The Ferroforte Affair

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    Red Sea
    10 km off Marstian territorial waters

    Everett sat on his boat, his laptop across his lap as he took in the sea air and the hot sun. An alert flashed at the bottom-right corner of his screen: it was a secure line from the ICA. Clicking on it immediately, a new contract unfurled across the screen, entitled ?Rolando di Ferroforte?. Before he continued reading, he moved the laptop off of his chest and looked around, making sure no prying eyes were watching. There were no boats for kilometers, but an employee of the ICA can never be too careful.

    As Everett read on, di Ferroforte became more than just a name. He was a revolutionary leader of a splinter group in the Neo-Venetian Theater, the ?Social Republicans?; a nice name for a radical terrorist organization that wanted a racially pure agricultural society. The intelligence the ICA provided made him seem like a relatively easy target. He loved making impromptu speeches to the masses and waving from a stretch limo sunroof. The only problem posed to Everett was he did this inside a 50 square kilometer region to which no one other than this splinter group was able to gain access to ? the ?Social Republic?.

    The total fee of the contract came to about $375,000, of which Everett would take home $80,000, a salary he had managed to work his way up to through almost four years with the mysterious International Contract Agency.

    The hit would be straightforward. No frills; get in, take out di Ferroforte, and get out as quickly and as quietly as possible. The second and third part would be relatively easy: the problem would be getting in. Everett closed his laptop, and manned the controls of his prized boat. He would need to start coordinating with his ICA contacts for weaponry and insertion into the most dangerous country in the European Union: the anarchic state of Neo-Venetia.

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    Grand Marquessial Palace,
    New Birmingham

    The newest member of the Grand Marquessial Advisory Council, Mike Horfey, was been brought up to speed on all current affairs

    **The thing you don't know about, Horfey, is the assassination of Rolando di Ferroforte.

    Now, everyone knows that Angleter has the finest fighters of the region. But we have an impossible circumstance now. The Social Republic of Neo-Venetia, the Juche-style racist rebel group, hold a 50 sq km region in the north, as you may know.

    The Social Republicans have set up barbed wire around the region and turned it into a fortress, with some 90,000 people inside as what we can only call hostages. The men must all wear suicide vests and hold guns. If we even tried to run over the Social Republic our troops would be blasted to hell and back.

    So our idea is that: knowing that the Social Republic will allow in any soldiers left behind in their retreat, we have employed the International Contract Agency...**

    But Grand Marquess they are but a myth!

    No, they exist, Horfey, they exist. Now our plan is that they get a cell in who kills the Social Republican leader, Rolando di Ferroforte. The idea is that if he dies, the Social Republican Front dies with it, and all Neo-Venetia is under a free and democratic roof again.

    Any questions? No? Good. Then you are all dismissed.

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    3 km away from ?Social Republic? territory

    Everett sat in his jeep, smoking a cigarette as he waited for his contact from the ICA. He looked out over the deserted landscape; the land around the Social Republic was barren and seemingly inhospitable. It was supposed to be. Barren lands surrounding a fortress meant those inside could see anyone coming for a long distance. Everett had parked himself strategically behind several rises in the landscape so as to better camouflage himself from SR sentries. As he looked around, he heard the hum of a vehicle in the distance. He got out of the jeep, turned around, and saw that his ICA contact was arriving. He looked down to his watch; he was right on time.

    As the contact sped closer, he became more distinguished. Ironically enough, it didn?t matter. The man had no distinguishing marks on his face or signature hairstyle. He was anonymous. The contact slammed the breaks, swerving up to Everett as he stood finishing his cigarette. He took one last drag before throwing it into the sands, the winds blowing sand over it. The contact got out, and began to speak to Everett.

    ?I?ve got everything you need here, Mr. Everett. It?s all in my truck. We switch vehicles here.?

    ?You have the Republican?s uniform, the high-powered rifle??

    ?I even have the secret password tucked in the breast pocket of the outfit. You?re covered. Just get yourself out as quickly as possible once Mr. di Ferroforte is no more.?

    Everett looked down at his feet. He couldn?t find the cigarette anywhere. He looked back at his contract.

    ?You know, if you stood here long enough, the winds would cover you completely in sand. There?s something so elegant about it. It?s like they dance over you, like it?s what the dust was meant to do.?

    ?Then you better get moving.?

    ?How did you get the password??

    ?When you grease the right wheels, you can get anything. I guess you can say it?s what I was meant to do, just as you are meant to eliminate this target. Good luck, Mr. Everett.?

    Everett and the contact exchanged keys, and the contact drove off in the jeep, towards the south. Everett checked the trunk of the vehicle, finding the outfit in perfect pressed condition. He checked the pocket of the jacket, and unfurled a small piece of paper. He smiled as he read the password.

    ?We?re all meant to do something? he though, ?and now I?ve got everything I need to do what I must.?

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    The Social Republic

    Everett sat on the rooftop of a small apartment building inside the Social Republic, overlooking the town square. He prepared his DSC-1 sniper rifle by assembling the scope, and then looking through it to his intended target. As he scanned the town center, he saw no signs of di Ferroforte, but saw the assembling of a podium and the gathering of a crow, meaning that his arrival was imminent.

    As he scanned the area, a convoy with a limousine in the middle made its way down the boulevard. Rolando di Ferroforte waved enthusiastically from the limo sunroof, an entourage running alongside the vehicle. Everett intensified his lens magnification on the man, a gleeful look becoming apparent on his target?s face. He relished his role as leader of the movement, waving at the crowd beginning to gather in the square.

    Everett took a deep breath, exhaled, and continued his gaze. There was no nervousness, no fear. He disengaged the safety and put his finger on the trigger. As Everett squeezed the trigger, he stared down the barrel at di Ferroforte?s face. In an instant, it looked as though it had caved into itself, exploding out the back of his skull. As the nearly headless target collapsed onto the roof of the limousine, Everett began disassembling his rifle. Within seconds, he had it back in his suitcase packed and began walking towards the roof stairwell. Now all he had to do was get out of the Social Republic alive.

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    Secret Service head John Preston arrived at the table

    Ferroforte is dead. It is done.

    A great cheer emerged from the table, followed by whooping, applause and banging on the desk before Prime Minister Catt restored order.

    **Yes, he is dead, but this is not over. The assassin has yet to leave, and the Social Republic and their 'citizens' are armed to the teeth and watched like a hawk. We gave him $100 as a tip prior to the attack with a promise of a further $900 to ensure his commitment, so it is less likely that he will tell all to the Social Republicans.

    The likelihood is that the Social Republic could capitulate and become again an underground terrorist movement. We must brace ourselves for retaliation, but for now they will be trying to determine which nation did this- remember that the International Forces want a sovereign, democratic Neo-Venetia, not an absurdly autocratic, racist state where the citizens are treated as near-slaves.

    We have to hope that nobody finds out that it was us, and that our man doesn't tell.**

    Meanwhile in the Social Republic chaos erupted followed by a multitude of explosions as the leaders tried to keep a lid on the situation. An official noticed something falling to the ground from the apartment block the shot had come from. It was a small money bag from a bank, containing $100. "I think I'll keep this," the official thought, before turning the bag over to reveal the logo of the bank- a bulldog with 'Dieu et mon droit' written under it. "This is from the Bank of Angleter! The murderer was paid with Bank of Angleter money! Sir! SIR!" The official ran off in pursuit of Ferroforte's right-hand-man, Dr. Francesco Mountz.

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