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By Joe Haldeman

The passengers aboard the starship advert Astra spend such a lot in their time at the thousand-year trip to Beta Hydrii in the digital truth of twentieth-century Earth. There, they could event nostalgia for the complication of a existence they have due to the fact advanced past.

But whilst humans contained in the digital truth chamber begin to die, engineer Jacob Brewer reveals himself face-to-face with a sentient laptop captivated with humanity. It has positioned itself in control of the send. And it desires to check with Jacob...

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The squat little main-dish can intended I’d been screwed; the bastards have been unloading immediate scrambled eggs on me. They have been virtually inedible, even heated up. I didn’t are looking to discover what they tasted like chilly. I emptied all of the espresso, cocoa, and sugar programs into my canteen cup and extra a bit water; stirred it into mush with a plastic spoon. Tasted uncooked yet woke me up. there have been 3 hand grenades within the backside of the rucksack. I fished them out, making as little noise as attainable, and set them in entrance of me. Handset subsequent to them. Then the M-16 and a stack of 5 magazines. 90 rounds, plus the eighteen already loaded. It didn’t appear like a lot. I clicked the selector two times, over to vehicle, and locked and loaded. Then stretched out providers, peering at not anything. i attempted to do the observer trick and accelerate time, yet no. The moon stayed the place it used to be. i used to be the following, kind of for actual. earlier than it had disappeared in Cincinnati, the computer had acknowledged it will meet me in Wild yr. in fact, once I got here in, it knew what I suspected. So perhaps it'll need to kill me, and this was once its roundabout manner of doing it. by surprise i used to be certainly not philosophical approximately demise. however it might additionally recognize the directions I had given to Bruce. If I died, it died. except it had second-guessed us. If it used to be in command of the total send, it will probably possibly neutralize the disabling strategy. yet then if it used to be in overall keep watch over, what possibility did my suspicions current? a valid less than me—a shoe slipping on grass? I pressed the squelch button as soon as. Then within the nook of my eye I observed darkish shapes relocating opposed to the elephant grass. I pressed it two times, then labored the cotter pin out of a grenade and tossed it over the berm. The arming lever made a noisy noise within the darkness, and that i heard a number of pressing whispered syllables. Then the flat bang of the grenade and a flash of smoky yellow gentle. one other grenade went off to my left, then a chronic hiss and the panorama used to be abruptly lit up, a magnesium flare bobbing lower than its toy parachute. There should have been 100 of them, boiling out of the elephant grass towards the berm, those who were crawling up the berm now outstanding upright right into a run. Pig’s computing device gun swept over the gang, purple tracers like a pulsating ray gun. I snatched the M-16 and hosed with no aiming. the 2 nearest fell over backwards. I broke a thumbnail ejecting the journal and stuffed a brand new one in and published the bolt. no matter if this used to be actual or no longer, I needed to settle down and goal. of them have been taking pictures in my path; I squeezed off cautious bursts of 3 and hit them either. One simply fell to his knees, so I aimed to offer him one other burst. Then an individual grabbed me from at the back of, choking me in a hammerlock. I dropped the rifle and clutched at his forearm; kicked again and neglected, kicked back and overlooked. A pink glow grew shiny, stars gleaming, after which it went black. I awakened mendacity on my abdominal, palms tied in the back of my again, a gag tight round my mouth. It smelled and tasted of gas and sweat.

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