The Conspiracy (Main)
Summary: A relatively peaceful day in Muon erupts into chaos, as a band of pirates stage a burglary. However, this is no simple robbery, and not all goes according to plan…
Setting: Muon - Town Square
A short, thin ferret wearing a pair of gold-rimmed leather goggles and a purple robe with black and yellow trim. Where his left leg once was is a brass construct, it’s gears clicking and spinning as he moves. He seems composed, wise, but energetic and ready. His coat is a light tan, save for a mask around his eyes and his hands, both of which are a cinnamon color. Around his neck and wrists are a handful of charms and carved bits of wood and metal; He’s clearly a superstitious person. A book and a leather satchel are strapped to his waist. By his side, a smallsword. While he can no doubt use the weapon, he seems to prefer magic over melee combat.
A young man, an otter* pasu, a city-dweller. From head to heels, he is few inches short of six feet in height, long-limbed, sinuously slender, and muscled in a way that suggests running or swimming rather than any heavy lifting. Likewise, unwebbed and clean-nailed fingers suggest some use of a pen rather than any farm implements.
His short velvet fur is generally cinnamon-colored and (at least in the mornings) properly brushed from head to muscular tail. A spray of white vibrissae appears to have been trimmed back a bit. The overall warm brown fur is interrupted by a line of light gray fur that starts under the brown nose, circles the lower half of a short rounded muzzle under dark-colored eyes, continues back under small rounded ears, progresses down the front and sides of the neck and finally fades out on the chest.
There might be some hints of Meson mixed with the Acre accent, or perhaps that’s only an imagined effect of his deviation from the heavy starched fashions of the metropolis. He tends to sport earth-toned salwar kameez— lightweight trousers that hang in loose pleats between the more snug ankles and waist, and over this a long-sleeved tunic that hangs to knee-level but has open sides from the waist down. His shoes are older but decently-maintained leather.
A male White Tiger of above average height, around 6’8”. He is not particularly muscular, possessing a middling build, though his size alone confers that he is by no means weak. Both his dress and mannerisms suggest a utilitarian attitude, though his pale blue eyes are alert and inquisitive. He wears a black cloth overcoat, hanging from his shoulders to halfway down his digitigrade legs, above his unadorned footpaws. The coat itself is devoid of the common urban filigree, no doubt produced somewhere near the wastes; though slightly beaten, it is still in good repair. The grey shirt below is smudged with grease in places, which seems odd considering the pristine white of his striped fur. His tan pants have a number of external pockets, filled with an array of screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, and other tools, along with a few less discernible devices. A small metal disk gleams on his right wrist, held in place by a black leather belt. Upon closer inspection, it appears to be a silver pocket watch – complete with hinged cover but lacking a chain - which has been adapted to fit on the notched strap.
His stripe pattern is more or less average; unique of course, and perhaps a bit darker than normal for a White Tiger, but otherwise ordinary. His nose and the pads of his hands and feet are all black, an uncommon trait, but nothing monumental. A lithe, flexible tail swishes back and forth from between the flaps of his long coat, idly flicking at the end. His retractable, feline claws are kept extremely sharp, though weather this is from constant use or done simply as a precaution is impossible to tell. His fur is thick and fairly long, suggesting a familiarity with colder climates. The blue of his eyes is so pale that in some lights they seem to shift to grey, though they are always scanning and observing, genuinely interested in the world nearby.
A large caliber rifle is slung over his shoulder, at first glance a kind of repeating rifle, but with obvious modifications. It has a much thicker profile than a standard rifle, with a tubular magazine running parallel to, but slightly offset from the barrel. The stock and grip appear to be a rather high quality of wood, but don’t precisely match, signifying that they are likely scavenged from different guns. Along the gun’s receiver rest a number of interconnected brass tanks, pipes, and gears, which connect the rifle’s lever action to a small flywheel, reminiscent of those used in locomotives. A connecting rod links the flywheel and a strange sliding mechanism, which is presumably responsible for chambering the next round.
The day is pretty normal. Sun high in the sky, airships docking and taking off. There are a few stagecoaches rolling along the cobblestones in front of the buildings here.
Bansi retains his country sort of attire despite this January day some distance from the Castrum, adding only a cloak to said attire. He’s also bearing a briefcase in one hand, the other hand being occupied by sorting gestures out in front, as he strolls down the side of the street.
Raziel wanders through the streets of Muon, taking in the sights. He seems unfamilair with the streets and the mid-day bustle of the city; likely a newcomer. He has no real destination, and for the moment is occupying himself by inspecting the mismatched architecture of the buildings.
A large airship overhead looks more ominous than a lot of the other docked ones. It starts to get into position, lowering platforms and beginning to let off its passengers. One of the things being lowered appears to be one the horseless carriages, like Naraka is known to use.
Raziel looks up from his inspection of the buildings to the massive airship, admiring the complexity of the design. Aeronautics are not his specialty, but he can appereciate engineering nonetheless. Looking up at the sky, however, he inadvertantly steps into the path of another man, strolling down the side of the street…
Bansi continues along toward an inn in the neighborhood of the airport, still gesturally ‘talking’ to himself but not paying a great deal of attention to the other pedestrians or the traffic above and below. Suddenly discovering Raziel unexpectedly in his path, Bansi stops just short of him with a scuff of his shoes and looks up. “Oh! Pardon me.” His eyes continue up to follow Raziel’s gaze.
There seems to be some restlessness among the dock workers, as if they want to quickly deal with the airship and see it off again. But it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon, unloading personnel. An armored stagecoach can be seen in the distance.
Raziel looks around briefly, realizing how far he has drifted from his initial position. The shorter otter stopped next to him seems familiar…but he decides not to comment on it, for fear his terrible memory for faces will betray him again. Instead, he steps to the side and apologizes. “My fault entirely; I was just inspecting that magnificent airship. Quite an impressive example, isn’t it?”
Bansi likewise sidesteps out of pedestrian traffic and nods. “Ah, I don’t always pay much mind to the airships- the novelty of seeing something constructed in the sky has somewhat worn off,” Bansi admits, glancing between Raziel and the ship. “That said, they are all quite impressive when I stop to think about them. How long has it been since people were constructing machines the size of city blocks?”
There’s a bit of shouting near the airship docks, and the motorcar starts up, a bit loud as it begins rolling down the street. The armored carriage starts to come closer, a fellow with a blunderbuss watching the road ahead.
Raziel chuckles. “Quite a while, I presume. I’m no stranger to large machines, though, being from Serendipity. But I’ve never seen something that large fly before… Hm. I wonder what all the commotion is about?”
“Oh, are you? Though I’m fond of my own city, that seems an interesting place to live,” Bansi remarks. The engine coming down the street makes him look up. “Apparently someone is checking the horses to ensure that none of them is in the least skittish, or capable of hearing,” Bansi replies with a note of amusement, stepping to the side to look around Raziel.
The armored car coming down one street, and the stage coach down the other direction— the two seem destined for collision, with Raziel and Bansi in the middle. Perhaps they should scoot from their current position.
Raziel starts moving closer to the buildings on this side of the street, gesturing for the otter to follow. Under his breath, he mutters, “Can’t I have just one normal day…”
Bansi looks down from the airship as Raziel begins moving farther to the side of the street. Bansi blinks at the approaching motorcar, swings the briefcase to the side, and takes a few brisk steps after Raziel. “If they were any /more/ interested in speed, I suppose there would be Naraka employees sliding down a diagonal rope from the airship.”
Raziel says, “Well, given the slight incline of the street, the coefficient of friction between the street and vehicles, and the vehicles and their brakes, there’s no way thay won’t collide. So, ah…take cover.”
The horseless carriage doesn’t show any sign of deceleration. In fact, it seems to be speeding up. The driver leans forward, bracing for impact- or to turn at the last second. The collision is imminent and by all appearances, wholly intentional. Given how rare these vehicles are on the road, the ‘point of no return’ on a head-on collision isn’t exactly obvious.
The passenger side rider of the stage coach scrambles to his feet, and cocks the hammer on his blunderbuss, trying to hurriedly line up a shot at the pirates, recognizing them for what they are, but not having any expectation that he’d have to do this today.
Bansi raises a brow at Raziel’s estimation but continues watching for a moment longer. “What the…” Seeing them still on the collision course, Bansi makes a leap for the nearest porch.
Raziel watches as they accelerate toward each other, the guard drawing his gun, and immediately knows something is very, very wrong here. He bounds over the railing of the same porch as the otter, and unshoulders his rifle, preparing for the worst.
One of the windows pivots open, and a dingy looking rat with black fur and a wiry frame leans out, muttering under his breath and pointing directly at the blunderbuss in the stagecoach. The moisture in the air focuses around the firing mechanism and jets into the pan, soaking most of the powder and dispersing the rest. The rat lets out a whoop before slapping the top of the vehicle and ducking back in.
The man pulls the trigger and finds it doesn’t light. He pulls the hammer back again and tries to fire once more— nothing! He realizes they’re getting close, and he sits down, grabbing onto whatever he can to stabilize as the horses buck up, whinnying in fright as the carriage with no horses does not deviate!
With a scowl, Bansi flattens against the front door and hugs the briefcase across his chest, no longer paying much attention to the details in the street. “Where are the /police/ when you need them?” He complains shakily, “Or King’s guard, or Naraka security, or angry neighbors with guns?”
Raziel says, “Don’t worry, this isn’t the first firefight I’ve been through. Stick with me.” Raziel takes a few shots at the pirates’ vehicle before ducking back into cover.
The vehicle swerves at the last second, revving loudly as they pass the already spooked horses, and once they’re lined up with the broad side two more men, cloth over their faces and short-barreled muskets in their hands, pop out- one leaning out of the driver side, one out of the passenger side. The two men fire at the same time, aiming for the windows of the stagecoach and the driver.
Ding, ding, the balls hit the armored side of the vehicle and thunk to the ground. The horses are further spooked and start bolting, the wheels of the coach bouncing back and forth and starting to cause instability in its motion.
“Firefight?” Bansi exclaims. “The crazy drivers have g-“ Bansi claps his hands over his ears a bit too late to protect his hearing. “…guns?” Bansi demands, “Do you even know what you’re shooting at? /Who/ you’re shooting at?” He continues to wedge himself into the doorframe as tightly as possible while clutching the briefcase over his heart.
The repeating rifle is a marvel to behold. The accuracy of it? Not so much. The bullets amount to a whole lot of noise and fury and not a lot of damage.
Raziel says, “In my experience, whoever shoots first is usually the bad guy!” He takes a small wrench from one of his pockets and makes some small adjustments to the alignment of the barrel, hoping it will improve his chances next time. Looking over at the otter in the doorframe, he shouts, “It may be a better idea to get down!”
The stagecoach spins out of control and tumbles over, making quite a mess and making the horses struggle against each other in a display of powerful limbs. The pirates leap upon the driver, and start dragging him out of the rubble, rifling through his pockets.
Raziel tells Bansi to stay put, then carefully tries to sneak around the stagecoach, coming up behind the distracted pirates.
For now, the pirates are too distracted to notice you. If you get any closer, they have a good chance of doing so. You could go forward and get a guaranteed clear shot, but risk being seen, or you could go for a more difficult shot from where you are. Or perhaps something else. In the mean time, it looks like one of the pirates has fetched the key from the driver’s pocket and shoved him into the street, scraping him up something fierce.
Raziel looks to see if the pirates are still armed, knowing that they fired their muskets while they were driving. Hell yeah they are. You mean are they ready to fire? Two of them did not yet fire, as they weren’t properly facing the vehicle at the time. Those two can still shoot. Two others need to reload. The last one is a mage.
Raziel takes aim at one of the pirates who still has a loaded gun, using the armored coach as cover. ~BANG-click-BANG-click-BANG-click~
You are spotted. The pirates fire upon you. The two who do not have their muskets loaded begin to refill them. Your shots miss, and they start working out a firing order in an attempt to pin you down between their shots.
Raziel continues firing, trying to target whoever is primed to fire, or closest to being done reloading.
Bansi jumps out of the doorway as Raziel takes off, stumbling down the stairs with his head ducked. He circles around to put the stairs between himself and the shooting before dropping onto the briefcase. After more shots from down the street and no help forthcoming, he peeks over the top of the stairs.
Raziel hits one of the gunmen in the arm, who falls to the ground, injured. Taking the opportunity to stay behind cover and reload a few rounds, he notices Bansi’s change of position, and shouts to him. “Otter! I’m sure no one’s noticed the gunfire, but would you kindly go get the guards!? “
The mage pirate takes advantage of the distraction and opens up the armored stage coach with the key, using the side entrance, which is less exposed to fire. He quickly pulls out several boxes, and they fall onto the ground, some of them breaking open. Gold. Jewelry. Documents… and some metal device, skittering across the ground.
“Busy not being shot at here!” Bansi calls back to Raziel, watching the scene in the street but still crouched behind the stairs. He surveys the overturned armored stagecoach and Naraka-style automobile, frowning at the musketeer Raziel managed to hit. “The guards aren’t deaf!” Bansi does, however, start moving his fist over his head as if swinging something light about it. Everything that’s happened so far only has taken a couple of minutes. The police are still mobilizing and they’re distant down the road.
Amrit has just run towards the party to help and ducked next to Bansi. Amrit looks around nervously. “I’m afraid I am useless at this distance without water to manipulate.”
One of the shooters squints, and scrunches his eyes shut, unable to see and fire at Raziel for the moment. Only two of the pirates are shooting now.
Raziel takes the oppotunity to shoot at one of the other pirates, before ducking back into cover and noticing the new arrival. “When did you get here? Nevermind-not important. What can you do to help?”
Bansi ducks back down in alarm when he sees someone running up to the stairs where he’s hiding, in the opposite direction from what most of the people on the street took. He blinks at Amrit and drops onto his briefcase. “Did you say something about water?” Bansi demands, looking rather nervous himself. “And yes, in case you were wondering, that /is/ a shootout in the middle of town.”
The tiger manages to hit one of the pirates, the fellow falling to the ground and no longer able to lift his musket. One musketeer remains, and the mage pops out of the stage coach, and then runs toward the metal thing that skittered aside earlier.
There is a water trough in a stable not too far from here.
Amrit brings a glob of water closer. “If that one shooting at you looks up again, I could try and blind him for a mo.”
“Cover me!” Raziel takes a shot at the legs of the running mage, determined to keep him from whatever item he’s chasing.
Amrit flings a wall of frost at the gunner, spraying crystals across his face and eyes.
The mage manages to grab the item, and picks it up. It looks kind of like one of the prototype revolvers, but the cylinder isn’t visible, and it looks much more refined. The musketeer doesn’t seem too affected by the ice, he manages to avoid getting hit too hard by it, and takes a shot at Amrit.
Bansi looks a bit surprised by Amrit’s manipulation of the liquid water. “Oh… like that.” As Raziel calls out, partly rises in a hurry to look over the top of the stairs at him. After that, Bansi is rather too distracted by the ice shot and the return fire. He curses and falls over backwards.
A well placed musketball SMACKs Amrit right in the shoulder, throwing off his cast and causing him to freeze water around him, get himself locked in it and he loses a couple whiskers in the process as they snap off.
Amrit gasps in alarm and falls to his knees. He really thought this would go better.
Knowing that the pirate has just fired his weapon, and hit one of the men near the porch, Raziel charges at him before he has a chance to relaod, firing a volley of shots at him as he does so.
The fellow goes down! And then several repeating rounds are fired— and not from Raziel’s gun.
One of the rounds hits Raziel smack-dab in the leg, and causes him to land face-first on the ground, his rifle skittering across the ground several yards away.
Bansi is evidently unaccustomed to seeing someone take a sledgehammer to the shoulder, much less from close range. He yelps (though likely not like Amrit) and rolls away. After a second to collect his wits, Bansi attempts to tug Amrit back behind the stairs. “No, no, no…”
Amrit grits his teeth as Bansi drags him, his shoulder complaining quite insistently. “Dammit, where are those police?!” They’re able to see you guys now. But they’re still running. It’s only been four minutes. And they don’t have cars.
Amrit stutters through the pain, “Are you still armed?”
After being hit, Raziel’s rage only increases. He already has a hunch what happened, and there’s no way that mage is walking away from this. Gathering his wits and trying to ignore the pain, he does his best to roll across the street and pick up his gun.
“I have no idea,” Bansi replies quickly to Amrit, offering the briefcase as a pillow. “And I wasn’t armed in the first place. I could frighten off a robber, but these men are clearly /not/ simple thieves.” He glances back toward the stairs, but doesn’t appear as inclined to poke his head up now. He returns eyes to the wound and winces.
The mage is able to get over to Raziel pretty quickly. He hops over toward his gun, leaping over and kicking it further away. He points his new device at Raziel, and tilts his head, “Now, now. Let’s not get too hasty, mm?” He should fire at Raziel, but for some reason, he does not.
Raziel growls at him, and starts getting to his feet…slowly.
“Don’t make me shoot you. Do you have any idea how much each shot fired is worth? More than your life. There’s only a few of these in the world that anyone’s ever managed to find.” He growls at the tiger.
Raziel concedes. For now.
Amrit asks, “Other than possibly throwing me out as a distraction… any ideas? Actually…what say you to throwing me out as a distraction?”
Bansi frowns at Amrit’s words, tugs at the fur on the back of his head, then clasps his hands over the nape of his neck. “Look, I am not a doctor,” Bansi says, offering the briefcase again, and gesturing Amrit toward the ground. “This is bad, very bad… But the fact that you are still talking suggests that your arteries are still intact.” He glances behind Amrit and at the bloodied ice for any evidence to the contrary. “Lie still and keep it that way, please?”
Amrit says, “Dear, I don’t think I’m moving anytime soon.”
The mage turns and runs back toward the docking platform. Someone is standing there. There seems to be fire floating around this individual, as if he were some sort of demon.
Leviathan has arrived.
Raziel dives for his gun as soon as the mage turns around, and upon reaching it, takes as many shots as he can.
It’s several yards away. He’d have to take at least 10–15 seconds to hobble over to it, and by that point, with his bum leg, it’s just not happening. His shots scatter far too widely, and he probably owes someone for a broken window.
The mage eventually reaches the creature standing on the platform, and kneels before him. “Master, I have brought you what you have requested.”
Leviathan looks at the mage, his mask lining up to gaze at him, “I told you to wait until the weapon was in Acre.”
The mage looks up at him in confusion, “Yes, but.. it was easier to get it now. It was here, we knew exactly where, and….”
Bansi winces at the further shots, still nerviously scratching the back of his head while watching Amrit. “It’s not over yet… is that good or bad?” He doesn’t look out from the cover to check.
Leviathan pulls out his blades, the two of them gleaming in the sun and the fire. “There is a reason we do not attack Muon. You have made the weapon useless to us now.”
Amrit says, “For us? If we stay, good. The tiger may be screwed.”
The pirate looks up in confusion, “I’m sorry, sir. It won’t happen again—”
SHINK! The mage falls to the floor as Leviathan puts his blades back into their sheaths. “No, it won’t.” The platform starts raising up, leaving the weapon, and the other still living pirates (who are in great pain) to fend for themselves.
Raziel hobbles further up the street. He is uttlerly confused by what he just witnessed, but that’s not going to stop him from trying to get some answers.
Amrit says, “Bansi, I think it may be safe to peek out now.”
Leviathan is being taken up by the platform, and in not long, he is hidden from sight. The zeppelin takes off, heading away. The mage lays dead on the docks.
The police arrive.
Leviathan has left.
Bansi frowns at Amrit’s observation. “We were in trouble the moment we saw guns and didn’t run the other way,” Bansi says. “And the tiger, when he ran towards multiple shooters… At least I think it was multiple shooters, or one with an impressive gun collection…” Bansi looks at Amrit’s shoulder, then rubs his eyes. Afterwards, his attention is drawn upward by the shifting of the airship’s shadow and he notices the arrival of the authorities. Bansi waves an arm to attempt to flag one down.
One of them ambles toward Bansi, “What in Dozakh’s Testicles happened here?” He looks bewildered.
Raziel continues up to the docks, looking at the impaled mage, and the unusual gun he tried to steal. He picks it up to inspect it.
Amrit says, “I do hate to be a bother, but I am bleeding out here.”
The weapon is significantly tarnished, but is of the most beautiful and solid construction— beyond anything the tiger has seen before. And, of course, it still works. The trigger has a guard around it, and it has a button on the side.
On the street is an overturned armored coach with scattered contents, a Naraka-style automobile, several collapsed individuals (one on the airship dock without a musket), and one injured tiger. Hiding behind some stairs a distance away are an otter and a ferret with left shoulder smashed by a musket shot.
Bansi takes the approach of the police officer as a clue that it might be safe to peek out at the scene of the attack. “I have no idea at all…” Bansi says shakily, then looks to Amrit and winces.
The police officer waves someone down the street over. A doctor comes over to tend to the ferret, checking him over. He says, “Get him in the coach. We’ll need to take him to the hospital. He’ll live.”
Amrit asks, “There’s a white tiger out there; is he alright?”
Raziel begins limping back toward the overturned vehicle, resting his rifle over his shoulders with one hand, and holding the intricate handgun in the other.
The doc looks up, and over at the tiger. The police officer also heads over with him as Amrit is picked up and carried over to the medical coach. “Excuse me, sir.”
Raziel asks, “Yes?”
Bansi glances over towards Raziel as Amrit mentions him, but doesn’t catch sight of the fellow before turning his attention back to Amrit. For the moment, he’s just assisting in getting Amrit into the vehicle.
The police office points to your leg, “You’re wounded. And I’ll need your statement, I…” He looks over at the gun, “That’s private property, sir. I’ll need you to return it.”
Raziel wearily says “Take it then,” handing the gun to the officer. He then crouches down and removes his coat, before inspecting the wound in his leg. The shot went right through. Good. That makes this part much easier. He tears a strip of cloth from the sleeve of his grey shirt, and ties it around the wound, before redonning his coat. And addressing the officer again. “I do not require medical assistance. Give it to someone who needs it.” He gestures to the pirates laying in the street.
The doctor says, “At least get it disinfected. Stop by the hospital before you get home. The coach is going there. It will be easier.” The doc heads over toward the pirates, and the officer accompanies them, seeing the turned over cart, and looking around in confusion. He scractches his head, and looks back over to Raziel, “You’ll have to come with me to the station. We’ll need to get everyone’s statements.”
Raziel goes to check on the otter, finding him next to the disbled ferret. “Well…after dragging you through that madness…I suppose I should at least introduce myself. My name is Raziel.” He extends a hand to the otter.
Bansi leaves the medical coach to walk down the street towards Raziel, avoiding the wreck and collapsed men. “Ugh,” the otter says in reply with a humorless smile. “I was just about to insist,” he says, taking Raziel’s hand weakly. he glances down at Raziel’s leg, then back up to his face. “Bansi Nata. I will not be sleeping tonight, so I should like to hear just what happened to cause that.”
Raziel smiles. “If you insist. I doubt it will very much sense when I tell it, though…” He trails off. “That ferret took the hit, I presume? Will he be OK?”
Bansi nods to Raziel. “He did, and not only kept talking, but insisted on chasing down the street to save you from the gunfire. Which is more than I can say for myself,” Bansi replies with a slight chuckle. “And yes, the doctor says he will make it.” Bansi then shrugs, “I imagine the police will want me to come tell them I don’t know anything, so we’ll likely have time for this chat later.”
Raziel pats him on the shoulder. “You did everything you could. Not everyone can be an engineer/mercenary,” he says, smirking. “You’re probably better off. Being shot? Not pleasant. Now, I need to go clean this wound out and make some more ammo. I’ll see you later, Bansi.”
Next - TheConspiracyPart2