In-depth investigation has shown that many of the recent violent incident s in the Lakeview Heights region are linked by intrigues among a clique of Garus with a com mon past. This clique formed twenty years ago among a group of Garu adolescents who se parents were Army officers stationed at Fort Brogue in Dunnick Territory. It include d three females, Rouga, Crioo, and Gria, and two males, Graf and Barafa. The members of this clique contin ued to maintain social connections after leaving the territories, marrying, and joining various packs within the city. The clique was extended to include Krawr and Arbray, after they married Crioo and Gr ia, respectively. There was also a marriage within the clique between Rouga and Graf.
The members of this clique grew to be prominent citizens. Many followed the military tradition of their parents. Barafa joined the Navy, and quickly rose to the rank of C ommodore, becoming chief of staff to Chief Supply Officer Admiral Feng. He used his position to gain wealt h as well as rank, through savvy trade deals. Similarly, Krawr achieved the rank of General in the Army b efore the age of thirty. He was one of the leading proponents of using military force to bring the semi-autonomous Bama province under direct Empire control. Crioo did not hold any official position in the Army, but became known as a skilled Diviner and was influential in Krawrs rise to prominence. Arbray joined the Navy, becoming a Captain and commander of the battleship Philisophe. He became famous for daring sea victories and wide- ranging journeys. Rouga and Graf took a different route to fame, becoming intrepid explorers of the polluted regions of the Palace near or in the Science Tower. Rouga was a top-class Transmogrifier, and Graf was one of the Empire's highest skilled Shift-fighters. They were joined in their exploration by Gaboo, an Animator, and Chang Fui, a Diviner.
Although the group did not voice political positions, they became heroes of the Phoenix Faction. This created a rivalry between the members of the clique. Krawr and Crioo were prominent in the Outward Faction, while Graf and Rouga were equally revered by the Phoenix Faction. Arbray was apolitical, but there were constant attempts to recruit him to both of the above factions. His father, a Pack Leader of a small pack in the Delta region, is a passionate Transplanter, which may be the reason he has not been promoted. Interviews with mutual friends indicate that social gatherings among the clique members have been tense and cool for the last several years.
Several clique members fell even faster than they had risen. First, in Showers last year, Krawr got into a brawl with Claude Swinger, star of the Bama Gubinatorial Acrobatics Troupe. While witnesses said that Claude took the first swing, the magistrate found that Krawr had taunted Claude with the intention of goading him to violence. Moreover, he had done so in order to embarrass Lord Ben, governor of Bama, and perhaps incite him to rebellion. Claude was banished from the city limits for three years, but Krawr was banished for life, and handed over to the Army for court-martial. The charges were insubordination, dereliction of duty, and conduct unbecoming an officer. However, Krawr had many sympathizers within the military, and somehow managed to escape Army custody before the court- martial. After several fortnights of obscurity, he began to recruit other exiled Garus into a paramilitary organization he called the Patriotic Army of the Web (PAW), which had a declared mission of eliminating crime from the Web. PAW began to release political tracts accusing the so-called "new races" (Varaghs, Gorillas, Darby, Tellury, and Taz) of decadence and treachery. They also are suspected of master- minding the attempted sabotage of this year's show by the acrobatic troupe at the Purple Pomegranate, where a cut rope was disguised with a conjuring to look whole. The sabotage would probably have led to the deaths of Claude, several other acrobats and audience members if it had not been detected by Pomegranate Technical Director Zzazza.
PAW also became very active in the Web, taking on a form that is a cross between police force and criminal syndicate. The organization claimed large parts of the Web as their turf. Prostitution, orgy houses, and narcotics were banned there, but other forms of criminal activity were unhampered or even encouraged: e.g., arena games, gambling, and pawn shops. Businesses owned by Garus, Chams, Dragons, or other "old races" were required to pay a "mutual defense tax" to operate in the areas. Gorilla businesses were shut down through intimidation or force.
Although limited by the fact that most PAW members were exiles, Crioo and Krawr had arranged a way for PAW agents to enter the City undetected. Crioo's research revealed that, during the Age of Madness, Warlord Gabrar had had a secret tunnel built, leading from his private residence to the Web. Crioo asked Barafa to purchase this residence, which had been vacant for hundreds of years, and was in an area last used for naval archival offices. Barafa now claims that he thought the pair would only use the property for romantic trysts.
Meanwhile, last Frost, Graf, Rouga, and their two associates left on what was to be their last expedition. Only Graf and Gaboo returned, and that approximately four f ortnights after they left. Gaboo retired to his Lakeview Heights mansion, where he became a recluse, commu nicating only via his animated serveants, and that only minimally. Graf hid in the sewers of t he city, and his return only became known through the psychic residue he left during a hideous series of murders, especially of female Garus. Police sensitives concluded that Graf suffered from the pa ranoid delusion that Rouga lived and desired revenge for some event that had occurred in the Science Tower .
As a Transmogrifier, she could look like anyone, so Graf suspected his victims of being Rouga in d isguise. Eventually, with the police closing in on him, he fled the Palace and took up residence in for bidding areas of the Web.
Krawr announced PAW's intentions to capture Graf to show the City their commitment to effective policing of the Web. It was suspected that he was also anxious for the I ndulgence promised as a reward for Graf's capture, which could be used to pardon his crime and end his exile. Soon after his announcement, a brief melee took place at the mansion of Graf's reclusi ve ex-partner, Gaboo. Gaboo's anthropomorphs fought off a small party of PAW recruits, who were attempting to kidnap Gaboo for interrogation with regard to Graf's habits and whereabouts. The recruits fled, and there were no further attempts to raid Gaboo's mansion.
Evidently, Krawr's announcement convinced Graf that Rouga was using Crioo's form to persecute him. He followed PAW agents to the tunnel; later, he returned, killed the guards, and made his way through the tunnel to Warlord Gabrar's Mansion. Crioo had been waiting there for Krawr, but foresaw Graf's threat through a Tarot reading and fled. Seeing the residence deserted, Graf decided to leave via the sewers.
Unfortunately,upon emerging from the sewers, he chanced to encounter a courting Garu couple, Ruti and Crug. Thinking they were Rouga's spies, Graf killed them and doubled back through the sewer system, where he went into hiding.
Three days later, Ruti and Crug's bodies were found. Auditor Kara of Dean Tolerance's office was assigned to investigate the murder. Kara lost Graf's trail in the sewers, but found a bead he had dropped as he fled. According to Lam Duk, the Dean's expert on psychosomatics, the bead was from a necklace of Rouga's that Graf had kept as a memorial. The psychic residue on this bead established Graf as the killer.
Kara began two lines of investigation. First, linking up with Slik'hthesh, an Archaeomancer in the Lakeview Ministry of Public Works, she began examining properties linking up to the sewer where Graf's trail led. Second, she began investigating the other clique members. (How Kara knew of Krawr's involvement or the existence of the clique remains a mystery.) Kara and Mei-ling Feng, daughter of Admiral Ho Feng, attended Barafa's formal inspection of Captain Arbray's recently arrived ship.
Evidently, Kara's instincts led her to trust Arbray and suspect Barafa, since afterwards she requested a private interview with Arbray, where she presumably arranged for him to co-operate in the investigation. Kara and Slik'hthsh investigated the sewer openings of all properties in the area except for Barafas and Admiral Fengs without finding anything suspicious. C autiously, they waited for a time when Barafa would be occupied before exploring Warlord Gabrar's Mansion. This time came the next night, when they knew Barafa would be attending Admiral Feng's dinner in honor of Captain Arbray.
Kara, Slikthsh and Mei-ling were all at the party, but witnesses note d that Slikhthsh disappeared early in the evening, without thanking the hostess, and was not seen again. Ka ra left the party abruptly a few hours later, but was seen leaving the door, unlike Slikhthsh. Presum ably, Slikhthsh had covertly entered the sewer system at the Admirals home, and gone to Warlord Gab rars Mansion to investigate, with Kara joining him after making sure Barafa would be kept busy. Subs equent events indicate that what they saw there confirmed their suspicions. They may have found the hidden tunnel, or just evidence of Grafs visit. In any case, they made plans to stake-out the locati on the next day.
However, the next morning, Kara was pulled off the case, which was reassi gned to Perserverance, a young Makoo counselor in the Deans office with no pre vious criminal experience. The official explanation was that having a female Garu in charge of the case would feed Grafs paranoia and make him even more dangerous. Whatever the real motive for the re-assign ment, Perserverance disappointed those who hoped to slow down the investigation. He, Slik hthsh, and Mei-ling went ahead with the surveillance, hiding in an abandoned naval office across the roa d from Warlord Gabrars residence. After setting up the surveillance station, Slikhthsh left to report to his job, returning in the early evening.
At around this time, Gabby, the Darby who regularly clea ned residences in the area, knocked on the door of Warlord Gabrars Mansion, but was turned away by an unfamiliar female Garu. His usual contact at the residence was Crioo. After he left, Slikhths h caught up with him and interrogated him about the routine at the mansion. Evidently, the investigatory team then attempted a raid of the Mansion. Gabby, out of both curiousity and the desire to avoid another f ortnights dust build-up, had gone back to enquire if he could clean after finishing his other chores. As he watched, he witnessed a brilliant flash of light emitting from the upstairs windows of the Mansion. Then a t least twenty PAW recruits emerged from abandonned properties on the street, and began setting up ro ad blocks. Finally, Mei-ling smashed down the door from inside Gabrars Mansion, ran across the roa d with Perserverance gripping her tail, smashed down the door of the opposite building, and ran inside, pursued by PAW recruits. In light of subsequent events, a probable explanation is that Krawr expected Graf to return and target Crioo. The female Garu was bait for his trap for Graf. Perserverance and his de puties had gone through the sewers to raid the Mansion, and inadvertantly triggered the trap. Mei-li ng and Perserverance's escape provided cover for Slikhthsh, who heroically decided to stay behind an d spy on the PAW gangsters.
There, he learned of Krawrs revised plan: to reset the trap at Arbray s house, using a pretend Gria as bait. They decided to get both Barafa, Arbray, and Gria out of the way by suggesting to Barafa that he take the couple on a hunting trip. The trap would be sprung during the Parade of Beauty, when all the city would be at the Tower of Beauty. The trap seemed to be working. Barafa took Arbray and Gria up- river to his hunting lodge, and then an unknown Conjurer accomplice cause d images of Gria to be seen in the Lakeview Bazaar, so that Graf would know something suspicious was occ urring and link it to Gria.
However, Perserverance warned Arbray, and he jumped off the ship taking him to Barafa hunting lodge and doubled back. He provided his knowledge of the neighb orhood and a back-up of a select group of the Philisophes sailors. Perserverance also took two of the Dean's Auditors for assistance: George Boardrider and Corderoy Winnipeg. They set up a t rap outside the PAW trap, with Arbrays sailors watching one end of the main road through the neighbor hood, Mei-ling and Slikhthsh guarding the other end, and Perserverance and the others from the Dean s office hiding in the sewers. After the neighborhood cleared out, the PAW recruits showed up as expecte d, and took up posts in several of the residences lining the street.
Graf could not resist the bait of Krawrs trap, but also was too cleve r to walk in with it. Evidently, his group of explorers had devised an override system for the anibots set to guard the passages to the Science Tower, so that they could make rapid retreats using the anibots a s a rear guard. He gathered up a collection of these anibots, and sent them down the sewer tunnel leadin g to Arbrays house. The magical ambush Krawr had set up hardly slowed the anibots, and they soon caused chaos among the PAWs. The signal went out for the PAW road-block to be set up, but the P AW soldiers soon had to face Arbrays sailors. Meanwhile, thinking the path to Arbrays house cle ared, Graf sped down the sewer tunnel to the house. Perserverance closed off the sewer system using an emergency shutdown signal Slikhthsh had told him about, sealing Grafs escape route, and he an d his group blocked Grafs path.
Graf fought ferociously, wounding Boardrider severely, but could not get past the group. Then Mei-ling, running up the sewer passage from an adjacent property, clouted him from behind, pinning him to the ground. The group then bound Graf and took him into custody. Meanwhile, Arbrays sailors and the anibots had caused a panic among the PAW forces, who fled in a rout. Arb ray and Slikhthsh tried a last frontal assault to capture Krawr, but Slikhthsh was felled first by a tingler and then an apathy grenade, and Krawr escaped.
Graf was brought in chains to Dean Tolerances office by Mai-ling, and was placed in custody in the Asylum for Dangerously Polluted Minds in the Left Bank. There were prote sts from some of his victims friends and relatives demanding a more severe punishment. Perserverance was assigned as one of his counselors. Several of the PAWs were also captured, and sentenced to per mament exile with conscription. Most of the anibots were returned to their posts, although curiously, there were three left over that could not be placed. The Lakeview Heights neighborhood experie nced extensive property damage and was the subject of a fortnight-long clean-up by the Ministry o f Public Works. Barafa is in the process of being court-martialed, and Arbrays next mission has been su spended indefinitely so that he can be a witness at the trial.
One seemingly positive note has emerged from this sequence of events. T he spill-over of Web violence into the city proper has alerted the government to the need for more effective policing of the Web and other areas outside the city walls. Dean Tolerance has announced the formation of a Citizens Advisory Panel to investigate violence and crime in the Web, and has nominated several citizens prominent in the fight against Krawr to this committee: Mei-ling Feng, Sl ikhthsh, and Zzazza. Dean Tolerance, in his announcement, mentioned the need for decisive action, w hich he said was the main quality he looked for in his appointments.
This headstrong attitude ma y lead the committee into controversy. They have recently seemed to be negotiating with the so-cal led "United Gorilla Front", a response to PAW among the Web's gorilla population. The UGF is a loose federation of various gorilla packs and syndicates, which is taking the form of a militia or vigilante patrol. Some of the member organizations of the UGF have ties to organized crime. The committee mem bers, together with Mordecai, a private investigator, recently intervened in a UGF vigilante action, wh ere patrol members were beating a pair of young Garu who had entered the Web to attend a duel and had no co nnection to Krawr or PAW. The committee rescued the pair and gave them medical treatment, but did n ot arrest or even criticize the UGF for this action, and later met with one of the UGFs leaders, vice tycoon Dick Trickster, whose pack runs an orgy house and dueling arena in the Web. It remains to be seen whether the Committee will attempt a comprehensive solution to the Web's anarchy, or just a return to business as usual after the PAW menace is dealt with. --e548f1a7-d6de-11d3-b8ff-00805ffe6ed5--