A NationStates Murder Mystery (Open PT/ MT)
Sir Joseph Queene the IV was a wealthy socialite, and notable war profiteer. It had always been said that “at Joseph Queene’s funeral, diplomats and royalty would arrive in the masses, but not a single friend”. Tonight had been his birthday; therefore Queene had invited many notable figures to “celebrate” at his manor. Across the dinner table Queene could spot many people that he hardly knew, they ate their meals like royalty, and probably we’re royalty. Joseph was a great fat oaf of a man, with a toad face that was swelled with red flesh as he drank more brandy through the night. His mansion was Elizabethan in design, with suits of armor that probably belonged in a museum and oil paintings of long dead relatives that also looked like they belonged in a museum (and I don’t mean the paintings). The estate itself, was well outside of the city limits in Northern Unibot, and with the storms that filled the skies, the guests that had arrived, had no doubt arrived by car. Let me rephrase that, the guests that had arrived, arrived by driving no less than two hours on a Unibot highway, and another half an hour up an abandon county road through the marshland, fog, and moats that surrounded the Queene estate, the mansion was as isolated from urbanization as possible.
Eduard Heir, diplomat and leader of Unibot, had initially turned down his invitation to the birthday celebration, but nether-the-less was persuaded to go; in fact he was so uninterested by the table full of socialites he was not even at the dinner table. Those who walked up two flights of stairs and decided to use one of the forty or so guest bedrooms may have been startled to find the Unibotian diplomat groping two French supermodels while wearing a steel helmet he had stolen from one of the many suits of armor in the hallways. It was at eight o’ clock when the hydro went out and unfortunately the telephone lines as well, the rooms of the mansion faded into darkness. Eduard could hear the wealthy people scream down stairs, he wasn’t surprised…they’d probably sue Queene for having a bad party. That was when Eduard heard the gunshot.
Sir Joseph Queene had been shot and killed in cold blood.
Who’s a good shot in the dark? Anybody!?
(O.O.C Looking for anyone wanting to fill the seats of Queene’s party, please join, the lights will returned soon, until then let’s do some LOST style flashbacks previous to the murder to give us the feel of your characters, to explain why they’re at the party and why they may/or may not be a suspect.)
This could be interesting. Sounds a bit like that game Clue to me (decent board game, though). If a few more people join, I'll jump right in. Until then, save a spot for me.
OOC clue was what I was going for....
OOC: In which case you did your job.
The card reserving his place had the name printed surname first. While not an unheard of practice, it caused his heart to sink. There it was, once again:
right there at his dinner setting.
Lester had earned the right to wear his resplendent tuxedo, tapered shirt and tailored shoes. He had developed first a successful board game and then a successful mystery/staire magazine, ClueLes Capers. He was the Big Break for the author who had given the world The Rum Hole of the Bailey, a series of stories about a man who solved mysteries as a British Barrister even while fighting a sordid case of alcoholism, and the rest was a matter of history.
Les remembered the phone call that had brought him here. The phone at his desk had simply rung. The secretary had put a call through. It was that simple. Less had looked up from the coming month's advertising copy (it is the advertisements that determine the number of pages that a magazine will devote to its fiction and not the other way 'round), pressed the button on the phone, picked up the receiver and stated:
"Good afternoon, Mr. Clue," came a rather bland-sounding voice on the other end of the line. "I trust that you're not working too hard."
"How could I ever do that?" he responded. "And how can I help you?"
"Please allow me to introduce myself," the voice said. "I am Sir Joseph Queene IV. Does that name ring a bell to you?"
"Of course it does. No business owner worth his weight in salt would fail to recognize that name."
"Excellent," the voice replied. "You may not have known this, but I am something of a fan of your magazine--and, for this reason, I would be most appreciative if you could attend a small gathering in celebration of the day of my birth." It was a simple, polite invitation.
And, for a moment, it had seemed that Lester's heard had simply, politely stopped beating.
After a moment, when Les was able to speak again, he replied, "W-well, I-I'd be delighted to attend."
"Excellent," the voice said. "I will email you with the mundane details of time and place. I look forward to seeing you."
Lester was a thin, spindly man, with dark black hair that was starting to gray at the temples. His white dress shirt didn't have to stretch to cover any part of him. If it was an expensive shirt, this was because Les had worked to take advantage of his opportunities.
And perhaps there was another opportunity in play.
Les pushed the intercom button. "Mildred," he said, "I need to know as much as I can about Sir Joseph Queene."
That had been three weeks ago, and he hadn't learned much about the man. He was always in the public eye, but never doing much tat said what kind of man he was. That didn't matter, though. If he liked ClueLes Capers, that would be enough. Les would show up at the party and see if he could rub some elbows. It couldn't hurt.
Only one problem: "Oh, and Mildred, what kind of birthday present do you give to a man who has everything?"
In the end, Les had decided to give him an issue of the magazine.
That is to say, the issue would be his issue--he would choose the authors, he would choose the content. His name would appear in the credits as "Guest Editor" and on the front cover. It would be a great way to spread the endorsement, and maybe even take a little of the weight off of his editors' backs for a little while. Wishful thinking was not a bad thing.
And that had led Les to the man's door, and into his dining room.
And into the dark.
And, in a moment, to the rythmic sound of shooting guns, to the sinking of his poor, aging heart. As the lights came back up, it was revealed, as he had feared: he had lost a friend, it seemed, before they had ever even met.
"Noisy," was her first thought when she saw the body. A quick snap of the neck would have been so much quieter, and so much cleaner.
Samantha Smith was unself-conscious in black T-shirt and black combat pants, her usual attire whether relaxing at home or navigating the corridors of power. She glanced around the room, mentally positioning her fingers on each neck.
"Do you have an invitation, ma'am?" the fellow in the butler-suit had asked, materializing out of nowhere, seemingly, when she had entered unobtrusively though a side door. She had never been called "ma'am" before. She was about to say, "My car...." when the lights went out. Her car was sitting now uncomfortably far away down the road and uncomfortably broken down.
"Who's he?" she asked nobody in particular.
3 hours previous to the murder.
5 o’clock at the Queene Estate.
It was raining profusely, and the sky was prematurely dark. The driver called out to Eduard, “we’re here sire”. Heir was quite hung-over, sitting in the back of his limousine with a pool of drool hanging from his mouth. In a few minutes, Heir woke up, thanked the driver and got out of the car. He attempted to orient himself; there was a large gothic manor and a villa surrounding the manor’s grounds, including a chapel, a cemetery and what Eduard to believed to be a golf course. Heir decided he would enter the manor, as it was raining and he had no umbrella. He appeared to be in some sort of parking lot for the estate, there was a lot of commotion, expensive cars and snobs huddled under umbrellas we’re filling the lot. Eduard was invited at the door by someone he didn’t know, he just waved and stepped into the doorway. Heir’s wet coat was pulled off his shoulders by some aimless servant, and within a minute he was shoved a glass of rare wine from a snotty old butler balancing a silver platter. Eduard took a sip and spit it out, he hated red wine… he’d have to find the scotch.
The Moonlight Sonata played in the background, which was surprising to Heir, he really had expected Mozart. Aristocracy was alive in the manor; Eduard had been shoved by the commotion into some sort of lounge where old colonels and war lords we’re sipping brandy and laughing generously while exchanging their share of rehearsed war stories. It was all too much for Eduard; he shook hands with the birthday boy, Queene, who passed by him on the way to meet the generals, “good that you could join us, Eduard”, “yes, glad to be here” Eduard lied. Heir stood at the doorway for few more minutes, until he meant two lovely supermodels with the absolute most arousing accents, he decided to tell them that joke he knew.
Thank God for infomercials, Sam Smith mused as she finished drying herself with a ShamWow towel. She looked around for an eco-friendly place to dispose of moist towelettes that smelled suspiciously of moat-water.
Thank God for permanent press, she said to herself as she pulled her clothes out of the waterproof nylon stuff-bag. She dressed quickly and did her best, without a mirror, to look like a woman who had not spent the past hour naked in the rain on a golf course.
She stuffed the stuff-bag and ShamWow into her cargo pockets and rain her fingers through her short brown hair. Good enough? she wondered. As good as it's going to get, she decided.
She glanced at her watch. Almost half an hour until it was time to go in.
Aglorea City, Capital of Aglorea
George Baker walked calmly through the brightly lit hallways of the main Aglorean Intellegence Agency building. He took a sharp left down another hall, and a right into the office of his commander, codenamed Alpha. Baker took a seat in one of the expensive, comfortable chairs that had always been the best part of the simple office. The only other noteworthy thing was a large 127-inch High Definition television screen hidden behind a thin sliding oak wall. Baker still wasn't sure what the TV was for, as Alpha was far too busy to simply sit and watch Soap Operas all day.
"Baker," the aging, yet still fit, man began as he always did. "I trust you've read the briefing on Unibot."
"Well, it appears that a man by the name of Joseph Queene is going to be celebrating his birthday with a party at his manor. Suffice to say that we are... interested in him."
"You want him dead?"
"No, just keep an eye on him. You have a flight to Unibot in the morning. We'll get you on that party list, you just have to wait for the invitation. Good luck, Baker."
Baker nodded, stood up, and turned to leave.
Hotel Room of George Baker
3 days before the party
Baker looked through his emails as he did every morning, and found the invitation he had been waiting for. Officially, he was a rich businessman with expensive taste and great political motivations, and was in town visiting a relative (which explaned the hotel). Everything was set.
The Queene Estate
Baker walked up to the front door of the estate, knocked, and was invited in by an aging butler. Baker was tall, athletic, and slightly tanned with short dark hair. He wore a white undershirt with a black jacket and tie. His shoes were expensive, at least seven hundred dollars for the pair, and he had solid gold cufflinks. As his job was only to observe Queene, he was not armed, but if anything happened he was prepared: in his car he had an assault rifle (unfortunately with only a single magazine) and a pistol. The party appeared to be going as they usually did. Baker apoligized for being a little late and moved to mingle with the other guests while he waited for the food to be served.
Sam had given the body only a cursory glance. Small caliber bullets, most likely Parabellum. No surprises there: small pistol, easily concealed.
She had wandered into the kitchen looking for a coffee and spent five minutes trying to explain to the chef what a double-double was.
She had removed a man's hand from her breast, stopping just short of breaking his fingers and flashing what she vaguely imagined to be a flirty smile. She partially regretted doing that, as it would probably attract more attention than it repelled. But it would, hopefully, establish her as a "normal" woman and divert interest from her more unusual side.
She had briefly considered responding to the unexpected turn of events by vanishing into the night as mysteriously as she had arrived. But leaving a crime scene would, again, attract undue attention, possibly spreading her face all over the news as a suspect - and she still hoped to leave the country without fanfare, under her own passport.
She wondered which of the guests might take on the role of a Miss Marple to try to solve the crime. She had little interest herself in who had done the deed. By all accounts, the victim was a waste of oxygen and though she generally disapproved of murder, she was having some difficulty working up much of an objection to this one.
She moved casually among the guests, sipping her coffee and ignoring their looks.
Immediately following the Murder
Eduard jumped out of bed, the two foreign supermodels wined “no, stay...Eddy” , Heir shook them off, “it sounds like something is going on down there, something serious”. “Eddy” put on his socks, and struggled with the buttons of his shirt, leaving the guest bedroom to find his way back to the master staircase. He never did find the master staircase in the dark, he had to settle with a small corridor that felt like it was on a slant downwards…which was before he crashed into a wall. Eduard wiped his face, that was his Peter Sellers routine for the day, and he continued down the next corridor he found, which apparently led to a narrow staircase, probably meant for servants. The staircase went on forever, Eduard thought about turning around on several occasions. Which was when he started to see candlelight, Heir followed the light to a door that was engraved with what looked like Masonic symbols on it. He didn’t hesitate to open the door, and what he found was peculiar, it was small storage cellar which had apparently been converted into a meeting place for some secret society or a low-budget cult. The shelves that had once been used for storing food also had books lining them. Also there was an unusually large amount of candles, but the most bizarre item of the cellar was the stone tablet on the centre of the floor, covered in blood and flesh. Human sacrifice came to mind…Eduard shook his head and grabbed two lit candlesticks, he figured they would come in handy as he attempted to find his way back to the party.
Sam headed back into the kitchen to see if there was another double-double going. It looked like it was going to be a long night. The staff had dispersed. Clearly, the party was over. Some of them would be out among the guests, rubbernecking, and some of them would be just taking advantage of the time off.
As she was stirring her second coffee, she heard footsteps like on stairs and then a door opened. A man was standing there, disheveled and a little disoriented, with a candlestick in each hand. She resisted the temptation to say, "Colonel Mustard, I presume."
Baker had been suprised when the lights went out. It was that sort of thing that made him hate his job: twists. He had instinctivly reached for his pistol when he remembered it wasn't there, but was in the car. It could be a long night. When the lights came back on, he had immediately realized what had happened, and glanced around. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Now here he was, talking to the guests that remained at the estate, trying to figure out what happened. Every now and then, he'd notice a woman walk by dressed in clothes that didn't quite fit the party scene. Wasn't her, then. The killer wouldn't dress like that. He moved towards her to see if she knew anything he didn't. "Why hello there. My names George Baker. Nice to meet you." It was then that a man with two candlesticks ran down the stairs.
"Sam Smith. That's the second guy I've seen running around with candlesticks tonight. Hell-oooo. The lights are oooon." She decided that Baker looked like a man who was used to carrying a gun - but he didn't seem to be carrying one now.
Les sank forward, his hand coming up to hold his head. This couldn't be happening. Somebody screamed. Forlornly, the publisher looked forward. A man's hand slowly released from his jacket. Military--or mob--there's not a whole lot of difference these days. Les instantly ruled him out as a suspect, however. He could see from the cut of the man's clothes that he didn't have his piece with him. People started to shuffle. It got confusing. From the kitchen, a woman's voice wafted into the dining hall:
"Hell-oooo. The lights are oooon."
And then, Les did the last thing he thought he would ever do. He stood up, emptied his wine glass down his throat and used it to pound on the table.
"Alright!" he shouted. "Everybody calm down. Nobody move! Let's try to get to the bottom of this!"
Eduard shook off the people that stood at the bottom of the stairwell, he didn’t care how silly he looked carrying candlesticks, if the hydro went out again he would have to come back and rub it into their faces. There seemed to be a lot of commotion in the kitchen, so Heir headed that way…which was when he saw what the screams were about. There lay Joseph Queene, shot and killed in his seat at the table. Some of the guests we’re still in the room, in shock no doubt, one was even still at the table eating his meal as if nothing had happened (apparently the death of a wealthy war profiteer meant little to him). Eduard pulled out his cell phone and called 5-7-8, figuring most of the guests we’re foreign and didn’t know the number to reach the emergency services in Unibot. Of course the emergency services in Unibot was a difficult thing to explain to most foreigners, it was totally privatized, the hotline that Eduard had called was the health insurance company that he figured Queene would have signed up on. Heir was sure that Unibot’s system of privatized emergency response was much better than the socialistic hellhole of government red tape that it could be…however he started to question that when he was put on hold by an automated message and left for twenty minutes listening to the sounds of the Unibot philharmonic orchestra intertwined with an annoying and redundant message, “you’re call is important to us, please hold”. Once he reached a receptionist, she informed him that Queene was not enlisted with their insurance company; however she gracefully transferred his call over to the correct insurance provider after five more minutes of bickering.
The cheerful receptionist answered his call, “hello, this is H&I Insurance, Unibot branch, how may I help you?” Eduard tried to turn his thoughts into words without them spilling out all at once, “this is Eduard Heir, yeh know…the country’s leader, I’m at the manor of Joseph Queene, who has just been shot and killed by…..someone”. It then occurred to Eduard that the killer was still in the house most likely, the receptionist didn’t reply for a minute, “okay, Mr. Heir, according to the officers that I’ve talked to, the bridge that is necessary to get to the villa has flooded over quite badly with the flash floods. Therefore H&I would like to inform you and whom ever it might concern that we’re in negotiations with the corporation entrusted with that specific road’s maintenance, at the moment we suspect that response crews we’ll be able to arrive by noon tomorrow. This is the third caller we’ve responded to for this specific event, so can you please keep the calls to a minimum from here on out or we’ll bill you for them. Have a good evening.” Eduard heard the line go dead, and he shook his head. With the roads flooded, and the moorlands too treacherous to walk through, the police would also not be able to get to the manor tonight, nor would the murderer be able to leave.
Baker turned away from Sam to look at the direction of the disturbance. Les Clue had just tried to give an order to everyone, and he found it slightly amusing. He muttered a quick "pardon me" to Sam and walked into the dining hall with a small grin. "Get to the bottom of what? Queene is dead, so now it's police business. And last time I checked, none of us are police. Anyway, if you really want to find out who pulled the trigger, drawing attention to the search is not the best way to go about it."
Eduard heard the argument across the room, “Queene is dead, so now it's police business. And last time I checked, none of us are police”, it seemed as if one of the group wanted to get to the bottom of it, while the others were lost in apathy. Heir walked over to the small crowd who we’re arguing, nodding their heads in agreement or shouting obscene names for each other. “Listen guys, I just called, the police aren’t going to be able to make it tonight nor the ambulance, the bridge has flooded over with the rain. They’re not coming till tomorrow at noon, at the best. It looks like we could be having a sleepover here, with um…the murderer.” Eduard didn’t figured the last line helped at all. Meanwhile the old butler seemed to have something to say, he was holding it back however, Heir called him on it. The butler addressed him, “well sir, there is a groundskeeper in the villa, he was once an enforcer of the law, and no doubt could help in this situation. He was hired really as a tradition, at one time his job would be to inspect the loyalty of servants and maintain the security of premises, however over time his job has degraded to inspecting the grounds for trespassers.” Eduard nodded, “can you lead me to him?” the butler nodded, “I shall fetch you your coat sire, as mine”. Heir looked around, “anybody else wanna come?”
"Sure, I'll join you," Baker said. "And since there are no police availible... I guess Queene's death is our business." He let his arms drop to his sides, as they had been crossed in front of him throughout most of the argument, and moved to follow Heir.
Eduard took a last look over at the body of Queene, “and…what are we doing with him until then; he’s going to fucking rot”. Heir thought he heard a servant mumble something about a meat cellar.
Eduard nodded to Baker; the butler fetched them their coats and passed them flashlights. “You lead the way” Heir told the old butler who opened his umbrella as they left the door. The rain was stronger than it had been earlier, and even the parking lot had accumulated water which was something considering the mansion was placed on top of a hill. The butler lead them down the pebble road, about a five minute trek to the bottom of the hill where there were a few stone houses at the gate, one had the lights on. The butler whispered in Baker’s ear, “the groundskeeper’s name is Archibald, he’s a fine gentleman but I do recommend you restrain yourself from staring at his leg, or lack of leg for that matter, he’s a bit sensitive about it…”. The butler knocked on the door, and within a minute a scraggly old cripple opened the door, Archibald took out the tobacco pipe from his mouth to form his syllables better, “good morning Andrew, and his… accompaniments”. Eduard thought it was a little dark for someone to assume it was morning, however was open enough to the unlikely possibly that Archibald merely did not believe in daylight’s saving time, instead of the more probable possibly of Archibald’s raging lunacy. The cripple welcomed them into his small home, which smelled of burnt cheese and onions; he sat down in his chair to give his leg a rest. Andrew, the old butler started the conversation, “this is Eduard Heir, the president, and Mr. Baker. There here about…um…Sir Queene’s untimely demise”. Archibald nodded his head for a few seconds until he realized what the butler had just said, “that FAT TOAD’S DEAD! Hah, serves him right for making money of me fucking leg, and all the young chaps that we’re killed in the war, did I ever tell you about the war?....” Andrew cut him off; Eduard figured that the butler had heard the story on many different occasions.
“That’s not why we’re here Archibald, we need you for your…um, skills of deduction and analytical thought…the killer is still on the premises and the police won’t be arriving for a while” the butler kept it brief. Archibald put his pipe in his mouth, and leaned back in his chair, thinking it over, and then smiled “surely I’m up for the challenge, just like the old days…just like the old days indeed…” the cripple got up from his chair and pulled a rat pelt coat over his shoulders and grabbed his rifle, “it’s time for this murderer to be brought to…justice, I suppose, but ye know, I don’t really mind what he did.. serves Queene right for making money of me fucking leg, and all the young chaps that we’re killed in the war, did I ever tell you about the war..”
Baker frowned as the old man began again to talk about the war. As they all walked back towards the house, he again found himself wishing he had a weapon on him rather than in the car, and the old man's rifle was making him nervous. If he was as crazy as he seemed to be, he couldn't be trusted with that gun. For all Baker knew, he had killed Queene and slipped outside. "Eduard," Baker turned his attention to the president. "Did you know Queene well?"
Eduard laughed, “I don’t think anyone knew Queene well. What I know about him I’ve heard from others, I only got invited to this because I’m “important”, I suppose you could say wealthy men like Queene are infatuated with importance and power. Joseph Queene’s family is a reminder of a disempowered monarchy, long before my time, when Unibot was under the rule of a royal hierarchy. The Queene estate was quite powerful…. but that was centuries ago before our democracy was established. Queene rode horses and played golf all of his life, living off the inheritance of his ancestors. About forty years ago, when the depression was crippling even the wealthiest of families it looked like Queene would have to sell the manor, but that was before the war started. The war on Stratigenia was a success, but not because of the munitions, Queene was enlisted as the Royal Minister of Supplies and Transport, and he did a pretty shitty job of it from what I’ve been told. Guns that didn’t work, shoes made of cardboard, he even sold tanks on the market after the war…civilians use to drive around in fucking tanks in Unibot because of this cheap bastard. He pissed off a lot of the soldiers, but he paid off the right generals to get away with it.”
Heir looked around the grounds, there was no way anyone was going to get away through the night, the moat was overfilling into the garden, basically extending the moorland right up to the parking lot.
The men in charge had gone to fetch the groundskeeper, a former policeman of sorts. Sam had seen him on the way in but she was fairly certain he hadn't seen her. A naked woman in the rain is not something that men don't mention to anybody. He was old but he had something of a military bearing about him. She reminded herself not to underestimate him.
She briefly considered, again, slipping away into the night. Her reason for coming had become mostly moot, after all. But now that the bridge was out and the car was wrecked as well....
In the movies, she would have had a flashy sports car. But in real life, she had a rented Mitsubishi that barely moved downhill. Explaining the missing car would be hard enough without having to explain her disappearance and her supposedly miraculous escape across moat and moor.
She decided to continue the ditzy housewife charade. At worst, it might be an interesting night. At best, she might learn what she had come to learn.
Archibald stared up the nostril of Joseph Queene for …well, longer than ANYONE should. He hummed to himself an old tune, whispering its lyrics “the old beaver walked down the logs, getting its leg stuck in a hook, they had to amputate his clogs when he wasn’t taking a look”. Eduard and the rest of the crowd that stared at him we’re a tad horrified at the sight of the cripple sticking a fork up the corpse’s nose. The butler seemed especially unimpressed with his ex-master being...violated with a kitchen utensil. Eduard interrupted the groundskeeper, “eh, maybe you should conduct some…interrogations, or address the suspects, yeh know”. Archibald laughed, “no, the solution to our problems lies in the back of this man’s eyeball”, he forcefully shoved his hand into Queene’s eyes, lifting the eyelids open, “they say that a man’s murderer is engraved into his eyeball forever” Archibald explained. Eduard shook his head, regretting he had even invited Archibald to the proceedings, “it was dark…he never saw his attacker”.
Archibald looked up, “oh, well that changes everything! Why didn’t you say so before!?” The groundskeeper pulled out his rifle and fired it into the ceiling to get the attention of the guests…which he already had. Archibald took the pipe out of his mouth, and began to speak, “I know we’re all scared, there is a murderer amongst us. But we must remain calm and attempt to solve this crime; someone will need to carry this body out to the meat cellar to properly preserve him for an autopsy…in the meantime, which of you has an alibi?” Expecting a flurry of shouting Archibald was surprised when only one of the guests immediately wished to explain why he was not there for the proceedings of the murder in its entirety. Eduard waved his hand, “I was upstairs with two nice ladies, in one of the bedrooms. They’re still up there I think, they’ll vouch for me”. Archibald nodded and gestured his hand as if to say “show me”. Eduard lead the way upstairs to the guestroom in question, Archibald negotiated the stairs well with his bum leg as did the twenty or so guests that trailed behind him in curiosity. Heir came to the door and knocked, expecting that the supermodels could be...well, naked as he left him. No one replied. Eduard blushed as the crowd looked at him suspiciously, “I’m sure they’re just sleeping…” he opened the door facing the other way to see the snob’s reactions when he was proven innocent once and for all. However the reaction was more of complete horror and shock, and Eduard’s grin diminished, he mumbled “what are they lesbians…” as he turned his head to see the two models sprawled across the bed, dead.
"Well, he wouldn't kill his own allibi, would he?" Sam thought from the back of the crowd. "Or would he? What if he knew they wouldn't corroborate his story?"
She wasn't tall enough to see over the men in the crowd. She wondered what the cause of death was and she wondered if the models were good-looking. Models tended to be too skinny for her taste.
She wondered if the murderer had even killed the right victim in the dark. If the murderer was still out there, there was a chance that there would be more victims too.
She slipped away from the back of the crowd and went back down the stairs. The remainder of the guests were gathered in small groups, talking nervously and glancing suspiciously at other groups.
She went over to the French doors where she had come in and looked out into the darkness.
Suddenly, a face jumped in front of Sam. "Hello!" The face was attached to a man wearing a dark suit, and an eye patch.
"Hello. Sam Smith." This one looked more annoying than threatening, a journalist maybe - probably lost his eye in a grapefruit accident. "Miserable weather, eh?"
The man climbed into the room. His suit was the same shade of black as his eye patch and hair. "So somebody finally snuffed ol' Queene? Good ridance, I say." He reached into his jacket, and pulled out a cigar case. "Not that I'd have done it myself, just, well, you know."
Archibald made his way through the crowd into the guestroom, but not to examine the body. He first looked at the photo on the bedside table of a thin happy man, no doubt Queene when he was younger, holding an elegant blonde under his shoulder. The groundskeeper lit his pipe and took a deep breath, sitting down on the bed next to the bodies practically unaware of their existence. “This room has a funny history, back about forty years ago, Margaret Queene, Joseph’s elegant wife fell victim to the VODIAS (Viral Overactive Dysfunction of the Auto-Immune System ) disease, and Joseph, being the “man” he was, ordered her to be kept in this guest room and barred her from leaving. If he could of respectively thrown her off a cliff to avoid her giving him the disease I’m sure he would of, but what would his golf buddies think of him then? She lived only a month or so in this room, it’s a shame really. She was actually a nice woman. There was no funeral if I remember correctly, just a private service at the ground’s chapel, the body was still contagious, so it had to be incinerated.” Archibald turned over and looked into the cold dilated eyes of a naked corpse, he seemed just a tad surprised, “bloody hell, where in “Loki’s toothbrush” did they come from!?” Eduard giggled, “I don’t know, but they sure know how to make em’…” he saw the disapproving glances, “sorry...” Eduard tried to shift the attention from him and his bad jokes, he saw a man wearing an eye patch and started talking loudly, “never mind where they came from, we’re the fuck did HE come from, Pirate Cove?” Heir gestured over at the strange man, the crowd laughed.
"Can't say I do know. I never met the man." Sam was still looking past him at the rising water. If not for this intruder, she might be on her way right now.
"Do you always come in by the window? she asked, hoping he wouldn't take it as an invitation to conversation.
The crowd started to hum with activity, one respectable citizen (a rich war lord who kidnapped young children from their invaded homes and ...did stuff with them) shouted out in anger, "yeah! Who is he! I didn't see him earlier!?", the mob murmured, Eduard heard some faint but audible whispers of "neither did I" and "did you?" across the crowd.
The man lit up his cigar, sending putrid smoke into the dark night. He puffed on it for five seconds, and turned to Archibald. "You say this room has a funny history? I show you funny." He walked almost femininely over to Archibald, and stood uncomfortably close to him. "You remind me of my father." The man puffed again, and said, without exhaling the smoke, "I hated my father." He let the smoke out slowly. He stood there for a second before a feeble "Tada."
OOC: Yes, I am going somewhere with this annoying man.
The professional clown that been hired for the celebration not only looked dreadfully out of place with the current situation, but also disgusted at the fruity man’s blatant usage of the "clown’s code of honor", and hoped to god he wouldn’t pull out a pencil.
"Now, since you've all been acquainted with myself..." (The man goddamn knew they hadn't) "The real reason we'll all here is because Queene kicked the bucket. Bit the dust. Moved on. Passed. Went to the big kingdom up in the sky. Became acquainted with the hot kiss of lead. Now, everybody thinks the other Joe Somebody did it. But one of you is Joe Somebody, and made Queene a very cold and still camper. Now, let's not get into boring details, but they think I gave him the ol' lead injection. And the only reason I'm hanging around with you buzzkills is that I need you to prove that somebody else did it." He extended his hand to Archibald. "Will ya?"
Archibald seemed totally unaware of the man’s presence, and started to hum the old tune about the beaver again before blowing some tobacco smoke into the man’s face by accident and getting up off the bed. “Alas, I have it! The assailant fled to here whilst the lights we’re out, but picked the wrong bedroom to hide in as it had these two …ladies in it…so he shot them, as he was probably a bit jittery. I suppose the commotion downstairs was enough to muffle the gunshots, the stone walls of this manor can do that. That leaves the murderer still flocking around the manor, we are less likely to suspect someone that isn’t here, because we don’t know they exist…catch my drift? We need to separate into pairs, and search the mansion. I believe, to be safe, we should all be armed, so follow me to the armory…”, Archibald led the way out of the guestroom and down the hallway.
Baker waited for a few of the other guests to move before falling into line behind Archibald. He kept an eye on the man with the eyepatch, having dismissed Heir as a suspect. No president would risk their career to kill a single, insignifigant nobody. A rich nobody, but a nobody nonetheless. Sam's occasional look outside into the darkness suggested to him that she may have done the deed, and so he made sure to keep an eye on her, as well.
Baker seemed a bit too eager to get his hands on a gun, Sam thought. She followed the crowd, not too close.
The man with the eye patch sighed, as Archie had left him hanging, and followed the herd.
The armory was down the master staircase, it was a very large room indeed. It looked like a war museum, Archibald led the way. “Um..well this is the armory, this gallery is strictly historical pieces from Sir Queene’s collection, however I think you may find some ammunition some where. The next room adjacent to us is his medieval collection, and the other of course is his sporting “closet” where you’ll find some hunting rifles, I believe there is enough guns for at least …one of each group to be armed, however if there is a shortage of ammunition, please share your gun with someone else if you can work a crossbow or mace… I don’t believe Queene would have minded us raiding through his belongings, keeping in mind we are attempting to catch his murderer, however do be careful.” Some of the crowd started finding their weapons, Eduard saw one grab a medieval shield and another a large saber, it was like watching kids in a candy store actually. Archibald helped one old feeble lady arm herself with a sub-machine gun, which Eduard found mildly amusing to watch. The groundskeeper shouted out to the crowd, “in ten minutes meet back here with your armaments, I’ll separate you into your groups!”.
With this bunch of dimwits investigating, Sam thought, it was the easiest crime in the world to get away with. Why weren't they questioning anybody?
Why especially weren't they questioning her? She had no business being there, yet nobody seemed to notice her mysterious arrival at the very moment of the murder. After she had gone to all the trouble of making up a lie, she was mildly annoyed at not being able to use it.
And why weren't they questioning the annoying man? Not that he looked capable of operating a firearm....
She toyed with the idea of killing him just to complicate the mystery.
The man raised his hand, like a boy in school asking to go to the washroom. "Why are we all arming ourselves?" As he said this, he eyed up a Skorpion SA Vz 61 machine pistol sitting on one of the shelves.
With this bunch of dimwits investigating
Eduard walked over to an Animal trap and stuck his hand in it to see what would happen, luckily it wasn't working.
Eduard then decided on his weapon of choice, two long barrel revolvers that had been put on display in the hands of a wax cowboy mannequin, of course Eduard also stole the cowboy hat and holster belt to complete the ensemble.
Archibald looked over at the strange man when he heard the words, "Why are we all arming ourselves?", the Groundskeeper laughed creepily, "Why do the old raccoons lick me wounds when the ol' beaver comes e' calling, eh? It's like shooting something in a barrel, just eh hope it isn't a drum of oil". The cripple continued the conversation with a long anecdote about weaving baskets in an concentration camp.
"Answer me, or I will be most unpleasant with you." He had by then retrieved the machine pistol.
It might be an idea to check if any of these is the murder weapon, Sam thought, eyeing the pistols. But it wouldn't do to let anybody know she was smart enough to think of that.
Baker was suprised to see the large number of firearms. He had fully expected a few hunting rifles and maybe some decorative swords, but nothing like this. He walked over to the blades, selected a very deadly throwing knife, pocketed it, and turned to the guns. He always felt more comfortable with a handgun, as it was what he always carried, except for this occasion. He selected a model of pistol very similar to his own, but he was unsure of this exact version. Still, a gun was a gun. Baker pocketed some extra magazines, too, and turned back to the group. He mingled with them for a few moments, making his way towards Sam as he did. When he was close, he spoke in a tone low enough to only be heard by them.
"You never told me why you were here, Sam. Only once have I seen someone come to a dinner party dressed like that; they turned out to be an international terrorist, wanted in sixteen countries. And even they were on time."
The annoying man pulled back the bolt of his gun back and forth, making an irritating noise each time.
Sam glanced up at Baker casually. "I don't remember you asking."
"I'm on my way home to Fatatatutti. The plane was delayed here - mechanical problems - so I decided to look up some relatives. We Smiths are everywhere, you know. Then I got lost and the car quit on me. Something important is broken, I think."
She had heard something snap when she hit the pothole and she had felt the front wheels try to go in opposite directions. Then it was a bit of a blur until the car stopped upside-down in the ditch. It was probably under water by now.
She hoped he wouldn't ask too many questions about the walk up to the house.
Archibald grabbed hold of the peculiar man, and whispered into his ear, “Imagine a coin, on one side you’ve got a head, and the other is tails. If it lands on heads, you’ve got yourself a murderer hiding in the mansion somewhere with a revolver that’s running out of bullets, I count four out of six have been used, I know its an old revolver because the murderer isn’t leaving any bullet casings, and nobody can find a bullet casing in the dark on the ground. Now remember the coin could flip the other way, if it lands on tails, you’ve got yourself a room full of suspects, that makes one of these snobs the murderer, who is probably shitting his or her pants right now with us being armed. So you can bet in that situation, the murderer is going to screw up big time and make a mistake that will lead to their capture.” The groundskeeper let go of the man, “so stop looking at me, and grab that fucking gun over there that I know ye want to play with ye..”
Baker stared at her. The story seemed plausible, no reason to assume it was a lie. "But why did you choose this place to hike to? It's a fair distance from the road, and there were plenty of other places nearby that would have been in sight. There's something you're not telling me." He just wasn't sure what. It was entirely possible she had just picked a house and gone there, but her story seemed a little flat.
"I saw a light and I walked toward it. It was hard to see in the rain."
When you're lying, Sam reminded herself, it's not good to have too consistent a story. Let them think you're lying but satisfy them that it's a little white lie - like you're a married woman having an affair.
The groundskeeper looked around, it appeared as if everyone was ready, some we’re even chatting with one another. Archibald shouted out, “okay, ten minutes is up! Come back here, I’ll assign your groups, um…” the groundskeeper pointed at Baker and Sam, “you two! Start your search at the greenhouse, that’s down the corridor and to the left, then search the rest of this floor, there’s a ballroom, and a card room I think around there too.” Archibald took a deep breath and pointed at Eduard and a snobby looking princess, “you two, go up two floors and investigate the master bedroom and that level. It’s mostly closet space, so it would probably make a good place to hide”, the groundskeeper kept going he then gestured at the strange man and a fat walrus-like colonel that happened to be standing next to him, “okay, you men, you’re squadron III, there’s a kitchen and shit like that in the basement, you should search that, and don’t get lost down there, take a lot of candlelight with you.” The cripple pointed at the depressed clown and the elderly lady holding the machine gun, “you two, can follow squadron III down to the basement, there’s a dungeon area, and a wine cellar…enjoy”.
Archibald continued pairing off teams, and then saw that people we’re standing around waiting for further orders. He addressed them, “what are standing around for, GO!”
"If you say so." Baker knew when not to press the issue. The story still seemed strange, but he wasn't exactly sure why. He decided he'd find out later, and he turned back to the other guests. The ten minutes had just about passed, and he walked towards the strange man with the eye patch, determined to get an answer or two. He stopped just short of grabbing the man by the collar and forcing him into the next room for a little private talk. Instead he rethought his plan, and decided to see would happen next. Baker leaned against the wall, and observed.
“You two! Start your search at the greenhouse." Baker glanced at Sam, walked to meet up with her, and then started towards the greenhouse.
"I don't like guns," Sam said, showing her empty hands. "That's why I left the Army." She probably shouldn't have said that. "I liked the pants, though," she added to reinforce her cover.
She was happy enough to be paired with Baker. Obviously an intelligence officer of some sort, he was still alive, so either he was good at getting himself out of trouble or he was good at hiding from trouble. Probably the latter, given his dependence on guns.
Eduardo, El Presidente, fancied himself a ladies' man. In case of trouble, he'd probably be found hiding behind the ladies. She made a note to herself: don't turn your back on him. You never know what he might get up to back there.
The annoying man was either the idiot he pretended to be or his cover was very good. In any case, he would be hogging everybody's attention.
But Archibald was her prime suspect. There was something about him....
Eduard heard Archibald address the head butler, Andrew. “You, Andrew. Get the bodies, and put them in the meat cellar”, Andrew looked annoyed with Archibald’s orders “I’ll see if one of the servants is up for the task…” but the groundskeeper persisted “no, I asked you. Not one of your underlings…”. Eduard had to sympathize with the butler, carrying his dead employer…no, let me rephrase that….carrying his dead and “hideously obese” employer down a flight of a stairs to the cellar didn’t sound like fun at all. The butler left with a grunt. Archibald cocked his rifle, “alright, I’m going to be strolling around, if you get in trouble, shout, and I’ll be there”. Eduard nodded and left with his partner, Princess Wincisibi for the master staircase. Wincisibi was a dreadfully boring young woman, as with all princesses, she continually smiled at Heir as if she figured she could get a husband out of this, “eventful” night. That being said, no matter how much Eduard hated princesses, he had to admit, they all had fine bodies, wore fantastic dresses and …well, were all virgins...until they meant Eduard Heir. The Unibot president led the way up the stairs, wondering how much fun a master bedroom could be.
(OOC: I'll be waiting for you guys to post, my characters are sort of low key for this part. Eduard's banging a girl upstairs, the crazy old guy is just walking around looking for trouble, and the group of comedy relief is following Cuborg's lead to the basement. Have fun exploring the manor.)
"If this was a movie, nobody would be who they pretend to be," Sam mused. Somebody else could have picked up the shell-casing thingies. That's what they always do in the movies. It's always somebody else." She had told herself not to be too chatty but it wasn't working. She was getting into her character and that was what her character did.
"How come it's so hard to fold up a map?" she changed the subject.
Various potential lies went though her head. Still too young to play a milf, she decided, with this one anyway. He'd been around the block a time or two.
"The police expect people to lie to them, don't they? If your story is too perfect, they just get more suspicious. When you lie, you have to go right past the truth, not in the opposite direction."
"You just admitted to being a liar, Sam," Baker said calmly, with a friendly tone. "Which tells me that there was more to the story of you finding this place. But that's not really any of my business, for now." He thought for a second as they walked into the greenhouse. "Either way, I don't think you're the killer. Things wouldn't add up if you were. Looks like the rain has stopped. For now at least." He was looking straight up, now, as the steady tat-tat-tat-tat of the rain on the glass roof faded away. He looked around the greenhouse. There seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary.
"Things look fine in here. Should we move to the ballroom?"
"We're all liars," Sam said matter-of-factly. "Some of us are more convincing than others." She glanced around the greenhouse with little interest. "For what it's worth, I don't think I'm the killer either. That's something we can agree on, whether it's true or not."
She pushed some leaves aside with the back of her hand. "What are we looking for anyway? Do you really expect to find the killer lurking in a corner somewhere? It's obviously one of them."
"Obviously," Baker nodded. "But the old man wanted us to check the place out, and for now we should probably humor him. So... are we moving on?" He found himself looking at her once again, trying to figure out just who she was. Then, he turned away and walked out of the greenhouse.
"The old man wanted us out of the way." Sam could feel her persona slipping but she didn't think she was really fooling Baker anyway. "The question is... why?"
"Why did he split us all up? To give the killer a chance to get away? Why not keep us all together and question us one by one? So far, you're the only one who's asked me any questions."
"Who had motive? I didn't know the guy. You claim you didn't know the guy. Heir and Clueless didn't know the guy. The only one we know of who really hated the guy was Archie - the guy who split us all up."
"Who knows the grounds better than anybody? Who has the best chance of slipping away? I'd bet money that he's more agile on one leg than a lot of us are on two."
Sam felt that she had said enough. Baker was bright enough to put two and two together if he was pointed in the right direction. She slipped back into character, "If this was the movies, Archie would be the next one found dead. But then we wouldn't have a Miss Marple"
The odd man found himself in the wine cellar with some old woman. He had grabbed a magazine and slammed it into his gun long ago, which was the only reason he stopped fiddling with the bolt. "Don't you wonder why Archie was so quick to split the lot of us up?" he asked in a uncharacteristically serious tone.
Colonel Roarke Paldin was a fattening white haired man, aging around sixty, with a monocle, a safari rifle and his formal military attire on which included several badges of honor, but he still seemed to be a coward (I’m blaming it on the monocle). He had been assigned as partners with the mysterious man, who was carrying his gun in a magazine like a bloody fool. There was another group that was trailing behind them, a comedic old lady who was carrying a gun that would look big in Rambo’s hands and a clown who just looked more and more out of place as the night went on. Paldin’s partner addressed him for the first time of the night, "Don't you wonder why Archie was so quick to split the lot of us up?" Roarke shook his head, “I don’t question men of authority, Archibald seems like an intelligent fellow. He even tried to explain his madness to you, did he not?” As they walked along the old woman mumbled something about “Stanley Milligram’s Magical Megavolt Tour”.
The group finally found the corridor leading to the kitchen; this was where the strange group consisting of the "Grandma from Hell" and "Krusty" split up with the Colonel and his mysterious partner. The latter continued into the kitchen, a very unimpressive room, as Squadron IV continued searching the very vast wine cellars and the dungeons.
Baker was glad that he was able to get Sam to shed her persona, if only for a short time. "Fine then. Let's go find him."
The old woman walked the length of the wine cellar, back and forth. Her partner, the clown, was checking the dungeons. She walked back and forth, feeling just a bit nervous. She had a big gun in her hand if anything went wrong she reminded herself. She heard some commotion behind her, but she was dreadfully deaf, and in the process of turning around was shot in the back. . The old woman had fired a round in the air with the cadaveric spasm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadaveric_spasm) setting into her cold dead hands.
Archibald was walking down the master staircase when he heard the shots fired, he started to hop with his wooden leg down the stairs and got to the wine cellar in regrettably poor time for anyone who had more than Archibald’s share of legs. The groundskeeper looked around. He sighted the old woman dead on the ground, blood was pouring out of her back. The cripple then heard a shout out, and he hobbled to the noise which led him to the clown, who was lying on the ground by the doorway, he had been shot in the shoulder. The groundskeeper bent down to him, “don’t worry old chap, just a flesh wound.” Archibald took out his flask and poured his potent vodka onto the wound, which made the clown convulse with pain. “Good thing is that the bullet was so hot it seems to have cauterized the wound..that’s good eh.” Colonel Paldin had left the kitchen, just a little after he heard the shots; it took him a second for him to shake off the shell shock. The Colonel discovered the body of the old woman and shook his head, bloody waste he thought. He then saw Archibald helping the clown, “Oh my god, is he alright?” the Colonel asked. The groundskeeper replied for the clown, “he’s going to be fine…” The bleeding man shouted out to the colonel, “we we’re ambushed! The fucker was practically waiting at the doorway for us, I got the cellar door finally open and there he was, he shot me and then ran…how’s the old woman?” Archibald shook his head, “she must have been in his path to the doorway, I’m sorry.” The clown apparently had not gotten a good look at his attacker’s face as the dungeon was pitch black, however concluded that he was male.
"I bet they shot each other," Sam muttered.
She smiled innocently when Archibald looked at her. "Nothing in the greenhouse, ballroom, card room. Nothing at all in that part of the house," she reported. Not that they had looked all that hard. Since she and Baker agreed that they were looking for a phantom, they had used what sounded like gunshots as an excuse to get back to the group, closer to the action. The gathering crowd suggested that some of the others felt the same way.
"At least Miss Marple is still with us," she murmured to Baker, hoping Archibald wouldn't hear. "I guess I lose my bet."
Eduard Heir didn’t initially hear the gunshots, until he heard the round of a machine gun being wasted with the old woman’s cataleptic rigidity and Archibald’s dash down the staircase. Heir got up out of the master bed, the princess was knocked out cold, apparently a bottle of champagne, a stressful night and some intense and spontaneous sex was also she needed to get a good sleep. Eduard put on his pants, and threw his shirt over his shoulder not buttoning it up, (of course still wearing the cowboy hat, even in bed). Grabbing his holster belt and his pistols off the bed knob before making a mad dash out of the room, he found the master staircase and followed the pairs of people as they made their way to the wine cellar. He managed to sneak his way into the cellar through the crowd, and saw the corpse of the old woman for his own eyes; the colonel told him the story. Heir nodded as his listened to the short retelling of events, and figured that this was the last time he was going to doubt Archibald, the man had been right about the attacker hiding in the mansion, and was obviously not guilty as Heir had previous speculated….no cripple could run like the attacker that the clown had described, nor could the groundskeeper have caught up to the pairs leaving and managed to hide and wait in the dungeons.
Archibald decided it was time to move the clown, so he had two of the on-lookers carry him to the lounge that was down the hallway. As the crowd started to migrate that way, and the room emptied Eduard spotted something, a revolver lying on the ground beside a wine tank. Heir picked it up with his sleeve and checked its cartage, six spent bullets. He started to hurry a little quicker, trying to find Archibald, but he only saw Sam. He figured she might care, she was taking an avid interest into the murders, and so he showed her the gun, “I found it on the floor, its just like Archibald said, an old revolver…two shots we’re needed to create the ambush, and two shots was all the killer had left!”
Eduard then realized maybe he should button his shirt, though if he got the impression she was turned on by it, he would definitely go bare chested more often around her, he had to admit he found her attractive in a domesticated kind of way.
"Get me to the goddamn infirmary!" The man shouted out, hands shaking, and clutching his gun.
"I saw a TV show once," Sam began, "Where these science guys..."
"Forensics," Baker prompted.
"Yeah.... They could tell by the bullet wounds what kind of gun was used." Sam looked down at the old woman's body and then edged over to look at the clown's wound. "I'm no expert, but those wounds don't look to me like they were made with the same gun. And they don't look like the wounds on that Queenie guy either."
She turned to look at Archibald with no pretense of playing a part. "I think it's pretty clear that these two shot each other, in the dark and in a panic. I think we should put all the guns away before somebody else gets hurt."
"BULLSHIT!" The strange man yelled at the group. "That old bitch didn't shoot me and I didn't shoot her! The killer is hunting us down!"
Sam wondered about Eduard and the revolver. Either he was in on it with Archibald or - more likely - Archibald had planted it.
Eduard looked over at the annoying man, “a man’s just be shot in the shoulder, and you’re complaining about fucking shell shock!? You’re unbelievable… besides there is no infirmary in the villa as far as I know, and the ambulance isn’t coming till tomorrow. Also, do you have health insurance? H&I Response Crews won’t help you unless you’re signed up with them…just warning you..”
(OOC: Cuborg, you weren't shot. The Clown was. Maybe if you said your character's name, we wouldn't get all confused.)
Eduard just kept nodding to what Sam had to say, he loved how she said the words "science guys", it made him want to get back into a time machine, and whip his sixteen year old self into shape... consequently stopping him from verbally abusing teachers and forcing himself into becoming a chemistry wiz...ah, pleasant dreams...then he would hold her in his arms as a science geek...ah, yes. Heir slapped himself, he was staring, and drooling.
OOC: Oh, I thought I was the clown. Oops. Nevermind.
The annoying man looked at the wounded man, and the dead woman. He spoke again, this time with a fake Cockney accent. "What we need to do is to block off all the doors, yeah? And then sweep the house, yeah?" The man was trying to make a serious point.
Since she hadn't played up her hausfrau cover much with anybody but Baker - and since he didn't seem to be buying it anyway - Sam dropped back into Sam-mode. "Even IF there is a spooky "killer" out there somewhere, the safest thing for us to do is stay together. As long as we're all in one brightly-lit place, at least we can tell who isn't the killer."
Eduard walked, very close to Sam. “You sure you want to be with these people…I know a good bedroom upstairs?” He asked desperately....
The crowd seemed to be following the need for “security in numbers” and every one crowded into the lounge, and the ballroom that was connected to it. The clown had been laid across the couch; Archibald was nursing him with some bandages he had found in the kitchen. Eduard’s attention was now focused solely on Sam; he sat down at the grand piano, attempting to impress her with his skills, singing a pop song (Hey Jude, Unibot style) to the on-lookers actually very well.
"I'm going for a cigarette," the odd man said, nonchalantly. He walked out of the room.
Apparently there wasn't a doctor in the house, Sam decided, since none had stepped forward to attend to the clown. Who else might know about bullet wounds?
She sidled over to Colonel Blimp, who was polishing his monocle. "Excuse me, Colonel," she said softly. "You're a soldier. You've seen some action. Would you take a look at all the bullet wounds for me, please? Queene, the two models and the old lady. And the clown. Tell me if you think they were made by the same weapon."
The Colonel looked up at her with his forehead wrinkled.
"We have four dead and one wounded - and Archibald seems to be trying very hard to convince everybody that all the shots came from one revolver. I'd just like your expert opinion."
She moved away casually. She didn't want anybody to make too much of her association with the Colonel.
Baker found Eduard's over-the-top attempts to impress Sam to be quite hillarious. Even better was the fact that she didn't appear to be effected in the slightest. Baker moved over to the clown, and sat on the table next to him. "Quite a mess you've gotten yourself into," he began casually. "Mind if I see your arm." The clown seemed very reluctant to let a man he didn't know go looking at a bullet wound, so Baker grabbed the man's elbow and pulled him close, pulling the bandages back as he did so.
After some quick observation, Baker put the bandages back on him and let him go. He stood up and walked over the Sam. He wasn't sure why, but she seemed to be the only one he could trust. The cripple was too strange, Eduard didn't have his priorities straight, and no one could trust the man with the eyepatch. He reached Sam and said simply: "There are some bullets in some walls somewhere. The clown over there," he glanced at the wounded man, "is missing the bullet. It went through him, no doubt about it. If we can find the bullets, we can confirm that they came from the same weapon. Or that they didn't."
"Ridiculous," Les said. "The murderer planned this event. He--or she--went through all the trouble of dimming the lights to obscure his--or her--identity, and did the deed in the middle of a large croud. Such a person would have to have complete confidence in his--or her--ability to blend in. Fleeing would be out of the question. No, the girls were killed for other reasons. Who were they? Were they somehow related to the first victim?"
Outside of the lounge, the odd man passed by the old butler, Andrew. The butler was walking around the place, as if he was dreadfully lost. Archibald saw him through the doorway and called him on it… “Can’t find the meat cellar?” asked the groundskeeper.
The head butler blushed with embarrassment, and the crowd started to quiet down, Eduard quit playing piano. The butler coughed, “no, I was just inspecting the meat cellar and I found it was too small to fit all of these bodies”. Archibald smiled mischievously, and the head butler started to turn pale white as if he had been caught in the act for something. “I told you to put the bodies in the meat cellar…but there is no meat cellar in the manor, there never was one. Surely as head butler you would know that?” Archibald smiled. The head butler shook his head, “you win Archie”, the butler addressed the crowd, “I’m not Andrew the head butler, but in fact, Sir Joseph Queene the IV.”
Eduard gasped, he wasn’t so impressed with Archibald’s “talent at deduction”, “wait at a second…Archibald, Queene has been your employer for “like” forty years and you didn’t recognize the corpse (which didn’t look anything like Queene) wasn’t him, and just “happened” to not recognize the head butler as Queene?” The groundskeeper laughed, “fair enough, let me and Queene explain. You first …Joseph.” Queene cleared his throat, “three weeks ago I had got an angry letter, it basically stated I was going to be murdered at my birthday. I was infuriated, I wasn’t going to let some lunatic ruin the festivities, so I planned a little trap for him to fall into. I gave the head butler the night off, and told my staff to call me Andrew for the night, and told them this was all going to be some fun trick I was playing on the guests, being the butler and all… I hired an actor from the Unibot Shakespearean Theatre to play myself; didn’t anyone recognize that the man you all claimed to know was King Lear? That’s the hilarious part is that I sent out the invitations to you all, and I’ve never meant any of you before, didn’t anyone question that? What… did you think you we’re all invited here because you we’re “important”!?” Queene laughed very hard on that last line.
Eduard looked around at some of the stunned faces of the crowd, some of the war lords just looking fucking hilarious now considering they spent most of the evening talking about their old “war stories with my “friend” Queene”. Joseph continued talking, “I was startled to see that the murderer did in fact kill “me” tonight, mildly relived that my own ingenious plan had gone off without a hitch…I even got you Archibald, the local loony to keep everyone busy with your antics while I observed the guests from a distance and tried to catch “my” murderer”. Eduard was confused, he asked Archibald, “so what’s your story Archibald?” the groundskeeper laughed, “when Queene came to see me tonight with you men, I thought that this was apart of the joke he was playing on the guests, I went along with it, playing the part of Sherlock Holmes, till I came across the dead body of Queene’s double. I then knew this wasn’t some game, someone was trying to kill Queene, and I had to catch them, I figured if I continued with Joseph’s masquerade I could lead the murderer to think he really did kill him, and maybe keep us a little safer. But then there were more murders, and now I started to question this little game that Queene was playing with the assailant, but I couldn’t just tell you people… you wouldn’t of believed me, I had to show you.” Someone in the crowd asked why Queene just hadn’t of called the police, he replied “I did, the Unibot police we’re absolutely no use, my insurance apparently didn’t cover death threats, so then I called the authorities in Aglorea, among other places, they said they would plant agents at the party, but I think they we’re lieing, it was just a placebo for me”.
Eduard’s mouth dropped with confusion, when the lights went off again. A gunshot was fired, and Joseph Queene was rendered dead…for the second time tonight. Heir screamed “everyone get to the ground”, and he leaped onto the floor, expecting more gunshots. But heard none.
The odd man came stumbling into the room, hitting walls and door frames, before tripping over a person on the ground. His cigarette fell from his mouth, and he crashed to the floor. His hands were empty.
"Must be one of those magic movie revolvers," Sam muttered to nobody in particular. "How many shots is that now, Archie? Eight?"
Eduard heard the conversation in the dark, and offered his two cents worth "The armoury is just down the corridor...", Heir was wondering why Sam was so harsh on Archibald, considering they had the revolver in our possession, it made little sense that the murderer would steal that particular gun and use it, especially when the house was crawling with weapons...
Baker was down on one knee with his gun at the ready as the lights came back on. He looked around carefully and again cursed himself for not doing his job. He was supposed to observe Queene, not get him killed. This is twice that he had messed up, something he wasn't used to. Very strange feeling indeed.
The odd man stood up slowly. His shaking hands in his jacket pockets, he walked over to Queene. Dead and cold. Again.
Sam made her way over to Baker without being too obvious about it. "So we have Archibald admitting to one count of conspiracy. We have Archibald as the only one left who knows his way around the house, the only one who knows where the light switches are, the only one with a clear motive to kill Queene. And we have Archibald coming up with one hare-brained story after another to divert attention from those facts. I suggest you shoot him - 'accidentally'." She didn't even care if he took that last part seriously.
Baker considered that last part, his aim slipping over to Archibald. He thought for a split second, then stood up and put the gun away. He turned to Sam and muttered, "come on. Time to get answers." Baker walked towards the cripple and grabbed his shoulder. "Come with me, would you, Archie?" He pulled the man out of the room and around the corner before barking: "What's really going on here? I want answers!"
Archibald heard the conversation between Sam and Baker…he wasn’t concerned with how suspicious he looked, but a single phase in their conversation gave him a “eureka” moment. “the only one who knows where the light switches are…”
Archibald looked at his watch, and if confirmed his suspicious. He shouted out to the crowd. “It is now midnight, not 12:01 or 12:03; it is now twelve on the dot. When Queene’s double was killed earlier this night, it was 8:00, on the dot. I don’t know if any of you realize what this means, so let me explain. There is only one master breaker in the entire mansion, and it is on the second level. Therefore no one could have switched off the power, found Queene in the dark after walking two flights of stairs into here or the dining room and shot him, in time…the murderer has an accomplice. Now, I’ll assume it is very difficult to conduct a plan in synchronization when there is two storeys of solid stone and mortar separating you from your partner, that’s why the murders are scheduled for exact times, when it hits 12 o’ clock, the one partner turns the lights off, the other partner shoots the man in the dark. So, we have one killer amongst us and the other hiding in the house somewhere. Shall we continue with the search of the manor?”
A cowardly member of some god awful monarchy no doubt shouted out from the crowd, “I’m not going around this bloody mansion, what if my partner is the murderer!” Archibald laughed, “don’t be so naïve, put yourself into the shoes of the killer, you’re not going to risk killing another soul, if someone dies, we’d automatically assume it was their partner that did it. Now we’ve already stumbled across the murderer’s accomplice in hiding once, let’s see if we can do it again, and make it count. Whoever wishes to stay can stay in the lounge and look after the clown. Whoever wishes to end this mess, shall continue searching the grounds.”
Sam rolled her eyes. "Why the hell would the accomplice be hiding? What's this obsession with having everybody separated?"
Eduard walked over to Sam, "My partner's still upstairs, we don't have to search for anything, I just want to um...have "back-up" while I go up there and warn her. I just don't feel like being alone...ye know?"
Sam wasn't about to waste time fending off Eduard's advances. "Take Baker," she said. "He has a gun. I'm not taking my eyes off Archie." She looked Eduard in the eye. "Get back here as quick as you can."
Eduard was just about to say "I was asking you.." when he decided not to. Jesus she was hard to get a hit with, he thought. He hadn't been this rapped up with a girl since that night in Stash Kroh, sure she had been a triple agent who had been sent to assassinate him, but it had been a wild night. Eduard gloomily walked over to Baker and asked him if he want to back him up.
Baker looked at Sam with an annoyed look. "Thanks for volunteering me. Let's get this over with, Eduard." He walked off, dragging Heir along with him.
Eduard was as pissed as Baker looked about doing this; he led the way to the master bedroom and opened the door to find the Princess the same as he had left her. Heir picked her up out of bed, carrying her over his shoulder; Eduard explained “she’s just a tad…well, drunk”. Then Heir got an idea, a flash of brilliance. “Hey, when I was trying to find the staircase in the dark earlier I accidentally stumbled across this really odd room, it looked like it was a meeting place for a cult or a secret society or something. It’s just down the hallway; I kind of forgot about, do you wanna take a look?”
Sam was becoming impatient. She went over to Archibald with no pretense at all. "Let's get something straight," she said, looking him in the eye with a piercing stare. "I don't know what you're up to but I do know you're not the doddering old fool you pretend to be. And I know you're not the cripple you pretend to be. I saw you out on the golf course just before the party and you were moving pretty good then. I could hardly keep up with you and I'm half your age. If you're going to investigate these murders, I suggest you start doing it now. Get everybody back here and start questioning them. Otherwise, I'm going to assume I'm right and you are the killer... and I'm going to sit on you to make sure nobody else dies."
Baker doubted that Heir actually had seen a meeting room. After all, if it was dark, he wouldn't have been able to see it. But he thought it may be better to humor the president than it would to ignore him. Who knows, he might actually be telling the truth. "Sure, let's go."
Archibald walked over to her, pulling out his rifle. "How the bloody fuck do I know you're not the murderer, you come to the party uninvited for starters, Queene established for us already that he picked the guests to basically play a role as extras in a well rehearsed play, the one who wasn't invited would be the one who sent him the death threat, would she not be? Now I've already concluded that the murderer would need an accomplice, everyone here seems pretty scared of each other, except you and your chummy friend, Baker.
So don't question me, you say I'm not a fucking cripple, yet I'm still missing a bloody leg...if you want to question the guests, go question them "Ms. Marple". I'm trying to figure out the logistics of the murder, that will lead me to the people responsible, the other way around is for bloody fools, t.v cops and bad guys who can't form sentences coherent enough to lie."
Sam pushed the muzzle of the rifle aside with a fingertip. "You took your time suspecting me, didn't you? I've been the mysterious stranger all along, yet you ignored me until now and sent everybody off in all directions, some of them to their deaths. You've claimed all along that the mysterious accomplice was 'hiding' somewhere in the house, yet I've always been right out in the open. I've always been with somebody."
"Try to get your story straight, at least."
The stairwell was narrow and bendy, and not well lit. This made for a bad combination, as Eduard tried to negotiate the stairs with the princess slung over his shoulder; he had wished he had been smart enough to leave her at the top of the stairwell. Finally they reached the door which was brightly illuminated with candlelight; Eduard pointed out the symbols to Baker on the door and then decided to open it. Inside the room, it was the same as he had left it, except at the centre of the room was five corpses, freshly decapitated. Heir nearly threw up at the sight, he noticed a bloody sabre (no doubt from the armory) on the ground, and a small bottle of liquid that was labeled “Curare (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curare)”. Eduard recognized the heads lying on the grounds, “jesus, he’s killed the servants”.
Sam wondered what had become of Colonel What's-his-name. Dead in a corner somewhere? And Baker? He could take care of himself, she thought, a bit past his prime maybe but a straight guy all around.
If either or both of them was still alive, she was determined that Archibald, at least, wouldn't get to them.
"This is getting pretty wacky," the strange man said, "everybody's waving shooters at each other. I'm going back down to the armory for a little protection."
Colonel Paldin had become very bored of the lounge, he was strolling around the ballroom finding absolutely nothing to do but listen to the background music (a cheerful symphony that seemed dreadfully out of place) and watch Sam and Archibald bicker about something like children, it was obvious that neither of them had anything to do with the actual murders. Paldin walked over to his partner, the odd man (Cuborg) who was standing near the armoury, "do you wanna go explore a bit? Partner?"
Meanwhile, Eduard was observing the scene of the multiple homicide. That was when he saw the message, one of the servants had managed to write something on the ground in his own blood...Heir couldn't believe it, the words read, "Her Name Is Smith". Eduard shook his head, that could mean anything, there could be a thousand women with the last name Smith, NO..it couldn't be, Eduard thought. Heir addressed Baker about it, and then spoke again, "we need to tell the others".
"I'm going to the armory. It can be a date," the odd man said nonchalantly. I hope nobody notices my Skorpion's missing.
The colonel walked with the strange man to the armory, he was happy to have gotten out of that boring hellhole. Roarke examined the war collection with extreme interest, noticing someone had taking the sabre from the wax hand of a samurai warrior figure, which made it look quite silly. After observing several pieces, Colonel Paldin grabbed an air rifle which reminded him of Colonel Moran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastian_Moran) in the “The Final Problem”.
Damn, no more Skorpions... the odd man thought as he settled for an ancient Chinese dagger, and a Colt 1911. He glanced at his watch. Damn, it was getting late. "So, Colonel Saunders, which army did you serve in?"
Colonel Paldin blabbed, "the Unibot Army of course, back when General J. Ripper was the Supreme Allied Commander for the Dharma Alliance, if you ask me his replacement, Casey...he's total dingbat. Ripper brought Dharma back to glory when we triumphed over the Cuborgian forces. Where are you from?"
Sam sat on a couch with her feet up on the coffee table. Where's Baker and Heir? she wondered. And is that fat Colonel What's-his-name looking at the bullet wounds like I asked him? She clasped her hands behind her head while keeping a close watch on Archibald.
Colonel Paldin had to admit, he knew nothing about the science of autopsying, the poor girl Sam must of assumed everyone in the military knew EVERYTHING about gun wounds. He had been glad to get away from her.
Sam kept watching Archibald with one eye and the exits with the other. Colonel What's-his-name was taking his sweet time. It's wasn't like she asked him to do a friggin' autopsy. All she wanted was a second opinion on the bullet wounds. Any fool could tell a big one from a little one.
The last she'd seen of the Colonel, he was wandering off in the direction of the gun room with the annoying man. With any luck, they'd shoot each other and thin out the suspect pool.
Colonel Paldin stared at the mysterious man, he smelled a Cubie (a native of Cuborg), and he didn't like cubies. Paldin pulled the bolt back on his rifle, if he felt more trouble coming he'd pop something into the man's legs, or his hands or something. The Colonel was remembering his fallen comrades of the second Dharma war, and the cubie bastards that had shot them.
(OOC sorry I'm kind of stalling with Eduard till Aglorea can reply about the mass killing in the mystery room and the incriminating message. )
The annoying man was good at deducing people's feelings towards him. Most people felt extreme irritation. But this Colonel, something else. When he heard the bolt slide back, he knew it wasn't going to be a good thing. His grip tightened on his dagger.
Is there any reason to believe any of Archie's story at all? Sam wondered. Actor posing as Queene, Queene posing as butler? Not that it mattered much, since both were dead, but the more plausible scenario was the Occam's-Razor-friendly one: Archie had killed Queene for the obvious reasons, then killed the butler because he knew too much. Was the butler an accomplice or did he find out accidentally? That didn't matter much either.
The idiot clown and the poor old lady had shot each other in the panic that Archie had set up. He probably hoped that some of the others would shoot each other too and he could blame the mysterious 'hiding' stranger.
The two dead models were still a bit of a puzzle, though. Hired by Archie to distract the aging playboy Eduardo, maybe? Also knew too much, maybe? Who knew what other loose ends Archie had taken care of? Haven't seen anything of the servants lately.
And the attempt to throw suspicion on me is made even sillier by ignoring me AGAIN.
The annoying man went back up stairs, wielding his pistol. "This is way later than my bedtime. Let's just run gunshot residue tests on everybody and get the hell out of here."
The Colonel saw the dagger, he slowly grabbed a grenade off the table with his hand behind his back. As he felt the grenade in his hand, he did a roll on the ground and ducked behind a wax figurine. Biting the plug off the grenade before throwing it in the air at the mysterious man.
The man spun around, alarmed, and kicked the grenade back down the stairs. He sprinted up the stairs, and made it to the top before the 'nade exploded. The man whipped out his 1911 and shouted for the others. "The Colonel! IT'S THE COLONEL!" He trained his pistol down the stairs.
The Colonel made his way up to the stairs firing bullet after bullet from his air rifle at the mysterious man. "Take that! you Cubie!"
Sam glanced out the window again, hoping for some sign of daybreak. First light and I'm out of this looney bin, she said to herself, even if I have to walk on water all the way back to Fatatatutti.
She yawned. It's late, no sleep and not enough coffee. Maybe not the best time to be making that kind of decision.
She got up and followed the crowd toward the sound of gunfire. It wasn't the best time to be AWOL either.
Archibald heard the gunfire, the small explosion, the shouting..."what the hell is going on!?" the groundskeeper hobbled out of the lounge, spotting the colonel on the staircase, Archibald fired a bullet into the colonel's hands, Paldin dropped his gun and shouted in agony, tripping and falling down the stairs. The groundskeeper shouted at Rorke, "cool it, colonel, I know everyone is getting all tense right now, but we don't need people acting out like fucking lunatics...we have a murderer to catch!"
The colonel squirmed around on the floor, cursing, as his hands bled severely.
The annoying man put his foot on the Colonel's chest, aiming his handgun at his head. "He threw a grenade at me. He's trying to bump us all off. He's the killer."
"Not that any of you will care," Sam said from the top of the stairs, "But the hole in the Colonel seems to be a pretty good match for the hole in Mr. Queene."
The man took his foot off the Colonel. "Somebody take care of his hand before he bleeds out." He turned to Archie. "Give us your gun."
Archibald laughed at the stupidity of the guests, "I shot the Colonel from ten yards away, I was only standing away from Queene by about four feet. If the hole is the same on both wounds, obviously I'm not responsible. Think about it. Now let's fetch some bandages for this man.."
"Four feet away?" Sam smiled. "You weren't even in the house when the first Queene was shot. The men had to go down to the gate house to get you."
"I think Queene was shot from outside. The first Queene, that is, not the butler that you claimed was the real Queene. When I got here, just before the first murder, the side door was open. I thought that was a little strange, given the bad weather. Somebody must have left it open - I'm guessing the butler - so you could shoot Queene from outside. You drew a bead on him and the lights going out was your cue to fire."
"Then you armed everybody so you'd have an excuse to go around armed yourself. You had some accomplices to get rid of."
Archibald smiled, Sam had made a vital mistake in her wording. He first pointed to the oil painting on the wall, which was the image of a young Andrew the butler with his arm around Margaret Queene. "How loony do you think I am now? How many people keep forty year old oil paintings of their butlers snobbing with their long dead wifes?" Archie laughed, "when you said the bullet matched Queene I assumed you were talking about the REAL Queene, I had no idea you attended to explain to us all your ingenious plot of how I miraculously shot the actor that I knew wasn't Queene from outside in a thunderstorm, while "King Lear" was eating casserole in a windowless dining room!?"
Archie aimed his gun at the floor but had no intention of dropping it, "Why should I give you my gun, you ungrateful snobs, I have a killer to catch, there is thirty of you, and one of me. Personally I'm suspicious of all of you, when the only man that wasn't in the room when the actor was shot is the man you claim is the murderer, its a sad day amongst a group of idiots. How do I know the old-eyed man who left the room before Queene was shot, and came back without a gun, isn't the accomplice for the killer? How do I know Eduard and Baker are innocent, those two idiots that went globetrodding over an hour ago and haven't returned? How do I know this racist pig on the floor with his hands bleeding didn't kill Queene out of some misguided heroism for his war buddies, remember Joseph was a war profiteer... "
"You said yourself that the 'actor' was a double for Queene. The painting that's an 'image' of the butler is also an image of Queene. Why did the two of them look so much alike? Who knows? Maybe Queene's father had an affair with a serving-maid and gave her illegitimate son a job."
"You shot the real Queene through the open door, as I said. Don't even bother trying to keep up that phony 'actor' story. Then you went back down to the gatehouse."
"Nobody was surprised to see your hair and clothes wet when they came down to get you. After all, it was part of your job to make sure everything was squared away for the storm. But you didn't count on me seeing you outside that very open door. Scouting a location for your ambush, I suppose?"
"Then you 'found' the revolver that the mysterious stranger was supposedly using - but nobody has been able to find him, even though we've searched the whole house. You found his revolver but not him. Interesting."
"That was the revolver you used to kill the butler. It's a thirty-eight, if I'm not mistaken. Unfortunately, when I saw Queen's body - the first Queene - I assumed he had been shot from inside the room and therefore with a pistol. It didn't even occur to me that he was shot with an even smaller-caliber long arm."
"But what aroused my suspicions was the wounds in the clown and the old lady - obviously forty-fives - and yet you insisted that they were all killed by the same person. You didn't want the guns to be put away - for everybody's safety - because you needed yours to finish off the rest of your victims."
"Now, the two models - I didn't get a chance to examine their wounds carefully. There seems to be some confusion over where the bodies are stored."
Archibald was shaking his head, she was a dumb fuck, and the crowd was starting to realize it. Probably too dumb to have masterminded this.
"Let's clarify somethings, the actor that Queene hired looked nothing like him, he was just an actor he liked I'm assuming. The "phony actor" story is most likely the reason that Queene was murdered, how'll about you go ask some of the maids? Or the servants? They'll know just as much as me, the butler was Queene not the actor. My hair and clothes we're not wet when the men got me, you wouldn't know, you we're not there. The dining room has no windows, and how is one suppose to get a clear shot of someone through a door? In the dark? Outside in a thunderstorm!? Also, never did I insist that the squadron was ambushed by the same murderer, it was I who devised the notion of there being an accomplice hiding in the building, turning off the lights when need be..."
Archibald paused, "but on the note of the bodies. I do believe we should move them to the freezers in the kitchen, there is nothing worse then the putrid smell of a decomposing corpse. If you don't believe me, try breathing in three hours without throwing up from the smell..."
"The room that Queene was in was brightly lit. You had no problem seeing him from outside, through the open door. I saw him myself before I came in."
"None of us even knew Queene. You're the only one with a motive to kill him. You're the only one who wasn't in the room when he was killed."
"You haven't even proposed an alternative theory."
OOC: Sorry about not posting for a while. I had some things to do last night.
Baker was more than a little troubled by the writing in blood on the floor. Eduard had seemed even more troubled, and it was Baker that decided they should go back and tell the others. He led the way back down to the lounge, and walked in at just the right time, it seemed. "You all look like you're about to kill each other," he spoke up as he and Heir walked in. "Everyone seemed so happy when we left. Anyway, there are some dead servants upstairs. And some strange writing in blood, too."
Archibald smiled, "dear, if I knew more about the mysterious one-eyed man, I might be able to supply us with a better alternative theory. But for starters, the Queene family of royalty was the last in the line of Unibotian nobility, if the monarchy was to rise again it would have taken place under the leadership of Joseph Queene, I'd imagine Eduard Heir would have assassins no doubt to take care of those insurgences. However, I ALSO wouldn't doubt from the crowd of bizarre guests tonight that we have a hitman amongst us. Possibly, Eduard is here to oversee the assassination, but in a drunken stupor he slipped his plans to the supermodels he was "having fun with" and had to have them killed as well, or possibly a hitman came to tell him the job had been done and hadn't expected the president to be in a room with guests?"
The groundskeeper looked up the staircase and saw Baker and Heir, "Anyway, there are some dead servants upstairs. And some strange writing in blood, too.", Archibald gasped, "bloody hell, who are we dealing with, Jack the Ripper? Show me the way!"
Baker nodded, spun around, and led the way back up the stairs to the room. By this time the rest of the remaining guests had fallen in line behind him, as they were all naturally curious, and were likely all prepared for more bullet wounds. Not the case at all, as it became clear when Baker opened the door.
Eduard ducked to let one brandy-filled king throw up on the floor beside him.
"Show them the message!"
Baker pointed to the spot on the floor where the message was, on the other side of a large table and currently out of view. For all he knew, the message could be gone by now. With the way the night had gone, he'd be suprised if it wasn't.
Archibald seemed very interested in the cellar itself, almost unaware of the slaughtered servants on the floor, “I’ve never been in this room before, odd. I thought I had seen every nook and cranny of this godforsaken manor? Apparently I was wrong, there IS a meat cellar in the manor, we’ll that makes much more sense…it’s just, according to the servants, the manor had used one in the grounds…strange that they would lie!?” The groundskeeper used his sleeve to pick up the bottle of poison, “hhm…it must have been stolen from the armory, this vial is used for tipping those poison darts in the medieval gallery, if consumed the poison will put your body in a full-binding paralysis”, he looked over at the blade on the ground “also stolen from the armory…I think I’ve made a terrible mistake, we need to return the weapons to the gallery and lock the doors, AT ONCE!” Baker pointed to the bloody message and Archibald laughed, “it proves nothing Baker, for all I know…YOU could have written that message…and considering the servant who’s fingers are outstretched toward it, did not know how to read or write…I have a sneaking suspicion that this message was written by the murderer to mislead us”.
Archibald gestured his hand, “Would you please, follow me in the gallery?”
"It would have been quite a trick," Sam muttered, "Writing my name in blood after he was paralyzed and decapitated."
She turned to Archibald. "By all means, let's lock up the weapons like I've been suggesting all along."
Heir Industries Headquarters
Pierre Laporte, was Eduard Heir’s new personal assistant, a replacement for Louie Sautés who had been killed by Heir just a few weeks earlier. Heir had been granted full amnesty for the homicide, apparently Sautés had hired a cuborgian contract killer to attack Eduard and he had naturally retaliated. However, Laporte had still been warned by his co-workers, becoming the assistant to a government monopolist was not a wise choice of occupation in Eduard Heir’s case, the gun wielding, addicted, womanizing radical cowboy of the modernized world. Pierre quickly found out Eduard was EXACTLY how the tabloids covered him, “the James Bond of politics”, and as his personal assistant his job was basically to do P.R work, fend off blackmailing hookers and on occasion drive to the local pharmacy and pick up bulk supplies of condoms and aspirin in “emergencies”.
Heir had become pissed off with his bodyguards; who he claimed stopped him from having fun. So Pierre obliged for the night and gave Tony and Danny the night off, which turned out to be a big mistake. It was already making headlines in Unibot, Joseph Queene had been murdered, and the current weather was delaying the emergency response teams from reaching the manor. It was very likely the murderer was still in the house, reporters and analysts had concluded. Laporte shook his head; this was the shit that killed careers. The media was just finding out that another death may have taken place; Pierre hoped for the sake of his career that it wasn’t Eduard.
Over an hour later he received a text message from Heir, it read “there is an air strip on the grounds, get a plane here NOW”.
It had taken Pierre over an hour to find a pilot that was willing and capable of flying Eduard’s private mid-sized business class jet through the worst storm that had hit Unibot in a long time. But he found one.
As she casually followed the crowd, ostensibly toward the gun room, Sam mulled over the recent developments. Who had lured the servants to the secret room? Somebody they knew, of course. The prime suspect was still Archibald.
The servants had been in the kitchen when she went to get her first cup of coffee but not when she went for the second. Exactly when had Archibald come up to the house? Was it possible that she was his alibi?
But his whole cockamamie theory had no evidence to back it up. It was all just his own word.
And what about Eduardo? What was he doing, going off by himself all the time? He acted just like a big-shot, which he was, going off to answer 'important' phone calls - to make himself feel important, no doubt. But the land lines were down. Was there cell reception here, in the middle of nowhere? If anybody had the technology, he would.
Baker moved to the armory like the others, gave up control of his pistol (but keeping the hidden knife with him), and helped to lock up the room.
Meanwhile at the Manor….
“By all means, let's lock up the weapons like I've been suggesting all along.” Archibald nodded and led the way up the spiral staircase, walking down the corridor till he saw the breaker. He stopped and looked at it, “Jesus, I didn’t think of that, that’s bloody brilliant”. Eduard was confused, “What are you talking about!?” Archibald pointed at the electricity breaker box, which had a Christmas tree light timer attached to it. “Remember I said the murderer needed an accomplice to turn off the lights? Because the only breaker was on the second floor? The bloody thing has been automated with a Christmas tree timer!”
The group continued downstairs, passing the guestroom full of dead supermodels and watching their steps on the master staircase where Colonel Paldin’s grenade had gone off. Archibald laughed at the guests, “you do make bloody terrible houseguests, I’ve never seen a party treat a house any worse…”
The armory was a place of silent reflection. Men and women dropped their guns and knifes into their respective places, very quietly and sombrely. Archibald handed Baker the key to lock the door.
Sam had thought of a timer but she didn't know where the electrical box was, so she couldn't check it out. Of course, a timer pointed away from an accomplice. She hadn't been able to get a good look at the timer without being too obvious about it - but she wondered if it might be set to go off again.
Eduard walked back into the lounge and saw his cellphone on the coffee table, which was funny because he didn’t remember leaving it there. That was when the phone rang…Eduard picked up the phone and answered it, “Hello?” He heard an engine in the background, and water rushing… “Hello Eddy! This is Pierre, your assistant, listen… I got you your plane that you called for, but...eh…we crashed. The plane over-shot the air strip, you didn’t tell us it was a GRASS air strip, it was partly flooded over, and um…we’ve landed in a moat of some kind. Please hurry... the plane can float, but a window is broken and it’s filling the cabin up with water…” The phone call ended. Eduard frowned, he didn’t remember calling for a plane. However that didn’t matter, he turned around and ran to Archibald who was lounging in the ballroom, “someone’s in danger, they’re drowning in the moat!”
Baker was walking past the ballroom when Heir ran by. “Someone’s in danger, they’re drowning in the moat!” Eduard had his interest, and Baker moved to investigate.
"What are you talking about? Who is it?"
Eduard turned his head over to Baker, and tried to explain. "My assistant, he had my private jet try and pick me up, but they over-shot the landing strip here on the grounds, it had flooded over with the rain...they've landed in the moat, and they're drowning."
Archibald nodded, "I'll take you to the air strip, but you'd better take some friends, and a lot of dry gear...cause it's going to be wet out their on the moorland..."
Bet they mistook a fairway for a runway, Sam mused.
In Fatatatutti, a nation of almost six billion, sometimes it seemed like she was the only one who could swim. She would probably wind up being the one to fish the newcomers out. She didn't look forward to the smell of moat again.
"How did they know to come pick you up?" Baker asked harshly. "How would they know about a landing strip? And why the hell don't they just swim to land?"
Archibald laughed, and decided to answer for Eduard, "It's common knowledge that the estate has a landing strip, the first plane to have ever landed in Unibot, landed on that air strip. As for the air plane, I'm assuming the lock mechanism doesn't open if its submerged underwater, too much pressure. NOW, who's going to come help with the rescue? And who is going to stay here and look after the clown, the handless colonel and "her" plastered royal highness?"
Baker was not interested in babysitting, so he spoke up quickly. "I'm in. Lead the way."
DISCLAIMER: Marionetonia and Dastardly Stench are the same person.
WARNING: BAD PUN ZONE. Nose plugs are optional.
A lot happened in a really short time--again.
First, Mr. Queene came out of the closet. Then, another man shot him--again.
Then, everyone ignored a woman named Sam--again.
Then, the servants all gave head at the bottom...of the stairs. When Colonel Paladin found them, he wanted to call it a night.
Then, a very odd man played chicken with Colonel Saunders. Things got blown out...of proportion.
And, at the moment, the best thing that Les could think to do was to ignore the woman named Sam--again.
Archibald was glad Baker was in, he swiftly left the lounge for the armory, Eduard called him on it, "Hey! I thought we we're leaving it locked!" Archie shook him off, "Do you want me to save your friends? Or not?"
The groundskeeper unlocked the door, "when we're finished, we'll throw away the key into the moorland...that should take care of that...hmmm?"
Archibald opened the door, and hobbled towards the naval section, slinging a large robe over his shoulder and pointing to a small drifting contact mine designed for naval use, Eduard picked it up, it only weighed about sixty pounds, which was very little for a naval mine. Heir's guess was that most drifting mines we're more about psychological warfare then actual effectiveness.
The groundskeeper laughed when saw Eduard carrying it, "Don't push the spikes in, AND DON'T DROP IT"
Baker didn't find the cripple's sense of humor very funny. Not that it mattered. He waited for the two of them to finish what they were doing in the armory, then followed them out of the estate into the terrible weather. The rain had picked back up. Great.
Overhead the Manor
Pierre was nursing a glass of scotch, the ride on the private jet had been a very bumpy one, once the plane had gotten over the clouds it had been a lot smoother but as the altitude dropped, the turbulence came back full force. For a while, Laporte had been watching the lighting from overhead the clouds, it was all so strange seeing it from the opposite side. But as the plane approached the manor, the storm was very alive; rain was blinding the pilot’s sight as lighting was striking all around the sky.
The plane was coming in for a landing, the pilot called out, “you didn’t tell me it was a grass strip!”, the jet slammed into water as the strip was semi-submerged. The private jet flipped from the force of impact, rolling into a moat or a river or something of that kind with an extremely fast current.
Laporte lifted his head, his hands we’re bleeding from where the glass he was carrying had broke, and his shoulder was bruised from the seatbelt, but he felt like he could survive. Pierre looked around, hearing running water, and sighted the source. A tree branch had broken through the cabin window, and had impaled the co-pilot in the chest, leaving an entry for the runoff water to fill the cabin. Pierre screamed, he unbuckled his seat belt and felt gravity pull him to the ceiling…he was upside down. It took a second for Laporte to get his bearings, he tried to open the door but it wasn’t opening, the stupid instructions weren’t in English.
Pierre got an idea; he pulled out his cellphone and called Eduard, “Hello Eddy! This is Pierre, your assistant, listen…”
Eduard saw that Archibald and Baker wanted to go, but he first called out to Sam, "do you wanna come?"
Baker saw the plane sitting mostly submerged in the moat. It could probably carry most if not all of the guests out, if only they knew who the killer was. It's a shame it was underwater.
Archibald saw the plane, and saw Baker's expression, "That ain't going to fly ever again kid, we'll be lucky if we can rescue a survivor...now where's Eduard, crying in the breast milk? Useless twit isn't he? Here's the plan, we're going to drop the mine in the water, that will activate it, once it drifts and hits the craft it will explode and that will allow us to either get into the cabin, or the survivors to get out...depending on their level on consciousness...do you follow?"
Archie laughed, "I brought rope, but I have feeling we're going to get mighty wet, those rapids are pretty strong..."
"You really are insane, aren't you, Archie?" Sam said. "You're going to blow them up to rescue them?"
Archibald laughed at the words "insane", "this mine will barely blow the lock off the door... it was designed as a mine for moorlands...back when the Cuborgian troops we're getting over the border, sneaking their men through the swamps..."
"Any explosion will turn anybody in the cabin into jelly. Put that damn thing away and let me do this the right way."
"Couldn't just knock a hole in one of the windows somewhere? A gunshot or two, maybe?" Baker asked, not wanting to take any unnecessary risks.
"If you'll put your toys away...."
Archibald took the mine from Eduard, laughing, "It's my way, or the highway",
the cripple chucked it with what force he had in his arms to get it to the water, it flouted to the side of the upside down jet. Eduard heard a "clink", and then saw the explosive charge go off. Archie had been right, it wasn't a very large explosion at all, the water seemed to absorb the shock mostly, but the door fell off its hinges.
Baker shook his head. "Let's get this over with."
Pierre had been standing by the door when he heard something slam against it, he screamed "HEY I'M IN HERE!" That was when the door exploded, Laporte jumped out of the way, water was rushing in and sparks were flying at a rapid pace.
Laporte opened his eyes, the cabin was totally underwater, he looked around and sighted the pilot. The old pilot was still unconscious, flouting in his chair with the seat belt on. Pierre swam up to him, pushing the seat belt button, which dropped the body onto to him slowly.
He was running out of breath, and unable to find the door in his own confusion.
"Then it's the highway," Sam said. "This whole situation is getting too crazy. You'll have everybody dead before sunup.
"I'm going to take a walk down to the highway. I should be able to hitch a ride into town. I'll send the police."
She took one last look at Baker, then turned her back on them and vanished into the rain.
Baker watched her go, then, slowly, turned back to the plane. He one end of the rope from the groundskeeper, tied it around him, and dived into the water. He swam towards the plane, slipped inside, tied the rope around a sturdy point and helped the two inside move to it. They then made their way back across the rushing water, slowly, and Baker was glad Archie had a good grip on the rope. He climbed ashore after the others, now far more wet than he cared to be. "I haven't done that in a while," he remarked.
Eduard didn't even give a shit about his assistant or his pilot. He ran after Sam, screaming "the bridge is flooded, you could drown!" no reply, he kept running "come back, I need you! You never told me who you were! PLEASE!!!!"
Sam thought she heard a voice behind her but she kept walking. At least there'll be one survivor to tell the tale, she told herself.
She could see the glow of the house to her right. She gave it a wide birth and headed for where she surmised the main driveway would be.
Archibald handed Baker his flask of vodka, a sign of respect in the Unibotian army. He shook his head as he watched Eduard chase after Sam, slipping and falling in the mud every so often, he thought it was pathetic. Archie entrusted Baker with carrying the Pilot who was unconscious, but breathing, and they walked back up to the mansion.
After Baker climbed out of the water, he realized Eduard was gone. He had no doubt the president was chasing after Sam, who would be able to outrun him if she wanted to. On the plus side, that meant there were less people to watch for. Then again, he rather liked Sam. He helped the pilot to the estate.
Eduard slipped and fell in the mud, again. He picked himself up...and started chasing after Sam, now soaking wet from the rain with his clothes covered in mud. He finally did catch up with her and he repeated everything he had shouted earlier but in a more of a Reporter-Interviews-Swimmer-After-Winning kind of voice, and in a poor moment of out-of-breath judgement decided to tag a desperate "I love you" at the end.
Archibald gave his rough face a scratch, and said to no one in particular "hmmm...running makes ye look guilty, Ms. Smith"
Normally Baker would agree. But he didn't think she was the killer, and it didn't add up quite right if she was. Then again, he was beginning to doubt Archie may be the killer, too. Once they got inside they might get a few answers.
Soaked to the skin, Sam felt that the rain was finally washing the stink of the house off her. The stagnant moat would have been inviting after that place.
She leaned her head in the direction she was walking in the merest sign of assent. "You can come with me if you want. But there's one thing I agree with Archie on - it's my way or the highway. If you don't like the way I do things, good-bye."
Before they reached the house Archibald decided to ask Baker a question, "do you know anything about Ms. Smith? Did she tell you anything about herself...I'm feeling like the whole "Eduard & Sam" thing was a scam...think about, I mean a man like Eduard falls for supermodels not girls like Sam. I think, Eduard hired the hit on the only remaining royalty in Unibot, and Sam was the assassin. Yeh get what I'm saying?"
Eduard walked over to her, "okay, BUT if it turns out to be impossible to get over the moorland safely, do you promise we'll turn back?...we don't even have to go back to the manor, we could go check out Archie's home, or the servants'..."
"It could be possible," Baker responded. "But I don't think she did it. Something about the way she acted just didn't fit the killer persona. As for Eduard, I don't think he'd have the balls to do the job."
Sam smiled to herself. "If it's impossible for YOU to get over the moorland safely, I guess that's your problem. I got in, I can get out." She glanced over her shoulder at him. "You can still almost see the house from here. Not too late to turn back." This time she really did smile. "Do you feel lucky?"
Archibald stared blankly at Baker, "we are talking about the same Eduard Heir, right? The one I know is the one the tabloids call the "james bond of politics", the man who eluded capture from a pair of assassins the other week by parachuting off his penthouse skyscraper...that takes balls, Baker."
Eduard grabbed Sam's arm, "the rain has made the moorland a lot worse than it was when you came...besides, why do you want to leave so bad? Now that I think about it...checking out Archie's place might be a smart idea, IF he is the killer, he wouldn't expect that would he? We might find some evidence against him..., and by the way. I always feel lucky."
Sam removed Eduard's hand from her arm. "Do that again and I WILL break something." She eyed his neck, tempted to snap it just on principle. "If you're so hot on Archie's place, go. I'm not stopping you."
Eduard made a mental note to himself, never to touch her again when she didn't ask for it. He tried to explain himself, "well, it's just...nevermind. Let's go, we can try and get over this moorland". Heir didn't want her to know he was scared to the fucking gunnel's about going into Archie's place uninvited.
Baker looked the groundskeeper in the eye. "That's running for your life. Doesn't exactly take balls. At least not on the same level as it takes to kill someone. Now, let's get these guys inside. The pilot's getting heavy."
Nobody had noticed that the strange man was mysteriously absent during much of the previous action. That was because he had stayed behind in the armory, hiding behind a row of wax statues. He noticed that many of the guests had surrendered their weapons, and he had not. He unlocked the door from the inside, and locked it again.
The main driveway must cross the moat somehow, Sam reasoned. She'd risk walking across, even if only as a minor concession to Eduardo. "What time do you suppose it is?" she asked. It seemed to be getting lighter but the cloud cover was too thick to tell which direction the sun was.
Pierre was very confused, he had heard everything Archibald said. "Hey, my boss isn't a wimp, and he isn't a killer? He does what he has to sure...but, he wouldn't kill Joseph Queene". Archibald was thinking that Pierre was already getting annoying, "what about Joseph Queene's actor, or the dead woman, or the room full of dead servants...am I missing anybody? Oh yeah, and the two French supermodels..."
Laplace turned white..."HOW many people have died!?"
Pierre started to turn around, "OH HELL NO, I'm not going in there with you guys and A FUCKING MURDEROUS LUNATIC"...
Eduard laughed, "Your eyes are just adjusting to the darkness, and the moon is coming out fuller...it's "like" two o'clock in the morning..."
The strange man walked up the damaged stairs, and stuffed his handgun into his armpit, under his jacket. He stepped softly, trying to avoid making any noise. Time to get to work. Most of these fools left their guns down in the armory...
The Colonel noticed the mysterious man lock himself into the armory... he got up off the sofa in the lounge, "IT'S TIME TO FINISH WHAT WE STARTED, YOU CUBIE!" He was too quick for one of the sane ones of the group to stop him.
The war lord ran at the door, shielding his bandaged hands as he broke through the oak doors...landing hard on to the ground on top of the damaged door. He rolled over to a machine gun on one of the tables, and grabbed one of the metal chestplates off the knight figurine, wearing it for protection.
Noticing the One Eyed Man was no longer in the armory, he charged out of the gallery, going up the master staircase.
"Moon? In this rain?" Sam wondered if Eduardo was as crazy as Archie. As long as he didn't start howling at it.
"Ever read John Buchan?" she asked. Her voice sounded oddly muffled in the rain. "Richard Hannay? Greenmantle? The Thirty-Nine Steps?" She didn't wait for an answer. "Hannay seemed to solve every problem by trekking across the moorlands." She glanced sideways at Eduard and tried not to smile. "Call me Hannay."
"Out here, I'm in control. Nothing gets close without my say-so. Except you, and I don't think you're much of a threat." She quickened her pace slightly to emphasize the point. "You didn't bring any weapons with you, did you?"
Baker grabbed Pierre and pulled him inside. "Yes you are."
The strange man heard yelling and stuff breaking, so he pulled his weapon from under his jacket, and rolled under one of the sofas in the lounge.
Eduard pulled out two pistols from his coat pocket, "of course, I don't think anybody ACTUALLY put their weapons away...we all just put ONE of our weapons away. About the rain, It's actually caused by industrial pollution, its not natural...but keep that on a need to know basis, only." Heir attempted to keep up with her, as he gestured a gun towards her, "do you want one?"
"I want them both," Sam said, slowing slightly. "And anything else you have more dangerous than a paper clip." What the hell difference did it make what caused the rain? she wondered.
The Colonel walked back down the master staircase, he had found no one. He walked into the Lounge, with a murderous grin on his face. People gasped, as they knew the man was hiding under the sofa, Roarke cocked his gun and starting firing bullets into the sofa and into the Grand Piano..."COME OUT, WHERE EVER YOU ARE!"
That was when the Colonel was shot, a total of seven times.
-Once by a scared and frail old woman
-Once by a royal king
-Once by a musical conductor
-Twice by a reporter who thought, "eh, what the heck"
- And twice by a cab driver for someone of importance
Afterwards the shooting, everyone in the room looked a little embarrassed with each other. The old granny asked, "so, who DID put their gun away?"
Eduard smiled at Sam, "I do have something ELSE, that I'm sure could out do a paper clip..."
He hated sexual puns, and that was a really weak one, but he had to say it.
"So, who DID put their gun away?" Baker, Archie, and the two new members of the group walked in. "I guess that just leaves me," Baker said, frowning. "We all agree to put up our guns, and I'm the only one that does it." He didn't mention the throwing knife he still had as he dropped the pilot on the ground right in the doorway.
The man rolled out from under the sofa. "Thanks for that," he said to the shooters in the room. And with that, he ran upstairs, to Queene's room.
Sam took the pistols and stuffed one of them into her waistband. She ejected the clip and made sure the chamber was clear. Then she flicked each round out of the clip with her thumb as she walked and tossed the empty clip to the side. Finally, she threw the empty pistol spinning into the darkness and heard a vague splash. She took the other pistol from her waistband and did the same, all the time thinking she should field-strip them and lose all the pieces separately.
She flung the empty pistol into the bushes. "You'd better not have anything else."
There are at least seven ways to kill a man with a paper clip, she recalled, but she wouldn't tell him that.
Baker found the man's behavior to be a little too odd, and he was tired of it. "Why is he running?" he asked everyone in the room. Before he got an answer he started after him, and was soon at the doorway to Queene's room. He stopped just outside to see if anyone else had followed him.
Archibald laughed at the awkwardness of the situation; he pulled out his rifle from his coat, “well if we’re all going to be honest now…” The groundskeeper looked down at the body of the colonel, “eh, nice job…he WAS annoying. Okay, ye certified killers, I say we get the Supermodels, the Queenes, the old Woman and the Colonel into the freezers and sleep in the Ballroom for the night. We’ll take turns at watching ourselves…okay?”
"And WHERE THE HELL DID BAKER GO!?"
The strange man made it to Queene's chambers. He tossed his gun on the bed, and began running his fingers across the walls, looking for a switch or crevice. The others would get suspicious and come looking for him, so time was of the essence. CLICK. One of the fancy European pieces of 'art' (it bordered on pornography) fell off the wall with a dull THUD. Behind it was a small indention, with a locked safe sitting inside. The man took out his cigarette case from his jacket, retrieved a final coffin nail, and stuck the case to the front of the safe. The magnetic case stuck dead center, and the man left with haste from the room. He lit his cancerette, and at the exact instant, the case exploded silently in a white flash...
Baker walked in behind the strange man, as silently as possible, and in one fluid motion grabbed the man by his shirt and pinned him against the wall. He then pulled out the throwing knife and, after putting his knee into the gut of the man, shoved the knife through his shirt and into the wall, pinning him there. "I want answers."
"I'm developing a new theory," Sam mused, not caring whether Eduard took her seriously or not. "This isn't the country estate of Queenie What's-his-name at all. It's an insane asylum and the only sane one is me." She glanced over her shoulder. "When we get to civilization - if there is any civilization in this country - we'll tell them not to bother sending an ambulance for the bodies. They might as well send a dumptruck." She had heard gunfire again, in the distance, from the direction of the house.
"Ever read Poe?" she asked. At least the rain seemed to be diminishing as they got farther from the house.
Baker was a little unhappy. He had hoped this would be easy. "Let's start with your name," he said, as he delivered another blow to the man's gut, followed by a kick to his leg (not quite enough to break it, but painful as hell).
The first load of corpses we’re being carried by the houseguests into the freezers of the kitchen. Archibald was still sitting in the Lounge, looking after the Clown, the drunk princess, Pierre and the unconscious pilot. The groundskeeper smiled when the pilot awoke, “welcome to the Queene Estate, do you know how to fly a helicopter?”
The pilot was a little shaken, it seemed like an odd way to greet a man, and he paused.
Pierre had been drinking some brandy, before choking and collapsing on the floor…paralyzed.
Archibald put his rifle to the pilot’s head, “can you fly a helicopter?” the pilot nodded. The groundskeeper smiled through his missing teeth, and shot the drunken princess and the paralyzed Pierre in celebration. Archie then threw the bottle of poison on to the floor and helped the wounded clown up off the sofa, “let’s get out of here, Queene”.
The groundskeeper rolled some active land mines on to the stairs and laid some C4 from the armory onto the ground, setting up a device for activating it with his Christmas tree timer. That should keep them occupied he thought…as the clown went to the dungeon door and locked it, the old lock was on the outside of course, (they don’t make em, like they use to!) this trapped the houseguests down below in the kitchen. That should keep them REALLY OCCUPIED..he laughed.
The groundskeeper pointed his gun at the pilot and showed him the way to one of the backdoors, weary of using the front door in case Sam and his lover came back looking for shelter. “Where are we going?” asked the pilot, Archie and the Clown laughed, “to the Hanger, of course…we have a flight to catch…”
The man groaned in pain. "I can't tell you my name. But I can tell you that inside that safe sits over one billion American dollars in bonds. Help me get them out of here and I'll share it with ya."
Sam's foot crunched on gravel. The driveway? she wondered. Were they past the moat or not? Did it even go all the way around the house or did it delve into a culvert somewhere? And who the hell has a moat in this day and age?
Right, an insane asylum. She glanced over her shoulder. Now where the hell had Eduardo gotten to?
Eduard smiled, "yes...why is a Raven like a writing desk?"
"I thought that was Lewis Carroll." Sam cocked her head to listen. "Try to keep up now. Stay off the gravel so I can hear what's going on behind us." She started off at a slow jog.
Eduard smiled even more, he answered the Carroll riddle, "Because Poe wrote on both..."
Baker was about to hit the man again when he heard two gunshots downstairs. He was hit by a sudden realization, and said simply, "stay here, I'll be right back." He took the man's gun and left the room before stopping in his tracks and going back in. "On second thought, you're coming with me." He grabbed the knife, pulled it from the wall, and dragged the man out and tossed him down the stairs. If they were waiting for him to come down, he'd know it by how many pieces the man was in when he hit the ground.
The sky seemed to be graying in the east. Eduard must have been wrong about the time. Sam hoped that the fog would burn off when the sun rose.
She thought she could see moving lights in front of her. The highway? The driveway did twist and turn a fair bit. The half-hour-drive from the highway that she had heard about would be considerably shorter overland. If the driveway deviated much to right or left again, she decided, she'd head straight for the highway, as the raven flies. Moat be damned, if there was one. She'd swim and Eduard could follow or not.
Eduard was mildly tired of walking considering it had been something "like" four hours...but at the same time he was also energized being with someone as bizarrely easy-to-love as Sam. The road was now covered with about three inches deep of water, not something the ambulance should of been worried about...he was really starting to question his decision for privatizing Unibot's emergency services...
Archibald swung the hanger’s door open, and gestured the pilot towards the helicopter, he complied and got into the cockpit. The wounded Clown and Archibald got into the helicopter as well.
The pilot laughed, “I can’t fly out of the hanger, you’re going to have to figure out how to move this thing…”
The groundskeeper laughed harder, “no, I’m NOT”, he pulled out a remote control and used it to activate the ceiling which slid open like a space station, “rich people…and their toys…”
Les was still standing in the armory. This whole mess disgusted him. The world, he knew, had been brought up on a bunch of crap about "individual responsibility," but this took the cake. The people in this house SHOULD HAVE found a way to work together--to establish mutual security. Instead, they had broken off into what had amounted to armed gangs and started shooting at each other. From what he could tell, they weren't even alarmed when more people died.
This was simply crazy. It was like a bunch of kids running around with guns.
Les had decided that the sane choice was not to take a gun in the first place.
Shaking his head, Les walked up over to the makeshift infirmary where the wounded--there had been some new arrivals--were being kept. He had no idea how he was going to get these people to establish security and begin containment, but he knew that, if no one tried, there would be quite a few more bodies before the sun came up--and the sky, he could see through the window, was starting to get lighter.
"Lord of the Flies", Sam said, to nobody in particular, even though Eduard was the only particular within earshot. "That's the book I was trying to think of. It's like Lord of the Flies back there."
The road curved away to the right. That's enough for me, she decided. It's straight ahead from here on. I'll just keep the glow behind me - whether it's the rising sun or the full moon that Eduardo seems to think it is or the house on fire.
"Let's go," she said. "The highway can't be more than a mile or two away." She plunged off into the darkness, quickening her pace.
Baker frowned. He hadn't thrown the man down the stairs right. He stopped at one point and just groaned a bit in pain. Having been in this situation once before (and it had led a very painful month in the hospital), Baker knew better than to walk down those stairs when someone could be waiting to shoot him. He went back into Queene's room, kicked the window out, and climbed out into the rain. It wasn't raining as hard, but it wouldn't have really mattered anyway, as he was still wet from his swim in the moat. He dropped to the ground and looked for where to go next.
They we're up in the air, Archibald felt a sigh of relief full over him as the helicopter left the ground. He shouted into the pilot's ear..."Follow the roadline out to the highway, I don't want to get lost..." Archie looked over at the Clown who was pulling out a couple billion dollars in bonds from under his costume. Archibald addressed him, "where did you get that?", the clown smiled, "my father was stupid enough to keep it in a safe, I guess he didn't trust Unibot banks...I went and got it while you we're busy with the guests examining the dead supermodels...", Archibald wasn't so pleased, "you stupid fuck, it was never about the money...ye greedy stupid cow, just like ye father. Stealing from the dead...", Archibald shot the Clown and shoved the body and the money out of the helicopter on to the road below them.
Eduard smiled, "yeah, but who is the beast...?"
Heir was struck by a dead clown that fell from the sky. As a helicopter passed over ahead. Eduard still had the heavy corpse lieing on top of him when he looked over and saw a package of money on the ground, just a few feet from him, "Sam..."
Having found no one to talk to in the infirmary, Les went up the stairs and tried there. He found the one-eyed man in pain on the floor, and the room in complete disarray. The place looked like a bomb had gone off inside of it--literally. The fine paintings that had hung on the doorside wall were singed beyond recovery. The papers on the writing desk were turned to ash. The window was broken, and rain was coming in, ruining the fine carpet, not to mention the hardwood floor underneath it.
"What a waste," was all that Les could say.
OOC: anybody wanna solve a murder, or are we all just going to see how many other laws we can break while we're at it?
Sam couldn't help but laugh. "Now it's raining clowns."
She helped Eduard up. "We're nearly there."
OOC: No, nobody wants to solve the murder. That's why it's time for an extraction.
OOC: We have broken alot of laws over the course of this, haven't we?
Baker soon saw a helicopter fly off, and he chased after immediately. Unfortunately, on foot, he wasn't going to catch it, but he ran anyway. After it was a distance away, he saw something fall from the helo, and he moved to find it. It was still pretty far away. Hopefully he'd get there before it washed away. Baker ran faster.
Sam stood in the ditch, trying to recognize any landmark along the highway but having no luck. She hadn't passed the driveway on her way in and she hadn't crossed the gravel, so she couldn't be too far from her car - not that it would do her any good.
"You'd better wait here, in the shadows," Sam told Eduard. "I'll be more likely to get a ride if I'm alone." She climbed up onto the shoulder of the highway. "Don't come out until I give the signal." She looked into the shadows where she couldn't see him any more. "I mean seriously, DON'T." If she had believed in telepathy, she would have sent him the message, 'This is the end of the trail for you, Eduardo. Get your own ride.'
She could hear a car farther away than she could see it. She turned and stuck out her thumb. She stuck out her chest as far as it would go, which wasn't far.
Now she could see the car. Its lights dimmed, then brightened again. If this was a movie, she thought, that would be Archibald again.
The car slowed and stopped. The windshield wipers were slapping lazily back and forth even though the rain had mostly stopped. Some vapor rose from the water droplets on the hood. The window slid down with a mechanical whine.
She leaned toward the dark opening. The driver's face was in shadow. She was ready to say Hi, Archie but instead she said, "My car broke down. Are you headed into town?" The shadow moved toward her and the door clunked open.
She got in. Bye, Eduardo, she said to herself as she closed the door. "Drive," she said to the shadow in an authoritative tone uncharacteristic of hitchhikers.
OOC: I've got the reason behind all of this craziness on paper already, it's KINDA up to you on how we get to it...I'd recommend Baker or Lester try and save the people in the dungeon, instead of aimlessly chasing after the helicopter.... but you COULD let them die, thats cool too.
Eduard looked at the girl of his dreams drive away...well fuck her...
He stepped out onto the road and waved his hands, I'm not just some random guy...I'm the fucking president, he thought.
A van stopped, two hippie chicks looked at him through rose tinted glasses..."hey, I told you it was him.." nudged the one girl named Janice. They coughed and hid their cannabis..."do you need a lift, Mr. Heir?"
Eduard walked over to the driver side, "Yes, but I was wondering If I could drive, ladies?"
The van with Eduard driving, drove away, chasing after Sam's car. He wondered why she had been in such a hurry to leave with the money, which was a small sum compared to the money should could of robbed off Eduard, with a messy divorce after three months of being a billionaire's domesticated wife... like his previous three wives... who had even started a facebook club for Heir's ex-wives only...
Baker stopped when he saw a car slow down on the highway. He moved carefully towards a body on the ground and realized it was the clown. Baker swore under his breath: his only lead was gone. He then moved to see why the car had stopped. As he got closer, he saw Eduard in the shadows, and Sam climbing into the car. Eduard was obviously waiting to get in the car too. Stupid bastard. Baker continued to walk towards the road. It was at this time that a van pulled up, Heir got in, and Baker stopped. He turned around and walked back towards the mansion. There was no reason to leave anyone else back there. He wouldn't be leaving the country for a few hours anyway.
The driver nodded toward a little car, upside-down in the ditch with muddy water still trickling through the open windows. "Somebody had a bad night."
"Tell me about it," Sam muttered.
She dropped the stuff-bag from her pocket on the seat beside her. It was stuffed considerably fuller than it ever had been before. "For your trouble," she said.
After a good throw down the stairs, the odd man knew that Baker hadn't fallen for the billion dollars trick. He picked himself up, dusted himself off, and ran back into the lounge, and then the hall he had been in when the butler/Queene had been shot. He retrieved the machine pistol he'd stashed when he was 'out for a smoke' from behind a flower pot. He checked the magazine. Full. Fantastic. He ran back to Queene's room, where the safe was. The safe's door was blown open, with a hole just big enough to grab a brown baggie, about the size of a man's fist. Such a bag was sitting inside, and it was far more important than the lives of anybody else here.
Heir pulled out his cellphone, it was time to play a little unfair. He called up the Unibot Military, General Casey picked up the line. "Hello, Eduard!? God, are you all right? I heard what happened!" Eduard assured him he was okay, "Casey, I'm in pursuit of, of um...a terrorist in a blue Volvo..she hitch-hiked with a civilian. I need you to pull out some evasive maneuvers to capture her...road blocks, rocket launchers, electromagnetic cow swingdingers... what ever you have to capture her, and get her alive. There's also a helicopter around the area, it belongs to Joseph Queene, I believe. Take care of the helicopter."
Eduard gave him the locations, the licence plate number. It was all falling into place.
Baker walked back into the estate. He was tired, cold, wet, and all around unhappy. The clown had likely done the killings, the cripple had something to get from it, and all of this could have likely been prevented. He should have shot Archibald when he had the chance. Daylight began to come through the windows, but not very brightly as it was still very early. The strange man was no longer laying on the stairs, as should be expected. If the billions in the safe really existed, he probably already had them and left. There was still the matter of the other guests, wherever they were. He had missed that detail when he chased the man into Queene's room. Baker climbed the stairs to go into the room.
The strange man heard footsteps climbing the stairs to Queene's room. He snuck up them, keeping his gun aimed in front of him. He jumped in front of the door. "Don't fucking move!"
OOC: I need to go do stuff. I'll be back soonish.
The pilot was sweating a lot, Archibald was getting tenser, his hands we’re shaking while carrying the rifle. “Look at the sky, not at me…” commanded Archie. The groundskeeper looked behind him; he heard a plane behind them, a very large plane. “Holy shit…it’s the fucking cavalry”. Three large air bombers we’re trailing the helicopter, the pilot slowly unbuckled his seat belt as he saw a parachute open in the corner of his vision. A daisy chain of army men swung onto the side of the helicopter, opening the door from the outside, their presence rocked the helicopter. The pilot closed his eyes, opened the cockpit door and leaped out….in a second a parachuting military man grabbed onto him.
Archie smiled at the men with guns that we’re invading the helicopter, “yeah know, I was in the army once…” he gave up trying to be nice, “will one of you geniuses try and fly this helicopter before we all die!?”
Baker sighed. "Bloody hell. Do we have to do this? After a night like that?" Baker suddenly felt very tired, so he slowly leaned against the wall. "What was really in the safe?"
Janice had passed out from some sort of drug induced sleep, that was while she was...um, innocently laying her head on Eduard's crotch... Heir was driving quite fast meanwhile in the adrenaline rush, like a maniac really, swerving around cars on the highway as he tried to catch up to the volvo, he saw Sam's head in the vehicle...he rolled down the window, Eduard figured maybe he could talk her out of what ever she was doing.
OOC: Give it up, Eduard. Sam will be completing her extraction later on and ignoring any further nonsense. If you want to see her again, back off.
OOC: That was Out-Of-Character!? You're a cold bitch in RL too it seems...?
OOC: So that just leaves the Archie and my sides of the story, right?
Sam held the phone in one hand and waited as it rang on the other end. Finally, there was an answer. "Mr. Waverly, please," she said. "Mrs. Dee calling."
She waited again. "Mr. Waverly? It's me.... No, I didn't get the package. The company went out of business.... Yes, I'm sure.... No, no trouble..... Okay. I'm on my way."
She hung up the phone and looked out the window at the street below. She had gotten a bad first impression of Unibot. She was glad to be leaving. She probably wouldn't be back any time soon. But she resolved not to judge a whole country by one bad night in an asylum.
She decided, I think I'll call this chapter in my memoirs The Cuckoo's Nest Affair.
OOC: Pay some attention to the C in IC, Eduard. Heavy weapons to get the girl? Get serious.
Eduard outstretched a hand to the car, a single tear blossomed from his eye, the car started to pass the hippie van…he was losing her. That was when a helicopter dropped from the sky on the road in front of the van, it slammed into the hippiemobile, the helicopter took most of the damage, however the van flipped over on to its side and slide into a ditch at a very high speed. Heir gave his head a shake, unbuckled himself, and got out of the van; he looked around to see a helicopter lying on the highway, and Archibald on his knees in front of it, with his hands behind his head. Three soldiers with guns we’re threatening him, Heir walked over to them, they recognized him and nodded. “Archibald…explain yourself…” The groundskeeper laughed, and one of the soldiers cocked his gun. “Well, okay...let’s start from the beginning then, shall we?
Forty Years Ago…Margaret Queene died of a terrible disease, practically alone… her death was one of public humiliation to Joseph, and so was her son. He had their five year son shipped off to the fucking human trafficking ring in Unibot…bastard.
Three months ago I was contacted by Joseph Queene, the “V”, by telephone. He had a plot to kill his father, in front of everyone, all of his wealthy ungrateful aristocrats and so-called friends at his father’s birthday. I agreed, I loathed Joseph, and what he did to his son and wife. So did the servants, so we started a little secret club after hours in the meat cellar, talking plans over. But Joseph’s stupid son made a bad mistake, a vital error; he sent his father a death threat, which made the old goat think. Then we had to deal with Queene’s flimsy plan, the hired actor and the random guests…it just wasn’t working out like how we had planned. Joseph dressed up as a clown that night; he had intercepted the REAL clown that was hired for the event while he was driving to the manor.
The servants turned off the lights for him, and Joseph shot the wrong bloody man…he had fallen for the actor. Then he decided to get greedy and steal his father’s money from his bedroom safe, and in the attempt no doubt ran into the supermodels and shot them in cold blood. From then on I had to counter the bloody git’s mistakes, divert the attention to me or the others. The servants we’re getting worried however, they didn’t like INNOCENT lives being taken, so I took care of them…why you we’re off in your little squadrons, I called them to a meeting in the meat cellar where I poisoned and killed them.
The ambush between the clown and the granny had just been a bloody mistake, Joseph was suppose to get rid of the incriminating revolver in the dungeons, not get caught by the old woman and have to shoot up the place and fake an ambush. By the time you knew the truth that the butler was Queene, I had already set up a timed light switch, and did the dirty deed myself, without the need of the servants. You also conveniently left your pants on the bedrail while…um, you were sleeping with the princess, which allowed me to steal your cellphone. That gave the clown something to do while he was hanging around in the lounge, he texted for the plane. We needed a get-away.”
Apparently Sam’s car was able to avoid the full force tactical military road block, she lived to fight another day.
Eduard went on to...well, womanize and drink. And drink some more. The night had left him emotionally shattered and he turned to drugs, alcohol and ultra violence to ease it.
Archibald was sentenced to the death penalty, with in two days of the court case. His defense attorney had been a rabid and homeless drug dealer/public defender "named" Jonny Banana.
(OOC: Add your own entry to the Epilogue if you like!)
The man whom nobody knew his name left Baker bleeding from twenty holes as he left the mansion with the package. After one hell of a night, the man finally made it to the airport, and to the safety of his country.
OOC: Oh, come on, man! That's it, just "left Baker bleeding from twenty holes"? We need a better ending than that!
OOC: If anyone's interested I've got a bizarre sequel popping up in my head...it would take place a couple days afterwards...
OOC: What about the land mines? And the people in the dungeon? The C4?
Ignore Cuborg, he's joking. He's a Joker.
Somewhere over Unibot:
Sam looked out the window at the clouds below. Boys will be boys, she said to herself. All they're interested in is waving guns around and shooting each other. She settled back in her seat and closed her eyes. Who needs boys?
Sam walked beside 'Waverly', along the gravel path beside the little lake.
"So that's it then," he said, staring blankly at the shimmering water.
"As far as I can tell," Sam replied. Her hands were in her pockets and she fingered her Fatatatutian Army knife, red with hammer-and-sickle inlay and one blade. "We'll probably never know for sure what he was up to. At least he isn't doing it any more."
"The ducks are hungry today," Waverly said, absently.
Sam nodded. For the ducks, today was just another day.