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Диана Дуэйн «Lifeboats»

Читать онлайн «Lifeboats»

Автор Диана Дуэйн

Contents

Title page

Copyright page

Version history

Time fix

Young Wizards: Lifeboats

Rubrics

ONE: JD 2455600.4380

TWO: Sol III: 2/2/2011

THREE: Rirhath B / the Crossings

FOUR: 11848 Cephei IV / Tevaral

FIVE: Thursday

SIX: Friday

SEVEN: Saturday

EIGHT: Sunday

NINE: Monday

TEN: Tuesday

ELEVEN: Wednesday

TWELVE: February 14, 2011: Tevaral

THIRTEEN: February 14, 2011: Earth

Afterword

Now available for preorder: GAMES WIZARDS PLAY

Young Wizards New Millennium Editions

Young Wizards:

Lifeboats

Diane Duane

Errantry Press

County Wicklow

Republic of Ireland

Young Wizards: Lifeboats

Diane Duane

Published by Errantry Press, an imprint of EbooksDirect.dianeduane.com, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

A division of the Owl Springs Partnership

© 2015 Diane Duane: all rights reserved. This work may not be republished or reproduced by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of the author.

This ebook is version / edition 1.01 of the work, dated 21 September 2015.

Young Wizards: Lifeboats is a canonical work in the Young Wizards universe and conforms to the timeline established in the Young Wizards New Millennium Editions.

Content advisory: Please note that this work contains several brief scenes in which non-explicit age-appropriate discussions of human sexuality appear. Parental discretion may be advisable where younger readers are involved.

Revisions: Should an updated version of this ebook become available, the Ebooks Direct store will send revision information and download links to the email address you used to make your purchase. Downloads of revised versions are free.

Version history

v1.00 (6 September 2015): Initial Ebooks Direct release

v1.01 (21 September 2015): Correction of typographical errors; formatting adjustments.

Time fix

This work falls between Young Wizards book 9, A Wizard of Mars, and the forthcoming book 10, Games Wizards Play.*

Its events follow those of the Young Wizards novellas Not On My Patch and How Lovely Are Thy Branches, and occur on February 2nd, 2011, and between JD 2455595.5118 and JD 2455602.2003 respectively… depending on where you’re standing.

*coming February 2, 2016 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Click here to preorder at Amazon.com.

Young Wizards: Lifeboats

It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any [long-term] survival value.

— Arthur C. Clarke (amendment via Stephen Hawking)

You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.

— Edwin Louis Cole

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.

— Thornton Wilder

ONE:

JD 2455600.4380

In the pursuit of the business of errantry, most wizards who walk the High Road past the borders of atmosphere swiftly become used to looking up into strange skies—nights with extra moons, days with extra suns, skies with (compared to the observer’s homeworld) too many stars or not nearly enough. Rings arching overhead, their complex detail blunted and tinted by atmosphere in a hundred shades of pastel; multicolored nebula-veils flung crumpled and glowing across tens of millions of miles of darkness; comet-tails painting the endless night with the palest and most attenuated of brushstrokes—all these become relatively commonplace.

Over the busy few years since Kit Rodriguez had passed his Ordeal and become a wizard, he’d seen all these and more. One or two such sights had become familiar enough that he hardly noticed them any more. But what hung over Kit now was something he knew would be haunting his dreams for a long time to come.

Across the broad, shadowy twilit landscape where he sat, down from the distant mountains edging the horizon, a chill wind blew. Out before him in the darkness, a broad plain faintly suffused with bloody light, uneasy with the distant half-seen movement of thousands of people, lay glittering with the lights of hundreds of scattered electronic campfires—the most visible sign of people sharing their last meals, and their last moments of warmth together, before their lives ended. A quarter of the sky above him was blotted out by a great lowering mass of darkness and fire: horribly convex and claustrophobic, seemingly pressing downwards from the sky like a burning roof about to collapse on everyone trapped underneath it.

. The appearance was at least partly an illusion, Kit knew, but the reality it hinted at was deadly enough. All around him a world was ending—was literally in its death-throes—and nothing he could do was going to stop it.

Kit sat there shivering in that thin cold wind, feeling (for the moment anyway) both helpless and very much alone. And then even the shivering stopped, very suddenly, as he realized that very near him, something was moving in that darkness. He could hear the rustle of it as it made its way toward him through the wind-shaken grass… could see a hint of its movement, indistinct, bizarre.

Kit forced himself to stay absolutely still, waiting, watching, as darkly shining tentacles slowly came oozing along toward him out of the smoky twilight. And along with them, wide and staring, came the eyes… so many eyes fixed on him: alien, unreadable, strange.

As the creature crept toward him and more and more of those weird cold eyes became apparent every moment, Kit sat still and gripped his antenna-wand and tried to keep himself calm, waiting to see what would happen. But the main thought running through his mind at the moment was:

When they asked me to do this job… why exactly didn’t I wait a few moments before I said yes?

TWO:

Sol III: 2/2/2011

About a thousand years ago, it now felt like, it had been five in the afternoon, and gray outside: just gray.

It was cold. It was cloudy. It was getting dark already. It was the beginning of February, and there was going to be a math test two days from now, on Friday, and Kit was going to flunk it. Massively, he thought ...

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