I like your thinking. Okay, start looking around for someone. But for fuck’s sake be subtle.
Subtle? I never thought of that. I guess I should take that flyer off the company billboard.
I jogged away from the Landvik estate. Without breaking stride, I whipped out my Gizmo and texted Rudy: “Trouble at Landvik estate. Blood on scene. Get there now.”
He texted back: “On my way. Stay put until I get there.”
“Nope,” I replied. The Gizmo rang as Rudy tried to call me. I ignored it and broke into a full run.
“Dammit,” I hissed. “It’s never easy.”
I only touched the ground every seven or eight meters. I kicked off the walls when rounding corners so I wouldn’t have to slow down.
Alan’s Pantry was an upscale place, considering it sold junk food and kitschy souvenirs. It was less of a convenience store and more of a hotel gift shop—with appropriately jacked-up prices. I didn’t have time to be picky.
“Can I help you, madam?” asked the clerk. He wore a three-piece suit. Who the hell wears formal clothes at a convenience store? I shook it off. No time to be judgmental.
I grabbed the largest bag I could find—a cloth sack with a picture of the moon on it. Really fucking original. I shoveled junk-food packets into it from every shelf, paying no attention to what I took. I had a vague impression of a bunch of chocolate bars and twenty flavors of dried Gunk. I’d take inventory later.
“Madam?” said the clerk.
I pulled a jug of water from the cooler, shot over to the counter, and upended the bag. “All this,” I said. “Fast.”
The clerk nodded. I had to hand it to him—he went as fast as he could. Didn’t ask questions, didn’t give me shit. Customer’s in a hurry? Okay, then he’s in a hurry too. I give Alan’s Pantry five stars.
Once the items were spread out on the counter so none of them were touching each other, he pressed a button on the register. The computer identified everything and came up with a total.
“One thousand four hundred fifty-one slugs, please.”
“Jesus,” I said. But no time to argue. Money would be useless to me soon. I waved my Gizmo across the payment pad and okayed the transaction.
I shoveled everything into the bag and ran out. I hustled down the corridor and dialed my Gizmo. A confirmation dialog popped up before it connected:
YOU ARE CALLING EARTH. THE COST IS 31? PER MINUTE. CONTINUE?
I confirmed it and listened for the ringing.
“Hello?” said the accented voice on the other end.
“Kelvin, it’s Jazz,” I said. I rounded a corner and bounced toward the Bean Connector tunnel.
After a four-second delay, Kelvin’s response came. “Jazz? You’re calling directly? What’s wrong?”
“I’m in deep shit, Kelvin. I’ll explain later, but I have to make an alias right fucking now. I need your help.” I stormed through the connector, cursing the god-awful communication latency.
“Okay. What can I do?”
“I don’t know who might be after me, so I can’t assume my banking info is private. I need you to set up a KSC account under an alias for me. I’ll pay you back later, of course.”
Four infuriating seconds later: “Okay, understood. How about a thousand US dollars? That’ll be around six thousand slugs. And what name do you want it under?”
“Six thousand slugs is great, thanks. Put it under…I don’t know…something Indian this time? How about Harpreet Singh?”
I shot through Bean Bubble. Bean was mostly a sleepy bedroom community. The corridors were long and straight. Perfect for a gal who’s running like hell. I picked up a huge head of steam.
“Okay, I’ll make it happen,” said Kelvin. “It’ll take about fifteen minutes. When you have a chance, drop me a line and explain what’s going on. At least let me know you’re safe.”
“Thanks a million, Kelvin. Will do. Jazz out.”
I hung up and turned off the Gizmo. I had no idea what was going on, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to walk around with a tracking beacon on my ass.
I ran to the main concourse of Bean Ground. The nearest hotel was called the Moonrise Inn. Pretty stupid name, if you think about it. Artemis is the only city in existence that can’t see a moonrise. But whatever. Any inn would do.
Just as I had done with Nuha Nejem, I picked up a hotel Gizmo for Harpreet Singh. An Arab looks the same as an Indian to clueless hotel clerks.
Okay. Alias taken care of. I’d be Harpreet Singh for the foreseeable future. Tempting though it was to check into the hotel right then, I wasn’t willing to hide in plain sight. I had to go where literally no one would see me.
I knew just where to go.
DOUBLE HOMICIDE IN ARTEMIS
Business magnate Trond Landvik and his bodyguard Irina Vetrov were found dead today at Landvik’s estate in Shepard Bubble. Artemis has only had five other murders in its history and this is the lunar city’s first double homicide.
Constable Rudy DuBois, acting on a tip, found the bodies at 10:14 a.m. The door had been forced open and both victims had been stabbed to death. Evidence indicates that Vetrov died attempting to protect her employer and may have inflicted significant damage on the attacker.