"What I tell you three times is true."
--Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of The Snark
The third day of power came, and it was time for the new
governors to fully take on the mantle which they had assumed. Wye
was going to have to take to the world stage.
"I don't like this - it smacks too much of showmanship," Wye
said to Deborah, "And that's exactly the kind of thing I'd hoped
to avoid here."
"I know, I know," she replied, "But we're going to have to
clarify our relationship to the rest of the world sometime, which
means that you are going to have to meet all of those
ambassadors. We should have done it on the first day, really."
"Does it have to be one at a time, though? It'll take hours," he
whined, "Weeks, maybe!"
Graham got a mischievous glint in his eye as he said to his
wife, "Hmmm...Now that's an interesting suggestion. What if we
get them all together in one large hall, and he can meet them all
"Now, now, Graham," she answered, "We can't afford to antagonise
them too much. We might provoke a war - or, at least, a trade
"But would we?" Wye butted in, "I mean, judging from our bank
balance, we're at least as powerful as most of the governments
there. And it doesn't have to be an insult - we can encourage
them to think of it as just a new way of doing business."
"How?" she asked.
"I'm not sure - let me think..." Wye stood awhile in thought,
his brow becoming progressively more creased, until, "Got it!
Invite them all to a top-level meeting, then televise it without
telling them beforehand. The larger, richer countries couldn't
take offence without offending the small ones, which will make
them look small-minded and prejudiced to the folks back home.
"Since the large countries are run by populism - as this country
was until two days ago - then they couldn't afford to do that,
and would instead have to choose not to take offence."
"Brilliant idea - if it will work."
"It will," Deborah, the psychologist, said, "Anything has to be
better than the circus-followed-by-secret-meetings technique that
used to be used."
"Then let's give it a try, see if it works," decided the
Preparations for the Ambassadors's Knees-up, as the introductory
meeting came to be called amongst the three of them, were passed
to the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office to be arranged.
The Foreign Secretary, like all other ministers, was a member of
the now ex-parliament, and was - of course - no longer holding
that position. Indeed, even the position itself had been
abolished, and the day-to-day running of the individual
government departments and ministries handed over - temporarily -
to their Permanent Secretaries, who had been given orders that no
changes were to be made to the operation of any department
without first obtaining permission from the General.
The Permanent Secretaries, of course, were happy with this
temporary arrangement. As Graham had pointed out: to a civil
servant, 'temporary' was simply an alternate spelling of
'permanent,' and preserving the status quo was their major goal
in any event. He had actually chuckled at the thought of what
their reactions would be when they learned of their new masters's
The Foreign Office Permanent Secretary initially attempted to
disregard the directions sent to him as to how the affair was to
be conducted, but was soon convinced - in a heated discussion
with the General which had lasted less than five minutes - to
Or, to put it another way, to resign - leaving the Cabinet
Secretary to take over his responsibilities, such as they were.
In this one action, Wye destroyed the power of the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office. A month later, the FCO itself entirely
ceased to exist.
With the arrangements made for the Ambassadors's Knees-up, Wye,
Graham and Deborah were free to handle the most important event
of that third day: a meeting with a small group of communications
engineers, computer networking specialists, civil engineers and
Their aim was to sketch a preliminary design for the national
Network which Wye had mentioned in his broadcast of the previous
night - but a Network substantially different from, and far more
powerful than, the network which Wye had described on television.
"Okay, first things first," said the General at the start of the
meeting, "Which of you gentlemen is the telecommunications
A large, heavily-built man hesitantly raised his hand. At an
inquiring look from Wye, he said, "John Osbourne, General."
Wye gestured the title aside, "No formalities - call me
'Absolaam,' please. That goes for all of you," he added.
Turning now to Osbourne, the General went on, "The Network I'm
after is to provide a network of fibre optics, electricity
transmission cables and water pipes. I want any suitably-equipped
computer to be able to feed signals into, and read signals from,
the fibre optics using radio receivers and transmitters at
reasonable distances along the length of the cable," he paused
for breath, "The question is," he went on, "Can you do it?"
"Well, Gen...Absolaam, I mean..." Osbourne began, nervously
pulling at his red goatee, "As far as the fibre optics go, it
depends what kind of speed you want, how large the network is to
be, and how much money you're willing to spend on it," he said,
"Money isn't a major issue," Wye replied, "But let's take two
hundred billion pounds as a starting figure, shall we?" There
were some starts from the group around the General, then some
pensive expressions as they considered the problem more
seriously, when Wye continued, "The Network is to be accessible
nationwide - regardless of where you are, it should be possible
to send a signal to any other place in the country via the
There were more encouraging nods now, and even one or two
satisfied smiles from the engineers, as Wye went on, "And as for
speed, I want the fastest possible response time and the greatest
throughput of signals conceivable - it should, ideally, be able
to handle and redirect millions of separate messages to their
required destinations, all at the same time."
"I don't know about the speed thing," John Osbourne said, "It
sounds like you're going to require a dozen - or a couple of
dozen - supercomputers as well as some kind of optical device to
handle signal boosting and redirection..."
Wye broke in, "Optical device?"
"Yes," Osbourne said, standing up, "You see, the biggest loss in
speed comes in converting a light pulse to an electrical pulse to
be manipulated before being boosted in the required direction,"
by now, his arms were gesticulating windmill-style as he waved
and gestured to enhance his explanation, "In this case, that
could involve it being converted into a short-wave radio signal.
"The way around this is to use optical devices - use the light
pulse itself instead of the electrical signal. The only problem,"
he shrugged, apologetically, "Is that I don't know of any optical
systems fast enough to handle the number of signals you're
"I do," an optics specialist piped up, drawing their various
attentions, "A colleague of mine developed an optical receiving,
switching and boosting system about...oh, must be four or five
years ago now. He couldn't get the funding to go much beyond a
prototype, but if money is no longer a major factor...?"
"It isn't," said Wye, shortly.
"Well, then," Julie Robins, the optics specialist went on,
happily, "There shouldn't be a problem - his prototype operated
at terahertz speeds..."
"Sorry?" asked the General, "What does that mean exactly?"
Robins considered a moment, before replying, "Put simply, it
means that it could accept, switch or re-transmit ten to the
fifteen signals per second - that's around," her brow creased
momentarily in concentration, "A hundred and twenty million
megabytes per second - that's using just a single optical fibre,
of course," she added.
"Of course," Wye added, sardonically. He went on, "I think that
should be fast enough - have a word with your colleague and we'll
sort out funding after this meeting. Well," he went on, "Since
the fibre optics don't appear to cause any major problems," his
questioning glance at Osbourne was answered in the affirmative as
that scientist re-seated himself, so he carried on, "The next
item is the electricity transmission cables.
"I was thinking of using superconductors," he began, but was
stopped by an interruption when Michael Banting, the materials
scientist present, coughed loudly to draw the General's
"Not a good idea, Absolaam," said Banting, "Not a good idea at
"Why not?" asked Wye, puzzled, "I thought it would remove
wastage through heat loss, and so cut down transmission costs, to
use superconductors for power transmission."
"It would," said Michael, "But not enough to matter - the
resistance of cold copper cable is quite low enough for practical
purposes. The problem with using superconductors on that kind of
large scale lies in the cryogenics."
"The what?" asked Wye.
"The cooling system," explained Banting, "What kind of cooling
system were you thinking of using?"
"I thought a pipe affair," Wye said, "With liquid helium sealed
inside the pipe."
"Better to use liquid nitrogen," Michael broke in, "It's not
quite so cold - and there's a hell of a lot more of it around, so
it's easier and cheaper to manufacture in the kind of quantities
you'd need. And you'll need some sort of insulation jacket around
it as well."
"I was thinking of a vacuum around the ceramic pipe of
superconductor," answered the General.
Banting thought a moment, then, "Pressure release valves - when
the coolant heats up, becomes gaseous, then you'll need to
release the pressure, Absolaam, or there'll be an almighty
explosion." General Wye nodded, then Michael went on, "In any
case, you don't want to use superconductors for this - trust me,
"I'd rather not just take anybody's word for anything, Mike -
Would you mind explaining why not?"
"Of course not, Absolaam," nodded Banting, "The basic reason -
even leaving aside the cryogenic problems - is...Well, when you
pass too much current through a conductor, what happens?"
"It heats up. I think," added Wye, after a moment's hesitation.
"But with a superconductor, what happens is that - at a certain
threshold value - it suddenly loses its superconductivity and
releases one Hell of a lot of heat. We call it 'quenching,' but
we're not quite sure yet why it happens," he said, unhappily, "We
only know that it's something to do with the magnetic field
generated by the current."
"Bring it up at the meeting tomorrow, Mike," said the General,
"Maybe somebody would like to research the question."
"I would," Michael Banting said, smiling.
The eventual design consisted of a heavily-insulated copper
cable, along the top of which would run a bundle of 4096 fibre-
optic filaments, in a 64x64 array, which terminated in a thick
black disk, roughly the same diameter as the bundle of fibres.
The disk was to contain a combination of optical and electronic
devices - using the optical technology suggested by Julie Robins
as far as possible - and was intended to double as both a radio
receiver/transmitter and as a booster for the signal carried by
the fibres. Below the main electricity-conducting tube would run
a plastic pipe to carry water supplies.
When a signal was received by the radio, it would be translated
and transmitted down the fibre. When a signal from the fibre
reached the black box, one of two things would happen. If it bore
an identification number the same as that of the black box, the
signal would be translated and re-transmitted as a radio signal.
If it bore no such encoded number then the signal would simply be
boosted along to the next black box.
The plastic to be used for the water pipe was to be impact
resistant, provide a reasonable level of insulation to prevent
ice formation, and be capable of expanding and contracting in
rapidly-changing temperatures without fracturing. The inner
surface was to be treated so as to prevent the build-up of
limescale deposits which could choke the pipe.
Each primary unit - from black box to black box - was roughly
ten metres in length, and each unit could be individually sealed
off and replaced quickly and easily if there were any problems
This explanation sounds more complicated than the system
actually was. In fact, the engineers agreed that this system was
the simplest one capable of performing all of the actions
required of it by the General and his associates - the primary
function being that the system, once installed, should require
only a bare minimum of maintenance.
The Network designed during the course of that single meeting
was essentially that which was eventually built. The only
significant modification made was one suggested a couple of days
later by the electronics engineer assigned to draw up the
blueprints for the black boxes.
That engineer suggested adding physical input and output sockets
to every tenth primary unit, in order to supplement the radio
receiver/transmitter - to allow physical connections to computers
to be made more easily. His suggestion earned him a substantial,
five-figure, bonus to his salary - after all, it was the
intention of the new government to encourage innovation.
Since the network was to cover the whole of the British
mainland, and installation was to be completed within a year, the
undertaking would be extremely expensive.
All agreed, however, with the General's earlier statement that
two hundred billion pounds would certainly cover it.
The two hundred million pounds to be used in improving the
insulation of each building connected to the Network - and every
building was to be connected - had barely the status of an
At one point - in response to an engineer who stated that the
hardest part would be to ensure that the contracting companies
did not cut corners to widen their profit margins - the General
just bared his teeth and said, "Just leave that part of it to me
- there'll be no cutting of corners." At these words, the
engineer shuddered, recalling the massacre televised a scant two
After the technical meeting, Wye, Deborah and Graham were
extremely relieved that they had only an official function to
attend before they could get some much-needed rest.
By the time the hour came round to travel to the Olympia
exhibition hall, where Deborah had finally decided to hold the
event, they had each changed into whatever clothing they felt
most comfortable in.
Deborah chose to wear a black, low-cut evening dress, with pearl
earrings and necklace, and a stark white handbag - while her
husband was wearing a light blue suit with a dark shirt and light
General Wye's choice of attire was, perhaps, the most eccentric,
since he had opted to wear a faded red T-shirt and a pair of
comfortable - and most definitely casual - light blue trousers.
Wye's choice of footwear, also, was somewhat unusual. In contrast
to Deborah's red flat heels ("My ruby slippers"), and Graham's
sober black shoes, he wore a pair of aged trainers - the left one
of which had a partially-detached heel which flapped slightly as
"You're not wearing that to this function?" asked Graham, when
he saw the General's outfit.
"Why shouldn't I?" replied the General, with an wide grin
spreading across his face, "After all, it's supposed to be a
"Well, yes. But 'casual' in diplomatic circles..."
"I know what you mean - but I think that I should start as I
mean to go on."
"Perhaps we should change also, Graham?" He looked shocked, for
a moment, at the suggestion, then was himself amused as he
considered the impression the three of them would make.
"No," interrupted Wye, before Graham could answer, "I think that
would be a bad idea just at the moment."
"Might I ask why, Absolaam?"
"Because, Deborah, it might be better if your connection with me
- publically, that is - didn't become too obvious too soon. By
simply being high-ranking civil servants, you might very well
find out more than you would if you were seen to be with me."
"Hmmm - Yes, you're right, General," agreed Graham. "Perhaps we
should arrive separately as well?"
"I didn't like to suggest it myself," said Wye, "But I think
you're right about that.
"We must, all three of us, keep our eyes and ears open and our
minds sharp tonight. I don't think it would look good if I were
seen to be playing favourites with any particular country, but
I'm going to have to allay any fears that any of them might have.
"So - intelligence gathering and sounding out the mood of the
diplomats is going to have to be the job of the two of you, I'm
"I concur completely, Absolaam," nodded Deborah, "We will take
the first car, then you can follow on fifteen to thirty minutes
"Fine by me. I'll see you two there, then."
Graham and Deborah left together, to take a car to Olympia. Wye
waited, and became quite impatient by the time his own car was
ready to take him - even though it was only half an hour later.
"General Wye, Dictator of the British Isles," came the
announcement at Wye's entrance. The hall buzzed with astonishment
at the frank nature of the title, which Wye had decided on at a
whim when the doorman had asked how he would like to be
announced. He liked the sound of it.
The newly-titled Dictator stepped down towards the nearest
diplomat, extended his hand, and - smiling - asked which country
The diplomat gave his answer - "Spain, Dictator" - and a fairly
innocuous - and very short - conversation followed, during which
Wye conveyed the key facts that he hoped that diplomatic
relations would remain cordial between their two nations, and
that trade would not be affected by the change in government.
This simple pattern was repeated throughout the evening, with
only minor variations.
Wye was particularly amused to note that, of all the diplomats
present, only one expressed any surprise at either Wye's new
title or his style of dress.
That one was, of course, the US Ambassador to the Court to St.
James, who was more amused than shocked, saying, "I admire your
candidness, Dictator, in the title you've chosen."
"It's a title pro tem only, Ambassador," replied Wye, smiling,
"I intend to institute Democracy within the next two decades."
James Seymour, the US Ambassador, raised his eyebrows in
surprise, "Really? Surely you mean 'reinstitute democracy,'
"Not at all," replied Wye. For a moment, he considered the
Ambassador more carefully. A young-looking middle-aged man, the
General thought, with good muscle-tone and a rather handsome
face. Like a slightly older version of Michaelangelo's David.
"And, please, call me 'Sol,'" At Seymour's questioning look, Wye
explained: "It's an old Army nickname - short for 'Absolaam.'"
"Thank you, Sol," the ambassador replied. Catching Wye's
appraisal of him, James Seymour placed his hand on the Dictator's
left shoulder, "Please call me 'James,'" he hesitated a moment,
then leaned in, conspiratorily, before adding, "Or 'Jim,' if you
"Very well, Jim," Wye half-bowed. For a moment, he, too,
hesitated. Then, deciding, he said, "If the question interests
you, perhaps you would care to join me in a drink after this
affair?" he added, a slight strain showing in his voice.
"I would be delighted, Sol," said the ambassador, beaming.
"Thank you, Jim." Wye glanced to his right and saw Deborah
gesturing to him to circulate, so he added, "Must circulate -
I'll see you later tonight. Just tell your driver to take you to
Number Ten Downing Street."
"Sure, Sol. I'll look forward to it," replied Seymour, smiling
transparently as Wye moved off through the crowd.
The rest of the mis-named 'Knees-up' passed in monotonous
sameness, with standard greetings, introductions and platitudes
Later on that evening, General Wye was sitting in his room in
Downing Street when a soft knock sounded at the door. He smiled
in apprehensive anticipation before, at his call of, "Come!" the
door opened and James Seymour walked in.
"Your doorman said to come straight up," Seymour said. His
glance, as he closed the door behind him, took in the splendour
of the bedroom. He allowed his eyes to linger a moment on the
magnificent four-poster bed and flick quickly from the bed to Wye
and back again before coming to rest on the General. He smiled,
in a friendly fashion.
"Care for a drink, Jim?" asked Wye, as he poured himself a
"Whatever you're having will be fine, Sol."
Wye brought the glasses over to James, who had seated himself on
a small two-seater sofa at the side of the room. He handed one to
Seymour, then sat down.
"Neat Jack Daniel's!" exclaimed Seymour in surprise, "You must
have read my mind."
The General smiled innocently as he asked, "Wasn't my preferred
drink listed in my CIA file then, James?"
"No, it wasn..." Seymour pause, then turned to look at the
General. "Okay, you caught me," he smiled, sheepishly.
Wye nodded, "It's okay. After all, I made sure of reading
Intelligence files on all of the diplomats before attending that
party. I figure everybody else did the same thing."
"Did my file make interesting reading, Sol?" asked Seymour,
raising his eyebrows.
"Very," said the General. He placed his drink on a side table
then leaned towards James's face, brushed his lips against the
James dropped his glass and swore softly, but leaned forward
himself to join with the General. The kiss was breathless,
lasting only a few seconds but seeming more lengthy to each of
them as Wye released all the tensions of the previous three
days, and the frustrations of a life time, into a single action.
Wordlessly, they parted and, together, moved across to the
large, inviting bed. They reclined, coming together once again
for a passionate kiss as they lay beside one another. Absolaam's
arms embraced James, caressing his back gently before moving
upwards to the back of his neck, pulling him forward, deepening
As his own arms embraced James, Wye felt hands pushing to
separate them. James's hands. Wye almost broke off before he
realised what James was trying to do, then he moved his body back
a little to allow James access to his shirt. Skilled fingers
unbuttoned the General's shirt, then stole inwards to stroke the
thick, dark hair of his chest. James's other hand reached around
Wye, under his shirt, stretching to his back to pull the General
back into the full embrace.
Both Absolaam and James were breathing heavily as they removed
each other's outer clothing, their heads spinning.
Wye could feel a faint buzzing behind his ears as his fingers
pulled roughly at the zip of Seymour's fly, Seymour's hand
already reaching the last button of Absolaam's own - now moving
up to unbuckle each other's belts.
Fingers, cold and gentle, reached inside to softly squeeze the
General's arousal. A gasp, then each was wearing only loose boxer
shorts. Wye broke off the kiss at last, his head moving down to
James's chest - as smooth and bare as his chin.
He kissed first one nipple. Moved his mouth across to the other,
his tongue leaving a wet trail between the two, cold on James's
bare skin. A thin trickle of saliva drained down the well towards
Seymour's stomach, where Wye descended, and descended.
The General took the elastic roll of James's shorts between his
teeth, moving his head ever downwards and dragging the shorts
from him in one smooth, certain movement. At the same time, Wye
felt James's hands gently and deftly removing his own boxer
shorts. The hands lingered for a moment to caress his buttocks,
cupping them gently, one finger tracing the divide to his anus
and penetrating slightly for the instant of a kiss.
Wye's moved back up along his lover's legs, seeking that he
might find the rigid cock before his eyes, small and thick, with
mounds of fierce black hair, shocked with grey, covering the
balls at its base. A moment's sweet feigned reluctance, then he
had it. His tongue traced its length as his teeth closed gently
over the dome, pinching it slightly, and without force.
Slowly, his head began to move up and down, his tongue moving
more rapidly from tip to balls to tip to balls, caressing the
sack and tasting the salty sweat that gathered there as James's
hips bounced in a matching rhythm, his hands clutched now in
Absolaam's hair, forcing him to move his head ever up and down
and again, with teeth moving and tongue caressing, sliding,
slipping, halting, starting, lips pressing and squeezing with
hands on buttocks.
As he felt the tension start to gather in earnest, Wye pulled
back completely, then quickly moved up to Seymour's face, kissing
him fiercely and with gay abandon, tongue deep and probing,
Seymour tasting the salt of his own sweat and pre-cum in
Understanding the game, Seymour descended, taking Wye in his
mouth. Probing, licking, teasing, touching, pressing, squeezing.
They rotated, clumsily, on the bed, each taking the other's cock
in their own mouth, holding off as long as they could until, with
a final sharp embrace they came together, tasting the other's
saltiness coursing into them, filling their own mouth with their
lover's life beyond all hope of swallowing, until the cum
overflowed down their faces.
Quickly, they exchanged one more deep kiss, exchanging fluids
again, before falling back together - both exhausted and,
Eventually, James broke the silence - hoping to learn more of
the Dictator's plans: "What were you saying about democracy,
"Huh? Oh, you mean back at the party?" the General pulled
himself together, then began, "I was saying that I don't say
'reinstitute democracy' because Britain has never had a
Democratically elected government. That's 'Democratic' with a
capital 'D,' by the way."
"Fascinating. And what brought you to this conclusion, Sol?"
"Quite simple. In my view, Democracy exists only when every
person's vote is both freely and rationally cast. The individual
must have sufficient information to reasonably make a choice and
be sufficently intelligent to absorb and understand the likely
short-, medium- and long-term implications of their choice."
Seymour broke in, "Does this mean that an intelligence test
would be a requirement before receiving the franchise?"
"Not at all. It is one of the government's responsibilities to
provide an education system capable of teaching people to think
for themselves - in effect, to question everything.
"One of the problems with the old system of government was that
the people's decisions were based on irrationalities - such as
party loyalty - or were motivated by short-termism of the worst
"So you believe that everybody can be taught to think for
themselves - that intelligence is teachable?" asked Seymour,
"No. Not everybody," Wye shook his head, sadly, "Even excluding
the mentally ill, I think that there are, have been, and always
will be stupid people. What I hope to do is to educate sufficient
numbers of people to be able to think for themselves - to analyse
and question everything - that the sheer weight of numbers will
ensure that the government's decisions as a whole will be ones of
"Really?" Seymour was silent for a moment, before he added,
"Then you would say that the United States does not have a
Wye smiled, "I wondered how long it would be before you said
that. Yes, you're quite correct. In fact, I'd go further: No
country, so far as I am aware, has ever tried to govern itself in
a Democratic - with a capital 'D' - fashion."
"It sounds like an fascinating experiment, Sol," then came
another small pause before, "I hope you can make it work."
"So do I, Jim, so do I. I'm not entirely sure that I can," this
time it was Wye's turn to pause, before changing the subject,
"I've just remembered, James. Could you do something for me?"
"I'll try my best, Sol," he gave a hearty laugh, which sounded
oddly false to the General, before adding, "Depending on what it
is, of course."
"I'm looking for posts in industry for the previous government -
I'd rather get them out of the country, you understand?"
James raised himself up onto one elbow, so that he could turn
and look Wye directly in the face. For the first time, the
ambassador looked extremely surprised. He said, "You mean they're
"Certainly," Wye said, "I'm not a murderer, you know," he
managed to look offended - but privately wondered whether Seymour
had seen the staged 'massacre' the night before last. He decided
that the ambassador had almost certainly watched both broadcasts.
He had, but managed to answer, smoothly, "Of course not,
Dictator...Sol, I mean...You just took me by surprise there for a
moment." He started to gently rub the tip of his smooth-shaven
chin with the tip of the index finger on his right hand.
"I think," Seymour said, after a while, "That I can find them
some sort of management positions. How many will be needed?"
"Oh - about a dozen, if you can manage it," said Wye, yawning.
"No problem, Sol - you just leave it with me and I'll be in
touch later in the week."
With these words, James stopped rubbing his chin, and moved his
hand across to Wye's chest, making small circles in the thick
hair. He leaned over to kiss the General once more, but Wye - now
sleeping - made no response.
The US Ambassador to the Court of St James carefully got up from
the bed, dressed as quietly as possible and left to make a report
of the General's words to his government, before returning home
to his wife.
He was careful not to report his activities with the General to
either his government or, for reasons which are obvious, to his
wife - though Mrs Seymour knew more than her husband guessed.
As for the former, James Seymour knew only too well what the
reactions to homosexual acts would be in the US government,
particularly now that a fundamentalist Christian was once more in
the White House.
And James Seymour did not want to lose his job.
It was a fine winter's night. A little cold, but not quite
People were walking through the streets, others were driving
their cars. For some reason, they paid no attention to the figure
of General Absolaam Wye, who walked among them.
Children played by the side of the road, laughing and giggling,
and sometimes looking up at the traffic lights and watching as
they changed colour.
In a power station over a hundred miles away, a drama began to
unfold as a surge of current was produced. Despite all attempts
to damp the current - in spite of the safety systems - the
current left the station barely abated.
The Network was momentarily overloaded. Since it was a
superconductor, the overload affected all portions of the
Network's cabling virtually instantaneously.
It was then that the superconducting ceramics quenched.
Quickly, and without warning, the traffic lights went out. The
lights in the shops and houses went out, the street lights went
dark, and the muzak coming from the late-night supermarket
slammed to a sudden end.
The quenched superconductor dumped heat into the surrounding
pipes all along its length - melting and warping the fibre optic
cables. Turning the contents of the water pipes into steam
throughout the country. Water pipes which, already weakened by
the sudden surge of heat, were not designed to contain the
The sound started, a rumbling in the earth beneath their feet.
People stood around, with bemused looks on their faces - all
aside from one man, who had just come back from his holiday in
California. He shouted, "Earthquake!" and dove to lay himself
flat on the ground.
An explosion. Another. Another.
The cars bucked as the tarmac cracked and rose in a ridge along
the street, geysers of boiling water and scalding steam spurting
from the cracks in some places, gathering into scalding pools in
Men and women, seeing their neighbours' clothes catching alight,
ran in horror, but the ridges, cracks and the boiling pools
surrounded them on all sides. Flesh melted from exposed skin -
tearing off in long, bloody strips wherever the boiling water or
sharp, ceramic daggers made contact with hands, arms, backs,
And Absolaam Wye knew, knew with a cold certainty, that help
would never come. The fibre-optic communication lines were melted
or broken, and nobody could even call for assistance.
The screaming would never stop.
The screaming. The screaming.
Wye awoke and heard screaming. A disquieting sound at any time,
right now it heightened his fear as he leapt from his bed and was
racing to the window before he recognised his own voice in the
Hours later, he managed to return to his sleep - chanting, over
and over again, the mantra of his earlier decision to use copper
cables, and not superconductors, to transmit electricity.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.