Ghost Story - Seeds of Dissent



Lucky you caught me, kid. I'm on a case right now.

Yeah, I can't just sit in my damn office or wander the streets all day long. Not good for business, and I don't get paid. And since I happen to like getting paid, that kinda clinches it.

No, you can't tag along. This is a serious operation. A gang of Renegades has holed themselves up somewhere in the city, and my assistant's spent the past four months infiltrating them. I need to find them, and see about the best way to bring her out, whether I just 'arrest' her and Legionnaires catch the rest on patrol, or whether it'd take a couple of squads in full armour to get her out.

Yeah, I have an assistant. I can't do everything this job needs on my own.

Look, you're probably thinking that the Renegades are just misunderstood, yeah? That despite what the Hierarchy says about them, they're really good people doing what they think is right and in the end they aren't hurting anyone so it doesn't matter. Am I right? Heh. I thought so.

Unfortunately, it ain't that simple. Every Renegade gang is different. So, what makes a Renegade? A Renegade is any Wraith that opposes the rule of Stygia and the Hierarchy, but does not have a religious bent to his beliefs. It's a wide-open category. It doesn't include Freewraiths, those that don't actually work for their Legion but don't want to break down the whole of society. What it does include are freedom fighters, political ideologists, bullies, free thinkers, mercenaries and anyone else that is working against the governing body. Problem is, while they're all working against the Hierarchy, the established system, they all have different reasons for doing so. And no two gangs can agree on what should replace the Hierarchy.

Don't get me wrong. The Hierarchy, despite those Renegade news sheets that you see, doesn't hunt down every Renegade that we hear of. That'd be a waste of time and effort. Our main duty right now is keeping Oblivion at bay. I won't lie to you, the upper levels of our illustrious system are corrupt, most of the Deathlords fighting over a handful of souls trying to wangle political power. That's why I like the Quiet Lord...

But anyway. Our job is keeping Oblivion at bay. There's two ways we can do this, we can stop souls close to it from falling to oblivion, and we can fight the blue blazes against whatever crawls up out of the Labyrinth. But we need our organisation to be able to do that.

Renegades, they want to smash it all down and start again. Some of them, mostly the independents, we leave well alone. If they're just out there thinking about a better system, then more power to them. If they can come up with something better then I'm all ears. And there are some that might rant and rave about the Hierarchy, but we can't hit them as it'd be bad PR.

You know WDED, that Renegade wireless station? You really think we want to hit the two guys running that? Hell, they could. I've had to talk down a couplea Legionnaires that wanted to. But what'd be the point? All kinds of Wraiths listen to that station, just like all kinds read the news sheets. And if we were to go barging in and arrest anyone that set up one of those things, then we'd be giving otherwise quiet Renegades a reason to act, and we'd be making some of our own side resent us. I know it ain't the same situation in every city, but here that's what people figure. So, the radio keeps blasting out, and the news sheets keep in circulation.

But even we have breaking points. What about a news sheet that is trying to provoke a riot? What about one that looks to be doing nothing but fostering hatred for the system, rather than giving some of us something to laugh about and some of them something to think about? That's when it gets ugly. We're tolerant in this city, but we ain't that tolerant. We have to run our own form of censorship, and since the people doing the printing ain't going to listen to a nice quiet chat, that means arresting them.

What, you'd rather that we didn't? Start thinking, kid. If we let crap like that get out, the only thing it would do is strengthen the feelings of resentment and hatred in people. And to me that sounds a bit too much like strengthening people's Shadows. So we have to arrest them, before they manage to wreck everything. Sounds unfair? The cure's still better than the disease. Not all of them see that, and sometimes the cure tastes like piss.

Problem is, not all Renegades are like that. Not all of them are content to sit there and think and dream. Most of them try acting, and that's when they become criminals. See, that's the problem, they want to tear down the 'oppressive force of the Hierarchy'. Tear down the only thing standing between them and Oblivion, more like. And how do they do that? Kidnapping. Brainwashing. Torture. Out and out violence. They want the system down yesterday, so they need to be brash in their actions. Only some of those want to put anything in it's place. As I said, there are bullies in there, Wraiths that are Renegades just because it gives them the best chance to hurt someone. Some of the so-called freedom fighters are like that, believing themselves to be oppressed because they were when they were alive but now they have more of a chance to fight back. They don't care what goes up, just what comes down. And when what goes down are your friends, to a Harrowing, then it's time to take off the kid gloves and beat them into chains. Hell, if they just wanted to be bullies they could have signed up for the Grim Legion.

But you didn't hear me say that.

There is one last group, the one we tend to be able to make deals with. That's the mercenaries. They're Renegades rather than Freewraiths as most of them couldn't give two hoots what becomes of the Hierarchy. On the other hand , you pay them enough and they'll fight for you. Course, some groups, you have to pay them to start fighting, and then you got to pay them again to stop fighting. But there are honourable mercenaries out there, just don't think that because one fought with you to repel an attack by Spectres means that he's not going to cut you up when someone pays him. Money's all that matters to these guys.

Of course, when there's a Maelstrom coming in, you'd better forget about politics. Save their asses and they might just remember it and return the favour.