Robaire noticed Ghenn staring at him from out of the corner of his piggish little eye and turned to glare at her. “And just what are you looking at, hm?”
“Nothing. Nobody,” Ghenn replied instantly out of habit. Silence hung in the air. Robaire sniffed and smirked and turned his head back towards the monitor. A wave of anger washed over Ghenn. The senseless, insistent urge to say something that would cut through his indifference was too strong to ignore. “A nobody.”
Robaire’s head snapped back. His eyes met Ghenn’s and for a moment, she saw unbridled rage in them. But the look only lasted a moment. His temper cooled some to contempt. Ghenn shrugged indifferently. Robaire snorted and walked away from the crowd. Ghenn smiled, pleased with herself for having finally gotten to him in some small way.
* * *
On screen, Kyle looked peaceful in death, if a bit unrefined. Practical, really. That was it; the preparations were just a bit too practical for a proper funeral.
That made sense, Ghenn supposed. Daddy Dearest wasn’t human, after all, and he had forbidden the crew on Kyle’s station from interfering with the body. The camera showed Kyle in a stasis pod, his skin a bit discolored, his hair mussed. He was wearing the simple jumper that they all wore as their uniform, but he looked peaceful. The intensity that he carried with him every day of his life, that had defined the man, was gone. There was only rest now. An involuntary, eternal rest, but rest. There were flowers picked from the station’s hydroponic garden arrayed around him, a surprisingly delicate and aesthetic touch from Daddy Dearest. They were nice. Kyle would have said that he hated them and thought they were ridiculous, but then he would have let them be. It was a good touch. A sensitivity in death that he wouldn’t have allowed himself in life.
“Dust thou art,” Ghenn whispered. “And to dust shalt thou return.”
“Hm?” Panna murmured.
“It’s a line from the Christian Bible. Kyle told me once that his great-great-grandparents were Christian. Seemed appropriate.”
Panna nodded. Ghenn thought about it a bit more. “Plus, think about it. On Earth, we were all executives and founders and rich as Hell. And now we’re cleaning up space debris. To dust have we returned.”
An older woman, Elaine kicked Ghenn’s chair from behind. “Shh!” Ghenn turned around in her seat and stuck her tongue out, but was otherwise silent. Her eyes quickly scanned the gathered crowd. Everyone was present but Robaire, but that was to be expected. He wasn’t really the type to go to the funeral of someone like Kyle. General anti-social tendencies aside, he and Kyle had been competitors, both of them quietly vying for defense contracts while they pushed their more palatable services onto the public at large.
Plus, Kyle made him look like the squat, foul-tempered troll that he was, and he was far too proud to mourn the death of someone who was better than him.
Ghenn shook her head. Where were these thoughts coming from? Ever since she’d installed the Agency program, she felt like she was fighting to keep her mind coherent and her thoughts organized.
Of course, the two deaths, one right after the other, didn’t help. She hadn’t slept right in what felt like weeks.
But then, she’d only installed the program a few days ago, hadn’t she? Why was it so hard to remember?
And the cold war she has running with Robaire wasn’t doing her any favors either, of course. In fact, that was probably worst of all. The slimy little bastard.
“Find him,” a voice seemed to whisper in her head. “Confront him. He’s older than you, soft and flabby. Even if he got violent, you could take him. The man’s a mess, and you have Daddy Dearest on your side.”
Ghenn’s eyes narrowed to slits. Her hands balled up. She was angry, unfathomably angry. But she couldn’t just get up and attack him in the middle of a funerary service. Daddy Dearest would intervene and detain them both, and once he’d investigated, she’d clearly be guilty of assault.
“He’s the one that’s guilty,” the voice said. “He’s the murderer.”
That was right. Robaire had to pay for killing Kyle and Jando. He couldn’t get away with it. He couldn’t be left alone to kill again. She was the only one with any idea of the truth of what had happened. She had to get answers. She had to stop him.
The eyes of the others rested on Ghenn as she stood up and walked away. Panna hissed at her, “Where are you going?” but she paid the younger woman no mind. Ghenn’s footsteps echoed off the walls of the station’s bulkhead, like an antique clock marking out the seconds until the time of Robaire’s punishment.
The door to Robaire’s bunk was slightly ajar. Ghenn pushed it open, and found him sitting there alone, a smug smile on his face. He snorted. “So,” he said. “The Agency got to you, too.”