Читать онлайн "Games Wizards Play"
Автор Дуэйн Диана
Wellakh / Hempstead
Antarctica / Knox Coast
Hempstead / Elsewhere
Hempstead / Mumbai
Manhattan: Javits Center
Javits Center: The Cull
New York: The Losers’ Party
Mumbai / Shanghai / Elsewhere
Canberra: The Post-Semis Mixer
Antarctica and Daedalus
Sol IIIa, Sol, Sol III
Copyright © 2016 by Diane Duane
All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.
Could It Be from KIM POSSIBLE: THE MOVIE.
Words and music by Andrew Gabriel and Cory Lerois © 2005 by Wonderland Music Company, Inc. and Walt Disney Music Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Heartfelt thanks to the many online friends who follow me on Twitter (@dduane) and Tumblr (dduane.tumblr.com), and whose engagement and encouragement are a daily joy. As the man says: “You keep me right.”
Thanks also to John C. Welch, provider of technical assistance that has proved of inestimable value in the production of this book.
I . . . am about to embark upon a hazardous and technically unexplainable journey . . . to confer, converse, and otherwise hobnob with my brother wizards.
—Oz the Great,
When moon and sun stand each in place
And your opponent takes the field,
Look past him to the one you’ll face
When all hid truths stand new-revealed.
When that time comes, your only shield
Will be the outward gaze toward space;
The cold will show what sword to wield
Against the fire’s and death’s embrace.
Still, though your oldest foe should yield,
Beware the last fall of the dice:
Though now an ancient sorrow’s healed,
Beware who pays the final price—
And do not miss, ’twixt fire and ice,
Your chance to make the sun rise twice.
—I Ching trigram 30, Fire over Fire: “Double Brightness”
I am not young enough to know everything.
KIT RODRIGUEZ LAY SPRAWLED in the gray dirt, staring in shock at the fire-blackened book that had just landed open side down in front of him. His stomach flip-flopped as he realized that very close by, another wizard lay dead.
Still smoking gently at its charred edges, the other wizard’s manual, a thick, beat-up paperback with a cracked spine, slowly started to vanish. Sheer horrified fascination made it hard for Kit to look away. Only when the manual had finished dissolving did he manage to swallow. His mouth was bone dry, not just because of all the dust flying around, and his heartbeat was hammering in his ears. It was amazing how loud your own heart sounded in these conditions, especially when it might shortly stop without warning.
“Uh, yeah,” Kit said under his breath. “Don’t think it’d be real smart to move right this minute. I’m pinned down.”
“No chance,” Kit said. “Job’s not done yet! You think I’m leaving before we finish what Ritchie gave it all up for?”
The moment’s silence that followed was broken only by the shudder of the impacts hitting the ground around them.
A few hundred meters in front of him, an inward-arrowing glint of ferociously unfiltered sunlight flashed off the narrow shape of yet another of the nasty projectiles that had been making Kit’s life so interesting for the last ten minutes or so. Hurriedly Kit shoved his face down into the dirt again, and the incoming missile shot by right over his head, literally within a yard or so of his scalp. Under the circumstances he couldn’t feel it by air pressure, but its passage pushed his personal shield down harder onto his skull. This wasn’t the kind of sensation any wizard in his right mind took lightly, no matter how confident he was about his shielding—and Kit was a lot less confident about it than he’d been half an hour ago.
He held still, waiting for the explosion from behind him. For several long moments nothing happened. Then everything rocked. The ground beneath Kit rippled, shaking apart in chunks along spiderweb cracks as the blast wave from the missile’s explosion burst through it. In the wave’s wake, the air inside the larger bubble of Kit’s secondary shield instantly filled with kicked-up gray-white dust that obscured everything, as if he’d suddenly been teleported into the center of a frosted lightbulb. He concentrated on not breathing until the shaking stopped and the dust started to settle.
He didn’t answer right away, because he didn’t trust himself to breathe the air around him yet. After a few moments the dust had settled low enough for him to carefully put his head above the dust level. “I’m still here, it’s okay!” he said. “And no
Kit sighed in unnerved relief. His only other team member, Walt, had been taken out moments before Ritchie had. But Lissa’s survival alone wasn’t likely to be enough to make the difference here: mere numbers weren’t going to help. “You get the reading you were after on this new stuff they’re lobbing at us?”
“Hybrid tech,” Kit muttered. “I really,
From his position across the crater came a familiar voice: Ronan.
Sweat started popping out all over Kit. The other team was dead quiet, which suggested that they had some sort of solution to what was going on and were about to implement it.
The hair stood up on the back of Kit’s neck at the thought of what would start breaking loose in four minutes, that being the best-case estimate for when the alien force would push past their defensive perimeter and get at the base on the far side of the crater. The place was full of civilians, none of whom were going to be terribly prepared to be overrun by aliens. And Kit wasn’t s ...