We now fast forward 18 years. The girls have grown into 35 year old women. Sam the Mouse and Simon the Albatross should have died long ago, but in fact they have barely aged due to the Faerie essence in their blood. Agatha is in her 40s and owns the library. In fact she has built a number of libraries all across New Alibon and is active in founding and funding literacy programs and scholarship foundations who give students educational grants for University.
The Gang is still active. After the Vault heist they became rock stars of the underworld and over the years have worked with and for numerous colorful characters and groups of various dubiousness. They have a solid reputation and almost every client and aquaintance in their history speaks highly of them.
For many, many years the New Albion mafia was run by a red haired dwarf. The Gang and the dwarf got along very well on the rare occasions their paths would cross. However, one day the dwarf was killed and his killer, his son, took over the mob. The son did things differently and brought a new philosophy to running the underworld. At the end of the day this is a story about competing philosophies and the fallout.
The red haired dwarf was legendary for a pair of silver dice he always carried wth him. It was said that for major decisions he would role the dice and base his decision on the outcome. Obviously he had a system whereby a certain number meant a certain type of decision. This legend was a favorite to tell and talk about, and the dwarf was loved for it. However, few actually believed it was true. Everyone assumed the die rolling was a showpiece, a piece of theater that was part of the dwarf’s colorful presentation. He was such an effective mob boss that he couldn’t actually be so insane as to really use die roles to determine his major decisions.
We will go ahead here and now settle this dispute. The dwarf most certainly did use the dice to make decisions. The dwarf believed in a chaos element, a randomness of chance or fate and believed embracing it made him a more effective leader since his style was more in tune with the way reality went about its business.
The Gang did not use dice or any colorful props, but they did agree with this outlook in their own way. In fact, the trouble started when Sam the Mouse argued this very point. Actually, no, that’s not fair to Sam. The trouble started with the red haired dwarf’s son brought the Gang in to swear him fealty.
The son had been in power a for awhile. He was little by little bringing everyone of any importance in the city’s underworld to swear allegiance to him. The Gang was not at the top of the list so it took awhile to get around to them, but one day they were indeed brought in.
The son was a different man from his father. In fact those stupid dice had driven him nuts over the years. The son didn’t believe in idiotic props or clownish displays of decision making. He knew they best way to run and even expand an empire is through tight control. He didn’t leave anything up to chance. He micromanaged, he got down into the tiny details, he believed in diligence and discipline, he believed in holding the reins tight, he believed in a strict regiment, in the pursuit of effectiveness, excellence, in hierarchy and dictatorship.
He lectured the Gang on all this. He went on for quite a bit. He had delivered this lecture before and in fact had worked it into quite an impressive delivery. There were a few lines the late middle he was still honing but he was almost perfectly satisfied with the final memorized lecture. The speech did go on, though.
It was Mags who rolled her eyes even though Sam was going crazy trying to bite his tongue. The son caught the eye roll. He stopped his speech and walked up to Mags and got in her face and asked her if there was something perhaps she felt she had to add.
It was Sam who spoke up. Sam had worked on strategy and mission planning for 22 years now. In his younger days he too had aspired towards the perfectly planned plan, but over time had yielded to the truth that no plan survives contact with the enemy. When he embraced this, embraced that plans must allow for improvisation and spontaneity and must be able to breath and turn on a dime, he became a much better tactician.
He explained this to the son. He pointed out that many of the son’s points were all well and good, the pursuit of excellent and a disciplined approach, but his obsessiveness with control and rigidness were flawed and were inferior to a more open, chaos embracing approach and would also simply create more resentment.
Obviously the son wanted to squash Sam right there and then. There were a number of people present, some of importance and this disagreement of philosophy was sure to be discussed at length for a long time afterwards. The son felt his only recourse was to prove his methods and he demanded a contest.
The son would plan and execute a highly difficult heist, as would the Gang. They must use the same number of people. When asked how many people the Gang wanted they said five. Considering they were known as the Gang of Four, this was interesting and the son made note. But five it was. Both sides were to begin immediately. The contest was not only to be judged on success but on elegance of execution and lack of detection.
The Gang won hands down. Both succeeded but the son’s methods were clearly not as elegant and creative. He got away with the heist but had some trouble as where the Gang not only succeeded but the people they stole from didn’t even know they had been robbed and swore after the fact that they hadn’t.
The judging council ruled in favor of the son of course, not wanting to lose their lives, but everyone, the entire underworld including the son himself knew he had been not only shown up, but shown up with flair and style.
The son was furious. Vengeance was necessary.
However to kill the Gang immediately after the contest would be an admission of defeat. He’d lose face. Again.
But…. but. There was a fifth. The Gang of Four was not truly a gang of four. There had long been rumors of a fifth and the gang themselves had confirmed it when they requested five players. This fifth was the perfect target. Eventually the son discovered Agatha and ordered her death. Her very painful, very gruesome death.
Men were sent to the library where Agatha now lived, having built very luxurious apartments both underneath the great library and in what was once the attic. The men entered at night, heavily armed.
Simon however loved to perch on the top of library and watch the city. He saw the men. He flew into the library. They entered the main room where Agatha was meandering and set upon her. But Simon flew in attacked the men before they could get near her. He clawed and bit at their faces and when they threw knives at Agatha he intercepted them, all three of them, one after the other, using his body as a shield.
The fact that a bird flew in front of one hurtling knife and stopped it by taking the blow then, with the knife sticking out of him flew and intercepted a second knife is downright preposterous. The fact that the same bird, with two knives sticking out of him still remained airborn and intercept yet a third before finally collapsing due to the weight and the injuries is outright impossible. But he did it. He loved Agatha. He loved them all. He would have died for any and all of them a hundrend times over. And laying there with three knives sticking out of his little body, that was indeed teh day he died.
Agatha had been roundly surprised when the men came in, but upon seeing Simon attack and then fall, responded as quick as she could. She was an accomplished witch, but her spells for tight spots were mostly defensive. She cast a quick protective spell, then caused the room to disorient for her attackers, then basked herself in shadows and escaped. As she fled tears streamed down her cheeks over poor Simon, and by the time the Gang found her was weeping uncontrollably.
The Gang buried Simon the next day. They were devastated, but Sam was inconsolable. For a week the little mouse would not rise. He just lay there in his little dollhouse unmoving. After a couple of days Mae would come by twice a day and force him to eat and drink, force him to live.
At the end of the week Sam got up. He scampered up onto the table top where Mae, Mags and Agatha were sitting. He told them they were going to now systematically destroy the son and see his dead body hang from a bridge with three perfect knife wounds for all to see, and that dangling there, the son would wear a metal plate around his neck. Sam was very adamant about the plate. He then walked away to go eat. The three women looked at each other, then shrugged and nodded.
The war lasted 6 months.
It was not actually so bloody. Sam and the women were well liked and had built up a lot of good credibility and trust, and they cashed in on this. They worked hard to develop a strong series of allies before they ever even took a step towards engaging the son. For all of Sam’s rage, he conducted a campaign based on calm, cold, masterful tactician’s logic. It was not a war of armies, it was a war of subtly and out maneuvering and Sam masterminded by far the best campaign of his life. In fact, a large part of his end game relied on the Gang having spilled as little blood as possible. He was successful in this.
All right. He was mostly successful. Up until the end game was not very bloody, but the end game itself was pretty damn bloody. And when it was all over, he had the son captured, knifed three times in very exact spots then hung from a bridge, but not by the neck. Nor were the knife wounds instantly fatal. No, the son died very slowly while hanging off the bridge. And he was fitted with a plate sticking out from the front of his neck, extending out about 15 centimeters perfectly perpendicular to his face.
On this plate sat Sam. The whole time the son dangled, slowly dying, Sam the Mouse just stood in front of his face and stared him in the eye. Just stood there. For an hour and a half. Didn’t move. Just stared into his eyes.
When the son finally died Sam scurried up the rope and went home to where Mae, Mags and Agatha were eating dinner and trying to think of what to do as New Albion’s premiere band of thieves.