Part 8: Res Gestae Divae Dagniae Taggarti
Part 7: Res Gestae Divae Dagniae Taggarti
Gasket approached Dagny's desk and dropped off a bundle of mail, careful to avoid the ashtray containing her smouldering cigarette. Mail usually arrived with airborne shipments.
Dagny looked at him for a moment, her chin resting in her hand.
"How are things progressing, Douglas?"
Gasket furrowed his eyebrows, perplexed.
"How do you mean, ma'am?"
"I mean, how do you feel things are going? Do you feel as if we're accomplishing what we set out to do?"
Gasket put his hands up, palms facing Dagny.
"With all due respect, ma'am, I'm just here fer a paycheque. 'Objectives' don't mean squat to me. So long as there's a gun in my hands and piss to scare out of a bad guy, I'll stick 'round here."
Dagny nodded slowly, and let out a small sigh. She dismissed him.
She had been feeling melancholic after the taking of Alma. While the sack of such an important city was no doubt an impressive accomplishment, she felt somehow hollow inside, as if she were betraying herself and her principles. She had come to Arulco to put an end to a vicious regime of looters, but she felt as if she were slowly becoming one of them herself. The endless gathering of war material and pillaging had made her bloodlusty and greedy. The violent, passionate sex with lesser men had corrupted her spirit and given birth to a blazing inferno in her crotch. She needed a way to expurgate herself.
Sighing once more, she unpacked the bundle of mail and began flipping through the stack. A bill from MERC, a bill from Bobby Ray's, whiny nonsense from Chivaldori, and an invitation to lecture as an alumnus of Harvard Business School. She began to open the latter, but as she picked up the envelope, she noticed a small white card underneath. She picked it up:
"You're a disgrace.
Galt's penmanship had atrophied considerably since the stroke
The name sent a shiver up her spine, and the message an arrow through her heart. Galt, her longtime lover, her partner in her endeavour to purge the United States of a corrupt socialistic regime, to found a new society - he was condemning her, and she knew exactly why. Moreover, she knew the message, while reproachful, was intended as a corrective, and she took it to heart. Dagny placed the letter on the desk and took up what remained of her cigarette. She stood and walked to the window of her office in Drassen. In the distance, she saw Drassen's air crew prepping a small prop airplane for takeoff, as Pablo languidly snorted blow off his fingertips.
She thought about what Gasket had said. 'Paycheque.' Yes, that was the most important thing. In spite of Jesus' advice, Dagny knew that she had taken much from the people of Arulco, perhaps unjustly.
She stubbed out the cigarette decisively. It was time to make things right. She bent over the desk and triggered her intercom.
"Biff, gather the others. We have work to attend to."
"Okay ma'am, but do you want your coffee now or later?"
First, Dagny intended to help the benighted people of Alma, from whom she had taken so much. Since Alma relied heavily on the Arulcan Colonial military, she knew that her vicious slaughter of Deidranna's troops was having a terrible impact on the economy of the town. Furthermore, her team had utterly stripped the town of weaponry and almost completely emptied the mine, much to the muttering anger of the townspeople. Therefore, she thought it right to expel from the region the bloodcats that Alma's mining director had mentioned. She reminded herself that this was not, however, an act of that abomination charity; rather, it was rightful compensation.
The helicopter touched down about a mile east of Alma, and Dagny's troops filed out in an impressively orderly fashion. Skyrider gave them each a firm pat on the behind as they stepped out of his chopper, and then departed. Wordlessly, they began to march into the foothills of Alma under Dagny's impassive gaze. They knew she was experiencing inner turmoil, and they didn't want to earn her ire.
As plains gave way to scanty forest, the team spotted their first bloodcat. And their second, and their third.
Observe that negro cats are required to stay behind their fairer colleagues. Bloodcat society is, regrettably, less than progressive
The mutant beasts were massive. All silky fur and sinew, their green eyes rotated simultaneously toward Dagny's team. Hunger stirred them, and with cries of savage fury they bounded toward their prey with horrific speed.
With lightning reflexes, Dagny's team raised their weapons and began to fire. It was a slaughter, for Dagny had made sure to equip her team with nothing but fast-firing weapons and hollowpoint ammunition. The bullets carved a path through their feline foes, and blood soaked the battlefield. In no time at all an enormous amount of cat corpses lay scattered among the silent trees.
Kind of looks like a rainbow
Satisfied, Dagny commanded her troops to grab a few of the carcasses, and directed them to haul the bodies to Alma. Reaching the town just as Dawn was beginning to squat down beyond the horizon for a relaxing evening pee, Dagny's squad approached the mining director's hut. Opening the door, they found the director sitting behind his desk, completely naked except for a beret, hard at work on a drawing of some sort. He dropped his crayon and looked up at Dagny's men as they entered, unperturbed.
"How nice to see you Ms. Taggart. To what do I owe...?" He tapered off as Biff and Gasket dragged in one of the bloodcat corpses. Being dragged along the ground for several hours had hardly been kind to the carcass - little stones and blades of grass had accumulated in its blood-soaked fur. On Dagny's command they tossed the beast onto the director's desk, scattering gravel and filth everywhere.
The director looked stunned. He looked the once-feral beast in the eyes, and looked as if he wanted to weep.
"Oh, pretty kitty, where do you go now?" he said, addressing the cat. He buried his face in the cat's fur, stroking its head at the same time. Soft humming could be heard.
Dagny cleared her throat.
"I've taken care of your bloodcat problem. Inform the people that I have only done so in fulfillment of a bargain I tacitly made with the Arulcan people when I stepped onto this blasted island. Is that clear? This is not generosity, or charity. I am not Mother Teresa's handmaiden. I am acting in my own interests here. I..." She stopped, at a loss.
Ira took up the point.
"She wants you ta be fuckin' grateful is what."
Dagny nodded in Ira's direction, please with her barbaric brevity.
The director pulled his face out of the fur and looked up at both of them. His deep-set brown eyes were moist with tears. He stood and took hold of his penis, and began to wave it in their direction. It seemed a gesture of admonishment.
"It's great that you saved the town and all, but did you have to kill the 'cats? How'm I supposed to start my rodeo now?"
Dagny narrowed her eyes and pointed to the corpse on the desk, trying not to look directly at the director's flailing member.
"I suggest you master corralling this beast here, and, from there, work your way upwards. Only when you are comfortable handling the dead will you be able to exert your influence on the living."
Dagny and her team walked out of the hut, slamming the door. Biff approached her.
"Uh, so, what do we do with these?" he said, indicating the two remaining bloodcat corpses.
Dagny merely directed Biff's attention to Ira, who had already begun cutting hunks of flesh from one of the dead 'cats with her combat knife. She tore into them ravenously, chomping noisily, stopping every few moments only to smack her lips. A small puddle of saliva began to form underneath her as it dripped off her chin. A few townspeople had gathered to watch the spectacle, and stood whispering to one another. Children clung to their mothers, entranced but nauseated. They all backed away, groaning in disgust, when Ira whipped her knife to one side to clear it of blood and bile. The braver men among them began to plead with Ira to relocate her feast, which merely caused her to bare her teeth in a feral manner and to produce a low growl. The townspeople were cowed, but they continued to watch, fascinated.
"LOOKS LIKE YOU'LL HAVE TO HOOVER IT FROM HERE, DOC," Skyrider shouted through the whooping of the chopper at Dagny as she and her men jumped off. "QUEEN'S GOT A BLANKET OF BEES SO TIGHT IT STINGS."
Dagny rolled her eyes and gave him a thumbs-up, hoping that he'd understand.
As the last of her squad touched the ground, Dagny looked back to see Skyrider begin his ascent. She turned to address her troops when, all of a sudden, she heard a bottle burst beside her. Reflexively, she ducked, and then, seeing no enemy, looked upward.
The chopper was hovering not twenty feet above them. Skyrider was at the loading door with a case of bottles in his hands, tossing them out one by one. He was screaming:
"THIS'LL SHOW YOUR SASS MOUTH, BOY. I'LL COME GET YOU WHEN YOU LEARN TO BEHAVE."
When the sixth and final bottle had burst beside Dagny, the chopper took off toward Drassen. Dagny looked at the little piles of rock dust and broken glass on the ground. A pair of googly eyes stared mournfully up at her.
Her troops were waiting for her, mostly silent. The only noise to be heard was Ira noisily chewing a massive hunk of bloodcat jerky. She spat the bone fragments on the ground.
Dagny turned to address them.
"Our goal is San Mona. I have conferred with Chivaldori, and he agreed that taking down one Peter Klaus, the local mafia baron, would be sufficient recompense for any transgressions committed in the past, and any we shall commit in the future. First, however, I want to capture the local SAM site. I don't know about you, but I don't plan on walking back to Drassen."
Thus she spoke. And her troops rallied behind her, and they made haste for Chitzena's SAM site, which Skyrider had located for them.
As they made their away over the plains south of Omerta, a white object began to manifest itself in the distance. Dagny took hold of her binoculars and raised them to her eyes, attempting to divine the nature of the object. She frowned. No, it couldn't be.
It was an ice cream truck.
She put her hand up, halting the squad's progression. As they waited, a soft diesel rumble began to get closer to them. Eventually, the ice cream truck rolled up to them and stopped. A small hispanic man stepped out from the driver's seat. He stared. Dagny's team stared right back. Gasket tried to contain his excitement, but failed.
"Ice cream?!" he said hopefully.
The hispanic man nodded and spat on the ground. "Si senor. Ice cream, yes. You like rocket pop?" He turned and walked back into the ice cream truck, opening the side shutter and hanging out a sign, which stated simply:
Rocket Pop: US$2
Ben & Jerry's: US$14
Dagny frowned as she read the last point. Surely Enrico would not stand for the side-by-side peddling of delicious children's treats with dangerous street drugs. She looked up at the hispanic man.
"I'll take all of it."
The man looked confused.
"All, senorita? You have big money, yes?"
Dagny raised her weapon.
"No, I'll take everything. The truck, its contents, your clothes. Come on, strip or I'll have Ira fillet you right now."
Ira pulled out her knife expectantly.
The hispanic man knew highway robbery when he saw it. He had acquired the truck in much the same way, and so had his father, and his father's father, in a long line of roadside villainy stretching back over two hundred years. When a child in his family came of age, they would swoop down and rob their father of his livelihood, thus ensuring their own. He was sad to see the truck leave the family, but he knew how to roll, and he began to pull off his shirt and unbutton his pants.
Once he was completely naked, Dagny waved her gun.
"Now march. Get you gone."
The man gawked. "What will my kids do, mang? This is bullshit."
Dagny fired a single shot into the ground at his feet. The *crack* of her weapon resounded for miles.
The man jumped and began to run in the opposite direction, genitals flailing in the wind.
Dagny directed her team to enter the vehicle. Flo sat in the driver's seat and started the engine.
Much to the group's embarassment, Flo was the only one who could drive stick
Gasket dug eagerly into the freezer, taking up several rocket pops, which he handed out to the team. Flo waved hers away, disgusted. She put the truck into gear, revved the engine and dropped the clutch, sending the vehicle forward with a rough jerk. She turned back to look at Dagny.
"How iz this justice, mon ami? You sicken me with your greed."
Dagny did not look up from her weapon, which she was cleaning.
"This is part of our deal with Chivaldori, Flo. We can take what we need, so long as Kingpin is dealt with. Keep driving."
Flo did not respond.
In a short time, they reached Chitzena's SAM site. Waiting for nightfall, they struck from the north and quickly dispatched a few waiting sentries. Dagny cut a hole in the fence and they crept toward the barracks, making sure to keep alert for soldiers with murderous intent. As they went, a rustle was heard not far away. The team raised their weapons, but saw nothing. The moment that they relaxed, an orange form surged toward Dagny, brandishing a wicked looking curved dagger. She would have surely been gutted, were it not for Flo's quick reactions. Yes, I just typed that.
Recorded for posterity, in case historians should doubt Flo's bloody-mindedness
But they weren't safe yet. A shot rang out, flying over their heads. Ira sprinted forward to deal with the offender, and took a bullet in the gut for her effort. Winded, she knelt and indicated where the fire was coming from with her hand.
Gasket took out his grenade launcher and fired a jumping grenade in the direction Ira was pointing. The grenade arced through the air and exploded on contact with the ground. A groan was heard from the man, but he got right back up. Ira was still unable to raise her weapon, and she pointed more insistently.
Tired of the whole affair, Dagny unpacked her mortar launcher and set it up for a shot. She dropped a mortar into the tube and turned away, plugging her ears. The launcher fired loudly, sending the mortar shell up into the air. The shell whistled loudly as it sought its target on the ground below.
Ira laments the waste of perfectly good meat
The man was utterly disintegrated. A ring of blood and flesh marked the spot where the mortar had fallen, but otherwise there was no evidence left that this soldier had ever existed.
With the last soldier dealt with, Dagny ordered Flo and Ira to secure a militia defense team for the site. Naturally, they had to repel an attack by Deidranna's elite forces the next morning, but they were easily dealt with. The loot was paltry, but her team was so well-armed that it hardly mattered.
They then went east, to San Mona. As they walked into town, Dagny took note of the various amenities available for the well-moneyed patron. She saw a leather shop, several bars, a brothel, a club of some sort, and an enormous single-story mansion. Dagny suspected that her team could use a few drinks, so she headed toward the club. An imposing, impossibly spherical man stood blocking the door. Dagny approached him and asked permission to enter. The man grunted.
"Let's see what you got."
Dagny frowned, not comprehending. The man sighed and waved a hand.
"I want to see some tits or nobody's getting in."
Dagny shrugged, shucked off her armoured vest and unbuttoned her blouse, exposing herself. Spike nodded, suitably impressed.
Spike's attempts to appear heterosexual were getting increasingly desperate
The team brushed past him, and sat down at a table, whereupon Ira related some information about the sector to the team.
Ira recalls her failed stint as one of Kingpin's cabaret dancers. Fudge!
Dagny looked around, taking in her surroundings. Beside the bar, a small boxing ring stood prominently. Blood stains were visible on the floor. She also noticed several well-armed men at the tables next to them, downing beers, conversing amongst themselves, and occasionally shooting sneering glances at Dagny and her men. She was about to send Ira over to their table to give them a once-over, when a well-dressed man stood up and approached the boxing ring. Standing before it, he turned and addressed himself to the club patrons.
"Tonight is open night, ladies and gentlemen. Any and all are welcomed to step up and throw down. Beat up some of these charming fellows here, and win $10,000 cash money. Any takers?"
Dagny smiled and slipped on her brass knuckles. What better way to pay her debt to Arulco than by beating up some local men? She stood and approached the emcee.
Origin of 'xtreme' fad: LOCATED
He demanded $5,000 down. She handed him a wad of cash. He thumbed through the wad, then nodded, satisfied that all cash was at hand.
"Now we must wait for Kingpin. He has an interest in watching these fights."
A few moments later, an obese man clad in a red tracksuit sauntered through the door. His sunglass-wearing entourage pulled a chair up to the ring and put a cushion on it. A drink was prepared. The fat man took his seat and addressed Dagny in a gravelly voice:
Some of my friends call me Tiberius, but that doesn't make me second fucking emperor of Rome
"I run a nice little town here, and I expect you to behave yourself if you wish to enjoy the offerings. Now, let the fighting begin."
Dagny leapt into the ring, and was confronted by a burly brawler. He lunged at her with a powerful-looking haymaker, but Dagny dodged it easily. She took hold of his arm as it sailed past her shoulder, and flipped him onto his back. The man attempted to get up, but a quick snap kick from Dagny to his head knocked that desire right out of him. The bell rang, and Dagny was declared the winner. The body was dragged out, and another man entered the ring.
This man looked tougher. He approached Dagny cautiously, his fists raised to cover his midsection. He made a come hither motion, an offer which Dagny all-too-eagerly accepted. She rushed him and faked a punch toward his face, then attempted to drive her heel into his gut. The man was too canny for that, however, and he spun 'round her extended leg and delivered Dagny a kidney shot. She winced, but didn't falter. Instead, she dropped to the ground and swept the man off his feet with her leg. The man's head struck a turnbuckle as he fell, and he was out cold. This body too was dragged away as the bell rang out Dagny's victory.
Kingpin stirred in his seat, a little turned on by the activities of this feminine whirling dervish.
A third man entered the ring. He was dark and lean, full of coiled-up energy and resolve. He opened with a flying kick, which dealt a glancing blow to Dagny's face. Stunned, she dropped to the ground, and snorted up a wad of bloody tissue. She got right back up and confronted him, however. The man had fallen back and was waiting for Dagny to strike, dancing from foot to foot. She flexed her hands and closed the distance, narrowly avoiding a roundhouse kick from the man as he attempted to ward her off. Gritting her teeth, she leapt right at him and put her hands around his throat, attempting to strangle him with all her might. The man let out a strained gasp and began to tear at her hands with his own. His features began to turn blue, and his attempts to fight Dagny off became more feeble. Suddenly, he braced himself and drove his head into Dagny's chin, knocking her away. Dagny's mouth began to fill with blood - she had cut her tongue. Anger boiled up inside of her, and she removed the belt from around her pants. She took long strides toward her gasping combatant, and, standing behind him, she wrapped her belt around his throat and yanked hard.
Are you not entertained?!
The man fell to the ground, struggling. Dagny began to drag the man around the ring, looking all the patrons in the eye as she did so. Silence reigned throughout the bar - the only sound to be heard was the gurgling of Dagny's opponent, and the sound of his boot heels striking the floor as he vainly struggled against his fate. She made a circuit of the ring, still yanking the prostrate soldier, then she made another, and another one still, until at last the man ceased to move and lay limp. Dagny picked up the corpse and easily tossed it out of the ring, onto the bar counter.
Dagny put her belt back on and stepped out of the ring, breathing slowly and loudly. No one moved or spoke. Finally, Kingpin applauded slowly, and spoke to Dagny:
Everything in Arulco is within walking distance
Having invited Dagny and her team to his manor, Kingpin and his entourage packed up and went off. The emcee handed her a thick stack of bills. Dagny approached the table where her team was seated, and motioned for the first aid kit. The team simply stared in astonishment, until Ira handed over her medical kit. She began to bandage her bruised hands silently. Gumpy spoke first:
"That wash amazing! I mean, like, opening-scene-of-Saving Private Ryan-amazing. God, what a woman! Not at all like Mom."
Dagny allowed a small smile to grace her lips, but quickly suppressed it. While fighting had been most refreshing, she had bigger things to accomplish in San Mona. She put down a bit of cash on the table to pay for the drinks, and began to walk toward Kingpin's mansion.
As promised, the mansion was hardly more than a minute's walk away. Yet another bodyguard stood between Dagny and progress.
The fifth season of Dog the Bounty Hunter was filmed in Arulco for legal reasons
Leaving her team outside, Dagny entered and approached Kingpin, who was seated in a large velvet easychair, holding a snifter of what looked like Baby Duck. He smiled as she entered.
"Greetings. I was most impressed by your display of pugilistic prowess." He paused to take a sip of his drink, then continued. "I hope you are enjoying my San Mona. I built it from nothing, trading favour for favour, avoiding the usual annoyances of zoning permits and the like. Now, everything here belongs to me."
Dagny shuddered. She had long learned to detest people like this, people who relied on trapping unsuspecting clients in webs of mutual obligations and unspoken agreements. They relied on their 'pull,' their personal charisma and obedience toward arbitrary social structures, rather than the mechanics of a free and just market, when dealing with people. She wished to hasten his death.
Kingpin went on to explain what he wanted from Dagny: namely, the Chalice of a Chance, an artifact kept in the town of Balime. In return, he would give her $20,000. Dagny was hardly listening, busy as she was examining his mansion for easy access routes. Eventually she tired of his talking, and put a hand up to stop him.
"I shall surely consider your offer, Mr. Klaus. Now if you will excuse me, I have my own affairs to attend to."
Kingpin bowed graciously, and had Damon escort her out. The team turned as Dagny approached them - clearly, they had been discussing something. Gumpy approached Dagny, grinning like a child.
"Dagny, oh boy, oh, this is great. Okay. I have a plan, and it's going to be totally sweet for taking down that fat sack of beets. Hell yeah."
Bet you didn't know the Unabomber had a lisp
Night found the team crouched in Kingpin's backyard, weapons at the ready. Gumpy quickly and quietly moved along the rear wall of the mansion, carrying out his plan. When he was finished, he returned to Dagny's hiding spot. She spoke to him quietly.
"Is everything set up?"
Gumpy nodded confidently, and replied:
"Thunderbirds are go."
They watched the back wall of the mansion silently. Any time now...
This might just be the greatest anything ever
The pressure wave of the C4 was incredibly powerful, very nearly knocking Dagny off her feet. She steadied herself and tried to look through the debris to see what Gumpy's explosives had accomplished. The entire rear wall of Kingpin's manor had been destroyed, the roof was sagging, and small fires were beginning to make their way across the timber supports.
They heard Damon screaming for bloody vengeance. Several of Kingpin's men were wandering around in a daze, deafened by the explosives. Dagny directed her team to begin firing into the house. The men weren't even aware that they were being fired upon, and were thusly massacred.
Damon himself somehow managed to avoid being killed in the first salvo, and rushed out brandishing his Colt Commando. Biff, however, brought him down easily with a round from his Dragunov.
I'm pretty sure this is what Kevin Spacey's house parties look like, though with a bit more blow
Dagny's men fanned out to take care of the rest of Kingpin's troops, who were scattered throughout the town. Dagny herself went hunting for Spike, seeking revenge for his lascivious conduct.
She found him still standing before the club, always devoted to duty. She stayed in the shadows, and spoke to him without revealing herself.
She laughed lustily, and emerged from the shadows with her top off. Spike was captivated by her petite breasts.
"You still want a look at these, big boy?" she said, putting a hand on her hip. Spike nodded eagerly, and approached her. When he was close enough, Dagny whipped out her dagger and shoved it into his crotch.
Groaning with unknowable pain, Spike fell gasping to the ground. Dagny returned to where she had left her clothes and dressed herself. She picked up her rifle and leveled it at Spike's writhing form. With cool disdain, she plugged him the gut. He let out another muffled cry, and convulsed in pain. She left him to die, and returned to gather up her team.
Gumpy informed her that Kingpin had barricaded himself in the remains of his mansion, and was shooting at anyone who approached. She smiled warmly at Gumpy and ruffled his hair.
"And what, dear Mr. Hillman, is the solution to that problem?"
Gumpy looked down, and then up at her again.
The team gathered outside Kingpin's bedroom wall. Gumpy laid a bundle of TNT and quickly scooted back. Unfortunately, his arming must have been inept, because the device exploded prematurely. Gumpy, Biff, and Flo were knocked backward by the shockwave, while the rest of them managed to remain steady. When her head stopped ringing, Dagny looked through the debris to see Kingpin's tracksuited form lying on the floor, bleeding profusely.
The red circle means that Kingpin is carrying a Triforce
A few rounds from Gumpy's new Zastava M76 put an end to Klaus' suffering.
Dagny put her rifle over her shoulder and relaxed. While San Mona would remain neutral, its corrupt dictator had been displaced, and Dagny was now the de facto leader there. This would hopefully make her interactions with the townspeople all the smoother.
Kingpin's mansion lit up the night sky as it burned, casting sparks and flaming debris all over. Her heart blazing equally powerfully, Flo approached Dagny.
"Zis is too much. I can not stand for this. I have fought for you, I have been shot for you, but no more! I have seen too many heinous deeds to continue collaborating with you."
Dagny went nose to nose with her.
"I will not stop you from leaving, woman. Know, however, that you will not be welcomed back here, should you choose to return."
Flo turned and approached Biff.
"What about you, my love? Will you stay wit' zis murderous madman?" She cast a venomous glance at Dagny over her shoulder.
"No... I... uh, I'm going to stay here with, uh, with Dagny." He scratched the back of his head and looked down.
Flo said nothing and stormed off.
Dagny shrugged her shoulders. Haywire could easily take Flo's place. She reached for her cell phone to signal Skyrider, but was unable to locate it. Then it dawned on her:
Flo had taken it.
The thought of a pissed-off French woman darting around Arulco in a helicopter chilled Dagny to the bone.