The Guard Post
The arrival of the train onto the platform in the Royal City was a blur for everyone. Since the train was late by a couple of hours, the officials at the station had already been preparing to scramble a ranger group to follow the tracks back and figure out what had happened to the train. The Queen Kateryn approached the station at full speed with a full compliment of Royal Army Grenadiers and Rangers standing in the Great Hall. In the meantime, the group inside the train had not thought about their arrival onto the station at all and barely had time to pull on the breaks as they saw the massive brass dome on the side of the mountain that houses the imperial city quickly approaching them. As the train stopped, the full complement of grenadiers got on board, seeing the damage from the barricade run. The group was quickly apprehended and dragged off, separated before they got to say two words to each other. Their weapons were taken off them as they were escorted towards the guard posts. Engineers and soldiers moving in to secure every part of the train.
Rill and Dakai were treated a bit more gently and politely than the others, but their weapons were still taken away and their hands secured behind their backs as they were escorted from the platforms to the guard post. There was a large mass of people that had gathered in the station for news of the missing Lonetrain and the officers escorting them had to push through the crowd while pulling the pair from the arm. Eventually they went into the Guard Post that separated the Great Hall of the Lonetrain Station from the elevator down into the city. Rill and Dakai seemed to be the first ones up for interrogation. They were taken to a barren room with plastered walls, a few chairs and some galvanic lighting and made to sit on one side of the table by the officers. The cuffs they were wearing were removed and the pair was left alone for a bit as the policemen apparently went to fetch whoever would be conducting the questioning.
wasn't surprised at all at the treatment and didn't resist, though he wished that he'd had a chance to explain before they were taken off. What he didn't like at all was when he saw the crowd. He showed a really sour face to them but relaxed again after they got to the lift and the interrogation room. He was content to sit quietly for now.
The gear head simply sighed. Dakai
had expected the Guards to be on edge, after all they rolled into the station at full blast with dead bodies and injuries throughout. He strummed his fingers across the edge of the chair annoyed that he didn't even have his big wrench to toy with, they had stripped him of it as well. He turned to face the older man that he had been placed in the room with, not having caught his name in all the commotion. "Well I don't even know what to tell them because I hardly believe it myself."
Shortly after Dakai was done speaking, the door opened and two men walked in. They were both sharply dressed and had an orderly air about them but otherwise could not be more different from one another. One of the men was young, probably in his late 20s or early 30s, he was clearly a Shah with sharp features, a long nose and a narrow face and eyes. He had pale skin and black hair slick back under his cap. The Shah was rather tall but his shoulders were still broad under his impeccable pressed uniform. The second man was shorter and thicker, but still not fat. He had a round bulbous nose and tired looking green eyes under thick bushy eyebrows. The man looked to be in his late 40s or early 50s, with dark brown hair speckled with white as well as a short beard. "I'm Detective Van Leeuwen..." said the older man with a coarse, raspy voice, taking a seat. "This is Constable Koh." he continued as the Shah remained standing, even though there was a free chair across from Rill. "We're the ones stuck with this unholy mess." added Van Leeuwen. "We're still getting the Lonetrain's manifesto, but we have two corpses in the coal cart that look and smell like they've been dead for two weeks and a half dozen missing grenadiers and engineers, so I take it you won't mind if I just ask you your names."
nodded at Dakai's words just before the officers came in. He just looked at the officers peacefully when the older one introduced them. "I'm Rill Taskinger," he replied when the detective asked his name.
Rill, i can remember that.
He noted to himself. He didn't give much thought to the pair of investigators, to him the seemed like the average bureaucrats, one to put them at ease and one to intimidate them. The older one seemed to be taking the reigns, most likely the experienced one with the younger guy as his understudy partner. To him it almost sounded like he had already had half a mind that the group had committed the crime. "Dakai
... Steelheart." He paused not really wanting to give his surname out.
Koh seemed to be mostly quiet as Van Leeuwen continued. The man didn't really look up at Rill and Dakai while he wrote down their names on his notepad. The man's face was rather inscrutable. "Now..." began to say Van Leeuwen as he finally looked up at the two with his tired looking green eyes, "Now, please do tell me what happened on that train."
"Well, at the half-point of the journey, the crew on the train braked really hard. Then Royal Carabineers told us that the tracks were blocked. Some time after that we heard a lot of screaming and shooting," started Rill
. "We waited for a while but nothing happened, so many of us went outside to see what happened. That was when we saw these... these creatures. They were like humans but they were white and didn't have much clothing in the freezing cold. If I had a habit of drinking, I probably wouldn't have believed my eyes. Anyway, we managed to kill them, and that one Majai warrior, Ferah, tore them apart really effectively. We saw that those creatures had killed the Carabineers and the train's engineers and I thought we should bring their bodies back. I also took one of those horrible creatures. I put them in the coal car. But we really needed to clear the track so I could only get those two. The creature's corpse smells horrible, even worse than real bodies that have frozen and melt, but I guess it's too late to warn about that. Anyway, there was a large pile of trees on the tracks and even more creatures attacked us there, I don't even know how many of them moved about there. Probably more than ten. That other Majai warrior or whatever, his name was Paki, did some magic thing to the trees so that they moved a bit but he couldn't get them completely off the tracks. Meanwhile this mute engineer, Thaddeus Potts, managed to fix the train, I think there was some part taken out or something. We got back on the train and the locomotive managed to push the trees off. Then we all stayed in the locomotive because it was warm and about half of us were injured. I got shot in the side with an arrow and him and Ferah were hit by swords those creatures had. I took a scimitar from one of the creatures, I guess some of your people have it now. Its handle had some weird markings. I also told the Majai people to not do any magic things in the locomotive and they didn't."
didnt say much as Rill started the tale. He had covered every aspect of the ordeal and wasn't sure he needed to say more. After his elder Daguerrian finally finished his part of the story the young engineer nodded in agreement. "We heard some shouting and i went out to see what was going on rather foolishly and as Mr. Rill said these things ambushed us. They reminded me of frozen walking corpses. Bound in ragged leather and worn weapons. I have the proof honestly. One of the bigger ones sliced me down my chest with its blade." He added patting his chest to show some off the blooded bandages. "I initially tried to help Mr. Thaddeus but he seemed to have some sort of understanding of how the controls worked so i joined the group to clear the tracks and we were attacked once again." He thought for a second if there was anything he could add to Rill's story. "We barely made it out with our lives."
"Honestly..." said simply Van Leeuwen with a sigh as he pressed his thumb and index finger against his temples. "I didn't expect this one to be easy but..." he added with a shrug, turning to look at Koh for a second. "See I don't think what you think you experienced is what you think you experienced.... on the other hand I don't think you're lying to me either... no one would be stupid enough to make up something like THAT... and to boot I have missing passengers, soldiers, engineers and the Royal School wants me to hang seven of you, including the little urchin we're about to ship back to the orphanage, because you broke into a Sanctioned locomotive without a permit or degree from them..." he concluded as he tapped on his notepad with the bottom of his pencil. "What am I supposed to tell THEM?"
"Detective, if you can come up with a better explanation for what happened back there, I'm happy to believe it," said Rill
. He looked a bit impatient at the detective going on about breaking into the locomotive. "Surely it's better that we managed to bring the locomotive back and didn't leave it blocking the tracks in the middle of the sea of snow? I understand it's not how things should be done and I'm sorry about that, but there was no other choice."
"The orphan is my niece, I agreed to watch my elder sister's child for a bit while she gets back on her feet." The engineer stated bluntly as if it was a bit offensive his 'niece' would be called an orphan (bluff). "Honestly what seems more likely? That a small band of total strangers with nothing to gain over threw an entire entourage of engineers and guards armed to the teeth with guns and other weapons with nothing more than a few blades and a wrench?" Dakai
posed the rhetorical question as to set the absurdity of such an endeavor in everyone minds, its was impossible. He leaned forward in his seat to lean on his knees a bit, the straight angle making his wound ache. "Sir, you may consider these things a band of rogues in costume or some form of pirates but we know what we saw sir. Our story may seem outlandish but it's better than a report that says three men a mute, two women and a child collaborated to mutiny a train only to drive it right to its heavily armed destination. Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." He did his best to weave his words respectfully but with the full force of his logic behind them.(Persuade)
gave Dakai a glance before looking resigned. While he didn't like lying, he didn't think it was that wrong for Dakai to try to take care of the orphan.
"Your niece?" interjected Koh as he lifted a single one of his rather angular eyebrows. "The girl seems like she has not have a haircut in years... or a bath in weeks." added the officer. "Forgive Koh, he has a soft spot for children." continued Van Leeuwen. "I just think maybe I should pay you a visit if you're ever released, Mr. Steelheart, and check on the care you're giving to the chil-" began to say Koh, but was quickly interrupted by the senior officer. "Anyhow." declared simply Van Leeuwen, who seemed like the kind of man who never lost his cool. Koh's eyes, however, indicated he was willing to go through with his statement. "It could have been that you lot are not unrelated, and some of my superiors would be happy to keep you all locked up while we conduct a very long and annoying inquiry to figure it out. It could be a badly planned robbery attempt, or a plan to steal a locomotive that went seriously south. One of the women that came with you is seriously banged up." conjectured the detective, mostly looking at his notepad as he leaned back on his chair. "I will say there are a FEW things that don't add up, and though I find them interesting, my superiors find them most vexing. The old sword you found is some sort of maja-" suddenly Van Leeuwen was interrupted by Koh with a single word. "Shah." with a sidelong glance at the constable, Van Leeuwen sighed and continued. "Yes. Shah, blade. Very old, and broken. Proves nothing but there's that. One of the bodies in the hold looks to be wearing the uniform of an engineer, name tag and all. That accounts for something. But physicians tell me his state of decomposition is like he's been dead for days, not hours. The other one, we have no way of telling who it was... and apparently it's been dead for at least several months... our people are actually baffled by that one. That at least, plays in your favor."
"I had never met the others before," affirmed Rill
. He looked perplexed at the idea of stealing a locomotive. "Where would one even take a stolen locomotive? It's only useful on the tracks and it can't hide on the tracks," he pondered, not realising his musings were rather irrelevant. "I don't know what happened to that woman but I bandaged her leg. What was her name anyway? Didn't you carry her?" he asked from Dakai. He frowned at Van Leeuwen saying the engineer had been dead for days. "What? Days?"
attention turned to Koh, "As i said they were not in the best of conditions, homeless and street dwellers at best. My sister is to proud a woman to ask for help but finally agreed to let me watch her daughter, refusing charity for herself." He stated crossly, as if angry he had to defend his make believe sister and her poor current state of affairs. But the other inspector broke in to continue his notes until Rill spoke. He turned his attention to his elder accomplice not even taking into account what the inspector had just said for a moment. "Miss Daiyu is the one who injured her.... wait days? How? Some one would have found his body before the train even departed right?"
"I don't know, it was just an example, Royal School technology would be very much appreciated in Shah or in one of the other cities, you came from Ordon, the School of Biologists and the School of Engineers have been at odds since the early days of the winter." said Van Leeuwen. "Now, we can take your declaration and I can present it to my superiors and let them decide what they think, but you won't be able to leave the city until then. Travel papers will be red stamped in the meantime." continued the detective. When Dakai justified Tetra's condition, the Daguerrian detective lifted his hand up to stop Koh from interjecting. "I'm sure Koh will check to see you're taking good care of your.. uh.. niece. We'll release her under your custody, better than ending up in an orphanage in the lower city, but you'll be responsible for whatever mess she makes.... as for the engineer, that man, sir-" he said to Dakai, "-walked into the train over in Ordon, so we're all rather puzzled as to how he managed to accumulate a week of rot in the last 12 hours.". Seemingly overwhelmed by the degree of stuff that did not seem to make sense, the detective leaned forward and earnestly asked, "Now... neither of you saw any of the.. uhm.. Majai... the ones with you, do any of their tribal chanting over the body... or touch the engine in any way, did you?"
was rather puzzled still, but by now he tried to discard the topics that weren't so important. "No, they didn't do anything like that, Detective. I kept my eye on that Paki person because he had some magic but he kept clear of the engine and didn't do anything suspicious inside the locomotive." Then Rill's face went graver as he realised he would need to stay in the city. "What? I'm a ranger, it's my job to go out there. How can I do anything if I can't?" he professed.
"Your guess is as good as ours." Dakai
remarked about the engineer. He only nodded about his custody of Tetra glad that he didn't have to say anymore on the topic of the little miscreant. He leaned back in his seat, thinking back over the course of events he had seen. "Paki used some sort of something to help clear the tracks but as far as anything else the Majai were nothing but helpful in the situation." He nodded trying to address it as best he could.
"Hopefully we'll figure all of this out and charges will either be pressed or dropped, Mr. Taskinger. At that point you will be free to go wherever you please... or not. It depends on those charges I mentioned and who they're aimed at." smiled simply Van Leeuwen, courteously. "I'd just say that it seems it's also in your best interest that we find some explanation for all of this and punish someone in such a way that the Royal School of Engineers will get off of our collective backs, isn't it?" continued the man. Before he could speak again, though, the Shah constable, Koh, intervened, "There's two men who were not engineers or carabineers, but they were working for the Royal School. The Rectory is very interested to know what happened to them." asked the man.
frowned at Leeuwen's words, not knowing what to think. When Koh asked about the two men, he looked confused. "Who...?"
"I remember two men out in the snow, some gunshots but not a lot more than that, it got pretty out of hand at that point." Dakai
recalled honestly. From there on out all hell had broken loose and he didn't know quite what to tell the men, something about another woman or something of that nature. He wasn't even sure what to make of it himself.
"Ah... you mean those two passengers who were in the eh, luxury car?" Rill
asked. He looked a little inconvenienced. "I think they died when those creatures attacked a second time. Oh, there was one more woman in there too, I met her really briefly." Rill tried to remember her name if he had managed to hear it. (Memory) "I guess the creatures killed her too. I didn't see her or those two men after the attack. I didn't even see that second attack, just heard gunshots and some yelling. That one Majai, Ferah, said that she had killed them all, but it seemed to me like she just wanted to brag to show how tough she was or something. It didn't really make any sense to me."
"Killed by the creatures, uh?" replied Van Leeuwen, making a note of that on his notepad. "The School isn't gonna be happy about that." he chuckled, turning to Koh as he lifted the notepad slightly. "They usually like someone to go to jail when they're pissed off...." shrugged the detective. "Honestly, those two are not a big loss, they're known thugs and cutthroats, they would've ended up on the gallows more than once if they weren't on the School's payroll." he said gruffly. "Honestly I don't know how much more we're going to get. We have no evidence to clear you, but not enough to charge you either, and if we leave it up to the school they'll obviously prefer that Majai heads are the ones that roll." he added, there was a slightly noticeable reaction from Koh, who seemed very annoyed. "You can go and pick up your belongings at the door to the Great Hall. You can't leave the city until the investigation is concluded. Hopefully it won't be more than a couple of weeks. If you remember something you think is important, you can find me or Koh either here or at the constabulary on Lyme street." added the older man, closing his notepad with a sigh. "Mr. Steelheart." intervened Koh as they both stood, "We know where you live. 114 Holywell Street. I'll be by to check on your niece." he added as he opened the door to the station to the two.
Rill looked blankly at the detective when he explained about the two men. He had nothing to say. When the man implied that they were most likely to lay the blame on the Majai, he too looked annoyed, but secretly he also was a little relieved that he might escape injustice, even if it was at the expense of others. When Leeuwen finally said that they were free to go, he got up, nodded at the investigators and left to pick up his things.
On the note that they would be checking in Dakai made a mental note to keep up with the little urchin just in case he needed her. "Thank you sir." He nodded briefly before pushing his chair back and standing up. With a slight bow he stepped back and followed Rill.
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