We Perform a Rescue

Originally posted 20-JUN-1990

Log of the SS High Rhodes
Mar 10 The plan is for a party from the High Rhodes to meet Estes on the back porch of the Rumpled Ruumet Inn at eight o'clock this evening. He has said he'd provide us with a wagon and some of the yellow robes the priests of the Flowering Titan, who seem to be in control of the city, have been wearing.

Our party shall consist of myself and Billi, First Officer Barkley, Apshavaal the Gunner (who speaks Parhooni like the native that he is), Henry Cleese, the marines Dundee and Hawkins, Estes, and (of course) Byron Bayswater.

Mar 11Met Estes on the back porch of the Rumpled Ruumet. Estes frowned at some of our weaponry - Cleese brought a rifle, Apshavaal his sabre, bow, and arrows, and Billi his spear. "The idea is not be found out," he said. We calmed his fears, telling him we would keep the large weapons hidden in the wagon bed.

Estes led us out of the back of the Foreign Quarter to a waiting ruumet breehr-drawn wagon with a fifteen foot bed, two drivers, and almost a dozen yellow robes. I had asked for fresh robes for us to change into lest we met any nasty business. With Estes, we were nine, and Lord Fhobar, once rescued, would be ten. Estes said that these were all he could lay his hands on.

After a brief discussion, we made toward the outskirts of the city. Our idea was to use one of the periphery roads around Thoth and avoid the traffic and the larger number of folk in the town center.

After encountering a small band of beggars and a couple roving patrols, we were stopped by a checkpoint. Apshavaal told them that we were priests traveling to a temple elsewhere, but he got caught in his own words. I tried to help, but my Parhooni is not quite up to native standards.

While waiting for an superior officer, they discovered we weren't Martian. We knocked two soldiers out of the fight, ran two off, and lifted the bar blocking the road. Unfortunately, we used a small display of gun fire to do so. We could hear a trumpet some ways off. We weren't followed from the checkpoint, apparently.

Midnight: The only other noteworthy incident during our journey to the villa was being stopped by a small liftwood vessel, manned by local troops asking for a human called Cleave Esters, for being a felon in league with rebels within the city. Apshavaal sent them on their way. Estes said he had no idea what they was about. I'd guess someone heard he was in league with this Lord Fhobar.

Lord Fhobar's villa is a two story structure slightly larger than my home outside Syrtis Major. Fhobar told us there were only six guards, two of them walking the perimeter. Billi, Cleese, and Apshavaal first tried the back gate, and then climbed the wall to find a way into the stable. They opened the gate from the inside, and led us through the stable to the back court.

There was one door from the back court into the main structure and it was locked. Cleese popped it open - drawing some exclamations from inside. Billi shoved Cleese out of the way and charged in (good lad!), only to be met by a Martian spear man!

Billi disposed of the chap, gaining a slight wound for his pains. Apshavaal took the fore in battling the two other Martian guards out of what was apparently the kitchen, followed by Cleese, Hawkins, Barkley, Estes, Dundee, myself, and Bayswater.

By the time we were all in the kitchen, the Martians had been pushed out, and had fled across the mail hall and out the front door. Cleese had taken a musket ball and Apshavaal had a few nasty gashes from their spear man. We caught up with them as they attempted to flee up the stairs. Apshavaal and the spear man were both knocked out of the fight on the stairs and their musketeer fled. Hawkins was knocked out by the sixth guard upstairs, whom Dundee throttled to death.

Dundee, however, was knocked out by their last man, the fleeing musketeer. Estes shot this final guard and found Lord Fhobar locked in his clothes closet. At Estes' suggestion, we dispatched the wounded guards. "Let's not leave witnesses," he said.

I sent Billi and Cleese for the wagon. Estes and I brought Hawkins and Dundee downstairs. Billi came back with the wagon and patched up our wounded. Dundee came around first, so I sent him and Cleese to help Lord Fhobar and his Lady Alechia pack up.

No sooner had we crowded into the wagon and pulled out to the front of Fhobar's villa than we were hailed from the dark. A dozen militia, all armed with mus- kets, appeared at the edge of the path. With them was a priest, who asked us our business as fellow priests. I nudged Apshavaal to speak for us.

The priest started firing questions quickly - "Why are you at the villa of a proscribed criminal?" "We were told there was fighting here. Did you hear shots?" We told them we heard shots, but that the guards told us all was OK. The militia officer and two soldiers went off to check, and we were told to stay where we were.

We waited, hands poised beneath robes on weapons, not quite knowing what would happen. Lord Fhobar and his Lady crouched in the middle of the wagon. Then the officer started to yell.

I called to the drivers to start the wagon, but they scrambled off their high perch when some of the militia had fired at them. Barkley, Estes, Dundee, and Hawkins fired their pistols out the left side of the wagon; Apshavaal with his bow, Billi with a borrowed musket, and Cleese with his rifle fired out the right side. Miraculously, we took few wounds.

I climbed up for the drivers perch - someone had to get us out of here - as the militia fixed bayonets and closed on us. By the time I got the ruumet breehr to move, they began to swarm the wagon. Hawkins fired his sawed-off to little effect, and then was wounded senseless as was Cleese. Dundee went down leaping at one. Bayswater found himself confronted by one, then two then four when Billi went down. Meanwhile, Apshavaal, Estes, and Barkley had been whittling them down.

I don't know if it was the final fusillade of shots (more noise than effect) or Bayswater's shrieks waving pistol and sap around that made them step back off the wagon as we rolled off. Behind us we could hear their officer finally return bellowing orders, but when they loaded and fired, we were beyond range of their volley.

After sorting ourselves out, we decided to return going the longer way around Thoth's perimeter, avoiding the heart of town and the alerted troops we passed on the way to the villa.

Mar 12 7:00 AM: After patching up our wounded as best we could, we moved further on. We never saw the servants again, so I continued to drive. Only Bayswater and myself were unwounded. Dundee, Hawkins, and Cleese were particularly badly wounded. After passing a small patrol in the road, we came upon another checkpoint.

We could not convince them to open and let us pass as we had no name of a church leader to use as an authority. When one climbed in to check the wagon, Hawkins cut him apart with his shotgun from point- blank range. Billi and Dundee leaped out to deal with their men by the cross bar. After they fell, taking one with them, Hawkins leaped out to deal with the remaining man, but was shot by a guard with a musket firing from cover. This same gent eventually knocked out Estes, Bayswater, and Apshavaal, who went out to remove the fellow at the gate. Barkley eventually got the rotter. He and I gathered our wounded and we departed.

We drove around Thoth until we got to the Redman's quarter. We drove straight through to the foreigner's gate to the air docks. The local residents had the normal gates jammed, and all folk were being checked through the gate by militia. We got through our gate without even being checked. Good thing - the shot- up condition of the wagon and our persons would have invited too many questions.

We were exhausted and hurt. As we rolled up to the bottom of the High Rhodes' docking tower, the two marines on duty came forward to help us unload the wounded. Estes and Fhobar went off to the side for a word. Then, I heard Alechia scream.

I turned to find Estes over the body of Fhobar, pulling a knife out of the base of his jaw. Estes removed Fhobar's tiara, that identifies his rank and status, and pointed a gun at Lady Alechia, telling her to shut up. Estes then produced a document from the ruling house of Alcyon, to our north, claiming that Fhobar was condemned to death in absentia and those who could produce proof of his death would receive 1500 tallends - worth nearly 500! Estes left us with the struggling Alechia - had a barge to catch, he said.

We quickly boarded the High Rhodes and cast off. I could not think of a single good answer should anyone ask about the night's activities, and I most certainly did NOT intend to have to try!

As the sailing master sent his monkeys aloft, Barkley reminded me that we did have the 500 bank check drawn against Fhobar's account.

Headed south out of the Thoth District as fast as possible.

Copyright 1996 by Mitchell K Schwartz

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