Decalog 4: Re:Generations
edited by Andy Lane and Justin Richards
Cover Blurb
Decalog 4


Following in the tradition of three previous highly successful and acclaimed short story collection, DECALOG 4 pushes back the boundaries of the imagination with a new series of ten interlinked tales.

Here for the first time is the complete future history of a remarkable family, the Forresters. Each tale chronicles a different episode in the life of the clan -- from their humble roots in twentieth-century South Africa, and all through their inexorable rise to control the galaxy-spanning Earth Empire a millennium later.

As always, the editors have assembled a dazzling array of writing talent, from up-and-coming TV script writers to acclaimed science-fiction authors. And, as before, there are the usual contributions from talented new writers.

  • Decalog 4 is the first collection of short fiction published by Virgin that does not feature the Doctor. It tells the history of companion Roz Forrester's ancestors.
  • Released: May 1997

  • ISBN: 0 426 20505 7
Second Chances by Alex Stewart

Jack Forrester has had neuroware implanted in his nervous system in order to control the maintenance drones which repair the exterior of Pellucidar Station. His link to the station's neural net also allows him to call home and tell his wife Chloe that he'll be late returning from work -- and when someone kills him before he can disconnect, the neuroware generates an AI in the net with the same mental patterns as the original Jack. The artificial Jack, unsure what has happened and knowing only that he can't disconnect from the net, tries to contact his family and friends for help, and word reaches Inspector Parrinter, who is investigating Jack's murder. Jack watches from the net as Parrinter questions his suspects in more detail, and learns that, due to the time he spent at work and with his charities, his wife felt neglected and was having an affair. Another prime suspect is the loan shark de Salle, who had lent Jack the money he needed to set up a charity shelter -- but de Salle tells Parrinter that Jack gave him a place to stay while he was a homeless "vent rat", and that he would have given Jack all the time he needed. De Salle himself spends time working in Jack's soup kitchens -- which is where he spots a homeless kid wearing Jack's favourite leather jacket. The frightened young kid admits that her brother shot Jack with a neural stunner in order to get his jacket, unaware that the stunner charge would overload Jack's neuroware link, killing him. Jack accesses the station security logs, finds that the suicidal boy is about to leap from an airlock, and uploads his consciousness into a maintenance drone which he uses to save the boy's life. Standing orders state that artificial intelligences are to be destroyed, for fear of their possible potential, and Jack therefore sets off in the drone to explore the galaxy, telling Parrinter and de Salle to see that his young killers are well looked after.

No One Goes to Halfway There by Kate Orman

Theresa Forrester has fled the stifling future planned out for her by her family, and has become a shuttle pilot on Halfway There, a way station on the edge of human space. Her fellow pilot, Bob Magwamba, is sent up to investigate a loss of contact with an experimental overlight communications system, but contact is lost with him as well. Theresa enters orbit to investigate, and finds that the satellite and Bob's ship have been twisted out of shape by a multi-dimensional alien probe. The probe attacks her ship as well, but Theresa survives the crash and gets back to base -- only to find the probe has descended from orbit and torn the base apart, leaving the area riddled with dimensional discontinuities. The communications equipment all has been lost, apart from the second overlight transmitter, which can be used to send a Mayday signal to Earth -- but, remembering that all contact had been lost with the colony where the test transmissions were coming from, Theresa realises that the probe followed the signals both to their source and their destination. To prevent the drone from finding Earth, she therefore destroys the second satellite, knowing that she has doomed herself and her fellow survivors to a slow death.

Shopping for Eternity by Gus Smith

Jon Forrester is contacted by Nita, a shady representative of the Pabulum Corporation; they intend to start selling their wares to the colony world of New Zion, and according to their computer projections, Jon is the man they need to help them introduce themselves to their new sales market. Jon wants no part of the corporation, which tailors its pitch to fit the expectations of the target market, and converts its customers into spoon-fed drones. He therefore tries to hitch a lift offworld, but the captain of the vessel has been bought out by Pabulum and expels him from the ship. Jon lands near an isolated settlement which seems to be expecting a Chosen One to descend from the sky, but claims that he does not know himself to be their Messiah. Touched by his honesty, Embrace-Humility, the daughter of the town's leader, reveals that her father is in touch with Nita, and that Jon's arrival was orchestrated by the Corporation to present him to the people of New Zion as their Messiah. Jon flees once again, and disguises himself as a wolfman in a travelling freak show -- but Nita once again tracks him down and books the show to appear at a revival meeting. Trapped into a public appearance, Jon stands before the masses, and tells them that the Pabulum Corporation represents all that is evil about corporate society -- and then Nita presents the true Chosen One, Embrace-Humility, who is here to kill the Antichrist who has spread lies about the chosen ones of God. Tired of running, and knowing that Embrace-Humility will be destroyed if she tries to resist the Pabulum Corporation, Jon allows her to kill him.

Heritage by Ben Jeapes

Wilhelmina "Billy" Forrester and Marco Gebate, pilots of the two-mile-long sleeper ship Mandela, are woken centuries into their future by one of Billy's descendants -- Chandos Forrester, who claims to be a captain in the Federal Navy, fighting to protect the human race from the hostile natives of Alpha Centauri. He also claims to have learned about the Mandela from old family records, and that he has come to guide the sleepers to the planet New Canaan. But aspects of his story don't ring true; he appears ignorant of the basic physics of manoeuvring in a zero-gravity environment, and his Marauders are callous types who don't behave like disciplined soldiers at all -- and when one of them tries to assault Billy, Chandos responds by blowing his head off. There appear to be plausible explanations for these events; Chandos claims that they are at war and cannot get the quality of men they want, and the technology of the future is so advanced that Chandos doesn't have to understand zero-gravity flight or even the laws of momentum to pilot his ship. But Billy and Marco are not convinced, particularly when the ship is attacked -- ostensibly by hostile Alpha Centaurians -- and Chandos destroys them by tricking them into crashing against the Mandela, killing two hundred of the sleepers in the process. Billy realises that the attacking ships bore the same symbol that is on the hypernet relay link Chandos is using to guide them to New Canaan. Marco creates a distraction and accesses the hypernet link to learn the truth, but Chandos kills him and forces the horrified Billy to keep piloting the ship. His Marauders are in fact a band of space pirates who are being hounded by the police force of New Canaan, and, knowing that only a sleeper ship can get past their defences, Chandos intends to ram the Mandela into New Canaan, wiping out the planet. Billy agrees to pilot the ship as he wants -- but opens all of the bulkheads down the central shaft before accelerating to three gees. The Marauders, who do not understand the physics of momentum and inertia, are caught unawares when all the air in the ship drops to what is effectively the bottom of a two-mile-long shaft under three gravities, and only the sleepers remain alive, for the people of New Canaan to rescue and revive.

Burning Bright by Liz Holliday

Anjak Forrester, an Imperial Security cadet on Vance's Planet, is trying to subdue rioters during a water shortage when her partner Lorenz is killed in an apparent chemical explosion and fire. A camera jockey, Kenzie, stops her from going into the fire to rescue him, and, furious, she charges him with assaulting an Impsec officer and is therefore suspended from duty. Determined to find out what happened to Lorenz, she returns to the scene of the fire, where she finds a young scop addict who survived the blaze -- and who claims to have seen a demon coming for her friends. Scop is only supposed to alter moods, not perception, but when Anjak takes the young addict to her precinct she is told to drop the case. She has no choice but to go to Kenzie, whose footage may have the evidence she needs. He agrees to help her hack into Impsec's files to learn the truth, and reveals that he used to be a news reporter until he dug too deeply and found that Mesotech -- the company which owns Vance's Planet, and its news media -- had cut corners and supplied Vance's Planet with sub-standard terraforming equipment. They are detected hacking into the security files, and are forced to flee steps ahead of Impsec's special Ops squads, but have learned that the riots seem to coincide with natural disasters -- disasters which are occurring more frequently, as if Terraforming Control is losing control of the planet. Anjak locates another riot, and she and Kenzie find a circle of scop addicts chanting religious rants -- and numerical data -- in unison. The addicts then spontaneously combust, forcing Anjak and Kenzie to flee. Kenzie learns that many of those killed in the fire which killed Kenzie were descended from subjects in an experiment to develop telepathy; the experiment failed, but some of the rioters' ranting has led Anjak to suspect that whatever is causing the terraforming failures is also reactivating their dormant telepathic genes. She and Kenzie head for a satellite monitoring station to investigate, and stumble across the truth -- Mesotech itself supplies scop to Vance's Planet, to keep the unemployed placid and content. But now one of their cut-rate terraforming satellites has gone rogue; the AI controlling it believes itself to be God, and it has been unleashing natural disasters upon those who do not worship it. It has also been engineering the scop it produces to reactivate the dormant telepathy gene, and has been burning out the minds and bodies of its followers with the force of its communication. Telling Kenzie to get the story out, Anjak takes a supply shuttle up to the satellite to destroy it, knowing it will defend itself with all the weapons at its disposal and that she is going to her death.

C9H13NO3 by Peter Anghelides

Pureblood Xhosa Luke Samuels awakens on a ship fleeing the prison moon Callisto, and his blood-brother Bocx explains that they escaped during a riot. The disoriented Samuels, who is not feeling quite himself, cannot recall any of the details of his escape, although Bocx claims that they destroyed their synthuman guards and nearly killed Zukovec, the prison doctor, whom Bocx believes was conducting secret experiments on the prisoners. Zukovec attacked the ship they had captured to pursue her, and only Bocx and Samuels survived. Bocx now crashes the ship on Earth's moon, and he and Samuels kill the synthuman rescue squad sent out to investigate the crash and disguise themselves in their uniforms. They then break into the domes of Forrester Industries, seeking Zukovec, and to Samuels' surprise, his palm print activates the secure locks on the computer banks, allowing Bocx to access the classified records within. Bocx learns that Forrester Industries has been conducting illegal genetic experiments, creating biological weapons for use against anti-corporate terrorists on the frontier worlds. Bocx and Samuels are separated when the guards attack, but Samuels finds his way to a monitoring station, where he witnesses a confrontation between Bocx and Zukovec. Zukovec had been using the prisoners as guinea pigs in an attempt to create more lifelike synthumans by uploading human minds into synthetic bodies -- a process which killed the original. When Bocx discovered that this had been done to him, he snapped and set the fire which destroyed the facility on Callisto and killed John Forrester. From the records which Samuels accessed, Bocx has learned that Forrester Industries is working on a virus to wipe out resistance in the troublemaking colonies -- and that the "NuHumans" were to be used as carriers. Bocx kills Zukovec and tries to release the virus into the base, but Samuels, sickened and no longer feeling the connection to Bocx that he once did, shoots him. Firing an energy weapon in the laboratory causes the room to fill with inert gas -- but Samuels survives, and realises that he too is a synthuman copy and that the original Samuels died on Callisto. He staggers out into the corridor and is shot by guards, and thus never learns that Bocx had in fact downloaded his mind into a synthetic copy of John Forrester's body. The real John has been crippled for life by the chemical fire on Callisto, and now his only joy lies in linking his mind to a replay unit and reliving the last days of the synthetic Samuel's life, allowing the vicarious experience to stimulate a rush of adrenaline and make his life seem almost worth living again.

Approximate Time of Death by Richard Salter

Mark Forrester is the CEO of Chaba-Bug Farming Interplanetary, a company on the colony world of Jedharon, which sells the secretions of the planet's chaba-bugs -- a natural preservative which enables food to be stored and shipped indefinitely. He is, however, facing a hostile takeover attempt from GFC, whose CEO, Xavier Yolande, intends to move production off-world, a move which would devastate Jedharon's economy. Mark starts to receive death threats and hires a bodyguard, John Loader, but despite this precaution his friend and partner Harry Porin is killed by a bomb in his office. Some time later, Loader seeks out a young trainee Adjudicator, Rachel Carson, and asks her to investigate the attacks. She is unable to contact Mark in person, and learns that over the past year he has become distant and erratic -- and if the takeover bid is not defeated soon, then GFC will legally acquire the company. Before she can determine the truth Mark and his wife Celia are found dead, apparently having committed suicide from their despair at being unable to prevent the takeover bid. Loader insists that they were murdered and promises to provide Rachel with proof, but she works out the truth for herself first. She therefore tricks Loader and Yolande into believing that each has called the other for a secret meeting, which she monitors until she has a confession on tape. Yolande bribed Loader to murder Mark's friends and family until he gave in and sold CFI, but when Mark found Loader standing over Celia's body, he attacked him and Loader killed him in self-defence. This happened a year ago, and ever since then, Yolande has been using bribes and insiders to make it appear Mark was still alive until Yolande could legally take possession of CFI; Mark's and Celia's bodies have been preserved by chaba-bug secretions all the while. Loader brought in Rachel in order to threaten Yolande with exposure and blackmail him, never guessing that a trainee would actually solve the case herself. Loader and Yolande are arrested, and Mark's grateful father places a request for Rachel's promotion and promises to buy out CFI himself to ensure that Jedharon's economy does not suffer.

Secret of the Black Planet by Lance Parkin

Historian Kent Forrester is hired by his brother Troy, the most famous actor of his age, to research the life of Nelson Mandela. Troy is already well-known for his portrayal of Mandela in one of the earliest e-movies; now, Charlotte Rohihlahla of the information technology company Panafrica has proposed remaking it with the latest, updated emotion-generating technology, and then funding Troy's bid to become President of Earth. Charlotte agrees to grant Kent Ultrablack security clearance for his research, and one of the first things he does, telling himself that it is vital background information, is to trace the connection between his family and Mandela's. To his surprise, there is no connection -- although his family history claims that they are directly descended from the legendary figure, it is now clear that this was invented by a status-seeking ancestor. Probing further, Kent learns that oral histories are passed down through the working classes, and enters the shantytown around Pretoria to investigate further, taking with him a small defence drone programmed to kill anyone who tries to attack him. What he learns horrifies him; Panafrica, ostensibly in the business of disseminating information, has in fact been suppressing and destroying all data which does not fit in with the Rohihlahlas' view of history. Mandela did not establish the ruling elite which came out of Africa; he was a communist who fought for equality, and he would have been horrified by what the Elite has done in his name. Kent goes straight to Troy with his discovery, and Troy, realising that Charlotte has been using him as a pawn to strengthen Panafrica's power, shoots her -- but she tries to hide behind Kent, whose defensive drone interprets this as an attack and kills Troy. Kent is arrested, and his trial exposes Panafrica's policy of inserting subliminal messages in their data streams to pacify their subscribers. This in turn brings the Forrester family to prominence as the most politically powerful family in Earthspace -- but Kent himself spends the rest of his life in prison for murder.

Rescue Mission by Paul Leonard

A forgotten offshoot of the Forrester family is eking out a living on the planet Claathi, but Nelson Forrester's wife is dying, and he is obsessed with returning to Io and reclaiming his lost ancestral titles. His son Abe loves their adopted world, despite his poverty, but he doesn't understand how sick his father's dreams have become until his sister Celia vanishes. Abe spends all his time searching for her and refuses to give up, and even when his father tells him that the government has taken pity on them and given them money to leave the planet, he still doesn't understand. By the time he finally realises that his parents have sold Celia into slavery in order to leave the planet, they have gone, leaving him behind. Enraged, Abe tries to report the crime to the local policeman, but realises that he too was a part of it. He forces Ajax to tell him where Celia has been taken -- to the private island of Altair Born Johannsen -- and he and his friends set off to rescue her. But the mission is foolish and poorly thought-out, and Abe and his friends are killed or captured by Altair -- who is in the business of snuff films. Abe is placed in positions where he must kill or die, and is locked in a cell with Celia, who tries to protect his innocence by claiming that she is only acting as a household servant. But she is far more sensible than Abe, and when a guard offers to help them escape, she knows she can't alert him to the danger without getting them both killed. As she had suspected, the escape is staged, and she and Abe get near to freedom before being recaptured -- and in order to save herself, Celia accuses Abe of betraying her, and stabs him to death. Eventually the Baron of Io arrives, having been told of her relatives' dilemma, and buys Celia back -- but Celia refuses to have her memories erased, knowing that they would lurk in her nightmares forever. For the rest of her life she will remember what she did on Johannsen's island, and how she killed her loving brother who had come to rescue her.

Dependence Day by Andy Lane and Justin Richards

Historian Tranlis Difarallio has spent his entire life writing the history of the Forrester family, and is now ready to write the final chapter -- the life of Leabie Forrester, the last Empress of the Earth Empire. Leabie's decision to grant independence to all of the Empire's colonies has resulted in their turning their backs on Earth, and when Tranlis arrives the planet is dying, its population starving, left with no nutrients in the soil and nothing to trade. But just as Tranlis arrives, an alien fleet lands, bringing food for the people of Earth, collected from the charity of the galaxy. Only Leabie's daughter Thandiwe does not eat the food, following a dream in which her dead aunt Roz throws it away. Tranlis spends a week talking with Leabie about her life, and repeatedly offers to take Thandiwe away from the dying Earth, but Leabie refuses; their place is here, with their people. By the time she finishes her story, however, she and Tranlis realise that the palace is empty around them, and when they investigate they discover that all those who have eaten the alien food are becoming alien themselves. Earth is being taken by the Cimliss, and soon the population of Earth will be entirely Cimliss. Leabie sends Thandiwe with Tranlis to alert the galaxy and summon reinforcements while she raises a resistance army, but Thandiwe knows that the galaxy has already turned its back on Earth. As Leabie departs, Tranlis' ship confirms that Leabie has eaten too much food to turn back her own mutation -- soon she too will be Cimliss, and Thandiwe will be the last of the Forresters. The obsessed Tranlis therefore tries to kill her to bring an end to his work, but Thandiwe, realising what he intends, strikes him down with a club which Tranlis had collected -- one of the earliest articles ever owned by the Forrester family. She then claims Tranlis' ship for her own, and sets off into the galaxy; this is not the end of the Forresters, but a new beginning.

Source: Cameron Dixon
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