You’re the overnight security guard for the parking garage of a major American pharmaceutical company.
At 3:16 in the morning, a black vehicle bearing official US government plates pulls up to your booth.
It’s the first vehicle you’ve seen in over an hour, but with the wild work schedules of the pharmaceutical industry, you’re not surprised.
You often overhear them say to one another as they drive out babbling, obviously either drunk, sleep deprived, or both, after a long day, “Bacteria, viruses, discontent, obesity, impotency and baldness never sleep, so neither can we!”
The vehicle pulls next to your window and you see a man in a suit roll down their window.
“Hello,” they say as they extend their arm towards you and flip open a small leather case, “I’m with the FBI. We’ve received a report about one of your foreign-descended researchers and need access to this facility immediately.”
You peer at the badge and certification housed within the leather case in front of your face.
They flip the case closed, retract their arm, and restate, “I need access immediately.”
They sense your hesitation.
“Is there a problem?” They ask you.
You respond, “Well, how do I know you’re FBI?”
They re-extend their arm, and flip open their leather case once more, “Here’s my badge. I’m Agent Woodcock. Please, open the gate.”
You continue to hesitate, and say, “How do I know that’s a real badge? I’ve never seen a real FBI badge in person, and I’ve never been trained how to recognize a real badge. Plus, don’t you need a warrant?”
They look at you with clear exasperation, but you also detect some admiration.
“I feel you, I really do. You know, that’s a totally reasonable request and I have no problem confirming for you. I actually made a mistake by not bringing the warrant, and was hoping I could just get through without it. But I know the security of this place is an important part of our national security too, so I’ll call the local Agents on duty right now to bring the warrant and extra certification so you can be sure. They’re friends of mine, anyway. Would that work for you?”
“I think so, thanks for understanding. I just don’t want to do the wrong thing or get in trouble, you know?”
“Oh, totally! I’m in a hurry, but I’m also a believer in protocols and doing the right thing in the right way. Plus, I haven’t seen my friend Mulch since graduation! It’ll be nice to see them.”
Over the next thirty minutes you chat with the alleged FBI agent.
You discuss your childhood, your struggle to support your own children, pictures of your respective gun collections, pictures of a trip with your children to the beach last summer, your mutual disgust for both presidential candidates, and the agent’s secret fear of swimming.
Thirty minutes into the discussion, a black car pulls up behind Agent Woodcock’s vehicle.
The new vehicle has the same official US Government plates as the one Agent Woodcock is driving.
One woman and one nonbinary person exit the vehicle holding paperwork.
“Agents Sternberg and Mulch, good to see you.” Agent Woodcock calls from his vehicle as they walk up.
“And you, Agent Woodcock.” Agent Mulch, the nonbinary alleged FBI agent replies.
“I apologize for forgetting the warrant and bothering you two so early.”
“No bother at all! We’re happy to leave the office. In fact, maybe we can all grab coffee after this.”
“If I have time…yeesh. This is a doozy of a case!”
“I heard something about it. Sorry, JP.” Agent Sternberg says with sympathy.
The two agents turn to you and say, “Right, so here’s the warrant old Agent Woodcock over there didn’t quite remember, and an official letter from our supervisor requiring full, legally mandated assistance from your organization.”
Agent Mulch hands you the two documents, which contain official letterhead and look legitimate.
However, you still hesitate.
“I’m so sorry to do this, but how do I know any of this is real.”
A look passes between the Agents.
“Well, that warrant is signed by Judge Davis, who you can look up. And that letter is signed by our supervisor, Special Agent Greg Jeffries, who you can also look up, if you need to.”
You take a moment to search for both the Judge and the Special Agent on your computer.
You see their profiles on official US Government and State websites.
“Yes, but how can I know for sure they’re the ones who signed these?” You ask.
“Well, aside from meeting them yourself, I guess you’ll just have to trust us, my friend.” Agent Woodcock laughs. “I understand your precautions, but I hope you’ll let me through to do my job.”
You respond, “I can call my manager, and she can go with you to meet both signers to confirm. Or she can call their offices to confirm, if it can wait till morning.”
“My friend, at this point I’m afraid I must insist you let us through. It’s the law.”
You hesitate, but persist, “It will only take a moment…let me call my manager.”
As you reach for your phone, Agent Woodcock shoots you in the chest with a silenced pistol.
You slump against the side of your booth in immense pain and feel your lungs fill with blood.
While you’re still aware, Agent Mulch asks, in a posh British accent, “Damn, how did they know?”
Agent Woodcock responds, also in an upper-class British accent, “It doesn’t matter, this is minor. The operation is still a go.”
A man steps out from the back of the second vehicle and you recognize the leader of the Red Coats, Prince Edward Windsor X, from your favorite series, Most Dangerous Corporate Terrorist Live Countdown with Klarkson Taily.
As your consciousness fades, other Red Coat terrorists exit arriving vehicles and gather around their leader.
You focus on how the Prince’s mouth froths and drools as he screams, “Remember, the glory of hegemony was stolen from our great Empire by faithless dogs like Slater the Traitor.
These colonial mongrels would be nothing without us!
This is not theft; we are repossessing our rightful property!
I make this decree by authority of my family’s Divine Right, granted to us by the Lord God Almighty!”