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9780553587265

Cause Of Death
Cause Of Death
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  • ISBN-13: 9780553587265
  • ISBN: 0553587269
  • Publication Date:
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

AUTHOR

SUMMARY

ONE*Flight The shot struck the ground about twenty meters downhill from Georg, throwing up a flash of lurid yellow light against the night sky. Georg Hertzmann threw himself to the ground. Rock shrapnel and clumps of dust and dirt dropped out of the sky all around him for an unreasonably long time after the explosion. Georg remained motionless where he was until the last of the debris had fallen back. "You can get up and start moving now, if you wish," said a small voice in his headphones. "Their shots are becoming increasingly inaccurate. I believe they have lost their lock on your position and are firing blind, by guesswork." Georg replied in a low whisper, trusting his throat mike to feed an audible signal to his breast pocket, where the voice was coming from. "Then they're awfully good guessers. Those shots are close." "But they didn't hit you with any of them--even when they had a tracking lock on you. I believe they are not trying to kill you--merely frighten you." "And they're doing a good job of it." After a moment's silence, he spoke again. "Just how confident are you about all this?" After a pause for consideration, the voice spoke again. "About seventy-five percent that they have lost lock, eighty percent that they are just trying to scare you." "Which gives me twenty percent odds that they are really trying to kill me. If I show myself and they get a new lock, I could find out the hard way." "Granted," said the little voice. "But you cannot stay where you are indefinitely. If you do so, and they are not merely trying for capture, you will likely be killed, to the great inconvenience of our mutual endeavor." Georg sighed. "I know things are different for Stannlar, but do bear in mind: if I get killed, it will be more than inconvenient. It will be permanent failure--not just for our work, but for me." Killing Cinnabex, or any Stannlar Consortium, and doing the job thoroughly, permanently, destroying all the backups, beyond hope of reassembly or revival, would represent something like a major industrial research effort. "Your point is taken. My apologies. But the point remains that you cannot stay here." "I know, I know. Let me think." He decided to risk rolling over on his side, in hopes of seeing more than the clump of dirt into which his nose was wedged. He moved as slowly as he could, cursing silently with every little spill of dirt and gravel that tumbled off him. The object in his breast pocket had been cutting into his chest a bit, and it felt good to get up off it. Besides, quite irrationally, he felt guilty about dropping his full weight on it, as if so doing might inconvenience the passenger inside. The object was a silvery alloy disc with rounded edges, widening toward the center, looking for all the worlds like a miniature flying saucer out of the old-time pre-space paranoid urban folklore stories. In a sense, that was exactly what it was--except there was no little green man inside. Just a purple starfish. Georg patted the disc affectionately. That purple starfish--and all the rest of Cinnabex--had been a good and loyal friend. Georg considered himself massively lucky that Cinnabex and her split-clone Allabex believed it a worthy use of their time to deal with anything as insignificant as human beings. Though, of course, right at the moment, "lucky" didn't seem a good description of his situation. What were the Pavlat security officers trying to do, exactly? Kill him? Catch him? Chase him off? Whichever it was, how good were they at this sort of work? This was, in a sense, their home ground, and that might count for a lot--or not. They were city folk, and likely to be even more reliant on technology to help track him than he was in attempting to escape.[read more]

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