It occurred to me that a certain segment of the population might think there's something political in this. There isn't. It's just a story, and I've been having fun with it. I have no intention or desire to bring politics into anything, thank you very much, so please keep them to yourself.
The Unnamed Story: Part 1
The Unnamed Story: Part 1
The atmosphere changed when I crossed the border between Downtown and the Pits. The scent of pollution and the sound of traffic receded into the background; magic was too strong and erratic to risk any sort of modern technology. Horses and mules clopped around on cracked pavement, moving with a kind of hyper-aware tenseness, as though ready to bolt at any moment.
It isn't that machines don't work in magic zones, it's the imps. They adore heat, and their little bodies gum up the works of anything that gets too hot. Take the standard internal combustion engine, for example. Imps absolutely love engines. The moving parts will kill the stupid critters, of course, which means the engine ends up filled with stinking purple goo. Expensive as all hell to clean, and finding tiny body parts for days afterward is pretty distressing. Except for the head and skin color, imps look so human.
My partner and I hustled through the Pits on foot. Our instructions led us to an area that at first glance looked normal, minus the broken glass festooned all over the city street.
“1543 Second Street,” I said, checking my notebook. “This is it.”
Right on cue, a tentacle writhed out of one of many shattered windows of a three-story apartment complex, and I swallowed.
“You've gotta be kidding me,” my partner Jonas said.
The thing was matte black, scars and octopus-like suckers glistening and pale gray against rubbery skin. It quested around, feeling the hot Los Angeles sidewalk until it found a battered fire hydrant. With an excited quiver, the tentacle wrapped itself around the device and yanked it out of the cement. Water gushed upwards in a torrent. The tentacle doused itself in water and then retreated. Moments later, several more tentacles burst through neighboring windows, rushing for the artificial geyser.
“According to the complaint, one of the tenants summoned a Grade-1 water demon into the basement. Could be worse, could've been a fire demon. There are several hundred legal residents living in this building,” I said, swaying back on my heels while I surveyed the monster.
“How many illegal ones?” Jonas asked.
I shrugged and stuck my little notebook where it belonged, back in a weatherproofed interior pocket of my jacket. The tentacles retreated into the ravaged apartment building, leaving nothing but broken glass and fountaining water in their wake.
“Doesn't matter," I said. "Management only released two banishing runes to me, one calibrated to water and the other generic. We'll send this puppy back to the Nether and get out quick.”
“Stupid and shortsighted. If it was up to me, we'd have this place cleared of illegals in a week,” he said.
My partner stomped towards the apartment entrance before I could answer. I shrugged again, following him. At fifteen thousand clinks a pop, banishing runes weren't cheap. Deporting every single illegal demon resident would bankrupt us. We'd had that conversation before. Jonas would pepper every demon and mixie with banishing runes if he thought he could get away with it, whether they had papers or not.