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that essential fraction of sheer human talent, non-
transferable, locked in the skulls of the world's hottest
You can't put Edge down on paper, Fox said, can't
punch Edge into a diskette.
The money was in corporate defectors.
Fox was smooth, the severity of his dark French
suits offset by a boyish forelock that wouldn't stay in
place. I never liked the way the effect was ruined when
he stepped back from the bar, his left shoulder skewed
at an angle no Paris tailor could conceal. Someone had
run him over with a taxi in Berne, and nobody quite
knew how to put him together again.
I guess I went with him because he said he was after
And somewhere out there, on our way to find the
Edge, I found you, Sandii.
The New Rose Hotel is a coffin rack on the ragged
fringes of Narita International. Plastic capsules a meter
high and three long, stacked like surplus Godzilla teeth
in a concrete lot off the main road to the airport. Each
capsule has a television mounted flush with the ceiling. I
spend whole days watching Japanese game shows and
old movies. Sometimes I have your gun in my hand.
Sometimes I can hear the jets, laced into holding
patterns over Narita. I close my eyes and imagine the
sharp, white contrails fading, losing definition.
You walked into a bar in Yokohama, the first time
I saw you. Eurasian, half gaijin, long-hipped and fluid
in a Chinese knock-off of some Tokyo designer's origi-
nal. Dark European eyes, Asian cheekbones. I remem-
ber you dumping your purse out on the bed, later, in
some hotel room, pawing through your makeup. A
crumpled wad of new yen, dilapidated address book
held together with rubber bands, a Mitsubishi bank
chip, Japanese passport with a gold chrysanthemum
stamped on the cover, and the Chinese .22.
You told me your story. Your father had been an
executive in Tokyo, but now he was disgraced, dis-
owned, cast down by Hosaka, the biggest zaibatsu of
all. That night your mother was Dutch, and I listened as
you spun out those summers in Amsterdam for me, the
pigeons in Dam Square like a soft, brown carpet.
I never asked what your father might have done to
earn his disgrace. I watched you dress; watched the
swing of your dark, straight hair, how it cut the air.
Now Hosaka hunts me.
The coffins of New Rose are racked in recycled
scaffolding, steel pipes under bright enamel. Paint
flakes away when I climb the ladder, falls with each step
as I follow the catwalk. My left hand counts off the cof-
fin hatches, their multilingual decals warning of fines
levied for the loss of a key.
I look up as the jets rise out of Narita, passage
home, distant now as any moon.
Fox was quick to see how we could use you, but not
sharp enough to credit you with ambition. But then he
never lay all night with you on the beach at Kamakura,
never listened to your nightmares, never heard an entire
imagined childhood shift under those stars, shift and
roll over, your child's mouth opening to reveal some
fresh past, and always the one, you swore, that was
really and finally the truth.
I didn't care, holding your hips while the sand
cooled against your skin.
Once you left me, ran back to that beach saying
you'd forgotten our key. I found it in the door and went
after you, to find you ankle-deep in surf, your smooth
back rigid, trembling; your eyes far away. You couldn't
talk. Shivering. Gone. Shaking for different futures and
Sandii, you left me here.
You left me all your things.
This gun. Your makeup, all the shadows and
blushes capped in plastic. Your Cray microcomputer, a
gift from Fox, with a shopping list you entered. Some-
times I play that back, watching each item cross the little
A freezer. A fermenter. An incubator. An electro-
phoresis system with integrated agarose cell and transil-
luminator. A tissue embedder. A high-performance
liquid chromatograph. A flow cytometer. A spectro-
photometer. Four gross of borosilicate scintillation
vials. A microcentrifuge. And one .DNA synthesizer,
with in-built computer. Plus software.
Expensive, Sandii, but then Hosaka was footing
our bills. Later you made them pay even more, but you
were already gone.
Hiroshi drew up that list for you. In bed, probably.
Hiroshi Yomiuri. Maas Biolabs GmbH had him. Ho-
saka wanted him.
He was hot. Edge and lots of it. Fox followed ge-
netic engineers the way a fan follows players in a
favorite game. Fox wanted Hiroshi so bad he could taste
He'd sent me up to Frankfurt three times before
you turned up, just to have a look-see at Hiroshi. Not to
make a pass or even to give him a wink and a nod. Just
Hiroshi showed all the signs of having settled in.
He'd found a German girl with a taste for conservative
loden and riding boots polished the shade of a fresh
chestnut. He'd bought a renovated town house on just
the right square. He'd taken up fencing and given up
And everywhere the Maas security teams, smooth
and heavy, a rich, clear syrup of surveillance. I came
back and told Fox we'd never touch him.
You touched him for us, Sandii. You touched him
Our Hosaka contacts were like specialized cells pro-
tecting the parent organism. We were mutagens, Fox
and I, dubious agents adrift on the dark side of the in-
When we had you in place in Vienna, we offered
them Hiroshi. They didn't even blink. Dead calm in an
L.A. hotel room. They said they had to think about it.
Fox spoke the name of Hosaka's primary com-
petitor in the gene game, let it fall out naked, broke the
protocol forbidding the use of proper names.
They had to think about it, they said.
Fox gave them three days.
I took you to Barcelona a week before I took you to
Vienna. I remember you with your hair tucked back into
a gray beret, your high Mongol cheekbones reflected in
the windows of ancient shops. Strolling down the Ram-
blas to the Phoenician harbor, past the glass-roofed
Mercado selling oranges out of Africa.
The old Ritz, warm in our room, dark, with all the
soft weight of Europe pulled over us like a quilt. I could
enter you in your sleep. You were always ready. Seeing
your lips in a soft, round 0 of surprise, your face about
to sink into the thick, white pillow archaic linen of the
Ritz. Inside you I imagined all that neon, the crowds
surging around Shinjuku Station, wired electric night.
You moved that way, rhythm of a new age, dreamy and
far from any nation's soil.
When we flew to Vienna, I installed you in Hiro-
shi's wife's favorite hotel. Quiet, solid, the lobby tiled
like a marble chessboard, with brass elevators smelling
of lemon oil and small cigars. It was easy to imagine her
there, the highlights on her riding boots reflected in
polished marble, but we knew she wouldn't be coming
along, not this trip.
She was off to some Rhineland spa, and Hiroshi
was in Vienna for a conference. When Maas security
flowed in to scan the hotel, you were out of sight.
Hiroshi arrived an hour later, alone.
Imagine an alien, Fox once said, who's come here
to identify the planet's dominant form of intelligence.
The alien has a look, then chooses. What do you think
he picks? I probably shrugged.
The zaibatsus, Fox said, the multinationals. The
blood of a zaibatsu is information, not people. The
structure is independent of the individual lives that com-
prise it. Corporation as life form.
Not the Edge lecture again, I said.
Maas isn't like that, he said, ignoring me.
Maas was small, fast, ruthless. An atavism. Maas
was all Edge.
I remember Fox talking about the nature of
Hiroshi's Edge. Radioactive nucleases, monoclonal
antibodies, something to do with the linkage of pro-
teins, nucleotides . . . Hot, Fox called them, hot pro-
teins. High-speed links. He said Hiroshi was a freak, the
kind who shatters paradigms, inverts a whole field of
science, brings on the violent revision of an entire body
of knowledge. Basic patents, he said, his throat tight
with the sheer wealth of it, with the high, thin smell of
tax-free millions that clung to those two words.
Hosaka wanted Hiroshi, but his Edge was radical
enough to worry them. They wanted him to work in
I went to Marrakech, to the old city, the Medina. I
found a heroin lab that had been converted to the ex-
traction of pheromones. I bought it, with Hosaka's
I walked the marketplace at Djemaa-el-Fna with a
sweating Portuguese businessman, discussing fluores-
cent lighting and the installation of ventilated specimen
cages. Beyond the city walls, the high Atlas. Djemaa-el-
Fna was thick with jugglers, dancers, storytellers, small
boys turning lathes with their feet, legless beggars with
wooden bowls under animated holograms advertising
We strolled past bales of raw wool and plastic tubs
of Chinese microchips. I hinted that my employers
planned to manufacture synthetic beta-endorphin.
Always try to give them something they understand.
Sandii, I remember you in Harajuku, sometimes.
Close my eyes in this coffin and I can see you there all
the glitter, crystal maze of the boutiques, the smell of
new clothes. I see your cheekbones ride past chrome
racks of Paris leathers. Sometimes I hold your hand.
We thought we'd found you, Sandii, but really
you'd found us. Now I know you were looking for us,
or for someone like us. Fox was delighted, grinning over
our find: such a pretty new tool, bright as any scalpel.
Just the thing to help us sever a stubborn Edge, like