Part 11: Pugachev by Night
Chapter 11: Pugachev by Night
There is goon participation in this chapter!
The Novistranan Coalition had irreversibly taken the town of Ekaterine with Prokofiev's rally and the official backing of Mayor Livingstone. While the ideological purity of the movement was diluting due to the composition of its inner circle, they had, at worst, won the grudging respect of even their weakest supporters. To maintain order and oversee the Coalition's interests, Prokofiev chose to leave Artem Churbanov behind as the leader of a support cell in Ekaterine. While he was shaken that he followed an ultimately capitalist path to power in Ekaterine, Prokofiev rationalized it by stating that it made him a practical man. Practical men, he figured, made for real revolutions: idealism could only carry the support of a handful of people. Nevertheless, the doubts and fears that his own ideological beliefs were changing continued to plague him throughout the revolution.
Pugachev was the movement's next destination, a large city northwest of Ekaterine and southwest of Berezina, the capital of Novistrana and Vasily Karasov's seat of power. In those times, the city of Pugachev was plagued by anti-government groups fomenting unrest, crime gangs warring for power in the streets, and ruthless competition between corrupt businesses that simply wanted to make a profit out of all the chaos.
The Novistranan Coalition had to make a mark in Pugachev, and to do that, they would have to make a choice as to which of these elements to subdue and conquer...
* * *
"All right, everyone, please listen up," Prokofiev clapped to his lieutenants after they had finished eating the takeout food dropped off by a loyal lookout outside of Veronika's. "As I mentioned earlier, I'd have made up my mind about who to leave behind here in Ekaterine while the rest of us depart for Pugachev."
"We're all willing to follow your will, Mr. Prokofiev," Baturin said with a small smile and a bow. Churbanov and Nasarov nodded.
"I'm glad to hear it, good Father," Prokofiev grinned. "Well, after considering our interests and who would be best for the job as our man in Ekaterine... I chose you, Artem."
Churbanov lowered his head and shook it slightly, but when he raised his head he was smiling sadly. "I figured as much, Piotr," the journalist said. "All things considered, I guess I really was the best for the job."
"As a matter of fact, yes you were," Prokofiev stated, giving the man a sympathetic look. "It wasn't too hard a decision. You've got strong roots to exploit here in Ekaterine thanks to your media contacts, and the business with the casino would probably be best in the hands of someone who actually knew how to negotiate in our best interests."
"Just don't go dipping into the money," growled Nasarov. "We need that to push our movement forward."
"I know, Josef, I know," Churbanov turned to nod with a smile at the unionizer, not offended by the warning. "I joined you as a thank you for freeing me from what could have been death. I stayed with you in order to get Karasov out of power."
"Our initial movements need to be done from the ground up," Prokofiev continued, tapping his temple in thought. "Union men like myself and Josef can get some solidarity quickly, and everyone is friendly to a kind priest, but amongst your circles, it takes a long time for any connection to bear fruit..."
"I understand," Churbanov nodded once more, raising his bandaged right hand. "You three, please be safe in Pugachev, OK? I'm no leader, I'm just a journalist with a wide net of friends."
"Do take care of yourself, Mr. Churbanov," Baturin clasped his hands and bowed to the man slightly. "I know that Ekaterine is safe in your hands."
Churbanov took Baturin's hand and shook it with both of his. When he turned to face Nasarov, the unionizer was already moving to grip his bandaged hand with a firm grasp, although he didn't mean to cause pain to the journalist.
"You just make sure you stay honest and out of jail, you understand?" Nasarov grumbled, then broke into a big, sad smile. "It really was a pleasure to work with you, comrade."
Churbanov had to blink away a tear not only because of the pain of getting his hand crushed by the burly Nasarov, but also because he was genuinely touched by his words.
"Stay safe, comrade," Prokofiev told Churbanov as he shook his uncut left hand. "You may not be a true believer in our cause, but I'd say you learned a lot to be a steward of revolution."
"That means a lot, it does," Churbanov nodded a few times. "I learned a lot from you and your movement. And when you get to Berezina and stare at that son of a bitch Karasov's beady little eyes before you throw him in a wagon, tell him Artem Churbanov says 'hello'."
"That I will, comrade," Prokofiev slapped his shoulder, then turned to his two lieutenants that would be accompanying him to Pugachev. "You two, start packing. We leave for Pugachev in one hour and I want to be there before morning."
"You got it!" Nasarov laughed, taking Baturin by the shoulder and leading them to their rooms as Prokofiev did the same to Churbanov as they walked into the main office.
"Now, my friend," explained Prokofiev, "here's what I need you to do..."
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Forty-first Entry: 09/03/1996
Pugachev. Historically the great Novistranan leaders hatched their schemes and shook up the country from here, back when it was the capital of Novistrana. Then war destroyed most of the old buildings and the USSR rebuilt it as an industrial town.
This is the perfect place to build a revenue stream that will carry us forward to Berezina. If we are to effectively combat Karasov we will need to establish ourselves here before moving on to the capital.
We have just entered the city limits. It is night-time, and our driver is being careful to not attract unwanted attention. Father Baturin is reading a pocket Bible, fingering his cross as his lips form his holy words. Josef is sleeping heavily in the front seat, his occasional snores snapping the good Father out of his spiritual meditation. I'd laugh if I wasn't so scared.
I am still as resolute as ever, and Baturin and Josef, should I somehow die, could carry the movement on their own. They are just as committed to this as I am, and it makes me proud, but I am scared. I do not know what to expect here. I visited Pugachev once when I was young, but my memories of it are marred. I know that as an adult, a revolutionary, I shouldn't be afraid of what is to come, but I can't help it.
This is a city engulfed in chaos, even if it has a shiny, clean surface. Crime is rampant, ruthless businesses perform shady deals in the alleys, and violent anarchists want to just tear the whole place apart. Pugachev is a city of sin, Father Baturin told me earlier. I trust his view on this. I must be prepared and expect the unexpected... or else our shared cause is as good as dead.
I am not sure what to do or where to begin, but what I am sure of is that I must begin, and that I must continue to push the Novistranan Coalition to its victory. I'll speak to my two comrades in the morning after they've gotten set up in their homes, but we must begin our plans right away before the political situation here somehow slips into the hands of another faction.
* * *
: All right, I hope you all found your own houses and set up properly?
: No troubles, Mr. Prokofiev.
: I got lost twice... This is one big city!
: It's also big trouble. We need to be prepared and come up with a proper plan of attack to take over this place, or else we're going to be wishing we stayed in Ekaterine.
: Well, before we came on the way here, I did a little bit of research with some of my friends and co-workers in the union. I may have an idea... If you can call it that.
: Go ahead.
: Pugachev's got a bit of a reputation, comrade, that I know you are aware of. This place is a hoodlum's paradise. There are gangs everywhere and I even heard that a faction calling themselves the Red Mafiya set up shop here a few years back. They basically run the underworld with an iron fist.
: So what's your idea?
: I hate to say this, but we could try building a crime syndicate of our own. The people here have been run roughshod so much by crime that a new gang on the block becoming the big player in town would make them loyal to us.
: That's a horrific plan, and shame on you for voicing it! I'm a servant of God, not of the Devil!
: I don't like it either, Father, but it's a definite possibility if we need to pull it off. It'd be a damn fast way to get to the top. Desperate times and all that, eh comrade?
: We are not petty thugs, we're a movement to free this country!
: I agree, I agree! We'd be... subtle about it. Keep our hands clean. Ugh. I hate myself for even suggesting it...
: Hmph. I hope we don't run out of options that crime is the only way out. I have a better idea than that.
: Let's hear it.
: I say we show the masses the extent of our benevolence and set up a charitable trust. With funds flowing in for good causes, a wealth of influential contacts and favors are bound to come our way.
: It certainly sounds doable, but it would take a while... And there's no guarantee it'd work.
: Patience is a virtue, Mr. Prokofiev. This will be a good way for us to win the affections of the people of Pugachev, especially as it compares so well with the dominant forces here.
: Hmm. It sounds good, if a bit on the pacifist side... but we have one more route open to us. Churbanov gave me this idea before we left.
: What's he got to say?
: He recommended we build a business empire. On top of the casino's profits, it would ensure a steady flow of income and resources for the duration of our campaign. He also tried to convince me that with more legitimate funding, we would probably be immune to any mud-slinging we did in Ekaterine.
: I can tell you hate the idea.
: Hate it? I loathe it! It's pure capitalist garbage that would go entirely against our beliefs!
: I'll say! The casino was already pushing it, but trying to make a monopoly? That's completely out of the picture.
: Wait, hold on, you two. I'll be honest and say that it's not a bad idea. What Churbanov says is true, and it would definitely work. I don't like having to follow the path of mammon to victory, but if it means a successful takeover of this city, I say we keep our minds open to it.
: I'm tired, Mr. Prokofiev, Mr. Nasarov. I'm tired of what Karasov has done to all of us in these past ten years. We need to look towards any path of victory. Even... ugh, even that crime syndicate claptrap could work... God forgive me for even considering it seriously.
: I... Listen, you two. Take the afternoon off to find your bearings and rest. I'll have to sit and think about this... and if it turns out that the idea I choose is bunk, we can redirect our efforts elsewhere.
: All right, comrade. We'll wait for your response.
: Indeed. Let us meet again after four o'clock?
: Sounds good, Father. All right. Go home, you two. Come back at four.
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Forty-second Entry: 09/03/1996
The path of crime... the path of charity... the path of business. These are my three options for taking over Pugachev. This time, I have no political prisoner to tell me what to do in order to safeguard a testimony of Karasov's crimes. I must forge my own path. This will define what the Novistranan Coalition stands for... and what I stand for.
I hope that my choice is not one I'll regret.
* * *
Welcome to Pugachev, comrades. The difficulty of the game increases sharply in this city not only because there are more districts, but because there are more power nodes (buildings that grant bonuses, I'll talk about them later) and more resources to gather. The AI is also a lot more aggressive than in Ekaterine, so inter-faction fighting is going to be messy.
This city's a mess, but it also offers our Coalition three choices to take over the town: crime, charity, or a little old-fashioned hostile takeover. Your first voting option is to decide what our eventual path should be. The game doesn't lock us out of the other options until we meet the objective requirements, so I'll be careful not to accidentally complete another objective. So what'll it be?
The path of crime (Force): Build our own criminal empire so that we can control the people in doing our bidding. Let them hate so long as they fear. This will put us primarily against the Red Mafiya faction.
The path of charity (Influence): Show our goodness to the people and give to those less fortunate. We'd do Emma Lazarus proud. This is going to drive us against the Organized Anarchy faction.
The path of business (Wealth): Take over the local businesses in Pugachev to burgeon our wealth and money pools. As Billy Idol sang, "I love you Mony, mo-mo-mony". The Konstantino Cartel won't like the competition, though.
Also, because this is a brand new big city and you've all been getting the gist of how this game operates, I have a second vote to (hopefully) spice my narrative and gameplay up. Tell me what our short-term goals should be in order to meet our chosen objective. Namely, how I should try to play the game in these early days so we can pursue our path? Your options are...
Scout: We need to know what's going on around us, and who is nearby that we can recruit. Dedicate ourselves to scouting for a while before we hire anyone, and play conservatively. (This will allow me to have a mass-style vote like last time for our next two lieutenants, but our start will be a bit slow).
Headhunt: Find whoever we can recruit and just fill our ranks ASAP. We can worry about firing them later! (I will force a vote next chapter with whatever characters are nearby after one game day of scouting).
Build Up: Plan for the future. Play it safe and focus on building support for our needed resources without necessarily targeting a specific faction. (I will focus on the districts that offer the chosen resource. New characters we can hire will be of that ideological slant.)
Attack: We must cripple our foes! Target the Red Mafiya, Organized Anarchy, or the Konstantino Cartel's support, then steal their support for ourselves. We should also Weaken some of their lieutenants. (I'll try to put up enemy inner circle members for recruitment voting.)
Wild Card: We must be unpredictable and not confine ourselves to a single plan. Let us roll with the city's punches. (It is a mystery...)