Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Read more at . #2YWLCGqy4lXir4Gm.99

Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Read more at . #2YWLCGqy4lXir4Gm.99

Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Read more at . #uAk7EDhJYyeLuyjJ.99

A Mission of Vengeance

Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared. - Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince

It wasn't a bad day in Roanupur, the sun was shining, it wasn't scorching hot, the gunfire was to a minimum, and Eda hadn't had an attempted mugging take place on her. All in all, it was a really nice day, and on nice days Eda liked to go to the hair salon for a little bit of preening.

It was run by an elderly Thai woman named Isra, who imported western hair care products and who only chain smoked when outside of the salon. It was on the 'better' side of Roanupur, if that was really a place, yet strangely enough was close to the docks. In most cities, the dock front area wasn't the safest or most prosperous district. Indeed, crime tended to be higher, half as a result of it being the drop off point for surly, sexually deprived sailors with paychecks to throw away and the entrepreneurs that flocked to that area. Or to be precise: hookers, drug dealers, pimps, crooks, and an all around assortment of riffraff. Though, that was par for the course in Roanupur.

As of late though, the waterfront area was becoming the safest place to be after dark and most of it was due to Cossack Support. Artyom was disapproving of violent crime so close to his base of operations and made sure that everyone knew it. If someone got mugged, or murdered in the few blocks surrounding his holdings, the perpetrator would be found and taught a lesson, usually able to walk away afterwards. If however, they persisted, they were taken care of in a more permanent way. Eda was surprised at the rapid growth of the merc group, growing exponentially through both legitimate and illegal means. In less than a year, they already had a company strength group in Roanupur, not to mention the other personnel that they had running protection for drug shipments, or arms deals. Eda had talked with Artyom at their last 'date' and had learned that they were actually taking to the arms dealing business on their own, selling a lot of old Soviet gear, as well as having grabbed a lot of surplus weaponry from African conflicts.

Her superiors in Langley wanted eyes on everyone in Roanupur, especially a potential destabilizing influence in the region like Artyom's growing private army. He was disrupting the balance of power and grabbing too much too quickly. He had shaky relations with Hotel Moscow and amiable relations with Chang's triads. At best, Artyom and Hotel Moscow were on a level playing field, at worst, they just weren't shooting at each other yet. Apparently he had had a bit of a lover's quarrel with Balalaika about territory and protection payments, but if he wasn't dead, it meant that Balalaika wasn't too angry at him. People who made her angry had a nasty habit of turning up full of bullet holes or in pieces.

The Colombians however, were pissed at him. Artyom was directly interfering with their business, and causing them problems. The Colombians were the major suppliers of high grade cocaine in Roanupur and Artyom was taking over their routes into the city. Balalaika controlled the ports, Chang the land routes, and now Artyom was taking the air routes. There had never been an even distribution of power in Roanupur, Chang and Balalaika had always been clearly at the top, while Abrego and Verrocchio had been directly below them. Both the Italians and the Colombians had neither the power or the influence to take on either the Triads or the Russian Mafia. If it came right down to an all out power struggle though, Chang would more than likely win, for he was on home turf and had access to near unlimited reinforcements from Hong Kong. Still, you couldn't just count out Cossack Support. A merc company run by a diehard Soviet soldier wasn't something that would just pull out when the going got tough. What was it with these ex commies anyways? Roanupur had had a balance of power that had been stable for more than 20 years and then Balalaika shows up with her old VDV company and inside of a year claws her way all the way to the top next to Chang. Two years after that, a Soviet airman turned mercenary shows up and starts turning the city into an armed camp. Not only that, but Eda had learned that the Mercs Artyom had trained were still active and wearing the colours of Cossack Support in over a dozen African countries. Apparently what Artyom had done was hire locals, give them training, weapons, and equipment then when he moved on he let them keep what they had and their old base of operations. What happened after that? Well they just stayed together and formed their own merc group, competing with or hiring out to the local warlords in the different regions.

Artyom was still in a precarious position in Roanupur though. Instead of being impartial like he had done before, or rather because of it, he had struck out at most major groups

The Italians were not on friendly terms with him after the whole restaurant shootout business. The only reason that he was still standing at all, was because of the sheer amount of mercs at his disposal and the firepower that they could bring to bear. Verrocchio was not a man known to forgive and was in fact known to violent bouts of rage. As deadly was Roanupur was, it was still not a warzone and it at least gave the impression of being civilized. It had police, firefighters, emergency workers, a functional government, schools, and a set of laws that were more or less enforced. Roanupur was not a war zone, and Langley intended to keep it that way.

"Would you like to try colouring your hair today madame?" asked Isra.

"No thanks Izzy, I'm a natural blonde and I like to show it. Keep all that colour crap away from me, I don't want any of it," said Eda keeping to her usual crass portrayal. Normally she didn't like being rude at all, but had to admit that it was fun at times.

"Very good then miss. When you are ready, please pay Tola at the register." With that, Isra went to go and deal with another one of her customers who favoured western hairstyles. Roanupur actually had a significant population that was from outside of Thailand, and as a result had many businesses that catered to the foreign tastes of the cities clientele. It worked well for Eda, and made it much easier to meet her CIA handler and contacts.

Eda didn't really mind her handler all too much. Yolanda was an old timer in South East Asia, being barely twenty when the whole Vietnam thing had started to blow up. Vietnam when the French had bee involved.

Yolanda wasn't officially part of the CIA, but she was what was considered as a friend or a helper to the agency. She was motivated by money and Eda didn't have any illusions about where here loyalties lay. Still, Yolanda hadn't gotten as old as she had by being stupid, especially in the line of work that she did. Yolanda could make a small time customer angry and expect things to turn out reasonably well, but if she ever crossed the CIA, there was no place that she could run and no place that she could hide that they couldn't find her.

Eda wasn't naive enough to believe that she was the only agent who was operating in Thailand, or Roanupur for that matter. The thing being though, was that she wasn't allowed to know or told about them and they weren't allowed to know or told about her. They had their own handlers, own identities, and they had their own assignments. If one was ever compromised, they wouldn't be able to give up their fellows, willingly or not.

Eda had once had the CIA described to her as a spider by an old instructor back at the farm, as it was called. The CIA was a predator that waited just out of sight after it spun its web. Each line a tripwire, a point of reference, an early warning system that would alert them to its prey and trap them, letting the spider move in for the kill. The CIA had spent many years spinning an intelligence network over the world, with many operatives watching and listening. When a strand was tripped, or something happened that unsettled the whole, the news would travel up the line back to the spider. The CIA would respond in due course after that, trapping and disposing of their pray, or holding them for later consumption. Then it would repair its web and go back from the light, acting only in the shadows, but scurrying away when brought under scrutiny. Secrecy was their best weapon and if that was ever compromised then they stopped being an effective tool and started being a liability.

Eda hefted her purse over her shoulder and admired herself in the mirror. She liked to get her hair straightened and trimmed every once in a while. Sometimes it was like she wasn't even on assignment at all, more like a paid vacation on behalf of Uncle Sam. Her Glock 17 poking out of her bag kind of ruined the image though. Eda never understood peoples fascination with larger rifles or submachine guns. Unless you were going to war, a pistol would hold you over just fine.

The woman behind the counter was a young Thai woman who had several streaks of very loud colour in her hair. She had several samples of some new makeup or lipstick on the counter that were free to try and she would always try and make Eda put on one or the other. Sometimes Eda just wanted to tell her to fuck off and go blow a goat, but she tolerated it. Tola's English wasn't nearly as good as Isra's, but she could work with most foreign customers having gotten very good at charades. With Eda though, Tola just punched in the amount owing and pointed to the green numbers showing on the till as if Eda couldn't read or was stupid.

Eda could speak Thai well enough, but chose not too most of the time unless absolutely necessary. It cemented her role as an uneducated loud mouthed gunrunner/gunslinger/criminal/nun and all around secret agent. Eda handed over the money and headed outside, to almost be run over by a black SUV as she tried to cross the street.

"Asshole!" shouted Eda after the driver flipping the bird, only have to jump back as another SUV went by, then another and another. The deep rumble of diesel engines caused Eda to look farther down the road and see Soviet built BTR 70's with their 14.5mm guns driving down the street at enough speed to keep up with the SUV's. There were eight in total and each and every one of them had the white outline of a rearing stallion with a man on its back, sabre drawn, on their sides. They were set in a convoy pattern, each vehicle's turret watching one side of the street and alternating down the line. A car got in the way of one of the APC's and was hit full on without the BTR slowing down in the least. It pushed the car aside with an explosion of sound and glass, the front end caved in and the car spun around, while the BTR just kept rolling.

Eda took out her cellphone and started dialling frantically. This wasn't good.

"Come on, come on, pick up the fucking phone," mumbled Eda to herself as she heard the phone ring several times with no answer. "Fuck Revy, the one time that I need you and you're not even fucking here. This is great, just absolutely fucking stupendou-"

"Yeah?" came the voice of the crude and not so loveable gunslinger that was Eda's friend and most notorious hired gun in all of Roanupur.

"Revy, you're not going to believe this, but everything's going to shit here in Roanupur. Artyom's mercs are rolling around in goddamned APC's and I need your help."

"Can't," said Revy simply.

"What do you mean that you can't fucking help? What kind of answer is that, there are fucking armoured vehicles rolling through downtown Roanupur and you're saying you can't help?"

"So I guess that your faggot boyfriend is making life hard for you too?"

"Yeah, and I need you to get your ass down here and help me out."

"Well I would...if I wasn't in the middle of the fucking ocean," responded Revy evenly.


"Yeah, I'm just coming back from a job and your faggot's Irish bitch just tried to off me, then made googly eyes at Rock to save her. Fucking cunt probably offered him a blow job."

"Fuck," said Eda in frustration running her hand through her hair. "Can you at least give me Balalaika's number then?"

"Huh? Why the hell would you want something like that for? You don't even like her."

"Because I like making new friends. Why the fuck do you think that I want to get a hold of her? She's the only one who can get Artyom to settle the fuck down and send his mercs home. He respects her. Even with their falling out, he's still got this fucking hero-worship thing going on with her."

"Why don't you just go tell him to settle down?"


"Aren't you his girlfriend or something? Just smile at him, shake your tits a little and lead him around by his dick. You are still going out with him right?"

"Well, yeah."

"Then just fucking do something about it. Oh, and tell him that when I see his fucking pretty boy face I'm going to punch it in. By the way, I'm sending you my phone bill for this," said Revy hanging up.

"Bitch," said Eda. She hadn't even given her Balalaika's number and it sure as hell wasn't going to be listed and Eda didn't have her little black book on her to know what it was. Eda ran her hand through her hair again in frustration. Guess it was up to her to get Artyom to get Artyom back under heel before he turned Roanupur into the warzone he so craved.

Giovanni's pizzeria was a pasta restaurant dealing exclusively in genuine Italian cuisine and pizza exactly how it was made back in Italy. The place should have gone under years ago, as the food they served was terribly made and terribly priced. They had only a few tables and an old frayed awning outside with a cartoon Italian chef holding a steaming pizza and licking his lips. People still ate their of course, but most people who went there were looking to feed a different type of appetite.

Crack. Sold in little plastic baggies put inside the pizza box and under the poor excuse for Italian pasta. The police knew what went on in there and either didn't care or were paid not to. It was a building that had belonged to the Italians but had shifted hands to the Colombians who had added Cocaine to the menu, as well as having kept some of the other, but less sought after drugs in Roanapur. A little bit of weed, a little bit of E, a little bit of everything really, but even in Roanapur the addicts were gloomy. None of them took the so called club drugs to just have a little fun, no, when they wanted to get high, they got the hardest stuff they could find. Some who had a monkey on their back washed it off with Jack's finest, but others had an itch that they found something just a bit harder.

"We need a cheese pizza extra topping," (three grams of cocaine) called a man in a greasy apron back into the kitchen. "Now how will you be paying?" The customer reached into the pocket of his khaki pants and pulled out a two American fifty dollar bills. He was about 21, 22, and a local. No doubt spending mommy and daddy's money on his order. It was easier to get drugs into Southeast Asia than some other places, so the prices were better than in the states, but that didn't mean that they were going to sell it dirt cheap, especially to this kid. A rich kid from up in the hills surrounding Roanapur with his own personal bodyguard in the form of a severe looking Burmese man with black sunglasses and a scar down one side of his face standing off to the side. A nice looking American Cadillac sat out in the street, doors unlocked, windows down. Normally that would be stupid in Roanupur, just asking for someone to steal it, but no one was stupid enough to steal inside of the Colombians territory, especially not right out front of one of their shops.

"Thank you sir," said the man in the apron depositing the money in the till. "Your order will be ready in twenty minutes."

"I hadn't really planned on waiting," said the kid pulling out a twenty and pushing it across the counter, which he then split to reveal two twenties. The man smiled and pocketed the cash smoothly. A few extra tips never hurt anyone.

"Hurry up with that order," called the man back into the kitchen. "Just grab something and throw it in the fuckin box." A few extra bucks wasn't really too much for his tastes, but in Thailand, an American dollar went a long ways. Hell for ten grand he could buy a bar and get dancing girls for it. Ah, that was the dream at least.

As he turned back to the front, he noticed that the Burmese bodyguard was looking a little edgy and watching out front of the shop, hand reaching inside his western suit almost on reflex. Two black SUV's had come to a halt outside the pizzeria. The man in the apron got a sinking feeling a moment before the doors opened up and figures clad in grey patterned military grade combat armour hopped out, assault rifles at the ready. He had the presence of mind to duck behind the counter before the front windows shattered inwards and lead began flying around the pizzeria.

The kid and his bodyguard never stood a chance in front of the counter, riddled with shots along with a few other unfortunate people who were actually eating at a few of the tables. Not that they were saints or anything, but they weren't even affiliated with any of the gangs or mafias that ran Roanupur. At least probably weren't. The chatter of automatic weapons fire was loud in the Pizzeria and they thudded into the bullet proofed counter or simply threw out chunks of architecture where they hit, showering the man with pieces of yellowing white tile and destroying whatever they hit. Pictures were blasted off the wall, lights burst, and rounds ricocheted where they hit metal just a little too thick, even as he was reaching for a shotgun that they kept under the counter before he laughed at the ridiculousness of it. What good was a shotgun going to do against all that out there? Was he really going to play Rambo and die defending this little shit shack? Fuck this, he was getting the hell out of here. Maybe grab a little money before he left, get enough money to open up his bar with the dancing girls. There was a lot of money in the back of this shit shack and he planned on taking it all for himself. Call it his severance pay.

As soon as there was a break in the shooting, the man jumped up and bolted for the back door behind the kitchen. If he had been looking though, he would have seen two of the mercs outside holding RPG7 rocket launchers. With a blast of smoke and heat, two rockets were sent careening wildly into the restaurant. The mercs were already taking cover behind their SUV's by the time the flames from the explosion burst back out through the windows. They tossed a few grenades into the shop front for good measure and after they exploded, the mercs made sure that the building was well ablaze before they left. A few men who tried to flee out the back door of the building were gunned down by a group of mercs in the back alley, standing in front of their black SUV. Tossing a a few grenades it, they soon left too. The total death toll for the Pizzeria amounted to 12 in all, a nice even dozen.

On the other side of Roanapur, a similar scene was playing out, except this time it was a shootout instead of a shoot up. Three black SUV's were parked outside of large strip club, but were unable to advance inside because of the intense fire coming back out at them. They would lean out from around their bullet proofed vehicles and pop off a few shots, before a flurry of heavy and diverse mixture of return fire would come back at them. Handguns, sub machine guns, rifles, shotguns, and even a few little derringer rounds were coming their way. The RPG teams were ready, but they couldn't get up long enough to get a clear shot at the front of the building.

"This is bullshit," said one Cossack merc whose features were hidden behind a balaclava. "We're getting shot to shit out here. Can't you get a shot yet Lee?"

"No I can't, because these fucking assholes are trying to crack open my head like a fucking watermelon every time I pop my head up. FUCK!" cursed Lee as a round pinged off the SUV near where he was crouched.

"God dammit," cursed the first merc again. "Where the hell are those BTR's? We can't do shit like this."

"They're coming," said a feminine merc calmly with sergeant stripes on her shoulder. She seemed almost serene in the middle of the firefight, her ebony features hidden behind a balaclava of her own.

"Yeah, well where the fuck are they?" asked the merc, firing a few more bursts from his AK-74 at the front of the building. A return shot popped the tire he was hiding behind and a piece of rubber hit him in the neck. "Motherfucker," hissed the man in pain.

The sergeant put a finger to her ear and listened to her comm bead. "Looks like your bitching has paid off Dave. Sit tight and get ready to light these bitches up."

"Bout fucking time," muttered the merc.

"Army bitch," said the sergeant to herself.

A scant few moments later, a BTR with its compliment of mercs taking cover on its side facing away from the building came rolling into view, moving slow enough so that the mercs could keep pace. It interposed itself between the SUV's and the strip club as its heavy 14.5mm gun swivelled towards the Strip Club. Rounds pinged and ricocheted off of its armoured hull and soon it's heavy gun began to thump and tear out great sections of the entrance to the strip club. Taking advantage of the lull, the mercs stood up and sprayed down the front of the building with their AK's, while the RPG teams took position. With a whoosh, their rockets flew out and detonated in bright bursts of flame and debris. They reloaded and fired again, gutting the interior of the club, all the while the BRT and rest of the mercs continued to spray automatic fire into the club.

When there was no more return fire, a couple of mercs ran up to the side of the building while the rest of their comrades kept pouring sporadic bursts of fire into it, keeping anyone's head down who was still alive. The mercs set down a few satchels, fiddled with them a bit, then ran back to the SUV's.

With the BRT covering them, the mercs got back into their SUV's and with a last volley, drove off. One SUV throwing up sparks from its rim as it did so. The BTR was the last to leave, its infantry hugging its armoured side as it drove off, throwing heavy rounds into the crumbling building. The heavy thump of its gun left the mercs who were closest ears ringing as the acrid smell of gunpowder hung so heavy in the air that it could be tasted, along with the leftover propellant fumes from the RPG's.

Rising up from behind the counter, Gonzales wiped blood from a cut in his forehead and hissed as it stung. He had a flashy revolver in his hand and a t-shirt and shorts that were currently soaked in high grade liquor. There were a few groans around the shattered club room. One of the girls were cowering behind what was left of the stage, the pole that she had made her living off of now just scrap. A lot of stuff was burning and there were a lot of dead people. Some of them literally torn apart by whatever kind of fucking tank that they had sent after them.

The tables were firewood now and the flames were actually starting to lick at the sides of the building. Gonzales was known for his temper and ruthless disposition and there was no way that he was going to just take this. He would gut the fuckers responsible for this and feed them to their goddamned children. Staggering out from behind the bar, Gonzales coughed with the smell of smoke and spent gunpowder stinging his nose and eyes. The heat was growing in the room and Gonzales realized that he had a piece of glass sticking out of his side. With a grunt he pulled it free and threw it to the ground.

"Get up!" shouted Gonzales kicking one of the wounded bouncers on the floor. "We're going to go hunt down those fuckers and make them pay! I'm going to rip out their fucking spines and," no one ever found out what Gonzales intended to do with the Cossack merc's spines, because just then the satchel charges set at the front and sides of the club went off and caved in the supporting walls. Now Gonzales didn't die from the explosion, or even from being crushed to death by the falling debris. No, he died with his alcohol soaked form catching fire like a wick and burning alive in a little air pocket in the rubble. His clothes burning off of him and only later identifiable by his two golden teeth that he was so proud of.

The final death toll of the strip club all told after police and firefighters had finished picking through the wreckage had been 55 dead, with another 15 being taken to hospital with serious or life-threatening

wounds. Only a fraction of those killed in the club were actual cartel members, the rest were just patrons hanging out for a cool drink and a show out of the sun.

Chief Watsup was sitting in his patrol car with a young and eager new beat cop who was like a puppy dog trying to please him and show how dedicated he was to the force. If he really wanted to make him happy though, he would have found some way for Watsup to be out of the stuffy patrol car and out at the golf course working on his long game instead. The kid was so damned eager to please to. His nice little shoes were all shiny, his badge worn with pride, and he was watching every single passing car like a hawk. He would learn in time though. Give it a month or two and he would learn to take the little paperclip on money and be on his way.

Everyone won that way. The mayor got to say that crime was decreasing, the cops didn't get shot at or have to worry about someone shoving a knife between their ribs on patrol, and the gangs didn't pull a gun anytime they saw a cop, and everyone made money. It was a beautiful system and one in which assured that Watsup got his new Jacuzzi that he had been eyeing.

City hall had got the idea in its head that it needed to boost the flagging morale of Roanupur PD by showing that the higher ups were just as willing as they were to wade through the growing tide of crime, drugs, and violence. That they were all in this together and that no matter how high up on the totem pole, they would all work together as one to help each other. What a load of political horseshit. The only thing that Watsup wanted to work together was his drive and putting.

Watsup would have liked to grumble, sigh, or do any number of things that showed his displeasure, but he had to at least try and maintain his image or else his performance report was going to look like hell and he did not need an audit. Although he could bribe an auditor or two and he had friends in the various gangs and mafias, Watsup had to try and at least keep a semblance of law and order in Roanupur or else he was going to find himself without a job. Hence the reason why he was still sitting in the cruiser and not just said fuck it and gone to the green anyways.

It amused and annoyed Watsup in equal measure to know that he had once been like this eager young cop. He had wanted to be the good guy, catching bad guys, get into car chases, shootouts, and keep people safe. That had been when he had still been an idealistic patrolman new to the force. His parents had been so proud when he had come home and shown them his new police uniform. His parents had even thrown his a little feast as way of celebration. He had eaten more than he should have and drank more than he should have, but his parents had just kept forcing the food onto him and the drink into his cup. He had gone to work the next day with the worst hangover of his life.

He had accepted his first bribe after only a month on the force. How couldn't he? His mom had gotten sick and what he'd been offered had been more than what he had made in a month. All just to look the other way on a simple possession charge. He had taken it and given every cent of it to his parents. They hadn't questioned where he'd gotten it from and he didn't offer any answers. He had been fearful after that. Fearful that he would be found out and that he would be thrown in jail with the criminals that he so hated. He hadn't slept that night, nor slept well for the week afterwards. He really needn't have worried though. He soon found out that nearly the whole of the Roanupur police department were on the take. He accepted his next bribe the very day he found that out.

He had risen through the ranks quickly. Partly because he was smart and good at his job, and partly because he made friends where it counted on both sides of the law. In Roanupur though, the line of law and order was more of a suggestion than an actual divider. The so-called criminals were actually some of the nicest and most straightforward people that Watsup had ever met. As long as you didn't cross them of course. They didn't bullshit around and they knew how to have a good time. The good ones kept their work and private lives separate and did what they did, because there was a demand for what they were selling and there was a huge profit in it. They were accommodating and they took care of their friends. Namely, Watsup.

Now he wasn't foolish enough to think that any of them actually gave a damn about his well-being and would rush to his aid or defend him if he was ever brought in for a hearing, but he knew that they had a healthy working relationship.

So, knowing that nothing was going to go to hell in a hand basket anytime soon, Watsup closed his eyes and prepared for a little catnap. Not a long one mind you, just long enough to give him a little more energy so that he could make it through this boring shift. Watsup awoke a short time later with a start, to blaring sirens and screeching tires.

"What the hell?" asked Watsup, grabbing at his hat as the patrol car accelerated rapidly. It quickly slewed into the intersection that they had been watching and the engine roared as the young beat cop put every single horse under the hood into speed. "What the fuck are you doing?" demanded Watsup being sucked back into his seat.

"A car went speeding by and there were two black SUV's chasing it," said the young cop, his eyes shining with manic and enthused glee. No doubt envisioning the glory and praise he would get for stopping what was in all probability a hit. "I think that they might belong to that merc group in town."

Of course they belong to Cossack Support you fucking retard! Watsup wanted to scream at the young cop. Cossack Support used black SUV's almost exclusively and they weren't afraid to flex their muscle, something that had made Watsup's life difficult more than once.

"Keep on them then," was all Watsup said, not wanting to spoil his reputation completely and technically he still had a job to do. As long as the kid didn't do something stupid like try to arrest them or god forbid try to shoot them. Most cities consider a hundred murders a year terrible and a sign that a city was suffering. Roanupur had a hundred murders a month, more probably if you counted all of the missing persons reports. They weren't missing though, if you dredged the bottom of the Roanupur harbour it would be skeleton fucking city. More than one of Watsup's predecessors were at the bottom of those pristine and sparkling waters.

Despite his misgivings about the kid, he sure could drive like a champ. He weaved in and out of traffic like he was back on the training course weaving through pylons and he seemed to handle the patrol car like an extension of himself. The kid should have tried to be a getaway driver instead of a cop. He would have made far more money for half the bullshit.

Watsup finally got his look at the car that the Cossack SUV's were chasing. It was an old dodge charger, tricked out and painted and obviously belonging to the Colombians. The two black SUV's however, were gaining on it fast and were already doing a rolling box on it.

"Should I call this in?" asked the young cop to Watsup.

"What? Yeah, call this in," said Watsup distractedly. This wasn't good. Artyom was only ever motivated by two things. Money, and revenge. Same as that crazy bitch Balalaika. If it wasn't one Russian tearing his city apart, it was the other. Why the hell couldn't they just go back home and leave Roanupur in peace? Roanupur already had enough damned foreigners and criminals as it was. Why did they all feel the need to come to Thailand to have their squabbles? Why couldn't they just be like the sex tourists who came for a month, spent all their money on hookers, and then left?

Watsup was dimly aware of the young cop calling in the chase, when the first shots were fired. One of the Colombians was leaning out the window of the charger and was plunking away at the SUV's with some kind of pistol. The lead SUV responded by accelerating and ramming the back of the charger causing it to swerve and lose speed.

"Holy shit," said the young cop, taken aback for a moment and still transmitting into to the station. "Shots fired, shots fired," he said into the radio as he regained some of his mental acuity. He fumbled for the pistol at his belt.

"Don't be stupid! You're the one driving, keep both eyes on the road and keep us on their ass. If there's any shooting that needs to be done, I'll be the one who does it. Understand?"

"Yes sir," said the young cop quickly redoing the strap to his pistol holster and focusing back on the road. Watsup had to grip the dash as they swerved around a car coming off of a side street and Watsup felt the sick thrill of fear for a moment as he thought that they were going to crash. A pinprick-like sensation all over his body and made everything he smelled acrid for a moment. The patrol car veered from side to side for a moment and when it straightened, Watsup was breathing heavy, sweat beading his pudgy face.

"That's why you keep your fucking eyes on the road!" exploded Watsup at the young man. "You trying to get me fucking killed out here or something?"

"Sorry sir, it won't happen again," said the young man, slightly fearful of his superior. Scared of me, but not enough brains to be scared of the guys who will paste his ass if he gets in their way, thought Watsup laconically.

"Holy hell, look at that," said the young cop, both entranced and horrified by the scene in front of them.

"Ah hell," was all Watsup said. One of the SUV's had smacked the back end of the charger on the side, which in turn had caused the charger to spin out and lose control. Tires screeching as it skewed from side to side vainly for a moment, the outline of a struggling figure trying to keep control in the drivers seat. Finally losing the contest of control, the charger spun around and struck a lamp post with a concussion of metal and breaking glass.

With a screech of tires that Watsup barely heard over the blaring sirens of his own patrol car, the two black SUV's stopped so suddenly that their tires threw up thin wisps of white smoke. A second after they had stopped, men and what looked like either women or effeminate men jumped out. Men and women clad in body armour and combat fatigues that is and automatic weapons.

The stutter of weapons fire cut through the blaring of the sirens, and straight to Watsup's ears. Half a dozen assault rifles emptied in the space of five seconds point blank into the body and cab of the charger. What little glass left in the charger was blown out and the bodywork even more deformed. The occupants inside didn't even look human anymore, more like bags of bloody meat. One of the grey armoured mercs was putting a bullet into the heads of anyone who still had something that resembled one when Watsup and the eager young cop pulled up.

The car slewed to a stop sideways, with Watsup's side facing the mercs and the young cop was already trying to bound out of the car and draw his pistol when Watsup pulled him back in. The mercs standing on either side of their Black SUV's, eyes dispassionate and uncaring that the law had come.

"Are you out of your fucking mind you little shit?" hissed Watsup, holding the young patrolman by the scruff of his shirt.

"They just killed a car full of people, we can't just let them get away with that," protested the young cop.

"You want to fucking join them rookie? Because it sure as hell seems like it. There's two of us with these little pistols and there's twelve of them. Go ahead count them, there's twelve of them out there with assault rifles and fucking military grade body armour. You know what we've got? Jack shit, so pull your head out of your ass before you get us both killed."

"They killed people," repeated the young cop like that answer solved everything.

"Yeah, so what the fuck do you think that they're going to do to us when if we try and arrest them? We can't do shit to them."

"We're cops."

"A piece of tin, you think tin will protect you? Step out of this car and find out how bout you?" A knock on the window caused both Watsup and the young patrolman to look back. A merc standing in grey armour and an AK slung over his shoulder. He was white and the front of his armour was stained with blood. He reached into one of his pouches and Watsup felt a moment of fear, before he pulled out a manilla envelope and handed it through the partially rolled down window.

"We appreciate your cooperation and silence in this matter officers and we will clean up the mess. Have a nice day," said the man and walked away. Watsup opened up the envelope already knowing what it contained, but doing it so that the rookie could see too.

"That, that's a bribe," said the young man indignantly. "That's illegal, they can't bribe a cop."

"Do you want a lead bullet or a silver one kid?"


"This will go down one of two ways. One, we get indignant about the whole thing and jump out, badge in one hand and gun in the other like we're supposed to. Then we have a nice service and get called heroes by a monkey in a suit and given a nice little grave plot. The other way that this will play out is that we take the money, smile and get the fuck out of here with a month's pay added to our wallets as compensation."

"But we, we can't," said the young cop, but with less conviction.

"We can, and we just did. Turn that damned siren off, it's giving me a headache," said Watsup irritably. The young man complied and didn't know what to do as Watsup stuffed a good portion of the envelope's contents into his breast pocket. "Take us back to the station, if they're doing shit like this I don't want to be out in the streets until this whole thing is over and done with," said Watsup pulling the brim of his cap low over his eyes. He slept quite well on the way to the station, but woke up several times to the rattle of gunfire and the thumps and rumbles of distant explosions from time to time. Let someone else deal with this shit, if mercs wanted to fight a war, they could have a big a one as they wanted for all he cared. Maybe they would kill off enough of each other that they would decide that what they were doing wasn't worth the money. Watsup doubted it though. It was always worth the money.

The thrum of heavy rotors filled Artyom's senses, as he flew his hind over Roanupur. There was black smoke curling up from a half-dozen buildings and locations from around Roanupur, each proclaiming the end of a Colombian business and Colombian lives. It gave Artyom a sense of cold satisfaction to know that he was making them pay for what they had done to him and the mercs under his command. It reminded his a little bit of his time in the army and how whenever someone had taken it into their head that it would be a good idea to mess with them, they would soon have a barrage of 82mm rockets and a mass of tanks to tell them how good the idea had actually been.

Artyom had blown up Abrego's second's villa in a flurry of rockets and cannon fire, and it had been sweet, vindictive justice. The thing was though, was that it wasn't enough. Artyom wanted more. Artyom had beaten the cartel so that they were on their knees in Roanupur, but that wasn't enough. He didn't just want to kick them when they were down, he wanted to beat them so badly that they would never be the same and they would never get back on their feet and if they did they would always walk with a limp. Let a cane herald wherever they went for a change, then they would see how humbling it really was.

Throwing the hind into a lazy banking turn, Artyom changed his direction towards Abrego's villa, right in the middle of Roanupur. His mercs had orders that once they were done with their own targets that they were to converge on Abrego's villa. Military doctrine would have demanded that Abrego go first so that command and control could have been effectively severed, but Artyom hadn't done that. Artyom had wanted to have Abrego see his empire crumble around him. Artyom wanted him to see his men die, Artyom wanted Abrego to suffer.

Who Artyom really wanted to hurt though, was whoever the hell had gotten away with the sensitive information in the Philippines and put three of his mercs in the ground and maybe another one. Artyom did care for his mercs, not as much as a military commander would care for the troops under their command, but he cared for them more than many of the organizations around Roanupur or any other group like them did for their own guys. Well, except for Balalaika. Then again Balalaika had her old unit with her as her gang. What would it have been like to have had the old 103rd with him in Roanupur? Artyom chuckled at the thought. It would have been fun, but eventually they would have attracted too much attention. Then again they were doing the same with this.

It was odd in a way. He and Balalaika had both served in Afghanistan, but both he and Balalaika had been broken and discarded by the Soviet military, and later by the Union itself. Communism had failed, it was a dream that had fallen through, a system of living that went against human nature itself. So, with all that they had ever known gone and no purpose left to them, he and Balalaika had grabbed whatever left that was important to them and left. Artyom his hind, Balalaika her men.

It hadn't been about money in the beginning of it all. In fact, it had only really been about the hind. Artyom had wanted his hind, he had wanted to fly, he had wanted to fight, because that was what he was good at, that was what made him stand out and be special, what gave him purpose. Money had been purpose enough after he had started becoming a successful mercenary and with the help of Jacques, he had built his own little Union by drawing in like-minded individuals.

Artyom had been worried when he had become a mercenary that it would make him amoral and evil. That it would change him. If wandering around Africa had taught him anything though, it was that you could not be made evil. You could not get an injection that made you suddenly want to destroy, kill, and maim. It was stupid and it couldn't be done. No, what Artyom had learned was that it was already there.

Artyom had seen perfectly normal, good, and kind hearted people become something that appalled those around them. Evil was in everyone, to some degree or other. Violence was natural, hate was natural, evil was natural. It was human nature to want to fight, to want to draw blood, to go to war. to kill. But what Artyom had learned was that there was a difference between human violence and that of an animal. Not saying of course that blowing someone away because it got you off was natural of course, that was just an animal in human skin playing a masquerade so that it could get drunk on blood. Not even an animal, but something less.

An animal took vengeance or killed because it was instinct, it needed to eat, or because it was too damned stupid to do anything else. A human when committing violence had to consider if the risks outweighed the rewards. If there was a definable gain worth getting the immediate rewards and having to deal the inevitable consequences. If there was no planning, no reason beyond base needs, or just a need for violence, it wasn't human conflict, it was a human acting like an animal.

Artyom had kept trying to tell himself that he was doing this in retaliation for the attack at the airport, but in reality, he was just doing it because he was angry. He might not care deeply for his mercs, but he did care deeply for a few under his command and right now one of those people might be dead.

Artyom had lost good friends before, but there had always been a release, a pressure point he could use to let it go. He had always been able to get into his hind the next day and make them pay. He could make someone have to suffer for taking his friend's life. To feel some of the hardship and hurt that he had been forced to feel. Here, there had been no way to do that. Artyom was in the position of command in a place where although not a first world country, at least it had a competent governing system and not all law and order had broken down. Roanupur was an anomaly. Something generally ignored by the government, as if when they didn't acknowledge the city and its vices it didn't exist. Still, the kind of people in Roanupur were not an anomaly, and neither was the hind gunship that he was now flying towards Abrego's headquarters.

It felt good to be flying a combat mission again, and with Abrego's second out of the way, all he had to do now was cut the head off of the beast. His third and fourth had already been taken care of long ago. The third at a strip club and the fourth forced off of the road and gunned down his mercs. With most of the lower leaders and lieutenants in Abreg's cartel taken care of and most of their men either dead or leaderless, it would be simple and easy work for Balalaika or Chang to take over their businesses. Artyom didn't count Verrocchio, because next to the Colombians, they were the weakest 'big' criminal organization in Roanupur. After this it would effectively be him, Balalaika, and Chang in charge. Then again, Artyom really didn't feel like getting involved in the whole running of Roanupur. Let the mob bosses do that, Artyom was only interested in working for his money, not taxing his little fiefdom to get it.

Artyom listened idly to the radio chatter of his own forces and knew that things were going outstandingly well for them. Apparently they were all converging on the Colombian's headquarters, all 104 of them. Well, that wasn't entirely accurate. There had been about 18 evacuated because of wounds ranging from simply making them a hazard on the battlefield, to outright life-threatening. A few wouldn't be able to fight after this and hence wouldn't be able to stay a part of Cossack Support anymore. Artyom would treat fairly enough though. A decent severance package, their gun, and a little help getting set up to live. After that, they were on their own. Although about five, maybe six would have to have funeral arrangements made for them. Casualties were inevitable in any operation, no matter the armour or arms, but it still made Artyom mournful that his men had died on his orders.

Artyom smiled as he saw Abrego's HQ come into view. It was a large terraced building with far too many windows, surrounded by a low iron fence and the building itself was only about three storeys tall. There were some people and cars moving around frantically around in the courtyard, probably getting ready for the eventual assault, or getting ready to respond and head out to fight the Cossack mercs causing them so much trouble. Too bad they would never get that chance.

Artyom centred the targeting reticule of his hind on the centre of the courtyard and fingered the firing stud on his control stick. For a second, it was just like he was back in Afghanistan with the old 103rd Guards Division. Sun beating down, heat in the cockpit stifling, rolling dunes of sand flashing by beneath him, mountains in the distance, and Yurri smiling back at him. A dead man's smile. Artyom shook his head and blinked rapidly, the vivid flashback fading away quickly so that he was once more flying above the sunny Roanupur sky. Everything going back to how it was, almost exactly the same as it had been back in the 103rd. except he wasn't young anymore. He wasn't a soldier anymore, didn't have a cause anymore, no naive dream of turning the world red. No fantasy of flying over the wall and blasting NATO tanks to smithereens as the unstoppable might of the Soviet Union spearheaded the final push to total victory. If anything, things were much worse now than they had ever been.

Artyom was minus yet another close friend and he still had a bum leg. He fought for money, he had no real ambition besides his next paycheck, and he hadn't spoken to his family in years. No honour, no purpose, no reason to continue than money and a fear of death. When had everything gone to hell? Even in Africa there had been a purpose. He had been a mercenary true enough, but he had still been fighting a worthy enemy. Men full of passion and a desire to make their mark upon the world, men who Artyom had fought and put into the ground and who had tried to do the same to him. That had been the good days, just a few mercs and his small team. Now all he did was shepherd drugs and guns. There was no real combat, and there was no martial pride in what he did now. Nothing that he would be proud to admit that he did, nothing that he would be proud to wear a medal of on his chest. The reticule had also drifted off course of the compound.

Artyom corrected it with well-drilled and cool efficiency. These mobsters thought that they could just kill his men and call it tit for tat? Had they no honour, no respect the men who fought for them? Did they value the lives of those under them so little that they thought that they were simply equipment? Things that could be destroyed to send a message or disposed of when they were no longer of use? Without even making sure that they would be looked after? It was that kind of mindset that had made them think that they could kill his men and do a little pissing match while still smiling at each other in public. Fuck that. Artyom was a soldier and soldier's didn't play political games. If you were an enemy you died. If you were a friend you lived, it was just that simple. It was vindictive satisfaction that Artyom pushed down the firing stud on the hind.

With a rush and a roar, a barrage of 82mm rockets left their pods and struck out like fiery spears towards the compound. Artyom didn't fire a burst as he had been taught to do, as he had been trained to do, but continued holding down the firing stud until all the rockets had left their tubes, then held it down still when they were all in the air. He didn't even fire his 23mm cannon as he closed the distance, just kept flying and watched.

The explosions walked their way up the courtyard in puffs of flame and debris. Turning man and machine into so much hamburger and scrap metal. After the first few rockets hit, Artyom's vision was obscured of the courtyard, but he had done this enough times to know what was going on. The sound of the explosions would be deafening on the ground, but as it was it was just a muted crump every time one hit the ground. The heat would blister and burn skin and flesh off of their bodies. The heat would be suffocating and burn out the throats, choke them on smoke, and make them feel like they were in an oven. The concussive force of the explosion would disorient them, if it didn't turn them to jelly or rip them apart. Those who survived would be disoriented, dizzy, concussed, and in need of medical attention. Stumbling around, hardly able to breath and even less able to understand what was going on around them. If they survived the last part that is.

The rockets would turn whatever they hit into free shrapnel, sending shards of stone, metal, and bone careening rapidly around and sinking into flesh and rending with terrible ease. While not accurate enough to be extremely effective against armoured targets, 82mm rockets could wreak bloody havoc amongst the more 'soft' targets, and there was nothing softer than the human body. Artyom watched morbidly interested as the rockets walked their way up the front of the villa.

The first few to make it hit near the ground floor in front of the villa, the concussive force shattering the windows higher above them, showering the area below with glittering rain. The ones after them hit the base of the building and rocked it, sending out chunks of masonry and stone in greedy chunks. The ones that hit higher up gutted the opulent upper floors, starting and snuffing flames with almost indecisive murderous glee. Flames burst out the already shattered windows and black smoke began to coil out even as the last of the rockets vaporized the expensive Spanish tiles on the roof.

Artyom's dropped his altitude and roared over the villa as he passed, hind snarling victoriously and brought the brute around in a savage turn, eager for more blood. Before it had even stabilized, Artyom jammed down the firing stud for the cannon and sent a combination of 14.5mm and 23mm rounds towards the burning villa, tearing great gouges out of the back and giving the hungry flames more oxygen to breathe and burn with. It was a hollow kind of satisfaction to see his enemies burn, but satisfaction none the less. There was a kind of allure to being able to lash out against those that made you angry. Unbound and unguided by the teachings of supposedly wiser men. Artyom didn't understand everything nor did he pretend to, but he did understand a few things. One of those things was that vengeance, while never able to fill the void left in you, felt damned satisfying to do. A bleeding heart had tried to tell him differently once, and he had laughed in the fools face.

The down-wash from his rotors pushed the smoke out and away from his hind as he watched the carnage he had wrought. It...was enough. The Colombian's wouldn't be a threat anymore, they wouldn't try to fuck with him again and if they did they wouldn't have the power to do anything and if they tried to establish a presence in Roanupur again, he would stamp them out. Thailand was a long ways from South America and now he was here. No one messed with him and no one stepped on his toes trying to get to his throat. Let this be a lesson to all the other groups as well. Cossack Support will come for you, no matter the cost. It would meet you like soldiers, not play some damned shadow war like the mafia's were so used to. It was then the Artyom became aware of the screaming in his ear. A screaming, and very pissed off voice that sounded a lot like a fiery blonde that he had failed to convince to come to his bed. Despite having been dating for almost a year. Then again there was an appeal to that, he didn't mind waiting until they got married, if they were going to. After all, Artyom had never even had a relationship that had lasted this long before anyways.

He listened long enough to get the gist of what Eda wanted, then rose, feeling the familiar and welcome shifting of pressure that came with turning in his beloved hind, heading to where his mercs had converged and where his very pissed off girlfriend were waiting for him.

Abrego groaned as he pulled himself from the flaming wreckage outside his villa. It was a miracle that he was still alive, and blood was running down his forehead from a deep gash and into his right eye, causing him to have to blink and wipe constantly so that he could see, turning his white suit a ruddy red. He crawled through what had once been a sign of power, the hot pieces of wood and stone burning his hands as he crawled, the smoke choking him. Abrego made it to the street and collapsed, a pair of immaculately made wingtips filling his vision. He looked up into the pudgy, apathetic, almost pitying face of his second, Miguel.

"Miguel, Miguel help me up. Help me,"gasped out Abrego. Miguel took another puff of an expensive Cuban cigar and tapped the ash onto Abrego's head.

"You were weak Abrego, weak and stupid."


"You forgot the thing that made the cartel great, what made us feared. You bowed down first to Chang, then to the scar-faced Russian bitch. Never give in, never compromise, never stop. You forgot how we forged our empire, how we became strong and what kept us strong. You forgot what gave us our edge and know we're all paying for it."

"What the hell are you talking about?" grunted Abrego pulling at Miguel's pant leg. "We need to get out of here, we need to get together and...and," stammered Abrego, his mind still fuzzy from the rockets.

"We need to do nothing," said Miguel disdainfully, kicking away Abrego's hands. "We, are done."

"You're...quitting the cartel?"

"Not quite, more like...making a change in management, with me as the new manager. Goodbye Abrego, I'll be sure to give you a nice funeral."

"No wait!" said Abrego desperately as a small and black automatic made itself visible in Miguel's hand. It barked three times, each bullet going into Abrego's skull. Blood and bits of brain clung to the otherwise pristine pant legs of Miguel's slacks. A few spatter drops of blood were clinging to Miguel's face as he turned away, taking out a handkerchief to wipe it away.

"Bring the car around would you Julian? We've got some new housekeeping duties to take into order," said Miguel, walking past his stunned guard. The man had been a loyal cartel soldier, and that meant loyal to Abrego. He had an UZI submachine gun on him, but didn't dare take it out. The cold, dead, predatory eyes of Miguel scared him more than any distant repercussions from the Cartel's back in the homeland.

"Yes Senor," was all he said. Julian could swear that he saw a predatory grin on Miguel's face as he rushed past to get the car.