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Carrolynne ran through the checkout procedures with her—drink plenty of water, give herself a chance to sleep off the rest of the sedatives, and be prepared to just feel not quite right for a bit. If it got too bad, or if anything hurt she was supposed to go back to the hospital immediately.
Captain Halliday—he could insist he was Brody now all he wanted, but she knew his rank didn’t go away because he’d retired. She didn’t know him, calling him by his first name was uncomfortable, and calling him Mr. when he’d been Captain was worse. He stayed with her, and used his travel tag to get them onto the cross town mag-lev system. They found a mostly empty car at the front of the train, and he waved her into the inside seat.
She’d expected him to be more intimidating. He certainly had the mass to be. She was an average height, for an American she was barely hanging on to it at five feet, five inches. He probably had at least eight inches on her, possibly more like ten. He wasn’t giant, bulk body builder muscle, but he wasn’t a slim man either. Still, when he sat down next to her on the mag-lev she expected to be squished into the corner, but somehow he’d only taken up his seat, and not left her feeling trapped and at-one with the wall.
Which just left her sitting there wondering if he was trying to be non-threatening, or considerate.
“What branch of the service were you in, before you retired?”
Libby blinked at him. It wasn’t technically a non-answer. Situation Management was a military designation, and it was one of the branches that frequently used a soldier up in twenty years and spit them into civilian life without a lot of direction. Because Situation Management could mean literally anything, from media liaison services to covert operative. And usually the people that meant media liaison said so, off the bat. Sometimes people were even stupid enough to believe it.
Captain Halliday just sat there, swaying gently as the high-speed connector train crossed from the services section of PacIC—the arm containing the hospital, courthouse, and university along with anything that logically should have been next to those things—made a short stop at City Center, and continued to the Galleria.
Libby stared out the train window at the sparkling buildings as they flashed by. The Galleria in every intercoastal city functioned the same way, even if they hall had their own distinct aesthetic. PacIC was made to look like a gross modernization of Pacific Islander culture. The largest temporary housing structure was shaped like a giant, glittering pineapple, complete with the green spines at the top—aerial gardens—and a ring of palm trees around the base. All the best shopping and crafts people were around the main dwelling. The best restaurants would be strategically dotted throughout the arm, to encourage people to see all the sights. Then there would be the ‘must see’ places in the other arms, usually directly next to the mag-lev connection. If she were still a person, according to the records system, she would have presented herself at one of the small, more sterile guest houses away from the Galleria center.
It hadn’t occurred to her to ask Captain Halliday what his plans had been before rescuing her. Was he staying at the Pineapple in the Sky?
The mag-lev stopped, and they exited onto the sandstone pathways. Drum music soaked the air, and people danced and handed out flower garlands. Craftspeople sold straw hats and seven different places shouted they had the best Pina Coladas around.
Libby usually got out of the tourist arm as fast as she could, if she were staying somewhere long enough to make it worth doing. Which was something she was going to have to deal with soon. Whether the rest of the world realized she was a person or not, theoretically her boss hadn’t forgotten she existed. Ben could be scatterbrained, but that was a little much even for him.
He'd be wondering why she hadn’t reported for duty, and if she didn’t exist no one would have told him it was because she was in the hospital.
Or, conversely, Inspector Hussein had already followed up with him and Libby was going to get a right earful when she called in.
“It’s not far,” Captain Halliday waved her toward one of the quiet side streets. “Though I could probably vouch for you at the main place…”
Libby shook her head. “No, presumably eventually I’ll be a real girl again, and my per diem doesn’t stretch to the Pineapple.”
Captain Halliday laughed softly, and started up the walkway. She didn’t have to push hard to keep up with him, and while she was grateful for that she still wasn’t sure why he was being accommodating. He’d said he didn’t leave a job half-done, but surely that didn’t include helping her find a place to stay?
“This is us,” he said after a moment, pointing to a nondescript faux-stone corner building. The first floor was all windows, made to look like a post-Victorian San Francisco hotel. It was nice, and probably still too close to the main area for her liking, but it would be alright for a few days. She’d definitely have to call Ben immediately, he’d think she’d been hacked because she never spent what she was allowed for expenses.
“Captain Halliday,” the hologram receptionist smiled broadly at him, her fake name tag glinting in the overhead lights.
Libby always suffered the intense desire to lean over the desk and see if they’d bothered to render the bottom half of their receptionist. She didn’t, because it felt rude—she did realize the hologram wasn’t an actual intelligence, their AI stopped at being friends and answering canned questions.
She constantly broke them, always wound up back at the general menu tree, or forcing them to get an actual person to answer her questions.
“Hello, Candice. I’m afraid we’re going to need the manager,” Halliday said warmly, leaning on the counter.
“Oh, I do hope nothing is wrong.”
“Nothing with the facility at all.”
“Good.” She smiled warmly. “I’ll get him for you.”
Libby swallowed an intense desire to ask how he planned to go about this. He clearly had a plan. Or he was acting like he had one. He was clearly more comfortable with the unexpected than she was, though. Nothing seemed like it mattered, he hadn’t even asked her questions while they travelled.
She wasn’t sure how much more mystery she could handle, but for the moment she’d stand there and see if he could talk her way into a room.