Benjamin Yarkov watched the applicant enter his office. He sighed. Military types always looked the same. Close cropped hair. A brand new suit. Neutral faces they thought showed authority. He stood and shook the man's hand, admiring his taste in ties. Real silk had become a luxury again since China's production had shut down before the war.
"Major Nash Works, Sir," the man said.
"Pleased to meet you." Benjamin waved toward the wood chair in front of his desk. "Let's get started."
"Drop the 'sir'. Call me Ben."
"Yes, s— Uh, Ben." He shifted in the seat. "You are the head of the Life Security Agency."
Ben smiled. He opened the Major's file laying on his battered desk, and scribbled a few tiny words on the inside front cover.
Respects the chain of command.
He glanced at the picture topping a stack of paper containing everything about Nash from his first Christmas present to what time he went to bed the night before. The Major looked as stern in civilian clothing as uniform.
"Did you love the military or think it was a fun power trip?"
The Major frowned. "What, si— Ben?"
"Just that. Are you a Major because it pays the most or because you love your men and country?"
"I love my country, si— Ben."
"That's good, Major. How much combat have you seen?"
"I enlisted in 2023, was posted on the Chinese/Russian border at the start of the war, then got picked for special forces in time to be wounded during Operation BROKEN RIDGE. My injuries put me in the tactics room."
"That was some fight. Nothing like Tibet in winter."
The Major nodded.
"Why do you want to join the LSA?"
"The Asian War is over. We're being downsized."
Ben smirked. "Why don't you join law enforcement?"
"Why join a militia when there's the Army, why join the police when there's the LSA?
"I like your attitude." Ben leaned back and swiveled his chair toward the right. He pressed a couple buttons on the arm, activating the huge screen that filled the wall. White lines traced a grid of inch by inch squares. A live view from a camera somewhere on Earth cycled through each square. "Do you know what that is?"
"Take a look." Ben watched for the first signs of disbelief. No one ever thought the images were real.
The Major's face went slack, and he was silent for several seconds. "Is that what I think it is?"
"What do you think it is?"
Believes what he sees.
"Each picture is a stream from a camera somewhere in the world that's hooked up to a computer, cell phone, PDA, or any other electronic device."
The Major's eyes darted from side to side. "Even bathrooms."
Ben nodded as he wrote.
"We can look at them anytime?"
Ben slashed out 'possible'. "Yes, but let's move on. What do you think we do here?"
The Major grinned. "You oversee the planet's security, alerting local authorities to crime captured on digital feeds, and monitor for terrorist activity."
"Something like that." Ben pushed more buttons. A still picture of a pimple faced young man filled the screen. "Any idea what he did?"
"He's a criminal?"
"Looks like a kid."
"Three years ago Marvin Brown hacked the New York Power Authority and shut down the whole state for a month."
"That was solar flares."
"It was reported as solar flares." The picture of Marvin switched to one of a burnt house. "Because Marvin was removed."
"As a threat to our country?"
Perceived enemies are expendable.
The image changed to a man in military fatigues standing at the edge of a forest surrounded clearing. The picture had been taken from high above the ground.
"I hope you know this guy."
"Moses Marcel. Leader of the Last Days Cult."
The Major shrugged. "One of his men shot him to stop an assassination attempt on the United States President."
A picture of a Removal Team member in LSA's gray and blue uniform replaced Moses Marcel. "Well, not his man, but close enough."
Follows current events.
Ben pushed another button. Half the picture was of a dirty man in tattered clothes being escorted to a police car; the other half was of the same man, much younger, sitting in front of a computer with a bound and gagged woman in a chair behind him.
"Kenny Pierce?" The Major paused. "But—"
"He kidnapped, raped, and killed 172 people." Ben paused, letting the words hang. "Over a period of nineteen years. He's the deadliest confirmed serial killer in history."
The Major touched the screen. "You didn't stop him?"
"Not our job."
"Not your—" The Major shook his head. "Why? He destroyed families."
"It gave the locals something to do."
"He killed innocents that I swore to protect!"
Ben sighed. "You swore to protect your country. He wasn't a threat to the government, only a local menace."
The Major sagged in the chair, putting covering his face with hands that looked too delicate for killing.
Ben put down his pen. "That concludes the interview."
The Major looked up. "But—"
Ben strode around the desk and took him by the elbow. "It's a difficult job. Few make it."
"I'm fine. Just—"
Ben tugged on the man's arm. "Others are waiting."
The Major relaxed and Ben led him out the door. Ben returned to his desk, and poked two buttons on the phone.
Tom, head of the Removal Team, made the speaker crackle with his deep voice. "Yes, Ben?"
"Applicant 47 failed. Remove him, and store the body with the others until the position is filled. Make this one painless, I liked this guy."
"Make sure our condolences are sent out after the bus crash. We don’t need more awkward questions. The government isn’t supposed to make mistakes."
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