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Organic Future - Sparrowhawk Part 20

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Something in his tone made Emily think that he too would like to be a lab chief, but she did not respond. Instead, she handed the memo back to him and said, "Better change that routing in the computer."

A little later, crashing sounds, as of furniture breaking, drew her down the hall toward Chowdhury's--now Chand's--lab. There she joined a number of her colleagues as they watched, bemused, while Sam Dong and Micaela Potonegra expelled Chowdhury's chosen furniture, so obviously high, ungainly, and uncomfortable, from the lab, and Chand told a pair of maintenance men, "Out!

Get us some decent furniture. But get this stuff out of here!" He sounded exasperated, but there was a strange smile on his face. Emily thought it must signify a sense of triumph and relief, uncertainty and determination.

"But, Dr. Chand," one of the maintenance crew protested. "It takes weeks for an order to come through."

"Then bring in the furniture from the other lab, in the barn. We'll do all our work in here, until the new things come and you install them in the barn."



"Uh, we could shorten the legs on some of these..."

"Then do it. In the barn. Get it out of here!"

"Yessir!"

Chand's face did not lose its strained mixture of expressions as he turned his attention on the spectators. "The show's over," he said. "We've got work to do." Then, as he seemed to notice Emily for the first time, he added, "Emily! Come on in!" and jerked his head toward the lab behind him.

She followed him in, to find Sam and Micaela pausing in their labors to stare at her, smiling almost as if she belonged with them. Perhaps, she thought, she did, for though they had borne the daily brunt of Chowdhury's temper, she had been the one he had been trying to kill. "Adam," she said.

"Congratulations."

"And now what?" he said. Suddenly the uncertainty was uppermost in his expression.

Emily looked around the room. The equipment--workstations, DNA splicers, and more--was now concentrated on a single workbench and the tops of the lab's freezers and incubators. "You'll do your own thing," she said. She pointed at the puffer fish hanging from the ceiling. "What's that?" Chand's face lit up. "Well, sure," he said. "I was planning to..." Then her question penetrated, and he followed her finger with his gaze. "I've been trying to design a submarine," he added more slowly. He explained the fish and the direction of his thought, while Emily nodded encouragingly.

Micaela Potonegra interrupted: "We will be carrying on, though. The Armadon..." She hesitated, as if aware that the Armadons might be a sore point. They were, after all, potential competition for the company funds and energy Emily's Bioblimps would also need. They also stood, in the mind of any Neoform employee, for Chowdhury. They were Chowdhury, in a much more solid and positive sense than the cocaine nettle and hedonic genimals. "The Armadon prototypes will be ready for testing soon, and we do want to see them into production. We've already put a lot of work into them, you know."

Emily did know. They had done most of Chowdhury's design work, and all of the donkey work of feeding and cleaning and testing, just as Alan Bryant did for her. In a very real sense, the Armadons were as much their babies as they were Chowdhury's. But they had been Chowdhury's idea, and he would get the credit, even if he must enjoy it in a prison cell.

Micaela pointed toward the back of the room. "We still have those four in here." Emily looked and saw the cage on the floor, crowded with the baby Armadons she had first seen just the week before. "And they can't stay in that cage any longer. They can hardly move."

Nodding that Micaela was speaking for them all, Adam Chand said, "Would you like one? It'll grow, you know, and when it's big enough, we can have the prototype shop fit it out. That won't cost you anything."

Emily looked back at three expectant faces. Did they feel that they owed this to her, as recompense for what Chowdhury had done, or tried to do? Then how could she say no? And besides--the thought came to her mind for the first time in weeks--her family did need a second vehicle. Let this one grow up, and it would be perfect for Nick, though they would have to enlarge the garage.

And he would be delighted by its rarity on the road, though surely that would not last. Andy would be delighted by it now, as a novel pet and as a replacement for the Chickadee in his affections.

How could she say no?

She didn't.

She said, "Thank you."

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