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Thread: Thief - the Mental Age, chapter seven

  1. #1
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama

    Thief - the Mental Age, chapter seven

    Thief II: The Mental Age

    A Thief II parody by Lars Melander (odourpreventer)
    Based on the work made and copyrighted © 2001 by Seamus Sullivan (Muuurgh)
    With thanks to Sarah Hard (Catkyn)

    He who keeps
    his work in disorder
    is not part of the solution.
    Let him be struck
    with revisions and awkward questions
    to forge a better work environment.

    – Kletus, seminar at Angelwatch MechaCon.
    Last edited by odourpreventer; 10th Sep 2005 at 12:42.

  2. #2
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    Chapter 7 – Trace the courier/someone/whatever

    So, just when you think things can't get weirder, it turns out Mostly's got a soft spot for the Pagans. She has an alibi for the murder, which might have come as news if the whole town didn't already know it.

  3. #3
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    It was a nice evening for a stalk. The afternoon had just gone to bed, but the night had not quite gotten its boots on, meaning that it was still bright enough to see clearly, but with plenty of shadows to skulk. What better than for Mostly to leave her office with a suspicious-looking envelope in her left gloved hand, and a sword in her right.

    With her hands full of sharp edges, Gary hoped she wouldn't need to scratch her eye. Scars never looked good on gals. The male counterparts, however, usually didn’t mind a disfiguring but awe-inspiring badly healed slash wound across the face – as long as it helped improving one's reputation. Gary even knew a barber who, for a modest fee, helped with touching up facial appearances without the risk of losing an eye or nostril. He was the only barber Gary knew who kept his surgical appliances blunt.

    Anyhow, she disguised her evening stroll as a guard inspection, which quickly became repetitive. It would start with a guard spotting Mostly approaching, and trying to look sharp, or at least sharper. Then Mostly would say something like "Hey there! Staying on your toes, are you?" and the guard would answer with something like "I'm trying to, ma'am! But you see, I gets tired in ma calves after a while ...", whereupon Mostly would quickly interrupt whatever was on the guard's mind with a quick "Keep up the good work!" and that was Gary's cue to sneak up behind the guard and make sure he didn't. As far as evening strolls went, Gary went as far as admitting he had had far less enjoyable ones.

  4. #4
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    Just as it started to get boring, and Gary's mood dropped, so did the letter. Mostly let it slip from her fingers, Gary let her slip away and he sneaked up to the spot where the letter lay resting. He checked his notepad:

    Follow the letter to its recipient: Not done yet

    Read the letter just for fun: Not done yet

    Snatch at least six purses before knocking out the owners: Not done yet

    Gary hastily erased the last one while pretending to look the other way, and then he carefully opened the envelope and had a look at the contents:

    Dear friends, ape-beasts and others

    Let me try and make something clear to you. If you want a murder to look like a crime of passion, you had better make it look like a crime of passion. I told you once and I tell you again, leave the thinking to the professionals. If ms Twiggy condoned this, then we shall have a discussion later regarding our mutual agreement. The deal was, as I can recall, that I help you wherever I can within the City, and in return you let me call the shots in all matters involving guard matters. What part of this don’t you understand?

    Captain (acting) Mostly

    Gary smiled. Ah, so it is a conspiracy. Might be fun to see where this is heading. He put the letter back on the ground and melted into the shadows, waiting for someone to continue the relay. Meanwhile, scattered conversations could be heard through the evening breeze.

    "What's a big fella like you doing out here at night?" said a voice saturated with promises of good times at affordable prices.

    "Aah, ahaha ..." This voice, on the other hand, wouldn't know good times if they weren't brewed, distilled, bottled and smashed over the head.

    "Don't you want a woman t'keep you warm?"

    "What for? This uniform is plenty warm enough, an' it's not even cold out tonight!"

    "Wouldn't you like to come over to my place, to get out of the cold?"

    "Ya know, if you step over here, out of the wind, I'll show you what I’ve got in my trousers. Might even make a girl like youse happy."

    "Ooh, you really know how to sweet-talk a girl," she said with, Gary thought, a little more excitement than appropriate. He heard the sound of a belt being unbuckled. Then there was a brief silence of nothing happening and no-one saying anything.

    "Well, officer, you sure are a man full of surprises," she said meekly.

    "Yep, wanna get some?"

    "You'd do that for me?"

    "Sure, nobody should be without a pair of army-issue long-johns! You'll never freeze again!"

    "I'm not sure a lady should wear leggings, but thank you all the same," She said, and with a quick nod hurried away.

  5. #5
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    From where he was standing, Gary had a clear view over the local market place. It was easy to imagine people walking about, haggling and trading, carrying fat purses, ripe for the plucking. And next to the market was the canal where the infamous "Central Fountain" had been built. Years ago, the city elders had decided that a fountain be built in the city centre. But the entrepreneurs had taken it literally, and before anyone had been able to stop them they had built the fountain at the City's geographical centre, which at the moment had been in the middle of this canal. The fountain had been quite impressive once, but nowadays it was merely a sad sprinkle. And—someone was heading towards the letter, and if tatty clothing hadn't become fashionable recently, it was a pagan. A nondescript man picked indeed up the letter and walked on by.

    There were plenty of guards on the streets in the evenings nowadays, the City Watch having adopted the view that quantity mattered more than anything else, and few other people, them having adopted the view that you quickly value the comfort of being indoors if everywhere you turn there is an armed person staring fiercely at you. Never trust a person who signs up for a job just because they get to wear a uniform and kill people. It perplexed Gary a bit that none of them even offered the pagan a second glance on the continued journey. Normally, they wouldn't think twice about harassing someone who didn't look like a taxpayer.

    Is this Mostly’s doing? Gary knew that if they caught the slightest glimpse of a cloaked figure, they would come charging like a pack of starving wolves spotting a wounded meatloaf. But that was all to reason; several of the guards had tasted the bitter kiss of oblivion from the business end of Gary's blackjack more than once, and had a personal agenda to settle. It was like having the opposite of a fan club. But why wasn't the pagan heading towards any of the city exits?

  6. #6
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    "... And thusly, we haveth what is generally known as an ambush." Only a slight tremor in his voice revealed the commander's exasperation. Four pairs of eyes stared at him in polite incomprehension. Mechalomaniacs in general had the same grasp of basic combat tactics as aquatic wildlife had of pedal-powered vehicles. The commander sighed. This could have been so easy. They had received intel, from Builder and Housepainter knows where, that a pagan courier was going to enter the graveyard this evening carrying a message. They were to intercept this courier by any means necessary and the commander had decided to do so with a coordinated surprise attack. And now he vainly tried to get his subordinates’ minds around such strange words as "coordinated" and "surprise".

    "Friend Riga, wouldst thou like to reiterate the steps for our attack procedure?" He tried to smile encouragingly, but her deer-in-the-headlights expression was almost painful to watch.

    "We—hideth at designated locations, waiting for our prey. When spotteth him, we waits for thine signal, and so we righteously smite this heretic." She looked like a dog that was expecting a whipping.

    "Very good! Now, didst everyone get that?" he asked. There were encouraging smiles and nods all around. "That’s excellent! Now, taketh thine positions. And remember thee not to make the slightest whisper until I giveth the signal!"

    This is strange, Gary thought, where did the guards go? The streets were empty except for the two of them.

    "OK, everyone ready," the commander mouthed. "On mine signal, four, three—"




    "WAIT FOR ME!"

    What followed could have made a textbook example of how not to apprehend someone, but the commander would probably kill anyone trying to take notes, because there is only so much embarrassment one can take. Gary had to bite his lip not to laugh out loud. After a few intense seconds of people yelling psalm citations, stepping in front of each other and generally being counter-productive, the pagan had disappeared into the graveyard, bruised and bleeding but still at large.

    He shook his head in disbelief. "Brethren, Sistren, thou was so promising at rehearsal. Didst thou forget so quickly?"

    Four pairs of eyes failed to meet the commander's stare. "Sorry..." "Didst not mean to..." "Got so excited..." "..." He sighed. Common sense just wasn't that common nowadays. One of the men turned towards the entrance.

    "Friend Stalwart, where art thou going?" the commander asked.

    One of the men turned at the cemetery gates. "I'm going—eth to catch the wrongdoer, commander."

    "Oh no, thee won't. Regulations strictly specify that a priest be accompanying through unsanitary graveyards. Besides, this be the only entrance. He won't be going anywhere."

    "But, our maces hast been blessed to injure the walking dead, and there may be a portal..."

    "Wilst thou obey my command, or do thou want thyself signed up for robot maintenance duty?" the commander bellowed. Stalwart's face paled. He shook his head vigorously. "Good!" he continued. "Now guard this gate while I getst a priest."

  7. #7
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    Typical. Gary had a sensation that the pagan had somehow moved on, but the only entrance was guarded, in a well-lit area, by people who had just messed up and were eager to compensate for the previous mishaps. Or was it really the only one? The City's crypts were notorious for having hidden entrances. That way, the nobles could have fancy funerals with golden robes, jewellery and other tasteless but exclusive trinkets, and after the ceremony was finished the mourning family could sneak in and get the goods away from the prospects of grave robbers, or put it to better use. Gary headed back to find an alternate route.

  8. #8
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    The City is one of merchants, and can pretty much be defined by the sounds it makes. There is the general hubbub of commerce, with lines like "Of course it's genuine! See the stamp here?" and "You call these eggs fresh, you taffin' liar?" floating to the top. Then there are the sounds of children at play, easily recognized with sounds like "Keep your hands off, you filthy little bugger!" and "Me peg leg! They took me peg leg!"

    There are also the occasional cries of "Oh sh—" followed by a splash, especially late on Saturday nights. That is because the City has more canals than—well, any city with a lot of canals, because the merchants mentioned need means of transportation; parts of the City are little more than islands of masonry held together with bridges. What they felt they didn't need were safety railings.

    Thus it was, when Gary rounded a corner, he stumbled upon yet another couple of the creatures of the night; a woman, who could talk and pout at the same time without looking ridiculous, and a Watch guard, who wasn't impressed. Gary waited for them to leave, when he realised another guard was approaching from behind him. And it wasn't really on a street he was standing—more of a ledge, actually. He was quickly running out of personal space and options...

    There was a splash.

    Many said that the City was like Amsterdam or Venice, only smellier. If the gardens of the City were its lungs, the canals were its digestive system; the feed came in by barge and the shit went out with the tide. This quaint analogy did nothing for Gary's mood, however. Many a word passed through his mind, but "quaint" certainly weren't one of them. He wished that once, just once, he could finish a job according to plan – without getting beat up or soaked in sewer water.

    "Why am I doing this?" he said to himself, pausing at a ladder and watching a rat carcass float by. "Oh yeah, because it pays so well." He would have laughed if he didn't feel so depressed.

    And then he found himself approaching the graveyard again, from the other direction this time. Why did I come back here? Why do I even care? Why don't I go back and plunder the neighbourhood, peep in on Mostly, and tell the Creepers to shove it next time I see them? Because I'm too frickin' curious, that's why. Curse my longing to unravel the mysteries beyond the horizon! He turned towards the graveyard wall. "Now then, where's my secret entrance?"

  9. #9
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    "Commander Cringe dost takest his sweet time," Stalwart said, leaning against the wall near the graveyard entrance, his fellow monk standing guard in the entranceway and the two nuns sitting on an upturned crate on the other side, engrossed in some quiet nun-talk (it's like girl-talk, but without the juicy parts).

    "Our dearest chief needs to go to the monastery at Newmarket and back. Even at a brisk pace it will takest him six strikes of the bell, perhaps even two hours," his monk colleague answered him.

    Stalwart brightened. "That means we have at least an hour to get something to drink and leaving our commander none the wiser. By the Builder and Housepainter, I could really use a tankard of his blessings right now. Ladies!" he called to the nuns, "Wouldst thou mayhap feel like having a cold one? The captain will not return for at least an hour and I knowest a place nearby."

    The nuns shared a glance, smiled and stood. "Friend Carnot," Riga said to the monk in the entranceway, "wilst thou hold the grounds till we return with drinks?"

    "Sure, makest mine a tankard too, and a kielbasa wouldst they have some."

    The trio smiled and headed off in Gary's direction.

  10. #10
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Location: yo mama
    Damn, Gary thought, no secret entrance so far, but I've only searched for ten minutes. I'll have to search for at least another twenty before I can give up and lean nonchalantly against the wall and accidentally push a hidden lever. He heard voices approaching, and sighed. I guess it's going to take a bit longer than that.

    Standing on his knees, he stood up. And hit his head on a mounted torch holder he had previously missed. There was a nasty grating sound, but fortunately not from Gary's head. The torch holder turned and a secret entrance slid open. Gary tried to focus on the opening behind the specks dancing before his eyes and crawled through it, into an ordinary looking crypt sporting a large sarcophagus and little else.

    To Gary's surprise, the crypt doors opened with a slight push. So, the dead like to take a stroll every now and then? A healthy stretch of the bones, smell the evening breeze with their non-existent noses, that kind of thing? He saw the still wet blood from his pursuee glistening on the grass. But since the crypt entrances were unlocked, there weren't any harm in snooping around, were there?

    He made a miniscule detour and opened another set of doors. "Knock, knock, anybody—home?" Actually, there was an occupant, lying face down besides an opened sarcophagus and looking very deceased indeed. And on a small shelf in the far wall was a golden chalice. Gary's fingers twitched.

    His eyes darted between the prospective loot and the napping zombie blocking the way. If I put my foot there, my hand there and then cross over... Oh, what the hell— He stepped firmly on the zombie's chest, leaned over and grabbed the cup, and quickly left leaving the zombie moaning and flailing its arms.

    "Sorry about the footprint, nothing personal!" Gary said before slamming the crypt doors.

    "Blaaflaarblbl!" ("This is an affront! That chalice is of great sentimental value! Return it at once, you malevolent man!")

    The blood trail disappeared under another pair of doors. Gary opened them and was greeted by a red pulsing light. He sighed.

    "Was expecting something like this would appear." He stepped towards the large portal. Why in the world would someone hide a teleportation portal in a crypt? Maybe they got a good deal on the lease contract. He was just about to step through when a thought struck him, followed by a cold sweat.

    What if there was a hideous surprise awaiting him at the other side? What if he materialised above a herd of rabid sheep with barbwire for wool? Or a pool filled to the brim with year old sour crème? Thoughts rampaged through Gary's mind, each one of them paying homage to some horror B-movie plot device.

    "I guess there’s only one way to find out." He stepped through the opaque red mist, and vanished.

    End of chapter

  11. #11
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Girl with the Patreon Tattoo
    I like it !
    You managed to keep the spirit from Muuurgh's work, while adding some personal touch. Keep up the good work

  12. #12
    Registered: Feb 2003
    Gary enters the Hemorrhage Cathedral, but one of the Hemors notices the door opening: "I will find thee and bleed upon thee!"
    "Strange!" Garry thought to himself. "They usually don't notice when a door gets opened right in their faces!"

  13. #13
    Registered: Mar 2004

    What if there was a hideous surprise awaiting him at the other side? What if he materialised above a herd of rabid sheep with barbwire for wool?

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