The fact that Ortega and Bancroft neglected-no, chose- to ignore the fact that I'm riding a sleeve that has many enemies. Enemies that want to kill me. I looked to Makenna, who seemed pretty shaken that she was going back. She got used to a peaceful life, one without a freak fucking her brains out every night. Her bruises were less purple and more yellow. A sign that they were healing. The car breached the clouds, a sight that never ceased to amaze me. The clouds were tinted gold from the sun and part of the sky was a brilliant midnight blue, and the other a light blue and pink. It didn't take long for the sun to set completely, in fact, the sky was dark when the car landed at Suntouch.

I climbed out, waiting for Makenna before walking up to the house. We met some guards along the way, guards that didn't want to let us in. But, well, I don't care, so I fought my way in. Which was pretty easy. Curtis tried to stop me, chasing me through the house. "Hey, Kovacs. How'd you get in here?" He asked, struggling to keep up with us.

"The guards'll be fine. Well, except for the broken jaw and shattered leg." I said, slightly amused at this pathetic excuse for security.

"Yeah, well, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave." He said angrily. When I ignored him, he got angry and grabbed my arm. "Hey!" He shouted, but I whirled around and punched his throat, sending him to his knees. He gasped and groaned, struggling to catch his breath. Makenna looked at me with a raised eyebrow, a smirk playing on her lips.

"Takeshi," a voice said, "stop damaging the help." We both turned to the sound, and I saw Makenna flinch when she saw Miriam.

I left Curtis on the ground and climbed the stairs leading to Miriam. When we got to her, she turned and walked away, leading us to Bancroft's study. Once inside, I began to wonder where Laurens was. "Where is he?" I asked, stopping at the table. Miriam ignored me and diverted her attention to Makenna. I nodded at her and tossed the bag with her clothes in it to her. She nodded once, bowing before she left the room.

"Can I get you a drink?" She asked, moving towards the liquor.

"I asked you a question," I said, ignoring hers.

"Laurens has gone to the Old City to minister to the masses." She answered, grabbing two glasses. "I could get you a car if you'd like. Or, you could stay a while. With me." She said, looking at me seductively. "Did you like what we did together?" She asked as she poured the drinks.

"Seems like a long time ago," I said.

She turned around, the glasses of liquor in her hands. "It was the night before last," she said, a twinge of annoyance in her voice.

"Well, I've been in virtual for a while, busy screaming and dying." I said, shrugging it off. She narrowed her eyes, trying to look concerned.

"Because of the case?" She asked.

"Not a lot of other reasons for people to want to kill me," I replied, enjoying this moment.

She paused for a while before answering. "Takeshi-san, listen to me. I want you to drop the case," she said, which completely took me by surprise. I thought that she, more than anyone, would want to figure out who killed her husband. But then, I thought, why would she be so quick to deflect the case? Unless she's trying to hide something. She slowly made her way to me. "I'll double whatever he's offering you. Buy you a new identity anywhere in the Protectorate. A new life. He'll never find you." She said, handing me the glass. "My husband dragged you here and he locked you into a deal you have no choice but to accept.

"Do you really think he'll set you free?" Her flat tone betrayed her look of concern.

"That's what the lease says. I expect him to honor it," I replied.

"Mmm. Honor." She considered the word for a few seconds. "He threw you into a fight pit. No. When you learn the truth, the only possible truth, that Laurens pulled the trigger, that he was weak and gave up, he's a coward, he won't forgive you for that." She said bitterly. It clearly angered her that her husband was such a coward, but I believed he was murdered. Or, at least, led to suicide, if that was the truth. "Your freedom, that thing you want to much, he'll make sure you never see it." The way she said thing made me angry. She is so quick to dismiss the idea, because she's never lost it. "You have no idea what he's capable of." She said quietly, this time, the emotion in her voice and on her face was genuine.

"You're terrified." I said. She looked up at me and smiled weakly.

"He will want someone to punish. And my family means everything to me. Laurens will not allow what he loves to grow and change," she explained. "Our children, he's trapped them in a kind of benevolent dependence forever. And when a Meth says "forever," it isn't a hyperbole." She said, as if I didn't know. It's amazing, how these people truly believe they are above everyone else. They aren't as smart as they believe.

"So you're afraid of what he'll do to all of you," I said, putting more information into the mental web I had going.

"I don't believe in punishment," she said, turning and moving across the room. "I believe in reward. I have an island," she said, keeping her back to me. "It's all mine. Not even Laurens knows about it. Built a complex there, with a clone tank, resleeving facilities." She turned towards me, her expression soft but seductive. "Sometimes I decant the clones and let them play." She said as she slowly sauntered back to me. Her fingers crawled across my chest as she continued. "Do you know what I'm offering you?" She asked, standing on her tip toes to meet my height.

"Imagine more of me. A pack of bodies," she whispered, and as she did so, I could see the image of her, and her clones, naked, surrounding each other as they delicately kissed and touched each other, "orchestrated by the same mind, with a singular focus. You." She whispered, her breath hot across my cheek. "I'm multi-sleeved," she said, leaned back a little.

"That could get you erased," I said, impressed by the ability of the Meths to push the law to its limits, then to break it completely.

"Mmm. Uncountable, my sins." She said, smiling up at me. "And you can have all of me, for as long as you'd like. And, when you're finished, your freedom." She said, and I snapped out of the reverie I was in.

"I'm not here to save you, Miriam," I said, moving away from her. She seemed stunned that I refused her.

"I believe I am the one offering to do the saving," she said, annoyed at my denial. "Think about it," she said. "But don't take too long. We're running out of time." She began to walk away, but I suddenly thought about Makenna and stopped her before she got too far.

"Miriam, wait." I called out, walking around the table to her. She turned to face me, her expression tight. "About the servant, Makenna, I'm buying her."

She looked completely surprised. "You're doing what?" She asked, twisting her body to face me.

"I'm buying her, unless you give her to me for free. I like her, she satiated my needs," I lied.

"More so than me?" Miriam asked, clearly annoyed at my choice of Makenna over her.

"Yes, and you're married. Bancroft would kill me if I fucked you again." I said blandly.

She nodded. "Ah, well, you'll have to take that up with him. She is his favorite, after all." She said bitterly.

"Either way, I'm taking her." I called out to her as she walked away from me. I stayed in the study for a bit longer, processing what I just heard. Miriam was terrified of Bancroft, but was sure he was a coward. She didn't hesitate to insult him, and was quick to try and deflect me from looking into the case. Either she truly believes he killed himself, or she was hiding something. But, one way or another, I'd find out.