Misconduct on the Magnificent Mile
rating: +35+x

May 22nd, 1911

The handle of the Colt jammed against Noah's stomach. He nervously adjusted the ragged derby cap on his head and rustled his hair in the warm June air. Though the noon sun beat down upon his back, Noah Welles Jr. had sweat beading on his forehead for a different reason. Looking around at the bustling crowd typical to a Saturday on the Magnificent Mile, he grimaced. He had tried to dissuade Chappell from making a move in such a populated, high-risk area, but the boss had deemed the risk worth it. Letting the Sharpers ship another set of Carrolls out to Boston would be losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit.

So Chappell has authorized this venture. A dozen men arranged across the busiest shopping district in Chicago, all armed to the teeth. Noah had no doubt that the Spirit had set up some sort of roadblock to stop the shipment, but he wasn't quite sure what. For now, he was more than content to lean against the brick exterior of a Sears and Roebuck and watch the traffic go by. He shot a glance at the alley where their own truck was hidden. Perfectly invisible, though not at all due to the location of the alley. Chappell probably had someone place a spell over it or some equally bizarre voo-doo.

People crossed Noah's vision, a few tossing him curious glances but none sticking around. Most were customers of the surrounding shops, carrying bags weighted down with expensive goods. Magnificient Mile was verily a pickpocket's paradise. But Noah had long since graduated from the brutal school of petty street crime. He was moving up, higher and higher into the innards of the organized crime racket. Since his improptu introduction to the Spirit seven months ago, he had rapidly become a made man and enforcer. He was good at his duties, which is why he had been chosen for this job.

Noah jammed a hand into the pocket of his slightly-too-short three-piece suit. He extracted it, dragging out a pocket watch on a length of gold chain behind him. 1:23, it read. The convoy would be coming along any minute now.

He stood slightly straighter, shooting subtle looks at the score of other Spirit members he could see. They all looked similar, a dreadful mixture of fear and anticipation apparent on their faces. More than likely they were just fresh meat promised good money, pleasant company, and fresh booze. They had absolutely no idea what they were getting themselves into. A small part of him wished that he could run across the street, take them by the shoulder and shake some sense into them. The other, larger part of him knew he would more than likely never risk his own neck for someone else like that.

He turned his neck, wiping his drenched brow with his forearm. In the distance, he could see a large black truck belching out smoke as it lurched forward in traffic. He stiffened and began formulating the fastest way to break into the back. There was no point in sitting around and regretting his decision. The die was cast.

The truck sped ahead, crossing in front of Noah. Through the glass, he could see two grizzled men in purple and black uniforms. Sharpers.

The Sharpers were the second most powerful force in the city, disregarding the Spirit. They had courier routes through the entirety of Chicago and a near-monopoly on Carroll transport overland. More importantly, the presence of two powerful anomalous groups in a confined space was a lose-lose situation. No matter what, one would always be inhibiting the other's growth. Currently, the Chicago Spirit was the one being inhibited. Chappell had decided it was time to change that.

Noah watched as the back of the truck sped away from him. Worry grew in his chest. Had the roadblock not been set up? Had it been neutralized? Just then, a bright flash dismissed his questions.

Ahead of him, he could see the roof of the truck rising and rising. Noah slipped a hand into his belt and whipped out the Colt revolver stashed there, fully loaded. He took off at a sprint, trying to catch up with the truck, shoving aside pedestrians and urchins. All across the Mile, he could see other fellows dressed in suits and pinstripes dashing in the general direction of the truck. He set his jaw and focused on the ruckus coming from ahead of him.

Pushing through a crowd of stunned onlookers, he skidded to a stop. A couple meters away from him, the Sharpers' truck was hovering 20 feet in the air, the drivers dangling through the door windows.

"GET BACK!" he roared to the gawkers crowing around him. Intimidated, they scuttled back as more and more Spirit men began shoving them aside. Above them, the truck floated higher yet. Any second now, it would come-

Before Noah could finish his thought, the truck spun in the air and took a nosedive straight down. With enough force to crush a normal man, the truck burrowed into the concrete and came to a rest with its rear doors facing up. Shrapnel and concrete flew everywhere, a rather large piece grazing Noah's cheek. He pressed a hand against his face, pulling it back to see blood smeared across it. He wiped it across his vest.

Striding forward, he aimed the sights of his pistol down, into the center of the truck doors. Squeezing the trigger, he shot lead directly into the lock, completely shattering it. He barked an order to the gang members surrounding him.

"You, run to the truck and tell them to haul ass over here. Everyone else, help me pull out these crates."

The crowd of young men jumped at his command. The scrawniest one sprinted for the alley Noah knew the truck was in, and the rest began extracting crates loaded down with Carrolls from the back of the truck. Leaning over one another, they worked as a team to toss in two men, who then helped lift out the crates.

Noah whipped around as he heard a squeal of tires. A large truck branded with a Charles and Sons logo raced towards them, a man in a pinstripe suit hanging on to the rear from a handhold. As it approached, it slowed down. Noah kept his full focus on it. He knew that because of its antimemetic nature, losing sight of it would make it much more difficult to find if he focused on something else. His men had been disciplined well, and they barely hesitated before tossing the hijacked crates into the back of the new truck.

"Took you long enough, Russo."

"I always arrive fashionably late."

The troupe worked in silence for nearly two minutes. All pedestrians had long since abandoned the once-bustling street, and abandoned cars littered the asphalt. Noah and Russo had done jobs like this, and they both knew that any minute now, the paddies would arrive. Neither of them said anything, not wishing to distract the newbloods. The truck was already nearly full, just a few more seconds…

The shriek of a police siren drew Noah out of his reverie. He once again drew his pistol and popped another bullet into the chamber as Russo reached into the passenger door of the truck and pulled out a Thompson. The newbloods pulled out their pistols and submachine guns with trembling hands as a line of police cars sped into the street. The blue and red strobe lights flashed through the otherwise emptied square.

The truck was full, and it was time to leave.

Noah spun and waved his hand, motioning everyone to toss themselves into the truck. They willingly obliged, hustling in and arranging themselves on the floor of crates. Russo didn't budge, and set his jaw. Before Noah could pull rank, a voice bellowed across the street.

"THIS IS THE POLICE. PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPONS AND STEP FORWARD WITH YOUR HANDS UP."

Noah cleared his threat, ready to recite the speech he held ready for these situations. Something along the lines of how he'd rather die than turn himself over to the pigs, and how when-

BRATATATATATATATA

Russo howled a laugh as he let loose a volley from his Thompson.

"How's that, pigs?"

Russo was still laughing as Noah grabbed him and threw him in the truck before leaping in after him. Everyone scuttled back as Russo smashed against the opposite side of the truck and landed in a heap.

"When I give you an order, you obey it. Now drive!"

The truck ratcheted forward, the door still swinging open. The driver, whoever he was, expertly slid and careened between empty autos and potholes. What he couldn't avoid was the large police blockade ahead of them. A dozen officers stood in front of their cars, a spike track spread out across the street.

"I REPEAT, PUT YOUR HANDS UP AND EXIT THE VEHICLE."

Noah leaned back inside. He had to do something. Eyeing a particular chest labeled WEAPONRY, he tossed off the cover as everyone in the cab stared at him. Looking down, he grinned.


Chicago Police Sergeant Mathias fidgeted with his Smith & Wesson, flicking the cylinder in and out of the revolver. The truck was still ahead of them, facing the blockade with a darkened windshield. It had already been thirty seconds since he had called out the surrender order. He didn't want to open fire, but he was willing to. He ran a hand through his beard. The other officers looked at him quizzically. He had to act soon.

Before the words could escape from his lips, the trucks engine screeched and it began moving. It sped forward, faster and faster, heading directly for the blockade.

"DIVE!"

Mathias screamed as he threw himself to the side. He lay on the ground waiting for the crushing weight of the truck to overtake him. It never did. He tentatively opened one eye.

The truck was completely gone. All the other officers lay on the street, equally as confused as him. Mathias sat up. He was not looking forward to the reports he would have to file.


The passengers of the truck shouted as it suddenly bounced back into realspace. They were in a warehouse, the vehicle parked dead in the center. Around them was a welter of activity, as dozens smugglers in the employ of the Spirit rapidly moved boxes filled with contraband between several trucks while foremen directed their activity with shouts and hollers. Noah stepped out of the truck on shaky legs.

"New shipment, get unloading!"


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