Part 23: Epilogue
Razor sat sulking on Deidranna's throne, rifle resting on his shoulder, with his feet resting on the now-decaying head of a dead commando. He was getting terribly bored waiting for the rest of Team Purehog Squad to finish up down below, and was quite disappointed that he was not going to be present to witness the inevitable parting of the queen's head from her shoulders. He shifted in the chair and sighed.
Haywire strode through the northern double doors, carrying a dark bottle. He stepped over the debris and nimbly dodged the congealed pools of blood and the fallen soldiers lying in them.
"Jesus H. Christ, you gotta see the bar here. Look at this!"
He held up the bottle and turned the label toward Razor: Moët et Chandon Brut.
Using both thumbs he popped the cork, then took a long swig from the bottle. Although warm, the beverage was as ambrosia in his mouth. He shuddered at its exquisite flavour, and then passed it to Razor, who immediately began gulping it down.
"That's we should be swimming in, man," Haywire said, as Razor's Adam's apple bobbed up and down, carrying the champagne into his gullet. "Booze and whores and cash and bullets. We deserve better money than what we got here, eh? Even all the loot won't cover shit. What was our pay? Thirty g's each? Forty? Not enough! We should go somewhere where guys like us are appreciated."
"Beep boop that can be arranged," said a buzzing voice.
Both men turned. Through the hole which Gumpy had blown in the southern double doors came Robot, treads whirring softly. The video camera on its armoured chassis turned to face them, and the recording light glowed red as the robot spoke through its tiny playback speaker. Razor was agog.
"You... you can talk?"
The robot glided forward, and a small slot opened up in its shell. A tiny articulated arm shot out, holding a pair of a business cards, which the befuddled men took. They read:
"Beep boop I represent a firm in the United States that is very interested in talented men like yourselves. Explanation: I was sent to Arulco to recruit young men, but captured by the scientist designated 'Madlab.' Addition: I was able to hide my core programming, fortunately for you. New topic: specification: Blackwater Worldwide is interested in acquiring your services in our Iraqi security operation. Terms: US$15,000 per month, plus expenses. Equipment provided, or you may use the kit you have obtained here."
Civil Promotion Unit #12
Security solutions that fit your lifestyle
A small antenna rose up from the robot's camera, and a few moments later the loud whooping of chopper blades was heard as an unmarked Blackhawk touched down just outside the palace.
"Beep boop perhaps we could discuss this somewhere more comfortable?"
The two men looked at eachother, and then grinned. Here was opportunity knocking at their door, and they were most interested in answering. The three renegades were about to leave when another sound became apparent over the whooping of the chopper blades: the roar of a crowd. Haywire walked up to the gate and found a seething mass of humanity just beyond, crying out rapturously, some even on their knees. When they saw Haywire they roared even louder, drowning out the nearby chopper.
At that moment, Dagny and her crew came trudging down the path from the garden. More precisely, Dagny was being carried on a makeshift stretcher by Gumpy and Miguel, while Biff and Gasket marched quietly beside. They stopped when they saw the crowd, and a man with a brown shirt came rushing up, his face aglow.
"Garden party cancelled, eh? Quick, everybody: we love democracy! We love democracy! Rah rah siss boom bah..."
Another voice called out:
Groaning from the grievous injuries she had sustained below, Dagny lifted her hand and gave a limp wave to the crowd. They roared their approval, cheering and hugging one another. Tears sprang to the corner of the team's eyes as they witnessed this outpouring of support. Finally, the long-awaited vindication, the congratulation for a job well done. Not that they hadn't been well-compensated, but it was nice to hear it from the inhabitants of the island that they had just liberated.
Biff wiped his eyes and sniffed.
Gasket still had a raging boner and aimed to convert his heroism into sexual credit:
Despite his fearsome intelligence, Gumpy still inhabited a world actualized by Hollywood:
Dagny reached out and patted Gumpy on the shoulder, uttering rare words of kindness:
Despite thoughts of imminent departure, Haywire could still spare a moment for celebration:
Razor's mind was already in Iraq:
Miguel smiled at Dagny in the stretcher:
"Miss me? Do you think I'm leaving? Oh no, my friend, I'm standing for election. Clearly you and Enrico are not fit to rule so much as a sand castle, let alone a nation."
The next year found Enrico Chivaldori as President of the fledgling Republic of Arulco, elected by an impressive 59% of the voting public. Miguel Cordona stood as his prime minister. Clearly, the people of Arulco had learned nothing, since it was Enrico's unfortunate marriage that had led to Arulco being taken over in the first place, and it wasn't long before factionalism and civil war tore the country asunder once more.
"Hey guys, remember me? I didn't do any of the work, but I do want to rule. Item one: Enrico Chivaldori is dictator for life"
And what of our heroes?
War had made a man out of Biff, but not the sort of man who could ever again function well in civilian life... if indeed he had ever functioned well. Visions of death and dreams of blood haunted him constantly - he needed more combat, more bloodshed, for only when locked in the deathgrip of battle could Biff find any solace from the fell demons that Arulco had bound to him. Dragunov at his side, he left MERC's employ and joined up with AIM, even going so far as to form a partnership with psychopathic assassin Reaper. In later years, the two men would go on to form their own combat detachment, the "Redguards," whose presence was to be felt in conflicts from Chechnya to Zimbabwe. Biff's sole occupation outside of fighting and planning for fighting was his poetry - he was hard at work on an epic poem recounting the struggles of Team Purehog Squad in Arulco, though with a decidedly Biff-esque spin:
And, if you should ever catch Biff on moonlight patrol, you might find him opening up a little locket. If you look inside, you will see not only a picture of a mildly attractive woman with sunken eyes, but also a man dying a little more.
Sing! goddess, the wrath of Dagny, daughter of Nathan Taggart,
that destructive wrath, which brought many woes upon the Arulcans,
and sent many brave souls of heroes to the house of Hades.
Begin from the time when first Florence and Dagny first stood apart in strife...
Gasket went back to Louisiana, a hero in his town. He spent several days bathing in the adulation of his fellow townies, before returning to his mother's trailer just outside the municipal limits. He had been sending most of his earnings home to his mother, and had expected that they would have been invested wisely in his absence. Instead, upon his arrival, he found her trailer decked out in ludicrously expensive items: big-screen televisions, state of the art computers, exotic coffee, diamond-finish cookware, and so forth. All his money had been blown on crap, crap, crap. He had hoped to buy a garage, to settle down, to find a wife, American or mail-order. Now, none of his dreams could be fulfilled. Enraged, and after much screaming and argumentation with his fat momma, he rigged the trailer's propane tank to explode the next time it was used. On reading about his mother's flaming death in the newspaper the next day, Gasket knew that his life in Louisiana was over.
What became of our simple, god-fearing, matricidal man? Well, if you take your car to Canadian Tire on St. James Street in Winnipeg, MB., Canada, you might just find a tall red-bearded man rotating your tires, and, if you're lucky, he might tell you a story about "this guy he knew" who went to Arulco a simple mercenary but returned a hero. Not that you would believe him, anyway. No, you would smile politely and nod, eying the exit, quietly reproaching yourself for being too cheap to put winter tires on your 1997 Sebring, ignorant of the greatness of the man that stands before you, as he overcharges you for boneheadedly-simple auto service.
Tim "Gumpy" Hillman returned to America, using the money earned in Arulco to complete a degree in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He would later return to Arulco at Enrico's request, eventually becoming Minister of the Interior. Indeed, Gumpy presided over the new construction boom in Arulco, and ensured that every building was compliant with the strictest international codes of quality. He also provided funding for the construction of a small, two-set movie studio, which, with Gumpy behind the camera, went on to produce several hit independent films. He continued a discreet relationship with Dagny, who still lived on the island, but never married, declaring that marriage was "pretty gay."
After the fall of Deidranna, Dagny thought herself a natural leader for the Arulcans, and so stood for election in the first vote of the new democratic regime, heading the "Development and Wealth" party. She was defeated by the "Responsible Progress" party of Chivaldori and Cordona, and, after a brief stint as head of the Official Opposition, she retired to the northern part of the country to focus on her business: building the world's first oversea railway, to cart the silver from Arulco's mines (which she owned) to neighbouring Brazil. With the aid of her lover, Gumpy, she managed to devise a metal strong and flexible enough to do so, but met opposition from Brasilia when she was halfway done. The country cited environmental concerns, claiming that the railway would interfere with whale spawning grounds and that the coral reefs would be damaged by Dagny's thoughtless builders. Dagny spent years attempting to convince various coastal South American nations to receive her railroad, but none would oppose Brazil. And so, the waning years of her life were spent attempting to foment civil war in Brazil, so that she could take over the country, build her railroad, clear-cut the rainforest, and demolish the capital in favour of a one-thousand story administration building.
Only the silver dollar sign at Drassen still stands as a memory of Dagny's work in Arulco.
Ira's remains were sent to Brooklyn to be buried, but were lost en route. To this day, they sit languishing in a DHL Worldwide warehouse, while ever more employees complain of a horrid stench.
Haywire and Razor joined up with Blackwater Security and were deployed to Iraq almost immediately. However, combat in Arulco had left them unprepared for the sheer savagery of that in Iraq, and the two men died when their vehicle rolled over an IED inside the rotting corpse of a goat.
Having been elected prime minister, Miguel spends his days petitioning foreign nations for development funds, growing ever fatter off of the luxurious diet of diplomats. He is found more often roaming the halls of the EU headquarters in Brussels than in the rebuilt palace at Meduna, pleading pitifully with bespectacled ambassadors in broken French.
Civil Promotion Unit #12, its job in Arulco complete, went next to the Philippines. Unfortunately, a horde of a job-hungry garbage pickers disabled and disassembled him as soon as he rolled off the boat, seeking to file off the gold shavings from the PCBs housed within his armoured shell. The video camera spent the last of its days filming 12 year old prostitutes for the consumption of fat American middle-aged men.
Un next: nothing!