this." She bit her lip and pushed shaggy blond-brown hair from her face as she examined
what the screen displayed.
"What?" he said, pushing his chair across the floor until it fetched up against the
cluttered wooden desk she worked at. She pointed at the screen. "Régarde la!" she cried,
slipping into her native tongue.
"Qu'est-ce que ce?" he replied with a sigh, humoring her. Oudra frowned at him, and
went back to English – for the moment. "We're wanted – look. They got our pics, our
ages, our heights, even our weights. How'd they get it all?" She put one hand to her chin,
while the other typed rapidly, long fingers stretching all the way across the keyboard.
After a moment, she paused. "I can get it off…" she said slowly. "I think. It won't be
easy, though…and it will take me a time to do. Go to bed, Mílo; one of us should sleep."
The small seventeen-year-old returned her attention to the computer screen, not
noticing that the tall, brown-haired boy remained beside her. His eyes – one blue, one
green – followed her typing. Just after midnight, Oudra put her head in her hands and
didn't move. He touched her shoulder gently; when she didn't stir, he sighed, picked her
up, and carried her to bed, as he had done last night, and the night before. Before he went,
though, he noticed that she'd done just what she said she would – gotten their description
off the internet.
Oudra woke the next morning with only a dim memory of what she'd done the
previous night. She rubbed her eyes with the back of one hand and groaned quietly. From
across the room, there was a soft laugh; she glanced up to see Mílo perched on the wide
shelf just above his bed.
"Git down from there," she snapped at him, angrily. He shook his head. "Don't
worry, Oudra. Y' finished what y' set out to do. Now get up. We've work to do; we're to
make another convicted criminal 'disappear'."
"How much?" she said, swinging herself out of bed. Mílo grinned. "Ten grand."
"Did we up our prices? And if so, when?" Oudra went to the pantry and stuck her
head in, then grunted in disgust and went for the small 'fridge. "If you lived alone, Mílo,
you'd starve to death." She tossed a couple eggs into a pan. "Now, why so much?"
"He is a murderer," replied the boy, turning on the stove. Oudra glanced sharply at
him. "And you didn't turn them down?"
"For ten grand? Are you kidding? Plus, it means one less person who wants to kill us.
Everyone's after us these days…" He sighed softly. "Ten grand, and we can live a little
better, choose the jobs we take…"
Oudra poked at the eggs, and scowled. "We're not taking the job, Mílo."
"Why not?" he cried, and dropped the bread back onto the counter, coming to stand
beside her. She glared up at him. "'Tis trouble, Mílo. It's asking for danger. I'll take
risks, but I'll not walk into something like that." She pushed her hair out of her face
again, and returned her attention to the stove. Then she sighed. "How many's 'e killed?"
"Three. He's a hired killer, but he gave the name of his employer, who's in too. Still,
they want the killer himself off the streets, so the death penalty's probable. So it's not as
bad as I led you to believe." Mílo ruffled her hair gently, and she knocked his hand away
with irritation. "How many times, boyo, have I told you not to touch me?"
He knew they'd take the job.
"Oudra, where are we going, anyway?" asked Mílo, glancing around at the shabby
apartments that surrounded them. Oudra, unperturbed, kept going at a surprisingly long-
legged walk for such a small person. He looked down from his somewhere-over-six-feet
at her slender, five foot five frame.
"To go see the Street Queen one last time before we take this idiotic job and get
caught," she replied curtly, and went faster.
"Street Queen; the mistress of the undercity. There's a whole 'nother world down
here, Mílo, and I'm part of it. We're relatively legit 'pirates'; these are the people who
aren't. And she's the head of it all; she's the one brought me over from France. I saved
her life." She stopped and looked up at him, her deep green eyes fierce. "This is my
home, Mílo, and these are my people. If you rat out where she lives, I'll kill you. I am
completely loyal to this woman, and I'd give my life for her. Understand?"
He nodded, unable to say anything.
"Good. Don't speak until you're spoken to, and for goddess's sake, don't do what I
do." She straightened, took, a deep breath, and knocked three times on the door of the
nearest building, paused, then twice more. There was a long, long silence, then the door
opened and a tiny girl with bright blue hair, a black tanktop, and loose jeans was glaring
at Mílo. When she saw Oudra, she brightened.
"Lady Oudra – we wondered when we'd see ye again," she said, her voice
surprisingly low for such a small, slender girl. "Queen's been expectin' ye these past
weeks. How'd ye manage t' come here the day she gets ev'ryone t'gether?" She paused,
looking again at Mílo with narrowed eyes. "Who's he?"
"His name is Mílo – he's safe. C'mon, Réchelle, let us in," said Oudra, glancing past
the young woman. "I need to see the Queen."
"Oh, of course, Lady Oudra," the girl said mockingly. "Right this way, m'lady. And
give me the knife I know ye've got."
"You never change, do you, Réchelle?" laughed Oudra, and handed the girl a knife it
seemed she pulled out of nowhere.