• The Auction

    14 – Stone Still

    Halfway back to the display floor, Curt felt his phone buzz. He stopped and opened it, expecting it to be a message from Magnolia, who so far, hadn’t sent him any information on lot sixty-four and the agent’s condition. He hadn’t found that surprising. With it being such a sought-after prize, there was likely a crowd of people lined up to get close enough to inspect the merchandise. The text gave a room number. It was one of the private offices on the third floor that had been put aside for people to discuss business, call their backers or bosses, or simply escape the noise for five minutes. He walked…

  • The Auction

    13 – The Lighthouse Theory

    Back in the safety of the hotel room, Curt finally felt like he was free to think again. There was always the possibility that readers were roaming the halls looking for information. Even if that was the case, they’d surely be tasked with more high-priority targets. Even if you could account for every single possibility, go down every paranoid rabbit hole, at some point, you actually had to act. And right now, he was on the precipice of “shit or get off the pot”. His text chain with Carmichel sat open, thumb hovering indecisively above the keyboard. He could say something over text, and it would probably be enough. This…

  • The Auction

    12 – A Dance of Distraction

    Curt looked across the dining table at Mags, smiled to himself, and pushed the plate of ribs towards her. ‘Kolk isn’t my favourite mix anyway,’ he said. Most meat in fae dishes was lab-grown vat meat, and without the restrictions of it coming from an actual animal, there were weird and wonderful mixes. Kolk was a pretty standard mixture, half white meat, half red meat, usually striated to look almost like a candy cane, even when cooked. It wasn’t bad, but he’d usually go with another option if one was available. Mags smiled, wiped some of the sauce from her face, and pulled two more ribs from the serving plate.…

  • The Auction

    11 – Bold Moves

    As a testament to the kind of rich people they were used to dealing with, changing to a four-top hadn’t been an issue. Magnolia had already been seated, opposite her mother, at a table at the edge of the mezzanine floor. A table that overlooked the chained wings. Curt gave Mags a quick look, and it wasn’t hard to read everything in her expression. This was far from the ideal situation, but until lot sixty-four went on display, there really wasn’t much progress that they could make. Carmichel was still presumably out on the floor, free to gather information. So, other than Mags being tense from being around her mother…

  • The Auction

    10 – Chains

    Curt still wasn’t sure who Francis was.  The man had been very circumspect in doling out details about himself. Whoever he was, he knew how to navigate the auction like an expert. And being on his arm was like walking through the world with a new lens. No one looked at Francis the way they did Carmichel. There were few, if any, nods of recognition. In most cases, that would seem to indicate that Francis was just one of Magpie’s attendants. But…the way he walked, the way he seemed to size up people and artwork with equal ease, left Curt with the distinct impression he was dealing with someone powerful.…

  • The Auction

    09 – A Sweet Drink

    The limo ride was comfortable, if long. Curt stared out the window, taking in views he wasn’t likely to see again. The casual tourist appreciation of an unusual-looking house, or a restaurant that might have been nice to stop at. There were no fairy stairs that led directly into wild lands, at least none that were publicly accessible. A direct courier – being carried by some fae who could fade long distances – was possible, but had been decided against. About an hour in, long after the polite conversation had exhausted itself, Mags had pulled out a smaller version of the folder she carried everywhere and started to do Agency…

  • The Auction

    08 – Where There’s a Will

    It wasn’t an active wish to die, but every time he went on a mission, part of him hoped he wouldn’t come back. Curt looked at himself in the mirror, then down to where he’d propped his phone on a stand. The screen displayed a couple of stylish haircuts that Carmichel had suggested to go along with his outfit. He ran his hands through his hair, feeling the strange static fuzz as it shortened and shaped, following the command of his requirement. This felt like magic. Having a gun or a burger materialise in his hand had become normal. Feeling it affect his body was something else. A couple more…

  • The Auction

    07 – The First Spell

    Within ten minutes, Sacha’s living room had been transformed. Couches had been dragged out of the way to allow a small stage to be required – one complete with a digital screen background and spotlights. Snacks and charcuterie had appeared. Hewitt had helped Sacha roll several garment racks full of colourful clothes to one side of the room. On the opposite side of the stage, Magnolia had set up several pairs of mannequins. The fae man had introduced himself – Caipe – and explained that he was Hewitt’s fiancé. ‘To save you the faux pas,’ Caipe had said, ‘I’m a quokka, so please don’t always assume I’m happy. I have…

  • The Auction

    06 – The Devil, The Details

    ‘You’re going to have to say that again,’ Magnolia said, an accusatory finger aimed in Andrea’s direction. Curt hid a smile behind his hand and feigned a small cough so that Mags didn’t turn and kill him with a look. ‘If you’re asking her to repeat it,’ Carmichel said, ‘then I believe you heard her correctly. But once more, please, Agent.’ The sim room was sparse. An endless white expanse with two couches and a whiteboard. The first part of the training had been dense and detailed. Andrea had started by going over the default models of the sex doll sims if it had been purchased off the shelf and…

  • The Auction

    05 – First Plans

    Within fifteen minutes of returning to Queen Street, he and Carmichel were in a room with Ryan, Clarke, Jones, and Mags. Jones was in her girl mode today, and if there was one agent he could stretch the word “cute” to include, it would probably be Andrea. The person he was a year ago would have slapped him across the face. Today, he knew it was another step along the path of finally truly seeing agents as people rather than boogeymen. Clarke was standing near a window, cigarette in one hand, phone in the other. Someone – probably not Clarke – had cracked the window wide enough, so the nicotine…