One: Reassignment

   
"Yes sir, it was powder, and there was Alchemist Fire on the ground. There was also a large bolted crate that seemed to have something moving inside. Unfortunately, a bolt was shot to ignite the explosives. We had to get out before we could examine that crate further." Melanie pauses, wondering if what she is about to say will be out of line. But she proceeds anyway. "Sir, am I permitted to ask what the Iron Feathers are?"

The lieutenant nodded. "You're new to the area, so you wouldn't be as aware of them as the rest of us. The Iron Feathers are a local crime syndicate that operates out of the rough quarter of Veyranstown. They operate a protection racket, and likely a few other things. We've been having trouble with them for months now, trying to root them out. But they're slippery, and a lot of people are too afraid to help us."

The lieutenant picked up the key and opened up the captain's chest. He opened it up and blinked at the contents inside. "Well, now. Geoffrey, it seems your instincts were right on." Parnassus turned it around so the rest of the team could get a look at the contents: Sack after small sack, and when he opened one, gold coins poured out. They were golden dragons which bore the mark of Crannogh Heights and Nessene, not an uncommon thing given how frequently money changed hands in the shipping trade.

One sack after another, though, they found gold coins bearing the markings of other, less common countries from the continent of Ashra: Samael's Lands, Korleen, Vayne...even Istus. The lieutenant leaned back with a sigh. "Well, that clinches it. If he was just routing trade solely from Crannogh Heights like he was supposed to, there wouldn't be as much variation in his coinage. No, I think you're all on the right track with this angle. The Iron Feathers paid him to bring dangerous contraband here. They may have paid others similarly. That's my guess right now, but the fact is, I don't have the time or the resources to pursue it myself." He closed the lid on the treasure chest and gave the others a steely stare. "All right, rookies...I'm giving you a new job. Find the Iron Feathers Syndicate and get ready to shut them down. Maybe you can do what my team and I haven't been able to for months now. Get a hold of me via a callbox before you go charging in, and I'll make it worth your while."

"Yes Sir!" Mia replied nodding, a satisfactory grin on her face. Not even midday and they were given a nice adventure aganist the Iron Feathers.

She had wanted to give the report, but Geoff got ahead of her "He sent us, really?" she thought raising an eyebrow at him. He was nobody's boss to tell that. It was his idea, true but it was no order. Once the Lieutenant went back to his duties, she turned to him and gave him a mid glare "And since when you're ordering us around, Geoff? As far as I know you're not our superior" she said in a level voice.

"We should get changed and get out of our armors. Nobody will talk if we show like this looking for those birds" she said to the group

Melanie salutes with enthusiasm. "Yes, sir! We'll make you proud!" She does not speak of her inner feelings. Even though this was not a job she had wanted at first, it is now looking far more appealing to her. She had been unhappy with her parents for not giving her a choice in the life she led. Yet excitement courses through her at the thought of impressing them. The first day, and already they were trusted with something this important! The thought of telling Chris makes her smile wider.

Saphira stayed silent during the whole time the others explained the situation, which was rather strange for her. She tugged her braids nervously, a slight spark once again lighting in her eyes.
"Yes, lieutenant sir!" She saluted the lieutenant quickly.

"I guess the won't," Saphira tilted her head with a frown as she looked at Mia, agreeing with what she said. "But if we don't have on our armour and they attack us, what then?"

Dendara salutes dutifully as the Lieutenant pulls away, their next task somewhat clear, although not so much how to go about it. She picks up Mia's resentment rather quickly, and moves to nip it in the bud.

"Hold. As far as I've seen, Geoff has done nothing to deserve that. None of us outrank the other, but we do need direction and someone impartial to lead."

Dendara looks over the edge of the pier where the Herring had previously been docked. Some lines still floated in the water, and bubbles and sediment trickled to the surface.

"Part of the job of being a leader is to make suggestions and see them carried out. While none of us are strangers to combat, I think Geoff has done his share of leading in our first task, and would not be against him continuing to guide our charge."

She looks pointedly at Mia, almost challenging her to counter her suggestion.

"As for going unarmed, it's a question of who we're asking questions of. Delving deep into their territory? I'll stay armed, thank you. Asking questions of civilians? There may be an advantage. Going in without representing the Gatekeepers? That is a lot simpler."

She pulls the emblem of the Swords over her head and casually twirls it in the air.

"The Leiutenant has already said that people are afraid to talk to Gatekeepers, do you think it will be different with any of us? The armor and the symbols will close any doors for us" Mia replied, nodding as Dendara took of her symbol "We will do better as simple people"

"One thing are suggestions, other to made them appear as orders" she said to her earlier comment "And is the last that I'm not comfortable with. You ideas were sound, and I don't complain for that, Geoff. After all, I followed them" looking at the aforementioned man, her glare lessened a bit, and her voice sounded softer, though it was the best apology he would get from her.

"So, what is the plan of action?" although she said the question to the group, she kept her eyes on Geoff's "Given that you're our leader..." she thought with a poker face.

Geoof looks appreciatively at Dendara thanking her in his mind for having his back. "Did mean to have them sound like orders Mia. I guess instincts kicked in in the heat of the moment.

As they walk Geoff sees a tavern. Nodding to it he says, "I say we go in for a drink and discuss what we want to do."

Entering the tavern Geoof approaches the bar. "Hello there. Any place close my friends and I could have some privacy." He says the word privacy with a smaile and a wink. He places a couple of silver coins on the counter.

The tavernkeep palmed the coins before anyone could register their presence and jerked a thumb to the left. "Side room. I'll send in a waitress in a minute."

Mia narrowed her eyes when Geoff slipped the coins, she did not like bribery though she understood the necessesity for it right now. With this mission they needed all the privacy they could get and thus, she did not voice any comment. She would keep an eye here though.

As the entered the private room, Mia took a second to take all in, and she sat in a corner, looking to the door. One of the first things her godparents taught her, when she was still too little to understand the concept of danger.

"Always sit looking at the doors, Mia. You'll never loose a surprise that way"
she remembered the voices, and closed her eyes for a second to shake the memories away.





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