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Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling 12) - Page 10


Track down the individual responsible and make an example of him or her.

Aden and the Arrows had aligned themselves with Krychek, but it was understood that they would not blindly follow his orders. The members of the squad had learned their lesson after their experience at the hands of Ming LeBon, understood that loyalty was a coin easily spent outside their own. It was only because of Kaleb’s track record of never turning on those who had offered him their loyalty that they had chosen to work with him. Trust was a different matter.

This particular order, however, didn’t require much thought. I’m already working on it. Aden had no ethical problem with assassinating the traitor in a bloody, public way that would make the consequences of betrayal clear, not when one of the murdered anchors proved to have lived a hundred meters from a nursery school used by Psy parents. All of those children had been connected to the PsyNet in the region that had imploded. All of those children were dead.

PSYNET BEACON: BREAKING NEWS

*PsyNet collapse in Perth, Australia, caused by attack on local anchor network. Pure Psy claims responsibility.

Eight thousand confirmed fatalities and rising. Councilor Kaleb Krychek able to seal the breach, allowing anchors from nearby regions to buttress the weakened section.

DO NOT VENTURE INTO COLLAPSE ZONE. REPEAT. DO NOT VENTURE INTO COLLAPSE ZONE.

ANCHOR NETWORK IS STRETCHED THIN AND CANNOT SUPPORT ADDITIONAL MINDS.

This feed will continue to be updated as further news becomes available.*

PSYNET BEACON: CURRENT EDITION

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

I write in regard to your correspondent’s recent extended essay in relation to the violence in California. I have been a supporter of Pure Psy since it was first formed. I believe Silence is the reason for the survival of our race and that without it, we would’ve long sunk into murderous depravity.

However, I now find myself conflicted. I agree with your correspondent’s argument that violence such as that mounted by Pure Psy against the changelings runs counter to the aim of Purity espoused by the group and is in direct violation of the founding tenets of Silence.

It has left me in a position where I do not know if I am any longer a supporter of Pure Psy. I remain very much a proponent of the truth that Silence is the reason for the survival of our race.

Yours sincerely,

Name withheld by request

(Prague)

Your correspondent’s reporting was extremely biased in pitching the battle as being against the changelings.

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The truth, as every intelligent mind in the Net realizes, is that the violence was unfortunately mandated by the coterie of defectors in the region who act as agitators in attracting and encouraging others to break conditioning. This cannot be permitted to continue, and I, for one, am in full support of Pure Psy’s actions in this regard.

E. Miller

(Mexico City)

I would like to congratulate you on your continuing unflinching and critical coverage of recent events. Pure Psy’s intimidation tactics are now a matter of public record, and it is to your correspondent’s credit that he did not give in to such threats—threats that, as he says, strike at the very heart of the protocol Pure Psy says it seeks to uphold.

C. Prasad

(Nairobi)

Chapter 5

KALEB’S THOUGHTS TOOK an instant to normalize when he returned to his body. It was a predictable result of the amount of power he’d expended to seal the breach while continuing to function on a basic level in Moscow—to the point where he was never vulnerable to a physical or psychic attack.

Blinking to clear dry eyes, he reached for the glass of water beside his hand, the glass positioned beside several nutrition bars. None of it had been on the table when he entered the Net. “Thank you,” he said and began to methodically eat his way through the tasteless items of food, his energy levels already nearly back to peak efficiency. Most Psy couldn’t recover as quickly, but Kaleb had long been aware that he wasn’t “normal” in any way, his DNA holding a thousand secrets.

Finishing the third nutrition bar, he looked across at the woman for whom he might yet cause a massacre that’d make today look like the merest incident. And saw that she’d changed in a fundamental way—her back was no longer bent, her head no longer ducked. Rather, she sat straight up, her hair tucked behind her ears, the dark blue of her eyes focused on him with a vivid intelligence that had always tested his own.

If he hadn’t had such granite control over his body and mind, his heartbeat might’ve accelerated, his breathing might have turned ragged. She was coming back. “The labyrinth,” he said through the primal scream inside him, “you’ve navigated it?”

“There was no need. It has dissolved.”

Her response was unexpected—the mind he’d glimpsed during teleport had been so chaotic a mess that it seemed impossible the strands had untangled themselves. “Have you regained your memories and abilities?” Do you remember?

“My abilities, yes. The entirety of my memories, no.” She folded her arms on the table and he saw again how thin they were, how fragile her body.

Rising, he mixed up a nutrient drink flavored with her favorite, cherry. She accepted it and took a sip. Eyes widening, she took another. “Cherry.” A sigh heavy with pleasure. “Thank you.”

He gave a curt nod before retaking his seat.

“The duration of the labyrinth,” she said, her voice still husky from disuse, “may have caused permanent damage to my memory centers. I was very young when I created it, not yet fully trained, and the construction was rough.”

Sixteen. That’s how old she’d been when she had disappeared. “What is your name?” he asked, every cell in his body motionless as he waited for her answer, waited to see how much of her had come back.

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