The door slid open just as Ariane felt her slate vibrate. She pulled it
out of her coveralls pocket, seeing a message from Muse 3. This was a bad time, but before her
thumb started to set the hold, she noticed the priority. An emergency?
“I’ve got a message from the agent on my ship,” she said, frowning and
pausing in the open doorway.
“The comm center can take it.” Sewick whipped out his own slate. “Funny,
the center’s not responding. Perhaps they’re doing some maintenance.”
Ariane thumbed open the message, feeling uneasy. How could her slate be
getting a message if the moon’s comm center was down? The text message said nothing but “CAW
SEP 12.35.15.” CAW Space Emergency Procedure twelve-dot-thirty-five, number fifteen? What the
hell did that @ean? The thirty-five series covered interruption of command, control, or
communications, but number fifteen was rather obscure. Her scalp wasn’t simply prickling; it
tingled with the sense of danger.
“I’d better check the comm center,” she said, turning around and walking
quickly back down the corridor toward the pillared hall. She brushed past the other contractors
and Major Dokos. Suddenly the title for 12.35.15 popped into her mind:
Hostile Takeover of Command and Control Centers.
She turned the corner and started running.
ALSO BY LAURA E. REEVE
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
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First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, October 2009
Copyright © Laura E. Reeve, 2009
eISBN : 978-1-101-14543-2
All rights reserved
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To my husband, Michael
When Roger Penrose, Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford,
Shadows of the Mind
, I’m sure he had no idea of the wild and
bizarre ideas that book could put into a science fiction writer’s head. In appreciation, I
named the Penrose Fold for him, since there must be other brilliant Roger Penroses in alternate
timelines. I’m grateful for my husband, Michael, who originally loaned me the book, and who
provided clarification, encouragement, and advice for technological details in this story. I
also thank my friends and family for their patience and for pretending to listen while I
focused on this book. Once again, I’m indebted to my critique partner Robin, as well as first
readers Summer and Scott, for their reviews and editorial comments. Finally, credit must go to
my agent, Jennifer Jackson, my editor, Jessica Wade, and the staff at Penguin Group for their
work on this series.
Under our spotlight: The Senatorial Advisement Council on Stellar
Matters issued their report on the light-speed data from Ura-Guinn. The solar system’s sun
survived the detonation of a temporal-distortion (TD) warhead in 2090, contrary to
simulations and scaled-down tests. However, the Epsilon Eridani antenna can’t resolve
planetary surfaces or orbital habitats, so casualties from coronal mass emissions and flares
have yet to be . . .
—InterStellarSystem (ISS) Events Feed
UT, indexed byDemocritus 11
Cause and Effect Imperative
riane reluctantly put on her v-play
equipment, signed in for her virtual session, and sat down. Her chair hadn’t finished adjusting
when Major Tafani started in on her. She hoped there was a special room in hell just for
“Major Kedros, you shouldn’t abandon these sessions so soon.” Tafani’s
voice was heavy. He folded his hands together on top of the desk that she suspected had no
purpose other than to distance him from his patients.
Today, however, not even Tafani could puncture her composure. Today, the
light-speed data proved that Ura-Guinn’s sun
cell in her body had exploded in relief when she’d heard the news. She’d waited
, with the rest of the civilized worlds, to learn the outcome of
her last mission during the war. Hope still flowed with every breath: If the solar system still
had its sun, then some of the inhabitants might have survived.
“I have to get my boss and his ship to G-145.” Ariane tried to put
regret into her voice, but couldn’t. “It’s temporary. Don’t worry, Major; I’ll be back in four
Major Tafani’s lips thinned in disapproval. He was already on the edge
of being unattractive, and his grimace made him look more like her grandmother than an officer
in the Armed Forces for the Consortium of Autonomous Worlds. She reminded herself that Tafani
had a doctorate in some sort of brain biochemical fidgetry, as well as a regular commission in
“Can’t your employer use another pilot for this mission?” he
“Aether Exploration doesn’t have another N-space pilot. Besides, how
else am I going to pay for these sessions?”
“Please don’t be flippant, Major Kedros. We both know these sessions are
part of your military compensation, even though it’s unusual to extend my services to a
reservist such as yourself.” Tafani’s fingers started drumming the desktop.
Well, I asked for this, didn’t
Colonel Owen Edones for addiction
therapy, but she hadn’t gotten what she expected. For one thing, she didn’t understand the
lingo these people used, even though everyone seemed to be speaking common Greek. When Tafani
told her to put together a list of inner needs, she’d stared at him blankly. After she had come
back with goals such as extending her pilot rating or improving her physical conditioning, he
“Don’t you need emotional nourishment?” he had asked.
Her problems weren’t about emotional nourishment, for Gaia’s sake. She
might have wiped out
several billion souls
during the war with a
temporal-distortion weapon. She was going to have to wait more years for news of survivors, and
meanwhile, the nightmares never left her. Besides disrupting her sleep, the ghosts were ever
present during her days, rustling and whispering in the back of her mind. It took a
of alcohol and smooth to drown them out, and she was seeing
Major Tafani because she was tired of puking her guts up as a result.
The military had classified and rewritten her past for her protection.
They had changed her appearance, effective age, and biochemical processes, and given her a new
identity. She was Ariane Kedros now, and Ariane couldn’t talk to Major Tafani about TD weapons,
or being tortured by Terrans for revenge, or how Cipher, her own crewmate, had gone over the
edge and had become an avenging angel of death.
If she did, Tafani’s head would probably explode. He didn’t have combat
experience and he wasn’t old enough to have been in the war. All he knew was Pax Minoica, a
relatively peaceful time between CAW and the Terran League, brokered by the powerful and alien
“New space is dangerous for you.” Tafani’s hand still drummed the desk.
“I hear there’s a cavalier, frontierlike attitude toward drinking and drugging.”
“I’ve seen a work-hard and play-hard ethic.” She nodded reluctantly.
“But they deserve it, don’t they, for the risks they take?”
“What about you?”
“What?” The sound of his fingers drumming on the desk irritated
“Will you deserve rewards for your work and the risks you’ll take? Since
you continue to drink, how will you control yourself?” It was his old argument for
“I’ve done pretty well in the last four months.” She was proud of her
ability to sip socially. At this point, she saw no need to fully forgo alcohol or
“You have, but you use your civilian job and employer for support and
distraction. You can’t maintain restraint for anyone else but
, Ariane, or you’ll end up checked into an addict commons again,
helpless to perform your duties.”