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Chapter XXX

The form of the Delta Omega base came before its function. The shape, the massive disk lying on the flat uninterrupted plane, appealed immensely to its architect Igori Splendov. How had this come to be? Igori was unable to answer. He saw limitless possibilities in the disk, the power of the curving walls.

There were the several appealing and beautiful mathematical concepts embodied in its form. Why its very circumference contained his favorite number, pi. In contrast to the United States with its polygonal military hive, the USSR would have the more human, the more enlightened, wheel. There was something rational, welcoming, and universal about this shape. He would explain this to anyone who’d listen. He saw a modular living space to open up the wastes of Siberia. He saw smaller disks submerged beneath the arctic ice, silently monitoring enemy submarines. Disks could be brought to the moon, transported to the Mare Traquillitatis one wedge at a time. No matter how cold the environment, how inhospitable, or dangerous, the disk would support the pioneer spirit of Lenin’s revolution.

Igor’s wheel was Soviet Communism; while its particulars might vary place to place, its universality was obvious, its essential structure destined for ubiquity.

When the Committee for the Planning of Large Scale Industrial Activities made it clear to him that the permafrost of Siberia would never support a structure of such stupendous mass, he remained undaunted. A visit to a Soviet submarine base late in 1959 convinced him of the power and importance of the atomic engine. A talk with a few bold young submariners convinced him the unlimited heat from such a reactor could open up the frostier wastes of the world. At last he had the final key for his citadel of communism.

Igori drew up new plans. He sought advice and support and marshaled them in front of no less than 14 executive planning committees for agencies as diverse as the Ancillary 50 Year Planning Adjunct and the KGB. Ultimately he would discover his plan gained the most favor from organizations with the least to lose should the project fail. There were apparently revolutionaries even among the revolutionary class.

One group, the Foreign Intervention Service asked him if the design could be tried in a remote corner of the southern continent. Igori insisted it could.

Then the most dispiriting phase of his entire life; the dream was being realized, but he grew more and more remote from it. The same powers with the resources and determination to make his socialist wheel reality, were jealous of their secrecy. True revolutionary initiatives were out of favor in Khrushchev’s Soviet Union. The wheel spun away from him.

He only lived to see his creation once. When true loyalists of the revolution once more took the reins of the Politburo, the FIS rewarded their old architect with a trip to Antarctica. His design had been modified considerably; even only half-finished, Igori could see that quickly. But his shape was there, the massive curving disk. His heart surged inside his chest, a great force lifting him off his feet, transported by the sublime force of his own vision. The cold no longer troubled him; the grasping hands of bureaucrats and apparatchiks slipped away. The black wall curved above and he rose to meet it.

They buried him near to the Delta Omega’s airfield. Periodically, with the shifting of ice, his coffin would nose free of the glacier and breach once more into view. Inevitably, before the creaky gears of the Delta Omega’s physical plant could be rallied, Igori’s crypt would plunge once more below the ice.

Workers didn’t begrudge his occasional visit. After all, an architect was entitled, from time to time, to check on his life’s work.


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Chapter I

When the light came back on, the room was empty save for a corpse and two baffled agents of Section Starfire, the premier Anarchist Spy Agency employed by the United States government.

Two trained pairs of eyes quickly scanned the room and found it devoid of anything worth mentioning besides an old battle-scarred table along one wall and a book shelf against the other and, of course, the body of the man Spaceman had just shot. For his part, Marcus Delacroix, Agent Shield, stood across the room from him, blinking in the sudden light, unable to focus. On the table by his right hand was a squat metal object about the same color and shape as a wheel of cheddar cheese. Instantly recognizing this object, Spaceman allowed himself a rare moment of panic.

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Interlude: Antarctica and Beyond

She saw all and knew more.

The place of knowledge looked exactly like the waking world in its details, its strangeness revealed only by implication. Looking down at her own body she knew she was dead. And yet the possibilities of her life were not entirely spent. She knew this too. Part of her wanted to simply slip back into her body and let the Charm of Utanghk do its work but she wasn’t ready to do that.

D pulled away from her body and the sub. In the ghostly second sight of the place of knowledge she perceived the submarine had already moved some distance from the dying Delta Omega Base. She watched the sub pass beneath the dark vaults of ice and turned her attention to colossal structure shuddering above.
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Chapter II

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Apparently there had been some kind of intrusion into the embassy. Every hall, staircase and exit was blocked by yellow-suited mercenaries of the AC’s. There was a time in the dim, distant past where this situation would have demanded his attention, his action. Thankfully, he had moved past such concerns.

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