The Criten gazed at the cryostasis ad. “If I weren’t in the opposite of marketing,” he muttered, “I’d say that sounds like a serious business proposition.” And to his surprise, he was tempted to sell the idea to the inevitable Yumar Canapia. He flipped off the vid and swivelled around to face the front of the craft, gazing on the wonders of the nebula through which they were passing.
“How long till we get there?” Kat asked.
“Another week or so. Are you sure he’ll be there?”
“I’m pretty sure.”
The Criten twiddled the engomater control, frowning. “I’m worried about all the Lounies, Kat.”
“Yeah, they look like they’re getting out of hand, don’t they?”
“I don’t suppose they’ll do any real harm.”
“You mean you hope they’ll do some real harm?”
“It’s such a bizarre situation,” the Criten said, and snapped off the little ball that controlled the engomater. “Rats!”
“Well, at least we won’t need the engomater till we get near. Maybe you should hold off on replacing it so you don’t break it again.” Kat was folding the laundry, and she tossed the Criten some socks.
They worked in silence for a while, then C.S. Lewis came in. “I’ve been watching things,” he said, sitting down and staring out at the nebula. He was jittery, and Kat noticed.
“What’s eating you?”
“It’s the Lounies,” Lewis said.
“Don’t worry about them. They’re no worse than a Spontaneous Anomalator Device—can we just call it SAD now?”
“We haven’t got to the bottom of the SAD, have we?” Lewis asked.
“Accounticon,” the Criten said, smirking.
“Now we’ve got Klamm,” Kat pointed out, “And the Raven. Have you factored them in?”
The Criten raised his eyebrows, “Oh yeah. They have to all be tied in, don’t they?”
“Anyway,” Lewis said, “I’m worried about the Lounies.”
“Did you ever meet Brother Anopheles?” the Criten asked him.
Lewis, of course, had not. “Who’s that?”
“Anopheles is keeping an eye on Felonius Assault, and he’s an agent of Klamm. Pastor Fel is actually exploiting the SADs. My theory is that the Lounies are exploding because he’s really working the SADs, or has imported more of them, or something like that.”
“Doesn’t that mean something’s impending?” Lewis asked.
“That’s what I would think; but Kat’s point—which she made before you came in—is that it can only lead to disaster.”
“Right . . . “
“So, think of what shape it could take.”
Lewis meditated for a while the Criten continued folding the socks. Kat had finished and was putting everything into the basket.
“Blow up the planet?” Lewis ventured.
“No,” the Criten said. “Try: opening up a vortex into the Transcendental Arrangement that sucks all that activity off the planet. Like the flushing of a giant toilet.”
“It can’t be that easy!” Lewis exclaimed, but he was pacing the deck now, excited.
* * *
What none of them were taking into account, was that the Doc, now that he was no longer human, was interested, for his wife’s sake, in cryogenesis.