• 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…

  • The Auction

    04 – Invitations

    Most of the time, Carmichel came in a town car, driven by one of the combination valet/security guards he employed. This time, he arrived on foot. Curt returned Carmichel’s wave as he approached. No security, not even trailing at a respectful distance, not entirely unheard of, but it changed things a little bit. It probably meant that whatever info Carmichel wanted to pass along didn’t involve something high-risk or that would put immediate targets on their backs. ‘I don’t think I’ve taken you to this place before,’ Carmichel said. ‘It’s down the end here.’ Curt followed him down a smaller side street, mostly the backs of shops, older-looking buildings, and…

  • The Auction

    03 – Communication 101

    The puppet stared at him. Curt wasn’t sure that, in a million years, he could have imagined a little yellow puppet could have inspired such rage, desperation, and…something akin to the five stages of grief. And yet it continued to torment him. ‘Fuck you,’ he whispered. The puppet – the children’s learning program on his phone – rose a little, flapped wings and smiled. ‘Come on,’ it said, ‘you can do it.’ It was the usual platitude it said when it encountered a user phrase not programmed into its response tree. He couldn’t imagine many fairy toddlers spending a lot of time swearing while learning the alphabet. There were adult…

  • The Auction

    02 – Bedside Manners

    ‘If you’re not about to die, you can wait,’ Parker-2 said as soon as the infirmary became clear. ‘No problem, Doc,’ Curt said and took one of the beds towards the back of the infirmary while the twins tended to the fairy siblings. He tried not to look at the unmarked door that led to the morgue. Most people, apparently, didn’t even know it was there. He only knew it wasn’t some benign storeroom due to being “friends” with Parker-2. And right now, two cold shelves would be holding dead Solstice. Mags was right. Anyone who had fallen so far as to willingly kidnap kids probably wasn’t worth rehabilitation. There…