13 May 2009

The Great Hadleyburg Turkey Shoot, Part Two

2010 was the beginning of the four year-long period of Pacifican history known as “The Violent Years”, during which many Pacificans wondered if their country's social order would dissolve.

It started in March of that year, with an attempted secession by some of the inhabitants of a small town in the north-western part of the Department of Agricola, and an attempted coup in New Africa three months later. While both were quickly put down, there would be other out-breaks of violence of various sorts throughout Pacifica in the remainder of 2010.

Hadleyburg, in contrast, seemed to be an island of stability and calm in a sea of turbulence. But, that state was deceptive.

By 2010, Hadleyburg's population had doubled to around 600 inhabitants, both in the town proper and the half-dozen villages and hamlets in its immediate neighbourhood, and officially made its livelihood from the rail-road, motor transport and commercial warehousing industries.

Unofficially, Hadleyburg's real money came from the illicit production of drugs and alcohol. Although the Amalgamation of Communities of Pacifica's national government had legalised the use, production and distribution of narcotics, with the tax monies generated from their sale being devoted to drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programmes, in 2008, there was a loop-hole in the Narcotics Legalisation Act of 2008, that allowed some communities to opt-out of that legalisation. It was both legally and popularly known as “Local Option”, and Hadleyburg, like a number of its neighbours in the Middle Belt, took it.

There were two elements in the coalition that supported Hadleyburg's Local Option, the first of which were the religious and law-and-order elements in the town, most prominently represented by the pastor of the local Church of Joe, a vintage Painted Head GI Joe named Pastor George Hassenfeld, and Hadleyburg's Mayor, a vintage GI Joe Adventure Team Land Adventurer named Oran Speers. Both men, like much of their constituencies, were among Hadleyburg's original settlers,were passionately attached to the idealised vision they had of their home, and were also greatly afraid of the potential impact that the legalised sale and use of drugs and alcohol would have on the town.

The second element of the coalition was far more commercially-minded in its support of Local Option, and was composed of the two gangs that actually controlled much of Hadleyburg's business and politics, the Double-Ought Boys, so-called because of its use of shot-guns in dealing with rivals and opponents, and the Bulleteers.

Founded around 2005, both gangs started out with petty extortion against truck drivers and local merchants, and quickly worked their ways up to controlling the production, distribution and sale of illicit alcohol and drugs in Hadleyburg and its surrounding area. Along the way, they also entwined themselves with the local political establishment, with the Double-Ought Boys allying with Mayor Speers and two out of the four members of Hadleyburg's Town Council, and the Bulleteers supporting another Town Councillor(the fourth Councillor, a Marx Johnny West figure named Wallace Peppard, was considered too personally and politically weak by both gangs to be considered worth bothering with).

The Pacifican-Centralian War of 2007, with the sudden influx of soldiers and refugees that came into Hadleyburg as a result thereof, was taken full advantage of by Double-Ought Boys and Bulleteers alike, and both grew numerically and in the power of their grip on the area's politics and economy.

By October, 2010, there were 50 members of the Double-Ought Boys, and 43 members of the Bulleteers, and both had considerable influence over every institution in Hadleyburg and its out-lying area. Even the town's police chief, another vintage Painted Head Joe named John “Honest John” Patton, was in the pocket of the Double-Ought Boys, although he occasionally flirted with the idea of making a similar arrangement with the Bulleteers.

Both the Double-Ought Boys and the Bulleteers derived a good amount of their income from extortion and “protection” of the Trans-Pacifica Rail-Road's lines and facilities, the various transport and warehousing companies and their employees, and just about every business in the Greater Hadleyburg Area, as well as prostitution. But, the bulk of their money came from illegal drugs and alcohol, which were widely distributed and sold in not only Hadleyburg and its environs, but as far east as the out-lying parts of the Wabash area, and as far west as New Peshtigo.

Both were equally ruthless in buying out or shooting up any potential competitors who popped up, and in sealing up the market for their products, while arranging their respective shares of it between themselves.

But, that arrangement, which had held up for five years, began to break down as the Double-Ought Boys began expanding their trade into the Wabash area, which had previously been the Bulleteers' exclusive territory, and the Bulleteers, in turn, started operating in the areas west of Hadleyburg, which had been the Double-Ought Boys' territory.

Shortly after the break down of the arrangement, a number of small producers and distributors of both gangs' products started either disappearing or turning up quite dead in various places around Hadleyburg, and both gangs started preparing themselves for war.

That war broke out on the night of 10th October, 2010.

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