Armis & Io
Washington, DC – January 2061
On Tuesday, January 18, James Whitford Maguire raised his right hand, placed his left on the family bible and took the oath of office. “I, James Whitford Maguire, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Behind him, about 300 feet above and behind him, a laser pulse rifle began to whine as it began a charge cycle. It only took a half-second to reach full charge, and the rifle coughed very quietly a heartbeat later. The invisible laser pulse entered the back of the skull of the newly sworn President, exited through the front of his face and was dissipated by the plastisteel shield that was designed to protect him from any frontal assault.
That the shot had come from the Capitol dome behind Maguire was ... It was impossible. The Secret Service had secured that area and stationed a sniper in that dome. Unfortunately, the Secret Service sniper was the person who fired the shot that took the life of James Maguire.
The nationwide comm broadcast was carried by 30 different channels, and scores more around the world. That coverage showed Maguire’s brain splattered on the hardened plastisteel that guarded against a shooter from the front. It was a fairly neat and tidy scene as murder scenes go. The Chief Justice was not covered with gore, as would have been the course if there had been a traditional high powered cartridge. Robertson Maguire, the life partner of the now dead President, watched in horror as his mate simply slumped forward against the podium and then to the floor. The first gay President of the U.S. now held the record for the shortest time in office: 7.5 seconds.
The crowd was confused, to say the least. The Secret Service personnel, of course, were too late in reacting. There was no provision for protecting the President from the Secret Service. The networks quickly shifted to shots that did not include the plastisteel barrier splattered with the blood and brain matter of the dead man.
Naturally, there was panic and pandemonium on the podium, and throughout the audience. Newly sworn in Vice-President William Howard Taft Ellis was thrown to the ground by Secret Service agents and then dragged off-stage. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dorothy Huston of California, was next in line for the Presidency. She was unceremoniously dragged off the podium in another direction.
There was a doctor nearby, but he didn’t have anything to do. Maguire’s head was not a functioning human organ any more; there was a one inch hole through the skull back to front. One of the Secret Service agents had covered the upper body of the fallen President with his jacket. Robertson Maguire had fallen to his knees and was just a crying lump at the feet of the body of the man he had loved.
In the cupola of the Capitol dome the laser recharged itself. A second later it fired again. David Thomas Farouk’s head now had a neat hole in it, from under his jaw through the top of his skull, just before the barrage of Federal Agents broke into the dome area, in a self-administered death shot. A later search of his pockets turned up a hand written note that was a strange mockery of and tribute to John Wilkes Booth’s famous statement: “Sic Semper Faggots.”
VP Ellis was backstage with the Chief Justice and a squad of SS Agents. Surrounding them was a contingent of Marines. No one questioned how they got there so fast. The group huddled around a comm camera from ZBS. “All right,” said Ellis. “Let’s do this.”
For the second time in ten minutes the Chief Justice recited the oath and a man repeated it after him. “I, William Howard Taft Ellis, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.”
With one pull of a trigger, U.S. policy on a host of issues changed direction by 180 degrees. In an effort to ‘balance the ticket, ‘ Maguire had selected his harshest critic for his Vice President. Maguire was an openly gay man; Ellis spouted the old, discredited idea that gay marriage threatened heterosexual marriage. Maguire was an internationalist; Ellis wanted to close the borders, to keep out the Kafiri terrorists, the Latin American and Asian immigrants, and the nearly open door to European citizens. ‘America for Americans’ was his cry.
Ellis moved off to a private office. Only General Howard ‘BlackJack’ Patton, a distant relative of the WWII General, followed him to the room.
Ellis said, “Get the word out that the assassin was named Farouk. Don’t mention the note.” Patton nodded affirmatively. No one had told either man about either fact. The two men locked eyes briefly, then Patton left, and Ellis moved on to rally the country, swearing that the U.S. would find out what had happened on the steps of the Capitol.
All U.S. military forces around the world were ordered to DefCon 3, ‘just in case.’ Allied nations went to a heightened state of alertness, and of course, this prompted Russia and China to do likewise.
In New York, the markets cratered violently and then the exchanges suspended trading for the day. The European markets were closed, of course, but in Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney, prices tumbled. Investors didn’t really care, much. Investors were people who wanted to own companies. But the markets were not governed in any real sense by the investors. The stock and commodity markets, and the derivatives that were their spinoffs were run on a minute to minute, day to day basis by speculators, including the floor traders, multinational banks and institutions. The banks and institutions were, these days, the biggest speculators of all.
The death of the new President happened at 12:01.55 p.m. Eastern Time. The U.S. market had been under pressure all day, after all: ‘An Openly Gay President?’ was the headline in the Wall Street Journal on the eve of the November elections. At 11:55 a.m. on Tuesday, January 18, however – five minutes BEFORE the shot that killed the President – both American Bank and Bank of the U.S. began selling every- and any-thing, and buying gold and oil. Spot gold – the openly traded, unlimited commodity (as differentiated from gold futures, which had exchange mandated limits on price changes) – went from $2000 an ounce to $3000 in a matter of moments. The stock market was down 1500 on the Dow before anybody could exhale, and fell far beyond the ‘automatic’ circuit breakers. Oil hit $500 per barrel, under the unrelenting buying of the two banks. And all before the assassination.
The computers of the two banks were locked in – there was almost smoke coming off their transistors.
Then the announcement of the assassination came over the tape and the markets shut down. The U.S. exchanges were closed within seconds. It was 12:02.15 p.m. Eastern Time. Three trillion dollars had changed hands – or been destroyed by the market plunge – in just over 6 minutes. More trillions had changed hands in the gold and oil markets. The two banks – and selected executives in the banks – were now much, much richer.
By nightfall, the comms were ablaze with news that Farouk was the assassin, that he had ties to the Kafiri terrorists, and there were unconfirmed reports of other terrorist cells targeting high officials across the country.
President Ellis slammed the borders closed – all of them. Under provisions of the Patriot Act as amended in 2022 and 2050, he declared a national emergency. Soldiers of the active duty military – NOT National Guardsmen – were to be stationed at every port, airport and border crossing. ‘No one gets in’ were the orders of the day.
Lieutenant Commander Samuel Redstone was the commander of Team 9 of the U.S. SEALs. Redstone was a 32 year old whiz kid in the SEALs, by right of his graduation from Cal Tech’s Masters program at the age of 20. He was a full spectrum genius who had joined the Navy immediately on graduation. He wanted to ‘do something’ for his country.
Redstone and his full team were on maneuvers in northern Montana. Montana was his native stomping grounds: he was a full-blooded Cree Indian. The Cree had a cross-border [the U.S. / Canada border] autonomous nation in Montana (a U.S. state) and Saskatchewan (a Canadian province); mostly it was in Canada.
In fact, SEAL Team 9, comprised of about 50 total operators, was arranged against a ‘enemy force’ of 100 Cree Indians, thanks to an agreement with Chief Redstone – an uncle of the Lt. Cmdr. Both units were arrayed throughout the southern part of the Cree Nation – the part that was in Montana. The SEALs were winning about 3 of 5 encounters; it was close every time.
At about 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time on January 18, the SEALs’ radio began to squawk. It was a blanket order, directing all units to DefCon3. Redstone looked at the map showing the deployment of his units. They were the defense force today against the attacking Cree. He decided there wasn’t a damn thing for him to do to reach DefCon3; his units were already at a higher level of readiness. Until and unless he got orders to pull his Team out of their training maneuvers, he’d just keep on keepin’ on.
In the Mediterranean the story was different. Admiral Art Drumore, commander of the Fifth Fleet, called his senior staff together. Drumore was a 57 year old black man with a fringe of white fuzz around his head. “We have orders for DefCon3 but nothing further. Let’s update some plans, shall we? See if there is any update from the Pentagon for invasions of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and et cetera. I doubt it, but let’s check.
“Let’s get some combination deployments and some partial interventions ready to go. And let’s get the ships out of range of the most likely shooters on land. I know this is like me telling your mother how to make pancakes, but that’s how I am.”
His XO, Rear Admiral Catherine Tremont, was the officer who was going to have to organize all that. Adm. Drumore felt that he was in charge of ‘the big picture’ and that his XO was to do all the heavy lifting. Adm. Drumore never left the 50,000 foot level of oversight. After Drumore’s big picture statement about making pancakes, Tremont convened a meeting of his senior staff – which was really her senior staff – to plan the possible deployments around the Med. They were the ones who’d actually have to break the eggs and mix the flour to make the damned pancakes.
DefCon3 meant all leave for all personnel was cancelled, so the Shore Patrol in Naples, Athens and all over the Med. began to round up all the Sailors and Marines they could find. Ships that were near their full complement made for the open sea. Battle formations began to come together and the U.S. Fifth Fleet started to coalesce in the waters south of Greece, and got ready to do whatever it was asked to do.
As of now, it was being asked to do nothing but get ready. But ... the emergency was less than a day old.
At 7:00 a.m. the next day, President Ellis overruled his mish-mash of a National Security Council and ordered the exchanges to remain closed for two more days, until ‘things could be normalized.’ As a part of getting things normalized, he ordered the armed forces of the U.S. into the streets of every major city – from New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, down to Chatanooga, Tennessee and Boise, Idaho. That was a technical violation of federal law, according to some, but not according to President Ellis.
The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) that prohibits use of the Army (later it included the Air Force and Navy) to enforce ‘domestic policies’ of the government. It was passed in 1878 as part of the Reconstruction Act following the U.S. Civil War – or the War of Northern Aggression as it is referred to in the South of the U.S.
Ellis said that he was calling out the standing army due to a national emergency, caused by the assassination of President Maguire by Kafiri terrorists. Further he claimed that the National Guard units of any state could not be trusted to act in the national interest, since Farouk was himself a member of the Maryland National Guard.
At 7:22 a.m., the Mayor of New York City and the Governor of the state refused to allow Army units – led by Armored Personnel Carriers and combat tanks – into the city. Every one of the city’s 40,000 police personnel and the New York State National Guard were ordered to ‘defend the city’ against anyone attempting to bring a weapon in. The general feeling in the press was that a tank would count as ‘a weapon.’ National Guard units in other some other states were activated – in some cases they blocked the roads leading out of Army bases. In others, things were quieter, and the occupation of the cities went without protest.
The Secretary of the Army, in a hastily called press conference, said that “No member of the Armed Forces of the United States will fire on any police or National Guard unit.” So the standoff went on, unresolved.
About half of the heavily-armed survivalist units in the country immediately called out their members and could be seen in the streets, ‘protecting’ their towns. The other half were pleased to see something finally being done about the ‘Kifiri’ terrorist threat.
In 2061, there were 450 million weapons owned by about 200 million U.S. citizens. The Armed Forces, of course, had millions more. The various police and National Guard units had even more. There was a semi-automatic weapon on nearly every street corner in the U.S. being manned by pro- and anti-Ellis persons.
Except on the streets and dirt roads of the semi-autonomous regions known as the AmerInd Nations. Those nations each were responsible for their own safety. In a hastily arranged conference call among the AmerInd Presidents, they decided that their safety was not threatened and they would not welcome the Army onto their lands. They’d had their fill of the U.S. Army in the preceding 250 years.