The Black Dragon, Chapter 33, Part 3

The Chase continues. Fun and games on the Cape.

Next morning my parents showed up, but Alex and I managed to duck out of the apartment before they arrived and climbed down the side of the building. My purse was proving useful now that I had it again. We found an empty apartment, dressed, got into the car and headed off to the bureau so that Alex could write up his report about yesterday. Then we staked out Tim’s little operation from the Brooklyn Bridge discreetly in our Change. Very discreetly and hidden so that the barge folk wouldn’t notice us and raise the alert. Alex used the sense string trick and the window on Tim’s building and was listening in on the goings on there. Tim showed up and left again after sending people off on various errands. At eleven thirty Tim came back and I said to Alex “Let’s see if we can sneak closer.”
We did and shortly thereafter the Tiger showed up. Tim saw him and said “D’ja brin’ de money?”
“What money?”
“The hundred grand for the ting?”
“I never heard about that. They were not my people or at least they didn’t tell me that one of the objects had been recovered.”
“So you didna brin’ de money.”
“It would take me some time to acquire funds on the scale you are talking about. In any case I believe that I was paying you to retrieve the objects if the opportunity presented itself.”
“Yuh were payin’ me tuh find de tings and I did. Yuh were payin’ me tuh watch out fawh Mr. White and those othuh people and I’ve been watchin’ dem. Yuh didn’t pay me for actually takin’ de tings and the heat that goes wit dat. Yuh never told me about no dragons and now I’s got dem on my tail. I’m goin’ to have to go under when dis is done an I wan’ to get paid fur dat.”
“I never asked you to retrieve the objects.”
“Yuh boys did. Den dey was whining ‘bout how I was failin’ when I did dat job on Saturday ‘cause de tings weren’t the real ones. How was I supposed to know dat, ya follow me?”
“I think that there has been an understanding. Mr. Jídiànjí is performing some tasks for me, yes. They are not his only tasks and my asking you to search for the objects other than the dragon was a quid pro quo arrangement and sharing resources. I take it that you have one of the objects?”
“I got it yesterday by makin’ a switch at a weddin’ aftuh somebody bought it out from unner my nose last Friday. I found it last week at an antique stawh and was gonna tell yuh about it today, but den your boys wanted me tuh make dat pick up on Saturday. Since I already had the fake, makin’ the switch was easy.”
“Where is it now?”
“De ting is in a shielded box, in a shielded room in that’s in a shielded buildin, in a place that I can’ jus’ walk into. Yuh can tell your pal Mr. Jídiànjí to cough up the cash fast and for more than one of de tings. ‘Cause I know where dey all are and maybe de dragons will want to make a deal, ya dig?”
“What about the dragon?”
“Best I can tell, de dragon is in Mr. Benton’s office up on de Cape. I can run some boys up dere and take anudder look. We got a car fawh your boys fawh transpawhtashun like dey asked me tuh. One of the tings is up dere too.”
“I will tell my associates about the car. If you can determine where the dragon is or manage to acquire it, I think I can come up with the money.”
“And de dragons?”
“I think that we can arrange to deal with them. My associate will probably desire to take care of them personally.”
“He better do it soon, I’m running out of escapes. It was close dere at the wedding. Oh Crap!”
We looked down the street as the Deusie rumbled up. Sal was inside with Sillia and he pulled over, stopped and waggled his finger. “Timmy, some birdies tell me that you are involved with some bad characters. You know better than that. You don’t want to upset your parents or your girl do you? I hope that I don’t have to talk with you again.”
He drove off again and I was SO glad that Alex had grabbed a camera from the bureau and that I had it with me now. The Tiger looked at the car going down the street and said, “Who was that?”
“Somebody dat yuh don’t wanna have messin’ in your business.”
“Is he a policeman, like the one that was here the other day? They look similar.”
“I wish. De Detective I can handle. Dat charactuh is plain bad news.”
“He knows you.”
“He’s a relative of de royalty of my girl’s bowuh. So he’s a relative. He keeps pokin’ his nose in my business.”
“Will you continue working for me?”
“He’s not gonna shoot family, so why not? I can run a hustle unner his nose, I’ve done it befawh.”
“I think that we have concluded our business today. Would Thursday or Friday work for another meeting.”
“Thursday. What should I do about those dragons?”
“They shouldn’t be a problem.”
That sounded like a cue to us and we emerged from being discreet and headed right toward Tim, who ran, starting to tear at his clothes. When he was down to his boxers, he hit the water and disappeared. Alex followed him into the water rather discreetly as I headed back across the river on the bridge as discreetly as I could. It wasn’t discreet enough as I headed up the waterfront thinking that I was more or less invisible, only to be spotted by an eleven year old boy, who ran off down his street to tell his friends. Since I was in the city, I stayed discreet as I went through the docks, looking for a quite place to stop and wait for Alex. I found the end of a pier next to a little railroad and waited. I was also getting hungry as it was lunchtime. Suzy found me before Alex did and said, “Hi Xing, Chasing Tim?”
I nodded and got out my wax tablet and wrote, “We were looking in on him at his little business. He was talking to a very bad character and was troubleshot. I took a photograph.”
“You are being discreet, why are you hiding?”
I pointed. The kids saw Suzy and called out, “Hi Suzy! We’re chasing a dragon, but it’s hiding. We missed them the last time.”
That was when Alex popped up and leapt onto the pier with two large fish in his claws. He handed one to me and then looked around. “I just made a mistake, didn’t I?”
“Well they can’t see us from Manhattan here and we are being discreet. The kids know Suzy.”
The kids saw Alex with the fish and the boy who had started it all said, “So they like fish, Suzy? Let us know when they come back and we will get them some. He turned to the other kids and said, “I think that they want to have lunch with Suzy. We’ll come back later.”
“They ran off again and Alex breathed a sigh of relief. “How come we can’t seem to hide from kids?”
“I think it comes from the ancient role of dragons as guardians. The fae kids need to see us and we can’t shield ourselves from them. My cousin’s two could always find me when they were young.” I swallowed my fish. “When we come back here I think that fish will be on the diet. Where did Tim go?”
“Out into the harbor.”
I wrote on the tablet, “Suzy, was Tim having lunch with you, today?”
“No he wasn’t. We were going to have dinner together tomorrow.”
That was when the first exploding boat went off, followed by more. Alex looked at me. “I think that we better go.”
“Well so far, Tim has doubled back to where he was. Let’s see if he does it again. We might even get lucky and run into some other characters looking into Tim.”
I wrote on the tablet, “Suzy, we should be going before your bonded has us attracting too much attention.”
“Bring the film for the picture that you took and I will have it developed. Tim being troubleshot. Everybody’s going to love that, bye.”
She leapt back in the water and we headed back to the bridge. We managed to get back across without being spotted and returned to the spot where we had been before. Tim did indeed, come back and I was tempted to chase him again, but Alex said, “Let’s wait and see what happens. Apparently there was a bit if a falling out amongst thieves. The Tiger didn’t push, but the Black Dragon probably will.”
Alex proved to be right as some characters accosted Tim as he was crossing the street from his place. There were three of them, a Youguai, one of the seafolk from the ship apparently and one that seemed to in charge. Considering that Tim had ten or so boys watching the street one way or another and at least one of them had a water tube gun, that was just stupid. The water tube gun looked like it was some kind of toy, but wasn’t.
Tom had come up with the tubes and one of the kids from the Academy had come up with a gun that let anybody set the tubes off and a fae do amazing things with them. They were fun to shoot and Hilda had had me practice with one. They were also quiet except for the snap of the water and there was no bullet, a perfect thing to have when you wanted to be discreet.
The three of them sauntered up to Tim and the one in charge said, “I believe that you may have something of interest to us.”
“Why should I tawhk tuh yuh?”
“Our superior is paying you for your services.”
“I just tawhked wit’ him. It turns out dat yuh just do business togethuh and he wasn’t payin’ me fawh de tings yuh wanted. Yuh brought quite a bit of heat down on me and dat’s gonna costcha.”
“How much?”
“Dat guy’s boss dere offered a hundred grand for one of de tings to that charactuh from upstate. How about that hundred for each of de four and another hundred pain bonus?”
“A pain bonus?”
“Yeah, yuh pay me tuh avoid the pain and grief that I can deal wit’ and you can’t.”
“We could just deal with you.”
“Den what? Do yuh tink dat I’m stoopid or dat I could run my business wit’out havin’ connecshuns. Try any funny stuff and yuh won’t like what happens. Ya’ dig?”
“How do I know that you have all four of the objects?”
“Yuh had me highjack dat cabinet. Right? I knew what was gonna be inside befawh it was highjacked and your man dere saw me find de one yesterday. I hope he could tell dat it was real.”
“That was one, what about the others?”
“Well your boys hassled de Rockefellers, tawhk about stoopid and dey have taken precaushuns, de one dat de idiots sank next tuh de Cape is still up dere and I tink I know where de globe went, but I don’t tink dat I will tell yuh. Especially since yuh aren’t de ones payin’ me.”
“Knowing where they are doesn’t mean that you can obtain them.”
“Dat’s why yuh clowns fail. Yuh have tuh know de hustles and how tuh wawhk de angles. Yuh don’t just go up tuh somebody and say, hand it ovuh. Dat just pisses dem off. Yuh do tings like I did yesterday. De Elliots don’t care about de ting bein’ an ancient fae weapon, dey just like de pretty ting on de shelf, won’t pay any attenshun tuh it and dey are high fae. De Rockefellers are not even fae, so dey didn’t care until your charactuhs made noise.”
“You seem to know a lot about them.”
“I find tings out. Dat’s wut I do. If yuh listen, yuh will find out all sorts of stuff. I used to do tings for the Directawh. Now dere was a guy who knew how to do tings. He was good at makin’ no waves until dat Colonel charactuh made a mess of tings.
Dis could have been easy if yuh had come tuh me first radder than doin’ stoopid stuff like sinkin’ dat ship. Do yuh know how many people dat pissed off. Dat ship of yawhs is gonna have an accident at some point. All yuh had tuh do was buy tings discreetly, tawhk tuh people and make some deals. De way yuh’ve done tings just made so much noise dat yuh attracted all de wrong kind of attenshun.”
After taking another picture I said to Alex, “He’s playing them like fish. He isn’t even lying very much.”
“That’s what makes it work. Of course he’s been doing the same thing to us.”
“I know. At least we can knock him off his stride a bit. These characters can’t even come up with a decent death threat.”
“Should we break things up again?”
“Let’s give the other guys something to think about. I want to see if we can keep Tim out of the water this time.”
The leader of the little group accosting Tim looked rather crestfallen and said, “Whose attention have we attracted?”
“Yuh’ve got de attenshun of just about all de fae in de area. I was crashin’ dat weddin’ yesterday and whatcha were doin’ was topic numbuh one. Dat includes de outfit and all de bowers around here. De old man from de Cape was radder annoyed at de way dese idiots sank de ship and really annoyed at de way dey were sayin’ dat dey were Cape bowuh people. His son in law, Mr. Claytawh was wawhse. De Troubleshootuh has already tawhked tuh dese clowns once. Next time yuh tawhk it gets roughuh and he’s not your relative.”
“We are not the only ones looking for the objects. Suppose we divert the attention on to them.”
“De dragons, yuh mean? Dat’s anudder ting we have tuh tawhk about. None of yuh said anythin’ about dragons and now dey are chasin’ me and makin’ it harduh tuh do my business. Dat’s one reason I want a pain bonus. At least de dragons have been discreet otherwise. Dey’ve been tawhkin’ tuh de right people, gonna de right parties and keepin’ de fae kids happy. So dey can make de deals dat yuh should have been makin’. I’ve managed tuh stay ahead of dem, but it hasn’t been easy and I’m local. Your people stickin’ deir nose in and makin’ noise like dey did yesterday isn’t helpin’.”
“You ended up with the object.”
“It was supposed tuh be clean and not leave any traces behind. I did ok, but it was tightuh than it should have been and I might need tuh use de caterin’ angle again. If Bennie tinks dat I’m robbin’ his customers he’s not gonna hire my boys again. Yuh got me so fahr? I set tings up tuh make it clean and dere were your boys all ovuh de place. I was lucky and de dragons showed up and scared dem away befawh your boys ruined tings.”
“You ran from the dragons as well.”
“After tings was over. I couldn’t trust your boys not tuh get caught and get people tinkin’ in direcshuns dat I didn’t want dem tinkin’. When de dragons showed up I was ready and de boys were waiting wit’ a cah. Yuh was lucky it was de dragon dat showed up and not de othuh people wit’ connecshuns and guns.”
“Well, we can pay you what the Tiger does. We do need transportation for operations on the island.”
“Ok, now we’re tawhkin’. I got a cah, like I told de Tiguh. It’s not fancy, but we can get around. Do yuh still want me tuh go into de Cape Bowuh?”
“If the things we are looking for are not in the Bower there is no point.”
“Ok. I’ll go up wit’ my girl and go through anyway jus’ to be sure. We’ll take de train tuh Montauk wit’ de rest of de tourists and go tuh de beach. I’ll have some boys go out tuh de Cape on de train and do some lookin’ around. We need tuh be careful up dere, becawze if de old man gets a whiff dat somethin’ funny is goin’ on, he will wanna play. Yuh guys bettuh have de dough ready when we’re done or I might be tawhkin’ tuh some othuh people about makin’ a deal.”
“That would not be a good idea. My principle would not like that and the Masters would not either if this falls apart.”
“De Masters haven’t been doin’ so hot lately. Dat Colonel charactuh came ovuh and got himself a good case of de dead. If your principle is such hot stuff, how come he isn’t here runnin’ tings? Yuh boys haven’t been exactly gettin’ de job done. Yuh with me?”
“There is no reason for my principle to involve himself directly. He prefers to remain away from the center of things.”
“So he’s one of those ‘blame everybody else when tings mess up’ characters. I’ve seen those befawh. De Managuh was one of those. He also got himself de dead sickness.”
I grinned. Alex said, “Who’s pressuring whom here?”
“I’m surprised that Noro hasn’t shown up.”
“He and Josh are up at the office today, getting ready for the wedding out in Hawaii and Tom’s trip to Japan in September.”
“How did you know that?”
“There was some time to talk last night after we were off dragon duty. You were talking with Mrs. Elliott and your mother and I was talking to Noro and Josh. I think that we should break this up. It’s just gotten to the posturing stage.”
“I think you’re right and watching these guys make threats is getting boring.”
We went indiscreet and Tim spotted us immediately, along with all the boys on the street. Tim said, “Oh crap! See you later!”
Tim started to run toward the water again, but I was between him and the water, so he headed into Manhattan. Alex and I followed him, along the walls of buildings and through fire escapes. Tim was clever and it was obvious that he had done this before even before he had abilities. Now he used them to hide, changed directions frequently, went through stores and phased out the back as we went up through radio row and Chinatown. We were careful to be discreet, but a surprising number of kids saw us. As we took a breath and scanned for Tim, Alex said, “Now we have a way of finding fae kids.”
“Why is that important?”
“It isn’t right now, but when the Sharks were prowling around the market and the barges looking for kids to feed on, knowing which kids and their families were fae would have been a real help. Especially if they came to us like these kids are. There goes Tim, toward the subway.”

We chased him down into the subway, only to watch him catch a train, just as the doors were closing. I was about to leap onto the roof when Alex stopped me. “Too low. You would just get scraped off the roof. See?”
I did and he was right. “How did you know?”
“I was chasing a vampire who tried that to escape. It was messy.”
“We could do that in the tunnels when we bonded.”
“Those were the IND and BMT tunnels. They are bigger and taller. This is the first subway section of the IRT. They made the tunnels lower in spots.”
“So now what?”
“That depends on where we think Tim is going to go.”
Ten Youguai came into the station, obviously looking for Tim. They must have been following Tim with their noses. Like the foxes they were, they had a superior sense of smell. Alex looked at them and said, “Just how many Youguai are there? There can’t have been that many in the beginning.”
“There are probably two hundred or so. They tied themselves to the Black Dragon’s keystone when their own cut them off , they bond whenever they can and have large families. So the original four or so have hundreds of grandchildren and great grandchildren. But not all of them are Youguai. Until Jim and his family joined with us along with others, numbers have been the Youguai’s great strength even when each individual was not very powerful as a fae. My family and the red foxes were able to counter their numbers with stealth, ability and forming alliances first with other fae and then with people like Jim and Adelle. Of course here, they are vastly outnumbered as well as being out matched.”
“Let’s follow them.”
We did, sneaking onto the last car of the train they were on and then following as they got off. They seemed to sniff around and one of them actually Changed to chase the scent. A scent that seemed to me to be a bit off. Alex said, “I think I know where they are going to end up.”
“Where?”
“We’re going to go past the building the Manager’s people committed suicide in and torched and over to the market. Haven’t you noticed that the scent is strong?”
“Yes I had, but why?”
“Well during the thing with the Sharks, the Sharks followed joining couples through the scent that a newly joined mermaid puts in the water. Both Tom and Sal used false scent trails for confound the sharks. Then Sal and Steve used false scent trails to destroy the Sharks. This is a false trail, count on it.”
“So we should be careful?”
“Is there anything that causes dragons to have spontaneous sex?”
I growled. “Yes and mother probably told Tim about it.”
‘”Well, let’s just say that the same thing happens to seafolk and Noro did it to Tim and Suzy. So Tim is leading us into the same sort of thing, but our friends here are going to trip whatever it is off. What is it that causes spontaneous sex in dragons?”
“Sugar, when we are in Change. Even the scent of it can have an effect.”
“We’ve been lucky then. We were right next to the coffee factory where they use sugar, but we weren’t together and now this. I suspect that is why you like Kay’s cookies so much.”
“Everybody likes Kay’s cookies. I haven’t had a bag in two weeks.”
“That’s true and I’m sorry. I haven’t had a chance to arrange to get some and my orders ran out.”
“Well why don’t we go over and fix that. We also need to deliver some film to Suzy.”
“What about our friends here?”
“If we hurry we can beat them to the cookies. They are probably going to have a nice tour of the coffee factories.”
I took some pictures of the foxes and then we headed toward the navy yard to find Suzy. We managed to find a place to Change and get dressed again and went through the gate and over to the complex that the mermaids had as their offices, kitchen and bed pool. Suzy was at her desk and said, “Hand me the film, I’ll have somebody run it over to the photographer’s mate shop.”
“Good, because we also took pictures of the Tiger and the characters from the ship,” Alex said. “Tim was talking with both of them today. They seem to be at a bit of a disagreement over some stolen goods.”
“Tim wasn’t taking any risks was he?”
“He was covered on the street,” I said. “The only thing he was at risk from was us and we only want to embarrass him. Of course he’s working with my parents to embarrass Alex and I, but that is part of the game.”
Suzy made a call and a smiling rating came and took the film. Tim Kirk came by to visit Merlia and when he saw us, said, “How is it going with Tim and his friends?”
“We got some pictures today of Tim running his sting on some rather unsavory characters” Alex said. “I’ll have a report later. There seems to be a bit of a tussle over things on the other side of things.”
“What happened?”
“The Youguai and the other characters wanted Tim to do some things for them and the Tiger hadn’t told Tim that he wasn’t being paid to work with the Youguai until Tim had apparently stolen one of the objects. The Tiger came to meet with Tim and Tim told the Tiger that he wanted to be paid for it and was wondering where his money was. The Youguai showed up with another character and one of the guys from the ship later and wanted the object and Tim told them to bring money, lots of money.”
“Was it fun?”
“Oh yes, especially when Sal showed up in the Duesie and gave Tim a Troubleshoot. Xing got pictures.”
“Sal Troubleshot Tim?”
Suzy was giggling as the commander said that. When she could control herself she said, “Yes he did, apparently. Tim should have told me that it was coming. I would have gone over there for that.”
“While the Tiger was standing there and we were watching,” I said with a grin. “This is my second troubleshoot. Alex, we need to see Kay about some cookies. We’ll be back, Suzy, for the photographs.”
We walked over to the market and Kay’s booth. Fortunately she was still there, even though she was sold out. “Sorry, Alex, I’m sold out.”
“Alex forgot to reorder,” I said.
“I thought that dragons didn’t forget?”
“Alex did. Or he says he did. Now that we are bonded he probably thinks that he can skip.”
“So he’s lazy like my lout. How is the house coming?”
“It’s about done. We plan to move in next month.”
“Have you caught that young scoundrel yet? Apparently you were Chasing him through my neighborhood this morning. At least the kids said you were. You were discreet otherwise.”
“We were Chasing him, he got away and we didn’t want to disturb anybody,” Alex said. “Of course we will have to be careful now that the kids have seen us in Change.”
“The kids do seem to find you regardless. Is that your parents, Xing?”
I looked behind me and mother spotted me before we could run. “We missed you two this morning, Xing.”
“How did you know we were here?”
“Stella told me. Apparently you had some fun today with Tim.”
“We have pictures,” Alex said.
“I’m surprised you stopped Chasing him so soon.”
“It was obvious that he was leaving a false trail and the Youguai were on it, so there was no real point.”
“You might have ended up in interesting places.”
“I know what interesting places you were thinking about, mother,” I said. “Alex warned me and we decided not to follow a cold trail. Did Tim get pictures of the Youguai?”
“I wouldn’t know, I haven’t seen him recently.”
“So why did you track us down, mother?”
“Stella invited us to dinner. Since she said that you were ordering cookies, we decided to see if we could catch you. We also need to start planning for your housewarming.”
“The house isn’t quite ready,” Alex said.
“Your father and I can do that while you Chase Tim, Xing. That is if you don’t catch him. He has really surprised me.”
“He has, actually,” Father said. Not only with the Chase but how far he has gone to help you with your burden. He’s also been having fun doing it.”
“As long as are here, I want to check something,” Alex said.
“What?” I looked at him sharply.
“The warehouse that was toasted back when we started to find out about the Manager and the rest of it. Tim wanted us to go there, I think, and it may be part of the mystery.”
With that we walked the short distance to the ruin that was visible from the market. “What happened here,” father asked.
“We were lucky,” Alex said. “The Chemist the Manager had was in the building when we raided it and went up with the rest of them.”
There wasn’t much left other than a few brick walls and ruined mass that nobody had started to clean up yet. Alex described what the place did and I wasn’t surprised that nobody had wanted to get deep into the mess. I said to Alex, “Were you in the building when it started to burn?”
“We all were. We wanted to get in and get as good a picture as we could because the Director’s people and the places he had tended to self destruct when we raided them. We got some pictures and files, but not enough to really give us what we needed to know, then. The luck was that the Chemist was in the place and because of that the rest of his operations shut down when this one did. That saved the New Jersey bower.”
“There is a bower off New Jersey,” Father asked.
“Yes, founded in colonial times like the rest of them. They didn’t have as large an up top presence as the Cape or Rockaway bowers and between one attack and another, if the people had continued to poison the keystone we would have had a keystone collapse and possibly two. We didn’t discover that the Amboy bower was in as sad shape as it was until after everything was over at the Manager’s. Apparently the Director wanted to wait before starting things up in New Jersey again and we found out about the operation and took it apart before it could start up again.”
We looked around the ruin and Alex spotted the can sitting on a pile of rubble. He walked over and opened it. Inside were some photographs and news clippings. He looked at them and said, “These are the stories from the Amboy bower where Tim was involved. He wasn’t involved in this, because he was still selling papers at that point and the kidnappings hadn’t started yet.”
Father looked up and said, “We have visitors.”
The Youguai had caught up with us. They looked at us and slunk away. They were followed by some people that looked like market laborers and Jimmy came over and said, “Alex, when you bring the family, let me know, especially when those characters show up.”
“They’re looking for Tim.”
“He hasn’t been here today. Most of the day he was at his thing over the bridge.”
“The clowns were following their noses.”
“That explains the boys spritzing around early this morning. I guess they were laying a scent trail for people who think with their noses. I thought that you and your lady were Chasing him?”
“We realized that we were being had, again and let the Youguai have the trail unmolested,” Alex said. “I imagine that they had quite a trip. We thought with our heads once we realized that things were too easy.”
“My boy said that there were dragons having lunch with Suzy today.”
“We did do that, after Tim’s first try at getting us to have fun and games near the coffee factories.”
“You have to watch for something in your Change, I’m guessing. I don’t have Change, but my cousin does and he and his lady just love chocolate, if you know what I mean.”
“I noticed that nobody’s tried to put anything up here again.”
“The navy bought the property. I think they think that they think they need the space. Of course this spot could be poison and it’s better if the navy paves it over. Are you done here? I’m hoping that the characters over there get the Troubleshooter’s message and leave, but they are taking their time doing it.”
“Are they pushing here too?”
“No, because most of them don’t speak the language and the people from Chinatown run right to Gianni’s people or O’Doul if they get harassed. They can try their fun and games over there in Chinatown, but not here. Let’s go back to the market where Stella is waiting for you.”
We went back to the market where Stella was indeed waiting. She looked at mother and said, “Good, you found them. Jimmy, you didn’t have to send a search party.”
“Ma’am, we had some nasty visitors and I didn’t want them raising a fuss.”
“That’s understandable. Those characters are asking to get troubleshot again. Why don’t I take these folks to dinner and let you get back to your wife before she gets angry with you.”
“She does do that. I will tell her that you said hello.”
With that we went back to the pool where some navy types and the girls were working on dinner. Stella said, “At least we don’t have to feed you in Change. How did it go with Tim today?”
“He ran us around in circles once,” Alex answered with a grin. “The second time we broke things off and let the Youguai follow Tim’s false trail. Apparently my mother in law has been sharing things with Tim.”
“That’s part of the game. Isn’t it Chin-ling?”
“Definitely. The pursued needs the advantage, especially when there is such a discrepancy between dragons and anything else. The idea is to balance things and make the Chase as entertaining and as long as possible.”
I growled. “Tim hasn’t needed the help.”
“We also want to keep an eye on him. He’s going in deep doing these things for you and we want to make sure that he doesn’t get in too deep. This is your road of sacrifice, not his.”
“He seems to be enjoying himself.”
“We want to keep things that way. Those poor Youguai. We have all four of the treasures at last.”
“So what do we do with them?” Alex asked.
“That depends on what the Black Dragon does,” father said. “I think that the best thing for a time is to keep them here. There is too much opportunity in the turmoil that is China right now.”
“For how long?” I asked.
“I don’t know. The old dynasty is dead, the new one has not emerged and the Masters have spread their influence and allied with the likes of the Black Dragon.”
“If the Black Dragon is destroyed?”
“Destroying the Black Dragon here, away from his power base will only allow the power base to fill with his cousin, who the Dragon enticed into the same sort of darkness that the Black Dragon has gone into. So we should take steps to insure that all seven of the treasures are not where they can be taken at once. If the four are here, it will not be possible to unite them and possibly put them to use.”
“What would happen if somebody did?” Alex asked.
“The records are very spotty,” Mother said. “The Seven, or for that matter any of the objects have not been active for thousands of years. There are very good reasons for that. The objects were created when the fae had far too much hubris and went too far down dangerous paths. I hope that fear, stupidity and pettiness do not take us down that path again.”
With that, she turned to Stella and started to talk about Tim and Suzy’s wedding next year. That was the way dinner went and afterwards, Alex and I started back to the apartment. A bit later, Alex said, “We could see if Tim is at his place.”
“He’s not. Suzy is taking him under for the night, so why don’t we make plans. What were those exploding boats today?”
“Those were something Tom did to make Stephie’s parties more interesting and scare her ‘snooty’ friends away. Tom’s gags had the effect of making Stephie more popular, not less.”
“Should we make some?”
“We could, or we could get the kids at the school to do them if we did it right. Let’s ask Andy and Trillia in the morning.”
Since we had agreed with my parents that dinner made more sense and that we would meet at Bennie’s if we could, they didn’t show up at the apartment the next morning. We did get a message from Noro wanting to meet for lunch. When we went over to Little Timmy’s little operation he was driving the wreck off with Suzy over the bridge and we followed him until he went to the Jamaica Station, left the car and got on the train. A bit later some Greek characters picked up the car and left with it. We discreetly followed them and they went back to Brooklyn and parked the car next to a pier, Changed and went into the water. I took pictures of all of it. Once the Greek seafolk left, I said to Alex, “Let’s go over to the navy yard, get the pictures from yesterday and meet with Noro.
We went over to the same place that we found yesterday to discreetly Change went through the gate and over to the pool to pick up the pictures from Suzy’s desk. Suzy was busy, so we took the pictures and went over to the trolley and across the bridge to the bureau to leave one set of the pictures on Alex’s desk and hand the pictures we had taken that morning to Steve. Then it was up to talk to Noro. When we arrived at his office, Josh and Noro were waiting. Noro said, “So what is our young scoundrel up to today.”
“He took Sal’s wreck, left it at Jamaica Station and headed east on the train with Suzy.” Alex said with a grin.
“So he’s heading our way,” Josh said. “Characters like him may have some issues in the bower. I’ll let Hilda know that they are on their way. Why did he take the car?”
“Some Greek looking characters picked it up and took it down to a pier and got onto a boat.”
“So their ship is nearby,” Noro said. “Tim probably knows where it is by now. Steve has almost certainly been told.”
“He was and The Admiral has some people doing some work near it,” Josh said. “The people aren’t navy and as far as the clowns know it’s just a barge waiting to lighter a ship.”
“So the Black Dragon is here?” I hoped that I didn’t look like I felt.
“The ship is and Steve has some nasty surprises setup,” Josh said. “So far the Black Dragon hasn’t poked his head up while the ship is in the harbor. If it stays too much longer, people are going to be asking why it hasn’t taken on cargo.”
“So how have things been going with you two and Tim?” Noro asked.
“Interesting,” I said. “In between strange thefts, he’s been leading us to places that involve things in his life. Yesterday he led us to the warehouse that was burned down.”
Noro grinned. “He also led you to the sugar refineries and the coffee factories. I think that you will need to be careful about that. Why don’t we head up to the Cape on the train? It’s eleven thirty and we can catch the Knickerbocker. Your parents are already at Grand Central waiting for us.”
“I’m staying here,” Josh said. “Steve and I will keep an eye on the ship.”
“Why are my parents going?” I asked.
“So that they can bring the real Horse to Alex’s house when we are done playing games with Tim,” Noro said. “I doubt that he wants to have the real thing in his possession for any longer than it takes to convince the Youguai that he has it any more than he did with the cup.”
“Who has the cup now?”
“It’s here, in the building, in the shielded box that Tim had made.”
“That explains what Tim was talking about,” Alex said. “He said that it was in a shielded box, in a shielded room in a shielded building. He’s been very careful about handling the objects.”
“Yes he has. Well, why don’t we join your parents, Xing?”
There was a car waiting to take us down the street to the station where my parents were talking to a young man from the company who had our tickets ready. Then it was boarding the train and we were on our way. The trip went through the busy city to the factories and houses of the wealthy in the suburbs and seemingly endless miles of shore line and then back to the factories and farms as we approached Boston. When we arrived at the station we fought the commuters streaming into the station to get to our car. Then it was off to the Cape and the hotel. As we drove down to The Cape, I asked Noro, “So how is Tim going to get his hands on the Horse?”
“He sent some Swimmers up here yesterday along with some others of his rather disreputable gang. They’ve been playing not so innocent tourist and raising a bit of hell on the beach and chasing some tailed girls. They better be careful or they may be caught.”
“Where did he get the Swimmers?” Alex asked.
“The New Jersey, Rockaway and Sound bowers, I think. He recruited through the school, his old neighborhood and the New Jersey boys probably showed up.”
“How do you know so much?” I asked.
“I sort of talked to Andy about encouraging some of his friends to join Tim’s little gang and then report to me.”
I grinned. “So you know what Tim is up to.”
“Not entirely. He’s rather cagy about telling people too much. I think he learned that from Tom and dealing with the Sharks. I also think that he knows that I recruit and infiltrate. After all, I recruited him.”
“This has been a fun Chase already,” Mother said. “Tim hasn’t just run. He’s used his skills and knowledge very well. I’m a bit surprised that he came up here. This isn’t a place where he has those advantages.”
“He sort of had to, if he was going get his hands on the Horse,” Noro said. At least he had to make the appearance of being up here. Of course Tim is seafolk and he has been up here with Suzy quite a few times and knows a lot of people here, so he is not without advantages. He also has some family rule slots that he hasn’t filled, so I don’t know who he has on his side.”
Mother had a little grin on her face, but she wasn’t saying anything. We arrived at the hotel and then Noro took us to dinner at a place on the water a bit away from the center of town. This place had its own small dock and there were fishing and pleasure boats tied up. There were some warehouses and other businesses and everything looked fairly new. Noro said, “This is our version of Bennies. We set things up after the thing with the Colonel. We really needed a place where things were a bit more open and people from the bower could meet with people more easily. It’s easier to do business when you don’t need to arrange transportation to someplace away from the water. It’s actually worked out, as you will see.”
We did as the place was busy with seafolk and non seafolk all noisily talking with each other. We joined Noro’s son Altris and his wife, who with their daughter and his husband were going over the wedding of last weekend. I asked, “Where did Roger and Vilia say they were going for the honeymoon?”
“They are going on a long cruise to Bermuda with Bob and Violet on the family yacht. Bob and Violet probably will not be Swimming back as Violet was looking red at the wedding.”
“So she is likely to be expecting.”
“We hope so. They are such a nice couple and I think they will have wonderful children.”
Noro quietly said, “Look who just slunk in.”
There was Tim with a couple of the Greek characters and two Youguai. Alex put out a sense string and we listened as the various participants made plans to hit the business office. One of the Youguai spoke English and said, “If we didn’t need you, dog, we would teach you your place. Who are you to tell us what we need to do to get this done.”
Tim didn’t even seem to be even the least bit annoyed at the Youguai’s behavior as he replied, “De dog is de problem, okay? But I’m just a kid and only know what I’m tawhkin’ about. Go right ahead and try de office tonight. We’ll see what happens. Den Your bosses can make a deal latuh.”
“We won’t need to deal.”
“Yuh characters have been doin’ so hot on your own. Yuh didn’t need me tuh find de safe house, arrange fawh de boat and all dat othuh stuff I did. Okay, I’m just warnin’ yuh, but if yuh don’t wanna know about de dog dat likes tuh chew on werewolves, den don’t listen when I say dat yuh are goin’ into mawh trouble than yuh tink yuh are. Ya’ dig? I can wawhk around de dog becawze he knows me and I have family here. Yuh have neithuh. I have de fake Hawhse wit’ me and we can do dis clean or yuh can do it your way. But I’ll give yuh de first shot.”
One of the Greek characters started to look a bit nervous. “How do you know that the dog likes to go after werewoves?”
“Becawze I heard what he did tuh one when de werewolves were wit’ de Colonel and hit de farm upstate.”
“Are you sure that it’s the same dog?”
“I’m sure. Mrs. Benton brought it down and all de people in White’s was tawhkin’ about de dog and it bein’ at de office.”
The Youguai said, “We can deal with a stupid animal.”
“Okay, dat’s fine. Yuh can deal wit’ the dog. Den me and my girl will just get ready tuh have tomawhrow nice and easy and head back tuh de city.”
Altris had a wicked little grin on his face. I didn’t ask any questions until dinner was over and Tim and his friends had left. When Tim had left, mother said, “The dog is Roger, isn’t it?”
“Yes, the dog is Roger. I took him over to the office after Chrissie made sure that he had his dinner and gave him a walk.”
“Why do you do that?” I asked.
“I don’t know, it just sort became a habit. Otherwise Chrissie does it and she’s too busy. Roger is fairly particular about whose car he gets into. It’s just me, Chrissie or Julio, our night man typically. For some reason he won’t get in the car with Bob or Scott. In any case, until Tom’s house is finished, Roger is going to be watching certain things.”
“The Dragon.”
“Yes. Actually, Roger showed up at the farm about the same time that Tom left the Dragon in the barn. Eric thought he was just a stray at first, but he likes Tom and Andy and tolerated everybody else on the farm as long as they didn’t get too nosy about certain boxes of Tom’s things. Other than that, Roger is a pretty good farm dog and Julio likes having him at night because he picks up on things before Julio does.”
“Julio is fae,” Mother said. “You wouldn’t want a non fae in your offices at night.”
“Julio is fae, but not sea folk, unfortunately. He is forced to remain in his Change for the same reason that Tim’s father has to, but he does ok at night, has a shop and works on things and his wife comes, picks him up and takes him home during the day. He looks a bit like Eric in his Change.”
“How did you find him?”
“How did you find him, father? You know I never thought to ask about that. It was just after the war when you brought Julio and Maria up from the city.”
“He tried to rob me,” Noro said. “But he was polite about it and he seemed capable enough. He was just desperate and had kids to feed. He also didn’t pick easy targets. It was your mother’s idea to hire him, of course.”
“Father, I would have believed that when he first came up. Not that mother was a slouch at fun and games. But if mother hadn’t been killed, Julio would be just another part of your gang of tricksters. Of course he does well enough on his own.”
“So how is he dealing with Tim’s little gang?” I asked with a grin. For some reason I had a feeling that Tim wasn’t having it all his own way.
“He’s holding his own. Julio is playing things as if he’s frightened of being revealed.”
“Is he?”
“Not really. He’s good with glamors when he bothers, which is mostly when he’s with his kids and not in a place where everybody knows him already. Everybody in town certainly does except for the summer people. As long as he wears boots, dungarees and a hat most of them don’t notice either. Of course he tends to focus people’s attention on his shirts. He is like Jimmy, only with shirts. When Steve bonded with Haruka, Julio was ecstatic since he now had a line to Hawaiian shirts.”
“So people pay attention to the odd shirts and not the other odd things,” father said. “Clever. So I assume that you have plans for this evening?”
“I thought that we would go over to my office and see the fun,” Altris said. “Al and Eltra are already there with Larry and Theresa.”
“Where are Larry’s kids?” I asked.
“Tony is being chased by an interested tail and Tom and Chrissie are entertaining the rest of them.”
We drove over to the office and were met by a man in a loud shirt and several other men. Altris introduced us and then we went up to Altris’ office which was in an old sea captain’s house and was in a round room surrounded by windows. Al and the rest were looking out the windows in the growing twilight. Father said to Noro, “If this is your son’s office, what does yours look like?”
“My office is downstairs, in the back and is small. There’s just room for me, my desk and some files. Mary actually has a bigger office, but she needs it. I never actually meet people here and Altris handles the business here.”
“What about Josh’s office,” I asked.
“Josh’s office is about the same size as mine, but he has a meeting room, it’s not in this building and he has a large staff. But he’s had to be hands on for both here and the company for some time.”
“Josh tries to keep his office small so that he doesn’t want to spend time there,” Altris said with a grin. “It doesn’t work except when he’s trying to get daughters connected with young men and he’s run out of daughters.”
Julio came in and said, “There are some unsavory characters on the street out there. I think that things are about to start.”
I listened and things were quiet. There was no dog barking. “Is Roger here? He’s not barking.”
“When Roger barks, it’s not anything important, especially not something fae. He’ll bark at somebody just trying to break in, or wandering around someplace they shouldn’t. He doesn’t bark when its fae and they are doing something serious. Eric told me about that.”
“Where is he now?”
“He’s out there. He prowls around and doesn’t stay in one place at night, especially when there are people there that shouldn’t be.”
There was a shape moving in the shadows, sniffing around. “I see that the Youguai brought their sniffer,” father said. “I hope that Roger makes his life painful. He was the one that found where we had the treasures hidden.”
“How good is he?” Altris asked.
“That is hard to tell. He was already inside the shield in our home and the room that the treasures were in was not independently shielded but the cabinets the treasures were in were. Of course those shields and the fact that my daughter and son were guarding the room as well as some normal servant s may have made things too obvious. At the time all we expected were trusted guests and we just wanted to provide some eyes without it being obvious that the room was special.”
“If he’s looking for shields, good luck,” Noro said. “Since the device here is at least semi active, it moves shields around. The vault is also behind the accounting office and that is shielded as well as the vault.”
The sniffer went into a building and came out again. It wasn’t the building that had the vault in it.
“It will be hard to pick out the objects in the noise in the vault,” I said. “There were a lot of things in there.”
“That was my sons’ fault,” Altris said. “Along with my grand kids and Josh’s boys. I doubt that there is a single fae artifact in any of the wrecks out there at this point thanks to my sister encouraging them on their digging stuff up. Most of the stuff was junk, which did not make Mera happy, but some of the things were not and it wasn’t as if we could put the things back. Mother solved some of that by discreetly giving some of the things to museums as part of things she found as she was collecting.”
“That cost me quite a bit of money,” Noro said with a grin. “On the other hand it meant that we weren’t buried under the junk and we could hide things away from here. It looks as if your sniffer friend found something he didn’t like. It looks as if Roger found the Sniffer.”
We could hear screams and cries in Chinese and suddenly the sniffer came running out of the building he had entered, limping and in obvious pain and distress. Two of the other Youguai grabbed him as Roger came charging out, barking and attacking at random as the Youguai ran. The much bloodied Youguai managed to get to their car and sped off and Roger came back looking pleased with himself. Julio said with a huge grin, “I better get down there and calm Roger down. He’s going to be awfully pleased with himself. I will also call Jake and tell him that we had some visitors tonight.”
He left and the rest of us were laughing. Father managed to control himself and said, “Tim did warn them.”
“At least they were smart enough not to start shooting,” Noro said. “Then we would have had to take steps to deal with that and that gets messy.”
“So they would have been killed,” father said.
“Yes, but the grief that goes with that just isn’t worth it, especially this time of year,” Altris said. “The last thing we need is a major shooting here on the Cape during the time that we have a lot of guests even if it’s at night and not near a beach or a hotel. Josh is a bit more aggressive than I am about things like that. He’s not as adverse to shooting. But he’s never had to deal with the aftermath other than dealing with the police and whatnot.”
“Tom and I did some things to deal with that a bit,” Al said. “It’s still a lot better to have Roger deal with them. More humiliating anyway.”
“How do you think that Tim is going to get his hands on the Horse and the Dragon?” I asked. “After all we know that he is coming.”
“Oh, He’ll figure something out,” Altris said with a bit of a grin. “I’m fairly sure of it. Why don’t you come back tomorrow and find out what.”
The next morning Alex and I drove back to the office. On our way there, we passed an old truck that seemed to be filled with some rather familiar young men and there were some more doing something along the road. Alex looked at them and said, “I think I see trouble.”
“We’ll tell Altris, but I have a suspicion that he’s on Tim’s side in our little Chase.”
“I do too. In fact Noro mentioned that he was, or could be. I haven’t actually been keeping score. I also think that Noro wants Tim to do certain things. Certainly he wants to confound our adversaries.”
We parked at the business office and went upstairs in the much busier office. About the time that we started to introduce ourselves to Altris’s secretary the building started to fill with thick black smoke from a building up the street that seemingly had caught fire or at least was belching thick clouds of smoke. People rushed out of the building as Altris’s secretary started to call out to evacuate the building. Apparently a good part of the men working in the business office were members of the volunteer fire department as they went rushing up toward the firehouse.
The rest of the buildings emptied out and we joined Altris who had a rather mysterious smile on his face. I turned to Alex and said, “Why don’t we find a discreet corner and Change.”
“Ok, Tim is going to show up soon.”
We found a corner, Changed and went discreet. Suddenly what sounded like shots when off up the road. Things had gotten very chaotic by that point as Alex scanned around and said, “There he goes.”
There he went, carrying two boxes. We followed and he must have sensed us because he suddenly started running and phased through a wall. Alex said, “You stick with him, I’ll go around.”
He peeled off and I chased Tim, dodging people in the store we were running through and out the front. Tim managed to get around Alex and then a car sped up and he leapt in. This time we could keep up with the car in the narrow roads and Alex caused the tire to heat up a bit by flaming it. The car went over a narrow bridge and there was a splash as we could sense Tim Swimming away in the water. We both went into the water and chased him in the shallow marsh until he hit open water and disappeared. Alex turned to me and said, “Go get your bag. I’ll see if I can find the car. Let’s meet at Joe’s for lunch.”
He went up to the road and back toward the bridge as I went back to collect my bag from, where we had jumped into the river. There were two children waiting next to the bag. “See Joey, I told you that there were dragons.”
I picked up my bag and turned to run. The kids seemed to be upset at that and I thought of something. I reached into my bag and pulled out my tablet. I picked the stylus and wrote “What are your names?”and showed the tablet to them.
“He’s Joey and I’m Gail. Are you here on vacation? We’ve never had dragons here before.”
I wrote down, “We are doing something with Noro.”
“Then you work for my daddy’s boss.”
“Not exactly. I and my parents are recovering something that was stolen.”
“Was it sunk in the water? My daddy gets stuff from the water. Mommy was a mermaid until she had Joey and me. When I get big, I will be a mermaid and mommy will be again too. Most of my friends are going to be mermaids someday.”
She was about ten. I wouldn’t have expected her to know about mermaids. She added, “Joey can have a tail whenever he wants. He fell in the water when he was little and got a tail. It doesn’t work that way for girls. You’re pretty. Do you have a bonded?”
I wrote, “Yes I do. He’s chasing somebody who took something from the office over there.”
“That will get them in trouble. They won’t get away even when they think that they are. I think that Joey and I better go and you need to go too.”
The kids let me go and I ran along, following Alex. Neither he nor the car seemed to be close, so I decided to return to the business office and see what had happened. After discreetly releasing my Change and dropping my bag back in the car, I went into the office again where Noro and Altris were arguing. Noro saw me walk up and said, “Tim got into the vault because Altris didn’t secure the walls.”
“Father the walls were shielded. Just not against phasing. Anybody in Change wouldn’t be able to hide.”
“Tim can phase without Change.”
“That’s Eli and Theresa’s fault, not mine. Look, I’ve been looking for somebody to correct that issue and there isn’t anybody with the skills available right now because Miss Vicky got the guy we usually use busy in Washington for next couple of months. When he’s available I’ll get it done. There aren’t that many people that can do Eli’s trick and most of them are family. Xing, I take it that you didn’t catch Tim.”
“No we didn’t. Alex is chasing after the car. Tim went into the water as soon as he could. I take it that Tim got into the vault while the chaos was going on.”
“Yes,” Noro said. “He was in and out of there, with the Horse. Then he went and collected the Dragon from Tom’s office.”
That was strange. The Dragon in Tom’s office was a copy and I was certain that Tim knew that. On the other hand the Tiger didn’t know that and Tim was probably betting that the Tiger would think that the statue from the office was the only one that Tom had ever had. Noro turned to me and said, “Xing, why don’t we go to lunch. My son can deal with things here.”
It wasn’t until we were in the car and driving away that Noro started to laugh. “Tim was impressive, wasn’t he?”
“You aren’t really angry?”
“Not really. Altris’s point is valid and I knew that Paul was tied up with a contract in Washington because Lou wanted him to do the same thing at the company and talked to Paul about it several months ago. It was fairly obvious that Paul was going to be in demand once Eli’s little trick started to get around and people realized the implications. The way things went, Tim probably went in through the door anyway. Our little spat was for the gossipmongers. That way our adversaries will learn that Tim actually managed to get into the vault.”
“I’m surprised that Tim took the false dragon.”
“He’s taking advantage of the fact that the Tiger doesn’t know for certain that the Dragon is the real thing. After all, it could have been a copy all along. So Tim just looked where the Tiger told him the thing he wanted was and is bringing back the thing he found.”
We arrived at the little enclave that we had gone to dinner in before and Alex was there, trying to be discreet and failing as he was being forced to give dragon rides to some children. Noro saw that and laughed. He went over and said, “Kids the dragon needs to meet with me for lunch, so you all need to find something else for a while.”
One of the kids turned to Alex and said, “Mr. Dragon, be very careful with him. Grandpa says to watch out with Mr. Noro. Maybe you should have him for your lunch and stay out of trouble.”
I handed Alex his clothes and he went to the discreet changing room behind the restaurant as the kids ran off. Noro was laughing again as I said, “They know you.”
“The one that spoke up was one of John’s grandsons. So he certainly knows me. He’s not even fae.”
Alex came back and said, “Did that kid just say that I should eat you.”
“I think that that was what he was saying,” Noro said. “Considering who he was, I’m not surprised. He’s the harbormaster’s youngest grandson.”
“He wasn’t even fae. He didn’t spot me until some of his buddies did and I couldn’t hide anymore.”
“That doesn’t matter very much. He knows me and his dad and grandpa certainly do. His grandpa would say the same thing.”
A rather tough looking elderly man walked up. “What would I say? Tommy said that there was a dragon here but you must have scared it away.”
“John Warshowski, meet Alex and Xing. I think that you must have missed them at Tom’s party. Alex bonded with Xing, who happens to have the Dragon Change. Alex holds down the desk when Mike is on a case and vice versa.”
“So that’s why we didn’t see you during the thing with the Manager and his idiots, as Tony and Robert so colorfully call them. What’s going on with this current batch of idiots and why did Josh have to tell me about them?”
“What did Josh tell you?”
“That those characters were responsible for that ship that sunk in the storm last year and that they were going to show up looking for something. Didn’t you think that I would want to play with them?”
“I’m sorry, I forgot and most of the action has been happening down in the city for the most part.”
“Not all of it and we’ve been having strange seafolk and those fox characters show up in Boston.”
“Have they been coming out here?”
“Not really, but from time to time. Altris, Jake and I keep an eye on them. Altris has Bob and Scott chase them when they show up. So what happened at the business office this morning?”
“Little Timmy and a few of Tom’s things.”
“Who’s little Timmy and is he another of your creations?”
“Suzy’s boyfriend and Vic and I had nothing to do with what he came up with. Remember Joel Talbott?”
“The slimy confidence man who tried to pull one on Josh and Ray a while back? He’s not coming back here any time soon.”
“Actually, I want to talk to him. He’s apparently been cleaning out the Director’s operations and other dark fae and setting the authorities on them for cleanup. It turns out that Tim was involved in one of his cons and learned some things. He dragged them out to nail our Dragon friend on the boat and an old adversary of mine, the Tiger.”
“Is he around? You and he did a bit of a dance out west before he went home. Now there’s somebody to play with. You’re not letting Tim get involved with him, are you?”
“He got himself involved. Of course he’s been playing the Tiger like a fish, hasn’t he, Alex?”
“From what I saw, he did very well. But he’s still young and could make a mistake. I just hope that he doesn’t get carried away with Little Timmy.”
“After the Chase ends, Vic and Bill have a bunch of things for him to do. So he’s going to be right back to doing his reporter work,” Noro said. “Let’s go to lunch.”
“Speaking of Little Timmy, why don’t we go to Helen’s,” John said. “Some rather unsavory characters were plotting something and they may have come back.”
We drove over to a small place near the harbor where there were two large frames filled with pictures of Tom and Chrissie. As we sat down, I asked, “So what is going on there?”
“Tom and Chrissie saved Helen’s kids during the storm last year,” John said. “Then Chrissie was taken hostage and the kids did the boards to show how much they liked them.”
We were in a back booth and Little Timmy didn’t see us as he sat down at a table and waited. Two other young men sat down in different booths. Shortly afterwards the same characters we had seen yesterday came in. One of the Youguai had some rather poorly wrapped bandages. They sat down across from Tim and Tim said, “I told yuh about de dog. Yuh didn’t listen to whut I told yuh.”
The Youguai glared and said, “That dog must be some sort of Changed fae or Construct. The thing was unnatural.”
“I don’t know, I’ve nevuh had a problem wit’ a dog. I just plan ahead.”
The Greek man said, “Well it’s your turn. You have been bragging, now you better have the object by next morning.”
“Why wait. I went and picked it up dis mawhnin’”
‘I think that we need to see that.”
“I wasn’t gonna show yuh guys de ting, but I tink dat I have tuh, tuh keep yuh guys from tryin’ again. Frankie, show de man de box.”

The young man pulled out the box that Tim had had at the business office this morning and opened it. The real Horse was inside. The young man closed the box again and both of the other young men left. Tim looked at the people at the table with him and said, “Dat’s whatcha can do wit’ some distracshuns and some plannin’. Yuh should buy de Colonel’s book. Aftuh he started tuh mess up de Directawh I did and I learned so much.”
“We could take care of you and get the box,” the Youguai said angrily.
“See dat’s de kind of ting dat’s gonna make yuh fail. Do yuh know where Frankie was goin’ wit’ de box? Yuh didn’t have anybody outside and yuh didn’t check dis place out. Look around and see how many cops are here right now. Yuh with me? I wouldn’t get too loud and spoil deir lunch.”
“They are not fae, why should I be concerned?”
“Now yuh’ve been here fawh nine months now. Okay, didn’t yuh look into anythin’? Dis de old man’s home territawhy and de Peacekeepuh is here. Do yuh wanna bet dat at least some of de cops are fae and dat de rest know how tuh deal wit’ fae and have practice dealin’ wit’ fae? I told yuh about de dog yesterday and yuh didn’t listen. Are yuh really dat stoopid?”
John was starting to laugh as Helen came over with our lunches and asked, “What’s so funny?”
John pointed and Noro said, “We’ll explain later.”
Helen looked at the table and said, “Oh. I don’t know what those characters are up to, but it’s probably no good and that young man has been playing them like fish, right along. They’ve been in here twice now.”
Tim stood up and said, “I tink dat I will have lunch elsewhere. Yuh guys are startin’ tuh get stoopid ideas and I don’t wanna encourage yuh.”
He was out of the diner before the rather dumbfounded crew could get their act together. The two Greeks just shrugged and the four sat down again for lunch. They didn’t say very much and we ate slowly so that they left before we did. After they left, Helen came over. “Ok, you two, what’s so funny? That young man looked a lot like Tim the reporter but he talks as if he’s still down in Brooklyn.”
Noro started to laugh again and then before things got too far said, “That was Tim. He came up with Little Timmy to confound those characters.”
“He isn’t too deep into one of your schemes, is he?”
“This is his own scheme. Where did he go when he left?”
“He went down the dock toward the water. I think I saw Suzy’s head poking up over the dock.”
“I wonder what he’s going to do about his clothes?” I said with a bit of a grin.
“There are some changing booths on the dock,” Helen said. “He probably has one of his friends ready to deal with that.”
Actually it was mother as she came in with father looking for Alex and I, carrying a canvas satchel and the box. “Tim said that you two were in here. Why aren’t you chasing him?”
“Because he’s in the water, probably heading for the bower, where we can’t go, mother,” I growled. “There isn’t much point in chasing him down the dock. I see that he gave you the Horse.”
“That was the plan and the Youguai are looking for young men and a car. Jim has the car and the young men are heading across the bay to catch the train back to New York from Montauk.”
Helen said, “I don’t know you all, but this is one of Noro’s schemes, isn’t it? It sounds like a good one.”
Noro introduced us and then explained what had happened and what we trying to accomplish. When he finished, Helen said as she had a huge grin, “I was right, this is a good one, those poor fools. Tim led them right in here and they didn’t pay any attention to the fact that there were eight cops in here and four of them are fae. So if they tried to pull any funny stuff they would have been busted, right then and there. From what I’ve been hearing, they have been acting rather stupidly for people who are supposedly trying to keep a low profile. Aside from sinking ships, that is. Has Steve or Eltra found out how they did it?”
“Yes, and what they were after was the item that Tim just showed them. Tim stole it with the help of Altris, more than likely and then showed the characters here that he had it.” Noro said.
“They didn’t have to sink a ship to get that. When they did that they made more trouble for us during a storm when we had enough trouble. Suppose Tom had had to go out and be there for the ship’s crew instead of rescuing Chrissie and my kids. Or that all the ship’s crew died because Tom and the rest were elsewhere rather than just some of them. When you catch the people that did that, Noro, remember what Liltra would have done to somebody who hurt people that she cared about.”
She went off to greet some more customers and I turned to Noro and asked, “What would Liltra have done?”
“If they were seafolk, tie weights and drop them in the dark deeps. She was the most generous and caring soul ever, but utterly ruthless to those who carelessly destroyed life.”
Mother said, “Now that the fun and games are over here, I think we better think about getting back to New York. If we’re lucky, we can beat Tim back.”
“The best train that we can get back gets into New York around nine pm,” Noro said. “Tim will probably catch the early train from Montauk after staying overnight at Hilda’s. So we will probably beat him back without much of a problem. You’re right and we should start back.”

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