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A Dangerous Con: Sigmunds Brothel Trip

The night was getting dark. Smog had settled over New Babbage, doing little to conceal the dangerous affairs going on beneath. It was a dangerous city at the best of times, and these were not the best of times. 

In a dark winding alley of this city, a man, armed to the teeth, was creeping with a grim purpose towards the square. He had a jacket wearing sloth clinging to his back. The odd pair tried to keep out of sight, using shadows and doorways to obscure their route from any that may have tried to follow. 

Stopping several streets away from their destination, the pair looked, listened and smelled for activity. There was a lot to take in. The roofs was teeming with activity, watchers and guards for various factions vying for vantage points and trying not to let their counterparts see them. Urchins and various furry creatures were also keeping an eye on the proceedings and they did not go completely unnoticed. 

After a few unsuccessful scouting attempts, Russ and Sigmund found that the closest vantage point with a good view of Nicolas’ brothel, but out of direct sight, was the roof of the Turkish baths. They climbed up and Mr Firecrest got into position, examining the route across the rooftops with his captains spyglass. 

He could see many people on the roofs he recognised from different walks of life.  The whole area was a powder-keg waiting to be lit. 

“There’s certainly a lot of them.” He said, looking at Sigmund. “Are you sure you’re up for this?” 

Sigmund looked nervous, but nodded. 

“Alright then, I’ll be watching.” said the adventurer, in a tone he hoped was reassuring. 
The sloth began the long climb across the roofs. 

The route became more and more risky as he got closer. The guards and watchers became more densely packed. He stuck to the shadows and moved slowly, using his natural camouflage and sense of smell to avoid being seen. 

After about an hour of strenuous climbing, the sloth finally reached the row of roofs he was aiming for. 

Something moved nearby. He hid behind a chimney. A nervous man with a pistol emerged from his hiding place, looked around for a moment, then want back muttering. “Bloody cats are everywhere!” 

Sigmund waited till the man had settled back into his seat, then continued. He climbed slowly and carefully towards the brothel roof. The window he wanted to enter through was in sight, but he could see, hear and smell guards watching it. He needed a distraction. 

Across the city on the Turkish bath roof, Russell watched his co-pilots progress through his spyglass. He could see Sigmund eyeing the window at the front of the building. Scanning the surrounding roofs, he saw the guards watching it. He looked for something to draw their attention. Atop a nearby tower, he saw several large bells. Taking aim with his rifle, he hoped Sigmund would be ready for the noise. 

A shot echoed across the square, quickly followed by a loud clang from the bell. The roof guards spun as one to look at the tower and Sigmund made his move, climbing as fast as he could to the window. 

It was locked. The sloth hooked his claws around the window frame and tried to reach the latch.  Another shot and clang echoed around the square. Sigmund worked as fast as he could, but lacked the opposable thumbs needed to open the latch. 

“The hell is that thing?” came a shout from the opposite roof.   Sigmund froze. 

“Dunno.  Maybe it’s a kind of cat.” 

Dangling from the window frame in plain view, Sigmund tried to imitate the sounds of a cat. One of the men shot in the air, sending the sloth scrambling up onto the roof and behind the chimney. 

“Ever since they got that moreau lady animals are swarming the place.” 

Sigmund hid and listened as the men spoke. 

“Still don’t know who’d be willing to do that kind of thing with a beast.  But, guess Mr. Nicholas knows more about his business than me.”

“Wasn’t that thing wearing clothes though?”

“I’ve seen a fox in a top hat in the past week.  People put all sorts of things on their pets. Besides, even if it did get inside they’d have been waiting for it.” Sigmund tensed. 

“Yeah.  Makes our job really easy doesn’t it?”

One of the men laughed “Except making ourselves a target if they want to snipe us back.”
“You mean there could be someone watching us right now?” another replied, sounding nervous. 

“Could be.  Hopefully they’re smart enough to just drop this nonsense.” said the first voice. “Sides, you don’t want to go your whole life and die old do you?” 

Laughing ensued. Sigmund decided they were distracted enough and looped a rope around the chimney. Gripping it tightly, he started to descend. Inch by inch, he climbed lower, careful not to touch the sides of the chimney. Voices could be heard from below. He stopped just above the lip of the fireplace and listened. 

The room bustled with sounds typical of a brothel. Girls sweet talking their clients and giggling at their bad jokes. Sigmund lowered himself just enough to see the feet of those in the room. As he moved, some soot fell from the chimney. He quickly pulled himself back into the shadows. 

A pair of feet approached and a man stuck his head into the fireplace. Sigmund stayed perfectly still. The figure grunted something about cats and closed the chimney latch, leaving the sloth in the darkness. Sigmund lowered himself to the thin metal sheet now blocking his path and listened. 

A gruff voice spoke from near the fireplace “ Animals everywhere. You’d think we’d just put them all in a stew and eat them all. That’s what we’d do back home.” 

Sigmund stayed quiet and listened. The voice continued “What you should be doing to that cat upstairs instead of all this talk of de-clawing and breaking her.”

No one else in the room seemed interested in the mans words, but Sigmund felt a sudden urge to tear the offending voice box from the speakers throat. He felt for a way to open the latch. It was no good. The latch only opened from inside the room. 

The gruff bumpian seemed to have given up talking to the room. Conversations resumed. At least Beryl was alive. There was nothing else he could do. He started climbing back up the rope. Scraping from his claws on the grate must have drawn the attention of the belligerent man below as his gruff voice echoed up the chimney “I’m gonna burn the thing out.” 
Sigmund picked up his pace and reached the top. Hooking his claws over the lip of the chimney, he peeked out. None of the guards appeared to be looking, so he climbed down to the roof, headed for the rear of the building and started to descend. 

The alley was quite crowded. Urchins, beggars, thieves and people who looked like they were trying not to look like anything. Several pairs of eyes watched the sloth climb down the side of the building. One of the smaller urchins puffed out his chest and approached the furry creature. 

“Don’t suppose yer heard nuthing in there?” he whispered. 

Sigmund eyed the child nervously. He didn’t know him or who he might be working for. He squeaked at the child “Never trust the Jaguars calls”, a saying from his home. 
The Urchin shrugged, not understanding the sloth’s speech. His friends giggled at the cute creature. Looking disappointed that Sigmund apparently couldn’t speak, he turned away and went back to his hiding place. 

Sigmund slipped into another alley and walked as fast as his sloth legs would carry him back to Mr Firecrest to relay the news. 

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