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Condor's AC Shorts


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#1
Condor 216

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8 December 2010
East Landau Road


The morning jog along this ridge was the one thing that got Johann Seiler awake enough for breakfast to do the rest. It was fairly foggy out this morning, but he had gone back and forth along this route enough to have memorized where he was at a certain curve. Besides which, the new barriers along the sidewalk prevented anyone from falling over.

For all intents and purposes though, he was literally running along the line between life and death. On one side was a bustling major city, full of people, vehicles, and the occasional animals going about their daily routine. The skeletons of new skyscrapers dotted the horizon, new life growing out of what was once deemed hopeless for the reason that lay to his other side.

He didn't have to look all the way over there. He often ran past signs in both his native and adopted language that warned him and anyone else not to go past that intersection. After 15 years, almost anyone who had kept running through this area would have gotten used to it. 2 miles around a route that always varied, sometimes down a dirt path, other times around a local memorial, but always ending up back at his house. It was fairly small by the standards of the neighborhood, but when one was married to his work than family one didn't necessarily need so much luxury to keep around.

Besides, he quite liked going out and meeting the neighbors.

After the jog and a shower came breakfast. The kitchen was well-equipped for a family, but he rarely had time even for guests. Still, it was a good time as any to get some food and coffee down, and relax to some white noise consisting of the morning news.

"...assault is being turned back due to unexpectedly heavy resistance, however efforts to claim the capitol will continue through the night."

There was a war raging just across the twin oceans, one that seemed to have been coming for decades. Most scenarios the analysts drew up back then would have almost certainly led to nuclear annihilation after the first two weeks. But somehow, the world changed. They hadn't nuked each other off the face of the earth thanks to their disarmament. That didn't stop the news agencies from reporting on each article like they would.

Well, almost every article.

"The Assembly of Nations today continued to debate sanctions on both Osea and Yuktobania. The resolution, sponsored by the FCU, Nordland and Verusa, calls for the freezing of assets and the barring of trade with the two countries should the conflict continue into 2011..."

Seiler cringed a little, making a mental note to make a few extra phone calls on the way to work. The new facility in Port Edwards was 99.9% approved, requiring only a bundle of extra forms for formalities, and for sanctions to derail all of that simply because he happened to have his headquarters physically located in one of the warring powers would erase all that progress.

As soon as breakfast was done and the dishes were put in the washer, it was time to get dressed and off to work. He had recently started carrying a tablet computer on him, figuring it was a way to keep up with the times and advertise the technology his company put into it. One less product "Made In Verusa" would certainly bode well for any tax credits in the halls of Council.

And he could keep track of his schedule on-the-go. These days, it seemed like anything could happen to throw things off track..

"Where to sir?" the driver began. The kid was fairly new, recommended by a friend's relative. He clearly wasn't from around here from the sound of his accent, but he always brought Johann to work on time.

"The birdhouse."

"Yes sir," the kid replied. He was also loyal, never asking questions and keeping the drive nice and quiet. Not always good for career advancement, but shuttling a CEO certainly helped to pay for a bit of college. And fewer questions meant it was less likely for him to be an industrial spy.

 

Hangar 3, Renderhof Field

The convenient thing about being on good terms with the staff of an entire airfield was that the guard need only see the plate number of the car in order to let Seiler onto the premises. Even more convenient was the fact that being the airfield's majority owner enabled him to keep one hangar and adjoining building all to himself complete with a private security patrol to boot.

He still had to have the red square logo of his company painted on it though. Airfield regulations. But it at least kept the tech spotters' curiosity going as to what went on in there.

Not that he didn't mind that particular sort of attention, especially since he knew quite intimately what he was hiding from them.

The bright-red aircraft parked inside looked like something out of a science-fiction movie, with a sharply polygonal shape and what appeared to be portholes built into a solid canopy rather than plexiglass. Although his company had been working on it for the better part of two decades, he hadn't quite lost his sense of wonderment every time he came in and saw it a little closer to completion than he did the week before.

"I see you got its eyes to glow." Seiler began with a chuckle, as he approached the chief engineer, marking off items on his clipboard.

The engineer returned the smile. "Yes, we just finished fully wiring the canopy last night. The new motherboard's performance is really staggering."

"How staggering?" Seiler asked curiously.

"Check out our 'test pilot'." the engineer replied smugly.

Spoiler


"That one?" Seiler asked, pointing up at the man sitting in the cockpit. Instead of a giant glass bubble, the pilot actually slid himself in through what appeared to be some kind of hatch. This allowed for more of its 'eyes' - high-definition cameras that gave a damn-near-perfect view of the outside world in bright and low-light - to watch without blinking.

"Yeah. See why he's rubbing his head? He thought the canopy was already open. Good thing nothing was damaged."

The executive's eyes widened, as he nodded in approval.

"And we can still have it ready for ExAir?"

"Everything's on schedule except for the TLS, but-"

"That's all right, the TLS is not a priority. I don't intend to tear the bleachers in two." Seiler then put a thankful hand on the engineer's shoulder. "Keep up the good work."

"No problem boss. See you later." the engineer replied, before making his way toward the plane.

Seiler nodded and turned to leave, but the engineer had one more comment in store.

"Oh, and give my thanks to the Kronus guys. They really got the parts here quickly and in one piece."

The executive grinned at the mention. "I will, thank you."

Then it was back into the sedan, and off to his primary office - the 'inner sanctum' to take care of the other aspects of the daily grind. Unfortunately, today there would be no trips abroad or other functions to attend.

That didn't mean that nothing interesting could happen, such as the conversation on the way to his office building.

"Uh...Mr. Seiler?"

"Yes?"

"I was thinking of investing."

"Our company stock not enough for you?" Seiler asked wryly, though not sarcastically.

"I was thinking of diversifying," the driver replied, swallowing his hesitation. "You know the Faith Park Group?"

"The one with that...maverick enterpreneur and his merry band?"

Seiler was familiar with the name Francis Mondeci. The millionaire that suddenly appeared out of nowhere to start giving it all away to try to put out the fires left in the craters of the Usean wars. The only thing really surprising about it was that the ventures didn't all turn out completely bust.

"That's the one. They're really taking off from sponsoring small businesses around the world."

"Really."

"Yeah. They're gonna go public with a few of those next year under a new name. I just hope this war ends soon so we can really see what peace can bring."

It was no surprise to someone like Seiler that the youth would be so idealistic. There was nothing wrong with that in itself. But youth was often rightly wasted on the young, unless one had the resources to put that faith in action.

"Tell you what, you keep up taking me to work on time and I'll see what I can do about getting you some stock as a tip."

"Really? Thank you Mr. Seiler. I hope you don't mean insider trading though."

"Call me Johann," the executive replied with a smile. "Don't worry. I don't know about your CEOs down on New Lancaster, but we don't condone that at my company."

Okay, so the kid did ask a few questions. But as long as he didn't divulge any company secrets, there wasn't any harm in helping someone out.

 

CEO's Office
Later That Evening


Another day, another zollar, pound, yuan or whatever currency of choice was used on the various documents and reports sent up to him from various departments. His multi-screen display suspended from the ceiling normally enabled him to keep track of world events and the stock exchanges, but with 'normal trade' disrupted by current events they were little more than white noise and some pretty visuals.

It was only later in the evening, as he was working out his schedule for the next day that a notifier on the bottom right corner of the computer screen rigged to his desk popped up.

It consisted of three words: "Call from Klaus."

Johann took a deep breath, and put his papers to the side before picking up the phone and dialing his receptionist's desk.

"Eliza, it's that time of the night."

"Family call, Herr Seiler?"

"Yeah. You know the drill."

"Got it." The secretary began tapping out a series of commands on her laptop and the phone on her desk. All she saw were the blinders at the front windows closing up, but she had no idea that she was also activating a jammer that was precisely tuned to block off anything going out of the room without affecting anything as close as her own desk.

This was the most important part of the work day. With a series of clicks, another window popped up on the screen, bearing the face of a man not too much unlike him. Slightly aging, a bit weary, but most of all executive. The biggest contrast was the backdrop; this one appeared to reside in an old mansion of sorts.

Seiler began the conversation the same way he began it for the last few months.

"Good evening Klaus, I see the hotel still hasn't burned down yet."

"The guests are still quite comfortable here. I don't see why you need to ask how they are so often."

"Like I keep saying, I've got as much a stake in the hotel as you do. It's our investment, so I bear the profit and loss too."

"Same old Johann, heh."

Seiler smirked, and changed the topic to the one thing that had been weighing down on his mind for as long as he had that particular stake in the "hotel."

"Anyway, how was the vet?"

"James went quietly. A bit of pain, but he's at peace now."

Seiler sighed reluctantly. "Good to hear. Was it at your usual vet?"

"He was too rowdy for the vet, so he had to call another friend from the clinic."

He raised an eyebrow. He'd known this particular 'veterinarian' to be quite capable of putting down the rowdiest of dogs. Still, confirmation was confirmation.

"At least he won't be biting any more people." Johann sighed, leaning back in his seat.

"Yes, he's in a better place now. And I don't think anybody will miss him that much."
"I can only hope so. By the way, are the neighbors still fighting?"

This was something the 'hotel owner' knew a lot more about on his end.

"Like the Hatfields and McCoys. In fact..." Klaus then paused to recall something, "Joseph brought in a new guy to keep George out of his yard."

"Another one?"

"Yes. Actually, I remember him from when his rock band trashed our last hotel. Looks like he and Joseph made amends."

"Enemy of my enemy, I suppose. Hopefully he'll trash George's house instead."

"Long as I don't have to scrape egg off my windows again. Damn kids."

"Heh. Anyway, I've got to help cater a party in a little bit. See you soon."

"Same. Oh, and Stefan wants to pass his belated compliments to Uli for that bird your chefs cooked up for him last week."

"I will. You take care."

Seiler took a deep breath as the screen shut off and retracted back into his desk. He turned his seat around to face the window behind him and leaned forward, burying his face in his hands rather to take in the view of the Edelstein River leading up to his facility. It wasn't out of disappointment as it was of relief as he let his coded conversation simmer.

Wardog Squadron had been shot down at long last. But the cost to them had also been quite high - 30 pilots and crew dead and/or missing in those cold Yuktobanian wilderness. Not to mention the cost in technology that they had spent quite a pretty penny building, let alone concealing and then shuttling all the way across the frozen north to the Yuktobanian mountains where their pieces were now spread.

Yet all was not lost. The Osean Army was likely to be chased out of Cinigrad. And that meant they could at least have time to recoup their losses. But he didn't expect them to bring that new player onto the field.

General Mikhail Andropovich Kamarov had fallen out of favor with the communist government shortly after the war in 1995. More often than not it meant the end of their career if not their lives. But the junta that Seiler and his friends sponsored either saw some potential in him or was simply that desperate that they had brought him out of whatever obscure ceremonial post they had dumped him in to save the capital. Either way, Kamarov was doing his job well, for now.

That in itself was not surprising. Kamarov was one of the two Yuktobanian generals that commanded the opposition on the Eastern Front during the war 15 years ago. The other, General Oleg Ivanovich Pushkin, now led the junta that kept Prime Minister Nikanor safely tucked away while they exhausted their manpower and technology in fighting off their Osean invaders.

But banishment clearly had not tarnished Kamarov's knack for efficiency - if not his unusual benevolence for a product of the Yuke military machine. Of course, his reputation for having soldiers responsible grave abuses under his watch punished was beside the point.

Both of them - and the government that kept them on board - were responsible for tearing Belka in two and plundering their heartland.

As for Osea, their President was still "calling all the shots" through the Vice President - from his safehouse in Stier Castle. It was quite fortunate that the President's sabotaged plane happened to land near the training facility of a private military company owned by another colleague - the same one that brought back the parts for the ADF-01 Falken after Wardog very nearly exposed what would have been some rather nasty hypocrisy.

It disappointed Seiler that Prime Minister Nikanor's government had shelved their 'Samizdat' as part of their own military downsizing. Fortunately, Kronus Corporation's mercs had quietly brought the parts back under their no-bid contract to take part in Osea's "reconstruction and reconciliation" mission.

Solving problems was any businessman's nature. And the knowledge that he'd killed quite a few birds with some rather unorthodox stones was a good enough reason to retire early.

Seiler turned around and picked up the phone on his desk, dialling his receptionist.

"Eliza? Can you get the car ready?"

"Heading home early tonight, Mr. Seiler?"

"Going to head out to a nice dinner first. Finally finished something big, I think I can afford to treat myself a little bit."

"Congratulations, sir. He'll be in the driveway in 3 minutes."

As he withdrew his hand from the intercom, his attention drew to a small, slightly browned card encased in a simple yet sleek glass paperweight on his desk. While it may have seemed like a piece of trash to others, Johann Seiler had kept the card that marked his membership in the now-officially-banned National Workers' Party as a reminder of his duty.

He had been able to pass it off as an unfortunate time of his life in interviews, claiming that it was required of any employee that wanted to stay employed. It cleared him of suspicion in the public eye, and enabled him to move up the list of Belkans the Oseans could trust when looking for business in the newest state of the Federation.

Even better, the Osean military and business elite were grateful to him for having helped bring Sudentor back to life. And the icing on the cake was that the warming relationships between Osea and Yuktobania meant twice the business and profit for him, at least until the war began. He was fortunate that his allies in the Drachenau port authority up north let him skim off a portion of Grunder's goods to continue his company's relationship with the Red Giant that pillaged his heartland.

As for getting those shipments up to Belka in the first place with that embargo still in place, well, that's what the giant tunnels for a 'future high-speed rail line' were for.

Still, it certainly pained the CEO of Grunder Industries to refer to the fall of his country in such light-hearted terms. Even more so that General Pushkin was also the man that had the gall to raid Dinsmark after those fateful nuclear detonations.

But this sort of code was necessary in order to avoid the spying eyes of their competition...whoever they might have been at this point. With agents working everywhere from the foreign service at their diplomatic missions, to the engineers "repairing" the Arkbird sabotaged by the KGB, they might as well have been spying on themselves.

As long as that meant keeping the current status quo, the Gray Men would be able to sleep easy for one more night for the extra padding on their wallets, and a dream of a forcibly reunited Belka ever closer in their minds.

Johann Seiler got out of his chair, packed and took his briefcase, put on his coat and went downstairs to the sedan that would take him to a fancy local restaurant for dinner.

He looked at the schedule on the tablet's planner one more time as the sedan pulled away, the driver keeping silent. The schedule for the 9th wasn't much different from today's, save for a few more teleconferences with the folks working on the Port Edwards facility. His thoughts were already set on the first good night of sleep he would have in months.

Thousands of miles away, in another part of the icy north, the cerberus hounds the Gray Men had cast into the cold were about to plague his nightmares.

Edited by Condor 216, 15 December 2011 - 02:37 PM.

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#2
Georgia Ace

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Its nice to see you're writing again Condor.


Coporate intrigue and a look at the background dealings of the Grey Men in AC5. I like the inclusion of the little mundane things going on, it fleshes out the world a bit. I recognize a few of these names, I assume its tied into the apparently stillborn bartlett fanfiction and your own story. Or is this a seperate thing by itself.


What's that jet in the picture called again, I know its not the Falken or the wyvern is it?

I imagine Seiler should enjoy his comfort while he can, this is the point where Wardog begins to screw around with the Belkans' plans.

Can't wait to see what else you have in store.
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#3
Condor 216

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Its nice to see you're writing again Condor.


Coporate intrigue and a look at the background dealings of the Grey Men in AC5. I like the inclusion of the little mundane things going on, it fleshes out the world a bit. I recognize a few of these names, I assume its tied into the apparently stillborn bartlett fanfiction and your own story. Or is this a seperate thing by itself.


What's that jet in the picture called again, I know its not the Falken or the wyvern is it?

I imagine Seiler should enjoy his comfort while he can, this is the point where Wardog begins to screw around with the Belkans' plans.

Can't wait to see what else you have in store.


The jet is obviously the Falken. :B

Spoiler

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#4
gunslinger

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Seems decent.
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#5
Condor 216

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((So one day I decided to finally put my rendition of the Demon Lord of Ustio into writing.))

 

AFB Valais, Republic of Ustio
2 January 1996
1111 hours local

 

The pilot entering the base commander's office walked in with a sharp smirk and just enough swagger to show the people waiting inside that he was feeling damn proud of himself, and expected his due recompense for it.

 

His appearance alone was enough to draw everyone's attention. A mixed-race complexion just leaning over to the Sotoan side of his heritage, with stubble that leaned over the other direction. And the way his wavy black hair tangled over his forehead blocked just enough of the fluorescent office light from reaching his eyes to make his irises seem completely black. This was the icing on top of an imposing 6'1" figure dressed in a customized winter jacket over his UAF olive drab.

 

For a man who had just defeated an entire nation's army and a nuclear-armed insurgency, he was expecting a little more pomp and ceremony than what looked like no more than four or five bureaucrats and grunts in the room. There was the base commander and a couple of guards. To the side of the desk was a bespectacled, balding businessman who clearly looked like he'd been resigned to spending the rest of his life in middle management.

 

But Cipher could let that slide. After all the businessman was the one particular frequent visitor to the base he looked forward to seeing.

 

Far from biological family or any of the people he had been paid to call "comrades," the man was actually a liaison between Ustio's national bank and the military. Specifically, he was the man personally ensuring that the surviving mercenaries of Ustio's 6th Air Division received their payments on time and in full.

 

The payment for the most skilled mercenary of the unit was contained in three identical metal briefcases laid across a cheap fold-out table by the desk that was struggling to hold their weight.

 

For weeks he'd been shuffling to and from the facilities in the mountains and just over the border in Ratio, where Ustio had kept their precious bullion reserves safe from the Belkan blitzkrieg. Each visit inevitably entailed a small withdrawal that was tabulated onto computerized spreadsheets.

 

"Cipher," the base commander began. "I should be regretful that your contract with us is about to expire."

 

"You wouldn't be the only one," Cipher countered. "In any case, I trust everything's prepared?"

 

"As usual," the base commander replied with a sigh.

 

Without another word, the bank liaison went to the briefcases on the desk, and undid the locking mechanisms. He stepped back to allow Cipher the honor of opening them and inspecting their contents.

 

The veteran pilot could almost see his reflection in the three rows of kilobars arranged neatly in each briefcase, each bearing the shield of the Ustio National Bank and the appropriate purity markings. Something immediately put him off: for one, they shined white, not gold. Of course, they shined a bit too bright to be sterling silver.

 

"Platinum bullion kilobars," the UNB man explained, pointing to the other two placed by the desk. His voice sounded twenty years older than he was, a bitter mix of gratitude and resentment. "Nine-ninety-five purity minimum. Total market value of at least one million Osean zollars."

 

Nothing less of an offering would satisfy the Demon Lord himself.

 

It's plenty enough to give this shithole office a makeover.

 

The base commander, sitting opposite from him at the office's main desk, watched with an analytic resentment. "For services rendered to the Republic of Ustio against our enemies," he added, loud enough to not sound like a mutter.

 

Cipher's mental acuity went to work making an estimate as he seemed entranced by the bars.

 

"40 to 50 kg a case..." he muttered to himself. Not too hard for a fighter pilot at the peak of physical fitness to lift. "At the current prices...should be three hundred a case easy."

 

He made a mental note to check the New Lancaster price indexes as soon as he got a hold of the business paper to make sure they weren't stiffing him over too badly. That was the norm in the industry, of course, but he could at least trust a first-world country he'd personally saved from two different instances of oblivion to at least be more indirect in screwing him over as some factional warlord or quasi-sane dictator.

 

He then let out a dark chuckle. 1 million in platinum bullion was a nice way to pad the secret account he'd set up in Sant-Mikael in West Verusea for his escapades. And that was just the payment for defeating the anarchist insurgency that suddenly reared its ugly head in the last week. He got another briefcase for helping the Belkan fascist party on toward their own nuclear collapse, as well as standard kill payments in wire transfers of plain old cash for fighters, bombers, ships and other targets.

 

Naturally the reward could have been bigger, what with all the bounties that had been put out on the Belkan leadership-in-hiding by the Osean and Yuke governments. Communists my ass. We're all after the same shit. He was especially disappointed that the XB-freaking-Oh only counted for two bombers, and Belka's most famous aces for two fighters.

 

All that was still hardly a drop in the ocean. Thanks to him, the two most powerful countries in the world now had their claws deep in what used to be the thired, the territories it used to own, and the billions upon billions upon billions in natural resources and industry at stake to prepare them for their final war against each other as meteors prepared to devastate everything they didn't touch.

 

And at least, I've made more in six months than these fucking pencil pushers and naive young "patriots" are gonna make in their entire fucking careers.

 

But he'd been keeping up with more than just the precious metals prices and the world news. The once vaunted Belkan military was being dismantled as they spoke, and that meant plenty of soldiers out of work. The battle for Ustio proved the viability of the mercenary market, and now there was going to be plenty of competition for even less cash.

 

More monsters fighting for less meat.

 

"You're a monster, Cipher," came a young, accusing voice from across the room.

 

Speak of the devil.

 

He looked up from the briefcase toward the source of the voice, before picking up one of the kilobars for inspection.

 

Monster was among the milder insults he'd had to endure over his flying career, along with 'merc.' Or at least, it was the kind of vague descriptor - referring to either his ruthlessness or his non-Osean-continental heritage - that he'd learned to take in stride.

 

In this case the insult was issued from the mouth of one of the 'naive young patriots' that had arrived likely from exile during the six silent months between the war and the short-lived multinational insurgency that was extinguished as quickly as it began.

 

"Yeah," he replied with a shrug, inspecting one of the platinum kilobars in a gloved hand. "But I'm your monster."

 

And he was right. When Ustio's most experienced pilots fell to the Belkans in a matter of hours, Ustio put out a call for reinforcements. Osea sent a few token expeditionary forces to keep their confidence up but it was ultimately the call of the mercs to crawl out of the woodwork. And for him, it was a chance to escape the familiar as well as the low pay that accompanied it.

 

But he wouldn't have been assigned an aircraft in the first place were it not for one of their senior pilots taking that "that creeper in the corner" under his wing. It amazed his comrades that someone would take in a psychopath that Ustio knew would show up for what he did back in what was left of his own country of origin and a couple of places nearby. Not that there was much left of the central Sotoan countries where he'd grown up and earned his bones to destroy anyway, and hell, the money for fighting a mercenary war for a first world country was tempting to anyone.

 

In any case, that particular senior pilot was now presumably incinerated along with billions in experimental Belkan military technology. The other merc pilots from that day in the briefing room had already taken their money and ran, or were also incinerated in technology that was a lot less valuable.

 

Killing his own wingman didn't give him a bonus on top of the million. But the thrill of that battle was worth its own weight in platinum.

 

Or at least worth as much as it took for him to make sure the Ustians deleted his name from the system once he left. Wouldn't want any survivors from the insurgency added onto the rather long list of warlords, generals and people considered assholes by other people that wanted his severed head on a pike.

 

Nevertheless, as the Demon Lord stared at his warped reflection in the kilobar, he felt quite satisfied that he not only taught the Ustians how to fight, but also how capitalism worked.

 

They invested in him, and he paid dividends and interest. This cool million in bullion was just the last upkeep payment.

 

And the Demon Lord knew a little bit about investing himself. He hadn't just cultivated contacts that knew how to kill. There were plenty of companies poised to score big on the oncoming quasi-apocalypse, and as long as the money stayed fluid, he could ride it out better than just sitting on it like one of those Osean backwater survivalists.

 

Not that he couldn't afford to part with maybe one or two bricks for some R&R. Or maybe even a little reinvestment to the local community.

 

"Here," Cipher began, taking the kilobar in his hand and giving it an underhanded toss to the trainee with a showman's smile. "Have yourself a night out on me."

 

The trainee fumbled with the bar before catching it in a crossed-arm cradle. He then stared at it for a few moments before lobbing it right back.

 

"How about you just fuck right off." the trainee retorted. The bank man recoiled and ducked as the platinum kilobar flew back across the room, the base commander and his troops flinched, but Cipher instead caught it back in the hand he tossed it with.

 

"Fine by me," he shrugged before placing it back in the briefcase, not turning to see the trainee storm off.

 

The bank man straightened himself up along with his tie, wiping some sweat off his suddenly shiny forehead with a pocket square that clearly cost more than the Ustians did to make the thick standard-issue scarf wrapped around the Demon Lord's neck.

 

"Anyway. This looks reasonable," Cipher continued, having gone over the contents. He gestured to the bank man to close and lock the briefcases for transport. The bank man complied almost feebly, handing Cipher the keys to the briefcases. "I believe we're done here."

 

"Good. We would like to commend you for your service to Ustio. You may contact us if you would like to transfer your current commission into a permanent position with us, so you may also receive formal recognition."

 

Like hell I am. Medals and ribbons ain't worth the brass they're stamped on. "I'll keep it in mind," was how he translated it into speech. "I take it my ride is waiting outside?"

 

"Yes." The base commander sounded increasingly relieved as he continued. "The transport will drop you off at Preston Municipal airfield, where a chartered plane will take you to a destination of your choosing."

 

Sant-Mikael, here I come. Shit, I'd better have a new tuxedo ready.

 

"Then we are all set. It has been an honor to serve you," Cipher said, not even trying to hide a deceitful smile.

 

"I do wish I could say the same." the base commander was finally relieved enough to speak his mind. "Dismissed."

 

Cipher only responded with a smile as he picked up one briefcase. It really was at least 300,000 zollars heavy, but then again, he was still quite exhausted. The base commander gestured for the two guards near him to pick up the other briefcases.

 

As the four got outside, the bank manager hurriedly shuffled into a waiting sedan by the front door of the building - an ironically Belkan-made Gnade - and hurried off. To sign off on another paycheck or have a stiff drink.

 

The guards escorted Cipher to a waiting Air Force SUV on the opposite side of the parking lot, loading the three briefcases into the rear left-side seat. Cipher got in on the other side, while the guards got in the front and started the engine.


It wasn't exactly a Gnade in the back seat, but Cipher sank back as far as the military-grade fabric would allow and prepared himself for a nap. Three hours back to civilization from this old place.

 

The route from the parking lot to the base exit ran partially along the old runway, and the few surviving hangars from the day the XB-0 tried to run them over. He took one last sentimental gaze at the one where his old F-15 was stored, painted back into standard gray and...

 

"Hold up, stop. I need to do something."

 

The guards complied without another word, and stopped in front of the hangar. Cipher quickly fished the keys out of one of his jacket pockets and removed his scarf.

 

It wasn't the plane that caught his eye, it was the fact that someone appeared to be sitting beside it. Specifically, the young rookie from the office was curled up and facing away under the old Eagle's front landing gear - now repainted back into standard gray. And he sounded like he was crying.

 

He placed his scarf, a UAF standard-issue rag that did serve its purpose, beside the rookie. The rookie noticed, giving Cipher a brief, tearful glance before noticing the scarf was clearly wrapped around something, then resumed staring up at the plane.

 

And with that did the Demon Lord finally take his leave, getting back in the SUV and telling the guards to drive on, down the three hours of twisting mountain roads back to civilization.

 

They had barely begun accelerating when there was a clank (or a thud?) against the back of the armored SUV, as well as the sound of screaming. It didn't take much for Cipher to convince the guards to keep moving anyway, or for him to avoid looking out the window and back.

 

The Demon Lord of Ustio sighed and tried to close his eyes. Tried to imagine champagne and the daughters (and possibly sons) of royalty on the Sant-Mikael Riviera, and the pristine white sand resorts and 7-star hotels of the United Emirates of Verusea and the very-well-deserved R&R he'd been looking for since finally escaping Central Sotoa.

 

He could only think of how he felt exactly like the man that taught him what he knew - and how strikingly similar he'd reacted to the rookie as he watched the idea of 'ideals' slowly begin to melt away, like so much platinum.

 

Like the one kilobar now missing from the briefcase.


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#6
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I liked it.   Well done.


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#7
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this 2deep4me.

 

What happened at the end?


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#8
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I don't believe we've seen the end.....


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#9
Condor 216

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this 2deep4me.

 

What happened at the end?

 

basically he tried to give that platinum brick to the rookie again, with similar results


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#10
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I guess it was the end.   Still, well told!


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#11
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>Gnade

Yey RR inclusion. Would have been cooler if it was a Soldat or something.

I honestly thought the Ustians would try to pull something on Cipher instead of letting him walk away with 3 cases of platinum. Good read.
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#12
Condor 216

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I guess it was the end.   Still, well told!

 

They aren't AC shorts for nothing. But it's definitely not the end of his story.

 

 

>Gnade

Yey RR inclusion. Would have been cooler if it was a Soldat or something.

I honestly thought the Ustians would try to pull something on Cipher instead of letting him walk away with 3 cases of platinum. Good read.

 

Balding middle management bankers don't tend to drive exotics. Unless you mean the Rumeur compact from RRV. :P

 

Or maybe they did pull something on Cipher before he got back to civilization, maybe that's why you never hear about him again. WHO KNOWS...


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#13
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Nice job, Condor very nice. 

 

I think I got what happened at the end. Though the "thud" sound made me think a bar had hit someone in the head!

 

So do Cipher and Nachtigall end up as work buddies, because that would be hilarious. 


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#14
Condor 216

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Maybe they do, maybe they don't. I cannot confirm nor deny at this point (mainly because I haven't established that part of canon yet) :(


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#15
=Delta=

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I'm actually intrigued as to your making Cipher black - totally not something I'd expected. I love the "straight to the point" mercenary attitude you've given him too, showing he hasn't learned a thing from everything that happened. Makes room for further positive development down the road, if you decide that Cipher actually does become Scarface 1 or Mobius 1. Though considering he's going to Verusea...


Edited by =Delta=, 04 September 2013 - 09:01 PM.

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#16
Condor 216

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Well technically it could be a while before he ends up as Scarface 1. I distinctly remember the mention of "where NATO forces have failed" on the back of the original Air Combat case, so I figured AC1 was really set in some generic shithole republic.
 
Also, I envisioned Cipher as mixed-race and growing up in the midst of the equivalent of southern Africa's rebellions during the 1970s to the end of apartheid, to add to the air of mystery as well as his rationale for being so obsessed with fame and power in the course of survival. I would think the ability to return as Scarface 1 will definitely fuel that further, if he isn't drunk with power by the end of AC2/L he'll definitely be intoxicated by wealth.

 

If you notice, when you complete Mission 17 on Mercenary, PJ says "We're gonna be rich!" instead of "We're gonna be heroes!"
 
As for what happens after Ulysses, I think I actually DO have that in mind, but I will neither confirm nor deny that either.
 
no unified protagonists beyond that though sorry


Edited by Condor 216, 05 September 2013 - 12:10 AM.

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#17
=Delta=

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Very neat backstory. I'd actually considered including Sotoa in my Ace Combat campaign I've been writing, considering it being the "West Verusean War" but I feel I've got more than enough countries participating already. Not to mention, in the Strangereal power grid map I've seen around, Sotoa barely has a central source of electricity, so I feel that'd say more than enough about its capabilities to wage war (even though it'd be a defensive one at that point in my story).

 

In any case, I like how you manage to stuff so much world-building in these shorts. I can't even begin to imagine how Cipher's previous activity in Sotoa went down, just from how you presented it.


Edited by =Delta=, 05 September 2013 - 12:47 AM.

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#18
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 Strangereal power grid map I've seen around,

 

Seen around where, please.   Always provide sources when making statements like this.


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#19
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Mapdone4vw.jpg

 

Granted, I'm not too sure about it being official, but it's the best bet I've got at present.


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#20
Condor 216

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Yeah I think that was one of Zaku's.

 

But yeah, these shorts and the World News Archive (which deal mainly with over-arching events as compared to personal ones) are my way of fleshing out my "Condorverse." Basically you'd have a Far Cry 2-esque situation in certain parts of central Sotoa where the new revolutionary governments aren't really that much better than their colonial masters, compounded with all the weapons stocks that the colonial powers left behind as well as whatever the new superpowers give.

 

It's that kind of environment that would foster the growth of the mercenary industry and corresponding mentality.


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