(just adding this. feel free to use it for rp, I’m game. If not, that’s ok too).
His father had taken him hunting for the first time on one of his rare leaves of duty. The local Metropolitan had gifted the illustrious Colonel Mackinaw Spires with a day of private hunting on Church owned land in the country.
They crouched in the early morning hours behind a thicket of reeds, faces chilled by nearly freezing rain, but their bodies covered with insulated and camoflaughed nanofiber. Father and son, in the cold mud, in a pond overlooking ducks going about duck business.
Young Jon Spires could simply hit a duck in the eye with a gauss rifle. He was a crack shot even then, but fowling was a traditional thing, his father said. The old man loved tradition. A member of the military caste, he saw an army career for his son, or perhaps even the elite Imperial Protectors. Jon privately new his future lay in the skies with the Armada. It was just a quiet joy to be in his father’s company today, regardless of the temperature, or the silly things it took to kill a duck with arcane weaponry.
“Feel the lay of the land, get to know it quickly before you act. See the detail the Builder leaves written in his algorithm, my son. Hear it, feel it.” a hand was on his shoulder. His father blew into the old wooden duck call.
“Squeeze the trigger. Don’t pull.”
The birds alighted. Son raised a shotgun and fired.
They ate over a campfire that night.
The last barge for the day had left the Wheatstone Coal Yard. The cranes were unmanned, and the skeleton work crew had wandered off to homes and watering holes.
Spires lowered the protective fence panels and allowed the full evening sky to filter through the glass seawall of his hidden home. Life was.. well it was pretty good, actually.
He saw a man pass by the windows and look inward, unable to see through the glare on the glass, and was soon banging on the metal that served as a door. “Mr Spires, I must speak with you.”
Dressed for evening in a smoking jacket, trousers and slippers, Spires really was not prepared for guests, but he opened the door anyway.
A spectacled man in a lopsided topper and striped suit of clothes stepped in without being asked.
“You’re welcome,” Spires said, curiously. “And you are?”
“Ah, ” the main replied nervously, “Campbell. The coroner.”
“Well Mr Ah Campbell The Coroner you seem to know me, and you certainly have no probem making entrances. I was about to read a book. What do you want?”
Campbell seemed to have found his fortitude at last. “I speak to you of a grave matter.”
“Coroners usually speak of matters pertaining to the grave.” Spires repliedd, “I usually speeak of coal. It is like a grave but somewhat older. Still, I’ll listen.” He had decided not to offer the visitor a drink.
“A body was found in a pond at Jefty’s field, north of the wall.”
Spires did his best not to show reaction. So it finally happened. He’d seen bodies a-plenty, but he wasn’t sure what 5 months of decomposition would do to his.. to the other Jonathon Spire’s features.
“Terrible.” he said, only.
“Had some trouble identifying it.” the coroner explained. “Mysteries are my passion, you see. There’s very little law enforcement beyond the usual payment for justice, and therefore familes of murdered victims tend to reward my services for the closest identification possible. We coroners keep a list of persons declared missing. This body was not missing, so it intrigued me.”
“Murdered, you say.”
“I did. Shot to gut. Multiple fractures as well. It was a broken neck that got him, though.”
“Sounds like the victim had a bad day.” Spires remarked. He still hadn’t offered him a seat and wasn’t taking one himself.
“An understatement. I became curious and found signs of a nearby airship crash. Most of the material had been ..hastilly removed, but there remained one or two pieces. Are you familiar with magpies?”
The Magpie. Jonathon Spire’s personal airship. Tangled in the rigging of the larger Armada airship. His own airship attacked by an angel, burning, falling. The fight aboard the Magpie.. the portal..
“Not very. I was never a birdwatcher.”
“It was the name of an an airship that belonged to a local businessman. To you, actually.”
“And that is between me and my insurance company.” Spires said gravely.
“I won’t labour the point, sir. I used dental records and other details to ascertain. The body.. is yours. Would you care to explain how that could be?” Campbell said, drawing a gray revolver from a pocket and pointing it from the hip.
“I would care not to.” Spires admitted. “Put that away, man. You’re in over your head.”
He’d drawn a pistol. That meant he’d come alone. The authorities were not notified. The man wanted money.
“How much?” Spires asked, sighing.
Campbell flashed a knowing smile. “1,000 pounds and I forget the entire thing. Needn’t worry. Babbage coroners see stranger things. We keep our secrets.”
“I do not keep that kind of cash lying about.”
“Don’t lie to me. Your transactions per day are worth more than that, due to buying and selling. You keep the money in a safe.” The man had thought that much through, at least, though his hold on the pistol was proof he had never aimed at a person before. He was nerverous, excited, scared. He was pointing the gun almost point blank, as if he’d read every bad scene in the penny dreadfuls and thought that they were instruction manuals.
Spires spun on a heel, lowering his knees , catching the man’s gun arm with his off, hand, and blocking it with his hip. The pistol discharged into a wall. A single action revovler, the corner couldn’t bring his left arm to recock, as Spires had his other hand smash into Campell’s nose as a distraction while his other arm moved down from the blocking hold and wrenched Campbell’s thumb backwards, hyperextending it. The gun fell.
Completing his rotation, with the training he’d been tought once in Mindinao, he armbarred the corner and put his neck into a chokehold. Campbell was suprisingly strong. People fighting for their lives generally came up with hidden reserves, but Spires was stronger.
“I am so sorry.” He whispered as he killed the coroner, strangling the breath out of him. He meant it.
Late that night an improvized grenade made out of three sticks of dynamite surrounded by tenpenny nails wrapped in barbed wire blew up the coroner’s office. The doused benzene across the floor as accelerant would burn up the coroner and one rotted corpse and anything else inside of it.