The long-awaited, intricate sequel to Cherryh's Hugo-winning Cyteen(1989) brings events full circle. Brilliant 18-year-old scientist Ariane Emory, a clone, resumes the work of her original: psychogenesis, the cloning of psychology and memory. Fellow clone Justin Warrick tutors "second Ariane," but when Justin's exiled original, Jordan, returns to Cyteen's research city of Reseune, he stirs up trouble and questions about who really killed first Ariane and why the clones of the participants in Cyteen's original power struggle seem to be reprising the roles of their predecessors. Plots and subplots revolve around second Ariane as she desperately attempts to unravel the motivations of players alive and dead. Complex and rich, with beautifully rounded characters, this novel can stand alone, but will delight fans of Cyteen with extra layers of meaning that resonate between old and new. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Regenesis (Cyteen Series)by C. J. Cherryh
The long-awaited sequel to the Hugo award-winning novels Cyteen and Downbelow Station.
The direct sequel to Cyteen, Regenesis continues the story of Ariane Emory, Personal Replicate, the genetic clone of one of the greatest scientists humanity has ever produced, and of her search for the murderer of her progenitor-the original/i>/b>/i>/i>
The long-awaited sequel to the Hugo award-winning novels Cyteen and Downbelow Station.
The direct sequel to Cyteen, Regenesis continues the story of Ariane Emory, Personal Replicate, the genetic clone of one of the greatest scientists humanity has ever produced, and of her search for the murderer of her progenitor-the original Ariane Emory. Murder, politics, deception, and genetic and psychological manipulation combine against a backdrop of interstellar human factions at odds to confront questions that have remained unanswered for two decades...
Who killed the original Ariane Emory?
And can her Personal Replicate avoid the same fate?
As one of humanity's most talented scientists, Ariane Emory was critical in the movement against the continued terraforming of the human-colonized planet Cyteen. Now, her clone, or Personal Replicate, Ariane Emory PR, possesses full citizenship rights and all the perks that were once her "mother's"-and she must discover who was responsible for her original's death before she suffers the same fate. Set against the richly developed future involving political, social, and sometimes military battles between the Union and Alliance interstellar organizations, this latest novel by the author of the Alliance-Union Universe novels serves as a sequel to both Cyteen and Downbelow Station. Cherryh's storytelling talent remains unmatched for its clearness of execution and its exceptional readability. Most libraries will want this volume for their sf collections. Highly recommended.
Read an Excerpt
Raves for Regenesis:
“The long-awaited, intricate sequel to Cherryh’s Hugo-winning Cyteen brings events full circle. Complex and rich, with beautifully rounded characters, this novel can stand alone, but will delight fans of Cyteen with extra layers of meaning that resonate between old and new.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“In the vast Alliance-Union universe, Ariane Emory, protagonist of Cyteen, seeks the murderer of the scientist of whom she is a clone, and anything less like the usual quest tale is hard to imagine, despite high rates of suspense and conflict between good, evil, and everything that lies between them. In Alliance-Union, there is lots of room between moral absolutes, and in this big book, lots of space for absorbing characters; for adventure, intrigue, and violence; and for plausible extrapolations of current technologies and institutions.”
“Set against the richly developed future involving political, social, and sometimes military battles between the Union and Alliance interstellar organizations, this latest novel by the author of the Alliance-Union Universe novels serves as a sequel to both Cyteen and Downbelow Station. Cherryh’s storytelling talent remains unmatched for its clearness of execution and its exceptional readability. Highly recommended.”
“Long-delayed sequels can often run aground because the author has forgotten important details or has changed so much that she’s a different person form the one who crafted the original. This is not the case here. Cherryh’s latest remains true to her original dystopian vision.”
“It has been twenty long years since Cyteen was first released and happily, the continuation Regenesis was worth the wait. A fine piece of work that displays Cherryh’s mastery of the storyteller’s art.”
—Monsters & Critics
DAW Titles by
THE FOREIGNER UNIVERSE
THE ALLIANCE-UNION UNIVERSE
THE DEEP BEYOND Omnibus:
Serpent’s Reach | Cuckoo’s Egg
ALLIANCE SPACE Omnibus:
Merchanter’s Luck | 40,000 in Gehenna
AT THE EDGE OF SPACE Omnibus:
Brothers of Earth | Hunter of Worlds
THE FADED SUN Omnibus:
Kesrith | Shon’jir | Kutath
THE CHANUR NOVELS
THE CHANUR SAGA Omnibus:
The Pride of Chanur | Chanur’s Venture | The Kif Strike Back
CHANUR’S ENDGAME Omnibus:
Chanur’s Homecoming | Chanur’s Legacy
THE MORGAINE CYCLE
THE MORGAINE SAGA Omnibus:
Gate of Ivrel | Well of Shiuan | Fires of Azeroth
THE DREAMING TREE Omnibus:
The Tree of Swords and Jewels | The Dreamstone
ALTERNATE REALITIES Omnibus:
Port Eternity | Wave Without a Shore | Voyager in Night
THE COLLECTED SHORT FICTION OF CJ CHERRYH
ANGEL WITH THE SWORD
Table of Contents
HISTORY OF UNION: The Post-War Period
Union came out of the Company Wars with both territory and political integrity, not beholden to Earth or Alliance for either. The Treaty of Pell, which ended active hostilities between Union and Alliance, left Earth independent, though militarily reliant on Pell’s Star. The Company Fleet had defied Earth’s authority, rejected the Treaty of Pell, and continued acts of piracy, as apt to prey on Earth’s ships as on Union’s, and now lacking a safe port.
The Treaty incidentally left the merchanter Council of Captains with more power than Pell’s Star Station held in the affairs of the Alliance.
And the same Treaty ceded the greater expanse of human-explored space to the authority of Union . . . but placed merchant trade exclusively in the hands of the Alliance Council of Captains.
It was an agreement equally unpopular on all sides—which spoke a great deal to its fairness—and it was immediately followed by a period in which all former combatants maneuvered for advantage, everyone dreading a resumption of hostilities, but most convinced that war would break out again, probably within a lifetime.
The Hinder Stars, that bridge of closely lying, generally barren stars between Earth and Pell, became a zone of renewed interest for the Alliance, which governed that region. The Council of Captains, whose livelihood was their ships and their trade, looked to revitalize the mothballed stations on that route—stations that had collapsed economically with the advent of faster-than-light engines. Alliance thus moved to set itself as middleman between Earth and Union, and to profit from that trade . . . if it could re-establish viable populations to consume the goods it wanted to trade along the way.
Union enjoyed the manufacture, mining, and prosperity of its own widely scattered stations, from Mariner and Viking to outlying Fargone, and it had the colonized world of Cyteen, with its major exports: the rejuv drug, embryos, genetically enhanced biologicals, azi workers, and concentrated foodstuffs.
In the viewpoint of the merchanter captains of the Alliance, that was a somewhat reasonable model for what the Alliance could create around Pell’s World—Downbelow—by repopulating the abandoned starstations of the Hinder Stars, and revivifying trade with, not one, but two living worlds within their reach—Downbelow and Earth itself.
It was a reasonable model in all save one respect: the Alliance plan for the Hinder Stars relied on recruitment of station citizens and the natural human birth rate to provide population. This meant luring the poorer of the residents of Pell and Earth to live in frontier conditions at outmoded, pre-FTL stations.
The natural human birth rate is slow: that was one flaw in the plan; and, the second, the poorer residents of Pell Station, who had suffered most in the war years, were not generally optimists about government promises. Spacers would never give up their ships and family connections to settle permanently on stations. Earth residents were barred by laws restricting emigration of its educated and essential. So a consumer population, particularly of educated and prosperous classes, was very hard to obtain in the Hinder Stars. Subsidies began to drain Pell’s economy and raise taxes on Pell Station itself, a source of great discontent.
There was also a basic conflict between station interests and spacer interests: stationers were not anxious to see their power further diminished by spacer exploitation of the planet beneath their feet. On the one hand there was no great enthusiasm among stationers to visit their sole Earthlike planet—it had its hazards, and intelligent inhabitants. And secondly, there had begun to be a strong green party. That party, combined with those stationers fearing the Council of Captains would dominate the station itself, passed legislation making Pell’s World a protectorate unavailable for colonization. That cut one leg from under the merchanter captains’ plan.
Contrast this situation with Union, which exited the Company Wars with an abundance of thriving stations, two stations at Cyteen’s own home star, besides Mariner and Viking, which posed a convenient bridge to the Alliance trade. The terms of the Treaty of Pell demanded Alliance merchanters serve those routes, as a condition of Union not building merchanters of their own. And this, of course, provided sorely needed markets for Alliance, but not as profitable markets, counting Union tariffs, as they would be if Alliance owned the cargos and the stations.
And, while Alliance merchanter ships plied Union space, serving chains of Union starstations down various strands of stars, it was universally Union industry which benefitted from the transport. From Pan-Paris, on one route, to Fargone, on the other, with Cyteen itself at the center, Union had come out of the Company Wars with the kind of trade network and consumer base that the Alliance only dreamed of building.
Union stations numbered populations in the multiple hundreds of thousands, though Union was far younger than Pell. Cyteen itself, which did allow humans onworld, counted population in the millions . . . but the largest population center in Alliance space numbered, officially, counting both the remote and the near station at Pell, around half a million. Counting the merchanters on ships and miners at various outposts, the whole population of the Alliance numbered probably a quarter of a million more. So the bulk of human population in the universe might still be still centered at Sol, with its billions, but the population of Union now had to be counted as a major alternate center. The exponential increase challenged the economic power that Alliance had once considered unassailable: If that rate of growth continued, one day there would be more humans in Union than presently lived on Earth itself.
Union did not rely on natural human birth rate, or on emigration. Union used birthlabs. Union could create a station and, within twenty years, raise up thousands of highly motivated, trained inhabitants—inhabitants ready to meet the difficulties of station-building, perfectly content with barracks conditions at the outset, and ready to teach their naturally born children their values of hard work, adequate leisure, participation in the group, and, in due proportion, independent analytical thinking.
More, Union had rejuv, a product of Cyteen’s biology, which doubled and tripled the productive years of its workers and thinkers. Natural reproduction might stop at forty, when a person went on rejuv, but work and economic production went on . . . and the birthlabs could enable individuals to reproduce into their next century.
Alliance efforts to revive the Hinder Stars, even starting with prebuilt residencies and mothballed businesses, were slow and subject to supply and personnel shortages. They failed to meet immigrant expectations of quick riches and reasonable living conditions. Only the smallest, marginal traders were willing to ply those routes, while the richer Alliance ships engaged in the far more lucrative trade within Union space. Factor in the occasional appearance of Mazianni pirates—former Earth Company Fleet—at these lonely, largely undefended stations of the Hinder Stars, and the reluctance of Alliance stationers to undertake the risk of living there was understandable.
Union, seeing that the Mazianni were deriving supply and new personnel from those stations, offered to assist the Alliance in patrols there, but old suspicions died hard. Alliance rebuffed Union offers, convinced that Union was seeking to control all these stations, which represented their route to Earth.
Besides, the Alliance was engaged in another, secret project: it had long known of an Earth-class world within its grasp, and it mounted an expedition which the Alliance captains saw as finally giving the Alliance the exploitable world they so greatly wanted.
The expedition arrived at that planet, and found it already occupied by a human colony . . . a Union colony.
The timing of the revelation could not have been worse for Alliance-Union relations. During the negotiations for the Treaty, Pell had strongly insisted on acquiring adjacent territory . . . knowing that world was there.
But a secret Union operation at the close of the War had landed not a military occupation, but a colony. The CIT supervisors of the colony, largely military, had perished early. The azi workers, however, had survived, multiplied, and scattered into the outback, incidentally commingling Terran-origin biologicals and highly engineered microbes with the native fauna . . . and ultimately making accommodation with the native life.
The revelation of the Union colony on that world—which came to be known as Gehenna—came close to shipwrecking the Treaty of Pell. Alliance held that the Union signers of the Treaty had kept Gehenna a secret, and that the Treaty had thus not been negotiated in good faith. Union responded that its negotiators had not known about the colony, and that, within the framework of Union government, all knowledge of the settlement had been sequestered within two of the branches of government, Science and Defense. Thus the Bureau of State, which had negotiated and maintained the Treaty, had had absolutely no knowledge there was a problem.
Further, Union argued, the administrations of Science and Defense, under Emory of Science and Adm. Azov of Defense, had profoundly changed personnel since the War, and with the present Council of Nine pressing strongly for peace, it made no sense even to the most hawkish of the Alliance political parties to lead humanity back to a state of war. Union formally apologized for the situation and offered amends. The situation was so volatile that Union accepted the Treaty of Gehenna, presented by Pell, virtually without amendment—to wit, that there would be no future manned landing on a biologically complex world except by joint participation of Alliance and Union on the mission, and there would be no landing on a world with a native intelligence until that intelligence could meet humans in space and speak for itself.
By the same treaty, Union offered access to certain restricted technology in a joint Alliance-Union mission to be settled in orbit about Gehenna . . . a watchdog mission designed to preclude any biohazard getting off the planet. Regulations for any persons in contact with Gehenna became the standard for any future exploratory missions.
Though the Treaty of Gehenna was accepted by both sides, the matter of Union assistance at the Hinder Stars was quietly tabled “pending future study,” and, as the third component of the treaty, certain trade concessions and tariff reductions were given to the Alliance Council of Captains, as a confidence-building measure.
Scholars tend to mark the Treaty of Pell as the beginning of the post-war cooling-off period, and the Treaty of Gehenna as its close, as if the era could be summed up within those parentheses. But between those two events, the death of a single human woman, Ariane Emory, and her rebirth in a Parental Replicate, could ultimately prove of greater import in human history. As the rumor reached Pell and Earth that the Architect of Union—and of Gehenna—had died, there had been reaction clear to the ends of human space.
The war years, in which stations and whole planets had become logical targets, had threatened the existence of humankind, from the motherworld to the most remote colony of Union space. That state of affairs had remained true for much of the first Ariane Emory’s tenure in various offices. She had been a genius in genetics and psychology, served as Director of Reseune for a number of years, was the principle theorist behind Union’s strong population push during the War . . . and she had served as Councillor of Science during a critical period of the post-War era, including the Gehenna operation. Her political views were pro-Expansionist. She had been instrumental in the push of human population and commerce to the farthest reaches of explored space. She had founded the genetic Arks, in which genetic records of every available Earth species were preserved. She had steered the development of the planet of Cyteen from a largely vacant wilderness to a continent-spanning network of towns and research centers, and the establishment of ecological studies on the second continent. She had begun her career in full accord with Union’s early intentions to terraform the world of Cyteen into a new Earth, but her opinion had evolved over time into a determination to preserve its native fauna.
The Centrist party of her day, which had crystallized around Emory’s change of opinion about terraforming, continued to press for terraforming Cyteen and basing Union around a strong central authority. Emory and the Expansionists contrarily argued against further alterations to Cyteen, and in favor of further colonization, with a strong emphasis on local autonomy of governments thus formed, a de facto decentralization of power.
And Emory prevailed.
Then, as a war-weary universe foresaw Emory’s life winding down to a natural close, and as powers jockeyed to position themselves for a quieter post-Emory era of consolidation, Emory advanced a process called psychogenesis, the cloning of a psychologically and intellectually identical offspring. It was a procedure that had conspicuously failed before.
When Emory was assassinated, many in Alliance and even in Union assumed that her final project had been aborted, incomplete, or that if ever attempted, it would fail—that, in effect, it had been the last, forlorn hope of a dying woman.
Within two years, a child named Ariane Emory was born at Cyteen.
MARCH 27, 2424
Hundreds of babies floated in their vats, in various stages, in Reseune’s largest birthlab—azi babies, CIT babies, much the same. Azi were in one section. CIT babies—for Citizen mothers who for physical reasons, job reasons, or personal preference, didn’t want to handle pregnancy the old-fashioned way—occupied another section of the same lab. The only difference between the two groups at this stage was a doorway, and whether a number or a CIT name tagged the vat. The data of real pregnancies bathed all the fetuses in a perpetual sea of appropriate chemistry and sound. The machinery of artificial wombs rocked them, moved them, kept them close and safe and warm.
There was, on one side of that doorway, Abban AB-688, an azi. It would take a close look to see him floating in his tank. At six weeks, Abban AB was about pea-sized, though growing fast. He’d be tall, someday. He’d be dark-haired, and very, very clever, and cold as ice.
In the tank beside him was Seely AS-9, who had been conceived in the same hour. He would be of a slighter build, pale blond, eyes fair blue, and, like Abban, he would be an alpha, and very, very smart. The 9 should have meant he was the ninth of his exact geneset and psychset combination: in fact he was the tenth.
The ordinary naming conventions did fall by the wayside at times, especially among highly socialized alphas, whose Supervisors named them whatever they liked, or among very old, foundational sets, whose numbers and alphabetics didn’t always conform to modern usage. Abban, for instance: his personal alphabetic was B. But he had been given a name starting with both his letters—someone’s whimsy, perhaps.
That was the first thing that was odd about Abban AB. Another was that, just like Seely AS, this Abban reused a sequence number: 688.
And that, all other conventions aside, should never happen.
On the other side of that doorway, Giraud Nye, conceived within minutes of the others, would be born a CIT, Citizen class, for no other reason than that he had a CIT number and came with no manual, no set course to take him through his first years. He would learn in chaos, being a born-man; and after he reached adulthood he would become responsible for himself. In his sixth week, just like Abban AB and Seely AS, he had just the start of a bloodstream. Last week he’d been nothing but a tube, the beginnings of a backbone and a spinal cord. This week he had a tail, had spots for eyes, had the beginnings of a heart, and the faintest discernible buds for arms and legs. He didn’t have a brain yet. He didn’t have eyelids because he didn’t really have eyes. Any of the three of them could have been almost any mammal: Giraud could have been a piglet, as easily, or a horse. He could have been Abban or Seely. He could just as well have been a little girl, for that matter. But the DNA in his cells and the tag on his vat both said he was Giraud Nye, a CIT, and he’d be a square-built man with sandy hair, large bones, and cold blue eyes. Going on rejuv at age forty or so, give or take how well he took care of himself, he’d live to be around a hundred and thirty-three Earth Standard years before the drug played out on him, and then he’d probably die of a heart attack.
That was the blueprint of the last Giraud Nye, and this one was destined for the old Giraud Nye’s power, someday, unless someone threw the switch and stopped him.
Ari Emory visited him today, out of curiosity, and with mixed emotions. She came with her two bodyguards, Florian and Catlin, and she created a stir in the labs. Even at eighteen, she had power, and she could throw that switch.
She could also create Giraud’s brother Denys, completing the set, on any given day. She still had seven years’ leeway in which to do that, that span of time having been the gap between the brothers. In her own untested opinion, any day would do. But doing it at all was, personally, a very hard decision.
For one thing, psychogenesis wasn’t going to be a sure thing in the Nyes’ case. ReseuneLabs didn’t have the data on the Nyes that they’d had on her, whose predecessor’s every living day had been documented down to the hormones, the chemistry, the actions and the reactions, for at least her formative years. The first Ariane Emory had been her own mother Olga Emory’s living lab, and all her predecessor’s data was out there in a vault under a grassy hill, just beyond the sprawling city-sized complex that was Reseune, with ReseuneLabs and its adjacent town.
This Ariane Emory was the second of her own geneset. And all her data was being saved under another such hill, so she was already pretty sure there’d someday be a third of her set. Like an azi, she supposed she could view continuance of her geneset as a vote of confidence by those who made such decisions. But whether they’d clone the original, or her, well—that was still to determine, wasn’t it?
Successful cloning was a given for ReseuneLabs, an easy job. Cloning human beings or rare animals, with gene-manipulation tossed in for variety, or, more to the point, for good health—that was what Reseune and other labs did every day of the month, for the whole star-spanning state that was Union.
You wanted a child of your own genotype, or just a roll of the dice, the old-fashioned way? If you passed the psych exams, male or female, you could have a child, two children, as many as you liked—or as many as your local law allowed. You wanted a genetic problem fixed? Reseune could do that. Embryos shipped constantly, shuttled up to station, dispersed as far as Union reached . . . even, though rarely, to Earth. It was a huge industry. Reseune had the largest of the CIT birthlabs . . . but it had competition.
Psychogenesis, however, replicating a mind—that was a whole new twist on an old process . . . and only Reseune had done that.
It was the year 2424, and this Ariane Emory was the first success of that kind.
She could create Denys, if she wanted to.
She’d killed Denys—at least her bodyguard had.
Giraud and Denys had created her, right after they had, perhaps, killed the first Ari Emory.
Turn about, fair play.
APRIL 21, 2424
“If you do exist, third Ariane, and if you’re hearing my record, with or without the first Ariane’s, be warned that I intend to shape the world that you will inhabit, but be warned too—I can never utterly guarantee the outcome of what I do, or the outcome of what I am. Fixing anything that’s wrong will be your job, the same way the first Ari created me to fix her mistakes.
“So I give you this advice: you have my geneset, and you may be shaped by many of my experiences, as I was shaped by the first Ariane’s. But remember you’re no more me than I am you. You’re no more me, than you—or I—can ever be the first Ariane Emory, no matter how carefully they pattern us. Why? Because we don’t live in her time. We can’t live her life exactly as she lived it, and we shouldn’t try, because then we wouldn’t fit into the world we live in. You don’t live in my time, and should never try to.
“This I do have in common with her: mine is not a peaceful time. Not all the decisions she made were the best ones, and she knew that long before she died. In many cases we both did as we could, too late for good sense.
“But I am certainly more the first Ariane than you can be, since the times in which I exist are directly linked to her time. The times I’ll shape, with whatever power I can get into my hands, will link me to your time. I don’t know how I’ll feel decades from now, but it’s my opinion that you’ll ultimately need to hear from both of us—because the first Ari invented herself, and I’m the bridge between.
“Do the math. The first Ari died twenty years ago. I’m eighteen. I’ve been living on my own since I was twelve, because they preferred me to any other alternatives they had, most of which were bad. And, never mind that your records may insist I was fourteen when I set out on my own, I was twelve. The program just wasn’t ready for me, so it said I was fourteen and I had to scramble to catch up.
“I owe my current situation to Dr. Yanni Schwartz, who saw Reseune through difficult years—and who followed the program laid out in the first Ari’s systems. If you know the records, the first Ariane came to adult rights early. So did I. Both events were driven by legislators who feared their alternatives far more than they feared a child . . . or her overseers.
“Mine is still not an unlimited power, in my eighteenth year. I wasn’t born with a Parental Replicate’s rights. I didn’t even have my CIT number. I had to prove genetic identity before I got possession of Ari’s old CIT number and became the owner of everything attached to it—everything the first Ari owned. And I got it primarily because Reseune wanted those rights to stay in Reseune. So Reseune backed my claims.
“But it didn’t prove in all senses that I was Ariane Emory. I’m still doing that, and people still question. Yanni Schwartz is Director of Reseune as well as Proxy Councillor of Science for Union, a situation which won’t last forever—possibly not much beyond two years, or maybe longer. You’ll know by your own lifetime how that transition of power played out—what I had to do, what I chose to do, and whether it was the best thing to have done. I’m pretty sure you’ll get the CIT number attached before you’re born: I’ll try to see to that, since I fought that battle and there’s no longer an issue. But no matter how much I can smooth the way for you, you’ll likely face your own crisis of maturity, because money and power in the hands of a child make for powerful politics. Just say that right now my uncles are both dead and I’m alive.
“This, too, you should know. The Council of Nine always preferred me over the alternatives—one of which was for the Council to actually make a decision and plot a course away from the world that the first Ariane created. They didn’t do that. Possibly that lack of initiative was planned into them: you know that Reseune had a hand in Novgorod’s population. I’ve not gotten anything from my predecessor that gives me a specific clue about that theory . . . but then I don’t have access to all of the records that exist, even if I’m told I have it. One can’t prove a negative, and if I haven’t got it, it’s hard to know if it exists—but I’m still searching. My best theory says the Council might have hated the first Ariane, but they were scared of life without her. And getting her back, in me—that felt much safer for them. At least the court voted to give me my identity, even if they couldn’t give me control of Reseune: Denys was responsible for pushing that; nobody knew it then, since Giraud was the face they saw, but don’t believe the histories: it was a combination of Giraud and Denys who really ran things, and Denys was brighter, but he was, let me say, a little odd.
“When Uncle Denys died, I overcame his Base in the house systems. I’d already opened up all of Base One—Ari’s computer system—and gotten it to give me its records. I investigated all sorts of things that Denys had put under seal.
“Denys wasn’t the one who’d walled me off from knowing things. Base One had done that. But when it was time, Base One was really his downfall. He couldn’t seal the things the first Ariane had done, when Base One was ready to tell me: the little surprises in the computer system, the sudden appearance of which to this hour I can’t predict, just happen, and they began happening years before Denys died. That’s how she got past Denys, posthumously, by installing the program that taught me step by step what she wanted me to know. She created areas of the house system no one knew existed, and she did it so that, after she was dead, Base One would wait, intact, never letting Base Two rename itself. Then when I reached the right age and the right circumstances, Base One assembled itself. In my case, I suspect the trigger was not my birthday, as I used to believe, but a combination of moves by my caretaker.
“I’m pretty sure Denys thought he could turn me into a useful but much safer version of my predecessor. But that didn’t happen. Understand: Base One isn’t a computer. It’s always a moving target within the software of the main house system—and there’s no knowing what it will be by the time you inherit it. Denys’ experts couldn’t find its parts, they couldn’t shut it down without consequences, and it self-heals and adapts. So far as I know, it will still go on triggering things in your time—and I don’t think that Uncle Denys’ experts could do anything on their own that ever matched it, but I’m never sure—so I am careful, and so must you be. Never take Base One entirely for granted. You have to ask it very good questions to get its best and truest answers. And never assume the other Bases won’t maneuver to get past it.
“Evidently Base One has opened some of my files to you, so I assume you have reached a birthday or a crisis of some kind, and that your own accession to power is very near. Are you, in fact, eighteen as you read this? I have no way to know. At this stage I can’t govern the age at which you get this, because I can’t create the complexity of program that the first Ari wrote into Base One. I’ll learn. For now, I just make the records.
“So maybe you’re twelve. Maybe you’re out on your own. Maybe not. I do assume that I’m dead by this time in your life, and that I have been since before your life began—by a few days, or maybe by some few months. It may have been my murder that brought about your birth. I shouldn’t actually be surprised at that. And if that is what did happen to me, consider your own safety. They may have decided to create you—thinking they can control you, and Reseune’s money—and when they find out to the contrary, they’ll change their minds fast. Uncle Denys certainly did.
“Look around you. Ask who profited by my death, whether or not it was natural causes. I’m still asking that question about Ari One. Someone killed her. Someone ordered the termination of the first Florian and the first Catlin, too, and curiously that makes me madder than someone killing my predecessor. If you don’t feel much the same on that matter, we’re different, and you should think really carefully about that. You have the intelligence to see why it should be dangerous, or we are very, very different indeed, and something critical to our nature has failed.
“Whoever killed Ari One, the plan to create me was already far advanced when she died, and my life went forward, in one sense, with the push of a button. You may know a lot about that by now, and likely you’ll hear more about me as the years pass. You may know how I grew up, and you may know how I reacted to what they did. I learned to play their games. I was cute at the right moments—Uncle Denys saw through that, because cuteness was completely wasted on him. He was a very inward person pretending to be a good, sweet uncle. He relied on me for his power, because he couldn’t hold it without someone to do the public things, and for a long time that was Giraud and at the last it was me. He didn’t know how to be nice, just how to act nice, and people believed he cared, but he didn’t. When I figured that out, things changed.
“When Uncle Giraud died, I think that was when Denys really began to be scared, because Giraud had always been his protection and his public face. I’m sure Denys was more and more afraid of me as I grew. He was so afraid of me—and, I think, of Yanni—that he never found a way to kill me in time . . . and I think that was his game. I think he wanted to have me get the first Ari’s CIT number; I think he wanted me to get everything I could, and convince everybody I was real, which put a lot of money and power into his hands. When I nearly broke my neck, he was really, really upset. But he always planned I’d die before I got smarter than he was. He never knew when the right moment was, because he could judge how to make people trust him, but he couldn’t do that so well once they got older and began to pretend to trust him. That was a very, very great weakness. And if the Denys I create grows up to be Denys the way he was, he might or might not be better at his games. So be careful.
“I do have ultimately to make a decision about Uncle Denys. Brilliant as he was in his field, he’s not essential to the universe. But I’m nearly certain Uncle Giraud may need him, once he’s born. Giraud is important to us, and it might be important that my Giraud have a brother he can take care of, speak for, and protect obsessively. Not to have Uncle Denys born might change Giraud, maybe not for the better . . . though I have as long as seven years before I make the ultimate decision on that. I won’t prejudice your thinking about Giraud, supposing my version of him is in your life—or maybe a third is, who knows? He could outlive me, and you might well have to deal with the Giraud I created. How I create him and whether I ultimately create Denys for him to focus on has bearing on what kind of Giraud you’ll have. So pay close attention to what I say on that subject. If you’re not in power yet, you need to start taking measures to protect yourself and stay alive. Giraud can be pleasant, but he’s capable of killing you.
“So I am leaning toward yes on the matter of Denys. Ultimately, I liked Giraud. I didn’t like him most of the time he was alive, really, not as much as I like him in retrospect. One thing I know: I have to keep myself somewhat distant from the Giraud yet to be born, and not let my feelings for the old one enter into his upbringing. He has to oppose me: that’s what his use is.
“The first Giraud always wanted to belong to something. Or he wanted something to belong to him. He had to serve something. He wasn’t inclined, like me, like you, like the first Ari, to covet a solitary eminence. He had an azi’s need to serve, in a certain sense—in his case, he served Denys—and I find that need fascinating . . . proving, I suppose, that one of the most universal and limiting traits we instill into the azi we create is actually a profoundly human one.
“Giraud served his brother long before I existed. And after Giraud died, Denys was, I think, a sad and very unbalanced man. Denys began to take actions, being afraid of me, and not having Giraud any longer to keep the world away from him. That was what Denys most feared, you should know. Not me. Not even dying. Denys was afraid of the world outside his world. And when Giraud died, Denys started having to do things for himself. He had very good azi: Abban, of course, who had belonged to Giraud first, and he had Seely, but they weren’t Giraud. Worse, Denys didn’t ever respect azi, not even alpha azi, and that lack of respect colored everything he ever did with them. They were loyal to him; they wanted to serve him; they did everything for him; but Denys couldn’t respect anybody but Giraud. Born-men, CITs: they were even more of a cipher to him, and he knew it. He had the program manuals for Abban and Seely; he could read them very well, so he knew them as well as he knew any azi, and I’m sure he thought he understood them, the way he thought he understood me.
“But to really understand either born-men or azi, or me, you have to understand feelings, and Uncle Denys was all turned inward. He understood what he wanted. He could predict what Uncle Giraud was going to do most of the time. He actually trusted Giraud, and after Uncle Giraud died, Denys didn’t trust anybody. He probably had confidence that Abban and Seely would do what their manuals said they had to do, but here’s the salient part: he didn’t, I think, have the least idea why they would do it. He was so far from being able to deal with azi on an individual level, it’s a wonder he got a non-provisional Supervisor’s certificate; I’m sure he finagled it, or Giraud got it for him. But don’t ever think he didn’t know azi, in the macro sense. He really did. His writings are brilliant, on economics stemming from azi populations turned CIT, macrosets in the largest sense, and profound integrations. I very, very much respect that work and I’m still reading it.
“And personally, one on one, he could smile and be sweet. He did favors for people, and he could tell in talking to them just what they wanted to hear—oh, he’d give them just exactly what would make them relax and believe him, and he could read that the way you’d read a book. But all that understanding of what people wanted to hear never got inside him, where he really lived. Inside he was all numbers, just numbers, and all the macroview, nothing micro at all. Much as I loathed Abban and Seely, I know he mishandled them terribly, and that may be their destiny again, because they’ll be his when he needs them.
“Maybe you see the situation clearer than I do, because emotions both make things clearer and obscure the truth. You can understand and manipulate people without experiencing empathy—sociopaths do that really well; but if you don’t know very clearly what your own objective is in the transaction, you can’t really understand what your own emotions are doing to you, and it’s easy to get confused. You can think you’re being really smart, when you’re really just getting by. I think that was Denys’ central trouble: he had a lot of the traits of a sociopath—totally self-interested, no empathy even for Giraud. . . . And it’s not a flaw in him I feel safe correcting yet, or we could lose everything he was, intellectually.
“I’m just beginning work on my section of the tape you’ll get. And maybe I won’t tell you everything I could say right now, because you have to figure certain things out for yourself.
“My current decision is to let Ari One talk to you first, with the very same tape she gave to me, starting with your first log-on to Base One—for one thing, because it exists, and I can’t predict how long I’ll live. If things turn out the way I plan, you’ll have heard her voice for years before you hear mine.
“So you’ll come to know me, starting with this tape, if I haven’t created any others to precede it.
“One thing is relatively sure: that you won’t remember me. But you may know Justin, and Grant, and Yanni, and maybe you’ll deal with my Amy and Sam and Maddy. And maybe even my Florian and my Catlin, whom I love above all the world, though I may have to order them to die. They’re too powerful, and I honestly don’t know what they’d do without me, or if they could love an Ari who isn’t theirs. Most of all, they couldn’t be children with you. But I don’t want to think about that. Of all the things I suspect Ari One did, that’s the one I can’t stand. And yet it may have been absolutely necessary. It may have been the hardest and the kindest thing she ever did. I can’t think what would have happened if I hadn’t had my Florian and my Catlin when I was growing up. It would have changed everything.
“You see why, with all the questions I haven’t answered for myself, I may let Ari Senior talk to you first. She never grew too old for questions. But she could give you answers from a much longer view. That isn’t my perspective yet.
“I hope I have her years, to gain that sense. I hope I leave things in better order for you than she did for me. But I can’t promise it.
“So hello, Ariane, in case we’ve never met before. I can’t call myself your mother, because we’re probably both eighteen, and maybe when I’m old I’ll make early tapes for you, the way Ari Senior did for me, and you can decide what to do and which to give your own successor, or whether your successor should exist at all. The world shouldn’t just repeat itself. The advice the first Ari gave me may not apply to the world forever.
“Most of all I’m sorry for all you’ve been through. I understand. Of all people who’ve ever existed, I know what you’ve been through to get here. Hello, from a sister. Maybe that’s the way to think of me. Hello, and don’t trust anybody but your Florian and your Catlin.
“If you don’t have them, then someone has betrayed you.”
APRIL 21, 2424
Ari flicked the camera off. Session ended.
How would she look to future eyes? Like mirror into mirror, for a girl who wasn’t born yet? Someone in an odd, outmoded style of dress telling another eighteen-year-old things she didn’t want to believe were true?
She couldn’t help the outmoded part. Her successor would see that tape at least on reaching her majority. That was the current plan—granted she, or someone, authorized her successor to exist. She would be the one to lay down the protocols under which her successor would get full access to that tape or any tape. She would decree the time at which the data and operational system that was Base One would open up to her successor.
On some future day of upheaval, or simply on an otherwise significant birthday, her successor would log on to her computer for the day, and Base One would start to tell her things that would shake her world.
Her own wakeup had come early. The program Ari Senior had written had made decisions and advanced the date of her majority and her assumption of power—catching Denys totally off guard. Was it wise of Ari to have done that?
Yes. She was alive. And Denys wasn’t. She hadn’t exactly killed Denys. But her defenses were indisputably lethal.
Fingers flew on the keys now that she hit the programming part, which she liked far better than talking into the camera. She’d keyboarded and coded since she could remember and did this part without thinking too much about the process, at least in replicating routines she’d lifted from the files that had taught her. The hands flew very fast as she linked modules, which was like taking chunks of thinking, like building blocks, and dragging them all together into a coherent program. Her moves dictated what would flow from that first session, and moved the defcons Ari Senior had created for her own tapes into position to protect and assess and seal that session from anyone’s future deletion—even her own later second thoughts. That was the way it worked—at least on the level she worked at, inside Base One. She needed to be better than she was, but she was good enough for this. She wouldn’t be able to get in and tamper, no matter if she had better thoughts later. If she interfered with what she was now, she couldn’t get her successor to be who she would be. . . .
How was that for klein-bottle thinking?
APRIL 22, 2424
Pre-lunch meeting, in a small conference room, not on the agenda: Dr. Sandur Patil, Yanni Schwartz was notified, had entered the Bureau of Science, was downstairs at the moment, and on her way up.
It wasn’t an extraordinary event: a professor registered in Science entered the offices of that bureau in Novgorod. But it was uncommon that such a visit would reach the attention of the Proxy Councillor for Science, and more unusual still that it would bring said Councillor to put on his coat and head down the hall to the back entry to an anonymous conference room.
In the capital, in an environment rife with media ferrets and political gossips, Yanni Schwartz found time, personally, to meet with Patil by a circuitous route. Technically she was one of his constituents, since Dr. Sandi Patil was a scientist, still registered to vote in Science, and he was Proxy Councillor of that Bureau . . . de facto Councillor. Lynch, erstwhile Secretary of Science, had been Proxy Councillor when Giraud died; Lynch had become Councillor for Science by succession, with the right to appoint a new Proxy Councillor: Yanni. So Yanni sat and voted in sessions, even though Lynch was in the city: it was a valid vote unless Lynch should rise up and repudiate it, which Lynch wasn’t going to do, being a timid sort; and the office stayed, de facto, in Reseune, where it had always been.
And being Director of Reseune as well as Proxy Councillor—Yanni wielded a certain power as head of the Expansionist Party, which meant what he did politically was usually policy-setting in that party.
That was why, if any of the reporters outside the building had seen him meeting with Sandi Patil, it would have drawn notice—Dr. Patil being a particular darling of the Centrist cause, adored by the radical fringe of that group, though the majority of those registered in Science were Expansionist. She had voted against Giraud Nye, that was a near certainty. Now she arrived and proceeded as if she had business somewhere in the mundane administrative offices downstairs, some matter of records or certifications . . . then took the lift straight up to the administrative third floor, where a good Centrist was decidedly in foreign territory.
Yanni entered the conference room: his azi companion, Frank, was with him, but Frank went on through to the foyer. He had no other security present, unusual, in itself, for a Director of Reseune. His visitor, upward bound, didn’t have a wire or a bug: the moment she walked into the lift, Frank had made sure she was clean. She likely would expect someone like Frank to sit in on the meeting, but she had seemed skittish of this dealing, Yanni was forewarned of that, so he stationed Frank in the anteroom and settled alone at the head of the conference table, waiting—about, he trusted, to find out what Patil thought of the offer she’d gotten three months ago.
I need time to think, she’d told the Reseune aides who’d initially contacted her. They’d warned her that any indiscretion would cancel the offer. And for three months she hadn’t talked to anyone—not that they’d been able to track. That was encouraging.
Are the papers I have still valid? she’d asked, via the same contacts, after Denys Nye’s assassination.
Yes, she’d been told. She’d asked for a meeting with other aides last week—which was too much potential for noise: Yanni had insisted she meet with him this week, face to face. The Council of Nine was in session. The vote on a critical bill was at hand. So she came to the Science offices, and hadn’t talked to any reporters.
That cooperation didn’t surprise him. Patil had lived very quietly, avoided the news so far as she could, had gone silent when controversy had tried to attach to her name—and she’d been one around whom political storms could very easily have formed. She had common sense. She was an expert in her field. Centrists backed her. He had everything arranged to make it a bipartisan deal, if the interview went well. It was just the reporters and the public they didn’t want informed.
The woman who entered the conference room—Frank showed her in and left again—was fortyish in appearance, but the record said she was past a century: on rejuv, clearly. She was blonde, wore a chignon of braids—which might be her own—with a stylish brown tweed suit and high black heels. Fashion plate. Compulsive in that regard. He’d heard that about her.
“Dr. Patil,” Yanni said pleasantly, rising to offer his hand. “Have a seat. Coffee?” Staff had provided a carafe, with two cups. Yanni poured one, for an opener.
“Thank you,” Patil said, and he poured another for himself.
“Quarterly break for you, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Patil said in a flat tone, and took the coffee he handed her.
Straight to business, then, with the warmth of a desert night. Yanni had a fortifying sip of his cup and sat down.
“I know you’ve read the offer,” Yanni said.
“I’ve read it,” Patil said. The beginning didn’t augur well. He had his own notorious temper, he knew Patil’s reputation as a bitch, and he wasn’t going to react. They were safe here, however, from the media and less stable elements of the population, and his contacts had indicated the woman was leaning toward acceptance. Discreet, difficult to read: and that was a plus, in terms of the offer they’d made her.
“And?” he said.
“Not going to change your mind on this project?” she asked.
“I assure you. Giraud Nye set this one in motion. It still moves.”
“The position would be Wing Director in Reseune, at Fargone.”
“Under an azi director.”
Well, there was a nasty little tone. Prejudice on that score occasionally did come from stationers, which she had been. It even occasionally turned up in the halls of Reseune, in certain places. It grated on him, in a major way. “Oliver Strassen is a CIT now, Dr. Patil. He’s been a CIT for some time. Social as they come and I’m sure you’ll enjoy his company.”
“Supposing I take this post, I’m to have this signal honor.”
He was, for one heartbeat, not sure they wanted her anywhere near azi, let alone in charge of a program where there would be thousands. She was the best at what she did: that was one reason they’d approached her, that, along with her Centrist connections.
But she wouldn’t be dealing with that aspect of the program. She’d be presiding over a station research installation, for cover, and she’d be well-insulated. “The deal has sat on the table for three months, Dr. Patil. We’ve answered all your questions, I trust. You’ve been free to consult certain advisors. We appreciate your discretion. Now do you have an answer for us?”
“Your influence, ser, got me hauled down onto this planet two and a half decades ago, cancelled a guaranteed program, shoved me into a teaching position, which is another honor I’d rather not have had. So now you want me to set up a lab, and I suppose you expect I should gratefully vote for you, if you stand in the next elections.”
Oh, she was absolutely everything his aides had said. Brilliant, a Special, a mind ranked as a national treasure. Specials weren’t necessarily nice people—a lot of them were downright eetee. The woman’s students either worshiped or hated her—according to their skills and personal tolerances. But they still enrolled. Nobody cared about a Special’s manners, where it came to her work.
“We haven’t said a thing about your voting your conscience, which I trust, being an ethical woman, you will do wherever you’re based. Hell, stand for Science yourself. You always could have done that.”
“Correction. Not easy in a military bubble, where politics has kept me for decades. Equally inconvenient to do that from a Reseune Security bubble at the end of space, where you want to send me. I detest the military. I detest Reseune. And you want me to work under a local Reseune director who’s absolutely guaranteed to be a by-the-book rule-follower.”
Ah. That was the concept. Maybe not an entirely irrational prejudice.
“If you knew Ollie Strassen you wouldn’t hold that opinion. And I’d have thought you’d gotten tired of graduate theses. You got caught in a situation, let me remind you, I didn’t personally choose. I still support the decision, for the record, but this post I’m offering you is vastly different; and it may, I hope, make some amends for your time in purgatory. Fargone is a very comfortable place.”
“And I’d be under stringent security.”
“You were under that security at Beta, which has far fewer amenities than Fargone.”
“And how long would I be there? Eventually I foresee a hardscrabble station orbiting a snowball.”
“A living laboratory. Your laboratory, should you ever choose to view that world in person. But I think the proposal makes it clear—you’ll never be required to leave Fargone Station. You’ll work in a civilized, state of the art laboratory, handling everything from there . . . a three-month lag in information, necessarily, six on a query to the object of your operations and back again, but you’ll be in civilized surroundings, under perfectly innocuous cover, so long as you yourself choose to be.” Give it a few years, and he’d bet that Eversnow would draw her out to the site. Hands-on work, a whole world for a lab, would draw Sandi Patil like an addiction: he knew her history. She’d eventually get exasperated with the six-month timelag on her results and go to Eversnow herself . . . if she’d take the post in the first place. And nothing he had thus far heard from her discouraged him from enlisting her. “Let me be perfectly open with you,” he said quietly. “Yes, you got an infamously bad deal during the War—”
“I got an infamously bad deal, damned right. Yanked out of my own research. Lured onto this dustball for a huge program I worked on for fifteen years—that got canceled six weeks before it implemented, largely thanks to Reseune. Pardon me if I have just a little apprehension about agreeing to another Reseune operation.”
“There’ll be no going back on this.”
Patil stared at him, dark eyes in a pale face surrounded by pale hair, and right now there was no beauty, nothing but harsh, hard assessment. “And how long will you stay in office, Proxy Councillor? And how long until this kid comes along and cancels everything I’m working on, just the way her predecessor did?”
“We advance it now,” he said carefully. “We get the project implemented. That way there’ll be no profit in not going ahead, and there’ll be, let me remind you, nothing like the die-off zones, nothing like woolwood. Or platytheres.”
“It’s a damn snowball!”
“It’s a Cyteen-class planet in a million-year deepfreeze. Remember you’ll sit at Fargone, safe and warm and in all the comforts. You can socialize with Reseune staff—or not—at your pleasure, so long as you maintain cover. And you’ll have a planet to work with, a thirty-billion-cred budget, for the next several years, and the warming—let me breach a little security here—is advanced beyond our first projections. We’re going to jumpstart it with a few limited impacts this year, followed up by five more solar satellites as well as the research station. How fast can you push it, if we gave you a wide-open budget? And, once it’s that far advanced, how soon until you no longer have to maintain cover?”
Lips went thin. But the eyes held thought. A lot of it. Fast. “Still a lot of practical unknowns with the snowball. Deep ocean. How much life is in the sea floor? How complex? You’ve got samples. The military is dialing up the heat with not a notion in hell what they’re doing, beyond polluting it with the Earth biome and making themselves a nice little salt puddle. Brilliant. Is Eversnow life going to fight back, and how hard? And what kind of a mess do we have if you change your mind on this one midway?”
“This will be a centuries-long program . . . with a massive budget, on a bipartisan agreement. It incidentally gets you out from under Defense, back into Science, and gives you absolute authority about what drops onto that world—which may be some little incentive.”
Guarded look, after a furtive spark. He had her. “Maybe.”
“So do you want your name on it? Yes or no? It’s yours, if you want it.”
“No communications restrictions. Free access to Fargone, free access to Cyteen Beta by shipmail, no damn censoring of my articles for publication, once the lid comes off. And a two thousand-standard-kilo personal-goods allowance.”
That mass was a heart-stopper, if it had been just any traveler. The usual was forty standard kilos. No censorship on publication or scientific cross-communication, even with Earth and Alliance: that was worrisome—but it was no longer wartime and the lid was off. They just weren’t used to it.
And the ridiculous personal-goods travel allowance was minuscule, compared to the equipment they’d be moving out there—a whole lab, containerized, to the farthest station down that strand of stars. “No communications restrictions,” he agreed, “no publication restrictions—once the cover goes off, not from Reseune admin, not from the legislature. For what we intend to have known publicly, for the short term cover story, you’ll run a new ReseuneSpace lab division at Fargone, having to do with medical nanistics, in a very secure facility. Reseune itself will pay transport out. And it will pay transport back, if you decide at any point that you want to resign the post. Your two thousand kilo freight allowance, all right, granted. I’ll throw in a resettling bonus, apartment paid, station share paid—unless you go out to Eversnow, and then you’ll have to take that station as it is. But you’ll be in on a founder’s station share, on what’s slated to be a major waystation down that strand of stars—tell me where you can get that nowadays. You’ll have 10k a month, with equal pension when you retire. That’s the same as any Wing Director in Reseune. Out there, in Fargone’s economy, that 10k and apartment and station share is pretty damn extravagant.”
“Money’s not the issue. Freedom is. I’m spied on. Followed. For twenty-five damned years I’m hounded by Cyteen police, Reseune Security, Defense MPs . . .”
“I’m aware of that. And you know why.”
“I don’t control what shows up at the public library!”
“What shows up at your lectures is a problem you didn’t choose and don’t cultivate. We know that. Here, you’re a magnet for people with agendas. You won’t have that problem at Fargone—for one thing, you won’t have to give any public lectures. I don’t, frankly, encourage any publicity, for the initial period without cover, when, shall we say, political interest in your project is likely to be intense—even on Fargone. But there’s no Paxer problem on Fargone, no Abolitionists to speak of, or if there are, they’re the polite sort who simply write condemnatory letters to the station bulletin board, nothing violent. We appreciate that you’ve been discreet throughout your career. We have no doubts of your character, your credentials—” Give or take a certain bias toward voting the opposition in Science. “We certainly have no doubts of your administrative abilities in a lab operation, and none about your scientific expertise. You’ll be able to pick your staff from Beta: you have absolute authority there. But I do need an answer, or I need to start looking out at Beta very quickly, because we are going to a vote tomorrow and I’m going to have to have some idea who we can put in. The bill will pass. I can present it for a vote with your name attached by cloakroom rumor, or not. We have a few Reseune personnel we could send out there, with less need of security, but you’re our first choice, one both sides of the aisle can agree on. And this is your one chance to ride it all the way from tomorrow’s vote to fund a ‘medical nanistics lab’—the project you’re signing onto.”
“What time frame for my going out there?”
“Your departure within three months.”
“I’m not sure I can make that deadline. I have a residence. I have classes . . . I have to pack.”
“You’ll receive considerations. If you can’t sell the residence in the time provided, someone will buy it. That’s no problem. Set aside what you want to take. If you’re close, but a little over, between you and me, we can forgive a few kilos. Someone will have to take your classes.”
A shift of position in the chair, a deep breath. “Tell me. Does the Emory girl have any idea what you’re doing?”
Lie? He shrugged. “While I’m Director of Reseune, I am Director of Reseune. We have an understanding.”
A line deepened between her brows. “You mean I’ll be racing the next administration of Reseune. I do appreciate the honesty. It’s been rare, from your district.”
“I think the level of support you’ll have from her lies partly in your hands. Did I mention to you that Oliver AO Strassen is a person she regards as a father—and his word carries an enormous weight with her?”
God, he loved delivering that small punch. It got a blink of those dark eyes, a sudden reassessment of biases, realities, and the worth of Oliver Strassen. It drew her deeper and deeper into visualizing herself integrating into the society she’d live in—first step in a good sales job.
“If your operation is running well,” he continued, “well documented, all the earmarks of the project it ought to be—I’m sure Ollie Strassen’s word will carry an enormous weight with her. It’s a big boost for Fargone’s economy—that’s a great plus. I think when sera Emory assesses what is out there now, and what you’ll have done by then, she’ll agree. This is your project, on a platter. All the work you did back at the turn of the century can go into practical application. That is, if you want the job.”
“A snowball. A damn snowball.”
“A snowball third from its sun, with liquid water, an Earth genome puddle, and warming fast. And I assure you Fargone Station is absolutely the equivalent of Cyteen Station, all the amenities, an active social scene, every luxury you could ask. You’ll be well able to afford it. You know how a Wing Director can live.”
She drew a deep breath. “Have you got the paperwork?”
“I have it,” Yanni said, and quietly opened the folder on the table.
* * *
The next meeting of the day was not on Science turf. It was over across the ring of Bureau towers, under a hazy seaside sky, in the Defense Tower, and Yanni went there with his full entourage, pursued by an unruly handful of reporters who’d followed him over from Science—into a reception made doubly noisy by reporters hanging about the portico of Defense.
The news services sensibly hoped an unannounced visit from the Proxy Councillor of Science to the Defense Tower might have some meat to it, with the Council of the Nine in session and now in a one-day recess for reading and consultation. It was a particularly good story, since elections were in progress in Defense, and Khalid, who had had a notably bad relationship with young Emory, was running against Spurlin, who was only slightly friendlier to Reseune. Current Councillor for Defense, Jacques, who’d been chair-warming for the old warhorse, Gorodin, who had just died in the post of Proxy Councillor—it was all very tangled—had not opted to defend his seat, but he had appointed Spurlin to be Proxy Councillor in the interim, so it was a wide-open and nasty contest. There had been talk Jacques might even resign and let Spurlin run as an incumbent. But it hadn’t happened.
“Are you pressuring Jacques to resign?” a reporter shouted at him. And another: “Do you have any comment, Proxy Councillor?”
He wasn’t throwing morsels of business to the media. Not on this. Not before the public deal was done. But he stopped, faced cameras, smiled in the sunny way he’d learned to put on when he was wearing his legislative persona. “There are a few items on the agenda that make sense to discuss with the outgoing councillor.”
“This is an unscheduled meeting, right?”
“. . . wide-ranging discussion on a number of issues where we can reach consensus, a few on budgetary matters.” If there was anything to make a reporter’s eyes glaze over, budget was it. Budget could lead to absolutely unmarketable footage, unless corruption was in it. And it wasn’t. Actually, and for once, corruption wasn’t the issue, and Jacques himself was never news.
Frank and black-uniformed ReseuneSec had meanwhile opened an avenue for him toward the door and during that second of glaze-over, he took it, while building security held the doors: press was allowed to besiege the outdoor carport. They couldn’t, however, block the lobby.
Upstairs via the lobby lift, in relative calm, up to the fourteenth floor. As Proxy Councillor for Defense, Spurlin had an office there. Khalid’s was somewhat higher up—clear up on Cyteen Station, as happened—and that was about as close as Yanni hoped to see him.
It wasn’t a loving relationship, even so, his personal acquaintance with Spurlin. His own predecessor, Giraud Nye, had had a relatively cozy relationship with Defense, when Gorodin was in office, much less so with Khalid—the first Ari had had at least a reasonably good one with Azov, and then Gorodin, during the war years when Defense had had to rely heavily on Reseune. But young Ari had started a war with Defense and ruffled some egos mightily—especially Khalid’s. Spurlin remained a bit of a cipher . . . but he was far more acceptable to Reseune.
Votes were coming in electronically, ship-mailed from time-lagged stations, to be opened simultaneously on Cyteen Station as polls closed on Cyteen itself. That would happen in July, given the longest round trip of messages, which was Fargone. But he owned one advantage in going into a negotiation with Defense, whoever ended up at the helm: Defense could look forward to a few years of fairly reasonable, low-key Yanni Schwartz before they had to deal with a sharp witted and adult Ari Two, whose agendas were as yet unknown—and the military didn’t like unknowns. It preferred the devil they knew. Khalid, if he won, certainly had rather deal with him; and Spurlin certainly didn’t want him making any cozy deals with Khalid. Jacques—nobody cared, nowadays, what Jacques thought.
He took Frank in with him on this one, Frank carrying a briefcase that never strayed far from his side. Communications, that was. Defense knew it, probably had a truther aimed at the room, would run electronic surveillance to see if any signal went out from that briefcase, and God knew what other probes it brought to bear, trying to penetrate the secrets in it.
Yanni didn’t sit down. Since there was no Spurlin as yet, he made himself at home. He drew Frank a cup of coffee, indicated a chair to the side, where Frank ensconced himself—they’d been together lifelong, he and Frank, close as brothers. He wasn’t comfortable outside Reseune when circumstances excluded Frank, was much more at ease in a room where Frank was, and he took himself and a second cup of coffee to a seat at the oversized conference table.
Spurlin came in, a walking stormfront of a man, with uniformed aides, who dispensed papers, water, glasses, and old-fashioned pens and notepads, God knew what they were supposed to do with those.
The aides settled primly around the edges. An ache hit the roots of Yanni’s teeth as Spurlin lowered his wide-shouldered, uniformed and be-medaled bulk into the head chair. A silencer had started running, to prevent any eavesdropping.
“Admiral,” Yanni said with a dip of his head.
“Ser,” Spurlin answered. It had a note of question.
“Patil just agreed to terms,” Yanni said plainly. “No alterations worth mentioning, except a two thousand-kilo mass limit and freedom to publish after the cover’s lifted.” He eased back in his chair, a little less ramrod straight. “Well. So we’re all go.”
“We’ll handle communication with our own people at Fargone. There’s a freighter going out on the twenty-fourth.”
“Skip the freighter. No Alliance transport.” Freighters were that, Alliance merchanters, plying the routes between Union stations. “We have a courier. It can leave after the vote tomorrow.”
Low mass, big engines, faster by a classified number of days—especially if the courier was ready to launch. And no Alliance snoopery, though if they black-boxed it, there was no likelihood Alliance would snoop at all. Yanni nodded. “If speed is an issue. We have the appropriate orders ready. We can make your schedule.”
“You were that convinced she’d do it,” Spurlin said.
“I thought she would, yes,” Yanni said. “A research scientist, with a life’s-work project backed up on hold for decades? I was very sure she’d do it.”
“Her Paxer constituency really isn’t going to like her taking a Reseune post. Domestic security had better take hold and look sharp when that news breaks.”
The Paxers, the peace party, had fallen on hard times after the War. They weren’t the threat they had been. They’d had a spate of bombings. A certain number of their intellectuals showed up at Patil’s public lectures. So, shadier and more violent, did a few of the Rocher Party, the Abolitionists. But it was a public forum, the Franklin Lecture Series, sponsored by a Centrist-leaning agricultural processing consortium, and as much as Patil’s speeches usually generated web chatter, she didn’t participate in the fringe-element chat. She more or less politely dealt with everyone who actually showed up; but she had a sharp manner when asked a stupid question, and only the intellectuals tended to ask her questions, not the subway-bombing lunatic fringe—they probably lived in terror of her. So did the tea-sipping social set who’d attend any function on the library circuit.
“ReseuneSec is going on alert when Patil’s acceptance of a post goes public,” Yanni said.
“My office will be on it,” Spurlin said. Spurlin’s specific office was system defense. He was a post-war admiral, never in combat. Khalid had that advantage, that he had fought against the Mazianni, the former Earth Company Fleet. “But this is supposing it goes through. Corain’s not entirely a surety yet. It could all fall apart.”
“I’m pretty confident he’ll go with us on this,” Yanni said. “Lao’s with us.” That was no news. Lao of Information was battling rejuv failure herself, another election they were going to suffer, but she was at the session, holding out on painkillers, Reseune’s old friend. “I’m scheduled to talk with Corain this evening. But don’t give any interviews until after the vote. It’ll look bad.”
Spurlin had no sense of humor. At all. “Your man at Fargone. The azi . . .”
“CIT,” Yanni corrected him.
“Ex-azi. Emory’s man. Is he up to handling the security aspects of this? And what will he be telling the girl?”
“I have less doubt of Ollie Strassen than I do of anyone else involved in this undertaking, ser. And he doesn’t communicate with young Emory, never has. We have very efficient management out there. Check your records.”
“So now you have a program.”
“We will have a program.” Yanni gave a small shrug. He wasn’t really comfortable with Spurlin. The privacy screen made his sinuses ache. And he was anxious to have the meeting done, in token of which he drank half the very expensive cup of coffee at one go. “Patil will be drawing her own complement from Beta Station, perfectly current with the research. So you’ll have plenty of sources who’ll talk to you very nicely, I’m sure.”
A brow lifted. Spurlin looked marginally happier with that thought: the military fairly well ran Beta, and that was insystem, definitely familiar territory, familiar channels. “So you get your new lab.”
“And you get a planet,” Yanni said wryly.
“Humanity gets a planet,” Spurlin said. That was the theory. Humanity couldn’t live on Pell without supplementals, and the fungi were lethal over time. Humanity couldn’t actually live on Cyteen—if the weathermakers and the precip towers ever failed, they were all dead in a day. Humanity did too damned well at surviving on Gehenna, and if all of them could turn up dead in a day, it would make everybody sleep easier at night. They hoped eventually to do better at Eversnow—a viable planet, one they could entirely terraform and render completely habitable, right down to the oxygen balance—and where people could come and go without turning themselves into such deeply acculturated specialists they couldn’t integrate with spacefaring society.
And not the only such planet, hereafter: once they’d proven the case and established the precedent for terraforming a marginal world, once they’d gotten past the emotional nonsense that bacteria counted as life on a world, young Emory would see the benefit.
That meant activation of the Arks, a use for the stored genetics. A new Eden.
A reserve Earth, in case the unthinkable ever happened.
“I have Patil’s name on the contract,” Yanni said. “But first out there and setting up at Fargone Station . . . will be ReseuneSec.”
That didn’t make Spurlin happy, but Yanni said it anyway: “ReseuneSec, for a Reseune installation. We’ll establish connections, set up the labs. Our setup won’t bother your military ‘hospital’ there in the least. But where it regards our tech and birthlabs, we don’t admit anybody but Reseune personnel. That never changes.”
“I wouldn’t expect it to,” Spurlin said, and, as if the admission were physically painful, added: “Good. We’re happy. We can back this.”
If we’re elected, was the unspoken context. And Science was backing him as far as it dared. “Thank you, ser,” Yanni said.
“I take it you’re going to call on Jacques, upstairs. Give him my regards. And Khalid.”
There it was. The direct challenge.
“I’ll of course send the proposal up to station,” Yanni said. “And of course present it to Councillor Jacques. But I’m very glad to have this particular discussion face to face.”
Meaning Jacques was all but an afterthought, and the face to face he’d chosen had been with Spurlin, not Khalid. That had to please Spurlin.
“Good luck in the vote,” Yanni said. He didn’t mention the name Emory. “Will of the people. Civilized understandings. We’ll hope to keep in touch, however things turn out.”
There was a little flicker from Spurlin’s eyes, a little consideration of that point, in the long-term realities of Union politics, that Councillors could be challenged every two years, and narrowly rejected candidates often came back repeatedly—if not this time, then next. Yanni’s bet, personally, was on Spurlin—who, whatever his lack of combat experience, was the better politician. And the polls were running that way.
“Pleasure,” Spurlin said.
“Mutual,” Yanni said, and rose and shook hands.
No trail of documents—no outside witnesses. There would be a vid record, to be sure—Defense was rife with bugs—but he now had to go upstairs and explain to Jacques, who would actually cast the vote, that there was an understanding, and thank you so much for your help getting this far. Jacques’ permanent retirement was a few months away, resignation from the military—given a sinecure of a corporate position. That had taken a little maneuvering, but Khalid would have beaten Jacques hands down, and no few people had moved to see Jacques step down fast and first, to make Spurlin look as attractive as possible.
Subordinates would work out the details from this point on, and settle such things as a launch time for the military courier, bearing orders for Ollie Strassen, but not, of course, anticipating the formal vote in Council.
Those orders, on a datastrip, he did leave with Spurlin, in a sealed envelope. The envelope, that old-fashioned precaution, wouldn’t in the least stop Spurlin’s people from getting into it, but it would occasion them just a little hesitation—a point of satisfaction, just to tweak their sensibilities—and they wouldn’t learn a damned thing once they did. What he’d told Ollie Strassen in that message, he’d told Ollie in plain words, because Ollie had his training, had gone CIT, and, canny old Reseune hand that Ollie was, from the inmost circles, he knew exactly what to make of the message:
You’re getting a new wing and a director who’ll be under you. Keep it that way: she’ll have notions of her own, but you’re in charge. She’ll have a hell of a budget: a detached module, cleanroom and security lock, all on Reseune’s ticket, all strictest security. We’re reviving the Eversnow project, total security: she’ll run it. She’s all yours.
He had his little pro forma meeting with Jacques, who was looking tired and overwhelmed these days, talking about his impending retirement and an apartment on Swigert Bay, and then Yanni ran the media gauntlet to the car, which delivered him and Frank back to the hotel in ample time for a little relaxation, a drink at the bar.
And that lull offered a little opportunity for a side excursion. The hotel had a shop and the shop window, on his way to the tower lift, had a certain trinket he wanted. He sent one of his staffers back down to buy it, gift-wrapped, and meanwhile Frank ordered supper catered to his suite . . . supper for two, with a choice of entrees, with a later supper for himself: this was pure business. Critical business.
He had time for a shower, a change of clothes, nothing too informal, however. He was combing his hair—no haircut really improved it—when hotel personnel arrived, dogged by ReseuneSec, who’d have superintended the meal from the start, and Frank let them in.
They wheeled a cart in, set up the small table with a politely low arrangement of flowers, and set a pair of wine bottles onto cooling cradles, with two more in reserve . . . not that they might crack a second one, but it was available, a choice of dry or not; and by the time they’d finished, Frank would deserve at least one survivor.
Mikhail Corain of Citizens arrived on time at his door, with no aides, no entourage, and, hopefully, no reporters in train, unless someone had followed him up to the twentieth floor. It was a meeting that would have drawn attention—if reporters had been able to get past VIP security, or accurately figure which of fourteen high-profile guests Corain might be visiting. Corain was, besides Councillor for Citizens, the head of the Centrist Party, and he’d been in career-long opposition to Reseune. Certainly if he could have consigned the first Emory to hell, Mikhail Corain would have been happy to see her off. Relations with Giraud Nye had been better, but they hadn’t been warm. Relations with the second Emory? Guarded. Very guarded. It wasn’t good politics to attack a kid.
Corain didn’t look at all comfortable in coming here. But Yanni put on his own best manners, pleasantly offered his hand, offered Corain a seat at the small dining table, while Frank politely and firmly stationed ReseuneSec personnel outside the door, not inside.
Salad was local; the pork loin and the chicken were both Reseune’s, and the wines were from Pell. The after-dinner coffee would be an Earth import. The meal encompassed a significant half of human space.
“So glad you were willing to come,” Yanni said. “Pell Sauvignon? Or Riesling?”
“The Sauvignon,” Corain said, and Frank quietly prepared that bottle. “Frank,” Corain said, by way of greeting, and question. “Good evening, Frank.”
“Good evening, ser.” Frank smiled at him, perfectly at ease in his unaccustomed role. “I’m doing the honors this evening. My discretion is impeccable. My service may not be, but I hope you’ll forgive my slips.”
Corain nodded. Given his constituency, which compassed some of the Abolitionist types, he might be uneasy about the unegalitarian situation that surrounded the dinner, but thoughts passed through his eyes, one of which was surely that he’d rather Frank do what he was doing, and not have a leak of what they said here.
Yanni reckoned so, at least, and lifted his glass. “Who’d have thought we’d sit at one well-stocked table? Here’s to . . . what shall we call it, ser?”
“Common sense,” Corain shot back, quick on his mental feet, and glasses touched. They drank. “Did Patil agree?”
“Agreed and signed this afternoon,” Yanni said, while Frank served the salad. “She’s on board. I’ve sent a message to Ollie Strassen, at Fargone; I just finished a meeting with Spurlin, and he’s on board.”
“Busy day you’ve had, ser.”
“So,” Corain said. “How is Reseune faring these days, without the Nyes? A lot more decision-making on your desk? Or do we perhaps represent someone else? I haven’t had that ever made clear, and I’d like to have, before the vote tomorrow.”
Not a stupid man, Corain: sensing, correctly, that his own position, though he’d been in on the planning—not something Defense knew—now came down to the one vote that could and would stop the Eversnow project. His having the critical vote held advantages very much worth exploiting . . . judiciously, getting full value for the transaction.
What Corain surmised was unfortunately quite true: Reseune under the Nyes, while powerful, hadn’t wielded the power it had under the first Ari; Reseune after the Nyes was perceived as yet another degree weakened. People believed, to a certain extent correctly, that the Schwartz administration was even more of a caretaker administration, but certain people saw that he was not averse to putting his own agenda forward, and hoped that it might represent a third force inside Reseune. It was a period in which concessions might be gotten, in which Reseune’s power might be trimmed a bit, in which difficult agreements might be forced—conditions the first Ari, or the Nyes, would never have agreed to, and Yanni Schwartz might, to get what he wanted. That was the notion Corain seemed to have about him.
But he had held these sessions with Patil, Spurlin, and now Corain, in a chosen order and for a very good reason. He was a psychmaster, as the popular term was, out of Reseune, and sensible people in Corain’s position, whatever their personal feelings, were open to a presentation of simple, career-affecting facts. He’d laid the foundation for this move. He’d gotten Corain interested before he went to Patil, he’d gotten Defense aboard, which Corain couldn’t do—and flatly told Jacques to resign and throw his support to Spurlin or see consequences to his reputation and his retirement income. Science was a key player, and Yanni played this one for all he was worth.
“This is your chance,” Yanni said pleasantly, “to get something. By the time my successor gets hold of the project, which will be some few years yet, things will be underway, you’ll see the terraforming underway, and there’ll be nothing much worth remediating at Eversnow. We’ve extracted microbes from the deep probes—not highly varied, at four widely separated sites. That’s the total local life. We have the samples. So it’s my estimation that young Emory won’t try. She’ll go with what’s easiest, and she won’t do a thing to stop it.”
“Seems she already does things. Huge expenditures. New building at Reseune. The new labs upriver. My informants say they’re both her projects.”
“Keeps her busy,” Yanni said.
“Pricey toys, ser.”
“Useful in the long run. Reseune had a proven security problem. It won’t, hereafter.”
“Security problem.” The breath of a laugh. Then total sobriety. “So you’ve just brought the first Ariane’s murderer back to Reseune. That just baffles hell out of me.”
Oh, the man wanted to know about that.
“Shouldn’t baffle you at all,” Yanni said. “He wasn’t guilty.”
“You admit it?”
“Jordan didn’t like Ari. But he wasn’t guilty of murder.”
There was a small pause in Corain’s demolition of the salad. The fork went down.
“And he agreed to detention,” Yanni said. “In his best interest.”
“And you admit that,” Corain said. Frank took the nearly empty salad plate. And Yanni’s. Corain never looked down. Just sat, with a troubled look on his face. “Why did he agree?” Corain asked finally.
“He had no choice. It was an assignment. For us? Expediency. The need to get Reseune going again. It was paralyzed. The Nyes were trying to get contracts honored, agreements handled . . . He’d broken no laws. But he’d violated Reseune policy.”
“Do you know who did kill Emory?”
“No,” Yanni said. “It’s not actually important, in modern context.”
“Context! I don’t see it as a question of context. Maybe somebody should bring it up before the Judiciary and ask about your context, ser!”
“Well, you and I can certainly do that, and settle a question of history, or we can proceed on a cooperative project that can benefit all of us.”
“I still find it troubling.”
“So far as I can do justice in the case, I’ve done it. Jordie Warrick is back at Reseune. Not my doing, since we’re being quite forthright here. Young Emory did it. The possible perpetrators are dead and out of reach, so, outside of correcting history, there’s no point.”
“Correcting history has some value.”
“Actually, I agree. More than that, Jordan’s a friend of mine and I personally assure you we’ll be engaged in that, once we’ve gathered some records that someone attempted to bury. I simply signal you that there’s more to the story and I don’t want to surprise you with any sudden revelations.”
“That would be a welcome change.”
“Among other things that may improve our working relationship—I want something to write down as an accomplishment for my own tenure, and righting that old wrong is one thing I intend to do. Improving relations with Citizens is another. Part of that is carrying out this Eversnow business. It was one of Ari’s last projects—and one she was willing to cede to terraforming. I agree with her, and I think you do, though I don’t think you’ll be making it a major point for your constituency’s consumption—we can’t make Cyteen a laboratory. That’s just out of the question, nowadays: too many complications, including the major city out that window—”
Night had brought up the lights of Novgorod, other towers above the hard-roofed arcology that was the subway, the undergrounds, the deep digs, coffer-dammed against Swigert Bay and safe as a pioneering city could be in an atmosphere that could kill you, if you got much above the twentieth floor, outside the bubble. The handful of skyscrapers were precip stations, pillars of the sky, guardians of human survival.
Corain’s look was involuntary, and snapped back with a deep frown. “We won’t ever settle that argument, I’m afraid.”
“We may not. Say what you like for your voters. We’re here, however, to talk about a safe laboratory that we can both agree on. Eversnow can prove whether or not terraforming can ever be done anywhere, and produce an ecology we can live in. And it will prove in the affirmative, I’m firmly convinced. I think there is a place for that science. The effort will teach us things, for the benefit of my constituents. For yours, Eversnow will be that new Earth everybody dreams of.”
“Off in the far dark,” Corain said. “At the end of the universe.”
“For now. You know the charts.”
“Expensive, godawful expensive, at a time when your successor is busy spending your budget in advance. This is going to cost tax dollars. The whole remediation budget. How is my constituency going to benefit in the near term? I really want to hear it in words.”
“Immediate jobs, at Fargone, where the big construction will start.”
“No azi there. None of this moving in your own personnel and calling it proprietary.”
“No azi in construction except inside the labs: building of the module, all open to bids. Then there’ll be station construction at Eversnow, give or take a decade. More jobs, right down to the first off-hours snack bar, shopkeeper and supplier that pioneers it out there. Then more and more of them. Ultimately a new trade route for Fargone. A military base outflanking any possible Alliance expansion. Spurlin is aboard. Science is; you are; Information is; Trade will be. There are no losers in this project. Not even the local microbes, who are going to get an infusion of heat, light, and a chance to grow and adapt right along with our imports. We’re not going to wipe them out. We’re going to use them, bootstrapping our way up. But that gets into technicalities.”
“Huh.” A grunt. The atmosphere had slowly eased. After a brief hiatus in the dinner, in which Frank hadn’t moved, Frank deftly offered the choice of main course, pouring more wine.
“So,” Corain said, and ate a few bites of chicken. “This is good.”
“Reseune farms,” Yanni said.
“No political objections,” Corain said, and the mood lightened considerably.
Until, over coffee, Corain said: “Patil’s in vogue with the Paxers—that’s going to create a stir when she takes a Reseune post.” Paxers wasn’t a word the head of the Centrist party liked to use in public. But Corain used it here. And then he added: “They’re already fairly stirred up, not knowing what to think of you in charge of Reseune. They were caught off-guard by Reseune’s recall of Jordan Warrick—they’d been for that. They’ll like the terraforming notion. They’ll see certain of your recent actions as unraveling the Nye era. But certain of the leaders are going to be sitting up at night wondering what you’re actually up to, and wondering what they ought to be up to, quite frankly. Are you unraveling the Nye era?”
“Yes,” Yanni said. “In some ways, I am.”
“Then why can’t you admit, publicly, that Warrick wasn’t guilty?”
“I don’t think he was. I think I’ve got a timeline that proves it. We’re digging. But as I said, everyone who could have done it is dead, now, simple process of years.”
“Process of the girl’s security, you mean.”
“Nobody came to Denys Nye’s defense,” Yanni said. “ReseuneSec didn’t, more to the point.”
“Meaning you didn’t stop her.”
“Denys Nye’s best effort couldn’t stop her.” He really didn’t want to discuss his thought process during those hours. And he charitably didn’t mention that he damned well knew Corain had been getting Jordan’s version of affairs straight from Jordan Warrick, via a Planys tech with unspoken Centrist affiliations. That wasn’t the only leak at Planys. Defense had its own network. But he didn’t bring that up.
“And you’re his friend?” Corain asked. “Don’t you want to see him exonerated?”
Jordan had opposed the first Ari, opposed her philosophically—bitterly—and politically. Jordan wasn’t happy with the second one.
“I don’t think,” Yanni said considerately, “that raising that question at this precise moment, with Eversnow at issue, can in any way benefit him or us. All it will do is stir up the Paxers at a time when we’d rather not have them stirred up—or gaining membership. Not to mention Rocher and the Abolitionists. Let me be completely honest with you: one strong theory I’m pursuing is that it was a directed killing by an azi. And that an azi can suddenly kill, in civilian circumstances, is not something we want bruited about. Nor, I hope, do you, ser. You know, on an intellectual level, that it is possible. Of course it’s possible. Frank, you’d kill to protect me, wouldn’t you?”
“Absolutely,” Frank said pleasantly.
Corain looked unsettled.
“Downriver,” Corain said, “we tend to rely on civil institutions to protect us.”
“Upriver,” Yanni said, “we occasionally find our isolation leaves us without other recourse. Not often. And Frank is a bodyguard. He doesn’t advertise the fact, but he is. The point is, it’s not going to happen without an expert intervention and some CIT’s involvement.”
“Whose?” Corain asked. “That’s the question. If an azi did it, who directed it?”
Yanni hesitated over the answer. Then said: “Jordan is certainly one who could have done it. That’s why it’s not so simple to say he’s guilty or innocent. Denys Nye could have done it. Possibly Giraud Nye. Or Ari herself.”
Corain’s brows lifted. “A variation on the suicide theory?”
“She had cancer, ser. Nothing serious, except her rejuv was going. Probably the cancer was a symptom—it might have eventually caused her death, but that wasn’t a sure thing. I’ll tell you something about the first Ari, which I think you know very well: she liked to control the timing of events. And her death was a major, major event—for which it turned out she had amply prepared.”
“So that’s why you say the perpetrator is likely beyond justice.”
“It’s one theory.”
“But why in all reason did Jordan Warrick agree to take the hit? Yes, it was a transfer—but he could have appealed.”
Oh, that was disingenuous. Mikhail Corain hadn’t spoken up for Jordan, back then, hadn’t spoken up loudly at all, and had politically hoped for Jordan’s silence, since the immediate precursor to Ari’s death had been Jordan’s meeting with Corain and with Defense. Jordan had been cutting a deal to trade Reseune secrets and go public with charges—if Jordan could get himself and his son out of Reseune and under Defense Bureau and Citizens Bureau protection.
“Who knows?” Yanni said, equally disingenuous.
“So is his return a controversial matter in Reseune?”
Interesting question. Clever way of putting it.
“Not very. He’s settling in; he doesn’t yet have a practice. His son, you may know, runs an important office in Reseune. Young Emory’s studying, mostly, not directly concerned with external affairs. You could say I want to deliver her a more peaceful universe. I want a universe in which she doesn’t have to start out opposing you . . . a cooperative universe, with less and less motive to destabilize what works—you know, that antiquated notion of progress by compromise? I think we’ve had enough of fringe groups and extremists. I know you don’t like them any better than I do. I’ve tried to initiate compromise in my tenure. Personal legacy, ser. Personal legacy. That’s my ambition.”
Corain nodded quietly over his coffee.
Whether Corain bought it all was a good question. Nobody trusted a psychmaster. Urban legend invented the word, and amplified it into crazy notions of mind control and telepathy, all sorts of nonsense. The answer was, like most things, complicated. Yanni’s reasons were complicated, and the manipulations were complicated: a little truth, aptly distributed, with very few outright lies.
Divert and divide. Redirect the perception of profit involved. Create a little wedge, Defense interests and Citizen interests—those were easy to split. Defense was naturally Expansionist. Citizens was naturally Centrist. The Paxers’ interests, however, weren’t remotely divisible down that great divide of War years politics. Their name meant peace—but their war being over, nowadays they just wanted the power a large movement offered. Paxer rhetoric and Paxer violence could influence events. Violent acts could recruit the young and disaffected, while the old, canny, and astute Paxer leadership, some of whom were openly interviewed on the news these days, drew satisfaction from the fear that surrounded them.
A clever old warhorse like Corain, head both of the Centrist party, and of the Citizens Bureau—the very constituency that happened to contain most of the Paxer movement—did know what grief his party would come to if the Paxers ever got their wish. This might be the time, Corain might well be persuaded, to move the Centrists closer and closer to the same interests as the Expansionists—at least for this generation. Together, Defense, Information, Science, and Trade, the Expansionists had a strong bloc in the Council of Nine: add Citizens to that, and they had an unbreakable majority—on issues that Citizens could remotely favor.
And when the Nine swung that definitive a weight, the Council of Worlds historically fell into line.
That wrapped it up neatly enough. Yanni sipped his coffee, reminisced a little with the first Ari’s old adversary, and listened as much as he spoke.
They didn’t get into the second bottle of the Sauvignon.
They weren’t that friendly.
APRIL 22, 2424
Ari wasn’t in a good mood. The smile was bright enough, a broad grin, a second or two in duration, and then it was gone. She went over paper printout with a forced concentration that just wasn’t up to its usual enthusiasm.
Justin Warrick didn’t ask why. It wasn’t profitable to ask, but her mood was bothersome. Ari wasn’t sulking, nothing to do with him, he sensed. She was just trying hard not to be elsewhere this afternoon, and didn’t volunteer the information that anything was wrong, but there was, somewhere in her universe.
Which, if it wasn’t his doing, he had to take as not his business. Her universe in one sense had widened when Denys had died; in another, in the weeks after, it had gotten a lot more focused, more down to the task at hand, and he was fairly sure she was dropping weight. He saw it in the hand that gripped the stylus, in the angle of the back—backbones showed under the silk jersey. She had a few people on her domestic staff, people who were supposed to be seeing to her welfare and making sure she got meals. She certainly had Florian and Catlin to look out for her and serve as confidants. But something wasn’t right, and he’d begun to suspect it was a troublingly unusual complaint in an eighteen-year-old genius-level CIT: far too much study, obsessive study. Too little real sleep. Taking the cataphoric drug too often, trying to let deepstudy hours sub for sleep, and giving herself no time for dream-function. That could lead to some real eetee behavior. Ari didn’t say so, but the signs of that were increasingly there, in the weight loss, the slight rawness of nerves.
“I don’t see it,” she said, after scanning page after page. “Justin, I don’t see it.”
“Maybe a little sleep would be a good thing.”
“I sleep just fine.”
“Sure you do,” he said. “Ari, do me a personal favor. Have a little more of it.”
Now he got the frown, full-force and directed at him. “There’s nothing wrong with my sleep pattern. I’m just not seeing this problem, is all.”
“Well, possibly I’m wrong.” Not likely. He knew the psychset represented in that printout very well, and he knew the particular case in question, and the right answer was obvious to a much lesser operator. On the other hand, he was dealing with a mind that was capable of taking a new approach to a classic problem, and capable of not pinning the solution where every other operator thought it was. It was an interesting point, whether the obviousness of the answer would make her miss the question . . . or whether she had rejected the classic answer and was after something else which no other examiner had ever caught.
They weren’t going to find it out in five minutes.
“I want you to take this home,” he said. It was near the end of their regular session. “Don’t look at it again until tomorrow morning. And, young sera—”
“Don’t call me that!”
“Ari. Get some sleep. No study tonight. That’s your assignment.”
A quick flash of dark, sullen eyes. “I’m fine.”
“Sure you are. Take the evening off. Take the night off. Think about it.”
“Too damned much thinking,” she said. “I can get this, dammit.”
She had a real bent for macrosets, the big picture, a very, very rare skill; he was an expert at microsets, and he taught her what he knew. It was what he did, these days, regular one-on-one sessions, five days a week. He gave her cases, she figured them, they discussed the answers and sometimes argued them. They were working on actual integration work, putting psychsets together in a community, letting them run in the original generation and two or three more, and seeing how the interface worked.
But the one he’d given her, and also slipped into the latest mix, was an azi named Young AY-4, who wasn’t theoretical. AY-4 had blown up and attacked his teammates . . . lethally . . . during the War. Justin hadn’t told her that. He just pointed out something had gone wrong in the integration, and she’d correctly picked up on AY-4 as the problem. The real-life AY-4 had gotten the self-defense part down, all right, but it had gone bad, very bad, and he had taken himself out along with his teammates, for reasons still debated. The Defense Bureau had trained their own so-called Supervisors for a certain period during the War, over Reseune’s protests. They’d messed with azi psychsets, thinking they’d turn out a better, more obedient soldier, who could work with any officer, not just a Reseune-trained Supervisor. That hadn’t worked outstandingly well—witness the AY-4 case. It was a famous case in his generation—an azi designation most anyone of his age would recognize.
One thing was certain: Ari hadn’t cheated and looked the case up in Library. She’d rather be stumped. She’d rather do it herself. That certainly had echoes of her predecessor. So did the temper. But do-it-herself was characteristic of young Ari, too: passion for knowledge was one of her better attributes, so long as she wasn’t sleep-deprived.
“I know you can get it,” he said. Then he added, because she looked so tired: “Do you want a hint?”
“No,” she snapped back, and then the frown mitigated into a worried expression. “I’m sorry, Justin.”
“Sleep’s good,” he chided her. “Try it. You’ll like it.”
The worried look stayed. “It’s not study, it’s Yanni.”
Yanni Schwartz. That shed a different light on her week-long mood. “Oh, well, a lot of people have said that.”
“Sometimes I just want to break his neck.” She gathered up her papers, shoved them into the folder she was taking upstairs and got up slowly. “And you’re not supposed to hear me say things like that, so I didn’t, but it’s so, anyway. Damn him!”
Yanni was off doing legislative business in Novgorod. And Justin didn’t want to ask what had happened. He just folded up his briefcase and wished he had a quick fix for what bothered his sole student. By what she said, it wasn’t kid business, though her reaction wasn’t helped by lack of sleep.
“You just take care of yourself. Don’t take any kat tonight. Relax.”
“I’m trying,” she said, and sighed and gave him a pat on the arm as if he were the child, at thirty-odd to her eighteen. “You’re right. I know you are. Probably the answer’s obvious as hell and I’m being terribly thickheaded. Is it a trick question?”
“I’m somewhat interested to see what you’ll come up with. I don’t want to spoil it.”
“You think I’m a fool.”
He laughed; that proposition was so unlikely. But it was the perpetual self-doubt of a young genius mind that never found peers to compare to. “You’re my science project. I’m determined to see the outcome. Keep going on it.”
A very heavy sigh. She took up her briefcase and hit the door button. Florian and Catlin were waiting for her, dark and light, doubtless having tracked the whole four-hour session with the endless patience of their profession. Grant was on his feet, too, across the hall, not in possession of the coms Florian and Catlin used, but taking his cue from them. Grant was supposed to have been busy in the Education Wing office, but he habitually came over to Wing One to gather Justin up around this time.
The sets parted company, he and Grant, Ari and her bodyguards, taking their separate ways at least for the evening. They lived next door to each other, met for lessons in this little downstairs office in Wing One, because it was just more comfortable, and because her security didn’t want her walking about outside Wing One lately, no matter that Wing One was largely depleted of shops, of restaurants, of diversions—even its lab now mostly gutted of equipment. They kept to their separate apartments and didn’t socialize, beyond that.
Teaching her was how he earned a living these days, doing his regular work in psych design two whole days a week, back to back, Thursdays and Fridays, and then five days of afternoon sessions with Ari. His teaching her had been Ari’s idea—her insistence, in fact; and that job had its moments of interest, flashes of brilliance, even excitement, when Ari chased some idea through the undergrowth of other opinions, and when, sometimes, she sparked his creativity, and opened windows for him into her own esoteric field. That was a reward he couldn’t have bought for any price. Some days, many days, Grant sat in on the sessions, and gave his own opinions, and they argued with Ari over coffee and sandwiches—those were the good days.
This hadn’t been one of them. Nor had the day before, nor the day before that, not since Yanni had left, now that he added it up. She turned in her lessons, and her notes, and her projects—his briefcase held her current one, which was a huge integration, nearly town-sized: he was supposed to run that for her on the lab computers—another plus: there was no shortage of computer time, not on young Ari’s budget. Slip your own projects in whenever you want, she’d told him, and that casual little gift could be worth more than the extravagant 10k a month he drew on salary as the director of a non-existent research wing.
But she hadn’t been herself for a week, and Yanni—Yanni, off in Novgorod, seemed to have done something she didn’t like.
He didn’t like to think about the outside world. Didn’t like to think that politics down in Novgorod could ever affect him again. But he was connected to Ari. And it could.
“You’re thinking,” Grant said. Grant, alpha azi, life companion, lover—Grant knew him. Grant could read him like no other. “You’re worried.”
“Tell you later,” he said. Out in the halls was no place to discuss Ari’s business, not even with a friendly power in the Director’s office and no more Nyes anywhere. He found himself tired, after the four-hour session—the psychological drag of an upset kid.
Or the fact it was near the end of the week. He hadn’t slept well himself, last night, mostly, he realized now, because he’d gotten increasingly worried about the sessions with the kid, and dreaded having to deal with that temper. “I want to drop by the office and pick up a file, get the computer running on this in downtime.” He could use his own Education Wing office for an access: no indication on the papers as to whether the combination of sets represented a real town, or just hypotheticals: the work itself was just a listing of Library links and job codes. The result, the only thing that mattered, would drop into the Wing One office computer tomorrow, representing what these personalities would be like in three generations, given that the first generation of the class ones would turn CIT and the second generation of the class twos would be born and reared CIT—by the class ones. It was complex, and it contained, in that fifteen pages of links to manuals, a few noted changes to those psychsets, and of course it included the choice of group ethic. That was Integrations. And Ari ran them in her head. He’d had to make her write them down, arguing that the computer didn’t read her mind and he wasn’t going to write it out for her, thank you, or check them the same way she wrote them—let’s be precise, he said; and she’d said, the little minx, run them in your own head: the computer isn’t always right.
“Is there time for me to chase down some loose ends of my own?” Grant asked.
“About half an hour. Then dinner out. All right? It’s been a long day.”
“Fine with me. Not enough time for my business. I’ll watch you work.”
They shared that office over in Education, their old office, as happened, convenient for the small staff they had—a staff that couldn’t get clearance for Wing One, or his work with Ari. He couldn’t hand Ari’s notes to his staff to deal with, for two reasons: one, that anything she produced was classified, and two, because his staff couldn’t operate on that level. But staff saw to it that the other things got done, when he was gone most afternoons—Em had gotten the rhythm of their schedule, and kept it going when neither he nor Grant was there; and a couple of beta clericals under Em, who could actually read the prefaces and classify psychsets quite accurately, had the place running like a machine. Things came out of Library, recommendations got printed, results folderized and cataloged, simple requisitions went out, supplies came back. They also handled the routine idiocy from Admin, the inane inquiries like, Please list your monthly case load by origin. State whether resolved or ongoing. It didn’t matter if they sat and threw darts for two days—their salary solely depended on his teaching Ari—but the Admin computers didn’t know that, because Yanni hadn’t ordered technical to fix their classification. Admin computers still added their output into the Education Wing statistics. That could have been an ongoing problem for Wendell Peterson, who was over that Wing. They didn’t contribute greatly to Wing performance ratings. But Grant kept them in the black, at least. And Jordan did—who never even entered the office.
Downstairs, down again, the two of them took the storm tunnels that crossed the quadrangle underground, a long, dingy concrete passage that offered a longer but warmer walk on a cold April day, when wind exceeded the safe limits of the barriers and brought in contaminants the bots and the pigs would have to track down. The tunnel was crowded today, a popular route, past Admin, between Admin and Education—they’d recently installed a bank of vending machines down by the intersection, by the water fountains; but those only produced a traffic jam at noon. Right now people were bent on supper, and restaurants.
The route was particularly convenient for them: the storm tunnel exit in the Education Wing delivered them right near their own office door, in the 100’s of A corridor, in that sprawling building.
Their office was dark. Em and the staff had properly locked up and gone home on schedule, to residences down in the town—the shuttle buses, a whole new fleet of them, ran a heavy service right at 1610h, the whole fleet lining up at the curb ten minutes after shift change. Em and the staff likely had mentally dumped the day’s business and joined the outpouring, blithe and free for their own pursuits of the evening.
Their employers, however, didn’t enjoy the luxury of such precise hours—especially not on teaching days.
Justin reached for his keycard, but Grant beat him to it and opened the door—walked in through the foyer that was Em’s office, into their own slightly less tidy inner sanctum. Grant disposed his long frame in his own office chair, legs extended at grand leisure, while Justin opened his briefcase and extracted the desired folder. He fed sheets into the reader, which spat them out again. He returned each to the folder in the briefcase, not to mingle them with the piles of paper on the desk.
Fifteen sheets, file done, and the program asked him what program should apply.
He used his keycard again and told it, aloud, “Code Y10, Class alpha through mu. Read to D3, run Integrations. Output results to Base One, code Y10.”
For about a second, thanks to his keycard and that spoken code, it hadn’t been his own computer talking: that had been Base One itself, in a significantly different tone. It always sounded so human.
Then it was gone. His own computer, with far lower clearances, said, “Done.”
“Thanks, computer, endit.”
“Well,” someone said. It was his own voice. Or nearly so. He turned, his heart giving a little thump, and saw his father standing in the inner doorway.
“Hey, we’re closed for the day.” Half a joke. His father wasn’t supposed to be here. It took a security clearance to get through that door, in an office that dealt with actively working psychsets and one special student’s study projects. Jordan Warrick’s security clearance was entirely nuked. Gone. Non-existent. And Em would have stalled, held him in the outer office. Nobody being there but them, they’d just left the inner door open and the outer door unlocked.
“I figured you were.” It wasn’t only Jordan who’d come in, it was, of course, his companion Paul as well, whose accesses had also been nuked. Jordan walked all the way through into their inner office and looked around. “My old digs.”
It had been. Before the first Ari died.
“You changed the paint,” Jordan observed.
Justin was still off-balance. He looked around him, foolishly, remembered it had once been a slightly different shade. Twenty years ago. “I suppose it is different. Still green. I didn’t even question it.”
“Probably security took the walls apart.” Jordan gave a look around him, and Justin snapped the briefcase shut, sealing up the last item exposed. “Probably a whole new set of bugs.”
“Possibly,” Justin said. He worked with his father in off hours since Jordan’s return, in the living room of Jordan’s apartment. He brought a different briefcase with him when he did.
Jordan asked him: “What are you working on?”
“Today’s a teaching day.” He used his handprint to open the safe, and put the briefcase into it.
“She’s the only student I’ve got.” He shut the door and sealed it, feeling much more comfortable after that door was shut. Grant, meanwhile, had gotten to his feet as Paul came all the way into the office. “I hate to say it, but you know you two are pushing it with security right now.”
“What’s life worth without a little excitement?” Jordan sat down on Grant’s desk edge. “You look tired.”
“I am, I think.”
“Want to go out for a coffee?”
“I’ve had way too much coffee today. Bar?”
“Sure,” Jordan said. “Got an idea?”
“Abrizio’s.” It was downstairs in Ed A, it had been there forever, never mind the new decor, and he thought Jordan would be comfortable in his old habitat.
“Great,” Jordan said, entirely cheerful, and cast a wistful look around. “A lot’s changed. I’ve been to that bar. I liked the old color. Red. You remember.”
“Everything changes.” His memory had holes in it, back then. Significant ones. He didn’t mention that. He’d shed the briefcase. He picked up one that didn’t matter.
“Have you got to take that thing?”
“I suppose I don’t.” He set it back on the floor, and nodded toward the door, anxious to clear the room and lock up before they drew down a set-to with Security.
He didn’t quite make it. Three agents were standing outside, ReseuneSec, black-uniformed and somber. Just standing. Watching.
Offer a guilty excuse? Security knew where he’d come from, who’d walked into his office, and by way of the bugs Jordan predicted existed, they’d know exactly where they were going next. He could ignore them. But it wasn’t in his constitution to do that.
“Off work,” he told them cheerfully, “off to the bar.”
“Ser,” one said, stony-faced and solemn.
It didn’t make him feel any better and it wouldn’t stop them from reporting. The report to their headquarters had likely been simultaneous with Jordan’s arrival in the office. But it didn’t make him feel worse.
“I dropped by, actually, to invite you to dinner,” Jordan said as they walked. “Tomorrow night. Paul’s cooking.”
“Sounds good,” Justin said, not mentioning the known fact that he couldn’t reciprocate—living where he did. Jordan didn’t mention it either.
“That design question you posed Friday,” Jordan said, “I think I’ve got an answer for you.”
“I’ll be interested.” They’d collaborated long-distance while Jordan was over on Planys, a cooperation permitted and not permitted by turns, largely by the whims of the Nyes. Now the papers flew back and forth much faster, and they traded notes on the house system, sometimes hourly, when he was in his Education Wing office.
“I sent you a memo this morning,” Jordan said.
“Sorry. I didn’t pick up my mail.”
“That’s all right. You’ll get it tomorrow. This is a therapeutic break.”
Another turn in the hall. They took the escalator down among a handful of clericals and educators. A scatter of noisy kids, likely residents from upstairs, played tag in the planted garden below the escalator, down among the stone benches. Beyond, on the right side of the mall, a small cluster of neon lights advertised a bakery, a florist, a shoe shop, a casual clothing store, and, farthest in the limited view, Abrizio’s Bar and Grill. The little mall was at storm tunnel level: it formed the commercial underpinnings of the Education Wing, a cozy little place, hardly wider than it had to be, frequented at noon mostly by academics, clericals and the occasional tradesman from the adjacent shops, but in the evening, mostly by residents from upstairs—Abrizio’s offered a better menu then.
Inside the little bar was dark, neon, and had a reasonable level of music and conversation—one table was left, midway down, and they claimed it, pulled back the worn, still-comfortable chairs that had given up all pretense of authentic wood, and sat down.
Dog-eared menus stood on the table in a cluster of seasoning and condiment bottles. Justin and Grant didn’t bother: their regular was a standard choice. Jordan took a perfunctory look. And it wasn’t the sort of place where you input your choice with button pushes. An actual waitress—her name was Sonia—came over, asked for orders, and served ice water for starters.
They’d come in just for drinks. Justin and Grant ordered a large plate of chili over chips with real cheese, which was usually supper enough on its own, Jordan agreed, and they talked about integrations and deepsets between chips. It was a slightly high-end conversation for Abrizio’s evening crowd, where the more likely conversation was administrative and domestic woes, or the current soccer scores. It was quiet enough for a reasoned argument, at least, and a disposable napkin went the circuit of the table, increasingly blue with the hieroglyphs of psych structure notation—not the sort of item they’d leave behind them, but not the sort of conversation that posed a security problem, either: the items he regularly brought Jordan weren’t under security lock. Pleasant evening. Uncommonly pleasant.
“That’s interesting,” Paul said, regarding Justin’s latest insert into the set they described. “Nice.”
Jordan snatched the napkin back from Paul. “Ease off. Thought you’d know better. Don’t you dare take that in.”
It was a little feel-good Justin had added, the sort of routine that had once had him going round after round with Yanni. He tinkered with this design—had flown it past Jordan several times without comment. He’d slid it past him again in a moment of mellow curiosity, part of a larger structure he was working on, his own little foray into macrosets. And perhaps it was a due warning: they’d all had, somewhere between the first glass and the chili and salty chips, perhaps just enough vodka to take the edge off their cautions.
“No intention of taking it in,” Paul said defensively.
Jordan shook his head. “Worm-ish little bastard. Don’t trust it. Whose is this crap?”
Justin didn’t, personally, agree that it posed that order of problem, or that it was crap. He checked himself short of saying so. The fact was, Jordan was right to check Paul if he had a doubt: being alphas and skilled in psych operations, both Paul and Grant were used to taking a small item in on a look-see, sending some little routine all the way to their own deepsets and hauling it out again without ever letting it plant any roots—and producing some good commentary. The only danger lay in something that hit their deepsets and felt good at the time, that tempted even an alpha to hold it, secretly. And it was, in fact, deepsets, that little piece, but he didn’t think what he’d handed Jordan was in any sense harmful.
“That’s not one of yours,” Jordan said.
“Actually, yes.” He’d written it. And—perhaps it was a little stinginess, or just that he wasn’t quite through refining it yet—he hadn’t laid that little routine on the table for Ari to sop up and run with, the way she sopped up and used whatever else he gave her. A conversation with her had sparked the idea a few weeks back, off his own notions of reward and gamma tapes, and Grant had thought it was good, but chancy, rule-wise. So he’d put it out for Jordan’s comment. Paul hadn’t at all flinched.
But Jordan had a contrary opinion. That could be useful.
“This,” Jordan said, “is aimed at group dynamics.”
“It is,” he said, impressed that his father had laid his finger right on it, and added, “macroset, yes. But that’s not the important thing.”
“You’re meddling with deep sets and it’s ‘not the important part.’ I hate to tell you who that sounds like.”
The waitress showed up with a bottle and refilled all the glasses while their attention was on the piece of paper. Which was probably, for people parsing psychsets, one glass too many. Jordan took his forthwith and knocked back a large gulp of it before he returned his close attention to the scrap of napkin.
Justin had a sip of his own, read in that gesture of Jordan’s a degree of anger that filled in only one name.
So, well, maybe the kid had been doing a little research in elder Ari’s notes—she had them. She’d said she did. And, though it would be a disappointment to him if she’d pulled those items straight from elder Ari and not from her own intellect, he shouldn’t be surprised. She had a clerical staff, had an office. She could get any access, God knew. She’d been putting out masses of design work in recent weeks. Certain people in Admin—Yanni in particular—had warned him about Ari One’s notes, to be just a little alert for Ari cribbing off her predecessor.
But she’d been arguing with him—and, dammit, she’d argued her points with understanding. There was no mistaking that. They’d had fun with it. And, no, dammit, he didn’t think she was cribbing: she was too fast on the response, give or take today’s performance. He worked back and forth with the kid. She produced things that were downright elegant—and scarily wide—while he watched her work. He’d listened to that simplicity and simultaneous broad sweep, admired it, and this one was his flight of inspiration, dammit.
But it evidently sounded to Jordan like his Ari.
So maybe he had more of the original Ari’s notes in that briefcase in the safe than he knew he had . . . God knew what classified programs that could dip into. Gehenna was only what this generation knew about. Or—worse thought—one that sent a cold rush through his veins—could he be remembering the original Ari’s lessons with him, from way back? Could repressed thoughts have woken up, lately, having, finally, found something in her successor to tie onto?
That was an eetee thought, one he really didn’t like. He didn’t remember the study sessions with the first Ari. Not all of them.
“So you did this?” Jordan asked him bluntly.
“Wide as hell. Feed this to a population with a disposition to take it deep and it’ll set hooks. You won’t ever get it out.”
“It doesn’t seem to do any harm. That’s what I’m asking you about.”
“The breadth is the harm. That little routine won’t stop. It’ll mutate in ways you don’t know and the computers can’t track.”
“Are you sure it will, in the gamma sets?”
“I’m saying it will.”
“Where will it intersect? I’ll admit I don’t know. That’s why I brought it to you.”
Another slug from the glass. “You don’t know, I don’t know, she doesn’t know. You don’t let something loose that mutates as it integrates. That’s exactly the kind of thing Ari loosed—where she loosed it. You know that? The damn woman wouldn’t listen—she’d just go eetee and say it didn’t matter what you thought. She understood it, sorry you don’t, it’s going operational next week. Damn her.”
A small silence. Grant quietly retrieved the napkin and pocketed it, conversation over, at least on that topic, that might have grazed oh so close to things security wouldn’t want discussed in a neighborhood bar.
“Well, you’re likely right about the routine,” Justin said, and got a smoldering flash of eye contact from Jordan, a stare that locked, hard. “Probably it’s too wide.”
“You’re in it up to your neck,” Jordan said. “You’re teaching the brat. Be careful she doesn’t teach you. Do you know what I mean?”
“That this is an example of it?” Justin said. “I don’t think so. It’s just a mind-stretch. A thought problem.”
“And she’s coming up with stuff like this on her own?”
“It’s mine, for God’s sake. Believe me. But this isn’t the place. Let’s not discuss it.”
“Let’s go to our place,” Jordan said, “because I’ve got some things to say.”
He didn’t want to. That had been three glasses already, counting before and during dinner, and now after, and they were generous glasses. He hadn’t taken more than a sip of his third. Jordan tossed off the rest of his and shoved back from the table, then intercepted the waitress and handed her his card.
Justin threw a look at Grant. Grant’s face didn’t react, but his eyes moved in a quick warning reaction.
“Probably,” Justin said when Jordan had paid out, “we really had better get on home. I’ve got—”
“I have some things to say,” Jordan said brusquely, “and I’ve had alcohol enough to say them.”
“Maybe too much.”
“Come on,” Jordan said, and he could have a fight now, try to corner Paul and get Paul to quiet the situation, if only by handing Jordan enough alcohol to shut him up, maybe even hitting the bar down the row, where the music was too loud for coherent conversation. It had been pleasant until then. It wasn’t, now. And Jordan’s tolerance with security was already paper-thin, as it was.
He opted for going to Jordan’s apartment, exchanging a few words in a venue where they could name names, and then going home, before the naming got too specific. Jordan in this mood would only brood about a cutoff from the bar, and get madder, and there was nothing productive in that, not at all. Jordan was frustrated: he wasn’t employed any longer, not since his return from Planys. He had nothing to do but sit and read and work on the low-level problems Justin handed him, output which Justin read, remarked on, and passed on to Clinical under his or Grant’s name—it gave him a better output on his record, and kept Peterson happier than he would have been, but it wasn’t doing anything for Jordan’s mood or his bank account. Jordan drew a stipend from Yanni’s office, the size of which he wouldn’t name, but it wasn’t large. He had the rent and utilities paid. That was all.
And Justin didn’t want another round on that score. Jordan’s situation was on hold until the Reseune board met, that was that. Jordan wouldn’t get his clinician’s certification and his security clearance back until Yanni and Jordan were talking again.
There’d been some sort of blowup right before Yanni headed for Novgorod, and what Jordan had said in that office or what Yanni had said wasn’t in his need-to-know, apparently, because neither of them had been willing to talk about it, but it certainly hadn’t advanced the cause of Jordan getting his security clearance back.
And it wouldn’t be helped by a public scene tonight.
They took the escalator up one, walked over to Education B, where Jordan’s apartment was—not a word spoken until they’d gotten inside and into the living room.
Jordan immediately went to the bar, filled four glasses with ice, and poured healthy shots of vodka. Justin frowned and didn’t say a thing. He took his when it was offered, and went and obligingly sat down in the conversation pit, with Grant on the other end of the couch; Jordan and Paul took the other side.
“So,” Justin said. His plan for a quick exchange and exit was evaporating, but, well, predictably Jordan’s anger would probably give way to a complaint about the certification issue, and the clearance issue, which then would go into known territory—not pleasant, but he owed it to his father to sit through another rehearsal of grievances. “What can’t we say in the bar?”
“That you’re making some bad choices.”
“Professionally, or personally?”
“They’re my choices. Bad or not.”
“You bring me these piddling clinicals . . . which you get paid for. In effect, I’m working for you.”
“If that’s a bother to you, I won’t bring them.”
“They’re all that’s keeping me sane.” A drink of the vodka. “A damned thin thread, these days. Damn Yanni.”
“I hoped you’d give me a reasonable critique on the other set I sent you,” Justin said. “I’m waiting for it, in fact.” Jordan had had too much vodka to make sense on that topic, Justin was well sure—Jordan had likely forgotten all about it, in the heat of the argument at dinner, but he had questions of his own that Jordan hadn’t satisfied. The reward structure in that theta set emanated directly from work he and Jordan shared for years, it was related to the problem he’d handed Jordan in the bar this evening, and he hadn’t expected that kind of reaction. Yanni used to heap scorn on his reward concept in the low-level sets, claiming it would produce problems down the generations in an azi-derived population. Yanni had called him a damned fool—until Jordan started working with him, and then Yanni had started listening.
“Piece of crap,” Jordan said.
Well, that wasn’t what he’d hoped to hear.
“In what regard?”
“In what regard . . . don’t give me that calm-down routine. Your damn design is out in the ether. Piece of crap, just like that crap you handed me at dinner. Same fucking reason.”
“Sorry, then. I won’t press you for specifics tonight.”
“I’ll give them to you with a broad brush, same issue. Same reason. Same damn problem I fought out with Ari. She didn’t listen. She implemented. Now I see it in my son. Grant, do you agree with this crap?”
“Ser,” Grant said, “insofar as I follow the thread of this argument, I am in agreement with the design, yes.”
“But then, you’re Ari’s design, aren’t you?”
“Jordan,” Justin said sharply, “don’t pull that. You don’t believe it, you don’t mean it, so just don’t touch it. That’s your fourth glass.”
“You don’t see a problem. You think you’re fucking brilliant, skipping over any substructure, just go straight for the deepsets: it’s the shortcut, everything for the shortcut. And the poor azi you program, pity them—they’re not alphas, they’re not going to figure that’s a leap of flux-thinking logic, no, you’re going to have theta minds making a leap from a to zed with no supportive structure, no crosslinks, no work-up in their skill-set level to encourage any critical thought about their actual performance . . .”
“Thetas aren’t good at that.”
“Don’t read me basic lessons! You know damned well you’re taking a shortcut.”
“I am. Yes. Admittedly. That’s the whole purpose.”
“And you’re going to have a pack of thetas gone eetee with no recourse but Reseune operators to pull them back to sanity . . . if they can. A batch of smug, happy, wrongheaded workers.”
“That’s why I come to you.” A little bald flattery never hurt. But it was also the truth. “I see you don’t think it’s a good idea. I respect that. I just expect more specific reasons for your opinion than I’m getting here.”
“I don’t know why I’d bother. You’re getting all your theories from the little darling.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t think so.”
“I damned well know so. You think that’s new, that leap of procedures you threw into that last paper? That’s Ariane Emory. That’s Emory, cut and dried. She’d just wave her hand and say, with the appropriate gesture, ‘It will work. It will work.’ Hell! That kind of thinking created Gehenna. There’s her kind of thinking run amok. She was doing it that far back!”
“But the azi there lived. They weren’t expected to. But she expected it of them. She just didn’t tell Defense. And what she did worked. The fact there’s been other input into the system—that wasn’t in program . . .”
“Well, that’s the universe for you! Don’t you get it? You can’t anticipate your little program to run forever in a bubble. Something’s going to impact it. Something damned sure did, on Gehenna.”
“There’s got to be a dividing line, between trusting the subject will adapt, and going only by micromanaging little situations, constantly referring back to a Supervisor. We’re so damned conservative with the deepsets . . .”
“With reason! Have you ever seen a real eetee case? Has your real-life practice ever gotten the results of one of your damned thought experiments?”
“No. I’m teaching. It’s all theory.”
“At this point.”
“We argue. In point of fact, I know the present Ari would love to hear your objections. She’d be very interested. We could have some good conversations . . . if you were so inclined.”
“While she’s hot after my son? The hell.” The rest of the vodka went down. “Get me another, Paul.”
“Jordan,” Justin said, as Paul looked dismayed.
“I said get me another. There are things I need to say. I didn’t know my geneset could produce a fool.”
Paul got up and shot more vodka into the glass. Twice that, Justin thought, if that’s what it takes . . . bundle him off to bed and let’s end this evening somewhere short of disaster.
“I hate to point out,” Justin said as Jordan took the glass, “that’s five.”
“Have you been alone with her?”
“Are you asking if I’ve had sex with her?” Justin asked.
“I’m asking if you’ve been alone with her. Grant, has he ever been alone with her?”
“Ser, I’d rather not enter this conversation.”
Grant, damn the situation, wasn’t able to lie, not to a man who’d been his Supervisor as well as his CIT father. In some situations he was thorough azi, and too vulnerable for this fight.
“I’m taking Grant home,” Justin said, and set the glass on the side table. “’Til you’re sober. Grant, don’t answer him. You don’t have to answer him.”
“Oh, I’ll imagine the answer, then. Stay put, Grant! I’m not through.”
“You sit where you are and you listen to me. I’m seeing things in your work—I’ve been seeing them. I’ve corrected you. You’ve changed things right back—”
“Where it matters.”
“You’ve changed things right back in the same vein as that little item you sent me this afternoon. The same thing you shoved in my face at dinner.”
“I was uneasy about the concept, I didn’t get an answer on the others, just a correction with no note. I wasn’t sure why. I was asking your help with a problem, Dad . . . I’m sorry if it gives you some eetee flashback to your own time . . .”
“Oh, back to my time, is it? What is my time, can you tell me that, son of mine?”
“I didn’t mean that.”
“Pretty clear what people here think. Twenty years out of the current here, twenty years of a real style change in operations here, Yanni Schwartz losing his mind and putting you with the little bitch to let her pick your bones clean. I don’t appreciate that move. I don’t care if the spoiled darling did threaten to stop breathing if he didn’t.”
“Actually, Jordan, I agreed to it. Clear the family name and all.”
“Oh. Oh, that’s good. I didn’t do it, dammit! Do you need to hear that?”
“I hear you. I just think it’s as well the public—when this goes public—hears it, too. I’d like to see the day—”
“What, the day everything’s sweet again? It won’t come. You want me to work with you? Quit working with her.”
“Let’s put it this way, Dad. I won’t. I respect you, I respect you tremendously, but you don’t have the right to tell me who I work with. I’m getting something out of this . . .”
“Oh, it’s clear you’re getting something out of it! And you don’t have the right to take my theories and hand them on a platter to that little walking memory bank. I had to put up with the last Ari taking my work and putting her name on it and I’m sure as hell not going to see it happen in the second generation.”
“I haven’t given her your work, except as you’ve taught me. After that, Dad, in the way things work in the universe, it becomes mine.”
“The hell it does.”
“It becomes mine, Dad, not because I’m regurgitating it verbatim, but because I’m using my brain and everybody else’s input along with yours to come up with my own ideas.”
“And her input, it’s very damned clear.”
“Because you didn’t like a two-line routine I wrote on a cocktail napkin? I gave you a second instance of a similar routine, because my own leap of logic bothered me and I wanted your reaction on it, but do I get a sensible discussion, on this one or the last two weeks? No. First you ignore it—”
“I didn’t ignore it. I corrected it!”
“Twice, without any explanation!”
“I’d think you damned well knew my objection!”
“I’m not reading your mind!”
“So I said something, tonight!”
“In the bar? You didn’t say something in any rational way. You went orbital without a launch, just up there, bang! No preface, no sensible discussion, nothing but a fucking emotional reaction, alcohol-fueled, and fluxed to the max. You aren’t thinking clearly on this, Dad. If you saw something in my work that triggered a flash of your own—”
“Don’t you go patronizing with me!”
“All right, all right. This is it. We’re going home.”
“Home. Is that what you call it?”
“I live in Wing One! I live there because there was a time, thanks to my trying to find out about your situation, that I was apt to be arrested, which was damn near a monthly event in my life, and it was getting serious, about then. I’d have been in lockup. That was my choice.”
“And then things all changed. All right. Level with me. There was a time they wouldn’t trust you. I’m not talking about the little darling. I’m not even talking about Denys. I’m talking about Yanni. They wouldn’t trust you. Now they do. Why?”
“Because she told them to. Because Denys Nye is dead, and his apparatus isn’t functioning any more. Because Yanni likes me better than Denys did!”
“Because she told them to. Because she’d had a chance to work you over, that last time, when Grant was in Planys, and you were here solo, in her reach.”
It was too close to the truth. He didn’t want to lie about it. “She’s a kid, Dad.”
“She’s a monstrosity. And she got her hands on you when Grant wasn’t around. She finished what her predecessor started. Didn’t she?”
“Dad . . .”
“I’m not hearing you deny it. Is it true, Grant? Did she do that?”
Silence from that quarter. Grant had prior orders, an instruction from his current Supervisor that outranked anything his first Supervisor could order on that topic.
“I draw my conclusion,” Jordan said. “She did. Just you? Or both of you?”
Meet the Author
C. J. Cherryh planned to write since the age of ten. When she was older, she learned to use a type writer while triple-majoring in Classics, Latin and Greek. At 33, she signed over her first three books to DAW and has worked with DAW ever since. She can be found at cherryh.com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Cherryh picked up where she left off with the Cyteen series and kept everything true to the story line. She did not change things to reflect our current technologies-she stayed true to the world and the time line that she created. This above all was what I valued. Too often, when series have a long time between books, but the story time line picks up where the last book ends, the current technologies, etc, appear. She is still the great writer I have always enjoyed. I was sad when I finished the book!
I thought this was an excellent book and a wonderful continuation of the story of Ariane and company. This book is complex in the flavors of politics and relationships between Ariane and her friends and enemies, it is a rich tapestry of politics and science, life and everything in between. I thought it was wonderful book, some of the science stuff eluded me but it was a big part of story especially regarding genetics and it's implications and that is reflective of our own times since we are in the begining of genetics and it's ethics nowadays. Excellent read and ends dramatically so get the book and enjoy it!
C.J. Cherryh is an extraordinary writer and story teller who's hallmark is the creation of a possible future or alternative universe with a complex thread and jargon unique to the landscape she has created but left for the reader to puzzle out. The story, even when highly cerebral, as with Regenesis, maintains a high level of uncertainty and drama throughout. Here, as in Cyteen, the character of Arianne Emory is a repeat of the theme introduced with Pyanfar, of the clever female in charge of something, space ships, government agencies, etc, fighting for survival using her superior wits in a male dominated milieu. You may or may not like her, but you do root for her. It helps to have read some of the other novels in this series, (i.e. Cyteen, Mercanter's Luck, Downbelow Station, etc)to get a more complete picture of the universe she has created, but this novel stands alone and can be read as a one-off. Even though it is fairly long, I was disappointed when it ended and wanted more. I hope we see more of Union Space and Arianne Emory from Ms. Cherryh.
In the research city of Reseune, eighteen year old scientist Ariane ¿Ari¿ Emory is a clone of a late brilliant warped person whose work on psychogenesis, the cloning of psychology and memory, was ingenious; the evidence being Ari II. However, Ariane I was killed by an unknown adversary during a power struggle. Meanwhile another clone Justin Warrick mentors the ¿second Ariane¿.
However, all hell breaks loose when Justin¿s prototype Jordan comes home from exile demanding justice. He wants to know who killed Ariane I. Even more disturbing in his mind is that the history of the Union seems to be repeating itself with violence and death, but this time the battle for power also includes clones.
Two decades have past since CYTEEN was published, but fans of the series will feel the wait was worth it as the sequel REGENESIS retains the dark gloomy future of the first tale. The key is the cast who make Cherryh¿s grim picture plausible although the plot with several clever spins focuses on Ari II; she holds it together as a second power struggle erupts. Although reading CYTEEN is not a must prerequisite to appreciate REGENESIS, this reviewer suggests starting with the original super first story that holds up nicely as that enhances the backdrop to the excellent sequel.
I never availed myself of the opportunity to read "Cyteen", the volume that precedes "Regenesis," when it was first released; thus, I have had the very great pleasure of reading both books consecutively as a fresh experience - and I still want more. This volume continues to chronicle the rise of Ariane Emory, PR as she steadily recovers her predecessor's power and influence, even as she puts her own stamp on things. The differences are perhaps more intriguing than the similarities, eerie as those latter may be. The framework set by the development of the Geraud, Abban, & Seely clones is a nice periodic reminder of so many things: the passage of time, the developing connections, the potential for similarities and divergences. Again, the ongoing discussions of life, death, genetic manipulation, cloning per se, destiny vs. free will, nature vs. nurture vs. nature/nurture, loyalty, duty, necessity, ethics, choices, etc. are thoughtful and open-ended. This reading is a pleasure.
Finally a follow up to Cyteen. Wonderful book. An interesting look in to human psychology especially concerning power. Not to mention, it's just a danged good read!
As always CJ Cherryh has done it again with another story from the Cyteen Series. I only wonder what took so long to see it come out.