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Frontier Town Sun Stone Saloon

Something cold and sinister clenched in Wes’s chest at the mention of killing. This guy was so…cavalier about it, as if he were asking them to babysit instead of murder someone. Wes chose his next words carefully, cautious curiosity overtaking his ire for just a moment.

“So, what are these guys wanted for? And what’s at the gala that they want so badly?”
'I knew it... I knew those guys had to be involved...' Corey thought to himself upon the presentation of the posters. He'd been trying to find proof but had constantly been shot down by the civilians... but now he had all the proof he needed. Whatever these clearly violent gangsters had in mind, he wasn't going to let them get away with it... for whatever that was worth in his current state.

"The Las Picras gang, and their leader, are wanted for highway robbery... and apparently they were considered petty theives and burglars before then... and regarding what they'd want? It's a gala, Wes. We're talking high-class party, all sorts of valuables will almost certainly be there, ripe for the taking, as far as these outlaws are likely concerned... anyway, Mr. Mayor, as far as I'm concerned you've made the assignment quite perfectly clear then."

One thing of course is to be made blunt... Corey was not exactly a fan of how this Empoleon was conducting himself. He was clearly the sort to sniff his own... leavings... and claim they smell like a bed of roses. However, this stuffy bird nonetheless represented the only order this town seemed to have, and these outlaws seemed to be a genuine threat, if their crimes were indeed what they were stated to be.
Bellatrix looked deep into the empoleon's eyes. Thinking. She couldn't stand him, not in the slightest. But a job's a job and working with the upperclass mon of the town had certainly primed her to handle some of the most insufferable people she met. What made this so different to any other bounty she took besides the best pay she'd come across since arriving in this dusty world?

"It's a deal."

She said this without looking at the others, but she continued. "But we will only go as far as their arrest. Though they do need to seek justice for their actions, mere highway robbery is not justification to take the life of another."

Though she didn't look at him, her next words were very clearly addressed at Wes. "These are outlaws with bounties on their heads," she said. "You should know what those are and how they work. This is no different to any other job asking to apprehend a thief on the bulletin board." You'd be wise to adapt, she added in thought, though she didn't say it in front of Ignatius. She'd tell him later.
What? Wes threw Bellatrix an incredulous look. The nerve of this princess to just speak up on behalf of the entire group. Who did she think she was?

He shifted a little, trying to stifle his growing restlessness, and acknowledged Corey’s answer with a curt nod. “That’s a reasonable conclusion,” he mumbled. “Still, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something specific they’re after?” He eyed Igna—Ing—Igg—gods, this guy’s name was almost as pretentious as he was. Whatever. He eyed the mayor as he spoke, trying to gauge his reaction. “Surely suggesting murder for petty theft is a bit extreme, like my companion said, isn’t it?”

He caught the meaningful look Bellatrix threw him and opted to ignore it. Just because you’ll blindly follow orders, doesn’t mean I will.
Archie bit his tongue to hold back any potential retorts he might have thought of when it came to the Mayor’s callous disregard for the lives of these Outlaws. Rounding up such Pokemon was a job the Oshawott had plenty of experience with, but a hired killer he was not. But, he couldn’t really turn down the money, and he’d promised he’d find a way to attend this gala somehow. And if they didn’t take this job, odds seemed decent the mayor’s next pick for hired help would be much more attracted to the ‘dead’ option on the poster.

“Petty thieves, huh?” Archie frowned, “Well, some time giving back to the community they’ve been terrorizing will likely do them some good, and not to mention teach them skills they can use to support themselves so they don’t need to fall back into banditry.”

He glanced Wes’s way again, “And, anyone else the mayor might go to if we were to refuse may not be so morally upstanding as us.”
Ignatius gave Archie a baffled look.

"What in all Saints' names are you talking about, man? This is the Sohavenian Territory, not a correctional school for wayward children. I have every confidence they'll hang for larceny."

Ignatius's face was dominated by the trident crest that marked his species, but behind the golden prongs, his eyes looked... vindictive.

"They've stolen a considerable amount of capital, in hard cash and in valuable assets, from respectable citizens. Respectable, upstanding citizens."

The mayor sneered down at the sketches on the wanted posters.

"Murder is unlawful, premeditated killing. Collecting bounties on wanted 'mon is lawful in the Territory."
Bellatrix's mane billowed in a non-existent wind. There was little surprise to Ignatius outright saying they'll be hanged for their crimes - it matched the setting they were in - and there wasn't much reason to care for outlaws but...

"Hanged you say? With what gallows?" she asked, like an innocuous child. "It seems that this town of yours doesn't exactly have the means to do so." Her tail unravelled from around her paws to brush against the floor. "Simply turning them in is also considered collecting a bounty," she added, "and it's a far less messy ordeal than killing them, no? So, again, we will only go as far as their arrest, killing them is out of the question."
Archie tilted his head to the side, keeping a small smile on his face, even though it clearly didn’t reach his eyes, “My apologies for the misunderstanding, then. Where I’m from, we don’t engage in such acts of… Barbarism. Generally, the idea is to reform criminals, not murder them – be that murder state sanctioned or not.”

He tilted his hat down to cover his eyes, then placed his paws in his pockets. The Oshawott had probably already said too much, but it was too late to take it back now. “Nonetheless, I will do everything in my power to ensure that you and your guests are not disturbed on the night of the gala.”

And if the outlaws happened to ‘evade capture’ and escape into the night, well, that would be a crying shame, now wouldn’t it?
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Troubling... oh, this was troubling indeed... Why did this mayor have to be so brutish about this? Couldn't he have at least tried to make it easier to side with him and his particular take on law? Corey didn't like how vengeful he was getting, but every time he even considered the notion of sympathizing with the opposing force, he could only feel a bubbling rage that would not be quelled.

"...I believe that is my position on the matter as well... The gala shall be protected, by my greatest efforts I will do what it takes to make it so." Hatred for those who attacked innocent travelers wouldn't overtake his moral scruples when it came to killing... otherwise he'd be little better than the sort of monsters he despised so much...
He glanced Wes’s way again, “And, anyone else the mayor might go to if we were to refuse may not be so morally upstanding as us.”
Wes snorted at that. Speak for yourself. He wasn’t about to own up to his laundry list of misdeeds in front of these people, but he wasn’t going to pretend to be some kind of saint, either. “If we’re the best he has to offer, he must have some pretty pitiful options, then,” he mumbled back to—Archie, was it? Some kinda water mon, from the looks of him. Jury was still out on whether he felt he could trust this guy, but so far he hadn’t given a bad impression.

Corey, on the other hand, went along with the mayor far too readily for Wes’s liking. Even if the Ralts looked hesitant the more Ignition hammered on about freaking murder, he still followed the guy’s wishes without so much as a complaint.

Wes resisted the urge to curl his lip at him, though his glare was still noticeable. Coward.

His irritation with Bellatrix, however, waned ever so slightly as she took a stance and questioned the mayor with a tight smile. Clearly she wasn’t too fond of him, either, then. As he listened to her reply, Wes had a moment of clarity; he knew now what to do.

He lifted his chin and cleared his throat. “I’m in. Tell me what I need to do and where I need to go.” He matched the mayor’s steely gaze with his own. Sands and stars, it made his skin crawl to agree to take orders from such a pompous prick, but he held firm.

Because one way or another, Wes knew now that he needed to get into that gala.

Mayor Ignatius nodded approvingly – as much as any expression he made could be said to be 'approving' – and pushed the wanted posters towards his new hires.

"I'll have one of my deputies brief you more thoroughly. You'll receive advance partial payment by bank order ahead of time. ...I suggest you register accounts very shortly if you have not already. I am willing to extend this same offer to a small further number of your associates, if Ms Bellatrix can vouch for their reliability."

He gave the zorua a cold look.

"And if you prefer to make an arrest, then that is your prerogative. Just bear in mind that the cat in particular is especially slippery, so if you choose capture only to have her escape it, that's a bounty you won't be receiving."

He sniffed.

"And gallows or the availability thereof are my concern – that is, the judge's concern – not yours, Ms Bellatrix."
"Very well," Bellatrix said in response, making mental notes on the empoleon. Pompous, insecure, sneaselly, were a just few words that came to mind. The subtle push to try and convince them that killing Sonora was the better of the two options was not lost on her but she elected to ignore it. She was a bounty hunter, not a hitman, archaic laws be damned. "If she escapes then it'll just be our problem, won't it? It's not as if you're the one losing the bounty," she countered.

"Regardless, I shall alert you if there are any others within our group who I deem suitable for the job," she then added with a polite nod that doubled as a bow. If she wanted to keep a good impression, she needed to play into his ego, but at the back of her mind the strong sense to investigate the gallows arose. If they were going to turn the gang in, she needed to ensure that there was nothing to hang them with.
Aside from a simple "Thank you, Sir," Corey said nothing more. Bellatrix seemed to cover everything that needed to be said at the moment anyway. He just hoped the others would agree, because despite plenty of reason to take up umbrage, he personally felt this was not the time nor place to express it. He seemed especially to eye Wes with a strong glare, sensing the vitriol the rockruff was directly squarely at him. What the hell was that guy's problem, huh? He couldn't understand Corey was trying to keep things cool in front of such a powerful and, clearly dangerous, figure of authority?

Corey would need whatever time was left to think over this situation and the predicaments that were arising from it, of that, he was certain... and right now, he just wanted to get out of here before things could turn sour.
Archie gave the Rockruff a half shrug, lifting one shoulder upwards before dropping it again. Who knew what Wes was angsting about, and none of them were really in a position to interrogate why the Empoleon had singled out their group specifically, rather than rely on local bounty hunters or the town’s own lawmen. It certainly seemed to suggest that there was a lack of trust on the part of the mayor in regards to his constituents. But then, if he was in the ‘building barely disguised statues of himself’ phase of his reign, it seemed likely that Mayor Voclain hadn’t cared to worry about what his constituents thought of him in quite a long time.

He was unsure of what exactly the plan Bellatrix had was, or if it was one he could comfortably get behind, but given how quickly Wes changed his tune about the whole affair when she spoke up, it seemed she had at least the Rockruff’s confidence. He’d let her hash out with the bloodthirsty Empoleon the specifics on the availability of gallows – they weren’t exactly a hard thing to build, in the Oshawott’s opinion. If he had his way, they’d never get to the point that said gallows would be considered. He’d spring the gang himself first if it came to that. Thieves or not, he refused to have their blood on his hands.

Well, first thing’s first. He’d have to go about getting this bank account set up, and then he had to go and let Lorenzo know the good news and get the outfit he was going to be advertising for the Spidops. Oh, also, it might be smart to get out of the way of the coming explosion that the glares Wes and Corey were exchanging promised. Big personalities were always so hard to work with.
Wes’s ear twitched at Ignatius’s mention of “the judge.” Something about the way he’d phrased that sentence had seemed…off. Was he implying that he was the judge and the mayor of this town? Or that he had the court under his thumb? Neither one would be surprising. Regardless of the answer, Wes was eager to get this slimeball out of his sight.

Corey’s reciprocated glare was not lost on him either, but Wes chose to ignore it. If the guy had something to say, he could very well say it; Wes himself had little interest in preserving the feelings of a brown-noser.

He did give Bellatrix a meaningful look, however. Clearly she had something up her sleeve, though he couldn’t be sure exactly what it was. Just what are you planning? He sure hoped she intended to inform the rest of the group on whatever she was scheming.
"I believe we've reached a general accord," affirmed Ignatius, his tone of voice suggesting that there had better not be any complications when his underling hashed out the administrative details with them.

He stood, and extended a flipper.

"I always shake on my agreements," rumbled the Empoleon. "A symbol, of the need for both parties to... retain their commitment."
Bellatrix hopped up on a nearby stool and held out a paw to reciprocate. Clearly, the shake had been intended for her. "You have my word that I will ensure that this job is fulfilled to the best of my ability," she replied. "Be sure to inform us where to station once the first half of the payment has been given."

Once she hopped down, she looked at the others. "This will be an important mission," she said with a serious tone of voice. "I will debrief you on what to do to solidify our approach later."

Back at Ignatius she offered a polite smile, a gesture she'd practiced countless times to make it look genuine. "Thank you for your time," she then hummed.
Ignatius shook not with the tip of his flipper, but with the metallic claws set within it. His fine motor control was fortunately very precise.

His smile back also looked genuine – and paternalistic. Was a smug smile better than a fake one?

"A 'mon in government must make time for these things," he said, coolly. "But that is all the time I have. I trust you can find the exit when you wish to leave. Good evening, and may the Star's eye look upon our mutual good fortune."

Mayor Ignatius let himself out, and slid the privacy blind back across behind him. He could be heard muttering something to one of the waitstaff, and then he was gone.
He was a politician alright.

Once the empoleon left, Bellatrix let out a massive huff. "I thought we'd be discussing this over a meal. Clearly, I'd set my expectations too high," she muttered. She glanced at the wanted posters on the table and rolled them up to slide them in her tail scarf. She tapped her paw on the ground a couple times impatiently. A shame, given all she heard, she was looking forwards to enjoying a meal here on the mayor's tab.

"I'll be eating at the Haus so we can discuss things further from there," she said a bit louder for the others to hear. "There a several things we need to reach an agreement upon."

She began to take her leave, though she intentionally stalled in case any of the others had anything else to say.
“Yes, well, I hadn’t had my hopes up about it…” Corey muttered regarding the lack of a meal. That Empoleon did not exactly reek of generosity.

“Guess we’ll meet you there then, though Archie and I might need to make a quick detour on the way,” he looked back at the Oshawott at this. “Unless we’d rather save that business for afterwards, your call.”

Either way, the Ralts moved to leave the booth, giving one last glare to Wes.

“If you’ve got a problem with me, pal, I’d prefer you tell it to my face when it’s next convenient for you,” he said with a hint of sarcastic politeness before fully excusing himself.
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