The bright curve of Saturn's Rings glowed through the mist and the translucent dome among the high branches of the trees on Lunar Terrace. A music player sounded loudly from a house low down the hill. The robot swung the rickshaw over to the box hedge in front of Geiger's house and then shut itself down without prompting. The boy sat looking straight before him, with both hands in his lap. No light showed through Geiger's hedge.

I said: "Anybody home, son?"

"You ought to know."

"How would I know?"

"Go fuck yourself."

"That's how people get to need prosthetic teeth."

He showed me his in a tight grin. Then he kicked the door open and got out. I scuttled out after him. He stood with his fists on his hips, looking silently at the house above the top of the hedge.

"All right," I said. "You have a key. Let's go in."

"Who said I had a key?"

"Don't kid me, son. Geiger gave you one. You've got a nice clean manly little room in there. He shooed you out and locked it up when he had lady visitors. He was bisexual, a husband to women and a wife to men. Think I can't figure people like him and you out?"

I still held the automatic more or less pointed at him, but he swung on me just the same. It caught me flush on the chin. I backstepped fast enough to keep me from falling, but I took plenty of the punch. It was meant to be a hard one, but the boy had no iron in his bones, whatever he looked like.

I threw the gun down at the kid's feet and said: "Maybe you need this?"

He stooped for it like a flash. There was nothing slow about his movements. I sank a fist in the side of his neck. He toppled over sideways, clawing for the gun and not reaching it. I picked it up again and threw it in the rickshaw. The boy came up on all fours, leering with his eyes too wide open. He coughed and shook his head.

"You don't want to fight," I told him. "You're giving away too much weight."

Part 2