Woken furies, p.1
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       Woken Furies, p.1
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         Part #3 of Takeshi Kovacs series by Richard K. Morgan
Woken Furies


  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgments

  Prologue

  PART ONE

  THIS IS WHO YOU ARE

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  PART TWO

  THIS IS SOMEONE ELSE

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  PART THREE

  THAT WAS A WHILE AGO

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Chapter Twenty-five

  Chapter Twenty-six

  Chapter Twenty-seven

  PART FOUR

  THIS IS ALL THAT MATTERS

  Chapter Twenty-eight

  Chapter Twenty-nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-one

  Chapter Thirty-two

  Chapter Thirty-three

  Chapter Thirty-four

  Chapter Thirty-five

  Chapter Thirty-six

  Chapter Thirty-seven

  PART FIVE

  THIS IS THE STORM TO COME

  Chapter Thirty-eight

  Chapter Thirty-nine

  Chapter Forty

  Chapter Forty-one

  Chapter Forty-two

  Chapter Forty-three

  Chapter Forty-four

  Chapter Forty-five

  Chapter Forty-six

  Chapter Forty-seven

  Chapter Forty-eight

  Chapter Forty-nine

  Epilogue

  About the Author

  Other Books by Richard K. Morgan

  Copyright Page

  This book is for my wife,

  Virginia Cottinelli,

  who knows of impediment

  Fury (n):

  1a intense, disordered and often destructive rage . . .

  2 wild, disordered force or activity

  3a any of the three avenging deities who in

  Greek mythology punished crimes

  3b an angry or vengeful woman

  The New Penguin English Dictionary, 2001

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  Most of this book I just went ahead and made up. In the few places where that wasn’t possible, I’m indebted to the following people for their help:

  Dave Clare provided invaluable climbing advice and expertise, both on the page and on the rock. Kem Nunn’s excellent novel Tapping the Source and Jay Caselberg’s e-mails both offered valuable insight into the world of surfing. And Bernard at Diving Fornells taught me to exist safely underwater. Anything I got wrong was me, not them.

  Special thanks also to Simon Spanton and Carolyn Whitaker, who waited with endless patience, and never even hinted at deadlines.

  PROLOGUE

  The place they woke me in would have been carefully prepared.

  The same for the reception chamber where they laid out the deal. The Harlan family don’t do anything by halves and, as anyone who’s been Received can tell you, they like to make a good impression. Gold-flecked black décor to match the family crests on the walls, ambient subsonics to engender a tear-jerking sense that you’re in the presence of nobility. Some Martian artifact in a corner, quietly implying the transition of global custody from our long-vanished unhuman benefactors to the firmly modern hand of the First Families oligarchy. The inevitable holosculpture of old Konrad Harlan himself in triumphal “planetary discoverer” mode. One hand raised high, the other shading his face against the glare of an alien sun. Stuff like that.

  So here comes Takeshi Kovacs, surfacing from a sunken bath full of tank gel, sleeved into who knows what new flesh, spluttering into the soft pastel light, and helped upright by demure court attendants in cutaway swimming costumes. Towels of immense fluffiness to clean off the worst of the gel and a robe of similar material for the short walk to the next room. A shower, a mirror—better get used to that face, soldier—a new set of clothes to go with the new sleeve, and then on to the audience chamber for an interview with a member of the family. A woman, of course. There was no way they’d use a man, knowing what they did about my background. Abandoned by an alcoholic father at age ten, raised alongside two younger sisters, a lifetime of sporadically psychotic reaction when presented with patriarchal authority figures. No, it was a woman. Some urbane executive aunt, a secret-service caretaker for the Harlan family’s less public affairs. An understated beauty in a custom-grown clone sleeve, probably in its early forties, Standard Reckoning.

  “Welcome back to Harlan’s World, Kovacs-san. Are you comfortable?”

  “Yeah. You?”

  Smug insolence. Envoy training conditions you to absorb and process environmental detail at speeds normal humans can only dream about. Looking around, the Envoy Takeshi Kovacs knows in split seconds, has known since the sunken bath awakening, that he’s in demand.

  “I? You may call me Aiura.” The language is Amanglic, not Japanese, but the beautifully constructed misunderstanding of the question, the elegant evasion of offense without resorting to outrage, traces a clean line back to the First Families’ cultural roots. The woman gestures, equally elegantly. “Though who I am isn’t very important in this matter. I think it’s clear to you whom I represent.”

  “Yes, it’s clear.” Perhaps it’s subsonics, perhaps just the woman’s sober response to my levity that dampens the arrogance in my tone. Envoys soak up what’s around them, and to some extent that’s a contaminative process. You often find yourself taking to observed behavior instinctively, especially if your Envoy intuition grasps that behavior as advantageous in the current surroundings. “So I’m on secondment.”

  Aiura coughs, delicately.

  “In a manner of speaking, yes.”

  “Solo deployment?” Not unusual in itself, but not much fun, either. Being part of an Envoy team gives you a sense of confidence you can’t get from working with ordinary human beings.

  “Yes. That is to say, you will be the only Envoy involved. More conventional resources are at your disposal in great number.”

  “That sounds good.”

  “Let us hope so.”

  “So what do you want me to do?”

  Another delicate throat-clearing. “In due course. May I ask, once again, if the sleeve is comfortable?”

  “It seems very.” Sudden realization. Very smooth, response at impressive levels even for someone used to Corps combat custom. A beautiful body, on the inside at least. “Is this something new from Nakamura?”

  “No.” Does the woman’s gaze slant upward and left? She’s a security exec, she’s probably wired with retinal datadisplay. “Harkany Neurosystems, grown under offworld license for Khumalo-Cape.”

  Envoys aren’t supposed to suffer from surprise. Any frowning I did would have to be on the inside. “Khumalo? Never heard of them.”

  “No, you wouldn’t have.”

  “Excuse me?”

  “Suffice it to say we have equipped you with the very best biotech available. I doubt I need to enumerate the sleeve’s capacities to someone of your background. Should you wish detail, there is a basic manual accessible through the datadisplay in your left field of vision.” A faint smile, maybe the hint of weariness. “Harkany were not culturin
g specifically for Envoy use, and there has not been time to arrange anything customized.”

  “You’ve got a crisis on your hands?”

  “Very astute, Kovacs-san. Yes, the situation might fairly be described as critical. We would like you to go to work immediately.”

  “Well, that’s what they pay me for.”

  “Yes.” Will she broach the matter of exactly who is paying at this point? Probably not. “As you’ve no doubt already guessed, this will be a covert deployment. Very different from Sharya. Though you did have some experience of dealing with terrorists toward the end of that campaign, I believe.”

  “Yeah.” After we smashed their IP fleet, jammed their data transmission systems, blew apart their economy, and generally killed their capacity for global defiance, there were still a few diehards who didn’t get the Protectorate message. So we hunted them down. Infiltrate, befriend, subvert, betray. Murder in back alleys. “I did that for a while.”

  “Good. This work is not dissimilar.”

  “You’ve got terrorist problems? Are the Quellists acting up again?”

  She makes a dismissive gesture. No one takes Quellism seriously anymore. Not for a couple of centuries now. The few genuine Quellists still around on the World have traded in their revolutionary principles for high-yield crime. Same risks, better paid. They’re no threat to this woman, or the oligarchy she represents. It’s the first hint that things are not as they seem.

  “This is more in the nature of a manhunt, Kovacs-san. An individual, not a political issue.”

  “And you’re calling in Envoy support.” Even through the mask of control, this has to rate a raised eyebrow. My voice has probably gone up a little as well. “Must be a remarkable individual.”

  “Yes. He is. An ex-Envoy, in fact. Kovacs-san, before we proceed any farther, I think something needs to be made clear to you, a matter that—”

  “Something certainly needs to be made clear to my commanding officer. Because to me this sounds suspiciously like you’re wasting Envoy Corps time. We don’t do this kind of work.”

  “—may come as something of a shock to you. You, ah, no doubt believe that you have been resleeved shortly after the Sharya campaign. Perhaps even only a few days after your needlecast out.”

  A shrug. Envoy cool. “Days or months—it doesn’t make much difference to m—”

  “Two centuries.”

  “What?”

  “As I said. You have been in storage for a little under two hundred years. In real terms—”

  Envoy cool goes out the window, rapidly. “What the fuck happened to—”

  “Please, Kovacs-san. Hear me out.” A sharp note of command. And then, as the conditioning shuts me down again, pared back to listen and learn, more quietly: “Later I will give you as much detail as you like. For now, let it suffice that you are no longer part of the Envoy Corps as such. You can consider yourself privately retained by the Harlan family.”

  Marooned centuries from the last moments of living experience you recall. Sleeved out of time. A lifetime away from everyone and everything you knew. Like some fucking criminal. Well, Envoy assimilation technique will by now have some of this locked down, but still—

  “How did you—”

  “Your digitized personality file was acquired for the family some time ago. As I said, I can give you more detail later. You need not concern yourself too much with this. The contract I am here to offer you is lucrative and, we feel, ultimately rewarding. What’s important is for you to understand the extent to which your Envoy skills will be put to the test. This is not the Harlan’s World you know.”

  “I can deal with that.” Impatiently. “It’s what I do.”

  “Good. Now, you will of course want to know—”

  “Yeah.” Shut down the shock, like a tourniquet on a bleeding limb. Drag up competence and a drawled lack of concern once more. Grab on to the obvious, the salient point in all of this. “Just who the fuck is this ex-Envoy you so badly want me to catch?”

  Maybe it went something like that.

  Then again, maybe not. I’m inferring from suspicion and fragmented knowledge after the event. Building it up from what I can guess, using Envoy intuition to fill in the gaps. But I could be completely wrong.

  I wouldn’t know.

  I wasn’t there.

  And I never saw his face when they told him where I was. Told him that I was, and what he’d have to do about it.

  PART ONE

  THIS IS WHO

  YOU ARE

  Make it personal . . .

  QUELLCRIST FALCONER

  Things I Should Have

  Learned by Now

  Volume II

  CHAPTER ONE

  Damage.

  The wound stung like fuck, but it wasn’t as bad as some I’d had. The blaster bolt came in blind across my ribs, already weakened by the door plating it had to chew through to get to me. Priests, up against the slammed door and looking for a quick gut shot. Fucking amateur night. They’d probably caught almost as much pain themselves from the point-blank blowback off the plating. Behind the door, I was already twisting aside. What was left of the charge plowed a long, shallow gash across my rib cage and went out, smoldering in the folds of my coat. Sudden ice down that side of my body and the abrupt stench of fried skin-sensor components. That curious bone-splinter fizzing that’s almost a taste, where the bolt had ripped through the biolube casing on the floating ribs.

  Eighteen minutes later, by the softly glowing display chipped into my upper left field of vision, the same fizzing was still with me as I hurried down the lamplit street, trying to ignore the wound. Stealthy seep of fluids beneath my coat. Not much blood. Sleeving synthetic has its advantages.

  “Looking for a good time, sam?”

  “Already had one,” I told him, veering away from the doorway. He blinked wave-tattooed eyelids in a dismissive flutter that said your loss and leaned his tightly muscled frame languidly back into the gloom. I crossed the street and took the corner, tacking between a couple more whores, one a woman, the other of indeterminate gender. The woman was an augment, forked dragon tongue flickering out around her overly prehensile lips, maybe tasting my wound on the night air. Her eyes danced a similar passage over me, then slid away. On the other side, the cross-gender pro shifted its stance slightly and gave me a quizzical look but said nothing. Neither was interested. The streets were rain-slick and deserted, and they’d had longer to see me coming than the doorway operator. I’d cleaned up since leaving the citadel, but something about me must have telegraphed the lack of business opportunity.

  At my back, I heard them talking about me in Stripjap. I heard the word for broke.

  They could afford to be choosy. In the wake of the Mecsek Initiative, business was booming. Tekitomura was packed that winter, thronging with salvage brokers and the deCom crews that drew them the way a trawler wake draws ripwings. Making New Hok Safe for a New Century, the ads went. From the newly built hoverloader dock down at the Kompcho end of town it was less than a thousand kilometers, straight-line distance, to the shores of New Hokkaido, and the ’loaders were running day and night. Outside of an airdrop, there is no faster way to get across the Andrassy Sea. And on Harlan’s World, you don’t go up in the air if you can possibly avoid it. Any crew toting heavy equipment—and they all were—was going to New Hok on a hoverloader out of Tekitomura. Those that lived would be coming back the same way.

  Boomtown. Bright new hope and brawling enthusiasm as the Mecsek money poured in. I limped down thoroughfares littered with the detritus of spent human merriment. In my pocket, the freshly excised cortical stacks clicked together like dice.

  There was a fight going on at the intersection of Pencheva Street and Muko Prospect. The pipe houses on Muko had just turned out and their synapse-fried patrons had met late-shift dockworkers coming up through the decayed quiet of the warehouse quarter. More than enough reason for violence. Now a dozen badly coordinated figures stumbled back and f
orth in the street, flailing and clawing inexpertly at each other while a gathered crowd shouted encouragement. One body already lay inert on the fused-glass paving, and someone else was dragging their body, a limb’s length at a time, out of the fray, bleeding. Blue sparks shorted off a set of overcharged power knuckles; elsewhere light glimmered on a blade. But everyone still standing seemed to be having a good time, and there were no police as yet.

  Yeah, part of me jeered. Probably all too busy up the hill right now.

  I skirted the action as best I could, shielding my injured side. Beneath the coat, my hands closed on the smooth curve of the last hallucinogen grenade and the slightly sticky hilt of the Tebbit knife.

  Never get into a fight if you can kill quickly and be gone.

  Virginia Vidaura—Envoy Corps trainer, later career criminal and sometime political activist. Something of a role model for me, though it was several decades since I’d last seen her. On a dozen different worlds, she crept into my mind unbidden, and I owed that ghost in my head my own life a dozen times over. This time I didn’t need her or the knife. I got past the fight without eye contact, made the corner of Pencheva, and melted into the shadows that lay across the alley mouths on the seaward side of the street. The timechip in my eye said I was late.

  Pick it up, Kovacs. According to my contact in Millsport, Plex wasn’t all that reliable at the best of times, and I hadn’t paid him enough to wait long.

  Five hundred meters down and then left into the tight fractal whorls of Belacotton Kohei Section, named centuries ago for the habitual content and the original owner-operator family whose warehouse frontages walled the curving maze of alleys. With the Unsettlement and the subsequent loss of New Hokkaido as any kind of market, the local belaweed trade pretty much collapsed and families like Kohei went rapidly bankrupt. Now the grime-filmed upper-level windows of their façades peered sadly across at each other over gape-mouthed loading bay entrances whose shutters were all jammed somewhere uncommitted between open and closed.

  There was talk of regeneration, of course, of reopening units like these and retooling them as deCom labs, training centers, and hardware storage facilities. Mostly, it was still just talk—the enthusiasm had kindled on the wharf-line units facing the hoverloader ramps farther west, but so far it hadn’t spread farther in any direction than you could trust a wirehead with your phone. This far off the wharf and this far east, the chitter of Mecsek finance was still pretty inaudible.

 
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