When ARDOR informed me they’d intercepted “intelligence” (the occasional irony of that word never ceases to amuse me) that RANCOR had a factory in Bolivia that was manufacturing a knock-off H1N1 vaccination that was about to hit the international black market, I begged for the opportunity to break the case.
First, It would mean the chance to take down (if you will) Eduardo, with whom it’s safe to say I’ve a bit of “unfinished business”. Today he is South America’s #1 underground toxic chemical manufacturer. But when I first met him, he was the rising star of photojournalism, and I the rising star of International Peacekeeping Enforcement. I let him buy me a drink despite his cliche opening, “I’d love to photograph you.” If you could hear his charming accent you too would be inclined to be forgiving. I’m not sure when or why Eduardo went rogue, but it doesn’t matter. Business is business.
Second, I’m long overdue for a trip to South America. This time of year always reminds me of Sorata. I don’t know, maybe it’s the Eduardo thing again. It was the morning after that fateful “I’d love to photograph you”meeting on September 16. Deciding to go for a picnic, we got in his jeep and started driving. We soon realized we’d forgotten to buy any food, or bring water, or get gas, and ended up stranded out in the middle of nowhere and if it weren’t for this kind old shepherd who stumbled upon us (literally — it was getting so hot in the jeep) who noticed Eduardo’s camera equipment and luckily the shepherd actually did want his picture taken so Eduardo complied and the shepherd fed us and got us drunk and it truly was the most marvelous day! But I digress…
I knew this mission would be extra special when Twilite Fontanelle greeted me at the hangar! Twi rarely works in the field these days. But apparently she too has some “unfinished business” in Bolivia. Let the games begin!
We were personally led to the suspected scene of the crime by Sorata’s unofficial mayor, “Queen Maria” (Twilite’s above-mention “unfinished business; for more details you’ll have to contact Twi yourself via secure channel). Maria’s family has sort-of ruled this village for centuries, and they are well-loved by the locals. So when they heard of RANCOR corrupt business venture, Maria knew to contact yours truly to get the job done effectively.
On our initial recon of the area, we established that this job was going to be much easier than we’d ever dreamed. It turns out that the translator Eduardo hired wasn’t so fluent in English after all (sadly, Eduardo never was terribly detail-oriented). And thus the knockoff “Swine Flu” vaccine they’d manufactured to sell on the black market was actually a “Donkey Flu” vaccine. Not much demand for that one anywhere. When we informed the destitute day-laborers that this was in fact the case (and we were offering cash for any information), they couldn’t talk fast enough! Eduardo made a signature quick exit before we could bring him up on any charges. But our paths will cross again…
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