|A Year and Change|
"Sargon" was Sultan's nom-de-guerre for this operation. Nagy told Sultan's man, "I will report, but Major Horthy is my second-in-command. My men don't know you, and most of them don't speak Arabic."
"I speak English. Report to the commander immediately. Oh, could I have your bullhorn?"
Nagy shrugged, handed it over, and left the East Room, pushing his way through a clot of Sultan's men. They were all using flashlights, something that did not inspire Nagy's confidence.
Nagy found Sultan and began his report. "We have captured their president; I have seen her and spoken with her. Their security forces are clearing the areas near us, according to what we hear on their command frequencies. We also have the officer with their nuclear codes, and the French and Japanese ambassadors and ministers. The police have just been ordered to set up roadblocks . . . "
The newcomer mounted the performing platform, turned his flashlight on his face, and, using the bullhorn, announced, "Attention, prisoners. I am Major Baiburs. I am in charge of all prisoners. You will find me very reasonable as long as you remember my three rules. They are very simple rules, easy for you to remember. First rule: Prisoners do not speak without permission. Second Rule: Prisoners do what my men and I order you to do. Third Rule: Prisoners do nothing else. You will follow these three rules as long as you are my prisoners."
Baiburs then switched to Arabic and ordered, "One man to each door. The rest of you, bind all of them, hands behind." Then he dismounted the platform, approached Major Horthy and said, "Tell your men they can go now. I'm sure the leftenent colonel will have need of them."
Major Horthy asked, "Don't any of your men have night vision gear?"
"No," replied Baiburs. "My men don't need it for their work."
Horthy said, "Then I'm leaving one man here to watch the East. The Americans might try something from there, over the East Wing roof."
Baiburs said, "That would be very foolish. But the Americans do foolish things. Post your man for now, but get the rest out of here. The prisoners are to be managed by me and my detachment."
Major Horthy noted that Baiburs men were already managing the prisoners with shouts and blows. Baiburs had spoken truthfully; they seemed to work efficiently enough in the dark. Their flashlights were robust; several used them as clubs without breaking them. Baiburs men were more than mere thugs, though; none of the prisoners were collapsing permanently. They knew how to apply violence with care; how to cause pain without disabling. <Political policemen,> Horthy thought. She had had experience with many kinds of them.
Horthy found Nagy with Sultan in the central hall. Men were rushing everywhere, some bringing in the last of the stuff from the vehicles, others herding prisoners toward the East Room, and many bounding up the stairs.
Usagi was finally awakened by a gun barrel shoved into her ribs. A man was shouting, "Move! Out!"
Usagi did not, of course, understand the complete situation, but she did know something was very wrong.
"Move! Out!" Again, the thrusting gun.
"I can't!," cried Usagi. "I'm paralyzed!"
Usagi reached out into the man's mind. It was full of words she did not understand. But she could understand impulses, and found that this man was about to shoot her. She acted accordingly, transforming and turning him and his gun into minute wisps of dust. The sudden transformation, without preparation, was too much for her, and Sailor Moon passed out, turning back into Usagi.
A few minutes later, another man investigated the Lincoln bedroom. He had more English, more compassion, and more common sense. He left her where she was, a problem to be sorted out later.
No one noticed that a man was missing, yet.
Sultan's own military man was known as Major Fahd. Nagy rated him as a reasonably competent officer, though he knew nothing of his background. Fahd was making a report. "We have searched all rooms in the two upper floors and checked the roof. Only three people were found, two servants and a crippled woman."
"Crippled?" asked Sultan.
"Wheelchair bound," Fahd explained. "I suggest waiting until the elevator works before moving her down here."
Nagy said, "When and if the power is restored, I suppose. Commander Sargon, can you contact John? I haven't been able to reach him."
"His part of this operation has concluded," said Sultan/Sargon. "Continue, Fahd."
"All the rooms below us on the ground floor and in the first basement have been searched. The second basement has some rooms with security doors. Should we use explosives to open them?"
"No," said Sultan. "Colonel Nur will request the codes from the Americans."
Nagy, or "Nur" for this operation, said, "I'll do that as soon as we finish here. My people report there is still much activity in the West Wing, though the area near us seems to be clear. They are scurrying to clear out files, some of them. The East Wing is quiet. Shall I send out patrols on schedule, or give them more time?"
Sultan said, "Warn the Americans again. Tell them to open all the doors before they evacuate. I should have thought of that . . . Tell them again that anyone found in the building will be taken prisoner, and anyone resisting will be shot, and that we will begin executing prisoners in retaliation for any hostile action. Then send out the patrols on schedule, but tell them to start slowly. That should give the Americans enough time to finish clearing the building."
Power was restored to the White House shortly after two. This was not a joyous occasion for the prisoners in the East Room, because now their guards could see more clearly; they could move faster, and find who was talking more easily, and hit more accurately.
It also meant that Kimi could not use her magic eye any more, because the guards would surely see it. Like the others, her hands were tied behind her back; she couldn't hide her third eye. She had risked using it in the dark for a second or two at a time, trying to find out what was happening with her mother and the babies, especially after they took away Ikuko-chan and Rei's baby. Rei had been first; she had fought, hurting two of the guards. But Baiburs, the man in charge, had ordered her to stop or they would shoot her, her baby, and all the other prisoners. Rei gave up, and they had taken her to the performing platform, lit her up with their flashlights, and beaten her in front of everyone. Sarah had handed off Ikuko-chan to Kimi when they bound her, but the guards had bound Kimi too, simply leaving Ikuko-chan on the floor for a long time until Baiburs had ordered one of them to take her away.
Soon after the lights came on, Baiburs had all the men taken away. The President was gone; Kimi had not noticed when she was taken away.
With power, the elevators were working again. No one thought to take Usagi down for awhile. She had been put in her wheelchair and left in the hallways, moved about occasionally. Quite a number of the intruders passed by her, and some had paused long enough and close enough for her to do a little careful work on their guns. But it was obvious there were many intruders. Listening to their thoughts was fruitless; they thought in languages Usagi did not understand. Quite a lot could speak English, and a few spoke with her, briefly. She didn't yet know the distinctions, but these men were Fahd's, or, in one case, Nagy's.
At half past two, Sultan took a final look-around before retiring to the Presidential bedroom. He noticed Usagi. After a moment of thought, he went to her. "It looks like we forgot someone. Who are you."
"My name is Usagi Chiba."
"Are you part of the staff here?" asked Sultan.
"No, I am just a guest," replied Usagi, trying to read Sultan.
"Oh. Your bad luck to be here tonight. Is one of the children yours?"
"Four of the children are mine," said Usagi. The words in his mind were indecipherable, but she caught an image of the Blue Room, with the babies. It was black and white. "Two of them are babies. They are twins. I want to see them."
"Of course." Sultan felt unsettled for a moment, but he resumed his act. "What about your husband? Is he part of the staff here?"
Usagi realized her command power would not work on this man, at least not now. She spoke hesitantly, as if frightened, while she tried to ruin the guns Sultan's bodyguards were carrying. "No . . . My husband is a doctor. He had to work at his hospital . . . We live in California."
"Ah, California! I would like so much to visit your state again. But I think you will be seeing it much sooner than I." Sultan turned and walked away. When he was out of earshot, he told one of his bodyguards, "Have one of Baiburs' men come up to collect that woman."
Usagi was collected a few minutes later. The guard bound her hands immediately, explained the rules in the elevator and slapped her when they passed the Blue Room. Usagi had heard all the babies crying and asked to see them. She tried a command on the guard, but he only got angrier and slapped her harder.
In the East Room, she was taken to a man who asked her name and checked it off a list. He wrote her name on a file card with a marker and stapled the card to her gown. Then another guard pushed her wheelchair to the other prisoners. He was a lazy man; he simply parked her in a gap in the first row and left her there, facing the others. She was far from Sarah and Kimi, whom she had only glimpsed. She was next to Rei, who had a torn gown and a bruised arm. The guards had been careful not to touch her head when they beat her. Haruka and Michiru were fairly close, and their children except for the babies, but the rest around her were people she had never seen before tonight
A few minutes after Usagi arrived, and had had time to read Rei's thoughts, she recognized Naru's voice crying out in pain, and then Pleione and Maia shouting. Usagi called out in Japanese, "Pero-chan, Mai-chan, don't! You can't fight them now!" Usagi could see their sigils as they stood up: they were about to transform.
Someone from behind her slapped her and asked, "What did you say?"
"I told Pleione and Maia to stop!"
"That was excellent advice to give them. But prisoners do not talk without permission."
The crisis passed. Usagi noted down the guard who had started the trouble, and paid more attention to him than the others. Like all the other intruders, she did not understand his mother tongue, so she could not get as much from reading his thoughts as she would have liked. She was also tired, drained; only the desperation of the situation was keeping her awake. But she formed her decision over the next hour or so. Many of the guards enjoyed inflicting pain, but the guard who had hurt Naru seemed to enjoy it most, and he was the most energetic. He seemed to feel poorly; Usagi expected Ishtar was literally sending him ill feelings. Conserving her energy and waiting for the right moment, Usagi decided to give this guard something worse than ill feelings.
At first, Usagi wasn't sure she had affected the man. He slapped her for looking at him when he got close. He wore leather gloves, so that he didn't hurt his hands when he struck people. She hadn't had very long at all to make her attack. But after a few minutes, the guard sat down in one of the chairs they had taken for themselves. Some time later, the guard seemed to be asleep. The man who had given Usagi her name tag came over to him and slapped him. Instead of waking up, he fell off the chair.
Nagy had been snatching some sleep when he was summoned to see Sultan. He was taken to the Yellow Room, and then to a room next to it. Inside he found Sultan, Baiburs, and Fahd. Nagy noticed that Sultan was wearing pajamas, and a robe with the seal of the American president on the breast. "Commander Sargon, what is the situation?"
"Close the door, Colonel."
Nagy complied, and came up to the others. They were by the window. Sultan turned away, parted the curtains, and peered out. Without turning back, he said, "We have two problems. Fill in the leftenent colonel, Major Baiburs."
Baiburs said, "One of my men is sick. I called for the medic, but he is not to be found."
Nagy remarked, "Really? One of my men was asking for for him before the power came up."
Baiburs said, "The man seems to have been missing for rather longer than that. Major Fahd has assured us that the man was very loyal and held a personal grudge against the Americans. He was so eager, he borrowed a rifle and joined the search team Fahd sent up here. That is the last time anyone seems to remember him."
Sultan said, "From now on, any people going outside the mansion area will work in threes: One man from each of your groups. Anyone suspected of trying to desert will be questioned by Major Baiburs. Anyone in the act will be shot immediately." Sultan closed the curtains and turned to face Nagy. "Commander Nur, I am inclined to ask the Americans to return our missing man. Is that what you would do in my place?"
Nagy said, "No. The Americans have already had him for hours. If he deserted, he will have told them everything important that he knows. The damage is done. Also, the Americans are strangely tenderhearted to defectors; they won't give him up so we can shoot him. Not in front of all the television cameras, anyway."
Sultan nodded. "I will take your advice for now. We can always ask for him later. Baiburs, the other problem?"
Baiburs said, "Major Fahd managed to retain the medical supplies we brought, and his men found more. We have two doctors and one registered nurse among the prisoners. We will use them. I remind you that one of my men will be with the prisoner medics at all times. Your men are to speak only Arabic or English, and not to talk about anything other than their medical problems."
Dr. Mizuno said, "Your man's condition is deteriorating. There is nothing else we can do for him here with what we have. If you want to save him, send him to a hospital now."
Baiburs asked, "What is wrong with him?"
Dr. Han said, "Give us a hospital and we might find out for sure. I've never seen anything quite like it."
Dr. Mizuno said, "I have seen something like it. My mother spends most of her time in Africa. I saw something like this in one of her clinics."
"What was it?" asked Baiburs.
"Ebola. Your man's symptoms resemble an ebola infection more than anything else. Massive bleeding from the bowels, blood in the urine, the rapid onset of symptoms."
Baiburs eyed the prisoner-physician for a long moment. "My man had no fever."
"He doesn't have one now. The symptoms are not a perfect match, but this could be a new strain, or he could have a weakened immune system. I am a surgeon; not a specialist in infectious diseases. Ebola is my best guess."
"It could also be a way to frighten my men," said Baiburs. "Do not speak of this to anyone except me."
"Very well," said Dr. Mizuno.
"Now, tell me what else it could be," asked Baiburs.
Dr. Han said, "I can think of something that fits pretty good, but I've never seen a case."
"And what is that?" asked Baiburs.
"Radiation sickness," said Dr. Han. "That would explain the lack of a fever; there is no infection. But how would your guy get that?"
Baiburs paused for a moment, then said, "An interesting speculation. You will share this with no one but myself."
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