Part 16: Session 014: Reunited
Before we get started, here are a couple of weapons we've come across that we hadn't in the previous version. Up first is the M1921 Thompson, the "Tommy Gun." It's a full-size submachine gun, large but controllable. The biggest downside to this weapon is that it overheats easily. Drum magazines hold 50 rounds of .45ACP. Pip is the old-timer of the group so he'll have this as a backup weapon.
This is a "carbinized" M712. It has a longer barrel, foregrip, and fixed buttstock, but is otherwise identical to the M712 broomhandle pistol. Exotic and cool to look at, but we have better submachine guns in our hands at the moment. We'll be selling this off.
Session 014: Reunited
Day 21, 1439
"If this keeps up, Caderas is liable to think we're incompetent."
I shrugged under the midday heat as we walked southeast along the road inside the protected zone. "Murphy's Law, iamsmike, Murphy's Law. Shit happens all the time, and Caderas should understand this. We'll just tell him he got spooked and we lost him in a crowd. Letting him go should pay dividends with the rebels."
"I'm glad Scotch and iastudent decided to take a break beforehand," said ZeeToo. "I think vikings self-flagellate over missing an opportunity to shed blood."
Day 21, 1733
"I tell you, the mechanics in this country are shady," grumbled Pip as we continued along the road. "They don't know how long it'll take to fix the jeep? In my old hotrodding days the mechanic considered it an honor if you chose him to work on your wheels. Now it's just a buncha shady punks who'd as soon strip your car bare as repair it."
"Marselo said he'd oversee the repairs personally," said ZeeToo. "He seemed to be in some kind of Wookiee life-debt to Beacon here so I guess his word is good."
I snorted a laugh, wiping the sweat clear of my forehead. "I wouldn't call it a life-debt. I bailed him out of some back taxes."
"Well, back taxes are no laughing matter," said iamsmike. "I remember the Waingrove account. Five hundred dollars short on the tax payment one year. With late fees and interest owed it mushroomed into a debt totalin-"
"Hey, we're almost to Las Vacaciones," I loudly reminded the team.
Day 21, 2119
"All the watering holes in this country look the same," Pip pointed out. "Elaine and I used to go dancing at some real classy joints that prided themselves on their individuality. Of course nowadays it's all about the damn grinding or whatever the hell it is. Don't nobody dance the way me and mine used to."
"Tell you what," I said. "Why don't you three go inside and Pip here can expound upon that over a glass of scotch."
ZeeToo shot me an annoyed look and I smiled back. I followed them inside and starting asking after some work.
The trader at the bar told me that the Las Vacaciones's mayor, Ramon Sevalos, was looking for a courier to hand-deliver a parcel to Campesino's mayor. Not glamorous, but I had to pay my team in cash, not glory. I was pointed to city hall and dragged my guys back out of the bar before Pip could really get started on how the standards of healthcare had gone down since he'd last been in the practice.
The trader also had some new tactical belts in stock! These belts allow two ammo pouches to be attached rather than just the one our current belts allow. An easy upgrade decision.
Mayor Sevalos sized us up and decided that we were right for the job. He handed the parcel over and thanked us in advance. With nothing left to do in Las Vacaciones, we headed west to Campesino. It wouldn't hurt to get some extra money before reporting in with Tanya Tormens down at the rebel camp.
Squint forgot to take a screenshot here, but I assure you the team is traveling from Las Vacaciones to Campesino.
Day 22, 0601
First thing was to check in with the bar gossip and see what the local arms dealers had in their inventory. While talking with the former toy dealer in the alley behind the bar, I heard an interesting piece of information about tourist troubles.
"Heh, what, the author?"
Mr. Kertino looked at me oddly, and I waved it off. "Never mind."
I figured he probably got caught up in the post-hurricane anarchy unleashed by Mangosta's tribe. When bandits are involved, there's usually somebody who needs killing, so I decided to check in with this Clive Barker guy at the hospital before we left town and see if he needed some dirty work done.
Thomas Kertino had a Benelli M3 Super 90 for sale, which is essentially the predecessor to the M4 Pip is toting around. Like the M4, we can feed it shot or slugs in 12 gauge. We don't really have a use for it, however, so it'll remain unpurchased.
In addition to helping your exposed skin better blend in with your surroundings, camouflage paint also does a great job of matting the sheen of sweat that forms in hot weather. Be sure to wash up well once the mission is over, however, or else it'll clog your pores. Camo paint is good for one application to one merc, after which that merc's stealth gauge is suppressed a bit more than normal. We'll buy the one Kertino has in stock and save it for later.
Mayor Monteyro accepted his delivery with a suspicious glare and a small wad of bills all but thrown at me. Asshole. he never even said anything to me.
We went over to the hospital, where the receptionist directed us to Mr. Barker's ward.
He was bad off, that much was apparent. His torso had been bandaged, spots of red showing through. His face was pale, except for the dark redness in the hollows of his eyes. He may have been dying, who knows.
I signaled to the others to spread out, give him some air. I stopped in front of the bed.
He looked up at me and nodded weakly.
"I heard over at the bar that some men had done you wrong in Santa Maria. Call me Beacon. Me and my team solve problems. I was wondering if we might be of any assistance."
His eyes moved from me to my team and then back to me. He grunted, and slowly sat up in the bed, eyes tearing from the pain of it. "Benicia Alvares," he said. "They have her."
"Start at the beginning," I told him.
He took a couple of breaths, then nodded. "After the hurricane, relief efforts started trickling in from the UN, various missionary groups, Peace Corps, and so on. But nobody knew about them, because the aid shipments were intercepted by the mayor, kept from the people. Benicia found out about it..." he grunted, clutching his side.
"What do you have to do with all this?"
"Benicia and I were... seeing each other. I was here on vacation, and we met at the bar in Santa Maria. Then the hurricane hit, and then the aid scandal happened. Order broke down. Armed thugs were everywhere, and it wasn't a safe place for foreigners. I went to leave, but Benicia wanted to go with me. However, knowing what she knew, the mayor wouldn't allow it."
"Well, how did she find out?" I asked.
This seemed to hurt Mr. Barker more than anything else. "The mayor," he said, "is her father. She couldn't help but know. Her father put her on lockdown, not letting her see anyone. It was all so she couldn't share her secret. But she had shared it with me. Before I could escape, they came after me and did this. Left me for dead." He let out a wet, ragged cough. "Some missionaries smuggled me out of Santa Maria and brought me here, but... Benicia is still in Santa Maria. I heard some mercenaries broke the back of the organized gangs running the city, but the government instated a new mayor in the wake of the aid scandal. Even so, Benicia is still a prisoner of her father."
"How much is it worth to you to see her free?" I asked.
He winced. "I... I don't have any money," he said. "But she needs help, and I can't give it to her from here." He just looked at me then, breathing heavily under the pain of his condition.
I looked over my shoulder, at my team members milling around the recovery room. Damn it. God damn it. It was becoming Palinero all over again.
I nodded slowly, knowing I couldn't kid myself. "I'll look into this, Mr. Barker," I said, looking back at him. "If we can get her out, we'll bring her back here."
He gestured under the bed. "I have a gun in the bag down there," he said. He was obviously not able to bend down and retrieve it himself. "If it looks like you can't get Benicia out without attracting a lot of attention, at least give her the gun for protection."
I found a canvas messenger bag under the bed, right where Mr. Barker said it would be. Among the odds and ends inside, I found the pistol he was referring to.
No data exists for this pistol. It appears to be completely fictional, having no basis upon any pistol design in the real world. It doesn't even have a name, nor shall it be named. Oh you wacky 7.62mm game developers, what fevered idea will you come up with next?
"You're a good man," he said, his eyes full of gratitude. "You're a good man." It went quiet then, and Mr. Barker laid back down to rest. I took that as my cue to leave.
Whoops! Another missing map screenshot. For shame, Squint! Anyway, we'll be moving from Campesino up to Santa Maria now.
Day 23, 2212
I finally convinced the fence outside of the bar to talk. He said only that the former mayor had taken over several rooms at the Lion Hotel and that he had his loyal flunkies guarding those rooms. When asked about Benicia Alvares, he claimed to know nothing.
It clicked with me then. I had talked with this man before*, after I killed Raul Mangosta for the Interior Minister! The bastard had asked for aid from the government while sitting on a stockpile of undistributed foreign aid. No wonder he still had a bodyguard detail and had been so afraid that the government would come after him.
*See Session 005.
The Lion Hotel was right where I'd left it, as was the surly guard presence. It looked like the hotel itself wasn't off limits, so it made sense that the guards were there to keep someone in as opposed to others out.
A quick case revealed an unguarded main entrance and a back door with three guards hanging around. I figured if the hallways were clear, I could probably sneak Benicia Alvares out the front door without anybody objecting. The plan was a simple one.
"iamsmike and ZeeToo will hang around the back door where the guards are stationed. If shit hits the fan, they'll hamstring the reinforcements before they can get inside. Pip, you're with me. I'll check the rooms while you keep watch on the hallway. Once I've located Ms. Alvares, Pip and I will escort her out the front door. While Ms. Alvares and I put distance between us and the hotel, Pip will go around back and signal to iamsmike and ZeeToo that we're clear of the building, and we'll walk out of town, no problems."
With the plan in place, Pip and I walked in the front door. There was a tubby bearded man leaning against the wall in the hallway, but there weren't any balaclava-wearing thugs to be seen. I let out a sigh of relief. We walked down the hall to the four doors on that floor. It was coming back to me; I remembered which room "Mayor" Alvares had been staying in. Starting with the nearest door, I knocked gently and then poked my head in.
The woman inside whirled around to look at me with large, frightened eyes. I held a finger to my lips and slipped inside.
"What do you want?" she whispered hoarsely.
"Benicia Alvares?" I asked. She nodded slowly, cringing.
"Clive Barker sends his regards," I said, holding his pistol out to her, handle first.
She hesitated, took it, and looked at it in disbelief. "He... he is alive?" she asked.
"For now," I said. "He wants to make sure you're able to take care of yourself first, so he had me deliver that."
"Sir, you must get me out of here!" she said. "All I could use this gun for is killing myself now. My father has gone mad with paranoia, he thinks I will tell the government about him for sure! I just want to be free-"
"We'll talk about this later," I said. "If you want to go, then we go now."
She looked frightened. "The men outside. We'll be caught for sure!"
"Not if we stay quiet and stay quick. Just keep behind me." I held a finger to my lips again and stepped back out into the hallway.
As soon as Benicia's yellow dress flashed into view down the hall, the bearded man stiffened and shouted out. "Alcalda! Alcalda! The daughter is escaping! Kill these men!" He fumbled with a pistol hidden in his vest while Pip leveled his shotgun at the man, looking over his shoulder at me.
"Looks like we're gonna have trouble, sonny."
I swore under my breath and covered the doors on the other side of the hall with my MAC-10.
Outside I heard the muffled burp of another MAC-10 as iamsmike kneecapped the two guards who had turned away from him to run into the hotel.
It was joined by the heavy snaps of ZeeToo's M14 making short work of the third guard.
Pip beat the undercover guard to the draw, blowing a hole in his torso with his Benelli.
"Get her out of here!" I shouted to Pip, the noise of the shotgun blast in the enclosed space still ringing in my ears.
"Come on, dear, we've got to go!" said the old man with surprising tenderness, leading Benicia out from the doorway behind me and leading her out the front door.
All was quiet outside, so I shouted down the hallway "ZeeToo, get in here!" I pressed my ear to the door and heard an older man speaking in Spanish. He sounded angry and panicked-I guessed he was giving orders to whoever was in the room with him.
ZeeToo burst into the hall via the back door and skidded to a stop next to me. "What's up, boss?"
I backed up and nodded at the door in front of me, my machine pistol still hovering at its center-mass. Lowering my voice, I said "Alvares is in there, I know it. We're ending this son of a bitch tonight. Go into the room next door and unload into the wall. Once you've stopped firing, I'll enter and mop up."
ZeeToo grinned and clapped my shoulder. "You got it."
He shuffled past me and entered the next room carefully, making sure it was clear before getting a good firing position.
ZeeToo magdumped into the adjacent room, his rifle rounds punching easily through the sheetrock and drywall.
We couldn't see these people before, but the game saw fit to make their corpses visible after ZeeToo perforated them through the wall. I dunno.
As soon as he went dry, I turned the knob to the door.
Everything went white, then red. I vaguely felt my legs give out, then the pressure of the floor against my cheek.
I could hear distant pops through the static in my mind. ZeeToo had fired more shots into the wall after hearing me take some hits. I heard him call "Medic!" though he sounded like he was a thousand miles away.
An eternity passed, then Pip's voice met my ears. "Don't worry, sonny, I've seen worse. You're one lucky bastard, though, I'll tell ya that."
Pip's high Medicine skill enables him to heal Beacon crazy fast. He was able to bring Beacon to his (reduced) maximum health in a matter of seconds.
Slowly, the haze began to lift.
"He gonna be all right?" I heard ZeeToo ask behind me.
"He's got a bullet in the leg that'll have to get taken out at a hospital," said Pip. "Can't do it here with these piddly Boy Scout first-aid kits."
The first sight that greeted my eyes was the roomful of dead men I had tried to walk into. ZeeToo had gotten them all, just not on the first salvo. One of the men had graying hair and was wearing a brown suit. It was the disgraced former mayor of Santa Maria, Benicia's father.
"Is Benicia safe?" I asked, my voice cracking hoarse. It felt as though I hadn't spoken in weeks.
"She's safe, she's waiting outside," said Pip.
"Good, good," I whispered. After a moment's thought, I asked "Where's iamsmike?"
As it turned out, after he'd killed the guards outside, he went around to the front door, went upstairs, and had finished off two more guards who had tried hiding in a room up there when they heard the shooting.
"We should get out of here," I said as ZeeToo helped me up and gave me a shoulder. "Better the soldiers find these guys without anybody around to question."
"I heard that," said ZeeToo.
Nothing much exciting on Alvares's bodyguards. The only new piece is a US-made M3A1 submachine gun, dubbed the "Grease Gun" during World War II. It has a low, easily-controlled rate of fire and makes use of the common .45ACP round. Its skeleton buttstock is extendable, but it doesn't really do anything our current MAC-10s don't already do.
Day 23, 2308
Without the GAZ, my bad leg made the trip back to Campesino agonizingly slow. However, we were already headed for a hospital, so we could knock out two birds with one stone.
After I'd had the bullet removed and the wound sealed, Benicia Alvares and Clive Barker were reunited. I can't count the number of times they thanked us. We wished them well and went on our way.
Once we'd stepped out of the hospital and onto the street, ZeeToo tried making small talk.
"So, boss, how much did they pay us?"