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Yael seated at it, smiling benignly.
 And Dr. Yael?
 Good morning, son.
 This is too much for me.
 No, it isn t boy. Sit down. I ve never seen you lose your poise for more than a moment. You ll
regroup.
Winter backed into a chair and sat, shaking his head. Then drew a deep breath, compressed his lips
and looked hard at me.  And this is the prize at the end of the treasure hunt?
 There! You see? Yael beamed.  It didn t take you five seconds, Rogue.
 But why this ridiculous Roguemarole?
 We had to brief you on something extremely sensitive, I told him.
 So? Couldn t you call?
 I said  sensitive. Calls can be tapped. And messages. And word of mouth. The problem was how
to bring you here without a clue to anyone, so we relied on your pattern sense, which is unique. No one
else has that.
 Forgive me, Brnnehilde, but you re sounding like an X-rated spy feature.
 We had all last night when you were otherwise occupied, to set up  The Twelve Days of
Christmas. 
 Naturally, your name being Partridge. But if it d been Kallikak?
 I knew you d be the only one able to sense the pattern, and if you were tailed, your course would
be so eccentric that you d certainly shake it.
 Tailed? Oh sure. Rogue Moriarty, they call me, Winter laughed.  Paging Sherlock Holmes.
 This is serious, son, Yael said.
 Why King R-og? Winter shot at me.
 You re brilliant, I said with genuine admiration.  Because that s the crux and you ve synergized it
already. Te Uinta s soul now resides in your left eye.
 When? How? Like lightning.
 A week ago. Hunting accident. His suit ripped open by a tusk. He was really too old to encounter
an anaerobic mammoth alone.
Winter swallowed hard.  He had to prove himself. Once a year. It s the Maori tradition for
royalty.
 And now you ll have to, I said.  Please listen, Winter, and don t zag in. Gig?
He nodded.
 We ve been using you, without your knowledge, for years and you ve been invaluable. You ve
been watched and followed. Your code I.D. is  Pointer.  And I told him about our Pert operations and
the unconscious role he played in them. He listened intently without interupting. He was quick and
perceptive and didn t plague me with obvious questions like who  we were. Once, however, he did dart
a glance at Yael, who responded with a shrug.
 Now the crux, I went on.  That soldier in the Bologna gardens carried a Slice Knife for two
purposes. One was for the kill, of course, but the other was to bring your cheeks back to Ganymede.
 Ah!
 Yes. He had nothing to do with the Jink girl from Triton or her organization. He was only stalking
you as R-og Uinta, king-presumptive.
 So!
 So indeed. There s a small, tough terrorist group who don t want you. You re not a Maori. You
weren t raised in the Dome. You re Honk-corrupted. You re soft. You can t be trusted. Etcetera.
Etcetera. What s their answer? Wipe you, and they re on the wipe. These killers are trained and smart,
and that s why I had to go through the  Twelve Days caper to bring you here.
 They re wasting their time, Winter said.  I don t want any part of the king-bit.
 That won t make any difference to them. No matter who they acclaim in your place, you ll always
be a present danger. The majority in the Dome will forever homage your cheeks. Their only answer is to
bring your cheeks home as trophies of the kill.
 I ll abdicate formally.
 It won t go down with them. They won t trust you to stay abdicted. They ll stay on the wipe until
you re blown.
 Jigjeeze! What a hell of a scam for a nice goyisha boychick. And now that Demi and I  He cut
himself off. Then;  But you didn t paper-chase me here just to bring the bad news from Ganymede to
Terra. You have something more in mind. What?
 Go to Ganymede and get yourself kinged.
 You ve got to be zigging.
 Yael will accompany you.
 What s the doctor got to do with this?
 I ve never told you, son, but Te Uinta paid for your upbringing and education. He believed it could
advantage the Maori to be led by a king who was conversant with our ways.
 Yes, yes, Winter muttered.  Same like Demi s Titanian mother.
 And I owe it to Te to see you through this crise, Yael continued.  I must; otherwise all our prep
will go down the drain.
 It s down already, sir. I m not the king type and never will be.
 But you ll be alive, I said.  They won t dare hit you once you re formally coronated. That would
alienate them from the majority completely.
 What in hell are you trying to do, Odessa, protect me? I can protect myself, now that I ve been
alerted. God knows, I proved that on Venucci.
 I m not protecting you, I flared.  I m protecting the job you re doing for us. If you have to live on
the alert for hits, you won t be any use to us. The only patterns you ll be able to sense will be potential
wipes.
He grunted.
 But if you get yourself coronated, you ll be safe, back to normal, business as usual. I let that sink
in, then,  And your girl will be safe, too.
He glared at me.  You bitch, he said softly.  You unadulterated, natural, organic bitch. You know [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]