Neither fuhrers nor premiers, doges nor rockefellers, would batten from what he already thought of as his discovery. Nor the Bargetas. And this energy wouldn’t be diverted to evil, as most everything from gunpowder to petroleum to the atom had been.
Before Anti-Matter Two could be developed, someone must create a handle. A shield. Some substance, synthetic or natural, that was a solid, that was malleable, and that was absolutely neutral to both matter and anti-matter.
He’d heard, in spite of his mind’s promise to never concern himself with the Bargetas unless he found them in some sort of gunsights, Austin had fulfilled his early promise and become The Man—replacing his father at the head of the Bargeta octopus.
He’d commissioned new-model spacecraft, models that were offered on an already-saturated market, and craft that seemed to offer no more than a new crew/compartment/drive configuration rather than any real engineering improvements. And then he’d “passed on,” and Austin had been given the scepter.
Kea laughed quietly then, a sort of laugh Bargeta senior would have found familiar.
Oh. Hell, you can’t believe how tied up I am, Richards said. He was scheduled, pretty close to fourblocked himself. Let’s see here. McLean Institute next week… that thing in New Delhi… plus you know I’ve been talking to some people about some interesting things I’ve considered, things that directly came out of what happened Out There. There were some interesting commercial possibilities I’d discussed with the late Doctor Fazlur that seem to be worth developing. But we’ll get together. Sometime. Maybe after I finish putting together some venture capital.
Bargeta wasn’t interested in tiddly little numbers and clauses. Make the damned deal. This man is my friend. Besides, he said, after a pause, the media’s been talking about how we stole a march on everyone getting him to work for us. Do you want to be the one to say that Bargeta could not afford the universe’s biggest hero? Do you? I certainly won’t. He stared at the negotiator. The negotiator returned to his office, contacted Richards’s attorneys, closed the deal, and sent out his resume.
Bargeta was starting to think that he’d made a real bargain adding Kea to his staff—and boasted to his mate that he had always been able to fit the right person for the right peg, and he had seen the worth in Richards years and years ago, back as far as Cal Tech. Now it was time for the next stage. A good swindler always salts the mine with a little real gold. Gold, or whatever valuable the mark will easily recognize. Cal Tech was the salt this time.
Richards, trying to keep from laughing, came up with some plausible story about labwork and study. The reason he had wanted to consult with this woman, whose mark had been made in microanalysis, was that someone had presented Kea with a particle concept. He did not understand anything on the fiche, and, remembering Doctor Feehely, had sought her out. Could she take a few minutes? And would she mind if Richards recorded her?
Kea Richards knew once he came close to achieving power for himself, some beings would have to die. Another saying he took as gospel: Three beings can keep a secret, if two of them are dead…
Doctor Fazlur had been analyzing some observed phenomena taken off a darkstar they’d made close passage by. And he had been coming up with some remarkable equations. Equations that suggested a certain substance could be synthesized. A substance a bit like something he had observed off that pulsar. If his suggestions were correct, the substance could be synthesized, and modified into ...
Everyone in the corporate world knew Bargeta Ltd. was R&Ding something spectacular. Fortunately—for Kea’s purposes—Austin had such a reputation as a lightweight the project was an instant joke, thought of in scientific slang as an edsel, whatever that might’ve been. Kea told no one why he had dubbed the operation Project Suk.
It gave him the reputation of being a very hands-on manager, as well as someone who was grudgingly respected because you couldn’t slip one past him. But respect did not replace enough sleep, or personal relaxation.
EMPIRE DAY 2012 - A COMMEMORATIVE EDITION
Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?