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remembered, dimly, the blast that had taken half his head off years
ago, it seemed. He remembered himself rising, like the phoenix, from the dead.
But suppose you hit the one point in the brain that contains the
vital structure that enables everything else to work. The central
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processor of the soul. The one point that, if you vaporize it,
cannot be restored. Surely there is such a point
.
He closed his eyes, willing the finger to fire.
He opened his eyes and looked cross-eyed down his finger. With a bitter laugh,
he dropped his hand to his side. How could he kill himself if he didn t know
how to fire his finger?
Probably it wouldn t have worked anyway.
He snapped off the light and returned to the hearth-red sanctum of
the living room.
Tamika looked up at him.  You okay?
 Okay is a relative word. He let his gaze drift around the room
without seeing.  Yeah. I
guess I m okay.
With a sigh, he returned to the console. Maybe what he hadn t learned from his
photo files, he would find in his financial records, bills, receipts,
and appointments past and future.
Somewhere there had to be a key that would release his past.
As he adjusted the display-screen hood, Max stirred where he sat on
the floor. His voice whispered, echoing in the stillness and the gloom:  I
have arranged an appointment, Willard.
Ruskin looked up.  Should I hope?
Max s head tilted, his eyes glinted.  Hope, yes. But do not expect.
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Part Two
Worlds Within

Being invisible to every mortal nature, he is seen through his works
themselves
.
 Aristotle, on God
Prologue
Starmuse Station
Auricle Alliance Science Council in close orbit, Alpha Orionis A (Betelgeuse)
Date: 5/9/178
The memo glowed irritatingly on the screen, until Thalia Sharaane cleared
the workspace with an angry flick of her hand. As if she didn t have enough
to worry about, with convergence fast approaching, now she had to start
getting complaints from the guest observers. Their complaints and
questions were becoming increasingly difficult to answer.

We request explanation for your refusal to abide by the joint worlds
exploration agreement &

Request, indeed. The joint worlds agreement had made no guarantees.
It was a carefully crafted diplomatic deception to appease the
observer-status worlds, a pretext to give the
Alliance expedition freedom from interference for the critical time period
needed to complete the project.
Requests from the Querayn Academies she could usually deal with, at
least in principle.
The robed scholars were actually here for purported scientific studies, even
if their subject was nonexistent, in her opinion. They were attempting to
observe the so-called Kn consciousness of the sun, an alleged primitive
sentience for which they had never produced any actual evidence.
Still, it was a harmless endeavor, and it added a layer of scientific
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legitimacy to the whole  Starmuse side of the project. Unfortunately, the
Querayn were becoming increasingly demanding, in their polite scholarly
fashion, about their need for better data and, by extension, their
dissatisfaction over their restricted movements about the station.
There was little she could do about it; they wouldn t be here at all but for
politics beyond her control. As for the data they wanted: if they were given
access to much more, they might begin to suspect how they were being misled.
Frowning, Thalia shook her head. She hated this; she was supposed to be a
scientist, not a diplomat or professional liar. But she had to draw the line
somewhere.
And as for the Tandeskoes, her patience had long since given out. She scarcely
understood why they d even been allowed status here. Relations between
the Auricle Alliance and the
Tandesko Triune were deteriorating, almost to the point of outright hostility.
The culmination of this project would hardly improve matters in that
regard which, in truth, she regretted.
Certainly, she had no love for the Triune worlds, which were competing for the
same regions of space as the free-marketing Auricle Alliance nor for [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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