The Virus is a worldwide political movement that has its origins in North America. It is a movement that is difficult to define, as it has no centralized structure or any semblance of organization, with many seemingly competing interests acting in its name. The only commonalty that exists among those who have taken up the movement is that they are decidedly "anti-establishment", with The Virus frequently becoming a rallying cry for marginalized groups within various societies. Most of its activities are online and the movement has become popular across many different social media platforms, although some groups that have pledged to be part of the movement have set up "offline" locations to co-ordinate their activities.
The Virus gained notoriety in 2013 when a rash of crimes committed in North America occurred with the criminals stating they are acting as part of the movement, although its origins appear to have come much earlier. Many prominent crimes have been declared as part of the movement, two of which were an expansive human trafficking network, the Order of St. Maria Goetti, which caused a severe crackdown in Birea aimed at ending human trafficking in the country, and the Night of Anarchy, which caused so much disorder worldwide that the Treaty of Buffalo was signed. Thus, the movement has become a special concern of police forces worldwide, with the Buffalo Treaty establishing the Mundiali Imperium police force to deal with the threat.
The origins of The Virus are unclear, with the first documented sighting of the movement coming in 1999 when a website registered to Danforth Grayson, a Texan who, at the time, worked as a criminal defence lawyer in Denver, Colorado, although Grayson would use "The Virus" as the name of various activist groups he was a part of dating all the way back to 1990. Grayson's website was a "how-to" guide assisting readers on how to commit crimes while evading the detection of law enforcement officers, with the site soon expanding into an online forum and a wiki that allowed other users to contribute to an ever expanding encyclopedia on how to commit crimes without detection. It soon gained the attention of law enforcement agencies in Colorado, with many lawmakers attempting to get the site shut down, but Grayson successfully fought off these attempts in court.
Grayson's common line of defence was that his website was about "enabling justice" and allowing "those who have been wronged to right the wrongs the police failed to do", with the website making frequent and explicit calls to its users not to target innocents or to use the website's resources for their own gain. "Crime should never be about vanity," Grayson once told The Denver Post-Gazette in 2003, "it should always be about justice. Those who act for their own selfish interests only serve to create enemies, and when you create enemies you create an endless spiral of retaliation that destroys the entire order within society." Grayson also frequently defended the website by asserting that no actual crimes had been committed by users of its content, as well as an ironclad rule that tells users of its forum that outright discussions of committing specific crimes are prohibited.
The Ingrid Fjallsdottir Case Edit
In September 2016, the Milner Report, written by Mike Milner, came out, asserting that police forces across North America had a "hero mentality" which caused the police to only pursue cases that promised fame and glory and were not too difficult to solve. Milner, a former detective and prosecutor in Savannah, wrote his report after investigating the case of Hayden Myers, who asserted she suffered for years at the hands of Ted Bundy at his Inland Empire, California ranch while the police did nothing about it. Milner concluded that, despite the fact that the police had known about Bundy's activities, they did nothing about it because Bundy was "too difficult to catch". In 2016, after her arrest, Myers confessed to killing Bundy, concluding it was the only way she could end her trauma after the police consistently ignored her pleas to investigate.
It was also around this time that Myers met with Ingrid Fjallsdottir, who had been investigating Bundy for his involvement in several Birean human trafficking rings. Fjallsdottir, who coordinated St. Jasper's Fire in 1995, was operating a human trafficking ring of her own, the Order of St. Maria Goetti, where its slaves were frequently abducted and abused before being sold off, but was having problems expanding its scope in beyond Virtue territory. Fjallsdottir contacted Grayson to help her out, but Grayson refused, causing her to turn to Myers. The two hatched an elaborate plan- constructed ironically through advice on Grayson's own site- to land him in jail and thus force him to give up control of the website.
The plan worked, with Grayson convicted of assault and breaking and entering on May 2, 2014, allowing the Order to increase substantially its foothold in North America, but it also caused Grayson to assist police in order to take down the Order. After two years of serious investigations, eventually the Order was shut down with its members arrested, leading to convictions for its members in several trials in August of 2016.
After the Fjallsdottir Case Edit
Fjallsdottir had increased The Virus' scope beyond its initial website (shut down after St. Jasper's Trials), using social media to recruit members for her goals and to create the illusion that it had become a North American social movement. However, following Fjallsdottir's arrest, many users on social media really did pledge a commitment to The Virus, asserting that Fjallsdottir was a "political prisoner" arrested simply for her activism. Thus, what began as a seemingly disconnected movement on social media that truly was a connected network soon morphed into a decentralized, "organization in name only" social movement where only the theme of anti-establishmentarianism provides a loose connection among its adherents.
Thus, currently, there are no agreed-upon set of values that define a member of The Virus, besides the idea of anti-establishmentarianism and political protest. Many of its members do believe that using crime as a form of protest is a vital facet of Viral ideology, although this isn't universal. Thus, The Virus as a movement has grown to encompass a wide variety of different political beliefs and ideologies, with many special interest groups asserting their membership in the movement as a means of establishing their roles as firmly anti-establishment forces, as well as for marginalized social groups to believe they are creating a united front against those who marginalize them, even if their social group's goals are diametrically opposed to another group's goals. For example, it is known that several Irish and Emeldic supremacist groups have pledged their commitment to Viral ideology, even though the Irish and Emeldic have clashed for years.
Despite its haphazard nature, The Virus is seen by many law enforcement organizations as a threat, with both Rome and Virtue declaring the organization a "terrorist" organization. This came after the July 11, 2016 "Night of Anarchy" where many purported Virus members- acting independent of Ingrid- caused numerous riots that forced what was left of the worldwide polity to sign the Treaty of Buffalo to create an organized front to deal with The Virus' threat. Some experts, including Grayson, believe these efforts are futile, as the new nature of The Virus as a very loosely defined ideology means that membership levels could be "infinite" and thus impossible to defeat like conventional organized crime. Grayson is an outspoken critic of the Treaty, believing it is "false reassurance" to their people as it "continues to ignore the real source of their problems."
For his part, since the original website was shut down, Grayson disavowed any involvement with this iteration of The Virus, denouncing it as a "front for selfishness". "These guys think they're game-changers and they're out to improve the world," said Grayson in a 2016 video on his social media accounts, "but they're really just out to improve themselves. This isn't justice- it's vanity. That's why The Virus is nothing but a sham."
On the heels of the Milner Report's release and Fjallsdottir's conviction, The Virus experienced a power vacuum at the top that Grayson sought to exploit to regain control over his group. On October 4, 2016, Grayson shot a widely circulated video from an unknown MyFriends account that stated he was "reclaiming The Virus". Noting that, despite the fact most who took up "The Virus" banner have very differing views, Grayson noted that almost everyone who took up the banner were marginalized in some way. "No matter what your views are, no matter what political parties you favour or what culture you follow," said Grayson in his video, "there is one thing that unites you all and that's the fact you all have been oppressed by the powers that be. I know I have said a lot to disparage the movement, and I apologize for that (while also knowing some will not accept it), but I will make up for it. I pledge to be the unifying voice...your voice...and provide the leadership this movement needs. I will set up an account, and through those accounts you can contact me and I will fight for you. I promise you this. Because the powers want us to be divided, because that makes us weak. Only when we are together can we be stronger. So join me...and let's unite to make this a better world."
The second iteration is speculated as one of the major sparks for the Televised Riots, as Grayson shared a post from an unknown account that stated The Virus "is committed to bringing to power Anatu, The People's Leader", allowing it to spread across social media. No evidence of criminal activity has been proven, though.