All Paths Lead to Warehouse
Hal and I discussed our options. Did we really want to clear out this place? That was our goal, to get the drugs off the street. However, if we decided to work with Pafwah, he had made it clear he wasn’t going to stop dealing. All hitting Chaffington’s warehouse was going to accomplish was to bring a world of hurt down on us, and Pafwah’s territory.
There was no easy course. Maybe Pafwah wasn’t our best bet for a better tomorrow, but neither was Chaffington. Technically, we hadn’t done anything to Chaffington, and we had taken out the two stashes he’d asked us to. However, we got the feeling that walking into his bar and asking for a meeting was not a good idea. We had the feeling that he was going to be pissed.
No working for Chaffington, no working for Pafwah. Perhaps we could get that list of food contacts and get the soup kitchen started, work the 9 to 5, make an honest living.
Hal didn’t see much adventure in that.
Finally, I said, “We may as well give back the key to the room. We know the place is being watched, maybe adventure will stem from there.”
So that was the plan. Grab our things, grab the swords, give back the key.
We made our way nonchalantly to the rented room. Two thugs were watching the area. Hal hung back a bit while I walked up to the door. I turned the key and pushed it open, half expecting to be met by a wall of fire.
I went inside and hastily collected our things.
As I exited, I saw one of the thugs gone, and Hal heading toward the corner he’d been at. I hurried to catch up with Hal.
The two thugs slipped off in different directions. We stayed together and followed the one Hal had first gone after.
He was leading us deep into Chaffington’s territory, toward his bar.
A hand grabbed each of our shoulders. We heard a voice, “Gentlemen.”
It was Whistledown, quiet as the night he had snuck up on us. I’d had all my senses at full alert, but I hadn’t seen him coming. What was this man, a fucking ninja?
“I’d like the both of you to come with me, we need to have a conversation.”
I asked, feigning ignorance, “Are we going to talk to the food people?”
He replied icily, “No. We are not going to talk to the food people.”
I told him, “We have a room nearby, can we talk there?”
He responded, “I’ve seen your room, and, no, we cannot talk there. You can come with me of your own will, or I can force you to come. It is your choice.”
We chose to go with him. He led us through the neighborhood, down a few tiers, and to the side entrance of the warehouse. We went down a long corridor, and ended up in a well-appointed office.
Whistledown locked a door on the far side of the office, gestured for us to do the same to the door we had entered through, and motioned for us to take a seat.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “we have a situation. This business with Pafwah cannot continue. My employer is, for lack of a better word, furious. I have done everything in my power to keep him from retaliating, and so far I have succeeded. I fear, however, that I cannot sway him for much longer.”
“The only way to keep Chaffington from furthering this violence, and this is entirely hypothetical, would be to remove him from power.”
“And who,” I asked, “would take his place?”
“Nibbler would be his second,” he answered.
“And how does Nibbler feel about…” and I gestured to the warehouse with my hand, “all this?”
“Nibbler is loyal to Chaffington to a fault,” Whistledown replied. “If anything were to happen to Chaffington, he would go any length to avenge him.”
“When Chaffington is at his bar,” Whistledown continued, “he is extremely well-protected. The one thing that could make him leave that security lies in the room behind me. In that room is a Lapin. His name is Nibbler. If anything were to happen to him, Chaffington would be blinded by revenge.”
“If Chaffington and Nibbler are removed, who would take their place?” I inquired.
Whistledown responded, “I suppose it is possible that…I could fulfill that role, should the need arise.”
I followed with, “And how do you feel about…all this?” once again gesturing about the building with my hand.
“I don’t quite know what you mean.”
“Drugs,” I replied.
“Oh,” said Whistledown, “drugs. I see my fellow Lapins around me, and I see this terrible yoke they bear. I would like nothing better than to see it removed.”
I continued, “Pafwah has told us he has no intention of stopping his drug trade. To remove this yoke from the people, he must be removed as well. Is there anyone in his organization whose interests align with ours?”
“I’m sure someone can be found.”
I turned to Hal, “You wanted adventure. There’s adventure behind that door.”
Whistledown interrupted, “It would be advisable to confine your dealings to the dock behind this door. In the warehouse beyond is a substantial amount of product, and it is heavily guarded. They have explicit instructions to stand guard with the stores, but it would not do to walk into the midst of them.”
I asked, “How long will it take Chaffington to find out that Nibbler has been removed?”
“News would reach him fairly quickly. He will not come alone. You can meet him here, or we can direct him to a place of our choosing. Perhaps a few tiers down, where we can hope to reduce the…what’s the term…collateral damage. I will bring you what support I can.”
“Whistledown, when Nibbler and Chaffington are removed, will the people follow you?”
“I believe they will.”
I once again turned to Hal, “Then we go through the door.”
Whistledown stood up and said, “Gentlemen, I wish you good luck.”
And we went through the door.
At the end of the corridor stood a guard with his back to us. He was not aware of our presence. Hal mocked his lack of guard keeping skills, and he fell to the ground.
I rushed into the room and approached the largest of the Lapins, who could only be Nibbler.
I Opened the Gate of Battle, landing a series of blows while shouting, “Today is your day to die, Taflish!”
He pulled out a sword and swung at me, shouting, “My name is Nibbler!”
A Lapin strapped into a saddle was riding a dactyl at the dock, he was carrying a rifle. Having a clear shot at Hal he fired, but the bullet whizzed past harmlessly.
Hal mocked the beast for carrying such a poor shot on his back.
Two riflemen opened fire from two gun ports in the wall. Their shots went wide.
I turned back to Hal and shouted, “Taflish? Didn’t you kill this guy already?”
Hal shouted back, “This is Nibbler!”
I unleashed Five Storms against Nibbler and a thug, squarely punching Nibbler in the jaw, “I’ll bet you didn’t expect to fight me today, eh Taflish?”
“Nibbler! My name is Nibbler!” he roared.
Nibbler danced between myself and Hal, lashing out at us both but not able to hit Hal.
Hal let loose a shout that killed the man on the dactyl, and caused Nibbler some serious pain.
The dactyl swooped off in panic, carrying the corpse with it.
Nibbler and I fought, my Crane’s Wings pushed him toward the edge, with nothing but a dizzying drop below.
He moved back in away from the danger. I hit him with all Five Storms, dodged a swipe of his sword and leapt in the air, delivering a kick to the head that snapped his neck with a loud crack.
Hal and I rushed to the back of the room, intent on taking out the last rifleman before he could run to the warehouse for help.
Hal mocked his ineptitude, and he hit the ground. We stripped Nibbler of his sword, and tossed his body over the edge.
Everything was going to plan.
Unfortunately, the plan was that in a very few hours, Chaffington was going to try very hard to murder us.