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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

FAR Future, Episode 89: Making the Call

And here’s this week’s bonus episode…

Wednesday, August 20, 2036
Making the Call

“Right.” I filled Rene in on what Col. Mustard told me. “Do you think you can dig up anything on Palmer Lanois, or any of his assistants? One of them might be who’s behind this Talon thing, and all the other stuff.”

“Probably.” He sat down at poked at his gadget for a few minutes. “I can get started now. The evening drop should give me something to work with tonight. Ready to go?”

“Yup. The pipes are clear and everything’s in place.” I wish I was that sure about everything besides the pipes.

We hiked up to the house, and Rene started banging away at the computer. “Anything turn up?” I asked after a few minutes.

“Yeah,” he said. “Lanois walked away from a mental hospital in Baton Rouge on September 1st last year, and just vanished.”

“The puzzle coming together?”

“This was definitely a missing piece. I think it’s time we share what we know.”

I rummaged around in my old contacts, and found the phone number from the Fibbies who interviewed me after the junta fell. I’ll refer to them as Mulder and Scully (and you probably have to be over 50 to catch that reference). I had no idea whether they were still with the Feds or not; they could have retired or moved on to some other department or section. But this was the number I had, and they told me to call if I ever learned any information.

“Director Mulder’s office,” the receptionist said. “Can I help you?”

I identified myself. “Mr. Mulder visited me some time ago, back when he was an agent, about a tenuous connection I had to the junta, and said to call me if I thought of anything. Something, maybe important, has fallen into my lap, and I think you guys need to take it from here. Oh… he wrote on the back of his card, ‘E317,’ does that mean anything?”

“Hang on a second, Mr. Fetched,” he said, and I heard taptappytappitytaptap. “Yes sir. Hold, please, I’m going to transfer you.”

I had the speaker on, and Rene and I looked at each other. “You think —”

“Director Mulder. You say you’ve learned something?”

“I may have. One of the people living with me, Rene Cardenas, he was in EDID in the war and —”

“Is he with you now?”

“Yes,” Rene said. “Is that all right?”

“Certainly,” said Mulder, and I heard tappity tap once again. “Oh… that Rene Cardenas?”

Rene sighed. “That’s him,” I laughed. “He’s a little modest about the war, but he does know how to go digging for info. You’re aware of the flood of flamebait coming down the newsfeeds, right? We might have connected it to Palmer Lanois, somehow.” I nudged Rene, and let him fill in Mulder on the visit from the Talon people, my relationship with Col. Mustard, and some connections that I hadn’t even been aware of.

“We’ve been watching these people too,” Mulder said. “But I have to admit, there are a couple of things we weren’t aware of. Mr. Cardenas: do you think they have some way to communicate off-net? We haven’t seen anything that looks coordinated on the net — or actionable.”

“Encrypted radio transmissions,” Rene said. “Send small packets, maybe over shortwave. You get a low bitrate, but for text that isn’t a huge problem and you don’t have to worry about routers. I don’t know if that’s what they’re doing, but that’s one way to do it. Sunspots are pretty high right now, so the higher end of the band is open a lot.”

“Right. I really appreciate this information. We’ll see if we can find anything suspicious on the air. If we’re lucky, it’ll lead us to Lanois. Thanks for your time.” He hung up.

“That was a little rude,” Rene said.

“He’s probably excited. I suspect getting Lanois back on the reservation is their Number One priority at the moment.”

“Probably —” Serena and Pat walking in broke that train of thought.

“I was starting to get worried,” Serena said. “It would have been nice if you’d let us know what was going on.” Pat gave me his what’s going on anyway? look.

I looked at the clock on the computer. “An hour and a half? I’m sorry, Serena. I got a call from Col. Mustard and he gave me a name. Rene found out the guy — Palmer Lanois, the one we called Swamp Thing back in the junta days — has been loose since last September, and —” Too late, I realized Pat was still there, taking it all in.

“Pat, why don’t you head on back?” Serena suggested. “Let the others know everything’s OK.”

“What’s going on?” Pat said. “I want to know.”

“Rene could tell you,” I said, “but then he’d have to kill you.” Serena snorted and Rene gave me a puzzled look. Pat just shook his head and left, poking at his gadget as he went. I waved at Rene and Serena to carry on, and caught up to Pat as he was going out the door.

“There’s some stuff going on,” I told him, “and we might have figured out where it’s coming from.”

“You mean with the refugees? I hear stuff all the time, but they’re not like that. We have two families here, and it’s been fine.”

“I know. But somebody’s making a bunch of noise, trying to get people stirred up, and we’re trying to find out why.”

“So who is it?”

“Some people, at least one of them anyway, who were associated with the junta back when.”

“Gas. I wasn’t even born when they got thrown out. They’re still around?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It might be some other group using one old junta guy.”


I took advantage of the pause: “You making any headway on your new clatter track?”

He pulled it up on his gadget. Knowing how to change the subject is most of the battle.



  1. Hi Far

    I've come to this saga late in the piece (only some months ago, and somewhat infrequently). Therefore, a lot of elements of the broad public/political/economic environment behind the day-to-day narrative are a little "hazy". I'd LOVE to go back to the beginning and read everything, but... well... the practicalities of that commitment are intimidating.
    Would it be possible for you to post a really brief thumbnail of
    the macro-history since 2009? Things like when the Foreclosure Administration finally evolved into a permanent fixture of the FED Govt... the Junta - who they were and and how it came to be, and how it failed...when oil all but disappeared...how come the internet/cell networks still function...is electricity still reticulated or does the FAR Manor rely on personal generation? And like that...
    Hey - I know you're busy too, and your narrative is adictive, but I'd like to have some of these elements clarified.

    While I am fortunate enough to live in New Zealand, I doubt we'll be much insulated from the coming shit-storm. We are growing a lot of food ourselves on our household plot, and introduced the chickens this last summer...

  2. argh!

    I've forgotten my Google acct password, so had to publish as Anon - sorry - I hate "Anon".

    I'm Mike, and live in Dunedin, NZ (lower south island, on the Pacific coast). My wife and I ae in our early fifties, and have 3 sons - 18, 15, & 12 (fun fun fun!)

    We live near the city (only 10 minutes to work by fossilfuel driven transport, or 40 minutes walk!) but live in a virtually rural area, with our own 1/4 acre plot, and newly acquired access to a further 2 acres directly behind us, which will be prepared this winter for a serious foray into staple-level gardening in the Spring (Sept/Oct).

  3. Hi Mike, and welcome to the free-range insane asylum!

    I know that reading a novel-length story on a blog can be quite a chunk, although I'm surprised to have heard several people did it (and fairly recently). But here's a synopsis: around 2012, things started going pear-shaped with rolling blackouts, with natgas as well as petrol shortages. Over the next two winters, things got pretty bad for some people; Kim and Serena came to live with us in early 2014 when their parents dropped them off at our mailbox before getting killed in a shootout over stolen gasoline. The Cardenas family (Guillermo, Maria, Rene, Christina) arrived a month later, "will work for room and board."

    Many "red" (highly conservative) demagogues used the disruptions to seize attention for a secession movement. That fizzled, but the "Georgia citizens' militia" that came of it later waged a brief (one day) water war with the Tennessee National Guard, which elevated to actual shooting for about 20 seconds. In July 2014, the militias launched a coordinated attack on DC and seized power, forming a junta. The west coast immediately seceded, and the junta (aka Wingnutistan) just couldn't get it together. Over the next 9 years, things deteriorated in general, culminating in the 2019-2020 H5N1 flu pandemic. Early on, Kim and Christina, the artist├ęs, fell in love and were unofficially married shortly after both Kim and Maria (Christina's madre) were stricken and recovered from the flu. BTW, Christina is a genius and has been a biochemist since her early teen years; she wrote and illustrated an elementary-level textbook used by most schools (and by 2036 is teaching biochemistry at Georgia State University in Atlanta; Kim teaches undergrad-level Spanish there.)

    In an attempt to create a diversion from their bungling of the pandemic response, the junta ginned up a war with Iran. To get warm bodies for the war, they offered fugitive Hispanics citizenship and residence permits in return for signing up, and Rene took them up on it. They then drafted Kim and Serena, but both ended up in non-combat roles (Serena as an MP at Ramstein, Kim teaching English to Hispanic recruits). The war didn't work out, although Rene (and the four-man unit he belonged to) distinguished themselves by standing off three Iranian tanks with two RPG launchers and a little bluster.

    Like what happened in Argentina after the Falklands War, enough states and regions finally got fed up enough with the junta to throw them out. They withdrew to Texas in August 2022, and made their last stand in Dallas in March 2023. This marked the beginning of the Restoration, which can be said to have lasted until August 2035 when a huge chunk of Greenland ice fell into the sea, raising sea levels by 3m.

    Foreclosures were pretty much a thing of the past by 2014; the banks renegotiated, walked away, or simply died. Grid electricity in 2036 is rationed, but FAR Manor (and many other places) have solar and/or wind to provide enough to get by. Cell networks function simply because they're considered important enough to get priority (although you can't count on a given cell being up 24/7!) and the Internet has essentially devolved to a store-and-forward mechanism like Usenet outside major cities.

    And that should get you caught up!

  4. BTW, I'm 50, with kids 21 and 19, and thought I was getting a late start with the offspring thing. :-) The elder (aka The Boy) has IRL knocked up his girlfriend, so I have a grandkid on the way a bit early.

  5. Hi Far. A brief history would be a great idea for newcomers to the tale. I've only just gotten around to catching up on the latest installments because I have been so busy lately.

  6. Hey Boran, I've dumped a synopsis up above. When I post the last episode, I'll follow up with a table of contents with a timeline & links to each episode.


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