Aftermath – The Birth of the United Workers’ Army
I find myself alone in the church again – not praying for divine comfort but seeking a real answer for everything that has happened recently: the carnage that was, what could have been, is imprinted upon my mind and I want to know just what God would allow this to be. I’ve been told that evil is the result of free will but also that man is finite and must obey his obligations. Did the riot cops willfully pull the trigger on that poor girl or were they bound to another authority (one that supposedly punishes the evil doer, no less) – and would they have chosen to slaughter the others gathered that day if they weren’t destroyed themselves or would they simply be doing their duty to a higher authority?
Both answers being disturbing in their own way, of course. If the answer is the former, then God gave man free will because he wants suffering (otherwise why give man the power to harm others – being omniscient God must know that this would be the result, right?). If the second, then God wants us to fulfill our obligations to society before ourselves or even our fellow man – if fulfilling those obligations to society brings suffering it’s God’s will being imposed over our needs (as God has given society the authority to carry out those acts in the first place): and in both cases this makes God a petty tyrant as far as I can tell – I know that I’m not supposed to cast judgment on the Almighty, but after what I saw that day I can’t help but ask what kind of a world I really live in; do I live in a world where the good man makes any difference or must one be evil to make any kind of mark whatsoever – why is it that the godless people my cousin affiliates with make more of an impact in society than the virtuous ones we’re supposed to follow as an ideal example for living?
Is there any point in the suffering of the righteous? Or is it all some kind of joke with no punch line?
I find myself reflecting on everything that happened after that fateful day – since the riots in the streets that culminated in the lynching of the police chief. The unrest in the air inspired the protesting workers to take up arms themselves (against the advisements of the organizers – which have since fallen out of favor…), which led to Dmitri taking the weapons I acquired out of storage and he began to train them (with the help of my cousins associates, of course) into an urban guerrilla unit: the majority of the workers who volunteered to be part of the armed resistance have never held a gun before in their lives, but were more than willing to give their very lives if it meant a *chance* at amounting to something more than slave labor at the docks. With Dmitri acting as commander of this makeshift armed force that quickly grew in power, they accomplished so much that the unions failed to do: while negotiations for more reasonable wages fell on deaf ears, a few anonymous men holding several members of the management for ransom resulted in the company paying the entire staff a full year’s salary *up front* (which many workers simply walked off with after the fact); where pleas for reasonable quotas failed, the expropriation of product by force of arms has resulted in a reduction lower production requirements (obsessively out of “security concerns” – but that’s just what Dmitri demanded of them). And all attempts on the part of the company to meet force with force have failed because their own security forces aren’t strong enough to fight us (many guards simply throw down their weapons when men with rifles and balaclavas approach) and the police are too busy dealing with civil unrest elsewhere to be a factor in this conflict!
I’ve been told over and over again since childhood that it’s impossible to destroy the master’s house with the master’s tools, but that’s exactly what I see around me – those who are skilled in the use of violence and intimidation are effectively repelling a society that thrives on the same. Come to think of it, this saying doesn’t even work as a metaphor (as any tool used to build can also destroy when used properly): just as a hammer can build up and break down walls, so too can force build up and destroy whole societies – regardless of who claims ownership of the tool, it serves the will of the man who wields it rather than the man who says it’s rightfully his.
Tell me right now God – why is this? Why is it that the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper and that the only means the righteous have of defeating the wicked is to use their own means against them? We are told that the meek will inherit the earth, but all observable evidence tells me that the earth belongs to those who have the strength to reach out and take what they want. Why is this? Answer me damn it!
The only reply to my queries is silence – I have my answer. The only excuse that God has for making such a world with contradictory, hypocritical principles forced on us is that he does not exist: that everything I was told was sacred and holy throughout my life is one big lie and that I’ve tortured myself over staying true to these values for nothing – that I should have abandoned this shit long ago.
With that realization I get up and walk out of the church – past the worn and crumbling statue of Christ for the last time…
After a final farewell to my old faith I pay a visit to the makeshift headquarters for our militia (we haven’t even given it a name yet) – while there are cells spread out all over town (as well as out in the countryside), most of the command and control functions come from an abandoned warehouse not five miles from the docks I once worked at. Here Dmitri and a number of representatives elected by each cell plot the course of action this force will take: Dmitri has a solid grip on the title of commander (due to having trained under Gerald Simmons himself – a legend among resistance groups worldwide), but as a matter of practicality the reps from the individual cells hold plenty of influence over his decisions. Although I sit among them at their meetings where logistics and strategy are contemplated and bear the title of emissary (as I negotiate trades between ourselves and the other armed factions that have sprouted up), I’m very much out of my element – I am really just a glorified “go-fer” in practice, but nonetheless it remains a fact that none of us would be here if not for my decisive actions at the start of the strike.
Sitting among the talk of politics and strategy, my mind wanders off think of how far we’ve come. What started as a couple dozen angry men is now a force of over a hundred and still growing – with the present level of social unrest being what it is the recruiting grounds are fertile and views that were once only expressed behind closed doors are now becoming more widespread in public (despite the claims of the news networks). The question is no longer one of whether it’s possible for us to successfully fight the corporate powers that enslave us, but what direction we want to take the fight in: among the youngest recruits there is a hard-core Marxist and Guaverist following who long to see cessation from the U.S. and the establishment of a workers’ collective here (a viewpoint that has become very popular since the rise of the PFLC in the wake of the Roberta Paulson incident), among the older workers there is the desire to keep our operations as they now and use force of arms to ensure that the company doesn’t fuck them over as before (of course, this can only be maintained as long as the police are too busy dealing with the street demonstrations and other armed groups to seriously deal with us) and still there are others (particularly Dmitri) who have seen first-hand the effects of centralized power in an oppressive role and desire to dismantle both capitalism and the state so that all means of production are owned on a community level (instituting an Anarcho-syndicalist society).
As for me I shall continue to serve my role as emissary for contacts for our upstart resistance (regardless of what path it ultimately takes – I’m responsible for its existence and will see through whatever purpose those involved with set to the end), yet there are concerns in the back of my mind. I have no doubt that this force can withstand the assaults of the company (and the state to a degree), but this eclectic set of motivations threatens to tear us apart before our true potential can be realized…
“Jorge” says a voice from the far end of the table that draws me back to the present – “You are a founding member of this group. So what input do you have regarding the direction we should take now?” Ah, how I was just hoping that they would just settle this issue among themselves: I have no mind for politics, but I knew this would come up eventually.
“Well…” I stumble around looking for an answer – “I suppose that the best solution is to just put that up to a vote and let our own units decide that.” And who could object: regardless of our ideological differences, we’re all about the power of the working people – yes?
“Haven’t you been listening?” the man replies – “opinions among our operatives are split has to what goals we should work toward. Show some leadership already and tell us if you think it’s better to join forces with the PFLC under their banner or remain an independent militia!” Having no answer for him, I excuse myself from the room and wait out the rest of the meeting.
Once the meeting concludes and security sweeps completed (as a precaution, the warehouse is secured before and after every meeting) I met Dmitri by his car so that we might have a couple of drinks before the night ends – as I step in the passenger seat Dmitri turns his head and looks at me with a stern face. “So, just where do you think we should go?” he asks. “To the bar?” I meekly reply.
He let’s out a frustrated sigh – “you know what I mean. Don’t tell me you can’t speak your mind in the presence of a trusted friend.” I turn and look out the window towards the docks, and with a deep breath I tell him that I have no idea: “I honestly didn’t look this far ahead – my concerns have always been for immediate survival in a world of shit. I had the insight to get this movement off the ground, but I’m not a man of vision or some kind of natural leader like you.”
“Well,” he lets out as he starts the engine – “like it or not our fighters now look to you for guidance: I don’t want to unduly influence you here, but this is a crossroads and we need all the input we can get.” I turn my head back towards him, cracking a smirk as I quip about my word potentially contradicting his own. To which he replies “especially if it contradicts mine. Now let’s get some scotch.”
Dmitri and I had just finished our drinks and were leaving the bar – as we got in the car and were about to leave the parking lot I notice a large, black van approach from down the street: moving at high speed, it immediately cut us off from the exit – behind us I see two more vans just like it proceeding to cut off the other parking lot exit and the front door to the bar.
Within seconds, three men clad in black body armor and carrying assault rifles surround the car and demand to see our identification – Dmitri and I come out with our hands in the air and comply with the demands of these men. At the same time more of them pour into the bar, proceeding to drag out multiple patrons and also demanding identification from them: they then begin dragging certain people away from there – no reading of Miranda rights, no word on charges brought against them. Nothing.
Dmitri recognizes this from his own home country – some shots ring out from behind the bar, distracting two of the men guarding us: as the only remaining man watched his compatriots move towards the gunfire, he began to reach for a Colt 1911 he had stashed in the side of the car: as the remaining guard turns around to find Dmitri with a .45 to his head, he wastes no time shooting him point blank in the head. The death of our guard gives me time to dive into the backseat for a 12-gauge he kept back there. No sooner than I grab the shotgun do two more men in black come out of the van blocking us, only to be quickly dispatched by Dmitri and I and leaving us in control of their van.
As I start the van’s engines the other men in black fire on the vehicle – apparently this is an armored police vehicle (which keeps us from being immediately turned into Swiss cheese), but we can’t keep taking shots like this. I gun the engine and put distance between us and the men in black, only looking back to see if I was being chased: but as I turned my head I do not see anyone chasing us, but rather the sight of motorcycles and muzzle flashes – whoever those men were after this night, it apparently wasn’t us…
Tonight is a critical moment in our history – the close call at bar a few weeks back awakened me to the fact that this urban guerrilla unit must evolve or die. Yes, the Homeland Security agents (as our sources have since identified the men in black) were looking to bust a meeting between the PFLC and a Lawless chapter that night but it won’t be much longer before we are in the crosshairs of the state as well: we can’t continue to simply harass the company and expect to get away with it anymore – we have to escalate to stay viable as a unit, and to that end we need allies.
During the last meeting we had at the warehouse I finally took an active role in leadership – proposing that we expand our goals in the direction Dmitri had previously outlined, starting with recruiting assistance from the other guerrillas via a demonstration of our competence as fighters along with gesture of goodwill: I proposed that we assemble our fighters and break out the PFLC and Lawless members that were arrested during the bar raid – such an act would be bold enough to prove our ability and both factions would appreciate the return of their people.
And now, that is what I stand poised to do – our sources tell us that the prisoners are being held at a detention facility set up by FEMA in a vacant lot near the train depot: the facility is heavily guarded by Homeland Security agents and a National Guard detachment as well as local SWAT teams – but Jeffe tells me that a little after nine tonight much of that force will abandon the post.
How does he know this? “I know a guy who can arrange for it.” That’s all he can tell me – had he not come through for me before when I needed him I would not be here, hiding in a roadside ditch under a camouflage net. I check my watch to see that it’s now 9:02 and feel my heart leap to my throat: I wasn’t given an exact time when to expect the enemy to leave the base but a part of me starts to have doubts – as if he could sense my anxiety, Jeffe (who is under a net behind me) softy whispers “it’s almost time.”
What seems like an eternity has passed and I once again look at my watch – 9:10. And still no sign of the guards leaving the compound. Then in the distance I hear the cracking of gunfire: lots of it – and it sounds as though it comes from the center of town. Where the demonstrations are being held…
Suddenly the creaking sounds of a gate swinging wide ring out – I hear some powerful engines rumbling down the road. Tanks? APCs? Whatever they are I can tell you that it’s no civilian vehicle I’ve ever encountered: as they pass by our camouflaged position in the ditch I count at least half a dozen of them before the rumble of the engines fades in the distance (presumably towards the continuing sounds of gunfire from downtown) – I rise up out of my position, take my binoculars and peer into the FEMA compound. It seems that at least two-thirds of the total armed force in the area has been removed, which makes our mission that much easier.
Jeffe takes two other goes into a sewage tunnel at the end of the ditch and drives out our vehicles – three pick-up trucks with some light machine guns (acquired from the Black Flag, who, presumably, took them from government troops) mounted in the back. I man the turret of one of the vehicles and on my signal two of the trucks drive out into the field near the compound’s west end while my truck attacks the front gate: I fire short bursts into the watchtowers to pin down the snipers whilst the truck break through the gate – then we proceed to drive towards the guard barracks and shower the rudely awakened soldiers in a hail of lead.
As I keep the troops busy, Jeffe has the other trucks smash gaps in the razor-wire fences – allowing the imprisoned dissidents to make a run for freedom, during which they search out the Lawless and PFLC members we came for: within two minutes, Jeffe raises me on the radio and tells me that over 100 people slipped through the gaps in the fences – of which were most of the men we came for, leaving only one man on our list. A man the prisoners we’ve just rescued identify as Skegs.
One of the prisoners informs Jeffe that this Skegs is being held for interrogation and that he may be incapacitated – he was last seen on the north side of the camp: the place where I’m presently engaged in a firefight with the surviving guards – without a moment’s hesitation I order the driver to take control of the machine gun. I then take out my 12-guage and have the two riflemen in the passenger’s seats to come with me towards what’s been identified as the prisoner’s infirmary; if this Skegs is incapacitated this is where he will most likely be.
There is hardly any resistance encountered on the way to the infirmary – it seems that we caught them completely unprepared for a fight and pinned most of the guards down at their own barracks. I raise my shotgun to shoulder, breach the door and take point going into the medical ward: what greets my eyes is the sight of a multitude of broken bodies and only slightly less broken minds – most hardly took any notice of our presence as we make our way down the hall of gurneys lined up in this plywood shelter, and the few that do believe us to be their torturers. Screams for mercy fill from these poor souls echo in our ears as we approach the end of the corridor of beds, finding this Skegs we are searching for deprived of the use of his legs.
The riflemen fetch a stretcher and proceed to carry him out the door while I take point once more – this time, right around the corner of an adjacent structure, I encounter a figure in an officer’s uniform with a Berretta pointed at my head. Without a moments hesitation I put two rounds of buckshot into his body, killing him instantly. With less than 20 yards separating my men from the truck, I send them ahead of me while I identify the officer: as I approach the corpse, I see a colonel’s insignia – right away, I knew I had killed the commandant and decapitated the chain of command.
After taking his Berretta as a trophy, I sprint for the truck – I arrive in time to find my men loading Skegs into the back whilst the driver continues to deliver intermittent suppressive fire when appropriate. I hop in the driver’s seat, get on the radio and declare this mission over: I then take us out of the base to meet Jeffe at our rendezvous point where the prisoners will be returned to their own people – and the cause of our newly-formed workers’ army will grow stronger for the bonds formed this night…
Azazel brings us another installment in the Tales of the Black Flag series.