We crossed the city limits at a different point. Just in case. We didn’t have to get too far into the city before every one of us knew exactly how to reach the precinct. It was late though. So we were going to have to see Lieutenant Ember at home. Sam insisted that at any hour there were honest cops at his precinct. I asked him if he really wanted to risk this much on that piece of loyalty. “I guess not.”
Instead of driving to the precinct directly, we headed to a nice, green grass and picket fence neighborhood with two story houses. “You cops really live the life,” I said.
“You don’t keep the peace in Pantheon City for nothing,” he said.
I couldn’t argue with that, so I didn’t. I just accepted the entry level to the good life as a necessary fact. I pulled into a particular driveway at Sam’s direction.
I wasn’t going to ring that doorbell. I let Sam do that. I watched over the prisoners while he and Hell woke their boss. I kept watch for anyone who might be too curious about us. I didn’t have any reason to suspect anything, and I would have been right not to. I couldn’t be too careful though. The hard part was over, but in my line of work, I couldn’t assume that. (more…)
I can never tell if I’m eager or terrified going into a fight, particularly a gunfight. I had two pistols, a shotgun, a big damn knife and one of Sun’s walkie talkie things. In the distance Hell had another one, so that she could keep us informed. If she knew where they were, and could keep an eye on them, then she could send us immediate word about which way the bad guys were heading. That was actually more valuable than her bullets. (more…)
So I left the station and headed into the city. I had to wind my way around small streets and alleys, places that most gods didn’t frequent. I could keep an eye behind me then to make sure I wasn’t followed. I don’t know if I ditched some Temple flunky early or if I was just paranoid, but I got to a Hundred Nineteenth and Qof without noticing anything that bothered me.
I checked the place to make sure that no homeless god or vagrant heresy junkie was hanging around. Then all I had to do was sit and wait for the off duties that I was condemning to an act of irrational courage. How far was I really willing to take this? Could I win? My enemy was one of the oldest institutions in the city. And Moloch Winter was not someone you wanted to piss off. He should have faded long ago, but he was still there, hale and healthy, rich beyond most gods’ dreams. (more…)
The vahana rumbled into town sure enough. It had been a long time, but I still knew how to find my way around out there even without hitting the main roads. I knew what to do at the city limits too. I brought the vahana to a garage to store it so that I could get back out to Sun again when the time came. Privacy is a big thing at the city limits. Gods living at the edge of the city mind their own business. If I had been a councilman with a bimbo on each arm, driving up in a classic Sleipnir model vahana, I still wouldn’t have been worried about being recognized.
No one knew where I’d been. I didn’t want to head home or to the office. I wanted to get the jump on things by going directly to my next stop. The problem was, I needed to decide what the next stop was. I hadn’t said so to Agnosticism out in the country, but I didn’t have much of a plan then. The drive was long and quiet enough for me to figure it out on the way though.
I had an idea about something we’d missed. You have to pay attention to everything you learn in my line of work. There’s no telling what might be important. During my first visit to Primum Mobile, Loki told me that the fade was dressed to the nines. He certainly wasn’t avoiding attention. Strange for a guy who had just ripped off the DemiUrge Temple for a couple hundred thousand. And we never did find those expensive clothes. He wasn’t wearing them when we found him dead out in the middle of nowhere.
It bothered me at the time, so I really should have moved on it before. When Triumph was on the town, he wanted to be seen. That wouldn’t have helped me at all, but Loki knew fashion, and he recognized the suit. It was a J.C. Forest. I decided to go pay Forest a visit, find out what kind of experience they had with the mysterious corpse. (more…)
Travel is kind of strange for a god. Even me, and I’ve been all over. The Jormungandr had zigzagged us all over, then we sat in the ark, an elongated vahana, I assume like a mortal bus. Our companion was silent. He wasn’t too obviously irritated with me and Aggie by then. I guess he figured that he just shouldn’t have picked up his phone or that he should have asked more questions when he had. He couldn’t have had any idea what he was getting into when he agreed to watch for two guys in a train station. I bet he wasn’t even getting paid ten drevens.
The ark stopped for us at an unmarked intersection. It was just two dirt roads that not a lot of gods could have used. Aggie gave me a look like he wasn’t too certain about this. Christianity finally asked, “Are we actually going somewhere?”
“We’re meeting someone.” I had to wait for the ark to trundle away before we could move. It was more than a little paranoid, but we didn’t want anyone to know where we were going or who we were seeing. We had to assume that no one had followed us. That was really a pretty safe bet, but if anyone recognized us, we needed to be sure no one knew who we were meeting.
We pushed through a clump of overgrowth to a path that you wouldn’t have known was there. A rusty, open topped vahana waited with a casual, manly god leaning against it. Cowboy hat, white moustache, rough, wrinkled face. “Didn’t know you were comin’ with an extra friend.”
At long last I undid the handcuffs. That was as much a relief to me as it was to our tag along. “We picked him up along the way. Didn’t have a lot of choice really. Chris Garden, meet Sun Smith.” (more…)
Following Arati had been nothing but boring. If she was setting us up, then she was an expert at seeming like a lonely nobody while Agnosticism had followed her. He was more than happy to hear that I didn’t want him shadowing her anymore. He wasn’t as pleased about what I’d found out.
“Let me get this straight, Boss. Our theory right now is that Fade Triumph, a lowly charity case that the Urgists peeled out of Annwn Sanctuary, somehow uncovered a Temple plot to use illegal funds to sabotage the frontier. Instead of reporting it or ignoring it, he took the money. With the best of intentions of course. Then he was killed for it, and the Temple set us on the trail of a fake robbery in order to divert attention away from their schemes.”
“Well when you say it like that it sounds silly. You got one thing wrong though.”
“You said he did it with the best of intentions. I don’t make that assumption. Maybe he had a heart of gold. Maybe he was just a thief who found the score of the century. Either way the Temple’s motive stays the same. They can’t have us uncover a couple million drevens earmarked for bribes and sabotage.”
“They can always say it was for something else.” (more…)
I ended up in my favorite diner for low profile meetings. It was the kind of thing that made me ask myself just how much of me was me. This place was the kind of thing I’d expect, the kind of setting you’d see in some mortal novel that probably didn’t show up that much in a real detective’s life. There I was though, and I felt comfortable. Aggie sat across from me eating a cheeseburger. The most popular item on the menu was called the hinduburger. It gave him a perverse sort of thrill, eating a burger fashioned from the devotion of mortals who would never eat beef.
We waited just long enough to wonder what we were really waiting for. Then she showed up. I saw Aggie notice her over my shoulder. He shrugged at the fact that she wasn’t much to look at, then he went back to eating. If someone is fascinated with a burger, it’s hard to tell just how much of their mind is on the subject. He liked to use food to cover his interest. It was a good technique that really wasn’t necessary right then.
She sat down next to me, stubbed out her cigarette, and picked up a menu.
I had to talk to Aggie first. Back at the office I stared at the off white walls and the grey carpet. Aggie knew the look. “What’s the trouble today, Boss? It looks to me like we got it solved.”
“Does it? Does it really?”
“Oh damn it. Come on, Ax. What are we doing?”
“Do you really think that trollop they got in a cell killed Fade Triumph? Because I don’t. Hell, just lookin’ at her you can tell she couldn’t have done that.”
“Seemed pretty lethal to me.”
“In spirit maybe, but not in talent. You think she’s physically capable of murdering another god? Of making her way back to the city from the boundary all on her own?” (more…)
Right outside the station was God Olive. She was a pain in the ass reporter who was real good at finding stories and tracking you down. She wasn’t as good at relaying real facts to the public, but hey, as long as she sold papers, right?
“Detective Axiom! Detective Axiom! Can I get a statement?”
“The police will issue a formal statement later. All I can tell you is that I was part of the investigation.”
“But you found the suspect, didn’t you? Look, Ax, I’m not gonna burn you in the press. One headline ain’t worth it, and you know I know that. Give me something. Any detail, any quote, even if you don’t want it attributed.”
I was about to tell her to piss off, but I wasn’t in the mood. I just had this itch. “All right, Olive. Tell your readers that the official investigation is over.”
“Come on, Ax.”
“Listen, stupid. The OFFICIAL investigation is over. Now you keep things to yourself that might make for a better story later on. Got it?” (more…)
I left the vahana with Aggie so he could follow Bible if she decided she needed anything in the middle of the night. I hailed a taxi and headed over to find out if the plot would thicken. The offices of Doctor Ixlilton Runner were cold and unforgiving. They did not resemble the man who loved them. He was good at his job. He was a god that I thought could really be trusted. That is, if I trusted anybody. I trusted me and Aggie. Everyone else was a suspect to one degree or another.
“Ax. Good to see you.”
“You had a chance to check the I.D. on that body?”
“Well naturally. He was in very good shape for a fade, I can tell you.”
“Too good?” (more…)