Saturday, May 30, 2009

Read this if you want to live!

Okay, the big movie out last week: Terminator Salvation. I have to say, the preview looked great, and I was looking forward to it, but how did it stack up? The answer may surprise you.
I didn’t see it.
Hello, and welcome to the first Realms of Neldak Film Review! I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but I haven’t gotten around to it today.
For this first review, I wanted to do T: S, but as I said, I haven’t seen it. However, I did prepare. Over the last week, I’ve seen all three terminator films, in an attempt to remind myself of every little plot point, and now I’m going to review them, one at a time, giving my personal thoughts on each, followed by a grade. I won’t be giving synopsis; if you want that, read Wikipedia.
So, without further ado, here’s Hrothmeir’s opinion on The Terminator.

The Terminator: I see three major problems with this film. The most obvious problem is the fact that it’s set in the eighties. Everyone has poofy hair, bad clothes, and is just… so darn 80s! It’s sickening! However, it’s supposed to be like that, so I can’t fault it. However, it was also made in the 80’s, so that presents a few problems of its own: The music sounds almost exactly like the music in the video game Dark Forces, and as those of you who have played it know: that’s not a good thing. In the 80s, everything was done using a synthesizer. Now in some movies, this was merely annoying (romantic comedies), while n others, it was mind-numbingly painful (Ladyhawke, any movie not actually set in the 80s). In The Terminator, the music mostly doesn’t work, especially when the movie goes into one of its many ‘running towards the camera in a dark alley’ scenes, when it’s just the music, and no other sound. However, by the end of the end of the film, the music doesn’t seem quite so grating. I’m not sure why, but I think it may have to do with the terror of the cheap stop-motion puppet chasing the protagonists.
Which leads us to the next major problem with the film. The special effects were just awful. No CG. Wow. The worst effects were when Arnold had any skin missing from his face. They would cover him with make-up and prosthetics for the robot parts, and then cover that with what appears to be Mike Myer’s face from Halloween. Luckily, these scenes were few and far between.
The last major problem with this film is the fact that it wasn’t aware of how big it was going to be. Arnold doesn’t get his black leather combat suit until halfway through; the lines “Come with me if you want to live!” and “I’ll be back.” were treated as just regular, throw-away dialogue. There was no momentous feeling when they were uttered. Arnold just didn’t feel like the terminator until the second half, and by then it was too late.
Despite these three problems, the film had a few ups. The scene were Arnold purchases weapons was great, and Rees’s many flash backs to the future helped to build the story and setting. Lastly, Sarah’s line when she kills the Terminator was simply awesome, but will not be reprinted here.
Overall, a clunky film but with promise and some good characters. I recommend it. B+

Come back later this week for the review of T2: Judgment Day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chaos Cometh...

Okay, it's time for an UPDATE!!! After the boredom that was Chapter 6 (I personally hate it, but need it to introduce some plot points) we come to chapter 7, where the book stops being a strange, futuristic paranoia trip and becomes a full fledged sci-fi! This is one of personal favorite parts of the book, and though I've found a few plot-holes in review, I think it will stand up well.
And now, another UPDATE!!! While writing, I make sure to be several chapters ahead of what I publish here. So now, as I publish chapter 7, I am actually writing chapter 15, and the book is now officially over 100,000 words long! That comes out to about 400 pages! And I'm only about 2/3s done with this draft, so the final book should be fairly long. Yay!
Quick note about the picture at the top: That's an art-class pen-and-ink assignment. It's a full-body E.H.U.D. The armor design has changed a bit since this picture was done, but I still think it holds up.
As always, I implore readers to leave feedback. Comments will help to improve the finished book! And everyone who leaves a good comment will be included in the Acknowledgments section of the finished book. So thank you all in advance, and have a good week!
Chapter 7

After the car bombings in Boston, homeland security was drastically stepped up. Cars had to be searched before crossing state lines, airline passengers were only allowed one pound of carryon luggage, and the security of the Twenty-First Annual World Peace Banquet was quadrupled. No one got in without a thorough background check and at least a rudimentary physical search. Members of the Secret Service smiled apologetically as they quickly frisked the president and confiscated his wrist watch. Fortunately, he took it in good humor, and even cracked a few jokes to the news crews that were looking on in stunned silence.
The rest of the guests did not take it so well. For twenty one years, the Banquet, held a week after the American Independence day, a special night when the president met with the leaders of other countries and they all made grandiose speeches about disarmament, diplomatic relations, and feeding the poor, all the while planning to weaken rival nations and stab them in the back. And the security measures made the visiting dignitaries feel like they weren’t trusted. There was a particularly tense moment when the foreign minister of the Free Peoples of China was refused admittance into the White House after a strange metal device was found inside his jacket, and he stormed away, gladly explaining to any reporter he met that it was just a trinket his daughter had made for him on his last birthday, and that America once again seemed to be returning to its imperialist roots.
Edgar saw the Foreign Minister leave, and shook his head. He wished he had such a good excuse to not be there; but as a member of the cabinet, he had gotten through security relatively easy. And now he stood nervously off in one corner of the White House’s grand ballroom, awaiting Mistlethwakey’s little plan to come to fruition, for all hell to break loose.
“What are you doing over here?”
Edgar stiffened, and then forced a smile and turned to see his wife, Amanda, coming towards him.
“I’ve been looking all over for you. I went to get a drink and then you just disappeared.”
Edgar reached out and took the cup of Champaign that his wife brought him. “I was talking with someone, and they had to go find someone else for the conversation, and I went with him-“
Amanda snorted loudly, cutting off Edgar’s sentence. “Having a conversation? You?”
Edgar took a sip and glowered at his wife. “I didn’t get to where I am today without being sociable on at least some level.”
“So what’s the real reason you’re over here?”
Edgar thought for a moment, trying to synthesize the truth into something believable. “I’m a little concerned about further terrorist actions.”
Amanda laughed lightly and then took a long drink. “’concerned about further terrorist action.’ You should have been the President’s spokesperson, not the Secretary of Defense.”
She took another long drink, draining her glass, and then looked off into the ballroom. “People usually mingle and make connections at these events, you know. They don’t stand by the door looking like they may have to leave at any moment.”
“They also don’t…” Edgar fell silent for a moment. “All right, I can’t think of a good response, so we’ll do what you want to do.”
Amanda smiled and grabbed Edgar’s arm, leading him into a knot of people near the center of the room. Within about five minutes, the situation had reverted to its original state; Amanda was talking animatedly with the ambassador from Belgium while Edgar stood sullenly to the side. Occasionally, Amanda would glance up, see her husband looking bored and miserable, and she would sigh. He hated his life, she could tell. She wondered if he hated her. More importantly, she wondered if he had ever loved her. Amanda had first met Edgar when they were in college, she as a bright and bubbly freshman in premed, he as a somber and mysterious senior majoring in economics and social sciences. They met by way of her father, who was a wealthy lawyer and good friend with Edgar’s uncle, an up and coming senator from Oklahoma.
There hadn’t been much chemistry between them then, and on reflection, Amanda realized that there had never been any. But she was tall, blond and beautiful, and Edgar had needed, or thought he needed, a blond and beautiful trophy wife. At first, she had tried to engage with him, to get him to come out of his shell. But Edgar had always remained distant, and Amanda had never wanted to give up hoping that it would get better. Suddenly, in the middle of the Belgian ambassador’s remark about how lucky Edgar was to have someone like her, Amanda realized why Edgar had married her. She was his public face. He had no reason to come out and face reality; he had her smiling sweetly in publicity photos and sitting calmly next to him during television interviews. That was the only reason Edgar had stayed with her, raising their child, providing a comfortable home for them. He had dreams of power, and if he wanted the media’s help with fulfilling those dreams, he needed the illusion of a perfect, well-balanced family life. Other than that, he had no use for her. He didn’t love Amanda. She was just a tool.
And then Amanda realized something else. Edgar was also using their son as a tool, the same way she was being used. Ethan had gotten the best schooling and extracurricular activities that money could buy, but not the love of his father.
Amanda glanced at Edgar. He was staring off into space, or nodding curtly to anyone who dared to start a conversation with him. He would never love her, Amanda thought. It was pointless trying to deny it any longer. She would get a divorce.
The Belgian ambassador said his farewells and walked away to find the restrooms. Amanda was thinking about finding them for herself when she saw a muscular old man weaving his way through the crowds toward her. She smiled; It was General Mistlethwakey the one acquaintance she had made through Edgar whom she actually liked.
Mistlethwakey stopped in front of Amanda and kissed her hand. “Hello, Mrs. Latterndale. And may I say you’re looking wonderful this evening.” He smiled winningly, and Amanda actually blushed.
“Well, thank you for saying so.”
Mistlethwakey grimaced. “I’d love to stay and chat, but I have to admit, I’m on business. You wouldn’t happen to no where your husband is, would you?”
Amanda glanced over her shoulder, but didn’t see Edgar. “Last time I saw him he was-“
“I’m right here.”
“Ah, good. There’s many a thing to discuss, and not much time to do it in.”
“I’d imagine not.”
Mistlethwakey grinned lopsidedly.
It was all Edgar could do to keep from strangling the man. He turned to Amanda. “I need to talk now. Go… mingle, or whatever it is you do. We have more important things to discuss.”
The good mood she had experienced since Mistlethwakey arrived evaporated, and Amanda glared at Edgar. “All right, I think I will.” Without a backwards glance, she stalked off into the crowds.
“All right, what do you want to talk about?”
Mistlethwakey raised an eyebrow. “A bit harsh, don’t you think?”
Edgar sighed. “I really don’t need your advice on my marriage, Bob.”
“I know it’s none of my business, but just snubbing her like that was… Well, you could have chosen a more diplomatic way of saying that.” Mistlethwakey struck a dramatic pose. “’I’m sorry to spoil the evening, dear, but I can’t avoid this. Why don’t you enjoy yourself without me?’ Or even simply, ‘Sorry, but we’ll be discussing classified material; otherwise I’d be happy if you stayed.’”
“This isn’t the nineteen fifties. And who said anything about discussing classified material?”
Mistlethwakey smiled thinly. “I’ve been watching you twitching in the corner all night long.”
Edgar didn’t respond.
“All right, you have some idea of what’ll happen tonight, so I can’t blame you for not being more relaxed.”
“Having the guests strip searched didn’t help my nerves anyway.”
“Oh, did they finally strip someone? I advised against it, but you know Secret Service never listens to the Army.” While Mistlethwakey was talking, he surreptitiously reached down and pulled something out of his pocket. “Here you go; happy World Peace Day.”
He handed the item from his pocket to Edgar. He turned it around a few times, examining it carefully; it appeared to be a glasses case. “What is this?”
“That, my friend, is the most important item on earth. The instructions for the rest of the Plan. Well, the next step, anyway; the location for the last bit is also inside.” Edgar tried opening the case, but Mistlethwakey grabbed his hand. “Don’t.” He stared into Edgar’s eyes for several long moments, and then pulled his hand away. “Don’t try to open it; if you do it too early, it’ll self destruct, and you’ll be stuck not knowing the future.”
Edgar eyed Mistlethwakey warily and slipped the case into his own pocket. “When will I know when the right time is?”
“When I give the world an enemy they can’t forget.”
“And these instructions will tell me how to defeat this enemy?”
Mistlethwakey shrugged. “Or something.”
Edgar glanced around the room, mentally separating the guests from the undercover security personnel. “And will that ultimate enemy be here tonight?”
“Some of it.”
Edgar didn’t understand what that meant, but decided to end the conversation. “Well, let’s hope my uncle doesn’t find out about this.”
“Find out about what?”
Edgar and Mistlethwakey both slowly turned to find President Isaac Latterndale standing directly behind them.
Edgar’s face smoothed over, completely devoid of emotion. It was the face he always showed his uncle, had shown his uncle for more than thirty years. With any luck, the president would react the way he always did when faced by Edgar: get frustrated and leave.
Unfortunately, Mistlethwakey decided to handle the situation differently. He smiled sheepishly and shrugged. “Well, we really wanted to keep it a surprise, but since you’re going to find out anyway, and with your heart in the condition it is, it probably wasn’t a good idea anyway.” He paused, building the tension. “We’re planning a surprise birthday party for you.”
The president frowned and looked from Mistlethwakey to Edgar, then back to Mistlethwakey. It was obvious he was not convinced. “My birthday isn’t for another three months.”
Mistlethwakey chuckled. “I know that, but have you ever tried to clear a surprise party through the Secret Service?”
The president looked at both of them again, clearly suspicious of their story. Edgar tried to smile. Finally, the president grunted and walked away.
As soon as the president was out of earshot, Edgar turned back to Mistlethwakey and hissed, “You’re going to get both of us killed!”
Mistlethwakey just smiled and pointed to a service door along one wall. Edgar abruptly felt the bottom fall out of his stomach. The door opened slightly, and a man’s head emerged. At first, Edgar thought that he was street person, judging from the weather-beaten face and the long matted hair. But then the man came fully through the door, and Edgar was surprised to see a tuxedo. For a moment, he tried to rationalize the man: could he be the ambassador of one of those little countries that kept popping up in central Africa? Then he realized: this man is Mistlethwakey’s tool.
“What’s he going to do?”
Edgar didn’t have to see him to know that Mistlethwakey was smiling. “What do you know about the E.H.U.D. program?”
“Ours or the public’s?”
Edgar thought for a moment. “Oh, ****.”
The tuxedoed man continued walking along the wall, being ignored by everyone he passed. Once, he even bumped into someone, causing her to spill Champaign all over herself, but no one seemed t notice that, not even the now soaking woman. Edgar’s feeling of dread intensified.
At last, the man reached the stage at the front of the room. There were a few technicians making last minute changes to a speaking podium, but they too ignored the man as he climbed up onto the stage and got behind the podium. He looked down at the podium, lifted up the notes that were there, and read them for a while. When he was done, he tossed them aside and pulled a microphone from the hands of a technician who was trying to attach it to the podium. The tuxedoed man tapped on the microphone, sending a deep reverberating sound through the room. No one seemed to notice. The man tilted his head to one side and tapped the microphone again. Every head turned in his direction.
The man cleared his throat and chuckled good-naturedly a few times. Then he slowly raised the microphone to his mouth and spoke in a deep, bone rattling bass. “Hello, and good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m afraid that the speeches are going to start a little early tonight, and there’s been a change to the scheduled speakers. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Merv Lemlin, Private first class of the United States Army. And proud to serve, too, I must say.” Lemlin leaned on the podium, and continued his speech in a much more conversational tone. “Now, according to official records, and you can check this, just like I did, I died in a mine accident in Afghanistan, oh, round ‘bouts sixteen years ago. But as you can plainly see, that’s clearly not true, but really, that’s not important to my story.”
Hearing the name, Edgar suddenly remembered who this man was; he had looked over his personnel file just a few weeks ago. But the file must not have been updated for quite some time. The Lemlin Edgar had seen was clean shaven and much younger. That wasn’t important however. What was important was that Edgar now knew what damage this man could do… or whose careers he could destroy.
His own included.
Mistlethwakey reached out and put a reassuring hand on Edgar’s shoulder. “Relax,” he whispered, “its all part of the plan.”
Merv continued his speech, although he was now walking lazily across the stage. “The reason I’m here, ladies and gentlemen, is to talk a bit about America, and what a fine country it is, yes sir. You see, in America, people is safe from being kidnapped off of the streets, or being taken to slave camps, or being tortured, or experimented on, or being forced to be work for the Government, or just being shot for no good reason. An every one of our presidents, people for the people, by the people, since the beginning, have fought hard to protect our safety.”
Merv paused for dramatic effect; his eyes drifted around the room, meeting the gaze of all the guests, daring them to challenge him.
Edgar desperately hoped that his trust in Mistlethwakey had not been misplaced, that the plan really would benefit him. With all of the involvement Edgar had had in the E.H.U.D. program, Lemlin’s next words could very possibly destroy him.
Lemlin broke the silence. “Except one. President Isaac Latterndale. He’s betrayed America and all she stands for. Now I’m sure that each and every one of you’ve heard about the E.H.U.D. program. A weapons program to outfit soldiers with the latest in defensive and offensive gear to save American lives at home and abroad. Make us all we can be, best of the best. A rather noble goal I must say. But that ain’t all.” Lemlin’s voice suddenly lost all emotion, and he glared at his audience. “No, that ain’t even half of it. That was just to cover costs, to keep it all a secret, to disguise the early benefits of the experiment, to keep the public in the dark. The E.H.U.D. program, the real E.H.U.D. program, took in about a hundred innocent people, people like myself, without our permission, without telling anybody, made it look like we all disappeared, made sure no one asked questions, covered their tracks.”
Edgar felt a thrill of hope as he remembered some of the things that Mistlethwakey had told him all those months ago. The public would find out the truth, but only the truth that Mistlethwakey wanted them to find out. Edgar tried not to smile as he realized that Lemlin had just implicated the President, the one who procured funding and gave approval, and not Edgar, the one nominally in charge of the program, the one who pulled strings and caused pain.
“And then,” Lemlin said, his voice barely more than a whisper, “they changed us. Experimented, trained. Corrupted us into soulless killing machines, the real weapon to insure American superiority.” Lemlin’s tone changed again, becoming light and jocular. “And do you know what the plan was after that, after making us the most dangerous creatures on the face of the earth? Oh, you all will just love this. They were going to sneak us back into civilized society, make it look like we’d never been gone, that our gifts was natural. We wasn’t even human no more, when we got to the end of it, and they expected us to just live normally, until we could be called up to help fix some disaster, so we would be heroes and no one in Washington would lose their jobs. Now don’t that make all of you feel safe?”
Lemlin paused for several long moments, and Edgar wondered why no one was stepping in to stop Lemlin. Edgar tried to take his eyes away from Lemlin’s face, to look for his wife, or see what his uncle was doing, but he found he couldn’t move. Out of the corners of his eyes, he saw other guests, also not moving. Lemlin must be using his… uniqueness… then…
Merv smiled widely. “Well, as much as I like being with you all, I’m afraid I have to go now, so before I go… I’m going to kill the president.”
Lemlin smiled apologetically, then dropped the microphone, pulled a small pistol from his waistband, and aimed at the president.
The moment before Lemlin pulled the trigger seemed to stretch on forever. When closed-circuit security and news footage was later analyzed, it was determined that between Lemlin raising the pistol and when the first shot was fired, there were exactly 3.277 seconds when nothing in the room moved. Then a shot was fired.
As soon as the hammer hit the bullet, Edgar felt a weight lifting from him, and found that he could move again. Over the course of the next few seconds, most of the other patrons found that they too could move again. Panic filled the hall as the guests began to frantically scurry about, hiding under tables, running for exits, or sometimes just fainting. Edgar twisted around, trying to find his uncle, hoping against hope that Lemlin had succeeded in his goal, yet secretly fearing the consequences if he did. Edgar eventually spotted the president, lying on the floor, a bodyguard perched over him, another bodyguard dead at his feet. Several more shots were fired, and Edgar watched as the president’s body guard jerked several times, and then slumped down onto his charge.
While Lemlin was emptying his magazine, several other bodyguards, several of whom were undercover, reached inside their jackets and produced pistols of their own. The hall was filled with the sound of screams and shots, and Edgar closed his eyes to block out the glare of the discharges.
When the sound of gunfire stopped, Edgar opened his eyes, blinked repeatedly, and looked up to the podium. Lemlin stood there, his lips pulled back in a ghastly smile. In front of him, spread out in a hemisphere, floated three hundred tiny, glinting bullets. Edgar blinked again, refusing to believe what he was seeing, even though he knew what Lemlin was capable of.
The vast room became silent almost immediately. Everyone stared in fascinated horror at Lemlin, who was now laughing. The bullets hovering in front of him started to rotate, forming a swirling vortex of metal that slowly drew itself inward. Soon, one bullet touched another. They pushed up against each other, neither giving up space, until they both glowed and then, slowly at first and then faster as more bullets joined, fused into one another, the individual bullets disappearing into a massive sphere of lead. The sphere continued to spin, but rotated, changing its axis from horizontal to vertical.
While the rest of the guests stared raptly at the sphere, Edgar edged closer to a nearby table, and then carefully ducked underneath it. He found Mistlethwakey already under the table, his phone pulled out and his thumb poised over the outgoing call button. Mistlethwakey smiled good-naturedly and gestured up at Lemlin.
Edgar returned his attention to the sphere, which continued to spin. And then, faster than the human eye could see, the sphere exploded into thousands of tiny shards, which flew out into the crowded hall, miraculously missing the guests and only shredding their way through those men and women who had given the metal to Lemlin in the first place.
Screams of panic erupted, and then were cut short by fits of coughing as tear gas filled the room. Doors along the walls burst open and a flood of heavily armed soldiers burst in and opened fire on Lemlin. Lemlin continued to laugh, as the bullets approached him and then changed course, flying wildly into the crowd of guests. Several burly soldiers rushed towards the stage, intent on capturing Lemlin, but as soon as they got within a yew yards of Lemlin, they were jerked from the ground and flung through the air, some bouncing off of the floor, most making it to the back of the room, where they were smashed against the wall.
Mistlethwakey glanced quickly at Edgar, and then returned his attention to the room. “Don’t worry, the E.H.U.D.s are almost in position, and I’ve got some bringing in Scramblers.”
That didn’t reassure Edgar. “I thought you said the Scramblers don’t always work!”
“They don’t. But Lemlin doesn’t know that.”
“What is that supposed to-“ A thick cloud of gas swept under the table, and Edgar had to stop to clear his lungs.
The soldiers had apparently realized that stopping Lemlin was going to prove impossible, so they started to help guests from the banquet hall. Still laughing, Lemlin would pick off soldiers one by one, sometimes causing their heads to abruptly spin around, or to burst into showers of blood, or to combust. Edgar saw one soldier herding his wife towards a door, and then saw the soldier’s head snap backwards and emit a stream of blood from the gaping hole that had just been torn in the man’s neck. Amanda screamed and tried to pull away from the soldier’s death-grip on her arm. Another soldier was crawling along the floor, holding a table cloth over someone who was crawling with him. Edgar recognized the foot sticking out from one end of the tablecloth; it was his uncle. In a few more moments, the president had made it out of the room.
The doors along the wall burst open again, and this time twenty armor-clad E.H.U.D.s marched into the room. They ran towards the podium and formed a semi circle around it, guns held at the ready. One of them, at the far end of the semi-circle, held a small squat cylinder with glowing rings going up the side. The man twisted the handle at the top of the cylinder, and then pushed it down into the body of the cylinder. The glowing rings flashed red, and the cylinder emitted a high-pitched buzzing sound. Lemlin jerked spastically, dropped the soldier he was currently levitating, and then sank to the floor, shrieking and begging the E.H.U.D.s to stop the sound.
One of the E.H.U.D.s dropped his assault rifle, pulled a pistol from his belt, and approached Lemlin. Lemlin stared up the armored figure, blood oozing slowly from his nose, and asked, his voice quavering, “Please… Just stop the sound… Stop…”
The E.H.U.D. bent forward, placed the pistol against Lemlin’s head, and pulled the trigger. Lemlin fell back on the stage, a smile frozen on his mouth.
Mistlethwakey pushed his way out from under his table. As one, the E.H.U.D.s turned to look at him. He gestured to the one with the cylinder and made a gesture. The E.H.U.D. nodded once, and then hurried from the room. Mistlethwakey leapt up onto the stage, dismissed the man who had killed Lemlin, and then stared down at the corpse.
He was joined a moment later by Edgar. “What the **** was all that?”
Mistlethwakey didn’t look up. “That was the plan.”
“My uncle survived.”
“I know.”
Edgar gestured expansively at the room, but kept his voice at a whisper. “Then what was all this for?!”
“This was to scare the public, to give them something to fear. The real thing starts in about an hour, when a file that Lemlin mailed here three days ago is discovered, containing certain documents proving that what he said about the program was true, and that the president was partially responsible for its creation, and wholly responsible for its continuance.”
Edgar snorted and than walked out into the room, picked up a chair, and sat down amidst the carnage.
Over the next hour, paramedics came through the room and escorted the remaining guests to a portable clinic on the White House lawn. All 137 surviving guests were check; thirty-two were sent to area hospitals. Of those, seventeen died. Forty-three bodyguards and soldiers died, and twelve more were seriously injured.
While Edgar was having a small gash on his forehead bandaged, he saw Merv Lemlin being carried out of the banquet hall on a stretcher, a thin sheet covering most of his body. Amanda came in then, wearing a bathrobe, with some blood still caked into crevices on her face. Her hair was lank and wet; Edgar assumed she had had an emergency shower. She walked up to the stretcher that Edgar was sitting on and leaned against him. He looked closely at her; her eyes were wide and empty. This was her first real experience with death. Her father had died peacefully in bed, and her grandparents had died in a plane crash in the middle of the pacific. And now here she was, covered in the life-fluids of a man she didn’t know, who had tried to save her life. Edgar tentatively reached out and patted her shoulder.
“Please,” the paramedic said, “don’t move.”
“Why?” asked Amanda.
“Because I’m trying to seal his-“
“Why do things like this happen? What was the point? He just… He just exploded, and he was over… When will I be over?”
Edgar glanced at the paramedic, who shrugged as if to say, I don’t know her; you deal with it.
Edgar looked back at Amanda, who was staring blankly at the wall of the tent. “What happened had to happen.”
Amanda turned to Edgar; she seemed surprised, like she hadn’t known he was there. She stared at him for several long seconds, and then shook her head. “You don’t love me. You never have.” She stood upright and wandered out of the tent.
A moment later the paramedic announced, “All right you’re done.”
Edgar hopped off the stretcher and waked out onto the lawn. Amanda was nowhere to be seen. She was probably looking for a phone so she could call her mother. She always did that when she was upset. Edgar headed off in the direction of the valet parking pick-up when his own phone rang.
“Mr. Latterndale?” It was his secretary. “The president’s called an emergency meeting. He expects you there in ten minuets.”
“Will do.” Edgar hung up and looked at the west wing of the White House. He had a pretty good idea about why the meeting was being called. “It’s begun.”

Isaac Latterndale leaned against the cabinet table. The other members of the cabinet looked between themselves nervously. Some were worried about another assassination attempt; most were worried about what the president would do. He was usually well dressed and composed; tonight, his sleeves were rolled up to the elbow and he was sweating heavily.
The president slammed a fist down on the table, making everyone jump. “Someone managed to find this son of a ***** and reverse his conditioning! I want to know who, how, when, where, and will they ever pull **** like this again! Meantime, Eli, you find some plausible story to tell the press, tell them a it was a terrorist act, something!”
Rosencrantz tried to say something, but the president talked over him. “I don’t care what! You’re my spin doctor! Spin!”
Rosencrantz looked questioningly at Julia Telk, and after receiving a nod from her, began scribbling furiously in a notebook.
“Isaac,” Julia said.
The president whirled around and glared at Julia. “What?” he growled.
“It makes no difference what Eli says. CNN had a camera in there, and they already have everything out.”
“What?” This time, the president’s voice was a horrified whisper.
“If a mad gunman got his way through security, ranted a bit, and then shot at you, that would be a minor scandal. It might even boost your popularity ratings. But when a man accuses you of genetic tampering and then turns into Superman, and it’s caught on film, then you have a problem.”
Just then, Attorney General Evan Peters walked into the room. He circled around to his seat and sat down. “It’s worse than that. Security found a package that arrived from Lemlin yesterday.” He looked up gravely at the president. “It has spending records, copies of presidential orders, details of some of the experiments performed, and a partial list of the subjects, among other documents. I just came from an emergency Senate meeting. I hate to tell you this, Isaac, but the stuff checks out, and now you’re being impeached.”
The president’s face turned bright red. “WHAT?!” He slammed a fist down on the table again, and this time there was the crack of a breaking bone. “What about everyone else?! Are they listed?! All I did was approve it! Edgar was in charge! Bob actually did the ******* thing! I’m the worst target to get back at!”
The attorney general shrugged. “It’s just you.”
The president straightened and pointed threateningly at Peters. “Don’t think I won’t name names, I know what you did in all this!”
Peters raised his hands in a non-threatening gesture. “Isaac, please, I don’t want to push this thing, there’re too many hands in the pie and no one wants to get dirty; I’ll tie it up best I can, find a reason to dismiss the evidence. Meanwhile, you have bigger problems to deal with. Every human rights group or religious society will want your balls on a plate. Not to mention the boys down at Los Alamos trying to find out what was going on. The best you can do is reemphasize that you were almost killed, and play the ‘stupid president with evil advisors’ card.”
“You’re one of my advisors.”
Julia caught on and gestured around the room. “Who’s not here? Edgar. That’s all. Who has the most to lose if the E.H.U.D.s come back?”
Slowly, Latterndale sat down. “Question: Does Lemlin’s package have any sort of timetable?”
Peters nodded.
“So Edgar just retired from the Marines and was in the private sector, running for state senator. We can’t really blame him.”
“Bring in the previous administration. You just kept on a pet project, which you were led to believe had only the public components,” Rosencrantz suggested.
“No,” Julia said. “Pitney was too popular. Plus, the simple fact that Isaac pushed for more than two terms already makes us look suspicious. Like we were keeping on top of a long-term project.”
The president laughed as the obvious answer presented itself. “Mistlethwakey. It was his baby to begin with.”
Peters nodded. “Of course. It all makes sense.” His voice turned sour. “That’s why he got himself E.H.U.D. level clearance.”
The president shrugged. “Take it away.”
“Bob isn’t stupid. I’ve checked over the proposal, which he wrote; there’s no way to remove his authority without declaring yourself dictator and publicly executing him.”
“You always use such wonderful descriptions.”
The room fell silent as everyone contemplated scenarios and ideas. “So what do we do?” Rosencrantz finally asked.
The president smiled. “Mistlethwakey, having wormed his way into considerable power and getting the Pitney administration to approve his program, forced us to stay on as a puppet government so that he could continue unnoticed. Things went bad; one of the subjects recovered his memory, found my name on a funding bill and decided to get revenge from the top. We’re all victims, too. Due to his legal status, Mistlethwakey could’ve killed us if we didn’t comply. Simple enough.”
“Except, if he had all these powers you attribute to him, he’d never let this statement get out.” Everyone turned to see Edgar standing in the door.
“So you agree with me?” The president raised an eyebrow?
“Mistlethwakey was trapped under a table while you were being spirited out to safety,” Edgar sneered.
“I’m the president, and he’s a Ranger!”
“Mistlethwakey was also the one who called the E.H.U.D.s. So before you hand him to the wolves, think about who saved your life.” Edgar turned and left.
“Or,” Peters said, “Make sure it wasn’t the wolf that saved your life.”
The president sighed. “It’s late, I’m happy to be alive, and I can’t think of a way out of this without letting heads role. So I don’t even care anymore.” The president stood up, pulled his coat off of the back of his chair, and walked towards the door. “Eli, I leave this all to you. Come up with something by tomorrow.”
With that, the president was gone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Apology Time...

Okay, I have to apologize for that last chapter. I just got around to reading out loud with my Home Focus Group, and I know it's just a draft, but... Man, it's bad. Just... bad. Several plot holes, stiff writing... I apologize to anyone who had to read that. Hopefully Chapter 7 (up later this week) is better... Brief aside: I know there are occasionally some random-seeming words here and there, and those really are typos, its just that they also happen to be legitimate words, and the computer doesn't catch them. But hey, that's what the 5th draft is for:) So anyway, sorry all...