Part 21: Welcome to Flavour Country
ACTION. SEX. EXCITEMENT. BLOOD. My weekend, or the attack on Meduna?!
Part 16: Welcome to Flavour Country
Meduna spread before Team Purestrain Gold, lights twinkling in the all-consuming darkness. Only the chirping of crickets heralded their arrival on the eastern perimeter of the coastal capital. They crept forward stealthily, breathing in the cool evening air, tasting its salty sea tang. Tears sprang to Miguel's eyes as he saw the edge of the city he had once ruled. He tossed back his raven's mane and spoke softly to his fellows.
"The Cordona clan ruled here once," he said wistfully. "Yes, in those times, there were no summary executions, no raping and pillaging. No, disputes then were solved with personal combat in the arena, a display of might." He indicated the building they were approaching. It was massive, a beautifully-appointed rectangular arena with a tower at each corner.
The arena was not a terribly important target, but they needed a staging point from which to gain access to Meduna proper. Furthermore, Ira might have come through here, and they needed any clues they could find as to her whereabouts.
Seeing no secondary entrances, the team began to approach the main doors. As they did, it soon became apparent that the entire facility was surrounded by a barely-perceptible shimmering field. More than that - the field encompassed all of Meduna. The team went up to its edge. Miguel commanded the robot to touch the field. It did so, and to no ill-effect. Curious, Miguel compelled the robot to pass to the other side of the field. He pushed the joystick forward, and the little droid zoomed through; once more, the robot was undamaged. Dagny frowned.
"I've never seen anything like this. Miguel, what are we dealing with here?"
The giant raised his eyebrows and replied.
"It is impossible to ascertain the extent of Deidranna's research. However, before Deidranna took over the capital, Chivaldori had a strange project in the works, one which remained unfinished. His scientists were working on something called the 'Companion Ray,' a device designed to turn the minds of criminals and degenerates toward a more... enlightened disposition." His eyes creased. "I thought the project was somewhat demented, but I never thought it would be finished. It's entirely possible that Deidranna completed the device, and is utilizing the effects of the Ray to create a shield of sorts around Meduna. What its precise effects are, I can't say. Our mechanical friend passed through unharmed, however."
Dagny considered this. She decided to test the field's effects on a living being by sending her most worthless soldier through.
"Gasket, please enter the field."
Gasket gulped and fingered his rosary. Asking for the protection of the Virgin Mary, and for access to her powers of sexual compulsion, he reluctantly touched the field. Nothing happened. Taking this as a good sign, he plunged through. He turned around as soon as he was through, and laughed, entirely relieved.
"Whew! Coulda' been as dead as that possum at Great Aunt Macy's high school reunion."
Dagny ordered the rest of the team through. When they had all passed through without injury, she attempted to penetrate the field herself. At first attempt, she was rebuffed; the field felt as hard as steel to her. Try as she might, she could not pass through. She looked at Miguel, puzzled.
"What is going on here? Why can I not pass through?"
Miguel ran his thick fingers through his dark goatee, thinking. After a moment, he snapped his fingers.
"I understand now: she has probably inverted the effect of the ray. The field is not being used to keep people out; rather, Deidranna is using it as a sort of mind-control device, softening the resistance of the local population to such a degree that they obey her every whim. It takes time to work, so we should not suffer from its effects, so long as we don't delay in shutting it down."
Dagny banged on the field in frustration. Curiously, it made no noise.
"So why am I unable to pass through?"
He looked her right in the eyes.
"Well, no matter what purpose the ray is being used for, it relies on the innate compassion in every person's mind; it simply redirects that compassion toward a particular object. In this case, likely toward Deidranna. However, if the subject in question is incapable of compassion, they experience the ray's effects as a sort of physical 'push.'"
"I don't understand. What does compassion have to do with anything?"
"Well, that settles it: you definitely lack compassion. Until we shut down the field, you'll be unable to enter the city." He indicated the arena. "The device is likely quite large, so it's probably in there."
Dagny sighed. This was not an obstacle she was expecting. At length, she nodded and waved her hand.
"Go then. Go disable the field."
Fortunately, Lusthog Squad arrived at this point, and were able to render assistance. Biff flatly refused to accompany the team if Haywire and Razor were members, and so he stayed behind with Dagny. The mixture of Lusthog Squad and Team Purestrain Gold demanded a new appellation: in deference to the sort of committee thinking that made Manitoba the province of spirited energy, "Team Purehog Squad" was chosen. Gumpy was placed in command.
Team Purehog Squad approached the arena.
They made their way toward the main entrance. Ordinarily, Gumpy would have blown a hole in the wall and created an entrance, but he wished to conserve his explosives in case the palace proved difficult to breach.
They came up to the front entrance of the arena. Gumpy caught sight of movement within; he put his hand up and the team stopped behind him. Another flash of movement. After a moment, he realized what it was:
Deidranna's new coatcheck attendant takes his job very seriously
"Bloodcath," he hissed. The team raised their weapons and began to fire at the dread beast. Strangely, more of the beasts emerged when they heard the gunshots, flying through the open doors from the arena grounds. They were no match for Team Purehog Squad:
Bloodcats, fountains, marble columns; it's only an apple pie and a pair of silicone-enhanced breasts away from Dollywood
At Gumpy's command, the team began to push their way inside, still fending off bloodcats. Miguel caught sight of one their gun-toting brethren in the control room, and quickly dispatched him with a burst from bullpup SMG.
Miguel knew that the window wasn't a painting because it was the only one pointing a gun at him
The soldiers began to pour in fast and furious now, a quarter-mile at a time. Miguel held the north-west approach, slightly wounded from a rare on-target shot, while the rest of the team filed through the main doors. Heroically, Gumpy led the charge, slaying a pair of soldiers lying in wait.
Goons. Hired goons
His bravado proved injurious, however, when a shot from the eastern edge of the lobby caught him in the chest. More soldiers were entering from the east, it seemed, far too many for the team to handle. With Miguel still holding his position, Gumpy cried out and vaulted over the bloodcat corpses, seeking the safety of the arena doors. His team followed. Still aggrieved by his bullet wound, Gumpy squeezed his eyes shut and cursed his poor conditioning:
As the inventor of the electric bong, this is a bit of an understatement on Gumpy's part
Miguel, meanwhile, was having the time of his life slaughtering Deidranna's minions, barely blinking an eye as a LAW shot from across the room streaked into the security center and caved in part of the wall.
The P90 with AET ammo is retardedly powerful - a single headshot sometimes does ~100 dmg. A single short burst can easily do ~250. This weapon is clearly broken
Gumpy, for his part, was simply trying to stave off the endless wave of troopers. In time, he managed to turn back the tide, though Razor took a thrown knife in the thigh when he stepped out from behind cover:
An unfortunate moment for trumpeting the virtues of knives
Eventually, Team Purehog Squad prevailed. Miguel found a med kit among the remains and patched up the team, making use of the small bit of medical knowledge he had gleaned from Ira. When he was sufficiently bandaged, Gumpy limped toward the security centre, where he heard the soft humming of machinery. Inside, he found the control system for the Companion Field, and quickly deactivated it. The humming abated, and the shimmering field around Meduna vanished.
"SECRET COMPANION FIELD SWITCH AND DEEP FRYER"
Dagny joined her teammates.
"Excellent job, Mr. Hillman." She pressed close to him, pushing her body up against his. A wicked smile emerged. "Quite excellent. I hope you'll stay around when this is all over. There are many... positions you can fill."
Gumpy gulped nervously.
After a night of tawdry sex and robot repair, Team Purehog Squad pushed forward, toward Meduna's SAM site, having discovered no sign of Ira in the arena. Miguel gave them the scoop.
Miguel declines to conjugate the verb 'to be.' That's a little grammar joke for you, haha
The site was surrounded by a ream of barbed wire in front of a long chained-link fence. Dagny, now in command once more, elected to survey the entrance to the compound. She spotted two tanks looming in the distance, but a few mortars put an end to them.
Tanks, but no tanks
The soldiers lurking in the base were alerted to the team's presence, and began to pour out of the gates. Dagny cunningly retreated to the north-east wall of the base. There, she cleared out a section of barbed wire with a grenade, hoping the noise would go unnoticed in the general chaos, and then snipped her way through the fence. Gumpy and Haywire provided sniper cover, downing a pair of troopers behind sandbags.
The first rule of fence club is you don't snip about fence club
Miguel led the charge with his silenced P90, clearing the other sandbag emplacements. He was aghast when one of his enemies finally managed to spot him and take a shot at him:
Miguel keeps forgetting he isn't Jesus
He took cover behind the SAM control centre. Meanwhile, the rest of the team took up positions to peck at the soldiers on the roof. Their efforts were rewarded with shadowy bodies catapulting from above:
In his final moments, he finally came to *know* the mysteries of the art of tumbling
With the rooftop secure, the rest of Deidranna's forces were quickly vanquished. All of Arulco's airspace now belonged to Dagny.
With Arulco freed of the red taint of Deidranna's SAMs, Skyrider could now dump his feces anywhere he pleased
While looting the bodies, Dagny came across a soldier that had already suffered wounds prior to Team Purehog Squad's arrival. He had deep slashes along his arms, as if he had fended off the attack of a wild animal. Perhaps he had, she thought wryly. Clearly, Ira had made her way through her, but instead of destroying sectors wholesale, she was simply fighting off the patrols. She was headed deep into Meduna, for reasons unknown. Dagny clenched her fist and motioned her men forward.
What the fuck is that road for? It doesn't even go anywhere. Maybe it's a trap
Meduna's airport lay before them. With the capture of the airstrip, Deidranna would be unable to ferry in fresh supplies. For some reason, despite being an island nation, Arulco lacked well-developed port facilities and was dependent on massively inefficient air supply. When asked about this, Miguel simply snorted.
"Ports bring hordes of tourists. We want the elite, the well-to-do, not the scrubs and the penny-pinching retirees. Real tourists come on planes, not as part of all-included cruise ship packages. And besides, we're mostly self-sufficient; we mainly use planes for a few luxury goods and medical supplies."
The team first encountered a tank. Thinking swiftly, Gumpy and Miguel hefted the LAWs strapped to their back and delivered a punishing judicial decision.
Stroked to climax, the LAW spurts forth its flaming ejaculate, making a destruction baby, to be subsequently aborted and used for for explosion stem cell research
Another tank was dealt the same fate by Dagny's mortar:
Don't tread on me
Dagny snipped her way through the security fence and team began downing the troopers stationed at the gate. Miguel reveled in the bloodshed, his natural giant-constitution most at home when locked in righteous struggle with an iniquitous enemy.
Clearly Deidranna is in charge of an alien breeding program: those warning signs only have four fingers
He laughed and sprinted forward, clambering over the sandbags surrounding the charred wreckage of the tank dispatched not long before. A half score of troopers fell to him in his wrath:
Don't lose your head
But he was as solemn as he was warlike:
Miguel is thinking here of his having to put up with an inferior grade of Euro-roast espresso during times of war
Deidranna's soldiers were on the run now, gripped by the fear which Miguel had inspired. Dagny led the charge forward, ducking into a sandbag emplacement to pump an unfortunate commando full of 7.62mm.
No wonder she didn't hear Dagny's approach: this poor soldier is deaf from years of guarding an airstrip with unprotected ears
With that, the airport was freed. Dagny took the time to place a small order for explosives and ammunition, destination Meduna, especially some more AET ammo for Miguel. She felt it might be necessary in the battles to come. But she urged her troops onward nonetheless - greater Meduna would fall to her before the end of the night.
Full of bloodlust and inspired by their vicious leaders, Team Purehog Squad headed south, to Deidranna's pleasure gardens. The entire area was a meticulously-kept maze of hedges, with a road allowing direct access to the palace. Barriers prevented their direct access, of course.
Miguel had seduced many a young palace intern in these gardens. When the wind rustles the leaves, they still speak memories of sexy affairs and assassinated husbands
The team entered the maze running along the road. It wasn't long before a contingent of troopers descended on them. The fight was fast and fierce, and the bodies began to pile up. Razor made good use of his new AWM Arctic Warfare sniper rifle, having discarded his Gepard in favour of the lighter bolt-action rifle.
Pssh. That was so lag
Yet another tank fell to the combined arms of Gumpy and Miguel:
I love tank explosions, in case you haven't noticed
The fighting was especially vicious because so many soldiers were hidden away in various nooks and crannies, quietly awaiting death at the hands of Dagny's troops in the slim hope of getting a surprise attack on them. While Dagny was wounded in the fighting, that hope largely proved elusive:
Hope you like commandoes, because Meduna is chock full of them, much like a German chocolate cake is full of delight
While the rest of the team secured the road, Miguel entered the main maze and cleansed it entirely of Deidranna's troops:
You know, the man was just trying to contemplate nature and all its beauty, and here you go collapsing his skull
At the end of the maze was a curious little house. Ornate tilework marked the approach to the building, while the structure itself was lovingly appointed with flowers and artwork. Nothing of any apparent interest lay within, however.
In his short time with the group, Miguel made sure that Death knew him on a first-name basis
Meanwhile, Razor was still racking up mad killllz with his AWP, earning the ire of nubs.
Razor is not impressed by server restrictions. Like hell he's going to use a Scout
And yet another tank fell to Dagny's mortars:
"This is a tank," the statue seems to say. "It has exploded"
A quick survey of the area seemed to indicate that the rest of Deidranna's troops had run off. While plumbing the depths of the garden maze, Dagny came across a thick swatch of blood fouling part of the hedge wall. She examined it closely, and found a severed arm in the bush, its fingers barely exposed. Grimacing, she pulled out the arm, and turned it over in her hands. Through the use of a razor, a single message had been inscribed on the forearm, in bloody block capitals:
She shuddered. Ira was heading toward the palace. But how could she possibly breach it on her own...? She elected to keep this information to herself for the time being. She tossed the arm into the fountain and was off.
The team gathered before Dagny, panting and huffing. The fighting had been extremely violent, and it was wearing them out. A rousing oratory would bolster their spirits, she thought.
"Men," she began, "we are almost through. We are almost at Deidranna's palace, that goal we set for ourselves so many months ago. From the puny pistol battles at Omerta to the harrowing sniper exchanges at Alma, from eviscerating Kingpin's thugs to detonating Flo in mid-air, you have stood by me, and have become strong in the process. Yes, now you are mighty, mighty enough to aid me in the final stages of my quest... our quest. And so I say to you: take heart! The fall of this country will bring you great riches, material or otherwise, if it hasn't already. But there are still more enemies to fight! More conquests to achieve! More glorious victories to revel in!" At this she thrust her hands high into the air.
The members of her team did not say anything, but they perked up noticeably. Miguel nodded, pleased with Dagny's speech. Without a further word, they moved toward the residential sector.
Well of course Dagny would enjoy visiting a store, it involves the transaction of money
Full of fresh resolve inspired by Dagny's speech, the team surged forward. A sandbag emplacement quickly fell to their onslaught, and Dagny took up residence, pushing aside the bullet-riddled corpse therein:
Dagny's respect for the dead is somewhere between "doorstop" and "afternoon snack"
It wasn't long, however, before a counter-attack forced her back. The team set up a new line and beat back the crush of Deidranna's troops:
"Would you brave a wall of bullets and hurdle a fence of barbed wire for a Klondike Bar?"
Before any more troopers could get past the barbed wire fence, the team headed back and then up a side street, Razor taking the time to exercise his AWP:
By the 500th time you hear him say that you barely even recognize what the word 'turkey' means anymore. I think it's some kind of lawn ornament
Soldiers on the rooftops were beginning to make life hell for them. Grenades and gunfire rained down from above.
Oh no, harmless mustard gas. Eat shit, Pedro
Fortunately, a few rounds from the team's sniper rifles were sufficient to put an end to any aerial threats. Moving down the main street, Dagny stopped to peek through the windows of a nearby building. Her shock was palpable when she saw a pair of dull eyes staring back. The man was equally surprised.
Dagny let loose with her rifle, pasting the man's guts to the wall behind him. He slumped down.
Who would've known guarding the mattress storage facility was so deadly?
Unfortunately, the noise gave away her position, and a sniper shot from afar drilled her in the back. She winced as the round impacted her thick armour, dispersing kinetic energy among multiple piles of kevlar and bruising the flesh underneath. She yielded and sank back into her team's line. They circled the warehouse and, through a breach that Gumpy handily opened (having found extra explosives) they entered and began flushing out commandoes.
Bitch I run this city
The ruckus of the explosion brought the rest of Deidranna's troops forward. They were slain efficiently by Miguel and the others, who had elected to wait outside the warehouse. That left only one thing to do, of course:
Get this: In JA2, when you kill a tank, it fucking explodes. Unreal, I know, but there it is
That was it, then. Except for the palace, all of Meduna was now controlled by Dagny. To cement her victory, Dagny raised a militia and began flying in arms to Meduna's airfield; if she was going to crush Deidranna, she might as well do it utterly.
What had happened to Ira, she couldn't say. Hopefully some clue as to her whereabouts would be found at the palace. There was but one principal task before them, however: the extermination of that long-entrenched pest, Deidranna. It couldn't come soon enough.
Up next: Endgame