Drick walked into the small room that was being used as a sort of holding cell. On closer inspection the ridiculousness of the disguise being used by the organic was even more amusing. There was a stark contrast between the clothes and boots, but they also wore expensive undergarments. Drick recognised the logo of a designer clothing manufacturer who only used natural materials. Which were hellishly expensive on this planet. There were also the tattoos that were high quality, currently declaring the person was female and a sky-citizen.
The icons for sky-citizen scrolled lazily behind the usual preferences and availability. It was a note that the organic had property above cloud level. It was an assumption of wealth and an automatic guarantee that they could get credit anywhere. It was also a huge giveaway that they were slumming it and they hadn’t done that much in their life as they could have disguised the tattoos.
Drick smiled and laughed a little while sitting down opposite the woman. It had the desired effect of making her look concerned as the laugh did not have any mirth to it. “Nice boots,” said Drick, “how much did they cost?”
“Who are you?” the woman used a stern demanding tone.
“I asked a question.” Drick stared into the woman’s eyes until they looked away. Drick gave them a speck of admiration for the defiance but waited for them to speak.
“I cannot recall.”
“Did you purchase them or were they a gift?”
“I bought them, why do you ask?”
“If you bought them you should be able to pull up the transaction on your banking screen. How much did they cost?”
“Why are you keeping me here? What does it matter how much my boots cost?” The woman’s voice was elevated and slightly shrill.
“How much did the boots cost?” asked Drick.
“I said I don’t know. I asked to be told why I am here.”
“How much did the boots cost?”
“Oh fifty thousand credits. What does it matter?”
“Thank you.” Drick smiled. “Nice tats.”
“I said nice tattoos.”
“Why does that matter? Everyone has them. Well everyone who comes from a tank has tank identification iconographics. Mine are hardly different to your own.”
“Except in cost. So you were born into wealth as well as being wealthy now. Is it independent or are we still surviving on some family harvest?”
“What makes you think I have wealth?”
“Nice Boots. Nice Top. Nice tattoos. Street clothes that were bought to look well worn while still having the smell of being freshly created. All of that. You merely confirmed it when you told me how much the boots cost and were so uncaring about the ridiculous sum.”
“That’s not that much.”
“It’s triple what a street worker earns in a year. You spent that on boots and you don’t think it is that much? So very wealthy and have been so for all your life. What brings you down to the under city sky queen?”
“Who are you?”
“I am the person asking you questions.”
“What gives you the right to ask me questions?”
“Let me make this clear to you. If I thought I needed a right I would have expressed it. I could have drawn a weapon to threaten you with. Or have the rather bored looking bruiser in the corner punch you a few times to soften you up. Or I could just strip you of all that’s valuable and throw you onto the lowest levels with rags and a set of re-programmed idents. But I don’t need to pick any extreme method. I simply need to tell you that I am the one asking the questions. What I choose to inform you of other to that is my choice. I will not be answering your questions unless I believe it will significantly advance my own desires. Are we clear?”
“Yes. But maybe treating me with a shred of decency or compassion would get you better answers. Maybe giving me some answers might make me talk? Have you thought of those?”
“What’s your name?”
Drick smiled and waited looking at the woman’s eyes. The woman tried the defiant glare again, and then looked away. Drick kept motionless, waiting. On an internal screen information was scrolling across as Rodero ran data to Drick continuously updated from the information that the woman provided, and other data they could prise from the grid.
“Why are we waiting?” the woman, called Martha, eventually asked.
“Because I want your name.”
“I told you. It is Martha Caprenis.” Drick stared at her. This time she looked away even quicker. “You keep staring at me.”
“Name?” Drick kept the tone of their voice the same neutral level. It was having the desired effect.
“Martha Caprenis.” Angry.
“Martha Caprenis.” Angrier.
“Martha Caprenis.” Shouting.
“Martha Caprenis.” Shouting louder.
“Martha Caprenis.” Screeched.
“Martha Caprenis. Martha Caprenis, Martha Caprenis. Stop asking me” Almost a sob.
“Oh, stop it. My name is Candice. Candice Stamford.”
“Martha would be one of your employees. Identifies as female. Married to a person identifying as binary. Has a season ticket for the Western Reach sky elevator. Which means she likely works in the apartment you hold on the Western Reach. Not your holdings on Orbital Platform Eleven” Drick paused, and smiled.
A screen flickered into life on a wall and an image, taken twenty years before, appeared. “There you are,” said Drick looking at a group of young organics in expensive evening clothing, “at a fundraiser for the regional representative. How sweet, you mix with leaders, Miss Stamford.”
“When did you know?”
“That you were lying?”
“Yes. No. Who I was?”
“About ten minutes before I walked through that door.”
“Then why did you do this? Why ask me questions if you knew the truth?”
“Why are you looking for Drick?”
“Do you know them? I need to find them. I need to know if it’s true. If,” Candice had risen slightly from her seat.
“I need to know if he is really dead. Like the Judiciary reported. I need to know.”
“If who is dead?”
“Marsh. He uses the name Marsh. He has no idents.”
“Why do you need Drick? Surely the judiciary would know?”
“Because there are larger forces at work, I cannot believe that they would just kill him. They cannot have done that. So I need to know. I know that Drick has something to do with it. They have a long history of being clever and a trouble maker. They will know the truth.”
“You seem well informed. Then you would know that this is dangerous. You are in potential danger right now. Why risk it? What does this organic, Marsh, mean to you? Why are they so important to you?”
“Do I really need to ask again, as it is getting tiring and I may have to try a different tactic. A less conversational approach. Why is Marsh important to you? Why would you come here yourself looking for Drick? Who is Marsh?”
“He’s my son. I am his mother.”