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Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs Novels) by Richard Morgan

Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs Novels) by Richard Morgan

Author:Richard Morgan [Morgan, Richard]
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781400101375
Publisher: Tantor Media


CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

'You know anything about synamorphesterone?'

'Heard of it.' Ortega dug absently at the sand with the toe of one boot. It was still damp from the tide's retreat, and our footprints welled soggily behind us. In either direction the curve of the beach was deserted. We were alone apart from the gulls that wheeled in geometric formations high overhead.

'Well, since we're waiting, you want to fill me in?'

'Harem drug.' When I looked blank, Ortega puffed out her cheeks impatiently. She was acting like someone who hadn't slept well.

'I'm not from here.'

'You were on Sharya, you told me.'

'Yeah. In a military capacity. There wasn't all that much time for cultural awareness. We were too busy killing people.'

This last wasn't quite true. Following the sack of Zihicce, the Envoys had been steeped in the mechanics of engineering a regime compliant to the Protectorate. Troublemakers were rooted out, cells of resistance infiltrated and then crushed, collaborators plugged into the political edifice. In the process we'd learnt quite a lot about local culture.

I'd asked for an early transfer out.

Ortega shaded her eyes and scanned the beach in both directions. Nothing stirred. She sighed. 'It's a male response enhancer. Boosts aggression, sexual prowess, confidence. On the street in the Middle East and Europe they call it Stallion, in the south it's Toro. We don't get much of it here, street mood's more ambient. Which I'm glad about. From what I hear it can be very nasty. You run across some last night?'

'Sort of.' This was pretty much what I'd learnt from the Hendrix database last night, but more concise and with less chemistry. And Curtis's behaviour ran the checklist of symptoms and side effects like a model. 'Suppose I wanted to get hold of some of this stuff, where could I pick it up. Easily, I mean.'

Ortega gave me a sharp look, and picked her way back up the beach onto dryer sand. 'Like I said, we don't get much of it here,' she said in time with her laboured, sinking footsteps. 'You'd have to ask around. Someone with better than local connections. Or get it synthesised locally. But I don't know. With designer hormones that's likely to be more expensive than just buying it in from down south.'

She paused at the crest of the dune and looked around again.

'Where the hell is she?'

'Maybe she's not coming,' I suggested morosely. I hadn't slept all that well myself. Most of the night after Rodrigo Bautista's departure had been spent brooding over the uncooperatively jagged pieces of the Bancroft jigsaw and fighting off the urge to smoke. My head seemed barely to have hit the pillow when the Hendrix buzzed me awake with Ortega's call. It was still obscenely early in the morning.

'She'll come,' said Ortega. 'The link's booked through to her personal pick-up. Call's probably delayed at incoming security. We've only been in here about ten seconds, real time.'

I shivered in the cold wind from offshore and said nothing. Overhead, the gulls repeated their geometry. The virtuality was cheap, not designed for long stay.



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