Part 25: Session 023: Connections
Session 023: Connections
Day 34, 0406
Before leaving Ciudad de Oro we stopped at the bar to hear what the word was regarding work. The bartender told us about the arms dealer in Santa Maria needing some small errand run, so I decided to go talk to him.
The bar also had some flechette rounds for sale. Flechettes are tiny metal darts which can be packed into a shotgun shell similar to shot. Flechettes, however, are stabilized by tiny fins and do not spread out as much as shot does. They provide increased armor penetration and slightly longer range over shot due to the tighter pattern, making them a good midrange choice between shot and slugs. We'll load one of LvK's Saiga magazines with these, just in case they're needed.
"I wonder what kind of snake there was in the basket," said Deadmeat as we drove up to Santa Maria.
"I am sure it was a coral snake," said raverrn. "They can be found all over Central and South America, are venomous enough to be deadly, yet at an average of three feet long and only an inch across are small enough to fit into, say, a basket."
Everybody looked at her for a moment in stunned silence. She shifted in her seat.
"We used milk snakes as stand-ins in the shoot of FAP 4: Panama Love Canal. Jungle flick. One of the girls in my unit gets bitten on the side of her boob by a 'coral snake' and then I suck out the poison, so I researched a bit beforehand."
A long, quiet, high-pitched whimper floated out from behind Jenova's sniper veil.
Day 34, 0920
While the team wet their whistles in the bar, I spoke with Alvar about the work he had. He informed me that the situation had already been taken care of. News traveled fast in Algeyra, but it didn't travel that fast.
I went over to the bar to fetch my team, and ZeeToo met me at the door. "Hey, boss, I met someone here I think you should talk to."
I followed ZeeToo inside and he showed me to an older fellow seated at a table near the window. He was wearing a shooting jacket and an ascot, swirling a glass of brandy in front of the sunlight.
"Nice to meet you," I said.
He set his glass on the table and stood up, thrusting out his hand.
"Nicholas Buntline the fourth, sole surviving member of the storied Buntline family."
I shook his hand. "Ah, yes, of... course. Call me Beacon."
ZeeToo jerked a thumb at the old man. "Nick here's gonna take my place. I need to chill for a while."
The old man bristled a bit at being called "Nick," but he nodded. "This young fellow informed me that you had taken up arms and may perhaps return some semblance of normality to the fine nation of Algeyra."
"Well, I don't know about all that," I said, shooting ZeeToo a look, "but the arms part is definitely right."
He nodded, pulling a monocle from his jacket pocket and placing it in his eye. "The war did me a bad turn. Lost my family and my home. And now, since Defensa has decided that that bloated old toad Josa is the only wealthy man he will deign to do business with, I have also lost my fortune."
"I might be able to restore a bit of it," I said. "Are you any good with firearms?"
He let out a harrumph and a laugh. "You, sir, shall find no better skeet and trapsman within these borders, I assure you! I am also well-versed in the hunting of wild boar and elk."
"Good enough for me," I said before turning to ZeeToo. "Heading out, then?"
He nodded. "Catch you around, man. Don't do anything I would do." He grinned and shuffled past us out of the bar.
"One last thing," said Nick after ZeeToo had left. "Please do not call me 'Nick.'"
Nick Buntline has good all-around skills, being decent in Shooting, Sniping, Camouflage, and Medicine. He'd be best operating with Deadmeat and raverrn in the midfield, pulling security for them.
Once everyone was outside, I briefed them on our next course of action.
"We're going to be exclusive to the rebels for a while," I said. "We profit off of conflict, and so we need to keep it going for as long as we can."
"Music to my fuckin' ears, cap'n," said LvK. "Fight the power and fuck authority, that's what I say."
Nick nodded in agreement. "Those bastards took everything from me. Until I restore my family's name, their misery will sustain me!"
"Shit yeah," said LvK. "Also, that monocle is punk as fuck, man, I dig it."
Nick cleared his throat and adjusted the monocle in question. "If... if you say so, young lady."
Wasting no time, we piled into the GAZ and drove back down to Ciudad de Oro to see if Victor de Castigo had anything for us.
"Reduced to riding in the back of an aging Soviet off-roader," said NickBuntline on the way. "Not a year ago I was eating beluga caviar in the back of a stretched Phantom."
"What did your family do that had you so wealthy, anyway?" Deadmeat asked him.
I heard him clear his throat. "Well, er... it's not so very important now, is it? It's all gone."
"I bet he was a producer, like Josa," said LvK.
"Most certainly not!" he said with a huff. "Really! The thought of the Buntline family sullying their name with the devil's powder... preposterous."
"Movies?" asked raverrn. "Because if you're that kind of producer, I know some girls who are looking to star in-"
"It was watermelons, all right?" he shouted. "Buntline watermelons shipped all over North and South America. They were the finest watermelons money could buy."
"I was hoping you were the guy who invented Hot Pockets," said Jenova. "Boy, do I like Hot Pockets."
Day 34, 1438
The midday heat gave way to the cool, stale air of the warehouse as I stepped inside. de Castigo beckoned me over.
"I need you to return to Las Vacasiones," he said.
I rested my M14 on my shoulder. "Oh? Why?"
Supplementary translation: "Go to Las Vacasiones and convince Mateo Matti to tell the government that Arturo Bona was the one who killed Eberto Lima with the snake. Bona will lose his succession as chief of police and we will pay you money for this. Do this in the next two days and 22 hours."
"Yeah, sure," I said. Shaking up museum curators felt more like muscle work for the mafia than actual revolutionary stuff, but whatever; it paid and it wasn't my cause.
"So does being a mercenary normally involve all this driving around?" asked Nick. "It's rather tiresome."
"We go to where the work is," I said. "Cell phones haven't really caught on here yet."
"It's not that they haven't caught on, it's that the cell towers were blown to hell by Defensa's sappers during the war," said Nick. "It's difficult to call your buyers and shipping companies without any communications infrastructure."
"No need to QQ, man," said Jenova. "We're just grinding our rep right now, but it'll pay off once we land that big raid with phat lootz awaiting us at the end!"
"I didn't understand any of what you just said, you awkward twig, and frankly I don't care to."
Day 34, 1852
"Are you sure, Deadmeat?"
She nodded. "I'll have to stop for now. Shavu'ot begins in less than an hour and I cannot labor for the next couple of days. I must get a room for prayer and reflection."
"All right, well, maybe I'll catch you around again."
She nodded. "Good luck till then, Beacon, everyone. L'hitraot." Las Vacasiones had the only hotels worth staying in in the country, so I suppose it made sense she parted company there.
"Well, while we're here we might as well hit the bar, yeah?" asked LvK.
I had to pee so I waited for the restroom to free up. When the door finally opened, out stepped a pouty-faced young man with highlights in his hair and a trendy pair of sunglasses perched on his nose.
"Might want to wait a minute, guy," he said. "The deuce I left in there could probably curl linoleum."
"Thanks for the warning," I said. I started to shoulder past him but he stopped me again.
"Hey, wait a minute, are you Beacon?" he asked.
"Yeah I am."
"There was a guy I met in this town a couple of days ago who was talking about you. Name was Pitch, ring a bell?"
I nodded. "I worked with him a few weeks ago. He doing all right?"
"Something messed his head up good," said the man. "A bullet passed through his cheek and split a couple of teeth! A centimeter lower and he'd have been missing the right side of his jaw."
"Yeah, that sounds like Pitch," I said. "How did you meet him?"
"I did some crown work for him," said the man. "Fixed him up good, though he'll have a scar on his cheek for the rest of his days, looks like. Can't do nothing about that, though; I'm a dentist, not a plastic surgeon."
"How are you in a fight?" I asked.
"Me? In a fight? Heh, the only way I separate people from their teeth is with pliers, not fists. I'm quick with the novocaine, though, so if someone gets hurt I can keep them lucid."
"That could be useful," I said. "My team's a person short if you could use some extra pay."
"All right, why the hell not," he said. "People in this country have bad teeth but none of them can pay to get it fixed. I'm called VolcanoStyle."
I arched an eyebrow.
He sighed. "I got it in med school. Don't ask."
Aside from his Glock 17, Volcano Style comes to the team carrying this 10x scope for an L96A1 sniper rifle. No, I don't know why. He's gone all-in on Camouflage and Medicine, meaning he's freed the rest of the team to focus on shooty and fighty stuff.
"Mr. Beacon, sir, the barkeep of this establishment wishes to have a word with you!"
I looked over from my conversation with VolcanoStyle to see Nick waving me to the bar. Still needing to pee, I walked up to him and said "What's up?"
He gestured to the bartender and made room for me to talk to him.
Whew, I'll give it my best shot. Supplementary translation: "Go talk to Willy Krauff over there in the corner."
I looked past the bartender at the man in question, then nodded my thanks and moved over to him.
"Mr. Krauff, so things have changed since we talked last?"
He nodded, speaking in his thick German accent. "Indeed. I'll make it short. I need an escort for a vehicle. Your reputation precedes you, so I would like it very much if you would help me out."
"It can be arranged," I said. "Sounds like fun. For the moment, however, my team and I have outstanding business in town that we need to see to."
Mr. Krauff nodded. "Of course. The driver of my vehicle is named Jorge Banto. He hangs around outside this bar. Just go talk to him when you're ready to help out and he'll leave with you.
"I'll do that."
Once outside, I told the team to sit tight while I visited Mateo.
"O-oh, it's you again," said Mateo, turning back to look out the window after seeing me enter.
"We need you to talk to some people in Artrigo," I said. "About the death of Eberto Lima."
He looked at me over his shoulder. "What?"
"They'll figure it was one of your snakes anyway. We encourage you to explain to them that the assistant chief coerced you into providing one for him."
"Arturo Bona?" His eyes widened.
"Oh, good, you know who he is. That saves us some time."
"Señor, please, I don't want to get invol-"
"We strongly encourage you." I felt bad strongarming a more or less innocent person, but I figured a true believer would have been much more harsh. "Understand me?"
He nodded quickly, sliding past me to the door. "I will go to Artrigo right away, señor."
"Good man," I said, not caring if he followed through or not. My job was done.
"Ah, ripping. More driving," deadpanned Nick.
"You came during a slow time, what can I say?"
"So, we uh, we we work for some seedy-type people?" asked VolcanoStyle.
"We are the seedy-type people," said LvK. "Especially that one."
"Yeah? Want to know how much I made for FAP 14?" I heard raverrn ask.
Back at the warehouse in Ciudad de Oro, I told de Castigo that I had sent Mateo on his way to Artrigo.
"That should cover our tracks nicely, as well as ensure that Lima does not get a worthy successor," he said. "Here is the money."
A boring session, I know, but next on the to-do list is Willy Krauff's escort mission, which is sure to provide the bang-bang rat-a-tat goodness we all want to see.