Blue and Martialla have managed to find the worst apartment in Madripoor. It’s literally just an empty cleaning supply closet. It’s the kind of thing you’d see in a movie and roll your eyes. Because people don’t live in empty cleaning supply closets. But here we are. So. I guess I’m Margaret Dumont now. Except Margaret Dumont married a sugar baron and inherited a fortune when he died of the Spanish flu, and I live in a closet.
I’d like to really give them the business about this living arrangement but two things hold me back. One, this is a nicer place to stay than a good number of people in Madripoor have. Which is depressing. And B, even though this place sucks, they managed to get it with zero money – which is the amount of money we have. Which is impressive. And depressing. Getting something that should be cheap for nothing is actually harder than getting something expensive for cheap. Trust me, I know. I don’t know why, but it’s easier to get someone to give you something worth three hundred dollars for a hundred than it is for get them to give you something worth a hundred for free. People are odd ducks.
I know why I’m broke, and Martialla probably thinks shells are money or something stupid like that, but why doesn’t Blue have any money? Before I kicked his ass and we became best friends, he was hired muscle. HIRED muscle. That implies payment of some kind. What happened to all his money? Shouldn’t he have a wicked cool criminal enforcer penthouse or something? Maybe he has a gambling problem that he’s keeping secret. I should keep an eye on him. I mean, I’ll take his money if that’s what he’s into.
On the plus side, at least I have somewhere to keep my smokes now. They keep getting ruined in my pockets on account of all the superheroing I do all the time. It’s really annoying when your cigarettes get smashed or drenched in blood. I sat in my corner while Blue sat in the other three with Martialla perched on his back like a dirty seagull. Turning to the matter at hand, Martialla and Blue said they would scout the location where Camila wanted us to make our move but I told them no – they stick out too much.
“Send LBK, he can blend in better than any of us.”
Martialla shook her head “I don’t think he’s going to be interested. He was pretty shaken up by what happened on Callisto.”
Blue looked mournful, which isn’t easy for a lizard “Yes, that battle extracted a heavy toll on us all. You see Ela, there was an alien with us that used the highly advanced technologies, found in our headquarters, powered by immense energies from the ferocious alien storm outside to . . .”
“Jesus Christ, I knew it, I knew you were going to bring up this moon stuff all the damn time!”
Blue’s tongue flicked out low and to the right – hurt feelings “You asked!”
“I asked about LBK not to hear the dumb story of your supposed space adventure again. What really happened? Did someone bomp Martialla over the head and try and sell her at the fish market for two dollars a pound?”
Martialla sneered with her fish-lips “Aren’t you the one who usually sells herself?”
I shook my head “Really Martialla? You’re going to go there? What about the international cause of woman’s rights? Words have power Martialla. We need to build each other up, not cut each other down.”
“But you’re the one who . . .”
I waved my hand “Shush, the point is no more moon talk alright? No one wants to hear it. Before I forget, when I was laid up in the very expensive fake hospital because you two abandoned me to die, a thought occurred to me about your niece. Why would someone travel all the way to the CS to kidnap a kid? Your sister’s not rich right? And even the most particular pedo surely has access to someone closer. The only reason I can think that she was grabbed was because she’s related to you.”
“I can’t pay a ransom either.”
“No, but you do have the super-soldier gene.”
“Actually I don’t, I was tested many times.” She gestured to her revolting body “This experiment they did on me was something else.”
“Regardless it worked. Either they don’t know you’re a negative or they do and they want to know what’s up with your genes so they can try and replicate it. Nothing else makes sense to me.”
Martialla considered for a moment “If that was true, why wouldn’t they grab my sister?”
I shrugged “I don’t know, but I think this is a better lead than anything else we have. Instead of tipping off the drug guy you should ask around, I have to believe that Madripoor has some kind of local Dr. Moreau mad geneticist freak-maker, probably several, and they seem like the most likely culprit to me.”
Blue piped in “Speaking of intel gathering, you need to be careful out on the street, the Crimson Cardinal and Patron Patriot are both looking for you.”
I snorted “They can get in line. Since I broke all their technology, what threat could they be really? That reminds me though, the USA guy’s stuff was all alieny with the symbols like you draw sometimes, Lucien. Maybe we should grab him and see what he knows about it.”
Blue was too stunned to respond but Martialla jumped in “Or we could just talk to him.”
“Yeah maybe, but he didn’t seem like the helpful sort to me, you know how staties are. Do you have to perch up there like a gargoyle? You’re making me nervous.”
Martialla held out her webbed hands “Where else do you want me to go? We’re packed in here like . . . ” I grinned “. . . don’t you say it Ela, don’t you dare.”