“That should be enough to put you down,” she said quietly.

I rolled my eyes. “Didn’t we already play this game?”

She stared out the window. “Yes, but I cheated last year. This time we both drank the same poison.”

“Fuck off,” I said. But her words were making my head spin again. I needed pizza.

She kept talking. “I put the roofies in there the moment the ConCom called. Figured you’d join me for a drink sooner or later.”

The train lurched, and both of us grabbed our armrests. Shit, I really was feeling disassociated now. But only because Lexia was fucking with me.

“You drank a lot more than I did,” I insisted. “Plus, I outweigh you by ten pounds.”

“Yeah, but I use those things to get to sleep these days.” She yawned. “So I have at least an even chance of waking up first.”

I shook my head, trying to clear it. But red spots were drifting into the roomette now, hovering at the edges of my vision.

Shit. She’d really done it.

I reached for my Walther. “You won’t wake up if I shoot you.”

Lexia laughed. “But you’re about to pass out, T-Moon. Not a good time to commit murder.”

The roomette was really spinning now. I gritted my teeth and pulled the pistol out. “Maybe, but if you’re dead you can’t take the money.”

She stared down the barrel and smiled. “And when my conductor pal finds my body in here, that briefcase full of cash just might be considered evidence. The ConCom’s screwed, even if they eventually prove it’s theirs.”

I blinked away spots, trying to think. But the rattle of the train was tangling the situation. How had I been so stupid. Poisoned twice by the same woman!

Finally the gears in my brain caught, and I waved the Walther at her. “Your handcuffs, put them on.”

“Ah, yes, the handcuffs.” She shook her head, her words slurring now. “I have other plans for those.”

“Get them out or I’ll shoot you!”

“We already covered that.” She settled back into her seat. “Why not take a fifty-fifty chance of waking up before me? You might get the money and save the con. Flip of the coin, roll of the die. I think that’s the properly neutral good thing to do. Me? I’m going to sleep.”

I watched in horror as she made a pillow of her Peacekeeper jacket, settling in for a long night. My brain was shutting down fast now, the red dots spreading into a roomette-filling haze, my fingers going numb around the Walther’s grip. The rattle of the train grew louder, crowding the worry, fear, and anger from my mind….

I got my gun back in its holster just before the darkness came.

Temptress Moon rose up the wall of the Keep, her cloak of weirding blending with the shadows. Her fingers slipped into cracks and crannies, her split-toed boots tickling the ancient stones as she climbed. Iron watch-birds flitted past unseeing, their clockwork insides rasping like a potter’s wheel.

She reached a window, slipped through. Inside should have been utter darkness after a sky crowded with two full red moons, but set in Temptress Moon’s eyes were jewels of persistent vision, and the room sprang to life, every corner sharpened with their facets.

She stared at her victim on the bed, pausing to listen to his breath, slow and steady. He was naked, his arms ribboned with tattoos, hair streaked with green, the bedclothes coiled around him.

The jewels in her eyes revealed hexes of protection scattered on the floor, and she danced closer, like a child making a game of not stepping on cracks and discolored tiles.

Beside his bed, Temptress Moon hesitated. They’d built this Keep together, having slain the glass dragon whose teeth made the rose window of its chapel. Bare-handed they’d strangled the dire wolf whose skull lay in its flagstone, and carpeted the great hall with their bear-killing expeditions in the north. Uncountable creatures fought side by side; it was a shame it had to end like this.

But she drew the long knife anyway.

She raised it high, the marks of old magic shining on its blade. But suddenly the room splintered, her vision fracturing like a spun kaleidoscope, the floor rolling underfoot. Waves of nausea and dizziness pounded against the walls of the world, a roar filling her head like the rumble of a train.

Her victim rolled over and smiled up at her.

“Shouldn’t have drunk that vodka,” he said. “What were you thinking, Temptress Moon?”

She tried to answer, but her mouth was full of ashes.

Waking up was slow and winding. My head pounded, and my tongue seemed to have expanded to the size of a turkey leg. Something was kicking me, and I grunted at it.

“There you are.” Lexia’s voice.

I forced my eyes open and she came into focus, my Walther PPK/S in one hand, the briefcase in the other.

“Crap,” I murmured. The sun flickered through the trees outside—in the east, morning already. I’d been out for more than twelve hours.

My arms and legs were tingling, the life squished out of them. As I tried to sit up, metal bit into my left wrist. Lexia’s handcuffs rattled, attached to the armrest.

“Crap!” I cried.

“No yelling, now. I don’t want to have to shoot you.”

I glared at her, considering screaming for help. But Lexia had been willing to drug me last night, even to drug herself. Risking a bullet to test that chaotic resolve didn’t seem like a great bet.

Besides, with my head throbbing like this, yelling was a painful prospect.

“Why are you still here?” I said. “Why aren’t you at Grand Central throwing money at people?”

She pushed stray hairs away from her face. “Just woke up. Haven’t had a chance to get off, but we’ll be in Jacksonville in a few minutes. Besides, we never did get a last kiss the first time I poisoned you.”

Lexia was holding the Walther too casually; I considered making a grab for it. But the pins and needles in my legs were fading, and suddenly I felt the Taurus PT138 holster strapped to my ankle….

My expression must have changed.

“What?” she said. “Those handcuffs bringing back fond memories?”

I shook my head slowly. “No, it’s just that I finally won the argument.”

“In what sense?”

“This proves you’re not chaotic good. You’re not anything but self-interested.”

She squeezed the handle of the briefcase. “You don’t know what I have planned for this money, T-Moon.”

“Alms for the poor?” I made a fist with my right hand, trying to wake it up. The outskirts of a small town were flitting past the window—Jacksonville getting closer.

“More interesting than that.” Lexia smiled. “A little social experiment. You’ll find out sooner than you think.”

“Can’t wait.” I shook my right hand, forcing blood back into the fingers.

The train began to brake, and more tracks sprang into being alongside ours, coursing like serpents around us. We were almost at the station.

Lexia stood, keeping the Walther leveled at me. She lifted the briefcase. “No shouting till the train pulls out, or someone might get hurt.”

“I’d rather catch you myself, which I will.” I narrowed my eyes, flexing my fingers. “Sooner than you think.”

She smiled, pushing the gun into one jacket pocket, her hand still closed around it. “We’ll see who catches what, T-Moon.”

The train had almost stopped, the platform empty outside. Lexia probably could have gotten away, even if I’d started yelling.

But it wasn’t going to come to that. The moment she turned to slide the door open, I reached down and drew the Taurus.

“Don’t go, Lexia.”

“Sorry, but I—” Her voice caught when she saw the gun.

She let the door slide shut behind her and leaned against it. I could see the Walther pointed at me from inside her jacket pocket.

“Now this,” she said with a smile, “is getting chaotic.”

We sat there, face-to-face in our roomette, northern Florida passing by.

“I keep telling you,” she said. “I don’t have the key. I left it at home.”

“Bullshit, Lexia.” I yanked at the handcuff. “Where is it?”

“But I wasn’t planning to let you go. And obviously it’s to my tactical advantage not to have the key. Didn’t you search me?”

I frowned. I didn’t remember seeing any key, but wouldn’t it have been stuck in the handcuffs?

“And anyway,” she said. “Why would I let you have it?”

“Because otherwise I’ll shoot you!”

“Bang, bang, bang,” she retorted. “Just shot you back before I died. And my gun’s way bigger.”

“They’re both my guns, I’d like to point out. I bet you don’t even know how to flick the safety off.”

“Bet you I do,” she sing-songed, then glanced out the window. “Listen, we’ll be pulling into Palatka, Florida, at 8:18. We need to get this squared away before then.”

“Squared away?”

“Like, what do you want?” She thumped the briefcase. “Forty percent?”

“No, I want all one hundred percent of it—delivered to the rightful owner!”

She sighed. “Yeah, like that’s going to happen.”

We glared at each other for a while. Adrenaline had taken the edge off my roofie-and-vodka hangover, but I needed desperately to piss. I couldn’t help but wonder if Lexia’s handcuffs would let me close enough to the squalid folding toilet. Maybe the threat of an attempt would make her produce the key.

But I needed to hold on to my last shreds of dignity.

We sat there for long minutes, staring at each other. Either one of us could have started shooting, and the other would’ve been too late to retaliate. But that’s the reality of standoffs with guns, I suppose. If anybody really wants to pull the trigger, it happens right at the beginning.