And Man said, Let the Kingdoms bring forth abundantly
the Generals that hath troops
and priests that may bless the bodies in the mud
And Man created great Wars
and every little skirmish that was fought
which the kingdoms brought forth abundantly,
and every battle after its own kind,
and man thought that it was good
And the Priests blessed them,
saying, Be ruthless and slaughter
and fill the land with blood,
that the seeds may be nourished in the earth
And it was the morning and the evening of the Fifth Age
And Man said, Let us make Governments in our own image,
and let them have dominion over the food we eat
and the people we love
and the words we speak
and over all the Earth
and over every living thing that abideth on the Earth
So Man created systems in his own image,
in the image of fear he created them,
Eastern and Western created he them,
And Man blessed them, saying be fruitful and multiply
and pollute the Earth, and destroy it,
and poison the plankton of the Sea and the ozone of the Air
and every living thing that abideth on the Earth
And Man saw everything he had made, and it was Not Good
And it was the morning and the evening of the Sixth Age
Poems for Earth
The once great city,
flooded and ruined, and yet
its beating heart lives.
Anais had to swing about and approach the city from the north to avoid the skyscrapers still standing on Central Manhattan Island, and the forbidden airspace above the Citadel. She sped at low altitude over vast refuse-dumps, where families in rags picked through the garbage, not even pausing to look up as the ship roared overhead. Their tin-and-tarpaper shacks surrounded the dumps; ragged children and emaciated dogs ran in the muddy streets.
"This is Anais Nin," said Loris, "requesting permission to land at Sheepmeadow."
"We recognize Anais Nin," a voice replied. "Back again so soon, Lor?"
"We've got more equipment for the dig, plus another archaeologist and his assistants."
"Okay, Anais Nin, you are cleared to land at Sheepmeadow."
They dropped out of the sky above the Hudson River and sped over the ruined, teeming city.
"It's funny," Terry said, peering through the port, "how the fantasy class always take the high ground."
Much of New York had been flooded by rising sea-levels in the last century, despite phenomenal engineering attempts to stop it, and the kilometres of dilapidated brick tenements built in previous centuries had either been pounded to pieces by the waves or purposely removed as navigation hazards. Manhattan was reduced to half its size and divided into three smaller islands, two natural and one artificial. Karil gazed in fascination at the city below.
Upper Manhattan was a collection of walled enclaves perched on cliffs overlooking the river, each with its own police force and solar-power collector grid, including the Tryon Cloister, where the richest of all dwelt in luxury comparable to the Lagrange colonies. The island was surrounded by the sampan-city of the very poor; thousands of rickety boats bobbed in sewage-filled waters where Harlem tenements had once loomed above brick-strewn lots. On the sampans, official police protection was nonexistent, and the local blood-lords ruled with a combination of drugs, extortion, and fear.
Central Island was larger and wider, and its walled enclaves resembled imperial cities or medieval castles surrounded by peasant villages, still bearing prestigious archaic names. Columbia Campus rose like an Acropolis above the tar-paper shacks and Bedouin-style tents that surrounded it, and Lincoln Centre resembled a Roman colonial market town surrounded by barbarian huts. Great Museums like Metropolitan Art and Natural History had been turned into estate houses complete with spacious farms in what had once been Central Park. Skyscraper complexes like Rockefeller and Chrysler-Pan Am stood like Art Deco fairytale castles, their cloud-draped spires towering above thick walls and portcullis gates, or moats conveniently provided by the flooded streets.
The drier streets were teeming with tents and shacks and crowded markets. The towers rose from the mass of humanity like tree-trunks rising from piles of autumn leaves, holding their soundproofed, air-conditioned heads above the miasma of sounds and smells swirling below. Empire State marked the southern end of the island like a hundred-story lighthouse, the waters lapping at its feet. Beyond, the bay stretched half a dozen kilometres to the greatest castle of all--the Wall Street Citadel. The towers thrust menacingly from the mist sweeping in from the sea, and the smaller buildings at their feet loomed in the fog like the crenulated walls of a medieval fortress. Somewhere in the high-tech dungeons of that fortress, Progeny languished, and looking at it, Karil wondered how the hell they could even think of laying siege to the place.
Anais Nin swept over Central Farms and descended upon Sheepmeadow Pad at the southern end of what had once been a vast park. There were a handful of shuttles and other spacecraft parked nearby, clustered mainly about a nearby tavern.
"No conversation, Annie," said Loris. "We're taking the rover to the dig, where we can plan our next move in privacy."
"Understood, Lor. I would avoid Times Square, however. There is another riot in progress."
The cargo hatch descended and Atty rolled out. The crew and passengers climbed aboard the rover and made their way slowly through the teeming streets, the strange craft barely attracting attention in the mass of trucks and jitneys, wagons and dogcarts, camels and horses about them. Karil watched in awe; the place bellowed and clattered and stank; he marvelled at the contrast with the sedate and quiet estate villages of High Africa. This was more like a human wildebeest herd. High above, rickety bridges of rope and bamboo stretched between buildings, creating what seemed to be additional layers of city and casting the lowest layers in dappled light and shadow, like a rain-forest floor.
They passed through the deeper shadows of enclave castles now and then, where the lower windows of lesser buildings had been bricked up to create watchtowers; high walls surrounded the greater structures within, creating private courtyards of what had once been public parks. The streets below the walls were dank and dark, lit only by the occasional shaft of light in which the smoke of cooking fires swirled forlornly. They carefully detoured about Times Square Harbour, a low-lying canal district where sampan-mounted markets and brothels bobbed in the garish light of neon signs adorning neo-gothic steel buildings. Even from two streets away they could hear the noise: shouted slogans, police sirens, a throaty growl as of a many-headed beast, but the only problem they ran into was a peaceful gathering on one street-corner, in which a party of Lennonites were chanting: "Love is all you need." The crowd surrounded the vehicle and for a moment it seemed as if they could not push through.
"I’ll handle this," Shagrug said. He opened the forward hatch and leaned out. "Give peace a chance, Brothers, give peace a chance." The crowd parted to let them through, and the rover moved on. Finally, they arrived at the dig.
Beside the pillared ruins of the library building was a terraced pit, surrounded by chain-link fence and filled with people digging and sifting within a grid pattern of laser beams. The guard at the gate recognized Loris and allowed the rover to roll onto the site. It came to a halt in a muddy lot beside a collection of tents, and the passengers swung down out of the hatch.
The tall, red-bearded figure that Karil recognized as Professor Kelley poked his head out of a tent-flap and came forward. "Loris, Johanna, any luck?" He saw Shagrug. "I guess this must be him. And you're Karil, Jay's friend. He's down in the catacombs, as we call them." He shook hands and smiled at Terry. "This one, however, is a pleasant surprise."
"This is Terry," said Loris. "She came in a package with Shag and Karil. Prof, we've got a helluva story for you. But it's not over, apparently. These guys could use some good food and a bit of rest; they've been through Hell."
"Then let me make you welcome. The mess-tent is this way." As they followed him, he gestured toward the dig about them. "This is the New York Public, which was once the second largest library in America. The building itself has been in ruins for a long time, but it lends a certain classical air to the place, don't you think? This area was Bryant Park; it filled up with rubble and debris during the war years, when terrorist bombings and shelling from offshore batteries destroyed many of the nearby buildings, and the squatters built shacks among the rubble. I'm afraid we had to evict some of them, but we hired a lot for the digging crew, and I think we've been forgiven. The sub-basement archives and bomb-shelter stacks built in later years were pretty much forgotten, and it's only lately that anyone got permission to dig here. Already we've found antique computer records and, perhaps even more valuable, the equipment to read them. We've even found some paper books in readable condition."
"Karil!" Jay climbed out of a hole and waved. He came forward, covered in dirt, and embraced Karil. "Christ, we were worried! When Loris said you were missing with Shagrug... You're Shagrug, I suppose. Glad to meet..."
Jay fell into confusion at the sight of Terry, and she laughed in spite of herself. "I'm Terry," she said. "Karil's mentioned you."
Loris turned to Johanna. "Well, Jo, that's only the second time in five minutes she's made some male forget all about you."
"I know, Lor. Maybe I should keep an eye on you, too."
"All right, children," said the Professor. "Into the mess tent. There's obviously some kind of interplanetary game afoot here, and I want to know what the hell it is."
"Wait a second," said the Professor, after several minutes of chaotic explanation, interspersed with the ravenous wolfing of food. "Have you been talking about Doctor Progeny Brown of the Institute of Sociological Studies?"
"Yes," said Terry, though the others looked astonished.
"The author of The Theory of the Fantasy Class?"
Kelley threw up his hands. "Now I understand. So, let's get this straight: he's in a jail cell, somewhere in that Byzantine monstrosity they call the Citadel, with a chip in his brain that can kill him at the push of a button, and your plan is to walk in there and spirit him away from under the noses of some two or three hundred Quasi-Police and several thousand High Company bureaucrats. Is that about right?"
"Yes," said Karil. "That's about right."
The Professor turned to Shagrug and Loris. "What about you two? Do you think there's the slightest chance of accomplishing this magic trick?"
"It may be possible," Shagrug said. "I have contacts here..."
"Of course you do," Loris snorted.
Shagrug glared at her. "I do know someone from the Old Days who’s been inside. The last I heard, he was out again, and still in Nueva York. He might be able to help. But getting inside without being detected..." He shrugged.
"If you guys come up with a plan," Loris added, "Jo and I can take a look at it. On the face of it, we don't have a hell of a lot going for us, except our own determination to succeed. Jo and I have some Ninja training that might come in handy, and we've been in a few, shall we say, comparable situations. Shag's about the toughest sonofabitch I know, and I swear Atty's taught him how to smell danger. These two kids are obviously motivated; Terry's as devoted as a Martian clan-mother, and Karil's obviously so head over heels..."
"I know how to get into the Citadel," Jay said quietly.
All eyes turned to him, and he shrank back in discomfort at being the centre of attention. "What was that?" Loris demanded.
"We've broken into a maze of subterranean tunnels: old subways, water mains, sewers, escape tunnels apparently dug by the city's defenders during the last war. We might be able to sneak in under the Citadel's submarine defences, through one of the sewage outlet pipes."
The Professor was astonished. "You never mentioned any of this."
Jay shrugged. "You know I like to work quietly."
"You're telling us," Shagrug said, "that there are tunnels extending right into the Citadel."
"Most of them would be flooded, but with the proper gear..." He took out his pocket memo, set it in the centre of the table, and tapped a few keys. A bewildering array of multi-coloured lines flickered into view in the air over the table. About the only thing that Karil recognized, and that vaguely, was the subway system he’d read about in history class.
"This is a plan of Lower Manhattan about the time the Citadel was being built." Jay tapped some more keys. "This is a nautical chart of the artificial island, and the underwater construction surrounding the Citadel; the information was made public so ships can chart a course well away from it. As you can see by comparing the two maps, the Citadel’s outlet pipes flow directly into the old Lexington Avenue subway tunnel."
"Do I know how to pick my students, or what?" Kelley beamed. "This is exquisite."
"It might get us into the Citadel," said Loris, "but getting back out again is another matter entirely."
Jay shrugged. "Still, it’s worth going down there and exploring. I’d never forgive myself if I did nothing for this great man. I’m willing to try just for the chance to meet him."
Terry placed her hand on his. "Thank you, Jay," she said.
Jay blushed and fell into confusion again.
Karil and Jay sat on the edge of the pit, sipping cold beers and looking across the now deserted dig as the shadows of the surrounding castles lengthened. They could see the makeshift showers where Terry was washing her hair behind a translucent curtain, and both pretended they could not see her silhouette in the setting sun. They looked up as Johanna sat down beside them.
"According to tradition," Johanna said, "she picks a second husband of her own age when she's thirty, in Earth years, for the purpose of making babies. So, you've got about ten years to go. Though, in fact, she can do whatever she pleases, and no one will criticize her."
"What? Oh, you're talking about Terry." They shrugged and shook their heads in a vain attempt to pretend they had not been watching her.
"Yeah, right. Anyway, Lor and I are heading down the Costa, to pick up some underwater exploration equipment. Top of the line; scrubs your exhaled breath, re-charges it with oxygen and feeds it back to you. Apparently, you can stay submerged for hours. Shag wants to see you, Karil, in the rover."
Karil handed his beer to Johanna to finish and made his way to the vehicle. Shagrug waved him to the trundle bed, and he lay down. In a few minutes, his head was covered in sensors, and he was looking at his brain on the screen. The image was replaced by a subtronic wiring diagram and a complex readout of numbers.
"That's what I thought," said Shagrug. "I've compared the chips they put in our brains--you, me, and Terry--and there are recognizable similarities. Included is a tracer circuit, detectable within a hundred meters or so. Just to be on the safe side, Atty’s disengaged mine and Terry’s, and we’ll disengage yours now. Assuming they haven't removed Progeny's, and I don't see why Solla would do that, Atty and I can build a device to find him. The only problem is that it's easily scrambled by interference--you were able to block the signal with a few layers of aluminium foil, after all--and the prison wing at the Citadel must be filled with alarms and locks and monitoring equipment of all kinds. If we could cut off power in the cellblock, not only could we avoid tripping any alarms, but Proj would stand out like a beacon."
"Power for the Citadel is supplied by microwave from orbit," Atty said. "The rectenna is in open water, heavily protected with alarms and guards, and supported by hundreds of lunacrete pillars. Hard to sabotage."
"If Anais could get me to the orbital transmitter at GEO-4," Karil speculated, "I could turn the lights off at the source."
"What do you mean?" Shagrug said.
"High Company mentality: everything is controlled from orbit. I still have my security clearance. I could turn off the lights, scramble their communications, and sabotage the computers so no one could fix them for hours. Might take me all of ten minutes."
"Yes, but you’re talking about attacking and seizing a powersat."
"There’s very little internal security. There are very few people, in fact. Docking without clearance would be pretty much impossible, but I have clearance, and once you set foot in the place a couple of people could take it over, if one of them has the knowledge and the security codes."
"It’s a grid. They could put another SPOT online."
"Not if they don’t know anything’s wrong. Unless someone sets off an alarm or a mayday, no one in the system will know it’s down, except those on the ground at the Citadel, and they’ll be incommunicado. Anyone who happens to communicate with the powersat would see my face and read my name, neither of which would seem out of place."
"Yes, Karil," Atty said, "but afterwards, that face and name will be hunted from here to Pluto."
The United Nations Residential Complex rose from the water several blocks east of the library site: a saddle-backed building with a dome, a flat building now used for a boathouse, and a towering glass slab. Diplomats once held debates here while the nation-state system collapsed about them and multinational companies quietly took control of Earth and Moon. Now it was a luxury enclave now, surrounded by marinas.
"You've got quite an operation going here," Shagrug said. "What do you need a boat for?"
"Best way to get around a flooded city," Jay said, as he cast off. "It doesn't cost much to rent a motorized canoe for the duration of the project. The city's full of them. If you're sure you want to go to Harlem, this is the best way."
Shagrug climbed into the bow, Karil and Terry sat side by side in the centre, and Jay was at the tiller in the stern. The outboard roared into life and the long canoe nosed northward up the East River. As soon as they left the luxury yachts behind, the sampans surrounded them, moored in rows in the shadow of the midtown towers. There was a narrow channel open in the centre of the river between the Manhattan mooring and the Queens mooring, where hydrofoils sped past, creating great waves, and the sampans bobbed in the wash. Lanterns and drying laundry hung from the rigging, hawkers plied their wares from canoes that threaded their way among the vessels, and thousands of people led their short, hard lives beneath the fragile roofs of tin and straw.
The canoe rounded a point and sped into Harlem itself--a vast landscape of fragile boats moored among the reefs of drowned tenements that stretched all the way to the crowded fjords of the Bronx. The enclaves of the blood-lord rulers of this human tide towered over the landscape, their luxurious villas and bunkers peering down from the cliffs of Upper Manhattan and Washington Heights. Jay slowed the canoe and Shagrug directed it through the labyrinth of boats and shacks clinging to the wave-washed ruins of ancient tenements.
"That's the place," said Shagrug, and Jay looked at him dubiously. It was a ramshackle tavern, built on rickety stilts and hanging over the sampans with a decided tilt. Ceiling fans rotated sluggishly inside and raucous music badly played leaked from the broken windows. "I need Karil to watch my back in there," said Shagrug. "You two wait here. And keep the motor running. We might have to leave in a hurry."
They clambered up a rickety ladder onto the dock and made their way through a maze of drying fishnets and across a garbage-strewn wharf toward the tavern's entrance. Shagrug pushed open the door and they stepped into the dark and musty interior. When the bartender saw Shagrug approaching, his jaw dropped in astonishment, and he reached for something under the bar. Shag whipped out his automatic and placed it on the bar-top; his hand rested on it lightly, the butt beneath his palm, his finger tapping on the trigger-guard. The bartender slowly removed his hand from beneath the bar.
"You’ve got balls, Shag," he said, "setting foot in this place again."
"I’ve got no choice. I’m looking for Aguilar."
"You’re lucky Aguilar’s not looking for you right now. And if you had any brains, you’d bugger off before he finds out you’re in the city."
Outside, Jay and Terry waited uneasily in the canoe. Voices drifted toward them from a dilapidated barge moored nearby. Terry cocked her head and listened for a moment, then crawled back toward Jay. "What are they singing?" she asked.
He listened for a moment. "Imagine there's no heaven," he repeated. "It's a Lennonite hymn."
"Take me over there," she said.
Jay shook his head nervously. "I'd better not," he said.
She put her hand on his and looked into his eyes, and in a moment the boat was bumping up against the barge. "Thank you, Jay," she said, and swung up the ladder. She parted the tent-flap and sat down at the rear of the enthralled audience. The speaker's voice boomed:
"Where is this man? He denies religion and government and the family itself, and yet no voice is raised in protest. His words, in fact, are repeated everywhere from the deserts to the mountains to the very streets and canals of our city. Rumour of his passage has reached a supernatural pitch, in which he is given the powers of a demon or a god, depending on the bias of his listeners. He is called a revolutionary, a philosopher, even a preacher. But if he is any of these things, he must debate his views with others. Where is he?"
Terry coughed discretely and the speaker paused. The audience turned and looked at her. "Do you wish to speak, Miss?"
"I am Terry. Progeny's wife. I have known him since I was a child, and I have heard him speak all my life. I was with him when he was arrested and taken to the Citadel, for the crime of speaking the truth as he sees it, and the greater crime of being listened to. If you want to debate, Sir, you may debate me, because I know his mind as well as anyone who lives."
Whispers buzzed through the audience, until the speaker waved them away like a swarm of gnats. "Very well, Terry. I am sorry to hear of his arrest, though I can't say it surprises me, considering his views."
"The point, Sir, is that you do not know his views. You have only heard, as you say, rumours."
The speaker bowed. "I stand corrected. Would you do us the honour of speaking for him, then, if you can? I, for one, would like to hear the words of anyone who can engender such love in the populace and such fear on the part of the High Companies. This is a contentious city, Terry, and always has been. Rabble-rousers of all sorts come through here, saying outlandish things and causing no end of commotion, but three things always remain afterwards--our laws, our faith, and our families. Your husband appears to be denying all of these in one breath. If this is not so, I would be happy to hear it from your lips. If it is true, I would like to know how you defend such a position."
Terry came forward and stood before the assembly. "Progeny has never denied the value of community order, dedication to high principles, and the love of children. Most of his life, in fact, has been spent in the service of these things. What has always troubled him, however, was the fact that these positive goods have so consistently been used for evil by those in power. The trick, he realized, is this: decent behaviour on the part of everyone is in our own best interest; evil is in the interest only of those who wish to rob and enslave us; therefore, they must make evil seem good and decent. They do this by pretending that evil deeds on our part will defend law and faith and family from some enemy who threatens these things. It is a moral confidence trick, and it is accomplished by narrowing the definition of those goods to something which can only be defended by the sort of physical power which they control.
"They have tried, for instance, to define the family in strictly genetic terms because power has always been obsessed with genetics. European history is a catalogue of rape and incest and murder and war in its name. Roman empresses often poisoned whole families to replace their husbands' children by a former marriage with their own, just as the male lion kills his mate's cubs by another male to bring her into heat again. Good German fathers of two centuries ago were capable of kissing their children good-bye and going off to murder the children of others on a scale that nearly amounted to genetic extinction. For centuries, war has been an excuse for mass rape. Throughout history, in fact, the drive to replace the genetic material of others with your own has been a constant theme; racism, the subjugation of women, war, slavery, and genocide have all been a part of it.
"Progeny realized that human beings, by and large, do not use their intelligence to make decisions; they act out of instinct and use their intelligence to rationalize their actions. But instinct serves the species in preference to the individual; Nature does not care if you suffer or die, as long as you reproduce. Likewise, the State does not care about the individual's happiness; it uses our instincts to make us do what is in the State's interest and gives us official fantasies to rationalize the fact.
"Progeny thought the process of raising children would be better for all concerned if its genetic content could be reduced as close as possible to zero. That was his most important message to us as he travelled about Mars: your children are not the carriers of your identity; they are the hope of us all. They are not your immortality; they are the life of the human species and the joint responsibility of every one of us. We have no last names on Mars to be carried on; our children are not named for their ancestors, but for someone who has recently died and should be remembered.
"As for faith, Progeny always wondered why the love of God should engender so much hatred and suffering. He realized that religious traditions the world over taught the same ethics and agreed on what should be considered good behaviour but backed it up with a different mythological authority. It was the contrasting mythology that occasioned religious strife, and the more minute the differences the bloodier the conflict. Progeny realized that ethical behaviour does not need divine sanction--it is simply the best way for people to get along--but the authoritarian class needs divine sanction to make the exceptions to ethical behaviour on which it thrives. You don't need God to tell you that cheating your neighbour is wrong, but the state needs God to tell you that shooting your neighbour is right.
"Mars is a beautiful and dangerous desert world and the religious experience is quite common there. All the great religions of Earth came out of the wilderness, mostly in the desert. Progeny taught us that these experiences have a private meaning, like dreams or the artistic vision, and are no less real if others do not share them. He taught us that religious traditions, which we all took with us to Mars when we left Earth, are valuable with or without belief, and that one need not recognize the objective truth of the events celebrated to join in the spirit of celebration. And he taught us that theological minutiae, the revelations of others, and even the existence of divinity itself are all irrelevant to the basic, ancient, unchanging truths of ethical human intercourse. He taught us, further, that anyone who urges us to violate these truths in the name of God is either a mountebank or a madman.
"As for the law, Progeny has never denied people the right to govern themselves, though he has denied them the authority to govern others..." The audience looked up in consternation as Shagrug and Karil burst in through opposite tent-flaps, their weapons drawn. Terry raised her hands. "I’m sorry. They're here to protect me. And I'm afraid I've made them worry unnecessarily by going off without telling them." She turned to the speaker. "I must leave soon, but I would like to say one more thing, if I may."
The speaker smiled and bowed, and Terry went on. "Frankly, I have trouble understanding what law it is you cherish so. The law of the High Companies? They wrote those laws for their own benefit, used them to steal your labour and deny you the benefits of civilized society, and then abandoned you in an ecological wasteland of their creation. Or is it the law of your blood-lord overseers? Their only law is their own greed, and they make their living from your fear and degradation with the connivance of the High Companies. It seems to me the only real government you have is your determination to govern yourselves with fairness and dignity despite the lawlessness of those who claim authority over you, and this form of government Progeny has never denied. In fact, it is the only government he recognizes."
She turned to the speaker. "Thank you for the opportunity to speak." She turned to the audience and bathed them in her smile. "Thank you for listening." She left quickly, amid the stunned silence of the audience.
"That wasn't very bright, disappearing like that," Shagrug said. "But, Babe, you're a hell of a preacher."
"Thank you, Shag. Did you get the information you were looking for?"
"Not quite." He scowled.
Jay started the motor and they headed down river.
"Go on," Karil said. "Spill it."
Shagrug sighed. "The only person I know who was inside the Citadel prison wing and came out again was a fellow named Aguilar. Unfortunately, the reason he was inside was that I sort of neglected to pick him up on time during a certain business deal we were involved in once, and he sort of blames me for his arrest. And the reason he got out again was that he made a deal with the High Companies. He's sort of a big blood-lord now."
Karil laughed. "He owns half the city, actually, and when he knows Shagrug is in town, he'll probably try to kill him."
Shagrug grinned. "What I have to do is convince him to help me instead of killing me, that's all. I've already started formulating a plan. Can you two ride motorcycles as well as you ride horses?"
Karil and Terry looked puzzled. "We use dirt bikes in the unfinished tunnels sometimes," Terry said. "I've ridden before."
"Karil can ride," said Jay. "Back home, he nearly broke his neck several times, riding the rim the wrong way, like an idiot. Your weight decreases and you can go faster. Unfortunately, you don't have much road-contact and you can flip out easily."
"What have you got in mind?" Karil wanted to know.
"Haven't finished the plan yet. Where the hell are you going, Jay?"
The boat had passed the marina and was headed out into the bay, toward the Citadel.
"I want to see the damn thing up close," Jay said. "Binoculars under the seat there. Look like tourists."
Jay slowed to a leisurely pace--just a party of boaters out on a sunny afternoon. As nonchalantly as possible, they studied the towers and bridges of Lower Manhattan. The Citadel looked like a distant city until they were nearly upon it, and then the size of the place came into perspective. Karil could look down the rows between the office buildings and see the canals that allowed access to the interior, and the levels upon levels of bridges linking the complex together. He saw Terry grim-faced as she contemplated the pile of masonry holding Progeny down.
They passed under the only dry-land entrance--the bridge to Brooklyn Heights in the east--ablaze with security lights. It seemed incongruously antique; perhaps, Karil thought, its spider-web of cables and gothic stone arches reminded the High Citizens of their home colonies above. Jay carefully avoided the laser-buoys that marked the perimeter of the security field as he rounded the Citadel and headed north again; they could see the armless Liberty Monument rising out of the dark waters not far away, its base badly eroded by the pounding waves. Jay cut the engine and brought out some fishing gear. The boat drifted innocently.
They could see the rectenna--acres of wires stretched over the open waters of Nueva York Bay, decorated with warning lights to keep shipping away. Invisibly, microwaves were beaming in tight focus from GEO-4 in orbit above the equator to be collected here and converted to the electricity that powered the Citadel. It was Karil's plan to shut this off like a tap, but seeing the enormous size of the rectenna array, he began to understand the magnitude of his ambition.
"There's a noise coming from the city," Jay said.
"What do you mean? There's always noise."
"There's a different one." As mid-Manhattan hove into view, they saw a motley flotilla of watercraft coming toward them. The reflections of torches shimmered in the water, and banners fluttered in the breeze off the sea. "They're chanting something."
As the floating crowd approached, their words became more audible, drifting over the waters.
"What are they saying?"
"Hush. Listen. It's a chant of some sort." In another moment the chanting became audible to all: "Pro-ge-ny. Pro-ge-ny."
Behind them, sirens wailed in the Citadel, and a blazing light from heaven lit up the seascape for kilometres. Gunships rose from the interior of the Citadel and banked toward them, and speedboats erupted from the boathouse doors, buzzing like killer bees.
"Shit," said Jay. "We don't need this attention right now." The others were thrown back into their seats as the boat leaped forward.
"What are you doing?" Karil demanded.
"They'll pick up every boat in the harbour, question the people, let most of them go. Just for their damn records. Our only hope is to get lost in the confusion."
The boat flew over the water, bouncing as if about to flip at any moment. Ahead of them was an artificial shoal; waves lapped against the ruins of ancient buildings, now home to seabirds by the thousands. The boat zipped up the flooded avenue, its wash pounding the rusted girders and crumbled masonry on either side. Seabirds rose screaming into the air and the pursuing gunships veered off to avoid them, but the speedboats were gaining. Jay, with surprising skill, darted between the ruins--through the lobby of a collapsed tower and out the other side, as painted gods and goddesses gazed down at them from the vaulted ceiling; beneath a drowned archway decorated with headless statues and unreadable words, surrounded by drowned trees; up a flooded street that veered off from the avenue at an angle, past archaic triangular buildings, with arched windows staring like blind eyes.
The flotilla leaders saw them coming and saw the pursuers gaining on them. With shouted orders, they separated the mass of boats into two groups, let Jay--with a wave of thanks--pass through, and closed ranks behind him. The pursuers turned sideways in an effort to slow down, creating a huge wave, and ploughed into the mass of protest craft with the sound of splintering wood and shouts of anger. People clambered aboard and attempted to throw the Dolls into the sea. By the time the Quasi-Police had drawn their weapons and fired into the air to stop the melee, Jay’s craft had sped up the East Side Canals and slipped in among the hundreds of sampans that crowded Times Square Bay.
The city around them echoed with riotous shouts and chanting: “Pro-ge-ny. Pro-ge-ny.” Sirens wailed in the distance and firelit smoke billowed into the sky in a dozen places.
The ship hovered over the refuse-dump, creating small tornadoes with its fans. The garbage-pickers looked up at the disturbance and fled screaming at the sight of the human skeleton peering down at them from the cockpit. At the sound of shouts and sirens from the city, the ship rose and drifted off into the swampland along the coast, where it could monitor what was taking place in the city without being detected. There was gunfire, several boats were burning, and military vehicles were darting to and fro over the water like gnats. All this data it fed dutifully to the pilot, but there were no orders, and so it settled down in the swamp-grass to reconnoitre from a distance, until such time as it became clear what role it should play in the coming battle.