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I saw the unanswered story identification post below on another forum, and it sounds interesting. Anyone here have any ideas?


The story starts with a line of people engaged in a complicated, winding dance that leads to a structure of some kind (I want to say it's pyramid-shaped). They are trying to get in because of the vast technological wealth inside (though it's not clear they know how to use any of the technology), and they think that doing the dance the right way will allow them past the automated defenses (considered to be evil spirits or the like) that protect it.

The group is led by a person who is a professional, but the protagonist (who may also be the narrator) is pretty sure that the dance is useless -- it's just a convenient thing to be able to rationalize that somebody did the dance wrong if they get blown up or zapped. In reality, anyone who successfully makes it to into a pyramid (there are many) just got lucky because the equipment has worn out or run out of ammo over time.

I seem to remember that the protagonist is split from the group over an argument, and either he has to go on his own to an old, empty (i.e. already raided) pyramid or he is left behind in the one they are trying to enter in the beginning after it is stripped (due to an argument after they gain entry), but maybe that's an imagined elaboration.

The story ends with the protagonist (or someone from the group) accidentally activating some controls that bring a "demon" (actually a person who was in suspended animation) up from the floor, and either the protagonist (or the whole group?) killing the sleeper (whose language they don't understand but, since it is English, the reader can comprehend) and triumphantly ripping handfuls of colorful wires off the hibernation machinery that was revealed.

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  • Raiding a pyramid reminds me of Merlin's Gun by Alistair Reynolds.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 1:22

1 Answer 1

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"Ozymandias" by Terry Carr, from the anthology Again, Dangerous Visions.

The story starts with a line of people engaged in a complicated, winding dance that leads to a structure of some kind

Sooleyrah… was the best dancer among them. No approach to the vaults could be made in just the same way.

...is pretty sure that the dance is useless

Sometimes a raid would get through the Immortals’ defenses, and sometimes it would mean danger and death, but it had nothing to with the dance or the rituals.

Lasten’s people had been thinkers, the ones who kept the old knowledge, or what remained of it. They knew that vaults were guarded not by curses or demons… but they were all the same, only defenses left to guard the vaults.

...he is left behind in the one they are trying to enter in the beginning after it is stripped

“That one? Fat boy, you crazy? Nothing in that vault, nothing since before you or me born!”

...and either the protagonist (or the whole group?) killing the sleeper

And at last there were only his screams in the vault. The monster, the Immortal, the inhuman giant lay silent and destroyed at his feet.

...triumphantly ripping handfuls of colorful wires off the hibernation machinery that was revealed.

He held up the fistful of many-colored wires. "Pretty?"

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    Added some more quotes from the story. This is certainly what the original OP is looking for.
    – Firebat
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 3:40
  • Huh. I remember the last bit in a short story collection. Probably Mutants based off of the other stories.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 4:00
  • @SeanDuggan Mutants had it. See link for book preivew: books.google.com/…
    – Firebat
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 4:43

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