60. Exodus

Over the next two weeks, as he was debriefed at a secret location somewhere in the southwest and gradually freed from the persona — and the misdeeds — of Robert ‘Sonar’ Marshall, Abbe Sennett also learned a great deal more from his debriefers of the effects of the raid on Eden. He knew — or at least believed — that he was in the southwestern United States because of a host of familiar signs — the brown, red, yellow and gray green colors of the landscape, the pinion trees (mostly bushes, really) and cactus, the dusty, dry heat, and every time he walked any distance the familiar signs of high altitude to which he had not yet fully adjusted. He could be just about anywhere in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, or southwestern Colorado. During his debriefing the question never came up and he never asked.

The wide ranging conversations went on all day, day after day in a sunny, simply decorated room stocked with comfortable chairs and ample supplies of coffee, both decaffeinated and regular, soft drinks of all kinds in a dispensing machine like those he had seen in fast food places that could produce 10 different flavors of lemonade and nearly a dozen variations of diet Coke. He found in the first three days that his favorite drink was a diet root beer and while they talked he preferred sitting facing north, looking toward a whitish image on a distant hillside. It was several miles away, far enough that he couldn’t see it clearly, but he had decided by the second day that it was either a water tank for cattle or a bare spot which for some reason had none of the purple sage grass that grew on the rest of the rolling landscape as far as he could see in any direction. He found himself studying the water tank, for that must be what it was, during breaks in the conversation when his mind was not focused on the debriefing and could just wander.

They had told him a great deal about the raid by the RNA on Eden; answered all his questions, really. Between interrogation sessions one afternoon, his controller, whose name he learned was Bill Anderson although Abbe doubted that was his real name, had told him that his undercover work had enabled the agency to roll up more than a dozen networks they referred to as ‘domestic terrorist’ groups, and had resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 people and the confiscation of an untold numbers of guns and ammunition. Bill also handed him a pardon, signed by the President herself, exonerating him for his involvement in several bank robberies, burglaries to capture guns and ammunition and other crimes which Abbe had been forced to participate in during his undercover work. Fortunately, he had only had to shoot one victim during that time in order to maintain his cover and that resulted in an incidental wound to the fleshy part of the victim’s right leg. He meant to miss completely, but the bullet had shattered when it ricocheted off a rock and the victim was hit in the leg with a fragment. He had also had to beat up several of his comrades in the RNA — and had been beaten in turn by several of them — in the monthly combat exercises that Mel insisted upon. He was fairly certain that the agency would have exonerated him even if he had actually killed someone, but he was glad not to have that on his conscience and grateful for the pardon.

He would regret for the rest of his life that the raid on Eden had mostly succeeded in the original terms the RNA had laid down. Numerous buildings, including the Community Center, the parking garages on the north and south ends of town, and the Labyrinth had been destroyed or heavily damaged. Also destroyed were nearly 1000 meters of PRT track and several cars, at least one funicular and nearly a dozen homes or apartment buildings including the siheyuan where Juanita had been living with his parents, his brother, sister and their significant others and a couple of additional relatives. His parents and Juanita had both been hospitalized for assorted shrapnel and impact wounds for a few days after the attack but he was told they were all recovering nicely, although still traumatized by the attack and the deaths of others. He had talked with all of them several times by phone and they sounded as good as could be expected under the circumstances. All of them were having trouble sleeping, and as it often did in such cases, the phrase PTSD came up often in the conversations.

Others in Eden had not been as lucky. Ralph Deigh had been working late the evening of the raid and died in the explosion at the Labyrinth. It was ironic, Abbe thought, that Ralph had survived his experiences and injuries in two wars in the Middle East only to die during peacetime in an act of domestic terrorism. But he knew that Ralph had been explicitly targeted by the RNA. Approximately 20 others in Eden also died of either gunshot wounds or were killed by the assorted blasts. They included Madeline Klein and Linda Sue Winslow, who had been staying with Ralph Deigh and Amy for a few days. Amy had been away that night visiting friends. For no apparent reason he could think of, the list of casualties also included a retired Michigan police detective, who had built a house for himself in Eden and a retired couple from Wisconsin, Ron and Tessa Brewer.

Abbe was deeply troubled by all the deaths, which included several others he had known and grown up with. He was even more troubled by the fact that the agency and the forces of law enforcement had actually not been able to stop the raid from taking place. His intelligence reports together with the transcriptions from the GPS and assorted microphones and bugs had given them ample basis for acting to arrest him and the rest of the RNA raiders before they reached Eden. At least one of his interrogators insisted that because of the remote location of Eden, they had simply been unable to mobilize in time, but he knew from the timing of the intelligence he had provided on the raid that this was not true. From other information he had gathered from his interrogators, which after the first day included Bill Anderson, it looked like a classic organizational snafu, which he knew was an acronym for “situation normal; all fouled up”. (He also knew that some people used another R-rated term for fouled, but he felt that term — once its shock value had expired — added little to the basic sentiment, which was already clear with fouled so he would stick with the G-rated term.)

All members of the RNA who had participated in the raid on Eden were now in custody, and would be held in separate federal secure locations until their trials. As far as other members of the RNA were concerned, the lockups included him, but he knew there was no way to guarantee that false information would hold over the long run. It was expected that there was ample evidence that, thanks to Abbe’s undercover work, which would come out in court, all of them would receive life sentences in maximum security for their assorted crimes, including first degree murder charges against 17 of them. In order to assure their long term safety, a witness protection plan for him and others was already being activated.

Abbe knew that once his interrogation was complete and they were recovered enough from their injuries to be able to travel all of them would disappear from Eden forever together with Abbe and Juanita. His parents, Adam and Evie, his brother Cane and Freddie, who he had learned was three months pregnant, his sister Sable, both of his grandmothers and Faye Sennett Morgan, his widowed aunt all of whom had been living in their siheyuan. Since he had not been anywhere near Dare County since just before the flood, many people who knew him there already assumed he was must be dead. In fact, Cane had told him with a nervous laugh that rumors going around asserted that he had been killed by his brother before the flood, in a fit of jealousy.

The relocation was necessary the agency had told him — and more recently told everyone else in the family — for their protection. There were other cells of the RNA but no one could say much for certain about any of them. Abbe and his controllers had known for nearly six months about the planned raid on Eden as he participated in the planning, and had planted listening devices in the supposedly encrypted radio and computer equipment by which Mel and the leadership of his RNA communicated with others in various terrorist networks.

The raid on Eden had ostensibly been in retaliation for the way in which people from Cibola and others from Dare County had for several generations continued their trickster KKK klavern, openly mocking and even at times actively subverting other KKK operations with their multi-racial, multi-ethnic operation. The post-raid plan of the RNA called for an extensive program of news releases and social media postings explaining and justifying this purpose of the raid. This would, Mel explained to the raiders during their training, create a diversion to direct the feds away from the RNA and shine a negative light on the KKK, which he saw as an inferior rival group that now included other whites, including Scots, Germans and Irish, and did not limit itself only to “pure” Anglo-Saxons. The real reason for the raid Mel had made clear was to disrupt and if possible destroy the “mongrel community” of Eden which not only mixed white and non-white racial groups and “polluted and defiled” what Mel called “our sacred, traditional rural values” with its much-extolled modernism. Mel had also made clear, Abbe explained to his debriefers, that the death of Ralph Deigh was no accident. Through his speeches and writings, Ralph had made himself many enemies among rural traditionalists, including the leadership of the RNA, and killing him was one of their main objectives. Only in the killing of his father, Adam, “the sub-human leader of that pack of mixed breed monkeys” had they failed.

“And here our story ends,” the white haired Daniel Messenger said to his dozen or so fellow Thursday nighters, gathered in the living room of Art and Gloria Payne as he looked up from the text he had been reading.

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