Atomic Age

Tales of Damocles p. 2
12/23/66: The Chessman

iPhone_pictures_267.jpgThomas still smiled as he remembered their faces. They must have thought he would say no when they asked him to come aboard. How could they have known he had dreamed of this? He studied Russian and Vietnamese. His father had devoted his life to being a Patriot. Thomas wanted to do the same. He grew up in the shadow of power in his hometown of Washington D.C. The row houses in Georgetown afforded him a comfortable life growing up. He saw that patriotism could provide a good life, and he instinctively understood he had the power to help. He had a hard time making friends, and generally wanted to be left alone. But the opportunity to help his nation, and use his abilities to make a difference, was too good to pass up. He often found he got along better with his parents’ friends than with his own peer group.

He was told to report to Agent Kiruk in Baghdad, and would get his orders from there. His plane landed at the airport, and his driver and assigned interpreter were waiting for him. The minds of both were littered with arabic words, and reading minds did him no good if he couldn’t understand the thoughts. He was able to glean some English from his interpreter, but the majority of the thoughts were unknowable. He decided he might try to access that part of his mind, and see if there was a way to unlock that knowledge of language or some other means of accessing another’s mental being. It seemed reasonable enough. As he grew older he had learned a great many things, and felt his gifts were almost like Christmas morning. The potential of his mind seemed almost limitless, and he had only begun sifting through his thoughts and physiological thought processes-his brain waves. Like the game of Chess he loved so much, he found the best way forward was to analyze and consider different approaches to an objective. He stirred from his thoughts, a frequent refuge, to find he had arrived at a small home in a suburb.

The house was small, and one of many in this cluster of houses. His interpreter led him inside, and gave him a number which Thomas could use to call him. He also handed Thomas a sealed manila envelope marked Top Secret. Thomas thanked the older man named Abu, and closed the door. He found some water in a pitcher within a old refrigerator, and poured himself a glass. As he opened the envelope, he read about procedures and protocol for Blackfoot’s strike team. Damocles was creating individual autonomous teams that would operate independent of one another. Blackfoot would speak with the voice of the CIA, and the team would follow his orders. That was fine with Thomas. He was happy to have someone he could talk with give his orders. His thoughts confirmed he was a well meaning and competent leader. Thomas could follow him. He sat down on a small wooden rocking chair, drank his water, and continued reading. It seemed he would be notified when he was needed. In the meantime, he would wait. Plenty of time for Chess.

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Tales of Damocles p. 1
12/23/66: Blackfoot's Team

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The smell of cigarette smoke filled the small office. Two large fans were turned up to high to try to cool the room. It wasn’t working. On this unseasonably warm day in December, the daytime desert sun was oppressive. There were a few locals who came through the small office on the outskirts of Baghdad, and they seemed unaffected. For the Americans, the sun was baking the occupants where they sat, making the temperature much warmer inside than out. If it weren’t for the cursed sand and confidentiality, the federal agent might have suggested they do their work outside.

Instead, Esther hammered away on the old military issue typewriter. Whenever she stopped to adjust the roller, she would take another drag from her cigarette. The woman hailed from Piscataway, New Jersey, and her accent was as thick as it was out of place in this desert metropolis. Her desk was covered with papers, envelopes, ashtrays and a monochrome picture of President Kennedy. She wore her army uniform, unkempt and below standards. As far as the agent was able to tell, Esther didn’t seem as though she cared one bit. she wiped the sweat from her brow, let out of heavy sigh, and looked as she was about to begin typing once more when she stopped.

“So, why New Orleans?”

The Blackfoot Indian looked up from the files spread open in front of him. He was 10-15 years younger than Esther, but he spoke with authority. He was the commanding officer of this operation, even if it currently consisted of four people and didn’t exist anywhere outside of these walls and the Pentagon.

“Why what? Why was I stationed there? Orders told me to go there. I didn’t choose that.”

Esther took another drag of her cigarette. “Fine. Be that way. You know, I didn’t just get this assignment because of my typing speed and girlish good looks, sweetie. I know how these things work. You fed types, especially you big shot fed types, you get to pick your station. But if you want to play all coy with me, that’s fine. Suit yourself.”

The Indian agent chuckled. “I passed through before Korea. Nice place. Besides, I like shrimp.”

“Didn’t they have shrimp in Montana?” Esther took another puff of her cigarette, and exhaled a long breath of smoke.

His eyes moved to meet hers, without lifting his head from his reading. He wasn’t sure he liked his secretary asking so many questions, and knowing so many answers. He couldn’t decide if she was a risk, or just nosy. He decided on the latter.

“Sure they had shrimp. It’s just not as good in Montana. How’s that report coming along?” The agent hoped his subject change would get them both back on track.

“It’s fine sweetie. Almost done. Not sure why you are going to so much trouble for the cover story. Thought Damocles position was to keep other governments informed?”

“General Arif is an empty shirt, just a puppet for the Revolutionary Command Council. I don’t trust these guys. If President Kennedy tells me to fill them in, I will. In the meantime, I want to keep everything nice and quiet.”

“Nice and quiet. Got it. Unless Sergeant Porter or Ms. Ortego walk through that door, we are just a supply depot outfit. Any idea when they are supposed to get here?”

“Evangeline was taking care of some personal matters before flying here.” Agent Kiruk didn’t feel the need to share that Evangeline and her mother were having some separation anxiety. It took quite a bit of convincing to bring Evangeline on board. Her pay tripled, and housing was provided for the family. They got a nice remodeled home in Lafayette for her mother, and made arrangements for family to come into town to stay with her while Evangeline was on assignment in Iraq. Still, Evangeline was reluctant. The woman had a heart of gold, and was good people. The agent didn’t have any illusions that their other assignments would afford them so much preparatory time. Hopefully they could get the rest of these matters ironed out. There was only so many people floating around with the ‘talents’ that he needed. Agent Kiruk trusted her, and was willing to accomodate her to get her working with the team. He hoped it wouldn’t backfire.

“And what about that Sergeant? Not that it’s my place to question orders, but I don’t understand what a blind disabled vet is going to be able to do at some old dig site.”

“Best not to judge a book by it’s cover. That goes double for Sgt. Porter. At any rate, I heard his plane landed about an hour ago. I expect him any moment.”

“Good. Maybe he’ll feel like talking more than you, Agent Kiruk.” She smiled, took one last drag off her cigarette before putting it in the ashtray. Her fingers started hammering once more on the typewriter, and Agent Kiruk resumed his reading. For the moment, he was grateful for a little quiet.

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Winter of Discord
Prologue II

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New Orleans, Louisiana circa 1966 pictured above


Lafayette, Louisiana
December 18th, 1966

Agent Kiruk was to meet with Proxy 6 at a safe house in the swamps of Louisiana. He was dressed the part, looking to blend in with the other locals. Agent Kiruk had not yet met one of the Proxy agents, and was anxious to see how they performed in the field. The overwhelming number of Damocles agents were exactly like him- agents who had been recruited from a variety of federal agencies to create the new top secret branch. Agent Kiruk had seen action in Korea, and volunteered for the assignment in exchange for a higher grade of pay, and some additional ‘enhancements’. He was forced to make do with his wit and experience, and his natural physical gifts. unlike some of the other swords (the nickname for agents of the Damocles Agenda), he didn’t resent the Proxy agents. He was no fool. He’d seen enough footage of Paragon and American Angel. There were going to be times where you needed to fight fire with fire. He wanted some of that fire on his side. And the Proxy agents were recruited, trained, screened. Most of the AGI they would be working with would be involved by fate or chance alone. They weren’t trained, and would likely be unprepared.

When Proxy 6 arrived, he wasn’t disappointed. The young girl was small in stature, but when she made the 30+ foot jump to clear the water, he realized these agents were as good as advertised. He was a bit unsettled by the thought of one of these agents going rogue, but he put that aside. No sense in borrowing trouble. Damsat had picked up a high level AGI presence in New Orleans, and it was not moving. They flew in Proxy 6 to assist, and he would debrief her on her contacts with two AGI’s from six months ago.


Bethesda, Maryland
National Institutes of Health
December 17th, 1966

Samuel Parker was a student at the University of Memphis. The first time he had been to the nation’s capital was six months ago for a protest regarding civil rights. His friend Jessica Vanderwal was caught up in a bizarre disturbance he still couldn’t completely understand. She fell into a coma, and had not awoken. six months later, he returned to DC to check on her condition. The nature of her coma remained a mystery, and she was kept at NIH for close observation.

Samuel got off the bus, wishing the bill that had been passed earlier that year to create a transit system and subway like New York’s had already been in place. It was a maze navigating the city and it’s suburbs. Memphis was a large enough city, but it was a different sort of place from Washington.

He could of course just ran. Samuel was what was referred to in the papers as a Mutant. A mutant was anyone who was different than a ‘normal’ human. Some were born with their abilities, some were made. Samuel was one of the former, and had made sure to keep his abilities a closely guarded secret. He took to wearing sunglasses, hats and overcoats to try to conceal his identity. And whenever possible, he avoided using his gifts. Last summer a lot of people were in danger, and he did what he always did. He acted to try to help people. It’s why he was so involved in the Civil Rights movement, and why he tried to help Jessica. In the end, it didn’t matter. His best friend died when he was younger, and now Jessica was in a coma she couldn’t wake up from.

Two men in black suits, black ties, and black sunglasses were waiting for him when he got off the bus. They took him into a small room where another young man, just a couple years younger than himself, was waiting with two men in black of his own. He instantly recognized the man as a bystander during the protests. He couldn’t tell exactly what this man’s gifts were, or even what his name was. When the agents finally convinced him to share his name, the man did it where Samuel couldn’t hear him. The stranger certainly wasn’t known for his charm. All he knew was that he had a knack for getting inside other people’s heads. As far as Samuel was concerned, that was one of the scariest mutations out there. Today though, once more, fate brought them together.

The agents explained that Jessica had woken in the middle of the night, and was on the run. They explained that before the summer, Jessica was a normal human- but after the coma, she was a high level AGI. AGI was the Feds’ name for mutants, and according to them, she was as powerful as any they’d tracked save perhaps American Angel herself. Because Samuel and the other kid, who finally identified himself as Thomas (not Tom), had been present during the episode that created Jessica, they wanted their help to track her down. This was Samuel’s friend. Of course he agreed. And despite Thomas’ chilly disposition, he seemed to want to help as well. The men were given a driver, a car, and a general direction. They drove all night to the southeast when Jessica finally stopped.


New Orleans, Louisiana
Louisiana Museum of Modern History
Evening of December 18th, 1966

Thomas and Samuel made their way to Jessica’s satellite signature, which appeared to be at the site of a local museum. Unfortunately, it was the Smithsonian where Jessica fell into her coma. The exhibit that day? The same traveling Mesopotamian artifacts that were now in New Orleans.

Waiting for them was Proxy 6, the super soldier who handled the crisis in Washington 6 months ago. With her was another Damocles agent, this one an Indian of some kind. Thomas and Samuel were told to expect two Damocles agents to meet them, so they were prepared for that. Apparently they also brought along two other mutants as well. One was some disabled vet from ‘Nam, with his eyes covered by a bloody bandage. They couldn’t figure out what that poor sould could do to help. The other was a black woman who glowed like a light bulb. All were there for the same reason. Jessica was inside, and she was dangerous.

The six stumbled upon another explosion- exactly like the one in the Smithsonian that put Jessica in this position originally. There, Jessica was talking like a stranger- like from another world. Her voice was much deeper, and she used words that Jessica had never muttered before. Eventually, she disappeared- the chase would not be resolved this day. A group of black clad, red scarf and beret wearing people showed up wearing snacke jewelry. They eventually discovered the symbol to be that of a new cult- the Cult of Tiamat. According to the cult, a dark god was coming to Earth, and bringing a lot of bad news with him.

The burning museum was obliterated as a result of the girl that they learned later was named Evangeline. The cult members were killed in the blast, but Jessica was not discovered until a week later in Iraq. Proxy 6 was reassigned, but Agent Kiruk would be heading the investigation, and try to uncover what the Snake Jessica was up to. Evangeline, referred to as Nova, and the poor Vet who could turn into a moster was now called the Reaper. The three were headed to the desert as part of Damocles. The two innocent mutants? They were under a lot of pressure to sign up. Samuel and Thomas decided they would think about it. Apparently the fate of the world was at stake. And a decent paying job. The least they could do was think it over.

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Summer of Discontent
Prologue

Museum_of_History_and_Technology.jpgThat summer afternoon in 1966 was hot, but it didn’t stop the protest from drawing a sizable crowd. Many students from around the country converged on the National Mall in Washington to show their support for voting freedoms for all. It hadn’t rivaled the 1963 March and Martin Luther King Jr.’s stirring “I have a dream speech”. Still, the organizers were quite pleased with the turnout, and hoped to sustain their efforts to insure that Civil Rights Legislation was successful. In addition to the students, many other dedicated parties lent their voices to the movement, and news cameras were rolling to capture the event.

This was the Damocles Agents’ worst fear. President Kennedy had secretly created the Damocles Agenda within the Central Intelligence Agency to monitor the alarming rise of genetically altered individuals. The existence of this had to be kept secret, much like Roswell, for the security and tranquility of the free world. Already the term ‘mutant’ had slipped into the public consciousness. It was impossible to close Pandora’s Box; the world was awakened and all too aware of the existence of altered genetic individuals. The intent was to limit the world’s awareness regarding the scope of this phenomenon. Life magazine captured the beautiful American Angel in her daily life, as well as her more public displays of heroism. None was more public than her last minute heroics at saving the President from assassination that day in Dallas in November of 1963. America knew her, and loved her. They also knew of the golden tyrant from the Soviet Union, Paragon. Outside of those isolated cases, the world remained ‘normal’ to most people around the globe. The news cameras threatened to unravel the lie.

For starters, the Damocles Agenda had been creating their own chemical altered genetic individuals (AGI). The Proxy project was in full swing, and while the serum was still radically dangerous, there were volunteers who continued to agree to participate. As of the protest, there had been six categorically successes. In fact, Proxy 6 was on scene to try to help limit the disaster. She was a young girl, but a quick study. An AGI incident had been reported in Silver Spring, and Proxy 6 was sent to contain it. The AGI was freakishly strong as well as fast, and fled the scene by car. The Damocles agent followed, but the woman found her way directly into the protest. Worse, it became clear that two other AGI’s were on scene as well. Proxy 6 categorized the other two with little resistance, and the primary threat, code named Amazon, was subdued.

Network News was irritatingly efficient as usual. The disturbance was caught on camera, complete with car doors and fireworks. Luckily, technology of the day prevented the identities being known. The footage was grainy, and captured from afar. By the time reporters fought through the crowd, the incident had ended. The only identity confirmed was that of Amazon, one Ms. Linda Hawkins. It was unfortunate, but the Proxy agent’s identity remained protected, as did the other two. One had abilities that were only suspected, not confirmed. The second had the foresight to wear a fedora and sunglasses. Whether that was luck or not was irrelevant. It controlled the damage.

As often seems the case, outside factors conspired to make the Intelligence operation more difficult. A small fire broke out at the new Museum of History and Technology as they hosted a brand new exhibit of ancient artifacts from Mesopotamia. The fire itself was of small consequence. One artifact was completely destroyed, several others damaged by smoke and shattered glass. There were no fatalities, and only one injury- a student from the protests named Jessica Vanderwal. Yet the girl’s coma persisted, unexplained. The exhibit moved on, and was on tour somewhere in out west. Nothing else came of it.

Since that summer afternoon, things were quiet. Two more Proxy agents were in the field, and isolated AGI events were contained with no fanfare. Damocles kept the three subjects under observation. One remained in a secure facility within Level 20. As the headquarters of Damocles, this was dangerous, but unavoidable. The technology simply didn’t exist to keep her detained anywhere else. The other two caused no further disruptions, and continued their lives without interference from Damocles. President Kennedy’s Swords remained vigilant. They watched, and they waited.

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