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The Finch and the Blackbird

Posted on Tue Jan 7th, 2014 @ 11:01pm by Snot Rag Chops McGinty & Captain Daenelia Bradley
Edited on on Tue Jan 7th, 2014 @ 11:02pm

Mission: Chapter 9: Steam City

The doors to the cell opened with the familiar creaking. Chago barely raised his head to see who would be walking in. He'd learn soon enough if it would be relief or torture. Food or pain. Questions or accusations.

"On your feet," a gruff voice commanded. Chago complied as best he could, not rushing because there was no point in that.

It was the doctor, at last. "I need to judge how fit you are for trial." said the rough-looking man. He tilted the prisoner's head to the side and examined the bruises. The doctor was standing close enough to Chago for him to smell the faint smells of tobacco and spirits on the man's breath. He was also close enough for Chago to notice the decorative pin on the doctor's collar. It was in the shape of a bird. A finch?.

"Harlan Finch has an offer for you." whispered the doctor in fluent Merovingian. "This is your only chance to accept it, for the trial starts soon, and you are surrounded by enemies."

The doctor left a slip of paper in the prisoner's hands and distracted the guards until Chago had had the chance to read it.

Outside, Azzo was waiting patiently for his credentials to be checked again, by the same men who had allowed him to visit earlier. The blonde man wanted to see Chago again, even if he had no idea if that would do him any good. It seemed to take all day, but eventually the guards returned Azzo's papers to him and allowed him into the militia headquarters.

Azzo was watched carefully as he approached Chago's cell. One wrong move and the guards would eliminate him.

To Azzo's surprise, the cell door was wide open. The room was empty.

The nearest prison officer told him the grave news in a dispassionate tone. "You're too late, the murderer was just taken to be executed."

Azzo felt the blood drain from his face. "But... what about the trial?"

"He had three character witnesses, a good turnout. Oh, the tales they told. He's been spared the gallows, and given to the firing squad for his previous service. It's a pity, he'd have made a good worker down in the pits."

The chorus of far off gunshots sounded hollow and empty, but it became quite alarming when the seconds ticked by and the gunfire continued, together with the dull roar of an engine overhead.

"What the devil?" exclaimed the officer, and dashed in the direction of the courtyard together with a dozen other guards. Azzo followed. There was a stench of fresh blood and old death outside, but nobody had died today. The firing squad lay about the yard, wounded in their arms or legs or shoulders. Azzo followed the sound of engines into the sky and spotted a small skyship moving out of sight, a rope ladder being furled up. There was no sign of the prisoner in the yard. The blood of several men was washing away down the drain, taking a slip of paper with it, but Azzo's keen eye spotted it just in time and he took it while the guards were distracted.

Azzo was briefly detained under suspicion of aiding in the escape of a military prisoner. The chief of the guard, who had led the firing squad, ordered Azzo's immediate release once his own wounds had been treated. In the meantime, alone in his cell, Azzo had deciphered the message on the slip of paper. It had been written in an obscure Merovingian dialect, one that was popular among mercenary groups in the Old West. Chago would have been able to read it, and so could Azzo.

"El Moreno," the note began.

"Three years ago you rescued my only son, and I rewarded you with an object of equal value. The Finch family crest, a token small but irreplacable, was an easy reward for the return of my child. For the true Finch legacy rests in our blood, not in a trinket handed down from generation to generation.

And then, a slip of a girl, hair as black as night, turns up at my Kanesville outlet clutching the crest in her hands. She'd listened to the stories you'd told her, reluctantly at first, but as the heart had grown stronger so had the flowing of truths from your lips. You'd told Miss Blackbird what you'd done for me, shown her my crest and what it meant.

I know you, El Moreno, and so does she. You are many things but you are not a murderer. Once, you helped me, and I repaid you. Now, I offer to help you, and then you can find a way to repay me. I can take you away, together with Miss Blackbird, to where the Western military cannot reach you.

It is within my power to convince those in Kanesville not to pursue you if you accept my offer. After all, even the chief of the guard has his weaknesses.

You are not a murderer, and you would also not accept someone being murdered in your name. My mercenaries are crack shots and can disable a man from afar without killing them. I promise you that nobody shall die when you are rescued.

I hope to hear from my men that you have accepted this offer.

Harlan Finch"


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