Ladies, Gentleman, those lunatics in Paradox Power Plays,
May I present you
Chapter 8) One for the Road
“Gods Akhmin, how hard did you hit her?” Mortimor asked worriedly.
Rina had not stirred at all after Akhmin had dumped her in the seat. Mortimor peeked under the cover they had thrown over her to check to see if she was still breathing at all.
Rina looked like she was asleep.
“I hit her on a scale of Not the Momma!” the Anubis proclaimed proudly.
Mortimor shook his head. With a glance around it looked like the crowd was thinning. It was getting later after all. Very late. There were only a few dregs milling around, drunk, slouched and demanding more ale. The barkeep looked like he was half asleep himself, and the waitress had gone home already.
Looking over to Vger, their Emperor had calmed down considerable after his fifth pitcher of mulled wine. It was only because they were now broke, and unable to afford anything else. Mortimor still did not know how Vger managed to get a hold of the coin purse, figuring Akhmin may have had something to do with it.
As if thinking about the Anubis, the creamy furred Mobiun was caught in the corner of Mortimor’s eye, crawling under their table.
“Akhmin!” Mortimor started to swear.
“Bad guys.” Akhmin whispered like a child in trouble. “Same bad people looking for Rinnie.”
“Holy Val Kilmer, Batman.” John muttered, trying to adjust himself so he could stand and intercept them if they turned their way.
Mortimor even put his hand on his sword.
Vger went looking for his pistol, then sighed when he remembered Mortimor had it.
But the group that entered, despite being dubbed bad guys, where dressed in fine clothing, wide brim hats, and all with rifles, pistols, swords and the like. They were gunmen. More then likely the outside the wall variants of the actual City Guard.
And they had no immediate interest in the Emerald Coast Crew just yet.
“I could have sworn that this thing detected witchery.” one of them noted, holding up some sort of stone. “A strong reading for what I gathered.”
“It looks like the Gods are playing tricks on you this time around Don.” someone named their leader.
“But you all saw it. I held it up like so and-.” this Don, a Fox himself of a dark shade of gray, held up the stone as he was about to demonstrate.
And it was shining.
“And there it is again!” Don exclaimed, and his comrades looked on it as well. “What sort of treacherous sorcery is this?!”
“I think we need to move her now.” Mortimor whispered back at Vger.
“We can’t. Stay calm. Don’t advertise we are gearing for a fight.” Vger instructed, remaining calm.
“Its coming from over-” Don turned, and aimed the device towards them. “-there.”
Guns were drawn and lowered at the Emerald Coast Crew. Now they had interest in the crew.
John remained tense and ready to rise. Vger remained calm and attentive. Mortimor swore quietly and relaxed against his seat.
Akhmin however, remained obscured and hidden beneath the table.
“State your affairs!” demanded Don as they took up the center of the ring of guns. They held up the familiar Lens other officials seemed to be carrying and aimed it at the group.
“Travelers, seeking passage to the West. Nothing more.” Vger quickly explained.
“The first was true, the last is a lie.” Don frowned as he pointed at them. “Are any amongst you a magic user?”
“Define using magic.” Vger nearly fumbled, offering a business like smile. Was that some sort of truth seeing stone? Oh dear. Negotiation mode on! Vger thought. Then quickly continued with the distracting line of questioning “Is that something like snorting opiates or diving off a skyscraper?”
There was a very brief pause as the ring of gun wielders, and Don, looked at each other.
“Do wot?” one of them asked.
“You know? Drugs and adrenaline junkies.” Vger explained.
“No the first bit, what is a Skyscraper?” someone asked.
“What the bleeding hells is adreeenolan?”
“Is he casting some sort of spell!”
“Right!” Don pointed to the one who asked about the spell, before turning the stone towards Vger. “Are you casting some sort of spell?”
“No my good man I am not!” Vger stated, genuinely insulted. “I am an Engineer. I design weapons, armor and port dispensing devices beyond your imagination.”
“Wot, like a Blacksmith?”
“You do wot with ports mate?”
“Ports a wine you daft bastard.”
“Shut it the lot of you!” Don ordered. “The point is do you have a spell users in your midst.”
“Again you have to define the term user of spells-”
“Avoiding the question is the same as admittance of having such a being in your midst, therefore you are all eligible to punishment.”
“She is no danger to you.” Vger frowned, and Mortimor and John both gave Vger a questioning look.
“Of that we are certain.” Don smiled at the truth in Vger’s words. “You will turn her over to us.”
John stood, squaring himself off against the ring of fire arms.
“Tell your man to stand down or he will be shot.” Don demanded.
“No you fail to understand. Rina is not a danger to you, or yours However if you threaten me and mine I can assure you that the consequences would be most dire.”
“I have ten guns trained on you. Your surrounded.”
“For the moment.” Vger admitted with a shrug. “Though seeing on how you haven’t opened fired yet means your wanting this Magic User alive. For what purpose?”
“It is blaspheme to cast magic, everyone knows this. They must be made an example of!”
“I did not.” Vger shrugged. “I am not from here and I am ignorant of your laws and customs. All we want to do is travel West, WITH My spell casting companion.”
“And what business do you have with our Enemies in the West?”
“None. Our business lies further, across the sea and their continent. We are after a Sorceress ourselves and we need ours to counter theirs.”
“There is nothing FURTHER West then the West.”
“And that is your problem. Not mine.” Vger noted with a smile. “Yet we cannot simply hand her over to you.”
“Yes you can.” Rina commented haggardly. She stirred, removing the hood and winching at the candle like. “Dear Gods Akhmin, how hard did you hit me?”
Guns, flintlock rifles, were trained on her as well. Rina simply held up her feathery hands in surrender.
“Rina.” Mortimor started to protest.
“I heard enough. These people will kill you just to get to me when they could pinpoint who exactly the caster is. It is their law, and I am obliged to adhere to their law.”
“Even if it is an absurd Law?” Vger questioned.
“Its that or have your deaths on my conscious. I don’t hate you all THAT much.” Rina replied with a grumble. “Maybe Jerry. Move Mortimor, your in the way.”
Mortimor looked to Vger first, who gestured him to do so. Still hesitant, Mortimor slid out from the table, turning to face the ring of guns with his shield presented, and his hand still firmly on the hilt of his sword.
Rina slipped out and presented herself to the gunmen. “I surrender on the condition you let these Mobiuns go.”
One of them stepped forward and smashed his rifle butt against the side of Rina’s head, and she crumbled to the ground. Mortimor and John both flinched and look ready to charge.
“Steady!” Vger ordered sharply. Both of them complied.
“Denied.” Don smiled cruelly. “Your all going to the tower.”
“We only got room for the one.”
“Then go empty it and bring it back!” Don instructed. Two of the gunmen snatched up Rina, clapped her in irons and quickly drug her away.
“If they move, shoot them.” Don pointed at Vger and the group.
“Now, you see, you’ve made a very serious mistake.” Vger said, leaning forward.
“And what would that me?” Don grinned. “In fact, why don’t you go ahead and tell me everything you know now.” Don approached they shoved a flintlock in Mortimor’s face, and guided him away. Don then sat down in front of Vger, placed the Lens between them and aimed the same flintlock at the Emerald Coast Emperor. “Then I can promise you a swift execution for harboring a Fugitive of the Empire.”
“I might be inclined, if you can promise me a glass of wine or two.” Vger answered, relaxing back in his seat.
“Bring me a glass for myself.” Don said over his shoulder.
One of the men went to the counter and wrapped the surface. “Its safe to come out now.”
Out from the pantry in the back stepped a leather clad Mobiun in a dark hood, and very armed. “Manager’s gone home, just the night guard.” they said. “But I can serve up a few drinks here and there. Worked in my wife’s pub. Whats the poison?”
The hooded Mobiun nodded once, and fetched the bottle. “Any old wine?”
“Sure. Wait, come to think of it when did this place have Night Guards?”
“When did we start having magic users in our city?” they replied back, and expertly poured two glasses of wine. “Need me on hand for the rest of you lot?”
“Yeah, just encase they ask for more.”
“Alright, I’m right here.”
“Whats your name?”
“Alright, thanks Jerry.” and the gunmen left his flint-lock rifle, and scooped up both wine glasses.
Both Glasses were placed between Don and Vger. Before Don could bring his to his lips, Vger had emptied his like a shot glass, and turned the beverage container upside down and placed on the table top.
“Lovely, thanks.” Vger smiled. “Now about what I know? Well, I know a great many things, you’d have to narrow it down to something specific. However tit for tat right? I tell you the Honest Truth without Censorship or Deviating, and then you tell me something yes?”
“I see no harm in that.”
“Of course you don’t.” Vger retorted, his friendly expression draining as fast as he had emptied the wine glass. “You first.”
“Who are you?”
“Victor George Ericson Richard the Third.” Vger answered honestly, “CEO and Emperor of the Emerald Coast Empire, second largest Conglomerate only the Prower INC.”
Don, having no idea what some of those words were said, recognized Emperor and an Empire. The object they peered into told him that Victor-freaking-long-named-guy the Third was telling the truth.
“My turn, where are they taking Rina?”
“To the Tower.” Don replied, looking from the device to Vger. “In the center of town. Who are you people?”
“I have already introduced myself so its only fair to introduce you to the rest of my motley crew.” Vger gestured as he spoke. “The Behemoth standing ready to charge head long into your men is John BlueFox, former Special Forces, one of the last lines of defense if our greatest Heroes needed a day off. John there is my personal army and he is as impressed with your hallowed sticks as I am.”
“Mortimor Shadowfox you so rudely put your gun to his face is yet tested, but he is eager to prove himself in a conflict of some sort and you have undoubtedly forced such a conflict on us. I feel he will have to prove himself considerably before the morning comes.”
“The gentleman who poured your drink, Jerry Voxholm is the sort that has survived last stands, suicide missions and near fatal wounds like it was nothing more then a casual stroll through a daisy field. The things he has seen, done and will do would make Freddy Krueger soil himself in fear.”
Vger settled himself on the table, a cocky grin on his face as he looked Don up and down as the Gray Fox’s confusion mounted. “You’ve met Rina. She’s got more magical power in a single feather then you lot have gun powder. When she recovers from her mild head ache I would imagine you have disturbed a sleeping Phoenix. She will come down on any wrong doer like a neutron bomb detonating in a glass cup.”
“Lastly, there is Akhmin, good old Akhmin. If you think Rina, John or Jerry were righteous bad asses, then your right. However neither one of them could hold a candle to Akhmin. And where is Akhmin you are thinking? You only see four foxes and no Akhmin?”
Vger relaxed again, looking to Jerry, John and then Mortimor, before settling his gaze on Don. “Considering I am growing bored with this conversation as well as your gun pointed at me, I’ll give you a hint. That’s not a warm bag at your feet.”
Don’s eyes widened, and he leaned back just to look down.
Out from beneath the tabletop shot a creamy furred hand grabbing Don by his gray muzzle.
“Chew toy?” Akhmin asked hopefully, then he dragged Don screaming underneath the table.
It was then that Jerry cleared the bar counter, cocking his the arm that had been encased with the power-fist back to throw a simple straight punch. The magical energies had been activated, turning a well timed punch nto a warhammer swung by someone twice his size and weight. The powerfist connected with the side of the face of one of the Gunmen turning around to see what the blur coming at them was all about.
The impact of the powerfist shattered the side of the man’s head like a melon. The corpse crashed to the floor slid into feet of one of their comrades. Even as they scrambled to get on their feet, Jerry was on them like a smiling reaper of death.
Other Gunmen turned their flinklocks on John, who lumbered on them like a wraithful giant. They fired, the loud crack and boom of thunder piercing the air like snapping pop guns for all the effect they did. The soft metal rounds bounced harmlessly off of John’s mithril plated armor.
In turn, John brought one of his tonfa’s down to the closest next to him, roaring the battle cry of “UNF! UNF! WHERE IS IT?!” as he approached
The targeted Gunman had raised their rifle to defend themselves. It was a simple defensive move meant to deflect a rather simple attack. Yet they discovered, if not briefly, that the wood of the rifle yielded to the might of John’s attack just as easily as their head, neck, shoulder and some of their ribs.
While their comrades looked flabbergasted at the sheer show of might, as well as the bizarre, if not questionable shout, John swiped them away with his other Tonfa. He sent them tumbling across the floor like dolls being knocked over by a disgusted child with the same effect.
The effect being that neither of them moved once they had settled.
Mortimor turned his shield to another of their foes, who aimed and fired directly at him. It was instinct that he raised that shield to protect his face, Mortimor had not actually ever trained on the defensive devices before. But the gun fired, he felt the weight of impact against his shield and it nearly sent him staggering back behind John.
Mortimor tugged twice on pulling his sword as the gunman dropped his flint lock and lunged at the artic fox with a knife. Again Mortimor raised his shield, yet this time thrusted beneath it in a blind attempt to ward off his opponent.
Mortimor felt the shock of impact of the sword striking something, then resistance in trying to pull it away. Peeking over, Mortimor was stunned, and somewhat horrified to find that he had succeeded in dispatching his first real opponent in combat.
It was also the first life Mortimor had, actually, snuffed out at all.
It was a different sensation to watch the eyes drain of life. To see their body relaxing as they fell backwards against the floor. There was no HD buffer here. No Lag. That was no pixels of red staining his hand, This Mobiun was dead.
No respawn. No redo. No declaration of HAX followed by subsequent banning.
Mortimor could not help but reflect the same look of horror on his victim’s face as he looked up towards Vger.
Their Emperor had made his way out of the bench to snag the pistol from Mortimor’s belt, and took two strides from the arctic fox.
Aiming the pistol like a stalwart royal officer of a red coated island sovereignty, Vger fired the last shot in the sortie. The last Gunman nearest the door as they tried to run crumbled with a bullet to their back.
All had been slain, both Jerry and John with four apiece yet neither seemed to be exchanging numbers or counting when Vger glanced to them. True Professionals.
Well. Mostly Professional.
Okay. They have their good days.
Jerry wiped the blood from his weapons on the fabric of the closest being before moving to stand near Vger. “You always have to wait around for the good fights, but we got someone to save apparently.”
“Yes. How drawl. Though I wager we’re going to be saving them from her more then the other way around.” Vger holstered his pistol. Then, taking Jerry by the shoulder, he lead the blood red fox in taking a step back. “Akhmin spit him out.”
With an overly loud ‘Patooy’ Don rolled out, covered in spittle and drool. He scrambled away until his back smacked into Jerry’s legs. The two foxes exchanged looks before Jerry put a foot on their chest and forced Don on the ground.
“WHAT THE H***S IS THAT THING?!” Don screamed up at Vger.
Akhmin poked his head out from beneath the table with his large ears perked. “He tastes like Ghey.”
“Yes that is all well and good. Jerry, we need him alive.”
With a grunt, Jerry lifted his foot, then brought it crashing down against Don’s forehead, which sent it to the floor. Don was out like a light, but only the Gods knew what horror he suffered beneath that table.
“John carry him.” Vger instructed, lifting his rifle. “Exit strategy?”
“Out the back, follow the boy missing an ear, names Cobb.” Jerry explained, looking forward at the front of the tavern.
“Making friends are we?” Vger asked before moving over to Mortimor, and tugging on their pauldran. “You alright?”
“I killed someone.” Mortimor stammered.
“Congratulations.” Jerry muttered as he picked up Don’s discarded Pistol. “Want a Cookie?”
“Now its not the time for that.” Vger scolded over at Jerry, before jerking on Mortimor’s arm. “We have to go. Now.”
Mortimor, still shaken, followed after Vger to the Pantry. Jerry picked up yet another fire arm, this one at the bar, as John scooped up Don, and they quickly made their exit.
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