Dragon Sun (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Book II of III)
AbeBooks Seller Since September 10, 2007Quantity Available: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since September 10, 2007Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Title: Dragon Sun (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Book ...
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Edition: 1st Printing
About this title
When a rebellion threatens Sheng-ji Yang's dreams of immortality and Lady Deirdre Skye's life is at risk, thanks to the machinations of the Planetary Council, the two enter into an alliance to take on the forces that could destroy them both, with the stakes in the battle becoming power, survival, and the future of all human life on Chiron. Original.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
We can't know, at this time, whether the rebels won or lost the final battle in the underground tunnels of the Humlan Hive. I do know the rebels believe that they won.
My father, who was often misunderstood by those who lacked his discipline and physical hardiness, dedicated his life to the people of the Hive. He created a new world for them, one of safety and security, both physically and emotionally. He gave them a chance at a perfectly sustainable system, a culture that might last eons even on this alien world, and in return he asked only for their complete trust in his superior will and vision.
He anticipated the uprisings, and almost welcomed them -- secretly, I think. As his life dragged on he craved these challenges. But he could not have anticipated Jin Long, his most formidable opponent.
It was Jin Long who led the uprisings from the far-flung bases. At first they were mere annoyances, easily countered by my father's methods of ideological warfare. But as my father's attention became split between the rebel uprisings and matters brewing in the human settlements across the sea, Jin took the opportunity to grow his power in the dark sub-basements of the Hive.
In the end, it was the smallest chinks in his armor that betrayed my father. He let his quest for immortal life distract him from the threat of Jin, and he underestimated the woman, Deirdre Skye. These factors conspired against my father, and the jaws of circumstance closed around him.
But ultimately, of course, he remained victorious.
?from the Journals of Yang Mia
At the edge of Chiron's largest ocean, on the opposite shore from the human settlements, a speeder lurched to a halt on a rocky beach. Two men got out and walked slowly toward the water, the taller of the two dressed in elaborate blue and silver robes. The other man was hunched over, huddled into a simple gray-green cloak. Compact filters supplied them with the oxygen-balanced air their bodies required.
They walked over a low rise and stopped at the edge of the water. Centauri A had slipped low to the horizon, and boiled the sea in orange fire. Centauri B was higher in the sky, adding a bright clarity to the air.
The taller man, Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, took a deep breath and watched the sea for a long moment. He looked about fifty years old, of Chinese descent, but with pale skin courtesy of a life lived mostly underground. His glittering black eyes swept the horizon, and he nodded to the sea.
"Fifty years ago we crossed these waters, Akim. Do you remember?"
The older man, skin creased with age, nodded and blinked at the dazzling seascape. "Of course, Chairman."
"Do you remember why?"
"Because the settlement territories were growing toward us, and we wanted to expand in peace." He continued to stare to the horizon, and reached up to brush one frail hand against skin that had grown loose on his ancient face. "We built a transport ship, and took the remainder of the crew, everyone loyal to your vision, and left that continent behind. I remember it well."
"Good." Yang kept his eyes to the horizon. "We built what we wanted to build, Akim. We surmounted every challenge, from the native life, to the hard earth that resisted our intrusions, to the challenges of our own citizens."
"But the settlements have continued to grow, and soon these settlement humans, who have all but forgotten that Executive Officer Yang of the Unity ever existed, will cross the sea and find us. We won't be able to stop them this time."
Akim shifted uneasily, and huddled into his robes against a cool breeze that rose from the sea. "Does the Chairman think that we can work with the settlement citizens?"
Yang smiled. "We can't even work with our own citizens, Akim. The riots have gotten worse; the rebels can smell a victory. We can't afford to show them any mercy."
Akim remained silent. Yang looked down the beach, where a young woman in a red wrap walked from the parked rover and down toward the water. The wind whipped her clothes around her, but she turned her face up to the waning sun. Back at the rover another figure waited, this one in heavy armor and fingering a penetrator rifle.
"Why did you order my scientists to stop their work on the shadow army, Akim?"
Akim felt a tremble start deep in his belly, and his mouth went dry. "I only told them to slow the pace of their experiments, Chairman, for fear that the rebels would learn of them."
"You couldn't stomach it." Yang shook his head slowly. "The rebels are getting aggressive, Akim, and the settlement armies outnumber us. I need those soldiers."
Akim swallowed. "Chairman, the brutality of it. I feared for us if anyone saw..."
"No one will see," said Yang. "I've moved the experiments to the secret lab under Base Five, away from the rebels. But that's not your concern anymore." Akim felt a chill, and looked back at the rover behind them. He saw the figure that stood there, one of Yang's deadly hiveguard, a dark shadow of the setting sun.
"This is no time for mercy, Akim." Yang extended his hand, palm up. "Hand me your seal."
Akim hesitated, but Yang's hand floated between them, waiting. He wouldn't repeat the command.
Akim slowly reached into his robes and pulled out a multifaceted object made of some kind of translucent material. Inside the object a silver dragon coiled, its tiny jade eyes glinting even in the waning sunlight.
He dropped the seal into Yang's hand. "It has been a pleasure serving you, Chairman." He blinked, watching the sunset, focusing on the endless gray seas and not the long life he had lived.
Yang looked back toward the rover. The moment extended as a curl of white surf rushed toward their feet.
From nowhere the young woman appeared next to them, her red robe now wrapped tightly about her. She glanced at Akim, then calmly turned to Chairman Yang.
"I'm cold, Father. Are we almost ready to leave?"
The wave washed back. Yang stared at his daughter, and Akim felt an odd moment of pity for her. Why had he brought her here?
Akim reached out and touched her shoulder. "Wait in the rover, Mia. Your father will be along shortly."
She looked at Chairman Yang, and then back at him. "Thank you, Akim," she said, and her face opened into a dazzling smile. Then she turned and walked toward the rover.
"I remember when she was as long as my forearm, Chairman."
Yang nodded, his face blank. Centauri A had dipped below the horizon, and shadows lengthened over the deserted beach. "Tell me this, Akim. Do you believe I should show the rebels any mercy?"
He swallowed once before answering. "None."
Yang looked at him carefully, and then nodded. "Fine. Come back to the rover, then, Akim. Your days as a Grand Advisor are behind you."
Akim nodded once and lowered his head as Yang walked up toward the rover. When he looked up the world had fragmented through a prism of tears, and Akim could only think of the time he had left, and how he had no one with whom to share it.
The rover left the beach and drove for an hour, over red earth and past sporadic crimson tangles of xenofields. The low red hills of Chiron rolled on in all directions, utterly pristine under the waning light of Centauri B. It was as if this world had never been touched, and Yang watched the landscape quietly, reflecting on the emptiness.
He looked over to see Akim sitting in a rumpled heap, staring out the opposite window. Mia lay comfortably in the upper berth, her robes loosened. She stroked her long hair absently, involved with some kind of game on her small touchscreen. Every so often she parted her lips as a new strategy occurred to her, and Yang remembered years before when she had scratched games of mindworm-sweeper on the tunnel walls, challenging Akim.
He turned back to the window, watching the sky darken.
Finally, the rover reached a low ring of hills, and three citizens in simple gray-green uniforms appeared and pulled red camo netting off two long metal doors. They moved quickly, jerking the doors open, and Yang took one last look at the cold vault of the sky before the rover passed into the throat of the base known as the Hive.
Inside, his hiveguard opened the rover hatch, and Yang dismounted. Two more guards stood in the large, low-ceilinged rover bay, along with a stocky man in a red and gray uniform. The man stood at a respectful distance, but Yang could feel his impatience.
"What is it, General Markos?"
The man approached, scowling. "I think we should talk about your plans, Chairman. We're fighting a battle on two fronts, if what I read in your last decree is true."
"Is this base secure?"
General Markos hesitated, adjusting to Yang's unexpected question. "Of course."
"Is the loyalty of the hiveguard at each key entry point unquestioned?"
He nodded. "In this base, yes."
"Then we're safe, General, and whatever battles we fight will be by our own choosing. Assemble the advisors, and we'll discuss your concerns."
General Markos bowed, still frowning. "Very well, Chairman." He turned away and started barking orders into his quicklink.
Behind the rover the large doors banged shut, so that only pale white glowlamps lit the darkness. Yang turned to see Akim's bowed form vanish into the shadows at the far side of the bay, alone. Yang walked toward the back of the bay himself, two of his loyal hiveguard shadowing him.
He was back home, in the Human Hive.
The Hive was the largest of Yang's five bases. Like each of the other bases, it was built almost entirely underground, with a network of broad, featureless hallways radiating out from a central shaft. The central shaft pierced the heart of the base, ninety meters in diameter and more than four hundred meters deep. Light came down through skylights, touching the periphery of the shaft before being swallowed in the depths.
Chairman Yang walked down several wide tunnels until he reached the inner ring, the open area that circled the central shaft on each of several levels. Here citizens walked the broad open ways and played games at small stone tables, or stopped to pass the time in quiet, sparse gardens. The Hive had four upper levels, clustered near the surface. Deep below, near the bottom of the shaft, were the mines, and it was a paradox of Hive life that anyone could look over a stone railing and into those awful depths, where political prisoners toiled and suffered.
Yang looked into the shaft and smiled. Citizens walked by in their simple gray-green clothes, doing their best to look industrious. A plain woman with green eyes looked away from him, and he thought of Mia. A Hive poet had once called her the jewel of the underground, but that man was now gone, locked away for spreading rebel sentiments in his poetry. That had been six years ago, when Jin Long was still a Grand Advisor and Mia had just turned eleven.
His quicklink beeped once, softly. The advisors were assembled, and he headed for the meeting room.
Inside the room his Grand Advisors awaited him, now wearing their colored robes of state. There were usually ten advisors, one from each of the five bases, along with his ministers of war, protocol, service, production, and ecology, though with Akim gone there were now nine. In the dark room, with its charcoal-gray walls, the ministers shimmered like so many dewy flowers.
"Let's begin," said Yang. "I regret to say that Akim won't be joining us. His role as minister of production will remain unfilled for now."
The advisors sat stiffly, not reacting to the news. Yang continued, "What have we learned from the settlements?"
Kint, his minister of protocol, spoke in a nervous warble. "The Gaians continue their research into the native life forms, somewhat obsessively. The spymaster reports that one of them has raised a five-kilometer boil of mindworms and used it to attack a Morganite mining drill."
"And what does Morgan say to that?"
"He makes no secret that he believes the Gaians are responsible, but has no proof. In other matters, we are unable to duplicate the stolen Gaian technology here in the labs. It appears they have a certain looseness of character that allows some of their citizens to assume control of the native life. Though that same looseness of character has made it easy for us to conceal three operatives inside their labs."
"Could our warriors stand up to the Gaian mindworms?"
"Difficult to say," said the gruff voice of General Markos, now in his red robes of state. "We've trained, but living underground we hardly see the damn things. And if we were to send troops across the sea, well, that would limit their effectiveness somewhat."
"Are we talking about attacking the Gaians?" Kint blinked nervously. "I've heard no indication..."
"We've outfitted a force of our new soldiers in the secret labs at Base Five. We may deploy them to the other shore if it becomes necessary."
"The new soldiers." The rate of Kint's blinking increased. "The combined settlement armies outnumber us four times. Santiago alone has four bases now, and more than twelve thousand citizens, almost half of them soldiers. And then there is the rebel activity here..."
"My point exactly," said Markos. "Chairman, I have great respect for your tactics, but forcing our way into the settlements while dealing with the growing rebel sabotage here seems foolish, especially with this untested shadow army. And if we send our regular hiveguard overseas, we leave ourselves open to rebel attacks at home."
Yang nodded as nine faces turned to him. "The army is untested, and we're worried about the rebels. So the problem is not so difficult." He looked at Kint. "We've already moved the shadow army to Base Three in anticipation of a rebel attack. So we'll make it easy for them. We'll take a dozen rebel prisoners and parade them through the base as a demonstration. The rebels will be unable to resist the chance to free their comrades, and we'll attack them there."
"Are you sure they'll attack?" asked Markos, folding his arms across his chest.
"Jin Long, the man who leads the rebels, was once the prefect of Base Three, and we suspect he's hiding in the lower tunnels. He'll be unable to resist this chance." Yang looked at Kint again. "Jin is the key. His spirit is leading this rebellion. If we capture him, we can break these rebels."
Kint nodded weakly.
"I still don't think they'll be that foolish," said Markos in a low rumble.
"Then give them a reason to be that foolish," said Yang. "Torture the prisoners, and bruise their faces. Call our regular guard away from Base Three for drills on the surface. Make the rebels think they have a chance, and then use the new shadow army to crush them. We have no more time to waste."
He frowned at them all. Nine heads nodded, and only silence answered him.
Yang left the meeting room and walked down the hall as his advisors dispersed behind him. He walked unti...
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