“Look Max, I’m a scientist,” said Silversmith. “My job is to feed German astronauts when they take the hooked cross to Mars. Frankly, I’m a long way from being able to do that and not getting any nearer.”
Henkel’s eyebrows slid together in what Silversmith hoped was thought.
“I can’t get it out of my head that whatever’s in that pod might help me to find an answer.” Silversmith sighed, the archetype of a scientist puzzling over a problem.
“Surely you would have been told if there was anything useful to you?”
Silversmith nodded. “Perhaps if the connection was obvious, but I’ll bet the decision wasn’t made by a biologist. I doubt whoever decided I can’t have the information has much idea who it might be useful to.”
That much was probably true. The SS were obsessive about controlling information. Silversmith had known scientists to struggle with problems for years because the information needed to solve them had been classified.
Henkel shook his head, but without the conviction his commanding officer would have demanded. “I can’t tell you, James.”
Silversmith made himself feel it as a hand of friendship spurned. He turned back to his flasks and allowed the hurt to seep into his voice. “Suit yourself. I expect we’ll crack it somehow.”
Silversmith’s shoulders were tense with the knowledge of Henkel floating behind him, but it wasn’t the time to turn round.
“Come to the communications pod after this evening’s broadcast.”
Silversmith turned. Henkel wore the face of a man who had jumped out of an airplane without knowing whether he had a packed lunch or a parachute strapped to his back. He turned and pulled himself out of the pod.
Silversmith sighed. If he’d been trying to seduce a woman, he’d have given it up as too much bother long ago. He wanted to lean on something, but microgravity wouldn’t let him. He allowed himself to relax into a semi-fetal position.
Next week: Friends
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Cover by Manda Benson