Shortlisted for the Locus Award 2018.
Bob Howard's career in the Laundry, the secret British government agency dedicated to protecting the world from the supernatural, has involved brilliant hacking, ancient magic and combat with creatures of pure evil.
Now the Laundry's existence has become public, and Bob is being trotted out on TV to answer pointed questions about eleven asylum seekers. What neither Bob nor his managers have foreseen is that their organisation has earned the attention of a horror far more terrifying than any demon: a government looking for public services to privatise. There are things in the Laundry's assets that big business would simply love to get its hands on....
Inch by inch, Bob Howard and his managers are forced to consider the truly unthinkable: a coup against the British government itself.
Previous titles in this series:
The Atrocity Archives
The Jennifer Morgue
The Fuller Memorandum
The Apocalypse Codex
The Rhesus Chart
The Annihilation Score
The Nightmare Stacks
Release date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Print pages: 368
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
The Delirium Brief
THE PRODIGAL’S RETURN
It’s twenty past ten at night and I’m being escorted through the glass-fronted atrium of a certain office building in central London. I’m surrounded by a knot of soberly dressed civil servants who are marching shoulder to shoulder in lockstep to keep me from being recognized, or maybe to prevent me making a run for it if I lose my nerve. We are waved past nodding receptionists and security guards who hold the turnstiles open for me as if I am expected—because I am indeed expected. Unfortunately.
This afternoon my minders took me to a barber. They said I was overdue for a trim; protests about my male pattern baldness fell on deaf but determined ears. (I still think closing the shop, kicking everyone else out, and stationing guards inside the door was a bit excessive, though: who ever heard of a top secret haircut?) I’m wearing my funeral suit and tie, and my shoes are dazzlingly polished. (Just pretend you’re acting a role, she said, straightening my collar; concentrate and remember your talking points.) I look twenty years older than I feel, and I feel ten years older than usual—mostly due to jet lag. They emailed me a set of notes just before I caught my flight home, and I did my best to memorize them on the plane from Kansai. But right now I feel like it’s seven in the morning, and I’m yawning because I’m waking up, not going to sleep.
Minder number three—Boris, a tech-side middle management guy I used to do the odd job for; until today I hadn’t seen him in years—hits the button for the sixth floor. The glass-walled lift slides silently up into the lofty heights of Broadcasting House, rising past open-plan offices full of serious-faced journalists and program managers peering into computer screens. As we pass a coat of arms saying “Nation shall speak Peace unto Nation,” I go over points seventeen to twenty-two again, mumbling under my breath. Then I rub my sweaty palms on my woolen suit jacket.
I have got the Fear. Why the fuck couldn’t they find somebody else to do this?
I imagine Lockhart or the SA or some other drop-in authority figure explaining it to me calmly. “You know why it’s got to be you, Bob: it’s because of the scaling laws.” The threats the agency exists to deal with grow exponentially, doubling in scale on an eighteen-month cycle, like a nightmarish version of Moore’s Law. But our cohort of qualified senior staff only grows linearly. The clusterfuck at the New Annex a year ago killed a bunch of senior officers, and the disaster in Leeds has put so many others on paid leave pending hearings that everyone in the field is currently operating above their pay grade. We’re all taking on tasks we’re not trained for, often without backup or oversight.
As for this job, we’re a secret government agency: we don’t even have a public relations department. Which is why we’re scrambling to improvise tonight. When the order came down from on high that someone was to come here and do this thing, it ended up on my desk simply because I was senior enough, and available. (At least that’s the official explanation. Part of me can’t help thinking that a more rational explanation is that God or Management hates me and wants me to suffer.)
My handler clears her throat just behind my left shoulder, and I jump. “Try not to sweat so much, Bob, the makeup guy will want to redo everything.” I hate it when Mhari sneaks up on me like that. She makes me really uncomfortable: about 10 percent of it is knowing that she’s actually a vampire, and the rest of it is down to our uncomfortable personal history. The only consolation is knowing that having to work with me makes her even more uncomfortable, and only about 10 percent of it is because I’m a necromancer. At least we’re both trying to be professional about it, and we’re mostly succeeding. She reaches out briskly and brushes lint from my lapel, and I try not to flinch again.
When they went looking for someone to represent the agency in public and picked me, they weren’t just scraping the bottom of the barrel, they were fracking for oil in the basement. My biggest qualification for this job is that I haven’t stepped in any operational dog turds lately. I’m Mr. Clean: nobody’s going to blame me for the disaster in Leeds, I was out of the country at the time. So they briefed me and gave me talking points to memorize, and sent me videos of the Great Man toying with his prey, to watch as in-flight entertainment on the way home. Which, in hindsight, was probably a bad idea: I’m so keyed up I need the toilet again and I’m due on-air in about ten minutes.
“Remember, he only really takes the gloves off when he’s interviewing policy makers,” Mhari reassures me. “You’re a line manager, not an executive, so by sending you out like a sacrificial goat with a sign taped to your arse saying KICK ME we’re calling his bluff. He can’t crucify you on-air for setting policy without looking like a bully, so he’ll have to settle for asking you lots of hard questions to which you are expected to plead ignorance or pass the buck. He can’t even badger you until you change your story—remember the Iraqi WMD scandal and the way Dr. Kelly committed suicide when the press turned on him? So you’ll be fine. Just remember it’s not personal: he’s not interviewing you, he’s interviewing the organization.” She bares one delicately curved canine, ivory outlined against crimson lip gloss while I boggle at her appalling mixed metaphor. “I’m buying the drinks afterwards. Everyone okay? Boris?”
Boris nods lugubriously. “Am understanding there are good club late license around corner,” he slurs. (Boris has permanent damage to his speech center from one too many run-ins with the brain parasites that cause K syndrome.)
A couple of harried technicians glare at us for blocking the lift doors until Mhari smiles at them and sharply knuckles my spine to get me moving again. “Where are we going?” I ask. The level we’re on features lots of floor-to-ceiling beech and invisible recessed handles on doors that curve to match the walls. The carpet is eerily sound-deadening, but I can sense the murmur of many minds all around us, whispering and intensely focused.
“Studio A. Which is right … here…”
Boris and the other guy (a blue-suiter in civvies, fooling no one: he stinks of cop) wait outside while Mhari pushes me through the door into the production suite and follows me inside to stop me escaping. I turn and frown at her. She’s far better at looking professional than I am. With her mercilessly coiffured blonde hair, tailored black suit, watered silk blouse, and sky-high heels, she looks like Taylor Swift in boardroom drag—a version of TayTay that runs on type O negative and has a severe sunlight allergy. “Can’t you do this?” I ask plaintively, one last time. “Take one for the team?”
She spares me a brazenly unapologetic grin as she points a finger at the ceiling: “See the bright lights, sweetie? I’d go up in flames.”
I’m about to tell her that they use LED spotlights these days and they’re not powerful enough to set fire to her PHANG-sensitive skin when I spot the producer. He’s half-risen from his seat, clearly fascinated by this exchange. He leans forward and peers at our ID badges. “Ah, you must be Mr. Howard and Ms. Murphy from the, er, Ministry of Magic?”
That makes even Mhari twitch. “Special Operations Executive, Ministry of Defense,” she says sharply. “There is no ‘Ministry of Magic.’” She holds out her hand for him to shake. Her nails are the same color as her lips; they look dipped in fresh blood.
“Can we take any questions arising from this interview to the Defense Secretary?” he asks hopefully.
Mhari looks at me. I look at her. “No comment,” we chorus in unison. Then I add, “We’re just the performing monkeys; if you want a policy statement you’ll need to send the organ-grinder a memo.” Mhari manages to keep a straight face. Drinks on me indeed.
“Well then, assuming you’re not going to offer me a last-minute substitution I’ve got you down to go live six minutes into the program, off at twenty—the Big Man’s in the studio already, running through the warm-up highlights.” Just the biggest news interviewer in the country, the chief presenter on Newsnight, waiting for me. “You haven’t done this before, have you?” He shows me all the kindly concern of a hangman sizing up a client. “Really, it’ll all be over before you know it and it won’t hurt at all. Let’s get you hooked up…”
There’s a glass door fronting a surprisingly cramped office with a plain gray backdrop, brilliantly illuminated by camera fill-in LEDs. Through the door I see a famous silhouette: the barely tamed hair and fiercely hooked nose. He was scheduled to retire last month but I gather he decided to stay in the saddle a bit longer just for us. I may be the Eater of Souls, but this guy is the Consumer of Cabinet Ministers. And now he’s beckoning to me! “Go on in and take the chair to his left,” says the producer; “when it’s time to go live the camera will give you a red light, and when the red light goes off I’ll cue you to slide the chair back and leave. Just try not to run the next guest over.”
The green light over the door begins blinking. The producer starts making urgent shooing motions at me, and Mhari mouths break a leg. So I go through the door and I sit down in the hot seat, wishing it was electrified so I could get this over with faster. I wipe my fingers carefully along the underside of the seat frame, then peel back a tab of adhesive film, leaving a coin-sized self-adhesive disc behind. My pulse spikes. The chair is wheeled, rolling on a track: “Move eighty centimeters to your left—perfect!” The producer’s voice comes in through the bud in my right ear. It’s not the only wire I’m wearing: there’s a lapel mike too, and I half-suspect it doubles as a polygraph so they can tell when I’m lying. “You’re going to be on camera three. Jeremy will lead in to your item in about ten seconds. Okay, I’m shutting up now.”
Then the red light comes on above the camera, and I’m live on a Monday evening special crisis edition of Newsnight.
* * *
Hi. My name is Bob Howard, and I do secret work for the government.
This is my workplace diary. People in my line—anyone with “active duty” flagged on their personnel file—are required to keep one. It’s a precaution against loss of institutional knowledge. If you’re reading this, either you’re in an Oversight position (probably an Auditor or a magistrate of the Black Assizes tasked with investigating my activities) or, more likely, I’m dead and the powers that be want you up to speed on my job toot sweet.
Side-splitting stuff, eh?
Let me tell you a bit about myself. As I said, I’m Bob Howard, age 39, position: DSS Grade 1, that’s short for Detached Senior Scientist or Deeply Scary Sorcerer or something, nobody really cares (in the Laundry they’re more or less the same thing), and my life sucks right now.
I got into this gig because when I was working on my master’s thesis in image processing in the late nineties I almost summoned up a manifestation of outer chaos by accident. This led to the Laundry making me a job offer I wasn’t allowed to refuse. (Apparently you’re only allowed to demolish Wolverhampton if you’re a property developer like Donald Trump. Crawling eldritch horrors don’t get planning permission unless they’re Trump’s hairpiece.)
That was about fifteen years ago, in more innocent, less embattled days. So I spent a couple of years in tech support hell before getting bored, stupidly volunteering for operational duties, and ending up as Dr. Angleton’s understudy. Dr. Angleton really was a Deeply Scary Sorcerer, and when he got himself lethally entangled with a monstrously powerful vampire elder I inherited all of his duties, some of his powers (I’m still learning how much), and very little of his seventy-plus years of wisdom and experience …
Although I’ve been learning. Boy, have I been learning! I’ve spent most of the past year scurrying around clearing up the messes he left behind. He clearly wasn’t planning on dying any time soon, so not only did I have to pick up the slack on his more recondite duties, I also had to check the padlocks he’d left on a lot of metaphorical closets with skeletons in them. Angleton did not keep one of these diaries, oh no: he kept his notes on a magically warded electromechanical data store built during the late 1940s, and a lot of those notes said things like, demon bound under rear quadrant of supermarket car park with level six ward, half-life eighteen years, check back early next century. So I’ve spent the past nine months trotting around the globe, pacifying the unquiet dead with extreme prejudice, and inadvertently being out of the country when all hell cut loose in Yorkshire.
But I digress. Nearly a decade ago I married a fellow employee, Dr. Dominique O’Brien.1 You might have heard of her. Mo used to be a troubleshooter: whenever the organization had a spot of trouble she shot it until it stopped twitching. When that got too much for her they reassigned her to the Home Office for a while. Now she’s back in-house as a freshly minted Auditor, which means she holds people like me accountable for our work with the power of life or death. For many years Mo carried an occult instrument, the White Violin, as her main operational tool. The trouble with occult instruments is that they sometimes have their own agendas; it wasn’t too keen on sharing her, so eventually it tried to eat me. She managed to get rid of it somehow, but now she’s afraid that as Angleton’s heir I might absentmindedly eat her in my sleep. As we keep undergoing the kind of personal growth experiences that involve new and exciting magical abilities—like an interesting tendency to absentmindedly mumble death spells while waking up—I have to concede that she’s got a point. This has been a time of changes for both of us and we have about a decade of unexamined marital baggage to rethink, and consequently we’re currently living apart.
Did I mention that my life sucks?
Speaking of which: let’s have a round of applause for management responsibility! Because, after years of dodging it at every opportunity, I have had management responsibility forced upon me, whether I want it or not. And if I find the joker who nominated me for the role of Departmental Public Relations Officer I will—
No, I won’t eat them. That would be unprofessional.
(I won’t even put the frighteners on them. I might remonstrate with them politely. I could explain the errors of their ways and suggest, more in sorrow than in anger, that although I have been promoted into a very senior dead man’s shoes I don’t look good in a suit, I don’t suffer fools gladly, and if they really want a spokesman they ought to hire someone who’s trained for it, rather than being better qualified for fighting off a zombie invasion or fixing a broken firewall.)
Because I’m management now, I have to face facts. Hiring a real PR person would involve approving a budget, going through the HR recruitment and candidate selection cycle, managing the new employee’s enhanced security background check and in-processing, then bringing them up to speed on what exactly we do in the agency. (Which involves working around people with titles like Senior Staff Necromancer, Applied Computational Demonologist, or Combat Poet. Lots of newbies flee screaming at that point: our first month attrition rate is sky-high.)
So let me sum up the ways in which my life sucks right now: I’ve had a bunch of extra responsibilities dumped on me for no extra pay, I’ve had to move out of my home because my wife’s violin tried to murder me, morale is in the shitter because of the disaster in Leeds, and for the pièce de résistance, they made me wear a suit and sent me out to be grilled live on TV, because we don’t have the budget for a public relations fixer!
Yeah, it all sucks, but I suppose it could be worse. At least this time my line manager isn’t trying to sacrifice me to an elder god. But it’s still only May, so I suppose there’s time for that to change …
* * *
Jeremy smiles his trademark smile at me, simultaneously sympathetic and pitying, like a headmaster carpeting an unruly schoolboy. “Some would say that the truth is out there: well, tonight we’re going to see about that. My next interviewee is Mr. Howard, from the Ministry of Defense’s hitherto extremely secret agency for dealing with the sort of thing you expect to meet in an episode of The X-Files—alien abductions, supervillains, UFOs, and”—he pauses momentarily, as if he’s just tasted something lip-wrinklingly bitter—“magic.” Skepticism boils off him in waves so thick it makes the air around his head shimmer.
I smile, nod, and avert my eyes from my own image in the screen on the opposite wall. Jesus, I look like a life insurance salesman. “Yes, Jeremy,” I hear myself saying, “although we prefer to call it applied computational thaumaturgy. There’s a lot of mathematics involved.”
“So rather than smoke and mirrors you use clouds and servers?” The grizzled eyebrow creaks upwards towards the receding hairline. That’s a good pun: obviously scripted in advance. I nod again.
“Yes. It turns out that mathematics has side effects in the real world. This agency, SOE, has been investigating this effect ever since Alan Turing did pioneering work on it in the 1940s at Bletchley Park. Computers are tools that do much more than share cute cat photos, and they can be lethally dangerous in the wrong hands.”
So far so good. I’m on the approved message track, regurgitating talking points acknowledging stuff that’s already out there in public. My brief is to make the Laundry sound boring; encryption bad, hacking bad, misusing computers bad, Home Office rah, National Security rah, War on Tentacular Terror, rah. But in the back of my head I am uncomfortably aware of all the tasty minds crowded around me in this building, fuzzy shadows of warmth and sustenance in the studio control room and the offices beyond. I can taste the focus of the producer, feel the chilly (and inedible) ramparts of Mhari’s vampire shell, the armored fortress of solitude sitting across the table from me—
Paxo smiles at me like a kindly uncle, or maybe a crocodile with a gold tooth, as he says: “It has been alleged”—Oh shit, I think—“that the disaster in Leeds was the result of an SOE operation that went wrong, that your people invited the attack that killed over nine thousand innocent people and shot down three airliners and two fighter jets. Is that true, Mr. Howard?”
Fuck! The fucker’s wearing a heavy-duty ward! Which means I can’t read him or trivially control him—the small leather bag he’s wearing on a cord around his neck, under his shirt, is the thaumaturgic equivalent of a bulletproof vest.
I wipe the smile and do my best impersonation of a granite cliff. “Absolutely not.” I take a breath. “SOE does not recklessly endanger national security or put lives at risk.” I think I can see where this line of questioning is going, and it’s nowhere good. “We were invaded without warning by a hitherto theoretical threat. We responded immediately and alerted the police and the army in accordance with our standing orders. The handling and outcome of the conflict are a matter for the Commons Select Committee to investigate and the Public Enquiry to report on, and I can’t comment further.” Phew.
The Crocodile nods and he’s dropped his smile, which is a bad sign: the gloves are coming off and I wonder, horrified, How the fuck did the BBC get their hands on a level six defensive ward? as I realize this is a setup and meanwhile he’s leaning forward, closing in for the kill—
“Perhaps you could explain to the viewers why the surviving invaders are being treated as asylum seekers, Mr. Howard? Wouldn’t terrorism charges be more appropriate? Or a war crimes investigation?”
Shit! That’s not supposed to be public knowledge. Which means there is a leak somewhere. As the scriptwriters on Yes, Minister observed, the ship of state is unique in that it’s the only vessel that leaks from the top down. Our oath of office should prevent anyone inside the tent from pissing out … which means someone in the government is briefing against us, probably at cabinet level. We are totally off the talking points now: nobody briefed me for this. Fuck! Time to pass the blame.
“The … survivors … of the attacking force include a number of slaves and other victims who were there unwillingly. The Home Office has conceded that in some cases there is a case for them to claim refuge from persecution.” Pass the blame. “I’d like to remind you that the enemy military made extensive use of human sacrifice and other forms of necromancy to power their attack.” All of which is entirely true, but—
“I’m not talking about the slaves, Mr. Howard. Why is the All-Highest, their leader, claiming asylum? Can you explain?”
Fuck. Fuck fuckityfuck fucksticks really bad swear words.
“Let me emphasize this: what came through the gate in Malham Cove was the last surviving military force of a nation that had just lost the magical equivalent of a nuclear war. Also their dependents. And slaves. They can’t go back; sending them back means sending them to their certain deaths. The enemy All-Highest who ordered the attack is dead. The current All-Highest was not in charge of the attack, and on inheriting the position immediately ordered the unconditional surrender of the, ah, attacking force.” That is, the Host of Air and Darkness: the surviving armored cavalry forces of the Morningstar Empire. Don’t say elves, there’s nothing terribly Tolkienesque about this bunch and the good PR would just make them harder to handle. “Accommodating their unwilling victims was a precondition of the surrender. In return, the current All-Highest is actively cooperating with us in restraining their military forces. None of them are able to, ah, go back. The world they came from is—it’s been overrun by alien horrors.”
Not to mention that sending them back would risk drawing the attention of the undead nightmares they were fleeing, who might well pick up the trail in our direction and decide not to stop at eating just one civilization—but I can’t say that on live TV news, people might complain to Ofcom about the nightmare fuel.
“But—asylum, Mr. Howard?” The eyebrow is at full extension. Time to shut this down.
“I’m sorry, it’s not my job to set policy. That question is better directed to the minister responsible.”
Paxo is indignant. “A minister responsible for a department that didn’t officially exist until the week before last? That’s simply not good enough, Mr. Howard!” Bastard. “I’m sure we’ll get some better answers when we have a cabinet minister in charge. But one final question for you: can you explain to the viewers why you are reportedly known to other members of your agency as the ‘Eater of Souls’?”
For a moment I see red: blood splattered all up and down the blue-screen back wall of the studio. But no, that would be bad, and worse, it would be unprofessional. Also, the ward he’s wearing under his shirt collar is powerful enough that I could break it, but I’d probably set fire to his hair in the process. It would look bad on camera. And also-also—I suddenly realize this is the wrap-up question: I get the last word in so I can select what to give him.
I summon up a sheepish smirk: “When I was junior, I used to put my foot in my mouth rather a lot. The nickname stuck.”
And the light on the camera goes out.
* * *
The government’s occult secret service goes back further than most people realize.
Our oldest handwritten records were left behind by Dr. John Dee, the noted mathematician, alchemist, and astrologer who worked for Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I’s spymaster. Back in his day, everything ran on a nod-and-a-wink basis. It was part of the Crown Service and established by Royal Prerogative, which basically means Lizzie Tudor wrote a letter saying “make it so” and appointed Frankie the Fixer to run it. The Invisible College (as it later became known) operated as an informal gentleman-dabbler’s club until the Second World War. Then wartime expansion and the systematization provided by the Turing Theorems led to the incorporation of the Laundry as a division inside the Special Operations Executive, when Winston Churchill wrote an “action this day” memo using the authority vested in him by His Kingliness George the Umpty …
(You get the picture.)
Now, back in the day the Invisible College ran entirely on ritual magic. But ritual magic doesn’t work reliably, because ritual magicians tend to succumb to Krantzberg syndrome, a very nasty spongiform dementia caused by microscopic extradimensional feeders (parasites attracted by magical manifestations of information processing). Over time they nibble the practitioner’s cerebral cortex into lace, which tends to bring the practitioner’s career staggering to a palsied conclusion. And that’s assuming they don’t inadvertently succumb to the greater feeders, such as feeders in the night: predators that make themselves at home in neural networks like, oh, the human cerebral cortex, and take over the body to go in search of more brains to chow down on. (Thereby leading to myths, legends, and Shaun of the Dead.)
There are a handful of cognitive infections that grant ritual practitioners a degree of immunity to eaters—PHANG syndrome (vampirism) is one of them, and the for-want-of-a-better-word elven invaders seem to have come up with some kind of occult vaccine. And then there’s little old me. (I’m … let’s say “unique” and tiptoe away from the subject.) But all these mitigating techniques have severe drawbacks, and as a result there are old ritual magicians, and there are bold ritual magicians, but there are no old, bold magicians. They don’t survive, and they tend to have unique skill sets, thereby defeating the first principle of bureaucracy: that nobody is indispensable.
In contrast, computational magic does work reliably, for pretty much anyone who can punch a keyboard and follow a checklist, because eaters don’t seem to have a taste for silicon or germanium, which is why it’s the go-to discipline for organizations.
Mahogany Row, the successor to the Invisible College, continues to this day to keep track of and provide a framework for the high-level unique practitioners. However, the rest of the Laundry is an ant farm full of computational demonologists and IT managers. Indeed most staff, to the extent that they’re aware of Mahogany Row, think it’s just a senior management stratum—even though the organization as a whole exists to support it. Because a big chunk of the Laundry’s postwar mission was to keep the lid on the mere existence of algorithmic thaumaturgy, we ended up with a bloated head count—we’d spent decades giving everybody who stumbled on the truth a job where we could keep an eye on them. (Or, more accurately, where they could keep an eye on each other.) The iron law of bureaucracy doesn’t help: everybody working to ensure that the organization continues to pay them a salary, rather than necessarily achieving its objectives. So it has become progressively harder to keep the ball rolling, with the result that we finally and unambiguously lost the plot in Leeds.
You can hush up a massacre in an office park or a hideous manifestation at the Albert Hall with DA-Notices and dark muttering about terrorist attacks and hallucinogenic gas. But it’s impossible to cover up airliners being shot down, an invading army rampaging through the suburbs of a major city, and a traffic jam of main battle tanks on the nation’s motorways. Once the situation escalated to COBRA, the Cabinet Office emergency committee, and the government invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty (calling for support from NATO forces following an attack on a member nation), the mess in Leeds became the number one global rolling news headline and still hasn’t died down. It even beat out an eighty-meter-tall daikaiju that invaded the Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise theme park and duked it out with the Japanese Self-Defense Agency, as a result of the incursion at Puroland that I was sent to help deal with—
Nope, the events in Leeds aren’t going back in the closet any time soon.
Nor has the aftermath gone unnoticed. There are smoking craters all over Yorkshire, an anime convention full of collateral damage in pointy ears, and the remains of a heavy cavalry brigade mounted on unicorns (shudder) corralled behind razor wire on Dartmoor, eating their heads off under the guns of half the army’s remaining Challenger MBTs. (And don’t ask me about the, ahem, “dragons.”) They’re arranging a snap summit meeting of all the heads of NATO member states later this month, and that’s something that simply does not happen. A large segment of the press and public are baying for blood, calling on the government to nuke the bastards, convene a war crimes tribunal, or arrest them for terrorism. Only the inconvenient fact that the current All-Highest is pleading for asylum from something even worse is
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