I exited the backroom to the ladies sharing a pot of tea. Tanis rose and entered the bedroom behind me. She closed the door and I could almost immediately hear the shower come on behind me.
“Well Marcus, you were a busy boy. Crista was just telling me about the fight with the giant spider and the death of her dearest.”
“It’s been a long week.” I said dryly sitting on the couch next to her and pouring myself a cup of the earl grey tea.
“Longer still, Tobias summoned me while you were in the shower. He has a man on Arlena. She has not left the house as of yet.”
“Good to hear, once we have a location we’ll plan the rescue.”
“Rescue?” Crista asked.
I explained to the she-wolf all that had happen in the last two days.
“What interesting life you lead, young one. So, you intend to save this pup from his captors both of which are the child’s family?”
“In a nutshell, these particular pair of family members are more concerned with the device pumping life into the kid’s veins than the kid himself. I’m under the impression that the boy’s father is still alive and is being held captive as well.”
“Then consider me an ally in this. There is much I have to teach you, young one, and as I am to live top side, I believe there will be much for me to learn from you.”
“I welcome both the aid and the knowledge.”
“Lucy, what happened back at you place after Tanis and I descended into Undercity?
“Well my cloaking system worked like a charm. A hand full of thugs dressed in black ran around the place. Then the Magus with them realized you were no longer in the building and instructed them all to leave.”
Just then a voice could be heard over the internal speakers.
“Ms. Lucille, we are two city blocks from the Hurley,” said Winthrop’s voice from overhead.
Lucy stood and pressed a button on the brass desk. “Excellent Whinny, find a good place to park that will not draw the attention of the authorities.”
“As you wish, mistress.” said the voice over the intercom.
“Whinny?” Tanis asked.
“Old habits die hard.” Lucy replied.
“I haven’t heard that since the day I met you. Back when you were cute and innocent and designing magic guns?” I laugh warmly.
Lucy slapped me hard on the shoulder. I feigned discomfort, though I barely felt the slap. Crista smiled amused by our little game. Tanis returned to the room dressed in her original outfit of black slacks, shirt, and leather jacket. Lucy had gone a step further and got Tanis a black leather bodice.
Winthrop brought the large Hephaestus to a smooth halt. Lucy walked over to the desk and opened the small case that contained her enchanted earrings. The earrings were thankfully magnetic I’d been pieced by more than enough things in the course of this job. She clasped it firmly on my left earlobe.
“How’s that?” Asked Lucy’s voice from inside my head.
“That’s fine.” I replied.
“Interesting enchantment.” Crista’s voice intruded.
“Wait… What..?” Lucy stammered.
“So, it turns out that my being special has some extras.”
“Crista’s a mage?”
“No, little Lucy. Those of my kind have a mental bond.”
“And my head is officially crowded,” I said aloud. “If you ladies will excuse me, I have a meeting to get to. Lucy, the documents?”
“They are right here.” She said handing me a black leather case. “It’s water proof just in case it rains, which is always a possibility.”
“Thank you, Lucy.”
Lucy took a seat in the chair in front of the scrying mirrors and desk. She opened a hidden panel on the desk and removed the controller she had shown me the night before. Another panel flipped open revealing the clockwork beetle. The mechanics begin move and soon after the beetle took flight. As the five scrying mirrors illuminated, they gleaned the contents of the trailer, ourselves included.
Lucy pressed another button on the desk, the hidden door on the back of the trailer slid open. I tipped my hat to the ladies and exited the trailer, the tiny clockwork beetle in tow. Winthrop had found a wide alley behind a warehouse to park the Hephaestus. “A good spot,” I thought to myself.
“Yes it is.” Lucy said in my head.
“Okay, let’s keep this a quiet walk along. The last thing I want to do is appear as a loon in front of a man I’m about to present a conspiracy to.”
“Fine, fine. I’ll just enjoy the rear view.” Lucy joked.
I could not see the little beetle, but my keen sense of hearing could hear it close by. I walked out of the onto Maple drive and headed two blocks north to The Hurley. The city was as lively as ever. There were steam-powered cars and horse drawn carriages going up and down street. The sidewalks were filled with people traveling to and from work, tourist seeing the marvels that the great city of steam had to offer.
The Hurley was a majestic old style mansion featuring a wrought iron fence designed in the shape of cogs and gears. The building was four stories high made of cream-colored bricks. The tall white-framed windows were covered with evergreen curtains. I stepped through the gate and crossed the small yard. It seemed a bit out of place in heart of the industrial mecca.
I scaled the small flight of stairs and was greeted by a young human male with slightly slanted eyes and skin the color of a pale yellow hue. He wore a jacket of the same green featured in the curtains and a well-practiced smile.
“Mister Moore, I presume?” The younger man said.
“That is correct, I…” I started to say.
“Good, please come inside and follow me.” He said opening the large cherry wood door.
I once again felt out of place the moment I stepped inside. The club as it turned out was more than a place of gathering for men of power. The Hurley was an apparently a place of indulgence. As I followed my guide down the entrance hallway, that looked like it belong to an art museum, I also bore witness to acts generally reserved for the privacy of one’s home.
There were “Ladies” of every race wandering the halls and servicing the guest in next to nothing. As we walked I saw acts I rather not get into, but Lucy seemed highly entertained by. The air itself was filled with a mix of perfumes, tobacco, alcohol, opioids, and sex. My ears were ringing with the sounds of both male and female pleasure and the rapid almost droning pulse of heartbeats.
I had never experienced a sensory overload before, but I was nearly on the verge of blacking out. I thought to myself. “Lucy, I need a distraction give Crista the earring.”
“From where I’m sitting, you have a roomful of distractions,” she said amused.
“Lucy, imagine all of your senses were ten times stronger than they are, and then imagine you just walked into this. I need a distraction to dull my senses!”
“Okay, okay, no need to mind yell.”
“Your people are very open about your intimacy, Marcus,” said Crista’s motherly voice a moment later. “What can I do for you?”
“Well assuming the bond our kind shares also shares emotions. I need a memory, something peaceful and serene.”
“Ah, I understand, the activities around you are making it hard to focus. You are very smart to think of this. It was a common practice part of the reason we ran in packs.”
“So it will work?”
“You tell me, young one.”
At that moment the image of moon hovering over a quiet lake in the Firemist Mountains appeared before me. Just as suddenly everything I was sensing became an afterimage. I felt a small smile kiss the corners of my mouth. My guide led me up all four flights of stairs to the fourth floor. We walked down another hallway, this one lined with suits of armor from various eras and of different racial design.
We entered a room at the end of the hall that featured a very fine billiards table. The top matching the evergreen I’d seen throughout the venue. Within the room was a full bar with a large assortment of liquors and several different taps. There was a large fireplace opposite of the bar and had two large comfortable looking chairs in front of it on top of a plush evergreen rug. One wall was covered in shelves holding a large assortment of books the other held a dartboard, pool cues, chalk, and a triangle.
At the table Winston stood analyzing his next shot. The short elf had his jacket off and his selves were rolled up to his elbows. He was wearing a yellow shirt with ruffles on the chest and an auburn colored bow tie with matching suspenders. To his right sitting on a stool next to the window, a pool cue in one hand and a glass of something dark in the other was Mister Devlin.
He was at the tail end of middle age; close to fifty was my guess. He was tall, about two inches taller than myself. His chocolate brown skin was weathered with years, but not the appearances seen from many years of deskwork, tobacco and alcohol. More of a man who indulged from time to time, but for the most part took care of himself. I could see from where I stood his hands were calloused, indicating he worked with them often.
He was human, I should note wearing an expensive blue gray suit sans the jacket as it was hanging on the rack next to one of the bookshelves. He was clean-shaven showing the strong features of his face, a heavy brow with black eyebrows, a flat small nose and wide lips. His hair was gray and cut very close just short of bald. My young guide introduced me to the room, “Mister Marcus Moore is here to see you, sir.”
“Thank you, Leung Chu.” Mr. Devlin said. “Mr. Moore, what is your poison of choice?”
“I really should not.” I said.
“Well now, I simply can not discuss business as to what we are about to discuss with a man who would refuse to have a gentlemanly drink with me.” The dark skinned gentleman proclaimed.
“That being said, bourbon neat.” I replied.
“Leung Chu, please make the detective his drink, then exit the room.”
“Yes, sir.” Leung Chu said with a bow.
I walked further into the room and took up a stool next to the table. A moment later, Leung Chu placed a glass in my hand. He bowed again and promptly left the room. I heard the door close with a heavy click. I took a sip of the Bourbon and rolled it on my tongue a bit. In the isolation of the room I released my hold on the memory provided by Crista.
The beverage was fantastic, likely the best had I ever tasted. Which I guess showed on my face.
“Very good, isn’t?” Mr. Devlin asked.
“Yes, fantastic actually.”
“I get it shipped here from Bellmore.”
“Well the dwarfs have definitely outdone themselves.” I said. “Shall we get down to business?”
“Let us, Winston is a terrible billiards player any way.” Mr. Devlin replied with a warm smile.
“I can only play as well as my teacher,” he retorted. “So Marcus, since you went through the trouble of waking my dear wife last night, I hope this is not a waste of Mr. Devlin’s time.”
“Seeing that I spent the night in Undercity avoiding pursuit from the individuals who have attempted to kill me twice already, I hope so as well. Is this room secure from listeners?”
“Yes,” Mr. Devlin answered. “The walls and windows are enchanted to prevent intrusion.”
I opened the black leather case and handed Mr. Devlin the documents I had taken from Arlena’s office. Winston cleared the red and white balls off the table and went to the bar pouring himself another drink. Mr. Devlin silently read each document and placed them on the table in front of him. I sat there quietly and sipped my drink savoring each sip. After a moment Winston joined Mr. Devlin and looked over the documents as well.
“Marcus, how did you get these?” Winston asked.
“You have your resources, I have mine.” I said with a coy smile.
“Like I’ve told my dear Winston, magic isn’t everything. This is definitely incriminating information, however even with these signet markings it’s going to be hard to use.” Mr. Devlin said.
“Well one, Arlena has already begun this plan. She already began sinking her fangs into the members of the board. I go into that snake pit with this and I might get kick out of my own boardroom. Secondly, Augustus has a lot of pull with the senate and the trade commission. A wrong move could get my entire company blacklisted.”
“So what you’re saying is that this is useless.”
“No, it’s solid Intel. I can use it to set things in motion to counter their tactics. Still without something that defaces her, I can’t be rid of her out right.”
“Did Winston tell you about the kid?”
“Yes, Dr. Dorn’s boy. He said that the child was taken.”
“He was by his Aunt and Grandfather for the device pumping life into his chest.”
“So I have been told, what does that have to do with this?”
“From what I have gathered, Arlena intends to use this device to further her standing within your organization. You can see here she intend to force you into a position that makes her your right hand girl,” I pointed at the line in the document. “Now if she is willing to kill her dead sister’s widower and child to get what she wants. I am certain she will have no qualms with setting up a situation that puts her over you. I don’t know the game of corporate politics, but I have witnessed first-hand how the street gangs do it and typically it involves a bullet.”
“And your point, young man.” Mr. Devlin took a long sip from his drink.
“I’m going after the kid tonight, as soon as I get a location on him. I can make arrangements for you to bear witness to the entire event, documented via scrying mirror.”
“That would be an impressive feat.”
“You can do that right?” I thought.
“Actually, yes I can.” Lucy answered.
“That would be impressive, but it sounds like you don’t even know where the boy is.” Mr. Devlin said.
“This is correct, but I am expecting a summons. I have someone tailing Arlena. I overheard her telling someone on site that she would be visiting today. The moment the she is there I will know.”
“I’m interested. If you can get this harpy out of my company without repercussions, I could see generously rewarding your efforts.”
“Thanks that would be appreciated. I am told that you are acquainted with the daughter of the late Senator Eldawin Ravens, Lucille.”
“Yes, the poor thing. Her father and I were fairly close. I remember when she was just a wee thing. From what I hear the girl is a bit of a reclusive genius. If I had my way I would have hired her in a heartbeat. Word is she has been a very successful independent inventor. Why?”
“She is going to be picking you up, later.”
“Is that right?”
“It is. Lucille has developed the means to monitor the situation from a remote location. That location is on a mobile platform.”
“And what is this device?”
I put out hand and thought, “Lucy if you would please.”
“Blowing my cover are you?”
“You know you’re anxious to show off.”
“This is true,” she thought back.
The little clockwork beetle quietly fluttered into the palm of my hand.
“It means you will be watching the entire event as if you were there yourself. Lucy says hello by the way.”
Mr. Devlin and Winston both lend forward eyeballing the beetle before Lucy made it take flight once more.
“She has been monitoring us the whole time even through the wards?” Mr. Devlin asked.
“Yes sir, please do not ask me the details. Well beyond my field of knowledge, however you will be able to discuss it with the creator later today.”
“That in itself is reason enough to agree to the venture, Mr. Moore you have yourself a deal.”
Mr. Devlin reached his hand toward mine. We shook hands and finished our drinks. I told him to keep the documents as they were of no use for me. We bid our farewells and Winston led me out of the Hurley. I sense Crista’s presence in my mind and the peaceful memory returned as we made our exit.
“That was one hell of a bombshell, Marcus.”
“Yes, now to make good on my promise, I’ll summons you when the situation is ready to go. I’ll need to know where Lucy should pick Mr. Devlin up.”
“Not a problem, I’m quote/unquote Mr. Devlin’s assistant. I’m always by his side if I’m not spying.”
“Definitely different from the precinct days,” I said as I started down the stairs.
“Certainly, my wallet is a lot fatter and I sleep better at night.”
We shared a laugh. We shook hands and I made my way to the sidewalk, it had started raining again. After a minute Lucy’s Hephaestus pulled up in next of me. I walked around to the rear and entered the trailer. The doors closed on grinding gears behind me and I felt the big truck release a massive amount of steam and lurched forward.
Tanis and Crista sat on the couch and seemed to be engaged in a conversation. Lucy guided the little clockwork beetle back into its small case. She stood and looked at me with those eyes that meant my bill just went up. I was grateful we worked on the barter system.
“So my lunch meeting didn’t involve actual food. I could really go for a Sarah Mae meat pie right now.”
“That sounds like a good idea.” Lucy agreed pressing the pressing the button for the receiver. “Whinny, Do you know how to get to Sarah Mae’s restaurant in Middle city off of Feldwyn Lane?”
“Excellent, we’re going to do lunch.”
“As you wish, mistress.”