Judith L. Proctor

The time is two years after Scorpio crashed into a forest on Gauda Prime. All crew members except Avon died in the fight and he was eventually executed.

The intercom chimed on Hammond's desk, "There's a woman wanting to see you sir, an Illona Martin. She won't state her business apart from saying that she has something very important to the project."

Hammond was irritated, he already had enough getting in the way of his work without having to see people who thought they had something important to tell him. They never did in his experience. He sighed, "Show her in," he reflected a moment, "in another five minutes." It wouldn't hurt the woman to wait a little.

He sat looking around his office for a moment - the brass name plate with Tor Hammond incised in sharp angular letters set into his desk, the logo of the teleport project on the wall, and felt momentary pride in the vast difference he had made to the project since he had arrived earlier in the year to take charge.

Idiots, he thought angrily. How could they have made so little progress before then, when they had the wreckage of Scorpio to work with? Certainly most of the teleport components had been damaged, some smashed beyond recognition, but why had it been obvious to none of them that an entire subsystem was simply missing? The morons who had performed the salvage had probably decided it was part of the navigation system and never thought to send it to the teleport project at all. The coordinate fixer would be necessarily be linked into navigation, it would need to access much of the same data.

They had completely misunderstood the theoretical basis of the wave amplifier too. When he first arrived, they had been trying to use it as a signal bouncer. Ridiculous! There were so many little things like that, obvious to anyone with a grain of common sense, but overlooked by the imbeciles he had working for him now. It would help, he thought, if he had more experienced personnel. With typical bureaucratic inefficiency they had managed to transfer away half a dozen key personnel just before he came. Of the replacements, only two had ever worked on teleport systems at all, and then for short periods.

Bureaucrats were a pain, but then as his father had been wont to remark, "Even bureaucrats once had mothers who loved them."

Too much reminiscence was a waste of time, Hammond pulled a circuit diagram off a stack and gave it his full attention. He became so absorbed that he didn't even hear the door open, he was only aware of the woman's presence when she coughed.

Hammond looked up.

"Avon!" she said in pleased surprise, then smiled, "Didn't anyone tell you you're supposed to be dead?"

Hammond looked at the petite face with some annoyance, "You appear to be labouring under the misapprehension that I am somebody else. You asked to see Hammond, I am he. What is this important business that you are supposed to have?"

The raven haired woman studied him for a moment, then produced something from her tunic pocket and held it up for him to see. It was a bangle of some kind, brown in colour with a raised pink rectangle on it.

"Well," he said impatiently, "what is it?"

Consternation passed across Illona's face for a moment, "You really don't know do you?"

"Are you going to continue to waste my time with idiotic badinage, or are you going to tell me anything useful?"

"It's a Liberator teleport bracelet."

Continued in Star One

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