Games Wizards Play
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Читать онлайн "Games Wizards Play"

Автор Дуэйн Диана

Contents

Title Page

Contents

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Epigraphs

Time fix: Spring 2011

Hipparchus

Coney Island

Wellakh / Hempstead

Antarctica / Knox Coast

San Francisco

Mumbai

Hempstead / Elsewhere

Hempstead / Mumbai

Manhattan: Javits Center

Javits Center: The Cull

New York: The Losers’ Party

Mumbai / Shanghai / Elsewhere

Canberra

Canberra: The Post-Semis Mixer

Antarctica and Daedalus

Sol IIIa, Sol, Sol III

Read More from the Young Wizards Series

About the Author

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Duane

All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.com 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.

Reprinted by permission of Hal Leonard Corporation.

www.hmhco.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file.

ISBN 978-0-547-41806-3

eISBN 978-0-544-63371-1

v1.0216

Dedicated to Colin Smythe

Publisher, editor, friend

(who knows where the bodies are buried)

Acknowledgments

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, The Wizard of Oz

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.

—Oscar Wilde

Time fix:

Spring 2011

1

Hipparchus

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.

Kit, you still with us? said a voice that sounded like it was speaking from inside his head.

“Uh, yeah,” Kit said under his breath. “Don’t think it’d be real smart to move right this minute. I’m pinned down.”

Lissa is too, said another voice. You’re below effective numbers now, Kit. We can pull you guys out of there—

“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. How many have we got moving now? said a voice from across the battlefield.

Nine of them, said another voice with a distinct twang to it. They’re right over the rim from you right now, so whatever you do, don’t—

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.

Kit? Kit!!

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 way am I moving! Not ready for Timeheart right this minute.” He gulped air and levered himself up on his elbows to look over the edge of rocks in front of him. There was little to see except more dust, kicked up low across the plain by dimly seen mechanical shapes. “What about Lissa? She was right behind me—”

I moved, said that lighter voice. Good thing, or I’d be where Ritchie is now. As usual, she sounded way too calm for what was going on around her.

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?”

The shells’ve got some kind of hyperblooey in them, Lissa said. Boosted composite chemical and micronuke explosive surrounded by a tamping field. But the explosive’s not the problem. The squeeze-field’s where the real action is. It’s a double-tasked starcore compression spell that’s also holding the components of the fusion triggers apart. That’s how they’re getting so much oomph out of these things.

“Hybrid tech,” Kit muttered. “I really, really hate it when people hook wizardry up to explosives. The results cannot be anything but ugly . . .”

Wouldn’t argue, Lissa said. Since we don’t have time.

From his position across the crater came a familiar voice: Ronan. Five minutes, he said.

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. You think they know what you know? he said privately to Lissa.

I’m not sure, Lissa said. Couldn’t get a clear reading until that last one came real close.

And you’re sure of your results?

Pretty sure. If you want me to make absolutely certain, why not stand up and see if you can attract another?

Pass! Kit said.

Four minutes thirty . . . said Ronan.

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 ...




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