A Vibranni village made up of tribes pushed out of the coast. Not far Northwest of Astam Junction. It was a source of Vibranni labor for industries all over Antiford. It was full of primitive thatched huts. Tents of chanka hide. Racks of chanka meat not far away from racks of hunting spears. primitive fencing kept some chanka close at hand.
A place full of scandalously clad Vibranni females and feminine vibranni males. A place where not a boiler bubbled, as 'technology' was prohibited. There was only one, run down shack, called 'the Inn', where outsiders who needed to stayed an evening in exchange for some Ciam.
A more uncivilized place a gentleman could not find themselves.
Sandoval departed the Paddock's Carriage. He undid the safeties of both his revolvers before tucking them away into their holsters. He had clipped a single grenade to his belt. Turning back into the carriage, he retrieved a lever action rifle and check to ensure the safety was off for that as well. He adjusted his tinted glasses that had began to slide down the sweat of his nose.
Bobbies surrounded him, all armed with shotguns and rifles. Three Paddock's Carriages, full of armed men (and one woman).
Sandoval turned and eyed the village. Vibranni children had already made tracks, running for their parents. A few vibranni males cowered in fear, slowly walking away from the visitors or outright running for cover. Only a few females stayed and glowered in defiance. One ran off, but she was shouting in their harsh language.
"Savages," spat Sandoval, under his breath, "Boys, wake up the Savages, please."
Some of the Bobbies cheered, raising their rifles. The drivers of the Paddock's Carriages leaned down, pulling the whistle cords. Each engine that pulled along the carriages had a small steam whistle on them, and with all of them together, the piercing scream carried through the entire village.
A few more Vibranni fled in fear. Makeshift doors were thrown open, and curtains over openings cast aside. Vibranni women emerged, looking annoyed. Some of them set their faces into a stone example of indifference.
A few of them started walking out to the Police, forming a tight group. Some of the women towered over the others. Vibranni Alphas.
Everything about them was as if to accentuate how alien they were. The extra leg joint gave them a great height. Their tails were long and flexible, ending in a spade. Their skin was of a red that was unlike the tanning of skin used to the desert and the rays of Dimitrious. It was stained, as their souls, by their devouring of poison and their savage ways of life.
Sandoval did not fear them, but their appearance upset his stomach as they approached. One Vibranni female rose to her full height, looking down at Sandoval and his men with a blank face and piercing eyes.
"I would wish to welcome you to our village," she said, with measured accuracy to prevent her demon accent coming through, "However, I sense you do not come in peace."
"I'm Department Chief, The Honorable Judge Adrian Sandoval, enforcer of the law of the great nation of Antiford."
"What brings you here, enforcer of laws."
"Where are they?"
The Vibranni narrowed her eyes. Sandoval looked passed her, eyeing the Vibranni surrounding them and past them into the village.
"I am afraid you must speci-"
"The Hellion Robber," spat Sandoval, "The Demon Kid. The seductress of the desert. The Savage Sands. Whatever the hell name they are going by, I know they're here."
The female barred her teeth, "There is no one here by those disrespectful names. Unlike your village, ve do not tolerate thieves and murderers here."
"Then you won't mind if we have a look around."
"You have no right!"
"I have every right," said Sandoval, raising his voice, "See this badge? It labels me the law of this entire desert. Now step aside or be put in your place, witch."
Sandoval raised a hand to his mouth, and gave a short whistle. All at once the men spread out, and entered the village. Some Vibranni murmured or spoke out in protest, but many lowered their heads in defeat.
The Vibranni alpha who had spoken before looked around, panic settling in on her face. She lowered herself, even bending over slightly to look more directly at Sandoval.
"Please, we were assured our independence from your Technocrats," she said.
She stepped aside as Sandoval made his way through the crowd of Vibranni and into the village. He propped his rifle in the crook of his arm as he fished a wanted poster out from his pocket. He held it out for the Vibranni females around him to see. A crude drawing of an angular face with pointed ears and an impossibly wide smile was on the poster. A bowler hat on their head and a cloth mask barely covering their pointed nose.
"You are citizens of Antiford, and are thus subject to its laws," said Sandoval, "And when one of you goes rotten, they are subject to our justice. I have looked over every possibility, searched through every town. There is only one place they would go."
"I do not recognize this person," said the woman, "Please, your men-"
"Are doing their duty," said Sandoval, "Which we wouldn't have to do if you simply followed the simple rules of civility."
The Vibranni alpha bowed her head further down, her eyes desperately trying not to jump to the sound of a pot smashing and the cry of an infant.
"Please, sir Sandovich. Perhaps we can assist you if you would give us more than a drawing."
"Five-six," said Sandoval, "Five-seven, maybe. Male or female, can never tell with your ilk. Red-skinned. Dark hair. Hat and a red bandana are common across accounts. Robbery. Murder. Home invasion. Assault. Usually jumping men on the road but they have been known to gut a man while he sleeps."
"This would be an outsider," said the Vibranni, "Not many human men frequenting these parts. There is nothing of value to them here."
"That may be so," said Sandoval, "But don't wag your forked tongue at me. You aren't stupid in this way. You know what we're looking for. Anyone who comes and goes. Any Vibranni bringing you stolen wealth. Washing blood of their hands in the sand. Leaving and returning at all hours."
"There are several who fit such a description," said the alpha, "Sandovich, please. Your men are scaring my people."
"They wouldn't be scared," said Sandoval, mumbling under his breath as he scanned the village, "If they weren't hiding things from us."
His eyes painted over a meat rack, an older female sewing leather clothing from chanka hide, a pair of children hiding behind a pot. Sandoval grunted, as if to say he was unamused by the village. He saw Bobbies yelling into huts before entering, guns brandished. Somewhere else he could hear a Vibranni male crying as a Bobbie yelled orders at them. Somewhere, two officers burst into laughter.
Sandoval's eyes landed on a Vibranni male, making his way down a row of huts. He clutched in his hands some red cloth, and his eyes were wide as he looked around from place to place.
Sandoval furrowed his brow. Red cloth. Red handkerchief?
Sandoval took off at a march. The swiftness of his motion caught the Vibranni crowd who had been following him off-guard. The two Bobbies following close behind tensed, and took off to keep pace with him.
"Sir!" shouted the alpha female.
Sandoval bared down on the male, who turned and his eyes somehow got even bigger. He cowered in fear. Even the color appeared to drain from his face. Sandoval reach out and grabbed his hand, clutching the red fabric. He twisted, and the male whimpered in pain. His hand opened.
And a red handkerchief fell to the dirt.
Sandoval's face twisted into anger. This had to be the handkerchief of who they were looking for, but this sniveling coward he had caught could not have been the murderer. The Vibranni male practically vibrated in his grip.
So who was this male to the one he was looking for?
Sandoval braced his feet and ensured his knees were slightly bent. He jerked his body around, tossing the male past him and forward, onto the ground. This sent the male into hysterics, who began pleading and claiming innocence.
The Vibranni around Sandoval gasped and stepped back as Sandoval stood behind the crying Vibranni and placed the barrel of his rifle against the back of his head.
"Come on out, now," he yelled to the village, "We got your man!"
"No!" cried the Vibranni Alpha.
The Bobbies around had taken notice, and they raised their rifles, stifling cries and movement from the other Vibranni. The two closest to Sandoval turned and covered his back, their gun barrels pushing back the crowd.
"You can't," said an elderly Vibranni.
"Please, I beg of you!"
"Come on out! End of the line," said Sandoval, "I'll put a bullet right through-"
A pained scream tore through the air. A hut two down from where they stood, a curtain was thrown back, and a female Vibranni had run out brandishing a revolver. She had it cocked and pointed at Sandoval in an instant. Her face was in anguish.
"Nooooo!" she screamed, "Let Victor go!"
"Drop it!" yelled Sandoval.
Shouts of "Drop it" or "She has a gun" filtered through the crowd as Bobbies adjusted their aim towards the girl. The Vibranni around them gasped and murmurs of "Oh no," or phrases in their native tongue were let out.
"Nadia, no!" moaned the alpha Vibranni, "Please!"
"I'll put a bullet right into your head!" snarled the girl, tears streaming down her face, "I'll gut you. I'll kill every last one of you."
She descended into threats in her native tongue. Sandoval, however, glared her down with the rifle at the male's head.
"I'll do it," he said, "Get your dirty fingers off that trigger now!"
"A blindness on your lineage," she snarled, "May your tongue be eaten from your corpse!"
"No! Please. Sandovich! Nadia!"
A bloom of Bomarea erupted from her chest.
Two more shots rang out, blood bursting from her as she shook. Her knees gave way, and she was falling in moments. Sandoval was frozen to her revolver. Her hand went limp, and the barrel went wide.
She was on the ground in a moment. The whole thing was over before it began. Screams rang out. Vibranni ran. And the Vibranni woman lay dead where she stood a moment before.
The Vibranni male sobbed. He crawled along on the ground towards her, speaking in some harsh Vibranni language. Sandoval kept his rifle on him, but he didn't stop him from getting to the body. Sandoval chanced a glance sideways, seeing one of the officers who shot. His chest was puffed out, and he approached the body of the woman as a hunter would game.
Sandoval turned to observe the Vibranni behind him. The alpha was on her hands and knees. Her face was locked into a blank stare, but her eyes jumped from here to there, fighting back tears.
"Nadia," said Sandoval, catching the alpha's attention, "What a development."
He gave the village a moment for the gunfire to settle. The cries were plenty, now, and most of the Vibranni were hiding in their homes as most of the police had gathered to witness what would happen next.
Sandoval caught the eye of one officer, and motioned to the male Vibranni crying over the body, "accomplice."
The officer moved, removing shackles from his belt for the male Vibranni. Before anyone could protest, Sandoval had already turned on the Alpha females.
"Harboring a fugitive," he announced.
"No. No... you can't-"
"Obstruction of justice."
"You can't do this. You gunned her down!"
"Conspiracy to commit fraud," said Sandoval, "I don't care. Put 'em in chains!"
"You can't get away with this!"
"Why not?" said Sandoval, "Demons breaking the law? It's in your very nature. Uncivilized. Unnatural."
Sandoval watched as his Bobbies descended on the group, pulling shackles to bind them.
"You'll have your day in court," said Sandoval, "But it will be your last."