Spartacus - War All The Time, Chapter 1 (Agron/Nasir)
Title: War All The Time
Summary: Modern AU. The longest-running and strongest government in history is engaged in a war with an enemy they can’t even find, let alone eradicate. The world as its known is on the brink of destruction, and one man must choose what side to stand on.
“Panic gripped the streets of Capua this morning as another bomb exploded in the heart of the Capua Market, leaving one dead and dozens critically injured. Preliminary reports have linked the latest attack, the third in the past two months, to the radical terrorist group known as the Brotherhood. Capua police have yet to comment, but Governor Supreme Claude Glaber has released the following statement, ‘The Capua police department has launched a full investigation into the violent attack on the Capua Market this morning. The victims of this brutal and unjust violation of human rights will be avenged, and all forms of terror and unrest will be punished and eradicated.’ Updates will be provided throughout the day as news develops.”
Amid a whirlwind of raised voices and rushed footsteps, Nasir attempted to catch his breath, but the air around him was tense. Another attack on the city, another message from the feared terrorist group that had been declared Enemy #1 seven months ago. More blood shed, more lives lost, more promises of retribution that had yet to be seen to fruition. His fellow citizens scurried around him, tears flowing freely, and while Nasir felt compassion towards the lives ended and the ones who mourned them, it was more than just grief that hung in the air; it was fear.
Nasir couldn’t help but wonder just what the republic’s definition of retribution truly meant. It had been promised immediately following the first bomb attack, guaranteed again after the second, and again and again yet there was no retribution to be had. It was not a question that the rebels would meet their end, for none could stand against Capua and its sister cities for very long. Nasir merely wondered just how many innocent people had to die before the Brotherhood would crumble.
Quickening his steps, Nasir rounded the corner only to be met by more panic and confusion. Despite this morning’s events, he and everyone else still had places to be, things that had to be done. Attempting to slip through the crowd that had gathered in front of the News Billboard, he was determined to make his way through the mass of bodies clamoring for direction. He, too, feared the safety of the only home he had ever known, but not even that fear could cause him to sway. Like clockwork, the speakers that hung high above the heads of the crowd crackled to life, the monotone voice that he had come to know as well as his own mother’s providing directions the crowd cried for. “There is no cause for panic,” it intoned. “Resume your duties at once. There is no cause for panic. Resume your duties at once.”
And at that, the revere that had a vice grip on the citizens of Capua had been broken. The crowd began to part, shuffling away from the billboard and towards their destinations. Breathing a sigh of relief, Nasir continued his trek, careful as always to set his eyes to the concrete, to appear as nonthreatening as possible. Everyone was a suspect these days, and the more he could do to not arouse suspicion the better.
After all, he had not seen the man whose work station had been no more than three paces away from him, who had always smiled agreeably and held tongue at gazes full of contempt and even more vile words, for two weeks now.
Upon entering the building, the elevator ride to the eleventh floor was silent save for the hum of the lift as it ascended. It was peculiar how this latest attack had managed to unnerve him, when the attacks before had warranted little concern. He was not alone in the sentiment, he noticed as he stepped off the elevator. Everyone around him seemed to have the same idea, the same strained smiles on their faces as they struggled to maintain light conversation, the nervous twitch of fingers as they prattled on about everything but the very thing they wanted to discuss. It would be like this throughout the entire day, and the days to come if news of the Brotherhood’s demise wasn’t announced soon.
Lifting his hand, he pressed his wrist against the time clock, his bracelet glowing green as he checked in. Thank the Gods he had managed to arrive on time, the last thing he needed was inquiry from the Department of Immigration. As one of the very, very few in the city that had been granted sponsorship, he understood the importance of checking in on time better than most. In the fifteen years since, he had yet to cause concern over his selection, and he was not about to start. He had heard rumors of what happened to those like him…rumors that, more than likely, were far kinder than the actual truth. He would not mock the sacrifice his family, his mother most of all, had made in order to secure a better future for him than the one that had been allotted for her.
Still, he could not help the way his gaze fell to a couple of his co-workers, a few feet from his desk and engaged in hushed whispers. Dressed in the same uniform of drab, faded gray slacks and black button-downs as he, the panic that had gripped Nasir early this morning returned as the two discussed this morning’s attack. “I heard there was a message amongst the rubble,” one whispered. “A message to the Governor Supreme.”
“What did it say?”
“I heard it bore his name. That Spartacus himself carved it into the wall of the Ludus Building-“
“It’s probably in your best interest not to say the name,” Nasir found himself piping in, glaring at the two men who now turned to look at him. “It might be taken in a manner you don’t mean.”
A notion rooted in truth, and dutifully noted as the two men fell silent, eyes wide with both realization and dread. Luckily for them, no one turned to look at them, not even the security guards that stood in various corners of the floor. They nodded in Nasir’s direction before wandering away, a silent declaration of gratitude for pulling them back from thoughts that would see them disappear late in the night, just as the man who had once sat across from Nasir. The name of Spartacus may have been on everyone’s mind, but Capua would strike down any that let it linger on their lips. The word may not have been on Title X-12 yet, but it would soon enough.
Pressing his thumb against his computer monitor to begin his work, he checked the morning’s emails, reminding him of which depositions still needed to be composed, which needed to be delivered today. Ever since the day Governor Supreme Glaber announced the Diligence Mandate six months ago, the number of Occurrence Reports had risen to astronomical levels, although Nasir suspected that the number would continue to rise after this morning. Necessary in trying times, but Nasir longed for the days when his department would be lucky to receive a single report, as opposed to the dozens that were filed daily. Most weren’t anything of note, but just the task of combing through hours worth of digital video and audio recordings for one single report was taxing. Lately it took days to properly file a report, and with co-workers turning up missing by the day, the turn time was steadily climbing.
Yet it would be useless to dwell, and Nasir still had work left over from yesterday to finish. Yesterday’s case was a curious one, not because of the details within the report, but because of the target. Rarely were members of the Sex Class the subject of Occurrence Reports, although he did recall an incident here and there. The subject of today’s investigation was a member of Sex Class Beta, but her crime had not been driven by carnal desire. No, the more Nasir investigated, the more he convinced he was that her crime had been motivated by a thing not afforded to anyone in this world; freedom of choice.
It was not Nasir’s responsibility to question the motivations of those accused; it was merely his responsibility to uncover said motivation. But he couldn’t help but wonder just why this woman had committed such an atrocity in the name of something long since dead. He, of course, knew the definition of freedom from his studies, but it had been freedom of choice that had set the world spiraling into madness, disease, and ultimately destruction. The planet itself had barely avoided annihilation during the Third War, and it had only been saved from such a fate by the men that had created their society two hundred years ago, the Fathers of Capua who had wisely seen that left to their own devices, man would feast upon their own flesh only to starve in the aftermath. Like most abstract concepts, freedom and choice were ideal on paper, but could not be trusted to be placed into action. The Fathers of Capua had seen this, and created a world where no man had to live in fear of such a thing.
Members of the Sex Class, whether a member of the Alpha or Beta tiers, had no knowledge of ancient traditions and ideals. But even more perplexing than how a Sex Class member had learned of these things was the aftermath of the crime. An aftermath they could not prosecute, for the perpetuator was gone. Somehow, in the time between the crime itself and the filing of the report, she disappeared into thin air, and there was not a video or audio recording that could provide a clue as to her whereabouts, not a single one.
The last video Nasir had viewed was the video of the crime itself, the contents of which had haunted him in his sleep for the past two days. Normally he had a strong constitution for these things, it was why he was so good at his position, but there was something about the blank, hollow look on the woman’s face as she had lain with her last patron that unsettled him. There was something about the sick, perverse pleasure the patron had taken with the woman’s body, bending it to his will as she stared up at the ceiling. But it was the look in her eyes, staring into the camera as she pulled the knife from beneath her pillow and jammed it straight into the base of the man’s skull, and it was the way she casually pushed the man’s body off of her and sauntered up to the camera, tilting it towards the bloodied bed that followed Nasir even into his dreams.
After that, he could find nothing. He scoured video from the camera posted on the street below the brothel, he replayed audio recordings from within the brothel over and over again, he memorized reports from the Immigration Stations located at the city’s borders of the car searches, and yet he couldn’t find anything. Discipline was surely on the horizon if he couldn’t find a break, but a part of him was…fascinated. How had a woman with no education and no skills managed to disappear without a trace? How had one woman managed to elude not only the strongest government in the world, but the cutting edge technology said government wielded as its ultimate weapon? It was a question that begged to be asked, but with an answer that he couldn’t begin to uncover.
“Tiberius!” At that Nasir cringed, albeit inwardly. He always cringed whenever he was addressed by the surname given to him by his sponsor, but the reaction was particularly violent whenever he was addressed by his supervisor. There was something about the Head Chief’s voice that grated on his nerves and set every hair on his arm to stand up. “My office! Now! And bring Case #M4622 with you!”
With gritted teeth, Nasir stood, grabbing his laptop and trying not to look like the proverbial whipped dog as he approached the Head Chief’s office. Head Chief Batiatus, while slight in build, liked to throw his weight around and did not tolerate obvious signs of weakness. He was especially critical of Nasir, ever since Nasir had replaced his previous Investigator, a Barca something or other that had been promoted within the organization. As far as Batiatus was concerned, the sun rose and set around Barca, and he had not been pleased when Nasir had been moved into his place. Nasir knew that Batiatus was simply salivating for the moment when he would fail, but Nasir wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of such a day, not if he could help it.
“Head Chief,” he greeted with a nod, stepping through the doorway into the chief’s office. He somehow managed not to jump when Batiatus slammed the door shut. Every move he made, even something as simple as shutting a door, was a loud, giant production, a trait that Nasir abhorred. Batiatus was not the first man whose arrogance he was forced to swallow, nor would he be the last, but fuck the Gods if Batiatus wasn’t the most obnoxious of them all.
“I trust that you’re not about to tell me that we remain in the dark regarding #M4622 like a Sex Class whore during her first fuck.” A charmer, that Batiatus. It would forever remain a mystery why someone like Batiatus had been granted permission for a wife, but then again, money and station allowed many things, and Nasir had heard rumors that the wife of Batiatus was just as much of a charmer in the same vein as Batiatus.
“The files starting at hour 2300 are still under review,” he replied. Setting up his laptop on Batiatus’ desk, he continued his recap, trying to ignore the way Batiatus was staring down at him. “All of the interviews have been collected, and the general consensus remains that no one had any prior knowledge of the attack, nor the perpetuator’s intent.”
“Of course they didn’t have prior knowledge,” Batiatus snorted, finally plopping into his chair and staring at Nasir with barely contained contempt. “If they had prior knowledge, then we wouldn’t be sitting here with our fingers up our asses, would we?” At that, he paused, chewing on his lower lip before he continued. “And we’ve pulled the records from the reports from all Immigration Stations?”
Nasir was almost insulted at the question, but he hid his indignation, settling for a simple nod of the head. “All reports and video recordings,” he confirmed, pulling the files up on his laptop and turning it so Batiatus could see. “No suspicious activity or cargo was found. She didn’t escape via car. I suspect she walked out.”
“Walked out. That is the biggest pile of bullshit I’ve ever heard.” Averting his eyes, Nasir would have been normally inclined to agree, but what other explanation was there? The woman hadn’t stowed away in the trunk of a car, nor had she been granted passage by any vehicle that had left the city in the past three days. Sometimes the simplest explanation was the correct one, no matter how ridiculous it may have sounded. “I want your prelim on the 2300 hour tapes on my desk by five,” Batiatus ordered, pointing a finger at him. “And I want you to begin proceedings in regards to interviews with other brothels in the area. Maybe she spoke to someone in the area before running off.”
Doubtful, as Sex Class members were not allowed to leave their stations under any circumstances, but desperate times called for desperate measures. Nasir supposed it wouldn’t hurt; it wasn’t as if he had any better leads at this point. Of course, this meant he could forget about both lunch and dinner, but it wasn’t the first time he had pulled an all-nighter, and it wouldn’t be the last. Shutting his laptop down, he gave Batiatus a brief nod before making his way out of the office. Hopefully Batiatus would leave him be for the rest of the day and not hover around him, requesting an update every time Nasir so much as took another breath. But that was the price of achieving your position through nepotism, he thought to himself. If you don’t produce results, you are in danger of being removed at the drop of a hat.
“The Governor Supreme Glaber will address Capua at hour 1200.”
The overheard speakers droned above him, reminding him that #M4622 wasn’t the department’s only concern. He could only sigh as he slumped into his chair, setting his laptop down and rubbing his face. A long day indeed.
By mid-day Nasir had lost count of the hour, and by the time he finally had the preliminary report for the hour 2300 tapes on Batiatus’ desk and had initiated interviews for the three neighboring brothels, the sun had long since set. When he had finally lifted his head, the entire office was empty save for him and the janitor, and the clock read 0100. Unfortunately he had gotten a late start on #M4622, with Batiatus’ insistence that Nasir not only finished his preliminary reports, but also obtain coffee for Batiatus at the snap of his fingers. And of course with the operators calling him at least every twenty minutes with false sightings of the Brotherhood, it had been a miracle that he had even managed to accomplish as much as he had. He should have stayed longer, but his eyes were staring to close without him commanding them to, and his limbs felt so unbearably heavy. There was no way that he was going to get anything accomplished at this rate; it was time to head home.
Unsurprisingly, the streets were abandoned. Curfew was at precisely 2200, and Nasir could only pray that Batiatus had remembered to grant clearance before leaving for the day. If it did not involve money, prestige, or women, Batiatus had no thoughts towards it. Nasir wouldn’t have been surprised if the man had forgotten, a fact that forced him to move quickly despite how tired he was.
The wind, which had begun to increase with the passing days, was a motivation as well. He had forgotten his jacket this morning in haste to arrive at work on time, and he was paying for it, the breeze beating against his face as if to punish him. The seasons had become more severe in the past few years, the summers excruciating, the winters brutal, even though the radiation had supposedly been contained since the passing of the Clear Air Mandate. But like many things in the Republic, it was a question that would not be uttered. It was not that Nasir feared there would be no explanation…it was an explanation that he feared most of all.
Rounding the corner, he wrapped his arms around himself in a futile attempt to protect himself from the chill, the few details he uncovered today regarding #M4622 rattling around in his head. He was not much better off than he had been yesterday, which would surely serve to piss Batiatus off even more. Batiatus wasn’t the only one whose frustration was mounting. It had never taken Nasir this long to investigate an Occurrence, not once since he had been granted the position.
He treated his work like the puzzles his mother used to place on the floor when he was a child, everything had a slot, a specific place that it would fit. It was not only his job, but his passion to find all the pieces and slide them into the correct slot so that the picture was accurate. The fact that he had not been able to do so with this case, that were still vital pieces missing that caused the picture to remain lopsided, was bordering on maddening. If he didn’t solve this soon, Batiatus would be the least of his worries. He would end up driving himself crazy over it.
He continued to walk, lost in his thoughts of #M4622, bemoaning the lack of sleep he would find tonight. Yet he was not the only one with purpose on the streets of Capua tonight. As he crossed the alleyway behind the Arena, the casino where the rich dined on pleasures both monetary and of the flesh, his attention was captured by a group of men, hovering near the back entrance. More than likely members of the High Class, having spent the night drunk on alcohol and trying to figure out how to return home without being caught after curfew. Nasir did not envy them, but before he could pass, he saw two of the men grab hold of the trash dumpster to allow another man to climb on top of it, much to Nasir’s confusion.
He watched, silently with dread, as the man standing on top of the dumpster reached towards the camera mounted on the brick wall. His mind was racing, and the sound of his heart against his ribcage was loud enough to be recorded on audio. They had yet to notice him standing there, and all were positioned in just the right angle so that shadows fell over them, obscuring their faces. The man standing on the dumpster was extraordinarily tall, however, large hands dismantling the camera with ease. Words did not pass between the men, and once the man jumped from the dumpster, Nasir watched with horror as the other men pulled the dumpster out from the wall, just enough for one to place a package wrapped in brown paper behind it.
A part of Nasir knew exactly what he had stumbled upon, but he stood motionless, rooted to the spot as the men began to hurry in the opposite direction. But before Nasir could call out, one of the men, the tall one that had taken apart the camera, suddenly turned his head, and Nasir knew he had been caught.
For a moment, Nasir couldn’t breathe, as if he had been struck down like a deer by a larger, more ruthless predator. If he had any doubts before, they were erased as he realized that he hadn’t stumbled upon men trying to avoid violation of curfew.
He had stumbled upon the Brotherhood.
He could feel the fear deep within his stomach, crawling his way up into his throat, as the man stared down at him. That fear transformed into full blown panic as the man took a few steps forward, whether to address Nasir or silence him was anyone’s guess. Suddenly, the man stopped beneath the street lights, his face no longer obscured by shadow. It was a face that Nasir did not recognize, but a face that he would never forget. A face, along with the strong jaw, the gaze intent on setting Nasir’s skin ablaze, the lips set in a wicked grin that inspired emotions in him that he had tried his damndest to bury. Emotions that he was not allowed to feel.
He knew he needed to run; he needed to get as far away as possible. His feet would not carry him, though. He was frozen in place, and before he could utter a sound, the man laughed, pressing a finger to his own lips. He then spoke, his voice low and throaty, causing Nasir’s eyes to flutter closed.
And by the time Nasir opened his eyes, the man and his comrades were gone, running in the opposite direction and climbing the chain link fence to disappear into the night.
# fic # spartacus # agron # nasir # nagron # fanfiction # the most perfect ship in the otp sea # spartacus: vengeance # war all the time # my fic
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