Part 10: Death for Some, Miniature American Flags for Others
Part 9: Death for Some, Miniature American Flags for Others
Biff and Haywire were at it again. Haywire was all up in Biff's grille, insulting him and attempting to punch him in the balls. Biff, for his part, simply cowered and tried to ward off the blows, whimpering all the while. Dagny looked up from her desk when she heard the ruckus. A soft growl escaped her lips when she spotted Haywire laying into her manservant.
The door to the command centre burst open and Dagny stalked out, seething. The warm tropical breezes of Chitzena's SAM site stirred her hair as she moved, not softening her anger in the slightest. She marched right up to Haywire as he was raising his fist for another blow and shoved him the chest roughly, sending him to the ground. He landed in a cloud of dust. Sitting up, he looked at Dagny.
"What the fuck, man? This pussy here needs some serious straightening out. I mean, look at him! Who wears a fucking sweater into combat?" He spat on the ground and coughed.
Biff wiped a tear away and sniffed as he wrapped his crimson woolen sweater around himself.
"It was a gift from Santa, thank you very much," he hiccuped , trying to choke back sobs.
Dagny pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes. She was furious with Haywire for sowing yet more discord among her team, but she was also in dire need of his exceptional combat skills. Moderation was her ally as she spoke.
"Enough, both of you. Biff, have Ira look you over. Tell her that she is to use only the adhesive bandages with the little teddy bears. Furthermore, she may deploy a lollipop to cease your tears, if necessary, but only cherry. Or grape." She clenched her fist and lowered her voice to a menacing whisper. "Orange is to be untouched." Biff stumbled off, still sniffling.
Dagny put her hands on her hips and addressed Haywire.
"Now, to deal with you. Clearly, you and Biff are unable to work together effectively. However, I still need your skills. What is the solution to this problem?" The question was partly rhetorical, but Haywire stood quickly and supplied an answer nonetheless.
"Get me Razor. I'm tired of working with these flower panty-wearing pansies. Razor is serious shit, man. He cut up a six year old girl just to get her juice box. Sick shit. But me and him are good together! We'll do whatever you tell us. Just get me Razor." He looked a little desperate.
Dagny considered his request. Razor was yet another of MERC's mediocre mercenaries, and he was very inexpensive. Having reviewed his profile, she knew him to be quick and strong, if somewhat lacking in the smarts department. She nodded slowly.
"Fine." An idea occurred to her. "But Ira will be your squad commander. You will assist us in the taking of Cambria and the capture of Flo."
Haywire grinned and punched the air victoriously.
"Hot damn. Yeah, we'll do whatever man, just point us in the right direction."
Dagny returned to her desk and directed her browser to MERC's website. Razor's profile was easy to locate; the vast expanse of forehead and malevolent expression gave him away. Grumbling, Dagny put in a request that he be transferred to Arulco, and was informed that he would be arrive by the next day. She put her feet up on her desk and leaned back on the standard issue aluminum folding chair. Perhaps the situation was not as bad as it seemed, she thought. Forming another tactical squad would give her a certain flexibility she had heretofore lacked, and would rid her of Ira's animalian antics. She shuddered as visions of the three of them working together manifested themselves: while Haywire and Razor butchered men alive, Ira engaged in a bloody feast, eyes glimmering with madness. Haunting screams crept into the edge of her consciousness, a chorus of the damned. The snap of bones and the moist munching of flesh threatened her sanity. She shook off the disturbing image. Even if she was vile, Ira might prove to be an effective commander. She was already her best soldier, by far, and her ability to summon locals to the militia was remarkable. Mayhap the two men and single man-thing could become a devastatingly effective force.
She put her feet down and returned to working on her battle plan. Cambria was her next objective, important not only for its mine and hospital, but also for the chapter of the International Order of Communists that was said to be located there. The building would almost certainly be hidden, and she would require the aid of the townspeople in locating it, whether willing or unwilling. She grinned as a wicked thought occurred to her: perhaps Razor's skill with a blade might come in handy for coaxing such information out of them.
Evening passed, and the noontime sky found Razor wandering toward Chitzena's SAM site. The sun beat mercilessly upon his shoulders, but it hardly seemed to bother him.
Haywire caught sight of the man, and whooped with joy.
"Razor's here! Fuck yeah! Break out the booze and whores because some shit is gonna be disturbed!" He raced outside and embraced his comrade.
Dagny exited the command center and found the two men slapping backs and trading war stories. She approached just as Razor was finishing off a tale.
"... and how're ya gonna get anywhere with no kneecaps? I'll tell ya: in a fuckin' coffin!" At this, Haywire laughed and slapped his knees, while Razor took a drag on his cigarette. He turned at the approach of Dagny.
"Well well, little missy here is in charge, eh?" He made a toothy grin, displaying his yellowed chompers for all the world to see, and stretched his hand toward Dagny. "Name's Razor. Terms are good, yeah? Hundred fifty bucks a day?"
Dagny nodded, ignoring his denigration of her station.
"The terms are agreeable, Mr. Lamont. Now that you've arrived, I want you to go over to the barracks and get equipped. You will be issued a tactical sniper rifle and a full kit of stealth armour, as well as a multi-round grenade launcher. Your squad commander is Ira Smythe. In the immediate future, we will be pursuing the capture of Cambria, as well as the evisceration of one Florence Gabriel, traitor. Ira will tell you more."
Razor nodded. He turned to Haywire and spread his arms wide.
"Welp, looks like I'm one of you guys now. Let's kick some ass."
He departed for the barracks. Haywire clenched his fists in excitement.
"Oh, it's just fucking awesome that he's here. When do we leave? I want to see that tight ass of his in action right away."
Dagny's eyes widened, and she stared at the uncomprehending Haywire. After a moment, she shook her head slightly and spoke.
"Go and join your squad, Mr. Gordon. As soon as you are all equipped and assembled, we will depart for Cambria."
An hour later, Ira came out of the barracks with her grisly entourage. She walked up to Dagny.
"Commander Ira reportin', sir." She looked off into the distance, stone-faced.
Dagny nodded and put her hands behind her back, spreading her legs in a military pose. She felt quite stately.
"Commander, have you reviewed your men?"
"And what say you?"
Ira snorted contemptuously.
"The Queen's troops are as good as dead, sir. Let's roll."
Dagny gathered her troops and set off. She made sure to keep the two squads separate, lest Haywire and Razor lay into Biff with sharpened knives and hurtful insults. Dagny had heard quite enough descriptions of the horrors that could be inflicted on a man's ass for one day.
A day's travel found them east of Cambria. Dagny directed Ira to attack the north-east sector, while she herself would take the south-east. Ira departed for the north, her two giggling ex-convicts in tow. Gumpy and Biff sat down to clean their weapons, while Gasket scanned the horizon. He squinted.
"Huh, I think I see somebody. I mean, I think I seen somebody," he said. Dagny followed his finger, which pointed east. She raised her rifle and looked through the combat optics. Some orange-vested soldiers became apparent. She immediately crouched and shouted a fierce war-cry, whereupon gumpy and Biff hit the dust and began to sight the soldiers through their scopes. The *crack* of their weapons was relentless as they fired, sending soldier after soldier to the ground. Cries of anguish could be heard as the wounded squirmed in the dust, trying to fight off the awful pain. Merciless death would come for them soon enough.
Not long after the battle began, it ended. The enemy had hardly taken a shot at them.
A macabre game of hide and seek
With her foes dispatched, Dagny ordered her three followers toward Cambria. The afternoon sun heralded their arrival, and the townspeople dispersed as Dagny's commandos made their way into the commercial sector. Gumpy spotted a trooper amongst the fleeing locals, and took a shot.
Gumpy is so badass that his foes actually melt when he shoots them
Following accepted battle strategy, the group took up positions behind the pharmacy. Ignoring the irony of murdering hapless soldiers next to a sanctuary of healing, the team fought off the advance of Deidranna's troops, with Gumpy scoring an especially excellent hit on one poor woman's head.
Sure it looks bad, but the aftertaste...
After a short time, Dagny felt confident enough to move forward. Biff and Gumpy went to work, giving their sniper rifles even more exercise.
Maybe you should have paid attention to the first guy who's lying face down in a pool of his own blood. Or keep walking around in the open in broad daylight, what do I care
It was a massacre. The last soldiers had uttered their prayers to Jesus in hopes that they would have middle management positions in heaven, and the townspeople were safe. Gumpy took some time to reflect on the excellence of their conquest.
Somewhere, Michael Madsen is wearing an undershirt
In accordance with the strategic doctrine of "more sniper rifles = kill," Dagny ordered Gasket to shuck his M14 in favour of an M21 sniper rifle, which itself was a long-range semi-auto version of the M14. Dagny now possessed the only assault rifle of her squad, to be used in close range fighting alone. Dagny herself licked her lips as she took up quite possibly the sexiest thing she had seen since the gold standard:
This compact mortar was far lighter than the standard-issue unit, freeing Dagny to carry even more destructive mortars shells. She chuckled quietly to herself in anticipation of using Flo for target practice. She put that lovely thought aside, however, and ordered her squad further into the western part of Cambria.
Ira, meanwhile, was moving into the ruined academic sector of Cambria with her two vicious lictors in attendance.
Haywire eschews the proper term 'Henries' in favour of a more rustic sound
When they spotted their first enemy, all three howled lustily, anticipating an erotic bloodbath. Ira barked a sharp command, urging her troops to keep their weapons down, while she brought up her own rifle and ended their opponent's life.
Yes, the team has just killed a giant stopwatch, one of Deidranna's more fearsome mechanical minions
Haywire and Razor high-fived, laughing, as the trooper fell to the ground. Ira turned around and growled, annoyed at their exuberance. The two hung their heads, whimpering, and followed her as she led them toward the school's concrete wall. Two more orange vested soldiers emerged, and Ira whistled sharply. At this command, the brothers grim raised their sniper rifles and began to fill heads with lead.
You would expect a more vicious metaphor from a man who once termed the Holocaust "[a] sissy slapfight"
The two soldiers were dispatched easily. The squad moved toward the wall, following it until they were at the school's entrance. There, they spotted a whole group of soldiers on the alert, their weapons held high. At the sight of Ira and her mastiffs, they uttered a fierce battle cry and charged forward. Ira's squad raised their weapons and fired.
As in any good Bruckheimer film, black people die first and violently
Haywire was so moved by the combat prowess of his esteemed partner that he kissed him on the cheek and held him close. Razor allowed himself to be taken.
How often have I said the same thing to my Quattro while shaving? A: never
Ira knocked their heads together, putting an end to Haywire's amorous advances. She rolled up her sleeves, exposing enormous biceps, and shouted at them.
"No faggoty shit under my command, ya hear? Now check around for anything useful before I cut your fuckin' eyes out."
A survey of the loot turned up an interesting item:
Ira licked her lips as she imagined how many pre-cooked bite-size chunks such a weapon could blow a man into.
By that time, Dagny's squad had reached Cambria's western residential sector, and was kicking ass and taking names, the latter of which were added to sympathizers.txt. Her men wandered through the town, firing absently into houses if they so much as suspected an orange vest inside. Gasket got a particularly good shot on one unsuspecting blonde.
How unfortunate to die while giving a blowjob
Dagny followed behind her men. As they cleared a house of soldiers, she would enter and commence knocking over shelves, demanding to know the location of the Order. Children were hauled before parents and threatened at gunpoint, men were hung from trees, blood seeped through floorboards, all testaments to the infernal wrath of Dagny "Mo Money" Taggart. Yet no one would betray their socialist masters, so great was their influence over the townspeople. At length, one young man spilled the beans while sucking on the barrel of Dagny's gun, as Gasket and Gumpy held him by the arms.
"Mouhnfh shpitalah!" he mouthed, shrinking from Dagny's imperious form.
Dagny withdrew the barrel from his mouth and leaned close. Her rage was palpable.
"What did you say?" she hissed.
The man wept openly, his mouth obviously burned by the heated barrel of Dagny's gun, which had already bore white-hot witness to the end of so many other innocent lives. He mustered his courage and spoke in a shaky voice.
"The hospital!" he cried. "They hold their meetings at the hospital. I... I don't know where exactly."
Dagny nodded and stroked the man's hair gently, speaking soothingly.
"There's a good man. See? Nothing to be afraid of. Everything's going to be alright." Dagny waved a hand, and Gumpy and Gasket released the man. He fell forward and curled up into a ball, still weeping.
"Just go!" he screamed, and buried his face in his hands.
Dagny exited the house and began scrubbing the blood off of her hands. She hoped that the unfortunate young man had been telling the truth, for she would hate to have to feed his intestines to him. Full of steely resolve, she commanded her men to march north, toward Cambria's hospital. If her estimation of Ira's combat skill was correct, Ira ought to be moving on the hospital at the same time.
The two squads arrived at the hospital simultaneously; Dagny could see Ira approaching in the distance, her men marching in lockstep behind her. She waved, and Ira waved back. Dagny motioned for Ira to head south, while she and her men headed north.
This is either a hospital or a tetris block
Ira's squad was the first to spot an orange-vest. Razor caught sight of him through a window, and leveled his Knight SR-25 at the enemy. As he peered through the scope, a pulse of adrenaline surged through him, and he felt his heart pounding in his ears. Far too excited for a disciplined shot, he aimed at the man's head and fired, but hit him in the shoulder, causing little damage. Haywire took up death's mantle and his rifle spoke violence to his enemy.
Deidranna's soldier curses Arulco's building codes, which specify that all rooms in a building must be bullet-accessible
Next, Dagny and her men found a commando perched atop the storage locker as they crept north. Gumpy took him down with a single shot from his own SR-25. As they moved toward the northern door, another soldier on the roof managed to get a pititfully weak shot on Gasket. His armour absorbed the blow easily, and Gasket turned and blew the offender away.
While Gasket was sad to part ways with the number six, he still had seven and five to fall back. Eight, however, was a traitorous slut
Dagny and her team entered the hospital from the north, while Ira and her men entered from the south. Together, they swept the halls of the hospital, gunning down soldiers left and right. Their death rattles terrified the wheelchair bound patients, who were forced to beat a squeaky retreat in the face of Dagny's bloodthirsy mercenaries.
This isn't really part of the narrative, I just thought the impotent mumblings of a corpse on the operating table were kind of funny
Eventually, the last soldier fell. Dagny stalked the halls of the hospital, looking for any sign of the Order. She caught sight of a young doctor in one of the operating theatres, and grabbed him by the collar.
"Where is the socialist scum?!" she screamed, shaking him. The doctor looked despondent.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Dagny let loose a fearsome shout and decked the doctor. He fell to the floor. Dagny took hold of his scrubs, and yanked down the pants. On his thigh, she found that dreaded symbol: a sickle and martini glass. She pointed:
"Ah ha! I knew it all along. And I suppose this hospital offers free treatment?"
The doctor looked confused.
"Why yes, any citizen of Cambria is entitled to the mercy of..." He broked off as Dagny screamed and kicked a nearby bookshelf.
"Mercy?!" she shrieked. "You make men weak! Any man worth his salt should be able to pay for any treatment he needs! That, or he ought to be able to regenerate damaged limbs through sheer will alone! Your 'mercy' sickens me." She spat on him. "Tell me where the Order is or I will end you right now."
The doctor put his hands up, palms facing Dagny, pleading.
"No! Please! I... I can't! She said she'd kill me!" His eyes widened, as he realized what he had revealed.
Dagny brandished her rifle menacingly.
"'She?' Who is 'she?'"
The doctor looked around, seeking escape. He tried to stand but Dagny knocked him down again. He scooted backward, until his back was against the wall.
"The French woman. I don't know her name. She came in a helicopter, said that a new age was upon us, said that the Order was going about things in the wrong way. The.. the Order used to hold meetings in the storage shed. I was a member, but we never accomplished very much. We were trying to get a union started when she came. She... killed everybody, took over the shed. Weird things started happening. You could hear gunshots off in the distance at night, and men started disappearing from their homes. Stores were torched. Men would come into the hospital with bullet wounds, and she made me treat them. A helicopter kept landing near the storage shed, bringing her weapons and other things. If you could go take care of her..."
Dagny took a deep breath and let her rifle fall to her side. She turned and left the operating theatre, leaving the doctor sitting on the floor in terror.
As she walked toward the storage shed, rage simmered up inside her. What was Flo up to? Why had she killed her fellow Order members? Was she planning a coup of her own? One mystery piled up on top of another. She was livid when she finally reached the door of the shed, ready to wrap her hands around Flo's throat and squeeze until she was covered in tepid French blood.
Flinging the door open, an astonishing sight stood before her.
The two commandoes leveled their rifles at Dagny. Flo smiled bitterly, her hands held behind her back.
"Bonjour, Dagny. I was expecting you."