Posted by: lordkyler | March 1, 2014

Radiance: Part IV – The Doghouse

Previously in Radiance: Our heroes tracked down and caught a young pickpocket that turned out to be affiliated with the Mongrels. They showed the lad mercy, and in return, he promised to put in a good word for them. Now, a few hours later, they have arrived at the Mongrel’s lair.

The Radiance subway, like the great canals or the airship stations, was a public works program of epic proportions. Unfortunately, during the beginning phases of the project some ten years ago, the government found itself involved in several crises, finding themselves with a half-finished network of tunnels. These abandoned tunnels had since been claimed by the Mongrels.

It was early evening. The sky was a deep blue, and were it not for the city lights, one might have seen the first stars appear. The neighborhood our heroes were passing through seemed abandoned and decrepit. Brick buildings with broken windows, high-rises half-finished. All these buildings had been erected in anticipation of the subway, and had since been vacant.

They reached their destination without incident, a set of stairs descending into the darkness below the city streets. There was a matching staircase on the other side of the road. The tile was chipped and broken, the handrails had been wrenched free from the walls, and while there was a little light down below, it seemed wholly inadequate.

“Listen,” said Aria, “I think we should just talk with them, but I don’t think I should be there.”

“Scared?” smirked Connor.

Aria scowled. “No, you idiot. I don’t want to start a gang war here.”

“I’ll go!” Lilly piped up.

“I’ll stay here and guard the entrance,” Ian declared.

“All right then,” Connor said. “We’ll go down and see what we can find, you two make sure you keep the exit route open.”

Everyone seemed to agree with this arrangement, so Connor and Lilly descended into the bowels of the city, moving as silently as possible. They reached the bottom of the stairs and turned left to find themselves faced with a large, open space.

Through the sparse and flickering light, they determined that this was a boarding platform. It was ringed by a few boarded-up rooms and ticket stations, all covered in a thick layer of dust. Advertisement and propaganda posters ten years old plastered the walls, many defaced with messages, slander, mustaches, and the like.

Slowly, they made their way to the edge of the platform, careful not to make any noise. There was an identical boarding platform some twenty feet away, separated by a trench four feet deep, containing railroad tracks never used.  A long, dark tunnel stretched off into both directions, parallel with the road above, lit by only the faintest lights.

Connor motioned Lilly to be quiet, and they both held their breath. They could just make out the slightest murmur of an echo coming from the left-hand tunnel. The two looked at each other and nodded in unison, then slowly lowered themselves over the ledge onto the tracks below.

They moved through the darkness, Connor confidently balancing the metal rails like a tightrope walker so as not to make a noise on the gravel underneath. Lilly was less stealthy, walking on the ties, but occasionally scuffing the gravel or catching a toe on the wood.

As they came closer, they began to make out the actual conversation. Several men were arguing over a card game. They sounded quite preoccupied. After a minute or two, they reached a large open area. It was difficult to make out details in the darkness, but it seemed like a service station or storage area. The large space was light only by a single oil lamp in the direction of the voices to their right. Slowly, Lilly and Connor rose from their crouch and peeked over the edge.

Meanwhile, back at the stairs, Aria suddenly remembered something. “Blast,” she hissed. “I should have gone. I’m the one that told the Crust boy my name.”

“Who?” asked Ian.

“The pickpocket, the one that’s giving us a good word. I’m heading down. It’ll be better if I’m there. You stay here and guard the entrance.”

“Oh no you don’t,” Ian retorted. “If you’re going, I’m coming with you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Somebody has to stay here and guard the exit.”

“Not much good guarding the exit if there’s nobody left to take it,” Ian said. “Either both of us go or neither of us will.”

“Don’t be daft. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m helpless. I don’t need some man to come rescue me.”

“It’s not about that,” Ian said.

“Listen, I’m going down to help. Don’t follow me or I’ll have to hurt you.”

“You’re not my boss. I’m coming down there whether you like it or not.”

It was at this moment that our distracted heroes found themselves surrounded.

At the same time, Lilly and Connor cautiously raised themselves for a better look at the card players, when there was a sudden whooshing noise as a dozen gas lights flared into life, blinding them both. By the time they could open their eyes, they were encircled by some fifty men and women. Most were poorly dressed, in torn clothing, supplemented in some cases with makeshift armor fashioned from scrap metal or bits of leather and rubber. Everyone present was armed with an equally makeshift weapons, ranging from antique firearms and nail-studded clubs to broken bottles and crude knives.

Lilly instantly held her hands up, and even Connor refrained from going for his weapons. The odds were too stacked against them. Someone spoke up behind them, and they whirled around to see a man with long, silver hair and slightly better clothing. He had a revolver, but it was holstered at his side, and he looked extremely casual. And just a little bit smug.

“Welcome to the Doghouse,” he said simply. “Home of the Mongrels.”

“Why do you call it that?” asked Connor. “‘Cause you’re all sons of bitches?”

The man smirked, seeming to take no offense. “Absolutely. We’ve been spit on and kicked by those above, treated like curs. So we made ourselves a little kingdom of mutts and mongrels down here in the depths.”

Aria and Ian joined the group, escorted by another twenty Mongrels. “Thank you for joining us,” said the man.

“You must be Noah Simonson,” said Aria.

“My reputation precedes me,” said Noah. “And so has yours. You must be Sasha Yoshido. One of my lads reports that you did him a kindness. Because of that, I’m willing to listen. What do you want?”

“We’re looking for Harry Partridge’s daughter,” Lilly blurted out. “She’s been kidnapped and we heard rumors you were involved!” Aria shot her a dirty look.

“Or that you might know who was,” Connor added.

“I have of course heard the rumors,” Noah said. “Though I’m grateful you don’t seem to think them true, Connor Williams.” Connor grunted. “We were not involved, but I can tell you that I am aware of most things go on in this city, and I might be willing to give you access to my spies and informants. In exchange for your services, of course.”

“What services?” asked Aria.

“As you may be aware, the Mongrels have a… complex relationship with the Blades. We outnumber them a dozen to one, but they are much better equipped. However, we’ve recently received a lucky break. The Blades are receiving a shipment of weapons. We plan to break in, take what we can, and destroy everything else. In return, I will share any information I come across, and I may even be persuaded to share a few trinkets with you.”

“And if we don’t want to?” Aria asked.

“Well, he who is not my friend is my enemy, Miss Yoshido. Or should I say Miss Shingei?”

Aria felt a shock of adrenaline rush through her system. He knew who she really was! Blast it all!

“I have no particular quarrel with the Seven Sisters, and I understand you have no special friendship with the Blades,” Noah said smoothly. “So, either you help me out, or else… let’s just say there are a lot of dark corridors down here that it would be all too easy to become lost in. What’s your choice?”

“I’m in,” said Connor. Ian nodded his assent.

“Well, if we’re stealing from bad guys…” Lilly said, “I guess that’s okay. I’m in.”

“Fine,” Aria said. “Give us the details.”

•••

This session was a bit short, but turned out pretty well. It’s been difficult in each session to get started, as the players usually start out in a very non-serious mood. Usually they start out quoting a bunch of things and making jokes, which eventually turns to comparing their character’s stats in a very “my dad could beat up your dad” fashion, followed usually by a brief argument over who’s the actual leader of the party. This sometimes takes about half an hour before we get the actual game.

In any case, we managed to get some decent role-playing in, and we know have a definite adventure for the next session. There was a more detailed explanation of the heist at the end of this session, but I have decided to postpone that until the next entry for storytelling purposes.

Time will tell how this heist goes down and what the repercussions may be down the line…

•••

Radiance Info: Gangs of Republic City

It is a symptom of the troubles plaguing the nation of Foundation that Radiance is home to so many gangs. While it is impossible to live completely without dissent and outlaws, the current numbers of criminals would not have been possible in the past. Most time, money and effort is put into the military, patrolling the borders and working on projects.

There are several main gangs in the city, (and dozens of minor ones,) each with a different agenda.

First is the Seven Sisters, chosen gang of our very own Aria Shingei. The gang is all-female, and rarely involves itself in petty squabbles in violence. Their specialties lie in more subtle crimes, such as theft or blackmail. They are often available for hire, which is how Aria found herself involved this mission.

Then we have one of the more ruthless gangs, Hanishi Ki. Controlling the southern tip of the island, this gang allows only full-blooded Oqidans to join. They consider themselves heroes, seeking to establish Oqidan supremacy.

The next two are involved in the most bitter rivalry in the city, the Mongrels and the Blades. As you have seen, the Mongrels are widespread, employing street rats and lowlifes. They are a poor gang, but make up for that in numbers and information. The Blades are a more exclusive club, living the high life while engaged in everything from extortion to murder. They are well equipped, both in weapons and finances.

Lastly, a relatively small but very devout and dangerous group, Arcaeneum. Half gang, half cult, this group is devoted to magic. Every member is a magician, and they fight any who oppose its use.

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