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World's Third E-Book—Published On the Web in 1997 For Digital Download

an Empire of Time SF novel

by John Argo

 Preface   Chapter 1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38   39   40   41   42 


10. Old World—Year 2299

Souspolitis was a short, dark-haired man with a face thought beautiful by many women. Paul, though honored to be invited to the party at Souspolitis' condominium for being one of the six pioneers, had been warned to avoid him. At 45, Souspolitis was 15 years older than Paul. He was one of the few Aerie dwellers who had not grown white-haired in his forties. All his life he had excelled at school, at work, and at play, and for several years now he had been a member of the ruling Council. He had a lazy, cruel sense of humor that stayed just within bounds.

At the party this evening, he made after-dinner conversation with Master Engineer Krings and two other Aerie leaders. Krings, big and tough, had been drinking heavily. What shocked the party was when Krings threw a glassful of whiskey at Souspolitis and stamped away, slamming doors as he left.

Souspolitis, brushing the droplets off his tuxedo, turned coldly, amiably, toward Dr. Mannering, who happened to have been listening, and asked: "Well, Dr. Mannering? Do you share my opinion?"

Mannering looked uncomfortably into his drink. As usual with Souspolitis the discussion cut close to the quick of Aerie sensitivities. Mannering seemed to think for a minute or two.

Meanwhile, the four-piece combo began to play again, drawing some of the spectators softly out of the circle. Laughter rang out. Aerie people knew time was precious. Little time to debate the obvious.

Souspolitis smiled thinly. "Well, Dr. Mannering?" A small crowd remained, anticipating Mannering's reply. Paul couldn't pull himself away. He had to know what Mannering would say.

"Well, Dr. Mannering?"

Mannering was a big man, with huge hands and a red face surrounded by white hair. His normally crisp blue eyes looked pained, "Well, Krings has been moody lately. He can't seem to agree on anything with SheuXe and myself about this interstellar mission we're designing. He seems to want to salvage Earth." He considered some more, staring down as if the answer lay in his drink. Finally he looked up and shrugged. "Yes, I think you are right and Krings is wrong. Earth will never be home to mankind again. We must put our money on the stars, not down here."

Souspolitis shrugged off his small victory, sipping a drink. The crowd began to drift apart and the music and laughter picked up. So the mission would go forward, Paul thought walking away. At this point, Krings must feel the disapproval of his EarthTwo project was the final nail in his coffin. Paul grew sweaty under the collar, thinking any day now he and Licia would have to confront Krings about their affair.


Copyright © 1990-1996-2014 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.