The Price of Everything was the seventh story in the Bernice Summerfield anthology Life During Wartime. It was written by Gregg Smith.

Summary Edit

"Leo Didas" is waiting at a spaceport for transportation to the Braxiatel Collection. He is approached by a humanoid with a blank face, who proceeds to kill him and assume his appearance.

Bernice wakes after a night of drinking and dining with Mushtaq Anson. She tries to ignore Joseph, but when he starts speaking with Braxiatel's voice, she listens. Brax tells her of his agent, Kellarn, who is to arrive at the Collection, posing as Leo Didas, a guest of Anson's.

When "Didas" arrives, he is greeted by Benny, Anson, Anson's attaché and Jason Kane. Benny, who met the real Didas some time ago, greets him enthusiastically. She offers to take him on an extended tour of the Collection. During the tour, "Didas" repeatedly ridicules the art he sees. Jason wonders at Benny's enthusiasm — she usually hates guided tours.

They arrive at the fountains, where there is an uncarved block of stone — the purpose for Didas' visit. He is to carve the block into a Fifth Axis soldier. He sends the others away, claiming to want only Benny's company. When the others leave, Benny makes sure the two are in a safe area for speaking. Kellarn tells her his plan: there will be an attack on the Collection, and while the Axis is dealing with it, Kellarn's people will evacuate the inhabitants of the collection. Benny is concerned about the damage to the pieces of art, but Kellarn thinks they are pointless and doesn't care that they will be destroyed. He tells Benny she needs to choose between her friends and the Collection.

After agonising over her decision, Benny meets Kellarn again. She tells him she can't go through with it. Anson appears and congratulates Benny, informing her that "Kellarn" is actually a construct that has mimicked Kellarn's appearance, and this was a test of her loyalty. She notices that the construct's technology is far above what the Axis is capable of. Anson tells her she could be valuable to the Axis, but she just walks away.

Characters Edit

References Edit

  • Kellarn was supposed to impersonate the reclusive sculptor Leo Didas.
  • Benny met the real Leo Didas while accompanying Menlove Stokes.
  • Kellarn is murdered on the spaceport orbiting Abadron.
  • Benny had oysters and wine with Anson the previous evening.

Notes Edit

to be added

Continuity Edit

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