The sparse dinner pleased Evan far more than it had any right to. He smiled and stroked his too thin stomach. The vat grown chicken and greenhouse broccoli tasted better than anything he ate while in the company of the resistance or Isis herself. He did not know if it was because he was not a prisoner at the moment, or if it was that much better than the survival rations that always seemed to be on the menu of the resistance. Ultimately it did not matter, but it tickled Evan’s mind and he smiled.
“You look rather pleased with yourself,” Hanse said as he shut the door behind him and walked into the living room of his wife’s home. The big man’s grin did not have the artificial or sinister qualities Evan was used to. An hour spent with Debbie in her bedroom, neither of them caring what Evan could hear, improved his demeanor as much as the food improved Evan’s.
“Not as pleased as you,” Evan said. He sat up straight and reached for the bottle of water sitting on the plastic table sitting beside him. He squeezed the bottle and squirted a long stream of cool water into his mouth. The faint antiseptic flavor of the water was comfortably familiar. It was not as harsh as the rebel water with its strong chemical taint. Debbie had a filter, and a good one by the taste of the water, and therefore had money. She owned her own home on the surface and could afford decent food and expensive water filters. Whoever she was, and whatever she did, she turned a profit.
The long strut of the revolutionary soldier ate up the length of the room. Hanse stopped in the kitchen and pressed an empty bottle against the low gravity nozzle that carefully filled it with water. He pulled it away, raised it in Evan’s direction and took a long drink. He lowered the bottle and wiped his hand across the grin staining his lips. “Had to remind the little woman why she married me,” he said before taking a seat at the table.
Evan grunted, rolled his eyes, and shook his head. “What’s next? We can’t hide out here indefinitely no matter how much you might like that.”
Hanse barked out a short laugh. “Even if I begged she wouldn’t let us stay here. She has her own thing going on and I don’t fit into it. We’ll head out of here once she gives us the all clear. She’s above board, but she has some of the best electronic observation and countermeasures on or off the market. If someone is sniffing around outside, she’ll know it.”
“Great, so we leave here and where do we go?”
“Back to the hideout. Back to Isis. We’ll regroup and see where we go next. With some of the gear we swiped from the warehouse we can hit an even bigger target.” Hanse took another drink from his bottle and set it down on the table with a loud thunk. “That is the way revolutions work.” He shrugged his shoulders and leaned back in the chair, kicking his feet up on the coffee table.
“Get them off of there or lose them, you inconsiderate ass.” Debbie stepped out of her room, still pulling the shirt around her shoulders. She glared at Hanse as she buttoned it up, but he ignored her with considered care. “If you make me come over there, your balls will rot and fall off before you get to use them again.”
“Okay. Okay. I give,” Hanse said as he took his feet off the table. He smiled and winked at Evan before speaking again. “Being respectable doesn’t come easy to me, Debbie. You know that.”
“Civilization doesn’t com easy to you, but that’s no excuse for putting your feet on the furniture,” she said as she stepped over to the safe tucked against the wall near the kitchen. She twirled the dial on the antiquated mechanical lock until it opened with a click. Debbie opened the door and pulled out a heavy belt with an intimidating looking black handgun in a holster and a couple extra magazines of lead tipped bullets.
Hanse’s eyebrows rose as he looked at the big iron as she strapped the belt around her waist and tied the holster to her leg. He did not say anything, but Evan thought he saw worry in the big man’s eyes.
“What’s going on, Debbie?” Hanse asked before taking another drink of water.
“I don’t know yet, but you two better tell me what it is you took from that warehouse. My new boss wants to know, and something tells me she is not the kind to suffer failure lightly.” She pushed the last clasp into place and leaned against the wall. She pulled the gun from its holster and stared at the shiny black length of the barrel. “She worries me. She scares the crap out of all the execs. I think she must have something on them, because they rolled over and gave her the company without so much as calling the lawyers.”
“Who is she?” Evan asked with interest.
“Doctor Margaret Vo is her name. She used to be a—”
“Scientist at DarkSide. Yeah, I know. We worked in the same…building,” Evan said.
It was more than that. Debra knew it, and a quick glance at Hanse said he knew it too. It was a thread she would have to pull later. Gently. Very gently. Doctor Vo did make her nervous, and until she knew more she was not going to take the woman lightly.
“So what can you tell me about her?” Debra asked casually.
Evan pursed his lips and ran his fingers through his hair before speaking, drawing the words out slowly. “She used to be Aldric’s girlfriend. I don’t know, maybe that’s the wrong word. I think mistress is closer to the truth. He treated her more like a possession than anything.”
“Well she is anything but that now,” Debra said. “She only took control of the company a day ago and the rumors of her conquests are already everywhere and I can’t tell which are true. She went from an unknown researcher to a lunar power player almost overnight.”
Evan did not say anything. His eyes were wide, looking into the distance far beyond the walls of Debra’s home. Margaret was ambitious, but a power player? He could not reconcile the image Debbie portrayed with the woman he spent countless hours working with.
“Why does she care what we took?” Hanse asked.
Debra shrugged. “I don’t know, but she seems obsessed with DarkSide in general and Aldric specifically.”
“Maybe the enemy of my enemy?” Hanse ventured.
“Could be,” Debra said with hesitation. “I don’t know enough about her to say for sure, but it’s possible.” She leaned against the counter and placed her hand on the butt of her gun. She meant it to look casual, but Hanse recognized it for the threat of violence it was. She kept her eyes on Evan as she continued. “Now tell me what you took.”