Thursday, May 6, 2010
Okay, as promised, the new E.H.U.D. Super Synopsis! The entire book, laid out in one easy refernce sheet, so I actually know what the heck is happening as I write! Please note, there are spoilers ahead, so read with caution. Also, there may be a few vaugenesses and internal inconsistencies but hey, I wrote this for me, not you, so just deal with it.
Now for teh updates... I'm going on a missions trip today! Woot! More when I get back.
And of course the picture above is a continuation of that super tutorial I mentioned: THe modeling is done! Yay!!!!!
As always, please comment. Kthnxbye...
Prelude to Apocalypse
By Hez Bennetts
30 Years From Now
Part I: Resurrection
John Donalson awakens in a hospital. He’s not sure how he got there, because the last thing he remembers is going to sleep. But his body is withered and his family, who are there when he awakens, are much older. A councilor comes in and explains that he was injured in a car accident with a military officer, their identities were switched, and he has been in Walter Reed, in a coma, for the last ten years. After coming out a bit from the coma, they found out his true identity, and contacted his family. All the while, he hears a strange humming noise around him.
While recuperating and learning about the last decade’s events (controversial president, war), he is visited by the Secretary of Defense and a general. They apologize for the interruption in John’s life and promise to make reparations in the form of a paid apartment at Sky Crest Towers and a job at Cohen & Associates, a premier architecture firm. Sometime after they leave, John’s brother, Reggie, visits from Philadelphia with his daughter, Rachel. John tries to get to know her, but she’s distant. After a few more days, John is ready, with doctor’s orders to exercise more, to head to his knew home in Philadelphia. Just as they are heading to the car, an explosion rocks them, but the hospital staff tells them not to worry.
In the White House, the president is heading to his daily staff meeting. He gets a little lost due to the internal changes to the white House, but eventually makes it to the cabinet room. There, he asks his press secretary about the explosion felt earlier in the day. The PS says that it was a gas main blowing in the Metro, the sign of an aging system that needs to be replaced. The president sends him out to spread the word on this, then asks his secretary of defense the same question. The secretary says that it was a member of a top secret government super-soldier operation that killed herself in explosive self-defense. The president is concerned by this, as the soldiers were not supposed to be active yet. He sends the SecDef to talk to the head general about this.
The secDef goes to the Pentagon, gets slightly lost, and is interrupted by a phone call from his wife. He is late to his son’s music recital. He says he’s busy, and heads off once more into the maze. He finds the general who reveals that the self-destruction of the super-soldier, while not specifically known about, was anticipated, and that the soldiers will discover what happens to them and likely rebel. He says it is all a plan to bring about lasting world peace. The SecDef is horrified at this, and says he will take this info to the president, but the general, Mistlethwakey, promises the SecDef, Edgar, that if keeps helps him in his plan to subvert the program, and bring about world peace, within three months the president, Edgar’s uncle, will be dead, and Edgar will be president. Edgar is wary about this, but promises to keep silent for three months.
Now in Philadelphia, Reggie takes John to Sky Crest, gets him settled in, and takes him to their parent’s house for Sabbath dinner. While there, Rachel’s boyfriend shows up, and Reggie gets mad. During conversation, John finds out that he had a fiancé, Lucy, but can’t remember anything about her. Intrigued by this, he resolves to call her as soon as he is healthy enough to drive on his own. In a few days, after exercising a lot to build up his desiccated body at the apartment gym, he calls her, she is stunned that he is alive, and invites him to her house. At her house, they talk, and it is obvious that she still loves him, but he has no feelings for her, as he doesn’t know her. Oddly enough, he keeps getting flashes of a woman at the edge of his awareness.
In the middle of their conversation, a man arrives, revealed to be Lucy’s new fiancée, Shaun. He is mistrustful of John, And John soon leaves, parting by saying that he won’t interfere in their lives, and he’s sorry he has. Unbeknownst to him, Shaun tells Lucy his misgivings about John, and asks that she not try to contact him again. Lucy is confused by all this, and doesn’t know if she should stick with Shaun or go back to John…
As John is feeling ambulatory, John goes to work at Cohen and associates. He meets with his old college roommate, Walter Schmendrik, who’s an architect there. Walter shows him around, then sets him up with his first project, working on a museum. Before getting started, John decides to familiarize himself with Cohen, and looks through files of old projects. One is a military bunker near Tulsa. A bit weird. Next he finds Sky Crest, and finds out that an electrician died in his apartment, and that before that the electrician was involved in a freak accident in a sub basement. John plays around with the Sky Crest building files a bit, then gets to work. Later that day, he goes into the sub basement and looks around, and is caught in a freak electrical storm, where he experiences a vision of a man getting caught in a beam of light and becoming a monster. Then the vision shifts to him and a woman in a weird dark plain, and then a man, calling himself Allen, coming to them and offering them world peace, but then John becoming overwhelmed by horde of stomping behemoths. He comes out of this vision and finds himself in his apartment, groggy and confused.
Edgar is at home with his wife, Amanda, getting ready to attend a white house banquet. Their son is not happy about being abandoned for the night, and Edgar snaps at him. Amanda is not happy about this, and begins questioning her marriage.
When they get to the banquet, Edgar is approached by Mistlethwakey, and they talk for a while. Edgar says he wants no part of the plan, and that he’s going to rat out Mistlethwakey, but Mistlethwakey tells him it’s too late. At that point a homeless man, Merv, unnoticed by the guests, enters the White House, makes a brief speech about how he’s the result of an illegal government experiment, and proceeds to unleash psychic powers upon all present, in an attempt to kill the president. Traditional security attempts to stop Merv are useless. After a brief consultation between Edgar, the president, and Mistlethwakey, three plans are created: Starve him out of his powers, bring in heavier artillery, or use Scramblers to neutralize his powers. The president knows that if he uses the scramblers, there will be questions of his compliance with Merv’s accusations, but he has no choice. Merv is killed, and Edgar leaves the White House to find his wife in an emergency clinic on the lawn. She wants to go home and see their son immediately, but Edgar is called to an emergency cabinet meeting. Having to decide between work and family, he chooses to go to the meeting, and Amanda is forced to go home alone.
In the cabinet meeting, the president is more than a bit disturbed and angry at Mistlethwakey, who sidesteps the issue by pointing out how unstable the E.H.U.D.s are. While they’re still working on damage control, it is revealed that Merv sent detailed information on his accusations to several important people, and that copies of official documents are included therein. The president is now on the verge of Impeachment. Edgar considers reveling Mistlethwakey right then and there, but decides to do nothing.
John is at his office, continuing work on the Hemmermim building project. As he works, he wonders if there are any updates on the shocking assassination attempt that happened the previous night. When he is done with the project, he checks for updates, but there are none. So he opens the Sky Crest file, which he has been playing around with and built part of a city. Walter comes in and comments on the city, then says that the White House has made a statement. They go online and see the statement and the accompanying video, then discuss the implications of it. The statement mentions that the scramblers were a previously unused sonic weapon design, that they thought could incapacitate Merv. Its lunch time, so John decides to go out.
Outside the building, he is accosted by a bag lady, Cyd, who claims to know him, and who claims they were both E.H.U.D.s. This is interrupted by the arrival of another woman, Naomi, who was the wife of the officer who died in John’s accident, and she thought John was her husband for the ten years of his coma. They talk, and decide to go out for lunch.
While eating, they are joined by Lucy and Shaun. Naomi and Shaun seem to know each other, and are both mistrustful. While they eat, they hear a news report, anchored by new anchorwoman Maria Tumpuelo, about a violent riot in the capitol brought on by Merv’s accusations. Men in armor are brought in to stop the rioters, and John thinks they look familiar. Shaun explains they are soldiers wearing E.H.U.D. armor, anti-terrorism troops, stationed in every major city, and that he is one for Philadelphia. Naomi excuses herself and leaves, and Shaun gets a phone call from the hud head in Philly, leaving John and Lucy alone. Lucy confides that she still loves John, kisses him, and leaves. Unbeknownst to them, Shaun sees this.
A few weeks later, John goes to have dinner at his parent’s house. He talks about running into a demonstration in the streets of Philly, and his family discuss the impeachment process and all of the bad things going on: riots, protests, Latterndale being impeached. Also, the Vice President has resigned, and Terstein is pushing for governmental overhaul; if the administration does nothing to account for the actions involved in the E.H.U.D. scandal, he and several other senators will pull out, and urge their constituents and militia to fight the Union. And of course, there is the fact that the president has the scramblers. John gets to know Rachel, and realizes she is interested in politics. Reggie brings up belief that John may be an E.H.U.D. After an argument, John leaves.
The president is in the white House, having just finished consultation with his advisors. He’s going to bed when suddenly Mistlethwakey arrives, telling him he has information regarding the issues with the E.H.U.D. program. The president stays to listen, and Mistlethwakey shoots him, then walks out without anyone noticing or caring.
The next day, Edgar is at his son’s music recital, and is not liking it. Then, a motorcade arrives, and takes him away just as his son is about to perform. He is taken to a hidden location in Maryland, and is sworn into office as the new president, because others are disqualified, dead, resigned, or otherwise incapable of assuming the office.
Edgar realizes that it has been exactly three months since his first meeting with Mistlethwakey. Then Mistlethwakey arrives, claiming that Edgar called him and set him up as interim Secretary of Defense. He suggests that Edgar be open and honest with the American people about the E.H.U.D. situation, but the other cabinet members are nervous about this, as they were all involved in the program. Mistlethwakey then reveals that the Vice President came forward with more details on the program, and lists of personnel involved, which didn’t list the cabinet members. Edgar decides to come forward with the information, and prepares a speech.
John and his coworkers are having lunch in the break room and discussing the impact Merv and The E.H.U.D.s will have on the economy. At the same time, one of them, an intern, believes that the huds are a sign of the apocalypse.
They are interrupted by a news report about an emergency speech from the president. Edgar comes on, explains who he is, what’s going on, and then goes into details of E.H.U.D. plot: fifty civilians, made to disappear in such a way that no one would come looking for them but that they could come back, were genetically modified and trained as soldiers, then somehow had their memories of the event released and were released into the world. They would also have a compulsion to join the military at some point, at which time their latent abilities would be discovered, and they would use their abilities for American supremacy, all with no ties back to the government in terms of experimentation. Edgar promises that if the E.H.U.D.s come forward, or are identified in some way, they would be taken into protective custody, but would be allowed freedom and would not be prisoners. If you suspect an E.H.U.D., please call.
After this speech, D.C. correspondent Maria Tumpuelo reveals that she is an E.H.U.D., that she killed the last president, and she urges everyone to rise up against the government. Soldiers then come and arrest her.
Some of John’s coworkers suspect him of being an E.H.U.D., but he denies this.
Edgar’s handlers want to take him someplace secret, but he insists on the White House. They compromise by settling on Camp Eglon, a semi-secret facility in southern Pennsylvania. He and his family are taken there, and despite the chaos in the country and his uncle’s (Maybe second cousin’s) death, he celebrates.
Later that night, he gets to thinking, suspects he may be being used by Mistlethwakey, and goes walking. He notices that no one seems to be moving, everyone is frozen, and he sees a strange light coming from one room. He investigates, and finds a ghost light, and a room filled with ghosts. Mistlethwakey is there, and he does something to Edgar, who begins to hear a buzzing sound, and is attacked by the ghosts. He then bursts into flame, and in the morning is found by his wife and security, naked and new, younger and stronger. The staff Physician, Dr. Frease, is called in, and he declares Edgar to be physically around twenty-five ish. Amanda is very concerned about all of this, but Edgar blows it off, and Amanda begins to plan a divorce, thinking to only stay until the next election.
John is back for another Saturday night dinner with his family. They discuss more politics, and about how the E.H.U.D.s are affecting society. Rachel talks about the post-ehud government she created for school, and they all point out issues with it. Dinner is interrupted by Lucy calling and telling John she is concerned For Shaun’s safety, as he’s a law officer. John tries to comfort her, but eventually gives up.
Part II: Entropy
John is working out in the Sky Crest fitness center, as he is want to do, and Mistlethwakey shows up. John finds out that not only does Mistlethwakey live in Sky Crest, he owns it. As they jog on treadmills, they get to know each other better, and strike up a friendship. The next day, this continues, and Mistlethwakey shares his Roaring Mouse hypothesis. As they talk about the possibility of an internal war, precipitated by Terstein, John mentions Rachel’s government plan. Mistlethwakey finds it interesting, and says that they can discuss it more when he returns from Washington next week; he has important business there. But, he says, he will be back for Thanksgiving, as he always spends major holidays at home, as a memento to his dead wife.
Mistlethwakey is in Washington, going deep inside the Pentagon, apparently on business from the president. He eventually arrives at a special, Scrambler lined cell containing Maria. She is slightly out of her mind, but she sees Mistlethwakey. He tells her that he wants Edgar dead, and that he will release her, equip her, and tell her the president’s location, as long as she will kill him. Maria is of course distrustful, but Mistlethwakey convinces her that this is part of his master-plan to become president. She promises to kill him as she knows that he was the head of the E.H.U.D. program, and in fact remembers him from her time there, but he convinces her to wait until the president is dead. He then heads back to Philadelphia, taking her with him. As in the white house, no one seems to notice.
The next day, thanksgiving, at Camp Eglon, the president and his wife are having a fight. Amanda wants their son, Ethan, to join them for dinner, but Edgar insists that this is a state dinner, and that Ethan isn’t welcome. Amanda finally explodes and says that she wants a divorce. Edgar tells her that he never really loved her and that he only married her for political gain. He also says that if she leaves him now, he will use every power at his disposal to make sure she never sees Ethan again. Amanda Agrees to stay, but only if Edgar explain why he hasn’t learned to love her over the years. He agrees.
Later, as they are having dinner, he rises to give a toast, and suddenly starts to choke. This goes on for about two minutes, as no effort to clear his airways seems to work. Finally, Edgar gives some kind of push, which sends a literal tremor through the room and clears his airway. He starts yelling that Maria is there, somewhere, and to find her. As security heads out on the hunt, he jumps up and gives pursuit, eventually finding Maria and killing her with his bare bands.
The guests are suitably shocked by this, and security insists that the first family be moved to an even more secure location in Oklahoma. Amanda refuses to go, and in a show of decency, Edgar allows Ethan to stay with Amanda. He also tells her why he despises her: that she will die for a cause, but that he will kill for a cause. He then leaves via helicopter, and Mistlethwakey, via phone, says that Amanda and son can stay in Sky Crest.
John is on the treadmill yet again, wondering why Mistlethwakey isn’t there. He suspects it may have something to do with the rumors that Maria has somehow escaped. His cell rings, and he finds a message forwarded from his home system from the front desk, saying there is a young woman there to see him. He goes downstairs and finds Rachel, who wants to talk with him.
They return to his home, and she informs him that her boyfriend, Wayne, has gotten her pregnant. Wayne wants an abortion, but Rachel isn’t so sure about that and turns to her uncle for advice. He suggests they speak to her father, but she becomes distressed, and reveals that she’s been having problems at home and doesn’t really trust her father. After some discussion, John agrees to let her stay the night, and in the morning, he’ll take her home and help her explain the situation to Reggie.
While he’s sleeping that night, John has a vision of nuclear fire descending from the sky and engulfing them all. The woman from his earlier dreams, and the man called Allen, arrive and tell him that he must take Rachel to a safe place, to where the president is in Oklahoma. John argues that the president is in Pennsylvania, but the ghosts are unmoved. When John wakes up in the morning, he is suitably disturbed, not just by the dream, but by the looming threat of violence from Terstein and also the ‘hud riots that have broken out. He offers Rachel five thousand dollars and a ticket to wherever she wants to go. She’s intrigued by the offer, but would rather face her father than the unknown.
They reach Rachel’s house, and speak to Reggie, is quite upset at Rachel’s nightly absence. When he finds out she is pregnant, he kicks her out of the house, and she gets mad at John and runs away. The two ghosts continue to reprimand John for failing to save Rachel.
Later that day, Rachel goes to her mother’s house, but her mother’s drunk boyfriend answers the door, and Rachel leaves. She then goes to her best friend’s house and stays the night. She tells her friend about John’s offer, and her friend suggests she takes it. Rachel is about to head out early the next morning to head to Sky Crest and ask for a second chance when Wayne arrives and tries to win her back. Rachel almost goes with him, but then decides that she needs to get away from him, and continues with her plan.
When she gets to Sky Crest, Mistlethwakey stops her in the foyer. She of course recognizes him from television, and she speaks to him. He tells her that he will give her ten thousand dollars and a ticket to Tulsa, but she has to work to start a primitive version of the civilization she mentioned previously. Rachel thinks he’s a bit on the crazy side, but Mistlethwakey tells her that the world is about to end and that her civilization can survive. She still doesn’t believe him, so he tells her that as a sign, within a week Terstein’s promised civil war will start, and that John will be held responsible.
Rachel is still a little unsure, but decides to take the money and run.
John is at work, having finished the design of his modified Sky Crest/tower/huge city of doom. Just as he finishes, Lucy calls him and talks for a bit. Near the end of the conversation, she indicates that they should go and meet somewhere, but John ends the relationship. He tells her that he has no memory of her, that in his mind she never existed and that in her mind he should still be dead, so she should stick with Shaun and leave him be.
After the call, John goes to talk with Walter. Walter is having car trouble, and wonders if John can give him a ride home, as most public transportation services have ceased running due to the current crisis. John agrees, and they head out together. In John’s car, they are starting down the street, when Cyd the bag lady jumps on his car, ranting crazy rants. John gets out and tries to talk her down, but she keeps ranting. Finally, in a fit of anger, John causes Cyd to fly backwards off the hood of the car, without touching her. John is suitably disturbed by this, forces Walter out of the car, and drives home alone.
When he gets home, he naps, and is wakened from the nap by the arrival of a squad of federal agents, led by erstwhile 3rd draft hero Frank Norgent. They explain to John that they suspect him of being an E.H.U.D., and if he proves to be so, they are going to transport him to a relocation camp in Minnesota, or somewhere nice. To test him, they have a small device, which they turn on. John hears a horrible, painful vibrator thing, which causes him to cringe, and interrupts the constant humming he always hears around him. This proves he is an E.H.U.D., and he is given twenty minutes to pack a few belongings, and then is escorted to the helicopter pad on the far end of the roof of the attached mall (I really need to get drawings of all this…)
Once John reaches the chopper, he recognizes Shaun in hud armor and suddenly has a bunch of memories flood in. The humming around him gets stronger, and he runs. The soldiers turn on scramblers, but are two late. John begins running through Philadelphia, trying to get away from the perusing huds and choppers. He discovers he can run at speeds up to sixty MPH, can leap incredible distances, and can even refocus his eyes so he doesn’t need glasses, although he keeps them for safety reasons. As he runs, he has a flashback of running in a dark room, of a woman who is beaten if he doesn’t run fast enough; he is beaten if she isn’t fast enough, etc. He also gets flashes of training and military tactics. At some point, he crashes into a Starbucks, quickly downs some energy, and sprints off to attack his pursuers directly. He manages to kill several and crashes a chopper into a building. At this point, he comes in range of the scramblers and is rendered powerless. He is being taken into custody by Shaun, when he gets another flashback of the man called Allen telling him there are ways to bypass the scramblers. At this point, the helicopter is burning, and the roof begins to cave.
John suddenly manifests powers again, despite the scramblers, and kills most of the huds, sparing Shaun. Unfortunately, he is weakening from the lack of usable calories, and can’t escape when the roof collapses further.
While John and Shaun are falling down inside the burning building, John unleashes everything he has at Shaun, and finds himself inside Shaun’s mind. He looks around at some memories, and wonders if it would be possible to take over Shaun’s body. He is just about to when he realizes he would have no powers. He pulls his mind back, but faints. Just as he is about to slip into the inferno, some unseen force levitates him and Shaun away…
The president is in his bunker in Oklahoma when he gets word that there has been an outbreak of E.H.U.D. activity in Philadelphia, and that Terstein, seeing that the administration has done nothing to address the E.H.U.D. program, has declared war on the United states. Unfortunately, international opinion sides with Terstein. Mistlethwakey, via video conference, urges the president to declare martial law in Philadelphia, using the Mall at Sky Crest as a headquarters. Reluctantly, the president agrees, and then orders that Terstein be arrested and the country locked down.
Rachel is in Tulsa. She’s managed to rent a room with a woman named Abigail and has convinced her that at least Terstein will start off a series of riots, and that the ten thousand dollars should be used to purchase supplies. Abigail and Rachel are going on another supply run when war is declared, and there is a run on the store. Violence breaks out over the lack of supplies, and the two women return home. Rachel then goes door to door around the block, and convinces several people to join her in stockpiling their goods, weapons, and other resources. A few of the houses on either side of Abigail’s join, and Rachel convinces her followers to all move in together in this fortifiable position. Later that night, a group of drunken men go around shooting, looting, and generally causing a disturbance. Police fail to respond, so Rachel’s little militia steps in and forces peace.
Part III: E.H.U.D.
John wakes up in a residential room, unsure of where he is, lacking nearly all body mass and being fairly well crisped. He fades in and out of consciousness, flashing back on waking up in a big room filled with naked people, and the fear he felt there. He wakes up again as someone feeds him, but he doesn’t have his glasses, and can’t summon the energy to focus his eyes. Cue flashback of being starved, and then of being fed a little. As this flashback continues, he sees the man who identified himself as Allen sitting in the huge room, talking to and comforting a group of people. John decides that he can help out, and goes to sit with a group of people and comfort them. Among the group is the woman he’s been having visions of: Suzanne. John wakes up again and sees Suzanne there. He asks if she is alive; she tells him no, and says that he knows how she died. He then has another flashback, this time of being strapped in a chair facing her, each of them with a button that will kill the other. John finally breaks and kills her. He wakes up crying… Also in his flashbacks are Naomi, Merv, Maria, Cyd, and Edgar’s Dr. Frease.
Lucy is visiting a hospital, in which Shaun, heavily burned and guarded, lies dying. He has asked to see her and, despite the dangers of going outside, she has come to fulfil his request. When they are alone, he reveals that he was a part of the E.H.U.D. program, one of the guards, and that he knew John. He also reveals that while on leave from the program, he came to Philadelphia for the express purpose of finding Lucy, just to torment John. However, once he met her, he began to fall in love with her, and decided that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. To this end, he asks the overseers to erase any memory of Lucy from John’s mind, which they do, explaining why John doesn’t remember her. Shaun asks Lucy for forgiveness for this.
As a response, Lucy gags Shaun, pulls him onto the floor where he is unable to call for a nurse, and locks the door. She then retrieves a used syringe from the biohazard can, and injects a full load of air into her carotid artery, and dies in front of Shaun, who is powerless to respond.
Back in his room, John is still hallucinating. He sees his body, how frail it is, remembers when it first began to be like this, when he, and the rest of the E.H.U.D.s were being trained by an older man, also with psychic powers, in how to levitate things, reach inside people, manipulate their bodies, control their minds. He remembered Allen discovering the possibility of Telekinesis, spreading amongst the E.H.U.D.s the idea of the Q-bomb doctrine. Then he goes back further, remembering how they became E.H.U.D.s, sitting in a medical room, strapped to beds, after having killed their partners, being infected with a transformative virus. He comes out of the flashback a little, hears a dog barking somewhere, remembers training with dogs, learning advanced healing by being torn apart and having to heal themselves. (insert flashback here). This then leads to combat training memories, and then to the suit, and all it entailed…
This time, John wakes up a little more lucidly, and hears news reports on TV talking about the war. It seems gang warfare has erupted in LA, students at Berkeley have become violent, gang warfare in south Texas is going badly, various militias all over the country have seized small towns, and the national guard is out in force to keep everyone in check. John then remembers his own time in war, fighting in Gaza and the West bank, various memories and brief descriptions of battles then follow. Eventually, the Huds are recalled from the war and brought back to their main base, where Allen declare that it is time to strike back and become the Q-bomb. However, General Mistlethwakey, the project overseer who has just arrive to decommission the huds for home use, has been monitoring them, is aware of their plans, and kills Allen as way of enforcing his will. The huds still fight back, but are subdued with no further casualties. Something else happens, but John can’t remember what…
John finally wakes up fully. He finds that he is in a house somewhere on the western edge of Philadelphia, with Naomi, Cyd, and others from his flashback time. It turns out that Naomi has known about her hudness almost from the beginning, even before she met with John, and that Cyd was sent to keep an eye on him and to try to coax out his memories. They didn’t want to force John’s memories, to avoid the kind of situation that just happened: John causing a civil war. It turns out that since they have had their memories returned, the E.H.U.D.s have been trying to find each other and figure out what to do. Two of them, Merv and Maria, decided to ignore the group and go terrorist, killing off political targets. Most of the other E.H.U.D.s want to go forth with the Q-bomb doctrine, but they are evenly split on how to go about doing it. One group, led by Naomi, wants to take down the Government and enforce their will on America and the world at large. Another group, led by a hud named Talan, want to present themselves to the world as an independent entity, belonging to, and helping no country, just being an all around, impartial deterrent to war. Neither side believes they have enough people (about ten each) to go on their own. They want John to be the tie breaker, as he was closest to Allen, their visionary, and they believe he understood the ideas behind the doctrine best. John ponders the situation and comes to a compromise: they will quietly present themselves to the government, weed out corruption (starting with Mistlethwakey), end the war, and then present themselves to the world, with a docile America as proof of what they can do. They agree to send a contingent, led by John, to camp Eglon to settle the matter.
The president is in his bunker in Tulsa, speaking via teleconference with Mistlethwakey. Edgar informs Bob that may have to skip his traditional trip back to Sky Crest for Christmas because something important has come up. The strategic missile defense network has a strange virus, something the likes of which the techies have never seen before. Ed orders that the system is to be shut down immediately and that all active missiles be taken out of commission. In addition, he wants this to remain secret. And there are other problems: due to American instability, Mexico is massing forces in southern Texas, Canada has sealed its border, and the U.N. is threatening to send in peacekeeping troops. The next item they discuss is the presence of a growing commune on the western edge of town which has not only resisted attacks from looters and gangs and drunken rednecks, but has also helped stabilize the region and keep fighting to a minimum. Edgar thinks it might be a good idea to embrace this sort of Community, and convince people all over the country to adopt this, especially in riotous areas, in exchange for lowered troop levels. This would give the communities the illusion of control, step down government hostilities, strengthen people’s trust in the government, halt the spread of war, and prove to outside observers that not only can America control itself, it is also able to fundamentally change in the quest for peace. This shift from big government to strong community groups would also please Terstein’s followers, who want a change in America. Edgar decides to call the leader of the Commune.
Cut to Rachel, in consultation with representatives of a group of about fifty people who want join her Social Unit. She turns them down, saying they already have about a hundred and fifty people, but suggests these new people start an SU of their own, and extends aid and materials to do so. The representatives leave pleased. Rachel goes out to do her share of gardening work, but is interrupted by a call from the president. Although Edgar is shocked to find that Rachel is John’s niece, he still goes ahead with his plan to recruit her and get her to head the new program to bring change, and to go, with FEMA help, to different cities to start SUs. Rachel is uncertain about this, but their conversation is interrupted by Mistlethwakey, who informs the president that John has just arrived at Camp Eglon.
John and the Huds arrive at Camp Eglon, to find… Mistlethwakey, and the president via video screen. They present their argument: if the president agrees to turn over Mistlethwakey and any others involved in the program, the huds will not only forgive Edgar’s part in it (he was secdef, after all), they will also help him get the country under control, and bring about world peace. Seeing that he has the SUs, and now the E.H.U.D.s going for him, Edgar realizes he could end the war, become extremely popular, and go down as a great hero. He quickly agrees. However, Mistlethwakey then revels that the president is an E.H.U.D. The huds don’t care, and Ed is still ready to betray M, when Mistlethwakey reveals that he is an E.H.U.D., and, much like John, is able to bypass the scramblers. John then has a final flashback, the end of his time as an E.H.U.D., Mistlethwakey defeating him as he is holed up in a medical wing, and then of Mistlethwakey wiping everyone’s memories. John decides that now is the time to retreat and regroup, leaving the president under M’s sway. M then informs the president that it is time for him to take his leave for Christmas. (This is around December 20th or so.)
Part IV: Apocalypse
Back at their safe house, the Huds decide to stick to John’s plan, but to go in and take over Mistlethwakey first. John realizes that he could put his mind inside M’s just as he was planning to do with Shaun at one point, and still have powers. This would also give them another inside man in the White House (Dr. Frease being the first). He informs them that M always vacations at home. They decide to strike the next day, but they need supplies first. John sends one group to go to the local National Guard occupation zone and steal some armor, another to go and get some scramblers, and then he and Cyd go to Cohen and Associates to get detailed plans to Sky Crest. While there, John prints off a copy of his tower plans. They quickly study the plans, and find that the access point from the Central Maintenance Core to M’s apartment has been sealed off. (I’ll get a map or diagram, I swear…) Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but John’s plan requires going powerless, so they have to adjust the plan and go in through the front door. As they leave, Walter manages to see them, and informs John that Lucy is dead (He knew Lucy from when he was John’s roommate.) John is even more resolved to kill Mistlethwakey. Back at the safe house, they make final preparations.
That night, a group of E.H.U.D.s, led by John, go to Sky Crest. While the infiltration team… infiltrates… the rest stay outside in armor, trying to keep prying eyes away. Inside, John has some people secure the building’s security measures. This whole time, several scramblers, pulsing at multiple frequencies to make sure that M can’t sense them or bypass them, are placed around the tower and taken with John as he goes up the elevator to M’s apartment at the top. John is unarmored, so he will be able to kill his body once the mind switch is made. He gets to the apartment, with a few minutes to spare before the scramblers are set to shut off and then reactivate, allowing him to swap minds. But he is ambushed by Mistlethwakey, who seems to know all about the plan. It is then that Mistlethwakey reveals his true identity: Allen leader of the E.H.U.D.s, and a natural born hud who planned the whole program. He also reveals that he knows what John is doing there, and that he has no choice but to kill John and then pretend to be John, to convince the others that John has succeeded. John wants to know why, and Mistlethwakey shows him a vision (which the reader’s can’t see) of his motives. John accepts this, and when the scramblers deactivate and reactivate, he lets Mistlethwakey shoot him, sending him crashing out the window to the building far below (again, I need a diagram). Mistlethwakey then calls Naomi and impersonates John, but informs her that something more important than the Q-bomb doctrine has come up.
Mistlethwakey calls for an emergency shutdown of the scramblers and a mental meeting. He informs everyone of the virus that has infected the missile system, and that he has ignored the president’s orders, thus leaving the U.S.’s nuclear arsenals in the hands of… himself. Also, using his powers, he has gone in person and introduced the virus into the secure networks of every nuclear power on earth. The missiles will all launch in approximately twelve hours; there is nothing they can do. Some of the Huds are suspicious of this, but they can sense what feels like John in Mistlethwakey’s mind, and can see M’s own memories of all of this, so they believe him. It is decided, based partially on practicality and partially on M’s pre-existing plans (which seem to have predicted everything the huds have done up to this point) that they will wait until a few holiday shoppers come to the mall (diagram) and then barricade them, and many supplies, inside, while using their powers to divert the nuclear forces that are about to rain down upon them. They quickly go out, in armor, to requisition and steal supplies, including food, water, literature, and large, breedable dogs. Don’t ask; sequel.
Mistlethwakey and a few other huds stay behind to prepare things at Sky Crest, and M goes to find Amanda Latterndale, whom he believes will be able to get everyone organized. He also calls Washington and convinces Eli Rosencrantz, secretary of the press and associated media, to send out a camera crew for a press conference.
Soon, the supply bearing huds bring their truck-fulls of supplies back to the mall, and Amanda manages to convince the now trapped shoppers and Sky Crest residents to load food and prepare for the worst. Meanwhile, Mistlethwakey goes on air for a live, emergency press conference.
Back in the bunker, the president is on the phone with the Russian prime minister. It would seem that a flight of missiles spontaneously launched, aimed for major western hemisphere cities and geological cites. The prime minister swears it is an accident, that the system was infected with some kind of virus, and Edgar admits that his own system had a virus. It is then that American missles launch, headed for eastern hemisphere targets. Meanwhile, French, Pakistani, Chinese, North Korean, Israeli, and every other type of Missile (including a few secret Canadian ones!) launch. Edgar is stunned and horrified, realizing that Mistlethwakey must have ignored his orders.
One of his aids then enters and informs him that Mistlethwakey is making a statement. They turn on the TV and Mistlethwakey explains that he was the mastermind behind the E.H.U.D. experiment and now the imminent nuclear assault. He tells the people of America, and the world, that he is very sorry. He also tells them of several places that the missiles will not hit, including the central United States, the South Eastern edge of the mediterranian sea, Central Africa, and the Asian Steppes. He then signs off, saying that he leaves the world in the president’s hands, and that if ever tyranny arises, the E.H.U.D.s will be there to protect the world.
Dr. Frease then arrives, and informs the president that he was given post-hypnotic orders that if ever Mistlethwakey were to give a speech like this, he was to send the president down to the subbasement. The president goes, as the world is minutes away from destruction, and finds a hidden genetics lab. As he enters, a computer turns on with a video of Mistlethwakey. He informs Edgar that this was all part of his plan, what he spoke to Edgar about when Edgar first agreed to three months of silence. He then tells Edgar that he should go about with his plan to use Rachel’s government, but that the final results will not happen until after his life time. In order to bypass that, then, he has trained Dr. Frease in the science of cloning, and set up this lab to produce clones of Edgar, which he can psychically transfer his mind into as he nears death. He suggests that Edgar find a new wife to be the womb for these clones. He then tells Edgar that Edgar is now the de facto ruler of humanity, and wishes him the best.
The video ends, and Edgar weeps.
To be continued in Sheol: Place of the Dead