I apologized to Cassandra for the shitty first date, and she was very kind and understanding about it. At least, I assume she understood, considering she gave me a very passionate kiss before she walked into her house. This whole being respectable thing was rather annoying; I hope the effort was appreciated.
I stopped by Wares Security first and changed clothes, then drove to the main building of the forge. Bill walked around the corner as I arrived. He waved and waited for me to join him. “Rather late for you to be here, isn’t it?” he asked.
“I’m looking for Charlie. Have you seen him?”
“Not since he left around six. Said he had a hot date with a gorgeous woman. Why?”
That confirmed what I had seen at the restaurant. “Did he say who the woman was?”
Bill thought for a moment. “No, but I know that he’s been seeing someone who works in the OA building. A real looker. I’d have a go at her myself, but I have a strict rule about horning in on another man’s girl.”
I thought that was rather honorable, considering my track record. “Any problems here tonight?”
“No, it’s been quiet. Why all the questions?”
I debated about how much to tell him. “There’s been an…incident at the OA. I thought I had seen Charlie with Ophelia from HR at the restaurant where I was having dinner, but I wasn’t totally for sure.”
“But why talk to Charlie about the OA? I’ve never seen nor heard of him going there.”
“Because his date was murdered in Zeus’ office.”
He stared at me. “You don’t think Charlie did it, do you?”
“Of course not. But I would like to ask him about his dinner with Ophelia, and find out when they parted company.”
Bill rubbed his chin. “Sometimes, I’ll come across him working late in one of the forges after I thought he had already gone home for the day. I haven’t finished making the rounds yet. Come with me; maybe we’ll get lucky and find him working again.”
I agreed, and we started walking. Bill told me about the various projects that were going on. He said that there hadn’t been any more sabotage attempts on the rollers, but a few things had turned up missing. He said they were nothing major; he had a feeling it was someone just taking home something for personal use. I wasn’t thrilled to hear that, and made a mental note to nip that in the bud before it got out of hand.
Everything was running normally in the forge houses we checked; the night shift was a group of hard workers I had spent some time with. If I ever had to go into battle, I wanted this bunch with me. They were strong, had a great eye for detail, and had no problem beating the crap out of someone who got out of line. I had seen that happen a time or two myself.
Bill and I arrived at Forge Twenty. It wasn’t scheduled to be operating, but the door was slightly ajar and we could hear noise coming from inside. Bill started to go in, but I stopped him. I pulled out my Sig Sauer .320 that I had grabbed when I had stopped to change clothes earlier, and motioned for him to stay put.
I slipped inside and took a quick look around. One of the presses was on, but the roller didn’t seem to be moving. Wisely, I swept the outer area to make sure no one was waiting to jump me, but I found no one. I moved toward the press slowly, looking around just to be on the safe side. When I came around the corner, I stopped short at what I saw, then reached over and turned the switch off.
I had found Charlie. But he wasn’t going to be able to tell me anything about Ophelia.
He was quite dead, flattened like a bug in a rug.
Damn it all to Tartarus.