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The story of The Virus

IN an alternate Earth, the Roman Empire soldiers on as the modern day megapower. The rest of the world's nations have united as The Vir...

Friday, June 26, 2020

Optimus Crime

"FIGHT fire with fire", as they say.

Today the Roman Empire announced the creation of the "Optimus" program, a crime fighting initiative that is meant to "provide a face to policing". The core of the program is to train a select group of "elite individuals" to serve as the "spokesperson" for the Watch Patrol in each jurisdiction of the Empire, as well as make public appearances on behalf of the Watch.

When making these public appearances, the Optima will wear individual costumes that will "reflect their personality and the warrior spirit". Caesar Erasmus, holding a press conference outside of the Domus Flavia, didn't elaborate on who will design these costumes, but he did make a point to mention that the wearer will get to provide input on the eventual design, and that "no one will be forced to wear something they don't want to wear."

OK. We'll see about that.

If it sounds like the Romans are creating their own class of "superheroes", then you would be right. That they would come up with this idea shouldn't be much of a surprise- Rome loves to play up their wide array of ancient heroes, with tales that grow more mythological by the day. The Romans are also already heavy investors in the worldwide Spitzenkreiger program, the school of elite mercenary crime fighters whose operatives work mainly in poorer areas of the globe in lieu of actual police departments. Today's announcement, Erasmus insisted, would not end Roman participation in the program but rather create a uniquely "Roman" subdivision of it- one more suited to Rome's specific needs.

While that in itself is striking, most striking of the Optima program is that Rome will allow those with criminal records to apply to participate in it. This caused quite the furour in the press row, as normally anyone with a criminal record is barred from joining a police force, including in Rome. Again, Erasmus did not elaborate on the details, only going as far as stating that criminals whose actions could be deemed "honourable" or "do not indicate they are a danger to society" would be accepted.

Well...isn't that a wrinkle.

There's a lot to dissect here and I have to wonder if it will really work. You have to applaud the Romans for trying to find a viable solution in a world where the very idea of policing is under attack, and rightly so considering we've had far too many cases of police brutality, especially against marginalized peoples. Perhaps "humanizing" the police and moving away from the image of the "faceless force" is a good idea, since the public will more likely put their trust in something they can put a "face" to, and not just a logo.

...and perhaps too, hiring criminals to hunt other criminals will work as well because if anyone knows how crime works and how to stop it, it would be a former criminal. Besides, those on the outside of society are more likely to trust one of their own, plus former criminals would have useful ties to their former lives. It could be a win here.

However, you'd have to question the loyalty of these former criminals, not to mention how much they're truly "past" their prior behaviour. You can't expect someone who's already committed a murder to not do it again, can you?

Then there's the "hero" side of things in general. Will these heroes do actual policing or just stick to public appearances? Erasmus contends they'll actually be involved in investigations and other police work, but you wonder if that will truly be the case. What about when the inevitable happens and the police screw up an investigation or, worse, get involved in another case of brutality or some other kind of scandal? Will the Optima give you honest answers or will they just be robots who engage in "PR-speak"?

Finally, there's the ultimate issue- given all the systemic problems within law enforcement and its various institutions, who have been derided for years and years for their bullying and their gloryhound ways...how does the Optima program solve any of that? Bad policing is still bad policing...putting a "face" to it won't change that. This seems very much like polishing a turd, a "nonsolution" dressed up as a solution designed to deflect from the real issue.

We'll see how it goes. The pilot project starts- where else?- in North America. Good luck with that.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Outbreak


June 6, 2020,
11:32 local time,
Sochi Police Department, Northern Precinct,
Sochi, Circassia

As soon as Detective Valentina Marina heard the buzzer she grinned and giggled like an overexcited schoolgirl. She hurriedly ran to the door, telling the visitor to let himself in, fixing her hair as he made his way in.

Her visitor, Donald Diego, wasted no time, immediately grabbing her by the waist and planting a kiss on her lips, bending her over backwards as the kiss became deeper and more passionate.

My hero,” said Marina, in awe as she lay in Diego's arms. “I knew you'd come to save me.”
As soon as I heard I knew I had to come,” said Diego with a smirk, as the two kissed again before making their way to Marina's office, upon which she locked the door behind them.

Can I get you anything?” said Marina, still abuzz about the kiss. “Water? Coffee? You've had a long flight.”
Oh no,” said Diego, making his way in between Marina's legs and putting his hands on her waist as she sat on the edge of her desk. “A guy like me...a stylin', profilin', limousine ridin', jet flyin', wheelin' n' dealin' son of a gun...I'm used to it.”

Diego then inched his head a little closer to Marina's.

Oh yes,” he said, “and kiss stealin' too, I forgot.”

Diego then planted another kiss on Marina's lips, and the two kissed passionately for quite some time.

Some day,” said Marina, “my husband will learn to kiss just like you do.”
Nah,” said Diego with a smug chuckle. “He never will.”
I think you're right,” said Marina with a smile as the two kissed again.

Diego then eventually got down to business, although neither departed their positions.

So what do you know about the Carlson murders?” said Diego.
Not much, unfortunately,” said Marina. “We were able to extract the bullets that killed the family, and the ballistics tests are being run as we speak. There were, unfortunately, no witnesses and since the crime happened in The Gallows, there's no camera footage either. We also know their butler, Kenneth Griffin, was killed by the exact same gun, with the murderer hijacking the limousine to eventually kill the Carlsons.”
Except their boy,” said Marina. “Who's still missing.”
I imagine he's the No. 1 suspect,” said Diego. “If he isn't dead.”

Marina looked at Diego as if he made a profound revelation.

You think Morris Carlson killed his own family?” said Marina, shocked but intrigued.
Yes, yes,” said Diego. “I believe it completely. Rule No. 1 about suspectology- you always start with those closest to the murder victims, because they'd have the greatest reasons to want them dead and they have the most access to the victims. In this case, not just his mother and father are dead, but so is their butler. That screams 'family retaliation' to me.”

Marina looked at Diego starry-eyed with as wide a smile as could be. Diego made the case incredibly clear for her, a relief since she knew this case would be very high profile and she would hate having to deal with the media scrutiny if it dragged on.

Wow,” she said, her relief overwhelming. “I can't believe I didn't see that.”
That's why you hire the best,” said Diego with a broad smile.
Thank you,” said Marina. “Thank you so much.”

The two then began kissing again, Marina so grateful that it aroused her. They kissed deeper and deeper, the passions rising between the two, eventually causing Marina to clear off her desk so she could lie down on it while Diego got on top of her. Soon, the two of them shed their clothes, not caring as the various papers, pens and other trinkets on her desk went flying everywhere, because they were so deeply enraptured with each other. The foreplay was complete and intense, as both came to see each other as having “bodies of a god” and they made it a point to each enjoy every ounce of their bodies.

So enamoured with each other, sex arrived and went so easily for them. It was hard, it fast, it was mesmerizing...and it was over quickly, though both climaxed together. As Diego dismounted, very satisfied, he collapsed into a chair with a wide smile on his face as he caught his breath. Marina, also very satisfied, lay on her desk with a similar smile on her face as she caught her breath.

Moments later, they heard a roar coming from outside. It was one of the “guard bears” the precinct used to guard entrances not open to the public, and the fact one was set off meant they might have an intruder.

Diego thus hastily put on his suit jacket, his underwear and his shoes while Marina reapplied her bra, her pants and her boots before running outside, as both figured it was too great an emergency to avoid for too long.

When they got outside, they saw Morris Carlson crawling on his back, petrified of the beast, while Serena Rocker stood firm in front of it, doing her best to keep it at bay.

What are you two doing?” said Diego, not hiding his contempt. “Don't you know where the proper entrance is?”
Well,” said Serena, unfazed by Diego, “if you had it properly marked, we wouldn't have caused a scene in the first place.”

Serena then looked at Diego and smugly smiled, which irritated the TCU Chief even further.

OK,” said Marina, hoping to regain some semblance of control. “You guys came here for a reason. What is it?”

Marina then petted the bear which caused him to stand down. She then told Morris it was OK to get back up.

I'm Morris Carlson,” said Morris. “I heard that I was 'missing' so I came here to report that I am...not.”
We also came to give a statement to the police,” said Serena in a snarky tone. “Because we actually saw who killed his parents.”
You did?” said Diego, very dismissively.

Morris brushed the dust off his clothes before replying.

Yes,” said Morris. “He was a man of Digo descent, just like my family. So he's from Mombasa like we are. He named himself 'Saif' but I'm sure that's a nickname. He also said something to my mother about 'Dresden' but I don't know what that means.”

Diego snorted and shook his head.

Seriously, kid?” he said. “That's the best you got? Some African guy with a nickname talking about a city in Saxony? I'd laugh if it wasn't so sad.”
Maybe there's something to-” said Marina.
Tina, my darling,” said Diego, interrupting Marina. “There's nothing to it.”

Serena was apoplectic.

Seriously buddy,” said Serena, shocked at Diego's tone. “Both Moe and I were there. We should know who actually killed his parents. I'm surprised and dismayed that you'd dismiss Morris' words so thoroughly.”

Diego smirked.

That's because,” he said, as dramatic as he could make it, “Morris Carlson did the deed himself.”

Serena and Morris both gasped.

I'll also have you know,” said Diego, “that Snuggles, the bear here, he's a trained bear...once Marina sets him loose, he will target Morris and bring him back to me...dead or alive.”
So make your choice wisely,” said Marina. “You can come quietly, or...you may not come back in one piece.”

Morris was downtrodden, letting out a heavy sigh and hanging his head. He resigned himself to his fate, walking towards Marina before Serena stopped him with her arm.

Run,” she said. “I'll catch up.”

Morris was shocked, his eyes wide and his heart racing as his mind began to process what was happening before him. Snuggles was indeed ready to pounce, but as Serena looked at him with urgency but also reassurance in her eyes, it convinced Morris that he needed to follow along with his new friend.

So he bolted down the street as Serena unsheathed two small swords in order to attack the bear.

To read more, see the eBook "The Virus: Outbreak", available at Payhip.

A Note