For All Nails #287: Palace Full of Fantasy
by Mike Keating
The patriots came to the |President's Palace in droves. Brian led the way into the huge mansion. There was security massed at the front door. Perhaps the entire security staff was there; it looked to be 20 people. They went down easily against a force of more than 100 revolutionaries. The ceremonial guards went down with even less of a fight, many of them surrendering. Harold noted that the ceremonial force seemed to be slightly bigger than the real force, and wondered what that said about the strategic importance of this target. Still, it's gotta be easier than the Executive Palace, he thought. Another 150 were still coming down Gallivan Street to help with any problems inside. The revolutionaries in the first wave were calling on the second wave to hurry before tear gas could be released.
Brian turned to Harold and smiled. "I suppose they'll be having a little trouble holding the service." He turned around to look at the rain outside. "Although it looks like they would have anyway with the weather. I wouldn't want to be in line to get into the service for long." As he said this, he stepped around the body of one of the guards. Harold hoped nobody had noticed he'd avoided actually hitting anyone with his gun.
Donaldson looked around as George Eskin-Brookline walked into the building with a smile on his face. "The palace is secure. Everything is looking good. Let's go find Burgoyne."
Col. Connor Furlong looked to the east and west of the macadam and saw that the Army troops were well positioned. The town of Payne was encircled. No one could enter or leave without being thoroughly checked. The CBI forces were in place too. Here and in several other western Virginia towns, informants had quietly tipped off the CBI that something was afoot. When people had been seen loading guns into lokes and leaving town, Furlong had gotten orders to assist the CBI and provide manpower to cordon off the towns. Since then, large groups had tried to head north along this road. One had been turned back peaceably. But the second had to be tear-gassed and arrested; the last had required water cannons and rubber bullets. I hope they've learned that we won't let them contribute to whatever's happening, he thought.
Just then, a lookout called out. Furlong raised his binoculars and saw six lokes coming down the macadam. He sighed and called for the tear gas to be readied. He hoped he wouldn't need the water cannons. The lokes stopped about fifty feet away and everyone but the drivers got out. They were all carrying machine guns. Furlong ordered the gas released and the guns with the rubber bullets ready.
Three minutes later, the townspeople were all in custody, and Furlong hadn't lost anyone. He was satisfied... for now, at least.
Meanwhile, Brotherhood compounds throughout the CNA were receiving the same treatment. The compound in Michigan City had surrendered; the one in Philadelphia had fought back and been taken bloodily early in the morning. None of the other compounds had seen action yet.
- Club 168
- Intersection of Gallivan St. and 3rd Avenue
- 1:08 PM
Kevin Fleming looked at the President's Palace through a window. His stomach rumbled; he grabbed a couple vinegar-soaked chips from a nearby plate. He was glad that a restaurant had been chosen as the command post; he hadn't eaten in hours. Ordinarily he wouldn't be important enough to help represent the CBI at the service, but he'd been in Burgoyne to meet with Sir Benjamin Anthony when the plane crash happened.
On his left, Anthony looked in the same direction. "I suppose it's fortunate that you were here in Burgoyne for the memorial services when this happened. You've been the one that was so worried about the army clubs. Now you are here when they try a full-fledged uprising." As always, Anthony spoke with an overly formal tone. Fleming wondered if he spoke that way around his family, and then forced his attention back to the matter at hand.
"Well, sir, I can offer you whatever expertise I have. But right now the next move is up to them. We have yet to really hear from any of their higher-ups, and they've given no demands. I had an informer inside their organization, but I haven't heard from him recently. I hope he's in there."
"You haven't heard from him recently? Any chance they've found him out?"
"No way to tell, sir," Fleming answered. "What bothers me is how we've had no reports yet of trouble elsewhere. One building. No military bases. No other cities. As soon as we get our resources together, we'll have a lot more than they do. The Army is helping to encircle some towns in western Virginia that are filled with people hostile to the government, and we're moving on army club compounds in several cities. They may have had plans to move on other targets that we foiled."
"But," replied Anthony, "they have so many valuable hostages. We have to wait on them... and on your informant."
- President's Office
- 3:20 PM
George looked at Brian with a blank expression. It was hard to read what he was thinking. In the same sort of voice one would use in discussing the weekend football matches, he asked, "Is the equipment we brought ready for the broadcast?"
Harold nodded. "We're ready to go on the air. The only real question is whether they'll put us on the air."
George had apparently already seen to that. "We told the millies we would be broadcasting, and we wanted them to see to it that the signal went out nationwide. Otherwise, there'd be... repercussions." Brian thought he saw Harold shiver a bit at the last word.
"Jason, who's your best explosives man?" George asked over the handspeaker.
Yates' voice came back, "That'd be Bo Strickland. He's very good."
"Well, if Bo knows his explosives so well, can he set up a radio detonator to do what I was telling you over the phone last night? No cord or fuse box unless it won't be visible."
"Sure thing. Just let me know his cue."
"Liberty and justice to this land."
The leader of the Samuel Adams Brotherhood went on the air at four o'clock sharp. "Good afternoon. My name is George Eskin-Brookline of the Samuel Adams Brotherhood. Today, we of the Brotherhood and associated organizations have acted to liberate the North American people. For almost two centuries now, you have lived under the iron fist of oppression. You haven't always felt that oppression, but it is still there."
"Two hundred years ago, noble patriots acted to free their people from the British yoke. They failed, and the oppressors from across the Atlantic dealt with them cruelly. Then the British set up a government of generals foreign to North America and collaborators native to our own land. Just last year, they tried to pull the wool over our eyes by cutting the obvious ties to Britain. At the same time, they got us involved in foolish conflicts in Boricua and New Grenada that have cost the lives of more than a thousand of your children, your brothers, your friends."
"Our demands are simple. We require the resignation of the Governor-General, his Cabinet, and the Grand Council. These resignations will be followed by free elections to create a government that is truly from among the people."
"Within the President's Palace we have over one hundred hostages, including His Grace Arthur Burgoyne, Duke of Albany and President of the CNA. (George loaded the titles with sarcasm.) If the officials I have mentioned do not resign before noon tomorrow, we shall kill one hostage every hour on the hour. Thomas Jefferson once said that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. We will regret having to kill innocent citizens of North America, but if the just and fair conditions we have outlined are not met, then it will be necessary."
"We are most serious in this matter. To prove we mean what we say, I ordered some of our people to set up a camera within view of the main entrance of this building. Let's see what they see."
On a monitor out of view of the camera in the Presidential office, a shot of the front entrance of the President's Palace appeared. A middle-aged woman in a maid's uniform could be seen tied to the center pillar. In the background, the rain had stopped but it was still cloudy. "This is Roberta Donatelli. She is originally from New Orleans. We hate to do this, but we feel we must to bring liberty and justice to this land."
As George finished that sentence, an explosion ripped apart the pillar from behind. The stone column broke into three pieces and collapsed downward. The pillars to the immediate left and right of the center one were knocked off their bases and fell toward each other, meeting just above the pile of rubble where the middle pillar had been. The left column snapped in two, but the right one remained intact except for a large crack across the top. A large cloud of dust was starting to obscure the scene, but Brian could still make out the lifeless right hand of Roberta Donatelli under the wreckage. At least, he could until that section of the roof, having lost its support, fell onto the top of the steps.
"We welcome you, the people of North America, to make your feelings known to the oppressors who allegedly rule in your interests. Rise up all over the country and throw out your local governments. In the meantime, we await the response of the oppressive regime currently in place. Godspeed to all of you."
George leaned back in the Presidential desk chair. "I think that went well. By tomorrow morning the uprisings will be underway all over. Except maybe the SC. Except for Theo's area, we've always had trouble there."
Brian nodded. "Things are looking better all the time, George. The reign of the Tories is finally over." He wasn't actually saying this to impress George, either. He wondered if anyone in the Brotherhood believed they weren't destined to succeed with this operation. He didn't think so.
Brian didn't see Harold keeping his hands behind his back, so nobody would see them shaking.
- Club 168
- 4:10 PM
"Do those madmen believe all that?" Anthony groaned.
Kevin Fleming nodded, although his mind was only half on the speech. The other half was focused on the blueprints laid out on a table before him. "Apparently they do, sir. It explains their tactics. They began with only an attack on one building, a building which has no strategic value but plenty of symbolism. They meant to follow with other strikes which never got off the ground because we had our people in place. Those attacks weren't involving much manpower either individually or totally. It's as if they were expecting widespread numbers of people to join them. And from that speech, they seem to sincerely think that the people are behind them."
"A sound analysis, Fleming. It's a good thing we only said we would give them a national broadcast. I'm sure we can easily deal with both of the local viewers who were swayed by his speech." Fleming stifled a giggle; Anthony wasn't given to such witticisms. "What do we know about this Eskin-Brookline person?"
Fleming took a second to switch to the new subject of conversation. "Well, sir, we didn't even know about him until the riot in Boston two years ago. Since then, we've been trying to keep a close eye on him. We haven't always succeeded, but we did get indications that he was the leader of the largest army club organization. Those suspicions were confirmed when I started to get intel from my informant. It wasn't until then that we even knew his full name... at the riot he only gave his first name in his speech. We did some record searches for the name. He's originally from Boston, born and raised there. No criminal record to speak of. He's been able to keep himself from being charged with anything so far."
"Well, if he lives through this, he'll be facing a great number of charges. Starting with treason."
- President's Palace
- 4:22 PM
Harold flushed the loo but continued to kneel in front of it. He regretted having eaten before storming the building. Although if he hadn't, he'd be rather light-headed now. He moved to a sitting position on the floor, remained there for a few seconds, then stood up. He moved over to the sink and splashed some water on his face. After that, he swished some around in his mouth, spit that out, then drank a bit. His mouth tasted better now.
He wondered if there was a way out of the palace without the others seeing him leave. He had given Brian some excuse that would explain his absence for a while, so there wouldn't be anyone wondering where he'd been. He decided to try the basement. There'd been rumors for years about the sewers and tunnels underneath the Executive Palace. It might be worth a shot to see if there was a similar set-up with this building. Of course, that's assuming there really is something under the other one, he realized. If he had to go through the sewers, he'd find something else. He didn't want to have to sneak back in and have to explain his smell.
But after an hour of searching, he decided he'd have to wait until dark and sneak out a window. Wouldn't want our own guards to see me dashing for the millies, now, would I? If he was lucky, the millies would have set up nearby and he'd have no trouble finding them. All he had to do was look for the cluster of marked lokes.
- Club 168
- 7:02 PM
Fleming looked at the blueprints again. Anthony wanted to wait until the Brotherhood got tired during the night before sending in the troops. Now the CBI director walked up to the table looking aggravated. "Any new developments, Fleming?"
"Well, sir, we're hoping to figure out where the hostages are being kept so we can best effect a rescue. There is a central ballroom with the curtains closed. We suspect they have them closed so we can't tell where they have the hostages, but they have also closed other curtains apparently at random."
Anthony frowned a bit, then muttered, "We may have already failed to save those good people. Speigal is with me on this; he told me himself." He continued slightly louder, "Fleming, the first priority is to get those madmen taken care of, by any means necessary."
An agent called him from the doorway. "Chief Superintendent Fleming? There's somebody here who says he knows you and has some information for us."
Fleming turned around. "Harold? Thank God you're all right. I was worried when I never heard from you."
"Sorry I couldn't get word to you," Pickett told him, "but all this came together quite suddenly, and there was no time when I could get a call out unobserved. But I'm here now."
"What can you give us?"
"Well, how about where everyone is in the building?"
Fleming led him over to the blueprint table. Harold pointed out where all the guards and lookouts were posted. Eskin-Brookline and Donaldson had based themselves in the President's office. "What about the roof?"
"One along the north edge, one along the south."
"Hmmm... do your people have night-vision glasses?"
"No. No one seemed to have thought of it."
Fleming nodded. A plan was starting to take shape in his mind.
- 9:34 PM
Anthony gazed at the Palace. "Are you certain this plan of yours will work, Fleming?"
"I've been assured that they have no night-vision equipment, sir. I've got assault teams coming in from the north. Pickett is back inside; he'll be at a south window and say he sees something moving out there at ten o'clock. While they're all looking south, we'll move in from the north." Fleming indicated a large ballroom on the blueprint. "Burgoyne and the other hostages have been put in here, Pickett tells me. One of the teams will head there while the others fan out throughout the building and hunt down any of the criminals. An additional two teams will patrol the Palace grounds with night-vision glasses to catch anyone trying to escape outside."
"Good. You have authorization to proceed."
- Outside the President's office
- 9:50 PM
Harold stopped pacing back and forth long enough to notice Brian watching him. "Harold, you look uneasy," Donaldson observed.
"Well, no one ever said throwing a revolution wouldn't be a stressful thing to do," he quipped. He checked his watch. Almost ten, he thought.
"You do have a point there. I suppose a lot of patriots are on edge tonight," Brian answered. "However, that's probably a good thing. It'll keep them alert."
Harold nodded. "I think I'm going to go check the southern side of the building, see how things are looking for our people there," he told Brian, hoping he sounded like he hadn't been playing the line in his head for a few hours.
A few minutes later, he looked out one of the windows facing south from the palace. The puddles on the macadam between here and the Executive Palace glimmered softly in the nearly full moonlight. When did the clouds go away? he wondered. He checked his watch again: 9:58. He let another minute tick off, then got on his handspeaker.
"I think I see motion from one of the south windows. It seems to be several people approaching the mansion. Repeat, they are coming from the south." If we did have night-vision, this'd never work, he thought.
George's voice came back from the speakers. "We read you, Harold. All available patriots, guard the south side of the building!"
Harold, for his part, headed back toward the President's office. For the first time, he stopped to wonder exactly what work got done in the office of a purely ceremonial official. Then he put idle musings out of his mind.
About halfway back to the office, he ran into George and Brian in a corridor. Both were carrying rapid-action weapons. "How does it look?" Brian asked him.
"They should be coming in right about now... I was hoping to find the two of you." Just then, gunfire could be heard off to the north. All three men turned in that direction. George smiled. "They've been trying to distract us. Feint from the south and come in from the north. Well played. But they don't know that we wired that ballroom." George pulled a radio detonator from inside his jacket. "As soon as I press this button, all the hostages die. They might kill us, but they'll pay a heavy price." The smile on his face looked cold and maniacal. Harold reflected that he hadn't been in on this secret.
A small clattering sound was heard, then another. Harold looked that way to see two small canisters seeping tear gas into the corridor. A third canister flew in from a nearby doorway. George's thumb moved toward the button. My God, Harold thought. Without actually thinking about it, he raised his pistol and shot George Eskin-Brookline in the head. The detonator fell out of his hand and landed on the floor with the button facing up.
Brian looked over at Harold with a stunned expression on his face, then at George's body on the floor, then back at Harold. "Harold... what...," he stammered. Then he started to raise his weapon.
"I'm sorry, Brian," Harold whispered, and then shot Brian Donaldson in the chest. Brian slumped forward onto his knees, and then fell on his face. Harold stood there for a second, not understanding what he had just done. Several figures in body armor and gas masks carrying machine guns came out of the same doorway as the tear gas. The corridor was now almost filled with gas, and it was tough to see them. Harold wasn't sure his tears were from the gas.
"DROP YOUR WEAPON!" one yelled at him. Pickett did so. He felt his hands being cuffed behind his back. After a few minutes, he and a few others were led out of one of the mansion's side entrances.
Pickett turned and looked behind him as the arrested men were loaded into vans. Fleming and Anthony were standing there on the corner smiling. Earlier, Fleming had told him that if this was resolved successfully, then he'd still have to be arrested, but a deal could be cut. Now he hoped it would mean a good deal.
Sir Benjamin turned to Fleming. "I understand we have Mr. Pickett to thank for saving all the hostages from death in that ballroom."
"Yes, although it would have helped if someone had let him in on the ballroom being wired with explosives. He did save a lot of lives tonight, sir. And if it wasn't for him, this would have been a much wider problem than just the one building. I think it may be a good idea to see if we can arrange for him to get a lighter sentence."
"I couldn't agree more, Fleming. Talk to the prosecutors at some point and see what you can work out. What's the final tally?"
"Eighty-four arrests so far, sir, and over one hundred fifty of them killed. Our men are still going through the palace, so it isn't final yet. They haven't gotten to do a full count of the bodies. None of ours were lost, and the only hostage lost was that maid on the vita."
"Excuse me, Sir Benjamin?"
Both men turned to see a sixty-ish man approaching them. It was President Arthur Burgoyne himself. "I just want to extend my gratitude to you and your people for what you've done here tonight. Those men were completely mad, and quite violent. They seemed to hold a great deal of contempt for me. But you've solved the situation nicely."
"Thank you, Your Grace. We are merely doing our jobs, but even so, we could not in good conscience allow so many citizens of the CNA to die. On behalf of all my people, I'm glad to see that you are all right." Burgoyne and Anthony exchanged a few more pleasantries, and then shook hands before Burgoyne excused himself to see to his staff. "What a charming person. Glad to see we picked him as the first to be our President," Fleming said.
"Yes, Fleming. How true. And, to echo what he told me, a job well done for you, Fleming."
(Proceed to #288 (CNA politics): A Statement of Principles.)
(Proceed to November 1977: Love Story.)
(Return to For All Nails.)