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A Dangerous Con: Too Much Interference? (Part 2)

Bookworm Hienrichs stalked into the Gangplank, passing Miss Buxombottom with barely a nod, and arrived at Mr. Underby’s desk. The tall man looked up, then back down at his paperwork… then gave her a double-take that was oddly satisfying. “Miss Hienrichs. I thought my message was clear enough.”

Bookworm sat down in the chair opposite, without invitation. “Mr. Underby. Those men are part of an ongoing investigation into violence concerning Mr. Herding’s establishment and personnel. They are also attempting to quell further violence.”

“What manner of violence?”

She raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Surely you heard about what happened to Mr. Quillman.”

Mr. Underby sat back with a bland expression. “Indulge me.”

Bookworm took a quick moment to gather her thoughts. This was going to take some careful verbal tiptoeing. “Mr. Quillman and a compatriot – both of whom worked for Mr. Harding – were involved in a nasty fight in Ruby’s Pub. Mr. Quillman was later attacked at the hospital by Miss Domino. He subsequently died.”

He nodded. “Were there witnesses to this attack?”

“Yes. I was.”

“Wonderful. Case closed. What further investigation is necessary?”

“We don’t know that the case is closed,” Bookworm replied, trying to hang on to the shreds of her patience. “We need to know if these are isolated incidents, or if further trouble may arise.”

Mr. Underby stared severely at her. “Does every minor altercation which occurs in the taverns around this city warrant this sort of follow up? No wonder the Militia numbers are through the roof.” Before she could protest that such was hardly the case, he continued, “This is nonsense. I won’t have the taxpayers money wasted so blatantly.”

“Are you determining what I can or cannot investigate?” Bookworm asked, her tone soft – dangerously so.

“Would you prefer me to rephrase my question so it’s easier to understand?”

“By all means,” she replied, still softly.

“Do you follow up every single fight in the city with this level of investigation? Or – is it only when your friends are involved?”

“When I believe there is more to it than a ‘simple’ fight, yes. And I would do so no matter who was involved.”

Mr. Underby tapped his desk impatiently with his index finger. “Look, Hienrichs. I am aware of the situation. That establishment services very deep and influential pockets in this city. I’m aware that means nothing to you, but there is much which keeps the gears of this city greased. I won’t have those clients inconvenienced over one of your adventures.”

“Inconvenienced?” she almost yelped. “How can the presence of one or two men be inconvenient?”

He rolled his eyes a little with impatience. “The owner, as many of this ilk are, is a skittish sort. He believes he has seen many people ‘investigating’. When he gets nervous, people become upset.” He took a slow breath through his nose. “Miss Hienrichs. Book. If I may be so familiar. Despite my reputation, I am not without feeling. I understand you are worried. Allow me to assuage your fear – I have agents of my own Inside the establishment. Beryl is in very little danger. However, I would be happy to allow you to assign a single agent to the mission, provided he is not in uniform.”

Bookworm sat in silence a moment, thinking. That was actually a somewhat reasonable compromise, for Underby. Finally, somewhat reluctantly, she nodded. “Very well. All watchers will be pulled back, except one. But I expect that one to have… better access to the establishment.”

“I would suggest using a new agent nightly. How will they know to whom to give access?”

“We can establish a password,” she replied, shrugging a little. “Or some other sort of signal.”

“That seems wise.” He paused. “I’m actually pleased you came in person. You and I should be trying to forge a working relationship.” He smiled a snakelike grin. “We are, after all, on the same side.”

“So we are…”

If he noticed that her tone was rather sober, even grim, he made no indication of it. “Should I call Miss Buxombottom to show you the way out, or…?”

Bookworm stood up. “I know the way.”

“Have a wonderful evening, Miss Hienrichs.”

Bookworm left without another word. She felt like her skin was crawling, as the notion of being on the same side as Underby stuck in her craw. But there was, at this point, nothing she could do, except to return to Militia headquarters and issue the new orders.

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One Comment

  1. violet Solano violet Solano July 29, 2016

    (( i find it vastly amusing, that you always seem to end up finding yourself forced to ally with those you deem the most detestable. ))

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