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"Okay," Lois said to her cellphone, "He told us some of that, but thanks for letting us know." She disconnected and put the phone back in her handbag.
"Anything important?" asked Clark, coming in from the kitchen with bowls of soup and a loaf of bread.
"Cat," said Lois. "Telling me about Yu's divorce settlement."
"A little late. Didn't she know?"
"Apparently everyone thought that he owned the collection, so when they separated they just assumed he'd keep them. But in reality his wife was the big collector, Yu was just buying them for her."
"He can't have been too happy about that," said Clark, dipping bread into his soup.
"According to Cat the collection was valued at a little over three million. But the total divorce settlement was about seventy-five, if he hadn't handed over his share of the swords he would have just had to give her something else. The yacht, maybe. Must be nice to be that rich."
"Eat your soup," said Clark, "paupers like us can't afford to waste food."
Lois flicked a chunk of bread at him, he caught it effortlessly and dunked it in his bowl, then paused with it half-way to his mouth and said "I wonder where she is right now."
"Cat? She was calling from the Planet."
"No, Yu's ex-wife. Is she going to be bidding in the auction? Yu was after a Toledo Salamanca before the divorce, maybe she still wants it."
"I'll call Cat back and ask," said Lois.
"Eat first." said Clark. "When you talk to her, see if you can get her current name and a description."
"Do you think she could be the killer?"
"It's not impossible. She'd have to be really fit, but Yu's an athlete, maybe his wife is too."
* * * * *
"An athlete?" said Cat, slowly spinning round in her chair. "Sure, she plays tennis, and she fences.... About five-nine, five ten, taller in heels... No, I don't think so, let me double check." Cat picked up the latest list of guests invited to the auction and leafed through it. "She's not listed, but I've got a hunch... yeah, the Metropolis Museum is bidding and she's on the board of directors. She's gone back to her maiden name, Chelsea Newman... Okay, talk to you later. Oh, wait a second, Jimmy said to tell you that Pennyworth was in the SAS. He resigned in seventy-one, went to work for Wayne's father, and stayed on after he died."
Lois rang off, and Cat nibbled her lip, a little worried. It didn't sound like Lois and Clark were getting any closer to the killer, and she really couldn't afford to drop more hints. She thought for a moment, then stretched, a move that attracted most of the male eyes in the office, and shouted "Jimmy! I need you to dig up a couple of unlisted numbers for me!"
* * * * *
"Why is Kerensky dodging us?" Lois asked two hours later, as they crossed the nearly empty car park at Metropolis Stadium. "That's four times we've missed him so far. We've tried his hotel, his company's offices, the airport, and the stadium, we don't even know where he's going next. He must have something to hide."
"Maybe," said Clark, "but I'm just getting the impression he's really busy. He's trying to buy the Cubs, he's brokering deals in Russia and the USA, and he seems to like the hands-on approach to business. He probably doesn't even know we're trying to reach him."
"That or he's a multiple murderer," said Lois.
"Sure... but why would a murderer make himself so conspicuous?"
"That's right," said Lois, "confuse me with logic." They reached her Jeep, and she reached into her bag for her keys. There was the roar of a powerful engine, and a maroon Rolls Royce Phantom V swerved across the car park towards them. Clark moved in front of Lois, ready to protect her if it tried to run her down, but at the last second the driver slammed on the brakes, made a bootlegger turn, and slid into an adjoining space.
"What the heck..." said Clark.
The rear door of the Rolls Royce opened, and a stocky man in a grey suit got out and said "Clark Kent? Lois Lane?"
"That's right," said Clark.
"My apologies, Vanya learned to drive in an armoured battallion, he doesn't always remember that this isn't a tank. I'm Paul Kerensky."
"We thought we'd missed you," said Lois.
"You did," said Kerensky, "but I had to call my office and they told me you were looking for me, after that I just retraced my steps a little."
"Thanks for taking the time," said Clark.
"I can spare twenty minutes," said Kerensky, "then I have to leave for my next appointment. Come into my car, it's more comfortable than the car park."
Lois hesitated, then at an almost imperceptible nod from Clark said "Okay." She guessed that he'd scanned the car and hadn't seen anything suspicious. "This is a beautiful car," said Lois, taking one of the folding rear-facing seats to get a better view of Kerensky. Clark took the other.
"They're surprisingly cheap if you buy them second hand in Britain," said Kerensky. "Of course the shipping and insurance are a.. a bitch, as you say. I have one here, and another in Moscow."
"Your English is very good," said Clark.
"I learned it in the army, it's a useful skill if you're going to go behind enemy lines. But they trained me for the wrong enemy, it wasn't much use in Afghanistan. Now then, we have.." he glanced at his watch "...eighteen minutes left. What did you want to know?"
Lois took the lead for the next few minutes, covering his past and current business interests, then Clark asked some questions about his plans for the Metropolis Cubs. Eventually Kerensky said "All of this you could find out easily enough without an interview, and it isn't a big enough story to be worth the time of Lane and Kent."
"Okay," said Lois. "Have you heard about the decapitation killings?"
"Of course. Am I a suspect?"
"Not especially," said Clark, "but we're looking at everyone who might be bidding on the Toledo Salamanca tomorrow night. There's a theory that the killer might be after it."
"Or plan to kill whoever wins it," added Lois.
"Well, I don't expect to win it," said Kerensky, "Bruce Wayne wants it and he has has a deeper pocket than I do. Yu and Ben Ishmael are after the sword too, of course. But I'll be bidding on other things... the Hockney, and some of the other antiques, I think I'll be lucky there."
"So why bid on the sword?" asked Clark.
"Why not? For all I know the others will drop out, and if it's expensive and someone else wins it they'll have less money to bid against me in the other auctions."
"What about the other bidders?" asked Clark. "Ramirez, for example?"
Kerensky shrugged. "I suppose that if Superman can fly a pig can too, and Ramirez will win the sword when pigs fly. If he's heard that the murderer wants it he won't be bidding much."
"Nobody seems to have a high opinion of him," said Lois. "Why is that?"
"He's scum. Oh, everyone will be cordial to him tomorrow night, but he won't be invited to their homes. If the murderer really is after the sword I'd love to see him win it. But it won't come to that." He glanced at his watch, and added "And now, I think, our time is almost up. Are there any more questions?"
"Do you fence?" asked Clark.
Kerensky laughed, and said "Nothing so gentlemanly, I'm afraid. I was trained to kill, not play games. Now if you'll excuse me?"
"Thank you for your time," said Lois. They climbed out, and Kerensky said a few words to his chauffeur in Russian. He leaned out of the window and said "Will you be at the auction?"
"We wouldn't miss it for the world," said Clark.
"Then until we meet again..." The Rolls Royce glided away.
"What was that he said to the chauffeur?" asked Lois.
"Told him to drive to Pennyworth's apartment."
"Those two are definitely up to something. What did you make of him apart from that? Any reactions to your questions?"
"Nothing," said Clark.
"That's odd," said Lois. "Most people would react to being told that someone might want to kill them."
"Most people aren't fitted with a pacemaker."
"He's got a pacemaker?"
"From the scars I'd say he was hit by shrapnel. Must have clipped his heart. I'm not sure he'd be up to a strenuous activity like fencing."
"Darn it," said Lois. "I was sure it would be him. Wait a minute, what about the driver?"
"Artificial leg," said Clark.
"We're going round in circles here," said Lois. "The killer has to be pretty fit, and has to have been in Metropolis for more than a week. None of them match the profile."
"Then the killer isn't going to be bidding, or there's something wrong with the profile."
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