“You should dress up as them next time,” Sakura said, pointing.
“You mean when we go to another con?” Hilde queried. “I’d be down with that. I could make a cute Nanoha.”
“And I could make my eyes red like that,” Bianca said. “You know, I always thought these cartoons were for kids. Live and learn.”
“Oh, Honey, I have so many more adult anime to show you,” Hilde said.
“Maybe another time,” Bianca said. “I think I’ve had enough for today. I’m going to the roof for some air. If you get a job just give me a ring.”
“Already pressuring me now that same sex marriage is legal, huh?” Hilde asked.
“Witches don’t bother with rings,” Bianca called back. “We exchange talismans. Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll show you how it works.”
Sakura waited for her to leave the office. “You should totally get her a talisman!”
“Girl, it is way too early in our relationship to be thinking of marriage,” Hilde said. “Give it a little more time.”
“But if you’re joking about it doesn’t it mean it’s already on your mind?” Sakura asked.
“Of course no…” Hilde began. She paused. “Well, maybe to a very small degree.”
Sakura looked like she was going to start bragging, but swiftly hid when there was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” Hilde said, turning off her show.
A tall, balding man with a thin beard entered. “Uh, hi,” he said. “I’m Brandon Walters. I manage the overnight team at the local Galeria Kaufhof.”
“And how can I help you, Mister Walters?” Hilde asked.
“Well,” Brandon looked around. “You’ll keep this confidential, right?”
“It’ll stay between us and my partners,” Hilde promised.
“Two days ago one of my workers, Zachary Shietzen, went missing while on the clock,” Brandon explained. “At first I thought he may have taken off early and forgotten to clock out, but no one’s seen him since.”
“Does he often go home early or forget to clock out?” Hilde asked.
“More often than he should,” Brandon said. “But he gets by with it because our store manager thinks he may have a severe mental disorder.”
“Has the store been searched?” Hilde inquired.
Brandon nodded. “No sign of him.”
“Suspects?” Hilde wondered.
“Well…” Brandon said. He leaned in close. “There’s a rumour that one of my best workers, Mikael Gallas, might have something to do with it. I don’t want to believe it, personally, but they didn’t get along.”
“And why didn’t they get along?” Hilde wondered.
“Well, ” Brandon said “Mikael thought Zachary was an incompetent waste of space and should be fired. He… he didn’t like having to spend a lot of extra effort picking up the slack.”
“And the other workers think he may have done something about it,” Hilde said. “I get it.”
“I don’t want him accused or harassed without proof,” Brandon said. “I’m hoping if you investigate, that you’ll be able to find the facts and put an end to any unfounded gossip.”
Hilde nodded. “All right. My partner and I will come in tonight after you close. Show us where this Zachary was working and we’ll look the area over.”
“Thank you,” Brandon said. “I’ll let you in. Just be discrete, please.”
“Don’t worry,” Hilde said. “We promise.”
“There are beings that can vanish people,” Bianca said. “Mostly ones that just straight up consume them entirely. You think this bloke’s disappearance was magical in nature?”
“All the other cases I’ve had recently have been,” Hilde said. “It would follow the pattern.”
“Maybe it was Fae!” Sakura said.
“Your cousins?” Bianca said. “Don’t they only snatch children?”
“But the guy who hired us said he had the mind of a child,” Sakura said. “So… maybe?”
“Technically, he didn’t say that,” Hilde said. “I did get the sense that he was thinking it, though.”
She parked her Beetle and quickly left the vehicle along with Bianca. Sakura flew behind them, invisible to mortal eye.
“Hilde, make sure you have your pendant secured,” Bianca cautioned. “Beings that can just disappear a human are no joke.”
“I’ll be fine,” Hilde said, taking Bianca’s hand. “I’ve got you with me.”