RP:Planning in the shadows - Nemo lays the foundations of an organisation

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Nemo, having completed his commission for Kuzial, returns to Craven's Crew and is confronted with a demand for explanations.

A discussion is then launched which, if not killed in its infancy by outside forces, may create a new form of criminal organisation in Cenril.

In the hearts of the Cenrilli gang-members a sense of patriotism is rekindled, and a dream of a Cenril once again capable of defending itself from external predation, albeit by more covert means.

Only time will tell if this ember of a dream will develop into a bonfire, or burn down to ashes like so many other attempts to revitalise the once-great city.

A meeting in the safehouse of Craven's Crew

It was quiet when the shadow-wrapped form of Nemo entered the safe house. It had been a busy night, the assassin mused, as he recalled the events of the evening. Once away from Kuzial, the assassin had then slunk quietly through the alleyways back to the scene of the ambush. He'd noted with dispassionate approval the complete removal of the bodies and weapons. Too much blood had been spilled to conceal, but that could work to his advantage, Nemo considered. There was one thing missing though, something which tugged at the assassin's mind. A moment later he recalled it - the crossbow bolt Kuzial had deflected into the tree. The assassin broke into a slight run, hopped slightly to coil his legs, and launched himself at the lower branches, swinging himself up to hook his knees over another branch. A flex of his abdominal and leg muscles brought him up enough to place his hands on the branch and push himself to squat in his original position from earlier that evening. Closing his eyes, he reviewed the scene of the ambush through his mind, focusing on the initial ambush. Kuzial had sat... -there-, and moved like -this-, and the bolt went... Ahah! The assassin opened his eyes, shifted his gaze and located the drow bolt. A carefully judged leap cleared the distance, and Nemo examined the metal bolt lodged in the tree. The flight design was distinctly drow - which would be a problem at the present time. Kuzial's deflection granted the assassin a boon, however, as the enchanted drow blade had cut a chunk out of the bolt. Using his own blade, Nemo made the cut a little deeper, and with a little further effort snapped the quarrel, removing the most identifiable part of its making. Nemo had smiled behind his mask then, even as he did now in the dark silence of the safe house. He stepped into the meeting room to find all six members of Craven's Crew waiting for him. As Nemo entered, Craven spoke.

Craven was nervous, although be damned if he would show it. Nemo's plan had called for Korax and Vander to remain in the shack the previous evening. Instead, it had been Vander and Craven. Korax had taken a large risk that evening, using the recently-acquired drow Piwafwi to supplement his own talent for sneaking. The dark-haired cut-throat had slithered his way into the rubble of a broken down shanty to watch the arbor through a telescope. He'd been careful to note the moon's position so as to not give off a gleam, and had witnessed the fight involving Nemo and the Drow in full from the moment of the drow assassins' appearance. If Craven had not witnessed the aftermath of the massacre in the Funeral Parlour, he'd not have believed Korax' report that Nemo had slain two of the three drow - one of them a mage - who had ambushed the assassin and his apparent client. Still, fear of the shadowy man's talent for killing was pushed aside, and the tall lumbermill-worker-turned-gangleader spoke. "We need to talk, Nemo. And we need to talk plain. No clever words, no stirring speeches from behind your thrice-damned black mask. If you want a foothold in Cenril, and you want that foothold to be strong enough to endure the risk of subversion, you'll treat with us as honestly as you'd expect us to do in return." Craven nodded to Cluster, who picked up a large hessian sack and places it on the table with a rattle and clunk. Craven pulls out an item at random, which turns out to be a drow crossbow. "Twice now, Nemo, we have cleaned up after your feud with these drow. What other feuds have you brought with you from where-ever you came from? Do you endanger our city with your presence? Be warned - we of Cenril have suffered the shame of outsiders bringing this great city to its knees. We who once defended it from the bloody black lizards, only to see it fall to damned pirates, will choose a violent death rather than aid in its further disgrace. Unmask yourself, Nemo, and speak plainly. We shall grant you the opportunity to convince us, or to try your luck elsewhere."

Nemo was honestly surprised. He had underestimated the mettle of these men, it would appear. However, in their defiant demeanours they revealed a truth he had not previously considered. He had entered Cenril under a false assumption, believing the place a lawless haven of broken men and criminals. But here, in the flint-hard faces of these men he saw, not the cold flames of heartless bandits, but the stone-hard stoicism of patriots whose city had fallen despite their efforts. Patriotism was a flame which could be stoked to a powerful inferno, Nemo knew, one which could sweep away opposition, or destroy the man who sought to manipulate it. A hard decision was made then by the assassin, an abrupt change of plans , but made with the self-assuredness of a man who had survived countless shifts of circumstance. Nemo threw back his hood, removed his mask, and revealed his face. "My name must remain as Nemo, for now - for your safety more than mine - but by these scars you know my true face. Mine is a distinctive visage, easily investigated and identified. I caution you, though, to avoid seeking my identity for a full month, lest you bring unwanted and fatal attention upon yourself. After a month, you shall have the strength to survive knowledge of my true identity, and I shall likely have no need to hide it from you." Nemo could tell the six men in front of him were unsatisfied with that answer, had known they would be, and so the assassin continued. "I will be honest with you, gentlemen. My initial plan was small in scope: I would set myself up with some turf in a quiet part of Cenril, and live comfortably, creating something of a home for myself here, away from a past I would distance myself from. A broken city for a man with a broken past. The symmetry seemed appropriate." Haggard grumbled at that point "It aint entirely broke yet, chum", before Craven silenced him with a quick look. Nemo carefully noted the exchange. "You are right, Haggard. It isn't. Which is where I realised my plan was too simple, and perhaps a bit too selfish. I am a man with an obsession for order. I like things neat. Tidy. The chaotic flood of life directed through the dams and dykes of organisation. In a broken city, a small corner would have sufficed. But in a city only on its knees, awaiting a chance to become great again? That will not do."

Vander broke out laughing "What's this? Ye see yerself as a bloody guv'nor now, do ye?" Craven grimaced "Shut it, Vander. He's a trap-mouthed bastard, so let him speak before we lose the opportunity for the miracle of an actual explanation behind his actions." Craven nodded to Nemo "It's a valid question though, Nemo. You're talking of organisation, of rebuilding the city? Unless you're trying to set us up for a foreign takeover, you're a few walls short of a house. The city isn't going to accept a corrupt or foreign governor any time soon. What do you have planned, and why do you think it'll work? And why are you telling us? I know you ain't afraid of us, so the sudden grand speech has me right bloody suspicious." Craven shut up, and waved his hand at the others to indicate they should do the same, giving Nemo the space to speak once more.

Nemo inwardly sighed. Patriots were powderkegs if handled incorrectly, and one misstep would undo the foundations laid by his actions of the previous weeks. Still, honesty counted a lot for such people, even if they were criminals. "You misunderstand me, Vander. I do not want to rule or govern the city. I am no masochist, who enjoys the torment of paperwork and overseeing grand bureaucracies. No, what I want is to create an organisation -within- the city which will let it rule itself. There are places which thrive in the absence of a centralised governance. My homeland, once upon a time, was ruled by bickering factions, who nonetheless kept society running. The drow, whose corpses you stripped, are not so much my enemy as they are collateral damage in their version of politics: rival Houses vying for power in a ruling council. Faction. House. Gang. Different words for a group of people who act towards a collective goal. Only one of these three doesn't also ring synonymously with 'part of government'. But that need not prevent us from setting such a precedent." Nemo paused a moment, his sharp eyes passing over his audience, letting the thought sink in a moment "What I propose, gentleman, is a shadow government - a ruling council of the foremost gangs of Cenril. Codes of conduct for our conflicts, arbitration over complex disputes which would affect the overall rate of Cenril's recovery from its recent catastrophes. I do not wish to rule - but I want to help you create a system of rule, so that I can build myself a stable home here, one where I do not rule, but have influence." Another pause. "And there, gentlemen, is -my- stake in this. A home and an influential word from the shadows on the rare occasions when I may require assistance or a blind eye gained for my personal projects. And I am willing to risk my life in this matter, much as I did when I retrieved you from Sawtooth's trap. One of the gangs in the council must be yours, which means I must build your strength. We can be in this together, or not at all." Nemo then stopped, giving the floor back to Craven and his men.

Craven blinked "You're mad. But... it could work." He tapped his fingers on the table. "It would take time, and a lot of blood shed, but it could work." The others kept quiet, letting their leader turn over his thoughts carefully. He wasn't a fast thinker, Craven, but when he got started, his thoughts had the slow and inexorable momentum of a lumberjack working his way carefully through a large tree. "Grot made inroads, so did the Duke. Then the bloody pirates brought in allies, and cut the duke down. Word spreads fast in Cenril, Nemo. You'll need to be aware of that. Secrets don't stay secret for long, and there's always outsiders wanting to keep this city in the mud, where they can use it at will, like a broken-down whore. But if you can help get our lady on her feet again, and in the arms of her own men, then we've a common goal." Vander looked at Craven "Are ye bloody serious? We know nothing about him! You said yerself he could be undercutting us from a foreign power!" Korax interjected "Don't be an idiot, Vander. A foreign power would find the most powerful group in Cenril, not the one about to be cut to pieces by a rival gang. Nemo's a cagey bastard, but we owe him one for the funeral parlour. I reckon we give him the chance to make good on this plan. Worst case scenario, it fails, and we die. We would have been dead already, without Nemo's intervention, so what does it matter if this plan goes foul?" Short, baby-faced Dart spokes up for the first time, twirling a crossbow bolt between his fingers "That's some pretty twisted logic, Korax. But I see your point. And I wouldn't mind sharing in a bit of future glory if things go well." Haggard and Cluster look at each other, then look at Craven, in a fashion the gangleader easily translates to "We're with you either way, for old times' sake". Craven sighs, rubs his temples a moment while the others bicker, then stands up. "It's decided. Craven's Crew are yours for as long as it takes to form this council, unless death takes us first. So what is the first step. There's only seven of us, yourself included."

Nemo inclined his head gravely in acknowledgement. "The new structure starts here and now. I can tell that some of you have military backgrounds - either army or militia" The assassin nods to Haggard and Vander, then Cluster and Craven. "So you will be comfortable, I think, with a quasi-military arrangement." Vander jumped in, then, with "The bloody army again? An army of seven? You -are- mad." Nemo smiled in response to this, cold eyes glittering "Seven for now. But not forever - we must plan for Cenril's future. For yourselves to have the power and authority to take a place on the Cenril Council, if we can get it formed, you will need to recruit. Indeed, to ensure the council is formed, we shall need the numbers, strength, and influence to bring about such a change in the perspective of the other gangs. Now, where was I?" Nemo then spent hours with the men, laying out his ideas for the structure of an eventually enlarged gang, discussing the best way to handle hierarchy and logistics of recruitment. The better part of a day passes, but a shape forms for the future. In the end, the men are in agreement, and slowly within the hearts of Craven and his men is rekindled the flame of hope for a Cenril which was not trodden upon by outside influences.