Week 334: The Arresting Arrest

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MoonlitRain014

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The Lupanar night was full of a cacophony of noises along with a myriad of scents that were at the very least unpleasant and sometimes downright nauseating. The bustling streets were crowded with all manner of strange and unsavoury people and some that were downright lethal. Calvinia moved carefully but smoothly through the crowds, inconspicuous and wraith-like, as she and one of her other officers trailed the seedy Miletius Frinto to his nocturnal rendezvous with the unnamed tattooed man. There was no expression on the quaestor’s face, save one of concentration. Her right hand was hovering near her concealed short sword and she had a certain tension in her body while her dark blue eyes scanned the space around her.

Calvinia was dressed in her “Lupanar” outfit which consisted of a long and quite battered leather duster, an equally battered tricorn hat and non-descript brown cloth pants and shirt along with scuffed boots. Now she seemed to match most of the other denizens of the district. With the hat pulled down and the collar of the coat obscuring the lower part of her face, she was anonymous in the extreme.

Frinto took a turn down a street and momentarily vanished from view. The officer ahead of Calvinia was closer to him and his arm swept briefly over his face, a gesture to indicate that he still had eyes on Frinto, that he wasn’t lost. As the quaestor went around the corner, the sleazy man’s silhouette reappeared as he began to enter one of the most rundown, flea-bitten looking pubs that the quaestor had ever seen and that would have been saying something.

Her face drew tight for a moment as she stepped into the reeking bar, full of the smells of stale tobacco smoke, spilled beer and unwashed humanity. The place was almost literally packed to the rafters with a variety of scarred, rough and dissipated looking beings of all of the races of Terminus. The two quaestors, in their similarly rough clothes, fit in well. Calvinia’s cool gaze swept the room and lighted on Frinto and his contact who sat at a corner table.

The velen who sat across from him was a true brute. He looked to be something over 6’5” tall and had shoulders knotted with cords of muscle that could be seen as they strained at his shirt. He had a black and green-scaled skin with scars that ran in fault lines all over his already ugly features. The overall effect was to make it difficult to distinguish his features, everything was rather mashed together and obscured. He was leaning in, intent and pugnacious, as if he might leap forward and seize Frinto by the throat. Through the smoke and noise of the bar, the officer who accompanied her was making a series of gestures. It was thieves' language and Calvinia replied, as no one so much as flinched at its use in the pub. Her fingers flickered a moment more and then grew still.

Some signal had passed and there was a pause of five minutes while the gargantuan velen got closer and apparently angrier. His huge, scarred hands were creeping across the table while his scales began to darken in colour. Abruptly both Calvinia and her sergeant moved, crossing the distance rapidly between themselves and the table at which Frinto and the ugly velen sat. Her sergeant seized the small weaselly Frinto by the collar and dragged him up shouting that he was under arrest.

The whole pub grew silent as the sound of a gun being cocked filled the air, placed firmly against the back of the huge velen’s thick, knobby skull. “You’re going to slowly get up. You are not going to move in a way I don’t like. If you move in a way I don’t like, this bullet is going into you. You’re lucky I need you alive, but being shot in the knee is no picnic. Guy in your line can’t afford to have a limp. Do we understand one another?”

For a moment, all of his muscles bunched but he nodded tersely and as he rose, Calvina took a couple of steps back. Her pistol was trained steadily at the back of his right knee but he simply stood. In one fluid motion, Calvina grabbed his muscle bound arms and cuffed them behind him. She guided him out with her gun still leveled as her companion was hauling Frinto out with considerably less caution.

In Lupanar, parading people down the street could get them killed, but Calvina was in no charitable mood at the moment. Both her contact and the big velen were just going to have to take their chances. Windows shut quickly and gawking faces vanished on sight of two rough looking characters holding two other rough looking characters at gunpoint.

Every time the powerfully built velen ahead of the quaestor seemed to twitch or move in a way that might indicate too much motion, she reminded him about how quickly she’d shoot him through the knee. Frinto was meek and quiet behind as her sergeant kept him moving. In the more salubrious districts of the city, there was open staring and whispered conversations as the flea-bitten trio moved through on their way to the Quaestorium.

It was only inside the building that Calvina’s taut lines began to relax, her shoulders settling as she was surrounded by a sea of officers. Her sergeant took Frinto one direction while she took the brutish man in the other direction, towards the interrogation holding cells. The usual flurry of paperwork followed as she processed the hulking man and had him placed in a cell.

Having done that, she made double quick time to her office, slammed the door and tore the rough clothing off. Her whole body’s demeanour seemed to alter as she replaced the filthy clothing with her crisp red and gold uniform, her shoulders coming back and her chin rising. By the time she strode out of her office, she appeared every inch in command of herself.

Striding down to the cells, Calvinia paused a moment and then swung the door open, walking pugnaciously into the cell with a swagger that bespoke confidence. That swagger stopped abruptly and violently as she stared, eyes wide and mouth nearly hanging open at the flayed remains of the gigantic man, laying like a huge wooden anatomical sample for medical students, skin in a separate pile away from the body. The cell was awash in crimson and the charnel stench of blood filled the quaestor’s nostrils. The man lay on his back, muscles and tendons exposed, not one bit of what lay under his skin damaged.

The detail that burned into Calvina’s mind was the way his skin sat beside him like a discarded coat. Reeling away, she slammed the door and instinctively ordered the guards to lock everything down. Charging out of the cell, she sprinted down the hallway and nearly collided with the massive form of Quastor Laermont. The gigantic detective stood for a moment and without even speaking a word broke into a run as Calvina followed on his heels.
 

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