We were back in the trailer of the Raven’s Machine Shop marked Hephaestus, when Lucy’s portable scrying mirror chimed. I reached into my inner pocket and withdrew the mirror. I opened it on the second chime and saw Tobias’s face.
“Cousin! Good to see you alive and well. The lovely Lucy told me you took a little trip down under.”
“Yes, I did Tobias. I got a little more than I bargained for. Actually part of that will be relevant to you.”
“Really? Well, I wanted to let you know that we have her, cousin. Your heiress to the throne of the Airship kingdom has landed.”
“She’s in Lower City. My boy followed her to an old abandon lab building, just off Brinley Street by the docks. Looks like they have forted the place up, the building is walled in all around and has a fence with a spiked top leading to the water. There are at least two lookouts standing at the front gate and two by docks. A ride by saw at least four vehicles other than the one the lady Silverstein was escorted in.”
“That good work cousin, I owe you big. Have your man stick with her. I have to make a few summons and get a plan in motion. Rally the lurkers and get armed to the teeth, I am going to need a distraction.”
“Just say when,” he said.
“Do you still have access to the backroom at Adrian’s Place?” I asked.
“I better, Adrian’s still taking my rent.”
“Good, we’ll meet there in about three hours to lay out the plan. Expect orcish company.”
“Sounds like fun times are ahead, cousin. Let me go get the men and the gear together.”
“I’ll see you there,” I closed the connection and looked to the ladies that were all listening.
“Okay Lucy, we’re going to need all black gear and some explosives.”
“Not a problem, we can swing by my place. I have a warehouse full of toys. What’s the plan?”
“Well, we don’t know the layout of the labs. So, I’m going to create enough chaos to keep Arlena’s goon squad preoccupied. While they are busy fighting off Lurkers and Orcs, Tanis and I sneak in under cover and make our way in and find the kid.”
“What’s the exit plan?” Lucy asked.
“Airship. I have a friend who can help us out there.”
“Young one, I’d like to assist.” Crista insisted.
“I won’t say no. Either form will be extremely helpful.”
Lucy hit the button on her desk and instructed Winthrop to head for her home. I walked into the bedroom with Lucy’s portable and made a few an important summons. First, I summoned Winston.
“Marcus, I’m assuming you found the location of the child?”
“That would be a correct assumption, old friend. We’re going in tonight.”
“Very well, Mr. Devlin will be at the Hurley all evening.”
“Lucy will summon ahead when she has arrived.” I told him.
“We await her summons.”
Winston tipped his hat and closed the connection. Next, I summoned Brill. She picked up after the third chime. Brill’s green face appeared in the mirror. Her hair was tied back and she appeared to be sweating. “Sweetie, you caught me mid practice.”
“Hand to hand or battle axes?” I asked.
“Just hand to hand today. What can I do for you, sweetie?”
“Calling in that favor. I found the kid; his aunt has got him held up in an old lab building in Lower City. I have my cousin joining me with the Lurkers, but I am unsure of the amount of manpower the Silverstein’s have in there. I figured some orc muscle causing a ruckus would balance the scale, if not tip them in the right direction.”
“Wise decision, sweetie. The boys have been anxious since I relived my whack job of a brother of leadership. The prospect of causing some chaos may do them some good. When?”
“Tonight just after dusk, the lab is off of Brinley Street by the docks. Meet me at Arian’s place in three hours.”
“Alright sweetie. See you soon.” She blew me a kiss.
I closed the connection with a smile and made my final summons. Ovur Brassbeard appeared on the screen with a wide grin on his face. Looking at the background he looked to be in a place much like the Hurley.
“Marcus, my old friend. Your timing could not be more perfect. A minute later and let us just say I would have been a bit preoccupied.” His handlebar mustache twitched and her bushy eyebrows bounced up and down.
“I’m glad I caught you when I did then. I’ve located the kid and I’m going it to get him tonight after dusk.”
“Great, the Sun Bird will be primed and ready.”
“I’m actually going to need a bit more than an accept and deliver job, Ovur.”
“I actually want you to float us in close. Two others and I are going to drop ship and swim to shore amidst all the chaos I have planned for my former client. Once we have recovered the kid and possibly his father, I’ll send up a signal flare. You and yours fly in and drop a rope ladder. We all haul tail up the ladder and you fly straight for Haven.”
“That’s a good plan, lad. As long as the balloon doesn’t take a stray we can get in and out pretty clean.”
“Everyone should know how disastrous a hydrogen explosion is. No one could survive a blast that close. Besides I have two street gangs preparing to rage an all-out war on the building. The Sun Bird will be the last thing on their minds.”
“Aye, Marcus. I will see you in a few hours at the Sunbird.”
“It’s two now, expect us around six, the whole thing it going to happen around dusk.”
“We’ll be ready, lad. Now if you will pardon me there are … matters I must attend to.”
I nodded to the dwarf and closed the connection. I sat down on the bed and stripped off the armored sleeve.
“That is a good plan,” came a voice in my head. The voice belonged to Lucy.
“I completely forgot I was still wearing this.” I said touching my finger to the earring.
“That’s the idea. You won’t draw attention to it if you forget you are wearing it.” Lucy said.
“Good point, so back at you place I believe it will be best if Tanis and I stay in the trailer.”
“I was thinking the same thing. I’m certain I have removed any spying orbs from my home, but there are other means to spy. I’m going to have to do a ritual purge of the entire place.”
“Can I ask that you bring me my cane? I will not be using Lucy during this. I will also need something to send up a signal flare.”
“I have a bracelet that can release a burst of flame that should work.”
“Great, I really owe you a lot for all this.”
“Yes you do. Don’t worry, you survive this and you be working the last three days off in full.” She said in her usual nonchalant voice.
Outside of Adrian’s place looked much the same as it always did. The rains had started again and before the building sat twenty-five to thirty steam-cycles. In the lot across the street I saw several of the Ares model trucks that the orcs preferred and Brill’s Zeus.
Tanis, Crista and Lucy’s clockwork beetle followed me from the trailer of the truck to Adrian’s Place. As usual the brawny bouncer Francis was standing just inside the door. He and I exchanged nods and we walked inside. The bar was packed with an odd assortment of orcs and humans. A thick layer of tobacco smoke hung in the air mixing with the aromas of alcohol and grilled meats.
I waved a hand at Adrian who stood tall and silent by the bar, his dark skin nearly matching the brown of his vest. It was rare to see Adrian outside of his office, usually his staff handled the floor and the turrets and/or Francis handled the commotions. I placed a few sovereigns on the bar. He took them and poured a pitcher of his ruby colored ale. I took the pitcher and headed towards the backroom.
Adrian’s backroom was a small comfortable place designed for private card games. The walls featured painting of various battles and plaques commemorating Adrian’s military accomplishments. Tobias regularly used the room to host private meetings and private parties for the Lurkers. Inside, Tobias and Brill sat across from each other in deep conversation.
“So you’re saying that if I ship through you, I’ll have a much lower risk of search and seizure, which will lower the overall cost of the shipping, meaning I will earn more on each product sold.” Tobias affirmed.
“Exactly, my business is legal on paper and partly in practice. We simply mix illegal merchandise amongst the legal then enchant it to avoid visual detection. The product is shipped along the same routes and all the paperwork is legit.”
“I think you have earned yourself a new client, Lady Brill.”
“I’m glad to hear it. Come down to my office in Orc Country tomorrow. We’ll work out the details.”
“Careful with that one, Tobias. She likes to lead.” I said.
The two of them turn to me both with grins on their faces. I entered the room followed by Tanis and Crista. Tobias rose to his feet and walked around the table. He was wore a dark red shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He wore a black tie and a black vest inlaid with floral patterns. His pants were a dark tan and he wore brown leather gloves, belt and knee high boots.
Brill sat in a hardened black leather bodice and dark purple blouse. I could see she was wearing armor plated slacks and thigh high leather boots. Her curly black hair was pulled back into a tail. Her favorite axe Dream Fall and the rifle I gave her Stormcaller rested against her seat.
Tobias pulled out a chair for one of the ladies. I sat down the pitcher of ale and did the same for the other. Crista took the sit I withdrew and Tanis took the chair Tobias had drawn. I sat in the seat between Brill and Crista and Tobias sat between Tanis and Brill with a big grin on his face.
“Tobias, you are acquainted with Tanis from our visit a few days ago. Brill, Tanis is my current client. She is the nanny and protector of the kid.” I said to the room.
“Why hello sugar, so about the whole situation with my brother kidnapping you and the little human boy.”
“All is forgiven; you are here now helping us. That is all I care for.” Tanis said.
Gesturing my hand in Crista’s direction I said, “This is Crista, she was a lifesaver during our recent excursion into Undercity. Tobias, she is like our kin if you know what I mean.”
Tobias raised an eyebrow, and then his eyes grew wide. I assumed Crista had spoken to him in his mind.
“Well that is a surprise,” he said.
“You telling me.”
“Please to meet you both,” Crista, said aloud.
On the card table before us was a hand drawn map. Tobias described to us the layout.
“The Building is four stories high and according to the blueprints Victor was able to find there is at least one sub-basement. There is a ten-foot tall stone wall surrounding the building on all sides. There are two gates to the interior on from the street the other to the docks.” Tobias’s paused taking drink, then continued. “From what Harwind told me, they have two guys at the front and rear gates at all times. They appear to rotate every hour. They are armed with strength enhancement armored sleeves, blades and various firearms. The car and cart lot has at least four vehicles including one Hephaestus with trailer.”
“Getting in won’t be a problem it’s finding the kid in all that building that will be the issue.” I said thinking out loud.
“Why don’t you have Lucy scout out the building first?” Tanis asked.
“Where is the elusive Lucy anyway?” Tobias asked looking up from the map.
“She been here the whole time,” I said pointing at the clockwork beetle no one noticed. “She decided her device need more field testing.”
“I can scout the building,” she said in my head. I relayed the message to the group.
“Sneaky, Sneaky” Brill said in an amused tone.
“Lucy has provided us with a number of arcane explosives. I figured you two would coordinate strikes on the outer wall from the street. This should draw the attention of all of the guards. No need to worry about killing them. I have nothing against the men, but at least two of them attempted to kill me. And well, I don’t take to kindly to that.” I finished my glass and refilled the cup. “While you all cause chaos and mayhem, these two lovely ladies and myself will sneak in from the bay. Captain Ovur Brassbeard has agreed to sail his Airship in close for us to swim to the dock. Once the attack starts we will enter the building and by Lucy’s guidance make our way to the kid.”
I pointed on the map where we would enter. “We’ll take them up to the roof where I’ll signal for Ovur to fly his ship in for pick up and get away. When you guys see the flare, I want you to flood the area with lead, magic and any of the grenades you have left from Lucy’s stash. When you see the airship leave, you to do a full retreat, we’re not trying to take the building. We just want to get in and get out.”
“Sounds good to me as long as the Lurkers and my boys don’t try to kill one another in the process,” Brill said tapping Tobias on the shoulder. “Are you sure you don’t want one of us alongside you when you go inside?”
“I’m certain. Tanis is geared to turn invisible when needed. Crista has spent the last fifty years sneaking around the Undercity. Besides, you two will need to lead your gangs and make sure they are only fighting the Silverstein’s henchmen.”
“Very well sweetie, your reasons seem sound enough. I have tons of brute force, but what if the Silverstein’s have a Magus or Two?” Brill asked.
“Don’t worry about, Lady Brill. I have a pair in my gang. The twins have fought it out with some near masters in the field of magic and succeeded.” Tobias reassured her.
“OK, everyone with watches let’s have them out. I want them synchronized so that we are on the same page.”
Brill, Tobias and I pulled out our pocket watches made sure all three presented the same time down to the second. I leaned over and gave Brill a soft kiss on the cheek and rose. Tobias rose and he and I assisted each of the ladies to their feet.
He and I clasped hand and I thought I’d give Crista’s telepathy trick a try. “ If we all survive this, you, me and Crista will have to have a long talk about our heritage.”
Tobias paused and his eyes were wide with surprise.
“You can do this too, Cousin?” he asked with a puzzled thought.
“According to Crista, all of our kind can.”
“That will come in handy, I’ll inform the others.”
“Others?” Crista’s voice asked.
“Crista, about a third of the Lurkers are of our kind. I run as Alpha, primarily because Marcus didn’t want the job.”
“I’m no leader.”
“You seem to be doing a good job so far.” Tobias retorted.
“I did not think so many would be in one place.” Crista said distantly. Which was interesting since the entire conversation was happening in my head.
“This city has over a million people in it. I reckon there are more, even with our extremely low birth rate. We may have forgotten some tricks, but we are still wise enough to keep that side of us a secret.” Tobias told her.
“Another time, after this is all said and done. We will get the others together and have a meal.”
“Sounds good, cousin. You need anything else from me?”
“Yes, lend me two steam cycles again.”
“I thought you might ask that. I had one of the guys trailer in two Pans from the garage.”
“Thanks,” I said.
We all exited the backroom. The main room of the bar was as we left it. The orcs and the mixed races of the Lurkers sat and stood around in conversation enjoying the beverages Adrian had to offer. The ladies and I stepped outside back into the rainy streets of Luimere.
I didn’t have to ask Tobias, which Pans were intended for me. The sly fox actually had my company name painted on them. I smiled, mounted the first steam cycle and started the broiler. Tanis walked over and started the other. Crista stood wearily looking at the cycles, “You ride this?”
“Yes, think of it a mechanical horse on wheels that goes the speed of sixty horses.”
“As you would imagine, young one. I’m not a big fan of horses. Hunters would ride them and attempt to stomp us with their hooves.”
“I can see how that would be troubling. Here take this helmet and worry not I am well versed in riding these. I will see to it that no harm befalls you. Just hold tight to my waist.” I told her reassuringly.
Crista gave me an almost sensual smile. “I see now it’s more than our natural talents that draw these girls to you.”
She put on the helmet and took the seat behind me. Her powerful arms wrapped around my waist and the rest of her body pressed against me. I nodded to Tanis who had been her usual silent self and we took to the street. The usual Luimere rain had let up so travel on the back of the Pan was enjoyable. Crista’s arms squeezed tightly around my waist, but as the ride progressed she loosened them. Before long she was leaning into the turns along with me. Her body was warm pressed to my back.
“It has been quite some time since the last time I was in this close of a proximity to someone.” Crista’s thoughts rolled through my mind. She took a deep breath her nose pressed into my back. “You would have made a fine mate, back in my time young one.”
“OH, um… Thank you.” I stammered.
“Did you and Darvis never share in one’s company?”
“Not in the last fifty years. This form did not appear to him during the time we spent in Undercity. The Shaman kept his fancy and took care of his physical needs. Still, Shadow Stepper was the one he confided in. The one he would fight his battles with.”
I could hear the sadness in her words. I could feel the old werewolf shudder against me.
“I truly am sorry. I cannot imagine what you are going through right now. To have the person you have spent the last fifty years with die in your hands.”
“It is something you must grow accustomed to. We are a long lived people.”
“I never really thought about it. Most of our elders seem to vanish or die in a strange accident.”
“That is how your parent’s died?”
“Yes, they were killed in an Airship crash. The hydrogen balloon ruptured and exploded as they were on their way back to the city from the south. A business trip from which they never returned, I grew up with Tobias’s family.”
“What of his parents?”
“Tobias’s mother is a pure human. His father was a Werewolf, but he went missing during a hunting trip in the Firemist Mountains. We were both young at the time.”
“This all sounds very suspicious.”
“It does, but I’ve been too afraid to look into it.”
“After what we found in Noranox’s chamber I believe it may be time. The Son of Silver may have somehow returned.”
“One thing at a time. I have a kid to save right now.”
“Indeed, but after this is done. We must looking into all the know reports of those of our kind mysteriously vanishing or dying in strange accidents.”
“The fear in your thoughts tells me as much.”
“Young one you do not know the half. Before the group was disbanded they took a stiff turn to the worst. Their mission started out, as a pursuit of vengeance, but soon became the pursuit of vindictive pleasure. They would not just kill us; they would torture us for weeks.”
“You sound as if you have first-hand experience.”
“If we were not on this contraption moving through damp city streets and speeds I did not know possible is would show you. Nevertheless, Yes, I have seen this first hand.”
“Okay, you have my word. If I survive this, we will look to the possibility of the Son of Silver being active once more.”
I swerved in and out of traffic, checking back periodically making sure I had not lost Tanis. We rode of a good thirty minutes before reaching the docks.
“Oh my!” Crista exclaimed.
“What?” I asked, “There were airships fifty years ago.”
“Yes, but there were not so many and not so big.” She sniffed the air. “And not powered by coal and steam.”
“Right the original ships were purely magical. Well come on, let me introduce you to Ovur.”