Week 35: Black Ops, Big Heart [Unedited]
For the astute, history dictated that some events show a person who the person happens to be while others show this same person what the person needs to be. A third part existed to that narrative, but Boyd could not think of what it was at the moment. Since the engagement phase of his mission on Dio Qze, he realized that sleep had not been anywhere among the mission objectives. There was still some time yet until the rendezvous with some relatively friendlier faces, so he took a portion of the remaining time before then to lay his head back and rest - to close his eyes, for just a moment:
Overnight arraignments. Was crime really so rampant on this planet that judges needed to work around three different shifts in order to address it all? Either that, or people were absolutely losing their minds - spiraling into sin, madness, and moral desolation.
Whatever it was called, Boyd veered away from the nonsense. Life happened to be really different in the past for him. Pushing the throttle of a Lotus Esprit. he glided between the sparse traffic which was out that dark, rainy evening with ease.
Yeah, Boyd was pulling luxurious things like that back then. He got a kick out the idea that the only way to get inside the vehicle was to step down into it. But as far as being materialistic, that particular trait was not him. There was one car and no flashy clothes, jewelry, or homes to match. His means were modest, so this mobile treat happened to be the result of long hours, doing without, and saving up. One could only imagine the associative appreciation which accompanied the accomplishing of such an unlikely feat.
Boyd would have never paid for those other items. Jeans, t-shirts, and a windbreaker (because of tonight's warm rain) were the extent of his wardrobe. He was far from enamored by jewelry. One house was enough. But this car was different than that other stuff. It was the technology which net a certain electronic fixation that an elegant fabric, flashy jewelry, or another residence just could not match.
A technophile, Boyd was not, but a person deserved to splurge every once in a while. He pulled into the courthouse parking lot and parked far away from the building so as to not net even the idea of anybody coming close to the Lotus in order to be able to scratch it. The practice also gave him an opportunity to admire the vehicle's workmanship under the dim lighting which highlighted its lines and the subtle steam which emanated from the chassis as the rain beat down upon the car but rolled off as helpless beads due to the protection from the latest coat of wax.
Inside the courthouse, Boyd was greeted by a much older woman that his older brother, Encsurfra, happened to be dating. Her name was Farrah Crispell. She was pregnant and could have been old enough to be their mom. The relationship was eerie, but it paid dividends since his brother's lady friend also happened to be a lawyer who was willing to take this current, pending, and ongoing case (which had most of them all there this evening) cheaply - as in free.
"Your mom's over here," Farrah ushered with an extended left arm that led the way in the direction of some corner-based seating which created a waiting area. Even for this time of night, she was dressed professionally - wearing a pantsuit which did not exactly hide the baby bump but played it down some.
The floor was rife with cubicles, but they were justifiably unoccupied at this time of night. Only a skeleton crew of legal counsel, night shift prosecution, administrative staff, bailiffs, parole officers, and the like were sauntering listlessly about as the rigors of the banal daily grind managed to seep into the evening hours.
Encsurfra actually worked the third shift, so he was not able to attend this evening's overnight arraignment session. His stand-in (Farrah) would hopefully be more than sufficient, and Boyd was obviously willing to take up the remainder of the emotional slack - hugging their still-seated mom upon sight. Offers of hope regarding the night's proceedings were premature, so nobody went there for the sake of allowing things to play out before jumping to innocuous conclusions that might only get one's hopes up only to see them be dashed later. No worse off, there was no use in even getting on that roller coaster. The levied charges were serious, and their consequences of a negative judgment would have been that much worse plus more worthy of the fleeting optimism.
Not meaning to be hurried so much as judicious, Farrah suggested, "We should get in the courtroom. Enas' case is up next."
Enas Yorl was Boyd and Encsurfra's middle sister - Enderbrook being the youngest. Her last name happened to be Yorl at the moment because she had been married and took the name of her husband, Tauzin, who was also the lead witness against her. Pending on the flow of these proceedings, those two probably would not be together all that much longer.
A crime of passion, Enas had happened upon Tauzin and his loin-based satisfaction during what must have been one of 'one too many' trysts. The encounter understandably sent Boyd's sister into such a rage where she blacked out, knocked her cheating husband out, and very nearly took the extramarital affair out. The law might have actually seen it that way and humored the plea for leniency, but the events of the latter part from that last sentence were what basically had any chance at clemency thrown out.
One of the more graphic entries in Boyd's history, the police report alleged that Enas had taken her frustrations out on the other woman in the worst of possible power trips - a sexual assault that was clearly nonconsensual. And rape cases were impossible to beat when there was a witness, a victim, plus DNA. But this was still his sister, so he happened to be automatically allied by family, although thoughts concerning the actual victim made him wonder if that person had any true knowledge about the infidelity occurring.
Somewhat detached from the details of the whole situation despite blood, Boyd wondered why Enas who had obviously been wronged, blamed the other woman harder than Tauzin. Perhaps, in his own mind, she was already convicted. Certainly, no justification existed for that kind of acting out. Once the embrace concluded, he turned the majority of any lingering concern toward his mom.
After helping the matriarch of his family to her feet, they trailed Farrah toward the double doors which led to the bulk and length of the courthouse structure - a wide open area that happened to be encased in towering glass window-type walls and featured its own escalators. Boyd must have been allowed to enter from the office area on the opposite side from where the general public was usually admitted since the other side of this massive hall must have featured the gymnasium-sized torture area that mobs of prospective jurors were forced to sit in prior to potentially being selected to perform their duty.
This was the antiquated method, and the Space Force had since phased out trials by juries of one's peers because the system was broken, jurors rarely wanted to perform their so-called civic duty at the expense of a real day's pay, and the angst behind what felt like an inconvenience was often extended via a fatigue-slanted and monotony-alleviating decision. Judges no longer just oversaw the proceedings, moved the process along, and doled out the punishments or acquittals. They actually were now empowered to pass the totality of this judgment with a set of flowchart-based procedures which needed to be adhered to in order to prevent mistakes. Ironically, things were much more cut-and-dry in this manner. Similar to putting annoying automated attendants on customer service phone lines, the thought of involving the public in the judicial system was a good idea in theory but largely a failure in practice.
Catching Boyd's eye as he held one of the double doors open for the ladies to enter through first was the scene of what looked like a parole officer animatedly advising his client or parolee. Something drew him to hold back and watch a bit more of the scene.
"No further!" A finger-pointing admonishment silenced the parolee underneath a verbal scolding which froze Boyd in some rather nosy tracks. He should have followed his mom and Farrah through that door. He should not have stopped, watched, and gotten sucked in.
And of that last part - sucked in, Boyd sighed of the gross understatement as he readjusted his uneasy slumber in order to come to terms with and finish out the recollection. Kids were so impressionable, ideological, stupid. Even in their twenties.
The parole officer continued, "Tax evasion - what the fu-- is that? Are you trying to embarrass me? You're trying to make me look like an utter fool! I put my name on the line for you! How does that even happen? How do you not pay your taxes? The Space Force takes a flat ten percent from everybody," and looked like he was lurching to smack the parolee before enunciating, "automatically!"
Not much time had passed since Boyd started lingering behind the rest of his party, but he was curious to see how this conversation (which did not concern him) would pan out. The noticing had only been for a few seconds during what appeared to be a slowed processional - a funk of stasis which felt like the indecipherable tread through molasses.
Tax evasion was a basic impossibility in the time of Space Force rule because cumbersome tax codes (which were fraught with loopholes and gobs of incentives for those who understood how to leverage them) had long since been thrown out. There was no tax day, so the onus for claiming earnings and deductions was removed from the individual, the business, and the organization. All that the megapower cared about was its ten percent. Whether a person made one single dollar or some multiuniversal conglomerate made a trillion dollars, ten percent was the rule, and there were no exceptions. They designed, owned, and maintained the payment systems, but their generosity in creating a functionality (which saved all who used it untold amounts of money in time and forced legal compliance by just taking the appropriate funds along the way from the profits being generated) did not extend to rounding errors. Extracurricular means of making ends signified illegality, and there was no justification for a citizen cheating the system.
Many who tried had also attempted to expatriate themselves, but time stamps always accompanied payday. There was no postdating profit for the sake of the government netting a lesser tax windfall. Ten percent. Laundering money in all its formerly legal and less than legal forms for the purposes of concealing it within complex investments which needed a supercomputer to sort through the calculations and decipher the deception were barred. Ten percent. The pain of paying tax had been eliminated, but the Space Force was not playing around with the number - not two percent, not five percent, not nine point five percent. Ten percent.
The parolee must not have heard. Boyd had no idea how the person tried to cheat the system but thought that however the shadiness was tried, it must have been foolish in any event. He turned to leave the office area.
"You wait here," the parole officer ordered to the parolee. "Don't you dare move. I'd call the Space Force on you myself, but you wouldn't make it far anyway. Yeah good luck with getting a cab let alone a shuttle flight off this planet. Just stay there! I'm done with you for now.
Sir! Excuse me, sir!"
Rule number one was to never turn around in such instances. Boyd could not imagine how that parole officer would have been talking to him. There was no segue, so he refused the trap of eye contact, and continued on his way out the door...
...that was until the parole officer called out, "Enderbrook Boyd is it? Wait," and walked using an expeditious caution in some nice dress shoes with smooth bottoms and zero tread across what might have apparently been a slick floor.
Frozen by the uncanny occurrence, Boyd knew that he should have run. Even being in his twenties, this did not exempt him from the dangers of talking to strangers. Predatory behavior was almost exacerbated because it was that much easier when adults so often let down their built-up childhood guards.
"Yeah, I thought that was you. My name's Gregoire Desautels," he claimed. "I'm not going to waste your time, but I'd like to help out your family situation."
This was quickly becoming one of those hindsight/foresight things. In retrospect, Boyd should have declined the offer. At the time however, he could barely refuse.
Gregoire reminded Boyd of the father figure that happened to be missing throughout this phase of his life, but familial feelings did not exist toward the strange man. The guy was slick - a slick talker and a shifty character who refused to hide that fact. It was virtually impossible to gain a read on the person from actions...or words, "I think that you know it. Your older brother's not even here, so he knows it. Soon, your mom will come to terms with it. Your sister's going to spend some time behind bars where she'll wind up being on the receiving end of the turning out.
That's not meant to sound in any way crass because I'm just stating facts. The crime wasn't heinous enough to get her frozen away on Planet Exile. And, it's not petty enough to get it overlooked based off first time offense. This means that she'll be sentenced to general population which still exists like one of those grimy hour-long dramas on your view-screen.
I can help you."
Well fine - Boyd thought, but at what cost - he wondered?
"Back in the day," Gregoire explained, "the prosecution and the defense (who were actually quite buddy-buddy outside the courtroom) would cut mutual deals which benefited them more than it ever helped their respective clients, but your family has nothing to offer: No network of connections that we can sick our vice units on. No (underworld) family ties that we can piggyback off of. Not even a simple snitch' confession."
So this Gregoire was Space Force. That would make sense, sort of.
He continued or clarified rather, "I actually work for an offshoot of the Space Force which is seeking a few good men and women. We'll supply all the training. You'll also make a decent wage."
'You'll' was used instead of 'you'd'. Was this decision already decided? And why in the universe was this guy recruiting workers in the middle of the night at a courthouse? Especially someone as random as Boyd?
"In return, I can get your sister into a counseling program," Gregoire surmised, "and everybody can call it a day. Don't think I didn't notice the car that you pulled up in. I've done my research on you, Enderbrook, and you've got something special. There's something about your resourcefulness and dedication that these other," turned his head in the direction of the parolee to enunciate, "morons," and then turned back around to finish his statement, "aren't anywhere near possessing, and I'd like to see to the cultivation of your skills. I wouldn't have extended this offer to you if I didn't believe that those were extremely valuable albeit rare."
Or if he had not thought for a second that Boyd would not have accepted the opportunity....
It was worth Gregoire mentioning that, "We specialize in leveraging the talents of those who have nothing else to lose, and we're trying to build something - a group of individuals that can stand on their own from perhaps being multiple systems apart, but far-reaching and related conflict can cause them to have to work together across parsecs even.
It'll be exciting. Your government will take care of you. But it won't be easy, although, I surmise that if you thought it wouldn't at least be a challenge, you probably wouldn't still be standing there humoring my proposition."
And, he was right. Boyd was basically sold (even though the can of goods was suspect) but definitely intrigued.
Naive was more like it. Taking that deal saved Boyd's sister in the short-run but da-ned his family in the long-run and doomed himself in any event. Enforcers were not hired. They were sired. Now, he may have been fast-tracked through the Space Force military and seen the very real experience of wartime combat to get him up to black ops speed as a result, but there was fine print which often went unsaid during the acceptance of these timely offers as an unwritten rule.
The Space Force forever owned Boyd because he had assigned the protection of his family to them. And what was worthy of being protected was also capable of being destroyed. At the megapower's behest, the Enforcer's mom, Encsurfra as well as Farrah plus their wonderful child (all these years later), and Enas each ensured his servitude. The decision that he had made back then was the correct one because Gregoire never gave him a choice.
Notice how Boyd had not said one word during this entire chapter. There was nothing to say, and he was not at a loss for words nor lost in thought either. Black ops operatives were not born or made. They were selected and then kept. One did not retire from the Enforcers. When the relationship soured, the Enforcers retired the operative. No possible way existed that the Space Force could continue to run a splinter group beneath a universe of radars without having the requisite leverage to ensure compliance, obedience, and excellence. And needless to write, he hated them for every moment of this. But his emotions were irrelevant. People rarely got a chance to work the job that they really wanted and truly enjoyed, so this was no different. Pity was not what the Enforcer sought. He would have settled for just an inkling of a simple way out.
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