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Asta L'Vasqqa: A Union Divided

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A UNION DIVIDED | CHAPTER I, PART 3

0932hrs
17th of October, 2018
Vilvau City, The Free State of Vasqqa

 

Everyone in Santiago's SUV heard the single booming report. 

As they rounded the corner of Elissando and Capitol, the crowds of demonstrators clogging the avenue in front of them went from chanting and marching in one moment--to a hurricane of confusion and violence in the next.

The sound had been two notes blurred into one. Santiago recognised it all too well. There was a snap like a snare drum in an empty concert hall, then a single crack like a thunder-clap. It was most definitely high-calibre, probably a .50.

The effect was almost instantaneous.

Screams and shouts, some in the back dispersed and ran, yet Santiago saw some in the fore charge. Bottles were thrown, exploding into inferno where they hit. Shots rang out as police fired rubber rounds. Trails of smoke arced through the air as riot-control gasses were deployed.

 

"Mér! Get us out of here!" shouted Santiago as a few rioters began to take notice of the SUV.

 

The driver didn’t need to be told twice as a brick landed squarely on the SUV's hood, placing a sizeable divot on the thin metal.

They were too late, the Raqqans had made the shot. Subiri was likely dead. Vasqqa was going to shit.

The SUV roared backwards in reverse, sending Santiago, Plover and four members of the SSO kill team rocking in their seats. Santiago heard a dull smack as a rioter was rundown by the driver's reverse drift.

 

"We need to regroup with Shrike!" shouted Plover over the screaming and shouting outside.

 

A stone slammed against Santiago's shotgun seat window. The glass spiderwebbed, but didn't shatter.

 

"That's a hard Neg, birdie-boy", retorted Santiago.

 

The driver slammed on the horn, making a few rioters jumped aside, though one was too late. Santiago felt him go under the wheels.

 

"--we have one shot at this, I'm not leaving until we feather that turncoat f*cker. Shrike can take the handler and our intel back to Intreimor, we stay here and we get this done!"

 

"You don’t mean--"

 

Santiago nodded.

 

"I'm positive those papers had his egress"

 

---

 

0934hrs
17th of October, 2018
Vilvau City, The Free State of Vasqqa

 

2 minutes since the mark.

 

Kingfisher raced down Via Elissondo's back alleys.

He tore down the alley, crashing into haphazardly stacked piles of trash. Close to the exit, he ripped his shooter's jacket off, leaving it crumpled on the pavement behind him.

He slowed as he emerged into the next street, ducking into and down a closed off subway staircase. There was a man in the Guardia Civil's uniform waiting in the stairwell.

They nodded to each other. The guardsman picked up two carbines from the duffel bag at his feet and handed one to Kingfisher. They both continued down the deserted staircase as Kingfisher checked the chamber and flicked the safety off.

 

5 minutes since the mark.

 

Even as they reached the deserted station they could hear the muffled wail of sirens from above. The civil guards were widening their patrol routes already. There's wasn't much time.

Kingfisher signalled to the man and they took off in a sprint down the empty tracks. Kingfisher's companion lit his torch and the beam bounced around the subway tube's walls as they raced down, their heavy footfalls sending rats scattering in the darkness.

The pair ducked into a service passage in the side of the tube and quickly dove through a hole smashed into the wall. They emerged into another tunnel, much older than the first. The guardsman grabbed a spade left lying against the wall and began clogging the hole with rubble.

 

15 minutes since the mark.

 

Suddenly, a light hit the pair of them.

Teresa.

She was followed by two other cell operators, Tuna and Herring. Though Teresa was supposed to have another two in tow.

 

"It was a good shot, I'll congratulate you later."

 

Something was wrong, everyone was tense naturally, but they were short two cellmates and the mood was almost manic.

 

"Is there an issue?", began Kingfisher.

 

Teresa didn't wait, she just signalled the group and they began pulling two motorised carts onto the tracks--old service wagons with a small two-stroke engine used by maintenance crews.

She started one of the engines, pulling the ripcord as the motor sputtered to life.

 

"The guardsmen responded faster than we thought. Sval and Olin didn't meet us, I think--"

 

Suddenly, a clatter of footsteps, followed by shouts came from somewhere down the line.

 

"Mér."

 

They boarded hurriedly and sent the pair of wagons down the tracks.

They were maybe 20 metres down the tunnels when several beams of light hit them from behind.

Kingfisher didn't hesitate, he dove to his belly and into a firing position. The carbine, chambered in .280 roared in the tight confines of the old tube. He sent rapid, tight bursts down the tunnel. The guardsman joined him, firing from a seated position, carbine between his legs. Teresa's PDW spitting 5.7mm rounds down range as she fired from a crouch on the other wagon.

Muttering curses, Tuna reached into his backpack and pulled out a thin black tube. It was an Argic War era grenade launcher. He was pulling 40mm rounds out of the bag when a sudden bump in the tracks sent the case of grenades scattering.

Rifles from the other side were quick to answer, their crashing echoes blurring into one thrum of noise as tracers streaked down the tunnel. Incoming rounds ricocheted and spanked off the gravel base and concrete walls. The fury of noise made everyone's ears ring as the drumroll of gunfire was amplified by the tunnel walls.

The guardsman was sent sprawling, catching a bullet to his shoulder. To his credit, the man didn't scream. Kingfisher shuffled over to his position, continuing to fire the carbine one-handed.

Finally, Tuna slammed the break-barrel launcher closed. Flipping the tall sights up, he lined up his trajectory.

The tube coughed once. A moment passed as the explosive was hurled down the tunnel.

There was a rush of displaced air that passed like a wave before a resounding explosion followed a millisecond later. Every one of the group briefly went deaf as the round ignited. The explosion in such a confined space was devastating and shook the tunnel supports, sending dust raining down.

The hostile fire seemed to stop abruptly, vague sounds of screaming echoing down the tube, barely heard over the ringing in their ears.

 

18 minutes since the mark.

 

Kingfisher exhaled as he treated the guardsman's wounded shoulder.

No more enemy fire bothered them as they reached the end of the line. Quickly dismounting, Kingfisher took stock of his surroundings.

The rail tunnel abruptly broke off, separated by a cyclone-mesh fence and some rail buffers from a wide cavernous expanse of massive pillars and sluice ducts. It was a dark gaping maw of concrete, he figured they could stuff jets and small apartment buildings down here.

Tuna and Herring grabbed a pair of bolt cutters they had left here from before and began wrecking the cyclone fence. Teresa unpacked the rest of their emergency kit and threw one of two ballistic vests the cell possessed at him. It was an exceptionally good piece, light-weight hard fibre laminate, but rated level 4 rifle-resistant. He put it on and slipped a molle rig over it.

The Vilvau storm drains. The city was so prone to flooding that the Vasqqan government poured billions into a massive sprawl of underground ducts, drains and sluices. The whole network ran around and between the city's metropolitan area, built to hold enough water to fill a large lake.

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Tuna and Herring were finished. Throwing the cutters aside, they picked up their arms and flicked on the torches duct-taped under the barrels. As the small group advanced through the central aisle, Kingfisher felt a twinge of apprehension.

Something didn't feel right. He couldn't shake the feeling that the air felt... off somehow.

Teresa broke his train of thought as she came up behind him.

 

"Almost there, Joaquin. We'll be heroes when we return to Raqqa. This is exactly the sign the Raqqan people need. We won't put up with spayed Iverican puppets like Subiri. When the loyalists come for Raqqa, they'll find us ready. We'll take the Marches and the Riverlands, we'll forge a border and Raqqa will be free. We'll win this time."

 

He could not bring himself to respond to Teresa as a growing sense of unease built.

Wind.

There was a draft down here when there wasn't before. This was a closed section, bricked off. There should be no draft here.

It was too much of a coincidence, no work was being done in the vicinity, it could not be ignorant maintenance crews.

Someone had been here... Or still was.

 

---

 

Santiago lay prone in the darkness, watching carefully as 5 figures entered the white-hot display of his rifle's optic.

From his vantage atop one of the pillar ledges, he could observe the wide sluice aisle the group was coming down.

The kill team had been positioned around the cavern's pillar ledges, in three pairs triangulating the unsuspecting herd below.

Santiago trained his sight on the lead figure, he couldn't make out Kingfisher from the thermal image, but he knew, as he slowly thumbed the safety off, that he would put one between his traitorous spook-eyes even if it meant having to personally end each and every one of his scummy friends.

 

"Get f*cked, bird boy", Santiago whispered to himself, as he breathed in and lay his fingertip on the trigger,

 

 This one's for Hel-Rus, for three-SOAR.

---

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Previously: When SSO agent "Shrike" offers him a chance to settle an old score with "Kingfisher", now an alleged traitor, Captain Santiago becomes embroiled in a cloak-and-dagger game between the Duchy of Verde and his homeland, the Republic of Iverica. Santiago fails to prevent Kingfisher's assassination of the Vasqqan head of state, Subiri, but manages to confront and defeat Kingfisher in the storm drains of the Vasqqan capital. However, after a watery intervention gives Kingfisher a chance to speak, Santiago quickly learns that his mark, Kingfisher, is no traitor at all, but a double agent still loyal to Iverica. Forging an uneasy alliance with Kingfisher, Santiago must confront Shrike, the real traitor who had masterminded the debacle in hopes of recovering the sensitive documents Shrike has gained possession of--but first, there is a small matter of overcoming the suspicions of Vasqqan terrorist leader Teresa. Not to mention the gun she has trained on Santiago's head.

Note: Small error in the previous post (CIII P1), The header says the scene takes place in "Porto Verde". It does not, Porto Verde is in the Duchy of Verde, where the traitor Shrike plans to hand over his captured docs. The real location is Vilvau Storm Drains, where we resume our story...

 

A UNION DIVIDED | CHAPTER III, PART 2

1410hrs
17th of October, 2018
Vilvau Storm Drains

 

Everyone paused for a moment. Santiago could still feel the sweat and sluice water trickling down his face. 

Santiago considered the she-wolf. The terrorist still had her weapon leveled at both men. Santiago spared Kingfisher a glance. He looked mildly perturbed at best, nursing his likely smarting face, where his sharp Narvic nose was bent at an off angle. 

Despite his decade in SOAR, Santiago knew the situation was precarious enough to warrant a prudent anxiety. It seemed that the lady had gotten them on the back foot. If Kingfisher was playing cool, he better have a plan.

 

"In case you missed the cue", Teresa began.

 

"This is the part where you tell me everything", she said, slowly cycling the charging handle of the carbine halfway back and examining the round chambered within.

 

Kingfisher realigned his nose. A soft click was audible when the ligament reset itself.

 

"Everything? Volumes, really. Which part first?" Kingfisher answered. His voice was low, the tone a touch gentle.

 

Teresa frowned slightly.

 

"The part where this pútero got involved", she jerked the carbine in Santiago's direction, where the SOAR officer was frozen, coldly considering Teresa through his unhandsome squashed features.

 

"Involved?... Involved… No. Not quite. Stumbled, perhaps", Kingfisher replied, slowly, but more seriously now.

 

Teresa looked mildly annoyed. But Kingfisher continued.

 

"Truthfully? He's still supposed to kill us. Probably will. Especially me. Slowly.", Kingfisher said, as though Santiago had at most, owed him a swift kick in the rear rather than a slow death by bisection.

 

Santiago could feel the heat in his temple rising. That skinny dicked little bird-faced bastard!

 

"Then why--", Teresa began.

 

"Though--", Kingfisher interjected.

 

"--he won't. Not now. Not while we have a bigger threat to both Vasqqa and his Iverica. Perhaps you thought he was sent in to retrieve me? That I was somehow a triple agent?"

 

Santiago looked on. Teresa just glared mutely.

 

"It is very reasonable", Kingfisher admitted.

 

"Myself, a traitor SSO agent. In your ranks? Coming to Vasqqan terrorists for a way out--freedom from a life of false-facing and moral ambiguity? Odd, you might think. How many human beings really want that?"

 

Teresa was as still as a mannequin. The sluice water dripped from her soaked amber locks.

 

"I know you'll need to find out for yourself. Nothing I'm going to say is going to make you buy my word--my word that I meant it. I do want out. But perhaps you'll listen to your own judgement instead"

 

Kingfisher paused. Santiago thought he saw Teresa twitch a fraction.

 

"Santiago was duped into getting me and steal our cell's intel so the Verdense can cuckoo Iverica out of Vasqqa. Right now, there's a rogue SSO handler out there about to defect to the Verdense and turn this situation into a bigger mess than it already is. You saw it yourself, he was quick to turn his gun on them the moment he knew that fact. If the Verdense aren't stopped, it will be like the 80's all over again. Santiago and I both agree that isn't a winning outcome for 2 out of the 3 parties involved. The question now is--what say you, Teresa?" 

 

Teresa responded sharply.

 

"I say I shoot that Iverican rat over there. Or I shoot you both and forget about everything.", she replied, an edge in her voice.

 

"Then what? You saw it yourself. Iverica--", Kingfisher gestured to Santiago.

 

"--and those defectors shooting at us earlier are clearly not friends. Contact our cell, we should be close enough to the surface for a signal. There's been a raid, they've taken our drives. What do you think the defectors are going to do with those? Scan them for nudes?"

 

"It's up to you Teresa. The pig-skin is in your court."

 

Teresa nodded slowly.

Kingfisher huffed blood from his nose.

Santiago tensed.

 

"I think I'll shoot you both."

 

---

Your sister's a mister.

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