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.”Amira smiled again.“But if the government of Chile realized this was the world’s largest meteorite and not just some ordinary iron deposit, it might take a dim view of your operation.”“A ‘dim view’ is an understatement.We might all get shot.”“A fate you barely escaped smuggling the Atacama tektites out of the country, right?” Garza asked.Throughout the meeting, Garza had remained friendly, showing none of Rochefort’s hostility or Amira’s sardonic attitude.Still, McFarlane found himself coloring.“We took a few chances.It’s part of the job.”“So it seems.” Garza laughed, turning over the sheets in his folder.“I’m amazed you’d consider going back there.This project could create an international incident.”“Once Lloyd unveils the meteorite in his new museum,” McFarlane replied, “I can guarantee you there will be an international incident.”“The point,” Glinn interjected smoothly, “is that this must be carried out in secrecy.What happens after we conclude our part of the business is up to Mr.Lloyd.”Nobody spoke for a moment.“There is one other question,” Glinn continued at last.“About your ex-partner, Dr.Masangkay.”Here it comes, McFarlane thought.He steeled himself.“Any idea what killed him?”McFarlane hesitated.This was not the question he’d expected.“No idea,” he said after a moment.“The body hasn’t been recovered.It could well have been exposure or starvation.That climate isn’t exactly hospitable.”“But there were no medical problems? No history that might have contributed?”“Malnutrition as a kid.Nothing else.Or if there was, I didn’t know about it.There was no mention of illness or starvation in the diary.”McFarlane watched Glinn page through his folder.The meeting seemed to be over.“Lloyd told me to bring back an answer,” he said.Glinn put the folder aside.“It’s going to cost a million dollars.”McFarlane was momentarily taken aback.The amount was less than he had expected.But what surprised him most was how quickly Glinn had arrived at it.“Naturally, Mr.Lloyd will have to sign off, but that seems very reasonable—”Glinn raised his hand.“I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood.It’s going to cost a million dollars to determine whether we can undertake this project.”McFarlane stared at him.“You mean it’s going to cost a million dollars just for the estimate?”“Actually, it’s worse than that,” Glinn said.“We might come back and tell you EES can’t sign on at all.”McFarlane shook his head.“Lloyd’s going to love this.”“There are many unknowns about this project, not the least of which is what we’re going to find when we get there.There are political problems, engineering problems, scientific problems.To analyze them, we’ll need to build scale models.We’ll need hours of time on a supercomputer.We’ll need the confidential advice of physicists, structural engineers, international lawyers, even historians and political scientists.Mr.Lloyd’s desire for speed will make things even more expensive.”“Okay, okay.So when will we get our answer?”“Within seventy-two hours of our receipt of Mr.Lloyd’s certified check.”McFarlane licked his lips.It was beginning to occur to him that he himself was being underpaid.“And what if the answer’s no?” he asked.“Then Lloyd will at least have the consolation of knowing the project is impossible.If there’s a way to retrieve that meteorite, we’ll find it.”“Have you ever said no to anyone?”“Often.”“Oh, really? Like when?”Glinn coughed slightly.“Just last month a certain eastern European country wanted us to entomb a defunct nuclear reactor in concrete and move it across an international border, undetected, for a neighboring country to deal with.”“You’re joking,” said McFarlane.“Not at all,” said Glinn.“We had to turn them down, of course.”“Their budget was insufficient,” said Garza.McFarlane shook his head and snapped his portfolio shut.“If you show me to a phone, I’ll relay your offer to Lloyd.”Glinn nodded to Garza, who stood up.“Come this way, please, Dr.McFarlane,” said Garza, holding open the door.• • •As the door hissed shut, Rochefort let out another sigh of irritation.“We don’t really have to work with him, do we?” He flicked a clot of purple jelly from his lab coat.“He’s not a scientist, he’s a scavenger.”“He has a doctorate in planetary geology,” said Glinn.“That degree died long ago from neglect.But I’m not just talking about the man’s ethics, what he did to his partner.Look at this.” He gestured at his shirt.“The man’s a loose cannon.He’s unpredictable.”“There is no such thing as an unpredictable person,” Glinn replied.“Only a person we don’t understand.” He gazed at the mess on his fifty-thousand-dollar Accawood table.“Naturally, we’ll make it our business to understand everything about Dr.McFarlane.Rachel?”She turned to him.“I’m going to give you a very special assignment.”Amira flashed another sardonic smile at Rochefort.“Of course,” she said.“You’re going to be Dr.McFarlane’s assistant.”There was a sudden silence as the smile disappeared from Amira’s face.Glinn went on smoothly, without giving her time to react.“You will keep an eye on him.You will prepare regular reports on him and give them to me.”“I’m no damn shrink!” Amira exploded.“And I’m sure as hell no rat!”Now it was Rochefort whose face was mottled with an expression that might have passed for amusement, if it had not been so laced with ill will.“Your reports will be strictly observational,” Glinn said.“They will be thoroughly evaluated by a psychiatrist.Rachel, you’re a shrewd analyst, of human beings as well as mathematics [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]