The sun had been shining brilliantly and gloriously. The day was set to become a wonderful new day!
Amal certainly hasn't given up hope for that, no, nor will they.
Except the sky has been rattled with explosions, twice now, throught the day. And the small Rissan embassadorial misson has been getting on a ruckus due to that, currently camping out in an inn that has been completely reserved for them (a new building, the "Heart Of Light" inn) you've seen people going to an fro since the first explosion, someone arrived with a letter looking incredibly aggravated earlier, but you haven't heard anything about it, until now
You're just barely done with dinner by the time the leader of the mission has called you to his room-slash-office
Amal sighs and puts down their fork, stands, follows the messenger to the office.
The office would have been a really fancy high end room, but after the office furniture was brought in it looks a little bit more cramped. Known by his nickname Lion the old man is pacing around with papers on his hands, looking at them. Hair the color of his age, muscles the strength of travel, Lion has worked as a diplomat between the Rissan cities for a long time, this is only his second international visit but he's good at what he does. He looks as Amal enters "Ah, if it isn't the little hero" he puts the papers down and sighs "Exactly what we might need"
Amal steps up to the desk, smiles. They seem to have left the sigh behind somewhere on their journey, eyes bright with promise. "How can I help?"
Lion: "With a miracle" he pulls up a paper from the ones he was looking "We're about to face a diplomatic cataclysm as it is"
Lion: "I know we've no authority over the warrior clans but you'd think they'd have the decency of not hiring out to to people trying to attack the country we're in right now while we're here"
Amal: "All it takes is one clan without the foresight, or willingness to cooperate…"
Lion: "We are not, however, that lucky. And i've recieved reports of Black Stinger operatives involved in the recent… 'Very loud demonstration' we've seen today. Or not, because somehow there were no direct witnesses to what happened, which is a little lucky I guess"
He hands you the paper, it's a letter, mostly goes "We're sorry but we just had to do it" in purple prose "I need you to go and find their field commander, Black Jaguar. He was kind enough to put his address in the letter"
Amal shakes their head slightly. "I could have told you they'd be the Stingers. I wish they could see -all- of us as family, and look past their own interests…"
Amal: "…well, I'm not giving up on them yet. Even if I have to stop them!"
Amal: "Sometimes, you have to be willing to speak to people in their own language."
Lion: "It's obviously a trap and misdirection in case it's intercepted, but should be a start. Get him to actually give some expanation rather than this… Purple prose" he nods at you "Good, that's why I called you"
Lion: "I know you're not a kid, but you know, you got some of the best traits of the young ones still in you. I'm a little jealous"
Amal chuckles, just a little, like, what do you mean, I'm not a kid? "They'll never expect me to walk into a trap… that's the trap -I'll- use to trip them up! …did they seriously hurt anybody?"
Lion crosses his arms, thinking "I got my hands on some official masharan reports and from the looks of it nobody but themselves. Not for a lack of trying"
Amal: "Well, I'll try to make sure nobody else is hurt. We can't let anything jeopardise the peace talks; if we can't prove that we can police our own, and present a united front, then why -should- the other countries trust us?"
Lion nods "It's so basic, yet few of us manage to grasp that"
The address given is of a small clothing store at the farthest edges of town
Amal: "I'll protect them, too! Families sometimes argue amongst themselves, after all." They glance at the address, commit it to memory.
The travel to the store isn't too bad, the day is calm and Masharas seems to not have even noticed the chaos earlier
Amal wishes the others were with him, it'd make this easier. Then again, they shouldn't have to be involved in this, that would be a bad idea. Anyways.
Amal buys some Rissan street food on the way from a vendor, gnaws it off a kebab as they walk.
As you leave the central areas of the city you can see how well planned the city is as the couter city roads spiral into beautiful yet efficient patterns, the way they are built looks as if the roads could be removed and houses put in place and still make a neat and effective grid should it be necessary. Beauty, efficiency and future planning.
Amal picks up a second kebab from another vendor, smiling to themself about something. He doesn't head -quite- to that address, keeping out of sight and using the side roads, heading to a little barn about a block or two away.
The farm the barn is a part of isn't really watched too often, there's a sign in front of it proclaiming it's a test area for automation in farming, it says there's no test going on right now. Off in the distance you see the old caretaker of the land. The barn itself is unlocked, there's a few horses not of the best breed but happy beasts nontheless, i'd say the same about the single cow who's asleep in the middle of the day. A stair to the side heads up to the second floor
Amal waves to the caretaker, pats one of the horses on the snoot as they wander to the staircase, head up to the second floor, peeks around a corner. Is she awake?
A light ringing sound, quickly silenced. At first there seems to be nobody, but there is movement underneath a wood-colored cloak near the window. The movement of a body adjusting it's position. She's probably awake, just barely
Amal tiptoes over and then gently calls out: "I brought you some food!"
A sleepy yawn "Mira? Thank-" she turns around slowly, moving the cloak. For a fragment of a second she stares at you in the eyes, that is the time it takes for her tired mind to process you are not who she thought you were. In a swift motion of her left hand she brings her sniper rifle, a large one designed to use a wind controlling force gear as aid, to bear against you as a blunt weapon. She spins to her feet on the momentum of the swing and jumps back away from you, aiming the weapon unfit for close quarters at you
JayM: Carefulw hen startling a warrior on duty
Amal smiles, and takes a step back, holding out the kebab. "Sorry to startle you. It seemed like you were hungry, though, and I was on my way anyway… we've got to take care of our own, right?"
She looks at you for a moment through the sight of the rifle, her breathing is quick. You notice her mind's not quite there yet and she's running on instinct. After a few more moments in this (for her) tense situation she lowers her weapon "Uhn… I guess" she stands up straight and approaches closer, taking the food. You notice from her movement and stance she is definitely wary but trying to be peaceful
Amal is okay with waiting, it takes a while for people to wake up! Anyways, once she wakes up a little, they gesture to clasp hands with the sniper, wearing an intricate black signet ring prominently on a finger. It wasn't there before. "I'm Amal al-Malak. It's nice to meet you!"
She blinks, looks at you "Oh… I haven't met you yet" she holds your hand "I'm Serena, good to meet a new kid"
Serena: "Hope you're not my relief, no offense but you don't look like the type. I wish, though, most boring job in the world"
Amal: "None taken! And, actually- change of plans, we're abandoning this place. Sounds like someone got tipped off…? I'm not really sure what's going on, that's above my clearance, I guess."
Serena: "Compromised? Were the shop guys warned already?"
Amal: "Naw, I'm gonna go talk to them in a minute. It didn't sound like there was any rush, really? Just, not worth trying to stay here just in case someone comes rolling through, you know?"
Serena: "Right. Okay good luck, i'm point to Point B before heading back home then" she looks out the window "Either way, be careful, alright?"
Amal: "You too. Stay safe out there."
She nods, pulls the cloak into a bag and slinger the rifle on her back. She looks out the window… And with a single vault she's on the ground floor, that was honestly a great jump, and a moment later she's vanished in the wheat field
Amal whistles! And then heads down the stairs again because trying to make a jump like that would be VERY SILLY, and heads over a few blocks. That's one down!
The clothing store is a nice store, although it looks a bit too empty for this time of day. It probably makes sense, given it mostly serves a farming community. There's mostly work clothes on display here, although there are also a few really fancy dresses (they could do better with their sense of fashion, however)
Before you enter you can spot through the window the single salesman behind the desk, reading a book absent-mindedly as he waits for customers
Amal window-shops for a moment or two, then ambles in, admiring the clothes- even the work clothes! They're well-made! The fancy dresses catch their eye, because, of course they do, they're fancy dresses, and even if Rissan rustic tastes are a little too garish for their aesthetic, they're still really nice… Eventually, they pick out a kind of woven white scarf that's hard to find this far away from
Amal home, goes to the shopkeeper to buy it, and along with the payment, hands over a little slip of paper with some writing on it. "You've got some really lovely stuff, here!"
The man nods and picks up the payment "Thank you, just me and my boy here so it's a little hard to keep up with work sometimes, but i'm glad you like it" he picks up the money and the paper. He raises an eyebrow and looks at it, then just looks at you
Amal gives the guy a big thumbs-up. "Keep up the good work, okay?" They put on the scarf, then head into the back room, like it ain't a thing.
The man doesn't responds, just sighs. Into the back room, the wind blows, through the window bringing with it a few petals and making your scarf billow dramatically as you do. At first glance there does not seems to be anyone in the sewing workshop, but there are chairs arrayed in a circle near the center, clearly someone was here.
Amal smiles, really honestly -smiles-, and waves towards the windows. "I know you're there~! You probably want to put down your weapons and we can talk about this like reasonable people~! I made a promise that nothing in this shop would get damaged, and I take that kind of thing pretty seriously!"
A light tension in the air and three persons appear around you, they all keep the same distance, you know they're wary and you know they're not going to put down their weapons- Mostly because the Force Gear they're wearing is rather large including a getup on their gauntlets that connects to the main system carried in their back so it'd take a good while to remove. They're not being overtly threatening but you know when someone is ready to react "And who might you be" says a deep voice
Amal: "My name is Amal al-Malak." They raise their hand with the signet, although they're less confident the meaning will come across to these three, then once they've seen that, they continue: "I'm working with the Promenade clan."
One of them, who only seems scrawny at first but you're well aware they're just a little on the smaller side, moves a little bit to look at ou better. They nod to the one behind you, that deep voice "You people are better than I gave you credit…" there's a pause "Guys stand down" the other relax a little bit, taking a bit more distance. One of them goes look out the window. "What is it, then?"
Amal: "Just one question, to start out with. Who are you working for? We're all family, here. Being from different clans doesn't change that."
The one behind you, apparently the leader, speaks. She may be a little on the short side, but her body is by nature tough and her dark complexion somehow makes her look like a born soldier. "Sorry, but can't really share that, it's in the contract. Only the boss can do that. Can give you some advance warning you're not going to like it" her bass of her voice is powerful despite the feminine undertone.
Amal chuckles, just a little. "I knew I wasn't going to like it as soon as my family members started attacking Masharas in the middle of sensitive diplomatic negotiations. Anyways, it's an outside job, right..?"
Leader: "Yeah, we're just hired hands for mobility"
Leader: "This is a fine mess, I say"
Amal relaxes, a little. It's better if they're mercenaries working for an outside job! Well, better in some sense, at any rate. "So, I know every contract has a loophole. Well, every one of ours, at any rate. The Akaviri wannabes are a little too serious for that, sometimes. What's ours? How can we get out of this and save face?"
She crosses her arms, eyes closed. She seems to wince at the mention of Akavir "Not my paygrade, not my skillset either. Wanna talk to the boss?"
Amal: "Yup!"
Leader: "Know where the base is? I can jump us there quickly, but it can be disorienting"
Amal looks a little bit hesitant but then nods. "Yeah, that's fine."
She picks you up in her arms, looks at the other two and nods- And in the blink of an eye you're there- At the shade of a large tarp the color of stone there is a small camp. Five tents spread about, a few crates of supplies. This looks more like a command camp than anything else. Through the tarp you can see the shadows of many trees, this must be a very camouflaged location.
She puts you down gently, and waves you over towards one of the bigger tents "Let me show you in"
Amal looks around a little bit, like they're looking for something, and nods in admiration. It's good that even outside of the desert, they haven't lost their touch! …even if that's a bit of a pain, right now…
She stops in front of the tent "Boss, it's Emelie" from inside a tired voice "C'mon in" she looks at you "Wait a second" she heads in
After a moment, in which you hear her mention who you are and what you're doing here, she pokes her head out "Okay, come on"
Amal waits, obediently, looking around and tapping their foot, humming curiously- then heading in as directed.
Inside are two men, one of them looks in his late twenties and dark hair, dressed in red in traditional akaviri superior officer outfit, a greatsword rests against his chair. Across from you directly is another man, older this one with an eyepatch and hairs the color of snow. His body seems like it saw far too many days in the hospital and only came out stronger from it "Apologies for the trouble"
This man with the eyepatch, that must be Black Jaguar "What's a little detachment of the Stingers owe the honor of meeting the diplomat hero to?"
Amal side-eyes the Akaviri officer. Well, that and the other things answer -that- little question. That's interesting. Valuable information. They bow to the officer, does their best apologetic face. "May I have a few moments to speak with the Jaguar, ser?"
The man looks at you, looks at Jaguar. He nods, and walks out
The man stops for a moment before he exits the tent "Sanger" and he exits
Amal straightens up. That was easy. After a moment, he smiles. "-sorry about that. I didn't realise the head of the clan himself was this far from home. Must be a pretty important job, huh?"
Black Jaguar chuckles "It just took us nine months to enact this"
Black Jaguar: "I say, my granddaugther was given birth faster than this"
Black Jaguar: "It's mostly not our operation, though, we're just moving things and people as it is."
Black Jaguar: "I hope the proud Lion of the Promenade has kept his fangs sharp, sounds like you've got some problems over there"
Amal: "You realise what it looks like, having one clan negotiating peace with Masharas while the other clan is involved with attacks on Masharas? We certainly do have problems, problems that started today."
Black Jaguar: "I'm well aware" he sounds aggravated "Maybe that wouldn't have happened if you had, I don't know, warned us with some antecedence you were sending peopple here?"
Black Jaguar: "We literally got a clause in our contracts we don't operate cross-purposes with other Rissan forces, but we've been doing this before you showed up here, how were we going to halt this huge an operation midway through?"
Amal pinches the bridge of their nose. "Fair enough. None of the clans are good enough at communicating with each other on long-term plans, that's… a lot of our problem, right there."
Amal: "We certainly didn't make a secret of our plans, though; you certainly could have said something to alert us to the conflict of interest."
Amal: "In fact, I think… that's what the desert code recommends?" They shrug. "What's done is done, at this point, I suppose."
Amal: "So… caught in the middle of an Akaviri power struggle, and the Lion wants to catch Masharas in his jaws, is that it?"
Black Jaguar: "…" he looks a little past you at the doorway, then looks at you with a very serious stare "I see you're better informed than I was led to believe"
He waves you to come a little closer
Amal is very very good at speaking very quietly; steps a bit closer.
He lowers his voice considerably "This unit is isolated from the rest of the Stingers. Trust me when I say I recieved some very… Unusual payment for this job, one i'd rather not have to recieve, that involved the movement of an armored division away from Rissan land"
Black Jaguar: "Let's not mention i'm working at cross purposes with myself right now"
He returns to his normal voice "For what it's worth the current operation was deemed a failure, and we should be disbanding within two days at best"
Amal: "An occupational hazard, I'm afraid. My condolences. I'd like to speak with you later, about this. And give you a counter-offer."
Black Jaguar: "Hrm… I do not work against my employers, unfortunately. But by the time you should be able to next contact me I should hopefully be back at the homeland"
Amal: "Oh, I know there's a loophole in the contract somewhere. I'm just curious what it'd take. I know you mean the best for our people, just… be careful out there, okay?"
Black Jaguar: "I try to be very clear about my contracts. I also try not to fight in basements."
Black Jaguar: "I am also not a lucky man" he takes a deep breath "You too, be very, very careful out there, Amal. The security of this outpost is, after all, in the hands of our employers. And they're big on secrecy"
Amal looks alarmed, suddenly, but nods. "I know. If anything happens and you're not safe because of me, I want you to point right at me, alright? I can handle it."
He nods
Amal: "I need to check something outside, okay? I'll stop taking up your time."
He just closes his eyes and waits, he probably knows what's going to happen better than you
Outside, once you step out… You're greeted by Sanger, who's been patiently waiting for you to finish "I'm sorry"
Amal smiles brightly.
He picks up his greatsword in his right hand "I realize what you are here for, but unfortunately we all have our duties to fulfill. Unfortunately, I cannot let you leave this place and divulge it's presence, nor when we are leaving"
Amal nods a little. "Yup! You wouldn't be doing your job very well, otherwise! No hard feelings." They seem like they're waiting for something, some precise moment.
Sange runs at your direction "Astral Cutter!" yet something, some force pulls at you brusquely from the shoulder- A person? He seems to be wearing some priestly robes you never saw before, torn and tattered, chains on his arms and legs. Sanger winds up slashing at this man- With a single hand he wields his greatsword into a dozen strikes, finalizing with a final slash as the his sword's Force Gear triggers- Similar to a teleport Force Gear it causes a spatial distortion, but this one that of a slash form. The man who shielded you has been thoroughly brutalized, but he looks amused. He turns to look at you, and you only have time to notice he has a lollipop on his mouth before he vanishes
Amal looks bemused.
A voice speaks from behind Sanger "Now now, Sanger. It's fine to let him go" it's a person wearing old, tattered clothes. A hood obscures their face, aside from the white stick in their mouth
Amal glances towards Sanger, voice loud enough that the Jaguar can certainly hear it. "You know, though, that by the Desert Code, attacking me puts your contract at forfeit?"
Amal: "It's certainly not my decision what to do, at this point."
Before Sanger can answer that other person walks past him "He might be more aware of that than you imagine, young one" the person hands you a letter "Isn't it?" they look at Sanger
Amal reads the letter, curiously.
Sanger simply keeps his eyes closed for a moment, without making any noise. He puts his greatsword back on it's sheath, and walks away
In the letter is an invitation to the Grand Chapel, to meet the Pope and the Divine Oracle. You have been invited to join the Fatebreakers
Amal tucks the letter into a pocket of his robe with a smile.
The hooded person chuckles at Sanger's reaction "I believe that solves that"
Amal: "So, who -are- you, anyway?"
Amal: "I've never seen you before."
They look at Amal, straight in his eyes
Stranger: "I'm just a messenger"
Stranger: "Want some company to the road? Sadly, I must away once we reach it"
Amal: "That'd be nice! It's a long way back, and apparently I have a meeting to go to?"
Stranger: "That you do"
And they lead you out, and after a while finally to the road, wherein they graciously bow away before leaving in a different direction
Amal waves goodbye with a really weird expression on their face.
JayM: And with so many eyes watching over the events that unfolded… What awaits in the future?
Amal shrugs, and heads back to the city. (Some day, this'll be the beating heart of the world. Some bright and possible day.)

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