Red Flags at Dawn.

Red Flags at Dawn.

Postby Carnath-Emory » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:32 am

It is, perhaps, Myrkentown's least palatable district. Narrow houses crowd in upon each other; roofs threaten to shed their shingles, to collapse entirely. No couturiers here; no pleasant taverns or charming places of business. To glance down the neighbouring alley is to catch a glimpse of the local flophouse and immediately regret it: the Lady's reach is broad but this area has escaped her notice for months, an affront to her sensibilities, and she has not yet scoured its streets of their filth, not quite. Within days that might change. They've expected it to. But at this hour and by the Militia's design, these streets are empty: of labourers and whores, of the vagrants who should ordinarily be huddled into their corners, blanket and cup and grubby-faced hope.

She'd arranged a chair for Treadwell. Being Treadwell, she'd made sure that it was a large one.

A scope for his eyes as well, and a drink for his hand. This was the whole extent of her courtesies. It was also the end of the time they were to spend together during this 'demonstration': giving him her greeting and her farewell in quick succession, she was promptly monkeying up a ladder to take her place upon the nearby rooftop with the least-able of her flag-bearers.

At her indication, he sounds his horn: its bellow ricochets down narrow streets and crowded alleys, and the Militia becomes sudden motion.

The eastern quadrant: two distinct detachments come hard from flanking corners, merging into a single body. Three-wide, five deep: quick boots upon cobblestones, a pattern echoed across three of the northern streets. Men clad alike in their unremitting blackness and dividing from hundreds into dozens, when this begins in earnest; men armed largely with modified goedendags - a simple weapon well-suited for almost any purpose. Amongst them, a thin scattering of spotters: armed but divergent in that their eyes are trained strictly towards the rooftops, alert to what the flag-bearers will signal.

Those flags. Does the Councilor see them? Lurid fabric, fastened painstakingly to what used to be shovel-handles. Their bearers are scattered across the sector's rooftops, and they are anything but inert observers. The Marshall murmurs something to the one by her side: the flags he hoists at side and overhead are brilliant scarlet, vivid even against the dim sunrise sky, and even as the Councilor watches he will see how the stance he'd designated is echoed from one rooftop to the next. Transmitted, from one set of flags to the next, a single instruction communicated across the miles which should make communication impossible -

Distant, very distant, the answering crash of barricades falling obediently into place.
The Marshall's smile is small and irrepressible.

If it'd been Kerrak, she'd have had him shout out scenarios: an attacking body from the west, a rioting crowd converging south-east, so that he could see the Militia's ability to respond in defiance of distance and the unpredictable. But this is Treadwell, whose talents lie elsewhere. So it must be her instead, whispering one event after another into her flag-bearer's ear: a collapse of order two miles rear of the Militia's main body, a sudden encroachment of its east-most lines; a barricade breached by the weight of crushing crowds. Each circumstance prompts a new posture: scarlet flags swapped for green, swapped sometimes for surly amber, and troop redirect their movements at a delay of only moments. Detachments adjust their trajectories, diverging sharply into alleyways and shortcuts, rallying at choke-points as if to fight their way free of them. Intermittently one man or another heeds the flutter of scarlet, driving an axe through a barricade's restraints to send the whole thing tumbling down into place, rendering its street impassible.

At a pre-designated interval, one of the flag-holders falls upon his rooftop as if struck dead by a volley of arrows. The nearest, when she sees this, has her flags shoved into a shoulder-sling; scrambles hard across rooftops, leaping one alleyway entirely and hastening to a point midway between the fallen's and her own. There she performs double-duty throughout the remainder of the exercise, and it delays the Militia's movements upon the ground -

Slightly delays.

An hour of this. By the end of it there are militiamen a little breathless but not quite ragged, and the Marshall has descended her ladder to make her return to the Councilor's side. A few quiet words, then: an explanation of the mechanism behind the wooden barricades, and she will show them, if he's interested. Show him the brackets pounded into the sides of certain buildings to harness those barricades flush against the walls; show him how a good stroke of the axe will cut the thing free, sending it crashing down into the street upon its edge. How - if absolutely necessary - they can be made mobile, to be transported according to a need communicated by scarlet flags. There are more such brackets, she explains. Scattered through Myrkentown proper, appended to buildings of particular strategic value.

And that's when the conversation begins in earnest.
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Re: Red Flags at Dawn.

Postby Cinnabar » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:13 pm

These exercises do not go entirely unnoticed; the hour is early, the streets - for the most part - deserted, and yet curious eyes turn towards the poor quarter, drawn by the crash of barricades and tramp of marching boots.

The Constabulary - the true Constabulary, grey tunics and brass badges and iron hats - has been in a state of hesitation for the past week or so, ever since the Vice-Governor started posting her new byelaws; torn between the madness of those laws and their vow to uphold them. There are some among their number - ranking officers, commanders, those at the top - who wear the Lady's vine-and-tiara upon their collar, who pass down instructions in keeping with her will. The rest - the rank-and-file, those who tread Myrkentown's streets at risk of their own lives - are less enthused, less zealous in their enforcement of the Vice-Governor's edicts.

They tell one another that they're beholden to the Governor, not to some upstart farmgirl, oh, beg your pardon, chairwoman who's trying to fill his seat while he's away, or missing, or worse. They tell one another that they've got plenty of proper criminals to catch without being doily inspectors too.

They are men and women who've faced the worst Myrken has to offer - the veterans among them having joined when the Constabulary was the closest thing Myrken had to an army, before the Marshalls whipped the Militia into shape; they swore to keep the Peace, to protect their home, to stand between the people of Myrkentown and whatever will do them harm. They've bled and died in these streets, and there's a damn good reason that brass badge is in the shape of a shield.

So there's more than a few of them who see the Civil Constables as a slap in the face; no small number who look upon the Inspectors and Enforcers with scorn, swaggering little popinjays with their sashes and smirks who dare to call themselves Constables. It's been a week of things going from bad to worse, and with each new brutality the mood grows darker; with each wretch found broken and bleeding in gutters or alleyways the discontent grows, the officers meeting on street corners and sharing news of the latest outrage with glances and glares for the dandies in passing. There are rumours of Civils caught alone by hooded assailants, and among the patrols might be glimpsed Enforcers striving to mask bruises with powder and paint.

The Militia march and maneuvre, and grey tunics gather quietly on street corners to watch; some direct their fellows' attention to the rooftops, others turn their heads to comment upon this clever trick or that in quiet tones. The choice of neighbourhood is noted. The timing is especially interesting. Once things wind down, once the flag-wavers cease their fluttering relays and the militiamen stand quiet once more, a Constable makes his way towards one of the barricades; an older man, pale blotches of old burn scars creeping up half his face from collar to cheekbone. A nod as he catches the eye of the squad's sergeant, a touch of fingertips to the brim of his iron hat in greeting.

Nice uniforms, he offers, conversationally; black's a better colour than what they had last week or so. Much smarter.

Well, looks like the sergeant's a busy fellow, and making a good job of it too; he'll let his fellow Constables know not to get in the way. And ask the Marshall to give them a nod if there's anything they can do to help, eh?

Mind how you go.
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