Playing Stories — Chapter 27: Enola Gay

Chapter 27: Enola Gay
from the 1980 album “Organisation” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
posted at 10:34, 10 June 2019

These games you play?
They’re going to end in more than tears some day

as presented to the United Nations Security Council, January 1958
originally prepared by General Borislav Mavrol and Professor Vilrigus Minskova for the Sylmanian Ministry of War, September 1952

Operation Indigo was conducted between July and November 1951 in the northwest regions of the Makartniv Area. The objective was to explore different prototypes of minerals and their use in bombs within warfare. It was believed that the minerals previously discovered in the Geflin mine, after chemical augmentation, could be used to temporarily render people in close proximity unconscious, which allowed for massive temporal and tactical advantages should conflict arise with neighbouring countries, or in any potential acquisitions of foreign territory our country may subsequently aspire to.

The Makartniv region was selected for its relative distance from a significant concentration of population. The only sizable settlement in the chosen area was the village of Tstarki. Owing to and inhabitants given seven days’ notice to depart. They were informed that they would be able to return in six weeks’ time, though due to the consequences of the sixth test we have been unable to set a timetable for concrete action. Around twenty households refused to leave without compensation, seven of which were still in the area during November last year. The VUFKA has located the survivors of that incident and their complete compliance and neutrality has been assured except for one case; attempts to locate this individual have been successful and VUFKA agents were able to eliminate him as a threat on 18 December.

(further on down the document)

The sixth test, conducted on 30 October, was an attempt to test whether mineral H, the most potent of the ten minerals extracted from Geflin, would be usable in a liquid state. This required dissolving the mineral and then placing it in the testing chamber, whereupon a small controlled explosion would take place. It was hoped that the ensuing reaction might fuse the elements together or lead to a new compound that our scientists had suggested would be plausible. Closer examination of the elements in play have subsequently revealed that a misprint led to projections being exaggerated tenfold; given subsequent events, the original intended use matters little.

The test was conducted in the afternoon, such that the advantages of daylight could be used. Because each entry point to the testing site at Makartniv has been carefully mapped out, the possibility of sabotage as claimed by Director Maiklov has been discarded. (The director has a history of industrial accidents: no less than six incidents at the site have been attributed to his lack of precaution.) Accounts suggest that the technicians on duty decided that the reactions of the day had not produced sufficient yield. The decision was therefore taken, without communication nor approval from Pobdilan, to double the amount of both explosive and mineral used in the fifth explosion of the day, scheduled for 1630 hours. Given that our main witness, technician 1942, maintains that the alarm was raised at around five in the afternoon, this is thought to be the catalyst for the events that followed.

It appears that shortly after the order to proceed was given, the explosion that followed irreparably damaged the walls of the test chamber. Although two technicians were left unconscious and remained in critical condition until December of the same year, there was no loss of life and the building itself, being built into the side of Mount Chukbari, suffered relatively little damage. The back wall of the test chamber, however, which directly faced into the mountain, collapsed and struck a hole in the floor, which in turn gave way to a previously unknown natural chamber located about six metres further down. This chamber (henceforth “Cave X”) also contained some hitherto unknown liquid material, and it is believed that the newly synthesized compounds, still hot following the explosion, proceeded to react with the pool’s substances, which then seeped into the water table and eventually flowed into the River Epstin, enabling its spread in the world.

Research about the new material is still within its preliminary stages. Eyewitness accounts from the two technicians have reported that the pool of material in Cave X glowed a faint blue upon synthesis; this colour is not visible in broad daylight and allows it to be invisible in water unless the surroundings are dark. It also contains high amounts of elements previously not known to man, and contacts with our research partners in the USSR in the past six months to clarify the present elements have proved unfruitful and our Russian counterparts have not been cooperative. It also does not have any noticeable taste, and ingestion is not known to have caused much harm to the general populace: fifty men were sent out to obtain faecal and urinal samples from people claiming to have ingested the water. After rigorous testing, it was determined that there was no negative change within these people except hysteria; VUFKA has likewise assured us of these people’s silence.

The most obvious effect of this leak, of course, are the rumoured superhuman abilities it has caused in the Sylmanian populace, and the claim that ingestion leads to superhuman abilities. This will be discussed in a later chapter.

(four chapters later)

It is unclear who the first person to gain the supposed powers was. The first reports on 1 November were from Tstarki, where a Kievri Cherdsz reported that he had discovered a man levitating in the post office. This was at the time dismissed as unreliable, for the comrade had a reputation as a heavy drunkard, and the villagers seem to be still in the practice of celebrating the Western festival known as “Halloween”. He was therefore dismissed from the offices of the test site. Throughout November, however, reports began to flow in from villages and towns on the River Epstin of people with unnatural powers. Many of them were accused of witchcraft, culminating in a riot in December in our capital city, Pobdilan, where numerous people rumoured to have superpowers were assaulted. The army has since put down this disturbance, and any mention of superpowers in our country has since been successfully controlled. The latest estimate is that 12% of the people are in possession of a superpower; the Ministry of Agriculture estimates that at current rates of reproduction in the world, this will stabilise at about one in three people by 1965.

When our ministry received news of such a pandemic of powers progressing through our country, we decided that it would be useful to conscript these people for military use. They were rounded up just in time for the invasion from Borguria — situated downstream on the contaminated river, they too were aware of the new superpowers by April and had built up an army of superpowered people. However, because many of those superpowers were not useful (amongst those listed were people who could talk to animals, those who could turn any colour they liked, and those who could visualize their thoughts), it was quickly established that neither side had the military advantage, and the peace treaty was signed in July this year. Similarly, an insurrection against our government in August was swiftly put down when it was discovered that the soldiers sent to pacify this disturbance not only possessed many of the same powers, but also had a weaponry advantage.

At the same time, the other powers such as the USSR and the United States have also begun hinting or boasting of a new army of people with unnatural powers. Our Korean contacts, Generals Chon Lehn-un and Ha Ri-son, have informed us that it appears that in many other countries around the world there has been a raised interest in research into superpowers; despite our secrecy about the events at Makartniv, we have also received many covert offers from friendly countries to share the supposed “recipe” for a “superhero serum” that supposedly enhances a person’s powers. We can only conclude that the world, gripped by ideas of heroism, has overreached itself in imagining that we could have any hand in nature’s affairs.

Thought I might mix up the format a little. Here’s some backstory for you, that’s what they usually do in Chapter 2s right?

I’ve absolutely no idea where we’re going from here, you might have to pick it up a little. Maybe a political thriller about an actual serum being made? I know you’d love that kind of thing.

BTW: I’m thinking of a holiday in July, you want to come along?


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