by Trevor Hopkins

I had to admit that Luncardy could move quickly when she wanted to. And her crew were well trained. She also had the contacts, and the influence, and the trust quotient, to get support from others in her organisation without question. There seemed to be little resistance to her requisitions.

Maybe it was just a slow day in the police department, or maybe the cops had more information - or just more suspicions - about Garrick's activities past and present than I was aware of. Perhaps some senior officers treated it as a training activity, or just a fishing trip: not really likely to succeed in its stated objective, but nevertheless a good excuse to get a force on the ground to shake out whatever criminal activity came to hand. Or maybe some of them were privately keen to see Luncardy fail, to do something foolish, on the principle that, given enough rope, she would hang herself.

Whatever the reason, Luncardy was readily able to draft in reinforcements from other precincts. The combined force made rapid time to the particular cavern which contained the Deepest Joy bar. But not as rapid as Luncardy. She and a few of her most trusted staff made double time through the transit tubes, much to the consternation of the regular commuters and itinerants, I don't doubt. It seemed I had been temporarily included in this privileged number.

Following Luncardy's unerring direction, we made our way to an observation platform, working our way to the steps which spiralled up and around one of the immense stone pillars that supported the roof of the cavern. Luncardy's long legs made short work of the steps while leaving me very slightly out of breath at the top. From this vantage-point, we had an unparalleled vista across the shallow bowl that was the cavern floor, this surface punctuated irregularly by supporting columns and modulated by buildings of every shape and size.

Luncardy muttered quiet instructions to a couple of her officers, who in turn spoke into communication devices that a human might think of as a walkie-talkie, although actually worked by subtle glamours. We know that radio waves don't propagate through solid rock at all well. After a final command from the Captain, we watched the uniformed coppers swirling out of the transit tube exits like black ants scurrying from a nest, ready to attack or defend, all set for the sting.

The massed police forces set about working their way methodically along the boulevards and side-streets, knocking on doors and waving search warrants in the face and barging past anybody who tried to stand in their way. For those cases where nobody answered, the coppers deployed legal-only-when-used-by-authorised-police glamours to look inside those properties. Fortunately for everybody, for obscure technical reasons these glamours are extremely short range and short-lived, and therefore much less invasive than one might expect. I wondered idly whether this was another magic that had been donated by the Old Ones, a technique carefully hamstrung so as to be useful only under marginal circumstances and with much effort.

All this police action seemed astonishingly heavy-handed.

"What's going on here, Luncardy?" I asked the Captain, "There’s a lot of manpower down there."

She was standing at the very edge of the platform and peering over - there were no protective barriers as a human construction would have included. She turned and moved and stood just a little bit too close to me. I was suddenly aware of her feminine form in the most basic way possible: her scent, her flesh and her bright eyes boring into me.

"We've been trying to track down this Garrick for a long time," she breathed, her professional words at odds with the animal presence forcing itself to my attention, "And now we have a chance to lay hands on him."

"Ah," I replied, edging backwards cautiously, "So you know a lot about the Professor?"

"Urquhart Garrick has been on the Most Wanted list for a long time," she replied, her demeanour suddenly darkening, "Even before your little run-in with him."

As if realising just how intimate her actions might have seemed to those around her, Luncardy spun away, returning her focus entirely on the actions of the blue-coated flatfoots hurrying about below her.

Part 88 Part 90