“No waste of any kind,” says Dutton.
“You’d expect that,” says Stone. “Andromeda’s perfect for existence in outer space: consumes everything, wastes nothing.”
Leavitt looks up in alarm.
Stone suddenly realizes the implications and looks at Dutton. Dutton turns and looks at Stone in horror.
“Good Lord!” says Stone, pushing a button on the console.
“What?” asks Hall, uncomprehending.
“Stone to Delta Five,” says Stone, “Put me through to Robertson immediately!”
“What?” repeats Hall.
“God, I hope we’re not too late,” says Leavitt.
“Tell me!” says Hall.
“It functions like an atomic reactor!” says Leavitt.
“An atomic blast could provide it with enough energy to grow into a gigantic supercolony,” says Stone.
“In one day,” adds Dutton.
Robertson appears on the video monitor. “You can relax now,” says Robertson. “We’ve just left the President. He agreed to drop the bomb.”
“No!” says Stone. “You’ve got to stop Seven Twelve from being carried out.”
“Now, wait a minute!” says Grimes on another monitor. “We’re not playing ping-pong! We just got through telling the President that you-“
“For God’s sake, go back!” says Leavitt. “it grows when exposed to x-rays, or any source of energy!”
“Tell him no nuclear device must be detonated anywhere near it!” says Dutton.
“We just found out Andromeda works like a little reactor: converts matter to energy, energy to matter, directly,” says Stone.
Robertson whistles. “Then the bomb would only provide a fantastically rich growth medium.” He turns to Grimes. “Understand?”
Grimes glares at the monitor.