Justin Teng - All Points Bulletin

Justin Teng


It was after the Silver Street Massacre that Justin Teng went to his fellow CEOs of the Havalynd corporations with his proposal. He had always known something like that was going to happen sooner or later. He was just waiting for the sight of bodybags being carried away from a cavalcade of burning limos to shock those that mattered into giving him what he was looking for.

Teng had a reputation as a blue sky thinker, a visionary who can see what's coming round the corner long before most others can even know there's a corner ahead. Teng made his fortune in stock market investments, leading the way for the Smart Money to follow on afterwards. Now he keeps the offshore accounts topped up with consultancy work for various global corporations, giving them the insider information - the stock markets, social trends, political developments - on what the future holds. His predictions aren't 100%, but they're close enough to justify the multi million dollar fees his services command.

Teng thinks outside the envelope; is prepared to think the unthinkable, unhampered - his critics say - by conventional concerns such as morality and social responsibility. Now Teng's seen the future of San Paro, and has told the rest of the corporate brotherhood what lies in store.

San Paro, as it stands at the moment, is fucked. The SPPD - under-manned, under-funded, under pressure - struggles to cope with the rising tide of crime and lawlessness. In a few short years, it won't be able to cope at all, and San Paro will descend into anarchy.

Anarchy isn't good. Anarchy is bad for business. Clearly, something has to be done about this.

The Havalynd corporations, from their point of view, already prop up the inefficient and malfunctioning SPPD with the corporate taxes they pay to the city government, and - frankly - aren't about to bail out that same malfunctioning and inefficient organisation with additional charity hand-outs any time soon. Teng's blue-sky thinking has come up with another answer, though, one provided by Mayor Derren's City Security Act. The city's police force can't deal with the problem, then perhaps a privately-funded alternative police force can. After all, San Paro's founding fathers were humble river traders following the principles of private enterprise, so why not allow private enterprise to succeed where public service is so clearly failing?

(Teng's critics are quick to point out that Teng volunteered his services to the mayoral think-tank committee that came up with the City Security Act solution to the city's crime problem. So is he merely taking advantage of events, or was this so-called 'visionary' manipulating them in his own favour all along, in order to achieve the circumstances he needed?)

And that's how the Praetorians were born, a corporate-funded private police force based in Havalynd, but already spreading out into the rest of the city. Critics say the corporations should stay out of law enforcement. Teng says that the corporations are just doing what any other civic-minded citizen is now empowered to do; actively contributing to the public good in San Paro.

Critics say it's big business fascism by stealth; the SPPD, for all its faults, is accountable to the people. Who are the Praetorians accountable to, and why is it only the wealthiest areas of the city the ones so far accorded the most Praetorian protection? Teng says the Praetorians are there to support the SPPD, not supplant it. By taking up the law enforcement burden in certain areas, it's allowing the brave men and women of the SPPD, with their limited resources but dedicated commitment to protect and serve, to concentrate where they're needed most, in some of the city's most troubled districts. In time, though, once the Praetorians have gained the necessary experience, he hopes they'll be able to work hand-in-hand with the SPPD in bringing order back to those same districts. Once that's done, the Praetorians will be disbanded, their purpose over.

Critics say that's it's all just one big vanity project for Teng; the skinny high school maths dweeb, commanding his own private army and posing for publicity shots with his own specially-chosen cadre of suspiciously photogenic Praetorian bodyguards. Teng just smiles, and tells his PA to confirm that latest interview request with Effigy magazine.

Teng is the public face of the Praetorians, descending from his ivory tower to sell himself as a man of the people. The kid from one of the rougher neighbourhoods of Midtown, whose parents owned a grocery store and who could only afford to send him to City College. The guy who fought his way up to the top using the kind of smarts and initiative that made San Paro what it is, and now the guy who just wants to give something back to his city in its hour of need.

That's what he says in public. And in private? Who knows what Justin Teng really thinks, or really wants?

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