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Dr. Asmenion. I suppose most of you are here more because you hope to collect a science bonus than because youre really interested in astrophysics. But you dont have to worry. The instruments do most of the work. You do your routine scan, and if you hit anything special, itll come out in the evaluation when youre back.

Question. Isnt there anything special we should look out for?

Dr. Asmenion. Oh, sure. For instance, there was a prospector who cleaned up half a million, I think, by coming out in the Orion Nebula and realizing that one part of the gas cloud was showing a hotter temperature than the rest of it. He decided a star was being born. Gas was condensing and beginning to heat up. In another ten thousand years therell probably be a recognizable solar system forming there, and he did a special scan mosaic of that whole part of the sky. So he got the bonus. And now, every year, the Corporation sends that ship out there to get new readings. They pay a hundred-thousand dollar bonus, and fifty thousand of it goes to him. Ill give you the coordinates for some likely spots, like the Trifid nebula, if you want me to. You wont get a half million, but youll get something.

And yet she was my darling, all right, she really was. We had not just been screwing in those endless hours in the lander; we had been talking. I have never known the inside of anyones head a fraction as well as I came to know Klaras. I had to love her. I could not help it, and I could not stop. Ever.

On the twenty-third day I was playing with Hams electronic piano when I suddenly felt seasick. The fluctuating gray force, that I had come hardly to notice, was abruptly intensifying.

I looked up and met Klaras eyes. She was timorously, almost weepily smiling. She pointed, and all up through the sinuous curves of the spiral of glass, golden sparks were chasing themselves like bright minnows in a stream.

We grabbed each other and held on, laughing, as space swooped around us and bottom became top. We had reached turnaround. And we had margin to spare.

Classifieds. | Gateway | Chapter 15