CM2.07 - A Member of the Family

Marco's a fool. He came along for the ride with Mateo. And he left in the ambulance with Mateo. The other kids feel sorry for Mateo, but they don't miss Marco at all. He always followed Mat around, bullying everyone else and sneering at them. You could tell he was jealous of Mateo.

Mateo is Uncle Vito's nephew. Yes, that Uncle Vito. And Mateo is his real nephew (unlike so many others, who are mostly godchildren of one sort or another). Uncle Vito thinks the world of Mateo, thinks he's cute, likes to tweak his cute little pudgy cheek, enjoys telling hilarious stories about the cute things he says. It has really distressed Uncle Vito to have Mateo grow up and get acne and turn into a loudmouth and a complete klutz, to have Mateo stop being five years old.

So teenage Mateo is a constant reminder to Uncle Vito that he's not getting any younger. This is why Uncle Vito offered his favorite nephew the opportunity to study anywhere in the world. Mateo didn't like sports, didn't like business, didn't like music (once you get to know Vito, it's very difficult to understand his attachment to the boy). He liked computer games and what he called "hacking." He wanted to be a "hacker." Vito thought that this would be fine, fine, just fine, so he asked Mateo where he wanted to study, and Mateo told him that you can't go to school for this--you have to be apprenticed.

Mateo's favorite hero was Habeas Punter (Punter's been a shadowy cult figure in the digital underground from some years back), and things just went from there. Uncle Vito managed to get in touch with Punter, Punter liked the idea of carte blanche, and the Wilson Memorial Academy was born. Mateo got Uncle Vito to pay for his friend Marco (one of Uncle Vito's godchildren) too. If it weren't for Mateo, the rest of the students wouldn't be here.

So now you know how Punter got the money for his setup, and why he ran away when Mateo, a really royal member of the Family, plopped out of the Sidecar with a permanent headache.

And you also know why the kids get woken up in the morning this way:

"Good morning, boys and girl. Rise and shine."

Aubrey opens his eyes. He is looking up into the round, black, bottomless hole of a weapon that appears to be both automatic and of large caliber, a disheartening combination of properties. He glances toward Rusty; he can't see Rusty's face, but he can see a big black shoe on the back of Rusty's neck. The man in the shoe is putting a lot of weight into it, and he's also the man holding the gun. Jayne has backed herself up against the wall in a sitting position, her sleeping bag pulled up to her neck. The man has a second pistol pointed at her.

There's another man, in the doorway. He's dressed like the man with the gun, beautifully tailored dead-black suit. He's not holding a gun. He's holding a metallic briefcase. He sets it down and says, "Let me introduce myself. I'm Mr. Knott, and this is Mr. Shott." He smiles patronizingly. He has a white shock of hair and black round goggles. Well, not goggles really. But they're too thick to be just spectacles.

Aubrey thinks Rusty's lying a little too still. "Rusty? You okay?"

Rusty's muffled voice is a relief. "Yeah. But I'm a little busy right now."

"Actually, his name isn't Shott at all. That's just my little joke," continues Mr. Knott. "You know, 'who was shot and who was not?' I thought it might lighten the mood. Get us all off to a good start."

Aubrey says to Mr. Knott, "What do you want?"

"Now that's a question I never tire of hearing. We are friends of Uncle Vito's and what I want, dear boy, is Habeas Punter."

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