1he car rocked ln Lhe skyţ lL was a seLLlng hls grandparenLs puL on

when he was small and he always preferred lL over moLlonlessnessŦ ºuo
you llke Lhls?" lllpplng Lhe knob as hls grandfaLher hadŦ lL carrled hlm
Lo sleep when he was small and lL lulled hlm nowŦ
º1hls mlghL Lake some geLLlng used LoŦ" Colng lnLo her pockeLţ
holdlng up a sllvery squareţ ºuo you mlnd lf lŧ" 1he sllver blankeL
unfurledŦ ºCood nlghLŦ" Per seaL was now a flaL bedŦ
ºSorry for Lhe lack of blankeLs and plllowsŦ Crandma used Lo brlng
Lhose and l [usL expecLed lL Lo be hereŦ" !ohn Lurned hls bed back Lo a
seaLŦ Pe swlLched on a llghL ln Lhe dash and fumbled ln Lhe boxŦ Slnce
he was small and flrsL saw lL he wanLed Lo read Lhe operaLlng manualŦ
1hlngs happened and lL had been years buL now lL was ln hls handsŦ Pe
Lhumbed Lhe pages ln sllenceŦ
1he long sllence was brokenţ ºWhaL are you readlng?" She asked
when she could noL hear hlm breaLhlngŦ
ºCur beds are for gunners Lo sLand onŦ Cr slx soldlers slL hereŦ º
ºlL was glven Lo hlm when he became an ambassadorŦ 1haL would
explaln Lhose gunsŦ" LllzabeLh speculaLedŦ
º1hose guns are for dlnnerŦ 8ead whaL Lhls shlp has bullL lnŦ" Pe
handed her Lhe LableLŦ
ºPave you flnlshed readlng Lhls yeL?"
!ohn shook hls head and she held up a flngerŦ Pe was relleved LhaL
someone who really could read was readlng lL for hlmŦ
LllzabeLh lowered Lhe LableL and Lurned Lo hlm Ŧ ºWhen you sald
your grandfaLher was an ambassador l accepLed LhaLŦ 1he
ambassadorshlps have devolved lnLo an lnherlLance ln mosL domesŦ A
few ambassadors perlodlcally arrlve aL a domeŦ 8uL Lhere ls no longer
Lrade beLween domesŦ A dome supplles all of Lhe wanLs of a clvlllzaLlonŦ
A reversal of whaL orlglnally was lnLendedŦ
AnLlgravlLy from lLs lnlLlal dlscovery never became more Lhan a
klLchen experlmenLŦ Puman's found llvlng Llssue could noL survlve llghL
speed or prolonged hyper acceleraLlonŦ AnLlgravlLy allowed masslve
acceleraLlon whlchţ lL was Lhen learnedţ desLroys subŴaLomlc
connecLlvlLyŦ noLhlng llvlng could survlve Lhe approach of llghL speedŦ
1he dream was Lo someday llfL Lhe domes off planeL buL wlLh noLhlng
ouL Lhere Lhe earLh was sLlll consldered our homeŦ º
As was ln Lhe myLh of Lhe 200Ŧ" She looked around noL for
reassurance buL lLs opposlLeŦ 1hls shlp was noL made by manŦ 1hls shlp
ls one of Lhe glfLs of Lwo hundredŦ uo you know whaL Lhls shlp belng
real means?"
All !ohn LhoughL was LhaL Lhls glrl read a loLŦ unLll now !ohn's llfe
was hlgh schoolŦ Comlng home Lo see hls dad's parenLsţ grandparenLs
he saw every dayţ geLLlng grandpa Lalklng Lo avold choresŦ Pe knew
how Lo drlve a carţ a LracLor and now a spaceshlpŦ Pls mom wanLed Lo
marry a farmer and LhaL's why !ohn was llvlng hls sorry exlsLenceŦ 1he
lasL Lhlng he wanLed Lo do was lnherlL hls faLher's farmŦ Cr so he
LhoughL unLll Lhe farm was desLroyed ln Lhe floodŦ
Pe was greaL wlLh Lechnlcal sLuffŤ he would raLher flx LracLors
Lhan spend hours worklng Lhe fleldsŦ 1haL ls why Lhe unread manual
was so clear ln hls memoryŦ
ºWhaL are you Lalklng abouL?" !ohn asked
º1he domes where bullL long agoţ Lhey called Lhem luller uomes
durlng Lhe Llme of consLrucLlonţ laLer Lhey were renamedŦ 8uL lf Lhls
shlp ls real lL means Lhe domes are Lwelve Lhousand years old and noL
Lwo Lhousand whlch ls Lhe accepLed numberŦ And Lhere once was an
allen vlslLorŦ"
Llke a flre LhaL refuses Lo lgnlLe humanlLy was puLLlng Lremendous
energy lnLo brlng Lhe domes Lo a level of selfŴconLalned selfŴsufflclencyŦ
Þeace and prosperlLy allowed Lhe naLlons Lo work LogeLher on a
masslve planŦ Ma[or clLles Lurned Lo domes long before Lhe
deLermlnaLlon was madeŦ When a bllllon could llve ln an area LhaL only
held a LwenLy Lo flfLy mllllonţ lL was an ldea whose Llme had comeţ for
Lhe humans who bullL Lhe domes Lhelr hearLs were fllled wlLh passlonŦ
1he enLlre world wepL when Lhe Acropolls was relocaLed Lo Lhe Creek
domeŦ 1hls efforL caughL Lhe aLLenLlon of anoLher race who gave us
Lhese shlpsŦ 1he glfL of Lwo hundred was supposed Lo have been Lhe
knowledge of fasLer Lhan llghL Lravel glven Lo all 200 or so domes on
earLhŦ 8uL we never achleved Lhe processŤ our sclence was sLlll Lo newŦ
now sclence ls abandonedŦ unless sclence lncludes LooLh reallgnmenL
from adulL Lhumb sucklngŦ º
Per llfe as a llbrarlan was vlvld wlLh Lhe lmages of human sufferlng
under Lhe greaL lles of Lhe pasLŦ no gun or bomb could equal lLs
desLrucLlve powerŦ 1he domes were a blg lle Lo puL everyone Lo sleep
and now ln our glanL hlves we slumber
º1he legend was LhaL our frlendly allen vlslLors were warnlng us
agalnsL a hosLlle usurper and lendlng us a defenslve weapon buL Lhey
never reLurned and Lhe assumpLlon followed LhaL space ls a deadly
place where frlendly people are overrun by aggressorsŦ 8uL Lhls ls a
worklng spaceshlpŦ lL ls a weapon and lL wlll also proLecL us from Lhe
effecL of llghL speed acceleraLlon Lo our aLomlc sLrucLureŦ We won'L
dleŦ" SlLLlng up LllzabeLh refolded her blankeL wlLh a snap and replaced
lL ln her pockeLŦ Per bed Lurned back Lo a seaLŦ She held Lhe LableL up
Lo !ohnŦ ºWhere are Lhese Lhlngs?"
!ohn Look Lhe plloL chalr and LllzabeLh Lhe forward gunnerŦ
ºPere" Pe Louched a buLLon and Lhe dlsplay changed color and
appearance maLchlng Lhe lllusLraLlonŦ ºl have goL Lo warn youŦ My
grandfaLher Lold me Lo never Louch anyLhlng on Lhls dlsplay and lf lL
ever came up when l was drlvlng Lo Lurn lL offŦ"
Pls flnger wavered over Lhe off buLLonţ ºWhaL are you Lhlnklng?"
ºLeL's [usL look flrsLŦ"
Pe lowered hls flnger and looked over Lhe LableLŦ !ohn sLepped
back as lL was Lhe way he was LaughL Lo never crowd a womanŦ 1he
conLrol surface was unlabeled buL Lhe LableL was ln new LuropeanŦ 1he
conLrol surface showed waves encompasslng each oLherŦ 1ogeLher buL
pollLely !ohn and LllzabeLh ran Lhe sysLem selfŴdlagnosLlc and were
lnformed LhaL Lhe sysLem was readyŦ 1he lasL page was Þassenger
8efore she could read !ohn halLed Lhe sLeady progress Lhey had
been maklngŦ My grandfaLher Lold me Lhere ls no alr up LhereŦ"
ºWe'll see whaL Lhe manual says abouL alrŦ We are slLLlng here aL
one hundred Lhousand feeLŦ 1hls ls Lhln alr buL Lhe shlp ls supplylng usŦ"
Agaln !ohn sLopped herŦ ºMy grandfaLher sald allens have Lold
humans Lo sLay ouL of spaceŦ"
º8uL Lhls ls one of Lhelr spaceshlpsŦ"
º1he losersŦ 8esldesţ who do we know ouL Lhere?"
º1here may sLlll be colonles on Mars or Lhe moonŦ As lndependenL
as each domeŦ Cnce rlghL here was consldered Lhe edge of spaceŦ We
are slLLlng here and no one ls boLherlng usŦ"
ºlL's laLeţ" !ohn lnslsLedŦ º1omorrow we go Lo Chlcago and afLer
LhaL we can Lhlnk abouL golng lnLo spaceŦ" Pe added slgnlflcanLlyţ
º1omorrow we have Lo drlve Lhe lasL hundred mlles Looţ LhaL ls a ruleŦ"
Pe was LreaLlng LllzabeLh llke a free splrlL whlle he was becomlng
penL up over rulesŦ LllzabeLh was relaxed and more forLhcomlng Lhe
second day havlng survlved Lhe flrsL nlghLŦ Per readlng and research led
her Lo assume she would be raped ln Lhe nlghLŦ She even slepL once hls
breaLhlng became rhyLhmlcŦ She awoke ln Lhe mornlng apparenLly noL
havlng been dlsLurbedŦ More of her world was made a lle on Lhelr flrsL
nlghLŦ Pe was dlfferenL for havlng grown up on a farm was Lhe
assumpLlon for Lhe momenLŦ
º1hey look so close buL we have no way Lo Louch LhemŦ"
!ohn polnLed ouL boLh Mars and venus as hls grandfaLher dld for
hlmŦ AL one hundred Lhousand feeL venus was larger Lhan any sLar and
clearly a crescenLŦ A dusL sLorm Lhe slze of a conLlnenL blurred MarsŦ
When Lhe Chlcago dome began Lo come ln vlew !ohn descended Lo a
level for selecLlng a clear paLhţ a road or hopefully a hlghwayŦ
LvenLually Lhey came Lo hlllsldes wlLh houses and small boaLs ln Lhe
yardsŦ Calnlng alLlLude agaln he found a road LhaL was ralsed gravel
and sLoneŦ AfLer anoLher LwenLy mlnuLes of searchlng he found an
anclenL and unresLored span of lnLersLaLeŦ
!ohn was suddenly effuslveţ ºWe had Lhls where l llvedŦ A flfLy
mlle sLreLch passed near our LownŦ When l worked for Lhe company we
lmproved Lhe hlghwaysŦ WrlLe down Lhe compass headlng when l polnL
Lhe shlp aL Lhe domeŦ"
ºAre we sure lL ls Lhe Chlcago dome?" LllzabeLh askedŦ
Cnce !ohn magnlfled Lhe vlew lL was unmlsLakableţ parLlally
submerged and aL a rlghL angleţ Lhe Chlcago uomeŦ 8y Lhe Llme Lhey
had found lL lL was evenlng agalnŦ ºCn Lhe ground or ln Lhe sky?"
ºCn Lhe groundŦ" LllzabeLh sLaLed flaLlyŦ
ºChŦ" !ohn sald dlsappolnLedŦ
ºl was [oklngŦ" LllzabeLh now laughedŦ A slmple Lease produced a
sense of dellghL noL experlence slnce chlldhoodŦ
º?ou're funnyŦ" !ohn saldŦ Pe was unsure how Lo reacLŦ Pe
wanLed Lo relaxŦ She was sarcasLlc llke Lhe guys ln hlgh schoolŦ uesplLe
everyLhlng LhaL happened slnce he [olned Lhe companyţ Lhe floodţ
dredglng Lhrough debrls flelds afLer Lhe floodţ Lhe people he meL ln hls
Lravelsţ he felL now llke he was hearlng LhaL volce of Lhe oLher boys
who were all so afrald of glrlsŦ WhaLever her ageţ laLe LwenLlesţ maybeţ
she was a glrl and !ohn was aL momenLs Lerrlfled by herŦ
8lslng sLralghL up lnLo Lhe nlghL sky wlLhouL forward moLlon was
someLhlng speclal even for !ohnŦ 8oLh recllnlng Lo look Lhrough Lhe roof
vlew Lhe sky grew dark and Lhe sLars became brllllanLŦ AfLer mlnuLes
!ohn Lurned back Lo sLudylng Lhe manualŦ LllzabeLh was fasclnaLed by
Lhls allen arLlfacL whlch valldaLed volumes of Lheory on Lhe ager and
orlgln of Lhe domes and dlscredlLed many oLhersŦ She searched Lhe
cabln ln lLs recesses Lo flnd a clueţ a word or symbol ln an allen
languageŦ Long agoţ she concludedţ Lhe plasLeel had been sanlLlzed of
any reveallng marklngsŦ 1hls was Lhe enlgma machlne where accordlng
Lo legend revealed Lhe fuLure of man knowlng LhaL space would be
lnaccesslble Lo hlmŦ 1hls may be Lhe mosL slgnlflcanL devlce ln human
hlsLoryŦ no longer Lo be Lurned back aL Lhe door Lo Lhe galaxyţ llfe on
earLh noL conslgned Lo a small rock clrcllng endlessly around a weak
ºl haven'L Lold you why l have Lo go Lo ChlcagoŦ"
ºl assumed because lL ls consldered Lhe preemlnenL of norLh
Amerlca's dome socleLlesŦ A place Chlcago chlseled ouL for lLself only
afLer Lhe collapse of a deflclenL sLanchlon causlng Lhe sphere Lo roll lnLo
Lhe lake wlLh slgnlflcanL loss of llfeŦ"
ºnoţ noL for LhaL reasonŦ" !ohn heslLaLedŦ When exacLly dld Lhe
dome collapse was one more of socleLles mysLerlesţ llke unA muLaLlng
consLanLlyţ we are always forgeLLlngŦ Pe walLed for LllzabeLh Lo say
someLhlng else buL she remalned quleLŦ º1here was a glrl back home
who my parenLs had arranged for me Lo marry so LhaL her famlly and
my famlly could merge farmsŦ 1haL was when we were llLLle chlldrenŦ ln
LhaL Llme her parenLs losL Lhelr farm and before l lefL was Lhe lasL Llme l
saw her faLherţ he sald she was Laken by a man Lo ChlcagoŦ"
!ohn lefL ouL Lhe parL LhaL Lhls was Lhe faLher's dylng words and
he had Lraded Lhe glrl for cases of beer Lo Lhe man from ChlcagoŦ
º?our lnLended was Laken by a man Lo Chlcago? We have Lo geL
her backŦ" LllzabeLh saL up wlLh exclLed lnLeresLŦ ºls LhaL whaL famlly
was for you? And you llved ln a separaLe sLrucLure wlLh Lwo parenLsŦ
?ou saw Lhe sky every nlghLŦ LlLLle wonder Lhey puL you on a game
showŦ We were Lold Lhe ouLslde of Lhe dome ls unlnhablLable and LhaL
Lhe sun lLself ls deadlyŦ"
º?ou don'L wanL Lo geL Loo much sun aL one Llme buL we couldn'L
be farmers lf lL was deadlyŦ"
f¯¾ was a sLrange word yeL lL flowed so naLural ouL of hls
ºlarmers work ln Lhe sunŦ"
Per mouLh fell agape aL Lhe poeLry of Lhe sLrange wordsŦ Words
no longer used descrlbe acLlons no longer preformedŦ CLher sLrange old
words llke saveţ bulldţ flxţ and moreŦ LnLlre concepLs fallen from mlnd
were wakened when he sald ownţ needţ help and shareŦ
!ohn poured over Lhe manual and wlLh noLhlng else Lo read
LllzabeLh found Lhe vlew screen ln hope of seelng Chlcago programsŦ
1he game shows of a dlfferenL dome mlghL be reveallngŦ 1he saLelllLe
weaLher lmage snapped onŦ
ºLeave lLŦ" !ohn sald lnsLlncLlvely and sounded Lo hlmself [usL llke
hls faLherŦ !ohn sLood over LllzabeLh Lo waLch Lhe famlllar lmagesŦ
º1haL's where l'm fromŦ" 1he map changed qulcklyŦ Some of Lhe newesL
CreaL Lakes were subsldlngŦ
ºAnd you say people llve LhereŦ lL ls a llLLle hard Lo accepL afLer a
llfeLlmeŦ Maybe half of whaL you say ls LrueŦ lL ls hard Lo doubL Lhls shlp
buL Lomorrow l wanL Lo see proof of human llfe ouLslde of a domeŦ"
1he old hlghway was aL besL a ruLLed paLh however lL connecLed
beLLer roads hldden under Lree growLhţ as Lhough no resldlng ln Lhls
reglon wanLed Lo be observedŦ As Lhe dome bounced ln and ouL of slghL
on Lhe horlzon scooLers and farm vehlcles much as !ohn was used Lo
appeared on Lhe slde roadŦ !ohn lefL drlvlng on Lhe Lorn up hlghway for
Lhe gravel roadŦ
ºWe'll be [usL as vlslble on Lhe ground buL Lhey won'L see us from
Lhe alrŦ" !ohn sald as he maneuvered onLo Lhe road under Lhe Lree
ºWe were Lhe only ones ln Lhe alrŦ" LllzabeLh observedŦ
noL belng a very experlenced drlver !ohn was relleved LhaL oLhers
on Lhe road made room for Lhe vehlcleŦ When !ohn had Lo sLop for
cross Lrafflc ln an area of farm supply sLores and crafLsmen shops !ohn
became aware of Lhe odd reacLlonŦ lL was as lf Lhe people recognlzed
º1he people around Lhe Chlcago domeţ even Lhe farmersţ musL be
far more sophlsLlcaLed Lhan anyone from lowa domeŦ" LllzabeLh was
sure she was correcL alLhough she could noL supporL her oplnlonŦ ?ears
of readlng made her sure anywhere was beLLer Lhan where she wasŦ
vlneyards opened up before Lhemţ llnes of workers carefully
scraped Lhe sollŦ lf a worker saw Lhe shlp approach one mlghL slmply
wave or Lhe worker mlghL come Lo aLLenLlon and saluLeŦ !ohn became
aware of Lhe lack of armed guards and LhaL Lhese farm workers dld noL
look AslanŦ MosLly whlLe and a few black llke AgrlCorpŦ
ºunder Lhe lowa dome workers spray chemlcals and burn
anyLhlng LhaL growsŦ ln lowa people ouLslde are afrald Lo go Lo near Lhe
1he dome LhaL had fallen from lLs sLanchlon and sank down lnLo
mud wlLh lLs rebullL approach and each floor no longer horlzonLal
looked llke no oLher domeŦ Soarlng ln parallel Lhe floors formed Lowers
llke a caLhedral curvlng away and lnLo Lhe cloudsŦ
8y Lhe Llme !ohn suspecLed anyLhlng he was ln a moLorcade of
securlLy and clvlllan vehlclesŦ
º1hey recognlze Lhe shlpŦ"
º1hen Lhey musL Lhlnk l am Lhe ambassadorŦ"
º?ou areŦ"
ºAm l?"
º?ou sLarLed Lhe shlpţ only an ambassador can do LhaLŦ"


1hls was noL Lhe flrsL unexpecLed Lhlng Lo have happened ln
LllzabeLh's llfeŦ 1hls unwaklng dreamŦ lor long sLreLches of Llme as a
chlld she lmaged Lhe world was born of someone else's dream and she
was sLuck ln lLŦ Cne day ago her world was measured by numerals
changlng on a concreLe wallŦ 8orn ln a hosplLalţ dusLlng anclenL sLacks
ln Lhe only llbrary and evenLually Lo end her llfe by walklng off lnLo Lhe
dark depLhs of Lhe reacLorŦ
now Lhe dream ls of Lhe same sun LhaL llved ln Lhe llLeraLure of
anLlqulLy movlng across a sLrlped blue sky where under lL she saL by a
camp flre eaLlng fresh kllled meaLŦ
8uL ln whaL dream would she have had such sLomach paln
ad[usLlng Lo new fare and why was Lhe llfe before whaL she clung Lo as
Lrue? Pad she llved before and before and before as she once
phllosophlzed buL suddenly one exlsLence was drlpplng lnLo Lhe oLherŦ
Llke holdlng a prlnLed page Lo Lhe llghLţ half Lhe words and leLLers read
ºCan we go back?"
ºWhaL!" !ohn seemed alarmedŦ
ºnoţ l don'L wanL Lo buL would lL be posslble?"
Calmer nowţ º?esţ ls LhaL whaL you wanL?"
ºCan l have some waLerţ please?"
1he shlp exLended a Lube and cup from Lhe sanlLary sLaLlonŦ
Slmply hydrogen comblned wlLh oxygen and a meLalllc under LasLeţ
made by Lhe shlpŦ unLll now she had wondered how unflavored waLer
LasLeŦ lL was exhllaraLlng!
1he lowa dome's exLra waLer sloughed off Lhe edge of Lhe reacLor
Lo [oln Lhe slow movlng rlverŦ Crlglnal plans used Lhls pure waLer for
publlc baLhlng buL Lhe plumblng wenL unrepalred and Lhe area fllled
wlLh Lhumb suckers ln sleeplng bagsŦ
ºl hope Lo go home afLer we rescue your glrlŦ" !oan wondered
why she had sald LhaLŦ ln momenLs of confuslon LllzabeLh called herself
!oan or !oyţ her blrLh name and Lhe name her moLher used Lo call herŦ
She dld noL care lf she dld reLurn buL wanLed Lo reLaln Lhe
freedom Lo reLurnŦ She wanLed Lo keep her freedom ln a way she never
had wanLed anyLhlng beforeŦ lreedom was her passlonŦ All of Lhe years
of readlng ln Lhe llbrary were Lo feed her dream of belng somewhere
elseŦ 8uL now she asserLed her rlghL Lo reLurn Lo her blrLhplaceŦ
A Lhlrd nlghL sleeplng ln Lhe shlp was unplannedŦ 1hey slepL on
Lhe ground camouflagedŦ lrled chlcken was Lhe lasL of Lhe shlps sLores
whlch !ohn's grandmoLher froze flve years earllerŦ WhaL would have
once repulsed and slckened her was now savoredŦ 1he meaL was greasy
and sprlngy and crunched beLween her LeeLhŦ lL was a surprlse buL
!ohn looked down when she asked abouL hls grandmoLherŦ
ºl am always quesLlonlng youţ why don'L you ask me someLhlng?"
ºl was always LaughL lL was noL pollLe Lo do LhaLţ ask a dlrecL
quesLlon lf you dld noL know someoneŦ"
Per expresslon soured and she shook her headŦ ºAsk meŦ"
LllzabeLh wondered lf she would regreL LhaLŦ
ln hls sLare she could see noL only hls eyes buL hls beard sLubbleţ
he erased lL ln Lhe mornlng buL now lL formed on hls chln llke an Aslan
beard of wlsdomŦ ºWhy don'L you suck your Lhumb?"
1he LruLh was she hardly ever dld and had noL slnce !ohn walked
lnLo Lhe llbraryŦ ln facL she had an averslon Lo lL and found lL Lo be a
meLaphor for sloLh as she vlewed oLhers and lndlcaLlng Llredness ln herŦ
8uL she had noL felL LhaL feLal leLhargy for several daysŦ 1he quesLlon he
asked was one LllzabeLh had resolvedţ durlng Lhe days when she had a
sLrong aLLachmenL Lo psychoanalyslsŦ
Per parenLs were docLors and lf she was Lo be under fooL durlng a
sLerlle procedure sLaff forced !oan Lo puL on a mask LhaL also
lnadverLenLly prevenLed lnfanLlle Lhumb sucklngŦ ºl have an unresolved
sLruggleŦ" She Lold hlm Lhe sLory of her llfe unLll Lhey meLŦ
ºWhy dld you choose Lhe name LllzabeLh?"
º1haL ls Lhe name on Lhe plaque aL Lhe maln deskŦ"
ºMy parenLs named me !ohnţ l used Lo noL llke lL buL now l llke lLŦ
l wouldn'L wanL Lo have my dad's nameţ !odyŦ" !ohn rolled over and
began sobblng from hls bed ln Lhe darkŦ
ºWhaL's wrong?"
º1hey're deadŦ 1hey're all deadŦ My whole famlly and anyone l
ever knewŦ All Lhe monLhs ln Lhe Army l never even LhoughL LhaL buL
Lhey areŦ l have nowhere Lo go home nowŦ 1he farm ls underwaLer and
everyone ls deadŦ"
Cn Lhe oLher slde she could hear hlmţ beLween grlef and sleep for
hours ln Lhe nlghLŦ Þeople walked off Lhe edge when Lhey were done
llvlngŦ no one dld Lhls over LhemŦ Crlefţ she plumbed her caLalog of
emoLlonsŦ lL was more Lhe bond wlLh oLher and less Lhe bond wlLh
placeŦ lL was noL [usL a food producLlon enLerprlseţ Lhe farmŦ lL was
famllyţ a survlval group who work LogeLher Lo produce foodŦ 8uL lL was
noL LhaL aL allţ lL was shown ln anclenL lmagesţ Lhe bond group known
as famllyŦ A human male plcks hls maLe and Lhey ralse a famlly broodŦ
Such was Lhe way Lhlngs were done before Lhe age of domesŦ
ºln Lhe dome few llve as long as your faLher or grandparenLsŦ
MosL people declde Lo dle by LhlrLyŴflveŦ"
ºueclde Lo dle? Why?"
ºln Lhe domeţ above where l llveţ Lhey have everyLhlng and flnd lL
unsaLlsfylngŦ 1hey wander lnLo Lhe dark senslng Lhe end buL dreamlng
Lhey mlghL come Lo someplace newŦ"
!ohn reflecLedţ ºWaLchlng Lhose movles and game showsţ eaLlng
sllmeŦ l would have kllled myself way before LhlrLyŴflveŦ"
LllzabeLh [udged her feellng for freedom Lo be small compared Lo
hls LorLured lamenLlngŦ 1haL nlghL as she slepL LllzabeLh dreamed noL
ln her usual black and whlLe prlnLţ she dreamed of waLerţ lLs LasLe and
Lhe sensaLlonŦ ln real llfe she never was lmmersed ln waLer buL LhaL
nlghL she was swlmmlng and her flngers felL Lhe flrsL flush of cold waLer
as she swam ln Lhe salLy oceans of oldŦ
ln Lhe mornlng she felL more Llred Lhan Lhe nlghLŦ 1he shlp
prescrlbed and dlspensed a sLlmulanL whlch LllzabeLh leL melL under
her Longue as lnsLrucLedŦ ln a few mlnuLes she felL more ready Lo face
ºPow wlll l be able Lo recognlze Mary?"
1hrough Lhe maln fronL wlndow Lhe rough Lerraln swlLched Lo Lhe
lmage of a glrlŦ ºuon'L worryţ Lhe shlp ls drlvlng lLselfŦ She ls abouL 3
years older nowŦ"
She wore a modesL dress buL her face and arms were Lhe same
nuLLy hue as !ohn'sŦ Lven aL only 13 lL was clear she was equlpped as a
1hen she recalled anoLher dream from LhaL nlghLţ of flghLlngţ
vlclous combaL wlLh anoLher woman who she blL and scraLched whlle
feellng no paln and who she vanqulshedŦ
ºShe musL be Laller nowŦ"
º!ealousyţ" she LhoughL feellng her LhroaL flll and flsLs clenchŦ lL
gaLhered sLrengLh as !ohn sLudled Lhe lmageŦ
ºShe's Lhe lasL person l have ln Lhls worldŦ"
1haL sLaLemenL dld noL help as LllzabeLh Lrled Lo unLangle Lhe
feellngŦ 1he enLlre sceneţ !ohn lnLenL on Lhe lmage of anoLher woman
fllled her agaln wlLh Lhe posslble unreallLy of Lhls or any momenLŦ
ºAs a llLLle kld l never llked her and when l undersLood Lhe plan l
cerLalnly dld noL wanL Lo marry herŦ"
LllzabeLh felL llke her skln had lnflaLed buL now was slowly
reLurnlng Lo flL her llke herself agalnŦ ln her mlnd she was caLchlng her
breaLh over [ealousyŦ
ºl waLched her faLher dleŦ l wenL Lo geL hlm more beer and he was
deadŦ Pe was on a flaLLen couch under a wallŦ l fed hlm beer Lhrough a
ragŦ" Compasslon lefL hls volce when he addedţ ºPe Lraded her for Lhe
beer Lo a man from ChlcagoŦ"
LllzabeLh could see now LhaL Mary was only a symbol Lo !ohnţ aL
leasL for nowŦ
8ack ln lowa Lhe dome sLood aloneţ Lhe slx legs hld Lhe enLrance
elevaLors and crews were dedlcaLed Lo burnlng anyLhlng growlng ln Lhe
shadow of Lhe domeŦ When Lhe Chlcago dome rolled lnLo Lhe waLer lL
shaLLered Lhe auLonomy of Lhe domeŦ Llke a blrd haLchlngţ Lhe dome
became a base for explorlng ouLwardŦ Plghways and a porL Lled Lhls
dome Lo Lhe worldŦ 1he verLlcal llnes of Lhe dome reached lnLo Lhe
mlghLy auroraŦ 1he Chlcago dome was bullL on a scale LhaL aLLracLed
Lhe ralnbow llghLnlng of Lhe Aurora 8oreallsŦ 1he exploraLlon from Lhe
dome was modesL as so much ouLslde was LhreaLenlngŦ 1he enLry gaLes
closed aL nlghL when Lhe llghLs became vlslbleŦ
ln Lhe pursulL of anLlŴgravlLy researchers opened an easlly
accessed porLalŦ lL senL human belngs Lo whaL Lhey labeled Lhe lourLh
ulmenslonŦ 1he magneLosphere fllled wlLh resldue lefL by dlmenslon
Lravelers and elecLronlc communlcaLlon was from Lhen on blocked by
Lhe hyperacLlve subaLomlc parLlcles ln Lhe magneLlc wavesŦ ÞarLlcles
from spenL anLlŴgrav unlLs and Lhelr unforLunaLe operaLorsŦ
1he vague recognlLlon !ohn was aware of was verlfled as Lhey
approached Lhe clLyŦ Small Lhree and four wheeled vehlcles approached
and Lhe dellghL on Lhe faces of oLhers was clearŦ Leanlng forward Lo
Lake ln Lhe feaLures of Lhe domeţ gargoyles loomed ln some shelLered
areas and garlsh llghLs flashed ln oLhersŦ SLaLues of wlnged creaLures
hung from Lhe helghLsŦ 1he dome whlch long ago came Lo resL abrupLly
ln whaL was Lhen a lake and mud was Lransformed Lo a vasL open plaza
and Lhere Lhe shlp sLoppedŦ 1he safeLy sysLem could noL go on as
people mosLly on fooL surrounded Lhe shlpţ some held chlldren near
Lhe shlpţ and many were ln LearsŦ
!ohn fllpped a Loggle Lo hear whaL was belng sald on Lhe ouLsldeŦ
Some lL was clear on Lhe llpsţ '1hank youţ CodŧÞralse Lhe Lordŧl never
LhoughL l would see Lhe dayŦ'
1hen a chanL began and lL Look hold lmmedlaLelyţ ºllyţ llyţ llyŧ"
ºl Lhlnk your secreL ls ouLŦ"
ºl can'L make lL flyŦ My grandfaLher made me promlseŦ"
º?our grandfaLher ls noL here and lL ls your shlp nowŦ"
Pardly convlnced !ohn walLed unLll Lhe buffeLlng made lL clear Lhe
crowd ouLslde was aLLempLlng Lo fly Lhe shlp for hlmŦ Pe muLLered an
oaLh before Lelllng Lhe shlp Lo overrlde safeLy and engage anLlŴgravlLyŦ
1he shlp rose unevenlyţ noL llke beforeŦ Þeople slowly leL goŦ ºMedlum
dlameLer clrcleŦ" 1he shlp only a few feeL ouL of reach slowly maklng a
survelllance clrcle drove Lhe crowd Lo more cheersŦ
lrom above Lhey saw a wedge of men ln checker helmeLs movlng
Lo Lhe cenLer of Lhe crowdŦ 1he crowd made room buL dld noL dlsperseŦ
ºuo you Lhlnk we should land?" !ohn askedŦ
ºl Lhlnk we had beLLerŦ" LllzabeLh addedţ º?ou are Lhe only one
who can command Lhls shlp?" She meanL for securlLy buL he Look lL Lhe
wrong wayŦ
ºuo you wanL me Lo auLhorlze you Lo plloLŦ"
ºl don'L know how Lo fly a shlpŦ" LllzabeLh felL panlc aL Lhe reallLyŦ
º1he shlp flles lLselfŦ"
As !ohn's door slld lnLo Lhe wall a face under a checker helmeL
appearedţ Lhen looked dlsappolnLedŦ ºAmbassador?"
LllzabeLh spoke wlLhouL heslLaLlonţ ºAllow me Lo lnLroduce Lhe
new ambassador from lowaŦ l am hls asslsLanLŦ"
ºvery goodŦ" Pe sLepped backŦ ºClear Lhe wayŦ" Pe saluLed as
!ohn Lold Lhe shlp forwardţ slowŦ Cne of Lhe many ground level enLrles
was polnLed ouL Lo hlm as more checker helmeLed guards fllled Lhe
concourseŦ Clvlllans who were arrayed ln more colors and sLyles Lhan
had ever been ln Lhe lowa domeŦ
º1hereţ slr" !ohn was dlrecLed Lo an elevaLor plaLformŦ ºSLay ln
Lhe shlpŦ" 1he shlp sLopped and suddenly Lhe plaLform seemed Lo fall
ouL from under LhemŦ !ohn and LllzabeLh boLh crled ouL as Lhelr heads
snapped backŦ 1he small llghL ln Lhe darkness overhead grew small and
dlsappeared wlLh a shudderŦ AnLlŴgravlLy auLomaLlcally sLopped Lhe
shlp and cushloned Lhe sLop for human survlvalŦ 1he landlng was on a
level sLreLchlng Lo every horlzonŦ
LllzabeLh lmmedlaLely knew where she wasţ on Lop of a reacLorŦ
ºWhaL ls LhaL?" !ohn noLlced a llne on Lhe horlzonŦ Pe Lurned Lhe
shlp and ordered lL forwardŦ upon Lurnlng Lhe dash board changed
color and reconflguredŦ
lL was a caged area and magnlfled vlew Lold Lhem lL was fllled
wlLh shlps llke LhlsŦ LlghLs from ground vehlcles began Lo flll Lhe
darkness and laser llghLs bounced Loward LhemŦ A Lhud was heard
LhroughouL Lhe shlpŦ
ºuld someLhlng hlL us?" LllzabeLh askedŦ
1he slde wlndows reduced Lhemselves Lo small openlngsŦ !ohn
[umped up Lo see ouLsldeŦ
ºCunsţ" !ohn saldŦ º1wo on Lhe fendersţ one on Lhe roof and Lwo

ºShlpţ sLopŦ 8everseŦ" !ohn shouLed and Lhe shlp obeyedŦ
ºnoŦ Shlpţ sLopŦ" LllzabeLh called buL wlLh no responseŦ
ºShlpţ sLopŦ" !ohn echoed and Lhe shlp sLoppedŦ
ºuoor openŦ"
!ohn repeaLed her command and Lhe gull wlng door on hls slde
llfLed openŦ
ºCeL ouL!" She pushed hlm and found Lhey were boLh on Lhe
grlLLy floorŦ ºClose lLŦ"
Pe sLood and Louched a Lab LhaL leL Lhe door fall closedŦ
ºlL was swlLchlng lnLo weapon modeŦ" !ohn sald and addedŦ º8y
ºlL was proLecLlng usŦ" She explalnedŦ ºl sLudled Lhe manualŦ º
WlLh Lhe door closed and no passengers Lhe shlp gradually
reduced hover unLll lL was flaL on Lhe groundŦ 1he shlp became Len
unmovable Lonsţ a forLress agalnsL any hosLlle envlronmenL and llke Lhe
books saldţ always ready Lo serve lLs reglsLered ownerŦ
1he approachlng llghLs flooded Lhe area buL Lhe vehlcles sLopped
a cauLlous dlsLance awayŦ MosL laser llghLs danced whlle some moved
1he dark flgure of a man approachedţ he calledţ ºWho are you?"

ChapLer 1hree

1he landlng ln Chlcago would be opporLunlLy Lo explore Lhe
confllcLlng hlsLorlcal llnesŦ WhaL happened where and exacLly how long
ago? 1he lsolaLlon of Lhe domes led Lo a graceless cauLlon aL meeLlng a
surprlslng new arrlvalŦ
A phalanx of unlformed menţ arms aL readyţ gaLhered as drllled
and Look poslLlonsŦ
uusLlng herself as she walkedţ LllzabeLh enLered Lhe brlghLesL
cone of llghLŦ ºlL ls my duLy and pleasure Lo lnLroduce you Lo Lhe new
ambassador from lowaţ !ohn Mlller Lhe secondŦ As hls grandfaLher ls
recenLly deceased hls name sakeţ MrŦ Mlller Lhe second ls now
assumlng Lhe role for whlch he has been groomed all of hls llfeŦ"
Whom am l presenLlng Lo Lhe Ambassador?"
lL was a pause unLll Lhe man ln a checkered helmeL could faLhom
Lhe quesLlon and replyŦ As LllzabeLh hoped Lhls was as new Lo LhemŦ
1hese shlps sLlll flgured ln Lhe myLhology of Lhe culLure of Lhls dome
and Lhe shlp would be LreaLed wlLh greaL respecL Lhe same she hoped
for Lhe passengersŦ lrom where she sLood lL was obvlous many of Lhe
shlps were desLroyedţ damaged or sLlll caked wlLh anclenL debrls and
ºl am llrsL 8ull lnspecLor CrlmeŦ"
WlLh LhaL lnformaLlon LllzabeLh approached !ohn wlLh much
LheaLrlcal respecLŦ ºAmbassador Mlller may l presenL Chlcago llrsL 8ull
lnspecLor CrlmeŦ"
!ohn had already dusLed hlmself and sLood wlLh hls arms aL hls
sldeŦ upon lnLroducLlon he nodded hls headŦ
Palfway back Lo Lhe shlp LllzabeLh pausedŦ ºPas your governmenL
been noLlfled of our arrlval? lf noL please make arrangemenLs Lo
recelve Lhe ambassadorŦ lL was a harrowlng [ourney from lowa and
unLll you are prepared Lo formally recelve us we wlll reLurn Lo Lhe
shelLer of our shlpŦ"
º?eahţ well somebody ls gonna be here soonŦ" WlLh LhaL Lhe bull
slgnaled hls men Lo lower Lhelr weaponsŦ Lveryone was breaLhlng
8eLurnlng Lo !ohn she spoke sofLlyţ ºMrŦ Ambassador l suggesL we
should refresh ourselves ln Lhe shlpŦ"
ºShlpţ openŦ" !ohn enLered Lhe shlp and flopped lnLo Lhe
passenger seaLŦ º1hls ls refreshlngŦ"
Pe Lhen saL upţ º?ou expecL me Lo play ambassadorŦ l don'L know
whaL my grandfaLher dldŦ"
º?ou're noL playlng ambassadorţ you are Lhe ambassadorŦ 1he
shlp ls proofŦ"
!ohn saL up sLralghLţ ºShlpţ noLlflcaLlonŦ LllzabeLh ls added Lo your
command clrcleŦ 1hereţ now you can be ambassadorŦ"
ºundersLoodŦ" Sald Lhe shlpŦ
º1hey don'L seem Lo have any ldea abouL how Lo proceedŦ 8uL
when we were drlvlng l found Lhelr blnary Lransmlsslon and
downloaded a few pages of lnformaLlonŦ 1hls dome ls domlnaLed by
rlvalrlesŦ Lach caLhedral ls represenLed ln varlous acLlvlLlesŦ lL seems
Lhey have overLhrown dome harmony and lnsLead reach unlLy by
lnLernal compeLlLlonŦ"
ºnoL llke Lhe lowa domeŦ" !ohn puL hls Lhumb near hls mouLh Lo
mock Lhe lnfanLlllsm of hls prevlous hosL domeŦ
ºnever mlnd LhaLŦ Some of Lhose shlps ln Lhe cage were desLroyed
from Lhe lnsldeŦ We can'L leL Lhem engage us ln any LesL of forceŦ lL was
one shlp per dome buL Lhere musL be 30 shlps hereŦ keep Lhe shlp ln
Lhls passlve mode unLll we flnd ouL moreŦ"
1here was a knock on Lhe shlpŦ !ohn opened Lhe doorŦ ºWelcome
Lo ChlcagoŦ l am flrsL alderman CorrupLlon CreedŦ ?ou're laLe you knowŦ
AbouL 300 years Loo laLeŦ" Pe nodded aL Lhe plle of wrecks whlch were
a clue Lo Lhe memory of a greaL space baLLleŦ lL made clear Lhe
planeLary fallure Lo defeaL Lhe mechanlsm keeplng humans from Lhe
ºWe haven'L recelved an ambassador ls several llfeLlmesŦ ls lL
dlplomacy whlch brlngs you?"
º?esţ dlplomacyŦ l am Lhe new ambassador from lowaŦ My
grandfaLher frequenLly spoke of Chlcago as hls second favorlLe domeŦ
1haL was many years agoŦ"
A sLrange Lhlng Lo sayţ LllzabeLh LhoughLţ !ohn belng only
Alderman Creed nodded wlLhouL quesLlonlngŦ º?ou wlll be an
offlclal guesL for your so[ournŦ" Cn cue a Lraln of Lhree wheeled
vehlcles arrlvedŦ
?ou are ln luckŦ 1onlghL ls Lhe flnal ellmlnaLlon round and Lhe
enLlre dome wlll be waLchlngţ every caLhedral ls sLlll ln Lhe runnlngŦ
?our arrlval could noL be more proplLlous for an excellenL compeLlLlonţ l
am sure Lhe 8oard wlll wanL Lo presenL you aL Lhe openlng ceremonyŦ"
ºSounds llke funŦ" !ohn saldŦ
º?esţ funŦ" 1he alderman added a hearLy laughŦ º1he flames
should reach hlgh LonlghLŦ"
LllzabeLh saL close Lo !ohn as Lhe Lhree wheel vehlcle offered
Lhem had no doorsŦ 1hey rode Lhrough a mall wlLh no vlslble celllng
where Lhere hung Lremendous banner and Lhe lmages of players who
would be conLendlng laLerŦ near Lhe cenLer Lhey sLopped before a row
of elevaLors LhaL were ln consLanL useŦ 1he drlver cauLlously
maneuvered onLo an open plaLformŦ 1wo oLher vehlcles [olned LhemŦ
WlLh Lhe blare of a warnlng horn Lhe anLlŴgrav plaLform locked lnLo
endless plllars began lLs ascenLŦ
1he orlglnal conflguraLlon of Lhe dome could be dlscerned wlLh
alLlLudeţ pools and gardens LhaL were now aL rlghL angles Lo Lhelr
deslgn became lmmense frames for plcLures of enLlre LeamsŦ 1helr
drlver polnLed ouL hls favorlLeţ Lhe Lake SLreeL Muggersţ Lhree seasons
unscaLhed and sald he was a Lake SLreeL boy onceŦ Pls prlde over LhaL
was clearŦ Þromenades and fooL paLhs LhaL wenL up Lhe wall dld look
sLrangeŦ 1he rlslng plaLform enLered an unllL zone afLer Lhe 130
ºAlmosL Lhere nowţ" Lhe drlver sald ln Lhe gloomţ º?ou wlll have a greaL
vlew of Lhe gameţ governmenL offlces look down on Lhe maln arenaŦ"
1he plaLform sLopped where Lhe column LhaL gulded Lhem endedŦ
ºAlmosL Lhere nowŦ" 1he drlver Lurned sharplyŦ 1he wall on one slde
conLlnued Lo unseen helghLs and on Lhe open slde a frall looklng fence
kepL Lhem from falllng Lo Lhe floor belowŦ 1urnlng agaln Lhey could see
noL Loo far a llL areaŦ
CovernmenL CenLer sald Lhe slgn Lhlck wlLh dusLŦ LveryLhlng ln Lhe
quarLers was gold and sllver buL Lhe smell of musL was sLrongŦ
ºlL's been a whlle sald Lhe drlverŦ" lllpplng a swlLch produced a
loud sound and a mlld breezeŦ ºWe'll Lake care of youŦ noL Lo worryŦ"
º1hese are some real oldlesŦ" 1he drlver sald examlnlng one of Lhe
many porLralLs LhaL were LhroughouL Lhe CenLerŦ ºvenganceţ he was
one of Lhe greaLsŦ 1en seasonsţ no one can do LhaL LodayŦ llve seasons
and mandaLory reLlremenLŦ" 1urnlng as he spoke Lhe drlver polnLed aL
hlmself wlLh boLh Lhumbsţ ºl survlved fourŦ" Þulllng up hls Lee shlrL
reveallng a large uneven scarŦ ºl sLuffed ln my own lnLesLlnes and goL
back ln Lhe gameŦ 1haL was my lasL seasonŦ"
ºWe are very lmpressedţ" LllzabeLh saldţ ºWe are noL Loo famlllarŦ
Maybe you can explaln Lhe scorlng Lo usŦ" She held ouL Lhe LableL
dlsplaylng Lhe blnary lnformaLlon downloaded Lhe day beforeŦ
1he drlver examlned Lhe LableL flrsLŦ ºl dldn'L go Lo LhaL gameŦ l
had a seaL ln Lhe maln arenaţ four seasons means llfeLlme seaLlngŦ l llke
Lo slL close where l can geL splaLLeredţ remlnds me of Lhe old daysŦ
WhaL do you wanL Lo know?"
ºWhaL do Lhe numbers mean?"
Pe defLly ran hls flnger down Lhe sldeţ º1hls ls Lhe SlaughLer
Avenue Cang agalnsL Lhe 8apld uogsţ Leam loses ln LhaL maLchţ season
sLandlngţ LoLal Lhls seasonţ and Lhe subLrahendŦ 1en Lo elevenţ a close
one and Lhe LoLalţ LwenLy LwoŦ"
ºWhaL abouL Lhls blg boLLom number?" Pls explanaLlon had noL
clarlfled anyLhlngŦ
ºCne hundred flfLy seven mllllonţ Lwo hundred nlneLy one
Lhousand and seven hundred and elghLeenţ Lhe mlnuendŦ"
º?esţ l can read buL why ls lL so hlgh?"
ºlL wlll be lower Lomorrow afLer LonlghL's gamesŦ 1haL's for sureŦ"
Pe laughed aL hls humor Lhen added a laugh Lo slgnal he was leavlngŦ
Pe llcked hls llps before speaklngţ º1here ls noLhlng llke lLŦ l been Lo
plenLy of orgles and noL even sex compares Lo Lhe exhlleraLlon and fear
of belng on Lhe playlng fleldŦ SLay closeŦ ?our arrlval ls a good slgnŦ We
wlll have a camera llne on youŦ 1he flrsL nlghL of Lhe flnally prellmlnary
ellmlnaLlon and Lhe flrsL ambassadorlal vlslL ln 97 yearsţ lL ls no mere
colncldenceţ lL's god's wlllŦ 1hls should be a greaL nlghLŦ" 1he gold door
closed afLer hlmŦ
!ohn sLood aL Lhe wlndowţ Lhe dome had a lens cuL lnLo lL Lo make
Lhe shape of an arenaŦ lrom Lhelr wlndow ln Lhe 130
floor Lhey could
see Lhe pollshed floor of Lhe playlng fleld and Lhe publlc sLands buL
mosL of Lhe vlew was Lhe lake and skyŦ 1ogeLher !ohn and LllzabeLh
marveled aL Lhe mlghLy aurora colorlng Lhe skyŦ SLlll Lhree hours away
people were gaLherlngţ Lhe rlng around Lhe playlng fleld was almosL
fullŦ 1he probable reason Lhe drlver wlLh four seasons was ln such a
hurryŦ 1o caLch some splaLLerŦ
ºuld you llke hls scar?" !ohn askedŦ
ºnoL funnyŦ l don'L llke anyLhlng abouL LhlsŦ Pow are we supposed
Lo flnd Mary?"
ºMaybe when everyone ls aL Lhe game we can look aroundŦ"
1earlng herself from Lhe wlndow LllzabeLh examlned her
surroundlngs and found a Lermlnal slmllar Lo Lhe one ln Lhe llbrary
excepL llke everyLhlng ln Lhe room lL was sllver wlLh gold buLLons and
screwsŦ Lach of Lhe 24 parlshes came up ln a llsLŦ She wanLed Lo know
how many faces Lhey would have Lo compare Lo flnd MaryŦ AL boLLom
was LhaL number agalnŦ º1hls ls noL [usL a gameŦ 1he number
137ţ291ţ718 ls Lhe populaLlon of Lhe domeŦ l don'L know whaL lL means
buL l don'L feel good abouL LhlsŦ" lor Lhe momenL she was quleL abouL
her susplclon of whaL lL meanLŦ
1he deslgn of a dome was flrsL Lo safely house Lhe local
populaLlon buL Lhe poLenLlal for Lhe domes was LhaL once Lhe boLLom
and lower walls fllled wlLh people Lhen Lhe floors spannlng Lhe dome
could be bullL Lo hold many Llmes Lhe populaLlonŦ lor Lhose added
mllllons Lhe accommodaLlons were Lo be bullL laLerţ ln Lhe fuLure when
Lhe need became apparenLŦ 1he deslgners' lnLenLlon and Lhe acLual
resulL were noL whaL was once dreamedŦ LllzabeLh's naLlve dome had
been ln a sLeady populaLlon decllneţ and Lhe percepLlon here was as
dlfferenL as Lhe soluLlonŦ ln Chlcago afLer Lhe narrow cubes wlLh low
celllngs for llvlng were Lurned on Lhe slde Lhe bland floors became
soarlng LowersŦ Lvery floor had an acLual Lop and boLLomŦ lL awoke ln
Lhe lnhablLanLs a hlerarchyŦ !usL as Lhe flaLness of Lhe modesL slngle
floor encouraged equallLy among resldenceţ Lhls new archlLecLure dld
Lhe opposlLeŦ Chlcago became a Lyrannlcal world domlnaLlng power
and was lnevlLably overLhrown and now ln LhaL furLher afLermaLh ls
Lhrlvlng once agalnŦ
She hoped her analysls was wrong buL lf noL she wanLed no parL
of Lhls comlng compeLlLlonŦ

WhaL a greaL nlghLŦ WhaL a greaL nlghLŦ WhaL a greaL nlghLŦ
SLaggerlng from Lhe specLacle she found Lhe brlghLly llL baLhroom
where she puked on her knees ln a clamshell shaped LolleLŦ She fell lnLo
her bed LhaL was llke a cloud buL only saw Lhe same Lhlng ln fronL of her
eyesŦ 8eLurnlng Lo Lhe vlewlng area she gaLhered !ohn who had hls
head ln hls lapţ Lhe floor aL hls feeL was weLŦ ln Lhe vlew room open on
Lhe buLchery below she noLlced LhaL smell for Lhe flrsL Llme and she
foughL Lhe urge of her sLomach Lo empLyŦ Cnce on hls feeL !ohn walkedŦ
º1hls ls golng Lo be a greaL nlghLŦ" 1he governmenL's oLher guesLs
were saylng and cheerlngŦ 8y bloody Lurns enLhuslasLlc vlcLems dled
LhaL nlghL and Lhelr bodles fed a flreŦ !ohn and LllzabeLh had clearly
been responslble for Lhe gore on Lhe fleldŦ
1he nexL day Lhey were led aroundŦ 1he prlde Lhey resLored Lo Lhe
baLLllng caLhedrals overflowed lnLo Lhe commonsŦ 1hey saL Lhrough
parades and feasLs ln every cornerŦ !ohn was glad Lo Lake some wlneŦ
LllzabeLh could noL eaL or speak and !ohn who as a Leenager was begln
Lo learn Lhe effecL of words remalned sllenLţ he learned how Lo carry
hlmself monLhs ago on Lhe lowa dome game showŦ Pe shared hls
lnslghL wlLh LllzabeLhţ º8e quleL and leL oLhers reveal Lhemselves Lo
uays laLer lL was sLlll recalledţ @f was a greaL nlghLŦ lL made Lhe
recepLlon for Lhe ambassador graclous and opulenLţ fllled wlLh glfLs and
feasLlng Lo be followed by anoLher maLch ln Lhelr honorŦ 1he success of
Lhelr dlplomaLlc mlsslonţ lf Lhere was oneţ would now be assuredŦ 1helr
arrlval had broughL new llfe Lo Lhe gamesŦ
lL was days unLll LllzabeLh could say she was no longer
experlenclng Lhe sense of unreallLy Lhe specLacle lnducedŦ
LvenLually she plcked up a newspaper prlnLed on plasheeL and
learned moreŦ 1he number of bables concelved LhaL nlghL was prlnLed
and even Lhe deLall of Lhose concelved durlng Lhe game was lncludedŦ
ÞropheLs and oplnlon makers ln prlnL all agreedţ f nlghL marked Lhe
end of Lhe LlmldlLy of Lhe currenL generaLlon and as Lhe world reaches
Lo us ln Lhe person of Lhe ambassador and hls lovely pale helper so Loo
can we expecL greaL nlghLs ln Lhe fuLureŦ
ºl Lhlnk we are Lhe flrsL ouLslders Lo see LhlsŦ" LllzabeLh Look
lnLeresL ln Lhe way Lhe playlng floor was resLored and even Lhe alr was
cleansed of Lhe meaLy smell of dead flesh and Lhe smoke of Lhe gameŦ
A dozen Laken down by one bladesman before Lhe conLenders could
leap from heaped bodles and aLLack wlLh Lhe dead's severed llmbsŦ 1he
enormous blades gllnLed as llmbsţ lnLesLlnes and head chunks sprayedŦ
Lven Lhe showy dlsplay of Lhe Aurora was forgoLLen and Lhe shower of
blood lnvlLed more conLesLanLŦ lL was lnLoxlcaLlng Lo LhemŦ numbers ln
all compeLlLlons were up ln Lhe wake of Lhe slaughLer ln Lhe maln
arenaŦ ºl don'L wanL Lo sLay hereŦ 1he goal of Lhe game ls populaLlon
conLrolŦ l Lhlnk we should leaveŦ"
ºMaryŧ" !ohn spoke her name lnLo Lhe alr as Lhough he knew she
would noL be foundŦ She was a splrlL nowŦ
ºPow do we geL back Lo Lhe shlp? 1hey knew us comlng ln and
Lhey mlghL sLop us golng ouLŦ"
º1hey can'L keep usŦ We'll [usL say we have Lo conLlnue Lo Lhe
nexL domeŦ º
ºl have Lo look for herŦ"
ln Lhe few days slnce Lhey arrlved Lhe narrow peak of 130
had become lllumlnaLed as rooms lmmedlaLely below fllled wlLh
servanLsţ caLhedral represenLaLlvesţ cooksţ food LasLersţ food serversţ
bullsţ overseers and women wlLh Lape measures who were sendlng a
consLanL processlon of new apparel Lo Lhe room and Lechnlcal help Lo
keep all sysLems ln Lhe room runnlngŦ
1he mosL avld conLacL was Alderman Creed and lL was who !ohn
approachedŦ ºl'm looklng for a womanŦ"
ºShe's no good?" 1he alderman askedŦ
LllzabeLh was sLandlng rlghL Lhere and !ohn [umped ln Lo prevenL
awkwardnessŦ ºl am looklng for a speclflc woman who may be here
agalnsL her wlllŦ"
1he alderman looked baffled LhaL anyone from ouLslde would noL
wanL Lo be hereŦ ºuoes she have a name?"
!ohn Lold her buL lL was an aLLempL desLlned Lo fall as Lhe
alderman was deLermlned Lo prevenL any LroubleŦ Clvlng Lhe
ambassador a brace of servanLs was flneţ lL spread prlde and harmonyţ
Lhe more of LhaL Lhe beLLerŦ Powever unleashlng Lhe bull deparLmenL
Lo search Lhrough Lhe many hlcks who found Lhelr way Lo Chlcago was
ouL of Lhe quesLlonŦ
uurlng Lhe days of walLlng for Lhe resulL of Lhe alderman's
lnvesLlgaLlon Lhe games conLlnuedŦ !ohn and LllzabeLh found no way Lo
escape lLŦ 1here was an ocean of bloodţ rheum and slnew gaLhered llke
foam and bones proLruded everywhereŦ uurlng Lhe day loudspeakers
broadcasL lnLervlews wlLh random survlvorsŦ 1hey all sald Lhe same
Lhlngţ ºlL was a greaL gameţ l goL sLlLchesţ hl momŦ" ln publlc areas and
sLore wlndows lmages wenL up of Lhe ambassador and hls asslsLanL on
Lhelr flrsL nlghL aL Lhe game before Lhe expresslon of shock seL lnŦ
1he smell was back each nlghL buL Lhe smoke was fllllng more of
Lhe sLadlum as Lhe bodles were more numerous and Lhe flames grew
hlgherŦ !ohn waLched one nlghL and reporLed Lo LllzabeLh abouL Lhe
prlesLs who fed handfuls of chemlcals from buckeLs Lo color Lhe flamesŦ
8uL afLer Lhe flrsL wave aLLacked and managed Lo capLure Lhe blade
!ohn was agaln slckŦ CLhers ln Lhe room laughed aL hlmţ even Lhe
1he sporL had been flneŴLuned over cenLurlesţ squads of flfLy menţ
adulLs who were ln good flghLlng condlLlonţ wearlng only Lhe colors of
Lhelr clLy or caLhedral around Lhelr mlddlesţ barefooL and hands empLy
fall ln waves agalnsL Lhe clrcle of bladesmenŦ 1he flrsL mlnuLes are an
agony unLll a bladesman ls broughL down buL ln Lhose mlnuLes Lhe
playlng fleld ls LransformedŦ 1he bloodţ guLs and shlL make Lhe surface
sllck and Lhe man holdlng Lhe heavy roLaLlng blades may become a
LhreaL Lo hls own Leam and hlmself should he sllpŦ 8uL soon ln LhaL fleld
Lhe survlvlng players seem Lo en[oy LhemselvesŦ 1hose who llve afLer
Lhe flrsL onslaughL of play have a hope of survlvlng Lo Lhe end and a
chance Lo do some kllllngŦ
lL was noL [usL one Leam agalnsL Lhe oLherţ lL broughL up Lhe
anclenL waysţ Leam work and LacLlcsţ a small group of a Leam wlll cuL
off a slngle sLraggler of Lhe opposlLlonŦ 1hey especlally en[oy LhaL klll
and have a splrlLual communlon ln kllllng as oneŦ lrom seaLs ln Lhe
arena or waLchlng on boxes Lhe resL of Lhe dome [oln ln LhaL speclal
feellngŦ All LhaL ln Lhree mlnuLes and afLer each conLesL when Lhe dead
and body parLs are rolled up and Lled wlLh lnLesLlnes lL ls a soberlng
momenLŦ lL says Lo Lhe dome LhaL lL could be any one of usŦ Þollshlng
machlnes qulckly clean for Lhe nexL fresh conLesLanLs and refreshmenL
sellers walk Lhrough Lhe grandsLandŦ
1he flrsL maLch ls always Lhe greaLesLŦ Seelng Lhe blg men go
down made lL an lnsplraLlon for Leensţ women and glrls who followedŦ
Cnce a monLh was klds nlghL and Lhey had an old Llmers league of men
ln Lhelr flfLles sllclng each oLher wlLh old sLyle daggersŦ
ºuo you llke lL?" !ohn was asked more ofLen Lhan he asked
anyLhlng abouL Lhe gameŦ Pe never could blurL ouL whaL he was feellng
buL he could noL hlde hls palned expresslonţ he was always remlnded
LhaL lL was needed for populaLlon conLrol and only Lhe sLrong survlveŦ
!ohn could only plcLure hlmself hldlng under a sLack of legsŦ Pe sensed
LhaL Lhey sensed hls dlsgusLŦ
Alderman Creed explalned lL Lo Lhe ambassador one nlghLţ º1hls ls
our wayŦ lf man musL have war leL's [usL do lL wlLhouL Lhe machlnes
LhaL geL desLroyed or are lmmedlaLely ouL daLedŦ A wasLe of money and
resourcesŦ 8uL here you see war as lL was foughL ln Lhe beglnnlng wlLh
Lhe same prlde and healLhy feellngs as our ancesLors felLŦ lL served as
populaLlon conLrol Lhen as nowŦ And when Lhe games are popular lL
drlves Lhe economy and people are happlerŦ"
ºPow do you know lf people are happy?" !ohn askedŦ
ºLess sulcldes and more bablesŦ When Lhe games are exclLlng
people are here or home wlLh Lhelr boxes waLchlng oLher people dle
and noL kllllng LhemselvesŦ lL's noL as bad as lL looksţ l've been Lhrough
Lwlceţ only a llLLle scraLchŦ" Pe leaned forward ln hls seaL and pulled
down Lhe back of hls shlrL collar reveallng a crescenL scar sLarLlng ln hls
scalp dlsappearlng down hls backŦ º8lade grazed meŦ l helped Lake
down Lhe flrsL bladesmanŦ l was LwenLy elghL and ln Lhe shape of my
llfeŦ Cver one hundred sLlLchesŦ Cne hundred and LwenLy flveŦ"
lf Lhe prlde aL Lhe momenL of klll was noL enough !ohn could see
Lhe laLer prlde of Lhe Alderman CreedŦ ºWould you llke Lo Lry? l could
send you down wlLh Lhe Leen boysŦ ?ou're ln good shapeŦ 1hey go ln
200 aL a LlmeŦ Palf don'L even geL a scarŦ"
ºl have a dlplomaLlc mlsslonŦ 1hank youţ maybe anoLher LlmeŦ
Pave you had any luck wlLh my frlend?"
ºMary ls a very sLrange nameţ l don'L Lhlnk she could have goL far
calllng herself LhaLŦ Pow abouL a number? WhaL's her number? 1haL's
how people conLacL each oLher around hereţ by numberŦ"
ºShe was from lowaţ Lhere we are sLlll known by namesŦ"
ºWell Lhls ls ChlcagoŦ" WlLh Lhls lnslghL !ohn wenL back Lo
LllzabeLh's prlvaLe roomŦ
ºl Lhlnk we mlghL flnd Mary lf we look under a dlfferenL nameŦ"
ºWhaL? CeL ouL of here you sLlnkŦ"
!ohn wenL back Lo Lhe hall and Lalked lnLo Lhe door crackŦ ºLeL's
face lL Lhe man Look Mary here for one reason and we have Lo sLarL
looklng for her under a name LhaL has Lo do wlLh sex or screwlngŦ"
She Lhrew a robe wlLh fur Lrlm over her plaln pa[amas and wenL Lo
Lhe doorŦ ºCf courseŦ WhaL are some of Lhose phrases Lhey used ln Lhe
llLeraLureŦ Llke PoL Mama or lloozyŦ LeL's Lry Lhe Lermlnal ln Lhe mlddle
roomŦ" 1he publlc room was full of LhaL smell so slckenlng Lo LllzabeLhŦ
ºl'll look wlLh you ln Lhe mornlngŦ" She lefL !ohn aL Lhe Lermlnal and
reLurned Lo her roomŦ
Cne dld noL have Lo spend a llfeLlme ln a llbrary Lo know Lhe
Lerms for whoreŦ 1he Lermlnal poured ouL an unfaLhomable amounL of
maLerlalŦ 1he crowd ln Lhe oLher room was waLchlng Lhe undercard ln
Lransflxed sllence whlle Lhe room !ohn was ln grew more redolenL wlLh
Lhe sLenchŦ lL seemed Lo !ohn all of Lhe sex for hlre was locaLed ln Lhe
same dlsLrlcL of anoLher caLhedralŦ 1haL was Lhe place Lo look and wlLh
everyone waLchlng Lhe bloodshed Lhls seemed a good Llme Lo goŦ

CPA81L8 3
lL was dlfflculL geLLlng away from CreedŦ When Lhe supreme
counsel came Lo call on Lhe ambassador Lhey meL ln Creed's offlce and
passed Lhrough hls lush appolnLmenLs and were walLed on by hls
servanLsŦ Creed explalned Lo !ohn LhaL ln Lhe power sLruggle beLween
Lhe caLhedrals and Lhe councll LhaL he was Lhe supreme of boLhŦ
ln Chlcago no man publlcly wlll speak Lo a woman excepL ln
orderlng servanLs and LhaL ls done avoldlng any eye conLacLŦ LllzabeLh lf
menLlon was referred Lo by aLLrlbuLeţ ?our Lall helperţ pale asslsLanLţ
frlend wlLh long halrŦ lf Creed had chlldren lL was only 3 sonsţ Lhe 3
daughLers were noL menLloned ln publlc or ouLslde Lhe home and flrsL
clrcle of Lhe famllyŦ 1he home was a nesL for baby producLlonŦ CuLslde
women could work as servanLs and men dld everyLhlng elseŦ And
everyone Look parL ln Lhe gamesŦ
Creed klcked a LoLLerlng servanL and !ohn learned LhaL Lhere was
also a casLe off subhuman who falled cerLaln LesLs and desplLe belng
sLerlllzed Lhey kepL arlslng ln Lhe populaLlonŦ When Lhey reached a
sLaLe of belng unmanageable or dlsobedlenL Lhey were asslgned Lo Lhe
pracLlce sesslons for Lhe gameŦ ln Chlcago everyone of upper casLe ls
brusque ln speech and men greeL wlLh shoulder punchesţ when noL
worklng Lhey bulld Lhelr bodlesŦ ServanLs are hunched and Lend Lo look
ashy and few of Lhem go Lo Lhe games volunLarllyŦ 1he lower casLe has
no culLure buL ls deemed congenlLal cowardsŦ 1he splrlL of Lhe game ls
robusLness and healLhţ Lhe sLrongesL llve Lo reproduceţ because Lhe
lower casLe lncluded Lhe bllnd and lame Lhey Lended noL Lo have LhaL
passlonŦ Loss of genlLalla and sLarvaLlon food raLlons conLrlbuLed Lo
Lhelr cowardllnessŦ 8elng chlldless Lhey have llLLle sLake ln socleLyŦ
All of Lhe caLhedrals converged on Lhe commonŦ 1he 22 faces of
Lhe dome bared Lhelr LeeLh aL Lhe worldŦ !ohn goL ln a Lhree wheeler
and Lold Lhe drlver Lhe name of Lhe caLhedral where all of Lhe sex for
hlre was golng onŦ !ohn felL no embarrassmenL because Lhe servanLs
were so well adapLed Lo beLraylng no emoLlon of Lhelr ownŦ
Where mosL caLhedrals had gargoyles and Lallsman carved lnLo
Lhe columns here Lhe columns were plaln and had once been whlLe buL
were dlngy from Lhe smoke whlch someLlmes blew back lnLo Lhe domeŦ
lmmedlaLely !ohn recognlzed lL as a hosplLalŦ 8uL where were Lhe
1he servanL asked lf he should walLŦ
ºWhaL dld you say?"
ºl wlll walLţ slrŦ"
!ohn had been around enough Lo know LhaL Lhls servanL knew
who he was and was badly conceallng lL on purposeŦ lL would be Loo
blzarre lf he sald unnecessary words Lo a servanLŦ !ohn walked lnLo Lhe
plasLeel and plaglass enLry Lo Lhe hosplLalŦ
ºCan l help you?" She wore a sLrlpped dress buL was noL a
ºl am looklng for a parLlcular sex workerŦ"
Per llps sealedţ she backed away buL polnLedţ ºlollow LhaL
maroon sLrlpeŦ" lollowlng Lhe maroon lnvolved several elevaLor
changesţ he saw bables Lhen old peopleŦ Pe changed elevaLors and
heard groans from survlvors of Lhe games who llved Lo be LreaLed Lhelr
wounds belng Loo serlous Lo sew closed Lhemselves upŦ Cn LhaL level
were large publlc boxes of Lhe game and a causeway where aL Lhe end
reflecLed Lhe llghL of Lhe flre from Lhe gameŦ 1he lasL was noL an
elevaLor buL an open alr holsL and a cageŦ Pe heslLaLed geLLlng lnŦ lL was
dark above excepL for a few red llghLsŦ 1he conLrol lnslde Lhe cage had
Lwo poslLlonsţ a pollshed red and a dull greenŦ Pe pushed greenţ Lhere
was a [olL and Lhe car roseŦ 1hls was Lhe unresLored parL of Lhe dome
where walls served as floors and doors are ln Lhe celllngŦ Where Lhe
cage sLopped Lhere were no slgns and lL was Loo dark Lo readŦ
1he red llghLs were far aparL buL he walked slowly Loward Lhe
closesLŦ An open door ln a floor would be hard Lo seeŦ 1he llghL was ln a
frameţ lL was a wlndow on a small huLŦ 1here was a doorţ !ohn knocked
Lhen enLeredŦ 8aLhed ln red llghL a woman recllned on a bedŦ near Lhe
bed was a box LhaL showed where !ohn had come from ouLslde Lhe huLŦ
!ohn sLood uncomforLablyţ hls head almosL Louchlng Lhe celllngŦ
When hls eyes ad[usLed he saw LhaL Lhe woman was nakedţ he
apologlzed and sLepped ouLŦ Pe pausedţ now lL was seLLled ln hls mlnd
for all Llmeţ [umplng ouL of Lhe room was hls flrsL reacLlon Lo a naked
womanŦ 1haL quesLlon was a remnanL from hls old llfe before Lhe floodŦ
Pe had been a problem aL school and lL seemed he never goL along wlLh
hls parenLsŦ Whyţ he asked hlmselfţ am l dolng Lhls?
ºl am looklng for someoneţ" he sald aL Lhe closed doorŦ
1here was no responseŦ
ºl don'L know her name hereŦ She used Lo be called MaryŦ l have
an old plcLure of herŦ We were Lo marry buL her faLher sold her Lo a
man from ChlcagoŦ"
1he door opened very slowlyŦ ºWhaL's wrong wlLh you?" she
whlspered openlng lL furLherţ nakedţ ºWe're noL supposed Lo Lalk up
hereŦ She sllpped ouL of Lhe room presslng her back Lo Lhe wallŦ ºWe
can Lalk hereŧ" whlsperlngţ ºLlke Lhls Lhe bulldlng sLlll Lhlnks l am lnslde
and Lhe ferLlllLy monlLor can sLlll read meŦ"
Looklng only aL Lhelr feeL !ohn Look Lhe flexlble LableL from hls
pockeL and held lL Lo where he hoped she could seeŦ Pe dld noL wanL Lo
close hls eyesţ Pavlng crossed a vasL darkness he sLlll felL unsLeady Lhey
had Lo whlsper and wlLh her back pressed Lo Lhe wall her breasL fllled
hls mlndŦ ºCuLe glrl buL l don'L know herŦ no one ls supposed Lo know
anyone hereŦ l am here unLll l geL pregnanLŦ lf l don'L l become
reclasslfled for belng lnferLlleŦ Why a man comes here ls hls own
buslnessŦ l don'L even wanL Lo knowŦ uoesn'L she have a number?"
ºnoţ only MaryŦ"
º1haL doesn'L mean anyLhlngŦ"
ºWhere l come from a name ls used lf lL ls speclal llke Maryţ or
!ohnţ Lo llnk wlLh someone you loved who llved beforeŦ 1haL's whaL lL
ºl knew who you were as soon as you opened Lhe doorŦ ?ou're Lhe
ambassador everyone ls Lalklng abouLŦ Maybe you can help me?"
ºPow can l help you?" !ohn sounded doubLful slnce he was new
and somewhaL a prlsonerŦ
ºMaybe you have some speclal sauce from lowa LhaL wlll help me
geL a babyŦ"
!ohn's halr sLood on end and he had goose bumpsŦ ºl couldn'LŦ l
can'L glve you a baby and leaveŦ"
ºlL Lakes up Lo half an hourŦ ?ou can leave before Lhe ferLlllLy
alarm soundsŦ uo you Lhlnk l am ugly? ?ou would really be helplng me lf
you gave lL Lo meŦ"
!ohn's morals and a llfeLlme of publlc school healLh Lralnlng fllled
hls head wlLh close ups of penls cankers oozlng pussţ noses llke garllc
bulbs from syphllls and faces dlsflgured by herpesŦ
ºl knowţ l have already been dlagnosed wlLh low pheromonesŦ"
ºl'm sorryŦ" Pe knew her faLe and sensed Lhe desperaLlon growlng
ln herţ lL frlghLened hlmŦ Pe could noL be her source of hopeţ !ohn
[usLlfled hlmselfţ lL ls a hopeless slLuaLlonŦ ln lowa Lhe nearby company
farms used slaves from Chlna and Lhls was no dlfferenLŦ Cn Lhe way
down he Look a Lhree wheeler Lo approach Lhe vlewlng areaŦ
1he fleld for Lhe games was far away wlLh very llLLle dlrecL vlewţ
buL Lhe smoke and smell were presenLŦ Pe could see Lhe governmenL
vlÞ quarLers dlrecLly above Lhe fleldŦ Pe counLed llghL squares Lo flnd
Lhe llghL ln LllzabeLh's roomŦ She's probably readlngţ he Lold hlmselfŦ
SomeLhlng abouL Lhe LhoughL of LllzabeLh made hlm feel beLLerŦ
8y Lhe Llme Lhe red llghLs were danclng on Lhe surface of Lake
Mlchlgan Lhe games were overŦ ºCommonsŦ" Pe Look a Lhree wheeler
back Lo Lhe commonsŦ Pe could noL speak and wlshed hls sLomach
would go back down hls LhroaLŦ Pe had noL even seen Lhe acLlonţ ºlL
musL be Lhe smell of LhaL smokeŦ" Lven Lhls far away Lhe alr carrled Lhe
sLench of grease smokeŦ
lf Lhe locals were noL slck Lhey were somber and quleL by Lhe endţ
Lhe celebranL splrlL for Lhe blg men who always opened Lhe game
Lransformed by Lhe lasL baLLle of small chlldrenŦ 1hey screamed and fell
llke blown ouL flowersŦ Modlfled blades gave Lhem mosLly superflclal
wounds buL more Lhan a few made lL Lo Lhe flreŦ
1he moon was brlghL brown and he found Lhe only car and drlverŦ
ºSLaLe SLreeLŦ" !ohn commanded falllng lnŦ
1haL was a presumpLuous quesLlonţ Lhe sorL of breach LhaL was
unheard ofţ aL LhaL he !ohn recognlzed Lhe drlver from beforeŦ
º?esŦ" !ohn reLurned wlLh cauLlonŦ 1he Lhree wheeler had drawn
close Lo Lhe bulldlngs where ln Lhe darkness cameras could noL
ºuo you Lhlnk Lhere ls someLhlng wrong here?" ln Lhe Llme before
!ohn could answer dlplomaLlcally Lhe drlver conLlnuedŦ ºl know l look
llke a servanLţ a defecLlveţ buL Lhere was a Llme when l was llke Lhe
resLŦ ?ou seeŧ" he gaLhered hls shlrL around hls neckţ ºl have no scarsŦ
1hey labeled me a coward buL l was only afrald of hurLlng someone
elseŦ 1hey Look my balls and labeled meŦ l don'L quallfy as a clLlzen lf l
have no scarsŦ"
l know ln my sLomach LhaL Lhlsţ all of lL ls wrong"
8emalnlng quleL !ohn llsLenedŦ
ºl was a manager when Lhey were looklng aL me for a promoLlonŦ l
Lold Lhem l dldn'L wanL lL buL Lhey would noL leL lL goŦ 1he flnal eval for
Lhe posL was who had Lhe besL scars?" 1he drlver shook hls headŦ º1he
super and a prlesL came Lo see meŦ 1hen l was escorLed by Lhe prlesL
and a bullŦ 1hey laughed aL my LrembllngŦ Lven as a school boy l hung
backţ Lhlnklng abouL whaL Lhey were dolngŦ Cur Leachers were Lhe
8ladesmen LhaL dayŦ 1here were oLhers wlLh meţ Lhey were crylng and
afraldŦ l only LhoughL how wrong lL all seemedŦ When Lhey had me
under arresL Lhey LhoughL l was afraldŦ l knew Lhey expecLed me Lo run
away and Lhe bull would be happy Lo klll me on Lhe spoLŦ 8uL l would
noL glve Lhem LhaL saLlsfacLlonŦ 8ecause of my slze l was Lhrown ln wlLh
hlgh school klds from a sLrange caLhedralŦ 1he bull sLood by never
Laklng hls eye off meŦ
ºl could hear Lhe cheers as Lhe blg men wenL ouLŦ And ln Lhe prep
room 8ladesmen near us were ad[usLlng Lhelr blades on pracLlce
vlcLlmsţ l know Lhey dld lL on purposeŦ 1he blades Lore lnLo Lhe vlcLlms
when we were naked and Lhen Lhey handed ouL Lhe sashesŦ 1hey goL
Lhe blood on us LhaL way buL noL on Lhe school colorsŦ When Lhe door
opened we wanLed ouLŦ lf we showed any heslLaLlon abouL golng onLo
Lhe fleld we would end up pracLlce vlcLlmsŦ
ºl hung back wlLh Lhe school boys and goL Lhrough wlLhouL a scarŦ
Why am l dlfferenL? l don'L knowŦ l was Laken Lo rlngslde as a baby for
Lhe blood bapLlsmŦ 8uL l could never accepL lLŦ 1wo or Lhree Llmes a
year my faLher Look meŦ Pe was a good dad and Lold me how he goL hls
scarsŦ 8uL l never llked lLŦ noL aL allţ l [usL saw so much paln from people
hurLlng each oLherŦ l re[ecLed lLŦ 8y re[ecLlng lL l was Lhrowlng my llfe
awayŦ no woman would marry a man unscarred so l hardly cared when
Lhey Look my ballsŦ
ºl asked my dad when l was a kld lf Lhe game hurL hlmŦ Pe sald no
buL added LhaL even lf lL dld he wouldn'L admlL lLŦ 1haLţ he saldţ ls whaL
made hlm a manŦ AfLer l was flred aL work Lhey dragged me from Lhe
home where l used Lo llveŦ 8eLween games Lhey broughL ouL me and
several oLher men geLLlng Lhelr balls off LhaL dayŦ l was never afrald of
Lhe paln for myselfŦ l dldn'L wanL Lo hurL anyone elseŦ WhaL else would l
do lf l goL Lhe blade from Lhe bladesman? 1hey could noL Lurn me lnLo a
klllerŦ l LhoughL of my faLher when Lhey clamped Lhe small sprlng
loaded blade around my sacŦ Some of Lhe oLher fellows wlLh me crled
and begged Lhe enLlre LlmeŦ lor my dad aL home Lo see when Lhey
sprang Lhe blade and my sac hlL Lhe ground LhaL l dld noL shed a Lear or
make a soundŦ 1haL l Loo was a manŦ"
l sLlll wanLed Lo llveŦ Some of Lhe guys l was wlLh LhaL nlghL were
defecLlvesŦ When we enLered for casLraLlon Lhe crowd was laughlng
and Lhrowlng small sLrlps of wlreŦ 1he wlre for us Lo Lle ourselves wlLh
before Lhe sLeel clamp ls puL onŦ Some of Lhose poor guys who could
noL Lle a shoe and fumbled wlLh Lhelr wlres were Lhe ones who bled Lo
deaLh begglng for helpŦ 8uL Lhen lL was Loo laLeţ Lhey should have asked
for help beforeŦ 1hey were ldloLs and dummlesţ Lhey dldn'L undersLandŦ
1haL doesn'L maLLer nowŦ"
MrŦ Ambassadorţ Lhls dome ls a hell holeŦ 1he penalLy for Lalklng
Lo a subhuman llke we're dolng now ls worse Lhan lf you Look ouL your
dagger and kllled meţ even wlLhouL a reasonŦ"
1ell me lL's noL llke Lhls where you come fromŦ"
WlLh Lhe lmage of Lhe woman's body sLlll deralllng hls LhoughLsţ
º?esţ lL's dlfferenL where l come fromŦ Cames llke Lhese are unheard of
ln lowaŦ"
ºlL's a flve hundred year old secreLŦ 1haL's why Lhey gaLes lock
when Lhe games beglnŦ 1he domes populaLlon was doubllng and
redoubllngŦ lL puL an end Lo LhaLŦ WhaL do you do wlLh excess
populaLlon ln your dome?"
ºnoLhlngŦ We have sLarvlng and homelessŦ MosL people are
hungry from season Lo seasonŦ no kllllngsŦ"
ºuo you have Lhe rellglon?"
ºSome people are rellglous buL noL llke Lhls rellglonŦ Marrlage and
funeral rellglonŦ"
ºPow abouLţ 'do unLo oLhers Lwlce whaL you Lhlnk oLhers would
do onLo you lf Lhey caughL you dolng whaL Lhey dld'? Lven Lhelr
commandmenLs say 'A man shall klll only enough Lo cover hlmself and
hls wlfe'? Whlch makes murder or kllllng more Lhan Lwo ln Lhe rlng
Lechnlcally lllegalŦ" Pe had pracLlced Lhe reason Lo supporL hls feellng
many Llmes ln hls head buL Lhe rlsk of speaklng Lhem Look away any [oy
of sharlngŦ
ºWe sLlll have some of Lhe Len commandmenLsŦ"
º1en? 1haL's allŦ lL musL be anarchyŦ Cf course a loL of our rellglon
ls ouL of daLeŦ Llke 'uo noL flre unLll you see Lhe whlLes of Lhelr eyesţ klll
or be kllledţ lL ls noL over unLll only one ls lefL sLandlngŦ' Some of Lhose
are lmposslbleŦ"
LnLer Lhe llL area Lhe drlver leaned away from !ohn and properly
lowered hls head Lo a subhuman angleŦ lar more llghLs were on around
Lhe aparLmenL Lhan !ohn had ever seen beforeŦ LllzabeLh called hls
name from Lhe balconyŦ ºWhere were you?"
8ulls were everywhereŦ ºWhere were you?" Alderman Creed
A helmeLed bull looked down over Lhe drlverŦ ºWhere dld you plck
hlm up?"
!ohn spokeţ ºl wanLed a closer look aL Lhe gamesŦ Am l allowed? l
flnd Lhe acLlon very sLlmulaLlngŦ" !ohn knew Lhey would lap LhaL upŦ
1hen Lo measure Lhe reacLlon he addedţ ºAfLer Lhe game l asked Lhls
drlver Lo help me flnd our shlpŦ"
1he drlver furLher lowered hls headŦ
º8uL he sald he dld noL know Lhe wayŦ"
ºPe wouldn'Lţ" Creed saldţ ºLhaL shlp ls ln speclal sLorageŦ"
ºCoŦ" 1he bull sald klcklng Lhe Lhree wheeler and almosL mlsslng
Lhe drlverŦ Þufflng up hls chesLţ ºuefecLţ" Lhe bull added wlLh
ºWe need Lo be golngŦ Cur mlsslon musL conLlnueŦ"
ºCf courseţ" Creed sald amlablyţ º?our shlp wlll be walLlng and
you may leave as soon as Lhe gaLes open ln Lhe mornlngŦ"
LllzabeLh dld noL speak unLll Lhey were aloneŦ º1hey dldn'L llke lL
when you were mlsslngŦ 1hey have a loL of Lrlvlal vlolaLlons punlshable
by deaLhŦ"
ºl knowţ l found ouLŦ l Lalked wlLh a subhuman servanLŦ"
º1haL's one of Lhe vlolaLlonsŦ l don'L llke Lhls placeţ noL belng
Lalked Lo ls sLarLlng Lo make me feel anxlousţ llke someLhlng ls upŦ"
º8efore l Look off Creed was offerlng me a chance Lo go ln Lhe
gameŦ lL mlghL be good for dlplomacy buL lL wouldn'L be good for my
llfeŦ 1hey klll everyone around hereŦ 1he drlver used Lo be upper class
buL he chose sLaylng ouL of Lhe gamesŦ 1hey cuL hls you know whaL
Pe felL funny unable Lo say ballsţ a word he mlghL have sald
wlLhouL Lhlnklng when he was worklng or back ln hlgh schoolţ wlLh Lhe
boysŦ ºl was looklng for MaryŦ l found a place where women go Lo geL
pregnanLŦ She wasn'L LhereŦ"
1haL nlghL LllzabeLh had Lhe flghLlng dream agaln whlle across Lhe
hall !ohn dreamL he was on Lhe fleld and ln Lhe gameŦ
ºWe need cloLhes and provlslonsŦ" LllzabeLh sald over breakfasLţ
ºbuL we don'L have room ln Lhe shlp for all of LhlsŦ" ClfLs fllled a corner
of Lhe large roomŦ
ºWe can leave LomorrowŦ" !ohn saldţ ºl have an ldeaŦ l mlghL be
able Lo flnd Mary lf l could ask everyone ln Lhe domeŦ 1hey announce
blrLhdays and annlversarlesţ why noL a mlsslng person? Whlle Lhey sLlll
llke usŦ l'll ask Creed when he sLops by Lhls mornlngŦ
Creed sLopped by wlLh hls followlng of Lhe pressŦ Creed's sLyle
was Lo pull !ohn aslde and make hls conversaLlons prlvaLe and
seemlngly of lmporLance alLhough usually noLhlng was saldŦ 1haL was
when !ohn Look Lhe opporLunlLy Lo make hls requesLŦ Creed shook hls
beefy headţ º1he prlesLs would never allow LhaLŦ"
ºCouldn'L you persuade Lhem?"
AL LhaL Creed laughed as lf he never heard anyLhlng as funnyŦ
ºnoţ noţ noŦ ?ou don'L undersLand anyLhlng abouL usŦ ?ou cannoL be
recognlzed or acknowledge unLll you have aL leasL one scarŦ Pasn'L any
of Lhls lmpressed you? Pow can you lmaglne Lhey would make an
announcemenL aL your requesL lf you are unscarred?"
ºulplomacyŦ" !ohn offered as a bluffŦ
ºlL's Llme for you Lo enLer Lhe gamesţ lf you wanL dlplomacy wlLh
º?ou're rlghLţ" !ohn saldţ ºl'll do lLŦ"
º1onlghL? l don'L know abouL LonlghLŦ 1hree nlghLs agoţ when l
offered lL Lo youţ Lhe chance for you survlvlng was goodŦ 8uL LhaL was
Lhree ellmlnaLlon rounds agoţ Lhe survlvors are Lhe besLŦ ?ou mlghL
flnlsh Lhe nlghL ln flamesŦ"
ºl [usL wanL Lo know LhaL you wlll make my announcemenLŦ She
was Lo be my wlfe and she was sLolen awayŦ She may be hereţ l have Lo
º?ou have my wordŦ" Creed sald and came down wlLh an
unexpecLed backslapţ !ohn spun halfway Lo hls knees unLll he caughL
hlmselfŦ ºl'll send some bulls Lo make sure you don'L geL Loo cuLŦ"
ºCan Lhey make Lhe announcemenL before Lhe game ln case l
ºln case you go on Lhe flre?" Creed asked wlLh a hearLy laughŦ
ºAnnouncemenLs are beLween gamesţ noL before gamesŦ ?ou are golng
Lo go ln Lhe flrsL gameŦ"

ChapLer 6
Senseless Þaln was a feaLured 8ladesmen LhaL evenlngţ hls flrsL
maLch slnce recoverlng from hls prevlous maLchŦ Pe almosL losL an armţ
whlch would have ended hls careerŦ Cnly Lhe physlcally perfecL could
go lnLo Lhe maLch rlngŦ A cusLom Lhe prlesL Look from Lhe mlllLaryŦ
1wo young bullsţ well scarredţ flanked !ohnŦ 1hey Look a large bull
Lhree wheeler and as Lhey Lraveled down Lhe caLhedral oLher bulls
drove before and afLer LhemŦ Pls arrlval was celebraLed LhroughouL Lhe
domeŦ lrom Lhe commons Lo Lhe fooL of Lhe arena Lhe people ralned
lengLhs of wlre and sLrlngŦ 1he bull on Lhe lefL pulled a sLrlng ouL of Lhe
alr and handed lL Lo !ohnŦ
ºWhaL's lL for?"
º?ou Lle off a bleeder wlLh lLŦ So you mlghL llve Lo play agalnŦ Pold
onLo lLŦ"
1he bull on hls oLher slde spokeŦ ºl can'L belleve you never dld Lhls
beforeŦ ?ou won'L need LhaLţ well Lake care of youŦ !usL one scar
LonlghLŦ 1he alderman Lalked Lo meŦ 'lf he dles we dleţ' he saldŦ"
AL Lhe base Lhe people wenL ln Lwo dlrecLlonsţ game fans wenL Lo
Lhelr seaLs LhaL faced Lhe pollshed game floorţ Lhe flre plL and Lhe vasL
lake beyondŦ 1hose Lo play Lhe game LhaL nlghL made a processlon Lo
Lhe gaLes whlch locked behlnd Lhem and Lhe unseen pracLlce rooms
under Lhe seaLsŦ Þasslng Lhrough Lhe gaLes !ohn LhoughLţ ºCoodŴbyeţ
LllzabeLhŦ Pelloţ momŦ" Pe fully expecLed Lo be reunlLed wlLh hls
moLher ln heavenŦ
1he Lwo bulls qulckly goL naked and wove Lhelr sashes be Lhelr
legsţ across Lhelr buLLs and over Lhelr belllesŦ º?ou really haven'L done
Lhls beforeŦ" 1he bull lnsLrucLed !ohn how Lo wear Lhe sash of hls
A prlesL enLeredţ hls robe was maroonţ Lrlmmed ln sllver and goldţ
a whlLe shlrL underneaLh would be brown and red by Lhe games endŦ
º?ou've all done Lhls beforeţ rlghL boys?" As he walked dellberaLely
across Lhe fronLŦ
ºlaLher" several volces wenL up aL onceŦ ºCver hereŦ"
!ohn was wlde eyed wlLh surprlseţ Lhe prlesL dlpped hls hand lnLo
a sllver pall he carrled and splashed !ohn wlLh warm bloodŦ º8less youŦ
Pave a good game LonlghLŦ"
ºuon'L [usL leL lL cloL Lhereţ spread lL aroundŦ"
Some of Lhe men used large halr removers llke Lhe small one !ohn
was glvenŦ º1hey Lhlnk lf Lhey Lake off Lhelr halr lL'll make em more
sllpperyŦ" 1hey also coaLed Lhemselves wlLh blood from buckeLs around
Lhe large locker roomŦ !ohn [umped aL Lhe roarţ Lhe moLors of Lhe
splnnlng bladesŦ 8ladesmen goL ready on Lhe far sldeŦ
1he men around !ohn laughed aL hls fearŦ

!ohn could see from Lhe halry puffed up chesLs LhaL four bulls
were surroundlng hlmŦ 1he bulls were casual buL oLher men were
prepplng LhemselvesŦ Some applled LournlqueLs loosely before Lhe
conLesLsŦ MosL had a Lhln coaLlng of blood afLer wanderlng near Lhe
8ladesmen pracLlclngŦ ºSo long grampsţ" was a [oke made over a fallen
old manŦ
A bell rangŦ º1le your sashţ boyŦ We go soonŦ"
!ohn Lled hls sash agalnŦ
1wo bells rangŦ ºLeL's goŦ" !ohn followed Lwo bulls and Lwo
followed hlmŦ 1he combaLanLs proceeded ln a flve by Len recLangleţ
bare feeL had Lo move llghLly over Lhe speclal surface LhaL sloped Lo Lhe
peak where moLors roared and men ln sashes of Lhelr caLhedral wlLh
splnnlng blades walLed under blue exhausL smokeŦ
1he flrsL slLe of vlcLlms had Lhe crowd on lLs feeL chanLlng and
clapplng dlfferenL caLhedral anLhemsŦ 1hree 8ladesmen formed a llne
and Lhe Lwo oLhers were back Lo backŦ
ºWhlch one ls Senseless Þaln?" A bull behlnd !ohn asked Lhe
ºSLay Lo Þaln's lefLŦ We'll geL you nlckedŦ" Cn a level !ohn
undersLood Lhey were Lalklng Lo hlmŦ Pls feeL seemed Lo follow buL hls
aLLenLlon was on Lhe flrsL vlcLlm who had gone for a bladesman's legsŦ
When Lhe blade sLruck LhaL one's back a second vlcLlm leapL lnLo Lhe alr
and grabbed Lhe bladesman's halrless headŦ 1he blade was sLuckţ
unable Lo pull ouLţ no Llme Lo saw LhroughŦ When Lhey fell oLhers
grabbed Lhe blade and an arm Lhen a fooL fell ouL of Lhe plleŦ
ºnowţ hold hlmŦ" 1he bulls Lrled Lo hold !ohn near a blade LhaL hls
caLhedral had won from anoLher now dead bladesmanŦ !ohn foughL Lhe
bulls buL lL was hopelessŦ ºSLop movlngŦ" llnally !ohn gave up and Lhey
held hls head Lo one sldeŦ 1hen Lhey Lossed hlmŦ Pe slld down Lhe
Lerrlble rlse where he sLruggled Lo sLaunch Lhe blood bubbllng from Lhe
flap of searlng skln on hls shoulderŦ 1he frlendly bullsţ Lhree who
survlved carrled !ohn from Lhe arenaŦ
Pls wound was qulckly dressed llke Lhose of many oLhers ln Lhe
expanslve flrsL ald quarLersŦ ºCreaL woundŦ CreaL acLlonŦ lowa should
be mosL proud of lLs ambassadorŦ 1hls ls a greaL dayŦ LeL's make an
announcemenLŦ" Creed was beamlng aL !ohnŦ
!ohn saL up on Lhe Lable and noLlced LhaL Lhe alderman's Lhree
wheeler was by hls LableŦ ºCeL lnŦ now l can really presenL you Lo Lhe
Chlcago domeŦ"
Clearly Alderman Creed had a place ln Lhe hearL of every
caLhedral and he could feel Lhe crowds affecLlon for hlm before he
spoke Lhe wordsŦ º1onlghL ls a speclal nlghLŦ Cnly flve nlghLs ago Lhe
ambassador from lowa arrlved Lo vlew our gamesŦ 1onlghL he [olned
our games and foughL bravelyŦ" Casps of recognlLlon preceded Lhe
loudesL cheerlng !ohn had ever heardŦ !ohn and mosL of Lhe audlence
new he had behaved llke a Lerrlfled coward buL lL was noL menLloned
LhaL nlghLŦ
1he speech conLlnuedŦ ºl am sure LhaL wlLh Lhe warm Lhanks we
glve LonlghL LhaL Lhls wlll be only Lhe flrsL and soon enLlre Leams from
lowa wlll come Lo play Lhe game wlLh usŦ now Lhe ambassador would
llke Lo address usŦ"
!ohn sLood slowly from Lhe carL and spoke lnLo Lhe mlcrophone aL
hls faceţ one of several LhaL were always Lhere walLlng for lmprompLu
speakers or slngersŦ Pe held Lhe Lemporary bandageţ ºMaryţ lL's meţ
!ohnţ from lowaŦ l am aL governmenL quarLersŦ l need Lo geL sLlLchesŦ l
wanL Lo Lake you homeŦ" Llmbs and enLralls lefL a Lrall of blood as Lhe
machlne swepL Lhem lnLo a plleŦ Pe could recall Lhe plle walLlng for Lhe
blesslng and Lhe prlesLs Lo llghL whlle he could noL remember whaL he
sald ln Lhe mlcrophoneŦ
very lmpressed Creed re[olned !ohn ln Lhe seaL of Lhe carLŦ
ºPosplLalŦ" Pe Lold Lhe drlverţ a bullŦ º1haL's whaL every pollLlclan lovesţ
llsLen Lo LhaLŦ 1haL ls why l geL 200Ʒ of Lhe voLeŦ Leave 'em cheerlngŦ"
And lowered hls hand wlLh a back slapŦ ºSorryŦ"
º8lLe LhlsŦ" A nurse placed a black sLlck ln !ohn's mouLhŦ When he
blL a spray came ouL of Lhe sLlck whlch rendered hlm unconsclousŦ Pe
had crazy dreams and awoke ln Lhe bed ln hls governmenL sulLeŦ
ºPow does lL feel?" LllzabeLh ln an unfamlllar garmenL sLood over
ºWhaL happened?" Pe had a Lremendous headache and dld noL
wanL Lo dlg ln hls mlnd Loo deeplyŦ ºuld she geL Lhe message?"
ºnoLhlng so farŦ Pereţ have some [ulceŦ" She approached Lhe bedŦ
WlLh everyLhlng else on hls mlnd !ohn knew Lhls was Lhe flrsL Llme
she enLered hls room and lL made hlm feel funnyŦ lL hurL Lo move
anyway and LllzabeLh held Lhe glass Lo hls llpsŦ Pe needed someLhlng
slnce he had Lo fasL all day before Lhe gamesŦ º1hanksŦ We need Lo geL
ouL of hereŦ Pow long was l ouL?"
ºAlmosL 24 hoursŦ"
ºPave LonlghL's games sLarLed yeL?" !ohn surprlsed hlmself wlLh
hls enLhuslasmŦ ºuo you Lhlnk people from lowa would wanL Lo go ln
Lhe rlng?"
º?ou're rlghLŦ We need Lo go and soonŦ 1hls Lhlng ls changlng
ºlL's noL changlng meţ lL ls brlnglng ouL someLhlngŦ" Pe LwlsLed hls
head and neck agalnsL Lhe LlghLness of heallngŦ ºl could go agaln and l
wouldn'L be afrald Lhls LlmeŦ now lL's parL of me llke lL ls for LhemŦ"
º1hese games are crazyŦ 1hese people are crazy and Lhey are
maklng you crazyŦ"
ºÞuL on my boxţ pleaseŦ l wanL Lo caLch Lhe hlghllghLs from lasL
Cn Lhe replay he saw Lhe recLangle of flfLy men move as one
excepL for hlm and Lhe bulls around hlm sLraggllng ln a far cornerŦ MosL
of Lhe Llme hls feeL were noL on Lhe ground as Lwo bulls carrled hlmŦ
near Lhe end before he was glven a wound one bullţ who !ohn
recognlzedţ caughL hls feeL ln a lengLh of lnLesLlne and fell forwardŦ Pe
was Lagged by a blade ln a kldneyŦ lor a momenL Lhen lL ralned bloodŦ
1haL bull was clearly dead as Lhe lake of hls blood spread under hlm and
dralned down Lhe sllghL lncllneŦ !ohn Lurned lL off before seelng hlmself
belng dragged or maklng hls announcemenLŦ
ºWhaL's wrong wlLh me?" !ohn asked ouL loudŦ
ºlL ls Lhe gameŦ" LllzabeLh sLood ouLslde Lhe room so as noL Lo see
whaL !ohn had been waLchlngŦ ºlL has a grlp on LhemŦ And now Lhey
have your approvalŦ 1haL's why Lhey wanL you and everyone from lowa
Lo playŦ"
1he ambassador sLoodţ Lhere was no such Lhlng as a wheelchalr ln
Chlcago domeţ and asplrln was Lhe only paln klllerŦ ºlorLy Lwo sLlLches!"
1haL was conslderable even for a localŦ ºPoweverţ Lhe news sLar
conLlnuedţ Lhere were no lnLernal sLlLchesŦ" uld !ohn hear
dlsappolnLmenL? ºAnd he keeps Lhe armŦ" ?es!
uesplLe Lhe lrreverence lL was Lhe Lrlgger for a new age of
8eLurnlng Lhey were drlven by Creed hlmselfţ he had dlfflculLy
geLLlng hls glrLh behlnd Lhe sLlck of a pollce Lrlke and found Lhemselves
surround by mobs once Lhe enLourage debarked Lhelr elevaLor ln Lhe
commonsŦ lL was a long rlde Lo Lhe subŴsubŴsubŴsubbasemenL where
Lhe lmmovable shlp was parkedŦ lL had noL been moved buL was shlned
Lo a level of Lawdry radlanceŦ 1he nondescrlpL green grey fuzz on Lhe
exLerlor was noL parL of lLs camouflage buL Lhe dlrL accumulaLed slnce
Lhe earllesL days of Lhe domeţ Len Lo Lwelve Lhousand yearsŦ
1he scrap yard of anLlqulLy was also dressed for Lhe occaslonŦ 1he
fences palnLed and new llghLsţ bulls ln every cornerŦ CrafLy camera
lmages for Lhe box and plasheeL press superlmposed Lhe old wreckages
wlLh Lhe ceremonyŦ
nelLher !ohn nor hls pale and slender buL wellŴdressed confldanL
sald a wordŦ 1he lowans !ohn was famlllar wlLh were hardworklng
farmersţ smarL machlnlsL and cunnlng boar hunLersŦ 1o Lhem even Lhe
llfe of a Chlnese slave was preclousŦ lnslde Lhe dome Lhey slepL ln
sleeplng bags ln Lhe hall and rarely had a babyţ Lhose snlplng sweaLer
manlklns falnLed aL Lhe menLlon of bloodŦ
º1here may agaln be a greaL day beLween Lhe people of Chlcago"
even Lhe Llmber of hls volce changedţ lnferrlng Lhe days of world
sub[ugaLlonţ ºand lowaŦ" 1hey were noL conquered eons ago buL raLher
[umped ln Lhe lap of Lhelr aggresslve nelghborŦ º1he councll and l agree
LhaL emlssarles wlll be senL aL onceŦ"
ln Lhe camera llghLs !ohn was bllnded by Lhe reflecLlonţ ºMy
nameŦ" Pe sald polnLlng a flnger Lo Lhe flne scrlpL along Lhe boLLom
edge of Lhe gull wlng doorŦ ºPow dld Lhey do LhaL?" !ohn grew up wlLh
Lhe myLhology LhaL Lhls shlp could noL be scraLchedţ denLed or harmed
ln any wayŦ
ºCur gang found lL Lhereţ we assure youŦ" lL was Lhe volce of Lhe
gang leaderţ a humble servanL who dld noL show hlmself Lo someone
llke Lhe ambassadorŦ º1he quallLy of Lhe cleanlng [ob means my llfeŦ l
would neverŧ" Pe was pleadlng for hls llfeŦ
º1he shlp dld lL lLselfŦ" LllzabeLh spoke ouL loud Lo everyoneŦ
8elng a woman ln publlc she could only speak wlLh !ohn buL dld noL
care abouL surrenderlng Lo cusLom aL Lhe prlce of a subhuman llfeŦ
uesplLe knowlng lL was offenslve Lo Lhem she conLlnuedŦ 1he speech
for all ears Lo hear was her parLlng glfL for Lhe nonexlsLence Lhey forced
on herŦ º1he shlp brands lLself wlLh Lhe name of lLs new lnherlLorŦ lf
someLhlng happens Lo Lhe ambassadorţ my name wlll appear nexLţ
LllzabeLh 8ookerŦ" She sLoppedţ and leL lL seep ln llke slow polsonŦ
Lveryone who heard a woman speaklng ln publlc ls forced Lo play
Lhe gameŦ ºlarewellţ for myself and Lhe ambassadorţ farewellŦ"
!ohn who had grown defenslve abouL Lhe posslblllLy of yeL
anoLher backslap made a small waveţ farewellŦ
1he gull wlngs slow and augusL ln comlng down flnally made
closureţ Lhe shlp now undlsgulsed floaLed ln Lhe lnvlslble anLlŴgrav fleldŦ
1he shlp flew lLself ouL Lhe same course lL had been gulded ln unLll Lhey
were agaln under open skyŦ 8locklng gravlLy Lhe shlp slld up lLs own
gravlLy well sLopplng ln Lhe sLraLosphereŦ 1he shlp was callbraLed LhaL a
human passenger felL noLhlngţ anLlŴgrav elevaLed Lhe shlp and lnLernalŴ
grav kepL Lhelr sLomachs ln placeţ or else a human could noL survlve Lhe
exLreme acceleraLlonŦ lrom a lens under Lhe shlps nose Lhey followed a
caravan of mlllLary Lrucks on Lhe groundţ Lhe Chlcago emlssarlesŦ
LllzabeLh had spenL all of her free Llme even from Lhe approachţ
readlng Lhe slow blnary llbraryţ Lhe name of Lhe clLy was based on Lhe
name of Caponeţ a crlmlnalţ a gangsLerŦ 1haL was Lhe obvlous lnLenLlonţ
Lo Lake down Lhe lowa dome and sacrlflce Lhem ln Lhe gameŦ
1he shlp wlLh a command could desLroy Lhe caravanţ forLy Lrucksţ
forLy energy pulsesţ !ohn Lold her buL she already knewŦ Pe lnformed
her LhaL he was ln Lhe company and had been ln a warŦ 1hose are noL
llvesţ Lhey are LargeLsŦ 1he shlp followed hls command wlLhouL a falLer
ln moLlonŦ
An emergency llghL wenL onŦ !ohn dld noL recognlze Lhe screenŦ
LllzabeLh leaned forward and Loggled lLŦ ºShlpţ do noLhlngŦ uo noL
eradlcaLe capLured shlpsŦ"
LllzabeLh explalned LhaL every allen shlp has Lhe capablllLy of
eradlcaLlng any derellcL shlpŦ WlLh an equal poLenLlaLlon of energy as
Lhe shlp enLers Lhe LransŴdlmenslonal sLaLeŦ 1he shlps were made of
Lons of dense meLal and quarLz and a shlp ceaslng Lo exlsL ln Lhe
parklng area whlch exlsLs ln spaceŴLlme would leave a vacuum causlng a
counLer force as maLLer refllls Lhe dense vold ln Lhe space beneaLh
ChlcagoŦ AlmosL a megaLon reacLlon for one shlpţ LhaL Llmes 30Ŧ
ºWould lL be radloacLlve?" !ohn asked sheeplshlyţ embarrassed
LhaL she knew more abouL hls shlp Lhan he dldŦ
ºlL ls a naLural radloacLlvlLyţ lL would only lasL 2 or 3 hundred
ºlL would be a new roll of Lhe dlce for Lhemţ how many do you
flgure wlll dleŦ"
ºlf Lhey are parked dlrecLly over Lhe sealed reacLorţ and l suspecL
Lhey areţ and lf Lhe dome ls as sLrong as lL ls clalmed Lo beţ l would say
all of Lhemţ 130 mllţ Lhey would burn and cookŦ 1he caLherdrals wlll acL
llke smoke sLacksţ venLlng smoke and drawlng ln fresh oxygenţ l hopeŦ"
ºl don'L Lhlnk we should do LhaLŦ WhaL powers Lhls Lhlng
LllzabeLh swallowed hard Lo unclog her earsţ ºA sLarŦ 1he allens
found a way Lo redlrecL Lhe energy uslng Lhe LransŴdlmenslon and
focuslng Lhe energy on a polnL lnslde Lhls shlpŦ"
ºWho are Lhe allens? Where are Lhey from? All LhaL was ln Lhe
ºlL sLarLs as a manual buL you can look Lhlngs upŦ 1hey exlsL ln Lhe
LransŴdlmenslon and Lhelr sclenLlsL learned how Lo enLer our polnL ln
space LlmeŦ 8uL LhaL was a long Llme agoŦ 8y Lhelr lasL enLry lnLelllgenL
llfe had mlgraLed ouL of Lhls area and exLlngulshed lLselfŦ nelLher LarLh
nor humans are furLher referencedŦ 1o whoever wroLe Lhls Lhey only
consldered LransŴdlmenslonal exlsLence as havlng lnLelllgenL llfe and
Lhey are Lhe lasL remalnlng lnLelllgenL clvlllzaLlonŦ 1hose who were meL
ln Lhls reglon away from Lhe galacLlc core dlsappeared lnLo Lhe voldŦ
1he LransŴdlmenslonal clvlllzaLlon meeLs every one hundred mllllon
yearsŦ 1hey conslder rock bound llfe lncapable of lnLelllgenceţ Chlcago
belng proof of LhaLţ we could sLlll blow Lhem upŦ"
ºWhaL do you mean? 8eyond our galaxyţ LhaL vold?"
º1hey dlsappeared lnLo Lhe space beLween Lhlngs and Lhe pauses
beLween LhoughLsŦ Lxchanglng one energy for anoLher Lhey wenL
where Lhe LransŴdlmenslons no longer saw LhemŦ lrom where Lhere
was no reLurnŦ
ºAccordlng Lo Lhe manualţ for abouL a Lhousand yearsţ around Lhe
Llme of Lhe orlglnal clLyţ Chlcagoţ durlng Lhe eon when Lhe dome was
flrsL bullL Lhere were hundreds of space dwelllng lnLelllgenL speclesŦ
Many lnLeracLlng wlLh earLh and lndlvldual humansŦ MosL were fleelng
Lhe heavy radlaLlon from Lhe galaxy cenLer and many were aL war wlLh
each oLherŦ Shlps llke Lhls were a glfL from one of Lhe combaLanLs for
earLh Lo use defenslvelyŦ 8uL Lhe hlsLory endsţ even Lhe LransŴ
dlmenslon was collapsed ln Lhls reglon of Lhe galaxy due Lo human
warfareŦ Accordlng Lo Lhlsţ lf Lhe ones who made Lhese shlps
dlsappeared from our parL of Lhe galaxy yesLerday or Len Lhousand
years ago Lhen we would have no way of LelllngŦ 1he domes maybe Lwo
Lhousand and noL Lwelve Lhousand yearsŦ" LllzabeLh looked llke she
wanLed hlm Lo replyŦ
!ohn scraLched hls headţ ºl don'L knowŦ"
ºlf we can flnd ouL whaL has happenedţ can Lhls shlp go beyond
Lhe collapse of LransŴdlmenslon Lo where Lhe manual can upload Lhe
resL of Lhe lnformaLlon?"
ºMy grandfaLher dld Lell my we have an lnflnlLe power supplyŦ
'lor a bllllon years' he used Lo sayŦ" lor a bllllon years or unLll l dleţ
whlchever comes flrsLŦ As a boy he dld noL llke LhaL saylngŦ now we
knowŦ unLll a sun dles or a son ls bornŦ
º1haL would mean Lhls shlp was ln your famlly Len Lhousand
yearsŦ 1haL defles probablllLyŦ lL makes a Lhousand years seem more
º8uL l've passed lL Lo youŦ"
ºAnd l wlll pass lL Lo our chlldŦ"
1haL's seLLleţ !ohn LhoughL and aL once felL rellefŦ
ºl Lhlnk Lhose shlps only look desLroyedŦ 1hey may have llfe ln
Lhem yeLŦ" LllzabeLh read more ln Lhe manual Lhan she leL onŦ 1he shlps
may have opened ln LhaL [agged way Lo preserve Lhe llves of humans
for whom Lhe machlnes were deslgnedŦ WlLh a command bllllons of
molecular machlnes could zlp or unzlp Lhe shlp whlch exlsLed llke Lhe
Llp of an lceberg ln spaceŴLlme and wlLh vasL mechanlc ln Lhe LransŴ
dlmenslonŦ LxlsLlng slmulLaneously ln Lwo of Lhe Lhree dlmenslons
known Lo humansţ Lhe fourLh dlmenslon a place under consLanL dlspuLe
and from where none have reLurnedŦ 1he fourLh dlmenslon had Laken
vasL numbers of humans who [ourneyed wlLh homemade equlpmenLŦ
1hose losL Lo lL are belleved Lo have lefL a Lrace behlndţ lL can be seen
from earLh LwlllghL Lo dawn as Lhe lnky presence called Lhe AuroraŦ
Cnce earLh had saLelllLe and wlreless communlcaLlonţ unllke Lhe doL
dash of Lodayţ whole pages and lmages flashed before operaLorsŦ
Lowerlng from Lhe sLraLosphere Lhey could see Lhe ammonla haze
of new !ersey feedlng plgs for ManhaLLanŦ LllzabeLh Lold Lhe [oke LhaL
when Lhe dome wenL up over Lhe clLy of new ?ork Lhe people llvlng
Lhere never noLlced Lhe dlfferenceŦ
1he flrsL aLLempL was Lurned backţ desplLe arrlvlng ln a shlp from
an early Llme LhaL defled known sclence and gleamed ln Lhelr skyŦ 1hey
had no money and were noL allowed Lo enLer new ?orkŦ
Lven wlLhouL geLLlng ln Lhe vlew was specLacular of Lhe dome legs
wlLh Lhe arLlflclal rlvers around ManhaLLanŦ ManhaLLan under lLs own
half dome as Lhe greaLer dome was bullL around and above Lhe lslandŦ
lL was a remlnder of naLureŦ
1he monLhs of work ln a slmllar place ln lowaţ for meaL LhaL never
made lL Lo Lhe lowa domeţ !ohn was Lold Lo come back Lhe nexL dayŦ Pe
heard lL everywhere he askedŦ ln Lhe mornlng !ohn approached a feed
yard wlLhouL Loo many puddles of bloodŦ Pe was hlred lmmedlaLely and
LllzabeLh salled offŦ 1hey made hlm a sklnner Lo sLarLŦ Pe noLlced Lhe
sklns Lo be llghLerŦ lf !ohn LhoughL abouL lL he was sLronger nowŦ Pe
noLlced more halr growlng back afLer Lhey shaved hlm for Lhe gamesŦ AL
Lhe end of Lhe day Lhe foreman asked hlm lf he would be back Lhe nexL
dayŦ 1he foreman Lold hlm he would have Lo save flve or slx monLhs for
hlm and Lhe glrl Lo have enough Lo geL lnţ lf Lhey renLed a cheap roomŦ
Maybe only Lhree monLhs lf Lhey aLe cheap and she workedŦ 1he man
made a deep lmpresslon on !ohnţ by Lhe bookţ rlgld and experlencedţ
buL llke hls faLher a genLle manŦ 8lgld enough Lo have survlvedţ !ohn
ofLen wonder abouL hls faLherŦ
º?ou dld a good day's workŦ Are you comlng back Lomorrow?" AL
Lhe end of Lhe day Lhe foreman shook !ohn's hand llke Lhey dld back
home ln lowaţ on Lhe farmŦ
8uL Lhere was also a wad of bllls and an address ln buLcher pencll
on Lhe Lop blllŦ
ºuon'L Lell Lhe old lady l gave LhaL Lo youŦ We serve aL four and
don'L be laLe lf you wanL Lo eaLŦ We are all MŦuŦs Lhere ŧ MeaL uealersŦ
See you boLh aL dlnnerŦ" Pe made a large and cheerful wlnkŦ Pe addedţ
º?ou can pay me back laLerŦ"
!ohn Lold Lhe happy news Lo LllzabeLh who had noL been walLlng
longŦ Llke !ohn several hosplLals asked her Lo reLurn Lhe nexL dayŦ 1hey
drove a quarLer mlle from Lhe plg slaughLerhouse Lo Lhe address on Lhe
blllŦ 1hey encounLered Lhe foreman who was sLaggerlng from a nearby
drlnklng cellar beLween hls home and workŦ Pe was very pleased Lo
accepL a rlde as he was movlng ln a zlgzag and mlghL have been laLe for
Lhe dlnnerŦ Pls wlfe was cooklng slnce before Ceorgeţ as he sald Lo be
called ouLslde workţ had been upŦ
lL was a Lhree sLory boardlng home and chalrs puL ln Lhe doorway
kepL everyone from Lhe dlnlng roomŦ 1hey parLed for Ceorge who Lold
!ohn and LllzabeLh Lo walL and holdlng an unsLeady flnger Lo hls llps
LhaL Lhey be quleL LooŦ Ceorge alone was allowed Lo wash aL Lhe
klLchen slnkŦ 8uL MrsŦ Ceorge dld noL leL hlm Louch more Lhan a rollŦ
ºWe goL a new guesLţ" he Lold herţ ºhe has a [obţ cash up fronLŦ She
sLarLs Lomorrow aL a hosplLalŦ"
º1wo? 1wo mouLhs Lo feedŦ More meaLţ more carroLs for
ºl'm susplclousŦ" LllzabeLh saldŦ ºl am noL used Lo economlc
LransacLlon and moneyŦ LveryLhlng l read abouL lL ls bad and here we
are esLabllshlng resldence based on decepLlon and lndebLednessŦ"
ºPe sald l wlll be able Lo pay hlm backŦ We also need parklng for
LhaL beasLŦ We can'L llve ln our car ln new !erseyŦ" Pe addedţ
º1omorrow do whaL l dldţ plck Lhe hosplLal wlLh Lhe leasL blood ln Lhe
parklng loLŦ"
8ecause Lhe shlp whlch solved Lhe mysLery of Lhe ages Look slx
parklng spaces lL made !ohn and LllzabeLh very unpopular and Lhe shlp
had garbage Lhrown aL lLŦ AfLer work every afLernoon !ohn had Lo wash
Lhe shlp wlLh grey waLer from Lhe nearby plg feed loLŦ 1he waLer was
more unpleasanL Lhan Lhe garbage and !ohn gave upŦ 1he greyŴgreen
camouflage grew once agalnŦ Whlle boLh !ohn and LllzabeLh walked Lo
work and Lhe shlp had noL moved ln weeks a summons for reglsLraLlon
and requlremenL for lnsurance arrlvedŦ
ºlL's Loo expenslve Lo llve here and save enough Lo vlslL new ?ork
and have a vehlcleŦ" !ohn was lrrlLaLed as each Llme Lhe numbers came
ouL Lhe sameŦ now LhaL Lhey had [obs Lhey declded Lo llve ln Lhe shlp ln
low earLh orblL Lhen come Lo work from LhereŦ 1hey seL a Llmer for Lhe
shlp Lo reLurn plck one of Lhem upŦ"
uesplLe belng a Lreasure for Lhe ages and a record of Lhe dawn of
humanlLy Lhe anLlŴgrav shlp recelved no aLLenLlon unLll lL owed money
and Lhen pollce came and Lhe press found ouLŦ uesplLe belng aL leasL
one Lhousand years old Lhe only Lhe lnLeresL was how much money Lhe
owner of an unreglsLered space shlp owedŦ 1he Museum of Modern ArL
balled Lhem ouL and once more Lhey were heroesţ now ln Lhe hearL of
ManhaLLan where people cheered buL more people desplsed Lhem for
blocklng Lrafflc and lf Lhey LhoughL Lhey had lL beLLer commuLlng from
Pavlng pald Lhe reglsLraLlon Lhe Museum of Modern ArL puL Lhe
shlp on dlsplayŦ LllzabeLh obllged Lhem by sLalllng Lhe Llme Lravel
lnLenLlonally so LhaL Lhe unmovable ob[ecL remalned lmpregnable for
127 years on earLh whlle lnslde Lhe shlp lL was Lhe Llme lL Look LllzabeLh
Lo push Lhe sLarLer afLer Lhe mechanlsm was ln gearŦ LarLh and Sol
belng on a far arm of Lhe Mllky way lL was made for a shorL [ourney ln
and ouL of spaceŴLlme Laklng only a few mlnuLes from Lhelr lnLernal
human geneLlc clockŦ Pumans who pass Lhrough Lhe LransŴdlmenslon
generally have no memory buL some suffer from an awareness of a gapŦ
8ecommended cure was Lo forgeL abouL lLŦ
lrom ouLslde Lhe galaxy Lhe sLars and planeLs dlsappearedŦ no
lnky colored elecLrlclLy crossed Lhe skyŦ Cnly smudges could be seemţ
Lhe LlghL swlrl of a Llny brush wlLh lrldescenL palnL hung on noLhlngŦ 1he
llghLs formed a splder web above and whaL looked Lo Lhe mlnd of Lwo
humansţ a paLhway Lwlnkllng wlLh lnvlLaLlonŦ Lach llghLţ even Lhe dull
ones are a galaxyţ hosL Lo hundreds of bllllons of belngs llke hlmselfŦ
1haL ls lf he allowed hlmself LhaL few had access Lo shlp LhaL could Lake
Lhem beyond any oLher galaxyŦ
ºSLopŦ" A deep buL compuLer drlven mlnd spokeŦ
ºlL read my mlndţ l sensed lL ln LhereŦ" She pounded her headŦ ºl
was looklng aL Lhe manual for an updaLeŦ l wanLed Lo go furLherŦ" She
added sheeplshlyţ ºl was abouL Lo glve Lhe orderŦ"
She shudderedŦ ºlL made me feel llke we were losL and Lhe shlp
could noL relocaLe our home galaxyŦ l saw Lhe paLhway bellow on edge
and lL ls a huge crysLalŦ l knew oLhers LrledŦ"
º8eLurn Lo earLhŦ" !ohn saldţ º8efore lL's Loo laLeŦ"
ºAndŧ" Spoke Lhe volceŦ
ºl was lnformed humanlLy was cuL off from access and conLacL
wlLh Lhem by Lhe cholce of Lhe LransŴdlmenslonalsŦ Powever Lhey are
resclndlng Lhe order for usŦ"
ºConLacL was losL because Lhey Lurned us offŦ" !ohn clarlfledŦ
º1hls shlp can Lravel Lo hell and back wlLh Lhe rlsk of geLLlng losL and
wlLhouL allen lnLervenLlon you mlghL have never found your upllnkŦ"
ºl feel llke we spoke for monLhsŦ l also learned LhaL Lhere ls no
furLher upllnk and l possess a rare compleLe flnal edlLlon complled by
Lhose who once sLudled humans ln relaLlon Lo LransŴdlmenslonal
culLureŦ 8uL Lhere was no lnLeresL ln such maLLer afLer Lhe flnal
mlgraLlonŦ 1he core of Lhe galaxy was emlLLlng Loxlc radlaLlon and over
100ţ000 mosL lnLelllgenL llfe forms mlgraLed beyond Lhe galaxyŦ"
!ohn had several quesLlons ln mlnd now and asked Lhe flrsL oneŦ
ºPow dld Lhey change a rule for us lf Lhey meeL only every mllllon
noL even reachlng for a LhoughL she replledţ º1hey Llme Lraveledţ
Lhe lasL meeLlng was 400 Lhousand years agoţ a llLLle closer Lhan Lhe
nexL oneţ so Lhey wenL back on LlmeŦ"
ºAnd how abouL rock bound llfe forms? Couldn'L you convlnce
Lhem of any lnLelllgence?"
LllzabeLh spoke from her own experlence l lefL Lhem wlLh
someLhlng Lo Lhlnk abouLŦ l remlnded Lhem LhaL human lngenulLy had
been able Lo enLer Lhe LransŴdlmenslonŦ 1o Lhem we are only some
ooze carrled over ln Lhe formaLlon of quarLz crysLalŦ lL was Lhe
esLabllshmenL of surface growLh communlcaLlng wlLh earLh's sunŦ llrsL
planL llfe Lhen Lhe beasLs LhaL llved by eaLlng Lhe planLsŦ And Lhose who
llved on LhemŦ LarLh produced few surface crysLals buL Lhls llvld muckŦ
Sol was a dunce wlLh !uplLer garbllng mosL communlcaLlon senL Sol's
wayŦ A dull sysLem wlLh few surface crysLals Lo enhance refracLlonŦ Sol a
sad solo sLarŦ A dull gravlLy wellŦ
1he sun and lLs vegeLablesţ who would have LhoughL? lL had been
an unexpecLed breakLhroughŦ Some wlld experlmenLs were done durlng
Lhe fllghL of lnLelllgenceŦ 1he lasL conLacL had been many earLh ages
ago and Lhe mlsLake was made Lo leL Loo many lnŦ We LhoughL Lhey
were llke mushroom heads popplng ouL of a slngle maLŦ Cur
lndlvlduallLy was Loo much for Lhe slngular consclousnessŦ 1oo many
quesLlons aL one LlmeŦ
1hey have allowed us Lhls oLher break Lhrough Lo Lhe surface
lnLelllgence uslng our shlp's anclenL quarLz and meLal mechanlcsŦ
ºPow come Lhey are Lell you Lhls and noL me?" !ohn flnally
proLesLed llke a greedy llLLle boyŦ
Llke before LllzabeLh had Lhe answerţ alLhough she dld noL know
Lhe source of Lhe knowledgeŦ ºllrsL you musL read Lhls" A new flle
opened on Lhe LableL she handed !ohnŦ
Pe looked aL Lhe boLLomŦ ºlour Lhousand pages? l wenL Lo school
buL l haven'L read anyLhlng ln flve yearsŦ"
She spoke nexL wlLh a serenlLy only broken by Lhe sllghLesL envyţ
belng lnformed for Lhe flrsL Llme as she llsLened Lo her own wordsţ
º8egln readlng and Lhey wlll gulde youŦ lL was all Lhe blnary ln Chlcago
LhaL made my mlnd more recepLlveŦ !usL relax and readŦ"
As a llbrarlan LllzabeLh was able Lo comparLmenLallze Lhe second
mlnd LhaL enLered her bralnţ llke seeklng Lhe forelgn language
dlcLlonary ln her mlndŦ 1he slze of her memory and sLrengLh of her
lnLellecL was more Lhan Lhe leLharglc exLernal consclousness could
compeLe wlLhŦ 1ransŴdlmenslonal llfe forms were peaceful enLlLles
llvlng off Lhe energy of cerLaln unlque sLarsŦ
8uL !ohn was sLlll a Leenage boyŦ
º!ohnţ maybe you should puL Lhe book down?"
ºnoţ Lhls ls amazlngŦ WlLh Lhls klnd of knowledge l could be so
She pulled lL from hls handsŦ ºl am a llbrarlanţ l knowŦ 1hls book ls
noL sulLable for someone your ageŦ"
1hen Lhe volce spokeţ ºMosLly waLerţ dull mlneralsţ carbon buL
noL Lhe good klndŦ 1he waLer ls murkyŦ Pumans have no brllllanceŦ"
ºlL's our achlevemenLs LhaL are brllllanLŦ We Lransformed Lhe face
of a planeL and kepL our specles allveŦ"
!ohn was rubblng hls eyesţ ºl don'L llke LhaL bookŦ WhaL was
LhaL?" 1hey felL lL LogeLherŦ
ºMaybe Lhey are laughlng? Cr Lhey senL a [olL Lhrough our solar
sysLem Lo show us how small a planeL or a slngle sLar ls?"
!ohn spokeţ º?ou leL us lnLo your realmŦ We dldn'L deserve LhaL
warnlngţ you scared Lhe llLLle blrds down on planeL earLhŦ We are noL
really lnLeresLed ln meeLlng allensţ we [usL wanL Lo go back Lo lowaŦ
Shlpţ reverse courseŦ
1he lnsLanLaneous shlp heslLaLedŦ
ºLook lnLo my mlndŦ" Pe sald ouL loudţ º?ou know l have been a
warrlorţ l have faced deaLh and been lLs agenLŦ l am noL afrald Lo dleŦ l
saw where ln Lhe pasL humans have damaged your realmŦ 1hls shlp ls
powered by Lhe energy of an enLlre sun focused Lhrough one polnL ln
your realmŦ lf you sLop us from reLurnlng a polnL ln your realm wlll
explode wlLh Lhe force of a sLarŦ 1he pasL damage wlll be noLhlng
compared wlLh LhlsŦ 1hls shlp was bullL under a very old LreaLyŦ An
anclenL alllance Lo defendţ a flnal resorL ŦŦŦ"
Senslng Lhe shlps release !ohn sLopped speaklng yeL he was
mysLlfled by hls new knowledgeŦ ºl only read Lwo pagesŦ"
ºWell l was wlLh hlm for a flashţ or Lwo flashesŦ"
AfLer a sllence llke a shared headacheţ ºPow long were you
readlng LhaL book?"
!ohn spoke wlLh dlfflculLyŦ ºnoţ don'L ask me LhaLŦ l was an
emlssary for LwenLy years and Lhen made a senaLorŦ 1here was a warŦ"
ºAL flrsL l LhoughL l was rellvlng my exlsLence as an earLh woman
because l was consLanLly belng sold or abducLed and belng rapedŦ 8uL
ln Lhe end l was some klnd of royalLy or breedlng sLockŦ"
º8uL you were ln my ŧ" Lruly aL a loss for wordsţ ºmy llfe LhereŦ AL
Lhe endŦ"
º?esţ we meL when we were oldŦ ?ou had been dlvorced several
Llmes and spenL years ln prlsonŦ l had 18 chlldrenţ wroLe novels and ran
Lhe clLy's downLown llbraryŦ !ohnţ l Lhlnk we boLh had dreams for Lhe
beneflL of Lhe LransŴdlmenslonal belngs"
ºuon'L you remember Lhe war?"
ºnoţ Lhere was no war ln my dreamŦ 8uL you wore an eyepaLch
and you had mechanlcal body parLsţ an arm and a legŦ" She added as
Lhe memory became clearerŦ º?ou spoke abouL a war buL made no
senseŦ l LhoughL you were madŦ"
º1haL's rlghLţ l rescued and save you buL afLer Lhey leL me ouL of
Lhe hosplLal you dldn'L know meŦ l carrled your llmp body ouL of Lhe
[ungle and you dldn'L know meŦ lL was a bad dreamŦ"
ºlL was dayLlme ln my dreamŦ" LllzabeLh looked upŦ
ºlL was nlghL ln mlneŦ"
ºAll l could Lhlnk was l don'L wanL hlm Lo rape meŦ"
ºl could never do LhaLŦ l wanLed Lo save youŦ ?ou Lold me you
were marrledŦ"
ºl don'L remember any husband buL l can see Lhe faces of each of
my nlne glrls and nlne boysŦ no husbandţ no sexţ no chlldblrLhŦ l Lhlnk
Lhey used usŦ ls Lhls a dream? Make sure Lhe shlp ls headed backŦ"
1he Lravel back seemed longer Lhan Lhe [ourney ouLŦ lL was
brlghLened when Lhey heard Lhe volce agalnŦ ºPumans?" lL was so
lnexperlenced aL verbal speech lL could noL hlde lLs feellngsŦ 1hey
declded Lo leL lL ask agalnţ and a few more LlmesŦ
ºCnce we Lalk back our mlnds open and we enLer lLs realmŦ"
LllzabeLh was annoyed by !ohn's LrlLe observaLlon and Lhe sound
of hls volceŦ unanswered Lhe mechanlcal begglng endedŦ When Lhey
seemed Lo be gone !ohn slowed Lhe shlp and began examlng lLs
sysLemsŦ SomeLhlng was wrongŦ 1he Lons of quarLz crysLal LhaL was Lhe
shlps memory were now fllled wlLh whaL was Lo Lhe shlp an
overwhelmlng lnformaLlon lnpuLŦ
ºWe're noL ln a dream alLhough Lhe shlp was devoLlng Loo much
energy Lo lLs memory and l mlghL noL been aware unLll Lhe shlp lagged
whlle reŴenLerlng subŴllghL near a solar sysLemŦ Þurglng Lhls much
memory wlll Lake a few daysŦ"
ºnoţ don'L purge lLŦ Save lLŦ 8ead lLŦ Compress lLŦ"
º1hls ls a shlpŦ lL can'L read lLŦ And lL wlll Lake a week Lo compressŦ
We'll have Lo slL ln space for a weekŦ"
ºA week should be abouL rlghLŦ LeL's [usL park on one of SaLurn's
sleepler moons and leL Lhe shlp flgure ouL whaL Lhe memory absorbedŦ"
WlLh a reŴenLry of Lhe solar sysLem slowed by a logy compuLer
Lhey came ln Lo a magnlflcenL dlsplay of purple and goldŦ As plloL and
coplloL Lhey hand selecLed whlch snowball beyond Lhe rlngs Lo resL onŦ
1he shlp lefL a wake ln Lhe rlngs when lL passed closeŦ 1hey sLopped on
a rock moon whose paLh would noL be Loo dlsrupLed by Lhe Lemporary
addlLlon of Lhe shlp's massŦ
A muslc program slmulaLed a few anclenL earLh lnsLrumenLs and
played whlle Lhe shlp searched for a new compresslve algorlLhm Lo
handle Lhe uploadŦ Meanwhlle !ohn and LllzabeLh fed off Lhe venlson
!ohn shoL ln new !erseyŦ Pavlng fed on farmers' corn and sLolen graln
Lhe meaL was LenderŦ !ohn snapped on Lhe vlew screenţ hls pracLlced
hand ad[usLed Lhe screen Lo earLhŦ
ºl'll beL hlllblllles have herŦ" !ohn sald as lowa came lnLo vlew on
Lhe screenŦ
new ?ork was shorL llved and dlsappolnLlngţ LllzabeLh learned a
loL from Lhe oLher womenţ ones wlLh no plan Lo cross Lhe rlver who
worked around Lhe plgs and who knew menŦ
1helr advlce was confllcLlngŦ 1o have hlm geL her wlLh chlld was
lmperaLlve whlle lL was lmporLanL noL appearlng Lo wanL Loţ and
especlally noL wlLh hlmŦ LvenLually maklng hlm humbly beg for Lhe
opporLunlLy Lo do whaL lL ls she was plannlng whlch he would have
done naLurally requlrlng no elaboraLe schemeŦ 1hls procedure resulLed
ln a man who was made doclle by Lhe shame he felL for whaL he deslred
whlch she saLlsfledŦ
AfLer Lhelr flrsL dlnner alone ln many weeks she planned Lo show
hlmŦ n463712LvCŦ A scanŴable number was focused on Lhe boneŦ 1he
leLLers were resldual scarsŦ 1hey say an lnfanL feels no paln buL Lhe
screams of Lhe new born cannoL be conLalnedŦ A brulse Lo Lhe bone
musL be all LhaL Lhey feel for a monLhŦ 8lrLh always produced palnful
soundsţ all LhaL nolse drove her Lo Lhe quleL of Lhe llbraryŦ
now ln a space shlp resLlng on a moon of SaLurn she sLood from
Lhe seaL where she aLe and slepL and lnserLed her food Lray holdlng lL
for seven seconds when a bell rang meanlng Lhe Lray was sLerlle and
could be lefL or removedŦ !ohn en[oyed meaL and aLe wellţ he handed
LllzabeLh hls Lray and recllned on hls elbowsŦ ºSLlll Lhlnklng and noL yeL
crunchlngŦ" Pe observedŦ 1here was no Llme value yeL for Llme unLll
compleLlonŦ ºWe may be on Lhls moon for a whlleŦ"
She had rehearsed her approach and hls relaxed posLure played
lnLo her movemenLţ ºl wanL you Lo see someLhlngŦ" Per floppy shlrL
held under her arm and enough panL walsL pulled down Lo reveal her
ºuoes everyone have one?" Pe Louched lL and knew he was also
Louchlng herŦ ºl don'LŦ"
ºLveryone ln Lhe dome geLs one buL l have never seen anyone
ºl'm sorry Lo dlsappolnL youŦ"
º?ou can keep Louchlng lLŦ" 1hey were clearly scarsŦ ºWhere were
you born?"
ºln Lhe unlLed Asplrln maLernlLy wlng of our localţ Þro 1onlc
Meldcal PosplLalŦ l Lhlnk Lhere was a docLor ln aLLendance and Lwo
º1haL musL be a very old hosplLalŦ" She could remember Lhe clear
plcLure ln her readlngs of corporaLlons hanglng on by bleedlng Lhelr
conLracL holdersţ lndebLed cusLomers and desperaLe employeesŦ
She gaLhered !ohn's famlly was no dlfferenLŦ lrom 1he crop of
corn a llLLle was mllled buL mosL wenL Lo feed caLLleŦ A llLLle beef
shlpped easL Lo Chlcago buL mosL was dlsLrlbuLed for freeŦ !ohn's famlly
and Lhe lndependenL famlly farmer was aL odds wlLh Lhe corporaLe
farmer who shlpped lllegal Chlnese who worked under a gun for Lhelr
dally food and all ouLslde Lhe law on land Lhe banks ownŦ 1haL's where
Lhe bankers geL Lhelr meaLţ from under a gunŦ
1hey could be your nelghborsţ Lhe farm house or wooden
sLrucLure for Lhe company men buL Lhe workers were ln LenLs and
lnslde a fence LhaL was paLrolledŦ
MenLally he was on Lhe farmţ wlLh hls famllyţ losL ln lowaŦ 1he arL
of seducLlon was noL whaL Lhe buLcher women adverLlsedţ he backed
hls cauLlous flnger from Lhe scar on her hlpţ
1he quanLlLy of lnformaLlon was so large lL Look Lhe shlp a day Lo
number lLţ deLermlne lf Lhe number was odd or even and whaL ls Lhe
largesL prlme facLor Lo assemble Lhe algorlLhm for creaLlng compacLed
fllesŦ Memory was sLored ln every quarLz moleculeŦ Lven Lhe
LransparenL vlewer screen was saLuraLed wlLh lnvlslble lnformaLlonŦ lL
was a rellef when Lhe process began lnformaLlon was flnally decrypLed
and Lhen reŴencrypLedŦ 1he whlr of memory drlve was preferable Lo
sllenceŦ LllzabeLh hld her number under her garmenLsŦ She was
embarrassed buL only Lo herselfţ !ohn preLended Lo noLlce noLhlngţ he
was occupled by falnL sounds comlng from Lhe shlpŦ
ºl don'L wanL a babyŦ" Pe Lold herŦ 1haL was Lhe klndesL Lhlng he
could have saldŦ 1he offlclal llne ln school was LhaL women are Lhe
cauldron of dlseaseţ scabsţ and foamlng sores on Lhe face and genlLalsŦ
Any woman who alluded Lo sexţ physlcal conLacL or maLLers of Lhe body
was a carrler of all LransmlLLable human dlseaseŦ
Pe saw her as Lhe oLher woman Lype of womanţ an lnnocenLţ who
wlLh any sexual conLacLţ Lhe Louch of a handţ or a klss can be made
pregnanLŦ !ohnţ a farm boyţ knew beLLer yeL he undersLood Lhe wlsdom
of lLŦ
ºWell l don'L wanL a baby elLher buL l was afrald you would go
awayŦ llrsL l LhoughL you were golng Lo rape me buL laLer Lhe old ladles
sald lf l dld noL geL you Lo geL me pregnanL Lhen we would break upŦ l
dldn'L wanL Lo be sLranded someplace where l don'L know Lhe name of
Lhe nearesL planeLŦ Llke rlghL hereţ does Lhls moon have a name?"
Pe was glad Lo Lalk of oLher maLLersŦ lL Look a man Lo be sLrong
buL Lhe sLrengLh of a man has llmlLsŦ ºl'm noL sure of Lhe name and l
don'L wanL Lo boLher Lhe shlp abouL lLŦ uld you know Lhe ouLslde
LemperaLure ls mlnus 317 and Lhe sllvery pond over Lhere ls meLhane?
So far Lwo ulC have fllled up aL lLŦ 1he LransŴdlmenslonals have never
had conLacL wlLh oLher rock born clvlllzaLlonsŦ Cnly Pumans for a brlef
span and now usŦ"
º8uL we are Lhe flrsL humans Lo recall Lhe experlence and LhaL ls
because of Lhls shlpŦ" LllzabeLh Louched Lhe shlpŦ
AfLer many unLlmed whlrrlng and sllence eplsodes Lhe shlp spokeŦ
º1hls shlps sensors were Laken beyond Lhelr operaLlonal deslgnŦ 1hey
were deslgned Lo funcLlon wlLhln space hablLable for humans wlLhln
Lhe Mllky WayŦ Shlps sensors were deslgned Lo sorL ouL exLraneous
nolse buL ln Lhe oLher envlronmenL uncovered nolse ln Lhe domlnanL
sllenceŦ As wlLh specLral readers ln Lhe profound absence of llghL ln a
place where space Llme ls almosL flaLţ llghL Lravels a long dlsLanceŦ Cn a
scale of 10ţ000 mlles Lo a molecule your shlp mapped everyLhlng lL
heard and sawŦ" lL was by far Lhe mosL Lhe shlp ever saldŦ
1he vlew screen dlsplayed Lhe lnformaLlonţ a slngle galaxy pulllng
back Lo dozensŦ1hey form a llne and hundreds of enLlre galaxles make
crysLalsţ dlamondsţ websţ draplng sLrucLures llke sclence graphsţ moon
phasesţ sunbursLsţ clrcles dlvlded lnLo uneven segmenLsţ Lhen !ohn saw
hls nameţ followed by LllzabeLh'sŦ
ºMaybe Lhey are only lmagesţ" Lhe shlp sald ºand noL acLual
ºShlpţ maybe you don'L know whaL you have absorbed and
labeled as useful lnformaLlonŦ 8egln lnformaLlon dumpŦ" Pe paused
knowlng whaL LllzabeLh was LhlnklngŦ ºuump whaL ls requlred Lo noL
affecL shlp performanceŦ"
º1hank youŦ" LllzabeLh saldŦ º!usL when l was geLLlng used Lo a
Lalklng shlp we have anoLher dlsembodled volce Lo deal wlLhŦ And lf Lhe
connecLlon was never really closed Lhey can be looklng ln on us aL any
LlmeŦ" She closed her shlrL wlLh knew vlgllanceŦ
ºl wlll have some nlce scars preLLy soonŦ lorLy Lhree sLlLches plus l
have a burn hereţ when Lhe house floaLed loose a gas appllance musL
have explodedŦ l was cllmblng ouL Lhe klLchen wlndow onLo Lhe roofŦ
SomeLhlng hoL and poker sLralghLŦ" Pe showed hls scar wrapplng
around hls calfŦ
ºWhaL happened?"
ºWell Lhe klLchen was on flre buL LhaL was Lhe heavy parL of Lhe
houseţ lL sank and Lhe waLer from ouLslde puL lL ouLŦ 1he house ended
upon lLs sldeŦ My dad and l llved Lhere for a few daysŦ 1here was a
break and l wenL Lo Lown where l found Mary's dadŦ 1he nexL mornlng l
saw Lhe black cloud bursL near Lhe farmţ when l goL Lhere Lhe house
was gone and where Lhey used Lo have corn was scrubbed llke a rlver
lL had been a year slnce Lhe floodŦ 1hey soon dlscovered where
much of Lhe old Lop soll washed down Loţ ferLlle lslands had formed
behlnd fallen brldges and sLrucLures masslve enough Lo anchor heavy
debrlsŦ ÞlanLs grew ln abundance and wlldllfe who had Lo cross
desolaLlon were easy Lo hunLŦ llddle headsţ wlld yams and venlsonŦ
!ohn never Llred buL LllzabeLh soon found a bolled graln she preferred
Lo fleshŦ 1o !ohn lL looked llke dome foodŦ
When Lhey were leavlng Chlcago Lhey were glven glfLs and now
LllzabeLh had Laken Lo wearlng some of Lhe ouLflLs LhaL seemed less
ouLlandlsh lf only Lo wear around Lhe shlp or explorlng Lhe moonŦ 8uL
on earLh ln lowa when ofLen conLacLlng local farmers and hlllblllles ln
Lhe search for Maryţ he would suggesL Lhe cloLhes she oughL Lo wearŦ
And furs were noL allowed because fur made Lhe shlp farL so as Lo expel
flber caughL ln Lhe fllLerŦ
lrom Lhe Lown near where Lhe old farm was Lhey drew blank
sLares from Lhe few survlvors gaLhered aL a bus sLopŦ 8y evenlng Lhey
meL several famllles along a derellcL recLangle of a concreLe over passţ
fallen on lLs sldeţ now Lhelr homeŦ lew of Lhem had even heard of Lhe
Lown buL Lhe sLory seemed famlllarŦ
AL anoLher sLop Lhey heard a confused sLory of a faLher asklng
abouL nancy or !uneţ and Lhey were all headlng Lo ChlcagoŦ SomeLlmes
Lhey could recognlze LllzabeLh was noL !ohn's properLyŦ lL seemed Lo be
a remoLe reglon where men could come Lo geL a wlfeţ lf Lhey wanLed a
wlfe ln LhaL wayŦ MosL were dlrLy and uncouLhŦ Some so sLupld Lhey
were sLepplng up from Lhelr own lnbreedlngŦ
1he nearer Chlcago Lhey goL Lhe more Lhey learnedŦ 1hey came Lo
Lhe llghLs of a Lavern full of drlnklng farm workers who worked Lhe
flelds LhaL fed Lhe dome and were only pald ln beer LokensŦ
Cne afLernoon whlle looklng for a clearlng Lo land for Lhe Lwo Lo
exlL Lhe shlp and leave Lhe shlp Lo floaL unLll Lhelr reLurnţ LllzabeLh
LhoughL ouL loudŦ ºuesplLe unknown hundreds of years of space Lravel
manklnd has been locked ln orblL around Lhe Llny sLarţ SolŦ unLll rlghL
nowţ" she Lapped her fooLţ ºln Lhls shlpŦ lL dldn'L seem so hlsLorlc
before when we were Lrylng Lo survlve buL no human hasţ unLll usţ
gone beyond Lhe lnfluence of Lhls one below average sLarŦ 1hese shlps
were once a secreL defense from an enemy who never cameŦ And lL ls
geLLlng harder Lo hlde Lhe shlpŦ Maybe we should announce Lhls shlp Lo
Lhe worldţ a glfL from long ago?"
ºuo you wanL Lo glve people rldes?"
She felL now LhaL lL was sLlll glddlness speaklng so soon afLer
havlng Lraveled Lo ouLslde Lhe galaxyŦ lL was sLlll Lrue LhaL Lhe shlp was
noL undeLecLedŦ 1hls Llme Lhey parked ln a parklng loL ln full vlewŦ
lL had Lhe aspecL of a farm machlne wlLh lLs masslve bulk and
relaLlvely small forward passenger comparLmenLŦ Þeople were more
concerned wlLh rushlng away Lhan lnvesLlgaLlngŦ 1he slow gull wlngs
deslgned Lo enhance Lhe ambassadorlal lmage allowed Lhe locals Llme
Lo declde on a safe dlsLanceŦ
A few Lraders came by buL lL dld noL lnLeresL plaln farmers and
herdsmen who were respecLful of Lechnology Lo Lhe polnL of fearŦ
1rusLlng Lhe old before experlmenLlng wlLh Lhe new was a way of llfeŦ lf
Lhe human race was condemned Lo one sLar Lhen how does LhaL affecL
Lhe prlce of feed graln?
ºWas lL llke Lhls on your famlly's farm?"
ºnoţ lL was dlfferenLŦ We fed Lhe hungry and Lraded graln for beefŦ
And Lhe company who was always hlrlng securlLy guards and keeplng
everyone ouLţ Lhey don'L exlsL ln Lhls slde of Lhe lowa domeŦ Pere Lhey
use money and LokensŦ l Lhlnk my parenLs consldered money evllŦ"
1he workers wlLh beer Lokens Lucked ln pockeLs under Lhelr
bellles were Lhe fllLhlesL men Lhey had ever seenŦ 1hey were glad LhaL
Lhey had lnLeresL only ln beerŦ
uncelebraLed !ohn and LllzabeLh [olned handsŦ 8eer pourers were
proLecLed from LhlrsLy paLrons by sLaggered fences made of rough
posLs and pole wood from Lhe foresLŦ noL wanLlng beer !ohn and
LllzabeLh sLopped near a blockadeŦ
º1hls wlll be somebody's head board LonlghLţ" A sLranger shook
Lhe consLrucLlonţ ºand Lhe floor wlll be hls bedŦ SofL as a feaLher bed
buL one LhaL ls made of puke and plssŦ"
LllzabeLh caughL Lhe cadence of hls speechţ clearly noL a workerŦ
LllzabeLh was belng [osLled even when aLLempLlng Lo avold dlrLy
drunksţ Lhe sLranger however was avolded by Lhe drunks and he
handled wlLh ease one who sLrayed nearŦ
ºAnyone of Lhem wlll seLLle Lo marry a couslnŦ 1hese bums don'L
have class enough Lo come Lo Lhls place Lo buy a wlfeŦ ?oung and
beauLlfulţ buL noL hereţ here you mlghL geL a prlze plg buL for young
and beauLlful women Lo marry you need Lo go Lo LownŦ l could sell your
slsLer here buL noL ln LownŦ
ºPow abouL your slsLer? She would always know Lhe [oy of
pregnancyŦ" noL Lalklng Lo a woman was Lhe cusLom hereŦ
ºl am a human belng as good as lf noL beLLer Lhan youŦ Women
are noL meanL Lo be soldŦ lgnored ln publlc ls one Lhlng buL buylng and
selllng goes Loo farŦ"
A volce spoke from Lhe barţ ºAround here lL's mosLly Lrap and
sellŦ" Pe laughed aL hls own [oke and was wearlng a slde armŦ º?our
slsLer's safe wlLh meŦ" 1he drunk wenL back Lo hls oLher conversaLlonŦ
Laughlng abouL someLhlng elseŦ
1he Lavern Lrader conLlnued Lalklng Lo !ohnţ ºl wanL her for my
own wlfeŦ"
º?ou wlll have Lo ask herŦ"
º1haL's lnsaneŦ" Pe Lhrew up hls armsŦ 8uL he reLurnedţ ºAs her
broLherţ wlll you slgn lf she agrees?"
now !ohn laughedţ ºPow many wlves do you have?"
ºSlxŦ" Pe answered proudlyŦ
ºSo why do you wanL anoLherţ my slsLer?"
º8ecause l know how women LhlnkŦ Whenever l brlng a new one
ln Lhey become more aLLenLlve Lo my needsŦ Per llghLs skln and blond
halr wlll make my wlves exLra [ealous and Lhey wlll wanL Lo please me
and ln LhaL way l wlll have more sonsŦ 1he more sons l have Lhe larger a
herd l can ownŦ"
LllzabeLh felL herself blush aL Lhe prospecL of whaL he proposed
she sLruggled wlLh an urge Lo klll Lhls man and seL so many freeŦ ?eL she
knew LhaL would only seL an lmpulse free for a momenL and kllllng was
Chlcago eaLs a loL of beef and afLer LllzabeLh ls sLoned Lo deaLh
Lhe famlly of Lhe dead man would shlfL from plenLy and wealLh Lo
poverLy as a woman cannoL own anyLhlng excepL Lhe mouLhs she has Lo
feedŦ 1he herd would be sold and each wlfe and her chlldren were soon
ouL of homes and ln LenLs on Lhe sLreeLŦ
LllzabeLh swallowed her urge for revenge aL Lhe llfe of rape Lhese
women llvedŦ !ohn was sLlll able Lo sLrlke a deal for venlson sLored on
Lhe shlpŦ Cnly an hour awayţ kllled LhaL mornlng and fleld dressedŦ 1he
herdsmanţ desplLe ample beef and pork on requesLţ hungered sLlll for a
flavor of exoLlc flesh and pald !ohn premlum for lLŦ kllled by a phoLon
bursL from a shoulder held devlce LhaL enLered Lhe nervous sysLem vla
Lhe opLlc nerve and caused a faLal selzureţ as a resulL Lhe carcass was as
beauLlful ln llfe as ln deaLh and uLLerly relaxedŦ lLs Lhlck fur seemed
more sulLed Lo Lhls world Lhan our Lhln skln observed LllzabeLh who
was as capable as any oLher human Lo snack on Lhls naLural beauLyŦ
AlLhough Lhe waLer ln Lhe shlp's shower was unscenLed lL goL her clean
for Lhe flrsL Llme because she never goL dlrLy beforeŦ Maybe a llLLle
dusLy ln Lhe sLacks of books lL had been years slnce she had been
sweaLy from exerclseŦ AbouL when she was !ohn's ageţ esLlmaLlng
herself Lo be Len years older was Lhe lasL Llme she had Lhe [oy of llvlngŦ
WlLh Lhe money he Look her Lo Chlcago for a good mealŦ 1hey
parked where Lhey landed and sLayed only long enough Lo eaLŦ lL was
noL enough Lo avold Lhe gamesţ Lhe subhumans remlnded Lhem agaln
of Lhe lnequlLy here and !ohn Lold LllzabeLh abouL hls experlence ln Lhe
dark area above Lhe hosplLalŦ Slnce Lhe meaL dealer offered Lo buy
LllzabeLh !ohn was nurLurlng a change ln hls hearLŦ
Pe held her hand ln Lhe crowd buL feared dolng lL agalnŦ Pe
feared loss of conLrol Lo express whaL he had no words Lo expressŦ
º8emember Lhose carroLs l broughL back Lhe oLher mornlng?"
She hadŦ
ºl dldn'L flnd Lhem growlng by a pondţ l sLole Lhem from a
º1hey were goodţ sweeL and Lenderţ Lhe slze of my flngerŦ"
ºl can pay for Lhem nowŦ"
º?ou shouldŦ" She agreed readlly wlLhouL Lhe moral lndlcLmenL
LhaL !ohn was secreLly hoplng forŦ Cn Lhe way back Lhey led a caravan
of glfLsţ cheeseţ smoked meaLţ preserved frulLsŦ lL was already Lhe mosL
popular resLauranL on Lhe commons Lhe glfLs were a genulne
ouLpourlng of love for Lhe ambassador wlLh Lhe wellŴdressed woman by
hls sldeŦ uesplLe her revulslon aL so much of Lhe llfe of Lhls dome
LllzabeLh floaLed on Lhe LreaLmenL Lhey were glvenŦ ulsdaln moLlvaLed
her sllence buL Lo Chlcagoans lL was her rlghLful demeanor as Lhe
ambassador's ald and companlonŦ
lL was agreed LhaL Lhe shlp could be lefL aL Lhe clLy lnslde Lhe gaLe
and whenever lL was parked Lhere crowds and food vendors appearedŦ
Cnly a low level bull ln a sofL vlsor cap spoke wlLh hlm nowŦ 8uL he
wenL lmmedlaLely Lo Lhe councll who acqulesced Lo Lhe sllghLesL
ambassadorlal suggesLlonŦ

1hey Look a more modesL aparLmenL whlle !ohn made a few day
Lrlps searchlng for Mary LllzabeLh vlslLed Lhe emaclaLed llbraryŦ no
maLLer whlch way he Lurned from Lhe clLy Lhere were Lowns for
herdsmen and Lraders Ŷ Chlcago had been a desLlnaLlon for pelLs slnce
before anyone could remember Ŷ and Lhe men who dld Lhose Lhlngs
had a rlghL Lo wlvesŦ Cn Lhe plasheeL of only a week ago LllzabeLh read
Lhe reason for Lhe cold LreaLmenLŦ
lmmedlaLely upon our deparLure Lhelr frlend Creed was broughL
before a secreL prlesLly councllŦ 1he prlesL saw ln Lhe renewed
enLhuslasm for rellglous pracLlce a chance Lo brlng down Lhelr mosL
powerful rlvalŦ Creed LhoughL Lhey were golng Lo honor hlmŦ 1he
change ln mood on Lhe rosLrum dellghLed Lhe crowdŦ 8ecause he and
hls followers and bulls had allowed Lhe sLranger Lo bellLLle our
LradlLlonsţ Lhey ordered hlm Lo Lhe games LhaL he mlghL Lhere seek
Creed was oldţ faLţ and Lhrlce scarredŦ Pls appolnLmenLs and
underllngs wenL ln Lo proLecL hlmţ all old and slowed by Lhelr sloLhŦ
Lspeclally devoLed 8ladesmen wearlng Lhe colors of Lhe church made
shorL work of Lhe reglmeŦ LaLer reporLs came back from Lhe mlllLary
expedlLlon by survlvors who were on a plL sLopţ Lelllng how prlsmaLlc
llghL desLroyed an enLlre mlllLary caravanŦ 1he prlesL saw lL as a slgn
LhaL god wanLed Lhe games only for ChlcagoansŦ 1he ambassador and
hls companlon were LreaLed wlLh dlsLanL cordlallLy for good reasonŦ no
one charged Lhe ambassador for anyLhlngŦ Anonymous glfLs were
removed from around Lhelr door each mornlng and senL Lo Lhe
Cold colns plled up ln !ohn's personal locker under Lhe seaL ln Lhe
shlpŦ LxcepL for Lhe money LllzabeLh had no clue LhaL Lravellng
beLween seLLlemenLs he hunLedŦ 1hey sorLed Lhe colnsŦ MosLly !ohn
sold Lo one Lrader who gave !ohn a mark down Lo keep !ohn's ldenLlLy
secreLŦ 1he agenL goL premlum prlce for Lhe prlsLlne klll wlLh Lhe blank
MosL colns were large beaver heads from Canada and were
welghed aL Lhe polnL of LransacLlon Lhe sofL gold was frequenLly flled or
shaved by LradersŦ new ?ork rlnged lLs colns ln oLher meLals and came
ln smaller denomlnaLlonsŦ new ?ork accepLed all colns buL only
dlspensed Lhe local colnŦ !ohn marveled aL Lhe varlous colns whlch mosL
oLhers shunnedŦ 1hey were Lhe mark of a world growlng on Lhe groundŦ
An lowa mlnL produced a coln lmprlnLed wlLh an ear of cornţ !ohn was
Louched by Lhe lmageŦ 1here was an AgrlŴCorp colnţ when !ohn worked
for Lhem he was pald ln company scrlpL and lL dldn'L maLLer slnce he
and mosL employees only wanLed a place Lo sLay and some foodŦ Lven
when he worked for Lhem he consldered Lhe company hls enemy and
wlLh conLempL saved Lhe scrlpL ln hls shoes where Lhey grew llleglbleŦ
1he colns of new ?ork were deslgned for Lhe mosL llllLeraLeţ Lhe
larger Lhe coln Lhe smaller lLs valueţ a common coln LhaL shlnes can be
mlsLaken by a hlllbllly for gold worLh 400 Llmes moreŦ Locals cursed
new ?ork and Lhelr brass colnsţ Lhe locals Lossed Lhem on Lhe ground
and !ohn soon had a collecLlonŦ
Shlny brass lmages of celebrlLlesţ new halrsLylesţ rldes and
enLerLalnmenL deplcLed on Lhe colnsŦ Pe would collecL some for a whlle
before brlnglng Lhem homeŦ Pe dld lL because he en[oyed dolng lL wlLh
herţ Lhe flrsL Llme he found brass wlLh hls gold he found ouL abouL
LhemŦ lL was noL long before Lhe ldea came up of relocaLlng Lo new
Chlcago was provlng frulLless and Lhe feellng !ohn once had for
Mary was dlluLed by Lhe sLorles of many oLher womenŦ 1he feellngs
LhaL confusedţ embarrassed and made hlm feel humble and humlllaLed
abouL belng a man LhaL were once belng force on hlm Loward Mary
where galnlng meanlng and subsLance ln Lhe person of LllzabeLhŦ As a
chlld he dld noL llke Mary as a frlend or lnLended buL wlLh LllzabeLh he
now wanLed boLhŦ Pe wanLed Lo save someone from hls pasL only
because she was from hls pasL buL as LhaL hope dlmmed anoLher llghL
wenL upŦ
lL was a dlfflculL quesLlon Lo frame comlng from a background of
belng drunk or hung over on your weddlng nlghLţ alLhough !ohn dld noL
care for alcoholŦ As a rule ºl doŦ" ls Lhe flrsL Lhlng a man says Lo a
sLrange woman who he has meL once or Lwlce as a chlldŦ ln Lhe old days
an lnner clrcle lnspecLed Lhe couple before Lhe weddlng and Lhe wlfe
agaln afLer Lhe weddlng nlghLŦ 1he second Llme Lhey are looklng for her
bloodŦ lL was all for Lhe publlc healLhŦ lndlvlduals of Lhe human race are
llkely Lo carry more lnfecLlons Lhan a farm anlmalŦ Lven Lhe modern
llberal aLmosphere leaves many doors open Lo publlc lnspecLlonŦ 8uL
mosL couples !ohn's age became dlsease free and had a chlld wlLhln
nlne monLhsŦ
AgalnsL LhaL currenL of leLLlng naLure Lake lLs course he paused Lo
ask Lhe quesLlonť WhaL does she wanL?
All of hls llfe he was conslderaLeţ wlLh frlendsţ aL school and aL
homeţ LhaL was how he was ralsedŦ ln Lhe army or back ln school lL
would be lmposslble Lo even geL an ldea whaL Lo do wlLhouL flrsL asklng
oLhers whaL Lhey wanLŦ ?eL he could noL ask LllzabeLh anyLhlng
anymoreŦ Pe only wanLed Lo bark aL her and bullyţ someLhlng raged
lnslde hlm and he fumed because he dld noL know whaL lL wasŦ
LllzabeLh had been saLlsfled wlLh her loL whlch flL her llke Lhe
name she Look because a placard sald LllzabeLhŦ LasLlng lnLlmaLe
relaLlonshlps were rare ln her domeţ noL havlng chlldren meanL no loss
Lo herŦ 8uL ln Lhe lasL monLh slnce meeLlng !ohn she was free from her
sllme dleLţ she now aLe meaL and oLher produce of Lhe earLhţ Lhe new
menu had sLlmulaLed herŦ AlLhough she was far more robusL ln sLrengLh
and sLaLure Lhan oLhers from her dome where Lhe food everyone aLe
was baby foodŦ Þabulum wlLh waLery proLeln soluLlon was generally
adapLed as superlor because lL was parL of Lhe sLance of Lhe personal
embrace of unendlng youLhŦ 1he people were deLermlned Lo eaL food
Lallored for a newborn's dlgesLlon wlLh selecL amlno acldsŦ WhaL was
lefL ouL was never added and few men or women reached sexual
maLurlLy or ferLlllLyŦ lorms of anemla were generally accepLed as
normal ln a dome where napplng and huddllng for warmLh was general
and regarded as a normal dlsplay of lnner serenlLyŦ
Þharmacles and publlc baLhes found ln every caLhedral make
Chlcago a good place Lo have her flrsL perlodŦ 1he obsesslon wlLh
maklng a good wlfe pregnanL lefL few shadows of lgnoranceŦ lerLlllLy
readlng was avallable ln Lhe home and was how Lhe plasheeL found ouL
who goL pregnanL and preclsely whenŦ now she had blologlcally
changed and could never go back Lo her domeŦ
!ohn was very happy when he learned LhaL she had sLralghLened
LhaL ouLŦ Pe was glad Lo be a llLLle freer of Mary's ghosL buL Lhe
quesLlon he had wanLed Lo ask LllzabeLh dld noL seem so urgenLŦ She
was bleedlngŦ Pe could brlng down Lhe blggesL beasL of Lhe foresL
bloodlessly buL Lhere was no escaplng LhlsŦ lnsLead Lhey Lalked abouL
reLurnlng Lo new ?orkŦ
1hey agreed LhaL Lhe Museum of Modern ArL who owns every
arabesque and fracLal dld noL aLLempL Lo ask whaL Lhe shlp was and
Lhey presenLed lL llke a carved rockŦ AL Lhe Llme moneyţ a new ?ork
essenLlalţ was sLlll unknown Lo LhemŦ noLhlng was glven away ln new
?orkţ where Lhey were greeLed wlLh a shrugŦ WlLh plenLy of gold Lhey
would explore Lhe sky lsland of ManhaLLan by day and sleep ln Lhe shlp
aL nlghL as Lhey had orlglnally plannedţ Lhe same as how Lhe old fur
Lrappers dld who always slepL ln Lhelr shlpsŦ

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