“I could make us big money quickly, but I assume you don’t want me doing assassinations.”
“Correct,” Adam said.
“Then you gotta get a job.”
“I intend to sell honey and wax, but for that I need the bees to be healthy.”
“Look. I’m not getting a job. We can’t send Gladys out to get one. We’re trying to lay low and she’s a big blue robot. Those get noticed. Gotta be you.”
“But having to work a meaningless job simply for money will distract from our efforts to better the world.”
“Welcome to this wonderful society we have constructed.”
Adam sat cross-legged on the roof, watching his hive.
Bees flew about. They looked fine to Dante, but the look on Adam’s face confirmed that they were sick.
“I can get money,” Dante said.
Adam looked at him, saying nothing.
“Without killing. Port Nadine has a pretty robust organized crime scene. I could rob them. That’s how I usually get by in life between jobs. I rob scumbags. If you’re okay with that, I could hit them tonight.”
Adam wiped the corner of his eye. “With no killing?”
“Exactly. If I kill them, I dry up my source of income.”
His own eyes closed, Adam saw through the eyes of a bee.
The bee sat on Jason Dante’s shoulder as the assassin picked up a rock from the street. They were outside a closed strip club.
Dante threw the rock. The bee took flight. Dante and the bee were through the broken window in seconds.
Six surprised mobsters stumbled out of the back room to find Dante standing there. They cursed with confusion.
Dante was unarmed, not even wear his “fancy killing” suit. In jeans and a green sweater, he looked totally unassuming.
“Hey pricks,” he said. “Gimme your money.”
Through the bee, Adam watched the mobsters posture and threaten Dante.
Dante waited for no further answer.
In a blink he was gouging the eyes of the nearest goon while kicking another in the neck.
He spun and shoved a third headfirst into a wall, then slammed another’s face into the bar while casually disarming him.
He turned the mobster’s gun on the remaining two, who hesitated. Dante fired twice, directly between the two, making them cringe. He then smacked each in the face with the pistol.
Dante looked at the bee sitting on the wall and gave a wink.
Dante sauntered out of the club carrying a sack full of wads of cash, some booze, and a lamp he thought looked pretty nice.
Behind him a mobster shouted vitriolic warnings through bleeding teeth, but made no attempt to actually make good on his threats or even to stand up.
Adam’s bee followed the assassin down the road. After all, they were both heading to the building with the hive entrance on the roof.
Neither Dante, nor bee, nor even the beekeeper seeing through the bee’s eyes, noticed the helmeted man watching the scene from a rooftop across the street.
Adam ended his meditation. He found Gladys where she had been for hours, sitting in front of the television.
She looked at him as he entered. “How’d the thing go?”
“Well. The criminals had no chance. Dante is on his way here with the money now.”
“And he behaved?”
Adam raised his eyebrows, then understood. “He killed no one. I am relieved.”
“The thing about Dante is, he hates everyone. But the ones he really wants to kill? It’s the people in charge. To him, those crooks are just trying to get by in this world we’re all stuck in.”
Dante put a wad of cash into Adam’s hand. “Five thousand. Your allowance for the month.”
Adam had never held so much money. Back home he’d needed none. “Allowance? Then you expect nothing in return for this?”
Dante sat next to Gladys on the sofa. There was a sitcom on the television.
“Well,” said Dante, “obviously I’m going to want you to keep playing leader to our little team of wayward souls here.”
Adam pocketed the money. “I do not think of myself as a leader. We are a team. We help each other.”
“Go buy your bee medicine, kid.”
Nobody in Sebdall’s Department Store seemed to find it odd for a man to be shopping in a beekeeping outfit. So at home in his suit was Adam, that it just seemed natural.
This being his first shopping experience, he took his time. When time came to pay, he took out only the amount needed, not letting his extra thousands show.
Only one person took special notice of Adam that day, a man who had actually been furtively observing him since he left the souvenir store. He wore a backpack slung over his shoulder which contained a large metal helmet.
“So I guess I’m a woman.”
Adam looked up. He was cooking while Gladys browsed websites for local clothing stores.
“It never really came up back with the other robots,” she continued. “We’re gendered based on our names and voices I guess, but don’t have biological sex.”
“If you are not comfortable as a woman, you should choose whatever you like.”
“No, I think it’s right. I’m like the sarcastic women on the sitcoms, you know?”
Adam had not joined Gladys in her quest to learn about the society through television show, but he said “Yes. It does feel right.”
Adam and Dante ate supper while Gladys browsed clothing websites.
“I’ve got to warn you,” Dante said, “Any disguises I can get for you aren’t gonna be hot.”
“I don’t care about that,” said Gladys.
“It has to fit over your robot skin and your asymmetrical arms. Realistically, I think the best bet will be to make you look like an old lady with weird medical problems.”
“Fine by me. I don’t share your dumb human beauty hangups and honestly being a bitter old lady kinda fits my personality.”
Dante shrugged. “I’ll see what I can scrounge up.”