The Mandel Files

The Mandel Files by Peter F. Hamilton

Book: The Mandel Files by Peter F. Hamilton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter F. Hamilton
sort of engineering administration degree, fully cleared for company confidential material up to grade eleven, risen fast, unblemished reputation for competence.
    He reminded Greg of Victor Tyo; the resemblance wasn’t physical, but both of them had that same hard knot of urgency, polite and determined.
    The security team spilled out of the tilt-fan to stand behind Greg, waiting impassively. Sean Francis looked at them with a growing frown.
    “My office was told you’re here to check on our spaceflight operations, yes?” Sean Francis said. “I’m afraid I don’t understand, the Sangers are a mature system. I rather doubt their flight procedures can be improved after all this time.”
    Greg produced the card Walshaw had provided, which Francis promptly waved away. “It’s not your identity I’m questioning,” he said, “merely your purpose. OK?”
    “This is not the place,” Greg said quietly. “Now would you please verify my card.”
    Francis held out his cybofax, and Greg showed his card to the key. There was an almost subliminal flash of ruby light as the two swapped polarized photons.
    He took his time checking the authorization before nodding sadly. “I see. Perhaps my office would be a more suitable venue. Yes?”
    The seven of them started down the length of the deck towards the superstructure, drawing curious glances from Oscot’s crew.
    Instinct made Greg look up towards the south-west. There was a black dot expanding rapidly out of the featureless sky, losing height fast. It was a returning Sanger orbiter, curving in a long shallow arc, pitched up to profile its sable-black heatshield belly. Greg tracked its descent, working out that it would reach zero altitude right at the end of the floating runway. He held his breath.
    The orbiter straightened out three hundred metres from the runway, wings levelling. It smacked down on the concrete, blue-white plumes of smoke spurting up from the undercarriage. Small rockets fired in the nose, slowing its speed.
    “What if it missed?” Greg asked. The orbiters didn’t have a jet engine, they couldn’t go around.
    “They don’t,” Sean Francis said.

    “It’s impressive,” Morgan Walshaw admitted. “One of the biggest tekmerc deals for quite some time. We estimate thirty to thirty-five of them were assembled to turn our memox-crystal furnace operators. As far as we can tell, they started last June, and they were still recruiting until November. That kind of involvement would take kombinate-level resources.” There was a grudging note in his voice that implied respect, or even admiration.
    Julia didn’t like that, the security chief was supposed to be guarding her and Grandpa, not paying compliments to their enemies. It was that bloody dividing line between the legal and illegal again, too thin, far too thin.
    “So it’s impressive,” Philip Evans grunted. “So is your division’s budget, Morgan. Question is: what are you doing about it?” He was sitting at the head of the table in the study with Julia and Morgan Walshaw on either side, facing each other.
    Julia would’ve liked to voice her own criticism, but didn’t quite have the nerve. Morgan Walshaw was a forbidding figure, he’d always been stern around her, as if she didn’t match up to his expectations.
    “My priority at the moment is to halt the spoiler,” Walshaw said. “Thanks to Greg Mandel we’ve rounded up all the guilty furnace operators who were on their furlough. Unfortunately none of the Zanthus management personnel he interviewed were responsible for circumventing the security monitors, we have to conclude the culprit is up there now. Mandel should be able to find him without any trouble.”
    “Told you that boy was just what we needed,” Philip Evans said.
    Walshaw remained unperturbed by the implied criticism, his composure mechanical. “Yes. We shall have to give serious consideration to employing gland psychics in security after this. The tekmercs seem

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