For All Nails #286: You Say You Want A Revolution
by Mike Keating (with thanks to Dave MB)
"So, can we repeat?" Harold asked.
"It'll be tough. Michigan City traded for Max Wallace. And remember, everyone's been saying the last couple of years that they were only a good backman away winning in the finals. They've lost in the end for two years; now they have the last piece of the puzzle," Brian replied.
Harold thought he managed to keep his thoughts off his face. It was only with sports, and skaters in particular, that he really felt able to connect with Donaldson anymore. Once he was able to get his mind off of politics and the movement, it was easier. But at the same time, he had to keep anyone from realizing how little he now had in common with the others in the Brotherhood. Opening night, he thought, should help me keep it off my mind.
Tonight's game would be especially good for that. He'd been in attendance with Brian that spring when the Swords had won their first Cup in 19 years. Now came the return of that euphoria as the defense of the championship began. Brian turned on the vita and made sure it was on NUBS. Harold reflected how bad it would be if that network had a Thursday night lineup that wasn't worth it to pre-empt. He checked his watch: 4 minutes to go. A few others were coming into the compound's vita room to watch the game too.
"Save my spot for me? I think I should have just enough time to go to the loo and grab a beer."
"Sure," said Brian. "Could you grab one for me, too?"
Harold agreed, and a couple minutes later came back in the vita room with a couple bottles of Martin's. He took a second to appreciate how he'd been able to taper off his drinking without having to stop altogether. He was just sitting down and passing one bottle to Brian when the introduction came on. "NUBS Black Rock is proud to bring you... Swords Night!" As the last two words were uttered, they appeared on the screen in team colors FN1 against a shot of the ice. But just after the introduction was done and the commentators came on, the vita booth disappeared. Big red letters came on instead: "SPECIAL BULLETIN."
This was taken away in a second or two to show a visibly shaken Philip Barstow. Everyone in the room realized that something national had happened. Whatever it was, it was big. "Good evening," Barstow began. "We're breaking into your regularly scheduled programming tonight because... we've just learned that Governor-General Skinner's airmobile has crashed in Georgia, where he was campaigning for the upcoming elections in February. Details are coming out slowly, but it isn't expected at this time that there are any survivors. Eyewitnesses are saying that the crash was violent."
Barstow took a second to regain his composure; he was apparently still absorbing the shock of the news. Harold looked around and saw several jaws hanging open.
Brian, for his part, was up and headed for the phone right away. He had his hand an inch away from the receiver when it rang, startling him slightly. On the screen, Barstow was continuing with the breaking story more professionally. It wasn't the first time a news bulletin had happened; Harold supposed he had gotten used to the procedure by now.
"George? Yes, I've heard. They broke into the Swords game, which I suppose is canceled now. This may be what we've been looking for. I think we have our moment," Harold heard Brian saying.
"I agree, all three would be too big. But just Burgoyne's should be good enough for our purposes. I can have everyone you need in Burgoyne by tomorrow if we have to... That small? Good, then we can leave others back to start the rest."
A longer pause followed that last sentence. After a minute, Brian spoke up again, "All right, I'll wait till the day of the memorial service. I hope everyone else is ready. See you in the capital, George... and good luck." Brian hung up.
Everyone looked at Brian. "Good news," Donaldson told them all, "the revolution is here. People from assorted chapters are meeting a bunch of Theo's people in Burgoyne the day before Skinner's state funeral. We're going to march as one large group into the President's Palace and take hostages, including Burgoyne himself. Then we force them to give us a vita feed and demand the resignation of everyone in the current government. Or we start killing people." Brian smiled. Harold suppressed a shiver.
"Then," Donaldson continued, "we use that feed to incite the population to revolt against their leaders. The people are behind us. We can't fail. Everyone not going to Burgoyne will be counted on to help lead the rebellion. Right now, I'm going upstairs to do a little planning."
Harold looked down at the open but otherwise untouched beer in his hand. He realized he no longer wanted it.
- 20 October 1977
- Nationwide Vita Transmission from Executive Palace, Burgoyne
- 10:30 p.m.
My fellow North Americans, I have very sad news to report to you all. The airmobile carrying Governor-General Lennart Skinner has crashed near Birmingham, Georgia. The crash site has been thoroughly searched by Georgia militia and there are no survivors.
According to the provisions of the Second Britannic Design as amended, I, Council President Grover Speigal, do hereby assume the office of Acting Governor-General and all the powers and duties appertaining thereto.
I am calling the Grand Council into session at noon tomorrow, to determine its pleasure as to my continuance in office, and to reorganize itself upon my resignation as Council President and as Councilman.
So far all indications are that the loss of the airmobile was a tragic accident. But a full investigation will take place, to be coordinated initially by Science Minister William Knight, an experienced airmobile engineer. If that investigation should show that our loss is due to any deliberate action on the part of any person, persons, or government, or is part of any larger challenge to the Confederation of North America, I assure you that the Confederation stands ready to meet that challenge.
At this time of tragedy, I ask your prayers and remembrance for the families of the departed, and for the souls of Lennart Thorvald Skinner, Daniel Forrest Charles, Armin Lee Roy DeWayne, Elizabeth Reed Richards, Murray Robert Hatton, Winfield Scott Hendricks, Anton Casimir Waskiewicz, Peter Francis Smith, Marie Collette LeBlanc, Joseph William Pigott, William Howard Dailey, Hector Ernesto Rodriguez, and Patricia Margaret Cavanaugh.
May God bless the Confederation of North America.
The town hall was packed. Somehow, news of the meeting had gotten about via word-of-mouth to all the people who needed to know and none of those who didn't. Most of the population of Payne was here; the only ones missing were the children, those who were needed to watch them, and the people who had never known the town's secret. Almost everyone who knew that Payne had been anxiously awaiting revolution for decades was here. They were all still shocked at the news of Lennart Skinner's death, and many wondered if this meeting was connected to it.
The stage lights had been activated five minutes ago, but no one was on stage. Now one figure was walking up the steps to the left side of the stage to the podium at the front. Except for the people toward the back, the audience could recognize him as Theo Simon. He stepped up to the podium and adjusted the microphone theatrically.
"Where would you rather be than right here, right now?" Simon raised a fist in triumph. "The time has arrived! We are ready for the revolution to begin. Skinner's death has created a brief moment of chaos in this country. The movement is ready now, more ready than it was when Hogg or Dewey died. We have a brief window of opportunity to take advantage of this chaos. Do y'all want to see that window close?"
"NO!" The crowd roared as one.
"Good. As I'm standing here talkin' to you now, others all around Virginia, Indiana, the NC, and Manitoba are making the same speech. We are going to Burgoyne. When we storm the city, the government won't have enough to throw against us. The guards at our targeted site are impressive, but they can't handle a force this large. Those of us who don't go will leave shortly after the initial forces so that they can start the revolution everywhere else!"
A large screen lit up at the back of the stage. Simon turned toward it, detaching the microphone from its stand. "This'll be quick; everyone goin'll git more details later. We'll be givin' out assignments after the meeting. Now, let's take a look at the target..."
Elsewhere in Payne, a bar owner who was new to town picked up the phone. Bars were where a lot of talk happened, and he had heard a few things over the last several months. But he'd never been let in on what the town's secret was by anyone except his superiors. I guess it's true what they say. Small towns don't trust newcomers, he thought. If your parents weren't born in town sometimes, then you were new. He'd tried to get into the big town meeting. He'd been turned away at the door. He wondered if the CBI's clandestine purchase of this bar (although the previous owner never knew it was the CBI buying) had finally paid off.
In a few other towns in western Virginia, similar phone calls were being made to the nearest CBI office.
- 22 October 1977
- Webster compound
- 12:11 PM
The compound was crowded. Everyone who had been at the Eaton compound had come to this one and joined the members who were there already. Then members who spent more time away from the compounds poured in. By now, Harold Pickett was convinced the entire Black Rock membership was here. Brian had been having all the supplies packed since shortly after hearing Skinner was dead. Everything from explosives to ammunition to food was being loaded into a loke or a truck. All the necessary stuff at the Eaton compound had already been packed; now it was time to take care of this one. Harold looked out a window a second toward the site where the Brotherhood's previous Webster compound had been, a mile away. The charred remains were gone; a barrister had bought the place at a CBI auction and rebuilt the house.
It bothered him that he'd never been able to contact Fleming. The CBI man wouldn't know anything was afoot until it was too late.
(Proceed to #287 (Pickett, CNA politics, 24 October 1977): Palace Full of Fantasy.)
(Return to For All Nails.)