The Religion War [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Scott Raymond Adams
eBook Category: Science Fiction
eBook Description: The Religion War is written by Scott Adams, better known as the creator of Dilbert. It's the much-anticipated sequel to his stunning non-Dilbert book God's Debris. Set in the not-too-distant future, the world is on the brink of a final war between Muslim and Christian forces. Only one person can stop the horror. He's ancient and harmless-looking but he's also the most aware person in existence. His job is to remove the delusions and superstitions that have brought civilization to the brink of destruction. The story is a fascinating work of fast-paced fiction but the questions raised in the book will stay with you and spark many late night conversations with friends.
eBook Publisher: Scott Adams, Inc./Scott Adams, Inc.
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2004
37 Reader Ratings:
"Sir, there's an old man in the lobby. He wants to talk to—" General Cruz, a reddish rhino of a man, stopped his lanky aide in midsentence. Cruz didn't like interruptions. He didn't like a lot of things: committees, fools, ambiguity, or unknowns. Cruz's faith in God, and his battlefield victories, imbued him with a sense of self-confidence and clarity that made him a natural leader. He knew that God was on his side, that his career was divinely inspired. He believed that when an idea came to him without a trail, it was God's way of talking. Those qualities, plus his tactical genius, propelled Cruz to Secretary of War, a position that had evolved to include de facto control over all the armies of NATO.
Cruz used his eyes the same way he used everything else: like weapons. Lieutenant Ben Waters suddenly found himself in the crosshairs. It wasn't the first time Waters had seen that look. That sort of look, from a man who killed people for a living, would reduce most people to stuttering. Waters viewed it as information, nothing more.
Cruz had hand-picked Waters from a thousand candidates, not because of his test scores or his combat record, both unremarkable. It certainly wasn't Waters' personality, charitably described as remote. There was something else: At the age of eight, Ben Waters used the family shotgun to kill both of his parents. It was a small town, and the neighbors agreed that Ben saved his younger brother from an unimaginable fate. No charges were filed. Since then, the area of Ben Waters' brain that makes a person feel alive was a catastrophe of molecules. He never suffered from shame, offense, fear, humiliation, or failure. But neither could he feel joy. Waters plugged the hole in his soul with military emotions—loyalty, duty, and mission.
Cruz picked Waters as his aide because power is the midwife of temptation, and the general's power was unequaled, at least in the non-Muslim territories. So too were his temptations. He had never crossed the line from duty to self-interest, at least not in any grotesque way, but the urge was a low-grade fever. Cruz ordered Waters to carry a sidearm at all times. Officially, it was to protect Cruz from assassination. Unofficially, it was Cruz's way of protecting the world from Cruz.
Waters understood the meaning behind Cruz's death stare: A general on the verge of war doesn't need surprise guests. It was obvious to both of them that the old man downstairs should be removed immediately. But today wasn't a day when the obvious counted for much. "Maybe if you talked to him for one minute. He's old and—"
"Tell security to drag his ass out of there."
"That's the thing," Waters explained. "The guards left. They just took off."
"What do you mean, 'left'?" Cruz said, as his square face reddened and his eyes turned space-black.
Most people would have backed off, but Waters didn't feel fear—not of Cruz, not of anyone or anything. All he had was a sense of what to do next, and in this case it meant an explanation. "The old man started talking to the guards and five minutes later they left. They didn't say why."
"Call the Marines off the roof. If the old fool won't leave, shoot him."
"Yes, sir," said Waters, in a way that revealed he knew it wasn't a workable plan.
Waters walked deliberately out of the room, dragging his past like a bag of graveyard dirt, leaving Cruz to continue arranging his war map on a huge oval table.
"The whole world are fools," muttered Cruz while using a ruler to drag a battle platform from the Indian Ocean.
Mapmakers were a frustrated group. The old notion of a "country" was meaningless. Al-Zee dominated the entire Islamic world. Governments existed under his rule, in a fashion, to keep the water running, to remove garbage, and to run indoctrination centers for children, but the real power was al-Zee. In the Christian-dominated part of the world, there was still a pretense that civilian governments ruled their respective countries. In reality, Cruz had the power to redraw boundaries and remove so-called leaders with a word. He didn't need military power to get his way, although it was available if it suited him. Cruz was widely believed to be the only person who could stop the terror of al-Zee. No one felt it was a good idea to distract him.
The atheists and the smaller religions were lying low, supporting the Christian power base and enjoying safety in numbers. The most enthusiastic supporters of the Christians were the Jews who escaped Israel after al-Zee's forces overran it in 2035.
Battle platforms were a recent addition to Cruz's arsenal. They were the size of cities, floating on the ocean, vastly more powerful than the aircraft carriers they replaced. The platforms could be assembled in days, ringed by destroyers, and monitored by an umbrella of satellites. Nothing could penetrate their perimeters, thanks to NATO's technical breakthrough of forced particle beams that could slice through incoming metal like a hot poker on a cobweb. The rest of the world, which was mostly al-Zee's territories and a sprinkling of nonaligned powers, used conventional missiles that were no match for the particle beam defense grid.
Cruz moved one of his four battle platforms from the Indian Ocean to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. It meant one less asset near the main battlefield, but it might make the civilian politicians more agreeable to his plans, knowing they'd be protected from incoming warheads. And once they got used to that protection, Cruz would have something to take away from them in case they forgot who was in charge.
This was a different sort of war from anything Cruz had fought before. He couldn't hope to cut off the snake's head to kill the body, as the media were fond of saying. The genius behind al-Zee's success was that he had weaponized a population of two billion people, most of them under the age of thirty, convincing them that death was better than life, so long as they died in service to al-Zee's interpretation of the afterlife.
There was a word that Cruz avoided using, but it was always in his mind. This wouldn't be a war for territory or power. It would be a war of extermination. Two billion souls would probably perish before it was over. Cruz prayed that the two billion were on the other side. He knew that if he gave himself up to God, God would guide him to victory.
The tall wooden doors of Cruz's war room opened to a stream of military advisers: admirals and generals. There were twenty-five of them, one from each of the dominant NATO countries. They had no decision-making power—Cruz had the monopoly on that. But they were useful in maintaining the illusion that NATO enjoyed some sort of democratic input. It was thin fiction, the sort that a wartime population was happy to accept. The Joint Chiefs of Staff for the United States had become overdressed advisers, symbolic and useless. The NATO generals were more loyal to Cruz than to their own civilian governments. In times of extreme danger, an extreme man like Cruz didn't need to grab power; it surrendered to him.
The admirals and generals were a concert of leather and pressed cotton; their medals and shoes played percussion as they took their positions around the black oval map table. Admiral Helms, a tall drawn skeleton of a man, had an uncharacteristically troubled expression. The others looked at him, waiting for him to say something.
"There's an old man in the lobby," Admiral Helms said, looking at Cruz. "He wants to talk to you."
Cruz paused a moment, trying to rein in his anger. He took a long breath and scanned the now-worried faces of the group. When he locked on to Helms' face, he exploded. "Why the hell do you think I care about some fool in the lobby? Have you lost your mind?!"
Copyright © 2004 by Scott Adams, Inc.