Implied Spaces
    “Terra-cotta, through and through,” Bitsy reported. “Trace elements show that all three balls were made from the same type of clay.” Her tail gave an irritated little switch. “And I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that the origin of the clay is unknown. It could have come from any pocket with unexplored clay deposits, which could be any of them.”
    “Thank you for your efforts,” Aristide said. He set Tecmessa’s case against the long table, then picked up the remaining samples, wrapped them, and returned them to his pocket.
    Daljit returned to her seat and peered at the display over the silhouette of the cat that squatted before it.
    “I should check your work,” she said. “But I suppose it would be futile.”
    Bitsy rose to her feet and stretched.
    “Reproducing the results of another researcher is the hallmark of the scientific method,” she said. “I’ll leave you to it.” She jumped onto the floor and rubbed herself against Aristide’s legs.
    There was a chime from Daljit’s pocket. She took a small card out of the pocket, and looked at its display.
    “Put it on the wall,” she said.
    One of the neutral-colored walls brightened to show a tall, imposing woman standing behind her desk. The image was life-sized. Her skull had grown a kind of exoskeletal helmet that overshadowed her eyes—her many eyes, of different sizes, which waved on stalks, alongside other sensory organs of less obvious purpose. Her hands had an extra digit on which cilia waved, for fine manipulation under the supervision of her magnifying eyes.
    It looked as if she had a large, pale crab perched on her head.
    From the shoulders down she was a standard woman, if powerfully built. As she talked she walked back and forth behind her desk while her hands made chopping gestures.
    “Fedora,” Daljit said, “thank you for working late.”
    “Daljit,” she said. “I’ve had a chance to examine one of the three heads you passed on to me, and I’m going to have to inform the police. I’ve found evidence of a crime.”
    Daljit smiled, still a little under the influence of the wine.
    “Beyond the decapitation, you mean?”
    Fedora wasn’t amused. “The brain structures were badly decomposed, but they were clearly unusual. I got the DNA from the skull and sequenced it, and it’s plain the deceased was created as a pod person. I checked the register and saw that it wasn’t one of the few remaining types of legal pod people, so I’ll be calling the police as soon as I finish talking to you.”
    Aristide stepped forward and cleared his throat. “Madam,” he said.
    A pair of Fedora’s eyes turned toward him as she paced, while the rest remained focused on Daljit.
    “Yes?” she said.
    “May I suggest you not inform the police just yet? I—”
    The pair of eyes shifted back to Daljit.
    “Who is this person?” she asked.
    Daljit blinked. “This—” she hesitated. “This is the man who… collected… the heads.”
    “I see.” All Fedora’s eyes turned to Aristide. “Sir,” she said, “I am absolutely required to inform the authorities when an unlicensed pod person is discovered. There are no exceptions.”
    “I wasn’t going to suggest that you break the law,” Aristide said. “I was just going to suggest that you be careful which authority you report to. Because—”
    “I’m afraid you don’t understand the seriousness of this,” Fedora said. “This is a grave security matter. The last time we had wholesale pod person creation it started the Control-Alt-Delete War.”
    “I know, madam. I was there.”
    She seemed a little surprised. “Well then,” she said. “You certainly understand the gravity of this crime.”
    “Yes,” Daljit said. “But Fedora, I don’t think you quite understand who you’re talking to.”
    “I don’t?” She stiffened, and her sensory complex turned to Pablo. “Who are you then?”
    “This,” said Daljit, “is Pablo Monagas Pérez.”

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