Monday, February 13, 2012

Liege-Killer 1 - Christopher Hinz

The occupants of this freezer were gone, however. The pirates had found what they were looking for.

"There were two of them," Kelly said quietly. The pair of large plastic cradles in the center of the car was empty, the pale ivory cocoons missing. The genetically manufactured tissues that surrounded the sleepers would keep their metabolism stable for at least thirty hours--long enough for the Costeaus to get them to a Wake-up facility up in the Colonies.

Bronavitch felt even more disturbed than he had earlier. There were two of them. Jesus! Why couldn't there have been one ... or three ... or twenty-six?

Kelly walked past the cradles to the other end of the stasis chamber. He used his glove to wipe the frost from a pair of glass gauges.

"The other cars in the train must be tankers. This meter says there's enough fuel left to run the generators for another fifty years or so."

Bronavitch grimaced. "And why were there only two capsules? This car's big enough to hold a dozen and it wouldn't have taken much more fuel. Yet there were only two capsules."

Kelly turned from the gauges and looked straight at him. "There's probably a simple explanation. The capsules contain a husband and wife, I'll bet--somebody's great, great--whatever--grandparents." Kelly smiled like a three-year-old with a new toy. "Now, recently, some rich young kid up in the Colonies finds a family heirloom that tells how his wealthy ancestors put themselves into stasis during the final days. The heirloom explains where and how they were frozen and the kid thinks it would be just great if he could bring them out of hibernation. To do it legally, of course, you've got to get E-Tech's permission, and that means going through all sorts of official channels and maybe getting turned down after a year of fighting the red tape. So the rich kid figures he'll avoid all that hassle. He hires himself some Costeaus, gives them the map, and tells them they'll get a nice fat bonus if they succeed in waking up his ancestors."

"That doesn't answer my question, Kelly. If these were some rich husband and wife, why didn't they buy their way up to the Colonies? Or if they couldn't do that, then why not have ten other people frozen in here with them? They must have had some friends."

His partner smiled annoyingly. "Maybe they were a couple of greedy industrialists. You've read how crazy things were in the final days. People got selfish. They did just about anything to survive."

"Yeah, and it wasn't just people who did anything to survive."

Anger broke across Kelly's face. "Now I don't want to hear what you're thinking! They were wiped out--nobody's seen one in two centuries. They're gone--long dead. Now if you go spouting your thoughts back at base, E-Tech's gonna go into a mild panic--all for nothing, I might add. And you and I are gonna spend the next two weeks down in this tunnel, searching for clues so that some E-Tech exec can get his official report made up and shoved into the archives. All for nothing, dammit!"

4.5 out of 5