Part 12: Covert Operations
Chapter 12: Covert Operations
Upon arriving in Pugachev, the inner circle of the Novistranan Coalition decided to make their presence subtle and observant rather than overtly assaulting the established factions. Prokofiev and Nasarov figured that they could use their scouting talents and common connections with the city's workers to get a sense of who was in charge of what, while Baturin busied himself by preaching in open courtyards in an attempt to obtain knowledge of any possible new lieutenants that could join them in a leadership level.
Further, Baturin's idea of holding charity work was thought to be the best approach to help the poor and oppressed of Pugachev. With both his face in the public eye and ideas of goodwill becoming the Coalition's goal, the good priest became well-known to the citizens of the city. Pugachev today has a small church blessed by Baturin himself, and many were persuaded to devote time and money to Eastern Orthodox Christianity thanks to him.
Whether Prokofiev or Nasarov were upset by Baturin becoming the face of the Novistranan Coalition in Pugachev's early days is unknown. Prokofiev remained practical in his approach and seemed to be more concerned with political machinations than with fame. Nasarov continued to work his trade with the workers and whipped them into unionizing. Both were worried about the attention they were getting from the other factions...
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Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Forty-third Entry: 09/03/1996
I have decided that it's best we show kindness and be charitable rather than trying to take over this city by crime or by money. Baturin's idea of holding charity work throughout the city resonates nicely with both our image and the money we'll be getting from Ekaterine's casino. While the crime syndicate would be a good idea to get the help of the desperate, I don't know if we'd have the power to make it respectable and organized rather than chaotic and hated. I hardly need to write about that God-awful business takeover plan.
Our initial steps here in Pugachev must be soft and cautious. According to a few contacts I have here, the police have been stepping up their operations ever since I held that rally in Ekaterine. I think they're expecting us, and without a good support base and knowledge of this city, we may misstep and fall into their hands permanently. I must tell Josef to dedicate some time to investigating the area with me, and tell Father Baturin to begin evangelising in our home district to draw out any interested men and women that can join our inner circle.
Time to invest in a good notebook and a new phone.
* * *
: So, what's our plan?
: We're going to run with your charity idea, Father. It's probably for the best that we take over this city with goodwill instead of force.
: That's good to hear.
: I hope we're not straying from our roots, Piotr. We don't want to be seen as... what was it you keep saying? Bourgeois? Yeah, we don't to be looking like that for too long.
: I understand, Josef. Lately we've been on a path of peace and money, but we can worry about our standing with the common people after we've gotten a foothold here.
: All right, should we start our charity work right away?
: No, not yet, Father. I want you to go out there and make yourself known. You don't have the, shall I say, roughness that Josef and I do, so once you start getting a new flock, we'll worry about the charities.
: What about me?
: I've got a map of the city here... Josef, you and I are going to do a little bit of investigation. We need to lay low and let Father Baturin set the stage, but while we stay out of the public eye, we should go around and find out what's what in Pugachev.
: What about canvassing for our worker's rights platforms?
: Let's worry about finding suitable places first. I want us to concentrate on finding as many new recruits as possible. I'll give you permission to drop out of the scouting and pull a little midnight move with a spray can or canvassing board soon, though.
: Just as well, thank you. This city's pretty wild. We'll need to latch on what we can if we're going to be doing a lot of snooping instead of striking.
: All right, you two. Let's go to work.
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Forty-third Entry: 10/03/1996
Things seem to be going well.
Father Baturin has begun his movement to gain the hearts and minds of the Pugachev middle-class. The lack of a church here means a lot of needy souls with a yearning to be saved, and the good Father is able to work his magic with ease.
Josef and myself have been hitting the streets from day to night, finding what and who we can. There are plenty of possible recruits, but I'm more interested in finding out what kind of opposition we're facing.
However, attempting to lay low is not working as well as I hoped. The Red Mafiya and the Organized Anarchy faction have been chipping away at our base of support. They have more resources and men than we do, so it's all we can do in order to tread water here. I think that the problem lies in the police: I swear I saw one tailing me a few hours ago, and Josef called me on the phone to let me know someone was following him as well. It's likely they're sabotaging our efforts, but doing so through the other factions.
The silver lining is that we can use these actions against them. The people of Pugachev are sick of dirty politics. Josef has been doing a wonderful job of pointing this out to the people, and Father Baturin remains as severe as ever.
I think we can carry on as we are for at least another three or four days. After that it'll be too risky to stay hidden in the shadows.
Memos to Piotr Prokofiev - Tresori Vilnov's Alert: 10/03/1996
My student, my comrade, I hope this reaches you in Pugachev well, and that you remain a diligent ally of the working class. I have recently received your letter to me, and I must warn you should you have already arrived in Pugachev.
Your party is receiving a lot of police attention recently, though you may not hear of it directly. Your campaign is likely suffering as a result. My contacts in Pugachev tell me that police strategy is being directed from City Hall and that the Mayor himself requested a crackdown on the Novistranan Coalition. This is likely because of your rally in Ekaterine, so Karasov must be making his initial moves to deal with you.
I suggest you gather as much information as possible and then move to neutralize this threat.
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Forty-fourth Entry: 10/03/1996
Tresori, you wonderful devil! It seems I was right: the police really is attempting to undermine our efforts in Pugachev, even before we begin our large-scale attack on the other factions. I must put my investigations on hold for the moment and see what this is all about.
Tresori tells me that City Hall is responsible. I could go and ask around in there: perhaps I could find someone willing to help me. In either case, Josef and Father Baturin must be careful not to run afoul of the police or the military. We're probably being hit so hard because the other factions are being bought off.
* * *
: What's the matter, Mr. Prokofiev? You called us back so quickly.
: Yeah, comrade. Is something wrong with what we're doing?
: No, my friends. This is something entirely out of our control... for now.
: What's going on?
: The police are on our trail. I've been feeling paranoid about our actions lately, and it seems I was right.
: I knew it! No wonder people seemed to be so scared to be talking to us! Why, just last night I got thrown out of a shop because-
: Mr. Nasarov, please, this isn't the time. Mr. Prokofiev, what do you suggest we do?
: I snooped around the City Hall. I think I found our out, but we're going to need to bide our time until then.
: What's our "out"?
: I found a young man by the name of Timofei Ignatov in City Hall. He's the aide to Mayor Stefan Luzhkov himself. He gave me this memo a few minutes after I spoke to him.
: Now that's mighty handy!
: Power corrupts, but it seems that this may be in our favor after all.
: We still have three days before we meet the mayor's "dinner date". What we need to do until then is continue snooping around. This city is a lot seedier than I thought.
: You must not have been thinking much of it, eh?
: The police harassment worries me. I think it'll be best if I give you two free reign on your activities and we three remain isolated from each other until I go check out Vesnin Town's brothels for any trace of the mayor.
: Are you sure this is a wise move, Mr. Prokofiev? We'll be unable to coordinate our efforts if we do that...
: I didn't mean completely isolated, Father. I want us to communicate in memos, no phones. Use only couriers you trust to run messages between each other. If all goes according to plan, I'll let you two know, and to meet me back here in headquarters in three days.
: As you wish, Mr. Prokofiev. Be careful.
: Yeah... I don't like this place at all, comrade.
: Neither do I, Josef, but we'll have to do what we must. Now let's get out of here.
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Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Fifty-first Entry: 13/03/1996
Well, well, well. Not only is Mayor Luzhkov frolicking about with the women of the night, he's also working directly with our foes!
I visited Madam Petroviak's House of Pleasure and found exactly what I was looking for, even if the implications of it disturb me.
It seems that Mayor Luzhkov is meeting with high-ranking members of the Red Mafiya, and it certainly explains the harassment we've been suffering of late. The Novistranan Coalition must be of some concern to the crime family, and the police must be working with them. However, now that I've got proof of the mayor's ties with the Red Mafiya, I should meet with him and threaten to expose him. If I play my cards right, I should be able to diffuse the situation without any major altercation and call off the police on us.
Time to meet with Father Baturin and Josef in person again to discuss strategy...
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Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Stefan Luzhkov: Politician
Stefan Luzhkov holds the position of Mayor of Pugachev. The position is one of absolute governor and it is not an elected role. Luzhkov will do anything to keep his position and to make his life as easy as possible, even if that means taking slightly illegal shortcuts.