Vanderboegh: The Six Apostles
The Six Apostles
A fictional work of precognitive history
(Excerpted from the chapter entitled "Nemesis," from Mike Vanderboegh's upcoming novel, "Absolved.")
"Who today still speaks of the extermination of the Armenians?" -- Adolf Hitler, 1939.
In the Greek tragedies Nemesis appears chiefly as the avenger of crime and the punisher of hubris . . . She was sometimes called Adrasteia, . . . meaning "one from whom there is no escape"; her epithet Erinys ("implacable") is specially applied to Demeter and the Phrygian mother goddess, Cybele. -- Wikipedia.
The basement room was black, illuminated only by the flickering images of the wide-screen television. Six men sat in various easy postures, scattered between couches, easy chairs and bar stools.
One of them held the remote.
On the screen Joe O'Reilly entered a room and demanded, "Jesus Christ, Mick, where the HELL have you been?"
"Been workin'" muttered an exhausted Michael Collins, his head down on the desk.
"Workin' where?" Joe shot back. Sleepily, Collins begins to give orders.
"I want a file drawn up on every member of the British administration. Look through whatever you can find. Who's Who. Stubb's, Society columns. I want names, addresses, clubs, where they bank down to what they eat for breakfast. Keep it up to date. Add to it every week."
Michael Collins begins to rouse. "Tom?"
Tom Cullen answers, "Um?"
"Tom!" Collins gets up from the table.
"Get me a list of the twelve best men in the Dublin division. Young. Without families."
"What for," asks Cullen.
"Christ," Collins realizes, "the 'Twelve Apostles'. Just do it, for fook's sake!"
"Joe, take a letter."
Collins' number two, Harry Boland enters, demanding "Where the hell have you been?"
Collins ignores him and begins dictating.
"'To whom it may concern. This is to inform you that any further collaboration with the forces of occupation will be punishable by death. You have been warned.' Signed, 'The Irish Republican Army.'"
Boland asks, incredulous, "Are you serious?"
"'Fraid so," answers Collins. Then he orders Joe, "Send one to every G-Man . . ."
Neeson was born for this role, thought Steve Arakian.
"Without them the Brits would have no system. They couldn't move. Imagine the Castle like an enclave where anyone, and I mean anyone, who collaborated knew he'd be shot. They couldn't move outside those fooking walls. THAT'S how serious I am."
Boland, now realizing how serious Collins is, offers, "There's only one problem."
"We'd have to do it."
"Yes," says Collins. "So, could you bear it?"
Avakian hit freeze on the DVD remote, and leaned over the bar to hit the alcove light switch.
"What's the big deal, Steve?" The man in the Lazy Boy brought it upright and stood. "We've got this damn movie memorized, you played it so often in Kabul."
"I just wanted to remind you of the thinking process behind the Anglo-Irish War because Collins was successful."
"Why?" asked Mark Volescu.
"Because of this." Steve handed out each of them a copy of a letter. "Read it, and then we'll talk."
It was dated over almost two years ago.
"You've got us surrounded, you poor bastards."
Memo for the Record to the Next Congress
To: The Victors of the Recent National Elections
From: Your gun-owning constituents
Subject: The so-called "Gun Show Loophole"
Congratulations. You have just been swept into power. Enjoy the feeling.
But come January, the special interests who put you there are going to be banging on your door asking for various favors. Some of them are going to be demanding more gun control legislation, among them a law to close the so-called "gun show loophole."
Heretofore, the bumbling GOP has at least been able to fend off these attempts at our liberties, but those corrupt incompetents have now been justifiably swept from power for their other numerous political sins. Neither Presidential candidate mentioned the subject much during the campaign (for good reasons), but both are on record as supporting previous bills aimed at exerting complete federal control over the private sale of arms.
You call this "reasonable regulation."
We call it tyranny, for not even King George III was so grasping. But since you won the election, it will be your candidate who takes the oath and signs the bill. It may be assumed that the new president will sign such a bill if you place it before him. However, we do not address this memo to him. It is the darker angels of YOUR nature we are seeking to save you from, as I will explain below.
The hubris derived from your own smashing electoral victory may incline you to listen to those voices demanding that you seize the moment for more gun control. If I may, let me explain the possible personal, unintended consequences of such an act to you.
There are in your district, in your state and indeed all over the country, a great number of gun owners just like me. I suppose if you added us all up there at least a million or two of us.
Maybe more, maybe less, but once you get into numbers like that, what's a million more or less?
We are the 'cold, dead hands" types, the men and women who have sworn, as the old bumper sticker said, "When guns are outlawed, I'll be an outlaw." We have fought a political delaying action against the enemies of our traditional 2nd Amendment rights for decades now. Indeed, we have been shoved back from the free exercise of our historic firearms liberty for 70 plus years.
Now it is plain that we have lost the argument at the polls.
You feel a natural pride at having swept the GOP from the field. But you should know that in doing so you have removed any hope we ever had of successfully defending our right to armed self-defense in the political arena. You will also take up, and I'm certain you will pass, the Fairness Doctrine to shut up the talk radio hosts who have so bedeviled you these past twenty years. As well, you will pass an Amnesty Bill for illegal aliens, which you believe will make any further conservative success in national elections impossible. You are right on both counts. And, because you now have the votes, you will be successful. You will think you have a mandate for whatever you do. And yet . . .
Consider where this puts us. We will no longer have the possibility of stopping further attacks on our God-given liberties politically. We will not even be able to vent our frustration on talk radio. I'm sure you will also get around to "hate speech regulation" of the Internet. And in the middle of this you will try to disarm us by means of a "gun show loophole" bill, or a new tougher "assault weapons ban" or a ban on "assault weapons ammunition" and "armor piercing bullets" which will include simple hunting ammunition, or probably a combination of all three. Perhaps you will stealthily try to do these things by quietly having the ATF manipulate the regulatory process.
Quiet or not, we will notice.
You will do this because you think you can do it without political or personal retribution. I write you today to tell you that if you do so, you will be as wrong as you could possibly be.
You believe that if you pass a law backed by the threat of federal violence for non-compliance, that we will do what you order without resistance. You believe this because you are extrapolating our anticipated behavior from your own cowardice, You know that YOU would never do such a thing, so we won't either. This is a dangerous assumption on your part, perhaps fatally so. For if the discredited Republicans no longer protect us from you, then they no longer protect you from us, either.
You've got us surrounded, you poor bastards.
Remember that we consider our rights merely codified by the Constitution. They are, we sincerely believe, God-given and inalienable. Remember too that we are willing to die for our liberties rather than surrender them up meekly. Remember as well that men and women who are willing to die for their principles are most often willing to kill for them too.
What can this possibly have to do with you?
Well, it's like this. We have been doing a lot of thinking about what we would do if we ever found ourselves in this situation, and after considerable thought we have decided we agree with Bill Clinton. Back in 1999, when he was trying to pressure the Serbians into giving up Kosovo, then President Clinton expanded American rules of war to include -- as legitimate targets of deadly force -- the politicians and the news media that shaped and supported his enemy's war policy.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you force us into resistance by further circumscribing our rights -- by sending federal police to our doors to enforce your will -- can't those same Clintonian rules of engagement be applied to you?
Oh, we could certainly defend ourselves by shooting back at the hapless instruments of your tyranny -- the sons and daughters of other Americans who happen to be in federal service.
But wouldn't it be wiser for us -- after the first, second or third time this happens -- to adopt Clinton's policy and go after the people who sent them? That is, to seek out the bureaucrats and politicians who decided to start the war? And, like Clinton, should we target the media talking heads and newspaper editors who clamored for it in the first place?
The advocates of citizen disarmament are probably willing to fight a war down to the last dead ATF agent, but are YOU willing to fight one past the first dead politician? And how many dead editors will it take to change an editorial board policy?
If you pass new gun control laws we will find out.
The president of course will be the safest personage in the country under this awful scenario. Killing a president, even if he signed such an unconstitutional law, would be tantamount to firing on Fort Sumter, a discrediting move no matter what the provocation.
But, one wonders, who would cry over a dead congressman or senator who voted to take people's liberty, property and lives? Especially after innocent victims of his predatory law-making were already littering the streets. You may recall the already lower-than-a-snake's-belly position in the polls that Congress currently holds.
Who indeed would mourn you, beyond your family, your mistress and a few lobbyists?
Also, it may be cold comfort, but we will make sure that your family remains behind to mourn you. We will do a far better job of protecting innocents than the federal government, perhaps because we don't own any Predator drones or F18s or Hellfire missiles or cluster bombs. You will get no terrorist outrages like Oklahoma City to easily discredit us - just remorseless and deadly accurate rifle bullets, one at a time. Those are OUR precision guided munitions.
Do you really think that in the long run that yours will be more effective than ours?
These are the uncomfortable questions that must be asked now rather than later. Unless, of course, you decide that discretion is the better part of valor and -- out of enlightened self-interest -- you refuse to meander down the bloody garden path toward civil war at the urging of the honey-tongued Sirens of "reasonable regulation" gun control.
It's always important for any card player to know the rules of the game before the deck is cut. By sweeping away the sorry GOP, and stacking the deck with the Fairness Doctrine and enfranchised illegals to toil on your political plantation, you will have changed the political rules fundamentally and, perhaps, forever.
Please understand that just because you can disenfranchise us, swamp us at the polls, silence us on the radio and Internet, despise us and ridicule us in the media, you still cannot take any more of our liberties without our acquiescence. And we do not, cannot and will not agree. We still get to vote with our rifles. You are welcome to believe that we are insane for adopting such a position, but even if you are right, we're still armed -- doesn't that just complicate your problem?
We are resigned to being a despised minority within our own country, as long as we are a despised and FEARED minority whose rights and property are respected.
You may kill us, but you cannot change our minds.
Kindly, for all our sakes, remember Bill Clinton's rules of engagement. A civil war is a two-way shooting gallery. Don't sign your own target.
Just so we're clear, the way you sign your own target is by voting for any bill which commands the government's seizure of power of the private, intrastate transfer of arms or for one banning the sales or possession of any kinds of heretofore legal weapons or ammunition, or for taxing them to death, or for any other combination of measures, official or unofficial which lead to the same things. Put your "Yea" on any of those, and when innocent Americans get killed by federal forces as a result, you will have placed the crosshairs over your own heart.
You have been warned.
If you want to curse anybody, curse Bill Clinton.
It was his idea.
Mark Volescu spoke first. "Man, you didn't write this."
Steve grinned, "No I didn't. But I did send it."
Steve told them the name of the author.
"He's dead, dude."
"Maybe. They never did find his body."
"Yeah," said Volescu, "but I've read most of his stuff and I never read this."
"Well, right after we got back and I was discharged, I got on some gun rights e-mail lists and one of them was his. Anyway, he sent out a letter like this early one morning and then sent out another one a few hours later saying it was for review only, and he didn't mean for it to get out, and to please destroy any copies. He said he wasn't sure he was going to send it. Well, he didn't. It was right there at the line of being a threat to a federal official, so I guess he was advised by his friends not to send it. I never saw or heard anything more about it."
"If an empty threat falls on deaf ears, was it ever really said?" paraphrased Nijima, who was the deep thinker of the team.
"Let me venture a wild-assed guess," offered Volsecu, "you didn't delete your copy."
Avakian looked at his former SF team member and grinned.
"You're quick, Speedo." Volescu just grunted. He hated that nickname.
Steve continued. "But when I heard he was dead, I changed it a bit, wrapped it around a dubbed copy of this scene from Michael Collins and sent it to every US Representative and Senator. It put them on notice. Like Michael Collins, I had warned them. I'm sure the FBI figured out a dead man wrote it, but they musta been scratchin' their heads how he mailed it from beyond the grave."
"Yeah, well I noticed it didn't stop 'em from passing anything," Volescu retorted sourly.
"No," admitted Avakian, "it didn't. Which is why they've got it coming now. There's way too many dead innocents on the ground now NOT to pay them back."
The men looked at one another. They loved Steve Avakian like a brother, and they knew now why they were here. They'd talked about it a hundred times on a theoretical level. And there had been worse laws since the Omnibus Crime Bill. People had died resisting them. There was a low intensity guerrilla conflict going on all over the country. The whole state of Alabama looked like it was going to going to war with the Feds because the administration had thrown the Constitution out the window and wouldn't let them run their own affairs.
Carter, Ball and Twigg had each taken a discharge at the same time as Avakian. Volescu followed with a general six months ago by framing himself as a security risk. You couldn't get out these days just by claiming you were a homosexual. "Don't ask, don't tell" had been junked by the new administration. Now it was "Hey, brag about it and you'll get promoted."
Nijima couldn't get released, his MOS was too sensitive, too needed. Consequently, Nijima was a deserter. There was a lot of that going around these days. CID was camped on his ex-wife's doorstep hoping he would surface there. Considering she was a faithless bitch who'd screwed around on "Nidge" when he was in Kandahar, it wasn't likely. But Nijima didn't mind them spying on her.
"Hell, Steve, you want us to help you kill the whole Congress?" This from Nijima.
"No," said Avakian, "just these people. They're in our AO. I don't want to have to operate in DC, it ain't home ground. These are close by." He handed the other five men a sheet with 78 names on it.
"There's more than congresscritters on here," observed Mike Ball.
"Yeah," explained Avakian, "there's TV talking heads, newspaper editors, U.S. Attorneys, supervisory federal policemen, and a grocery list of anti-gun politicians, local, state and national. I warned them too. Just notes, short and sweet: "You have been judged guilty of supporting, soliciting or assisting in the use of deadly force to impose a tyrannical scheme of gun control on the American people. Innocent Americans have died as a result. Renounce your opinions, quit your jobs, run and hide now and you can live. Continue with what you've been doing and you'll be killed as a legitimate target of war." And I signed it, 'The American Republican Army.'"
Steve looked around the room, then continued.
"Priority goes to the congressmen and senators who voted for the Omnibus Bill and Operation Clean Sweep. I didn't put just anybody on there. They are all there because they did some specific act or acts that carried out, or gave material assistance to, the unconstitutional operations of the administration. It's Clinton's ROE, applied to gun control."
Carter called out the name of a Hollywood actress, a real loud mouth who supported the regime with money and influence. "Hey, what's she on this list for?"
Avakian started to tell Carter about why he'd included her and Carter cut him off. "Yeah I know she's a commie bitch from Lesbos and she gave a lot of money to gun-control politicians, but what I meant was, why's she on OUR target list? She doesn't come from here."
Ball knew the answer to that one. "You don't watch 'Access Hollywood,' shithead. Her new girl-toy is from Lockwood and they got a love nest up by the ski resort. Right Steve?"
"You got it."
"She's hot," said Carter.
Ball, who had aced the LSAT and been accepted at Harvard Law, was mystified. "She's a lesbian, Mike, what does it matter to you that she's hot?"
"I know, but she's still hot. I want that job."
"Naw," said Nijima, "that's my job. I still haven't forgiven the bitch for raising money for the Taliban that time."
"Hell, Nidge," said Avakian, "we all want to kill her. We'll have to draw straws."
Twigg butted in. "How about we do it like some Agatha Christie novel? Like, we each shoot her at the same time with a different caliber of weapon? Let 'em try to figure that out."
They all jeered. "Agatha Christie?" groaned Avakian, "God, Twigg, you're a f-ckin' idiot." Nijima agreed and threw a couch cushion at him.
Willow ignored them and commented, "You know, you kill her and Hollywood's gonna empty out like a bunch of illegals out the back door of a bodega when somebody yells 'La Migra!' in the front. There won't be a Hollywood commie left to shop on Rodeo Drive. They'll all go to the south of France for the duration."
"That's what I had in mind, Willow," replied Avakian.
Twigg's nickname was "Willow," because his first name was Will. Not William, not Willie, just Will. Also, because he was short and gutsy like that little dwarf character in the movie. His career had shown that his daddy had chosen his name well. For Will Twigg embodied every meaning of that word, except last will and testament, and maybe they'd get around to that one of these days.
Somebody, a long time ago, had tried calling him "Twiggy." The little guy from north Alabama had walked up to the bigger man, said "I'm sorry you said that," and dumped the bigger man's ass in the dirt so fast that nobody quite knew how he'd done it.
He then apologized, and offered the man a hand up. He was a devout Christian, and he never, ever cursed. They'd mocked him for it at first, until they realized he couldn't be angered and he lived what he believed. There was no doubt he was brave and he'd proved it too many times to recall. A small, compact man, he was stealthy beyond belief in the field.
Once, during an FTX back at Bragg, he snuck up to the OPFOR commander, a full bird Colonel who'd sent his RTO on some dogrobber job. Twigg raised up out of the weeds about 20 feet away with his MILES equipped M-4 and announced very softly. "You are my prisoner, Sir." The officer started to swear up one side and down the other, and Twigg reproved him, "Sir, you don't have to be profane or vulgar just because you lost."
That was Willow all over. He'd picked up reading Agatha Christie when they had been in the rear at Kabul. He bought the complete paperback set in the market. Dog eared when he got them, he read the murder mysteries until the covers fell off. How the books ever made it to Afghanistan, Avakian had no clue. Neither did Twigg. It wasn't a terrible vice for an explosives instructor to have, Avakian guessed, but it still was weird. At least he didn't knit in his downtime like Volescu, or make grotesque madman sketches like Carter.
He glanced around the room. Counting me, there's six apostles, not twelve. And "Willow" Twigg is my Vinny Byrne. Vinny had been the youngest man on Collin's "squad." So devout a young Catholic boy that he went to Mass both before and after his hits, Vinny would always say as he approached the victim from close range, "May the Lord have mercy on your soul," just before he pulled the trigger and blew his brains out.
There was no doubt that the Twelve Apostles had struck terror into the heart of the British establishment in Ireland. It was Collins' assassination campaign that compelled the Brits to seek a truce. Steve Avakian intended to do the same to the people who were responsible for this war.
It would be his own Operation Nemesis.
"I have killed a man but I am not a murderer."
When the war began in 1914 (Soghomon Tehlirian) said, Armenian soldiers, including his brother, were recruited into the Turkish army. Early in 1915, however, most were stripped of all arms and employed as pack animals to transport army supplies, after which they were shot. In the villages posters announced that everyone had to surrender arms, but the Muslims were allowed to keep theirs while Armenians, when they complied, were charged as revolutionaries and tortured. Churches were desecrated and Christian symbols defiled. But these were only the initial moves by the Turkish authorities. In May came news that all Armenian schools had to be closed and the teachers, together with the community leaders, were sent to special camps. Shortly thereafter rumors spread that those who were taken away had already been killed. They had been given the alternative of renouncing Christianity, converting to Islam, and assuming Turkish names, but none had. In the months that followed only a small number of Armenians converted, for survival and to protect their families. At the beginning of June an order came . . . that the entire Armenian population should prepare to leave Erzinga. Money and other valuables had to be delivered to the Turkish authorities for safekeeping. Three days later the Armenian population of around twenty thousand was led from the town early in the morning. They were not permitted to take goods and personal belongings . . . The deportees were formed into a long caravan of five or six columns. . . Turkish soldiers and gendarmes were present on all sides. Everyone was very tired . . . On the very first day, members of Tehlirian's family were killed. . . Several gendarmes dragged his sister off and raped her, while another split his brother's head with an ax. His mother lay dead nearby, killed, he thought, by a bullet. . . Tehlirian suddenly felt a blow to his head and fell unconscious. He didn't know how long he lay there -- one or two days, he thought. When he awoke it was dark, and he felt a great weight on his body. To his horror he discovered that the burden was his brother's corpse. Tehlirian struggled until he was able to push his brother's body aside and stand up. Despite the darkness he could see corpses all around him, and he realized that the entire caravan had been killed. He was the sole survivor, left for dead by the Turks." -- A Crime of Vengeance: An Armenian Struggle for Justice by Edward Alexander, Free Press, 1991, p. 70
The Armenian Genocide by the Turkish Pashas of the old Ottoman Empire in 1915 killed between a million and a million and a half Armenian Christians. It was characterized by the use of massacres and deportations involving forced marches without food or water designed to lead to the death of the deportees. Although condemned to death by the Turkish government that replaced them, most of the plotters -- who had killed no one themselves, merely having ordered it done -- escaped at the end of the war and settled down into comfortable lives in places like Germany.
To deliver justice upon them, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation crafted Operation Nemesis, a covert operation in the 1920s to assassinate these Turkish masterminds of the Genocide. It was named after the Greek goddess of divine retribution, Nemesis.
Hundreds of the guilty mass murderers were hunted down and executed by the assassins of the ARF in the 1920s. All this Steve Avakian knew by heart. When he was sixteen, his dad had handed him a book called 'A Crime of Vengeance', by Edward Alexander.
"You need to know where you came from," he told Steve. "Read this and we'll talk."
Now all eyes turned to the doorway through which entered a shy, nervous young man -- the accused Soghomon Tehlirian, seen for the first time by representatives of the world press. Clad in a black suit, he calmly walked to his place at the defense table. slight of figure and with slender features, the youth, though pale, seemed in control of himself. Now and then he looked around with what the press would call "the eyes of a fanatic," but his demeanor was gentle and restrained. . . The accused was then informed of the official charge against him:
"The alleged student of mechanical engineering, Soghomon Tehlirian . . . born on April 2, 1897, in Pakaritch, Turkey, a Turkish citizen, Armenian Protestant . . . is charged with intentionally having killed the former Turkish Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha in Charlottenburg on March 15, 1921, and of having carried out the killing with premeditation. . ."
Judge Lehmberg instructed the interpreters to inform the accused the contents . . . of the official charge. . . when the interpreters had finished, Judge Lehmberg turned to the accused: "How do you plead? Would you say yes or no to this accusation?"
"No." Defense Attorney von Gordon intervened and asked the court: "I request to ask the accused how he does not regard himself as guilty."
"I do not regard myself as guilty because my conscience is at peace." Judge Lehmberg immediately pursued that with a question. . . "How is your conscience at peace?"
"I have killed a man but I am not a murderer." -- A Crime of Vengeance, pp. 66-67
"Do you understand the difference?" his father had asked him. Steve was quiet for a moment. Finally he said, "Yeah, Dad, I get it. But how come no one ever talks about this?" he held up the slim hardback. "I've never heard of it before, except for stuff I overheard you and grandpa talk about before he died, and I didn't really understand that. They sure don't teach it in school."
"Well, your Grandpa wanted to tell you when you were little, but your mother wouldn't have any of it. She made me swear not to 'traumatize' you. But you're sixteen now. You've got a right to know. A right and a duty."
"Yes, son, a duty. The Jews weren't the first people to say, 'Never again.' We Armenians were. Hitler used our genocide as a pattern for theirs. Armenians were prominent in the fight against Nazism, and Armenian peasants in the Balkan countries and in Russia hid Jews. You see, they knew what it was like. And I want your promise that you'll never stand by and watch innocent people victimized by a government. We Armenians have a duty to see that it never happens again, no matter what country we live in."
Steve Avakian had promised. But he never thought America could become such a country. He had grown up, joined the army, and seen how the rest of the world worked, and through it all he'd never thought that the American government could ever become that corrupt, that murderous, to its own people. He no longer thought that.
"So," said Volescu, "you got more than a list of names?"
"Yeah," replied Steve Avakian, "I do." He started handing out files. "My thought was to do the Senators and Congressmen first, all within 2 hours. We begin on a holiday when they're all back in their home districts. Then we work our way down the second tier and see how far we get."
He paused. "You in?"
Surprisingly, Twigg was the first to reply, "Yeah, I'm in." And then he said simply, by way of explanation, "I took an oath."
They all nodded. So he had. So had they all. One by one they all committed, until only Nijima was left.
"Nidge?" prompted Avakian.
Nijima, his eyes closed, faked a snore, then an elaborate awakening. "Huh? Oh, yeah, what was you wanted me to do? Kill a bunch of evil Death Eaters, lesbian traitoresses, crooked government lawyers, pasty faced killer bureaucrats and panty waist editorial apologists, right? What's not to like?"
They all laughed.
Nidge continued, "Steve, it wounds me that you even thought you had to ask. I took an oath too, you know."
"Right," replied Avakian. "Sorry."
"So," said Volescu, who besides being a champion knitter held a PhD in International Relations, "do we tell them who we are? Or are we just going to be anonymous?"
"I made up some death cards on my home computer. Printed them on card stock. What do you think?" He handed each team member a card.
"What a babe!" offered Volescu.
"Yeah," said Carter,"forget that lezzy bitch, this hottie has WINGS. I want a date with HER. What's her name?"
Steve Avakian smiled.
"Her name," he answered, "is Nemesis."