Time for part two of book 8. A quick reminder as to what DMZ is about. In a fictional noughties USA the country has split in half between the mid-western Free States and the rest of the country. A second civil war blew up between them and a demoralised U.S army whose troops were mainly deployed overseas soon found them pushed back to New York. They held the city until the accidental massacre on Day 204 of the war of a peace march attended by some of the half a million people left trapped in Manhattan caused them to withdraw and negociate a ceasefire between them based east of New York and the Free States lurking in New Jersey. People in the DMZ have been carrying on with their lives as chronicled by journalist Matty Roth, recently there was an election and a charismatic man called Parco Delgado and his Delgado Nation voted in a provisional governer. He immediately ordered out the various factions and used Matty to go and buy a nuclear weapon from the Ghosts of Central Park so he can shore up his position in the eyes of the world. A somewhat bitter Matty has alienated his former friends and has got Parco to agree let Matty be his sole media mouthpiece. Now this volume contains two parts, a three part story called "No Future" and a five-parter called "Hearts and Minds". It's my policy to split books when they have eight or more parts to them, I've already done "No Future", so this post covers the "Hearts and Minds" five part arc which further explores Mattys fall from the journalistic ideals he once represented.
|Matty delivers the news.|
Matty: "On behalf of the Delgado aministration, I would like to declare that city of Manhattan is now a nuclear armed state. There will be no tests or inspections. For those in the position to confirm, the serial number on the device is 25287. The people of this beleagured city voted and gave us independence, an identity, a nation. We hope the world realises we ae preaprared to deter and defend that at all costs. Thank you".
After leaving Matty mulls over what this will mean to the population of the DMZ, how do you move the people when they don't know how to move themselves? "Living 'post-racial' was one thing. Now lets see what post-nuclear can do."
As they go to where Parco is based Angel asks if there is any news on his girlfriend. Matty says anything is possible. They arrive a Madison Square Garden and a sharp suited Parco comes out to meet Matty asks him jovially where he's hidden the bomb. "Fuck you Matty" replies Parco and they both laugh.
|Living in style.|
Matty starts trying to discuss with Parco that he's rattled a lot of cages, and he will probably have to deal with "lunatic local warlords" challenging him. Also the U.S. might invade to "stabilise" the situation and face no condemnatio for it. Parco however is taking a phonecall. He finishes and tells Matty he can cut deals with any of the local tribes who seem willing, he gives him money for bribes. He then says he wants some media of their own and is sick of Liberty News everywhere.
Parco: "That's a nice security detail you assigned yourself there. Try to keep the bodycount down will you?"
We then get a montage of news from all over the world reporting on what Matty said about having a bomb. Then we see Matty and his goons cleaning their weapons. Matty takes Angel up to the roof, there a woman called Claire parachutes down. It's Angel's FSA girlfriend. Later that evening Matty and his crew bust into a theatre where some scientists are doing experiments and shockingly kill all of them for no reason given.
|Matty's squad in action.|
We then cut to Matty talking to Danny, one of the local Warlords he's been authorised to cut a deal with. Danny looks at him sullenly, Matty says "I'm no threat to you." He offers Danny ninety thousand dollars for a ceasefire. Danny tells one of his snipers to take aim at Matty. Matty says he thought Danny was pacifist, Danny says he personally is, but his men aren't, "I'm no idiot. And you know that. Which is why you're trying to buy me off". He asks how he thinks Parco can buy a bomb and expect everyone else to "chill the fuck out."
|Attempting to bribe a local warlord.|
Matty says OK, he doesn't want any drama or misunderstandings. Danny then asks to speak privately so they walk a little distance away. He says this whole bomb thing is not what they voted for after the uplifting campaign rhetoric. He tells Matty he was close to closing a private foreign aid deal, and Parco fucks it all up. For what?
Danny: "you say that like a fucking question. You're not even sure, are you? What the fuck happened to you Matty?"
Matty: "I'm getting sick of being asked that".
Danny tells him to stop acting like a tool. He could have been so much more, he could have been what the city needed. Bitterly Matty says "oh yeah? What's that. Some great journalist?" Danny says no, "the DMZ needs a Ghandi". It needs man of inspiration and peace. Matty was more than halfway there before he started toting an assault rifle. Matty tells him to "get real." Danny tells Matty as long as they stay out of his territory he has his ceasefire. Matty leaves saying he knows the man he's talking about, "... and I voted for him".
A U.S. airforce plane flies over the DMZ tracking radiation signatures. All they are picking up so far is normal background radiation and various sites of contamination by medical material, storage facilities, labs etc. The bomb would be "look like a supernova". The drones have picked up no unual construction and Trustwell haven't got back to them over projects that could be used to shield the weapon. As far as the can tell it's not on the Manhattan island, "so I suggest figuring out a way to look underneath it".
|Matty and Angel chat.|
Matty: "I know I'm not a native, but I feel like one. And I love this city enough to go block-by-block to do what he can to end the troubles".
Then rather cruelly, he points out that while Angel is here having his crisis of confidence, he's still technically AWOL... "who else will have you?" And the implicit threat is understood by Angel well enough.
We then cut to Zee and Martel travelling back to the part of the city now under Parco's control. Martel drives a car through the checkpoint while Zee hides in the boot. We then get introduced to a new, unnamed woman who is broadcasting a radio station called "Radio Free DMZ". She says she is here to provide the DMZ with a "friendly voice, a voice of their own, a news source that actually understands what it's like to live in this great city of ours". She is basically doing what Matty no longer does.
|Radio Free DMZ.|
Next chapter begins with Matty manning a sniper rifle, he is told to focus on two targets below and squeeze the trigger when he is ready. The inference that they are murdering random passer-bys is shocking Fortunately one of the two is Zee and this causes Matty to take his hands off the trigger for now.
We then hear from Radio Free DMZ, on the Governors Island a press conference is being organised, "look at the bright side - a day of them shoving soundbites at us is a day of them not dropping bombs". The conference is being held by Matty Roth's father, a high up on the board of Liberty News.
He gives a long speech, saying when Parco was elected they hoped he would be a partner for change but him acquiring a nuke aimed at the rest of America, "this cannot stand".
Mr. Roth: "The United States of America is still the high office of the land, and I have been instructed by its Commander-In-Chief to deliver this message: As long as Parco Delgado insists on holding this city, and the rest of the country hostage with his illegal weapon of mass destruction... we are committed to opposing him".
This could include the removal of Parco from office, he is ordered to surrender the nuke and himself within three days unconditionally. He will give up authority over Manhattan and "answer for his crimes". He is saddened at this turn of events and now will take questions.
|Mr. Roth publically disowns Matty.|
Mr. Roth: "I wish him luck, and hope he survives whatever is to come. But I must be clear. Matty Roth is no son of mine".
We then cut to Matty telling the woman from Radio Free DMZ over the phone that he won't comment on his father's statement. She says the people will expect a comment, he responds "fuck the people. Leave this one alone."
Later that night Matty, ruminates on all the Trustwell "quick response" teams left stranded in the DMZ and how they always have plenty of ammo. Locating them is easy, people are all to eager to give them up and no one, least of all him, give a shit about them. As he pulls on a balaclava and gets out a gun he thinks about his father saying he was on a "path to violence".
Matty: "If I can't make the old man proud, why not at least make him right".
He bursts into the room with several Trustwell employees in it firing madly. As images of the people in his life flash in his head, he beats and then shoots point blank the last one who is kneeling. As he leaves he wonders, "why is it so hard to feel anything at all?"
|Matty in a dark place right now.|
Matty tells him that his loyalties haven't changed, he offers Matty a lift back while he takes a walk. Matty asks him again, "hey, you gonna tell me where the bomb is?" and Parco responds "fuck you Matty!" and walks away laughing. Later Matty wakes up with a start to find Zee on the end of his bed saying "you killed us all Matty". Then he wakes up for real to this news report.
|Parco, king of the DMZ.|
Transporter helicopters have dropped U.S. troops into the DMZ as "search and retreival" teams under order presidentia order and backed by the U.N. The announce they are not an occupying force "our mission is to preserve your safety and safety of the country" They reaasure the inhabitants that they have nothing to fear from them and to refer to "designated block commanders" if they have questions or information to share, as Matty looks down through a window at them.
Later Angel and Matty are getting high and discussing the situation. Matty says it's the arrogance that gets him, troops on the ground shouldn't happen now it's why they elected Parco. Angel asks where he is, "dude likes to pull disappearing acts at the worst moments". Matty says maybe at the best times, "I dunno, the mother-fucker is mercurial". He says he hopes Parco is nowhere near his bomb.
Angel asks what'll his defence be when someone wants to put a bullet in his head, but Matty says no one would be that stupid, it'd be like fifty Day 204's, "no one is that dumb". Angel says that they are on lockdown then? Matty says there is no one outside keeping eyes on their operation, no embedded reporters, no Liberty News, no one to keep them in line, no one to police them up.
Angel: "... I thought that used to be your job."
Matty: "Yeah. Right. Bunch of fucking good it did in the end, with troops back on the street".
We then get some more news from Radio Free DMZ over scenes of soldiers hooding and shackling people, setting thing ablaze and pointing guns at women with babies.
The radio says that being a search and retreival mission but it's not stopped soldiers settling old scores, including executions, arrests and detentions. She advises, "Write down names, people. Take pictures if you can. Don't let these people vanish forever like before. And hey, one more thing? Anyone seen Parco Delgado...we got his back but we didn't vote for him to get slaughtered in the streets".
|Matty contemplates what's going on.|
|Off to to his other job.|
Squad Leader: "You got no one, Roth. No one's coming. Your legitimacy is shot to fuck and no one cares if you live or die".
A bludgeoned Matty stammers "But... I'm still Press...!" But gets his face stamped on. As he lies their one of them pulls off his press pass and says with contempt, "fuckin' disgrace". And the squad head off.
He lies in pool of blood and when Martel comes running up to check him he feebly asks to use her phone. He asks her if she saw six soldiers on foot and probably in a good fucking mood. She says maybe east, so over the phone Matty orders Angel to get as much firepower together, get moving east, "...and kill the fuck out of the first group of bad guys you find". He tells Martel to make herself scarce, she asks him if he needs a doctor but Matty says his giys will take him home. But up runs Zee and says shw just heard Matty on the phone just now, "what have you done?"
|A beaten and brusied Matty.|
Matty: "So fuck you Zee. I don't need this anymore. or you. Or Wilson. Or my parents. Or even Parco! The last few months have proven that. You have your new little project there, a new friend you can show around and explain how everything works, so go do that".
Then he gets a call back from Angel and when he hears what happened he moans "Oh... oh no.. No!" We then see Angel's group standing over the bodies of fourteen civilians, the first group of guys they found like Matty ordered. Angel tells him "I'm out of here. You won't see me again. Anyone asks, I'm dead. might as well be after this. Good luck, bro."
|Innocent blood on Matty's hands now.|
The discovery has been reported by Liberty News and Radio Free DMZ has a response to it. She says she might love Parco a little more for what he did. People contact her with opinions that range as far as agreeing it was a good idea to thinking Parco has fucked them over to wondering if this makes the current invasion illegal to wondering if there was ever a nuke and it's a ploy to force Parco out.
|Was it worth it Matty?|
Matty: "I called everyone I could think of. Parco. Wilson. My dad. My mum. Angel. Jamal. The FSA Commander. Everyone I could think of. No one would talk to me. Instant pariah. The last four years. A life's work. Undone."
He rips off his press lanyard and walks dreamily out into the streets. Liberty News report a breaking story. The U.S. government authorised the military to do whatever it takes to deal with the nuke and we see the plane fire a missile at the Indian Point nuclear powerstation. And the story ends with Matty observing a mushroom cloud to the north of the DMZ.