In a nation plagued by fractious and partisan politics, any conflict, any disagreement can be the match that starts the fuse burning. Once lit, the fuse may burn too fast for anyone to stop it.
When a gruesome mass-shooting at an upscale high school prompts a call for the repeal of the 2nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution (the right to keep and bear arms) a handful of states dig their heels in, refusing to allow the Bill of Rights to be foreshortened. Parliamentary maneuvering gives way to raw politics as Texas, the only state whose annexation agreement allows it, attempts to split itself five ways in order to provide additional states to vote against repeal, and the opposing faction moves to prevent it.
A Constitutional crisis erupts when Texas and a dozen other states secede from the Union in protest, sparking a second Civil War.
With most of the nation's military deployed on foreign battlefields, the fighting on the home front to prevent or support the secession is state-vs.-state, town-against-town, and door-to-door, with foreign governments being dragged into the maelstrom caused by the breakdown of traditional partnerships. The armed forces, itself a homogeneous mix of both factions, is forced to deal with soldiers who now may or may not be reliable, with no way to predict who is and who isn't.
Misstep upon misstep, the two sides edge ever closer to the lip of the nuclear cliff.
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Gloria Talamanco had a smirk of satisfaction on her face, and with good reason. Watching the news reports out of Ohio and Tennessee, among many others, made her realize that just because those states hadn't joined them in leaving the United States didn't mean that they were entirely happy with the way things had turned out, either.
And she realized something else, too. With just a little extra help, she thought, that little prick of a president, Doug Farnham, would resign for his own safety. What, she wondered, might be the straw that breaks the son-of-a-bitch's back? The Eastern States had been unable to swing a big-enough club in the first eight months since the breakaway, and now, with the gun owners in their own states rising up in righteous anger against their elite masters, it was almost at the point where they were paying no attention to the breakaway states at all.
Not that she was complaining, mind you. She just figured that it couldn't last forever, and Farnham or his successor would eventually get around to the business of conquering their rebellious sisters. A good offense, she knew, was the best defense. If ever the time was right, it was now. If the people shooting police and sheriffs and National Guardsmen were a little more effective, the whole structure would collapse. How to make them more effective?
Their efforts were, from the news reports she had heard and seen, little more than pin-pricks, although in some places the situation was more properly described as "mob rule", with more than just a few police and sheriff's departments rendered ineffective or just plain defunct. They waited until the police went out on a raid and reacted with guerilla attacks. What the guerillas really needed were to become pro-active. For that, they had to be able to plan ahead, and for that they needed intelligence—of the military sort. Yes—. She reached for the phone.
The call to the headquarters of the Idaho State Police went straight to the Commandant's desk. "Yes, ma'am," the Commandant started off, "what can I do for you?"
"Gary, I'm curious to know what happened to the contents of the Federal Office Complex in Boise after we kicked them all out," Gloria Talamanco queried. "Did we think to save any of it?"
"Any of it?" he responded with a hint of a laugh in his voice. "We archived all of it. Why? Are you looking for something special?"
"Governor, it was a Federal building. That's the wrong place to look for intelligence," and Gary Stern started laughing.
"Gary, you never can resist, can you?" Gloria Talamanco poked at him. "Do we have anything like an inventory?"
"—of information? Well, we have eighteen or nineteen of what they call 'file servers'—kind of like mini-computers—and thousands of pounds of paper documents. I'm not sure that anyone has actually looked at all of it yet. Shall I put someone on it?"
"Absolutely. I want to know what, in terms of information, we have there that might be useful. Get someone started on inventorying the data-content and get back to me tomorrow with an estimate of how long it's going to take. Come to think of it, put several people on it."
"Done," he assured her.
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