The Man With No Name
Authors Note: This is intended for readers familiar with the universe of Discovery, a popular unofficial Freelancer expansion pack and modification set 16 years after the events of the original game, particularily that of the RP 24/7 Server and it's gaming community. Within it, the Coalition have survived by saboteurs aboard the Hispania, a Harkonnen-like group of superhumans known as the Phantoms play the role of a mysterious, Al Qaeda-level terrorist organisation that frightens even criminals, and Bretonia and the Empire of Kusari are at war, while Liberty, presided over by President James Powell, is on the verge of war with Rheinland, a fascist state run by a state religion known as the Kirche die Grunnen Alders which worships the leader of the nation, the Gottkanzler or God-Chancellor. All authorship and rights are acknowledged. No claim is made to creations of other community members.
Note: Words written in itaflics are spoken in a foreign language. For example, if a Corsair speaks in italics, he is speaking in Greek, if an Outcast speaks in italics, he is speaking Italian, if a Rheinlander speaks in italics, he is speaking German.
Preface: A New Beginning
A Corsair man walked through a quiet Maltese backstreet, Outcast citizens pacing by behind the high walls of the ancient courtyard. Guns hang at his hips, and he stood almost crouched, always ready to pounce and attack. But these guns were merely for open war and image, not his true weapons. His true weapons lay in simple brute physical force. This man was Ephialtes Kristatos, Corsair muscle and professional hit man. He hired himself out to numerous Corsair bosses, and was well known in assassin circles for his contradictory mix of brutality, secrecy and honour.
Mr Kristatos walked further through the enclosed, dark alley, nothing else living present except squeaking vermin and billions of bacteria. He came to a nondescript, abandoned flat brick building and knocked. All of fa sudden, he heard footstepsf coming from behind him. He calmly waited for the footsteps generator to expose himself, and then heard a slight swish. He instantly realized what the swish had been and swung out of the way, grabbing the arm of a hooded madman and kicking him in the stomach. As the man lay with his arm broken, his unbroken arm clutching his stomach, Mr Kristatos saw a silhouette within the darkness of the alley and grabbed his assailant, causing the assailant to instead be knocked unconscious by the force of a strong blow to the concrete surface of the alley.
3 more hooded men broke out of a dumpster, which prompted Mr Kristatos to kick a trash can towards one of them while throwing the lid of said can towards a worm-eaten wooden support at the top of the aged, metallic covering of a building bordering the alley, which loudly slid off and incapacitated 2 assassins under its weight. The remaining assassin jumped over the can and threw several knives at Mr Kristatos, who dodged all but one, which he rapidly pulled out of his thickly armoured arm and tossed back at the other man, pinning him next to the dumpster. Several more men broke out of a hidden door, and Mr Kristatos stood thinking as it slid open. He then grabbed the dumpster and hurled it towards the men and the door, incapacitating them and shattering the door like a piece of cardboard.
Mr Kristatos then headed into the abandoned laundry room from which the men had originated, seeing a rusted travel mechanism in the form of a pole. He broke open a water pipe and slammed a controlling mechanism near the top, the device flickering back to life and releasing some decades old wastewater into the building. He then ran out of the building, hopping over the dumpster, and grabbed a small police pistol hidden in his black hat, shooting a single medium power shot at the water. He jumped as some water leaked past the dumpster and watched a show of current electrify the water and in the process knock out anyone touched by it.
Finally, a man in a bluish exoskeleton hopped down from the buildings chimney and slid down the roof, throwing grenades and shooting as he went. Mr Kristatos dived in the dumpster, sheltered by several layers of garbage. The man then hit the ground and unloaded enough weaponry to crumple a Patriot, but then found he had not killed his mark. The man then felt a sudden hit on his spinal cord and fell unconscious. Mr Kristatos casually walked over to the door he had intended to enter and knocked;
"Ok, I got rid of your little friends. Now let me in, or you'll find yourself riding the Electric Water Monorail, and I'm not going to be using medium power."
"You passed the test. My boss is waiting for you."
The door swung open, and Mr Kristatos walked in past its guardian, a slight yet well armed man carrying more stolen police equipment in his jacket than a Liberty SWAT team. He waved as he went, admiring the buildings rather beautiful interior, which was lined with greyed marble and painted pillars. Mr Kristatos was extensively searched and checked by numerous men, eventually passing through a veil to a shrine-like facility where a well dressed man stood, flanked by 5 guards.
This man was Ioannis Sioufas, a well known spy amongst the Outcasts who operated as a Outcast diplomat to the Zonerfs, calling himself "Vincent Rodriguez", and had fed important diplomatic data on Outcast-Zoner relations to his Corsair brethren for nearly 10 years. He had also served as a genuine middleman between his superior and high ranking Zoner Igor Anderson, though this specific arrangement was secret even to most high ranking Corsairs. He gently gestured towards the altar, and spoke;
"Greetings, Ephialtes. I trust you have been successful in your endeavour? Well if you have, feel free to step to the altar and I'll take you down. If not.. then I shall take you down."
"Complications have arisen which I need to discuss with the master. These are dire ones which have both helped and hindered my mission."
Nearly all colour drained from Sioufas face. He spoke again;
"Complications? In a plan as simple as this? I know you, and you are not an amateur or a traitor. I'll take you to the boss."
Mr Kristatos walked up to the altar along with Sioufas, who inputted a security code. A section of carpet on the altar unnaturally rolled up and was revealed to be an elevator, which slid down into the depths below Maltas cities. A dank yet well crafted tunnel flew by the elevators occupants, and within merely 3 seconds they had reached its bottom. A well lit room awaited, polished, almost like a Bretonian subway station. A grey haired, corpulent man stood amidst 5 armed and armoured guards and 3 suspicious looking men dressed in identical black suits. This man was Marian D'Amico, a Corsair majordomo and major operator within Rheinland. He had apparently travelled all the way into the heart of enemy territory for the purposes of this meeting. Or so Mr Kristatos thought..
"Mr Kristatos, I presume? I trust your mission has been productive. Has that worm Acevedo been eliminated?"
"Yes, sir, but not by us. I infiltrated the dinner party he was at and slipped the poison into his drink, but I was discovered and the glass was thrown into a toxic waste processor. I retreated and again tried to snipe him as he entered his shuttle, but first some other guys started pouncing on them, I think they were Dragons or something, then these guys themselves got picked off by some other sniper, despite the fact I broke in to the security archives of the building the bolt came from and found no one was on the its rooftop the whole week!
Then I try and snipe him again when he's going on a train, but he then ducks down for some reason, even while I can still shoot him! He eventually gets up and gets off, and I try and bomb the facility he's taking off from. Then, I find someone deactivated the bomb, then I find the bomb was reactivated, then deactivated again after reviewing it's records! And I can't find even one fingerprint on the thing!
The rest is history. He dies at some conference and gets autopsied, doc says it's due to a natural heart attack, but the next day, I bug the docs assistants office and he says something about the results of a test, something about no known substance from the guys body matching something in the database!"
Marian looked surprised, and yet expectant, and simultaneously afraid, as if he knew some of the answers but feared to tell them. He spoke to Kristatos;
"Unknown substances? It's gotta be those Phantom creeps.. I've heard rumours Acevedo's been a bit on the hard side in diplomacy to them. Or maybe we're getting some kind of Phantom-Coalition conflict, I've not been able to talk to the Coalition reps in a while.."
"The Coalition don't have technology that can make a man not even leave a single drop of moisture on a bomb unless a whole Tesla Team broke in there and somehow managed to get past 80 armed guards and enough security systems to detect rigor mortis movements. Though I did find one REALLY screwed up thing outside. I found one fingerprint pressed hard into the rock while scouting it around, the repainting of the place had only begun 3 days ago, so it had to be recent. But I found no footprints nearby, only a couple of light dust disruptions in the sand!"
"Let me check your scanner.."
"Yes boss." replied the Corsair assassin.
The Corsair majordomo manipulated the scanners view screen for almost half an hour, until he found the shot in question and sent it via e-mail to a contact. He then walked over into another room and spent 10 minutes in a conversation with someone. The conversation mostly remained quiet, though a couple of shouts could be heard through its thick walls, though more of confusion than of anger. Then, the majordomo stepped out and briefed his underling;
"This is.. this is.. I don't know how to explain this, but that fingerprint you got there is a perfect match for the fingerprint of.. this is insane.. a Rheinland hobo who died 50 years ago!"
"50 years ago, boss? A Rheinland hobo? Boss, how.."
"I'm as stumped as you are, boy. I am honestly stumped."
"Also, how could they get the prints of a hobo? Not like these people hang around much.."
"Ephialtes, you know how these Rheinlanders are. You can't as much look the wrong way to a policeman without the authorities getting on your back. But I checked, and it seems the hobo, one Rudolf Kowalski, was both a one time Outcast mule and political expat during the Lesser Popular Revolution. The Coalition boys would have loved him, if it weren't for his Outcast affiliations and lack of vodka addiction."
"But if this guys dead.. he's got to be a skeleton by now.. I mean, it's not like they preserve hobos.."
"They don't, but they preserved political prisoners from that time until about 20 years ago. Even then, the body would have decayed by now and I know from my sources it would be impossible to get an old fingerprint unless you had high level clearance to do so, after the fiasco with Helga Brandt.."
"I see. Well boss, what are my orders now?"
"Your orders are to head to the Romeo Bar, MPS 45580-14556 and look for a man in white. Then, follow his instructions. You'll be back at your casa in Crete within 30 hours, I promise that."
"Very well, boss, I'll be on my way."
The assassin was escorted back up the small elevator by D'Amico's underling. Then, D'Amico stepped through back into the phone room and firmly closed the door. Due to the nature of the call he was going to make, he also triggered the noise mufflers so that no one could hear anything but a loud musical thumping inside. He dialled through to the number of his superior, Underboss Koufax;
"Sir, the hit on Acevedo went strangely. Someone else whacked him, and we don't know who, only that they didn't leave a trace and used a poison unknown to man. When I get back to Rheinland, I'll need the Plato to monitor.."
"Unfortunately for you, the Plato is currently part of the Cretan defense fleet. I'm not pulling it out until you give me a very, very good reason and very, very good lead on whoevers whacked him. They could be anywhere, and if they didn't leave a trace, they are probably the kinds of players who make us look like rooks. Take your boys out and try and organize an attack on Acevedo's relatives so we can find out more and give whoever did this a reason to come out into the open."
"Yes boss. I'll get on it and lead the boys out with Sioufas as my lieutenant after I get some research done on his family and the docking schedules for their houses figured."
"Excellent. I look forward to seeing their collective faces on my viewscreen begging for the end of captivity. Koufax out."
Suddenly, the phone rang again. D'Amico carefully checked it for an ID, but found only some scrambled text, as though an electronic signal had scrambled the phone's ID system. He reset it, but within a second of it's reactivation, it began to ring again and be scrambled. He picked a repair tool out of his pocket and began recalibrating the phone while tracing and blocking the electronic signal.
Within a second, it had been done. And several weeks messages had even been enhanced, according to the readout. But the electrical signal did not register. D'Amico tried to analyze the area further for any other signals, but did not find a trace of anything but air. Realizing this could be one of these new low photon Outcast transmittors, D'Amico did not answer. But then, the very screen of the phone began to melt! This was utterly bizarre. D'Amico picked up the phone and carefully traced a trap detector around it. Then, a voice rang out;
"Hello again, Mr D'Amico."
Marian D'Amico at once recognized that voice. He had received a threatening phone call of unknown origin just last week as his Casa in Rheinland, claiming that he was being watched and that within a week he would be contacted again. D'Amico ran a trace and dismissed the caller as a harmless crank, thinking he was probably one of the more mentally deficient Lesser Revolution descendants in some of the seedy underbellies of Rheinland utility megastructures. But it seemed that the caller was either a stalker, or something even more insidious. D'Amico picked up the phone and began speaking in the tongue of Rheinland;
"Look pal, I don't like you or your funny business here. So go and halt it, or I'll get my boys to trace this line and then send your hobo behind down to Helgoland."
The voice laughed;
"Your Corsair "scientists" have no hope of even deciphering a single element of this signal. I am a professional, Marian, and I think you should be grateful I am offering you such an opportunity."
"An opportunity? Okay pal, if you think I'm going to put my neck and my reputation on the line for some hobo with a voice modulator.."
"You know very well from the data analysis measures you have undoubtedly run that it is impossible for me to be a Lesser Popular Revolution vagrant. You know, denying reality is common grounds to be sent to a mental health professional.."
"A lecture on denying reality from some whackjob stalker with some fancy toy? Get outta here, creep!"
"You are free at any time to hang up, though I shall still observe you. But what I am offering you is not imprisonment, but freedom."
"Oh, this is just great. A nutjob who stole one of these old film archive plates and now thinks he's friggin Constantine or something. Go and take your offer to the gutter you crawled out of."
"Your threats are amusing, but I must implore you to at least heed me for a precious few of your seconds. Have you heard of Rudolf Kowalski, the man who's fingerprint you have undoubtedly found near a docking bay construction site?"
"YOU did that? WHAT IN THE NAME OF JIMINY.."
"No need to bawl like an screeching ape, Marian. You only need to come to Rheinland and speak to Doctor van Schmidt at the Kronski Morgue. The NBPS coordinates will be transmitted to your computer as soon as you enter New Berlin. Do take care, however. It appears that Rheinland has stepped up her patrols."
"Okay, okay, I'll check with this van Schmidt guy. I know you aren't pulling fraud on me because I know the guy myself and he doesn't take non-face-to-face appointments unless it's official business, and there's no way a hobo could have known about that, unless he managed to lead a secret life as a BDM agent or something. One thing, though, where do you get your info?"
"I get my info from my sources. And my sources are many, many, many, many people of all types, Mr D'Amico. But why question who raised the golden goose and give it an autopsy?"
"I get it, pal. Okay, I'm heading back to Rheinland anyway, and I'll have to plan a fair bit. See you soon."
"Farewell.. for now."
Breaking News on Rheinland Public Channel 11;
Undercover Mob Boss Collared By Our Boys in Blue and Black!
By Leonard Wagner
Supposed ALG shipping manager Sigmund Jung was apprehended today in a sting operation at the Kronski Morgue by a Police Lieutenant in cooperation with BDM agents, and revealed to be Corsair operative Marian D'Amico. Mr D'Amico had apparently travelled to the morgue in hopes of meeting it's administrator, Dr van Schmidt, to discuss the status of an ongoing Corsair operation with Unioner operatives in relation to a supposed sighting of a dead terrorist on Planet Malta. Dr van Schmidt was also apprehended and escorted to a secure facility for questioning, upon which he revealed that he had also been engaging in selling organs to Liberty and worshipping false gods. While senior disciplinarian and war hero Kapitan Topf was not available for comment, a military spokesman was quoted as saying that this latest offense of Liberty will not stand and that the glory of the Chancellor shall blind all who oppose Him.
Forensic pathologists have also revealed that D'Amico had been the great grandson of Outcast terrorist Ernesto D'Amico, and had hidden this from his sinister superiors, who continue to fight our brave, holy forces every day. D'Amico reportedly claimed to have been set up by a shadowy figure, but a BDM analyst called to the scene had him declared insane and recommended that he give psychological treatment to the criminal while he rots in the prisons of our glorious nation.
A slender, bony figure reached towards a console's button and gently pressed, like a Kusari acupuncture practitioner applying a final needle. The television screen flickered out and over the dark, anonymous room, dozens of eyes followed the movements of figures across a virtual chessboard, a pawn beautifully morphing into a knight. This was but the beginning..