Red Dragon Inn

Red Dragon Inn Home Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark

Welcome, traveler!
( Member login. Not a member? Register here. )


Search    Memberlist    Usergroups    Forum Help   
Gallery    Shop    Jobs    Auctions    Pet Shop    Lottery   
Register    Log in 

Kalao

 
This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics.   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.   printer-friendly view    Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark Forum Index -> The Catacombs -> Sovereign Legacy
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2011 2:36 pm    Post subject: Kalao Reply with quote

Doctor Gilbert Desmarais could not sleep. Even the SS Maleana's gentle swaying as it guided them towards Urson could not assist him tonight as he stared up into the darkness at the low ceiling of his cabin.

He knew that he should use the opportunity to flip on the light and sit at the tiny little desk in his cabin to review his presentation on Carolus proto-fusion technology. Yet, flipping on the desk lamp would only remind him of how tiny the room was. He should be grateful to have his own cabin. This wasn't his first such trip for St. Aldwin since the Hichi Accord was signed. Often times on these sort of trips there was not the room for him to be catered to and he would have to share a cabin with another traveler. Instead, he only felt trapped by the narrowness of the room and lonely at being alone in it.

A walk. Perhaps a walk above deck with the salty sea air all around would calm his nerves. He rolled out of his bed, tossing the covers to the side. Gilbert found himself dressing quickly and had to acknowledge that he was suddenly anxious to see another face, to remind himself that he wasn't alone. He laughed under his breath at his own nerves as he closed his cabin door shut behind him and headed up out of the bowels of the Urson transport ship.

Alarms. The shrill sound greeted Dr. Desmarais at the same moment the wind whistled into his face across the rain-slick deck. They had told him that Asitranian vessels had been harassing transports; they had also told him the Maleana and her crew had nothing to fear, as their journey would keep them five hundred miles behind Urson's blockade of Asitrania.

Apparently, they had been wrong. "Submarine sighted!" The other orders were lost in the din, between the rising panic of the passengers, the klaxons sounding out, and the crew rushing off to their stations. Dr. Desmarais got to see a great many faces racing by him, likely more than he had reckoned for on his evening walk.

The flurry of noise and movement was more than his sleep deprived brain could take. He shouldn't be here. He should get out of the way. However, he could not force himself back down into the belly of the ship like a sitting duck.

His hand wrapped around the handle of the door in passing and he pulled it opened, startling himself to find the cȯckpit on the other side. A crew member barreling inside behind him, forced him into the cȯckpit and out of the doorway. Dr. Desmarais flattened himself against the wall, hoping to stay out of the way and not be sent back down below.

The crewman who barreled past him seized a hold of the radio and shouted over the intercom, "Lifeboats! All passengers, go to the lifeboats immediately! Crew are to remain at their posts, but all passengers must go to the lifeboats! Take nothing -- "

Something threw the crewman to the floor, something that boomed and rocked the entire ship, and it did not settle. In fact the floor's angle began to grow steeper and steeper, something that could be felt and not seen, because the power had gone out.

"Goddamn Asitranians shouldn't be out this far!" the crewman hissed as he climbed to his feet, unaware for the moment that he was not alone in the cȯckpit.

As the floor rolled beneath him, Dr. Desmarais gripped the wall on either side of the corner he had flattened himself into. The order to go to the lifeboats applied to him as well but intense curiosity, fear, and panic overwhelmed him. He could not peel himself out of his corner.

Eventually he found his voice which came heavy with disbelief. "The Asitranians? They are attacking us? But I saw no other ships."

The sailor swore again and grabbed the doctor's arm. Whether the man liked it or not, the larger sailor was dragging him, as much as possible, in the general direction of the lifeboats in the dark. The ship would sink too quickly, but maybe they would get a few into the water first, and maybe this sailor and this unlucky passenger would go into the water near enough to them to be rescued.

Maybe. But likely not. "You know submarines? Well, they've got them, and they love the hell outta reminding us Killdare should be theirs by torpedoing a ship. Looks like one slipped past the blockade... God damn it all..."

The slope of the slippery deck increased. The sailor struggled with a railing, and grunted at his companion, "Are you a Christian, mister?"

It took every ounce of determination for Dr. Desmarais to keep up even with his companion's help. Oh, but to be twenty-five pounds lighter and twenty years younger! He silently promised himself that if he made it out of here alive, he'd finally get rid of that extra weight.

As his hand wrapped around the railing, yanking himself forward another step, the sailor's question shook his core. Maybe if he were a better man he'd be praying for God's assistance. He exhaled a heavy breath. "Laxed, I must admit."

The sailor huffed an unfelt laugh. "I warrant you're on better terms with the Maker, so I'd be much obliged if you spoke for me... 'cause right now's the best time to pray."

* * *

The Maleana went under in minutes; as fate would have it. it seemed Dr. Desmarais' prayer had worked, as he and the crewman beside him were the only two taken out of the water alive by a patrol boat from Urson. Destroyers and torpedo planes scoured the area, but the submarine was long gone from the area. Perhaps, they reasoned, it was attempting to return through the blockade to Asitrania; all along those treacherous straits, the submarine hunters were out in force that night.

But the wily old admiral at the submarine's helm knew better. This wasn't his first fight, nor would it be his last. Unlike the rest of the Asitranian admiralty, he had read the writing on the wall: Admiral Metzengerstein knew the time would soon come for desperate measures, and he would be the man brave enough to take them.


((Adapted from live play with Sophie Rhovnik's player, with thanks!))
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With Sofia's sophisticated, worldly outlook and detached coolness, it was often easy to forget from the outside looking in that her DNA was not purely Rhovnik. Yet, her mother's blood and the influence of warm barefooted summer southern summers lay just beneath the surface. Every once in a while it could be heard in her soft twang when excited or, as it was today, in her musical taste.

Classical bluegrass strains came from MP3 speakers in the closet and was a dead give away to where she could be found. Although, with as much time as she spent in her closet, it was often the first place someone should look for her.

A large piece of luggage sat open in the doorway. A bathroom bag on the bed spilled its contents around it. Two drawers in the closet packed full of designer shoes had been open and Sophie was busy frowning over exactly what to pack.

"Our stuff's better," Alain's voice came from halfway up the stairs. He wasn't looking for her just yet, still reading the report in his hands and navigating on memory alone, which almost proved fatal when he stepped on an expensive high-heeled shoe near the doorway and almost lost his footing.

He preferred the similar Newbreton folk to her American bluegrass; he also preferred Newbreton swearwords.

"Hey, hey! Language and watch that shoe. Seriously. Does the word 'Louboutin' mean nothing to you?" Her tone was teasing and light. It was a vast change from the restless, panicked energy she'd been so full of lately. The mere thought of getting back to what it was that she was good at had sparked playfulness. "And I'm just going to pretend that I didn't hear that blasphemous statement."

"It means 'sharp,' apparently," was his cross reply as he sat on the edge of their bed to rub his foot. He dropped the report in his lap, and hesitated over telling her its contents. He recognized the change in her mood, and how badly she needed it. "What are you up to?" He watched the closet.

Her pale blue eyes ticked a glance his way but not long enough for his expression to settle in. One last drawer -- the top -- was opened and a hand ran down its contents lovingly. It was one of the many places in the house where they had weapons stashed. And these? These were some of Sophie's favorites. A Sig 228 9mm was pulled free with a thoughtful glance as she continued to contemplate her choices.

"I'm going to go get you a wedding gift."

Alain held out a hand for the Sig. "Gaelle's latest batch is in the back of the linen closet, behind the key-locked panel. Smaller than the previous kind, about the size of golf balls. They might come in handy." This would be good for her. He wasn't about to stop her. "You're going to hurt someone to get me something nice, aren't you." There was a grin creeping into his voice.

"You're lucky we're on the same side or I would have stolen Gaelle away a long time ago." His grin was matched in kind as she carefully picked a path through the mess she had created to reach the handgun out to him. "You know me, Alain. I'm just going to ask really nicely."

"The first time, maybe." He spread out the report a bit to create a better surface for the partial disassembly of the handgun. He seemed to be paying closest attention to the trigger -- a design flaw in several related models. This one, however, seemed to be in perfect working order. He pieced it back together and held it back out to her.

"I might be gone for a little while, too." His expression flickered. "Sir Tomnes is dead. Went down with the medical transport bound for the Urson DMZ. Asitranian sub, we're pretty sure, and the best we can tell it headed offworld instead of trying to return through Urson's blockade. Desmarais survived, thank God."

A heavy exhale was released as she set the gun down on the nightstand before dropping to a seat beside him on the edge of the bed. A hand lifted to draw her dark hair back away from her face as she considered the news. The news of a loss of a ship still hit hard. The nightmares of what happened to the Spring Hare came less frequently these days but the loss still lurked beneath the surface.

"I don't agree with Chase's motives but at least him ending this thing between Asitrania and Urson once and for all will stop this," she stated under her breath finally. "Where are you going?"

"Chartered a seaplane for Bretland, for starters. That new sonar array should've been up and running last week -- bet the Baron's unscheduled visit's going to light a new fire under their feet, and maybe they can figure out where the hell that sub's going." He drummed his fingers on the report, frowning. Tomnes was one of the new batch of knights, but also the first they'd lost since then -- they'd been awfully lucky this year. Any death in the small Order hit hard.

"After that... I don't know. Depends on whether or not it's going to make any more trouble. Hate to say it, but I don't think I can afford to go after revenge alone here."

Her hand lifted to rub up and down his back slowly. She understood the desire for revenge and leaned in to press a sympathetic kiss against his cheek. "I can put off my trip. We can go together. Maybe even fit in one last official visit somewhere before the wedding."

Alain shook his head, and eventually the little grin returned to his face. He squeezed her hand encouragingly. "You should go. Besides... I still need a little time to sort out your gift."

Her eyes settled on the grin for a long moment before she allowed her smile to grow a touch. "I'll be back before you know it. Promise. And I'll have Kicks with me so how much trouble can I get into, right?"

"You've said it," Alain sighed, hanging his head in resignation. "You've said the magic words, which means at some point in your adventure you're going to make international headlines. I'll top off your legal retainer before you go... and be safe out there."

((Adapted from live play with Sophie Rhovnik's player.))
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In six hours Alain would board a seaplane waiting for him at the New Haven docks and fly to Bretland for the surprise inspection: until then, he had more pressing business to attend to, wedding business.

Of the two things he planned to do this afternoon, one was very important to him, and it took him past the boutiques and warm sidewalk cafés of New Haven, around the familiar sight of the Red Dragon and its usual bustle, through the Marketplace and across a bridge to WestEnd. As he cut across town a part of his mind realized, reinforced by the strong memories of the smells of each place, that he was descending into his own past.

New Haven was busy but clean, thick at this time of morning with the aroma of coffee, tea and spice, everything that had made him a billionaire in the neighborhood that seemed the most obvious choice now that he was so wealthy. The Red Dragon and the Marketplace smelled like an old village to him, the kind of stench that farmers and shepherds brought with them into the city every morning. Livestock, food, the smoke from thousands of chimneys...

WestEnd stank too, but it had always been different. It smelled like the sea, the fish markets, and the filth that piled up and festered in every alley, abandoned lane and dead end. Alain had never minded it. It smelled like the worse neighborhoods back home in New Brittany, where he spent his final years in that world. Here he had been forced to leave something precious behind from that same world, and he would be damned if he wouldn't find it again.

That was so important to him. The other matter, however...

"Look, milord, are you sure this is a good idea?" Their wedding planner, Hugo something -- Alain had forgotten the surname again, he realized -- hurried after him, sticking close to his heels, sparing the back of his head the occasional withering glare between looking left and right at everyone who looked back at them. His black leather shoes were filthy by now, and he was deeply unhappy that Mr. DeMuer would only take the time for this meeting while taking care of another 'pressing matter,' as he put it. "This neighborhood is... you know."

"I know," Alain said. Hugo didn't seem to hear as he danced around a dead cat in the road.

"Up near the Marketplace I have this friend, Dianne, she runs a jewelry store to die for." Talking about jewelry out loud earned Hugo a few interested glances from passersby. He picked up the pace. "She specializes in custom pieces."

"I know." He would not have said that if he had not already known -- six times, since they set off on this adventure and Alain made the mistake of telling Hugo what it was about. "But unless she has the rare power of summoning antique jewelry...?"

"Weeeeell, she is part fae, so let me just call and check." He pointed at the side of Alain's head; Alain didn't look back at him, though he was smiling slightly now, amused that the big-picture man beside him had missed the sarcasm. "Listen, my friend, you're big and I just wanna make this big for you, alright? That's what they want, and no magazine worth its salt is gonna turn up their nose when they find out you got your bride a wedding present from Dianne MacDonwal. Dianne!" he crooned into the phone when the call apparently went through.

WestEnd was up to its usual tricks. He heard a dark, booming voice on the other end of the line that obviously wasn't Dianne, and then the line disconnected. A question formed on his lips, and Alain answered it: "WestEnd warps incoming and outgoing signals. Cell phones are one of the many things that malfunction here, if you don't adapt very carefully."

"Jesus, buddy." Hugo zipped up his jacket and shot Alain another glare. "Can't see why you still keep property in this dump... or why you couldn't have sent in one of those knights..."

"They're soldiers, not errand-boys," Alain countered more crossly than he meant to. "And wasn't there something else you wanted to discuss with me?"

Hugo started talking about tuxedos, champagne and centerpieces again, and Alain tuned him out. He'd hated their planner from the beginning: initially he and Sophie favored a friend of a friend who lived just out of town and understood the appeal of a small country wedding, but the old families insisted on someone better known for large celebrity and political weddings. Hugo was the second son of an off-world shuttle tycoon, and was married to the heiress of numerous vineyards north of RhyDin.

Sophie had met her once before, and the best Alain could tell from her version of the story, hated the woman quite a lot. Barton, he finally recalled the surname. Hugo and Eileen Barton.

"Through here," Alain said automatically, holding back a piece of plywood blocking an alleyway to let an increasingly distressed event planner through, and his mind snapped back to his goal. Upon his and his sister's arrival in RhyDin, they had split off from their cousins to make their own way, which on further reflection was probably a financial mistake. All Newbreton money was paper or digital, and Alain had only a few weapons with him, at least one of which he needed for his work.

They sold a plasma carbine, a small blaster pistol, his school ring and one of his sister Shannon's necklaces one at a time to pay the rent, and buy enough food to get by on. Finding work was hard, and before Alain's first job they had another bill to pay, which was when they made the hard decision to sell the ring.

It had been his mother's, given to her by a close family friend. The two of them had been very much alike, Alain recalled, but when he was little the woman and her family had left for an assignment with the foreign service. Over the years Alain had pieced together from his mother the rest of his story: his grandfather Clarendon had bought it for his grandmother from an antique shop to celebrate his return from the Great War. She later gave it to the friend's mother to celebrate the birth of the friend; still later, it returned to Alain's family.

It was a gorgeous piece of jewelry, seven small diamonds arranged into a flower, with a simple silver band, unadorned except for the inscriptions on the inside from each of its owners. He and his sister had sold it for another month of rent and bills, and since Alain came into money he had made several attempts to find it again over the years.

Twice he had picked up the trail and lost it again, but this time he was sure, it would pass back into his family as his wedding gift to Sophie. Yesterday he'd finally gotten a hold of the last man to own it, who had sold it in a WestEnd pawn shop not long ago. The fact that the shop owner seemed to be expecting Alain, when he and Hugo entered, was a very bad sign.

"Good morning," the man in the cramped shanty said to the two men, taking a moment to notice Hugo's finery, and to scrutinize Alain for signs of wealth. He'd been told DeMuer was looking for the piece, and that DeMuer was allegedly a wealthy man. ...he was, he decided, confirming it with another look at the man's companion.

"You're expecting me," Alain said simply, and the owner shrugged.

" 'S hard not to know you, boy," gesturing carelessly at Alain's scarred hand. "Can I get something for you?" His lips curled.

This was going to get expensive, but Alain could still try his best. Hugo looked on in open fascination. "Maybe." He stepped closer to the man's wares, squinting through the darkness at the display. "I was thinking about a ring..."

"Any ring?"

Alain nodded. There was no keeping up the lie, though. The ring's last owner had tipped the shopkeeper off, likely to pay off a debt, or incur one. The man produced the ring in his grimy palm. Hugo drew in a breath. Alain remained quiet.

"How about this one?" He flattened his palm, letting Alain look but not touch. "We've had a lot of interest in this piece... there was an offer just this morning, thought it a bit low, but I don't know... might call the boy back..."

"They're all over it, are they?" Alain tried not to sound too interested. "How much?"

"Ten thousand silver crowns." Even as an antique, that was at least five times its value, and at least ten times what one would pay for it in a pawn shop.

A smile flickered across Alain's features, effected. "Liar."

The man closed his hand slowly, folded his arms and leaned back to study the Baron with a growing grin. "You're one to talk, my boy... Coming in here, all like you don't know. Guy who hocked this to me, he tells me the trouble you went to. Plied him with drink and cash... makes me think this is something mighty special."

"What -- ?" Hugo began, and Alain looked at him. It didn't still his question, though, so Alain spoke over it.

"It's two thousand special. C'mon," Alain said, playing through this with a smile even as his rage rose dangerously. "You know that's fair. Money like that could keep the Watch from kicking you out of this lane unlicensed for a whole year."

It was a threat. If Alain didn't get a good price, he could tell the Watch about the shop blocking traffic, and they'd either kick him out (which would be devastating for any business like his), or force him to pay a hefty bribe to stay put. The shopkeeper wasn't backing down, though. He'd heard the man say that Alain was something called a billionaire, and that sounded like an awful lot of money... He opened his hand again:

"Ten thousand, and you're lucky it's not more, DeMuer. I get the feeling you could afford a lot more, so if I'm not hearing ten thousand?" His hand drifted over to a dark corner of the cobblestone 'floor.' "I drop it down the drain. I swear 'fore God. So c'mon, nancy..." The man leaned forward, giving Alain a nasty grin. "Cough up."

Even under these circumstances, there was only so much insult a man could take. Sometimes, Alain figured, he had to do what was necessary to show the other party where the line was. If this guy had played nicer, it would have gone up to two and a half, but now the line was two thousand, and he was going to show exactly how serious he was about that, and getting that ring back.

"You son of a b****!" Alain moved faster than the shopkeeper, wresting the ring from his hand and grabbing him by the shirt when he went for the gun under the counter, dragging him onto the display and slamming his arm into his sternum.

"Jesus Christ, Alain! Knock it off!"

"Shut up, Barton!" Alain snarled, and twisted the shopkeeper's collar into his hand. "That's a dirty, dirty deal, guy, and you should consider yourself lucky I'm not in a killing mood."

"You can't mean that -- "

"Shut up, Barton!"

"I-I-I, you won't!" the shopkeeper sputtered, and shot a pleading look at Barton. "I... I've got friends, friends who'll wanna know... what happened to me!"

Hugo Barton opened his mouth again, and Alain cut him off. "I promise you, I've got bigger friends. They'll never find you, and they'll never hurt me, so let's start playing nice and think real hard about my last offer."

"Well, ah, two thousand, I just don't know," the shopkeeper managed, and Alain roughed him up again. "Help! Oh God, help!" he pleaded with Barton.

"Jesus Christ, stop it, Al!" Hugh Barton moved forward. "You're a baron, not an animal, it's just money!"

"It's more than money," Alain growled, shooting Hugo a look. "This is how you do business, and if you don't like my business, how I do things, you can bloody well leave."

The shopkeeper seemed to sense Hugo's weakness and let out another strangled cry, and Hugo countered: "If you don't stop right now... I'll call the Watch!"

Alain's grip loosened slowly, and the shopkeeper made a show of catching his breath as if strangled (though any red marks were suspiciously absent from his throat). "Listen, ah, we don't want the watch, so if you could find it in your heart to just pay the humble sum of five thousand..."

Alain tightened his grip again and raised a fist, in spite of Hugo's shouts. "Four!" the shopkeeper blurted out in fear, and Alain let him slump against the counter.

Hugo was trying to get his cell phone to work again, the idiot. Already Alain knew this was going to come down on his head. Hugo Barton would be telling his old man that DeMuer was a common thug, and the old families would have themselves a good laugh about it, and Alain and Sophie would throw a big fancy ball to show again that they were 'civilized,' that they never got their hands dirty...

Alain could handle these people. He could stomach that. But he was sick and tired of proving himself to them time and again, and watching Sophie have to do the same. He reached inside his jacket, and the shopkeeper whimpered until he saw the checkbook emerge. Four thousand, and he leaned down to look the shopkeeper in the eye. He folded the check in half, tucked it carefully into his pocket.

"This is for the ring," Alain whispered, watching him closely, "and your silence. You don't want me to come back, right?" The shopkeeper paled and nodded, and Alain patted him on the cheek. "C'mon, Barton, let's go."

Hugo Barton managed to contain himself until they were ten steps away from the shop. "Are you ****ing kidding me? You were about to kill that guy, over what, ten grand?"

"I wasn't going to kill him, Hugo," Alain sighed, trying to outpace him as he strode down the alleyway, forcing the other man to jog to keep up. "I never put my hands on his neck."

"Sure didn't look that way from where I was standing!" Hugo laughed incredulously.

"Because you've never seen anything like that before."

"Jesus Christ, Al! It's just money! You've got people to take care of stuff like that for you anyway, pay ten grand, bish bosh done, and you don't have to stick your nose in the mud for a minute! If it's so goddamn important to you to have a crappy old ring from a designer nobody knows, at least do it like you're civilized."

"This is the way it's done," Alain scowled. "It's the way I've always done it."

"You can't have both, you know," Hugo interjected, in a rare moment of frankness. Alain stopped, and stared back at him. "A woman like Sophie, a title like St. Aldwin, and all this," with a disgusted gesture at WestEnd. "I'm not stupid, Al. I read up on you, and your bride. I know you're not... I know you fell on hard times, and you're new money now. I know that Rhovnik girl likes her adventures too, playing like she's someone tough, but it's over now. You're like me now, believe it or not. You can't have both."

Yes I can. Yes I ****ing can. Alain stared at Hugo Barton, debating what his next words would be. Finally he settled on, "You're fired."

Alain listened to Hugo Barton's ranting and yelling for as long as it took for a DeMuer sedan to arrive and pick him up, drive him back to 'civilization.' He didn't go with his ex-planner, waiting longer for Sir Malcolm's arrival with two horses.

"Sir?" Malcolm asked, studying Alain's face as they trotted towards the city walls. He'd learned to tell when something was bothering his lord.

"I'd like you to conduct the inspection in my place, Malcolm," Alain said at last. "I'm going to see Elsie Rhovnik about that call... see what mess she's gotten herself into now."
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
A L Bertand
Old Wyrm
Old Wyrm


Joined: 22 Oct 2009
Posts: 316
See this user's pet
Jobs: City Guard, Gumshoe
Can Be Found: RhyDin, Teobern, Sainte-Ouen or the great outdoors
15882.26 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Ten more reps!” Pei demanded to a trio of groans on the mats to either side. Harper just managed to keep her own to herself; she didn’t have breath for it. Behind her, the field trainer paced, counting out the repetitions like a merciless metronome. “One... and up. Hold. Two… and up. Hold. Three… and up. Hold. Four…” Her arms shook. A drop of sweat rolled between her eyes to hang suspended from the tip of her nose. “… Hold. Five…”

It splashed on the mat and she lowered herself on the count of five until she could almost touch it. Up again “… Hold.”

Someone in boots was running toward the tactical group on the floor. Pei paused, and without the count, they were left holding themselves up on screaming arms. Eyes straight ahead, which meant down, she stared at the spattering of sweat that dotted a darker blue against the mat beneath her. To her right, Haskell puffed.

“Harper! Dismissed.” Pei’s voice sounded whip crack behind the unit. “Six … and up. Hold. Seven …”

She knew better than to linger. Her thrice-weekly workouts with the knights assigned to S.P.I. duty was as disciplined as anything she’d endured in her Naval years. She relaxed enough to bring her knees up and stand, stepping sharply away, forward, before turning to see why she’d been released.

Davis was waiting a few feet behind Pei, grim-faced. He looked anxious.

Oh, no.

She bent to grab her towel and jogged around the group on the mat and toward him. “What’s wrong?”

“We have a situation.” He took her elbow, continuing briskly with her toward the lockers. He kept his voice pitched low, but sound echoed in the gym so it was best to put a bubble of distance between them and the others on drills. “Kay dropped out of communication three hours ago.”

She jerked to a stop with a squeak of a rubber heel on the polished maple of the floor. “Three hours?”

Dread crept from her stomach, up her throat. It was supposed to be a simple mission escorting a defecting scientist, but the bastards in Skopye had found them out. They’d lost one operative a week ago outside a bombed-out church near the People’s Republic square, a kid named Seth who was on his second assignment. The rest of the rail team had been forced to take their passenger and go to ground. Until yesterday, that is, when they’d made contact again and the pick-up had been rescheduled.

“Christ!” She spun the tumblers on her locker and yanked it open. Christ.

“Kay’s a vet. Fifteen years in the field and tough as they come. It’s probably a tech thing.” He was trying to sound reassuring, while she stuffed her street clothes into her bag and grabbed her jacket off the hook. Trying to sound reassuring, but they both knew. Everything that could have gone wrong on this one had, from the outset.

She thought about Kay, the ‘vet.’ The diminutive brunette looked like a ballerina. Before their last team huddle, she’d confided to Harper that she was about to turn forty, and had chatted happily with her about the trip her husband was planning for them to celebrate.

Three hours. “You have a car?” She shoved her arms into the sleeves of her coat. The zipper snarled at him when she tugged it up.

He looked surprised. “Yes. Why?”

“Because I am not telling him this over the phone.”
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elsie Rhovnik was supposed to be semi-retired. However, her children who weren't exactly interested in the family business and her eldest granddaughter had stepped aside in order to marry a baron while her eldest grandson seemed to be splitting his time between running around war torn regions and engaging in whatever adventure Sofia was currently on. Thus, since it was Sofia keeping her heir tied up, it would be Alain who would be asked to take at least one issue off her plate.

It was convenient that she was already in town for a business meeting. However with several hours to spare until that meeting, she was enjoying her coffee on the sun porch at the back of the Rhovnik's New Haven house, taking in the fall foliage. It was rare for her to get several minutes when she was not needed and Elsie had learned long ago to enjoy every second of them.

Alain left his horse with Sir Malcolm in front of the Rhovnik house and was soon inside; he was a familiar face there, even to the butler now, who let him breeze through, only noting where Elsie awaited him by way of greeting and rushing off to his other duties. He found the elderly Rhovnik matriarch enjoying a rare moment of peace on the sun porch and paused, both warmed and saddened at the sight.

After a long moment he broke the spell and announced himself: "Good morning, Elsie." His hands were folded behind his back.

Elsie set aside her cup as Alain walked through the door. Her eyes swept from the serene scene past the windows to the scarred man standing in the doorway. There was a pause of hesitation before her lips eased into a welcoming smile. "Baron. This is a surprise. I was told that Sir Malcolm was coming."

"Please. Have a seat."

"Sir Malcolm sends you his regrets, and these," Alain replied, producing a small bouquet of autumn flowers from behind his back. "He is to help Sir Roland with the military inspections in Bretland."

Her smile brightened into something more genuine and less controlled as she accepted the bouquet of flowers and set them aside next to her cup to be place into water once the conversation was over. Her fingers lingered over a burnt orange chrysanthemum before the hand fell back into her lap. "You must thank him for me. A pair of polite young men those two are. I think your bride might get into a little less trouble if you encouraged her to take one of them into her counsel rather than Sir Seamus."

There was a touch of a smile as he chose his next words carefully: "I find my schedule... very open, suddenly. I thought maybe I could help."

There was a note of stern advice to her tone which only grew as her eyes leveled back on Alain. "Open, you say? That's quite surprising to me since I hear that you recently fired Hugo Barton. I would think you would be awfully busy planning your own wedding.... unless I had missed a cancellation notice on the event."

"Barton overstepped," he put it delicately, matching her stern advice with a tone of cool warning. "The wedding will go on without him -- but until we find a new planner, I'm free to help you with this crisis." He hoped it would be enough to steer away from the other topic, but to put a point on it he added, "What's happened?"

Elsie's watery blue eyes lingered on Alain for a moment before she acknoweldged the topic change with a brisk nod. Sofia and Alain were outside her realm of control. There was nothing to be done but accept their decisions. "Nothing important. Certainly nothing to require your personal attention." Her tone was still heavy with meaning. If he was looking for a distraction from his wedding, she wanted no part in providing it.

"Has Sofia told you much about Kalao?"

"That it's a refuge for a tribe the Rhovnik dynasty liberated from slavery. I understand that, on occasion, it has served as another kind of refuge." He studied Elsie's face carefully, balancing his chin on his thumb. "You asked for my personal attention only a few hours ago. If Kalao doesn't require it after all, I'm sure I'd only be a short while on the ground until that was clear."

The truth in his statement was accepted by her giving more information. Clasped hands landed in her lap and she tried to keep the passion for Kalao and its refugees out of her tone. "It is. It's an island nation that can only be accessed by a handful of portals all under Rhovnik control. Or at least they all were under Rhovnik control. There is an ocean portal that is manned by a small crew who we have failed to be able to get into contact with. It is monsoon season so ordinarily I wouldn't be too worried. Unfortunately, this portal is in close proximity to Asitrania."

Alain shifted. He hadn't directly given the Rhovniks any copies of the report regarding the Asitranian submarine attack; however, he was aware that, especially since Sophie renounced her title, there was a low-level 'cold war' between his spies and the Rhovniks'. A great deal of information was shared freely; a little, though, was bought and stolen. "There was an incident, near the DMZ. The Maleana was sunk, around the same time as the battle at Fir Tree Pass in Killdare."

Much like her detatched granddaughter, Elsie was good at being hard to read. If any of this information was known or if it was a complete shock, one would be hard pressed to tell by the expression that lingered on her face. She nodded thoughtfully. "I am worried for the people of Kalao. It is not well defended. We choose to protect it with secrecy rather than weaponry. While ordinarily I would say that since Chase's actions provoked my concern he should have to deal with it, as I'm sure you know, my grandson has been pressed into this latest adventure of your wife-to-be."

There was a very noticeable emphasis on the words your and my. There was no doubting that Sophie was no longer Rhovnik in Elsie's eyes. She didn't let the words linger in the air. They didn't need to as she was certain Alain would get the message without letting them float there. "I was hoping that as a favor to me you could send a couple men to check on the island and make sure my fears are unfounded... Particularly since my pregnant granddaughter-in-law is on Kalao waiting for Chase to return from this latest nonsense."

Alain was playing the same cool game of poker as the old lady beside him up to the moment of that last remark. "Your...?" He cut himself off. "I don't think there's any need to send in the knights for this. I can be in and out in a few hours, have a look around... make sure there's nothing out of the ordinary."

"Excellent," Elsie responded with a crisp nod. She had little to say of her grandson's antics to grab his new bride a title nor the hastily put together wedding nor the sudden news that Caitlin was pregnant. "I am sure that Chase will appreciate it, particularly considering the condition of the Duchess."

"Just don't let her know I'm slinking around," he added. Caitlin didn't seem to think much of Alain, and Alain was aware on some level. He was eager to get started, though. "Where's the nearest portal? And I trust the locals won't grudge me bringing a pistol or a carbine along, just in case."

At least a thread of tension had been released. The rule of thumb in the Rhovnik circle had quickly become "what Caitlin doesn't know won't hurt her" as her reaction to Chase's lies and her new title had not been incredibly positive. "There's one in the Rhovnik building here in RhyDin," she replied evenly.

"I am afraid, however, that you will not be able to bring a weapon with you. Firearms are strictly forbidden on Kalao."

As far as Alain knew, Elsie had never told a joke, but he waited for the punchline. Elsie only smiled.

"Sh*t."

((Adapted from live play with Elsie Rhovnik!))
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alain emerged from the doorway, dizzy and shivering from the brief but harrowing trip through the portal, and took in what must have been Kalao as he recovered. The change in environment was almost as disorienting as the dimensional shift itself: the air was warm and bright, pleasantly cooled by a seaside breeze. A seagull cried out, and a songbird answered over the distant roar of waves. He could smell salt and sand, but no filth for a change.

He was alone, he noticed quickly, and thanked God for it. Sooner or later he would stand out, possibly get the attention of people he would rather avoid, but this way he could have more time to do his sleuthing unwatched. He took in his surroundings in more detail as he knelt to unpack his bag.

The shack was tiny, no more than ten feet deep, and somewhat less wide. There was an olive green cot (military surplus?) in the corner, worn thin and ragged from age and use, and surrounded by water-damaged boxes on one side. The boxes were empty. There was a window behind him, along the back wall near the portal/closet, and through it he could hear distant music. He could only see the shack's eave through the window, and that the edge of the corrugated metal was rusty and jagged.

Ahead of him was the door, cannibalized from a pallet, with wide slats between the flimsy wooden planks. The daylight streaming in was pale yellow: it was late in the morning, but not yet noon. Whoever had prepped the report had reckoned by an Earth time zone with daylight savings time and had gone an hour off as a result, maybe.

The why didn't matter right now. Alain adjusted his watch accordingly and, with far more hesitation, put on the clothing Elle Desmarais had picked out for this operation. There were cargo shorts, tan loafers he thought were only meant for men twice his age and older, aviator sunglasses, and the shirt. It was bright red, with short sleeves, and a white floral pattern.

A Hawaiian shirt.

Alain grimaced at his reflection in the sunglasses before he put them on. He tucked his other clothes and the duffel bag into a box at the bottom of the pile. None of this will be necessary, he told himself as he crossed to the door. Just a precaution. I'll confirm Cait's safe, then get the hell out before she knows I'm in town.

He was blinded by the bright sun reflecting off the white sand all around him. The shack stood atop a tall dune, next to a narrow beach. Down the hill and inland was a field of tall, thick grass, and a fishing village beyond it, the buildings clustered around a lagoon on the far side. The resort, he knew, was somewhere behind him, south of his position, but the north held his attention.

The village was quiet, when it should be busy. It was impossible to be sure, but his gut told him there were too many catamarans tethered to the docks for this time of day. Maybe they hung up their nets for tourist season to work at the resort. There was nothing he could see out of the ordinary at the resort itself...

...but there was no telling until he arrived, he reckoned. Alain adjusted his sunglasses, popped another button on his Hawaiian shirt, took a deep breath, and headed south.
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
A L Bertand
Old Wyrm
Old Wyrm


Joined: 22 Oct 2009
Posts: 316
See this user's pet
Jobs: City Guard, Gumshoe
Can Be Found: RhyDin, Teobern, Sainte-Ouen or the great outdoors
15882.26 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In spite of Seamus' love of mischief, good company and a raucous night out, what he enjoyed the most about his office at the New Haven Lodge was its location: far off the beaten path, too rough for your average car or carriage to handle comfortably, and too much for most of House DeMuer's lawyers, courtiers and advisors to trouble themselves with. It afforded him a great deal of peace and solitude when the burden of his office weighed heaviest on the usually good-humored and light-hearted knight.

Since his Baron's trip "abroad" on business only one day ago -- without any contact or communication since -- Seamus' little piece of solitude had been completely wrecked.

" -- of course it's a serious concern, that's not what I meant, gentlemen! I'm sure it'll have milord's personal attention as soon as he returns...! Well, no, not yet, but you've got me 'til then, right brother? ...Right, I won't call you that again. Promise."

He dropped the receiver in the cradle and at the same moment breathed, "A**hole."

He was silent, leaned back in the wooden chair behind his desk, scratching the back of his neck, until his lawyer cleared his throat. Seamus glowered. "Shoo. I'll deal with it later. Out!"

The lawyer hurried out, papers slipping from his arms as the office door slapped behind him, muttering swears at the knight and their kind his entire journey down the hallway and out the door, just in time to see a claptrap jeep pull up in front of the Lodge. He’d seen the blonde that climbed out of the vehicle once or twice in town, though he couldn’t quite place where.

“Hi!” she greeted the attorney, jogging across the gravel drive and up onto the porch before he could shut the door. “Is Morvan around?”

“Down the hall, there, third door. Not sure he wants company,” the man cautioned.

“Not sure I care!” she chirped back with a lilt that had the man flashing a grin.

She'd had to practically browbeat the directions out of Lanie at the office, but she'd gotten them - along with the warning that it was rough country and she should just call him. Everyone else was dealing with the knight by phone, when they absolutely had to. But telephones were easy, anonymous things to hide behind, and the few interactions she'd had in the past with Alain's right-hand ka-nicht told her that anything less than a face-to-face meeting would get her nowhere.

So here she was. In the clamor that accompanied the entourage’s departure, Harper swam upstream unnoticed and set herself in the corner of his doorway to observe.

Seamus' door had rattled ajar after slamming it shut, and the knight was still behind his desk, deftly whittling a piece of wood and looking at a stack of letters from a distance, as if they were the surprising and unpleasant contents of a petri dish.

The phone rang again. He gave that a different kind of suspicious expression, and decided to ignore it until it went away. After five rings, it did.

"You really should answer your calls. It might be something important." She was leaning in the doorway, watching him with her arms crossed.

"Last I checked," he ducked a grin at Harper and swiped a hand across his forehead, "no one put a funny silver ring on my brow. That's Al's game, not mine. What can I do ya for?" Behind the thin facade of the grin he was visibly nervous and tired. This man was a soldier, not a politician.

"I need to find him; I suspect you know where he is." She needed to find him urgently enough that she'd tracked Seamus down and came in person. That was noteworthy. Harper stepped lightly into his domain, noting the signs of stress in his demeanor. She hid her concern with an answering grin and pretended to be focused on the stick he was whittling. "What's it going to be?"

"Pointy stick for the next lawyer to defile the Lodge with his presence," he answered easily, with a more genuine grin at that. "Wish I could tell you, Harper. Malcolm escorted Alain to the Rhovnik house here in New Haven, right after he'd gone off and fired his wedding planner in WestEnd. Next thing I know he's gone 'abroad,' and left me in charge of his affairs here in RhyDin. The bastard."

She sounded a low whistle at the news about the wedding planner. "Fired him, huh? On his own? Brides tend to get tetchy about things like that. You might want to carve one of those for the Bossman while you're at it."

He laughed. "Sophie hated him too, just had a different mind than Alain on dealing with it. This planner and about a hundred other folks -- " He pointed the stick at her, apparently not realizing it was already pretty pointy. "You know their wedding was supposed to be just forty guests? You know how many these other folks got it up to?"

"Five hundred?" Just a wild guess.

He pointed again. "You're good. I know Sophie pretty well; we get on like old mates. She's gone off on another one of her adventures somewhere, 'abroad' again, right? I reckon she's hiding. Not from Al, mind, but from..." He gestured his knife toward the windows, vaguely. "...all of them. Come to think it..."

He folded the blade back up, and set his thumb to his chin. "I haven't seen any of the Rhovnik cousins in town lately, not the last week or two. That call to the Rhovnik house, I was supposed to take it first. I gave it to Malcolm instead, and I can only guess that idiot gave it to Alain instead." There was another grin. "Probably so he could go hide, too, from the great awful mess he made."

She puffed her cheeks out as she absorbed the news, and let it go with a gust of breath. "You're like a bunch of boys hiding from your chores," the way she said it was wry and fond before she grew serious. Very much so. "I need to find him, Seamus. Do you think they'd tell me where he is?"

"Mammie Rhovnik?" He laughed. "Sorry, that's what we call Elsie around here -- and fat chance. She barely likes the DeMuers. What makes you think she'll tell his...?" He gestured, then smiled. He had his suspicion. "...well, whatever you are."

"Secretary," she supplied with a sardonic twist of her mouth.

Seamus shook his head, and took one of the letters to skim. "I grilled Malcolm over it already. He's keeping his silence. All I've been able to get my hands on, is this. You know Elle? Jules' kid sister?" He shuffled around in his desk drawers, looking for the item in question.

Harper had to rifle through her mental Roladex for a moment. "Yeah, think so. Her sister was killed on one of the Terras, yeah? Not Prime?"

"We've designated it Terra Five. F for Fubar." He found it, and handed it over. "A kit she packed, supplies requisitioned from Dominion Exports, I assume to keep it from the likes of us knights, and creeps like you," he gestured toward her again, a good-natured tease.

She'd been called worse. She just grinned and pushed upright from the lean to take the file from him. "Maybe she's just scared of your pointy sticks."

“At what point is a pointy stick, no longer just a pointy stick?" he mused, examining it in the light. "Bring Al back in one piece, okay? I call dibs on his violent death."

She didn't answer his philosophizing, watching him, not the stick. As for violent deaths, "Yeah, we may have to arm wrestle over that one." She slapped the file against her leg, still unopened, and got ready to take off. "Anything you want me to pass along?"

"Only the usual threats and intimidation." He put the stick and knife away, and took the rest of the letters, shooting her a last grin over them. "See you around, Annie-Love."

That got a crack of a laugh out of her - surprise and amusement. She didn’t know her Christian name was common knowledge among the Baron’s muscle. "See ya, snookums." She turned and headed back the way she came.

(Based on live play with Seamus, with thanks!)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The captain's quarters in the HMS Orion, one of the largest diesel submarines in the Asitranian fleet, were still small and modest in spite of their owner's station. Storage lined every wall, including the bed, and the desk was set into the far corner with scarcely enough room for two chairs.

As ever, Lord Admiral Hugo Metzengerstein would make do. "Come, have a seat, lieutenant. Tell me what's on your mind." Lips turned to a brief, pleasant smile behind a curtain of gray whiskers. Hugo was an older man, perhaps sixty, but still fit enough to serve with honor. He had a boxer's build, a kind of trustworthy strength in thick arms and broad shoulders.

Hallern had always struck Lieutenant Marra as too large for a submarine, somehow. He had seen other officers like the old man, but always on the deck of proud and lumbering capital ships, with no regard for their bastard cousins who did the real hunting beneath the waves. Still, Hallern had proven himself an able captain these past three years, yet the past three months bothered him...

"Thank you, Admiral." He sat, uncomfortably close to the other man. Not so easy calling out my superior, three feet from his face with nowhere to go... He gathered his courage.

"Please, Mister Marra." It was as if the admiral could read his mind, the way he smiled. "Talk to me. Clearly this is a serious concern. Speak your mind, sailor."

"It is, sir," Marra began, and hesitated. He stared at Hugo's encouraging smile, and continued. "It's about the Maleana... no, after the Maleana. I understand very well the kind of casualties the Orion must inflict, but I still have to question if we were truly meant to continue following our late king's plan."

Hugo looked as if this were a novel and intriguing concept. There was nothing for it, but for Marra to keep going.

"An agreement has already been reached. I admit trading the newly styled Duchess of Killdare, or even Kalao itself, for Killdare is an exchange that heavily favors us, and in any other circumstances might be accepted... but our new queen has already struck a deal sealing Killdare's fate, regrettable as it may be. I worry that..."

"That what?" Hugo smiled again; Marra shuddered.

"...that this is treason." He let the words fall heavily. Hugo was silent. "Our informant has verified the Duchess' presence, and that Kalao's defenses are thin, and we do hold a certain national right over our former colony, but in spite of this I am afraid the queen will not accept our gift."

"Oh, lieutenant." The admiral unfolded his arms, and took over nearly the whole desk when he spread them out. Instinctively Marra leaned away. "You do remember what I said, don't you? That -- "

" ' In desperate times there may be no more sacred act in service to your country than betraying its misguided guardians, and if we face our death for it, then we die as patriots.' " Marra thinned his lips. "Still. We have sent two parties ashore, but it is not too late, admiral. We could withdraw, surface, and contact the homeland. We could ask the queen's blessing and then proceed with our mission!"

Hugo turned his hand over on the desk, inspecting his fingernails with his thumb. "You think it could be that way, do you, Mister Marra?" Then the hand shot out, enclosing the other man's throat in an iron grip. Marra reached for his gun, but Hugo broke his wrist with another well-placed squeeze, his pained scream silenced by his closed throat.

"I know your family has always favored our queen, may her reign be long and prosperous... but she needs a guiding hand," he squeezed harder, "to see Asitrania back on the path to glory. The queen has already called us home -- what makes you think telling her our mission will change that? As I understand it, she owes the Rhovniks a great debt, and won't be so fast to betray them. You would have us tell the queen and be sent home, and me, your captain, hang for treason! Is that it?! Tell me!"

Crack. Hugo had gone too far, though perhaps he had meant to. Commander Beck entered as Marra's limp form crumpled to the floor. The admiral stood. "Admiral?"

"Put Mister Marra in the freezer, and then surface at once. We are all going ashore. Kalao will be ours once more."
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was the third consecutive morning that Alain went to the resort lobby, to kick off his day with a round of billiards and eavesdropping, and the same uniformed man routinely asked him: "Papers?" He reached out his gloved hand expectantly.

"Morning to you too, ensign."

The ensign looked up at the greeting, and grunted in reply to the owner of Jon Hallern's passport. Another spoiled expatriate who thinks a martini is an acceptable morning drink. The Asitranian occupiers gave the trapped tourists similar disdain, but had largely let them go about their lives so long as they did not leave.

Communication to and from the island had been completely silenced, both the radio tower and the 'net servers seized before the Orion's crew made any other move against the isle of Kalao. They had gathered as many locals and tourists as they could into the area around the resort lobby, seized any communication devices, and to them had declared the reassertion of Asitranian sovereignty over Kalao; that no one would be hurt; that no one would be allowed to leave yet; and, finally, that they would be allowed to leave once they ascertained the whereabouts of a dangerous political radical named Caitlin Rhovnik.

Alain had pieced together that they had not contacted the Asitranian government and were acting independently, as renegades. Christ, Chase, what did you do to piss these people off...?

The ensign continued to scrutinize the passport and its owner, curling his fingers around his carbine's trigger guard, the weapon still dangling by his hip but the barrel lifted just high enough for a quick gut shot. Behind them a dozen other tourists and resort employees awaited the same treatment.

As with the previous two mornings, the reactions from the people in line were as variable as the people themselves. Some seemed nervous, or annoyed; others, notably, did not seem the least bit interested in the loaded weapons or their owners. To them it's just another step in their routine...

Just up the dirt road a sailor started a truck, watching his comrades pile into the back while an officer waved a map in his face. Doubtless their route on their expanding search for the newest member of the Rhovnik family. And sooner or later they'll find her. She's leverage, or worse, and they'll get her, and then God knows what. I swear to God, if only they'd let me bring a gun --

"Alright, Mr. Hallern. Go on in."

The ensign shook Alain from his thoughts. He smiled as the passport was offered back: "I'm sorry?"

The ensign frowned. "I said you can go on in, Mr. Hallern."

Alain's smile widened. "Oh. My name's not Hallern. It's Alain DeMuer."
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"This way, miss." Caitlin's guide through Papillon Resort's main office, a man named Kapono, waited at the top of the cramped stairwell for his charge. Under other circumstances he might have given her his arm and walked her up, but keeping her out of the Asitranians' clutches was more important than good manners.

They had been all around the building, a dozen sailors armed with rifles, pistols and machine guns, and Kapono knew there were more inside. Thankfully there was a staff entrance tucked away out of sight, and numerous stairwells and corridors throughout the building designed to keep the resort's employees invisible to the guests.

Kapono had already opened the door into the hallway, just enough to watch and listen for guards. If his sister's information was accurate, the man DeMuer was locked in a supply room not ten feet from the stairs, and once the guard left the area they would have roughly ten minutes until he returned.

Cait had been a nervous wreck for days. Being on the island alone, while her choice, was not exactly what she wanted when she was well into her sixth month of pregnancy. For the past few days she felt her anger at Chase rising to a new boiling point and the stress of the current situation was only pushing her over the edge. Resting one hand protectively on her stomach, the other tightly gripped the railing and waited for Kapono's next instructions. "Are we clear?" she whispered softly to him while silently praying that there were no guards near by.

Kapono put a hand up for her to wait, until he heard the sailor's boots retreating down the hall and around the corner. Then he beckoned, holding the door open for her.

The Asitranians did not trust Alain in the least, all the more because he had evaded their detection for days with relative ease and then chosen to turn himself in. They had fitted his door with a window to keep an eye on him and slide food through, a steel lattice with a small gap near the base, just large enough for a tray or small cup.

The room was lit with a single bulb dangling from the ceiling. They had provided him with a wool blanket to sleep on and little else: at the moment he was kneeling on it, head bowed, eyes shut.

Moving as fast as she could, she slipped through the doorway and followed to where Kapono showed her Alain was. As much as she didn't trust him or care for him, she wanted answers and she wanted herself and the baby to make it off the island safely. Peeking through the window, she watched only for a moment before calling softly through the bars to him: "Alain! Get off your knees and come over here!"

Alain's head jerked. He had been dozing. Very quietly he struggled to his feet and padded over to the door. He curled his fingers into the lattice, looking past her at first as much as he could, left, then right. Then he looked her in the eye, frowning. "You shouldn't be here."

"Yeah, well neither should you. How'd you manage to get yourself locked up in there anyway?" she scolded, raising an eyebrow at him. "What's going on? Why are they looking for me? I don't know what to do or where to go. Does Chase know what's going on? Why are you here?" Question after question rambled off to him and of course she still had others.

An expression flickered across his face: it could have just as easily been a grimace or a smirk. "I'm doing what I have to. It's complicated... but the people here looking for you, the Asitranians, are Chase's enemies. They believe you'll make a good hostage to get what they want. Elsie told me to come to Kalao, find out what's going on and keep you safe... and that's what I'm doing."

He smiled, slightly, with the corners of his eyes. "If you haven't noticed, they stopped looking for you around the time I turned myself in."

"I hadn't noticed they stopped looking for me Alain because I've been in hiding, I'm not exactly tapping them on the shoulders and asking them questions. Besides, you're doing a terrible job of keeping me safe. How are you supposed to do that when you're locked in a closet with no weapons?" It comforted her that Elsie cared about her enough to send help, but she still felt uneasy that it was Alain and not a more trusted member of the family, namely Chase. Rubbing her stomach lightly, she tried to calm down so that she didn't end up stressing the baby out or giving herself heartburn or worse, contractions. "What do I do Alain? Keep hiding?"

Alain shook his head. "Get back to RhyDin. They've found most of the ways, but there's an old route the Rhovniks rarely use anymore, and the Asitranians don't know about it yet... It's a shack near a place called Stingray Point, has a bright blue door. The portal's the closet in the back. Judging from their increased presence here, around my new home," he added dryly, "they should have stopped regular patrols. A guide should be able to see you to the portal safely."

He began to say, "Trust me, Caitlin," and cut himself off. She didn't trust him, so he amended, "At least trust that I've done this before. This is the best way to keep you safe. Go back to RhyDin, and tell the Rhovniks what you've seen. They'll know what to do."

"I just don't understand. If Elsie sent you here, why isn't Chase here? Why haven't they brought in their own army?" She seemed irritated. In her heart she knew that there was probably a good reason for it: the Rhovniks were not sloppy and definitely not new to war. Mentally filing the name of the secret portal at Stingray Point, she finally gave a nod to Alain, trying to let him know that she would listen to him. What other choice did she have? "Alright. But what about you? If something happens to you, Sophie will hate me more than she already does..."

"She doesn't hate you," Alain said automatically, but he didn't dwell on it. "This isn't my first time in captivity, and as captors go, the Asitranians are pretty gentle with their torture." She probably wouldn't find the humor in it; he shook his head. "Don't worry about it. I have a plan that'll get me out of this, and get Kalao back to normal... but I could really use your help to see it done. Can you?"

"Whatever, we don't have time to argue about family drama." As Alain was now finding out, Cait was quite sturborn for such a small person and really enjoyed getting in the last word. "Yeah yeah, what do I have to do?"

"These Asitranians will try to open communication with my people, so they can negotiate a better deal using me as leverage. Tell them not to answer, to ignore it. Tell them I said to do that." He paused and turned his head, at the same time Kapono hissed a warning from the stairwell. The guard would soon return. Alain backed away from the door.

"Chase had to go help his cousins, but I'm sure you'll see him soon. And when you do? Tell him he owes me one."

"Okay, I can do that." She nodded quickly and glanced around at the warning that was given. Cait had her own message she wanted to give Chase, only hers wasn't as nice as Alain's... "I can't believe I'm saying this... but thank you. And just get home alive." She backed away from the door and slipped into the stairwell, leaving Alain alone in his cell once again.

((Adapted from live play with Caitlin Keavy, with thanks!))
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The temple was aligned in the dead center of the village, itself aligned with a procession of stars the people of Kalao considered sacred. From it one could see all of the most heavily settled part of the island, with a bazaar around them and the beach and the sea beyond stretching out down the hill. The space itself was considered sacred, reserved for special festivals and ceremonies, but the Asitranians saw it only as the perfect location for an educational public display.

It was late in the morning of a hot, sunny day, and almost the entire crew had been gathered to control the crowd while they gave the Baron DeMuer and his allegedly many allies the last chance for his life to be spared. The sailors sweated in wool jackets and watched the crowd with their fingers on their triggers; Alain was kneeling on the edge of the wooden platform, his hands unbound, and Admiral Metzengerstein stood over his shoulder in his best uniform, scowling at the people around him. These people were hiding something from him, something besides the Duchess of Killdare, and he intended to discover it, one way or another.

"So far, we have let you people go about your business unmolested," he began, pacing slowly behind his captive. "Many of you must be wondering, then, why I have called you here this morning. It is in pursuit of truth!"

A crowd of dark, wary eyes stared back at the Admiral in tense silence. Some had been pulled from the middle of their work. They had fishing nets that they were mending in hand and baskets full of vegetables from the market. Mothers had babies on their hips and toddlers by the hand. A group of wrinkled older man looked up from their card game. The tribal priest stood on the steps leading to the temple. The village elders stood in a clump. Although they appeared uncomfortable and tense, the heat did not seem to bother them. They were much better suited for it in light weight fabrics and many had on wide brim straw hats to keep the nearly midday rays off their face.

Those same wide brim straw hats allowed five faces not like the others to slip into the crowd unnoticed.

Sofia reached up to tug at the brim of her own. Her eyes ticked up to Seamus. He was a bit too tall to pass off as an islander which made her nervous. He wouldn't have heard of being left back in RhyDin, though. Not that she would have wanted to leave him. He was an old familiar security blanket when the odds were against them. She pursed her lips, keeping her voice pitched low. His height could also be an advantage when trying to see over this crowd. "Do you see him?"

Seamus was silent, but after a moment he nodded to the platform and turned Sofia's chin just so until it pointed at the kneeling man. There. The knight's hands curled into fists at his sides, but he stayed put - for now.

"We came for the Duchess of Killdare, and found the Baron of Saint Aldwin instead, and not one of his people have responded to our reasonable requests to negotiate! Why is that, I wonder? Is he one of the tourists, I wonder, a nobody you have forced into a ruse?" The Admiral grabbed Alain by the hair, roughly, then shoved his head away. "Realize that when he is dead, we may turn our guns on you, until we have our answers." The Admiral stepped back and gestured to a sailor, who moved to bind Alain's hands to prepare for the execution.

Only then did he begin to struggle. He had knelt in silence for the entire display, but now he grappled with the soldier attempting to tie his hands, while the Admiral looked on with growing rage. He drew his pistol.

Beside Sophie, Seamus moved to break away from her, rush the crowd. He couldn't stand watching this.

From her vantage point, Sophie watched as amusement crossed the face of one of the elders at the Admiral's speech. The man's wise eyes sang of it before it was brought back under control. With her eyes on the flickering expression across the man's face, she was a beat slow in reaching out to grab the Knight's arm. Her fingers wrapped around his forearm tightly as she drew up beside Seamus and then slid past him in the crowd to position herself closer towards the front. "Wait," she whispered under her breath. "Let him take the shot."

"What?!" But Seamus obeyed, watching helplessly as the chaos unfolded up on the platform.

Not many of the villagers were jockeying for a closer look at the impending execution. Along the front edge of the temple stairs, a row of sailors stood watch; one of them, a young naval officer with short-cropped blonde hair and a grim expression moved closer to the star of the show, to block any attempts to interrupt proceedings. His hands went to his sidearms in a warning clear as the growl of a Rottweiler. No one could have expected what came next as he drew his weapon, executed a crisp about-face, and tossed the pistol to the prisoner.

Alain recognized that face. "Harper," he grinned.

The Admiral lowered his weapon in shock as Harper's sailed through the air. Alain elbowed the sailor behind him in the nose, grabbed the pistol and turned to face the Admiral. The Admiral pointed his gun right between Alain's eyes, while Alain pressed his to his own temple.

The crowd had been roaring at the outbreak of violence, but most stopped at this move. Admiral Metzengerstein stared in shock, then rage at this display. He pulled the trigger. Click. Alain pulled his. Click. And then he grinned. "They don't work," he said.

Then he turned to the turbulent crowd and bellowed, "They don't work! These men would see you enslaved again with their guns, but their guns don't work on Kalao! You have them surrounded, so now's the time - rise up! Rise up, and - " The Admiral's hammer of a fist barreled into the side of Alain's head, tossing him aside and cutting the speech short, but the damage had already been done. The crowd roared in anger, converging on the sailors with fists flying. Rapidly the Asitranian occupation was coming apart at the seams.

"Alright. Now you can go," Sophie stated in a low tone to Seamus, releasing her hold on his arm and with her words also releasing the three Rhovnik employees that had been accompanying them into the fray.

Instantly, the old men who had been playing cards seemed to sink into the woodwork and out of the fray. There was a rush to get out of the way. Half the crowd fled the temple grounds while the other half swarmed down upon the crew. Everything within reach became a weapon -- fishing poles, hunting knives, stools.

Oh. Well, crap. The sailor beside Harper swung, clipping her across the cheek as she started up the stairs for the platform. She staggered, blinking sparks of light behind her eyes, and grabbed the nearest thing at hand - another sailor who had been coming down the steps at her. Both hands went for his elbow, and she threw herself into a do-si-do with him that left the fellow spinning right into his companion.

Surrounded and badly beaten sailors were beginning to surrender, while others fleed inland, but up on the platform the Admiral and his officers were keeping up the fight as long as possible. The officers were hoping to stage a breakout, make their way back to the submarine, but the Admiral? He was single-mindedly bent on destroying the man in front of him. "You should know," Metzengerstein snarled as he advanced on his quarry, "I am a five-times champion heavyweight boxer." He threw quick jabs to keep Alain on the defensive, breaking every few moments to swing wide, landing devastating blows.

"Goddamnit, Al." Seamus fought his way through the crowd, almost up to the platform when an officer punched him in the eye and another grabbed him from behind. "Heads up, Sophie!" The knight leaned back, then threw his shoulder forward, hurling the second officer away stumbling toward Sophie.

Sophie missed the fight on the platform as she ducked a blow coming in at her face. The hat slipped off her head falling into the sand beneath their feet. Instinct drove her forward. There was no time for thought. The officer bearing down on her had the advantage in wingspan, weight, and height. But she was most certainly quicker. Her hand tightened on the dagger in hand as she twisted in, driving the blade deep into the man's gut. As he doubled over in agony, clutching the hilt himself, she turned out of the way, lifting a foot straight up before driving her heel downward in a vicious axe kick to the back of the head.

The fight between the Admiral and the Baron progressed, badly for the Baron, until they were driven to the very edge of the platform. Abruptly it ended with a crack - Alain leapt up and forward, spinning his leg over Hugo Metzengerstein's swinging arm, and landed a hard blow on the side of his head. His neck twisted sharply and snapped, eyes already unblinking by the time his body hit the floor.

Harper was an indelicate fighter, as it turned out. The next man hurtling down the steps growled a suggestion that was highly improper, even for a sailor - involving Harper's mother and a donkey. She drove a fist into the part of his anatomy where his brains seemed to be centered, doubling him before bringing the sharp bone of her elbow into his temple and pushing past.

One of the officers was dying from a dagger in his belly, and another three were down for the count at the hands of Alain's friends, while the last of the sailors had given up: the brawl was all but over. "Your admiral's dead!" Alain shouted, and the few standing fighters turned their heads and, after a look between each other, relented, putting their hands in the air. The center of town was a mess, with a sailor crashed halfway through the temple platform and numerous others in collapsed stalls or through the front walls of huts... but it was Kalao's again.

"Harper? Seamus? ...Soph?" Alain called, shielding his eyes against the blazing sunlight to make out their figures figure better.

"Jo's going to punch you when he sees my hair," Harper panted cheerfully as she picked a path around a fallen man toward him. "Fair warning."

"I'm fine." While Harper arose cheerfully - and, at some point, Sophie was going to have to figure out how Harper had gotten involved in this mess - Sophie arose irritated. The sort of gruff irritation that she used to cover massive amounts of relief. She straightened up, rolling the stress out of her shoulders as she slowly took a couple steps forward. "Speaking of punching people, Alain, you missed our wedding."

"No I didn't," he countered, shooting Harper a smirk as he stalked toward Sophie. "I just rescheduled. The way I see it, we've got a great venue here, two of our wedding party," with a nod to Harper and Seamus, "already present... Hell, Sophie."

He grinned, settling his arms over her shoulders. "Let's get married here."

"Dibs on best man," Harper muttered aside to Seamus as she turned aside to give them the illusion of a little privacy. "Took you long enough to get here."

Seamus grimaced: "Well, congratulations, Annie-Love - you just made me a bridesmaid."

((Adapted from live play with Sophie and Harper, with thanks!))
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics.   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.   printer-friendly view    Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark Forum Index -> The Catacombs -> Sovereign Legacy All times are GMT - 4 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

Dragon's Mark Producer - Rob Portinga
Original site design © 2005 by Nomad  •  Forum design © 2005 Isaura Simon