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.How we use xrays to make an asteroid fluoresce and reveal its chemical composition.The x-rays from this solar flare would have been very helpful to us if we were only close enough to the Belt.""But a nuke?"Fuchs spread his hands."Merely an example of how to produce x-rays and gamma rays on demand.An example only.I have no intention of bringing nuclear explosives into space.""I don't know," Dan said, scratching his chin."You might be onto something.Maybe we could talk the IAA into letting us use nukes as sources for spectroscopic studies."Fuchs looked aghast.Dan laughed and slapped him on the shoulder.Fuchs saw the joke and grinned weakly back.Dan's mood darkened as he edged down the narrow walkway in the aft end of the module.He did not like the thought of being exposed to hard radiation.He had taken a lifetime's worth of radiation back in his earlier days, working in space.Much more of a dose would kill him, he knew.It wouldn't be an easy way to go, either.As he lifted the covers protecting the electron guns' innards and checked them for the eleventh time since they'd launched out of lunar orbit, Dan thought, Maybe Stavenger's right.Get a jolt of nanomachines, let them clean up the damage the radiation's done, rebuild me from the inside.So I won't be able to go back to Earth.So what? What's down there that I'd miss so much?He knew the answer even as he asked the question.Sea breezes.Blue skies and soft sunsets.Birds flying.Flowers.Huge ugly brutal cities teeming with life.Vineyards! Dan suddenly realized that no one had yet tried to grow wine grapes off-Earth.Maybe that's what I'll do when I retire: settle down and watch my vineyards grow.The intercom speaker set into the narrow walkway's overhead carried Pancho's voice."Dan, you ready for me to light up the guns?"The electron guns were just as good as they'd been all the other times he'd inspected them.Closing the cover on the one on his right, Dan answered, "You may fire when ready, Gridley."Pancho retorted, "I don't know who this Gridley guy is, but I can't rev up the guns till you close both their covers and seal 'em right and proper.""Aye, aye, skipper," Dan said.By the time he made it back to the bridge, Pancho was nowhere in sight.Amanda sat alone in the right-hand seat, and the bridge was rocking to the beat of high-intensity pop music.As soon as she saw Dan come through the hatch, Amanda snapped the music off."Pancho's in the loo," she said as Dan slid into the command-pilot's seat."How's the storm?""Precisely on track." Amanda tapped at one of her touchscreens; it displayed a simplified map of the inner solar system, the orbits of Earth and Mars shown as thin lines of blue and red, respectively; the position of Starpower 1 was a blinking bright yellow dot.A lopsided gray miasma was almost touching the dot.Dan's mouth went dry."I hate these things," he mumbled."It missed the Earth completely.Mars, as well.""But it's going to swamp us.""Actually," Amanda said, "we'll merely be brushed by it.A few hours, that's all.""That's good.""Our own velocity is helping a lot, you know.An ordinary spacecraft, coasting along the way they do, would be in the cloud for days on end."Dan had no desire to be in the cloud for even ten minutes.He changed the subject, as much to get away from the fear building up inside him as any other reason."How friendly are you and Fuchs?"Amanda's brows shot up."Lars? He's very earnest-about his work.Nothing more.""That's all there is to it?""Yes."Dan thought it over.Two healthy young people locked in this sardine can for a couple of weeks.Of course, there's Pancho and me to chaperon them.Dan grinned to himself.Damn, it's like being a teenager's father.Pancho returned to the bridge."Hey boss, get outta my chair.""Yes'm," said Dan.The plasma cloud hit them less than an hour later.There was no buffeting, no clanging of alarms, nothing to tell them that they were being engulfed in the cloud of killing radiation except the rising curves of fire-engine red on the radiation monitoring screens.Pancho did not consider the storm so dangerous that someone had to be on the bridge at all times.She came into the wardroom and joined the others for dinner.Dan ate mechanically, not really tasting his food, not really hearing the conversation.Double-damned radiation, he kept thinking.I hate this.Despite two steaming mugs of coffee, he felt cold inside.But the others seemed completely unfazed by the storm.After the meal Dan said good-night to them all and went to his compartment.He dreamed of floating helplessly in space, slowly freezing as the Sun glowered at him.NANOTECHNOLOGY LABORATORYLong past midnight, Kris Cardenas sat alone in her office in Selene's nanotechnology lab.The rest of the lab was empty, darkened to its nighttime lighting level.She had agreed to have dinner with Martin Humphries because she wanted to get the man to warn Dan Randolph about the nanomachines that she had planted in his vessel, virus-sized disassemblers that once were known as "gobblers."They were the reason that nanotechnology was banned on Earth - and under careful supervision at Selene [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]