Monday, August 31, 2009

Pete's Win-A-Wartburg Entry

Deep underground, built 6 miles within the Earth, an underground fortress was built with the sole purpose of acting as the last bastion of the United States government in times of emergency. The fortress is used by a small staff, whose purpose, nonetheless, is to monitor the events of the world, and to act as the guardians against any evil to befall humanity. Their leader, a solitary war-grizzled general, is sitting in one of the semi-darkened rooms, a single ceiling source providing a harsh fluorescent lights from which he can read the latest reports of the dangers that befall mankind. Behind him lie a dozen television displays, a military officer watching each of the displays, reading, attempting to determine the next world emergency. Damning the regulations, the General chain-smokes while reading the reports given to him by the officers, every one a new and expected danger that may befall the world.

His focus this hour is on a particularly thick report across his desk, complete with satellite photos, pictures of sketchy-looking individuals, engineering schematics, and diagrams of chemical reactions. For once, the General seems genuinely worried - his hand shakes as he holds his battered zippo light to light his hundredth cigarette today. This report, the General says to himself, may be a problem.

On the far wall of the darkened room, a door slides open with an audible hiss of pneumatic compressors working overtime to move the honeycombed steel-carbon composite door, designed to survive a direct hit against a mortar shell. The bright light on the other side of the door silhouettes a small team of individuals walking through the door, walking purposefully forward towards the General. A few feet in from of the desk, the all stop and salute in unison. "At-ease," the General growls, and again simultaneously, the team all clasp their hands behind their backs.

"Team," the General again growls, as he puts out his unfiltered cigarette out on a well-used ceramic ashtray, "... a situation as arisen. Dr. Wolfgang Kirchner, at the University of Zurich, has isolated an isotope of Palladium, 0.1 grams of Palladium-175 to be exact, which makes it one of the rarest synthetically-created isotopes in the history of man. His intent was to create a new form of catalytic converter, but it also has the unique property to instantly create a liquid-crystal lattice from pure water that will allow it to hold an electrical current. Long story short, the Good Doctor has potentially found a way to create a free-energy power source from nothing more than simple water. The world's energy problems have been solved. However, our old nemesis, Professor Zeno has attempted to make a grab for the isotope. He had sent some of his henchmen to try to make a grab for the isotope... Kirchner ended up dead, but not before he was able to save the isotope from Zeno's clutches. Kirchner and his scientists were able to inject the Palladium-175 into a copper-nickel-zinc alloy containment system, cut to shape to resemble a standard United States nickel."

"And now, here's where the story gets strange," The General says, lighting his one-hundredth-and-first cigarette of the day.

The General continues: "The intent was that one of his junior scientists was to smuggle the nickel through customs to be safely delivered to the United States. That didn't happen. Upon entry into the United States through La Guardia, the scientist put his coins into one of the change containers to go through the X-Ray machine. But, the TSA officer accidentally knocked over the container, spilling the coins all over security. We don't know what happened then, but we traced the coin to soda machine, and from there it was lost. We know that the contents of the soda machine were eventually delivered though the banking system, and eventually were sent to the Wells Fargo bank branch in Southwest Los Angeles."

"For security reasons, we cannot break into the bank. We had sent a team to pose as a group of armed criminals to attempt a robbery, but they were liquidated by Zeno's men. Apparently, Zeno knows the location of the nickel as well as we do. Until that nickel moves, we cannot make a move."

"And team, that's where you come in."

"Our Intel group reports that our special nickel containing the Palladium-175 will be one of several thousand nickels that will be distributed in an automobile race, called the "24 Hours of LeMons." Your mission, gentlemen, is to enter this race, and recover that nickel at any cost. That is, within the rules of the race, of course."

One of the team members steps forward, "General, can we expect that our automobile will be fully equipped with the latest gadgets from the R&D branch, assuring our win?"

The General hesitates and slaps his fist on the desk. "Hell no! Those gadgets will cause too much of a disruption to the race! What, we're going to explode this race in a fury of gunfire? No, no, and again no! You are going to do this the old-fashioned way... cleanly. To do otherwise would be to play into Zeno's hand.... no, we have to do this per the rules of the race. Using your own funds."

Another team member steps forward, "Sir, we're on government paychecks. We only make money on our sweet government pension, but get paid peanuts now."

With that, the General shakes his head, "Bunch of losers... back in my day, we had to commandeer equipment ourselves, dammit! There is a contest to win a vehicle, a 1958 Wartburg 311. It's just the car to take you to the winner's circle, if you've got the GUTS," the General says through gritted teeth.

"Of course, if any of your team get caught or killed, I'm disavowing your asses. Good hunting."

With that, the team left the room, knowing full well of the weight on their shoulders. To retrieve the Palladium-175, they had to use their cunning, their courage, and their greasy hands to win that race, and win it cleanly.

The fate of the world rests in their hands... in my hands. And this is why , as a member of that team sent on this very important mission, I need that Wartburg.


  1. Does Barb know about your sideline job for the government?

    Do we have to go through a background check to be on the team now?