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Authors: Kage Baker

Tags: #Science Fiction, #Historical, #Adventure, #Fantasy, #C429, #Extratorrents, #Kat

The Sons of Heaven

BOOK: The Sons of Heaven
12.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The Company Series

In the Garden of Iden
Sky Coyote
Mendoza in Hollywood
The Graveyard Game
Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers
The Life of the World to Come
The Children of the Company
The Machine’s Child

Gods and Pawns
The Sons of Heaven

Also by Kage Baker

The Anvil of the World
Dark Mondays
Mother Aegypt and Other Stories

The Sons of Heaven




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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


Copyright © 2007 by Kage Baker

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

Edited by David G. Hartwell

A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Baker, Kage.
       The sons of heaven / Kage Baker.—1st ed.
           p. cm.
       “A Tom Doherty Associates Book.”
       ISBN-13: 978-0-7653-1746-9
       ISBN-10: 0-7653-1746-X
       1. Dr. Zeus Incorporated (Imaginary organization)—Fiction. 2. Immortalism—Fiction. 3. Time
travel—Fiction. I. Title.
       PS3552.A4313S66 2007


First Edition: July 2007

Printed in the United States of America

0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

To the man himself.

Quia fortis est ut mors dilectio …

A Long Time Ago …

Before the first stone was set in Zimbabwe’s wall…

Three boys went out one morning to fish in the river. They were too young to go by themselves, but they went anyway, taking a boat. The current pulled them away swiftly, and they traveled a long time, and soon they had no idea where they were or how to get back to their village.

They drifted close to the bank of the river, and one of the boys jumped overboard and tried to swim to shore. Crocodiles caught him, and pulled him down. The other two boys stayed in the boat, terrified, and it drifted on.

Then the river passed through a forest, where branches hung low over the boat, and as they passed under, one of the boys jumped for a branch and pulled himself up. But he screamed and, looking back, the last boy saw that there was a leopard making its way along the branch.

The last boy stayed sensibly in the boat where he was safe, all that day and all the night, and in the morning the boat drifted near to a herders’ camp. He waved to them from the boat, and they came down and pulled it from the water.

Their leader was a pale fox-faced man. He heard the boy’s story. After looking the boy over carefully, he took him aside. Did the boy know the story of how, after evil came into the world, God sent an ark down to help men? How it came traveling on the rainbow, filled with copies of everything that lives, and tools for all the arts?

Of course the boy knew that story. The man explained that he and his fellow herders worked for God, and they were busy collecting animals for another such ark, because another great evil was coming someday. He asked if the boy would like to help God, and the boy, who loved God, said that he would like that very much.

So the boy was taken away from the world, and woke up later in great pain in a hospital ward, with his head bandaged. There he found that what the fox-faced man had told him was not exactly true: he was indeed to work at saving things in a great ark for the future, but he would be working not for God but for someone called Dr. Zeus Incorporated. On the other hand, he would never die.

In the centuries to come, when the boy had become a man, there were times when he regretted the bargain. Dr. Zeus Incorporated took in all the man contrived to save, greedily, and stored it away, not for the good of humanity but in order to make stockholders wealthy. Dr. Zeus Incorporated manipulated nations and events in order to guarantee profits, with a complete disregard for the human suffering it might cause.

Nor was Dr. Zeus all-seeing as a god ought to be; for though it had mastered the arts of time travel and immortality, it seemed to be blind to whatever might lie beyond 9 July 2355
. It was whispered among immortals that Dr. Zeus might fall on that date, destroyed perhaps by an intracorporate war. Perhaps history, perhaps even time itself ended on that day.

The man learned, moreover, that many of his fellow immortals had likewise become disillusioned with their eternal work. Some had come to hate the mortal humanity they served. Some had begun manipulating nations and events on their own account, with an eye to rebellion. They had no callous disregard for human suffering; they positively delighted in it. Sometimes the man wondered whether he was the only one who remembered the reason he had been given eternal life.

He made his own plans. He raised his own armies. There were times when he was tempted to rise in rebellion himself. But, laughing ruefully, he would tell himself that he had learned one priceless law by which to live, in his childhood:
Keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times until it has stopped moving

So far, it has not. But the day is coming.

Fez, 9 July 2355: The Game

The man is seated in his study. He has the gravity and silence of a pillar of black stone. There is a lot on his mind today, for the great evil about which he was warned so long ago has almost arrived. At last he rises and, putting his hands in the pockets of his modern tailored suit, advances to an inlaid cabinet in the corner.

After opening its doors, he takes out a box and returns to his chair.

He considers the game in its box.

It’s an old shatrang set, non-electronic, carved sometime late in the twentieth century. The white pieces are real ivory, perhaps the last to be made before the ban on that particular animal product. The black pieces are ebony. The board is inlaid with these substances too and the workmanship is a little raw, an example of the deliberate primitivism that was in vogue during that period of history.

Contrived or not, the set summons memories. Many of them are terrible memories. The man lifts out the ebony Elephant, shatrang’s nearest equivalent to the Bishop in chess. Its diagonal movement is limited to two squares in any direction, but like the Knight it can jump, most unexpectedly for those unfamiliar with the game. This piece ought to be an African elephant, but the artist has depicted it wearing an Indian elephant’s howdah on its broad back, like a pavilion perched on a domed hill. Within the howdah, two tiny dark figures cling to each other.

The Hill. Where? When?

Baby was born and, surprise! She was a little girl. There was great rejoicing in the hill about that, because girls don’t happen very often. Quean Barbie was elated, enchanted: to have produced a wonderful baby girl made her feel very grand. The Uncles were all very happy, too, especially Uncle Ratlin, who was the cleverest person living in the hill.

But Baby’s novelty wore off fairly soon, and it wasn’t long before Quean Barbie got tired of carrying her around and irritably handed her off to the poor stupids to be cared for. If they hadn’t been so stupid, they could have told Baby not to feel too badly about this: Quean Barbie loved having babies but always tired of them quickly, and always forgot about them in the excitement of making more.

Baby figured this out for herself, however. Baby wasn’t stupid.

No, Baby was clever, like Uncle Ratlin; like Quean Barbie, she could make the stupids do things for her. So life wasn’t so bad for a while, in the hill. The stupids brought Baby nice things to eat when she told them to, and made things to amuse her when she told them to, and every so often Uncle Ratlin would notice her when he wasn’t busy, and though she couldn’t make him do things very easily he was always nice, telling her stories about what fun they’d have when Baby was the new Quean.

Once Baby understood that she was going to be Quean, her life became much more complicated. All of her vague feelings of dislike for her mother had a center now, and her sense of herself was strengthened. She was more than Baby who was a girl, who was clever and gave orders. She was Baby who ought to be Quean! She had hair, as Quean Barbie had hair, though not so much. Quean Barbie had a vast bouffant of crystalline tresses, carefully woven
up for her by the stupids every morning, while Baby’s was cobwebby and thin, stuck up like little bushes and weeds.

Quean Barbie had clothes, too, of every color and description, brought back for her by Uncle Ratlin when he had time but most frequently by the stupider Uncles, who were easier for Quean Barbie to order around. It was hard for them to find the sort of clothes she wanted. The big people of the houses didn’t seem to keep many gowns like ladies on the holoset wore, which was what Quean Barbie preferred, and the Uncles sometimes had to break into four or five houses in a night before they could get a pretty gown for the Quean.

Baby didn’t need to do that. She simply sent one of the stupids to fetch her one of Quean Barbie’s dresses, and as an afterthought ordered him to bring Quean Barbie’s hairbrush, too. For about an hour Baby was very happy, turning this way and that in her new finery and swept-up do, admiring her reflection in the stupids’ big black eyes.

But then! Quean Barbie came raving out of her chamber, flailing away at the poor cowering stupids who attended her, screaming for her hairbrush. When her wide gaze fell on Baby, what shock! What slit-eyed rage followed, what hissed nasty names like
Fortunately Baby was very fast, and the stupids too stupid to get out of the Quean’s way as she chased after Baby, so that Quean Barbie fell down and Baby got away.

Baby was on her own after that, hiding out in the parts of the hill where no one ever went. It was a very old hill and the kin had been there a long time, so there were tunnels and rooms long forgotten, heaped to the ceilings with trash, vacated when they’d become too full to use. Plenty of room for Baby to hide and never get caught. More: there was a forgotten tunnel to the outside, giving Baby her own private exit.

The first time she ventured up and out, she expected to see a maze of houses and streets. That was what the Memory insisted was there, a town full of brutal big people, the hairy ogres who were the hereditary enemies of Baby’s race. No; only a sky sparked full of white stars and a hillside all bushes, and a long way off across fields a yellow spark from one little house, and beyond it the mounds where houses had used to be.

Baby crept out in the cold, shivering in her little rag of a dress, and ventured all the way across the fields to the house. It was much bigger once she got there, edging her way around the cattle pen and the big muddy transport parked outside. She looked through the windows and saw the big man who lived in the house, sprawled before his holoset with his big muddy boots off, just watching the holo slack-faced the way Quean Barbie did.

BOOK: The Sons of Heaven
12.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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