The revision of Chapter 5 is finished. The last 1/3 rewritten. Enjoy. 🙂
Six Hours Later…
Looking down at the perpetual destruction and mess that was Tumbledown, Chuck asked, “When is the City going to clean up TDown?”
“Probably never,” Puddles replied looking around. “There’s no traffic here.”
“Usually quiet,” Chuck replied off-handed, “nobody likes to come here.”
“I can see why.”
The ruins of Tumbledown covered a city block and parts stood over 50-stories tall. A few months after the disaster, before the city could begin clean up, the undesirables of the City moved in, claiming the ruins as theirs. After several newsworthy attempts to move the squatters out, the City moved on. The residents of Tumbledown had to make their own way. Which is how Tumbledown grew and continues to grow into a sprawling and thriving city block, ignored by the city until something comes to a head.
“Look at that,” Chuck said excitedly pointing at Tumbledown.
“What am I looking for?” Whiskers asked, looking around from the driver’s seat.
Puddles nudged him, getting his attention pointing to the left, “That.”
Hovering over the ruins two police cruisers moved their spotlights over the ruins, stopping to highlight a work of art on the side of the remains of a tower. Nearby, a sensationalist vehicle filmed the entire scene. Below residents took cover.
The red navigation light blinked three times. “Torkal’s is right over there,” Chuck indicated.
“Where are the parking lights?” Puddles asked with some worry.
Descending all three of them looked out the window at a blank spot in the city. No lights. The closer they approached details emerged from the darkness, a black windowless building, a parking lot with a few vehicles, a person or two walking to somewhere.
“That is amazing,” Puddles said with awe. “I just noticed that there is a building on top of Torkal’s.”
“Torkal’s is the ground floor to the tower,” Chuck informed them. “There are no connections with the tower, people live and shop above, rarely knowing about the bar that is the first floor of their building. That’s lower Stroud for you.”
“Cannot say I have much experience,” Whiskers mumbled.
“I do,” Chuck said flatly. “Give me ten minutes before you enter.”
Clasping her holster in place, Puddles nodded. Whiskers nodded as he took in the surroundings; across the four-lane street an edge of Tumbledown, a mass of stone, metal, glass, haphazard construction, and other signs of life. The normal background noise of the City, almost non-existent. The normal sense of movement and life, also almost non-existent. The few people on the streets kept their heads down, moving quickly from one place to another.
“What a shit hole,” Puddles complained, “Do they pay extra for darkness?”
“They just might,” Whiskers replied with a smirk. Looking around one last time, “Ready to go?”
The exterior of Torkal’s, light absorbing black, no windows, no sounds emanating from inside, and one undecorated black door. Standing in front of the door and looking up, Puddles and Whiskers could see where the rest of the tower resumed from the top of Torkal’s.
“Amazing,” Whiskers said after an appreciative whistle.
The door opened smoothly, the loud music pushed past them, and the bright multi-colored lights blinded both of them. Stepping inside the door closed quickly. Whiskers stepped to the right of the door taking in the scenery. Puddles searched for Chuck.
Against the back of the bar, a long unadorned bar with mismatched barstools spaced intermittently. Leaning against the bar, a human male with long hair. An unknown band filled the space with noise. Multi-colored lights meant for the stage flashed everywhere. Scattered throughout the rest of the space, more mismatched tables and chairs. Surprisingly, there were less than twenty people in the bar, including the band. Puddles nudged Whiskers in the ribs, nodding in the direction of Chuck and Scar sitting at a table in the corner. Whiskers noticed that other than Chuck, nobody payed any attention to them or their weapons.
Chuck stood up next to Puddles as they approached the table, “You found the place.” Leaning close to Puddles, “Don’t start any of your shit.”
Puddles took a step back, ears back, tail lashed twice, before she regained her composure, “You got it.”
Watching the exchange an illietheril woman wearing a grey and black urban camouflage shirt. Her neon green hair spiked tall with tiny motes of lights rising from her scalp to explode in a tiny burst of light at each tip. When Puddles stepped back, her namesake scar pinched her face into a fiercer expression.
“Sit,” she barked at them over the music.
Pulling a chair out, Whiskers sat down across from her. Chuck sat next to her. Puddles glaring at Scar stood behind Whiskers keeping an eye on her and the room.
“Scar,” Chuck gesturing towards Puddles and Whiskers, “Puddles and Whiskers.”
She nodded at both of them. She leaned close to Chuck’s ear, whispering into his ear, sitting back alertly when the front door opened. Scar relaxed after the person walked to the bar. Chuck stood up and headed to the bar, Whiskers felt Puddles tense expecting a confrontation. A few minutes later Chuck returned with a pitcher and four glasses.
“Drink,” Scar “asked.” While Chuck poured and served Scar asked, “Numb says you two need some local information, what’cha need to know?”
“Numb?” Puddles mumble asked to herself.
Whiskers passed her a glass of beer. Taking a sip of his, he tried to hide his distaste. Pulling his tablet from a pocket, he slid the table over to Scar, “Our client believes his daughters are hanging out there with their boyfriends.”
Scar’s barking laugh topped the music, “Here? He told you here?”
“He wants you two dead then. No way. No how,” she finished with a slashing motion.
Scar starred at Whiskers questioning his intelligence. She looked askance at Chuck, “They don’t know?”
Chuck shrugged and took another drink.
Gesturing at the tablet, which she shoved back, “This is Black Myst territory. They don’t have girlfriends. They have guns and vapeheads.”
“Is it possible his daughters are vapeheads?”
“Anything is possible in Tumbledown,” she responded off the cuff, “Only way you’re going to know is to ask.”
Puddles set her beer down, “Then we ask.”
“Then you die.” Scar stood up, whispered something to Chuck before leaving without a second glance at Puddles or Whiskers.
“We need to do some recon and fast,” Puddles urgently said to Whiskers.