In Cologne, when Lief told me flatly that we would have to go to Lyon, I should have left. There was nothing for me there but pain, debt, a woman, etc. but I felt obligated to stay. Lief and I had come to an understanding. Like anyone with a mind for business I knew well the cost of a partnership. Traveling to Strasbourg was a calculated risk. It was in the Rhine country, a dark place filled with pirates and anarchy. I hated their kind, but he needed me to track and speak in the region. If I used French, which I rarely did, I made an effort to fake my best accent. I hated feeling like a tourist.
Off to Lyon then, the goddamned megacity, I concluded.
My only experience with a place like Lyon was in North America. Most, if not all of the urban areas had deteriorated, but one could still find a sweet spot out in the middle lands. What was left of the world took shelter there in the great fields and built up cities rooted in the earth like maize. When I entered they scanned me and found me out, which believe me didn't cause as much worry as I thought. It's illegal to harvest in Topeka, but I had to wear a badge. In a city of 20 million people I felt inclined to remove it every so often. Maybe I was just being pessimistic.
Lief had been to Lyon before though. I could tell. I had learned in my journeys that he was a thinking man, and like all thinking men his emotions were hardly veiled or hidden. He sat in the front seat of our decrepit jalopy staring off into the middle distance with little joy. He was thinking about his sister, and I suspected he questioned why she should be in Lyon which lay nearly 500 kilometers away.
"She will be alright," I said picking dirt from under my nails. "Stop worrying."
His focus drifted towards me subtly, his hands gripping tightly on the wheel momentarily while he arched his back. We had already driven the the highways for some time today. Begrudging and cranky, I knew that he would talk. What else was there to do?
"Lyon is just a big place. She must be running from someone."
"Like us?" I grinned, proud of my joke. I did not look back, but I sensed Lief's already stiff body tense in frustration.
"I had not yet considered that," he conceded, his voice even and calm.
"Think on this my friend," I began, leaning forwards in my seat to access the cache of alcohol in the glove box, "It is better to admit folly than pursue defeat... bourbon or the wine?"
"Bourbon," he replied without hesitation as I handed him the bronze etched flagon. Lifting the bottle to his mouth he bit the cork and pulled it out, taking a sip and passed the bottle to me.
"Thank you... yes. I mean we have come a long way, we know she is safe, why must we then pursue her? What is there in Lyon anyways?"
"Plenty of things that can hurt her," Lief replied. "After all, she is only human."
"And you are a robot?" I countered. "Come now, there must be something bothering you that is more significant than just her being in Lyon."
Lief lowered his countenance, a darkness brooding in his expression. He was hiding something from me. Call it intuition, but I knew. Something was terribly wrong, yet he remained silent.
I sat back in my seat then, and gazed out along the horizon. The sun was rising, or beginning to at least. It was the same glorious hue I had envisioned. Some ninety years ago I saw it, and since it had not changed. Rome strove across these fields once, seeing the same glorious orb rise from the earth to give life. Traveling 200 kilometers per hour across the land, augmented my perceptions of the event significantly, like watching a time lapse of the flowering earth.
"If I were bothered," Lief began, "I would admit that I have some suspicions why she might be going to Lyon."
I inclined my ear, intrigued. Deep down I prayed it was her dream to become a prostitute. I was eager to go back to women, and I felt more capable of expending time in a brothel than in a holy citadel.
"She wants to play Castle..."
"Oh," That's different. Oh God.
"Take A35," I concluded evenly, heaving a sigh of frustration. "That way is faster."
Yes... Indeed. This was definitely bad.