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High Justice

His name was Aeneas MacKenzie, he was thirty-eight years old, and his life no longer had a purpose. He was skilled in the law and could easily join some firm where he could spend his life protecting the wealth of clients he detested; and he thought it would be better if a Mafia contract, or a CIA termination order, prevented that.

Either rescue was possible, but neither was very likely. He was no longer a threat to the Mafia, no matter that he had done them much harm in the past. Revenge was seldom profitable. His murder might create problems and alive he was no problem to them at all.

There was a better chance that a professional would be sent from the Agency. Aeneas would be a threat to President Gregory Tolland as long as he lived. Aeneas knew there were dedicated and loyal men who would make any sacrifice to protect the President; the man who killed him might be Aeneas' friend. Tears would not spoil his aim; they would not have made Aeneas miss.

Melodrama, he told himself. And yet: Aeneas MacKenzie had destroyed a President. Years of corruption had been swept away by Greg Tolland and his dedicated young man; but then Aeneas had traced the tentacles of the Equity Trust right into the anteroom of the White House. His grand jury had emptied the Executive Office of the President as efficiently as plague. Neither Equity Trust nor President Tolland would ever forgive that, but for different reasons. Tolland was honest. Aeneas believed that still.

"Why?" the President had demanded. "You've been with me for sixteen years, Aeneas. You elected me! Why did you do this to me?"

"When you made me Solicitor General, you ordered me to clean house. Duty and honor, Greg. Remember?" And Aeneas had writhed at the pain in Tolland's eyes, but his gaze never wavered, and his face never lost the grim, dedicated stare that had become familiar to every American with a TV set.

"You could have told me first, Aeneas. We could have worked quietly. God Almighty, did you think I was part of that? But now you've ruined me. The people have no confidence in me—three more years I'll be in this office, and the people hate me. Do you know exactly what you've done?"

And Aeneas wanted to shout that he did, but he said nothing.

"You've robbed the young people of their birthright. You took away their confidence. You've told the people of this nation that there's no one they can trust, and probably assured the election of that gang of crooks we spent all our lives trying to break . . . . You could have come to me, Aeneas."

"No. I tried that. I couldn't see you, Greg. I couldn't get past that barrier you built. I tried."

"But not hard enough. I should have known better than to trust a fanatic . . . . Get out of here, Aeneas. Just leave."

And Aeneas had walked away, leaving his only friend sitting in the Oval Office with his plans in ruin.

But with the country no better off, Aeneas told himself bitterly. We have no goals beyond comfort. The people are decadent and expect corruption. You have to rub their faces in dirt before they get upset. Then, of course, then they demand blood; but how much of their righteous indignation comes from guilt? How much is sorrow because no one ever offered them a price?

The jet began its gut-wrenching descent into La Paz. Below were the sparkling colors of the Sea of Cortez, dark blue for deep water, lighter blue in the shallows, the brilliant white of the shores; incredible reds where the coral reefs were close to the surface, creamy white wakes in the great bay where ships endlessly came and went. Beyond the bay was the sprawl of a city, ugly, filthy, but alive, growing and feeling greatness.

"The harbor is large enough to hold all the navies of Christendom," the conquistadores had reported to the king of Spain; and it was all of that. Giant cargo vessels, tramp steamers, ferry boats from the mainland; ships everywhere. Industries had sprouted around the bay, and great haciendas with red-tiled roofs dominated the heights of Espiritu Santo Island. Railroads snaked north to the Estados Unidos del Norte, that colossus which so dominated Mexican thoughts and so thoroughly dominated the Mexican economy . . . .

Only not this time. Aeneas smiled bitterly. That had been one of his defeats. The miracle of Baja California was wrought by a power independent of the United States . . . or of Mexico, or anyone else.

It was hot on the runway. The airport, rebuilt when the expansion began, was still too small; and there was a bewildering variety of temporary sheds. MacKenzie felt heat rising from the runway to meet the hot sun from above; in August the trade winds do not blow in La Paz. He saw the high-rising buildings, but he remembered another Baja and another La Paz. It was all long ago, and the boy and girl who had struggled over rutted dirt roads, dove in the clean blue waters among crimson reefs and darting fish, camped under bright tropical stars—they were gone like the cobblestone streets.

"Señor? Señor MacKenzie?"

The man wore expensive clothing, and there was the bulge of a pistol beneath the embroidered shirt which hung loose below his belt. He displayed a badge: not the serpent and eagle of Mexico, but the design of Hansen Enterprises. Not far away were men in uniform and weapons belts, both the khaki of the Mexican police and the light blue of Hansen service. Aeneas smiled ruefully. Getting Mexican permission to have her own police on duty at La Paz airport must have taxed even Laurie Jo's ingenuity; but little she did surprised him now.

"The Doña Laura Hansen regrets that she could not meet your aircraft, and asks that you come with me," his guide said. "She is inside the terminal." He led the way through Customs so quickly that Aeneas wasn't sure they had passed them; and that was strange, because now that los turistas were not Baja's only source of income, Americans were none too popular here.

The terminal was a maze of marble and concrete and wooden scaffolds and aproned workmen, art treasures, and unfinished masonry blended in a potpourri of sights and smells like every expanding airport, but different. Aeneas wasn't sure how, the differences were subtle, but they were there: in the attitudes and postures of the workmen, in the quality of the work, even the smells of the paint.

Pride, Aeneas thought. They have pride in what they are building. The nation has pride and so do these craftsmen; and we've lost all that.

They went upstairs and through one of the unmarked doors that seem to be standard features at airports. Suddenly they were in a luxurious VIP lounge: and she was there.

Aeneas stood silently looking at her. Her hair was red now; it had been red when he knew her before, but most of her recent pictures showed her as a blonde. Not terribly pretty, but yes, more beautiful than she'd been when he knew her. Filled out. She'd always been very thin. She still was, but it was graceful now, and more feminine. Proper exercises and the most expensive clothes in the world wouldn't make a plain girl beautiful, but there were few women who wouldn't be improved by them.

He knew she was only two years younger than he was, but she looked ten years younger. Money had done that.

His guide stood embarrassed as they looked wordlessly at each other. "Señor MacKenzie, Doña Laura. Or—he led me to believe he was the Señor MacKenzie." He put his hand very close to his pistol, and he eyed Aeneas warily."

Her laugh was as fresh as when they'd come out of the waters of Bahia Concepcion to lie on the beach. " 'Sta bien, Miguel. Gracias."

Miguel looked from Aeneas to his patrona, and backed toward the door. "Con su permission, Doña Laura."

She nodded, and he left them alone in the elegant room. A jet thundered off the runway outside, but there was no sound here. There was nothing he could hear except his own heart, and the memory of her laugh erased sixteen years of defenses. The heart pounded loudly, and hearts can break, despite what surgeons say. Aeneas knew.

"Hello, Laurie Jo."

She moved toward him, and he hoped she would come to him; yet he prayed that she wouldn't—not again. It was long forgotten, and better so. "You wanted me Doña Hansen?"

"I've always wanted you with me, Aeneas. I thought this time you'd burned so many bridges you'd have to come."

"And you were right. I've no place left."

"You should have stayed with me. What have you accomplished with your crusades?" She saw the pain in his eyes. "No. I didn't mean that. Will you believe me when I say that I wish I'd been wrong? I've always wished I'd been wrong about Greg Tolland." She turned and swept a hand around the paneled room. "I'm forgetting my manners. Is there anything I can get you? A drink? You—I wish you wouldn't stand there with that suitcase."

So she remembered that too. That was how he'd stood the last time; but it hadn't been in an ornately paneled room with deep carpets, only the cheap student apartment in Los Angeles that they'd shared. And how does she remember those days, when she wasn't Doña Laura Hansen, and we sang and made love and hitchhiked around the country? . . . "What did you have in mind, Laurie Jo? What does Hansen Enterprises have for me?"

"Anything, Aeneas. Anything you'll take."

And she meant it, he knew. But the offer wasn't as generous as it seemed: she wouldn't attach any strings, but his daemon would. It was the only public story about him that was completely true: Aeneas MacKenzie, the man who never accepted a job he wouldn't do, the single-minded robot who'd sacrifice everything to duty . . . .

"If you don't want a drink, we should be leaving." she said. "We're due in Cabo San Lucas in three hours, and that's two hundred kilometers . . . but you know that."

"I know that."


It was all changed. There had been a paved road south from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas for as long as Aeneas could remember, but it had been the only one in lower Baja; now there were dozens. The city of Todos Santos was sending out tentacles onto the surrounding hills, and there were no longer burros on dirt roads; now, huge trucks loaded with agricultural products roared past.

"But there are still horses," Laurie Jo told him. "Horses with great leather saddles and silver trim, and the vaqueros ride them proudly . . . . Remember when we thought how grand it would be if every rancher had a fine horse and saddle? Now they all do."

"And you did that."

"And I did that."

But at what a cost, Aeneas said silently. What price a proud and honest culture? A way of life? But it was a way of life that included disease and early death, children carrying well water in buckets because there wasn't enough money for piping and pumps, and the withe and mud houses with palm thatch roofs were very quaint and kind to the ecology, but they didn't keep the bugs from gnawing the children at night . . . .

Now those were gone. Concrete block, poured concrete, aluminum roofs, floors of concrete and not dirt, screen doors—they had come to Baja. And the children sang in schoolyards, and they were healthy, and the land was dying as land always dies when desert is irrigated.

"They're mining the soil, Laurie Jo. It can't last, and you know it."

She nodded. They drove smoothly on black pavement past straight green furrows of cotton and soybeans; once they had come here in a Jeep, and the land had been chaparral and sentinel cactus and incredibly thin cattle whose bones jutted out as if they were dying, but they weren't, they were a hardy breed who could live on the scrub brush . . . . "It can't last, but something can. We've brought hope and progress, and we'll see that—" but she couldn't finish and he knew why. There was no cure for dead soil but time; and these people's grandchildren would live among strangers. Not even Hansen Enterprises could keep Baja fertile for more than a few generations.

"Remember this grade?" she asked. Miguel drove the big Cadillac smoothly so that it hardly faltered; but they had babied the Jeep up that rocky hill with its interminable switchbacks, some so narrow that the rear of the car hung far out over the edge as they reversed to ease around the sharp turns.

At the top of the rise they saw the end of Baja laid out like a map: the grey Pacific to their right, and beyond land's end a sharp line where the Pacific waters met the bright blue of the Sea of Cortez. Hills along the shore, and the red tile and palm trees of resort hotels everywhere, green oases on the sandy beaches.

The town of Cabo San Lucas was at the very tip of the peninsula: just beyond it were high, rocky hills, and over them the stormy Pacific. The hills curled around a bay that had once been so lovely Aeneas had cried when he saw it.

He could cry again: the bay was choked with ships, and the pueblo was gone, replaced by rows of town houses, high-bay industrial sheds, a city with the heart and soul of Los Angeles in its days of frantic expansion. And north of Cabo, along the Pacific shore, where the water came in cool and clear, were the reactors: domes fifty meters high, twelve of them, each with its attendant blockhouses and power plants and sea-water ponds where the chemicals of the sea were extracted. There was a vast jungle of insulators and spidery cube towers and finned transformers spewing forth a web of thick cables leading to a line of transmission towers marching inland and northward toward La Paz and ultimately the whole 1600 kilometers to the energy-starved United States.

Laurie Jo moved her head in a sidewise jerk, a peculiar tic to her left ear. She'd done that before, and she saw Aeneas looking at her curiously. "Implant," she said. "I was asking for the time. Miguel, take us to the observation tower."

"Si, Doña Laura."

"I hadn't known," said Aeneas. "But I should have guessed. How do you ask questions?"

"I merely think them." She indicated a little console in her purse, and a panel at her side in the car. The panel swung down to reveal a computer input console. "My implant is keyed to these, and there's a data link from the car to any of my plants. I've asked them when the next scheduled launchings are, and we're just in time. You've never seen one, have you?"

"Not live." He wanted to think about what she'd told him. The implants weren't common—at over a million dollars each, they wouldn't be. A little transceiver, wired directly into the nervous system, a short-range computer link. Provided that she had access to a transmitter—the one in her purse was very small and could be manipulated without anyone seeing it—Laurie Jo could know everything known to the largest computer net on earth.

She could ask it to solve any equation, look up any dossier, find the commercial strength of any company, and hear the output directly and silently. "That must be useful at board meetings," said Aeneas.

"Yes. Most of my colleagues don't know about it. Will you keep my secret?"

"Of course."

"And my other secrets? If I show you everything, will—will you use it again? Or are your crusades against me ended?" Her eyes were very blue and she was very close; and Aeneas knew what she was doing. She had deliberately driven him over a route they'd taken seventeen years ago, and she'd done her hair the way she had then. The linen suit she now wore wasn't like the jeans and chambray shirts of years past, and she'd never again have the eyes that Laurie Jo Preston had; Laurie Jo Hansen had seen too much. But she could try.

"What would be the point?" Aeneas asked. "I won my crusade. We liberated Jerusalem." And it had been as it must have been for a true knight of the Middle Ages: how could he rejoice when he saw his comrades wade in blood to the altar of the Prince of Peace? When he saw the Chivalry of the West grubbing for lands in the Kingdom of Jerusalem? "I no longer have weapons to fight you with."

"It's not enough. Aeneas, I want you to look at what I've done. I want you to see the choices I have. The real choices, not the theoretical ones. And when you've seen all that, I want you to join me. But I can't even try to convince you unless—Aeneas, I owe it to my colleagues not to bring a spy into their councils."

"I see." And he did see. She had always been as certain that she was right as he'd been convinced that her way was wrong; and his way had fallen. He had no duties. The thought broke over him like one of the great grey curling rollers from the Pacific. I have no duties. It made him feel alone and uneasy. "I promise. Your secrets are safe."

"No matter what you see? And no matter what you decide?"

"Yes." And that was that, as they both knew. Aeneas cursed himself for allowing his emotions to betray him . . . but she was Laurie Jo, and she couldn't have changed that much. She couldn't.

God, let me be able to join her. Let it always be like this. Because the last two hours have been the happiest I've had in sixteen years.


The tower overlooked a valley ringed by low hills. A forest of cardones, the great sentinel cactus, marched down the sides of the hills to the leveled plain below. Rail lines and huge electric cables snaked through at either end; the plain was filled with concrete blockhouses where the power cables terminated. At the end of each blockhouse was a flat mirror a meter in diameter, and they all pointed toward the installation below them where streamlined cylinders squatted on railroad cars.

The spacecraft were two meters in diameter and five times that tall, and as they waited in neat lines for their turn they reminded Aeneas of machinegun ammunition grown swollen and pregnant; but their progeny was not war.

Everyone in the tower had been politely respectful, but harried; now they had no time for visitors. Hansen Enterprises carried no dead weight. There were no explainers, not even when the owner came to watch the operations; perhaps especially when Laurie Jo Hansen was present. Aeneas and Laurie Jo were alone in a small, glass-enclosed room, while below a dozen hard-eyed young men sat at consoles.

A clock ticked off the seconds. "We have to be very precise," she told him. "The MHD engines give us half the power we need, but we have to draw the rest directly from the line. There'll be dimouts all over Baja.

"And it costs," Aeneas said.

"Yes. Three thousand megawatts for an hour. At twenty cents a kilowatt hour."

"But you get part of the power directly."

"From burning hydrogen in old rocket engines and sending it through an MHD system. Yes. But the hydrogen and oxygen have to be made. That part of the operation is less efficient than just taking the power from the line, but we have to do it. We can't take everything off the line when we launch." She looked fondly at the capsules below. "We get a lot for my six hundred thousand dollars, Aeneas. Eighty tons go into orbit in the next hour."

The first of the capsules moved over the embankment enclosing the launch area. A roar from beyond the low hills signaled the beginning of the rocket engines: giant engines, but they lay on their sides, their exhaust directed down ceramic tubes protecting copper coils that drew power directly from the hot gasses.

Aeneas couldn't see the launching mirror below the capsule, but suddenly the spacecraft rose and there was a blinding green beam, a solid rod of light over a meter thick extending from the capsule to the ground. The sound rolled past: two hundred and fifty explosions each second as the laser expanded the air in the parabolic chamber below the capsule, and the air rushed out to propel it upward. The two hundred and fifty-cycle note was oddly musical, but very loud at first, then dying away. The spacecraft soon vanished, but the light stayed on for half a minute, tracking the capsule; then it vanished as well.

The mirrors at each blockhouse pivoted slightly, and a second capsule rose from another launch station. The green light tore through roiled air, and there was a humming roar that vibrated the glass of the observation room until the spacecraft was gone and there was only the silent power of the green light. In the half minute that the second capsule absorbed power, a new spacecraft had been placed on the first launch station. The mirrors pivoted again, and it rose; then another, and another.

The laser launchings had been impressive on TV; live they were unbelievable. The long lines of capsules moved toward the earth and concrete emplacements protecting the launching mirror; they reached them; and seconds later, each capsule vanished at 300 gees, shoved upward by a meter-thick column that was nothing more than light, but which looked like a great green growing plant.

"About a thousand kilograms each?" Aeneas asked.

"Exactly a thousand kilos total weight," she said. "We lose fifty kilos of ablating material. The rest goes into orbit, and that's all payload. Any mass is payload. That's what we need up there, Aeneas, mass, any mass—metal, fuel, gases, tankage, even human wastes. We can convert and modify if we have something to start with."

"And you can launch eighty thousand kilos in one hour . . ."

"Yes. We lose some. Each one of those capsules has to be picked up, somehow. That costs mass. We guide some into rendezvous with Heimdall, but they have to go after most. Still it's cheaper this way—once we start launching, the power scheduling's such that it's better to go on for a full hour."

The lines of capsules had ended; now new ones were brought up. These were longer and slimmer than the others; and when they took their places over the launching mirrors, they rose more slowly.

"Ten gees," she said. "Crew capsules. Ten gees for a minute and a half."

"Isn't that close to human tolerance?"

"Not really." Her voice was cold and distant. "I took it. And if I can—"

He finished the thought for her. "Hansen Enterprises employees will damn well have to. Or starve."

"I want no one who goes only for the money."

They watched the three personnel capsules rise; then the trains brought up more of the unmanned thirty-g cargo capsules, and the pregnant machine gun began again. "And this was what it was all for. Your crusade," he said.

Her smile was wistful, full of triumph and regret. "Yes. I'm not proud of all I've done, Aeneas. You've seen La Paz. Todos Santos. Cabo. Ugly, changed, not what they were when we—not what they were. But the men in Cabo don't go to the mainland looking for work while their families starve. I've done that."

"Yes. You've done that."

"But it was all only fallout, Aeneas. This is what it was for. Heimdall. The rainbow bridge to the stars! And by God it was worth it! You haven't seen the station, Aeneas. And I want you to."

He said nothing, but he looked out at the launching field. The lasers were off now. The great crippled rocket engines were silent. The power from the reactors was back on line, fed to the Baja industries, to Southern California; to the pumps even now cooling the laser installations. To the water-makers that made Baja fertile, for a while. But all that was incidental, because she hadn't lost the dream they'd shared, a dream she'd learned from him in his anger when America retreated from adventure . . . .

She hadn't lost it. He thought he had, once. Not entirely; but he'd been willing to sacrifice it to a larger dream.

Yet what dream was larger than a bridge to the stars?

"And now what?" he asked.

"You've seen what I've done. You don't know what I do to keep it."


"And when you do—when you know everything that's happened in the last sixteen years—we'll talk. Not until then." And her eyes were on his, and he saw the hunger and the loneliness, and he prayed to a God he'd half forgotten that it wasn't just a reflection of his own.


They flew high over the Pacific. There were no luxuries in this aircraft; Aeneas and Laurie Jo sat uncomfortably in bucket seats over the wing, and Miguel sat far behind them. Neither the pilot nor the air crew paid them any attention. The pilot was not pleased to have them aboard, no matter that the plane belonged to Laurie Jo Hansen.

Two armed jets flew high above them. They bore the markings of Hansen Enterprises and were registered in Mexico; and the bribes required to keep permission for a private air force were as staggering as the cost of operating them.

"Why?" Aeneas asked, pointing to the slim black delta shapes above.

"Pirates," she said. "Each capsule holds a thousand kilos of cargo." She took papers from her briefcase and handed them to him. "Computer chips, four thousand dollars a kilo. Water-maker membranes, six thousand dollars a kilo if we'd sell them. We won't until we've enough for ourselves. Concentrated vitamins, forty-five hundred dollars a kilo. And other things. Chemicals, vaccines. Some not for sale at any price."

The value of each capsule in the current drop was nearly seven million dollars. Even in these inflated times that was enough money to make a man wealthy for life. And there would be no problem selling the cargo . . . .

"But how would pirates find them?" he asked. "You can bring them down anywhere in the world."

"They can be tracked. So can my recovery planes. The NORAD radar system watches us very closely."

"But they don't give information to pirates! Not anymore! I put a stop to that sort of thing!"

"Did you, Aeneas? For a while, after Greg became President, the losses stopped; but they started again. Do you want proof?"

"No." She'd never lied to him. "How long have you had proof? Why didn't you tell someone?"

"Who'd listen? Greg Tolland is President of the United States."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

She was silent for a long time. There was only the thunder of the jet, and the chatter of the crew as they watched for the cargo capsules to parachute down from orbit. Finally: "What would I have been to you if I'd given you the proof about Greg, Aeneas? If I'd done that, I'd have lost you forever."

And the White House itself had become the abattoir of his dreams . . . . "We fought you, Laurie Jo. I fought you. I think it gave Greg a perverted satisfaction to have me as his general against you. But—was he right? Laurie Jo, should power like yours exist?"

"Without power, none of this would happen. You can't do anything without power."

"Yes." They'd been through it before, endlessly. "But it must be responsible power! It must be directed for—"

"For what, Aeneas? Something trite, like 'the betterment of mankind'? Who chooses the goals? And how do you see the choice is kept, once made? Responsible, Aeneas? To the people? You tried that."

And that was the new thing in their eternal argument. Before, there had always been Greg Tolland and his People's Alliance. There had been the hope that power would be controlled. Could be controlled.

"Greg was right, you know," she said. "Power like mine can't be neutral. It must be used or it dissipates. He assumed that because I wasn't with him, I was against him—and he was right."

"Or made himself right—" The plane banked sharply and there were shouts. They ducked low to see out forward between the pilots; and far ahead was an orange billow in the sky.

The plane moved swiftly. Hatches opened behind them, and a hook on a long cable trailed out. It caught the shrouds with a jolt perceptible even in that large ship; then the motors sang as the cable was reeled in.

The plane banked onto a new course toward the next parachute. There would be five in all.

"We don't dare miss," she said. "If one of them falls into the sea, there'll be swarms of ships and planes out to get it, and we can't do anything about it. Salvage, the courts call it."

"My doing. It seemed right at the time. I—The enemy was Hansen Enterprises, not you. But why the fighters?"

"To keep this plane from being shot down. There's too little time for the Equity people to get to the capsules before we do. They don't know when and where they're coming down until the retros fire. But there's enough time to intercept my recovery planes."

Her voice was without drama, but Aeneas was startled. "Who flies the interceptors, Laurie Jo?"

"They don't have any markings. Somehow the ships that salvage my wrecked planes always belong to Equity or one of their dummies; but the interceptors are unmarked. I doubt they'll bother this time. We're close to Mexico, and the cargo's only worth thirty-five million dollars."

Only thirty-five million. Not so very much to Hansen Enterprises. But more than enough to buy souls. Most had a far lower price. "And NORAD tells them where to look?"

"Sometimes. Other governments too. Greg Tolland will help any enemy of mine. Look at the situation with Peru and Ecuador. They steal my cargoes with the help of the United States." She was bitter now. The national claims to space above and water beyond the small countries her satellites and cargo drops passed through had been rejected by every international authority: until Greg Tolland had used the power of the United States. "It would have been different if I'd stayed with you."

How different, he wondered. Sixteen years ago: she'd been Laurie Jo Preston, then. An orphan girl, with memories of her mother living far beyond the income she made as a night-club entertainer. And her mother had died, and Laurie Jo knew only a succession of governesses paid by bankers; and a trust fund that dictated what schools she would attend, what courses she would take. At first the bankers ruled her life; but they interfered with her very little after she was sixteen. They'd met at UCLA, the shy girl with her mysterious bankers and no parentage; Aeneas, already consumed with the daemon that drove him to change the world; and Greg Tolland, a young California Congressman with a political heritage that might someday take him to the White House, if he could keep his seat in Congress.

At first, Greg Tolland had worked very hard for his election; but after Aeneas MacKenzie became his field deputy and manager, Tolland did not need to campaign any longer. They had won their second election together when Laurie Jo came into Aeneas' life.

Two years. Two years she'd lived with Aeneas. The bankers didn't care. No one did. They traveled, and sang, and drank too much, and made love too little, and one day the bankers came to say that her name was Hansen, not Preston, and to tell her she had inherited control of the greatest fiscal empire on earth.

Aeneas had gasped at the size of her fortune. All through the day they'd sat at the battered kitchen table of his apartment and looked at the marvels she owned. Greg Tolland flew back from Washington to join them: and came the disaster.

"It must be broken up, of course," Aeneas had said. "It's exactly what's wrong with the world—irresponsible power like that. Economic imperialism."

"I'm not so sure," Greg Tolland had said. "Think of what we can do with a fortune like that. What the People's Alliance can do. Aeneas is right, it's too much power; but we shouldn't be too hasty in deciding."

"I won't be," Laurie Jo said. They looked at her in surprise. "I don't understand what power like this means; but before I use it, I will."


That was the beginning. Greg Tolland saw her fortune as the ladder to short-cut the long road to the White House. Aeneas saw it as the kind of power no person should have. Laurie Jo Preston had no opinions. She'd always agreed with Aeneas. But Laurie Jo Hansen was otherwise.

"Greg only despises power he can't control," she said later. "He'll let me keep mine to use for him. No. I won't break up Hansen Enterprises, and I won't help Greg Tolland gather all power into government."

"Where it will be used for the people!" Aeneas protested.

"Where it will be used. How is not as obvious as that it would exist."

"What do you mean?"

"You want to build something so powerful that nothing can oppose it and hand it over to Greg Tolland. Aeneas, I've always thought you could do that. I've never laughed at your abilities. And I've been terrified every day that you'd succeed."

"You've helped me!"

"Yes. I love you. And I've told myself that by staying with you, I'd have some control over what you two will do when you've won. Now I've got something more substantial."

"You'll fight Greg?"

"No. Unless he deserves it. But I won't help him, either."

And then had come the terrible words. That she saw things differently now that she was rich. That she'd got hers, and to hell with their dreams . . .

The plane banked sharply, bringing him from his reverie. "You chose Greg Tolland," she said. "I couldn't."

He shook his head. "I chose—what? My country? I always thought so." And how must the true knights have felt when their crusade succeeded, and they saw the actuality, not the dreams? Was it true that some went to the Saracens because they had no place else to go?

* * *

When the plane landed near Cabo San Lucas, Miguel drove them to the Hansen hacienda. He seemed to go everywhere with Laurie Jo. Inside she said, "Miguel is nearly the only man I trust. He guards me well."

"Con mi vida, Doña Laura."

"You will protect this man the same way."

"Si, Doña Laura."

She left, and they stood in the low-ceilinged library, Aeneas and Miguel, and Aeneas looked at him for the first time. He seemed vaguely familiar, but he looked like any Baja rancher with an ageless, lined face that could be forty or sixty.

"Welcome, Don Aeneas," Miguel said.

Aeneas frowned. "I ask for no titles."

"Those who do do not often deserve them. It would be enough that Doña Laura says you are a good man; but I have reason to know. You do not remember me, Don Aeneas."


"It was here. Within a kilometer. You gave me a shotgun."

"Oh—the vaquero. You helped us with the Jeep."

"Si. You never returned. There was no reason why you should. But Doña Laura came here the year after you left, and I have been with her ever since."

"And why the titles?"

Miguel shrugged. "I prefer to serve those I believe may deserve them. I have no education, Don Aeneas. I am not a man who benefits from schools. But my sons will never row boats for drunken Americans."

"I see."

"I hope you see. My sons tell me I am a peasant, and they are right. They will not be peasants, and I am happy for them. I hope they will be as happy in their work as I am."

"I of all people should understand, Miguel." Aeneas found the bar and poured a tall drink for himself. Miguel accepted beer. They drank deeply. "She does many things she cannot be proud of?" Aeneas asked.

Miguel spread his hands. "You must ask her."

"I have."

Another shrug. "Some men take pride in acts that make others die of shame. Power like hers must not be judged by men like me."

"But it must be!" Aeneas shouted.

Miguel shrugged and said nothing.


The weeks passed. Aeneas learned that Hansen Enterprises reached places even he'd never suspected. Mines, factories, shipping—everywhere she was entangled with other international firms in enterprises so scattered that no one could ever understand them all. Most were operated by managers, and she saw only summaries of results; and even those took time she barely had.

"You'll kill yourself," Aeneas said.

"I don't work any harder than you did."

"No." But I worked for—for what? The memory of those years was slipping away from him. He recalled the fanatical young man he'd been, but he saw him almost as a stranger. I have no duties, he told himself. I can relax. But he could not. He buried himself in her reports.

"Why do you do it?" he asked another time. "Bribes to keep your mines open. Your agents block labor legislation, or bribe officials not to enforce the laws . . . ."

"Do you think they are good laws? Do you like this fine net of regulations that is settling over the earth?"

He had no answer to that. "Why do you do it?" he asked again. "You'll never need money. You couldn't spend what you have if you devoted your life to it."

"Heimdall absorbs everything . . . ."

"It makes money too!"

"Does it?" she asked. "Barely. Aeneas, even I couldn't have built the power plants. I don't own them, I'm only part of a syndicate. Without the power plants we can't launch, and it takes nearly everything I make to keep up the interest payments on those power installations."

He looked closer at the reports, then, and saw that it was true. Between the power plants and the laser launchers there was so much capital investment that it wouldn't be paid off for fifty years. There were other places the syndicate could have invested its money, operations with a far higher immediate profit; and Laurie Jo had to make up the difference. If she ever failed, she'd lose control.

"Now do you see?" she asked. "In the long run, Heimdall has a greater potential than any investment ever made; but it took so much capital—"

"You're at the thin edge," Aeneas said wonderingly. "It wouldn't take much and you'd lose all this."

"Yes. I'd be a very rich lady; but I wouldn't be Laurie Jo Hansen any longer. I wouldn't have the power." Without the power of Hansen Enterprises—what?

"Heimdall would still exist. It's already profitable. It would ruin your partners to shut it down."

"Certainly. Or they can sell it. Who would you like to see have it, Aeneas? A hundred nations would like to own my bridge to the stars. The United States perhaps? The Equity Trust? Another company? It would be damn easy to get out from under all this and enjoy myself again!" She had become shrill; but whether because of regret at what she'd paid to hold this empire, or terror at the thought of losing it, Aeneas didn't know. He thought it was both. "There's more," she said. "You've seen the books."

"Yes. You're investing in expansions of Heimdall. Sending up mass instead of taking out profits."

She smiled. He hadn't spent long examining her accounts; but he hadn't disappointed her. "Have you wondered why I built the launching station in Baja?" she asked. "It wasn't just sentiment, or politics. We're on a Tropic—and that makes it easier to launch into an ecliptic orbit. Heimdall was the god who guarded the bridge to the stars, but my Heimdall will build one!"

He looked up in wonder. "Where are you sending them?" he asked.

"Not sending. Going. An interplanetary explorer ship. And a Moon colony. A Moon colony can be self-supporting. It can support exploration of the other planets. It will be free of Earth and everything here!"

"Even you don't have that much money."

"I will have. Heimdall will make it for me."

"But you're very near losing it. Your deliveries are behind schedule. Haven't you risked everything on some shaky technology?"

The terror crept around her eyes again, but her voice was firm. She had no regrets. "I had to. And it wasn't technology that failed me. Aeneas, how do you keep discipline in space?"

"I never thought about it—how does any company control workers? Hire people who like to work, and pay them well to do it."

"And if someone pays agents to sabotage your factories? There are no laws in space, Aeneas. Captain Shorey has managed to keep things under control, but only barely. Most of our people are loyal—but some others slip through, and the worst we can do to them is send them down without pay. Suppose they've been offered higher pay to make mistakes aboard Heimdall? What can I do to them? Mexican courts won't prosecute non-Mexicans for crimes in space. American courts won't prosecute at all without trials and witnesses. If I have to send half a crew down to sit around a courtroom for years, I'm ruined anyway."

She came to the window next to him and looked out into the night. "But we're winning. We will win. Heimdall. Valkyrie. The Moon and planets, Aeneas. And now you know it all."

They were in the hacienda atop Finisterre, the rocky hills that overlook the town of Cabo San Lucas. On one side were the lights of the town; on the other, grey water with flashing fluorescent whitecaps. Ships moved in the harbor even this late at night, and factory lights were ablaze below.

Out beyond, in the dark of the inland hills, a green light stabbed upward; more capsules fired into orbit, raw materials for the factories in the satellite, structural materials for expansion, fuel, oxygen, the expendables that ate so much profit despite recycling. The sun was long over the horizon and Heimdall wouldn't be visible; but soon it would be coming overhead. The supply pods were always as close to the satellite as her engineers dared.

"It's time for our talk, then," Aeneas said. "Is there anything to talk about? You're what I've opposed all my life."

"Yes. But you love me. And if you fight me—who are you fighting for?"

He didn't answer.

"I love you, Aeneas. I always have, and you've always known it. Tell me what to do."

"Will you—would you throw all this away if I asked you to?"

"I don't know. Will you ask it? Remember, Aeneas. You can't destroy power. You can fragment mine, but someone else will move into the vacuum. Power doesn't vanish."

"No." And she had a dream. A dream that had been his.

"You don't trust me with all this. Would you trust yourself?"


"Then someone else. Who?"

"No one, of course."

There was no change in her pose or voice, but he sensed triumph.

"Then tell me what I should do," she said.

This time she meant it. He felt that whatever he said, she'd do. She knew him well. She was taking no chances, because she knew what he must say. Forty billion dollars was ten dollars for every human on Earth—or the key to the planets. "I can't."

"Then join me. I need you."


There were no longer barriers, and sixteen years vanished as if they'd never been.


For a week there were only the two of them—and Miguel, silent, invisibly near. They slipped away from Cabo San Lucas and its power plants and factories, to find still lonely beaches where they swam to brilliant coral reefs. Afterwards they made love on the sand and desperately tried to forget the years they'd wasted.

One week and a little more; and then the phones in the camper buzzed insistently and they had to return.

She told him what she could as they drove back. "Captain Shorey has been all the authority I have up there," she said. "The station depends on the ground launching system to survive, but there's nothing I can do to control it."

"You think there's mutiny on Heimdall?" Aeneas asked incredulously.

"I don't know. I only know Shorey is dead, and Herman Eliot says he can't meet the manufacturing schedule. Without the finished goods from the station I can't pay the syndicate. I'll lose Heimdall."

There would be any number of people who might benefit from that. With over a hundred men and women in space, the odds were good that several organizations had agents aboard the satellite factory complex. "How do you select crew for Heimdall?" Aeneas asked.

The Jeep camper bounced across rutted roads toward the main highway. Ten kilometers ahead they'd meet a helicopter.

"I try to pick them myself," she said. "The pay is good, of course. Almost two hundred thousand dollars at the end of a two-year tour in space. We have plenty of volunteers, but not just for the money. I choose generalists, adaptable people, and I try to keep a balance between the intellectuals and factory people. There's a lot of construction work, and production runs mean repetitive labor that bores the big brains. I also look for people who might want to go on to the Moon colony, or be crew aboard Valkyrie. So far it's worked, but Captain Shorey was the key to it. Now he's gone."

"Tell me about Herman Eliot."

"He's been second in command. A mechanical genius. He's in charge of production and research."

"Do you think he's loyal to you?"

"I'm almost sure of it. He wants to go with Valkyrie. But he didn't tell the ground station much. Maybe he'll tell me directly. Aeneas, if I don't keep the manufacturing schedule, I'll lose the station and everything else!" She was near panic; and he'd never seen her frightened before. It upset him more than he'd thought possible.

The Jeep bounced through a dust bowl laced with a myriad of ruts. Wind blew a torrent of fine powder across the windshield, and Miguel had to start the wipers to remove it. The dust ran like rivulets of water.


Dr. Herman Eliot was nervous. It came through in his voice as he reported to Laurie Jo. "We have a nasty situation up here, Miss Hansen. Captain Shorey was murdered and the crew knows it. There's been sabotage all along, now this. Some of the engineers are saying that the Equity Trust is going to gain control of this satellite, and they'll remember who their friends were. There's even talk that people who won't help the Equity cause will be stranded, or have accidents on reentry."

"Tell them Equity will never control Heimdall!" Laurie Jo shouted into the microphone.

"I can tell them, but will they believe it? I repeat, Miss Hansen, Captain Shorey was murdered, and we all know there's no chance the killer will be punished. Who's next?"

"Do you know who did it?"

"I'm fairly sure it was an engineer named Martin Holloway."

"If you know he killed the captain, why don't you do something?" Laurie Jo demanded.

"Do what? I'm no policeman. Suppose we put Holloway under arrest. Then what? We have no jails here, and there's no court that will take jurisdiction over him. I doubt he was the only man involved in this; what if he won't go when I order him down? It could start a mutiny. The crew thinks Equity will gain control here; nobody wants that, but there aren't many who'll risk their necks for a lost cause."

"If you meet the delivery schedules, I keep Heimdall! Don't they know that?"

"If you were only fighting the Equity Trust, Miss Hansen, we could believe you'd win. But not against the United States as well."

She was silent for a long time. Since the United States had thrown away her investments in space, or had them stolen and sold out by corruption, Heimdall had been the key to regaining that position . . . . "Will you try?" she asked.

"I'll do what I can," Eliot said. The speaker went dead.

Tears welled at the corners of Laurie Jo's eyes, but her voice was firm. "I'll go up there myself with a squad of company police!"

Aeneas shook his head. "If things are that bad, they won't even meet your capsule; you can't afford to provoke an open break. Besides, you have to stay here. No one else can control your partners. With you out and away up there you'd certainly lose the station."

"Then what will I do?"

Aeneas drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. It was time to repay the Saracens for their hospitality . . . . "Send up Holloway's file, to begin with. Let's see who we're up against."

He took out the photographs of Martin Holloway as Laurie Jo began to read. "Five feet eleven inches, 175 pounds, hair brown, eyes green, graduated from—"

"It will be lies," Aeneas said. "His name is David Hindler."

"You know him?" Laurie Jo asked.

Aeneas smiled wistfully. "Long ago. Before Greg was President. You remember that Greg's enemies tried to have him killed . . . . David was very valuable then. He saved my life." And I his; we have no debts to each other. But once there was a bond . . . "Dr. Eliot implies that the Equity Trust is behind your difficulties. David is Greg Tolland's man. He wouldn't kill for anyone else."

She said nothing, but there was concern in her eyes; not hatred for Tolland, although that was deserved; but sorrow because she knew the pain Aeneas must now feel. He could never convince himself that Greg Tolland hadn't known . . . .

"Have your people make me a space suit and whatever else I'll need," Aeneas said.

Hope came to her—then it was gone. "You've never been in space. How can you stay alive there?"

"I'm a careful man, Laurie Jo. And I think I see what must be done."

"But I just found you again! It isn't fair, not so soon."

"I'll be back," he promised. "You've always meant to go out with Valkyrie. How can I go with you without experience? Have you anyone else you can trust with this?"


"I'll be back. Soon."

Ten gravities for ninety seconds is easily within the tolerance of a healthy man; but Aeneas had no wish to prolong the experience. He was laid flat on his back in a nylon web, encased in baggy reflective coverall and under that a tight garment resembling a diver's wet suit. The neckseal and helmet were uncomfortable, and it was an effort to exhale against the higher pressures in the helmet.

He had thought waiting for the launch the most unpleasant experience he'd ever had: lying awkwardly on his back, with no control of his destiny, enclosed in steel; then the laser cut in.

He weighed far too much. His guts ached. Like the worst case of indigestion imaginable, he thought. There was no way to estimate the time. He tried counting, but it was too difficult, and he lost count somewhere. Surely he had been at eighty seconds? He started over again.

There was noise, the loud, almost musical two-hundred-fifty-cycle tone of the explosions produced as the laser heated the air in the chamber under him—how close? he wondered. That great stabbing beam that could slice through metal aimed directly at him; he squirmed against the high gravity, and the effort was torture.

The noises changed. The explosion tone drifted down the scale. He was beyond the atmosphere, and the laser was boiling off material from the thrust chamber, reaching closer and closer to him—

Silence. The crushing weight was gone. He was falling endlessly, with no way to know. Was he in orbit? Or was he plunging downward to his doom? He closed his eyes to wait, and then he felt he was truly falling, with the sick sensations of a boat in motion—he opened his eyes again to orient himself in the capsule.

Will they pick me up? There was no reason they shouldn't. New crewmen arrived weekly, and he was merely another. He listened for a voice, a signal, anything—

"Hullo, laddie. All right in there?"

Aeneas grabbed for the microphone and pressed the talk switch. "That was one hell of a ride." He fought for control of his voice. "I think I'm all right now."

"Except that you feel like letting the world's record fart, right?" the voice said. "Go ahead. You'll feel better."

He tried it. It helped.

"Hang on there, mate. Be alongside in a minute," the voice said. It took less than that. There were clunks and thuds, and the capsule jarred with some impact. "Righto. You're new in this game, they tell me."

"Yes, very," Aeneas replied.

"Right. So we'll start by testing your suit. I've got a bottle attached to the outlet, crack the atmosphere evac valve a half turn, there's a good chap."

A short moment of panic. The capsule held half an atmosphere. When the capsule was evacuated, only his helmet above the neckseal would contain pressure. The tight garment he wore was supposed to reinforce his own skin so that it would be able to hold the pressure differences, and it had worked in the ground training chamber; but there had been physicians waiting there. Aeneas did as he was told. As the air hissed out, the pressure in his guts returned, but worse.

"Fart again, lad. How's the breathing?"

"All right." He carried out the instruction. Again it helped. It was hard work to breathe out, but there didn't seem to be any problems.

"Good. Open the valve the rest of the way and let's get you out of there." Pumps whirred, and he felt more sensations of internal pressure. The wetsuit was very tight around every part of his body. His heart pounded loudly, and he felt dizzy.

"Now unstrap and open the hatch."

The steel trap around him seemed comfortable and safe compared to what he might find outside. Aeneas gingerly unfastened the straps that held him to the D-frame-webbed bunk and immediately floated free. It took longer than he had thought it would to orient himself and get his feet braced so that he could turn the latches on the hatchway, but Aeneas was surprised to find that he had no trouble thinking of what had been the capsule "wall" as now "down" and the hatchway as "up." The falling sensation vanished as soon as there was something to do.

The man outside hadn't mentioned the tether line on its reel on his belt, but the ground briefing had stressed that before the hatch was open he should clip the tether to the ring by the hatchway. That took fumbling, but he managed it.

The hatch opened smoothly and he put his head outside. There was brilliant sunshine everywhere, and he was thankful for the sun visor and tinted faceplate of his helmet. Crisp shadows, Earth an enormous bulging circular mass of white clouds and blue sea, not below but just there; stars brilliant when he looked away from Earth and sun . . . he had seen the pictures a thousand times. It wasn't the same at all.

He used his hands to rotate himself. There was an odd vehicle about seven meters long at the aft end of the capsule. Its nose was shoved into the capsule thrust chamber, and it reminded Aeneas of dogs. An open framework of thin aluminum bars with—saddles? But why not? A mirrored helmet atop bulky metallic shining coveralls perched on the nearest saddle. Aeneas couldn't see a face inside it.

"One of the ones who listen, eh?" the voice said, "Jolly good. Now you see that line above you?" Aeneas looked up and saw an ordinary nylon rope. It seemed to be a solid rod. "Get hold of it and clip it on your belt. After that, reach inside and unclip your own line. And don't be slow about it." There was a pleasant note to the voice, but it expected to be obeyed.

Aeneas complied quickly. He was reeled very slowly toward the spindly personnel carrier, and with a lot of difficulty and help from the pilot managed to get astride one of the saddles. His feet slipped easily under loops in the thing's "floor"—Aeneas supplied the quotation marks because there was only a minuscule grillwork there—and a safety harness went around his waist.

Now that he was in the carrier, he could look around, and he did unashamedly.

The launch crew had cut it pretty fine, Aeneas told himself. Heimdall floated less than a kilometer away.

It looked like a junkyard. Two large curved cylindrical sausages on the ends of cables rotated around each other at a distance of nearly half a kilometer. The sausages had projections at crazy angles: solar cell arrays, shields, heat dissipation projectors connected to the station by piping, antennae. There was an inflated tube running from each cylinder to an amorphous blob between them, and part of the center structure rotated with the cylinders. Most of the center did not rotate.

Other junk—the pregnant machinegun shapes of supply capsules, cylinders of all sizes, inflated structures of no recognizable shape—floated without apparent attachment near the axis of spin. Solar panels and orange sunshades lay everywhere. Heimdall had no real form.

"Quite a sight, isn't it?" his companion said. "Name's Kit Penrose, old chap. Officer in charge of everything else. Weight control, atmosphere recycling, support systems, all the marvy things like that. Also the taxi driver. Who're you?"


"Oh, Christ, a bloody Scot. You don't sound one. Engineer?"

Aeneas shrugged, realized the gesture couldn't be seen, and said, "Like you. Little of everything, I suppose. And I'm American."

"American, eh? Whoever or whatever you are, the ground crew seemed worried about you. Well, you're OK. Here we go." He did something to the panel in front of him and the spindly structure moved slowly toward the satellite. His capsule was still attached at the nose. "We'll just take this along, eh?" Penrose said.

"Yes, my kit's in there." And I may need everything in it, Aeneas thought.


It took a long time to cover the short distance to the station. Kittridge Penrose burned as little mass as possible. "Energy's cheap up here," he told Aeneas. He waved carelessly at the solar panels deployed everywhere and at mirrors fifty meters across that floated near the station. The mirrors were aluminized Mylar or something like it, very thin, supported by thin fiberglass wands to give them shape. "Plenty of energy. Not enough mass, though."

As they neared Heimdall, it looked even more like a floating junkyard. There was a large cage of wire netting floating a hundred meters from the hub, and it held everything: discarded cargo and personnel capsules, air tanks, crates, and cylinders of every kind. It had no door except an inward pointing cone—an enormous fish trap, Aeneas thought. They headed for that, and when they reached it and killed their approach velocity, Penrose unfastened himself from the saddle and dove into Aeneas' capsule.

He emerged with two sealed cylindrical fiberglass containers of gear Aeneas had brought up and clipped them to the wire net of the cage. He did the same with the spindle vehicle they'd crossed on, then did something that released the personnel capsule from its faintly obscene position on the taxi's nose. Penrose gripped the cage with one hand and strained to shove the discarded capsule with the other.

Nothing seemed to happen. Then the capsule moved, very slowly, down the tube into the cage; the motion was only barely apparent, but Penrose turned away. "Takes care of that. We'll have a crew come take it apart later. Now for you. I'll carry your luggage."

He reached down and pulled the safety line out of the reel on Aeneas' belt and clipped it to his own. "Now you're tethered to me, but if you drift off and I have to pull you in, I'll charge extra for the ride. Follow me, and the trick is, don't move fast. Keep it slow and easy."

They pulled themselves across the wire cage. It looked like ordinary chicken wire to Aeneas, a more or less sphere of it a hundred meters in diameter. There were other blobs of wire cage floating around the station. When they got to the side of the cage facing Heimdall, Aeneas saw a thin line running from the cage to the nonrotating hub between the cylinders. Up close the rotating cylinders on their cables and inflated tunnel looked much larger than before; twenty meters in diameter, and made of segments, each segment at least twenty meters long. They pulled themselves gingerly along the tether line to an opening ahead.

There was no air in the part of the hub they entered. Penrose explained that the interface between rotating and nonrotating parts was kept in vacuum. Once inside, Aeneas felt a gentle tug as the long tube, leading to the capsules at the end of the tether line pushed against him until he was rotating with it.

Before Aeneas could ask, Penrose pointed up the tube away from the direction they were going. "Counterweights up there," he said. "We run them up and down to conserve angular momentum. Don't have to spend mass to adjust rotation every time somebody leaves or comes aboard. Course we have to use mass to stop ourselves rotating when we leave, but I've got an idea for a way to fix that too."

As they descended, Aeneas felt more weight; it increased steadily. They passed into the first of a series of multiple airlocks. Then another, and another. "Hell of a lot easier than pumping all this gup every time," Penrose said. "Feel pressure now?"

"A little. It's easier to exhale."

"You could breathe here. Not well." They passed through another set of airlocks and felt increasing weight; after that it was necessary to climb down a ladder. The walls of the silo they were descending were about three meters in diameter. They stood out stiffly from the pressure and seemed to be made of the same rubberized cloth as his pressure suit, but not porous or permeable as his suit was.

Eventually they reached a final airlock, and below that the silo had metallic walls instead of the inflated nylon. The final airlock opened onto a circular staircase and they climbed down that into the cylindrical structure of the station itself.


Dr. Herman Eliot was a thin man, no more than thirty-five years old, with bifocal spectacles and long hair that curled at his neck; it was cut off short in front and at the sides so that it wouldn't get in his eyes, and it was uncombed: a thoroughly careless appearance. He had a harried expression, and his desk was littered with ledgers, papers, books, two pocket computers, and a dozen pencils. There were compartments in the desk for all that gear, but Eliot didn't use them.

Kit Penrose clucked his tongue as they entered. "Sloppy, Herman. Sloppy. Suppose I had to take spin off?"

Eliot looked annoyed. "You'd like to make up production schedules, then?" he demanded. He did not smile.

Penrose did. He recoiled in mock horror. "Easier to keep spin." He pulled off his helmet and turned to Aeneas. "Want some help with that?"

"Thank you." There had been little time for practice with the suit on Earth, but the procedure seemed simple enough; still, there was no harm in getting assistance. Aeneas worked slowly and carefully to undog the helmet and disconnect it from the neckseal. He lifted it off.

Penrose stared. "MacKenzie, eh?" he said sourly. His friendly expression was gone, replaced by a mask of emotional control that couldn't conceal dislike. His voice was strained and overmodulated. "Aeneas MacKenzie. If you'd told me that, I'd have left you out there."

Aeneas said nothing.

"He is the owners' agent," Eliot said.

"I doubt it." Penrose curled his lip into a twisted sneer. "I never did believe that lot about his break with Tolland. I think he is another goddamn CIA man."

"Then why would Miss Hansen send him?" Eliot asked. His voice and gestures were very precise, in contrast to the litter on his desk.

"Probably had to. Tolland can get to her partners. God knows what kind of deals he's made."

"I do not think anyone has ever accused Aeneas MacKenzie of personal corruption," Eliot said. "Precisely the opposite, in fact."

"I still think he belongs to Tolland." Penrose stalked to the door. "Tolland and MacKenzie tried to break Miss Hansen with legal tricks. That didn't work, so they're trying something else. I'll leave you with your little pet, Herman. Mind he doesn't bite you. And keep these doors closed." He swung the lightweight oval airtight door closed behind him. There were chairs bolted to the deck opposite Eliot's desk. Aeneas sat in one of them. He felt a peculiar sensation each time he moved up or down, but he was growing accustomed to it. Experimentally he took a pencil from Eliot's desk and dropped it to the floor. It followed a lazy, curved arc and landed inches away from where his eye expected it to fall. He nodded to himself and turned to Dr. Eliot. "I don't bite," he said. "That's about the only thing I know about you, then. Just what are you doing here, Mr. MacKenzie? You're no spaceman."

"Of course not. Was everyone here experienced in space when he first arrived?"

"No. But they had some technical value. We knew what they would do here."

"I will learn whatever is needed." Aeneas spoke dogmatically. There had never been a task he had failed to learn if he had to know it. "I can help with your administrative work now."

"It's only make-work anyway. We aren't likely to last long enough to need work schedules." Eliot turned a pencil slowly in his fingers and gave Aeneas a searching look. "My instructions were to give you complete cooperation. What do you want?"

"You can begin by telling me how Captain Shorey died."

"How he was murdered, you mean." Eliot's face still showed little emotion, but he clinched the pencil in fingers suddenly gone white with strain.

"What makes you so sure he was murdered?"

"Amos Shorey had ten years experience in space. He was found outside—it was only an accident that he was found at all. His faceplate was open. His features were relaxed. That's not the way a spaceman dies, Mr. MacKenzie. Amos was drugged and put out an airlock."

"And Martin Holloway killed him?"

Eliot pursued his lips tightly. "I shouldn't have told Miss Hansen that." He was silent for a moment—"But you'll find out, now that you're here. Yes. I couldn't prove it, but Holloway did it."

"If you can't prove it, how do you know?"

"I have a witness." Eliot's features twisted into an involuntary thin smile—wistful, sad, amused? Aeneas couldn't tell. "And a fat lot of good it'd be taking her into a courtroom. Not that Holloway will ever come to trial. Who'd prosecute?"

Aeneas nodded. Mexico wanted no jurisdiction over Heimdall. The United States was unlikely to prosecute one of President Tolland's agents—if the victim had been Tolland's man, that would be different. "Send for the witness, please," Aeneas said.

Eliot glanced at the clock above his desk, then at his wristwatch. Crew schedules were posted on the bulkhead, but he didn't seem to need to look at them. "She'll be off duty." He lifted a telephone.


The girl wore white coveralls. She had a mass of brown curls, all cut short, and no makeup; but she walked with the grace of a dancer, making use of the low gravity. Her features were finely carved and relaxed into no expression at all, but Aeneas thought that she would have as much control over them as she did of her body. She was very young, possibly no more than twenty, and she didn't need makeup to be pretty. "Ann Raisters," Eliot said. "Ann, this is—"

"I know who he is. If I hadn't recognized him, Penrose has told everyone in the station anyway. Kit Penrose doesn't like you, Mr. MacKenzie. Should anyone?" She cocked her head to one side and smiled, but it didn't seem genuine.

"I'm told you were a witness to the murder of Captain Amos Shorey," Aeneas said.

Ann turned a suddenly expressionless face towards Dr. Eliot. "Why did you tell him that?"

"You told me you were."

"I should have known better," she said. Her voice was bitter. "Occupational disease with whores, Mr. MacKenzie. It's no less lonely for us than for the men who talk to us. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking we have friends."

"If you were a witness to murder, you should tell about it," Herman Eliot said. "It was your duty to come to me."

The girl laughed. The sound was hard, but it might have been a nice laugh at another time and place. She ignored Eliot as she spoke to Aeneas. "Suppose I did see murder done? So what? Who'd try the case—not that a court would pay much attention to a whore anyway."

"You're registered as a biology technician," Aeneas said.

"Yeah. Mister, there are ninety-three men and twenty-six women on this satellite. Twenty of those women are engineers and technicians and whatever, and they sleep with one man at a time or none at all. Men serve a two-year hitch up here. Now what would happen if my friends and I weren't aboard? There are six whores on this ship. Call me an entertainer if you want to. Or a mother confessor. Or just friendly. I like it better that way. But if I get in front of a jury, I'm a whore."

"You sound rather bitter, Miss Raisters."

"I liked Captain Shorey."

"Do you want this station he gave his life to handed over to the people who hired him killed?"

Her lips tightened. "There's nothing I can do."

"There is. First, I have to know what happened."

"Who the hell are you, Mister? Kit Penrose says you're working for the same outfit that killed Amos. Everybody knows the U.S. government wants to see Equity take control here. I don't know how to fight that combination, Mister."

"Miss Hansen does. Dr. Eliot, tell Miss Raisters your orders concerning me."

Herman Eliot frowned. "Miss Hansen said to give him complete cooperation."

"Tell her the rest."

"Do you think that's wise? All right. She also said that Mr. MacKenzie is in command of this station if he says he is. Are you taking command, then?"

"Not precisely. Now, what did you see, Miss Raisters?"

Ann shrugged. "What difference does it make? You can't do anything about it. I thought I could, but I'm just not a murderer. Neither is Kit. Or Dr. Eliot." Her voice tightened. "That's rich, isn't it, Mister? We don't even have the guts to knock off the bastard who killed our friend. Some of the short-termers might, but what'd happen to them when they went home? They'd be up for it."

"Vengeance murder won't solve the problems of this station," Aeneas said. "You may as well tell me what happened. Everyone else seems to know."

"Yeah. Why not?" She sat across from Aeneas, every movement graceful and lovely, in stark contrast to the angry expression of her eyes. "It started a long time ago. Men get lonesome up here, Mister. They need a girl. Not just a lay, either. It took Marty Holloway longer than most, but he started coming to see me after six months. You will too if you stay long enough. Me or one of the other girls." She looked defiantly at him.

Aeneas said nothing.

"You will. Anyway, after about a year, Holloway starts talking to me a lot. I liked him. He's pretty cheerful and he seemed like a good worker. But he tells me how he's going to be rich when he gets down. Well, what the hell, we all are, but he meant rich and famous. Going to retire from the whole rat race and spend his life hiking in the woods. Maybe buy some mountain land and put together an animal preserve. Or be the top man in a really big national park. Does this make sense?"

Aeneas remembered long nights when he and David Hindler stood watch together, and they talked of the things they would do when they'd taken Jerusalem . . . . "Yes."

"Then he starts telling me Hansen won't own this place much longer, but I shouldn't worry because he can fix it so I go on Valkyrie anyway . . . . I want on that, Mister. And I want in the Moon colony. So I listened. Pretty soon Marty had me convinced. He had me wondering if Miss Hansen could last a year. But I didn't say anything to anybody until he asked me to help him."

"What did he want?"

"I'm a pretty good biotech, Mister. I do my share of that work up here. Marty wanted me to poison the vaccine cultures so the yields would go down. Nothing drastic, nothing that would really hurt the station, just cut down production. So I told Amos."

"What did the captain do?" Aeneas asked.

"Amos wanted me to cooperate with Marty, but I wanted no part of that. I told Marty to go to hell. The next day when I was coming off shift I saw Marty go into my lab, so I went to the captain and told him about it. Amos went in after Marty. An hour later one of the construction people saw the captain drifting away from the airlock."

"Were there any other witnesses?"

She wouldn't answer. "There's no point in this," she said.

"We'll see." Aeneas turned to Dr. Eliot. "Is there any place you can assemble the entire crew?"


"Please call them together in one hour. Until then, leave me alone here." His voice carried command, and when Eliot looked into his eyes they seemed as deep as the stars outside the viewport.


The messroom was large enough to hold the hundred men and women with room to spare. It was the full width of the central section of the crew quarters, twenty meters across and more than twice that in length. Thin aluminum flooring made the floor flat across its width and curved gently along the length. The walls were curving sections of a cylinder, with a metallic shine of impervious synthetic cloth. There were several viewports, deep, proving that the inner walls were covered with something outside them.

Aeneas let Kit Penrose lead him into the room. He noted small groups of crewmen clumped together, nervous little groups speaking in low voices that died away as they saw him.

"You know who I am." His voice, raised to carry through the messroom, sounded tinny and high-pitched. He had been told that the gas mixtures in the station would do that, but he hadn't noticed when he spoke in normal tones.

"What the hell are you doing here?" a man demanded. He came across the room to Aeneas: a tall man, sandy-haired and square-jawed, his muscles hard. He had the confidence of a man long in space, and more; a man who made his own destiny and controlled the destinies of others. It was a confidence that Aeneas recognized easily . . . .

"Hello, David," Aeneas said quietly.

"Eh?" Penrose said. "That's Martin Holloway."

"His name is David Hindler," Aeneas said. "He is, or was until very recently, an agent of the CIA."

Holloway-Hindler smiled with half his face. "And Aeneas MacKenzie is, or was until recently, political and legal advisor to the President of the United States."

"I work for Miss Hansen now," Aeneas said. The room was still; everyone was listening.

Holloway shrugged. "You betrayed Greg after damn near twenty years with him—how long before you double-cross Hansen, Aeneas? Just what the hell are you doing here, anyway?"

"I have come to try a case of murder," Aeneas said.

Holloway looked up in surprise. "By what authority?"

"My own. I am commander of this station." He looked to Eliot.

"That's what Miss Hansen says," Eliot announced. "She appointed MacKenzie in Captain Shorey's place."

"That's stupid," Holloway said. "You've got no authority. Companies don't make law and courts and appoint judges—"

"Then I appoint myself. Sit down, David. You are charged with the willful murder of Captain Amos Shorey. How do you plead?"

"Go to hell! You've got no authority over me." He looked around for support.

"But I do." The quiet voice demanded attention. Holloway looked back to Aeneas and saw that he had taken an odd-looking gun from inside his coveralls. Holloway started to reach for his own—


The command halted his move for a second.

"The first dart contains a tranquilizer," Aeneas said. "The rest have cyanide. And I've practiced in this gravity. Keep your hands where I can see them, David. And please sit down."

"I'll sit." Holloway eyed the gun warily. "But you can't make me accept the authority of your court. You're no better than any other gunman—don't the rest of you see that? You let him do this to me, and which one of you's next? Do something!"

There were murmurs of assent, and several crewmen stood menacingly.

"Wait," Aeneas commanded. The helium in the atmosphere in the station made his voice shrill, but the timbre of command remained. "You may as well hear me out. How many of you hope to go with Valkyrie? Or to the Moon colony?"

About half. Kittridge Penrose was among them.

"And why?" Aeneas asked.

"Because we've had enough of Earth and bureaucrats and laws and regulations," Penrose said. "We can't breathe down there! We've had it with the Martin Holloways—and people like you, MacKenzie!"

"Yet you cannot live without law," Aeneas said. "There is no civilization without justice."

"Law? Justice?" Penrose was contemptuous. "Rules, regulations, taxes, traps for people minding their own business."

"Those are perversions of law." Aeneas deliberately kept his voice low so that they had to strain to listen. "There can be no civilization without law and no civilized men without justice. Earth's law cannot govern here. It cannot even govern Earth. But that does not mean you can dispense with law altogether."

"So you'll give us laws?" Holloway said contemptuously.

"No. But this satellite is not independent of Earth. It is not sovereign. It must have government. Miss Hansen has given me that task."

"Are you going to put up with this?" Holloway demanded. "You don't know this son of a bitch. Law! He's a goddam computer. He'll have you marching around under regulations like you've never seen." He turned to the crew. "Help me!"

"Help him and you give Heimdall to the Equity Trust. Or to Greg Tolland," Aeneas said. "I do not think you will care for either master. Even those who are here for short tours only—and those who want a new life in space will be finished."

There was a buzz of conversation. "Hansen's been decent enough."

"Hell, he's got the gun . . . ."

"I don't owe Holloway nothing."

"Let Penrose and Eliot decide, that's their job, I mind my own business . . . ."

Aeneas raised his voice to cut through the chatter. "The prohibition against murder is as old as man. Are any safe here? Who had more friends than Captain Shorey? Who will avenge you if you are wronged?"

"What do you intend to do with Holloway?" one engineer demanded.

"I intend to try him for murder."

"Some trial!" Holloway shouted. "A kangaroo court."

"Yes. You prefer a court which you know will never convict you. I think, David, you have forgotten what a trial is for. It is not a show, but a means of discovering what has happened. I think we can do that here. The crew will be the jury."

"What happens if we say guilty?" Penrose demanded.

"Sentence is the responsibility of the judge. Martin Holloway, as you are known here, how do you plead?"

"You goddam fools!" Holloway shouted. "You're really going to let him do this, aren't you? By God, you touch me and the Agency'll track every one of you down. You've got to go back to Earth sometime—"

"Not everyone," Aeneas said quietly.

"They've got families," Holloway said grimly.

Aeneas shook his head sadly. "This is beneath you, David. And I warn you, you are not helping your case. I advise you to say nothing else." Still carefully holding the pistol ready, Aeneas took a seat across the table from Holloway. "I wish you had not threatened the crew."

Because, Aeneas thought, you force me to act alone. But he had always known it would come to this. He had become—what? "Your plea is not necessary," Aeneas said. "I call the first witness. Miss Raisters, your oath. Do you swear—"

"His people will kill me," Ann said. "He wasn't alone. There are more of them here—"

"You told me Amos Shorey was your friend. And there will be justice here, and on Valkyrie."

Her lips tightened. She took a deep breath and began to tell her story.


In two hours they had heard it all: Holloway's threats and promises to various crewmen; sabotage plans, promises of money and position when Equity took control of Heimdall. There were five witnesses to those acts; and Ann Raisters and another woman had seen Holloway enter the laboratory. They saw Captain Shorey go in after him; and Shorey never returned.

The station physician told them that Shorey died of explosive decompression, but that he had been drugged first. "I don't know the drug," he told them. "Not precisely. One of the curare derivatives, I'd think. Certainly something at least that powerful, to leave a man's muscles relaxed as he explodes. Not even unconsciousness could have done that."

When it was finished, Aeneas spoke to Holloway. "You may present your defense."

"I don't have to make any defense!"

"I advise you to do so. At the moment the evidence is much against you."

"You used to be my friend," David said.

"Make your defense," Aeneas replied. His voice was even, and no one could tell if that had cost him much or little.

"Crap. I didn't kill Shorey!"

"How did he die?"

"It was an accident. He—"


Holloway thought for a moment. There was no possible explanation. Drugged, Shorey could not have operated the airlock; yet he had certainly been outside it. "You've got no authority here. I demand you send me down!"

"No. Have you completed your defense?"

"I've said all I'm going to say to you."

"Then this court finds you guilty. I would have put this to a jury, but your threats prevent that. David Hindler, alias Martin Holloway, this court finds you guilty of sabotage, attempted bribery, and willful murder. On the minor charges you are sentenced to forfeiture of all pay and allowances and one year at hard labor. You will not serve that sentence. On the charge of murder you are sentenced to death."

There was an excited babble in the room.

"Who'll kill me, Aeneas?" Holloway said. "You?"

"Of course. I would not ask anyone else to do it." I never wanted the high justice, but I accepted refuge with the Saracens . . . . "Stand up, David."

"No. I won't help you."

"You have five minutes."

Penrose and Eliot crowded around Aeneas. "You can't do this," Dr. Eliot said.

"Why the hell not?" Penrose demanded. "The bastard's got it coming."

"This is no better than murder," Eliot insisted. "You have no authority . . . ."

"If I have none, there's none here," Aeneas said. "And you can't live that way. If you object, Doctor, you can get the crew to stop me. I'm only one man."

"Two," Penrose growled.

"Three." Ann Raisters stood behind him.

* * *

"Your five minutes are up. Have you anything to say, David?"

Holloway turned to the others. The crew hadn't moved; they stood or sat in small groups, watching, saying very little, speaking in the hushed tones used in cemeteries and at funerals. "You're all next!" Holloway shouted. "You let him get away with this and you're next! They'll send up company cops, and you'll all be slaves."

No one moved. They may have believed him; but Aeneas stood there as the figure of—

What am I? he thought. Justice in person? The high justice? Why should they accept me? But what can they accept? In these days when no one trusts anyone or anything—there is only power. I would like to believe I am more than that.

"They'll have you for murder, Aeneas," Holloway said. "Greg Tolland will have extradition warrants in every country on Earth. But don't worry about that, because the Agency won't forget either. You're a dead man, Aeneas. You won't live an hour after you get to ground."

"I believe you." Almost, Aeneas envied David; Aeneas had once been part of that brotherhood of dedicated young men, and he missed their camaraderie. But now he served the Saracens.

Must I do this? What choices have I? There had been a time when David's threat would have been welcome; now, Aeneas would never see Laurie Jo on their lonely beach. She wouldn't be safe for long, either. Earth was not a place of safety for anyone, great or small.

The Station turned slowly and through the ports he saw the spindly framework and tankage that would someday be Valkyrie. Earth was lovely beyond it. But she will come here, and we will take that ship together . . . .

"Lost your goddam nerve?" Holloway demanded. The fear was unmistakable in his voice, and beyond it was pleading. "Get it over." The pistol coughed twice.


Afterwards, Aeneas stood again at the viewport and looked at Valkyrie; but did not look at Earth.


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