“That was… different,” said Maite as she returned to the patio. The robe was gone, replaced with a billowing top that left her midriff bare but extended to her wrists. It was complemented by what she could only call pantaloons. She felt somewhat like a pirate. Her hair was pulled up into a tight bun that was immaculately weaved. She hadn’t felt this refreshed since… well, she couldn’t remember when.
De Lancre chuckled. “I know, right? Think how strange it was for me, a man who grew up using outhouses.”
Maite sat back down at her place at the table. “Why am I here?”
De Lancre took a sip of his coffee before answering her. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a long time now.”
“What do you mean? We’ve only met once before.”
De Lancre raised an eyebrow. “Maybe for you. But, for me, we’ve met many times now. You and the boy…”
“Kepa,” interjected Maite sternly.
“Yes, Kepa. We’ve had a number of run-ins that more often than not end violently. I want to stop that.”
“Stop it how?”
“By making a truce.”
“Hold on,” interrupted Maite. “You have to know already that a truce won’t hold. You’ve already said we have numerous violent run-ins in my future. You already know this won’t work.”
“Do I?” asked de Lancre. He shrugged as he looked out over the city. “To be honest, after all of this time, after hopping around from one time to another, I really don’t know how all of this works. Maybe, by talking to you so early in the process, I can change how the rest of this goes.” He returned his gaze to Maite. “At the very least, I wanted to get to know you a bit more. I find you… intriguing.”
Maite cursed herself as she blushed. The last thing she wanted to hear was flattery from this murderer.
“You can hold me captive, but as soon as Kepa finds the zatia, this will all end.”
“About that,” began de Lancre. He snapped a finger and another spherical drone floated into the room. This one was slightly bigger. As it hovered in front of de Lancre, he touched something on his wrist and a compartment slid open. A bright light burst forth and Maite could see the zatia inside. “I already have it.”
Maite lunged across the table toward the drone, but de Lancre simply touched his wrist. The compartment slid closed and the drone jumped up out of reach.
De Lancre simply shook his head as Maite lay sprawled on the table in a puddle of coffee. “And you just got cleaned up.”
“Why?” asked Maite as she looked up at de Lancre. “Why haven’t you collected it?”
“I like this time,” replied de Lancre. “Look at me, look at how important I am, how much influence I have.” He shrugged again. “I’m just enjoying myself too much right now.”
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