I pulled up to the hidden garage door and honked m horn in the correct sequence. I released the excess steam from the car, as the doors parted and ventured forward into the garage. I stepped out of the vehicle, gathered my things and ventured into the living disaster area that was Lucy’s workshop. The sounds of steam releasing, gears grinding, electricity pulsating, and fluids bubbling filed the air.
I entered the living room to find Lucy and Tanis sitting before a chessboard. Tanis sat perfectly upright her blue eyes scanning the pieces. She was wearing what I assumed was one of my shirts, seeing that Lucy clothing is nearly child size. Her legs were bare down to her toes. The shirt was buttoned up to about mid bust and I could see one of Lucy’s bolted patches peeking above her dark cleavage.
She was quite appealing to the eye, her milk chocolate skin was flawless, save the almost crude patch Lucy fashioned. You would have never guessed Tanis was not human, strange mannerisms and quirks included. I sat my bag and cane on the floor next to the desk where Lucy’s scrying mirror sat. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a glass. I ventured back into the living room and sat down on the couch next to Lucy. Her bare feet were kicking back and forth into the air as she picked her next three moves. I always wondered way she never purchased furniture closer to her size. I filled my glass from the bottle of bourbon on the table.
“That took longer than expected did you pay the lovely Ms. Brill a visit?” Lucy asked, moving a pawn forward.
I took a sip for the glass and lean back in the couch. I rolled the alcohol around on my tongue before answering. “I had an unexpected house guest, an old acquaintance from my police force days stopped in.”
“How did that go?”
“Better than one could have expected. Turns out the head of the beast was interested in what the left hand was doing. Mr. Devlin has a private eye on payroll to spy on his employees.”
“That could be useful.”
“My thoughts exactly. This may be the way to turn this whole thing around. I could save the kid as I was hired to do and get paid for it too.”
Tanis moved her bishop along the white squares. “Do you think Dr. Joseph Dorn is alive?”
“I believe so and it is likely he will remain so. Arlena needs him to either explain how to safely remove the heart core without it exploding or how to duplicate it.”
Tanis let out a barely noticeable sigh. She moved another chess piece, and then sipped a thick golden liquid from her glass. I sniffed the air and got the distinct aroma of oil. I then noticed the faint sound of winding mechanics. Lucy had done a great job, but the damage was definitely done.
“So my hope is that I manage to find something incriminating as well as a location for the kid. With a little luck I can get Mr. Devlin on my side.”
“I’m familiar with Franklin, He and my father were friendly.”
“I’m already tapping your resources, Lucy. If I find something I’ll arrange a meet through Winston, my visitor from earlier. I’m not sure I have the stamina to pay off the debt I have accumulated in the last two days.” I laughed faintly and took another drink from my glass.
“Check” Tanis said.
“Clever girl, but it’s not game over just yet.” Lucy retorted moving her rook to take the threatening bishop.
Lucy turned her large aquamarine colored eyes toward me and said. “Yes, you have racked up quite the bill. I’m including the damages to the Apollo and the repairs to Tanis.”
“Wait, how are the repair to Tanis included. You got to work on the greatest piece of machinery ever created.”
“Second greatest.” Tanis corrected me.
I looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “How’s that?”
“The heart core is a far greater achievement. I am merely a machine with a given purpose. My actions here are merely programed simulations. The heart core gives life. It is a much greater accomplishment.” As she spoke her eyes seem to stare off to somewhere else.
“The heart core has potential for a great many things. Still you are a work of art, Tanis. You are what every technomagus in Luimere strives for, the ultimate combination of magic and technology. I just wish I knew how he did it,” Lucy said admiration in her voice.
“By he I presume you mean Dr. Dorn.” I said.
“Yes, Dr. Dorn is my creator. I was completed shortly after the birth of Braylen. I had been programmed with the knowledge to watch over and care for Braylen since his birth. I monitored the child’s health while he remained trapped within the confines of the generators that kept him alive.”
“Explains the bare apartment.”
“Yes, Dr. Dorn set it up for occasions when I needed to not be around. Particularly, when Arlena or any of his colleagues were about. Technically, I’m Devlin Works property as well.”
“That being the case I think it may be best if you remain here until I recover the kid. Arlena is under the impression that you and I are dead. And Winston’s report will back that up a bit.”
Lucy moved one of her bishops across the board taking a knight. “Check.”
Tanis moved a rook taking the bishop and lined it up for the checkmate on Lucy trapped king.
“Check Mate” she told Lucy.
“How did you pull that off?” Lucy asked exasperatedly.
“I predicted well. I was often Dr. Dorn’s opponent.”
Lucy threw her hands up in defeat and laid her king down. She hopped down from the couch and turned to me. She took the glass from my hand and finished off the remainder of the bourbon. She then grabbed me by the tie and dragged me to my feet. Her eyes were smoldering with undeniable desire. She turned to Tanis and performed a small curtsey.
“Well Ms. Tanis I concede defeat. If you will excuse me, I’m going to take Marcus here and make him pay off some of his debt. Finish that glass of lubricant before you set yourself to rest.”
“I will, thank you for saving my existence, Lucy.”
“No, thank you for the opportunity to work with perfection.” Lucy told her.
Lucy led me by my tie up the stairs to her bedroom. We walked in and she instructed me to close the door. She guided me to the bed and made me sit. Hey, she may be tiny, but with the strength enhancement arm wear on she was stronger than most men. She removed the arm armor and let them fall to the floor with a thud. She walked out of her mechanic’s jumpers as she stepped toward me. Leaving her entire lower half exposed to my hungry eyes. She crawled on to the oversized bed and unbuttoned my coat, vest, and shirt. She ran her tiny coarse hands up my abs and chest slowly. She straddled me as she moved and rolled my vestment from my shoulders. I remained silent as she worked; it was how we had always done it.
Lucy removed her grease-stained blouse, which exposed her perfectly shaped bosom. She kissed me with tiny pecks back down my chest and abdomen. She took her time and kissed each of my healing bullet wounds. The kisses both stung and were pleasant at the same time. I exhaled as she descended and closed my eyes. I felt her grasp at my belt buckle and I’m going to stop right there, you dirty perverts.
I awoke the next morning to an empty bed. I made my way to Lucy over-sized bathroom and cleaned myself up. I threw on brown slacks, a cream colored shirt, black suspenders, plain black tie and a dark green vest. I covered the shirt and vest with a lighter green jacket. I put on my gun belt containing Lucy hoping I would not have to use it today. In the back of my mind I thought of the kid, I did not think that he was in the same kind of danger he was in previously. Still, Arlena had proven unpredictable and though time was not running against me… the clock was still ticking.
I ventured from the bedroom down to the living room. The place was empty. I grabbed a bite to eat from the kitchen and headed into the workshop. Lucy was at work swapping some components on what looked like a silver bracelet. Tanis sat next to her studying her work as still as a bronze statue. She was back in her own clothes and from the looks of it she’d patched the bullet holes.
Lucy stopped working as I approached her and looked up to me “I had forgotten about your allergy to silver. Fortunately, the enchantment does not have a required metal component. A few changes and this pocket watch will maintain the illusion.” She held up a gold pocket watch that was sitting next to the bracelet.
“Thank you for remembering. I’ve experience more than enough pain in the last two days.” I said rubbing the mostly healed bullet wound on my head.
“Well, now that you are up and ready, we should head over to Richie’s. He’s closing down shop for us since we need this for tonight.”
“I still don’t understand why I can’t use one of my own suits.”
“Where we are going tonight there will not be a single person wearing an off the rack outfit. The idea is for you to blend in with the snobbish crowd. In one of your suits you will stand out like a sore thumb.”
I shrugged my shoulders and leaned against the bench next to Tanis. She was idly rolling a loose gear back and forth with her index finger. Lucy did her final adjustments to the watch and whispered an incantation. A soft glow of amber light gleamed from the watch. After a few moments the glow subsided and the watch returned to a normal appearance.
“And there you go one illusion spell in the form of a very tasteful rather expensive watch. Now, let me go wash up and put on something appropriate for visiting Richie,” the diminutive half gnome declared.
Lucy placed the watch on the bench and walked out of the workshop. Tanis looked over to me and then at the silver chain. She had a puzzled expression on her face.
“An allergy to silver?”
“I tend to break out in really nasty hives when it touches my skin.”
“You…” She hesitated for a second, “are not entirely human are you?”
“No, like you I’m a bit different. We’ll just leave it at that,” I told her.
She nodded and continued playing with the gear. After a few moments, Lucy returned to the workshop. I stared speechless, my brain stunned by how shockingly beautiful she looked. I had only seen Lucy in her jumpsuit or nothing at all over the last several years. Before me now, Lucy stood in a black blouse with a raised collar and long sleeves that stopped just before her wrist. Her hands were covered with floral patterned black lace gloves. She wore a dark blue satin skirt of the hoop fashion featuring a black lace fringe.
Her blonde hair still with blue ends was tied up in a high bun. A tiny black top hat with a blue stripe around it was pinned to the top of her head. Attached to the hat were blue, black and silver feathers. Lucy had swapped her usual gear earrings with aquamarines fashioned in gold floral patterned frames. She had black eyeliner on that made her large aquamarine eyes pop and her lips were painted a soft pink. Gorgeous would be the best description possible for the site I beheld. At four feet and inches the appeal was that of an adult, not a child. Lucy picked up a blue umbrella from the corner of her workshop and walked over to the door leading to her warehouse.
I got up and followed her to the door Tanis on my heels. Lucy pressed the code and we entered the warehouse. We walked over to the jet black Zeus, Lucy looked up to me and smiled. “You are going to be my chauffeur today. Tanis, I leave my home in your hands. Please be mindful of the things I asked you to watch over, we will be gone most of the day.”
“I will,” Tanis assured Lucy.
I opened the backdoor for Lucy with a slight bow and a big smile. Lucy did not return my smile, though one corner of her mouth curl slightly. She walked pass me, collapsed her skirts and climbed into the cavern that was the Zeus’s back seat. Lucy handed me the keys before I closed the door behind her. I slid on to the fine leather of the front seat and started the steammobile’s engine. Tanis opened the garage door and we pulled out into the gray of the day. Lucy instructed me to take the highway towards downtown as she fussed with her skirts. As good as she looked in them there was no question how uncomfortable she was. I adjusted the rear-view mirror so that I could see her and said, “You look beautiful.”
She noticeably blushed, but looked at me with her normal blank stare. “I hate these things,” she said staring at her skirts. “Honestly they get in the way and are not comfortable at all. I’d get an earful from Richie if I didn’t come dress to impress though.”
“How do you know this Richie?” I asked her.
“He used to make all of my gowns and dresses growing up. He was a close friend of my mother. I actually haven’t seen him since the funeral, he made my mourning dress.” I could see her stare off into the distance through the rear view mirror.
“Sorry Lucy, I didn’t mean to open old wounds.”
“It’s okay; you’ve been there with me through it all. You have seen me at my worst. Anyway I will warn you Richie may try to come on to you. You are young, tall and extremely fit, which is precisely his type.”
“It would not be the first time.” I laughed.
I pulled off the highway and we made our way through the busy streets of Downtown Luimere. I found a parking spot in the small lot behind the boutique. I exited the steam-powered car and opened the back do to let Lucy out. She settled her hand in the hook of my bent arm and we walked around the front of the building.
The front featured two large windows displaying complete garments. They were flashy and nothing I would personally wear but the craftsmanship was very impressive. We walked up to the door and Lucy knocked on it twice. An elderly gnome about three feet in height wearing gold jeweler’s glasses answered the door. He wore a sky blue button down shirt with a vibrant purple bow tie. He wore ash gray and white pinstriped pants held up by purple suspenders. He spoke in an accent I could not place.
“Miss Lucy it has been too long.” Paused looking her up and down. “Oh, you look so fabulous. I’m amazed this fits you so well and look at this fine specimen of a man. Please both of you come inside.”
“It is good to see you, Richie.” Lucy said as we entered the Boutique. The two of them exchange quick kisses on each cheek. “How has business been?”
“It has been well, the competition is fierce but I still have my wits about me. Needless to say your mechanical stilts put me on a level playing field.”
“That is good to hear. This is Marcus Moore, he is a close friend of mine and will be my guest for the Silverstein’s event this evening.”
“Hello,” I said.
“And what a man. I don’t think I’ve seen eyes so golden before.” He clutched a small hand around my thigh and then my forearm. “Oooh, he’s in shape too. Lucy you brought me a gem to work with.”
“Wait till you see him with his shirt off.” They both laughed wholeheartedly as we walked back to Richie’s workshop.
We entered a perfectly circular room, segmented by pillars of a pale wood. Along the walls in-between the pillars were racks and shelves filled with rolls of fabrics. There were racks covered with various leathers and shelves filled with materials to make jewelry and other accessories. In the center of the room was a raised platform about two feet in diameter made of a dark brown wood. The carpet around the platform had been worn down from years of small tailor exercising his craft.
“Mr. Moore, do please come with me. You will need to remove these garment for me to see the canvas I have to work with.”
“Please, Marcus is fine.” I said “Seeing that you are about to see me in my undergarments such formalities are a bit unnecessary.”
Smiling Richie took me by the hand and led me over to the raised pedestal. I reluctantly removed my clothing save my underwear. Richie folded each piece respectfully and placed them on an empty shelf. He and Lucy stood next to one another and stared. Richie then tapped a button on the floor next to him and the pedestal began to slowly rotate.
“Lucy, he has the body of a God,” Richie said with a pleased look on his face. “The scars make him all the more appealing. Are you certain he is not a present for me?”
“He belongs to no one, Richie. However I’d be lying if I said I have not enjoy his company.”
“Um… I am standing here.” I said blushing.
“Oh we see, my good sir, we see you.” Richie said.
He pressed the button again and I stopped rotating. He walked over to a table and fashioned on a pair of bronze colored boots. The shoes placed him on platforms nearly six inches tall. He grabbed a wide leather belt filled with tools of his trade. I noticed two distinct buttons on the belt that rested on his left hip.
He walked over to me and pulled out his measuring tape. The bronze and leather shoes must have been lighter than they looked because his stride did not differ. He withdrew a measuring tape from his pocket and pressed one of the two buttons on the belt. The mechanics within the shoes went to work and he was lifted up two feet in the air.
“Well now Mr. Moore, let me tell you a little about how I work. When I tailor a suit or a dress, I tailor it to the soul of the person. In order for me to capture this essence I have my client tell me a story, something of interest from their past. In your very, very pleasing case, I want to hear how you and the lovely Lucy met.”
“Well… I… Suppose I have no choice in the matter,” I said hesitantly. It was something I had thought about in years. “The whole thing was actually arranged, it wasn’t a chance happening kind of thing. Maybe it’s better if I start from the beginning.”
“That will be delightful. The whole story will add so much character to this piece. Lucy dear, please have a seat, I just put a fresh pot tea and cakes on the table.”