Marielda 03: The Crosstown Job Pt. 1

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In this episode, Ali, Jack, Sylvi and Dre build their characters and their crew, The Six, before embarking on their first heist: stealing the plates that control Marielda's new crosstown train.

Background[edit | edit source]

Episode description[edit | edit source]

Marielda is a city filled with scoundrels. Bakers lean on the scales as they count loaves of bread. Men and women in pubs shoot loaded dice. Art dealers swear, solemnly swear, that this is a genuine Sabbatini, just look at the brushstrokes. No, scoundrels in Marielda are ten-a-penny. But sometimes, the sun smiles, and its light shines upon those who have something… particular about them. Look, there they are now. A strongman, binding up his fists in front of a mirror. A dancing master, marking time with a dagger. A little alchemist emerging from a cloud of something purplish. And an alabaster figure, face covered by the wide brim of a hat. Step forward into the light, my friends.

This Week on Marielda: The Crosstown Job Pt. 1

When I see your face, it's like lookin' into a mirror.

Cold open[edit | edit source]

It had been fifteen years since the forces of the Boy-Traitor Samot were turned away from Marielda by the violent ingenuity of the Artificer Divine Samothes. Thousands died in the final battle of the war, and so, the people of Marielda gathered to rebuild again. Except, now, with the esoteric machines of the Father Inventor, Marielda regained itself at speed. And with speed, it has changed. The city has realigned itself, splitting into six parishes, each centered around a church of Samothes, and each corralling a disparate crowd into a compact mass.

New walls and buildings have sprung into place, readymade, lifted up by the unseen pistons of the holy apparatus. The deep abyss where the Tower of Mages once stood has bloomed verdant into an architectural and natural wonder, The Hanging Gardens of Maelgwyn, a monument to the missing son of Marielda. And in the southeast, the factories have remained factories, and the only thing that's changed about the refugee camp is, there's less room and more people.

After all, a war is on, and the living soldiers of Samothes himself have marched out of Marielda and into Hieron to confront Samot once again. In their absence, Marielda broils. Automatic constables, frustrated exiles, and the petty politics of the wealthy, and the struggles of those who dream they might be.

Heist setup[edit | edit source]

So, there's this train. There's been a train now, for a while. And it runs along the entire outskirts of the city, down the wall from north to south, from the top of Violet Parish down past the forest outside of the Canopy, then east across the bottom wall, north of the sea that seems to go on forever, and then it cuts up across the coast to the east where the island is hottest. It goes up past Slow Point, and then connects back into Chrysanthemum Parish, and then it loops all the way back around at the top.

It has been a year since this train was first built, and it seems to revolutionize things. At least at first. After all, now if you, for instance, own a shop in Chrysanthemum Parish, you could very easily have the goods that you're having produced for you down in the Iris shipped up to you without having to cross through Hell's Parish at all. If you lived in Orchid Parish, you didn't have to pass through Helianthus to go to Chrysanthemum anymore to go to the courthouse. You could take the long train up and around the entire city without having to walk where those people were. And if you lived in the north of Helianthus or Emberboro and wanted to go work in the factories, it was fairly easy to get on that train and go where you needed to go.

But there have been some problems. After all, if you were the person in Chrysanthemum Parish who owned a transportation business, this has cut into your black a little bit. You're losing money now. And so there was an agreement struck with this transportation guild that there would be a second train, and that they would be put in charge of it. It would basically be a crosstown express. And because it would have to serve all these different people, a new station was built, right at where Orchid Parish, Hell, and Chrysanthemum all meet. And to keep things nice and neat, of course, there are different entrances, one for each different zone, basically. If you're very rich, you get to go on to the very rich car, and you don't even have to see the cars where people from Hell's Parish or the Canopy get on. And likewise, if you're from Helianthus, you're kind of stuck at the far back of the train, and it's cramped and there's not a lot of room.

And today is the first day that that train is going to run. And, because of that, a lot of that train track hasn't been laid out yet. And you've gotten a tip, probably from Ailen, Ailen Cartwright has told you that the way this train works—the way the other train works is that it has a plate that has the route on it, and that route ensures that even when reconfiguration happens, that route will remain in place. And so if you can get the plate from this thing, you can start to unravel how configuration happens, and how to counter it.

And so that is your first heist.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Prelude[edit | edit source]

The Six, a group of criminal knowledge peddlers consisting of Aubrey, a cobbin alchemist, Sige, a giant of a man, Hitchcock, a cavalryman-turned-dancing-and-dueling-instructor, and Castille, a self-aware pala-din, are planning to steal navigation plates from the Crosstown Express on its first day.

Before Train Day, Castille snoops around the train depot as the porcelain cat which she can move her consciousness into. Trying to avoid a pala-din patrol, she hops into an open door of the train and hides amidst the hay covering the floor of an empty car. The pala-din march into the car and stand there to await a time when they may be needed. Castille transfers her consciousness back into her other body, leaving the cat in the traincar.

The group plans to board the car by deception: Aubrey as a mechanic, Sige and a disguised Castille with the riffraff from Helianthus, and Hitchcock pretending to take people's tickets at the Orchid entrance (when, in fact, the ticketing system at that entrance is automated).

The job[edit | edit source]

There are no sudden surprises as the action begins. Sige and Castille are in a crammed subway-style car near the back of the train full of skeptical-seeming people on their way to work. A man outside is betting his friend that he'll still beat him to the factory. There are no chairs, but there are things to hold onto. Hitchcock is in a nice breakfast car filled with upper-middle-class people from the Canopy.

In the engine car at the back of the train, Aubrey is met by another cobbin, who, stressed, says he didn't expect anyone else to be there. From below the floor, a voice shouts, "I thought it was only you and me!" before Aubrey says she was assigned there for on-the-job training. When asked for her name, she calls herself 'Audrey'. The cobbin introduces himself as Zaktrak and starts showing her what to do with some knobs and levers. The hand of a weaver reaches up through a grate and waves, each finger moving individually, as the voice from below introduces herself as Peg.

As the train starts moving eastward across the southern wall of Chrysanthemum Parish with an unnerving smoothness, Hitchcock tries moving forward into the next carriage but is stopped by Ali, a train steward stationed there. Hitchcock tells the steward he's looking for his son, a little asthmatic boy named 'Edmund', and thinks he went in there. The steward Ali calls their coworker from the opposite end of the car, Jeremy, to watch the door while they bring Hitchcock into the next car, which turns out to be the one with the pala-din that Castille's cat form is hidden in. In the dark car, Ali calls out for 'Edmund' while Hitchcock wonders if his son may have fallen off the train, but they reassure Hitchcock that his son is probably asleep at home and suggest that he go back and get a croissant. Hitchcock insists that he saw his son board the train, at which point Ali slams the door shut, leaving the car darker than it already was, and begin to barrage Hitchcock with questions about his 'son'. Hitchcock breaks into tears and says that the child's mother, 'Amelia', is missing as well. While the door is shut and the room is dark, Castille jumps her cat body into Hitchcock's coat. After calling out for 'Amelia', the steward brings Hitchcock back into the breakfast car.

As the train approaches the middle of the city, it lifts into the air on new supports that are being built underneath it as it goes, and swings southward while 40 stories above Helianthus Parish. As the train rises, the windows open, letting a cool breeze into the oppressively hot train; in the dining car, they swing open slightly from the top, while the windows of the passenger car that Sige and Castille are in gape open wide enough that someone could fall from one and die. The gang begins planning to stop the train so they will have more time.

Hitchcock sits at the bar, where an older bald man pours him a cup of coffee, saying "This'll fortify you, sir. Now now, can't have you crying. Not on Train Day." After Hitchcock says he'll try to be brave, the older man pours him a small glass of orange juice, and tells him "No charge".

To create a distraction that will let Castille meet up with Aubrey in the engine room, Sige yells, "What the fuck did you say about my mom?" and punches the nearest person, the same guy who was betting his friend that he would get to the factories first, in the face. Sige hits him too hard and he starts to slip out the window.

As the guard rushes forward, Castille slips into the engine car, where Aubrey is moving knobs, pulling levers, and inserting obsidian into tubes. Zaktrak drops everything, including a flask which shatters on the ground, and salutes. Peg's hand comes up and does a salute motion, and Aubrey salutes as well. After Zaktrak reports that's everything is fine there, Castille, looking at the smoking contents of the shattered flask, asks, "What's that green stuff?" Shocked by a talking pala-din, Zaktrak fumbles and opens the car's back door, nearly falling out of the train before being grabbed by Peg, who emerges from beneath the grate, her arms and body billowing in the wind as she closes the door and takes a defensive posture, with one arm in front of Zaktrak and herself and the other reaching around the car for something to use as a weapon. Aubrey apologizes and throws a bottle of sleeping gas (prepared in a flashback) on the ground, which shatters and releases blue smoke, knocking out everyone in the car but Castille, who doesn't breathe. She walks over and breaks three of the knobs, slowing the train but not stopping it. Through some communication tubes, she can hear people yelling from the other cars.

The steward pulls the person Sige hit back into the train and starts hammering uselessly at Sige with closed fists, before looking back at the engine room as the train begins to slow down.

"Look," Sige tells him, "I appreciate that you've got a job to do. This guy started something, I finished it. I think it'd be better if I wasn't here so why don't you just take me to the next car and we'll just call it a day." The intimidated steward reluctantly agrees and moves Sige into the next car forward

At the bar, Hitchcock can hear the distant but unmistakable clanking sound of a pair of cavalry boots, followed by the sound of a door opening and the more muted sound of the boots moving over a hay-covered floor. The door at the front of the car opens to reveal the noseless face of Hitchcock's longtime rival Thackeray, who is now Lance Sovereign Marielda, the leader of the Golden Lance. Almost without realizing what he's doing, Hitchcock immediately looks away from the figure, throwing his head onto the bar and knocking over the glass of orange juice as he sobs more intensely and hides his face from view.

Thackeray squints at the sobbing figure at the bar for a second before being distracted by another man, the spitting image of Captain Hitchcock, who stands up from his seat, draws a cavalry sabre, and announces, "Okay, this is a train robbery, I'd like all of your jewels in this bag," revealing that the character of Hitchcock is actually a pair of identical twins.

Cast[edit | edit source]