Part 19: Owning the Means of Production
Chapter 19: Owning the Means of Production
The Red Mafiya oppressed the poor through crime and fear, and breaking that oppressive hold was essential for the Novistranan Coalition. Baturin's charity trust could feed the poor and help them on the day to day, but as long as the crime syndicate was on its feet, it could sabotage the operations and tear down the entire charity if given enough time.
Content that the charity was able to hold its own with Kamensky's donation, Prokofiev made the decision to move against the Red Mafiya. Learning from Mayor Antonov that Ilyushin and his men used warehouses to store and smuggle contraband into the city, Prokofiev devised a plan to find and buy out the warehouses, seizing them for the Coalition. The hard part would be to convince the corrupt owners to part with their establishments and divert the Red Mafiya's attention...
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Seventy-fourth Entry: 22/03/1996
I have decided that targeting the Red Mafiya now would be ideal. The fundraising dinner and Anton Kamensky's donation have propped our charity work's feet enough that I do not need to worry about the details. Grigorii Antonov, now Mayor, has given us a golden opportunity to wipe out that ruthless crime syndicate and bring the poor and working class to our side. It would be foolish to seek the help of celebrities if we can strike back at our opponents.
Josef and Churnyeav continue to worry me. They seem to have taken my decision to keep Lavanov personally, and when Father Baturin talked about chasing those celebrities' endorsements of our charity, Josef really got angry. I hope he sees that when we've got those celebrities on our side, we do not need to worry about the charity anymore.
* * *
: So what's our move?
: We're taking out the Red Mafiya. I've had enough of them, and now that we know what to look for, we can start to take them out.
: Excellent. How do we go about doing it?
: We need to find those warehouses that the Mafiya uses to keep their smuggled goods. It wouldn't do to explore in the morning, so now that night's kicking, we ought to hit the streets and find those warehouses. Use whatever strategy you find best.
: Ah, that's what I like to hear!
: Mr. Prokofiev, not to challenge your decision, but the Red Mafiya will still be around if you don't attack them. These celebrities may leave at any time, and it'll be some time before we find a suitable replacement.
: Father, I say screw those D-list stars and we get back to basics. If the Post is right, they'll be partying for a while.
: Hmph, Red Mafiya or celebrities, I guess it's all good with me. I take it you'll be needing me?
: That's right, Lavanov. You, me, and Churnyeav will hit the streets tonight and search for anything suspicious. Father, you and Josef take care of our support in the north. Organized Anarchy and the Konstantino Cartel have been hitting us hard up there as of late.
: Details of the operation, sir?
: Churnyeav, you'll be checking things out at Natanson Town. Lavanov, you survey the Soloviev Estate since it's flanked by two districts full of the elite. I'll be scouting around Aleksandrovsk Industrial Park. If you two find anything you call me right away, understand?
: Yes sir!
: Of course, taskmaster.
: Let's move out.
* * *
"Well, well, well," Lavanov muttered, glancing at the warehouse across the street from him. "Guess I'm the first one to make a find."
The cavernous storage warehouse was owned by Chino's Fine Italian Fashion Importers. Chino was the business name of Inessa Malakhova, a greasy-looking importer whose greatest concern about middle age was going bald. Lavanov had asked around and paid off the right people, and they had led him to Malakhova's warehouse as a hotspot of Red Mafiya activity. Malakhova was directly involved with the smuggling, getting a cut of the profits and pre-shipment deposits so he could "accidentally" lose some of his legitimate goods and be able to pay off the cost from the manufacturers.
According to the paid off employees and vagrants on the street, the Red Mafiya was passing stolen goods and counterfeits through this building and selling them off. Perhaps they were using Malakhova's clothing shop as a front?
"Not my business, and not what I came here for," Lavanov reminded himself, quickly taking a picture of the warehouse and marking its address on his notepad. As he pocketed his notepad and walked away, he couldn't help but snicker at the thought of Malakhova desperately trying to comb over a bald spot that covered his entire head while Red Mafiya goons were hauling boxes around him.
* * *
The battered Red Mafiya gangster was lying on the ground and had spat out blood and two teeth before he confessed that TKZ Distribution, owned by Victor Samsonov, was where Churnyeav should be looking.
"Thanks, punk," was all Churnyeav said before he brought his boot down on the bloodied man's head one last time.
Feeling that familiar rush that came after dealing a good beating to greaseballs, Churnyeav euphorically marched around the great warehouse, humming a tune as he scoped out potential ambush spots and sneaked over to see what was going on in the warehouse's lot.
He saw a large white truck offloading crates full of contraband (most likely, thought Churnyeav) while a group of cold-looking suits oversaw the entire operation. While the white truck disgorged its contents rapidly at the hands of burly-looking workers, a smaller red truck parked nearby was receiving smaller crates, sacks, and briefcases from the warehouse. Other men in suits were carrying these containers.
"Money, no doubt," Churnyeav told himself before turning around and watching the action via a store window's reflection. He had attracted the eye of one of the suited guards, and before he made himself any more conspicuous he pretended to be interested in something else.
Presently the suit turned around again, satisfied that Churnyeav was just passing by. After a minute more of watching the reflection, Churnyeav walked away, taking out a cell phone as he did so.
* * *
Prokofiev's phone rang, and he quickly answered before one of the guards spotted him.
"Sir, it's Churnyeav. I found one."
"Excellent work, comrade. Lavanov called me earlier to tell me the same thing."
"Any luck on your end?"
"Yes, I'm watching them now," Prokofiev told the veteran as he peeked around the corner again, watching the action unfolding ahead of him. "A few Red Mafiya guys are here dropping off some goods. If my information is right, they're going to pass this stuff on to some seedy bars later tonight."
"Where are you now?"
"Nikolai Kropotkin's Plant Hire. The man lends heavy machinery and other tools to local building firms and projects," Prokofiev listed off, glancing at his notepad. "Apparently he's one of the Red Mafiya's favorite go-to guys for their storage and sales."
"So we have three places so far?"
"I think three's enough," Prokofiev told the soldier. "Taking control of these warehouses will cripple the Mafiya enough for us to move in and cut their head off."
"Good to hear, sir. We'll talk in the morning. Churnyeav out."
"Goodbye, comrade," Prokofiev said, hanging up and taking out his trusty camera. He snapped a few photos of the action unfolding ahead of him, and smiled grimly. He would have to move quickly.
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Seventy-fifth Entry: 22/03/1996
I have found three places where the Red Mafiya moves their goods. The next step is to seize these warehouses by force, if necessary, but I can't do it without hiding the takeovers first.
I've called our lower-level supporters in Natanson Town and Aleksandrovsk Industrial Park to enforce a code of silence about our operations. They are union men like myself, so they were willing to keep their mouths shut and misdirect any Red Mafiya lackey. I'll need to ask Lavanov and maybe even Father Baturin to pay off and cover up our operations in the Soloviev Estate.
I can't let the Red Mafiya know of our plans. By misdirecting them we'll not only keep our takeovers hidden, but we'll also be able to convince those bourgeois business owners that they do not need to fear the Red Mafiya's reprisals for selling their businesses to us. Just in case, though, I ought to get some muscle to help me out. I know how protective these kind of men can get with their properties...
* * *
A chilly night had once again blanketed the city of Pugachev. Shivering slightly against the late March cold, Prokofiev glanced left and right for any curious onlookers. A small black limousine was parked in front of him, but he ignored it. He took out a phone, making a quick call.
"Josef? It's time."
Prokofiev glanced at his watch after the phone was put away. One minute before Inessa Malakhova exited the warehouse to take a night walk before that day's shipment came in.
The visionary took another couple of glances around him, then took out the pistol he had acquired earlier that day, brandishing it in the moonlight. He checked it over to see if it was loaded, then stuck it behind his back once again. He looked at his watch. Ten seconds.
A metallic clang rang out through the street. Prokofiev glanced at the front door of the warehouse, and sure enough, there was Inessa "Chino" Malakhova himself.
"Hey, Chino!" shouted Prokofiev, getting the warehouse owner's attention. Malakhova confusedly looked at Prokofiev, who was waving him over to see him. "Chino, I need to talk business!"
"What do you want?" demanded Malakhova, now upset at the interruption and walking over to meet the heckler trying to flag him down.
"Chino, my comrade! I have a wonderful proposition for you," Prokofiev began, all smiles and treacle. "I am Ivan Danilov, I've just moved to Pugachev to expand my business. Could I have a moment of your time?"
"What do you want?" repeated Malakhova, but nicely this time. He self-consciously reached for the bald spot on his head, fidgeting uselessly with a few strands of hair that circled his shiny dome.
"Chino, old chum, I hate wasting time, so I cut straight to the chase," 'Danilov' continued. "I wish to buy this wonderful warehouse of yours right away. It's just the perfect location for my car showroom!"
"Uh, excuse me?" Malakhova asked, confused again. "You want to...?"
"Buy you warehouse, yes," the fake industrialist completed, immediately taking out a fat wad of cash. "I have here 30000 roubles, my good man, and I want you to sell me this warehouse post-haste."
"Now hold on," Malakhova said, backing away from Prokofiev and the money as if they were a weapon. "I can't sell you my warehouse for just 30000 roubles... hell, I can't sell it to you at all!"
"No, you hold on, good man," 'Danilov' pressed, still holding the cash out. "I know you are looking for some money without any strings, so here, I'm offering you a way out right now! Do you want to talk business?"
"No!" Malakhova declared, reaching for his bald spot. "You're nuts! This place is worth at least a hundred grand, no less! And even then, I can't sell it to you! Go away!"
Prokofiev dropped his smile and sighed. He put away the cash and said, "So, is that how it's going to be?"
Before Malakhova could answer, Prokofiev whistled, pointing at the black limousine and calling someone inside.
Two tough-looking thugs stepped out of the limo, one carrying a baseball bat and the other a clipboard with a transfer of ownership form attached to it. Malakhova immediately leaped back away from the car.
"What the hell is this?" he demanded of Prokofiev. "What are you doing?"
"Enough with the games," sneered the revolutionary. "I couldn't try to play the role of a rich man like yourself. I want your warehouse, bald man, and I'm offering you thirty thousand to sign that contract and walk away."
"Are you crazy? Do you know who I am? Do you know who uses that warehouse?" Malakhova cried, pointing at the warehouse behind Prokofiev.
"Yes. The Red Mafiya uses it as a smuggling center. No, don't act so surprised," continued Prokofiev when Malahkova's eyes widened. "You think you can live the fast life at the expense of those murderers? I don't think so."
"W-what do you want?" Malakhova asked one last time, sweat shining his bald head.
"Are you an idiot?" sighed Prokofiev, shaking his head. "I already told you. I want this warehouse. Sign the contract and take this damn money."
He held out the wad of bills again. A single bead of sweat ran down Malakhova's head, and the thug with the baseball bat gave a dumb laugh like only the best brutes could gurgle.
"I-I can't!" Malakhova said, stepping back again. "T-the Red Mafiya, they'll kill me for doing that! They're arriving in thirty minutes!"
"They're not making their rounds tonight," Prokofiev said. "Trust me, I took care of that. They also won't know what you did until next week. Now sign the contract."
"N-no... I can't! Please, I can't help you!"
Prokofiev sighed again, shaking his head. "You don't make this easy, do you?"
He reached behind him, whipping out the pistol and pointing it at Malakhova.
"How about now?" snarled Prokofiev. "Do you feel like helping me now!?"
"Oh shit!" Malakhova yelped, raising his hands and trying to run away, but the baseball bat thug grabbed him roughly and threw him back in front of Prokofiev, who nonchalantly held the pistol at his side.
"Mr. Malakhova," Prokofiev began, tapping the pistol at his own chest, "I am not trying to rob you. I'm only making you an offer that you may find unfavorable."
"Don't bother trying to walk out of this one," Prokofiev continued, letting rage creep into his voice. "Either your brains or your signature are going to be on that contract!"
Prokofiev immediately raised the pistol straight at Malakhova's face, and the businessman instinctively reached for the sky. His knees were shaking and his sweat was dropping, but it was the reek of urine that made Prokofiev cough.
"God damn it," Prokofiev cursed, keeping the pistol trained on the bald warehouse owner, "you couldn't take a piss before going for a jog?"
"Y-you can't, the R-Red Mafiya..." Malakhova tried to say before Prokofiev laughed.
"They'll kill you, right?" the revolutionary said, still grinning. "Take my money and sign the contract. They will not bother you for a week. After that time, I suggest you get out of Pugachev and maybe out of the country." He put away the pistol and took out the wad of cash. When Malakhova didn't immediately move to grab it, Prokofiev's face contorted into anger. "Do it!"
Almost scampering, Malakhova grabbed the cash and pocketed it. Prokofiev turned away and let the thugs deal with the details.
"Sign on the X's," the thug with the clipboard instructed patiently and with an air of intelligence as Prokofiev walked away. "By signing this contract you agree that your warehouse will pass on to Mr. Prokofiev's ownership and that all insurance will therefore be following Article V of the Novistranan Commerce Clause..."
* * *
Nikolai Kropotkin had whipped out a MAC-10.
God damn it, that's all that I needed, sighed Prokofiev as Kropotkin brandished it and caused Prokofiev's thugs to step back.
"Not so tough with that little pea-shooter now, are ya?" snarled Kropotkin with a smug expression on his face. "Yeah, not so tough when you got this fucker on your face, huh? Step back, damn it!"
"Mr. Kropotkin, I highly recommend you put away your gun before someone gets hurt," Prokofiev tried to calm the man down, putting his pistol back behind his back.
"Oh, now you decide to be fucking polite, you goddamn scab?" Kropotkin cursed, wildly waving the MAC-10 around. "I'm not stupid! You don't think I didn't hear what you made Samsonov and Malakhova do yesterday? Well, you can't buy me out like them!"
"Please, Mr. Kropotkin, put it away," Prokofiev said, now with the tone of threat. "I do not want to hurt you."
"Haha, how are you gonna hurt me?" taunted Kropotkin before he pointed the MAC-10 at the other two thugs. "Step back, fuckers!"
When the gun was facing away from Prokofiev, he immediately leaped forward and gripped Kropotkin's arm. Prokofiev snapped his left fist down on Kropotkin's wrist, breaking the businessman's hold on the MAC-10. Crying in pain, Kropotkin dropped the submachine gun and the bat-yielding thug quickly kicked it away from the fight.
Prokofiev released Kropotkin after a quick headbutt on the businessman's nose. Now dazed and bleeding, Kropotkin slowly raised his arms as Prokofiev whipped out his pistol again.
"I warned you, Mr. Kropotkin," Prokofiev admonished. "Now, I suggest you take my money and sign the contract like the other two men have."
Reaching forward, Kropotkin drunkenly grabbed the cash and turned to the goon with the clipboard, who began to describe in detail where to sign and the intricacies of the contract. Prokofiev walked away, taking out his phone and calling the headquarters.
"Hello, Churnyeav? I've gotten the warehouses at Aleksandrovsk, Soloviev, and Natanson. Mission accomplished."
"Great work, sir! Now what do we do?"
"Right now? We can't do anything just yet," admitted Prokofiev as he stopped to tell the details. "The Red Mafiya's going to suffer this one for a good while, but we need to wait until we get further intelligence from the Mayor's office."
"Oh come on, sir, let me talk to some of their goons!" begged Churnyeav on the other end of the line. "I can be very persuasive."
"I know you can," Prokofiev said, looking over his shoulder at Kropotkin signing the contract dutifully. "Right now, though, I need for us to meet up at headquarters to discuss our next move. Contact the others."
* * *
: You work fast, don't you?
: My friends at the Post are always willing to give me an ear, taskmaster.
: And an arm and a leg, I bet.
: What would I do with all of those dismembered body parts, union-man? Unlike you and the jarhead, I don't fancy bathing in blood.
: Mr. Nasarov, Mr. Lavanov, please. What is our next plan, Mr. Prokofiev?
: We're going to move on those celebrities now. The Red Mafiya has-
: Wait, what? I thought we didn't need them anymore, Piotr.
: No, Josef, we need them. We can't use those warehouses to get funds for our charity, especially not to spread it to other cities.
: Hell yes we can! Leave it to me and some friends from the unions here and we'll-
: Josef, enough! We've cracked heads and smashed the Mafiya. Until we get more details, we are going to follow our original plan and complete our charity trust.
: All we did was seize some warehouses! The Mafiya is not dead yet!
: Sir, he's right. They're still out there, and they'll be pissed.
: I know they will, which is why we need the help of the workers and you two to keep an eye on them. But now we need to concentrate on those celebrities.
: Damn it, Piotr, what's so important about them?
: Mr. Nasarov, if we have celebrity endorsements, we will make the charity trust a complete reality and show everyone how the Novistranan Coalition cares for the people.
: Excuse me, robes? Is that before or after we go around taking over businesses owned by crime syndicates?
: Sir, I've just about had enough with this maggoty son of a-
: Churnyeav, Lavanov, drop it now! We are not here to fight each other! Now get back to work while I check out these celebrities. Lavanov, I'm going to need you to seek out Dieter Hazard at the Grand Hotel to-
: Piotr, god damn it! Isn't Kamensky enough?
: No, Josef, he isn't. Now quit questioning my orders!
: ...You are not the same man I knew ten years and a month ago, Piotr.
: Come on, Churnyeav. Let's go do our jobs. For the people, that is.
: Yeah, yeah, okay.
: Mr. Nasarov...
: We'll talk later, Father.
: Mr. Prokofiev...?
: ...Go, Father. We need to get to work.