Lights glittered like fallen stars from the windows of the uptown mansion that dwelled, safe and isolated from the rest of the city, behind a wrought iron gate and a duo of heavily armed guardsman. The contraptions the guards held menacingly in their hands might once have resembled a simple musket, but the clockwork additions on the stock and the pistons that drove the cogs made them look far more lethal than the original design they had been modified from. A rubber hose snaked from the largest of the pistons to a small steal backpack that the guards wore. The side of the pack that was touching them was heavily insulated so that the smoldering coal fire contained within, evidenced by the smokestacks belching fumes above, wouldn’t burn them. Even still, sweat beaded on the guards’ foreheads in the cold air and snow that swirled around them while they waited with Grimm for word to come back from the mansion. The breathing units the guard wore had been designed and created to match their uniforms, a sure indication of the money that the family owning the mansion possessed.

Finally, a heavily cloaked and muffled figure moved quickly from the massive front doors of the estate towards the gate. Expensive white fur-lined the dark green cloak that the figure had pulled tight around themselves and just the tip of a jeweled breathing unit could be seen to stick out of the hood, the light glinting off the decorations each time they turned their head to look back at the main house, nervousness evident in their manner.

One of the guards moved back away from the waiting guest towards the iron gate and listened to the cloaked figure. Nodding his head slowly the guard motioned the guest forward and pulled a large key from below the collar of the shirt of his uniform, the dark blue having long since been stained grey by the frequent ash falls he had to work through. Fitting the ornate bronze key, attached by a chain around his neck, into the centerpiece of the gate, he turned it and an audible click followed. Putting his weight into it, the heavy gun he bore held in one hand with help of a hook bearing most of its weight on his belt, he opened the gate just enough to allow the guest to slip through. The cloaked figure backed up a couple steps as the guest entered through the opening. A slender gloved hand escaped the confines of the cloak and beckoned him to follow it.

The two made their way to the front door of the house as the guards watched from their post at the now relocked gate. Shrugging to each other they moved back to their positions on either side of the gate and watched a hunched old man maneuver a shovel on the walkways outside the great mansion, clearing the snow from the ground. No breather adorned the poor old man’s face and the guards chuckled to themselves at the pathetic lives of the underclass, those that had to take any job to make ends meet, even the filthy work of clearing away the drifts of ash fall that would otherwise clog the streets of the affluent quarter.