Fighting Land: Costa Luna
Chapter One: Criminals
Isla de los Penitentes Royal Penitentiary
Isla de los Penitentes, Santa Corazon, Costa Luna
18 September 2013
1620 Costa Luna time
Isla de los Penitentes was a small, unimportant rock-and-coral island just three miles away from the land surrounding Santa Corazon Bay. When it was first sighted by Spanish explorers in the 1560s, they didn't even bother claiming it for Spain before heading for the more promising interior of Costa Luna Island. It didn't even have a name until the late 19th century, when Queen Anna ordered a catalog of all the territories of the Kingdom of Costa Luna. Later on, her successor, King Juan X, ordered the construction of a new prison on the island to house the kingdom's growing number of criminals and delinquents. The island, now named Isla de los Penitentes, became a place for criminals to contemplate and repent for their sins; that is, become penitent.
Isla de los Penitentes Royal Penitentiary was modeled after infamous Alcatraz in the United States, and had housed its fair share of famous—and infamous—inmates like Juarez Perez Xicarramba, the so-called "Costa Lunan Jack the Ripper," who mutilated seven prostitutes in Santa Corazon before being captured by the police; the gangster Alberto Alcaraz Soreza, who smuggled alcohol-laced beverages into Prohibitionist America before being injured and captured after a shootout with rival gangs; and Communist spies Tomas and Ariana Testigo, who were imprisoned on the island before being hanged for treason.
More recent inmates included Martin Robles Ursino, whose method of murdering his sixteen victims was so much like the infamous Zodiac killer that many people suspected that he was the Zodiac killer; Jacinto Selucio de Dios, the infamous Rojas Boulevard Sniper that killed four people including a cop during his rampage of terror; and the four leaders of the Youth Revolutionaries.
There was also one inmate of the penitentiary that deserved a special mention. The atrocities he committed throughout his reign of terror made the ethnic killings in the former Yugoslavia look like ordinary killings. He was responsible for the deaths of at least 25,000 ethnic Costa Lunans in his native Costa Estrella. He approved of the executions of prisoners-of-war taken during the Costa Luna-Costa Estrella War of 1984, in direct violation of numerous international laws and treaties, chief among them the Geneva Convention. He was also the architect of the devastating Costa Luna Civil War, which claimed at least 10,000 lives on both sides of the conflict. Because of the magnitude of his crimes, he was sentenced to 35,000 years behind bars by the Royal Supreme Court; one year for every life lost by his hand.
Inside the penitentiary, he was just Prisoner 116727. In his file at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, he was listed as Juan Marcos Domingo Estrada y Dragovich. But to the rest of the world, he was General Magnus Kane.
Kane's cell was at the far end of the solitary confinement row. Only a single guard was assigned to him, and he was rarely allowed out of his cell, if at all. In the rare instances that he was allowed out, his guard was on him at all times, and he was not allowed to talk with any of the other inmates. He was allowed visitors, but the only ones that visited him were his mother, Elena Dragovich de Estrada, and his daughter, Juana Maria Cristina Estrada.
It was just another day at Isla de los Penitentes. Kane woke up at exactly nine in the morning, as he had been doing his whole adult life. He did some stretching exercises, and then he took the tray of food sitting on his cell door. It consisted of a single chicken drumstick, a cup of rice, and a glass of what tasted like a mix of water and cola. At least the food is getting better, he thought as he ate his food with his hands, preferring them over the utensils provided.
When he was finished eating, he placed the tray back on its place on the door, where the guard took it away through a cat flap. As Kane sat back down on his bed, he heard a sharp rapping on his door.
"Kane!" the guard shouted. "You have visitors."
"Buenos dias to you, too, Placido," he replied.
The guard opened the door, and Kane held out his arms obediently while the guard cuffed him. The two of them walked out to the visitor's area albeit slowly, as the cuffs on his ankles didn't allow a wide stride, very helpful for preventing criminals from escaping.
"I hope it is Mama coming to check up on me again," said Kane as they walked. "I really miss her homemade tinola, menudo, and caldereta! And I hope she brought my little Cristina with her. I want to see how she's grown up after all those years away from her. I wonder if she will still recognize me!"
Kane's appearance today was very far from the days that he reigned supreme over Costa Luna. His hair, which he used to keep in a short crew cut, was now reaching down to the base of his neck; and he now had a full, flowing beard. His infamous olive-drab marshal's uniform with black fur cape had been replaced by the prisoner's orange jumpsuit, and his riding boots were now a pair of state-provided, ill-fitting rubber shoes.
Placido, the guard, had Kane sit down on his regular seat at the far corner of the visitor's area and chained him to the chair just in case he tried to escape. But Kane knew that even if he managed to break free of his cuffs, five more prison guards were waiting for him with tasers, batons, and handguns. He waited for his visitor quietly, and when a man in a light gray suit sat down in front of him, he had to hide his surprise in an impatient yet pleasantly surprised grin. "Took you long enough to come to my aid, mi amigo," he said.
"I was busy," the man replied. "Another one of our mutual friend's projects has failed."
"I knew it. That perro Kodudov couldn't have lasted long with the Russians surrounding him on all sides. Let me guess: he was blown up along with his mansion, just like his mentor Dudayev."
"Actually, he was shot dead by Russian Spetsnaz soldiers that raided his mansion while their regular military confused the Transcaucasian military by attacking them from multiple fronts."
"Uncharacteristically smart of the Russians," muttered Kane. "But then they had the Spetsnaz at their side. Those 'special forces soldiers' are like the scalpels to the Russian Army's bludgeons. So, Lavrenty, what brings you to Isla de los Penitentes?"
"It's Andrew Mellow now, Juan," replied Lavrenty Konstantinovich Timofeyenko. "And don't say my real name out loud, Juan. You could attract unnecessary attention."
"All right! Jesus, Maria, e Jose! You're just like my mother whenever I ask about my grandfather!" Kane conceded. "Anyway, what brings you to Isla de los Penitentes, Andrew?"
"With the failure of his first two plans, our mutual friend has set his eyes upon a new prize: Costa Luna. Do you, by any chance, remember a certain fellow named Santiago San Antonio?"
"Of course I do! Tiago was one of my most loyal followers! After those bastardos y demonios y putas in the Princess Protection Program captured me in that filthy escuela in Louisiana, Tiago escaped to the countryside and made sure that the Socialist Revolution lived on, even without my guiding hand and presence. Why? What does he have to do in this plot of our mutual friend?"
"You really must try to keep up with the times, Juan," said Timofeyenko/Mellow. "Our mutual friend thinks that it is time for another revolution in Costa Luna. Andres Valderama can barely keep his coalition government together, and with parliamentary elections coming, the Costa Lunan people are sorely divided between the liberal Socialist Alvarado Lobo and the conservative Republican Nicolas Trotshev. You will once again be at the forefront of this revolution, the numero uno, and San Antonio will be your right-hand man once he gets you out of here."
"And how is he supposed to do that? Last time I heard, Santiago didn't have enough explosives to break a twig."
"Our mutual friend will deliver what Santiago needs. As much as he needs, and then some," Timofeyenko assured Kane.
"He should. I don't want a repeat of Dos Mil Nueve."
"I apologize for that, my friend. The United Nations had enforced a blockade on Russian ships when our mutual friend funded their Georgian adventure."
Kane leaned closer to Timofeyenko. "Why do you want to do this, my friend?" he asked.
"Oh, you know why I'm asking you to do this, old friend," Lavrenty replied, but Kane could sense the uneasiness in him. "We are spreading the seeds of socialism to newer, more fertile lands."
"No, Andrew, I think that that's just the surface of why you want me to spark a revolt," Kane said. "You see, Andrew, Russia invaded Georgia at just about the same time that I revolted against Costa Luna. If things had gone the way it should have, I believe that my revolution would have become the front-page news of every newspaper in the world, while the Russian invasion would have just been page-bottom filler. But, as you know, everything went wrong almost immediately. The Crown Princess escaped, I spent most of my energies searching for her and luring her out of her hiding spot and away from her PPP protectors, only to fall for a cleverly constructed trap engineered by a sixteen-year-old girl! Bah! I should have listened to my mother's advice when I was younger." He then muttered something in Spanish.
"What was that again?" Lavrenty/Andrew asked Kane.
"My mama had been telling me these stories about how a meddlesome family of Americans always caused a lot of trouble for my family, dating back to my Russian abuelo. I remember the words that my mother drilled into my head after all of these stories: 'Never trust a Mason.'"