After ten thousand years in exile, the cyber-warriors return in their fleet of spaceships to the planet that rejected them: Earth.
Other Series by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
The Saga of Recluce
The Imager Portfolio
The Corean Chronicles
The Spellsong Cycle
The Ghost Books
The Ecolitan Matter
The Forever Hero
The Green Progression
Hammer of Darkness
The Parafaith War
The Octagonal Raven
The Ethos Effect
The Eternity Artifact
The Elysium Commission
Empress of Eternity
The One-Eyed Man
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About the Author
L. E. Modesitt, Jr., is the bestselling author of the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce, Corean Chronicles, and the Imager Portfolio. His science fiction includes the Ecolitan novels, the Forever Hero Trilogy, and Archform: Beauty. Besides a writer, Modesitt has been a U.S. Navy pilot, a director of research for a political campaign, legislative assistant and staff director for a U.S. Congressman, Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues, and a college lecturer. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.
L. E. Modesitt, Jr., is the bestselling author of the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce, Corean Chronicles, and the Imager Portfolio. His science fiction includes Adiamante, the Ecolitan novels, the Forever Hero Trilogy, and Archform: Beauty. Besides a writer, Modesitt has been a U.S. Navy pilot, a director of research for a political campaign, legislative assistant and staff director for a U.S. Congressman, Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues, and a college lecturer. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.
Read an Excerpt
By L. E. Modesitt Jr., David G. Hartwell
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 1996 L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
All rights reserved.
If the conversation had been offline and spoken, neither of which was possible within the working systems contained in the adiamante hull of the Gibson, the words would have followed old patterns, patterns based on the spoken words that seldom echoed within the bulkheads and networks of the Vereal ship.
"Are you certain?"
"It's Old Earth, all right. The geography is within parameters," answered the cybnav, but since all the crew members — especially the line marines — were cybs, her tag on the net was nav, navigator, subcommander, or, less frequently, her given name.
"The DNA has the same base across all the samples," added the environmental officer. "And there was no hostile reaction to the samplers."
"They were scanned," interjected the weapons controller.
"I don't like those terms — base, within parameters. Does the DNA match or doesn't it? What about the geography? A planet doesn't change that much in ten thousand years, does it?" asked Commander Gibreal, knowing the answer, but seeking, as do all those of human DNA-type, confirmation of the obvious.
"There have been what look to be deliberate genetic manipulations, some subtle, some not so subtle," signaled the envoff to the Gibson's commander. "Certainly not enough to account for the reputation of the place as the planet of death."
"What about viruses, bacteria, that sort of thing?" Gibreal knew the answers, again, before he received them.
"The former colonies were pretty clear about that. So were their records. Whatever the effect was, it wasn't anything known to their medical science. People died in full clean-suits and armor, in extreme trauma, and without any form of radiation, or any other trackable internal or external cause."
"Of course, there aren't any real records or tissue samples left." Gibreal's words smoked across the net with the bitterness of aqua regia. "What some people won't believe. Healthy bodies just don't die."
"What about telepathic auto-suggestion?" asked the envoff.
"Another rumor lost in time. No one's ever been able — not even the demis — to master telepathy. Anyway," added the commander, "that was thousands of years ago, and the old colonies have sent traders and envoys without harm for generations. They don't stay long, but their technology doesn't approach ours — or that of the old Rebuilt Hegemony." The commander snorted soundlessly, and his disgust colored the net with brown and the unsmelled odor of animal defecations. "Technology? Structures?"
"There aren't a lot of visible structures, except for those hundred or so energy concentrations — and that mass of ruins east of the mountains in the middle of old NorAm — that's what the records call it." The nav projected laffodils across the web with her words.
The laffodils wilted under the image of a blazing sun. "No other ruins? Just the one set?"
"There's the Great Wall — but we knew about that — and the non-talking heads. There may be smaller sets, but nothing else that exceeds two hundred meters."
"Two monuments, one set of ruins, and one-hundred-plus energy concentrations — that's it?"
"Within the system parameters so far, ser."
The sense of exhaled breath flooded the net, and the nav winced at the gale that whistled through the circuits.
"What are the energy concentrations?"
"They look to be a combination of transport hubs, service maintenance and manufacturing centers — with some transient housing."
"Everyone's there?" Gibreal's words lashed like a laser along the net channels. "The whole population within some hundred enclaves?"
"Not a chance. There's almost an energy web across the planet. It's hard to tell, but there seem to be a lot of independent energy generation points."
"So they've really regressed, have they?"
"Decentralized, anyway," temporized the nav, rubbing her forehead and blinking back the water jolted from her eyes by the violence of Gibreal's slashes through the net.
"Do we go in openly?" Gibreal's lashed words honed back toward the weapons officer.
"Why not? If they're hostile we can flatten those centers, and that should leave them helpless." Weapons projected fire and flames, and the ice of the de-energizers. "It looks straightforward enough."
"It won't be," countered the nav. "They ruled this part of the galaxy once. You saw what their fleet did to Al-Moratoros."
The image of the satellite of Moratoros three flashed across the net — a shining polished sphere, lifeless after more than scores of centuries, a sphere bathing an uninhabited planet in brilliant silver moonlight.
"That was then; this is now. They're coasting on the glory of a technology and power that's long since faded. The asteroid cities are dead, and the atmosphere of Mars is leaking back into space. No society has ever maintained its power for that long."
"Not even us." No one owned to the thought that crossed the net.
"We've regained our heritage," the commander added, "and we've avoided them for too long, just because of something that happened millennia ago." The commander flicked his order at the comm officer. "Send the signal."
The same message went out in multiple forms — beginning with complex variwave, then comm laser, UHF, VHF — all using the old protocols from the days preceding The Flight.
It was a simple message.
"The Exploration Fleet of the Vereal Union greets you. We request the opportunity to meet with the appropriate authority to discuss resumption of contact between our peoples. Please respond."
Less than a stan passed before the variwave response came.
"This is Old Earth, Deseret station. ..."
As the transmission echoed along the net, the cybcomm and MYL-ERA ran the analysis.
"A high power, tight beam transmission," observed MYL-ERA, her net projections cool and sharp-edged, without emotional overtones.
"They know where we are."
"Not that difficult."
"In less than a standard hour — to receive, analyze, discover, find us, and frame a logical response?" asked the comm officer.
"A high degree of efficiency," agreed MYL-ERA.
"Too high," muttered the comm officer offline and under her breath. "Far too high."
"Still the same old demis, as arrogant in their knowledge as draffs are immobile in their ignorance," added Gibreal.
Neither MYL-ERA nor the comm officer responded.CHAPTER 2
I sat at the circular cedar table I had made nearly a half-century earlier and stared out across the pinons, looking beyond the mist at everything — and nothing, as I had for a string of uncounted mornings.
The age-polished timbers still lifted the steep-pitched ceiling above me, and the wide windows still admitted the light, and the white, hand-plastered walls held still held that light.
I sniffed, catching the faintest of familiar scents, and I swallowed and looked back at the piñon-covered hills to the northwest.
Morgen was dead, and there wasn't much more to be said. Nothing changed that — not all the linkages we had shared or the ability to block her pain, to enjoy the last days as she had grown weaker. Nor had all the rationalizing helped, not about how much longer she had lived than could have any draff or cyb — not that Earth had any cybs left since The Flight.
She was dead. A half-century together had not been enough. Her soulsongs were not enough. If only athanasia were possible, athanasia of the body and not just of songs so painful they ripped through me, so beautiful that I still listened — and wept within myself, if only. ...
Yet I did not wish to follow her — and I did not want to remain, either. So I watched the piñons, my thoughts floating out with the greedy jays, the spunky junkos, and the perpetually frightened jackrabbits. Beyond those more traditional auras loomed the darkness of the vorpals and kalirams and the protective emptiness of the sambur.
In that limbo, because I could not or would not decide, I answered the inlink when it chimed in my skull.
"Crucelle. The cybs are back. I thought you might like the charge." Crucelle's thoughts were clear, with the practice of centuries, along with the pulsed information on the cyb fleet, the dozen shielded ships that glittered power in the underweb and overspace and the multi-form transmissions that they had beamed at each locial point on Earth. Behind the information was the slender red-headed presence of Crucelle himself, a formal red-bronze dagger of a soul, and behind Crucelle was the ever-hovering soulshadow of Arielle, swirling stormangel on his linknet.
"Someone has to be Coordinator." The thought words reflected the tempered and honed edge of a formal blade: seldom used, but always ready.
I understood the unpulsed thoughts. Someone ... and Crucelle had Arielle. Rhetoral had Elanstan. Even old Mithres had Dmetra. Coordinators took the risks. And with Morgen gone, I could certainly afford the compensatory time that would follow, assuming that I didn't follow the unwilling precedent of many Coordinators.
"And I'm that someone?"
"I could ask around. ..."
I understood that as well. "The cybs? Might as well be me. Thanks."
"Hello, Arielle," I added as Crucelle finished.
"I told you he would accept." Her words carried the whispers of the winds, winds that could have dwarfed the great storms that still swept the mighty west ocean. Winds, not the singing bells of dawn and twilight that I needed. "He needs a challenge bigger than his pain."
Crucelle snorted, or that was the sensation that I received. "You did; he does, and he will."
"Have they said what they want?" I ignored Arielle's netflashed smile.
"Not yet," answered Crucelle, his phrases as precise as though transmitted on a print screen. "They're scanning the locials, almost as if they can't figure out why we have so few discernible instances of technology. We have a little time before responding."
Arielle storm-ghosted out of the shadow-link with the hint of a wink and another smile as I thought about the cybs.
"They're after revenge, obviously."
"Elanstan opts for conquest, but I'd picked revenge," agreed Crucelle. "In what form, though?"
"Revenge isn't revenge if the victim doesn't know it. That's why the call."
"They could be cautious."
"What did they ask for?"
"Here's the whole transmission." With the short message also came the information on the multiple sending methods, including those that had scrambled more than a few draff datanets.
"Just a meeting ... requested with the hint of immense power. Twelve ships each two klicks long, each with an adiamante hull." I found my lips pursing, and recalled Morgen's phrase about sealed lips being unable to kiss. I shook my head.
"I felt that headshake." Crucelle laughed. "Clearly, the mythology of death hasn't stopped them, unlike the released systems."
"Of course not. They're brilliant, rational cybs, and they haven't changed in millennia."
"There aren't as many of us now as there were then," Crucelle reminded me. "Twelve adiamante hulls indicates there are more of them and a significant technological and industrial base. You don't create adiamante in a small locial. What do you suggest?"
"Agree to their meeting to begin with. Let me think about the rest of it."
"You're hoping to find another way?" Even his question was formal-dagger sharp.
Who indeed wouldn't? If Old Earth indeed needed to return to being the planet of death, the costs on all sides would be high, perhaps too high. That was always the risk posed by the Construct. I sighed as I broke the link.CHAPTER 3
The morning after Crucelle linked, I was up early, as always. With Morgen's soulsongs soft-pealing through my mind, I wanted to hold her, talk to her, not to her images. Words and songs and memories ... they were better than the emptiness of nothing. I did not call up a full-body holo, nor had I ever, especially not since her death. Life is whole-body, not net-images, and that was something the old cybs had never understood — and something I feared had not changed.
Nor had I opted for deep-soul thought-reality, for I was too much an intuit to accept such a shallow construct, and too rationalist to let myself be deceived, no matter how welcome such self-deception might be.
Instead of continuing with memory, I turned on the burner for the kettle, a small luxury, and ate a pear, one of the last ones off the tree in the side garden, firm with a hint of tartness in all its aeneous glory. Then I toasted another slice of heavy homemade bread. The maize was holding out, despite my increased appetite for carbohydrates, and that was fine. Between the firin cells, the solgen, and joba stocks, I had plenty of power.
Then, again, between the cybs and the duties of being Coordinator, the power stocks for the house were scarcely likely to be a problem. Coordinator duties carried both a comptime burden and a hefty admin offset credit — and every bit of that offset was usually earned. I shook my head.
The kettle began to boil, and I brewed, in the old-fashioned way, a cup of tea, wondering absently if tea would outlast all our heritages and worries. Then I sat and ate and sipped my way through two cups, letting the steam wreathe my face between sips as I held the cup two-handed below my chin. The crunchiness of the few sunflower seeds in the bread was another reminder of ... what? I wasn't feeling that philosophical, but they tasted good.
Coordinator? Against the largest fleet seen since the Rebuilt Hegemony? As Arielle had said, it was definitely a challenge, but not bigger than Morgen's death — just different, and my loss made me the best candidate. Wonderful.
I ate a second slice of toast before I left the table and dressed for exercise: yet another form of escape from reality, an escape created by seizing the moment so tightly that the reality of the past faded — while I ran, at least.
The sun hung unrisen below the eastern mountains as I stepped out of the house into the gray light. From one of the top branches of an ancient piñon on the southeast side of the long hilltop, the golden eagle — the one with the self-concept/image of "Swift-Fall-Hunter" — flapped into the dawn, then glided into the shadowed silence of the west gorge over the scattered meleysen trees that remained. Although the dwindling meleysens continued to clean air and ground and spread their pervasive faint orange perfume, the scent usually didn't reach the house.
As Swift-Fall-Hunter vanished, I smiled and stretched each leg in turn, placing it on the waist-high pile of hand-sawn deadwood, gradually stretching and leaning forward, avoiding any rocking motion. I had left the bow saw inside — no wood gathering when I needed to think. Besides, I had enough deadwood, and Morgen had been the one who really liked the fire in the antique cast-iron stove that dated back centuries or longer.
The breeze carried the scent of cedar and juniper and piñon, the air barely damp from the quick evening rain of the night before. A light dusting of snow had covered the higher mountains to the east, and to the north the Esklant Peaks glittered white, as would the hills around me before much longer.
I finished stretching, straightened the loose sweat clothes, checked the razored blade in the sheath, and walked along the path toward the western end of the ridge. A brilliant blue piñon jay squawked, then a second, and both flapped upward, followed by the rest of the small flock, as they swirled downhill to light on another broad-branched piñon, high enough that they would not be easy prey for a vorpal.
After a quick glance back at the thick brown walls that merged with the hillside and the one partly open window, I began to run, letting my mind free-associate on the thought of the cybs — of the coming meeting in Parwon.
As always, the lines of dialogue spooled through my nets, almost independent of moving legs and breathing.
Excerpted from Adiamante by L. E. Modesitt Jr., David G. Hartwell. Copyright © 1996 L. E. Modesitt, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is not a review of the content of the book, as I personally enjoyed the story, development, and plot. This is intended only to warn potential readers that this is a horribly digitized e-book. It's almost as if someone tore pages from the printed book to run through bargain-store OCR scanning software, then translated to a foreign language and back a few times to tidy things up. This Nook Book is rife with errors from multiple sentences on a page withous spacing to random capitalization to nonsensical letter swaps with other letters, numbers, or even punctuation marks. Nothing brings home the heard-pounding stress of a situation like changing all instances of the letter I with an exclaimation point. While I found this book to be worth the cost I do have to say that the constant bizarre errors constantly pulled me from the story as I spent valuable and sparse brain power trying to determine what exactly the given sentence was trying to tell me. If you enjoy L. E. Modesitt's work as much as I do then I heartily recommend this book. If you're unfamiliar with his work then I encourage you to look elsewhere so that your opinion of him isn't tainted by this terrible travesty of editorial oversight.
L.E. Modesitt, Jr., never fails in laying down interesting moral questions and problems, and this book is perhaps the one most filled with them.
Modesitt manages to balance many ideas of our possible future in very a thought provoking tale. It will make you question where our race is heading with the many technilogical concepts we seem so eager to get our hands on.