Panzerwitch: Book 1: Aima Kai Timh
This book is a work of fiction. All representations and depictions in this book are entirely fictional and do not represent the views or beliefs of Japan or any Japanese people. I am not a Nazi.
Prologue: Evil Rising
“It takes the force of many to build a nation, but the force of one to destroy it...”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“I believe that Hitler was the second coming of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess and purest entity ab imo in the Shinto Pantheon. What he did for this world cannot be overvalued. That is the purpose of my venture. I will not allow the plutocrats, Western imperialists, subhuman creatures and Communist sodomites to turn the country I love into a cultural pigsty any longer! Japanese people were not made to be cattle, they were made to do battle! You can kill the Japanese body, but you cannot kill our souls! The Winds of the Japanese Nation return, and we shall reign in glory!!!” If only I had believed in the power of those words to move a nation 7 years ago, when I was just a graduate student, studying abroad at Tokyo University for a semester. I could have done something, said something, anything, to stop this horror befalling the people of Japan and Asia in general, but I, like all the others, was deceived by a lie. A Big Lie. You'd think after the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s that the warnings would be heeded, the mass-mobilization of group-think and consolidation of state power would be recognized for what it was, but no...the Japanese media outlets, even before the mid-2030s, back when Japan was a stable yet frail democracy, did not broadcast any information that might damage Japan's pristine image on the world stage since WWII. As such, the rising tide of nationalist activity, a result of Japan's deepening economic moroseness in the late 2010s and 2020s, went largely unreported and was simply swept under the rug to fester like a cancerous tumor, but as we all know, ignoring cancer will not cure it. The disease is only going to get worse, but no one could have known just how bad it was about to get. In 2028, the groaning weight of Japan's debt bubble finally broke the system. Japanese stocks plummeted more than 75%. The yen fell more than 80% against the dollar in just a single day's trading. Economic Armageddon had arrived for Japan, once hailed as an “Asian Tiger” economy in the 1970s and 1980s boom years, and seen as a potential successor to the United States as an economic superpower in the early 1990s...exactly when the problems began. The low-wage labor pool ran dry, and Japan languished in economic contagion for 40 long, slow, agonizing years. Various Prime Ministers and Diets attempted to breathe life into the Japanese economy, with a spiraling debt problem getting worse by the day and a rapidly aging population, none of the fixes, even Shinzo Abe's economic policies of devaluation were able to jump-start the economy. The only positive growth, if one could call it that, came after the devastating Fukushima earthquake, when post-disaster building boom gave global investors a faint glimmer of hope. It was not to last. By 2030, the situation in Japan was growing desperate. The Japanese nation verged on total collapse, people had seen their life savings vanish overnight, and formerly wealthy business owners now begged for food on the Tokyo streets, now crowded with homeless. The first winter after the collapse claimed more than 150,000 lives living on the streets. Japan had become a third-world country. In 2031, however, the year I visited Japan as a graduate student on a University liaison to Tokyo, change was brewing in Japan, very disturbing change. On April 4, 2031, I saw history unfolding before my very eyes. He was a handsome, slender young man with brown hair and brown eyes, much like his peers, and looked just like any other Tokyo University law student, I had even seen this guy in a few classrooms, he looked like a typical prep-school product, raised by his family to be the best at everything he did, and he was giving a rallying speech to the student body, elaborating on a plan to "save Japan from decadence." He stood and spoke with such fluid, cool-headed candor, yet the speech was loud, assertive and occasionally animated, as the young man would start to gesture wildly with his hands and point aggressively with his index finger whenever he made a point. He was reciting passages from his book that he wrote in his college dorm room, the "Shin'en'na Shinjitsu," and calling for a "revolt, to take back what is ours." Behind him was a poster that read "K.S.S." in stylized, black, Gothic lettering, and a sign that read in Japanese: "FREE MEN AND WOMEN OF JAPAN! YOUR NATION NEEDS YOU!" However, as well as he spoke, most of his audience's gaze, and mine, for that matter, were on his female companion, for her truly magnificent outfit. She looked more like an alien or a cartoon character than a human being, Her dress was the most elaborate thing I have ever seen, it was black and white with a dazzling checkerboard pattern on it with black flame patterns on the dress as well, and studded in blue diamonds, arranged in the shape of cherry blossoms and lilies, complete with a black and white "half-moon" colored cloak over her dress, with a hood over her long blonde hair adorned with runes, Japanese Shinto runes and beautiful bamboo leaf patterns, with animals such as monkeys, squirrels and birds clinging to the bamboo leaves. There were two black dragons on each of her sleeves as well. Her hair was styled in a very odd, almost comical way, and her eyes were an unnatural greenish hue, as if they had been artificially colored, they were a deep, emerald green, she also had a high ruff-collar behind her head that tapered into a point behind her hood, and a massive, teardrop-shaped necklace carved out of a ruby, set in an obsidian base and on a huge string of pearls around her neck. She had black lace dress gloves studded with diamonds, and matching stockings to go along with bizarre white shoes that would look more at home on an elf or some mythological creature than a human, shoes that were only visible when she took a step forward from under her dress, and she stood nearly six and a half feet tall. She definitely wasn't Japanese, she looked almost supernatural, like something far beyond human comprehension, and the young man was using her to that end. What a woman like that was doing in Japan, I had no idea, never mind why she was with this guy who bore an eerie resemblance to a young Hitler. This was the last day of my semester in Japan, and I never gave this guy much thought afterward...shame on me for being so blind. About three months later, this young man and his magnificent female companion gave their first public speech at a bathhouse resort in Japan's tropical south, claiming that the “Japanese had suffered long enough, and it is time to revolt, to destroy the traitors, corrupt politicians and Westernization that have suppressed the Japanese people for so long. It is time we fight back, with body and mind in total harmony, one nation, united and invincible!” These were his exact words. Using his book and his speeches as his weapon, the young man quickly built a power base among the disgruntled Japanese masses, united in opposing Western culture, Communism and the “impure races” of Asia, which included Chinese, Korean, Indian and Vietnamese, among other groups. He claimed to be fighting against a “Western Imperium,” who he claimed were using the Chinese as muscle against the Japanese Race, and used frightening rhetoric, his book spoke of “Japanese atomic weapons annihilating Western cities, such as New York, Paris and Rome,” and “death to millions of traitors and unclean peoples all over Asia.” His goal? A united, pan-Asian Empire ruled by Japan, and a complete restructuring of the global political order, placing Japan at “the center of the world system.” Rumors spread throughout Japan that the fantastic woman who occasionally appeared at the young man's side was in fact Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess of Shinto lore and the protector of all things light and good in Japan. This was most likely party propaganda, but it was of no consequence. The Japanese people were now hopelessly enamored by their young hero and his ethereal female companion, and by that point, the writing was on the wall. The rapidly-failing democracy tried to sweep the Japanese nationalists under the rug as usual, but this time, the problem was too big to hide and impossible to ignore. The election year of 2032 saw the K.S.S. Party under the heroic young leader, Kizu Hamada, and his mysterious female companion Oumiya Hikari, if that was her real name, win 45% of the seats in Tokyo, and saw the K.S.S. Police Forces replace the N.P.A. as the Japanese federal police agency. Their black uniforms became a ubiquitous presence on the streets of Tokyo, and immediately, the quality of life began to improve. Crime rates dropped down to pre-crash levels, and K.S.S. Party trucks, loaded down with rice, fresh fruit and bread, went to the various homeless shelters and distributed food, supplies and clean water “for all good, hardworking Japanese citizens.” What was noticeably absent, however, was any assistance to the thousands of foreigners living in Japan, on the contrary, they were vilified and shamed as the reason behind Japan's misery. Chinese and Koreans were treated like vermin, forced to wear a huge, orange badge at all times to indicate that they were Chinese or Korean. Westerners were treated viciously as well, many students studying at Japanese universities from Europe or North America were forcefully driven from their dormitories by armed K.S.S. Police forces, and told to leave the country immediately, without having any time to even gather their belongings. The U.S. Navy, based in Yokosuka, started clandestine evacuations of U.S. personnel and U.S. Civilians in Japan, as the political climate continued to devolve. Still, however, the K.S.S. Party did not have total control over Japan. The legitimate government was still in the hands of Social Democrat Abe Matomo, but, in actuality, he held no real power. Most of his Cabinet held loyalties to the K.S.S., as did most of the Diet. Japan had become a banana republic, with a democracy that wielded no real power, controlled as a puppet by a rising tide of Fascism. Soon, the United States was in full retreat from Japan. The Okinawa Marine Base was abandoned after a massive riot destroyed most of the American barracks, and boatloads of Koreans, Chinese and other foreign nationals fought to be evacuated from Japan, but the tide of refugees was so great that the U.S. Carriers couldn't hope to evacuate them all. The devil had come to collect his due. In a reversal no one ever thought possible, Japan was on a collision course with the rest of Asia and the world. Western businesses were destroyed in organized pogroms, huge corporate offices of companies like Wal-Mart and McDonalds were torched by vengeance-crazed Japanese nationalists, aided by armed K.S.S. Police Forces. Tokyo was burning. It appeared to the world that Japan had finally gone to complete anarchy, yet the U.S and China, the two powers that could have stopped Kizu's rise to power right then and there, simply stood pat. China and the United States, rather than work together and eliminate the threat of Fascism by backing Abe Matomo's government, chose to withdraw all military presence from Japan and relocate the the Philippines, as part of the U.S. Navy reforms, meant to cut excess costs from the budget and make the U.S. Navy a “21st-century guardian of peace,” something that it had done quite well as the dominant sea power on Earth, funded by the most advanced economy in the world. The devolution of Japan's political climate only accelerated the Navy's plans to move deployments from Japan to the Philippines and Australia, this was by no means a retreat. U.S. Carriers were still monitoring the situation in Japan, but the U.S was unwilling to publicly support either side of the Japanese issue, either the Social Democrats or the Nationalists, for fear of angering China. To the two superpowers, this was still only a political issue, though the United States was sending State Department officials to Japan to stop the Nationalists from attacking American companies attempting to do business in Japan. That's where I came in. My first assignment as a member of the U.S. State Department liaison team deployed to Tokyo in the summer of 2033 was to negotiate with a group of pro-Democratic activists, to allow for an economic zone of protection around American companies, to be signed via executive order from Prime Minister Matomo. The Nationalists were not to know a thing about this, for any knowledge of the legislation would trigger an immediate block by the K.S.S.-controlled Parliament. This is the personal story of my survival in a modern Orwellian nightmare, and how I had a hand in restoring peace and democracy to Asia. My name is Andrew Williams, and this is my story of survival.
- A Delicate Balance
“Welcome to Tokyo, guys, be careful, you take a wrong turn in this city, it'll be the last thing you ever do, depending on what neighborhood you end up in.” The U.S. Army Ranger sergeant said to Andrew Williams and his crew as they rode in the Humvee convoy through the crowded, lawless streets of the Shinjuku district. “Hey, Robert, remember when we were kids, and Japan was all Pokemon and Hello Kitty? I kind of liked them better when they weren't trying to kill me. Hey, Sarge, which Japs are we going to see?” “The ones that won't shoot you for not speaking Japanese, but really, I have no fucking clue. Our only job is to make sure you guys don't get killed in here. This place is like a fucking rabbit warren. Natties could be hiding anywhere. That's why I said, make sure you know where you're going, and never stop and ask for directions. This ain't Harajuku-Kawaii land anymore.” “Sarge, we're coming up on some Nationalist-controlled neighborhoods, might want to get on the turret.” “Hear that guys, there might be some shooting up ahead, this place is like the Wild West on some days. You got the K.S.S. Nationalists and various thug groups on one side, shooting at the Socialists and pro-democratic groups on the other. You're here to prevent a civil war, we're here to fight one if it starts. See, it works out.” the sergeant explained as one of the Army Rangers jumped onto the .50 cal. machine gun turret mounted atop the next-gen, nanotube-electric Humvee. The convoy of 7 such vehicles was being shadowed by a Bell CH-70 “Pavehawk,” a 21st-century, state of the art successor to the famous Black Hawk, and the 'Hawk was reporting on crowd movements through the city, giving any heads-up about Nationalist movement through the jumbled and rubble-strewn Tokyo streets. There were U.A.V. Sweeps over the whole city as well, painting a perfect picture of a divided Tokyo. The Ginza district was under the control of the NATO military alliance and Social Democrats, and considered the safest location in the city, headquartered in the Diet building and Tokyo City Hall. The Harbor district was under Nationalist control, but they had various pockets throughout the battleground Shinjuku district, where most of the militia fighting took place. Shinjuku stood between the Nationalists and the NATO bloc, and as long as NATO could keep the Nationalists in the Harbor, the Ginza was safe. More than 25 NATO countries and South Korea, Taiwan and India had committed forces to this large-scale peacekeeping operation, also backed by the U.N. to restore law and order to Japan, and avert a possible civil war scenario. Noticeably absent from this equation was China, who had refused to commit any forces to the peacekeeping cause, because of long-standing grievances against the Japanese over atrocities committed in WWII. Andrew and Robert looked around at the shell of a once-proud city. It was completely gutted. Looting and vandalism had been brought under control by the K.S.S. Police Forces, but the damage was already done. There was not a single part of Tokyo that was not severely damaged by some form of looting, vandalism or graffiti. Paper, garbage and junk littered the streets of neighborhoods controlled by Socialists or Social Democrats, but the Nationalist-controlled neighborhoods were a picture of order and stability, clean, patrolled and roadblocked by K.S.S. Police Forces, and forbidden to anyone not of “pure, clean, Japanese National blood.” They were “safe zones” for Nationalist loyalty in Tokyo, which had become as lawless as Mogadishu or Afghanistan once was. The Humvee convoy passed by a roadblocked entrance to a Nationalist neighborhood, barricaded by a jerry-rigged heap of wrecked cars and highway dividers, with two black-uniformed K.S.S. Police Forces standing guard, armed with outdated weaponry from N.P.A storehouses. As the Humvees drove past, the Nationalist guards raised their rifles as if to fire, but the Humvee gunner quickly pointed the .50 caliber machine gun right back as a bluff, making Andrew and Robert nervous. “Sarge, why does he keep doing that?” “These Natties like to fake us out, they think that if they trick us into shooting at them, it gives them something to spin and use against us as propaganda. We simply respond by pointing our weapons right back at them to send a message: We're NATO, and we've got much bigger guns than you, buddy. See how they always drop their weapons? Fucking pussies...” “Hey Sarge, you can't blame them, they've got small balls, Japanese ain't very impressive down there, I have to say...” “Oh, how the hell would you know, Roycewitz?” “Sarge, he was watching hentai movies the whole way over here. It's Japanese animated porn.” “Bullshit, that is classified information, what happens in the barracks stays there, asshole!” “Man, I don't know what the fuck you were watching last night, from my position in the top bunk, it looked like three women fucking on top of a space alien.” “For your information, he's not an alien, he's a red-haired pagan god that likes to have young women lying on top of him for spiritual catharsis, it's called “Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio.” “It's called fucking weird, is what it's called, weirdo. Guys, this is our platoon's resident asshat, Corporal Jack Roycewitz, who is 28 years old and still watches cartoons, especially cartoon characters having sex. However, we keep him around, because no one gets more Natties with the 50 than Asshat Jack here.” Corporal Roycewitz gave the thumbs up to Andrew and Robert from the Humvee's vicious 50-cal machine gun turret up top. The Humvees passed by another Nationalist-controlled neighborhood, where Asshat Jack pointed the turret at the Nationalist guards again, forcing them to immediately lower their weapons. Just then, the Pavehawk pilots chimed in over the radio. “Convoy, be advised, multiple flash mobs converging on your position just 300 yards ahead, be prepared for hard contact. UAV sweeps confirm two Nationalist mobs and three Communist ones. There's going to be a shootout any second now.” “Thank you Big Bird.” Sarge said into the radio to “Big Bird,” the Pavehawk helicopter shadowing the convoy. The convoy drove past a shantytown filled with unarmed civilians running for cover as the Communist and Nationalist militia poured into the streets, clearing a path through the civilians by firing their weapons in the air. “Look alive guys, look alive!! HELLO!!” A huge eruption of fire blossomed right next to the lead Humvee, causing the entire convoy to swerve and avoid it, taking out a small fruit stand, scattering watermelons all over the place. “Molotov cocktail, do not fire, I repeat, DO NOT FIRE! That was not aimed at us! Rules of Engagement!” Sarge ordered to his convoy as they continued weaving through crowds of people. Robert looked green, though Andrew fought off motion sickness by looking straight ahead at all times. “Relax Rob, we're almost there.” Andrew said. “I should not have eaten before getting into this Humvee...” Just then, a series of loud, metallic pings ricocheted off the Humvee's carbon-nanotube armor. “What the hell was that?” “Bullets, sounded like MP5 rounds, we aren't going to shoot back at them, though, they'd need something a LOT heavier than that to get through our armor. Just then, a pickup truck with a .50 caliber machine gun turret jerry-rigged onto the truck bed zoomed around the nearby street corner and opened fire on a crowd of unarmed civilians, killing several Japanese women and children in pools of their own blood. The truck then proceeded to block the only exit from the market square and continued to fire on the screaming civilians, the three Nationalist thugs were in violation of more than 6 U.N. protocols. “Sir, permission to fire on that Nattie gun truck?” Asshat Jack yelled over the screaming and the roar of the Nationalist .50 caliber gun. Sarge thought for a second, as if weighing all the possible consequences of a NATO convoy opening fire on a Nationalist militia, which, in the 6 months since NATO arrived in Japan, had not happened yet. “Permission granted. Weapons free, boys, protect those civilians! We're in business!” Asshat Jack swung his huge machine gun turret around and pointed it directly at the Nationalist gun truck, and let loose with a thundering barrage of magnetically-charged .50 caliber rounds, fired at a rate of 150 rounds per second. The unarmored pickup truck was instantly cut to ribbons, and exploded in a huge fireball. Immediately afterward, a loud siren blared through the city streets. “Jesus Christ, we've stirred up the hornet's nest! That siren's to alert the Nationalists that we're involved and we're shooting!!” “Let it be fucking known that NATO has officially taken a side in this conflict. Foot on the gas, drive now! Asshat Jack, you keep shooting!” Soon, bullets were hitting the side of the Humvee at a frightening clip, with a storm of metallic pings punctuated by the thunder of the machine gun firing at Nationalist militia. Andrew looked to his left just in time to see Asshat Jack gun down an entire platoon of K.S.S. Police Forces, the uniformed K.S.S. Party soldiers, clad in their distinctive black and orange uniforms with armor over their critical areas. “Oh God...Kizu and his Party are not going to be happy about this...it's one thing to shoot the militia, but he's killing cops.” “All Nationalists in this city are now to be considered hostile, whether they are police or militia.” Sarge explained to Andrew as he watched occasionally out the bullet-resistant window, careful to not get his face shot off by a high-caliber round. “Well, from a State Department diplomat's point of view, shooting the legitimate police force en masse in a city already becoming increasingly hostile to Western involvement is counterproductive to our mission. As brutal and violent as the K.S.S. Police Forces are, they are the legally-authorized police force in Japan and are recognized as such by the U.N. Security Council. If Secretary General Lars Wiliamsen hears that you've been killing K.S.S. Police Forces, he's going to declare NATO's mission in Japan a military occupation, and therefore illegal under the current U.N. Resolution, meaning everything you're working hard to do will be for nothing! Now that NATO, in the eyes of the K.S.S., has taken a side, any diplomacy with the Nationalists is going to be impossible, and when Kizu wins the elections at the end of this term, he's going to put NATO through the fucking meat grinder!” “He's not going to win the election. The Japanese people value their freedom too much to ever allow a Fascist leader again. If he does win, NATO will remove him from power. What I think is more likely is a violent uprising against the legitimate Japanese government, a coup de etat, and a full-scale invasion by NATO to restore law and order. There will never be a Nazi Japan. The world will not allow it. I'd be far more concerned with Russia starting a war, they just annexed all of Ukraine last year, after taking the Eastern half in 2014. They might even be giving weapons to the Nationalists.” Robert replied to Andrew's concern, his motion sickness not eased by the Humvee's constant gyrations. The gunfire was beginning to cease as the convoy moved out of the Nationalist-controlled neighborhood, into an area of relative quiet. Robert immediately began to feel better as the Humvees stopped weaving, but the gunners stayed on the turrets, just in case of an ambush. The sirens continued to wail throughout the city, alerting the Nationalists of the NATO presence. A warm wind blew through the city streets, blowing scraps of paper and garbage around the Humvee convoy. It was quiet...disturbingly quiet. Sarge slowed the lead Humvee down, curious as to why the eerie silence was suddenly permeating the city. “They've stopped shooting...” Just then, a platoon of K.S.S. Police Forces goose-stepped directly in front of the Humvee convoy. “DO NOT FIRE!!” Sarge yelled to Asshat as he swung his machine gun to face the targets. They were unarmed, guns shouldered behind them, and marching in a very slow, eerie cadence. A man in a black robe and hood led them in a procession. Then, an enormous bell chimed slowly through the city streets, punctuating the deathly quiet with an ominous “bong...bong...bong...” It was exactly 12:00 P.M. The K.S.S. Police Forces then began a morose, guttural, exceedingly ominous-sounding chant as they paraded slowly towards what looked like a shrine in the middle of Tokyo. “What the fuck are those Natties doing? Singing?” “It looks like some kind of a sermon...” Asshat said, watching intently through the .50 cal's iron sights. “I think that's exactly what it is, Jack, but I don't recognize a word they're saying...I took 4 years of Japanese in college and studied here 7 years ago, before the collapse...this is unlike any sermon I've ever heard, it's not Shinto, Buddhist, Taoist or Hindu, I don't even think some of that is in Japanese...” “Then what the fuck are they saying?” “I'm trying to listen...There! He said “Kuro Kami-Sama.” Asshat Jack turned and looked at Andrew curiously from his machine gun turret. “Kuro Kami-Sama? That's a dark pagan god, mentioned several times in noteworthy dark anime series, introduced in the late 2000s and 2010s.” “Well, that would explain this random act of exceeding creepiness, wouldn't it? They're worshiping Satan. Got it, Let's shoot 'em.” Sarge gave the order, and Asshat opened fire on the ominous marching column, gunning all 15 Nationalists down. However, as the one man in the black robe fell, .50 cal bullets shredding his body like paper, a black, hazy fog poured out from his wounds, along with rivers of blood. The fog appeared to take a humanoid form with giant black wings, and proceeded to dissipate into thin air. “What the hell was that?” “Unknown...keep driving.” Andrew said, as Sarge drove the convoy forward towards the objective once more. “Well, that was certainly an eerie incident, to say the least.” “So, it appears that some of these Natties are Satanists. I'm Irish-Catholic, born and raised, and that makes me pretty pissed.” “What they're worshiping isn't exactly Satan, Sarge, Kuro-Kama-Shi is more like the Antichrist. He's a dark Messiah that feeds off the energy of death, and will eventually end the world, according to Japanese legend.” “Oh, like that's any better. Not The Exorcist but The Omen. Whatever. Just keep shooting them if we see them.” “Big Bird” chimed in on the radio again with another update. “Convoy, be advised, you're coming up on the building in 300 yards, there, Williams and O' Rourke will meet with one Daisuke Tanaka, a Socialist with connections to the Social Democrats in the Diet. He's going to relay the details of the deal directly to Prime Minister Matomo, who's going to sign off on it via executive order, authorizing the presence of NATO forces in Japan to protect Western companies from Nationalist violence. In exchange, NATO will ensure that Hamada and the K.S.S. Party do not win control of Japan in the next election. NATO has essentially partnered with the Social Democrats to block Nationalist forces and stop a civil war before it begins. Great work, as always. Rangers lead the way!” “Always, Big Bird.” The Pavehawk hovered over the old office building on a street corner in the Shinjuku district, kicking up dust and garbage with its rotor wash. The convoy pulled up to the front of the building, to a small group of Japanese men, one of which was holding a Communist hammer and sickle flag in his hand. Andrew and Robert cautiously stepped out of the Humvee and greeted the four Japanese men with a traditional bow. “Welcome to our city, Mr. Williams and O'Rourke. We apologize for its sorry state.” “We had to fight our way through a whole mob of Nationalists to get here, were it not for the Army Rangers in this convoy, we would have been massacred. My deepest condolences go out to the people of Japan who are currently living like this.” Suddenly, gunfire erupted from just down the street, as the sounds of screaming voices drew closer. “We'd best go inside. The Nationalists are deeply unhappy with your presence here. I am Daisuke Hamada, this is our Socialist Party office for the Shinjuku District, we have our own militia standing ready to fight if need be, and your convoy will provide firing support if the Nationalists come any closer, but they know better than to come into our territory.” The Army Ranger convoy waited outside as the Pavehawk circled overhead, with its twin machine guns and rocket pods armed and ready. Andrew and Robert quickly entered the run-down building being used as party offices