Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
“Eavesdropping is a bad habit Reece.” Bert said abruptly. “It better not stick around. Is that clear?”
Reece froze. He dared not move, In case Bert was just assuming and didn’t actually know where he was.
“Reece! Come out. I’m tired I want get some sleep.” Bert said, beginning to grow aggravated.
Sighing Reece stepped out into the light and Bert gasped slightly when he saw him.
“Oh… your actually there. I was just testing.” The middle aged man looked a little startled, or maybe it was lack of sleep that influenced his haggard expression. His hair was a mess and his eyes had dark rings under them. He was however freshly shaven, no more contemplative beard strokes then.
Reece swore. “What. Are you serious? I could’ve escaped then.”
Bert burst out into peals of laughter that echoed throughout the tunnels, if Reece wasn’t busy being angry at himself he would’ve worried that his boss had woken some poor bastard up.
After Bert finally managed to calm down he motioned for Reece to come inside and take a seat. “So what were you doing around the corner? Just passing by perhaps?” Bert said, falling into his office chair, it creaked under his weight.
“No I came to tell you my thoughts on the Vicar too but it seems Maria beat me.” Reece failed to mention the conversation he had with the priest. “I’m not as suspicious as Maria but I thinks its best that we keep a close eye on him and his fellows.” Reece said, awkwardly sitting cross legged on the floor. Chairs were a rare and valuable commodity.
“If that was so, then why did you stick around to eavesdrop?” Bert asked.
“I don’t know.” Reece lied. He had hoped Maria and Bert were going to be discussing something far less serious.
“I’m telling you, you need to break that habit of yours. For starters its-”
“Yeah I know.” Reece cut him off before he began his well-rehearsed lecture. “I agree about what you said. With the letting people in. Soria would too, now she may not show it much but she’s grateful to be here.”
Bert nodded. He then turned to the window and peered down at the loading bay. “There’s been more and more Overflows as of late. I got word from the Cluster that people are flocking there for safety. If there’s not enough people in the citadels then the number of Overflows will continue to increase. It’s just a big great mess really.”
“I’m going to interrogate the one in the handyman suit, I need your permission.” Reece said.
“Who Fletcher? Why?”
“No the young guy, about my age. He’s down there in the loading bay now, with the Reliant’s. His name is Quint.”
Bert frowned. “You don’t need my permission to make friends you know. You’re an adult.”
“I said interrogate old man. He was having a rather fitful sleep when I saw him last. And what Maria said about the concussion is worth looking into.” Reece didn’t mention what Wilton had said about Quints suspicious activity on the day of the Overflow. Deciding t
“Alright then, but don’t impose on his and their privacy. If they ask you to back off then do so, I don’t want our citadel to look bad.” Bert said. “We may be a small community but our responsibility is immeasurable. No oil, no trade with the cluster. That would be bad for us. The branches or Rail are growing more prominent and it would be in our best interest to have a good word put in for us from the Reliant sect.”
“Alright then, boss.” With that Reece took his leave. As he lay there on his bunk that night, he came up with a several strategies for getting past Wilton and his followers. Assuming they wanted to stop him from talking with Quin.
And even if they don’t stop me, they may be doing so just to avoid suspicion, could they be holding something over Quin’s head? He thought. The whole matter was confusing, maybe Soria would have an idea of what to do? Finally satisfied with his plans Reece let sleep take him.
“Soria!” Reece strolled over to her stall, it was late afternoon and having finally completed all his tasks Reece had found the time to bother Soria with his plans. The amber skinned Merchant woman stared blankly at him, but he could see her brow furrow slightly and she grit her teeth.
Reece chuckled, she must be annoyed. A bunch of strangers arrived taking all the attention, she was no longer the oddity. Children had crowded around Wilton and his now conscious followers, listening to them talk for hours. A few workers had forgone precious downtime to come investigate these oddly dressed strangers and their equally odd religion as well.
“He was probably expecting a crowd.” Soria said suddenly.
“What was that?” Reece asked. Leaning against the wooden stall that seemed so out of place surrounded by stone.
“The Vicar, Wilton. He probably expected a crowd to come listen to him, and he would’ve saturated his stories with his preaching. That’s how they do it those Reliant’s.”
“How do you know his name? Also how did you know he was a reliant?” Reece asked, a little surprised but at the same time he felt like he should’ve expected this. Soria was diligent in her information gathering.
“I have my contacts.” She stated, flicking her hair back. Reece sighed, secretive and just a little arrogant as well, it seems.
Soria froze. But before Reece could explain further, her arrogance turned to anger. “Dammit I told that harlot to keep her mouth shut!”
Reece held up his palms in a peaceful gesture. “Whoa take it easy. I found out last night. I Eavesdropped on her and boss last night.” Once again Reece left out information, choosing not reveal that he also got the go ahead form Bert to investigate Quin. She argued with him often, that his loyalty to Bert, his boss, was foolish. Reece didn’t really wanted to get berated by her for informing his boss of his plans.
But shortly after her lips curled into a slight smile. “My, aren’t you ambitious? You really are my protégé. You’d make a fine businessman.”
“Yep, I’m three steps ahead of you this time merchant. You won’t leech every bit of information off these priests before I do.” Reece said.
“We’ll see about that.” Soria said grinning, happy to have a little rivalry. “You don’t have womanly charms to push things along.”
Reece snorted. “They’re priests Soria, Good luck.”
She shrugged. Leaning back in her chair she slid a ledger out from under the stall and began to skim through it. “That guy in the handyman jumpsuit isn’t a priest by the looks of it. He’s young too and not that ugly either.” A sly smile crept onto Soria’s face. “Who’s behind now, Reece?”
“About that…” Reece said unfazed. “That guy, Quint’s his name. I need to talk to you about him.”
“What. Why?” Soria looked horrified, probably from both Reece knowing the guy’s name and offering her information. She probably thought she was losing her touch, she would have to ‘practice’ on other poor saps later.
“Listen, I don’t know how much you coaxed out of Maria but I want you to listen up anyway.” Reece explained what he’d heard from Maria last night and what he learned from Wilton. She was annoyed that he had gone straight to Wilton but as Reece continued she became more and more subdued. After explaining his plans to get Quint alone and interrogate him, Reece stopped and watched Soria. Her brows had knitted together and he could almost hear her brain tick.
“I see…” she said finally. “Yes I can see why you’d want to keep that under wraps. But why tell me, I mean yeah this Quint guy is suspicious but what do gain by telling me.” She looked at him curiously. Reece had expected this but he hadn’t prepared for it. He didn’t really know why he told her, she’s right he won’t gain anything from this.
Reece felt his face warm up a bit, alarmed he made an effort to keep his voice steady. “Because… I trust you?”
Soria raised an eyebrow, it took several seconds for what he said to process before she finally responded. “Yeah, bullshit.” She snorted.
Time to tell the truth then. He thought.
“Okay then I’ll tell you.” Reece said. “I honestly think this a little too big for me to handle alone. This isn’t some Refiner cheating on his wife nor some mother worried about a teenager rendezvous. Whatever secrets these priests and that supposed maintenance worker, may have hidden away could mean some serious consequences. I’ve been playing the investigator with you ever since you showed up five years ago, trying to outwit each other and dig up dirt on other people. And I know for a fact that you’re better than me, I hate to wound my pride but it’s true.”
Soria paused to consider and finally said. “So you’re saying I’m better than you?”
Reece inwardly sighed, of course that’s what she would bring up.
“…Yes” Reece replied quietly.
“Okay I’m in.” Soria scoffed. “At least you admit your failures my friend. So what’s the plan, how are we going to get Quint alone?”
“Well that depends.” Reece said. “On how Wilton feels about me questioning to him. I originally thought I could offer to teach him a few handyman things, but if my suspicions are correct then they won’t want him out of their sight.”
“Is that where I come in?” Soria interjected.
“Yeah I’ll need you too…” Reece’s eyes widened. He watched Wilton and the small crowd of children. His three followers were all there interacting with the crowd but Quin was nowhere in sight. “He isn’t there?”
“It would’ve been an effective plan I’m sure of it, if only it actually needed to be executed.” Soria commented.
“Well then.” Reece said feeling a little embarrassed. “Shall we go find this guy?”
“Lead the way subordinate.” Soria said. She gleefully sprang out of her chair and rushed to get ahead of Reece, her dark hair flowing behind her. Reece smiled, she sure was happy to be back in action. It had been three years since Soria opened up to him and offered to teach him how to be a competitive business person. Ever since then Reece had been learning under her. It was originally just to get closer to her, but after a while Reece had found a use for the skills he had learned. Even if he questioned why business in the Cluster required so much blackmail and subterfuge.
He glanced up to ask Soria something, but she had already disappeared from sight. Reece swore and looked around, he spotted her heading through a corridor and quickly followed after her.