Part 8: Session 007: Ciudad de Oro
Session 007: Ciudad de Oro
Day 7, 1908
We reached Campesino at sunset. The team was restless for action, but I wanted to follow up on a job opportunity I'd heard about earlier in Artrigo.
I stopped in the bar to see who Khesus Ipolito was, and the bartender told me it was actually the mayor. More municipal work shaking down tax dodgers or making troublesome citizens "disappear," I supposed.
There was a mustachioed man in the bar as well. He was dressed in ODs and camouflage but he didn't seem comfortable in it-I figured he'd recently undergone a career change. I had nothing against green mercs; if anything, I could put them on the best foot forward and steer them around the bad habits some of the more seasoned operators had. Six was about as large of a group that should be traveling, though, if they wanted to be big enough to hold their own but not to draw attention from any of the truly big fish.
We don't have room for iamsmike, but he is now the first entry in our "first in, blood out" queue.
I went over and introduced myself, and asked if he was looking for work. He was, though his jargon was all wrong-he sounded more like a cubicle-hamster than a merc. Still, that could be fixed in time.
"If I need you, will I be able to find you here?"
"Can do," he said, "I'm ready to put my nose to the grindstone and leverage my skills as a force multiplier!"
"So, er, what should I call you?"
The man hadn't thought of that. "Oh! Well, ah, my name is Walt-Iam. Iam Smike." He smiled and put out his hand.
While shaking his hand, I said "A bit of advice, Walter. Using a fake name is good and all, but those of us in the business don't really try to pretend it's real."
"Ah, I see! That'll go in my lessons learned portfolio for sure." He chuckled nervously. "Just call me... iamsmike then."
I let out a breath. "All right... iamsmike it is. I'll be in touch."
I nodded to him, turned, and left. The guy didn't have an ounce of creativity in him. I wondered what his job had been back in the real world.
We found Khesus Ipolito but, like Mayor Reyes of Sagrada, he wasn't ready to give his important job to people off the streets. His loss, but I guess it's just as well. We had a few things on our plate already.
We left Campesino behind once more, and ventured south, back into the Wild West.
Day 8, 1417
We were still several miles from Ciudad de Oro when we heard the clapping of shots being fired somewhere nearby. We took up a hasty perimeter and waited for signs of movement for a moment before I initiated a tactical move south.
On point, Torpedo spotted a bandit coming up to meet us.
"Look alive, boys and girls!" he shouted with glee. "Time to earn our pay!"
As Torpedo moved to intercept the bandit, I took point and spotted another bandit coming up the road behind the first. I had elevation on him so I waved Pitch over to draw down on him as well while I took the extra time to line up a good burst from my Uzi.
Boy, was he going to be in for a surprise when he got all the way around that corner.
iastudent was relieved from rear security by Deadmeat and Scotch to assist Torpedo in dropping the first bandit that had run up on us.
Pitch and I got our man as well.
"Many goyim coming up from behind, need assistance!" I heard Deadmeat shout. She and Scotch were outranged with their shotguns.
"iastudent, ready grenades!" I shouted. "Torpedo, cover him while he throws!"
I saw iastudent grin, throwing his .357 down and pulling out one of the several grenades dangling from his vest. "I will send many to the walls of Asgard, may they be judged worthy of entering!"
The angle is bad on this screenshot, but that grenade is still in the air. Squint wishes he could get shots of grenade explosions, but when the game pauses, the explosion effects don't.
Without waiting for Torpedo to be up all the way, he hauled off and hucked the grenade an impressive distance. I didn't see where it landed...
...but I did hear the thump of the explosion. I saw iastudent draw a knife, while ScotchDK moved laterally with Torpedo and Deadmeat covering them both. It looked like they were going to use a rush tactic. It was risky, but doable, given the short distance they needed to close.
ScotchDK and iastudent are the best choices for this rush due to high gunfighting and melee skills, respectively.
"Aw, dammit! Aw, shit, man!" I heard Torpedo shout. The enemy had gotten a bead on him, and he had taken a couple of hits.
"Torpedo, get out of there!" I shouted back. "Prone up and disengage!"
I swung back to Pitch. "Keep an eye on our twelve," I told him, "and I'll go get Torpedo patched up." Pitch nodded and resumed scanning the front with his scope.
Torpedo crawled back into defilade while Scotch and iastudent stood up and sprinted forward at the surprised enemy in a flat run. iastudent howled like a wild thing, brandishing his knife.
The "twelve" Beacon was referring to is simply "twelve o' clock," or the forward-facing side of an element. Also, "defilade" is a term used for area considered unreachable by direct fire. It is not strictly the same thing as cover, since the protection available is only determined by the angle of the incoming field of fire.
iastudent's nearest target barely had time to fire a single grazing shot on iastudent before the crazy Viking was upon him, slapping the gun away and stabbing the man in the throat with a vicious upward motion. iastudent pulled the knife free and let the man crumple to the ground, choking to death on his own blood.
Scotch leveled his shotgun at the center bandit in an instant and vaporized his torso. iastudent, his stride hardly broken, charged at the next bandit, who was panicking with the bolt action of his Obrez Mosin.
Like his comrade before him, a single hip shot was all he had time for, and, like before, it was poorly aimed and not enough to drop iastudent.
iastudent met him at the run, blade-first, stabbing him in the chest so hard he was knocked onto his back. He knelt down and slit the bandit's throat, finishing the job.
We regrouped. iastudent's wounds were worse than they first appeared, but I already had my first-aid kit out for Torpedo, so getting his bleeding under control was quick enough.
"Brother!" called iastudent out to Scotch. "My brother! Truly the heart of a warrior beats within you! I look forward to feasting and drinking with you forever in the halls of our fathers and grandfathers!" Scotch gave an embarrassed smile and pushed his glasses up on his nose.
Pitch got up from the prone and looked back to where we were. "It's been clear up ahead for a while now," he said. "We should move on while we can."
I nodded agreement and put the last touches on Torpedo's field dressing.
Thankfully, the rest of the trip to Ciudad de Oro was uneventful.
Day 8, 1904
The first order of business was getting Torpedo and iastudent some medical attention. iastudent took some coaxing, wanting his wounds to be worn as badges of honor, but eventually he listened to reason and decided being in top form for future battles would be more pleasing to the gods.
The town bar was dead, the only patron an aging scooter mechanic displaced from Las Vacaciones during the war. He was still bitter towards the government, which probably explained why he'd not tried to go back. There was order in Ciudad de Oro but the citizens definitely didn't think much of el presidente.
Continuing through, I stopped a police officer near the church and asked him about the Kerano family.
"Kerano? They have all left or been killed off. They threw their lot in with Defensa, so they were no longer welcome here. Very rich family, senor. Much of Presidente Defensa's money came from Kerano pockets."
"So there aren't any Keranos left in this town?" I asked.
"The last one got stuck here during the war, unlucky for him," said the cop. "Black and his gang, they took a job to kill him, and kill him they did. He is actually buried in this cemetery." The cop jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the churchyard behind him.
"Who is 'Black?'" I asked.
"His real name is Jesus Amorales," said the officer. "He is a thief, though not normally a violent man. He sees himself as sort of the Robin Hood type. Mostly he steals from the local mining firm. He used to work there before the war. He did kill Kerano, but this town had no love for that man in the first place. These days, he drifts in and out of town, robbing the mining company of metal and tools and giving it to the rebels operating out in the jungle. He doesn't bother the citizens or the miners themselves, though, so we don't try too hard to chase him down."
I sucked on a tooth. So the cops were turning a blind eye to this Jesus Amorales guy even though he was an active law-breaker. He was doing what the town wished they could do in an official capacity: back the rebels. If they did that, however, Defensa might order an armed incursion on the town. As long as Ciudad de Oro officially recognized him as an outlaw, their own motives could stay hidden and el presidente would be appeased. It was certainly becoming clear, though, why an otherwise lawful and secure town was considered to be "forbidden" by the men in power.
I thanked the officer for his time and returned to the group.
"Come on," I told them, "let's find the mining operation."
The mine offices were easy enough to find, surrounded by ore processors and shipping containers. Upon being asked, an employee directed me to the foreman, who was busy inspecting the containers and writing something onto a clipboard.
"Excuse me, sir," I said, and the foreman turned to look at me.
He was hawk-nosed and swarthy, which meant he had plenty of Aztec blood in him. He sized me up for a moment before speaking.
"May I help you, senor?"
"I'm looking for a Jesus Morales. Do you know anything about him?"
The foreman sighed and tucked his clipboard under his arm, pulling out a handkerchief and wiping the sweat from his forehead. "We call him 'Black' in this town, senor. He used to work in the mines here, now he steals from them. Only from us, though, and never too much that we cannot stay in business."
"You don't seem very upset about it."
The foreman shrugged. "They are hard times all around, senor. He never hurts anybody, and besides, it is the job of the policia to bring him to justice, yes?"
I nodded. So even the miners were complicit with what he was doing. "Do you know where I could find him, perhaps?"
The foreman shot me a stony glare. "You should be careful, senor," he said, his voice dripping with warning. "You are starting to ask questions that would only interest Defensa's dogs, and you should know that such are not welcome here."
"Defensa didn't send me. Ricardo Kerano did."
The man snorted. "Amusing. I wonder how well his brother's death suited him. Very well, I know at least that he likes to gather his men on the western edge of town, though I only have seen this from a distance."
"Thank you for your time," I said, and moved my team out quickly to the west.
We found a group congregating under the bridge that carried the tracks for the freight trains into and out of the mining complex. One man had everyone turned inward to him-he was obviously the leader. I held everyone up and craned my neck.
"I think that's him," I said, and Pitch moved to look down his scope at the man, but I batted the barrel of his shotgun down.
"I was just having a look," he protested.
"If even one person over there notices us pointing a weapon at them, all hell will break loose before we're ready for it to," I said. I thought back to the Mangosta job and decided to go talk to this one as well.
"We'll see what he has to say," I said. "I'll go in alone, and if it looks like things are going bad, light 'em up."
Everyone nodded and got their weapons ready. Torpedo and iastudent were grinning like devils, obviously in the mood for more pain.
The group tensed as I approached their leader, but the man himself was calm.
"What can I do for you, mercenario?" he asked, in good spirits. "You want to join, maybe?"
"Mr. Amorales?" I asked.
The man shrugged. "Who is that? My name is Black. My parents, they wanted a girl, I think." He laughed, and his team laughed with him.
"Ricardo Kerano says you killed his brother," I said. "I'm here on his behalf."
This only amused Black more. "Well, of course I kill his brother, he ask me to, senor. He paid very well, too."
I arched an eyebrow. "He asked you to?"
"Oh, si, he is one cutthroat pendejo, I tell you that. Kill his own brother for money, shameful. Lucky for him I was not above it."
This was interesting. Assuming he was telling the truth, the only reason I could think of for Kerano sending me to avenge his brother would be to silence the hitman he'd hired earlier to kill his brother in the first place. I decided to bite.
"So Kerano wants you dead because you know he ordered a hit on his own brother."
"He want nothing but money, senor," said Black, " and with dead brother he gets entire family fortune. He send many other mercenario before you to kill me, but I kill them first. You come and talk to me, though, so I not kill you right away. Now you know the truth, maybe you decide not to try and kill me, yes?"
"Why you? Why down here?"
"Oh, he is clever, senor. Kerano family was close to General Defensa, they knew before anybody that war was coming. So, he sends his brother down here right before the war begin, Kerano brother gets stuck in anti-Defensa town, nobody surprised when he turns up dead. To make sure, though, he contacts me and tells me where to find him, says he will pay well. I hate Defensa, so natural I would hate Kerano too, you see? But now that the war is over, Ricardo, he is afraid I will say what he did. So he sends you and hopes you do not ask questions of him. Perhaps you don't, but then you went and asked questions of me, so I tell you." He smiled at me.
I thought about what I should do.
It's decision time! We can either kill Jesus "Black" Amorales or simply lie to Kerano back in Sagrada and tell him we did. Either way, we will get credit and reward for completing the job. This decision will also adjust our standings with the rebels, the government, and possibly Ciudad de Oro.
So, what should we do? Voting will stay informal, Squint just wants to see which faction people are more interested in backing right now.
Also, Badass of the Session™ award goes to iastudent for his two knife kills.
Edit: I've also added a mercenary's location and position in the queue to the list in the second post, so that you can see at a glance who's been located and in what order.