Great Sky River (Bantam Spectra Book)
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Nearly 100,000 years after first contact with the machines that dominate the universe, only a few hundred humans survive. Trapped on Snowglade, a barren world near the center of the galaxy, Killeen and his child, Toby, of the Bishop Tribe are primitive scavengers, homeless and hunted by the ruling “mechs”. Then suddenly, a strange cosmic entity – neither organic nor cybernetic or living matter – reaches out from a black hole to speak with Killeen. But can the fallen descendent of starfarers understand this being in time―and seize his only chance to save his family and mankind from final annihilation?
make the manager spin on its rotors, whirring madly, its arms ratcheting. Toby laughed, banishing his frown. He was so taken with the mad mech that he forgot to cover his gaping, cheerful mouth. In the Citadel this had been impolite, a symbolic revealing of the coarse inner self. Killeen thought to remind him, but figured there was time enough for manners later. If ever. Ledroff ordered the navvys uncyberlocked and set back to labor. The Family could learn more of what went on here that way.
Twilight came laced with high orange clouds. Killeen felt as though he walked on similar high puffy softness, for he could barely feel his lower legs. He had been marching for some time, unmindful, knowing only that he had to press forward into the neutral, dimming air. He felt himself merge with the settling mind-mist that swarmed about him, a fog through which he could see the details of a long, downsloping valley slide past. The scenes jogged and rocked so he knew he was walking through the
Not all of human used. “So I saw.” Hatchet stood with hands on hips, watching the last of the Crafter bioparts come out of the vaults. He licked his lips. “Best damn haul ever. Renny’s gonna owe us a lot.” Killeen said, “You knew they use human parts?” Hatchet’s eyes slid toward him, then away, decided to be offhand. “Sure. I was the one met this Crafter, set up the first trade. It was me took the risk.” “By yourself?” “Damnsight right. We were down, had nothin’. I saw this Crafter
been a vexing problem for it, ever since the inception of its career. “What …?” Killeen had a sudden suspicion. The Mantis began its artistic program with what the Families call the Calamity. Understand, the mech cities would eventually have destroyed the Citadels in any case, as part of their pest-elimination procedures. The Mantis supervised operations so that it could harvest a maximum number of humans, allowing few to die unrecorded. The Mantis preferentially harvested the older, riper
caught on a root. He crashed facedown. A fine net of cracks spread across Toby’s back. Killeen heard tiny, brittle popping noises. The cracks broadened to black lines, racing zigzag all over the boy. Before Killeen could move, his son broke crackling into fragments, shattered like glass. EIGHT He blinked and was awake. His hands and feet were cold. Grimy polymer flooring pressed against his cheek. Killeen rolled over, his mind a jumble of disconnected thoughts. He had been reaching