Bladerunner in 1567.

That Saturday night reminded me how stupid I was for staying in Cosimo's Firenze. And after Cosimo'd accepted my resignation. And let me out of prison. Rain hammered down. It might've been hammering down since the Dark Ages. It hammered heads down, hunched shoulders over. It hammered Florentines over into question marks. I knew the answer, if they were asking what Cosimo Medici planned next for their Jewel on the Arno.

I was out of the rain, mostly, my back to the Gates of Paradise, the east doors of the Baptistry. I was staring over a soaked-through handbill I'd snatched from a boy two torchlit streets away to hang over my head as an umbrella. It might've proclaimed revolution for all I cared. Reading was for clerics anyway. Not for a former golem hunter. I was waiting for standing room across the piazza at Luigi's. Luigi cooked up noodles that might've been half straw. It was a cold night. Anyway, the straw would be hot.

Luigi had noticed the handbill, and me. In Cosimo's books, Luigi was little people. Little people were afraid of anyone looking over a handbill. A couple of guys made a hole in front of Luigi. He waved at me. I started across, holding the handbill over my head. Hard yellow light, like the sun coming out, passed over the piazza. One of Cosimo's Leonardo airships, its propellers blattering, swinging low for the Arno docks. It made a hole in the night. The rain quit stinging the hand over my head. I dropped the handbill, legged it inside Luigi's.

Steam rolled out from two cauldrons behind the crowded stand. The steam felt good. Luigi smiled his three teeth. I pointed two fingers at the pale meatballs. He turned, ladled some in a wooden bowl. "And noodles," I said to his back.

Luigi passed me the steaming bowl, a spoon stuck through one of the meatballs. I passed him money with Cosimo's face on it. I started slurping Luigi's hot straw. The broth might’ve been hot rain. With a little salt in it.

Portuguese. I recognized the voice. Captain Adama. He was braying Portuguese at my back. I didn't work for Cosimo any more. I didn't turn around.

Adama worked over Luigi. Luigi nodded. He was trying to hold his smile. "He wants you to go with him. He says're...golem man."

I stared the smile off Luigi's face. "Tell him I'm eating."

Adama said, "Cosimo."

I smiled. Cosimo wanted me. And about time.

The End

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