By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
2400 hours. Location: Outside of the Titan Missile Site 3, Complex 2B.
A small truck speeds through the darkness down a wide dirt road, hanging an abrupt right onto an overgrown jeep trail. Two hundred yards into the field, the midnight-blue pickup stops, its headlights are cut, and Commander Chainsaw -- recently self-promoted to Supreme Commander -- exits the cab. "All right, ladies, gear up."
The four men crouching in the bed of the truck rise silently and account for their gear -- hard hats, headlamps, GPS, first-aid kit: check, check, check, double-check -- while the Commander relays some last-minute instructions. Leave no man behind, watch your step on the rusted catwalks, and for God's sake, leave your pagers in the car.
Subcommander Stretch reports that a civilian has made visual contact with their vehicle and could alert the authorities. Commander Chainsaw pauses -- Hmm. Tough call. The whole mission could be compromised. -- then signals to move out. Six infiltrators follow their flashlight beams into the dark expanse of farmland. They slide down a deep gulch to its grassy bottom, approaching a large steel tube: the entrance to the abandoned Titan 1 missile base.
Commander Chainsaw has explored half a dozen such subterranean missile silos throughout the eastern plains, Wyoming and Nebraska during the past year, but this particular site is special. This is where it all started, a motley crew of IT guys and dot-commoners venturing out from behind computer screens in the name of adventure and urban exploration. They found the silo locations on the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site and then ran daytime recon missions to pinpoint exact locations of the entrances, most of which had been filled in. Armed with satellite-image maps, they focused their efforts on a few discolored blobs hiding among the eastern Colorado cornfields, wandering the plains until Commander Big E got lucky and found a gaping maw leading into the Titan 1.
Wistfully, Commander Chainsaw peers into that tunnel, knowing that here begins the descent into a half-mile-long maze of corridors and launch silos covered with graffiti, corroded metal and latent chemicals. Scrawled across the mouth of the tunnel in white Krylon is the inspiration, left by some ancestral vandal of yore, for the group's name: Subciety.
May her glory shine!
Steady yourself, Commander. Don't get emotional in front of the men.
Strapping asbestos-rated respirators across their faces, Commander Chainsaw and the crew slip through the grate to spend another Saturday night underground.
2200 hours. Location: Village Inn, Iliff and Chambers.
Commander Chainsaw is early. He is slouched in a far corner booth by himself, wearing a Subciety.org baseball cap and a long-sleeved gray flannel shirt over a T-shirt that proclaims: "I read your e-mail." The 33-year-old's open, smirking face makes him look like he's always savoring some private joke.
The waitress plops down a plate of onion rings and a patty melt and asks if he would like more iced tea.
It should be a pretty solid team tonight, even without some of Subciety's most elite members. Commander Quad is AWOL in California; Dyno's busy; and Commander Big E, as the officer in charge of paranoia, is worried about getting busted and losing the security clearance required by his new job.
Halfway through his patty melt, Commander Chainsaw begins formulating the pre-mission briefing. Last week's infiltration of Gilman (an abandoned zinc-mining town perched on a cliff near Vail) was successfully executed, with zero incidents of casualty. This, he likes to think, is a result of his strict insistence on safety. As a former emergency medical technician, the Commander demands that all participants take the proper precautions: no one under eighteen; no drugs or alcohol; no unnecessary risks.
"You could be fined, arrested, hurt, killed or all of the above," he warns in the Subciety mission statement. "Don't blame me if you find yourself unprepared."
The Commander also advocates securing permission before exploring a site -- though not necessarily from the owners. From the wife. "She's the real Supreme Commander, you know."
The first to arrive at the staging area is Agent Geiger, who marches toward the booth in heavy hiking boots and black cargo pants. A former dot-com entrepreneur from the Midwest, Geiger now works in the aviation industry. "I'm pretty much one step above being a secretary," he admits with a grin. He is relatively new to the group but already has been to this particular Titan 1 base on three occasions. "They popped my cherry the first time. Now I just do it for the exercise."
The Commander nods in agreement while brushing onion-ring crumbs off his gut.
Thirty minutes later, in walks Subcommander Stretch, Agent Borland and The Newbie. Apologies, apologies, the three roommates say, sliding into the Naugahyde booth. This being his first mission, The Newbie is relegated to the role of The Bitch. In observance of Section 3, Article 5 of the Subciety Accord, he is informed that The Bitch -- TB for short -- is required to perform such menial tasks as clearing brush, carrying extra gear, opening and closing gates, fetching beverages and the like.
"Whatever," he shrugs.