The Royal Arcadian Mounted Police was once the premier law enforcement agency on the Sphere. It was created in the early days of human settlement in Arcadia as a mobile agency capable of protecting settlers in remote areas as well as protecting the frontiers of the United Kingdom of Arcadia. Its motto was Justice served no matter how far. In later eras the RAMPs traveled all across the Sphere teaching the police forces of other plates the RAMP style of justice, so it is that many police forces across Terra Prime in some way resemble the RAMP. That is they resemble RAMP the way it was in the early years, before the Wallace Dynasty turned it into an evil and often excessive Security Police organization. Now adays mention the term RAMP in polite society and people will understand that you are talking about an organization akin to the Gestapo, KGB and Black Fist in evil and treachery.
A History of Law and Order by Kothar Khonn I
For Justice and the Crown!
Traditional Battle Cry of the RAMP
Chapter 6: Royal Arcadian Mounted Police
Griswold Court, the general headquarters of the RAMP was usually a busy place in the best of times. But today, with the crack down on dissidents, it was tens times as busy as usual.
Dennis Pendragon, the Commissioner of the RAMP, was in his office at his desk, perusing the reports from the files that scrawled through his padd. As was his habit when he was alone in his office, Pendragon wore a pair of spex that created a virtual environ around him. Instead of being in the cold, austere government office of the Commissioner of the Royal Arcadian Mounted Police he was sitting in a comfortable country cabin that his parents used to rent when he was a boy.
That wasn’t too long ago. At twenty four standard years of age he was the youngest man ever to serve as Commissioner. Many considered him wet behind the ears but in the two years since the King had appointed him to this officer he felt assured that he had proven himself to be an asset to the realm and a true patriotic citizen more than capable of performing the tasks of his office.
His innate ability to manipulate things from behind the scenes helped in the regard. He was not so much a leader as an administrator. A laid back fellow who got people to do things for him.
So far the Martial Law edict was working out well. The prisons were filling up with dissidents. Mostly college students who didn’t have the sense to know that their childish temper tantrums would not make much difference in the long run.
But there were other, more disturbing. A large amount of scientist and artists were turning anti-Wallace. And their families along with them.
Then there were veterans of the Forces who seemed to resent the current regency and its suspension of parliament. Foremost among them were folks who had served with Nathaniel Taylor or his father and uncle. Loyal to House Taylor even though that had proven to be a foolish point of view.
Then there were the Barons and their loyal retainers who also did not seem to want to cooperate. Many of them were under house arrest but soon it would become necessary to build interment camps for them and their kith and kin. No one could be allowed to oppose the Wallace family and House Wallace. No one could stand in the way of Wallace supremacy and power.
But Pendragon was certain that RAMP—with its Kai'Vhan auxiliary detachments, cold handle all of that. Even though he did not trust the Vhan and their Zatakon masters. He did not wish to yield that much authority to off-platers and mercenaries.
While he was contemplating that the holo-image of his personal agent materialized over the holo-stage on his desk.
“Sir, the Baron Toliver is here to see you on urgent business.”
Oh, great, thought Pendragon. Toliver was one of the few Barons who were on the side of the Wallace Dynasty. And that was mainly because he was the Director-General of MI-13, the Arcadian Secret Intelligence Service. RAMP and MI-13 were rivals for the bigger piece of the National Security credit and the power and prestige that went along with it.
If Toliver was here personally on urgent business if most likely meant that he had something he wanted to rub in and wanted to enjoy dong it himself. Unlike Pendragon Lord Toliver was a hands-on type of guy.
He also had social rank forcing Pendragon to show him all the respect that was due a lord of the realm. Translation: if he feeds you shit smile and say “thank you, your grace, can I have some more?”
“Send him in,” said the Commissioner.
The door opened and in stepped the hulking frame of the Baron Tolliver. He was nearly two meters in height, with a clean shaven pate and a large, handlebar moustache. He wore the uniform of a Colonel in the Royal Guard, replete with gold piped, blue jacket and rows of decorations.
“Good afternoon, Commissioner,” said the giant. “I trust that you are well today.’
Pendragon nodded. “I am. And yourself?”
Toliver shrugged. “I have been to see the King. He is not happy.”
Here it comes, thought Pendragon.
“And what is it that makes His Grace unhappy?”
Pulled a wing chair up to the desk and squatted on it. Damnit if he did not look like a giant toad. Some nightmare from a child’s fairy tale gone wrong.
Toliver was a cruel man. He used his giant size to dominate others and he was a saddest. As a boy he liked to torture animals and pull the wings off of flying insects. Had he not been a favorite of Radu Wallace and a Royal he might well be a ritual killed in the allies of the city’s poorer regions. Not that there was not suspicions that he was anyway.
“His Grace is unhappy at the lack of progress on the part of the law enforcement community. He does not feel comfortable that certain rebel elements are still at large.”
“We do all that we can,” said Pendragon, looking down at the padd on his desk as it searching for a clue.
“Take those damned VR glasses off, man,” Toliver growled. “For all I know in your VR image I am a giant gray rabbit eating a carrot.”
Pendragon took the spex off his face and laid them carefully on the desk. He hated the way the world looked without his spex. It was, he was sure, an addiction, but a harmless one.
“I have some information to share with you,” said Toliver. “Something that was passed along by our friend in Pangea.”
Whenever Toliver said “our friend of ours in Pangea” he meant his agent in the Pangean Court. This person, whose identity was still unknown to Pendragon, had been sharing tidbits of information with Mi-13 for over a decade. He was their chief source on the Emperor or Pangea and his family.
“What is it?” he asked the Baron.
“Someone important has been missing from the usual functions in Pangea. A certain prince of the realm has not been seen at the usual ruby matches and social settings. His absence is quite telling since whenever he is missing from the Court it is most likely because he is on a mission for his father.”
“Toreus the Younger,” said Pendragon, trying to suppress the chill that ran up his spine. Few people frightened him as much a Toreus the Younger. And the other few people who did both worked for the Emperor of Pangea.
Kothar Khonn the Elder and his namesake son scared Pendragon as did the spacer privateer Carter Tauran. But they did not scare him as much as Toreus. Because Toreus Rhann had long ago threatened to kill him.
“Yes, Toreus the Younger,” said Toliver. “And if he is missing from the Court at this time the possibility is strong that he is on another mission for his father.”
Yes, it was well known through the Sphere’s Intelligence Community that the Emperor of Pangea, unable because of his lofty position to do so himself, from time to time dispatch his eldest son on special missions throughout Terra Prime and sometimes beyond.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean that he is on a mission that has anything to do with us,” Pendragon pointed out.
“Oh?” said Toliver. “Then you don’t think it could have anything to do with the arrest of Nathaniel Taylor, a cousin of the Rhanns. Or the fact that the Emperor is no big fan of King Radu Wallace of Arcadia.”
It did not seem likely that it did not, thought Dennis Pendragon, a chill running the length of his body.
“Then there is your personal history with the Crown Prince of Thuvia,” said Toliver with a huge, ugly grin on his face, made even more horrid by his handlebar moustache,
“I have no personal history with that…man,” Pendragon barked.
“Oh?” laughed the Intelligence Chief of Arcadia. “That is not what my sources said. And my sources are usually quite accurate—as you know.”
“Then your sources have let you down,” said Pendragon, wishing the the spy master would drop the subject.
“As I understand it you had a run in with Toreus Rhann I during the Hydropangea affair. You were in the Reserves back then and not yet the chief policeman of Arcadia. Apparently the Lion Man threatened to kill you. I was not able to learn why such a threat was made. The matter was dropped and no charges were made by either side. It must have been something embarrassing for you to let it pass.”
“Rumors and old wives gossip,” said Pendragon.
“Perhaps but there were witness to the threat and one thing I know. A lion man of Thuvian does not make an idle threat. If they threaten to kill you it is a promise and someday it will be kept.”
“I don’t have time to talk about primitive tribal nonsense,” said Dennis Pendragon. “Lion men are just men despite all the pulp fiction myths and legends surrounding them. Toreus Rhann is just a bully who spends most of his free time chasing women and flying football. His daddy made him a lion man out of custom and nothing else. Just as our king is called a defender of the cross even though no one in the royal family has practiced Christianity in over five hundred years.”
Dennis was shaking but he did not want Toliver to know that. He remembered the incident well. The hulking warrior had caught him indulging in something best not mentioned with a young boy. The man had nearly killed him in a rage and would have had not Kothar Khonn junior stopped him,
He remembered Toreus' big finger waving in his face and the words washed over him as if fresh as today. Leave my cousin’s kingdom, monster. Never return and never enter Pangea again. If ever our paths cross I will kill you.
“It means little to me,” Toliver shrugged. “I just thought that if Toreus is coming to Arcadia—or if he is already here—he might make good on his promise while he is in the neighborhood.”
“He isn’t and he won’t.”
But the statement sounded hollow to Dennis Pendragon. The attack on his person by the hulking Pangean prince, even though it did no lasting physical harm, still sent waves of dread through his being. The man had wanted to kill him and only the intervention of his friend had stopped him.
No, not stopped. Stalled the inevitable. Because, he knew, that if Toreus Rhann ever laid eyes on him again he would be killed.
“Of course you have to look at the bigger picture, Dennis,” said the spy lord.
“Which would be?”
“It would not be good for the King and the Arcadian government to have its chief of police killed by a member of the Pangean Royal Family. Something would have to be done in the way of reprisal and…well…face it…Arcadia is nowhere capable of waging war against Pangea and her allies. Nor is the King willing to wage a war that might involve infractions of the Guild Treaty on behalf of yourself. You’re not that important. But, just the same, the act would embarrass Arcadia and leave us with no means of redress.”
So Toreus Rhann will kill me and perhaps the Ambassador will send a terse and angry little note that the Emperor will ignore.
“Nor,” continued Toliver. “Will we be able to arrest the Prince. Diplomatic immunity and all. He will slaughter you and get away with it, I am afraid.”
Dennis felt as if he were going to loose the contents of his bowels right there in his office.
“And, of course, the rebels will cheer him. They don’t like you, Dennis. Never have. And if the Commissioner of RAMP can be killed it will only encourage assaults on other—more important—government officials. No, that just will not do.”
“So, what can we do about that?” Pendragon asked.
Toliver shrugged. “Well…perhaps if the Prince of Thuvia were to be caught in Arcadia performing an act that is hostile to the government of the plate. And if he were killed in the performance of this act…so that his side of the story would be the side that we tell and not the side that he himself tells…well, then we might be able to shame the Emperor into backing off from any actions interfering with our national sovereignty. Perhaps cause him trouble at home. Perhaps even give the republicans who wish to displace the Emperor and replace him with an elected head of state. Well, what I am saying is that all of that would work out splendidly for us—would it not?”
Kill a democracy to support an absolute dictatorship. For some reason Pendragon did not really like the sound of that. But it was not his concern. He was not here to fight for principals. He was here to save his own neck and make sure that Dennis Pendragon lived the life of power and comfort that he felt he deserved.
“Will I be given a Royal Finding to cover this?” Pendragon asked.
Toliver shook his head. “The King is not to be linked to this in any way.”
“The person who killed Toreus—whether the Emperor is embarrassed by it or not—will forfeit his life. Am I being asked to fall on my sword?”
Toliver shrugged. “I’m sure that you can find someone to do the dirty work for you. Isn’t that your talent? To manipulate others into doing something unpleasant that advances your cause.”
Pendragon hated that the Baron had said that. He personally knew it to be true but he did not like others to point it out to him. He preferred the illusion that he was a brave and stalwart knight of the realm—not a Machiavellian coward.
But he let it slide by. And when he did something occurred to him.
He knew just the man for the job. Yes, just the man. Someone who could take the bullet for Dennis Pendragon.
Yes, he would do nicely.
The Baron Toliver took his leave and Pendragon called his agent.
“Have Inspector Saratoga come to my office, please.”
James Augustus Saratoga was failing upward in the RAMP. He was in the rackets division of the force. The rackets divsi9on of any police force is that unit in charge enforcing morality. As the Wallaces moved forward in their war for morality the responsibilities of this division grew and deepened. And so did the graft paid by pimps, pornographers, bookies and drug peddlers to keep the RAMP off their backs. Jimmy Saratoga had lined his pockets with the graft and had even accepted the ministrations of under aged prostitutes. He had wallowed in that corruption. And still he was not happy. And because they knew the truth about the Organized Crime Division of RAMP, his bosses withheld promotions that he should have gotten for his years of service if not his merit. That had been the status quo. Until this evening. That was when the Commissioner had called him into his office and offered him a promotion if he performed a task. A task that he was to discuss with no one else and was to keep no written notes on. At first Jimmy Saratoga was scared. No notes and no records meant that he and he alone would assume all the risks. If it went wrong then he and he alone would stand on the gallows and take the punishment. It also meant that if he tried to talk about it to anyone—perhaps the still free news media of the Spheric Net—he would most likely be quiet killed by one of the gangs of killers that the Arcadian government kept on tap. And the task? Oh, that was juicy. If he failed then he might have the Prince of Lion men gunning for him. What could Jimmy do? Well, he was a few years short of retirement and he really hadn’t saved enough of the graft money to keep him comfortable. And one did not refuse a personal request for the Commissioner of the Royal Arcadian Mounted Police. Rumor had it that Dennis Pendragon had once busted an agent down in rank for refusing to wash his car. No, there was little choice. He had said yes and returned to his office to begin working up a campaign. That’s where he was now. With an open bottle of Jurassican rice wine and slices of lemon. Working up a plan in his head because he did not dare write anything down. He would do what Pendragon had done. He would pass the crosshairs of the assassin down to someone else. Make sure that someone else paid the price and not him. That was the way you did things in the Royal Arcadian Mounted Police. That was the way you did things in the whole Arcadian government. Make sure that someone else bleeds for your sins. This train of thought made Jimmy Saratoga feel much better. In fact it made him downright optimistic. Who knows, if I play this right I might end up the next Commissioner of the Royal Arcadian Mounted Police. He mentally selected four names from a list he kept in his head. Yes, those four would do nicely. He then called all four men to his office.