Part 25: Old Peace
Chapter 25: Old Peace
There is goon participation in this chapter!
Thanks to the bravery of Father Sukerov, Piotr Prokofiev and the Novistranan Coalition had a lead on how to make sure the Red Mafiya never recovered from the blows they were taking. A mysterious accountant, held against his will to do the Red Mafiya's bidding, was being hidden away in a safe house somewhere in Pugachev. If the Novistranan Coalition was to put down the crime syndicate for good, they would need to get in contact with this accountant as quickly as possible.
However, Josef Nasarov and the New Peace Party suddenly surprised Prokofiev the next day. While the accountant had to be found and dealt with, it wasn't just the Red Mafiya's collapse that the Novistranan Coalition caused...
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Ninety-fourth Entry: 01/04/1996
Father Sukerov has lived up to my expectations and given us a new lead on the accountant Federov found earlier today. If Sukerov's confessor is to be believed, the Red Mafiya keeps a man hidden somewhere in Pugachev, making him work against his will to balance their books and keep track of their money. I must find this man and convince him to help us in any way he can. The best possible outcome would be for us to somehow bring him to a safe house of our own, but that would probably be impossible. The Red Mafiya's lost enough of their support and income that they will keep a very tight leash on this accountant.
I will worry about that later. For now I need to share this news with Federov and Churnyeav, because tomorrow we'll go looking for this accountant.
* * *
: Churnyeav, Federov, good morning.
: Good morning, sir.
: Hey, man.
: Today, we're on the hunt for our accountant. We talked strategy last night, now I've got the plan.
: Let's hear it.
: Churnyeav, you take the Soloviev Estate. I'm thinking that since he's close to the stadium, his handlers may be stopping nearby to catch a few games or something. It's league season and all.
: Got it.
: Federov, you take Potemkin Plaza. It could be that as an accountant, he may be making trips to the Potemkin Skyscraper to deal with the Red Mafiya's finances.
: Why can't Lavanov do this, again? He's the one to talk to about money.
: Lavanov's busy during mornings doing his little shtick as a satirist for the Post.
: Load of crap if you ask me, sir. I bet he's working for another party on the side.
: No, Prokofiev's right. I remember now he was never around mornings. I just thought he needed to wake up a little later after the godawful benders he used to do the night before.
: That maggot, a raging alkie? Well, I suppose it's how he copes with his inadequacies.
: Enough gossip. Federov, you're on Potemkin Plaza.
: Yep yep.
: I'll be taking Natanson Town. It's the farthest away from the stadium, so I should be able to ask more questions a little openly.
: How are we going to approach each shop with room and board, sir? Should we ask about any accountants?
: Yeah, that's a good idea. We'll just go in and ask, "Excuse me, do you happen to hold an accountant hostage here"? Don't mention any particular people, man.
: Federov's right. Just walk in and ask for a room for a few days. If the shopkeeper says it's taken, ask for how long, and maybe why. Press for the details, but do it carefully. Chances are we'll get an answer we want to hear.
: OK, man. Leave it to us.
* * *
"Damn it, damn it, damn it," muttered Federov, exiting an inconspicuous set of shops in Potemkin Plaza and feeling like he had missed out on something big.
Federov pulled out his notepad and wrote down the address he had just left from. He had, as a matter of fact, just found one of the Red Mafiya safe houses after about two hours of searching every shop in the district with rooms above them and pressing them for details. He was certain that he'd struck gold, but as it turned out, the accountant wasn't there.
"I guess I gotta wait before I get the next big one," Federov sighed, putting away his notepad and moving on. "Wonder how the other guys are doin'."
* * *
"Well, at least I found the place," Prokofiev told himself as he left a set of shops that included a Red Mafiya safe house.
The revolutionary took a glance to read the address and was considering taking a photo, but he had been thrown out of the premises after asking too many questions. He was quite sure that he had just come off as annoying and impatient rather than as suspicious, so the Red Mafiya wouldn't be alerted to his presence.
"At least I know where he could be hiding in the future," Prokofiev shrugged as he walked away.
* * *
"Gotcha, maggot," Churnyeav muttered, readying his camera.
Snapping a photo of the Pallasovka Prospekt Shops, a parade of local shops stocking a variety of goods, he grinned evilly as he envisioned coming back with an AK-47 and taking down the thugs guarding the door, then brutally beating down the shopkeeper who had nearly pulled a gun on him for pressing for details. Nobody pointed a gun at him who didn't deserve to be punished, Churnyeav figured.
He had gotten important details regarding the accountant, though, and he ran down to the parking lot of a nearby warehouse before he slowed down and walked away to pretend he belonged. He reached for a phone to tell Prokofiev the details: the accountant was Oleg Nemunas, and he was attending every match game for the football league at the Mir Stadium. With luck, they would somehow be able to get in touch with him there.
* * *
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Oleg Nemunas: Business
Oleg Nemunas is an accountant who handles the money for several businesses in a private capacity. In his spare time he manages the funds of the Factory Workers' Union. Currently, he is a hostage of the Red Mafiya's.
* * *
Prokofiev exited the metro station, his head calculating and plotting. He had gotten a message through to Nemunas by getting one of his loyal supporters at the stadium to take the slip of paper mentioning the meeting place and time to him. The young supporter was a saleswoman selling hot dogs and popcorn, so Prokofiev instructed her to give Nemunas and his handlers a free meal, but to make sure Nemunas got the meal with the slip of paper in it. If all worked according to plan, the Red Mafiya handlers would be too busy stuffing their faces and watching the game rather than seeing the message.
When Prokofiev looked up across the street, he saw a white-blond-haired, puffy old man pacing in front of bench under the billboard advertising the newest Ataman car ("The Ataman Excalibur: When Excelsior isn't enough!"). He breathed a sigh of relief when he recognized the man by description as Nemunas. Apparently, he was all alone.
Prokofiev approached the accountant, who had now sat down and was looking around furtively. When Prokofiev approached, Nemunas gave a slight jump at seeing him approach.
"Calm down, Mr. Nemunas, I'm not with the Red Mafiya," Prokofiev told him as Nemunas got up nervously.
"You're Piotr Prokofiev of the Novistranan Coalition, aren't you?" Nemunas said, more of a statement than a question.
"That's me," Prokofiev nodded, greeting the accountant.
"We can't talk for long," Nemunas said, sitting down. "Those goons are going to come looking for me soon and there's only so much they can eat."
"Don't worry about it, I'll be quick," Prokofiev replied, shaking the accountant's hand. "If you agree with my offer, you won't be a captive for much longer, either."
"Then tell me what your plan is," Nemunas said, lowering his voice and sweating bullets even though they were in the shade and it was a mild day. "The Red Mafiya's been keeping me around for half a year now. I want to get out!"
"Easy, easy," Prokofiev replied calmly. "We need to take things slow, otherwise we risk alerting the Red Mafiya to our presence."
Nemunas calmed down slightly, even though he was still quite nervous. Every little noise was scaring him.
"It's all right, you weren't seen, were you?" Prokofiev asked, now feeling a little nervous himself. "I made sure you and your guards got plenty of food to distract them."
"No, no, the distraction was just what I needed, and I've done this before" Nemunas replied, eyes still darting about, "but this is the first time I'm sneaking off to meet another person. Before I tried just to run away, but always alone, and they were pretty merciful getting me back. I don't know what they'll do if they find me talking to another person, though."
"It's all right," Prokofiev said. "If you were careful, and we're quick, we'll be out of here and you'll be back before you know it."
"So what was it you wanted to discuss?" Nemunas asked. "You were pretty vague in the message."
"I need your help taking down the Red Mafiya," Prokofiev began. "You're their accountant, and they went to great lengths to hide you."
"Well yeah," Nemunas said. "I overheard them talking about you and your faction. You really screwed them over. Serves them right, those bastards."
"Unfortunately the job's only half-done," Prokofiev said. "To really take them out, we need to show the world evidence of their smuggling."
"And what do you want me for?" Nemunas asked, his attention suddenly drawn to a man crossing the street.
"I need you to give me all financial data pertaining to the Red Mafiya's smuggling ring," Prokofiev replied.
For a moment, Nemunas didn't move, as if he hadn't registered the request. Then it hit him, and he jumped up in his seat again.
"Are you nuts?" he hissed, his fear shooting up. "Do you know what I need to do? I need to go through the books and get all the information together! I don't have access to the books half the time, and when I do, I'm always being watched!"
"Surely you can come up with an excuse?" Prokofiev asked. "It's not like it's unheard of for accountants to take their ledgers and information to the launderers."
"Of course I can make something up," Nemunas replied, now whispering with a low, frightened voice. "But to get everything I need, I have to go to Arkady Ilyushin himself!"
"Are you sure about that?" Prokofiev asked, now worried. "He's not going to be easy to convince."
"Of course he's not!" Nemunas said angrily. "After what you've done? He's going to keep his mouth shut about anything to do with smuggling!"
"What if," Prokofiev pondered, gears in his head turning after the two men had sat in silence for a while, "you express an interest in branching out the operations? Say, to investment on the stock market or something?"
"That's not a bad idea," Nemunas admitted, biting his knuckles and running his teeth over them in habitual nervousness. "I think I could come up with some plausible mumbo-jumbo to make Ilyushin think I was being legit."
"You're the only accountant they have, right?"
"I am. They don't have anyone else."
"Ilyushin is a crime lord, not a lawyer," Prokofiev asserted, his mind clear. "He may be savvy to smuggling operations and paying off the right people, but he certainly won't know the specifics of investment or anything like that. You can get the necessary data from him on that pretense, right?"
Nemunas chuckled nervously. "If they catch me, they'll kill me. I'm not the first accountant the Red Mafiya has had, you know. They told me they keep score."
"Well, then that's enough of that," snapped Prokofiev, trying to get Nemunas's will up. "If you keep doing what you're doing now, chances are the Red Mafiya will just kill you because they're impatient with me and my party. You can't afford to let them pull you around."
Nemunas licked his lips and massaged his hands, looking around again. The two men didn't say anything for a while, then Nemunas finally nodded.
"I need three days," he replied. "Three days will give me time to get everything of importance and get everything Ilyushin knows, too. I'll be able to prepare a dossier and pretend it's for speculative stocks. Then I can sneak away again."
"Good, good," Prokofiev said, patting Nemunas on the back. "You are a good accountant to have survived this long, and especially good to have escaped death when we seized those Mafiya warehouses."
"That was you?" Nemunas said incredulously, then laughed because he couldn't think of anything else. "Jesus, I was this close to getting killed! They thought I lost the papers!"
"I'm sorry for putting your life in danger, and I'm sorry to ask you to do it again," Prokofiev said, even though he didn't particularly care whether Nemunas lived or died after getting the information. He was, after all, an accountant, and an established member of the monied elite, family or no family.
Nemunas got up, and Prokofiev followed. Nemunas hugged Prokofiev and whispered in his ear, "I'll get what you need. Meet me here in three days in the afternoon. There's another football match then."
"Of course, Nemunas," Prokofiev nodded, brushing the man's shoulder off. "I'll be waiting here in three days. Now get back to the stadium before your guards suspect anything."
As Nemunas left, Prokofiev stared at his back, thinking he was relying more on hope than anything else.
* * *
: I'm glad we could all make it back here for this.
: Oh, I can't wait to hear it, sir!
: Whatcha get out of the accountant?
: He'll help us. Nemunas says that he'll provide us with the details we need to bring down the Red Mafiya.
: Excellent work! So when are we going to get it?
: Unfortunately we need to wait a little while. Nemunas told me he needs at least three days to gather all the information, as he has to recover some of it from Ilyushin himself.
: And when he does?
: Nemunas wants to meet me again near the stadium on the first match day after he's ready. We've got to provide him with the utmost secrecy, as he knows he's being followed.
: You let the Red Mafiya see you, sir?
: No, but he's got a habit of sneaking off during these match days in the afternoon where he can blend in with the crowd. Apparently, he doesn't like his handlers much. Anyway, ever since we started probing the Red Mafiya again, they went into red alert.
: So we'll wait three days and give him some cover, right Mr. Prokofiev? We did this during the celebrity endorsements.
: That's right. I'll need everyone to spread some misinformation a few days beforehand, and definitely on the morning of the meeting. This will keep both of us safe and we won't get shot on the street by some mug with a gun.
: Well I'm so glad you were able to get the information out of him, taskmaster, but I think you've got better news to be proud of.
: Really? And what's that?
: Robes, why don't you tell him? He'll obviously think I'm joking.
: Uh, Mr. Prokofiev? Mr. Nasarov... the New Peace Party has disbanded.
: I heard from Mr. Nasarov in person this morning. He seemed to be distressed at how quickly things fell apart for him and how he couldn't keep his men together.
: Ah, it's so good to rub it in union-man's face! The bitter taste of defeat! I bet we'll be seeing this on tomorrow's news, front page!
: How did this happen? I thought we were keeping the Red Mafiya out of the way.
: You think we sat around while you went chasing after accountants and priests to talk to? I work for my money, taskmaster, and I made sure books here helped me out.
: Yeah, man, we went out and followed up on Nasarov's criticisms of us. Told the people it was all a big lie. They bought it pretty easily.
: Of course they did. I was the one who made sure it came off that way.
: S-so what happened?
: Mr. Nasarov gave me this memo to give to you, Mr. Prokofiev, but he told me it was for your eyes only. I didn't read it.
: I... I see. Thank you. Excuse me, I need to read this.
* * *
Memos to Piotr Prokofiev - Josef Nasarov's Apology and the Disbanding of the NPP: 04/02/1996
Dear Comrade Piotr,
I was terribly mistaken about leaving you and attempting to organize the workers against you. I have seen how the people love you, and how they are willing to follow a man that, despite appearing to abandon the workers, would sacrifice himself for a charity in a place like this. I can see now that you care about the workers as well, and that you'll do what you must to make sure the people are safe. How could I have misjudged you so much after a month at your side and with close to twenty years of friendship? How could I have abandoned you after our sacred ritual of blood?
I suppose that I must also tell you something else that convinced me to leave your side, even though it was nothing compared to what you did. If you read my remarks in the paper when I left you, you would have noticed I talked about leaving you because you were chatting up some people in Berezina. It seems that a lot of influential and powerful people decided the Coalition needed to be dealt with. They sent me numerous pieces of forged correspondence between you and a number of parties in Berezina while we started out here. I figured they were talking about Tresori Vilnov, your mentor, but then they made him out to be a mere puppet of Karasov who knew exactly what he was doing, and that you were in on it and destroying other parties under the pretense of revolution.
I think that, with all of the capitalistic paths you were taking to power, I must have gotten someone's attention and they began to focus their efforts on me. How could they resist tearing us apart from the inside? Still, I can't claim that it was all someone else's fault. I was upset by your decisions to go the capitalist route in Ekaterine, and then seeking charity money from the people that would never in a million years give it to you freely. Your actions hurt me much more than any anonymous letter-writer, but I thought telling the Post you were a puppet would have done the job better.
No matter. You've crushed me utterly in the span of a week. I guess I don't have any head for politics, or for knowing who my real friends are. You are clearly the better man, and I realize that a disloyal and skeptic man like myself has no place in the worker's paradise you envisioned. I am preparing to leave Novistrana for someplace different, so I will be out of your hair soon enough, Piotr. I will be in Buran Gardens for the next few days while I prepare to leave the country. If you would have me back I could be convinced to stay, and I would, this time, follow you to the grave.
I'm sorry for everything.
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Ninety-fifth Entry: 02/04/1996
Josef, my comrade... His party has been destroyed. Apparently he thought he could survive simply by attacking us alone rather than by getting lost supporters back to his side. Now he is alone and utterly crushed at losing his party and support so quickly. There is no question about it: I must re-recruit him publicly and make sure that people realize I forgive him, at least politically. This move would cement their opinions of us as friends, and it would unite the splitters with my current supporters hopefully for the entire duration of the revolution.
But... do I really want him back to stay with us? He has been a loyal friend throughout, but I thought that our blood brotherhood would hold strong even at the darkest of times. It seems he is genuinely sorry for what he's done and he likely would now follow me to the ends of our lives, but can I trust that feeling to hold strong in Berezina? Can I forgive him for what he's done?
Can I still call Josef my friend, my comrade, my brother?
* * *
It looks like Lavanov and Federov were a little too good at destroying the NPP's support, and Nasarov just kept using Public Criticism and Defame to remove our party's support rather than run his own support gathering actions to keep his party alive. The wonderful AI of Republic: The Revolution at work, ladies and gentlemen. If we hadn't recruited Churnyeav we'd have a second objective of forcing all of the NPP's recruits to leave the NPP somehow. Well, this causes a little bit of a conundrum. We still need to wait three days before Nemunas collects the evidence, but the NPP's been destroyed and Josef Nasarov is back on the possible recruits list! So here's the score. Please vote on what to do with Nasarov, and then what to do about our inner circle. As we're nearing the end of Pugachev, there are a lot of options open to us now, so please consider each one carefully.
Ignore him for now, regain lost support: Josef's recruitment can wait. Our inter-faction fighting has left a lot of neutral and lost Pugachev citizens. We need to keep our current inner circle and boost every district back to full (100%) support while we wait for Nemunas's financial dossier. We can deal with him after either the Red Mafiya is taken out or we're back to full strength.
Recruit and keep him: Josef has been misguided not only by our current path, but also by greater powers in Berezina who see us as a threat and wish to destroy us from the inside. We must forgive him and bring him back to our inner circle in sincerity. However, we'll need to kick someone out to make room for him, so name a person to replace him with.
Recruit/keep, change inner circle with Pugachev candidates: Josef clearly belongs with us, but some people in our inner circle do not. Recruit and keep him, then name those who do not belong to remove them (name more than one because we need to remove someone to make room for Josef anyway). We'll replace them with people from Pugachev next update.
Recruit, then dump him to keep our current inner circle: Nasarov has shown he is unflexible to our beliefs, and despite our past friendship and his apologies, he cannot be trusted. Recruit him as a fake show of solidarity, then get rid of him as soon as possible. We'll move on to Berezina with Baturin, Lavanov, Churnyeav, and Federov, and the NPP be damned!
Recruit/dump, change inner circle with Pugachev candidates: We can't keep Nasarov due to his betrayal, but we can't keep our current inner circle as it is, either. Recruit him to pretend forgiveness, then do a little purging by taking him and a number of other people out of our inner circle. Name those to remove, and then who will then replace them from Pugachev's list of recruits next update.
If you vote for a purge, no matter whether you want to keep or kick out Nasarov, remember to list how many people to remove, and who to remove. If a "purge" vote count wins over the "keep" vote count, then whether Nasarov stays or goes, I'll follow through and adapt. Likewise, this is an aggregate vote with people you want to remove from the inner circle, so if a ton of people vote for, say, Baturin, but everyone votes differently on Nasarov's fate and the inner circle's make-up, Baturin will go anyway.
I'll remove the most-voted on lieutenants and the number of people to be expelled. Keep in mind that we're nearly done with Pugachev, and as before, we'll have to leave people behind as a support cell (and thus lose them for the rest of the narrative).