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Mother Nature, hidden, working at her own schemes somewhere in the mantle of
the planet. But, said some, what if it was the machine? Worse yet, what if the
machine and Mother N. were working in some unholy alliance?
There was nothing he could do about it. He tried to return to his immediate
duties. First he put in a request to Lena for a formal review of possible
damage to the station by the jolt. By midday, he was putting the finishing
touches on the first draft of his report of Stafford's disappearance the
disappearance that had suddenly become a nondisappearance. The others were
right: In the big picture, his report would be moot. He needed to supply some
written record to keep the bureaucracy off his back, but his official role had
been reduced to irrelevance. Except that now, Annie had put this bomb in his
hands and thrust him back onto center stage.
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Throughout this mess, he reflected, Annie always had her goals laid out, while
he was always improvising. But her determination seemed too simple. It was as
if she could avoid uncertainty merely by announcing a reporting objective. She
was ever the journalist, with a one-track mind. It must be nice, he thought,
just to hop around the solar system asking questions, cavalierly making
friends and enemies, taking responsibility for no one. Having no planet
depending on you.
And Stafford had a point: The scientists would, in any case, soon report the
discovery anyway. Even
without Sturgis's spooks, they would have kept the discovery quiet for months,
getting the bugs out, getting it just so,putting together their just-so
stories. This whole crisis about beating Sturgis's deadline was the kind of
issue he hated, manufactured by those looking for some moralistic point to
outrage themselves.
Why not stop whining and let them release their report in a few weeks, by the
end of March. Maybe he should go talk to Stafford. Get a commitment that they
would put it out on time....
There was even the chance that Annie was bluffing. A small voice urged him to
consider that while her code might be real, she might not have any
automatically timed message in files. It was another one of her ploys to
sucker him in, use him to get the story out. He put away the thought. He
didn't want to think about her this way.
By late morning, the seismic triangulations had been refined. The original
tremor and the continuing tremors originated directly below the far node of
the alien device.
"You know what I'm going to do when this is all over?" Philippe was being his
expansive self, at lunch with Carter. "I sketched plans last night while you
were, um, occupied." He smiled. "I would like to make a monument at the
present day pole.
They left their monument. We should leave ours. A real pole. Big, .aluminum,
right at the true pole of rotation, homage to their tubes, or whatever they
This was when Annie came by. She listened for a moment. "What's the point,
Philippe?" she challenged him. "Right now, we've got..."
"The point? It will be there for all time, just as their monument is. Two
species' monuments. Besides, it will confuse the hell out of the next species
to visit Mars, a billion years from now. Figuring out the relationship between
the two installations." Philippe's eyes sparkled. "I don't want it to be too
Still... it ought to be a pole. The pole that marks thesouth pole . In the
long term..."
"For me," Annie interrupted, jokingly, "I don't care about the philosophy
anymore; I just want to get
Sturgis where I want him."
Carter glanced around the room. He had seen some of Sturgis's crew sitting at
a table, dressed slightly too neatly. No one seemed to be hearing them.
Philippe stared at her, hard. "Look, this discovery will come out, one way or
another. Four hundred years from now, what will people remember about this
year? The pitiful political issues surrounding the discovery? No. The
discoveryitself, and what we do with it. That is why I do what I do. I sit [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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