Authors: Kristine Kathryn Rusch
She was nearly done with her task, and with her shift.
And then she could pretend that this horrible day never ever happened.
LUC DESHIN SLAMMED his hand on the lists covering the top of his desk. The lists, nothing more than holograms, split apart into a thousand pieces. When he lifted his fist, the pieces reassembled.
He stood up and turned his back on his entire office.
Just before the second attack on the Moon a week ago, Deshin had met with the Retrieval Artist Miles Flint at the offices of their mutual attorney, Celestine Gonzalez. Deshin had several reasons for meeting with Flint.
The authorities weren’t solving the Anniversary Day attacks. From what Deshin could tell, through his usual monitoring of law enforcement, the authorities hadn’t a clue about anything. They were going in circles, if they were doing any work at all.
Deshin walked over to the floor-to-ceiling windows in his office. The office had a 360-degree view of the entire city. Armstrong had been lucky on Anniversary Day: the city had lost its mayor, but little else. Nineteen other domes had been attacked, and twelve had had holes blown through them.
Millions of people had died.
had nearly died, since he had been at a meeting in Yutu City. He’d lost friends and colleagues and security staff—more people than he cared to think about.
Had the attack in Armstrong succeeded, he might have lost his beloved wife Gerda and his amazing son Paavo. And Deshin wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it.
He had been too far away.
So he had started to investigate immediately after the attacks, and discovered a hell of a lot more than the so-called authorities had. And what he had discovered unnerved him.
He met with Flint because he liked the man and Flint had done him a good turn a while back, actually saving Deshin’s family by getting rid of a personal threat.
No matter what Flint thought of Deshin (and Flint made it clear he didn’t really like Deshin at all), Deshin respected the hell out of Flint.
That respect got confirmed just last week. All of Deshin’s sources confirmed that Flint had helped the Moon’s Security Chief, Noelle DeRicci, thwart the second attack—by a group of Peyti lawyers who had been undercover on the Moon for decades. Those lawyers, also clones like the Anniversary Day attackers, had been designed as suicide bombers. They activated on the same day, and would have destroyed another million lives and domes and everything else.
It was enough to make even the most dug-in businessman want to move off Moon. Only Deshin didn’t know any place safer, especially if whoever was masterminding the attacks wasn’t aiming at the Moon, but at the Earth Alliance itself.
He blinked and made himself look at the city. He loved this place. Cranes still rose from the area around the first bombing, four years before Anniversary Day, almost hiding the neighborhood housing Dome University. Beyond that was the former slum where he had grown up and where he later invested a fortune buying ancient real estate and turning it into housing for young professionals.
That hadn’t even been his first fortune. He had money in dicey places, and he dealt with a lot of shady types.
Hell, he was a shady type, although he’d been trying to clean up his act since he and Gerda adopted Paavo. But some acts weren’t so easy to clean. He still had—and used—a lot of connections that he was certain the Armstrong Police Department (the Pre-Anniversary Day Armstrong Police Department, anyway) would have loved to confirm.
He turned slightly, saw the glinting roofs of the homes in his neighborhood. They looked lovely in the slightly red tinge of Dome Daylight which was designed to look like early morning on Earth.
The area where he had made his home wasn’t one of those ostentatious upscale neighborhoods that lawyers and politicians and the “upwardly mobile” folks preferred. Nor had he gone for the hectares of land that people like Bernard Magalhães used to show off their wealth.
The Moon was full of empty land; Deshin didn’t need to buy large swaths of it to prove he had money. He knew he had money. No one else needed to.
Fortunately, Gerda agreed with him. She hated people who flaunted their wealth. She liked being comfortable. When she spent money, she spent it on things that added to the comfort inside the home rather than impressing anyone who looked at the place from the outside.
Or she spent money on their son. Paavo already had the finest education anyone could buy on the Moon—if only the schools were still open.
Deshin was clenching his fists so tightly that his hands ached. He made himself let go, one finger at a time.
People had died at Paavo’s school in the second attack. The order that had come from the United Domes of the Moon Security Office had subjected anyone in the room with a Peyti lawyer to an instant switch to Peyla’s environment—which was hostile to humans.
A lot of humans died last week because the bombs the lawyers were wearing only exploded in an Earthlike environment. When the environmental systems shifted, the bombs stopped working.
Millions of lives saved—at the price of thousands.
Deshin understood it. He knew how those calculations worked.
But the events had revived his son’s nightmares, just after Paavo was starting to get past the traumas inflicted on him by his biological parents.
And those attacks—the deaths in the Armstrong Wing of the Aristotle Academy—could have been so much worse, if that little conference room where the Peyti lawyers and the human clients hadn’t been shut off from the rest of the school.
Deshin had laid awake nights, imagining how horribly his son might have died.
Deshin didn’t care if he died, but he didn’t want his son to die. Paavo wasn’t even ten yet. He hadn’t even started to live.
And Deshin would do anything to ensure his kid’s future.
Deshin returned to his desk. The holographic images of the lists that Flint had sent him still hovered in front of Deshin’s chair.
The damn things were useless.
He had asked Flint for lists of the explosives used in the Anniversary Day attacks, thinking—hoping—
that those lists would have some secret on them, some clue that Deshin would see that the authorities missed.
But Flint had told Deshin last week that the explosives used all across the Moon on Anniversary Day were different, depending on location. Some of the perpetrators used a mix of explosives, others used what was on hand.
And the thwarted attack here in Armstrong would have used some rigged ships in quarantine in the Port, which would have destroyed all access to the Moon for large ships.
Deshin had hoped for more. He had
When he followed the trail left by the zoodeh, the stuff the assassins used to kill various Moon mayors and the governor-general on that same day, he had discovered something chilling.
Most of the zoodeh hadn’t come from quarantined ships like the authorities believed, but had already been on the Moon when the zoodeh had joined the list of banned substances.
The traders in zoodeh and similar weapons had sold their zoodeh to the Anniversary Day killers the week or so before the attacks.
And then those traders—to a person—had been murdered.
Deshin poked a finger through the floating holograms of lists and lists and more lists.
The authorities hadn’t known about the murders and hadn’t tied that loose end together. Last week, Deshin had told Flint to look into it all and hoped that Flint would encourage the Security Chief to start investigating the zoodeh suppliers and the deaths. Because Deshin was sure there was some kind of lead there, but nothing he could pursue without calling attention to himself.
He had expected the lists of explosives to provide the same revelations. But the past five months had turned into one frustrating dead end after another. No trail of murders here, no easily findable link to the Anniversary Day killers.
Just a lot of missing explosives—and not recently missing either. So many explosives had gone missing five years before, when the regulations were looser. Every human household on the Moon could have a tonne of explosives and still hundreds of kilotonnes of missing explosives would been left over.
The very thought chilled him.
And none of that counted all the illegal weapons quarantined in the Port of Armstrong.
What Deshin knew and what he could prove were different. That was why he wanted Flint on board with some of this investigation.
What scared Deshin, though (and until this year, damn near nothing scared Deshin) was this: everything he had found in his post Anniversary Day investigation—
showed intimate knowledge of the way that the Moon worked, not just in its governmental systems, but also its underworld.
The breadth of information needed to figure out this plan was astonishing—so broad, in fact, that
hadn’t known some of it until he started looking.
And then last week: new clones, new problems,
Deshin had thought, like everyone else, that this was primarily a human issue—even though he had taunted Flint, and reminded him that there were nonhuman players involved.
But the Peyti involvement, the
clones—and the fact that they were planted decades before, and had gone to law school all over the known universe, and had, in fact, practiced law on the Moon for years without ever doing anything wrong—those Peyti clones made Deshin’s fear worse.
He couldn’t keep quietly investigating.
He couldn’t give hints to Flint any more, hoping Flint’s contacts would take up the investigation and do it properly.
Last week, before the second attack, Flint had asked Deshin to investigate sources for Designer Criminal Clones based on PierLuigi Frémont. Deshin had agreed, then got sidetracked—as everyone did—by the horrors a few days later.
Now, Deshin needed to do more than investigate the Frémont DNA. He needed to investigate designer criminal clone companies that specialized in multispecies clones. And not fast-grow clones. Slow-grow ones.
He would be putting himself in danger.
But, he reasoned, better him than his family. As long as the threat of another attack hung over the Moon, his family was at great risk.
He could take them out of here—he would talk to Gerda about that—and then he would see what leads he could uncover.
And this time, instead of hinting at them to Flint, Deshin would tell Flint what he found.
Deshin would make sure no attack would destroy the Moon, even if it was the last thing he ever did.
OFFICER MAUDE LECKIE kept her right hand on her laser pistol, and surveyed the train car. All the damn Peyti clones, looking exactly alike, sat in the exact same position, and stared out the windows at the landscape whizzing by.
The bullet train, commandeered by the Security Office of United Domes of the Moon, was going fast, but not fast enough to miss the damage outside the domes. The moment the train zoomed out of Glenn Station, she noted the destroyed buildings of the local manufacturing planet.
Somewhere on this car—Glenn Station’s prisoner transport car—sat the Peyti asshole who had sent his colleague to the plant. She had lost a cousin there.
She scanned the car, making eye contact with as many Peyti as she could. The damn things didn’t look threatening. They were thin as sticks, with fingers that were too long and eyes that were too big. Their skin was an unhealthy gray.
But the masks they wore that enabled them to survive in an Earth-like environment—those damn things sent a shiver through her. Because this group of asshole lawyer Peyti had weaponized their masks just a week ago, with the idea of killing as many people as possible.
Leckie knew her superiors had checked the masks. She knew some androids had gone over the masks with the various technical tests that only prison android guards could do efficiently.
She knew that these masks had been examined a dozen times each—and she still wanted to rip the damn things off, and toss them out the window onto the Moon’s gray surface.
She wanted to see these fuckers die slowly, unable to breathe, their faces turning that weird blue they got when they were “distressed.”
She’d turn them blue. She’d make them explode if she could.
It was taking all of her control not to turn her laser pistol on them. She’d flick on the pistol’s red sight, and deliberately place the dot on the forehead of the Peyti prisoners, one by one. She wanted them to feel scared,
, that she was going to kill them slowly.
She’d told her captain she had this impulse and he had just laughed at her.
They’re suicide bombers, Leckie
, he had said.
They’re not going to be scared. They’re going to welcome death. Take them to the City of Armstrong. Let them face justice and live with their failures. That will frighten them. That will destroy them. They expect you and your little gun; they don’t expect a future filled with incarceration and daily punishment.