Investigation into lucky rabbit feet deaths is done—the deaths should be over now. Annie pays Harg with item. Quarrel and his group are now wary of our troubleshooting band. Harg and Co. are too scary now. Quarrel knows of another group who’s a little more militant and might accept our heroes’ services. They’ll appreciate troubleshooters with a dangerous reputation. The Vegas Resistance. Quarrel sets up a meeting with one of their agents at Rainbow Park. The Crown Prince of Las Vegas, Mortimer. Some call him crazy, most call him homeless, but he calls himself the Crown Prince, and thus he is known.
Coincidentally, two other folks are looking for Mortimer at the same time as Reggie, Harg, and Garth. Mortimer is well known around Vegas and the strip. He’s not a sad sort of homeless person, more entertaining and interesting than that. They recognize him fairly easily. Mortimer is keeping an eye out for a guy named Christopher. Mortimer explains that Vegas, being Vegas, happens to atttract a significant amount of supernatural trouble. The sheer amount of luck spells that have been cast in the city has caused some sort of effect. Not that the city necessarily has GOOD luck, so to speak. Christopher has come specifically to join this organization. Harg, Garth and Reggie need some sort of protection and somewhere to belong while they figure out what to do about the magical side of the world. A fifth person, Shep, is just looking for trouble, basically. He’s obsessed with his weapons and poisons and wants a “healthy” outlet. So there’s that.
Mortimer tells them that there’s been an increase in pickpocketing along the Strip. The police are very good at preventing this crime, yet there has still been a pattern for several months of increasing crime. There has also been an increase in unattended children around the Strip who do not seem frightened or lost. The police hasn’t really made a connection between this two patterns. Zero witnesses of pickpocketing.
Shep is pale with long blond hair, long jacket, kind of emo, very short, less than three feet, though most people don’t notice just how short he is. Christopher wears a very nice suit, obviously tailored. Very handsome, black hair, light skin, clean shaven, has a stylized eye of Horus on his lapel. Has soft hands and a nice vehicle. Very smooth character. Shep short, Christopher fancy. Garth suggests going to the Strip and hanging out looking for unattended kids and waiting to get pickpocketed.
Reggie asks Christopher about his eye of Horus. He says its a symbol used in his family’s organization. “Ah, charitable work?” Garth asks. “Of a sort.” Reggie asks Shep about his heritage, but he’s cagey and unfriendly. Reggie is not particularly assured about these new members of their group. Garth suggests that Christopher act as the pickpocket bait, since he’s obviously the wealthiest of the group, while Harg tails him and the other three look around for the strange kids. Reggie agrees, figuring that she’ll be able to figure out if there’s anything unusual about these kids. She also has realized that Shep is a halfling.
In a Starbucks in the lobby of one of the hotels along the strip, Shep notices another halfling. The other halfling is sitting drinking coffee and working with a laptop. An antenna sticks out of his pocket. Reggie sees a kid run by following after a group of tourists, and he has a walkie talkie. He looks like just a kid, so she doesn’t think anything of it. Garth is a little oblivious. He’s watchign for dragons, pixies, and people wearing witches’ hats. Shep points out the halfling, and Reggie mentions the kid, and the antenna that looked the same. Shep wants to steal the walkie talkie, but says he’s no good at talking for distraction. Reggie and Garth volunteer to make a scene. They’re excellent at making people uncomfortable and being memorable—that guy will only remember them, not Shep.
Reggie and Garth go into the coffee shop. Garth gets a drink and says “Thanks a latte” when the barista brings it. Reggie gets nothing, but argues with Garth about capitalism and “Do you even know where those coffee beans come from? These are not free range coffee beans!” Garth: “What about that poor barista just trying to make a living! Don’t you have any compassion for people, for your sista barista?” “I have compassion for humans, but also for coffee beans. And chickens.” “Chickens! What does chickens have to do with it?” “Kept in farms, not free range, not compassionate and right…” “People gotta eat!” Reggie sputters, then, “Chocolate, do you even KNOW where chocolate comes from?” “Brown cows—” “CHILD LABOR.”
They continue in this vein, and Shep sneaks in, orders a coffee but doesn’t intend to pick it up. When he walks by the halfling, Shep sees that he’s playing Farmville, steals the walkie talkie, and then later sees a google doc “June” (current) with a list. Top is Olivia, 3 450, 2W CA I, Keep I CA 150, Five casinos (any random five). Meanwhile, Garth and Reggie’s argument has gotten more ridiculous, because there was a mention of cows and now Reggie is telling him what they do to calves to make veal, amputees, without hooves living in their own feces. Garth: “Hey, just roll that baby cow down to me and I will eat it.” The halfling finally notices Shep, and he says “Nice radishes” and heads out.
Meanwhile, Christopher is busy being bait. Harg notices a little girl with a novelty backpack and a Disney princess t-shirt, going down into a little quieter space off the sidewalk and sits down on the ground, where she pulls a walkie talkie out of her backpack. Harg sends a warning text to Christopher to get his attention, then nods toward the girl to indicate that he’s going to check it out. She stands up and bumps into him. Christopher walks over, too, not missing any wallets or anything. The girl runs down the street, and they follow her. She’s looking around, as if looking for her parents. She runs into a building a little further down, Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The guys find a cafe where they can eat and keep an eye out.
Back at the hotel, Shep has gone into the lobby and turned on the walkie talkie. The halfling leaves the coffee shop, pats down his pockets, realizing the walkie talkie is gone and goes back to look for it. He doesn’t see Shep in the lobby though. Reggie and Garth find a leaving off point in their argument (it’s an ongoing thing anyway) and head out. Garth makes a point of leaving another tip for the barista, staring at Reggie the whole time in a dorkily challenging way, but she just shrugs and rolls her eyes. Money going to individuals doesn’t bother her, just corporations. They avoid Shep, but Garth sends him his phone number on Shep’s pager. Shep goes to the hotel desk to use their phone and is rude to the clerk and kind of douche, as per usual with him. Garth tells him to meet them in an hour at a Wendy’s off the Strip. The beeper thing is annoying him. So is Shep.
Reggie and Garth continue gently bickering and follow the halfling, who is looking for someone, occasionally jumping up on benches to look around. Eventually he stops at a restaurant and pulls his laptop again, just kind of chilling, sitting in a place where he can watch the street. Reggie and Garth feel safe enough to hang out for a little bit and watch him, since there’s a number of people around, but leave soon enough not to be noticed. Afterward, they wander, watching for kids again. As they’re about to leave, Reggie stops Garth, having noticed a scruffy-ish kid. He runs by the front of the restaurant, stops and waves, then keeps going. They agree that that halfling and those kids are in cahoots.
They ask someone to take a picture of them standing in front of the restaurant in order to get a picture of the halfling. A passerby agrees and takes two pictures. One is blurry and the other cuts the halfling’s head in half, but at least they have something.
Harg and Christopher follow the girl in to the Ripley’s. There’s a dead alligator. They see a girl in a Disney princess shirt, but it’s not the right one. The girl they were following seems to have disappeared. Harg goes to the ticket seller. “Hello, sir. Would you like to see something that you won’t believe?” Harg asks the guy about the little girl, claiming that she’s his niece. The clerk says he hasn’t sold any child a ticket. “Well, thanks for your help.” “Of course, sir. Have a nice day, believe it or not!”
Harg goes out a different door, to a side street. Back a ways, he sees a block in a wall that looks loose. He’s able to pull it out and find a small space inside. He finds an iPhone, a couple of wallets, and a digital camera. He pockets the loot.
Meanwhile, Shep hears a feminine voice on the walkie talkie say, “This is Step, using Ripley’s cache, lost target, spotted by big guy in fedora and trench coat. Everybody watch out. Step out.” A little while later he hears, “This is Weaver, Fagian spotted, no walkie, get back to base.”
They meet at the Wendy’s. Harg shows up with a bag from Subway. They share information. While they share this, Harg plays Angry Birds on the iPhone he found in the cache. Then it rings, playing “Let’s Get It On” very loudly. Harg extends it to Garth, “You’re good with this stuff—silence it!” Garth wants to answer it, but at Harg’s insistence he turns it off. Christopher points out that the iPhone has GPS and someone is going to track it down. Harg reluctantly decides to drop it off in a lost and found somewhere. After he gets a high score on this level. Reggie suggests that the Fagian name might be a code, as in Fagan from Oliver Twist, and she and Garth agree that it’s a halfling-run ring of pickpocketers. Garth likes the classiness of the literary reference. They contact Mortimer through an intermediary. Ten minutes later the phone rings. Mortimer: “Had to find the last pay phone in Vegas.”
Mortimer asks if they can shut down this operation. Reggie points out that they’re not sure how big the operation is—it’s a halfling and at least three kids. Christopher doesn’t think anything about this scheme is really that important, but Mortimer points out that it’s a supernatural entity, at least one, taking advantage of mundanes through unfair means, and this is important. It’s all part of the test to see if they can join his organization.
But the thing is, it wasn’t that long ago that Harg and Garth’s faces were on the news. They want to keep this on the down low. Some time spent discussing plans. Tagging the stuff with RFID and putting it back in the cache is agreed upon, hooked up to google maps on an iPad. So they watch, and the stuff gets taken and they follow. It leads them to a somewhat lower income residential area. They arrive at a two-story addition with outside stairs. Shep approaches to scout it out. It appears that there are several people there. He makes faux military gestures to the others. Garth reminds Harg not to shoot anyone, or punch any children. Reggie says that he’s free to punch the halfling, because he’s a douche.
They kick the door in. Harg wields a gun, Garth a dagger. Fagian is sitting in an armchair. “Is that a dagger I see before me?” He says that they can take him in, but the kids needs to go back to their parents. Our heroes are suspicious, and the kids seem weirdly calm. Christopher takes over, trying to have a conversation to figure out who these kids are and where they belong. The kids refuse to reveal a physical address, and our heroes get increasingly frustrated. Reggie, through searching the room and arcane lore, figures out that the kids are actually gnomes. Harg knocks them all unconscious, because that’s how he do.
Shep calls dispatch on his new Tracfone which Garth bought for him out of frustration with the beeper thing. “Hey, this is my first call on this phone. Be honored.” They give him an address, and Garth and Christopher start hauling the seven dwarfs out to the car. Harg and Reggie sort through their stuff. Harg gets to keep an Xbox 360. There’s nothing particularly magical for Reggie to take. She does convince Harg to set up the 360 at his shop, where she keeps her magic stuff, so they can both play with it. They get Fagian’s laptop, has records and a lot of Facebook friends for Farmville. Christopher gets the names of his fences.
They drop the captives off at the Resistance’s office, meet a few people. Before they leave Fagian behind, Garth gives him his phone number. “I think you have some class, and even though we busted you, if you ever see the light you can give me a call. I think we’ll get along.” Then he gives Fagian a creepy smile. If the halfling could have backed away, he would have.
Mortimer asks if they’re willing to work together again. Shep is indignant because of some remarks earlier in the day that made him think Garth saw all short people alike, but eventually agrees to stay together for one more mission.