Thursday, June 22, 2023

Microstory 1914: The Bond

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Parole Counselor: Come on in, Officer. I don’t know how much I can help you, though. All of my people are accounted for. I never worked with any of the men who escaped from jail the other day.
Fugitive Agent: It’s Agent, and I’m not looking for information on your people. I’m hoping that one of them can help me find where the escapees are now.
Parole Counselor: What you’re talking about is a snitch. We don’t...encourage such behavior here. It tends to get the snitch killed.
Fugitive Agent: I understand that, and I want you—and your parolees—to know that I’m not looking for the escapees because I wanna lock them back up. Three of them are nonviolent, and honestly, I feel for the violent one. It’s only the fifth one that I’m interested in. I’m willing to listen to him, whereas other members of law enforcement were not. He may be able to help us with a global existential threat.
Parole Counselor: We don’t call them parolees in this context. They’re freemen.
Fugitive Agent: I’ll remember that. Do you think they would be willing to help? Is there any way I could guarantee that I won’t arrest anyone in this matter?
Parole Counselor: A way to guarantee it? From their perspective?
Fugitive Agent: What is it? Why are you laughing?
Parole Counselor: Well, there’s a way to do it, but you may not like the consequences.
Fugitive Agent: What? Am I gonna have to prove myself by committing a crime with them, or something?
Parole Counselor: No. In fact, one of the rules is that they’re not allowed to ask you to help commit a crime. And that’s not just because you’re a lawman. It’s our rule.
Fugitive Agent: Well, then what does this entail?
Parole Counselor: It involves a ceremony. There will be blood. What it will do is bond you to them for life. The counselor who trained me came up with it, and it’s been proven to work. You basically commit your loyalty to them. You agree to leave your old life behind, and start a new one with the group, and adhere to our ideals. Once you do that, they’ll help you with whatever you need, within reason, but you’ll be obligated to do the same. I can’t promise they’ll go for it. I’m the only bonded member who’s never been arrested before. They’re understandably wary of people like you. There’s a reason we don’t operate out of the law station with the other departments in this ambit.
Fugitive Agent: If you convince them to let me in, I’ll do whatever it takes to stay in, even after this case is over, and I return to the central office. But I do want to make sure they won’t ask me to help them get their records expunged, or any other abuse of my power. I still have to maintain my commitment to the badge.
Parole Counselor: They won’t ask you anything like that. Leaving their old lives behind doesn’t mean they forget them. It’s important that they recognize where they come from, and how much they’ve accomplished since. Besides, they would see it as an abuse of power just as much as you. It’s enough to get them kicked out of the bond.
Fugitive Agent: All right. Tell me what I have to do.
Parole Counselor: You’ll have to wait here while I confer with them. Like I said, they may not even consider letting you in. I cannot compel them. I’m not their leader.

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