The year came to an end, ushering in the new which promised to be unlike any of the last two hundred fifty in the history of the...Union.
As it did in the House of Representatives, CNABS sailed through the Senate where it went through the shortest debate on record on the floor. The two-thirds super-majority appeared a certainty through most of the voting until near the end when the last few 'ayes' slowed to a trickle. This was because several members jumped sides the last minute.
Three of them, led by Kentucky Senator Simon Balderson, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and two of his allies--Senator Felipe Marshall of Tennessee and Senator Matthew Hixson of Mississippi--had a private talk hours before with their good old friend from way back, Steven Fukuda, who made them see more clearly into the true color of the bill, its ultimate purpose to continue to weaken the country and eventually annihilate its American culture and way of life. They had suspected this before Senator Balderson, who wanted to pigeonhole it, agreed to release it from his committee, after some supporters of the bill and their 'security' escorts paid him a visit one night in his house.
Former President Pablo Vergara and his friends in Congress were very displeased that the bill even had to go through that brief uncertainty in the Senate voting because of a change of heart in certain individuals. They planned to further 'smooth things' out with them later on. Make sure nothing like that happens again.
Nevertheless, CNABS obtained the super-majority vote in the end. Again, in record time, it went through the rest of the legislative process in the conference committee, back to the House and the Senate for final approval and finally to President Pacifico Valderrama who signed it the day after it arrived at his desk, well inside the ten-day time limit for his approval or veto.
The same day the bill passed in the Senate, Phil Bernardo, Richard Casey and the rest of the team, upon the call from the Federation leaders, worked into the night to release the Concord survey book in the internet. A Cyber marketer who had been on a standby for days since it was hired by Ben Alexander, the GC, shot tons of email from their databases, posted hundreds of thousands of messages in social networks, with references to the partial release of some major data that was done early in October and whetted the people's appetite to learn more about the true state of the Union and some of the decays eating away at the country.
By the end of the week, downloads from online ebook stores were in the hundreds of thousands. The same numbers were reported with orders for POD softcover. When it made the news networks, online and print media, days later, the orders doubled, tripled.
The following week, days before Christmas, New Mexico Senator Claudio Guerrero, along with his L.A. staff Fred Habib, met with four men in a hotel suite on 15th and H Streets, a block away from the White House. It was dusk on a chilly day in December. He brought softcover copies of the Concord book for all of them. The four men were California Congressman Armando Herrera, Texas Governor Antonio Costa, Baja California Governor Lorenzo Huerta and another Mexican national named Apolonio Martinez, head of Huerta's squad of personal bodyguards. Behind the door connecting to another room nextdoor sat four other men smoking and working a couple of six packs of beer. Two of them belonged to Armando Herrera, both Anglat Americans who he preferred to call his security escorts. One of the other two was Governor Costa's personal bodyguard, another Anglat. The other was another Mexican, a burly man named Juan Burgos, a henchman of Apolonio Martinez.
The first thing the four men in the lounge room noticed from the moment they entered the suite earlier and especially when they were all seated around the table was the stern look on Senator Claudio Guerrero's face. But they all understood this.
A few days before the disaster at Senator Borja's house that Saturday night, this same group of people had met in another hotel suite, in Bethesda, Maryland. Today was the first time they met again since then after they learned most of what happened, primarily from the news flash four days ago which finally prompted Claudio Guerrero to call this gathering.
The day after the Concord book was released, the news broke in the east coast morning editions. By mid-afternoon, it was a national headline in the afternoon issue of all the major surviving dailies; the lead story on all the cable TV networks and on the internet.
'California Congressman Shot at House of Another Legislator.'
It was a straightforward 250-word news flash with few details which read, in part:
Congressman Daniel Parrish, (3rd District, CA), while visiting in Congressman Cecilio Borja's residence in Potomac, Maryland suffered a gunshot wound in the back when unknown gunmen fired through the door. Security guards present at the time returned fire and repelled the unexplained attack on the residence.
The Congressman was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital with a punctured lung. He was in the intensive care unit for two days after hours of surgery and is now recovering in the critical care unit of the hospital.
Investigations are in progress as of this writing. Some evidence that could possibly lead to the source or motives for the attack were found on the grounds of the property. Details of the findings are closely guarded given what now appears, according to investigators, to be a highly sensitive and far-reaching political scope of the incident.
When Congressman Armando Herrera received the 'order package' from Senator Claudio Guerrero with a handwritten note inside, saying 'order from the White House, P. Vergara', he looked at the pictures intently while listening to the recording taken at the Diomedes restaurant. He read the typewritten order. Then after thinking a couple minutes, he called their amigo intimo, Governor Lorenzo Huerta in Mexicali, the man who poured money in his campaign six years ago for his seat in Congress. The same as what the man did for the campaign of Claudio Guerrero for his Senate seat several times and that of the current and previous occupants of the White House. Drug money Huerta hoarded and built up into a fortune from his work with the Sinaloa Cartel in its operation from years back in Southern California and Tijuana.
"No problem, amigo," said the Baja California Governor after the American Congressman made another one of his 'service requests' to his friend in Mexico. "I will have our man Apolonio put a team together right away and get the job done."
Early on Saturday, December 12, 2111, Apolonio Martinez flew to Washington, D.C. with four men, loyal followers of Governor Huerta and still employed by the Cartel, to fulfill the service request by the Governor. Of the four men Apolonio deployed to do the job, only one came back. The team leader, Juan Burgos.
"And the others?" This same question had been asked over and over again between Congressman Armando Herrera and Governor Lorenzo Huerta since Juan Burgos reported back to Apolonio Martinez, literally empty-handed and with nary a thing to say to his handlers except his part in the job from the time the three men left him in the driver's seat of the SUV on MacArthur Boulevard, to the time he abandoned the vehicle and fled in the dark on foot when he saw bright flashlights approaching from the woods.
Burgos explained to Apolonio Martinez that the choice he made to flee on foot in the dark was based on two possibilities. First, the worst case which was that the bright lights were the police and he certainly didn't want to be taken in for questioning. Second, regardless of who they were, a good chance was, with nobody in it, they were just going to leave the rented SUV alone and the men will have it when they come back after they finish with the job. He said he waited at a distance hidden in the dark. Unfortunately, the men with the flashlights, one of them, somehow got in and drove it away.
They asked if he tried to raise the men on the communicator and he said he did, several times, but he never got a reply. He added that either their radio was turned off or not working.
To this day, none of them had heard anything from any of the men. Nothing in any of the news reports they'd read or seen on television had said anything about anybody else except Congressmen Parrish and Borja. One thing that caught their curiosity was the part in the report by Juan Burgos where he said they saw more people go in the house than they were told to expect.
Now sitting at one end of the lounge table, Senator Claudio Guerrero was expressionless except for the dark shadow under the knotted eyebrows as he eyed Congressman Armando Herrera at the other end. From what Herrera had told him so far, there was not a single doubt in his mind at this point that their opposition, starting with Senator Alfred de Vera, Congressman Cecilio Borja and the rest of their allies in Congress and their supporters in the (Census) Bureau who helped publish the Concord book, knew who were involved in the attack. The fact that the incident was being kept quiet was a good sign they were working on something to get back at them. Now, about all he could think of and worry about was getting himself and others, especially those in the White House, caught with their pants down.
The missing men lost by these incredibly inept Mexicans who planned the job were either dead or being held captive somewhere and forced to rat on their handlers. Regardless, they need to regroup and plan their next move to ward off or be a step ahead of any retaliation they might have coming, both political and physical. In fact, it had already started with this Concord survey book right after Paco Valderrama signed CNABS into law.
At the thought of this, Guerrero nodded at his L.A. staff Fred Habib to slide a copy of the Concord book on the table to each of the men. This to remind them how miserably they had failed to locate the Concord headquarters and stop its operation before it was too late.
Another big shortfall, trying to stop Project Concord which has quickly become a major debacle for the Administration and the government. And now they have to figure out how to combat its effect, a job many times bigger and more formidable, the way Pablo Vergara put it to him over the phone earlier today, than trying to assassinate a handful of opposition leaders at one time. That, they could still do, successfully, but not all at once now that they learned there were more of them than the three they targeted. Perhaps with a better planned operation this time around, without anyone running to hide in the dark instead of facing the enemies and killing them.
In the meantime, the White House priority, again at Pablo Vergara's urging, was focused on getting CNABS in place. He had already set up its headquarters offices, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, occupying four floors in a new twenty-story building off the Interstate 10 highway. And they are now getting ready to install Professor Vicente Sandoval as its first Governor General. He shouldn't have any trouble getting Senate confirmation required by the new law. It would all be just a matter of procedural formalities.
Congressman Armando Herrera, like everyone else at the table, felt uneasy in his chair while he waited for the Senator to speak. Finding the body of their man, Miguel Infante, that night last month at his doorstep was a horror and a great embarrassment he couldn't bear to let Senator Guerrero and the White House know so that he never uttered a word of it to anyone and simply had Lorenzo Huerta dispose of the body that same night.
This second debacle was twice as horrifying.
He was relieved when, finally, it was the Senator's L.A. staff Fred Habib, who broke the silence first.
"Fellows, we'd like to hear directly from you exactly what happened," he said, deadpan and only slightly belittling. "Or maybe just the likeness of what happened?".
Several of them, except Texas Governor Antonio Costa, a close acquaintance and a guest of Senator Guerrero who came mostly to listen and see if he could be of any help to Guerrero, suddenly found the courage to speak at the same time. It was Congressman Herrera who prevailed but only to decide who should answer the question asked.
Turning to Governor Huerta first, he said: "Enzo, I think it's best if we let your man himself tell how it went."
"If you wish. I think so, too." Governor Huerta said, straight-faced. And turning to Apolonio Martinez: "Poli, we would like to hear again, for the rest of us here, everything Juan told you what happened."
"Of course, my Gobernador," Apolonio Martinez said with a vintage Hispanic accent. "I could ask Juan nextdoor to tell you himself but his English is not very good."
And he went ahead and told them what happened, making only fleeting eye contact with Senator Claudio Guerrero, Congressman Herrera and his boss, Governor Lorenzo Huerta sitting to his left. He stopped when he got to the point where his man, Juan Burgos, waited at least an hour for any of the men to return after the SUV was driven away.
Everyone was quiet for a while. Huerta was feeling uneasy and couldn't bring himself up to look at either of his friends, Senator Guerrero or Congressman Herrera. He had never failed them before with any of the 'service requests' they'd given him in the past. When his squad leader, Apolonio Martinez, told him he was using their best men for the team to 'fill the order', he couldn't be more positive giving his Capitol Hill friends the assurance for a clean and smooth job, just like the way things had gone in the past.
Now he was thinking: This is a total disaster. No one has any clear answer what really happened outside of that one Congressman getting shot. In addition to the embarrassment in front of his American friends, he felt anger rising to the top of his head. It was a big mistake sending that idiot Juan Burgos on the job. He'll talk to Poli about that once they're out of here. Meantime, he would very much like his friends to give him a chance to make up for this disaster.
Sure enough, when Senator Guerrero finally spoke, it was to say what he, Governor Huerta, was hoping for: a new 'service request'. Not just one but several. The Senator knew who those other people were who went into the house of Congressman Cecilio Borja that Saturday night. He gave Congressman Herrera and Governor Huerta a list which included those who gave them, Senator Guerrero and the White House, a hiccup during the Senate voting on the CNABS bill.
Coming out of the hotel after the gathering broke up, Governor Lorenzo Huerta took his bodyguard Apolonio Martinez aside for a quick minute. then got in the driver's seat of a car with Congressman Herrera's two 'security escorts' and Governor Costa's bodyguard in the backseat, Juan Burgos in the front passenger seat. A dark night had fallen by the time they'd driven through the distance on the G.W. Parkway across the river in Virginia to the small parking lot of a scenic overlook. It was so dark no scene of any kind could be seen of the Potomac river below the railing other than the skyline of Georgetown that flickered above the river bank on the other side.
Here, Juan Burgos got out of the car followed by the three men in the backseat. Two of them pumped a round each in his torso, the other in the back of his head. He tumbled face first down over the railing and plunged into the dark water of the Potomac River below.
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