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frightening to realize that the station's chief medical officer had a very highly pronounced streak of sadism about him.

"This is just hideous ..." she moaned.

Franklin nodded sympathetically, and then his gaze seemed to drift off for a moment. As if remembering from a great distance, he said, "You know back on Earth, along the Amazon in South America, they've got these army ants. They sweep across the forest in a carpet five inches thick, millions of them. They're less than an inch long," and he held up his fingers to demonstrate, "but they can devastate an entire forest in less than an hour."

She stared at him silently and made a gesture that seemed to say, And the point is ... ? For his reply, he looked around the crowd that was hurtling past them at what appeared to be breakneck speed. Considering that everyone involved continued to have little-to-no clue as to where they were actually supposed to be going, it seemed that never had so many done so little so quickly and so loudly. "I didn't know army ants had cousins this far out into space," Franklin said by way of concluding the previous thought.

Sounding not the least bit as if she were joking, Ivanova said, "Do you think anybody'd notice if I killed afew of them?"

Franklin considered the question. "How many?" It seemed to be the appropriate response.

After a moment of judging what she thought she could get away with, she replied, "I dunno ... ten?"

Franklin shook his head with conviction. "They'd notice," he assured her.

She reassessed. "Six?"

With a slow grin, Franklin said, "Go for it."

He waited for her to crack a smile in return. She didn't. And suddenly he had the feeling that she was about to yank out a Phased Plasma Gun and start blasting, shouting "Doctor's orders" in a demented
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