Marlowe and the Spacewoman
the UES member states.  The population of Europe was decimated, keeping them out of the war at home.
    “But the president of the Big Fed was experiencing a tremendously low approval rating at this point, and some civic-minded generals decided that the city-state model wasn’t so bad and overthrew him.  The war ended with his death.  Twenty years later the Second War of Reunification started, but this was shorter than the last, and ended with the Washington D.C. city-state, which had started the war in a bid to restore its once awesome power over the entire northern continent, being vaporized in a nuclear attack.”
    Marlowe’s gut clenched as he noticed a black Ministry of Policing flitter in the rear view mirror.  He tried to ignore the surge of panic, and just kept his eye on the tailing vessel as he continued the history lesson.
    “Each city-state has been pretty much on its own since then.  Each city expands its territory outward until checked by another city-state.  Sometimes there are armed conflicts, most of the time a negotiated settlement is reached.  The big corporations see to that, because war is bad for business.  Except for the arms business, that is, but they’ve been pretty content lately with the sales generated by the mere fear of war with another city.”
    Nina sat quietly, taking this in as the buildings of the City began reasserting themselves on the landscape.  “What about the Canadians?  What did they do in all this?”
    She tried another tack.  “Mexico?  South America?”
    “Well, the South American continent did attempt to get involved, trying to grab back territory they felt they had a historic claim to.  The land bridge between the two continents-”
    “Central America?”
    “That sounds about right.  Well, it was destroyed to prevent a large army from moving north.”
    “What, they widened the Panama Canal or something?”
    “No, as I was taught it, they carpet bombed the entire central portion of the continent with high yield, low rad nukes.  Twelve thousand square kilometers were reverted to ocean.”
    “When did we switch to the metric system over here?”
    “What other system is there?”
    “Never mind.  My God, they prepared us for a multitude of different future paths, because of the projected length of our absence, but none of the possibilities included something as terrible as this.”
    “Oh, I don’t know.  The City isn’t perfect, but I like it.  I’m sure you’ll get used to it.”
    A piercing siren erupted from behind them.  The menacing police flitter that had been not-so-discreetly following them came roaring up, gaining rapidly.
    “Ah, nuts,” said Marlowe.  “House, anything obvious we’re doing that might explain the constable coming after us?”
    “I’m calculating probabilities.  I do suggest, however, that you don’t add resisting arrest to any of the possible charges by not pulling over.”
    “What’s going on?” asked Nina.
    “Obedere’s work, no doubt.  He’s looking for any excuse to arrest me and get you back into his clutches.  House, any ideas?  I’m having the car pull over.”
    “I’m reviewing the applicable laws for visitors.  Hmm, I’ve had a thought.  Ms. Minari has not been convicted of any crimes, correct?”
    “Not yet,” said Marlowe.
    “Excuse me,” said Nina, “but it’s really creepy to be on only one end of this conversation.”
    “Hold on, please, Nina.  We’re in a serious situation right now.  Where are you going with this, House?”
    “Well, technically, although her citizenship status is in question, she is still technically in good standing.  Ipso facto-”
    “She should have a BB gun.”
    “Huh?”  Nina again.
    “But that violation only results in a fine.”
    “True, but because of her citizenship status, Obedere would have an excuse to detain her until the fine is paid and her citizenship status is resolved.  And if she’s found to be a

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