Eveline's Strangest Journey Ch. 30
Two days after Eveline's defeat of Joe's Towing, Eveline left Strickland's house to go for a hike with Lance. Almost immediately after they left, Strickland received a text from Nancy.
I'm on my way over. I'm not alone. Get ready to fly east. Passing by to pick you up in five minutes. Text Eveline and your player Jenny and tell them you're dealing with a family emergency and you'll be back tomorrow afternoon. Nothing more than that. Hope you know what not to tell them. Leave your cellphone at home to charge. Don't bring anything with you.
Strickland took a deep breath. Fly east with Nancy, on a moment's notice, and don't bring anything. She barely had time to send the two texts to Eveline and Jenny and plug in her phone before a non-descript SUV with tinted windows pulled up in her driveway. A guard got out of the passenger side and opened the back door.
She entered the vehicle to join Nancy in the back seat. Both women were casually dressed, having been pulled away from their Saturday morning routines with no warning. Apart from saying hello to each other, they were silent.
The driver pulled out of Strickland's driveway. As soon as their vehicle turned the corner, two other SUV's joined it, one in front and one in back. The driver pressed a button and two small flags popped up on the hood. Strickland noticed that the license plate in the vehicle in front of her had flipped and was replaced with a diplomatic plate, and that vehicle was also displaying flags.
The motorcade by-passed the main entrance of the Tri-City International Airport and entered a secure area for corporate jets. The private jet from the WAC was waiting, surrounded by guards and more SUV's. The vehicle with Strickland and Nancy pulled next to the jet. As soon as it stopped, guards opened both doors and ordered the women to get out.
The naked, collared servant who had accompanied the two women on their previous trip approached them and knelt. She had a military laundry bag in her hands. She held it up.
"Take off all your clothes and put them in here. Your stuff will be returned to you when we come back."
Nancy and Strickland exchanged glances. Before they had the chance to show any hesitation, the servant added:
"You are women currently serving at the pleasure of the Supreme President. You know that clothing is prohibited."
The two guests knew better than to say anything. They stripped as fast as they could, even though they were surrounded by 20 African guards, drivers, and service technicians. As soon as they were naked, they stood quietly with their hands at their sides, struggling to resist the temptation to cover themselves. The young servant stood up, took the bag from Nancy, knelt in front of a man in a suit, and handed the bag to him. He snapped his fingers and she immediately got back on her feet.
"We're leaving. Get on the plane."
They sat next to each other in very comfortable seats. The servant and guards took their seats as well. The jet was in the air minutes later and speeding towards the east coast and the Atlantic Ocean. The servant stood up and handed the passengers menus. While the guests were trying to decide what to eat, the servant passed out meals to the guards.
As they were eating, Strickland finally broke the silence.
"I thought... I thought... they weren't gonna make us strip until we landed on the other side."
"They've tightened up on that since our last trip. Now, women with any connection to the government are prohibited from wearing any clothes at any time. That goes for schools, banks, universities, utilities, public transportation, you name it. No clothes. No jewelry. Definitely no make-up. Stark naked except for shoes, and even shoes only when it's really necessary. You and I are obviously connected to the government, about as connected as we can be. So, it's no clothes for us as well."
"But I really don't get it. Why...?"
"It's Comandante Foxtrot's way of rejecting the values of both the West and the Middle-East. He's very 'in your face' about it too. The UN and the Nile Caliphate are throwing fits over what is going on with the whole clothing thing, which is only making him more determined to push hard on the stripping. It's sort of a declaration of independence from the rest of the world, breaking with the recent past and turning to the ancient past. It's precisely because the colonial regimes and the post-colonial governments prohibited women to be naked, it's now mandatory. It's abolishing the old taboos and putting in new ones."
"... and what about that Sun worshiping he's trying to set up?"
"Oh yes. It's definitely a religious thing too, with his new Sun Cult. Up until now, all the religions coming in from Europe or the Middle East had a big thing against nudity. Cover-up for God. Cover-up for God. They didn't agree on much else, but they did agree on that. Cover up for God. Well, the way Comandante Foxtrot sees it, the only Superior Force in the Cosmos is the Sun, and for the Sun, the only way to show humility is to be uncovered. At least for women."
"OK, and why not men, too?"
"I'm guessing it's because he's a man and doesn't want to look at other men. But that's just my guess. I don't know, there's a probably security part of it too. Military rule, the National Police, armored guards, all of them needing to carry equipment, and so-forth."
Strickland suddenly went quiet. She realized that probably everything they had just said was being recorded. Nancy was not as concerned. Later, after they had returned to the US and had some privacy, Nancy would explain that she had not said anything that Comandante Foxtrot hadn't said himself through his many speeches and mandates. She was simply explaining the logic behind why the WAC regime was doing what it was doing, without passing judgment.
The two naked passengers finished their meal just as the jet crossed the African coastline. Nancy looked out the window: "Looks like we're flying over what used to be Senegal."
As she stared out the window at the Niger River, Nancy pondered all that she had learned about Comandante Foxtrot's past; what had turned him into what he was. Nancy was a businesswoman. Part of her profession and her responsibility to Emerald Empire involved knowing as much about her customers as possible, especially her most important one.
The western news media could not fathom the ruler's brutality. However, within the circumstances of his empire and the internal logic of the "Man of Action", as he always called himself, Comandante Foxtrot's behavior made perfect sense. His obsession was to unite all of the people living under his control into a single nationality and build a super-state. The new society would be unified in every way imaginable, through language, culture, and, most importantly, a single national religion: the Sun-worshiping Cult.
Comandante Foxtrot wanted to transform his part of the world. He thought big: the total rebuilding of society. He had to make sure no one stood in his way. He was very aware that life was short and that, at best, he had about 40 years remaining in the Realm of the Living to re-shape reality. He had to move quickly to push away as many obstacles as possible, so he could move on to confront others. There simply was no time for debate or dealing with opposition. There could be no tolerance for any ambition other than his own vision of the future. Tribal conflicts, religious conflicts, criminal groups, and drug traffickers were all handled the same manner. The law under Comandante Foxtrot's regime was very simple. Everyone would get along with their neighbors, keep the peace, and support the "unified march to the future". Anyone who didn't agree faced a horrible death.
The second trip to the WAC started out like the first one, except that Nancy and Strickland didn't have to get undressed because upon landing because they were already naked. They stood in the hot sun, surrounded by four Amazon female guards. The servant knelt in front of a uniformed official. She leaned forward and stretched her arms out in front of her, touching her forehead to the ground. Her knees were spread and her sphincter and vulva were on lewd display to everyone standing behind her.
Nancy took a breath. OK... that's new: they weren't doing that before. That's the way prisoners in Danubia kneel. I wonder if that's where he got it from. Hypocritical fucker. Here he's saying he doesn't want any foreign influence, but he's making his servants kneel like Danubian criminals.
She didn't share her thoughts with Strickland. There was more important problem to worry about. The coach was trying to control herself, but having a hard time of it. In spite of the scary situation she and Nancy were in at the moment, she was totally aroused at the sight of the enormous powerful women assigned to guard them. Her eyes were hungrily scanning their bare bodies and flawless oiled skin. If Strickland's weakness was so obvious to Nancy, there was no doubt the Africans had noticed as well.
As the guests were escorted to the bathing area, the male official in charge of the group kept glancing at Strickland and talked quietly into a cell phone in an obscure local language. He repeated the word "dubat-dubat" several times, which Nancy would later learn roughly translated to "I understand and will comply with what you want".
Sure enough, when the US women entered the bath area, the guard who had shaved Strickland on the previous trip was waiting for her. Strickland fully understood what was going on, but she couldn't help herself. They entered the bath and Strickland submissively kissed and caressed her hostess. This time the session was not cut short.
The room was surrounded by curtains, and from there Nancy was forced to watch. They female guard escorting Nancy firmly gripped her shoulders to immobilize her. She thought to herself: I wonder if she'd be capable of snapping my collarbone if they told her to.
Strickland's guard sat calmly on the edge of the pool while the coach put her face between her legs. The American was desperate and shameless. She kissed the younger woman all over her body, concentrating on her large breasts and ample bottom. Every so often the guard exchanged glances with another woman quietly standing in a dark corner of the room, who silently guided her with subtle finger gestures and by nodding or shaking her head.
The guard put Strickland over her lap like a naughty child and fondled her until she climaxed. It was as undignified as it could possibly be.
Nancy was infuriated at Strickland and terrified by the situation. Clearly she was being set up for blackmail. As soon as they were alone, Nancy was going to lay into that idiot. She was really going to let her have it, and...
No. No. I get it now. That's exactly what they want, for me to go off on her for being so stupid. They want me to be pissed at her. They want us to fight. That's why they're making me watch, to drive a wedge between us. Fine. I'm not playing along. The coach and I need each other. I refuse to fight with her. At least not over this. She's gonna be embarrassed enough as it is. I'm not gonna add to it.
Two guards cleaned up Strickland after her sexual adventure was over. She was badly shaken by what had just happened, how she had so totally lost control over her actions. She was exhausted, disoriented, and humiliated at the knowledge that everyone in Comandante Foxtrot's government knew about her weakness. She was dreading what Nancy would have to say. She couldn't look Nancy in the eye. In as quiet a voice as possible, Nancy admonished her:
"Pull yourself together, Coach. So you like big African women. Great. I get it. But you need to pull yourself together in the next 30 seconds and have your wits about you. Nothing's gonna happen to us. I need you, and the WAC needs us both."
The naked guests and their equally naked escorts walked through the ornate colonial palace towards the hallway that led to the annex where the Comandante had his throne room. Nancy continued:
"I will do the talking. I know more about what's going on here than you. But you need to respond to whatever he says with enthusiasm. When he gives an order, the only words that you need to say are: 'to hear is to obey, Supreme President.' But you've got to say that. Each and every time he tells you to do something. You've got to say that."
Nancy's confidence took a big hit when they entered the hallway that led to the annex. The palace had been the same, but along both sides of the hallway were newly-installed shelves, running from the floor to the ceiling, full of gold-plated skulls. The hallway was illuminated by gas fires that highlighted all those empty golden eye-sockets. Nancy drew a deep breath and tried to keep her voice steady.
"You teach algebra. Any thought on how many?"
Strickland scanned the corridor and did the calculation in her head.
"Well, let's not add to the collection. Remember, when we go in there, put your hands behind your back and follow my lead."
When they entered the Fire Chamber, the two guests stood quietly surveying the scene ahead of them. The Supreme President was at his throne, surrounded by 30 naked collared women. They were his favorites of the moment, all of them extremely attractive and college-educated. They were black, but none of them had been born in Africa. They had been "repatriated" from around the world: the US, Brazil, the Caribbean, Europe. As the Supreme President put it: "a man of action like myself deserves to be indulged with the finest imports."
With a single clap the Comandante dismissed them. They quickly stood up and filed out of the room through two back exits without making a sound. He clapped again and the guards who had delivered the guests retreated through the entrance. Standing alone, they heard the door latch behind them.
Nancy and Strickland faced Comandante Foxtrot. He sat at his gold and mahogany throne, surrounded by piles of gold-plated skulls, which a backdrop of fire burning behind him. That was not the scariest part. The Niger Heart-Pot was sitting immediately to the right of the throne. Its base was covered with burn-marks. The coach didn't understand the significance of that detail, but Nancy did. The artifact was no longer a museum piece: it was being used for its intended purpose.
They walked towards the throne, with their hands behind their backs, according to protocol. Nancy approached at a slow, deliberate pace and Strickland followed her lead.
As before, the Supreme President stood up. And, as before he indulged the visitors by telling them to put their hands at their sides instead of keeping them behind their backs.
"Welcome again, my distinguished Americans. I am pleased that you have returned to my home, and that you have been able to indulge in our hospitality. Comfort and pleasure are important parts of life, but unfortunately those who deserve it the most receive it the least."
"Thank you, Supreme President."
"Very well. I am going to introduce you to someone, someone who meant a lot to me, and tell you a story."
The ruler picked up a remote controller and a large screen descended to the right of the throne, immediately above the heart-pot. A blurry photo of a school-aged girl, who must have been about 13 when the picture was taken, appeared.
"This was Naomi. This picture is the only thing I have to remember her by. I knew her when I was 15. We were in love. I begged my father to talk to her father to see about arranging our marriage. And, I think he would have been successful. Within three years, Naomi would have been my wife. She would have borne my sons and we would have lived a happy existence in obscurity. As you must now realize, that happiness, the life I wanted with the girl I loved, was not my destiny."
Another picture appeared. It was of a school that had been destroyed by either shelling or explosives. There were the mutilated bodies of dozens of students, teachers, and bystanders lying everywhere.
"Naomi was killed, along with many of her classmates. She was killed by the believers of a foreign god, an imaginary god, a false god, who exists only in the printed pages of a foreign book. And the man that I was, up to that moment, died with her."
Another picture appeared. It was of Comandante Foxtrot himself, aged 17, in uniform with a large group of very rough-looking commandos.
"Over the next two years I learned the most valuable lesson of my life, the lesson that has created everything you see around you. Chaos overcomes all. Only men in uniforms, carrying good weapons, are capable of defending themselves, the ones they love, and their homeland. Words are meaningless. Books are meaningless. Chaos overcomes all, unless men with weapons stand in the way to prevent it. There were no men with weapons protecting the girl I loved. So, she died. She died because of chaos, and she died because of a paper god."
A fourth photo appeared. Eleven men appeared in the picture, all of them in officers' uniforms. The Supreme President must have been about 25 years old when it was taken.
"We were the survivors. Eleven of us. We renounced our names and took our identities from the alphabet: Comandante Alpha through Comandante Kilo. Eventually the others picked me as the leader. The rest of that story you already know."
A fifth image appeared. It was of the Comandante, with his ten companions and two ancient-looking priests, standing among ancient ruins. The men were wearing nothing except white robes with sun logos.
"We will return to the very beginning of our civilization. The only power in the Cosmos, the only force that controls life and death, is the Sun. I don't understand how we could have forgotten that, forsaken the true lifeforce to place our faith in magic-men from Palestine. The people of my nation will now remember. I will make the world remember. The foreign gods, the imaginary gods, the ones fabricated from paper and ink on printing presses, will burn. The lying prophets who teach that God lives on paper will burn. Only the Sun will remain."
A sixth photo appeared. It was taken just a few days before, of Eveline Rogers leading the rally to close Joe's Towing. He smiled with a condescending expression.
"A trivial dispute, and an amusing one at that, the fate of a park and some tow-trucks. About as significant as two women fighting over a cooking pot. Ordinarily I wouldn't have the time or patience for such pettiness. However, every elephant starts as a single cell. Every army starts with its first recruit. Every investment starts with its first dollar. I have invested in Eveline Rogers and I will collect my first dividend. The first reward for my generosity, out of many I expect to receive. Through Eveline, I will make the impossible, inevitable, and you will have the privilege of assisting. Do you understand me?"
Without hesitation, Nancy and Strickland shouted in unison: "To hear is to obey, Supreme President!"
Nancy was relieved that Strickland had actually followed her instructions and responded properly when Comandante Foxtrot asked the question. At least she didn't screw that one up...
"Excellent. Now, I am aware that my project with Eveline Rogers remains a mystery to you. I am the fourth richest man in the world. I control nearly a third of this continent. Why would I even be interested in Eveline Rogers? Why would I take such an interest in placing a high school student on a local city council in the middle of the US? That is a mystery to you, is it not?"
"Yes, Supreme President."
"A man of action like myself must think ahead. A man of action like myself must develop assets years in advance and patiently build those assets into something useful. I have directed my Foreign Minister and my Intelligence Minister to identify and sponsor young political leaders around the world. I will populate local governments, especially in Western countries, in places like the Tri-City municipal council, with representatives who will be friendly to the future I am building for the people of this Continent. I have many enemies, which means I need to have many friends."