Fusillading

Title: Fusillading
Time Period: May 10, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: As word of the cryptic message left for the Rowntree and Ross families circulates through Dornie, it inspires not only fear, but also hope — and violence.

The uprising began only an hour into the morning shift.

In the many, many years that the Rowntree munitions factory has been in operation, small acts of rebellion have delayed the production of the firearms that elevate Dornie above other settlements in the region, but none on this scale, which left two foremen dead and ignited a small fire that the militia was able to contain before it could spread far enough to consume more than a few crates of weapons scheduled to go out on the next merchant ship to China.

The smell of smoke and gunpowder continues to hang heavily in the air more than an hour after Duncan's forces put an end to the attempted coup, and in the time since the news has spread with the swiftness that the fire didn't and attracted a large crowd of men, women and children drawn to the factory by rumours of an impending execution.

If the militia were to kill everyone involved, Marcus would be reduced to only a handful of workers, so while its leadership beneath Duncan has agreed that punishment must be swift, it is best to limit it to the individuals responsible for the uprising's organization. Among them are workers from settlements bulldozed by clans Ross and Rowntree in the name of profit and progress, natives of places gone but not forgotten: Blackmoore and Rannoch.

Rain crackles against the gravel outside the factory and those assembled there can feel the distant vibrations of thunder. It's a dark, wet spring morning, as spring mornings often are. Aislinn Rowntree, who should be resting in bed, is in the middle of a reminder of how ineffectual her influence is when it comes to her brother-in-law's domain. So far, no amount of pleading has convinced Lucien Bassingthwaighte to spare the lives of the workers singled out for execution, and with her husband so far off on the moors, she lacks the kind of support required to overrule any decision the militia might make. Water splashes off the brim of her hat, which she wears not to protect her hair, but the bandages wrapped around her head.

The sound of the rain makes it impossible for anyone to understand their conversation at a distance, though not everyone present is standing far enough away for that to be an issue. She leans against her protege for support.

Not far off, mixed in with other members of the militia nursing injuries inflicted by pipes, wrenches and other tools that the factory workers were able to get ahold of, Jain MacCruimein and Algernon Fogg await further orders from their superior.

One such length of pipe is carefully inspected in Algernon's grasp, bits of blood and hair and meat pecked from metal by the rain. Not his. Not anyone he knows, either, although — more than one of his bothers in arms have suffered clouts to the head. The pipe is dropped aside once he's satisfied his curiosity, black coat and black hat made moreso by the pitchy press and soak of rain through their outermost layers.

He doesn't seem to mind overmuch the brackish gum of black through his moustache and around the side of his mouth where he caught an elbow to the nose. Nor does he acknowledge the heat at his back warning him of pulled stitches. He's much more interested in the exchange between Rowntree, Ross and Bassingthwaighte, clearly seen from his post at the front of the line.

Dressed in leathers that seem almost stiff and armor-like the way they buckle together in defiance of the weather, Lucien's expression is more or less the same kind of unyielding, his defense being an apathy towards what he sees as sentimental stupidity. He is not known to be any more bloodthirsty than the bones on which Dornie's foundations build upon indicates, but more of an organiser. Everyone has their place. And for as long as they're still pulling blackened oak from the waters of the harbour, 'fed to the worms' sounds like an excellent idea for anyone who thought it righteous.

There's one woman among the six, although the rain and the injuries they've suffered since that morning have more or less rendered them genderless as they are led out, made to stand by a wall that seen, in its time, spatters of blood and imbedding bullets.

"Careful, Mrs. Rowntree," he says, cutting her off at a mid-sentence. Plain blue eyes dart to the Ross girl, and back to the healer, before dismissing her entirely to watch the procession. "You're starting to show that you aren't of Dornie stock. And we were all starting to politely forget it."

A quiet and steady crutch, Cordelia Ross holds on to Aislinn's arms with both of her own. Her dark eyes dart from face to face as the "grown-ups" talk. She's clearly distressed by the possible execution of the men, brows knitted together and mouth pressed in a thin line. So far, she's been the silent supporter of Aislinn's pleas, nodding to punctuate the older woman's points, and shaking her head in a tacit disagreement with Lucien's. Half Rowntree she might be, but she is a pacifist at heart. The actions here today were not the most peaceful, but death seems too drastic a sentence.

The quiet comes to an end when Lucien's barb makes her gasp, and her fingers tighten on Aislinn's sleeve. "I agree with her, and I am as much of 'Dornie stock' as they come," Cordelia says, lifting chin and standing up to her full (scant) height.

On the side of killing everyone involved, no matter how short it leaves the factory of workers, Jain had started lining the people up by size. When that plan was thrown to the wayside in favor of only executing leaders, he fell into line somewhere near Algernon to nurse a set of bruised knuckles by rubbing at them with his opposite hand.

"Kill 'em all and resupply," he cuts in on his own. "We've enough desitute in the poorer sections that'd keep the place running until we find another town." He doesn't view the two women kindly, "It ain't either of your lives hangin' in the balance when riots start. Go back home and tend to your puppies or kittens."

Aislinn raises a hand to place it over Cordelia's in a display of solidarity and gratitude. "Does the message left by the water mean nothing to you?" she asks Lucien, though she turns to address the question to Jain as well. "There is truth in it, whether or not its delivery was just."

The expressionless, stony eyes of the militiamen standing around Jain remain as unresponsive as Lucien has been; Duncan's soldiers are not known for their compassion, and there are probably some feelings of resentment toward Aislinn for having the audacity to come and beg for the lives of instigators before treating the injuries they received.

The crowd of civilians, though unable to hear the exchange, is much more vocal. Those who lost family and friends in the warehouse fire and explosion finally have individuals with faces to blame. It makes little difference whether the workers being lined up against the wall stole the explosives — they acted in support of those who did, and that is enough to make them guilty in the eyes of the townspeople.

Someone throws a bottle. It misses its intended target and smashes against the wall instead, showering the condemned workers with pieces of broken glass.

Lucien looks at Cordelia, smile thin, able to achieve something condescending with his subtle expression. "Your family has always had the luxury of being less mercenary," he says, ignoring Aislinn for the moment. "Wonderful merchants and engineers, I know our ancestors got along famously. But this is a security matter, on Rowntree property, and we've always allowed them to supply us our sense of security as freely as the Rosses do their electricity. If you would rather not be here, girl, there's no shame in that." When he looks back at Aislinn, his expression is closed once more, as hard as a steel trap. "The message by the water means a great deal to me."

And he leaves it at that. To Jain; "Your opinion, as nuanced as ever, Mr. MacCruimein, is appreciated; but for now, just get your gun out." He quickly glances over the faces of the militiamen, variously bruised and bloodied, and rests on one. "You too, Mr. Fogg."

Impassive through interjections and smashing glass alike, Algernon is unremarkable among his peers, save perhaps for the presence of his hat. It stands him out, and so calls attention to the blue-blooded bone structure beneath it, brows lifted slightly out of their distracted set. Not certain he's heard correctly.

A beat of steely eye contact later, once there can be no doubt that he has, he reaches to release a catch at his holster and draws the long nose of his revolver out after it. Nickel plating is grey and wet as the weather, uneven polish in need of refinishing never quite achieving a glint. The barrel is kept pointed loosely at the grit about his boots. Awaiting further orders.

Eyes narrow, first at Jain's talk of kittens and puppies, and then at Lucien's condescending expression and words before Cordelia cringes at the bottle smash.

She turns to see the aftermath, then looks back to Lucien. The irritated look is gone from her face, transplanted by one that is as diplomatic as she can make it. She's not quite her mother's daughter, but the breeding is there.

"It's Rowntree property, yes. Then why not let a Rowntree make the decision for the time being, Mr. Bassingthwaighte?" Not herself, no, she's only half a Rowntree, and a child in the eyes of those present. She nods to Aislinn, to indicate what she means.

"What would be harmed if they are simply put behind bars and kept guarded until my uncles can get here? A delay won't hurt anything, could it? If anything, it simply shows that we deal out justice more fairly than blindly. How can that be a bad thing? I don't see that it can."

Pistols pulled from holsters at his hips, Jain steps forward and holds them up for Lucien to see. With his back to the crowd, he doesn't see who threw the bottle that goes whistling by but at the smash, he's turned with both pointed out to the crowd. One of his arms might resemble a sprinkler from olden times, the way it jerks from one head to the next. In the end, the threat of shooting everyone is effective enough to keep himself feeling a little more confident.

"Delays in swift justice give ample time for escape or further incitement," his not too quiet answer to Cordelia's stall tactics isn't loud enough for anyone beyond the militia or the battling family representatives to hear. "Punishment for crime is meant to be carried out quickly and without prejudice. If you allow the rioters to believe that the behavior will be tolerated, it'll be repeated."

Aislinn has less faith in the power her married name gives her than Cordelia does. Her already solemn expression turns black. "You're making a horrible mistake," she says. "One that will bring down the wrath of the righteous down on all our heads."

The docks master takes what appears to be a patient breath in as Cordelia talks (and talks) and out again as Jain also talks, standing impassive at this exchange of words with his hands linked together. "Regardless," Lucien says, after a moment, "Marcus Rowntree has made a decision and his off-spring have yet to inherit the power to deny it, and so far, no saints have ever overruled him. Either take your complaints to him, or stand back; the masses are restless." A flick of a glance towards of one the militia men as escort indicates some sort of silent request, enough that he moves to shadow between the Rowntree wife and the Ross girl, and the events about to unfold.

Lucien turns a shoulder to them both, barely looking at the six bodies condemned to death. "Shoot now, gentlemen, and then one last to their heads when they've fallen. The women have injuries to tend to and it seems I can't be shaken of them 'til all is done."

There's a mechanical resistance about Fogg's movements that betrays reluctance better than he is able to hide, in Jain's more exuberant shadow. He is slow to step forth and his shoulders lift over a leaden breath once he has, hammer thumbed back with the exhale. Looking at the line of men (and women) to be executed, rather than Lucien, or Aislinn, or Cordelia.

He shoots the female first, square between the eyes, technically skipping a step and across Jain's domain of prospects. The shot rings shrill in his ears, briefly dampening the prattle of runoff from the brim of his hat. A second cock spins the cylinder on to the next round.

"They'd only escape if you didn't do your job right," Cordelia can't help but snipe at Jain's interruption, but then the command is given, and she's at a loss for words; she turns to look at Aislinn, as if to find a solution there since the current strategy is failing, their pleas on all but deaf ears.

The gunshot draws a squeak from the girl, and though she's there to help support the injured Aislinn, she buries her face against the blonde's shoulder in a way that belies her attempt to discuss the matter like an adult just moments before.

Without heed to the pleading of Rowntree woman or Ross child, Jain's trigger is pulled back a half blink after Algernon's shot is fired. Apparently he's not as good at aiming at the victims since his seem to crumple to the ground screaming as blood blossoms on various parts of their clothing. One in the knee, one in the gut, another in the shoulder.

The woman is saved the agony, thanks to his compatriot's mercy.

His first volley of shots doesn't end until all six are down, dead or not. Then he points his pistols into the air, the ends of their barrels still smoking as he assesses how many bullets he's wasted in total. Too many.

Aislinn pulls Cordelia into her, arms cinched tight around the girl's shoulders, and presses her own face against the top of her dark head. Death is something that she should be exposed to, and the physician has never shied away from refusing to shield her from it before, but murder

Murder is a different creature entirely.

It happens very fast, so fast that the people toward the back of the crowd are too late to see much of anything when they try shouldering their way closer to the front at the sound of the first shot. By the time they get there, the screams of anguish from the family members of the condemned are already rising from inside the factory.

One of the men shot in the torso, hands clutching at the wound, rolls over onto his side and bares bloodied teeth at the gunmen. A low, desperate growl rumbles up from the pit of his chest. Breathing takes an excrutiating amount of effort and speaking even moreso, but he makes an attempt. All of two syllables:

"Ivan—"

It is a threat. A promise. A plea. He expires a few moments later.

Lucien watches on in abstract approval as the first is killed in a head shot; Lucien is less about mercy, and more about tidiness. The messiness in which Jain fells the next strike him more as stupidity and a lack of skill than cruelty, and it reads in his expression as his mouth twists in distaste, but. It is done. "If you're able," Lucien says, once the echoes from the gunshots have rung out, and the cries of the dying are dwindling, reducing in number, "then clean up and clear the audience. The injured should be seen to." This is accompanied with a glance towards Aislinn.

With nothing left to disperse, order, or organise, he is readying to depart and report to Marcus, and warn him possibly about the whining of women.

A wave of nausea blanches Fogg into a shudder when he rounds from the man dying at their feet onto Jain near his side, hackling tension carved clear through a sickle show of his teeth. Near face to face. The round he plunges into the skull of the aforementioned serves as point-blank reminder of the four more he still has loaded, presumably in counter to MacCruimein's zero.

Still, he keeps the revolver pointed down between them when he leans in further still, voice flinted down to a base growl that probably isn't as private as it's meant to be. They are awfully exposed, even with Lucien turning away and the bare fringes of all companies present beginning to disperse. "Who taught you how to shoot."

Luckily, Cordelia didn't see the bloodbath but cringes with each shot, and then takes a shaky breath. There's work to be done, and she lifts the bag of supplies she'd rested on the ground, shouldering it and lifting her chin — eyes set anywhere but the wall where the accused now lay dead.

She looks to Aislinn, pressing lips together to keep them from trembling and nods, then turns to leave this room. "Not here. Anyone who needs medical attention, bring them to the next room over," she says decisively, not willing to spend another moment in this spot, apparently. She keeps her hands on Aislinn's arm to make sure her mentor is steady, to lead them to another room to use as a makeshift infirmary.

"No one," Jain answers, tucking the pistols away and settling his hands into his pockets with. It's an uneasy calm that seems to overtake him as he watches the bodies of the dead, his back turned to the dispersing crowd.

"I've always found guns so impersonal and unsatisfying," he adds as he takes a few steps toward the exit, not offering to help clean up or clean the audience as per instruction. "It's a cowards way to kill, not looking a man in the eye as you take his life."

Inherently, Lucien is good at sensing patterns in the weather; he feels the dissolving of tension in the sky as rain comes down upon their heads and drizzles into puddles of blood, the direction of the wind, and the balance of the temperature. He is also a ship captain and can sense the same things in his own crew as well on a less preternatiral level, and there is a tone to the voice just in his periphery that tells him of a storm brewing. He pauses before he can get to where his horse is tied, twisting a look back towards the picture Algernon and Jain make together.

"Mr. Fogg," he interjects, voice ringing out, before he actually knows what to follow that with. "Go get your face seen to." That is also code for stand down, lacking the by your leave quality his tone usually holds.

There's a quavering quality to the breath Fogg scorches out through his teeth after Jain's retreat, incredulous in a shift of weight to follow that promises violence sooner rather than later. It takes him a moment to realize his name has been called accordingly, sharp profile turned on a swivel back to the source. Caught.

Then he's off in the opposite direction as instructed, gun holstered and chin tucked to collar. Walking fast. Not quite a flounce.