Everyone else was back at the office, Duncan researching, Haven tending to the drunks at the Four Doors; Joe and me were going to go look for that guard who almost snatched us back in Channel Close. (See [[Chapter 1: Channel Cross | Chapter 1: Channel Cross]]) He wasn’t legit, and we needed to know what he was protecting. It wasn’t the people in the Cogs, that’s for sure.
“How come it’s always you who ‘knows a guy’, how come it’s never me?” Joe griped as we ambled through the slightly more hospitable neighbourhoods near the elevator. Here at least there was a lantern at every corner, if not another half way along a wall, or path.
“I get out- you know,” I said, by way of explanation, “and I’ve been places, people know me.”
He gave me a look. “People KNOW you? You? Hey, I been almost everywhere you were for years now… who are these people I don’t KNOW?” He paused a moment, noting that I was getting a little edgy. “Aww, geeze! You been hanging out with those… ” his eyes darted around quickly, looking for characters more suspicious than ourselves, “old timers again, haven’t you?” He continued.
“Hey! SOMEone’s gotta keep checking in on the…”, I adopted his term, “old timers. They get all antsy if no one is there to-uh-put ‘em back to bed.”
He paused in the street, grimaced at me and said, “that was a little… stretched, don’t you think?”
“Come on,” I pulled him along. “Anyway, you get the idea. It’s not like they have a commander to give ‘em orders, eh?” I chuckled, half-heartedly, while shooting him a sidelong glance; this routine having been played on a hundred stages before.
“No,” he said, now stone cold. Just, ‘No’; could sometimes be ‘No, there’s no commander,’ or, ‘No, we’re not starting this again.’ Sometimes, hard to tell.
“Right. Fine.” I said, adjusting my cape, reseating, and checking my weapons.
“So who’s this guy, anyways?”
“His name is Dale,” and now it was my turn to get nervous; I muttered, “he works in Cannith.”
He caught the ‘in’ part of that, and threw it back out there, “What do you mean ‘in’? This guy is IN the house?” He out, and out glared at me.
“Hey, hey, Joe! Relax a little. Dale’s good people. He’s a spook. Finds the dirty ones and brings ‘em in. He does good work, and we’ve helped each other out on a couple of occasions. He also don’t know nothin’. “
Joe gave me a flat look. then a slow nod, “All right, let’s see if he can find our guy.”
“I told him to meet us at the bar…”
“So,” he said, nursing a drink, “what do you call a House child who wanders into the Cogs?”
“Tormorrow’s pies, why?” I look around the bar, and see the new arrival. Shiny new leathers clean cape, slight tan… I could see where he was coming from. I could also see he wouldn’t like what was going to happen next. “I’ll get us some more drinks”, I said, levering myself up. He grunted in response, and I headed up to the bar, and coincidentally, towards the door- with the new arrival.
I gave the hairy eyeball to a couple of bully boys who hang around the place looking for marks, and waved them off. Next, I signed to Haven for three more drinks, and called Dale over. I swear I could feel Joe’s stare boring through the back of my neck, but I wasn’t gonna turn around without a shield of booze to deflect that medusa glare.
“Hey Dale,” I mutter, “I got you a beer. Come on, there’s someone I want you to meet.”
“Ha! Can’t! On duty, don’t you know?” He boomed back. Dale then smoothly converted the warding wave of his hand into a snatch for the stray beer, “No, wait! Not tonight! Haha!” I could tell that his boistrous attitude was a little grating to the regulars, so I gestured towards Friday’s table, and… oops, yeah he wasn’t impressed.
“Let’s go- we’ve got some things to take care of tonight.”
Friday was lounging in his studied ‘I’m very relaxed’ pose, his boot propped up on the third chair. “Hey Friday, this here is…”
”...Dale,” he interrupted, sliding the chair out towards that worthy with a bit of a kick, “Morty here speaks highly of you. Have a seat.” The two of ‘em studied each other for awhile, each getting as comfortable as possible in those hells-spawned seats, until Joe spoke up: “So. A House boy, eh?”
I winced a bit, but attempted to conceal it in a quick swig out of the mug.
“You know,” Dale mused, while off-handedly drawing on the table in some split beer, “that particular line usually gets followed with… let’s see, how does that go? ‘Ahhh. Oh, no. Please. Not that… whargarble.’” Totally flat, including the sound effects. He looks up at Joe and smiles this big, innocent smile. “But I suppose as you’re Morty’s friend, I can make an exception.”
Joe barked a laugh, “Dale, I think I’m going to like you just fine…”