edge. According to the file, this archaeo-linguist had taken a leave of absence from his job about six months ago, and had only been reactivated for this expedition. The whole situation seemed suspect.
Chang, left to his own devices, would never have chosen this man for his linguist. Anna doubted he could translate the Book of G'Quan, never mind the writings of a totally new, unknown culture. There wasn't much more to the file, except his current address, oddly enough, on Station Prime. From the tube stop, the address was a five-minute walk, as he'd described. She'd told him she wanted to review what equipment he needed, though what she actually wanted was the chance to size him up before they all got on a ship together headed for the rim.
The neighborhood was somewhat shabby, according to Centauri standards, the halls rather narrow and modest, with a lack of decorative ornament. She found the address and rang. The door opened, and she entered. A compact man came out of the darkness toward her.
She held out her hand, a bit uneasy.
"A pleasure to meet you."
He shook her hand, and his palm was soft and smooth, not like an archaeologist's at all. The door closed behind her, cutting off the main source of light.
"Lights," he said, turning away as the overheads came on.
"I'm sorry. Is it two o'clock already? I'm afraid I lost track of time."
"I'm sorry. Were you resting? I can come back later."
He turned back to face her, a pasted smile revealing a row of perfect white teeth.
"No, don't be silly. Please stay. Have a seat. Can I make you some tea?"
His voice was as smooth as his palms.
"No, I'm fine."
Anna sat on the couch. It was velour, with a high back, in the Centauri style. All of the furniture looked