Cyber’s revelation had SMS’s heart racing, but he had to put further questions for his newfound ally aside for now, because Pavelec had just pulled up outside their destination. They all got out, and SMS and Cyber waited on the sidewalk while Pavelec jammed coins into a parking meter.
“there’s a lot we need to talk about later,” said SMS to Cyber via his cell phone. “right now let’s just worry about getting into and out of the hole alive. it’s a rough crowd in there.”
Pavelec finished feeding the meter and joined the two men. “This is your scene,” she said to SMS. “Lead the way.”
SMS brought them into the lobby and stepped up to the directory framed on the wall. He scanned down the list and found the number for D. PERRY AND W. OAKS, then punched it into the phone pad mounted beside the inner doors.
A garbled ringing noise burbled out of the speaker. After a few seconds, a voice said, “Yeh?”
“We’re here to see Jovo,” said SMS.
“Who sent you?”
After a short delay, the voice returned. “Yeah, okay.” There was a buzz, and the door lock clicked.
SMS pulled the door open and led Pavelec and Cyber through a shabbily carpeted hallway, past some ancient-looking elevators, and around a corner until they reached apartment 113. He knocked nervously. The door was made of heavy steel, and he hurt his knuckles. “Ow,” he said. He noticed a button beside the door, and pressed that, instead.
The door opened a crack and a pair of dark eyes peered out. The eyes scanned them thoroughly, and then the person opened the door wider and stepped back to let them in. The man was tall and thin, with olive skin and sharp features that suggested some mixture of European and Middle Eastern descent. When they were all inside he closed the door behind them and patted them down. He pulled a handgun out of Pavelec’s waist band and put it in a box on the floor while she watched with a scowl on her face.
“Jovo’s in there,” said the man, pointing into the living room.
They squeezed through the narrow entranceway and found a small Scandinavian woman with blonde, chin-length hair and ice-blue eyes sitting on a table clipping her fingernails. She was wearing a black suit and a red necktie, and a gun sat on the table beside her. Two burly men wearing thin t-shirts, their arms scrawled with interlocking tattoos, flanked her on either side. The corners of the room were stacked high with cardboard boxes and bags of white powder. SMS was pretty sure it wasn’t flour or sugar.
“Sit down,” said Jovo, biting off her words crisply.
They sat on a low couch.
“I’m busy, so let’s make this quick,” said Jovo. “What are you here for?”
SMS looked at Pavelec, inviting her to take the lead.
“What do you know about Walter Carton?” said Pavelec.
“Carton? He’s dead.”
“Shame, too.” Jovo picked up a nail file. “He was pretty useful to us a few times.”
Pavelec steepled her fingers under her chin. “We’re trying to find out who killed him. Innis told us you might have some information.”
“Information isn’t free.”
Jovo looked up from her nails and inspected Pavelec a little more closely. “So,” she said, “what are you offering?”
“I can put you in touch with someone else who does something pretty similar to what Carton could. She operates a bit more privately than he did, though.”
SMS looked at Pavelec. Was this a bluff?
Jovo went back to filing her nails. “What do you mean, ‘pretty similar’?”
“Carton gave people strength and flight. My replacement does speed and mass control.”
“How fast are we talking?”
“Mach 2, I’ve heard, with enough of a run up.”
“Interesting.” Jovo looked at Pavelec again. “How do I know this is legit? What’s my guarantee?”
Pavelec shook her head. “You haven’t even told me what kind of info you have, and you already want a guarantee? Innis trusts me. That should be good enough for now.”
SMS listened, impressed with Pavelec’s audacity. Invoking Innis’s name had been a good move: the man commanded a lot of respect in these circles. But what did she mean by claiming that Innis trusted her? That couldn’t be true, could it? She was from the Specials Unit, after all.
Jovo took a few seconds to think things over. “Okay,” she said. “Here’s what I’ve got for you. One of my guys was there that night. The cops don’t know. He didn’t see it happen, but he was nearby. It doesn’t matter much to me who did it, so I haven’t been asking him too many questions, but if you want to learn more you can go ask him yourself.”
“Where can we find him?”
“He’s in one of our Esquimalt houses.” Jovo nodded towards the doorman, who was watching from the entranceway. “Rufus can give you the address.”
Pavelec stood. “Works for me.” She took a pen and a small notepad out of the pocket of her pants, wrote down a phone number, and folded up the piece of paper. She offered it to Jovo. “Call this number and ask for Olivia.”
“I will,” said Jovo, taking the number. She waved her hand to dismiss them, then hopped down off the table and stepped into the attached kitchen as Pavelec, SMS, and Cyber stood to leave.
Rufus scribbled an address onto a scrap of paper and handed it to Pavelec as they stood in the entranceway. “Go around to the back door,” he said. “When they ask who you are, say—”
Jovo’s voice cut him off. “I’ve told you all a thousand times, keep the blinds closed in the kitchen win—” There was a smack and a tinkling of glass, followed instants later by the explosive report of a gunshot.