Chapter 364 Feather's Meeting
"I'll leave you two together for some bonding time," said Aldrich, waving goodbye to V and Balar. "I've got several things to attend to."
"Yes, let us learn very thoroughly about each other," said Balar, smiling at V.
"Can I some pepper spray first?" said V. "Anti-eyeball spray? I'm not entirely comfortable around this guy." She sighed. "But fine, boss's orders, I guess."
She leered at Balar. More cable hairs grew from her head, twisting around each other to reinforce them while shifting the tips into blade-like protrusions. "No touching, got it?"
"Huhu, how scary. But it seems we are fellow tentacle enjoyers," Balar waved his tentacles in the air, mimicking V's hair movements. "So I foresee no issue."
"As long as you understand." V willed some of her cable hairs to latch back onto Desmond. "After hearing what Beta and Mel had to say, you know, I think I've figured out how to crack Desmond, too. He had hidden knowledge that I had no idea how to reach, but most likely, it's going to be details about the Scrapheart.
Once I break into that juicy vault, I'll let you know what's up."
Aldrich nodded and waved his hand, motioning for his units to follow him out.
30th floor of Haven Control Tower, the Research Room-
Aldrich and Valera sat around a metal table with Fler'Gan and Feather on the other side. Feather put his legs up on the table and crossed his arms.
"Stop that disrespect in front of the Elder." Fler'Gan swatted Feather's shoes, and Feather grumbled as he withdrew his legs and crossed them instead.
Atop Feather's head was a Mind Leech, sucking at the back his cranium like nothing was going on. Feather seemed unbothered by it, though.
"It's about time I have to get back to my duties," said Feather. "The boss is calling in a big meeting, some defcon 4 shit, and I can't miss it."
"You've already been away from some time," said Aldrich. "Are you sure nobody's missed you?"
"Hell yeah, people have missed me, I'm the life of the party after all!" Feather grinned. "But nah, I'm not needed in person as much as the other capos. I'm the 'Capo of Eyes', after all."
From Feather, Aldrich knew the basic organization of the Italian prong. It consisted of a boss at the top, then his consigliere, an assistant position that had almost as power as the boss himself. Beneath that was the underboss, and then beneath that were eight capos.
The Italian prong was an evolution of the mafia in both Italy and the United States, merging together after the Altering to consolidate power. Their reach was thoroughly international, with their grubby hands dipped into various commercial interests and industries ranging from technology to construction.
They were the business smarts of the entire Trident operation.
Feather's role as the Capo of Eyes was to maintain a tight information network for the prong, specifically focusing on the United States, and he did that by running several bars all around the world that served as bases for informants and spies to report to. He also outsourced his information gathering, employing people like Desmond.
"Still, my position's not great," said Feather. "I can tell I'm starting to lose influence here. I ain't the only one managing information flow. They got Vito, the Capo of Ears, too, and we've always been in competition.
When I took my leave to hide out in my bunker, the boss saw that as an act of cowardice. It was a strategic retreat, mind you, but whatever. In any case, a lot of my responsibilities and networks have transferred over to Vito.
The next Capo meeting is coming up in a few days. If I miss that, I might get canned.
Fucking Vito, fat piece of shit, gobbling up cannoli by day and my territory by night."
"What do you know about prong operations in Blackwater?" said Aldrich.
"I know we're starting to ramp up our defenses. We're going wild on the spending for Mercs. We've tapped into Ember, the Nightriders, Bestiary, and Lagoon. There's going to be at least a dozen tough as nails A rankers there.
The knockout out of all of them, though, is Fafnir. You know him, right?"
"I do," said Aldrich.
"That sounds familiar," said Valera. "Like Fafelnir, the Dragon of Nightrock."
"You're on the right track with that, miss," said Feather. "I don't know what the hell a Nightrock is, but dragon is exactly what you'd describe Fafnir. Man's a goddamn beast in every sense of the word. And he's killed two S rankers to boot.
As far as mercenaries go, you're not getting anyone better than his tier."
"Right. That's...troublesome, to say the least," said Aldrich. "I can deal with A rankers now, but the likes of Fafnir and Solomon Solar, hm."
Fafnir was a German mercenary listed among the unofficial mercenary strength ranking system called the Killgrid. It calculated a mercenary's value based on how successful they were in completing difficult contracts.
Very similar to the AP system for the AA, but in many ways, much more straightforward. If someone was the top of the Killgrid, they were almost certainly there because they were the strongest. It was simply the nature of mercenary work.
There was no need to factor in things like PR or saving civilian lives. Whoever was strong enough to protect their client or kill their enemies got ranked higher.
As it so stood, Fafnir was rank 8 on the Killgrid. Previously, he had been rank 3, but he was an older Alter, and Crystallization had slowed him down.
But age was not a bad thing. Oftentimes, it meant more experience, and experience was just as deadly as raw power in many instances.
And even then, Fafnir was a force to be reckoned with. He was a Mutant Alter with draconic traits. Black scaled, wings, tail, claws and all. He could unleash a fiery breath that could easily melt the likes of Neo-Steel or create large-scale explosions, but the literal most toughest part about him were his scales.
His scales had a force reflective property that made Fafnir near impossible to take down. He had a healing factor on top of that, so the only reliable way to beat Fafnir was to find some way to attack his internal organs or fight him until his energy reserves drained out.
Now that Fafnir was old, reaching 80, his energy reserves were not what they used to be, but even then, he could probably fight at strength for a few hours at the very least.
"I'll put the issue of dealing with Fafnir off for a bit. I wanted to ask, can you get a hold of Mad Jack?" said Aldrich.
Feather shook his head. "Nah. Mad Jack's a fucking nutter. Can't control him at all. Well, not me, at least. Only the boss can."
The boss. An enigmatic man that had almost no information available about him either in the public or the underworld.
"And can you get a hold of the boss?" said Aldrich. He wanted to see just how far Feather's authority could reach.
Aldrich could not do much about the Japanese prong as he had no connections with them, but he could, using Feather, initiate a strategy to severely weaken or sow discord in the Italian prong. That would knock out quite a bit of the defenses on Blackwater when the time to attack came.
"No shot with that either," said Feather. "The boss takes it safe and easy, just like every boss before him. Makes us capos work like hogs in the mud, though, I'll tell you that."
"What about below that? Underboss? Consigliere?"
"Underboss? Possible. But hard." Feather rubbed his temple in annoyance. "Fuck, I have to attend a capo meeting in a couple days, and the underboss is going to grill my ass. If I don't show up with decent info from Desmond, which I won't, because Desmond's a recycled tin can by now, I'm going to be shit out of luck."
"How many days?"
"Three," said Feather.
Aldrich and Valera both exchanged knowing glances. All the capos and the underboss, located together in one single meeting? A chance like this did not present itself often, if at all.
"Now, I know what you two are thinking, a good chance to whack em all, right?" said Feather. "But don't count on it. The Underboss is only going to be there through a screen. And not all of us capos are gonna be there either.
The three War Capos are at Blackwater, and they'll stay there to manage military ops. "
"Five out of eight capos doesn't sound bad, does it?" said Aldrich.
"No. No it does not," said Valera, smiling in glee.
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