Jo Clayton: Shadowkill

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Jo Clayton Shadowkill
  • Название:
    Shadowkill
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  • Жанр:
    Боевая фантастика / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Shadowkill: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Jo Clayton


Shadowkill

Prolog

1

Shadith woke in the hold of a ship.

She was lying on a pallet, canvas, something like that. Naked. Half frozen.

Sometime before… while she was out… she’d been beaten… raped… brutally… she was torn, septic, she could feel the heat of the infections, the blood oozing from the wounds.

She lay in filth and stench, she hadn’t been catheterized, just left where they threw her.

She’d been fed, watered, there were tubes taped to her face, running into her nose.

They wanted her alive, but broken.

They. Who?

Ginny?

She shifted position slightly, felt feces squishing under her.

When she had her stomach in order, she looked around. Stasis pods, dozens of them, hundreds, all around her. She reached.

The lifesparks in those pods were dim; most of them she couldn’t recognize, but Rohant was there, nearest her. Azram. Tolmant. Nezrakam. Kinefray. Tejnar. Ginny.

Ginny?

She looked more closely at the strangers, picked up a faintly familiar “smell,” connected it to one of those clients she’d watched glide past her when she was in that corridor.

Ginny and his clients. Prisoners?

What’s happening here?

Prisoners or passengers?

Ginny wouldn’t tolerate stasistime. I know him. This isn’t his ship. He wouldn’t go anywhere on someone else’s ship. I know him.

Prisoner. It has to be prisoner.

Who?

Never mind. Time for that later.

Her hands were fettered, but she had a little play in the filament that joined the cuffs.

Her feet were free.

She rolled off the pallet, used her feet to push it aside, then drew herself up so her hands were close to her nose. She pulled the tubes free.

It was painful, sickening, but she got them out. She used the water tube to wash herself.

It took a long time, but she managed to get her body reasonably clean.

She was cold, half frozen, the chill from the metal she lay on struck up through her flesh into her bones, but she was clean.

Using her feet, she got the pallet turned over, the bottom side was filthy and stained, but hospital hygienic compared to the mess she’d been lying in.

She clamped her teeth on the water tube, used her feet and knees to find the food drip and maneuver it into her mouth, then she slid the pallet over and stretched out on it. It was warmer and softer than the floor, not much but enough. She sucked on the food tube and began to feel almost human.

Kikun, she thought suddenly. I didn’t touch him. Or Rose. Dead? Or what?

She went painstakingly around the hold once more, touching each of the lifesparks. They were all there, except Lissorn who was dead. Ginny was there. His clients. And this time she located Ajeri the Pilot. All there but Kikun. And Autumn Rose.

He slipped them.

Clever little lizard. Took Rose with him. I hope. Unless she’s as dead as Lissorn.

He’ll come after us, I know it. Yes.

All right.

They mean to break me any way they can.

Let them try.

2

She lay and listened, using the ears and eyes of spiders and other small vermin.

She lay and thought.

Slowly, carefully she began building THE PLACE THAT COULD NOT BE TOUCHED.

Slowly, carefully she withdrew HERSELF within THE PLACE, pulling memory and everything else vital to who she was inside the armor she’d built to protect herself from the interrogators that waited for her.

Mindwipe waited for her, where her memories would be evoked then unreeled and dissolved. A competent tech could strip a mind clean in a few hours, yet leave the organic machine intact, the basic intelligence unmarred-or mostly so-ready for reprogramming and resale.

COME COME, SEE THE FINE BARGAIN. ONE FLESH MACHINE, FEMALE, FRESH FROM THE USED BODY SHOP.

She hid from the Probe and dreamed another life for herself, leaving it for THEM to find.

Yes, you creeps, you’ve got the body, but that’s all you’ll get. Break me, will you? You can try, then you watch your asses, they’re mine.

She set the wake-trigger, (KIKUN: See Kikun and Know Again) then she closed the last gap in the wall of THE PLACE and slept.

Chase: Autumn Rose And Kikun Break Free And Start The Long Trek After The Fiends Who’ve Taken Their Friends

1

A faint sting. Then PAIN!

Autumn Rose came swimming out of fog into a prickly awareness that she was in deep shit and there wasn’t much she could do about it.

A hand dropped on her mouth.

Her eyes cleared and she saw Kikun’s face, shining orange eyes ringed with white. He was in a panic, but controlling it.

He brought his head down near hers, whispered, “Can you walk?” Despite his caution the whisper hit the walls and the vaulted ceiling and came back to her as muted clicks and hollow oos, melding uncomfortably with the scrape of his boots, the clatter of something against metal.

Her face went hot and tight. She’d stunned her own foot trying to get a guard, it was such a stupid thing… She didn’t bother answering him, just concentrated on seeing if she could move her toes; her boots knocked against the hard floor covering, her pants leg brushed heavily over the thick black cloth of the robe she wore, the sounds multiplied by that goertafl’cht echo chamber, startling her, giving her an adrenal jolt that helped clear some of the fug from her head.

Right foot, fine. Left leg below the knee might as well be a block of wood. She bent her left knee, sighed with relief. As long as she had the knee, the rest didn’t matter. She pushed his hand off her mouth. “Can’t run races,” she muttered at him, “but I can get it going. What…”

“Not now.” He straightened, stepped back, stumbled over the body of a dead guard, caught himself, shivering at the noises his feet made.

She rolled onto her knees, thrust her hand at him. “Help me.”

He eased his shoulder under her arm and pushed up. Small-boned and shorter than Rose, with the racy leanness of a garden lizard, he didn’t look as if he could lift an undersize cat, but she came off that floor so much faster than she expected, she nearly went over on her face.

He got her limping along as fast as she could manage and guided her through the guards’ bodies, across the anteroom, and into the shiny tarted-up corridor beyond.

She helped as much as she could; what she’d seen before she went down was coming back to her, giving her cramps in her stomach and a powerful urge to get the hell out of there.


Stun rifle held with deceptive casualness under his right arm (where he could get it up and working in half a breath) the merc strolled toward them. “Now, friends, you know better. The room’s not ready yet, just turn yourself around and come back tomorrow.”

Shadith yelled and shot him.

The Dyslaerors shot before her yell died out and the other mercs went down.

An alarm started yelping.

The instant Shadow yelled, Azram got his arms around one of the metal benches and charged the opening, getting there before the metal doors could slide shut: he dropped the bench on the slide tracks and went plunging through as the doors kept trying to shut, whining and slamming repeatedly at the bench. Shadow jumped the dead and went running after him. Lissorn went screaming past her, tearing off his cowl, clawing out of the robe. He’d forgotten everything but Ginny.

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