by Trevor Hopkins
Chapters

Chapter 1: Moonlight Chase
      Part 1
      Part 2
      Part 3
      Part 4
Chapter 2: A Class Above
Chapter 3: London Calling

I pushed the dark glasses back up my nose and pulled down the brim of my hat to provide even more shade for my eyes. The bright moonlight was really getting to me. Tonight, there was a full moon and a cloudless sky, and there was enough light for even a human to see clearly. I found it dazzling, uncomfortable, distracting.

I flexed my fingers around the grip of the big automatic in my hand. The cold metal was slick with perspiration. I checked the magazine and the safety catch reflexively. The log cabin in the forest clearing was dark and quiet, but I wasn't fooled. My target was definitely in there.

"Just throw out your weapons and come out with your hands up," I shouted, "You're surrounded."

A shot which took a large chip out of the tree trunk I was sheltering behind was the only response. It looked like they wanted to do this the hard way.

*

The transport of goods between the surface world of the humans and the Lower Realms, the demesnes of the Goblins these last five thousand years, is of course strictly regulated. There are permits, certificates, quality inspections, lists of proscribed items, and health and safety regulations to be adhered to. Even more importantly, it is extensively and comprehensively taxed. Naturally, there are always a few entrepreneurs and freelancers who seek to maximise their profits by avoiding the customs duties or, more usually, delivering illicit goods directly to those who would seek to avoid the overheads demanded by the governments of both worlds. It has always been thus.

Normally, discouraging this kind of activity is the work of the regular police forces and customs officials, although the human coppers may not always realise exactly what kind of smuggling they are combating. As you might expect, the official organisations are stretched enough by the endless task of closing down large-scale moonlighting operations so, in the case of a lone operator trafficking in high-value proscribed goods, the authorities find it more cost-effective to simply post a bounty and let freelance operatives - like me - take the heat.

Now, bounty hunting is not something I do all the time. It's a bit dirty and dangerous - though not as mucky as the divorce courts photography business, of course - and rarely presents much of an intellectual challenge. But the Private Investigator business had been quiet for a while and, frankly, I needed the money before my bank manager started getting tough on my overdraft.

Besides, it was good to work with my human partner again. Martin Gamshack, universally known as Gumshoe, was sheltering behind another tree a few yards away, attempting to make his way around to the back of the hunting lodge. A good man in a tight spot. I could trust him.

I gesticulated at Gumshoe, indicting he should pull back a little. I didn't see the need for him to risk getting punctured by the punk in the cabin. He nodded, then faded back into the undergrowth, sheltering behind a pile of cut firewood that had been there so long it was already going rotten.

Time to apply a little glamour to the situation

Part 2