Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Chapters Three, Four, & Five

Chapters Three, Four, & Five

Sat, 12 Jun 2021 04:02

Chapters Three, Four, & Five

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Hey, Robert here. It's been like two months since I had LASIK and I'm still seeing 2020. All I had to do was go in for a consultation, then go in for a maybe 10 minute procedure and then my eyes have been great ever since. You know, I healed up wonderfully. It was very simple, couldn't have been a better experience. So if you want to explore LASIK plus I can't recommend it enough. They have over 20 years experience in the industry and they performed more than two million treatments right now if you want to try getting LASIK plus you can get $1000 off of your surgery when you're treated in September, that's $500. Of per eye, just to schedule your free consultation. Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried true crime. And if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's breaker handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's Hey there, it's Ebony Monet, your co-host for the San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we're speaking with Doctor Jane Goodall about the fascinating journey that led to her social discoveries on chimpanzees SO4-O months, the chimps ran away from me. I mean, they take one look at this peculiar white ape and disappear into the vegetation. Bing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey, lethal listeners. Tig here. Last season on Lethal lit, you might remember I came to Hollow falls on a mission, clearing my Aunt Beth's name and making sure justice was finally served. But I hadn't counted on a rash of new murders tearing apart the town. My mission put myself and my friends in danger, though it wasn't all bad. I'm going to be real with you, tig. I like you. But now all signs point to a new serial killer. In Hollow Falls, if this game is just starting, you better believe I'm going to win. I'm Tig Torres and this is lethal lit. Catch up on season one of the hit Murder Mystery podcast. Lethal lit A tag Torres mystery out now and then TuneIn for all new thrills in Season 2, dropping weekly starting February 9th. Subscribe now to never miss an episode. Listen to lethal lit on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Here's to the Great American settlers, the millions of you who settled for unsatisfying jobs because they paid the bills. Of course, there is something else you could do. If you got something to say. Start a podcast with Spreaker from iheart and Unleash Your Creative freedom. Maybe even earn enough money to one day tell your old boss. Hey, I'm no settler, I'm an explorer. SPREAKER hustle on over today. When PT Barnum's Great American Museum burned to the ground in 1865, what rose from its ashes would change the world. Welcome to grim and mild presents an ongoing journey into the strange, the unusual, and the fascinating. In our inaugural season, we'll give you a backstage tour of the complex and unusual artifact that is the American sideshow. Listen to grim and male presents now on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Chapter 3, Sasha. The drone gun rotated on its axis and brought a new, slightly different chunk of cityscape into view. The world was a dull Gray green color through the lens of the weapons camera. Once again, there were no humans insight that was the norm, but Sasha still logged in for her scheduled gun time every day. Her parents would have been mortified if they'd known how she was spending her few hours of free time, but she had a good VPN, or at least it was good enough to hide her activity from her non tech savvy elders. She doubted they'd ever suspect her of something like this. Sasha was a good student. Her grades guaranteed her admission to the American University in DC at one point she'd had a shot at being her high school's valedictorian and maybe of gaining admission to Stanford. But then she discovered the true gospel and given herself to Christ. Her grades were still good, but probably not good enough to earn her an educational visa to the California Republic. The extra time the old her had dedicated to school was now spent glued to a gun Cam. Browsing live feeds from various Christian militias and reading everything she could from the few pastors brave enough to preach the word, the new herd didn't want to go to school near San Francisco, capital of what Pastor Mike had called the world's most sinful nation. Sasha didn't even really want to go to College in DC what was the point? Sash? Her dad called from the kitchen. Dinner's on cheese enchiladas. There was still nothing in her line of sight. For the 11th month in a row, she was spending 65 M Fed dollars for the privilege of staring. Rick Camera at nothing for 1/2 hour a day. Sasha had been warned about this when she'd signed up to support The Woodlands Martyrs Brigade. Their drone guns didn't see much action. The front had been stable for the last year. Rumours said the number of backers had even gotten to fire during their turn was under a dozen. Sasha had hoped she'd be a special case. Something moved just as she thought about killing the app and going downstairs. Something moved across her drones. Field of vision. It happened again and Sasha realized that the somethings were armored soldiers. Sprinting past her weapon, she locked the drone on one and for the first time ever, selected the fire approval button. A second went by, then another, and then a red box replaced her firing reticule. Target declined. Friendly fire, Sasha? Her mother called up in that grating voice. That meant she was almost frustrated enough to start yelling. Get down here. She stared at the box for another long moment. Friendly fire that made sense as she belatedly realized the men had been rushing out of territory occupied by the martyrs. Good thing they check up on us before we pull the trigger. Her heart pounded a little at the thought of killing the wrong soldier, but at the same time she noticed something odd. The men were still coming. They rushed past the drone camera in waves 10 feet apart, ducking low when hefting heavy weapons. She must have watched at least 100 of them passed before. You realized what this meant. A new offensive. Oh God. Dial Alexander, she told her deck. A calm window popped up about 6 inches in front of her hand to the left of the large drone control screen that hovered above her. Anyone without a deck would have just seen a 17 year old girl lying on her bed and poking at the air, but Sasha saw the space in front of her as a giant screen curved around her body. She opened another window and flung it up on her right side. It was populated with links to the camera feeds of all the personalities she followed. Most of them were located somewhere in the Republic of Texas, and more than half of the feeds were dark. It was hard to tell just what was happening on the others. Sasha decided she'd get a faster update on the situation. Through her news aggregator, she reduced the other windows and shifted them to her periphery. Then she opened a new window and waited a half second for her curated news Feed to populate. Her deck kept ringing Alexander while she scanned the headlines reports of explosions across the Dallas Front, Texas extremists. Advance into SDF Republic territory. Reports from Dallas suggest a new offensive by Heavenly Kingdom. A half dozen rings later, Alexander picked up Sasha. He asked. His voice sounded distant. There was noise on the line. After a second or so, Sasha heard a boom, and then a strange ********* sound. That had to be gunfire. It didn't sound like it did in the movies or even in the few VR shooters she'd played. Sasha's heart had started to pound by the time she responded. Yes, Alexander, I was just on my drone. And it looks like something's happening. The media saying it's another offensive. They're right for once, said Alexander. And the still wrong at the same time. This is something new. Sasha. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you before, but it'll all be clear soon. Is this just the Martyrs brigade? He smiled, and Sasha's face went red. No, Sasha, something wonderful is are you near the front? Are you part of the fighting? Sasha interrupted. She'd never have done that normally, but she could hear what sounded like gunfire over his line. And Sasha was scared. I'm with the 2nd. Dave, he said. The tracks are moving us into position now. I'll probably have to. Whatever else he'd been about to say was cut short as all of Sasha's deck apps closed at once. Her digital world was replaced by a red box that read. Parental lockdown. Come to dinner, Sasha's mom, she screamed down the stairs as her eyes welled up with tears at the unfairness of it all. Alexander, the man she was pretty sure she loved, was going into battle for the first time. He was fighting right now. To reestablish the rule of God on Earth, I should have read him a poem or said something beautiful and stirring. Something about how my love for him was his everlasting. As God's own love. It should have been a powerful moment, but her heretic horror of a mother had ruined it for enchiladas. Sasha stormed downstairs, ripe with fury but unable to vent it. Her parents couldn't know she'd been giving money to a militant group. They wouldn't have to drop in on her, talking to Alexander to know what she had planned. Six kids from her high school had already left for the Republic of Texas to fight in one militia or another. It was a problem across the American Federation, but here in Virginia, parents were particularly wary. The border of the United Christian States was just an hours drive from her front door. Rat lines in the UC brought thousands of young volunteers yearly from the heart of corporate America. To the various militia groups that battled across Texas. Sasha, Marian, what did we interrupt that was so important you had to yell? I was praying. Mother, it wasn't really a lie. Pastor Mike had said that every deed done in support of the Heavenly Kingdom was an act of prayer. Gwendolyn Marian frowned back at her daughter. She was a stern woman with a broad Germanic face and dirty blonde hair pulled back into a severe bun. Faint crows feet trickled out from her eyes, but those were from choice rather than times formerly inevitable. March, Gwendolyn was the chief of surgery at Annapolis General Hospital. She'd been taking juven treatment since she was 20. She'd only decided to let the crows feet through once Sasha had turned 17. You can pray as much as you want, honey, but right now it's dinner time and this is something we do as a family. Sasha thought Juven was unnatural. Heretical. God had created each human to age a certain way. Using science to disrupt that natural process was an act of blasphemy. She yearned to say something cutting hurtful in response, but she fought it down. You don't have to obey your father and mother if they try to keep you out of the Kingdom of heaven. Words from one of Pastor Mikes Weekly casts rang in her ears. But the Lord God still calls on us to respect our parents. He'd added that well behaved. Kids were the ones who caused the least suspicion and had the best chance of successful escape. Yes, ma'am, was all she said as the family settled into their chairs. Her brother Ian was just five, an unusually quiet for his age. He smiled at her as their father doled him out an enchilada sash. Who's Alexander? He asked, and Sasha felt the blood run out of her face. Their father, Tony, smiled Riley at the remark as he spooned a proportionally larger serving onto his own plate. Alexander, huh? Maybe this means another boyfriend. It's been, what, four years? Tony had opted for fewer cosmetic juven treatments than his wife. Sasha loved her father's receding hairline, his slight jowls, his graying hair. He was still a heretic, but at least he wasn't a vain 1. He's not my boyfriend, Dad. Just a boy I talk with sometimes. We pray together. Gwendolyn rolled her eyes a little. Such an exciting adolescence you're having, she said. Sarcasm swelled every word. Sasha didn't rise to the bait. Her self-control was iron. Now. She wouldn't give them any cause to worry or call the authorities. It was better even for them to think Alexander was some boy from school. If they thought her principals were thawing, they'd be less likely to suspect what he had planned. The Marion family ate companionable. For several minutes Tony talked about some **** eyed nut who'd come into his office at Deutsche Bank looking for a loan. He wanted 3,000,000 and 19% to get this build a blimp to take tourists from the amped to Louisiana without crossing UCCS territory. And I'm like first of all I can name 100 boat charters that do the same thing. And 2nd Sasha tuned most of it out and tried to focus on eating, but knowing Alexander was out there facing death. For his faith killed any appetite she otherwise might have had. She ate mechanically without really tasting it until her plate was almost clean. Sasha was planning her exit when her mother spoke up. By the way, the school called today and said you still haven't been by to get sized for your graduation robes. They need at least 48 hours to print them out. You're running out of time. Sorry, Mom, she said. I know that's important. I've just had a lot on my mind lately. The FSTS were last week. Sasha had gotten very good at telling her parents. What they needed to hear without actually lying. The Federation standardized test had been last week, and she'd certainly had a lot on her mind lately, but the FST hadn't been keeping her up at night. It was little more than a rubber stamp for a student like Sasha. That's OK, sweetie, Gwendolyn said. I know how important your school work is to you. I just want you to have a fun graduation experience. That's important. There's a war going on a few 100 miles from your door. Men are dying for God's Kingdom, and you think school matters to me. But Sasha? Smiled, told her mom she loved her, and went back upstairs to her room. As soon as it was politic to do so, she reactivated her VPN and popped her deck into stealth mode, which displayed a curated selection of websites and chat apps for her mom and Dad in case they came by. She drew a new private window about 2 feet in front of her face and split it in half between a face Cam with Alexander and a newsfeed full of her favorite militia press offices. Her jaw dropped. Voice of the prophets main headline was Republic of Texas forces. Clashed with martyrs. Judgment Day is here, she read in a social media post from one of her favorite sources in the area, a 20 something mechanic who lived on the fringe of the Republic and supported the Heavenly Kingdom. He posted a picture of the governor's mansion in Plano. It was burnt around several of the windows and riddled with holes. Gone was the Republic's flag, replaced by a white banner with a burning black cross in the center. Sasha sent out another call request to Alexander and switched over to Al Jazeera's feed to learn more. It galled her to use a new source run by Muslims, but she'd learned from experience that Al Jazeera had the best reporters on the ground in the Republic. They'd negotiated coverage deals with several of the militia groups, including Alexander's. The first thing she noticed was that their last article had gone up over an hour ago. But the titles of the foremost recent articles painted a vivid picture. Republic Capital and Galveston burning military coup Republic media feeds go dark, SDF under attack. In Dallas, Pastor Mike Donegan announces new offensive. Heavenly Kingdom. How could there possibly be a new offensive against the secular forces in Dallas? The Richardson Lion had been locked in a stalemate for the last year. Alexander had told her often how outnumbered and outgunned the martyrs of the Heavenly Kingdom were. We're holding our own, but only by the grace of God, was his usual refrain. The idea of them advancing again on the DF seemed impossible. Nothing is impossible with God. She could almost hear Alexander's voice echo in her mind's ear. She glanced over at his chat screen, but it was still just showed the standard dialing symbol. Frustrated, Sasha brought up her militia news feed. This was one of her most cherished possessions. It had taken months for her to sort out the most influential Christian militias in the area, find their official spokes feeds, and cross index them based on which groups agreed with the strict Neo Calvinist doctrine. She, Alexander, and Pastor Mike all knew to be the one true word of God, and for the first time since she'd started the feed, each and every militia she followed had posted the exact same message the first Battle of Armageddon. Has begun. Sasha was confused for a minute. She'd done her homework. She knew the final battle of the end Times was supposed to occur at Mount Megiddo in Israel. But she thought back to Pastor Mike. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. 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Visit behind today. You get 10% off your first month. That's better. behind. Better helcom behind. Hey, Robert Evans here. It's been like two months since I got LASIK, laser eye surgery and my vision still 2020. So many things about my daily life is changed. I don't have to worry about putting on a mask and my glasses fogging up and have to take out contacts at night or put them in the day. I don't have to like, worry all the time when I'm traveling. Like, how many contacts do I have by going swimming at the lake? During the summer, something I like to do, go to the beach or whatever, I don't have to worry about losing a contact or, you know, bringing swimming glasses or something. With me, everything is just easier. And getting it done was easy too, you know. I went in, I had my consultation. They told me I was a good candidate, and then I went back in a couple of days later. But a Bing bada boom, you know, my eyes were perfect. So LASIK Plus is a leader in laser vision correction in the United States. They have over 20 years in the industry and more than two million treatments performed if you want to start your LASIK. This journey you can get $1000 off when treated in September. That's 500 per eye so to schedule your free consultation now. Sermons. He had talked about the battles of Armageddon many times, the coming end times, and the central place of the Heavenly Kingdom, and the world's last battles were constant refrains. In his sermons, Sasha had always believed the battles of Armageddon would come. She just thought they had more time. Sasha was frustrated and a little hurt. Alexander must have known this was in the offing and kept it from her. She understood, of course, but she was furious at herself for being so far away from the action that he'd been forced to hide this from her. The first Battle of Armageddon was beginning just a few hours South of her bedroom. She could either stay here and rot in the American Federation or prove God with her devotion and move there. It didn't even seem like a choice, really. If Goodman were fighting and dying to restore the Kingdom of God on Earth, it fell to her to travel there. And support those men she thought of Alexander, his liquid green eyes, his scraggly beard, the way his still boyish voice broke, and excitement when he lost himself in the spirit of the Lord. Her beloved was out there right now, fighting and maybe bleeding, to bring the truth back to the world. The least she could do was join them. Weeks ago, Alexander had given her the contact information for a man named Brother Andrew. He called the other man a deliverer. Sasha knew her parents and the amphet authorities would have described brother Andrew as a people smuggler. She hadn't reached out to brother Andrew yet. In her fantasy, she'd always waited to graduate before escaping to the Heavenly Kingdom. She was still a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday and had hoped to at least spin that with her parents before setting off. But right now, as she scrolled through articles about the martyrs, breakthrough and immersed herself and snapped vids of cheering. Soldiers raising cross banners over newly captured neighborhoods, Sasha felt a powerful anxiety overtake her. She needed to be there. There was no other option. Sasha flicked open a window on the left side of her view space, typed in the address she'd memorized for brother Andrew, and sent him a message. I'm ready to go. What grows in the forest? Trees? Sure, no one else grows in the forest. Our imagination, our sense of wonder and our family bonds grow too, because when we disconnect from this. And connect with this, we reconnect with each other. The forest is closer than you think. Find a forest near you and start exploring and brought to you by the United States Forest Service and the ad Council. The art world. 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Chapter 4 Manny Manny woke up needing to **** and also to the sound of explosions. You couldn't quite tell which was more to blame for his sudden unwelcome consciousness. His lizard brain woke up and shouted. Get the **** out of there you *******. A second later many got to his feet, grabbed his gear bag and looked around for the journalist. Reggie still seemed to sleep, but he stirred just as Manny started towards him and another thundering boom shook the world. Christ, who's that? Reggie asked in a slurred voice. Heavy with sleep. Mortars? Manny explained. I think I heard rockets too. ****. The Briddick sailed sharply. Is this bad? Many shrugged, though. Sound like small mortars. Very short range, but we're miles behind the line, so? A deafening explosion shook the world. It was loud enough that Manny didn't even properly hear it. He felt it hard and hot against his skin. The sheer, impossible noise of it pulled the air from his lungs and the thoughts from his head. The next instant, he was flat on the ground. His eyes darted left and right for cover. He spotted something, an artificial cave built into a corner of the main room, perhaps 100 feet away. It looked like some sort of shrine or temple many could see. The walls were thick with melted candles, colorful drawings, and a variety of. Brass symbols. He grabbed Reggie by the shoulder and shook hard. The other man jerked locked eyes with Manny and mouthed what the fixer pointed towards. The shrine pulled himself up and sprinted towards it. The journalist followed and soon both men were huddled in the little substructure, staring out at the devastation that had overtaken the Richardson Autonomous Project. They could see two holes in the roof. The huge circular kitchen bar looked like it had taken a direct hit. Beer spurted from shattered taps and many could see what looked like blood staining the white oak of the bar counter. Flames licked somewhere off in the distance. On the other side of the vast structure, the air smelled of smoke and burning grass. More blasts sounded in the distance, including a few that were just too loud to be mortar fire. Now that he focused, Manny could also hear the chatter of machine guns. It was distant, but not nearly as distant as it should have been. Many dug into his pocket, found where the deck was, clipped inside, and thumbed the power button. Static flashed at the edge of his vision as his implant started up here nearly always ran in minimalist mode, which gave him access to his maps in his communication suite and nothing else. He selected his address book and sub vocalized his cousin's name, Alejandro. It dialed and dialed and dialed. A man, Reggie said, his voice oddly calm. I think we might need to get the **** out of here. Reggie looked over at the Brit and then towards the flames. They were bigger now and closer. He could see a dozen or so men and women fighting the fire with hoses and extinguishers. They didn't seem to be winning. Elsewhere he saw small groups breaking cover to run for the exits. The sound of alarm bells echoed across the big structure. Alejandro hadn't responded, which meant he was fighting or dead. Either way, Manny and Reggie would need to find their own ride out of this mess. It had been a while since the last mortar had landed on the complex, and the small arms fire still sounded distant. This seemed as good a time to make a break for it as they were likely to get, so they ran until they hit the nearest exit doors, shoved them open, and staggered outside into the balmy Texas night. The asphalt parking lot outside was filled with newly minted refugees, perhaps 200 of them. Most carried at least a go bag. A few had managed to drag out more. They were ringed by a widening cordon of armed men and women, 50 at the most. The militia clutched antique weapons, mostly small arms, and stuck like glue to the hesco barriers that ringed the old parking lot. Here and there, Manny caught sight of a man with an RPG or a light machine gun. It was a force meant for scaring off bandits, the Rockets still thudding in the distance, told Manny. These men and women. Based considerably more than their match. A green blink of light caught his attention. Reggie had engaged his lapel camera. The Brit fixed him with a look that said, dude, what did you expect me to do? Most of the survivors were probably recording to their decks too, but Reggie's little camera could do considerably more. It scanned the world around him in a 360 degree arc. It also recorded the journalist's own physical data. His heart rate, his respiration, his adrenal levels. Everything he saw and felt was being recorded for later consumption. The Brit was carving out a little slice of the war. Are safer parts of the world to binge watch. Vehicle started to arrive. The project's motor pool included three tracks built to carry large groups of people in semi armored semi safety, the communes. Rapid Reaction Force set to work, loading children and wounded up first there was no panic, no hysteria, just an exhausted efficiency that spoke of long practice. Manny saw glassy eyes and clenched jaws, but very little open rage. They're so very used to it, he realized. Scattered throughout the crowd, Manny saw people whose bodies rattled with the sort of palsy. Shock that artillery leaves in its wake. Reggie just stared out at them, mouth slack. His left knee twitched, the foot below it pumped against the ground. Many guessed he was caught between the urge to step out and talk to some of them and the voice of sanity in the back of his head that knew how tone deaf that would be, Manny put a hand on the journalist's shoulder. We need to get the **** out of here and our ride is off calms, he said. I'm going to suggest we hitch with the rap where their guests they'll make room for us, but if you'd rather drag *** I know a safe neighborhood about 6 miles into the city. We could probably hire our ride there. It looks like they're a bit short of room as is, said the Brit. Those tracks can hold more than 20 or 30 people each. Many smiled a little 24, but that's just a few attached to things like seats. 10 minutes later, Reggie and Manny clung to the hood of the track as it barreled down the broken streets of Ciudad de Muerta, bound for a staging area in Deep Ellum. The fighting sounded much closer by the time they left. Manny guessed the small arms fire couldn't be more than a couple of blocks away. He and the journalist held on with white knuckles and tried not to linger long on what would happen if they lost their grip. The modders have passed the command post. The Brits shouted in sudden realization, his voice strained to be audible over the roar of the engines. Holy **** they have. Be right. Many thought about the geography for a moment. It was possible that the martyrs had only broken through in a few chunks of the line. But that would mean Deshawn and the others were alive and surrounded or fleeing. Those were the best case scenarios. I think we might be ****** Manny said, stunned by the realization. For the last year, Major Clark had been his most reliable source in the SDF. That post had seemed to movable, impregnable for its significance in his little chunk of the world. The track slowed to a stop. Parked. Facing them were two smaller armored SDF tracks with swiveling cannons on their roofs. Soldiers scurried around them. They pulled sections of thin, frosted Gray, still glass barricades off the vehicles and started setting them up to form a new defensive line. Many watched 2 militia women wrestle with a large olive green case covered in boxy Cyrillic script. They pried it open and Manny saw a huge metal tube and what looked like a lot of antique optical equipment. It was probably an old wire. Guided missile launcher. Something that had been antique before the revolution. He'd never seen the SDF use anything that old. They had drones half the size that carried even more firepower. Had them yesterday at least, he thought. The track slowed to a cautious stop and honked. Many glanced back at the driver. She had her hands in the air in a universal please don't shoot us gesture. Two of the soldiers peeled off from their efforts and approached, weapons in hand, but not aimed. The driver opened her door and shouted something down at them. One of the men responded and gestured vaguely. Downtown. Many couldn't make out exactly what was being said, but the driver's face contorted in a fury that was impossible to miss. Something's ****** Manny said to the journalist. I think we're about to lose our ride. Look. He pointed to the makeshift barricade and the dozen or so soldiers who filtered past it and towards the track. The driver yelled, and one of the other passengers near the front started to shout. The soldiers face remained impassive, but he put a hand on his sidearm and repeated a command Manny didn't even need to hear. A few seconds later, a soldier with a megaphone arrived and addressed. Any Reggie and the new refugees citizens, your vehicle has been requisitioned for medical use by the SDF. Please dismount in an orderly fashion. Injured in pregnant individuals may stay aboard. The man repeated the order, this time in Spanish. Reggie's jaw clenched. Many could see fear in his eyes, but the other man just nodded and started to climb down off the track. Manny did the same. Not all of the tracks passengers were as compliant. There was a lot of shouting and even a few shoving matches between the militiamen and the passengers. But in the end, the SDF got their way. Many gathered fairly quickly that they planned to send the civilians a mile or so back to a holding area behind the That was the last ******* place in the world he wanted to be, so he approached the officer who'd been arguing with their driver. The man had no rank Insignia on his uniform, but that wasn't unusual for militia. His fatigues were old U.S. Army issue. His armband identified him as part of the citizens front. Manny found that AWD most of the militia at this barricade were with rows of front or the PA. This much intermixing wasn't normal. It pointed to a lot of casualties among the SDF. Disculpe. Senor Manny started Chico. Nora mismo. I don't have time to debate. No, senor. My cousin Alejandro was with citizens Front, 9th Battalion. He was our ride. We were taking this journalist. Many jerked his head towards Reggie who stood a few feet back and we got caught up in the attack. The officer nodded, then grunted. Manny studied his face for a moment. The man was middle-aged with a weak chin and enough extra meat on his bones to suggest this was his first. Frontline duty in a while. His eyes were bloodshot, his hands clenched, his attitude softened a bit at Alejandro's name. Alejandro Hernandez. Yeah, he's a good man. Or was, the officer said darkly. All our frontline units were wiped out. Or near enough. The whole SDF's been pushed all the way back to Ciudad de Muerta. If he's alive, he's a prisoner. The man shook his head. Sorry, Chico, there's not much I can do for you or your friend. We need to get to Waco. I know there's a hospital there. That must be where you're sending the serious injuries, right? Dallas doesn't have anything left with a full ER. The officer nodded. These tracks are headed to the field hospital in Oak Lawn, but we've got a couple deuce and a halfs loading up at Firebase Jimenez. If you can get there on your own, all radio ahead and ask Major Peron if he's got space. I know, peron. Manny almost shouted. I went to school with his nephew Hector. He couldn't stop himself from wincing as he said if you'd give him my name, that might help. The other man's eye cocked up in a really ************ look. But then the soldier asked. And your name is Manny Sanchez? He nodded. Good luck then, Manny, all radio ahead. You and your friend get to the firebase Rapido Comprende. Manny nodded and turned to Reggie. We've got a ride, but it's going to be a bit of a hike. It was less a hike and more of a panicked jog. The streets around them were filled with dozens of people carrying their possessions and bags and rusted old shopping carts. Manny had never seen Dallas this crowded. Less than a million people still lived in the old Metroplex, but most of them seemed to be out in the streets to watch the world end. Sirens sounded courtesy of the city's old civil defense system, mixed every few seconds with the distorted voice of a woman reminding them that all motor vehicle use was prohibited. Any civilian vehicles on the road will be assumed hostile. That targeted the road traffic was all military. There was less of it than many would have hoped to see. In the space of a few seconds he watched 3 pairs of cougar assault vehicles race up towards the front carrying squads of armored troopers in their open beds. He also saw one convoy of five anti tank drones. Each was the size of a four door sedan with two linked chain guns on a turret that scanned the sky and fast jerky arcs. There was a troubling amount of Dead Space on the road between the two units by the sound of it the fighting. Only grown more intense throughout the morning. The crack of small arms fire had been nearly drowned out by the all consuming roar of close support drones in the sky above them. The only noise is to rise above that DIN were the stippling bangs of mortar fire and the pop pop popping of cluster bombs. Firebase Jimenez was about 2 miles back from the new front. It was mainly a staging area for the SDF's Autonomous Artillery division. The AD was made-up of men and mostly drones from all the secular militia groups active in the Dallas area. The firebase itself wasn't well fortified. The only physical defense was a fence topped with razor wire to keep civilians out. That wouldn't be much of a barrier for a determined assault. Until a couple of hours ago, Himenez had been far enough from the front that an assault wasn't considered possible. After an hour of mixed jogging and running, Manny and Reggie took a left onto Park Lane and the fire base came into view. It had been built in the bones of an old apartment complex. Several buildings had been converted into offices and the rest left his barracks space. The apartments were situated across the road from a tall, very thin, parentheses shaped building that looked out over a large field dotted with landing pads. The name top golf driving range was still visible on the side of the building. Several 100 militiamen were hard at work throwing up defenses. Still, glass sheets had been set up to screen a dozen machine gun nests. Further back, soldiers piled sandbags in front of two howitzers. Manny and Reggie weren't the only civilians trying to gain entrance 50 or so people clustered by a checkpoint in the middle of the road, 100 yards ahead of the construction efforts. The checkpoint was new, just a sandbag machine gun in placement, manned by 6 fighters and powered body armor. They were overwatched by a pair of ancient Abrams tanks positioned on either side of the road. The soldiers in the middle checked the documents and let the occasional civilian through. They turned most people back. There were a lot of shouts and violent gestures on the part of the civilians. While many watched, one of the guards raised their rifle up and fired it just to the left of a screaming man's face. He recoiled in pain and fear, clutched his ears and staggered away from the checkpoint. The weight was only about 10 minutes, but with the thudding artillery at their back, each of those minutes felt like an hour. But soon they stood face to face with one of the armored militia folks. Reggie went stiff at once, his pupils the size of dinner plates. He had never seen powered armour up close before. Many couldn't blame the man for being unnerved. The reflective bug eyed ballistic glass of the helmets and humanly broad shoulder armor made the wearers look like cronenbergian guerrilla mantis hybrids. The shortest armored soldier was well over 7 feet tall and almost as broad as two men. Their ginder was impossible to discern, but a feminine voice leapt from the speakers. State your business, she said. If you're looking for shelter, you'll have to head to North Park Center. We don't have room for you. I'm a Manuel Sanchez. Major Peron should have my friend and I on your list. The woman was silent for a little while, and she called up the list. She clucked her tongue between her teeth and the high fidelity Mike and her suit made it sound like she'd done it next to his ear. Well, hell, there you are. Her helmeted head bobbed at them. All right, you're in. Come through quick. You stopped being my ******* problem as soon as you're inside. They made their way towards the actual front gate of the firebase, passing squads of malicious struggling with pescos and setting up firing positions behind the still glass palisade, Manny and Reggie walked past it all into the firebases front gate. They were let in without any fuss, which surprised many a bit, but he wasn't about to question it. On the other side of the gate they found themselves adrift, unescorted and surrounded by pure chaos. There were other civilians inside the walls, huddled in small groups around piles of backpacks. They sat wide eyed and shaking and waited for whatever. Liverance the SDF could provide, soldiers rushed through the clots of humanity in groups of two or three. Often their arms were filled with machinery or paper or even crates of munitions. Everyone's eyes were wide and full of fear. For a while, Reggie and Manny milled around with no real aim. Unable to enter any of the buildings, Manny found them an unclaimed place to sit that looked like it would be easy for Mr Perrone to find. And then they just sat there. At one point, Reggie offered him a protein bar. Manny tried to eat it, but three bites in, he accepted that his appetite just wasn't there. What do I do if Dallas falls? He ran through his finances over and over again, mulling over which European visas he could afford and how long he'd be able to survive in each country. I could make it a year. Maybe 18 months in Croatia. He'd been studying German for the last year, though I can learn Croatian in a year. He tried to convince himself. He also tried to ignore what he'd been leaving behind if he hopped the next flight from Austin to the EU. He didn't want to think about Oscar's wife and child, how they'd get by without their dad's income. He didn't want to think about his own father or the rest of his family and how they'd fare if Austin fell. You can only afford to take care of you here, Manny. It was two hours before Major Peron found them. The older man's skin was a deep sun, charred brown that seemed at odds with his narrow face and thin wire glasses. He had the look of a high school history teacher who'd been transplanted into a war zone. There was something drawn and strained in his expression that spoke of deep exhaustion. His eyes were bloodshot and his nose was swollen, slightly red. Many could remember seeing that same face, a bit younger and wearing AT shirt rather than digicam, at 100 different slumber parties. Mr Peron was Hector's dad. Mr Peron made them kettle corn and let them watch violent. Movies on the family projector. Major parone. Manny had to remind himself. He's major peron. The major favored Manny with a sad smile. Madre de Dios, Emmanuel. It's ******* good to see you. Have you seen your cousin Alejandro? He was with us last night, Manny said before the attack. A pained look crossed the Majora's Face. OK? He nodded and forced a smile back across his lips. I hear you boys need a ride? Yes, Manny said. If you could get us back to Waco. I have enough. Connections in the area to get him. Manny nodded back to the journalist into Austin. And what is your name, Sir? Major peron? Asked the journalist as he extended his hand. Reggie, the Brit responded. Thank you so much for helping us. I'm afraid there's not much I can do right now. The situation is still very fluid. We've set a new defensive line running from the Lakewood crater to Love Field. With any luck, the martyrs have spent the bulk of their strength and will hold them there. And if not? Reggie asked. Mr Peron laughed and scratched his head. Well, if the line breaks then I'd guess our collective pooch is screwed. We'll begin the evacuation if it gets much worse, but right now we're still waiting for convoys of wounded to get back through the lines. He gestured out at the considerable amount of fenced off. Open space in the firebase. This whole place is about to be a big open air hospital. He gave Reggie a severe look. I won't tell you not to record them because quite frankly everyone here is too busy to police that, but I will ask that you showed tact and respect in your documentation. Of course, said Reggie with enough sincerity that Manny believed him all right. He clapped Manny on the shoulder and after a second's pause, embraced him. Hold on out here for a while, I'll try to send some food in a little bit. Manny and Reggie both thanked Major Baron and he trundled off into the old top golf building to do his part in coordinating the defense. So what now? Reggie asked. We wait, said Manny. Three hours passed. More and more wounded men streamed into the base, carried on stretchers and in ambulances and in several cases stacked like firewood on flatbed trucks. The wounded were set up on cots and piles of blankets in the grass and wherever possible, and paved sections of the driving ranges. Old parking lot medics far too few. Medics hustled from soldier to soldier at a frantic, manic, unsustainable pace. For a while there was nothing to do but follow Reggie around while he interviewed the wounded men and women who were stable enough to talk. They all reported shock at the speed and ferocity of the attack their testimonies drove home the fact that this was something new. Tendrils of fear crept up Manny's spine. It was all he could do to keep moving with his journalist. Amen, Reggie said. Look at that fellow. He pointed to a soldier with the top half of his head wrapped in blood soaked bandages. Something about the man's broad and square chin looked familiar. Isn't that one of the men? We met yesterday. Reggie asked the major. Holy ****. Reggie was right. That had to be Deshaun Clarke. Manny ran over to him. As he drew closer, it became clear that Deshaun was an even worse shape than he looked at a distance. His shirt had been ripped open, exposing a muscular chest drenched in blood. 3 white plugs of hardened cellox wound spray were visible across his abdomen. He'd been shot repeatedly and had what looked like a shrapnel wound on the side of his head. At least he's breathing, Manny thought. Major Clark, he said. And to many surprise, the warrior poet stirred many sweet Jesus. Is that you? Deshawn asked in a slurred voice. Yes, Sir, Manny said. You know, I was damn sure you'd been killed. Haven't had all that much time to think about you in the last few hours, of course, what with everyone dying and all. I'm glad you're alive, Manny said. And he was. Major Clark had always been good to him. Do you know what happened to Hamid and Colonel Milgram? Manny asked, before the thought had fully crystallized in his mind. Major Clark tried to lift his head and almost cried out from the sheer agony of the movement. He didn't speak for a few seconds, he just took deep, slow breaths, but he started to whisper. The less sunbeam lightly falls from the finished Sabbath on the pavement here and there. Beyond it is looking down a new made double grave. What? Manny asked, confused Walt actually. Major Clark laughed, winced, and then explained Walt Whitman. That is sorry, imminent death makes me go for the deep cuts. So they're dead, then? Manny asked. Major Clark coughed, and again his lips curled up in an agonized cringe. I think so, he managed to say. I think everyone from the command post is dead. I was out grabbing a smoke when they hit us. Came out of nowhere. Drone artillery, heavy stuff. Whole place lit up like Christmas. To boom, sounded in the distance. Major Clark tensed up. Reggie cringed. To Manny, the whole situation seemed almost too unreal to justify a reaction. Like that, Major, Clark said after I grabbed who I could and tried to save as many men as possible fighting retreat. You know, we linked up with as many fighters as we could, but every time we'd set a line, they'd breakthrough. They had so many damn drones. I've never seen martyrs used drones like that. What do you mean? Reggie asked. Well, they've always had drones, but usually just as you know, defensive aids for when we'd make a push. We've got enough jammers that their hardware was no use in our territory since none of their **** goes autonomous. So what? The journalist asked as he drew in a bit closer. Do you think they've changed their minds on autonomous drones, or is this something else? Major Clark rolled his head just a little. It seemed to be the only gesture he could make without hurting himself. I don't know, kid, he said. Whatever's happening, it's totally new and it's totally ****** us. Major Clark was taken by another coughing fit. This one lasted a long time. Blood bubbled up and out from the corners of his mouth. Manny wanted to call for a medic, but he couldn't see any of them who weren't dealing with patients who were even worse off. Eventually the coughing subsided and Major Clark drifted off into unconsciousness. They sat with him until the night fell and Mr Peron finally came to get them. He looked exhausted and somehow broken. His skin was sallow and so pale it was almost yellow. His uniform was soaked with old sweat stains, and he had two lit cigarettes in his mouth. When he found Manny and Reggie, Manny wasn't sure he'd ever seen the older man smoke. Mr Peron noted his surprise. I've taken up smoking again, he said with a hollow laugh, since I don't expect to survive to the end of the week. That bad? Manny asked. Worse, he shook his head and then seemed to notice. The major. Is that dishon Clark? Yes, Sir, Manny said. Is he? He's alive, and he seems to be stable for now. Major Peron looked relieved. That's one spot of mercy, then. Hopefully we'll get him out in time. On that note, I've confirmed that we've got a convoy of wounded heading out tomorrow AM. As soon as our scouts clear the route, you'll both have a seat in that convoy. Thank you so much, Sir. Reggie started Mr Peron, cut him off. It's no problem, son. Do your job and tell people what's happened here. What are you going to do, Sir? Manny asked. Mr Peron looked into his eyes. He had always had an intense stare. His edge had been evident even when he'd been driving the boys to soccer practice or taking them out for pizza. Now his eyes bored into Manny's heart so deeply that the fixer finally understood what that phrase meant. I'm going to die here, Emmanuel, he said. I'm going to die here like your cousin Alejandro died here because it's the only thing I can do that might protect our home. Many felt an intense urge to look away, to cast his eyes. Down, but he didn't. He held Mr Perona's gaze and braced himself for what came next. What about you? Mr Perron asked. What will you do if they reach Austin? Wait, is that on the bloody table? Reggie interrupted. Mr Peron paused for a moment and considered his words. I don't know, he said. No one does. But the martyrs just broke through at Lakewood. We won't hold Dallas for another day. He pulled Manny into a hug and kissed him on the cheek. When he pulled back, he kept his hands on Manny's shoulders. I've always been proud of you, Emmanuel. I think that what you do here, he nodded to Reggie has value, but there are times when our homelands require more of us. What are you prepared to give for Austin? Many clenched his jaw. I planned to be on a plane out of here in the next 12 hours if possible, but I don't know, Sir, is all. He said. It was hard to meet Mr Perona's eyes. When he did, he was sure the older man saw the guilt in them. Mr Perrone didn't say anything, though. He just LED Manny and Reggie over to where the convoy was assembling and slipped them a pair of MRE's and some bottled water. The best I can do, he said apologetically. He left them at the disembarkation point. Manny's Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month, and now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. There's no luring you in with free. Subscriptions are streaming services that you'll forget to cancel and then be charged full price for. None of that. For anyone who hates their phone Bill, Mint Mobile offers premium wireless for just $15.00 a month. Mint Mobile will give you the best rate whether you're buying one or for a family, and it meant family start at 2 lines. 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I don't have to worry about losing a contact or, you know, bringing swimming glasses or something. With me, everything is just easier. And getting it done was easy too, you know, I went in, I had my consultation, they told me I was a good candidate, and then I went back in a couple of days later about it being about a boom. You know, my eyes were perfect. So LASIK Plus is a leader in laser vision correction in the United States. They have over 20 years in the industry. For more than two million treatments performed if you want to start your LASIK plus journey, you can get $1000 off when treated in September. That's 500 per eye so to schedule your free consultation now. Last clear sight of the man who had helped raise him was of his slumped, sweat stained shoulders trudging back to the firebases command center. They sat there for hours. Neither of them talked much. 1 by 1, the wounded men were loaded carefully into the assortment of old half tracks, buses, and trailers that made-up the convoy. Once they were seated, there was another two hours of wait time before the convoy got moving. Both Reggie and Manny found time to nap, but neither of them were really rested when the dawn broke and the convoy set forward. By the time the ramshackle assortment of trucks and broken soldiers started on its way to Waco, the sound of mortar fire was so constant it had almost become white noise. The small arms fire wasn't as loud, but it was also clearly much closer than it had been when they'd arrived at Firebase Jimenez. As the convoy rolled out onto the old access Rd that led eventually to Waco, a flight of drones roared past them and towards the new front line. Those aren't SDF drones, are they? Reggie asked without actually looking at Manny. His gaze was focused on the two medics. In the back of the truck as they moved from soldier to soldier? No, Manny confirmed. Those are Austin Civil defense forces. The Brit whistled through his teeth. So you think this means the SDF ran through their drones? Could be as all Manny said? The track and its escort limbered through the cracked remnants of the old highway system. The accumulated hangers on civilian vehicles piled high with refugees as they rolled along. The civilians stayed back, leery of the convoys guns but trusting in its presence for protection. By the time the convoy finally left the Dallas sprawl, their tail stretched back to the horizon line. Manny had seen similar sites before, when his parents had fled the DFW area for Austin's relative safety. Here and there, on and in the cars behind them, he saw small figures that had to be children, kids like he'd been fleeing the same city. He'd had to flee for the same basic reason. Many standout memory from that time wasn't the terror of seeing a mortar land for the first time or anything about their flight out of the city at all. It was from the next day at their first refugee camp, when he saw his father. Online for their daily ration of food. A journalist had passed by, taking the sort of pictures Reggie's lapel camera now snapped mindlessly. Manny's dad had been crying, ashamed that he'd needed charity and even more ashamed to have fled the family home. More than anything about that time, Manny remembered how his father had hidden his face from the photographer. The gesture had told Manny more about their new status in the world than anything an adult had actually said. Behind him now were cars full of mothers and fathers and children who were about to have their own searing experiences. Many hated how familiar this felt to him. He hated that for Reggie, it counted as the adventure of a lifetime. Manny looked at the journalist, at the awe and innocent excitement in his eyes, and tried to imagine Reggie's life back home. None of the individual pieces of that life would be new to Manny. His world also had bars and parties and apartment leases and term papers. The thing he couldn't imagine was the sense of security, living life without the constant threat of war. He'd been so close to securing that life for himself if they only waited six months. But they hadn't, and now Manny had a choice to make stand and fight or run with what he had and hope for the best. Many leaned back as much as his precarious seat allowed, and stared out at the burning city that had once been Dallas. Got him, he muttered to himself. I gotta get the **** out of Texas. I'm Colleen Witt. Join me, the host of eating Wall broke podcast while I eat a meal created by self-made entrepreneurs, influencers and celebrities over a meal they once ate when they were broke. Today I have the lovely AJ Crimson, the official Princess of Compton, Asia, kidding and Asia is the professor. We're here on 80 while broke and today I'm going to break down my meal that got me through a time when I was broke. Listen to eating while broke on the iHeartRadio app, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Adoption of teens from foster care is a topic not enough people know about, and we are here to change that. I'm April Dinwoodie, host of the new podcast navigating adoption presented by adopt US Kids. Each episode brings you compelling, real life adoption stories told by the families that live them with commentary from experts. Visit or subscribe to navigating adoption presented by adopt us. Brought to you by the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for children and Families and the AD Council. Hello and welcome to our show. I'm Zoe Deschanel, and I'm so excited to be joined by my friends and castmates, Hannah Simone and Lamorne Morris to recap our hit television series New Girl. Join us every Monday on the welcome to our show podcast, where we'll share behind the scenes stories of your favorite New Girl episodes, reveal the truth behind the legendary game True American, and discuss how this show got made with the writers, guest stars, and. Directors who made the show so special. Fans have been begging us to do a New Girl recap for years, and we finally made a podcast where we answer all your burning questions. Like, is there really a bear in every episode of New Girl? Plus, each week you'll hear hilarious stories like this at the end when he says you got some Schmidt on your face. I feel like I pitched that joke. I believe that. I feel like I did. I'm not 1000% I want to say. That was I I tossed that one out. Listen to the welcome to our show podcast on the iHeartRadio. App, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Chapter 5, Roland. 20 years ago, Camelback Mountain had towered over a wealthy suburb of Phoenix, AZ. Then had come the Civil war power, food, and water shortages made the cities 130 degree summers insufferable for all but the hardiest or most chromed millions, fled for less vicious climates or simply died from exposure and starvation. Now Phoenix was eluded crumbling ghost, but Camelback Mountain still hosted a version of human civilization. ***** *** was a city of roughly 5000. The name had started because the settlements founders, homeless teens thought it was funny. A few 100 orphaned or abandoned kids had settled in the Mcmansions clustered around the mountains, western edge and foothills. They'd scrounged grow lamps and engines and weaponry, and today the denizens of the tow had the strongest city state, between California and the Kingdom of Albuquerque. Roland was their guardian, mind you. They'd never asked him to guard them. The police had been doing quite well, thank you very much. When he'd shown up and built his shack in the middle of their only park, a delegation of armed towens had showed up to politely evict Roland, and he'd been forced to carve off their foreskins as a show of dominance. They'd sent a single negotiator next and worked out a thoroughly beneficial arrangement. Roland would aid in the city's defense in exchange for his now departed Shaq, and twice a year, all the narcotics he could carry home from their harvest. It was an arrangement Roland had enjoyed. He was frustrated that Jim's men had forced him to destroy his beloved hovel, but it was hard for him to be angry all the same. The Sun was out now, and it was early enough that the days heat had yet to set in the Great Red Desert and the carcass of Phoenix stretched out around them. And to Roland's eyes, it was all beautiful. Once Jim had called the fight. A pair of boxy armored Hella transports had flown in another squad of his men. They assembled a brunch spread, complete with a table and two Wicker chairs. Roland hoped his old friend was doing this to show off and not planning an actual meal. The acid twisted Roland's guts into knots and effectively killed his appetite. He was still high enough that the familiar boulders around his home seemed to flex and wobble like great mounds of red Jelly. Jim's face, however, was rock solid. Rowland focused on it while the rest of the world blurred. A towel came into his hands, and he realized a moment later that Jim had handed it to him. Roland wiped the crusted gore from around his shoulder, where the tiny robots in his blood had finished reattaching his arm. It was a messy process that involved a lot of shuffling bad blood out of the skin and sludgy red globs. The globs looked a bit like the boulders now that he thought about it. Jim's Mercs were over by one of the aircraft, getting worked over by a medical team that must have been waiting in the wings this whole time. The acrylic stink of fear wafted off them from 30 feet away. Once the table was up and the spread was set, Roland and Jim sat down to watch the last rays of sunrise turn into boring old daylight. A lackey handed them both steaming mugs of coffee. Roland took his blackened Turkish so thick it was almost pudding. Most humans made it too weak for his taste, but this cup was perfect. He sipped deeply. And the warbly acid lines straightened and grew just a little bit thicker, took forever to teach them how to make it right. Jim said having human orderlies is a bit of a trial. I think there's something about us that breaks their brains just a bit. Jim sipped his coffee and added. I've got a theory about that. By the way, Roland let out a harsh, flimsy exhalation that meant I don't care, Jim continued all the same, sipping his coffee and then launching into a spiel. Mathura is that Homo sapiens just aren't built to acknowledge a higher. Form of life, not one that's flesh and blurred and staring them in the face. Demand and service. I think deep in the human brain there's the race memory of running up against Neanderthals. They were bigger and stronger and faster than humans, but we they still wipe the Neanderthals out. I think humans look at us the same way their ancestors looked at Neanderthals, Roland grunted. Because that was easier than talking, and because he really wasn't listening. His eyes were focused on the shimmering surface of the coffee. Sober his brain. Kept his thermal vision on a different mental track from his color and infrared vision, but while he was tripping they all just sort of blended together into one multi tone massive information. So he stared enthralled as red heat bled off into the white around them. The math of it all was rendered as a beautiful Swatch of colors, some of which weren't even visible to human eyes. Roland lost himself for a moment. If you any other man I'd prick you with a sober stick right now. Jim said, clearly irked. It's been a long time since someone's. Told me. Not ignoring, Roland managed to say. The words came out wet and mushy. He'd taken around to the lung, apparently, and the repair efforts played Hell on his throat. His eyes were still locked on the psychedelic sprawl of color. Lifting off from his coffee, he had to force himself to take another sip. The mild stimulant surge helped him break off his perseveration, and he met Jim, still weirdly solid gaze. Sorry, this coffee is more interesting than your ******** Roland explained. Blame the acid. Jim laughed. The snake tattoos on his torso curled and corkscrewed and simulated excitement. You know, he said. There's a new movement in the posthuman community. Started up in Idaho, one of the intentional communes. They took a pretty strong anti narcotic policy. Apparently. It distracts us from the impotent work we should be doing. **** that, Roland said, and spat on the ground for emphasis. I don't disagree. Jim nodded and produced an enormous and very phallic blunt. He lit it, pulled deep, and passed it over. Roland took a long drag and eased into a slump as the THC did its slow work. So, Jim, Roland said after a few more passes, once the acid and weed had time to push his brain into a hazy new equilibrium. Why are you here? Jim gave an eloquent shrug, popped the blunt out of his mouth, and stared at the curling smoke. Roland stared too, in his eyes was wreathed in a chartreuse black Halo of heat that seemed to almost vibrate near the cherry tip. To catch up, Jim said. And to offer you a job. Job, Roland snorted. I need not your filthy lucre. Look at this wealth that surrounds me and made a broad gesture that encompassed the remains of his hovel. What could you possibly offer? Well, Jim said, for starters, I can replace your hot plate. I think Bigsby broke it with his body. So we'll steal another one, Roland said. What do you really have? I'm gonna guess a few million won't peak your interest. Roll in blue. A fat, wet Raspberry. I don't even care what currency you're talking about. What Google money do me. Not even Cascadian script, huh? Jim asked with a grin. Cascadia roll. It had heard the name, of course, last he remembered the Pacific Northwest's premier independence movement had been agitating to secede from the coastal pact. Is a? Is that a thing now? As of six years ago, Jim said he took a deep pull on the blunt, handed it back to Roland, and exhaled a thick white cloud as he spoke. And they just finished their own civil war, so the values skyrocketing. You really don't get out much these days, do you? Roland's response was another deep gulp of his coffee. Anyway, Jim continued. I know you don't care for cash, but there is something I think you might want and I can buy it back for you if you'll help me out. Wait, buy it back? By what back? Roland recognized the Snakeman smile on Jim's face. He had the vague sense that he'd seen it before, enough that the sight of it set his hackles arise and sparked an itch in his left trigger finger. He took a deep hit from the blunt and handed it over to Jim. The other man took the blunt with his left hand and made a gun shape with the fingers of his right hand. He pantomimed a shot to the head. His lips made a barely audible POW. Memories, Jim said. I know you only playing with half a deck. Maybe less surprised you remember my mug, to be honest. Jim took a final drag from the Blunt, which was barely the length of a thumbnail now, and passed it off to Roland. But science? She's kept right on lurching forward. The last 10 years. There's a neuro team up at MIT. They reckon they've made a breakthrough Alzheimer's Research initially, but they think they figured out how to straight up recover memories from damaged brain tissue. Their tech has reversed a lot of injuries the old science said was permanent. Roland felt a painful tugging sensation in his chest. He thought back to the woman from his dreams with the Damascene teeth. He saw her every few weeks, trapped in some foggy memory or another. Her name felt like it was always on the tip of his tongue. He didn't know what she'd meant to him, but the thought of her twisted his heart into knots. It was madding, not even knowing what she'd been to him or he to her. Roland frowned, turned his head and locked eyes with Jim. You think a bunch of Fed funded school scientists are going to help me? Roland asked. I've got a strong feeling none of the governments on this continent are fans of me. Jim waved a careless hand, lest the issue. He said. Those amped ************* are pragmatists. I've been in and out of the northeast half a dozen times just this year. You do work they value and they ignore a little terrorism. Memories hazy, Roland said. But I know little is an accurate. I think we killed a skyscraper, huh? You don't remember that the diamond building in photo one, 120 floors are rich pigs wallowing in ****? We slipped a bombin during an austerity summit led by the CEO's of the big fall, bugged the conference room so we could hear him scream. When that first blast cut the support beams, it was better than sex. There was a peculiar joy in Jim's eyes. His chest snakes writhed in orgiastic Glee. Roland felt queasy. Roland, Jim added. The **** ** ******* had it coming. Maybe, Roland said. But I know we didn't just kill CEOs. I remember other times. Kids, not kids, Jim insisted aas young enough to take full advantage of Juven the future undying Lords of capital. They had to go. Roland shivered. Even if they did, I'm sort of glad I don't remember it. Jim shrugged, swirled his coffee cup, and stared into it for a minute. If he'd been anyone else, Roland would have been able to read his emotions by the sense coming off of him and the micro expressions on his face. Most post humans were just as easy to read as regular humans. It took a mix of very specific surgeries and a hell of a lot of time spent in practice to hide anything from Roland. It said a lot that Jim had considered the expense worthwhile. Violence is the coin that buys the future, Jim said. There was a time when you explained that to me. I don't remember that conversation, Roland said. But it's been years since I've taken a life. Yeah, a couple of foreskins, one guy's hand. Sure. Sometimes the point needs making. I haven't killed anyone in a long time, though. That's why all the folks you sent to my door are still alive. And I mean to stay on the wagon. Kilian's not one. And on this mission, Jim assured him, just property destruction. I need two or three days of your. Unravelled **** up ******* expertise. Roll inflict a suspicious eyebrow at his old friend's property? He asked. Jim nodded. A couple of guys might need crippling along the way, but no killing. So what's this gig Roland was interested now, in spite of himself? Sabotage? Jim's lips curled up in a feral grin. Over the last few months, we've noticed a substantial buildup among the radical Christian militias in north and Central Texas. We? Roland asked my own organization and the Amphid Central Intelligence Agency. Roland couldn't help but laugh. Remember enough of the old days to appreciate the irony of you working with the CIA. Jim's head cocked just a little to the left. He grimaced. Roland wasn't sure, but he thought his friend might be a little embarrassed and defensive. Anyone who lives long enough becomes a hypocrite, Jim said with a shrug. I'd hope to hold out longer, but their satellite coverage is ******* phenomenal. I'll send you the Intel. He made a flicking gesture towards Roland with his right index finger, and then frowned in annoyance. You might be the last dark brain on this continent, you know that. Roland wasn't sure why he'd disconnected himself from the Internet. It seemed to annoy other people, but he rather enjoyed it. His hind brain had absorbed petabytes of data before he'd severed the link, so he never found himself needing to consult a wiki to remember the equations behind the Coriolis effect or a bullets trajectory. You could have walked from Canada to Venezuela without encountering a plant or animal his distributed mechanical brain couldn't name. The only downside to his situation was that he couldn't keep up with politics or bleeding edge military technology he only gleaned. That sort of information by experience or conversation and being a creepy God, like being who sometimes circumcised trespassers. Roland didn't have many conversations. One of Jim's aides ran up and handed roll in a paper thin tablet. Jim directed him through a dozen satellite images of what looked like vehicle and ammunition depots. Roland's Hind brain recognized that Dallas Rd systems immediately a surge of sense memory hit him fire. So much fire, the smell of it only drowned out by the intense stink of 30,000 people panicking at the same time. Roland felt bullets dig into his flesh. He saw hate in the eyes of the advancing cops, and he felt a corresponding surge of Glee as his brain started to pump out battle drugs. He squeezed his trigger. Roland shook his head, pulled his mind back into the present moment. Jim frowned, but didn't say anything. He just pointed back at the tablet. Roland focused again. It appeared to be a satellite image of a defensive line in Dallas. He noted a large number of military vehicles piled into several parking garages. What's going on here? He asked. Suit carriers, Jim said a couple of dozen of them. Roland shook his head. And possible that'd be enough to support, what, 600 power Armored fighters? Those are nation state numbers. I know the Republic of Texas is a **** show, but there's no way they'd let someone search in militia. Build an army like that in their borders. Maybe not, Jim said. Maybe so. Truth told, I don't care what's parked in those garages. You blow them up, I get paid, and you get your fancy surgery. Roland felt uneasy. The job itself seemed too simple. The kill team Jim had sent to Wake Roland up probably could have done this job with a few reinforcements. It seemed weird that some nutbar extremists could get their hands on that many suits. Roland just didn't trust the whole situation. Jim? He asked. Can you promise me this memory thing will work? **** no, Jim scoffed. I can't even promise you'll survive. This is a bleeding edge mad science operation. The Mcfeters willing to break international law to work on a wanted terrorist. I'm half sure they just want to see what happens when they start poking around your skull. You might be making the worst mistake of your life here, but at least you'll die after blowing up a bunch of gear owned by Christo. Fascist ********. Roland considered for a long moment, then nodded his assent. Alright then, you've convinced me I'm in as long as this stays a sabotage mission. No killing. No killing. Jim agreed. They both stared out at the vacant desert for some time. Roland found himself humming along to a song he couldn't name or even remember hearing. Jim hummed along with him. He put a hand on Roland shoulder that felt good. There was something about human contact that none of the machines in his head could replicate. They sat for a while longer, then Jim squeezed Roland shoulder and stood them for another peaceful wall. Then. Hey everybody, Robert Evans here. I hope you just enjoyed the chapter you listened to. I hope you enjoyed the chapters to come. If you would like to read the text version of this book, either on the web or on your e-reader as an epub, you can find those on the website at So again, the free ad, free epub and the text of every chapter will be on Thanks. Make sure to check out drink champs you're #1. Music podcast on the Black Effect Podcast network, host NOREDJEFN sat down with artists and icon yay, which Vulture called one of 2021's most significant interviews. I literally had to go like Thanos, and I don't want to have to be the villain, but when I went and did the donda thing, yay returned, and everybody had to sit back and watch the real leader. Check out drink champs conversation with yay, and many more legendary artists each and every Friday on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your. Favorite shows? The Gangster Chronicles Podcast is a weekly conversation that revolves around the underworld, criminals and entertainers to victims of crime and law enforcement. We cover all facets of the game. Gangster Chronicles podcast doesn't glorify promote illicit activities. We just discussed the ramifications and repercussions of these activities because after all, if you play gangster games, you are ultimately rewarded with gangster prizes. Our heart radio is number one for podcast, but don't take our word for it. Find the Gangster Chronicles podcast on. By heart radio app or wherever you get your podcast. Hello, I'm Minnie Driver and on my podcast mini questions, I put together a little experiment by ask trailblazers across different disciplines the same 7 questions, questions about the inflection points in their life, what they like least about themselves and what relationship has defined love for them. This season I'm coming back with new Trail Blazers like blonde vocalist Debbie Harry. I did have a revelation. It was at CBGB's. As a matter of fact, I was waiting for the audience to give it to me. Give it me. Then I realized that I had to make them. I had to command them. Artists and creative juggernaut Goldie and I walk up to the mountain I High club just being in that environment and seeing life and death in front of you, right in front of you. And I got there and scream and cry and and and laugh and I find that being the happiest and many more. Join me as we continue this exploration on season 2 of many questions on the iHeartRadio App Apple Podcasts. 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