They say policing is a vocation, a lifetime commitment. For this tired old man, it feels like two lifetimes.
It was my eighteenth year in the force when the sky fell in on Candor. The year started with the arrival of three white ships, three Lazloi merchant cruisers with stupid names that brought every witch doctor, acolyte and hippie from miles around into an already crowded city. I was glad when those white haired freaks left so we could get on with proper policing. Up till then, we'd been babysitting a bunch of stoned freeloaders trying to feel the Lazloi karma.
They left all right, but only after some lunatic group attacked them. We got the guys involved, but the Lazloi have their own kind of justice. Still gives me the creeps thinkin' about that day.
Thought the whole thing was over when they left, 'cept the matriarchs did a demolition job on the trade route to the Echolian stars, and the whole frakking edifice of trade and commerce came crashing down.
I was about ready to take things slower, may be spend more time behind a desk, but everything went mad. People talked about the end of the world, and every crackpot and religious nut rolled out of the woodwork once more to peddle their nonsense. If that wasn't enough, a new disease broke out and people got scared. People would turn into the living dead and things would come out of nowhere and kill everything they could find. Folks said the Lazloi were invading this part of space, that the disease was of their making, and it was only a matter of time before we were all dead.
The police changed too. They became nothing more than a containment force to keep the lid on the pressure cooker. Their role was to protect the nice neighbourhoods from everywhere else. For a while, I was out of a job. They said people like me were unsuitable for the new kind of policing. I called in a few favours but it looked it was all over for Detective Elliot Shannon. Luckily for me, the police got scared too. When the people realised they couldn't get recourse from the law, they took the law into their own hands, and then the gangsters took the law for themselves. The new police knew that to keep things going, they would need officers who could pound the street.
They let us old timers do what we do best; mixing with the people, and doing what we can. Although we're on the payroll, the old timers are not really the police; more like private detectives on a long-term retainer. That suits me fine; it's a regular pay cheque and the hours are flexible. I get to pick my cases and follow up the ones the police aren't interested in.
I see a lot of things that the police miss. Most of it is human nature, and the usual criminal urges, but something else has taken root here, and it's starting to scare this old timer plenty.
-- Elliot Shannon, Private Investigator, formerly of the Candor City Police.
Original images rendered in Poser 6 using custom shaders. Final image created using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop CS2.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 6 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2