Part I - Bringer of Storms :: 22
Greer opened the door to the Sigil office and was met by the imposing stature of the Grand Watcher. He was a tall, greying man with sharp chin and thick brow. His body was hidden underneath gray robes adorned with red and black sashes.
"Grand Watcher," Greer stuttered out.
"Thank you Fielder."
The Protector moved to the side of the Grand Watcher and saw his father and Watcher Wilcox sitting at the Watcher's desk.
"Son," greeted his father, tipping his hat. Greer's father was short and stout for a feline, his shoulders sinew and thick. His fur had long ago turned gray, giving him the appearance of fuzzy smoke. His eyes were yellow and stern, never seeming to focus on you rather than in you. Even now his father's gaze made him uncomfortable.
Greer returned the brow tip. "Father. Watcher."
Wilcox tapped his hat's brim and then turned his attention back to Greer's father. They returned to what appeared to be an animated yet hushed conversation. Both men had quills and were marking a large piece of parchment. Greer raised a brow as he came to rest behind his own desk. The Grand Watcher had followed him over.
"They are discussing an urgent matter that just rose shortly before your entrance, Protector Greer."
"Ah," Greer replied, unsure of how to converse with the highest ranked official in the Sigil group.
"They will share their news soon."
"Mmm." Greer nodded and flipped open the log book. He began to fill out entries for the incidents he had reported to the night previous.
"Busy night?" asked the Grand Watcher.
"Yes sir," Greer replied, still writing. "Over a dozen fights on my beat alone."
"This district is in dire straights. I hear word in the Sash district that Protesting has been decreed without lawful merit and corporal punishment is allowed."
Greer stopped writing and looked up at the Grand Watcher. "Corporal punishment from who?"
The leader of the Sigil group smiled and shrugged. "That's the issue inherit. Who gets to dole out punishments. I wasn't consulted."
Greer sighed. The Machine was in many ways the Chop's only form of government outside of the by-district charters put into place after the Purge.
"Doesn't seem too fair, does it?" asked the Grand Watcher.
Greer began writing again and shook his head in reply.
"Fielder," called his father.
"Yeah?" he replied, putting his quill down.
"Yes sir, please."
Grunting, Fielder stood and walked over to Wilcox's desk. Laid on top of it was a large map of the entire Little Mill district. Multiple intersections of alleys and the main path were circled with numbers.
"That looks interesting," Greer said, still studying all the markings on the map.
"It's to help us welcome a guest," Wilcox replied, tapping the map at the bottom left corner, near the entrance into the Chop itself.
"The Union Leader has sent communication to HQ that he will be making his first appearance here. Ever," said Watcher Greer, Fielder's father.
"Why?" Greer asked.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say he's coming here to try to understand and put an end to the violence. He is their leader, after all," the Grand Watcher offered.
Wilcox and his father nodded.
"So what's our plan?"
"We make sure that both the Union and the Machine are not going to kill him or each other."
"That'll take more than two Sigil members," Greer replied, looking at his father.
"I know," replied Watcher Greer. "That's why we're deputizing fifty former soldiers to help out."
"Do you think that's wise?" Greer asked, frowning. "Former soldiers sometimes don't get a lot real well, especially if they fought on opposing sides."
"A risk we shall have to take, I'm afraid," replied the Grand Watcher. "We have to mitigate the unpredictable. Not exactly an easy task."
Greer nodded and turned to Wilcox. "So where does that put the investigation regarding Dumdall's murder?"
"On hold until we can get this handled. Solving one murder versus the potential for utter chaos in the district? I think I know which goal the people would want us to work on," replied his father, a deep frown on his face.
"And what of the dead Foreman in Sash or the dead Vice Chairman found after the explosion at the script store? You're not telling me you don't think them to be related?"
"Look, son, all in due time. We have a serious crisis on our hands here. Little Mille is lucky to have the Grand Watcher and the Sash Sigil office here to help. Without us, it'd be up to you and Wilcox to organize and plan everything. If you think last night was hard, imagine managing an entire day like that."
The Grand Watcher stood. All three looked to him. "Gentlemen. This is no time to bicker. Fielder, we will get the person or people responsible. You may continue the investigation. Watchers Greer and Wilcox, please continue prep and handle the training of the deputies. I doubt we have more than four or five days before the Union Leader shows. We can reach a compromise on this and do what's best for all of the people we protect."
All three Sigil members nodded in unison.
"Thank you sir," replied Watcher Wilcox with a slight bow. "We had forgotten our main duty."
The Grand Watcher waved him off. "I do not entertain the thought of you forgetting your duty, Wilcox. We are all passionate about our duties and sometimes get lost in that. I only ask-"
A knock at the door interjected.
"Come in," answered Wilcox from his desk.
A younger man dressed in a dark blue vest and gray shirt entered, limping. He had a large, deep purple bruise on the left side of his face. Dried blood was clinging to the corners of his nose, mouth, and eyes.
The Grand Watcher stood. "Sir, you're injured."
"Please sit. I am recovering. I have been asked by my boss, Chairman Parton of the Machinist Group, to report an assault. I am Vice Chairman Calor and I have a clear description of my attacker."
"Come in," replied the Grand Watcher. "Sit. We will take your statement."