Читать онлайн «Blindfold»
Chapter 31 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 32 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 33 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 34 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 35 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 36 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 37 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 38 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 39 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 40 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 41 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 42 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 43 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 44 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 45 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 46 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 47 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 48 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 49 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 50 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 51 (#litres_trial_promo)
Keep Reading (#litres_trial_promo)
About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)
About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)
Our conscience is not the vessel of eternal verities. It grows with our social life, and a new social condition means a radical change in conscience.
The way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test reality we must see it on the tight-rope. When the Verities become acrobats we can judge them.
Outside the Truthsayers Guild, the crowd had already started to gather. Kalliana could hear the murmur of voices, feel the press of their excited thoughts even through the shielded walls of Guild Headquarters.
They were waiting.
She looked through the stained glass windows of her quarters on the third deck. She brushed pale fingers across the smooth, cool glass panes—brilliant shards of crimson, green, and blue epoxied into dull alloy tracks—as if to rub away the shadows of milling people anticipating the trial. But they would not leave, not until Kalliana had made her judgment.
The people of First Landing waited in the plaza for the Truthsayer to come out, to face the accused murderer, to read the guilt or innocence directly from his thoughts.
Perhaps it was the spectacle the colonists wanted, a bright entertainment, or just relief from their strenuous jobs for an hour or so. Kalliana knew they all had hard lives out there; she wouldn’t have traded with them for anything.
Officially, the Truthsayers Guild believed the citizens longed for a reaffirming lesson in morality, a demonstration of what would happen if they slipped from the narrow but clearly defined path of the law …. Then again, after spending so much time descending into the minds of criminals, Kalliana wondered if maybe the spectators were just thirsty for blood.
The accused—a man named Eli Strone—had supposedly spilled enough blood.
Raw sunlight filtered through her window to spill rainbows across the rugs that covered the cold deck plates. Her quarters, once the cabin of a high-ranking officer on the scuttled spaceship that had been converted into the Guild building, seemed safe and warm to her, a shelter from the evil thoughts of the populace at large. Every day she and the eleven other telepathic Truthsayers had to face the sins of the people, but today would be worse. Today, if the accused was indeed guilty, she would be forced to confront his memory of slaughtering twenty-three people.
Kalliana wrapped herself in her white robe, clean and pure, made of bleached cotton grown here on the planet Atlas, then tied it with the emerald sash of a Truthsayer. Her petite body, fine blond hair, and translucent skin made her look like a pale angel. The cloth rustled like hushed whispers as she moved. She completed her ceremonial costume with a wide, ornate gold collar that added extra weight to her shoulders, as if her burden wasn’t already heavy enough. But the formal spectacle required all the trappings of a mystical ritual.
The crowd was growing restless in the plaza. Her reluctance had already made her late. She would have to face the people soon, face Eli Strone.
She had read the proclamation a dozen times over, but Kalliana picked up the discolored sheets and stared at the words again. Documents printed on genuine paper made from kenaf fibers, because a physical document implied a permanence that electronic records could not convey.
The Strone Case. The brutal murders had occurred in the isolated wastelands between the landholdings of Carsus and Bondalar, out in the construction camps for the new mag-lev rail that would link the two holdings. An efficient mag-lev network already connected each of the nineteen scattered landholdings with the hub city of First Landing, but in an unprecedented alliance, Carsus and Bondalar had decided to join their holdings directly, without passing through the central point.
The construction work had proceeded for three years, plagued by disasters, sabotage, defective materials. And now this: Three separate labor gangs, twenty-three people, had been murdered. The bodies hadn’t been discovered for days, since the crews reported to their overseers only once a week. The killings had gotten progressively more monstrous down the line.
A man named Eli Strone had shown up on the roster of each slaughtered crew. Up until two years ago, Strone had been a member of the elite guard working in the Guild Headquarters, steadfast and ready to defend the Truthsayers against any sort of disturbance—but he had abandoned his post suddenly, without explanation, after years of service. Strone had then bounced between minor jobs in First Landing’s hydroponic greenhouses or loading docks, eventually heading out to the wilderness and a more rugged life.
Three months ago Strone had volunteered for the backbreaking work of laying inductance coils and alloy rails for the transportation link between Bondalar and Carsus holdings. Such work had generally been assigned as slave labor to criminals convicted of minor offenses, or even the religious fanatics, the Pilgrims, but crew bosses would not turn down a willing worker.
Then the murders had occurred.
Eli Strone had survived; no one else had. He had applied for labor on a fourth crew shortly after the massacres were discovered, and the soldier-police had apprehended him.
Strone insisted he was innocent. But then, most guilty people did. Only a Truthsayer could tell ….
Finally ready to face the accused, Kalliana stepped toward her cabin door. Her stomach knotted, and she felt the frosty electricity of nervous sweat, but she did not hesitate. She had been raised in the Guild since the embryo stage, developed for this duty. It was the way she paid for the comfortable life she lived.
As she stepped into the corridor, she saw Guild Master Tharion striding toward her: a tall man with sunlight-yellow hair and eyebrows, granite-gray eyes, and a long white robe cinched with a royal blue sash. He was thirty-four, thirteen years her senior; only two years ago he had found himself suddenly saddled with leadership of the Truthsayers Guild.
“I’m ready, Guild Master,” Kalliana said, averting her eyes, certain Tharion had come in impatience.
“A moment, Kalliana,” he said, gesturing back into her quarters. “The people can wait. They enjoy the anticipation.”
Kalliana retreated into her quarters, glad for the delay but worried about what Tharion would ask. She detected no anger in his expression, no stiffness in his movements. He had a pleasant face, calm but firm, just beginning to show the lines of responsibility that came with middle age.
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