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written by "Nourse, Alan Edward, 1928-1992"
...n for Retread back in '87, we'd have had Rinehart running for his life...." "But you don't," Carl cut in flatly, "and that's that." "What, are you crazy, son? I needed Armstrong, bad. Rinehart knew it, and had him taken care of. It was fishy—it stunk from here to Mars, but Rinehart covered it up fast and clean. But with the stuff you got up in the Colony, we can charge Rinehart with murder, and the whole Senate knows his motive already. He didn't dare to let Armstrong testify." Carl was shaking his head sadly. "Well, what's wrong?" "You aren't going to like this, Dan. Rinehart's clean. Armstrong comitted suicide." Fowler's mouth fell open, and he sat back hard. "Oh, no." "Sorry." "Ken Armstrong? Suicided?" He shook his head helplessly, groping for words. "I—I—oh, Jesus. I don't believe it. If Ken Armstrong suicided, I'm the Scarlet Whore of Babylon." "Well, we'll try to keep that off the teevies." "There's no chance that you're wrong," said the old man. Carl shook his head. "There's plenty that's funny about that Mars Colony, but Armstrong's death was suicide. Period. Even Barness didn't understand it." Sharp eyes went to Carl's face. "What's funny about the Colony?" Carl shrugged, and lit a cigarette. "Hard to say. This was my first look, I had nothing to compare it with. But there's something wrong. I always thought the Mars Colony was a frontier, a real challenge—you know, Man against the Wilderness, and all that. Saloons jammed on Saturday nights with rough boys out to get some and babes that had it to give. A place that could take Earthbound softies and toughen them up in a week, working to tame down the desert—" His voice trailed off. "They've got a saloon, all right—but everybody just comes in quietly and gets slobbery drunk. Met a guy named Fisher, thought the same thing I did when he came up five years ago. A real go-getter, leader type, lots of ideas and t...

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