Morn, her alien-grown son Davies, geneticist/engineer Vector Sheed, competent Mikka, and her cabin-boy brother Ciro wait aboard Trumpet. Angus lies unconscious, possibly in permanent stasis. Ciro plots to destroy the ship, driven insane by the knowledge that alien mutagens have been shot into him by Nick Succorso's sworn enemy, Sorus Chatelaine. Following nearby, Min Donner, faithful head of the UMCP Executive Division, watches the action and grits her teeth aboard Captain Dolph's battle-fatigued Punisher. Will Morn trust her? Will her voice commands over Angus's programming prevail? Who has survived the strange journey and battles since leaving the Lab? Back at United Mining headquarters, the Dragon and UMCP Chief Warden Dios's strange, twisted duel of manipulation, assassination, and corruption comes to a head when an Amnion warship sets course for Earth... and that's just the first few pages.
Get set for more of the action, betrayal, characterizataion, intrigue, corruption, and adventure you've enjoyed in the previous Gap books. If it has been a few years since you read the last installment, you may have trouble remembering some names and particularly insidious points of plot and government intrigue; you may even be tempted to reread the preceding books. Also troubling is Angus's continual rumination of a couple phrases, including "We've committed a crime against your soul" and "It's got to stop." However, you may be reading so fast you won't notice. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
From the Publisher
The countdown has begun. The battleworn crew of Trumpet is in disarray, as they attempt to pursue the pirate ship Soar and her captain Sorus Chatelaine. With one crew member infected by the Amnion and another stranded in the vacuum of space, all their hopes lie with Angus Thermopyle, once a bloodthirsty pirate, now a cyborg working against his will for the United Mining Companies Police--the strongest, most rapacious force in all of human space. As Angus, Morn Hyland, and her force-grown son Davies race for home across the vast reaches of forbidden space, they have no way of knowing that the final confrontation between Warden Dios and The Dragon has begun. Or that the fate of all humankind hangs in the balance. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
He wasn't trying to avoid another confrontation with the man who had outplayed and, in a strange, piquant sense, shamed him. On the contrary, he felt remarkably sanguine about the prospect of talking to the UMCP director. He simply made no effort to bring about a conversation himself. He assumed that Warden Dios was perfectly capable of recognizing an emergency when he saw it--and that he wouldn't hesitate to summon Hashi when he wished to speak to his DA director.
A kaze had attacked the Governing Council for Earth and Space in extraordinary session, apparently intending to exterminate Cleatus Fane, the First Executive Assistant of the United Mining Companies. Only Hashi's personal intervention had prevented serious--not to say embarrassing--bloodshed. And as a direct result of the attack the GCES had voted to reject Captain Sixten Vertigus' Bill of Severance. Indeed, the Members had been stampeded into clinging to the status quo for their lives; to Holt Fasner and the UMCP. None of them had wanted to take on the responsibility for their own safety--and certainly not for the safety of human space.
If Warden didn't call this an emergency, he must have lost all contact with the world of factual reality. Or else his game was deeper than anything Hashi had dared to imagine. Perhaps it was deeper than he could imagine.
Neither prospect offered reassurance. On the whole, however, Hashi preferred the latter. That which he found impenetrable today might well appear transparent tomorrow. And he could always push himself to expand his own capacities. The challenge might conceivably be good for him. In the meantime he could endure the shame of being outplayed.
But if Warden Dios had lost his grasp on events--
From that fount endless disasters might spring.
This was all speculation, of course. Still Hashi wondered--and worried. The quantum mechanics of his conundrum remained as Heisenberg had defined them. By his own efforts he had taken hold of events in flux in order to name them accurately; establish them in their positions. Therefore he was prevented from knowing where those events tended. Certainty precluded certainty.
He chose not to report to Warden on his own initiative because he wanted to know how long Warden would wait before summoning him. That interval would reveal more surely than words the extent to which Warden had been taken by surprise.
In any case the DA director still had plenty of work to do in order to ready himself for Warden's summons; to confirm and solidify what he'd learned on Suka Bator. No one would criticize him for spending every available moment on an effort to be sure of his facts.
Using a tight-beam transmission coded exclusively for Data Acquisition, he'd begun speaking to Lane Harbinger as soon as the UMCP shuttle had left the GCES island and broken free of Earth's gravity well; supplying her with preliminary data; preparing her for the research he required. He felt some discomfort as he did so because he wasn't alone on the shuttle. Protocol Director Koina Hannish rode with him, accompanied by her retinue of aides and techs. And UMCPED Chief of Security Mandich was also aboard: he was on his way to explain his failures to Warden Dios, since his immediate superior, Min Donner, was absent from UMCPHQ. He'd left Deputy Chief Forrest Ing in charge of Security's version of "martial law" on Suka Bator.
At the best of times Hashi disliked being overheard--unless he had some use for his eavesdropper. But his present circumstances didn't supply privacy, or justify delay. He owed Warden restitution for his earlier mistakes. Instead of waiting for the shuttle to reach UMCPHQ, he kept his exchanges with Lane as brief as possible; and when he spoke, he employed the impermeable jargon of DA to disguise what he was saying.
To all appearances Koina ignored him completely. No doubt she had more than enough to occupy her contemplations. Although she was new to her duties, she'd acquitted herself admirably during the extraordinary session. And she had reason to be grateful to Captain Vertigus, despite the failure of his proposed legislation. On the other hand, Hashi deemed that most of her thoughts were more troubled. He knew her well enough to suspect that she feared her performance before the Council may have triggered or catalyzed the kaze's attack. For her it must have been easy to believe that the men who'd sent a kaze against the GCES would not have felt compelled to go so far if they hadn't been surprised or frightened by her declaration of the UMCP's neutrality in the debate over a Bill of Severance; her declaration of Warden Dios' independence from Holt Fasner.
Hashi knew better. Earlier he'd been uncertain: now he was sure. Her performance may in fact have been a catalyst. Nevertheless it was essentially incidental. The men responsible for Clay Imposs nÚ Nathan Alt could not have known that Sixten Vertigus, Senior Member for the United Western Bloc, would introduce a Bill of Severance. In addition, Imposs/Alt had been moving past Captain Vertigus toward Cleatus Fane when Hashi had accosted him. Therefore Captain Vertigus wasn't the intended target. The motivations behind the kaze's attack operated independently of the UWB Senior Member and his bill, as well as of Warden Dios' neutrality.
Hashi said nothing to reassure Koina. She hadn't asked for anything of the kind. And she would hear what he'd learned soon enough.
In contrast Chief Mandich studied Hashi narrowly while he spoke to Lane. Clearly Mandich was waiting for a chance to talk to the DA director.
A pox on the man, Hashi thought with unwonted vexation. The Chief of Security's rectitude was as ironclad as Min Donner's, but he lacked her flexibility of intelligence, her capacity to acknowledge concepts which violated her personal reality. For example, Hashi didn't doubt that if Mandich were suddenly exalted to the position of UMCP director, the man wouldn't hesitate to fire Hashi for having done things which disturbed the Chief's scruples. Min Donner, on the other hand, might well retain Hashi in DA, even though she knew far more about his actions and policies, and therefore had experienced far more outrage to her peculiar sense of honor.
Still Hashi did nothing to fend off Chief Mandich. Instead he made himself accessible as soon as he'd finished his interchange with Lane.
The Chief took the opportunity to move to a g-seat beside Hashi, belt himself down. "Director Lebwohl," he began without preamble, "I need to know how you knew that man was a kaze."
Hashi's blue eyes glittered dangerously behind his smeared lenses. "Do you?" he countered in a tone of false amiability. No doubt Mandich meant, How were you able to spot him when we couldn't?
"I do." Chief Mandich was a blunt man with a blunt face; stolid as bone. His nearly colorless gaze had the dull tenacity of a pit bull's. "And then I need to know why you didn't do anything to stop him sooner."
"Something about him made you suspicious. You left your seat and moved around the hall specifically so that you could get close to him. But you didn't say anything." Mandich spoke with undisguised bitterness. He hated his own failures. "We're just lucky nobody in the hall was killed. If you'd bothered to warn us, a GCES Security guard would still be alive. Ensign Crender would still have his left hand.
"With respect, Director Lebwohl," he sneered, "what the hell did you think you were doing?"
A tremor ran along Hashi's frame. His own reaction to the danger and indignity of the past few hours seemed to shrill inside him. "Very well." He folded his thin hands in his lap to conceal their indignation. "You answer my questions, and I will answer yours.
"To use your phrase, Chief Mandich, what the hell did you think you were doing when you assigned a whelp like Ensign Crender to take my orders?"
Mandich's eyes widened.
Wheezing sharply, Hashi sent his words like wasps into the Chief's blunt face. "I made my needs known explicitly to Deputy Chief Ing. I informed him that I desired him and his men to stand ready to carry out my requests and instructions.
"He replied that he could not comply without consulting you.
"I did not consider that adequate. `If I ask you to "do something," I will need it done without the delay of applying to your chief for permission.' Those were my exact words. I told him plainly that I did not know what to expect, but that I wished to be prepared for whatever might transpire.
"Still he hesitated. I answered, `Then kindly inform Chief Mandich that I require him to assign personnel to me who have been given his authorization to do what I tell them.' Again those are my exact words.
"Director Hannish supported my wishes."
Obliquely Hashi observed that Koina was staring at him, her lips slightly parted in surprise. It was probable that in the years she'd worked with him she'd never heard him sound so angry.
An undignified flush stained Chief Mandich's neck, mottled his cheeks with his own anger. He opened his mouth to deliver a retort. But Hashi wasn't done. He didn't give the Chief a chance to speak.
"How did you respond?" he went on harshly. "By assigning to me a boy so untried that he was unable to react without hesitation--hesitation which could well have resulted in murder in the meeting hall of the Governing Council for Earth and Space.
"True, he mastered his hesitation. He took the action necessary to save lives. For that I honor him."
"But I do not honor you, Chief Mandich." If Hashi hadn't controlled his hands, they would have flown like stings at the Chief's eyes. "I am the United Mining Companies Police Director of Data Acquisition, and you did not take...