Part 23: A Patriotic Education
Chapter 23: A Patriotic Education
There is goon participation in this chapter!
During the beginning of the Novistranan Coalition and New Peace Party split, Piotr Prokofiev quickly recognized that Boris Churnyeav, now working for Josef Nasarov, was the key to ending the feud quickly and quietly. Despite his talents in organizing the unions and manipulating propaganda, Nasarov never bothered to develop himself further than an unionizer. He lacked recruiting talent and trust to bring someone to an inner circle level.
Boris Churnyeav, on the other hand, had the presence and the experience to intimidate others into doing his bidding. His military training and experience in battle as a soldier left him scarred, tough, and wrathful, if need be. Given time and guidance from Nasarov, Churnyeav could combine these three talents to press others into the NPP's service.
Prokofiev made it his goal to return Churnyeav to the fold as soon as possible and moved to replace Nasarov's space with another recruit. Evgeney Federov, a member of Organized Anarchy like Felix Lavanov was, would be an ideal replacement temporarily, and if need be, permanently. Federov was a well-known, respected, and popular political activist at the Pugachev Institute of Technology. His academic leanings would be perfect for framing the Novistranan Coalition's message in an intellectual context.
Having made his decision, Prokofiev moved to recruit Churnyeav and Federov while the satirist Lavanov and the good priest Oleg Baturin chipped away at the NPP's support base, but the Red Mafiya was not going to let this golden opportunity to expand go to waste...
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Eighty-eighth Entry: 29/03/1996
The strategizing with Father Baturin and Lavanov was fruitful, and we've come up with a simple plan of attack. I must act quickly and attempt to retrieve Boris Churnyeav to our banner. Lavanov, strangely enough, was the one who suggested this idea. Despite the rivalry between the two men, it appears to be largely one-sided, and Lavanov was very clear in stating that the work he did with us was just business. Churnyeav, he figured, ultimately made his own job easier by being a brute of a man who could clearly get his way when subtle pay-offs were out of the question. I have to grudgingly agree with Lavanov: Josef may not have the charm or the headhunting capabilities to recruit a third man to his cause, but Churnyeav can certainly intimidate people, and given the time, he could drag someone to help the New Peace Party just by threatening harm.
Our strategy is, ironically enough, to return to the status quo. I need to convince Churnyeav that we are still who we say we are, but that's not going to be easy considering how much he hates Lavanov's guts and has been fawning over Josef's forceful approach to things lately. But before that, I'm going to try to persuade another man to join us: Evgeney Federov. I was looking over his dossier when I remembered what Lavanov said about the activist, that he was supposed to be the real leader of Organized Anarchy here in Pugachev. It should definitely be easier to convince him to join us than Churnyeav. After all, Organized Anarchy has been weak as of late, and this must be frustrating to its members. It's time to shake things up.
Josef, I'm sorry, but I can't let the revolution falter. Not now.
* * *
Nighttime in Pugachev. Not a month ago, any honest law-abiding citizen would not be caught walking the streets at night for fear of muggings, gang violence, anti-government plottings, or sadistic policemen who wanted to satiate their brutality. But now, a relative peace reigned the streets. Alleys were safer and more inviting. Hoodlums and criminals seemed to be hibernating. The authorities were restrained and civil. Nobody could quite pinpoint the source of the change, but Evgeney Federov could: the election of Mayor Grigorii Antonov, and the arrival of Piotr Prokofiev with the Novistranan Coalition.
Federov glanced up at the night sky. Looked like rain was coming, but a calm one. A few clouds here and there, the moon shining brilliantly. Federov allowed himself a smile: he always had a little romantic side to him, even indulging it when he was waiting in an alleyway in Ratushinskaya Fields.
"Evgeney Federov?" a firm and intelligent voice asked behind him. When Federov turned to see who it was, he nodded at the man he'd come to meet. Piotr Prokofiev, leader of the Novistranan Coalition, wanted to talk.
"That's me," Federov answered as Prokofiev stopped nearby, looking the young man up and down. Despite his gruff appearance, Federov was a polite and passionate student, a firm believer in changing things around in Novistrana. This desire to shake things up earned him admiration and popularity with similar-minded students at the Pugachev Institute of Technology, but more than anything, it brought him an invitation to join Organized Anarchy, the underground faction many left-leaning students spoke of in excited whispers of adulation. Federov had joined them, carrying his membership as a proud secret while he continued to attend the university to earn his degrees and rile people politically.
Yet tonight, Federov was meeting with Piotr Prokofiev of the Novistranan Coalition to hear an offer of recruitment in its ranks, and he was more than interested in hearing what Prokofiev had to say.
"I've heard good things about you from Felix Lavanov," Prokofiev began after a few moments of the two men looking each other over warily. "He actually speaks pretty highly of you."
Federov gave a little grim smile. "I suppose he's snipin' at your friends and demanding loads of money for his services?"
Prokofiev laughed. "I'm glad to hear we're not the only ones he's acted up with. Do you know why I'm here today?"
"Sure I do," Federov frowned, leaning forward slightly. "I suppose you wanna hear my answer?"
"I'd rather we talked a little, first," Prokofiev said, changing the subject. "Before anything else, I need to learn who exactly I'm taking in."
"Of course you do," the student activist said, sighing. "What is it you wanna know?"
"Are you happy with Organized Anarchy?" asked Prokofiev with what appeared to be genuine concern. "Do you feel like you're making a difference for Pugachev and its people?"
"Look, you don't need to insult my intelligence," Federov chided, getting a little upset. "I think you know exactly what the situation with Organized Anarchy is right now."
"That I do," nodded Prokofiev thoughtfully. "My Coalition has started a charity here (against some pretty tough odds, mind), and we've been successful. At every step of the way, the Red Mafiya, the Konstantino Cartel, and even your Organized Anarchy have tried to stop us for doing good for the people."
"Are you trying to guilt me over this or somethin'?" Federov asked while he pointed accusingly at Prokofiev. "I'm not gonna apologize for what we've done to you."
"I wasn't looking for an excuse and I didn't expect you to give me one," Prokofiev answered with an air of calm. "I was just making an observation."
"Yeah, sure, and you ask me to come over and beat me over the head with it?" Federov crossed his arms irritably.
"No. I was pointing out that what the Novistranan Coalition has done here in one month is more than Organized Anarchy has done in a year," Prokofiev said as if he were a Far Eastern monk. "We've accomplished so much in so little time, and we did it even when others were against us from the beginning."
"You have no idea what we've done in a year!" snapped Federov. He had been steadily losing patience as Prokofiev spoke, and now he really hated how Prokofiev just stood there as if Federov's reactions were nothing. "Organized Anarchy has united the students and the young men and women who wanna see some real change out there!"
"At the cost of tearing everything down before propping up something entirely new?"
"So why is it that you look so upset when we talk about what Organized Anarchy has done?"
"Because..." Federov paused, frustrated. "Because you're downplayin' what we've done! We've done a lot!"
"All right then, if you've done so much, tell me why you agreed to meet me today if you knew I was here to recruit you," Prokofiev demanded, pointing right at Federov.
Federov paused again, thinking. He had come here to hear out what Prokofiev had to say, and to see what it was he could be doing if he could put his talents to use. He knew that Prokofiev knew Organized Anarchy had been nearly dead for the past week, mostly because of the Novistranan Coalition's powerful support gathering activities and publicity for their charity trust. Federov wanted nothing more than to refuse the invitation.
And yet, the activist had been feeling distressed as of late, as if something inside of him had been imprisoned. Low resources, apathy amongst his co-lieutenants, the loss of the sly Lavanov by someone with a larger bankroll, and lack of leadership from Atlasov had all snowballed into a near-constant feeling of frustration and insignificance for Federov.
He knew, of course, that it was all the fault of the Novistranan Coalition. They had come into town from Ekaterine relatively fresh, but they suddenly began gaining ground at a surprising speed and turning Pugachev against their previous loyalties with the help of the priest Baturin and the satirist Lavanov. The mayoral election and the charity trust's completion were the nail in the coffin for the other factions. Even the ideological feud between the Coalition and the newly-formed New Peace Party didn't improve Federov's mood: the NPP supporters had all been, after all, the Coalition's.
But... there was that little tingling doubt at the back of his mind, telling him that the fault was his and of Organized Anarchy, who had squandered and squabbled without making any sort of meaningful progress in all his months of activity with them. He had tried his best, but it wasn't enough. Atlasov was the recognized leader and he seemed to be content enough merely causing chaos instead of putting something in its place. And here was Prokofiev, who with his party had done in one month what Organized Anarchy couldn't do in a year: uniting Pugachev under a common banner. Federov had to admit he was quite jealous.
"Because you know exactly how I'm feelin'," Federov replied at last, measuring out his words and actually being honest with himself for once. "You know what we've been capable of doin', what I've been capable of doin', and that we've done jack squat even before you got here."
He had paused to let Prokofiev reply, but the revolutionary only asked him to continue.
"I came here today to hear whatcha had to say about your Coalition, to see if you were what everyone says you are." Federov hesitated, unsure if he wanted to admit it out loud, then continued. "They're right."
"Evgeney Federov," Prokofiev stated with satisfaction and finality, evidently pleased with what he heard, "I want you to join the Novistranan Coalition. Do you accept my offer?"
There was only a moment or two of hesitation before Federov nodded grimly and shook Prokofiev's hand. The revolutionary explained where Federov should head to begin his work.
As he walked under Pugachev's night sky, passing quiet homes and safe streets, Federov smiled and felt something inside him break free from its chains.
* * *
In the shadows of the Chepelyeva Foundry in Yesesin Precinct, Boris Churnyeav was meeting the one of the last people he had expected (or wanted) to see, but he was on his off-duty hours and actually curious to hear what this person had to say.
"Boris Churnyeav," Piotr Prokofiev greeted the soldier, not bothering to exchange so much as a nod.
"Piotr Prokofiev, sir," Churnyeav replied. Surprised at the slip, he caught himself. "What do you want?"
"I wanted to know something about you, Churnyeav, but I wanted to hear you say it," Prokofiev said.
"Yeah? What?" the tough soldier grunted impatiently.
"Are you still a patriot?"
At hearing this, it took quite a bit of willpower for Churnyeav not to reach for either his gun or to smash Prokofiev's face in. Getting red in the face and visibly twitching with rage, Churnyeav snarled, "Yes."
"So why are you abandoning your country?" pressed Prokofiev, playing the military cards as strongly as he could. "Why did you go AWOL, soldier, when your motherland needed you the most?
"Is this supposed to be a joke?" boomed Churnyeav, his voice rising a decibel with every word he spoke. "Is this supposed to be some sort of fucking joke?"
"No, it's no joke, lieutenant," Prokofiev replied, shaking his head and mimicking Churnyeav's indignation. "I am asking you why you have deserted your post and left Novistrana at the hands of a tyrant!"
"I did no such thing!" shouted the lieutenant, getting right in Prokofiev's face. Spittle flecked his face as Churnyeav continued to rant, but Prokofiev did not flinch or move to wipe it off. "My country is in danger, and I am here to serve her! I joined you because I believed you would bring some sort of freedom or something, but all I got was a bunch of weak-willed maggots trying to buy their way into power! Comrade Nasarov understood we needed a new tactic!"
As Churnyeav paused momentarily for breath, Prokofiev shouted right back, just as the soldier had done. "Really, soldier? Because all I saw while you were working for us was you complaining about a single man you had bad blood with and then trying to pick a fight with men who did not deserve it! That is not what real soldiers do! Real soldiers are honorable! Real soldiers do not let their enemy get to them! Real soldiers are loyal, and they treat their fellow Novistranan brothers with respect no matter who they are!"
Churnyeav had gathered breath but paused momentarily to consider Prokofiev's words. He had only left the Coalition for a single day, and he hadn't had time to really mull over his decision to join Nasarov and his new party. Prokofiev's mind was racing; he had to press on and mirror Churnyeav's emotions and vocabulary if he wanted to convince the veteran to leave the breakaway party.
"Comrade Churnyeav, when the Novistranan Coalition came to Pugachev with the intent of leading a revolution of the people, you were the very first recruit I approached," Prokofiev continued like he was a drill sergeant. "I asked your neighbors and acquaintances for trustworthy Novistranans who would fight for their country and for their comrades, and you know who all of them mentioned? They mentioned Boris Churnyeav, veteran of the Grodnistan War, a tough but fair man who understood that power belonged to the people."
"And I did join you," conceded Churnyeav, his voice still loud but not shouting now. "I was proud to call myself a member of the Novistranan Coalition, and to do as you asked for the glory of our movement. But how do you repay me? By keeping a pet journalist who has no loyalties to what we believe in and chasing after money from millionaires who have never seen a single day of war!"
"I agree that Felix Lavanov is an untrustworthy coward and a complete non-believer of our goals," Prokofiev replied, placating the soldier, "but he is intelligent, amoral, and only less talented than you are. He does everything we ask of him as long as we throw him a bone. He is a dog and too smart for his own good, but he is on our side, and an enemy of Karasov. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, Churnyeav, and Karasov is the greatest enemy Novistrana has ever faced."
To Prokofiev's surprise, Churnyeav actually seemed to calm down a little and stopped hyperventilating. He thought for a few moments before nodding. "All right, you're right about Lavanov, the man is scum. Oh, what I wouldn't give for ten minutes with him in a locked room," the soldier grinned and rubbed his hands, eyes blazing with malice. He snapped out of his daydream and frowned back at Prokofiev. "But what about the celebrities and that farce of a charity endorsement, huh? What do you say to that one? Comrade Nasarov was very vocal about that!"
"I tried to talk to him about that for as long as the idea was floated, comrade," Prokofiev stated firmly, but now consciously softening his voice. "I tried to tell him that the money was not what mattered, but the act of the endorsement itself. The idea was for us to begin a charity to conquer the hearts and minds of Pugachev, and if we could get some popular names to back us, then we would accomplish our mission. We succeeded a little bit too well."
"I'll say," growled Churnyeav. "You went after all three celebrities that were visiting us? Were you trying to get us to leave?"
"No, I was trying to make sure our charity remained strong for the years to come," countered Prokofiev, appealing to Churnyeav's nature of fairness. "This is no one-time operation as a stepping stone to Berezina, comrade. Whether we fail or succeed in our revolution doesn't matter when it comes to the charity. That is here to stay, and to help the people of Pugachev even if Karasov remains in power."
Churnyeav was actually touched by Prokofiev's sincerity, and Prokofiev, to his credit, meant what he said. The old veteran was seriously considering rejoining the Coalition, but there was just one last thought bothering him.
"Comrade," Churnyeav began, his respect for Prokofiev returning, "I need to know something."
"I've spoken to Comrade Nasarov quite a bit this past week about what you and he did in Ekaterine," Churnyeav continued, feeling slightly nervous for delving into private matters. "I have to say, I'm really concerned about your move to free the casino, more than the celebrities to be honest, but I'm worried about something a little more important."
"What is it?"
"About this," Churnyeav replied, taking out a gilded-handle knife from his jacket pocket.
"Where did you get that?" Prokofiev started, staring at the knife. "Is that-?"
"Yeah, it's yours, or at least Comrade Nasarov said so, anyway," Churnyeav admitted, holding out the knife for Prokofiev to take back. "He told me he took it with him a few days back. Said you and him made a pact of brotherhood a while back with this. What did he mean by that?"
Prokofiev stared at the knife a little longer, then he took it from Churnyeav. He looked over it calmly, relaxed, and then looked back up at the soldier.
"If I tell you, will you return to the Novistranan Coalition?"
"Of course, comrade," Churnyeav nodded, his curiosity as strong as his newfound devotion to his old commander.
Prokofiev took Churnyeav's hand gently, then looked at him in the eyes. "This, comrade, is about solidarity."
Trivia fact: this was by far the toughest conversation parameters I've had in the game up to now. I had to meet a score threshold of SEVENTY (out of 100) to convince Churnyeav to join us again. I spread my points as best as I could, thinking about how I'd fail this unless I weakened his Resolve over a few days. My best two arguments were exactly one point each above Churnyeav's, and I managed to meet the 70 point mark by the skin of my teeth the very first time I met with him. Boris, you were meant to stay with us, baby. Get owned, Nasarov!
* * *
"I want to see this," Churnyeav chuckled as Prokofiev knocked on Lavanov's door back at headquarters. It took a few tries, and finally an irritated voice from within told them to wait a moment. Lavanov opened the door a few seconds later, scowling, but then his face turned to one of mild surprise when he saw Churnyeav standing behind Prokofiev.
"Well, jarhead, I certainly didn't expect to see you back so early," Lavanov said, then sneered at Prokofiev. "Coming to show off your latest catch, taskmaster?"
"No, I came here to talk to you about your services," Prokofiev replied. "May we come in?"
Lavanov stepped back, shrugging his shoulders and grumbling irritably. His room was comfortably decorated, with a nice single bed and an ergonomic office chair facing a bulky computer on a simple oak desk being the most expensive items in the room. A few shelves lined Lavanov's walls with books on economic theory and journalism, but here and there there were books on humor and improving writing skills. A few documents and folders were spread over the oak desk, but Lavanov was tidy: the single filing cabinet at the foot of his bed had one of its drawers pulled open, revealing a full row of folders.
"I'd offer you two something to drink but I'm afraid I can't afford a fridge just yet," Lavanov said as he motioned to the bed and sat on the office chair. "Take a seat." Churnyeav and Lavanov did so, and Lavanov clapped. "What can I do for you, taskmaster?"
Prokofiev leaned forward with an intent expression on his face. "Felix Lavanov, would you say your services to the Novistranan Coalition have been sufficient for a man of your caliber?"
"What, is this a performance review?" Lavanov frowned impatiently. "If you're trying to tell me I'm fired, just say it already and I'll be out of your hair."
"I'm not firing you, not while I don't have a reason to," replied Prokofiev, crossing his arms. "Now answer me. Have you been giving us your all?"
"What's with the supervisor-speak all of the sudden?" Lavanov snorted, then nodded his head before continuing sarcastically. "Yeah, yeah, I've been giving it my all, one hundred and ten percent, burning the midnight oil, all of that."
"You see, Lavanov, as a Marxist revolutionary who clearly wants to enslave the rich, I work with a very simple philosophy," Prokofiev continued seriously, even though to anyone else he'd have been joking, "and my philosophy is that loyal people that work for me get rewarded with my favor and my gratitude."
"Oh really?" Lavanov said with a little less sarcasm. When Prokofiev reached for a bulky-looking item in his jacket, he became more interested. "And would you say that I've been loyal?"
"Yes, quite so for a man like yourself," smiled Prokofiev. Lavanov watched greedily as Prokofiev slowly pulled out a fat roll of... bandages? Prokofiev held them out. "For your services, this is yours."
Lavanov didn't speak for a moment, frowning as he took the roll of bandages and turned them over in his hand. Gauze and easy-to-use strips of medical tape? Now confused, he put the bandages aside and asked, "What exactly do I need these for?"
"Those that please me find them quite useful," smiled Prokofiev again, then he turned his left hand over so his palm was face-up. "I have a second gift for you, and this one means something special. May I see your hand?"
Still confused but now becoming wary, Lavanov obeyed, laying his right hand on Prokofiev's. Prokofiev massaged it gently as he examined the journalist's palm, fingers, and the back of the hand.
"So soft, like a baby's," muttered Prokofiev, looking the journalist's hand over. "I bet you haven't spent a single day working in a factory."
"And I'm happy to say I haven't," Lavanov said glumly, then made to pull his hand back. Prokofiev's left hand suddenly gripped tight around Lavanov's making the journalist wince in pain. "Hey! What the hell?"
"I haven't given you your second gift yet," Prokofiev stated matter-of-factly, clenching Lavanov's hand in his own. With his right hand he reached inside his pocket... and drew out a gilded-handled knife. Lavanov suddenly became aware of Churnyeav's bandaged hand and the fact Prokofiev had been clutching a ball of cotton all this time.
"Is that a knife!? What the fuck? Let go of me!"
"I consider my best friends and loyal comrades brothers, Lavanov," Prokofiev explained as he slowly brought the knife over to Lavanov's clenched hand, turning it so it was palm up. "To be true brothers, we must share the same blood, so I came up with a way around that."
Lavanov got off his chair and tried to rip his hand away, but Prokofiev pulled back sharply, causing the journalist to stumble and fall back down on his chair as he lost his balance. Churnyeav just watched, eyes gleaming and grin widening.
"This will only hurt a moment, and it will mark you as my brother," Prokofiev said between clenched teeth, and quickly drew the blade across Lavanov's soft palm. The clean cut began to bleed a thin red line that quickly thickened, but Prokofiev did not let go of Lavanov's right away.
"Fuck!" Lavanov shouted as the blade sliced his hand open, trying to take his hand back. "Ow, ow! Let go of me, man! Ow!"
"I want you to understand, Lavanov," Prokofiev was hissing now, "what it is it means to be like a brother to me. It's more than being paid or believing in roughly the same idea of revolution. It means being loyal to the end, and making sure that everyone recognizes what it is you sacrificed for standing at my side."
"You're fucking crazy!" shouted Lavanov, and at hearing that, Prokofiev let go of Lavanov's hand. The journalist clutched it, wincing at the pain, and began to bleed on his clean shirt.
"Crazy? No, I'm not crazy," Prokofiev said almost indignantly as he dropped the cotton ball and drew the blade across his own right hand lightly, reopening the wound he'd made an hour earlier. "I'm not crazy, Lavanov, I just understand what it means to be a blood brother."
He quickly reached out with his left hand, grabbing Lavanov's right hand by the wrist and pulling it between them. Before Lavanov could protest or yelp at the pain, Prokofiev roughly slapped his own cut hand with Lavanov's and grabbed tightly. A few drops of blood were dripping from their hands and staining the wooden flooring, and after a few moments of watching Lavanov's face contorting in a mixture of pain, fear, hatred, and confusion, Prokofiev suddenly pretended to notice.
"Oh dear, it seems I'm making quite a mess of your room, I'm sorry," Prokofiev said with mock worry, picking up the cotton ball he had dropped and clutching it again. "Use those bandages and wrap your hand up. Welcome to the brotherhood."
"Get out, fuck, get out!" Lavanov mustered the courage to shout at the two, reaching for the bandages and trying to unroll them as he bled everywhere. The cut Prokofiev had made was a little deeper and wider than he normally made it, but he clearly didn't care.
"You sure you don't want some help with that, 'brother'?" Churnyeav chuckled, reaching for the bandages.
"Fuck you fuck you get out!" Lavanov babbled in a rage, managing to unroll the bandage and making it fall to the ground. He began to wrap his hand up liberally before stopping and realizing he probably needed some sort of disinfectant and wash the wound, but these thoughts all came a mile a minute and Prokofiev and Churnyeav had already closed the door behind them.
As they walked to the backyard of their shared home, Churnyeav suddenly burst out laughing, but Prokofiev remained serious.
"I can't believe you did that to him, sir," the old veteran guffawed, shaking his head. "That was brilliant."
"I admit the way I went about doing it seemed like a joke," Prokofiev said, "but I meant every word I said. Lavanov is one of us now whether he likes it or not, and even if he leaves us today, he'll have the scar to remind himself of it."
"Are you sure he deserved to become a blood brother, then?" Churnyeav asked, becoming serious as well. "You said you only did this to a few people you knew."
"He's been an idiot, a complainer, and a doubter every step of the way," admitted Prokofiev as he watched the sunset, "but he's been loyal, efficient, and most of all, true to his word. He has done everything we asked and demanded only money in exchange. I hope that this little act makes him appreciate just how much I begin to trust him."
"I would trust him about as I could throw him," muttered Churnyeav darkly, "but it's your call, sir."
"Don't worry," Prokofiev smiled at the old soldier, taking his eyes away from the sunset, "he'll come around to our way of thinking. Someday."
* * *
: Gentlemen, gather round.
: Coming, Mr. Prokofiev!
: Oh god, he's going to cut us again!?
: Calm down and keep your bandage wrapped tight, maggot.
: What are you two talkin' about?
: Classified information, sonny. Sorry.
: Hey, I'm on your side now, right? Hey Felix, what's he sayin'?
: None o' ya business, books. Still can't believe you actually came- ow dammit this hurts.
: Still an asshole, huh?
: Oh, you bet, sonny.
: Well, as you can all see, Boris Churnyeav is back, and we have a new replacement for Josef, Evgeney Federov.
: Welcome back once again, Mr. Churnyeav!
: Hah, thanks Father.
: And welcome to the Novistranan Coalition, Mr. Federov. I'm sure you'll make an excellent comrade and a worthy friend.
: Aw, thanks, Mister...?
: Baturin. Oleg Baturin.
: Well, nice to meetcha, sir.
: I wanted to let you all know that I got some bad news from our man in City Hall. He told me that the Red Mafiya's taking advantage of our feud with Josef and the NPP, and they're trying to expand their territory.
: Well, they've been smart about it, waiting until now.
: Smart or not, they should have stayed down. We're going to take them out of the picture permanently.
: Now that's what I like to hear!
: Whatcha proposin', Prokofiev?
: Given the scale of their smuggling operation, they must have an extensive network of businesses they use to launder the money they get. Restaurants, bars, shops, that kind of thing. We need to find these shops and take them out.
: How do we know this will stop them, sir?
: We already seized their warehouses, so their finances are shaky. If we took out their means of distribution, then their income flow will be cut off completely!
: Whoa, hold on, taskmaster. I know you're all gung-ho about going after the gang now that you got camo-boy back and brought the bookworm to our side, but I seem to remember we're a little busy with something, what could it be, what could it be... Oh yeah, union-man and HIS gang!
: Save the sarcasm, Lavanov, and go change your damn bandages.
: Now wait a sec, Prokofiev, Felix is right about that. I've only been here for a day but I can tell you're having some trouble with the New Peace Party. Don'tcha think it'd be smarter to deal with 'em before going after the Red Mafiya?
: I agree, Mr. Prokofiev. We ought to fix our domestic problems before we go out looking for trouble.
: Hell no, sir! Comrade Nasarov's all alone now, and I don't think he'll last much longer without a right-hand man. Let's go after the Red Mafiya and just crush them already!
: Hmm... I need to think about this for a minute... Christ, Lavanov, go and get some fresh bandages already! Ah hell, Churnyeav, you too. Everyone take a break. I'll be back with you in five.
* * *
Retrieving Churnyeav and hiring Federov were both successes! However, the rift has let our guard down, and the Red Mafiya is trying to muscle in on our territory again. This is a simple vote, again in terms of priority, since both objectives need to be completed. Which faction should we ruin first?
The New Peace Party: Josef Nasarov's massive split against us poses a much larger threat than the toothless Red Mafiya. We should deal with the NPP first to regain our support, then we can worry about a has-been crime syndicate. Moreover, the split is a personal matter, and could set a bad example if we let it continue.
The Red Mafiya: The New Peace Party is a paper tiger without Boris Churnyeav. Arkady Ilyushin and his men, on the other hand, could very likely do something terrible to us if we keep exchanging blows with the NPP. We've already seized their warehouses, so let's finish the job and put these mad dogs to rest.