The Empress of India

TEoI 11 - Tangles and knots

The day of the Russian invasion of Delhi

The Wondrous devices

When the airships sank below the cityscape, Devasheesh and Gubdan hurried to the safehouse to rally the others. They found the house mostly empty: Uma was keeping watch on England House and Jagjit was stoned out of his mind in a corner. Uma estimated that only one or two Russians remained in the Embassy after many of them left in a hurry when the shelling began.

They slipped across the courtyard and into the Embassy through a door left carelessly ajar. The house was quiet. They made it to the cigar room where they found two large crates. Beyond, they could hear a Russian having a bathroom break in the lavatory. Dev bursted in, shoved the man off the potty and beated him into unconsciousness. Uma kept guard while Gubdan confirmed that the crates contained one or two disassembled wondrous devices.

At this moment, Maritje and Har arrived in the Embassy’s main hall and were coldly received by Uma at first. They, too, ran back to the safehouse and even tried to wake Jagjit to make him talk. The Punjabi crew swept England House and found no other Russians. Devasheesh had to leave to meet with the lancers hiding out of the city across the valley. Gubdan and Martije were left in charge.

The Punjabis and Martije decided to remove the crates and take them to the safe house before the Russians came back. The two wooden crates were about 150lb each, filled with straw and machine parts covered in machine grease and wrapped in paper. Gubdan figured out that part of the device was a steam engine and that, with enough time and tools, he could put them together.

They decided that it would be wise to leave Delhi while chaos was raging. They scrounged a cart, packed their stuff, the crates and the unconscious Russian. There exit was inconspicuous due to the large number of people doing the same and leaving while no one was guarding the city gates.

The airship invaders

Lady Genevieve Bell-Hudson had rushed out of the tub to get a better view of the shelling at the other end of the Red Fort. She spotted two airships landing to drop about 100 soldiers while another airship, outfitted with a large caliber gun, was circling the fortress. She backtracked into her compound and headed for the cellar. The servants and guards had retreated underground through the kitchen area. It was simple for her to find her way and eventually get to the place where the Europeans were detained.

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There she found Dr. Hensby. She instructed him to get everyone ready to evacuate while she was seeking a way out. She wasn’t sure that Hensby was the man for the job, but he ought to do for the moment. She returned to her accommodation and dressed appropriately so as to meet with Minster Arkhesh (or even the Shah). On her way to the Palace, she was intercepted by a group of Russian soldiers.

They held her until a man arrived from one of the airship. Gene noted the Tsar’s Navy ensign flying over the ship. A distinguished but rather young man introduced himself as Armin Kharov. He announced that the ambassador was now the prisoner of Tsar Alexander II. Gene explained to him that she was the ambassador, which was met with disbelief. Gene told Kharov that the Europeans had snuck out of the fortress earlier in the morning. Kharov explained that they were considered prisoners of war, and that she would be taken to another location.

Russian tangle

Reiko left the safe house earlier in the morning with Jagjit and left Delhi at about 9:00AM. She met Sojiro at an appointed location where they pondered about their next move. The reason why they were in Delhi was to assassinate the man who turned out to the be nicest person that they met. Amrj protected them from the death squads for as long as he could, covered for Sojiro’s medical expenses and entertained Reiko and Maritje as personal guest for almost a week. Reiko felt uneasy as she figured out that he himself was probably a Russian agent like her. She sent a letter to Calcutta, but the reply never came. Reiko wanted to walk away from the job and go home. Sojiro, however, was a bit more expedient and urge her to simply do away with the mogul minister.

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Reiko disguised as an indian maid once more: she was ashamed of what she had to do. They made their way to Amrj’s estate and were warmly welcomed by Sheeta, the old lady cooking for the minister. She lead them to the dining room and left them there to announce them to Amrj.

Reiko pressed Amrj for information and told him that he was in great danger. Amrj figured out right away that the pair were the angel of death that he was expecting for a few weeks. As he was about to shut down, Sojiro impressed on him that he had to answer a few questions or else violence would be applied to good effect. Amrj reluctantly told them that Deptir, the Shah’s astrologer was the Russian contact. He explained that he fell from grace and was removed from the palace. He didn’t know why he was coached to do so, but was instructed to attempt to become foreign minister at the court and away further instructions.

Reiko overstretched her good cop act, Amrj started to cry. He told them that they could not draw more blood from a stone. He offered to leave everything to them if he was given the chance to disappear. As he walked away, Sojiro drew his katana and placed him on Amrj’s armpit: threatening a major artery. Pleading for his life, Amrj admitted working with Kate Levenstein for the russians, that he framed her when he thought that she had tried to get rid of her. His intuition had been wrong, and both were now apart, estranged and in dire circumstances.

Reiko coldly ordered Sojiro to kill Amrj. He pull on the fine blade which sliced through his underarm. Amrj fell over and had to be finished by Sojiro’s pistol. The old lady walked into the room and became hysterical, throwing the tray of Gulab jamun at Sojiro and hitting him with the sweet treats and the silverware. Reiko pulled her lady gun and felled the grandma with a single bullet at the back of the head.

They had crossed a fence into infamy, but they alone knew about it. Life would never be the same. Sojiro raided Amrj’s office and retrieved a small bundle of communications. He also found some 400 rupees in a small coffer. They set out to burn the mansion to the ground and decided to head back to Calcutta. Hopefully, they could there resume their mundane lives as EITC clerks.

Late at the party

Devasheesh met with the Lancers a bit after high-noon. He saw the fourth airship combing the land to the north and hopefully missed the EITC soldiers. Lt. Elwood was glad to see Devasheesh come back alive. Since the situation had turned from political to military, Cresford authority was passed to Elwood to decide on the next move. Devasheesh convinced the man to head for Delhi and attempt to pull the English out of their prison while chaos still reigned. Two messengers were sent to report back to the nearest active base on the way to Calcutta. The rest of the unit geared up, formed into a road column and began to march towards fate.

The road became increasingly congested with refugees. Still up to now, the English had yet to encounter any form of resistance. A small party of scouts returned with the news that the gate of Delhi was now manned by Russians and was no longer an access point. Refugees were still allowed to exist the city, but no one could enter. They also reported that they also got detected and to expect that the Russians may move to contact if they were so brazen as to sortie.

Devasheesh and Elwood discussed on the next move. Taking on the Russian didn’t seem like the most favourable move anymore if they were to use airships and naval guns on them. Furthermore, they would be outrun very fast by airship if they were to stick to the roads. Elwood decided to melt the unit into the hinterland to the south and regroup in the Indian Kingdoms to the South. The gun would have to be left behind.

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Devasheesh comandeered a cart from the fleeing refugee and in the process encountered the Punjabis and Martije. They were leaving town with the wondrous device and the Russian hostage. Devasheesh looked upon Delhi, the airships hovering motionless over the Red Fort, and a 3” field gun now under his care: about as subtle as a manatee joining the debating club.

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