Chapter 4: The Beginning of the End
The black Mercedes had been making its way through the streets of Bulin for about an hour when the sights of the city dramatically changed. In place of the high-rise buildings and historic sites, they had seen earlier Tasha and Jason were now surrounded by run-down structures that were covered in graffiti, crumbling from years of neglect and showing the terrible effect the economic depression was having on the country. There were countless people, especially women and children, begging on the street corners for food and money as well as numerous others huddled together in alleyways and under makeshift tents for warmth and shelter. They also saw dealers selling their “goods” as well as other suspicious-looking characters lurking around the area.
The Mercedes soon came to a stop next to what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. The two henchmen got out of the car and Tarek opened the passenger door next to him and exited the vehicle. He then made his way to the right rear passenger door and opened it. Tasha, sitting in the seat, next to the opened door, proceeded to exit the car. “Thank you,” she said as she walked past Tarek who was still holding the door open.
“Thanks,” Jason replied as he stepped outside the car and made his way over to Tasha who was now standing on the sidewalk. Tarek closed the car door and then walked toward where Tasha and Jason stood.
“Right this way,” Tarek said before leading the group for about forty feet down the sidewalk before turning to his right which led them all into a narrow and dimly lit alleyway. Tarek led the group about twenty feet down that alley until they came to a large metal door which he stopped in front of. Tarek then knocked loudly, the sound of his fist pounding against the steel door echoing throughout the alley. After a few moments, the door opened and they saw a woman standing in front of them. She looked to be in her late twenties and had blonde hair, brown eyes, and a curvy figure. “Hi Tarek,” she said in her earthy tone of voice.
“Hello, Scarlett” Tarek responded in his usual cold tone. “I’d like to introduce Melinda Tylerson and Edward Delucas.” He said, gesturing to Jason and Tasha who stood behind him along with the two henchmen.
“Well, hello there good-looking,” she said very flirtatiously looking at Jason as though she was fully enchanted by him.
“Ah…hi” Jason replied, somewhat embarrassed, clearly taken aback by Scarlett’s forwardness, and unsure of what he should say. Tasha also felt somewhat uncomfortable with Scarlett and her advances toward Jason but she managed not to show it.
“Okay, Scarlett! Enough with that already!” Tarek shouted. “Mr. Delucas and Ms. Tylerson have some very important business with Dalmar.”
“Yes, yes, of course” she replied in an annoyed tone. “Come on in.” Scarlett held open the door and Tarek, Tasha, Jason, and Dalmar’s two minions entered the building. The room which they stepped into was large, dark and wooden panels covered the walls. There were no windows so the room was only illuminated by one dingy chandelier dangling from the ceiling which looked like it could fall at any moment. The place was also in desperate need of a deep cleaning as layers of dust completely covered the round tables and chairs throughout the room and numerous cobwebs draped the ceiling. On the left side of the room was a long oak bar and behind it were shelves stocked full of all types of alcohol and glasses. The room was also packed full of people who Tasha and Jason assumed were some of Dalmar’s followers. They were all seated at tables throughout the room talking, drinking, or playing cards.
“Dalmar’s right there,” Scarlett said, motioning to a man with grey hair, wrinkled skin, piercing black eyes, and wearing a freshly pressed navy suit who was seated alone at a table with two bodyguards standing beside him in the corner of the room.
“Thanks” Tarek replied coolly.
“Yeah, no problem,” Scarlett responded in an equally cool tone before heading back over to the bar to prepare some more drinks for the people in the room. Tarek then led the group over to the right corner of the room where Dalmar was seated.
“Sir, may I present to you Edward Delucas and Melinda Tylerson,” Tarek said once they all had reached Dalmar’s table.
Dalmar stood up from his chair and spoke “Well, well. Melinda Tylerson and Edward Delucas in the flesh. What a momentous and joyous occasion this is meeting the two of you” he said shaking both of their hands.
“Thank you sir” Tasha responded.
“Thank you,” Jason replied.
“Actually, it is I that should be thanking you both, because of you two my goals will finally be realized.”
“We’re just grateful that we have the opportunity to secure a mutually beneficial deal between ourselves and you” Jason answered.
“Wise sentiment” Dalmar responded. “Please have a seat” he continued, gesturing to two chairs around the table opposite his own.
“Thank you” Tasha replied as she, Jason, and Dalmar sat down in their seats.
“Adrian, Raphael, Mason, Wilhelm” Dalmar said to his two henchmen and bodyguards. “Could you all give us some privacy? You too, Tarek.”
“Certainly sir” Tarek replied as he, Raphael, Mason, Wilhelm, and Adrian left Tasha and Jason alone with Dalmar to talk.
“All right, now on to business,” Dalmar said.
“Of course. We have taken the liberty to create a list of the common supply of weapons that our customers usually purchase” Jason said as he placed his hand into his inside coat pocket, took out a yellow folder, and handed it to Dalmar who quickly opened it and rested his eyes on the first page of a ten-page document.
“As you can see the list includes such things as ammunition, surface-to-air missiles, automatic rifles, etc,” Tasha stated as Dalmar began speedily reading over the pages contained in the file.
“And of course the price” Jason added.
“Very good, I can clearly see you two have done your homework” Dalmar chuckled to himself.
“So Dalmar is this deal acceptable to you?” Tasha asked.
“It is a good deal. However, perhaps mine could be a larger shipment.”
“Certainly, how much larger? Twice the size?” Jason responded.
“I have to say sir we’ve never procured a deal this large” Jason spoke.
“Hey what can I say? I guess I’m one of a kind.”
“With a shipment like this, you certainly are. I’ve been in this business a long time. I know the real ones from the players and you’re definitely a real one” Tasha responded.
Dalmar laughed. “Well, thanks for the compliment. I’ll take it.”
“Though I must say I am surprised” Jason replied.
“Surprised?” Dalmar asked, intrigued by Jason’s words.
“Yes, certainly a man of your ambitions must need more than this?” Jason responded.
“My ambitions? I’m not sure I follow you” Dalmar replied coyly.
“Let’s just say recent events within Krudia have not escaped our attention.” Jason continued, “Economic ruin. Famine. Political instability. The perfect opportunity for a man of your standing and great aspirations to gain immense wealth and political power. And by the size of your order, we can now see that our suspicions are correct. We can help even more to make those dreams a reality—for a small price of course.”
“Suppose I am somewhat intrigued. What can you offer me that no one else can?” Dalmar responded, a sly smirk on his face.
“How about the latest and most deadly advances in weaponry. MAARS robots, MAHEM weapons systems, T ghost tanks, and H-bombs to name a few” Jason replied.
“And how do I know that what you’re offering me is true.”
“We didn’t get to be the top arms dealers around without a reason,” Tasha responded.
“Fair enough.” Dalmar leaned forward in his chair and placed his arms on the table, “Say I accept your offer. What do you want in return?”
Jason sat forward in his chair and looked Dalmar directly in the eyes. “That’s simple. We want to be part of your operation.”
Dalmar sat there stunned for a moment. He had expected them to ask for an exorbitant amount of money but instead, here they were asking to be part of his operation. Dalmar thought for a moment and finally said, “Well I think that can be arranged.”
“Sounds great” Jason replied.
“I look forward to us working together,” Tasha added.
“As do I Ms. Tylerson,” Dalmar replied as he shook each of their hands. “So how much time do you think it will take for the armaments to be delivered as speed is of the essence?”
“It should be here in less than a week,” Tasha answered.
“Excellent. In honor of our agreement I will host a gala at my home Saturday night and you two, besides myself, of course, will be the guests of honor.”
“Thank you,” Jason responded.
“Yes, that is very generous of you,” Tasha replied.
“Think nothing of it. I always reward those who are loyal to me.” His voice then suddenly changed to a dark sinister tone. “However, those who double-cross me will pay for their betrayal. It would be best for you both to remember that.”
“We’ll make sure to do that,” Jason replied.
“Yes, you can be certain, Dalmar, that our complete loyalty lies with you and your cause” Tasha answered.
“I’m glad to hear that. Well, you two must be tired from your long trip. I’ll have Tarek escort you to the hotel where you both are staying. I will also send one of my drivers to transport you to the gala Saturday night” Dalmar said as he stood.
“Thanks” Jason replied as he and Tasha also stood up from their chairs.
“Thank you Dalmar” Tasha responded.
“Of course. I am certain that we three will accomplish great things together.” Dalmar said with a confident look on his face; completely unaware of Tasha and Jason’s true intentions.