I jerked upright and swirled around looking behind us. Tanis jerked the car to the right avoiding being struck again. There were two cars, both dark in color, hard to make out in all the rain. They looked like Artemis models, the two-seater roadster type steam powered cars. Tanis swerved back to the left dodging a car in front of us. I watched the enchantment shatter around the car and disintegrate like broken glass. The slick black form of Lucy’s Apollo sprang forth as Tanis shifted gears and feed more steam to the engine.
Our pursuers opened fire on us. A rain of bullet hurtled toward us from our unknown assailants. Thuds and clangs rang along the car’s body, yet none seemed to penetrate.
“Lucy, you lovely girl.” I said aloud.
I cheered for joy; Lucy had put the kinetic shielding on the Apollo. I drew Lucy the gun and hung out of the passenger side window. Through my goggles I could make out the forms in the rain. The passengers in the cars were standing firing their weapons. I’m not a great shot southpaw so I was not surprised when my shots missed. The drivers swerved left and right avoiding the incoming rounds. I slid back in the car and emptied the shell casings.
“Tanis, make for highway” I yelled.
“I wish you would had of said that two minutes ago. We just passed the last exit,” she said dejectedly.
Tanis swerved around another car. I loaded the speed loader filled with inferno rounds. I leaned out of the car once more and fired three shots. Three balls of fire erupted from Lucy’s barrel with a roar. The drivers in the pursing cars veered left and right to avoid the spheres of brilliant flame. The car on the right swerved into fireball number three. The car immediately caught ablaze, the passenger fell backwards and I could see the charred body fall from the rapidly moving vehicle.
The car on the left veered into oncoming traffic and slammed head on with an oncoming Hephaestus style freight truck. I let out a small cheer; I thought we were in the clear. To my dismay four more cars took up the chase. I said a curse and fired three more comets of flame. The cars weaved in and out of traffic avoiding the threats. I saw one of the pursuers actually dispel the round. I swore again and slid back inside the car. Just as I did an arc of lightning destroyed the passenger side rear view mirror.
“They have a Magus!” I exclaimed.
Tanis did not respond, but pulled hard to the right onto the highway entrance ramp. She shifted into the next gear and floored the pedal feeding more power to the engine. I emptied the spent bullet shells and began reloading Lucy. I looked back and checked on the kid. He sat on the floor curled up like ball between the seats. He shivered and I could see fear in his eyes, but he said nothing. I pulled three tremor rounds from my belt and loaded them into Lucy. I closed the wheel shut and leaned out the window once more. Bullets rained all around as the wind and rain pummeled my back. I aimed and fired the three rounds at the road in front our pursuers. Instantaneously three pillars of solid stone sprang forth from beneath the earth.
One of the cars plowed right into one of the newly formed columns of solid stone. The steam powered car shattered to bits, parts flying everywhere. The second pillar tore through the engine compartment of another pursuer. This sent the vehicle ten feet in the air, suspending it there. The other two cars avoided the obstructions. A fireball twice the size of the balls of flame fired from Lucy, stuck the back of the Apollo.
The car spun wildly, with amazing skill Tanis got the car back under control. She powered out of the spin and kept us moving forward. The back half of the car was still coated in flame, black smoke billowed behind us like a serpent’s tail. The chase continued down the high toward midtown and my office.
“We have to do something about that fire.” Tanis said frantically.
“Working on it!” I exclaimed as I loaded another round into Lucy. “Get ready to hold her tight. I’ve never fired one of these from a moving vehicle.”
“Fired what?” she shouted with wide eyes.
She looked at me with a surprised expression. I gave her a reassuring smile as I checked what I had in the wheel. Just the tornado spell infused round, I quickly grabbed two frost spell infused rounds and the acid round from my belt. I realized, and then I had only two arcane bullets left.
I leaned out of the window once more and was grazed by a bullet across the right temple. The bullet tore across the strap of my goggles and the lenses went haywire. They rapidly shifted back and forth between the views, completely disorienting me. While holding on for dear life, I quickly holstered Lucy, tore off goggles and threw them in the car.
Nearly blinded, I withdrew Lucy once more and aimed at our pursuers just over the flame-covered rear of the Apollo. I pulled the trigger and suddenly everything went silent. The kind of silence you hear at the eye of a storm. A funnel cloud burst from the barrel of Lucy and consumed the flames. The storm immediately joined with the natural storm above and hurtled its way toward our assailants.
The tail end of the car fishtailed violently and I nearly lost my grip more than once. The tornado tore down the lane and off the side of the road taking one of the pursuing cars with it. I fired the two frost rounds. Two bursts of frost filled air erupting from Lucy’s barrel and flew toward our final pursuer. The Magus was apparently in the final car; a translucent blue sphere of pure energy covered the vehicle. Both blasts of frost clung to the shield freezing instantly, then shattered and dissolved to nothingness. I fired the acid round toward the standing figure I saw in the rain. My aim was true for all that it mattered. Whoever this guy was he was in the upper tier of magical talent. I witnessed the shot come to a complete stop just before the Magus’s right hand. He countered the spell and sent it hurtling back toward us. I dropped back in the car and yelled, “Incoming!”
Tanis swerved a minute too late as the bolt of acid splashed the roof of the Apollo. I looked in amazement as the acid of the spell consumed the roof. We sat in the newly made convertible completely exposed to both the elements and the Magus in the pursuing car. I dared a look back to see lightning crackling in the Magus’s hand. I braced for the attack, when I heard the sound of sirens and heavy propellers overhead. I looked up to see the two frigate class patrol airships with their spot torches blaring down on us. From one of the ships megaphones I could hear a patrolman’s voice, “Cease your reckless pursuit and pull over NOW!” He commanded.
I opened Lucy’s wheel and empty shells once more. I could see the exit for midtown up ahead. I quickly formulated a plan and loaded one of my final two arcane bullets. I yelled to Tanis as a bolt of blue white lighting crackled between us and destroyed the windshield, “Soon as you see the cloud of mist, break for that exit!”
“What mist?” she yelled back.
“This one!” I shouted as I fired the shot through the smoldering windshield.
The runes on the barrel and cylinder glowed a soft white light as I pulled the trigger, a round of misty white light fired forth from Lucy’s barrel. The projectile flew ahead of us and exploded into a cloud of white mist. The cloud consumed the highway enveloping all in its path. Tanis veered to the right and narrowly made the exit ramp. The ramp followed around in a circular motion and ducked under an overpass. I recognized where we were and had Tanis quickly pull down an alley. We drove a few blocks and parked behind a building. I could still hear the sirens blaring in the distance. Our flight was reckless and hoped that few were injured in the chaos. I got out of the car and looked around, searching for any possible pursuers. Tanis rose and checked the kid, who was horribly shaken but not scathed.
I hurried around the front of the building and we entered Adrian’s Place. Francis held out a big hand halting our progress. In a gruff voice he said, “No Kids.” I shoved a few sovereigns in his hand and said, “Five minutes.” The big bouncer took the money and stepped aside. We hurried to the back of the bar where I knew Tobias and the Lurkers would be. Tobias looked at me we surprise in his eyes. He could see the distress look on my face and ushered us into the booths the Lurkers frequented.
“Cousin, I thought you got out of orc country free and clear.” Tobias said.
“So did I, it appears we were being tailed. We managed to lose them on the highway.” I told him. “We ducked in here when realized how close we were.”
“Who was tailing you?”
“Devlin Works would be my guess. Look, Lucy’s Apollo is parked out back and it’s worst for wear. Do you think I could get you to lend me a pair of Pans while you have a buddy play distraction?”
“For a chance to drive an Apollo and deal out some street justice? Of course cousin, here take mine and Roddy’s.” Tobias handed me the keys to the bikes.
Just then four men in gray pinstripe suits enter the bar. They each wore gray top hat and shaded goggles, and I could see pistols on their hips. Francis pointed to the sign, which read, “Patrons with weapons drawn will be shot on sight.” The men nodded in response and entered the bar. They surveyed the room and began moving toward us. I looked over to Tanis and the kid but they were gone. I had completely forgot about Tanis’s “Tools” as she called them. Tobias and several of the lurkers stood up and placed themselves between the men and myself.
“What can we do for you fine gentleman?” Tobias asked.
One of the men spoke in a high society voice. “Our quarrel is with the investigator. He has something that belongs to us and we wish it returned.”
Tobias feigning interest looked back at me. “Cousin, is what this feller saying true? You got something that belongs to them?”
I had to choke down a laugh; I’m not sure what possessed him to go all backwater with his speech. I put on a puzzled look and shrugged my shoulders. Rubbed my head on my wounded temple, which had already begun to heal. I growled quietly, perturbed by the tingle of pain.
“Other than a body full of pain and a headache powerful enough to light the city. Not one thing, Cousin.”
“We you see there. He said he ain’t got nothing.”
“We are not here to play games with riffraff. Give us the core and no one has to get hurt,” the man threatened.
Tobias fell out of his fake country accent. “You fine gentlemen obviously do not know where you are. Adrian’s Place is a friendly establishment that caters to riffraff and common folk. It’s also the safest bar in the city for one very important reason.”
“Oh yes, we read the sign.” The man interrupted. “We’d like to see someone try,” as he and the other three drew their pistols.
So I had never seen the turrets in Adrian’s Place. From what I heard, no one had since the rumors about the incidents in the early days. Six circular panels spiraled open and six mechanical turrets fitted with twin six-barrel mini guns, dropped from the ceiling. The enchanted turrets immediately targeted the four men with weapons drawn. Without warning or preamble, the turrets let bullets fly. Tobias and the rest of the lurkers ducked out of the line of fire. In front of me, Tanis’s translucent blue shield sprang to life. I watched in amazement as the twenty-four barrels turned the distinguished gentlemen into tattered fabric and a chunky red mist.
Once the four men were down, the turrets retracted back into their hidden spaces within the ceiling. Everyone sat silent, no one even moved for a moment. I could see that Tanis held her hand over the kid’s eyes. I didn’t blame her; I wished I had not seen the event myself. I’ve seen my fair share of gore that does not make seeing it again any easier. I rose and insisted that Tanis rise with me. The kid was wrapped around her chest. Tobias headed out the door first; his pistol was in his hand the moment he was out the door. We followed is his wake, not too far behind. I hopped on Tobias’s bronze and silver Pan and pointed Tanis to Roddy’s crimson colored one. I turned the key and felt the steam engine begin to boil between my legs.
Tanis sat the kid on the bike and instructed him to hold on to her tightly. Tobias pulled out of the alley in the Apollo. He tossed me my damaged goggles. I gave them a quick once over, the bullet destroyed the control switches, but the lenses themselves appeared to have reverted back to the default setting. I slid the goggles on and waved Tobias off.
I looked toward Tanis; she nodded at me expressionless behind her own goggles. I hoped that Tobias would keep any would-be pursuers distracted. We took off down the street toward my office. We weaved in and out of traffic in a calm manner. I kept a sharp eye out on our surroundings, periodically checking on Tanis and the kid. When I was sure I did not see any pursuers, I took the roundabout way and doubled back to be sure.
I led Tanis to the alley behind my office building. We dismounted the Pans and rushed inside. We made our way up the three flights of stairs to my third floor office. The hallway was empty save for the umbrella racks and welcome mats. We walked up to my door that read in scrolled bronze lettering “Moore for Less Investigations”.
I slid my key into the hole and turned the doorknob. We entered the room in haste, to face Arlena Silverstein sitting in my chair.