The Matter of the Clones
Disclaimer -- Star Wars and BtVS are still not mine, I'm just borrowing their toys for now...A/N -- Figures on North Korea were cited from the CIA World Factbook website, and references to Senate procedure can be found at www.senate.gov; look for Senate Rule XXVI (26 for those of us non-Roman numeral reading folk), it's all there...oh, Senators, please forgive my presumptiveness and arrogance in using your rules for my story...*clasps hands together in supplication*Washington, D.C., The Senate, classified hearing
Hera knew this moment would eventually come; in fact, she had prepared for it. The government would have eventually grown weary of her independent actions with her ADAM clones, and would therefore want to take her to task for it. She played out the potential questions in her mind.
Had her army, or a portion thereof, gone rogue? Had she decided to alter their genetic programming to an unspecified extent, thus enabling them to act independently of her command? Or had she implanted a secret directive on the part of the clones, to lay dormant until the appropriate time?
What guarantee could she and her company offer that the clones would not act contrary to their mandate? What assurances could she provide that they would remain in compliance with her directives, in accordance with the Congressional resolution that placed the clones under DOD jurisdiction?
More importantly, how could she ensure that any future operations undertaken by clone units would not occur without Congressional or Senate oversight?
North Korea had had their legs cut out from under them, so to speak, with the extinction of their armed forces at the hands of her clones. As a result, families were being reunited in the Korean Peninsula. People in favour of a peaceful reunification, or “Tong-Il” in the Korean language, were speaking out all over the social media. Facebook, MySpace, YouTube…all social networking sites were being flooded with images and vids of joyful families and soldiers that were happily laying down their arms; these segments and related images, and the subsequent comments, had gone viral in less than twenty four hours. Never mind that the regional situation had rankled Beijing and Moscow, and that Japan was now growing nervous about a possible resurgence in Korean nationalism, which would almost certainly precede a clamour for retribution against Tokyo.
The Koreans were celebrating the fall of a brutal, repressive regime, the Pacific region had been destabilized, and Darth Hera could not be happier.
As for Mexico, the growing occupation of the border states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Chihuahua and Baja California was proceeding apace. The drug cartels had not faced a more fearsome and ruthless foe in their entire history. Clone intelligence units were using magickal means of listening in on cartel communications, and learning more about their operations than the US government ever could with conventional means. Every tunnel had been collapsed or plugged, every port of entry monitored by clones using their own craft, which were faster than anything the Coast Guard or the Border Patrol had.
The flow of narcotics had been cut in half already, and Hera’s clone troopers were set to annihilate the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas in one fell stroke; the others would follow, disbanding on demand when they realized the lengths to which the clones would go. When that happened, the supply lines would be cut, and narcotics and controlled substances would become a nonfactor. Local law enforcement on the streets of communities within the United States and Mexico could concentrate more fully on getting drugs off the streets and getting people drug free, without worrying about more drugs coming in to replace the ones that were intercepted and destroyed. The clone army would solve the drug problem on a strategic level, thus gaining the favour of the border states on the US-Mexico border.
Now the question became that of getting Congress to sanction the next step in her plan of securing key territories planet wide. Each operation thus far had won the hearts and minds of the local populace, or soon would. That was the key to her strategy – giving the people what they needed.
She would use the Senate inquest to her advantage, galvanizing them in the pursuit of her goals, think though they would that they were prosecuting their own interests. She would make their case for war with her next target.
They looked at her now, each face carrying in its lines and frowns at least a decade of political experience. They all knew she had backed Tom Grayson in his re-election bid. They knew she had fronted the cash for it. In their eyes she may as well have had his place in the Senate; she pulled the strings, and he answered. The new clone forces under US military jurisdiction were her creation. It was an unprecedented state of affairs for the Department of Defence, as never before had they had the means to deploy combat troops to hot spots across the planet while keeping American lives out of harm’s way; it was indeed a slippery slope they were on.
Senator Jane West was in her glory. The Georgia Democrat regarded the corporate executive with all the hunger of a predator. She would have her pound of flesh before the end of this hearing, she swore. She did not want to be held in the grip of this woman sitting before the full Senate today. In her mind, Willow Rosenberg had much to answer for, and those answers were sure to be her downfall. West already saw the future of this woman. She saw the assets of Bio Research Solutions frozen and seized. She saw the clones recalled and destroyed, every piece of technology incorporated into the regular armed forces. Humans would use that tech; there was no soldier in the Senator’s eyes that had not volunteered for the service. There was honour and sacrifice in the profession of arms; Rosenberg’s clones removed those vital aspects of military service as the clones were grown knowing no other purpose in life but war. She would see Rosenberg thrown in the deepest hole in Fort Leavenworth for raising what amounted to her own private army. It was against the Constitution, which granted the power to wage war to the Congress, Letter of Marque and Reprisal be damned.
Tom Grayson knew he had to cover his ass about that LMR. It was an answer to a problem that started with North Korea’s virtual castration by Rosenberg’s clones, and was now making its presence felt in Northern Mexico with what was being dubbed by Internet conspiracy nuts as “the final solution to the cartel problem.” The Zetas and the Gulf Cartel had been nearly annihilated, and the few survivors of the clones’ onslaught were now in the custody of the “Federales”, as Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI was known. The other cartels, the lesser known criminal organizations, and even the street gangs such as MS13 and the Mexican Mafia were running scared. The clone forces in Mexico and in North Korea had taken no prisoners and shown no quarter, and everyone on YouTube, Facebook and the other social media sites were commenting with everything, from outrage at not allowing a diplomatic and legal resolution to take precedence, to praise at the US government pulling out all the stops and putting a decisive end to the illegal drug problem. The hasty response to the action in North Korea, the Letter of Marque and Reprisal he had pushed hastily through Congress, was limited only to the clones’ actions in North Korea; it was too narrowly defined, too specific to allow for any loose interpretation.
There would have to be another solution formulated for what had now amounted to an on-going effort on the part of Rosenberg’s private militia, as rumour had it in certain circles of Congress and the Senate.
The Vice President of the United States, in his capacity today as President of the Senate, was of two minds about the whole scenario. It had paid for him to be able to play both sides against the middle and achieve results that benefited him and his constituents during his tenure In the House of Representatives. He achieved balance with every deal he made in Washington, but first and foremost he upheld the Constitution of the United States. Ryan Paulus had to apply the same strategy today in this hearing. This woman, this Willow Rosenberg, was being upbraided for her soldiers’ unilateral actions without sanction by the Department of Defence, and she needed to have an answer that favoured the Congress, or else it would not go well for her.
“This hearing will now come to order,” he began to intone, “in the matter of Willow Rosenberg, Chief Executive Officer of Bio Research Solutions, and the actions of the military force comprised of certain cloned artificial life forms conceived and produced by Ms Rosenberg. An investigation by an independent panel into the action in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which action resulted in the complete elimination of the DPRK’s military component, determined that said clone military elements were responsible for conducting the operation which claimed the lives of all one and one-fourths million North Korean service members, along with the entirety of their combat equipment, and which has since destabilized the political situation in the Pacific theatre. Statements have been submitted by all relevant witnesses in accordance with Senate Rule XXVI, Paragraph Four. As attendance of the full Senate has been required in this matter, no procedure for quorum has been set, and notice of such requirement has been submitted with the clerk of the Senate in accordance with Senate Rule XXVI, Paragraph Three. “
Hera sat through the whole rigmarole of the opening procedure, as the Vice President went on. She expressed outwardly the patience of Job from the Christian Bible, and yet inwardly she wished fervently that she and her apprentice could wade through this chamber and eliminate every one of these pompous windbags. The Vice President went on.
“Due to the nature of written testimony provided by Miss Rosenberg and subsequent witnesses, it has been deemed necessary to hold this hearing in closed session in accordance with Senate Rule XXVI, Paragraph Five, clauses One, Three, and Six having particular effect in the invocation of Paragraph Five. Miss Rosenberg, you may make your opening statement at this time,” he concluded.
Hera stood and regarded each Senator with a cold, calculating glimpse that betrayed not one iota of her true purpose.
“Honourable Senators,” she began, “you have summoned me to this chamber to testify on a matter of national security; of particular note, you have called me before this illustrious chamber to discuss the matter of operations conducted by my clone soldiers in recent days. I created these clones as part of a project under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defence and DARPA, and said project was intended to reduce the risk of injury or death of American soldiers in general and specific combat operations. As soon as the clones reached maturity and emerged from their incubation chambers, they were implanted with technology that enabled them to instantaneously transmit, receive, and process information relating to combat operations, and through such technology they were programmed with the knowledge and ability to conduct any type of combat operation deemed necessary by circumstances in the field. The result has been a combat ready force that is highly adaptable, highly mobile, and, as recent operations have shown, mission capable to a superior degree than that of their human counterparts in the Department of Defence.”
“Ask any general or colonel in the Armed Forces,” she went on, “and they will gladly relate that the clones I produced have taken a great and sorrowful burden from their shoulders, as the deaths of human service members have historically necessitated the writing of letters to family members, resulting in much grief, heartbreak, and outrage. My clones remove that requirement in that they are one family in and of themselves. They are one family with a singular purpose, and each member of that family knows the reason for which they live and embrace it wholeheartedly. They live to serve the United States of America, they have taken the Oath of Support and Defence of the Constitution, and they have pledged their lives and their deaths in that cause from the moment they emerged from their incubators.”
“You also asked certain of my clone officers and commanders to appear before this chamber and the full Senate, and I have ordered them to do so. They appear now in accordance with those orders and the subpoenas this Senate has issued as witnesses to the operations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Mexico, and they shall testify in regard to those matters. They, and the troopers under their command, were placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defence as a result of a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee chaired by the Honourable Senator Tom Grayson,” and here she inclined her head toward the Senator, “with a warning that the use of what amounts to a slave army has put us on a slippery slope towards a dictatorship akin to Nazi Germany. The historical example of Nazi Germany relates to my statement today in that they attempted to create a master race of humanity that would rule the world and place all other, as they had deemed us then, ‘desirable’ races subject to their domination, the ‘undesirable’ races having been removed from the earth in a eugenics campaign toward that end.”
“Honourable Members of the Senate,” she said, “my clones are not what we would term a slave army. They are willing servants, who knowingly took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and they shall bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and as they are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defence, they shall obey the orders of the President of the United States, and all officers appointed over them in accordance with regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They know the score, Honourable Delegates, and they bear us no ill will in that regard. They have minds of their own, they think creatively, and yet they have knowingly and wilfully placed themselves under the authority of the Congress of the United States. Should this body feel the need to ask my clones whether they feel the urge to throw themselves in harm’s way to preserve the lives of Americans at home and abroad, whether they hear the call of duty, to a man they would each say ‘yes’, and they would speak it with pride in their country and glad humility in their hearts.”
“In the weeks prior to the operation in North Korea, I received from this body a Letter of Marque and Reprisal, instructing me to order the operation with the intent of ending the state of war between North and South Korea. I need not remind each of you here, Honourable Senators, that the war in Korea was downgraded to an Armistice in 1953 after the intervention of forces by member states of the United Nations. Since the armistice was signed, the North has repeatedly and blatantly disregarded the call of the United Nations to open its borders and allow inspectors under the authority of the United Nations Security Council to verify the distribution of food and monetary aid in the face of increasing hardship on the part of its people; this hardship, resulting from decades of repression by subsequent Leaders after Kim Il-Sung, has degraded the people of the North and reduced them to little more than serfs under the lordship of the Korean Workers’ Party. They were separated from their families in the South by an Iron Curtain cast along the 38th Parallel, an Iron Curtain of North Korea’s own making, and they have struggled and scraped by on what little resources they could scrounge from the land they have been forced to strip bare, while the food and monetary aid which was meant to go to the people under the Party’s heel was instead siphoned off and used to bolster their abnormally large military component.”
Hera continued, each statement from her more heated than the last as she related to the Senate the increasingly outrageous conditions validating the clones’ case for war in the Korean Peninsula. “North Korea has a population of over 24 million people. Among those, nearly 13 million men and women between the ages of sixteen and forty-nine are available for military service, with nearly ten million of those actually fit for military service, and 1.2 million of those currently serving in active duty. Their military expenditures comprise nearly one quarter of their gross domestic product, and international food aid and moneys, which I have previously stated, are immediately marked for military consumption; only a token percentage of food and monetary aid actually goes to the people themselves as part of the North’s policy of “self-reliance”; they actually tell people over there that they must “share the pain”. Their propaganda campaign is so intensive that the people actually believe that Americans are “horned devils who come to pillage, to rape and to destroy the Workers’ Paradise”. “
“It was a tough call, heart breaking to be sure, but a call that I deemed necessary in the interest of complying with the terms of the Letter of Marque and Reprisal as issued to me by this august body. My part in orchestrating the annihilation of the Korean People’s Army, while reprehensible, has enabled families across the 38th Parallel to be reunited and a lasting hope for peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. It is my hope that any fears that a unified Korean government may seek retribution for the numerous injuries and insults to its people throughout history may yet be assuaged by the sensibilities of the modern age. Surely the people of Japan no longer see Korea as an extension of the old Empire. As for China, the sudden collapse of the North Korean regime resulting from the action of my clones has put Beijing on notice that repression of its citizens will no longer go unanswered. They sit in fear now, Honourable Members of the Senate, because someone stood up and said “No More.””
“And the action against the cartels in Mexico, while not conducted under the authority granted by such a Letter of Marque and Reprisal, has endeared law enforcement officials in the United States and Mexico to my clones for relieving them of the burden of intercepting drug shipments that as of now no longer exist. Police forces on the state and local levels now breathe freely knowing that they can devote a greater percentage of their resources to actually protecting the peoples in their respective jurisdictions from more violent crime. They can do their jobs more effectively now because someone stood up and said “No More.””
“Honourable members of the Senate,” she went on, “my troopers have not appeared at a more urgent time in our country’s, indeed, in the world’s history. Their actions, while seen as independent of my command and indicative of a rogue paramilitary force, demonstrate undoubtedly the need for their existence. I pay attention to what goes on in the world, and I make decisions for my soldiers to act upon based either in part or in whole upon the best interest of the affected region. The Pacific region has been only temporarily destabilized, but I assure you as fervently as I did merely minutes ago that the passing of the North Korean regime will be but a minor footnote in Asia’s history, with the end result being more Koreans as well as those of other Asian peoples breathing freer air and living longer, more fulfilling, and more productive lives than they would had they still to look over their shoulders in fear over possible action by the now defunct Hermit Kingdom. As for other regions in the world, we only have to take the example of 11 September 2001.”
These words caused a collective gasp across the chamber. She had dared to suggest that radical Islamists could still cause havoc throughout the world. She regarded each face from which the sounds of shock and consternation had escaped, and the results were better than expected.
“Is it so incredible to believe that modern religious fervour, regardless of the faith, could be responsible for the increasing levels of barbarity throughout the Middle East and elsewhere on the planet? In Africa, young children are kidnapped and conscripted by faith-based paramilitary insurrectionists before they even reach puberty!” she exclaimed. “They are forced at gunpoint to pillage, rape, and murder their brothers and sisters in their respective tribes and families as well as others in Africa. Would anyone here truly speak out in protest were these evil aggressors to suddenly disappear off the face of the Earth? Also let us look at a more direct result of the actions on what is popularly termed 9/11. United States forces spent months looking for the former dictator of Iraq after invading and occupying the country which is home to the capital of one the oldest empires of the ancient world. And when our troopers found Saddam Hussein, he was hiding in a spider hole near his hometown of Tikrit. But the effect of destabilizing the regime in Iraq was to cause a resurgence in militant activity between Iraq and Iran. As we know, Saddam Hussein had been prosecuting a campaign against Iran during the 1970s and 1980s, the effect of which was to provide a strategic buffer between Iran and the other nations of the Middle East which would have fallen under the umbrella of a new Persian empire dominated by Shi’ite Islam. And now we face a possible threat of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.”
“Honourable Delegates of the Senate, would a sudden stop to Iran’s nuclear ambitions or the unchecked proliferation of militant religious warfare anywhere in the world be censured or condemned the international community or the United States? Or would it be seen as the result of someone with the means to do so standing up and saying “No More!”? Yet my clones are now reviled by this Congress when they and their actions in the interests of Americans and of all humankind are viewed by people everywhere as being worthy of praise. You represent the collective will of the people of the United States of America, and unfortunately the current view of this illustrious body is not representative of the people’s interests. Were I to conduct a grassroots poll through my company, which is steadily climbing the ranks of the NASDAQ and Fortune 500, I have no doubt the people would say to allow my clones to go in and lay down the law. And as my clones are under the auspices of USSOCCENT, they could be sent in secretly and make it look like local activity took a toll on the establishment there. I urge the Congress to sanction the use of my clones as the means to finally achieve a lasting peace in this world. Freedom from repression worldwide is finally within the reach of the United States before the end of this term of Congress, Honourable Delegates, and we would be sorely remiss not to take advantage of the resources before us.”
Hera paused, finally, knowing that her words were having an effect on most of the delegates in the Senate. It now came down to the questions they would ask; she could steer the hearing whichever way she wanted now by her answers.
She scrutinized each face in the chamber now, as they did her. It was the ultimate test of wills here, the century and a half of collective political experience and savvy versus her insight granted by the Dark Side. Fear had no place here.
Tom Grayson finally spoke. “Thank you for that moving speech, Ms Rosenberg, I’m sure we all will take your words in consideration when the Senate finally makes policy here. Now, if you don’t mind, let’s begin with the questions. Senator West, if you please.”
The gleam in the Senator’s eye could not have been brighter. “Ms Rosenberg, will you please stand and raise your right hand, and place your left hand upon the Bible that is being brought to you?”
“With respect, Senator West, I am not a Christian, and so do not feel it proper to make oaths upon an instrument or text that is foreign to my faith. May I simply raise my right hand and grasp my pentacle with my left?”
“What is your faith, if this chamber may be so bold?”
“I am a Wiccan, Senator. The pentacle is the symbol of my faith in the Goddess.”
“Granted. However, Ms Rosenberg, the Christian Bible is the customary instrument upon which formal oaths are taken in this chamber regardless of the witness’s faith, so please, indulge us.” The predatory smile on West’s face seemed to be more pronounced than before. Hera silently swore that the good Senator would see her tenure in this chamber come to a sudden and rather undignified end..
Hera smiled and said “As you wish.” As the offending book passed in front of her, she placed her open left hand flat upon the cover and raised her right hand.
“Do you, Willow Rosenberg,” the Senator intoned, “swear under penalty of perjury that the testimony you give here today shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
“I swear, so help me Goddess,” she replied. This drew another gasp from the assembled delegates.
“Um, thank you, Ms Rosenberg, be seated.”
Hera sat down in her assigned chair in the Senate chamber and looked to Lilah. Her legal department head had prepared extensively for this session; the frantic efforts of her legal team under pain of literal evisceration had paid off in dividends. Hera’s tutelage had served her well; she looked forward to her apprenticeship under the Sith Master. For now, she would advance her employer’s plans until the time was right.
“Would you please state your name for the record?” asked West.
“Willow Marie Rosenberg.”
“And what is your current occupation, Ms Rosenberg?”
“I am President and Chief Executive Officer of Bio Research Solutions, Incorporated,” Hera replied. She took a sip of water from the glass set in front of her. A pitcher of water had been set next to the glass should she have need for it later during the hearing, and the thought passed in her mind that she would not give the assembled Senate the satisfaction of seeing her appear nervous.
“How long have you served in that capacity?”
“I am the company’s first and only CEO since its inception three years ago, on 31 September 2013, Senator,” she intoned.
“Would you care to relate to the Senate the goal of Bio Research Solutions, Ms Rosenberg?” asked the Senator.
“Our goal is to improve the human condition, Senator. My company conducts research in multiple differing scientific fields, varying from pharmaceuticals to genetic research. “
“Does your company take bids from the Department of Defence?”
“Yes Senator, it does. We are currently discussing the results of one such contract with DOD, as I believe,” said Hera with a slow smirk.
West’s eyes narrowed at Hera’s slight, and she replied, “Ms Rosenberg, kindly keep your answers as succinct as you can make them.”
“Of course, Senator, my apologies.” She looked to Lilah, who smiled back only so slightly. This chapter is not yet complete. Please be patient and keep reading. First time readers please check out Rise Dark Sisters, it's the first part in this series. Comment and rate, everyone... :)