Fear, Confusion, and the Flower
Chapter 9: Steam City
Timeline: Day 4 - Evening
Melisande heard gentle banter from outside the workshop door. It was a nice contrast with the cloud that permeated over dormitories with the death of Kevin and the arrest of Chago. Opening the door, she saw it was Ashrieda and an unknown man.
"Hello Ashrieda. How is your gun working now?" She smiled and then turned to the man, "And who are you? Are you new? I do not think I have seen you before."
“Hello Melisande,” Ashrieda said, grinning. “It’s working fine. Just takes some time to get used to a gun that actually works properly, go figure that. Shanen, Melisande, Shanen,” she added, pointing at both of them respectively. “Melisande’s our combat engineer. Works in the War Dog division. Excellent at upgrading munitions. Shanen’s our…” Ashrieda frowned in thought. “...Kanesville expert. Captain hired him,” she added.
Shanen smiled at the introduction, he supposed the title of Kanesville expert was the most-fitting for him, thus far. He hoped that he'd get a chance to prove himself soon to secure a proper place on the crew. "Shanen Trevor." He said as he held out his hand for Melisande, an easy smile on his features. "Like Ashrieda said, the Captain hired me to be the expert on all thing Kanesville, a somewhat limited role considering we'll be departing to Columbus City soon so hopefully I'll get a chance to move beyond the Kanesville role."
Melisande shook his hand and smiled in response, "Unfortunately, I will not be accompanying both of you. I have business in Hope Mountain to attend to. Kanesville expert? How long have you lived here? Do you have any weapons you would like me to look over? You are both welcome to come inside."
"Uh, well...long enough, hopefully." Shanen responded with an attempt to deflect the question. "And no, thank you, my pistol seems to be working fine." He smiled at the combat engineer, before nodding to his companion, "Ashrieda is giving me the grand tour so to speak. It's definitely held my interest thus far, meeting all the new faces."
"I did not know there was anything to see other than a kitchen, some makeshift offices, and a bunch of beds. Do both of you know of anything I do not?" Melisande laughed slightly, "Perhaps I should come along too. What made you decide to join, Shanen? Ashrieda, where did you meet him?"
“The sausage stand downtown,” Ashrieda replied, looking to Shanen for confirmation. “Captain was there too, I just...ended up involved in the transaction somehow, you know how that goes. You really ought to join us for the tour. The latrines are particularly fascinating.”
"Latrines?" Melisande raised her eyebrow. After hiding in the air vent over the bathrooms for two hours she failed to see anything particularly interesting about them. The lure of this potential information was too much to resist. "All right. I'll go."
"I think that was a joke? Right?" Shanen asked, looking to Ashrieda with a degree of uncertainty. "Maybe you could fill me in on crew gossip and who does what." The adventurer was trying to get a feel for the crew and of the three women he had met so far, he had liked what he saw. "Out of interest, is there any male crew? Out of the crewmates I've met so far all have been women, not that I'm complaining mind."
“Maybe,” Ashrieda replied ambiguously, turning and walking in the direction of the latrines, Melisande and Shanen following. “There’s plenty of men around. Let’s see...there’s Brem the chief engineer, Colton’s a war dog, Ivan too. Leftheris the master gunner, Erm, Chago, Copper, Blazingtail. Faizel too, he’s the boatswain, Nate, Azzo…did either of you see the paper?”
"Yes," Melisande answered quietly in almost a whisper, "The vaudeville murders. I was there with Chago on that day. He met Giselle and we were working on a song for Miyra, his girlfriend," She nodded to Shanen as he hadn't met Miyra and she assumed he hadn't met Chago either.
Her face turned dark, "That is why he was arrested. I am concerned for his safety. I have heard the militia has quite the reputation, is that true, Shanen?"
"I wouldn't cross them, that's for sure." Shanen answered. "I've heard something about a murder in town, it's connected to your crew?"
Ashrieda looked at Shanen and sighed. “Maybe. That other body sounds a whole lot like Kevin Price, our quartermaster. Was our quartermaster, I guess. I haven’t seen him for hours,” she said, lying with the truth. “Guess he got himself into some trouble, did something he shouldn't have and got himself killed. Of course that would call attention to the rest of us.”
"Yes, that is most likely what happened to Kevin," Melisande thought back to what she originally thought occurred, "There have been many rumors, but it is the most plausible...Are you okay Shanen? You have been kind of pulled into all of this. Were both of you here when the militia arrived?"
"I'm fine." The blond man replied, "It's not how I expected my first day of employment to go but I'll manage I'm sure." He allowed himself a wane smile. "And no, we must have missed the militia, thankfully."
Walking closer to the latrine area, Melisande sighed, "You were both lucky then. They were interested in Chago, Leftheris, and Faizel, and myself. I...I hid. I still need to go to the militia station to be questioned. Do you know what I should expect, Shanen? I must admit, I am a bit wary of that. So what exactly did you find so intriguing, Ashrieda?"
"The militia do not have a lovely reputation around here." Shanen replied with a shrug, "Innocent or not it might not be the nicest experience for you."
Melisande both cringed and glared at him for his answer. She felt a sudden soreness from her right side. Now she was confident that she had reinjured her side.
Ashrieda seemed to have tuned Shanen and Melisande out completely and was now looking around the latrines curiously, and at one vent in particular. There was something off about it that she had noticed before, but she hadn’t thought it was of any significance. Until now.
“You know why closed latrines have vents?” she asked drolly, pointing at the vent. “To let the stench out, obviously, but when you have large numbers of people shitting often, it produces gas. Without ventilation, if there’s enough gas in the room and someone lights a cigarette, the whole place goes up. And when you combine that with large concentrations of dextrocite dust…anyway. This one’s been tampered with. Did you say that Chago had been arrested?”
Melisande raised her eyebrow at seeing Ashrieda notice the vent she hid in almost immediately. She fidgeted slightly, "Um...I know why the vent has been tampered with. It is nothing to worry about...but---"
She looked at the floor and saw a hairpin with a flower attached. Picking it up and examining it, it hit her like lightning where it came from. Turning to Ashrieda and Shanen, she responded, "Something else must be here. We can continue discussing Chago's arrest while we search. More evidence to his innocence should be here somewhere."
“Whose is that?” Ashrieda asked, walking over to Melisande and looking at the pin in her hand. “You said that Chago was arrested. Are you saying that they think he’s connected to the vaudeville murders? And Kevin? And what about that?” She pointed at the vent again, looking utterly confused.
Melisande sighed. She thought Ashrieda was following along at least until they entered the latrine area. Now she seemed to have forgotten the entire conversation. Did her interest in the latrines and the vent cause a complete mental block, she wondered.
"Yes, Chago was arrested because the militia seem to think he is the one who killed those in the vaudeville hall. They seem to have lumped Kevin along with them. The vent...I hid," Melisande was quick to change the subject from the vent, "As for who owns this pin, that I cannot say for sure, but I do know where this comes from. The real killer was in this room before planting evidence. With the crew being forty people at the moment, the killer could have easily walked in and out. I suspect something else is here. Do either of you see anything else?"
Ashrieda shook her head, still perplexed. "No," Shanen replied uncertainly, "but I'm not quite sure what to be looking for either. Are you certain in your belief that the killer, the real killer hid amongst the crew and framed Chago?"
"If I felt otherwise, than why would I be saying this?" Melisande looked at him both confused and frustrated, "I suppose I can take this to the captain. I have an idea. You both are free to search if you like. I suppose it is possible there is nothing else here."
She walked out of the latrine area and headed to the captain's quarters.