The other Kitsa lay on the day couch, its huge form making the sturdy piece of furniture look ridiculously small. One of the Kitsa's legs was encased in a flex-cast, while its right arm hung at an awkward angle. As Cat watched, the woman kneeling beside it took hold of the arm and yanked.
"ARRRRR!" It was hard to say if the snapping of the arm into place or the Kitsa's growl of pain was the louder.
"Did I come at a bad time?" Cat said, her tone arch innocence.
Phlu Laum rose, her perfectly sculpted face showing no emotion. And it was sculpted. Nowhere in the data stream or in Roger's account had it been mentioned that Phlu Laum was a sculptoid, an artificially created being able to change its form and features at will, as well as being able to temporarily bond with other sentients and be worn, like a living costume. This explained why no one had tumbled to the fact she had several identities.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I was going to tell you I represented Lasdad Macek," Cat said, referring to the unavailable sixth collector as she dropped into one of the still intact chairs. "But as you obviously don't have the Mamo tape anymore, I won't bother lying." She smiled. "So which of the bidders took it?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"Payback?" suggested Cat. Her mouth curved upward and her dimple flashed. "They took it from you. I take it from them. Balance. Karma."
"And you'd return the movie to me?" said Laum, her eyes narrowed.
"No," said Cat, her smile still in place. "I have other plans for Mamo."
"Suppose I just ignore your kind offer and make sure you don't leave this room alive?" At Laum's words, the Kitsa on the day couch lumbered to its feet, breaking the coach in the process. The one at the door came closer, stunner still in claw and aimed at Cat.
Cat's expression didn't change, though her eyes darkened to a golden shade. Her tone was rich with amusement as she laughed. It was impossible to deny the fact that she was enjoying herself immensely. "You couldn't hold on to the tape," she said. "You certainly can't hold on to me."
Color rose in the sculptoid's face and she made a quick motion with her hand that sent the Kitsas roaring toward Cat.
Attempting to describe exactly how Cat moved and what she did to the Kitsas would take far longer than the actual event and would be akin to detailing the movements of a capricious and cruel wind during a blizzard. Suffice it to say, before she was finished, the Kitsa with the broken leg had a matching broken arm and the Kitsa who'd held the stunner was on the floor unconscious while the stunner was in Cat's hand, pointed at Laum.
"Shall we try this again?" said Cat.
The sculptoid's shoulders slumped in defeat.
Moments later Cat strolled along the corridor of Deck A. A few feet ahead of her, two men, followed by Justy Tanaka, and a woman stepped out of a suite.