matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,

_Space Marshal_ part 20

Chapter Spike Reports

“They actually managed to refurb the old mining equipment.”

Spence snorted. “They aren’t stupid, just lazy, Spike. Brief moments of violence beats the daily grind. Little Tony must be kicking ass. They’ll find it, won’t they?”

“Yeah. Soon, in fact. But . . .” Spikes voice faded in-and-out as the two communications laser systems tried to adjust the tight beam between the two moving ships. “. . . Little Tony knows there’s more, and he’s going to be pissed when he realizes that we only hid the first find where we said we were hiding it all.”

Spence pondered the problem. “If he’s got some really good machinists and electrical engineers, he’ll be able to duplicate what we’ve got. We’ve got a year at the most of technical advantage.”

“And he’s got a head start, having been there, and all.” His second in command’s voice sounded worried. “Are we going to . . .”

“We really can’t. Where Tony’s got the theoretical knowledge and no skill at building, we’ve got the opposite problem.” Spence thumped the instrument panel he was siting at. My ship. Built and rebuilt. Every twenty years a new shell, a new registry number and name. Kind of like me. Like all of us.

But, dammit, the second “improved” version of the microgravity effects treatments didn’t work as well as the first. Everyone but the thirty men aboard the Deep Explorer is aging. More slowly than us, but another decade and they’ll be gone.

And of course, the newest version does exactly what they want it to do. Repair radiation damage to the chromosome, stop demineralization of the bones, and reduce muscle mass loss.

Dee’s DNA report—and mine of course—had “significant oddities.”

So it made genetic changes. Inheritable genetic changes. Only time will tell if I’ve blessed her or cursed her. I told the highly interested Genetic company that I was already aware of my oddities, and would have Dee consult with my doctor who was familiar with the thankfully small health issues.

I hope that satisfies them. Otherwise, if they research it, they’ll run into the government people who will recognize the effects of the early treatment, and know that one of us is still alive. It’ll be a big red flag, and they’ll . . . what? Send someone to kill me?

But then they’ve already got a federal marshal on hand. Gerald’s going to get some unsavory orders pretty quickly . . . he may have already. I waited until two days before we left to send the DNA samples in. Got the news months after we were upstairs.

I guess we’ll see if my judgement of the man is accurate . . . or not.

“Spike . . . I’ll go watch Ceres for a month. Will you stay in Zero? Meet Marshal Fallon. I’m impressed; he’s solid. But I don’t know where he’ll fall on the law versus right issues that are going to impact us all in the next year.

“And watch Dee. I ran DNA tests on Earth. She’s my daughter, and she’s got a lot of irregularities from me.”

A long silence. “It’s genetic, then.”

“Yes. Of course I’ve left a trail that could turn myth into a kill-on-sight order, and endangered all of us.”

“Well, relocating would be irritating. Other than that, we don’t really care. And what if it goes the other way? Once the news of the fine gets out, their reason for lying about us, locking us all up, would be gone. It’d be nice to not have to sneak around.”

“Don’t hold your breath. This may be the year everything falls apart . . . or it could be the year the Asteroid Belt begins to pull together and form a civilization out here.” Spence closed his eyes briefly. Please. Let us finesse our way through this, the upside potential has never been greater.

A snort form Spike. “Cities in space as opposed to forts in a wilderness with itinerant miners and pirates? Will do, General. I’ll slide a bit closer, so I can get to Zero tomorrow. And keep an eye on things.”


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