The sun rose in the sky, bringing a pinkish hue to the interior of the airship. Tames was the first of the guest to awaken, and walked into the main hub of the ship (after donning a black velvet jacket with a white shirt and black skirt to match) to find Atlas already awake, doing press-ups whilst reciting poetry - Henley, she reckoned.
"Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be, for my unconquerable soul..."
"Good morning, Mr Silver," she interjected, giving a little wave. He finished the last one and stood upright, snapping his fingers as the table rose once more.
"Please," he said, "call me Atlas. Breakfast is served."
Fleet and Delacroix were the next to arrive - Fleet in a long, bright orange faux-fur coat and zoot suit and Delacroix in a red skirt with Parisian style striped shirt and black beret.
Flint was the last up, clothed in a tank top and docker trousers with simple leather shoes. They devoured breakfast quickly, and as the last mouthful was eaten the airship stopped.
"Scene of the crime," proclaimed Atlas as the door opened. "Fleet, Tames - I need data- anything out of the ordinary, find it and bring it to me as quickly as you can. Flint, I need you to ensure we don't run into any rouble. Delacroix, I'll need help establishing a motive. Got that?"
They nodded, and proceeded to descend from the ship towards the Earth.
He stood in the shadows, revolvers at the ready, polished to perfection.
The bullets were loaded, the power dry.
He was ready for the meddlers.
Ready to do what he had been born for - trained for - willing to die for.
The scene was gruesome, and none had bothered to clean it: there was still blood upon the cobbles, and - with any luck - residue from whatever else had killed her. She had choked to death, but on what? Why? Who could do such a thing - not only in a moral sense, but scientifically as well?
These were the questions that filled Atlas' mind as he examined the scene.
Fleet and Tames got to work analysing the blood, collecting various samples to be tested and tested again, while Flint stood over them like a parent over children.
Delacroix paced alongside Atlas, the two discussing the mentality of the killer.
"Consider the facts," she said. "Consider that she died choking on the smog - they wanted it to look like a death by natural causes or an act of God. What does that tell us about the person behind all of this?"
"They want to be noticed," he replied. "Despite the seeming mystery of the death, they want to be found out." A flash of nickel caught his eye in a nearby alcove, and instinct took over. He launched Delacroix to the floor, crying out to the others to get down as a volley of bullets shrieked through the air.
The gunman in the shadows fired again and again as Atlas counted the shots - six, seven, eight-nine, ten, eleven... Twelve! He leapt as the gunman reloaded, landing next to Flint as another set of bullets were fired.
"Well," the boxer grimaced, "now what, smart boy?"
"He's using two revolvers - nickel plated - the rounds are armour piercing. Your best bet is to strike when he's reloading."
"But there's no damned cover, you nut! It'll kill us both!" Atlas smiled, and simply drew a small spherical case from his pocket - it opened to reveal the same strange gadget that Delacroix had seen on the notes last night, and he raised it high.
"No cover, eh? I love a challenge, Flint. Run!" He pressed the button, and the two charged as the gadget began to glow brightly.
The bullets raced towards them - and then just flew away, repelled. They ran faster, and the bullets ricocheted off the air in front of them alone, the glow of the gadget diminishing faster and faster as their assailant reloaded.
Finally, they reached the gunman, and with seconds to spare as the guns were cocked and the gadget's glow vanished, the two men launched their fists directly into the attacker's face, sending him flying into a nearby wall.
Atlas quickly ran over and checked his pulse - he was in a bad way, alright, but still ultimately alive.
He then removed the attacker's shoes and checked his feet, recoiling a little from the sight.
There was a tattoo on his sole of a single black lotus.