James P Hogan. Inherit The Stars. Giant Series #1

James P Hogan. Inherit The Stars. Giant Series #1

James P Hogan. Inherit The Stars. Giant Series #1


He became aware of consciousness returning.

Instinctively his mind recoiled, as if by some effort of will he

could arrest the relentless flow of seconds that separated

non-awareness from awareness and return again to the timeless

oblivion in which the agony of total exhaustion was unknown and


The hammer that had threatened to burst from his chest was now

quiet. The rivers of sweat that had drained with his strength from

every hollow of his body were now turned cold. His limbs had turned

to lead. The gasping of his lungs had returned once more to a slow

and even rhythm. It sounded loud in the close confines of his


He tried to remember how many had died. Their release was final;

for him there was no release. How much longer could he go on? What

was the point? Would there be anyone left alive at Gorda anyway?

“Gorda. . . ? Gorda. . . ?”

His mental defenses could shield him from reality no longer.

“Must get to Gorda!”

He opened his eyes. A billion unblinking stars stared back without

interest. When he tried to move, his body refused to respond, as if

trying to prolong to the utmost its last precious moments of rest.

He took a deep breath and, clenching his teeth at the pain that

instantly racked again through every fiber of his body, forced

himself away from the rock and into a sitting position. A wave of

nausea swept over him. His head sagged forward and struck the

inside of his visor. The nausea passed.

He groaned aloud.

“Feeling better, then, soldier?” The voice came clearly through the

speaker inside his helmet. “Sun’s getting low. We gotta be moving.”

He lifted his head and slowly scanned the nightmare wilderness of

scorched rock and ash-gray dust that confronted him.

“Whe-” The sound choked in his throat. He swallowed, licked his

lips, and tried again. “Where are you?”

“To your right, up on the rise just past that small cliff that juts

out-the one with the big boulders underneath.”

He turned his head and after some seconds detected a bright blue

patch against the ink-black sky. It seemed blurred and far away. He

blinked and strained his eyes again, forcing his brain to

coordinate with his vision. The blue patch resolved itself into the

figure of the tireless Koriel, clad in a heavy-duty combat suit.

“I see you.” After a pause: “Anything?”

“It’s fairly flat on the other side of the rise-should be easier

going for a while. Gets rockier farther on. Come have a look.”

He inched his arms upward to find purchase on the rock behind, then

braced them to thrust his weight forward over his legs. His knees

trembled. His face contorted as he fought to concentrate his

remaining strength into his protesting thighs. Already his heart

was pumping again, his lungs heaving. The effort evaporated and he

fell back against the rock. His labored breathing rasped over

Koriel’s radio.

“Finished. . . Can’t move. .

The blue figure on the skyline turned.

“Aw, what kinda talk’s that? This is the last stretch. We’re there,

buddy-we’re there.”

“No-no good. . . Had it. . .” Koriel waited a few seconds.

“I’m coming back down.”

“No-you go on. Someone’s got to make it.”

No response.

“Koriel . . .

He looked back at where the figure had stood, but already it had

disappeared below the intervening rocks and was out of the line of

transmission. A minute or two later the figure emerged from behind

the nearby boulders, covering the ground in long, effortless

bounds. The bounds broke into a walk as Koriel approached the

hunched form clad in red.

“C’mon, soldier, on your feet now. There’s people back there

depending on us.”

He felt himself gripped below his arm and raised irresistibly, as

if some of Koriel’s limitless reserves of strength were pouring

into him. For a while his head swam and he leaned with the top of

his visor resting on the giant’s shoulder insignia.

“Okay,” he managed at last. “Let’s go.”

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Categories: Hogan, James