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Aberrant Salience: The Secret Plot of the Kiss Army

Atone Timko was the newest division chief in the Administration for Internal Security. The Administration was housed in the People's Revolutionary Headquarters. Which itself was an immense palace the deposed regime had built in the heart of the old capital.  After they shut the gates behind them, the revolutionaries proclaimed a new government for the people. The new stewards of the fortified citadel tore down the banners and flags embroidered with the symbol of the imperial family but kept in place the fortress walls patrolled by a legion of soldiers.

Atone's department was in a windowless basement wing of the compound. It was in this sunless labyrinth where Antone and his army of agents and analysts obsessively looked for evidence of any plots against the revolutionary Committee. The self-styled freedom fighters had set a dangerous precedent with their bloody coup. They hoped they could avoid the same fate as the imperial family or, for that matter, the former members of the Revolutionary Committee.

Atone's former boss Colonel Voloshin used to joke that "Do as we say not as we do," was the unofficial motto of the old vanguard. Of course, he was eventually exposed as a counter-revolutionary and summarily shot.

After that, Atone was promptly promoted and moved into Voloshin's former office. Sparsely furnished and rather drab, it was a modest space, but in this position, Atone was effectively the whispering voice inside the head of a cabal of rulers who were pathologically dishonest and profoundly paranoid. Atone knew he was only safe so long as the Committee had an outlet for its existential anxiety, and the most soothing method was murder.

But Atone received very little direct feedback from his Superiors. He never quite knew where he stood. In a job where being dismissed was synonymous with death, the ambiguous attitude of the higher-ups could be a cause for concern. Night after night, Atone awoke in a state of panic from nightmares of being "dismissed."

Atone was finishing yet another cigarette. He smothered the red cherry in the hefty mound of black and white ash spilling over the brim of the ashtray. When Atone spent enough time alone in his office, he'd be overcome by a sense of deja vu and become convinced the dreams were premonitions. He'd keep a pistole tightly gripped in his hand while he stared at the door, waiting breathlessly for a boot to smash it open from the other side. That sense of foreboding had become a constant companion over the last few weeks. Atone's nerves were as taut as piano wire, and it wasn't going to take much to them snap.

There was a sharp knock at his door, and Atone's heart came to an abrupt stop. He wasn't if that had been a trick of his imagination or a real sound, so Atone waited for confirmation. There was another knock. Atone reached for his pistol and cleared his throat.

"Come in."

The pudgy Luiteant Petrov opened the door, and Atone breathed a silent sigh of relief.

Petrov's face was beet red, and his brow was gleaming with sweat. "Colonel Timko," he huffed. "I have something that requires your urgent attention," Petrov said urgently as he held up a large folder with the words TOP SECRET printed in bold red letters written across it.

"Yes, what is it, Lieutenant?" Atone asked cooly.

Petrov carefully shut the door behind. "The police raided on a suspected radical student group at the city's university last night," Petrov said as he undid the clasp on the folder he was holding.

"We are still examining all the evidence, but it seems quite possible we've uncovered a plot to start an armed partisan movement," Petrov explained.

Atone remained aloof. "Let me see what you have."

Petrov opened the folder's flap and pulled out a vinyl record. With a picture of what looked like four demigods standing over the flaming ruins of a city.

Atone read the cover aloud, "Kiss, Destroyer. What is this?" he asked.

"They are an American musical group," explained Petrov.

Atone shrugged, "What's so urgent about this?" he asked with a hint of skepticism.

"Colonel, in our initial investigation, we've discovered there is an army dedicated to serving these four men."

"You mean there's a Kiss army?" Atone asked

"That's not all Colonel," Petrov said, picking up the record sleeve. "Look at the back. One of their songs is called God of Thunder. We think they are maybe trying to communicate with the remaining members of the Oden division of the SS."

"What's the significance of the face paint?" Atone asked.

"That' not entirely clear yet, Colonel," Petrov said. "So far, we know at least two of the members are, so we've started referencing what we know about Jewish mysticism. So far, there's nothing that matches. What we find perplexing though is why Jews would want to reach out to an SS division." Petrov said ponderously.

"Well, with capitalism, everything is just a means to an end," sighed Atone.

"Good work, Lieutenant. I want everyone taken in the raid interrogated right away."

"Yes, Colonel!" Petrov said with an enthusiastic click of his heels.

By the end of the investigation, no fewer than nineteen leaders of the clandestine Kiss army had been tried and executed. Atone was showered with accolades. Petrov, on the other hand, had made his superior nervous by showing so much initiative. Suspecting a plot against him, Atone had his subordinate investigated and imprisoned.

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