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There were a whole lot of people who did not want that

to happen, and some of them were passing smart, smart


enough to at least realize that promoting Atour Riten to
commander and shuffling him off into the middle of
nowhere to run a military library and archive was a lot
safer than deleting him. And so it had come to pass.

Truth to tell, he wasn't that unhappy about the solution


they'd found.

His glory days of revamping and innovation were behind


him.

Weeks where he could stay awake and alert for three or


four sleep cycles and burn in a work-fever were long
past. He could still put together a top-rack system as well
as anyone-false modesty aside, better than most-but
these years it took longer than once it had. He was much
nearer the end of his road than the beginning. And all in
all, he had few regrets.

He sighed softly. Long had he been a thorn in the foot of


whoever was in power. This latest shift didn't really
matter all that much: Republic, Empire, it was six to one,
half a dozen to the other. It meant little to the average
person struggling to make a life. Either form of
government could make the mag-levs run on time, and
both stepped on individual rights far more than they
should. As far as Atour was concerned, the best

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