My story begins, as is very usual for me, with asking a critical friend for an objective opinion on my suit of armor. Given that said friend was an alpaca, there was no awkwardness or reservation.
“You look ridiculous,” said Madamosielle.
I smiled. “Madamosielle, I have never been one for fashion, and neither are you.” The Gray Alpaca’s understated coat looked dull in comparison to the cream-colored hexagonal ridges on the brown hard shell. I slipped on the gloves, tucking them into my jacket sleeves. Madamosielle’s fur was hardly as powerful as Madamosielle herself, but it would serve as a suitable alternative to chain mail. The thin metal scales I had sewn in to the jacket and gloves would also help in the protection department.
I looked up though my goggles at the mirror. The fabric covering my face amounted to more of a heavy veil than a mask, its round contours evidencing a tortoise. The shell, made of thin metal and woven Kevlar I bought, would do well against bullets, either automation ones or ones the anarchists were fond of using.
“Too heavy and too hot,” objected Madamosielle, examining the shell.
“Too dangerous otherwise,” I said. “I’ve been weight training lately, and the work in my forge has toughened me up. I’ll be fine.” I flexed my muscles, enjoying the feeling of strength they gave me. Still, I knew that I was going to be slower and have a bit of a time getting around with the added weight.
Violet, my other loyal alpaca, ambled in. I asked her to report on what Ratgur had seen from his invisible perch in No Man’s Landing.
Violet sighed. “Ratgur saw the anarchists take over a ship. They are stealing a bunch of Imperial hardware.”
“That tells us nothing.”
“Hanna Brassheart says the Fox has joined the Resistance.”
“Right,” I said. “Technically we’re part of the Resistance too. Anything to get the Scarlet Man off his case, right?”
“He’s stealing from Imperials,” said Mademosielle. “It may not all be a show.”
“And what have the Imperials made but useless scrap metal?” I said. I turned away from the mirror and walked down to my weapons closet. My shepherd shearing crook and rocket hammer were in their rightful places, but neither would serve me. With my outfit, I was too heavy for the hammer to lift, and the crook would be long and ungainly and smack against the shell. In addition, this was supposed to be a disguise, and those weapons were famously associated with me. Another weapon was on order.
To my horror, Ratgur, who is an alpaca with invisibility and teleportation powers, appeared beside me as I opened the hidden door in the back of the closet. “Ooo” he said, looking at me with interest.
“This is not for you, Ratgur,” I said. “Go talk to Madamosielle and grow a few brain cells. Go!”
Madamosielle ambled over, probably to join me in rebuking Ratgur, which was one of her favorite pastimes - but then she saw the open door and opened her jaw, shocked into silence.
“What’s the big secret?” said Violet.
I sighed. “Okay, if I tell you, it stays here. We are not telling Mr. Fox or the anarchists.” And so I will not be telling you, because you might be Mr. Fox or an anarchist. Or both.
But twenty minutes later, I walked out of the hidden room carrying, against my better judgment, a sword that mere days ago I had been terribly frightened of using, certain that it would never strike true. I slid it into a waist sheath on my back perpendicular to my legs and largely hidden from view under the shell’s bottom lip. I tested my draw. Good enough.
I put on my mask and walked out of Evergreen Meadows, carefully locking the door to my hidden underground residence behind me on the way out. No amount of care was enough in these perilous times. I made my way to the house of the Resistor I knew as Eerie Coppernight, and knocked on the door.