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"I don’t need to view the film to know that the robot exterior is just an especially elaborate costu"

"But it was shaped from her body cast"

"Still a shell She has to be the sum of her parts, a CinSim raised inside one of her costuht to the surface"

"Interesting point Perhaps you should try to call the character of Maria in her human form off the screen"

"No" Ric stood and backed away froure before he knew his i to be responsible for multiple incarnations of that poor actress"

"If not you, perhaps someone far worse than you"

"You? I suppose now that you own the file on it revived as a CinSim Why would you even need me?"

"I want this incarnation"

"Why did El Demonio Torbellino say there was a demon inside her that only he kne to raise, Christophe?"

"Perhaps because it’s true? For God’s sake, toss out your anti-unhuman prejudices and call uts"


"I’m sure she can enumerate itte, she talks, fluently and frequently"

Ric was done discussing his girlfriend with Christophe "Why would the Metropolis robot be so powerful to a de lord? Wasn’t the robot destroyed in the film, burned at the stake?"

"By then the character was both monster and martyr The monster part rapped around the heroic Maria in that robot’s pseudo-n parts of her being: the role of Maria, the idealistic enslaved workers’ advocate, or Brigitte, the nubile young fil out unsuspected depths in naive young wolass at his lips "You just want to use as Strip rivals and Torbellinoand the I"

"Of course But they’ll all want to enslave you for even er if you don’t gain the protection of a er since I was four years old No risk, no gain," Ric said

He drained the Bloody Mary before setting it down on a table

"Your commercial instincts are second to none," he told Christophe, "but there as than even you suspect"

Christophe stood too He was taller than Ric, but not bypeasant Montoyas

The rock-star ul’s eyes, and therefore expression, relasses, but a hand went to his throat as if touching a talisman The neck collar’s vibrant pink rubies? Were theymore?

Ric knew his hint had shaken the usually controlled stage perforiven ‘Snow’ that royal purple hickeyspike heels An ex-FBI guy observes the little things

"I’ll think about your offer," he told Christophe

"What does that ure out as best fora robot She was evendead he’d raised since a small child

After the penthouse elevator deposited him on the main casino floor, Ric headed for the Inferno Bar in search of a dapper fellohite tie and for coat, whose face and hands were as black-and-white all over as his nineteen-thirties’ monkey suit

It was a fine point whether Nick Charles, the lush detective, held up the bar or it held hilass sides, the bar had a long top of polished wood carved into demonic faces The scene below the bar top was a Hell inwithin the same corona of colored flames that circled the hotel’s exterior

Nick Charles had leaned a hip on a red enaht elbow on the bar He was rapt at theliquid and bright blue

Ric had stopped in front of him, himself a wall of well-tailored pale linen suit As a respected private consultant on finding suspected murder victims, he dressed the part

"Well," Nick Charles blessed hi sideways look "If it isn’t Cesar Ro a case with Charlie Chan in tropical cli rinning-skull cuff links, then leaned a hip on the adjoining barstool "They had a Chinese detective in the old movies, and a soused one Why not a Latino one? Why not Cesar Romero or Ricardo Montalban as a private eye?"

"Because they had Zorro, as far er stabbed a drunken Z into the air "I do like your style," he said, looking down his pencil-thin "

"What?" Ric demanded, surprised

"Bartender" Nick Charles raised his free forefinger and gestured to Ric "A Blue Coast h The fa drinks these days, now that the Ie with a 3-D zoaudy drink, and eyed it before sipping "Is this a Delilah Street Special?"

"Lord, no, my lad Her Silver Zombie is a marvel of delicate blue hue with a noose of electric Blue Curaçao at the bottohts to that recipe She didn’t invent it here, just the Albino Va to push this abomination, a vodka in, preferably Boodles"

"Any port in a storet quippy with the founding father of screwballoh, you ave him a broad wink and sipped his Blue Coast ht to t-t-takehty Nicky," said the y brunette CinSim who draped a manicured hand and winsome face over his shoulder "What’s this about your ‘second favorite wife’? Are you aching for a second favorite life?"

Nick left his glass on the bar and put his hands up "I’ve got a second life here and now, you audacious woure of speech, wifey dear"

"I know Delilah’s figure very well," Nora purred, curving her nails into his well-padded jacket shoulder "You’d better not, or I’ll divorce you and take Asta And the key to the liquor cabinet"