Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable. The first intelligent species to encounter mankind attacked without warning. Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable. With little hope of halting the invasion, Earth's last roll of the dice was to dispatch three colony ships, seeds of Earth, to different parts of the galaxy. The human race would live on . . . somewhere. 150 years later, the planet Darien hosts a thriving human settlement, which enjoys a peaceful relationship with an indigenous race, the scholarly Uvovo. But there are secrets buried on Darien's forest moon. Secrets that go back to an apocalyptic battle fought between ancient races at the dawn of galactic civilization. Unknown to its colonists, Darien is about to become the focus of an intergalactic power struggle where the true stakes are beyond their comprehension. And what choices will the Uvovo make when their true nature is revealed and the skies grow dark with the enemy?
Release date: September 25, 2012
Print pages: 630
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Seeds of Earth
Tranche – 298
Decryption Status – 9th pass, 26 video files recovered
File 15 – The Battle of Mars (Swarm War)
Veracity – Virtual Re-enactment
Original Time Log – 16:09:24, 23 November 2126
The Sergeant was on the carrier’s command deck, checking and rechecking the engineering console’s modifications, when voices began clamouring over his helmet comm.
‘Marine force stragglers incoming with enemy units in pursuit…’
‘… eight, nine Swarmers, maybe ten…’
The Sergeant cursed, grabbed his heavy carbine and left the command deck as quickly as his combat armour would allow. The clatter of his boots echoed down the vessel’s spinal corridor while he issued a string of terse orders. By the time he reached the wrecked and gaping doors of the rear deployment hold, the stragglers had arrived. Five wounded and unconscious, all from the Indonesia regiment, going by their helmet flashes. As the last was being carried up the ramp, the leading Swarmers came into view over the brow of a rocky ridge about 80 metres away.
A first glimpse revealed a nightmare jumble of claws, spikes and gleaming black eye-clusters. Swarm biology had many reptilian similarities yet their appearance was unavoidably insectoid. With six, eight, ten or more limbs, they could be as small as a pony or as big as a whale, depending on their specialisation. These were bull-sized skirmishers, eleven black-and-green monsters that were unlimbering tine-snouted weapons as they rushed down towards the crippled carrier.
‘Hold your fire,’ the Sergeant said, glancing at the six marines crouched behind the improvised barricade of ammo cases and deck plating. These were all that were left to him after the Colonel and the rest had left in the hovermags a few hours ago, heading for the caldera and the Swarm’s main hive. One of them hunched his shoulders a little, head tilting to aim down his carbine’s sights…
‘I said wait,’ said the Sergeant, gauging the diminishing distance. ‘Ready aft turrets… acquire targets… fire!’
Streams of heavy-calibre shells converged on the leading Swarmers, knocking them off their spidery legs. Then the Sergeant cursed when he saw them right themselves, protected by the bio-armour which had confounded Earth’s military ever since the beginning of the invasion two years ago.
‘Pulse rounds,’ the Sergeant shouted. ‘Now!’
Bright bolts began to pound the Swarmers, dense knots of energised matter designed to simultaneously heat and corrode their armour. The enemy returned fire, their weapons delivering repeating arcs of long, thin black rounds, but as the turret jockeys focused their targeting the Swarmers broke off and scattered. The Sergeant then ordered his men to open up, joining in with his own carbine, and the withering crossfire tore into the weakened, confused enemies. In less than a minute, nothing was left alive or in one piece out on the rocky slope.
The defending marines exchanged laughs and grins, and knocked gauntleted knuckles together. The Sergeant barely had time to draw breath and reload his carbine when the consoleman’s urgent voice came over the comm:
‘Sergeant! – airborne contact, three klicks and closing!’
Immediately, he swung round and made for the starboard companionway, shouldering his carbine as he climbed. ‘What’s their profile, soldier?’
‘Hard to tell – half the sensor suite is junk…’
‘Get me something and quick!’
He then ordered all four turrets to target the approaching craft and was clambering out of the carrier’s topside hatch when the consoleman came back to him.
‘IFF confirms it’s a friendly, Sergeant – it’s a vorti-wing, and the pilot is asking for you.’
‘Patch him through.’
One of his helmet’s miniscreens blinked suddenly and showed the vortiwing pilot. He was possibly German, going by the instructions on the bulkhead behind him.
‘Sergeant, I’ve not much time,’ the pilot said in accented English. ‘I’m to evacuate you and your men up to orbit…’
‘Sorry, Lieutenant, but… my commanding officer is down in that caldera, engaging in combat! Look, the brink of the caldera is less than half a klick away – you could airlift me and my men over there before returning to—’
‘Request denied. My orders are specific. Besides, every unit that made it down there has been overwhelmed and destroyed, whole regiments and brigades, Sergeant. I’m sorry…’ The pilot reached up to adjust controls. ‘ETD in less than five minutes, Sergeant. Please have your men ready.’
The miniscreen went dead. The Sergeant leaned on the topside rail and stared bitterly at the kilometre-long furrow which the carrier had gouged in the sloping flank of Olympus Mons. Then he gave the order to abandon ship.
In the shroud-like Martian sky overhead, the vorti-wing transport grew from a speck to a broad-built craft descending on four gimbal-mounted spinjets. Landing struts found purchase on the carrier’s upper hull, and amid the howling blast of the engines the walking wounded and the stretcher cases were lifted into the transport’s belly hold. The turret jockeys, the consoleman and his half-dozen marines were following suit when the German pilot’s voice spoke suddenly.
‘Large number of flying Swarmers heading our way, Sergeant. Suggest you get aboard fast.’
As the last of his men climbed up into the vortiwing, the Sergeant turned to face the caldera of Olympus Mons. Through a haze of windblown dust and the thin black fumes of battle, he saw a dense cloud of dark motes rising just a few klicks away. It took only a moment to realise how quickly they would be here, and for him to decide what to do.
‘Best you button up and get going, Lieutenant,’ he said as he leaped back into the carrier and sealed the hatch behind him. ‘I can keep them busy with our turrets, give you time to make orbit.’
‘Nein! Sergeant, I order you—’
‘Apologies, sir, but you’d never get away otherwise, so my task is clear.’
He cut the link as he rushed back along to the command deck, closing hatches as he went. True, the Colonel’s science officer had slaved all four of the turrets to the engineering console, but that wasn’t the only modification he had carried out…
The roar of the vortiwing’s spinjets grew to a shriek, landing struts loosened their grip and the transport lurched free. Moments later, the fourfold angled thrust was driving it upwards on a steep trajectory. Some of the Swarm outriders were already leading the flying host on an intercept course, until the carrier’s turrets opened fire upon them. Yet they would still have kept on after the ascending prey, had not the carrier itself now shifted like a great wounded beast and risen slowly from the long gouge it had made in the ground. Curtains of dust and grit fell from its underside, along with shattered fragments of hull plating and exterior sensors, and when the carrier turned its battered prow towards the centre of the caldera the Swarm host altered its course.
On the command deck, the Sergeant sweated and swore as he struggled to coax every last erg from protesting engines. Damage sustained during the atmospheric descent had left the carrier unable to make a safe landing on the caldera floor, hence the Colonel’s decision to continue in the hovermags. However, a safe landing was not what the Sergeant had in mind.
As the ship headed into the caldera, steadily gaining height, the groan of overloaded substructures came up through the deck. Even as he glanced at the glowing panels, red telltales started to flicker, warnings that some of the port suspensors were close to operational tolerance. But most of his attention was focused on the host of Swarmers now converging on the Earth vessel.
Suddenly the carrier was enfolded in a swirling cloud of the creatures, some of which landed on the hull, scrabbling for hold points, seeking entrance. Almost at the same time, two suspensors failed and the ship listed to port. The Sergeant boosted power to the port burners, ignoring the beeping alarms and the crashing, hammering sounds coming from somewhere amidships. The carrier straightened up as it reached the zenith of its trajectory, a huge missile that the Sergeant was aiming directly at the Swarm Hive.
Ten seconds into the dive the clangorous hammering came nearer, perhaps a hatch or two away from the command deck.
Twenty seconds into the dive, with the pitted, grey-brown spires of the Hive looming in the louvred viewport, the starboard aft burner blew. The Sergeant cut power to the port aft engine and boosted the starboard for’ard into the red.
Thirty seconds into the dive, amid the deafening cacophony of metallic hammering and the roar of the engines, the hatch to the command deck finally burst open. A grotesque creature that was half-wasp, half-alligator, struggled to squeeze through the gap. It froze for a second when it saw the structures of the Hive rushing up to meet the carrier head-on, then frantically reversed direction and was gone. The Sergeant tossed a thermite grenade after it and turned to face the view-port, arms spread wide, laughing…
Visible within its attendant cloud of Swarmers, the brigade carrier leaves a trail of leaking gases and fluids in its wake as it plummets towards the Hive complex. The perspective suddenly zooms out, showing much of the wreckage-strewn, battle-scarred caldera as the carrier impacts. For a moment there is only an outburst of debris from the collision, then three bright explosions in quick succession obscure the outlines of the hive…
In the first phase of the Battle of Mars, a number of purpose-built heavy boosters were used to send a flotilla of asteroids against the Swarm Armada, thus drawing key vessels away from Mars orbit. The main battle, and ground offensive, cost Earth over 400,000 dead and the loss of seventy-nine major warships as well as scores of support craft. This act of sacrifice did not destroy all the Overminds of the Swarm or deter them from their purpose. Yet vast stores of bioweapons, like the missiles that devastated cities in China, Europe and America, were destroyed along with several hatching chambers, thus halting the production of fresh Swarm warriors and delaying the expected assault on Earth.
That battle brought grief and sorrow to all of Humanity, yet it also bought us a breathing space, five crucial months during which the construction of three interstellar colony ships was completed, three out of the original fifteen. The last of them, the Tenebrosa, was launched from the high-orbit Poseidon Docks just four days ago, following its sister ships, the Hyperion and the Forrestal, on a trajectory away from the enemy’s main forces. All three vessels are fitted with a revolutionary new translight drive, allowing them to cross vast distances via the strange subreality of hyperspace. First to make the translight jump was the Hyperion, then two days later the Forrestal, and the Tenebrosa will be the last. Their journeys will be determined by custodian AIs programmed to evade pursuit with random course changes, and thereafter to search for Earthlike worlds suitable for colonisation.
And so they depart, three arks bearing Humanity’s hope for survival, three seeds of Earth flying out into the vast and starry night. Now we must turn our attention and all our strength to the onslaught that will soon be upon us. In twelve days, spearhead formations of the Swarm will land on the Moon and at once attack our civilian and military outposts there. We know what to expect. The Swarm’s strategy of slaughter and obliterate has never wavered, so we know that there will be no pity, no mercy and no quarter when, at last, they enter the skies above Earth.
Yet for all that the Swarm soldiers are regimented drones, their leaders, the Overminds, must themselves be sentient and able to learn, otherwise they would not have developed space travel. So if the Overminds can learn, let us be their teachers – let us teach them what it means to attack the cradle of Humanity…
END OF FILE…
Dusk was creeping in over the sea from the east as Greg Cameron walked Chel down to the zep station. The great mass of Giant’s Shoulder loomed on the right side of the path, its shadowy darkness speckled with the tiny blue glows of ineka beetles, while a fenced-off sheer drop fell away to the left. The sky was cloudless, laying bare the starmist which swirled for ever through the upper atmosphere of Darien. Tonight it was a soft purple tinged with threads of roseate, a restful, slow-shifting ghost sky.
But Greg knew that his companion was anything but restful. In the light of the pathway lamps, the Uvovo stalked along with head down and bony, four-fingered hands gripping the chest straps of his harness. They were a slender, diminutive race with a bony frame, and large amber eyes set in a small face. Glancing at him, Greg smiled.
‘Chel, don’t worry – you’ll be fine.’
The Uvovo looked up and seemed to think for a moment before his finely furred features broke into a wide smile.
‘Friend-Gregori,’ came his hollow, fluty voice. ‘Whether I ride in a dirigible or make the shuttle journey to our blessed Segrana, I am always amazed to discover myself alive at the end!’
They laughed together as they continued down the side of Giant’s Shoulder. It was a cool, clammy night and Greg wished he had worn something heavier than just a work shirt.
‘And you’ve still no idea why they’re holding this zinsilu at Ibsenskog?’ Greg said. For the Uvovo, a zinsilu was part life evaluation, part meditation. ‘I mean, the Listeners do have access to the government comnet if they need to contact any of the seeders and scholars…’ Then something occurred to him. ‘Here, they’re not going to reassign ye, are they? Chel, I won’t be able to manage both the dig and the daughter-forest reports on my own! – I really need your help.’
‘Do not worry, friend-Gregori,’ said the Uvovo. ‘Listener Weynl has always let it be known that my role here is considered very important. Once this zinsilu is concluded, I am sure that I will be returning without delay.’
I hope you’re right, Greg thought. The Institute isna very forgiving when it comes to shortcomings and unachieved goals.
‘After all,’ Chel went on, ‘your Founders’ Victory celebrations are only a few days away and I want to be here to observe all your ceremonies and rituals.’
Greg gave a wry half-grin. ‘Aye… well, some of our “rituals” can get a bit boisterous…’
By now the gravel path was levelling off as they approached the zep station and overhead Greg could hear the faint peeps of umisk lizards calling to each other from their little lairs scattered across the sheer face of Giant’s Shoulder. The station was little more than a buttressed platform with a couple of buildings and a five-yard-long covered gantry jutting straight out. A government dirigible was moored there, a gently swaying 50-footer consisting of two cylindrical gasbags lashed together with taut webbing and an enclosed gondola hanging beneath. The skin of the inflatable sections was made from a tough composite fabric, but exposure to the elements and a number of patch repairs gave it a ramshackle appearance, in common with most of the workaday government zeplins. A light glowed in the cockpit of the boatlike gondola, and the rear-facing, three-bladed propeller turned lazily in the steady breeze coming in from the sea.
Fredriksen, the station manager, waved from the waiting-room door while a man in a green and grey jumpsuit emerged from the gantry to meet them.
‘Good day, good day,’ he said, regarding first Greg then the Uvovo. ‘I am Pilot Yakov. If either of you is Scholar Cheluvahar, I am ready to depart.’
‘I am Scholar Cheluvahar,’ Chel said.
‘Most excellent. I shall start the engine.’ He nodded at Greg then went back to the gantry, ducking as he entered.
‘Mind to send a message when you reach Ibsenskog,’ Greg told Chel. ‘And don’t worry about the flight – it’ll be over before you know it…’
‘Ah, friend-Gregori – I am of the Warrior Uvovo. Such tests are breath and life itself!’
Then with a smile he turned and hurried after the pilot. A pure electric whine came from the gondola’s aft section, rising in pitch as the prop spun faster. Greg heard the solid knock of wooden gears as the station manager cranked in the gantry then triggered the mooring cable releases. Suddenly free upon the air, the dirigible swayed as it began drifting away, picking up speed and banking away from the sheer face of Giant’s Shoulder. The trip down to Port Gagarin was only a half-hour hop, after which Chel would catch a commercial lifter bound for the Eastern Towns and the daughter-forest Ibsenskog. Greg could not see his friend at any of the gondola’s opaque portholes but he waved anyway for about a minute, then just stood watching the zeplin’s descent into the deepening dusk. Feeling a chill in the air, he fastened some of his shirt buttons while continuing to enjoy the peace. The zep station was nearly 50 feet below the main dig site but it was still some 300 feet above sea level. Giant’s Shoulder itself was an imposing spur jutting eastwards from a towering massif known as the Kentigern Mountains, a raw wilderness largely avoided by trappers and hunters, although the Uvovo claimed to have explored a good deal of it.
As the zeplin’s running lamps receded, Greg took in the panorama before him, the coastal plain stretching several miles east to the darkening expanse of the Korzybski Sea and the lights of towns scattered all around its long western shore. Far off to the south was the bright glitterglow of Hammergard, sitting astride a land bridge separating Loch Morwen from the sea; beyond the city, hidden by the misty murk of evening, was a ragged coastline of sealochs and fjords where the Eastern Towns nestled. South of them were hills and a high valley cloaked by the daughter-forest Ibsenskog. Before his standpoint were the jewelled clusters of Port Gagarin, slightly to the south, High Lochiel a few miles northwest, and Landfall, where the cannibalised hulk of the old colonyship, the Hyperion, lay in the sad tranquillity of Membrance Vale. Then further north were New Kelso, Engerhold, Laika, and the logging and farmer settlements scattering north and west, while off past the northeast horizon was Trond.
His mood darkened. Trond was the city he had left just two short months ago, fleeing the trap of his disastrous cohabitance with Inga, a mistake whose wounds were still raw. But before his thoughts could begin circling the pain of it, he stood straighter and breathed in the cold air, determined not to dwell on bitterness and regret. Instead, he turned his gaze southwards to see the moonrise.
A curve of blue-green was gradually emerging from behind the jagged peaks of the Hrothgar Range which lined the horizon: Nivyesta, Darien’s lush arboreal moon, brimming with life and mystery, and home to the Uvovo, wardens of the girdling forest they called Segrana. Once, millennia ago, the greater part of their arboreal civilisation had inhabited Darien, which they called Umara, but some indeterminate catastrophe had wiped out the planetary population, leaving those on the moon alive but stranded.
On a clear night like this, the starmist in Darien’s upper atmosphere wreathed Nivyesta in a gauzy halo of mingling colours like some fabulous eye staring down on the little niche that humans had made for themselves on this alien world. It was a sight that never failed to raise his spirits. But the night was growing chilly now, so he buttoned his shirt to the neck and began retracing his steps. He was halfway up the path when his comm chimed. Digging it out of his shirt pocket he saw that it was his elder brother and decided to answer.
‘Hi, Ian – how’re ye doing?’ he said, walking on.
‘Not so bad. Just back from manoeuvres and looking forward to FV Day, chance to get a wee bit of R&R. Yourself?’
Greg smiled. Ian was a part-time soldier with the Darien Volunteer Corps and was never happier than when he was marching across miles of sodden bog or scaling basalt cliffs in the Hrothgars, apart from when he was home with his wife and daughter.
‘I’m settling in pretty well,’ he said. ‘Getting to grips with all the details of the job, making sure that the various teams file their reports on something like a regular schedule, that sort of thing.’
‘But are you happy staying at the temple site, Greg? – because you know that we’ve plenty of room here and I know that you loved living in Hammergard, before the whole Inga episode…’
‘Honest, Ian, I’m fine right here. I love my work, the surroundings are peaceful and the view is fantastic! I appreciate the offer, big brother, but I’m where I want to be.’
‘S’okay, laddie, just making sure. Have you heard from Ned since you got back, by the way?’
‘Just a brief letter, which is okay. He’s a busy doctor these days…’
Ned, the third and youngest brother, was very poor at keeping in touch, much to Ian’s annoyance, which often prompted Greg to defend him.
‘Aye, right, busy. So – when are we likely to see ye next? Can ye not come down for the celebrations?’
‘Sorry, Ian, I’m needed here, but I do have a meeting scheduled at the Uminsky Institute in a fortnight – shall we get together then?’
‘That sounds great. Let me know nearer the time and I’ll make arrangements.’
They both said farewell and hung up. Greg strolled leisurely on, smiling expectantly, keeping the comm in his hand. As he walked he thought about the dig site up on Giant’s Shoulder, the many hours he’d spent painstakingly uncovering this carven stela or that section of intricately tiled floor, not to mention the countless days devoted to cataloguing, dating, sample analysis and correlation matching. Sometimes – well, a lot of the time – it was a frustrating process, as there was nothing to guide them in comprehending the meaning of the site’s layout and function. Even the Uvovo scholars were at a loss, explaining that the working of stone was a skill lost at the time of the War of the Long Night, one of the darker episodes in Uvovo folklore.
Ten minutes later he was near the top of the path when his comm chimed again, and without looking at the display he brought it up and said:
‘Gregory, son, are you well?’
‘Mum, I’m fine, feeling okay and happy too, really…
’ ‘Yes, now that you’re out of her clutches! But are you not lonely up there amongst those cold stones and only the little Uvovo to talk to?’
Greg held back the urge to sigh. In a way, she was right – it was a secluded existence, living pretty much on his own in one of the site cabins. There was a three-man team of researchers from the university working on the site’s carvings, but they were all Russian and mostly kept to themselves, as did the Uvovo teams who came in from the outlying stations now and then. Some of the Uvovo scholars he knew by name but only Chel had become a friend.
‘A bit of solitude is just what I need right now, Mum. Beside, there’s always people coming and going up here.’
‘Mm-hmm. There were always people coming and going here at the house when your father was a councilman, but most of them I did not care for, as you might recall.’
‘Oh, I remember, all right.’
Greg also remembered which ones stayed loyal when his father fell ill with the tumour that eventually killed him.
‘As a matter of fact, I was discussing both you and your father with your Uncle Theodor, who came by this afternoon.’
Greg raised his eyebrows. Theodor Karlsson was his mother’s oldest brother and had earned himself a certain notoriety and the nickname ‘Black Theo’ for his role in the abortive Winter Coup twenty years ago. As a punishment he had been kept under house arrest on New Kelso for twelve years, during which he fished, studied military history and wrote, although on his release the Hammergard government informed him that he was forbidden to publish anything, fact or fiction, on pain of bail suspension. For the last eight years he had tried his hand at a variety of jobs, while keeping in occasional contact with his sister, and Greg vaguely recalled that he had somehow got involved with the Hyperion Data Project…
‘So what’s Uncle Theo been saying?’
‘Well, he has heard some news that will amaze you – I can still scarcely believe it myself. It is going to change everyone’s life.’
‘Don’t tell me that he wants to overthrow the government again.’
‘Please, Gregori, that is not even slightly funny…’
‘Sorry, Mum, sorry. Please, what did he say?’
From where he stood at the head of the path he had a clear view of the dig, the square central building looking bleached and grey in the glare of the nightlamps. As Greg listened his expression went from puzzled to astonished, and he let out an elated laugh as he looked up at the stars. Then he got his mother to tell him again.
‘Mum, you’ve got to be kidding me!…’
Theodor Karlsson had a spring in his step as he walked up a private footpath towards the presidential villa. Tall, thick bushes concealed it from inquisitive eyes, and waist-high lantern posts shed pools of subdued radiance all along its length. His long, heavy coat was three-quarters fastened and his custom-soled shoes made little noise on the tiled path. The villa grounds were dark and still in the cool of the evening but Karlsson could almost smell the weave of seamless security which enclosed the place. There was a visible perimeter of patrols and cameras down at the main wall and gate, and a pair of guards at the side-door up ahead, but Theo knew that the best security was seldom seen. The question that loomed large in his mind, however, was who was it all meant to keep out?
The guards, both wearing dark imager eye-pieces, were muttering into collar mikes as he approached.
‘Good evening, Major,’ said one. ‘If you could look into the scanner with your right eye.’
He stepped up to the plain wooden door, followed instructions, and moments later he heard several muffled thuds. The door swung open. Inside he was met by a composed, middle-aged woman who took his coat then led him along a narrow, windowless corridor, past a number of bland, pastoral paintings, then up a poorly lit curve of steps to a landing with two doors. Without pause she continued through the left one and Karlsson found himself in a warm, carpeted study.
‘Please make yourself comfortable, Major Karlsson. The president will see you shortly.’
‘Thank you…’ Theo began to say, but she was already leaving the room, closing the door behind her. He surveyed his surroundings, a medium-sized room with well-stocked bookshelves, a log fire burning in the hearth, and an ornate adjustable lamp hanging over a large desk. A ceiling-high rack of shelves partially concealed a second door in one corner and a hand-eye security lock.
The belly of the beast, he thought. Or maybe the lion’s den.
It always felt like this whenever he had these meetings with Sundstrom, no matter where they took place. Which was why he had got into the habit of visiting his sister, Solvjeg, shortly beforehand, just to quietly let her know where he would be for the next few hours, with a veiled hint as to whom he was meeting. Today, though, she was full of eagerness to know if the rumours were true, that there had been a signal from Earth.
Theo grinned, recalling the moment. The message had apparently been received that morning, yet he had heard it sixth-hand from an old friend in the Corps by mid-afternoon, so it was no surprise that Solvjeg picked it up from the old girls’ network. Now it was evening and the rumours were all over the colony. Even Kirkland, the leader of the opposition, had issued a statement, but so far there had been no official confirmation from either the council or the president’s office.
A ship from Earth! he thought. So now we know that the human race survived the Swarm War, but did we beat them or did other survivors flee from Earth? And what happened to the other two colonyships, the Forrestal and the Tenebrosa?
His mind was a ferment of questions, the outcome of a year and a half of unpaid work at the Hyperion Data Project. It had been his own soldiering experience that had led to helping one of the supervisors with the transcription of a military treatise in Swedish. It turned out to be a Swedish translation of On War by the Prussian Von Clausewitz, a book that Theo had only ever read references to. Engrossed in the steady work of extracting it from the Hyperion’s reams of raw text, and having to guess where the paragraphs began, he had become fascinated with the Hyperion and her sister ships, including the ones that were never launched…
The door behind the shelves in the corner opened and the president entered, his wheelchair pushed by a young man in a brown and grey onepiece.
‘Evening, Theodor,’ Sundstrom said, dismissing the attendant then dextrously propelling himself across the room to stop behind his desk.
‘Good evening, Holger,’ Theo said. ‘Interesting study you have, some nice books too.’ He indicated a glass-fronted cabinet. ‘Is that the Serov edition of Nineteen Eighty-four over there?’
‘Yes, it is,’ said Sundstrom. ‘Collins’s Moonstone is rarer, of course, but Orwell is much more of a pol
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