Part 37: Homecoming Alliance
Chapter 37 - Homecoming Alliance
There is goon participation in this chapter!
The meeting with Samael Goshnov of the Secret Police was successful. Piotr Prokofiev literally bought Goshnov's friendship with a large pay-off, convincing the police chief to call off any further investigations on the Novistranan Coalition and liberate Father Rostislav Petrov from the Secret Police jails. Karasov, however, grew more paranoid and torturous by the day, ordering even more arrests while being unaware that Goshnov had sold himself out. The fight against the Novistranan Coalition and the other factions of Berezina would still take place in the streets, trying to win the hearts and minds of the people.
Petrov's freedom and getting the Secret Police off their backs meant that the Novistranan Coalition was back in action. However, two revelations came to Prokofiev during this time. The first came from Petrov, who explained to Prokofiev he had met certain prisoners in jail with the knowledge to carry out assassinations and other "eliminatory" services. The priest would later relay this information to Churnyeav and Nazerov to help them prepare for any extreme operations in the future, something Prokofiev could not think about without bouts of guilt.
The second realization was that, despite all of their efforts, the Coalition could not topple Karasov alone no matter how hard they tried. A possibility that occured to Prokofiev was that they could ally themselves with another faction, and combined, they would be able to take over one of Karasov's power structures. However, this sort of plan was risky and would require a desperate faction at a loss for support...
* * *
Prokofiev was getting impatient with his driver, but it was the sort of impatience a child may get when in reality they are quite excited... or nervous, in the revolutionary's case.
They had gotten word from Goshnov that things were proceeding as agreed, and that Rostislav was getting out of jail as planned. He had sent a letter with the seal of the Secret Police in the mail, claiming it was meant to bypass the border security at Victory Square. Prokofiev immediately called on the driver and the limo that Nasarov had managed to wrangle in at the last minute, and he was off while his lieutenants worried about support-raising. They had to do whatever they could to stand up to Karasov's men defaming them about the strike and the vodka, as well as still continuing the mass arrests.
A few minutes later after presenting Goshnov's letter to the district checkpoint, Prokofiev had arrived in Victory Square, the driver making a direct beeline for the Secret Police headquarters. They arrived in a short amount of time as there was no traffic to worry about in the empty streets of these pristine districts.
Prokofiev stepped out the limo, ordering his driver to keep the engine running and glancing at his watch. It was nearly noon, and it seemed they had arrived just in time, for a confused-looking Father Petrov stumbled out of the Secret Police building, shielding his eyes from the bright rays of the sun.
When he caught sight of Prokofiev giving him a small wave and a smile, the priest couldn't help it. He began to cry with tears of joy.
When he managed to hold in his happiness, Petrov moved closer to Prokofiev, but as soon as Prokofiev was asking how he felt, Petrov began to cry again.
"Aw, comrade, please, just let the tears flow," Prokofiev said gently, letting Petrov get it out of his system.
"Oh, B-brother, Brother!" sobbed Petrov. "Th-thank God! Thank you for getting me out of there! I-I-I..."
"Easy, easy, Father, you've had a harsh experience," Prokofiev soothed the priest. "Take a moment to catch yourself."
"Y-yes..." sniffled the priest in a manner quite undignified for a man of his station. "I-I think I will..."
"Let's bring you home, shall we, Father?" asked Prokofiev, gesturing at the car after letting Petrov wipe his face down. "The others miss your brand of presence."
"Thank... thank you again, Brother," smiled Petrov. "You are a real friend."
Prokofiev gave the priest his two-kiss greeting, giving Petrov the impetus to get the last tears out of his body.
The two men walked towards the limousine and got inside. Prokofiev told the driver to lead them back to headquarters.
"Would you mind telling me, how was it like... inside?" Prokofiev asked gently after a few silent minutes, not wishing to upset the priest. Surprisingly, now that he was out, Petrov was quite fiery about his freedom.
"My Brother, I would never wish to return there again, or send anyone else to that pit," Petrov said harshly, back to his old self. "It is a Hell on Earth, a pit of fiends. The things they did..."
"I understand, sorry to have asked," Prokofiev was already apologizing, but Petrov shook his head, clearly wanting to continue.
"Brother Prokofiev, my prison experience was not without its uses. I met several people through confession who knew how to... get rid of awkward opponents," Petrov measured his words carefully, looking out the window and shivering a little at the memory. "Most methods involved murder, but one even forged a 'Writ of Exile' to force their adversary to leave the country."
"I'm not surprised," Prokofiev muttered, turning away from Petrov's face and looking out of his own window, puzzled at exactly how the conversation had turned from personal experience to murder. "Only the truly dangerous men and women to Karasov's regime were ever brought to the Secret Police prison."
"It... was actually quite enlightening, talking to these men, I mean," Petrov admitted, turning back to face Prokofiev with fire in his eyes. "I admitted I was with the Novistranan Coalition, and afterwards, when I wasn't taking confession or preaching to them, they actually wanted to... put their talents to use."
"I don't want to think about that," Prokofiev said as the car exited Victory Square, but the gears in his head were turning at the implications. Was Father Petrov seriously talking about eliminating their opponents? Was Prokofiev honestly entertaining the idea of... removal?
"Policemen, the military, businessmen, and political figures are the people with the necessary contacts to pull off these actions," Petrov said at last after a minute of silence. "At least, that's what I got from them. They could order an Alpha Squad hit, hire an assassin, or write that 'Writ of Exile' I told you about."
Yes, they were.
"Father, you've had a long and unpleasant time in the prisons," Prokofiev said, trying to coax the priest back into calm and clearly failing. He couldn't imagine Father Baturin, or any other priest besides, talking so openly about killing. But that was Father Petrov for you: vengeful like an Old Testament God. Or maybe, this part of him had been released from his time in prison...
"Brothers Churnyeav or Nazerov could, with time and experience, make the contacts necessary for this sort of thing," Petrov continued, clearly no stranger to talk of death. "I suggest that you talk with them about-"
"Enough, Father, enough!" shouted Prokofiev with an intensity that shocked even him. The priest fell silent, and Prokofiev felt shaken. He had sometimes thought in passing about killing troublesome people, but he never had taken the idea anywhere. It was just a passing thought.
And now, here was Father Petrov, who told him exactly how to develop the tools necessary for removal.
Prokofiev shuddered, for his mind had already begun devising plots and targeting people to kill.
* * *
: Barankov, kindly inform Goshnov why he's here.
: What the hell is this?
: It, ah, it seems to be a newspaper article about Father Rostislav Petrov's release, sirs.
: Would you kindly tell us why this priest was set free?
: Because he's innocent, sir.
: Innocent of what, exactly?
: Of, um... embarrassing you?
: Barankov, please play the tape.
: Yes sir!
: Tell me why this man is associated with the Novistranan Coalition if he's innocent.
: I, uh, I think he was just caught in the moment, sir. You know how priests get during mass gatherings, and-
: SHUT THE FUCK UP!
: I-I-I, y-yes s-sir...
: I WANT HIM BACK IN THE JAILS NOW!
: B-but sir, t-the e-e-evidence...
: The evidence? THE EVIDENCE? BARANKOV!
: TAKE HIM TO THE CHAMBERS!
: Goshnov, you may have the others fooled with this talk of innocence, but I've never seen such a blantant display of insubordination since Alexashenko!
: P-p-please sir! Give me a second chance, I've seen the error of my ways! I'll get the officers to arrest Petrov now!
: YOU GET NO MORE CHANCES!
: Sir, if I may speak to you in private?
: NOT NOW!
: Sir, please.
: Grrrrr... GET OUT, YOU FUCKING FUCKER! WAIT FOR MY CALL OUTSIDE!
: What is it, Barankov!?
: Sir... Goshnov has been nothing but exceedingly loyal and by the book so far. Punishing him for this, as moronic as his move was, will only serve to undermine your position with the Secret Police.
: Nnnnnnrrrgghhh... then what?
: I suggest you give him... three days to find the evidence and re-arrest Petrov.
: You really think that will help?
: It's worth a shot, sir. And if Goshnov fails... then you can do with him as you please. I was here to act as a witness, anyway.
: *Huff huff* Fine! Bring him back in.
: GET IN HERE, GOSHNOV! ON THE DOUBLE!
: You have three days, Goshnov, three days. Find what you can on that goddamn priest, and get him back in the jails. You are still in charge of investigating the Novistranan Coalition, but you are to find and GET THAT FUCKER BACK INSIDE!
: Y-y-y-yes sir! T-t-thank you for your mercy, sir!
: Do you think he may have been bought off to free the priest?
: Probably, Barankov... I want you to run checks on Goshnov's recent activities and his bank account. Actually, I want you to oversee any incidents of gross corruption in the police force. That harm us, of course.
: Get that... what was his name? Mark Marchenko? Get him to do the work for you. I expect results, Barankov...
: I will, sir, and you will get them.
: Make sure to increase the number of arrests, too. I do not want to see any more talk of "evidence" unless I ask for it, understand?
: ...I should have thrown him on the rack anyway. It would have driven the point home.
* * *
The Novistranan National Archive - CIA Agent CENSORED 's Daily Report to Langley: 19/04/1996
CENSORED , Prokofiev has extracted Rostislav Petrov from the Secret Police prison. They went ahead and spoke to Samael Goshnov after I managed to convince Nazerov to seek him out. However, what we're picking up on the wire is troubling. Petrov is talking about assassination. I discovered this after CENSORED recorded him talking to Churnyeav and Nazerov about using their contacts for wetwork.
I don't know if Prokofiev will go for it. You'd better let CENSORED know of this development. It's one thing if we're just standing aside and watching, but it's another to continue to manipulate them like this. Especially if they're talking murder. Should CENSORED require it, we'll see what Agent CENSORED and myself can do.
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Hundred-thirty-second Entry: 19/04/1996
Father Petrov is home... and he brought with him the grim knowledge of killing, and who can learn to use their contacts for elimination. I tried to tell him to keep away from Churnyeav and Nazerov, but when I saw them an hour later, both men seemed to be looking far away, contemplative. Churnyeav definitely had a glimmer of violence in his eyes, probably as he imagined what could do with an Alpha Squad. Nazerov appeared to be quite fearful, but since his political experience would involve exile and not murder, he seemed to be open to the idea. I will confront them about this afterward. I don't like this talk.
Or do I? Having the power to order a man's death or his exile is fearsome, but also very attractive... God, no, I cannot think about this now. I don't want to be responsible for anything. Should the time come, I may think about it, but not right now. I can't right now. We need to focus on what faction to target next. I could not reach Vilnov, but maybe it's for the best. I'm not sure he would agree with my plan, even after considering his hatred of the two factions in question.
Berezina is the seat of Karasov's power and he is very strong here. No single faction can overwhelm him. However, two together could possibly pool resources and become powerful enough to infiltrate the three white towers that he leans on for support.
Doubtless none of the other factions will be thrilled with the proposition. Alexashenko is a hardened military general and would never agree to merging.
However, I'm sure that by destroying most of either Organized Anarchy's or Konstantino's support they will agree to an alliance of sorts. If I can reduce their support in every district they have control over, they should become more pliable.
* * *
: Everyone, I want to discuss the next step of our revolution. Are we all ready?
: Excuse me, Mr. Prokofiev? Shouldn't we wait for Comrade Vilnov to return?
: Unfortunately we don't have the luxury of time anymore, Nazerov. We have to move forward. When it's safe for Tresori to come out, I'll let him know of my plan.
: So what is it, Brother?
: It's becoming increasingly clear to me that despite our foothold here in Berezina, we can't seem to shake that damned snake out of his bush. Karasov clings on to power like a tick, and even if Berezina were the only city on his side, he'd still hold the nation in a vice grip.
: So what do we do about that?
: One faction alone can't stand up against the President... But two, combined...
: Hold on, sir, hold on. Are you actually suggesting an alliance with our enemies?
: Yeah, Piotr, don't you think that's a little desperate? I mean, I get that we're being chased around by the Secret Police and all, but we got Petrov out, didn't we?
: Now wait a sec, comrades. I never said anything about alliances. Even the other factions wouldn't agree to it.
: Then what?
: Easy. We take them out the best way we know how: destroying their support base.
: Ah, I get where you're coming from, Mr. Prokofiev!
: What, are we going to steal all their resources or something?
: Nothing quite so hamfisted, Boris. We'll just hit them hard and fast and make the people turn against them. With little or no support left in Berezina, the center of Novistrana, then they'll be desperate for any sort of power they can grab.
: Ah, a forced alliance, then?
: That's right. I was considering whether we could pull this off against Alexashenko's Army, but I don't think he'd ever go for it. He's just too damned stubborn in his ways, and probably would ignore us even if he was the only person left in his faction.
: So this leaves Organized Anarchy and the Konstantino Cartel?
: Exactly, Josef. If we managed to weaken either of them, I could go in as a concerned opponent and offer a little help to a faction in hard times. What we need to discuss now is whether we strike against Konstantino's business empire or Belkan's little anarchists.
: And why should we vote to choose, other than to pick who have a bone with?
: Because Konstantino and Organized Anarchy could each help us take over the Stock Exchange or the Cathedral, respectively. These two institutions are under Karasov's control, but we could corner the market with Konstantino or gain the love of the masses with Organized Anarchy.
: This alliance sounds like a good idea. It certainly works in politics.
: While I don't like talking of the Holy Church as a political tool, this is a wise move indeed. Brothers, let's hear it for Brother Prokofiev, a liberator and conqueror worthy of God's finest warriors!
: All right, we are all agreed that we are going through with this?
*The others agree.*
: Then let's hear it. Who do you say we should target?
: Piotr, Konstantino has been a pain in our ass since Ekaterine. No man should have that much power and that much money, especially not a man like him. I don't like to play the capitalist game one more time, but corporate shills are more dangerous than anarchists. Take out Konstantino.
: Sir, I agree with Comrade Nasarov. Organized Anarchy are just a bunch of weakling punks with an axe to grind against us, but they fold quick and are no threat to real men like us. A man like Konstantino could be trouble. Let's go after him and seize the Stock Exchange for ourselves!
: No, no, no. Brother, it would be wisest to go after Organized Anarchy. Those pests cloud the mind of the faithful and faithless alike with their polluting lies! They have a hold on the Cathedral here in Berezina, and I cannot stand to see that! Make them pay, and claim the Cathedral back for the Lord!
: Mr. Prokofiev, what Comrade Petrov says about the Cathedral is true. Organized Anarchy has also been infiltrating Karasov's government by brainwashing politicians to tear Novistrana apart from the inside. If we are to succeed in our revolution, we cannot allow these hidden cells to undermine us in Parliament.
: Hmm... I'm pretty sure Vilnov would also vote to go after Organized Anarchy. They have bad blood between them ideologically, though I don't know the details. Okay. Thank you for your input, everyone. I'll have a plan and a decision made soon.
* * *
Whew! After five chapters of straight-on narrative and no participation to make, we finally hit another key choice for us. Prokofiev and the Coalition have found that despite their popular support and impressive ability to manipulate and organize, they cannot shake Karasov's pillars of power alone. They need to convince either Organized Anarchy or the Konstantino Cartel that it would be prudent to team up and help the Coalition take over one of Karasov's key structures. Of course, by "teaming up" I really mean destroying all of their support, convincing their faction to disband, and giving us all of their resources in the name of revolution. Your choice is simple: vote what faction we ruin and then convert to our side. That way, we can start taking a plot-crucial power node.
Organized Anarchy (Influence): Organized Anarchy is an illogical entity, a contradiction that should never have spawned in a serious political arena like Novistrana. Their ridiculous ideology is toxic and harmful to Novistrana's intellectual elite, the religiously-inclined, and the middle-class. Its supporters are too brainwashed to tell that these anarchists are really just power-hungry, so we ought to do the right thing and guide them towards the light: our light. We came to blows with Organized Anarchy in Pugachev and it's time to put this little insurrection to rest. Taking out Organized Anarchy will lead us to conquer Berezina's Cathedral.
The Konstantino Cartel (Wealth): Konstantino and his business associates have harmed the country long enough with their monopolies and bourgeois ideals. Rather than allow them to continue to plunder the nation's wealth and drive us all further into poverty so the rich get richer, we should do a little anti-trusting and carve up this empire into little pieces, taking some of it for ourselves. They have hounded us throughout our entire campaign, and now we have a chance to prove to the monied elite just how much power we, the workers, have. Taking out the Konstantino Cartel will lead us to conquer the Stock Exchange.