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The Chinese were being evacuated from Sierra Leone.

Their Embassy was all but shut down but only for the highest of priorities for official government business. Their deal with Legion Premiere had lapsed once additional forces for the latter armed force had arrived. They stood down and protected their own and left the Morroccan embassy to their own fate.

Reed had acquired more reasonable clothing suited to the weather. She had not seen Jacques since they parted ways at the embassy gate, but people were all a twitterpated over his presence. He was like a fucking good luck charm, and maybe he was. There had been a shocking lack of violence in Freetown since he set foot there.

An unrelieving breeze ruffled a loose linen blouse around her body. She wore denim jeans and serviceable shoes built for running and walking alike. She also wore a white hat and sunglasses. Her hair was tied out of her face, but sweat dripped down the back of her neck anyway. The sun blazed down upon where she squat on a flat rooftop.

Her Wallet beeped an alert and she lifted a pair of binoculars to her eyes to study the wall-line of the Chinese embassy.

CCD spy and all around badass
Jacques' meeting with Legionnaire Vanders had went well. The man had given the topic a great deal of thought already; it made sense of course. It was something the man had lived with for years apparently, and had kept hidden even from the US military. If such skills could go unnoticed there, then it meant that perhaps the CCD hadn't quite the lead Jacques had feared. Perhaps the same scenario applied to Mr Vellas. Either way though, the cat was out of the bag. The arms race had begun.

Whatever Vanders had done to him, it had washed away any trace of his exhaustion. Or at the least, pushed it to the boundaries of his mind. Jacques knew his limit well, but whatever spells the Legionnaire had worked seemed to have given him more then just a second wind. Such magics could see soldiers remain combat effective for far longer then any degree of training could manage. But what were the side effects?

He wrapped up his paperwork in short order, then graced the halls of the embassy briefly. There were murmurs that Miss Grey had left her room, and he passed a few of his men commenting fondly of the woman. She wasn't bubbly and ephemeral, which seemed to be the initial expectations for those who had seen her. Instead, from what he could gather, she was far firmer of mind and tighter of emotion then her appearance suggested. Perhaps she would fair better in Sierra Leone the he had dared hope, because he had no intentions of forcing the woman away if she intended to help.

Eventually, Jacques found his way to the roof. He had always been fond of heights, although the embassy didn't offer much of an elevation. For some, there was a sense of withdrawal from the problems of the world. Being high above, looking down, made their worries seem small, insignificant.

For Jacques, it afforded him a view of the world at large. He could admire the view, certainly, but it was the glimpse of humanity that he sought. His actions and decisions influenced the lives of his men. And in an environment like Sierra Leone, those decisions had far further reach. From above, he did not see the crowds as a faceless mob. He saw them as the individuals they were. He did not loose any appreciation for the individual's strife, he just better grasped how far reaching the consequences could be.

The roof of the embassy was empty for the moment; the building was not tall enough to justify posting sharp shooters, and the perimeter wall came with a handful of small towers that served far better. Of course, there would be men there during the night, but that was not upon them yet.

He had stripped down partially; gone was the military fatigue tunic he had been wearing since Jeddah. He still wore the pants, and the holstered pistol, but he had gone 'casual.' Suns out, guns out, as they said. A simple, clean, white tank top, of the sort he would usually wear under his uniform to ward off chaffing and those irritating sweat drips. And of course, a white Kepi cap sat on his head to shadow the screens of his Landwarriors, and a pair of fightin'n'dyin' gloves tucked into his back pocket.

He stood a moment on the roof, tilting his head back to enjoy the heat of the sun. It was good to breath the air of his continent again, even with the ceaseless horrors that were spoken of and quickly forgotten in the world news. The selfish moment of indulgence past quickly, and he turned his gaze to the horizon, where he quickly realized he was not alone.

Again he found himself in Reed's presence, and again the woman was snooping. He studied her for a moment, admiring the way her jeans hugged her as she squatted to hide behind the roof's low wall, the way the sweat ran down the back of her neck and teased at wetting her white tunic.

The woman was dangerous. And arrogant. Driven by her own mysterious goals and intentions that, it seemed, spared little concern for those around her. How much trouble could be had should the Chinese spot her, and think he was housing spies. Inconsiderate wench.

He crossed towards her, and came to stand boldly a few feet to her left, hands clasped in the small of his back and staring out towards the Chinese embassy for a moment. He would pay it a visit before they had fully evacuate, to personally thank the soldiers who had been ordered to aid in the protection of the embassy district. The politicians he cared for only so long as they were able to serve his purposes. The soldiers had been ordered to kill, and for some, that never sat well. Better that they knew something of the reason behind it, asides the incomprehensible games that their leaders played.

"Where do you keep those binos of yours? You didn't exactly have any luggage when we landed here, and those pants are too tight to fit them in a pocket. Or did you lift them from one of my men?" Jacques glanced at Reed with a mischievous smile, then turned his gaze outwards again, studying the crowd that had gathered below. Foreign nationals still choked the streets, and desperate Sierra Leoneans crowded the check points at the embassy district's approaches, where Sierra Leonean soldiers screened them and turned away any without appropriate paper work.

The smile slowly died as he watched the brutality those soldiers used to turn away those that hadn't the proper paperwork. The situation in the city had not improved much with the arrival of General Wallace-Jackson and his men. It had only grown more systematic and quiet in it's violence. These acts were cloaked under the excuse of necessity.
The Chinese embassy, no matter the foreign nation, was always a symbol. Through the scope of her binoculars, Reed scanned the squared off edge of their roofline and the panes of perfectly square windows below. There was a garden behind the Embassy, but she didn't need to pay off the trash man to find that out. One thing about the Chinese, they were predictable.

The Ambassador of one nation to another nation represented the head of state himself. In this case, there was a man inside a building a short walk from hers that represented the President of the PRC. She digitally zoomed on the corner window. Through her binoculars she could make out only a small corner of the room. The glass would have an anti-angle glare film on the window, resistant to spies such as herself from taking a peek. But right inside that room was the quickly emptying office of a man who had exactly what Reed needed. Question was, should she go in from the roof or stroll right up to the front gate?

She'd never met this particular representative of the President. Despite the national interest in special Sierra Leoneon sparkly dirt, he must have sucked the wrong dick to find himself babysitting this hellhole. It was so fucking hot!

Reed lowered the binoculars and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. She could hear someone else up there with her, but for crying out loud, it wasn't like Jacques was trying to sneak around.

She kept her squat anyway. She did owe him for the plane ride and all that. Then he circled around to join her and Reed fell back on her ass. A little cloud of sandy dust puffed up around her, but she was effectively concealed from other roof dwellers between a short wall and a ventilation fan-box. Liquid green eyes followed the veins of his bare forearm up to his neck and finally teased their way around the angle of his face. She had the perfect view of his jawline right where the carotid delved into the brain. It was always her favorite place to jab a switch blade. Like the one in her waist.

She tilted the binoculars he referenced. There was a Legion Premiere symbol on the side. Right above a Made in China stamp. Reed shrugged. "I'm insulted, Danjou, i'm not a pick pocket."
The comment was colored with a dangerously flirty tease. "I picked this up on the side of the road right next to a pile of dead Temnes. Or maybe it was the other side. I can't quite keep them straight. Mendes?"
She offered it up to Jacques. "You can have them back if you want. I'm pretty much done here, and you're right, not much else fits in these pants."

She leaned against the ventilator box. She could feel the steady whirl of a fan inside vibrating against her back. There was likely to be a sweaty print behind her when she finally goes to get up. Oh well. Jacques looked like the kind of guy to have seen a sweaty back or two.

She hooked her fingers through the loop of her pants coyly despite the miserable conditions. "As for the pants, well, let's say that's better left unanswered. What about you? Get your shit together? And how the hell are you still vertical? You look like you could march a twenty in full kit."
She looked him over closely.
CCD spy and all around badass
There were too many piles of dead bodies in the city. Many would, at best, end up in mass graves that would likely be dug in the national park to the south of the city, which would suffer drastic deforestation to accommodate the thousands of refugees that had fled to the capital, and the many thousands more that would surely join them in the coming days.

Many would go unidentified, dumped into deep holes quickly, the bodies likely looted for anything of value first. Perhaps in the coming decades, some human rights group or another would fund an effort to pull dental records of those bodies, exhuming the mass graves and seeing them granted a 'proper' burial.

He glanced down at her as she took up a more comfortable position, leaning against one of the labouring ventilators. The machines were desperately over worked; the embassy was filled beyond it's intended capacity, meaning the machines had been needed to be run continuously to assure a good flow of air, especially through the sections housing the wounded.

He held a hand out for the binos she had 'picked up' somewhere. They would be returned to his men, who would need them to keep the perimeter secure during the night. Once handed over, they were tucked into the leg pocket of his slacks, where they fit neatly.

Her comment was met by a ghost of a chuckle, "Allan Quartermain."
As if that alone was explanation enough. A moment's silence, and he glanced down at her, "Sir Rider Haggard. An Englishman, author, from around the turn of the last century. Wrote of the great hunter, Allan Quartermain. Macumazahn. Part of the fiction was that he could never die so long as he remained on the Dark Continent."

He shrugged and returned his gaze to the streets below the embassy. "I might have given you a speech about why I do what I do. But I doubt you would care. Perhaps there is some similarity in our end games, but the motives and means to get there are very different. Every life taken to reach my goal is one too many. Every one of my men that give their lives for my goal, is too much asked of my men."

Below, there were widowed wives clutching their children to their sides. There were men who mere hours before had been influential and safe, now dirty and exhausted. Women, girls, who had escaped with their lives, but carrying the seed of their attackers. Lives had been ruined, destroyed, and some would never recover.

"The world suffers a lot. Not because the violence of bad people. But because of the silence of the good people. I will not be silent. My men will not stand idly by. And in so doing, I hope to set an example."
It was hard to imagine, but the quote was of Napoleon Bonaparte. The man had conquered through force of arms, but had brought medical science, education, economic stability, and scientific growth in his wake.

"That aside, I will sleep tonight. I need to adjust to the time zone. And the best way to do that is to stay awake a few more hours, somehow."
He smiled down at her; he had no way of knowing if Jared's magics had truly rested him or simply kept the need for rest at bay for a few more hours. Either way, he would need to sleep eventually, and would need to keep himself awake till it was time to rest.
Allan Quartermain was the main character in a novel from the 1800's. That was the extent of Reed's knowledge on the subject. Other than he was often confused with superhero type characters.

Reed entertained Jacques' comment with a wry smirk. Was he calling himself a legend? He was an arrogant son of a bitch. Probably was.

Reed liked him for it.

But dammit he lived in an utopian world. Perhaps it was good that some people clung to idealisms. They were always easier to predict. And accurately guessing her objectives' moves always made her job easier. The dark continent could use a little bit of Jacques Danjou's bullshit. Reed could care less, but maybe if the place was a little less chaotic, she'd not be sent here in the future.

After he went on about Quartermain, he turned to quotes from the Great military heroes of history or some such nonsense that belonged on a bumper sticker rather than a conversation between killers.

She rolled her eyes after he finished enjoying the sound of his own voice. "You're such a nerd, Danjou."
She met his smile with a harsh smirk of her own. "So what are you doing up here besides strutting around and flexing your arms? I get it, you've pissed all over the place, this is your house and I'm a visitor. But I do have some business with your neighbors that needs dealing. I'm guessing you have similar business. Maybe I could kill two birds with one stone?"

She waved him on down to sit by her. "Let's talk."
She was getting a great gauge of his character and no matter how awake he seemed, he had to be growing duller by the minute, and he was likely to slip and give her more insights than she'd ever have the chance to see again. At least it might take a good deal of work to get him to lower his guard again. And if he trusted her? All the better.
CCD spy and all around badass
He laughed warmly at her snide comment, "Do not let my investors know, would you? They still think I am a gambling buffoon. I fear Jeddah may sully that image some."
His image graced many an African-circulated business and culture magazine. The business ones often hinted that he was just the charismatic face for a secretive board of trustees, while the culture ones went on about his more interesting misadventures in the lime-light.

He stood in silence a moment, something, or more likely someone, in the crowds below having caught his attention, but in the end he just sighed quietly and moved to sit, moving away from the roof's perimeter wall to lean against the same ventilator as she.

"The big picture. You can learn much of a city by the people that are in it. Most of the people down there are city-dwellers. Not many are from the country-side, or the smaller towns. You can tell by the clothes, you see. Freetown is a rich city, as far as Africa goes. The people here are well off, and buy from the big chain stores. It has only been two days, but that should be plenty of time for people from rural areas to have fled to the capital. But they are not. The refugee camps are receiving people from the ferry crossings, but not much from the over-land routes. Why?"

The answer was relatively simple. Either the Temne, or General Wallace-Jackson's troops controlled the highway into Freetown, and had blocked all inbound traffic. But why were they doing it? It was easier to track who was coming in at the ferry ports on the far side of the river. Those places were designed for just that sort of thing, funneling people in or out.

"I doubt our intentions with the Chinese embassy are similar. Their politicians are nothing to me but a means to an end. They offer their money for favours, for promises and guarantees that simply cannot be provided. When they leave, I expect no more help from them. I wish only to thank the soldiers that were ordered to kill to protect the people in this building, and the others here. Soldiers are trained to take lives, but they are still human, and killing does not sit well with some. To know that what they did was appreciated by those that benefited from their actions may help alleviate some of the weight they now carry."

He adjusted his Landwarriors, where he was still cycling through status updates and reports from his men scattered around the country. "What do you want to talk about then? You wish to visit the Chinese Embassy. I will be going in the morning."
He finally fell off his high horse and sat down next to her. His arm pressed against hers. There was the faint aroma of work and sweat, not particularly distasteful. She didn't mind sharing her spot.

She draped her forearms across the top of bent knees, leaned her head against the box and closed her eyes while he went on and on. He's worse than Trano. She inwardly groaned.

He never gave her the chance to pose an answer. The roads should be flooded with refugees from the country towns and village spots. That there weren't meant one of three things: one, the refugees weren't fleeing anything after all - unlikely; two, the refugees were all already dead - possibly; or three, the refugees were blocked from reaching Freetown at all - also possibly.

Names, faces, and hundreds of facts she'd memorized about the local situation during the flight from Mecca blurred through her mind like a download. There were only a few situations that could see the latter-most option to fruition. The General that all but named himself acting President could reroute refugees from entering the city. But why? To keep the tensions high between the two ethnic groups? If Mende were still out there running around, that meant the Temne had people they could chase after. That kept the Temne busy while General Wallace-Johnson saw to other business. Maybe. Reed didn't care. The only thing she cared about was her mission: and that, ultimately, was to undermine the goals of certain corporations in the area. Corporations that funneled power back to their home nations. Enemy of your enemy is your friend, so the saying goes. Right now, Jacques Danjou was her new bestie.

"I do want to visit the Chinese Embassy, and I want to go with you."
She twisted her neck to face him while they continued to lounge in their little spot. The wall was too high to see over from where they sat. No other buildings loomed over them. If one winced, they might be able to pretend they sat under a blue sky on some deserted island somewhere. Assuming the city's sweltering scent of decay, blood and trash could be ignored.

"But I think you and I are more aligned than you realize. Way I see it, there are four big players in Sierra Leone and they're all running for that sparkly dirt as the trophy prize. The Americans, the Chinese, the Custody and Wallace Johnson. If one of them wins, the others all lose, but what if none of them win? The loss can be managed. The fall-out can be redirected. But if none of them wins, who does that leave us with?"

Her smile grew expectant as Reed poked him on the side of his arm. "Don't ask about my methods if you don't like them, but we can help each other here, Jacques. I really don't want to work against you. I'd come out ahead of course, but it'd be a bitch of a job to accomplish."

She wasn't really threatening him, but there was something sinisterly sincere in Reed's delivery. "I really don't."

CCD spy and all around badass
At the end of the day, Jacques had no interest in who came out on top, so long as the country was stable, the people could live in peace. In Africa, that was asking far too much, and it was the very reason he had hated the extremists in the Middle East so much.

They had had stability. A functioning economy, religious freedom, electricity, water, education. And they had thrown it away for one charismatic asshole who had wanted all the power to himself. Because his 'God' had decreed it. Because they were ruled by money. Because 'infidels' walked their streets. Whatever their reason, they had thrown away the very things so many people in Africa would gladly kill for, if someone were willing to lead them to that cause.

Of course, so long as Africa remained the war-torn, dangerous place it was, his company would be in high demand, and would make countless millions in profits. There would always be those willing to pay top dollar for his men's services. And until the time came that they were no longer needed, he had to do what was necessary to keep them well funded and unchallenged.

He would, in the end, make his allegiance to whichever faction offered the most money, and the best plan to keep Sierra Leone quiet and safe. And that would not be General Wallace-Johnson of the Mende. Nor would it be General Katlego of the Temne. The elected government was too depleted, too torn asunder, to bring things back under control.

He had his suspicions about her, but had no way of knowing exactly which faction she worked for. Trano was an easy way into CCD territory, and thanks to his position would have offered a means of getting close to some very important people. American, perhaps?

"I have made a career of being underestimated, Mademoiselle Reed. Most of my enemies only loose money, and rarely realize how badly taken they were in the process. Wallace-Johnson cannot be allowed to seize control. That will only end in a sea of blood, and no one will earn a single cent for years, if ever. Liberia, I fear, is poised to seize the south-east. My company has a reputation in Africa, that we do not pander to any one foreign power. That we are African, with African loyalties."
He was not so foolish as to turn down any offers that were handed to him, but he had to be careful not to undermine his reputation either.

Her threat seemed to fall on deaf, or indifferent, ears. He had enough enemies ahead of him, and no desire to make more if he could avoid it. But equally, he would not let her run rampant if her means lead down a dark road. He wanted a quick, certain, victory. An end to the fighting as quickly as he could manage.

Whether she or her employers would underestimate him and his company waited to be seen. "The Chinese have shown themselves to have the deepest pockets so far, and they hold many service contracts with my company. It is in my bests interests to keep them happy. How will letting you come with me to their embassy achieve that?"
And what did it mean to be African with African loyalties? To work in the best interest of fellow Africans? That sounded good, but when you were the whimpy kid in school, the best strategy was to buddy up with the most bad ass kid on the block. Do his homework in exchange for protection and both kids win.

Africa needed friends and they sure as hell didn't want to attract attention from the wrong places. One brawny kid can't do much but duck and cover if a street war breaks out around them. "If the CCD ever decides African rather than South American conquests would make a better field to undermine the USA, you'll quickly realize your precious Africa will be the only one to really lose."

"But the Chinese are the brawny kid that forgotten all about their deal with the whimpy kid now that shit's hit the fan. While they have the deeper pockets, in the end its in their best financial interest to align with whomever is going to win the country rather than continue to bankroll security for their own operations. They may be the Custody's and USA's competition, but the country is not so swollen with cash as their media lets on. It costs a lot of money to take the high road."

Jacques understood why the Chinese investment in the region's stability was important to his sappy little cause, but Reed had yet to convince him why he needed her support as well. "My job is to get this ass-backward country up and running again, and to do that, we need to get your pretty little round ass in power. Maybe not full on wikipedia-cited power, but power none the less.

"Those asshole Generals need the rug pulled out from under them, and if I do it, you'll be ready to step into the void. If I don't do it, somebody else will, and that somebody will most likely be a puppet answering to Custody strings, and the Custody would rather blow this place into the sea or watch civil war rip it to shreds than let the Americans or Chinese gain any capital advantage. You don't want their agents to be the first kids on the block, you want me to beat them to it. Luckily, I'm already here."

She fully expected him to agree. "And for me to do my job, I need inside that embassy. Get what I'm saying, princess?"
CCD spy and all around badass
"The CCD brings with it safety, religious freedom, and a stable economy. There are many who feel that it is not so bad a thing."
Jacques adjusted the way his Kepi sat on his head, shielding his eyes from the sun a bit more effectively. Despite sitting on a hot roof, leaning against bare metal and seated on the loose gravel that coated the roof's surface, he seemed on the verge of falling asleep. A skill any good soldier quickly learned was the ability to sleep anywhere, should time allow.

"But it also leads to the death of culture, history, national identity. Traditions are lost for modernization. Language is forgotten for standardization. Must me forget the past to move into the future? The past provides lessons to guide us to our future, lessons that cannot be learned from when the past is cast aside."
She did not seem to have much of an appreciation for philosophy, at least not when there was work...whatever her work really was...that took precedence. But if she insisted on sticking around, she would simply have to get used to it.

She was correct in her opinion of the CCD; he expected no help from them. In fact, he expected them to hinder any stability from returning to the region. Had their people trained and equipped the Guinean rebels that were already nipping at Sierra Leone's borders? Had they influenced General Katlego to start the coup d'etate? Or was it all just Africa being itself?

"I have no desire to rule a country, Mademoiselle Reed. It is the place of the people to choose their leader, not for one such as I, or either of the Generals, to take it upon themselves."
Many thought he was an optimist, a rare thing in Africa. He did have his sights set on a shining future, an ideal image of how things could be, but he was not so foolish as to think that perfection achievable.

"But if it comes to it, should Wallace-Johnson make the move I expect of him, I will do what I need to do to mitigate the suffering. Should that mean seeing him in shackles, his 'army' disbanded, and my men in their place, so be it. But that will only be until a new elected government can be formed."
It was not a pleasant thought; such a thing could take years to achieve. To train a new military, a functioning police force, to reestablish civil services. Years he did not wish to spend on so small, so local, a task.

"Africa is used to being used for the interests of others, and that shall, sadly, not change any time soon. You may come with me, but I ask of you. Do not work behind my back. Every roadblock in my path is more innocent lives lost, and unlike you, I care who's blood is on my hands."
He eased himself to his feet again; whatever Vanders had done had yet to start to wear off, but he still needed to eat. "I will be going to the Chinese in the morning. Early. That is no problem for you, is it? You women enjoy your beauty sleep, after all."

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