Rachel set off immediately in a new direction, her stride purposeful as she began to explain the history of the project from its very beginnings. Minister Redman tagged along with a relaxed grace, speaking quietly as he drew alongside her.
“If you don’t mind me saying so, Professor, you sound more than a little paranoid right now. Why on earth would I want you off this project when you seem to be my best bet for getting what I want? You know as well as I do that this information needs to be in the public realm; that is what you believe in, isn’t it? Those are the principles that you are so well known for?” His voice was tight and irritated but his smile never wavered.
“Those are the principles that got me into so much trouble” she agreed, stepping back to look at him speculatively. “Ok, man of the people. What happens if I say no? Is that what the attack on the lab was? Have you been setting me up so that I’ll have no choice but to go with you or to lose everything?”
“Now who said that isn’t a choice?” he sneered at her. “But no, I am not setting you up. So far I haven’t really seen anything to convince me that you’re worth the risk. From what I’ve heard the attack on your lab was just a misunderstanding. Somehow he’d managed to convince himself that you had drugs on site, presumably to anaesthetise the bacteria or something. I don’t know…” He didn’t get to finish, Rachel cut across his protest angrily; reminding him that he’d approached her. She had no idea what kind of man he was, or how likely this was to be a trap, but he’d obviously done his homework on her. He had come into this conversation knowing full well what her history was, but she knew nothing about him. As she went on her voice became stronger, more impassioned and he raised his hand in warning.
“Keep your voice down or there will be no need to worry what kind of man I am” he hissed. Rachel snapped her mouth shut and glanced around guiltily. One or two people looked up, apparently curious, but not overly interested. Not yet. She nodded tersely in acknowledgement and he continued in a placating tone.
“Look, I don’t expect you to hand over anything today. Go away and think about your position; research me if you have to, but think properly: how could crowd sourcing work and what are the likely consequences if this is all simply suppressed? Sort yourself out and, if you do decide you want to help, wear that dress again next Wednesday. There’s someone on the support staff with personal reasons for being willing to help. If they see you in that dress, they’ll approach you and we can take it from there.” He looked over Rachel’s shoulder as he finished speaking and fixed his smile back in place as Professor Mossman approached them, announcing that it was time for the tour to end and politely offering to escort the minister back outside.