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together with him, and see where it goes from there! It might go nowhere, and that's fine. It might go somewhere, and that's even better.

But if you turn around and leave, then it really was just a waste of time and money, and what's the point of that?"

"Why do you care, Al?" she asked after a moment's thought.

He shrugged. "He's my brother."

"No," she said, shaking her head. "There has to be more to it than that."

"You know what?" he told her. "Sometimes ... there isn't."

She seemed about to reply, but thought better of it. She rose from the edge of the bed and stood in the center of the room. Alex waited patiently, his hands folded in his lap. He realized that he'd pretty much said all there was to say. Now it was just a matter of waiting for her response.

A short time passed, and Alex began to wonder if she was ever going to speak again. Finally, she said, "So?"

"So ... what?"

She turned to face him. "So are you going to tell me where he is, or are you going to make me search the station for him?"

Immediately Alex was on his feet, grinning broadly, "I'll take you to him."

"Wipe that smile off your face," she told him, although she didn't sound particularly annoyed about it. "I'm not promising anything."

"Understood."

They headed out into the corridor, and as they went Sheila said, "By the way, not to change the subject you understand... but what the hell is that huge black thing outside the station?"

"It's called 'space.' "

"Ha, Ha, Mister Funny," Sheila said, unamused. "You know what I'm talking about."

He shook his head. "No idea," he told her. "I think that's what all these IPX people are running around about. No one knows what it is or where it came from."

"Well it makes me nervous," she said flatly. "I wish, wherever
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