Part 13: Deadly Refusal
Chapter 13: Deadly Refusal
There is goon participation in this chapter!
The Pugachev police, with direction from then-Mayor Stefan Luzhkov, had been targeting the Novistranan Coalition ever since they arrived in the city. Piotr Prokofiev himself discovered the ties between Luzhkov and Arkady Ilyushin of the Red Mafiya and moved to sever the connection before it got out of hand.
Prokofiev planned on the grim work of blackmailing the mayor and exposing him to the press, but Ilyushin had other ideas...
* * *
: Welcome back, comrades! I missed your presence.
: Agreed, Mr. Prokofiev! I assume you've found the evidence necessary?
: That's right. Just as that aide said, Luzhkov was in the brothel that night.
: Haw! I bet you had a laugh with that, eh? Sending us to do the work while you scoped out the red light districts... You sly dog!
: *sigh* Mr. Prokofiev?
: Heheh. Yes, Father, I found what we needed. I took photos, notes, and even got a recording off him. Listen...
*Prokofiev takes out a tape recorder and presses the Play button.*
: OK. So what are you demanding, Mr. Ilyushin?
: Five thousand roubles guaranteed each night for each of us as long as that Coalition is in Pugachev, with an extra fifty thousand roubles at the completion of the job, again for each of us. You will hold your dogs off of us while we get our operations back in place, and make sure that asshole Alexashenko doesn't try to pull my men to his side.
: And in return?
: In return... Well, your idea of sicking the police on them was brilliant, so we'll eventually pay back part of the cost. Personally, you get to enjoy Roman's gold membership at his bar for life, ten percent of any profits we manage to bring in until you've gotten out of office, and the loyalty of the Red Mafiya in getting competition... out of the way.
: Hmm... Fifteen percent.
: Ten percent, Mr. Luzhkov, and no more.
: Ten percent. Do not make me say it again.
: Fine, ten.
: I'm glad I was able to... accommodate your wishes. Prokofiev and his dogs will be delivered to you.
: Karasov will thank you as well as I will. Now, where are those lovely ladies?
*The recorder clicks and Baturin makes the sign of the cross.*
: Lord help us and this city! The man is utterly corrupt!
: We've got a big problem on our hands. The Red Mafiya doesn't play nice.
: That was Arkady Ilyushin and the mayor talking, but the pictures I have here show all four of Arkady's lieutenants present. We'll need to confront the mayor with this and blackmail the hell out of him.
: Ilyushin got where he is by assassinating all of his rivals in a single night, comrade. We'll have to be very careful.
: I'll say! We certainly don't have the resources to protect ourselves against Ilyushin should he find where we live!
: Calm down, Father. We've faced scum like this in Ekaterine and in the ten years past. He can be won over by money, or by pressure. He mentioned Alexashenko... If I remember correctly he was one of Karasov's top generals and is stationed in Berezina. If Ilyushin is asking for the mayor's protection, it means that the Red Mafiya isn't as strong as we think it is.
: Either way we'll have to take this nice and easy. Never thought I'd be the one to say that.
: I'll speak with the Mayor tomorrow afternoon and get this wrapped up quickly and quietly. Luzhkov loves his cushy job, so if I went to the press with this he'd be out on the streets faster than you can seal a can.
: Very well, Mr. Prokofiev. I'll pray for your success.
: Yeah. We'll get back to work in the meantime.
* * *
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Arkady Ilyushin: Faction Leader (The Red Mafiya)
Arkady is the all-powerful head of the Red Mafiya. A highly intelligent but totally ruthless man, his exploits over the years are many and gruesome. He is not a man to cross.
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev walked down the sunny park in the southern part of Pugachev Central, thankful for the shade. The late winter sun shone brightly today, and while it was chilly, he was still sweating as he carried the box of incriminating material down the park's path. Already standing near a bench next to a large water fountain was Mayor Luzhkov, alone. He caught sight of Prokofiev and waved.
I'll have to be firm, Prokofiev thought to himself as he approached the Mayor. If I can't convince him to drop the attack on us, I may have to risk another round of investigation.
"Mayor Luzhkov, a pleasure," Prokofiev said without any hint of it whatsoever. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me."
"Do you know that I could call my men here on you now and send you off to our prison in one minute?" hissed Luzhkov, baring his teeth.
"I'm sure you could, but then these would be out in today's evening news," Prokofiev replied, lifting the box and giving it a small shake. "And don't think you can just take this from me. I made several copies of it."
"...All right. Let's take a seat and talk about this," Luzhkov said in frustration, but willing to listen.
The two men sat on the bench, and for the benefit of the man that was spying on him, Prokofiev took the mayor's hand and shook it. When the mayor stared in disgust, Prokofiev just tipped his head in the spy's general direction.
"I've done a little special forces reading, mayor," Prokofiev said, cracking a mirthless smile. "Now then, let's talk about your little midnight parties with the Red Mafiya."
"Are you trying to blackmail me?" Luzhkov spat, angered at Prokofiev's straightforwardness.
"Oh, no, I'm just here today to discuss zoning bylaws," Prokofiev answered with a sarcastically incredulous look, then returned to his humorless frown. "Of course I'm trying to blackmail you, you idiot. I want you to-"
"I'm not going to help you," the mayor said, getting up and preparing to leave.
"Sit down. Now."
Feeling chills running down his spine, Luzhkov did as he was told. Prokofiev smiled and the sun shone off one of his teeth. Luzhkov felt like a man trapped between a hungry tiger and a cliffside.
"I know that the Red Mafiya is promising you protection and a little taste of their illegal activities," Prokofiev said, opening the box and drawing out the cassette tape. He absentmindedly stroked the side of the tape as he continued. "You will call off the police attention on us and let us face the Red Mafiya on our own ground. You will also cease giving the Red Mafiya funding to attack us."
"Are you crazy?" the mayor snapped. Then he tried to appeal to Prokofiev's pity. "If I do that, Ilyushin will kill me."
"You have three options," Prokofiev replied, ignoring the mayor's plea and putting the casette tape back in the box. "Either risk cutting your losses and run with your money, trust the police to arrest Ilyushin and his lieutenants, or continue to deal with them and get your ass thrown out of that shiny City Hall of yours."
"Fuck you. Nobody's going to take your word for it over mine," sneered the mayor, somehow feeling a pool of resistance he didn't know he had. "The Pugachev Post's on my side. They wouldn't print anything like that."
"And why not?" asked Prokofiev, now taking a few photographs and ignoring the mayor's aggressions. He let the mayor get only hints of what they showed.
"Because I own them," Luzhkov answered after a few moments, but Prokofiev felt the hesitation. "I pay them off and get what I want."
"Care to say that a little louder and into my pocket?" Prokofiev replied, looking at the mayor and lifting his arm a little.
"Fuck you!" the mayor got up again, stressed out. Out of the corner of eye he saw his man step out with a gun, but Luzhkov shook his head at him.
"Calm down, calm down," Prokofiev shushed, getting the mayor in a tight hug. He kissed Luzhkov's cheek and then hissed in his ear, "Walk away from me and you'll be running out of Pugachev."
Luzhkov managed to break the hug. Prokofiev slapped his cheek lightly as if they were old friends and brushed off the mayor's shoulder.
"Last chance, Stefan," Prokofiev said, picking up and holding the box square in front of him. He extended it slightly to the mayor.
As Mayor Luzhkov fought to hold back visible shivers of fear and walked away feeling Prokofiev's burning gaze, the revolutionary sneered. He took out his heavy cell phone from his other jacket pocket and dialed a number. When the other line picked up, he spoke. "Hello, Artem? This is what happens when you fuck with a man of the people."
* * *
"Luzhkov! Stefan Luzhkov, open the door!"
Stefan Luzhkov had just finished slipping on his mayoral necklace when he heard the shouts outside, and he was in a foul mood. His wife was sobbing in their bed, holding on to that morning's edition of the Pugachev Post where the headline "Mayor Luzhkov sleeping with the Red Mafiya!" peeked from the folds of the front page. The two had a row earlier over the article's accusations of the mayor's pasttimes at night, and the already-strained marriage was about to snap.
"God fucking damn it, is that Arkady?" Luzhkov muttered to himself, turning to face the front door, then shouting, "I'm coming! Hold on!"
"Mayor! Stefan! Open the door!" Arkady Ilyushin, for it was indeed him, shouted again. He kicked the door fiercely before deciding to knock politely and call out at a lower volume. "Come out, Stefan. I already read today's paper."
"Shit!" hissed Luzhkov, feeling panic rise within him. "J-j-just a minute!"
"It's OK, Stefan! We'll work it out. I've got contacts of my own!" Ilyushin shouted through the door. Feeling this was enough, he turned around and faced his driver, a tough-looking man in a greasy white shirt and denim jacket who was lighting up a cigarette.
"Having problems?" the driver asked before taking a drag. He didn't appear the least bit concerned about the mayor's hesitation in coming out.
"He'll step out if he knows what's good for him, and-"
As if on cue, the mayor walked outside, visibly shaking. He waved lamely in an attempt to look normal, but a trained criminal like Ilyushin could tell the man was scared out of his mind.
Where is Hassan when I need him most? Luzhkov thought to himself as he walked outside. Well, at least this is a nice and open space, Ilyushin wouldn't-
"Comrade, comrade!" laughed Ilyushin in genuine delight, opening his arms wide partly out of friendship, and partly to show the mayor he was unarmed. "I'm so glad I could catch you before you ran off to your office!"
"I-I-I... Err, I'm glad too, r-really!" Luzhkov said, trying to force a smile to his face that didn't look like a pathetic wince. "W-what can I d-do for you this morning, Mr. Ilyushin?"
"Please, Stefan, call me Arkady! No need for formality amongst friends, eh?" Ilyushin laughed again, shaking the mayor's hands roughly with both of his. "What's with you this morning? You look so pale!"
"It's the p-paper, you see-"
"Ah yes, today's Post," nodded Ilyushin, interrupting the mayor. Behind him, his driver still smoked the cigarette, ignoring the two men. "Well, don't worry about it, we'll work it out. You see, I've got some friends in there that can help us, just like you do."
"Really?" Luzhkov asked, surprised at how... lightly Ilyushin was taking it.
"Of course! Our operations will continue as normal," Ilyushin said. "You'll keep giving us money and police support, you'll get to visit Roman's business and earn a little extra for your trouble. These accusations in the paper? Completely worthless. Who's going to believe any word of the Novistranan Coalition, anyway?"
"Yeah... yeah, you're right!" Luzhkov said, feeling his spirits go up a bit, then rebounding back into his old self. "They're just a bunch of rabble-rousers! They won't be able to do a thing, and next time we'll shut down the entire joint so none of those spies go and cause trouble for us!"
"Yes, next time," Ilyushin nodded, raising his voice slightly. "About that. I think we ought to split ways for a bit and not be seen together for a while, eh? Especially after that attempted blackmail yesterday?"
"B-blackmail? Are you sure?" Luzhkov asked, feeling the crawl of animal panic over him again. Alarm bells were blaring inside his head, but Ilyushin was just standing there, thoughtful. "I mean, we can t-talk by letter, or-"
"Don't worry," Ilyushin interrupted again, this time staring right into Ilyushin's eyes. "The Red Mafiya never forgets."
As he said this, Ilyushin knelt on the ground in front of Luzhkov as if awaiting a knighting. Luzhkov stared dumbly at the crime lord on his knee in front of him, and too late did he see the driver who had been smoking the cigarette pull out the chrome revolver and fire.
He felt the bullet pierce his heart for one agonizing moment, then saw nothing but darkness.
* * *
"I don't believe it," Baturin said, shaking. "What has that man done?"
"Jesus," Nasarov whispered, making the sign of the cross. "He didn't deserve to go like that."
"That fool!" snapped Prokofiev. "He could have walked away from this, but he thought he would still have the life of luxury he always dreamed of!"
"Pugachev is going to go up in flames," Baturin warned, looking up at Prokofiev. "They need to prop up a new Mayor, or this place is going to be torn apart by the factions."
"I need to tell Tresori what has happened, he will know what to do," Prokofiev said. He took another look at the newspaper photo of the dead mayor and snorted in disgust. "Looks like his years of double dealings have caught up to him."
Baturin and Nasarov just exchanged a silent glance.
* * *
Memos to Piotr Prokofiev - Tresori Vilnov's Recommendation: 15/03/1996
Comrade, you must be more careful in the future. Never take death lightly; it may be your undoing. It saddens me that the Red Mafiya got wind of what you were up to and silenced the Mayor before the truth could out.
However, we have no time to discuss your morality, or lack of it. The position of Pugachev City Mayor is open, and the committee will be making its decision soon. What better way to guarantee the continued success of the Novistranan Coalition than ensuring that the new mayor is sympathetic to your cause?
I have information about the three potential candidates; none of them have clean hands. Select one and do everything in your power to ensure that he is chosen for the job. I will see if I can pull some strings myself.
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Fifty-fifth Entry: 15/03/1996
Tresori, Tresori. Looks like you still don't agree with me that sometimes, people do deserve what they get. Still, you're right. I must take advantage of the city's confusion and complete our charity works. That way we can attract the attention of these candidates and install one of them as our favored friend, if not an outright puppet.
To do this, though, I must hire more men. The Red Mafiya has shown the extent of their cruelty, so I'll have to move our headquarters to someplace more secret and larger than the one we have now. I think I may be able to hire two more people with the house I have in mind, so I must revisit my dossiers and have Josef and Father Baturin help me select the right men for our movement.
* * *
The Red Mafiya has forced our hand by killing Mayor Luzhkov. We need to act quickly to set up our charities and then prop up a mayor of our own choosing, but we'll need more loyal men! Thanks to our dedicated scouting, Piotr and Josef have unlocked all recruitable characters in Pugachev. For this goon vote, please pick your top five choices for our next two lieutenants, specifying your order of preference. Just like in Ekaterine, I'll try to hire the top two people voted on using a single Recruit Character action. Failure to hire a character means I move on to the next person on the voting list. Ties will be decided by preference order, and then by similar ideology to us (Influence now, due to charity choice and current actions in-game).
Here are your choices...
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Igor Bubolenko: Criminal
Igor is a simple-minded man and loves his life of thuggery. Just tell him what needs hitting, when and where and he's a happy man.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Micky Gusev: Criminal
Micky Gusev is a well-respected man in certain circles in Pugachev. Firm but fair, he is best known for his love of poker and people from all walks flock to play in his big-money games. However, woe betides anyone who fails to cough up what they owe.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Roman Leonov: Criminal
Roman is a real slimy character, he is always on the lookout for the easy road and the better deal. He is usually to be found at his club, the Roman Bar, a members-only strip club that is a popular haunt for local businessmen and criminals alike. Naturally, it doubles as a cover for his main business concern - prostitution.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Boris Churnyeav: Military
Lt. Churnyeav has spent a long career in the army. After receiving a battlefield commission during the Grodnistan War, this brute of a soldier became an officer. He is known as a tough but fair man.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Gleb Ignatev: Police
A retired army soldier, Ignatev has made the transfer to the police force where he has settled in just fine. He knows that it's far easier to accept the bribes and the pay-offs, rather than causing trouble - and besides, the wages aren't so hot!
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Nikita Manakov: Police
Nikita Manakov is a nasty, sadistic piece of work with a great fondness for quiche and hard living. He is not a man you'd ever want to meet, particularly in an early morning raid, when the withdrawal symptoms are just starting to kick in.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Guri Ikramov: Union
Guri Ikramov is a tireless campaigner for workers' rights. He is often to be seen at the front of marches and protests bellowing into a megaphone.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Evgeney Federov: Academic
Evgeney is a well-known political activist at the Pugachev Institute of Technology. He commands the respect of many of his fellow students and has rumored links with the underground Organized Anarchy group.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Grigorii Kalinov: Academic
Grigorii Kalinov is a local activist with strong opinions on many issues. Sadly his impetuous temper and lack of maturity means that he is often ignored, although with guidance he has the potential to become an useful person.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Filipp Akimov: Politician
Filipp Akimov is one of the most notorious characters in Pugachev, having won his seat by offering to pay everyone who voted for him five roubles. His election pledge was to clean up drugs and crime - which he duly did, getting rid of all his competitors.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Gennadi Ermalov: Politician
Gennadi has long been suspected of being a supporter of the anti-government group Organized Anarchy, although he is very careful to cover his tracks and links with them.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Ignatii Goryachev: Politician
Ignatii Goryachev is a veteran of Novistranan politics, yet his staunchly independent stance means that he has never arisen further than that of local councilor.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Fedor Baburin: Priest
Fedor's reasons for getting into the Church are unclear, as he seems more interested in amassing his fortune and increasing his fame. He currently broadcasts regular sermons on Novistranan TV and models himself on US TV evangelists.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Aleksei Satarov: Business
Aleksei Satarov is the CEO of Satarov Plastics. The newly formed joint-venture with western capital investment has been created to take advantage of Novistrana's oil reserves.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Dmitri Yakovenko: Business
A former state prosecutor specializing in fraud cases, Yakovenko gave up his legal profession to use his knowledge of the Novistranan monetary system inside-out to great financial advantage.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Danila Belinsky: Celebrity
Danila Belinsky is a rising TV celebrity, having just landed a job as the presenter for a public debate show.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Kuzma Kalinin: Celebrity
Kuzma Kalinin is a former Olympic Wrestling champion. He has now retired and is a presenter for Novistrana's 'Over-Easy', the most popular breakfast TV show in Novistrana.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Nikanor Karpin: Media
Nikanor has just graduated and is a keen reporter looking to make his big break. He's hoping that the momentous times are going to offer many opportunities.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Felix Lavanov: Media
There are some who think that Felix's days are numbered, that it is only a matter of time before the secret police cart him away forever, but Felix seems to have a natty method of surviving even though his regular satirical column pokes fun and exposes the current regime for what it is. Karasov just thinks it's all just light-hearted humor.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Petr Manakov: Media
Petr Manakov writes a regular column in the Berezina Herald. He is renowned for his conservative views and rants about the loss of decency and family values in Novistrana.
Again, choose five men and the top two will (hopefully) be hired. Choose wisely!