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Canada has always scared me. Anyone familiar with my writings knows this. And for as much as Canada scares me, Quebec pisses me off all the more. Which is why Lester figured I'd be safest there: "There's no way Psanofax is looking for you there!" he told me.


"Because you hate it there."<table width="25%" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" align="right"><tr bgcolor="#000000"><td> </td></tr><tr><td>From Flare's "Normal Lives" column by Dr. Duke Rollo</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#000000"><td> </td></tr></table>


"Nobody'd think you'd ever go to Quebec for anything but a story."

"Lester, my entire life is a story."

"Just do it."

"Okay, but there's no way I'm going to Quebec City - not with that jackbooted PU camp still lurking around in there."

"Fine. Go to Montreal."


I can only assume this is what I get for publicly insulting a rich, Teragen-backed drug lord who makes narcotics from his M-R node. Considering my MO, I'm surprised I haven't had more death threats.

Five hours later, I'm sitting in the hotel lobby of the Escolamia Hotel, about as disgustingly rich and drenched with nova-money as you can possibly get. Exactly the kind of place you'd expect Yr. Corresp. to be banned from a priori. Perfect hideout, says my brain. When running from quantum powered drug lords and their quantum powered hitmen, one must always seek cover in opulence. The rich are so paranoid, they've got better security than Narcosis's underwear drawer.

Nevermind the fact that Lester thought it'd be a good idea for me to enlist some nova bodyguards of my own during my stay, and since the escolamia is the HQ for this branch of the Triskelion's enterprise, I hoped I was in the right place. And since I still had my expense account with ViaSoft up and running, I figured why the hell not? Just in case Psanofax and his ubernose caught wind of me in the blustery north.

Should I have even bothered to ask myself if the Canadian novas would be more civil than their PU or US or UK counterparts? sigh

I was told Frederic Aruzan looked like Caestus Pax. Of course the person who told me that had just snuffed up the last of John Belushi's long lost hidden stash, so I wasn't paying much attention, especially since I'd already pocketed a couple days' worth of the vintage blow. But that was before I crossed the border and Canada's drug-sniffing dogs. Nothing like staring down fuzz with cotton shoved up your nose.

I was led into Aruzan's office by a somber looking femme whose name I did not catch, and was greeted by one of the best examples of novahood I'd ever seen. At nearly six feet six inches and built like an Arabian Atlas, Frederic Aruzan is a capitalist's wet dream: chic Armani suits and Italian neckties, solid mahogany furniture and an original Renoir on the wall. And no eufiber to be seen anywhere except the OpNet cable to his computer. Aruzan's parents emigrated to Montreal when he was a baby, so the only languages he spoke were French, English, and ducats. Words poured from his mouth like rain on glass and nothing seemed to faze him. Not even my current predicament.

After listening intently, he picked up the phone and summoned the legendary Triskelion novas Wrinkle, Gemini, and Mr. Excitement himself - Spiral. Filling in the gaps were two (later three) Chandler Foundation hired thugs, one being the I'm-more-nova-than-you Chance, and rockstar cum superspy Raiy "Darkwave" Clouser. (Only later did I meet the hyper cyberninja known as Spyder.) I guess Voodoo and Azrael, the other two on-call Triskelion novas, were busy, which is a good thing. The last thing I needed after being chased up here by a nosy nova is to deal with a couple of mouthy ones. Azrael is known for being as witty as he is pious and Voodoo for being as obnoxious as he is slutty - so I'm going to quietly count my blessings. One, two, three. Done.

Let's get one thing straight about the Triskelion novas: They lack so much in the professionalism department they make Slider's murder look classy. Wrinkle is typically tightassed in that "I'm just doing my job," sort of way, and Spiral is just as tight-lipped. Gemini is an uncharismatic, self-centered bitch, who decided that mocking me was much more pleasurable than doing her job. I've been protected by everyone from DV Elites to, as much as I hate to admit it, Team Tomorrow, and not once did I even have to worry about where I was going. I reveled in the fact that I could go where I pleased and be sure I was safe - as opposed to being locked up in a limosine in a new suit and my hat buried under a stifling fedora. Had the lot of them been paying any attention, the car never would've been tossed in the air like a tennis ball waiting for that Andre Agassi quantum smash.

Needless to say, the Triskelion novas weren't paid. I wish I could say the same about the elites.

Of course it all worked out in the end. I survived thanks to Wrinkle's timestop power and even though I missed the battle itself, it was very cool to see that boor Spiral laying face down in his own blood from the beatdown one of my would-be assassins comitted to him. Afterwards I was unceremoniously dropped in an Escolamia penthouse suite with a French maid at my beck and call and all the escargot I could eat.

No sooner had I turned on N! to see Psanofax's ugly hide being carted off to jail, than there was a knock on my door. On the other side was none other than DW, who wholeheartedly apologized for his colleagues' behavior and offered to take me out clubbing. Finally - real professionalism.

So after finishing off the last of my snails, I hopped into DW's rented Jaguar and we headed for Ste. Catherine's Street. Montreal, despite its geography, is my kind of town. Any city that won't build a skyscraper bigger than Mount Royal must be run by saints. Leave it to the Canadians...It's also a nova hotspot, particularly for troublemakers, newlyerupteds, and taint buttered monsters. Better yet, novas that favor law and order over anarchy and chaos can make a killing here - what with the Montreal PD's standing bounty of $400 Canadian for anyone who brings a rampaging mitoid in, dead or alive. There are some Montreal novas who actually file their taxes with the occupation of "mitoid whacker."

And Montreal's quantum population isn't rife with corporate bores either. With hot tickets like the Taker (who'd rather traumatize crooks than kill them) and New Jacques asskickers like Shadowalker, as well as pro-secession terrorists like Drago, Montreal is constantly entertaining. I'm surprised N! doesn't have a bigger building.

In fact, one group NOT represented is Project Utopia. Word on the street is that Aruzan could suck Pax dry (stop right there) from across town faster than that Bangkok whore did Saxon, but we won't go there. This could explain PU's wholesale clearout of Quebec (stragglers aside), and maybe why 'Topia isn't looking very hard for new prime Quebecois real estate. Competition's too fierce. The empty front of the old M-R facility in downtown Montreal is a beautiful sight.

Of course, secession has taken its toll on the economy, dividing Montreal's citizenry (egads, most of the province) into two halves: the filthy rich, and the dirty stinking poor. This translates into: If you have an M-R node, you're probably rich or you fake it real well. If not, you're either a hanger-on or one of the scurrying working class trying to make it across the underground mall first before the last tube leaves. This intrinsic division of wealth is key in understanding the emotional state of your typical Montreal native. It's become home to the surliest of commoners and the angriest of artistes. Constantina Zavinovich has an apartment here somewhere. DW won't tell me where.

Suffice to say, the youth culture of Montreal is as dark during the day as it is at night, and the legendary Fouf's on Ste. Catherine's East looks much scarier than anything found in Justin Achilli's seminal "Tourmandia" twelve volume vampire snooze fest.

"Wait a minute," I said as we pulled into a parking space near the club, "Is that a guitar I hear?"

"Yeah, it's pretty much all skew and terr'r up here," DW replied.

Stop the press! Have I actually found a place that doesn't play the DJ Faiz remix of Proklamationn's cover of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love?" DJ Extacy is nowhere in sight!

"Not his usual stomping ground," DW grins, carefully shoving the pre-release copy of Wasteland's remix album (compelte with Extacy's version of "Your Century Dies") under the car seat.

I grit my teeth and enter Fouf's three floors of sonic mayhem and attune my nerves to the pants-wetting terr'r vibes of Lacefisher, the Crypt Roses, and yes, Wasteland. DW high fives some nameless baselines and drags me upstairs to the second floor where the main dancefloor is. There, in a corner looking like a Count Orzaiz wannabe, is Wrinkle, who is far more pleasant to me once he doesn't have to protect my ass. Chance is there too, but she's more interested in seducing the spooky goth bois into becoming her next victims in some quasi-Pagan sex/death ritual. Or at least that's what I imagine bedding the gun-toting beauty is like. DW tells me he's taking an extended rest period during the downtime before the release of Wasteland's fourth album to suck in the haute couture Quebecois life. He adamantly states he's not using the time to do drugs, and even says that he and his bandmates have never done drugs. Don't be fooled. Rock stars are all the same, even the novox ones.

Of course I tell him this and he smiles.

But if he didn't mean it, then he lied, because there were NYC-Thanksgiving-Day-parade-sized tickertapes of acid being passed around which he and I vehemently avoided. No way in hell was I going to try French acid.

Fouf's is no Amp Room, and for that I'm glad - but it's getting there. DW was kind enough not to leave my side throughout the night and even bought me drinks. And I got to see close-up just how a nova can work a crowd. He and Wrinkle were throwing around enough charisma and dollars to keep even the Terminatrix happy, and when a brawl broke out between two foxy nova ladies (Stone Rose and the second coming of Innocence Wyld), DW and Wrinkle handled it with little more than a few kind words and soothing, uh, gestures. Apparently every woman in Montreal is bi or at least wanting the attentions of a nova that badly to appear so. Needless to say, Yr. Corresp. was a bit out of his league next to the nova celebs. My wife would've had a field day.

After that, DW invited me back to his sinbin of an apartment, which looked like a jade palace that had been magically transported to a suite at the top of the Marriott. I guess DW is fabled for having exotic tastes, or maybe it's just his Asian heritage, but in either case, when he opened the door, I was besieged by the aroma of indeterminable spices and incense (which had been abused by vodka and gin for the previous four hours) and my eyes met a bevy of drop-dead gorgeous women who just seemed to be there. The room began to fill shortly thereafter and the orgy I witnessed was the kind of stuff Andre Corbin would be jealous of. Numerous nova luminaries wandered in and out of the scene including the "shoot-first-who-needs-questions?" nova merc Versus, the Triskelion member who didn't save my ass today Voodoo, and the aforementioned Innocence Wyld.

The entire time, DW sat in his private bedroom, door closed, bottle of Penzoil next to him, playing classic Playstation video games.

I just might come back here.

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