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.It rose and fell methodically, weaving a net of death across that whole space.Teck's space suit collapsed.Son witnessed again, this time with a curious satisfaction, the disruption of an alien organism.Alien.Yes.And yet.He turned to see Ransome crouched on one knee, holding the shoulder of his suit with one hand and the heat gun—not firing now—in the other.His eyes were open, but they didn't see.Son knew what had happened.Ransome had looked too long at the Light, and the distances, the planes and angles and curves of it had pulled his sight too far.Son said, "He's dead."Ransome nodded."I heard his mind die.This thing down here—I can hear you, too.I couldn't, up there."A strange, subtle thrill crept along Son's consciousness.Something in him reached out to that mind, strong even now, strong as the pulse-beat of space."You're not bad," said Ransome."You just don't understand.I don't suppose you could, although you were human once."He dropped the gun, as though it didn't matter any more."I'm going to die, you know.There's a hole in my suit.In a few minutes the air will leak out.But there's no time here, is there? And you've forgotten what air is, or why I need it."The bronzed, grim face smiled, but it was not humorous."So humanity dies, because one of its sons has no conception of time."* * *"Son!" It was Aona calling, peering through the thinning Veil.Ransome lifted his head."Who's that?"Son said, "It's Aona.She's waiting for me." His surroundings were getting indistinct.The Veil was passing."Aona.Someone you love.Son—that's what she called you, isn't it? Son, what is this light? Where did it come from?"The strength of Ransome's mind was bright and terrible.It was like the fire of a dying star."It's—Aona, you tell him." Son's thoughts were strangely chaotic."It's a part of my universe," she said slowly.There was a quality of stillness in her thought, a subtle forerunner of fear."Something happened, in one small corner of space, to the electrical tension that holds the fabric of the universe together.There was a release of energy so unthinkably vast."Her burning crest drooped as she shivered."Scraps of our universe were hurled right through the walls of vibration that separate us from other space-time continua.Only a very little bit of ours survived."The bit of our universe in yours, vibrating at a different basic rate, makes a sort of bridge between us, by altering atomic speeds.Son has changed almost completely.Only a few of his atoms now vibrate in phase with your universe." Ransome nodded."And that alien vibration is destroying us.Can't you take it back?"Aona shook her glowing head."We could not possibly generate enough energy to draw it back." Her silvery, tilted eyes went to Son, and the terror in them stabbed him."I hear you," said Ransome softly."Then there is a way." Aona whispered, "Yes."All Son's being went out to her.And yet, some tiny scrap of his mind clung to Ransome's, as though to something he must not lose."I don't understand," he said slowly."Years, age, time—they mean nothing.""No." Ransome's grim dark head strained back in his helmet.His face was veined and glistening with sweat."Think of it this way.You love Aona.She's beautiful—I can hear that in your mind.Suppose that now, while you looked at her, she were to wither and crumple and die."He broke off, as though fighting for strength.Not the pulsing strength of his mind, but the power of his body.When his thought came again, it was weaker."Look at your own body, Son.Think of it, now, growing weak and ugly and bent."He staggered up suddenly, his eyes like the last embers of a dying sun, fixed on nothingness."You're mankind's only hope, Son.Son.Remember the people who called you that.They were human.Remember.Son—of humanity." Ransome's suit collapsed with a rush.Son shut his eyes."Son," he whispered."His thought said—" He couldn't phrase it clearly, only that it meant coming from something, being a part of it, as he, already, was part of Aona.And Aona whispered, "I feel it growing in your mind.Oh, Son." He could see the flowers around her feet now, the distant fires of some great sun.A strange tremor shook his body, a shifting and changing.The Veil was thinner."Son, they're not your people any longer.You couldn't even understand.""No.No, but I could feel." He turned abruptly."There's something I have to do.Quickly."He plunged off, rushing through the dissolving matter of his universe.Up, and into the ship he thought of as his, though he had left it long ago.He hated it, down here away from the sun.Aona followed him, her feet like little white stars in the grass.* * *Things grew dimmer, more vague.Son had only to wait, to put off thinking until it was too late.But something drove him on.Presently he stood in the cabin of his ship, looking down at the still effigies.The people who had called him Son.He shivered with something more than the shock of change.These still faces—Dickson's face, and Arun's, and Ransome's.These still shapes, that had touched him and called him Son and shed queer shining drops from their eyes.Something caught at him, wrung him so that he cried out."I don't want to.Aona, I don't want to.But I must!" Her thought was a mere tremor across his mind."I think I knew, when he spoke to you.I try to think, if they were my people, suffering and dying—""I don't want to, Aona.But he said—Son of humanity." Only to postpone, to wait until it was too late.The Veil was so thin.Son beat his hands together, very softly.Then, blindly, he rushed back toward the Light.Something had got hold of him, was driving him.He knew it was right.But he wanted to fight it, to hold it off until it couldn't hurt him.And he was afraid.He stopped in the ship above the Light, where Ransome lay dead.He raised his corded arms and cried, "No! I can't [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]