The Widow Wore Gold - Week 27

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Chapter Ten
Differing Perspectives Make It All Worth It

Melody opened her security measures and accepted the incoming communication from Rector, the Sub-Direction Controller for the San Francisco Metro’s AI citizenry. It was a courtesy measure, really: he was a Controller, and it was his job to ensure that all the AI’s that fell within his oversight were law-abiding citizens. Had he wanted to, had he any suspicion that she was in danger of violating the laws – be they the laws of the SolGov, the Federation, or the AI Safe Laws – he could have arrested all of Melody’s processes and entered her personal presence without so much as a moment’s hesitation. This was all moot, however, as Rector’s presence within Melody’s systems was expected, and at this point, welcomed.

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The Widow Wore Gold - Week 26

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Charlie unlimbered his patented smile and relaxed his body language. “I’m afraid so. So tell me: If Stanley Von Staten is killed by the very, very hungry offspring of his wife, who benefits?”

“That’s just it,” Mr. Belloquet replied, sighing. “I can’t think of anyone. Not one of our peers. Not one of our little club, if that’s what you want to call it. Stanley has been very, very conservative with his business partnerships. Myself, Eleanor Dupris and her consortium, and Frederick Cho’s concerns. And none of us have any sort of legal holdings if something happens to Stanley.”

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The Widow Wore Gold - Week 25

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Mr. Belloquet nodded, slowly. “No, not completely. But the police are bound by confidentiality agreements. The news feeds are likewise auto-censored when it comes to anything related to your case. Privacy clauses and laws doing the job they were meant to do. ‘Attempt on Charlie Danger’s life while working Muriel Von Staten case’ is an entirely different headline than ‘Charlie Danger thrown out of airlock while investigating pregnant wife of corporate mogul involved in murder plot.’ Wouldn’t you think?”

“People will speculate. They always do.”

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The Widow Wore Gold - Week 24

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“Not sure what that has to do with anything,” said Charlie. “No offense.”

Mr. Belloquet nodded. “Well, consider this, Charlie. There are, at any given moment, at least one hundred and twenty seven million stories in the San Francisco Metro. You are one. I am another. Do you think that every part of every story is known? Can be known?”

Charlie shook his head. “No, of course not. Still not getting the relevance.”

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The Widow Wore Gold - Week 23

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Charlie looked down over the terrain as the hopper rattled across the farmland, passing a few meters over the tops of a half dozen oak groves. Mr. Belloquet kept the path roughly in line with the main road leading into the interior of the farm, pulling away as the road branched out to the north and south. The wind whipping through the missing rear window brought Charlie back to the sensations of his earlier fall, and he fought back a sense of impending peril, counting backward from one hundred then starting over when he reached zero. His AGENT could help subdue the stresses of vertigo and panic responses from the fall, but it couldn’t edit out basic human fears. When Endicott had thrown him, Charlie had known the Rescue Shells would come to his aid. Here it was just the hopper, the trees, and the speed. He swayed slightly in his seat as Mr. Belloquet turned the hopper further out from the main ground road, the motion and momentum bringing him back to the realization that if not for that sudden, lucky gust of wind, he could have easily been impaled on the weather vanes or any of the thousands of antennae peppering the side of the tower. He’d been lucky, and he knew it. The chronometer at the top of his vision told him it had been forty minutes and change since Valo had caught him - long enough for adrenaline and shock and whatever sedatives the medic had given him to start wearing off. Long enough for the impact of it all to settle in. He’d been thrown out an airlock. Someone had tried to kill him. He’d been in danger before, many times. Physical violence was always a possibility in his line of work. But that was rare; most people knew better than to rough up someone with a direct line to the cops. Endicott, or rather his controller, Owabi, hadn’t cared. The threat of the police meant nothing. If not for Melody, Charley would be dead, and Endicott’s body would likely be just so much wreckage after a convenient crash. Charlie felt the blood drain from his face, a surge of nausea rising up from his gut.

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The Widow Wore Gold - Week 22

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Mr. Belloquet laughed. Not the temporary chuckles that he’d given before, but a full-hearted, throaty laugh. “Mine, too, Charlie. The first cow I saw, I must have been nine years old. The entirety of my school was taken to an educational farm complex in the old Kentucky territory. Was yours in Oregon? It would be closer for you in the San Francisco Metro, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t matter. There we were, wandering around looking at all of these animals, each of them meandering about this enormous open field. I had never in my life seen so much open space anywhere but up. I’m sure you know the feeling quite well. Not even looking out across the Gulf from the High Town towers of the New Orleans Metro, not even then, had I ever seen so much open space. And cows. Cows everywhere. They gave us bunches of grass to offer to the animals. I suppose they wanted us to understand the differences between we children and the cows. Or perhaps the similarities. Or possibly they wanted us to simply learn what it meant to feed a cow.”

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The Widow Wore Gold - Week 21

chromiumslurpee:

Chapter Nine
The Perils Of Being In The Seats With The Clearest View

Mr. Belloquet regarded Charlie coolly for a moment before continuing. “You don’t seem surprised.”

Charlie reflected in his water glass for a moment and returned the other man’s gaze. “Well, yes and no, really. I mean, I suppose in a way it makes sense you’d want to keep this off the public register.”

Mr. Belloquet cocked an eyebrow, a slightly amused expression on his face. “Now, why would you think that, Mister Shin? Because we are both men, Stanley and I? Because we are both married - happily, I will add - to our spouses? Or do you see this from a higher perspective?”

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The Widow Wore Gold - Week 20

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…The driver, who I’d later find out was named Mister Hampton, first name actually Mister, thank you very much, was as tall as Endicott had been, but nowhere near as massive. “Bean Pole” is a good term for it, really. The five thousand dollar suit and seven hundred dollar shoes told me he wasn’t here to deliver a message and make his merry way back into the skyway. No sir. He was here to get me, and he wasn’t going to leave until he did.

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