The Consequences Of One's Actions
Posted on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 @ 12:55pm by Sailor Edward Marketh 2nd
Edited on on Sat Jan 7th, 2012 @ 1:01pm
Chapter 3: Mypos or Bust
Location: A Seedy Port District Pub
Timeline: Evening Of The Day Of Arrival
It had been almost a day since the Steamhawke had made port, though it made little difference to Edward. His tendency to become absorbed in his work gave him the habit of completely losing track of time, as well as his surroundings. Whether he was locked below deck in his workshop or hiding in the corner of a tavern his work always took priority and little could break him from his trance.
And hiding in a tavern he was, having commandeered a couple of tables in the back of a local port-side pub. It had cost him a fair bit of his pay, but to him it was worth it to continue working in peace. His exile from the workshop he'd set up on the Steamhawke continued; the old curmudgeon of an head engineer still refused to allow Ed back in as long as he procrastinated in fixing the broken wall. As always he was far too busy to get deal with such trivial issues, and handful of coins was a small price to pay in the name of progress.
Ed couldn't remember the name of the tavern, but it surely wasn't the most luxurious place around. Being on the docks it was filled with many clearly unsavory fellows; sailors and pirates of the lowest sort drifting in from all corners of the world. Ed suspected more of the latter than the former considering chaotic nature of most of the patron's goings on. Even considering the reputation of navy men on shore leave Ed wouldn't have been surprised if most legitimate Captains forbade their men from entering places like this, lest they sour what little welcome they already possess.
Still, it was cheap, and the scurry of rats and the smell of vomit did little to actually disturb his work even if it was unpleasant. Riotous as the customers themselves were in their groups they seemed ignore those they didn't know as long as they themselves were left alone. Better to not know the crimes of the thief next to you, Ed assumed. It worked out to his liking regardless.
It certainly was a cosmopolitan place, if nothing else. Likely because of its position near the docks it contained little in the way of Elladian culture in its design or decor, each person stepping through the doors bringing a bit of their homeland into the place until it held a bit from all over the map. If one let their mind wander they could easily imagine the establishment nearly anywhere in the world., as long as the district it sat in was sufficiently dirty and dismal.
None of this particularly mattered much to Ed though, focused as much in his work as he was. After receiving a somewhat gruff acceptance of his alchemy cannon from the master gunner as well as what amounted to an order for more he was working overtime to finish at least a handful of the weapons. Enough to arm a couple of the crew if nothing else.
He'd finished one over the course of the day, the weapon and a few canisters of fuel hidden under a small pile of parts and tools so as not to attract attention to it. Ed wasn't naive enough to assume that something shiny would be left alone in a den of thieves, so he made sure that throughout his work he kept one eye locked on the weapon's hiding place.
The doors of the tavern slammed open and another band of ruffians crammed their way into the already crowded bar. Ed didn't even look up at the noise, having become used to burly men slamming doors. He didn't even look up when one of the new customers pulled out a pistol and launched a round into the ceiling, commanding the attention of everyone in the place.
"My friends and I are looking for someone!" the gunman shouted as most of the other men in the pub went silent. The silence continued for several moments as the gunman scanned the people in the bar. Noticing who he was apparently looking for in the back of the room, the man raised his pistol once more. He didn't even bother to speak as he fired another shot in his target's direction.
Splinters smacked Ed on the side of his face as a bullet stuck itself in the wood of the wall next to him. He looked up suddenly, curious as what had just transpired. He lazily looked around the room, looking in the direction of the group that had entered the pub. It was about that point that Ed noticed the gun pointed in his direction. He ducked his head down just as a second bullet embedded itself in the wall.
Realizing things were getting serious and clearly not wanting any involvement the tavern's customers quickly began to clear out, all of them shouting and roaring as they snuck out the door. The gunman and his group ignored them all, clearly only concerned with one thing. The man waved his hand, signaling the rest of his men. It seemed that with the area clear they were planning to up the ante as each man from the group raised a pistol or rifle.
Ed grabbed the sides of his table as each man raised his weapon, forcing it onto its side and launching parts across the floor. He kneeled behind the solid wood, covering his head with his hands and falling with his back against his makeshift shield just as a wave of lead crashed into it. All the men had opened fire together, their bullets sending splinters and shards of glass flying through the air as the shear weight of metal crushed chairs and smashed bottles. Ed was lucky he'd chosen such a thick table, but he didn't have much time to thanks the gods for it.
Time seemed to pass in slow motion for Ed as he cowered behind his fortification. His mind raced with possibilities as to why this was happening. Perhaps it was a case of mistaken identity? That was probably it. Surely these men had just thought he was someone else entirely, and if he just told them who he was they'd leave him alone.
The bullets stopped suddenly. Ed slowly uncovered his head and nearly stood up, ready to announce who he was and end this horrible misunderstanding, when the leader of the gunmen started shouting again. "There's no point in hiding Edward! Why don't you just come on out and die like a good boy!" Ed covered his head again and stayed down. Clearly this wasn't a misunderstanding.
Ed's thoughts went wild again. Why would someone want him dead? Well, his profession he supposed, but he didn't think most people would have a gun maker killed. He suspected these men, or maybe someone they worked for, had been killed by something he'd made. Even so, usually a hit would be put out on the direct killer and not the person who made his weapon, and it wasn't like he'd sold that many of his weapons in the first place.
The bullets started again. Even the thick table Ed hid behind was going to give way at this rate; he had to come up with something or else he was going to die. Ed didn't really want to die all that much. He still had lots of things to build! Who would finish making all of those lightning guns if Ed died? It was about that moment Edward remembered the completed weapon he'd stashed in the corner. Ed madly dove forward and shoved his hands into the pile of metal he'd hidden it under. The sharp bits and bobs cut into his hand, but Ed barely felt it with everything else going on. He yanked the weapon out from its hiding spot, along with one of his fuel canisters. Like a man possessed he fumbled with the cylinder, shoving it clumsily into the ammo spout. Though it took him a few seconds to correctly lock it in given the circumstances a sharp whine from the weapon finally signified it was ready to fire. Just in time, as the gunmen paused once again in their firing.
The lead gunmen opened his mouth to shout once more, when suddenly Edward swung the gun over the table and pointed it the group of men. A few of the men in the group raised their weapons once more to fire at the now exposed Ed. However, quite wisely, the leader as well as a couple of the smarter members of the group dived for cover behind various objects. They'd heard of the tricks that the weapon maker had up his sleeve from their client and they weren't about to take any chances.
Ed pulled the trigger in unison with the members of the group still holding their ground. In perfect timing lead erupted from the men's rifles and pistols at the same moment the immense beam of energy launched from the tip of Ed's weapon. The look of shock of the gang's faces barely had time to register as the lighting knocked the speeding bullets out of the sky, sending them sparking into the walls and floors. Before any of them had time to move a blast of lighting struck the chest of the man at the head of the group, the blast arcing out of his body and into the other men near him.
The men's muscles began to spasm as their bodies were rocked with electricity. Ed held the trigger down and desperately tried to keep the weapon on target despite his shaking hands. He silently counted the seconds to himself. One, then two. Ed released his pull on the trigger and returned to cowering behind the table. That should be enough.
The men struck shivered in places for around a second, then each collapsed to the ground. They all gave the occasionally spasm over the next few seconds, and finally silence returned.
Ed shouted, his voice noticeably trembling as he did. "I don't know who you are, but there's more where that came from! Your men shouldn't be dead, why don't you just take them and leave me alone!" Ed's heavy breathing could be heard over the odd silence as he paused. "Don't make me hurt you any worse!"
For a good while no sound could be heard. Ed began to think that maybe the men had left. Once again he was about to poke his head out from his cover when the silence was broken. The lead gunman had started to laugh. For whatever reason, he found Ed's declaration hilarious.
"We know all about what you do, Edward! It doesn't scare us one bit! Our boss is on her way here right now, and nothing you throw at her is gonna be a match!" he shouted out at Ed, the man still hiding behind cover. Almost as if on cue the sound of footsteps could be heard outside the tavern.
Suddenly everything fell into place in Ed's mind. His thoughts were so loud that everyone nearby could swear they'd heard a gear in his mind lock into place. The color drained rapidly from his face, his hands began to tremble, and his knees began to knock. He had a guess who was about to step through the door, and it terrified him.
The door slowly creaked open and a man stepped inside, followed by another. Both of the men raised rifles at Ed's hiding spot. Both the men looked as if they were about to fire, when suddenly a woman's voice could be heard from outside. "Put those things down, you fools, let me handle him."
From the open door a girl entered the room, hoisting a rifle nearly as big as her over her shoulder. The two other men lowered their gun and saluted the lass, then stepped back to either side of the door.
Bizarrely, considering her apparent authority over the men, the girl was positively tiny. The men at the door dwarfed her by nearly two feet, the girl easily being just under five feet tall. And yet, despite her size, her face showed that she wasn't a girl at all, but a woman! Far from the features of a child, her features easily put her as middle aged. Hardly a child, it was simply an extremely tiny, full grown woman!
The woman opened her mouth and begun to speak. Before the words even left her throat Ed was shivering. "It's been a long time Edward. I doubt you even remember me-" she began calmly. However, she was suddenly cut off by Ed, who began shouting over her.
"I know who you are and I know who sent you! I'm not stupid!" Ed screamed, his voice full of fear and, oddly enough, anger and even sadness. His characteristic monotone had been shattered by the woman's presence, and it seemed like all the emotion he normally suppressed was bursting out at once.
The woman smirked lightly at Ed's outburst. "Well good." she continued, seemingly ignoring Ed's words completely. "That means this will be over quicker."
The original gunman from before took this as an opportunity to come out from his cover. He dashed up to the woman, his apparent boss, and promptly received a slap in the face from the woman. She gave him a glare that would tear the skin off a cow, and without saying a word the man shuffled out the door. The other remaining men from his group hoisted their unconscious partners over their shoulders and quickly exited with him. Ed took his cue, once more swunging his gun over the table and took aim.
He opened fire with the rifle again. The lighting from the weapon screamed across the room heading directly towards the tiny woman. Once more she smirked, not even bothering to move. Suddenly, just as it was about to strike the woman, the bolt veered wildly. Almost as if attempting to avoid contact with her it danced backwards, then upwards, before finally striking the wooden ceiling and dissipating into nothingness. Ed cursed under his breath and hid behind the table once more.
"You of all people should know your third rate toys aren't going to work on me, Edward!" the woman exclaimed with a laugh. "Let me show you how a real alchemical cannon works!" she continued, swinging her weapon off her shoulder and lowering its sights firmly on the table Ed was behind.
Ed cursed heavily in his mind. He had to move! Now! It didn't matter what was between him and the gun, it wasn't going to do him any good! His adrenaline and will to survive overrunning the shaking of his legs he dashed out from behind his cover, launching his body over the counter of the bar proper just as a thunderous roar erupted from where he had been mere milliseconds ago.
A blast of energy had erupted from the end of the woman's weapon, though nothing could actually be seen. Invisible or not, however, the presence of the blast could be felt from where Ed was now hiding, even before striking. The pressure from the blast moved all the air in the building, creating a horrible shriek as the wave flew towards its target. Finally it struck the table he had been behind.
The table erupted into splinters, along with the wall behind it. The splinters themselves seemed to shatter in mid-air, not even having time to settle before being further destroyed by the horrifying weapon the woman wielded. The terrifying weapon now fired, the woman raised the cannon to her shoulder once more.
Suddenly Ed popped up from behind bar. Taking a quick, deep breath he hurled a bottle at the woman at the door. The bottle shattered at her feet and flames exploded out in every direction. He had thrown makeshift firebomb. Using his cunning and quick thinking Ed had grabbed a bottle of booze from under the bar and torn his sleeve off to make a wick. He was using it to make his escape.
The flames spread quickly at the entrance. The two men at the door dived out the door and into the street to escape the blaze. However the deadly woman once more simply smiled. The flames seemed to ignore her completely, and even with the area around her burning the fire seemed to form a ring around her in which it would not go. But though she was unharmed and ready for more it was irrelevant, for Ed was gone. He'd jumped out of the window behind the bar and into the alley behind the tavern.
The woman marched back out the door, the flames abruptly putting themselves out each time she came close. She turned her head just before exiting , and gave one last shout over the flames. "You know it's not over, right Edward?! You should know me better then that!" Whether Ed actually heard her or not didn't matter, she was positive he already knew.
Ed raced down the alley, still cursing. He could hear the commotion in the street caused by the sudden noises and fire, but he didn't care. He ran for all his life, desperate to get back to the Steamhawke. It was the only place he suspected he would be even a little safe, and on top of that he wanted to get out of the area before anyone could put him at the scene. Considering his company at the moment he didn't want to be put on a wanted list for the port authority, and he especially didn't want to be put in a cell, where there would be no escape from a future attack.
Once he'd gotten a good distance away Ed stopped to catch his breath. The excitement over for the moment, he actually caught himself laughing. The Captain had told everyone specifically not to cause an ounce of trouble if they went on shore-leave, and he'd already been instrumental in starting a fire on the docks. He was going to be in big trouble when he got back to the ship.
But any trouble was better then the trouble he was already in.