This article originally appeared in Jump Point 8.7.
Chapter 7: Calming the Crossroads of Crime
The events surrounding Kellar’s Run shocked the Empire and embarrassed the Advocacy. The inability of the UEE’s top law enforcement agency to stop one criminal from wreaking havoc across five systems transformed them into a punchline overnight. Vids of the dramatic chase flooded spectrum. Each portrayed the Advocacy as disorganized and unable to contain the chaos caused by a single, skilled pilot fleeing from enraged outlaws, opportunistic bounty hunters, angry civilians, and local law enforcement. The following day, Advocacy director Renzo Berlanga met with Imperator Mikkel Sheriden and offered his resignation. Imperator Sheriden wasted no time in asking, “Do you want to be remembered as the director who let this happen, or the one who fixed it?”
Bolstered by the Imperator’s call to action, Director Berlanga instituted sweeping reforms that would affect the agency and the empire. He restructured existing operation teams by isolating and removing agents that weren’t effective in the field, raised the Advocacy’s enrollment standards, increased annual training requirements for all agents, established inter-system exercises, and more. Berlanga also had an extensive discussion with the Imperator about Nexus, the figurative and literal center of Kellar’s Run. Following this discussion and others within the government, the UEE officially reclaimed Nexus in 2931 in an attempt to break up the cluster of unclaimed systems. Experts would ultimately credit these initiatives with positively reforming the Advocacy, but many of the practical effects would take time to manifest. Meanwhile, crime rates continued to rise through 2932 and 2933, with Nexus seeing one of the most significant spikes in illegal activity.
By 2934, Director Berlanga realized that systemic reforms could only go so far and a more focused approach would be needed to address specific issues in each system. First on his list was Nexus. Without any fanfare, he visited the system, met with Section Chief Alesia Mowry, and requested a tour. SC Mowry quickly assembled a small team for protection and took Director Berlanga on a ‘safe’ tour of the system.
“Ten minutes into it he told me to cut the shit and show him what’s really going on,” recalled SC Mowry, “so I took him to Nexus III. Once he saw how entrenched gangs were in old mining sites and underground facilities, he understood that more agents and better equipment weren’t going to fix this.”
Thus began an open and honest conversation between Director Berlanga and SC Mowry about how to bring law and order to the system. While the rise in crime rate statistics could be attributed in part to additional Advocacy field agents logging more arrests and incident reports, SC Mowry believed that these low-level arrests were actually serving to increase syndicate activity. With the majority of arrests being unaffiliated or low-level operators, small and medium-sized outlaw packs either consolidated or integrated themselves into bigger syndicates that could promise protection in numbers. One Advocacy source even claimed the Supreme, one of Nexus III’s most notorious gangs, had almost doubled in size since 2932.
“I told the Director that we should enforce UEE laws, but do so strategically by targeting and focusing attention on prominent syndicates one-by-one. I figured that concentrating resources would be more effective and hopefully spread the word that the Advocacy meant business once it set its sights on you,” recalled SC Mowry.
Director Berlanga agreed with the approach and extended his stay in Nexus to strategize. He considered several plans before deciding the Supreme’s expanding influence made their headquarters on Nexus III a prime target for such a statement strike. Resources and agents from other systems made their way to Nexus and, in the early hours of July 24, 2934, launched with a search warrant listing a litany of crimes allegedly carried out by members of the syndicate. No one expected the Supreme to surrender quietly.
With Director Berlanga back at Advocacy headquarters, SC Mowry oversaw the operation from a command ship in orbit above Nexus III. Advocacy Tactical Team Leader Terrance Kemp snuck an advance team into the Supreme base to disable the facility’s anti-aircraft turrets. After achieving their objective, they were discovered and engaged in a fierce firefight. Their success allowed Advocacy dropships to deploy more agents, as the Supreme rallied forces and mounted a vigorous defense. Meanwhile, Advocacy ships quickly abandoned their plan to attack the radar tower after the rapid arrival of Supreme ships and the deployment of an unexpected and extremely deadly weapon — an old orbital mining laser modified to defend the base.
Inside the facility, Advocacy agents slowly made their way through the darkened halls, running into resistance around every corner. The still active radar tower allowed Supreme forces to skillfully coordinate their response and control the weaponized mining laser. Tactical Team Leader Kemp believed the Supreme were orchestrating their operations from a command center inside the facility, and finding it became his primary objective.
“There was no time to strategize. We were under constant harassment from a force defending their home turf,” recalled Kemp. “Eventually, we reached an open, common area with several hallways branching off it. I was about to send agents down each one when I spotted something, a strange marking on the wall that looked like the Banu word for ‘war’.”
Next to this glyph was an arrow pointing down one of the hallways. Similar strange symbols were near each hallway entrance, but none reused that same shape language. Only after the attack did the Advocacy learn that the Supreme had created a unique set of symbols so those that couldn’t read or speak standard could still navigate around the facility.
Kemp’s familiarity with Banu paid off, as the hallway led to the war room where Supreme commanders were coordinating operations. Breaching the room proved to be a harrowing and costly endeavor for Advocacy forces, but following a fierce fight, they gained control of it, tipping the battle in their favor. Once the radar tower was destroyed and the mining laser taken offline, the surviving Supreme fighters fled. Kemp’s team slowly and carefully cleared the facility, eliminating any remaining pockets of resistance. With their headquarters in Advocacy hands, the Supreme were effectively crushed. Surviving syndicate members would try to reconstitute the group over the years, but they were never again major players in the Nexus underworld.
Although Director Berlanga was happy with the outcome, he was concerned about the high number of casualties. Still, he instructed SC Mowry to capitalize on this momentum and continue to clear out outlaws entrenched on Nexus III. Under SC Mowry’s guidance, the Advocacy spent the next few years slowly reclaiming the planet. To ensure outlaws wouldn’t flee only to return later, the Advocacy worked with the UEE military to bring in troops to hold the facility and establish their own base. Yet, not everything went smoothly. In 2935, outlaws displaced by the UEE’s retaking of Nexus III perpetrated the horrific Walzer Massacre at OP Station Demien. The event shocked the Empire and hardened the Advocacy’s resolve to bring law and order to the system.
SC Mowry stewardship of the initiative earned her a promotion to Deputy Assistant Director and paved the way for her replacement, Section Chief Consuelo Ivery, to reclaim Nexus IV. Then politics intervened when scrutiny from a Senate subcommittee revealed how many credits were spent and Advocacy officers lost in reclaiming Nexus III. Senators questioned what was gained besides aging bases on an abandoned and resourceless planet and threatened to cut the Advocacy’s budget if a similar brute force approach was taken on Nexus IV. Already under fire for the Skycap scandal where twenty of the agency’s Avenger Titan Renegades disappeared only to end up in outlaw hands, Director Berlanga acquiesced to political pressure and stopped the plan to retake Nexus IV.
The failure to be able to fully secure Nexus IV has resulted in the system’s strange security situation. Nexus III is accessible to military personnel only, while Nexus IV still has a strong outlaw presence and remains one of the more dangerous planets in the UEE. For some, the UEE’s attempt to calm the crossroads of crime exemplifies its struggle to bring law and order to the Empire. Once one hotspot is stamped out, another immediately flares up.