A stunned audience watches as an underclasser warrior in the Alhira arena howls and leaps into an observation balcony, clawing at the throat of noble patriarch Thornpaw Whitestar.

The gladiator is quickly cut down by Whitestar’s bodyguards. But it turns out that was just a diversion for the handful of underclassers who pour out of the lower corridor, pulse weapons in hand – they open fire, rather indiscriminately – blasting away at the onlookers.

Panic ensues as wounded flee if they can as the dead slump or tumble aside.

Razorback happens to be passing near the site of the carnage. “Sands,” he curses, his ears folding into his mane. Hearing screams and gunfire, he moves to the shelter of an alcove, flicking his energy shield on as he assesses the situation.

Another underclasser clambers onto the overhang above the spot where Razorback is sheltered. He flings a tangler grenade into the crowd as people stampede toward the exits.

Finding himself caught up in the situation, Razorback chooses to do what he can to minimize casualties. He crouches for an instant before springing up to the overhang, hoping to catch the insurgent unawares.

The overhang insurgent is focused on the explosion of tangler goo when he’s suddenly confronted by Razorback springing into his field of view. Startled, he stumbles back, off balance.

The Cliffwalker surges forward without a word, presenting an elbow to the head of the Demarian in an attempt to knock him out quickly. His ears are pulled back tightly, but his claws remain sheathed.

Meanwhile, armed underclassers are taking aim at goo-tangled victims in the arena. They start opening fire.

Grabbing the (presumably) unconscious Demarian’s grenade belt with a snarl of frustration, Razorback lobs one into the group of gunmen, hoping to even the odds a bit before launching himself as well.

The tangler grenade hurled by Razorback explodes, ensnaring the six gunmen – but not before they’re able to kill several people and injure others.

Razorback arrives to find the six insurgents “tangled” already. He works quickly to extricate their weapons.

“You are dead!” one of the underclassers growls at Razorback.

“Well, I know it,” the Cliffwalker replies dryly, “Next time, shoot at something which can shoot back.” Tossing the guns aside, he begins to move off.

Once the underclassers are neutralized, some arena attendees regain their composure – sort of. They see the guns Razorback flung aside. They see attackers trapped in goo. They take up those guns and turn them on the underclassers, ready to fire.

“Enough!” Razorback roars out, as he turns back, “You would have this happen again? Because that shall be the result! If these men were not aware of what their deaths would accomplish, they would not be here! To cut them down while they are helpless is a dishonor undeserving of our people, regardless of the lack of honor they have also shown. Do not justify it!”

A female Demarian noble, clutching one of the recovered pulse rifles, hears Razorback’s decree. She bobs her snout, steps forward, kneels, and uses her claws to slash through the goop tangling one of the attackers. Then she hisses at him: “Run.” The underclasser scrambles to his feet, turns, runs away. She stands, takes aim, and says, “He’s not helpless now.” She sights down the rifle, finger on the trigger.

This will not be pleasant. Trusting in the energy shield surrounding him, and the light armor beneath, Razorback leaps between the noblewoman and the fleeing rebel, intending to take the bolt of energy himself.

She never pulls the trigger. Instead, she just glares indignantly at Razorback, flings the rifle to the ground, and starts kicking one of the still-tangled underclassers in the stomach.

Meanwhile, two Demarian males down toward the far end of the arena tackle the fleeing underclasser that Razorback saved. They set upon him with fists and claws.

The Cliffwalker hits the ground, miraculously unshot. With a growl of frustration, he scrambles towards the still tangled insurgents, raking the tangler nets with his claws. “Go!” he roars at them.

Glowering down from a nearby balcony, Stumppaw Sandwalker watches as Razorback liberates the attackers and orders them to flee. As they scurry to escape, Sandwalker bellows: “What are you doing, Cliffwalker?!”

“What you will not!” Razorback calls back in reply, “You will stand by and watch as one slaughter takes place, and then another? Is this who our people are, my Lord? Is this what passes for justice amongst us? The claws of an angry mob?”

The elder noble shakes his snout. “I disagree with the slaughter, but those terrorists deserve justice – not freedom!” Members of the Demarian Militia stride into the arena, cutting off the escape of the underclassers who were running from the female. The soldiers aim their rifles at the underclassers. They raise their paws to signify no further intent to fight. The male tackled on the opposite side has been bashed into unconsciousness – soldiers enter from that side as well, and they pull the nobles off the helpless underclasser. Stumppaw glares at Razorback: “Will you face it with them, as an accessory to their murderous actions?”

“I stand not in the way justice,” the Cliffwalker replies, “They have slaughtered unarmed people, and should be held accountable. Would you have me allow an angry mob to make martyrs of them? And will you try me as an accessory to a slaughter I ended?”

Stumppaw gnashes his fangs. He points a finger at Razorback. “You did well stopping them.” He lowers his hand, making a tsk-tsk noise. “Freeing them? A treacherous mistake.”

One of the underclassers with his arms raised shouts: “You’ve no idea how right the old mongrel is!” He wiggles one of his fingers, which is capped with an electronic “thimble” that transmits a signal to a bomb planted beneath Sandwalker’s balcony. As the explosion erupts, guards hurl themselves at Stumppaw to protect him from the blast as much as possible – and then they vanish into a belch of smoke and debris. Moments later, any survivors are under shattered stone.

That doesn’t sit well with the militia. They open fire on the bomber, riddling him with pulse blasts. He’s twitching on the ground, dying, soon after.

With an angry growl, Razorback moves forward to see if he can help extricate any survivors from under the stone, despite the consequences of having done this in the recent past.

He’ll find Stumppaw, alive but unconscious, his good arm and both legs broken by the rubble. One of the bodyguards also survived. The other’s skull is crushed. The soldiers round up the remaining underclasser attackers, searching them for weapons and explosives, hoping to avoid further chaos.

The Cliffwalker pulls both Stumppaw and the bodyguard gingerly free of the rubble. Before he makes a speedy exit over the outside of the stadium, not desiring to risk arrest, he pauses over the broken body of the Sandwalker. He removes one of his scabbarded swords from his belt, the crest of his House emblazoned on its hilt, and clips it to the belt of the Senator. Then seeing that the Militia seem to have things in hand, he departs, alone. 

Militia soldiers force the attackers to their knees, paws behind their backs, and start cuffing them. Emergency personnel arrive to triage the wounded. And from the archway Razorback is approaching emerges a bulky Demarian with silver epaulets on his navy blue uniform. He wears a glowing blue holomonocle over his right eye. A slugthrower is holstered at his side. The badge on his chest identifies him as an inspector in Municipal Justice, the Alhiran law enforcement agency. He peers suspiciously: “Where are you off to in such a hurry?”

“The same place everyone else is,” Razorback says, pointing to the still fleeing crowd with a raised eyebrow, “Or do I look like an underclasser insurgent to you?” It is a good thing he did not decide to leave his ring on the Senator to make his point.

The inspector lifts one glove-covered hand and turns the palm to face upward. Blinks once behind the holomonocle. A holographic image materializes above his hand, showing Razorback knocking the grenade-hurler backward and then subduing the assault. “You look like a material witness to the murders of several nobles and the attempted assassination of Senator Stumppaw Sandwalker. Obviously, I am looking forward to discussing this situation with you.”

“One of many, yes,” Razorback says with a nod, “I do not envy your task of having to interview so many.”

“Yes, well,” the inspector purrs. “We all have our burdens to carry.” He tilts his head and inquires: “What is your name and contact information? I see no need to detain you further, but I would like to meet with you soon.”

“I am called Cliffwalker, and I am currently registered at the White Moons Hotel,” Razorback answers, truthfully, “May you bring those involved in this dishonorable act to justice, and quickly.”

The other Demarian arches his eyebrows as he hears the name of the hotel. “The White Moons? I seem to recall an arms dealer leaping to his death there recently. Does such excitement tend to follow you?”

“More often than I should like, it would seem,” Razorback says with a tired half-smile, “At any rate, I will allow you to get on with your investigation. And do give my best wishes to the Senator when he awakens.” He bows, the begins to move past the officer.

The inspector bobs his snout, turning briefly to watch Razorback depart, and then he moves on toward the cluster of prisoners, shouting at the soldiers: “Hovertrucks are parked outside the arena! Load them up and deliver them to the detention center for processing!”

Having wreaked enough havoc for one day, Razorback heads back to the hotel and the room he is not registered to. To pack.
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By Brody

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