Spacer Turn 25
  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Spelljammer | Turn 25 |



Turn 25
    Emmett separates himself from Pham and Alais for the afternoon, after getting assurances of seeing them later that night. He then makes his way back to the rooms he is sharing with Inez at high speed, hoping that he'll be able to catch up with her.
    After a half hour of following her trail through the markets, being directed by one shopkeeper after another, he finally finds her. She's looking over some sturdy clothes, and carrying a few small paper-wrapped packages. Emmett doesn't bother to be stealthy, just making his best speed to her side.
    "Hi. I hope you found yourself something prettier than that?"
    "Oh, don't you worry," she grins.
    After a brief hug and a longer kiss, he suggests they stop for a drink, and in a bustling open-air bar they sip some wine while he splits his time between bringing her up to speed on Ginevra's problems and explaining how he needs her help.
    "Wow." Inez contemplates the whole mess for a few moments, shakes her head and finishes her drink. "Anything I can do, I guess...."
    "Glad to hear it" Emmett stands up and holds her chair for her as she rises, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek to tank her for helping out. It's obvious that Emmett is 'at the reins' and even Inez's obvious charms won't keep him from keeping this thing aloft.

* * *

    Nyala is napping when ibn Fadil returns to the Gilded Vine, though she wakes at the sound of the door opening.
    "Good evening. You were out for a while," she observes curiously.
    "Much too long," he says, stopping short of the bed and ostentatiously putting his hands behind his back. "We have to go out," he explains, "but I know if I touch you I will forget all about it."
    "Oh?" She looks amused. "Well then, we shall have to take care of this business as quickly as possible, yes?" While speaking, she straightens her clothing, runs a comb through her hair, and checks her rapier. "Where are we going?"
    "Emmett seems to have latched on to the lady's problem, I think because of Valarin's interest," he goes on. "He has suggested that everyone interested meet at this show, the 'Wonders of the Northern Woods,' this evening at seven bells." He is not pretending to be very happy about this.
    "The woman has a remarkable talent for enlisting resources," she remarks. "Perhaps I needn't have worried at all. Let us then meet them; if nothing else some entertainment may remove that sour look. Although," she adds with a slight wince, shifting her weight, "I think if I am on this planet much longer my boots will need a cobbler's care - I lost track of the miles early today."
    "Too much time aboard ship. But the only thing that alarms me more than what Emmett might plan is what Valarin might *do.* He seems to think that hiding her in a cellar somewhere would answer."
    She shrugs. "That is not so alarming."
    "No?" He stops at the door. "To me it seems dangerous and ... inappropriate. Well. It seems I learned my mother's disdain for such women, but not to be careless with them." He looks a bit perturbed by this insight.
    "Well, compared to what he *might* have in mind," she amends with a twitch of her eyebrow. "What is your solution?"
    "If only I had one!" he says, finally going out into the hall. "It seems there is no way to break his claim to her, so we can only hope that Emmett has thought of something workable."
    Ibn Fadil leads Nyala along a circuitous route to the show (by which he is prepared to be unimpressed). Having paid his/their way in, he looks around for any of the rest of the crew.

* * *

    As Val and Hiro make their way to the Wonders of the Northern Wood, the young sailor is lost in thought. His mind wanders back to his last business trip to Mercadur...
    The associate Val was to meet with in Mercadur had turned up dead, floating face down at the docks; the merchandise Val expected to retrieve, gone. He didn't have much choice but to return to Driahn empty handed. Val's mentor, Circio wasn't very upset about it, but somebody else was. The morning after his return, Circio was dead. Their clients thought Circio and Val had cheated them out of the last shipment and word on the street said Val was next. With little hope of talking his way out of the deadly situation, Val had chosen to flee. He's been running ever since...
    "I'm getting tired of running," he says finally, mostly to himself. Val knows the swordsman is listening, but continues his train of thought anyway. "I've been running from one thing or another since Circio died, and I'm getting damned tired of it. It's got to stop."
    Before he realizes it, Val finds himself at the exhibition hall where his fellow shipmates agreed to meet. They expected him to have a plan. The sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach reminds him that he still doesn't have one. Reluctantly, he enters the Wonders of the Northern Wood show...
    Emmett and Inez are out front, talking to some other attendees. While Emmett doesn't acknowledge them in any way, Val can hear the half man's voice through the crowd "...Cats. I'd see it again and again."
    A short time later the couple work their way in with the evening's crowd. Emmett is able to make out Val's tall form over towards the corner, and steers Inez over there, pretending to go admire one of the early exhibits. It's obvious that despite everything, the half man is enjoying the opportunity to play spy.
    A few feet away but facing the other direction and apparently engrossed, Emmett pitches his voice low enough for Val and Hiro, but hopefully no one else. "Hey. I have the beginnings of a plan. How about you?"
    The Kensai's body all but sighs. Hiro glances at Emmett with a wince and a head shake that suggests they've had thoughts but nothing even close to resembling a plan. He then shifts his gaze to Val to elaborate verbally.
    Val looks over casually at Emmett and offers a half smile. "Not unless you consider the direct approach a plan," he mutters. The words may come out as a low growl, but the look in his eyes says he's half serious...
    Ibn Fadil and Nyala join the group too late to hear Valarin's words, but his expression causes the half-elf to look worried and apologetic. "I hope someone has an idea," he says, "because none of mine have worked out."
    Val nods just barely to ibn Fadil, acknowledging he heard. He smiles politely at Nyala before scanning the rest of the crowd casually for signs of anyone watching them or eavesdropping. He stands a little apart from the others, appearing to be interested in a particularly colorful display of flora behind glass. But for a brief moment, he could have sworn one of the vines in there had moved on its own...
    "So, did everything go well at your temple?" Val asks Emmett quietly as he sidles up closer to the half-man. He gestures towards the glass, as if commenting on the display.
    "Pretty well. Got some ideas. Let's wait till the next room - there's a spot in there where we an talk quietly and not be overheard."
    Emmett indeed waits until they're ushered into the next room, where he stakes out a spot in an alcove for the others to join him. Once everyone's there, he begins talking quietly, making sure to not be overheard by outsiders.
    "Ok, unless someone's got something better, I have a plan that will get Ginevra somewhere safe, and maybe even get Victor off Janik. It's safe for Ginevra, but entails a little risk for some of us."
    "The core of the plan is that Victor is both watching us and a cocky, vindictive little twerp. Val, what do you think would happen if you and Hiro went into the infirmary, bundled Ginevra into a cloak and brought her off to 'jammer that you'd chartered to take the three of you off Janik?"
    Val simply stares at Emmett for a moment. He hadn't even thought about that particular course of action, except as a last resort. He's been too preoccupied with other matters--
    Then it dawns on him that Emmett seemed to have something else in mind.
    "He'd likely give chase," Val says, stating what he hopes is the obvious answer. "But we won't be aboard that 'jammer, will we..." It was more statement than question. He waits patiently for the half-man to finish his plan.
    Emmett nods, glad that Val is keeping up. "Not quite - you and Hiro my well be on that Jammer. Maybe with me too. And this lovely lady right here," He inclines his head to his female companion before continuing, "who will have openly and thus inconspicuously entered the infirmary hours before. It's Inez, wearing Ginevra's clothes, with her hair dyed to match - if we can manage it, with a wig if not - and some padding around her lovely narrow waist."
    "Ginevra doesn't move until the men Victor has watching the ship have gone off after you - or us, if we think there's any chance of Victor trying something stupid. I don't want to leave Inez's side if we think that's possible. Anyway, once Victor's all up in arms about the fake Ginevra making a break for it, his eyes will be off the infirmary. Then Pham, Alais and Ibn Fadil walk her calmly out and deposit her with a local church. Aram the Chief Artificer at the temple of Gond thinks the Temple of Hera would be our best choice for a woman looking for discreet sanctuary from an abusive husband. None of us have any ties there, so Victor would have no reason for searching there to even occur to him - and even if it did, he has no authority to do so."
    Emmett smiles a small smile. "The best part about this is that all we're guilty of is acting suspicious. You two make a display of renting a ship. Inez chooses an odd place to dye her hair and change her clothes. We go off on a brief pleasure cruise around the moon. If Victor tries anything against us, he's nailed by the law and we're in the clear. Ginevra has sanctuary and clerical help. And maybe the docking authority won't even give Victor permission to land again, since he has no real reason to be here and has been annoying the Three Trees people."
    "What do you think?"
    Hiro smiles. "A clever hawk hides his claws." The swordsman nods in approval of the plan.
    Ibn Fadil frowns in thought. "Too complicated," he opines. "Did you plan to warn this 'jammer that an irate husband might pursue it? And who would pay for it?" He shrugs apologetically at Emmett. "If you have found a good place to hide her, then why not slip her out the back of the infirmary and be done with it?"
    "There is a back door, but only one gate through the perimeter wall," Val mentions. "They only need to watch that one gate." He is still interested in the plan, despite ibn Fadil's apparent reluctance.
    Emmett nods, as if he'd thought of that. "Because with all of Victor's people watching the place, we *can't* safely get her out. Unless these guys are so stupid that they're only watching the front door, or we're going to try and get an 8 month pregnant woman out a window or across the rooftops. They need to be looking elsewhere - otherwise they'll just stop her before we get to the temple, which would leave her even worse off, or just start watching the temple, which would leave us right back where we started."
    "As for the Jammer trip, we may not even need to take it. Val and Hiro put down a deposit, which would be much cheaper, and then do the hustling out. Making the rental under the watchful eyes of Victor's goons is just to add a touch of...well, to make it seem more real to him. It doesn't matter if they get on the ship or not, or if the ship leaves dock or not - what matters is Victor and his men are looking at Val and company, and not at the infirmary. Giving him any reason to think that it's really Ginevra with them will increase the chance of that."
    "If we don't see Victor's goons run off to warn the boss or tail Val, than we don't move Ginevra out. Then we're out the cost of a wig and a deposit, but Ginevra's no worse off. She hasn't moved, and Victor still has nothing legitimate to complain to the authorities about."
    Emmett looks at Ibn Fadil again, "Unless you have something better and easier with less risk. If you do, I'm all ears - I just think we're running out of time, and this is something we could run tomorrow if need be."
    "I don't mind spending the money for a decoy," Val says into the pause. He gives Emmett an appreciative smile, relieved that they were not all relying upon his plan.
    Of course, he may still get his chance if-- *when* Victor takes the bait... And this way, Ginevra would be still safe. He meets the Kensai's eye for a moment, and Val has the feeling the swordsman was thinking the same thing.
    "The one gate is a problem," the half-elf admits. "But I still think it would be better if the Victor thought she was still in the infirmary. Having it watched would keep him occupied, and he would have no reason to try to make one of us tell him where she is." 
    He seems oddly unperturbed by that thought, but looks at the others for a moment to see if they understand him. "He has only four men with him that I have seen, though I suspect he has as many as six --"
    "At least six," Val interjects.
    "-- and it should not be hard to keep them busy elsewhere while a rented carriage takes the lady off to these Heraites." He nods at Val. "If Valarin here is willing, I think the Victor and two or three of his men could be persuaded to follow *him* for a while, to start with." 
    Val stares at the half-elf for a moment, trying to sort out this revised plan .
    "Waitaminute," he says with a trace of irritation, "I thought you just said you thought it better if he didn't have the chance to make one of us tell him anything. Now you want me to be the *lone* bait to draw him away?" He gives the Zakharan a suspicious look...
    "We want only one man watching the infirmary," ibn Fadil explains smoothly. "A little sleight of hand should convince him the lady has not left -- I have a idea about that, but it requires the help of one or two people who are not part of the _Cat_'s crew and so cannot be recognized, but I think I can find them." 
    Turning to Val, he adds, "I have no intention of letting them catch you. I think Hiro should go with you, to discourage them a bit, and I will follow along in case things get out of hand." Which is only fair, the thinks, since he is the one proposing the plan. 
    "Too many captains will sail a boat up a mountain." Hiro seems to have some hesitancy to add outsiders to the mix.... 
    Val thinks a moment about what that's supposed to mean. "No outsiders?" he asks, trying to interpret the swordsman's meaning.
    "I would make them crew, not captains," ibn Fadil says dryly. "But if you all are comfortable with dodging the man until we can all get off this moon, we can drop that idea. We will probably have to dodge him anyway, after all," he adds in an irritated tone. "I would just prefer to keep his reasons for it to a minimum." 
    Turning to Val, he adds, "I have no intention of letting them catch you. I think Hiro should go with you, to discourage them a bit, and I will follow along in case things get out of hand." Which is only fair, the thinks, since he is the one proposing the plan.
    "I have no intention of letting them catch me, either," Val responds to ibn Fadil with a half-smile to break the tension he feels building.  "And you don't have to go. Don't want you recognized if things *do* go bad." He says the last in an even tone, without spite. He doesn't want another row with the half-elf. Not here, not now.
    "Basically," he sums things up, "it's the same plan, minus the pleasure cruise. Either way, we're agreed that a decoy is necessary."
    Emmett's been watching the back and forth before chiming in. "No outsiders. We should be able to handle it, and anyone outside of this, or outside this meeting, just increases the chances of one of Victor's men figuring out that the decoy's a decoy."
    "Ibn Fadil, I kinda like the idea of them still thinking she's in there, but if we don't use a fake Ginevra - which is pretty much guaranteed to get all of their attention and reduce it to one man watching the place - how do you intend on luring all the watches away in a less dangerous fashion. I don't want to break any laws, hurt anyone who doesn't draw on us first, or leave any of us off by ourselves."
    Emmett takes in everyone with a glance before returning his gaze to the half-elf, "The fake Ginevra keeps the seven of us in two groups of three and four with single destination trips. You'd better have a hell of an ace up that sleeve to convince me we should draw attention to ourselves and then split up more than that just to add in a little more confusion to our ol pal Vic."
    "I am not sure I understand you," ibn Fadil says. "My thought was to quickly hide the lady in the carriage while the watcher was distracted, and then have a couple of strangers openly get in and drive away. If you want no one else involved ..." He shrugs. "I suppose that if you flee back to the infirmary with the false Ginevra when confronted, that would also serve. A carriage would help with that deception, also."
    "Well, if all we want is a carriage driver, that's different. All he has to know is where he's taking people. And if we're hustling her in during a distraction, we can just as easily hustle in You or Pham or Alais. That way she's with someone we trust who can defend her if the worst happens."
    "But I don't think we want a carriage on the False Ginevra - Vic's men need plenty of time to see her and respond, which a carriage wouldn't give them. I suppose we could try to jump a carriage if they confront us, but there's no good way to time that. That just gets way more complicated - though they could try and head back to the Infirmary on foot if something happens, just on general principles."
    Val's turn to listen to the exchange back and forth for a moment as he watches the crowd viewing the exhibit. "I think Emmett has a good point though," he says after a moment. "if we can get the whole lot of them to come after us, it's that much easier to move her without notice. Easiest way to do that is move that which he wants most. Or make him think we are..."
    Of course, Val still feels guilty for dragging Inez into the mess further. He casts her an apologetic look.
    "But if they catch the decoy, then they will guess that we have succeeded in moving the real lady," ibn Fadil objects. "Perhaps we should abandon the idea of making him think she is still in the infirmary," he says reluctantly. "I think it would be wiser, but it also seems to make the problem too difficult to solve."
    "No, look," Emmett says, "the key thing is to get Ginevra out through the gate ..." He and the half-elf, with the occasional comment from Val, rapidly chew over the problem and proposed solutions and finally come up with a plan they can agree on:
    Val and Hiro will arrange to be observed chartering a Spelljammer. The disguised Inez, accompanied by Val, Hiro, and Nyala, will leave the infirmary by the front door and go toward the docks, hopefully drawing off all or most of the watchers. Emmett will (reluctantly) stay behind at the front door in order to come out and distract any remaining watchers when Ginevra, accompanied by Pham, Alais, and ibn Fadil, slips out the side door into a wagon with a hired driver. The wagon will then drive out through the gate and Emmett will try to catch up with the decoy party. The decoy party will try to pretend to be driven back to the infirmary or come up with a pretext to return there so it appears that Ginevra is still there. Once the real Ginevra is safely on her way, ibn Fadil will double back to see what is going on with the decoy group.
    "But I don't want anybody to be left alone," Emmett objects at that point.
    "Do not worry about me," ibn Fadil says.
    "Perhaps Inez can fake-it to look like she needs the healer again before we can get aboard? You know, something to do with the baby," Val suggests, thinking of a plausible reason why the decoy group would return.
    "Of course," he continues darkly, "we may very well get intercepted if they see we aren't leaving. We should be ready for that."
    Emmett and Inez will try to see the Heraites this evening; if they have no luck, Inez and Nyala will try tomorrow morning. Val and Hiro will hire the ship in the morning and, later, meet Emmett to see about hiring a wagon and finding a chestnut wig.
    Pham arrived at the Northern Woods shortly after Emmett did, and listened politely as everyone discussed the plan. His eyes, however, showed an uncharacteristic distance and concern.
    Near the end of the conversation, he hears his name mentioned and refocuses with a start. "Oh... yes, I'll be happy to help out in the group taking the lady to the Heraites. I'll also go ahead and get the carriage reserved. I suspect that Victor's men don't connect me with the rest of you yet, so I'd be a good person to take care of that detail."
    "I apologize for not really paying attention - my interview with the poor madman has concerned me somewhat. I have a feeling that his vision is important, but I've no idea what it means."
    Alais, having listened to most of the planning session without comment, shakes his head and wanders off. He'll be spending tomorrow at the library, working on something *important.*

* * *

    After the meeting, Emmett leads the way back through the town, keeping a lookout for tails, and does his best to follow the directions given to him by the Contemplator to the temple of Hera. "If anyone's likely to help her, it's them. However, from what Aram told me, they aren't that...trusting...of male petitioners. I'm hoping that you'll do most of the Apple tree. That looks like the place."
    The temple is in a converted manor house that has seen some additions over the course of the past fifty years, though it's still small compared to some of the others they've seen. Aram told him to ask for Lelia, who knows him. This entails something of a wait. A few women pass through on their way to other parts of the temple; Emmett is cheered by the fact that they wear quite distinctive robes, dark red with a closure like the "eye" of a peacock's feather.
    A meal is cooking, somewhere off in the distance is a wailing baby and the thud of children's feet, and out back the birds who donated the feathers are making their customary ungodly racket. Not exactly serene.
    "Yes?" A somewhat harried-looking middle-aged woman sweeps through the door into the front hall where they are waiting. "What does he need *now?*" She's apparently referring to Aram. The sword she's wearing somewhat spoils the matronly effect.
    "Ma'am." Inez inclines her head respectfully. "Sorry to interrupt, but it's an urgent matter. We're here on behalf of a woman who traveled from Bral on our ship...." She lays out Ginevra's situation quickly, adding, "I was on the Rock for a while, and some of the stories about this guy would curl your hair. We have a plan, but it's going to require some help." She glances at Emmett.
    "Let me explain...."

| Top | Previous Page Next Page


© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson