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A trio of Village People shot past me on the stairs. Two cops and an Indian, it had to be serious. I followed, pushing through the doors into Fourth.

The cops were sprinting toward Clapton and Winwood. I loped after them, elongating my stride and stretching out my platforms like an urban triple-jumper in search of sand.

I was out of breath but still mildly fashionable by the time I reached Engineering. The Indian ushered me into one of those techie rooms; all screens and dials and appalling color co-ordination.

Twig was already there, squatting next to a body. A lifeless rag sprawled on the floor - arms and legs thrown about like a puppet on acid - Pete Mayall, former engineer techie dude.

"How come you’re always first on the scene, Twig?"

"Because I don’t spend all my time sniffing around the Hatchery."

Point taken.

"So what do we have?"

"You mean besides the spread Head lying on the floor with a spanner stuck in his brain?"

I was about to counter with something really witty but I couldn’t nudge my brain past the subject of Twig’s jeans. How can anyone wear denim that tight and still bend?

"I don’t believe it, man," said a corkscrew-haired techie, feverishly pressing buttons. "We’ve dropped out of hyperspace."

"Which means what?" I asked.

"Which means we’ll never reach Earth unless I can get it fixed."


He stopped dead as though the thought had never occurred to him. Someone had deliberately dropped the ship out of hyperspace? And killed to do it?

Twig broke the silence.

"There’s something in his right hand. His fist’s balled tight but I think I can break it free."

Twig curled her long gloved fingers around the stiff’s and one by one pried each finger back.

"It’s a mirror," she said, surprised, looking at the tiny circle of silvered-glass lying in the dead man’s palm.

"Don’t touch it!" I said, verging on the melodramatic. But for a good reason. I’d seen a whole hatful of mirrors like that only a few hours earlier.

"Full genetic work-up, Twig. I want to know the names of everyone who’s handled that mirror."