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«Archangel Protocol», Lyda Morehouse

Table of contents

Acknowledgmentes

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

About the author

Acknowledgmentes

I'd like to thank all the people who have helped me with the creation of this book, but especially my editor Laura Anne Gilman, my agent James Frenkel, and his trusted assistant Tracy Berg.

For all their support and belief in my ability, I'd like to single out for special gratitude Nate Bucklin, who first believed in me, and my mentor Eleanor Arnason (and Patrick Wood). Additionally, I should thank all the professionals who helped me along my way, especially, Anne Harris, Gardner Dozois, Pam Keesey, Peg Kerr, Laurel Winter, Terry A. Garey, John C. "Rez" Rezmerski, Robert Subiaga, Jr., Maureen McHugh, Scott Edelman, Angela Kessler, Philip Kaveny, Eric Heideman, and J. Otis Powell!

Thanks to present and past colleagues (and friends!) in: "Wyrdsmiths" – Harry LeBlanc, Naomi Kritzer, Doug Huh'ck, Rosalind Nelson, Bill Henry, Michael Belifore, Laramie Sasseville, and Ralph A. N. Krantz; "Karma Weasels" – David Hoffman-Dachelet, Kelly David McCullough, Barth Anderson, Manfred Gabriel, Kirsten Livdahl, Alan DeNiro, and Burke Kealey; The "Fierce Wild Women" – Terry A. Garey, Rebecca Marjesdatter, Ama Patterson, Eleanor Arnason, and Laurie Winter; The "Loft Group," including – William Stitler (and Lady Bird), Carole Ashmore, Bob Metz, Rachel Gold, John Burke, Jon Olsen, and Susan Hastings.

Friends and family who put up with boring writer stories, including William "Laughing Turtle" Bettes; Nick Dykstra; Julie Beale; Barb Bezat (and her family – Riley, my padawan William, and the Mah Jongg girl Allie); the gang at "d'lHRC" (Susan Staiger, Jennifer Gugliemlo, Todd Mitchney, Walter Anastazievski, Roman Stepchuk, Kristine Marconi, Joel Wurl, Judy Rosenblatt, and, the bodhisattva Timo Riippa); Gerriann Brower; Barb Mach; The Jacksons (John, Michele, Maggie and Jack); Michele Helen Morgan; Barb Portinga (and the rest of the TMF Folks); Ishmael Williams; Jules Raberding; Garry Kopp (and Samantha Rose); geisha-boy Nik Wilson; Paul E. "Theisenburger" Theisen; the best nephew in the whole world Jonathan Sharpe ("I know, you distract 'em, I'll rush 'em"); all the Rounds (Shawn, Keven, Pat, Margaret, Greg, and Barb); my cousin who taught me to play and gave me the heart of a writer, Laun Braithwaite; and, of course, my parents Mort and Rita Morehouse.

A special thanks to my last-minute proofreaders and fact-checkers: Robert Subiaga, Jr., and Rebecca Marjesdatter.

And, of course, to Shawn Rounds, who came up with the new title and so much more.

Chapter 1

My hairline itched where the dead receiver lay just under the skin. I reached up to caress the hard almond-shaped lump at my temple. Maybe if I squeezed just right, the implant would eke out some last drop of code, like a used tube of toothpaste. I stopped myself. Granted, since the excommunication, I no longer had to maintain the high standards of a decorated police officer, but you'd think I could retain at least some vestige of ladylike demeanor. The unconscious gesture made me look like a wire-junkie. My LINK access had been severed a year ago, but I tended to poke at it like a scab, especially when I was upset.

I picked up the note I found tacked to my office door again. Mrs. Rosenstone couldn't afford our barter anymore. She'd been using her access to the LINK to get my letters to the New York Times criticizing the presidential campaign published. In exchange, I did a little detective work into the death of her husband – she wanted more details than the "your husband died bravely" letter the government sent. Apparently, as of today, she decided the information wasn't worth the price. Her war-widow pension had mysteriously disappeared into the government's red tape for a second time in six months. Crumpling up her note, I tossed it in the garbage can. I could hardly blame the woman.

The office was as quiet as my empty head. Pools of light warmly mottled the hardwood floor despite the dirty windows and the layers of grime on the Venetian blinds. Dust motes sparkled, illuminated by the stripes of soft light. As my gaze followed the specks swirling through the air, all I could think of was that I really should clean this place more often, especially since I all but lived here.

The broom closet held several changes of clothes. The cubbyhole beneath the window, designed for data chip storage, overflowed with coffee cups, plastic forks, and sundry dishes. Along the far wall, a bookcase of mail slots stood. In places you could still see remnants of labels that once bore the names of former office workers. Now the mailboxes were crammed with bills and traffic tickets, most of them past due. I was a pack rat; I probably had a better archive than the Vatican, if less organized. The only things that lent any style to the office were the big oak desk and the frosted glass door with my name on it: deidre mcmannus, private detective.

Even after a year, it felt strange to be working alone, but Daniel was gone – and anyway, he would never have stooped to be a private eye, especially working for barter on the fringe. I snorted in contempt at my state. Solo, empty, alone: the story of my life.

It was a Saturday. I should be at home, but something about those block walls inhibited my thought processes. Maybe it was the way concrete muffled every sound, but whatever it was, I preferred to spend as little time in the apartment as possible. The sudden loss of steady income that the excommunication brought forced me into skyscraper living. Try as I might, I couldn't make that hole-in-the-wall feel like a home. Barring my bed, I moved everything I really valued to the office.

That was next. The rent for two places stretched an already tight pocketbook, and my supply of Christian Scientists in need of a private investigator was running dry. Despite their religious convictions against getting LINKed, the Scientists were, at least, respectable clients. More importantly to me, they could pay in credits rather than barter. The government recognized their objection as legitimate because it was based on religious belief against surgery. As conscientious objectors, they were allowed official external hardware.


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