[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

on his unbuttoned holster.
Only then did I look down at my feet. And I froze in amazement.
The Dark Magician was there, under the glass. He was screaming. His eyes had turned into round black patches,
forced wide open by his pain and terror. The fingertips of one hand were imbedded in the glass and he was
hanging by them, with his body swaying like a pendulum in the gusts of wind. The sleeve of his white shirt was
soaked in blood. The wand was still there on the magician's belt, but he'd forgotten about it. I was the only thing
that existed for him right now, on the other side of that triple-reinforced glass, inside the dry, warm, bright shell of
the observation platform, beyond Good and Evil. A Light Magician, sitting above him and gazing into those eyes
Page 113
crazy with pain and terror.
"Well, did you think we always fight fair?" I asked. Somehow I thought he might be able to hear me, even through
the thick glass and the roar of the wind. I stood up and stamped my heel on the glass. Once, twice, three times-it
didn't matter that the blow wouldn't reach the fingers fused into the glass.
The Dark Magician jerked, trying to tug his hand out of the way of that crushing heel-a spontaneous, instinctive,
irrational reaction.
The flesh gave way.
For a moment the glass was covered with a red film of blood, but then the wind swept it away. And all I could see
was the vague outline of the Dark Magician's body, getting smaller and smaller, tumbling over and over in the
tower's turbulent slipstream. He was being carried in the direction of The Three Little Pigs, a fashionable
establishment at the foot of the tower.
The invisible clock ticking away in my mind gave a loud click and instantly cut the time I had left in half.
I stepped off the glass and walked around the platform in a circle. I wasn't looking at the people; I was gazing into
the Twilight. No, there weren't any more guards here. Now I had to find out where their headquarters were. Up on
top in the service premises, among all the equipment? I didn't think so. Probably in more comfortable
surroundings.
There was another security guard, a human, standing at the top of the stairs leading down into the restaurants.
One glance was enough for me to see that he'd been influenced already, and quite recently. It was a good thing
they'd only influenced him superficially.
And it was a very good thing they'd decided to influence him at all. That was a trick that cut both ways.
The security guard opened his mouth, getting ready to shout.
"Quiet! Come this way!" I ordered.
The security guard followed me without saying a word.
We went into the restroom-one of the tower's free attractions, the highest urinal and toilet bowls in Moscow.
Please feel free to make your mark among the clouds. I waved my hand through the air. A spotty-faced youth
came scurrying out of one cubicle, buttoning up his pants; the man at the urinal grunted, broke off, and went
wandering out with a glassy look in his eyes.
"Take your clothes off," I ordered the security guard and starting pulling off my wet sweater.
The holster was half-open, and the Desert Eagle was far older than my Makarov, but that didn't particularly bother
me. The important thing was that the uniform was almost a perfect fit.
"If you hear shooting," I told the guard, "go down and carry out your duty. Do you understand?"
He nodded.
"I turn you toward the Light," I said, intoning the words of the enlistment formula. "Renounce the Darkness,
defend the Light. I give you the vision to distinguish Good from Evil. I give you the faith to follow the Light. I give
you the courage to fight against the Darkness."
I used to think I'd never get a chance to use my right to enlist volunteers. How could there be free choice in
genuine Darkness? How could I involve anybody in our games when the Watches themselves were established to
counterattack that practice?
But now I was acting without hesitation, exploiting the loophole that the Dark Ones had left me by getting the
security man to guard their headquarters, the way some people keep a small dog in their apartment: It can't bite,
but it can yap. What they'd done gave me the right to sway the security man in the opposite direction and get
him to follow me. After all, he wasn't either good or bad; he was a perfectly ordinary man with a wife he loved in
moderation, elderly parents whom he didn't forget to help, a little daughter, and a son from his first marriage who
was almost grown up, a weak faith in God, a tangled set of moral principles, and a few standard dreams-an
ordinary, decent man.
A piece of cannon fodder in the war between the armies of Light and Darkness.
"The Light be with you," I said. The pathetic little man nodded and his face lit up. There was adoration in his
eyes. A few hours earlier he'd gazed in exactly the same way at the Dark Magician who'd given him a casual
command and shown him my photograph.
A moment later the security guard was standing at the top of the stairs in my stinking clothes, and I was walking
down the stairs trying to figure out what I was going to do if Zabulon was in the headquarters. Or any other
magician of his level, come to that.
In that case my powers wouldn't be enough to maintain my disguise for even a second.
The Bronze Hall. I stepped through the doors and looked at the absurd, ring-shaped "restaurant car." The ring
was slowly rotating, together with the tables standing on it.
Page 114
I'd been certain the Dark ones would set up their headquarters in either the Gold Hall or the Silver Hall. And I was
quite surprised by the scene that met my eyes.
The waiters were drifting from table to table like lazy fish, handing out bottles of spirits, which were supposedly
forbidden up here. On two tables straight ahead of me computer terminals had been set up, connected to two cell
phones. They hadn't bothered to run a cable to any of the tower's countless service outlets, which meant the
headquarters had been set up to work only for a short while. Three young guys with short hair were working away
intently, with their fingers leaping around all over the keyboards while the lines of type scrolled up the monitor
screens and their cigarettes smoked in the ashtrays. I'd never seen Dark programmers before, and these were
only simple operators, of course. But they didn't look any different from one of our magicians sitting at a notebook
plugged into the network at headquarters. Maybe they even looked a bit more respectable than some I know.
"Sokolniki's completely covered," one of the guys said. His voice wasn't loud, but it rumbled right around the ring
of the restaurant, making the waiters shudder and falter in their stride.
"The Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line's under surveillance," said another of them. The young guys glanced at
each other and laughed. They probably had a little competition going to see who could report fastest on his
sectors.
Go right ahead, keep looking!
I set off around the restaurant, making for the bar. Take no notice of me. I'm a harmless security man who just
happened to be given the role of a lowly guard. And now the security man's decided he'd like a beer. Has he
completely lost all sense of responsibility? Or has he decided to check that his new bosses are safe? A platoon
was sent on night patrol on the orders of the king. Trala-la-la, trala-la-la...
The young woman behind the bar was wiping glasses in a melancholy sort of way. When I stopped, she started [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

Powered by WordPress dla [Nie kocha się ojca ani matki ani żony ani dzieca, lecz kocha się przyjemne uczucia, które w nas wzbudzają]. Design by Free WordPress Themes.