Elsewhere in Known Space…
Ambir dances. The walls of her small home have vanished, and been replaced with whirling holographic images of thousands of her kind. The dance is intricate, and Ambir dances for over an hour without missing a step, until the image of Chiron appears among the dancers. With a sharp note of command from Ambir, the dance vanishes, and the music ends. Ambir steps into her autodoc, folds her legs under her, and tucks her heads down into her chest. The lid of the doc closes over her automatically. Shortly thereafter, the diagnostic software advises General Products and the We Made It government that Ambir is on leave of absence.
A Kzin whose fur is filthy and matted sits in a corner, purring to himself in utter contentment. A wire leads from the base of his skull to an input in the wall.
The Minister calls by vidphone. "Have you located Dr Clark yet?"
"We've traced him and the prototype to the Olive Coast. I feel certain he will be apprehended soon," said a blonde man in an azure blue uniform.
"See that he is."
The Minister signed off, and the blonde man smiled. He was quite certain that Dr Clark would never be found.
The Puppeteer knew his neck was healing badly from where the bioweapon had broken it. He was losing the sight in that eye, and the pain was too great to use his mouth. If medical care was withheld much longer, his captors would have to amputate. Unless they were prepared to let him die. But he had stopped wishing for death long ago. Vengeance must come before death.
I could have killed the bioweapon before it damaged me. I should have. But if he had, the sonics would have been activated, and he would have been as helpless as before. Worse than before, because he would have lost the element of surprise. His captors did not know that he had one weapon at his command.