Ever since the destruction of the Militia headquarters, Bookworm had had a temporary office in City Hall for her duties as captain. Though, as the weeks passed, she was beginning to wonder just how temporary it would be. She still felt the loss of the space, and the archived material – though she was glad she could legitimately say that the records from Dr. Martel that had still been in militia possession were now destroyed, through no fault of her own.
Almost as if her thought of destruction had summoned him, Mac shimmered into transparent view beside her. “Quickly!” she faintly heard. “Your home!”
That was all she needed. Dropping pen and paper, she dashed out of City Hall, running southwest as fast as she could. As she got into the Wheatstone Waterway district, she began to see large clouds of smoke ahead – right above the position of her home.
She ran for the entrance to Fae Way, the street where she lived, but skidded to a stop when she saw a large, furry creature beyond. She also saw the clockwork construct, Blossom Love, standing at the intersection. “What is that?” the clockwork asked as Bookworm came to the intersection herself. “Is it a werewolf?”
“Who are you?” Bookworm shouted, ready to set off after the canine figure. However, before she could even start, it took off, running away with amazing speed. “Too fast…” Bookworm sighed. She turned her attention back to her home, which was quickly being consumed by the flames, despite the streams of water Beryl and other Fire Brigade members were pouring on it. Bookworm took her place with them, though she knew it was hopeless. At least this time, she’d been able to get most of the household possessions out and away from the city.
Other Babbagers had gathered to watch, drawn by the clouds of smoke, including Kasa from the hospital. “Was anyone inside?” she asked anxiously.
“Thankfully, no, Kasa,” Bookworm replied. “Mariah was seeing Mrs. Pritchard and Mrs. Sawyer off on their trip.” She and Mariah had finally managed to overcome the objections of the two servants to leaving them, and sent them off on a tour – one that could be extended indefinitely, depending on how long it took to resolve this situation.
Finally, they managed to get the fire out, though several fire brigade members would stay to watch for hot spots. Bookworm looked around the crowd again, and saw Zaros Xue among them. “Your home has burned down?” the Cabbit asked. At Bookworm’s nod, she continued, “Any idea of who is responsible?”
“One of Prometheus’s crew, I’m sure.”
Someone else in the crowd, a woman Bookworm didn’t know, commented, “Isn’t this the second fire in about a week?”
“Two weeks,” said Beryl dryly, “and done by the same gang.”
“Well, if they think this is going to stop me, they’re definitely wrong.” Bookworm couldn’t hold back a sigh, though, as she looked at the smoldering wreckage. She noticed that Zaros, too, was looking at the ruins, a very concerned, pensive look on her face. Before she could inquire, though, Kasa was at her side, saying softly, “Snow said he is ready to hunt when you’re ready to catch this ‘fake prey,’ as he says.”
“Good,” replied Bookworm just as softly.
“I have a message for the Captain.” The loud voice came from the other side of the crowd, which parted, leaving Bookworm a clear view of the speaker. It was the same fox who had dropped off the medicine for Kuga. Bookworm grabbed up her rifle. The fox, though, did not look fazed.
“Prometheus says this was for taking Kuga. He did warn you that he would retaliate.”
“Well, you can tell him that this isn’t going to stop me,” Bookworm said sternly.
“He didn’t think it would.” The fox sounded faintly amused. “He wants to meet you. Alone.”
“Where you met last time.” With that, she took off, disappearing from view before anyone could move.
The crowd began to break up, murmuring about the fire and its aftermath. Bookworm made sure the site of her now-destroyed home was secured for the search for any evidence. Then she walked to the intersection, looking north toward the small park.
“You know how dangerous this is,” came the faint voice of Daniel, the ghost.
“I know,” Bookworm replied softly. “But I think it needs to be done. You can keep a look-out?”
“Of course.” As she slowly went north, the tranquilizer gun drawn and ready, Daniel ranged ahead, looking for trouble. Crossing the bridge over the canal, Bookworm heard him say, “There’s only one person in the park. No one else nearby.”
((To be continued…))