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 Mission accomplished?

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Registration date : 2007-04-26

Mission accomplished? Empty
PostSubject: Mission accomplished?   Mission accomplished? EmptyMon 16 Oct - 7:24:58

Mission Accomplished?
So here we are in the Hawkers' Bubble once more, some of us to be sure looking a little less handsome than previous.  Relax, tis not my good self I refer to, but Mr Smith, (the one of the Alan variety) who picked up a mighty smashed jaw in our latest venture. The question now that vexes, is how Casta, currently sitting across the table from us, is going to react to the final outcome of our joint endeavour?

So, not unreasonably with six coin at stake, she asks us if we met with success, to which I respond in my usual manner; as positive as possible and emphasis the bright side quick summary of events as I saw them with these very eyes:

We successfully got the brothers concealed aboard the Bitter End; we brilliantly negotiated through the river  gate with some marvellous patois, courtesy of Mr Smith (of the John variety); we boldly navigated the river; we beat off spectral interference and harassment; we kept the brothers sweet, despite their contrary and frankly stupid natures; we ably traversed the hostile environment that lay between the river and Donald’s Ridge; we braved the worst the deathlands could hurl at us; we smoothly brought the brothers to the safety of the station as the train pulled in; we tearfully parted with our precious charges, leaving them secure and breaking open the brandy for a celebratory tipple; and then watched and indeed participated actively, in the brutal slaying of our former passengers.

Sure at this point t’is traditional for a fuzzy dissolve and some anodyne caption to introduce a clumsy flashback to move the narrative along, but would you ever be catching an O’ Haggerty resorting to such a tired cliché?

So we picked up the half-drunk trio of brothers, well away from our own turf: we didn’t want to show them any more of our operation than was essential. We even went as far as to leave Drass and Oberon home to mind the shop, what with the Lost, Red Sashes and Azure Lords all thinking unkind thoughts about us. Without Drass steering we made good progress to the gate, the brothers stowed in their compartments, happily drugged and insensible.

John Smith begorrah now shows every sign of Skovland blood running in his veins; either that or he’s been adding powdered blarney stone to his chow as he supports our forged paperwork with as convincing a story as has ever passed through my very own ears. By the time he’d finished even I believed him and I had to suppress a strong urge to break into applause. I cannot leave out my own massive contribution to our successful blagging by not saying a word and I just stuck to some vigorous swabbing for which, as in so many things, I have a natural gift.

We headed downstream, dropping remora-like into the wake of a merchantman equipped with shields, that meant we didn’t have any ghoulie worries at the outset. We did witness another small craft getting ghostly attentions, as an unquiet spirit danced on its deck, throwing strange balls of light into its hull. What happened to the souls cowering below I cannot guess.

Well of course it couldn’t last and as traffic thinned out eventually our course and that of the SS Pistorious* diverged and we entered a quieter channel to take us towards destination Donald’s Ridge. Out of the shielding, we are exposed to howling extra dimensional winds that eddied menacingly about us. Smith(the Alan variety) summoned a ghost to protect us, at least that’s his hope, and by the fetid bogs of County Klinar it appeared to work: A ghostly Imperial soldier armed with a rifle that looked like the latest must have in killing gear about three hundred years ago took station on the prow, where he occasionally gesticulated at unseen phenomena, at times appearing to threaten or even stab spectral terrors with the bayonet affixed to his ancient firearm.

*Editor’s note this is Hagan’s very thin attempt at a topical Blade Runner reference.

Sadly this too couldn’t last as the wimpish Mr Smith needed to rest after a mere ten hours and the ghostly sentinel faded an hour later. We continued nervously onward, quite alone on the river now and all too aware of the surrounding entities swarming about as we passed the many beached hulks of luckless former vessels whose crews had fallen victim to the forces of the netherworld.

Inevitably we began to take boarders: Some zombie-like with decaying flesh, some skeletal, some dancing, some merely hovering. I was safe down below of course as there was little here for me to deal with given that the Smiths were both somewhat more attuned to matters spiritual. Alan was awoken and returned to the deck where he attempted to calm the situation, addressing a ghostly form here and there with words of friendly reassurance. What kind of idiot is he?

One ghost passed right through him and for a moment it seemed he was going to react badly but he seemed to shake off the experience. His summoned soldier reappeared and he communed with him for several minutes. I asked him later what he had said, but apparently the guy had lost his jaw in a fatal accident, though he had been able to detect some impressions of his thoughts (angry ,cold).

Eventually the spirit world seemed to lose interest and we could see the lights of a way station in the distance, promising sorcorously shielded sanctuary. The brothers meanwhile had awoken and I had been entertaining them with a few friendly games of chance. After they lost a couple of coin to me I was forced to break off the gaming, as they seemed to feel my superior experience and technique in diceplay constituted cheating.

We arrived at the way station and docked to refuel. The brothers were keen to get off but were dissuaded by my reference to rumours of hitmen who might lie in wait. They did demand some refuelling of their own and the Smiths went ashore and returned with a couple of barrels of the hard stuff, which John proved pretty partial to as well as the brothers. We toyed with the idea of re-drugging the brothers but held that option in reserve.

We proceeded with no further alarms until we reached the position where we could see the distant glow of Donald’s Ridge. Alan and I decided that we would accompany the brothers to town, the decision for John to remain on the boat clinched by a blood alcohol level that would make Paul Gascoigne blush. We paddled the dingy to shore, our navigation added by the foghorn-like snoring marking the position of the Bitter End behind us.

We beached to find a harsh landscape of gorse-like bushes with clawing thorns, treacherous sinkholes, hidden quagmires and sodden ditches, half hidden by choking undergrowth and strangely twisted, wind blasted, stunted trees.

We were well on schedule though and after several hours, arrived wet and mud-caked at the mining outpost’s protective shield, where at last we could huddle in relative safety. Smith scouted ahead, checking that the train was on schedule with the station ticket office, and amazingly, it was. He also had a prowl around the shadows of the township but found no cause for concern.

Returning, we awaited the arrival of the train and as it announced its approach with a distant rumbling of jostling wagons and heavily loaded bogeys, we headed together to the station. The train pulled in and several large crates began to be offloaded whilst the brothers presented their tickets and boarded, collecting their luggage as planned. Smooth.

With the glow of well-being from a job well done suffusing our cold and aching bones, we observed them taking their seats and breaking open a vintage bottle of brandy in the finest tradition of the Vond family. And I think that I’d like to end this account there, a brilliant plan, brilliantly executed with hard work, determination, skill and a little bit of luck, one that will bring us well earned payment, respect and rep and justifiably so in the opinion of this humble son of Skovland.

Unfortunately in the interests of truth, reality, whatever you want to call it, there is a post script to this happy tale: One brother, I forget which one, pulled a pistol as the trio tucked into their brandy and shot his two siblings squarely in their foreheads, substantially reducing the world population of Vonds and probably upsetting his poor dear mother if only she had known.

We were still Vondering what was going on, when events took an ugly turn: Now if one Vond wants to play at his own version of the Cain and Abel story, that’s fine by me as long as we get paid. But call me picky, when the murderer starts shouting and pointing at us indicating to all and sundry that we have just offed his beloved family, I call that cause for concern and a tinsey bit of an annoyance.
I’m not entirely sure who fired first, but I’d be upsetting Father Marik mightily if I didn’t admit that I think it was my own good self, anyway, we were exchanging shots before you knew it. I was saved by my armour which took a slug and I think I winged him in that first exchange, but he was probably wearing armour too as became apparent later.

Alan and I rushed him from different directions, Alan arriving first. The slippery blighter had been able to reload and fired at him point blank fortunately ineffectually. I fired too but did nothing and in seconds it became a knife fight. I gutted him, except that he was definitely wearing armour which saved his worthless Vond life, my knife skittering uselessly of it.

Alan was dazed having been wounded and I got thrown aside allowing the murderer to take to his heels as bystanders panicked and scattered at the sound of the shots. I chased him, still aboard the train and then leapt from it, at this moment fortune smiled and he stumbled and fell. In a flash I was on him. Now what was that old saying, shoot first and ask questions later, or was it the other way round? I went with my gut but also decided to compromise: I fired six warning shots. Into his head.*

*Stolen from Chicago. Shameless I know. It’s also just possible that before I fired he said ‘Do you expect me to talk?’ To which I replied ‘No Mr Vond, I expect you to die.’ Don’t you just love original writing?

Conscious of the people running around and shouting in confusion I quickly frisked my recently expired travelling companion, thoughtfully pocketing his purse and personalised pistol. Shouting to Alan to meet me at the rendezvous point, I made my excuses and left. He grabbed the murderer’s suitcase and hobbled after me, injured as he was. We then made it back to the boat, as far as we could tell with no hue and cry pursuing us.

We then acquainted Mr John Smith with events and reversed course, returning to the city with no problems. The suitcase yielded some coin and fine brandy and decanter, so things are not a total loss. The only question now is how will Casta take this news?
And we’re back where we came in… Casta took the news surprisingly well: In fact she showed every indication that things had gone entirely to (her) plan and we were paid in full. Apparently Skovland Insurgents are being blamed for the killings. I can’t think why, but at least I didn’t use Mr Smith’s name in our shouted exchange on the platform.

Well all I can say is Oberon knows some highly untrustworthy associates. In other news, still on the verge of war with rival gangs we have to spend some coin keeping them sweet. My healing is progressing as is Mr Smiths, and I expect the other Mr Smith will recover from his alcohol poisoning at some point…

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