The next morning was bright, clear and sunny. Presumably the climate technicians had changed their minds about autumnal rain. I woke up with an asteroid miner's glove in my mouth, drank two cups of coffee and went through the news nets. I didn't find any reference to Mr Arthur Gwynne Geiger in any of them. I was choosing my clothing when a call came in. It was Bernie Ohls, the Outer System Habitats Attorney's chief investigator, who had given me the lead to General Sternwood.

"Well, how's the boy?" he began. He sounded like a man who had slept well and didn't owe too much money.

"I've got a hangover," I said.

"Tsk, tsk." He laughed absently and then his voice became a shade too casual, a cagey cop voice. "Seen General Sternwood yet?"


"Done anything for him?"

"Too much rain," I answered, if that was an answer.

"They seem to be a family things happen to. A big cruiser belonging to one of them is floating about in the Asteroid Belt."

I held the edge of the table tight enough to crack it. I also held my breath.

"Yeah," Ohls said cheerfully. "A nice new in-system cruiser all messed up, penetration damage and full of vacuum… Oh, I almost forgot. There's a guy inside it."

I let my breath out so slowly that it hung on my lip. "Regan?" I asked.

"Huh? Who? Oh, you mean that ex-runner the eldest girl picked up and went and married. I never saw him. What would he be doing out there?"

"Quit stalling. What would anyone be doing out there?"

"I don't know, pal. I'm dropping down to look see. Want to go along?"


"Snap it up," he said. "I'll be in my hutch."

Shaved, clothing selected and donned, and lightly breakfasted, I was at the Hall of Justice in less than an hour. I rode up to the fifty-seventh floor and went along to the group of small offices used by the OSHA's men. Ohls's was no larger than the others, but he did have it to himself. There was nothing on his desk but a couple of packaged lightweight protection suits, a cheap terminal and one of his feet. He was a medium-sized blondish man with stiff white eyebrows, calm eyes and well-kept teeth. He looked like anybody you would pass on the street. I happened to know he had killed nine men - three of them when he was covered, or somebody thought he was.

He stood up and pocketed the suit-packs and a flat tin of cheap cigars, jiggled the one in his mouth up and down, and looked at me carefully along his nose, with his head thrown back.

"It's not Regan," he said. "I checked. Regan's a big guy, as tall as you and a shade heavier. This is a young kid."

I didn't say anything.

"What made Regan skip out?" Ohls asked suddenly. "You interested in that?"

"I don't think so," I said.

"When a guy out of the arms trade marries into a rich family and then waves goodbye to a pretty dame and a couple billion legitimate bucks - that's enough to make even me think. I guess you thought that was a secret."


"Okay, keep buttoned, kid. No hard feelings."

He came around from the desk tapping his pockets.

"I'm not looking for Regan," I said.

Part 2