John Wright came to the front door of the decrepit Barrone Insurance office, the entrance boarded up and barred like it had been abandoned, yet from inside he could see some movement.
He peered through the grimy windows and grumbled in frustration. “Can’t believe this is an insurance office.”
He looked around for another entrance, but the figure within suddenly moved towards the door.
“We are closed for the day, sir.” The man said curtly.
“And for the foreseeable future.” He added
“I have need of an underwriter.” Wright Said, reaching into his pocket and removing a small gold bar. He hated having to waste it as a bribe, having gone to great lengths to retrieve it and a few others from one of his many hiding places. He sighed slightly and held it up to the grimy window, hoping the man’s greed would get the better of him.
“Ah! Well then!” The man said, his tone suddenly very jovial. Greed it was then, the wolf thought to himself as he began concocting the lie he would tell Mr Richfeild.
“You have come to the right place, though it is some rather bad timing…”
Wright put on his best fake smile. “I’m sure that won’t matter, is there some other way I may enter and discuss business.”
There came a sigh from inside the office ‘There is a back entrance. I will unlock the door for you when you get there.” Richfield said. Wright could hear him move around the office and head upstairs, he meanwhile, headed around the back to the stairs. The old wooden fire escape was just as old and decrepit as the rest of the building, Wright held fast to the crumbling masonry of the office walls, sure that one foul step would send the entire staircase crashing into the cobbles below. When he reached the top he could hear the sound of locks being undone, several of them. The wolf took a moment to consider the man’s paranoia as he kept building the story he was about to spin before the door finally opened.
“Come in. Do not mind the mess too much. It is my own and not representative of the company themselves.” Wright figured that was a lie, either that or Richfield was their most incompetent employee and had been sent to New Babbage as a form of company punishment.
Wright Straightened his tie, brushed the brich dust off his suit and removed his hat before speaking “Evenin sir,” He said, feigning as much warmth and politeness as he could. “Is there a place where we can discuss business?”
Mr. Richfield pointed to the lower floor “Downstairs. Follow me, my good man.”
Wright followed Richfield into the office and pulled up a a rotten chair as the underwriter got down to business.
“Now, what kind of policy were you interested in sir?”
Wright considered for a moment. The wolf adjusted his tie again, the expensive looking silk rolling over his fingers and started with the only mostly true statementshe would say to the man adjusts his tie, the expensive looking silk rolling over his fingers. “I’m looking for someone to insure a shipment of mine, I was told that your fine establishment..”He trails off and looked around at the squalid office, almost slipping up. “Could be of some help in the matter.”
Mr. Richfield smiled ruefully at the phrase ‘fine establisment’. “Yes, though we would need to know what we were insuring against.” Wright watched the man’s expression, clearly he had touched a nerve.
“And where it is going is fairly important as well.” He paused, looking up at the wolf, studying him carefully, this did not go unnoticed by the wolf who was studying the man intently as well.
“The shipment in question Is Six Hundred Thousand U.S. Dollars in Gold and Silver Bullion, to be transferred in it’s entirety from the First National Bank of San Francisco to the Vaults of the Bank of England in London, excepting fifty thousand to be shipped to New Babbage. I need to Insure it against loss and theft.” That was the only thing he said that had any truth to it, he did indeed have the large fortune hidden away, he neglected to mention the exceptionally strict security required to remove even a single bar, and wouldn’t dare mention the fact that it was currently inaccessable due to a series of outstanding warrants that would land the wolf in jail if he so much as set foot in America.
Mr. Richfield continued “Standard procedure then. The rate for the transfer to London will be a standard fee for shipment of materials and a percentage for the risk taken. For the fifty thousand to New Babbage I’m afraid that will not be a standard amount.”
“New Babbage rates are four times the shipment to London.”
John nodded “You will be well compensated, personally of course.” He said pausing for a moment before continuing. “Now the Gold bound for New Babbage has a specific recipient, whom i would like to get into contact with immediately.” Now came the big lie, Wright figured Richfeild would do one of three things, that his greed would get the better of him and he’d go all in, that he’d be savy enough to call the bluff, though Wright serously doubted he’d be that brave. The final option, was that Richfield would fold and run, the odds currently stood at 50/50 and the wolf watched the man’s expression for a clue of how he would react.
“I see. Whom shall I be making it out to then?”
Wright watched the man, his expression was moving from greedy glee, to concern. Fold and run it was then. The wolf would go all in then, scare him into running, he would slip up and there John would catch his prize. “A miss Hally Xiang, as a Political donation to her “cause”.” the wolf said matter of factly.
Mr. Richfield sighed audibly. He was obviously lamenting how he was now stuck with the wolf. “I do not want to have anything to do with Miss Xiang…” he said pausing “Not that I am claiming to know where she is.” Bingo. Wright new it would only take a little more before Richfield cracked. The wolf observed the man rubbing his temples gingerly, this was going to be fun. Wright sat straight and placed the bar of gold on Mr Richfeild’s desk. He slid it slowly towards him “Mr Richfeild, I represent i powerful conglomeration of businessmen and politicians. Both Wall Street and Washington believe that it’s Time for a Change in New Babbage. To a governing body more willing to trade with american businesses.”
The wolf slowly started to hate himself more as he spoke, the words coming out of his mouth sounded exactly like something his Sleazeball older brother would say at some back room Senate deal. “Miss Xiang is that change, and as such is very important to us, Any help you can provide, both in insuring our shipments, and providing us information will be richly rewarded.” The wolf said. Bribery, perjury, and political upheavals, he honestly didn’t know how Patrick could do this on a daily basis. He removed his paw from the gold and waited for Richfield, smiling cordially all the while.
Mr. Richfield eyed the gold bar ruefully, but then looked back at the wolf. “I’m afraid you don’t know Miss Xiang very well if you think she can help you accomplish change. Did you know that she is currently on the run from the militia?”
Wright Davis grinned mischievously. “You mean the outfit that lost it’s home, who’s captain is now in hiding and can barely hold it’s own against an anarchist arson? The Militia is of no concern to my Partners given the circumstances.” He said, some honest frustrations with the current state of the Militia’s affairs bubbling to the surface.
“Well he very much is to me good sir. He’s why I have boarded up my doors.” Richfield said, obviously frustrated. “Between his fires and the angry insruance claimants finding out their terms don’t cover acts of villainy I have had to close shop for the time being.”
Wright continued smiling “If you do this for us I can have a team of Pinkerton Agents at your beck and call within the week, when the gold shipments arrive at their destination you’ll have enough money to retire to Monaco or Italy, or even Australia if you so desire. Your angry clients won’t matter.”
Mr. Richfield seemed to twitch anxiously. “And all I would have to do for this to happen is?
“Insure the shipments, and arrange a meeting between myself and Miss Xiang. It’s that simple.”
Wright smiled genuinely towards mr Richfield and extended his paw to shake hands. “We have a deal then.”
“I will insure the shipments and find my former client. It shouldn’t be that hard as she keeps telling me to set up a meeting…though I have ignored her.”
Mr. Richfield reached out his hand and clasped John’s paw weakly. Wright however took the man’s hand in his considerably strong grip, his smile never faltering and his eyes betraying no hint of the massive web of lies he had just spun. He could tell Richfield didn’t believe a word of it. The tale was Implausible, America meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state? Though John doubted that perception of upstanding moral fortitude wouldn’t last long with power hungry Senators like his brother making Machiavellian ploys and faustian bargains.
“Oh and don’t worry about that gold.” John said, gesturing to the bar on the desk. “Consider it a Consultants fee.”
“Of course, Mr?”
Wright again chose to lie, pulling his more commonly used alias out of retirement.. “Davis, Jack Davis” the wolf said “You give that name to the First National Bank, to ensure the gold is all there”
“Of course, Mr. Davis.”
That was another truth, the gold was listed as being owned by that alias, it was one of the only reasons that it hadn’t been found and seized, aside from the security measures Wright himself had devised.
“I’ll have the paperwork ready for tomorrow and a chance to meet with Miss Xiang as well..”
“Excellent.” The wolf says as he lights up a fresh cigar. “If you would be so Kind as to show me out.” He gestured for richfield to go ahead. He waited to hear the frist of the locks open before acending the stairs.
“Good day mr Richfield” the wolf says as he makes his way out the door and down the stairs. “And God Bless America.” He adds as he puts his hat back on, the doors locking behind him. As soon as he was down the stair he bolted around the corner and out of sight, he could tell Richfield was about to go into panic mode and in his fear he would lead him straight to miss Xiang.
Wright kept himself moving away as Richfield hurried off, he followed him for a few moments, watching as the older man tried to climb down a wall, the man’s coughing and wheezing giving away his position clearly. Wright watched as Richfield turned and entered some catacombs beneath quarry hill, Wright elected to follow, this was most likely where the cabbit was hiding. the further in he went the more frantic the sounds up ahead became, it sounded like someone writing fast, then the sound of stone scraping stone. The wolf closed in, he could hear voices echoing through the corridors now.
“She found me?”
“Ms. Xiang I have told you repeatedly to leave me alone and now look what’s happened!”
“If you had just done your job and gone to the Militia this would have never happened!”
Wright stood on the other side of the wall, listening intently, and smiling to himself.
“If you had just turned yourself in without me they would have gotten you better representation eventually!”
“When you left she let me rot in jail for months! There never would have been a trial. Again! And the solano woman doesn’t care about evidence!”
“Your only hope is to go to the militia now or get out of town! That’s where I’m going! I don’t care where you go!”
Wright decided at that moment to step out of the shadows, his sudden reveal sent Richfield scurrying for the large hole in the wall like the rats in the tunnels.
Wright straightened his tie “Mr Richfield, good to see you again” He says sarcastically, smiling as Richfield ran for cover.
Miss Xiang looked stunned “What?!” She reached for her gun and curses Richfield under her breath.
“Miss Xiang, I presume?” The wolf says calmly
“Well, I suppose I am.” Wright said sardonically. Hally stared at him flatly, “But who do you work for? Violet Solano?”
Wright chuckles “Her? not in months.”
“Then who do you work for, or why do you want to see me?”
“I work for Canergak, at the asylum.”
“Who? The little fellow? What would he want me for?
“Oh, he doesn’t want you, and I didn’t either until a few patrons at Alley Cats pointed me in your direction.”
“Someone needs to keep their mouth shut then…was it Baird?” Wright thought that was a highly ironic assumption, seeing as baird couldn’t speak a single word of any language besides bear. Wright smirked “I Won’t be saying, suffice it to say, that you have Information I want.”
“And that is?”
“Prometheus” The wolf said. “I Want to know where he is.”
“He could be in a number of hideouts. Last time I saw him was before Bookworm arrested me in a little sewer.”
“Where was this sewer?”
“Across from the Claredon. There’s little point it was paved over since my escape. If you really want to find him you should search for his airship.” Wright’s ears perked up.
“Where else does he hide?” Wright asked, just to be sure he heard right.
Hally looked frustrated “I just said in his airship. That thing could house a small army. Maybe a few planes too.”
Wright Pulled a small notepad and pen out of his jacket and flipping open to a clear page. “What’s the airship look like?”
“You’re asking me for details? When I spoke with Prometheus I was always drinking at Alley Cats and he was always talking and…well he always made sense at the time.” She said, looking somewhat regretful “It’s big, its mostly metal…maybe has a sail…or balloon” She said, pausing to remember details. “It’s rusty if that helps.”
Wright finished scribbling in his notepad and repeated back the details he had jotted down “So it’s large, and fairly old, somewhat decrepit, sounds like half of the ships moored in Babbage.”
Hally noded “I couldn’t point it out now if I tried. But if you’re looking for him, search the ships and look for a bear coming off of it or on it.”
Wright closed the notepad “Right, Well if this helps maybe you can work something out with the captain, but until then i won’t tell anyone I saw or spoke to you, not even miss solano.” he said, smiling.
Hally looked the wolf up and down, sighing “I gues that’s the best offer I can expect.” The cabbit turned towards the wall where her ‘lawyer’ was hiding. and began to slam her fist against the stone. “You ARE USELESS!” She shouted
“Yes he is.” the wolf said agreeing.” He sighed. “An airship, it’ll be harder to reach, but maybe…” He says, his voice trailing off.
Hally nodded at the wolf “I will see you later…sir. I hope you catch him…”
“I hope so too.” The wolf sighs, his expression turning rather grim. “Miss Xiang, it’s been a pleasure.” he said, turning to leave. “And tell that little weasel of a man to at least pay out on Baird’s claims, because i will find him and drag him back to the bear so he can beat what’s owed out of him.”
“Gladly!” The cabbit said cheerfully “Hear that!?” she shouts at the bricks, though there’s nothing but silence in reply “I’ll see he does get it.”
Wright nodded and made his way to the catacomb entrance. The Captain would have to be informed of where to search, or else Prometheus would be able to slip past them again. He siged heavilly as he headed for the hospital to spread the word to Captain Heinrichs.