Ketan walked into the store. Jessie recognized him from his failed advances on her roommate from when she and Kyle had first met. She also resented him for that. She knew Servant had been chasing her, and she even sort of knew why. Not why he’d chase her and then jump up and down on a dumpster, but at least why he picked her. Still, Ketan shouldn’t have given Suma so many drinks.
Since Ketan was Kyle’s friend she figured the visit was a social one. Still, she treated him like a customer just in case she was wrong.
“Is Kyle here,” he asked, his accent slightly more obvious than last time. He looked a little nervous.
“Do you have an appointment?” She knew he didn’t. With the Ralph Smith job, and the mall, they’d gotten enough publicity to actually make a few appointments. Jessie had memorized all of them.
“In that case, let me check if he can see you. Name?”
Jessie poked her computer to wake it up and then IMed Kyle: Your friend Ketan is here. Send him back?
Kyle had been marked as online, but he didn’t answer immediately. Jessie let Ketan wait. Really, what had he been thinking giving that much alcohol to a tiny Indian woman? Who knew what she was going to end up running from? Unfortunately, Ketan didn’t seem much discomforted. He paced around the room checking out the illusory fixtures. Jessie wasn’t certain, but she thought he’d been fooled into believing they were real.
Her computer dinged. She looked down: sure
Jessie spoke in the direction of Ketan. “He can see you now. It’s down that way. Last door in the hallway on the right.” She pointed.
Ketan followed Jessie’s directions to Kyle’s office as he approached it, the door was opened from within.
Kyle poked his head out then did a comically visible double take. “Ketan! Why are you here?”
“Hello to you too.”
Kyle waved him into the office and they sat. “I’d get you a drink, but I don’t have anything.”
“Dude, it’s the middle of the day.” He waited a long beat. “I know you always packed that stuff in your lunch. Has business ownership really changed you that much?”
“You know it. So what are you doing here? Don’t tell me you need an illusion?”
“Oh, you do those here? I figured it was all a lie to hide your extensive drug empire.” Then he let a friendly smile show, “Actually, this all looks expensive. I take it business is going well?”
Kyle grinned, “I’ll let you in on a secret, I’ve got this place cloaked in illusion because it’s so cheap looking otherwise.”
“Figures. There was nothing you could do about your face?”
“Oh cute, really,” but he smiled.
Ketan’s smile fell, and his expression sobered. “You know, no one enjoys insulting you more than me, but I came here to warn you. You’re under magical IP investigation.”
“The freaky IP bounty hunters who took down Phil? They’ve been hanging around work talking to everyone you knew. They’re pumping us for information about how you might have misused Quantum Alignment to build your illusion.”
“Really? I mean, I guess that was the pretext they used to fire me, but I assumed that was just some sort of hardball to get me to sell the illusion. Do they really think I used Quantum Alignment for the illusion? They aren’t remotely related!”
“Well, they’ve been asking everyone you ever worked with all kinds of questions. I told them you hadn’t done anything wrong. You haven’t, right?” Ketan fixed him with a serious look.
“Well, OK, just checking. Don’t get all bent out of shape. It’s just if you had I’d tell you to quit and run now.
“Run and not turn myself in?”
Silently Ketan reached into his pocket, pulled out a folded piece of paper, and slid it across the desk. Kyle unfolded it. The stiff paper was a printout of a news article. The headline read “Local Man Died in Custody.” The story was about Phil who had apparently been stabbed during a fight with another prisoner.
Kyle scanned it quickly and then folded it up again. His movements were clumsy, “That said it was a gang thing.” He made it a statement rather than a question, but his voice was filled with doubt.
“Oh, sure, Phil was one hardcore Crip. We always knew he’d go down like that!” Ketan threw his hands in the air, “They got him! The great and powerful do not like it when you take what they consider theirs.”
“I’ve never done anything with Quantum Alignment, and I’m not giving up my spell. What do you recommend in that case?” There was a little anger in Kyle’s voice.
Ketan shook his head and shrugged, “You’re in past my head, friend. I don’t know if you’re in over yours, but you’re in way over mine. Listen, I came here to warn you who was on your trail and to show you this,” he tapped the folded paper still sitting on the desk. “I can’t stay though; I’m on my lunch break. Good luck, OK?”
Ketan rose and began walking toward the door without any further goodbye. Kyle didn’t move to stop him. Ketan paused at the door, “If you haven’t registered it yet, you might consider doing that. That would be some protection at least.”
As Ketan closed the door, Kyle picked up the printout to read it again.