Literature / The Echo Case Files
The Echo Case Files is a series created by British author C.S. Stinton, set at an unspecified point in our future within the Orion Confederacy, a Space Opera
The Confederacy is under attack by a horrifying alien species known as the Null and is apparently losing, or at least getting really, really hurt. In response, the authorities are responding with something close to total war, which causes inevitable conflict with its democratic traditions and systems. One of these conflicts is the existence of the Confederate Marshals, a small force of military law enforcers with almost unlimited legal power at their disposal.
The first volume in the series, Ragnarok, is set on the backwater world of Thor. A new terrorist group has emerged, protesting the Confederacy's increasingly militaristic policies while wielding weapons that should only have been in the hands of the military. Two Marshals, Commander Sara Ramirez and Lieutenant Maggie Tycho are sent to dismantle their operation, accompanied by a local guide who happens to be a smuggler and deserter from the Confederate Marines
With the local police and political structures corrupt from top to bottom, Ramirez rapidly finds her mission to identify the Confederacy's enemies complicated by having no clear idea who she can trust among those meant to be her allies.
The Echo Case Files: Ragnarok contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Ramirez and Tycho both.
- Action Survivor: Lockeís heroic, inaccurate but highly useful volley of gunfire, which saves both his and Ramirezí life.
- By-the-Book Cop: Ramirez, although she occasionally struggles with it. This trait is why her boss trusts her with the absolute power that being a Confederate Marshal gives a person; she knows Ramirez won't abuse it.
- Cool Starship: The Null Frankenstein ships are hulks cobbled together out of pieces of captured Confederate vessels, making them also examples of What a Piece of Junk.
- Cowboy Cop: Navarro brings a SWAT team along on a Marshals operation without telling his superior. Except, well, this is a subversion: he's only a maverick because he's acting like a proper police officer in a corrupt department. And then there's the double subversion when it turns out the 'proper police officer' part of it turns out to be a ruse.
- Dirty Cop: The HCPD, particularly Commissioner Beyer and Lieutenant Navarro. However, it should be noted that there are two types of corruption: those involved in the criminal underworld, and those involved in Ragnarok. The latter organisation has actually dismembered the former, leaving those corrupt cops on the gangland payroll somewhat disempowered lately.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Specifically referenced with Ramirez and Tycho. Oddly, Tycho, the friendly, cheery officer is the one that has restraint issues. Ramirez later repeats this, but accidentally switches role when she loses her temper, with Harrigan unexpectedly having to take the role of good cop.
- Groin Attack: Ramirez promises to shoot Harrigan in the groin if he tries to escape.
- Have I Mentioned I am Gay?: Tycho drops into conversation that itís not that Navarro is too young for her, but too male.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The HCPD. They manage to have a blazing gun battle in a crowded bar and yet there are only a few minor injuries.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Ramirez takes out a sniper on a dark night while he's in cover. She later lampshades this while in a stand-off where the odds are desperately against her.
- Improperly Placed Firearms: An in-universe example, in that Ragnarok are using the 2288 Machenry, a high-powered military rifle to which no mere terrorist group should be able to get access.
- Jurisdiction Friction: The classic 'feds versus local cops', in which the (con)fed protagonists can technically steamroller through anything the local cops try and put in their way, but (initially at least) try and play nicely with them, to avoid making enemies.
- Little Useless Gun: Ramirez lends one to Harrigan (at least, this is his opinion of it, as an ex-Marine), an even smaller ankle weapon to Locke, and then takes it back for her confrontation with Vincente.
- Lovely Angels: Ramirez and Tycho, until Tycho gets wounded and Harrigan is unofficially elevated to being the other half of the pairing (see They Fight Crime, below).
- Mexican Stand Off: The climax involves one.
- Military Maverick: When Harrigan reveals his backstory, it turns out he was one of these, with his actions costing the lives of his entire unit. Unfortunately, while his disobedience was actually based on necessity, he was branded a Glory Seeker and court martialed.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Null reanimate enemy (i.e. human) dead using nanotech, to create an Artificial Zombie. This is contagious as well, as the nano-machines leap into any corpses near a revenant, making it a Plague Zombie as well. In general though, the Confederacy is Not Using the Z Word.
- Police Brutality: Although they were provoked by some idiot pulling a gun on them, the level of return fire from the HCPD when they raid a smuggler bar easily classes as this trope. Fortunately, the HCPD train their officers at the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, so no one gets too badly hurt.
- Precision F-Strike: "Semper Fucking Fi", by Harrigan. Also internally by Ramirez, when she realises how difficult it will be to thwart the assassination. Swearing in this book is otherwise mostly low-level and sparse.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Ramirez hires a gang of criminals to make an 'arrest' when she can't trust the local PD.
- Semper Fi: The US Marine Corps, although not explicitly named, appears to be a predecessor to the Marine element of the Confederate Fleet, due to the mention of this motto; US military jargon such as JAG, fubar, Mark I Eyeball, ell-tee and so on also drop into his dialogue.
- Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement: The HCPD's down near the bottom end, being corrupt at every level, to the point of being ineffectual as a police force. Meanwhile the Confederate Marshals are at the positive end, despite their near-absolute power. In their case, it doesn't corrupt absolutely, thanks to careful recruitment policies.
- The Bad Guys Are Cops: Not all the cops, but enough of them are involved with Ragnarok that to suspend all the compromised ones would strip away the local PD's ability to provide security at a public event where a local dignitary is at risk of assassination... by, uh, Ragnarok.
- They Fight Crime: Ramirez and Harrigan, after Tycho gets injured. A By-the-Book Cop and a deserter/smuggler: They Fight Crime!
- Torture Cellar: When Ramirez hires mercenaries to arrest a HCPD officer, she realises with distaste that the cell her employees provide isnít actually improvised, but a fully fitted out cell in a basement, complete with one-way glass. Ramirez then almost kneecaps the prisoner during interrogation, which qualifies it for this trope.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Averted. Ragnarok doesnít get much good press, even amongst the anti-Confederate protest groups, largely due to the civilian collateral damage of their attacks against the state.