Chapter 78:

Storing the Plan B - Part 2


Even with her ultimatum, the possibility of having a fight inside Karim’s house was still a problem, mostly for Karim, so the crate ended up relocated. That was, as one could expect, not the best plan due to the simple fact that neither Anna nor Karim was very strong. In fact, the short witch was likely a few times stronger than her taller partner even.

It all ended with a somewhat unbalanced carry of relatively heavy cargo to the mansion in the middle of nowhere. And since it was in the middle of nowhere, and owned by someone rich that couldn’t complain right now, fighting here wouldn’t be a problem.

And now, both of them were waiting in the middle of the chaotic living room. There was no electricity or anything to play around with, and by extension, the only thing to do was read the brief about their captive.

It was quite a boring time, but luckily, it didn’t take much for the ifrit to start moving after the huge struggle to get him here.

“Finally out of yer beauty sleep, ay?” Anna called as the ifrit started to move inside his crate. “I was startin’ to think we’d need to give ya a shake-up.”

By the information on the file, he was named Kahn Byali and nicknamed ‘Transporter’ in that Eden Workshop. She couldn't be bothered to use his name and was only watching as the man looked around in confusion.

Anna could relate to the feeling of waking up in a random mansion, though.

“Am I going to be interrogated here?” He asked with a sleepy voice that didn’t give much weight to the question. “I’m asking about the ‘harsh’ kind of interrogation, by the way.”

“It may go harsh, but I’ve gotta no need of yer information. Not now, at least.”

For starters, Anna had her sights on the smuggling operation happening around the island since she arrived. She kept hitting them for extra supplies and sustenance to her eye during the nights, so it was only a matter of connecting the dots. And from what she saw on the brief, her speculations were quite a on point.

It was somewhat unexpected that this ifrit would give so much after only a few days of interrogation, but maybe it was all due to the fact that he never gave the bigger organization away. Most information on the brief was about smuggling and things in which the ifrit was in direct control.

If it was due to loyalty or the fact that they had, in Broker’s words, a ‘very powerful leader’ was hard to be sure yet. And it also didn’t matter for Annabeth either way.

Kahn couldn’t know why it was so, though.

“I see… I guess that’s how things go, right? Can I ask for a last meal then?"

“Yeah, that’s not happenin’ too.” The inquisitor answered while thinking that she likely should’ve been a little less obnoxious earlier. “I’m not gonna execute you fow now, 'kay? I’ve gotta proposal for ya. We may fight to the death if you don’t agree, though.”

“By the Circle, why do you always sound like the bad guy, Annabeth?” Karim broke her silent watch while holding her temples. “Watching this happen makes me feel so bad... But I guess that's necessary this one time.”

These words didn’t mean much to the ifrit as he shouldn’t know much about the petite cop speaking with him. Still, it was an endorsement of Annabeth’s words, one she got only after explaining her deal with Karim’s aunt. A very simple deal that, in summary, meant that whatever was happening here was both endorsed by the secret service and off-records.

Even if it wasn’t something she liked, Karim would have to accept this situation, even if she would put on a complaint or two about her aunt later.

“So… What’s this proposal?” Transporter asked, getting up and taking a seat on one of the couches while at it. “I don’t like threats, but I don’t like fights too, so as long as you’re not asking something insane…”

“Insane? Nay. It’s actually somethin’ yer used to doin’, y’know? I need supplies if ya catch mah' drift...”

“Wait? Do you want some 'alternative' goods?" Kahn reacted in clear surprise. "You know my whole network went down, right? And you're the one who did it."

The red-skinned man seemed to be somewhat angry with Anna’s actions and request, but his dragged voice took away all strength in her words. If one went only by the voice and ignored his expressions, it wouldn’t even seem like a mildly annoyed speech.

“And you can remake it, ‘aight?”

“Making it again? Do you really…?” The ifrit stared at the girl he had clashed against three times during the last month, and just looking at her seemed to make him understand that she was serious. “Yes, you’re serious, right? I knew you were insane, but still…”

“C’mon, if you did it once, you can do it twice. I’ll even give ya some extra tools.”

“And if I don’t agree, you’re shooting me death either way, right?”

“Yeah, that’s the gist of it.”

“I never felt so much on the side of evil as today…” Karim complained again as she kept watching the discussion from the sidelines. “Can we be done with this subject already before I end up needing to lock myself in a temple for some weeks? This conversation must be darkening my soul…”

“Ya could stay outside while we talk, y’know?” Annabeth answered with a hard-to-notice, but existent, hint of worry in her voice. “Sometimes it’s better to not know some things…”

The inquisitor’s tone made it seem like she was talking from experience there, but she was very against thinking too much about it. It also didn’t seem that Karim would meddle in her affairs, so it didn’t matter for now.

“I’m not letting you alone with a suspect, even if I’m sure that he’s in more danger than you are…”

“Yer choice then… Anyway, interested in hearin’ mah’ plan or we’ll end this ‘aight now, fire demon?”

“Look, girl, can’t you just arrest me and be done with it? I can wait a few years in jail, but I don’t like the prospect of getting the attention of my last boss. Worker’s rights are very different underground…”

“And what if I could assure ya ‘bout not getting’ this unwanted attention, mate?”

“You can’t. There’s no way of escaping those guys, they have eyes everywhere, and you know that.” Kahn added with an unusual force in his voice, one that gave the feeling of how serious he was. “You wouldn’t be playing like this if you didn’t know about how deep they go in this place.”

“And I know that yer the only one that could manage this job… Even more if I give ya a communication line no one ‘round ‘ere has and contacts on the continent.”

Anna’s cocky smile only got cockier when she noticed the clear surprise in the eyes of the ifrit. He had been hooked, she was certain of it, and she only had to pull it in the right way now.

“What are we talking about here? Both in equipment and in goods.”

“A safe house out-grid, a personal telegraph, and contacts with the continent to get me spell bullets, weapons, and catalysts. The scale’s kinda small, so I can deal with the retrieval, by the way.”

“That’s more reasonable than I expected from you…” He answered with an expression that really could piss Anna off. “Well, I don’t plan to die now and, if your safe house is good and you’ll manage the collection, then it’s not a bad offer... I have two conditions, though.”

“Oho? Lemme hear ya. I also gotta tell ya mah’ condition too, though…”

“Another condition? What’s it now?”

“It’s a simple one this time...” The inquisitor went on as she retrieved the prepared seal chains she had left around, explaining her aim right away and being answered by an exasperated ifrit.

“I gotta tie yer up with these, y’see?”