I followed Brill back to her luxury sedan, a Zeus. The Zeus is the most regal of all the steam-powered cars on the market. The car was wide and slick and featured polished steel pipes that vented the steam below the running boards. The vehicle had two front seats and a large bench in the back that resembled a high-class couch. The car was separated along the side by a line of golden trim. The top half was painted a milky cream color. The lower half including the fenders, were a dark blue. It featured a large grill in the shape of a shield of a golden color. We walked to the car; Brill took the case containing the storm caller rifle and slid it into the back seat.
“You did not kid when you said you’ve had a good couple of years.” I said.
“I took over the books after my father passed and turn half of our smuggling business into legitimate shipping and trade establishment. I let Morntok play gangster in Orc Country while I manage things from uptown.”
“Oh, I didn’t know it was going so well.”
“I still have to answer to him, and he blows money away almost as fast as we can make it. He’s reckless and a danger to even his own family. These of course are the things we orcs look for in a leader. Unless you’re me, I’d much rather just go completely legit and leave the gangstering to the other Bands. ”
“Well, hopefully this plan will put you in a better position.”
“I hope you put me in a number of positions, sweetie.” Brill said with lust in her eyes.
I walked around to the rear storage compartment of the Zeus and looked in Tanis’s direction. I nodded to her once and ducked into the compartment once Brill had opened the lid.
“I know, I know. Now sweetie, bend that sweet little tush over and hop in the boot.”
“You call this a boot? It’s nearly as big as my apartment back here.”
“Then you should be quite comfortable.” Brill said with a warm smile.
The sear size of the Zeus was a blessing. I was not nearly as cramped, as I would have been in another vehicle. I felt the car take to the road and I hoped Brill didn’t take the highway to Orc Country. I pieced together my plan as I lay in the back of the car. I would roll out of the car about ten minutes after Brill had exited. I would find the nearest shadow and begin tracking the boy’s scent. With a little luck I could take out the guards, grab the kid and be on my way. I should have known the plan was doomed right there.
It felt as if a lifetime had passed, by the time the large vehicle a came to a smooth halt. I heard Brill get out of the car and felt the car shift as she removed the case from the back seat. She rapped on the hood of the boot three times to let me know she was leaving. I heard the key turn in the lock and the door parted slightly. A small stream of light entered the dark compartment. I could see a warehouse floor and a large bay door through the crack. I could hear a few gruff baritone voices talking.
“Brill, looking lovely as ever. What you got there?” one voice said.
“I am fine and what I possess is none of your business, Drax. Where’s Morntok?” Brill asked
“Last I heard he’s with Rictus and the kid in the little storage at the back of the warehouse. He’s been so focused on whatever that kid is, we haven’t even collected this week’s protection money.”
I swore a silent curse from the rear compartment of the Zeus.
I could hear Brill sigh deeply, “What would this organization do if I were not here to see to it?”
“Not sure Brill, I would see to it that you don’t say that in front of Morntok though. He’s been on edge ever since Jaffer, Arok, and Soaur got themselves iced by that mysterious fella with the magic gun.”
“They should not have been causing trouble outside of Orc Country. We are not the most dangerous beings in Luimere.”
“I agree with you. But I still want to get my hands on this guy. Gouth said the guy was not bigger than your average tall human. Said he was one of the best fighters he had ever seen. You know this guy managed to toss Gouth out of a third story window. He broke both his legs and a few ribs. Listen to Gouth tells it, the guy didn’t even have any enhancement gear.”
“I’m surprised Morntok did not take to the streets hunting this man down” Brill said.
“That’s the problem. He’s been obsessed with this kid. It’s kind of creepy.” the speaker said.
Brill let out a soft laugh. “Well, I better head in. I have to take care of the books. Then I will go have words with my brother.”
“OK. Hey Brill, when are you gonna let me take you on that date?” The speaker asked.
“The day Morntok steps down as leader of the gang.” She answered with a laugh.
“Ouch! That’s harsh, See you later Brill.” The speaker said with a laugh.
Brill’s heavy footsteps faded as she left the room. I sat remained there in the back of the vehicle in silence and listening to the voices talk about last night’s boxing match. Apparently, the latest models of steam powered body enhancements had made the fights more intense and brutal. I wondered what happen to the days of bare-knuckles and raw strength. The chatter died down after a few minutes and the scent of the orcs faded. I heard the clap of door shut and knew the way was clear.
I eased the door of the trunk open and slid out of the car. Brill had parked the car parallel to the wall in a row of cars. I crouched between the car and wall and took in my surroundings. I was in the loading bay of the warehouse. There were two large bay doors, vaulted ceilings and lights emitting a dull orange luminescence. I saw two large trucks fitted with delivery trailers, the street locomotives know as Hephaestus. I saw the delivery van, a Dionysus that was used to kidnap the kid and Tanis.
I could see a pair of stairs leading up to an office and another door that lead to what I assumed was the bulk of the storage. Morntok’s gang was street thugs as well as smugglers. They smuggled drugs, guns, magic artifacts, and steam-powered enhancements. Frankly, if it had a value to someone and Morntok could get his hands on it, he smuggled it.
As quietly as I could I hustled across the bay floor to the door on the lower level. I slid my goggles on and clicked the button on the strap twice. The tiny gears went into action and the lenses shifted from the clear to a blue color. Immediately, I began to see thing in the infrared spectrum.
I looked toward the door; I could see small figures, but no one next to the entrance of the room. I lifted the goggle to my forehead, allowed my eyes to adjusted and checked the door handle. It was unlocked. “The orcs had no reason to lock it. Who would be foolish enough to rob them?” I mused
Couched low, I slid the door open and crept inside. The room was filled with wooden crates of varying sizes. I didn’t want to guess what was inside them all. It was fortunate for me that the room was poorly lit. I carefully made my way through the maze toward the back storage area. I employed a combination of my keen ears, acute sense of smell and the enchanted goggles to safely navigate the warehouse without stumbling into a passing orc. And I assure you there were plenty mulling about. I examined the door leading to the room where the kid was being kept. With the goggles on I could see the heat covered form of Morntok, the gnome Rictus, two other orcs and the kid.
I pulled the goggle down around my neck. I stepped away from the door and ducked back into the shadows. I looked around for other options not wanting to try a frontal assault. I noticed a ladder too far from the door that looked to lead to the roof. With caution I made my way to the ladder, I paused at the base and took a quick look around determining where the orcs in the room were, and then silently scaled the ladder. I opened the hatch as quietly as I could, just enough that I could slide through. I hoped that it was small enough that both the light of outside would not be too bright and the rain would not be too loud. Once through, I eased the hatch close behind me.
My stomach sank when I saw the back of an orc walking the rooftop in the rain. I quietly drew Lucy and opened the wheel; I quickly dumped the bullets into my palm and took a single round from my belt. I loaded the bullet and squeeze the trigger. The two vial of green liquid bubbled violently and the elven runes etched into the barrel and wheel glowed a faint pink. The impact of the hammer to the bullet was dulled, muted like listening to someone speaking underwater. A pinkish purple light streaked from the barrel of the gun and silently stuck the unsuspecting orc. His body was briefly covered in an aura of the same color, and then slumped to the rooftop motionless.
I loaded the standard ammunition back into Lucy and checked the goon. He was snoring, and sleeping peacefully in the torrent of rain. The bullet was tier two sleeping spell; he would sleep there on the roof in the rain for eight hours. Not even an airship crash landing next to him would disturb his slumber. I said a small blessing to Lucy and continue toward where I thought the room was. I found a skylight just over the back storage room. Gently, I cracked it open and listened.
“Ritus are you sure you can’t just rip it out of the boy’s chest?” Morntok asked.
“How many bloody times do I have to tell you? I DON’T KNOW!” the gnome yelled back. “For all I know, doing that would cause the core to explode. Then we are all red chunks of dismembered flesh. As I said, be patient. Science is all about patience. You rush things and people die and I don’t know about you, but I like living.”
“You should think about that next time you choose to raise your voice at me, little gnome. I’m already in a killing mood after what that nanny did to my boys.”
The gnome laughed. “Yes, yes that reminds me. I need to see to their Johnsons. The reattachment process should be near complete now. They won’t be reproducing, but at least they won’t have to use the loo sitting down.”
Morntok grumbled and stomped around the room. He punched the nearest wall in frustration. I heard the kid squeak in fear, I could smell his fear and Morntok rage. I heard the door open inside the room. I could hear the click of Brill’s heels as she walked across the stone floor.
“Morntok what are you doing?” she asked her older brother.
“Whatever I damn well please. What is it to you?” disdain in his voice.
“What is it to me? You have not done any deliveries in the last two days. None of our legal clients deliveries have been made. You have not collected this week’s protection money and walking through the warehouse, you have not delivered the illegal merchandise either.”
“I run this gang however I like. Not you! This is more important than all that,” He grunted.
“Some little human boy with a hole in his chest is more important than maintaining our reputation?”
“With this thing we will make our own reputation.”
“Do you realize how foolish that sounds? You don’t even know what that thing can do. I’ve read Rictus’s reports he’s not sure if it is possible to remove the thing and it still be functional.”
“That’s why I’m bringing in help.” Morntok said from behind clenched teeth. I could hear the frustration rising in him.
“And with what money are you going to pay them,” She asked with arms crossed. “With mine? Cause we sure know you have been blowing though yours like I just print the stuff in the office.”
That was the final straw, the boiling rage rose to a voluminous crescendo and Morntok lost it. He rushed across the room and stuck Brill with a closed fist. Morntok was a beast of an orc, standing seven foot two, five hundred plus pounds of raw untamed muscle. The blow took Brill off her feet; her shoes went flying across the room. I heard her impact with the door, which gave under her momentum and she crashed hard somewhere out of sight. I had heard enough.
I’d like to say I did the smart thing. That I opened the skylight took careful aim with Lucy and put two in the top of Morntok’s baldhead. I’d like to say I hopped down, saved the kid and the girl. That did not happen. I smashed through the skylight as Morntok was advancing on Brill. I planted my knee squarely is his back sending him to the floor so hard the concrete crack under our combined weight. I rolled I rolled toward the door, putting myself between Morntok and Brill. I punted Morntok in the face, which in retrospect was a bad idea. He caught my foot and with raw strength, pulled my legs from under me. Then he was on top of me swinging his massive arm in wild blows.
We scuffled around for a second; pummeling each other with glancing blows before his goons got involved. They pinned me to the floor and struck me a few more times for good measure. I relented my struggle as more of the Orc’s Boss crew appeared in the ruined doorway. Two of them took me by the arms and held me in place in from of Morntok. Another walked over, removed Lucy from my belt and tossed it to Morntok. The big Orc Boss swiped the blood from his face with the back of one hand, while eyeing Lucy in his other. “What do we have here?” He mused taking quick breaths, “Well, if it isn’t the little detective I caught messing with my sister. I thought I killed you.”
Rage was swelling in my chest and a barely contain need to rip out his throat rose to the surface of my mind. I could feel the change coming and I fought to keep it down. “Apparently your aim is as bad as your business practices.” I said with a smirk.
“Full of spunk this one,” he laughed. His crew laughed along with him. “What brings you here little human? Surely you didn’t do that little display just for my sister.”
“You have something that doesn’t belong to you. I’m here to take him home.”
He narrowed his tiny black eyes, “Oh the kid, you mean. And your plan was to jump me and wrestle me to submission. Are you mad or just plain stupid?” The orcs in the room laughed again.
“From what I hear, you’re the one pinning over an eight year old boy’s heart. Who’s the mad one here?” I retorted. The room went silent. Morntok’s eyes turned to narrowed to the point of invisibility underneath his heavy brow. A vein the size of one of my fingers pulsed on his forehead. He raised his massive arm and aimed Lucy at me. I smiled in defiance. “Wait a minute,” I said coolly, not showing fear. “Do orcs still honor the Code of Challenge?”
“What of it?” Morntok said pulling Lucy’s hammer back.
“Simple, I challenge you.”
He and the others in the room laughed again. “You, a human, challenge me to a fight.
I looked at him with a smug expression and in front of all the witnesses I said. “What? Are you scared?”
At this point he was so mad he was turning purple. He looked around at the room, that was becoming crowded as more of his orcs showed up. I had him; he could not turn down the challenge. He lowered Lucy’s barrel easing the hammer back into place and swore. “Very well, Chump. Fisticuffs no weapons, no gadgets, just flesh and bone.” He turned and barked to his orcs. “ You guys clear some space out there on the floor. We’re gonna have us a little brawl.”