Big Sticks & Biggest Guns: Report of Black Hearts #5 part 5

Previously on Black Hearts:

Mr. Smith sent his Black Hearts on clandestine ops that was unsanctioned by the UCAS, with a briefing handed to them by their fellow operatives rather than the normal system. He split his agents into three teams for three simultaneous ops. One op with Decker, Assassin, Face and Rigger. The second had his Muscle, Stealth Mage and Demo Man. The third op he sent his B&E ghost, his Mind Mage and his Pickpocket Face.

The first op involved kidnapping a cartel boss’s daughter and heir, giving her a warning that her father should get better friends than terrorists. He also informed her she had better stay away from his daughter. The second involved blowing up said poor friend, as well as several dozens of soldiers as collateral damage. Just before the target’s commlink died, it flashed the filename Angela Serrano…


Mr. Smith was an excellent CIA Operative. He was meticulous. Made smart choices when recruiting assets and when hiring mercs. Knew when collateral damage was to be expected or even desired. Cleaned up trails like nobody else, discovered enemies like nobody else. His bosses were very satisfied with his work and let him create his own group of deniable assets, while most of his coworkers didn’t even know he existed. Those that did considered him nearly-flawless.

If there was one flaw that Mr. Smith had, it as his love for his daughter Angela. It was a flaw he kept well-hidden even from the UCSA Government. That his real name was Charles Serrano and that he had a daughter he saw once per year, nobody knew. Using the tools of his trade Smith had long since buried any trace that could let people connect his business with his personal life.

Arthur Nielsen was an excellent CIA Operative. He was meticulous. Knew exactly who to blackmail or bribe, and with what. Found weaknesses and dug up secrets. If there was one flaw he had, it was his selfishness. A selfishness that had driven him and seven other CIA operatives into the hands of Horizon, double-dipping with their intel. It also had driven them to help ensure their jobs by turning on the UCAS government…

Thus came into existence Quantum, a terrorist group which held the belief that peace made weak and so if the times were too peaceful, things needed to be shaken up. For that goal Quantum sparked terrorism and bloodshed, making others do their dirty work. And when it came to figuring out whether to use carrot or stick, bloodhound Arthur Nielsen was one of the best. Thus he rose to second-in-command, and so he got on the trail of Angela Serrano…


Nielsen had a black book commlink with the names of the many dozens of people he used. And the day came where he added his ‘coworker’ Smith to it. This exposed a flaw that Nielsen normally kept in check, namely his hubris. Had he been smarter he would have killed Smith within months of blackmailing him for the first time. Because Serrano loved his daughter and the best way to keep her safe was to bury his secret inside Nielsen’s grave.

Nielsen was a ghost. Nobody ever saw him. Nobody knew his face, his race, or what made him tick. So getting to him would be tough. But Smith knew how to play the long game, plus he knew that going for a quick resolution would tip his hand. So he bided his time and started digging. And since Nielsen was a coworker with a long dossier, it wasn’t hard for Smith to read between the lines and find an angle to use…

The weakness he identified was that Nielsen liked to get all hands-on if a pet project of his threatened to go wrong. So to lure him out, all that would be needed was to mess with the right project in the right way. The biggest problem would be taking out his dropbox with him. Because after all, there was no way Nielsen did not have a Dead Man Switch ready to burn quite a few people if he ever bit the dust…

And there Horizon came in… Because the Dawkins Group keeps tabs not just on potential enemies and assets, but on their own agents as well. There was bound to be some hints left by the double-agents, so ‘all’ Smith had to do was get into the Dawkins Group their intel stores. After that he’d have to lure out Nielsen while also figuring out where the switch was and how to kill it…


Four months after Nielsen added Smith to his black comm, Smith made his first move. His target was Jason McDonalds, a former member of the Dawkins Group that had been sidelined after complications in the Aztlan-Amazonia war. McDonalds had realized he was now expendable and was busy arranging his extraction. So Smith sent half a dozen agents to snatch McDonalds during the extraction, as to leave a trail of confusion and suspicion.

With the intel from McDonalds in hand, Smith sent agents after a former Horizon hotel. Their task was to obtain some art pieces present there that had Dawkins data stores inside them and replacing them with forgeries. The switch was to be made before anyone would realize they had slipped and was done quite excellently. Now even if the Dawkins Group or Quantum realized, they would only find the fakes and would be none the wiser.

With his intel in hand, it was time for Smith to lure out Nielsen. He decided to do so by targeting the Mirando cartel. Nielsen had allied himself with the cartel boss, convincing him that sponsoring terrorism was a good way to distract the cops from his own drug business. In return Smith allied the UCAS government with the Artosa cartel, an enemy of Mirando. He made sure to time this with an attempted coup against Artosa, as to buy a longer-lasting alliance.

Smith also had his Black Hearts hit a Mirando drughouse that was originally meant to be a honeypot. Had CAS agents hit the place and stolen the cash themselves, they would have been blackmailed as part of Nielsen’s plan. Instead the place was blown to bits and Lone Star got hotheaded-mad when one of their own cops ended up murdered. If the Mirando cartel wanted to get heat off them, they would have to try even harder now…

These setbacks would not be enough to lure out Nielsen though. The Mirando cartel would also have to be subtly exposed without Nielsen catching onto Smith. For this purpose Smith needed to frustrate them, and there was a really nice way of doing that… Nielsen knew there was a sociologist catching onto his game, so he wanted her gone. And two could play that game.

At the Joint UCAS-CAS Anti-Terrorism (JUCAT) Conference, the Black Hearts protected Agatha Lancer who aimed to convince both countries to look into cartels sponsoring terrorism… Meanwhile, they also took out her opponent Victor Mondreau, whose speeches were part of Nielsen’s divide-and-conquer strategy. Best of all, they did it sneakily and stole useful paydata on the Mirando cartel as well.


All the pieces were in play and thus began the story’s final act. In a simultaneous triple strike, the Black Hearts went after Nielsen, his Dead Man Switch and the Mirando cartel. The third wasn’t that needed but if anything separated Nielsen and Smith, it was that Smith still cared about his country. As such he refused to let terrorism happen if he could prevent it.

Daniella Mirando got kidnapped by four agents and given a stern talking to. This would guarantee that in the future the Mirando cartel would stay far away from terrorism. Three agents used the Dawkins intel to take out Nielsen’s dead man switch, making sure that no intel would leak unless Smith wanted it to leak. And three more took out Nielsen with a very big bang, making sure he’d rest in many, many pieces.

But no secret can stay buried forever. So Smith played another long game and gave away his personal motives. This way if Quantum came digging, they’d know he had acted out of personal motives. So rather than consider Smith a liability, they’d simply consider him an enemy. As a result they would argue about whether or not to take him out and if he even still was a threat to them.

Smith was good. And indeed Quantum debated internally about whether or not to take him out, deciding after two months that it seemed like he was indeed clean so no problem anymore. They let him slide.

During the third month the Black Hearts killed five Quantum members. The final two disappeared soon after…

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