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.Paranoid schizophrenia, that was it; a splitting off of the mind from reality.Let's see, now—she reasoned.If I'm mad, then it's safe to look up the symptoms and decide that I'm mad, except that presumably I won't accept the evidence.And if I'm not mad, I daren't check memory to prove it.So we'd better accept the working hypothesis that I am sane, and go on from there.The dry humor of the syllogism did something to restore her emotional balance.Although how long I will remain sane, under these circumstances.Better not to think about that.Better, too, not to remember Caleb's first partner, who had gone into irreversible coma rather than face the emptiness that surrounded him after the synaptic connections between his shell and the outside world had been destroyed.As a matter of sanity, as well as survival, Nancia decided, she would make the assumption that somebody had done this to her, and concentrate on solving the puzzle of who had done it and how they could be stopped.A natural first step would be to reopen just one sensor, to examine the bursts of energy that had come so close to disrupting her nervous system.I can't! the child within her shrieked in near-panic.You can't make me, I won't, I won't, I'll stay safe in here forever.That's not an option, Nancia told herself firmly.She wanted to say it aloud, to reassure herself with the sound of her own voice; but she was mute as well as deaf and blind and without sensation, floating in an absolute blackness.Somehow she had to conquer that panic within herself.Poetry sometimes helped.That Old Earth dramatist Sev and Fassa were so fond of quoting; she had plenty of his speeches stored in her memory banks.On such a night as this.Nancia reached unthinking for memory, stopped the impulse just in time.She didn't know that speech; she had stored it in memory.Quite a different thing.Try something else, then.I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.Not a good choice, under the circumstances.Maybe.did she know anything else? What was she, without her memory banks, her sensors, her powerful thrusting engines? Did she even exist at all?That way lies madness.Of course she existed.Deliberately Nancia filled herself with her own true memories.Scooting around the Laboratory Schools corridors, playing Stall and Power-Seek with her friends.Acing the math finals, from Lobachevski Geometry up through Decomposition Topology, playing again, with all the wonderful space of numbers and planes and points to wander in.Voice training with Ser Vospatrian, the Lab Schools' drama teacher, who'd taught them to modulate their speaker-produced vocalizations through the full range of human speech with all its emotional overtones.That first day they'd all been shy and nervous, hating the recorded playbacks of their own tinny artificial voices; Vospatrian had made them recite limericks and nonsense poems until they broke down in giggles and forgot to be self-conscious.Goodness, she could still remember those silly poems with which he'd started off every session.And quite without thinking or calling on her artificially augmented memory banks, Nancia was off."The farmer's daughter had soft brown hair,Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese,And I met with a poem, I can't say where,Which wholly consisted of lines like these.""There was a young brainship of Vega.""Fhairson swore a feud against the clan M'Tavish;Marched into their land to murder and to ravish,For he did resolve to extirpate the vipersWith four-and-twenty men and five-and-thirty pipers."Nancia went through Ser Vospatrian's entire repertoire until she was giggling internally and floating on the natural high of laughter-produced endorphins.Then, floating quite calmly in her blackness, she set about testing her sensor connections one by one.She got the mental equivalent of burned fingers and light-blinded eyes more than once during the testing process, but it wasn't as bad as she had feared.The lower-deck sensors were completely useless, as were her navigation computer and the new mathematics and graphics co-processors she'd just invested in.Everything, in fact, that contains hyperchips from Shemali.and with that deduction, Nancia knew just who was striking at her and why.She opened the upper deck sensors one by one, first taking in the sleeping bodies tumbled in the passageway and cabins.Sev, slumped over the isometric spring set in the exercise room with his hands and feet still in the springholders; Alpha, strapped in her cabin; Blaize, floating just above the passageway deck, with an angelic expression on his sleeping face and a nasty bruise coming up on his chin.Mutiny.And somebody released sleepgas.But which side? She opened the control cabin sensors slowly, cautiously.The port side sensors wavered and gave an erratic display.Somehow Polyon's hyperchips must be working to contaminate the entire computer system.I don't have much time.Even less time than she'd thought, Nancia realized as she took in the standoff in the control room.General Questar-Benn disabled—of course, the hyperchips in her prostheses—and Darnell holding her needler on a defiant Forister while Polyon sat in the pilot's chair and played his commands on the computer console.That, at least, she could do something about.Nancia struck back, sending her own commands to the computer, disabling the console section by section, garbling Polyon's commands as they came in.He tapped out a sequence she did not know; she traced it to its source and with shock recognized her own access code.The musical tones were already sounding in the cabin.But the accompanying syllables weren't stored in the same location.They have to be somewhere, though.In some part of memory not accessible to my conscious probe.Otherwise my shell wouldn't recognize and open to them.Nancia felt proud of herself for figuring that out, then cold and sick as she wondered how long it would take Polyon to make the same deduction.And if the syllables aren't where I can consciously retrieve them, how can I block Polyon against doing so?She felt queasy from the repeated looping through four decomposition spaces, but there was no safe way to leave the loop until she regained full computing and navigational facility.First, let's repair the damage.Nancia worked furiously, permanently disabling the sections of her computer system that had been contaminated by the Shemali hyperchips, finding alternative routings to access the processors that remained untouched.At the same time the worm program unleashed by Polyon squirmed deeper into her system, changing and mutating code as it went, erasing its own tracks so that she could only tell where it had been by the sudden flares of disorienting sense input or the garbled mathematics where it had been.She had to find and stop that code before she could do anything else [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]