Star made her way to the Bucket of Blood with an odd sort of smile on her face, her ornate leather case held tightly in her hand.
Just as she hoped, Mr. Underby was in.
“Good morning Mr. Underby!” She said brightly, perching on a stool and setting the case next to her feet.
“Ahh, Macbain, Good morning. What can I get for you?” He seemed, to her, a little distracted, all the better.
“A whiskey please. I’m afraid I’m still a little fatigued after all that travel, I’ve only just gotten in.” She watched him pour a generous measure in a glass.
“Oh? Did you have a good trip?” He asked, picking up a towel and starting to polish one of the dingy glasses.
“Indeed,” She tossed her whiskey back and set the glass upside-down on the bar, “This is strange, but the clock tower at the ‘Plank seems to have run-down, so does the one on Wexhome Emporium. Is the Clockwinder ill?”
“Oh yes, very. Have you not heard?” Mr. Underby replied readily.
“No, I’ve just returned and only saw Mr. Cleanslate briefly yesterday evening. He’s not terribly chatty.” She said.
Mr. Underby frowned, “No, no he is not. He makes my job decidedly difficult.”
Star suddenly looked concerned, “Does it? You must be wishing you had a few extra hands, eh?”
He nodded gravely, “Indeed I do, Macbain, Government work is tedious.”
Star smiled a slow smile, the sort of smile a cat makes just before it pounces on a mouse, “I am so glad to hear you say that,” she replied, earning herself a confused frown as she reached into her leather satchel and pulled out a sheet of paper.
Mr. Underby regarded her dubiously, “What is that?”
Star held it up and read aloud, “Hereby Ms. Stargirl Macbain Nee’ Alan is appointed to the Office of Imperial Legislative Oversight to the Mayor’s Office of New Babbage, you’ll find it’s signed by all the correct people.” She held it out to him for inspection.
He stared at her, uncomprehendingly, then took it, and stared at it equally confused, “It…what?”
Star smiled brightly, ‘oh! Isn’t it curious? I was just glancing over some old family papers and discovered that I was entitled to an office, strange how that happens, isn’t it?”
Mr. Underby narrowed his eyes at it then looked up at her, “A title in a city you or your family do not hail from?” Mr. Underby pulled a magnifying glass from his pocket and began to inspect the document even more closely, “How convenient, Macbain.”
“Oh yes, it turns out my great-great-great-great-great-great-great Grandfather held the office. A very stern fellow, according to the accounts.” Star smiled a dazzling smile, “Won’t it be nice to work together? I do believe it makes me a sort of undersecretary to you and Mr. Cleanslate. I’ll have to look-over all the city business, of course. That is a copy you’re holding, by the by, the originals are safely tucked away. I have the full genealogical and, well, all the other papers which verify its authenticity and some notes of authenticity from various head archivists, including form the Head Archivist of the Church of the Builder.”
“Good,” He said, assuming his more business-like manner again, “I shall need to see them, we must be thorough, of course.”
“Oh! Of course! I would expect nothing less from someone as careful as yourself, Mr. Underby.” She pulled a weighty sheaf of papers from her case and handed them over, “These are all onion-skin copies, of course, the formal ones have already been filed. I assure you you’ll find everything in order.”
Mr. Underby regarded the pile with a faint look of horror in his eyes.
“We shall be working together, won’t that be exciting?” She said with a grin.
Mr Underby stretched a smile back onto his face, “Oh, yes.”
“Of course it is,” Star said, standing and taking her now empty case in hand, “Well, I should return to the ‘Plank, the books are a mess! Shall I meet you this evening so we can get started on that work in city hall? You’ll have to let me up to the Mayor’s office, I understand the elevator is broken.”
“Ah, that area is out of bounds, it is a hazard. Anything you could possibly need has been moved to a different office.” He said quickly.
“Is it? I’ll order a work-crew to fix it immediately.” She said with an overly-helpful smile.
“The work-crew has been ordered already but they are very backed-up.”
“I’ll speak with Henry, he’ll get it fixed faster. I’m surprised they haven’t done it already. City Hall repairs usually take precedence.” She said, sounding a little dubious.
“Are you suggesting that I’m delaying it for some reason, Macbain?” Mr. Underby asked with an edge of anger to his voice.
“Oh no, Mr. Underby! Not at all!” Star said earnestly, leaning across the bar, her face wrought with sincerity, “I just think that, given your reputation, the crews are probably giving you a run-around to make you look incompetent or like you are hiding something. You are not well loved, of course, and with you so close to the mayor they are probably looking for any way possible to discredit you. I’m merely planning on putting them back on track, they won’t try such things with me.”
Mr. Underby was taken aback, “Oh, I…yes, I suppose…”
“I do think we shall become the best of friends, Mr. Underby! You shall find that I’m very thorough in my work!” She grinned again, her eyes bright, “Well, I shall see you this evening, Good day Mr. Underby!”
“G-gooday Macbain.” He called after her as she all-but flounced out of the pub, he regarded the stack of papers on the bar the way some regard particularly deadly snakes.
Star didn’t worry about what he would find. She knew her appointment was iron-tight. In fact, getting out of the damn job was going to be harder than getting into it had been, but that wouldn’t be so bad.
All in service to the Clockwinder, afterall.