Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Path To Victory: Chapter Four

April 3, 2017,
11:22 local time,
Erasmus Campaign Headquarters,
Alert, Roman Forces Base Ellesmere Island

“While I can appreciate the efforts and intentions behind their wish,” said Consul Praeliata at a news conference outside of the Senate buildings, addressing Viridis’ blog post that had gone viral, “and while I too share many of the same sentiments that a vast majority of the population share, as do many of my colleagues within the Senate, after much consultation, deliberation, thought and prayer, we made a firm decision that denying Erasmus his legitimately obtained, clear and decisive victory in the Caesarean election would be tantamount to destroying the democracy that the Roman Empire has so strongly defended and upheld for over twenty-five hundred years. For our democracy to work, we have to respect the way elections work, even if those results do not go our way. Furthermore, denying one a legitimately won election will only serve to erode the public’s trust in the process, irreparably so, and would set a precedent more dangerous than even the election of the poorest possible candidate. Therefore, I, on behalf of the rest of the Senate, am announcing that on April 21, 2017, the first day of Erasmus’ reign, we will crown him Caesar. Thank you.”

“That was earlier today,” said CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer after the video clip of Praeliata’s announcement. “Which was not unexpected…but then, moments later was this.”

“I have heard you all loud and clear,” said Valerius, holding his own news conference at the Flavia Domus. “Today I was supposed to give you a concession speech…however, I will do no such thing. The people of Rome have spoken…they regret the decision that was made. Therefore, I will not be stepping aside and will resume my reign as the 294th Caesar in Roman history.”

Erasmus shut off the TV in disgust.

“He can’t do that, right?” he said, nerves tinged in his defiance. “We legitimately won, right?”
“Yes we did,” said Licinus Ludus, his lead counsel, joining him alongside his campaign chairman and long-time friend Primus Gratius.
“We can challenge that, can we not?” Erasmus said, hanging on to the faint hope that he had.
“We could,” said Ludus, sensing Erasmus’ worry.
“So let’s get in front of a magistrate and do it!” Erasmus said, goading Ludus to pick up his phone and make the call.

Ludus could only sigh.

“Erasmus,” said Ludus, “you’re right…we could go in front of a magistrate. We could go in front of several…we’d probably do very well. Until we get to the last step…which is appealing to the Caesar…who is still Valerius.”
“The Twelve Tables are very clear,” said Erasmus. “He has to relinquish the throne if he legitimately lost, which he did. Not even he can rule against that.”

Gratius jumped in, giving Erasmus a look.

“Do you really think that Valerius would rule against extending his term?” said Gratius. “No matter what the law says, he is the ultimate interpreter of it…he’ll find some way to interpret it so he can keep his power.”

Erasmus let out a heavy sigh.

“What do we do?” he asked, almost breathless.

“I’m not sure,” said Ludus. “From a legal standpoint, you have nothing.”
“We could organize some protests,” said Gratius, “maybe see if the Senate or the Plebeian Council will go to bat for you, but I doubt they’ll accomplish much, if we can even count on their support anyway. Other than that…there is the Army. They could forcibly remove Valerius…but he’s still their boss, and military intervention is always a risky proposition, on every front.”
“A province or two can break for me,” said Erasmus, hopefully. “The Army may support me...there has to be a lot of people who be angry at Valerius.”

Gratius sighed.

“Bill,” said Gratius, using Erasmus’ birth name, “that may happen. I don’t think it will. You don’t have too many endorsements from politicians...the Senate nearly all hates you...and besides, if you are seen as instigating violence what support you may have for the crown will evaporate. You need to play it cool Bill. We’ll release a statement condemning Valerius for his actions, urge everyone to do what they can to uphold the voice of the people and leave it at that. More importantly, though, we need to tell the people to remain calm and tell them to contact their Councillor. There’s going to be a lot of anger, and the potential for violence will be high. At the very least, we don’t want anyone blaming us for whatever violence breaks out.”

Erasmus was downtrodden, unable to rectify how his dreams could be crushed so easily and so recklessly. What does it say about our democracy if the people can choose to brazenly disregard its rules?

Ludus picked up on Erasmus’ feelings.

“We should call the Mundiali,” said Ludus.
“The Mundiali?” said Erasmus, starting to get hopeful.
“Wait,” said Gratius, “Licinus, didn’t you just say that nothing illegal happened?”
“I know I did,” said Ludus, “but that doesn’t mean Valerius did something illegal to spur his legal decision.”

“He’s right,” said Erasmus. “You don’t subvert democracy on a whim, and Valerius is usually a man of honour. Someone got to him…and I’m going to find out who.”

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Path To Victory: Chapter Three

March 31, 2017,
15:39 local time,
Angkor General Hospital,
Angkor, Khimerium

Connie Hedburg arose from her slumber with instant anxiety. She darted her head around the room, confused over where she was and shaken by how she got there. Her heart began to race, which caused her to cry out after experiencing a significant dart of pain coming from her chest.

The nurse attended to her quickly, and, after determining it was just a panic attack, worked to sooth Connie’s worries.

“Connie,” said the nurse, “you’re fine now. You will make a complete recovery.”
“Where am I?” Connie asked, struggling to regain her composure.
“This is Angkor,” said the nurse, “in the Roman Republican province of Khimerium. You were airlifted here to the General Hospital because the Birean hospitals couldn’t take care of your needs...you had a ton of complications arising from your stab wound. Whoever did it to you was a very nasty man.”
“No, he wasn’t” said Connie adamantly, “and I stabbed myself.”
“That’s not what the police told me,” said the nurse, confused.
“They lied to you,” said Connie, who began to get defiant. “I was married to the nicest man in the world...and the ‘police’ took him away from me.”
“Sweetie,” said the nurse, “you were used in a human trafficking ring...he was not a nice man.”
“That is not true!” Connie declared. “Mason Jeffrey treated me with the utmost care and respect...I have never met anyone who treated me better than Mason did. Did he find me using a service one would call a ‘human trafficking ring’? Yeah, he did. However, Birea is so messed up that Mason could not find a woman in ‘more conventional ways’...the demographics there won’t allow it. So he had no choice...and this ring, the Order of St. Germain Cousin, they nursed me back to health, saved me from actual rapists in Sweden and never forced me into anything. I chose to be a part of their program...and I talked with Mason beforehand. In fact, I chose him from a list of men they gave me. Really, there was no more of a way that the Order did not degrade or disrespect me.”

“You know,” said Connie with tears in her eyes, “if it wasn’t for that stupid Ingrid coming in and messing things up...I wouldn’t be here in a hospital bed. I’d still be in Birea...happy...living the best possible life...with him.”

Connie then broke down and cried, causing the nurse to take pity on her.

“Well,” said the nurse. “Good news is you have recovered. We’ll need to keep you here one more night for observation but after that, you’re free to go.”

The nurse then left, leaving Connie with her lone roommate, who woke up.

“Hey,” said Connie with a warm smile to her roommate, an athletically slender blonde woman. “You finally woke up. I’m Connie, by the way.”
“Holly,” said the woman, neither shaking hands because they were too tired to make the gesture.

“How long was I out?” said Holly, scratching her groggy eyes.
“I don’t know,” said Connie. “I just woke up from surgery myself.”
“I’m glad you did,” said Holly. “I was worried about you.”
“You were?” Connie said, pleasantly surprised.
“Yeah,” said Holly. “You had a lot of infections...today is the first day I’ve seen you that they’re not running any tests on you. I’ve been in here longer than you...I heard what that guy did to you...I never wanted anyone more than you to pull through.”
“Well,” said Connie with a wistful smile, “I never should have been here...truth is...I stabbed myself.”
“What?” said Holly, aghast. “Why would you do that?”
“I don’t know what story you heard,” said Connie, “and I don’t feel like going into detail...but I wasn’t trafficked. A charity took me away from my troubles in Sweden and paired me with the best man I have ever met...but the police took him away from me so I tried to kill myself.” Connie then let out a sigh. “I wish I was more successful.”

“Oh muffin,” said Holly, taken by Connie’s words, “don’t ever say that. Life is a blessing...you’ve been given a chance to continue, and it’s been given to you for a reason.”
“What reason?” said Connie. “I’ll probably have to go back to Sweden…stay with my parents, who loved paddling me more than actually taking care of me. I might have to go back to the streets…the cold, hard streets where there’s too many of us because the welfare state sucked us dry. Or go bed surfing with men who simply see you as an ‘opportunity’…my life was so much better with Mason.”

Connie sighed as Holly sat up in her bed, struggling to do so.

“What happened to you?” said Connie, seeing Holly’s struggle.

“I,” started Holly, wincing in pain. “I was in Birea too…on assignment. I don’t know if you know of the Spitzenkrieger, but that’s who I am.”
“Spitzenkrieger,” said Connie, “you’re a Vandal superhero.”
“Yup,” said Holly as proudly as she could with her strained voice. “Born and raised in Saldae…there were rumours floating last year that the Soldiers had abducted some girls from the city so I went…on my own…to the country to investigate.”
“The Academy let you do that?” said Connie.
“I told them I would do it,” said Holly, “and they were okay with it. Understand, we’re given a lot of latitude as Spitzenkrieger…we work alone, so we don’t need ‘clearance’ like other police departments do. We just follow our leads.”
“Of course…it leaves you vulnerable,” said Connie
“Yeah,” said Holly. “It’s tough…but I knew the risks…and the reward is great…”

Connie picked up on Holly’s facial expression.

“Sounds like there’s a ‘but’ in there somewhere,” said Connie.
“There are just some problems I can’t solve,” said Holly with a sigh.
“Not even Birea?” Connie asked.
“Birea isn’t the Vandal Kingdom,” said Holly. “The Vandal Kingdom…despite how weird our criminals get, we still have order and respect. In Birea…it’s a dog eat dog world…only the strongest of alphas survive there.”
“Mason told me it was no picnic,” said Connie. “I’ve seen a few times…Mason taught me self-defence to get through it…I mean, it wasn’t the greatest society to live in…but if you found a way to be comfortable in it, you could manage. It’s probably no worse than a lot of countries…heck, it’s better than Sweden.”

Holly let out a sigh.

“Birea is a ticking time bomb,” she said gravely. “The country only succeeds because James Dowell ruled with a fair but strong hand, but since Ingrid Fjallsdottir came around and forced his hand, the people have been getting restless. You don’t understand what the world created.”

Connie looked on, intrigued by what she was hearing.

“There are what, ten, 15,” said Holly, “30 million Birean men unable to find a wife simply due to demographics…I don’t think the world truly understands what kind of social problems that creates, especially when those are exacerbated by Nathanism.”

Connie was about to protest before Holly stopped her.

“I know,” she said, gesturing to Connie, “it’s really the people who choose to interpret the religion in the worst possible way…but, given what happens in Birea, it only compounds the problem.”
“How so?” said Connie.
“When you have an entire society that is literally told that, as men, you are owed a woman and you are to be dominant over her,” said Holly, “and you suddenly can’t find a woman for yourself that…creates issues.”
“So you don’t think human trafficking is wrong, then,” said Connie.
“Not quite,” said Holly. “I don’t agree with human trafficking…I’m just not sure the solution was to round up all the customers. Sure, there were a lot of bad ones, but there were a lot of good ones too, and besides, arresting them doesn’t address the actual societal pressures.”
“Good ones left with no other choice,” said Connie with a sigh. “Like Mason.”

“…and then there’s Andrew O’Baley,” said Holly wistfully. “I was simply following a lead…I found that a woman from Saldae had gone missing…tracked her via the Order of St. Maria Goetti.”
“Ingrid’s ring,” said Connie, “the one where she employed all kinds of abusers just so that she could give the Birean traffickers a bad name.”
“Which worked,” said Holly with a wry smile.
“Don’t get me wrong,” said Connie, “there are a lot of traffickers who were bad people…but bad operators doesn’t mean the concept is bad.”
“That’s fair,” said Holly, “but I still think you got lucky.”

“Anyway,” continued Holly, “I come up to Andrew’s house and right away something was off.”

Holly paused to collect herself before continuing.

“I heard the screams of a woman from outside of the house,” said Holly. “I decided to forgo pleasantries and just kicked down the door, my gun drawn. As soon as I enter, a security guard bashes me in the head with his fist, but before he struck me again, I took out his legs and slammed him to the floor. I then tried to move towards the screaming but the guard got up and tackled me from behind. He was a clumsy guy so after a bit of wrestling, I was able to knock him off of me.

“I picked up my gun and moved from the front towards the basement, where the screaming was coming from. There was another guard, who was much more of a capable fighter than the other guy, and we fought for quite some time before I could subdue him. I then went for the door, but, noticing it was locked, I drew my gun on the guard I had just subdued and got him to give me the key.”

Holly took in a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh before continuing.

“I got in,” she said, tears beginning to form in her eyes, “drew my gun and pointed it at Andrew. When I saw what he was doing, my rage got the better of me.”
“What happened?” Connie asked, with grave concern.
“He had the girl,” said Holly, “the girl I was looking for. She was...” At this point, Holly could barely keep her composure. “She was naked, spread eagle on the chair...and Andrew was doing...oh gosh I don’t want to get into it...but believe me when I say that Andrew was a sick, sick man.”
“Oh gosh,” said Connie, horrified.
“I ordered him to stop,” said Holly, “showed him my badge and everything. He just...kept going. So I cocked my gun and that’s when he decided to stop.”
“That allowed you to arrest him, right?” Connie said. She was gripped, hanging on to every word Holly was saying.

Holly lowered her head and let out a heavy sigh before continuing.

“It,” said Holly, stammering, “it happened so fast…one of the guards I had knocked down earlier clocked me from behind…I fell to the floor…I tried to get up but soon I had Andrew and another guard all over me sending me a fury of fists and kicks all over my body…I become so weak…helpless. In my daze, I see them ripping off my clothes and being unable to stop them.” Holly then began to breathe heavily, the toll of the story getting to her. “They rip open my legs, their hands so strong keeping them apart…then Andrew…Andrew…”

Holly then hunches over, wincing and grimacing, all while hyperventilating. Tears began to flow liberally from her eyes and she buried her head in her hands. Connie was shaken by Holly’s show of emotion, and it was not long before she cried too.

“It’s okay Holly,” she said, wanting to comfort Holly but unable to do so from her bed. “You don’t need to tell me what that…monster…did to you.”

Holly raised her head, appreciative of Connie’s words.

“It’s okay,” she said. “I…I have to make peace with it. Fortunately the pain was so unbearable that I passed out while they did their worst…I woke up here, in this hospital bed. Told me I was lucky to be alive…I was beaten beyond a point where most would have died…I needed weeks of physical therapy just to regain any kind of movement in my limbs…and…I’ll never have kids in my life.”

Holly sighed.

“I wanted to die too,” she said. “I don’t know how I made it here…but I did. Maybe to meet you…and tell you to fight for me…because it’ll be a while before I can fight for myself again.”

Connie sat in her bed, contemplating what she just heard.

“Fight for you?” she asked, intrigued. “I’d love to, because I hate what those monsters reduced you to. I’m just not sure how.”
“I have friends who work for Global Citizens,” said Holly, referring to the worldwide human rights advocacy group. “I don’t always see eye to eye with them…but, like you, they want to challenge worldwide conventions and hold governments accountable for their policies.”
“Policies that have led to you and me in these beds,” said Connie with a wistful sigh.
“Global Citizens want to work with governments through,” said Holly. “Because governments can get caught up in their idealism...we just make sure they get things right.”

Connie nodded her head.

“Okay,” she said. “I’ll do it. What’s my first task?”

Holly smiled at Connie’s eagerness while sending a text message.

“While I was in Andrew’s house,” Holly said, “I saw a file folder that had simply the word ‘Bessarion’ written on it. It may be nothing, but it could be tied to something. You’ll be going back there…Danel Hanno will assist you.”
“Danel Hanno?” said Connie. “The lawyer?”
“He’s helping the Birean government review the bust of the human trafficking rings,” said Holly, “so he has access to Andrew’s files. He’ll be here tomorrow afternoon to get you started.”

“Sounds good,” said Connie as both women smiled.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Path To Victory: Chapter Two

March 2, 2017,
17:02 local time,
CNN Studios,
Manhattan, New York

“Joining me here in The Situation Room,” said Cable News Network (CNN) anchor Wolf Blitzer, opening his show with his trademark booming baritone, “is Roman Consul Gaia Julia Praeliata, here to talk about the Roman Caesarean election now winding into its final weeks. Thank you for joining me, Consul Praeliata.”
“It’s my pleasure,” said Praeliata, who possessed a strong but biting baritone herself. Middle-aged but youthful looking, the tanned blonde was dressed in her ceremonial toga, form-fitting so that it brought out her bust. She did so because she found the inherent sex appeal of her outfit intimidated her colleagues in the very macho world of the Roman Republic, the Empire’s most influential group of provinces, collectively administered by the Senate. Her hard-nosed approach helped her become the Senate’s top Consul, the “Ordinary Counsul” (or simply the “Consul”), in 2011.

“We’re going to start with the topic that’s on everyone’s mind right now,” said Blitzer, “and it’s the fact that Erasmus now leads Valerius in the polls for the first time in this electoral cycle. What’s your immediate reaction to that?”
“Well Wolf,” said Praeliata confidently, “I’ve said it many times before- I think Erasmus is too stubborn and too temperamental to be the right fit for Caesar. Many of my colleagues in the Senate believe he would be very hard to work for which is why the Republic is taking the unprecedented step to campaign for Valerius who, while having many faults, has proven that he’s capable of compromise.”
“Yes,” said Blitzer, “but I’m sure you have worked with difficult politicians before. What makes Erasmus so different?”
“Erasmus,” stated Praeliata emphatically, “is the classic example of the civilian who thinks he knows more than all of us experienced politicians so he decides he’s going to become one. Usually many of those people learn on the job or they at least are willing to do so, but Erasmus has shown no signs that he wishes to do so. What’s worse, because he has this cocky, arrogant attitude, he’s more likely to hold us all in contempt and refuse to listen to suggestions that could be of benefit to the nation.”
“I understand,” said Blitzer, “but I’m sure you have dealt with a few arrogant politicians too.”
“At least politicians understand what’s at stake and how it all works,” said Praeliata. “There are things in the political world that a layperson like Erasmus will never understand unless you’re involved in it like I am. He may be a former Police Chief, but that’s an entirely different world from politics. If he really thinks he can walk in and pretend that politics is the same way, he’s in for a ride awakening.”
“Are you scared of him?” Blitzer asked, point blank.
“No,” said Praeliata without hesitation. “Not at all. Wolf, there’s a difference between being scared and recognizing when someone is too naive and stubborn to ever have a working relationship with. Erasmus isn’t fit for the job, and I’m going to say that.”

Praeliata smiled confidently as Blitzer decided to forge forward.

“Consul,” he started, “I want to get to the question that’s on everyone’s mind. Ever since Augustus was first crowned Emperor in 27 BC, the Senate has technically held the power to decide who is truly deserving of the crown. Now, it’s mostly a ceremonial role today, but there’s rumours that because of your pointed stance that the Senate may refuse to fulfill that role and decide to crown someone else. Will you state for the record what your intentions are in that regard?”
“Well Wolf,” said Praeliata confidently, “it’s a little premature to be talking about that kind of thing when the vote is still two weeks away. Having said that...all options are on the table at this stage and we will examine them when the situation comes.”
“So you are saying that you may forgo crowning Erasmus as Caesar,” said Blitzer.
“I’m saying all of our options are on the table,” said Praeliata, with a wry smile.

March 22, 2017,
20:34 local time,
Viridis’ Apartment,
Rome, Roman Republic

“This isn’t just a victory for you,” said Erasmus, addressing his supporters in a video, “but this is a victory for all Romans. For far too long we have been under the destructive policies of inaction and ‘compromise’ under Valerius, but no longer. For today, we will forge ahead as a Rome that is decisive, a Rome that is assertive, a Rome that is fearless, a Rome that is strong.” Erasmus waited as thunderous cheers emanated from the crowd.

“A Rome,” he continued, passion oozing from his smooth, commanding baritone, “a Rome that is Rome again! The Empire is back!”

Cornelia Marva Viridia, better known as Viridis, closed her laptop and sat up on her bed.

It had been over a month now and it still didn’t sink in. Despite Valerius making a comeback in the polls, on the Ides of March, Bill Firechild, now known regally as Erasmus, won the election to become Rome’s 295th Caesar.

It was a close contest, with Erasmus barely eking out a majority with 50.4% of the vote. Valerius came in second with 49.2%, with other candidates garnering the remaining votes. For the first time, a Caesar won the election despite not carrying the Republic, where Erasmus only gained 28% of the vote.

Many who opposed Erasmus’ candidacy used that result as further proof that he was not “a real Roman” and thus should not be Caesar.

Viridis saw it differently.

To Viridis, Erasmus reminded her of the tough-talking, authoritarian-minded politicians she believed dominated Rome’s enemies, the Virtue Federation. She was struck in particular about how much Erasmus reminded her of the English Conservatives, forever a thorn in the Romans’ side, not just of Jack Kent but also of politicians of yore, like Margaret Thatcher and former American Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the latter whose hawkish policies started the destructive Third World War.

She didn’t want a Fourth, so she was determined to stop Erasmus.

Viridis got on her blog and wrote a post for her millions of followers, one of whom was Praeliata. She wrote a long but impassioned post, reminding Praeliata that nowhere on the Twelve Tables does it say that the Consul must crown the victor of the Caesarean election as the Caesar, as the Tables clearly say that the ultimate decision rests with the Senate. She then reminded her readers that this was “written into” the Tables so that the Senate could be a “check” on “the mob”, overruling them when “their passions override their better judgement” (she was factually incorrect- the Tables simply stated that the Caesar is to be crowned by the Senate. The perception that the Senate could be a “check” on the mob arose from statements by revolutionary Canus Magnus in 1848, who merely suggested that the Senate take up this role).


Viridis continued by telling Praeliata that she had a “duty” to spare the Romans from “the passions of the plebeians” and use her “better judgement”. “For you,” she wrote in the post’s final sentence, “know that this is not simply about an ideological difference- this is about Rome falling to a Caesar that will undermine the Empire’s every value, one that will devolve from the dignified world power to the impulsivity of the barbarians. We cannot, as a generation, allow such a travesty to happen. Only you, Praeliata, have the power to make that happen. Make it happen. –Viridis.”

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Path To Victory: Chapter One

“There is no greater lie than the idea that the masses will respect democratic decisions”- Appius II, first speech upon restoring the Empire after defeating Republican rebels, 1825

April 6, 2017,
13:01 local time,
The American Presidio
Vancouver, Cascadia

“So glad for you to join me today,” said American Confederacy President Haylie Modine with a forced smile.
“You as well,” said Modine’s guest, English Parliamentarian Jack Kent, who also forced a smile.

The two then proceeded to stare at each other with awkward smiles, underscoring the animosity between the Conservative Party member Kent and the Unionist President Modine.

“I’m not sure what you hope to achieve today,” said Modine, the young President whose nasal shrill could be both endearing and biting at the same time. “My decision has already been made...your friends are not being freed.”

Kent, an experienced man with a commanding baritone, was not fazed. Modine’s Justice Department announced yesterday that it found “evidence” needed to jail 51 politicians, almost all members of America’s “religious right” and all “right wingers” who were strongly opposed to Modine and her “alt-left” movement.

“Your naivete is more boundless than your enthusiasm,” Kent said with a wry smile. “Unfortunately for you, enthusiasm is no substitute for intelligence.”
“Keep up with your snarky remarks,” said Modine, “but you won’t get to me.”
“I don’t have to,” said Kent, “but your people will notice. Maybe not now because they have been infected, but once they regain their brains they will notice.”
“The people voted for me,” said Modine, “they gave me a mandate.”
“You escaped the last North American election by the skin of your teeth,” said Kent. “You have opposition, and you know it. You just refuse to listen to it because they don’t go online like you do.”
“Dinosaurs only have a path to extinction,” said Modine. “I’m not troubled by the desperate pleas of a fading generation.”

Kent chuckled sardonically.

“These are not ‘pleas of a fading generation,” he said. “They were good, honest people who were only unlucky to be caught in a witch hunt by the world’s most insecure leader.”
“A witch hunt, eh?” said Modine in disbelief at what she heard. “So you’re saying that I should have done nothing when Marty McCreary made duck noises and called the Emeldic people ‘crybabies’ simply because they’re tired of being bullied? Or when Sasha Marino declared that the poor ‘made their own bed’ and thus deserve not a single penny of government help? Or when Faith Dumore declared she’d never hire a Sinaloan because she can’t bothered with someone who ‘likes siestas’? Oh, and here’s the real kicker! What about when Ken Murray told a female heckler that ‘someone should bend her over and give her something to really scream about’? That’s totally cool, right?”
“As cool as it is for your chief of staff to Squawk that all men should be sterilized,” sneered Kent, “because men can’t control themselves.”
“The patriarchy is a fact, Jack,” said Modine assuredly. “It’s not hate if it’s based in fact.”

Kent shook his head and shifted in his chair, leaning forward and looking Modine right in the eye.

“Just because your ‘allies’ approve of who you are jailing doesn’t mean you get to throw them in jail on trumped up frivolities,” said Kent. “You denied them their rights, so now you can’t stand at your altar and pretend that you believe in human rights.”
“Of course I can,” said Modine with a smug chuckle. “The people I put away are not humans...they don’t deserve rights.”

Kent could only shake his head.

“Your hypocrisy would be amusing if it weren’t maddening,” said Kent. “You don’t get to decide who qualifies as a ‘human’.”
“I think they make that choice for themselves when they spout such unbridled hate,” said Modine bluntly after folding her arms. “Nobody who holds such vile views qualifies as anything more than an abhorrence.”
“No matter how ‘abhorrent’ a viewpoint may be,” said Kent pointedly, “it is still a viewpoint, and if you respect democracy at all you would recognize that.”
“…and you fail to understand that if human society is to grow and prosper,” said Modine pointedly, “there are just some viewpoints that should never be shared.”
“Listen to yourself, Haylie,” said Kent, not hiding his disgust. “No politician is qualified to be the arbiter of what opinions its people get to share…positing that means you are no better than the authoritarians you claim to despise.”

Kent folded his arms and gave Modine a smirk, which made Modine think she’d had enough.

“Thank you for your visit today,” she said with a fake smile. “As I predicted, you got nowhere. Just like your sorry Conservatives against a real opponent in Koiji Kawasaki.”

Kent got up and put his fedora back on. He headed for the door but turned to address Modine before he left.


“Enjoy the moment Haylie,” he said ominously. “Believe that you can forge a career believing that you are always right and antagonizing everyone who so much as delivers even the tiniest sliver of disapproval. Because one day you’re going to antagonize the wrong person…and it will be an opponent so difficult that there will be no amount of self-righteousness to protect you from the fact you have no friends.”

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life

“Wish that I could stay forever this young/Not afraid to close my eyes/Life’s a game made for everyone/And love is the prize.”- Avicii featuring Aloe Blacc, “Wake Me Up” (2013)

April 4, 2017,
20:42 local time,
Warricksville Beat Offices,
Warricksville, Birea

Finally, thought Jackson Roscoe as he closed his laptop and prepared to head out of the office. I get to go home.

Roscoe worked as the lifestyle writer for the Warricksville Beat, offering a weekly advice column that earned him notoriety locally, though not much in the way of cash. He had many friends inside and outside the newspaper industry who believe that he should take his talents to a bigger city, like Helene, the Birean capital, or work abroad, but Roscoe lived in Warricksville his entire life, and a previous lifetime of poor decisions meant his debt wouldn’t allow him to take a trip anyway.

As he walked home, he often wondered what the point of his life was. He was a single male and 37 years old, but still living in a bachelor apartment that was just the right size for him and no one else. A muscular man with ebony skin, he was affable and sociable, talking with an expressive baritone that always got him noticed. It enabled him to get along with a lot of people, often drawing them to him, but as the years passed, Roscoe found he made fewer and fewer friends, as many were just not worth his time.

Thus, he spent most of the time on his long walk home- he preferred it, as it kept him in shape- thinking that all he did was live to work. Sure, many have told him, “if you just took a chance you could change all that”, but Roscoe was never one for risk, and he never knew what “a better opportunity” looked like except in the abstract anyway.

He stepped outside of the office and ducked passed the handyman, not even saying a word. Lazy runt, thought Roscoe, he can’t be bothered to fix the lighting but when Marty wants a new shelf, he’s suddenly able to help him. He then gave a nod to the man working security for the building before leaving, upon which he passed by the deliveryman and another man who just happened to be out riding his bike.

As he headed down the sidewalk, he walked by two men, barely out of their teens, excited to be talking about life and “how many women we’d have”. As Roscoe passed them, he shook his head, thinking to himself about how na├»ve those men were. He then waved to the garbage man before noticing the corner grocery store, remembering that he needed some milk.

As soon as he walked in, he said hello to the grocer’s greeter, a polite older man before feeling his phone vibrate. He then took a look at it and smiled.

“Hey buddy,” said Roscoe, calling his longtime friend, the internationally renowned lawyer Danel Hanno. “Got your text. You’re in town today?”
“Yeah,” said Hanno, a slender, pale-skinned man who spoke with a soft, nasal baritone that belied his friendly but assured nature. “The case in Moscow ended early…Moskvitch decided to settle.”
“That’s good news,” said Roscoe.
“Say why don’t I tell you about it at The Diner,” said Hanno. “It’s been a while…I miss that place.”
“Things are a bit different, I should warn you,” said Roscoe, wistfully.
“I know,” said Hanno confidently, “but we’ll handle it.”

The two chatted briefly before ending the call, after which Hanno came by and picked up Roscoe in his Alfa Romeo. They then drove to The Diner, where it didn’t take long for Hanno to notice what changed.

“No sex, eh?” he remarked as he approached the restaurant sign.
“Well,” said Roscoe, “you can actually still get sex…it’ll just cost you.”
“That’s a bit of a drag,” said Hanno nonchalantly as the pair walked into the restaurant and found a table.
“Reality,” said Roscoe. “There are no women available to us…human trafficking is banned, mail order brides are banned…prostitution we already know is illegal…so this is the only place where us men could get action…and the owners know it. Unless you have the money to leave the country.”
“Well,” said Hanno, “in fairness only those with money could have benefitted from the human trafficking rings…I don’t really think much has changed.”
Roscoe sighed, but decided against pressing the issue.

The Diner was one of many establishments across Birea that specialized in the hiring of “comfort girls”, scantily clad female servers whose only real function was to provide sexual services to the clients. It was often the only place in the land where single men could find sexual gratification, as government policies meant the demographics ensured that one third of Birean men would not have a wife to themselves. Coupled with a national adherence to Nathanism, a religion that espouses female subservience to men, it was a perfect storm to create a breeding ground of predatory men, as the scarcity of women increased their demand.

Hanno and Roscoe weren’t your typical Bireans. Hanno- born in Phoenicia but raised in Warricksville- and Roscoe were both educated, which helped them understand Birea’s demographic reality and accept it, even if it frustrated them. They were the rare breed in Birea that actually respected women, since they knew that it was not the women’s fault that many Birean men could not find a wife, and thus saw no reason to take their aggravation out on the women or to abuse them in some way.

They watched as a patron took a server by the hand and dragged her on to his lap.

“Hey baby,” said the man, a pale-skinned, portly man with a slicked-back mullet. “Why don’t you stay a while,” he cooed, caressing her shoulder and inching her towards him.
“Listen sir,” said the server, who wore a tiny string bikini top and a G-string bottom, both coloured blue, along with a dinosaur-themed full facemask. “I’m very busy…I can’t do this right now.”
“Come on,” said the man, widowed for ten years, “I don’t even want sex this time…I just want a hug.”
“You still have to pay,” said the server, visibly distressed by the situation. She got off his lap but couldn’t lose the grip of his hand.
“I gotta pay for a little affection?” said the man, who let out a loud frustrated sigh.

That brought out The Diner’s manager, a strapping pasty young lad who went by the name of Steve O’Donnell.

“Yes,” he said to the man without hesitation, “you gotta pay.”
“Well that’s ridiculous,” said the man, throwing up his free hand in frustration. “What kind of a country asks its men to pay to have even a little affection? It’s perfectly normal…and natural to want it.”
“I don’t care,” said O’Donnell, “rules are rules! You gotta pay! No freebies in this place…even hugs!”

O’Donnell then put his hands on his hips and looked pointedly at the man.

“Besides,” he said, “you still haven’t paid for the last meal you had here. So unless you pay up I’m going to ask you to march on out of here!”
“Seriously?” said the man with the mullet, “I paid you yesterday…and I told you…I lost my job…go easy on me…this place…it’s all I got left.”

O’Donnell was less than impressed.

“Nuh uh uh,” he said, waving his hand. “You ain’t paying…then you ain’t get the service…and you can march on out of here. Go on…go!”

Two security guards came for the man, who decided to get up on his own.

“I can walk myself out, thank you very much,” he said to O’Donnell, coldly.

As the man walked out, Roscoe could only shake his head.

“Probably has more than just one meal he hasn’t paid for,” said Roscoe. “Guy like that…he tries to take advantage of everyone that he can. Can’t believe you gotta pay for a hug though…that’s new.”
“The manager likely told him because he’s abused the system before and he doesn’t want him to abuse it again,” said Hanno. “This place must get a lot of people like him who just come in to harass the servers.”
“Hmmnnn,” said Roscoe, intrigued. “Good point.”

At this point, their server finally got to their table. She too was wearing a dinosaur-themed full facemask, with a tiny string bikini and G-string coloured pink that her tanned skin helped accentuate.

After she greeted the pair, Roscoe recognized her voice which caused him and Hanno to smile.

“Hey,” said Roscoe, as the server greeted the pair by giving each a happy, hearty hug. “How’s it going?”
“Tonight,” said the server, who knew Roscoe and Hanno well enough that she gave them her name, Bella, and has actually shown them her face. “Tonight has been a rough one.” She took down their orders, returning later with their food.

“Sorry I was late getting to you guys,” said Bella, who took off her mask. “I had to deal with that jerk.”
“Kicked out another guy?” said Hanno as both he and Roscoe enjoyed their meals. “We just saw one a few moments ago.”
“No,” said Bella, “I’m talking about the manager. He’s a real piece of work.”
“He seemed pretty hardline with that other guy,” said Roscoe. “I understand why…you guys must deal with a lot of idiots.”
“We have our days,” said Bella. “Today’s not one of them, actually.”
“Really?” said Roscoe, surprised.
“It’s the von Restorff effect,” said Hanno assuredly. “We tend to remember things that ‘stick out’ as opposed to things that are routine. There are nine other people in this restaurant, and yet we didn’t notice them because they’re not doing anything noticeable. The man with the mullet on the other hand…”

“Yeah,” said Bella with a sigh after a laugh. “That guy has come in five times and never ordered a meal, but he’s always grabby…the girls are a little frustrated with him.”
“So the manager had to take a stand,” said Roscoe.
“Steve’s…well meaning,” said Bella with another sigh. “He’s just…particular…and he thinks he has to be our ‘protector’…so he goes overboard with a lot of clients. Which would be great…if he wasn’t trying to get in between our legs.”
“That’s not right,” said Hanno, “he’s abusing his power.”
Roscoe shrugged. “It’s Birea,” he said. “I expect it.”

“Contrary to popular belief,” said Hanno, “you can’t actually force anyone into sex, man or woman, regardless of whether or not you actually own the person. The only exception is a sex slave, but in that regard, the woman actually has to be yours, not someone who is simply subordinate to you at work or at home and/or you are paying her salary…but even then…there are exceptions and limitations.”
“Interesting,” said Bella, “I’ve lived here for so long and I never knew that.”
“Me too,” said Roscoe, again intrigued.
“So why do a lot of men rape without consequence here?” asked Bella, enraptured by Hanno’s knowledge.
“Simple reason is that many times sexual assault is hard to prove,” said Hanno. “Intrinsically it tends to be a crime without a witness so there’s not much you can prove. Other law enforcement officials will try to prove a case some way, but Birean police just don’t bother. The other part is that sexual assault is so pervasive in Birean society that it would seem like a gargantuan task to prosecute everybody, plus some LEOs know that there’s a dearth of women so they’re cutting men some slack, as well as cultural attitudes that favour men over women.”
“…and LEOs that have done the deed themselves,” said Roscoe pointedly.
“That too,” said Bella as everyone laughed.

Out of the corner of her eye Bella noticed O’Donnell holding the wrist of the blue-clad server, with that amorous look in his eyes. She then alerted Hanno who wasted no time.

“Excuse me, sir,” said Hanno, as O’Donnell gave him an incredulous look. “If you even attempt to put your hands where you’re not supposed to, I will notify the authorities that you are breaking the law.”
“…and who are you, exactly?” sneered O’Donnell. “Some lazy SJW that thinks he knows this place more than the people who actually live here?”
“Actually,” said Hanno, flashing his Birean Law Association credentials, matching the credentials he has for the rest of the world. “I do know more than the people who actually live here…I practice law, and I practice it everywhere…and I know that, as simply the manager, you don’t own Clarice and thus you can’t force her to have sex with you…despite what Birean society might tell you.”
“Pfft,” said O’Donnell as Clarice struggled to get free of his grip, “I don’t care what the law says…no one enforces it, and everyone’s doing it. Besides…this is Birea…women serve us!”
“Even if they serve you, Steve, you still have to respect them,” said Hanno sternly.

“Well,” said O’Donnell, getting nervous, “sex is how they serve me.”
“That’s not part of their contract and you know it,” said Hanno, “and even if it were, it’d be illegal anyway.”
“St-st…still, man,” stammered O’Donnell. “You’re not the police…”
“No,” said Hanno, “but I work for Global Citizens. We protect the rights of someone like Clarice. We can contact the Birean authorities and have your place shut down for human rights violations.”
“So I’ll just find somewhere else to work,” said O’Donnell defiantly.

Hanno gave O’Donnell an incredulous look.

“Come on now Steve,” he said softly. “I know…you’re frustrated. A lot of men are here. You guys can’t find a wife so you’re reduced to taking advantage of whatever woman you can find. I know…I understand. Ask yourself, though, is it really fulfilling? Does it really make you ‘more of a man’? Wouldn’t it be better if you got sex from someone who wants to give it to you? Taking it from someone by force is really weak if you think about it…means you didn’t earn it. How good of a man are you if you’re not earning your sex? How attractive does that really make you feel?

“Besides,” continued Hanno matter-of-factly, “how do you think it makes your staff really feel? They probably have to deal with all kinds of crap…do you think your grabby, forceful hands make any of that better?”

O’Donnell began to cry as he thought about what Hanno was saying.

“So,” said Hanno sternly, “the choice is yours.”

O’Donnell pondered for a few minutes. This job was his life, the sole purpose of his existence…and yet it was too for Clarice, for Bella and for the rest of his staff. He couldn’t take advantage of them…what good was he if he ruined their lives too? What kind of a man ruins someone else’s life for his own gratification?

“I’ve been single my whole life,” said O’Donnell in tears as he let go of Clarice’s hand. “This country…it’s so messed up that I can’t find a girl…I was always told…if you’re nice, you’ll get rewarded…but where was my reward? Of course…I realize life doesn’t owe me a reward…it doesn’t owe me anything…

“Oh gosh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” said O’Donnell, pleading. “I won’t mistreat my girls ever again…I should never take my frustrations out on them…that’s not fair. That’s not right. I just…I just don’t know when I’ll get a wife.”
“I can’t tell you when you’ll get a wife,” said Hanno. “I just know how not to get one…and besides…being single can be pretty great. You only have yourself to answer to and take care of. Just be patient…things work themselves out in the end.”

O’Donnell, Clarice and Hanno parted, all receiving hugs and conciliatory remarks from O’Donnell. Hanno then went back to his group.

“Looks like you won,” said Bella with a smile.

“Hopefully,” said Hanno. “It’s a small victory…but every one counts. Especially in a place like this.”

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Eirinn Go Brach

“Those who shout the loudest represent the fewest,”- Rian Forster, “The Protest” (1969)

March 17, 2017,
18:37 local time,
Doyle’s Shipyards,
Boston Port, Republic of St. Daniel’s


(Dropkick Murphys- I’m Shipping Up to Boston (2005 Epitah Records))

It was a pleasant day at the supply depot for this quaint seaside community, thought the depot’s lone security guard.

Then the murders began.

Before he had time to react, the guard was shot in the head by a sniper located on one of many amphibious assault vehicles headed toward Boston Port. The guard died instantly, and though the other workers at the depot heard the gunshot, today being St. Patrick’s Day, they mistook it for fireworks.

As the assault team approached the harbour, they made quick work of the Boston Port Police, a tiny force that was only meant to service the small town, not fight an army. The team then landed at the harbour, docking at the depot where they would really get to work.

With the rest staying outside to guard the perimeter, communications jammers were placed outside before a dozen soldiers entered the facility. Each carried assault rifles and were more than capable in their use. They were not clothed except for a thong and a head covering with ornamental wings that only exposed their eyes, though strapped on to their legs were various small belts that contained additional weaponry. The women in the group wore tiny string bikinis that barely provided coverage, as well as masks that looked like a bearded Highlander, in addition to also wearing the soldiers’ other clothes.

The only ones in the group who did not wear a mask were the group’s three leads, joint second in command Josephina, a redhead, and Harold Tulock.

...and their leader, Sinn Fein, whose imposing muscular frame he adorned with a vibrant tattoo of a winged druid. He was the most experienced soldier of the bunch and the most capable, using his prowess to assert his dominance over his crew.

As the team entered the work areas, Fein barked at each of the workers, all in various different states of celebration- stereotypically so, thought Fein, as many were drunk- of today’s events. He ordered them all to march in front of him, eventually taking all the workers within the depot- some 56 people- to the expansive boiler room, which provided the depot with power.

“It’s too hot in here,” said some of the workers, not used to the room’s excruciating heat. Some of them even started to take off their clothes before Fein started barking again.

“Silence!” he bellowed, “and put back on your clothes.” He watched with stern eyes as the workers did so.

“Now,” he said in a much calmer tone, which brought out his thick Ulsterian accent. “If you cooperate with me, you might make it out of here alive.”

“Who are you? What do you want from us?” asked one man, a rotund, balding pale-skinned man wearing lots of St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia, which drew Fein’s ire.

“My name is Sinn Fein,” started Fein, who was then promptly interrupted by the rotund man.

“Sinn Fein?” he said. “Your name is ‘Ourselves’?”

“That’s right,” said Fein, as if the answer was obvious.

“How can you be so full of yourself that you’d call yourself ‘Ourselves’?”

Fein, expressionless, responded by shooting him right between the eyes, killing him instantly.

“Does anyone else dare to question me?” he said, scanning the room. The scared, stunned workers all shook their heads for a “no” answer.

“Good,” said Fein with a smug smile.

“Now, as I said,” he continued. “My name is Sinn Fein. I, like the rest of my crew here, are proud, ethnic Irishmen and Irishwomen. We came out here today to strike against the destructive Irish stereotypes, ones perpetuated by your silly, ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ parties. It is you that forever cast all of Ireland as nothing but a group of drunkards who are lazy and good for nothing except to get into trouble.”

“Really?” said an older woman, who wore green but was otherwise not dressed in St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia. “I don’t think that at all...I think of the Irish as a fun group of people that love to party and have a good time. I don’t think any of you are lazy.”

Fein casually shot her in the head, killing her instantly.

“St. Patrick’s Day should be a day I fill myself with pride,” said Fein. “Instead, it is a day I fill myself with dread, knowing that the rest of the world uses it as a petty excuse to get drunk and avoid their responsibilities. Meanwhile, too many of my Irish brothers and sisters toil in abject poverty, because they have to deal with the realities your stereotypes have brought upon them. You may think this is all ‘harmless fun’, but you do that viewing it from your privileged lens and fail to see the reality of your actions.”

Fein took a deep breath and then spoke with passionate indignation.

“Well, no more!” he bellowed. “No longer will I allow this malfeasance to continue. No longer will St. Patrick’s Day ‘parties’ be allowed to continue. No longer will anyone desecrate the Irish name and our people. No! Today, I begin the journey that returns us to glory!”

“Okay,” nervously said a young man, slightly tanned and dressed in a dress shirt. “Let us help you with that...you’re right, St. Patrick’s Day does cast the Irish in a bad light.”

The man then reached for his plastic bowler hat, tinted green, took it off and threw it on the ground.

One of the female soldiers took notice of his show of defiance.

“I’m glad that you see the light,” said the soldier who flashed a warm smile as the young man began to pant nervously. The soldier proceeded to walk towards the man, staring into his eyes with an alluring look.

As she walked up to the man, two other soldiers ran beside him and held his arms, immobilizing him.

“Please, please,” he pleaded, “don’t hurt me! I have a daughter...she needs to see her daddy again! She’s only eight...her mother died last year...I’m all that’s left!”

The man continued hyperventilating and began to sweat, watching with anxiety as the female soldier was nonplussed by what she heard. She continued to walk towards him, slowly but methodically, until she found herself right next to him.

At this stage, she knelt down and started to undo his pants.

“No no no!” begged the young man, helpless as the soldier slid down his pants. She then grabbed his penis and began to stroke it, sometimes even licking it, as the young man grimaced at what was unfolding. Whoever this group was, he thought, he never believed he’d see a group so brazen.

Eventually, the young man’s penis got erect, and the soldier had a fun time sucking on it, even though the young man wished she didn’t. Much to his chagrin, she aroused him to the point where he exploded with ejaculate inside her mouth, a load the soldier loved to swallow.

As she did so, she emphasized every movement, just to maximize the psychological effect she was having.

“I like this guy,” she said. She looked back at Fein who gave her a nod, allowing her to pull out a syringe and plunge it into his neck, making him lose consciousness.

After the other soldier dragged back her new conquest, the other soldiers present were eager to get into the fun as well. They went in groups of three and targeted workers they liked- men and women alike- and gang raped them, all while the rest of the depot staff watched on in horror, helpless as the other soldiers kept them from helping out their colleagues. Five men and six women were “enjoyed” by the soldiers, suffering the same fate as the first worker the soldiers had captured. They were destined to become concubines in the group’s harem, a harem the group justified by believing “the world has made Ireland its slaves”.

Then Tulock and Josephina had their own fun with two other hapless workers, before Fein himself stepped into the fray.

Sensing a grand moment, the room was silent as Fein looked into the crowd and picked out a target. He eventually settled on a buxom redhead, Fiona Kjallstrom, the depot’s secretary, and zeroed in on her. He began to undo her blouse and exposed her cleavage, before running his hands on her breasts. He stood over her, expressionless, as the crowd looked on, anxious.

“I’m going to enjoy you later,” he said with an ominous smirk before sticking a syringe in her neck and rendering her unconscious.

He then barked at his soldiers and told them it was time to go, which caused another soldier- a young man who was a recent recruit- to beg to let Fein let him have a choice.

“Sir,” he said, “I’m sorry…I got nervous.”
“I understand,” said Fein. “You’ve never done this before. Go have your choice…but be quick.” He then gave the young soldier a nod, causing him to run at the crowd in excitement.

The young soldier picked out a svelte brunette, exhibiting so much strength that he held her down all by himself. His boisterousness got the better of him while he was raping her, ripping open her vaginal and uterine arteries and causing massive bleeding. Not realizing this, he pulled out his syringe before Fein took aim and shot her dead.

“Hey!” screamed the young soldier, “why’d you do that?”
“You ripped her up,” said Fein coolly. “She was going to bleed out in seconds…you gotta learn when you’re raping someone you can’t just go in like a jackhammer…you gotta be smooth and gentle. There’s no rush.”

The young soldier nodded in acknowledgement while the rest of the depot’s workers gasped, horrified at the callousness of the soldiers.

The soldiers carried on, bringing in a few large baskets which they would use to carry out their new concubines. A few others were selected and sedated, bringing the total group of concubines to 22- 14 women and 8 men.

When the baskets were filled, they were rolled out to one of the depot’s cargo planes, which the soldiers had hijacked. The remaining depot workers were then ordered against the wall along the far corner, all lined up in single file.

Fear gripped the workers, many of whom tried to protest and fight back but the soldiers quickly subdued them. With the depot workers left as a quivering, anxious bunch, Fein made one last address.

“I think most of you understand your fate,” said Fein. “Don’t worry, your friends will be treated well. They paid a price for your transgressions with their freedom, just like you will pay with your lives. Let today serve as a reminder to the wider world that Ireland will never accept a role of subservience ever again.”

The soldiers then cocked their machine guns and aimed them at the crowd. They all then readied their guns and waited eagerly.

Fein then knelt down and recited a prayer:

“Morrigan Morrigan Three times Three,
Hear the words I ask of Thee.
Grant me vision, Grant me power,
Cheer me in my darkest hour.
As the night overtakes the day,
Morrigan Morrigan Light my way.

Morrigan Morrigan Raven Queen
Round and round the Hawthorn Green.
Queen of beauty, Queen of Art,
Yours my body, Yours my heart.
All my trust I place in thee,
Morrigan Morrigan Be with me...”

Jospehina then released a raven as Fein walked back to the group. He then turned to the crowd.

“Eirinn Go Brach!” he shouted.


The soldiers then pumped their cartridges into the hapless workers, killing them all in a bloodbath the world would not forget.