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Agatha And The Library (The Albatross, Pt. 5)

Gothic Library, New Albion Library

After escaping from the Laboratory it was Simon the Albatross who thought of holding up in the place that became his and Sam the Mouse’s home for years, the library.

Simon loved to read. Sam thought the idea was brilliant and was eager to spend time exploring knowledge so he could further his schemes and ambitions. Simon however just simply loved to read and did it with a joy and passion even Sam did not possess. He would read fiction, history and biographies endlessly.

The New Albion main library was enormous, gothic and easy for a mouse and albatross to find a home in where they could spend nights and lazy days.

Simon would perch on the roof at sunrise and sundown every day. He would watch the people go by and the librarians come and leave work each day. He became attached to one librarian in particular, a young woman named Agatha who, despite her mousiness, had an aura of both interest and kindness about her. During her less busy times she would often browse the the occult section of the library and it seemed she possessed quite an interest in dark magic and curses, which seemed at odds with her demeanor.

Simon caught all that went on in and about the library and so it was only natural that he would be the first to identify when two new residents decided to adopt the library as a home.

Simon would watch two ragged teenage girls enter the library about and hour or two before closing time and not  leave until the following morning an hour or two after opening hours. Simon quickly tracked down where they were staying, deep in the subterranean section of the stacks. They made themselves a little camp and repositioned the stacks to hide themselves and their few belongings. It became apparent quickly that one of the girls was not well. The other would leave during the day to find food. Some days she was successful and some days she wasn’t.

As the sick girl grew sicker and sicker, Simon made the call to involve Agatha. He flew down and initiated contact with her. At first she thought he was adorable and charming for a bird, and giggled at his attention as he danced about in front of her and cawed in response her questions. Soon though she began to realize he possessed some intelligence beyond normal and was trying to tell her something. When he arranged sticks in front of her that spelled “CAN U HELP” the fun ended and she was actually a bit freaked out, but she still agreed to come with him.

He led her to the girls. They were terrified and the healthy one was defensive and clearly able to be dangerous. But her sister was truly sick and she had certainly recognized that help was in fact needed. The girls were terrified of moving and so Agatha begged them to stay and ran home to get her tea and herbs.

Agatha was not at all a black witch and her interest in the subject will become apparent in just a bit. She was very well versed in other aspects of Craftwork and excelled at medicinal herbs and teas. It took 3 days, but early each morning and throughout the evening she would tend to the sisters and the sick one soon became well again.

After healing, they stayed on at the library and Agatha brought them food each morning and evening. The girls would climb like monkeys all about the subterranean stack and soon found alternative entrances and exits to the outside world and even New Albion underground. They all but adopted Simon. He introduced them to Sam who was absolutely against any contact with humans, but who soon begrudgingly took to them.

Then one day their father came. He was not alone. He was a nasty, thuggish looking ruffian and had three others with him. They had been trying to track the girls down and it had finally dawned on them that girls who loved to read might take to the library, a place it was surprising he even knew existed and which he had certainly never stepped foot in in his entire ignorant life.

Simon, Agatha and Sam already knew the girls’ story. It was not pretty. Their father was very into alpha male dominance, considered them his property and when they had reached their flowering age had taken the liberties he felt due to him. The girls had born it as best they could, but when he made arrangement to share them with his thuggish associates they finally broke and fled. This was why they were hiding out in the library.

The thugs began their search of the library and Simon first warned the girls, then flew to get Agatha. Agatha lived in a perpetually foggy area by the docks and she came running. The girls had clambered to get to their hiding place but in doing so had made some noise which had convinced their father and his cronies they or someone at least was in the otherwise deserted looking old library. The cowered in terror and Sam kept them company trying to keep them calm and thinking rationally.

Agatha arrived right as the thugs found the girls. The father was about to grab them and beat them bloody, the sisters were about to fight to the death if necessary, and Sam cursed himself for not planning ahead meticulously, a mistake he would never repeat ever again, when mousy little Agatha stormed through the stacks and demanded the brutes turn around and leave immediately or suffer dire consequences.

The sight of little, thin, black haired, thick glasses wearing Agatha threatening them with her little fists all bunched up was utterly hysterical to the men and actually stopped what would have been a moment of explosive violence. They had a good, roaring laugh and were all quite happy at the prospect of getting to be alpha males over another unexpected little treat who come to look at her and think of it, might make for a good time after they beat her into submission a bit first.

Agatha of course was no fool. She was well aware of what was about to go down. This is why she sighed. She was not surprised for a second it was going to come to this. So she sighed, shook her head and removed her glasses.

The fog creeped in.

As said before, Agatha was not involved in black magic in any way. In fact her interest in it was all about undoing a curse, a rather torrid bit of business involving her father which we shall get into in more detail tomorrow. However, in the interests of keeping it simple for the moment, the curse involved a perpetual fog that wandered around the city and the 3 entities that dwelled in it. These three entities could not live outside the fog, they were cursed to wander about in the fog for a long, long, long time. They were no longer quite human. Exactly what they were is much too much trouble to try to work out here and now, so we’ll go with shadowy wraithlike and leave it at that.

One detail that should be mentioned however is that they were fiercely, fiercely loyal to and protective of Agatha. And they were very dark. Bad dark. The product of very bad black magic. Really, at that time in the city’s history, it is not an exagerration to say that if there was one person in New Albion you did not want to fuck with, it was Agatha.

We know that you, dear reader, are surely a gentle soul and do not need to or wish to lower yourself to hearing the sorted, awful descriptions of the screaming, howling, and crying the father and group of thugs underwent. We know you are far too kind and generous to want to sully yourself with sick and disgusting details of what happened to those bastards. We applaud you and your better nature. For those of you unpossessing of such a better nature, we will not stoop to such a level of debasement, and really, you should be ashamed of yourself for wanting to revel others’ misery, but if it’s any concillation, there was indeed a great deal of misery, a LOT of screaming and weeping and the details are, we assure you, VERY sick and very disgusting. And would involve an abnormal amount of talk about entrails.

And this is how the Gang of Four met and bonded, along with their fifth conspirator who has historically remained otherwise unknown. The Four eventually became the most famous cat burglar in New Albion and even eventually heads of the Mafia many years later. However one of the first ways they honed their skills was trying to help Agatha out with a rather nasty curse her family was involved in due to a trading company dispute two decades earlier.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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We Finally Return To Talking Animals (The Albatross, Pt. 4)

Beltane Industries Research Facility

Beltane Industries Research Facility

Thus it is that we finally get to the star of our story.

Simon the Albatross could not actually talk, although he was one of the 6th generation of Beltane Industries’ talking animals program Project Doolittle. His friend Sam the Mouse could talk, although his voice was ridiculously high and almost impossible to take seriously until you really got to know him. Project Doolittle was about consciousness manipulation as well as communication, so Simon’s ability to think and understand in a way overlapping with human consciousness was very much part of the desired results.

Simon and Sam got to know each other while they were both in the lab. Sam initially had thought Simon was a failed part of the project because Simon couldn’t actually talk and Simon thought Sam was a failed part of the project because Sam wouldn’t talk.

Simon and Sam’s cages were located next to each other. The lab men knew Simon was uncommonly bright, but were disappointed in his lack of voice and didn’t spend the same time testing him they did the other animals who could talk. He would of course be disposed of eventually, the date had simply not been set. Sam the mouse however was clearly a failure who the lab men had given up on completely. Sam could talk however and was in fact uncommonly bright, and played the scientists because early on he decided he wanted out and concluded his best chance was if they underestimated him drastically and perhaps left an opportunity for escape in his reach. It was a gamble, since his being a failed experiment also meant his certain death. If they knew he could talk, though, he would be watched carefully and guarded closely.

One night Sam’s food lever jammed and Sam couldn’t get any food. He swore quickly under his breath before he realized his stupidity. Simon caught it. Simon threw him some of his food and from that night on they were friends and conspired to break free. Sam would whisper to Simon and even taught the albatroos morse code so Simon could peck his beak on the ground and communicate back.

How did two little animals’ escape attempt cause the carnage and mayhem that resulted you ask? Did they use some kind of weapon? Did they kill some lab scientists? Because certainly a number of personnel died that night. The answer is no and no. The lab scientists were actually quite kind to the 6 animals in the animal room. While the animals wanted freedom they were too fond of the scientists to actually wish them death or harm. So how did those deaths and all that property damage to the Beltane Industries facility happen? Well, we shall answer that and we shall start by making quite clear the only object used in the escape was a paper clip.

The plan was Sam’s. It was simple. During one of Simon’s tests where he would retrieve requested objects, he made an awkward landing causing some things to knock over and creating a minor ruckus. The point of the ruckus was to grab a paper clip and keep it in his beak until he could slip it into Sam’s cage. That night Sam picked his lock. Sam then retrieved the keys and not only unlocked Simon’s cage but the cages of the other 4 animals, the dog, the ferret, the pig and the iguana.

The animals unlocked the lab room and made their way through the wing of the facility in hopes of finding an escape. However before they found an escape they found other things.

When the animals had shown promise of talking and sharing a type of humanoid consciousness the scientists had pondered the question of whether this could extend beyond living creatures. A range of other things were tested. Out of those there was a surprising amount of success with household objects, furniture in particular.

Thus it was that the escaping animals found themselves in a room with several pieces of conscious, talking furniture. A loveseat, a comfy chair, a lamp, a wine opener and a vanity were all thrilled to have new visitors and even more thrilled to hear about an escape attempt. The items were also anxious to see and experience the outside world. So they joined the animals in their escape.

They 6 animals and 5 items attempted to sneak out of the research facility in the dead of night.,

Where things went out of control is when one more item asked to join them. The term item is utterly wrong, though. More apt would be the word ‘place’. More specifically, the room itself.

The items all lived in a living room, one that could also speak and think and which also very much wanted to escape.

So the 6 animals, the 5 items and 1 room all attempted to sneak out of the research facility in the dead of night. However, there were floors above them. When the room left, squeezing and elbowing its way out of the building, the results were massive property damage and falling ceilings. The entire east wing collapsed resulting in a number of injuries and sadly, fatalities.

Beltane Industries tried to hunt down their escaped experiments but they were very unsuccessful. They recovered the lamp and that was it.

The chair and vanity eventually made friends and found good homes. A little girl adored playing “mirror mirror on the wall” with the vanity and she and the vanity remained life long friends passing it down to her daughter and eventually onto her daughter’s niece.

The chair joined a gang and the mates all got along splendidly. The chair was eventually destroyed in a fight when a rival gang broke in an started throwing stuff around. The gang was devastated at the loss of their good buddy the chair and they took a very heated and vicious revenge.

The love seat ended up at the Duchess of Calvary’s. The Duchess was always suspected of being odd and at times her speaking to the loveseat seemed out right mad, but they pulled many a practical joke together and even had some rather pleasant and erotic moments together. It is believed to still reside in the Manor and children who have spent any time there always adore the love seat.

The pig was killed fairly quickly. It wandered into a poorer section of New Albion and was slaughtered for meat before it had the opportunity to make a case for its life.

The dog and ferret faired splendidly. Who doesn’t want a talking dog or a talking ferret as a friend? The ferret made out the best as it befriended a wandering bard and got to truly see the world.

We hesitate to discuss the iguana in the interests of good taste. But there is no point whitewashing certain realities of life. The iguana fell upon… no, the iguana got in a with a questionable crowd. Perhaps it simply went where its proclivities took it. It lived a seedy life with seedy acquaintances. Throughout New Albion there are a series of jokes about a randy iguana who performs cunnilingus. While obviously most people would not for a second consider that these jokes are based on reality, the truth is otherwise.

Simon the Albatross and Sam the Mouse became part of one of the most successful thieving gangs in New Albion history and indeed we shall continue with their story tomorrow.

No one knows what happened to the room. But in certain esoteric circles, where secrets are kept and passed along carefully, there are indeed rumors of a wild room who moves freely across New Albion and the 5 homeless adolescents who became its friends.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Alchemists and Secret Handshakes (The Albatross, Pt. 3)

alchemist, wizard

Liddy’s return to University in New Albion was not quite as triumphant as she would have wished. Her leaving had raised some eyebrows and her mental state prior to leaving had injured her reputation gravely. Spending a few years messing around with Faery magic and dissecting faeries did nothing to improve her state of mind. In fact she was even more eccentric and no longer in a cute, dorky way. She honestly creeped everybody around her out.

Her insistence that she was sitting on a gold mine of faerie data did not help her cause, in fact it insured a rather insulated degree of isolation.  Still, her mind continued brilliant even if bordering on unravelling, so they let her back in but tucked her away a bit. She was given a rather ramshackle apartment in one of the College’s more ramshackle housing properties and the left alone to persue her studies without much hope they would yield practical results.

Her new roommate was an alchemist named Anton whose outspoken manner and fringe experiments ruffled more than a few feathers. He quickly came to adore Liddy and her oddness, first as a bit of a lark, but he soon recognized that behind the mad exterior was an epic mind capable of greatness. While everyone else scoffed at her supposed mountian of faerie data, he was thrilled with it, although he still had a hard time taking it seriously. She dumped on him all the papers and notebooks she had filled during her few years in the forest and over time her interest in it drifted away almost entirely. Within a few years she met her future husband, Jonas McAlistair, and went off with him to pursue other interests, leaving Anton with the papers.

Anton became more and more surprised the more he deciphered Liddy’s scrawls. He quickly realized the notes were genuine and honestly pointed to revelations of types of energy and alternative scientific paradigms. He became obsessed with the research.

Anton was also deeply involved with the mystical secret society circuit popular in New Albion in those days and he started creating all sorts of ceremonies and degrees incorporating the Faery lore for the various Lodges he frequented. These degrees became wildly popular and it was then that he and his two close school chums stumbled upon their business plan.

The three of them, all students of alternative science, had long dreamed of opening a company who would research and patent new discoveries and novelties. The money to start up such a venture was far out of their league and investors willing to give such money to three dorky University students were few and far between. As an example of why the the trio was unable to inspire financial confidence: Anton loved to walk around in long wizard looking robes and make every conversation into a metaphor for some mystical alchemical knowledge of enlightenment which of course he hinted only he and a few chosen acolytes truly knew and understood, but which as you might guess was actually complete bullshit.

But in Liddy’s faerie research was some actual ground breaking, heretofore unknown knowledge. And while Anton’s theatrics were disastrous in the realm of business opportunities, it was gold in the secret society circuit. The three young men realized they could form a brand new Lodge based solely on the Faerie lore, invent a series of initiations and degrees and make a fortune charging for membership. Furthermore, they could test their experiments into scientifically channeling the Fae energy using the Lodge members. If actual magic could be made to happen they would have something over almost every other Lodge that purported to possess magickal secrets but which engaged mostly in wishful thinking using complicated mystical symbolism. The money they made could fund their legitimate business idea: Beltane Industries.

The plan was a complete success. For some years their Lodge was a smash hit and they did indeed establish Beltane Industries using the windfall it provided. However, Anton’s obsession with the Fae energy did to him what Fae magic usually does: it made him barking mad. Furthermore, the higher the Lodge Initiates progressed in their knowledge and degree of fooling with Fae energy, the more they would lose some cards in their metaphorical mental deck.

It may not come as a complete surprise to find that more nuts the leaders and major players of an organization is, the less likely the organization is to operate sensibly much less stay organized. The Lodge crashed and burned spectacularly and some of the best and brightest of New Albion’s mystics in that generation were loons to some degree or another from there on out, giving a rather bad reputation to the whole mystical secret society business and causing a sharp decline in the industry.

Anton’s two partners however never were overly active in the Lodge and only cared about it for the start up money. They ended up with a thriving research and patent business. Out of respect, Anton was kept on for the remainder of his long, nut raving life. He was given his lab in the basement, on whose walls and floors he could paint all sorts of sigils and magical diagrams, as well as play endlessly with his well stocked alchemical lab equipment. He refused to dress in anything other than Wizardy robes his entire life, although as a loony old man was actually well beloved by his entire neighborhood and treated with honest compassion and fondness by all around him.

Beltane Industries tried working with and scientifically examining the Faerie energy for generations, but only as a side wing of the company. Turning it into practical use proved very, very difficult. It was therefore quite shocking when, a few generations later, a few young post graduate researchers actually found some intriguing results when they managed to use it to make a few talking animals.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A Study in Faeries (The Albatross, Pt. 2)

Liddy really, really liked University.

Sure she was a bit of a freak, but she found other intelligent, interesting freaks and for the first time in her life had a social circle. With full flesh and blood humans to boot. Her oddness wasn’t a deal breaker since she was immersed with other uber-nerds. She exchanged ideas and theories with other bright minds and learned all sorts of techniques and insights into this new, hot scientific method that was the craze at all the schools of higher learning. She was well respected by her professors and had a prestigious career ahead of her.

But she discovered what anyone with any actual experience with faeries knows as opposed to the fluffy horseshit spouted by romanticizing twats: Faeries are a real pain in the ass.

The house Liddy grew up in, the one on the outskirts of the Fae forest, was far from the only one. While human settlements (Albino village not withstanding) had never been allowed to take root, various homes, cottage and even Manors had not only sprung up, but unbeknownst to many of the families that had dwelled there generation after generation, were carefully laid out in a pattern very advantageous to the small inhabitants of the forest within. Few could really appreciate the geometric patterns that could theoretically be made if you started drawing imaginary lines connecting those residences. Fewer still could even begin to imagine the sigils those shapes suggested and just how much power and towards what uses those sigils could serve.

But the homes, at least a very important core of them, must be inhabited. There must be a resident. A few years could go by without anyone dwelling there, sure, but for the home to become deserted, unmaintained, lifeless? It would rot the entire sigil.

LIbby’s parents’ health was failing and Libby was on a track to never come back. This was… unacceptable.

Libby grew up around the Fae. She was well versed in their ways. When they started calling her back she knew exactly what was going on. But the call of the Fae is hard to resist. Many have been broken by it and few have ever escaped with their sanity intact. As soon as she recognized it, Libby got really pissed off.

She set about resisting it, but as time went by it became more and more difficult and her sanity started to slip. Her drinking increased, she started getting a real taste for opium which she tried her best to keep under control, her memories began confusing moments in her dreams with actual memories, her ability to stay anchored in a moment instead of off somewhere in her head or beyond took over to such a point that everyone around her noticed. Her insights were the only thing that benefitted, as her ability to think outside the box flew far beyond any of her colleagues, but everything that anchored her to logical thought started unravelling.

She swore, she grew angry, but this did nothing to help her and she became more and more aware of how others were looking at her and how opinion of her was becoming warier. And still the call increased. Eventually she had to accept that her choices just sucked. So she made the only decision she could, but she decided that she could use this situation to the advantage of science and the accumulation of learning.

Liddy left her beloved University just as a bright and motivated descendent of hers would also do. She returned to the cottage in which she was born and raised, thus causing that stupid call to subside. And she brought her tools of science with her.

She decided that this could in fact be a blessing in disguise as she was now in a unique position to scientifically study a heretofore unstudied topic of the natural world: Faeries.

So study Faeries she did.

It was not as easy as one would imagine. For instance, she discovered that dissecting Faeries was much more difficult than dissecting frogs. Finding anasthetics that worked on Faeries was quite difficult and heavens knows they can raise a ruckus when your’re removing their wings and trying to isolated the body parts which are used to channel their little Faery magic.

The scientific study of how their magic worked, how their little bodies channeled it, the nature of the energy and how it grew out of and interacted with other known forms of energy was endlessly fascinating and after a few years Liddy was actually quite enthralled. Her lab was covered with all sorts of faerie body parts, dissected faeries, and various concoctions made out of various parts of liquified faerie.

The Faeries of course were not so happy with this mad scourge of their forest, this professor from hell who studied them with a horrorsome menagerie of awful techniques and absense of ethics. It has been asked why they didn’t retaliate and use their magic on Liddy.

Well they certainly tried. By the time they had actually figured out where all their mates were disappearing to and what sorts of insane experiments were being conducted upon them, Liddy had grown immensely knowledgable about Faerie magic from a scientific point of view. Using Fae magic against her was akin to trying to electrocute Nikola Tesla. You’re better off just hitting him in the head with a sledgehammer.

Hitting Liddy in the head with a large, blunt object was out of their physical realm of possibility and gaining entrance to her rustic laboratory was out of the question as she had long since discovered exactly how iron reacted negatively with Faerie biology and magickal energy and was as well protected from any sort of retribution as a man atop a hill wth a circle of machine guns is to a bunch of rock throwing peasants in the valley beneath him.

So the Fae did the only thing they could. They caused three seperate residents of three seperate houses surrounding the forest to go mad and burn their houses down. The sigil broke and the Fae settlement disappeared from the part of the forest intersecting with this reality.

When Liddy became aware that the Fae had disappeared from the area she was actually initially disappointed as her research had been going so well. Eventually however, she shrugged, muttered “little fuckers”, packed up the results of her research and headed back to New Albion.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Origin of Talking Animals In New Albion (The Albatross, Pt. 1)

Simon The Albatross New Albion

Talking animals are not by any stretch common in New Albion, but neither are they unheard of.

Although they are rare they do exist although it is even rarer that they make their way out into the city. Technically, the talking animals who have been part of New Albion society come directly from Beltane Industries, but their actual genesis originates sometime before that.

Some considerable distance north of where New Albion now stands lies a forest once rumored to be inhabited by Fae. No human encampments of any size were located particularly close to this forest with the exception of an Albino settlement which has already been covered in another tale. However, there were some human cottages built close to the forest where certain family lines lived in isolation, such as the Llewellyn house.

No would ever accuse the Llewellyns of being overly sane, but they did just fine living in that house for centuries and in their family was a great deal of faerie lore and stories about various relatives’ experiences and interactions with the Fae living nearby in the forest.

Many of the Llewellyn children left and went off to the outside world to live long, full lives. As a rule, every generation one child must stay to care for the house if multiple children were born. That child would always marry another child from another isolated house or Manor located somewhere close to the forest. No one is sure how the child was chosen, whether the children worked it out amongst themselves, whether the parents chose and raised one especially to stay or whether the child was chosen by… outside opinions and then…. touched to insure their desire to stay.

When Liddy was a girl no one could quite tell which direction her fate would take her. She appeared definitely touched if ever a Llewellyn child was touched, but she also had such a keen, analytical mind, insatiable curiosity, and brilliant sense of observation and deduction that she also seemed destined for University. Indeed she herself seemed hellbent on University from a young age.

However, in that generation, she was the only child. It was certain she would stay. However, come adolescence she declared and would continue to forcefully declare whenever asked, that she was going to University and was going to study from and contribute to the Age Of Knowledge. Sometimes she would pace about outside saying just this very thing to no one in particular and even could occasionally be heard shouting this in the middle of the forest.

Thus it was that one day she hitched a ride with a passing caravan who was headed towards civilization, books and notebooks in a napsack on her back. She made it to a prestigious school and despite having no formal background and her social mannerisms being a bit odd as a result of her isolated upbringing, impressed the Board during the Entry Exams so much that she was accepted. With no prior schooling whatsoever other then what she had read, studied or observed herself, she quickly rose to become one of the most prominent and respected students of her class.

Alas. You can take the girl out of the Fae but you can’t take the Fae out of the girl…

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Two Thieves

victorian thieves

Just before the time in The Steampunk Opera that Edgar McAlistair got dumped by his fiance, there was a small gang of burglars who were very successfully operating in the city of New Albion. They were two very young women, an albitross and a mouse and together they upped the ante and refined the art of thievery in the city-state.

This is not their story.

However, in order to tell the story we wish to share today we must being with this gang and move forward. This gang of four pioneered new methods of thievery and worked together with a tightness and eloquence never before seen in these parts.

While many will point to this particular gang as one of the great criminal success stories of New Albion lore, many will argue that the greatest actual thieves could be a pair of brothers who came a generation later.

In the years when Byron was just a tyke, two brothers grew up inspired by the magnificent heists of the old Gang of Four (who were now Three and many years out of the burglary business and engaged instead by the whole mob running business). They were raised by a single mother who had seen a great amount of struggle and hardship in her life. She loved her boys, did the best she could for them, and made sure they understood that in this life, no one gives you a damned thing and in fact will suck you dry of everything you have, so you be smart, you be quick, you be daring and you bloody well take it first.

The brothers, Barnabas and Bartholomew, were as close as two brothers could be. From a young age they didn’t simply enjoy mischief, they were infatuated with how to successfully snatch stuff and of course provide for their dear mother. As they grew older and started reading diligently and hearing the street legends passed about New Albion of the exploits of the Gang of Four, these tales became their favorite stories and deepest inspiration. Once they got past the thrill of the stories however what became more important was the methods and revolutionary techniques the GoF employed working together. Most gangs before them suffered from either some degree of distrust, lack of finesse or lack of creativity, all qualities which the Gang of Four had overcome. The brothers studied them with relish as well as the others thieves before them.

They trained obsessively, honing their bodies to excellence. They worked with con artists, studying the art of the con, apprenticed with locksmiths, assisted escape artists, everything they could do. During their 20s and 30s they were the greatest team of thieves New Albion had ever seen. They robbed everything. There was no job too big or small they didn’t try or succeed at.

In fact, their exploits became so over the top they came to the attention of the two women and mouse named Sam who now ruled the New Albion Mafia. The brothers were brought in, in general to be intimidated, brought under heel, felt out and put in step. However, when the brothers found themselves being interrogated by none other then their 3 heroes, they began gushing with fanboy reverence, sighting their favorite exploits and technique of the Gang. The two Women and Mouse ended up blushing and were completely charmed by it all and the brothers thereafter operated with their full approval. The brothers were so successful that no matter what crazy schemes they came up with, they were unstoppable.

Thus it is that historians will occasionally argue over what happened in their late 30s: The Betrayal.

At the peak of the brothers’ power and success Bartholomew betrayed Barnabas. It is argued over the amount, whether it was jewels, cash or trust, whether there was a woman involved (most assume there was). But whatever the details, the betrayal was public and unforgivable and forever afterwards the brothers were at war.

They hunted each other, set up traps and stings, would try to procure whatever the other desired and constantly worked to foil the other’s plans and even outright attempt assasination. Historians shake their heads sadly and point to this as why the brothers never were able to acheive the glory the Gang of Four did, as while they continued to be successful, well respected thieves, their hyper, full out rivalry kept them in check and thus they never did hit the heights of power the Gang of Four (Three, actually) did.

There are historians of a certain school though, who make a particular, compelling argument. They point to a legend about the brothers which does in fact seem to be confirmed by multiple sources: After the Betrayal, once a year, the brothers met at a bar they had grown up around. They would rent it out for the day and drink together for about 12 hours. Supposedly, during this drinking binge they would have a grand time, laughing and singing and sometimes crying on each other when the subject of their dear mum came up.

The truth, says this school of thought, is that The Betrayal was not a bad thing. It may have been mutually desired. In fact, the brothers were utterly bored and the only thing which could give their lives purpose and fully engage them would be to take on a rival as capable as themselves. In lieu of such a rival’s existence, they chose the only worthy partners they knew: each other.

The stakes had to be high, life and death, otherwise the game was tawdry and unworthy. And once a year every year the brothers would call truce, spend a day together to drink and laugh and compare game plays from the past year. In fact, they say, the brothers never loved each other more then when each served as the other’s perfect opponent.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Red Haired Lad

Once upon a time there was a red haired dwarf who ran the New Albion mafia. He was a bit of an eccentric type and stories about him are for another place and another time.

He had two sons. The first son assumed control of the criminal organization but was eventually disposed and replaced by his brother. The brother abdicated the throne and the organization suffered a catastrophic setback. That brother had a son and daughter before he disappeared. His son grew up convinced that the mantle of mafia leadership was his by right and resolved to win back the crown. He spent years organizing a take over, but it failed miserably and he was killed.

His sister had a son, passing down the red haired gene, and this son had some connections to the New Albion underworld, although rather petty. This son had very little ambition beyond good times, an easy life and some thrills, and when the police crackdown came he all but gave up and became a drug addict. He and his very sketchy girlfriend did have a son, however, although it’s rather safe to say they were utterly terrible parents and this youth’s childhood was not a good one. This child is the Red Haired Lad.

His parents’ parenting style wobbled between apathetic and violent and as the Red Haired Lad grew a bit he gradually tried to spend as much time out of the house as possible. However, spending an early childhood constantly trying to keep situations from becoming explosive and thus harmful to him made him sharp where others may have cracked. He also gained a deep distrust of drugs while at the same time recognizing the power the more addictive ones could have. His desire to be in control of his addicted parents’ drug fueled moods instead of at their mercy is directly responsible for his later obsessions with finding and controlling the Albino’s new Rust Drug that is popular at the time of the Dieselpunk Opera.

The Red Haired Lad spent a part of his childhood preparing to leave his home and by the time he did around 12 he was well verse in the street and minor criminal culture of New Albion during the long civil war. Once out on the streets he survived quite well but it became clear that his youth and vulnerability once again put him at a distinct disadvantage and at the mercy of stronger street thugs. He became deeply reflective upon the concept of power, control and justice.

Since he lived in a war torn city, he started to run across other children who found themselves suddenly out on the streets, often orphaned unexpectedly. Unlike the Red Haired Lad, they had no familiarity with street survival. Some were all but doomed while others became basically feral and roamed in wild packs.

The Red Haired Lad finally saw how power could be achieved using the powerless. The Red Haired Lad took these orphaned children of the war and collected them. He built a home for them in an abandoned building with access to the underground tunnels where they could escape. They taught each other skills for stealing and the procurement of food and necessary items. Food allowed him to attract the more feral children who were key to defense and more dangerous activities.

Within a few years he had built himself a formidable gang.

To make money he and his gang of fellow children would offer to perform services for the more adult mobs, a key one being the delivering of packages across a city with all sorts of roadblocks and impromptu security gates. Children could bypass these things with much greater ease and the child gang became a regularly used service for the delivery of small items of contraband by adult mobs.

Since they were a gang consisting of many rescued  and orphaned children, they were of course particularly interested in rescuing other children, not simply to expand their own numbers but out of honest sympathy. A series of shells destroyed some run down tenements by the docks and no help was sent as the area was mostly abandoned or populated by derelicts and those too poor to warrant much attention.

The tenement area was actually purposefully kept as an underdeveloped area of the city. It was owned by the underground Albinos and was a key access point to both the aboveground and the waterfront area, where goods came in and out for them.

The Red Haired Lad and his gang of feral youth were the ones who showed up to search for survivors, particularly children. They rescued quite a few and brought them back to the abandoned building that served as their well fortified home. They fed and cared for the new kids who were all albino and seemed quite strange and foreign. Some children had heard rumors of the Albino tribe living underground, but no older child actually believed these fairy tales.

A few nights later the gang received visitors through their tunnel doorways.

The Red Haired Lad found himself surrounded by a group of scary looking Albinos and assumed a nasty stand off was about to begin, but in fact the Albinos were overjoyed that their children were safe and had come to not only collect them but to thank the Red Haired Lad’s Gang.

Thus it was that the agreement was reached whereby the Lad could access underground tunnels normally off limits to surface dwellers. This allowed the smuggling service to boom and now they could deliver contraband across lines that were in fact completely impossible by everyone else.

The last thing worth mentioning is that the Red Haired Lad has recently become obsessed with finding out where this new rust colored drug that everybody suddenly wants is coming from. He is going to grow out of his teens soon and his ambition is big and his talents, abilities and resources formidable. Control of this drug in some way could rocket him and his gang to a whole new level, a level he believes he is ready for.

What he does not know is that this drug is provided to the city of New Albion by three Albino brothers. The Red Haired Lad is not the only one searching desperately for this information and others searching are even more ruthless in their methods. What will happen is anyone’s guess. One thing is sure: The Red Haired Lad’s good relationship with the Albinos does not extend to the drug. Even he is not welcome to it or knowledge of it. There are dark days coming as the search intensifies.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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