“Angela, the best results seem to be from types three theta and seven alpha,” Lucas reported. “But it doesn’t look like either one is going to work as a cure. I’m gonna try and make a new series based on those two. Possibly find something that works well enough.”
“Good luck,” Angela said. “Paul and I will keep working on this. We’ll just have to hope for a break through in time.”
“We’ll have one,” Lucas said. “I mean, look at this team. This is a good, strong team. You’ve just gotta believe.”
He hurried off to his work.
“An optimistic young man,” Paul said.
“It’s one of his strengths,” Angela said. “And he is excited to be working with you. He was always reading your papers during his time at University. When your license was revoked by the Alliance, he led several demonstrations in protest.”
“He studied in the Alliance, then?” Paul asked.
“Until his final year,” Angela said. “He finished on Akumil.” She turned around. “James, must you loiter in my door?”
Paul turned. The security officer who’d escorted him was still sitting at the doors.
“Sorry, Ma’am,” he said. “Your wife’s orders. Nonea the Cerberus crew are t’be loose without an escort.”
“Femi ordered that?” Angela asked. “I’m sorry, Paul, she’s having some trust issues over this whole incident.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Paul said. “Won’t be the first time we’ve been supervised during a job. Now, let’s get this done.”
Grace arrived in Turing’s Engineering block, ignoring the guard who was watching her. There weren’t many people about. There were only around a half dozen. They were taking orders from a woman with a prosthetic right arm.
Grace approached her and extended a hand. “Grace Albrecht of the Cerberus, are you in charge?”
She looked down at Grace’s hand, studied Grace for a moment, looked back at Grace’s hand and then shook it. “Siya Vallja. Just in charge for the moment. Normally, Meiling is in charge overall and Torn is in charge of the weapons block.” She brushed her long hair back with her hand. “I’m normally just in charge of robotics.” She looked at Grace intently. “I’ve heard that the Cerberus has a sentient robot on board.”
“We did,” Grace said. “She’s on a leave of absence.”
“Oh,” Siya said. “Pity. I would have liked to meet her.”
“I can show you some of the schematics that were used in her development,” Grace offered. “They’re pretty amazing. Speaking of, that’s an impressive prosthetic. It doesn’t look like any I’ve seen before.”
“Oh, this?” Siya asked. “I started with a regular V-64 series model, and then I used it as a base to design my own. Turing is going to make a deal with a manufacturer to put these on the market.” She opened and closed her hand. “Completely responsive and it carries sensations to your brain like an ordinary arm would. But it’s nothing compared to some of our projects. You show me your robot’s schematics and I’ll show you some of our more impressive ones.”
“You, Madame, have a deal,” Grace agreed.
“Are you interested in seeing anything in particular?” Femi asked. She scrutinised Leon, Farah and Lucy.
“I’d love to see the source of your paranoia,” Lucy said. “I mean, you invited us here to help and you’ve been ever so cold. So, why don’t you just let it out and tell us what your problem is?” Her yellow eyes opened very slightly.
Farah was about to step forward and try to keep the peace when she felt Leon’s hand on her shoulder. She looked back at him and he shook his head, slowly.
“I have no problem,” Femi said. “I’m just concerned about you being exposed to the virus.”
“Don’t give me the diplomatic answer!” Lucy demanded, opening her eyes further. “You don’t trust us. I’d go so far as to say that you were even against the idea of bringing Doctor Albrecht in to help but you were over-ruled.” She paused. “No, not over-ruled. You went along with it because your lovely wife was keen on the idea. Isn’t that right, Mrs Ziegmari?”
Femi turned away from her, “Yeah, that’s right.”
“Umm, Femi,” Farah said, keeping her voice as soothing as she could. “We won’t understand your objection if you don’t explain it. Do you not like mercenaries?”
“It’s not that,” Femi said. She sighed. “If you really must know, the truth is that this virus didn’t infect our station by accident. Someone put it here.”
“So what?” Leon asked. “Now you just don’t trust anyone?”
“She’s not crazy,” Lucy corrected him. “There’s a specific reason she’s worried about us. Our ties to Akumil, perhaps?”
“That’s right,” Femi confirmed. “Just before the virus broke out we had a visit from an akumillian delegation trying to persuade us to ally with them against the Alliance. We declined and now… now my mother is sick. My daughter is infected and my wife is working herself ragged trying to find a cure.”
“You think the akumillian delegation infected the station!” Farah declared. “But they wouldn’t, would they?” She looked at Lucy.
It was about twenty seconds before Lucy answered. “Not in such an obvious way, no. Mrs Ziegmari, could you show us the rooms where the delegation stayed and the logs for your recent visitors? Maybe we could find out what happened.”
“And why should you do that?” Femi asked. “To clear your names?”
“Because we like helping!” Farah cried.
“Not like we have anything better to do,” Leon muttered.
“All of those,”Lucy said. Her eyes closed and she turned to Femi with a smile. “You can keep observing us. Would it really hurt to let us have a look?”
“Fine,” Femi said. “Follow me and I’ll show you the area.”