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A Dangerous Con: While the World Burns

  “What do you think you’re doing, Beryl?”  Nicholas asked as he closed on her slowly, his darkened face showed no signs of easing as he neared.  Behind him a half dressed woman was refastening her black corset, explaining his absence at the party.  

    Beryl backed into the corner away from him and didn’t respond.  He placed a hand against the wall as he towered over her menacingly, “I asked what are you doing?!”

  She felt his hold on her, but she couldn’t betray the urchins.  She kept her silence as he raised his hand and struck her with his full strength.  The feline crumpled to the ground, her head pounding with another blow to her old injury.  She gripped it as he picked her up by the dress. 

  “Trying to take the money and run were you!?  Well, you can’t get away from me Beryl!”  Veins were throbbing in his neck as he shouted, spittle flying in her face from the force of his threats. He struck her in the abdomen in his fury. “None of my girls get away from me until they are no use at all!”  

  He struck her again in her lower ribs, she doubled piteously as the blow sent her to the floor coughing.  She tried to crawl away, her rubbery claws failing to get any traction as he kicked her.  The other woman watched her suffering with a cold smile as Mr. Herding gave in to his passion, “You’re mine cat!  Even after all of this, you’re mine until the day you die!”

  “Then just do to me what you did to Amnelys!” She cried pathetically from the floor as she curled into the fetal position and closed her eyes.  

  Nicholas halted his assault, surprised by a name he hadn’t heard in years.  “What was that?”

  “Everyone told me what you did to her!”  She said, raising her head from her position on the floor.  Her vision still unclear as she wobbled.  “Just do it and get it over with!”

   He stared at her a short time his dark face full of malice before he nodded, “Very well.  I was hoping to avoid that, but from now on Diamond, Trixie, and my special friend Vanity behind us will see to your ‘training’.”  The woman seemed to smile wickedly at the feline, a snakelike grin that promised to bring pain.  “Mine has been the gentle caress of a lover compared to what they will demand and do to you.”

  Beryl turned away from the woman and back to Nicholas, hissing, “I meant kill me like you killed her and all those other girls!” Beryl could see his outline more clearly. “I heard you murdered Amnelys and countless others!!”

  “Where did you hear that nonsense?!”  He sounded offended by the accusation.  “Who told you that?!  Who?!”

  “Captain Heinrichs tried to warn me the militia investigated you, but I didn’t trust her!” She studied his face closely as she sat up clutching her old wound, forcibly having to keep her blue eye closed to focus. “If you’re going to kill me you might as well just admit it!  At least it’s legal this time!  You’ll just be shooting a looter, right?!”

  “What profit is there in a dead woman?!” Nicholas shouted as his nerves betrayed him.  He was caught up in the chaos outside that threatened to draw nearer. He kicked her again and shook his head while he sneered. “I have never killed any of my girls!  That’s utter tripe! All I do is keep them in line!”

  Nicholas stood over her, and she could hear the truth in his rage filled confession. He was too caught up in his emotions to lie, and if he wanted to kill her he could do it legally.  She had broken into his office during a riot making her death one of a looting trespasser.  

  “I understand, Mr. Herding,”  If he did not want to kill her legally, when he believed her guilty of far worse crimes than Amnelys, then he was innocent as she had suspected. She nodded once and rose to her feet shakily.  “That is what I needed to know.  Thank you for your cooperation.”

 “Did I say you could rise?!”  Nicholas punched forward, but the time when she would allow it had come to an end.  She dodged to the side though her unsteady feet were not ready for the paper littered floor.  

  She slid unsteadily on the debris and his second blow to her abdomen landed hard.  It would have felled a normal woman, but Beryl was done pretending to be weak.  She stepped back and set herself into a boxing stance.  

  He didn’t recognize the trained pose as he attacked with fury alone.  She deflected his second jab with her right arm.  He never got another attack in as she delivered a haymaker, leaping up and connecting with his lower jaw. The unexpected attack and the force behind it caught him by complete surprise as he fell back nursing his broken smile.  

  The feline might have had a harder fight, especially with her head still searing in pain, if Nicholas hadn’t assumed he was superior to her and took no care to guard himself.  She turned to face the woman who had watched the encounter and stepped forward with a knife in hand.  Bery crouched down like a feral animal hissing as she tore off her lower skirt.  The woman halted, then looked at Nicholas on the floor.  They dropped the knife as she saw the way she moved on all fours towards her menacingly, baring her teeth.

  She walked back to the desk as Nicholas moaned pitifully.  The two watched her confused for a moment, especially when she tossed several purses aside uncaringly.  The procurer wasn’t an idiot though, and soon realized that she had been a plant from someone.  She ignored his dagger filled stare as she asked, “Did you happen to keep Amnelys letter that you ripped?”

  He did not respond through his swollen jaw.  He looked to be readying himself for revenge.  She shook her head, trying to remain focused, “Mr. Nicholas, from the start my presence has been intended to save your life.  There are people, Amnelys father for example, who wanted you dead believing you killed his only daughter.”  She was certain he was deceased, but he did not know that. “They do not care whether or not you are innocent and they still don’t.  We need that letter to prove your innocence and perhaps point their rage in another direction.  As it is, if you don’t leave town tonight you may still be killed.”

  The look of concern in Nicholas’s eyes showed he believed her.  She could see the question in his eyes, wondering who she had really been all this time.  The familiar offered no explanation.  Finally, the man deflated, realizing New Babbage was too dangerous for his enterprise to continue.  

  He indicated a safe underneath a floorboard which the other woman opened and together the two departed quickly with his money which was split into two very large bags. Beryl overheard as he ordered her to gather his girls over the next few days and the train stop where they should rendezvous.  The woman agreed as they both went to get changed and disguised, but the nasty look she gave Beryl seemed to be one that promised this was not over between them.  Perhaps Nicholas had given her up, but her expression implied she intended to settle their account while in town.

  When they left Nicholas bitterly left Beryl with the letter she had fought so hard to obtain…

    …had to turn down a short, fat and ugly —who smelled like he had never had a bath in his entire life.  No need to tell you he wasn’t pleased…
    He got hold of my wrists, threatened to kill me if I didn’t comply, but it was more than I could bear and I broke free and ran away from him.
    I will give this letter to one of the urchins in the hope they will know how to find you.
    Please tell Daddy how sorry I am and try to convince him by any means!
    I will go to the Piermont Landing Engineer  Ball.  You can find me there and bring me his reply.

 With Love,

  Strifeclaw sighed as her long ordeal had come to an end.  The letter had not proven Nicholas’s innocence for sure, but his refusal to even legally kill was enough character evidence for her.  It still gave Fly a new lead and perhaps someone like Diamond or the other girls could single out the short fellow who never bathed.  She had a few guesses from the description, but without more evidence…her head throbbed when she tried to think too much about it.  

  She realized she was now free to walk out that door and leave his service.  When he struck her he had broken his bargain, and she had fulfilled all her other promises, even the one to Cyan.  Nicholas hadn’t had any iron on him, and he had not threatened her life so she had done as she always intended from the first day.  Get a confession from him while he felt in control and enraged.  Feeling free she walked to the front door of this home and looked outside.

  The torrential downpour continued unabated and chaos ruled the streets.  Her allies continued to fight desperate to get through the sea of bodies and fighters trying to subdue everyone else.  She thought she heard Hyde screaming for everyone to get out of his way.  She did not know it, but not one soul in the city knew why the fight had started nor where it grew out of control. Only the people in the street even knew where it had begun, and they were all pulled into the fight in one way or another willingly or not.

  She turned to walk back to ‘her’ room.  She could be free in the morning after everyone sorted out their madness, when she heard the front door thrown open and Russell cried out her name.  From the sound of it, Nicholas and Vanity were rushing out the back door escaping.

  Beryl sat on the floor and rested herself there instead, eyes closed waiting for Russell and the others to come to her.  She would never admit it but her head still throbbed and the thunder, shouting, and constant drumming of the rain against the roof was not helping.

   ~Fin: A Dangerous Con~

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  1. Russell -AdventureRuss- Firecrest Russell -AdventureRuss- Firecrest August 2, 2016

    Flinging the door open, Russell ran inside. The right side of his face had swollen and his eye wouldn’t open. Through blurred vision, he scanned the room. Two figures were by the back door, a woman in red and a man in a heavy raincoat, carrying two large bags. Neither resembled Beryls feline figure. Ignoring them, the beleaguered adventurer ran upstairs, shouting for his friend.

    Beryls room was empty. Feral cats that had followed him inside started to swarm the building. Russell’s mind started to cloud as his nightmare filled his vision. He started kicking open the doors to the other rooms, finding them empty.

    Russell descended the stairs in a panic. Still shouting for Beryl, he searched everywhere he could think of. After a moment, he noticed a door in the wall joining the house to the one next door, hanging open. Howling of cats came from the other side. He slowly approached and pushed it open.

    Beryl sat on the ground as several cats walked on her mewing, and she did not move, her eyes were closed.

    “Beryl!” shouted the adventurer.

    The feline grimaced slightly at his loud shout and turned to him slowly, “Yes Mr. Russell….I’m…I’m alive and….I’m fine.”

    “You’re alright?”

    “Some bruises,” she replied gripping her head miserably, hoping it would subside.  A crash through the front window interrupted them and she cringed slightly.  “And a horrid headache.  He hit me again.”

    Russell looked around, starting to draw the sword from his cane “Where is he?”

    “He left.  Him and a woman named Vanity just a minute ago.” She replied with difficulty. She
    looked up at the adventurer “Russell, Mr. Nicholas was not the killer…but that other woman….”

    He looked back to the door “In a red coat?”

    think perhaps…” She blinked, trying to remember. The cat looked
    very concerned when she spoke of the woman.

    Russell listened, leaning heavily against the wall.

    “Are you okay Mr. Russell?” whispered the cat, looking up with concerned eyes.

    He didn’t answer. Closing his non swollen eye, he sank slowly to the softly carpeted floor and didn’t move.

  2. John Wright John Wright August 3, 2016

    Wright dashed towards the brothel, pulling his Mauser pistol from it’s secure and dry holster beneath his coat as he ran inside. The wolf paused at the doorway, water dripping from his coat ant tail onto the floor and he aimed the pistol around the room, checking all angles before calling out to his friends.

    “Beryl? Anyone in here?” Wright called out into the house as he surveyed the scene. Shattered champagne flutes littered the floor, along with the other broken remnants of the party that had gone on, just moments before it erupted into a violent riot.

     “Wright?”  She called out quietly, and he noted the cats filling the building, hissing at him to stay away, many of them clustered defensively around the entertainment den, and the door beyond.

    The wolf moved cautiously forward through the hissing cats towards the den. There were startled shrieks as tails were stepped on, and wright felt the sting of claws and teeth at his feet. Still he went forth towards the room where Beryl lay. Upon entering he saw Beryl, laying on the floor, the other cats seeming to protect her. It took him a moment to notice Russ was there too, slumped against the wall.

    “Beryl. Russ? My god, are you alright?” He said dashing forward to examine both for wounds.

    Russ answered groggily “I’m… fine… help… Be…” The human couldn’t even manage to finish one sentence before lapsing into unconsciousness.

    “I’m fine….really.  Russell isn’t….he just collapsed…” Beryl replied.

    Wright looked over at Beryl, and then back to Russ. The cat showed no obvious signs of distress and it was their more coherent word against Russ, so the wolf went against Russ’ order to help her and instead hoisted the man over his shoulder and carried him out the back door. He noted the scent of several people at the door, still fresh, but whatever trail they had left would have washed away in the rain.

    The Wolf sighed, deciding then and there that his friend’s well being was more important than his desire to see one man pay for harming his “pack”. Instead he turned down the alley and carried his unconscious friend to the hospital and left him with the nurses.

  3. Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs August 3, 2016

    Bookworm’s first impulse was to go after Miss Domino, but she knew now was not the time. Someone had to attempt to take charge of the chaos here. But first…

    She looked down at Mariah, who was busily shredding her trouser legs and bandaging her wound. “How are you?”

    “I’ve had worse,” the older woman grunted, finishing the rather haphazard bandage.

    “Can you walk?” Bookworm reached down and helped Mariah to her feet. She slowly put some weight on it, and nodded. “Good,” the captain continued. “Get to the hospital and have that seen to. Warn them that they’re likely going to get a lot more patients soon. And call Militia headquarters – have them round up every Militia member and send them down here. They’ll need to construct perimeter barriers if we’re going to have any hope of containing this riot.”

    Mariah didn’t waste any time with words, but began immediately limping away, her sword still out in case anyone tried to attack her. Bookworm began scanning the crowd, looking for anyone she could consider to be on her side. At least she was one of the few who wasn’t being attacked by the feral cats. She wondered idly, as she plunged into a particularly nasty fight, hoping to break it up, if that was due to her association with Beryl, or with Lisa…

  4. Count Bologna Count Bologna August 3, 2016

    Bologna was exiting Loki’s Absinthe, feeling more than a little loose when he noticed the crowd on the streets seemed more boisterous than usual.  People were throwing brickbats at one another, and there seemed to be an awful lot of kicking. “Say, what’s the story here, my fine fellow?” Bologna asked a passing man holding a cobblestone in one hand.

    “Riot!” the man spat, as if it were obvious.

    “Riot?” Bologna mumbled to himself, looking around at the chaos on the streets. “And me having left my helmet at home.”

    He watched a brute of a man grab a wriggling hissing and spitting feral cat from the crowd and toss it through a nearby window. That gave the Count an idea.

    He stepped back inside Loki’s, and when the barkeep was turned he slipped around the bar and into the back room, out the back door. He crept through the courtyard, then down an alley which led to Jefferson. He quickly crossed the street without getting pummeled, then darted down the alley behind the opium den. “And they mocked me for wearing a helmet,” he mumbled to himself in the dark alleys. “who’s laughing now?”

    Another bend or two in the narrow bricked passageways, and he was in front of the house of the widow Vanderclamp. And she was at the opera.

    He looked around, to make certain nobody was looking directly at him, then fished out a loose cobble from the road. “Riot!” he called out, one hand cupped around his mouth, then tossed the cobble through a dark window.

    He used another cobble to knock out the loose glass shards, then hopped up to climb through the window. “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” he reminded himself as he fell to the widow Vanderclamp’s floor, thick with plush carpeting.



  5. Nyanka Jinx Nyanka Jinx August 3, 2016

    It is only natural for a predator to live off the prey they consume. Tonight, Hyde was sure he was the predator, and the lady in red was his prey.

    Tracking her down was fairly simple once he saw what he was looking for. Her red gown stood out against the drudgery of the rain and the rioters strewn about. So many people fighting… Hyde would follow the woman down into the alleys, where there were less obstacles and witnesses.

    Less people to see him hasten his pace, catch up with her from behind, and grab at her.

    The poor woman was caught off guard. She had not expected anyone to see her, clearly. To her credit, Hyde hadn’t expected her to be carrying a dagger. How wildly she swung at him in her panic. Perhaps if the weather was clear, perhaps if she had seen him earlier… She would have gotten away.

    As the lady in red lay there, dazed on the wet cobblestone, Hyde could finally have a good look at her. Her raven locks rested on her shoulders, her arms showing more muscular definition than a typical woman… He could see the ribs of the corset she was wearing underneath her soaked crimson dress…

    He vaguely remembered seeing this woman at the brothel, but did not recognize her clearly. The bag she was carrying, though, was a long carpet bag of reasonable quality, had a very familiar name engraved on it: Nicholas Herding.

    Hyde quickly threw the woman over his shoulder, tucking her bag under his shoulder. Yes… If he can’t take it out on Nick himself, one of his beautiful women will have to do. He ran down the alleys as fast as he could, before the scattered militia could regroup and form a decent road block.

  6. Beatrixe Rouse Beatrixe Rouse August 5, 2016

    The wet streets were filled with madness as the people devolved into looters and ruffians.  Sanity was driven out by the clarrion call that brought out the worst in everyone who heard its bellow repeated, “Riot!”  

    “RIOT!”  Beatrixe responded eagerly as she held up her hammer and wrench high above her head.  There was no way she was going to miss the action once she heard the message.  She and many others like her had run home to get their tools and threw themselves into the mess to help.  

    Her skirt had been ripped off within the first few minutes, but she was still dressed decently enough.  She had come to help like many others, though most were not sure who they were supposed to help.  Since she didn’t recognize anyone in the rain, which interfered greatly with her eye, she swung her hammer at men who ‘looked’ evil.  Three times she wondered where the evil men had gotten militia uniforms, but she caught them by surprise and ran off before they got back up.

    Things were going well until she wandered into a patch of urchins who asked if she was thirsty…

  7. Cyan Rayna Cyan Rayna August 5, 2016

    Cyan and the urchins dragged Fly into the theater while the riot continued further away. They figured they were safe there but didn’t trust Fly to go back so they tied him down to one of the theater seats. Cyan placed the gun down on stage and sighed, glad to be away from the chaos.

    “ So I guess we just wait that out then? Do you think they’ll take it this far?” Cyan said as he started to relax sitting on the side of the stage.

    Teddy shrugged pathetically, “Don’t know. Wonder what set em off like that?”

    Myrtil wanted to know what happened and so did the other urchins who came below. While Cyan and the others tried to explain the sounds of the riot grew outside. One of the urchins suggested that they might want to block the door. Since the theater was rather old the seats were relatively easy to detach, but they were heavy. All the urchin but Fly had to lift the seats and place in front of the doors, just in time for the doors to be banged on by the rioters outside.

    Fly yelled from the theater “Let me out, I’ll take care of em!”

    Everyone ignored him as they braced the seats and thought about their next plan.

  8. Beryl Strifeclaw Beryl Strifeclaw August 5, 2016


      What began as crazed men and women affected by Qismah’s potion grew exponentially out of control.  The militia was outnumbered and the blackhearts took advantage of the confusion and violence.  Cat burglars absconded with family heirlooms, windows and works of art were smashed, grudges were settled, and turfs were being rewritten in a single evening.  

       The urchins, unable to get Fly to the hidden shelter above had to tie him down in the Theater.  They had no choice when the mobs spread to Loki’s absinthe but to defend their own territory the way they did best.  The cobbles near the Imperial soon became slick with oils, foul stenches filled the area, and armed urchins waited near the entrances.  

       Those crazed by Qismah’s potion did not answer questions or speak except with violence, which even the young Tepic learned the hard way.  A single tap at their shoulder or side and they rounded with an assault to where a grown man would have been standing.  He made it clear of them, and kept giving others who he felt deserved it the drink.  Unfortunately, most of them were militia guards like the one who had tried to subdue Mr. Hyde.

       Mariah eventually stumbled into the hospital where Kasa treated her quietly.  The head nurse lamented that she would not be here to help tomorrow as she was supposed to go on vacation to deliver Quillman’s ashes.  The barricades were eventually reinforced by militia-men and women as well as their volunteers, some of which hadn’t been seen in uniform in ages.

       The barricades were lined at the bridges and more than once they were broken through, but they held mostly, and were resecured quickly splitting the rioters apart.  Slowly the violence, and the storm began to die down in exhaustion.  The street was littered with tired bodies and people were escorted to the hospital.  The injured toll was high, but so far no one had been found killed.  The Captains yawned as they were left sorting the mess until dawn broke the next morning.

       Bookworm was not pleased to find the people she wanted to speak with the most were slowly disappearing or nowhere to be found.  It had taken some time to confirm from Wisp and others that the fighting started inside Nicholas Herding’s establishment.  The man had never been seen and his girls, guests and guards had no memory of the evening and they were slowly slipping out of the overcrowded hospital.  Even Bookworms own plant in the building could not explain what had come over him that made him join the fight.

      Given the situation held no rational explanation for a beginning even with a militia spy in tow, most were prepared to blame the strange evening on the hallucinogenic effects of Marsh Gas.  It was as rational an explination as any of them could manage, and blood work would later confirm strange substances had influenced them.  

       The exhausted Captain knew that this investigation was not over.  If the riot was caused by some foreign substance she would have to investigate the area throughly to ensure it was safe and would never happen again.  For now though she was ready to get some sleep when Wright asked her if she had seen Beryl.  He had been certain that she would have gotten her, and the Captain had assumed her other friends would have eventually aided their feline friend.  Some would have, but with the bridges still closed to public use they had been denied travel back repeatedly.  

      The Captain set herself, despite her protesting muscles and drooping eyelids, to get a cup of coffee and return to Herding’s Brothel. Her quiet trek through the deserted wet streets made her feel like the area had fallen into a state of martial law, though she supposed it had in a sense.  At the very least, she might use this Marsh Gas investigation to greatly interfere with Ms. Solano’s expansion operations.  

      When she reached the bordello, she inched her way through the building to where Wright had claimed to see Beryl last.  She wasn’t there.

      “Beryl!”  Bookworm called out with growing concern.  There was no immediate response as she searched the building calling out her name until she heard a vague response from upstairs.  She found the feline resting in a room surrounded by cats, while her friend was laid on the bed eyes closed.  She moved closer, but the felines hissed lightly and she kept a respectful distance. “Beryl?  Are you alright?”

      “Yes, I am.”  The feline opened her eyes slightly and looked at Book tired. “I had a long night is all.”

      “Did Nicholas or anyone else hurt you?” The Captain studied the feline closely, wondering if she recalled the night before unlike her other witnesses.

      “Yes, but that isn’t important,” Beryl sat up in the bed, letting the cats move and stretch as some woke up yawning.  

      Bookworm rolled her eyes at the response, but guessed she would not elaborate on the subject.  “Do you at least know where Nicholas is?  I believe he has much to answer for.”

      “I don’t care where Nicholas Herding has gone,” Beryl replied quietly while she shut her eyes.  “If he took my advice he’s fled the city and will never return.”

      “What?!”  Bookworm shouted as Beryl confessed to aiding her prime suspect in a cold murder case escape.  “What about Amneyls?  Did he kill her!?”

      “No, Captain.  He did not and I know it for certain.” Beryl responded with confidence in her tone as she sat taller. “If he was a killer he could have killed me earlier tonight, legally, when he thought I was looting from him.  He’s not a murderer.”  Seeing the Captains distress she added, “Since he intended to spare my life, I told him what he needed to spare his own.  Fortunately, I do have the other half of Amnelys Copperfields letter.”

      “Does it have anything useful?”  She inquired with hope that was ready to turn into resignation.

      “You can determine that after I deliver it to it’s intended recipient, Captain.”  The feline saw Bookworm about to argue so she continued quickly, “Fly has been waiting two years to read it.  He should be the first one.  It will be the last thing he has to remember her by.”

      Book caught herself as she considered Beryl’s proposal.  Eventually, she exhaled and nodded conceding the justice in it.

      “I’m sure he will make a copy of it, when he is ready,” She said trying to reassure the Captain she would have her chance to further her own investigation again.  The urchins had only asked the feline to investigate Nicholas, not beyond.  “Do you mind helping me out of this place?  I can walk now, but I’m not sure if the roads are safe yet.”

      “Of course, Beryl.  I will escort you wherever you need.”  She offered her hand, keeping it away from the cats, and Beryl took it rising.  The cat looked at their red dress and then back to Bookworm.

      “I need to get to Clockhaven if it isn’t too much trouble,” She used her tail to flick at her lower skirt.  “Erica has all my usual clothes saved there.”

      Bookworm smiled and led Beryl out of the brothel and into the morning light.  The sun was surprisingly visible after the storm making the feline blink a few times as their eyes adjusted. Unbeknownst to her, Nicholas was looking at the same sun out of a transports window.  He would wait a few days for Vanity and the girls to catch up before he took his money and started completely over from scratch.


  9. Mr Underby Mr Underby August 5, 2016

    Underby was sitting at a table in the back of the Bucket of Blood eagerly awaiting the first payment from Mr Herding’s establishment in Babbage Square.  Dot Hook brought over a tumbler and a bottle of his personal stock from the floorboards behind the bar, then slipped away without a word.

    A round figure in dark robes sat at a table next to Underby’s, his back against the wall. He signaled to a passing waitress for some Ravilan Red, then sat with his head slightly bowed, seemingly smiling to himself.

    Underby spoke to the figure without looking over: “I wasn’t expecting you until later. Are you permitted to be seen in an establishment such as this?”

    Father Vorpal similarly answered without looking over: “You forget, I am of the Beatific School of the Builder. In our school, all things are the work of the Builder. So why should I abstain?”

    “Mm, Touché.” Underby replied. “Did you leave the payment with Deuce at the bar?”

    “I did not.”

    Underby almost looked over, but caught himself. He rubbed his chin and poured himself another drink. “And pray tell, why not?”

    “There was no payment to be had. Mr. Herding’s establishment is no more.”

    Underby licked his teeth. “Go on.”

    “The riot in Babbage Square last night, you no doubt heard about, emenated from there. He is gone. The girls are gone. The guards are gone. Even the militia plant is gone. It is over, Mr Underby. Before it even began for you.”

    “Your commentary on the situation is unneccesary.” 

    “But oh so enjoyable. Even emotions are the work of the Builder, you see. Level be thy plain.” the clergyman said with a bit of a laugh. He took another sip of his wine, watching a crowd of men sway with arms around one another’s shoulders singing some horridly vulgar drinking song.

    “You say the rioting emenated from within the establishment?” Underby asked.

    “Indeed it did.”

    Underby rubbed at his chin again, pouring another drink. “That horrid little . . .” he mumbled, then stood up and walked out of the Bucket. Twenty minutes later he was at his desk in Clockhaven. He began to write a message:

    To: Cpt Hienrichs

    Please send whatever information you have about participants in last evening’s riot. Someone must be billed for damages incurred.



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