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Instant Recap: Kalianna told the assemblage in Baron Redshield’s parlor that she had a plan to clear the Muslim shrines from the Mount to enable the rebuilding of the Temple of Shlomo (Solomon). Immediately after this bombshell, the Baron’s security discovered the psychotronic intrusion by Gavin. Rabbi Shmerson attempted to block it by a Qabbalistic banishing ritual, but failed. Kalianna launched into a potent rite during which she and Gavin seemed to make eye contact through the screen, then she successfully broke the connection.

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9. The Key

     Eric and Flash sat directly across from each other on opposite sides of the round table, mirroring their positions at the picnic. At Eric’s left sat the woman with the golden braids; her name was Brunhilde. Directly across from her at Flash’s left was Diana. There were thirty-six seats, of which twenty-seven were filled; on the table at three of the empty ones were laptop computers, each with a face on the screen. The round table was actually a ring; the width of the arc was four feet, with a large circular space inside it. In the middle of this stood Gavin; at his side was a stool on which he had placed a mobile device.

     “The War Council is now convened,” said Eric, his voice resonating through the chamber. “We’re here at the request of our member Gavin Paneskos, who has a presentation for us. And I have to say that if what we’ve already seen and heard was just the prelude, this should be a damn good spiel!” There was affirmative laughter around the table, then Eric beckoned to Gavin and said, “Go for it, man.”

     Gavin smiled inwardly at the contrast from the moment before their sparring match when Eric had called him “boy”. He said, “I just wish that my little spy-mission had been more successful. But I have a stratagem that’ll atone for it and upshift the whole Krieg in our favor.”

     At Eric’s right sat Hector. He said, “On which front? Things are really bogging down in the Middle East ever since Mossad launched the Islamic State. I mean, that’s really a false-flag masterstroke. Is there some way we can top that?”

     Gavin grinned and said, “There is, if we live up to our honorific as global guerrillas. Let’s think in terms of the big picture. The Zionborg and the whole Matrix of governments it occupies still constitute the most formidable empire in history, even though big seams are opening in its mesh and opposing powers are rising.”

     “Including us!” said Spike, “even though we’re not in the same league as Russia or China, or even Brazil, where we once had a front.”

     “Right,” said Gavin, “but as we know, in fourth-generation warfare non-state players can take on nation-states and win. In fact we have the advantage, especially long-term. And there’s one thing that would dramatically alter the game and allow the challengers to take the offensive against the Empire around the world.”

     “The economic collapse!” said Diana.

     “Of course!” said Vance. “But it sure is taking a long time to come. When that bubble popped in Year 9 I thought for sure it was the first domino ~ I even had precog visions of it. But they gamed O’Blackjack into printing them up about fifteen tril in Monopoly bucks, so it got a new false bottom and they’re fatter’n ever.”

     “We know that humungous bag of gas has gotta bust sooner or later,” said Mindy, “but when? It just keeps getting bigger an’ bigger.”

     In a dramatic voice punctuated with gestures Gavin said, “Why should we bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor’s wrong, the Jew’s contumely, the schemes of those who despise our love, the undermining of the law, the insolence of power, when we ourselves might our quietus make with a bare bodkin?”

     There were some whoops of approval but a larger number of puzzled faces and comments of “Say what?” “Huh?”, etcetera. Flash clapped and said, “Let’s hear it for Hamlet!”

     Mindy said, “Sorry to be so illiterate, but what the heck’s a bodkin?”

     Gavin put a hand inside his vest, pulled it out and clicked open a stiletto dagger that gleamed with multicolored sparks reflected from the screens. Now there was a resounding chorus of “O-o-o-hhh! ~ Wow! ~ Hell yeah! ~ Pop the fucking bubble!”

     When it settled down Brunhilde said, “This is undiscovered country, all right. How wonderful if we could pull it off! But how?”

     “Ah,” said Gavin with a grin, “so that’s already one vote of approval! Soft you now, Milady, and I shall unveil the stratagem ~ though as you’ll see, we’ll draw upon a different metaphor.” He put away his blade and said, “A virtually worthless currency isn’t the only crust of thin ice the economy sits on. There are lots of other fronts vulnerable to a well-placed poke with our bodkin.”

     Flash said, “You mean like the ancient crumbling infrastructure in all the industrialized countries?”

     “Yes, that’s a big one. But the biggest of all is the foundation itself, the inherent flaw of high-tech civilization.” There was a silence except for the soft sounds that accompany thought-processes in motion.

     “Overcomplexification,” ventured Saxon.

     “Oho,” said Gavin, “we’re honing in.”

     “I once read a science fiction story from the ’sixties,” said Vance, “or maybe as far back as the ’fifties. The whole Earth and its planetary colonies were ensconced in a technological matrix that grew ever more elegant and complex as it made life easy for everybody and turned civilization into a utopia. The tech finally hit the peak of refinement: everything was codified to the point where a single key engaged the whole thing, like a car’s ignition key.”

     “What was the key?” someone asked.

     “I don’t remember exactly. I guess it was what we would now call a computer program, but it was also somehow a physical object. And guess what happened?”

     “They lost the key,” said Gavin.

     “Right! And the whole interplanetary mechanism shut down. It was instant Dark Ages.”

     “Sounds like a great story!” said Gavin. “And that’s exactly what we need to do: switch off the key.”

     “But you still haven’t told us what the key is,” said Mindy. “It makes me think of a rhyme from a guessing game when I was a kid: ‘Is it big, is it small? Can you see it at all? Is it black, is it white? Is it heavy, is it light? Is it fast, is it slow, and where does it go? Oho, oh woe, if only I could know!”

     Gavin laughed in delight and replied: “It’s the smallest, the hardest, the fastest, the lightest. You can never see where it is, only where it’s been.”

     “Now that’s a tricky little critter,” said Vance. “Could it be an electron?”

     “The electron,” corrected Gavin. “The bloodless pulse of the global Matrix. Stop the flow of electrons and it will grind to a gruesome halt.”

     “That’s pretty basic, all right,” said Mindy, “but what’s the part about only seeing where it’s been?”

     “Lightning,” said Flash, and people laughed.

     “So all we have to do is set off an EMP that covers the whole planet,” said Hector.

     He glanced at Eric, who said: “Right, just synchronize a series of high-altitude nuke blasts. Piece o’ cake.”

     “You’ve cut to the chase,” said Gavin with a chuckle. “And as far-fetched as a global electromagnetic pulse might seem from the square we’re on now, the means to pull it off might actually fall within our grasp further along in the game.” There were some gasps and whistles of disbelief. Gavin continued: “Of course it’ll take a few spins and we have to start from square one on this particular board. That’s exactly where my stratagem begins, but with some adept play we can win a major round in a very short time.”

     “I assume you’ll want to start with the electrical grid,” said Eric.

     “Right, that’s the spinal cord of the matrix and the central ganglion of our attack. As we’ve learned in our exploits abroad, it’s fairly easy to take down large sections of a country’s grid for strategic purposes. The hard part is keeping it down long enough to take the desired toll, which in this case is a catastrophic blow to the economy. If a wide enough area were affected ~ say the continental United States ~ it would cripple restoration efforts through sheer lack of available resources. But if that were the only thing that happened ~ a shutdown of the nation’s power grid ~ they’d probably muddle through and piece it back together soon enough to avoid the cataclysm. So our hack-job on the grid has to be supplemented by supportive tactical attacks on other elements of the matrix.”

     “Like oil and gas?” asked Flash.

     “Yes indeed. All good fourth-gen guerrillas know how easy it is to bomb pipelines running through isolated areas.”

     “But it’s more complicated than that,” said Hector. “I remember in the Iraq campaign how one of our allies showed me a map of a whole maze of buried pipelines, and they had pinpointed the critical one at the exact juncture where a small cache of well-placed bombs could take out the whole thing.”

     “Exactly!” said Gavin, giving a thumbs-up; “which is why I’ve taken the liberty of preparing such a map for all vital areas in the good ol’ USA.”

     There was a chorus of ‘Wow!’s, ‘Oh my God!’s, etcetera, punctuated by remarks like: “This guy’s dead serious!”

     From her seat Mindy piped up: “And we’ve also hacked into all the crucial parts of the electrical grid.”

     “Hey, we’re a great team, Athena!” said Gavin.

     “Yessir, Ramar!” she replied. “I can hardly wait to pull the plug!” Suddenly she covered her mouth and said, “Oops, I gave it away!”

     “Perfectly cool,” said Gavin with a hearty laugh. “You deserve the honor of revealing the code name of our operation.”

     “Whoa, that’s it?” said Spike.

     “Yep,” said Gavin, “we’re gonna pull the plug on the global matrix. Just like in that science fiction story, technological civilization will grind to a halt.”

10. Divine Intervention