When your job is to babysit the richest people in the world, being able to keep a straight face is as important as being able to recognize an armed anarchist. The Yefimovs were straining my straight face to the limit with swimming costumes so tiny they may as well have been naked. The heated pool produced a cloud of vapor where it met the Arctic air, but not enough of it for my liking.
I could still see the Yefimovs.
“Global warming is a truly marvelous thing,” Arkadi Yefimov was saying to me. “To think only a few decades ago, the sea beneath our hull was solid ice.”
The aurora sent reflections chasing across the pool, staining their mismatched bodies across the spectrum. He looked like an elderly hippo, too bloated and arthritic to do anything but wallow. She acted the role of the trophy wife, long limbs wrapped around him and her blonde head nodding in time with his words.
“It must have been such a waste,” she said. “What would be the use of a solar storm if we couldn’t get to the best place to see it?”
“Exactly,” he said. “The wisdom of my grandfather’s generation wasn’t appreciated in his day, but we can pay tribute to it now.”
I huddled in my parka. “Yes sir.”
Before I was head of security in the Ayn Rand, I’d spent twenty-six years in London’s Metropolitan Police. The Met had taught me the value of those two words.
“But I didn’t ask you here to discuss my family history,” said Yefimov. “My son wishes to fire a Rarden on his twelfth birthday.”
“I… Well… A thirty-millimeter cannon isn’t a toy, sir.”
“You will make sure he is safe.”
I should have seen it coming. We had the Rardens because a ship full of trillionaires who refused any nationality offered a tempting target for pirates. If our guests had seen them smash a few skiffs to matchwood, it only made their children more eager to play with them.
“When’s his birthday, sir?”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Yefimov returned his attention to the dancing sky. I’d been put out of his mind.
“See you do, Superintendent Harme,” said his wife.
No woman marries a man half a century older than her unless she’s jumping a few social classes. Lydia Yefimova’s glare showed she’d yet to get the hang of authority. People born to it, like her husband, didn’t bother reminding me of it.
My comm chirped.
“Excuse me,” I said.
“We’ve lost the cameras on decks three, five and six.” I couldn’t place his voice, so it must have been someone new.
“Lost? What do you mean lost?”
“Lost… I mean, they’re dead.”
Tech wasn’t my department, so there was nothing I could do about it, and Surveillance could keep me informed on the comm.
Yefimova looked as if she had more to say.
“I’m coming down,” I said.