"After many years of debate and controversy, plans by the Federal government to destroy the Constitution of the former United States of America have been set for March 20, the great anniversary which gave birth to the Green States of a Diverse America," read Anomie Whitney.
Around her, stood the other members of the resistance comprising the northern sector. The cell had gathered that day after an emergency message flashed earlier in the week via sub-wave. That message was ordered by commander Vince Norwood immediately after the news about the Constitution broke in local newsvids.
"The Constitution, the original and sole surviving copy of the document that had been used to found the old USA, had been condemned as racist and oppressive at the Second Convention of Detroit in Year 1. Replaced by the Declaration of American Diversity, the original Constitution has continued to inform the political basis of the GSDA and was consulted from time to time when a question of rights arose.
"But in the decades since the Second Convention, many have argued that the Constitution was tainted due to the lack of diversity among its framers and had, like the remainder of unreconstructed citizens of European descent gathered in the Special Enclaves, become an anachronism.
"With the Law of Year 26, it became illegal to possess copies of the Constitution and a program of eradication succeeded in eliminating all physical copies and blocking it from the govnet. The last remaining copy then, is the original once housed in the former National Archives but, since the Revolution, has been kept under guard at the Institute for Green Impositions and Diverse Rectification. There, government approved experts in its arcane language have had sole access to it when questions of political structure and authorization have arisen. That time, when reference needed to be made however, has been deemed passed and in May of this year, the Supreme Revolutionary Court deemed it proper to have the last remaining copy destroyed."
"Destroyed!" exclaimed Disda Pondatti. "We can’t let that happen!"
"We won’t," assured Vince from where he sat at the head of the long conference table. "The Constitution is too important a document to allow it to be destroyed. Our ancestors regarded it with reverence, even building a vault powerful enough to withstand a nuclear attack in order to protect it."
"But it hasn’t been in that vault for over a hundred years," objected Flannery Distib. "The GSDA government removed it and has had it under lock and key at the GIDR offices where only its own experts are allowed to read it."
"That’s ancient history at this point, Flann," said Anomie.
"Which is exactly what we’ve been fighting for all these years, isn’t it? The true history of America and not a fantasy of the past fabricated by the government’s liars. If we can prove what we believe about the history of the old USA it will help support our other claims of freedoms guaranteed to the people that were lost in the Revolution."
"You’re just stating the obvious now, Flann," said Vince. "We all know what the resistance has been fighting for and unfortunately, with little success. The lies perpetuated by the government have been repeated too long and too often so that the scraps of evidence we’ve managed to retrieve from the cloud, even from old newspapers and books have not been convincing enough to the general population. However, for decades, the government has told people that its mandate to rule and the basis of its promulgations were justified in the wording of the Constitution, a document whose interpretation the government has monopolized for itself."
"Thus, this news about its impending destruction is doubly serious," broke in Piers Fenroke, chief historian of the resistance. "Not only can we not allow such a key historical artifact to be destroyed, but we must seize this opportunity to rescue it for ourselves. Only with it in our possession can we read it for ourselves and discover the rights it is rumored to contain. Once we have its text in our possession, we can post it everywhere in the cloud. Am I right Denn?"
Denn Fiole nodded. "I’ve managed to crack the cloud supra-text. With that kind of control, I can post whatever we want on every website and mail box on Earth instantaneously. Within seconds, every person on the planet will have the information placed before their collective eyes."
The affirmation was greeted by a murmur of approval from the assembled leaders around the table.
"If we can do it," Vince reminded everyone, "we can start a new revolution, one aimed at restoring the freedoms Americans have lost and reestablishing the old USA."
"Imagine the shock and delight that will sweep the public when we make the Constitution available to everyone!" exclaimed Anomie. "There will be such an uproar that the present government will be swept from power."
"Let’s not get over excited," cautioned Vince. "The current government will not give up power so easily. It still controls the electoral process. It can change the rules as it has done in the past to ensure whatever outcome it wants."
"But surely, once its methods are exposed as lies, the people will not tolerate any more such deceitful practices?" said Flann hopefully.
"They will not but no revolution has ever gone unopposed by those it aims to overthrow."
"You forget, Vince, that the GSDA came to power with no such opposition."
"True. But that happened because its divisive positions were promulgated slowly over many decades and sugar-coated in a secular humanism that made it difficult for anyone to oppose them," replied Vince.
"With many useful idiots to back them up, the revolutionaries implanted those of European descent with a self loathing that stripped them of the ability to defend themselves. From there, it was a simple thing to demand changes in society that reversed the power structure and ended with the establishment of the special enclaves for those of European descent and others who refused to conform to the new dynamic."
"We know all that," said Flann. "Most of us here have escaped from the enclaves and joined with others to pose as useful idiots so that we would be unsuspected as members of the resistance."
"And I for one am tired of it," declared Anomie. "It’s beneath our dignity to continue to espouse the illogical and hateful positions of the GSDA just so we can live normal lives. If there’s any chance that exposure of the contents of the Constitution can change all that, I for one, refuse to wait another minute."
"Here, here!" agreed those gathered around the table.
When the tumult had died down, Vince lit the table top to display a street map of Tubman D.C.
"All right. Since we’re all agreed on what needs to be done, here’s my plan…"
Flannery Distib stood in the shadow cast by one of the columns of the Martin Luthor King Memorial. Once it had housed the seated figure of Abraham Lincoln before the sixteenth president fell out of favor for his racist views and was replaced. Still, he had fared better than Thomas Jefferson whose own memorial had long since been razed. The race neutral words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address still adorned the rear wall of his former memorial however.
But sightseeing was not on Flann’s mind at the moment. It was the mission. The Constitution was scheduled to be ceremonially burned in exactly one half hour and a huge crowd had gathered on the Mall to witness what the government had billed as a symbolic renunciation of an oppressive past.
Still, Flann could not help feeling disgust at the festive mood among the crowds with peddlers moving up and down selling everything from balloons to the rainbow flag of the GSDA. Here and there, groups had broken out into song, their voices ringing with tunes first made famous during the revolutionary years with "Hands Up, Don’t Shoot," and "I Can’t Breathe" prominent among the cheery throng.
Overhead, the sky was blue and clear and a slight breeze fluttered the world flags ringing the towering Tubman Monument. The green of the Mall itself could hardly be seen beneath the crowds that filled the open space between the Monument and the Capitol Building in the distance. As such, nearly every single member of the D.C. Police Department as well as Capitol security forces had been called in for crowd control and possible terrorist threat. Not that there was much likelihood of that after the surrender of the West to the Caliphate but it served the government’s purposes to stoke the public’s fears with warnings of Christian diehards and racial supremacists that it imagined peopled the resistance. Which, of course, was not the truth at all. Although the underground movement was made up predominantly of those of European descent, it included a fair share of both Christians and Muslims as well as other racial groups all united in their faith in the admittedly human Founding Fathers and the form of government they had founded.
Which was why the mission was so important. Preservation of the Constitution was crucial if the resistance was to expose the current government for the sham it was — how it divided people and fostered hate and suspicion over the enlightened principles of the founding document. At least, such was what the underground leaders believed to be enshrined in the Constitution. Every evidence at hand indicated that it was so. If it was allowed to be destroyed, that certain knowledge would be lost to Americans forever and the climb back to a sane world where every man would be clothed in dignity would be extended indefinitely or maybe made impossible to recapture.
Flann shuddered at that possibility, recalling the indignity of the special enclaves for those who refused to accept the 13 articles of green-diverse certainty. A thinly veiled excuse to segregate unreconstructed Americans of European descent from the majority, the enclaves had their share of other races as well. Anyone, in fact, who refused to accept the counter-intuitive positions of the GSDA.
Unbidden, Flann recalled his childhood in the Pittsburgh Enclave, the re-education seminars everyone was required to attend, the talks and speeches that sought to convince people of their never-ending racial guilt, the need to save the planet from the ravages of their ancestors, and the forgiving nature of their fellow Americans to welcome them into their midst despite their historic crimes. To be sure, some became convinced of the arguments and were joyously received into the bosom of the GSDA, while others, to the disgust of those who refused to admit guilt, simply lied about their conversion in order to be released from the enclave. It was with a bit of self-loathing that Flann thought of his own false acceptance of the 13 articles in order to leave the Pittsburgh Enclave to join the underground. He did it after being told to do it by outside recruiters, but he still blushed in shame when he recalled friends and family who did not know why he had done it. Well, he told himself, after today’s successful operation, they will.
"Freedom Team, are you all in position?" he asked through the implanted nanophone in his throat.
Instantly, reports began to come in. Team members were spread throughout the Mall waiting on his orders. He gave them.
"Proceed to point Alpha," he said as he left the shadow of the column and descended the stone stairway to the street. Everywhere along the Mall, the dozen members of Freedom Team would also be on the move, slowly congregating in the neighborhood of the Institute for Green Impositions and Diverse Rectification where it was known that the Constitution had been removed from its vault in readiness for the ceremony before the Tubman Monument.
Ahead of him, the street was lined with horse-drawn coaches and a lane down the center kept clear for the limousines that only high government officials were permitted to use. At the edges of the green space, long lines of both men and women waited patiently to use the unisex porto-potties provided for the occasion. But Flann’s attention was not on his immediate area but fixed on the GIDR building in the distance.
Casually, he looked around. Outwardly, he seemed like a typical visitor dressed in the drab woolens expected of the working classes. But hidden on his person, up his arm actually, was the extensile length of a staser which could deliver a stunning shock to the nervous system rendering its human target unconscious. He would need it once he reached the entrance to the GIDR where, hopefully, security would be light.
He arrived in the vicinity of the department’s service door away from the crowds that stood about the main entrance. Guardedly, he noticed passersby across the narrow side street, ostensibly on their way to the ceremony but really timing their movements so that they would be ready to rush inside the service entrance as soon as Flann had cleared it of security personnel.
With a barely perceptible nod to the team members across the street, he turned his steps to the side entrance exactly the way a visitor to DC might approach thinking it was open to the public. Pushing the heavy glass door inward, he was confronted by a uniformed officer.
"Sorry, sir, but the building is closed to visitors today," said the guard.
Flann was quick to note with satisfaction that the man was alone in the short hallway leading inside and reaching up as if to remove his hat, allowed the staser to slide from his sleeve into his hand. In another moment, he felt the familiar tingle run up his arm as the guard collapsed to the floor.
Instantly, other members of the team were inside the door, and while a pair worked to remove the guard to a small ante-room just off the entrance, Flann and three others moved quickly down the corridor to a junction connecting the front part of the building on one hand, and the rear areas on the other. Floor plans had shown that the vault room was accessed by a bank of elevators in that rear area but with only a few minutes remaining before the start of the ceremony, it was expected that the Constitution would already have been removed from the vault and if not in the ground floor elevator foyer, then in its counterpart downstairs.
Dashing to the foyer, Flann saw that it was empty and leaving the two men who had disposed of the guard behind in case the document was transported up before it could be stopped, he and the others took to the stairs.
"Jefter, Stilg, follow me," he ordered.
The buzz of voices filled the empty stairwell as they reached a door giving access to the downstairs foyer beyond. Peeking through a vertical slit in the door, Flann could see a number of figures standing around on the opposite side with not a guard among them. In their midst was a wheeled cart upon which a half dozen plexiglass slabs protected what he was sure was the document.
Being so close to it, Flann felt a thrill of anticipation, of eagerness to set his eyes on it, to read its legendary words. He sensed the same air of expectancy from his comrades. With hand signals, he indicated to the others which of those on the other side of the door they would target upon entering the foyer and after confirming that they were ready, whispered a count of three before bursting out of the stairwell and stasering his first target. In seconds, it was over. Achieving complete surprise, the government people had frozen in fear and confusion and before any of them could move, the well-trained team members had immobilized them all.
Quickly, they all gathered around the plexiglass slabs and looking down, laid their eyes on the first page of the Constitution. For his part, Flann had had certain expectations but now it was his turn to be surprised.
"There’s more than one document here," he said.
"Was the Constitution that long?" asked one of the men. "I thought it would be only a single page."
"Me too," admitted Flann.
"And what kind of language is that?" said Jefter.
"I can’t read it," said Stilg, clearly disappointed.
"Whatever it is, it’s not English," said Flann.
"Then how can we be sure this is the Constitution or not?"
"It must be," insisted Flann. "They were getting it ready to take upstairs."
"But if we can’t read it, the mission is a failure. The government claims were right. It can’t be read without an interpreter."
"If they can read it, then we’ll discover some way of doing it ourselves and find out what’s really written down here. Do you trust the government to tell us what all this means? My guess is that they didn’t know how to read it either and just made up whatever they wanted the people to think."
"Anyway, the document itself seems old enough. Look at how that parchment has yellowed."
"Okay, let’s get to work. Jefter, you got the roll?"
"Right here," said Jefter, removing something from inside his coat that proved to be a collapsible tube.
Searching the fallen officials, Flann found the tool he needed to release the documents from their plexiglass prisons and carefully rolled up the brittle parchments and slid them into the tube.
"It’ll be a tight fit but we can’t afford to leave any of them behind," said Flann. "Any one of them could end up being the Constitution."
Quickly, they made their exit the way they had come, emerging in the upstairs foyer and rejoining the other members of the team. After a brief pause by the doorway they had entered from to make sure the street outside was still quiet, they slipped out and dispersed again, the precious tube hidden on Jefter in such a way as to be completely unnoticeable on a cursory inspection.
When news of the successful mission had reached the underground’s northern sector, members wasted little time in meeting again around the long conference table. Those gathering for the important conclave had little fear of discovery by government agents located as it was somewhere within the no-go zone of the Midwest Caliphate.
Anomie Whitney was just removing the chador she wore when operating within the Caliphate when Flann and the rest of the team that had rescued the Constitution joined Vince and the others in the crowded room.
After the initial hubbub had died down, Jefter handed Vince the tube he had been carrying. Vince in turn, handed it to Piers who carefully removed its contents and spread them over the length of the table. Instantly, everyone closed ranks in order to get a better look at the documents, one of which they fervently hoped would prove to be the Constitution itself.
But immediately, the same problem that had confronted Flann and his team was met by the other members of the resistance: none of the documents could be read.
"We told you, they’re written in some kind of code," said Flann.
"What about it, Piers?" asked Vince.
"It’s not a code exactly," said Piers looking over the text with an old fashioned magnifying glass. "It’s just a different manner of writing than the alphabetic letters we use in our electronic devices. It’s how people communicated over long distances before the digital age. At one time, every school child learned how to write in such a manner but with the rise of personal digital devices, it was abandoned so that today, very few people can even read it anymore. A circumstance, of course, that played into the hands of the government. Since most of the original documents of western civilization were written in such fashion through letters, legal papers, manuscripts, contracts, etc, all proved inaccessible to the general population. That left it to the government to set itself up as the sole custodian of the past. History became whatever the government said it was, including, of course, the history of the old United States as encapsulated within the wording of the Constitution."
Piers pondered a moment more before continuing, as if thinking aloud. "The writing appears to be an early form of what used to be called ‘cursive,’ using the alphabet we know in a linked manner in order to make it faster and easier to create messages by hand. Once you realize that, it’s easy to recognize many of the letters." Pointing, he continued. "See here, that’s an e and that is an o. I think that with careful study, we might be able to piece enough of the cursive together to read the writing. It’ll take some time though."
There was silence then for a moment before Vince spoke again. "But now we have the key, right? If we can learn the cursive code, we not only can know the contents of the Constitution, but the true history of the West through any of the old documents we can find in the future?" Without waiting for an answer, he shot a further question to Denn. "If you can drill deep down enough into the old cloud, do you think you can retrieve any original documents that may have been scanned at one time or another?"
"If they were scanned, they can be retrieved," said Denn with confidence.
At that point, everyone looked to Piers hopefully.
"I’d like a few volunteers to work with me to break the cursive code as you called it," said Piers. "I don’t foresee too much trouble in recognizing most of the alphabet and context will likely help with the rest. What will take a little longer is translating the actual wording into the alphabet we recognize today. But once that’s done, it can be placed before the eyes of every person on the planet if Denn’s earlier assurances still hold."
"They do," said Denn.
"Then let’s get started."