Inherent in the System

A/N: I was going to give this as a plot suggestion to Peacekeeper 37 for his wonderful fic, Ghost Recon: The Gate but it would be too long. Also, this idea never fully left me and with the way I was going with my other fics I just had to write this. This was subconsciously inspired by the Ferris wheel conversation in The Third Man(1949) and the ending of Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948). I'm sorry for not updating Wolfenstein: The Rising Sun and Black Sun Rising. This is only a one-shot, albeit a long one that's merely a long conversation. Enjoy and tell me what you think in Review or PM.


But to fear the creation of a domineering, illiberal officialism... is to miss altogether the principle upon which I wish most to insist. That principle is, that administration... must be at all points sensitive to public opinion.

-Woodrow Wilson, The Study of Administration, essay written in November 1, 1886, published in Political Science Quarterly, June 2, 1887.

Kanson Mimpi - officials honored, the people despised.

-prewar Japanese saying

Bunkyo Civic Center
Tokyo, 20XX

I never knew I will return to Tokyo, where in a way, where I had spent best years in my career in the former Third Echelon, having averted a war in, killing an old friend who admittedly went off the rails for ideological reasons, kept another man from lighting East Asia in flames.

I never knew I would face another rather unlikely man as the cause, the primary mover, of this latest crisis. I didn't expect to be in the Bunkyo Civic Center. A rainy day in the middle of busy Tokyo. I thought the Black List was something, only in scale, not the depth this man has done. I need to distract him so Charlie can extract information from more than a dozen, tough-to-crack servers under his control.

"I'm quite surprised myself to see you," said the man on the desk. The office was dark, I had cut the power, the only lighting came from the bright neon-glory of Tokyo. "I clearly did not do enough to cover my trail."

"To your credit, you were quite a bitch to track," I replied.

It was hard to read his expression in the dark, being backlit by the city skyline outside. "Congratulations finding me. And you have made quite a mess of my plans."

"Sorry to rain on your parade like that," I replied dryly.

"I don't get it," I asked in disbelief, my pistol drawn at the figure on the desk. "Why should a man in your position orchestrate such mess?"

He looked at me calmly. The lighting outside obscured most of my person, already dressed in black like a ninja. "Service to my country, though admittedly questionable in its legality."

"Understatement of the century," I blandly noted.

"Perhaps it came out a little too soft but in my line work, one's speech has to be prudent and circumspect so as not to incite passion, which blinds and deafens the mind." He gestured to an empty chair. "Do sit down, sir. Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent."

"I think I'll pass, thanks." The file got a lot about him right: polite, self-effacing, low-key. But there's more to his file I have yet to see here.

He made no issue of it, none that I can see anyway. But I can tell he's watching me. He never made it to the top by being nice to anyone or lending a hand without owing a favor, sheer excellence alone would not have aided him in a government agency brimming with others possessing similar talent and skill. "You never expected me, did you?"

"You had us fooled, even me, for a while," I admitted. He wore the same bland expression at the dinner reception back in DC. "I never thought someone like you, one of the most talented and highly-regarded officials of your government, would pull this off: while we were off cleaning up the mess made at the collapse of Venezuela, you were out piecing together your little power play: you caused an insurrection of the ethnic Rohingya at Myanmar, inciting riots in France and Germany to draw our attention from away from your intended target: China. To that end, you made it look like the Chinese had a hand in the renewed Moro insurgency in the southern Philippines, you had the Yakuza provoked riots in Africa and Greece attacking Chinese interests, you had pirates intercept Chinese merchantmen and fishing trawlers; directed E-attacks against us and our allies staged out of China."

"Is that all?" The question had some mild incredulity, like he was pleasantly surprised that someone figured out his prank from his school years.

Normally, someone else would blow a gasket from that but I wasn't someone else: I've been playing these kinds of games in the service of my country since I joined the SEALs. He seemed like he wanted to see how far my threshold for bullshit go. He can't see my face, naturally, but he was seeing my body language for some sort of opening. "If you're thinking about calling the cops I cut the landline, and jammed cellphone signals too."

He was silent, he obviously hadn't expected that. "There are people inspecting the corridors for the occupants," he pointed out. "You will be caught."

"Which is why I came in after the security man made his rounds."

"Bad form." I remember he had a brief stint at the Japanese embassy as legal attache. He picked up the British term he uttered. "And what of these accusations you leveled against me?"

"A lot more. You helped set up a pipeline for weapons, money, and intel for Uyghur separatists with the Turkish Grey Wolves, who helped you in Germany and the Yakuza in Greece. Then you dabbled in biological warfare: you had the Yakuza set up human trafficking rings, infecting victims with a new swineflu strain and you were planning to release a new form of wheat fungi, resistant to most common fungicides, in the Midwest. You were planning to cause food riots, backed up by crippling our electronic infrastructure."

"What makes you say those?"

"Some of the Yakuza thugs we caught in Greece are people that were put away during your tenure as Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications."

I saw a slight hint of forward movement. "What makes you say that?"

"They don't walk out the slammer without signing some sort of deal. They don't walk out en mass and since no jailbreaks were reported a deal was made - for them. No one noticed because the Ministry of Justice, who were an obstacle, was being the focus of some embarrassing cyber-security leaks."

"They spoke?"

"Yes, and so do a few of their bosses," I answered.

I was expecting a rebuttal, subtle or abrupt, about me taking the words of professional criminals but instead he answered, "Well done. I expected them to take the fall. Should never have trusted that clan of killers, thieves, and pimps some portions of my plan though."

I was taken aback by that small measure of frankness. Still, I held my composure. "The crowning moment of your plan is the outbreaks of violence in China, Japan, and America. You got the Uyghurs of Sinkiang-Uighur up in arms when your thugs assassinated an Uyghur human rights activist in his hotel room in Ankara and planted evidence that points to China's hand in it. Then you streamed live on the Web a sudden raid carried out by Chinese police and army on a historic mosque, where hundreds were brutally arrested, many died of suffocation in a cramp local jail, managed to turn half the Muslim world against China, its embassies and nationals, under attack, while Muslims in China have suffered horrendous pogroms. You orchestrated riots against ethnic Koreans and other Asians when the swineflu began to erupt in the Kyushan prefectures. And you were hoping to raise grain prices in America, causing the country heat up."

"You seem to piece everything together but you will need more than that to put me away."

"That wasn't enough, was it? Through a series of bank accounts out from dummy corporations you took controlling interest of an agri-tech firm, Agricola Green Technology, so you can both develop the wheat fungi, then a biological fungicide that can kill the fungi. You would corner the market, raking millions, together with the millions more you'll make from trading wheat futures in the Midwest and Europe."

"I gather you seemed surprise that I would do that - make money out your country's misfortune."

"You see, I get caught I lose everything but it was a given the moment I undertook this scheme. I have no intention of being trapped and forced to face trial on the docks. I have to make my own retirement benefits."

My God! I never knew how much he wanted to milk the situation for his own benefit. "I never took you for someone out to make a fortune for yourself."

"Of course, a civil servant is expected to serve his country to the best of his abilities, his keep only a secondary consideration. Government only wants the best and the brightest running it. The prestige and challenge make up for lesser pay, especially the higher you go. There's no greater honor than that, to be able to be part of something greater than yourself."

"And you decide to cash in on some your... efforts for your country?" I don't have anything to say of his scheme. It really turned my stomach that this inoffensive little man sitting before me would profit from the misery he created on his scheme to restore Japan's place as a major power. He knew the generals he allied with in Myanmar only love their country as long as it filled their bank accounts in every way from illegal logging to drugs. "Lot of good your money'll do you in jail."

My earpiece squawked. "Keep him talking, Sam," Grim said over the comm, part of my equipment unaffected by the jamming signals. "We're getting more evidence."

"I forfeited my benefits the moment I undertook this endeavour. Mind you, I'm a civil servant, while I may be making tens of millions should my plan succeed, I will only take a portion I need to retire in relative comfort and obscurity. The rest of the money I will give to my country."

"For what? As 'compensation' for what you did?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes. But that money will not be spent on paying for the damages incurred, which will heal in time. It will be spent on where it is needed. The country will need a new set of leaders that will guide her to the proper course, especially in a radically-changing world order, one where she must seize opportunities rather let others do it for her in return for committing to their policies."

Money to fund candidates and causes of his choosing, that's what it's about. "So you are playing politics by proxy? Not surprising that someone like you would rather pull the strings in the shadows than step into the arena. And what's so worrying that you have about the world today that you have to change it?"

The lightning struck, flashing his face for a second, seeing a cold, seemingly indifferent face but I knew he was glaring. It seemed I reach a point where he wants to say his two cents. "The world changes, yet yet the status quo remains without challenge. For too long we had been emasculated by the relative peace you gave to us in return for our subservience. I supposed it had helped us immensely since we achieved our postwar miracle which came to fruition in the 80s. That is all that economic power if we cannot make it to real power? The Lost Decade taught me three things: tethering yourself to the old guard invites ruin; one has only trust himself in the most dire of times, no one can bail you; and you cannot sit idly by while you watch the incompetence of others in the false security that you will not be harmed. We have been made irrelevant, we have became fat and contented in being in the shadows, without a spirit or backbone. So they have no idea what it means to wield real power and its attendant responsibilities.

"Did it occur to you that your country is a member of the G8 and APEC and an observer status in ASEAN? I say you are far from irrelevant."

"About as much relevance as a vassal state is allowed, we have a say but no real power or influence. You still have troops on our lands. Why should we?" he asked rhetorically. "We remain in a stagnant, less honorable state by less honorable men who squander every attempt to assert our sovereignty and shy away from actually championing their people's interest."

"Otomo was more honorable than you," I pointed out. "He faced trial at the Hague for the East Asian Information Crisis, took responsibility for his actions."

I heard a scoff. "Otomo is a warrior, raised in the traditions of the samurai, the old ones. That was his undoing. If he was that honorable as you suggest he should apologize to every victim, every person he caused grief with his actions face-to-face. To those South Koreans who died in that aborted invasion attempt, to the families of the Clarence E. Walsh and your Eight Army, to some of my own countrymen who have been aggrieved as well as the people of New York, had the misfortune of two terror attacks in the last decade, not to mention his own people." His voice had detached, contemptuous, as though the victims were a minor annoyance he had to attend. "However, he won't. He can't take the proverbial humiliation of being jeered or spat on, not mention the odd if unlikely attempts on his life by grief-maddened relatives. It would just too much for him, as any of his ilk, for such a thing is beneath him. Men like Otomo are trained to expect death, to take and lose life, so it is useless anyway to ask him remorse for all he had killed."

A part of me wanted to shoot him already. "What makes you any different? What makes your plan different?"

"Otomo is muscle, I'm the brains of any operation. It is people like me who keep the apparatus functioning, even when the leadership is plagued with incompetence. It is us who clean up after them when they ruin and soil themselves. It is us who spin shit to gold, turn short-term success to long-term sustainability. Without us the machine breaks down and everything falls apart. What are the pains and losses of an individual or a small group when the greater good is more important?"

"You seems rather... unconcerned. Have you ever seen any of your victims?"

"You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. But then who would be?" After the rhetorical question he paused a while, trying to read my reaction. "I don't have time shed tears when the grand scheme things begins to unfold. You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs as you would say."

He doesn't seem to care. His file stated that beneath his stoicism is a subdued lack of empathy. "I can hardly call inciting and supporting an insurrection causing suffering to millions of people, aiding terrorists, attack nations by proxy as a case of breaking a few eggs. Those are people! They're not a statistic in a census or any sort of civil registry, they have lives, they have dreams. You're not merely disrupting those lives, you are taking them and ruining many more. I don't get why a cold merciless bureaucrat would reduce them to an abstraction? Are you so detached from the everyday lives from the people you claim to serve that what they go through is irrelevant? What would they think about your actions you've done their name? What about the people in the countries you hit?" Everything sounded a little forceful than I wanted it to be. Maybe I was tired of playing his bullshit right now.

"Do not lecture me about the people, about nations!" It wasn't quite an outburst but it was strong enough for me to notice the emotion in the voice. He wagged his finger sternly. "We played your games when we emerged from a feudal backwater to an modern nation in a few short decades but we were denied treatment as an equal, our say has little impact for you, since a little Asian power offended your belief in that your destiny is exclusively yours, the West. So we threw your rules and followed our own. Defeated in 1945, we surrendered to your world order, abiding the rules you made for nations while you liberally cherry-picked which to follow. Guatemala, Iran, the Philippines, the emerging African states, Chile, El Salvador to name a few. A practice you repeated in Iraq and Afganistan, the former the result of your proxy war against the Soviets, not to mention Georgia, East Timor, and Mexico. The Vietnamese have every right to charge you at the Hague for your use of Agent Orange during the war."

He does have a point. It's no secret about our foreign adventures and the motives behind them. It was plain for all the world to see. "I have nothing to say about our interventionism and our influence in the past but I can say this: whatever we did then, whatever the reason, it's still wrong. The ends may justify the means if it's worthwhile but someone still pays the price of our folly. In our efforts to prevent disaster we continuously sow the dragon's teeth. How we act when we reap them is up to us."

He calmed down a bit, I can see from his relaxing of posture. "You invoke the epic of Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece, you are indeed a cultured man." His voice had a slightly positive tone. That he wasn't dealing with a Neanderthal. Such is the intellectual vanity of men like him.

"It was my literature assignment in high school," I replied, perhaps the only honest detail I can give him about myself.

"I see. Then you have to see the logic of my plan."

"Yes, the logic I see obvious, just twisted. You're just one man. How do you expect the people to go along with you on this?" I had to repeat the question.

He looked at me like I knew nothing. Of course the point of this whole conversation was to expose him. He began his spiel. "My country and my people are the main beneficiary of my endeavor. Yes, it is true I used distasteful means to achieve my ends, just as you are doing now, but they won't remember it, only the dawn of a new age I brought for them. That alone is not enough. We need statesmen, not politicians, and you won't find any of those in the Diet today.

"Politics is already a noisy marketplace, where politicians and lobbyists constantly exchanged their wares. I had trouble in my career of that as it is. I have developed the political acumen to get through the corridors of power but it is unlikely I will ever survive an election campaign. Though not a popularity contest or ideological preaching like yours had devolved into, I still have to woe the electorate about how I can benefit them, something more experienced politicians have. Being a civil servant felt much better than holding public office as a representative in the National Assembly. I performed my duties as part as part of the government apparatus, far apart from the Diet with its cutthroat ring of schemers, airheads, rabblerousers, cheats, and what have you. And what of the people? Don't be melodramatic, Mr. Fisher."

I almost dropped my gun at the mention of my name. I tightened my grip, already feeling the weight during the entire conversation. How the hell did he know my name!? "'Mr. Fisher?'" I tried to be coy, I still can't believe my ears.

"Jesus!" Grimm exclaimed over the coms.

"Please drop the act, Mr. Samuel Fisher. Jason and the Argonauts was your literary assignment back when you were in your second high-school year in that military boarding school of years. You said I stole secrets. That I did and learned of yours. You had a brilliant hand in most events in the world as part of Third Echelon, National Security Agency. You stopped Kombayn Nikoladze's and Kong Feirong's nuclear scheme, you defeated those Indonesian terrorists, and I especially applaud you for ridding of that insufferable Otomo and his maniacally impractical scheme, he had to leave the picture, restoring the Emperor; not to mention the Red Mercury entanglement, the coup you averted with Reed and Galliard, and defeating the Blacklist."

He enumerated all my previous missions and my goddamned second-year high-school assignment!

"Are you shocked, Mr. Fisher?" Polite as ever but with a hint of triumph.

I got myself together to form an answer. "I gotta say, kudos to that hacker you hired, even if he used an outdated version of the Masse Kernels."

"My last position before being appointed national security adviser has acquainted me well with the digital era."

"So what? Now that you know, you can expose me? You can't do that without implicating yourself."

Though I can barely see the face I know I soft smile was forming, realizing how true that was yet seeing the challenge of finding a way out of it. "There's no proof against me...besides you."

"I should be pretty easy to get rid of. If you can call for help."

"Rather tricky. You have the gun on me. But the circumstances of my death would not allow this affair to die down."

I wanted to pull the trigger, shoot him and get on with it but I can't, not until I found out the full extent of his conspiracy, not until I found what he knows. Everything I need to tie this together.

He relaxed again and chuckled. "Oh Fisher, what fools we are, talking to each other this way. As though I would do anything to you, or you to me. You're better off a free man fighting terrorism, which is good for me since you kept the world from going over the brink. I can suggest that you walk away but just that you cling to certain notions that are not entirely applicable. Here in Japan, people in my position have to take the long view, institutions don't think in terms of individuals. Governments don't. Why should I? They talk about the people, the republic. I talk the people as they are, children to be seen, not heard - it's the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I. Tell me. Have you seen the crowds in Tokyo Square?" He took out a cigarette and lit it with a match, letting me see his face again briefly. And I don't find any humor with his opinion about this matter.

Smoke rose and whirled around him, making him seem more mysterious. He continued, "They are a sea, a multitude. They are people you talked about - what we are tasked to serve - I serve the people through government, which is their will, the will of society they are part of. It is more than a mutually-beneficial agreement, it is the way things are supposed to be. You Americans talk about the right of the people to choose and throw out their leaders but tell me? Do they know anything about foreign policy, economic policy, the national budget, education? No! That's why they vote politicians to represent their interest and politicians hire people like me to do the job. They don't consult the people, they consult me. Your government dug itself into a morass because your people kept interfering with its functions by heckling the politicians, and in turn heckling your civil servants. You are a nation divided by your overemphasis in the individual and in principle, you cannot effectively wield the superpower status that you earned. In my country the people know their place, he is part of society and he remains so if he contributes to it and not promote his own welfare at its expense. The little dots you call individuals may be unique but that does nothing special for society at large, thus it doesn't do them any favors. They must participate to earn the wonderful things society endows them. They know it, thus unlike you Americans they have no right to interfere into how the government provides for them, how society provides for them, however much they complain. If they are allowed to go through with that, decline, then chaos ensues. Your country is mired by a bipartisan rift that tears it away. Tell me, Mr. Fisher? If you have twenty-thousand dollars for every dot you see on your way here? Wouldn't it be a loss if a few stop, Mr. Fisher? If what makes them stop spreads over to the other dots, would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Or would you take measures to separate the rest from the malefactors? Value, Fisher, value - the real deciding factor of anything these days? Every person has value and it can be lost. Some worth more than others."

"Who is to decide if a person in society is more valuable or less, therefore can be discarded or disregarded?" Honestly, this is getting good. I never met such a cold, analytical mind bears his soul - what little is left anyway.

"It is the individual who makes value, makes themselves valuable. The other factor is the kind of value society places, so there are constants and variables. Not everyone can keep up with the transient nature of value, once you're no longer valuable for one thing, you must create value for another. If you want to progress through society you must create more value than the person next to you. That was the objective of the Renaissance men, to embody classical knowledge and attributes in the individual value. That is something most simple-minded fools I met in the executive bureaucracy and legislature cannot grasp: the responsibility and privilege of keeping society safe and functioning should be reserved for those qualified by merit of superior intellectual value few can create. And they are tasked to see the welfare of who those who create lesser individual quality but greater collective value in society. They are nothing without men like me."

"But it implies a caste system in your society and you were the son of small shopkeepers," I pointed out. "How did you ascend through to be become one of the country's top-scorers in high school and college, a legal attache, an interior minister, and now national security adviser?"

"A caste system implies fix lines, fixed classes that stagnate quickly over the years to the point of being dangerously brittle. Our culture teaches us that society is greater than anyone man and it also recognizes that value is transient, not fixed. While the herd is encouraged to serve society in the premise that not serving it will cause a decline that slowly erodes it encourages the growth of value among its multitudes, rewarding those who greatly who can serve society in the best ways possible. It also punishes anyone rocking the boat. The nail that sticks out must be hammered back in its place."

"Provided someone recognizes it." I need to put a few holes into his little theory.

"Yes, that is the problem. But we've been taught that society is greater, so even the powers-that-be knew to put themselves too much ahead of others causes dire consequences. They also need people to attend to problems they are incapable of handling themselves. Now more men of quality are needed than ever before."

"And of nation-states?"

"A nation as a society puts its constituents first ahead of others. Inevitably, it leads to conflict but at the same time nations realized they can work together for their own mutual interest. While brotherhood to all mankind is a laudable concept it's not entirely applicable because not all ideas are workable, especially if they work to the detriment rather than betterment. Mutual interests and respecting another's affairs to an extent are more practicable but your country had different ideas about that as its past foreign policy can attest."

"I don't deny it."

"Good and evil, right and wrong, applicable within one's own nation is not directly applicable in the international arena, standards of international behavior but certainly not guidelines. What keeps nation in line is the threat of war and its cost. Your general William Tecumseh Sherman buredn the South on his march to the sea. The nuclear weapons, first used on us, changed the game entirely, by making war on a massive scale costly but also forcing others to search for alternatives that gave greater dividends for less cost. Countries are bound only by their rules and by the pragmatic thought."

"That's rich for someone who lived in the most civilized countries in the world."

"Perhaps what is called 'Civilisation' is hypocrisy. But your country has done unprecedented breaks into so-called international law that deep down, none of that matters, not when your interests of your society are at stake. Back then you only cared of a price of an oil barrel or a bushel of bananas. Vietnam came, people protesting your incompetent, vulgar manner of intervention but they never complained about the price at the gas station until the Arabs retaliated. The Gulf Wars was mainly about oil, after all. Just because people protested about sweatshops that produced their shows did nothing to curb demand for those elsewhere."

"And how about things like gentility, compassion, sensitivity?"

"Those are concepts embraced by the populace but in the practice of government and international relations they are of tangential importance to needs and interests, the only sure thing that counts. A man cannot safeguard the welfare of his people and nation if he lacks what it takes to defend it, to pursue unpopular decisions with clarity and discretion. Those things are inherent in the system, inherent in society. It can't be helped."

I didn't reply. To hear him explain, no, rationalize his motives, the method to his madness, in such cold detail was staggering. Never had I met someone who would calmly resort to terror and subversion to achieve his means and execute them as though as if it were another job, dismissing any damage caused as though the inevitable was commonplace occurrence. He wasn't thinking in terms like greater or lesser evil, rather he thought in terms of assets and liabilities, return of investment, economic hazard. What's more he takes no more responsibility for it than a clerical error, and he can't be hauled to court, his entire scheme was perfectly compartmentalized, only and I are proof and I can't take it to a judge or jury in any case.

"You must see the logic of my plan, Mr Fisher. You are able to pursue what you did necessary because you can think like me."

"You're right in many respects, about man's place in society, the functions of government, and about our conduct in this world. But you and I the same? That's where you're wrong, where you fall short. I just don't serve my country and my people, I served with them. You may be right that mankind is part of a greater whole but they, by themselves, are greater than the sum of his parts. Let me tell, when I served in the military, I wasn't alone, I was with good men and women. We risked our lives together out there to defend our country, help our allies, keep the world safe. Because defending freedom and peace is a team effort, we only lay down the law on those who threaten the peace, threaten to take lives; and we hope the polies in charge right everything up when the dust settles, not that it happens. After all, me and my brethren-in-arms go home to the world too, families, friends, barbecues, and school recitals; to bills and mortgage payments, to growing-up problems. You may not appreciate those things but when I think of it, I realized how much of the mundane I miss and wanted to be part of. We have opinions, we may disagree with anything, be it atheist or religious; Republican or Democrat; rich or poor; man or woman. My brothers and sisters in the service dearly missed those things. But they feel better that all those things happen because of their sacrifice, they know their children can sleep better, we know because we stand watch for them in the night, making sure nothing gets past us to hurt them. And we make sure they grow up in a better world than what we were left, and teach them to make a better world than we left them."

"Commendable thought, so you and I are not so different. You would do those things for your country."

The thunder struck again, louder this time. This was getting intense. "You have proven yourself wrong again. There must've been something deep inside you from the very start that let you do what you do, but there must've been something deep inside me that would remind me of what I've done for the rest of my life. Is world and the people in it always been dark and incomprehensible to you that you tried to clear your way with logic and superior intellect? And you twist them into a cold, logical excuse for your ugly murder and terror of millions worldwide. You can never make them that."

"How could you say that, Fisher!?" he blurted standing up, offended that I finally called him out of his folly. "Do you know what I just-"

"From what your file tells me, you were an exceptional student, honor roll, but you were also a loner, and you didn't get along with your family. Have you so deprived yourself in an effort to achieve excellence that you lost sight of what it means to be around your fellow men? Have became so lonely that you must believe in something to keep going? Now I know that we are, each of us, a separate human being, with the right to live and work and think as individuals... with an obligation to the society we live in... Society? What you said implied man must subordinate himself, his opinions, to the society he lives in so it can function perfectly. That man owes society, and thus government, everything he has. Man wasn't built to follow the law, law was built to assist man. Society is not some monolithic collective where the greater good prevails over everyone, it's where people build their homes, their lives. And you talk of value and quality? How about what value man places on society and how much it deserves his efforts? Man must call into question the society he lives in because he makes his home in it, otherwise it is no longer a home but a prison, an intolerable yoke which he must throw off. Sometimes people have lost so much faith in society, in people, that they feel the need to destroy it to the foundations to raise it anew. And society was not meant to be run by the likes of you."

"Society molds people like to able think and do what most people will back off from in order to continue its existence.

"By what right did you dare decide that that people in some far-off land, be it Whitefish Montana; Karamay, Xinjiang; Argos, Greece; or Kagoshima Prefecture are of lesser individual value and therefore could be done away with a snap? By what right do dare so that there's superior few who are appointed to oversee society's affairs? Is it because you had others do your dirty work and that you were able to hide or get your peers to turn a blind eye from you? Did you think you were God, Mr. Minister!? Is that what you thought when you sow riots, swine flu, terrorism, armed conflict, attempted starvation, and genocide?! Is that what you thought when you commended the people you had murdered for their selfless work to humanity!? Just to be pawns!? Well, I don't know what you thought or what you are but I know what you've done! You've murdered! You've destroyed! You've razed the lives of fellow human beings who could live and love as you never could - and never will again!"

"What are you doing, Fisher!?" he growled angrily. "Send me to jail!? Send me to death row!? Have me face trial at the Hague like Otomo!? You have no real proof, Fisher! Even if you did I will bring you and your Fourth Echelon down with you, late it all to bare for the whole world to see how pathetic the piece of real estate you call a country really is!"

"No, Mr. Minister, you already dug your own grave," I calmly, coldly replied. I showed him my wristpad's LCD, all the intel in his operations, every damn thing. "All the data is here. All the money you sent, all the shady deals you've made, all the dirty little secrets you scrounged, all the nasty characters you roped in to do your little venture. Some people at the Diet and Prime Minister's office will cry foul over you when they see this."

He stood still as a statue, petrified from my revelation. Then I saw him shake a little. Was that a laugh I hear? Then it became a chuckle, then a guffaw, then became a laugh, the laugh of a man who seemed like he had lost it all. He bent over and pounded the table loudly as the seeming grand joke continued to tickle his funny bone. I gripped my pistol tightly as his laughter echoed throughout the room. I tried not to look back at the door for someone to barge at what's going on lest my diversion give him an opening to jump me.

He regained his composure and gave me the cross of a smirk and a glare. "Did you really think I would let you go with that information? Did you take me underestimate me? Of course you did! I did not get this far in my government by being a dull office clerk."

What the...? What's he saying?

"Fisher!" Grim squawked into my ears. "I've been reading chatter on the police channels and had Charlie break in. They're sending in squad cars and a chopper to your location! Police in riot and assault gear and Special Assault Team inbound."

"Damn!" I muttered. He must have used the break in the jamming to call the police.

"So, Mr. Fisher," he smugly asked, "how do you feel about your face on the front page, of trying to explain why you are holding an important official of the Japanese government at gunpoint?"

I didn't answer. Outside I can hear sirens. I knew people are being evacuated from the building. My eyes bore down at him and his smug grin, and I try my best not to pull the trigger. I should have searched him for a weapon so now I can't make a quick getaway without turning my back to a bulls-eye.

Just as a slowly back to the vent I came in, I heard gunfire. What the hell?

"Fisher, remember about the Yakuza?" It was Briggs. "They were tailing him for a while and they were inside the building. Their job apparently was to keep an eye on him."

"Thanks, Briggs," I answered gratefully. "Protection detail." Since he knew I don't see any point in maintaining radio silence on my end.

"More like worst-case scenario. There's three heat signatures coming your way so you better get outta there."

"Understood." His face, I saw, turned from triumphed to shocked disbelief, outrage. "Sorry, Mr. Minister. Gotta a plane to catch."

He pulled out a pocket pistol from his suit. "Why you-" I tossed a flashbang behind me, the thud got his attention and I dove. The room was filled with an instant sun which devolved into sparks. I didn't hear the door break open.

"Bakayaro!" cried an outraged Yakuza gunman.

"No! Wait-!" But he was cut down to size by mini-Uzi fire, causing him dance briefly like a marionette and causing the glass behind him to shatter. The recoil from the hail of bullets knocked him off his feet and sent off the window. I imagine he must have dropped hard to the concrete below, hopefully his fall broken not by people but sorry to any police cruiser around. A falling human body does great damage to anything it hits.

I hightailed it behind the Yaks before anyone noticed. With my sonar, thermal, and nightvision, I avoided hotspots and entered the elevator shaft through a service panel and climbed the cables up. Coming to the roof in a vent I made it passed the SAT guards, shimmied through a drainpipe down to a ledge, avoiding police lights, made my way back inside a lower floor through an open window, avoiding the police with their flashlights as they rounded up the gunmen. I made it out back, traversed a cable connecting to another building like a chimp, shimmied along its ledge, into a dark alley where I made for a preplanned cache containing new clothes and some bags to stow my gear. Grim and the others should have taken off by now. I just had to play the part of a tourist confused by what's going on and keep walking the streets via a deliberate-confusing route to through off anyone shadowing me and meet my team at the outskirts of Tokyo.


I was glad to take a flight out of Tokyo to the Philippines. I was simply surreal to meet the banality of evil, rather the banality of self-appointed mandates of extra-legal activities in defending one's interests, activities that caused harm to people and nations, shaking the foundations of our society. I have to meet the president, head of the Select Intelligence Committee, SecDef and the Joint Chiefs, State Department, and CIA over what I'm supposed to do with this explosive information after I deplane and get another flight. How could a man like that, with promising career in government, feel empowered to do such things behind his own government's back? How can they be not bothered the terrible cost incurred by their actions? I can think of a few from the top of my head, Himmler, Bormann, and Stalin owed their power to bureaucratic maneuverings. Eichmann tried to downplay his role in the Holocaust by invoking that he was merely part of the machinery of evil J. Edgar Hoover kept attempts to retire from arms' length and Henry Kissinger amassed power unchecked as Secretary of State, had been a proponent for realpolitik, as noted by the late Japanese National Security Adviser in an op-ed piece he wrote. Cardinal Richelieu wielded actual power during 17th-century France.

Then there's Tom Reed.

I had always knew Washington is filled with people like him. But who were to stop them? God knows who and why. I just hope those people wouldn't hold power and sway policy from behind the shadows like he did, where public opinion serves very little. We may be a superpower but we don't deserve to play God, and cause hate that will haunt us generations after, and cause people to distrust their governments.

I tuned in to CNN and saw breaking news on western China:

"Gunfire erupts in the streets of Urumqi as the Xinjiang Uprising enters its fifth day. Anti-government forces, mainly Muslim separatists, have engaged with the Chinese Army in viscous urban combat that left thousands killed, wounded, or missing while millions are displaced, most moving westward to Kazakhstan for fear of Chinese reprisals. The refugee crisis has caused great concern for Astana as they called for an emergency session on how to handle it. Meanwhile, in response to anti-Muslim pogroms in China and the heavy-handed response by Beijing, Muslim anger around the world has reached to a flashpoint. Jakarta has experienced its worst outbreak of ethnic violence since the 1998 riots that targeted its Chinese community. The situation in Pakistan has worsened after the government declared a state of emergency as anti-Chinese demonstrations reached fever pitch and the police refused to clamp down the riots, forcing Islamabad to to deploy the army to retake control of the streets though some speculate the government will lose control of the military as many soldiers are in sympathy with the protestors over China's repressive measures agianst the Uyghurs. In Iraq, militias have besieged the Chinese embassy in Baghdad, forcing the Iraqi government to retake the diplomatic district by force. In Iran the Guardian Council has denounced the violent crackdown of ethnic Uyghurs in China while making no references to China itself, causing tensions within the Islamic republic over its ties with Beijing have been questioned sharply. Around the world people are calling for economic sanctions against China as the crisis heats up. Meanwhile, in Europe, China's response was praised enthusiastically by right-wing groups who led the anti-refugee backlash, saying China "was doing the sane thing of safeguarding civilization in the most direct manner," as stated by head of the Premiere France party-"

I turned it off. I don't know how this world is gonna be right again. But I have to keep on fighting. For Sara.


A/N: The Bunkyo Civic Center is a real government facility. I made the time in which it's set 20XX because it is indeterminate how much time has passed since the Blacklist crisis. I wanted to see how Fisher reacts to a bureaucrat who orchestrates terrorist activities, not having to do any heavy lifting himself. The title comes from the Constitutional Peasants skit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Excellent work of art and comedy. And forgive me for using a gloomy premise because not everyday Sam saves the world just in time to watch America's Got Talent or The Great British Bake Off with his daughter Sara. Sooner or later a harsh reality must be faced if we are to prevail.

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.

-C.S. Lewis, from the preface of The Screwtape Letters.

Without general elections, without freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, without the free battle of opinions, life in every public institution withers away, becomes a caricature of itself, and bureaucracy rises as the only deciding factor.

-Rosa Luxemborg