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Episode 3: A Golden Age of Death


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#1 Godfather

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 06:29 PM

The Complete Tales presents: Tales of a Lifetime Episode 3
or
A Golden Age of Death



---
I have two options: Himmler orders extermination of Polish ghettos or Man announces new Draft Bill. History will undeniably remember the former, but the later is more important in the here-and-now; if it goes through, another boatload, another generation of our City’s sons, will be sent off to the great European meat-grinder. Both justify the entire front page, and I have good pictures for both.

I am crushed, made indecisive by the weight of history upon me. I feel like I shall be judged by my choice, right here, right now… but I feel like that every day, now, as more and more history-changing headlines mount on my desk, as the world slips gently from the old and into the new, and all I can do is watch and report on it.

Forgive me. I have lapsed into rhetoric, as I am told, all newspaper reporters do as they get older. We are frustrated that our talents must constantly be lowered to meet the expectations and understanding of our readership, who we struggle to educate just a little at a time, and who’s nature it is to stubbornly resist, flipping straight to page 14 and the society and gossip columns. Ooh look, they’ll be saying tomorrow. Jorro Piorelli’s big society wedding. Pipo Fiorelli’s increasingly blatant homosexuality. Karen O’Maley working long hours with the Man? You know what that means… And all the while, this City gets dirtier.

Even under the Families, the streets were clean. Under the families, there were never rats under the printing press. There was no printing press under the Families… but there were no rats either, that’s my point.

I’m forty-five soon, and I’m getting old. The gold leaf on the door, saying Lance Capri – Editor… Editor of the largest paper in Ocean’s Peak and surrounding districts, the best region rag in the entire States, all mine… it’s fading, and pealing, and there isn’t the money or the time to get in redone, and what’s worse is… I don’t care. It’s not about the paper any more, it’s about the City. The Piorellis are coming back into the ascendancy, the Man is playing dirtier by the day, and the Fiorelli’s are sure to rear their ugly heads again soon, but the only thing that’s between them and the people is me, and sometimes, it seems like the people just don’t care. I’ve got two kids now, and I tell myself it’s for them, but it’s not. I know it’s not, but I say it anyway.

Ocean’s Peak Tribune
June 13th, 1943
HIMMLER EXTERMINATES POLISH JEWS
Full story Page 2
Man’s Draft Bill page 4



#2 Serpico Pirello

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 06:36 PM

Southern Italy

A Country Villa

Serpico smiled as he leaned back against the wall, the barrel he was sitting on tipping slightly. He took a sip from his mess can and chuckled slightly at a dirty joke told by one of the privates. Despite the danger, despite the number of his friends he'd seen die, Serpico felt comfortable. There was no pressure as long as he did his job, no outside distractions, no bills and he was surrounded by a host of people from a host of backgrounds. Like all people thrown together they all had an uneasy friendship with one or two forming strong friendships.

The blackout blanket moved and the men jokingly let out an accusatory tone. The runner, a young private, smiled nervously, blushing and looking at his feet.

"What can we do for you Private?" asked Serpico. He was the highest ranked here.
"I've a message for a Serpico Pirbright," he said.
"Well hand it over, then sit down and have a glass of wine," said Serpico, standing up off his barrel and motioning to it and a carafe of wine. He took the message from the messenger.

PIRBRIGHT STOP REPORT TO HQ IN MEDIOLI STOP VITAL STOP BRING ALL EQUIPMENT AND ONE OTHER MAN STOP

The telegram was from a Captian Robards. Serpico scrumpled it up and threw it over his shoulder and picked up his pack.

"Micky," he said, turning to Private Rooker "Get your stuff. We're off to HQ. The rest of you behave!"

The others just laughed, Serpico with them. Asking men to behave in a war was like asking leopard to wear stripes. The messenger, Serpico and Rooker went out, got in a jeep and headed off to Medioli.

#3 Masked Dave

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 08:37 PM

Tony kicked the dirty sheets aside. He should probably wash them soon, they were starting to smell.

Climbing out of bed he stumbled over to the bathroom, grabbing a whiskey bottle on the way. He took a swig of the dark liquid and then spat it out again into the sink. That was as close as he came to cleaning his teeth any more. Examining his disgruntled and half-awake visage in the stained mirror, Tony scratched his chin and wondered if he could be bothered with shaving, or if he should just give it up and grow a beard.

He was aware that there was a war being fought over in Europe, but that didn't really matter to him. This was a much more pressing concern. Aparently important goverment personel were exempt from The Man's draft. It had come as a shock to him to find out that was what he was. He'd been much happier with the title Garbage Man, Occassional Assassin, even if it had only existed in his head. He'd have been even happier without that last bit.

He wondered if he was still considered a Garbage Man at all, its not like he ever had to go do the actual work anymore. He didn't really do much of anything. Realising that this meant he had no pressing engagements, he turned and headed back to his bed.
"It's amazing how deep we had to drill to find our key difference,
but it seems that whilst I am Amazing you are Ultimate."- Lu

#4 Josh

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 08:40 PM

Jorro looked up briefly from his invitations. Then he looked back down at them.

In his elegant, freehand cursive, he wrote, "Serpico Pirello".

Then he slid it into an envelope and added it to the growing pile.
George Alagiaaaaaaargh: I lost my pecker in the siege :(

#5 Jachap

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 11:44 PM

Vincent Siviter eased himself over the fence of a well kept garden on the outskirts of Senise.  He paused, crouched and waited for Harry Sykes to follow him over.

Sykes had been with Vinny since training school, he was originally from the upper class district of Ocean's Peak, but his father had lost the family fortune by spending a lot of nights drinking heavily then gambling heavily.  He just got the two pursuits the wrong way round, Harry would joke.  

Sykes had joined the army when, bankrupted, the family had been turned out onto the streets.  He dutifully sent his wages home everytime they got paid.  Vinny felt a connection with the guy.  There was a special bond with everyone in his platoon and, by extension, his company, but with Sykes, it was a deeper friendship than Vinny had ever experienced before.

The late Johnny Dark, he was slowly realising, hadn't been a friend at all.

Sykes clumsily rolled over the fence and dropped down beside Vinny with a thud.  Vinny helped him up and they ran into cover behind the wall of the small, white washed house.
Sykes glanced around the side.

There were a couple of Krauts loading a cart down the street.  Turning, Sykes saw a couple of other guys from A Company move into position across from them.  He waved at them to get their attention.  Then pointed up the street.  

On the other side, Sergeant Matthews rattled off a series of hand gestures.

"MG42," Sykes whispered, "far end, top window.  Mule is going to hit them with a rifle grenade.  We wait."

Vinny nodded, "Lets hope the bastard hits them this time."

Sykes smiled, "He'll get them, he's been practising, remember."

Vinny grinned and was going to say something when the door of the house opened and a Kraut officer walked out, he said something and the other men with him laughed.  Sykes readjusted his grip on his Thompson.  

The officer was handing cigarettes to the two guys with him.  He feigned a yawn and made another remark.  They laughed again, harder this time.  

Vinny pressed up against the wall, gripping his Garand tightly.  Sykes glanced at him and he put a finger to his lips and winked.  Across the street, Mule, the big Virginian, was aiming up.  A couple of guys from Sergeant Reynold's squad had set up a .30 cal.  It was sighted up on the group of Krauts down the street.  One of the kraut privates was standing on top of the peasant's cart and was telling a dirty story, expansively.  He mimed and gestured with huge sweeping movements of his arms and the other Germans crowded around and watched in amusement.  One of them, a big, topless guy was sharing his hip flask with them.

Vinny suddenly had a thought as he listened to the kraut officer chat to his men on the doorstep of the house.  He propped his Garand against the wall and pulled out a grenade.  He hated the tension before a fight, but once the bullets started flying he was in his element.  He had a real talent for it.  Sykes had even admitted it scared him, sometimes.  But to Vinny, war was a big playground.  There was no fear, for him, just exhiliration and a love for combat.

He smiled, pulled the pin from the grenade, but didn't prime it and listened to the German babbling on.

#6 Josh

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 10:28 AM

The pile of invites was getting thicker. Jorro sighed and burried his head in his hands. He had a headache coming over, and what's worse, that O'Malley woman would be coming around later. Somehow, she had the power to make every headache worse.

At least she and Antonia seemed to be getting on well. He could slip off and leave them to their womanly devices.

He stood, quitting his desk and its putrid wedding invitations. He looked out of the window for a long moment. He had been less housebound for the last five years, but he knew it was almost time for him to take back the streets.

Should he...? Yes. He would go down to the basement for a little while. It would ease his headache. The footsquads had found an overanxious reporter on the grounds, and Jorro was in the process of 're-educating' him.

Re-educating... to death. Jorro allowed himself a small smile; he loved the cinema, especially the horror b-movies. Sometimes he wished he could be King Kong, or Godzilla, or one of those misunderstood monstrosities. Instead, he was taking a corkscrew out of his desk drawer, preparing to ensure that some poor boy's last few hours on earth would be as painful as possible.
George Alagiaaaaaaargh: I lost my pecker in the siege :(

#7 Janek

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 10:53 AM

A shadow, moving amongst other shadows. That is all anyone saw of Big J as he entered the city he'd once called home, had once lived happily in. A long time ago.

Life over the past four years had taught J some very harsh lessons about life and human nature. The atrocities he'd witnessed in China left him with many deep scars. The physical wounds had healed, but psychologically he'd almost entirely shut down.

'Anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' So the turn of phrase went, and in J's case it appeared to be true. He'd become something of an expert in the field of personal combat, especially with a small knife. He smoothed his hand over the pocket concealing the knife now, as often he did in times of stress. The pocket's material was starting to get very threadbare, he was always on edge, always expecting a Japanese patrol to stroll around the corner.

Which was of course ridiculous. Any Japs in the city had been imprisoned by The Man, or had disappeared entirely. Ironically, this included many of J's old enemy, and The Man's old allies, the Red Dragons.

Not that this was much comfort to the Purple Hand. Most of them had gone to China. Only J had returned. Most of the rest were dead, or being held in Japanese POW camps. The remaining few remained in the service of Mao's guerilla armies.

Big J had seen enough of war, and didn't trust the Communist Mao. How he'd escaped from China he didn't tell anyone, falling into a brooding silence as soon as anyone brought up the subject. The sailors who found him took pity, and tried to stop him getting called up. They'd succeeded, but probably not for long. If the call came, he would refuse it. For now, the only interest in war J had was his own personal war.

He entered the old Purple Hand compound, intent on searching for documents. Before the war, they had arranged a meeting with a family opposed to The Man.

He soon found what he sought. Scanning through the letters, he quickly came upon the name of the family.

Fiorelli.

J fell to the floor, weeping. Remembering.
Ah! Harvard University! The special jail where people with too much math are imprisoned forever and forced to teach each other about poems.

Sandwiches are better than people. You can put anything you want in a sandwich, and it won't complain.

You spin me right round, baby, right round, in a manner depriving me of an inertial reference frame. Baby.

#8 Serpico Pirello

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 05:02 PM

Marine HQ, Medioli, Italy

Serpico saluted to the soldier in the entrance hall and approached the desk he was at. The soldier stopped stamping forms and looked up at him. Serpico had only just got off the jeep and still had all his stuff with him. Rooker was standing with it in the middle of the tiled entrance hall, a beautiful room in terracota and sky blue.

"I was sent this telegram," said Serpico holding it forward. The Desk Sergeant craned his head forward and merely glanced at the chit.
"Third door on the left, upstairs." said the Sergeant and went back to his stamping. Serpico waited a second before heading upstairs. He motioned to Rooker to follow him.
"Just leave the stuff," he said
"You can't leave luggage in the entrance, Corporal. We must maintain a constant thoroughfare at all times."
"Why? You expecting ramblers?" said Serpico flippantly. He'd gained confidence over the years.
"I don't like your tone, Corporal," said the Sergeant, though it didn't interupt his stamping.

Serpico sighed. He went back down the stairs and kicked his stuff up against one of the walls. He turned back to the Sergeant.

"Happy?" he asked

The Sergeant glanced up and rolled his eyes. Serpico smiled and went up to join Rooker. They went into the third on the left.

#9 Ednos

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 05:04 PM

The man walked briskly down the alley, the bitter wind of the dark night biting into him. He glanced quickly behind him, his actions so measured he looked the epitomed of calm, but had the old lamp that was the only light source in the alley been a little more illuminating the beads of sweat forming on his face might have told a different story. He clutched a dark black suitcase to his midrift, his had clenched around it, knuckles white. A behind him made him spin round but there was nothing there, at least nothing visible. As he turned back round a voice came from the shadows in front of him.
"Greetings, Mr. Jones." The voice was soft and melodic, yet carried with it a hint of danger, the suggestion of a threat. "My.....employer was very sad you didn't turn up at the meeting today, he so very much wanted to look at those files you said you would get, he-" The man seemed to unfreeze then, he had not moved at all since the voice had started to speak.
"Look....I..I..I..Its beyond my....control now. Theres nothing I can do, they.... said they would k-kill me if I didn't..... talk with them" He finally mannaged to stammer.
"Well my employer thinks you have changed your mind about giving him these files, this grieves him most heavily and he has decided he can't let you go back to the police to tell them about your little deal."Hear the voice paused and the was the sound of metal stirring and also a low laugh." And this, Mr Jones is where I fit into the equation. See I dont like what I do, but somebody has to do it, Mr. Jones and that person is me.
Ednos stepped out of the shaddows, the dull thud reverberated aagainst the walls, the cartridge case fell to the floor smoke reething it. Ednos picked up the case and walked back into the dark, back into the night.

#10 Konstantine

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 06:02 PM

Scopia stood up, rapidly blinking the remains of sleep from his eyes. Glances at the clock - 6 am; in fifteen minutes The Man would awake, and he'd expect him there to present the days security arrangements.

He slips into a light grey suit, and with his almost albino skin and pale eyes he could almost be a ghost. Pulling a chalky hankechief out of his jacket pocket to dab at his sore eyes, the illusion was only spoiled by the dappled spots of blood from the last fool to try and assault The Man.

Stepping out of the door, and strolling down the corridor a pair of figures fell silently into step - his two assistants. Arriving at the guarded door to Ocean Peak's ruler's bed chamber a nod dismissed the guards as the door opened outwards and the man stepped out.

#11 Jachap

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 07:23 PM

Mule fired his rifle grenade.  The top section of the building at the far end of the street ruptured outwards, spraying bricks and dust into the road.  The .30 cal thumped and the cart disintegrated.

The kraut regailing his friends with the dirty story collapsed forward, toppling off the cart as his audience scattered, diving and rolling into cover.  The topless guy dropped, blood spurting from his head.

Vinny hurled his grenade round the corner, timing it perfectly.  It hit the side of the officer's face and exploded.  

Sykes stepped round the corner and fired a burst into the shattered mess of Germans, then sprinted forward to the wall of the next house.

Men from A Company were rushing across the road, the .30 cal spilling suppressing fire over their heads.  A group of krauts burst out of a cafe halfway up the street, firing as they moved. Vinny took a knee and fired a magazine at them.  Three went down.  The others staggered back inside.  

Vinny reloaded and moved up to Sykes.

Hodgson, A Company's radio operator was ducked behind a small hedge with his rifle, he nodded a greeting to Vinny.

Vinny grinned, "Move up!" he called to Sykes, "Move up!"

Lieutenant Thomas, from Vinny's company, was urging his men on, up the street from the doorway of a small bakery.  Suddenly, the air screamed and the bakery burst open, Captain Thomas disappeared in the shrapnel and smoke.  One of the replacements in 1st Platoon was running past and was sent flying by the explosion.  He landed in a crumpled heap in the road and screamed for a medic.

The first medic to run out to him, Johnson from 2nd Platoon, was caught by the next shell that arced in.  A red hot shard of metal decapitated him before he reached the shrieking replacement.

"Holy shit, Jesus Christ," Sykes gasped, rattling off the curses so fast they sounded like one word.

"Are they mortars?" a guy from 3rd Platoon said, behind them.  Vinny turned, he hadn't even heard the guy arrive.

"I think-" began Vinny.  He fell silent when he heard that familiar, metal clanking, the thundering approach of a tank, "Shit.  Shit, shit, shit," he said, instead.  Another shell came crashing down, sending the torn remains of a 1st Platoon private cartwheeling into the air.

Hodgson was screaming into his radio, "This is A Company!  We need armour support!  No, sir, but I can hear them."

Vinny spat, "We've got to move."  He grabbed Hodgson, hauling him to his feet and propelled him along as they ran.  A German sprinted past them, not seeing them and Sykes shot him.  

Sykes sniffed, "Stupid bastard."

A kraut must have spotted them because, from nowhere, they started taking fire. A rifle round hit the 3rd Platoon man and he went down with a grunt.  A bullet opened Hodgson's calf and he sagged. Vinny gritted his teeth and dragged the radio operator the rest of the way, behind a large drystone wall, "Keep talking, Hodg," he said, "because we need some goddamn tanks out here."

And they did.  Because the thundering, roaring, German Tigers were coming.

#12 Serpico Pirello

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Posted 04 September 2004 - 12:30 PM

The Captain's office, the third on the left, was luxurious. He was seated behind a mahognay desk and rose as Serpico and Rooker entered.

"Ah, Corporal Pirbright," said the Captain in the third on the left. "Cigarette?"
"No thanks. I don't," replied Serpico saluting.
"Really why not?"
"They make me cough," he replied, standing at attention.
"Okay, fair enough. Stand easy," said the captain sitting in his chair and lighting a cigarette. He drew on it and savoured the smoke. "You speak Italian?" he asked Serpico. He hadn't even recognised Rooker's presence.
"A little," replied Serpico nervously.
"How much is a little? Enough to get by? Enough to order a drink? Enough to debate philosophy?"
"Enough that I caould leave here, quite easily," said Serpico
"Excellent..." said the Captain before finally recognising Rooker "And this is?"
"Private Rooker, Sir," said Rooker, standing to attention and saluting.
"Excellent. Return to your men Corporal Rooker. You're promoted and will replace Serpico,"

Rooker looked around amazed. "Thank you, Sir." Serpico looked at him bewildered.
"Dismissed Corporal," said the Captain "Now, Pirbright..."

Rooker left and the Captain threw across a folder.

"You know Sicily?" he asked
"Sure," said Serpico taking up the folder.
"There's a group of high ranking Italian soldiers holed up in an old castle. They need flushing out,"
"Then why me Sir?"
"We need someone to talk to the locals. We need to find a way into the castle. The front is a killing zone but we're sure there's some other way in. We need you to find it."
"Again, Sir. Why me? I'm sure there are other translators you could use,"

The Captain stood up and went to a cabinet. He opened it and took out a letter.

"This is yours," he said giving the letter to Serpico. Serpico Pirello was written on it in cursive script.
"My name is Pirbright," said Serpico
"Do you know how many Serpicos are in the army son? None. And there are even fewer in Italy."
"Doesn't mean it's mine though," said Serpico, his brow knotted in confusion. "And how does this concern the mission?" he asked
"The Pirello's are one of the oldest and most respected families on Sicily. You'll be able to get information others wouldn't."
"But my name is not Pirello!" said Serpico pointedly, his mind filled with swirling fog. Something had been distrubed and was trying to reveal itself but it couldn't quite get through.
"Look kid," said the Captain. This made Serpico even angrier. He was sick of being called kid. "Look kid, I don't care what you say your name is. For the duration of this mission it's Pirello. Okay? Now get out here. There's are a car outside to take you to the airport."

Serpico stood up and threw the letter on the table. He made to go but the Captain stopped him.

"Take it kid. It's yours,"
"No, it's not," said Serpico, sick of being told he was someone he wasn't.
"Corporal. You'll take that letter. I don't care if you don't open it, but you'll take it."

Serpico snatched it up and shoved it in his pocket. He left without bothering to salute.

#13 Jachap

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Posted 04 September 2004 - 01:41 PM

"In here!  In here!" Sykes yelled, rifle rounds kicking up dirt all around him.  He moved away, leaping a fence and kicked open the backdoor of a nearby house.  He disappeared inside and Vinny heard the familiar chatter of Syke's Thompson.

Vinny smashed a hole in the fence with the butt of his rifle and hauled Hodgson through the hole.  The radio operator had been yelling nonstop since the German tanks appeared, but, suddenly, he stopped.  He went down, dragging Vinny over with him.  Vinny got up and saw Hodgson gagging in his own blood.  

Vinny swore and dragged the man the rest of the way, leaving a smeared trail of crimson.

There were two dead Germans lying the width of the corridor and Vinny kicked them aside.  He reached the front room of the small Italian house.  Sykes was at a window spraying liberal doses of Thompson fire through the shattered windows.

"Knock it off!" Vinny yelled, "Do you want every kraut in the town firing at us?"

Sykes turned and saw Hodgson.  He stood, staring for a moment, then a bullet richochetted through the window and hurtled past his head.  He ducked immediately with a gasped profanity.

Vinny crouched beside the radio operator, readying his surette but Hodgson was dead.

Vinny sighed, "Help me get this radio off him," he called.

Sykes swallowed hard and crawled over.  He propped Hodgson up while Vinny undid the radio's straps and hauled the set into the corner of the room.  Sykes laid Hodgson down carefully.

"Don't be careful with him," muttered Vinny, "he don't care now."

"Shut it, Vinny.  He was a Catholic."

"Jesus!" Vinny said, leaning over the radio. "This is A Company.  Where are those goddamn tanks?"

***

On the outskirts of town, Vito Fiorelli climbed up onto his Sherman, opened the hatch and shouted down to his crew, "Okay boys, let's move it out."

He grinned.  He loved saying that.  It made him feel like a cowboy.

#14 Jentastic!

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Posted 04 September 2004 - 05:26 PM

Victoria stretched out her legs and slid right underneath the sheets. The Man had gone, and she had the whole bed to herself. It was a gigantic thing - a four-poster, with deep maroon curtains separating the bed's inhabitants from the rest of the room. She twisted over onto her stomach, and studied her hands with a frown. A manicure may be in order.

It was still daytime, but Victoria had decided to give herself the rest of the afternoon off. She'd wander into town, have a manicure, perhaps do a little shopping, then she'd go home. 'Home' now seemed a strange word to her for the house that she lived in.

With a sigh, Victoria slid herself out of the bed and began to gather her clothes. Jake would be around tonight, which was becoming increasingly unusual. She wondered whether he expected anything. It was likely, as Karen would be out seeing Jorro. Victoria hated Jorro almost as much as, she thought, Jorro would learn to hate Karen. It actually caused her a little pain; Karen could have been a great woman. Now she would have to be the wife of a distasteful man. Which one could get used to, of course, but there was something strange about Jorro in particular. He wasn't like most distasteful men. He was worse.

Victoria shrugged. She was not much given to considering the problems, future or otherwise, of others, and now was not the time. Right now it was manicure time.

She pulled up her tights.
Existentialism? Don't even get me Sartred.

#15 TSP

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Posted 04 September 2004 - 11:27 PM

The file on the Gladstones had determined that, upon hearing of their mysterious disappearance and the discovery of two bodies matching the description with gunshot wounds to the head (rendering them impossible to identify) in the alley next to their apartment block, they had been killed by agents of the Man. It was satisfying that the investigation had come to that conclusion entirely independently of Jed. He could well have ensured the investigation went a certain way, or tampered with evidence, but it could have been traced back to him. As it was, nobody cared about a lackey who had outlived his usefulness and a cheap whore who had been brought in from the streets.

Davey had been stronger than Jed. At least in physical terms. Once a pistol had been pointed at his head he was submissive. It had been easy enough to take Davey and Lauren from the apartment under cover of darkness and drive them to an abandoned underground shelter outside Ocean’s Peak. A warehouse where nobody would look.

Once there Davey had remained mostly tied up for the last five years. Jed had raped Davey’s wife in front of him, but the physical ties were the worst thing Jed had submitted Davey to. Muscles waste away remarkably quickly when they’re not being used, and Davey was now a shell of a man. He had to be spoon fed, he was asleep or passed out most of the time, and he probably wouldn’t last much longer. Jed didn’t regret a single action he’d made in the past five years. Davey deserved it all, and more. Jed’s life had been destroyed by Davey’s mistake. He’d lost his son, and indirectly he’d lost his wife. He was close to getting both back.

It had been Davey’s mistake, yes, but that had merely been in pursuit of the elimination of the mafia at the request of the Man. The Pirellos and Fiorellis had been nothing but trouble, they merely got was coming for them for engaging with the mob. In Jed’s book, if you were dealt your cards you had to take them. The children should have died. They shouldn’t have run. If they hadn’t run, Dudley wouldn’t have died.

Lauren was a passable substitute for Theresa. She was good looking, and not at all reluctant to engage in physical intimacy but she lacked Theresa’s heart. Theresa was a good person. Lauren was not. What tore Jed up more than anything was that she had known what Davey had done. Now she was pregnant, carrying Jed’s child. Every night he prayed for a son, that the child would be blessed.

Jed straightened his tie, tucked in his suit, and swept his papers into his black briefcase. He smiled to Lauren, who was cowering in a corner of the shelter. “Bye darling. I’ve got an important meeting with the mayor today, so I won’t be back until late.” Lauren offered a weak smile in return before Jed shut the shelter door, locking it from the outside and sealing his captives inside.

#16 Jachap

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Posted 05 September 2004 - 12:20 AM

Vito Fiorelli's tank was outmatched in every conceivable way by the German Tigers.  Allied command accounted for the unhappy reality that for every Tiger, they would lose four Shermans.  The war, at the time that Firoelli called to his driver to make a hard right through an undisturbed vegetable patch and onto the main street, had become one of attrition and little else.

Man for man, tank for tank, the Allies were losing.  But, everywhere from the frosted, icy Eastern Front to the scorching Sahara to the wind whipped spray of the North Sea to the sun baked Mediterrean Italian coastal towns, there were thousands ready to replace the men who died.  And a High Command that, with a seemingly callous disregard, was more than willing to replace them.    

However, the fact that, within a week, his tank and crew would be replaced by a brand new machine and an equally gleaming new crew, comforted Vito little when a Tiger's armour piercing round punched through the side plating of his Sherman and exploded.  The Sherman jerked and slewed to the left.  

Screams echoed inside the tank as Vito punched aside the hatch and heaved himself out.  He'd seen men cooked alive in their Shermans and in that moment, as he dragged his legs up behind him, he was utterly convicted that he would not die that way.

He leapt clear and rolled as he hit the ground.  He'd scraped half his knuckle off on the hatch and now he'd badly jarred his shoulder.  The German tanks were machine gunning his burning Sherman.   His driver and gunner, two men he'd known since his recruitment, were torn to pieces.  

He could see Kraut infantry in the street.  He pulled out his colt.  Thinking about it, he'd never fired his sidearm in combat before.  Sitting in a Sherman, there was very little need to.

He fired the colt in the general direction of the Krauts.  A man went down, but he was fairly certain it hadn't been him who did it.  He stood and dashed for one of the houses at the side of the street.  Behind him, a Sherman exploded.  A whirling metal plate struck him in the head and knocked him down.

The Sherman had caught ablaze immediately.  No-one got clear.  In some ways, he supposed he was lucky, but as he lolled into unconciousness, between two burning tank wrecks, machine gun fire snapping and whirring over his head, it was hard to feel lucky.

***

Vinny watched the tank commander get knocked to the ground by the shrapnel.  He set his Garand to one side and gritted his teeth.

"You're going to get him, aren't you?" Sykes said.

Vinny nodded.

Sykes shook his head, "I ain't gonna stop you, but Goddammit, Vinny, one day, you've just gotta stop with this sort of stuff.  You might get a Medal of Honour, sure, but they'll be tossing it into your goddamn coffin."

Vinny turned to Sykes, grinned and crouched beside the window, "Give me cover."

"As always," said Sykes, ramming a magazine into his Thompson.

#17 Tony

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Posted 05 September 2004 - 01:39 PM

The day had turned into a slow waltz of paperwork on top of paperwork topped off with yet more paperwork.  Reams of the stuff made its way onto Jake's desk, and off again on its inevitable journey to a filing-cabinet somewhere in the depths of the station.  With a sigh, Jake downed his fountain pen in faint disgust and pushed himself backwards away from the desk.  Leaning back he listened to the sound of the city street below him - Jake always had his window open, no matter what the weather outside was like: he liked to listen to the City; it spoke to him in a language few people could understand.

"Jake!"  Jake snapped his head up with a start.  Had he drifted off?  He couldn't be sure.  Jed was at the door of his office, a small smile of appreciation playing across his lips.  "Jake, you've been working so far into the night that I've been out the door before you have for the past month.  Take the night off.  That's an order."  With a wink Jed turned away sharply and gently closed the door to Jake's office.

Jake watched through the windows lining his office as Marina sashayed past them, arms loaded with paper.  As she walked by his door she flicked her long black hair and turned her dark glance on him for a second.  The jolt which shot down his spine tipped him over the edge:  Standing up abruptly he grabbed his gun and his expensive jacket and switched the office lights off on his way out of the door.

The lights of his house were burning brightly, invitingly, when Jake pulled up outside.  Strange to think of this place as his home.  Nothing much inside it held any sway over him any more.  The station was his home, it's denizens his family.  That was not the way it had always been for Jake, somewhere in the years between getting married and getting here, part of him had gotten lost.  This grand old house, left to him by his long-dead parents was little more than a shell to him now.  All the joy it had held had been burned away in the crucible of a crumbling marriage, and a devious wife.  How sure was he of her infidelities?  He couldn't say with any degree of certainty, but the evidence was compelling.  But that in itself was not all that consumed Detective O'Malley: word had reached him through one of his informants that Victoria had frequented a backstreet abortioner on several ocassions at the very least.  The child Jake so desperately wanted was being kept from him, had been all but murdered by the woman who was supposed to love him, and that stoked his pain into a raging inferno.

"Victoria?"  He didn't want to face her; wasn't sure that he could speak to her; but Jake called for her all the same.

"Good evening darling.  I'm in the front room."  Her soft voice carried down the hallway.  Despite all the pain she was causing him, part of Jake still loved her, and loved that voice.  Slowly he padded into the front room; jacket still on, and gun still resting in its holster next to his chest.  Upon entering the room she turned her head towards him, tousled hair tumbling across her shoulders.  "Hello sweetheart", she purred.

"How could you, Victoria?"

Puzzled, Victoria looked at Jake; studied him closer and took in his demeanour:  anger was clearly throbbing beneath his studied exterior.  Frantically she wondered what he might have uncovered.  The list of possibilities was long and complex and Jake spent time with some malicious elements of society.  What might one of them have revealed to him?  Was it something she had really done, or was it something false, spat from the mind of someone looking to hurt Jake, or her?

"I know about Mrs Rosmerta, Victoria.  I know about our children.  My children.  I know you had them aborted.  I know, Victoria."

#18 Jentastic!

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Posted 05 September 2004 - 01:58 PM

Victoria sucked in her breath. Something she had really done. Her demeanour shaken, she looked at her husband and spoke, her anger rising with every word.

"Darling, you don't understand. Please, listen - I have a career; I can't commit myself to looking after a child. It would ruin my life, and I would ruin the life of the child. You've never understood that. How can you even want to bring a baby into this life, this city? You want everything, but any child of yours would have to cope with a busy mother, a world full of despair and a father who can't tear himself away from the office for long enough to - "

"Enough! You can't twist me around your little finger, Victoria. You talk about ruining lives, but did you know that you'd ruined my life? You and The Man are the talk of the town, and - "

"Oh we are, are we?" Victoria's voice had dropped and she was standing rigidly in front of Jake, who glared at her.

"You know you are, Victoria. I don't know exactly what's going on, but I think I know enough about you now to figure it out."

"Fine, you want the truth? I've been sleeping with him for 4 years." Victoria smiled grimly as she noted the expression in Jake's eyes. "He's The Man, Jake. How could you possibly think you could compete with that?"

Jake dropped his eyes, deeply hurt.

"I -"

"You what, Jake? Thought I loved you?"

Jake's head snapped up, along with his fist, and sent Victoria sprawling backwards over a chair. He took an angry step towards her, hesitated slightly, then turned resolutely, walking stiffly out of the house and slamming the door on his way out.
Existentialism? Don't even get me Sartred.

#19 Serpico Pirello

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Posted 05 September 2004 - 04:08 PM

Italy

Serpico met the pilot he'd been aside on his arrival at the airfield by his plane. The sun was setting and the sky was a beautiful magenta. The pilot stopped smoking as Serpico approached and held out his hand.

"Bill Stevens," he said smiling.
"Serpico Pirbright," came the reply as Serpico took and shook the pilots hand.
"Pirbright? I was told Pirello,"

Serpico sighed.

"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"You don't know your own name?" asked the pilot climbing into the cockpit.
"I thought I did," said Serpico getting in next to him.

The plane started and Serpico was taken into the air.

---

It was an uneventful flight and they landed in darkness. Serpico thanked the pilot after they had touched down and went in search of someone. However, the someone found him.

"Corporal Pirello?" asked a voice in the darkness.

Serpico hesitated slightly before replying. "Yes?"
"Sergeant Johnson. I've been sent to meet you and drive you to your billet."
"Thank you, Sir," said Serpico, seeing Johnson as his eyes grew used to the gloom. Johnson was a well built man, with a shaven head and thick neck.
"Don't bother with the Sir crap. Just call me Al." he said, indicating a jeep to Serpico that was standing by.

Serpico climbed in and they started off.

"I'm sorry to say that there's no room for you with the rest of the men. We've foisted you on a family in Corleone. That's the local town,"
"I know, I've been given a map."
"You have? Excellent! Do I make a right or left here?"

Serpico chuckled as he got the map from the folder the Captain had given him.

#20 Josh

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 12:40 AM

Evening had fallen, and Jorro was getting dressed to go out. He was taking Karen to an expensive restaurant on the Upper East side; they weren't actually going for dinner, it was more of a photo op, which meant that he'd be at least spared the indignity of actually having to converse with her.

He praised the day when the woman had at last just given it up. It meant no more trying to woo, no more feigning interest, no more pretending to care. All that was left was marriage and adultery. In his mind, he ran through a checklist of things for the wedding; the invites were all done, sent, sealed and...

Jorro raised an eyebrow, then smiled. How could he have been so careless? He had forgotten one invitation; possibly the most important of all. He crossed over to the desk and grabbed the last invitation card. On it, he wrote:

THE MAN



He bit on the end of his fountain pen, thinking. Then, with a careless shrug, he added:


and guest



That would be Victoria O'Malley, no doubt, although Karen had seen to it that she got an invite of her own; nonetheless, Jorro would quite like to see those two arrive together. Especially now that the split in the O'Malley household was public knowledge. The Man was allowing his vices to be exposed by the press; his adultery, his politics, and very soon, his murder and bloodshed. All the while, his star was rising, ten years before as the debutant, and now as the business end of Ocean's Peak's newest celebrity marriage.

Slowly but surely, he was winning the people away from the Man. And without the people, the man was destined to be nothing.
George Alagiaaaaaaargh: I lost my pecker in the siege :(

#21 Jachap

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 02:58 PM

Vinny left his Garand behind as he charged out through the front door.  Bullets snapped and shrieked as he ran out into the open, towards the prone figure of the fallen tank commander.  He threw himself down beside the guy and lay still for a moment.  

German machinegun fire wailed and whined over his head as he checked the guy was still living and tried to work out how he was going to get him back inside the house.  One of the German tigers was alight, a counter attack by C Company had managed to flank the krauts.  

Vinny reached over and took the tank commander's pistol.  He checked it and slowly rose into a crouch.  Grabbing the commander by the collar, he dragged him towards the house.  

Sykes was on his feet, pouring lead out through the window.

A German submachine gun sent Sykes to ground and Vinny increased his pace.   The commander was slowy coming round.   A bullet kicked up a haze of dirt which wafted around Vinny.  Another tore open the back of both his thighs.  He swore and clenched his jaw.  Three steps away from the door.

An explosion in the distance.  A Kraut sent sprawling.  A rattle of MG42 and Americans were falling back, vaulting walls and scrambling clear of a flurry of shell bursts.  Dirt showered out of the sky in clods.

Two steps.

Sykes got up again but ducked as the window frame buckled and shattered, disintegrating in a hail of Kraut lead.  Another explosion, further up the street. There were krauts coming down the street.  Vinny, one hand still dragging the tank commander, used the other to fire wild shots down the street with the pistol.

One step.  

Vinny was at the doorway, he heaved the tank commander up and slid him through the door.

"Sykes!" he yelled, "Sy-"

Behind him, a German had crawled up to the garden wall of the house and, now, seizing his chance, stood up.  He emptied his magazine, raking the doorway back and forth until his Mp40 clicked empty.

Sykes stood and, disregarding the rifle fire thudding into the plaster and shattered wood around him, fired a burst at the German.  The kraut disappeared from sight but Sykes tossed a grenade up, towards him.  Then ducked away.

Vinny was lying on his front in the doorway, his leg was caught on the wall, twisting his posture oddly.  There was a line of ragged holes in his back.  The tank commander was slowly coming round.  Sykes kicked him savagely.

"Get in there!" he said, pointing to the living room.

Then he ducked down and pulled Vinny inside.  Vinny gasped and whimpered.  Sykes winced.  He didn't want to hurt his friend.  Taking a breath, he looked up to see the kraut he'd lobbed the grenade at reappear and fire blindly towards the living room window.  Sykes took a knee, aimed low, gripped his Thompson tight and fired.    The German twitched as the bullets hit him, riding up his chest.  He went down.

Sykes exhaled.  Below him, Vinny cringed and shuddered.

#22 Serpico Pirello

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 05:32 PM

Italy

The jeep's headlights illuminated the front of the house.

"This is where I leave you," said Sergeant Johnson, indicating the house which was on a rise in the middle of Corleone.
"Thanks," said Serpico hoisting his bag out of the back. He waved to the Sergeant as he did a three-point turn in the narrow street. As the sound of the engine faded Serpico knocked on the door. It was opened by a plump old woman, her cheeks bulging around the sides of her mouth. She wiped her hands on her apron and beamed at Serpico.

"Corporal Pirello?" she asked, already knowing it was him.
"Sì," he replied. She put her hands to his cheeks and kissed him on both.
"È meraviglioso averlo qui," came the reply. It's wonderful to have you here
"The honour is all mine," said Serpico in fluent Italian.
"Come in, come in," said the old woman. "I'm Mrs Benvenuti," She lead Serpico into her main room where a fire was burning. "This is Mr Benvenuti," she said indicating a thin old man, with a large nose and balding head. "And this is our daughter Maria,"

Serpico turned his attention to Maria and was hit by what the French call the coup de foudre, the thunderclap. He took her extended hand and kissed her lightly on it. His heart was beating and he felt slightly sick. He was loathed to leave to see his room.

#23 TSP

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Posted 15 September 2004 - 10:24 PM

"How's the wife, sir?" Jed looked up from his desk. While being chief-of-police meant he held a lot of power, the job was largely dull and he was deskbound. Luckily his office was spacious and allowed him to be alone with his own thoughts. In this case, however, a junior officer had interrupted his thinking.

"She's well," Jed's answer was terse.

"I was wondering, if you and Theresa would like to come 'round some time, enjoy dinner with us.

Jed provided a false smile. None of the serving officers had met Theresa, mainly because she'd left him a long time ago. It served to have the spectre of a relationship present. "I'm afraid not. She's feeling rather stressed with the baby."

"Ah yes. When's the due date?"

"I'm not sure. Due any day now."

The officer merely nodded and submitted his report. "You're meeting with the mayor later, sir?"

"Yes. We need to talk about police recruitment and funding. It will be a most illuminating conversation," Jed said with a touch of irony. Every meeting with The Man was illuminating, but he already had a fair idea of what the Man wanted him for.

#24 Jentastic!

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Posted 16 September 2004 - 01:31 PM

Karen examined herself in the mirror, carefully smoothing down the fabric. It was a beautiful dress. Dazzling. The kind of dress that every girl wanted. Jorro had given it to her to wear tonight. A fleeting fantasy that a handsome man would be at the restaurant, fall in love with her on sight and take her away she banished from her mind. It had occurred to her before that she could break off the engagement, but that was a fantasy, too. While Jorro didn't love her, as Karen knew, he would never allow her to leave him.

She frowned briefly into the mirror, sighed, and started to leave. The press didn't like it when you were late for a social engagement.

***

The Man looked down at Victoria. Scopia fidgeted.

"Tell Scopia what you want, Victoria."

Victoria looked up and hesitated. A small cut on her forehead throbbed, causing her to wince. She shook her head and tried to regain her composure. She spoke, addressing herself to Scopia.

"I want him to pay."

Scopia glanced down at the photo of Jake O'Malley in his hand. He nodded.
Existentialism? Don't even get me Sartred.

#25 Ednos

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Posted 16 September 2004 - 04:58 PM

"Good morning." The secretary said without looking up.
"I'm here to see Mr. Glade."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Glade is in a meeting at the moment, may I take a message?" Chimed the secretary, still not looking up.
"He's expecting me." Ednos said, the low growl of his voice finally penatrating the day dream of the secretary.
"Oh, its you." said the secretary, a frown playing across her face.
"I'll inform him your here."
"You do that."
The secretary pressed a button on the desk and motioned for Ednos to go through the large, black door that stood at the end of a small hallway. Ednos walked up to it, paused as if to stop and knock but then opened the door and marched through the threshold.
A man was sitting in a black leather chair oposite the entrance to the door, puffing slowly on a long cigar. Cuban, Ednos could smell it in the air. He had streaks of gray in his hair but apart from that there was no sign of age on him, his skin was smooth, eyes sparked. This man was rich.

"Ah, Mr. Ednos. I trust your.... task was completed."
Ednos did not reply, merely lifting the briefcase he had been carrying and slamming it down on the desk. The older man snapped the gold catches open lifted the lid a few centimetres and surveyed the contents. Apparently satisfied he closed it and put it down beside him.
" Exellent, the money will be transfered to your account immediatley. But you already know that." Ednos' head inclined slightly. "I have another job for you.."
But Ednos cut him off mid sentance.
"Not this time Glade. I have other.....matters to attend to."
"Ah, yes I thought you might, a certain wedding perhaps?" Said Glade, a slight smile on his thin lips. Ednos started for a second then recovered himself.
"My business is my own." He said, looking angrily at the benile Glade.
"Of course, of course." Said Glade as Ednos turned to leave." Tell me, seeing as we've .. aha.. 'worked' together a few times recently, what is your last name?"
"Pirello." Ednos walked out of the office.
Glade sat back and smiled to himself, It was going to be one wedding no one would forget for a long time, that was for sure.