“Somehow you think this thing killed Jane Meredith!?” Brett Ferguson demanded of Chris.
This was the first time Brett had visited the Astronomicon since it had been transported to the science compound. Chris had disliked Brett the first time he had any dealings with him, and he just knew that he respected him even less now. The coldness of the morning air seemed particularly sharp as Brett stood there and made yet another note in his electronic pad.
“I don’t just think it, I know for sure it did,” replied Chris, annoyed at Brett’s lack of eye contact.
“Because it ‘told’ you so?”
“You heard yourself, Doctor Roberts said the cause of death was really strange, so strange that he couldn’t come up with any other explanations at all. When we asked the Astronomicon about the incident it admitted it had taken action to remove a threat and that Jane was a threat to it.”
“So, first you think this thing is so important that we must tell Earth to mount an interstellar mission to come here and collect it, now it’s dangerous too? Are you going to suggest that Earth should come and take it away for our safety!?”
“I have never said that!” replied Chris, fighting to remain calm. “If this thing has the knowledge that it claims then it should be on Earth with a great deal more resources going into researching it than we could muster. In fact, if it wasn’t for my efforts, we wouldn’t know as much as we do...”
“Your efforts, which are unofficial, taking you away from your duties,” interjected Brett.
“I don’t think it is. From what I’ve seen this thing hasn’t offered up any useful information, has failed to prove that it is what it claims to be and is proving to be a big distraction. Steve discovered that you have been using the Hesperian’s systems to communicate covertly with Earth. Without authorisation!”
“Do I need authoris...”
“Yes!” barked Brett, “And it’s not your place to query it. Nobody is to use that transmitter without prior approval from the Committee.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
“What am I going to do? I’ll tell you what to do!” snarled Brett, dropping his electronic pad into its belt holster and staring at Chris. “You’re going to return to your office and get on with your job. You’re not going to go near the Hesperian’s bridge without clearance from me personally, and investigations into the Astromom...omicom cease now. At the next Committee meeting, I’m going to move that we rebury it and forget about it. It doesn’t help. It’s just a distraction from our work here.”
“In the meantime, I’m going to post guards on this compound with orders to keep you out. Now get back to your office. I’m not sure what you do around here, but you’d better make sure you get on with it.”
With that, Brett turned and walked to the compound gate. He stopped by the gate and watched Chris begrudgingly leave the compound. Chris resisted the urge to say anything else as he knew any comment was likely to be followed by his fist.