Criticality 11: Sanjuana’s Grievance
The Second Earth Special Police Force Base
If it were possible to add up the accumulation of days which a person thought that they would never see, watching the deposed Commissioner Gyro exit from the conference room might have ranked right up there with the unfathomable. The combined looks of astonishment on his closest Police Force officers were all the result of the actions by another who he thought was one of his closest Police Force officers. Ironically, the immediacy of any concern turned outward from a rather awkward personal issue in order to address a potential problem which would spiral out of control not more than one minute after the base was to have been without him.
“Do not retaliate,” the Commissioner said simply the only thing that he could say as two, unknown Internal Affairs agents immediately latched on and ushered him toward the former office he had previously been able to call his own when he came to work this morning. The badge and LUNC were long since stripped, and the only thing which was supplied as a parting gift was a box to be used to clean out his belongings from the desk that was now officially Pete’s.
“Not like this,” Pete said – sincerely not wanting any piece of this promotion.
It was debatable as to whether the scene of Commissioner Gyro being led away like a terminated coworker was as disconcerting as the scene of Nayra exiting that conference room with an overly smug look of being pleased with himself, his efforts, and his methods as Sylvia accompanied him and paid Pete, Julian, Slubbich, Vim, Yori, and Sec no mind. Probably for the better (there was nothing best about these times), had any one of them said anything in her direction, they would have been on the way out of the door alongside of their leader.
“This is why it is so important to do things by the book,” Slubbich accused.
Julian simply stared at Slubbich in awe.
“Slubbich,” Vim replied, “the Commissioner wrote that book.”
The Police Force officers would be fine, Commissioner Gyro thought. Pete was actually a very good leader, and when he was not, Julian would certainly pick back up the slack. It brought a smile to his face. Perhaps those two were not the best role models for Vim, but Slubbich really was.
For as bad as the times currently were, everything was set to become a whole lot worse, and Slubbich was the quintessential good cop who would never even engage in a game of Good Cop, Bad Cop. Refreshing as that was for a change around the Second Earth Special Police Force Base, the rest of these Police Force officers were not crooked cops by any means.
Vim was just green, and if he were any more green, he would be blue and yellow. Slubbich would be a much better influence on his formative development as a rookie than Pete or Julian – both of whom would confuse the issue for the young Police Force officer who needed a fair opportunity to decide what kind of a cop he ultimately wanted to be. His new partner would allow for that kind of untarnished development.
But what of Vim’s old partner, Sylvia? Wow. General Pile had warned the Commissioner to protect himself, except there was no way to see her defection coming, and now it was too late to do anything about it. He was officially neutralized and technically stripped of his rank, yet everybody continued to refer to him by that well-earned designation out of well-deserved respect.
This brought a smile to Commissioner Gyro’s lips until he sat down in the desk chair for what seemed like it would have been the final time and realized that his true fight was only beginning. With him indicted, he would be facing Sylvia’s fabricated charges in front of Judge Chatsis shortly. There was a big problem – bigger than the charges in the fact that they were being levied by a Police Force officer who was on probation, and he honestly did not want to discredit her, so she had not only the momentum but the credibility.
Honestly, the Commissioner could not discredit Sylvia – even if he wanted to. Her file was much cleaner than Pete and Julian’s and almost as stellar which was why it made her turning so unbelievable. He did not make it to this position by being such a bad judge of character, and Nayra had no leverage against her outside of the trumped-up charges which would have been thrown out once…
Four knocks came at door which, for the moment, startled the Internal Affairs agents. Despite them looking over Commissioner Gyro’s shoulder to make sure no funny business occurred while he was getting his personal effects together and about to be led out, this was supposed to have been a somewhat private time. A fleeting time of mixed emotions, part of him wanted it not to end, but an even larger part just wanted to get this embarrassment over with.
Poking a head inside of the open door, politely, was a man professionally dressed in a finely tailored suit with a bulky book bag which looked to be housing a laptop slung across his right shoulder. He waited for the nonverbal permission of the easing postures from the Internal Affairs agents.
To move this along, the Commissioner offered, “Can I help you?”
“Is this Commissioner Gyro’s office?” The man asked. “My services were requested.”
“Services?” The Commissioner questioned.
The man lowered the book bag as if to rest his back from the weight which was draped (apparently) uncomfortably off of a paining shoulder. He wound his arm around a few times at the joint in order to work some feeling and relaxation back into the rotator cuff. “Yes, my name is Jason Saint-Medievel.”
Wishful thinking put a damper Commissioner Gyro’s initial excitement of meeting this litigation legend – as if, for a moment, he thought Jason was actually here for him. But, this was one person, his extensive network did not contain, and the attorney only took highly selective cases of those who could either afford those services or were grandfathered in on a client list of the lawyer’s private practice – neither of which applied to him. “You must be looking for Police Force Officer Sylvia Lenorox.”
“See that’s the weirdest thing about it,” Jason admitted. “Initially, yes. That was my whole purpose for getting on the shuttle to come here. I’d do anything for the Lenorox family, but Police Force Officer Lenorox canceled on me just this morning. These things normally need to be made worth my time, and that’s a really quick way to burn a longstanding bridge, but I received another call shortly thereafter which requested that I take your case.”
“Another call?” The Commissioner was confused. “From whom?”
Normally these were conversations to be held in private, so Jason peered over at the Internal Affairs agents who were just standing there listening in and taking in all of this public information which might not have been meant to be so openly discussed or heard. He would not say another word until requested by his latest client, Commissioner Gyro.
Pleading out of the sheer inquisitiveness of the situation, the Commissioner authorized the continuation of their conversation, “They’re fine. Please, tell me.”
Jason divulged, “You’ve made friends within another family whose legal affairs I am also tasked with looking out for: The Smith’s.”
“Johnny and Charlene?” More Space Force intervention – Commissioner Gyro had to sit back in the chair out of astonishment. Now was the time to speak in private, so he requested of the Internal Affairs agents, “Can you give us just five minutes? This is my legal counsel, and consultation of Jason remains as my right – a right I never waived.”
Just outside of the Second Earth Special Police Force Base stood Billy on top of a subtle hill overlooking the motor pool. The area was sprinkled with recreational bike paths and was far enough distant away from the base that it did not pose any sort of security threat. He was awaiting the emergence of Sylvia but would have to settle on Sanjuana, for now, instead.
“How can you turn down your birthright?” Sanjuana walked up beside Billy to ask. He wore the traditional, crimson red garb of the Shokan which easily showcased his black belt by its contrast.
“The one that just sent you to your death?” Billy asked for clarification. “Or the one which promises to enslave your will if you succeed today?”
Sanjuana made no motion to put his hands on Billy but became animated in response to the vicious snipe. He said, “You disgraced me during the tournament! With your defeat, I would have had the opportunity to become something much more than Human. A loss to you in the first round? The Shokan barely even allowed me back into the dojo save for the opportunity it would have afforded them in my incessant ridicule!”
Still making no eye contact with Sanjuana, Billy responded, “That doesn’t have anything to do with me. You’re just a stepping stone to me, and Glove knows it. He knows that you can’t beat me and probably made you the deal only to dispose of you in a much more ironic fashion: Kill me and then be converted? Laughable.”
“It is an honor!” Sanjuana shouted. “You couldn’t possibly understand how hard things are in the universe. This ability to belong to something larger than yourself is comforting. To be selected is euphoric.”
“Dude,” Billy finally turned to address Sanjuana, face-to-face, “my own biological father sent you to kill me so that you become a converted slave of the New Alliance. That shi- doesn’t even make any sense!” Clearly, the Shokan was incapable of understanding how the Djibouti Clan student might not want to quietly go along with these matters.
Meeting the gaze unflinchingly and with a conviction which would not falter, Sanjuana countered, “You’re ungrateful. Master Glove’s sacrifices – everything he’s ever done, whether good or bad, had been done for you. And like a spoiled child, all you do is reject that love out of some much higher ordered sense of right and wrong. Where’s the justice in you turning your back on your father? I wish I’d had a man in my life who would put up a fraction of the sacrifices yours continues to suffer through.” Or maybe he was capable of grasping the gravity of the situation.
Dismissively, Billy mentioned, “We’re not going to agree on this.”
“The Djibouti Clan stole you away from the Shokan and poisoned your mind at such an early age,” Sanjuana rehashed, “that you never had a chance. We may be on opposing sides of an ideological struggle as well as a blood feud, but even you have to admit that neither side went about this the correct way. Your Master Acro is using you just as certainly as Master Glove is using me.
“Your words are surprisingly eloquent, hypnotic almost,” Billy complimented, “but I’ve already had this discussion with Acro, and he’s apologized – stating that I am free to leave the Djibouti Clan at any time. Glove hasn’t given me a choice on whether or not I can say no to the Shokan, obviously. So that’s all I can go on. With these types of things, it doesn’t matter who was originally at fault or who made the second wrong when you begin to trace everybody’s moves backward in time. The only thing that matters in these types of scenarios is the faction who is not only willing to stop the cycle but actually puts down their arms.”
Less agitated but equally as intense, Sanjuana replied, “Then that is a faction of fools. Their guise -”
Interrupting, Billy hit right back, “What guise? The Djibouti Clan is not attacking the Shokan. Your clan has the price on all of our heads. Maybe rescind that and we can have this discussion again.”
“You will accept the succession of the Shokan leadership position,” Sanjuana ordered, “or you will die today.”
“Wrong on both accounts,” Billy stated as he blindsided Sanjuana with a right cross which sent his opponent twirling to the ground! “There are only three people in this universe who can beat me, and even that won’t hold up too much longer, but unfortunately, you’re not one of them.”
Pete said of Nayra, “That guy’s such a fu–in’ cock.”
“Calm down, man,” Julian advised, “because you of all people now need to navigate his bullshi-.”
Pete, Julian, Vim, Slubbich, Yori, and Sec stood huddled around directly outside of the Commissioner’s office joined by the rest of the base who were all now awaiting the emergence of their true leader in order to deliver to him a hero’s sendoff as a result of all that he had made possible and done for them. Word of the horrible news had spread quickly, and those who did not at least admire or generally revere the Second Earth Special Police Force’s top cop were deeply in the minority among the numbers of this base.
“Guys,” Sec alerted while pointing to his Ear-To-Mouth Com, “I’ve gotta get back to dispatch. My lines are lighting up, and I need my console to field some of this stuff.”
Slubbich acknowledged, “Good dedication to your post. Take it easy.”
Everybody else in their circle waved as Sec made his way out of the chaos of an entire base standing around on an occasion which was much longer than any fifteen minute break. He would still be able to witness Commissioner Gyro’s exit, however, unlike what Pete was contemplating, and Julian had been working with the rugged cop long enough to be caught up in that whole finishing sentences thing. Both turned away from the group’s circle and entered their leader’s office.
“I’ve got to get out of here,” Pete admitted, “and let off some steam. You take it light, Commissioner.”
Glancing briefly over at Jason, Commissioner Gyro paused their conversation, “One second,” before standing up and walking over to Pete in order to shake his successor’s hand. “You take care of all of them.”
Pete nodded his approval of the request. The Commissioner was technically unable to give any orders at this point.
Julian caught sight of Jason sitting in front of Commissioner Gyro’s former desk, and marveled at what appeared to be an unfleeting resilience – once again, somehow, making a way out of no way, “I’m sure you’ll be right back here in no time,” as he shook right hands but pulled his leader in closely to wrap an earnest left arm around a good friend in order to say a temporary goodbye without saying it.
With right hands still locked together in mutual respect as the Commissioner and Julian pulled apart, a final, hearty shake sent Pete and his partner on their way out of the office. And with that, their leader returned to the seat behind the desk and the attention of Jason.
“I don’t believe we’ll have any problems in reestablishing your credibility,” Jason announced. “You have an entire base out there who has your back, and I’m willing to bet that other places where you’ve worked throughout the universe have coworkers who probably feel the same way as all of them out there.” He pointed, with a thumb, over his shoulder toward the doorway where a raucous gathering had quickly amassed outside of the office.
“Everybody except for Nayra,” Commissioner Gyro alerted.
A simple chuckle escape from Jason’s lips, “I’ve made a living off of taking down government officials who have overstepped their bounds. Your trial won’t even be about you by the time I get done. This’ll be a challenge, though, to be able to pull this off without harming the Lenorox name I’m sworn to uphold and Police Force Officer Lenorox who you’ve asked me not to discredit.”
With a pensively curled lower lip, the Commissioner wondered, “That’s why you get paid the big bucks, and as a result, I find myself indebted to the Smith’s.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have been around some of the most powerful figures during the reign of this Space Force empire,” Jason prefaced, “and I’ve also come to learn that those types of people don’t do any favors. They simply pay you accordingly for services already rendered.”
Feeling the blood on the side of his mouth and tasting it with his tongue from a crumple on his side, Sanjuana turned to Billy and remarked, “So this is how you honor your Djibouti Clan roots – by hitting me when I wasn’t looking?”
Billy laughed, “The Shokan are trying to kill everybody who I love, and you’re going to complain about this? You’re lucky that I didn’t just decide to kill you with a single punch! And the fact that you got caught by it proves that you’re out of your league.”
“No, Billy,” Sanjuana disagreed as he used only one arm in order to kip back up, “the fact that you didn’t finish me off when I allowed you the chance to do so means that you’re soft – not worthy of the Shokan’s reigns, and I will delight in taking them off of your lifeless body.”
This was an interesting twist in the turn of events – not so much that Sanjuana was holding back but because it had forced Billy into fighting for his status as Glove’s succession which was still a position that he did not want any piece of! With no time to contemplate either the implications or their associative ramifications, the Djibouti Clan student stepped back a half of a step into a fighting stance which could be used to withstand the onslaught of his opponent’s opportunistic fury to regain favor and a major boost of stature within the Shokan order.
“What do we know and don’t we know?” Pete quizzed as he was the first to make it outside into the motor pool.
“Ennead Tech Corp is now in league with the Space Force,” Julian answered as he followed Pete out of the door. “It stands a good chance to reason that Stalkord had the leaders of the company killed in a literally hostile takeover, but even more startling was the way in which they staged our initiation into an assignment that we still don’t have all of the details on.”
Their walk was unhurried all the way down to Julian’s car, so Pete found the time to make another assertion, “We’re being scapegoated – set up to fail. Whatever this mystery assignment, it’s almost assured that we have no possible chance of succeeding and will be held to account when things go horribly awry. The Space Force doesn’t need us for anything other than our dismantling.”
Unlocking the car doors to his Mustang, Julian sat down behind the wheel and expressed, “Well, that’s already happening. Something turned Sylvia and all but embarrassed the Police Force with the Cipher Coliseum incident. Two Space Force operatives were taken down – one of whom was taken out, so that became another embarrassment. Commissioner Gyro was just busted on corruption charges, and now, and I don’t mean anything by this, our most unstable cop is officially in charge.”
“You as-,” Pete shot back while closing the door to the passenger side and putting on his seat belt. “But you have a great point. We’re walking into a landmine which is going to see the Second Earth Special Police Force made to be defunct.”
“And to add an additional damper,” Julian brought up as he backed out of the parking space, “Retsepar is still out there.”
Noticing less and less of his craving for cigarettes as compared to the craving he had for answers, Pete stared out of the open window while Julian pulled away from the motor pool and countered with, “We still have loose ends stemming from the Ennead Building office manager rampage to the shootout at Staines Warehouse District.”
Almost as if waiting for directions, Julian simply drove in the first direction which he came to – cruising aimlessly. It went without saying, but his utterance came despite the wasted breath, “Second Earth is starting to go to he–.”
“Starting to?” Pete made mention, “We can’t even get off of this motherfu–er with the Space Force’s imposed travel restrictions! Between them, Ennead Tech Corp, and Death Corps, I can only seem to place Stalkord as the link to all of it. He probably had something to do with the Staines incident as well. This all just seems like a great big bit of misdirection because I can’t even fathom why this is happening. What’s the bigger picture? What could possibly be the end game? Who are even any of the players?”
“I’m missing the Commissioner already,” Julian sighed.
Vim could only shake his head at the realization that he was losing the people around him at an alarming rate. He told Slubbich and Yori, “I can’t believe Sylvia did this.”
“Believe it,” Yori replied in a rare occurrence of him being outside of his work area. Ironically, for things to have come to this point, Commissioner Gyro must have been a great man because nobody had ever seen the Head Engineer come and go from the base let alone leave his allotted space within it for any lengthy amount of time – certainly not an extended period such as this.
“The law always has a way of working itself out,” Slubbich dictated. “If the Commissioner is found to be not guilty, then he will most certainly be reinstated. Right now, Police Force Officer Lenorox simply has a grievance which must be heard. We mustn’t place fault on any party until the facts reveal themselves.”
“Is it too much to ask for this to be one great big misunderstanding?” Vim inquired.
Slubbich offered an observation, “One can only hope. It’s rare, but I’ve seen it happen before with both parties no more worse for wear than when they started out.”
All three of them looked up to the site of Jason exiting Commissioner Gyro’s former office, and with the bustle of the crowd moving toward his direction, it was clear that the time had come for their leader to depart. Resisting the momentous push of the masses who were attempting to muscle their way into position for so that they could each pay their respects, Yori managed to slip inside of the office – much to the dismay of the Internal Affairs agents who had been held up long enough from performing their escort duties and were actively blocking his approach.
“Yori?” The Commissioner had not expected to see him like this. He held up a nonthreatening hand in order to back the Internal Affairs agents off of the Head Engineer. Reluctantly, they obliged and vacated the room, once more, as they did.
The door to this office had always been open in the past, and although the circumstances might have been different currently, the policy had not changed. Seemingly, it never would – even if a Police Force officer decided to venture on over to the Jensen-Gyro home for advice. Commissioner Gyro smiled because, at that point, the officer would need to first get past his wife, Edith, as Yori had to get past the Internal Affairs agents here.
It was obvious that Yori needed to get something off of his chest, so the Commissioner simply allowed the Head Engineer to speak his mind, “I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to work in such a high profile environment.”
Modestly, Commissioner Gyro could not accept the credit for this, “I just needed an IT guy. You made the position what it is today.” With the box all but packed, he placed the final couple of trinkets inside before making his way around the desk to more easily address Yori on the way out.
“Well then,” Yori conceded, “thanks for allowing me the autonomy to express my quirky nature.”
“How long have you been an Enforcer,” the Commissioner deduced from Yori’s guilty disposition in having not made the moonlighting clear earlier, “working for General Pile?” There was no animosity – only the underscore of a centralized theme which had garnered him such loyalty. He knew his people.
Yori did not deny it, “Take care of yourself, Commissioner Gyro.” He extended an arm around his leader in order to escort the man outside to a chorus of jubilant roars and the next phase of an illustrious career.