Antagonist - Childe Cycle 11

Antagonist - Childe Cycle 11 by Gordon R. Dickson, David W Wixon Read Free Book Online

Book: Antagonist - Childe Cycle 11 by Gordon R. Dickson, David W Wixon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gordon R. Dickson, David W Wixon
Tags: Science-Fiction
can work out what's needed together."
    Henry nodded, and moved to a chair.
    "How did you know this trip was to Ceta, Uncle?" Bleys asked, settling into the dark gray, oversize chair that was always his. "Dahno told me," Henry said.
    Bleys nodded. It had to be so, of course. But Dahno had not known of Bleys' later decision to take two ships.
    Bleys went on to explain to Henry that between having to get the second ship ready, and having to make diplomatic, political and administrative preparations, it would be five days or more before his own party could get off; but that he wanted whichever ship could take off first to take some of Henry's people. Going over the requirements took the rest of the afternoon. Neither of them brought up Will's name.
    "For all that's happened," Toni said late that evening, after Favored of God had been sent off with its instructions, "it's only a few weeks since you told me you thought it would be best to leave Ceta to the last, because it would be, well, messy to try to take over that splintered world—do you remember?"
    "Of course I do," Bleys said. "But I'm not really figuring on trying to take control of Ceta, just now. It's still uncontrollable. I'll be talking differently, when we're there, but don't let that distract you— we're going on what might be called an intelligence mission, and some of the talk will be a ruse aimed at smoking out whoever's hiding from us."
    "I know that," she said. "And I applaud the flexibility it shows. But I wonder—I've been assuming that was only what might be called a 'tactical' shift, and that your long-range plan has not changed—"
    "No," he said, interrupting her. "My goal hasn't changed." He paused, watching her face for reaction.
    "I haven't changed," he said. "I never change."
    "Your plan is so—" She groped for a word. "—so large! Isn't that daunting, even to someone with your abilities?"
    "Is it daunting for you?" he asked. "To be in on this, I mean."
    "No," she said. "I'm committed to you. You know that."
    "I know," he said. "And you know you're the only one who really knows what I'm after, in the very long term. Even Dahno has no real idea of the full scope of my purpose."
    "I don't know the details of your plan—"
    "Most details have to await the moment," he said.
    "I understand that. But what you told me when you were ill— what you spoke, perhaps for the first time out loud, tells me you expect to be strongly opposed."
    He nodded.

"And that you don't intend to shrink from doing whatever might be required to quench that opposition." She looked into his eyes.
    "I know you recognize the implications of that," she went on, "because it was clear, in some of the things you said. You foresaw a lot of suffering and death."
    "Yes," he said. His voice seemed flat and curt, even to himself.
    "I know you care about me," she said. "And about Dahno, Henry—others, too, I think, and even the whole human race. You're not some kind of conscienceless mass murderer. So aren't you bothered by the deaths you foresee?"
    "Yes," he said. "Of course I am."
    He looked down into her face, feeling a heaviness in the pit of his stomach. He recognized it; he felt it every time he imagined talking about the future he planned.
    "You know I never told you my plans of my own volition," he said. "It was forced out of me by that—that thing the Newtonian Council attacked me with."
    She nodded, simply waiting.
    "I didn't tell you," he went on, feeling the words forcing their way out past his instincts, "for the same reason I haven't told anyone else: I thought you—just as I've always thought of everyone else— would be repelled, and—and leave me."
    "You know better now," she said, her voice low, almost throaty.
    "You have to know, too," he went on, remorseless even for himself, "that if you had decided to leave me, it wouldn't have altered my plans."
    She nodded, lifting an arm to his shoulder and beginning to gently knead the hard muscles there.
    "That goes for

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