Part 18: Session 016: Expulsion
Session 016: Expulsion
Day 29, 1240
"Your record is getting spotty, Mr. Beacon," said the Interior Minister with a sour look. "I don't know how things are done where you come from, but in Algeyra professionals are paid only when they are... professional."
"I didn't come here to ask you to pay me for a job I didn't do," I replied. "I just thought you'd like to know that Terteira was too careful, and he's still out there."
He sucked on a tooth for a moment, then looked down at his blotter. "I wish I had a larger pool of contractors from which to draw, but luckily for you that is not the case. Are you ready to try your hand at something else? Something that requires more of the... level of finesse you exhibit?"
I was getting tired of the slights, but I needed the money, and more importantly, I needed more of the government's information on Fakirov. I folded my arms, and Caderas smiled.
"More than enough time," I said.
"Let us hope so," replied Caderas, waving me from the office.
Failing the government's Terteira mission has pushed Artrigo's opinion of us to -10. If it goes much lower, we risk becoming shoot-on-sight to police and guards in that town.
"A drug raid?" asked Pip as we drove along to Sagrada. "Well, that's doing good for the country, isn't it?"
ZeeToo turned around from the front passenger seat, throwing an arm over the headrest. "I'd agree, but the guy who has us doing this is the same guy who had us deliver shit to a coke baron out in the mountains. They only want these guys dead 'cause they're not getting a cut of the money."
"They're probably too small-time to afford to pay off the government," I said. "Algeyra's trying to rebuild, so it's better to kill off the pushers who can't or won't toe the line."
"Well, that's a cheerful outlook," murmured iamsmike.
Day 29, 1405
Once in Sagrada, I figured if anybody had information on a drug problem in town, it would be the publisher of the national newspaper. Mr. Muaro tried to be helpful, but admitted that he didn't have connections that good. Canvassing the university directly would be risky, especially if we hit up the wrong student for information and tipped our hand.
It was time for Plan B: find the scuzziest, most wrecked-looking derelict in town and ask him.
"ZeeToo, give your guns to iamsmike. I'm gonna need your help for this one."
Day 29, 1412
"Psst, hey, buddy."
I cocked my head at the man, gesturing him over. I had almost been able to smell him before I saw him, and his clothes looked older than the Russian Federation.
He stumbled over, his eyes wide as saucers. "Y-yeah?"
I lowered my voice to a whisper.
"My buddy back there..." I jerked a thumb over my shoulder at ZeeToo, who was playing his tweaker role to the hilt, scratching his arms and rocking back and forth. "...he needs a hug. E25. Know where we could score some?"
The man's eyelids began to twitch, then he shook his head unevenly. "Paulo. G-go talk to Paulo. H-hangs out at the university. Out back."
I didn't waste any time. I left him there and gathered my team, walking over to the campus a few blocks away.
"This will be easy. I talk to the pusher, the rest of you pull security."
iamsmike handed ZeeToo his M14 and Uzi back. "But that'll spook him," he said.
"Normally I'd agree with you, but I'm going to be posing as a bigshot buyer, and if I have my own men with guns following me around, it'll be more convincing."
"Bigshot buyer?" asked Pip. "Why?"
"We want the big fish," I said. "and big fish don't do their own pushing. We intimidate the guy with my buying power, and he takes us to his boss, lather, rinse, repeat. If the shit is getting made here in town there can't be too many tiers to the organization."
We rounded the science department and found a man loitering in the shade of the building for no apparent reason. Definitely an amateur pusher. My guys put on their best Secret Service airs as I strode up to the man. Thankfully, however, nobody put a finger to an imaginary earpiece.
"E25," I said with confidence. "I want your stock."
He was taken aback by my directness, but putting the guy on his heels was part of the plan. "You are not a cop, are you, señor?"
I tilted my head at him and gave him a disgusted look. "I look like a cop to you? Do they?" The pusher looked past me to the other mercenaries and nodded slowly.
"All right, all right, señor, you want to make a purchase? How much?"
I flashed my roll of bills at him. "More than you have on you," I said. "I deal in... bulk transactions."
The man looked uncomfortable-it was evident he was only used to servicing students.
"I'll uh... I will introduce you to somebody."
He turned to go inside, and I followed, making eye contact with Pip on my way in. Pip fell into step behind me, and the three of us entered.
The pusher brought us to the faculty room, gesturing to a familiar young man in a sport coat. Still nervous, he exited without a word, passing Pip in the hallway.
"So," I began.
"We've talked before, my friend," I said with a faked smile. "If I had known earlier, I could have done business with you by now. Pip, would you come in here, please?"
The old man stepped in, and it looked like he knew what was coming.
"All yours, doc," I said.
The grad student blinked and took a step back. "Wait a minute, here, we can-"
"Medicine needs makin' all over the world, and you get this," said Pip. "Kid coulda been working on something important, rather than doping up other people." The hollow plastic shotgun shell clattered along the floor. "It's a goddamn shame is what it is."
A shot rang out from outside, breaking the moment.
Later, ZeeToo said he saw the pusher pull a knife and start for iamsmike, who'd had his back to him...
...so he put him down.
He then went around to the front of the building to cover the exit.
"Jesus Christ, the whole science department must be in on it!" shouted iamsmike from the hallway as he popped a student who burst out of a classroom with a sawn-off rifle. Pip dropped low and went to assist iamsmike in securing the hallway.
Finding the front quiet, ZeeToo then advanced along the wall, towards the front door.
The university science building is pretty buggy... NPCs clip through walls and doors all over the place. Notice that neither student had to actually open the door before stepping out into the hallway.
Another gun-wielding student entered the hall, only to find the barrels of a Benelli and Uzi waiting for him.
ZeeToo stopped before reaching the front door, seeing some movement in the classroom through the dirty glass of the windows.
Later he told me his old school-shooting instincts took over, and he just had to make sure. I had forgotten that this wasn't the first educational institution he'd shot up.
The noise of breaking glass and rifle fire was incredible, even down the hall.
A third student was scared from the classroom, ducking ZeeToo's rounds. Unfortunately for him, the Benelli-Uzi Welcoming Committee hadn't yet packed up. iamsmike put a burst into his side as he sprinted across the hall, and he flopped to his stomach, dead, around the corner.
"Where are these kids getting their shirts from, the George Lucas Factory Outlet?" asked iamsmike. I guess it was a rhetorical question.
He moved up to the classroom where the three armed students had come from, kicking one of them to make sure he was dead.
"Yeah, this one's clear," he said.
Pip moved up and opened the door to the study room. "This one too," he said.
"All right, guys, let's pack it up," I said. "Get their stuff loaded into the GAZ and let's get out of here."
So what's the haul? The knife the dealer had on him is a classic. It's a Fairbairn-Sykes dagger, and the first dedicated fighting knife we've come across. When it comes to carving up Jerry in the name of King and Country, there's no other, but it'll be useful for us as well. We don't have any melee-focused team members at the moment, however, so we'll just hang onto it until we do.
Oh hey, it comes in blued, isn't that just snazzy. I'd still take the Gyrojet over whatever this monstrosity is.
Welp, box of .44 Magnum rounds, you better hope there's a Colt Anaconda or a Taurus Raging Bull or a S&W Model 29 somewhere in Algeyra, 'cause it's the only way you're gonna get fired in this LP.
While walking back to the GAZ I heard a familiar voice call out.
"Beacon! Beacon! How the fuck ya been, man?"
I turned to see Torpedo standing by the steps to city hall, where I'd first met him.
"I heard shootin' over at the college, I figured it was you," he said with a grin. "So you still takin' care of business or what?"
I chuckled. "Yeah, doing all right, I guess."
"Fuck, man, you shoulda gotten me in on that, you know how much ass I kick!" He pumped his fist.
"Heh, sorry, we're running a little lean right now, you know?"
"Yeah man, I know how it is," he said. "Just don't let me collect too much dust over here, okay? You know where to find me, man! You take care now!"
I nodded and waved goodbye while Pip walked past me with an armful of ammo and webbing, headed for the GAZ.
Day 29, 1421
"So who was that, back there?" asked Pip. "Had quite a mouth on him."
"He goes by Torpedo," I said. "He was helping me out earlier on. He's good people."
"He looks like that guy that was in Twister," said iamsmike.
ZeeToo nodded. "Only with a mohawk."
Day 29, 1518
"It was the science department of the university," I explained to Minister Caderas. "Some graduate student using school resources to manufacture the stuff. I took care of him, though you'll probably need some damage control for the public."
He nodded behind steepled fingers and dropped a stack of bills on my side of the desk. "I will worry about that," he said. "I haven't forgotten about the man you seek. Continue to build your trust with Defensa and I will open more of our files to you."
"Appreciated," I said, taking the money and stepping out.
Day 29, 1551
"Caderas can count his own beans for awhile," I said as we passed through the border into the forbidden zone. "Let's go do some good old-fashioned legwork, see what use we can be."
"Sounds like a plan, sonny," said Pip.
Olvidad yielded a surprise. Deadmeat had found her way back!
"Hey you," I said to her while the guys went about draining the bar, "what happened after we got separated?"
"Hitchhiking, mostly," she said, shaking her head. "This whole country is in the shitter, did you know that?" She smiled, and I laughed.
"Yeah, I was starting to suspect that myself. What can you do, right?"
"Still after what's-his-name?" she asked. I nodded.
"You're a good merc, and I feel bad that you got cut off," I said. "You want back in, I got room. I can put a gun in your hands and some cash in your pocket once more."
"Sounds good to me!" she said.
Deadmeat got short shrift from the first save corruption, so we'll welcome her back to the team and give her some more trigger time!
Deadmeat joined the rest of the team at the bar, and while introductions went around, I visited the trader upstairs to offload the extra junk from the university raid.
The trader also had a ceramic insert for body armor. It provides Class III protection, but unfortunately our flak jackets don't accept inserts.