Lone Ranger

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Lone Ranger A Light Spark in Darkness
Characters
Feline Worker icon.png
Bean the Infected
Victorian Guard A icon.png
Guards' Captain
Mafioso icon.png
Imposing Black-Suit
Female Victorian icon.png
Infected Citizen
Feline Girl icon.png
Little "Witch" Minnie
Dossoles Thug B icon.png
Loud-Mouthed Man
Mafioso icon.png
Sly Black-Suit
Barman
Fire Brigade Member
Backgrounds
Storehouse
1
Victoria Streets
2
Office
3
Green Spark
4
Victoria Streets Night
5
Cabin
6
Bar
7
House
8
Hillock Street Aftermath
9
Despite her colleagues' opposition, Mounted Officer Grani investigates the arson at the pub. As the suspects flee, they inadvertently set off an explosion.
<Background 1>
November 19th, 1097, 7:44 A.M.
Grani And you don't remember when someone first opened it up?
Bean the Infected Has to have been two months ago, at least.
But we always sealed this part off with planks. A few naughty kids pulled them off to climb in a while back, so it might just be the same story this time.
Grani Have you seen anyone go in or out?
Bean the Infected No, it's dark as night down here. Why would anyone?
Grani Alright... got it.
*Sigh* This still isn't making sense... and it's so suspicious. I've already found six abandoned structures up till now where the entryway's started being used again.
Plenty of witnesses are testifying about dragging sounds from the underground channels at evening, too. The atmosphere around the Infected community just doesn't sit right. It feels like someone's fiddling about.
Not one person's got a reason to be using these entrances again...
(Claps face)
Forget it, enough of that for now. Both the littlest things and the big stuff the town's survival hinges on are just as important, yep!
Let's see what else there is... Oh, yeah... the burglary case at Count Bishmer's.
Where do I start investigating that?
*Sigh*... Who would it be? Slipping past a noble house's strict defenses and stealing something isn't your standard thief's fare.
According to the Count's servants, the burglar pops in and out all over the Infected neighborhood. So, they're either extra familiar with the terrain there, or have special Originium Arts.
—Of course, that's assuming the servants aren't lying to avoid responsibility.
...Hmm, I don't think they would though. I've heard a lot of similar reports the last two weeks. All signs say there really is some thief on the run in Caladon City.
A very strange thief, special Originium Arts...
Whatever, let's drop by the Infected community and see.
<Background 2>
Infected Citizen Grani, finally found you!
Grani Mrs. Sunny? Calm down, calm down, what's the matter?
Infected Citizen My little Pom's run away! I've been looking for two hours already, help me find him! He usually listens so well, he's never run off before, what if someone bad finds him...
Grani No worries, Missus, I'll help you look right away!
Infected Citizen Thank you, thank you!
Grani Did anything happen right before Pom ran away? Have you asked anyone nearby? ...Ah, don't rush, Missus, take it slow...
<Background fades out and in>
An hour later.
Grani Over here, Mrs. Sunny, I've found Pom!
Infected Citizen Oh...! Let me take a look. Phew, that's a relief... he's still alright. I'm so sorry to trouble you, Grani, I know you're so busy with work, and here I am making you search for a pet of all things.
Grani Don't worry about it. If Pom really did vanish, you'd be torn to pieces! I wouldn't call that nothing!
Infected Citizen But, I heard John next door saying you aren't getting along too well with the Guards, and they even got on your case a few days ago for something or other...
Grani Hahaha... it was nothing.
But if you're going to raise a fowlbeast, Mrs. Sunny, I'd recommend keeping him in a cage... Things would get hairy if he bit anyone.
Infected Citizen Oh, you've got a point.
Grani Speaking of, Missus, have you seen any strangers about the Infected community lately?
Infected Citizen Strangers? Plenty of the people here come from other cities—strangers aren't the strangest thing.
Grani I mean the sort that... um... might have uncanny Originium Arts, that sort of Infected?
Infected Citizen Well...
You know how the power went out in the neighborhood last month.
Grani Oh! Yep, the case of some bad actor wrecking the community's generators, right? But we've never found the culprit...
I did hear the supply got restored in no time, though. Did someone fix all the generators up?
Infected Citizen Right! I heard they got this incredible engineering Caster in, and in a few hours, they already had the generators repaired! Question is, when did the community ever have an engineer so great?
Grani Right... something's definitely odd about that...
<Background 3>
November 20th, 1097, 6:44 P.M.
Grani Here's my work report for today. If you could give it a look over, guv'nor.
[The captain of the guards read Grani's report...]
Guards' Captain Hm. Two robberies, an inquiry report on rumors in Caladon... You must be pulling my leg.
[...and slams the table in anger.]
Guards' Captain What about the burglary at Count Bishmer's?! How long do you think it's been? Get on it!
Grani Um—isn't that one only a day old...?
Guards' Captain Is a day not enough?!
Grani But...
Guards' Captain I broke my back getting you as a temporary transfer. The Mounted Police were singing your praises as an investigator. And for what? A day's worth of time isn't enough for you? For one tiny case of property theft?!
Grani (Under her breath) It was the City Council who borrowed me from the Mounted Police...
Guards' Captain Enough! You don't know respect, you talk back to your senior! Is this how the Mounted Police behave?!
Grani I'm sorry, guv'nor!
Guards' Captain "Investigated entranceways of abandoned structures. Turned out to be as suspicious as thought, inquired with surrounding residents..." What the hell is this?! Weren't you told you could leave this be?
Caladon City gets strange business day in, day out, and wherever else the bloody day feels like! If every one of the Guards was as suspicious as you, we'd all be dead from the stress!
Grani But, guv'nor, if we let this all lie, then there's a real chance...
Guards' Captain Stop with the rubbish, get out and investigate!
Grani Yes, guv'nor!
<Background 4>
November 22nd, 1097, 10:20 A.M.
Grani *Pant*...
Li'l~ Susie~
Let me give your ears a good rubbie-rub!
Susie Hahaha! What's the matter, Officer Grani?
Quercus Something at work, I imagine.
Grani *Sigh*... Nothing much, just some hiccups lately with my job.
Quercus Go on, what exactly's happening?
Grani It's not that big, to be honest...
You've all heard the recent rumors in the city, I'm guessing.
Susie Ah, you mean those urban legends in the paper?
Quercus Same as ever, I assume. "Sounds can be heard from the city underground," "criminals have infiltrated the Infected community," and so on.
Grani Right... I was wanting to investigate those. I wrote up a dedicated report over the past few days.
But the Guards don't care about any of it! They want me to keep my nose out of things!
Susie Eh? Do the Mounted Police investigate urban legends, too?
Grani Come on, that's the wrong idea, Susie!
My work experience taught me that when these rumors crop up in a city, usually they come from the criminal activity that hides behind it.
Like the "sounds from underground" one.
Did you know? There's massive runs of logistics channels lying abandoned under Caladon.
Quercus Right. In the earlier years, back when the nomadic sectors were being planned, they drafted plenty of channels through the structural layers. But following the city's development, a lot of the old plates' underground ways were too taxing to maintain, so they relinquished them all.
Grani Yep. For example, plenty of them run under the Infected community.
Do you get it now? If those rumors are true, then that means there are people doing something at evening in those empty logistics channels, out of sight.
Susie Er... this is a bit scary, isn't it?
Grani It's too bad I still don't have any direct proof.
Quercus I think you can worry yourself a little less about it. It's meant to be the Guards' job, after all.
If something does happen later, they're the layabouts. You've got nothing to fear.
Grani Well, if you put it that way...
*Sigh* It's patrol hours right now, so I guess I'm a layabout myself, sitting here...
Susie Hahaha... we won't tell anyone.
Grani Li'l~ Susie~
Let me give your ears a good rubbie-rub!
Susie Go ahead, but careful of the static, okay?
<Background 5>
November 24th, 1097, 6:15 P.M.
In front of the shambles of the "Green Spark" stands a thunderstruck Officer Grani.
Before her eyes was that shop full of human warmth—now, with its roof collapsed, walls crumbled, and nothing left but charred black wreckage.
She stares blankly at the ruins in front of her, not daring to believe her eyes.
Grani ...But why?
Wh... why? Why would...?
[A firefighter walks to Grani.]
Fire Brigade Member Oh, Miss Grani, you're here now?
Grani Wh-What happened here? Why is this place...?
Fire Brigade Member Too much for me to swallow, too. It could only be out of revenge, setting a place like this alight.
Grani Setting?! Someone set this place on fire?!
What about the owner here? Where's that Feline girl? Have you seen her?
Fire Brigade Member No, we haven't, but no one was in there last night when the fire went up.
We're lucky no one's burnt, or worse.
Grani Who the hell did this?!
Anger.
She clenches her fists tight.
The pub she visits practically every week, the adorable owner lady, the diverting guests... A moment of rare respite in this city, now turned to charred rubble.
The anger flooding Grani's mind is hard to keep in check—rarely is she ever this enraged.
She's reached the point of wanting to bring justice to the culprit herself, no matter who it is.
Fire Brigade Member Hey! No going in! We still haven't cleaned up the debris yet!
Grani That's fine, I'm looking over the scene of the crime. I might find something in this.
Fire Brigade Member Don't bother, officer.
The Guards came over this morning. They looked all around, called it an accident, and left just like that.
Grani An accident? But didn't you just say...?
Fire Brigade Member That's just my opinion as a firefighter. We see a lot of things wherever we're called, and this we've seen.
Grani What's this... a scrap of explosive?
Fire Brigade Member Yeah, but the Guards had us keep out of this, so I didn't say much.
And nobody cares, really... about the Infected community. It's all less said, the better.
Grani Can you pass this evidence on to me?
Fire Brigade Member Sure, it was burning my hand, anyway. Didn't think I should hold it... and you're with the Guards, at any rate.
Grani Let me see...
Wait, hold on... these are shards from a military-grade incendiary! I've seen this sort back in Mounted Police training.
Is it just me, or... are these shards familiar?
<Background 6>
November 26th, 1097, 7:15 A.M.
Grani So we meet again, Mr. Maud?
Loud-Mouthed Man Th... The Mount?!
Grani Did they just let you go? I thought they'd keep you in custody for longer than this.
Loud-Mouthed Man Don't take me in again, officer, I'm begging you! All I am's a handyman!
I haven't bothered about with those Infected in recent, I swear!
Grani Are you sure?
Do you still remember that incendiary we confiscated from your loot, a few days ago when I arrested you?
Loud-Mouthed Man ......
Grani You said you'd only bought one for "self-defense".
But military-grade bomb shells have a very obvious unique design. They're not hard to identify even when shattered. Can you guess where I found this little piece?
If you're lying, it's another trip with me back to the Guards.
Loud-Mouthed Man No! I'll tell you! Anything you want!
I bought a case, I confess it! I bought a case! But I sold it all on to other people!
The Danton brothers! I sold it to the Danton brothers!
Grani The Danton brothers? Who are they?
Loud-Mouthed Man Those two Siracusan immigrants! The two mafia henchmen! Go ask the people at the Boil! They know 'em!
Grani Then do you know why they'd want to burn down an Infected community pub?
Loud-Mouthed Man I don't know! I swear, no idea! I didn't hear a thing about the pub!
I got the firebombs from the—the black market at the Boil, too! I swear, that's the honest truth!
But the merchant there said, he's got ways of getting goods done directly at the factory...
Grani (Factories in Caladon... I think there's only Count Bishmer's manufacturing military supplies...)
Do you know where the Danton brothers are?
Loud-Mouthed Man I... I'm not 100%, I just know they always hang around in the Boil...
Grani The Boil, huh...
<Background 3>
November 27th, 1097, 6:15 P.M.
Guards' Captain How many times have I had to tell you? Have you caught the burglar?! Have you finished your patrols?! Only you Mounted Police sideshow jugglers would obsess over the tiniest meaningless business.
Grani You call this meaningless business?
Guards' Captain Is it not?! Is a single Infected community pub burning down worth you spending three days to investigate?
A short-circuit in the mains, offended a gang, a lightning strike! I can think of a hundred other reasons still. Once you finally discover there was no culprit at all, who takes responsibility for all the cases this has held up? You?
Grani ......
So what about this evidence? These military incendiaries were made at Councilor Bishmer's factory, and were meant as supplies for the Victorian Army! But they circulated into the black market!
Doesn't this warrant investigating that factory?!
Guards' Captain That's Count Bishmer's estate! You're saying you'll sweep a Member of the Council's factory?
You've got some brass!
Grani Military incendiaries! The underground black market! The evidence is all in front of you! Why are you still playing the idiot here?
Don't tell me, you get a piece of these black market deals too?
Guards' Captain You...! Do you know what you're saying? You dare tell me this to my face?!
Grani Who do you think you're fooling? Count Bishmer's your own relative, isn't he?
Guards' Captain You... you!
Grani How did someone like you get into the position of Captain of the Guards?
You don't have a care in you for Infected community cases, and you turn a blind eye when gangs from the Boil cause disaster. And now you're not going to look into something this massive?
Then what IS your job? You've abandoned your duties!
Is there still anyone in the Caladon Guards qualified to enforce the law?
Guards' Captain So you're going to mutiny?
Grani I'm a Mounted Police Officer on temporary transfer here by the City Council! Right now, I'm the one in charge of the Mounted Police of Caladon City—you and I are of the same rank! You should have no authority to order me!
Guards' Captain Fine, then! I just knew you bumpkin lot would...
You wait. You just wait until the Duke's back from Londinium. I'll report to him in full detail just the kind of attitude you "Mounted Police" bring to your work!
Grani Suit yourself! Goodbye!
[Grani leaves.]
Guards' Captain Lowly circus spectacles, damned backwater blood... You wait until the Duke's back! You'll get your damn dues!
<Background 7>
November 28th, 1097, 7:15 P.M.
White House Pub, The Boil, Caladon
Imposing Black-Suit What are they doin'? That sets us back a whole day!
Sly Black-Suit You think it's some kinda slip-up at the factory?
Imposing Black-Suit Then what do we do now?
Sly Black-Suit We hold on a little longer... If we still don't get news by this evening, we dip out, pronto.
[Grani enters the bar.]
Barman Is there anything I can do for you?
Grani Evening, I'm looking for two people they call "the Danton Brothers" and I've heard some say they see them come by this pub sometimes...
Imposing Black-Suit Shit! What got the Guards in here?
Sly Black-Suit Don't panic! We're in the Boil, what's she gonna try?
Grani Ha! Found you!
Imposing Black-Suit So, what does, ah... a fine Mounted Police Officer want with a pair of law-abiding brothers?
Grani I'll need you to come with me to the Guards about a case of arson in the Infected neighborhood, early morning on the 24th. I have a few questions I'd like to ask.
Sly Black-Suit And if we politely decline?
Grani Please, comply with law enforcement's work, Mr. Danton.
Barman Easy there, Mount! This is the Boil you're in. Your word isn't law here.
Get out. You're not welcome at my bar.
In an instant, the atmosphere in the pub begins to strain. A few bruisers with vicious looks rise from their seats.
They pull out weapons, eyeing the pint-sized officer with malice.
Sly Black-Suit Hahaha, this is Caladon's Boil, signora.[note 1] You fancy coppers don't fit in here.
Go on back to helping the Infected scrub their chamber pots. That sounds about right for you.
Grani *Sigh*.
(Nine people... I've got plenty to write once the report comes...)
<Background 5>
November 28th, 1097, 7:50 P.M.
Streets of Caladon
[The two men in black, who are brothers, ran away through the streets.]
Sly Black-Suit Motor it! Quick, she's right behind us!
Imposing Black-Suit My hand's broken!
Sly Black-Suit Suck it up and keep runnin'! This Mount's crazy!
Imposing Black-Suit We can't beat that shit! Are they all like her?!
Sly Black-Suit Save it! Go for the Infected ghetto, the layout's all screwy there, we still got a chance!
<Background 8>
Imposing Black-Suit Did we shake her?
Sly Black-Suit Shut up, keep it down!
She didn't see us. We hide here, we're gold.
Imposing Black-Suit Son of a bitch, something's wrong with this Mount. How the hell did she even find us?
Sly Black-Suit You save your breath.
Little "Witch" Minnie Who are... you?
Sly Black-Suit Huh?!
Imposing Black-Suit Where'd the brat come from?!
Little "Witch" Minnie This is Miss Witch's house. What are you doing in here?
Sly Black-Suit Shut her up! The Mount's right outside!
Imposing Black-Suit Stupid little punk, I oughta...
Little "Witch" Minnie I get it! You're bad people!
The immature witch extends her right hand, and a purple thunderbolt leaps from it.
<Background 5>
[Grani stops after pursuing the brothers.]
Grani (Shoot, where'd they run?)
Hello... can I ask if you've seen—
Just as the Kuranta officer starts talking to a nearby resident, two men dressed in black fly out from the window of a building not far away, hitting a wall with two heavy thuds.
Sly Black-Suit Hot-hot-hot! Little shit!
Imposing Black-Suit Cavolo,[note 2] stupid Infected, I'm gonna get her...
Grani Great! So this is where you two holed up.
Sly Black-Suit Shit! Cheese it!
Imposing Black-Suit Where the hell to?!
Sly Black-Suit The abandoned section! There's a safehouse there!
<Background 9>
November 28th, 1097, 8:59 P.M.
Disused border sector of Caladon
The two black-suits huff and gasp as they run through the deserted streets.
And the pint-sized Kuranta officer is hot on their tails.
Sly Black-Suit I think we lost her.
Imposing Black-Suit My ass we lost her! You think you can lose a Kuranta officer in the city? Keep running!
<Background fades out and in>
[The brothers keep running.]
Sly Black-Suit How much farther?
Imposing Black-Suit Almost there! Right up front.
<Background 6>
Sly Black-Suit Made it. In here.
Imposing Black-Suit Our contact was here? This safehouse is shot to hell!
Sly Black-Suit Save it. They said they'd ready up any clothes and fake IDs for skipping town, put 'em here. There's a hidden passage through the old logistics channels. We'll find a way to slip out.
<Background 9>
Grani Hiding in a building, huh. Not planning to give up?
Don't test my patience, alright? We're on the edge of the city. You can't fall back any further now.
And let me remind you two, hiding in that building to ambush me isn't going to do anything for you, okay?
Keep resisting, and you'll only keep piling on the charges against you.
Put down the crossbows and bombs, and surrender this instant.
<Background 6>
Sly Black-Suit What the hell, where is everybody? The lights are dead?!
Imposing Black-Suit This room's a goddamned mess! What's all that piled on the ground? I can't even tell.
[One of the brothers bumped into an object.]
Sly Black-Suit You just knocked something over! What the hell's that smell?!
Imposing Black-Suit It's too dark! I can't see anything!
Sly Black-Suit Why'd they pile up all this crap? They tryin' to pull something?
Imposing Black-Suit This stinks to high heaven! Where's our contact?!
Sly Black-Suit I don't like this! This building ain't right!
<Background 9>
Grani If you still won't come out, I'll have to break in by force.
About time you witnessed a Mounted Officer's true strength.
The pint-sized officer reverse grips her pike and lowers her body. She lifts it over her head, Originium Arts coalescing at its tip, the pike wholly bathed in a dark red luster in the black of the night.
Grani I haven't used this maneuver in a long, long time. Don't blame me if anyone gets hurt, alright?
<Background 6>
Imposing Black-Suit Do something! She's gonna break down the door!
Sly Black-Suit Don't panic! Calm down!
Flashlight! You got it or not?
Imposing Black-Suit What kind of mook carries a goddamned flashlight around?
Sly Black-Suit The firebombs! You had one left, right?
Imposing Black-Suit You gonna burn the place down?
Sly Black-Suit Dumbass! You throw the bomb in there first, we escape before the fire spreads! The house goes up, and that beat cop ain't gonna follow us! Two fowls, one stone!
Imposing Black-Suit Makes sense! Let me see...
The imposing black-suit pulls the ring on an incendiary meant for military use, and tosses it into the depths of the pitch-black room.
However—
The moment the flare lights up is the moment they finally realize just how stupid a decision they've made.
Within the cramped, dilapidated room sits a great pile of Originium explosives and hazardous chemicals.
The bucket they knocked over earlier was filled with high-concentration raw keton, now spilled all across the floor.
<Background 9>
Grani I'm going to count from three, and that's your final chance!
Three!
Two!
One!
The collapsible military pike shoots forth like lightning, smashing apart at least ten centimeters' worth of concrete wall and tearing through the structure.
But in the following instant...
The sound of an explosion as grand as thunder rolls across the entirety of Caladon.
Harsh firelight follows a mushroom cloud straight into the skies, shining over the abandoned plate, through the Gododdin night, and across the southwest harbors of Victoria.
In the wake of the cabin's explosion, the surrounding ground caves in entirely, crashing down to the city plate's structural layer.
And that layer being in deep disrepair, it continues its collapse, dropping down and down, letting out an unending rumbling roar.
Where the cabin once stood now resembles a direct strike from a high-speed battleship bombardment. Only a massive pit filled with thick smoke remains to tell the tale.
The suspects, the evidence, and the truth are all blown away into the black smog along with the abandoned building, trailing high and away with the wind.
Grani ......???
Wh... What happened?!
Blown head over heels by the shockwave, the Victorian Mounted Officer now stares in bewilderment at the entire sight before her. Nothing that just happened has processed for her yet.
November 28th, 1097.
Nighttime in Caladon City finds itself exceptionally lively.

Notes

  1. "Miss" in Italian
  2. "Damn it" in Italian