Chapter 6 All Harm, All Foul

Marquez “Meech” Flex POV

(Sexual situations, language, no nudity)

“Where you been? You think I got all day to sit around waiting on your ass?” I had just walked into Lamar McQueen’s office in the Spice District. These days, he kept his headquarters at a number of locations to either ward off the police or the other cartels he’s been fighting over territory with for months. Currently, Lamar chose to meet with his crew in an old textile factory near the docks downtown. The area didn’t get a lot of traffic. Forty years ago, there were all sorts of manufacturing jobs in this area, now it was desolate.

I didn’t need to check my cell for the time, nor was I surprised by Lamar accusing me of being “late.” He wanted to show his lapdogs who was boss around here; trying to act like I’d wasted his time and him reprimanding me for it was his way of doing that. “Yesterday, you said to meet you at four; it’s four.” I sat down in a chair across from Lamar’s desk. I kept my eyes locked on his. I had no shame nor reason to be sorry. The man who is guilty or afraid will never look at you in the eye. Lamar stretched his torso upright so he could appear taller than me even when sitting down. His insecurity was open for all to see, but if he were smart, he would dead that shit. Lamar waited for an apology from me, but once he could see he wasn’t about to get one, he moved onto the reason I was called in for this meeting, although I could guess.

“It was three. Next time, don’t make me wait on you, nigga. I got more important things to do with my time,” replied Lama. His two lapdog bitches, CJ and Step or as I refer to them: Stepin Fetchit clapped their hands; doling out fake laughs. I guess you could call them his bodyguards or errand boys; either way, I didn’t give two shits about how they front.  If they didn’t keep they mouth shut, I would muzzle it.

“Our product ain’t movin’. Ever since the Latin gangs started to post up in Spice Lane, deals ain’t working out; muthafuckas is going elsewhere.  We can’t have that. It’s that Noriega bitch not watching her step and coming into areas that ain’t hers.” It took a while, but Lamar finally got around to telling me the reason he called me down here, but I knew this is what he would say. The Noriegas aren’t the reason our numbers are low.  While it was true, a number of smaller gang factions have been rising ever since our old boss, DM Sanders was executed less than two years ago, but Spice Lane has been under the control of Noriega’s street affiliates for years now. Lamar knew all of this in reality, but if he were to own that his bad decisions in the last eighteen months are the real reason our money flow has declined, he would have to admit that his rule was weak and ineffectual. I wasn’t worth it to me to point all of this out right now.

“So what are your plans?” I asked as if I didn’t know what Lamar’s move was going to be; he’s predictable. The expression on his face grew very dark; he knew that I would not agree with whatever plan he was about to present. Every day, I was starting to care less and less about giving a damn whether or not Lamar believed I was here to prop up his rule with my loyalty. He knew I wasn’t. All the same, Lamar expected loyalty from me because he “brought” me into the business and showed me the ropes. That would only get one so far with me, but I refuse to pledge complete allegiance to anyone I didn’t view as a strong leader, I didn’t care who the nigga was.

“The bitch has a shipment coming in soon. I got the goods on when and where. We’re gonna take it from her.” Lupita Noriega or “the bitch” as Lamar calls her was just as ruthless her father, Carmine Noriega. Their cartel controlled New Crest, one of the largest cities in the region. Ever since Carmine has been locked up awaiting trial, Lupita has been running his operations.

I contemplated what I would say to convey to Lamar that jacking anything of Noriega’s wasn’t the best idea right now. “Why would we need to make a move on the Noriegas? If Carmine gets out on bail, you can count on retaliation, even if he isn’t released out on bail you can count on Lupita’s revenge.”

Lamar ’s brow furrowed and lip curled up in agitation. He tried to give an air of confidence, but I knew him too well. His bad nerves made him sweat; it was taking a concerted effort on his part to keep control. Lamar rhythmically knocked his ring against the desk as his beady eyes seared into me. His countenance told me everything I already knew.

“They ain’t gonna let Carmine out, ever. He’s a flight risk; got too many connects that can get him out the country,” argued Lamar. “You can’t be sure. I heard they tryin’ to get him house arrest until trial. It’s a good possibility he will get it,” I replied.


“Well ain’t you the nigga with all the answers, huh? You got connects in the D.A. office. You need to make sure that fucker stays in jail!”

“Lamar, you’re asking me to call in a pretty big favor when my connection could be much more useful on something more significant than trying to keep Carmine Noriega in jail. Like I said, whether he’s in or out; you move on them, you can expect major heat from Lupita if you try them.  The product you talking about it ain’t even worth all that.” I reasoned.

“And how would you know exactly? It ain’t like I gave you any details. Unless you know something you ain’t telling me,” said Lamar. He was trying to insinuate that I was playing both sides. “I know nothing more than you. I just know if there is product that Lupita is allowing the little weak ass Spice Lane homies to handle, it ain’t worth that much. She would never allow some little ain’t shit bangers to be responsible for product that’s worth enough to go to war over.”

Whether or not I made sense to Lamar, he would not admit it. He wanted to show his weight to the bosses in the surrounding cities and the smaller factions in the four boroughs that have begun to rise against him. McQueen’s reign wasn’t secure, and when DM Sanders was killed, a lot of his loyal men left to start their own operations. Even if he got away with stealing one little insignificant shipment and was somehow able to get away with it, no one would give him respect because anyone in their right mind knows it’s a dumb ass move.

Lamar was determined to make a move against Lupita anyway; there wasn’t anything I could say that would change his mind. He laid down the specifics of the shipment to a warehouse not far from here and how he wanted me to go about stealing it and “cleaning up the mess” afterward. I’m not afraid of bloodshed, but it wasn’t necessary for this instance. If your way was to always move in violence, you get what you give in return, and sometimes the means didn’t justify the ends.

“Fine. We can have it your way, but expect a war,” I said after Lamar finished giving me the details. He had ordered my crew, The Thetas and me to put his plan into action. He couldn’t be bothered with getting his hands dirty even though this was his stupid scheme.


“You act like you so scared of those bastards, Meech. Fuck that hoe and her daddy! Just get it done!” Lamar raised himself up on the desk, simultaneously slamming his hands down. It took a lot for me to hold my breath and not sock him straight dead in his mouth. But I maintained my chill; my poker face and agreed to steal the shipment.

“Maybe you ain’t good for the job though. Ever since 5-0 ran up in your spot, nigga they watching you.” Lamar knew good and well the search conducted in my apartment a while ago wasn’t significant. The police wanted information on him, but more than that I knew agents on the task force were looking for more significant people than Lamar. “Nothing came out of that, which I told you it wouldn’t. I’m not dumb enough to get caught up by 5-0,” I replied. Lamar gave me a skeptical look. I’d given him the details after the popos left my house, but I don’t think he trusted I told him everything, and he was right because I didn’t.

There were all kinds of ways this operation could turn out bad, and I had to think about plan b, so neither I or any of my boys ended up dead over some shit that wasn’t even worth it. There’s a balance I had to maintain. No, Lamar isn’t a good leader, and my respect for him is all but gone. But I couldn’t openly defy him on orders he’s directed. He wasn’t entirely without power; not yet. Lamar, whether I liked it or not, was still the boss; a boss I faked allegiance to.  For now, that was my position, until I could make better moves, I would play by the rules.

*****************

I lit my blunt, the lighter briefly illuminated my otherwise darkened living room. My conversation earlier with Lamar had been on my mind ever since I left his office. Everything in me said going after a Noriega shipment wasn’t a smart move. What you have to understand about me is, I’m not the type of nigga that makes a play based on some stupid shit. Lamar wanted to flex so to speak and let the Ivanovs who ran Windenburg, The Noriegas, The Costas of Willow Creek, and Bobby Wilds who ran Oasis Springs that he had balls and was willing to challenge them if they made any attempts to take over the four boroughs which consisted of Uptown, Fashion Row, The Spice District, and Art of the City.

Lamar hadn’t cemented his reign as genuinely legitimate yet, and the other outfits were going to try him. But what he didn’t need to do was make any first moves; it wasn’t the time. I can count the number of occasions Lamar has taken me aside with some half-ass plan to either push our product or retain the territories left by DM. He had a lot of bold ideas; unfortunately, most of them were dumb as fuck. He’s gonna play around and get people killed unnecessarily.

I took a long hit of my blunt and walked over to the window. I had some of the best views of the city from my apartment. San Myshuno is expansive. Millions of people lived here. I thought about all the neighborhoods I used to slang in when DM was still the boss. I was pretty much solo at the time as far as pushing weight. I’d known Lamar from the block for years, and he brought me into the Sanders outfit. I quickly rose through the ranks because I was no dummy. I negotiated the best deals for the product and made our organization a lot of money in the process. DM could see that, and soon enough I was nearly at Lamar’s level, which I felt he resented. If DM hadn’t been shot before he could name a successor, I believe he would have chosen me over Lamar.

One of DM’s sons, Kao could’ve been a consideration too, but he fell out with his dad years ago and rarely came around. I didn’t know Kao’s whereabouts. The last time I saw him was at his dad’s funeral. He seemed to have disappeared after that. If Kao came back right now, I think he could quickly get support from Sanders loyalists and get the business back from Lamar, but who’s to say he was about this life anymore.

My doorbell rang, snapping me back to the present. It was after midnight. Vistors coming and going at all hours of the night wasn’t unusual for me.  I clicked a remote; turning on the lights. “Who is it?” I asked. “It’s me. Open up,” said Ekko, from the hallway. I unlocked the door; letting her inside. I  held onto the doorknob; taking a breath. I’d forgotten she told me she was coming back in town tonight from New York. Ekko was always doing the most, and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with her.

Ekko is my “girlfriend.” Actually, what she had was the privilege of being my main chick. She knew what was up and that I saw other women. Ekko is a bad as fuck Blasian model, so I claim her and the other girls I deal with know they place.

Ekko was wearing no less than four-inch heels, stepped up, reaching her lips to mine. Her kiss was warm and her lips soft, but I didn’t return the favor.  “I missed you,” she said. I feigned like I had missed her too when in reality I’ve been too busy to notice she hasn’t been in town for the last week.

“How was New York?” I asked. Ekko was originally born and raised in Manhattan, and that’s where her parents currently live. “Good. I saw my parents, and just about everyone else. I met up with Marseille at Tomo. Her uncle is actually bringing her out here with him and my dad to review the new club building inspections. I still can’t believe Amarre Powers is entrusting his niece with running the most anticipated new club in San Myshuno. Not to mention Marsy’s dad is on board as well. She’s so fucking spoiled.” Ekko accusing someone else of being spoiled was the pot calling the kettle black.

Ekko had followed me over to the couch and went on about her trip and bored me with the details of her escapades with the rest of the bougie ass socialites and models she grew up with. I hadn’t met most of her friends. She preferred to not take me around them or her parents if they were in town from New York because of my lifestyle. That was fine with me because the last thing I felt like doing was sitting up with a bunch of silver spoon bitches that spent their summer weekends in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard.

As beautiful as she is, Ekko can be extremely jealous of other females. The more she talked about her so-called “oldest friend” Marseille moving to San Myshuno, the more I could see the jealousy stirring inside her. She had managed to briefly distract me from work and what Lamar wanted me to do in a few days. But what I needed was to stay focused so I could get the job done without getting a bullet in the heads of my crew and me.

I had to distract Ekko for the rest of the night. What she needed was a good dickin’ down so she could shut the fuck up about shit I couldn’t care less about. After smoking this blunt, the last thing I wanted to hear was her yapping in my ear. I wasn’t with the shit, not tonight.

 

****Author’s Note: The title of this chapter “All Harm, All Foul” is supposed to convey the opposite of the common phrase “No Harm, No Foul”. Basically, the meaning is that when one commits a mistake, transgression or engaged in misconduct, they would be forgiven/excused because it didn’t harm anyone. The opposite is true of the McQueen situation. His plans for action against the Noriegas will cause harm to people, especially because it’s unnecessary. This isn’t the first time McQueen has stepped out of bounds since forming his cartel and it won’t be the last.

****If you want to read about Marquez’s background, check out his bio here. I edited some information out of his original bio because I felt like it gave maybe too much of his future storyline away.  You can also read about Lupita Noriega, another main character coming into the story in the near future here.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Simming, Camille. 

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Chapter 5 Death to The Instagram “Model”

Ayana Dinha’s POV

 

I peered through the lens of my camera at the two models engaged in multiple poses; working every angle of their faces and bodies. I quickly glanced out the window, hoping I would finish before losing natural light. Miko and Klaudia were here in my home studio participating in a shoot for a new feature in S.H.E, my online magazine. Ekko and Sade, the other models, were sitting along the wall whispering in a hushed tone among each other. Occasionally, I heard a small snicker escape from Ekko’s mouth. Whatever little negative jabs they were shared between the both of them, seemed to bolster Sade’s amusement.

I’d worked with them before during my own days in front of the camera. Each girl had a different skin tone, so I had to be careful about the light and colors that bounced off their skin from my blue background. Ekko had a light caramel skin with warm undertones. Sade’s skin was a creamy dark coffee complexion. Miko whose Korean skin was more yellowish, but she was slightly lighter than Klaudia with her inherited dark Eastern European features. The ladies each had a unique look about them that stood out; they were perfect for the vision I had.

I’m a perfectionist by nature, and I worried that if I didn’t have every single detail perfect, not only would this project fail, but my entire magazine would cease to exist. “How did the fabric feel?” I called over to Miko. “Good. It’s wearable; nice structure,” she replied. “Some of these designers have come a long way since their early collections. Charo and Parazzo are finally spending the money on better quality fabrics,” snarked Klaudia.

Today we were shooting a nude clothing look with an array of pieces from multiple designers. I had to struggle for months to set up this feature with Taylor Wheland, the executive director of the San Myshuno Nu Model Management branch. She didn’t take my calls for over a month until Ekko asked her mother, former supermodel Aoki Takashi for a personal favor. Taylor worked with Aoki over two decades ago and was mostly responsible for catapulting her career and cementing her as the most successful Asian American supermodel. She considered my magazine small-time compared to the major players she dealt with on a regular basis. Taylor worked with the best, not to mention supermodel legend, Reagan Leeds-Powers.

The nude feature probably wouldn’t have taken so long to organize if I’d gone with Parminder’s suggestion of hiring popular Instagram models. I didn’t want to go in that direction because my brand is traditional classic modeling. So many formerly respectable publications have been bowing to these fake social media models instead of keeping fashion modeling what it should be: authentic real supermodels that are household names. Not your everyday round-the-way girl with ass shots, lip fillers, and fifty pounds of weave. That’s just on the more urban side of IG fashion girls; I can’t say most high-end magazines are turning to, but reality stars who are only famous for being famous are front and center in Vogue, Elle and walking for some of the most prominent fashion houses during fashion week.

Sade and Miko were industry friends of mine. I’ve known them for years. We walked some of the same runways at fashion week all over the world. Ekko is my friend outside of the industry, and we see each other with some frequency outside of work. After a break in shooting, I was busy trying to change the lighting for Ekko and Sade when Sade stormed over to Parminder Patel and complained that the pieces she chose weren’t flattering on her skin tone.

“Why would give me something this fucking drab?” snapped Sade. I looked at Parminder, who looked like she wanted to slap Sade across her face. Sade’s diva-like attitude was nothing new.

“We’re doing a nude colors shoot. The tone varies from shade to shade. I wanted to try out different swatches on you. I believe the pieces I gave you, work well,” answered Parminder through gritted teeth. Sade scoffed. “You’re obviously wrong, sweetie. When it comes to knowing your job, you are a novice. Ayana, what the hell am I supposed to do with this shit?”

Parminder’s face grew more distorted as Sade continued to berate her. I signaled with my head for Parminder to take a breather. While I considered Sade to be a friend, she was also an unbelievably demanding and domineering diva. “What is the problem, Sade?” I asked, trying to hide the exasperation in my voice.

“Your assistant is the problem! Why is she styling your shoot if she’s just an assistant? Can I get my fucking Starbucks I asked for over an hour ago?” demanded Sade. Ekko and Klaudia snickered. I rolled my eyes. “For one, we all wear many hats around here. Parminder is another editor and helps with most of the functions for my magazine. Fetching coffee isn’t her job, Sade, but a courtesy. Can we just get back to this? I think we can do away with the lighter nude shades and choose one that with more browns in it. The truth is, all the shades go nicely with your skin tone, Sade because it contrasts so well.”

Sade knew Parminder was no “assistant”  in the traditional sense. Not only was she my best friend and roommate, but Parminder was the Editor-at-Large of S.H.E magazine.

“Fine,” said Sade; angrily grabbing the garments from me to try on. Ekko, Miko, and Klaudia remained mostly quiet throughout Sade’s latest outburst, except for a few shady giggles directed at Parminder. I breathed a sigh of relief when Sade went to go and change into her jumpsuit. All I wanted to do was finish the shoot.

One thing I have noticed since conducting my shoots is that it’s much different when you are behind the camera as opposed to in front of it. I photographed most of my shoots for S.H.E myself, which saved me money when I could. That meant no camera assistant and many times it was just me styling the models. Parminder helped out when she could, but she had several other magazine responsibilities. I worked with other photographers and used stock images, but for specific features, I preferred to use my personal shots.

I needed capital to hire a proper staff and not have to play makeup artist, stylist, photographer, lighting guru, creative director, and photo editor all at the same time. Until then, it is something with which I must contend. I virtually had no money from the extras and tools I needed to grow S.H.E, so I was stuck with cutting corners where I could and robbing Peter to pay Paul each month. I did what I had to do to keep S.H.E alive. But I could only live on my savings and the money Parminder generously gave me that she had received from her parents.

I don’t think Mr. and Mrs. Patel would approve if they knew a considerable part of the allowance they sent Parminder each month went to paying S.H.Es bills, but what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them, she claimed. At least Parminder had her parent’s assistance. The last thing I could ever expect from my mother and father was any financial help. They never approved of my career in fashion. Once I decided dropped out of college to pursue modeling, the checks dried up.

For the rest of the afternoon, Sade continued to complain about one thing or another. Either the clothes weren’t fitting right, she wanted a different outfit either one of the other models was wearing, or the shoot was taking too long. Sade was an up-and-coming Naomi with an attitude to match.

I turned on the stereo and raised the volume as high as I could stand; to drown out her whining.

Oooh, baby, baby
Baby, baby
Get up on this!

Salt and Pepa’s here, and we’re in effect
Want you to push it, babe
Coolin’ by day then at night working up a sweat
C’mon girls, let’s go show the guys that we know
How to become number one in a hot party show
Now push it
Ah, push it, push it good
Ah, push it, push it real good…

Yo, yo, yo, yo, baby-pop
Yeah, you come here, gimme a kiss
Better make it fast or else I’m gonna get pissed
Can’t you hear the music’s pumpin’ hard like I wish you would?
Now push it

************************

Once we wrapped, I couldn’t get the models out of my studio fast enough. Now I could look forward to having a bit of quiet while I went over the film. I spoke too soon. “Sade is freaking rude. I don’t see how you can be her friend,” said Parminder, walking into my office. She stubbornly folded her arms across her chest, ready to put up a fight if I were to respond in protest.

I didn’t have the energy to get into an argument with Parminder after what had been a draining day. I had tension in my neck and I could feel the pounding of a migraine coming on. I ran my hands over my face and stood silently for a moment as I tried to piece my words carefully together.

“She just likes things a certain way. Ignore her, and she’ll shut up.”

Parminder gave me a doubtful look. “That will never work with someone like Sade. She thrives on drama and acts like she’s the only one who matters in the room. The next time you choose to work with her, I don’t want to be involved. I won’t deal with her ass anymore.”

I didn’t need this from Parminder right now. She knew damn well I didn’t have a lot of funds to hire outside help for most of my projects. She was only thinking of herself. I swear it was like I had to do everything with zero support.

“Ayana, we need to talk about the expenses for the month. Every time I bring it up, you keep putting me off,” said Parminder, her eyebrow raised, as if she were challenging me. I could feel my stomach turning as a sense of dread swept over my body. I anticipated this conversation with Parminder for weeks, but I continually put it in the back of my head.

Every month it was the same thing. Parminder liked to tell me that S.H.E was barely breaking even through the advertising revenue and bills and other expenses.

“Can’t we talk about this tomorrow? I am editing film right now,” I said, attempting to put off discussing money. “No, Ayana we need to talk about our financial health. I know you’ve been dipping into your savings and paying bills on your credit cards. Getting money from my father, usually isn’t a problem, but he’s starting to question where all the money is going since I have to ask him for it a lot more these days,” said Parminder.

“It’s not like I ever asked you to get money from your dad,” I replied, turning away from her.

“Maybe not, but how else would we have been able to pay for the new camera equipment and the millions of other things we’ve needed? You also won’t take my suggestion and start featuring my social media starts and models. I know you want S.H.E to be a classic fashion and lifestyle magazine, but unless you’re Vogue or another major magazine, that mentality doesn’t work these days. We need to expand our presence on social media. We need to broaden our reader base,” said Parminder.

I finally turned around to face Parminder. I took a breath in an attempt to calm my nerves. Every time we talked about social media; things got heated. “Look, I’m not trying to cheapen my brand by inviting the latest skinny tea pusher to be featured in my mag. I was a real authentic high fashion model. I worked with some of the top designers in San Myshuno, New York, Milan, Paris, and London. These fake build-a-body, waist-trainer sales girls don’t do anything but take selfies and that over-inflated bought asses and pose with the latest rapper they’re screwing. S.H.E will never be that.”

Parminder rolled her eyes. “I am not talking about those IG thots, but a lot of them have huge a follower count. Instagram has a lot more models than the ones you just described. There are several of fashion blogs that got their start on Instagram as well. Right now, S.H.E only has two hundred thousand followers; it should be at a million or more by now. We need to reach out and collaborate with other people, the girls with a million plus followers to push the magazine. We can’t do this all alone, Ayana. I know this is not your vision for S.H.E, but the bigger we get, the more we will be able to do. Sometimes you have to sacrifice things to get ahead.”

I shook my head. Not because I disagreed with everything Parminder was saying. Some of what she said had a lot of truth to it. I just didn’t want to be a hypocrite and turn my magazine into something I hated. I’m all about class, style, taste, elegance. If I started inviting social media models and personalities into the S.H.E fold, I would lose a lot of what made me, me and what made S.H.E the magazine it is. This shit industry of social media famous models needed to die and true models needed to take back their reign.

Trying to create a successful magazine was beginning to take a  toll on my psyche. I’m not usually a snappy person. But I’ve experienced a lot of anxiety due to the stress of running S.H.E practically on my own. I was in dire straits. The bleaker our financial future looked, the more I knew something would have to give, and soon. I couldn’t go on like this.

*********************************

****Author’s Note: If you want to read more about Ayana’s background, check out her character biography here.

****You can check out S.H.E magazine online here. I created it in 2016 as part of another story I was going to write for Ayana at the time. 

My further commentary: Ayana feels the same way real life supermodels, and people in the fashion world do about the rise of “social media modeling.” A lot of people believe it cheapens the institution of high fashion altogether. But others have recognized that many popular blogs got their start on social media, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Ayana will have to realize she needs to get with the times if she wants to see S.H.E become a success.  In other words, this is Ayana’s view. 

***and yes, I have IG Sim model characters who will take issue with Ayana and her stance on what “true modeling” is.  

 ****Lyrics credit to Salt n Pepa

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Officer Colton Johnson Is an Unwilling Player in The Game of Power

 

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Officer Colton Johnson

nature

Colton has the Jungle Explorer/Nature Aspiration

Colton’s traits are: Athletic, Dog Lover, and Loves Outdoors

Colton Johnson has been a patrol officer with the San Myshuno Police Department for the last four years. He previously served in the US Army, completed two tours in Afghanistan and was honorably discharged after six years of service.

As an Army veteran and officer of the law, Colton believes in honor and duty to his country and those he was sworn to protect and serve. His family comprises of several military and law enforcement members.

Coming out of the academy, Colton looked forward to serving communities and ridding neighborhoods of crime. As a patrol officer, he interacts with the community he serves every day and believes he can make a positive impact in the lives of the citizens of San Myshuno. His immediate goal is to obtain the rank of sergeant, but from there Colton doesn’t have a clear idea of where he wants his career to go. His father, Carl is a high ranking member in the department with aspirations for his son and plans to direct him into a leadership position one day, but he’s never shared his father’s ambition and thirst for power.

In the blink of an eye, Colton’s life changes forever, and he’s thrown into a game he’s never had any real ambition to play. How can one compete in a game if they no desire to play? Others have thrust their ambitions onto him either for their desires, agendas, or the wills of others.

Now that Colton is in the lion’s den, not of his choosing, he may have to do others bidding when it’s never been something he’s wanted for himself. Will the game ultimately destroy him or will he find a way to play even it means giving up his dreams?

****Author’s Note: As you can probably tell, this character biography has less information and is shorter than some of my others. Although I believe the detailed biographies of Bash, Bella, Rico, and Ayana were fine, I did edit some of the information on Marquez out because I didn’t want to give too much of his storyline away. I am doing the same with Colton. Depending on the characters and what they all contribute to GOP, some of their biographies may be more or less detailed than others. I know for a fact, some will have more background information on them, but others I plan on keeping condensed to general information.****

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Chapter 2 Sex, Guns & Cigarettes

(Sexual situations and nudity) Detective Bella Vega POV: The San Myshuno Drug Enforcement Task Force arrived early morning at the upscale Midtown Pointe Towers. It wasn’t your typical scene for a morning search; ten thousand dollar mortgage, a doorman, complimentary housekeeping, and all the fixings of high society life. The warrant was signed less than […]

Marquez “Big Meech” Flex Makes a Power Play to Win the Cartel Wars

 Marquez “Big Meech” Flex

Marquez had the Deviance Aspiration

Marquez’s traits are: Ambitious, Insider, and Romantic

Marquez “Big Meech” Flex is a mid-level underboss in the newly formed McQueen cartel. Ever since the execution of former boss D.M. Sanders by unknown assailants, there’s been a power grab over territory within the four boroughs in San Myshuno: The Spice District, Uptown, Fashion Row, and Art of the City. Not only are smaller factions on the rise and seeking to take over, but the bosses from the surrounding cities know that San Myshuno is ripe for the pickings.

Outside cartels threaten Lamar McQueen’s reign as the new boss. Meech and his crew; The Thetas report directly to McQueen. Pressure is starting to build within the organization as there are many including the Thetas who feel disenfranchised by McQueen’s erratic actions and increasingly ineffective operations.

Lamar was a mentor to Marquez and showed him the ropes of the business when he was a lowly street hustler. But Lamar has made questionable decisions in the last several months that have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in product across the region, not to mention choices that have cost the lives of loyal members and those Marquez considered family.

 

You have to crawl before you can walk. Marquez is all about his paper and power and will use any and all means to cut down the competition in the cartel wars. They won’t see him coming for Marquez knows all too well how to play the game of power.

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Chapter 1.1 The Games Begin

Sebastian “Bash” Banks POV:
FROM JOHN SCHOENFELD, VICE PRESIDENT
TO: CC DAVID MCKINLEY CEO, ROBERT WAKEFIELD CFO
BCC JUPITER WORKS ASSOCIATES
Good Morning Team,
It is my pleasure to announce that Timothy Reynolds is our new Senior Software Developer. Tim brings a wealth of knowledge in software design and development. As a member of our team for the past two years, we have been more than happy to have his insight and expertise on our internal systems and the new innovative applications we have created here at Jupiter. Let’s all say congratulations to Tim.

I closed the email that sent to us from our company’s vice president announcing that the promotion I had been working my ass off for the past six months had gone to someone else. I opened the email back up and moved it to the trash. It was such bullshit. I don’t know why I’m surprised. I have seen this same thing happen two other times since I have worked here. Somehow guys who haven’t been here longer than me or don’t have as much experience and education as I do, somehow keep getting these promotions. Of course, sometimes it is nepotism, but mostly it’s the fact that they have the complexion for protection and I don’t.

Tim had started at our company, Jupiter Works only two years ago as a junior software developer. He went to fucking Rutgers, which was like number 45 on the top 50 best schools for computer science, undergrad. I went to UPenn, number 15, not to mention I had my masters from MIT, specifically a Master of Science program in Computation for design and optimization. Tim not only just went to Rutgers and didn’t have a post-graduate degree but also waitlisted. Who the hell gets waitlisted for Rutgers? Of course, his daddy who was friends with the dean of admissions made a call, and a small donation and Tim was able to move right in, taking a more deserving person’s spot no doubt. You see, how unfair that is? My black ass got into school on my merits.

I silently sat at my desk for a moment. I could feel my anger rising. I took a deep breath and slowing exhaled through my nose, trying to calm myself. I glanced at the clock; it was barely three, still too far away from five and my escape.
I could hear some of my co-workers laughing and congratulating Tim on his undeserved promotion. Tim and I worked on the same team, and now his ass will have seniority over me.

I was about to get up and head to the bathroom when I sensed Tim making his way over to my desk. It’s not that Tim was a bad guy; he was friendly, not pretentious like some of these other assholes, but he was annoying. He and some of the other guys were always asking me to join them for a beer after work. I accepted their invitations some of the time. Most of the time, however, I declined, making up some excuse for needing to go home and work. Usually, I was lying because it was bad enough working them every day. The last thing I wanted to do was pretend to like their asses outside of work.

“Hey, Bash! How’s it going, Bro?” asked Tim, as he strutted up to my desk with a slight bounce in his step. He grinned from ear to ear. “Eh, man congrats on the new promotion,” I said, trying to keep my voice upbeat and force a smile. “Ah, thanks! I couldn’t have done it without you and some of the other guys. You’ve helped me out so much since I’ve been here.” Yeah, no shit. I practically trained this guy, and hate he gets a sizeable raise and a lead position.

“The guys were going to grab a drink downstairs after work, you should come along,” said Tim. I held in a sigh, the last thing I wanted to do was grab a beer with these frat boys once five o’clock rolled around. I usually work late, sometimes past eight. But it was a Friday; therefore if I tried to get out of it, they would just keep badgering me. “Yeah, sure,” I reluctantly agreed. “Awesome. Try not to work too hard, we only have a couple of hours left!” said Tim and walked off to talk to some of the other ass kissers that were too eager to get in his face and congratulate him.

It’s not that I wanted to stay late on a Friday, but I could think of so many other things I wanted to do once I left this place. I could go to the gym, I could grab something to eat, and there were so many other things way more appealing than heading down to a bar. I would only stay two hours max, and then I was free-free to salvage the rest of my weekend. I had dinner with my family on Sunday, which is something I don’t look forward to doing. My only free day would be Saturday. I needed to make the most of it because Monday would come around again too soon.

**********************************************************

Every Sunday, my parents have dinner at their house in the old neighborhood where I grew up. I hated coming here and did everything I could to avoid it. The old ramblers with spotty yards, patches of dry grass and dirt. The old beat up cars blocking the whole sidewalk. The fences encased small homes that were half bent downward, rusted, and neglected. The weeds and dandelions grew out the cracks of the sidewalk that had long seen its better days. The paint on the homes was worn and weathered, peeling off the siding; rusted storm pipes and leaves stacked in the gutters that no one bothered to climb up and clear out.

You could find the usual suspects sitting around on stoops drinking forties and playing their music much too loud. Any number of half-dressed children who were badly in need of a bath ran around the yard cursing along to the lyrics while their parents and the other adults around them laughed and filmed them with an iPhone they no doubt were financing or received through the homie hookup. They did this, all so they could post videos on Instagram, like the fact that their kids were cursing like full-grown men was something to be proud about.

I’m a black man, but I hate niggas. And nothing but niggas occupied my family’s neighborhood, and if I never got out of here and got an education, all I would ever be is another nigga slanging and hanging out; not doing shit for myself and blaming the white man for my failures and lack of opportunities. If I could make it out, there was no other reason any other black male in America could not make it out.


I pulled up to the curb outside my parents’ house and sat in my car, dreading on opening the door and entering the house to a permeating smell of greens, gumbo, and fried fish. I looked down at the top I chose to wear. Dammit, all that shitty ass grease is going to get into my clothes, and I’ll have to send not only my shirt but my trousers to the cleaners. I don’t know how many times I have implored my mother to cook normal food, not all that salted up, greasy, fatty chitlin’ circuit shit.

I glanced across the street through my car window and could see our neighbors staring at me. I don’t know if these were the same thugs that moved here about a year ago or a whole new crop of Section 8 dwellers. I got out my car, keeping their gaze as the young thugged out guys watched me. They seemed to be salivating seeing my new seventy-five thousand dollar Mercedes-Benz. I shut the door and hit the alarm.

I walked up to the front door and could hear my father’s booming voice coming from inside. I took one last deep breath and knocked on the door. My younger sister, Michelle answered the door. “Hey Bash,” she said, opening the door just wide enough to let me in. “Eh, Baby, why ain’t you come outside?” a shout came from one of the young thugs from across the street. I glanced down at my sister, whose face had gotten red from embarrassment. “You know those thugs?” I asked. “No, not really. One of them goes to my school,” answered Michelle, shrugging.

Michelle was a sophomore in high school and made outstanding grades. She was a good student and usually didn’t my parents any trouble. Michelle is well-liked and attractive. What I never liked was the attention she received from the jailbird types across the street. Whenever I came here I tried to encourage Michelle to stay on track and keep up her grades so she could get into a good school. Other than me, no one in our family encouraged her to go to college. If anything our older sister Cassie and our mother have told her she go to hair school. Why the hell is that black women always want to push the younger girls in their family to doing hair? Or some other meaningless ain’t shit job.They never told her to do nails or own a beauty store because other people had that shit on lock. Black folk always throwing their money on stupid shit. Sending the money away from the community all so they can wear hair that belonged to someone else.


I saw my father glance out the window toward my new car. Orvel Banks was a big man with a tall hovering stature. Most people look at him and would easily be intimidated by his size and presence. As a kid, his presence scared me and I feared him, for knowing if I stepped out of line at any given time he could crush me with one paw. Yes, a paw, because a bear was what my father reminded me of. He wasn’t abusive nor did he barely whoop us; that was left up to my mother. Dad feared that if we did something that truly enraged him, he’d seriously hurt us with a belt or extension cord. Because of that, he allowed our mother to be the main disciplinarian.


Dad had worked in construction for thirty years. Construction workers, the people who put nails through wood, drywall, lay down plaster and poured cement. All he is; is a glorified handyman. Got a plumbing problem? He can fix that, need your car worked on? No problem, call Dad. What about a new fence? My father could do it. If scrubbing toilets and washing dishes was considered women’s domestic work, then plunging, fixing the garbage disposal, and raking leaves were Dad’s domestic duties, which he did so masterfully.


I can remember being ten years old; I was at a grocery store with my father. He had to pick up a few groceries that day because my mother had gotten injured at work and couldn’t drive. On the conveyer belt were bread, milk, cheese, rice, eggs, apple juice, collard greens, and several packs of cheap hot dogs and lunch meat. Dad gave the cashier his debit card after she ran it, the payment didn’t go through. “Run it again, please,” said Dad. The cashier slid it again, and it was declined once more for insufficient funds. I looked at the total price on the register; the total amount was $23.01.


I glanced back and the line growing behind us, as the people waiting grew more impatient. Dad wasn’t one to be easily stirred, was flurried as he searched through his wallet for any cash. Finally, he pulled out a five and three crumpled one dollar bills. Some of the other people waiting in line started to grumble about us taking too long. “Damn, nigga if you ain’t got the money, get cho’ ass out the line!” a man yelled. Dad turned and glared at the younger man with a wife beater on, cornrows and a toothpick in his mouth. He didn’t respond him, but his stare was enough of a warning to shut anyone up who was thinking of lodging any more complaints at my father. Dad ended up putting back a few of the items, and only kept what his eight dollars could afford; I’d never been so embarrassed in my life. I wasn’t angry that someone had called Dad out. I felt pissed at him for not being able to afford $23.01 on groceries. I vowed then and there, never to be in a position of powerlessness. I promised never to slave away at a dead end job with barely two nickels to rub together. That would never be me.


I watched the expression on his face; the disapproving look in his eye. I knew what he was thinking, but he chose to remain quiet. “That’s my new Mercedes, Dad,” I said. “Yeah, obviously.”

 

I impatiently waited for him to offer more commentary than a two-word answer. After a long silence, I proceeded to tell him about all the special features of the car. The horsepower, handling, system, and about a dozen more exclusive features one could expect in a luxury vehicle. “Does it fly?” asked Dad, sarcastically. Lorenzo, my sister’s live-in boyfriend had been sitting on the couch and began to laugh. I glared at him.

“Is that supposed to be funny?” the question was to my dad, but I looked in Lorenzo’s direction. “A new car was necessary, especially when you barely had the other one for long,” replied Dad.

“Because I wanted a new car and I trade them in every two years. Is that a crime?”
“Bash, do what you want with your money, that’s up to you. I have always told you growing up to save for a rainy day,” said Dad. I scoffed.

“Yeah right. How is it then; that we always had rainy days growing up, but you never had any money saved?”

Before my father could answer, my mother walked into the living room. “Hey, Baby. You made it this time. The last two Sundays, we ain’t seen you.”

“Sorry, Mama. I’ve been busy with work, and I was recently out of town on a business trip,” I answered. It was half true. I was on a business trip two weeks ago but got back on a Saturday night. I didn’t want to deal with my family the next day, so I told my mother I was still out of town. Last week I didn’t come and lied to her that I was sick. I could only stomach coming here once or twice a month, and even then that could be too much.

My mom said she could tell that something was bothering me by the look on my face. I didn’t feel like getting into the details of the problems at work, nor did I want everyone to overhear that I had once again, getting passed over for a promotion. My father would tell me to quit complaining, and my mother would say I should be thankful for having a job. My family was happy with mediocrity and they expected I would I would accept it all the same. I don’t and I never could. “Let me get back in this kitchen so that I can finish up this food,” said Mom, as she turned around and walked out of the room.


I sat on the couch, with my little brother, Usher. He, my father, and Lorenzo were watching Sunday football. The San Myshuno Panthers were playing an away game. You could hear the faint sound of starting quarterback, Colin Stone calling the snap: Blue 82! Blue 82! Hut Hut!”
I glanced back down at my tablet, not interested in watching the game. It’s not that I didn’t like football; I just hated watching with my brother and Lorenzo, who could be quite obnoxious whenever the Panther’s offense was on the field.


“Bash, can’t your job hook us up with some tickets, yo?” asked Usher. “Tickets to what?” I asked, not looking up from my tablet. “Man, to see the Panthers!”  I shook my head, annoyed. “I don’t know, Usher. Usually, you have to sign up long before the season starts. I haven’t gone to any game since last season.”


“Dang, Bash you got a job with all these perks and making bank. You don’t even get nothing from them. You hustling backward,” laughed Usher. “Well, quit skipping school, get a degree and then maybe you can get a nice job with fringe benefits one day too instead of begging me for shit.” “Watch your mouth, Bash,” warned Dad, sternly.


After another hour passed by, dinner was ready, finally. I went over and sat down at the table. The sight of fried catfish, heaps of collard greens smothered over hammocks, mac n cheese, cornbread, and soggy green beans made my stomach turn. Growing up, I enjoyed my mother’s cooking, but I don’t eat like this in my everyday life. I want to keep my arteries clear and unclogged. I watched as my father piled his plate with food; a heart attack waiting to happen. One of these days, he’s going to keel over right here at the table; probably with a chicken wing in his hand.

My sister, Cassie was the oldest child. She brought a plate over to Lorenzo and fixed her kids theirs before she sat down and began eating. Cassie and Lorenzo had been together off and on since high school. They had two kids, lived together, but weren’t married. Up until a few months ago, they’d been living here because for the third time three years they couldn’t afford to pay their rent. Thanks to the US federal government, Cassie was recently approved for Section 8, which allowed her, Lorenzo and their kids to move into a three-bedroom house just five blocks away on the taxpayer’s dime. God bless America. Only here could someone not do shit all day but post to Facebook about “slaying” and showing off some homey hookup Jordans she got her kids so she could “stunt” on her “haters.”

Lorenzo worked; at times. He never graduated high school but went to work with my dad in construction. Work wasn’t always steady for him, and Cassie often had to ask either our parents or me for money to pay the bills. I had long ago put an end to Cassie’s begging me for money and trying to guilt me into paying her rent or other expenses simply because of my income. I couldn’t give two shits whether or not her lights were cut off.


I sat quietly, eating my food as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to give it time for my taste buds to adjust to mounds of grease, salt, and fat that covered every morsel. I zoned out the conversation around me; as it was the same thing week to week. My mom was gossiping about her sisters and their trifling kids, my sister blaming the illegal immigrants for the state cutting the number of food stamps she gets each month, and Dad giving mundane details from the previous week job site he dry-walled. Michelle stayed on her phone talking to her friends over social media, and Usher took a selfie and after selfie, sending off each one to the two or three girlfriends he kept. It was his junior year in high school, and he was going nowhere fast. Usher thought he would be a rapper and his skills would as he claimed: “make more bank than you Bash!”

Usher was cocky and boorish, and unfortunately; not very bright. Whenever I told him to get a college degree, I meant community college; goodness knows he’d never make it a state school let alone a top-tier school like me. My little brother thought he’d be the next Drake. I’ve told him many times, the main reason Drake is so accepted by many is that he’s biracial. That’s why he’s able to get away with having ghostwriters and stealing everyone’s culture for his latest hit. The most Usher could hope to be is a Soundcloud rapper. That’s as far as he’d ever go.


I started to think of an excuse I could give my mother for not coming next week for dinner. There were only so many times I could tell her I had to work or that I was on another business trip. It took everything for me to come here and stomach the mindless chatter, the complacent mindset, and disregard for me and my ambition. I’ve tried countless times over the years to get my family to see that there was life outside of this neighborhood and that they didn’t need to settle for these dead-end jobs that pay pennies. But they all seemed too satisfied with the way things were, and after a while, it would just be me alone in a room talking to myself; no one there to hear me, no one there to care.

Check out the biography of Bash and other main characters here.

Author’s Note: It just should be noted that I am aware, some may not like the representation of Bash’s older sister Cassie (who isn’t a main character) being on gov’t assistance. Often we see these images presented with the face of black women when that is not the case as statistics show others get more gov’t help than blacks. As you can see, while Bash’s family is working class, his parents do own their own home and have jobs. I would never look down on my own people, but I wanted to make a story based on the reality of many people. You will see that there are well to do black people in this story and in my past stories. I have characters from all social classes. The truth of the matter is, when I was very young, my mother had to get assistance for us even though she worked, my father wasn’t around. The fact is a lot of people (White, Black, Latino, Asian) in this country are classified as “working poor” they have jobs, but can’t afford the basic necessities of life.  Some characters and storylines will not sit well with all people who read it, and that is fine. I’ve always said there would be things people may not like, but I wanted to write a story that in some ways reflected some of my past experiences and those around me or people I’ve known and those who I come up with in my head. Thanks for reading and I’m always open to feedback.

 

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Will Ayana Dinha Survive The Game of Power?

Ayana has the Family Aspiration

Ayana’s traits are: Good, Family-Oriented, and Cheerful

Introducing Ayana Dinha

Ayana Dinha is a former top fashion model who founded S.H.E magazine, an online publication shortly after she retired from full-time modeling. Ayana has always wanted something she could build from the ground up and make a success of it. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before immigrating with her family to the United States at five years old. Ayana’s parents, Ahmed and Faizah Tesfaye have successful careers in the STEM field, and her siblings are headed along the same path.

The Tesfayes didn’t approve her choice to quit college midway through her freshman year to become a full-time model. They thought she’d come to her senses once she told them she had retired from the business, but they were appalled once their daughter told them of her plans to sink most of her savings into a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Ayana is very sensitive to her parent’s feelings, but it would be hard for her to live the life they want for her when she’s always dreamed of publishing her own magazine.

Everything Ayana makes from ad revenue goes back into the magazine. If it weren’t for her best friend and fellow editor, Parminder Patel who comes from a wealthy Punjabi family, giving her money each month, Ayana would not be able to keep a roof over her head. The Tesfayes have money, but they refuse to support Ayana in what they see as foolishness. Ethiopians are very proud people, so when Ayana began working for different fashion houses scantily dressed, she brought shame on her family. Her father didn’t even speak to her for nearly a year once she dropped out of college.

Ayana’s greatest fear is that her magazine will fail and prove her parents and other family members right. When she came over to the US, Ayana dived right into American culture, particularly Black American culture, so much, so she saw it as more of her own than the Ethiopian culture she was born into. Ahmed and Faizah were distraught when they saw their middle daughter turning her nose up at their customs and ways. They didn’t approve of the American guys she brought home during high school nor most of her friends. Ayana even stopped speaking their language to her parents, breaking her mother’s heart. It’s not easy for Faizah to talk to her daughter, she doesn’t get why Ayana can’t be like her sister, Fana and do what is expected of her. Faizah suffered immensely to get to where she is today and never wanted her daughters to go through what she did before she left home. Now that Ayana is throwing her life away, it’s a slap to her face for all of her hard work.

One thing Ayana has always had a talent for was getting men to fall at her feet. She learned from an early age how easy it was for boys to men to throw themselves at her and do just about anything to please her. She desires to have true love in her life, but she is never sure if a man is dating her purely based on what is on the outside. More than one gentlemen of means have offered to give her magazine the exposure it desperately needs. Ayana’s beauty is her asset, but it is also a hindrance in many ways because men find out that she’s in great need of help, help only they can give her, so they use it as a possible opportunity to bed her. However, Ayana’s beauty could be the only card she has to play. If she sacrificed her integrity, how could she look at herself in the mirror each day? Would the ends justify the means if it meant getting what she wanted; fame and success?

Ayana considers herself to be a classic model and she prefers the tried and true institutions and platforms of high fashion. Now, every Instagram girl claims to be a model. Ayana could not be more disgusted with the barrage of IG models, the ones with silicone butt implants, filtered pictures and several pounds of makeup. Whatever happened to real and natural beauty? Not only are the social media girls’ platforms getting larger by the day, but designers are also now flocking to many of them to wear their clothes or sign a branding deal with them. S.H.E and Ayana’s personal Instagram doesn’t even have as many followers as many of the “models” that are getting exposure and attention Ayana feels her magazine should be getting. She gets it, most of the people who follow those girls, are young everyday round-the-way girls, who believe with weave, ass shots, and good Facetune, they too could get millions of followers and get paid by companies eager to endorse them. Their looks and “beauty” isn’t anything special nor is it natural. Ayana was blessed with exquisite natural beauty that millions of women and girls pay thousands of dollars for. She embraces her looks and knows many women covet her features, so she doesn’t feel guilty for making money off her own vanity and allowing her to step into spaces most people could only dream about.

Every day it’s a struggle for S.H.E as Ayana fights for designers to send over their creations for a review, getting companies to advertise on the website, and fighting with Parminder about the content they should be showcasing. Parminder knows that Ayana needs to get her head out of the clouds; thinking S.H.E will be on the same level as Vogue or ELLE. If Ayana wants to get more viewership, she is going to have to market to the online social media crowd, no matter how much it pains her to do so. Ayana has a lot of pride and doesn’t want to sully her brand with the IG aesthetic, but her tunnel vision only allows her to focus on the more low brow side of social media modeling.

As an idealistic person and purist, Ayana’s methods are not cutting it in the cutthroat world of fashion publishing. She could barely deal with the backstabbing when she was a model. Usually, she has been the type to stick her head in the ground when she didn’t want to deal with something or give up when the fight got too tough. Ayana refuses to give up her dream, but if she doesn’t start getting in the game, making the right connections with the power players that can get her what she needs, Ayana will inevitably fail, and her family would look at her as the disappointment they believe she is.

One thing is for sure, if Ayana is unwilling to put her game face on and make changes to take S.H.E to the next level, she’ll pass on her one chance at success and lose the game. A lot of other players are more skilled than her, and they are willing to do whatever it takes, no matter what; something she may not be cut out for. As Ayana will soon begin to discover as her ambitious drive grows, she could be capable of almost anything to get what she wants. The world is waiting to see if Ayana can step up and survive the game of power.

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Rico Thomas, The Ruthless Pragmatic Player of the Game of Power

 

Rico has the Knowledge Aspiration

Rico’s traits are: Ambitious, Self-Assured, and Insider

I do understand power, whatever else may be said about me. I know where to look for it, and how to use it.”

-President Lyndon B. Johnson.

LBJ’s words here are true for Rico Thomas. He adheres to that truth each day. Like LBJ, Rico doesn’t gain his power through ideal tactics and what is considered morally right in the eyes of many (depending on who’s the observer). For someone who knows very few things in life are black and white, the ends will justify the means. It’s essential to Rico to set goals and achieve them by the best means possible, not by “any means necessary,” because not all means are the smartest and “any” leaves one open to considering some less than smart options.

Rico is the CEO of Thomas Global Strategies, a consulting firm that offers expertise and services for finance, legal, public relations, crisis, management, political strategy, and in several other fields. Rico founded his company and ran it on a much smaller scale when he was in prep school. He has a business degree from Wharton, one of the country’s premier business schools and an MBA from Harvard.

As a pragmatist, Rico often employs ruthless methods to get what he needs and serve his clients. He has little use for emotions when making decisions in his everyday life and business. Rico is highly intelligent, but he’s smart enough to know that he can’t assume to be the smartest person in the room. Keeping both friends and enemies alike in his fold, helps keeps his ear to the ground. It gives his associates a false feeling of security and makes them vulnerable to lower their guard, all to his advantage.

Rico’s motivation for his business is to serve his clients faithfully and efficiently. TGS may be a small firm, but its highly efficient and is gaining a reputation for its expertise. A significant portion of the firm’s clients is connected to the elite Blue Bloods in American and European society. However, Rico himself is not a classist and he believes even empowering someone born into a lower social class than he could be beneficial for his goals. For everyone Rico helps, that person is indebted to him. You may not know when he is coming to call in a favor, but once he shows up at your door, you know why he’s there.

As an apolitical consultant and operative, Rico services both Democrats and Republicans alike. Through crisis and management as well as public relations, Rico’s firm has provided consultation services to police organizations accused of brutality to black socialist groups who have nationally opposed the practice of excessive force and racial profiling. TGS counts The Congressional Black Caucus, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and members of the GOP as its clients. Through complete non-biased services to his clients, Rico has at times come to aide those that some see as fighting against “his own people.” However, Rico has no shame and no use for it. He doesn’t allow his ethnicity and background to control his decisions. He sees the world as it is, and deals with it accordingly.

Rico is a student of the 48 Laws of Power and makes many of his life decisions based on the fundamental truths of those laws. For if he allowed relationships and feelings to cloud his judgment, anyone would pounce on the opportunity to destroy him and take away what he has spent years building.

Knowing and spotting advantages for power is essential to survival, and Rico will take any opportunity to gain an advantage. He was born into wealth, but his family went through troubling financial hardships and lost most of their fortune before rebounding, albeit not at the same level. Rico witnessed how in an instant money didn’t secure his family. It can be taken from you in the blink of an eye. He has made it a goal to gain power and an edge for he doesn’t want to experience the feelings of helplessness and depending on someone else as his family did years ago. Power itself can be fleeting. You can’t put complete trust and faith into one person or entity. Loyalty only goes so far before it hands you your ass and you’ve been stripped of all power because you bet on the wrong horse.

The stakes are inevitably high and of vital importance. As a seasoned and skilled player of the game of power, Rico is good at winning, but it’s not always so easy, and when you’re on top, a fall to the floor is all that much harder. No one is immune, and anyone can win or lose at the game, for the power players are forever changing. Rico needs to make sure he can stay in the match in the growing face of adversity if he wants to win the game of power.

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Meet Det. Bella Vega, One of the Players of A Game of Power

Bella has the Knowledge Aspiration

 

Bella has the Ambitious, Self-Assured, and Active Traits

Detective Bella Vega is the first Black Latina of Puerto Rican descent to named a head detective in the San Myshuno Narcotics Unit. She is highly decorated and has been with the department right out of college. Bella comes from a long family line of cops.

Through her hard work and ruthless ambition, Bella has risen in the ranks within the department. Not fast enough for her, however. She believes she should have made lieutenant already for that would surely put her on track to become Chief of Detectives once the current chief retired in a few years. Bella will have a tough road ahead of her, as not only is she up against more experienced officers in higher positions, but her superior, Staff Sgt Det Hartley Fullerton; whom she is having an affair with is also in the pool. Bella knows she is at the very bottom of names that could be considered in a few years because she has not been in her current position as long as some of the other candidates and she is the only female detective in a historically sexist male-dominated department.

Initially, Bella became a cop to impress her father, as he was still on the force at the time. One of her older brothers, Miguel had been killed in the line of duty the year before she graduated college and entered the academy. She was never good at expressing her emotions, and she wanted to in her own way comfort her dad and make him proud. But her efforts are forever lost on him. Her father, Juan, was a decorated officer when he retired. He never encouraged or approved of Bella becoming a cop and told her to get a regular office job after college, the same he told her sisters. Juan has sexist tendencies and doesn’t believe women need to be in uniform, they didn’t have the strength for a police job, and they lacked logic and ran on pure emotion.

The department investigated for years to bring down a most wanted cop killer, but at every turn, they came to a dead end and got nowhere. The more years that go by, Bella knows it will be harder to find out who killed Miguel. He was brutally beaten nearly beyond recognition once his cover was blown and before they killed him. She has taken it upon herself to investigate. In the back of her mind, if Bella found her brother’s killer, her father would finally accept her as an officer and give his approval.

Not only has Bella had to deal with sexism at her job, but the more covert racial microaggressions by some officers on the force with her. The San Myshuno Police Department has recently made more of an effort to recruit officers of color to bring into the unit, hoping to ease the very tense race relations between the Black and Latino communities. There are some who feel as Bella received her promotion because she was a double minority- a woman and a person of color. Bella is not interested in the racial politics of the department. While some officers do hold prejudice views, it’s not all, and of the ones who have been passive aggressive with Bella and other officers of color, Bella gives it right back to them and doesn’t take the bull people try to throw her way. She’s not interested in equality for all; she is only interested in furthering her career.

Bella sleeps with men, whether married or not when it’s expedient for her and if it will help get what she needs for her career. She suffers from sex addiction, but as an addict, she doesn’t always need a reason for her next conquest and no promise of favor earned. It was either sex or drinking, and she almost had an incident a few years back due to alcohol abuse, that if she hadn’t slept with one of her superiors, it would have gone on her record and messed with her chances for a promotion.

Bella’s married, lover Det Hartley Fullerton has had it hard at times as well from some of the fellow officers. Due to the significant level of backlash the department has received in recent years from accusations of police brutality and excessive force, the department sought to place more officers of color on the force and promote from within their ranks. Some feel as if Hartley was a beneficiary of “an Affirmative Action promotion.” In truth, Hartley knows as a black man and the SMPD wanting to ease race relations; he was given the promotion to staff sergeant faster than was routine. But he didn’t doubt his capabilities because he was highly skilled, educated and he was great at police work. If his color were the reason for his promotion, Hartley would never allow anyone to say that he didn’t deserve it; they could think it, but not say it.

Bella has several personal vices and dark secrets that must be kept. As her thirst for power, respect from her father and finding her brother’s killer grows, the more she is tasked with making decisions that would violate the oath took as an officer of the law. It’s not easy to stop, how can she give up now when so many things have been working in her favor? Can Bella handle it? She must if she wants to survive the game of power.

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