He is a violence, contained.
He sits in front of the board.
He has not eaten.
He has not slept. Technicians avoid him, say nothing to him. His eyes suddenly flash to the board. Brightness there. One of the scanners has registered the presence of a runner. Location: 'South Dakota', the 'Black Hills'. He feels elation.
The hunt resumes. EARLY MORNING…
W hen Crazy Horse Mountain was dedicated, the great mass of granite became the site of a monumental project which was to consume half a century. An Indian warrior, 563 feet high and 641 feet long, would ride the land, carved from six million tons of Dakota stone. A mountain would become a man, towering above black-forest wilderness, dwarfing the giant heads of Rushmore. The sculptor was Korczak Ziolkowski, and under his direction 150,000 tons of rock would be ripped away each year to form his dream. After a decade, more than a million tons of living granite lay in rubble at the foot of the looming mountain—and the feather of the great War Chief of the Ogallala Sioux began to emerge. Obsessed by his vision, Ziolkowski ranged the continents, prying money from the pockets of the rich, the vain, the titled—which he spent on blasting powder, dynamite, cordite, tools, winches and rope.
The work went on. Gradually the mountain sheared away. Nations threw their combined resources behind it, fired by the dramatic image of a great fighting chieftain on a wildmaned stallion. Thousands of laborers and artists toiled on the flanks of the plunging horse. Diamond drill bits and jackhammers tore at the granite heart of the mountain.And, with infinite slowness, the mammoth figure took its place against the Dakota sky: Tashuncauitco. Crazy Horse. The ruthless Indian genius who directed the annihilation of Custer's Seventh on the Little Big Horn.
The world marveled. On an April afternoon, three years before the project's completion, a thick-waisted laborer
named Balder "Big Ed" Thag was clearing brush on the east flank of Crazy Horse. He was attracted to a cleft in the rocks by a strange, ululating sound; a wind was issuing from the interior of the mountain.
They stepped to the wide opening and peered within. The wind slammed him with such force that he had to brace his legs to keep from being pushed off the slope. Unfortunately for Thag, it was exactly 4:27 o'clock. The banshee wind whistle abruptly stopped. There was a moment of absolute stillness. Then the wind resumed, but this time it was not blowing outward. The wind sucked in with irresistible force. It was Thag's misfortune that he was braced in the wrong direction. He lost his footing and toppled into the hole and fell as a stone fall down a well. The mountain was breathing, but Thag was not.
Many years passed before the Crazy Horse Caverns were discovered again. Etched by moving water through eons of
time from the limestone basement of the mountain chain, they proved to be the most extensive network of cave formations in the world. Beside them, Carlsbad was a worm crawl.
In Custer, South Dakota, the car told Logan and Jess, "You are entering restricted territory. I am not permitted to proceed farther."
At dawn they left the maze and began to trek overland In a deep ravine flanking Crazy Horse Mountain was a white metal post. On it a stamped sign.
ABSOLUTELY NO TRESPASSING BEYOND THIS POINT
Hidden in the scrub growth: a stubby barkcolored pedestal. And on the side, another. And another after that. Linking this progression was a beam of invisible light. A dappled fawn moved from cover and, with delicate steps, advanced up the ravine. Its nose tested the morning air for danger and found none. It breasted the beam. On the high granite shoulders of Crazy Horse, bronze feathers stirred. Circuits clicked.
The questing fawn lowered its sun-warmed head to lap softly at clear water in a natural stone basin. It did not see the two shadows which hushed over evergreen country. It did not see the two gold shapes which came out of the sun. Hooded jewel eyes. Razored talons. A cruel hook of steel beak. Assassins. The mech eagles struck. A blood rag of fur lay on the forest floor. Logan looked up at the sign. "We're almost there."
"It says 'Death.' " Jessica hesitated.
"Keep moving," he told her. The Gun was in his hand.
In cloud fastness the mech eagles drifted down the sloped sky, their twenty-foot wings spread against the cushioning air. Currents buoyed the metal bodies in their glide and circle; photo-electric eyes locked on the toiling
ant figures far below. A copper command in skullcase metal: Kill!
They dived. In that last instant Logan saw them coming. He smashed Jess to the ground, rolling over her. And took the blow. Blinding pain raked his back. Three deep fur rows from shoulder to hip welled blood and torn cloth. Through a pain mist he fumbled in the brush for the fallen Gun.
Sun blazed on climbing gold. The birds wheeled and came back. Kill!
Logan's enemy fingers clawed at the Gun, in the tangle of root grass. He could not get hold of it. He dug and scrabbled at it. Blinking back waves of pain, he gripped the barrel. He juggled it around awkwardly, and his two hands closed on the pearl handle. He had it now. He bent one leg, dug in a heel, twisted and flopped over on his back. Pain!
The two shapes carne at him, blacking the sky, as Logan screamed at his fingers and the Gun fired and a ripper sliced in a smoking scorch across the black bodies and the two birds exploded and rained down in a bronze wreckage.
The brook was silver and cool softness over round rocks. On the shadowed moss bank, Jess dipped a cloth into the stream and carefully blotted the mangled flesh of Logan's back. He slept fitfully. Jess put aside the cloth and sat regarding him. She reached down to touch at his matted hair. His lips moved; he moaned. "Jess…" He tried to sit up, but she restrained him with gentle fingers.
"Lie still," she told him. She could see the raw hurt in the wax of his skin, the fever of his eyes. For a moment he looked at her without recognition.
"Rest," she said soothingly. "You need rest."
The tension began to leave him as he listened to her voice. Above him the tree boughs moved soft fans of shifting green shadow. The quiet worked on him as the last of the tension drained away. His breath evened. The pulse in his neck slowed and steadied.
"Got to keep moving," he said. "Ballard. Got to—"
"Hush," she told him.
Now they were moving again, with Crazy Horse towering above them, impossibly huge. The warrior's feather was lost in cloud. They had found the old trail, overgrown with years, leading into the base of the mountain. At its end was the main cavern entrance. Logan and Jess stepped into arched darkness. Their eyes gradually adjusted to the light change. The floor was layered thickly with rock dust, undisturbed by footprints. Their feet echoed as they descended.
"Are you all right?" asked Jess.
"I can make it."
The tunnel widened. They rounded an abrupt elbow turn and stopped. The Thinker lay before them. Here was a constellation of winking fireflies stretching to infinity. Here was an immense electronic silence. In the endless, glowing dark was Tangier and London, Macao and Capri and Beirut, El Quederef and Chateau-Chinon and Wounded Knee. From these caverns leapt the motive force of a dispensary in Chemnitz, a glasshouse in Shropshire, a callbox in Billings, Montana…This vast mountain brain sent its signals along Earth's nervous system—to the distant places, the villages, towns and cities, bringing order out of disorder, calmness out of confusion. They beheld the world.
The final realization of the computer age. A direct extension of the electronic brains at Columbia and Cal Tech in the 1960s, it was a massive breakthrough in solid-state technology. Computer was linked with computer in ever widening complexity.
President Curtain was the first to suggest that the Thinker be moved from Niagara to the Crazy Horse Caverns, and with the death of the Republican Party in 1988 the Crazy Horse bill was passed without opposition. Estimated final cost: twenty-five billion dollars. The old had built it; the young would use it. "It's almost…frightening," said Jess. They moved downward along the spiral of tunnel. Spaced at irregular intervals along the glowing plain below were bars of darkness.
Logan was perplexed. What did these dark areas represent? He would find out. They stepped onto the polished flooring beside the first dark area. Set into the smooth computer metal facing them was an embossed plaque.
CATHEDRAL—JCV 6ø 498 R3
West Complex. Los Angeles, California
A siren wail stabbed the silence. From deep within the hive of linking corridors something was coming in a sulfurous rush. Logan snatched Jessica's hand and ran. The sound intensified. The thing was closing. It came with a howl and a shriek. It was upon them. They plunged into tunnel blackness. The siren ceased abruptly. Tableau: Logan, braced against dead metal, the Gun a pointing finger; Jess, crouched behind him; and a looming presence at the mouth of the passage. In the solenoid night the Watchman waited, motionless except for the faint gear-flicker behind the glass plate which was its face. A half-ton of destruction; armor plate bristling with weaponry. Waiting. Doomed, thought Logan. Against this thing even a DS Gun was useless. What's holding him back? Why doesn't he go for us? Logan's throat moved. He looked up. Another plaque.
MULTI-OPERATIONAL LOWER LIFE UNIT— VJK 8( 1704
"M.O.L.L.U.," breathed Logan. "Molly!"
Of course, that was why the thing didn't attack them. That was why it couldn't move.
This was a dead area. For the robot it didn't exist. Logan's thoughts raced. Cathedral. Molly. Both dead, untended stages on the Sanctuary line. Which meant the next dead area would be stage three. But how to get to it? Logan backed Jess along the corridor. The Watchman didn't move. At the other end they faced brightness. The machine could not follow them down the dead passage; it would be forced to go around. But would they have enough time?
"Come on!" urged Logan.
They ran. The Watchman burned into blinding motion. They ran as the fox runs from the hounds. The darkness of another dead area was ahead. The Watchman erupted into the corridor, cannoned down upon them. Into darkness!
The Watchman dead-stopped outside the tunnel. Stage three;
WASHINGTON-LLI (7 5644
District of Columbia
"That's where the car out of Molly should have taken us," said Logan. "Ballard must be there, in Washington."
"But how can we—That thing won't let us out," said Jess.
Logan swept the area. "I think there's another way," he said.
Winding and zigzagging dizzily up above the mammoth electronic glow, a narrow series of steps had been chiseled into the tough interior rock of the mountain. To reach the steps, however, they would have to cover a full quarter-mile of live corridors.
Logan jammed the Gun into his belt and removed his shoes. He checked the Watchman. No movement. A silence.
Sucking in a lungful of air, Logan drew back his arm and lobbed one of the shoes far out across the top of the computer plain. The shoe fell.
As it touched the metal floor the Watchman whirled and shrieked off, down the hive.
The girl was terrified. "We'll never make it.
"Run, damn you, run!"
They sprinted for the steps. The Watchman reached Logan's shoe, hummed for a split second; a muzzle glided in the robot's chest. It blitzed the shoe into flaked ash. The machine then reversed course, crashing back toward Logan and Jess. The girl slipped to her knees on the polished floor. Logan pulled her up. They ran. The watchman's siren filled the world. Running. The glitter and flash of insect corridors. Logan heaved the other shoe. It angled out and down, buying them another few seconds. Running. The Watchman blurring in. The steps! Logan and Jess threw themselves onto the cut granite and scrambled upward-just as the Watchman slammed to a halt at the bottom.
"Will it follow us?"
"Can't," Logan said, climbing. "The steps aren't energized."
"Where are we going?"
"Where they take us. Up."
They kept climbing. Steps and steps and steps. Logan's wounded back throbbed; his jaw was a full ache. Exhaustion dragged at him. The fitful rest on the bank had done little to strengthen him. It grew darker as they ascended: the computer glow fading into gray shading into pitch. Logan was grateful for the darkness; he didn't want to see the steps falling steeply away below. Even the great plain of the Thinker far beneath him induced a sense of swimming vertigo. He would not look down again; he would look up. Up. Logan froze, pulling Jess in beside him. Someone was coming down the steps. Was it Ballard? Logan crouched close to the rock wall, eye on the beam of light bobbing slowly towar them. The figure moved steadily down thetwisting rope of steps. Now he was distinct enough for Logan to identify the tunic of a DS man. And the face. Not Ballard. Francis. Logan raised the Gun. Keeping his eyes tight on the advancing figure, he whispered, "All right, Jess. It's up to you. You hate killing. He's a DS man, armed with a homer. Either I use my Gun first or he uses his. Which will it be?"
"Jess…Jess?" Logan pivoted. The steps were empty. Jess had vanished. But how? He was stunned. Had she gone on back to—to where? Surely not to the thin which still waited for them at the bottom?
A soft voice called to him. "Logan…here!"
He slid quick fingers along the rock. An opening. Francis was twenty steps closer; his light flickered the walls. Logan put away the Gun and slipped into th fissure, groping for Jess.
He touched her ankle.
'Go on ahead," he urged. "I'll follow you."
The crawl-space narrowed. Narrowed more.
They were flesh corks in a pipe. A muffled sob. Jess could go no further. The weight of Crazy Horse pressed around them. Logan felt the rush of claustrophobia, shut it off.
"I think it's a little wider ahead," whispered Jess.
"Stretch," he told her, speaking harshly. "We can't go back."
Her hips scraped against the rough, sinuous pipe; she inched ahead. Now they could
move on hands and knees. The ceiling had risen. They stood upright in the blind core of the great mountain.
The rough talus of the stone floor cut into Logan's bare feet. The dark was impenetrable.
"Which way?" asked Jess.
Logan took her hand and began a cautious advance. With a bare foot he encountered emptiness, caught his balance, drew back.
"Not this way." He tried another direction. The floor was pocked with deep shafts; a moment's carelessness and they would fall. The murmur of subterranean waters echoed up to them. Logan probed ahead, weaving between the sinkholes in the stone. On all sides, in the living blackness, his ears could detect the shift of distances and depths.
A smooth rock face. Logan cautiously felt his way along it, searching for an opening. The rock face curved. They were in a closed chamber. Abruptly his hands fingered emptiness: the climb and twist of a passage. They heard the slow drip of water. Where did it lead? They'd lost the sense of sight and now all sense of direction.
"Keep going," he said. They clambered up flowstone ridges, snaked between stalactites and stalagmites and wet limestone columns. They were in a black mole-land of dolomite and calcite and gypsum. The mineral breath of the caverns blew on them. Jess suddenly collapsed. Logan knelt, held her against him. "Rest a moment," he told her.
Now, with the cessation of their movement, they heard other sounds in the pitch. Something plopped into a pool. Hard claws clicked on stone. A rustling insect scuttled over Jessica's leg. She screamed, surged to her feet, shuddering, as a second and a third claw-footed creature crawled her flesh.
Whipping at her skin, she frantically dislodgedthem.
"Wait," said Logan. "I think I can give us some light."
He twisted the pearl endplate of the Gun, lifted the plate free. The glow from the Gun' s interior power pack dimly illuminated the space around them. The chamber was acrawl with cavernicolous life: in the shallow pools lived crayfish and salamanders, whose optic ganglia had atrophied. These blind fish had developed tactile papilae on their heads, arranged in ridges. The lava walls supported Harvestmen spiders spinning gray clockcurl webs. Adelops swarmed the floors, preying on mites and myriapods among the dark mold and fungi. Here they had lived and adapted since the Permian and Cretaceous periods. And here, too, were the beetles and wingless insects. By the thousands. Logan and Jess fled the chamber. They hurried onward, along deep winding cuts and narrow cracks in the substrata. Jess stopped at the edge of a wide pool of black water. She was breathing in ragged gasps, her body shaking with exhaustion. "I—I can't go—on."
"If we stay here we die."
"We'll die anyway. We're hopelessly lost. Admit it."
"All right, we're lost."
"And the caverns go on forever. We'll die here. We'll fall and be crushed or starve…"
Logan studied the water revealed by the Gun's glow. A wet flash. "We won't starve," he said grimly. He was soaked to the armpits when he brought up the darting silver fish. It wriggled in his fist. Logan climbed back to the girl and the Gun that lay beside her.
"We won't starve," he said again. "In fact, if we—" He paused, staring.
"What is it?"
Logan triumphantly thrust the creature toward her. "This fish. It's not like all the others. This fish has eyes!"
He quickly reassembled the Gun.
"Let's go," he said. "Into the water."
Up the coursing stream that fed the pool, ducking their heads to avoid the rock ceiling that lowered and raised above them. Around two sharp bends. Swimming. Climbing as they swam.
"Look!Sunshine ahead. They climbed faster as light filled the cave They came out beneath a clean, cold waterfall that speared white music into a deep gorge.
They breathed the bright, clear air