To distract herself, Tinker started to factor out large numbers, looking for primes.
Chiyo winced at her. "What are you doing?"
"Factoring numbers," Tinker said truthfully.
Chiyo rubbed her forehead. "You're a hideously ugly little creation."
"You are now her cousin," Pony repeated, more slowly.
"How did that happen?"
"You married Windwolf."
"He's her cousin?"
"Yes, which, by law, makes you her cousin too."
It was such a sane reason that Tinker found it comforting.
"I'm sorry, but the last thing I want to do is to disturb the marital bliss of the viceroy. That would be bad for relations between the two races."
"… You do this to satisfy that little monkey brain of yours. Curiosity is a beast best starved."
"I am not a mad scientist."
"Yes, you are. You like to make big machines that make lots of noise, move real fast, or reduce other objects down to little pieces."
"You're only saying that because you know I can't hit you at the moment."
"I'm not going to be responsible for dreams you had."
"I'll go see if Lain's home."
"It's four in the morning, Tink."
"Well, if she's in town, she's here, then."
"Monroeville? You mean drive to Earth?"
"We are on Earth."
"We're in Pittsburgh," Oilcan said. "Pittsburgh hasn't really been part of Earth for a long time."
"Yeah, we'll go to Earth if we have to."
The wound bled at an alarming rate, though she suspected any rate would be frightening. Blood just had a way of being upsetting.
"They want to ban sex toys, but sell guns on every street corner. When was the last time anyone was murdered with a vibrating banana?"
Males tend to make lousy women.
"Do you always drive like this?" Janea said as Barbara swerved into the turn lane to evade a car going the posted speed in the left-hand lane.
"Yes," Barb replied. "More or less. Less when I'm on time. More when I'm in a hurry. I haven't gotten into the oncoming lanes. Yet."
But what in he . . . heck were space goats and why did they baaa every time Hjalmar opened his mouth?
"You're not by any means crazy, Mrs. Everette. And I'm sorry it's taken me this long to pull the strings to get you out of here. A warrior of the Lord who dispels an avatar of Almadu deserves far better. However, up until yesterday I was in Serbia tracking a werewolf that was causing a spot of trouble. Would you consider having dinner with me? I have a job offer I think you might entertain."
"I killed your fucking god," Barb said, throwing him to the ground and trotting to the truck. She realized as she did so that it was the mechanic. "AND MY CAR HAD BETTER BE READY ON MONDAY!"
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil," she whispered. "For I am the baddest bitch in the valley."
"… Once upon a time I went to visit a medium, bordering on small. …"
She wasn't sure what Mississippi was, but it must be a horrible thing if it was used as a mantra for the guns.
The Air Force had occasionally complained about various armed CIA aircraft and the CIA had invariably answered "what aircraft?"
"I dunno," Kacey said. "Why don't you figure that out while I go have a case of the shakes. That was one hairy fucking mission. I seriously need a drink."
"You don't drink," D'Allaird pointed out.
"That's what I mean."
"… We may end up in a battle with ten, twenty, forty times our number. Now, which would you rather have if that happens, another two hundred rounds or a half a million euros?"
"Two hundred rounds," Yosif admitted.
"Yeah. SEAL shit. You know. Blow shit up. Kill people. Shit like that."
"And what are you going to be doing while I'm doing 'SEAL shit'?"
"I'm going to be standing right here, worrying like hell."
"Mike, Mr. Jenkins, my friend," Arensky said, grinning. "Let me give you one piece of advice. Take it for what you will. Piss off terrorists, piss off mobsters, piss off your president if you wish. But never ever piss off a microbiologist."
Frankly, he'd always thought Mercedes overdid the whole airbag thing. Sure, one in the front. Maybe ones on the sides. But that wasn't good enough for Mercedes, oh, no. They had them on both sides, front and back, top and in the middle. If you so much as hit a pole in a parking lot you were suddenly smothered in exploding balloons.
"Who the hell pulls Rangers out of trees with a helicopter?" Guerrin shouted back.
"Who said anything about Rangers?" the crewman yelled. "I usually pull pilots out of trees!"
"And because we are such good friends you can call me Cottontail."
"That is a very strange name," Marina said nervously.
"I am a very strange person."
"Done, sir!" Lisa said, practically popping her heels together. "Drop the ramp and alert the goats, sir!"
"Goats?" Mandrell asked.
"Nickname for the crew, sir," Jim said quickly.
"I'm so not going to ask," the colonel muttered.
"I'd prefer tequila," Tammy said, happily. "But I'll settle for beer."
"This isn't beer you settle for," Adams said. "This is beer you kill for."
Kacey's fighting style was a bit more eclectic, running in the direction of beating the hell out of people she didn't like.
"You're a spy master," Katya said in English, dropping the coquettishness.
"No, I am a master spy," Jay replied. "There is a difference. A spy master runs multiple spies but is not necessarily a good spy. A master spy is a master spy. …"
"What's the sub-basement like?"
"There's a reason we call it the dungeons."
"I'll stay here."
"Oh, great," Jay replied. "If ever I saw one stone psychopathic bitch of a killer . . ."
"That would be Katya," Mike said with a laugh. "You can handle that, right?"
"Oh, yeah," the intel specialist said. "I like psychopathic bitches. It describes every girlfriend I've ever had."
"… All you have to do is fall. You can fall, right?"
"Of course," Mike said. "I'd love a shower, though."
"Not a problem, sir," the man said. "We installed plumbing back in the early 1900s."
King David was best known for creating the first rule of gunfights, "always bring a gun," by defeating Goliath with a range weapon while poor Goliath was armed only with an over-large knife.
"Yeah," Adams said, uncomfortably.
"We gotta get the axe out of his hands."
"Look," Mike said. "We're carrying eight girls who look as if they're intended for immoral purposes, over sixty weapons, body armor, night vision goggles, entry tools, bugging tools, hacking tools and at least six remaining kilos of explosive. What's a couple of bodies to add to that?"
"Smell?" Adams asked.
"Get some dry ice."
Vlad Tepes was, in fact, a defender of Romania against incursions by the Ottoman Empire and was celebrated in Romania not as a blood-drinking monster but as a strong and willful leader of the anti-Ottoman forces, a sort of fifteenth century George Washington.
The fact that he occasionally ate his dinner while surrounded by hanged bodies was politely overlooked.
"… I need a favor from you guys."
"My wife, sure. My toothbrush, maybe. My knife, never," Adams said, grinning.
"Did you hear the one about the traveling former SEAL who got caught in a snowstorm?"
"No," Father Mahona said, puzzled.
"That's because we're living it," Mike replied. "When we get to the punch line, I'll tell you."
"Take off. You realize you're running away from a group of teenage girls?"
"Oh, certainly," Mike said, standing up and folding away the satellite phone. "Women are the root of all evil. And teenage girls haven't learned to use their power for good. There is a reason that harem doors had bolts on the outside."
"That will keep them out of mischief. Don't know what to do with the rest for the time being, but we'll find something, we will. Idle hands are the devil's doing and I do so love training. . . ."
"There are problems in life that cannot be solved by throwing money at them," Mike said, philosophically. "And then there are problems that can. …"
"An ambassador who watches The Princess Bride," Mike said, smiling. "Will wonders never cease."
"And I can walk and chew gum at the same time," Wilson said, nodding as he left.
"I'm buying guns, gear and soldiers," Mike said, chuckling. "Other than women, what's more fun to buy?"
But he liked wild countries like Georgia. They just had more soul than Peoria. Or New York, which thought it had soul but didn't realize it was butter substitute.
Stupid terrorists, water is for SEALs.
… Britney picked up one of the rifles.
"How do you use this?" she asked Amy.
"First of all," Amy said carefully, "you put the safety on."
"What's a safety?"
"Team," the pilot said a couple of minutes later. "There's an intermittent sound. We need to maintain EMCON; we're entering detection range!"
"Roman!" the chief snapped. "Wake up! And stay awake! You're snoring!"
"Can I at least be Flower?"
"No. You cannot be Flower. You are Thumper."
"… Remember, once the pin is out of Mr. Grenade, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend. …"
"We're inserting from a B-2?" Vahn asked. "I want to be clear about that. We're going to be loaded in the god damned bomb bay? Hooked in a rotating bomb release system and, what? Automatically ejected?"
"… So if you're going to continue to attend these briefings, first learn to read, second learn to listen and third, remove the word 'given' from your vocabulary. Otherwise it is 'given' that you will not enjoy yourself. Next question."
"Accepted. Done," the machine acknowledged.
"Fine. Fuck you."
"Command not understood."
He'd spend out of his own pocket to help cure a civilian from another culture, who was victim of a third nation's hostility during the Mtali conflict, but would willingly exterminate six billion people in warfare. He wondered how the man slept at night.
After spending long hours of the trip formulating a debate strategy for their goals, he wondered if the man did sleep.
"If your plan is working perfectly, you are about to lose."
War does not determine who is right. War determines who is left.
"Sure. You owe me. We have a saying in Freehold Military Forces. 'Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.' Next time I have a mysterious corpse, I'll be calling."
"… Once I start working with other people, they're going to figure out I'm talking to someone they can't see. Aren't they likely to think I'm just a teeny bit crazy when I do?"
"Well, of course they are!" Ben Belkassem looked at her in such obvious surprise she blinked. "Surely you didn't think that would be a problem?" Alicia simply stared at him, and he shook his head. "Alley, everyone in O Branch is crazy, or we wouldn't be here."
"As for myself, I don't pretend to know what's inside your mind. You might remember that conversation we had just before Soissons. I can accept that another entity, not just a delusion, has moved in with you. I just . . . have trouble with the idea of a Greek demigoddess or demon." He smiled a touch sheepishly. "I'm afraid it violates my own preconceptions."
Of course, Ferhat Ben Belkassem was an intelligent and infinitely resourceful agent—he knew he was, for it said so in his Justice Ministry dossier…
"Somebody get my bloody darts!" he snarled. "Maybe they can stop it!"
Stefan's bus was painted to match the Mystery Machine, which said a lot about the vampire it belonged to. Stefan told me that he'd briefly considered painting it black a few years ago when he started watching Buffy, but, in the end, he'd decided the vampire slayer was no match for Scooby Doo.
I thumped my hands down on the table and leaned forward. "That is not fair. I'll eat your dessert and like it—but you can't use sex to keep me from getting mad."
"How did you break your arm, Mercy?" he asked.
"A werewolf tossed me against a giant packing crate while I was trying to rescue a frightened young girl who'd been kidnapped by an evil witch and a drug lord."
"It sounds interesting," Stefan said. "I'll meet you at your garage."
See. Some people believe me.
"Now let me see. How would you wipe the mind of the bot and change its programming ... hmmm? You will be mine, little robots, for I am very clever and you are not."
"I'm going to need to get a security waiver, though," he added, trying not to smile.
"What's that?" Dr. Fines asked, seriously.
"We're going to have to get the Huntsville Hooters restaurant designated as a secure facility."
"Make sure those napkins are unclassified, Tom."
"I think the therapy is proceeding nicely," said Bean. "Now say three Hail Marys while we get on with our limited domestic concern, which involve attack helicopters and getting to Volescu before he makes another change of address and identity."
"Triple-aught steel shot and salt," she said fondly. "Packed 'em myself. Forget the Force. Trust in the spread of the gauge, Sam."
Too bad I can't ever find a lover it likes that much, he thought ironically. Of course, if I do, she'll probably like the car better than me. I can see it now—my girl and my car, taking off into the sunset without me.
The fence, and the cottage itself, were covered in roses–red, white, yellow, pink–and every single one of them was in full bloom.
Roses, Ria told the roses firmly, bloom in June, not November.
The roses were unimpressed.
See? the room almost seemed to say. It's okay to play around with bright colors. No Fashion Police here! And remember: Glitter is Good.
"So, Hosea, how'd you find out you were a Bard?"
"Eric told me," Hosea said, swallowing a mouthful of pizza. "I just thought I had a little shine, but I guess there's a name for everything. And you?"
"Oh, I brought somebody back from the dead, and things went on from there."
"… I think he can help you, and he owes me a favor. Beyond that, there are things that woman was not meant to know. …"
"You asked if I liked you a little," he corrected her. "And I don't. You're vain and self-centered and you may have killed a good man and you've yet to show any interest at all in Caleb's fete. I don't much like you at all."
"Yes, I know."
"Unfortunately," he went on with no change of expression, "like it or not—and believe me, I'm not at all happy about the situation—I do seem to love you. Not," he said almost gently, "that it'll do either of us much good, under the circumstances. But I did think you ought to know."
"You'd think a young man of High Families stock, with a good education and a family eager to help him get started in a worthwhile profession, could find some better career than playing synthocom in a dusty bar on the wrong side of town, wouldn't you?"
It was clearly a rhetorical question. Sev nodded his head in agreement.
"So," said the only honest man on Kailas, "so would I. But evidently my son is of a different opinion."
"I came to Kailas because it was the nearest world with any CDS representatives high-ranking enough to deal with my problem. And I approached you because you have the reputation of being one of the two Central Worlds officials on this planet who cannot be bribed, threatened, or suborned."
"So you found two honest men, my Diogenes? I'm flattered."
"That would have been your trachea," Rachel added calmly. "So in my professional medical opinion, you're going to die of lack of respiration before you bleed to death."
"Yep, you're the new command master chief of the Naval Training Facility. Congratulations."
"No fisking way," the chief said, hiccupping again. "NO WAY!"
"Yes way," Herzer replied. "See you day after tomorrow, bright and early at headquarters. Not too early; later for that."
"I can't b-believe a friend would do this to me!" the chief said, sniffing and taking a sip of his beer. "This calls for getting really drunk."
"You'll love it," Herzer promised. "Bright young men and women who don't know the first thing about how to tie a knot. And you get to teach them."
"Oh, fisk," the chief sobbed. "Really, really drunk. You bastard."
"Yep," Herzer grinned. "Gotta go now. Day after tomorrow. Don't be late."
"No plan survives contact with the enemy, Herzer."
"No sir," Herzer said, smiling faintly. "That's why they call them the enemy, sir."
"… You can't always count on your enemies being stupid, but it's nice when they are."
"Oh, goody," Herzer said. "Now you're going to give the newbie the unrideable horse."
"Not at all," Kane said seriously. "That's a stupid trick; we can't afford any more injuries than we've already had. Diablo is gentle as a lamb."
"Look, we've got nearly sixty horses to name, you run out."
"Rachel, you've long wanted to be treated like an adult," Edmund replied without turning around. "Welcome to being treated like an adult. We could treat you like a child and tell you to leave if you wish."
Rachel opened her mouth to reply hotly then snapped it shut.
"Okay, I had that coming," she admitted. "But let me point out that you're my mother and father. Maybe I am too young to handle some conversations because discussions of my father's penis size is definitely one of them. Okay?"
"… So, to you humans, yes, reality is plush children's toys."
"She's daddy's nightmare," the SEAL groused. "Daughters are nature's revenge on fathers. She's already got a string of boyfriends. She's going to be impossible when she's a teenager. I'm seriously thinking about putting her in a barrel when she turns twelve and not letting her out until she's eighteen and no longer my problem."
"Be a pretty messy barrel," the physicist pointed out. "Maybe with a mesh bottom? And rinse it out once a week?"
"Primary communications link down," Corporal Ludjevit said tersely. "Secondary down, too. Sergeant, we're cut off."
"Find out why!" Gunnar said. "Shit, can't we communicate at all?"
"Only if you want to use a phone," Ludjevit told her.
"Then use the fucking phone!"
"Today, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to demonstrate how to smear a group of heavily armed mobsters and retreat before the police arrive," he added in a fast, high, weird voice. "Failure to properly plan and conduct the operation will result in severe penalties," he added in a deep, somber baritone. "If any of the members of your organization are captured, or killed, the department will disavow all knowledge of your existence. This van will selfdestruct in five seconds."
"Could somebody please shut him up?" Clovis said from the seat next to Dave. "Before we're one short on the mission?"
"We got both buildings," he said.
"Mmm . . ."
"Good prices, too."
"Mmmmmm . . ."
"The warehouse looks like it's in pretty good shape."
"The restaurant needs a lot of work, but he thinks it can be ready in time."
"Sorry. Are you trying to sleep?"
"I'm a woman. I've got the right to change my mind. Write that on your hand."
"You don't pock with the Dark Lord of the Sixth," Julian said.
"A miss is as good as a mile."
"And just what," Beach asked, "is a 'mile'?"
"No idea," Roger answered. "But whatever it is, it's as good as a miss."
"Oh, they have them," the intelligence sergeant replied. "They just don't get noticed."
"They're empaths," she protested quietly. "How could empaths have a war?"
"You've obviously never had a Jewish mother-in-law," Julian told her under his breath.
"Just imagine the stories you'll be able to tell in the NCO club. You'll never have to buy a beer again."
Julian looked back up at the trackless mountain and nodded.
"Now there's a motivator. Free beer. Free beer. I'll just keep repeating that."
"… I look forward to examining this 'boobytrap'. And the next human you talk to, please ask it what a 'booby' is before you eat it."
"… The ACS will provide you with close infantry support. Use the slope of the ground for hull down fire; it is, I am told, almost perfect for it. Try not to hit New York City. Is this understood?"
"Tommy Sunday," she whispered, flicking his ear with her tongue, "if you don't take off your pants right now, I'm going to cap you with your own Glock."
"Right," laughed Keene again. Then he looked puzzled. "Hey, why are we in the Crowne Plaza instead of the Berkley Hotel? It's right next door to the Richbrau."
"Cyberpunks. They got there first. One of the laws of SpecOps: never mix Cybers and SF, it just doesn't work."
"What the hell are Cyberpunks doing in Richmond?"
" . . . and never ask Cybers what they're doing anywhere."
"Well," said Captain Jackson, shaking his head at the Fleet Strike officer's vehemence, "congratulations, you have one last chance to get them to see the light."
"Captain, did you ever read 'The Country of the Blind'?"
"Well, the one-eyed man did not become king!"
"Okay," Kidd gasped.
"Can I go in now?" asked Mike, maintaining a grip.
"Will you let go if I say, 'Yes'?"
"There's gonna be plenty of targets to go around."
"My point was not lack of targets, sir."
"Most murders involve relatives!" she rebutted.
"My father is far too professional to murder family. All of his murders are quick, discreet and untraceable to him."
"And here I thought you wanted an adventurous life."
"And so I do, Gwendolyn. A life full of drama and romance and high adventure. Reasonable adventures. Rescuing fair maidens from ogres. Slaying dragons in their lairs. Storming the gates of hell. Not–I repeat, not–suicidal acts involving puppies the size of timber wolves."
The groundcar driver, after a look at Venezia's ID, had driven as if they not only owned the road but had proprietary rights to a sizable volume of space above and on either side of it.
Two aunts! Three, if you counted aunt admiral. She felt outnumbered and very much outgunned.
Amazing how all those unauthorized and illegal changes to Sweet Delight now made sense, in light of her pretense to have been on undercover assignment. She was going to be really angry if it turned out her aunt admiral had diddled with her memory and she only thought she'd been forced to resign.
"You're planning to walk onto his ships and just take over?" Meharry asked. "Just say 'Please, Commodore, I think you're a traitor, and I'm taking over'?"
"Something like that," Heris said with a grin.
"And you expect him to agree?"
"I expect him to die," Heris said.
"Even George, I'm sure, has better things to do than make your lives miserable."
"Many better things," George said, in the tone of earnestness with which the salesman assures you the item in question is worth twice its price, and only the serious illness of his grandmother allows him to consider such a sacrifice as the present sale.
"… I'll pass the test, that's all. Didn't you ever know anyone who could pass tests but flunked real life?"
"By golly, we're getting close to getting him civilized, aren't we?"
"'Close' only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and tactical nuclear weapons, My Lady," LaFollet replied gravely.
The Church of Humanity Unchained was not exceptionally well known for turning the other cheek, but Father Church did teach that to assail a fool for being foolish was to assail the wind for being air.
"So that's it!" Ginny Usher's voice was shrill with fury, her hot eyes sweeping over the La Martine delegation.
"Victor Cachat is the sweetest kid in the world! And you—" She was practically spitting like a cat. "You dirty rotten bastards! You were mean to him."
He'd read the ancient quip, that if Satan ever seized Heaven he'd have no choice but to take on God's characteristics. Now, he was realizing that the converse was true: If God ever took over the management of Hell, He'd make a damn good Devil himself.
Just so, he was darkly certain, had Napoleon's jailor felt whenever the emperor beat him at checkers on St. Helena. Again.
Yuri sighed. There were times–had been for many years, now–when he felt like a sheep running with the wolves. And wondering when someone was finally going to notice that his moon-howl was distinctly off-key.
Cathy's jaw sagged. Glaring, Jeremy sprang to his feet. "What? Did you really think I took any pleasure in killing all the people I have? Did you now?"
He didn't wait for a response. "Of course I did! Enjoyed it immensely, in fact. Especially the ones I could show my tongue to before I blew 'em apart. To hell with that business about revenge being a dish best served cold. It's absolute nonsense, Cathy-take my word for it. I know. Vengeance is hot and sweet and tasty. Don't ever think it isn't."
She flashed her visitor a jittery grin. "You'll have to pardon my language. I know I curse too much. Can't help it. Comes from being forced through snooty private schools when I was a youngster. Maybe that's why I'm such a rebellious creature." She pranced back to her chair and flung herself into it. "That's what my parents' psychologists said, anyway. Personally, I think they're full of shit."
"That's just how the army works, sir," said the corporal, obviously by way of further explanation.
Fitz had to admit that there was quite a lot of truth in this. "We're going to get courtmartialed, you know."
"Yes, sir. That's unfortunate, sir."
"Most humans aren't natural killers. You can make them into soldiers, though. Humans will fight bravely, using the skills you train into them. You can either bring them up from the cradle to do this, in which case you have samurai. Or you can make soldiers in six weeks. They won't be anything like as good as samurai, but it is quicker. But to do that they have to get you into a state of physical and mental exhaustion, in which old habits are forgotten. The soldier doesn't think anymore. He just has to obey. Obey unconditionally."
In a boot camp not far from hell . . .
In fact the sign in the middle of the camp read "Hell, 3km back."
"Marcus, I am the property of Shelomin Serendip, the Director of United Earth Intelligence. She destroyed half the armies of Eastersea to acquire me and she owns me as you own your shoes."
"Come to bed, Marcus. Get at least some sleep before they send an escort for you to take you to see this beautiful Earther again."
He sat down on the edge of the bed. "I didn't say she was beautiful."
"You did. You said she looked like your sisters. Your sisters," said Jhana mildly, "are almost as pretty as you are ... though not quite."
"The one advantage of Science is that it enables us, where it is applicable, to reach Truth. Truth is the goal, my friend, and Science is one means of reaching Truth, where Science applies. Don't forget your quest. You are seeking Truth. Don't mistake the means for the goal."
Tom summoned all his thought, all his ability to speak, and came out with the best excuse he could craft. "It wasn't me," he said. "It was the dragons."
"… You can listen while driving. You lose viewers really fast when they watch while they're driving."
"You're born, you take shit, get out in the world, take shit, you climb higher, take less shit. The higher you climb the less shit you take, Until one day you get up in the rarefied atmosphere, and you've forgotten what shit looks like. Welcome to the Layer Cake son."
She sighed. "You know, some people are 'the glass is half full' kind of folk and others tend toward 'the glass is half empty' sort . . ." She waited.
I obliged reluctantly: "And which am I?"
"You're more along the lines of the glass is chipped and dirty and the water is probably laced with toxic waste."
Wars come and go, but my soldiers stay eternal.
Cosmopolitanism is Maturity's eccentric brother; the bohemian uncle who drops by with weird gifts for the kids and lots of strange stories. Aunt Frailty wants to throw away the shrunken heads and the brass lamp with naked people on it, and tries to put the kids to bed early before Cosmo has had a few and starts talking about his visit to the Yoshiwara and the time he ate dog. But Mother Maturity lets the kids listen from the stairs and secretly pulls the gifts out of the trash before collection day. Maturity certaintly keeps an wary eye on Cosmo. On the other hand, she doesn't want her kids to turn out to be dullards, like their cousins.
Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. Don't assign to stupidity what might be due to ignorance. And try not to assume your opponent is the ignorant one -- until you can show it isn't you.
"So what if your system lets you watch movies and TV, listen to music and play games? My system cures cancer."
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
When I was growing up, my parents told me, "Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving." I tell my daughters, "Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job."
Moran's Rule of 90: 90% competency is the place where professionalism appears. A 90% competent writer can produce fiction worth reading -- no glaring errors in form, characterization, or dialog. Somebody, somewhere, will probably publish it. You can reach 90% with a couple of years hard work in most artistic fields, if you have any native talent at all. You will then spend the rest of your life mastering the remaining 10%.
Sometimes it just takes too much work to care about things. It almost always takes too much time. It would be much easier to be self centered, shallow, and apathetic. But I just couldn't live with a soul like that.
"People are smart, they can handle it."
"A person is smart. People are dumb, dangerous, panicky, stupid animals and you know it. 1500 years ago everyone knew the Earth was the center of the Universe, 500 years ago everyone knew the Earth was flat, 15 minutes ago you knew that we were alone in the Universe. Imagine what you will know tomorrow."
"… Never keep a lawyer waiting. They have friends in low and infernal places."
This is getting awkward, especially because I want to lick her head.
On the matter of religion, it may have been rightly said that, if God had meant us to vote, She would have sent us candidates.
"Humanity," said Trent, "is overrated. One of my friends is a replicant AI. Another's a genie. Another's a completely normal human who's studying to become a lawyer. Ask me which one I trust most."
Lan leaned back on his side of the seat. "You don't kill people and you don't have sex with boys." He examined Trent curiously. "Honestly, you're the craziest thing I ever saw."
Trent said, "You mean you never saw one of those guys who ties up balloons into the shapes of animals?"
"How are we doing, Chief?"
"We have True Wisdom, Divine Speed, and Maximum Justice."
"What does that mean?"
Trent opened his eyes and looked at her. "We are, this fine diurnal period-"
"-kicking serious ass. We are green across the board. The system likes me a lot. And I am awful damn fond of it, too. We have Total Mutual Respect and Admiration."
Melissa looked amused despite herself. "You computerists are such . . .such . . ."
"Nerds," Trent said. "I think that's the word you're looking for."
"You are not a nerd," said Melissa.
Trent laughed. "Of course I am. You think anyone spends the tens of thousands of hours I've spent doing work like this unless they love it?" Trent looked at the board, green all the way across, and grinned again. "I'm a nerd and you bet I love what I do. I am so damn good at it."
"An `oz'," Chandler explained carefully, "was an ounce. It was an abbreviation for ounce."
"Oh . . . nothing to do with Dorothy, then?" Trent asked curiously.
"Not that I know of." Chandler paused. "You could look all this stuff up, you know. In your case it wouldn't be hard."
"Sure," Trent agreed. "But then what? There I'd be, with my head crammed full of useless information." He shook his head, that was not crammed full of useless information. "Limited protein storage capacity, Frank. You have to keep these things in perspective."
"Mommy, the cats are fighting again."
"Those aren't cats, they're ferrets."
"But they look like cats..."
"They're ferrets, now shut up and go to bed."
"… Seeing as nothing horrible has happened to me yet, is it okay with you if I just keep looking? Don't look at me that way."
It is time for bed; go to your cupboard.
Yet the others must chatter and chatter. Humans, Firekeeper thought in fond exasperation, surely must be kin to squirrels.
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat, "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
The meek might indeed one day inherit the Earth, but Outer Space was evidently reserved for the anal-retentive.
… but the problem in my opinion is that then you're actually kind of controlling the news rather than just covering it.
"Surely," said Sepp, "it cannot be so simple as that."
"Details," said Hobart. "That's why God invented engineers."
What use wonders, if no one wondered?
Were Machiavelli alive today, he would be a management consultant. And a damned good one, too.
"So," I said slowly, "in order to prevent the PKF from declaring martial law at Halfway, we're going to bring the circus to town."
Marc said evenly,"Yes."
"That is the silliest thing I ever heard in my life."
"It's the truth, Neil."
"That is the only reason I believe it."
… It was titled Proud Vengeance: The Writings of Ifahad. K'Aillae were alternately amused and offended by the title. Their strongly worded suggestion for change resulted in a second edition with the title Sensible Vengeance: The Writings of Ifahad.
Rho! Etra shivat elor ko'obay k'shia, vata elor ko'obay shiebran. Enshia, denesstra.
Translated from shiata to english: Behold! We are the countenance that is turned to the cold eternal darkness; the face that is turned to the shadows of the night. In nightways I am your doom.
Doctor Death nods. "Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not understanding. Understanding is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty and beauty is not love and love is not music. Music is the best.
"Everything," said Trent, "costs a great deal. And when it doesn't it ends up costing more."
"You're a nice boy. Lay back and shut up. This is going to hurt."
In response to a question from the newsdancer she said with obvious sarcasm, "Sure I believe what I've been told. Three kids had a firefight with twenty-odd PKF, wounded thirteen of them including an Elite." The holocams stayed on her, and after a moment the woman snorted. "And one of them had a squirt gun. Right."
The Crystal Wind is the Storm, and the Storm is Data, and the Data is Life.
--The Players Litany
"You don't have a weapon," Trent said conclusively. "I'm stronger than you are, smarter than you are, younger than you are, and a hell of a lot more desperate than you are; I know kung fu, karate, aikido, shotokan, judo, and lots of other Asian words, so would you please shut up?"
"They'll have us surrounded," Honor said evenly, remembering an old, old quote. "This time they won't get away."
When Ola points a gun at someone, she wants that person to understand instantly that there is right end and a wrong end to this gun, and that this someone is on the wrong end.
Be the shoe.
We may be young, but we're not powerless. We play by their rules long enough and it becomes our game.
"Everything is under control," Trent said. "Everything is cool. In fact," he said, "we are cool. Cool, young, hip, and in control."
Trent could hear the quote marks around the word. "`Hip'? I don't think I know that slang."
"It's like cool," said Trent, "but it requires more work."
"More work," Melissa said.
"Well, that's not accurate actually," said Trent thoughtfully. "Being cool requires no work. Mostly it requires detachment. You can be cool and not care about being cool. Being hip requires both style and effort. You can't be hip without working at it."
"Anyone who studies history eventually comes up against the same cruel irony, Jared. Man has probably spent more time killing his fellows 'in God's name' than for any other single reason. Look at our own Civil War, or those lunatics on Masada." He sighed. "I know He loves us, but we must be a terrible disappointment to Him from time to time."
"There are some fundamental problems, like the speed of light."
To the living we owe courtesy; to the dead, only truth.
This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.
Forget trying to pass for normal. Follow your geekdom. Embrace your nerditude. In the immortal words of Lafcadio Hearn, a geek of incredible obscurity whose work is still in print after a hundred years, "Woo the muse of the odd." You may be a geek. You may have geek written all over you. You should aim to be one geek they'll never forget. Don't aim to be civilized. Don't hope that straight people will keep you on as some kind of pet. To hell with them. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird, and don't do it halfway. Put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it. Don't become a well rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish.
"Trust your God, Kaid, that's what you told me. He's got work for you, for us. Changing our world, you said. Did you really think He'd leave you out of the center of the picture?"
"No, I have to admit I didn't."
"I am your enemy, the first one you've ever had who was smarter than you. There is no teacher but the enemy. No one but the enemy will ever tell you what the enemy is going to do. No one but the enemy will ever teach you how to destroy and conquer. Only the enemy shows you where you are weak. Only the enemy tells you where he is strong. And the rules of the game are what you can do to him and what you can stop him from doing to you. I am your enemy from now on. From now on, I am your teacher."
Physical beauty is fleeting, and all too often only surface deep; it is the beauty of the heart and mind which runs deep and lasts for life.
"Religion is tied to the deepest feelings people have. The love that arises from that stewing pot is the sweetest and strongest, but the hate is the hottest, and the anger is the most violent."
"If they were servants by nature," said Colon, " you wouldn't have to beat them to get them to obey. It's a brave man who beats a little child. They'll no doubt write songs about your courage."
"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one."
Everybody dies. What matters is what you do between now and when it happens to you.
Analyzing things was fine, but good reflexes could save your life.
Quentin immediately quoted: "'Whenever I hear you saying, Rise and shine, rise and shine, it makes me think how lucky dead people are!'"
Sometimes it was very nice to have money and lawyers. Why ordinary people didn't strangle arrogant bureaucrats more often, Quentin didn't know.
"We have to go. I'm almost happy here."
"Your mother surrounds you every moment," she said. "I know, because I feel her love for you in my own arms, around you now."
He luxuriated in the sound of high language well spoken.
"… the story the oversoul tells me fits all the facts that I see. Your story, in which I'm endlessly deceived, can also explain all those facts. I have no way of knowing that your story is not true-but you have no way of knowing that my story isn't true. So I will choose the one that I love. I will choose the one that, if it's true, makes this reality one worth living in. I'll act as if the life I hope for is real life,and the life that disgusts me-your life, your view of life-is the lie."
"Then I'll tell the truth. We're allowed to do that in emergencies. We can't plan for everything, you know."
Quentin had never been beaten up. He had, however, seen the Rodney King tape.
Oops, I thought. Oops is an all-purpose word standing for every bit of profanity, blasphemy, and pornographic and scatological execration I could think of.
"Doesn't it make you wonder about your own sexual identity, not to mention your sanity, that the two women you love are, respectively, a virtual woman existing only in the transient ansible connections between computers and a woman whose soul is in fact that of a man who is the husband of your mother?"
"… Christians have been expecting the imminent end of the world for millennia."
"But it keeps not ending."
"So far, so good."
"… if he was a good man, how could he leave me? So he must not be a good man. But if he isn't good, then why does it hurt so much to lose him?"
Forget it, Mazer. I don't care if I pass your test, I don't care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won't let you beat me unfairly - I'll beat you unfairly first.
Well, I'm your man. I'm the bloody bastard you wanted when you had me spawned. I'm your tool, and what difference does it make if I hate the part of me that you most need? What difference does it make that when the little serpents killed me in the game, I agreed with them, and was glad.
Like running the hurdles. Work so hard, jump over every one, fast, high enough but no higher, because you can't afford to hang in the air. And then, when the race is over, you're dripping with sweat, either they beat you or you beat them ... and then a couple of guys come out and move the hurdles out of the way. Turns out they were nothing. All that work to jump over them, but now they're gone.
"Please don't disillusion me. I haven't had breakfast yet."
"We could live forever, if we were willing to be stupid the whole time."
"Surely you're not saying that God had to choose between long life and intelligence for human beings!"
"It's there in your own Bible, Carlotta. Two trees - knowledge and life. You eat of the tree of knowledge, and you will surely die. You eat of the tree of life, and you remain a child in the garden forever, undying."
And it came into Hooch's mind that when both parties are lying and they both know the other party's lying, it comes powerful close to being the same thing as telling the truth.
The great forces of history were real, after a fashion. But when you examined them closely, those great forces always came down to the dreams and hungers and judgments of individuals. The choices they made were real. They mattered.
"If human beings are all monsters, why should I sacrifice anything for them?"
"Because they are beautiful monsters…, And when they live in a network of peace and hope, when they trust the world and their deepest hungers are fulfilled, then within that system, that delicate web, there is joy. That is what we live for, to bind the monsters together, to murder their fear and give birth to their beauty."
"I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves."
Only one rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation. So, of course, we killed him.
"Heroes occur because someone makes a mistake.
We don't want any heroes today."
"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."
"Neither assassins nor gelatinous cubes are particularly effective at obtaining complex answers. 'I'll do whatever you want, please don't kill me' perhaps, but not much else."
"Depends on how skilled the assassin, or how jiggly the gelatin"