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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Stivers Dick
 

«Deathbites», Dick Stivers

1

June 1, 1520 hours, Osaka, Japan

Dr. Uemurea knelt beside the low table in one corner of his office, his untasted tea in front of him. He touched the stout white-oak stick he always carried and looked at Aya Jishin who knelt opposite him. She was explaining how Japan could overcomeAmerican competition in computer development. She explained hoarsely, fervently and urgently.

Uemurea knew he would have to kill her.

He looked attentively at this woman, his face carefully impassive. Behind the mask of polite intentness, he let his mind wander. Again he touched the stick; he had great faith in it.

Uemurea was Japan's top computer researcher, but to him technology was only a thing of the mind; it meant nothing to the soul. Uemurea's soul yearned to observe the old ways, to once again find the glory that had been Japan's in past centuries. So, he had a traditional tea table in one corner of his office, while all his colleagues had American chrome clutter. Every day he went to the dojo to practice bojitsu, the deadly art of the staff, while others at the research facility collected pulled muscles playing squash and racquetball.

Then this creature, this Aya Jishin, had come to him with a repulsive proposition. She knew he would refuse, refuse curtly, and that could only mean she did not intend to let him live to repeat that proposition to anyone else.

He looked at the hands of Aya Jishin — blunt fingers, huge ridges of calluses. They were ugly, deformed hands that had been plunged again and again into beans, rice, sand until they were little better than maces on the end of her muscular arms. The arms swung from wide shoulders.

Whatever this thing kneeling, facing him was, it was not a woman. The bland, expressionless face, the perfect dark eyes, were not meant to be accented by a nose that had been improperly reset and a cauliflower ear. Suddenly it occurred to him that he was looking at the type of Japanese woman he pretended to honor. In the past, the samurai women had fought as well as the men. Some had been extremely proficient warriors. Was this repulsive creature actually a throwback to the times he wished he had lived?

He shook off the dreadful notion, at the same time mechanically shaking his head. He was not aware that he had shaken his head until Aya Jishin stopped in mid-sentence, respectfully waiting for him to voice his objection.

The scientist found himself reluctant to state his view. It was not that he did not know the only course permitted by honor, it was just that he suddenly felt his fifty years and did not look forward to the exertion of physical violence. A workout was one thing, actually having to fight for one's life was something else.

Dr. Uemurea was just opening his mouth to speak when there was shouting and screaming from outside his office. He rose quickly, perturbed by the nature of the sound, but thankful for the interruption. Across the table, Jishin rose smoothly, easily.

"It is the New Red Brigade," she said. "We are destroying this place." Her speech was still quiet, her voice still hoarse, but the speech form had changed from a person speaking to a superior to a person speaking to an inferior.

"You never expected me to go along with your plan," Uemurea said.

She shook her large head. "No, but your research will put the plan into operation. You deserved the right to refuse."

The scientist was amazed by the cultural correctness of her action. In a flash of insight, Uemurea realized that while he had been romanticizing about Japan's past, this terrorist had been living it.

"What is happening out there?" he casually asked, leaning on his cane.

"The workers are being killed so they can identify no one. The electronic files and the paper files will then be loaded into trucks. As I explained, we must use them if we are to defeat the Americans in computer sales."

"But you're not really interested in who sells the most or the best computers, no more than I am."

She shrugged. "Not computers, as opposed to cars, televisions, or anything else. But the ability to manufacture is power. Being able to manufacture the best is more power. I am interested in that."

"Thank you for your honesty. Then you really think you can speed the disintegration of America?"

She grinned, an ugly gap-toothed grin. "I shall bring about that downfall, myself. First, they will lose their computer researchers, then other researchers, then those who manufacture things."


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