SW10: December 2010 #1: Cauldron Book II, Part 1

Scott Eiler seiler at eilertech.com
Sun Feb 20 19:18:30 PST 2011

Commentator: Summer Morgan for the United States Insight Battalion.


What Has Gone Before. By Katerina Katzmann.

Summer Morgan and her friends Holly, Liz, and Margaret Jean are superhuman 
agents for the United States. Last month, Summer and Holly dealt with rioters 
and militias in Nashville, Tennessee. Since then, they've all been on station 
there to provide reports on urban unrest.


United States Insight Battalion
Operations Report
Thursday, December 9, 2010

President Obama dialed in to our briefing today. The President stated, he still 
believes in his policy to let all Americans come to consensus without the 
intervention of national forces. So we had a national summary to cover the 
outcome of that policy among the United States Intelligence Battalion since we 
started our mission.

In Massachusetts last month, religious militias were assembling. Jenn and 
Cherell saw that. But local gun club members told them, "No, you don't mess 
where we live." Anywhere 30 miles from Boston, there are gun clubs. The 
President's policy there does not need intervention at present.

In Florida last month, Russian gangsters were a concern. They've agreed to work 
with authority - or at least under their radar. But now, there is new unrest. 
The state depended on a U.S. governmental program to give extra sunlight to the 
citrus crop. The program failed. (Citation) Florida's economy is about to 
collapse. Our agents Norma and Tanya are now watching Miami. The President's 
policy may need intervention soon.

I gave the report on Nashville. The rioting ended last month. A group named the 
Nehemiah Covenant has helped quiet things down. Among other things, they've 
publicized a guide to urban survivalist cuisine. People eat stewed nettles here 
now. There's even nettle sauce in our hotel box lunches now. (Back home in 
Seattle, I hear people are eating slugs. God, we're eating weeds and worms like 
North Korea does.)

Nashville is still an assembly point for militiamen. We've been watching them 
and looking for their sponsors. I'm not ready to call for intervention yet, but 
we may need it soon.

Outside our watch areas, Yon reported that Tucson, Arizona might be the place to 
watch next, due to contention over border security. U.S. citizens are trying to 
go south from there to help harvest Mexican crops! Mexico did not accept the 
U.S. crop forecasts which led to U.S. crop failure. That does not mean Mexico 
has crops near Tucson, but people still come through there. Mexico says they 
might impose cross-border security like the U.S. imposed on Canada in 2007. 
(Citation) So Liz and Margaret Jean were going to be transferred to Tucson.

Then the President gave us status. Ellipsis had returned! I'd heard he was in 
prison in Hell, or wherever Satanic Mayor Anvernacht puts his enemies when he 
captures them. But Ellipsis reappeared in west Australia two days ago. Other 
heroes were with him. The President considered this hopeful. But I think 
Ellipsis is setting up his own survivalist compound.

There'd also been a new incursion of the Fine Green Paste (Citation), but it was 
gray now. At least something other than Ellipsis was adjusting to life on our 
famine Earth.


After the President signed off, Yon gave us our orders for the day. Liz and 
Margaret Jean would prepare to be shipped to Tucson. Holly and I would continue 
surveillance around town, concentrating on the cement plant which doubled as the 
major militia facility.

Outside the meeting, Holly and I decided: We had just one day left to get 
something before Liz and Margaret Jean left. It was time to do stuff, not just 

Our best lead was the car Holly saw last month, going to the meeting at the 
sports pub. (Citation) USIB traced its license plate... to the Tennessee state 
motor pool. The car matched several in the pool, as far as we could tell without 
vehicle ID, but the state's records didn't have that license number. So we had 
proof of someone using a fake plate, but we didn't know who. We'd gotten 
permission to stick tracers on all the cars. One tracer had just been disabled. 
That meant, when we saw the car, we'd have legal cause to run the plates and 
detain the driver! That doesn't sound like much, but it's better than nothing. 
Real detective work is boring.

But there are things that help make our work more exciting. In USIB, we can call 
in live satellite imagery! It doesn't always work; the satellites aren't always 
in the right place. But today we got 90% reliable images for Nashville! Good enough.


Animal husbandry specialists were having a conference at Opryland, about three 
miles east of downtown. Nashville didn't actually have the Opryland amusement 
park any more, but it still had a conference center near the new Grand Old Opry 
building. The conference center was convenient for the specialists to talk about 
how not to let the livestock herds go extinct. And it was pretty secure, almost 
surrounded by a bend of the river. So they hadn't called off the conference 
after the riots last month.

We stayed at base and tracked our car to the conference. When it stopped, USIB 
HQ people kept tracking while we went to look in person.

By the time we got there, the car had moved half a mile east. It was at an 
unoccupied old brick mansion. There was a van there too, but it was already 
driving out a back entrance, back toward the conference. Here at the mansion, 
people were unloading a body out of the trunk of the car!

Since last month, our teams had been equipped with bomb sniffers. Holly said, 
"Bomb in the van!" She had the sniffer and our EMP gun which took out the last bomb.

I said, "Winter. Take the car and go get them. Wait till it parks, then get the 
good shot."

"Summer! What about you?"

"I'll be good here. I sent the distress message, so they know we're here and 
there's trouble. Now go!"

Holly went. I stayed and watched the people dig a grave for the body in the 
garden. With only myself to worry about, I finally remembered: USIB doesn't try 
to save people, just watch and warn. What had I gotten Holly into?

Then my suit told me, an EMP device had gone off in the area. I was pretty sure 
it was Holly's. If it had been anyone else's, it would have blasted the whole 
area and my suit wouldn't even be working. So Holly got her target.

But then the body next to the grave blurred - and ran at me! Aw, crap, I'd only 
assumed it was a dead body! Instead it was an ambush!

... To Be Continued.


Author's Notes:

I declared the story complete at the previous installment. And it *is* a 
complete story, though admittedly only of novelette length and depth. But I'll 
admit that story has a lot of open ends. So it's time to tie some up. If I do it 
up right, the whole thing could be a novel.

Occasionally I get a visit from a story idea which kicks down the door and 
demands entry. This time, it was a dream about Holly - Story Holly, not Real 
Holly. Obviously the time to continue Holly and Summer's story had come.  I'm 
finally ready to take up the story again, probably four episodes after this, 
hopefully one every two weeks.

After discussion with the very few people who actually read my stories (which 
would be *you*, RACC), I've decided to ignore the recommendations on what to 
call this story. This story is therefore not Cauldron Part 5, an appendage to a 
previously complete story. This is Cauldron II Part 1, the start of a new story.

Still, the story's at http://www.eilertech.com/stories/2010/cauldron5.htm, with 
web links in all the places you see "Citation".

(signed) Scott Eiler, February 2011.

(signed) Scott Eiler  8{D> -------- http://www.eilertech.com/ ---------

Only their myths concerned peace and contentment, and that in such a
coercive, sullen package it was obvious that the Earth humans resented
the very idea.

- from "Passing" by Elaine Radford, Aboriginal SF, May/June 1987.

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