Library:Kayahallpa - Unit 78
|Tupaq Churan City|
188.8.131.52.15 (Calendar Round date), March 24 1983
Mayun District, Tupaq Churan City, 19:54
“I told ya, asshole. If you don’t get the guy by tomorrow, you’re done.”
“Shuku, just give me a little more time, it’s almost ready, Leader.”
The call ended with a silent goodbye. The fifty-something old man from the rural Patiwilqa region, once accustomed to growing vegetables in the village gardens, always had bigger plans. Others simply called him ”ant”, Shuku, a nickname he gained somewhere along his brutal trajectory as he assumed his role in the Serpent Eye. Said role is a secret to everyone, yet none; he operates in the shadows, yet lives in the light. Right then, it could best be described as murky. He generally got what he wanted, and when he didn’t, hellfire reigned.
As he finished his evening routine of keeping contact with his network of agents, informants, bosses and workers, Shuku got out of the bare-bones bedroom in his temporary residence and stepped over to the window to view the sun setting over the murky smog of Tupaq Churan City. The largest city in the country, its size makes it the perfect place to slip away from watchful observers, and Shuku’s hitch told him only one thing: the guy’s here. Somewhere in these rustic buildings, heated by the oppressive desert sun and pounded by dry sands, was a face the regime had been hunting for years. Shuku was counting on getting him this time. He knew he might never get another chance.
With the rapidly descending nightfall covering the streets in dim moonlight, the many unlit backstreets of the city were about to become a playground of cat and mouse. Shuku sat by a brown kitchen bench and turned on an almost nostalgically old radio, listening intently to the evening show of ”Wari News”. As the national broadcaster, it is directly controlled by the “Enforcers”, Kayahallpa’s revolutionary defense force. This was no idle program, however; he and everyone else in his plan knew exactly what they were listening to. The radio show discussed the latest global news from its typically hardline Achtilist perspective.
(radio turns on) “Welcome to Wari News, your source of daily news information, live events and trustworthy commentary. I’m Pachatusan, and this is the evening broadcast...”
The host goes on to discuss various world events, sometimes joined by carefully vetted guests, and goes in great detail to discuss the immorality and decadence of the “Latins” and their appreciators at home who are presented as an existential threat that attacks, oppresses and isolates Kayahallpans.
Shuku’s ears listened intently. He generally preferred to read the newspapers instead, but this time the sound waves illuminated by the device were to contain a secret phrase, as they often do, signaling the beginning of a major undercover operation not just here, but across the Sacred Republic’s asphalt jungles.
Shuku rushed back to the phone and dialed a nonexistent number -- not one you’d find in the catalogs, anyhow. He shouted, with a hint of anger, to “begin the cleansing”. There was no response other than a tacit confirmation of receiving the message, and the call ended. Sweat began to pour down Shuku’s face as he witnessed the sounds of a motorcade of gunshots and screams descending upon the urban blocks, a carefully planned orchestra of violence set to capture a state enemy in his slumber. The city’s civilian communications were strategically blacked out, which would be officially blamed on a “nonstandard malfunction” in the power lines. At the moment, though, it seemed as if pure chaos reigned in the streets as the Serpent Eye’s elite units closed in on a network of nondescript housing complexes, built in the typical dull brown brickwork of the neighborhood.
The residents of an apartment on the 7th floor of “Pachamama Complex Building 3” were already identified as prime suspects, based on informant reports. While other locations were also to be targeted in the same area, the crème de la crème of the tactical units beelined to the seventh floor apartment under cover of smoke. Shuku had calculated resistance to be ‘probable’, and collateral damage as ‘likely necessary’. If the residence was not secured within fifteen minutes or the unit went cold, a destroy-it-all team would arrive to tear it down with other residents being evacuated, if possible.
Shuku paced back down to the radio, battery-powered for situations like these, and glanced at his watch. For now, all he could do was wait.
Pachamama Complex, near Building 3, 21:07
Nine heavily armed men in tactical gear are standing near an unexceptional matte park area, their presence only illuminated by the dim street lights against the backdrop of the cracked roads and litter. A stray dog lay whimpering some fifty meters away next to the backside of a gigantic poster advertising a Rezese pharmaceutical brand; it doubles in function as an adjustable solar panel, one of the countless many in the city.
The nine guys stood in a semicircle near the entrance of the complexes. One of them, a tall man with an appearance that could be mistaken for a Pulaui, turned his face and said, “You good, Nine?”
They made brief eye contact with Nine and replied, “Yeah, Eight. I don’t like seein’ that dog.”
A third operative, a short and stocky guy with slightly oversized gear, gave off a quick laugh and assured Eight, “It’s not the only dog we’re taking down tonight.”
“Shut up”, retorted a frustrated Eight. “I’m getting signal.” All of them focused on the voice lines emanating from the small device on Eight’s chest, which finally gave them the all-clear. Like a switch being turned on, a flurry of activity began all around them, and their mission was simple: get to the apartment, get the guy, leave.
The swift march up to the 7th floor went quickly by their standards. This team was used to sniper fire, explosions, hidden mines and everything under the sun that terrorists, the “bandits” - members of opposition forces like the People's Army for the Revolution, Kayan Liberation Front, various ethnic secessionists, and so on - threw on them, and most of them had lost some part of their bodily or mental function for it. But what they did have was experience.
Eight was the first up to the apartment door and uttered, “This be it. One, you go.” The member known as One, the longest-tenured of them all and once a local figure of Achtil’s Sakbeist Revolution himself, gave off a prayer before he led them in. In their minds, they were guided by Chak himself, and their reward for helping the priesthood’s regime catch its opponents was a place in the eternal paradise after death, to become a new shining star in the night sky. This would be no time for lengthy prayers, however, something they all knew.
One rammed through the entrance to Unit 78 as he shouted, “Go! Move! Go!”, with the whole team occupying the hallway in and outside the apartment in a few seconds, ready to respond to any potential threats. After One quickly scanned his surroundings for evidence of any such threat, he motioned for the others to follow. Two, Three and Four quickly began to scour the residence for inhabitants.
Three, a man in his 40s and former pro-Achtil student rioter, walked into what seemed like the remains of a kitchen. The outer facade’s window had been broken, leaving a thousand glass shards that made a cracking sound when walking on, but it covered the entire narrow way to the rest of the apartment. On the kitchen table lay two human bodies with untold wounds, burn marks, and open chest cavities as if they had been sacrificed.
Three looked at the corpses and could only let out a sudden, “Shit.”
Two and Four followed right behind him and grinned. Four asked them both, “What the fuck is that?”
Neither of them could give a good response. It looked even worse than most of what they’d been normalized to, their faces not even recognizable. The other team members were making progress through the rest of the apartment and were just as dumbfounded.
Nine stepped into a bedroom, which was full of water on the floor, and went back out into the hallway, only saying, “Close that room off. Someone tell Leader this spot is cold.”
Six, the youngest member of the troupe, spotted a written note on top of a drawer, begging to be picked up by a heavily armed stranger with bulletproof vests. “Hold it.”
Two, a naturally anxious person who wouldn’t call themselves a man if they lived in a different place and time, asked Six, “What’s so interesting about that note?” And read it for themselves. The note is written with overly archaic language, featuring dated expressions and a much greater number of Mutulese glyphs than typical of the day, so Two must read twice to understand it.
‘’Salutations, traitors! Let this message heed you all who read these, and be damned, you foolish agents, for our souls shall curse this abode with damnation forevermore. Have you no respite for my comrades’ bleeding which you so accurse us to suffer? Have you no mercy for the free of thought? Have you even the littlest of meaning but to march us, this great nation, into oblivion? Pity! You shall not find my family's tortured testimonies in good use, for they are no longer here among us. Go die, you bastards.
Comrade Puka Mach’aqway, People’s Red Army."
Somewhere near Tupaq Churan City, after midnight
The night sky was clear, with communications only partially brought back online near the sprawling cityscape, traffic almost nonexistent. Shuku had already inspected the site of the operation before driving over to a small structure outside the city’s borders, which on the outside appeared as just a nonchalant office building sitting in an open area. A couple of armed guards stood near an RV and redirected any unwelcome visitors away from the site. He parked his electric Oxidentalese-made vehicle near a conveniently placed charger and entered the structure, which when entered reveals a downwards staircase leading to a surprisingly well-furnished conference room, the surroundings taken into account.
A dark man with sunglasses, carefully trimmed hair and modernized poncho suit greeted Shuku, saying, “Mr. Shuku, please. Sit down next to Ms. k’Rossi here.” Shuku took his seat and gave her a quick formal greeting in his best Rezese.
“You can call me Angela.” The urban business-noblewoman explained, in fluent Kaya Simi, “No need to force yourself. I’ve been in Kayahallpa for a while.” Angela smiled, the two of them exchanging a second of awkward eye contact before they were interrupted by Chak'in, who sat opposite to them at the mahogany roundtable.
Chak'in, equally as muscular as he was well-dressed, gave them a reminder, saying, “Now that you’re here, Shuku, we can begin the meeting.”
Few knew much of him, but behind his foggy glasses and blunt look, Chak'in possessed the most potent political and economic resource in the country: the Supreme Leader’s divine blessing to make deals. He lit up a cigar from a small tray on the table, took a deep breath from it, and brought up a small bunk of papers. He offered the others a joint of their own, of which Shuku happily obliged.
The dark man sealed the entrance to the room and subtly activated a recorder as Chak'in seated himself closer to the table, saying in a deep voice, “Thank you for coming here as well, Angela. Your family has been a great boon for our operations to secure the national interest by offering your services, of which Shuku has worked hard to put to good use. As a representative speaking on the Supreme Leader’s behalf, we are entering a new phase as we adapt our efforts to safeguard the Revolution.”
Angela and Shuku focused on Chak’in as he continued, “The fact is that, going forward, we are going to witness an exceptional demand for surveillance, armaments, and machinery, all cutting-edge. There is no doubt that this will have massive repercussions for the nature of our operations.” He handed one of the papers over to Angela, who duly scanned its contents.
The document itself, addressed from the ”Sacred Kayahallpan Republic Revolutionary Sakbeist Committee for the Maintenance of Ideological Cohesion”, was, in reality, a thinly veiled threat against Inizatun k'Rossi itself: either hugely increase their efforts in helping observe, find, and catch the Kamasqa’s political enemies, or risk losing their untold numbers in assets throughout the country. All three knew the situation was more nuanced than so: actually seizing the House’s Kayahallpan assets would be a suicide move, but the document was personally signed by Pitiy Achtil. His word was the source whence all others in the machinations of government derived their influence; without possessing a semblance of Achtil’s favor, no individual could succeed in Kayahallpan politics.
Chak’in handed another one of the papers to Shuku, saying, “This will inform you of your duties going forward.” Shuku examined it quickly and folded it into a hidden pocket.
Angela gathered herself after a moment of looking struck and spoke with a solemn but concerted voice, “This will require the CEO’s approval. I can’t -” She hadn’t even finished her sentence before Chak’in laid his hands together tightly and interrupted her.
“It has already been discussed. You will be informed shortly. Now go.”