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Rudy watched it fall for a moment then casually plucked it out of the air.

“Good afternoon, Jazz,” he said. “I’ve been looking for you.”

“You’ll never take me alive, copper,” I said.

He looked at the case. “Is this a hull-inspection bot? Why would you need one of these?”

“Feminine hygiene. You wouldn’t understand.”

He handed it back to me. “We need to talk.”

I put Hibby under my arm. “Ever heard of Gizmos? You can talk to people from anywhere.”

“I suspect you wouldn’t answer if I called.”

“Oh, you know how it is,” I said. “I get all flustered when a handsome boy calls. Anyway, nice talking to you.”

I walked on. I expected him to grab my arm or something, but he just kept pace beside me.

“You know why I’m here, right?”

“No idea,” I said. “Is it something Canadian? Do you need to apologize for shit that isn’t your fault? Or hold a door open for someone twenty meters away?”

“I assume you heard about the Sanchez harvesters?”

“You mean that top news story on every local website? Yeah, I heard about it.”

He clasped his hands behind his back. “Did you do it?”

I put on my best shocked expression. “Why would I do something like that?”

“That was going to be my follow-up question,” he said.

“Has someone accused me?”

He shook his head. “No, but I pay attention to what’s going on in my city. You have an EVA suit and you’re a criminal. Seemed like a good place to start my investigation.”

“I was in my coffin all night,” I said. “Check my Gizmo activity if you don’t believe me. I hereby give you permission to check that out—just to save you the trouble of getting Administrator Ngugi to authorize it.”

“I’ll take you up on that,” he said. “I’ve also had a request from Bob Lewis of the EVA Guild. He wants last night’s location info for everyone who owns an EVA suit. Do you give permission for me to give him your data?”

“Yes. Go ahead. That should put things to rest.”

“Maybe for Bob,” he said. “But I’m something of a suspicious soul. Just because your Gizmo was in your coffin all night, that doesn’t mean you were. Have you got any witnesses?”

“No. Contrary to popular belief, I usually sleep alone.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Sanchez Aluminum is angry. The EVA Guild is upset too.”

“Not my problem.” I rounded a corner without warning to throw him off, but he kept up. He must have known I was going to do that.


“Tell you what”—he pulled out his Gizmo—“I’ll pay you one hundred slugs to tell me the truth.”

“Whu…huh?” I stopped walking.

He typed on his Gizmo. “One hundred slugs. Direct transfer from my personal account to yours.”

My Gizmo beeped. I pulled it out of my pocket:


“What the hell are you doing?” I demanded.

“Paying for the truth. Let’s have it.”

I declined the transaction. “This is weird, Rudy. I already told you the truth.”

“Don’t you want a hundred slugs? If you’re already telling me the truth, just take the money and tell me again.”

“Go away, Rudy.”

He gave me a knowing look. “Yeah. I thought so.”

“Thought what?”

“I’ve known you since you were a little delinquent. You don’t want to admit it, but you’re just like your father. You have his business ethics.”

“So?” I pouted and looked away.

“You’ll lie all day if we’re just talking. But if I pay for the truth, that makes it a business deal. And a Bashara never reneges on a deal.”

I ran out of smartassed things to say. It’s rare, but it happens once in a while.

He pointed to Hibby. “That HIB would be a great way to open an airlock without authorization.”

“I suppose.”

“You’d have to get it outside first.”

“I suppose.”

“You could probably sneak it out with a tourist EVA.”

“You getting at something, Rudy?”

He tapped on his Gizmo. “There are no surveillance cameras on airlocks. We’re not a police state. But there is a security camera in the Visitors Center gift shop.”

He turned the screen to face me. There I was, walking through the gift shop in my disguise. He paused the playback. “According to the transaction she made to get on the train, her name is Nuha Nejem. Strange thing is, her Gizmo is offline now. She’s about your height, build, and skin color, wouldn’t you say?”

I leaned in to look at the screen. “You know there’s more than one short Arab woman on the moon, right? Besides, she’s wearing a niqab. Have you ever seen me in traditional clothes? I’m not what you’d call a devout Muslim.”

“Neither is she.” He swiped the screen a few times. “The train has a security camera too.”

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