Garrett kept an eye out for any trace of Ciel as he traversed the field of dancers, thinking it was the most likely place to find her. He soon caught a brief glimpse of the tell tale scar that their engineer had, and redirected himself towards her. As he arrived, Garrett saw that both Ciel and James were together, looking like they had just finished dancing, with Ciel looking about all over the place.
"Ah, Miss Kriebel and of course James, good thing I found the pair of you, I bring urgent news from our admiral. She requests our swift return to the Invincible, as certain factors have come into play, and we will need to set sail sooner rather than later; specifically tonight. Make your way back to the carriages; once everyone is on board, the admiral will explain our sudden departure."
"And good luck to you as well Doctor. Hopefully one day we may be able to meet under more amicable circumstances. Also feel free to share anything I've said with those around you. Perhaps it may even change something and freeze hell over. I'm sure the people down there would appreciate it." Samuel replied before standing up and snapping a salute off to the admiral before walking over to the bar and sitting down. He ordered a bottle of whiskey and a glass before he began to drink. It was really the one thing he hadn't done tonight.
"This will be quicker if we split up. You recognise the head mechanic and her assitant, start with them. If you find St John send him my or the Rear-Admiral's way, whichever is quickest."
Drustan began to walk away from Annis with a short bob of his head for acknowledgment. "Will do" he murmured as he strode over to where Ciel and James went off to. He skirted the edge of the dance floor, wanting to avoid the fluctuating, spinning throng as much as possible in his quest for the two Imperials. He located the engineering pair after about a minute, and stopped walking so that he could get a good view of the entire scene.
The pattern the dancers were weaving to the music started to look familiar to Drustan, but he wasn't sure where had seen it before. The big man hunched over before checking his copy of A Commoner's Guide to Upper-Class Etiquette and Mannerisms Part IV, because being caught reading a book like that at such an occasion is quite embarrassing. He flipped through two sections before locating a dance that looked similar to the one on the floor. He traced a diagram with his finger, then looked up and mentally traced the route James and Ciel would follow. Once he had a destination in mind, he slipped the book into a pocket and trundled over to his expertly planned rendezvous point.
When Drustan arrived, he looked up to locate the engineering couple, only to find that they had stopped dancing and had been retrieved by Garrett. His jaw dropped down wide as the shock of his unraveled plan sunk in. it was only until after a few raunchy-looking neobeduins started throwing peanuts into his mouth that Drustan recomposed himself and resumed his general mission.
The two danced, James moving awkwardly in an attempt to keep up with his partner in these unfamiliar movements. He tried his best, though he had tripped on her feet an innumerable and insufferable amount of times, apologizing as best he could after each and every time. His attempts to be smooth had been thoroughly ruined, he was almost glad when the crowd stopped, dropping her hands with a deeply reddened face.
"Ah, Miss Kriebel and of course James, good thing I found the pair of you, I bring urgent news from our admiral. She requests our swift return to the Invincible, as certain factors have come into play, and we will need to set sail sooner rather than later; specifically tonight. Make your way back to the carriages; once everyone is on board, the admiral will explain our sudden departure."
"'Certain Factors'? We pissed off someone important, didn't we?" James frowned, his blushing subsiding momentarily. He'd keep an eye out, and if need be he'd protect Ciel. He could see it now, several brigands descend upon them only to be quickly (or not) dispatched, one broken nose or arm at a time...
He snapped himself out of his reverie, offering to Ciel his hand, "I believe it is time to leave m'lady. Shall I escort us to the carriage?" He grinned widely, bowing slightly.
Zach didn't want to give Issac time to argue. Concealed from the Snipers gaze behind the chimney stack, Zach stripped off his jacket, shirt, trousers and shoes. A flash of white cloth or the rustling of trouser legs could be all that was needed to give away the game if the gunman happened to glance Zach's way as he made his approach. It also granted him greater agility, more grip, a softer footfall and a quicker draw. Tightly fitted leather holsters crisscrossed Zach's bare skin wherever he could get away with putting them. Rows of slender throwing knives clung to his chest, round his waist, over his shoulders, at his wrists and ankles, and on both the inside and outside of his thighs. A peek round the corner of the stack confirmed the assassin's gaze was still fixed of the streets below. It was time for Zach to make his move.
He went prone, hugging the cold roof tiles with his belly, and moved sideways like a crab, making his profile close to invisible. The roof sloped downward until he reached the opposite edge to the side he climbed up. This was the tricky part. The estate was given a wide berth by all the buildings around it, so as to better show off it's majesty. That meant that the distance to the adjacent rooftop was a long way to jump, and Zach wasn't willing to risk standing and taking a run up. The one advantage on his side was that the rooftop he needed to get to was significantly lower than the one he lay on now. Had it been higher, Zach wouldn't have stood a chance of making it from a stationary jump. Slowly, Zach pushed himself up into a crouch, turning his body to face his immediate target. He placed his right foot in front of his left, its toes curling round the lip of the gutter, his knees bent and tensed. His weight was shifted as far forwards as he dared. If the gutter gave way under him, Zach would be plunging towards the cobbles and spiked iron railings over sixty feet below head first.
There was no more time to waste. Zach channeled all the strength in his body, from his core right down to the balls of his feet, and launched himself forwards. For a second he flew across the gap before gravity snatched at his body greedily. However, he had done enough. His vision tunneled on the lip of the roof before him. His arms stretched out as his world tilted forwards in a graceful arc. He planted his hands on the tiles, with every joint from his fingertips to his shoulders absorbing the impact, and he tucked into a roll that brought him back onto a solid footing with no audible crash or thump to give away his position.
From then on the path was easier, creeping, rolling, sliding and mantling from one chimney stack to another, in a wide arc that kept him well out of the sniper's field of vision, before he came to the building adjacent to the gunman's little nest. From here, he had a clear view of the main entrance to the estate, so he could know the perfect moment to strike, after the Imperial contingent had dispersed, but before the crew of The Mermaid emerged. He also had a clear line of sight to the Ggun agent, as well as the high ground. If by any stroke of bad luck the man's hackles were raised in the way prey can get to let them know a hunter is approaching, Zach could put a knife in his spine before he would have time to turn and shoot.
All he need do now, was wait.
When Dr. Roque finished his conversation, Adrianna lead them toward the carriages. When they were out of earshot with the rest of the party, Adrianna spoke up, her voice low. "Sorry to interrupt your conversation - I know it must be hard to find good conversation on medical matters aboard the Invincible - but I'm afraid the pirate vessel we encountered on route to Helium appears to be headed to the same place we are. As a result, we need to get a head start if we're to accomplish our mission." she explained, hoping to put the good doctor's fears of a medical emergency to rest. She lead them outside and toward the steam-carts, glad to see much of the crew had already gathered - save the officers. "We're setting sail tonight." she finished, letting him know the bottom line.
She turned to await the others, then her face soured - she could see Exeter making his way back toward the party from places unknown. "I need a new First Mate" she thought to herself before making her way toward the missing officer.
"Ah, Miss Kriebel and of course James, good thing I found the pair of you, I bring urgent news from our admiral. She requests our swift return to the Invincible, as certain factors have come into play, and we will need to set sail sooner rather than later; specifically tonight. Make your way back to the carriages; once everyone is on board, the admiral will explain our sudden departure." Garrett said, approaching the pair on the dance floor.
Ciel nodded, having quickly taken stock of the situation. James however, took a different approach. "'Certain Factors'? We pissed off someone important, didn't we?" James said, taking a combat stance. Ciel hadn't expected the sudden reaction, much less the effective fighting stance. "Beast Dancer?" she thought to herself, but quickly dismissed the idea - how many beast dancers would be in Helium City, want to fly on a ship, and be willing to fly on an Imperial ship no less. As for his sentiment - that they'd pissed someone off - she couldn't disagree.
Ciel whistled slightly, summoning her lone spider drone. If crawled free from the folds of her dress and down her arm until it sat at attention at on her hand. "Find any missing crew and get them to the Invincible." she said, giving the drone it's orders. The drone saluted with one of its many legs, then jumped from her hand; disappearing into the crowd.
"I believe it is time to leave m'lady. Shall I escort us to the carriage?" James said, offering his hand. Ciel nodded, took his hand, then began leading the way toward the meeting point - it wasn't like she was just going to let him take the lead.
Exeter was making his way across the grounds, headed back toward the party, when he spotted two odd things. The first was a small metal spider running around the field as though searching for something. He raised an eyebrow at the sight, but quickly dismissed it in light of the second - the small army of Invincible crew waiting by the exit. He didn't get a chance to make any sense of it before his wonderful commanding officer started marching toward him - no doubt to yell at him for some perceived slight.
"3...2...1... he counted in his head as she approached. She opened her mouth and began to speak. I knew it he thought as the chewing out began. Exeter stood there, ignoring the officer for the most part, but eventually tired of the talk. When a lull came in the one-sided conversation, he quickly spoke up, saying "I understand Admiral. It won't happen again." Then he walked toward the meeting point to await departure.
Lt. Com. Ring
The assassin lay in wait, watching for his prey. He caught glimpse of her briefly, speaking with some of her crew, but the shot wasn't a clean one so he waited. There would be plenty of time. So, he waited in silence, ready for the moment things changed. Eventually, the shot would be aligned and the target would be no more.
He stared through the eyepiece, watching his target, when suddenly his sight went gold. taking his eye off the scope and his target, he looked at the cause - a small automaton with eight legs. It stared back at him for a moment before saying "You're presence has been requested at the carriages." it said, clearly unperturbed by the rifle it sat in front of.
Ring pushed the little creature off the roof, saying "get out of here you damned piece of junk." As he was about to get back to shooting position, he noticed something odd - a sound behind him. Ring immediately turned around, bringing his rifle to bear against the darkness behind him, and fired into the night.
The knife was already spinning though the night as the Ggun agent brought his rifle to bear on Zach, were it buried itself in the man's shoulder, causing his aim to jerk sideways at the last second. This sent the shot that would have been aimed square for his head whistling a foot past his ear.
'Damn it!' Zach cursed inwardly as he leaped to close the distance between the two of them. Most of the Imperials were in their carriages already, but the slimy officer and his admiral were still on the steps of the estate. Zach had only the few seconds of confusion where people tried to figure out where the sound of the rifle shot had come from to subdue his opponent. If they were seen, this could turn into a bloodbath.
As Zach closed, he drew another blade from the small of his back. This was wasn't like his other throwing knives. It was larger, and curved round in a vicious looking hook. Zach called it 'Talon'. The assassin tried to level the rifle again, but he was sluggish thanks to the knife in his shoulder, Zach had closed the distance too quickly. He caught the barrel of the rifle with Talon, swept it wide, and with a flick of his wrist twisted it out of the Ggun's stiff arms. He then swept low in a wide arc, catching the back of the agent's ankle, the blade biting though his Achilles' Tendon, taking his legs from underneath him and sending him flat on his back. Zach went to ground as well, putting them both out of sight to anyone who might look up from the street. Zach sat on the man's chest, pinning his arms to his sides with his legs. With one hand Zach covered the assassin's mouth tightly, and with the other he flashed Talon an inch away from the man's eye.
"Expecting an easy job?" he hissed. As a rule, Zach took a surgical approach to his prey, killing as efficiently as possible with no gratuitous wastage. Chuno Ggun agents were the exception. "You and I are going to have a little talk, but that part comes later. Right now, you just lie still and shut the fuck up like a good little man. If you try to stuggle, or make a sound, I swear that I will carve out your lungs with this knife and make them into an interesting new instrument so you'll be singing for all eternity! If you want a way to pass the time, how about you have a good long think about how you just got your ass kicked by a brown kid in a loincloth. That sound like fun?"
"Find any missing crew and get them to the Invincible."
"Hm-?" James stared at the thing as it scurried off, his face paling considerably. He began to sweat heavily as Ciel led him off the dance floor.
"W-we need to talk about those things. They are really creepy! I'm sure there are several other designs we could use instead of spiders. Like monkeys. Everybody likes monkeys!" James shook his head, clearing his head as he sped up to go in front of Ciel.
"Now, let's please be done emasculating me?" He said, as smiled. With the lead thoroughly his, he looked around and found Garrett. He shrugged, and moved towards the door, speeding up ever so slightly. He made sure to pay attention to his surroundings, in case of combat.
The doctor nodded, somewhat relieved that his skills would not be required. Pity he couldn't chat with Samuel more, even if he was the other side of the proverbial line. At least Vasco was finally out of that cursed den of verbal barbs and smiling veneers. For a moment there, he was tempted to simply leave, but that would insult the host and the other guests there. That and he encountered a reasonable man in the mists of wolfs and vultures. Vasco replied with a quick, "Yes, Rear Admiral." Well, there was only time for that as she went back to the party, most likely to retrieve the others. It reminded him somewhat of some of the drills the naval officers went through over and over again. However, this one was far more unorganised. And with that thought, he sighed along with a mental note to avoid social gatherings like this in the future.
"Boy, you should've started with rum, or even a mild ale. Absinthe is for real heavy drinkers." Hector's head pounded with every word. It sounded like she was trying to save from from any more pain, for once talking softly instead of her usual snarls and growls, evidently it wasn't working.
"But they looked so boring..." He slurred in reply
"I don't suppose you'd have some sort of remedy for what he's sufferin from, do you?" She asked with a quirked brow.
The bartender sighed, it wasn't his job to conjure up hangover cures, he was there to get people drunk, not sober.
"Ma'am, I am a bartender," He said wryly as he leaned over the countertop. "It is not in my business to sober up my customers."
"'Certain Factors'? We pissed off someone important, didn't we?" James said, as he then took a stance that looked more appropriate for fighting than for anything social. Garrett recognised the way in which James stood, it reminded him of a Beast Dancer he had seen perform in a cultural festival a few years back. Whether or not James was a Neobedouin was of no concern to him at the moment, getting people back on-board the Invincible was, though he made a note to ask James later about his heritage.
"Not exactly, like I said, all would be explained once everyone is back on the ship." Garrett said as he followed James and Ciel, with Drustan following on behind him back to the carriages, where he could see that most of the crew had arrived, with the exception of a couple of the officers, mainly Exeter and Lt. Commander Ring. But not a couple of moments later, he spied Exeter having a quick word with Adrianna. Waiting for the First Mate to return, Garrett approached Adrianna.
"Ah Admiral, by all accounts it appears that everyone has made it back safely, with the exception of Lt. Commander Ring. I can't imagine where he has gotten to, perhaps he overheard one of us talking, and slipped out quietly to head back when no one was looking, I'm sure he'll turn up at some point. Regardless, can I suggest that I go out first and check the surrounding area, in case anyone has set up an ambush of some kind. I know given where we are, the chances of it occurring are low, but it pays to be cautious. After all, you did hire me to keep you safe." Garrett said with a devious looking smirk, suggesting what he actually meant.
Sheska looked back down as Hector replied, and she had to sigh softly out of pity at the slur in his voice.
"But they looked so boring...".
"Trust me Hector, everyone has to start somewhere, and drinking is one of those things where it's better to start simple.", she said quietly, patting his shoulder gently before looking back up at the bartender.
What he said earned him a scowl, and she shook her head in mild disgust and disappointment. Any bartender that she knew that was worth their salt knew how to concoct some rather potent remedies for hangovers and drunkenness, simply because they knew it'd earn them more gold, and get their customers to drinking again all the quicker.
"Then what good are you right now?", she asked with a scoff, before she shrugged.
"Well, I doubt a little hair of the dog that bit you is going to help much, especially with absinthe, so I really can't help. We'd have to find Sam and see what he can do.", she said, before holding out a hand.
"Lets get you up first, and if you puke on me, I'll make you pay.", she told him, though her tone was still gentle even though it took on an edge.
As Exeter stalked off toward the others, Adrianna couldn't help but wish he hadn't shown up - her life would certainly be easier without him. She didn't get to enjoy the thought for long however, as Garrett approached her with a status update. "Ah Admiral, by all accounts it appears that everyone has made it back safely, with the exception of Lt. Commander Ring. I can't imagine where he has gotten to, perhaps he overheard one of us talking, and slipped out quietly to head back when no one was looking, I'm sure he'll turn up at some point." he said, giving the details. Adrianna shook her head at the thought. "I'm not worried. The Lt. Commander isn't part of our crew; he's only here on orders of the embassy. What more, I'm certain he can handle himself."
Lt. Com. Ring
"...That sound like fun?" his attacker said, holding a knife to his eye. Ring stared back at him for a moment, more then a little pissed. How had he - an well trained Imperial agent - been beaten so quickly? It didn't seem possible. Regardless, it was true, annoying though it might be. He stopped struggling a moment later, letting his attacker enjoy his hollow victory.
Then he brought his knee up to his chest with all the speed he could muster, slamming it between the knife wielder's legs with gusto. Riding off the momentum of the strike, he pivoted his weight, pushing the attacker over, while moving his head away from the enemy blade. With one of his hands now free, he reached for his side arm, trying to remove the attacker before he recovered.
Regardless of the results of the conflict, he knew one thing for certain: he'd die before telling the enemy a single word. He was out of uniform - nothing to tie him back to the Empire if things went wrong. Even if his plan failed, there were enough contingencies to see the problem through. The target would die, even if he didn't live to see it. He held the barrel toward his enemy and pulled the trigger, sending a bullet toward the enemy and a loud burst of light and sound out into the night.
Adrianna: Part II
"Regardless, can I suggest that I go out first and check the surrounding area, in case anyone has set up an ambush of some kind. I know given where we are, the chances of it occurring are low, but it pays to be cautious. After all, you did hire me to keep you safe." Garrett finished, making his suggestion with a slight smirk. She loved that smirk.
Adrianna shook her head, turning back to the carriages. "We have the crew and the transportation. If they have an ambush nearby, they'd have already made there move. If it's further on, you'd never find it in time. No, we'll take an alternate route back to the ship and keep out eyes open as we go." she said, letting her tactical side take command. That side of her personality wasn't in charge long however, before the sound of a gunshot rang through the empty streets. "IN THE CARRIAGES NOW!" she yelled at the Imperial crew before chaos had a chance to set in.
Gods she hated shore leave.
"W-we need to talk about those things. They are really creepy! I'm sure there are several other designs we could use instead of spiders. Like monkeys. Everybody likes monkeys!" James said, critiquing her designs. Ciel merely pouted slightly, saying "Spiders have 8 legs, Monkeys only have 4. My drones are clearly superior." she said, a touch indignant. Sure some people didn't like her drones, but they clearly didn't see the utility of the extra limbs. sooner or later, she'd find someone who didn't think the designs were creepy... right?
"Now, let's please be done emasculating me?" James said, taking the lead and smiling. While she hadn't intended to emasculate the poor man, she was getting tired of the "protect the lady" bit most men insisted upon. Sure, she was a woman, but so was the Admiral and she could take care of herself... mostly. "Fine, but don't get used to it." she said, mostly joking.
As they reached the carriages, her small drone returned; slightly dented on the top of it's "head". "Who did this to you!" she asked the drone, more then a little disturbed that someone would attack her sweet, harmless, lovable spider-automaton. She didn't get much of a chance to wonder about the question however, when a shot rang through the night and chaos unfolded.
By the spirits of his ancestors, he hated having to take them alive!
As the assailant tumbled him overhead Zach executed a forward roll that brought him back up to his feet quickly. Perhaps it would have been better to stay down though and roll to the side instead, as when Zach was turning the assassin was bringing his sidearm to bare. It was fortunate that Zach had already gone halfway to slicing the man's foot off, as his unsteady posture combined with his lack of time to aim properly made for a poor shot. Still, at practically point blank range there was little chance of him missing altogether, and Zach for once had no time to make a move.
The shot hit in on his left side, ricocheting off the top of his pelvis and out though his back. It wasn't enough to cause serious trauma, relatively speaking at least, but the force of the gunshot at such close range was enough to knock Zach off his feet. As the Ggun went to line up another shot, at his head this time, Zach wondered for the briefest of moments if he was beaten.
"The front line of every fight is inside your own head." had been one of his first lessons from Solomon, during those relentless months of training before he'd been allowed to pick up a bow for the first time. "Even if your prey looks like it has every advantage over you, you can still win provided you're thinking further ahead. The moment you allow yourself to blank, to miss a step, to freeze, then you're dead. Doesn't matter how strong or quick you are. One bullet, one blade, one second, that's all you need to give them for you to die just as easily as any other man."
Zach had no plans to die today.
A flick of his wrist, and another throwing knife was buried in the Ggun's crotch, which seemed to make him forget entirely about what was in his hands. A heel kick sent the weapon over the side of the building and out of sight. Zach used Talon to catch the man by his collar and reel him in, which was followed by an elbow strike to the face that sent the agent sprawling. He fell against the wooden guard rail, and Zach swung Talon down so hard that the hook went right through the man's forearm and the timber underneath it, impaling him on the rail. Just for good measure, Zach aimed a kick in between his legs that drove the knife in deeper.
"You see what you've done now?!" Zach snarled, grabbing the Ggun's face and pulling it upwards, forcing him to look Zach in the eye. "You've made me go and forget my manners. Look at me! You think I haven't seen that look of quaint, patriotic resistance before, struggling on bravely through the pain? Sorry to steal your thunder but you're not the first Ggun I've crossed paths with, and not even close to being the best. They all start this way, swearing to themselves that they'll never talk, but sooner or later they all sang to me. Have you ever wondered just where your breaking point is? Believe me, I can find it for you. You will tell me who you were here to kill tonight, you will tell me everything you know about said person, and you will tell me about everyone else who is involved and all contingencies that are in place. Who knows, by the time your done I might have calmed down enough to finish the job quickly? If you don't talk soon though, I will cause you the kind of agony that makes a man forget the faces of everyone who ever made them smile, the sort that'll get you spilling every secret you've ever known, right down to that rolling pin you caught your mother using on herself when you were six if you think that that's make me stop!"
"I'm not worried. The Lt. Commander isn't part of our crew; he's only here on orders of the embassy. What more, I'm certain he can handle himself. We have the crew and the transportation... you'd never find it in time. No, we'll take an alternate route back to the ship and keep out eyes open as we go." Adrianna said as she gave her thoughts on Garrett's suggestion.
"Fair enough, quite the sound observation." Garrett said, complimenting the decision. He was about to continue when a gunshot could be heard.
"IN THE CARRIAGES NOW!" Adrianna shouted out, ordering an immediate return. Garrett meanwhile withdrew his revolver and aimed it in the direction where the gunshot could be heard; from his best guess that was up above on the rooftop. He could faintly make out that there were two people up on the roof, but the darkness shrouded any discernible features.
"Admiral, get into the carriage first, I'll cover you in case they decide to fire again."
Jason was drunk.
Even by pirate standards, he was pretty sloshed. He was responsive, sure, but it mostly entailed ornery grunts and the occasional slurred "Gofugyerself." But he wouldn't have it any other way - this party was even more boring than taking stock of supplies, if such an unholy thing was even possible. If it weren't for the buzz, he'd likely have started a fight by now, or worse -
The gunshot roused Jason from his stupor. Another acquired talent of his - the ability to suppress alcohol in his blood with adrenaline. Whipping around, he quickly determined it was fired somewhere outside. 'Great. Something interesting deigns to happen and I'm not around to see it.' Sliding out of his seat, he landed with a grace not normally associated with somebody that just spent the last hour drinking themselves stupid. He spotted Sheska at the end of the bar with one of the new recruits. "Oi, Sheska. Looks like we get to have fun after all." He trundled off towards the sound of the shot, his arm ready to draw his pistol at a second's notice.
Despite the classy atmosphere, the fact that she was mildly buzzed from the few glasses of wine she had had, and the heavily hungover Misbegotten in front of her, the gunshot that rang in from outside immediately put her blood up. Her head shot up and her eyes scanned the room even as her hand reached toward her left hip for her cutlass.
Only to slap against the skin bared by the slit in her skirt.
She swore viciously under her breath before she reached up to her hair and drew one of the long, golden needles that held her dreadlocks back. After a quick examination, she decided it would have to do. The point was sharp enough that she could stab someone if need be, but there wasn't a cutting edge, or even a proper handle to keep a hold of, so as far as makeshift weapons went, it was only a step above a broken bottle.
When Jason strode over, he didn't look nearly as drunk as he did earlier, but adrenaline could do some wonderful things when you needed it to. After all, she had plenty of experience there.
"Oi, Sheska. Looks like we get to have fun after all.".
She huffed once as she gave the other guests another once-over. "Right, fun. We might be attacked at any moment, and I don't have my gun or my cutlass, and I'm short an arm. I thought I was going to stop mauling people by hand after I left the Ggun.", she told him, before glancing at Hector and lightly kicking his foot.
"Get up, boy, we need to be ready, so ignore the pain and get on your feet. Now!", she hissed, before striding over to Jason.
"We need to get the crew together. Think you can do that? I'm going to find the Captain.", she told him, before striding into the crowds and searching for Beth.
George put his mug on the table again, having finished another. Suddenly a voice interrupted his conversation, he turned his head to see Garrett. "Ah, Mr. Maelstrom...I've got to go and find our engineer now, so I shall speak with you later." Garrett then left the bar and headed into the crowd, George turned back to Roy. "Well good luck with that...Nap time already?" Roy asked, chuckling. George nodded with a serious expression. "I am not sure what happend, but it seems to be time to leave. Well it was a pleasure talking to you Roy, and who knows we might meet again at some point."
George stood up from the bar, and began to slowly make his way towards the exit. He was happy for his ability to drink a lot of beer before collapsing, still he had to make sure not to drink so much again when serving on the ship. George arrived outside, to hear a loud gunshot, he could hear the admiral yelling "IN THE CARRIAGES NOW!" George made a bee line for the nearest carriage, he regretted not taking a decent weapon with him now. He jumped into the carriage, and looked up at the roof trying to make out who shot.
"Right, fun. We might be attacked at any moment, and I don't have my gun or my cutlass, and I'm short an arm."
'Oh, right. Sheska's unarm... fuck. Really? Even in my head, that's a terrible pun.' He rolled his eyes a bit at his own terrible sense of humor and continued on his way. Sheska took a moment to rouse the greenhorn and dashed to join him. He grunted in greeting, keeping his eyes affixed forward.
"We need to get the crew together. Think you can do that? I'm going to find the Captain."
He stopped his advance towards the door and took a brief look around. Sure enough, the shot had sent the crowd into disarray, with people dashing every which way looking for their friends and loved ones. It would take a great deal of effort to find the rest of the crew in this madness. As much as his trigger finger itched, getting the Mermaid's crew squared away was more important. He removed his hand from his coat pocket and nodded in agreement. "Aye aye, First Mate. See you on the ship."
He turned to leave, but a sudden realization struck him. What if... someone from the crew was being targeted, and this gunshot was the first warning? The thought chilled him, especially as he realized just how helpless Sheska really was in her current state. Even if she could throw a punch with the best of them, she was unarmed in more ways than one. And considering she and the Captain were likely on the top of any anti-Mermaid hitlists...
He turned back to Sheska, whipping out his revolver with a flourish and offering it to her handle-first. "Five shots. The first chamber isn't loaded." Even drunk, his gaze was hard and utterly resolute. "Be careful, Sheska. We don't know what we're dealing with."
Sheska watched as Jason stopped and looked around after she asked if he could gather the crew. She knew how hard it could be to resist going on the offensive, especially at a time like this. She wanted to go out and investigate herself, but first priority was safety of the crew.
Then he nodded.
"Aye aye, First Mate. See you on the ship.".
She nodded in return. "Good man.", she told him approvingly before she turned and started into the heart of the crowd.
It was a scant few seconds before she turned back to Jason as he took a few steps towards her again. One of her eyebrows winged up before he drew a revolver and offered it to her, handle-first. She blinked, and then she had to smile as she reached up and stabbed the hair needle back into the mess of dreadlocks behind her head.
"Five shots. The first chamber isn't loaded. Be careful, Sheska. We don't know what we're dealing with.".
She took it with a chuckle. "Wow, Jason, you know exactly what a girl wants.", she said before her tone was more serious.
"You be careful yourself. It'd be hard as shit finding an engineer of your skill that I can stand if you die.", she told him.
As she dove into the crowd, revolver at her side and cocked, she had to shake her head again. Earlier that night, a man was worried about her safety and threatened to kill the person threatening her. All that ended up doing was pissing her off. Another man was worried about her now, and offered a weapon for her to kill the unknown threat herself, and that made her feel warm and fuzzy. She supposed it went to show that the crew knew her well.
"Lets get you up first, and if you puke on me, I'll make you pay."
Hector nodded faintly as he turned his drooped head away from Sheska's shoes. He could feel the butterflies in his stomach stirring and even in his inebriated state he knew that she didn't mean paying for replacement shoes.
There was a gunshot...Somewhere.
His head throbbed, what now?
The Sulk-Hound tried to rouse him before dashing of into the fray. Suddenly unsupported he collapsed to the floor, hitting the ground hard, "The bigger they are..." He muttered as he dragged himself onto a chair, looking out for shoes not to throw up upon.
Drustan was getting bored. Initially, he had been excited at the prospect of "enforcing tranquility" at the gala, but as the evening dragged on the prospect of violence began to dwindle until the only signs of confrontation were brutal animosity tucked into the veneer of polite conversation.
Now things were picking up. Adrianna had been rounding up the crew members who traveled with her, but Drustan thought there were still one or two missing. While the big man was really just looking for a good scrap to end the night on, looking for missing crew members would be a convenient excuse to rough someone up. He was just strolling out of the door when the shot rang out, and the noise caused him to bolt off in that direction, giving Adriana a quick "Heyadrianaimmagolookforcrewmemberskthanksbye!" as he passed the admiral. Seeing that his target lie on a rooftop, Drustan hopped and vaulted on the cart of a rag-and-bone man trundling along the street to propel himself onto a nearby roof. His movement was so fast and sudden he'd wager she hardly knew he was gone.
As he trekked up and down the rooftops of Helium City in pursuit of his conflict, he finally heard the admiral give an order concerning him. "IN THE CARRIAGES NOW!" The only statement that felt appropriate bubbled out of his lips: "Well, shit." If he was able to accidentally stumble into a restricted area like the dock where the Invincible was, Drustan hoped he could do so purposefully again.
As Drustan was finishing his ascent, he jumped up to grab a ledge near where he thought the shot came from. Being the tired, large, and at this point clumsy man he is, Drustan promptly lost his grip and fell back down to a lower rooftop. He decided for a more diplomatic approach at this point.
"Hey, is anybody up there? Do you have a gun? Can I fight you?"
Samuel was just about to down a shot of whiskey when a different sort of shot rang out. He immediately grabbed the bottle and dropped low to the ground out of reflex. He moved around the bar to provide some amount of cover. He didn't see gun smoke, bodies, or a bullet hole nearby so he had no way of seeing where the shot came from. He immediately took a swig from the bottle to steady himself a bit as he began checking the immediate area behind the bar, hoping to find a pistol or shotgun tucked away for the bartender to use in case somebody tried to take more than their share. Though it turned out the bartender had less bite than expected since he was cowering in a corner of the bar and the wall.
"Calm down man." He said as he passed him the bottle.
"Until people actually enter the building with guns there is no reason to think they are going to get you. Now if you have a firearm please do tell me where it is, oh and if you happen to have a first aid kit somewhere around here please tell me where that is as well." He kept his voice calm hoping the man might take a bit of inspiration from him.
"It'd be hard as shit finding an engineer of your skill that I can stand if you die."
Jason could help but give a drunken snort at Sheska's barb. "Try impossible." She bolted into the crowd, no doubt looking for Beth. He supposed he should get on his task of accounting for the rest of the crew. To that end, he scanned the crowd once more, seeing Sam trying to calm the bartender, who had dived for cover the second he shot rang out.
Jason calmly made his way through the crowd, stopping just at the doctor's side. From what he had heard, Sam planned on tending to any injured. A noble sentiment, but they were on a rather tight schedule. "No time to play doctor, Sam. We're gathering the others and beating a hasty retreat." He took another look around the bar, but the swelling crowd was making it difficult to make out any of the crew. "Gather everyone you can find and get back to the ship."
Zach couldn't help but laugh.
"If you want a fight, there's no need to ask my permission." he replied to the ginger giant. "Make no mistake though, take one more step and you're a dead man. My business with this piece of shit excuse for an assassin doesn't concern you. He's not worth your time, and, no offense, but I think even with a bullet hole through me I'm a little above your pay grade. So you just climb back down and keep right on walking by with those Imp bosses of yours before they start to miss you. How does that sound?"
"So you just climb back down and keep right on walking by with those Imp bosses of yours before they start to miss you. How does that sound?"
"Ooh, an assassin!" Drustan scrambled onto the roof to see what was going on. When he hauled himself upwards, he stood over Ring's body with a slight memory of his identity. "Huh, I think I saw that guy somewhere before." This time he turned around to face the Neobeduin punk, using his shoulder to signify Ring. "Who was he trying to assassinate?"
Zach just eyes Drustan for a second with eyebrows raised. He'd crossed paths with a lot of stupid people in his time, but he never would have thought that this one could end up being genuinely a dumb as he looked. Zach could only assume the reason he'd lived this long was that no-one had dared to pick a fight with a man Drustan's size.
"Are you... not all there or something? You do realise that I am, right now, in the process of torturing this man? You are also aware, are you not, that you're working for the same people he is, which by association makes you more than a legitimate target for me? You did hear me say before that I would kill you if you tried to interfere? Yet here you are, trying to make small talk like we're just sitting down for coffee and I'm reading a newspaper, and you expect me to just indulge whatever information or suspicions I have with you and then just let you go on your merry way. Wow, you might just be the absolute worst mercenary that I have ever met, and that really is saying something! Is that why you're whoring yourself out to the Empire? Are you so dense that even the Skyfolk didn't want you on their team?"
"Very well I was more concerned with seeing if this bar had a shotgun or pistol behind it but it would seem there isn't one. Such is life sometimes. Probably for the best if I stick with you, seeing as I am particularly unarmed. Leaving me at something of a disadvantage." Samuel said as he popped up from the bar and started scanning the room to see if there was anybody he could easily recognize.
Roy continued to drink after the Imp had left and entertained himself by trying to build a tiny catapult out of a coin, a paper clip, and a small spring. He noticed that the crowd of guests seemed more on edge. Or maybe he was just imagining it. While the seagull wine didn't seem to have all that much alcohol in it, it was starting to make Roy feel lightheaded and slightly dizzy which made it harder for him to construct the catapult to Roy's great annoyance.
Still, after a short while, Roy had something ready and tried firing a peanut. Bombs away! The nut flew with a surprisingly wide arc and landed somewhere in the crowd near the bar, possibly hitting someone.
Hmmm...spring needs adjusting... Roy thought and continued to tinker with his tiny new toy.
"Are you so dense that even the Skyfolk didn't want you on their team?"
Drustan was appalled! Could this fellow even comprehend the idea of manners? Before replying, Drustan chose to clear his throat: "While this is normally the part of the conversation where I start to mock and question your intelligence, this time I will make an exception for you. And yes, while I am aware of most of what you said, all I was looking for was an amiable conversation ans possibly an equally friendly brawl, and I greeted you under the assumption that the desire for polite interaction would trump your senseless, contradictory, arrogant, foolish, and pretentious urge to feel superior." Drustan's tone began to quicken and become more forceful as he went on, but he took a pause in conversation and calmed himself. "My apologies; I was wrong."
Not failing to give the youth one last chance, Drustan stuck out his hand, symbolic of a peace offering. "Let us try this again: Hello, my name is Drustan Cynwrig; it is nice to meet you. Will you please tell me who the assassin on the roof over there is?"
Zach did not return the mercenary's offer of a handshake. If they could have done, his eyebrows would have raised even further, continuing right round the back of his head. Credit where it was due, this guy was... different, but Zach was, unusually, in no mood for games.
"I don't know how many times you've walked in on people who did not wish to be disturbed... Drustan, but it's rarely a friendly encounter. It does not get any more friendly when the person in question is in the middle of applying acupuncture to every nerve cluster in another man's body. The very fact that you are still alive is as close to 'polite interaction' as you're going to get from me."
If Drustan wanted amiable conversation from Zach (in the genuine sense, not the kind he'd used to sucker Garrett), first thing he's have to do would be to stop working for Imperial coin. Second, he'd have to use what money he had left to buy Zach more than a few drinks. A friendly brawl would never be on the table though. For a man of Drustan's profession to believe that such a thing even existed was further proof of his idiocy in Zach's opinion. If Zach wanted to fight Drustan, it would be a fight to the death. Specifically, Drustan's death, and Drustan would never see it coming. That was what Zach thought of this man's idea of a 'friendly brawl'.
Although Zach was inclined to believe Drustan was just being naive and pompous, it was always possible that this was somekind of bizarre trap. Drustan may be trying to confuse him with this odd display of behaviour, making Zach shake his hand out of a sense of bewilderment, and the next thing Zach's arm could be broken and an Imperial platoon could be coming out of the woodwork. It was unlikely, but Zach could have been dead a thousand times over in other points of his life, had he not learned long ago to never assume anything. In any case, it was time to shut the door on this interruption, in no uncertain terms.
"You've got yourself into a pickle here Drustan." Zach told him "Whatever it was you were looking for by coming up here, I appear to have disappointed you, and you're Imperial buddies down there look to be in rather a hurry to leave. I say 'buddies', but we both know you're really nothing more than hired help to them, so I'm guessing they're not going to wait up for you once they're all squared away. The way I see it, you've got two choices. You get to walk away, a chance that is slipping by the longer you stay up here, or you can stay and try and continue this pointless charade. You stay, and any backup you may have had leaves without you, which makes you less of a problem to me and more just an annoyance. I strongly suggest you don't find out what happens to people who become an annoyance to me. Now... get lost!"
She heard the gunshot, but there was a natural reaction of panic among her guests, so it took her a while to find her guard captain. Wilhelmena had said her farewells, when the imperials began to move, and Jaqui had wished him a pleasant journey. She would deliver the message, but first she needed to get the situation under control. Eventually she found the bearded man in armor, as he made his way through the crowd towards her. She assumed he'd been doing his best to calm people down, and it seemed to be working, but had they found the source of the gunshot?
"We're looking for the perpetrator right now. What are your orders, ma'am?" He asked, when they stopped in front of each other.
"Kill them, and arrest anyone armed on my estate. I will not have anyone interrupt my party without paying the price."
He bowed, and left her. There was soon plenty of guards inside the estate, though they tried to be as discrete as possible. Those who were visibly armed on the first floor, soon found themselves with a few rifles pointed at them, as the guards told in clear terms to drop the weapon or get gunned down. Sheska was one of those who found rifles pointed at them. Those guards who were not needed on the first floor, made their way up to the second floor, heading for the windows where they would be able to get a clear view of the outside, and hopefully spot the enemy too.
Remmington went out into her garden, where she found the friend of her friend, sitting on a bench and admiring her garden.
The president came up to her, with a grim expression.
"Did I do something wrong?" Beth asked.
Jaqui shook her head. "No, not you, but there was a bit of a commotion. We'll soon have it under control, so there's no need to worry."
Beth nodded, and was about to ask why she had come looking for her then, when the president handed her an envelope. "It might be a good idea to leave soon. You don't want to be late."
She didn't know what to make of the letter, but she pocketed it. "I better be on my way, in that case, I suppose." Beth could take a hint, even when she was drunk. The president curtsied, and Beth did the same.
"Take care." Beth responded, and headed inside to look for her crew, so they could depart. It would be nice to leave the city, and get back in the air again. They hadn't been in the city for long, but she prefered the skies. Especially over coming to a party with imperials.
Sheska was taken aback for a few moments when a few of the armed guards promptly aimed their rifles, some complete with bayonets, towards her and ordered her to drop her weapon, or be shot down and possibly run through. She blinked, then glanced down at the revolver that Jason had loaned her, then cursed softly under her breath. It was with a soft sigh that she slowly and carefully crouched before setting the revolver down, then standing up and keeping her hand raised.
"I'd rather you stop pointing those at me. I had no intention of shooting any of your guests, unless they planned on shooting my crew.", she told them calmly, before glancing over to the side at a familiar sight.
"Cap'n! There you are. I was planning on getting you. I've sent Jason to gather up the others so we can leave straightaway. Well... As soon as you tell these uniformed gentlemen to let me go. I'd rather not stay in Helium City much longer than I absolutely have to, and certainly not in a cage.", she added with a quirked brow and a flat stare at one of the guards.
She heard Sheska's voice, and turned in the direction it had come from. The first mate was surrounded by guards, and asking her for assistance. They didn't look like they were messing about, so Beth continued on her way, but added a comment of her own; "Maybe you shouldn't wave guns around then."
It wasn't like Beth had any power here. She could ask Remmington to let her first mate go, but right now, she figured it more likely that she would get arrested as well. Order needed to be restored, and any good leader wouldn't let someone else stand in the way.
Beth didn't know if Sheska was innocent either. She had been alone in the garden, when whatever had upset the guards and Remmington, took place. She headed for the bar, as the guards forced Sheska and some others out of the room, through a backdoor. Hopefully Remmington would wait until morning before doing something rash. She'd hate to lose a good friend, no matter what crime they may have committed in her absence.
She stopped in front of the bar, and reached for a glass on the counter. "I suggest we get moving, mates. We don't want to end up like Sheska, and the president didn't seem to happy about whatever it was." She downed the brownish liquor, not really caring who's drink it was, or what the drink itself was.
"All mermaids that can should make their way back to the ship." She raised her voice, and stumbled in the direction of the door.
Sheska promptly blinked as Beth continued with but a single sentence.
"Maybe you shouldn't wave guns around then.".
"Wait, Cap'n... You're joking, right? Just having a laugh before we get out of here? Because I wasn't the one that shot earlier.", she said, her composure cracking somewhat as she started to be led off.
But it was a few seconds after that her face changed into an expression of shock and hurt. "Wait, you're leaving me here?! CAPTAIN!!", she cried out, a hint of betrayal leaking into her voice.
She was pushed roughly through a back door, and she managed to work up a snarl for form as she was pulled along by the armed troupe of guards. But her mind was mainly occupied with the fact that Beth, her Captain, the Mermaids illustrious leader, had left her there. That goddamned bitch.
She had better have a good explanation for this bullshit, she thought, even as she desperately hoped that they wouldn't take the Mermaid and go without her. It was the closest thing she had to a home, and the crew was the next best thing to family.