Stupid directors. Stupid, stupid.
They had met that idiotic flying girl. I knew that for a fact. And they just let her run away, without so much as ‘You know, a flier would really help us out.’ Stupid, stupid directors. Also, couldn’t she have shot Anders with the calciophage in the process? Would have made my life easier.
“Lakerine,” I spat, as I ripped the intestines out of some stupid ghoul who had decided to ambush me in an alley. “What’s going on outside?”
A voice appeared in my mind. “You’re never cared about outside the city before. Why the sudden interest?”
I ground my teeth hard enough for a few of them to crack. “Because right now it’s boring. No one’s doing anything interesting. The cultures have fortified. I could turn them, but no, that would be genocide. You crazy little…”
“Fine,” the voice interrupted. “Ru Yu’s escape from Shaohao Station generated the kind of attention we were hoping for, and the buyout was drowned in heavy public opposition. They won’t be able to try that trick for a while yet, hopefully long enough for you to complete your work.”
I snorted in derision. Right, my work. Well, it didn’t really matter who’s idea it was, I was following the plan regardless.
“The secessionists on Titan are beginning to stir. Besceriul is encouraging them, to a point. He can’t do much directly.”
“Of course not,” I muttered, as I rooted around for the ghoul’s spine. “He’s a gutless bastard.”
The voice didn’t bother to acknowledge my little pun. “The loyalists on Charon are taking the initiative, and making weapons designed for use against rebellious colonies. Things that can function in vacuum.”
I frowned. “Isn’t the Charon base just five guys in a lab?”
“Fifty, actually, but yes. They’re mostly just doing weapon design. They only barely have the facilities to test their theories. Luckily it’s distracting them from their dig.”
I rolled my eyes. Who cared if a bunch of stuffy scientists found some stupid meteorite? But it was important to the Nine, so I didn’t say anything.
“Interestingly enough, the para are missing.”
I paused. That was interesting. “How is that possible?”
“Don’t know,” the voice admitted. “But when Vearon went to check on the para, they weren’t there.”
“There’s no reason for them to deviate. They should be exactly where they’re expected. Did Vearon backtrack their path?”
“To a point. He only had so much time, and his scanning equipment is sub-par. But they’re nowhere to be found.”
I chewed my lip and cracked a few more of the ghoul’s ribs. Very odd. The para were…well, honestly, they weren’t really very important, but finding out they weren’t where they’re supposed to be was like finding water running uphill. Odd.
I shook my head to clear my thoughts. It was a little interesting, but not really important. “I don’t care about Vearon’s stupid cyborgs, sage. Give me something else.”
“Here’s something a bit more relevant to your interests, then,” the voice said in a slightly miffed tone. “The United States president is taking a more active interest in Domina. He’s worried about your screamers.”
I took the ghoul’s leg in both hands and broke it off at the knee. “Why would he be? I thought Butler always handled that kind of thing. Propaganda, information control.” Intelligence wasn’t really my territory.
“Well, that’s the thing. Butler convinced the outside world that the chorus are just another gang, but now the president is convinced he can actually help.”
I barked out a laugh. “Unlikely.”
“True. But he’s annoyed at the Shaohao situation slipping out of control. He thinks if he can stabilize Domina, he can make his mark on history and maybe solve the secession crisis in the process.”
I snorted again. “He’s a moron. Even I know that they’ll never accept help from an outsider.”
“His heart is in the right place,” the voice chided.
I licked my lips. “That just means it tastes better.”
The voice sighed. “Anyway, the point is he’s going to try and send a few more spies into the city. If you can turn them, that would be helpful.”
I shrugged. “Easy enough.”
“Not that I think it will be necessary,” the voice mused. “Like you said, they don’t like outsiders. They stick out like a sore thumb, especially spies. They’ll probably be dead in a week.”
I reached into the ghoul’s chest and finally pulled out his heart, dripping in rich blood, a little thicker than in a baseline human.
“Well, that’s no fun,” I whispered. “I don’t get to kill nearly enough people.”
Then I ate the heart.
Behind the Scenes (scene 79)
Spies really do not do well in Domina. There are about a thousand reasons for that, not least because it’s low priority, which means less-experienced spooks get sent there. Butler and the cultures also keep a close eye on who comes into the city, and spot the suspicious ones quickly enough. There aren’t really that many people trying to immigrate, so it’s easier than you’d think. Not to mention that it’s an island.