HW's Funeral

James Baker's final words ring out over the gathered crowd as H.W.'s casket is lowered into the ground. Everyone is shocked that only one of his sons attended the funeral, but shock gives way to resignation as the collection of elderly powerbrokers and representatives from world governments begins to dissipate. The band plays some mournful Sousa for a while, until even they have to pack up their tubas and head home. By the time the sun starts to set, only one figure remains at the grave.

A tear wells in George's eye. Dad's always been there, to give him a loan, to tell funny stories about Reagan, to chastise him for drunkenly revealing secrets of the Order. It's hard to imagine a life without him. He barely notices when a dagger buries itself in the gravestone with a TINK sound.

He turns, hand on the pommel of the collapsible sword in his jacket pocket. A figure in a flowing, hooded black cloak stands there, its face hidden in folds of darkness. George's secret service guys lie on either side, pumping blood into the grass as their newly severed heads roll down the hill. George sighs.

"You couldn't wait, could you?" he asks, drawing his sword. With a flick of his wrist, it extends to its full length. The amulet against his chest grows hot as it imbues him with strength gleaned from the souls of a million dead Iraqis and Afghans.

The figure says nothing, only draws its own blade from the billowing cloak. George gasps. "That's Dad's sword! How dare you!"

The figure tosses its head with the grace and vigor of a hair model, throwing the hood back to reveal Jeb's face. His father's sword pulses with energy. "It is time we end this."

George laughs, a mocking snicker that's haunted Jeb since they were boys. "What do you think has changed? What new tricks have you learned that make you think this time will somehow be different? Last time we faced each other, you lost. Pitifully."

Jeb smiles. "Last time I faced you, I was alone."

George turns just in time to see the mass of orange fur thrusting into his face, like a great meaty sock filled with hockey pucks. It shouldn't hurt...nothing has actually hurt him since the amulet became fully charged in 2005...but before he can react, he's on the ground, his face filled with the burning-sand feeling of tiny broken bones. He looks up to see that face, the one from his dreams, orange and wily with bloodshot eyes like gore-flecked salad plates.

"Gritty?" he cries in disbelief. "But that means...the prophecy! Jeb, what have you done?"

Jeb smiles. "I have come to end this farce. I have come to destroy the Order and all it represents." He reaches down and pulls the amulet from George's neck, breaking the unbreakable chain with inhuman ease. He raises his blade high, the metal drinking the bitter light of dusk. In one quick motion, he is the last remaining Bush of national prominence.

Gritty looks at him, pride welling in those colossal eyes. Without Jeb having to ask, he begins to clap, a muted sound of puck-stuffed felt that nevertheless fills Jeb with joy. "Come, my friend," he says, "we have work to do." Gritty nods, then recites the incantation to open a portal. As the swirling blue vortex opens before them, his voice rises in Jeb's mind. WHERE ARE WE GOING?

Jeb smiles as he approaches the portal. "Kissinger's."