Vices and Orders
:from the Chronicles of Purgatory Station
Scott William Foley
October 13 – MAP Secret Headquarters, Undisclosed Location
Senator Otto Janus, Supreme Commander of the Meta-Agent Program, presided over a meeting in the conference room with his most accomplished sniper: Agent 0073—Shootdown. Also in attendance were the rest of his top personnel: Agents 0050, 0091, 0102, and 0104—Hell Hound, Cyber Spy, Shadow Serpent, and Anthem.
They sat at a long, granite table with Senator Janus, naturally, at the head. He wore a suit of the finest design with the prerequisite flag lapel—as all good patriots must—and held a simple black thermos, which he neglected. His eyes were cold and his demeanor subdued.
His best agents remained silent while listening to their commanding officer work through the specifics of Agent Shootdown’s mission. Each wore the standard MAP black fatigues. Only Shadow Serpent wore a variation of the uniform, for his came equipped with a very necessary headpiece covering his entire face. Though they would not actively participate in Shootdown’s operation, the termination of his target would trigger global consequences that each would need to carefully manage and manipulate. Of course, it goes without saying they would be guided by the machinations of Supreme Commander Senator Otto Janus.
After a lengthy, detailed explanation of Shootdown’s directives, Janus finished by saying, “Gentlemen, the success of Agent 0073’s mission will ultimately end the Ulrakistan War and stabilize the geopolitical landscape. Thanks to your continued expertise, we will put this world back on track, and we will do so on my terms using my sound judgment. Any questions?”
Of course, because these were the most distinguished and successful agents in the program, there were no questions, no doubts, and no concerns. These men existed to execute orders no matter the repercussions. Only one rebelled against the program, and though he evaded their reproach for several months, they eventually captured and imprisoned him. Ironically, they codenamed him Freedom.
Janus studied his men, and then, with his lips pressed tightly together, said, “Dismissed.”
The gravity of his decisions bore upon him. The logistics of who lived and who died were contingent upon the greater good. Who else could he trust to make the correct choices but himself?
October 16 – Prime Minister’s Private Palace, Ulrakistan
Agent Shootdown lay upon a rooftop 817 meters from Prime Minister Salah al-Amiri’s private palace outside Ulrakistan’s capital city. He methodically adjusted the 24-power scope of his modified McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle.
Behind the black lenses of his midnight blue mask, Shootdown’s brown eyes were icy, calculating, and resolute. He analyzed the temperature, humidity, current wind speed, and rotation of the planet.
He’d made far harder shots in the past. He’s got the medals to prove it.
At last, the Prime Minister’s guests emerged one at a time from the palace. Many stumbled and swayed after a long night of enjoying Ulrakistan’s best wines and delicacies as they climbed into their secured transports.
As Shootdown expected, the least important dignitaries left first.
His target would come out last.
After stoically waiting another forty-nine minutes, Shoodown’s quarry surfaced looking sober within his rifle’s crosshairs.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Shootdown flexed his trigger finger. He next packed his gear and humped it to the safe house.
October 17 – Carmah’s Cup, Purgatory Station
Julie Carmah struggled to keep up with her early morning crowd while rushing from table to table, determined to maintain the satisfaction of her loyal customers, thus ensuring their inevitable return.
She missed the help of her brother-in-law, Nick. Though he did what he could to give her a hand in the mornings, he invariably had to leave in order to attend the day-by-day grind of his senior year.
The local jazz station played from tastefully placed speakers in two corners of the tiny café and complimented the low din of chatter. Julie’s patrons were largely comprised of business people grabbing a simple breakfast and those retirees who chose to remain in Purgatory Station instead of heading across the bay into Boston or south to Florida.
Just as Julie made her way back toward the kitchen to drop off some dirty dishes, the music ceased and the DJ said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please excuse this interruption …”
Julie noticed the unmitigated shock in the DJ’s voice. She stopped at her front counter and set down the plates. His tone alone demanded their attention.
The café hushed as the DJ informed, “We’ve just received word that presidential nominee and projected winner Governor Rick Thornton has been assassinated in Ulrakistan. He was sixty-seven years old. This, of course, will have a huge impact upon next month’s election. We’ll break in with more news as details release.”
Julie thought of her late husband, Trent, killed-in-action during a tour of duty almost three years ago in Ulrakistan and wondered how many more would die in that desert land.
She then looked at her ring finger and thought of Allen Hemingway, a man who proposed to her hours before a clandestine faction of the government hijacked him. Some considered him a traitor to the nation and some, including Nick, practically worshipped him as a hero.
After all, Allen was also known as the Colossal Freedom.
October 20 – Trover’s Fine Literature, Purgatory Station
Franklin Trover sat upon the stool behind the register of his bookstore and stroked his silver mustache. He just hung up the telephone after calling his girlfriend of innumerable years, Sophie, to come down from their apartment above the store and join him.
He didn’t tell her why. He wanted to waste no time.
“What’s going on?” she asked as she materialized from the back room after descending the stairs.
Franklin hefted a small television out from behind his counter and said, “They’re about to announce who’s going to replace Governor Thornton!”
Sophie strolled through the empty store and joined Franklin behind the register.
“Since when do you watch TV while working?” she asked.
“Since this nation’s best hope for a brighter future got gunned down like an animal.”
Franklin said, “Here it comes.”
Upon the television screen, party leader Brian Petker appeared before a solemn backdrop and said, “Friends and countrymen, as you know, this nation mourns the loss of a true servant of the people and harbinger of hope—Governor Rick Thornton. However, this press conference is not to lament the senseless murder of our nation’s most inspirational leader, for an election nears and Rick would be the first to tell us to take care of business. And we have serious business for which to attend—we must appoint a new presidential nominee for the coming election. As you know, Governor Thornton handpicked, amidst much protest, Senator Laura Jasinski to be his vice presidential nominee. We feel it only right to preserve Rick’s vision and so we therefore name Laura Jasinski as our presidential nominee for the impending election. Senator Jasinski now has the task of choosing her own vice presidential nominee, and she will do so in a matter of days. We must continue the campaign for the White House and save this nation from the greed and corruption that permeates its most important leadership positions. With Rick Thornton’s spirit watching over us, I know we can right the wrongs of the last few years and bring this nation back to glory. Thank you.”
Franklin and Sophie stared blankly at the screen as pundit after pundit began their raucous commentary.
Finally, Sophie said, “This changes things.”
Franklin agreed, “I would have gone to Hell and back with Thornton … Jasinski was something I could overlook with him in charge, but now … Let’s just say I’m looking hard at Bessudo.”
“You’ve always voted straight-ticket in the past,” Sophie reminded.
“Yes, and with Thornton I would have been happy to do it again.”
Sophie sighed and shook her head, “This all doesn’t feel right. Allen taken away like that, right on the street, after saving so many lives …”
Franklin stood up and wrapped his arms around her. “I know. Something stunk about that, and something stinks about Thornton’s murder as well.”
“What do we do?” Sophie whispered. “I haven’t felt this helpless in a long, long time.”
Franklin said, “We pray … and we vote. What else can we do?”
October 25 – Attic of First Redeemer Church, Purgatory Station
The Nocturnal Knight stood wearing civilian clothes with his former Absolutes teammate, Solar Flare. In just a few moments, Senator Jasinski would reveal her vice presidential running mate.
The Knight glanced at the man covered in a silver shell with a red visor shielding his face. Solar Flare burst through the skylight several months ago as the Nocturnal Knight sat contemplating how some of his actions contributed to the world’s current tailspin.
The Knight later looked in the mirror and tried to explain to Pastor Irons that Solar Flare would be staying with them during the coming months as they prepared for the unavoidable return of Quietus, the entity responsible for the destruction of the Absolutes. But the Knight’s words fell on deaf ears, for Pastor Irons had not yet relinquished his embargo against the old Colossal.
Irons quite possibly would never speak to the Nocturnal Knight again.
Senator Jasinski appeared on screen.
Solar Flare, his voice rising from the depths of whatever comprised his innards, mumbled, “This is all wrong.”
“Quiet,” the Nocturnal Knight hissed. “I want to hear this.”
Jasinski began, “My fellow Americans, nine days ago, our history changed course. I can tell you that when Rick Thornton chose me to be his running mate, I was every bit as surprised as you. I know I don’t have the experience Rick had, and I know I don’t possess the sheer charisma of the man, either. Before Rick’s death, we were so far ahead in the polls that everyone assumed we could look forward to calling Governor Thornton ‘President’ Thornton. However, things have changed—the numbers don’t lie. General Bessudo and Senator Lampe are inching closer and closer in the polls, and it’s obvious you need me to do something to restore your faith in Governor Thornton’s message.
“I want you to remember that Governor Thornton saw something in me that told him I was the one he could entrust the nation to if something happened to him. Fate cruelly held him to his decision, and I ask that you honor his memory by honoring his choice of running mate.
“However, I understand what a hard decision it is for you to put so much faith in such a little-known commodity. Asking you to trust in Rick only goes so far, and so I hope that with my choice of running mate you’ll rest easier knowing I have someone I can fall back on with the experience and knowledge equal to Rick Thornton himself.
“I’d like to present to you today my choice for vice president and the man who will help me lead our great country to prosperity once more: Senator Otto Janus!”
The Nocturnal Knight saw the man responsible for locking Freedom away without trial. He saw the man with a heart of darkness, and his own went cold.
“In the name of God, we cannot allow this,” Pastor Irons said to him.
The Nocturnal Knight turned off the television and saw Irons reflected in the empty screen. He knew better than to push his luck by welcoming back his old friend, so instead he simply said, “Agreed.”
From behind the Knight’s shoulder, Solar Flare pronounced, “This is the beginning of the end.”
October 25 – Northwestern University, Evanston
Senator Otto Janus walked out upon the stage to a plethora of student boos. A smile firmly cemented upon his face, he shook Senator Jasinski’s hand and approached the microphone.
The boos intensified.
“As you can hear,” he began, “I am not particularly popular among the youth of our great nation. Therefore, I’d like to nip this in the bud, right here, right now. Two years ago, I was largely responsible for the apprehension of Freedom, our government’s gift to the American people and a man who ultimately turned treacherous. Though he was a Colossal in appearance, he was also a servant of the nation and had pledged his undying loyalty to the United States of America. He was given orders he found unsavory and he neglected those orders and went underground, taking the equipment you—the taxpayer—paid for.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, you heard Freedom tout the fact he was given orders to kill—that he couldn’t go through with such a thing. But how is that any different from the brave American soldiers in Ulrakistan who are ordered to terminate the enemy on a daily basis? Do you think they enjoy killing?
“I assure you … they do not. But they still do it, because they love their country and want to protect the people living upon American soil.
“Freedom absolutely deserved to be reigned in, and I can assure you, during his detainment he is being treated humanely and with every consideration afforded all American citizens.
“And that’s what you can expect from me as vice president. I’ve always had to make hard decisions, and, consequently, they’ve always turned out to be the right ones. Check my voting record—many bills I pushed in the past were unpopular at the time, but they all turned out to favor the American people.
“As you know, I dropped out of the presidential race back in July when it was obvious I couldn’t compete with Governor Thornton. With a man like him winning the office, I was happy to do so. I ran for president because I didn’t think anyone else had the moral fortitude to bring us back from the brink, but Rick Thornton did. Therefore, when that became obvious to me, I gladly stepped aside.
“But those insurgents—those monsters!—in Ulrakistan assassinated Rick Thornton. They shot him from the shadows and never even admitted what they did. Our favorite son is dead because we’ve let this war go on too long. I assure you, if Senator Jasinski and I are elected, we will not end this war—we will win this war! We will take the wheel of this great nation and set a due course for a bright future! We will honor Rick Thornton and do right by him, so that he will look down upon us from Heaven and say, ‘I left the USA in good hands.’”
Otto Janus this time smiled a real smile, for the crowed now no longer booed him, but instead cheered his message. They chanted his name, they clapped, and they laughed and grinned like the thoughtless sheep he knew them to be.
He smiled, for he knew MAP would make sure he and Jasinski were elected.
He smiled, for he knew that in sixteen months he would give Agent Shootdown yet another mission, and he would then be President Otto Janus of the United States.
Copyright © 2008, 2015 by Scott William Foley
All Rights Reserved.
Originally Published at WWW.SCOTTWILLIAMFOLEY.COM
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.
Also By Scott William Foley …
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The Imagination’s Provocation: Volume I
The Imagination’s Provocation: Volume II
Dr. Nekros Electronic Serial
Dr. Nekros: The Tragedian (1 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Phantasms and Chicanery (2 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Bloodied Pistons (3 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: An Unforeseen Calamity (4 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: A Nightmare Realized (5 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: An Abhorrent Culmination (6 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Monstrosity’s Dawn (7 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Demons Within (8 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Lineage (9 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Inevitable Demise of Anton Hall (10 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Diatribe and Divulgence (11 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Peripeteia (12 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Realm Within (13 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Depths of Fate (14 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: A77 (15 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: A Catastrophic Convergence (16 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: The Devil’s Ashes (17 of 18)
Dr. Nekros: Requiem For the Redeemed (18 of 18)
About the Author
Scott William Foley is a proud husband, father, educator, and writer. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in English Secondary Education and his Master’s degree in Reading from Illinois State University. Foley currently lives in Normal, IL