Diplomacy – The Beginning

Beginning | Spring 1901

Been a while since my last post on this blog. I have been hard at work on my original story ideas over on Card Forge. In my free time I have been playing a variety of board games and at the Elementary School I work at a fifth grade teacher showed interest in “Diplomacy”.

Recently the class has begun playing the game and I figured I would keep a record of each turn for the fun of it.

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For those unaware, Diplomacy is an old board game that is based on the seven powers of Europe at the start of the 20th century. United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Ottoman Empire.

In the game each nation has fifteen minutes to talk and make deals with one another. These deals can be made at the table or in other rooms, wherever.

Then each nation writes down the orders of what their units will do on the board. Once written, the orders are read aloud and every unit moves simultaneously.

Every unit has the same power, so if two units bump heads then it is a “tie”.

To win in Diplomacy, players need to gain a total of eighteen supply depots (stars on the map). To reach this goal they have to make allies to support them and beat “ties”. To reach this goal players also have to choose when to trust or back stab others.

It is a game that can get quite brutal.

In this instance we have seven teams, each team is made up of three to four students each, with one as a captain.

Due to time constraints, each team is given ten minutes to talk with others then five minutes to write orders and discuss among themselves. Then the captains bring their orders in and I or the teacher read aloud the orders and move the appropriate pieces.

The picture above is the starting positions of the Armies (Square pieces) and Fleets (Rectangle pieces).

Without going any further in detail, here is the BoardGameGeek link with far more info on the game.

Next post will be the first six months of the game, Spring 1901.

Below is a short little summary I made of each nation to give some historical background for the students to read. Enjoy!

Backgrounds of the Seven Nations

Austro-Hungarian Empire

Also referred to as Austria-Hungary was a constitutional Union of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Union lasted from 1867 until 1918, falling apart due to its defeat during World War I.

Capital – Vienna, second capital – Budapest

As one of the great powers of the world, Austro-Hungary was geographically the second largest country in Europe and It was the third most populous. The country built up the fourth largest machine building industry in the world. It became the third largest manufacturer and exporter of electric home appliances and power generation apparatus for power plants.

The main language is German and Hungarian with a mix of other languages, Czech, Croatian, Italian, Polish, Romani, Romanian, Rusyn, Servian, Slovak, Slovene, Ukrainian, and Yiddish.

Like the United States, Austro-Hungary could be considered a melting pot of cultures but instead located in the heart of Europe.

Its government had three parts to it.

The Austrian government with its own parliament and Minister-President. Currently in 1901 the Minister-President was Ernest von Koerber

The Hungarian government with its own parliament and prime minister. Currently in 1901 the prime minister was Kalman Szell

Then both parts connect to the third under the Monarch himself. Franz joseph I of Austria, a well-respected leader who will end up ruling for 68 years and have the third longest reign in the history of Europe. He led Austria into the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867 which formed the Austro-Hungary Empire in the first place.

Now at the start of the 20th century the Austro-Hungarian Empire is poised to continue to grow with its economical strengths and progressive ideas. It’s a country surrounded by neighbors who it has already fought wars with in the last century.

Your goal is to spread the power of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and survive. There are rumors and talks throughout Europe of fear of a new war. Tensions are rising across Europe. Unfortunately for the empire, there destiny is to fall at the end of this great war, unless you can change its fate and strengthen its power before it is too late.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

From 1801-1922 the set of British Isles was all unified under the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This period began when the Kingdom of Ireland merged with Great Britain.

Capital – London

An island nation that has grown with the rest of Europe became the dominate force by 1815 after it defeated France in the Napoleonic Wars. With its Royal Navy, it kept its hold on the world for the rest of the 19th century.

During such an era of rapid economic and industrial growth, the United Kingdom was at the forefront. It expanded its domain across Africa and Asia and influenced the world economy through trade.

Its power over the world is impressive when compared to the size and population of other nations at the time such as Russia, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, or China.

The population is dominated by citizens who speak English and are natives from the various parts of the kingdom – England, Wales, Scotland, or Ireland.

The government is a Parliament which answers to a monarch.

During 1901 the prime minister is Robert Gascoyne-Cecil

The current Monarch is Edward VII who will lead a short reign of only 9 years. During that time though he pushed trade and manufacturing for the country. The constant progress made his people confident that Britain would continue to advance as a nation.

Now with the start of the 20th century and a new monarch, there are rising tensions within Europe of war. As a power you must continue to stay strong so as to please the citizenry. Can you navigate this complicated political situation of Europe and prepare the United Kingdom for the Great War that is to come? Or will the Kingdom fall before the Great War even begins? Its destiny is to survive to the next century, but one wrong step might change that fate.

French Third Republic

Also referred to as France was the system of government after Napoleon fell from power in 1870. This new form of government would last from 1870 to 1940 when it will be occupied by German forces in World War II.

Capital – Paris

The early days of the Third Republic was dominated by political disruptions due to the fall of Napoleon. Due to harsh reparations from the Prussian War, the loss of Alsace (A French region), social upheaval and the establishment of the Paris Commune (A radical socialist government that caused large riots in Paris).

In all this struggle France decided to keep its Republic instead of re-establishing a Monarch. A return to its progressive roots, where the French First Republic back in 1792 was one of the first Republics to appear in the world.

Even with the issues above, the French Third Republic prospered, turning a rural nation of peasants into modernized citizens. The nation has continued to lead as a global center of the arts, sciences, and philosophy. The nation leading as a country for tourists to visit.

During this time France would even introduce innovative ideas such as the “Department Store” with its opening of the Le Bon Marche in Paris in 1838.

At the start of 1901 the current president is Emile Loubet, the 45th president from 1899 to 1906. During his time, he saw the successful Paris Exhibition in 1900 as well as forging the entente with Great Britain, resolving their disagreements over the Boer War and the Dreyfus Affair.

Now at the start of the 20th century, France stands to lose much of its people over the next century during both wars unless it can get into a better standing position in Europe. Luckily France will enter the 21st century but at great costs.

Will you gain a superior position for France before the first Great War and save its people great strive? Or will you continue the status quo? Or even worse, cost France its chance at even surviving into the next century.

The Russian Empire

Also known as Russia, this country existed from 1721 until 1917 when a revolution swept across the country.

Capital – Saint Petersburg

The empire stretched over three continents and was only beaten in landmass owned by the Mongol Empire and the British Empire (When Britain colonization was at its peak).

Predominately an agricultural base economy, the empire made huge strides throughout the 19th century to industrialize and improve its work force. Additionally, it took after the advances of Europe and began to focus on a more modern, scientific, and rational system of policy, a drastic change from its once medieval and traditional ideas.

Through the success of various wars and land grabs throughout its nation, a single monarch was capable of leading the nation to great success. This success led to its neighbors fearing it.

With its massive stretch of land and large population of 125 million it could easily stomp over any opponent. Its strengths were also its weakness as what held back the empire was its size and slower speed at modernizing its land.

With the start of the 20th century the empire is currently ruled by Emperor Nicholas II. He is nicknamed Nicholas the Bloody by his political adversaries due to the Khodynka Tragedy, Anti-semitic pogroms, and Bloody Sunday. He would witness the empire go from being a foremost great power of the world to economic collapse during World War I.

You are tasked with holding the territory of the Russian Empire and expanding it. You must use your current strength to weaken your neighbors in preparation of the future. If you fail to do this then the empire is sure to fall once the Great War starts and your neighbors swing their superior machines of war against you.

The German Empire

Also known as Germany, it existed from 1871 with the unification of Germany to 1918 where a Civil War will begin within its borders at the end of World War I.

Capital – Berlin

For a young empire, Germany was quick to industrialize its lands and bring its 26 states ever closer with the mobility of technology. This action would lead Germany to becoming the largest economy in Europe by 1900, even surpassing the United Kingdom. Becoming the second-largest economy in the world, only behind the United States.

Germany boasted a rapidly developing rail network, the world’s strongest army, and a fast-growing industrial base. In less than a decade it had the second largest navy only behind the British Royal navy.

A semi-constitutional monarchy, the empire had both an Emperor and Chancellor who worked together to keep the nation together.

The emperor at this time was Wilhelm II from 1888-1918, a bombastic and impetuous leader he would lead the nation to the Great War by supporting Austria-Hungary during the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

The chancellor was Bernhard Von Bulow from 1900-1909, who spent much of his time trying to be on Wilhelm II good side and defending all foreign policy that Wilhelm II took part in such as the Triple Entente between Italy and Austria-Hungary.

Now with the start of the 20th century, Germany has a lot to lose in the coming years. You must defend the mighty empire’s land and keep it in its good standing if not improve it. To fail is to doom the empire to its fate that awaits it at the end of the Great War.

The Kingdom of Italy

Also known as Italy, lasted from 1861 when King Victor Emmanuel II was crowned king of Italy to 1946 when civil discontent would lead to abandonment of the monarchy in favor a republic.

Capital – Rome

Italy only recently unified was heavily divided between its northern and southern land. Living standards to the south were drastically lower compared to the north, a divide that even lasts to modern times.

An agricultural state, Italy would struggle for a period of time to catch up with its neighbors, however with entrepreneurial efforts of small family-owned firms, the nation would begin to rise.

These entrepreneurial efforts weren’t the first of their kind as Italy has been a place of many cultural advances which in turn spread across the world. One such being the Renaissance that brought renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration, and art.

As a constitutional monarchy, it was led by Victor Emmanuel III from 1900-1946. Nicknamed Re Soldato (The Soldier King) for leading Italy through both World Wars, he witnessed Italy through many struggles and the rise and fall of fascism within the country.

With the entrance into the 20th century, the nation has much to gain as a power in the coming years. However currently it is weak as a Great Power of Europe and is vulnerable to attack. Can you strengthen Italy in preparation of what is to come, or will you allow it to fall against your stronger neighbors?

The Ottoman Empire

Also known as Turkey is one of the world’s oldest empires lasting from 1299 when Osman I founded it to 1922 when the allies dismantled the country after World War I.

Capital – Constantinople (Known as Istanbul in modern times)

During this time the empire was in decline, constantly defending itself from foreign invasion and occupation.

Even with decline and loss of territory, the empire began a great modernization of its land known as Tanzimat. This led to a fairly modern conscripted army, banking system, replacement of religious laws with secular laws, and creation of guilds with modern factories. With the promise of equality of citizens regardless of ethnicity and religion.

During this period the empire focused on strengthening its central power and connecting its territory through the rapid creation for railways.

The empire was ruled by a single leader, the Sultan. During this period the leader was Abdul Hamid II from 1879-1908. He is considered the last sultan to have full control as during his reign the changes he caused would create opposing reactions leading to the empire becoming more isolated and for groups of radicals to threaten the power of the empire.

Now the Empire is nearing the end of its more than 600 years of existence. At the end of the Great War it is destined to fall apart. Can you lead it from this inevitable decline towards a bright future? Or is the Ottoman Empire fated to fall apart no matter what?

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Black Market of Darg

Third chapter of this story with Jax Denek! Definitely check the links to read the previous chapters if you have not!

My Kickstarter is still going on for Cat Collector, I could definitely use any support! Cat Collector

Either way as always enjoy the story!

Link to Ch. 2: Predator’s Club

Link to Ch. 4: Check back later!

***

Thunder echoed in the distance the storm having long passed. A light drizzle of rain fell, the dismantled sky cover littering puddles across the street. Beads of water slid down Jax’s long trench coat dripping off his bushy, reddish-brown tail. A light breeze swept through the street, the few other animals sharing the path with Jax quickly moving along, huddled in worn, dirty clothing.

Keeping a steady pace, he glanced around for any danger his paws deep in his pockets to appear relaxed, but ready in a moment to reveal his claws. Taking several turns through the maze-like city he came out onto a street that appeared to be abandoned, trash littering the floor. Looking around for the marker, Jax spotted the black paw print plastered over the road sign with the name ‘Darg’. He crossed the road heading for the subway access. A broken gate crossed the entrance, sections torn off long ago with visible muddied tracks heading below. Ducking low he pushed through the tight entrance taking care to not get his coat snagged on any of the protruding metal.

Waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dark tunnel his ears perked at the echoes of voices coming below. He started his descent down the stairway the voices growing louder. A group of possums came into view only glancing in his direction before they resumed their bickering to one another.

Reaching the bottom Jax was greeted to an assortment of tents and boxes propped up as storefronts lining the large abandoned terminal. Long strips ran across the ceiling connecting to pillars creating a zigzag of cover to block water dripping from tiny cracks in the high ceiling. The place was humid, made hot by the various metal containers filled with burning trash. Several animals sat around the containers talking with one another, a couple playing instruments for idle entertainment.

A whiff of discarded trash and smoke filled his nose. Exhaling with a snort he moved in studying his surroundings intensely for any sign of danger. The first of the tents proving as innocent as they could be in such a dark place, selling an assortment of miscellaneous items some of which could be described as simply trash. The dirty, ragged owners of various tents tried to grab his attention, quickly giving up to attack the next passerby. Curses and yelps echoed behind Jax, a disgruntled shop owner growling furiously at another animal who had tried to steal, quickly finding themselves in a scuffle.

Ignoring it Jax continued on, heading deeper into the makeshift place. A twang of a guitar string caught his attention, briefly turning to a fireplace surrounded by several animals smoking and drinking heavily all listening to the tune played by a bull, an incoherent mess of notes stopped abruptly by the bull taking another swing of his drink and passing out promptly. A cacophony of laughter erupted from the huddled animals who took more drinks before passing around a dirtied jug, cursing at any spilled liquor.

Shaking his head he moved on, tents around him becoming more lavish and rich in material, clear their owners have lived in this place for a long time and gained power in some way. Several animals walked around with a certain glare, acting as guards for the owners who now sold more then simple trinkets and trash. Drugs of various kinds lined tables, mixed with illegal guns, tools, chained animals, and jars filled with chemicals of various kinds. Glancing between tent flaps and make shift doors Jax caught glimpses of more expensive tools and weapons. A nearby muffled cry cause his ears to perk, peeking between a gap of a door he grimaced at the sight of a reindeer, her horns being sawed off by a lion and an iron brand close by being heated in a furnace.

Moving away, his ears perked at a low buzz of a power cutter nearby, turning the corner Jax spotted the large mole with a long tail and thick brown fur. His webbed fingers held the tool, chipping away at a chunk of metal before turning it off to inspect the piece closely, sniffing it curiously.

Approaching the mole, Jax saw more of the metal scattered around and a case laid out filled with plasma bullets, a common sight in this place.

The mole sniffed the air and turned his head in Jax’s direction, sniffing the air again. “What do you want?” He snapped, his voice thick with a heavy accent as if it was mixed with soot.

“Your attention, Viktor,” replied Jax in a stern tone, looking down at the mole, only standing at a quarter the height of Jax.

Viktor’s snout quickly pointed upwards sniffing at Jax, his gaze looking behind a pair of goggles. Twisting the lenses, the mole’s eyes appeared to become bigger behind the lenses. He grimaced as his vision cleared to see Jax standing there, “damn, come along then.” Viktor said before turning without any other words, moving through the doorway of his shop.

Reaching the doorway, Jax saw in the corner of his eye a slim leopard approaching, wearing a black armored vest and leggings, a sleek helmet with a dark red visor covered the face. The only identification that it was a leopard at all was the pattern of fur on the paws and the long tail that followed behind her.

The room was plain with a few containers closed by combination lock. A small hole in the corner went underground with more personal belongings of the mole. Walking into the center of the room Jax glanced back at the leopard who leaned casually against the wall beside the doorway. Turning back he kept his paws in his pockets, waiting for the mole who now sniffed the air a few times.

“How goes it, Denek?” Viktor asked, adjusting the lenses of his goggles in the dim light.

“Whats with the bodyguard, Viktor?”

“Always straight to the point…” Viktor replied with a sigh, “shes a guard I hired since my recent dealings.” He replied.

Glancing back Jax saw the leopard shrug and cross her arms. “Your recent ‘dealings’ wouldn’t have anything to do with plasma swords, would they?” He asked, crossing his arms.

Viktor sighed and turned to a case, turning its combination and opening it to reveal foam inside with empty spacing for thin rectangular shapes. “Yea, I had some until ‘they’ showed up.”

“You know the agreement with the agency calls for you to not deal in illegal weapons!” Jax snapped.

Viktor hissed in return, his small webbed hands balling up into fists, “don’t remind me the agreement Denek!” His nose exhaling a buff of air, “I’m to keep observation of the area and in return I’m protected from the law and can sell weapons to whomever as long as its not illegal weapons.” Viktor ran a finger along one of the open spaces in the foam, “I was performing what was required of me, I observed plasma swords coming through the area and decided I’d retrieve them, I was going to report them but they were stolen from me by a third party. No reason to report anything now, not like I’m gonna get protection or anything, so I return to doing my job as an observer!”

“If you really are an observer your doing a bad job! You planned on selling those swords!” Accused Jax.

Viktor chuckled, “if or if I wasn’t it doesn’t matter now. Your here to find out who took them, am I correct?”

“Yes,” he replied.

The mole smiled, “well it so happens in my task as an observer I’ve seen one of the thugs before. A bear that goes by the name of Raxid, though who that lizard friend of his was, I have no idea.” Viktor walked over to his hole, pressing a few buttons on an armband he had on. A moment later a small cube floated out of the hole and attached itself to the armband, new information scrolling past the small screen Viktor studied. “I knew there was a small chance those damn swords would cause me more issues so I had the forethought to leave a tracker on one of the swords. It’s in the warehouse district north of here, sector six. There is no guarantee it is still there, they might’ve already found the tracker and ripped it out or even have an ambush ready, its the best I can do for ya, Denek. So can you look past my mistake and we stay on good terms?”

“Yes, I’ll look over your ‘mistake’.” Jax sighed and offered his hand towards the mole, “as long as this information is what you say it is.”

“Come now Denek, my information never lies!” The mole exclaimed, “I always enjoy doing business with you, any other tanner would’ve had my hide.” Viktor chuckled, pulling the small orb out of the armband and placed it into Jax’s paw.

Holding the small orb carefully, Jax slid it into a pocket in his coat. “Continue observing, the agency approves of it. I’ll be going now, we’ll see each other again.” He said turning for the doorway, glancing to the emotionless visor of the leopard before heading out into the market again.

“See ya around Denek!” Viktor said, his nose sniffing again.

Predator’s Club

I have not gotten a chance to play any board games this past week so decided to write the next chapter of my short story involving Jax Denek. This chapter goes into a dark part of the city, hope you all enjoy it!

If you have not read the first chapter I highly encourage you, as this chapter wont make a whole lot of sense!

Link to Ch. 1: The Assignment

Link to Ch. 3: Black Market of Darg

***

Jax walked steadily along moving through the crowds that littered the sidewalk. Animals gawked at the storefronts with shop peddlers out trying to convince them to give up their cash for a whole assortment of products from tools, clothes, guns, trinkets, and home brew remedies to cure illnesses. The whole street was dark and dirty, no one wore anything prestigious in the way of clothing nor expensive technology, phones and wristbands two or three generations behind.

High above thunder rumbled within the thick clouds that covered the moon ready to burst with rain at any moment. The air filled with smog and an assortment of smells from shops was blown through the crowds by the winds bringing the oncoming storm. Several animals perked their ears or looked to the sky at the sound of thunder but then resumed what they were doing. Small spheres began to float out from nearby buildings creating a web of clear, thin fabric guiding the first drops towards tanks hidden beneath the ground, supplying the city its water.

Looking up Jax moved to the side beneath the cover, several spheres stolen for parts causing certain sections of the sidewalk to have no cover from the rain that began to fall. Other animals followed suit, avoiding the puddles starting to form on the sidewalk.

Tightening the collar of his trench coat around his neck, Jax shook himself slightly at a chill that came through the openings in the sky cover. He scanned his eyes along the storefronts seeing all sorts of items from jewels, electronics, stale looking food, vials filled with various colored liquids, and a range of other items, everything of low quality.

Turning down several streets, he came to the alleyway its address matching one of the predator clubs he was looking for. Moving down the tight corridor, he looked back at crowds passing the entrance the lights off of advertisements flashing down the dark path. Pulling his paws from his pockets he kept his claws ready at a moment’s notice to defend. Sniffing the air he quickly reached for a rag in one of his pockets, rubbing his nose at the scent of rotting food intermixed with the piles of trash deeper in the alleyway. His ears perked he went on keeping the rag tight around his nose.

Moving past the trash he came to a doorway at the end of the alleyway, knocking on it with the back of his paw he took a step back and waited patiently. Glancing down he made sure there were no visible bumps in his trench coat hiding the pistol on his belt. Hearing the sound of metal grating across metal he looked up to see a slit now revealed in the door. Two golden eyes peered out studying him closely.

“What do you want?” The voice was gruff but had a mix of a hissing snarl to it.

“I heard a predator can find solace here,” Jax replied returning the same intense gaze.

“Yes,” The voice snickered, “I enjoy testing you wolves.” The voice said before opening the door inward to reveal a black, muscled panther dressed in a vest and pants with plating beneath. A pistol along with a large club dangled from a belt around his waist. “Come in, we get plenty of you wolves here to join the fun.”

Jax nodded his head in return and walked through the doorway coming out into a tight hallway. “I appreciate it,” He replied.

“Just don’t cause any trouble, and do not howl, place is too tight to have a bunch of you wolves howling like maniacs.” The panther hissed before shutting the door and locking it, waving his hand towards another door down the hallway, “clubs that way.”

Fluorescent lights lit his path, a few flickering or dimly lit in need of being replaced. The hall itself was relatively clean, several stains still littering the carpet and along the walls. A constant vibration shook the air, the loud pumping music slightly muted by the heavy door Jax moved towards. Reaching a paw out to the handle he turned it coming out into a new room that expanded out in a large dome shape.

The room was lit by lights of various hues changing colors and hanging over tables to give a low ambience to the room and conceal any lewd actions. The music filled the ears not dampened in any way, a strange new song of electronic mixed with various instruments repeating a constant beat keeping the heart pumping. The loud music mostly drowned out the sound of heavy rain fall that filled the sky above, now pounding the roof of the club.

Moving along the side of the room, Jax’s eyes scanned over the occupants, various predators along with some prey filled the room. All the predators kept to their own respective corners of the room, the middle occupied by different prey and predators scantly clothed fulfilling orders for customers or performing a show in the center. He merely glanced over the females in the center, instead paying closer attention to the predators sitting in comfort around the room, looking for the two murder suspects.

Finding a booth he settled down ordering a drink from a gazelle that walked by. He looked out at his new perspective of the room at predators on the other side, not spotting anything of interest yet. Taking the glass offered to him by the returning gazelle he leaned back sipping the brown liquor, savoring the warmth in his chest.

Staying relaxed with his drink Jax sat for awhile, keeping tabs on all of the predators in the room, waiting to see if any of them would do anything suspicious. He adjusted in his seat in discomfort at the sight of a pair of dead rabbits being served to a table already filled with other meats, the group of predators happily munching away at the food and dumping alcohol in excess down their throats. His own inner instinct ached inside; the last time he had such a rich meal distant in his mind. Shaking himself he looked away from the feast to a group of new arrivals in the room.

The group was a mix of four predators, tiger, red fox, a coyote, and a harpy eagle. He took another sip of his liquor taking little interest in them until he got a glimpse of a handle to a weapon, its shape and thickness catching his attention.  He took a bigger gulp of the liquor and set the glass down, waving to the gazelle for another round. He kept the coyote in the corner of his eyes, watching him shift his baggy shirt over the weapon.

The group settled around a table, ordering drinks and sparking up an excited conversation its contents unable to reach Jax due to the loud music in the club. The coyote talked little among the four, his eyes constantly looking around. Jax looked away relaxing as he thanked the gazelle for the new drink and took a sip, watching the female jaguar dance on stage, her dress waving around her body moving to the new song that filled the room. A low rumble of distant thunder shook the place, the storm reaching its peak outside.

Milking the second glass of liquor slowly Jax moved his free right hand along the pistol hidden within his coat reassured by its heavy shape, a shiver ran through his body anticipation killing him. Taking a deep breath he relaxed watching the dancer some more, occasionally glancing around the room to not bring attention to himself, the coyote always in the corner of his eyes.

With another song ending in the room, the coyote stood up heading to the back of the club, the other three continuing to talk excitedly with one another. His eyes turned to the coyote, watching him enter a back door towards the restrooms further beyond. Finishing his own drink he made sure the other three were still heated in their debate as he took his stand and began moving along. He looked around seeing no one take notice of him besides the occasional glance which always returned to their own thoughts when he met them with his own gaze.

Reaching the back of the room he moved to the same door the coyote used and walked through coming into a small hallway. Moving down it he checked the storage closet, finding it locked then turned to the male bathroom. Placing his paw on the doorway he came into view of a worn bathroom, decorated with dark brown tiles and lit by a low golden glow in the room revealing stained marbled counter tops. Walking along the sinks he glanced into each stall, finding them all empty. Letting out a low growl of frustration he quickly exited the bathroom and checked the female bathroom coming to the same results. He moved further down the hall to a maintenance door for staff members.

Opening it he entered into a new hall that went a couple of different directions. Moving down one path he entered into a small lounge decorated with leather couches and a glass table, where he spotted the coyote talking with a large bat dressed in a cloak.

“How much for the pla-“The bat was saying before turning his attention to the new arrival, a hiss coming from him, “you were followed?”

The coyote turned, the weapon held in his hand, “what? Who the hell are you?” He snarled fur standing on end.

Closing the distance with a swift kick Jax reached his right paw out grabbing the coyote by the throat, his other paw ripping the weapon away, snarling he shoved the coyote down into the nearby leather couch. With weapon in hand he released the stunned coyote to grab at the bat who tried taking off with his wings to escape along the high ceiling, his paw wrapping around the bat’s ankles he ripped the creature down slamming it into the glass table shattering it and knocking the bat unconscious.

Turning his attention to the claw waving coyote he reached forward to wrap his paw around the neck of the coyote and shake him still, pinning the animal down with his knee and squeezing him against the cushions, “enough!” He snarled the coyote freezing up. “Tell me where you got this,” Jax asked, the weapon still in his left hand, the trigger near his thumb ready to be used.

“I…I got it from a dealer on Darg Road!” The coyote cried, “Please don’t kill me! I’m just trying to make a living!” He shivered uncontrollably beneath the heavy wolf pinning him.

“What’s the dealer’s name?” Jax snapped his lip curling to reveal teeth.

The coyote’s eyes widened as he panicked with thought, “Its, uh… Viktor!” He blurted out.

“Does he have more of these weapons?”

“I have no idea!” The coyote cried squirming beneath the heavy grip, the squeeze tightening around his neck causing him to squeak out a gasp of air before the grip loosened enough so he could breathe again.

“Who is this bat you were trying to sell too?”

“Just a friend of mine! He…he’s a weapons collector!” The coyote yelled, squirming some more beneath the heavy grip.

Growling, Jax lifted the coyote up and in one fell swoop slammed him into the carpeted floor, “What about your three friends you walked in with?” Jax snapped at the dazed coyote.

“Just…” The coyote began before shaking his head and gasping, a violent shake to his head bringing him back to awareness of the harsh gaze staring down at him. “They’re just three friends of mine!”

“Liar,” Jax snapped, lifting the coyote up slightly then slamming him back into the floor, some blood staining the carpet where a shard of glass had nicked the back of the coyote’s head. “Do you work for someone?”

“No! Never!” The coyote cried, “I’m a loner!”

“What about your three friends?” Jax growled again, pushing his knee into the coyote’s stomach. “Think long and hard before you answer.”

Letting out a cough, the coyote gasped for air trying to gather his wits as best he could, his eyes flickering open and closed to clear his blurred vision. “Alright, alright! The bird, he’s mentioned something about the Claws, but please! I beg of you, I don’t know anything more than that!”

Slamming the Coyote into the ground again, Jax stood up his claws deftly digging into different components and latches to the rectangular weapon in his hand, quickly dismantling it and pulling out the crystal of plasma inside which gave the weapon its lethal power. Throwing it into a nearby wall, the crystal shattered, staining the wall with blue plasma that oozed down the side, now useless. “Clean yourself up and consider yourself lucky,” Jax said turning away from the coyote to head back the way he had come.

Re-entering the club’s main room Jax loosened his trench coat, the opening giving him ease of access to the pistol resting against his hip. Unbuttoning the holster, he readied the pistol, flicking off the safety before letting the trench coat fall back into a resting place partially hiding the weapon. Coming around the corner he froze up, his eyes glancing around swiftly for his targets. He sighed cracking his knuckles and started to head for the exit of the club, moving past the table where the three predators had been before, now gone.

***

Notes

Link to Ch. 1: The Assignment

Link to Ch. 3: Check back later!

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