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.Frustrated, he tried to channel the will he enjoyed in corporeal flesh, during his recent incarnation, and accomplish the same end.“Resistance is an exercise in futility, Arthur.”“Should I enjoy watching you gloat?” The forces holding him pushed down on his shoulders.Arthur resisted, arranging his legs to squat instead of kneel.From that position, he managed to sit cross-legged.A chilling guess had become reality in those moments.The cave-sitter had used the same words to warn against resistance that the Archive uttered.He knew now with certainty they were the same entity.“Interesting.” The cave-sitter threw another branch on his fire.“So you think yourself defeated, and a captive?”“I’m here, aren’t I? Waiting with the Wild Hunt again, in between entertaining you.”“You dream, nothing more.” Another hunk of wood joined the blaze.Sparks flew skyward.“I’m alive?” Arthur squashed down a surge of hope, aware of how devious his companion was.“What do you want?”“There are truths you must learn.” The black eyes met Arthur’s over the fire.“I intended to use your body as a vessel for my essence to escape from Archives.I needed the neural pathways without your essence cohabiting, and I almost got my wish, but then you joined in a gestalt with your brother.I thought I had prevented such a possibility when I directed his steps into death.I underestimated your need to belong.The forces you released smashed through my bonds and I now wear the form I wore when I first visited your world.”“Who.what are you?” Arthur resisted naming this being.He wanted more than a convenient handle.He wanted answers.The figure of power he remembered from a past life did not claim spacecraft skills, however restricted his wording in the language of those times.“Later.For now, watch and learn.” A gesture from the being sent a huge wall of flame between them.It flattened to form a golden mirror-like surface that smoothed into multifaceted moving images.Arthur, trapped and horrified, writhed as it pulled him into glowing light.A helpless spirit without substance, he saw the actions of others through many windows.A tug in any direction that caught his attention brought him into the head of the person responsible.Full sensory playback paled into insignificance beside this experience.He was the Archive.Windows flashed before him, data surged into his memory base.*Gregor swallowed another stim tab, so close to victory that he dared not sleep.He walked over to a window, looking down, while he waited for the effects to kick in.Did those endless lines of people who shuffled on the sidewalk just trying to move really care what he did, or how he did it, as long as they benefited? Did anyone care what the black-band wearing proletariat thought? Did ethics have any place in a world drowning under the weight of its own population? Would anyone find out that he bartered his skills to be on the first hibernation ship to leave Earth for another world? Did he care?He fingered the metal band of his own silver identity wristlet.It gave him access to better quarters and medical facilities.He had received an education, and he might even receive permission to breed one day, unlike the sterilized black-bands.He wanted more.The right to walk down a street, and not have to share that same space with another living soul.A communit buzzed, calling his attention back into his laboratory.He depressed a button on the console.The face of a fat, balding man flickered into view.“Wojuk, how long do you estimate your drones will take to hatch?” Director Greenley asked, wiping a sheen of sweat from his shiny pate.“Around a year.I base that on the longest normal gestation period of all the species used in this amalgam.” Sweat started under the collar of his white lab coat.Not from heat in his air-conditioned paradise, but from fear.Who else worked in similar fields of research? Had they made a breakthrough? Would he lose his place on the ship?“We don’t have a year.Speed it up.Do whatever.” The screen went blank.Gregor let his breath out in a hiss.The species he used, the genomes spliced together with so much care to create the greatest intelligence, and it came down to ‘Do whatever’.And if he didn’t, who else would, and steal his place? He plucked a hair from his dark brown thatch and fixed the root to a microscope slide.So, they wanted fast, did they? They wanted smart?Ian Greenley was only a silver band, too.Gregor wondered who controlled the controller.What price did Greenley pay for the power he wielded?Five minutes later, Gregor added human alleles to the beginnings of a new race.He sent a short current pulsing through haploid cells.His mouth curved up in a smile when he saw activity through the lens of his microscope.Aiming the comment at a now absent Greenley, he said, ‘Let there be life,’ and giggled at his own blasphemy.*“What do you mean, Dexter? The drones aren’t viable? What good are they if they can’t perpetuate themselves?” The fat, beringed hand banged down on a rare, real-wood desk.“Didn’t you read Wojuk’s data?”“His notes stopped short.” Just before you had him terminated, John Dexter thought but did not say.He wondered if Greenley had another geneticist waiting to take over from his research for a place on the first ship.How many of us vying for the same berth? How many prepared to step on dead men’s shoulders, like he had with Wojuk?“Fix it.”John saw his death in those black, pig-like eyes.He knew then what alleles he must use.The drones needed invertebrate characteristics to reproduce.They needed a queen.The solution wasn’t perfect, or natural, but who expected natural in a Harvester? He cast a guilty look at Greenley, aware that no-one was supposed to name the drone species before the Director decided on a handle.That was what everyone called them, though.*Ian Greenley cast one last look at his home-world from the screen of the moon shuttle.He hated it and all who lived there.Five of his Nestines remained out of a hatching of twenty.Five plus the queen egg.Not necessary, the Ruling Planetary Council said.No more hibernation ships.No-one trusts those.Look what happened on the Saturn mission.We will pour resources into underwater cities instead.Have you seen the first one? We’ve called it Avalon.No, we don’t need the Nestines for that project.Oh, we’re sorry, there isn’t room for you in Avalon.We need physicists and chemists there, so you do see that your skills are redundant.While we are on that subject, we would like a full report on the whereabouts of six prominent geneticists.Tomorrow will do fine.Greenly saw his mortality on their smug, soon to be safe faces.His Nestines had killed thirty humans to get him aboard this shuttle.Enough of them survived to pilot the craft, and it held a fresh cache of weapons.Humans on the moon base were about to learn who ruled.He wouldn’t kill them.The Nestines needed a source of fresh meat.How much stock did each of the five hibernation ships contain? Greenley needed an answer before he acted.Animal life and insects, plants and fungi, as well as human sleepers.All must be on hand to sustain the moon base.Then.Greenley giggled, imagining his finger pressing the button.Nuke the bastards [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]