Blue

14th October - The Delve - Morning

"We have to ask someone." Oaks hissed.

"This is madness, we need to leave this place." Gabriel was peering ahead at the Elesian guards that stood watching over the workers. He had his pistol ready and a knife in his free hand. He was taking no chances.

"I am not turning back now, not when we are this close!" Oaks edged forward and shrugged away a fumbled attempt from Gabriel to hold him back.

"Damn it man, stop!"

"Wait here." the detective ordered, "I will be back."

Oaks skirted around the outside of the room keeping the guards in sight. He needed to find a lone worker, someone who could answer his questions. Mortimer was down here somewhere, perhaps captured, perhaps even killed, but he had to know. There! he spotted a pair of workers standing apart from the main group, they were talking quietly and firing worried glances towards the Elesians.

Oaks crept within a stones throw of them and stopped short. There was something familiar about the man. He was tall, muscular and wearing a vest that had once been white and by the cut of it, expensive. He was arguing quietly with a fierce looking woman and despite his stature she was not backing down. He crept closer and scooped up a stone to hurl towards them. He needed to get their attention, he needed to...

"What the hell!" he gasped in suprise as he recognised the man. "Josiah!" He flinched back in suprise and the movement caught the attention of the pair who both stopped their quarrel and looked towards him. Josiah looked confused for a moment and then a broad grin spread across his face. Checking to see if the guards were watching he walked over and the woman followed.

"Detective Oaks." Josiah greeted him, "Dare I hope that his is a rescue?"

"I did not believe it." Oaks replied, "They said that you had been arrested, stripped of office but..."

"Ah not a rescue then." Josiah gave a sigh, "Allow me to introduce my companion Lina Kelgarian, a Skyrider of some repute."

"Go fuck yourself Hazzrd," was her response to that introduction and then to Oaks, "Are you alone? Is there a way out? How did you get in?" She looked like she wanted to grab the detective by the collar and wring the answers from him but was retrained by the proximity of the Elesians.

"I am here on the trail of a criminal." Oaks told the woman and Josiah barked a laugh earning him an elbow in the ribs from Lina. Oaks explained his plight in the fewest words possible leaving the other two stunned in silence for a time.

"Gods you are a stubborn son of a bitch." the one time First Citizen managed once he had caught his breath.

"Have you seen him?" he asked and both Lina and Josiah exchanged a glance before shaking their heads.

"I need to keep looking, I will come back for you once I..." a sharp nudge in the small of his back drew his sentence to a close and he noted that the other two had both raised their hands and wore faces of studied compliance. Slowly he turned and barely caught a glimpse of Gabriel being held at gunpoint by several Elesian guards before a sharp blow to his head sent him reeling into oblivion.

***

Oaks awoke to a cold bucket of water being doused over his head. He gasped and struggled against ropes that held him tied fast to a chair. A figure was standing over him dressed in the military uniform of the Elesians. He blinked away the water and worked his jaw which felt bruised and sore.

"Your companions have been telling me quite the story." said the man.

"Where am I?" Oaks managed before the Elesian brought his palm round to slap him full across the face.

"I speak you listen." the man barked. He paused waiting for Oaks to reply and the detective gave a silent nod of ascent.

"Good." the man went on, "You are here to take one Mavromichali Mortimer into custody?" Again Oaks replied with a nod.

"This scientist is known to us. Like you he was captured wandering the Delve as if it were a summers day walk in the fulcrum globes."

"Where is he?" Oaks could not help it and when the slap came he still did not regret the question.

"We employed him to deal with a small problem we have in the secure wing. Another prisoner, an aberration of nature. He was meant to put the bitch down and instead he has joined her and betrayed our trust..."

The man walked to a small chest of drawers and withdrew a box. He took out a small white stone and held it in the palm of his hand. He closed his eyes and waited for a moment before opening his hand once more. The stone was a deep shade of red. He gave a brief nod and looked to a point behhind Oaks head.

"Release him."

Oaks felt hands working at his bindings and a few seconds later his wrists were free and he sat shaking the life back into them. He looked up at the Elesian wondering what was next and glanced back as a Delve prison wader who stood close by holding a loaded pistol.

"Hold this." The Elesian said handing Oaks the stone. Oaks took it gingerly and closed his palm around it just has the man had done.

"Good. Now tell me what you will do if I let you go?"

Oaks glanced down at his palm and took a deep breath, some sort of lie detector he presumed. He heard the scientists back at the Gallows raving about the possibilities of a reliable device that could divine the truth from a man by reading his heart rate and patterns of movement.

"I will pursue my quarry and bring him to justice."

"And then?"

"I will report to the Peoples Palace for reassignment."

"Open you palm Mr Oaks." he obeyed and stared down at the stone which was now a deep shade of blue.

"A man without guile it seems, very well. You may make your arrest on the condition that the female he now resides with is disposed of in the process. She is a dangerous woman and threat to the security of this facility. Frankly the only reason I am considering this is the fact that I have already lost close to twenty men trying to resolve the situation myself. The chances are you will meet a similar fate."

"Gabriel?"

"He will accompany you as well the two workers you were found speaking to. You are all expendable and I will not be risking any more of my men or resources on this matter. We will also return your weapons, you will need them."

"Thank you." Oaks replied as he considered what could be so dangerous about the woman. Regardless, he had no interest in her, he only wanted Mortimer."

"Do not thank me." the Elesian replied, "I most likely send you to your death."

***

" I am telling you we can not stay here." Mortimer urged as Abigail lounged on he cot staring wistfully into the shadows above.

"Oh Mavromichali my dear friend relax."

The cell was spacious enough and well stocked thanks to Abigails increasing mastery over her powers of persuasion. Suddenly she sat bolt upright and cocked her head to one side as if listening to something. Her eyes met Mortimers and she smiled.

"Well it seems you are right once again. Someone coming and we best not be here when they arrive. Mavromichali what have you done to make this man hate you so?"

"Who is it?" Mortimer asked and Abigail closed her eyes before speaking.

"Detective Oaks." she said after a moment.

"That blasted man." Mortimer cursed as he started to gather his equipment and move towards the door. "Let's go!"

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