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For All Nails 
#91b
Watered With the Blood of Patriots

"The Mexican one-dolar bill is marked on its backside with a symbol of
mysterious design, adapted from the old seal of the Republic of
Jefferson.  It bears a liberty tree at its center, its base encircled
with the familiar snarling rattlesnake.  At its top is a liberty cap
surmounted by the sunburst-encircled eye of God familiar from Masonic
ritual, while at its base lies the inscription /Novus Ordo Seclorum/,
'a new order for the ages.'  All familiar icons of the Rebellion. 
However, ever since the paranoid Nestor Weber declared in 1951 that it
was the symbol of a shadow Jeffersonist government within the Mexican
state, a so-called circle of Mexican /perfectibili/, it has perhaps
received more attention than it is due; indeed, it has, in a strange
irony, become almost as popular as the motto /Hasta la victoria para
siempre/ as the defining symbol of the modern Jeffersonist
movement..."

--Frederick Ware.  /The Mexican Jeffersonists: Truth or Delusion?/ 
New-York City, Crown Press, 1967

Theodore Army Air Station, California
July 13, 1974

Evangeline was not enjoying herself that evening.  There was nothing
on the vita, for starters.  On top of that, they did not seem to have
any tradition of an officer's mess, shocking, just a canteen and a
cafeteria and some travesty called an officer's club, which did not
seem to be a club and might have been open to more than just officers.
 She'd gotten sick of it and gone into town.  Which proved to be a
sizable mistake.  Her dinner had just decided to reenact the Rocky
Mountain war inside her stomach.  And that wasn't the worst of it. 
While she usually left clothing concerns to her orderly, a perpetually
cheery young female corporal from the S.C., Grace had a sick aunt to
visit in Oldfields.  Plus, she doubted she could have squeezed Grace
in with the security restrictions.  Though it seemed it really
wouldn't have mattered, given the fact that the Mexico she was seeing
didn't understand the word restrictions.

Certainly, there was that can-do attitude of theirs that offset
it--and maybe sprang from it, too, come to think of it.  And what they
called /machismo/.  Not quite the familiar gentleman's code, and not
quite not the gentleman's code either.  Optimism and male stupidity
make the world go round, she had murmured to herself when she first
heard Lt. Lacroix's routine about flying at--what had he done again? 
Mexican terminology was so confusing.  Flown at five pings, though he
had some other strange word for it.  But that's not important, is it?
For the time being, maybe.  I'll be home soon.

King George Arms Motor Lodge, Cokeley Township, Southern Vandalia
March 25, 1974

Alex Stapleton slowly eased up in the sagging motor hotel bed, the
garish pink and electric blue of the neon-lit sign bleeding through
thin drapes and frosted-over glass.  She didn't want to wake Martin as
he lay there, curled at her side, the multicolored light playing over
the smooth, athletic shape of his exposed forearm in the luminous blue
gloom.  She pulled the sheets close against her wiry-muscled
shoulders, over her untanned, radio-shack pale skin.  She felt cold,
she felt alone, even with a man in her bed, the first one in almost a
year, and the first one she ever gave a d-mn about, ever.

She sat there, her back against the cheap, lightly-padded headboard,
her steely green-grey eyes translucent in the darkness, her short,
severe, vaguely unfashionable dark hair tangled and tusseled with
night fear.  Why was she here?  Why was she even going through with
these grubby meetings, grubby couplings in this seedy, sagging hotel
in the middle of nowhere; was it just for him, for Mr. Martin Hawke,
or just because of the way he made her feel?  Did it even matter who
he was anymore? She stirred, trying to slip back down into the bed,
trying to stay silent.

D-mn, she thought.  That was the situation in a nutshell, a single
word.  Double d-mn.

Maybe it was her way of getting back at the system that her dropped
her out there in the first place and left her for dead.  At the same
time, if that was the case, why was she hiding it?  Why couldn't she
just drag it out into the harsh light of day and have it over, be
court-martialed, be the first woman to be court-martialed.  If it
wasn't an offense meriting the court-martial, it was close.  Martin
was a civilian, but he reported to tin hats above Alex, and he was
privy to secrets.  Just as she was privy to secrets too, and never the
twain should meet.

But there were secrets the two of them were keeping themselves from
both their superior officers, and not just their meetings.  It had
begun with a book Alex kept hidden beneath her mattress back at the
base, a book entitled /The Tree of Liberty/, by Franklin Suárez.  On
its cover was the red phrygian cap that had adorned many a tree of
liberty during the days of the Rebellion and now, in grubby and humble
cloths, crowned the heads of the liberators of Boricua.  And it was a
symbol, and a book, and an author that Martin Hawke was very familiar
with.  For he, like Suárez, like the Boricuans, were the inheritors of
the martyrs of 1777.  He was a Jeffersonist.

That was why it mattered who he was, why she still lay by his side
even in this dark cold Vandalian night even as she doubted.  That was
the only thing that mattered; without that her life was meaningless. 
What was important in this whole tangled mess.

Theodore Army Air Station, California
July 13,1974

And what was important?  Ev pulled up her legs underneath her, sitting
up on the bed, lost in thought.  The clothing crisis? Maybe--maybe
not.  One has to show the flag after all, though the Mexicans seemed
to not be impressed by the sort of thing that sensible people took an
interest in.  And clothing was clothing, in and of itself meaningless,
but given context and importance in the game of diplomacy.  Proper
dress meant the expectation of respect, and advertised the wearer's
own reciprocation of that respect.
 
But, she knew that being an officer and a gentlewoman meant dressing
the part, and that meant being out of uniform when etiquette demanded,
but sometimes she wished she could get back into the breeches and
boots of her old regiment.  Simple, a uniform prescribed for every
occasion.

But not at Theodore AAFS; people get away with the most incredible
unregulated sloppy get-ups.  Including the ubiquitous and quite
hideous brown jumpsuit that nearly everyone wore around on base, even
off their airmobiles. Not that she had any desire to do so, though she
had to do something quick to prevent the inevitable.  Her white linen
suit had a most unsuitable stain on it.  And she was having hosiery
problems.  Her synthon stockings had gotten snagged for the third time
in a week, and she was rapidly running out of pairs.  Any local
replacements would have been sub-par by her standards, bad enough, but
to compound the irritation of the situation, the girl behind the
counter had stared at her like she was mad when she asked for some. 
The only sizes available were either absurdly large or absurdly small.

Weren't the "in" thing this season west of the border, she supposed.  

They'd given her the brown jumpsuit for test flights...uggh, on that
flying brick they called an interceptor. She was immensely amused at
Lacroix's panic level when she tried to bank left at just below 1
ping. He claimed afterwards she had gotten an evil grin on her face
when she pulled that stunt.  She did no such thing, she responded. 
That was indeed amusing.  She was not amused, however, when she found
out the Mexican so-called state-of-the-art F-30 only turned 10
degrees. At least if a shooting war broke out, the Sparrow would
outturn these overpowered scrap-heaps.  Good Lord, what a joke. 
Better than the jokes on the vita, though.

Which brought her to Mexican vitavision.  She did not understand
Mexican vitavision.  And she knew she never would.   It was not a
matter of language, she knew plenty of Spanish, and just if the
circumstances called for it, plenty of Spanish profanity of all shapes
and varieties.  As she had found, there were two channels on the puny
little set that they'd provided her guest room with, one English, the
other Spanish, though in reality it was more a matter of competing
Spanglish and /inglañol/.  She cinched up her robe, a silk
dragon-patterned affair she'd picked up on a visit to Canton a few
years ago.  She slipped under the covers of the bed and clicked on the
vita with the cable-connected remote.

Let's try Spanglish.  I can do Spanglish.  Click.

King George Arms Motor Lodge, Cokeley Township, Southern Vandalia
March 25, 1974

Hawke.  She remembered the first time she had heard his name.  It was
from her superior, Colonel Sir Stephenson McLean, that strutting
monocled South Vandalian backcountry squire.  He tried to play the
high-class landowner, as if he were one of the Black aristocrats that
decorated the society of the confederation's capital, rather than just
an upper-class bumpkin with an interest in fly-fishing.  The 10th/12th
South Vandalia Borderers was not the most fashionable of regiments,
after all; it had formerly been /two/ very unfashionable regiments,
which clearly said something about how Headquarters looked at it.

Sir Stephenson was an absentee commander; maybe he knew to step aside
when the experts ran the place, or maybe he just didn't want to admit
he didn't belong in their closed fraternal society.  The old linear
chain of command had much context in the signals unit.  The corporals,
the sergeants, even the privates sometimes knew their way around the
electrics better than herself or any of the ranking officers. 
Sometimes she wondered if she was being deluded, every time that
spectacle-wearing little shrimp Corporal Burghoff shoved another set
of paperwork in her face to initial and sign.  She didn't trust Walter
Burghoff for a moment.  Creepy little man.

She sometimes wondered if she, the cast-off Manitoban hayseed, should
have liked the fraternal, informal bond between her staff.  She was
the dupe of the Confederation's aristocratic world, after all.  She
was the one who hid subversive political texts under her mattress. 
But it was a bond she could not share, another elite to conquer, and
maybe that was why she hated it.

They had been in the base mess hall one cold January evening, huddling
in their green-jacketed mess uniforms over the good regimental china,
a strange combination of gentility and deprivation.  There was no
disguising from the interior that the hall was just a tin shed, its
curved walls awkwardly lined with memorabilia, old banners and
photographs, that the food on their fine plates were straight out of a
tin.  She seldom joined in the other officers’ conversations. 
She was the only woman there, a creature unto herself.  Sometimes she
thought that solitude was all she wanted, but now she wondered if she
really knew who she was anymore, because she hated the loneliness.

Colonel McLean was present, for once, sitting at the head of the table
behind the pewter candelabra.  Electrical experts dining by
candlelight.  He had told her, quite simply, there would be a civilian
from the Ministry coming by to look at the machines, nothing more,
nothing less.  He didn't know the half of it.

There had been a handsome smile from Martin first, and then a coy
glance, and then a stir of emotion along her spine, something she had
never felt.  And she had discovered his secret, a chance glance into
his room, a suspicious book left lying on his bed, the same /Liberty
Tree/.  And a pamphlet by Joan Kahn, an unfamiliar face, but maybe
another rope she might use to pull herself from this great pit of
despair.  D-mn careless to leave them lying about, but it made her
heart soar.  There was another one like her out there, another person
groping towards the truth Jefferson had proclaimed.  Maybe he wanted
her to see that book, maybe he knew, like she knew about him, that
there was more to her than the eye could discern.

It was now morning, and the pale prairie light filtered through the
thin curtains of the hotel room, and they had been talking for hours,
and she felt, for the first time, something dark well up within her. 
Fear.

"...But there are more like us, Alex, there are.  A whole hidden army
of Jeffersonistas waits in Mexico for the right signal."

"D-mn you, Martin.  You're saying you're a spy.  For the United
States."  Her voice trembled.  "For...the...bl--ding enemy."  She
couldn't bring herself to say my enemy, our enemy.  Was it her enemy,
after all?

"For the true Mexicans, Jefferson's heirs.  And I don't mean the
nonsense that gets shoved down our throats in the schools about his
slave children.  That's nonsense.  He pays unjustly every day for
those lies we tell with the blood he shed in London."

Shoved down /our/ throats.  He's been illuminated too.  "We had a
golden chance in 1776, not just here, but everywhere.  The martyrs of
the rebellion, the philosophers of France, and the second founder of
Jeffersonism, Adam Weishaupt of Germany.  Indeed, we, my superiors and
I, call ourselves the Mexican Illuminati in his honor, lest you
forget.  We had the chance to build a luminous, perfect world, but we
lost it through human greed.  We had a second chance in the 1880s, but
it escaped us.  We must seize the day before we lose it again."

"But, d-mmit, how?"

"Take back the Mexican government, somehow; there are hundreds of us
at all levels of the War Office.  We simply need some sort of sign,
some great victory to show Mercator we can save Mexico and restore the
real ideology that gave it birth.  He too can be converted, perfected,
to true Jeffersonianism with the right sign.  But that time will come,
soon."

"But, G-dd-mmit, what can I do?  I'm bl-dy  stuck out here in the
middle of bl-dy nowhere."

"Wait.  We all have our gifts to give to the cause.  I lie in wait,
collecting the data of the electrics of our enemies, and you fly your
plane.  Someday that talent of yours may be the salvation of Thomas
Jefferson."

Alex was silent.