They followed the Iceman through a series of turns Martine tried hard to remember. When they emerged, it was into a long corridor lined with windows. Each window gazed into a small white room. Each contained only a bed. “These are my studios,” he said. Glancing back at them, he said, “You’ve never had to use an arrangement, have you, Martine?”
She shook her head.
He smiled. “I thought not.”
“How can you tell?” she wanted to know, but his attention was drawn away by a commotion down the hall. There came an eerie, three-note tone, and a caddy carrying a young female blank rolled across the hall and into another room. When the caddy rolled out again, it was empty. As the door closed, a recording began to play:
“Relax. Welcome. You are in Orbital 9, the creation station of the Iceman. Your mind has been successfully placed-”
“Fascinating,” Martine said.
“You think so? After the 7th re-animation, it becomes tiresome. For most people there is a waiting period before the mind can establish itself in its new home. The process is not always instant, unfortunately.”
"But what about the blank you showed us earlier? The one with the knives."
The Iceman smiled. "Oh. That one's a pro. He doesn't miss a beat." He stopped and gestured towards a door. "It's all right, he said. "He can't see you."
They looked in. A young man was cross legged on the bed, his back against the wall. He looked bewildered.
“That is Tomas,” the body-writer said. “He worked with his father on a mining rig. The entire family was killed this morning, but Tomas’ father had created him an arrangement as a birthday surprise. Without the boy's knowledge, of course. Imagine, to see your entire family die—to feel your own body die—and then to wake up alone in a strange room. Unfortunately he now has nowhere to go, and no people to take him.”
“So you want us to take him,” Martine said. “Well.”
“A well is a hole in the ground,” the Iceman said. “He cannot stay here.”
“Where we’re headed is dangerous,” Jacques said. “Can’t risk it. Sorry.”
“I’m afraid you have no other options, sir. Your cargo is stolen and stained with blood. You are asking me to relieve you of the evidence from a crime, and to give you priceless commodities in return. I must insist you take Tomas.” The Iceman’s eyes were bright as glass.
Jacques sighed. “All right, let’s meet Tomas, then,” he said. “After you. Sir."
The boy was seventeen. He looked up absently as they walked in. He was brushing at the flesh of his arm as if it were dirty.
“Hello,” he said.
“Tomas,” Martine said, extending her hand. “I'm Martine.”
His eyes flickered, but it was a moment before he took her hand.
“Did you see what happened?”
The body-writer closed the door. “Tomas, remember what we talked about? You aren’t on Gypsy any longer. This is Orbital 9. And this,” he touched Tomas’ arm, “is your new body. Your old one is gone. So is your old life.”
“Yes, you did say that,” the boy said, faintly. His eyes reddened and he looked away. “Excuse me. I'm not myself.”
Coyote edged into the room. "Nope, you sure aren't. Not anymore."
Martine glared at him. She stroked Tomas' shoulder. “You needn’t apologize. But we’re here to take you somewhere more restful, Tomas. Will you come with us?”