Posted by: lordkyler | August 30, 2014

Radiance Part VII: Sal’s Shop

In our last installment, Aria and Lilly visited Sweetwater’s Emporium to spend some of their loot. They ended up with some new items and a couple new pets. Meanwhile, Connor, Ian, and the newcomer Drake proceed to a rather different part of town searching for a mechanic’s shop.

The three men stepped off the trolley, and retrieved their recently-obtained motorcycle from a platform on the back. One of the purposes of their trip was to have the machine inspected. Ian had the knowledge to do it himself, but he didn’t have the tools, and so he had recommended a mechanic’s shop known as Sal’s.

Their trip had brought them to the eastern edge of the island. The shop was located in the transition area between the poorer section at the middle of the island and the moderately well-to-do southern end. The area was largely populated by tradesmen and craftsmen that were inexpensive enough to cater to one group but skilled enough to service the other.

The streets here were decently maintained, if a little worn, and the signs out front were large and blunt. Cobblers, printers, tailors, and the like all advertised their wares, using the word quality and value with an almost suspicious frequency. Posters plastered many fences, but they were accompanied by some slightly wilted shrubs. It was a nice enough place, by all accounts. Most buildings were several stories, shops on the ground floor and dwellings above.

Ian led them confidently through the wide streets and among the tightly packed buildings, hailing several passers-by as he went. Before long, they approached a brick building with an extensive series of garages and a large, paved yard. The sign out front proclaimed it to be Sal’s without any attempt at modesty.

They entered the front door of the shop, and a small bell tinkled, barely audible above the muffled mechanical sounds coming from the garage. Still, the sound attracted the attention of a man who was placing bolts in their appropriate bins.

The man was extremely tall and heavily built, even more than Ian. He had a broad face, made broader by an impressive set of muttonchops that stuck out from his face like a lion’s ruff. He had a bowler hat perched atop his head, tilted at a slightly rakish angle, like a bird perched on the unruly nest of his hair. He wore a shirt with the sleeves rolled up, revealing hands and arms blackened with grease and soot. Remarkably, the shirt itself was spotlessly white and freshly pressed. The world’s ugliest suspenders completed the ensemble.

“Hey there, cousin!” the man proclaimed loudly. “What brings you here today?”

“Hello Sal,” Ian replied. Before he could explain the purpose of his visit, Sal stepped up and crushed him in a massive bear hug.

“Been some time since I’ve seen you!” Sal said.

“Does that mean I don’t get the family discount?” Ian said with a slight grin.

“Of course not. But if you want your friends to qualify, you’d better introduce us.”

“Oh, of course. Um, this fellow here in the black is Connor.”

“Connor,” Sal drawled, as though committing the name to memory. “That looks like a pair of Ibring .227’s you have there.”

Connor tugged his jacket closed over the pistols, but gave a lopsided smirk. “Good eye.”

“Good choice,” Sal replied. “Well-constructed. A man can squeeze off a half-dozen rounds in about three seconds with those beauties.”

“Two and a half,” Connor grunted, and Sal laughed.

“Who’s your other friend?”

“Drake Weaver,” Drake said, extending a hand. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Weaver, eh? I know some Weavers. Where are you from, lad?”

“South end of the island,” Drake said.

“Ah, so do you know Thomas Weaver?”

Drake’s face twitched ever so slightly into a grimace. “My father.”

“Ah, I can see that. You have his jaw. He’s a good man, Thomas. I service the boilers at several of his hotels.”

“We’ve come to get some equipment, Sal,” Ian said. “We’re engaged an a rather… unusual job, and we could use a few surprises, if you know my meaning.”

“Ah, you’re looking for the… special bargains,eh? Just give me a moment to finish with a couple of customers and we’ll go right up.”

“We also brought a bike,” Connor said. “Need you to take a look at.”

“I’d do it myself, but I don’t have the tools,” Ian said.

“Not a problem. We’ll look at your special equipment and then come right back down and look at your ride.”

Sal went up to the remaining customers and sorted out their issues quickly, laughing all the while. When the last of them had left the shop, he put a sign in the window saying that he was out to lunch, and turned back, rubbing his hands. “All right, let’s go take a look.”

Ian smirked. “You taking a lot of lunch breaks these days, Sal?”

“Of course,” Sal said. “It’s great for business, believe it or not. Why sometimes, I spend nearly the whole day at lunch, and yet somehow the bills manage to get paid. Funny thing, in’it?”

They headed up the stairs. The second story was composed of apartments belonging to Sal and a few of his family members and employees. They passed this and headed to a small closet, which turned out to have a false back with a ladder behind it.

The inside looked almost more like a museum than a shop or an armory. Items were stacked and neatly labelled, many in glass cases.

“It’s not all weapons,” Sal said by way of explanation. “Also get some rare art and valuables in what I like to call a transfer of markets. You wouldn’t believe the things people misplace around here, you know.”

“I could use a crossbow,” Ian said. “Something smaller and quieter than a gun.”

“Ive got a neat spring loaded model over here,” Sal said. “Less bulky than the traditional bow types.”

“I’ll take a look,” Ian said, walking over to a rack of weapons. He was clearly familiar with this room. Sal looked at the other two. Connor was trying to appear aloof despite his obvious interest, and Drake looked nearly ready to devour the displays, though he kept tapping an obviously-empty coin pouch.

“Why don’t I show you some of our specialties?” Sal said. “We have all the standard ammunition and the like, but we have some unique items I think you’ll like.”

He led them over to a trunk and gently lifted the lid. Inside were a large assortment of utilitarian swords and knives in matte black. “Machine produced,” Sal said. “We specially designed some of our parts to leave these in the punch outs. They’re cheap, they’re sharp, and we coat ’em in a special mix to hide fingerprints. Disposable and untraceable, for the discerning gentleman.”

Connor raised an scarred eyebrow. “Intriguing. I’ll keep them in mind.” Drake looked at the swords, then back to his pouch, then at his staff, and sighed.

“No thanks,” he said. “I think I’m well enough off with my staff.”

Sal eyed the sword on Connor’s back. “I know what you’d like,” he said. He shuffled over to one of several safes set in the wall, and set the knobs twirling with deceptively agile fingers. The vault opened smoothly, revealing an Oqidan blade in deep crimson.

Sal removed it reverentially. “This is a genuine Makara blade, boys. Hand-forged, quenched in blood, sharper than my ex-wife’s tongue. Had a warrior around here a few months back got into some trouble. I ended up with this.”

“May I?” Connor asked, his voice hushed and husky. Sal handed him the blade. Connor took it, hefted it, and unsheathed it a few inches. Then he sheathed it again and handed it back.

“I’ll take it,” he said.

Drake looked at his coin purse again and sighed.

“Excellent choice, sir,” Sal said. “Let’s see… Anything else you might like? We have a variety of alchemical vials, including some slippery compounds that are difficult to get this time of year. No? Ah, I know what might interest you. Another speciality of ours.”

He crossed the room to another display case and opened it, revealing what appeared to be a large variety of monocles.

“As you may know, certain elements have a strange effect when in contact with magical forces. Lead absorbs it, gold reflects it, and so on. Well, some of my acquaintances have found that certain structures of glass and other minerals can store magically-induced energy for a short time. Hence our unique and exclusive combat lenses.” He picked one up. It was a disk about the size of a large coin, cut with a peculiar pattern, and looped with thin wires of gold and silver.

“Should you know of any evokers – which I certainly do not, officer – then you could tell them that all they need to do is charge this lens with their abilities, and then throw it at the target. The lens will hold transfer the charge for several minutes, until it touches something or breaks. Much more efficient then using powers from a distance, I’m told.”

“I’ll take some of those, too,” Connor grunted.

“A most discerning gentlemen. Now, is there anything else I can do for you? Anything at all?”

“I found a crossbow,” Ian called out. “I think everyone else is finished as well.” The others nodded.

“Fine and dandy. Thanks for your business.”

“We still have a motorcycle for you to check,” Drake said.

“Ah, but that will be my pleasure, boys.”

“Does that means it’s free?” Connor asked skeptically. Sal looked caught slightly off guard.

“Well, maybe we’re not completely finished with business, though I do love working on machinery.”

“Don’t mind him, Sal,” Ian said. “I think he just likes keeping folks uncomfortable.”

“I like to do the same. Just wait until you get the bill!”

He laughed to himself and descended the stairs. Soon enough they had the motorcycle in the shop. Ian joined Sal in the work with apparent satisfaction.

“Where did you say you got this bike?” Sal asked.

“We didn’t,” Connor muttered. Ian rolled his eyes.

“Used to belong to the Blades.”

“Strange. They usually only have the best of the best. You know, driving Palanquins and Cirrus cruisers that they wouldn’t let a mechanic like me lay a greasy finger on. But this thing looks as though it were dragged through a brickyard and left to rot in a tar pit.” The others had to agree. The motorcycle appeared to be in decent shape, but it was far from pretty.

Sal and Ian continued to check parts, but grew more and more puzzled the deeper they delved. At last, Sal uncovered something in the engine, then stepped back and let off a series of calm curses.

“What?” Connor asked. “Did you find the problem?”

“Yeah,” Sal said. “There isn’t one.”

“What?”

Ian chimed in. “Not a thing wrong with it. In fact, this is the best-looking machine I’ve ever worked on. Custom built, perfect precision.”

“There’s a Sama motor in there,” Sal said. Ian’s eyes grew wide, and he shoved past Drake to get a look at it.

“By gum, there is,” he said, whistling.

“There’s some strange wiring and pistons in here too,” Sal commented.

“Yep, something’s going on. Connor, Drake, come see if you can find anything out of the ordinary. There’s more to this machine than meets the eye.”

Together, they searched the bike. Connor discovered that one of the handgrips could slide back and forth, and Drake found a pedal disguised as a footrest. After some experimentation, they found that by pressing on the pedal, they could then slide and twist the handgrip. As they did, two panels on either side of the front chassis fell open, and two miniature machine guns followed.

“Definitely more than it looks like,” Sal said. “Best hope the Blades don’t find out you got ahold of this.”

Connor pointed the bike at a blank wall and twisted the handle again, prompting a series of clicks from the guns. “I have some ammunition that’ll fit that,” Sal said. “Throw it in with the cost of the inspection.”

Ian thanked Sal as Connor performed the engaging sequence in reverse, causing the guns to fold back into the body of the bike.

“I’ll wager there’s more secrets here, if I know the Blades, but we don’t have any more time to pry them out,” Ian said. “We’ve got a meeting to attend.”

Connor paid Sal for his work, and shook hands, followed by the rest of the crew. Then they were off back to the safe house, to see what the news the Mongrels might have for them.

•••

A bit more occurred at the end of this session, but it is best left for next time. We got through things a bit better than in past sessions. Our heroes are starting to get tangled up in some pretty sticky webs… We shall have to see how things unravel. At least they’ll have a pretty boss motorcycle at their disposal.

I think I will be discontinuing the Radiance Info section for the time being, as anything else worth knowing will likely be revealed in the story. If not, I’ll be sure to include it when appropriate. Thank you for reading.

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