Fortunately Lord Axel told them to leave his parents' apartment alone. But it was still took more than a day to pack--quietly, not making a big deal of it--while Axel was called before the Council to testify.
They wanted the financial details. Which Axel went into, displayed on a large screen for the world to see. The Historical Trust . . . explained in detail. Lord Vladimir's trust--started with half of what he'd charged the Historical trust. Lord Vladimir's personal accounts. "Eight that we've discovered so far."
And his own sources of money.
He displayed it for everyone to see. The Trust fund he'd inherited from his father. The annual withdrawls: by the end, a hundred thousand for the uncle, fifty for the child every year.
"Not that I was a child. I was thirty-five with a job that paid plenty for a bachelor with free living quarters. My salary I put straight--after taxes and so forth--into my section four account, with a brokerage."
"Salary?" The questioner made it sound dirty.
"I grew up underfoot in the labs, is it really surprising that I'd want a job up top?" He was starting to sound exasperated after a few hours. "I am an Imperial employee."
Of course they wanted to see all of his accounts. And pounce on a large expenditure.
"I bought a house. Please note that the amount is well under the limit for a Young Mentalist to own."
"What did your uncle do with it?"
"Nothing. I never told him."
"What was your relationship with your uncle?"
"He was my father's younger half-brother. I disliked him, he disliked me. I spent as small an amount of time in his presence as possible."
"Did you kill him?"
"Did you know about his treason?"
"Not until the first beacon was found."
"How did you find out?"
"When the Senior Detective found the beacon, there was a communications block. My executive secretary was with him and telepathed me. As I work up there, I had a fairly good idea who to call for a Fast Response Team, and did so"
I'll bet his Fast Response Team buddies are laughing their asses off.
And he called me his executive secretary!
They finally let him go . . . and he showed up a few hour laters with a used box truck. They spent half the night loading, driving to a nice little warehouse/office that Pauli had rented "I w-w-was a bit w-worried about b-buying property under an alias," unloading and going back for another load.
And then carefully carrying all of Old Fedya's largest trees down from the fourth floor solarium.
Axel told them to get a good night's sleep and drove off with the old man.
Nastasya exchanged glances with the guys. "You know . . . it's a little scary, how serious he is about . . . survival and disappearing."
"L-like we're r-really going to n-need it? Y-yeah."
/// Axel takes the kidnapped Stuttgartians back home, and assists in geting the imposters contained, leaves it in the hands of the diplomats.
After that the President of Stuttgart says "Since Budapest Reborn has lost their single portalmaker, we can attack without fear of reprisal. And then, with them under control . . . you say Siberia Max stole their portalmaker . . . which gives Siberia Max a total of four portalmakers and no doubt they're building another facility . . . And the entire world's population is about two million? And no real army, just a hundred shocktroops? It's irresistable, isn't it? Let's go help them."
"I fail altogether to understand where anyone can get to on Siberia Max that he can't at least call me in Four Damned Days!"
Nastasya turned back to her dusting . . . Councilman Petrov is really pissed. And poor Andre . . .
"Look, Axel's a bachelor. He's had an all-day reaming--in public--had his whole life examined--in public--and his finances examined--in--public." Lord Andre shrugged. "He's either hiding . . . or, more likely, shacked up with a pretty woman with dollar signs in her eyes."
"Yeah." Nikoli nodded. "He handled your crap really well, and flashed a whole lot of money. The women have got to be swarming him. And you know it."
Petrov growled. "You two are idiots, and I want the man to call me back Real Soon."
"He'll show up when he wants to, he always does." Andre snorted. "Usually isufferably smug, occasionally with a hangover, or like he pulled a muscle."
"Probably in bed." Nikoli added.
Petrov turned a stalked out, looking pissed.
Andre sighed. "I wonder what Axel actually does?"
"And how many women are involved."
Nastasya retreated to an empty room and closed the door before she started laughing.
They were perfect . . . and probably purely by accident. They can't possibly have an inkling that Axel is Igor, can they?
And was I ever off about what he did while he was away for days, weeks, or a couple of times, for months.
But having a Councilor mad at Axel, and thus even more likely to confiscate everything His Lordship owned is not good. In fact, it's a bit unnerving.
Especially if they go after Axel.
She popped up up Axel's apartment . . . no one home . . . then up to the cramped attic space under the eaves of the four floor.
Pauli was there, and looked around, unsurprised.
"Pauli . . . what if they go after Axel? Or claim ownership of everything Lord Vladimir owned at his death? I . . . was wondering if you could, like, shift the date of our sale back before that? No?"
"T-too m-many witnesses, all the bank people who know we're the fee for the work done. Th-the best I can do is get into the R-registry and switch our numbers with other people's, and change our histories. We could disappear."
"You could give us a new owner. Maybe that Lord Artemey who owns AIV Enterprises?"
"Hmm . . . if they dig d-deep enough . . . I'll m-m-make an all new identity f-for an owner." He grinned. "D-do y-you w-want to ch-change your n-name?"
She brightened. "Ranger, from my Grandmother, who was a Native of some English Speaking World. But who owns us? Some excentric millionaire? Better have a Russian Family name."
Pauli snickered. "Ign-natov. A G-german name would b-be all right, too. V-von Ricter?"
"Ignatov's funnier. But maybe a common German surname? NOT Axel. How about Max?"
"M-max Ign-natov. I l-like it." Pauli grinned. "H-he's a-an exc-centric . . ."
"Artist!" Nastasya grinned. "I wonder if Lord Axel can paint?"
The snickering Pauli turned back to his computers.
"And when you're done, maybe you should take all this equipment to the warehouse too?"
Pauli shrugged, already deep into hacking who knew what government files.
Nastasya slipped back out. Pulled out her phone and didn't read the message again. I have no idea how to respond to a policeman who sounds like this is a date, not an investigation.
She looked down at her white shirt and black pants. And I swap to black dress with white apron when I was to look like a maid. I need a professional looking outfit, when I'm being an Executive Secretary.
And that dress I've never dared wear where a lecherous Lord might see me. Which is to say, never.
She swallowed and tapped in an acceptance.
Oh. My. This is my first real date.
And he's so handsome.