CM3.02 - Misplaced Loyalties

"Pug, it's Maddy." She listens for a response. "Pug? Are you there?"

It takes him a while to warm up to her. She has to go back ten years to remember how to put the charm on him. She finally gets around to the question. "Where is he, Pug?"

Then she has to listen to him say his piece, stoked resentment about lost chances and misplaced loyalties. She's almost sure she doesn't deserve it, but, well, it's Pug, after all. She listens because Pug is almost always right. She's still sure he's wrong about this, but he's right pretty much the rest of the time.

And he finally tells her where to look for Habeas Punter.

Vallejo's really steamed. You can tell by the way she breaks out and breaks down the two matching handguns, both a bit larger than seems absolutely necessary. The guns are not twins. One's a trank and the other--well, the other's only a trank in the very permanent sense.

She cleans both weapons very carefully. She checks the loads of the ammunition. She takes her time. If Bob could see how deliberately she's working now, he'd soil himself.

Besides those two items, she packs very little equipment to take with her: everything useful left from her tenure at Roar-Sol (she's already thinking of her job in the past tense; she's in survival mode now), including her Leash; a couple of changes of clothing and some toiletries; a few peripherals that her deck's meltdown spared.

She's still taking her time when she steps through a breach in the chainlink fence behind Est's Ke'auver Elem''r' S'hool. She circumnavigates the grounds, looking for all sorts of things: fresh tracks, power cables, satellite dishes, new garbage.

She makes three observations. The first is that some type of small VTOL craft--a gyrocopter of some kind--landed out in the far field not long ago; within the last day, it must be. The second is that there aren't any signs of wheeled vehicles going in or out of the school grounds (and there's enough loose dirt about that she ought to find something). The third is a Nasuko cycle magnetically locked to the inside of a metal storage shed. The cycle is covered with sheets of rusty tin roofing from a second collapsed shed to keep it out of sight.

Her mood improves a bit. If Punter had fled the scene, this is how he'd have done it. He looks foolish and out of place on something as hip as this devil bike, but he doesn't care, and he loves to ride it. He's had this bike longer than any of his decks, that's for sure.

So Punter may still be around.

She really doesn't expect to find him. She's come because she knows that when he pulls up his stakes, he leaves pretty much everything behind. She's likely to find something here to help her stay on his trail. But she has to be careful. He likes nothing better than to trip up his pursuers with deliberate, ironic traps.

She's come because he's the only person she knows who can help her find Rey's mythical brat.

Only now does it occur to her that Mason Rey has sent her here. Rey knew that she would have to cross Punter's path. But even with this flash of insight, she still doesn't get it. Although she wouldn't admit it to herself, she still thinks that Rey believes her incompetent enough to require his help. She still thinks Rey's just trying to punish her.

She doesn't give Rey enough credit. You can imagine that this is the reason that she's not here now.

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