The pirate's head flipped free from his shoulders, rotated six times, then bounced across the otherwise immaculate hexagonal tiles of the cozy little courtyard. His companions shifted uneasily in their places, each one not particularly liking their chances of taking down this Uncouth figure who moved like a panther and struck like lightning with the scythe-bladed axe-thing that he wielded like a maestro of deathdealing.
"I said: Do We Have A Deal?" the barbarian growled at the pirate captain.
"But what you are asking is insane. The Magistrates--"
"The Magistrates be damned. I have taken care of them. They will not be a factor in this matter." He grinned savagely, humorously, the effect only deepening his grotesque grimness.
The scythe blade snapped out like a scorpion's tail directly into the soft belly of another pirate who had thought himself out of the man's reach. He collapsed incredulously to the tiles as his ruptured guts spilled out over his twitching hand as he vainly tried to draw his knife. Unrevenged and impotent, the pirate collapsed to the tiles, his knife sliding away from him in the growing pool of his blood.
"Will you please stop that?! Good help is hard to find and I can't have you continually killing my crew just because you are being unreasonable." The captain shook visibly. If he had some way to counter the brutal bastard looming over him like a menacing avalanche about to fall, he'd have used it. But they both knew that he had nothing available with which to oppose the bully from across the Great Western Wall.
"Agree to my plan and I'll focus my anger on those who've earned it and deserve it, otherwise you may need to find a new crew."
"This is madness--"
"Aye. Madness. Revenge, too."
For a moment the pirate captain stared into the smoldering blue eyes of the Uncouth giant. He saw only death, destruction and dismemberment in those blazing pools of violence and unbridled aggression. Tolsk was fierce enough when he was drunk, happy or asleep, but once someone had offended him, challenged him, or worst of all embarrassed him...well, he was all too capable of transcending his otherwise brutish nature to become an elemental force unto himself, a veritable whirlwind of destruction the likes of which the captain hoped against all hope that he'd never have to witness again.
"I see there is no way to dissuade you from this course, so aye, we'll play our part."
"We'll be there. It's a terrible chance we're taking, but should we succeed it'll pay a rich dividend, in some other port, of course."
"You'll be rich. So don't whine to me about having to sail off to some other port to collect your due. consider yourself lucky that our paths may well never cross again. Now go get your crew ready. I'll give you the signal to strike in one hour."
"But what will be the signal?"
"You'll know it when you hear it. Just be sure that you don't hesitate. It'd be a shame if something were to happen to your ship, or if the Oligarchs were to learn of your whereabouts."
"I would. I will. Now get moving. We're on a schedule." The big man dismissed the pirates with a sharp clap of his burly hands and they scattered like roachers into the alleys and passageways. He kept his icy blue gaze on the captain's back as he at first tried to walk then jog then broke into a full-out run back to his ship.
Tolsk was not a man to take lightly. He had no sense of humor.
An hour came and went and the Tavern of Three Bells was again crowded near to capacity. Some mysterious benefactor had paid a princely sum to the landlord so that he'd pass out free drinks to all comers for the evening rush. There was something said in passing of a celebration of sorts. No one much cared. The drinks were free and people were celebrating just fine without worrying about the particulars.
The brooding goliath leaned against the doorframe of a tenement just across and a little over from the front door to the tavern, glaring balefully at the place of his shame and intolerable degradation. An unholy flame of retribution shone evilly in his eyes.
Thunder rumbled from out of an otherwise clear and starry night. Another rumbling shook the docks in their pilings. Sirens blared, people began to shout, lights shone forth from the far end of the waterfront where a third and even bigger explosion ripped through the hull of another ship.
Casually, almost nonchalantly, Tolsk strolled over to the front door of the tavern and proceeded to jam a heavy polycrete bench against the door. He'd purloined the bench from the nearby park and dragged the thing all the way there just for this purpose. Then he struck a light with his flamestick and poked it into the kerosene, fuel oil, brandy and other flammable substances that he had paid a group of urchins to douse the exterior of the place with. Flames whooshed out and quickly raced out across the entire free-standing tavern. The urchins had really out-done themselves. Tolsk smirked in grim amusement. The revelers were still mostly oblivious to what was going on. But that was about to change.
Tolsk watched with satisfaction as the pirates took up their places, carts arranged in a half-circle in the cramped space behind the tavern, their planks set as ramps to facilitate loading and the pirates bristling with sharp poles, blades and prods. He smiled. It was good. Very, very good.
Captain Rourke handed Tolsk his flamer personally.
"We're ready. Did you have to sink all those ships just to--"
"What's done is done. Let's get to work. I'm about to make you a very rich man."
"Aye. Rich and damned both."
Tolsk strode off back towards the front of the now blazing tavern. Inside people were beginning to notice that things were not quite right. Little things like the front door not opening to their touch nor even to their most strenuous attempts to force it alerted the less inebriated clientele that something was decidedly wrong. Tolsk set about making sure that they understood just how wrong things had gone as he began to blast streams of sticky fire all over the tavern's facade, making sure to send great gouts of plasmic-paste streaming through every window. Screams and shouts exploded from the tavern. People stampeded out the back door, pushing, shoving, bawling and shouting as they fought past one another only to find themselves confronted by the pirates who then poked, prodded and drove them into one cart after another until finally every living person who'd been in the tavern was locked away within a slave-cart and on the way towards the Dainty Lady and their impending sale into servitude in some foreign port's slave-auctions.
Tolsk emptied his flamer into the collapsing structure that had been a tavern then threw the used-up weapon into the conflagration as well. Wiping his sweaty hands he walked away from the blaze, headed towards the Low Esplanades and the small boat he'd rented earlier. He intended to go explore some of the grottoes and not be available for any inquiries that might be directed in his direction as a former patron of the establishment destroyed in what would surely be labelled a heinous act of arson. At some point he'd have to find his way back to Aegron in order to properly thank Parsons for the micro-torpedoes and the path-foiler. They had come in handy after all.
A burned, battered and bruised young albino gentleman in the tattered remains of what had once been a jaunty, even festive outfit sat on the stinking straw of a crude cart pulled by non-descript labor-drones and watched the reactions of his fellows. Some cried, others fussed, raged or swore mighty oaths, but all were ignored. Proud and arrogant in the way that only the genetic aristocracy can truly be, Tridon Dumarl Alesquez leaned back into the hard collapsed-iron bars of the cart and watched and waited, absolutely sure of his eventual revenge upon whomever had dared to do this to a scion of his noble lineage. If it took a hundred years or more, he would be revenged for this outrage. But for now, he watched, and he waited, and he contented himself that all such things would surely pass and that he had all the time in the world in which to exact his revenge.