Throughout November I’ll be concentrating my posts on Welcome to the Valleys in honor of NaNoWriMo. If you’d like to catch up on this story, the first post of this story can be found at this link
“Cap, you gotta come this time!”
Alec rolled his eyes slightly, but didn’t reply immediately. Instead, he took a large gulp from his ale and set the mug down deliberately. Only then did he turn to face the interrupting guard.
“What is it Lubber? Can’t you see I’m busy collecting a debt?”
“It’s those Meadowrun guards again, sir. They’re back.”
Alec sighed. “Those guys just can’t take a hint, can they? Tell ‘em to buzz off and head home, we’ve got enough to deal with without them bringing their inadequacies here.”
“That’s just it, Cap, we told ‘em to go. But they came back, and they got a whole bunch of people with ‘em. And a sheet of paper they say tells us to let ‘em in to the city or they’ll arrest all of us!”
Walter and Michael exchanged a worried glance, but Alec shook his head in frustration. “Of all the stupid… Weasel has lost what little sense he had.” Alec paused for a moment, thinking, and then asked, “Who’s in charge on the bridge right now?”
“That’s why I came to get you Cap! Sally’s running the show.”
For the first time, Alec’s face betrayed a sense of worry. He turned to Walter and said, “Sorry, Senator, we’ll have to finish this drink later. I gotta go check this out.” Turning back to the his subordinate he asked, “Does the council know about this yet?” The guard shook his head in the negative. “Alright, find whatever council members you can and tell them what’s going on. Got that? They might as well earn their pay tonight. Now get going.”
The younger guard nodded and ran out of the pub, screaming for several other guards to follow him as he passed through the exit. Alex shook his head in disbelief and took another quick swig of his ale.
Walter, urgency in his voice, asked, “Alec, what are you going to do?”
“Do?” Mused Alec. He placed his mug down on the bar and stood up. “Well first I think I’ll run out to the bridge and prevent a war from starting, because that sounds like a good idea. Sally’s a good guard, but she don’t think much of outsiders bossing her around.
“Second, I’m sending you two back to your hotel. With escort. You all might need to make your way out of town tonight, and I can’t have Kaitlyn here if Merkot’s guards try to push into the city.”
Michael’s face hardened, “You think they’ll be able to get in, then?”
Alec chuckled. “Look, Michael, we like you guys and we can’t stand Weasel. But Riverside ain’t ready to wage an open revolt against The Cracks. The nearest folks that’d be sympathetic are all on the other side of the tunnel.
“Besides,” he added. “I doubt the Old Fox wants us to start a uprising.”
“You’ve got that right, Alec. With Merkot doing who knows what, the last thing we need right now is an open fight between two troops of guards. I’m guessing that pushing Riverside into a fight is what Merkot’s hoping for. He wants to destabilize things, I just wish I knew why.”
Alec picked up his both coat and the sheath which held his wooden peacekeeper baton. “Walter, the day I understand Weasel is the day I retire to the country. Let’s get moving.”
As the three moved toward the door, Alec called over his shoulder, “Sorry, Frank, looks like no business tonight!” Behind him, they could hear the bartender grumbling audibly.
As they made their way to the street, Walter discovered the number of Riverside Guards around the building had grown significantly since their entrance a few short minutes ago. Alec thrust his hand out to Walter and said, “Looks like this is goodbye for now, Old Fox. You best be going.” He motioned to two nearby guards, “These guys will get you back to your rooms. Stay there until you get a message from me. And, whatever you do, tell Kaitlyn to stay put until I send her escort.” Off in the distance, a thunderclap rang. “Of course it’s gonna storm,” Alec groused. He thrust his hand forward again for Walter to take.
Walter refused to shake. “Not so fast, Alec. We’re coming with you to the bridge.”
Alec lowered his hand. “Look, no offense Old Fox, but are you actually paying attention? These folks are after you, and if they see you we ain’t gonna be able to stop ‘em without busting some skulls.”
I don’t think so. We’ll stay off the main deck where they won’t be able to see us. Just leave me with an echo box and let me listen in.”
“What good do you think that will do?”
“It’ll let me know exactly what their reason is for chasing us. I might need to know that when I finally get to the Senate floor.”
“And when they tell us to step aside, and you’re run over by the folks who are looking for you, what are you going to do then? Run fast?”
Walter grinned. “Oh, they aren’t coming into the town tonight, Captain.”
“Really? And what makes you say that?”
“Because any extra-jurisdictional order has to be confirmed by the council of a recognized settlement. And your council won’t be able to convene until tomorrow, say late morning?”
Alec’s face broke into a crooked grin. “Well, it’s worth a shot. I’ll send some guys looking for the council to tell them to stay out late. But what are you gonna do if they decide they really are coming across that bridge tonight?”
“Well, Captain, then we might need to reassess the concept of uprising. If Merkot has enough power to get away with that type of an intrusion, then The Valleys as we knew them are over.”
“OK, it’s your funeral. You come with us.” He pointed again to the two guards who had been assigned to escort Walter and Michael back to the hotel. “You two make sure nothing happens to these two gentlemen, alright? They’re friends of mind.” The two guards nodded importantly and moved in closer to the pair.
“Alright with you, Old Fox?”
“Fine by me.”
“Great, let’s go.”
As they began to make their way to the Great Bridge Michael moved into to Walter and said quietly, “Did you really mean what you said about an uprising?”
Walter shook his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe it will come to that, but yes. Everything Merkot’s done up to this point has been inside the range of powers he’s got as head of safety. He’s stretched things a quite a bit, and if we wants to show he’s following the rules he’s got to claim he has no idea I’m actually a Senator, but he hasn’t fully stepped across any lines yet.
“If he’s confident enough that push his way across jurisdictions without any local oversight…. well, that frightens me.”
“But the Senate can check such reckless acts. Can’t they?”
“Michael, if Merkot has a group of guards who will openly violate the jurisdiction of another recognized settlement I’m not sure the Senate actually exists any more.”
The two continued to walk in silence, surrounded by the Riverside guards. As they marched on, rain began to fall.