This episode just focuses on Sergeant Lucius Jacquin, rummaging through his old memories of his previous occupation before becoming a Gear. In the process, others sit back and listen to a side of humanity that seems to beg to question what is worth saving humanity for...in the process, Lucius himself has to make a decision what is it that he finds worth fighting for.
Even though this is fiction, many of these "situations" mentioned here are based on a few, real-life incidences I have came across during my studies at a police academy, and are not meant to be for shock factor, but is another side of reality that we seldom hear about that unfortunately happen. Therefore, be advised that there is some mention of certain content of a violent nature in this short.
Rated M for language and mature content.
On The Beat Edit
- God save us everyone,
- Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns?
- For the sins of our hand
- The sins of our tongue
- The sins of our father
- The sins of our young
- God bless us everyone
- We're a broken people living under loaded gun
- And it can't be outfought
- Can't be outdone
- It can't out matched
- It can't be outrun
- The Catalyst
- Linkin Park
"C'mon man…tell us something about The Shit…"
Corporal Gabriel "Spades" Bjork was coaxing Sergeant Lucius Jacquin, hoping to get the reluctant Sergeant to tell about the days he worked District 17, a well known, red light district, otherwise better known as "The Shit."
As the faint twilight hanging from the setting sun was withering away, the Gears took refuge just outside of Ephyra for the night, sitting around campfires, reminiscing memories of home, long lost friends, and brothers in arms. For others, it was often exchanging, over-exaggerated stories about the Pendulum Wars.
Sitting in limbo, in-between rotation, was a nice change of pace for the Gears shortly after the Lightmass Offensive, deployed by Delta squad earlier that month. For the first time in six months, the men of Epsilon One got to take a breather, finally getting to eat a warm, plentiful meal, shooting the breeze with some of the other squads including Delta One, Sigma, and Lucius' assigned squad, Beta Eight.
While Bjork was lighting his cigarette in the campfire, Lucius leaned back against an ammo crate, cleaning the barrel of his semi-auto shotgun, his only remaining souvenir from his patrolling days as a city peace officer. Adjacent from Lucius, across the campfire was the newly recruited Jace Stratton, and Dominic Santiago, playing a casual game of cards while Cole sat next to them, placing a wager with Baird's last bar of deodorant as collateral. All the while, Baird dozed off in between the conversation Bjork tried to rally from the oddly tranquil Sergeant while Epsilon's long-time medic, Gerard Grimes, was sound asleep, laying his head on his medic bag, nestled next to Private Dante Raphael of Beta, who was tinkering with a spare radio.
This was Lucius' sixth squad assignment, ever since he joined the Gears shortly after the Locusts attacked District 17, during his shift. The 17th District was located south of Ephyra, just outside of city's jurisdiction, which soon became a breeding ground for any means of entertainment that one could imagine, including prostitution and drug trafficking; a popular tourist attraction, especially enticing for the more "eccentric." Although there wasn't a day that went by where Lucius wouldn't reiterate the nights he patrolled The Beat, it wasn't exactly something he cared to remember either.
"What is there to say Spades…" Lucius grumbled in response to the oddball Corporal, "...cops and robbers, bang bang, every ten minutes…"
"…yea, with hookers on every corner and some schmuck barfing on the sidewalk after a long excursion of amphetamines, booze, and loose women," Bjork reminisced as he leaned against an abandoned car, "…it beats talking about the usual shit we deal with day in and day out…and it most definitely beats listening to Captain reminiscing about some sweet tail he banged the other day, or D whining about who used up all the fucking aftershave!"
"I heard that Spades…" Baird sneered from his makeshift bedding, which consisted of a old, linen tarp for a blanket, and his tool bag for a pillow. He lifting his weary head while shifting the tool bag, and then laid his head right back on it, shutting his eyes once more to hopefully get some sleep.
Dom chimed in shortly after,
"Ya know, although I don't normally ever agree with Spades, Sarge, I got a hand it to him on this one…we're running out of war stories that haven't been told for the umpteenth time…" Dom elaborated while Cole jumped in,
"...and I can't get passed how the Captain is getting tail every other week...I mean, shit, where were we when he's layin pipe?"
"He shoots blanks, that's why," a familiar voice could be heard as everyone tunes in, watching a weary Marcus Fenix join the crowd while carefully taking a seat next to Raphael, whom was still piddling with the radio,
"...he doesn't have to worry about knocking anybody up, so he just points his gun at anyone and everyone...they don't care," said Marcus, trying to get comfortable as he started to remove his chest plate.
"Damn, well I care...man, I miss the days when ladies would be jumpin hurdles just to get my autograph..." Cole sulked, watching Jace get the better hand as he slaps his winning cards down.
"Aw boo hoo...I can't see straight with tears in my eyes," Baird mocked while still lying on his tool bag, trying to get some winks in despite the excessive nagging of his comrades around the campfire..
"I'll say...poor D's been stuck with Rosy Palmer since deployment," Bjork teased as Baird conveniently flashed Bjork the middle finger,
"...aw, you know you like it when I talk dirty to ya," Bjork jestered.
"Whatever Spades," Baird sneered before closing his eyes again.
It wasn't long before the others acknowledged Marcus, bringing him up to speed concerning the conversation.
"Hey Marcus, you're just in time to listen to the Sarge tell us about District 17," Dom said.
"What about it? Are the hookers taking credit cards now?" Marcus grumbled in his low, mellow voice.
"Nah, the Sarge used to work The Beat there..." Bjork responded,
"Damn, for real, Lucius?" Marcus' interest beamed. He knew that Sergeant Jacquin was a police officer before joining the Gears. He would know; Hoffman ordered Sergeant Jacquin to put him under arrest for derelict of duty, five years earlier, but he never knew that Lucius worked The Shit.
The Sergeant let out a sigh while the others around the campfire subliminally opening their ears to listen to Lucius' tales of working in one of the most prestigious, red light districts in all of Tyrus.
"Well…where in the hell do you want me to begin?" Lucius asked his somewhat attentive audience. Jace was the first to ask the question, one that had been lingering in the back of is head, ever since he found out that Lucius was once a city cop.
"Man, how did you get assigned to a job like that…I mean…you really don't look like a guy who would work a place like that. I used to hear stories about "cop killers," and the Rogue Marauders gangsters, not to mention that one news broadcast would host a show about daily living at that place…it was brutal."
"No kidding…we used to hear about some serious shit going down over there…" Raphael reiterated while the others sat in silence, waiting for the Sergeant to speak.
"I guess for the most part, your right, rook…" said Lucius, turning his attention to Jace, "…it would have not been my first choice of Precintcs…but hell, I was new in the game, and I couldn't pass up the benefits. My mom was diagnosed with cancer at the time, and I didn't have the insurance necessary, much less my mother's, to help with the bills."
The look on Jace's face went flaccid as he listened to the Sergeant's every word. Nobody within the vicinity ever knew that the Sergeant volunteered to such a hazardous occupation to help pay for his mother's medical care. Lucius continued,
"…I didn't have anything. I was fresh out of the academy, I still had school loans to pay off, especially since my mom couldn't work anymore for being in and out of the hospital all the time…she needed a special treatment that neither of us, put together, could afford, so when an opening came up, which was pretty frequent for this dept., I took it. I got the benefits, my mom got the treatment...shit, they paid for it all."
"Damn…so where was yo pops during all of dis?" Cole asked. The Sergeant let out a slight chuckle, not for Cole's sake, but to reiterate back when his father was around.
"He was killed during the Pendulum War, when I was ten. When that happened, we lost all benefits the COG granted to the soldiers' families when family members were enlisted…"
Lucius paused for a moment as he finished wiping down the muzzle, putting it to the side and then lifted the gauge chamber to clean up the ejector point.
"…you could have joined the Gears…the benefits are just as good, if not better " Dom began while reshuffling the cards for another game. Lucius suddenly let out a laugh while Marcus focused his gaze to the solemn Sergeant, keeping his own gaze to the ground as he laughed halfheartedly,
"…yea…I could've…but what would happen if I was killed on duty, Corporal?" Lucius soon turned the question back to Dom, knowing that the benefits were invalid when a family member was killed in the line of duty, "…besides, I wasn't interested in Chairman Dalyell's war anyway…"
Although Lucius seldom spoke of anything concerning his opinions, much less his political views, the others were beside themselves as they listened to the Sergeant, spill out detail after detail of the little dirty secrets among Tyran's most prestigious judges, senators, and other members of parliament.
Nobody ever knew that the former Secretary of Defense, Michael Kendall was a regular at the "Pussycat Emporium," nor did it ever occur to them that the Geisha services were often hired out to politicians as a means for diplomacy, especially when Chairman Dalyell was in office, while establishments, such as "bath houses" became a popular tourist attraction for the adventurous and wealthy.
"Holy shit…I would have never associated Secretary of Defense, Kendall with a hooker…" Raphael blurted out,
"Hired escort, mind you…" Lucius rhetorically corrected him, keeping the same politically correct jargon that politicians used to keep the red tape to a minimum.
"Yea, a more esteemed term for a high class whore, Sergeant…" Baird blurted out randomly. Lucius chuckled slightly, knowing that Baird's blunt statement wasn't very far from the truth,
"To make a long story short Corporal, yea, that's pretty much it…I take it you're acquainted with the sort..." Lucius mused while the others around the camp lifted a brow to Lucius' insinuation of how Baird came to understand women of such an occupation. Grumbling as he opened his weary eyes, Baird slowly sat up to rant some more,
"Hey, just because I know the difference, doesn't mean I ever explored their services…" Baird growled, knowing full well what the Sergeant was hinting at.
"Awww, don't be ashamed D…I'm sure some of us have had a bang or two with some spare cash on the side, hehe…" Bjork gestured while the others let out a slight chuckle, keeping the jubilation to a minimal since nobody wanted to really mention anything that involved them having relations with a harlot,
"Whatever Spades…I'm sure that's what you spent our pool money on…I hope she was fucking worth it!"
"Nah…I just racked up your credit card for that…and spent the pool money at the Blackjack tables…which doubled our profit, by the way…"
"The fuck Spades…so that's what those charges were for…" Baird barked, coming to the realization that his co-worker at the time, used his money for lap dances at the nightclubs.
Cole and Dom couldn't help but to laugh while Baird just gave the two the middle finger and proceeded to try and get back to sleep. Bjork chuckled to himself, along with Raphael while Grimes was still asleep, completely oblivious to the conversation taking place.
"So…like Spades said, what's a typical night on The Beat?" Jace asked as the others composed themselves, turning their attention to Lucius, whom was still cleaning his gun.
"Usually, I would end up getting my daily grievance report from Sam Fraisure…the local, neighborhood wino…" Lucius let out a slight laugh, "…I swear, that old man would come up to me, slurring every other word, telling me to arrest the bastard who stole his cardboard box."
As Lucius could picture it, he remembered Sam would stand on the sidewalk, waiting for Lucius to make his usual rounds, telling him some of the most outrageous stories, especially the one about aliens ransacking his grocery cart, stealing his liquor while he was asleep.
"…and that was usually within the first fifteen minutes of my shift."
The others snickered at the tale while Bjork protested,
"Hey man…aliens stealing booze is serious business…"
"Shit, is that what you told the Colonel when those crates of rations went missing…that aliens came and stole them?" Cole chuckled.
"Nah…I just told them it was those glowy-ass ninjas you keep talking about…"
An array of laughter could be heard from the men, chortling around the campfire. Even the quiet and moody Sergeant Fenix found delight in Spades' humor. It took a few moments for everyone to compose themselves, especially after Baird growled at them, telling them to shut the hell up, taking his duffel bag and placing it over his head to tune out the noise.
"…so what about the neighborhood pimp…didn't he make the rounds?" Bjork reiterated.
"Pfft, which one?" said Lucius, "…we had at least twelve, with a head count of, ten to fifteen girls each…but they don't patrol the streets, Spades."
"So…how did they lure their…clientele?" Raphael asked.
"There was a long street that primarily was apartments, with mostly a one bedroom, one bath living quarters...and the prostitutes would rent them out every night. At the end of their "shifts," they would make their way down the street to the nightclubs, where their employer would be waiting for their progress reports.
"How do you know about these apartments, Lucius…you got something we should know about?" Marcus' low, grinding voice could be heard over the crackling of the campfire.
"Well, I'm not going to say that cops didn't go on the take when the opportunity presented itself, but me, personally, the only time I ever ventured into one of those places was when a disturbance, fight, or a homicide, took place there."
"Homicide?" Dom looked up from the draw he held in his hand.
"Yes, Corporal…I would get a call about some girl, found dead in a room when she didn't return to her pimp the night before…and I would have to go in, kick the door open to find her. In most cases, if she's not found within fifteen hours, nine times out of ten, they're usually dead."
"How can…I mean, why kill a woman man?" Cole asked innocently.
"Well, a lot of the times, it's accidental…"
"Oh come on, Sarge, how can you "accidentally" kill a hooker?" Bjork
"Sometimes the sadomasochism get's a little out of hand. One time, I found a girl whom was unintentionally strangled by a dog leash that was tied to the bedpost…apparently her client got off on watching his girl turn blue."
"Son of a …that's too weird…" Raphael reiterated.
"Occasionally, it's the client that eats it…I found one guy with a plastic bag tied over his head whom, apparently, suffocated while his "hired escort" was going down on him. She was so busy polishing his knob, she didn't think to look up to see if he was ok…"
"How can...I mean, what would..." Raphael began until Bjork flashes a gesture at Marcus and cuts Raphael off,
"Sergeant, if you would please, cover his virgin ears,"
Marcus leaned over as he put Raphael into a head lock, subsequently placing his hands over his ears. As Raphael tried to wiggle his way out of the Sergeant's massive grip, the others started to laugh at Raphael's futile attempt.
"Ya see Sergeant, now you've done it..." Marcus grumbles at Lucius, still keeping his hands clamped to the squirmy, Private's ears, "...now you soiled this rookie with your stories of loose women, fetishes, and all that other crap our parents would probably frown upon."
"Well in my case, that included spit wads and pissing in the shower..." Bjork blurted out as an array of laughter followed. The commotion slightly disturbed Grimes while feeling the two Gears tussle next to him,
"Hey...c'mon...go get a room, shit," Grimes moaned half awake. The Sergeant releases Raphael from the hold, consequently stopping the grappling and allowing Grimes to go back to sleep.
"Alright, here's a question for ya…" Dom began again, "…did you ever get shot in the line of duty?"
"Heehee…" Bjork started to laugh, "…tell him about the one with the buckshot full of corn kernels."
"Damn, for real?" Cole asked.
"Yea…I was called out to a scene in a heavy, drug trafficking area, between two dealers, fighting over clientele…one of them was a twelve year old boy, who decided to be a punk and shot me with his twelve gauge, buckshot full of dried corn kernels…"
"Oh…I bet that hurt like hell…" said Marcus.
"Yea…it did…but not as bad as the rock salt…"
"Damn, Sarge…how'd the hell did you ever survive?" asked Dom.
"Well, it's kinda funny, now that you mention it…the guy who took the next shift after mine wasn't so fortunate…one dealer had some rounds filled with diamonds, and blew our man all to hell…"
"Why didn't they just use regular, lead Pellets?" Dom asked while Marcus answered him,
"Selling ammo in that area was heavily restricted, so pellets was in short supply…I guess the inhabitants got creative, using whatever they could find."
"You got it…rocks, thumb tacs, glass chips…hell, old man Giles at the grocery mart down the street used both rock salt and kitty litter…after shooting off one guy's face, nobody fucked with him anymore. Damn, I really hated cleaning up that scene."
Cole looked up from his cards as he began,
"Damn, you did cleanup too?"
"Had to…I was looking for shell casings, helping the coroner gather up a leg here, an arm there…"
"So what was the longest clean-up that you had to do?" Raphael was the next to ask.
"…I think the longest I ever had to stay and clean up, was a hit in run, with a lorry."
"Son of a bitch…" Bjork jumped in, "…what did you fucking use to clean that up?"
"A sponge…literally. Three of us were out there, trying to piece this poor dude together."
"Was he intentionally hit?" asked Raphael.
"Nah…based on the tox results, which took about a month, it showed that he was high as a kite on Ecstasy when he decided to cross a freeway, at midnight…but the driver, whom apparently was smuggling "merchandise" into town, didn't want to get caught, so he left the scene," Lucius took a moment to switch rags, and then went back to cleaning his shotgun as he continued,
"…we arrested his ass the next day after finding his truck parked in the grocery lot, with a massive blood smear on the side of the cabin."
Bjork chuckled while finishing the last of his cigarette before he spoke,
"Pfft…can't imagine what gave that away…didn't he think to hose the thing down?"
"It was pretty dark, so he probably couldn't see that he missed a "spot," Lucius chuckled, "…yea…we got some characters out there…God help me in the days I had to serve right next to one."
The atmosphere took a slight turn as Marcus could feel the weight of Dom and Cole's stare, knowing that all high profile inmates were released to serve in the armed forces, whether they wanted to, or not. It was something that no one had the balls to bring up, especially when Marcus was around, but Lucius kept it in a key that didn't personally involve Marcus…it was just all Lucius, and his days on the Beat, and all that it's lore entailed between the elite of the justice system and it's hypocrisy.
"Did you actually have to serve with someone you busted?" asked Raphael.
"Damn, how did that go down? I mean, how well did they do?" Dom was the next to ask.
"Each one was unique in their own right…some became pretty competent soldiers, while others didn't; not that it mattered, we're all in the same line of fire. Whom was the more righteous at that point was no longer relevant."
"Did any try to take you on?" Bjork asked while Lucius responded,
"One did…which I found funny since this was the same guy who tried to take me on during his arrest, and failed miserably. He thought he could whip my ass after five years of busting weights and punching bags, from his incarceration at Jacinto…dumbass still couldn't remember to block his head. Needless to say, he didn't last long on the front line, even with a helmet."
"Don't you miss the job, Sarge?" Dom had to ask.
"Not at the least, Corporal…" Lucius continued while Dom persisted,
"…but wouldn't you...rather be there, dealing with people, than dealing with Locusts?"
"In the grander scheme of things, never in a million years would I ever want to return to that…never again."
The air around the camp turned chilly as the soft breeze went passed them, disturbing the fading campfire, burning on it's last log. Regardless of how much everyone hated fighting in the Pendulum War, it wasn't near as bad as fighting the Locusts, a race of beings whose sole purpose was to wipe humanity off the face of Sera...and they were getting better at it, almost each day that passed, until the Lightmass Offensive. Ever since they deployed the Resonator, Locust activity was more sparse than it used to be, but whether it was permanent was not yet known. Back home, humans squabbled over who should have the bigger piece of the pie; it was a sober thought, fighting against something that just wanted them to die.
"Damn…did something…happen…that shut you off to all of that? I mean…you seem like someone who could handle it," Cole mentioned.
Although the question was somewhat irrelevant, the words hung in the air, waiting to fill the gap with an answer, begging for a closure. Lucius' demeanor turned slightly as his dark eyes peered into the flames, slowly withering away as the night breeze passed through, but the Sergeant simply let out a sigh as he spoke, while his gaze clung to the fire,
"There came a point, soldier…where I just…got tired of pulling dead girls, young girls, from city dumpsters…either from being bludgeoned or choked to death by their pimp, or overdosed on some narcotic, or God knows what…" Lucius began as he choked slightly, with the disturbing pictures of the deceased, floating through his head.
One by one, he could see them, fragile and broken from what many, would call the "shame of life." Lucius, however, couldn't indulge into such a stereotype. They were just people, nothing less trivial than that, created in God's own image like everyone else. Were they any less of a person?
The images of all he had seen would shift like a slide show, coming across one incident, that stood out from the others, as he began to speak again,
"…I would never forget the time…I stumbled upon a pretty, red-headed, Freshman in college, trying to pay her way through school, working the weekends at a night club. Her name was Jenna…I remembered it after asking her for her I.D. one night, making sure she was of age to work as a stripper," Lucius recalled, rummaging through his thoughts while others that were nearby, listened attentively "…two months later, I found her dead…her body, dumped in a back alley, with the coat hanger still inserted in her from an apparent, botched abortion… she was only nineteen."
The incident was one of many that Lucius had stored away, like a file cabinet full of cases that had little if any closure, despite the arrests that had been made. It still didn't bring the victims back from a shallow grave, mingled with heartache, drugs, and other amenities that imprisoned them to a life so bleak.
Lucius continued to vent as the words just flowed from the deep denizens, which made up his thought closet,
"…I just got tired of hearing about drug lords, getting off with a few weeks of jail time…I got tired of messing with dealers, listening to their sob stories while exploiting children, as young as six years of age, dealing on the street with a few dollars to their name, eating food from garbage cans…I got tired of picking up the pieces of the ass-end of humanity that was broken, long before Locusts decided to fuck it all up."
Shortly after his statement, Lucius began to assemble his shotgun in the dwindling light coming from the dying campfire. As Gears, one by one, started to call it a night, Dom sat up after putting his cards up, turning to Lucius as he watched him assemble his weapon,
"Ya know, I can understand dealing with assholes, man…but we're not fighting over resources anymore…we're fighting for survival…and you make it sound like it doesn't depress you."
With that said, Lucius continued to assemble his weapon, until it was complete, and then takes a rag to wipe it down one last time, before putting it back into his strap, attached to his upper thigh. Lucius removed his do-rag, shuffled his chin, length, hair while turning is gaze back to Dom.
"Granted Santiago,…but I'll always carry this with me…when the world you walked in, day in and day out, wants a piece of you, in more ways than one, there is little incentive for change. I soon began to realize my own humanity was becoming jaded. For me, perhaps eventually joining the COG against the genocidal Locusts, was my only escape from the most dismal of human realities…needless to say, I find serenity in this cause, than I did the other."
With Sergeant Jacquin's last words sinking in deep into everyone's subconscious, everyone gave the conversation a rest, as the prodding ceased, withering into a serene silence, with only the sounds of crickets chirping in the distance.
With a few more glances, Dom could feel the weariness in the Sergeant's eyes and proceeded to hit the hay himself, leaving any other questions he may have had to the side, giving it a rest…it's not like we're going anywhere else.
The heavy overcast hung in the sky as the Gears took a moment for rest, reminiscing their own thoughts and memories, whether they were for good, or bad. Lucius, on the other hand, took it upon himself to think of happier times, hoping to suppress the other visions that could plague his head if he allowed it. The one thing, however, that came to the forefront was a plea, in hopes that there is still something left in this world to fight for…
…just one act of kindness, or compassion, will do...I can find solace in that.
- I walk this empty street
- On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams
- Where the city sleeps
- and I'm the only one and I walk alone
- Read between the lines
- What is wrong and everything's alright
- Check my vital signs
- To know I'm still alive and I walk alone.
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Gregorians version)
- Green Day