It was only after he had dragged Vila’s body into the airlock that he saw the cube of plastic.
He knew what it was as soon as he tried to pick it up and couldn’t. A simple, stupid cube of plastic, and if they had only noticed it sooner, it could have saved Vila’s life. He grimaced, feeling something too akin to guilt for comfort. Glancing down at the corpse, listening to the whinging of the ship as it still struggled to fight against gravity, he acknowledged that it wasn’t the cubes’ fault Vila was dead. It wasn’t Orac’s fault for making the suggestion either; it was just a machine, following orders. He wanted to tell himself that it was Vila who had made him do it—they had met, face-to-face, and looking into Vila’s eyes, Avon found he couldn’t do it. It wasn’t until Vila, terrified out of his mind, had turned and run for it that he had.
Well, a moving target was much too much to resist. It had been easy, after that.
No, not easy: just possible. In the end, there was only one person to blame, only one man responsible for pulling the trigger, getting more blood on his hands. And now he had the corpse of another friend—for Vila had been a friend as much as anyone ever had—at his feet, a heavy cube of plastic mocking him only a few meters away, and not even the weapon they had come for to show for it. “Will you never learn?” he snarled.
The ship screamed around him, still not light enough, and Avon was torn with what to do: finish the job and jettison Vila into space, or try to move the cube and at least take him back to Scorpio?
Time finally decided for him. He stepped back into the corridor, leaving Vila, who seemed now only to be sleeping. With a jab of the button, the airlock opened and Vila was gone for good. Putting a hand to the door, Avon felt the ship ascending but no relief, and said, “Good night, Vila. You’ll have your harem of fur-dressed virgins now.”