I've been called to Oregon for a conference with my boss, Symmetria San Giacomo. We head for the countryside with overnight gear, for privacy. Hmm, important.
Even there, we get pulled over by a time cop for hunting Russians in Mexico, 1910. Huh? That's one thing I can fairly say I've never done.
- The time cop is Evil Mayor Anvernacht! Huh? Anvernacht is not only on trial for corruption involving Iowa super-cows, he's unprovably involved in a time travel plot involving the True Cross of Spartacus. It seems the Time Police like to hire time crooks rather than fight them.
- It's time for a private talk with my boss - under audio surveillance. The boss wants to just press a button and zap the bugs, but I'm guessing Officer Anvernacht of the Time Police won't have that. But good luck to them while we sit by the stream and innocently rinse our canteens, thereby generating lots of white noise.
- The boss says, the Mexico accusation is real. She's got access to the Evil Masters time machine! We just have to get to it - and here it is! One flashbang grenade distracts Anvernacht long enough for her to jump for the portal and drag me in. (18 Mar)
We land in a stucco building with tangerine-colored archways, obviously without air conditioning. I guess this must be Mexico. Maybe now I'll learn the objective...
- The Mexican Revolution of 1910 was bad in general, but great for women - just because the Revolution needed warm bodies no matter the gender. The present-day U.S. may be headed for revolution too, what with the economic crash, the stalemate of the women's Panlucida Movement, and the Secret Masters manipulating things. Symmetria's thinking, let's bring some revolutionaries forward - especially female ones! ... I think maybe she's frustrated that her candidate didn't become U.S. President last year.
- I do have some moral reservations about revolution, but not about women's movements or overthrowing Secret Masters. And once you buy into a notion, you buy into the whole thing. (I'm fond of telling my Episcopalian friends that, when they object to their gay priests kissing their mates on the lips during the church service.) So I don't resign on the spot, and I try to offer the boss some advice.
- Now why aren't we going to 1920 to get the veteran revolutionaries? Because Symmetria's borrowing the time machine, and it's set for 1910. But she still has some veterans in mind...
- Russia had a revolution in 1905, establishing a constitutional monarchy. Its successful revolutionaries were counter-revolutioned and exiled in 1907. Mexico had a revolution in 1910. Coincidence? Symmetria thinks not. Of course, the historical evidence is loose. But that just leaves it open for a bit of plumbing with a time machine. So, let's swipe Russians from Mexico!
- As it happens, there's a Russian emigre married couple in Mexico: Maxim and Yelena Dukat. They have a theory about how to keep revolutionaries united: Give them a common enemy. That's ingenious, at least when applied to superhumans; I've seen it happen.
- So, we're hunting this couple. Symmetria trusts my hunting powers; I recently reactivated them to find earthquake victims in Nashville. (19 Mar)
- But aren't we dooming Mexico to ten years of civil strife if we take away the only people who knew how to stop the revolutionaries from fighting each other? Symmetria responds, the strife happened anyway, so these people either die or we rescue them.
- The time machine dumps us up north in Ciudad Juarez (already name-changed from El Paso del Norte, in honor of the latest national hero). We see some modern industrialists in line to come back!
- Symmetria explains, their plan has been to use 21st century tech to empty out the Mexican silver mines while 19th century capitalism is still in force. Hence a lot of sudden wealth in 2008, enough to turn the U.S. Presidential election.
- But they'd best hurry home. I take a picture, because I always wanted to see what the fatcats would do when the Revolution really is coming.
- Since the Revolution is coming, we'd best be fast. I have minimal time to embarass myself before we leave town, but I pull it off. I have the "caballero" look down pat, but apparently a Mexican gentleman does not just plop his "cerveza" down on an end table without a coaster, especially when the house mother "Tia Maria" is looking. Who'd'a thought? (20 Mar)
Shortly, we're southward-ho by railroad into the state of Chihuahua, home of Mexican rat-dogs - and Pancho Villa! The Russian revolutionaries are trying their "common enemy" plan on him first. The Russians' idea of "enemy" would be Britain or Germany, but the USA works best in their plan for Mexico.
- In Mexico, the target is el Presidente, Porfirio Diaz. They call his Gov the Porfiriato. It's pretty much sold the country to foreign business interests. Pancho Villa and many other Mexican factions are going to throw him out this year, and then spend ten years fighting among themselves.
- Ironically, Sr. Villa started out friendly to the U.S. - much like border-state revolutionaries before him, because it's convenient to have friends across the border. It seems something would happen to change his mind. No, not just one of those heavy-handed U.S. interventions (Veracruz 1916, if memory serves). When it comes to any sort of politician with an agenda, that's usually just an excuse.
- Right now, I'm in charge of hunting Pancho Villa! Let's hope I do better than General Pershing will.
- Actually, it's not all that difficult now, because Sr. Villa likes Norteamericanos now and isn't trying to hide. He has a mansion in Ciudad de Chihuahua, damn near within walking distance of the railroad station! (Though we take a carriage, since I have a lady with me.) His Russian advisors are with him, but they're ready to move on to the south to work with the other factions.
- I'm on Russian liason duty. Symmetria has me tell the Russians they're famous and the famous future filmmaker Quentin Tarentino wants to make a moving picture about them - with them as the stars. They can go to the future by time machine and be right back. Personally I think we got the last ride to 1910, but I'm guessing I'm not supposed to mention that. (22 Mar)
- Meanwhile, Pancho Villa is hitting on Symmetria, and (as far as my limited Spanish skills can figure) making rude jokes about revolutions from the southern parts of countries and the southern parts of bodies. Good luck to him. (23 Mar)
- ... Oooh, this just blew up! Or so I conclude when I see the slap. Suddenly a lot of informal combatants with rifles are focused on my boss. She's the most powerful woman I know, but she's not bulletproof.
I have a gut reflex in such situations. I yell, "Challenge!" The Russians recognize my intent and are kind enough to translate into Spanish for me, when the Mexicans ask.
- Now we just have to decide what the challenge is. The Russians suggest a chess match. Pancho Villa agrees - but it has to be battle chess, where we play the pieces and fight out every capture. The Mexican side has Sr. Villa as the king, but no queen. Our side has me as king and Symmetria as queen - but no other pieces beside pawns. The pawns all hold melee weapons for use by the major pieces they support.
- It's obvious the Mexicans don't know what comes next. I try to tell them, but I'm the only person here who doesn't know Spanish. You see, Symmetria is as strong as five men. Most women are, where I come from.
- So my boss wades through the opposition, and is thrashing Pancho Villa on the third move. (QxKBp, for chess afficionados.) She does it again on the next move, when there's more than a pawn at stake. (QxK.) He has three bodyguards to help him by then, but that doesn't change things. And that's it for the game.
Pancho Villa doesn't get his prey, but we get ours. Yelena Dukat is particularly interested in how strong women can be. So the Russians come back with us. We won our challenge fairly, so Pancho Villa gives us safe conduct back to Juarez City. But I bet he's resenting Norteamericanos right now - enough to last a decade.
- I set our Russians up in a tourist cabin in western Michigan, with instructions to lay low until the boss needs them. My boss lives in Oregon and I live in Tennessee, so nobody will be expecting Michigan. When the Time Police come hunting you, it pays to be somewhere else.
- Mr. and Mrs. Dukat start taking English lessons via computer. They love computers. They also love each other. They're awfully kinky; they play sex games like kittens, and they don't care if I'm looking. The lady comes on to me too. I guess revolution is good for the libido. Now, how do I get back to Tennessee from here? (24, 25 Mar)
- What happens to them next? I suspect the boss has that covered. At any rate, she's sending Gillette Harris out to work with them. He's a Michigan native, but he's from midstate so he should appreciate some time on the Lake Michigan shore. And he's got Hercules powers, so he should be able to deal with our Russians when they realize they've been had.
- But hey, maybe our guests will like it here. We've got a fine new President, but he came from the most corrupt state in the Union, and his campaign threw money around like it was snowballs. He's been amazingly ready to let old companies die, while embracing alternate tech - which works out really well for Secret Masters who have a time machine. If he really is backed by the exact same industrialists who looted Mexico 100 years ago, it surely looks like there's the same opportunity for revolution here as Mexico had. Oh, boy.