I look in a mirror and see myself as not quite me. Alice F. — Alice Farrowheart. Why the formalities? And Percy is right. We should talk to her together, public servant and private dick as one. We are a swell team, she realizes, standing back a bit and trying to adjust her hair the same way as in the mirror. It doesn’t quite work.
“You’ll have to forgive my lack of furniture and niceties here in my apartment, fellow women! I spend a lot of time in the South — Black Drake or Black Dragon to most. The Red Umbrella (gallery) is there, of course. And some other galleries and nice shops — the place is still growing! Very exciting times here in the town. I’m looking for a reasonable apartment down there. That’s a joke — they’re *all* pretty reasonable here in this NWES city. New WES City it was originally called, you know. Named for a large burg in the past down the coast a bit. That’s where Ingor…”
“Ms. Farrowheart,” pleaded private dick Percy Pierce, tired of the babbling. Enthusiastic to talk — yes, that’s a plus. But it must be guided stream-of-consciousness. “We need to get down to the bottom of it. We’ve mentioned that woman upstairs, the one who sits in the hammock all the time.”
“Oh, she doesn’t sit there *all* the time. She has a double!”
Jodie Tanner and Percy Pierce exchange glances. “W-what do you mean: a double?” offers Tanner, daring to jump in. She quickly amends the conversation. “Mind you this is *off* the record, Alice F.. Notice I called you Alice F. there again? That’s because we’re off duty. *I’m* off duty.” She shakes her head toward Percy, acknowledging the gaff. They’re becoming one and the same more each passing day. Sharing bodies, sharing fluids. Two hearts as one.
Alice F. winds up again. “Oh she has a *belt*. I looked it up; it’s called a Great Belt. That’s the actual name of the thing. Well, she uses that belt to teleport in and around all over the place, but the belt *projects* a double still sitting up there in that hammock. With hardly a stitch of clothes on,” Alice F. complains again, rather old fashioned in those ways.
“So…,” attempts Jodie Tanner. “Kind of like, um, Wonderwoman?”
“Ahem,” piped up Percy Pierce in clearance, more aligned with the cartoon world of superheroes. “I think you may be thinking more of Batman. Or maybe Batgirl, hmm.” She turned to Alice F. “Is that what you mean, though? Some kind of talisman with, er, superpowers?”
“*No*. It’s mainly used as a toy.”
“Toy?” Jodie and Percy both exclaim.
“I’ve seen her down in Black Drake or Blake Dragon with the thing on. She *doesn’t* just sit up there in that hammock in Marwood. This is more a North-South connection. But Black is where (the belt is most powerful); more closely aligned with what it *really* is.”
“Martial arts?” attempts Jodie again. Wrongly.