Queen of the Rails
Warning: This chapter contains adult language and humour. If dirty words offend, please read no further.
Again, this is a first draft, so expect errors. Feel free to comment below, and thanks for reading!
Crackling blue electric arcs leapt from the centre rail to Aleph’s bare feet as she sprinted west along the elevated track, the flickering light from below bathing her face in faint ghost light as she ran. Energy hummed in the centre rail like a disturbed beehive and coursed up into her legs. She’d be awake for the rest of the night after this little jaunt, the electricity giving her the equivalent buzz she'd get from slamming a quadruple espresso. It was worth it.
Running the tracks was one of her favourite ways to get around the city. High on the concrete guideways, she was hidden from most prying eyes, and at this time of night, the trains would still be down for another four hours, meaning she could run as fast as she wanted.
She’d changed out of her uniform once she’d left her interview with Stirling Haig and now wore her usual jeans and leather jacket. The cold wind of her passage snapped her scarf and braid out behind her as she ran parallel to Lougheed Highway, easily overtaking traffic as she moved deeper toward Vancouver.
The interview earlier that night had been an eye-opener. She’d been told Haig was intelligent, but she hadn’t expected him to see through the disguise. While it was true she was technically a cop, the uniform had been mainly a prop to put him in the right frame of mind. Nine times out of ten, when people saw a uniform the only things on their mind was if that baggie of pot hey had in the freezer was hidden well enough, and what was the quickest way they could get rid of you. What they didn’t think of was knocking holes in your cover story based on how you wore your hair.
Even odder was how he claimed he needed to concentrate in order to contain his Algere. If he was telling the truth about that, and she had no reason to think otherwise, she truly felt for him. The effect Algere had on people was probably the one thing that made his kind so disliked.
When she’d first heard his story, she’d almost spilled everything right then out of sympathy, her promise to Penhold be damned. Haig’s cover was already blown, and it wasn’t like she honestly believed that Knox would give up on him if he took her advice and ran. The only thing that held her back was that becoming a Sponsor right now would have been impossible, on top of the fact that he probably wouldn’t survive the next few days, she didn’t have the time. Three more people in the community had been reported missing earlier that day, bringing the total up to fifty-seven since the end of summer.
In a rare stroke of luck, she’d actually managed to track down one of the missing people, a technomancer who went by Dimitri Singh. Unlike the others before him, he’d somehow seen the trap closing around him, and been clever and wise enough to go to ground. His only misstep had been a furtive errand during daylight hours through the streets of Richmond. Showing his face outside was mistake enough for one of her children to spot him and report on his location.
When she’d confronted him, the webmage had confirmed what she was already certain of; Rag and Bone had been stalking him and were the ones responsible for the disappearances. It seemed he’d been running his own surveillance on the pair, which he happily showed to her. The data he’d collected from the thousands of cell phones and tablets he’d infected with thaumotech malware were completely illegal, unethical, and absolutely non-admissible in a court of law. For all that they were astonishingly detailed and accurate.
It didn’t take a mental titan to connect the dots from Rag and Bone to Knox of the White. It was an open secret that Knox had employed the husband and wife duo off and on for centuries, but without iron-clad evidence of Knox’s involvement, Dimitri’s story would be about as practical as a chocolate chastity belt.
The Alchemist Guild employed an army of lawyers on retainer who would defend Knox to the bitter end, after which they would blacklist everyone involved in bringing unsuccessful charges against one of their own. It was how The Guild worked, and it was why there were so few people willing to be witnesses in any case against an alchemist.
Admissible or not, Dimitri’s tale, combined with the assassination of Elanor of the Red the night before, was ample evidence pointing toward Knox being at the centre of something big.
A spray of fine mist rose from the tracks behind her as she blurred through the night and made her way toward the nearest gate to Asphodel in Victory Square. It was past time for a face-to-face with Penhold, with an entire city to cover even a goddess could get spread thin.
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