It was, as usual, snowing in Sierra Colony. The alpine terrain, with its red-orange rock and deep maroon scrub, was under more than a foot of white powder by midnight. It was two hours into the morning when Coordinator Marx got the update he was looking for.
He was sitting on his glassed-in porch, smoking a thin cigarette full of Sierran tobacco. The stuff had none of the flavor of the old earth leaves, but twice the nicotine. Marx had decided to give in to his chronic insomnia and just watch the snow fall for a few hours. So he sat in his recliner, watching the world go white. Blank.
The irony was starting to get to him when his palmtop buzzed. With a sigh, he reached across to his endtable and flipped the device open.
He read the report from New Corinth slowly, carefully. The suicide mission turned victory. Both his candidates performed brilliantly. And now he finally had an excuse to fire Feinman. Belligerent little twit.
Then, he reached the final paragraph. 231 had executed his special weapons tech. During the debriefing back at the Tower base, 231 revealed that the defective clone had tried to convince him to rape a civilian the squad had rescued. He also admitted, without prompting, that he had aimed his weapon at the civilian before she identified herself. The woman, the report noted, gladly signed a waiver forfeiting her right to file a complaint.
This was it. Marx nodded to himself and tapped the messenger program on his computer. “To Lanie,” he said, watching his secretary’s name jump into the To field. “High priority. Requisition Goliath 231 for special assignment.” He slipped a fresh cigarette from the pocket of his robe and lit it with the stub of his latest.
“And schedule a conference with Coordinator Mousharif. Tell him one of his subordinates has some explaining to do. Send.”
Marx settled back in his chair, and the palmtop chimed. Message sent. He took a deep drag, his nerves finally calming. Goliath 231. He’d found his candidate.