Tobias Locke had left with his naga guard, Alysa. There was no reason to assume trouble, but because of Tobias’ tendency to cause trouble, I chose to keep an eye on him. I had been built with the ability and permissions needed to remotely access cameras in the city center. These were extra tools to protect Mr. Locke and his properties from his enemies, and to be able to spot trouble earlier, so following Tobias’ was simple.
In a routine check, I followed the camera network down the highway, swiftly establishing a lock on Tobias’ car. I tracked it to the city, and that was when I noticed an anomaly.
When Tobias stepped out of the car, he was no longer accompanied by the naga, Alysa. She must have exited the car before I started following them.
He did not stay in approved general shopping areas. Tobias swiftly moved away. He was on his way outside of the good part of the city, heading directly towards the slums. I could list over twenty high-profile criminals located in the slums who would want to hurt Mr. Locke, and by extension, Tobias Locke.
I took the fastest of Mr. Locke’s cars, overriding the protocol to ask for permission. Stopping Tobias had priority as per Mr. Locke’s own orders. Twenty minutes later, I parked just outside the slums. The expensive vehicle would be too noticeable, so I ran the last mile.
Tobias’ car was parked outside the wall that was protecting the residents on this side from the noisy trains. I stopped to scan the area, but couldn’t find any recent signs of struggle, so I continued after Tobias’ heat signature.
People in the streets stared and craned their necks as I passed. I noticed some men reaching for guns and other weapons, but none attempted to shoot me. I kept going, dashing straight towards the alleyway where the cameras last spotted Tobias, and I scanned his life sign. He was still unharmed.
I entered the unsanitary and dark alley, spotting Tobias at the end of it, talking to a troll male. A quick scan told me this was not someone Tobias should be interacting with: a high-profile drug dealer with connections to the rebel army.
“You are coming home with me!” I said loudly.
Tobias sprung around, his eyes wide in shock at first, but when he spotted me, his expression turned into a mix of anger and annoyance.
“What are you doing in here?!” Tobias hissed.
I chose to ignore him and focused on the troll male. He had jumped away from Tobias as soon as I had addressed him, and his rising heart rate and body temperature indicated that he was in high alert as he stared at me with wide eyes. He was tall and skinnier than the average troll male, but according to my calculations, the probability he would overpower Tobias in his human form if they were to fight was high.
“Hello?! Why are you here?!” Tobias asked again, failing to notice what his acquaintance was doing. The tall, rugged man was turning anxious as I stood there, and reached for his gun.
“I told you to come alone!” the man yelled, grabbing Tobias and pointing the gun at his head. “Who the fuck are you?!” he yelled at me, Tobias freezing on the spot, his expression turning back to a shocked one.
“My name is Zed,” I introduced myself, preparing a tranquilizer shot in my left hand, a deadly shot in my right. Which one the man would get, would be determined by his next reaction. “Your activities or criminal record are of no concern to me. Let him go.”
“What the fuck are you doing?! Let go of me!” Tobias screeched at the troll loudly, trying to break free from his grip. “I will fucking neuter you!”
The man stepped back, pulling Tobias with him. He was erratic and tried to find a way to escape. “You better turn around and walk away, or I blow his head off!” he shouted, shaking the loaded gun as a warning. “There’s no cops around here to save your ass, rich man!”
It wasn’t an empty threat. That gun was loaded, and the safety was off. One pull of the trigger and Tobias would have a likely fatal wound in his head.
He had made his decision, and I had made mine.
I held up my hands. “Alright. I will leave.”
I turned my back on the two. In the best-case scenario, the man would try to shoot me instead. In the second best, he would be distracted for a brief moment while I raised my right hand to deliver a deadly shot.
“That’s right! Walk away!”
“Let go of me, asshole!”
“Shut the fuck up, bitch! I told you to come alone! I’ll show you what happens when you break my rules!”
He aimed at me, as I purposely ignored the one rule to never turn your back on someone who has a gun. I took my shot first. It hit the man’s chest as he’d been foolish enough to step away from Tobias.
The target went down.
“He will bleed out in approximately three minutes,” I told Tobias, marching into the alleyway, and kicking the gun away from the man’s hand. “Would you like me to stabilize him?”
Tobias stared at the man at his feet. The troll looked up at him with pleading eyes, but there was no expression on Tobias’s face.
“You owe me,” he then said to the man with a low voice, threat oozing in every syllable, and then he turned to look at me. “Let him live.”
“As you wish, Tobias,” I replied, walking over to the man to rip his shirt open, remove the bullet, and close the wound with an organic, adhesive spray that would dissolve itself in time.
“I have not hit any of your vital organs,” I informed the man. “You will feel a little weak the coming days from the blood loss, but you will heal. I will, however, leave your gun at the opening of the alleyway so you can’t gun us down as we leave.”
“Filthy naga!” the man gasped, his demeanor turning hostile again. “Never trust one!”
Tobias turned to face the man. “Careful now,” he spoke with a pleasant voice, “It’s not my fault you chose the wrong opponent.”
“Let’s go home, Tobias,” I repeated. “There are many enemies of your father’s in this part of town.”
“You shouldn’t have followed me. I can take care of myself,” he grunted at me as we walked.
“Your naga form provides a formidable fighting power,” I agreed. “However, I will not stop following you.”
“You caused this! Everything was fine before you showed up! I’ve been buying… doing business with him plenty of times before, and there’s never been any problems!”
“You are right. My presence in the alleyway ended up causing violence,” I agreed. “However, I must continue to do my job.”
He stared at me with wide eyes, looking somehow angrier than before when he hissed through his gritted teeth, “I will strangle you.”
“Tobias, please calm down,” I said, nodding at our environment. “We should not draw attention to ourselves here.”
“Fine, but you need to stop ruining everything fun for me!” he snorted angrily.
“I will not ruin anything for you, as long as you stay at the mansion and don’t let guests without a background check inside,” I replied, gesturing for him to follow me. “Because I will never let anything bad happen to you.”
Tobias slowed down his steps as he turned to give me a curious look, and after a short moment of hesitation, he asked quietly, “You won’t?”
“I won’t,” I confirmed. “As long as my orders tell me not to.”
“Right, your orders,” he snorted with a roll of his eyes, and started marching faster to the car.
“I will also check on why Alysa did not follow hers,” I said, keeping up with Tobias’ pace. “And, I will have to report her reasons to Mr. Locke. If my investigation concludes it was bribery, she will be added to the list of guards not permitted to take you to the city.”
“Whatever,” Tobias muttered. “Didn’t even like her, anyway.”
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