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- Anonymous CIA Agent, 2016
August 27. 1985.
The man watched the guards change outside the Presidential Lodge. To him, this wasn't a big thing. He knew governments. In places like the US and Europe, a regime change was a huge event. That was because people had had a choice in what happened. They could vote fairly for a leader. Here in Nigeria and the other African nations, this was just a regular Tuesday... literally. After all, the sides were pretty much the same. According to the brief he'd been given, the so called Supreme Military Council was being ousted. Which would likely be replaced with an organization of the same purpose but named differently. Maybe a Glorious Armed Forces Command or a Liberation Military Council. Or was that those people they'd funded in Liberia? Either way, things wouldn't change. Things never changed here. He always joked that if they didn't bother to change the name of the government, nobody would even know a coup had occurred.
Ibrahim Babangida sat next to him, a weathered soldier of age 44, watching the ex president, Muhammadu Buhari, being led from the palace by guards; he would be arrested and sent to prison quite soon. Ibrahim was smiling. Buhari was definitely not. And the man was just tired.
"You see that?" Ibrahim nudged the man in his chair.
"What?" The man raised his head and sat straight. "Is there a problem?" Ibrahim grinned even wider.
"No. You see, you have done me a good service. I did not even have to shoot anyone! And now I am President. Did not even have to shoot anyone... you know how many of your guns I bought just in the case that the guard would fight back! Ha! I suppose that makes me a... sucker, no?"
The man couldn't help but laugh. "Well, at least your military will be well stocked." That would come in handy later on, considering that a coup attempt only five years later would be struck down using military force, troops firing with the same bullets the Precursor had sold them years ago. The new president didn't know it yet, but his decision to stock up on arms had saved his job and likely his life.
"That is true. Anyway, I have arranged the standard payment method. A hundred carats, finely cut, as previously arranged. This convoy will take you back to the airport. You must leave before tonight. There will be a curfew. Do not stay around. And thank you again. It brings me great pleasure to do business with you, mister..."
"I'm not supposed to tell you my name. Company policy."
"I see. I see. Anyway, see you later, my friend. Hope to work with you once more."
The next day, Ross was born.
- Nancy Ross, 2009
- Ross's high school principal, 2009
- One of Ross's professors, 2009
Ross only vaguely remembered what the conversation they'd been having had even been about in the first place. It had probably been something about communism, but that seemed to be far too broad. It had to have been something more narrow. Maybe a particular leader?
And then the man or woman or whatever they were tried to kick him... in the face? A poor move. Ross's family wasn't poor or anything, but he certainly had been in his fair share of scraps. He'd grabbed their leg in midair, and pushed them away. That only pissed them off more. They tried to charge him again, yelling obscenities... and they'd paid the price.
There was something about fighting someone far weaker than you that felt so liberating. They couldn't resist. They couldn't fight back. They just tried to say sorry. Well, sorry ain't gonna cut it this time. Sorry wouldn't set those broken bones, either.
Ross found the blood disturbing. But he was more disturbed by his immediate instincts upon tasting it...
- A police report, dated 2006.
- Anonymous bartender, 2010.
- Anonymous citizen, 2006
Alex slid next to Ross. "Fancy seeing you here." He motioned to the bartender. "Two beers." Then back to Ross: "What'd you think about the job?"
Ross didn't reply.
Alex didn't smile. "That's my line of work. And I'd like to offer you a job."
"No... I... I... no..."
"Ross, you're perfect." He grabbed a beer and took a swig. "You're not cut out to be a politician. Here's the two things that are gonna happen. You're going to join, or you won't. If you don't join us, you'll go along as normal, assuming you aren't arrested, and you'll get a low-ranking political position, but your little scandal will keep you out of anything important. You'll die in another fifty, sixty, seventy years, you'll be buried, and nobody will remember or care about you. Your kids may keep you in their thoughts for another few years, maybe so on for a few hundred years? And then you'll be forgotten, and nobody will know or care about you. You'll just be dead." He took another drink. "Or... you come with us. You'll get to have a good paying position, a nice office, fun, exciting, risky work. People will remember you for years because of your work and scandals, not in spite of it. You'll be known for thousands of years for your actions. You'll get your own Wikipedia page with multiple sections. People will know all about you. They'll read books about you. Assuming you live long enough, that is. I can't make any guarantees, but it's mostly safe work."
"But... killing..." Ross pulled his hood over his head. "I don't..."
"Be ready to go at nine o'clock next Saturday morning." He slid from the booth, and Alex was gone.
- Ross's neighbor, 2010.
- Front desk worker at Sunshine Condos, 2006
- Airline worker, 2007
- Captain ██████ ██████, US Coast Guard, 2008
I don't want to talk about it anymore. Just brings back bad memories. I've resigned. I can't take the nightmares anymore.
- Anonymous Police Officer, 2009
The CNN anchor surveyed the landscape.
"I am at a loss for words."
He couldn't think of a way to put the situation that would reflect what had truly happened here. People screaming... people who had their entire bodies blown to pieces by missiles moving too fast to even see... the blood... the bodies... and the bastards up in the Board of Directors are making money off of this. That's even worse.
"Ladies and gentlemen, there has been a terrorist attack at the Capitol. The attack was carried using rocket launchers. Fourteen senators along with almost thirty other civilians are dead. No groups have claimed responsibility." And then he turned off his microphone and stormed off air. He sprinted to the news van.
"Why'd you stop? We're still runn--"
He bent over. "Turn it off."
"I've given all of the relevant information. I'm not about to stand around and make money off of this... national travesty. The center of democracy of our country has been attacked, and you expect me to go out there and make my pay for the month from this? Turn the cameras off."
"I can't do that. I have ord--"
"F*** your orders! Turn it off! Turn it all off!"
"What if there's updates in the story?"
The reporter leaned in close. "This kind of thing happens... because we make these people famous. We make these... terrorists... the story of the year, and all of a sudden everyone with few morals and a few bullets can get their spot on the nightly news without having to do any more than pulling a trigger. End this program now, and they don't get that publicity. People don't try to shoot people to get famous anymore. Now which is more important, a couple more pieces of information, or people's f*cking lives?"
"The information could save lives!"
"Does that outweigh the lives it will take?"
- FBI Most Wanted Poster, 2009
- Anonymous Dock Worker, 2010
- Defecting PO Operative, 2010
- Anonymous Libyan Mercenary, 2010
- Defecting PO Operative, 2011
- Anonymous CIA Employee, 2016.
Those who lose, and those who win.
The former are those who are smart.
The latter are those who are lucky.
- John Adam Ross, 2007