Heavy Ice: A Requite Novel
Heavy Ice is a novel about first contact and the mutual incomprehension, wheeling and dealing over mineral rights, explosions, revolutions, religious upheavals, exploration of dead Spires, romance, duelling, intrigue and getting drunk that happens next. It features a heroine who doesn’t like people telling her she’s stupid, a hero on the run for reasons of his own and a xenoraptor who is basically a smart, semi-aquatic tyrannosaur.
Heavy Ice is set two hundred years or so after the first two Requite novels, and makes the occasional reference to them but can be read as a stand-alone.
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Heavy Ice in paperback from Amazon.co.uk
Heavy Ice in .mobi from Amazon.com
Heavy Ice in paperback from Amazon.com
Read an excerpt below:
Requite sidereal date: 5-1 Silver, 650 S.F: adjusted standardised date (ASD) 16.01.4911: Prémontré Spire, Requite.
Vane was in the deep levels of the Retort. He’d never been particularly comfortable here, and he didn’t feel comfortable enough to assemble himself a body now. He disliked the lack of familiar kerubs. Even more, he disliked the drumbeat of error messages that echoed around him.
The Prémontré Retort had been set up by someone who liked getting an error message every time the Retort did anything at all. Vane found it as helplessly infuriating as he had found being put into scratchy cloth-of-gold robes when he was a child; and just like then, his discomfort echoed louder and louder inside his own self because no one outside would pay heed to it.
Vane shivered, even though he had nothing to shiver with. He was nothing but a point of consciousness, feeling the vast shifts of the Retort’s workings around him like a fly perched on the inside of a great tolling bell. Scraps and commands of data vibrated through him as the Retort went about its business of keeping the air flowing and the water clean and the contamination out.
Pel arrived beside him. She had no trouble assembling a coherent imagined-body here in the deep levels. It even looked like her, which certainly wasn’t always the case with Makers. His epicon-grandparent had looked young and limber in the Retort, right up to the end; Albé, by contrast, always showed up in the Retort looking careworn and about thirty-five.
Pel was wearing a long green waistcoat intricately cut and laced to fit her shape instead of her usual all-enveloping coat, and her hair reached up a good ten centimetres higher than in reality, but otherwise she was simply Pel as he’d last seen her. Even the lizard-patches matched.
“Wotcha, Considine Prime,” she said. A template-frame flowed up smoothly into her hand and took shape, like honey becoming a honeycomb. “You ready to meet this Founder, then?”
“Is this some kind of trap?”
She swivelled a finger in her ear. “If the Cardinal wanted to do away with you, he could smack you round the back of the head any time he liked while you and me are slumped over a Retort-screen back in the library. Worst thing that’d happen would be one of your relatives telling him to not get blood on the books. He would not bother setting up an ambush in the Retort, on account of he doesn’t understand it and doesn’t want to.”
“You’re probably right.”
Pel swivelled her finger back the other way. “But you hadn’t thought of it before, huh? How the hell did you get to be Considine Prime and not know this stuff? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“How to be Considine Prime, I guess.”
“I knew what to do at the beginning,” said Vane, finding nothing to give her but God’s own honest truth. “Everyone cheers you, at the beginning, and you get new clothes. It’s what you do next that I’m not sure about.”
“Well, maybe this will change your mind.” Pel affixed her glyph to the template. Reluctantly, Vane did likewise.
And was elsewhere. In a cold bare room that he could tell was a Retort-construct, with the star of God emblazoned on ceiling and floor. A woman was standing there, looking impatient.
She was small, and hawk-nosed, and dressed in the fashions of a hundred and fifty years earlier: hair strangely puffed out at the sides, a mannish doublet, and a long thick skirt that looked as if she might at any moment need to ride side-saddle for a longday. Over it all hung the olive-and-gold cloak of a Maker-Chaplain. Someone else must have done up all those ties and fastenings, because her hands were encased in long, olivine-studded fingernail protectors.
She fixed Vane with her gaze, and he was helplessly reminded of his godmother.
“My name is Zophia Nastasa Korioli Ligeia Malabranca, and this is my full confession, on the longnight of my vigil before I am raised to the grace of Maker-Cardinal,” she said. Her voice reminded him of his godmother, too, though it had a strange accent with all the vowels a little out of place. She raised one hand to the star of God. “I have left undone what I should have put my hand to, and put my hand to what was not mine to meddle with. I have put the love of created things before the love of God. I have been incredibly impatient with my mother…”
The display flickered. The lights dimmed a little, and Zophia Malabranca picked up in the middle of another sentence. “… I have declared matters to be heresy, not because I truly believe them displeasing to God, but because I know what is beyond this world – or at least, what was beyond it, before the Founding.”
Once again, she fixed Vane – or the nanes doing the recording, he supposed – with heavy-lidded eyes, set under black brows that winged upwards in a storm of small lines at her temples. He had an impression of shocking intelligence, and even more formidable will.
“I have set matters in motion so that the secret Generalship of the Order of the Neither will be offered to me as it was to my grandmother before me,” she said. “I will take it. I will raise the Order from the depths, and mend and sharpen it like a broken blade. I will make of it a sword against the ages. Against the time when the Solannan Imperity comes again.”
She lowered her eyes. The stars in the ceiling and floor glowed.
“Tomorrow, I will be offered the cloak of a Maker-Cardinal, and I shall accept it. I will swear to devote my life to God entirely, and I shall be bearing false witness, before the most sacred altar on Requite and in the face of an all-knowing God.”
She lifted the glittering claws on her hand, and looked at them, as if seeing the ghost of someone else’s long fingernails. The olivine stones glinted like frozen moss. Something shone briefly between them, like a glitching hologram: a little spinning globe, with smaller globes flying around it like droplets of coloured water.
“When they come,” she said in a musing tone of voice quite unlike her earlier vehemence, “we will be ready. This I confess.”
Copyright © 2013 Ankaret Wells.