Lief leads Imogen and Lilly to Aiden’s apartment, refusing to simply supply the address so as to maintain his usefulness. Imogen and Aiden left him out of their adventures when they were teenagers, and he wants to ensure that does not happen here. Aiden’s apartment is downtown. It is not a super-nice neighborhood, but baseline niceness is pretty high on Umoja. Unfortunately, the apartment complex is fenced, with access restricted to residents and their guests. Aiden is certainly not home to buzz them in, and it is hard to sweet-talk an adjutant. The most they can get out of it is his unit number, 44B.
The wall around the apartment building is about ten feet tall, a sufficient deterrent for crimes of opportunity, but not enough to stop the more determined. Lilly and Imogen walk down it a bit, checking out the security, while Lief tags along watching them work. The few cameras are discreetly placed so as not to draw attention to themselves from residents. They are the black globular kind, designed so that it is difficult to see which way the interior camera is pointing as it moves through its arc, but Lilly thinks she can time it right. “I’ll try to go ring you in,” Lilly says. She attempts to wall jump to reach the top edge of the outwardly sloping wall, but it works about as well here as it did in the Cerberus zerg arena.
Thinking she might have better luck at another spot, Lilly heads further down the wall, leaving Imogen and Lief by the front. As she is about to start another run at the wall, she hears someone approaching a door along this section from the inside. Changing tactics, she moves into position beyond the door and waits for the person to exit. They do not even notice her there as they leave. Lilly catches the door before it closes all the way and slips inside. She heads to the front, where it is now a simple matter to let Imogen and Lief in.
Lief has never been in Aiden’s apartment; he only knows where it is because he followed Aiden here a few times. “Not that he saw me. I’m super sneaky,” he insists. He fancies himself a thiefy sort, and he is very impressed with how easily Lilly got them inside. As they go up the four flights of stairs, Lief peppers Lilly with questions about her work. “So are you a mercenary? Are you in a mercenary company?”
“Sure,” Lilly agrees, keeping things far simpler than they actually are.
The questions keep coming, though Lief does not actually pause to give her time to answer. “Are you and Imogen your own mercenary company? That is awesome. Wait, can I join your mercenary company?”
“Lief!” Imogen snaps. “You’re not convincing me you’re sneaky with all your chit-chat.” That hushes him, leaving Lilly in peace to examine Aiden’s lock now that they are at his door. It is a really fine door, and Imogen recognizes her parents’ handiwork. It has a relatively complex computer lock on it, but Imogen advises Lilly that Aiden likely would not know how to take full advantage of that with custom configurations. With that in mind, Lilly bypasses the lock without too much trouble, disabling the alarm mechanism along the way.
Aiden’s apartment is rather stark inside, the fridge empty but for some old kombucha. Imogen issues orders on what they are to look for. She wants to know if there is any more to this than what Leo and the family already know. If they can find out about Aiden’s contact with the military, or something else that points to how he was getting access to the weapons, that would be useful. “If I end up having to talk to these pirates, I’d like to do it from a position of knowing a bit more about what’s going on,” she concludes. “Or have somebody else to sic them on instead of my family.”
With so little furniture it does not take long to search the whole place, and they have time to do a very thorough job, including checking the fixtures. The only papers lying around are old utility bills, but in the bathroom, inside the showerhead, Lilly finds Aiden’s hideyhole. The paper there has contact information on it, but for the prop department of a local theater, not for some soldier looking to make extra credits.
Imogen groans when Lilly shows her the paper. “He wasn’t even selling real weapons?! Oh, Brother!”
“Now I see why they were so pissed,” Lilly comments.
Imogen unfolds the page the rest of the way. The entire thing is in Aiden’s handwriting, and below the address of the prop department, there is a scribbled note to himself to bulk out the couple legit pieces. “So, he had some real weaponry, but not nearly enough. He had someone fabricate fake ones to fill out the rest.” Imogen shakes her head. “It’s not good enough just to be a smuggler, also gotta be a trickster.”
“That was Aiden,” Lief comments.
“Why does everyone keep saying was?!” Imogen demands.
“Sorry, it’s just that, if he is gone forever, I’d rather get used to it now,” Lief replies. Taking Aiden’s idea of counterfeiting further, he suggests paying the ransom with fake credits. Imogen does not even honor that idea with a response.
“Do you want to go to this prop place?” Lilly asks.
“No, I don’t think that’s necessary. Based on this note, this was all Aiden’s bad idea. I don’t think that person was a business partner, just a subcontractor.” Imogen has one last idea to try. “Was Aiden seeing anyone, Cousin?”
“Oh, something salacious do you think? No, though. He was always too busy with work. I tried to get him to come out with me once, but he said he was too busy. I thought he was just blowing me off.”
“Well, you see now that he was busy,” Imogen mutters.