This story is a small fiction following the events of my group’s first session of Blades in the Dark, John Harper’s excellent haunted industrial roleplaying game.
Watch Sergeant Renata Laroze, ranking officer in the Duskvol City Council’s Lawful Cohort (“Bluecoats” to the rabble, so-called for their distinctive navy blue jackets), rubbed her tired eyes and tried again. This night was proving far more taxing than her Myst-addled brain could handle. She kept getting flashes of some ghost’s desperate longing accompanied by a shooting pain through her sinuses. Blasted low-grade stuff from a street hawker, nowhere near as good as Riven’s.
“So let’s go over this again,” she said, surveying the bloody, quivering scoundrel sprawled on the cobblestones before her. “What exactly were you up to tonight then, cully?” The pale man closed his eyes and groaned, pressing a scrap of torn cloth to the ghastly wound near his shoulder. Run through by his own blade, she recalled. “Well?”
“I – I didn’t see anything. Please,” he rasped, painfully. “I need a physicker. Let me go, I swear, I didn’t…” His mumbled pleas broke off into a scream as Renata leaned forward and gripped his injured shoulder firmly, curling her fingers into a malicious claw. Around her on the dock-front, the other Bluecoats didn’t so much as look up from where they were combing through debris or castigating witnesses. Only the small, rotund Inspector with their strange glinting eyepiece glanced over knowingly. Renata shivered a little, and it wasn’t from the Myst. Something about this Inspector creeped her right the kelp out.
“Look, numbskull. It’s one in the morning, we’ve scraped about six of your friends off the boardwalk and you have a hole in you bigger than Lord Strangford’s Leviathan Six, Immortal Emperor protect him. So how about we cut the crap and you tell me just what you saw, hmm?”
To tell the truth, whatever had taken place here had caused a right mess. Fog Hound gang members dead, drug shipments missing, another watch sergeant scared out of their mind babbling on about ghosts, and weirdest of all reports of a Tycherosi noble poking around, hunting for someone. The fact that the Bluecoats were out in force at the old Crow Foot docks, a place they usually gave a wide berth in the same way Deathlands scavengers skirt thrice-haunted refuse, was testament enough to the unusual circumstances. Renata’s witness looked up with fevered eyes.
“Alright, alright! It was another gang. New one. Been muscling in on our operations in Crow Foot for a couple of months now, poaching our customers. Busted up Henry and his gang near Charterhall a couple days ago, now this. Call themselves Riven, the dreg bastards.” He gasped in pain as Renata abruptly released her grip and settled back, eyes hardening. Riven! What do those damn pushers think they’re playing at? She gave him a reassuring smile, even though she was furious.
“Your shoulder. Who?”
“I don’t know his name, but it must have been the bruiser I tackled to the ground, leviathan take him. Big scary guy, dark hair. There were six or seven of them firing at us from the alleyway, I flattened him, something sticks me and next thing I know I’m here with being shaken away by a shith- er, yourself, ma’am.” Renata snorted at his desperate gentility, then stood up and wiped her bloody fingers on a crimson handkerchief she pulled from a pocket of her coat. It matched almost exactly the few dark streaks of red through her short-cropped brown hair.
“Wait! What about my shoulder?” cried the wounded thug as she turned away. Renata paused, looking back at him.
“Oh, I have no doubt someone will be along to sort it all out,” she said, flashing him a smile and adjusting her belt so the blade at her waist was on full display. “If you live that long.” The rogue, wisely, fell silent.
Within two steps, the cold anger had settled back over Renata. Esher, the brains of Riven, had a lot of explaining to do. The rest of her gang were idiots, broadly speaking, but Esher, with her cunning eyes and slender body… well, now wasn’t the time to think about that. Renata had overlooked their business and instructed her squad to do the same, and here they were jumping into situations well beyond their pay grade. Oh, yes, a lot of explanation indeed…
An echo of ghostly longing struck her so suddenly she slammed into the wall. Her second-in-command slid up to her, but she waved him away impatiently. This cut-price Myst had nothing on Riven’s exquisite stuff, which made taking the hardline with them – and Esher – all the more difficult.
Still, she would have an answer. Renata Laroze stepped into the mists that hung heavy on Duskwall, and vanished. Behind her, the Inspector with the glinting eyepiece knelt over the pale injured Fog Hound, smiling an enigmatic smile as they watched her disappear.