The room turned into kind of a blur at that point. I had to sit down on one of the benches nearby in order to collect myself. Everyone was glued to the TV, most speculating on who had done this and why. Those questions would probably start running around in my head. But right now, I couldn’t really concentrate on anything.
“Well, this is bad,” Charlotte said. “The only way something can come out of this is if the US correctly identifies who did this.”
As she was saying this, my phone rang. Numbly, I took it out. “It’s Timothy,” I said, answering Eliza’s questioning look.
As soon as I pressed the button to receive the call, Tim breathlessly said, “…You there? Hey? Hey? Oh, you’re there! Are you seeing the news?”
“About the attack on DC?” I asked numbly.
“Yeah!” Timothy said. “This is perfect! If the Maccabee gets ready soon, we’re going to sell hundreds to the DC police alone! And think of the civilian market! The profits will be the stuff of legend!” I wanted to scream at him, to ask if he had any soul or if he had already sold it, but before I could collect myself enough to draw breath, he said, “I gotta tell Nari, May and Andy the good news.” Then he hung up.
“Well,” I said, “Timothy thinks he could make a profit, so there’s that.” I put my phone back in my pocket. “Eliza, Charlotte, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go vomit.” And with that, I walked off.
Needless to say, I couldn’t concentrate classes that day. Especially since when I finally snapped out of it the questions began to surface. For instance, who could pull off that kind of attack? And if they had those kinds of resources, why would they do that? If someone wanted to disrupt the US government, it would be much safer and infinitely more profitable to create a cable channel. While various super criminals and terrorists would sell what remained of their soul to do something like that, I kind of doubted the vast majority of them, even the well-known names, had the resources to pull it off. Most governments, even the ones that hated America, probably didn’t want to provoke the one country to ever drop the bomb on an enemy.
There was only one group I could think of: The Dragon’s Teeth. However, I wasn’t one hundred percent convinced by that line of thinking. First, I had only been able to look at this kind of thing for a little over a year. For all I knew (and despite my hopes,) there could be other groups similar in power and scope to The Dragon’s Teeth. Also, it didn’t seem like their style. Unless some kind of assault on the continental US was following, I doubted that they’d show their hand so early.
When I met up with Eliza and Charlotte at dinner, I mentioned this. Charlotte’s response was to say, “Well… do we really know that? After all, the only country they’ve invaded was North Korea. This might be a diversionary tactic.”
I sighed. “You’re right.” I laughed suddenly.
“What’s so funny?” I looked up. Bai had a tray of General Tso’s chicken, some rice, and some soda.
“Well,” I said, “if John, Nari and Sunny show up, we’ll be the foremost experts on The Dragon’s Teeth… outside of their creators, that is.”
Charlotte glowered. “I’m not sure how funny I find that.”
Eliza shrugged. “Better’n crying, innit?” She paused. “But ‘e might not necessarily be right…”
As she trailed off, Bai cut in. “Well,” she said, “the various government agencies know more. And if we don’t count a certain someone as one of the creators…” By “certain someone,” we all knew she was talking about the school’s President, “…or discount the chance he confided in others, there are potentially hundreds who are better informed than us. And that is if we discount the Teeth themselves.”
“Well,” Eliza said, “Those are possibilities, sure… but what about the Grenzefrontier?”
“They’ve been rumored to be running from The Dragon’s Teeth, yes,” Charlotte said, “but I fail to see how they’re more… shall we say accessible than the other sources mentioned?”
“Remember last semester?” Eliza said, her signature mischievous grin lighting up her face. “We seemed t’get a nice, big influx of the anachronistic bastards. Best part? They’re all nice and gift-wrapped. Anyone can apply to speak to one.”
“But…” Charlotte said warily, “President Newton-Howell forbade us from investigating…”
“…From the NIU end.” Eliza and I said this in unison. I reached over the table to hug Eliza. It was somewhat awkward, but she seemed to appreciate it. “Eliza, you’re a genius.”
“Oh, believe me, Nate,” she said smugly, “I bloody know.”
“How do we get in, though?” I wondered. “They probably don’t let just anyone in, do they? I mean, these guys are prisoners, aren’t they?”
“There’s a registry,” Eliza said. “An interested person or group need only write their name, reason for visiting, and student identification number. Then, they wait for approval.”
“So we put down the truth,” I said. “I mean, I think The President would prefer it if I dropped my Dragon’s Teeth investigation entirely, but I doubt he would believe it if I did. So I visibly go around talking to Nazi refugees, maybe that’ll get him to calm down.”
“It could work to divert suspicion,” Charlotte said. “But what would talking to them gain you, apart from that?”
“No way of knowing until we do it,” Eliza said.
With that, conversation turned to other things. After finishing eating, Eliza and I went to the sign-up station. We decided to have both of us go in to the interview. The reason we stated for the person signing us up was that there seemed to be preferences given to groups of two to four. That had been explained to us by the person on duty, in a rather guiding manner. We obliged him.
However, one of the other reasons was that I kind of wanted someone who both knew a bit about The Final Prophecy and was more able to maintain emotional detachment to be with me to cross-examine any person we met with. Talking about a group that had killed several people I had worked with to a person who had been trained to hate me for my (very loosely-followed) religion was somewhat likely to make me flip. Plus, Eliza had similar training to me and a different way of thinking. She might be able to spot something I hadn’t.
Still, according to the person who helped us sign up, the next opening was in January. That was two months away. A little annoying, but there was nothing about it I could do. The next step was to write down a few questions I’d want to ask.
The only problem was the waiting. Around two weeks later, it got even harder. Turning on the internet and looking at the news, I discovered that the Russian Dumat had just suffered a similar attack. Looking at it, I knew I needed to know more. Two attacks on the capitols of super powers in a single month? That couldn’t be a coincidence.
The only problem is, I had no idea who had done it, or even if these two attacks were by the same people. As soon as I could get an opportunity, I decided to call upon the mighty Google to aid me. For two hours between classes, I looked at every English-language article on the recent attacks.
When I did, I found to my surprise how few pieces of information there really were. Yes, there was the massive speculation by hundreds of confused voices, and for the most part they were amplified (or sometimes even started) by the mainstream media, but there seemed to not be a single useful government press release.
For instance, the American press releases had a lot of patriotic mumbo-jumbo, but it was very vague on any actual details. The number of shooters was confirmed to be greater than one, but the exact number was not mentioned. Secret Service, DC cops, FBI agents, and EMTs were injured and/or confirmed dead at the scene, but exact numbers were not mentioned. Congressmen who had been killed were mentioned, but I assumed that was because they needed to be. Also, there were definite rumors of gas being used, but no one could say which side had broke it out. To top it off, no official time line had been released. The same held true for the attack in Moscow, but since it was still ongoing at the time of my research, I couldn’t really find it suspicious.
Eventually, I finally found a message board that had what seemed to be an accurate timeline of the Washington attack. The website was also working on a similar timeline for the Moscow one, but that proclaimed “THIS EVENT IS ONGOING! As such, we cannot triage new information as effectively as possible. If we have made a mistake, please correct us in the comments below.”
Seeing as the Washington attack’s thread had less severe warnings, I decided to look at that one first. The first thing it had was “Mattias4994 begins live stream, shooters enter the Capitol building.” Since I had time, I clicked on it. It was a YouTube video. As the ad played, I checked the description. There were two paragraphs in what I thought was French and two in English. The English part said how the vlogger in question had started the livestream about his DC trip, then all hell broke loose. It also mentioned how if we wanted, we could see the entire thing on Periscope, and that other highlights could be found on his YouTube channel.
Shrugging, I pressed the skip button on his add. It then showed a cellphone recording of the entrance to the capitol building. Near the bottom of the steps were two DC cops, one with what I guessed was a Bennelli M4 shotgun. The other had an M-4 assault rifle. The pattern was repeated again near the top.
The scene continued like that for about two and a half minutes. The vlogger talked excitedly in French, tourists wandered by, and the DC cops did their best impersonation of Tower of London guards. Then, things got interesting.
All of a sudden, there were odd popping sound. Instantly, I pressed j on my keyboard. The video jumped back ten seconds. When I heard it for the second time, I confirmed it. Gunfire. The vlogger and a good chunk of the tourists didn’t recognize it, but the cops did. The two at the top of the stairs entered the building. The ones at the bottom, meanwhile, turned off their safeties.
Back in the real life, I heard my phone ring. I paused the video and took out my phone. It was Timothy. “Hey,” I said, “What’s up?”
“Got some urgent news,” he said, “might be good, might be bad. The FBI moved its trials up. We’re going to have to get there December fourth, and will be there until the sixteenth.”
“Am I going to have to be there?” I asked. “I’m not really the marketing guy…”
“I need you and Nari,” Tim said. “I need the designers to give technical details. Normally, I’d be completely confident in my speaking capabilities, but they might want to know some weird bit of technical arcana that I never even thought of. Plus… I don’t want to be the one to say Nari can’t help with the demonstrations.”
“Well,” I said, “I think I can get my gunsmithing teacher to count three weapons and two ammunition types to count as a final… I’ll see what I can do about the others.”
“Good,” Tim said. “Just so you know… we’re going to be meeting with other organizations. Anyway, see you soon.”
He hung up before I could get him to clarify. Telling myself that it had to be other law enforcement agencies wanting to buy some more robust weaponry and not an insane plan to arm… undesirables, I turned back to the video.
The person recording seemed somewhat curious as to what was happening. It was hard to tell as I didn’t speak French. Still, the gunfire had stopped. I wondered why, and the two cops outside were obviously wondering the same thing.
Then, a man with red hair and wearing a brown coat with oddly long sleeves walked by the vlogger. He made a beeline towards the two cops on the Capitol’s steps. When he got fairly close, one of the cops raised a hand and yelled at him to get back. In response, the red-headed man raised his arm and there was the sound of a pistol. The red-haired man switched his aim and fired again. Both the cops collapsed.
Then, as if the gunfire was a cue, a bunch of vans skidded to a halt in front of the building. I paused the video after they begun to disgorge their occupants. Since the vlogger had either regained use of his feet or became disappointingly sane and started to run, I saw that the men exiting were all armed and wearing ski masks. There was also something similar about them… something I couldn’t place.
However, before I could figure it out, my phone received a text. It was from Mubashir.