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 hadnâ€™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. â€œNice boots,â€ said Drick, â€œhow much did they cost?â€
â€œWho are you?â€ the woman used a stern demanding tone.
â€œI asked a question.â€ Drick stared into the womanâ€™s eyes until they looked away. Drick gave them a speck of admiration for the defiance but waited for them to speak.
â€œI cannot recall.â€
â€œDid you purchase them or were they a gift?â€
â€œI bought them, why do you ask?â€
â€œIf you bought them you should be able to pull up the transaction on your banking screen. How much did they cost?â€
â€œWhy are you keeping me here? What does it matter how much my boots cost?â€ The womanâ€™s voice was elevated and slightly shrill.
â€œHow much did the boots cost?â€ asked Drick.
â€œI said I donâ€™t know. I asked to be told why I am here.â€
â€œHow much did the boots cost?â€
â€œOh fifty thousand credits. What does it matter?â€
â€œThank you.â€ Drick smiled. â€œNice tats.â€
â€œI said nice tattoos.â€
â€œWhy does that matter? Everyone has them. Well everyone who comes from a tank has tank identification iconographics. Mine are hardly different to your own.â€
â€œExcept 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?â€
â€œWhat makes you think I have wealth?â€
â€œNice 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.â€
â€œThatâ€™s not that much.â€
â€œItâ€™s triple what a street worker earns in a year. You spent that on boots and you donâ€™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?â€
â€œWho are you?â€
â€œI am the person asking you questions.â€
â€œWhat gives you the right to ask me questions?â€
â€œLet 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 thatâ€™s valuable and throw you onto the lowest levels with rags and a set of re-programmed idents. But I donâ€™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?â€
â€œYes. 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?â€
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€
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.
â€œWhy are we waiting?â€ the woman, called Martha, eventually asked.
â€œBecause I want your name.â€
â€œI told you. It is Martha Caprenis.â€ Drick stared at her. This time she looked away even quicker. â€œYou keep staring at me.â€
â€œName?â€ Drick kept the tone of their voice the same neutral level. It was having the desired effect.
â€œMartha Caprenis.â€ Angry.
â€œMartha Caprenis.â€ Angrier.
â€œMartha Caprenis.â€ Shouting.
â€œMartha Caprenis.â€ Shouting louder.
â€œMartha Caprenis.â€ Screeched.
â€œMartha Caprenis. Martha Caprenis, Martha Caprenis. Stop asking meâ€ Almost a sob.
â€œOh, stop it. My name is Candice. Candice Stamford.â€
â€œMartha 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 Elevenâ€ Drick paused, and smiled.
A screen flickered into life on a wall and an image, taken twenty years before, appeared. â€œThere you are,â€ said Drick looking at a group of young organics in expensive evening clothing, â€œat a fundraiser for the regional representative. How sweet, you mix with leaders, Miss Stamford.â€
â€œWhen did you know?â€
â€œThat you were lying?â€
â€œYes. No. Who I was?â€
â€œAbout ten minutes before I walked through that door.â€
â€œThen why did you do this? Why ask me questions if you knew the truth?â€
â€œWhy are you looking for Drick?â€
â€œDo you know them? I need to find them. I need to know if itâ€™s true. If,â€ Candice had risen slightly from her seat.
â€œI need to know if he is really dead. Like the Judiciary reported. I need to know.â€
â€œIf who is dead?â€
â€œMarsh. He uses the name Marsh. He has no idents.â€
â€œWhy do you need Drick? Surely the judiciary would know?â€
â€œBecause 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.â€
â€œYou 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?â€
â€œDo 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?â€
â€œHeâ€™s my son. I am his mother.â€