Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Day of The Gorgon - Epilogue pt. 2

Let me start this !@#$ by saying that Altan Aduu is my oldest friend in Choibalsan.

When I say "oldest," what I mean is that, back in the 80's, when I was running stuff from China to the USSR and back again, he was one of my go-to people, as he was one of the best !@#$ing smugglers in the business in that region, special talent or not.

And when I say "friend," what I mean to say is that, so long as the price was right, and I didn't get too many of his people !@#$ing killed on the job, he was very happy to let me use his services to get one over on the big two.

But still, when you run with someone so many times, and have so many crazy !@#$ing adventures that !@#$ near get both of you killed, and both hate Commies with a burning !@#$ing passion that defies any attempts at reason, you do develop a certain amount of camaraderie. There were crazy !@#$ing days and nights spent pounding homebrewed kumis that could take the !@#$ing enamel off your teeth, and leave you !@#$ing a stream of urine that could burn the !@#$ing paint from whatever wall you chose to relieve yourself on.

(He said the milk came from radioactive mares. I don't know whether to !@#$ing believe him or not.)

So I guess that's the only !@#$ reason both I and the President survived our first few minutes of meeting with my old friend, late tonight. If it'd been up to him, he'd have put two iron hooves right in the President's skull the moment he realized who he !@#$ing was. And if he'd done that, then I'd have had to put my !@#$ing hand through his !@#$ horsey noggin, and then his men would have filled me with enough !@#$ing arrows to turn me into a big gay pincushion.

Thankfully,  reason prevailed, which is a nice !@#$ way of saying he saw the look in my eye when I threatened vengeance on his entire !@#$ family, down to his great-great grandson, and knew I wasn't !@#$ing around. After that, he let me say as much of my say as I felt comfortable saying in front of him and his men. And after that, he turned back into a man, and got his men to !@#$ off for a few so we could talk about things like civilized people.

Not that I at all blame him for his initial !@#$ing freakout, now that I know what I know.

And now...


* * *

Rewind a little, and it's me and the President in a stolen truck that had been on its way to somewhere else, driven by a sorry little !@#$ robot thing that was !@#$ing easy to fling out the side. We'd headed back the way it'd came, to Choibalsan, with the goal of getting the President off his feet and into some !@#$ing AC, as well as getting to a town to find out what the !@#$ happened to our planet's normally overly-chatty system of satellites. 

On the way there, at a spooky layover that hadn't been used in some time, and offered free water, we found a propaganda poster that had the Vice President's !@#$ mugshot on it, along with a lot of Mongolian that, while I can speak it fine, I couldn't read too !@#$ing well. But the word "executed" I could make out just fine, given all the time that my colleagues over here wound up on similar broadsheets, courtesy of the former, Soviet !@#$ kissing government of Mongolia.

(And, no, I did not share that with the President. Not until I was !@#$ sure, anyway. I'd just gotten him to talk to me with some measure of respect and brotherhood. I didn't need him turning into a !@#$ing sobbing wreck on me, now.)

Perplexed but re-hydrated, we got back on the truck, and persuaded the !@#$ thing to go just a little faster into town. He didn't ask me any questions, so I didn't have to !@#$ing lie. But I didn't need that photo back there to tell things were not right.

Once we got over the bridge and came within view of the city, I just knew. No ground traffic, no one on the roads trying to sell me !@#$, no noise. Not even a stray animal.


I pulled us over, killed the engine, and motioned for him to be quiet and follow me. If I'd had a !@#$ing gun I'd have handed it over, gladly. But as it was he was just going to have to learn to duck and !@#$ing cover.

Hopefully I wouldn't have to be the one doing the !@#$ing covering.

* * *

The best way to imagine Choibalsan is to think of a bunch of houses whose fences are taller than the !@#$ing houses. There's row after row of them, several deep, going along the main drags, and after you've gone east a bit you actually come across what could be called buildings. Of course, these buildings are courtesy of !@#$ing Communists, so they look like commie concrete apartment blocks, and have the same dreary sameness that you get from Eastern postwar Europe, minus the hookers, junkies, and neon signs.

The city's had one of the worst unemployment rates since the commies left, so sneaking from one side of town to another should be a !@#$ing difficult thing to do. The streets should be chock-full of people with well-kept horses and broken down cars. There should be vendors and workers and people just standing around and talking, all smoking !@#$ing outrageous-smelling cigarettes. There should be conversations, arguments, laughter, drinking.

But there's nothing. It's a !@#$ing ghost town. 

And usually, if someplace is a ghost town, it's because there's a lot of !@#$ing dead people.

* * *

So the President and I sneak along the rows of houses, and eventually duck into one. I let him investigate the food situation while I look for newspapers or magazines, or anything that could explain something. We both come up !@#$ed: rotten food we can't !@#$ing eat and stale media I can't really !@#$ing read.

But I do understand the date on the last paper I've got here. March 15th, 2012. The !@#$ing Ides of March they were warning me about.

(I keep that under my hat, too, just to make sure the President stays useful and with-it.)

Luckily, the owner of this fine home had a few cans of Pepsi in the long-warmed fridge, so we finally get some !@#$ing caffeine and sugar to work with. And while I'm coasting on a long-overdue sugar buzz, I check the rest of the place out, and find more than a few disturbing things.

Case in point, it's not just deserted, it's been !@#$ing ransacked, and in a hurry. The bedroom's been emptied of almost all clothing and necessaries. They left the TV and radio, took the toiletries, and, as I soon discover, left behind a rather !@#$ing impressive stash of cash. Also their knives, which is saying something for this area of the world.

Who evacs with clothes and soap and doesn't take their weapons or !@#$ing money? Someone who's being rounded up to go to prison.

(Trust me on this, son. I know.)

Fortunately, they left some clothes behind, and they're in our size. The President and I change into local garb, making sure to cover our faces. I grab every last !@#$ing knife I can from the place before I do, just in case we run into what I'm pretty !@#$ sure we're going to run into.

And then we head back out, continuing to sneak from row to row, all the way downtown.

* * *

It isn't until we get downtown that I start hearing things, finally. What I hear doesn't make me feel any better. Manual labor noises, a lot of unhappy people, unhappier horses.

When we get close enough to get a good look, I see that several buildings have been turned into makeshift factories, with long, rudely-constructed pavilions being used as assembly floors. Men and women sit at long tables and do piecework on machine components or electrical boards, doing a little and then passing it down the line, where they're collected and then taken to other tables for more work.

Horses trot around hot walkers that have been altered with electrical components. I figure they were stripped from the better quality power lines that they had downtown. Judging from the sparks and ozone smell they're being used to generate electricity, which is powering the lights and tools in the pavilions.

Past the pavilions, there are a few more trucks like the one we just liberated. They're either off or idling, and people are loading them full of boxes. I figure the boxes are full of whatever these folks are making. 

I try to zoom in and see exactly what they're putting together, but from the distance it's not conclusive. Could be for missiles, planes, home computers, or big !@#$ sex toys for all I know. I can't !@#$ing tell from here, so we'll just have to get closer and blend in. 

Of course, that's when the President coughs and taps me on the shoulder. I turn around to shush him, and see there's an arrow pointed at my !@#$ing eye. 

About ten of them, actually, all being brandished by ten, flint-eyed fellows who don't seem too !@#$ happy to have found us here. They're wearing dark clothing with no shine or color, and are as dusty as !@#$, like they just got off a long horse ride.

Now, you know SPYGOD, son. If it'd been just me I'd have !@#$ing killed them all with both hands tied behind my back by grabbing knives from my belt with my !@#$ and throwing them. But they had the President dead bang, and, since I didn't !@#$ing hear them sneak up on us, that says there's something else going on. 

Plus, I think I kind of recognized one or two of them from my old days, here in town. 

So I raised my hands, gave my best greeting, and asked to be taken to Altan Aduu, as he knew me and we were allies. Most of them blinked at that, but the !@#$hole in charge and the one I thought I remembered just sneered, and the boss said "Okay, teneg khuur, your funeral."

Which it !@#$ well could have been, considering how the initial meet went.

* * *

They sneak us out of town, which is very !@#$ing telling. They didn't want us poking around, but they're clearly poking around, themselves. So we're obviously some big !@#$ x-factor in their own side gig, not that they wanted to chat about that. 

(Normally I'd push some buttons, and see what they let loose. But I didn't want to risk them getting violent, since the President might have gotten clocked upside the head with a Mongolian bow. And those !@#$ things !@#$ing hurt.)

We went North for a while, and when we were well out of town they took us to where they'd hid their horses. We were allowed to get on one, and ridden in the middle of their line, just to make sure we didn't try and !@#$ off. We went fairly slowly, probably to keep down on noise, at least at first. But eventually they picked up the pace a bit, just not enough to kick up a huge dust cloud.

We went further North, then East, and then stopped at a tunnel hidden inside some mountains. The leader of the group rode ahead a bit and talked with someone who stepped out of !@#$ing nowhere, carrying a big !@#$ing gun. The kind they used to use to shoot holes big enough to crawl through into Soviet tanks, back in the day.

The kind you can only shoot without a tripod if you're !@#$ing Superman. 

We're outside for ten !@#$ minutes, not saying anything, and then the boss comes back and says we can go in. We're taken off the horse, marched into the tunnel, and down into the ground for a few minutes. I can see just fine, down in the dark, but the President starts getting a little nervous.

But then we're out of the dark and into a larger cavern, one that's got lights and crates of weapons, food, and other contraband. Some of the boxes I remember from days past, others are brand !@#$ing new, but they all have the look of things that were stolen off the back of army trucks, the fronts of industrial warehouses, and numerous other, lucrative places.

And once I'm positive that this cavern has the look of a certain smuggler's presence, and frankly tacky decor, who should stride into the cavern but Altan Aduu, himself?

The Golden Horse smiles at me, eyes lined with crows feet and teeth big and horsey in his face. He calls me things that you don't want your !@#$ing kids to hear, and I tell him where he can shove his opinion. And then we're laughing, and he's about to hug me, but then he sees the President. 

And then he shouts, rears back, and reveals why they call him Golden Horse, iron hooves and all. When he rears up his head almost reaches the tall cavern ceiling, and the fumes from his nostrils could have killed everyone in here if he hadn't dialed it the !@#$ back.

Which is about where we came in, isn't it? Except now he's no longer a demon horse, his men aren't treating us like prisoners, and I know more than I did when we landed, earlier today.

That and the President's gone and lost his butch, big time.

Not that I !@#$ing blame him. This is worse than anything we planned for. Worse than anything I could have ever imagined. 

And I have a very !@#$ good !@#$ing imagination, son. 

So I'm going to give him about another hour of crying like a !@#$ing kid with a skinned knee in a lemon juice factory, and then I'm going to hand over some of that glow-in-the-dark kumis that Altan Aduu makes and see if I can't drink him back into sensibility. Then we're going to have to talk immediate plans.

Past that... !@#$ed if I know. 


More later, son. Let me have a few hits of this radioactive !@#$ myself. Maybe it'll help.

God !@#$ing knows, I could sure use some. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Blue Monday (New Order, remixed by Hardfloor) and having radioactive mares milk)

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