Part 4: Session 003: Sagrada
Before we get into this session, let's get caught up on some of the gear our team is now carrying after the Las Vacaciones shop and the ambush.
Purchased during Session 001, in the Las Vacaciones bar. Insulation tape has 1,001 uses! In this game, however, its main use is taping two rifle or submachine gun magazines together to make reloads faster. One roll of tape can attach ten pairs of magazines.
Looted from the bandits. The M67 fragmentation grenade is the model currently in use by the US military. It is compact, light, and powerful, though older, bulkier grenades like the F1 have a larger kill radius. Bigger isn't always better, however, because characters with a lower Throwing skill might still be able to safely throw the M67.
Purchased during Session 001, in the Las Vacaciones bar. Staying hydrated is extremely important! A character who drinks from a canteen will have some of his energy restored, up to whatever the current maximum is. A canteen has two uses in it before it becomes empty. I don't know if it's possible to refill a canteen, but new ones are cheap enough.
Purchased during Session 001, in the Las Vacaciones bar. It's your basic gun cleaning kit: wipes, collapsible barrel rod, bore brush, CLP, and a stiff-bristled toothbrush. Dragging this kit onto a weapon reduces that weapon's Dirty rating back to 0%. Cleaning a weapon takes time, however, so doing it in combat is of course not an option. The dirtier a weapon is, the longer it takes to clean it fully.
Purchased during Session 001, in the Las Vacaciones bar. This knife is balanced for throwing, but in a pinch can also be used for melee fighting.
Looted from the bandits. Good old morphine! We've never actually used any before, but the game description says that morphine helps cure the effects of shock and also lowers the recipient's adrenaline level. It also says it can cause dependency if used too often, so naturally we'll have to get someone addicted to morphine, supplies permitting.
Looted from the bandits. This bayonet will fit onto a Kalashnikov-type rifle. In the meantime, it can serve as a pretty functional fighting knife for someone with a high Melee skill.
Session 003: Sagrada
Day 2, 0525
The quickest way to Campesino's bar was through a side alley connecting the bar and hospital's respective streets. Alcohol-serving establishments were open 24 hours a day in Algeyra, since a tumbler of vodka acted as both an orally-administered painkiller and a handy disinfectant for knife cuts and bullet wounds-and all for a fraction of the price of a doctor's visit.
Fewer forms to fill out, too.
It's five in the goddamn morning! Why aren't our heroes getting some shut-eye? Well, there is a game setting that, when turned on, requires everybody in the group to sleep for a certain number of hours per day, or else their maximum energy level will start to drop at a steady rate. The days in this game go by quickly with all the traveling, so for this LP and the purposes of keeping the story moving along without a lot of "then we stopped to rest AGAIN," that setting is off.
Notice that you can see through windows as long as there is a walkable space on the other side of it. Windows can be fired through, so we'll have to keep that in mind if we're ever around any while in combat.
There was an arms dealer and a couple of drunken men hanging out out back of the bar, taking in the heady bouquet of urine and garbage that punctuated the humid early-morning air. The dealer looked genuinely friendly (which was sort of unnerving, given the environment), and the two drunkards were in the uniform of the Algeyran Territorial Army, probably off-duty from their post west of the city and looking to get in some quick R&R before returning to the important task of watching the border of the "protected zone." Apparently there was a distinction to be made between the armed assholes on that side of the line and the armed assholes on this side of the line.
R&R: Rest & Relaxation. Time given to a soldier to recharge his batteries, dip his wick, and sample the delights of the host nation's shitty locally-made grain alcohol.
Pitch and I went around front and walked in (though Pitch shuffled more than walked-I suppose he was still dragging a bit). It was rather early for mercs to be loitering in the city's places of commerce, so I wasn't surprised to find only the barkeep and a dozing waiter inside. The barkeep, however, seemed surprised to see us, but in the time it took us to cross the room he straightened up and got back into professional mode.
"Ah, hello! What is the poison, muchachos?" The bartender teetered on the slang like a kid fresh off his training wheels; I guess the recent overwhelming international presence had necessitated a bit of a crash course in English for more than a few locals.
Pitch leaned on the bar and studied the shelves of bottles behind the bar with eerie intensity. While he made his selection I spoke with the bartender.
"Any mercenaries been through here lately?" The bartender gave me a blank look, so I jerked a thumb at Pitch, then at myself. "Guys like us?"
The bartender shrugged. "Many men come here, they wear, uh, the... the verde like you, many with guns, they stay uh, stay the... dos, quizá tres horas. If you stay, you will see them, ciertamente."
I nodded, deciding easily that I wouldn't be staying. Time was money, and Pitch was on the clock. I looked over to see him mouthing silently to himself, still fixated on the bottles. Weird. I put a hand on his shoulder and startled him almost as badly as I had back in Las Vacaciones.
He looked at me with wide eyes, as though he'd just seen a motorcycle accident. "They don't have my brands here," he said quietly.
"Come on, we're leaving."
As we left we spotted another "salesman" plying his trade from a beat-to-hell five-ton parked across an entire row of parking spaces. My rucksack did need some lightening up so I decided to see what I could get for the stuff Pitch and I had collected off of the bandits on the road out of Las Vacaciones.
Bandit loot: $7200. The big earners were the two Obrez Mosins and the Beretta. The 870 hunting shotgun would have fetched another $1000, but we'll hold onto it for now as it's our only long gun.
The public hadn't yet awoken, so it was still a bit early to ask around about Fakirov. Dreading another ruck march back to Las Vacaciones to see if any new subcontractors had landed ashore overnight, I stalled and dragged Pitch along on a canvassing of the town. We found something very interesting in one of the unlocked cars along a dark street.
It was an F1 and a rudimentary tripwire. Unlike the cop car back in Las Vacaciones, I didn't feel guilty at all about taking these.
The F1 hand grenade is an old Soviet design, and has been used as far back World War II. It's got a pretty hefty kill radius, which makes it ideal for making booby traps. Conveniently enough...
...we also now have a tripwire! To make a booby trap, we drag an explosive item over the trigger item, which creates the new booby trap item. In this case, we can combine the F1 grenade (or one of our other M67 grenades if we wanted to) with the tripwire to form a makeshift anti-personnel mine. Since AP mines are awesome and it frees up inventory space besides, we'll go ahead and rig it up for future use. If we change our minds, the booby trap can be disassembled again. For best effect when we do want to use it, we should let the team member with the highest Engineering skill at the time set it.
I put them into my rucksack while Pitch nodded his approval. "I guess this kind of makes us heroes, huh?"
"What do you mean?" I asked, not looking up from re-tightening the straps.
"This was, like, probably going to be used in a terrorist attack or something. We just saved somebody's life."
"No, we didn't," I said, standing back up and shouldering my pack again, "we just changed the name on the grenade." It took Pitch a moment to catch on, but when he did, he got this manic grin on his face that made me sorry I had tried to say something cool.
We moved on, and before long entered the company of one Karina, whom I could tell must have been Campesino's village bicycle. She solicited us, of course, but I wasn't in a hurry to contract a case of crotch-rot while on the job. I was worried I might have to rein in Pitch, but he seemed indifferent. Kid probably had standards. Good for him.
The bar had been a bust, so against my better judgement I had us stop by the police station, considerably smaller and more run-down than Las Vacaciones's column-laden authoritarian presence. Pitch seemed a little nervous at the idea of nosing around in the fuzz, but he stayed with me.
The station was pretty quiet, and even the holding cells were empty. We tried talking to the supply sergeant but he was tight-lipped. I briefly considered a bribe, but then considered how many kinds of pockets these cops were probably already in, and thought better of it.
The quartermaster here is holding a weapon we've not yet seen! Perhaps if we find one of our own sometime, I'll tell you what it is.
We left without incident, and Pitch, perhaps rather bitter over the quartermaster's unhelpfulness, decided to move our caper in Las Vacaciones one step closer to a tradition. Without prompting, he snuck through the parking lot to a cruiser near the corner of the station. After only a couple of seconds, he returned to me, grinning that schizo grin.
Christmas in August! This is a Remington 870 configured for tactical use. It holds 7 rounds and the buttstock folds for faster snap shots. Unfolded, the buttstock provides more stable aimed shots. A keeper for sure.
"Nice find," I said, meaning it. "Gonna make sure it's not empty, right?"
Pitch looked around to ensure nobody was within earshot and pumped the Remington twice. "Guess it is," he said. "What's the deal, anyway? These damn cops can afford nice scatterguns but not the shells to put into them?"
"No idea, but don't worry, we'll feed her soon enough."
True to my word, Pitch and I went back to do business with the friendly former toyseller (no, really) behind the bar. I saw that he had a nice 590 for sale, so I traded the hunting 870 we had for it. Now both Pitch and I had something more substantial as well as ammo to put into it.
This is the Mossberg 590 Cruiser. Like the Remington 870 line, the Mossberg 590 series is a standard by which other shotguns are judged. Though its variants are much more restricted to duty use than the 870's, the Mossberg is a reliable, easy-to-use shotgun in service with militaries and police forces the world over, including the US military.
The Cruiser variant is compact, but that's because it doesn't have a buttstock, making down-the-barrel aiming awkward. Beacon's Gunfighting skill is higher than Pitch's so he'll be getting this weapon while Pitch will carry the tactical 870 unfolded. Squint apologizes for the screenshot above the Mossberg picture; the guns they're carrying were switched after all the screenshots were taken.
We'd tapped Campesino out for the time being, so it was time to check and see if anything had developed overnight back in Las Vacaciones.
Day 2, 2012
By the time we were back in town, Pitch's nervous energy had returned in its entirety and he was back to his old skittish self. I suggested he wait outside the bar while I went in to see if anybody new was haunting the place.
There wasn't, but the bartender beckoned me over to talk.
Okay, now imagine reading huge paragraphs with the same level of translation quality. Now stop and remember that you don't have to. You're welcome. Aside from that, we have our first mission! Let's get to it.
"They say in the city Sagrada has a quest for you... talk to the mayor, Marco Reyes. You asking Fakirov here, Fakirov there, might government help you find him."
His English was terrible but I got the gist of it. My return to Las Vacaciones had paid off. If the government was keeping track of as many foreigners as it could, perhaps they knew something about Fakirov. Getting in good with the mayor of the largest city in Algeyra would be a good start to getting some cooperation. I decided to leave immediately.
Day 3, 0740
We'd done more hiking than sightseeing in the past two days, but if Pitch wasn't up for it, he wasn't letting me know. The sun was rising as we walked into town, and the only man out on the street besides the unhelpful-by-law cops was an older gentleman fumbling with the keys to the front doors of a rather impressive office building. Pitch tapped my shoulder.
"Hey, there's a guy, and this building's pretty big. Ask him if he's the mayor!"
I couldn't divine the source of his sudden enthusiasm. Maybe he'd left his meds on the boat or something.
"Keep your shirt on, I'm asking!" I hissed back quietly over my shoulder.
"Pardon me, sir," I said as I approached him, trying to look as non-threatening as possible. "Might you direct me to the mayor's office?"
The man looked up from his keys and it dawned on me that I was assuming he spoke English.
"It is the next block down, turn left," he said with ease. He looked at me again and arched an eyebrow. "Another mercenario, eh? Lots of you getting underfoot these days. I should have my people do a story on you."
I didn't much care for the press-most mercs didn't. I fought the urge to take a step away from him. "You're a reporter?"
"Publisher," he corrected. "La Trompeta, Algeyra's only institution of journalism to survive the war. I am Camacho Muaro. He reached into his jacket pocket, and my neck-hairs did their dance. I hate it when people move like that.
He produced a business card and thrust it at me. "If you wish to have your story told."
I did not wish to have my story told, but I did wish to be polite, so I took the card and glanced at it before placing it in my pocket with every intention of balling it up and throwing it away once I was around the corner.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get the day's business underway."
I nodded to him and gestured for Pitch to follow me down the street, leaving Mr. Muaro to resume fumbling with his keys.
A sleek-suited well-groomed man was out stretching on the steps of what must have been city hall. Also on the steps was a man with a craggy face and a displeased expression. Every pocket on his vest was bulging-he was probably another "shop owner" operating in the area. Why he was hanging around city hall was a question I couldn't figure.
I stepped up to the man in the suit and asked him if the mayor was in. He grinned at me.
"No! The mayor, he is out."
I swallowed some bad language. While I tried to think of what to do next, the man chuckled.
"Out here, as a matter of fact. You are speaking to the mayor, señor, and I am out, as are you."
To him it was the funniest thing in the world. I just continued on, glad he was around.
"I heard in Las Vacaciones that you needed help with something. My associate and I are able-bodied and handy at persuasion and negotiation, if you understand me."
He nodded, looking at me as though he were sizing up a fish in a market. "Si, I understand you, but I do not know you, señor, not from Adam. So, I think I cannot trust you with this job."
He actually does refuse to let us pursue the mission in the game, probably because the story hasn't progressed far enough.
"Any way I could perhaps earn your trust?"
That seemed to warm him up to me a bit more. "You really want to help me, eh? You look like an outsider. First, you must become an insider, yes? Fine then, go talk to the Minister of the Interior. His name is Juan Caderas, he is in Artrigo. Big government-type building, can't miss it."
He waved me off rather rudely and continued to soak in the morning air. Based upon what I'd seen so far, the Algeyran work ethic was impressive indeed.
As we reached the foot of the steps a voice called out from one side of the entrance.
"Sup guys, what're a couple of certifiable badasses like yourselves up to?"
We both turned to see who was talking to us. He stepped forward with a confident swagger and an amused look on his face.
"I knew hanging out at a watering hole was for suckers. The only people you're gonna pick up there are drunks. The pros? They buzz around the local g-men, which means you guys must be the real deal."
The guy's voice sounded like it belonged more to a surfer than a mercenary. Still, it was apparent he wasn't in Algeyra for the waves.
"Can we help you?" I asked. Pitch was licking his lips, and it looked like it was taking all of his effort not to wrest the conversation away from me.
The man paused and looked over at Pitch. "Hah, look, dude's tweakin' or something! Be cool, man, ain't no reason we can't be on the same side!"
"So you're looking for work?" I asked.
His cocky grin widened. "Psh, fuck man, do fish fart in the ocean? Name's Torpedo. I'd tell you why, but uh..." he looked me up and down while sucking on a tooth. "...not bein' a lady and all, you probably wouldn't be interested in hearing it."
"Is it 'cause you explode after a predetermined amount of time?"
That actually wasn't half bad. I must admit, Pitch surprised me a little with that one. Torpedo looked over and walked up to him slowly, his face stony. He stopped with his nose inches from Pitch's and for a moment I thought I was going to lose one or both of my employees there, not to mention having a lot to explain to the cops.
Torpedo laughed and clapped Pitch on the back, breaking the tension in an instant. Pitch, however, looked like he could have vibrated through a chain-link fence.
"Hah, well well! Signs of life from the tweaker! Fuck, man, let's get this show on the road!"
Torpedo has a pretty nice early-game piece here. The AEK-919K is a relatively new Russian machine pistol, developed and manufactured entirely under the supervision of the new Russian Federation in the 90s. Part of its purpose was to breathe new life into the aging (and heavily surplused) 9x18mm Makarov round, which has mild recoil and so lends itself well to rapid fire. The 919K fires from the open bolt, similar to the Uzi family of submachine guns. This action gives it a blistering rate of fire: 900 rounds per minute. This 919K is outfitted with a suppressor as well, making it a fast-firing yet quiet bullet hose. Finding rounds will be easy, but finding spare magazines may or may not. We'll just have to wait and see.
Torpedo is also carrying an RGD-5 frag grenade. While not quite as long-lived as the F1 design, the RGD-5 has comparable performance and also makes use of the same fuse.
With a new employee in tow and a destination in mind, I set about searching Sagrada for more information and leads on Fakirov.