Thirty minutes later they parked in the garage underneath one of the downtown skyscrapers. Getting out of the car the three of them made their way up to the fortieth floor. Walking through a set of glass doors they found themselves standing in front of a secretary.
The secretary finished sending a text to someone and then looked up at them. “Welcome to the law firm of Smith, Johnson, and Miller. Do you have an appointment?” She asked in a disinterested voice.
“I don’t have an appointment. This law firm was listed as the contact for the orphanage that was run by the non-profit Guardian. I’d like to talk to someone that can get me in contact with someone at Guardian.” Eric said.
“All of our non-profit clients are handled by Mr. Jones. Would you like to make an appointment with him?” The secretary said.
“What is the earliest time I’d be able to talk to him?” Eric asked.
The secretary shrugged and then turned to her computer. Eric felt like it took an eternity for her to find the information. It didn’t help that she hadn’t even had her computer turned on.
“It looks like he won’t be available until early next month. I can schedule you for Monday three weeks from today at two. Does that work for you?” The secretary asked.
For half a moment Eric considered whether using his killing intent would get him faster results. Eventually he decided it would be a bad idea. He didn’t even know if Mr. Jones was in the building. That thought at least gave him an idea.
“Is Mr. Jones here? It really will only take a moment, I just have a quick message to give him.” Eric said.
The secretary shook her head. “He’s on vacation for the rest of the week. Although if you want I can send him an email. He still checks it a couple times a day.” She answered.
Eric frowned. He had been hoping he could just barge past the secretary. It would be better than waiting for three weeks. Leaving a message would have to do for now. If that didn’t work he could try again next week.
“Just tell him to let his client know that I can explain why the meditation at the orphanage didn’t work.” Eric said.
“Okay. Who should I say it’s from?” The secretary asked.
Eric thought about it for a moment and decided to use his name on this planet. “Tell him that it’s from John Ralston.” He said.
“If he wants to contact you, what number should he call?” The secretary asked.
Eric winced and remembered that he didn’t have a phone. Luckily Nicole chimed in and gave the secretary her phone number. Eric added getting a phone to his list of things to do. They seemed like useful devices. Although he had no idea how they worked without using cultivation energy. They weren’t much bigger than a communication talisman and were capable of doing far more than just calling other people. Nicole had tried explaining GPS to him on the ride to the law firm. Unfortunately she hadn’t really understood how it worked. Still Eric could see the value in having something that could give you directions to anywhere you wanted to go.
“Anything else?” The secretary asked.
“No, that will be all.” Eric replied.
“Have a good day then.” The secretary said and then picked up her phone before Eric had even turned around. For a moment Eric wondered what was so interesting about phones that everyone was always looking at them. Then he decided that he had better things to do.
“Now what?” Valerie asked as they got back into the car. This time she was driving.
“The two of you need to cultivate more. We also need to find a good location to set up the energy containment array. There are also a bunch of materials that we will need to gather for the array.” Eric said.
“What materials do we need?” Nicole asked.
“Primarily metal that is able to efficiently conduct energy and is resistant to corrosion.” Eric said.
Valerie and Nicole both looked confused. “Gold or silver would be best. I’d prefer gold since it’s so resistant to corrosion. But silver is a good alternative due to its higher conductivity.”
“Gold is really expensive. So it will have to be silver. Unless something like copper would work?” Valerie said.
“Copper would work temporarily. It’s both less conductive than silver and less resistant to corrosion. I’d prefer to use silver though. If we use copper it will probably only last a few years before we have to replace the array.” Eric said.
“How much do you need? Nicole asked.
Eric thought about it for a moment. “The initial formation will take a couple hundred pounds. The more formations we add the better the effects will be though. Each of them will use more silver than the previous one. A thousand pounds should be a good start.”
Valerie and Nicole both laughed. “A thousand pounds of silver is going to cost a few hundred thousand dollars. Neither of us have that kind of money.”
Eric felt a bit shocked. His knowledge of Earth was terrible. His memories as John did tell him that he could eat a pretty decent meal for under ten dollars. Usually just a few dollars. He hadn’t thought that silver would be that expensive. Part of him wondered just how much gold was worth if Valerie and Nicole had immediately rejected using it.
“Where I’m from, silver and gold aren’t used for much besides for enchanting. Why would it be so expensive?” Eric couldn’t help but ask.
Valerie shrugged and Nicole pulled out her phone. “I’ve never given it much thought. It’s used in jewelry but there must be other uses.” A minute later she had her answer. “Silver is used in a lot of different technologies. Everything from cars to cell phones uses a little bit.”
Eric thought about it and nodded. The same properties that it allowed it to conduct cultivation energy would also be beneficial to conducting electricity. It’s ability to prevent corrosion was probably also highly valued.
“What about copper? After we make the array we can figure out how to make some money and replace it with a silver version later.” Eric asked.
“Copper is a lot cheaper. A few dollars a pound. Valerie and I have some savings. Plus after we are done we can resell it as scrap and get some money back.” Nicole answered.
“Well that covers the main material. We will also need some crystals that can be used as focal points for the energy.” Eric said.
“Are you going to tell us you need a bunch of diamonds also?” Valerie said. She looked like she was torn between being genuinely concerned and laughing.
“Quartz would be best. You aren’t going to tell me that is super expensive also, right?” Eric asked.
Valerie and Nicole laughed. Which made Eric a bit worried. He had been thinking about how to make money and came up with quite a few ways. Unfortunately most of them depended on having the energy containment array up and running.
Nicole finally calmed down enough to answer his question. “Quartz is a fairly common crystal and isn’t too expensive. As long as you don’t need a ton of it we should be fine.”
Eric shook his head. “Just a handful of crystals about the size of a finger for each of the arrays. Purity is important though.”
Nicole looked up prices on her phone. “Finding pure crystals may be difficult. The prices aren’t bad though. I doubt it will be as expensive as all that copper. Any other materials we need?” She asked.
“The only other material will be cultivation energy provided by the two of you. The only other thing will be a source of electricity. I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to keep the array running using electricity instead of cultivation energy. We also need to find a location to set up the array.” Eric said.
“Yeah it sounds like it’s going to be too large to fit in our condo. Just how big will this array be?” Valerie asked. Before Eric could answer there was the sound of a siren and red and blue lights started flashing behind the car.
‘That’s not good. Were you speeding?” Nicole asked Valerie.
“No. I don’t know why they are pulling us over. What should we do? Do you think they know that John is with us?” Valerie said in a bit of a panic.
“Just pull over. We don’t know why they are pulling us over. Maybe it’s just a burnt out brake light or something. If you keep on driving they will get suspicious.” Nicole said calmly.
Valerie pulled the car over. The police car pulled over behind her. “Just keep your hands visible and don’t be nervous.” Nicole reminded everyone before the officer reached the window.
A few seconds later a male officer stepped out of the car. As he walked up to the driver's side Valerie rolled down her window. “License and registration.” The officer said as he looked into the car.
Valerie dug through her purse and pulled out her license. Her registration was in the glove compartment. “Why did you pull me over?” She asked as she handed them to the officer.
“Your car matches the description of a car seen leaving the scene of a crime. I’m going to need to see ID for your passengers also.” The officer said.
Nicole pulled out her ID and her badge and passed them to the officer. “I can assure you that none of us have engaged in any crimes today.” She said.
The officer's expression changed a bit as he looked at her badge. “I still have to follow protocol. I’m sure you understand. Let me just run your IDs. If nothing pops up you will be free to go. I still need your ID.” He said with the last directed at Eric.
Eric shrugged. “Sorry I don’t have any ID on me.”
The officer frowned. “I can vouch for him, officer. He’s been with me all day.” Nicole chimed in.
After a moment the officer nodded and then went back to his car. Ten excruciating minutes later he finally got back out and walked back to the driver's side window. “Everything looks good. Have a nice rest of your day.” He said passing all the documents back to Valerie.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and Valerie started the car and pulled back onto the road. “I thought we were going to be arrested or something.” She said.
“Someone probably reported that our car was at the bar. It looks like they didn’t get the license plate though. With me being a police officer, neither of us having a record, and this being a common car it was unlikely they would spend much time questioning us.” Nicole explained.
“Good thing we took your car and not mine.” Valerie said with a laugh. Eric hadn’t seen Valerie’s car but he was guessing it was anything but common.
“Just because he let us go doesn’t mean they won’t piece things together eventually. If he follows protocol he is going to file a traffic stop report. That will include our descriptions and the license plate number. If the police on the scene see it they will probably want to ask us some questions.” Nicole said, looking a bit worried.
“Maybe I should go ahead and turn myself in.” Eric said.
Nicole shook her head. “We should wait until the news about the bar gets out. Being in police custody could be dangerous while the captain and the other officers are still working.”
“How long will that take?” Eric asked.
“Once the news report is out the investigation will move quickly. They won’t want to risk anyone fleeing. Internal affairs will get involved and everyone involved will probably be suspended within a day or two. Since it involves police officers they probably won’t arrest anyone immediately. They will wait until they gather enough evidence.” Nicole said.
“Meanwhile we should probably lay low. The police can’t arrest us if they can’t find us.” Valerie said.
Nicole shrugged. “I’m not that worried about getting arrested. Right now we are just persons of interest and likely witnesses instead of criminals. What I am worried about is some of the officers involved deciding they need to try to silence us.”
“What about the warrant out for my arrest?” Eric asked.
“The more I think about it the more convinced I am that Detective Hill lied about getting that warrant. I haven’t seen any paperwork about it. You would have been a witness to him taking us. An arrest warrant would have left a paper trail for other people to follow. I think he planned to kill you after you got released from the hospital. That would make it almost impossible to link him back to us disappearing. Except for him and the other dirty officers, nobody knew that we were at the hospital. The only risk would be if someone linked him with you and questioned the nurses and doctors at the hospital.” Nicole said.
Eric thought about it and couldn’t help but agree. The arrest warrant had been the excuse Detective Hill was going to use to trick Nicole and Valerie into going with him and the other officers. After the detective killed Eric nobody would be the wiser.
“Still it would be better for us to get out of the city. Let’s stop by the condo and pack. We can stop by an ATM and get some cash to rent a room somewhere.” Nicole said.
“What about the cabin we rented last summer? I still have the phone number of the guy we rented it from.” Valerie said.
“Sounds like a plan. We have to leave our cell phones at home though. And we should call them from a pay phone after we leave the condo.” Nicole said.
“Where do you even find pay phones anymore? I thought all of them were gone.” Valerie said.
Nicole nodded. “Not many are left, but I can think of a couple. The mall has a few and there are a couple at some of the gas stations that are still working.”
Eric just shrugged and decided that he was along for the ride at the moment. Hopefully the cabin they were talking about would be a good place for Nicole and Valerie to cultivate. When they pulled up to the condo Eric stayed in the car. It wasn’t like he had anything to pack. He would just be in the way. He could spend the time healing the rest of his injuries instead.
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Bio: I'm almost certainly addicted to reading. For decades I've read at least a dozen books a month. I'd say getting close to ten thousand over the course of my life. For the past few years I've been writing as a hobby. I created an account on royal road in order to get feedback on the projects I've started.