This Day All Gods Die

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

I wish to thank Douglas A. Van Belle and Mark Woolrich—as well as the entire HIT-list—for their efforts to relieve some of my ignorance. The Dancing Wu Li Masters would be proud of them. Any evidence of incomprehension which remains is entirely my own responsibility.

HASHI

It was typical of Hashi Lebwohl that he did not report to Warden Dios as soon as he returned to UMCPHQ.

He wasn’t trying to avoid another confrontation with the man who had outplayed and, in a strange, piquant sense, shamed him. On the contrary, he felt remarkably sanguine about the prospect of talking to the UMCP director. He simply made no effort to bring about a conversation himself. He assumed that Warden Dios was perfectly capable of recognizing an emergency when he saw it—and that he wouldn’t hesitate to summon Hashi when he wished to speak to his DA director.

A kaze had attacked the Governing Council for Earth and Space in extraordinary session, apparently intending to exterminate Cleatus Fane, the First Executive Assistant of the United Mining Companies. Only Hashi’s personal intervention had prevented serious—not to say embarrassing—bloodshed. And as a direct result of the attack the GCES had voted to reject Captain Sixten Vertigus’ Bill of Severance. Indeed, the Members had been stampeded into clinging to the status quo for their lives; to Holt Fasner and the UMCP. None of them had wanted to take on the responsibility for their own safety—and certainly not for the safety of human space.

If Warden didn’t call this an emergency, he must have lost all contact with the world of factual reality. Or else his game was deeper than anything Hashi had dared to imagine. Perhaps it was deeper than he could imagine.

Neither prospect offered reassurance. On the whole, however, Hashi preferred the latter. That which he found impenetrable today might well appear transparent tomorrow. And he could always push himself to expand his own capacities. The challenge might conceivably be good for him. In the meantime he could endure the shame of being outplayed.

But if Warden Dios had lost his grasp on events—

From that fount endless disasters might spring.

This was all speculation, of course. Still Hashi wondered—and worried. The quantum mechanics of his conundrum remained as Heisenberg had defined them. By his own efforts he had taken hold of events in flux in order to name them accurately; establish them in their positions. Therefore he was prevented from knowing where those events tended. Certainty precluded certainty.

He chose not to report to Warden on his own initiative because he wanted to know how long Warden would wait before summoning him. That interval would reveal more surely than words the extent to which Warden had been taken by surprise.

In any case the DA director still had plenty of work to do in order to ready himself for Warden’s summons; to confirm and solidify what he’d learned on Suka Bator. No one would criticize him for spending every available moment on an effort to be sure of his facts.

Using a tight-beam transmission coded exclusively for Data Acquisition, he’d begun speaking to Lane Harbinger as soon as the UMCP shuttle had left the GCES island and broken free of Earth’s gravity well; supplying her with preliminary data; preparing her for the research he required. He felt some discomfort as he did so because he wasn’t alone on the shuttle. Protocol Director Koina Hannish rode with him, accompanied by her retinue of aides and techs. And UMCPED Chief of Security Mandich was also aboard: he was on his way to explain his failures to Warden Dios, since his immediate superior, Min Donner, was absent