Part 29: Journey to Berezina
Chapter 29: Journey to Berezina
There is goon participation in this chapter!
The "Freedom of the City" award, alongside the charity trust and taking credit for the eradication of the Red Mafiya, helped secure Pugachev under the Novistranan Coalition's control and convince the city to support Piotr Prokofiev's endeavors for revolution. Prokofiev decided to leave behind Oleg Baturin to oversee the charity trust's operations, and Evgeney Federov, the newly-added inner circle member, to liaise with the government and keep the Pugachev Institute of Technology's academia supporting the Coalition. Josef Nasarov and Boris Churnyeav would follow Prokofiev to Berezina.
The final stage of their revolution was now under way: to travel to Berezina, and to bring about the Third Glorious Revolution that Prokofiev had dreamed of for over ten long years...
* * *
"All right, comrades, I have decided on who to take with me to Berezina, and who shall remain behind to keep Pugachev in our control," Prokofiev told his trusted lieutenants as they gathered around the table.
"We're listening, Piotr," Nasarov said, all ears for his blood brother.
"Again, we'll follow your will, Mr. Prokofiev," smiled Baturin.
"I have to say I wrestled with my decision quite a bit," Prokofiev told his lieutenants, "but I believe I've made the right choice in who to leave behind."
The other members of the Coalition sat forward in their seats expectantly. Prokofiev waited a few moments to let the moment sink in.
"Evgeney Federov, you are one of the men who will stay behind and keep an eye open for any other factions," Prokofiev said, turning to face the student activist directly. "You're a well-known and popular local, and I think it'd be best if you kept things as they are for us here."
"No problem, man," Federov said with a smile. "I was expectin' this anyway. Makes sense to leave me here."
"As for the other man..."
Nasarov and Churnyeav held their breath in anticipation, but Baturin was sitting complacently with a knowing smile wide on his lips.
"Father Baturin, you'll stay with Federov and guide him on our ways," Prokofiev said at last, turning to the priest. "I hate to leave you behind, but your assistance with the charity and know-how of its operations are essential to keep it alive."
"I thought as much, Mr. Prokofiev," Baturin bowed slightly, still smiling serenely. "It struck me as the wisest move, considering our work here and my connections with the local Catholics. I will do as you ask."
"Thank you, Father. Your services have been of great use to us, and it pains me to see you go," Prokofiev told the priest, getting up and hugging him tightly. "When this is all over, I'll be sure to return and give you your due reward."
"I work for the sake of making this nation better, not for my own profit, Mr. Prokofiev," Baturin told the revolutionary, thoughtful. "I wouldn't say no to a bishophood, but charity is its own reward."
"Then continue making your own fame, Father," Prokofiev laughed, slapping the priest on the back. "Josef, Churnyeav, you had better say your farewells and get your things ready. We leave soon."
Nasarov reached Baturin first, while Churnyeav approached Federov and saluted him.
"Father Oleg, you've done a lot for us, for the workers, and for Novistrana," Nasarov told the priest, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him lightly. His tough voice actually began to waver slightly as he continued. "Take care of yourself, and please, never change."
"Do not worry, my friend," Baturin replied, raising his scarred right hand and then shaking Nasarov's own. "As long as this old heart keeps beating, I'll keep helping those who need it most."
"Don't go messing up like that maggot Lavanov, you hear?" Churnyeav firmly informed Federov. "You stay here and make sure he doesn't pull some trick to screw us up."
"Don't worry, man," Federov said, wincing a bit at the veteran's forceful presence. "I'll keep an eye on him and make sure you guys get whatcha need."
"Good," nodded Churnyeav, who then turned to Father Baturin. The two men stood in front of each other for a bit, then shook hands in silence. Still silent, Churnyeav gave him a long salute, and Baturin returned the salute with a deep bow of his own. The two parted ways without saying a single word.
"Don't worry about Comrade Churnyeav, he's still nursing a grievance with that money-grubbing satirist," laughed Nasarov knowingly, shaking Federov's hand. "I couldn't get to meet you in detail, but if Piotr took you in, then you are a friend of mine."
"Thanks, man, it's good to hear that," smiled Federov, breaking the handshake after a few shakes. "I'll keep Felix on the horn."
"Federov, Baturin, I have some plans for you," Prokofiev called the two after Nasarov had left with Churnyeav. "Here's what I need you both to take care of, especially considering the local leader of the Konstantino Cartel here in Pugachev..."
* * *
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Kondrat Kamensky: Faction Leader (The Konstantino Cartel)
Kondrat Kamensky, having successfully secured lucrative capital investments from western companies for his various ventures, now lives a life of luxury that allows him to dabble in his other passions - fast cars and quiche.
* * *
Memos to Piotr Prokofiev - Tresori Vilnov's Report on Berezina and Joining the Novistranan Coalition: 08/02/1996
My dear student Piotr,
I have seen what you have done with Pugachev. I have been following your successes as closely as my informants could allow, and I saw your televised speech on obtaining the Freedom of the City in Pugachev. It fills my heart with gladness that you, my most promising disciple, have built such a powerful force of charity and good will in a city notoriously plagued by crime and perpetual poverty.
Allow me to be the first to welcome you to Berezina, and to alert you to a possible route for your victory. Be warned, the road ahead is treacherous and Karasov has almost unlimited resources. His power derives from three central institutions: the Secret Police, the Stock Exchange, and the Cathedral. Were he to lose the support of two of these pillars, his regime would probably fall.
Unfortunately, all of the central institutions are close to the palace. Karasov is becoming increasingly paranoid, and the palace guards keep a close watch over nearby events. We must be cautious in any attempt we make to seize control.
I want to help you, and the best way would be for me to join your ranks. Together we may be able to finally rid Novistrana of this vicious tyrant.
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Hundred-eighth Entry: 09/04/1996
I received a letter from my mentor Tresori last night before we left Pugachev. He told me he had been following our movements closely, and that he wished to join our inner circle. How could I refuse? He has been my teacher for all of these years, and he seems to have the knowledge necessary on how to take down Karasov. His support and his skills as an acclaimed writer will be of great use for Josef and Churnyeav's own tasks.
But... we are entering the heart of the lion's den. This is the final push to revolution, and I cannot falter now. If I do, Karasov will... No, I cannot think it. I must not fail. I cannot fail.
* * *
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Tresori Vilnov: Academic
Vilnov is a survivor. He has led failed revolutions in the past, written vast tomes on political theory and lectured on the topic, touring the thriving illegal revolutionary scene across the Soviet Union. Once more in his homeland Tresori wants to see Karasov removed and order and humanity restored to his beloved country.
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Hundred-ninth Entry: 09/04/1996
Berezina. The great capital of Novistrana, and the home of the tyrant Karasov. No, it's not his home. He is an invader, a defiler, a despot that must be forcibly removed from his seat of power, so that all of Novistrana may break free from his bonds of terror. The force of the workers will power our movement, and change our glorious nation for the better.
My heart is racing like a jackhammer. Nasarov and Churnyeav are in the back seat of our van, and are cautiously poring over the map of the city. According to Tresori, we need to focus our efforts in taking the headquarters of the secret police, the Novistranan stock exchange, or the great cathedral of Berezina to topple the tyrant.
My nerves are betraying me, though. It's all I can do to keep my hands from shaking as I write this, despite the smooth roads now that we've entered the city limits. I cannot imagine what would happen if we should fail, but all I know is that we cannot. The city of Berezina is large, divided, and dangerous. According to Federov and Churnyeav, we're facing four factions.
Organized Anarchy is the first. This is the home of their main chapter and their leader, Dmitri Barkan. Even Federov claimed to know little of the man, basically only his name. They certainly would stand in our way if we tried to convert the middle-class and intellectuals to our side.
The Konstantino Cartel is the second. They have hounded us every step of the way, but here is their home ground. The elusive Alexei Konstantino and his most trusted sycophants will try to stop us should we try to garner the respect of the bourgeois and the rich.
The entity known as Alexashenko's Army is the third. Churnyeav explained to me how, following Karasov's takeover and the Soviet Union's collapse, the Novistranan army has been severely underfunded and rife with discontent. However, forces loyal to Ivan Alexashenko, a decorated war general, somehow obtain large amounts of funding and great favor. He will attack us if we try to take away his support base of workers, soldiers, and even criminals.
Lastly... Karasov himself. The so-called President is a faction of his own, despite his attempts to hide that fact. He has supporters, and he has detractors. I shall prove to him that he is but one of many who do not deserve rule, and that the people can turn against him as easily as they may join him out of fear.
I must discuss things with Tresori, Churnyeav, and Josef as soon as we arrive at our new headquarters. They will certainly give me good ideas on how to begin the final step of our journey.
* * *
: Welcome to Berezina once again, my student, my comrade! I trust this headquarters is enough for our initial movements?
: It is, Tresori. Thank you once again for your help and getting us set up so quickly.
: It was nothing, dear Piotr. I have been waiting for the day of Karasov's overthrow ever since he took over... and for Novistrana to be the free nation that it deserved to be from the start.
: So you're Tresori Vilnov, huh? Good to meet you at last, sir. Piotr spoke of you often.
: Good words, I hope?
: I... yes. I should have believed him.
: Hmm? About what?
: Nevermind, it's a long story, and it's better left in our past.
: Then in the past it shall stay. And you must be Comrade Boris Churnyeav. Hello!
: Hey there, sir.
: No need to salute, my friend. Piotr always did like the company of men like yourself rather than old intellectuals like myself.
: ...Eh? Oh, um, OK.
: Tresori, my teacher, I wish we could talk and catch up on personal matters, but we must get started right away.
: Yes, you are right, comrade. I trust you've briefed Comrades Churnyeav and Nasarov on my suggestion of taking over Berezina?
: I have. We'll follow through with your plan to take out Karasov's power structure. It would be the safest way to avoid us getting... in trouble.
: Oh, we're far past that point now, young one. Ever since you've declared the Novistranan Coalition a faction, you've put yourself in that madman's sights. We must be cautious.
: Sirs, if I may, I think we ought to strategize how to get our message out. It's all well and good to talk about capturing the enemy's assets, but we need a second plan to set that one in motion.
: Certainly, comrade. You have more than one way to do this?
: Of course, but I think my way is the best, considering Karasov and Alexashenko's personal army.
: Let's hear it.
: Sirs, I propose we investigate the dealings at the Berezina Armory. I have old war buddies of mine there who've briefed me on the situation. Alexashenko and his men must be getting funds and equipment from the black market, but this is all just speculation on their part. I say we see what's going on with the army, and we may just get them on our side.
: That is an... overt way of doing things, wouldn't you say? I don't know if I agree with such a militaristic approach to revolution...
: It's an option, my friend, and we must keep it in mind. Those with the will survive.
: Yes, so you always believed, Piotr. Very well. What is our second option?
: This one is mine. I heard from friends of mine here that that snake Karasov wants to scrap all unions and put thousands of workers in jeopardy!
: That's horrible!
: It is! And I've got just the solution for that fucking union-buster: we hold a national strike and freeze this entire country. Give that bastard a hard knock on the head and tell him, "we're the workers, and we say, fuck you!".
: I'm surprised you have the resources to carry such a strike out so quickly!
: Well... I don't yet, but give me a week or so to make the necessary contacts! I'll be able to organize the strike myself!
: Ah, always that caveat... All right. Do we have a third option?
: We do. I got this idea on the way here, and some of my previous inner circle members acquainted with the media explained the potential of hijacking the National Broadcasting Building.
: ...You don't mean THE National Broadcasting Building, do you? The one Karasov uses to record his speeches?
: The very same, Tresori. If we managed to hijack the broadcast, we would be able to give a public display of defiance to the entire nation in radio, television, and later, newspapers.
: That's a bold move, my student. Come to think of it, all three are bold moves, and certainly would cause an impact...
: Our first order of business is to decide what course to take. We must discuss it at once.
: Certainly. I assume you will have the final say?
: If it doesn't offend you, comrade. I head the Novistranan Coalition, after all.
: Of course, my student. This is your movement, and it is your revolution to make true. It's not like I have a good track record for leading them, heh.
: Don't sell yourself short, Tresori. Now, gather round closely, comrades. It's time to let Berezina know we're here.
* * *
Welcome to Berezina, comrades and fellow revolutionaries. This is the big one. The factions here are highly aggressive and well-established. We have seven Power Nodes we can capture, and three more that are crucial to our struggle. There are a lot of districts to worry about, and the enemy is dug in well in each of them. Karasov himself controls the areas in green on the map, earning ridiculous numbers of resources from those districts as long as he controls their power nodes. This is not going to be an easy journey, but we have not come this far to die now!
Like before, all good things come in threes. We have three different paths to take in Berezina to get the word out that revolution is in the air, and it's here among us now. We can either hold a national strike to prove we have control of the city, investigate the shady underworld army dealings of Berezina's armory (and maybe get some army support of our own), or hijack the broadcasting tower to publicly humiliate the President all over the nation. Your first vote is to tell me how to get the word out that we're ready to rumble.
National strike: We can embarrass the President by bringing the capital to its knees. A national strike would be a massive show of defiance and highlight his lack of control. With essential services closed down we can promote opposition to his plans for scrapping the unions. It would be a small step from there to convince people that revolution is possible.
Investigate armory: The Armory is the best place to find information on any underground dealings that the armed forces are involved with. Having the army on our side, whether by blackmail or by taking over any underworld dealings they may have, will give us the power necessary to overthrow the president in a military coup, should we wish it.
Hijack broadcast: The National Broadcasting Building is the center of the state-controlled media machine. From here they record the President's weekly propaganda broadcasts - the radio broadcast goes out on all channels, interrupting regular programming, even major sporting events. Hijacking this broadcast will give us access to millions of Novistranans.
Just like in Pugachev, we're in a brand new city, and we need to consider our opening moves in Berezina. We have 1000 Force, Influence, and Wealth in resources, enough to hold us over for whatever plan we choose and build towards. The second vote for you to take is to tell me what our short-term goals should be in order to meet our chosen objective. These are pretty much the same as the start of Pugachev. So, dear comrades, how should we proceed?
Scout: Berezina is dangerous and we cannot jump in blindly. We need to take things slow and find out what's going on around us, who we can recruit, and gather as much information as possible on secret locations before doing any large-scale actions. (This option will allow me to have a mass-style vote for our next lieutenants, but our start will be a bit slow. We'll find (almost) every character we can hire here).
Headhunt: We cannot afford the luxury of hiding in the shadows and cherry-picking our next inner circle members. Do some scouting and find whoever we can recruit to fill our ranks. We can worry about firing them later! (I will force a vote next chapter with whatever characters are nearby after one game day of scouting).
Build Up: Right now, we are weak and our movement needs supporters in the capital before anything else. We must use our resources to secure certain districts to our side right away! Name whether we should focus on Force, Influence, or Wealth districts. (I will focus gathering support on districts that offer the voted-on resource. New characters we can hire will be of that ideological slant.)
Attack: This is no time to take things slow! We must attack, attack, attack! Target districts loyal to the other factions, steal their support for ourselves, and weaken their lieutenants! (In two chapters, a vote will be forced to hire an enemy lieutenant to our faction BEFORE any neutral recruits.)
Wild Card: Being predictable is a weakness. We must keep the enemy guessing and force them to adapt to OUR strategy: namely, one that cannot be adapted to. (It is a mystery...)