I went back to my own room that night, but it took me a long time to get to sleep; and Shicky woke me up early to tell me what was happening. There had been only three survivors, and their base award had already been announced: seventeen million five hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Against royalties.
That drove the sleepies out of my eyes. “For what?” I demanded.
Shicky said, “For twenty-three kilograms of artifacts. They think it’s a repair kit. Possibly for a ship, since that is where they found it, in a lander on the surface of the planet. But at least they are tools of some sort.”
“Tools.” I got up, got rid of Shicky, and plodded down the tunnel to the community shower, thinking about tools. Tools could mean a lot. Tools could mean a way to open the drive mechanism in the Heechee ships without blowing up everything around. Tools could mean finding out how the drive worked and building our own. Tools could mean almost anything, and what they certainly meant was a cash award of seventeen million five hundred and fifty thousand dollars, not counting royalties, divided three ways.
One of which could have been mine.