Free Embedded by Dan Abnett

Book: Embedded by Dan Abnett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dan Abnett
Tags: Science-Fiction, War
fallen in. Last winter's dead leaves and seed cases had blown in through the half-open main doors in huge, gritty drifts. Blurds had nested in the rafters. In places they were swirling madly, almost angrily, around their homes, as if a selective vortex had relaunched some of the dead leaves.
      Falk followed Cleesh inside. The museum would have been magnificent, airy, light. Even from the half-finished and neglected evidence, the architect had known his business.
      It was a museum of vacancies and empty spaces, a commemoration of voids. Plinths and displays had never been filled, description plaques never printed or placed. White stone blocks and elegant metal trestles supported nothing whatsoever for public inspection.
      The only palpable exhibits were the three crude manrated bulk landers that filled the main space of the shed, each one resting in a cast-stone cradle. Their pitted hulls of maraging steel were flecked and discoloured, carbonscorched and seared by entry burns, but it was still possible to see the black and white paint scheme, the foiled silver of the thrusters and couplers, the bold red of the United Status and SOE identifiers. These titanic metal drums had brought the first settlers down. Fred Shaver had been aboard one. His wife Ginger too, presumably.
      "Why here?" Falk asked.
      She kept going. Sometimes he forgot the bulk of her and what an effort it was for her to walk.
      "No one comes here," she said.
      "Should I have worn a raincoat with the collar up?" he asked.
      She didn't laugh.
      "Just come on. There's a degree of privacy. This whole park area is unlinked."
      He'd taken an electric tram up Equestrian and walked the rest of the way. He presumed she had done the same thing, because there had been no sign of a vehicle out front. She led him down the length of the cavernous shed, their footsteps trailing small echoes. He craned his neck to admire the giant landers as they went.
      "So the thing in Letts," he said, by way of conversation.
      "Yeah. Something else."
      "What are you hearing about that?"
      "Same as everyone. Meteor slamdunk."
      "I can't help noticing you're not your usual cheery self," he said.
      She spared him a quick backward glance. He noticed that she'd been scratching at the surgical plug excisions in her throat.
      "Stuff's going on," she said. "That's mainly why you're here."
      "Have I done something to piss you off, Cleesh?"
      "Yes. You're Lex Falk and I'm me."
      "What?" he asked.
      She stopped walking and turned to face him. Some brief emotion that was hard to define passed across her face, like an interaction between clouds and sunlight.
      She surprised him by walking back to where he was standing and embracing him. Her mass swallowed him up.
      "Sorry," she said. "That was bitchy. I don't mean it. I've had a few setbacks. A few gut punches to my confidence."
      "Teasing isn't going to help, Falk. Everything was fine and wealthy when I was an omnipotent voice in a circling can. Life sucks in grav time."
      "It's a matter of adjustment," he said, secretly hoping she'd let him go soon but not wanting to pull away. "Everything will be wealthy again soon, you'll see."
      "No," she said. "It freeks ® you up, circling. Freeks ® you completely up. I've blown a lot of my choices forever, and that holes your confidence behind the heatshield."
      She released him from the bearhug and smiled down at him.
      "I don't blame you for being you, and look – you get to take full advantage of my setback."
      "You'll see."
      They started walking again.
      "About Letts. It wasn't a strike."
      "We know," she said.
      "Who's 'we'?"
      "The strike is just a cover story."
      "Who's 'we'?" he repeated.
      Beneath large picture windows at the rear of the museum hulk there was a raised viewing platform that had been built to allow visitors the chance to peer down into the anatomically

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