Part 19: Session 017: Demotion
Session 017: Demotion
Day 29, 1755
Olvidad didn't have much going on, so I decided to make the rounds, starting with Santa Maria. iamsmike and ZeeToo kept a rather unnerving conversation along the way, comparing notes on their respective shooting sprees.
Day 29, 2030
Being a consistent supplier had led to me getting in good with Algeyra's arms dealers, so the fence outside the bar let me know about the mayor needing some sort of witness. I knew Santa Maria's mayor hung out at the bar, so that's where I headed.
Once inside, I was stopped by a young woman before I could reach the mayor.
"'Ey, hardass! Beacon, right? People been talkin' about you, say you're the eye of shitstorm."
I turned to get a look at her. I'd already met lots of different people since coming to Algeyra, and even with an aged widower doctor and former cubicle jockey on my team, she was the most out-of-place person I'd met yet. Her platinum-blonde hair was drawn back tight from her forehead, and you could have made a chainmail suit from all the metal hoops and studs stuck through her eyebrows, nose and lips. She was dressed in camo, but it still looked like she'd gotten lost on the way to a rave.
"I'm Beacon, yeah," I said, trying to keep from staring at the myriad of bracelets and rings she was wearing. Some were plastic and colorful, some were made of tin and tarnished brass. A rhinoceros with the shits would have had a better chance of staying hidden than she did.
"You killin'?" she asked. "Causin' mayhem, wanton destruction of life, limb, and property?"
"Yes, except for the wanton part," I said with a small smile.
She shrugged. "Eh, I can fix that, I figger. I want in, chief."
"I guess I can fit one more onto the team," I said. "What do you go by?"
"Linda..." she paused as she thought up a fake last name. "...von Kaan. Yeah."
I snorted. "How about just LvK? Car's outside, go say hi to the others. You'll know them when you see 'em."
LvK's starting gun is a lovely Browning Hi-Power with wood grips. John M. Browning's 9mm pistol design has been in use since World War II, though much of the work that gave birth to it came from Fabrique Nationale in Belgium. This model has adjustable sights, tall front sight blade, external extractor, and spur hammer, which means it's probably a more recent commercial version. Calabash pipe, smoking jacket, and snifter of brandy not included.
LvK also has an M84 stun grenade. When detonated within a certain range of any merc or NPC's field of view, it results in temporary loss of vision and hearing due to a flash of light measuring in the millions of Candelas (which is as bright as it sounds) and blast noise of about 160-170 deciBels (louder than a jet engine from 100 feet away; hearing tissue dies at around 180 dB). While not rated a lethal weapon, having one of these suckers go off close enough to you can result in permanent hearing loss and bleeding from the ears. Best to throw it around corners or into doorways.
LvK's bread-and-butter skills are Gunfighting and Melee, so we'll buy her a Micro Uzi and give her the Fairbairn-Sykes knife. She was a good find, as we've been without a Melee-savvy merc since iastudent left.
LvK left the bar to go mingle with the team, who was soaking up the cool evening breeze outside. As expected, the mayor was conducting his administrative duties with cabinet members Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels. I still thought more of him than the last mayor of this town, though.
"Mayor Toro, you remember me?" I got the impression he didn't remember much.
"Yes yes, you are always the coming and going," he said, surprisingly sober.
"I was in the area and thought I'd check in with you, see what needed doing."
He nodded, as though we'd had an appointment. "Yes yes-"
He pulled an accordion briefcase out from beneath the stool he was sitting on (crack security measures in Algeyra's municipalities) and handed it to me. I took hold of the handle and tried to pull it away, but he held onto it a moment longer.
"I can trust no other man with this. Ten percent goes to you, the rest to Mayor Sevalos. This is important for Santa Maria's rebuilding efforts."
"Understood," I said. I wasn't going to take the money and run, but I also wasn't taking bribery between small-time politicians nearly as seriously as they themselves were.
The quest item is a simple leather briefcase, seen in every spy movie ever. It may as well have a handcuff attached and "TOP SECRET" stenciled on the side in bright red spraypaint.
Day 29, 2044
"Good news, folks," I said as we drove through Sagrada, "you all get to take part in the diplomatic process."
LvK made a big production of hawking and spitting in the back of the GAZ. "Diplowhatsit process? Kinda bullshit shooters am I holed up with here?"
"Perhaps we will get lucky and talks will go bad," offered Deadmeat.
"Yeah, they better," grumbled LvK.
"The pen is mightier than the sword," said iamsmike, "especially when it comes to politics. A guy can shoot you and leave you there, but if he signs your life away to pork spending or forecloses your house, which leaves you worse off? I did those people a favor that day."
The conversation pretty much died there.
Day 29, 2339
We caught Las Vacaciones's mayor as he was leaving city hall for the night. Political bodies had more leaks in them than a cheesecloth raincoat, so I had my team set up a perimeter while we spoke on the chance somebody tried to interrupt and steal the bribe money.
"Mr. Sevalos, I have some papers here from Mayor Toro of Santa Maria. He would like you to review and sign them."
He looked at me for a moment, then huffed. "I have been working all day. Come back tomorrow and make an appointment."
"I think you would approve of the contents of this briefcase," I said, holding it out to him. "Trust me, it's worth your time now."
Even he could take a hint. He snatched the case from me, opened the flap, and peered inside. Without another word, he gestured at me to turn around, still looking inside the case. He pulled out a pen, I turned, and he signed the documents on my backpack, right then and there.
When he was done, I turned back around and said "Have a good evening" as he thrust the signed papers back into my hands.
"You too, señor!" he replied, already shuffling off with his briefcase of money.
With papers in hand, we drove back to Santa Maria...
...and dropped them off with Mayor Toro, who thanked gave us our ten percent. It was my hope that word would get around about this job; once people hear you can be trusted to handle money that isn't yours, a whole new world of possibilities open up.
Day 30, 0244
With only the vague goal of ending up at the rebel camp, we drove south, stopping in Campesino to see what the toy merchant had gotten in since we'd delivered Benicia Alvares.
The arms dealer had a new flavor of Benelli in stock, the M4 Super 90. Essentially, it's the M4 Pip is already using, but with a collapsible stock. Accuracy suffers a little bit for this, and Pip is already not so hot of a shooter, so we'll leave it unpurchased.
He also had a Kochergina Model 17 fighting knife, developed at St. Petersburg's Center of Applied Research specifically to complement the Russian Systema way of knife fighting. As far as I can tell, fighting knives in 7.62mm differ only in looks and not in stats, so which knife to use boils down to whichever one the merc prefers. We'll buy this and tote it around in case we get another Melee-focused merc soon.
The merchant had another pack of camo paint, so we'll buy it and apply both packs to our two least-Camouflaged mercs, Pip and LvK. It can only help. You'll notice their portraits now have a camo overlay on them.
Campesino was dead, so we continued out into rebel territory and down to Ciudad de Oro.
It was dead there too, mostly. The miners were working and the bar was empty save for one merc. I wasn't in the market for another team member, but I decided to introduce myself and get a name so I could keep him in min-
Well. Never mind, then. He went on to suggest that my "cracker ass get to bouncing" lest he was forced to "step."
I was just passing through, so I decided not to press the issue. If he didn't want to earn money through the capping of assorted fools, that was his prerogative.
Uh-oh, Zorlance doesn't want to work with us! When you choose your character at the start of the game, certain mercs become flagged as unwilling to work with you, for various reasons. Zorlance apparently won't work with Beacon because he's white. Hey, don't ask us, we're just playing the game. Sorry, Zorlance.
Day 30, 0910
Ciudad de Oro proving to be a disappointment, we soldiered on to the rebel camp. Surely Tanya would have something for us.
"Now these seem like my kinda people," said LvK as we stepped off the path and into the jungle where the camp was located.
"You're right, running water and electricity are overrated," chuckled ZeeToo.
"You won't be laughing when the apocalypse comes," said LvK. "The world will be a wasteland, overrun with bandits and looters in tanks and half-kangaroo people, and only folk like these will survive and live without fear."
"You haven't taken mucha this country in yet, have you, girly?" asked Pip. "We're already up to our armpits in bandits and looters."
"The half-kangaroo people, not so much," murmured Deadmeat.
Tanya and some of her people were leaning over a map table as we approached. She saw me and dismissed everyone with a wave, walking back over to the shade of one of the huts. I followed her there.
"You've come to struggle?" she asked. "Work" would have been the word I'd chosen, but leftist-speak does have its own sort of charm about it.
I knew the man. Pedro Nuñez was one of the fellows I interviewed regarding Jesus Amorales*. My suspicions had been right about Ciudad de Oro being sympathetic to the rebels, but I hadn't known just how right. Still, I find it amusing that revolutionaries get tied up in the same heavy-handed "personnel management" that governments do. The first rule of keeping power is surrounding yourself with people who think and want what you do, and making sure it stays that way.
*see Session 007
"If Mr. Nuñez needs to be demoted, then so be it," I said.
"Remember," said Tanya. "Silently and secured. The men will not take to their leader being violently and publically overthrown, so apply care."
"Don't worry," I said. "I can be delicate when I want to."
Day 30, 1230
"Our mission has three steps. First, we have to ask around and see who in the mines is just below Nuñez on the pecking order. Next, we have to talk to that person and make sure they're ready to step up. Then we sort the matter out with Nuñez himself. Any questions?"
The back of the GAZ was silent for a moment. Then Deadmeat piped up. "What do you mean by 'sort the matter out'? Kill him?"
"It means whatever it needs to mean," I said as we pulled into town. "We need to see how things go first."
"There's the mine," I said after we dismounted. "Best behavior for the time being."
The miners were mostly of obvious Aztec descent, and most were tight-lipped about the internal goings-on of the mine's hierarchy. A couple got nervous even talking about it, which told me that I was on the right track. Finally, I found one guy willing to spill.
Victor de Castigo. Had I spoken with him before? I couldn't remember. He sounded like my man, though. I went to speak to him while my team pulled security for his warehouse. LvK went in with me as insurance.
When we don't know if a conversation is going to end in combat or not, it's a good idea to have someone with high Melee or Gunfighting there with us. LvK has both, making her the easy choice here.
"Mr. de Castigo, I'll be blunt," I said. "Tanya Tormens has sent me to demote Pedro Nuñez as leader of the rebel forces in Ciudad de Oro and set up someone else as his replacement. She feels he no longer has the interests of the revolution at heart. Talking with the men outside, it seems that you would be next in line to report to her.
It seemed that de Castigo had given how to unseat Nuñez some thought already. "So you're up for the job, huh? All right. As for Nuñez, I'll see what I can do."
I found Pedro Nuñez right where de Castigo said I would. The team made a loose perimeter while I approached him.
The mine foreman turned to look at me. I could see a suppressed USP in his right hand.
Decision time! We can:
1. Bluntly ask Pedro Nuñez why he's no longer toeing the line with Tanya.
2. Tell him that Victor de Castigo wants to take his place, and that he thinks if Nuñez were to disappear quietly, nobody would miss him.
3. Try to talk him into giving Beacon his silenced pistol.
Reread the conversation screenshots! Open combat will result in us having to kill everybody just to stay alive, including Victor de Castigo, which will probably result in a mission failure from Tanya. Think it over!