As I drove down Gold Street back toward the highway, Lucy slipped out of her dress and into her usual jumpsuit. Apparently, she had brought a stash of changing clothes. A pair of tiny bare feet hopped over the front seat and Lucy’s small form slid into the space next to me. I pulled off the enchanted watch and could see myself again in the mirror. Lucy picked up the documents I had thrown down on the tan colored cushion. Using the enchanted lamps on her goggles, Lucy spent a few moments sifting through the papers. I drove silently not wanting to disturb her process.
“This is a well-conceived plan. She would be able to buy a significant amount to the company from the trustees and give poor Franklin the boot. She would swipe the company from right under him.”
“It’s bigger than that.” I said. “This whole thing is being orchestrated by Mr. Silverstein.”
“That would make sense it appears he has his eyes on a senate seat. Obtaining Devlin Works would add revenue to his coffers. Giving him more than an overwhelming shot at gaining a seat.”
“What’s the Heartcore got to do with it?”
“Incentive, Arlena is not a full member of the board as of yet. Presenting the core would give her major influence over the rest of the committee. She could approach them more openly about future possibilities. This is a lengthy game plan, she would ride this out for at least two more years.”
“Hopefully this will be enough to oust her with Mr. Devlin. I’ll give Winston a summons when we return to your place.”
“I could contact him myself. Hell Marcus, he was at that party.” She said perturbed.
“I know you could Lucy, but I want this to come through the guy he trusts most. From the impression I got from Winston, Mr. Devlin is expecting someone within his organization to do exactly what Arlena is planning to do.”
“That is a logical conclusion. What are you going to do about finding the child?
“Arlena stated that she would be visiting wherever they are holding the kid. I’m going to summons Tobias and see about getting a few of the lurkers to tail her. With a little luck and a lot of skill, she’ll lead us right to them.”
“You are cute when you are formulating a plan.” she said expressionless as ever.
I pulled into the docking bay entrance of Lucy’s place releasing the remaining steam just before entering. I pulled up next to what remained of the Apollo Lucy had lent to me. It looked horrible, the vehicle’s rear-end was charded with black scorch marks, bullets dings where the enchantment had failed and the roof was completely corroded away from the repelled acid spell. The windshield was non-existent and the left side mirror was gone.
Lucy got out of the Zeus and walked around the Apollo a few times. She studied each mark intently. I could see the cogs turn as she analyzed what I assumed was the effectiveness of enchantments. She withdrew a small set of tools and tiny bags from one of her pockets and began scraping off samples. I gathered my things and headed into the house. I’d witnessed Lucy in her inquisitive form enough times to know when to leave her be. I entered the workshop cautiously and navigated to the safety of the living room. Tanis sat in one of the two chairs perfectly still reading a book. She looked up to me with curious blue eyes.
“No, I did not find out where she is keeping the kid and his father.” I told her before should could ask. “I did find information that I can use against her with her employer.
“How is that going to help you save Braylen?” She asked distress in her voice. There it was again.
“It will provide options. I did also find out that she intends to visit the facility on the morrow. I plan to have someone following her and once she ventures to where they are, we will send in the cavalry.”
“I want to be there when you go for them Marcus” She said putting down her book. For a being that was created in a lab, I swear there was a soul on fire in there.
“I had every intention of having you along for the ride,” I said. “If we manage to get them out, both the kid and the doctor will want to see a familiar face,” I turned to the scrying mirror. “Tanis give me a minute I have to make a few summons before it gets too late.”
“Very well.” She said and returned to the book she was reading.
I summoned for Winston at his place of residence. I hoped that it would not be too late, as I really did not wish to disturb his wife. An odd couple as they are; Winston is married to a dwarf and from what I recalled; she had a bit of a temper. After the fourth chime a sleepy eyed Winston appeared within the mirror. “Marcus… it’s rather late,” He grumbled.
“It is only eleven, but never mind that. I apologize for the intrusion. I have come across some information that your employer will find interesting.”
“Is that right?”
“Yes, I have come across documents mapping out the plans of a corporate takeover. The Silverstein’s are plotting to take the company out from under him.”
“That would be exactly what he has been waiting for. For weeks he has had me picking through Arlena’s garbage and stalking her around. I starting to believe he was paranoid. The woman is extremely good at covering her tracks.”
“Well she pissed off the wrong guy this time. This hound has her scent and I will not be backing down anytime soon. Do you think you can arrange a meeting tomorrow morning? Somewhere public but secluded. I must maintain the ruse of myself being among the dead.”
“For this, I’m certain Mr. Devlin will clear his schedule. Are you familiar with the gentlemen’s club downtown known as the Hurley?”
“Yes I am. I believe it is one of the those member’s only clubs for the wealthy.”
“Mr. Devlin is one of the benefactors for that particular club. I’ll see if I can get Mr. Devlin to free up some time between mid-morning to noon. Will I be able to reach you here?”
“Great! Yes, you can use this location. Thank you, old friend.”
“Not a problem you may have done both of us a huge favor. I will contact you on the morrow.”
Winston closed the connection and I immediately made a summons for Tobias. It took a few chimes, but Tobias’s face appeared in the mirror. He was wearing his goggles and I could see vehicles of various shapes and sizes passing by behind him. He was on the road likely settling some disputes in his territory or whatever street gangs did. I made it a point to not know details of his operations. I did not want to be upset with what I discovered.
“Marcus, looking mighty fancy. I thought the P.I. game did not pay so well?” He said with a big grin.
“It helps to know people that know people.” I said in replay.
“That is quite the relationship you have there. I need to find me one of those.”
I laughed. “Lucy is one of a kind, Tobias. So listen, do you have a few lurkers you could spare tomorrow?”
“Maybe, what’s the story?”
“I may have a lead on the location of the kid. I’m going to need someone that is not myself to shadow Arlena Silverstein on the off chance she thinks I’m alive. I overheard her saying she would be headed to the location tomorrow.”
“That can be arranged. We can keep a low profile and stalk her like prey. Give me the particulars.”
I spent the next few minutes providing Tobias with address, descriptions and instructions on what to do when the location was found. He committed it all to memory, and then we said our goodbyes. I stepped away from the mirror, nodded to Tanis and headed up to Lucy’s room. I stripped out of the tailored suit into more familiar clothing. Once more, I placed Lucy comfortably on my hip and the protective charm around my neck.
I ventured back downstairs and joined Lucy in her workshop. The hum of electricity vibrated throughout the room. Lucy was sitting a one of her desk staring at something under a microscope. There was an open package of chocolate on the table next to her. I reached over to snag a piece, her little hand instinctively lashed out and slapped the back of my own.
“Oww!” I exclaimed feigning pain.
A small smile kissed the corner of her mouth. She turned the knobs on the microscope adjusting the magnification and then jotted down notes on a small piece of paper. I looked at the notes, not understanding a bit of what it meant. The scribble was a mixture of arcane markings and complex math equations.
“I have to thank you, Marcus.” She said without looking up. “The shielding was a new enchantment I had been working on. It was similar to the one on your Athena, however the Apollo had not been tested.”
“I am grateful you insisted on us taking it. Though I am extremely sorry about the damage done.” I replied resting my back against the workbench.
She shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. “Eh, it was a gift. You are not the only individual vying for my attention. You are just the one who actually gets it. Besides the shielding needed a proper field test. The enchantment held up to the impact damage from the bullets and to some extent the heat from the fire. It completely buckled from the acid, though that may be partly because both spells were of my signature.
I rubbed my hand across the back of my neck. “The Magus countered the acid round and repelled it back at us.”
“I warned you, any Magus with half his wits about him would be able to do that.”
“I know, I know. Sometimes I believe I’ve grown too dependent on the extra power those spells provide.”
“Don’t, it’ll only get you killed. Anyway, this worked out nicely for me. I’ve already started formulating improvements, also I had Tanis put together a little project I’ve been working.”
She hopped down from her seat and guided me to another table. On it sat a bronze beetle no bigger that a small cog. Looking at it closer I could see the fine clockwork and craftsmanship of its design. The little construct’s eyes were tiny mirrors that reflected with a small gleam. Lucy powered on a scrying mirror positioned on the table. The image came into focus and I stood staring back at myself.
“Amazing, you’ve managed to create a one way scrying mirror.” I said with true interest.
“Marcus, would I ever do something that simple?”
She picked up a strange looking bronze box with different colored buttons and knobs on it. Protruding out from the top was spiraled piece of copper wiring. Lucy flipped a switch on the box and several of the lights illuminated. She grabbed the small handle on the box and the little beetle sprang to life. It fluttered translucent wings and took to the air. Lucy flew the little clockwork beetle around the room. As the little machination flew, everything the beetle saw appeared in the scrying mirror. Lucy brought the device to rest on her shoulder and adjusted nobs on the controller. The view on the mirror adjusted until the image was focused on my face.
“That is amazing.” I said. As I did I heard my voice echo through the speakers below the scrying mirror.
“Thanks, I wanted to be with you when you go for the kid. This way I’ll be out of the way. If it is OK with you, I would like to be there at the meet with Franklin as well.”
“Too bad we can’t hear each other with it.”
She giggled softly “That is what this earring is for.” She sat the controller down and opened a small box on the table.
Inside was a pair of golden earrings in the design of three interwoven circles. The earrings were small about the size of a nail’s head. They were designed to clip on the ear as opposed to a piercing. Lucy picked up on of the earrings and clipped it to my left earlobe. She took the other and clipped it to her own.
In my head I heard her voice say. “I have enchanted these earrings with a very complex telepathy spell. I’m not certain of the range. My best estimate is about a quarter mile.”
“Not sure how helpful that will be if you are monitoring from here.”
“I won’t be monitoring from here. I have a Hephaestus rigged up with a fully equipped trailer. I will still be out of the line of fire but close enough monitor the area with my little beetle here.”
“This could work out really well, Lucy,” I told her as I handed the earring back to her.
“Oh, I know it will.” She said with absolute confidence.
Just then room went suddenly dark, then orange colored lights began to pulsate. I could see Lucy move quickly to the other side of the room between flashes of light. Tanis appeared in the doorway and headed toward me.
“Lucy, what is going on?” I shouted.
“Someone or something unauthorized just crossed my first set of wards.”
“I thought your place was undetectable.” I asked.
She opened a panel in the wall. Behind it was a collection of buttons and knobs. Lucy quickly punched a sequence, leaving each touch button illuminated. More panels along the walls of the workshop appeared revealing massive gears in threaded guides. The room shuttered, causing several items fall to the floor. The gears began to turn and the entire room began to sink the walls, the ceiling and the contents with us included.
Tanis and I shifted our weight with the shift of the room to maintain our balance. After a few moments, the room came to a halt several feet underground. Though looking at the room you could not tell the difference. The amber colored lights stopped flashing and the room returned to the pale blue it normally was. Oddly, all of Lucy’s gadgets and experiments fell silent in the same instance.
There was no whirring, buzzing, grinding or gurgling. Saying nothing, Lucy walked over to a row of cabinets and pressed a silver button. The steel gray shutter like cabinet door rolled clear on quietly grinding gears revealing ten scrying mirrors. Each mirror displayed a view within or around Lucy’s home. In one of the mirrors we saw the image of a black Artemis roll by.
“Friends of yours?” Lucy asked in a whisper.
“Looks like one of the cars that chased us from Orc Country.”
“It is the vehicle the Magus was in to be exact.” Tanis added.
“Well it appears they tracked you down.” Lucy said.
“I was under the impression your place was shielded from tracking spells.”
“It is to an extent.” She told me while gathering what looked like traveling supplies in a small bag. “There is one type of tracking spell my wards can’t block. Blood tracking.”
“Blood tracking…” I swore again.
“Yes, blood tracking. A nasty bit of magic that requires the use of necromancy and you know what necromancy does to the user. Muscle degradation, skin discoloration and tooth decay.” She shuttered.
“So they are literally tracking me by my blood. How do you counter something like that?”
“Magically? You don’t unless you willing to perform necromancy yourself. Divine magic is the only way to counter the spell that I know of. As far as protection from it you would need to find hallowed ground. It could be hallowed by either druid or divine magic, both will do the job.”
“In my list of people that own me one. None are priests, priestesses or druids.” I said rubbing my head.
“Your best bet is to leave through the back way and find a temple or shrine to hide out in until we can get a counter for the spell.”
“There’s a back-way out of here?”
“Yes through the door that normally leads to my warehouse. It leads into the Undercity.”
“The Undercity!” I nearly shouted. You have a doorway to the Undercity beneath your workshop. Lucy, do you have any idea what creeps around down there?”
“I’m well aware and have taken precautions. There are certain spell components I need that are easier to grow than procure. Not that I need to explain myself to you.” She stared at me with narrowed disapproving eyes.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I said surrendering to her death stare.
“Here take this I keep snacks and water in here to save me a trip to the kitchen. You will find a wall of pure electricity surrounding a small garden separated in three parts by steel columns wrapped in thick copper wires. Please don’t disturb my herbs. They are delicate and a pain in the neck to maintain. You will find a control box by the center section of the wall. There is a number pad on it. Punch the date we met on it and the shield will drop for five minutes.” Lucy handed me the satchel.
“Do you know what lies beyond your shield wall?”
“Not a clue. I had a crew clear out the area I needed and sealed it off. Occasionally, I am greeted by a corpse or two, but I believe most critters have learn to stay away.”
“What is this Undercity?” Tanis asked, she had remained silent and still throughout the conversation.
“The Undercity is the ruin of the city that once was.” Lucy told her.
“OK, and that is?”
“Its existence isn’t common knowledge, most have forgotten it even is there right beneath their feet.” I started to say, but Lucy cut me off.
“Marcus, you can explain it to her on the way. Your stalkers are going to start knocking on my door fairly soon if you remain here.”
“Right. Fates take me, I left my cane in your living room.”
“At least you keep my memento on you.” she said pointing at my gun.
“It keeps me warm at night.” I chided.
Lucy walked us over to the sealed door and entered in the access code. The door opened to a dark natural corridor made of gray stone. Lucy handed me a lantern with a floating blue glowing crystal in it. Glow stones have been around since the ancient days. The natural luminescent stones are commonly used for soft lighting homes and street lamps. They are more expensive that using steam generated electric light sources. They however have a several hundred-year life span.
Lucy handed Tanis a rifle she had stashed in a corner. It was a fine weapon all wood and polished steel. The rifle had brass fittings in the fashion of interlocked gears. Like my pistol there were two vials of a green attached just above the hammer.
“This is my newest toy. It materializes a new bullet immediately after fired. It will overheat after five consecutive shots if you do not give it three second to cool.”
“Understood.” Tanis replied.
“Marcus, I know your portable took a bullet. Here take mine, I’ll summons you in the morning.”
I bent over and stole a kiss on her cheek as I took the portable scrying mirror. I put it away in my jacket pocket and drew my pistol from her holster.
“Don’t worry, Lucy. I’m extremely hard to kill.”
“Get killed down there and I may dip into necromancy just to bring you back and kill you again.” She said with a straight face.
I started to laugh, but the actual worried in her eyes made me pause.
“We’ll be as careful and fates willing we’ll come out alive,” I reassured her. Tanis and I turned down the corridor and made our way into the darkness beyond.