A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Poul Anderson. Chapter 9, 10, 11, 12

bench, crossed ankle over thigh till he peered across his knee at her,

swallowed a long draught from his glass, took out his cigarette case;

and when the smoke was going he proceeded:

“Let’s next assume the enemy’s viewpoint, i.e. what I learned and


“They–a key one of them, anyhow–he realizes the Terran Empire is in an

era when periods of civil war are as expectable as bouts of delirium in

chronic umwi fever. I wasn’t quite aware of the fact myself till lately.

A conversation I had set me thinking and researching. But he knew right

along, my opponent. At last I see what he’s been basing his strategy on

for the past couple of decades. Knowing him, if he believes the theory,

I think I will. These days we’re vulnerable to fratricide, Kossara. And

what better for Merseia, especially if just the right conflict can be

touched off at just the right moment?

“We’ve been infiltrated. They’ve had sleepers among us for … maybe a

lifetime … notably in my own branch of service, where they can cover

up for each other … and notably during this past generation, when the

chaos first of the Josip regime, then the succession struggle, made it

easier to pass off their agents as legitimate colonial volunteers.

“The humans on Diomedes. brewing revolution with the help of a clever

Alatanist pitch–thereby diverting some of our attention to Ythri–they

weren’t Dennitzans. They were creatures of the Roidhunate, posing as

Dennitzans. Oh, not blatantly; that’d’ve been a giveaway. And they were

sincerely pushing for an insurrection, since any trouble of ours is a

gain for them. But a major objective of the whole operation was to drive

yet another wedge between your people and mine, Kossara.”

Frost walked along her spine. She stared at him and whispered: “Those

men who caught me–murdered Trohdwyr–tortured and sentenced me–they

were Merseians too?”

“They were human,” Flandry said flatly, while he unfolded himself into a

more normal posture. “They were sworn-in members of the Imperial Terran

Naval Intelligence Corps. But, yes, they were serving Merseia. They

arrived to ‘investigate’ and thus add credence to the clues about

Dennitza which their earlier-landed fellows had already been spreading


“Let the Imperium get extremely suspicious of the Gospodar–d’you see?

The Imperium will have to act against him. It dare not stall any longer.

But this action forces the Gospodar to respond–he already having reason

to doubt the goodwill of the Terrans–”

Flandry smashed his cigarette, drank, laid elbows on table and said most

softly, his face near hers:

“He’d hear rumors, and send somebody he could trust to look into them.

Aycharaych–I’ll describe him later–Aycharaych of the Roidhunate knew

that person would likeliest be you. He made ready. Your incrimination,

as far as Terra was concerned–your degradation, as far as Dennitza was

concerned–d’you see? Inadequate by themselves to provoke war. Still,

remind me and I’ll tell you about Jenkins’ Ear. Nations on the brink

don’t need a large push to send them toppling.

“I’ve learned something about how you were lured, after you reached

Diomedes. The rest you can tell me, if you will. Because when he isn’t

weaving mirages, Aycharaych works on minds. He directed the blotting out

of your memories. He implanted the false half-memories and that hate of

the Empire you carry around. Given his uncanny telepathic capabilities,

to let him monitor what drugs, electronics, hypnotism are doing to a

brain, he can accomplish what nobody else is able to.

“But I don’t think he totally wiped what was real. That’d have left you

too unmistakably worked over. I think you keep most of the truth in you,

disguised and buried.”

The air sucked between her teeth. Her fists clenched on the table. He

laid a hand across them, big and gentle.

“I hope I can bring back what you’ve lost, Kossara.” The saying sounded

difficult. “And, and free you from those conditioned-reflex emotions.

It’s mainly a matter of psychotherapy. I don’t insist. Ask yourself: Can

you trust me that much?”


Sickbay was a single compartment, but astonishingly well equipped.

Kossara entered with tightness in her gullet and dryness on her tongue.

Flandry and Chives stood behind a surgical table. An electronic helmet,

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Categories: Anderson, Poul