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Feb 27, 2024

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The Conspiracy, part 2

Summary: Raziel and Bansi reconvene at a Muon bar, and discuss the events of the previous scene.

(Note: The original scene included an additional conversation by several other characters. However, as it did not relate to the same plotline and the conversations never intersected, it has been omitted here.)


Bansi steps out into the sunny winter afternoon, and before crossing the street, takes a bit longer than usual to look for large carts, fast carriages… and the possibility of murderous foreign mercenaries. He proceeds down the side of the street with briefcase in hand, strolling off in the direction of a pub on the better side of town.

Raziel walks out of a general store, a farily full pack on his back in addition to his normal gear. He’s limping quite a bit less than earlier, mostly due to the more carefully applied bandage on his leg. Looking down the street, he happens to catch a glimpse of a familiar looking otter…and begins to flag him down. “Mr. Nata!”

Bansi startles slightly at the shout, then pauses and glances past the pedestrians to see Raziel. He raises a hand to return the greeting, then turns to stroll over to Raziel, nodding politely on nearing him. “Mr. Raziel. I hope you’re well?” Bansi glances down briefly to Raziel’s leg before returning eyes to his.

Raziel says, “I’m fine. Just picking up some supplies. I can’t exactly go out and buy more rounds for my rifle, and I used quite a few earlier, so I need to make some replacements. I’m in no hurry, though.” He looks around quickly, and lowers his voice ever so slightly. “Also, I believe I still owe you an explanation. If you’re interested.”

“Ah. Yes, I would be. I was just one my way to find someplace to relax a bit.” Bansi motions down the street in the direction he was originally headed. “In addition to the recent altercation, perhaps you can explain the rifle to me as well. I gather it’s not one’s typical firearm?”

Raziel’s eyes light up when the otter mentions his rifle. “You are certainly correct. But I’m sure you have no desire to discuss it out here. We can continue this conversation wherever you’d like. Lead the way.”

“Oh?” Bansi asks, starting off again for the pub. “Are you trying to keep something secret from Naraka?” He motions with the free hand toward that side of town. “I wouldn’t try to keep anything from them but confiedential client information.”

“No, nothing like that. I’m from Serendipity, and spent a few years at the Academy. Chances are they’ve already aquired my designs, one way or another. But the rifle I have with me is one of a kind; I built it myself. I’m an engineer by trade, you know.” Raziel follows the otter as he begins walking, looking quizzically at the breifcase Bansi is holding. “Which makes me wonder, Mr. Nata, what you do for a living.”

“Interesting. I would prefer to see more engineering of the bridge sort, but suppose a rising tide lifts all boats,” Bansi remarks thoughtfully. With his question, Bansi glances down at the briefcase and replies with a smile, “Oh, I’m in the business of putting numbers on things, and of boiling down said numbers to more useful and valuable concentrates.”

Raziel is slightly perplexed by the answer, but not discouraged. He continues to talk to the shorter otter as they approach their destination. “So, a mathematician, then? Or do the numbers in question have trade or bookkeeping applications?”

“Yes,” Bansi agrees with a chuckle. “Perhaps you could call it ‘applied mathematics’? Although theory is what my fills my mind, practicality is what fills my belly,” Bansi explains. “At the moment, I am in town for some investigative bookkeeping, but have been employed at other times trying to improve the lives of a scientist’s calculators.” Bansi glances over quickly at the yelp down the street, but seems to relax after noting the lack of guns involved.

Raziel notices Bansi jump at the noise, and puts a hand on is shoulder. “Relax. My offer to help you out of trouble hasn’t expired. Besides, I find it very unlikely /another/ nearly catastrophic event will happen in the same day.” Raziel chuckles. “Although, I can’t be sure of that. I only came into town this morning. It may always be that interesting here.”

“Mm.” Bansi shrugs the other shoulder. “I agree that an armored carriage robbery by armed gunmen isn’t likely to happen, but the chance is hardly lessened by it having taken place recently.” Bansi continues in the general direction of a decent pub this winter day.

Raziel follows Bansi’s lead, doing his best not to limp too noticeably. “I see your point, though I don’t share your concern. I’ve found that’s better to prepare for anything than be afraid of everything.” He grunts as he readjusts his gun and backpack. “That may be the reason why I’m the one that got shot in the leg by a Svargan relic, however.”

“By a Svargan relic?” Bansi replies with a raised brow, glancing a bit skeptically at Raziel’s leg again. “Wouldn’t such a thing be more likely to remove your leg altogether, or make all your fur fall out?”

Raziel shakes his head. “They’re not all as powerful as that. We don’t even know what most do. There are entire wings of Serendipity dedicated to the study of the things. And that level of craftsmanship is unmistakable. I’m sure.” Raziel continues walking, though moves slightly closer to Bansi and lowers his voice. “That’s what the bandits were after. They skipped right past all the gold and jewels, and went straight for the gun. They /knew/ it was there.”

Bansi nods thoughtfully at Raziel’s explanation, then proceeds into the pub. He holds the door for Raziel, frowning at his latter observation. “With sufficient gold and jewels, couldn’t one simply commission an equally well-crafted weapon?”

Raziel steps through the door, and after a cursory inspection, gestures toward a table in one of the less occupied corners of the pub, before moving to it and setting down his pack and gun. He waits for Bansi to sit before speaking. “No matter how much money you earn or steal, there is currently no way to create weapons on par with the Svargans. Our tools simply aren’t advanced enough. And the weapons themselves are so rare that anyone who finds on isn’t likely to sell it for any sum.”

Bansi follows and takes at seat the same table as Raziel. “Ah. I would have thought a bit of metal and simple mechanism could be replicated with enough time and care, but perhaps I underestimate the complexity of a firearm.” Bansi sets down the briefcase. “I question your estimation of their pricelessness, however. Sentimental value aside, I’d be rather likely to find an auctioneer if I ever came into the possession of a rare artifact. Or perhaps a museum, if it seemed dangerous to share.”

Raziel chuckles. “Perhaps I haven’t made it clear how difficult it is to find Svargan technology in working condition. Not to mention the dangers of traversing the wasteland, looking for operational devices. I’ve heard it likened to searching for a single, unrusted bolt among a hundred coroded ones. In a haystack. That happens to be on fire.”

Bansi chuckles too at Raziel’s image. “I’m afraid you’re not at all convincing me to forego selling my hypothetical Svargan device. On further reflection, though, it seems prudent to take a lump sum from the auctioneer and stay far away from the sale.” Bansi glances over briefly toward the bar at an exclamation.

Raziel’s usually irreverent tone slips a bit, and becomes more somber, his eyes settling on the table. “Yes, well…I haven’t even gotten to the strange part yet. These bandits were clearly not your run of the mill thugs. They were too organized; they knew exactly when and where to strike. And they had no intention of selling the device.” He looks up at the otter, steel-blue eyes intense in the dim light of the inn. “Bansi, did you see an airship pass overhead? Not the one before the crash, but after the gunfire stopped.”

Bansi raises a brow at Raziel’s change of tone. “I’m afraid I was a bit distracted at the time,” Bansi replies with a frown. “I noticed that an airship was docked, but didn’t notice that there were two. What gave you the impression that these weren’t just robbers who happened to be more well-informed and violent than your average cutpurse?”

Raziel sighs. “The unarmed man - the mage - shot me after I charged the rifleman that hit the ferret. He had me unarmed, at gunpoint…then suddenly ran toward the airship docks, to meet a man I didn’t even see arrive. They spoke for a moment, and the mage offered him the weapon - but the other man just stabbed him, and left it there. But the truly disturbing thing was that the man on the docks - the one that ascended into the airship - was cloaked in black, wrethed in fire. The spitting image…of Leviathan.”

Bansi studies Raziel for a moment with a blank expression, as if so see whether he’s joking, then returns to frowning thoughtfully. “I can’t make any sense of that,” Bansi eventually remarks uncertainly. “I suppose arguments among robbers are not so unlikely, but all the rest? If such a powerful magic user worked up a Leviathan disguise, why didn’t he use that to stop traffic rather than a crash? Who was he trying to impress?” Bansi observes. He then adds curiously, “What magic did you see the unarmed man doing?”

Raziel replies, “Wind or water…I can’t be sure. All I know is that he rendered the powder in the caravan guard’s blunderbuss useless. He may not have been very powerful, and I didn’t see him do anthing with magic for the rest of the fight. But I’m hardly an expert on magic. Why do you ask?”

“Mm. I’m not sure,” Bansi replies. “You don’t suppose the unarmed one accidentally dropped his weapon in the collision and had the good fortune to be on the right end of a misfire? But someone wearing fire is obviously a strong magic-user or has one nearby. Perhaps the magic user was late to the heist and they argued about the cut?” Bansi shrugs. “But you say nothing was taken.”

Raziel shakes his head. “I doubt it. The bandit was /kneeling/ before the man in black, subservient and obviously terrified of him. What I don’t understand is if they were retreiving the gun for him…why didn’t he take it?”

“Likely, then, a leader as he appeared to be,” Bansi agrees, “or at least someone quite powerful with a nasty temper. Perhaps the particular weapon they were looking for had a buyer, while the one they found was merely something too rare to sell on the black market?”

Raziel shakes his head again. “I don’t know. I simply don’t know.” He runs his hands over his head and flicks his ears, a rather alarming signal from someone who didn’t bat an eye at a firefight. “I don’t know what to tell the police either. If I tell them the truth, they’ll think I’m insane…”

Bansi shrugs and replies, “I don’t see why they wouldn’t believe you.” Bansi glances over briefly at the entrance of the most recent tribal-garbed patron. “The fire illusion or manipulation does sound complex, but it’s not inconcievable that some rather skilled fellow turned robber.” Bansi adds, raising a brow, “…unless you actually think that /was/ the pirate king?”

Raziel looks straight at the otter. “I’m a scientist. The very concept of an immortal pirate lord defies logic. And yet, what I saw…” He trails off, but seems to regain some of his composure. “Even if it is some brigand with a remarkable amount of showmanship, it still has terrifying implications. He obviously commands some criminal element, and if they can track shipments with such precision, who knows how far their influence extends? Either way, you’re right, I have nothing to fear from the police. I just need to be…less specific.”

“Obviously the Leviathan isn’t over three centuries old- the costume, perhaps, with different men filling it and the office. Remarkable showmanship can take one quite far,” Bansi points out a bit dismissively, then continues in a more serious tone, “As for tracking shipments, that implies a man on the inside or corruption among people chosen for trustworthiness. Certainly worrisome if you are in the armored transport business, but not something the police can’t handle. I’ve turned up evidence of corruption myself more than a few times.”

Raziel isn’t so sure. “Honestly, I don’t trust the police enough. The heist would have gone off without a hitch if it had been left to the local police. Besides, if there truly is a larger conspiracy, the officers of a single precinct aren’t going to collaborate with those of other cities. Too much distance, too much paperwork.” He sits and ponders with his muzzle on his fist for a moment, then directs his attention tothe otter again. “Unless…Bansi, you said you were in town for ‘investigative bookkeeping,’ correct? Do you have access to the shipping manifests? Could you find out where the relic was headed?”

Bansi nods at Raziel explains, remains thoughtfully silent as well, then frowns at his question. “Ugh, no. I’m certainly not going to worm my way into the armored transport company’s records now,” Bansi replies. “First, their heightened level of security is likely making things very unpleasant for every recent hire. And secondly, your suggestion of police conspiracy has me wondering if I would take a job from the company if they asked. Things very quickly become unpleasant for an investigator when the ones who hired the investigation begin to look guilty themselves.”

Raziel nods, but seems disappointed nonetheless. “I understand your reluctance. But this could be monumental in importance. I left Serendipity because I couldn’t stand to sit behind a desk anymore, and wait for other people to fix problems. I want to solve this, figure out what’s going on here. But I can’t do it alone. I don’t possess the kind of access you do, let alone the social skills. I need your help. Please, Bansi.”

Bansi frowns and scratches the back of his head. “I think ‘monumental’ is somewhat exaggerating for a simple, albeit strange, robbery. And besides, the only sort of ‘monumental’ that would attract me is carved with ‘His Majesty, King Rajan Victor…’” Bansi continues, “No, I quite like sitting behind a desk, fixing other people’s problems, problems of the sort that won’t see me killed or blacklisted.” Bansi leans over to pick up the briefcase. “In any case, I think that I’ll have that drink at my inn; I’ve stepped in enough trouble for today.” Bansi nods to Raziel. “I do, though, appreciate the conversation.”

Raziel smiles sadly. “Very well then. I will see you around, Bansi Nata.” He stands and shakes the otter’s hand.

The Conspiracy (Main)

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