Patricia: "Hi I am Patricia Atwell, a New Anchor here at Sivitri Media, your source of Lower City News. Welcome to our segment called "The Trio" where three panelists of varying backgrounds discuss and comment on recent events in the Lower City. Yesterday evening a nearly month long siege of a criminal gang's stronghold came to a violent end. Today, I have three panelist who are here to discuss. To my right is returning panelist, blogger and activist John J. Jones. To his right from the Liberty Institute, a conservative think-tank, Dr. Emily Stockton. and finally we have Michelle Arazini aka Seraphblade, as our security and policing expert. Thank you all for being here this evening. Lets starts with the events that lead up to this siege. The Marauders have been criminally active in the Lower City and Ruins almost since the new city was founded. However two incidents in particular lead to this siege: the rescuing of kidnapped women by LCBA Security and the bombing of the Casino Charity event done in retaliation by the Marauders. Who would like to discuss this first?"
John: "I would actually because I want to make a larger point here about oversight in the city. I've also written an article on my blog about this and for the CC Times. Lemme start with the kidnapping. So these women were abducted from all across the Lower City by basically a bunch of guys with guns cosplaying Mad Max movies. How does this happen? It's because we've designed our policing structure with almost exclusively metahuman v. metahuman in mind when the overwhelming majority of people in this city aren't metahumans. The Vanguard is always looking up and never looking down and that I believe is by design. The Vangaurd is an army not a policing unit. There is a big distinction between these things. An army is a tool of destruction and while it can make efforts at policing with moderate success, that isn't its primary purpose. It's because of this focus that people like the Marauders, the so called lesser threats, are able to slip through the cracks and do what they do."
Dr. Stockton: "So we should what? Have a bunch of just normal policemen running around? I get that most of the citizens are not metahumans, but 1 in 15 are. A normal human policing force runs into one criminal meta hell bent on not going peacefully and we have dozens of dead officers. Who is going to sign up to get massacred by a criminally insane metahuman? What happens to these officers when the new Kataron shows up to slaughter them?"
John: "How is that any different from earths like yours and mine where the police would for the most part have a pistol or shotgun and some criminals would have machine guns and explosives? Weren't SWAT teams created for this very reason? Why can't there be normal officers and then these hyper-focused teams called in to respond to metas? I get the need for the army that is the Vanguard but it also needs to be police in my opinion."
MIchelle: "I think I get John's point in this. I was a Master at Arms in the Navy for many years. The Navy has Master at Arms or Military Police in other branches for policing and you know infantry and marines for outright combat and warfare. You need both of these things to have an effective state I think. I don't think the Vanguard are bad guys, I want to be clear on that. They have people to contend with like this Association with the late Kataron and Eldritch Rose they have to contend with that can kill hundreds of normal people without trying it seems. But there are smaller threats like the Marauders and other gangs that just get to run roughshod because they aren't big meta threats. People like High Roller and others in the Lower City are the main line of defense against these guys and they're just vigilantes. LCBA Security responded to this because of basically the goodness of their hearts it seems. They organized the mission to rescue those women when it was technically out of their operational parameters. The retaliation by the Marauders against the Casino gave them justifiable cause to defend their corporate interests from the Marauders and begin the siege. But what if the Marauders didn't bomb the casino? LCBA Security isn't the police, they don't patrol the ruins. The Marauders would keep doing their thing with only select buildings being protected by LCBA Security. Things would be ultimately worse in the Lower City."
Dr. Stockton: "LCBA Security has been doing a bang up job, for the most part, on what they are supposed to be doing and even extending a bit beyond with the rescue of those women. I don't know why this group can't be contracted to extend it's operation over the entire Lower City. The force is already there and operating. Why not grant the operating costs of LCBA Security as a tax break to the businesses paying for it and grow them enough to secure the Lower City in its entirety?"
John: "This isn't to take away from LCBA Security and the work they have done in this. I want to commend them as well for doing the siege rather than just going in guns blazing. While some may not care about the lives of criminals, minimal loss of life all around is a good thing in my opinion. But... buuuut LCBA Security is not beholden to the public. It's only accountable to the alliance of businesses that pay dues to maintain it. We shouldn't have a private security organization in a position of near governmental authority policing the people. To me, there is not a reason why the Vanguard can't cut in some places and fund a few hundred basic police officers to keep people safe from these swath of non-meta criminals that run rampant. This should be in their wheelhouse."
Patricia: "So what about the siege itself? Some people, like yourself doctor, have had a some criticism over the idea to siege the Marauder rather than just go in and end them in a swift attack?"
Dr. Stockton: "I have. I don't want to sound overly critical of LCBA Security but I think the idea to siege them was a mistake as I wrote in my op-ed to the CC Times when it began. The Marauders have virtually no redeeming qualities. These are thieves, rapists, and murders. They are not people deserving of the mercy LCBA Security granted them. The city has no prison system. What is going to be done with them? They'll go on a work gang for some months? Get locked in some stocks? Or be executed anyway? It was a pointless move that risked the lives of the officers to save people who weren't worth the risk. I would take one of those brave security professionals over the entirety of that depraved gang."
John: "I'm not one to defend the Marauders but I want to point out two things. The first is that the gangs of the Lower City, the Marauders and the Red Caps and the former Union and so on. These are people who this city has forgotten and left behind. They are poor and without hope. They strike out at a society that has genuinely forsaken them. This isn't meant to absolve them. Their actions are unequivocally heinous but these are monsters of our own making because we do not support our poor as we should. They deserve a chance to change and be reintegrated into society. Secondly, I fully agree on the lack of a prison system. We have a beauty salon, a casino, a theater, and a comic book store but we don't have prison. The people up top don't seem to want one for whatever reason. I get the difficulties in building a prison for metahumans but we could at least have prison for all of these non-meta criminals. I don't want to create a two tiered justice system for meta and non-meta but even I have to recognize the reality that by their nature, criminal justice administered to metas needs to be on a case by case basis on what is feasible to do as punishment to said meta."
Dr. Stockton: "Sure, John, but that isn't the system we have right now. They aren't going to build a prison anytime soon. Mark my words, we'll see these criminals right back at it in 3-4 months tops. LCBA Security officers gave their lives with faith in a criminal justice system that will invariably fail them and put these criminals on the street leaving them all back to square one."
Patricia: "We need to move on. Michelle, there has been a serious spike in supernatural incidents around the city that seems to coincide with the rise of this mysterious group known as the Association such as the werewolf incident in the Upper City. Even this siege had supernatural elements with Kataron's involvement. In fact all of these incidents had demons and other creatures involved fighting alongside the Marauders. Some have speculated about the Association's involvement with the final incident that broke the siege. Many suspect that Kataron is or rather was a part of the Association yet his apparent aid of these Marauders seems to run counter to this as we know the Association struck and brutalized the Marauder's gang during the Friday the 13th Massacre two months ago. What are your thoughts on this?"
Michelle: "I can say that the Association members I've seen are generally practitioners of darker magics that involve unholy and unnatural elements of our cosmology. Use of this type of magic in great quantities is... problematic. I'm not a mage myself but I have seen what reckless use of such powers can do. If you've seen this Eldritch Rose using a lot of her power, you notice that objects float around her and the world just doesn't... feel right. This is the beginning of an effect called wild magic. Reality is tearing apart. The laws of physics are starting to break and be suspended. For those not familiar with darker magic, that sort of magic is like using a uh... a game shark for old school video games. It alters the code of the game (reality) to get your result, breaking the normal rules. In small doses, this isn't problematic. But if you alter it too much, you can break the game in spots or potentially entirely. I work at the Occult Eye and in a lot places we've seen Eldritch Rose and Kataron and Killer Queen do battle, we've been called in to clear out spirits drawn there and do some work to re-stabilize reality and the veils between worlds. Kataron was an ancient evil of some kind. If i had to guess he might have been a mortal mage that became something more. Beings like him are relatively... unstable mentally. They don't think like us a mortal people. Mortals, including their allies, are dust in the wind. It's entirely possible Kataron was allied with them and betrayed them for... basically no reason other than it was amusing to him. It's never really been clear if Kataron was a member of the Association to begin with. Eldritch Rose, who we know is a member of the Association, has worked with him on a few occasions but has outright denied in the open that it's anything more than an alliance of convenience. I was skeptical of the claim but this may be a more clear indication he isn't in league with them fully, or was."
Dr. Stockton: "You think he's really dead now? He's come back before even in the old city."
Michelle: "Well the Seraphblade, the weapon," she holds up the claw like finger tips over her hands that is the inert Seraphbalde. "It's primary purpose is to destroy practitioners of dark magics and other supernatural beings of that nature. Obliterates them from existence even through normal means of revivification like a demon regenerating on its home plane or a vampire misting to its hidden coffin. If that was the real Kataron, well nothing else has ever comeback from being obliterated by the Seraphblade."
John: "Well I guess the city will breathe a little easier without that thing here. But even with Kataron gone, I don't think we've seen the last of this Association. As far as we know they claim dominion over the Lower City as theirs. Other than that, we don't really know what they want or who they are and what they stand for. They've been stamping out gangs left and right. Now with the idea they are bringing in ghosts and breaking reality, it's clear they are major problem. I want to add that this Eldritch Rose seems like a an old school autocrat type though from what I've seen. A supporter of divine right even. Can't say I am a fan to put it lightly though I'll tell you that isn't true for many people in desperate situations here in the Lower City. The city has let them down. They're are angry at being in a concrete jungle while the Upper City elites live in greenery and parks and expensive architecture. Each day, more and more turn to crime and violence. Rose gives voice to that sentiment. She is angry at the establishment and wants to tear down the old order. What is dangerous about this is I think most people are willing to forgo all her less desirable qualities to just punish the people they see as wronging them. Many of these people had good paying jobs and lives in the old city and are now crammed into apartments too small for their whole family and are at the mercy of bandits and thieves. They wonder why the Vanguard and PAE and others get gold for build their combat robots to fight gods or whatever but they can't get a gold wedding band for their loved one due to the scarcity. The Lower City is simmering. There were a good number of people in the Lower City privately cheering as werewolves made a mess of the Upper City. Xalagia blew up apartments and killed dozens and tried to kill hundreds more in the Casino a few months ago and people have not forgotten. Lady Nightmare has come out and said things on this related to Xalagia being mind controlled-"
Dr. Stockton: "Claims with no proof added by the way."
John: "yes, but the point is that the people of the Lower City saw Nightmare do nothing as Xalagia tried to kill hundreds of people and then successfully killed dozens. That is a powerful image that has festered here in the Lower City and will be hard to dispel even if you did present evidence. You'll be trying to undo what people saw with what would surely be abstract evidence of mind control. You can save the city 100 times, you fail to save it once and you'll be hated. It's true of any public figure and something that the enemies of the Vanguard and Nightmare are keenly aware of."
Dr. Stockton: "To add to that, I think John is right. That image of the Eldritch Rose blocking Xalagia's lightning from obliterating the casino has become iconic among left-wing dissidents who see it as representative of the struggle between the so called 'Upper City elites' and the Lower City. It's like Guy Fawkes. She and by proxy the Association are steadily becoming a rallying cry for dissent regardless of what they actually stand for. It's an almost communist like movement rallying around what even I agree is a right-wing autocrat figure out of desperation. The lower class want someone else in charge and someone else has shown up proclaiming they will fix everything. That the problem is these people in charge lack the mandate of heaven. It's message that is resonating despite the absurdity of the face value because of the situation the Lower City is in. It's a ticking time bomb I think and something must be done."
Patricia: "Michelle you have the final word if you want."
Michelle: "Thanks umm... look I'm not a political analyst or anything. I am a resident of the Lower City though. I live there. I work there. It's hard sometimes. Many nights it's just booze, cigarettes, and ramen noodles. I get it. We're all hurting down there and it's easy to look up at the green grass of the Upper City and let that green grass make you green eyed. That's fair even to some extent but the Association isn't the answer to your problems. Practitioners of dark magic are lured to power in all forms like a moth to flame. Magical power, political power, military power. It doesn't matter. They want it. The consort with monsters and trade in souls. Say Eldritch Rose wins, the Association topples the government and makes a new one. Do you really think things would be better for you and your family? Eldritch Rose took a grieving man and turned him into a monstrous werewolf, Steel Fur, and set him loose on people who didn't even have anything to do with Xalagia and her transgressions on the Lower City. If you're unhappy with the government protest peacefully, let the city know you won't be forgotten, don't let them know you won't be forgotten at the point of a gun."
Patricia: "Poignant words. That ends our segment. Next is 15 Minutes. An unconventional charity event. A nude gift giving from celebrity stylist Lois B. Morningside. What prompted this uncanny idea and how will it play out? Find out next."
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