I have no clue why she sent me here. Magic isn’t my thing.
A middle-aged man rubbed his flattop and made his way into the Ninth Circle. Upon crossing the threshold, he was met by a troll with smooth features and small tusks.
The left corner of the troll’s mouth turned up slightly, “Pitbull, what are you doing here? Flashpoint doesn’t usually get here until after 7. We just opened.”
Pitbull nodded his head as he held up one hand, “I know that, big guy. She’s gone missing, and I was wondering if you or anyone else saw her here a couple of nights ago.”
The bouncer scratched his head as he closed his eyes, “Hmmm, I wasn’t working the door two nights ago. Try Cassie. She’s the bar back today. She was here then. I hope you find her.”
“Thanks, me, too. Longbow treats her like a daughter and she’s like a niece to me.”
He made his way to the bar and looked around.
His eyes stopped when they saw an elf with electric purple liberty spikes and bright green eyes, “If I didn’t know any better, Cass, I would think you want to be noticed.”
The elf looked up from the point-of-sale system and smiled, “There’s my fave Marine. What’s wiz, Pitbull?”
“Do you remember seeing Flashpoint here a couple of nights ago? Longbow’s worried. She hasn’t answered her phone at all.”
Cassie stopped and looked toward the ceiling while tapping her chin, “Let me see. Two nights ago Might and Magic were playing. She doesn’t like their style. So, no, she wasn’t here then. Two nights ago was Wednesday, right?”
“Yeah?” Pitbull looked puzzled, “What does that have to do with anything?”
Cassie shrugged, “She normally goes to Limelight. Wednesdays are techno jazz nights. She goes there for the music and neon fizzes.”
Pitbull took out his phone and tapped out a message, “Thanks, Cass, I’ll tell Mims and Knightshade. This will narrow things down a bit. How did you know that?”
Cassie’s smile widened, “I go there when I have Wednesdays off. The talent is wiz and the fizzes are primo. Don’t tell my boss I said that.”
Pitbull made a motion of zipping his lips, “Your secret is as good as kept.”
“Cass says she was at Limelight. Check The Spot just in case.”
James tapped out a response as he walked up to the entrance of the club on his phone. The door was made of repurposed pallet wood and looked like someone was thrown through it. Looking around as he walked in, he spied even more evidence of the place needing to be fixed. Some of the chairs were patched but leaning either to one side or another. The drinks which sat on the tables indicated the surfaces were not level.
“It’s the aesthetic we’re going for. We call it “Bar Brawl Chic”. What can I do for you?” The question came from a dwarf with ice blue hair whose main adornment was a vast collection of tattoos.
“Everyone knows who you are, Knightshade. Who are you looking for?”
Knightshade glared at the dwarf, “Do you know if Flashpoint was here two nights ago? She hasn’t been in touch for two days, and I don’t like that.”
“Hmmm, two nights ago? That would be techno jazz at Limelight. Wednesdays are ladies’ nights here, but Flashpoint likes the music there better. She drifted in here before the band got here, but left when she found out it was a grunge-death band.”
“That’s nothing but noise. I tried listening to that. It made my ears hurt.”
The dwarf chuckled, “You wouldn’t be the only one, but a lot of people here ask for it. Anything else?”
“Um, no, thanks.” Knightshade tapped something on his phone and made his way to the door.
The dwarf shook his head as he made his way back to the bar, “He’s come a long way, but he’s stuff rough around the edges. What in the drek happened to that kid?”
Longbow checked his phone and motioned for his bodyguards to stand outside the club as he stepped in and looked around. The black lacquered bar and tables reflected a mint green light. There were candles on the tables waiting to be lit and leather seats that needed wiping. He made his way to the bar and sat on one of the stools. He looked surprised as he sank into it.
“I would have thought these were a little harder.”
A female voice made him do a double take, “We’re a little more high-end here, sir. May I help you? The band does not get here until 8 tonight.”
The voice emitted from a boyish frame and face. His blouse was paired with business slacks and a thin tie. He was washing glasses.
Longbow made eye contact, “I am trying to see if Flashpoint was here two nights ago. She seems to have gone missing.”
The man’s eyes shot open, “Oh goodness. Let me think. She was here listening to the music. If I recall correctly, she only had on neon fizz.” He tilted his head down, “She didn’t want to get blasted. Said she had somewhere else to go after the second set.”
“I see. Did she say where she was going after? Was there anyone with her?”
“Sorry to do this to you, sir, but the boss doesn’t like people coming in here and not ordering anything.”
“Right, I’ll try the neon lemonade.”
“Oh, that’s a good one.” He started mixing the drink, “Let’s see. I don’t recall her saying where she was going after she left, but there was someone highly out of place watching her from a table.”
The bartender slid the drink toward Longbow. He took a sip, “This is pretty good. What did the person look like?”
“An orc who needed a bath and no fashion sense. His black hair was oily looking and tangled. He did not look happy to be in here. If you ask me, whoever hired him wasn’t too bright. Why are you going to send an orc to a human and elven bar?” He waved a hand in the air, “Talk about a sore thumb, anyway, when she got up after the second set he followed her out.”
Longbow smiled, “Could you give me any more details about the orc? He might be who we are looking for in order to locate Flashpoint.”
The bartender smiled, “I can do one better. I couldn’t that visage out of my head. I drew him. I’m an artist for a webcomic in my free time.”
He looked around for the manager before taking out his phone and looking back at Longbow, “Phone tap?’
Longbow nodded. The picture that came through looked as if the orc could jump out of the screen.
“Is it a comic based on realism?”
“No, I’m branching out.”
Longbow paid for the drink, and pointed to the slot reader on the bar, “Is this your tip jar?”
The bartender nodded. Longbow slotted his card and punched a few keys, “Thank you for your time and information. I appreciate it.”
The bartender looked at the transfer for a tip and nearly fell over, “Sir, is this-?”
“I don’t make monetary mistakes. You provided me with solid information, and I reward that in kind. treat yourself.”
“No, thank you, son.” Longbow stood, straightened his suit jacket, and walked out the door. When he reached the bodyguards, he looked at the one on the right, “Mr. White has hired a rather unsavory individual. I can’t say I am surprised. Let’s see if anyone saw what happened after she left the club.”
He responded to the texts and turned toward home.
Mims sat across from Alicia who was in lotus position with incense and candles lit. Her phone notified her of a message.
“Longbow says she was at Limelight, Snoops. Start your astral search there.”
“Right, give me a second,” Alicia closed her eyes and slowed her breathing.
Her body slumped, and she found herself looking down at her body. Every inanimate object in the room was black. Mims was a vibrant blue. She flew through the ceiling and zipped through the astral space leaving a thin silver thread in her wake. The scenery blurred around her as she was traveling at the speed of thought. It took her seconds to get to the club where Laura was last seen.
There were faint traces of magic, one blueish-green, and one vibrant blue.
Oh, she was taken by an internal. Let’s see where this goes.
She followed it around the corner where the trail stopped on the side of the road.
Shit, a shielded vehicle. I don’t know who this internal is, but that was smart. I can’t go any further.
She returned to the room and her body. When she opened her eyes, she recounted what she found to Mims who stood and paced for a bit.
Mims shook her head, “This isn’t good. Mr. White’s been known to be smart and cautious when procuring his talent. It’s going to be harder to find Laura than we thought.”
Mims was in the kitchen once again with deli meats and cheeses on the counter. She had placed cut fruit and chips on the plates and was making the sandwiches as the group found their places at the table and sat.
Pitbull was the last to arrive and pulled a soda out of the fridge, “So, what have we found out?”
Alicia sat with her arms folded in front her, “I couldn’t track shit. They had the vehicle shielded. I lost the trail around the corner from the club.”
James looked patted Alicia on the back, “That’s not your fault.”
Mims placed a ham sandwich in front of her, “No, it is definitely not. Here, eat your lunch, dear.”
Longbow pulled out his phone hit a few keys and laid it on the table, “With all the caution Mr. White is known for having, he chose the wrong person to snatch Laura. This a drawing of the orc that took her.”
James growled, “He hates humans. Why in the hell would that troll hire this idiot?”
Alicia picked up the phone before Mims could, “He’s an internal that’s known to be able to shield himself from magical attacks, but he has to see them coming.”
Pitbull laughed, “Yeah, and Laura isn’t known for broadcasting her spells.”
“That does not get us any closer to finding Laura,” Longbow’s tone was stern, causing everyone to stop talking and turn to him.
“There are one of two things that need to be done. We need to either find out where she is being held or find out what job Mr. White is wanting her to do. Neither one of these things are easy to discern.”
Mims took her seat and placed her plate on the table, “You know there is a buzz that Coatl Tech has plans for a new prototype. Maybe White wanted her to retrieve the plans? Not that she would be foolish enough to do that at all.”
James spat out his juice, “No one is crazy enough to do that job, alone or with a team. Going to any of their corp locations is suicide.”
Longbow nodded in agreement, “Yes, but Mr. White only has the reputation of being cautious when procuring talent, not after they are hired. His body count in the second scenario is quite high. His ‘employees’ either end up in the hospital or dead.”
Pitbull took a bite of his sandwich, “By now, she’s probably dropped your name, Longbow.”
The elf rolled his eyes, “Would you please swallow before you speak? I agree. He’s probably asked about her associates leading her to drop my name, but that would not stop him from attempting to hire her for the job.”
“You would think he would rethink his choice now that he knows you are in the mix.” Alicia sipped her milk.
Mims swallowed her bite, “You’re giving the troll too much credit.”