Von arrives in River City in late September and begins familiarizing himself with the landscape. He makes several visits to The Laughing Dragon.
After learning of Dr. January and her business interests, Von travels to Lower Price Hill around 1 AM and finds a house with an older man living alone. Blocking the back door with a full trash can, he throws a container of poisonous gas into the house while the man is sleeping. After waiting about 30 minutes, he breaks into the house and collects the body. He takes it to Dr. January’s clinic and is introduced to the clinic’s security and purchasing processes. After examining the body, the Doctor buys it for $150, but advises Von that he would be better served just shooting the bodies through the head if he wishes to sell them here. Over the next week he sells two more bodies to the Doctor.
Von continues to patronize Laughing Dragon and learns more about other players in the city. He is eating at the Dragon when a burst of light flashes outside.
Vlad Kazan is driving north on I-75 toward River City. He is still some distance away when he sees a flash of light and what appears to be a small mushroom cloud. Drivers begin to panic, but Vlad manages to avoid collision. Some drivers stop and turn off, or even cross the median and begin driving south.
Vlad gets closer to the city but the bridge has been blocked by police. Vlad takes the exit and drives through Covington into Newport and gets a hotel room at Holiday Inn Express near the Levee.
Von pays for his meal and leaves. He returns home just long enough to gather his essentials and heads south. He finds a hotel room about 30 minutes away on the southern edge of Newport, away from the projected fallout path.
The next day, Vlad heads to see a man one of his contacts in Texas told him about – Arlen Porter, owner of Dockside Bar & Grill. He is seated and when a waitress arrives, he asks to speak to Porter about business. The waitress goes away for a minute, and upon returning tells him to go through a door across the room.
vlad goes through the door. It is slammed shut and someone attemtps to drop a bag over his head. vlad blocks it, and hears the sound of multiple rifles cocking. Vlad stops moving and shows his gun under his jacket. He is ordered to strip – he has no other weapons, and his clothes are placed in a trash bag. His head is bagged and he is taken to a room and seated on a chair.
Vlad offers his abilities to Porter – he can act as a guard, or hurt people. He makes an offer of help in order to receive help of his own. He explains that his daughter had been kidnapped two years ago and brought to River City. His two sons attempted to find her – their bodies were found in the Combat Zone soon after. is wife subsequently committed suicide. Vlad has no family left except for his daughter.
Porter’s men soon confirm Vera Kazan’s disappearance, the death of the sons, and the wife’s suicide, as well as Vlad being abroad in the military during all this. Vlad is taken to another room and shown two blindfolded, bound and gagged men. He is asked if he recognizes them. Vlad says he does not. Taken to a third room, Vlad is shown a man and a woman, also blindfolded and bound. He is told their names are Tao and Qi. He does not recognize them either.
Vlad is taken upstairs and given his clothes. After dressing, he is introduced to Porter. Having been apprised of Vlad’s situation, Porter may have use of Vlad’s knowledge of US and Russian militaries.
Von heads to see Porter, having picked up his name during his discovery process. He is spotted – the solos workign there recognize their own – and taken to a back room. When questioned, he says he is looking for work – killing work. He is left guarded in the room while a runner informs Porter, who agrees to using Von on a “trial run.” Von is blindfolded taken offsite to a “kitchen” where he is instructed to create a chemical that will induce extreme pain without causing permanent damage. Von is successful.
Von is retuned to Dockside in a waiting room of sorts. Vlad is taken to Tao and Qi and given the hypos of the chemical. Vlad assents to injecting them. Tao recognizes Vlad’s Russian accent and starts yelling about Vlad being “in with them” and that the Russians betrayed Tao and Qi. The pair are injected and begin screaming.
The pain wears off about 5 minutes later. One of Porter’s men says that Tao is correct, the Russians betrayed them. Vlad plays along. Tao and Qi give no information since they believe they will be killed mo matter what. The man kicks Tao and tells him to “think about it” for a while. Tao and Qi are left alone in the room.
Von is asked to make four more doses – for the two Russians as well as Tao and Qi. He agrees.
Porter’s men and Vlad return to Tao adn Qi’s room. They are asked again for information, but say nothing. One of the men says “Start with the intestinges” and Tao suddenly shouts that he has information about something else, something more valuable, in exchange for their freedom. He starts shouting out names, including Kaden Garcia and Shelby Phillips.
The man asks what Tao is talking about, and Tao says he has “a program.”
Tao claims that the program can incapacitate people, and has been used to do just that several times already. He claims that the program was used just the night before to attack a member of a local band called Fatal Mission.
Vlad and one of the men go upstairs to check out Tao’s claims. They find that Fatal Mission is currently playing the first concert of their new tour in Nebraska. All members of the band are present and appear unharmed.