Part 1: The Offer
Part 2: The Cheetah and the Tree
Part 3: The Choice
Tor Books by Karl Schroeder
About the Author
DARKNESS, AND A rope road.
'Champagne?' asked the flight attendant. Antaea Argyre raised her hand to wave him away, then turned the motion into acceptance of the helix glass. It wasn't as if she was on duty, after all. She sipped the tart wine from one end of the glass coil that surface tension held it to, and watched the undulating rope ravel by outside the window.
None of the other passengers were watching. In knots of two or three or five, they preened and posed, drank and laughed at one another's jokes. The gaslights of this passenger ship's lounge lit the space brightly, highlighting the gold filigree around the doorjambs and the deep mazelike patterns in the velvet of the cushioned pillars. Everything held sumptuous color and texture, except the floor-to-ceiling window that took up one entire wall. This was black, like the uniform Antaea wore. She was the only passenger close enough to touch the cold glass; the only