Description: Returning from Southtown, Heidern speaks to Argent Merce regarding plans for the organization's future...
There a certain balance one must strike as C.O. of a mercenary company, particularly one as unique as the Ikari Warriors - a balance between what is just and right, that sense of honor necessary to motivate lagging soldiers... and what is pragmatic and, ultimately, necessary. Oftentimes, decisions leaning to the latter must be kept in the shadows; or at least compartmentalized to the proper members of the organization.
Though he hardly seemed impressed at the time, and took a decidedly different approach to the 'Plan A' for dealing with the current global geopolitical situation, Heidern nevertheless took note of Argent's practical, data-driven methods. The man was smart, no doubt about it - and if fighting this Justice Gear head-on proved impossible... he'd need men like him to survive the fight and carry on a guerilla war with whatever resources remained.
Men like Argent, the Ikari money-man and human data processor. Men like the ones who have made up the Intelligence teams left behind at Ikari HQ with just a skeleton crew of guards to watch over them. Poring over data, reports from around the world, looking for some way to strike at the United Nations should the main Ikari spearhead be destroyed and scattered to the wind.
The Command Center is the only noticeably busy part of the usually bustling Headquarters remaining - teams of radio operators, Intelligence Analysts, non-combatants working almost around-the-clock. Stepping down the stairs into the concrete bunker is the Commanding Officer himself - having recently returned from a trip to Southtown to 'recruit' the enigmatic fighter K'.
His remaining eye scans the room, looking for Argent in particular - they need to discuss a few things...
Argent Merce, despite his proposal to Heidern being rejected in favor of a direct assault (which Argent frankly felt suicidal, with the valuable human capital that the Ikari Warriors had, wielded in an incongruous fashion), was still working ardently on the counter Gear project. He understood that there were many concerns to be managed by the various leadership staff of the mercenary company, and his only concern was economics of action dynamics. It was information he had picked up from a woman on his college campus, one of those odd lovers you come across and then discover more about later through internal ruminations. An Israeli martial arts strategy to economics was always useful, and Kapap had certainly enhanced his blade grappling and dance fighting. As a Frenchman with a dirk, he needed minimal action to save his energy and strike with as many purposes in a single action. It also helped with small unit tactics, particularly with funding them.
And economic war?
Just part of the equation.
Right now, Argent was applying a market socialist system of reimbursement in lieu of corporate taxes, German social market theory, to analytically process through potential business contacts around Europe and the American East Coast. The United Nations had facilities along the eastern seaboard in America, and around Central Europe in America, and if he could manipulate Europol or Eurojust (the European Union's two major law enforcement bodies independent of the United Nations and their contracted mercenary police corporate company, Interpol), or sway syndicate groups in America against United Nations deep covers, it would be useful. Heidern thought in terms of grand battles, he had lost whatever part of Rugal Bernstein existed in his heart with that eye being removed.
It was just a matter of finding the organizations that had investments in the communities their facilities were located in, and opening up inquiries into potential partnerships in a non-binding manner. Argent had a few corporate fronts located in Portugal for the purpose, their incredibly liberal drug laws and socialist finance policies with state-owned companies allowing him to pose as a rehabilitation officer with the Red Cross.
Striding through the unusually cramped command center, various soldiers salute their C.O. - some of them showing visible surprise that he's already returned to Headquarters after his inspiring speech about heading to Japan to face the Justice Gear head-on. Some of them, however, have been around and serving with the Warriors long enough to know that Heidern would be long-dead if he weren't a pragmatist himself. He might not be able to live with HIMSELF standing by and playing the long game against a threat that could destroy the planet, but he hardly expects the entirety of the Ikari apparatus to throw themselves headfirst into such a desperate, risky situation.
Long paces bringing him swiftly to Argent's position off to the side, the man obviously absorbed into his work, and he brings his boots together to signal his appearance behind the money-man and economic theorist. "Merce," he says - his voice low, calm, neutral, the voice of a man who is here to discuss business and nothing more, none of the firey, inspirational passion of the previous speech left in his tone, "Glad to see you still at work."
He pauses a moment, his uncovered eye glancing around and then leaning down slightly, lowering the volume of his voice to make the conversation as private as possible. Anyway, most of the other Officers and Civilians present seem to be busy with their own work, chatter on the radios, morse code beeps, and calm verbal calculations going on all around the bunker structure. It's unlikely anyone will be able to hear their conversation - removed as they are from the bulk of the happenings in the Command Center.
"I want you to know, I understand your position. It might even be the smart one. But it's not the right one; not for me, not for the men and women who volunteered to come with me. We know the risk. That's why you're here, that's why they're here," he says, sweeping his hand to gesture at the assembled, busy-at-work individuals scrambling around the bunker, "that's why I'M here, talking to you."
Argent swings around in his office chair at his computer, folders and printouts and glossy sheets hung on a single cubicle wall with multi-colored graphs and data references at his side. He lays his falsely ambidextrous left hand on his knee as he looks up at Heidern. "Thank you, sir," he says, having intuited that a salute would be inappropriate, as would a rise from his chair. Heidern's an exceptional judge of character, but he's already figured out that the man doesn't like spies, even if Heidern may not fully realize it. The spy - a man capable of being a criminal, maybe even a dictator or maniac, but finding working with socially normative society far more lucrative.
"Allow me to dissuade you from compliments," the long-haired Frenchman says with an odd smile. "I've got quite enough for myself inside my head. Criticism will do."
The smile flicks away with a twitch of his mouth as he turns to his computer screen. The mounted flatscreen is turned to face Heidern, showing, first, a list of European Union police and judicial officials loyal to his cause. Most of them are from oddities, the ones he's had underlined in red. A Belgian Walloon in charge of customs enforcement, a North Irish law enforcement officer in charge of mediating disputes between the Orange Order and Sinn Fein, even a lawyer in bed with the Sicilian Mafiaso on the isle at the toe of the boot, used as a representative of the Mafia with government officials to end human trafficking by the Russian Mafia.
"These are a list of European officials I've compiled from pokes and prods, that might be able to help us locate whatever conspiracy has invaded the United Nations. The United Nations is an honorable organization, controlled by the Non-Aligned Movement. That's South America, Indochina and China, and Africa. Fifty-five percent of the world's population is a member, and two thirds of the United Nations. So you see, the UN representatives are ratcheting backwards through the world's most lucrative commodity markets, controlled by whatever banks that have infiltrated the United Nations. Those are all European cartels. We need to save the United Nations, by removing the infection."
He clicks his mouse, then American criminal syndicate members appear, all of them illegally targeted by Interpol, all on the East Coast. "I'm not sure what Interpol's position is, but I'm pretty sure we can recruit many of the organized criminals in these organizations to keep Interpol busy. No hunt-and-kills, Interpol is a mercenary company like us, they just work for the United Nations. I don't want bad blood, but it would tie them up. They're salient operatives in terms of blending in."
Argent turns around to look up at Heidern, slipping a piece of black pepper flavored Nicorette in his mouth. "The Justice Gear is a short term concern, one they want us watching. These are banks running this, they want the third world commodity markets. America is opposed, that's our only comfort. The question is, what does Japan have, and where's the mole inside Japan working for our hidden foe."
Heidern stands, spine straightened, gloved hands in the jacket of his long olive-drab trenchcoat as he regards Argent through one narrowed eye - his face remaining stern and impassive throughout the entirety of the man's rundown.
Finally, at the end of it - particularly after the mention of the Justice Gear as a 'short-term concern' - the gruff Ikari C.O. simply stares firmly at the money-man and shakes his head. "Short-term? In my line of work we call that an 'immediate threat'," he grunts in the tone of every hard-ass General since the days of Patton, "As in, it needs to be dealt with immediately, before someone even WORSE than the United Nations gets their hands on it. Imagine that beast in NESTS hands? And Shadaloo? They're too quiet."
He pauses, raising one gloved hand out of his pocket and resting his chin between thumb and fore-finger, staring down at the table for a moment as he considers things. "No, Merce - we can't take the chance of letting this thing snowball."
His eye travels over the charts and graphs, and reads in the details on the listed European officials. "Good, good.." he grumbles, as if to himself, as he takes in the information and processes the potential avenues it could open up IF this conflict goes long-term.
"I'm heading back to Southtown tonight, there's a man there who has thrown in his lot with the Japanese Forces - a good man, all the same. I'll see what information I can gather from him. But regarding Justice; diversion or not, we just don't have enough time to sit back and gather information while this Gear does God-knows-what. I take no pleasure in putting my men, volunteers or not, in harm's way..." he says, leaving out any specific mention of Leona - though he no doubt has his adopted daughter, and her possible fate, firmly in mind.
"You know this could easily be a suicide mission. If it buys the world a week's more time to prepare some resistance, I'll gladly sell my life. But IF that happens... if we don't come back from this..."
His eye narrows noticeably, staring directly at the seated Argent, a sudden fire to his glance - and then he says, his voice low, harsh... "Then no options are off the table. I know you might not be a fighter, Argent, but I know you've got the stomach for making tough decisions. It might come time when we need to strike United Nations assemblies, facilities... even the ruling parties of member nations. What I need to know, now, is if you're ready to make those calls. To task whatever assets remain in-play with doing whatever they can to make these bastards bleed."
Argent listens blaisely, chewing his Nicorette in lieu of continuing his smoking habit during wartime. "Sir, I'm capable of assaulting the United Nations, under orders." He doesn't want to say it to Heidern. Heidern is a God among men still, but he lacks the depth to make the rational decision in a political situation. Shadows and illusions and veils. Argent knows the disorder very well - a warrior is who is in ability with his fighting, as who he is as a leader. That eye Rugal tore out makes Heidern dependent on his men forever for these decisions. Rugal has set up a game for his rival, Argent knows this. Heidern is as only as good as the men he hates to waste.
"If left to the devices I would use, my selection would be pinpoint attacks to gather information or disrupt confidence in the targeted alliance groups." He turns the screen back to himself and briefly moves the mouse about, pulling up a map of the gross domestic capital of the Non-Aligned Movement, the dominant political representation inside the United Nations. It numbers in the tens of trillions in American dollars. He then clicks a button. Energy supplies. Standing armies. Luxuries for member states. "The United Nations is, at heart, an anti-colonial movement, thanks to Tito and the NAM. They were formed to battle both NATO and the Warsaw Pact, without having to choose between them. So I'd have to strike very carefully, to avoid alienating the member states affiliated with the most powerful armies on the planet. That would push them into the conspiracy's corner. We are expected to do this. Hence the nuclear abomination stalking Japan."
"Remember, sir, that we are only as valuable as the world sees us, not as how we see the world." He looks apologetic. "The power of first world armies is an illusion. You know what they say in the poor parts of America? It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Wars waged over generations always favor the more impoverished party. Particularly when the impoverished party has all the essential resources."
He clicks again. South American hydrocarbons lists, Chinese hydrocarbon lists, and African hydrocarbon lists. Then, a comparison to the Saudi, Russian, and American stocks theorized. "All we have is more immediate drilling capacity and refining capacity. Our advantage is capital, their - potential."
"If I had to hit a United Nations facility, it would be a lending exchange nexus."
Times like this in the world often bring polar opposites together to work in concert - Heidern has seen his fair share of men like Argent. Those who are too focused on the long game, the 'why's and 'how's, that they can miss the world-ending threat right under their nose. Both men are obviously skilled in operating under their own assumptions regarding the way things work, using whatever resources necessary to accomplish the goals - this is what makes Argent such a valuable asset to the Ikaris. He sees what the soldiers don't, the games behind the games, the men in smokey committee rooms propping up threats around the globe for good men to die fighting, while they do their work in the darkness. Whatever Heidern may think about men like this, he knows they're needed; the sudden subversion of the United Nations, coming as a complete shock to the C.O. and showing him how little he understood about geopolitical paradigms.
He may not like the man personally. But he knows that Argent Merce can see the connections that he, and many of the serving Officers left behind, cannot. For this alone, the man deserves the respect of the Ikari General.
And so, he watches intently the information brought up for him by the civilian, listening to the stated plans of attack with a thoughtful expression - chin still held in his thumb and forefinger. "Your assessment seems to be correct. Understand, if we fail in Japan, -I- won't be returning. But whatever happens, whoever comes back... they'll need you to show them how to wage a thinking man's war - Ralf, Clark... even Leona. They don't see the world the way you do. And like it or not, that's the world we live in now."
"I've prepared documents to be given to whatever remains of leadership in the event of my death. They give broad authority to the men and women left behind in Intelligence and Operations. Those targets I've declined striking? Hit them. Those alliances I've refused, on the basis of morality? Make them. Whatever helps the Ikaris survive and carry on the fight, in any way possible."
"I'm hoping, Merce, you're in this for as long as you keep drawing a paycheque. Your job is to make sure, if I'm gone, this organization stays funded and stays fighting - however you have to do it."
Argent Merce slowly reaches into his mouth and draws out his Nicorette, tossing it in the waste basket. He needs a real cigarette now, after having heard that. "Understood, sir. I will do my best to keep the organization in the spirit of the charter. I have a single plan, that I feel needs your approval, as an omega contingency, in the event of a complete objectives defeat."
Argent moves to the squad filing bin beneath his desk, and pulls it open. He pulls out a laminated sheet marked with a black fore slash on a red tag, printed on yellow with thick black lettering. He offers it up to Heidern.
It's labeled, at the top, 'Operation: Octopus Garden'. It details a clandestine intelligence network run by Ikari Warrior operatives to pull in atypical profile malignant personalities from all walks of life, to smuggle them out of harm's way and bond them together with the esprit de corps of social approval in a social hub, location to be decided later, as the Ikari Warriors' new base.
"I'm going to need your command seal on the lower right, if you approve. This is how we reseed our numbers."
Pulling his gloved hand away from his chin, Heidern takes the offered form and reads it over - he'd fully expected Merce to have something already prepared. He mumbles in a vaguely approving manner as his eye scans the sheet, before placing it back on the table and
"No time like the present, Merce. I'll talk to the Station Chief here about this - I want you to pick a team, the best minds we've got here, and get to work on this as soon as possible," he says calmly, firmly, eyes cast down at the sheet as his tone becomes slightly darker, "I guarantee we'll need the bodies by the time this is over. No matter what else happens."
Reaching inside his trenchcoat with one hand, the Ikari C.O. pulls out a seal and - reaching over to stamp it on an inkpad at the edge of the desk - places it firmly on the lower right-half of the document. Once pulled away, it reveals a large, circled 'H' in black ink, with the letters 'I' and 'W' on either side of the horizontal slash of the 'H'. Then he rubs the remaining ink off on a nearby empty paper and places it back into his pocket.
"The guards, the grunts, they don't need to know about this. Not yet. Compartmentalize, Merce," he says briskly, and then spins on his heels to walk away... but before he does, he looks over his shoulder, "I leave for Southtown again this evening. If my meeting bears fruit, I'll pass along any data on the Japanese situation to the team here. Speak to the Deputy Ops for any resources you might need."
"And if we don't meet again, Merce, you've been an asset. I hope you remain an asset to whoever is left."
Log created on 15:25:11 11/06/2017 by Heidern, and last modified on 18:57:41 11/06/2017.