In "A Mote in God's Eye", nearing the end of the book,
when the MacArthur was being abandoned and evacuated
Bury got hold of his "special" air-bottle:
Bury pushed and clawed his way toward the air-bottle locker. Ah. It was still there. He seized the dummy and handed it to Nabil, who fastened it to Bury's suit.
It is not stated clearly if he had two air-bottle on his back or one, but judging from what the officer said I understand that he didn't have additional air-bottles save the one "special" one:
"That won't be necessary, sir," an officer said.
The air-bottle contained something potentially very valuable to Bury.
The dummy bottle was on his shoulders, and inside it two miniatures in suspended animation. Wealth untold! Technology beyond anything even the First Empire ever had! An endless stream of new inventions and design improvements. Only. . . just what kind of djinn bottle had he opened?
But soon Bury had to throw that air-bottle in self defense (this also implies that he had only one, otherwise a better wording would be "ripping an air tank loose"):
He was wrenching at his back now, ripping the air tank loose. He poised the cylinder over his head, in both hands, and pitched it.
Once everything was settled, Bury thought this line:
Good: he'd thrown the right air tank. Allah was merciful.
This seems strange from a couple of reasons:
- If he only had just one air-bottle (as I understand), why would he think about "the right air tank"? Didn't he have just the "special" one? And if he had two air-bottles, which one is "the right air tank" - the "special" one or the real one?
- Was this the pivotal point of Bury's change of mind about the aliens? For the rest of the book his attitude is very different from before this incident, and I find his change of heart very sudden and un-genuine, as if he is hiding his true feelings regarding the aliens.
Basically I feel that I missed something vital regarding Bury around this incident, both in his behavior during the incident and how it has affected him later in the book. Perhaps "The Grasping Hand" is able to better clarify about Bury, but I haven't read it yet.