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Behold, He Said
Book Three Of The Messiah Trilogy
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-435-7
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 692 Pages
Published: November 2018

From inside the flap

To unravel a puzzle that imperils civilization, the Galaxy’s only self-aware computer and its enigmatic human handler must be enticed to abandon their prison planet. Only Computer (yes, that’s its name) can solve the puzzle: Why did all humans in the Galaxy, in one searing moment, get back all their missing socks?

Speaking of prisons, on the hell-world Bohrkk a mysterious energy spike destroys a sprawling punitorium. The only survivors: Mormon trideevangelist Alrue Latier, his plural wives, and a reluctant documentarian. To survive, they must con the native tribespeople they encounter on a breathtaking scale. (Latier doesn’t mind.)

The missing-socks mystery opens the path toward unimaginably larger mysteries, touching even the domain of lint theory. As this tour de farce concludes, will the reclusive Computer and Alrue Latier, now a self-made dictator, recognize that they need each other … before a mushrooming cult inspired by twentieth-century priest-philosopher Teilhard de Chardin overwhelms their gimcrack scheme to save the Galaxy?

Behold, He Said (Excerpt)


1

August 11, 2367 (not that anyone still tells time that way)

Planet Bohrkk, Sector Rho Lambda: Punitorium L752

"You're not very good, are you?"

"What?"

"Not a good Spectator," Nataleah Latier said sourly. "When you turned on, your eyes twitched."

Meryam Mayishimu shrugged. "I'm a documentarian. The virtuoso Spectators, the ones who, um, 'turn on' with no one noticing, they get the plum assignments - living among savages on Enclave worlds, that sort of thing. Me, I'm as good as I have to be."

"But no better." Nataleah frowned.

Meryam shrugged. "Shall we begin?"

"I thought we had."

Meryam shifted her lean fanny on the worn cellblock bench, wishing it offered more padding. "The Parek affair," she said crisply. "It changed your husband's life."

"And mine. If not for Parek, I'd never have met my husband."

"If not for your husband, you wouldn't be in here."

Dense black curls trembled against Nataleah's bizarrely chalky skin. "You know how it was."

"I do, yes," Meryam prodded. "But tell my experients."

Nataleah paced, frowning. "More than twenty standard years ago, Alrue violated Enclave to instruct Arn Parek."

"The false messiah."

"You say that." She spun to face Meryam. "Breaking Enclave is serious business. Alrue nearly got put away for it."

"But he wasn't. One of history's more improbable escapes from justice, to be sure."

"Ten standard years later, everything was different. It wasn't fair! Sfelb, they'd needed Alrue's ship to help save the Galaxy. They promised him a blanket pardon."

Meryam shrugged. "But he didn't cooperate."

"Some say that." Nataleah's ashen fingers traced a filthy ledge. "Still, the way things ended was so forjeling wrong." She pursed her lips. "Ooh, can a preacher's wife say 'forjeling'?"

Meryam spread her hands. "You just did."

"I did not."

"You said 'sfelb,' too."

"No."

"I can play you back the journal …"

"Never mind." Nataleah scowled, elbows bent, balled fists clutching at her inmate tunic. "The point is, not only did Alrue end up doing time in spite of a blanket pardon, they threw his extended family in with him."

"You mean yourself and the other plural wives."

"Why jail us? We weren't accomplices, we were just waiting in our, our …"

"Harem?" Meryam supplied.

"That's no Mormon word. But we played no part in what Alrue was up to."

Meryam leaned against a mottled wall. "You didn't have to come in here with him."

Nataleah bristled. "Sure, we had a choice. Divorce Alrue and lose our children, or serve time with him. And lose our children."

"But this way you get your children back," Meryam said.

"Eventually."

"They're being raised in Mormon homes," Meryam noted. "They'll be returned when your husband's sentence ends."

"And meanwhile?" Nataleah fought back tears. "They sealed our wombs."

"First time I've heard reversible sterilization described that way. Look, children can't grow up in detention."

"Oh, really?" Nataleah raised an eyebrow. "All right, Abigayl's a special case. As a general matter, no one wants inmates breeding 'torium tots. But do you know what it means to a woman of the New Restoration, not being able to give her husband more children?" Nataleah clasped her hands together. "And do you know, our sentence - being incarcerated for a husband's crimes - has no precedent in Galactic law? Constance looked it up."

Meryam cocked an eyebrow. "Nonetheless, you opted to stay with him. You, Constance, the three other wives."

"Abigayl was too young for a divorce." Nataleah collapsed into a decrepit formchair. It joggled uncertainly before flowing snug against her buttocks and back. "What happened to us wasn't justice," she said darkly. "It was a tantrum."

Meryam spread her fingers. "I'll admit, it was irregular."

"My turn now, Fem Documentarian." Nataleah leaned back; after an interval the chair followed her. "How did you meet my husband?"

Meryam chuckled. "It was almost twenty-five standard years ago, a bit before the Parek affair. Alrue was still on Terra, just starting to build a Galactic audience. I was a journalist. I gave him one of the toughest interviews he'd had to that time. It became terribly popular. I heard that after he got famous, some things he'd told me proved embarrassing for him."

Nataleah nodded. "And then?"

"A decade later, a being claiming to be me came into Alrue's circle. That … thing became a partner in the scheming that ultimately got Alrue - and you - incarcerated. But it wasn't me."

Nataleah nodded darkly. "It was really that self-aware monstrosity and his human handler … what was his name?"

"Gram Enoda."

Nataleah half-smiled. "Ever wonder where he is today?"

"Not if I can help it." Meryam fingered a twist of her chocolate-red hair, immediately realizing she shouldn't do that while recording. A field Spectator would know that without thinking. "Anyway, the impostor's antics put my name back in the public eye. I'd always dreamed of being a Spectator. Starting so late, the best I could hope for was to be a documentarian." Meryam caught herself short. How did this boorish woman cajole me into being herinterview subject?

In the middle distance a chime clanged. "Time to pray," Nataleah said, rolling her eyes.