"The president of the United States is dead. I repeat - President James Harwood is dead."
Max Steiner, 53 year old retired FBI analyst, felt the remote fall from his fingers. What!?
"The president was murdered at around 2PM today in the middle of a press conference and in full view of the video cameras. At the time there has been no information about the assassins or their method of assassination, but we have obtained permission to air the tape from earlier today. Video coming up."
"-and we will not allow ourselves to be intimidated by the terror tactics of an unknown organization. To the murderers of Senator Mark Bailey and Senator Harold Whitmoore: we will catch you, and we will drag you into the light of justice. We will not allow your terror tactics to frighten us into -"
Suddenly the screen went blindingly white. The President stopped in midsentence and there was a strange gurgling sound. As the light faded away, a few screams broke out in the newsroom.
Max Steiner watched from his couch, and despite the situation he had to give a nod to the Secret Service. They had maybe a second to react, a second of pandemonium and blindness, and already three of them had swarmed the president, protecting him with their bodies. They were professionals, and damned good at their jobs. This time, however, it didn't seem to do any good.
"Honey!" Max called. "Honey! You need to come see this."
President James Harwood slumped onto one of the agents. There were no visible marks on his body, except for a symbol on his forehead that was hard to make out at this angle. Panic broke out in the room. An agent walked toward the camera, and the scene cut out in a burst of static.
"That was the scene at the White House about an hour ago during..."
"What is it Max?" Max's wife entered and smiled at her husband. "Something interesting on the ne- oh my god..."
She stared at the headline on the bottom of the screen, briefcase slipping from her hands. "Is this for real?"
Max nodded. "Yeah."
Eleanor joined her husband on the couch. "Oh my god..." she said again. "Was it...?"
Max shrugged. "Dunno, but it was... strange."
"What's going to happen now?"
"Chain of command. They'll pass things on to the Vice President, probably."
"No I mean what are they going to do about those people? The murderers?"
On the TV, there was a shot of the symbol on the late President's head. It looked like a stylized eye with a pyramid in its pupil. The lines were drawn in blood red, but Max noted that it lacked the fuzziness that normally accompanied an attempt to draw in blood. The anchors were saying "-have suggested the Illuminati, the Stonemasons and just about every other-"
Max smiled at his wife. "They'll find them."
She seemed not to hear. "I mean, Bailey was an asshole and Whitmoore just kept staring at my boobs the last time we saw him, but they can't just kill the President. I mean... the president...!"
Max frowned a little at his wife. Almost fifty years old and still swearing like a teenager. He put an arm around her. "Language, honey."
"Sorry, but... the president...! They could have just gotten him impeached, or something!"
"Yeah, I know."
There was a long pause as they watched the news. Then Eleanor gently squeezed her husband's arm. The fifty-three year old former Marine Sergeant and amateur boxer looked a little anxious.
"Don't worry too much, honey, you're not doing that stuff anymore."
"You'll get gray hair, you old fart" Eleanor said, with false joviality .
"I know." Max squeezed her shoulders and sighed. "I know."
"You're going to come out of retirement... aren't you?"
Eleanor said nothing.
"This just in folks! We just received word that a video has been posted on Youtube, allegedly by the perpetrators of today's assassination of President Harwood."
Today's assassination? Max thought. What ,do they expect one every day, now? Though, he admitted grimly, with the way things were going now, the idea didn't seem too far fetched.
A video came up on the screen. It lacked the grainy, low quality look of most amateur Youtube videos - whoever made this was a professional. The video itself was a recording of an American flag, snapping in the breeze. And over this, a voice spoke. It was passed through a speech distorter, and a good one too. The voice sounded almost like it was digitally generated, but it had the inflection Max associated with a distorted voice.
"People of America. People of the world. Today we have shown you what we are capable of. We are not playing games. In recent days the corrupt dealings of President Harwood have become well-known. He has abused the public trust time and time again, and he will abuse it no more."
The scene cut to a figure sitting in a room that looked suspiciously like the President's office in the White House. The room was brightly lit, but the person was indistinguishable. It was as if someone had replaced a man with his shadow - the figure was completely black, with no facial features to speak of. And yet it moved slightly, like a living thing, its shadowy chest rising and falling with its breath.
"A manifesto has been delivered to the head offices of every major world government and multinational corporation. It is a rulebook for all those whom Justice herself can not reach. For too long have the rich and powerful lived by their own rules - now let them truly be held accountable."
"If they choose to exceed the outlined acceptable levels of corruption, we will hold them accountable. If they choose to put their personal gains ahead of the people they serve, we will hold them accountable. If they choose to abuse the power that they have been given, we will hold them accountable. Let this be the final warning to those who thought themselves above the law. We know who you are, and when we catch you we will not be taking you to court."
The video stopped.
Max and his wife exchanged glances.
"They're insane!" Eleanor said.
Max shook his head. "The Senators needed to be held accountable, but -"
"-not like this! They didn't deserve this! Losing their lives over a few under-the-table deals?
That's insane! They should have just given the evidence to the courts! This... this is..."
Max nodded. Insane.
On a computer screen somewhere...
--meek10: "Insane. They were going to impeach Harwood anyway. Now look at this mess! How the f*** does that help the American people in any way shape or form?"
--newegg: "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. You can't change the way the world works without killing a few people. I mean, you didn't seriously expect our corrupt politicians to just lie down and accept justice, did you?"
--jared_: newegg: You're crazy.
--meek10: newegg: Justice? What f***ing country do you live in? Last I checked the punishment for stealing money was prison, not death! And s***, you can't just murder the president of the United States! No matter what he may or may not have done.
--newegg: So you can murder someone else? What makes him above the law?
--jared_: newegg: Do you seriously agree with what these a**holes are doing?
--charon: jared_: wat, u don't? it's about time someone killed these a**holes. (politicins)
--amelie: PolBot: ~grammar charon
--PolBot: charon: Please watch your spelling/grammar (This is your SECOND warning).
Tiberius appeared. There was no other word for it. One moment the room was empty, and the next moment there was just a young man standing there. There were no sound effects, no flashing lights, just a young man blinking into existence.
The young man collapsed onto a chair and took a sip from a glass of water. Whew. Killing the president wouldn't have been difficult, except Tiberius had to make it look good. If the man had just collapsed in mid-speech it may have looked like a heart attack and not the work of some powerful organization.
The symbol, Tiberius thought, was a particularly nice touch.
President Harwood's assassin ran a hand through his tangle of hair. At 23, Tiberius was handsome in a boyish sort of way. He didn't look very threatening, much less dangerous, and yet at this moment he was quite possibly the most powerful human being on the planet.
The most powerful human being? Well that wasn't exactly true... Do I even still qualify as a human being?
Tiberius grinned at the thought. Whatever, time to see how he was doing. He glanced toward the TV. CNN was showing coverage of the presidential assassination. Tiberius watched for a few minutes, then shut it off. The coverage was nothing new, and it seemed the 'authorities' had no idea what was going on. They'd detained everyone from the press conference, though that would do them no good.
The young man turned to his computer and the IRC chatrooms he had left running. His account this time was cherry93, a supposedly 20-year old girl from Australia. Cherry was agnostic on most issues and didn't usually talk much, so she was generally a good account for watching other people. Good for putting a finger to the pulse of the world.
--cherry93: Did anybody else see the news?? omg!
--amelie: cherry93: We all have, hon :(
--cherry93: Hi amelie!
The nick 'amelie' was one of the moderators of the channel #Politics on the freenode chatrooms. Tiberius, under the guise of cherry93, had talked to her several times about a number of issues, and he strongly suspected that 'amelie' was actually a guy with girly chat etiquette. It fit the profile.
--newegg: meek10: F*** democracy. It never really worked. How many times have you seen some rich kid get away with murdering some bystander in a street race? They kill some poor f***er, then settle with the family out of court and hire an expensive lawyer to worm their way out of jail. That's democracy?
--piggy: newegg: No, that's capitalism. They earned their rite to do this.
--piggy: s/rite/right, sorry
--cherry93: So... if you were a powerful organization able to go anywhere and kill anyone, what would you do?
--meek10: cherry93: Nothing. The world doesn't need that s***
--amelie: cherry93: Interesting question hon.
--amelie: I mean, there definitely are some a**holes I think the world would be better off without (sorry about the language ;))
--newegg: I'd do exactly what these guys are doing.
--meek10: newegg: You're f***ed up.
--amelie: meek10: No personal attacks!
--meek10: cherry93: Okay, so there are some instances where killing someone will solve the problem. But who the hell are they to decide when those instances are, and who they should kill? They claim that all their victims will be guilty, but how do we know that? They're no better than any other gang.
--cherry93: So it would be okay to kill them if there was public proof of their guilt?
--meek10: cherry93: Well no, but at least then people could see and judge for themselves.
--charon: maybe sumone shud make a site for ratting out polis, lol :P
***charon has been banned by amelie (Please learn grammer and spelling)
--cherry93: amelie: You spelled grammar wrong :P
Tiberius stared at the screen for a while. A website, huh? Not a bad idea, but...
But whoever did it would immediately come under the scrutiny of criminal investigators, wouldn't they? Not to mention they'd probably be arrested. Terrified politicians can exert a lot of pressure on the police. No, building a site was out of the question.
Tiberius decided he'd have to get someone to make it for him. Should he approach someone personally, or...
--newegg: charon: That's not a bad idea... oh, he's gone. Ah well, anybody else here got web experience?
... or just wait for somebody to decide to do it themselves. He loved the internet, sometimes.
--cherry93: newegg: You're not seriously going to make a site are you?
--newegg: cherry93: Yeah! Why not? It'll scare the living daylights out of the corrupt.
--cherry93: That's practically being an accessory to murder!
--newegg: cherry93: I doubt the Organization needs a website to help it find targets...
--cherry93: You aren't worried about the FBI arresting you?
--newegg: Nah :) I'm not in their jurisdiction, anyway
--meek10: newegg: You're crazy man!
--ashK: newegg: I'm in.
--jinjin: newegg: I'm in.
--amelie: meek10: No personal attacks! (Seriously!)
--jinjin: lol jinx :)
--meek10: How was that a personal attack?!
***meek10 has been kicked by amelie (Cool down!)
All in all, things were looking bright.