Friday, November 24, 2017

The Queen of the Romans: Stark Raving Mad

It’s amazing how far under the radar the Spitzenkreiger fly. If there’s a group of people who pose as great a threat to the world as Rome does, it’s those “superheroes”. Should it surprise anyone? I don’t care if they’re not the ‘supernatural’ beings that exist in the comic book pages- they’re still elite crime fighters who have, time and again, proven they’re much stronger and much more intelligent than many of the best soldiers and police officers. If Tony Stark wanted to dominate the world, he could. I don’t get why the world loves them when the “heroes” could squash them like a bug.

Perhaps something is stopping them from wanting to dominate the world. If I could figure that out, I just might be able to get the upper hand on them…at least on Stark.

November 15, 2017,
14:33 local time,
Donald Trump Park,
Manhattan, New York

“What?” said Jasper Parker as he glanced at his phone. “What does he want now?”
“Who are you talking about?” said Parker’s best friend, Ned Leeds, his interest piqued.
“Happy just texted me out of the blue,” said Parker, still confused.
“What did he say?” said Ned.
“Said he wants to meet up with me as soon as he can,” said Parker, “says he’s in the area.”
“That’s it?” said Ned.
“That’s it,” said Parker, who shrugged.
“What could he want?” said Ned.
“I don’t know,” said Parker. “Ever since I turned down Stark to join the Sentries I haven’t heard from him.”
“Well, Tony had high hopes for you,” said Ned, “you took up Spider-Man when your father didn’t want to do it…Tony saved your behind many times…and you did give him the cold shoulder.”

Parker gave Ned a look.

“What?” he said, still disbelieving. “No…Tony Stark wasn’t mad at me…at least he didn’t sound like he was mad at me…I mean…he understood where I was coming from…I thought I was ready but I wasn’t and then there’s May…and…I told him all that…at least I think I told him all that…I mean…he understands…at least I think he understands…” Parker’s voice trailed off before resuming with anxiety in his voice. “I mean…if you were him, you’d understand? Right? Right?

“Right,” said a booming voice after approaching the two teenagers at the bench. “Tony understands…don’t worry Jasper.”

Both Ned and Parker looked up, their mouths agape and stunned in silence.

“What?” said the man, the burly Harold “Happy” Horgan holding out his arms. “I don’t get a handshake or even a ‘hello’?”
“Happy…um,” said Parker, still in shock. “It’s…it’s so great to see you again…I…I…uh, how did you find us anyway?”
“You know,” said Happy with a smirk, “Tony has his ways.” Happy then saw Parker start examining his phone. “Your Squawker profile also says you checked in to Central Park about fifteen minutes ago, and seeing how this is a nice day…I doubt you would have left very quickly.”
“Haven’t I told you to turn off the location feature?” said Ned, shaking his head. “Do you want people to stalk you? Because that’s how you get people to stalk you.”
“Come on,” said Parker, letting out a huff, “how am I supposed to do this whole ‘friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man thing’ if people can’t find me?”

“Guys, guys, guys,” said Happy, using his hands to signal the boys to relax. “It’s all good…just be responsible, that’s all I’m asking.”

“Anyway, Jasper,” said Happy, “now that I’m here…can we go somewhere a little more private?”

Jasper glanced at Ned, as trepidation set in. Ned gave Jasper a nod, which relieved Jasper for a minute and allowed him to walk with Happy to his limousine.

Once inside the back seating area, a familiar, very exuberant voice greeted him.

“Hey,” said Tony Stark, Jr., the owner and operator of Stark Industries, a company geared to training and supplying elite law enforcement agents that came to be known colloquially as “superheroes”. The well-coiffed, slender but physically-fit Stark took over the Industries from his legendary father, expanding it into a worldwide elite force known as the Worldwide Action Response Department, or WARD.

Stark and Parker clasped hands with Stark patting Parker on the shoulder, which eased Parker’s mind immediately.

“How are you doing, kiddo?” said Stark with a smile as Parker tried to maintain eye contact, still star-struck by the encounter. “I get it- you’re still overwhelmed. That’s okay.” He then reached into the mini-fridge and offered Parker a bottle. “Chardonnay?”
“I’m, um,” said Parker sheepishly, “I’m not old enough to drink.”

Stark didn’t miss a beat. “Good answer,” he said, giving Parker a smile and a point of his finger. Stark then reached back into the fridge.

“Here’s that sparkling orange juice I know you like,” said Stark, handing Parker a bottle that he opened excitedly. “Got it just for you because I don’t like that stuff…you know me, I’m little old school.”
“It’s okay Mr. Stark,” said Parker, drinking his orange juice with glee, “you don’t have to explain.”

“I should probably get to why I called you here,” said Stark as Parker looked on with interest. “So we were thinking about that last time we met-”
“Please,” said Parker, interjecting and stammering, “please don’t tell me you’re upset…I mean, I’m sorry, I’m really-”
“No, no, no,” said Stark, interrupting quickly. “Me, upset? Not at all.” Stark could see the relief overcoming Parker. “You have school, and your aunt, and I was asking you to fill some pretty big shoes…that wasn’t quite fair of me. So, I understand.”

Stark began to get more excited, gesturing as he talked.

“Anyway,” he said, “I was thinking about your whole ‘friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man’ thing and I realized this could be a good thing for Stark…we don’t just have elite, roving crime fighting units but also locals…people like you who know the community, you’re trusted and valued by the community, you know the good guys and the bad guys and how things work around the area and thus would have a better handle on recognizing community threats as opposed to some distant, far-off ‘fed’ would…there’s an opportunity here that I just realized. I picked up my father’s industry because I care about people and I care about justice, and I feel that…even though the Sentries have done a lot of good work, we just don’t…connect…to the locals like I feel we should.

“So I want to create a program called ‘Sentries in your Neighbourhood’. WARD-approved, WARD-trained and Stark supplied agents who are from the local neighbourhoods and whose only task is to protect those neighbourhoods, leaving the Wardens for the bigger tasks and the Sentries for the biggest ones.”

Parker gave Stark a confused look before Stark continued confidently.

“We’re still sorting it out, don’t worry!” he said. “What I want to know is…do you want in? I still believe you got what it takes to be a Sentry…but I get that you’re not ready for that level of commitment. So why not be the Sentry for your school? It’d be perfect, I think.”

Parker, overwhelmed by Stark’s offer, was stunned to silence. He wanted to jump on the offer, but then he thought about his aunt May and his schoolwork, and he wondered if he truly was mature enough to take on such a role. I’m still a kid…I need to do kid stuff, he thought, but being a Sentry would be so cool!

“Think about it,” said Stark before he and Parker parted ways. “We’re not going to get started on things right away…but I want you to be our first guy. Think about it…call Happy when you’ve made your decision, okay?”

Stark smiled as he saw Parker leave.

“He’s a good kid,” said Stark, after Happy stepped inside the car and traded places with another bodyguard.
“He is a very good kid,” said Happy curtly.
“I know, I know,” said Stark with a sigh, sensing Happy wanted to discuss more urgent matters. “Gosh, Happy, can I not enjoy one moment?”
“Yeah, but the lawsuit,” said Happy, “we need to get our papers in.”
“My wife said she’d take care of that,” said Stark.
“Then why do I have a text message from the lawyer saying we haven’t turned it in yet?” said Happy.
“That’s just lawyer stuff…trying to intimidate us,” said Stark, trying to brush it off.
Happy just gave him a look.
“OK,” he said. “I’ll text my wife to remember…but please, don’t worry about it.”

November 17, 2017,
09:25 local time,
Colonial Courthouse,
Vancouver, Roman Columbia

“OK,” said Stark Industries lawyer Lester Serling, beginning his line of questioning to Tonya Pierson, representing herself. She was once “Bullseye”, a Stark-trained superhero known as a “Warden” who worked for the Kelowna Watchmen until she was fired by the Watchmen after they ruled she overstepped her bounds even though she committed a lawful killing. “Let me get this straight- you said you merely shot the assailant in an effort to stop the attack, is that correct?”
“Yes that is,” said Pierson, defiantly.
“…and the attack didn’t stop,” said Serling, his cutting baritone commanding the room.
“No it did not,” said Pierson. “I fired a warning shot and when that did not stop the attack, I fired at the perpetrator. I did not intend for it to be a killshot.”

Serling laughed as he paced the courtroom.

“You said you fired a warning shot,” said Serling, “but forensics never did find the bullet that missed Mr. Rodney.”
“That’s because forensics didn’t do their job,” said Pierson. “I know I shot that bullet.”
“You know,” said Serling, “but no eyewitness report said you fired that warning shot. Every shot you fired hit Mr. Rodney.”
“Eyewitness reports are unreliable,” said Pierson, “everyone knows that. Besides, the people in that neighbourhood…they hate the police. They have every reason to concoct a story that would make me look bad.”
“Is that so?” said Serling, “and you know this how?”
“Give me a break, Lester!” snapped Pierson, which earned a stern rebuke from the judge, Justice David Clarkson.
“You too, now, eh?” said Pierson.
“Again, you’re in a court of law, Ms. Pierson,” said Clarkson. “You must still respect decorum.”
“I have no respect for a judicial system that is stacked against me,” said Pierson, “nor do I have respect for a company that seeks to put profits ahead of its ethical and moral responsibilities.”

A thunderous howl erupted from the crowd, mostly from Pierson’s supporters, which required several strikes of the gavel by Clarkson before he could restore order.

“I actually think it’s quite funny that you talk about ethical and moral responsibilities,” said Serling, sensing an opportunity. “You said in your statement that the deceased was found harassing an Irishman, is that correct?”
“Yes it is,” said Pierson. “Eugene Rodney was seen calling Patrick Bardsley an ‘earn’, which is an epithet the Caucs use to degrade an Irish person who has accumulated wealth. So not only was this a violent assault, it was a hate crime.”
“Caucs, eh?” said Serling, sensing he was getting somewhere. “Short for Caucasians…the catch-all term you Irish use to describe all the white people that are not Irish, is that correct?”
“I resent you saying, ‘you Irish’,” said Pierson, seething with anger.
“Answer the question, Ms. Pierson,” said Clarkson.
“Yes,” said Pierson, “ ‘Caucs’ is the short form for Caucasians…but you turning this into a race-baiting scheme is abhorrent at best, counsel.”

Serling smiled smugly, picking up a sheet of paper from his desk and showing it to the judge.

“I’d like to present this Squawk,” said Serling. “Sent from Ms. Pierson’s personal account, dated July 19, 2014, where she, ever so subtly, states, ‘the world would be a better place without the Caucs.’ I would also state, for the record, that this wasn’t the only social media post Ms. Pierson has made where she used the term ‘Caucs’…she has used it on many different occasions, all of which, as you will see, are definitely in a racist connotation…of course, I personally believe any iteration of ‘Cauc’ is racist, but…what do I know? I’m just a ‘Cauc’ anyway, right Ms. Pierson?”

Serling smiled smugly as Pierson boiled with rage, doing all she could not to snap in the courtroom.

“What does that have to do with my case and whether or not my firing was legal?” said Pierson, not hiding her anger.
“Well,” said Serling, “Mr. Rodney is, as you would describe, a ‘Cauc’ who assaulted an Irishman in what you describe as a hate crime. That, we are not disputing…but, on my end, you clearly showed no restraint on Mr. Rodney and shot him dead because you hate him.” Serling’s tone then rose as he continued. “You let your emotions get the better of you and in doing so denied Mr. Rodney a chance at justice. You viewed him as a despicable Cauc and you shot him dead…in cold blood, when you could have just grazed him and knocked him over, still allowing for an arrest. I think it goes without saying that if you want a job as a Warden or a Sentry, you should be able to put your biases behind…but, I guess, since Rodney was a Cauc he doesn’t get that same benefit of the doubt, now does he?”

Pierson stood up and laid into Serling with her voice and gestures.

“Race played no part in this!” said Pierson. “How dare you even think I would do such a thing?! You clearly decide, to prove your own narrative, to disregard all the positive interactions I had with Caucs while on the job, including the numerous Caucs that I assisted while I was Bullseye. You also fail to understand that even the best shooters don’t hit their targets- the criminal court cleared me because this isn’t Hollywood- sharpshooters aren’t always sharp.”

Serling smiled but pressed on.

“That was solely the prosecutor’s decision,” said Serling. “We never got to test it in a court of law. Here’s what I do know…you were able to shoot 100 Pepsi cans from a distance of three miles, knocking each off its pedestal in order without missing. You were hardly ten feet from Eugene Rodney and you struck him dead in the temple…twice. If that doesn’t signal intent then I don’t know what does.

“Furthermore, I will note that your arrest record shows you were far harsher on Caucs than you were on the Irish as compared to your colleagues. On two separate occasions, you confronted a Roman-descended and a Welsh-descended shoplifter by tackling them and punching them repeatedly in the face after you had taken them down. When an Irishwoman shoplifted, you took her back to the store and paid for the items yourself! Tell me, why does a Roman and a Welshman qualify for a beating but an Irishwoman gets free clothes?”
“The Romans and the Welsh haven’t faced the oppr-” started Pierson.
“Spare me your ‘privilege’ spiel,” interrupted Serling harshly. “All people are equal under the law…but you clearly see otherwise. Face it, Ms. Pierson- if you had done your job properly, you would have treated everyone the same way, and not have a different standard for your countrymen.”

Pierson wanted to object to Serling’s use of “countrymen” but Serling loudly and brusquely told the judge he was ending his line of questioning, preventing her from doing so.

Although Pierson called upon another witness- a shooting expert who contended that, despite her accuracy as a sharpshooter, there was still a chance she didn’t shoot Rodney dead- Pierson’s fate was sealed by Serling’s cross-examination. When Clarkson delivered his ruling over a week later, he agreed with Serling that Pierson’s ideological motivations played a factor in Rodney’s death, and he believed that Pierson intentionally shot him dead as a result. Thus, he dismissed Pierson’s lawsuit and found for Stark Industries, ordering Pierson to pay Stark’s legal fees.

Because of these obligations, Pierson was forced to sell almost everything she had- or, at least she would, if she hadn’t decided to flee. That night, after crying herself to sleep, she bought a plane ticket to Munich, where she could safely hide amongst the other vagabonds who infested the relative anarchy of the Western European Confederation.

Because of who she was, it would not be long before she found an unexpected ally.

November 18, 2017,
12:09 local time,
Wayne Enterprises Complex,
Paradise County, Region of Las Vegas

Bruce Wayne, Jr., had many thoughts as he exited his corporate complex and headed to his car to head out for his lunch break. The grandson of the original Batman, North America’s first superhero, Wayne built his grandfather’s empire from a conglomerate of assets into the Region of Las Vegas’ effective government, reviving the city from its crime-infested past. Advanced irrigation systems allowed the desert community to become self-sustainable, with immense wealth generated by tourism dollars as Wayne owned and operates all the casinos and resorts in Vegas, many of which the Enterprises built.

Although Wayne’s grandfather and his father, Thomas, both took on the mantle of The Dark Knight, Wayne was often critical of the concept of superheroes, claiming they helped foster ideas of “vigilantism”. The Waynes held sway throughout the 20th century, where jurisdictions often grappled with whether or not to hire superheroes of their own or maintain their conventional police forces (most opted to combine the two), but, following the Third World War, the superhero industry collapsed along with the United States and the Soviet Union, presenting Wayne with an opportunity. Using his funds to rebuild police forces across the continent to fill the vacuum left by the departed superheroes, Wayne ushered a revival of conventional police forces in North America in the latter years of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st. The centrepiece of the operation became the Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) unit that he created for Las Vegas in 1997 (simultaneously hanging up the Batman costume forever) and the 2003 revival of the Behavioural Analysis Unit, both of which spawned the CSI and Criminal Minds TV shows in their honour, respectively.

Yet it was inevitable that a culture that grew up on superheroes would interfere with the new reality and, before long, many of the police officers began acting like the superheroes they were supposed to replace. Law enforcement agents sought more and more to gain glory and fame, leading to a police culture that never worked a case unless it was “easy” and could give the officers lots of prestige. It got so bad that in 2016 a scathing report by renowned investigator and prosecutor Mike Milner effectively tarnished the reputation of police officers in North America forever, enabling Stark to gain a foothold in North America and convince the vast majority of police jurisdictions to replace their staff with small teams of superheroes, ones that Stark would supply himself.

Meanwhile, as Stark’s star rose, Wayne’s fell, as, although Milner took great pains not to criticize him, the public still believed Wayne, as the visible figure behind the “hero cops” was the one responsible for the issues that led to their conduct. No matter how many times he said he wasn’t responsible for their training and that he couldn’t fund the police services all on his own, the public just wouldn’t believe him, opting more and more to go for those “heroes” that Wayne detested.

Which is why Stark’s decision to create “Sentries on Your Street”- troubled him, making him spend almost all morning trying to come up with a strong enough statement denouncing the initiative. Superheroes in your neighbourhood? he thought, that’s either going to allow the neighbourhoods to embrace their own kind of vigilantism and further assert their autonomy or the neighbourhoods will see the heroes as extensions of a central power. Or both. Either way…it can’t be good.

In the middle of his thoughts, a voice called out to him just as he got to his car.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Wayne,” said Danforth Grayson, freezing Wayne in his tracks.
“What do you want?” fired back Wayne. “Shouldn’t you be in a jail somewhere?”
“If you think I’ve committed a crime then why don’t you arrest me right now?” said Grayson with a smug smile.
“I don’t know what country you’re a citizen of anymore,” said Wayne, “and The Virus would have a field day if I were to ‘unfairly’ target you.”

Grayson could only chuckle. A former criminal mastermind, Grayson now used his time to run the worldwide advocacy group “The Virus”, which pledged to be a voice for all of the world’s underprivileged classes. They proved to be quite successful protesters, with the movement’s ability to spark the Assyrian Revolution- which felled the Aramean Empire and propelled Anatu to the throne of the revived Assyrian Empire- proof that they had the power to bring anyone to its knees.

They were often denigrated as “just a bunch of students” and were seen as “soft” because they tended to prefer peaceful means, images Grayson played with in his response.

“What?” he said, feigning fear, “are you afraid of a bunch of college kids? You took down The Joker…what’s The Virus to you?”
“First of all,” said Wayne, annoyed. “The Joker was just a TV series thing and…I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but…I’m not the Batman anymore. I’m just Bruce Wayne.”

Grayson’s mouth went agape.

“No? Really?” he said, feigning shock. “I had no idea!”
“Why are you wasting my time?” said Wayne, starting to feel the pangs of hunger. “You usually don’t show up unless you have something important…so, speak.”
“Oh I got nothing,” said Grayson. “I just love annoying you.”

Wayne then pulled out his phone.

“OK then,” he said, “I’m just going to call security and they’ll escort you from the premises.”
“That’s too bad,” Grayson said, “then you won’t hear about Bullseye.”

Wayne stopped typing on his phone and put it away.

“Bullseye?” he said.
“Yeah, you know,” Grayson said curtly. “Tonya Pierson…fired by Stark for overkill.”
“OK,” said Wayne, “I already knew that…and I know the decision didn’t go in her favour. Even though I think she acted well within her rights.”
“I come on her behalf,” said Grayson.
“You do?” said Wayne, suddenly interested.
“You want to take down Stark and so does she,” said Grayson. “Now, I have the connections, but I don’t quite have the money necessary to fund an operation like that. You do…in fact, if you wanted to, you could fund ten Stark Industries, and in a year, we could overwhelm Stark’s heroes and show the world just how fallacious it is to rely on them.”
“I’m not sure I could fund ten Stark Industries,” said Wayne, who thought with his recent struggles whether or not he could even fund one.
“Whatever,” said Grayson, “it’s just hyperbole. The point is, you’ve got the funds and the motivation to bring down Stark- and you can have a very powerful ally.”

Wayne chuckled.

“Who would that ally be?” he said with a wry smile. “You and your bunch of college kids?”
“Yes,” said Grayson with a straight face.

Wayne nodded his head ever so slightly, intrigued by Grayson’s response.

“What exactly is my role in all this?” he said, looking on intently.
“You will agree to fund The Virus,” said Grayson, “and we’ll do everything in our power to paint the superheroes as extensions of the establishment, quickly souring their reputation with the public. You will also agree to fund Bullseye’s efforts.”
“…and what does she want to do?” said Wayne.
“She wants her own army of superheroes,” said Grayson, “ones that will fight the establishment and give the power back to the people. Ones that will fight for the marginalized and the oppressed, ones that will inevitably be oppressed by the superheroes themselves.”

Wayne held out his hand and interrupted Grayson.

“Hold on,” he said, “just one second….you want me to fund criminals? Is that correct?”
“No,” said Grayson, expecting the response, “I want you to fund superheroes. Real ones, not the fake warriors that Stark thinks he’s creating. Think about it Bruce…your grandfather took on the mantle of Batman because Las Vegas needed a hero. Now the world needs a hero to save it from itself…you and I both know Stark has just opened the doors to give the narcissistic idealists everything they’ve ever wanted…extremism will run rampant because now they’ve got the ability to project and impose like they couldn’t before. You and I both know we need to stop it, because heroes are supposed to help people…not create their own agendas. Sentries on Your Street will only make the problem worse and while Stark can’t see that possibility now we both know it’s only a matter of time.”

Wayne sighed, pondering Grayson’s plan. He didn’t like the idea of getting behind a superhero in order to combat other superheroes, no matter what the cost, since he feared he’d only be fuelling the very vigilantism he wants to wipe out…but if the ends justify the means…

“Think about it Brucey,” said Grayson as he and Wayne parted with a hearty handshake. “A war is coming…we gotta make sure we’re on the right side.”

November 19, 2017,
16:49 local time,
Riverside Apartment Complex,
Munich, Bavaria

“How’d it go with Bats?” said Pierson after letting Grayson into her apartment, a small bachelor pad that was only big enough to fit her bed, a small kitchen and bathroom, and a couch.

Grayson put down his stuff and sighed.

“I figured that loony wouldn’t help us,” said Pierson, shaking her head.
“He didn’t say ‘no’,” said Grayson. “He just didn’t say ‘yes’, either. Which I expected…asking Bruce Wayne to get into the criminal world was not going to be easy.”
“Not even telling him that he’d be fighting Stark would do it?” said Pierson with a sigh.
“I guess not,” said Grayson. “I figured that was the one card we had…his ‘police department’ experiment didn’t work so he was out of options to compete against Stark…but I’ll give him credit, he is a man of his principles.”

Pierson flashed a restrained smile. She wanted to mention that Bruce was also a man of money, something she did not have. Her savings allowed her to get a place in Munich few could afford, but her savings was all she had. Grayson and The Virus agreed to help her out, but there was only so much crowd-funding could do.

“Tonya,” said Grayson, trying to stay positive. “Remember, you still have the public’s support, especially here in Europe. The crowd-funding will eventually turn around in your favour…and, besides, your friends in the alt-left will definitely help you out, because they know the kinds of struggles the Irish have in this world. Everything will take time…you just have to be patient.”

Pierson smiled, appreciative of Grayson’s talk.

“Makes me feel a little better,” said Pierson. “The good news is, someone’s going to pay me to train them…if all goes well, we’ll be one step closer to the army we dream of.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Grayson after a wide smile.

A few minutes later, Pierson’s phone went off.

November 21, 2017,
07:31 local time,
Riverside Apartment Complex,
Munich, Bavaria

The fury was relentless. Sparring with an aspiring fighter who called himself “The Hammerer”, Bullseye found it difficult to keep up her defenses. He was strong too, she noted, with a lightning-level quickness to his feet and overall ground game that made his fast punches that much harder to take.

As the fight wore on, Bullseye was able to gain the upper hand, which she showed with one well-placed uppercut that felled The Hammerer immediately.

“You need to learn to pace yourself,” said Bullseye, sweating but not tired, a contrast to The Hammerer, exhausted and crumpled to the floor. “You’re wearing yourself out, and more experienced fighters will take advantage of that. Otherwise, good job.”

Bullseye then helped The Hammerer get to his feet, greeting each other with a hearty hug. The Hammerer then took a shower before parting, after which Bullseye called Danforth Grayson.

“Hammerer went well,” said Bullseye. “You’ve found a lot of good candidates.”
“Thanks,” said Grayson. “A lot are buying in to The Virus’ message.”
“How are we with the weapons?” said Bullseye.
“He’s come through with them,” said Grayson, which put a smile on Bullseye’s face.
“Good,” she said. “He’s become a very good ally. Keep me posted.”

November 24, 2017,
23:15 local time,
Virtue Guards Headquarters,
Constantinople, Byzantium

I’ve got to figure out something, thought Donald Diego, as he spent a late night at the office contemplating his latest case. He had no leads, and every search he initiated of Virtue’s databases gave him no inspiration. It was about as dry as a night as it could be, and it was frustrating for Diego.

“F***,” said Diego, slamming his desk hard. “There must be something.”

Then a song came on the radio and suddenly Diego was inspired. He listened further before going on his computer. Afterwards, he shut it off and left the office, getting the inspiration he needed to explore a lead the song gave him.