Chapter 48

Maya checked in with the door man at the swanky complex in uptown St. Petersburg. She got her keys and the lease agreement to sign later and they hauled their stuff to the upstairs. The whole place felt more like a hotel than an apartment building. 

“Did you know we have the option of a maid service that will just be stacked onto our rent every month?” she flipped through the lease agreement as they rode up in the elevator.

“That’s pretty swank.” Leo said, typing away on her phone. “And might be worth it if we are able to establish our business here, again.”

“Not having to clean everything would be nice.” Ray nodded. “If we can get the money.”

“No worries there.” Sam shrugged. “Once we get weapons trade up and running, money will not be our biggest issue.”

They got to the fourteenth floor and wandered the halls until they found their new flat. The large, ornate door swung easily on it’s well oiled hinges, to reveal a large entryway with an ample boot box with coat hangers and a large closet. Beyond that was the living room, already furnished with two plush couches and two leather arm chairs. A large flatscreen TV was mounted on the wall, with a console that matched the couches and armchairs.

The kitchen was right next to the living room, open so you could see right into it. A five burner gas stove, a huge refrigerator, and two wall mounted ovens made Maya want to cook everything she could think of.

Leo and Sam had already laid claim to the bedroom with a queen bed and attached bathroom. Maya took one with a twin bed and left the last two rooms to Ray and Alex. She had her own bathroom, but it sounded by the fight starting between the two siblings that the other rooms had to share a bath.

She flopped onto her cushy new bed, so thankful she didn’t have to share a bed with Leo, anymore.

She woke up an hour later, not realizing she’d fallen asleep. Had it been the stress that had made her pass out? Or had she really just been that tired? It sounded like everyone else was in the living room. She looked down, someone had taken a throw out of the blanket chest and put it over her while she slept. She toddled out to the living room, wrapped up in the blanket. Ray had put some of his projects out on the coffee table and was happily soldering away while Sam and Alex were watching a soccer game on mute. Alex seemed to be attempting to explain score to Sam, who watched American football back home, but never showed an interest in soccer, until now. Leo was in the kitchen putting something that smelled delicious together for dinner. Maya ditched her throw on the back of one of the chairs, and went to help her sister.

“Hey, sleepy head.” Leo smiled at her sister. She was dicing potatoes for what appeared to be stew and biscuits. “Have a nice nap?”

“I didn’t even knew I took it.” Maya smiled. “I just wanted to try out the bed for a minute and then go shower. But I woke up just a bit ago.”

“All good.” Leo smiled. “We had a stressful morning. Sleep will keep us sane.”

“Right.” Maya rolled her eyes. “Because we are just paragons of mental stability.”

“Eh.” Leo shrugged. “We try.” Maya helped her out with the rest of dinner, which was really almost done.

“Whatever happened to the microwave dinners we bought?” Maya asked.

“I put them in the freezer.” Leo shrugged. “I wanted to make us this instead.”

Dinner was served up and Sam still didn’t get soccer.

“So they can't touch the ball with their hands?”

“No!” Alex said for the hundredth time.

“Not even if it comes at them at chest level?”

“No!”

“Then what do they do?”

“They either do an impressive jump-kick or they chest-bump.”

“But they can't catch it?”

“No!” The room resounded with negatives from all sides. 

“You really only watch American football don't you?” Maya dipped her buttered biscuit into her stew.

“What other sports are there?” Sam shrugged. 

“This,” Leo pointed at the soccer game. 

“This doesn't count.”

“Why?” Ray asked around a mouth full of biscuits. “Because the ball is in play for more than five seconds at a time.”

“Not a fan of American football?” Maya smiled at Ray. 

“Bores me to tears.” Ray shook his head. “If much rather watch robot fights.”

The chatter digressed from sports from there. They talked and ate and talked. Maya watched as Ray didn't touch his bowl of stew, but ate six biscuits, two of which he smeared peanut butter. She leant over to him, poking her with his elbow as he smeared his sixth with honey. 

“Why aren't you eating stew?”

“Just not that hungry.”

“But hungry enough for six biscuits?”

“Always.” He flashed his adorable smile at her and she had to smile back. It was infectious that smile. 

“Hey guys,” Alex had finished her third helping of stew. “Can we talk for a minute about the information we got and the fact that we need more to prove our innocence? And take down Piwitti for the monster she is?”

“Well,” Ray rolled his eyes. “That about sums it up. Where are you planning on getting more information?”

“How about East Berlin?” Alex smiled sheepishly. Leo, Maya, and Sam all groaned in unison. 

“What?” Alex leant back onto the couch. 

“East Berlin may as well be the States.” Leo had her head in her hands. “Or Israel before they knew we were friendlies. They spent the most out of every nation on security in the last four years and they are UN friendly. There's Feds on every corner and where there isn't Feds there's cameras or sensors. It's a really bad idea.”

“Well,” Alex waved her hands in exasperation. “What other choices do we have?”

“How about the worm that I planted last time I was in their servers?” Leo waved her phone in the air. “The one I've been slowly maintaining and moving around to hide for the past few days?”

“How did I forget you did that?” Alex gaped. 

“It's funny how that whole encounter with Piwitti chased a ton of stuff out of our heads.”

“It really did.” Alex nodded and stared into space for a bit. “So, you think you can hack into their servers and pull more data out that we need, without us having to fly all the way to Germany and maybe get snatched?”

“I sincerely do,” Leo smiled. “Mostly because, I've technically already hacked them. My software is just sitting on their servers waiting for me to tell it to do the thing.”

“Oh.” Alex nodded. “That would be much easier than breaking into another top secret facility, in a city that could get us seriously caught.”

“Seriously caught?” Sam sneered. “How would us getting caught in Germany be any less serious than anywhere else?”

“Because Germany.’ Maya shrugged, defending Alex. 

“You do have a point.” He said nodding. 

“There is a rather big flaw in that plan.” Alex said. “Piwitti knew you were in the system when she killed Parker. Are you sure you haven't been found out this time?”

“I haven't been found by any automated software,” Leo entered explaining mode. “But that doesn't mean they haven't dug in manually and found me. Kicking me out could be a matter of timing. They could use it to find our location or to take out my hardware. Either way it's a gamble. But so would breaking in IRL.”

“So either Leo breaks in and risks our position or hardware.” Maya tried to sum up. “Or we break in at the Germany location and risk all of us getting snatched? Why not just try both?”

“That's not a bad idea…” Leo nodded and smiled

“Oh, God.” Maya put her head in her hands. “That was hyperbole. Please don't take me so literally.” Leo laughed. 

“It's fine. We don't have to do it that way. I can start right away.”

Zoe FleischerComment