I could make from the head of some whore, with the President or Senator she’s sleeping with never realizing he’s being filmed!
Jill snorted. “Good luck with that idea, Daddy. The stuff we used to make the movie is literally out of this world.”
“Nevertheless, you will tell me all about it. And also you will tell me all about the Golden Gift. And the flying saucers. And where we can find the Ark of the Covenant. And how your friends always manage to escape when they are caught.”
“And if I refuse to tell you all that, Father? Will you run your own daughter through the wringer?”
“Becky, the doctors tell me that despite the bullet that lodged in your right leg they can remove it without much more damage. You’ll limp but you shouldn’t lose the leg. But I’m thinking, no, the surgery would involve general anesthesia, and I think I remember from when you were a little girl that you are allergic to that. I’m thinking the ether or chloroform or whatever they want to give you when they take the bullet out might kill you. Still, if we leave the bullet in your leg, that will kill you too, only slower. So I’m thinking the only option you have is that we must amputate the right one. Without anesthesia.”
“You would do that to your own daughter? Are you insane, Daddy?”
“Insane? Becky, I’m shocked. I’m only interested in doing what’s best for you. In fact, that left leg too, where the other bullet grazed you, I know the doctors say it doesn’t look too bad, but now that I can see it closer, I think it might need to be hacked off too, after they do the right one. They say, Becky, that most people can almost bear it when the doctor is sawing through the skin and the meat, but when he starts sawing through the bone, they can’t bear that part at all. So do yourself a favor and talk to me.”
But she did not talk to him, and right up to the point when the doctor commenced the procedure she kept expecting Lilith or Yeshua to yank her out of there with a fold-door, but it never happened.
She didn’t do an End of Cycle like she did the last time Roland tortured her, when part of her was still Jerry Shybear, but she did supply her own general anesthetic before the doctor started to cut. Only during the evening after the surgery, when she was still unconscious in recovery and even her guard fell asleep for just a few seconds, did she get pulled out of there to safety.
When she awoke her doctor had been replaced by Yeshua Bat-El, and the room had changed. Jill felt curiously light. “That took long enough, Lord,” she said, and she looked down at her legs expecting them to be good as new. But she had a pair of short stumps cut above the knees, wrapped in bandages.
Yeshua said, “I could have removed the bullet and saved the right leg, Jill, but I can’t make you a new leg, let alone two. That’s some father you have who would maim his own daughter.”
“Where am I, Lord?”
“This is the Moon, and it’s about twenty years down the timeline for you.”
“If you can manipulate time, Lord, then please go back to 1959 and talk me out of doing that concert so I don’t lose my legs. Or at the very least pull me out of that hospital before my father cuts ‘em off.”
“I’m sorry, Jill. I can certainly do what you ask, but I must not do it. There’s a historical thread my mother and I call the Narrow Way that allows us to defeat Mastema and in that thread you must lose your legs to make it work.”
“But you’re talking about my legs!”
“I’ll make it up to you, Jill, after we win through to the other side. An eloah promises this! Besides, even if I do what you asked me to do, there would only be a copy of Jill who saves her legs. This original version of you, right here, wouldn’t get her legs back no matter what I did. I’m sure you know this must be true. You’ve thought about a similar situation many times when you developed your notion of a True Death.”
“Then why does your ‘Narrow Way’ require that I lose my legs?”
“I’m sorry, Jill, if I gave you that information, you might work to nullify your own role and the Narrow Way would be lost.’’
“To hell with your Narrow Way, Yeshua! You’ve just lost me as a willing participant anyway. I’m going to whatever I can to fight you. I’ll even join with Mastema.”
“Jill, I told you I would make it up to you after all this is over, and there are some among the B’nei Elohim who will make a far greater sacrifice than you with your two precious limbs. If that is still not enough for you, then proceed to the camp of Mastema and hurt your friends exactly as you described. But I will protect the Narrow Way.”