The Graveyard Gameby Kage Baker
Mendoza is a Preserver for The Dr. Zeus Company, living in the past to collect species for the future. But when she kills six people in California in 1863, The Company makes her disappear.
Joseph, a senior Preserver, loves Mendoza as the daughter he never had. Drunk on chocolate and fueled by rage, he's determined to find her however long it takes. Being an/p>
Mendoza is a Preserver for The Dr. Zeus Company, living in the past to collect species for the future. But when she kills six people in California in 1863, The Company makes her disappear.
Joseph, a senior Preserver, loves Mendoza as the daughter he never had. Drunk on chocolate and fueled by rage, he's determined to find her however long it takes. Being an indestructible, immortal cyborg gives him an unlimited well of patience.
What begins as a rescue mission uncovers a conspiracy stretching across fifty centuries of recorded history. Behind it lie genocide, graveyards filled with Company agents, and the roots of the ominous Silence that falls across the world in 2355.
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The Graveyard Game
By Kage Baker, David G. Hartwell
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2001 Rage Baker
All rights reserved.
What Has Gone Before
This is the fourth book in the unofficial history of Dr. Zeus Incorporated.
In the twenty-fourth century, a research and development firm invented a means of time travel. It also discovered the secret of immortality. There were, however, certain limitations that prevented the Company from bestowing these gifts left and right. But since the past could now be looted to increase corporate earnings, the stockholders were happy.
In the Garden of Iden introduced Botanist Mendoza, rescued as a child from the dungeons of the Inquisition in sixteenth-century Spain by a Company operative, Facilitator Joseph. In exchange for being given immortality and a fantastically augmented body and mind, she would work in the past for the future, saving certain plants from extinction.
On her first mission as an adult, Mendoza was sent with Joseph to England, where she fell in love with a mortal, with bitter consequences.
Sky Coyote opened over a century later, as Joseph arrived at the research base at New World One to look up his protégée and inform her they had both been drafted for a Company mission in Alta California. Mendoza said good-bye to the one friend she had made at New World One — Lewis — and went with Joseph.
Near a Chumash Indian village she met a number of the mortal masters from the future, and was appalled to find them bigoted and fearful of their cyborg servants. Joseph learned unsettling facts about the Company that brought to mind a warning he'd been given long ago by Budu, the Enforcer who recruited him.
Why was it that, though the immortal operatives were provided with information and other entertainment from the future, nothing they received was ever dated later than the year 2355?
At the conclusion of the mission, Mendoza remained in the wilderness of the coastal forests, working then alone as a botanist.
Mendoza in Hollywood opened in. 1862, as Mendoza journeyed reluctantly to her new posting: a stagecoach inn at a remote spot that one day would be known as Hollywood. There, near the violent little pueblo of Los Angeles (one murder a night, not counting Indians), she was to collect rare plants scheduled to go extinct in the coming drought.
Mendoza found herself now haunted by visions of her mortal lover, and she was giving off Crome's radiation again, the spectral blue fire of paranormal abilities that no cyborg was supposed to possess.
In a local spot known for strangeness, she encountered an anomaly that threw her temporarily into the future. There she glimpsed her friend Lewis, who tried frantically to tell her of an impending disaster.
Into her life came another mortal — Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax, an English spy involved in a plot to grab California for the British Empire. Edward looked enough like Mendoza's first love to have been cloned from him. Mendoza abandoned her post and ran away with Edward.
As they raced for sanctuary on Catalina Island, pursued by American agents and bounty hunters, Edward began to suspect that Mendoza was far more than a coaching-inn servant. Mendoza discovered that. Edward too was more than he seemed, in fact was connected to the Company in some way.
But before the lovers could solve their mutual riddle, their luck ran out. Edward was shot to death, and Mendoza went berserk with grief. The Company sent her to a penal station hundreds of millennia in the past — the preferred method of disposing of troublesome immortals ...CHAPTER 2
Joseph in the Darkness
You know something, father? Sin exists. It really does.
I'm not talking about guilt, I'm talking about cause and effect. Every single thing we do wrong comes back to get us, sooner or later. You knew that, didn't you? And you told me, and I ... well, I was so much more flexible than you, wasn't I? I could see all sides of every question. You saw black and white, and I saw all those gray tones.
For the longest time, I thought I was the one who had it right. I mean, you wound up here at last, didn't you? And I'm still free, as free goes. But whatever you're feeling, in there, I'll bet your conscience isn't bothering you.
You'd have let the little girl die, I know. Sized Mendoza up with that calm ruthless look, seen what she was and given your judgment: unsuitable for augmentation. Sent her back to die of starvation in the dungeon. She'd only have lasted another couple of days, she was so weak. Maybe I'd have let her die too, if I hadn't thought there was a chance they might interrogate her again before she died, and use the hot coals on her this time.
That was why I lied, father. It seemed doable at the time. Rescue the kid, make her one of us, give her a wonderful new life working for the Company. Nobody would ever find out about that freaky little something extra she had. Hell, every living thing generates the Crome's stuff from time to time. Only one person in a million ever manages to produce enough to do things like walk through walls or be in two places at once. How was I to know ...?
You're right, it was still wrong. And did anybody ever thank me for my random act of kindness? Not little Mendoza, that's for damned sure. Not on that day in England in 1555 when I stood beside her watching her mortal lover burn. How could she thank me? Her heart was in shreds and she could never die, no matter how much she wanted to, and it was my fault.
And I wouldn't be here now, either, would I, father? Going from vault to vault, looking up at the blind silent faces, to see if one of them is hers. Hoping to find her here in one of these houses of the near dead, even if I can't set her free this time, praying she's here: because there are worse places she might be.
I guess I was a lousy father to her. I hope I've been a better son to you. Yes, father, there's sin, and there's eternal punishment for sin. It's like a rat gnawing at your guts.
Sorry about the metaphor. Don't take it personally.
Look, we've got all night: and you're not going anywhere. I'll tell you about it.CHAPTER 3
Something odd had happened.
Unless you possessed the temporally keen senses of an immortal cyborg, though, you wouldn't have noticed, over all the racket floating up from the roaring, grinding city. Lewis, being an immortal cyborg, frowned slightly as he accelerated up Mount Olympus Drive and scanned the thick air. He was a dapper man, with the appearance of someone who has wandered out of a Noel Coward play and got lost in a less gracious place.
Earthquake? No, or there would have been car alarms shrieking and people standing out on the sidewalk, a place the inhabitants of Los Angeles County seldom ventured nowadays without body armor.
Still, there was a sense of insult on the fabric of space and time, a residual shuddering Lewis couldn't identify at all.
He turned left into Zeus Drive and nosed his jade-green BMW into the driveway of the house. Nothing out of the ordinary here that he could see. He shut off the engine, removed his polarized sunglasses and put them in their case, removed his studio parking tag, and carefully put glasses and tag in the glove compartment. Only then did he emerge from the car and look about, sniffing the air.
Other than a higher than normal amount of ozone and an inexplicable whiff of horse, the air wasn't any worse than usual. Lewis shrugged, took up his briefcase, locked the car, and entered Company HQ.
What was that high-pitched whine? Lewis set down his briefcase, tossed his keys on the hall table, and looked into what would have been an ordinary suburban living room if it hadn't had a time transcendence chamber in one wall. Maire, the station's Facilitator, was activating it. She turned to him.
"You should have been here, Lewis. We've had quite an afternoon," she said.
He barely heard her, his gaze drawn to the window of the chamber. He gaped, astonished to see a pair of very uneasy horses and two oddly dressed people in there, just beginning to be obscured by the rising stasis gas.
One of the people raised her hand and waved. She was a sharp-featured woman, with cold black eyes and hair bound back in a long braid. She smiled at him. He knew the smile. It made her eyes less cold. The woman was the Botanist Mendoza.
Lewis had loved her, quietly, for several centuries, and she had never once noticed. They were stationed at the same research base for many years before she was transferred. He thought of writing to her after that, but then lost his chance, because she made a terrible mistake.
So terrible, in fact, that it was impossible that she could be standing there now smiling at him.
Then he connected the horses with the nineteenth-century clothing she was wearing. Was he seeing her, somehow, before the commission of her mistake? Was there any chance he might warn her, prevent the catastrophe?
No, because you couldn't violate the laws of temporal physics. You couldn't change history. He knew that perfectly well and yet found himself running to the chamber as the gas boiled up around her, beating on the window with his fists.
"Mendoza!" he shouted. "Mendoza, for God's sake! Don't go with him!"
She stared, taken aback, and then turned her wondering face to her companion. Lewis realized she thought he meant the other immortal, and cried, "No!"
She looked back at him and shook her head, shrugging.
"No, no!" Lewis shouted, and he could feel tears welling in his eyes as he pressed his hands against the glass, to push across time by main force. Futile. She was vanishing from his sight even now, as the yellow gas obscured everything.
Out of the clouds, her hand emerged for a moment. She set it against the window, palm to palm with his flattened hand, a gesture he would have died for once, rendered less personal by the thickness of the glass.
Then she was gone, he had lost her again, and he staggered back from the chamber and became aware that Maire was standing beside him. He turned and looked into her amazed eyes, struggled to compose himself.
"Er — what's going on?" he inquired, in the coolest voice he could summon.
"You tell me!" was Maire's reply.
In the end, though, she had to explain first. What he had seen was a temporal anomaly — nothing the Company couldn't handle. In fact Maire had received advance warning this morning from Future HQ. It was all listed in the Temporal Concordance. Everyone knew that weird things happened at the Mount Olympus HQ anyway, overlooking as it did Laurel Canyon's notorious Lookout Mountain Drive. It had been built to monitor that very location, actually.
This didn't do a lot to clear up Lewis's confusion. Temporal Concordance or not, it was still supposed to be impossible for anybody in the past to jump forward through time. When he mentioned this, Maire glanced at the techs and drew him aside.
"She was your friend, wasn't she?"
"Yes," said Lewis. "A — a coworker. We were close."
Maire said in a low voice:
"Then you knew she was a Crome generator."
Lewis hadn't known. He was unable to hide his shock. Watching his face go pale, Maire lowered her voice even more.
"Lewis, I'm sorry. I'm afraid it's true. Something latent that wasn't caught when she was recruited, apparently. You know what those people are; she might have warped the field any one of a dozen ways. What can I tell you? The impossible happens, sometimes."
He nodded, silent. Maire looked him up and down and pursed her lips.
"Under the circumstances, you see why there wasn't anything you could have done to help her," she said, in a tone that was gentle but suggested he'd better get a grip on himself now.
Lewis gulped and nodded.
Nothing more was said that night, and he thought the matter would slip by without further discussion. But next morning at breakfast, Maire said, "You're still upset. I can tell."
"I guess I made a fool of myself," Lewis replied, sipping his coffee. "She was a good friend."
"I wouldn't worry about it, Lewis," she told him, stirring sugar into her cup. The tech who was on his hands and knees scrubbing a large stain off the carpet looked up to glare at her. She glared back and slowly lifted her coffee, drinking it in elaborate enjoyment. "I might have done the same thing in your shoes. Besides, you're a valued Company operative."
"That's nice to know," said Lewis mildly, but he felt the hair stand on the back of his neck. He modified the slight tremor into a sad shake of his head. "Poor Mendoza. But, after all, a Crome generator! At least the rumors make sense now."
"Yes," Maire agreed. "Cream?"
"Thank you." Lewis held out his cup. The tech made a disgusted noise. He was a relatively young immortal, having traveled to 1996 from the year 2332 and not liking the past at all. He didn't care for decadent old immortals who indulged in disgusting controlled-substance abuse either. Coffee, cream, and chocolate were all illegal in his era. More: they were immoral.
"Unfortunate, but the sooner we put it behind us the better," Maire continued. She rose and wandered over to the picture window, which looked out across Laurel Canyon. It was a hazy morning in midsummer, with the sky a delicate yellow shading to blue at the zenith. The yellow was from internal combustion engines. The air burned, acrid on one's palate, and was full of the wailing of sirens and the thudding beat of helicopter blades. Maire was fifteen thousand years old, but the late twentieth century didn't bother her much; she'd seen worse. Besides, this was Hollywood.
Behind her, Lewis drained his coffee and set down his saucer and cup. "Sound advice," he said. "Well, I'd better hit the road. I'm going up to San Francisco today. That fellow with the Marion Davies correspondence has settled on a price at last."
"No, really?" Maire grinned. "I suppose you'll pay a little visit to ..." She dropped her eyes to the tech, who was still scrubbing away, and looked back up at Lewis. Ghirardelli's? she transmitted on a private channel.
Lewis stood and took her hand. Shall I bring you back a box of little Theobromos cable cars? he transmitted back.
Her smile widened, showing a lot of beautiful and very white teeth. She squeezed his hand. She was a strong woman. You're a dear.
"To Fisherman's Wharf? Certainly. Shall I bring you back a loaf of sourdough bread?" Lewis asked.
"You're a dear! Boudin's, please." She glanced down at the tech mischievously. "I wonder if they'll still pack up those boiled crabs in ice chests for you."
The tech looked horrified.
"I'll find out." Lewis slipped his hand free and took his briefcase and keys. "Ciao, then. If I have to stay over, I'll give you a call."
"Oh, stay over," Maire ordered, waving him to the door. "Too long a drive to make twice in one day. Besides, you could use a little vacation. Get this unfortunate incident out of your mind."
"Oh, that," said Lewis, as though he'd forgotten already. "Yes, well, I imagine a ride on a cable car will lighten my spirits."
He wasn't referring to the popular tourist transit. Theobroma cacao has a unique effect on the nervous systems of immortals. Make chuckled at his joke. The tech looked over his shoulder in a surly kind of way as Lewis stepped out into the heat and light of a Southern California morning.
He walked once around his car to inspect it for vandalism. When this Company HQ had been built, thirty years earlier, the gated community in which it was situated was regularly patrolled, to say nothing of being perched so far up on such a steep hill as to deter most criminals. Times had changed.
Sooner or later, they always did.
Satisfied that his leased transport was safe for operation, Lewis got in. Carefully he fastened his seatbelt and put on his sunglasses; carefully he backed out onto Zeus Drive and headed over the top of the hill to the less crowded exit from Mount Olympus. As he descended, he had a brief view of the city that stretched to the sea. Beyond, it had once been possible to see Catalina Island. The island was still there, but the smog hid it. Only once in a great while, when atmospheric conditions were just right, could it be glimpsed.
He proceeded down to Hollywood Boulevard and headed north through Cahuenga Pass, where he got on the Hollywood Freeway. He bore east to Interstate 5. After Mission San Fernando he followed the old stagecoach road, now a multilane highway into the mountains. It took him north, under arches restored since the last earthquake.
Long high miles brought him to Tejon Ranch, where the road dropped like a narrow sawmill flume between towering mountains preposterously out of scale. At the top, the San Joaquin Valley hung before his eyes like a curtain, and far down and away the tiny road raced across it, straight as an arrow.
He shivered, remembering how bad the grim old Ridge Route had been, especially in the season of flash floods, or forest fires, or blizzards, or summer heat so extreme, it made automobile tires explode. The modern road had only the drawback of the San Andreas Fault, which lay directly beneath it.
Excerpted from The Graveyard Game by Kage Baker, David G. Hartwell. Copyright © 2001 Rage Baker. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Kage Baker is best known for her time travel series about The Company, of which this is the fourth volume and, more recently, for her popular fantasy novel The Anvil of the World. Born in Hollywood, California, she has been a graphic artist and mural painter, a playwright, bit player, director, teacher of Elizabethan English for the stage, stage manager and educational program coordinator. She lives in Pismo Beach, CA.
Kage Baker was an artist, actor, and director at the Living History Centre and taught Elizabethan English as a Second Language. Her books include In the Garden of Iden, Sky Coyote, and Mendoza in Hollywood, among many others. Born in 1952 in Hollywood, she lived in Pismo Beach, California, the Clam Capital of the World. She died on January 31, 2010.
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I did not expect to be able to count The Graveyard Game for my challenge; I thought I had filled all the categories this series could fill. However, Baker makes a dramatic change to her series in this volume, and that change opened up a new category for me: she dropped the first-person narration and switched to third-person omniscient, so that she could follow both Lewis and Joseph as they took their diverging paths to finding the truth about Mendoza and the other operatives that have gone missing through the ages. Lewis was a very minor character in Sky Coyote; no one will ever rival Joseph as my favorite character in this series, but Lewis was a nice addition to the mix, being very different from both Mendoza and Joseph. While Mendoza is passionate and self-centered and Joseph is cynical and a delightful mix of self-aware and self-deluding, Lewis is a gentle soul, artistic and romantic and not at all concerned with (or a concern of) the larger issues of Company politics and the Silence. He has also been quietly in love with Mendoza for centuries, so when he starts to get wind that something nefarious is connected with her disappearance, he forces Joseph to let him help. This novel serves as a bridge between the first three Company novels, which were very narrowly focused around specific events, and the rest of series, which looks to be shaping up into a large, millennia-spanning epic. It also serves to move us very quickly from 1996 forward all the way to 2276, less than 80 years before the Silence that has caused such consternation among all the different factions in the Company. We get glimpses of the multitude of disasters that has depopulated the Earth and created the very childlike, Puritannical mortals we met in Sky Coyote; but Baker's focus is not on the world-building but on her characters. As Lewis gets more and more wrapped up in his investigation of who Edward Alton-Bell Fairfax was, Joseph is forced to confront all those things he had willfully blinded himself to for so long. The sections in his narration are the strongest of the book the same way Sky Coyote is the strongest volume in the series -- unfortunately, they are short enough that they can be set off in italics without risking eyestrain. This volume does its job well, filling us in on all sorts of stuff Mendoza isn't aware of, but it isn't as emotionally satisfying as earlier volumes. It feels like a transition book, and should be read as such -- valuable in the information it provides, but not capable of standing on its own in any way. Those that have been titillated by the hints dropped in the previous three books about the Company will start getting their answers here, but those that enjoyed the previous three books for their narrow focus on individual characters and events may think that this is the point where the series jumps the shark.