Conventions and Things by on

Conventions

Comic-Con: San Diego on Wednesday, July 20th 2016 – Sunday, July 24th 2016 . It is sold out, but if you are in the area, there are outdoor events at which we can meet. I will only be there on Saturday 23rd.

Fan Club

You’ll find the fan club forum at The Brotherhood Of Vartra. It is free to join.

I have a Facebook page for me as an author here – Lisanne Norman booksΒ  There you will find snippets from the new book as I have been writing it, as well as news about me.

 


Alien Species by on

Sketches by Mike Gilbert and Lisanne Norman.

The Sholans

They are the felinoid species who feature predominantly in my novels. They are in the process of evolving away from four-legged locomotion and though definitely upright, prefer to hunt on all fours. They are my favorite species in the Alliance. I chose to write about felines because I asked myself “What if we met aliens who resembled animals on Earth?” Could we see past the appearance of an animal to the people beneath, or would prejudice get in the way?

Rather than just copy from one of the many feline communities on Earth, I’ve given a lot of thought to their evolution as a species. Why did they go into space; what have they to offer in an interplanetary market-place in the way of skills and trade goods; what makes them different from us? I also looked at ways for an evolved sentient species to cope with the problem that comes from having aggressive young males within a community that is matriarchal by nature.


sumaan

The Sumaan

These are reptilians six feet tall with long tails and long, mobile necks. Because they come from a heavier gravity world than the other three species, the Chemerians don’t see them as a threat to the lighter gravity worlds they inhabit. They are the mercenaries of the Alliance and are known as much for their dependability as their tendency toward heavy-handedness when policing activities within the Alliance. If it’s known the Sumaan are going to be involved in a dispute, everyone thinks twice before continuing!


The Keissians

The Human inhabitants of Earth’s first colony who were invaded by the Valtegans. The Keissians may well become the first Human members of the Alliance. Meanwhile, the Terrans from Earth are likely to remain junior members for some time.

The Sholan Alliance has several member species who till now have not been physically seen. Thanks to Mike Gilbert, who does such wonderful work with my maps, I have a series of sketches of them.


chemer

The Chemerians

They are an aboreal, somewhat paranoid species. They’re small in stature with large ears and eyes. Being light gravity worlders with feet equipped for gripping branches, they need assisted locomotion when off their world. From their position of paranoia, they see the Sholans as potential rivals for the worlds they wish to exploit and colonise. In fact, when they first met three hundred years ago, a series of wars erupted between the two species. This lasted some fifty or so years. So when they met the Sumaan two hundred years ago, they hired them as mercenaries and personal bodyguards for those of their species brave enough to venture into space. They also funded the production of Sumaan craft or leased Chemerian vessels to them – at vast profit to themselves, of course – and brought them into space to counter the presence of the Sholans.


touibans

The Touibans

They are about four feet tall and travel in a swarm of six males. They talk in high, trilling voices as well as communicating by scents. They live at a faster rate than us so watching them move tends to give one motion sickness. They love bright, garish colours and adorn themselves with an abundance of gold jewellery. I rather like them.


cabbar

The Cabbarans

A new species, glimpsed briefly in RAZOR’S EDGE, the Cabbarans are quadrupedal vegetarians with a knack for Jump navigation and Cabbaraforming, rather than terraforming, inhabited worlds with an eco problem of the nature that Jalna has. As navigators they work in septs of four with the U’Churians, to whom they become equally indentured as family. Both sides view the working relationship very seriously. They identify their Family, Rank and Profession by the colored tattoos on their bodies. The top lip is long, almost prehensile, they have forward facing eyes, pale, sandy coloured body hair with a stiff crest of dark hair running the length of the head and down the spine and across the shoulders and flanks. And they can be bribed with candy – by family members!


primes

The Valtegans

And of course, we have for the first time, the Valtegans. The one at the bottom is actually General Kezule, but the priest J’koshuk and the crew of M’ezozakk’s ship would have all looked like this.

Those of you who have read Dark Nadir will recognize the other two at the top.


Romas Kukalis’ excellent cover for RAZOR’S EDGE shows Kusac, Kaid and T’Chebbi disguised as black long-pelted U’Churians, and in the background you have the Sumaan.


Shades of Gray Excerpt by on

CHAPTER 1

The Tushuu, Zhal-Arema, Month of Love 2nd day (March)

A warning tone, followed by a burst of complex trilling speech through the conference suite’s comm, took Kaid’s attention away from the scaled holo image of the City of Light they were studying.

Toueesut, leader of the Touibans quartered on Kusac’s estate, frowned, his mobile eyebrows meeting over his deep set eyes in a single bushy line. He replied in what for him was a terse, and short, burst of the same sing-song language before looking around them, his expression grim.

“We must go. The Prime Prince and the children are causing a serious incident on the emergency bridge.”

The Sholan’s ears flicked back into invisibility. “What?” Kaid asked incredulously as he got hurriedly to his feet. “There must be some mistake.”

“None. We must go there instantly and resolve it.”

“What’s he doing there in the first place?” demanded Carrie, the only Human present, as she followed them out into the corridor. “And why has he taken the cubs with him? How did he even know where it was?”

“We will have to be asking him, Carrie,” said the small alien, looking up at her. “It seems they have been using their mental powers on our soldiers to gain access, and to guard themselves from interference.”

“I’ll be tanning some hides tonight,” said Garras grimly, pacing along beside them as the other Sholans followed. “A warship is no place for childish pranks; Prince Zsurtul should know this. And where’s youngling, Valden? And Tanjo? He’s their tutor, they should be with him!”

“I sent Tanjo to rest. He was up half the night with the cubs because they ate too many cookies,” said Carrie. “I should have known better than to leave Valden in charge of them!”

Toueesut stopped at an elevator. “This is no prank. Prince Zsurtul has routed communications there from the main bridge and is transmitting a message even as we speak.”

Kaid could feel every hair across his shoulders and down his spine start to prickle in dread as his ears, which had raised themselves to their usual upright position, sank again.

“I can’t reach any of them mentally,” said Carrie as the elevator door slid open. “They’ve totally blanked the area. It’s as if there were psi dampers there.”

“Once a Valtegan, always a Valtegan,” muttered Rezac as they piled in. “He’s reverting to type now he’s their Emperor elect.”

“No!” said Carrie sharply. “He’s a Prime, you know that. There has to be a rational explanation for this.”

“By Vartra’s bones, there had better be,” swore Kaid as they surged downward into the bowels of the Touiban battleship. His blood ran cold at the thought that they’d been harboring a snake in their midst all these months.

He hasn’t turned on us, Tallinu, you know he hasn’t, Carrie sent to Kaid as she rested her hand reassuringly on his arm.

I hope you’re right, because if he and they combined can bring the Tooshu to her knees like this, the Gods alone know how we’re going to stop them!


Armed and armored Touibans, their mustaches bristling, waited to escort them past the obviously hastily erected force field bunkers at every corridor junction and iris. As they walked, Toueesut conversed rapidly in his trilling voice with their escort. They rounded a corner and came face to face with a group of four unarmored Touibans standing with weapons drawn. Their escort halted.

“They’ll let no one pass beyond here,” said Toueesut.

“This is ridiculous,” said Garras angrily. “How dare that young krolla involve our cubs like this!” As he started forward, Carrie grabbed his arm and held him back.

“There has to be a good reason for this because he’s involved the cubs,” she said, looking at them all one by one. “Before anyone gets hurt, we have to think this through.”

“You may enter,” said a voice from behind her in very badly pronounced Sholan.

Swinging round, she faced the four impassive Touibans. “Just me?” They’re being mentally controlled, she sent to the others.

“And Kaid.”

“Let these people go immediately,” said Kaid, tail lashing from side to side in a show of anger. “What you’re doing is wrong.”

“Soon. We must finish this first,” said the Touiban, his face blank and emotionless. “No harm is intended to anyone.”

With a low rumble of anger, Kaid, followed by Carrie, approached them. “The rest of you stay where you are,” he said over his shoulder. “That’s an order.”

Walking like a broken toy, the small alien turned and lurched alongside them until they came to a reinforced airlock. They stepped through it into an area unlike any they’d been in so far. Gone were the bright colors on walls and flooring so loved by their hosts; instead everything was a dull uniform gray. Manual fire extinguishers, as well as those in the upper walls and ceilings, were set every few feet. The place was psychically dead as a morgue, and he didn’t like it.

“They’re here,” they heard the cub Gaylla’s voice say as their escort suddenly stopped in front of a doorway and barred their way. “Are you finished yet?”

“In a minute,” Zsurtul said quietly before lapsing into a torrent of Valtegan.

Straining his ears forward, Kaid tried to make out what the Prince was saying.

Carrie shook her head helplessly when he looked at her. “It’s a different dialect, and he’s speaking too fast,” she whispered.

“I’m finished, you can release our guards and let the Lieges in now,” said Zsurtul. “Thank you for your help.”

Suddenly, the psychic null zone vanished and the guard beside them dropped his firearm and staggered against the wall.

Automatically Kaid reached out to catch him, murmuring a few comforting phrases before ordering him to rejoin his people. As he did, he sensed Zsurtul coming out of the bridge a few feet away, followed by Valden and all five of the young Sholan cubs.

“This had better be good,” Kaid snarled, letting his canines show, even as he watched the way the cubs formed a defensive circle around the young Prime, and that Zsurtul had aged almost overnight.

Valden was left facing them, his jaw set in a firm line of determination. “It’s not what you think,” he began.

“How the hell could you know what I’m thinking?” demanded Kaid.

“I asked to see the recording General Kezule sent of the usurper K’hedduk’s broadcast,” said Zsurtul. His eyes closed briefly before he continued. “When I saw the head of my father, and the others from the royal court that he’d killed, I remembered that before I left for Shola, he gave me the access codes for the Palace and the Fleet, in case . . .” He ground to a halt, his large green eyes blinking rapidly.

Against his side, Gaylla pressed herself closer to him, slipping her small furred hand into his where it hung loosely by his side.

“I had to act immediately,” he continued, his voice firming again. “Before K’hedduk got into the system and changed the codes. I salvaged enough to contact the M’zullians and tell them there had been delays in K’hedduk’s plan and not to send reinforcements for another six weeks.” His brow creased as he looked from Kaid to Carrie and back. “Six weeks will be long enough for us to retake the Palace, won’t it? Maybe I should have said two months.”

“Six weeks will be fine,” said Kaid weakly, feeling the bottom drop out of his world in shock.

“You didn’t tell them . . .” began Carrie.

Zsurtul gave her a pained look. “Carrie, I’m not a fool. I didn’t let them know who I was.”

Dhyshac wormed his way to the front of their little group. “You can see why we had to help him, Father. There was no time to argue with everyone about it. As it was, Zsurtul was just in time.”

Gathering his scattered wits, Kaid scowled at them all. “That doesn’t excuse the liberties you took. Manipulating another person’s mind is a criminal offense,” he said, deciding not to mince his words. “Valden, you know that, you should have stopped them. Our Psychic Talent gives us power, but it also gives us the need to use it responsibly, or face the consequences, and believe me, you will all face the consequences!”

“It was my idea,” said Gaylla, moving even closer to the Prince, if it were possible. “They won’t take my Talent away, will they?” Her eyes began to fill with tears. “I was very careful of my soldier. I only did it ‘cos I know it’s important to stop people being hurt.”

“Gaylla’s not to blame,” said Dhyshac, lifting his chin. “It was me who organized it. If anyone’s to be punished, it should be me.”

Kaid was hard pressed to keep his face straight as he watched the unconscious signs of his son’s anxiety — the ears lying flat against his head, and the nervous twitching of his tail — vying with his obvious attempts at bravery.

“I take full responsibility . . .” began Valden.

“Mine is the responsibility,” insisted Zsurtul, speaking over the top of the young male.

“I’ll take all that into consideration,” Kaid said roughly. “No one is going to have their Talent removed, but you all have some apologizing to do, and amends to make to the Touiban soldiers, not to mention to Toueesut and the Captain of the Tooshu!”

“A week helping out preparing vegetables in the kitchens is definitely in order,” said Carrie sternly, pointing in the direction they’d come. “Go there right now, after you’ve apologized!”

“Yes, Liegena,” the cubs mumbled, beginning to sidle abjectly past her.

Kaid kept his eyes on Zsurtul, gauging him carefully with his mind as well as his other senses, waiting to see what he’d do next, but the Prince remained silent, standing with his back straight, offering no excuses, and no more explanations. He met Kaid’s eyes, even though his normally sand-tinted green skin was paler than usual.

“Apart from buying us some much-needed time, what else were you able to achieve?” he asked quietly.

“I changed the main offworld comm frequency,” Zsurtul said. “The M’zullians and K’hedduk will be unable to reach each other on the old one. Their messages will come directly here for us to intercept.”

“Does that includes the fleet orbiting round K’oish’ik?”

Zsurtul shook his head. “No, I left that alone so as not to arouse suspicion, but I changed the codes so even if K’hedduk discovers them, he can’t access them. I could do nothing about the City or Palace defenses, he’d already changed those codes, but we do have control over the internal systems like power, water, and communications within the Palace.”

“We have?” Kaid began to smile. “Won’t K’hedduk suspect someone’s been tampering?”

“No. He’ll assume my father changed the codes before . . .” His voice broke on his final word.

“He’ll assume your father forgot to pass on the new codes,” Kaid finished for him.

“I should go and apologize now,” he said quietly. “It isn’t fair that the cubs should face the Touibans’ anger alone.”

Kaid stood aside for him to pass, calling out to him just before he rounded the corner.

“Next time, Prince Zsurtul, please have the courtesy to let us know what you plan to do beforehand. When you’re finished, I’ll expect you to join us in the conference room for a full debriefing. It’s time you became part of the planning team.”

“He did good, even if he went about it the wrong way,” said Carrie, putting her arm through Kaid’s as they began to walk back to Toueesut. “Six weeks! I can’t believe he managed to talk both sides into that!”

“He did do good,” Kaid agreed. “He’s not a child anymore. I have a feeling his mother has more Warrior caste ancestry in her than anyone reckoned for.”

“I think his father knew that. Why else would he want his son trained by us? If we can know our genetic match and form a Leska Link with them, who’s to know the Primes can’t tell theirs?”

“The Primes aren’t telepathic, Carrie.”

When she replied with a small grunt, he said again, “They aren’t telepathic.”

Toueesut came forward. “I think perhaps you may be wrong about the Prince. Sensing what was going on I was through the harmonics we use and to me it is obvious that he has sensitivity, perhaps even he is empathic like many of your Brothers and Sisters. Long have I been thinking this and now I feel I am right.”

“Empathic?” echoed Carrie. “That’s not possible . . . is it?”

“Who knows?” said Toueesut, spreading his calloused hands. “These Primes are the Intellectual caste, more intelligent than others, it is possible it may have developed over time. I will make peace with my Captain over this. A feeling I have the young Prince felt compelled to act now. Among us are a very few who have sensings of future events . . .” Toueesut shrugged expressively and left the rest unsaid.

“He’s lived with us, worked with us. If he had any psi abilities, surely we’d have sensed them by now,” said Carrie, her tone now doubtful

“Perhaps you’re right,” said Kaid. “We didn’t even guess about Toueesut and his people. Maybe whatever he has doesn’t work the same way our abilities do, perhaps it’s more like the Touiban’s. He did say he’d a bad feeling about returning home when he asked to stay on with us.”

“Well, there’s one way to find out. Test him,” said Carrie.

“No. He’s going through enough right now.”

“We need to know,” Carrie insisted.

“Ask the little ones,” suggested Toueesut as they all began to move down the corridor again. “If anyone knows, they will.”


Kij’ik, Command level Briefing room

“Is he purposely keeping me waiting?”

Kezule glanced away from the Brotherhood logo on his comm screen toward the black-pelted Sholan sprawled uncomfortably on the sofa on the other side of his office.

“No,” said Kusac, wincing visibly as he sat up. “Master Rhyaz doesn’t stay in his office all day, he’s usually out and about with the students. He is the leader of the Warrior side of our Order. They’ll have to page him for you. You do realize he was in charge of interrogating you when you were on Shola, don’t you?”

“I haven’t a problem with that. Maybe he’ll be conveniently unavailable,” grunted the Valtegan, checking the screen yet again. Already he wasn’t enjoying this novel experience of asking for help, but he intended to retain the initiative.

“He’ll answer you personally. Whatever else he is, Rhyaz is no moral coward.”

Something in the other’s tone made Kezule look back at him. There was obviously unfinished business between Kusac and this Brotherhood Leader.

“You should still be in the sick bay, or at least resting in your quarters,” he said abruptly, the skin around his eyes creasing as he frowned. “My wife Zayshul said Dzaou had sliced up your side and arms pretty well, and I know your injured leg took a pounding in that fight.”

“I’m fine,” Kusac replied, his mobile upright ears flicking in what Kezule recognized as mild annoyance. “Just beginning to stiffen up, that’s all. You know Dzaou was bucking my authority from the get go. Out fight was long overdue.”

Kezule grunted his disbelief and turned back to the comm just as the warning tone sounded for his incoming call. The screen changed to show a brown-pelted Sholan male dressed in a purple edged gray robe.

“General Kezule, I’m Commander Rhyaz, Guild Master of the Warriors in the Brotherhood of Vartra. My colleague L’Seuli, Leader of our Haven Outpost, said you’d be contacting me.”

“We’ve met,” said Kezule shortly, eyes narrowing as he remembered the male who’d been one of his more aggressive interrogators when he’d been a prisoner on Shola.

“So we have. You have a hard head, as I remember. I broke one of my fingers on it.”

“Did you now?” The corners of Kezule’s wide mouth twitched slightly in an involuntary smile. Kusac was right, Rhyaz was meeting him head-on, with no apologies. “Maybe there’s some justice in the universe after all,” he murmured sotto voce.

“I’m told this new emperor is K’hedduk, leader of the Directorate,” said Rhyaz, ignoring the comment.

“He’s also the younger brother of the M’zullian Emperor. It’s imperative he’s removed from the Throne of Light as soon as possible,” said Kezule, “before reinforcements arrive.”

“Surely he’s preempting his own ruler? Won’t that destabilize M’zull — and be to our advantage?” said Rhyaz blandly.

“I’m aware of his intercepted messages to his generals, Commander,” said Kezule. “We both know that by now there’s likely been a coup on M’zull. By taking the throne, K’hedduk has reunified two of the remaining three worlds — and he believes Ch’almuth is a ripe fruit waiting for him to pluck at his leisure. We must take back the Palace, and put Prince — Emperor Zsurtul,” he corrected himself, “on his rightful throne.”

Rhyaz glanced at some print-outs beside him. “That shouldn’t be too difficult, Kezule, looking at the data you sent us on the Palace. It isn’t that large, only about the size of Ranz, if you include the City around it. If we can get our destroyer in close enough . . .”

“The Palace cannot be destroyed,” Kezule interrupted. “Both it and the throne have a deeply religious significance to us. Unless he’s crowned on it, Zsurtul will never be accepted by the Primes as Emperor. Then there’s the civilian population . . . I want as little collateral damage as possible.”

He watched Rhyaz raise an eyeridge, but the Sholan Commander said nothing.

“We’re looking at a combined air and land assault, Rhyaz,” he continued, using the Brotherhood Warrior Leader’s name for the first time.

“That complicate matters. We need to get past the craft guarding your world, K’oish’ik. When we do, our ship does have drop capabilities, and ancillary fighters. I’ll contact Commander L’Seuli and we’ll draft a battle plan. You can liaise with him when he rendezvouses with you.”

“I think you misunderstand me, Commander.” Kezule forced himself to keep his voice soft. “While I’m willing to consider your suggestions, I’ll be leading this mission jointly with Captain Aldatan. Your warriors will be assisting us.”

Again Rhyaz raised his eye ridge. “Able though the Captain is, he’s hardly an appropriate choice. He lacks . . .”

“He knows my Primes,” interrupted Kezule. “He’s worked with them here for these past five months — they trust each other. With respect, they don’t know any other Sholans apart from him and his crew.”

The Sholan pursued his point. “Captain Aldatan lacks the necessary experience and seniority . . .”

“It’s not negotiable — if your Brotherhood wants first choice of more Prime technology,” he interrupted bluntly. “Frankly, I didn’t expect you to be so hypocritical, considering the circumstances surrounding Kusac’s departure for here.”

Rhyaz regarded him silently, but Kezule could see the traces of the other’s anger by the slight narrowing of his eyes, and in the way his ears flared fractionally. He hadn’t liked that — or expected it. Good, he might need the help Rhyaz could provide, but he’d be damned if he’d let him think he was taking over this mission.

“Very well,” Rhyaz agreed, his tone icy. “However, I can only speak for the Brotherhood, not for Shola, or the Alliance.”

“Understood. I need our Emperor elect brought here to my outpost, Kij’ik. He’ll be safe here with my family until we’ve retaken K’oish’ik.”

“That’s beyond my ability to do. We don’t have access to the Prince . . . Emperor Zsurtul.”

“Then I suggest you get it,” said Kezule sharply, leaning forward. “His place is with his people. He cannot be crowned anywhere but on K’oish’ik, I thought I made that clear.”

“It’s out of my hands, General,” said Rhyaz, his slight smile ironic. “The last I heard about him, your Emperor was staying on Captain Aldatan’s estate. It’s likely Governor Nesul has requested that he be relocated in secure quarters at the Palace.”

“If you believe I’ll tolerate him being held to ransom,” began Kezule, his crest rising in anger. . . .

“I don’t, and neither would we,” interrupted Rhyaz coldly. “In that unlikely event, I assure you, he’ll be liberated by our personnel.”

Kezule searched the Sholan face on the comm screen, then took a deep breath. “I hope you understand that Zsurtul is all that stands between me and a job I swore not to take. I left K’oish’ik for that reason,” he said softly. “Zsurtul is in no danger from me. I’ll only stay long enough to see him crowned and surrounded by trustworthy advisors, then I plan to return here to Kij’ik.”

“I believe you,” said Rhyaz, surprising him. “However, it may be necessary for you to remain with the young Emperor during the inevitable M’zullian crisis. As you no doubt know, all Primes are too light in color to be able to negotiate with the M’zullians. Only you have the same skin tones as them and can therefore be seen as an equal.”

Kezule frowned. He didn’t want to remain tied to the Court for a moment longer that it took to get Zsurtul onto the throne. “We’ll see,” he said abruptly. “If we didn’t need their bloodlines, I’d advise the Alliance to destroy M’zull and everyone on it.”

“Genocide isn’t an option, General,” said Rhyaz. “No matter how tempting, even if we had the means.”

Kezule grunted — he’d expected no other answer from the Sholan. They didn’t have the stomach for such drastic solutions.

“Tell him to send the MUTAC,” said Kusac suddenly, keeping his voice low enough so only Kezule could hear him.

Without batting an eye, Kezule said, “Send the MUTAC, Rhyaz. It’s essential to our plan.”

Rhyaz’ expression froze momentarily. “So Captain Aldatan is beside you,” he said softly. “Then he should have told you we considered it a failed experiment.”

“Nevertheless, send it,” repeated Kezule, keeping his eyes fixed on the Commander.

Rhyaz shrugged. “If you wish, though it will do you little good.”

“How long until your people arrive here?”

“Kaid Tallinu and his team should be with you in three days, Commander L’Seuli and our destroyer in six, since they have to come from out Haven outpost. As I said, as well as thirty fighters, it carries five hundred drop pods for our armored Brothers and Sisters acting as ground forces.”

“That should be more than enough. The Palace isn’t that large, and by our reckoning, K’hedduk has just under three hundred and fifty people capable of fighting. The City and the rest of K’oish’ik can be discounted — it’s in an advanced state of urban decay.”

Rhyaz gave him a measured look, and choosing his words with obvious care, said, “It would be a tragedy if the Intellectual caste was lost to your species’ gene pool, Kezule.”

“What do you think I’ve been doing on Kij’ik, with Captain Aldatan’s help,” said Kezule shortly, reaching out to disconnect the call. “I’ll see your Commander L’Seuli in six days.”


Kusac waited until Kezule leaned back in his chair before speaking. “The MUTAC is a multi-terrain attack carrier. It carries only a pilot, but has a very basic cargo area that would hold one injured person.”

“Rhyaz said it was a failed experiment.”

He spread his hands expressively, wondering what had prompted him to ask for it. “Depends on your point of view. It will look terrifying when it bounds into a battle.”

“Bounds?”

“It’s shaped like us, but walks — or runs — on all fours. It has jets on each leg and can be used in a HALO drop. Armaments are explosive and guided missiles, and a top mounted beam weapon. It’s capable of standing upright and using its clawed feet to pull down structures. All in all, it’s a useful piece of hardware, designed more for back up and inspiring terror than heavy fighting.”

“How many of these have you?” asked Kezule, obviously intensely interested.

“Only the one, it’s a Brotherhood prototype made when I was staying at Stronghold. It proved to be somewhat difficult to control with the levers and gears used to operate it.”

“Then why . . .”

“For the look of it, Kezule, and the thought that maybe, since we know Kaid is with the Touibans, they may be able to find a way to adapt it for us. Forget that for the moment, we can’t wait six days for Rhyaz to get here. K’hedduk’s been in power now for nearly two weeks. Every day that passes he’s digging himself in deeper.”

“I know, but we have no choice. We don’t have nearly enough people to mount an assault ourselves.”

“We can, with the right plan.”

“I’m calling a briefing in an hour, in the room across the corridor. We’ll discuss plans then,” said Kezule tiredly.

“You’ve met L’Seuli too,” said Kusac, getting stiffly to his feet.

Kezule glanced over at him again.

“During your captivity, he acted out the reasonable soldier routine when they thought you were cooperating,” Kusac elaborated. “And head of the Sholan Forces is General Raiban — she took you into custody at the edges of the desert when we brought you forward in time.”

A hiss of anger greeted his disclosure.

“You were an extremely high level captive then, Kezule,” he said with an almost feral grin of amusement.

“Stop trying to manipulate me, Kusac, you’ve made your point,” the Valtegan said. “I have no option but to ask for Sholan help.”

“The Brotherhood’s, yes. Shola’s — no. Don’t ask for military help. Call Shola, but ask for aid from the Alliance in rebuilding K’oish’ik. You’ll need it when you realize your social engineering program can only be realistically continued on your homeworld.”

“K’oish’ik isn’t my homeworld,” Kezule snapped. “I was hatched on an outpost world. Stop reading my mind, Kusac!”

“I’m not,” he said mildly, leaning against the sofa for support. His body ached now the analgesics Zayshul had given him after his fight with Dzaou were beginning to wear off. “It’s obvious Zsurtul needs more than just a city, no matter how holy, to sustain him and his people. That world needs rebuilding, and you have an excellent beginning here. You’ve known all along that at some point you’d have to leave here for a planet.”

“One day,” Kezule admitted grudgingly.

“Dare to be truly different from the rest of your caste, Kezule, and give your people a positive legacy,” said Kusac softly.

Kezule stared unblinkingly at him for the space of several heart beats before looking away. “Will I have to speak to this Raiban female when I call Shola?” he asked instead.

“No, you’ll be put through to one of the Governor’s aides, then to Nesul himself. General Raiban takes her orders from the ruling council of Shola and of the Alliance. We’re not ruled by the military, thank Vartra! I need to speak to my son now, Kezule. I’ll see you at the briefing in an hour,” he said, pushing himself upright and limping toward the door.

“Bring Lieutenant Banner with you,” Kezule called out after him as he stepped out into the corridor.


Kusac’s quarters

“We need to have a serious talk, Shaidan,” Kusac said, shivering slightly as he ushered his son into the lounge area of his quarters. He checked the thermostat, surprised to find it at the usual temperature: he hoped he wasn’t developing a fever. “Would you like a drink? A fruit juice or something hot?” he asked, before heading for the dispensing unit by the meal bar.

“A keffa, please,” the cub said, trotting over to the sofa and easy chairs. “Is something wrong, Father? I can’t sense your mind at all.”

“I’m just marshaling my thoughts,” he said, grabbing two mugs and sticking one on the dispenser pad. He programmed in a coffee for himself and a keffa for his son.

Behind his strong mental shielding, as he was now, he could only just sense Shaidan’s mind. “It’s not been easy for you, I know. From the beginning, you were thrust into the midst of an adult world. Just how much you’ve been aware of, I’m not completely sure, but it’s time you learned some of the truths and reasons behind what’s been happening around you.”

He found his son’s silence unnerving. Picking up the two mugs, he went over to join him.

Shaidan was sitting curled up in one of the easy chairs, his posture one of confusion and self protection. Kusac sighed. As usual, he wasn’t handling this well, he realized as he placed the mugs on the low table and took a seat on the sofa opposite him. He lowered his shielding slightly in an effort to get closer to his son.

Head now bowed, Shaidan seemed to shrink even further into the chair, his tail tip twitching erratically in obvious distress.

“You’re going to send me away as soon as they arrive, aren’t you?” the cub said finally, looking up, his eyes glinting with unshed tears.

“Absolutely not!” he said firmly, holding his hand out in invitation to the cub. “You’re my son, you’ll stay with me until I can take you home myself.”

Shaidan blinked furiously, obviously determined not to cry. “You promise you won’t make me go with strangers?”

“I swear it. Come here,” he urged, reaching his hand out further toward him, remembering that though his son was physically ten years old, he’d been ‘born’ less than a year ago as a result of the Directorate’s illegal genetic experiments. “I swear that while I still draw breath, you will never be sent to strangers.”

Shaidan slid off his chair and taking his father’s hand, allowed himself to be pulled up beside him on the sofa. “Then why are you so worried?” he asked.

“I’ve some difficult things to tell you,” Kusac said, bracing himself mentally as he tucked his arm around his son. “You’ve been told about how the Directorate created you, but they didn’t just steal genetic material from myself and . . . Carrie,” he began, wishing it wasn’t still so difficult to talk about her. “They also stole from Doctor Zayshul and combined it with ours to make you. As well as being a Human/Sholan hybrid like your sisters, you’re also a very little part Prime.”

“Why?” Shaidan asked after a small silence. “Why would they want me to be part Prime?”

“I don’t know,” he said, raising his hand to gently stroke his son’s head. “Don’t worry,” he reassured him. “It won’t make you look any different from how you do now. But like your hybrid genes, the Prime ones will be passed on to your own cubs one day. Doctor Zayshul is working on finding out how else it may affect you, and as soon as she knows, she’ll tell us.” He hesitated. “There’s something else you should know . . .”

“About you and the Doctor?” asked Shaidan, burrowing closer to his side. “The other Sholan told me, but I could smell the scent marker anyway.”

“The Sholan in gray?” Kusac asked, trying to keep the sharpness out of his voice. “Do you know his name? Was it Vartra?” He’d long suspected it was Him, the Sholan Warrior Entity of Peace.

Shaidan nodded, snuggling even closer to him and wrapping an arm across his lap. “That’s what he said he was called. He said he couldn’t come to you any more, so he came to me instead.”

He filed the information away for later. Now he had to finish telling Shaidan about him and Zayshul. Within days, Kaid and Carrie would arrive and expect explanations he wasn’t yet ready to give. The only thing that could protect his son from all the gossip and allegations that would shortly be flying around, was the truth.

“What you don’t know is that the Doctor was forced, against her will, by the Directorate, to put the marker on me, and that it was impossible for either of us to ignore it.”

“Is that why you and she quarreled a lot?” Shaidan asked in a muffled voice. “Why did the General make you return when he knew about the marker?”

“He needed my help, Shaidan, that was more important to him than anything else.”

“He shouldn’t have made you come back by keeping me. That was wrong.”

“It was, but sometimes desperate people have to do desperate things when they need help,” he said, responding to the underlying anger in his son’s voice by gently touching the edges of his mind. “As for you being here, I wouldn’t have been able to send you home with the other cubs anyway, I’d have kept you with me so as we could get to know each other better. I want you to know that matters between the General and myself are now resolved, peacefully. We’re not exactly friends, but we are allies, on the same side now.”

He sensed the small growl of disagreement just before Shaidan uttered it.

“Pay close attention to me on this, Shaidan,” he said, putting his hand under his cub’s chin and lifting it so they were face to face. “You will be polite to him at all times, is that understood?”

“But he punished you — let you die!” the cub exclaimed, outraged, as he struggled to sit up.

“Shaidan! That’s enough,” he said firmly, tightening his arm round him. “You’ve no idea how sorry I am that because of your telepathic abilities, you’ve been exposed to adult matters, but it happened, and it’s over now. Trust me, you haven’t the experience yet to judge the rights and wrongs of the situation.”

The cub muttered something so low he couldn’t catch the words.

“Do understand me, Shaidan?” he demanded, taking hold of his son’s mutinous chin again.

“I understand you, Father,” the cub mumbled, giving up trying to pull away from him.

“It must end now, Shaidan. Kezule and I have learned to respect each other.” He smiled briefly, letting him go to ruffle the hair between his ears. “It may be a grudging respect, but it’s real. More, we trust each other now.”

“Then why did he let you die?” the cub blurted out.

Kusac sighed, and held Shaidan close again, pulling him onto his lap this time, wincing as the claw wounds down his side pulled. “He didn’t know that would happen. It was part of my healing process. No one realized how weak I actually was. I know you saved me, but Kezule did have the Doctor nearby on purpose. No one was expecting me to go into such a deep trance that I slipped into death.” He fell silent, resting his head on Shaidan’s.

“What was it like?”

“Unpleasant,” he said, wincing at the memory. “Full of regrets, not at all what I expected. When you reached for me, your fear triggered a response called a gestalt. That’s a special mental bond that exists only between Humans and Sholans who are mind linked. And because you and I were mentally linked, your cry for help was answered automatically by Carrie . . . and by your Triad father, Kaid. Ours is a special relationship,” he said, forcing the words out. “It only exists among the Humans and Sholans of our Clan. You’ll meet them soon . . . in three days to be exact.”

“Carrie — is she the Human?”

“Yes. She’s the one you saw in your memories, the hairless one like, but unlike, the Doctor.”

Shaidan pulled away from him and sat up, regarding him thoughtfully. “What about the Doctor?”

“That’s my private concern,” he said firmly, trying to meet his gaze steadily. “You will not to worry about that.”

The cub nodded slowly. “Can you show Carrie to me?” he asked, eyes lighting up with enthusiasm.

Opening his mouth to say no, he found himself saying, “Why not?” Leaning down, he touched his forehead to Shaidan’s and as he reached through his mental shields, began constructing the image of Carrie to project to him.

She was small, reaching barely to his shoulders — he could rest his chin on top of her head when he held her. Her long hair, the color of sunshine, was softer than any hair he’d ever touched before or since. Her fringe usually covered her eyebrows, and below them were dark brown eyes, ringed with amber — eyes that suddenly narrowed to the slitted pupils of a Sholan.

Sholan eyes, he heard his son think.

Yes. The night she defied her father to be with me, she changed herself briefly into a Sholan. When she changed back, her eyes remained like ours. Gods, remembering her consciously for the first time since he’d arrived here — what they’d shared, and lost together — hurt so much! And Kaid . . . It all came flooding back. Her scent, the feel of her skin, the sound of her voice, and his. Abruptly he pulled back from his son, shutting down the Link in fear the cub would pick that up too.

“You love them very much.”

“Yes,” he said, his voice low with emotion. “Yes, I do.”

He closed his eyes briefly, realizing he should have known they were so inextricably bound into his life that he’d be unable to separate them for his son. It was several minutes before he was able to continue.

“So among special people, Shaidan, you’re even more special. At the moment only the Doctor and we know about this. For now, I don’t want you to mention this to anyone. I intend to tell the others myself, in person.”

“Do we have to? I’d sooner no one else knew,” Shaidan said very quietly.

“Yes, we do. There’s nothing shameful about your heritage. Doctor Zayshul is a brave female — she’s saved my life several times, and at great risk to herself. Be proud of what as well as who you are. I am.”

“Are you?” Shaidan searched his father’s face, his voice as troubled as his expression.

“Of course I am! When I think of how you fought against the Directorate programming, and had the courage to Link to me when I had died . . . It was a shock when I first found out about you, but no more than it was for you, I’m sure,” he said, leaning forward to touch the tip of his tongue to his son’s nose in an intimate, loving gesture. “You are my son, I love you, and you belong with me and your family.”

He watched the tension drop away from Shaidan as the cub relaxed, finally, against him.

“I wasn’t brave at all, I was so scared of losing you, that’s why I did what Vartra told me to do.”

“True bravery is being scared and doing it anyway,” he said. “And I’m sorry but it’s going to be a bit longer before we can leave here and go home. Do you know about the new Emperor on the Prime world?”

“It’s all they’re talking and thinking about now.”

“Not all Valtegans are like the Primes. There are those called the M’zullians, who look like Kezule, but are extremely aggressive and warlike. The new Emperor is from their world, and Kezule and I have to lead his people, with help from the Sholan Brotherhood that my crew and I belong to, to retake the throne for the rightful Emperor, Prince Zsurtul. Don’t worry too much,” he said quickly, feeling Shaidan stiffen again. “It won’t be a long mission and you’ll be in no danger. You’ll stay here with Doctor Zayshul and the General’s daughter.”

“What if something happens to you?”

“It won’t.”

“You don’t know that.”

“No, I don’t, but it’s my job, Shaidan. It’s what we all do in the Brotherhood. Banner and I have to go to a briefing, so M’kou will be coming for you shortly. If it goes on too late, Jayza will collect you from the nursery and wait here with you until I return.”

“Have we time for a game of squares first?”

He checked his wrist comm. “Just about. Go fetch the pieces.”

They’d almost finished when M’kou, chief among Kezule’s many laboratory bred sons and daughters, arrived to take Shaidan down to join the other children.


M’kou picked his moment carefully, waiting until he and Shaidan were alone in the elevator before asking the question that had puzzled him for days.

“Shaidan, the day after your father was shot, when you and I were alone in the medic’s room, what happened?”

Startled, the cub looked up at him. “Excuse me?”

“I saw something . . . a dark shape, like a shadow, pick you up.”

Shaidan looked down at the floor. “I was scared for my father,” he mumbled. “I don’t remember.”

“Something, or someone, picked you up, I’m sure of it. You even spoke to it,” M’kou insisted gently.

“I don’t remember.” The words were more distinct this time.

“There must be something you remember,” said M’kou persuasively.

The cub looked up again. “I felt my father dying. I followed his mind, and helped him come back, all right? It scared me a lot, and I don’t want to remember it.” The childish voice cracked, betraying that fear only too audibly. “You’ll have to ask my father about the Sholan — he knows him.”

M’kou was instantly contrite, reaching out to put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Shaidan. You can understand I had problems believing what I’d seen,” he said as the elevator drew to a halt.

“I don’t know what you saw, my mind was Linked with my father’s,” said Shaidan stubbornly.

As the door began to open, the cub wriggled out from under his grasp and darting through the gap, ran on ahead of him to the nursery.

M’kou followed more slowly, wondering if what he’d seen had been a manifestation of the mental link between the child and his father, or something very different. It seemed that he’d now have to ask Kusac.


Briefing room

M’kou had just finished his presentation of up to date Intel from the Prime system when suddenly, Kusac was aware of Kaid’s presence at the edges of his mental shielding — extremely distant, to be sure, but unmistakably him. He rose to his feet so abruptly that the chair fell over behind him, drawing everyone’s eyes to him.

“Is something wrong, Captain?” asked Kezule.

“No,” he said, ignoring the fallen chair and limping toward the exit. “I need some air, that’s all.” His hand was on the opening plate just as the buzz indicating an incoming transmission sounded. As the door slid shut behind him, he heard Shezhul telling the General it was Kaid Tallinu.


Giving Kusac’s retreating back a curious glance, Kezule said, “Route it through to here, please.” Had Kusac known the call was coming, he wondered, and if so, why had he left so abruptly? He’d no more time for speculation as he turned round to face the large comm screen behind him.

After carefully polite greetings had been exchanged, Kezule introduced him to those present, pausing briefly when he came to Banner. The tan colored Sholan on the screen merely nodded his recognition.

“I’m glad you called,” Kezule said. “We have another matter that will shortly need our attention. Ch’almuth, the remaining Valtegan world, has been raided by the M’zullians every five years for breeding stock. This time, they asked for our help. Since there is no way I have the resources needed to take on M’zull, I was reluctant to do anything that would result in further action against the peaceful Ch’almuthians. We ambushed their craft when it landed, overpowered the M’zullians on board, and rigging it to look like some natural catastrophe had affected them in jump space, sent the ship back.”

Kaid raised an appreciative eye ridge. “Very resourceful,” he murmured. “However, they will return.”

“Yes. By my reckoning we have four to five weeks before they do. By then, we need to either have found a more permanent solution, or send them back knowing that the cost of returning will be too great.”

“Has Ch’almuth no defenses of its own? It seems unlikely that even the Valtegan agricultural world wouldn’t be protected.”

“They have an orbital, and it was capable of defending them, but it’s no longer in working order. It’s beyond the ability of my engineers to repair, I’m afraid. We were able to patch up their weather control system so the ground control center could communicate with it again. They also now have access to two cruisers which we found berthed there. They are operational but badly needed repairs to the weapons’ systems. They’re lending them to us for the time being.”

While he’d been speaking, Kezule noticed Kaid glance off to the side, one ear swiveling in that direction before it flicked in agreement.

“We may be able to help you,” said Kaid as a hirsute, garish being joined him in the comm screen. “This is Toueesut, of the Touibans. We’re on one of their ships right now, the Couana. As you may know, they are the Alliance tech specialists.”

“Greetings, General Kezule. A pleasure it is to be meeting with you,” the small alien trilled in his sing song voice.

Fascinated, Kezule studied him. He’d never had the opportunity to see a Touiban before. Humanoid in appearance, they had only a passing likeness to the Human males he’d seen. Dark, almost unkempt hair sprouted from the being’s head above the deeply socketed eyes, and grew beneath the flanged nose. The mustache, for such it was, resembled a hairy caterpillar it was so mobile. What he could see of his jacket was an intense blue, but it was almost completely covered in gold braid and intricate swirls of embroidery. Round his neck he wore dozens of gold chains, and his hands, when they came into view, were equally laden with rings in the same metal. This was the species Kusac had mentioned. How had he known Kaid was with them?

He realized that the Touiban had been speaking again and tore his attention back to what the small alien was saying.

“I do apologize,” he began, feeling the blood rushing to his face in embarrassment before he could stop it.

“No matter, General, I was merely saying that we can be dispatching a small team to your Ch’almuth world to work on both the orbital and the ships,” said Toueesut with a large smile. “Hoping I am that my people are far more closely linked to yourself and the Prime world in the future.”

“Thank you,” he said. “The ships, however, arrived here a few hours ago.”

“Then we will be working on them here, it’s no matter to us. I will leave you now to continue your discussion with friend Kaid. When we arrive, we will be needing one or two of your people to come with us to Ch’almuth as we would not wish to earn their distrust by arriving without faces they are recognizing.”

Taken aback by the continuous flow of words, Kezule blinked and managed a weak “Thank you,” before Toueesut disappeared.

Kaid’s grin of amusement at his discomfort over the Touiban was almost feral in its enjoyment, but he ignored it.

“I wouldn’t worry, they affect everyone that way the first time,” the Sholan said, with a purr of amusement the whole room could hear.

“Their aid will be very welcome,” said Kezule stiffly. “The Ch’almuthians, if you can get their orbital working, are capable of defending themselves with it and the two cruisers. Their early warning system is working so they do have at least one week’s notice of any ships arriving in their system.”

“You got my message on what young Zsurtul has done, didn’t you?” Kaid asked abruptly, changing the topic.

“Yes. This six weeks grace will be extremely useful — though we can’t afford to wait that long before striking. Our new Emperor is more resourceful than I expected.” Kezule emphasized the word Emperor.

“Agreed. Have you any Intel on the City of Light defenses? Plans of the system would be extremely useful.”

“I’ll have them transmitted immediately,” said Kezule. “The mission will be led by myself and Captain Aldatan jointly. I suggest that you hold your own briefing, then call me tomorrow at the same time and we can have a joint discussion.”

“I don’t think . . .”

Kezule held up his hand. “I’ve already been through this with Commander Rhyaz. He’s agreed his people will work under myself and Captain Aldatan.”

Kaid hesitated briefly. “Talking of Kusac, I don’t see him there. I’d like to talk to him.”

“The Captain stepped out of the room just before you called,” said Kezule blandly. “He’s not available right now, but I will pass on your message and ask him to contact you as soon as he can.” Seeing the other’s frown, he added, “Lieutenant Banner is here and can pass the message on to your . . .” Here he hesitated, unsure of the complex relationships between Kusac, Kaid, and Carrie. “. . . partner,” he said finally.

“I’ll tell the Captain,” Banner confirmed. “You just missed him, sir, as the General said.”

Kaid gave a brief nod of acceptance. “I’d also like the opportunity to speak to the Lieutenant privately when we’re finished here.”

“Of course. M’kou will show him to our comms room when we’re done. Meanwhile, Commander Rhyaz informed me that our Prince has been staying on your estate. I need to talk to him.”

“That’s not possible, I’m afraid,” said Kaid regretfully. “We’re unable to contact our home from the Couana.”

“I need to talk to him,” insisted Kezule. “He is the Emperor elect, he must be crowned on the Throne of Light or his ascension is meaningless to the Primes. For that, he’ll have to leave Shola and come here. Whatever you think of me, I’m probably the only advisor to his late father who’s still alive. Burn it, Kaid, if I wanted the Throne, I could have let that first coup go ahead, or just taken the damned Throne for myself now! I have more of a claim to it than either of them!”

Kaid’s eyes narrowed slightly, then he nodded once. “I’ll see what can be done,” he said.

“You Sholans were born suspicious,” Kezule muttered, sitting back in his chair. “I’m done for now, Kaid. M’kou will take the Lieutenant to the comm room, we’ll talk again at this time tomorrow. Transfer the call there, Shezhul,” he said to his daughter.


Kusac, meanwhile, had gone across the corridor to the lab beyond the sick bay to see Zayshul.

“There’s nothing wrong, is there?” she asked anxiously, turning round as he came in.

“No, I needed a break, that’s all. Kezule’s taking a call from Kaid and I’m not ready to speak to him yet,” he said, leaning against her bench.

The rainbow hued skin around her eye sockets creased. “Why?”

“Many reasons, not least that when I left, I made sure matters between us were less than friendly so he wouldn’t be tempted to follow me.”

“Surely now he’ll understand why,” she said.

He shrugged his shoulders. “We need to talk properly tonight. Can you get away?”

“Of course.” She hesitated, looking away from him, the light reflecting off her slightly textured pale green scalp. “Tell me about the knife wound you got from Dzaou during your Challenge fight,” she said, lowering her voice.

“I told you at the time, it was shallow, just a slice,” he said evasively.

“You know it wasn’t. It was a stab wound, up near your armpit. I got a better look at it than you did, because of the angle. Yet when I came to stitch it, it had almost healed. We need to talk about that.”

He gave a slight shiver, as if cold fingers were trailing down his spine, like a premonition, and suddenly knew he had to leave. “Later, then. In my suite. I’ll ask Jayza or Banner to take Shaidan for an hour or so.”

She nodded. “We should take the time together anyway because of the scent marker. I want to find out why it hasn’t been affecting you the way it did when you were away on the trip to Ch’almuth.”

Inwardly, he cursed, but reached out to touch her cheek with gentle fingertips.

“It’s still there, I’ve just gotten better at controlling it,” he said. If what he’d come to suspect in the last few hours since his fight to the death with Dzaou was true, there was no way he could tell her right now that he’d actually turned off the effects of her scent marker. One person who might know what had been done to him, and why, was K’hedduk, and now he was within reach.

The shiver swept through him again, diverting his attention. “Is it just me, or is it a little colder in here than usual?” he asked.

“I noticed it too,” she agreed, leaning forward for her comm unit. “This is Doctor Zayshul in the Command level lab. Would you check the heating in here, please? I think it may be faulty — it’s getting cold.”

“Will do, Doctor,” came Zhalmo’s voice.

“I hope everything is all right,” she said, frowning.

“I’m sure it is,” Kusac said, reaching out to smooth the skin on the top of her nose. That was where the first hint of the blues and purples that surrounded her eyes began, he found himself noticing. With a start, he drew back, mentally shaking himself. He shouldn’t be thinking like this about her! He’d damped down his response to her scent, so what was making him behave like this?

“Nothing wrong with the temperature,” Zhalmo’s voice said from the hand comm. “I’m having the engineers check it out, though, just in case.”

“Thanks,” Zayshul said, switching the palm sized unit off and putting it back on her bench.

“I have to go,” he said abruptly, shivering again as vague memories of the nightmares of frozen wastes that he’d had the last few nights returned to him. “The meeting is about to start again. I’ll be in my quarters after third meal.”

“See you then,” she agreed as he turned to leave.


Banner followed M’kou into the comm office with mixed feelings. Kaid was one of the very few people who’d earned more than his respect, he’d earned his allegiance. When he’d been asked, all those months ago, to keep an eye on Kusac during his recuperation after the ill-fated Jalna mission, his loyalties had been clear cut. Now, six months down the line serving as Kusac’s Second, they weren’t.

“Strange how easy it is to slip into habits, isn’t it, Lieutenant?” M’kou said, going over to the desk and keying the inset controls to bring the comm screen mounted on the right hand wall to life. “So many of those we follow today, both on the military and civilian side, are due to Captain Aldatan.”

Banner grunted non-committally, waiting for the General’s son to finish.

“Our people, all of them, even the Ch’almuthians, trust and respect him, you know. They like continuity. I believe continuity, especially in command, is vital.”

Now M’kou had his full attention.

“Considering what we’ve all been through,” continued the young Prime, “I believe it would be — unfortunate — if anything was said that might cast doubt on the Captain’s ability to lead the mission to retake the Palace of Light with the General.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Banner demanded, a low rumble of anger underscoring his words. “Are you threatening me?”

M’kou looked genuinely shocked. “Far from it! I’m only trying to tell you how much faith and trust we have in you and your Captain.”

“Trust! That’s an alien concept to some of you.” Banner bared his teeth in an almost silent snarl, taking a step closer to him. “I haven’t forgotten the part you played in drugging our Captain and procuring a female . . .”

“Lieutenant,” M’kou interrupted, coming out from behind the desk. “Doctor Zayshul has said more about this than you ever could. And when she was done yelling at the General and myself, she exacted a revenge on us I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.” He shuddered, obviously at the memory. “I have also apologized to your Captain and we’ve made our peace with each other.”

Taken aback at this outpouring, Banner looked skeptically at the younger male.

“What did she do?”

“That needn’t concern you,” M’kou replied, his pale green skin darkening in obvious embarrassment. “The whole incident, from start to finish, was contained. Only those directly involved — and yourselves — are aware anything happened, and none of them will ever discuss it. It’s obvious you’re about to give your report on your time here to the Captain’s family, and that it will, most likely, affect whether or not there is Sholan resistance to Captain Aldatan’s leadership. I’m only asking that he not be deprived of the position he’s earned because of his recent actions. Especially because our people trust him.”

“That’s Kezule talking.”

“No, it isn’t. I admire your Captain, Banner, and hope that one day I’ll possess the skills and self restraint he’s shown.” M’kou moved past him, indicating the desk and comm. “I’ll leave you to make your call. Please at least consider what I’ve said.”

Banner watched him leave before taking his seat. He was thinking through what M’kou had said — and what he hadn’t.


Kaid flicked an ear at him in greeting, his seemingly random slight finger movements enquiring if Banner was alone or being monitored.

“You look well,” he said.

“We’re all well, ” Banner replied, signaling he was alone, and the call wasn’t being monitored as far as he knew. “We’ve been treated like members of the crew.”


Briefing room, later

Kusac sat playing idly with his stylus, ignoring the flicking images of K’hedduk’s ascension to the Throne of Light playing once more on the large screen behind Kezule, just as he’d automatically filtered out the sounds of the voices around him for the past hour. Back and forth the same arguments had gone among the same few people, principally Banner, Security head M’zynal, Captain Zhookoh, lately escaped with his crew from K’hedduk’s take-over of K’oish’ik, and Kezule.

He was still aware of Kaid — and through him, of Carrie — holding their own briefing and planning session on the Tooshu. Unlike his present company, they’d come up with a couple of good ideas, but nothing yet that made a complete plan. He let his mind drift, adding their own pool of knowledge, taking Kaid’s ideas and expanding on them, playing with various scenarios in his mind’s eye.

Just as his eyelids began to droop, Banner dug him in the ribs with his elbow.

“Kusac!” he hissed.

With a jerk, he sat up to find all eyes on him.

“If you’re not up to this meeting, Kusac,” said Kezule, his tone one of concern, “then go back to your quarters and rest. I’m sure Banner can brief you later. It’s only been a few hours since your fight with Dzaou.”

“I’m fine,” he said shortly, deciding he’d had enough and it was time for him to speak out. He leaned forward, searching among the sheets of briefing documents they’d all been issued. “I’m just tired of sitting here listening to the same arguments. We can’t wait for the Couana to get here, we need to act now, not sit on our butts talking!”

“They’ll be here in two days,” said Banner.

“And it takes another three to reach the Prime world! Plus none of you,” he glared round the small group of Primes and Banner, “have gotten even the germ of a workable plan yet!” Grasping hold of a couple of sheets, he eased himself to his feet. “Well I have.”

Pushing his chair back, he limped round the conference table to where Kezule sat watching him intently.

“Here’s a plan, one that will work if we act now, before K’hedduk digs himself deep into the Palace and gets its antiquated defenses up and running.” He tossed the first sheet in front of the General. “That’s a schedule of shipping expected at the Prime Orbital platform in the next few days. There’s only one, the U’Churian Rryuk family merchanter due in three days. They’re Warriors, and Clan allies of ours. I can contact them and arrange a rendezvous. If I take a small team with me, once we’re on board and we’ve docked, they’ll join us in taking the Orbital. You said there’s only a small crew there, all Prime pacifists. Even if K’hedduk has sent any of his implanted guards, or the genetically modified warrior types up to supervise them, he’s only got a total of three hundred and twenty. He can’t spare more than about five, maximum. The U’Churians have a crew of seven, plus their four Cabbarans, and if I take another four with me, we can easily handle them.”

“What does that achieve?” demanded M’zynal. “What about the Kz’adul, berthed there?”

“What about her?” he asked, rounding on the young male, staggering slightly as he did so. “They’re on alert, so K’hedduk’s few warriors won’t leave her, and you know the six thousand odd crew members will run for cover if they hear a raised voice!”

“They’re not quite that bad,” murmured Kezule, hiding the ghost of a smile behind his already raised hand.

“Captain, take my seat,” said M’kou, getting to his feet and touching Kusac briefly on the arm.

Gratefully, he accepted it. “No one will be expecting us, M’zynal,” he said. “If you’ve got soporific gas canisters, we can use them. In our battle suits, we’ll be well protected.”

“Battle suits?” echoed Banner. “What battle suits? We don’t have any with us.”

“We’ve eight,” said Kusac, glancing across at him. “But they’re in my cabin, on the Venture. The Primes installed a concealed armory there with the suits and a selection of munitions. As for what taking the orbital will achieve, their weather is controlled from there, isn’t it? If I can take a couple of civilian engineers from here, they can create havoc on the world below. Meanwhile, we can contact the Kz’adul on one of the channels all ships use for unofficial ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore chat and get some of the friendlies to let us on board and point us in the direction of K’hedduk’s people.”

“Be a helluva lot easier if we had the shutdown codes,” muttered Zhookoh.

“Shutdown codes?” asked Kezule, looking across at him.

“The Emperor had codes he could use to shut down each ship in case of a coup. Leave ’em dead in the water,” explained Zhookoh. “It’s new. Ironically, we had it brought in because of K’hedduk.”

“We’d still have to deal with his genetically enhancedwarriors at some point,” said Kezule, thoughtfully stroking his chin. “The idea has good points, Kusac, but if we start tampering with the weather, K’hedduk will know something is wrong on the Orbital, even if the crew keep in regular touch.”

Kusac pushed his second sheet in front of Kezule. “That’s where the asteroid belt round one of your outer planets comes in,” he said. “I assume that like the Kz’adul, you have traction beams on your modern ships?”

“Yes, but you’re not seriously suggesting what I think, are you?” asked Kezule, sitting up to study the photograph, suddenly all attention.

“I am. Send the N’zishok and Mazzu out to collect a few thousand of them, including some larger ones. Single out those ones, put them at the front and attach remote detonation charges on them in case we need to blow them, then tow them close to K’oish’ik and let ’em go so they start heading toward it. If that doesn’t get the other three ships heading out to stop them, I don’t know what will. Meanwhile . . .”

“Meanwhile,” continued Kezule, “the small ones can’t be stopped, and as they hit the atmosphere and burn up, it gives us the cover to launch our drop pod assault! If we get the angle right, they’ll even think the Orbital has been hit, which would account for the weather fluctuations. I like it, Kusac, but if K’hedduk’s got the Palace gun turrets working, to say nothing of the force field, it could turn into bloodbath for us.”

“The HALO drop isn’t the main plan,” said Kusac, sitting back and carefully easing his injured leg out in front of him. The healing wound was beginning to ache – and itch – again. He’d taken more of a beating from the late and unlamented Dzaou than he wanted to admit, even to himself.

Kezule looked at him over the top of the photo, one eye ridge raised questioningly.

“My team is,” he said. This was where his plan differed substantially from Kaid’s. “We go down on the shuttle and infiltrate the tunnel systems, making our way along them to the main control room under the Palace. Once there, we can work from inside to turn the defenses off, or use them against K’hedduk. All your people have to do is create enough of a diversion to pull all K’hedduk’s warriors to the defense perimeter, by the force field relay towers. You’re the General, Kezule, you do what you do best — blend us all into one attack force.”

“If we fail, then the HALO team will be the main plan,” said Banner thoughtfully.

“HALO?” queried M’kou.

“High Altitude, Low Orbit insertion of troops or craft,” said Kusac.

Kezule studied the maps thoughtfully, then turned on the holo display. Instantly a 3-D image of the City and the Palace, showing every level, coalesced about six inches above the conference table.

Tapping a series of buttons set into the keypad in front of him, he rotated the image, then stilled it, decreasing the amount of details until the bare minimum of the tunnels, the underground control complex, and Palace above it remained.

“To go in without more Intel, especially now we have six weeks, would be foolish,” said M’zynal.

“We don’t have . . .” began Kusac and Kezule in unison, both stopping when they realized the other was also speaking.

As Kusac deferred to him, with the ghost of a smile, Kezule continued. “We don’t have six weeks, and we don’t need more Intel. What our young Emperor is managing to get for us is enough.” He glanced back to Kusac. “You realize that the City is built on a hill comprised of sand and limestone?”

“It’s porous, I know. How else could the tunnels have originated, or been so easily expanded to your ancestors’ purpose?”

“It also means if we create the electrical storms we need to disrupt communications between the Orbital and the ships, that those tunnels will be flooded.”

“Our battle suits can handle that,” he said confidently.

“We set traps in the tunnels,” said Zhookoh. “Some of them will still be active despite flooding.”

“Then I’ll take a couple of you with me to deactivate them,” Kusac said more calmly than he felt. He sensed Zayshul bringing analgesics for him and under his breath, began to swear, knowing she’d picked up his discomfort. Drawing attention to the pain he was still suffering was not something he wanted done right now.

“With respect, Captain,” said M’zynal, as the General’s wife entered and went over to him, wordlessly handing him a charged hypo. “I don’t think you’re yet fit to go on such a mission, let alone lead it.”

With little grace, he accepted the hypo, but stuffed it into one of his belt retainers. “I’m fit. The armor is powered anyway. It takes very little effort to move in it.” He shot the Doctor a glance that dared her to say anything, but she left without a word. “Besides, we should meet very little resistance.”

“Your plan is good,” said Kezule, turning the holo image round slowly to study it again from every angle. “I can see only one major flaw. Only Zsurtul can turn off the Orbital’s safety devices, and operate the command center. It needs to take a retinal scan from him.”

“I planned on including him with my team. He’s with Kaid, on the Touiban’s ship.”

Exclamations of disbelief, ignored by both Kezule and Kusac, rippled round the table.

“Yet you don’t want to wait for the Couana to arrive,” said Kezule.

“The Couana’s on their battleship, the Tooshu, right now. They plan to leave it at the outer limits of the Prime system. We tell them to include Prince Zsurtul, then make for K’oish’ik, not here,” he said. “They wait out of scanner range, possibly masked by one of your ships using its chameleon shielding, for a signal from us saying we’ve taken the Orbital. Meanwhile, the rest of the Prime fleet will be picking up the asteroids on their sensors, and hopefully, they’ll be moving away from the planet to intercept them.”

“That should draw at least the two smaller cruisers away from K’oish’ik,” said M’kou thoughtfully.

“Then Zsurtul contacts the Kz’adul on the private frequency I mentioned, and finds out for us what the situation there is like. It may be that the crew can isolate any of K’hedduk’s people they have on board without violence, and take back control of the ship,” said Kusac. “If not, we do it. I’m sure they can manage to conceal us docking with them. Finally, the Couana joins us on the Orbital and Zsurtul deactivates the safety features. The regular crew can then take over from him, creating massive electrical storms, and leaving him free to go downside with me.”

“If those on the Orbital or the Kz’adul are members of the implanted Palace Guard, then they can be rendered unconscious without a shot being fired,” M’kou reminded. “All we need is a remote tuned to their frequency, and we know that.”

“That’s true,” agreed Kezule. “If you have fifteen people when you land on K’oish’ik . . .”

“Too many,” interrupted Kusac. “Ten, maximum, including the Prince. Surely six of your commandos can ensure Zsurtul’s safety in a battle suit?”

“Of course.”

“Six?” Banner asked sharply. “That means no other Sholans.”

“I want you to stay with Kezule and lead one of the HALO units with the rest of our crew,” Kusac said, shifting slightly in his seat in an effort to ease the still increasing pain.

“No,” his Second said flatly. “I’m coming with you.”

Kusac locked eyes with him until the other looked away. “I’ll take Khadui with me,” he compromised. “You and Jayza will be with Kezule and our people from the Couana.”

Kezule switched off the holo image and pushing his chair back, stood up. “We’re going with this idea. It’s time for the evening meal. Take a break, discuss it amongst yourselves, and be back here in two hours to thrash out the finer details.”

As everyone began to get to their feet, Kezule held Kusac back. “Stay,” he said. “We need to talk privately. M’kou, have meals brought here for the two of us.”

“Yes, General.”


“Take the damned analgesic,” said Kezule when they were alone. “I’d be as bad as you in the same circumstances, but that doesn’t make you right.”

Kusac gave a low rumble of annoyance, but followed Kezule’s advice, pushing his tunic aside and pressing the hypo against his thigh more vigorously than he intended.

“You’re avoiding your family.”

“I’m trying to get this job done as quickly as possible,” he said, wincing. He concentrated on stowing away the empty hypo. Already he could feel the drug coursing through his system, dulling the pain from the still healing blaster wound in his upper thigh, and the cut in his side where Dzaou’s knife had stabbed him clear up to the hilt yet somehow left virtually no wound.

“The young Emperor is our only hope, Kusac,” said Kezule, changing the topic abruptly. “I won’t have him put needlessly at risk.”

“Then we’ve little chance on our own of retaking the Palace. You might as well destroy it and start again.” He heard the bite in his tone and, ears tilting slightly, opened his mouth to apologize.

“Forget it,” said Kezule, with a gesture of dismissal. “Has the analgesic cut in yet? Fighting Dzaou like that in your condition was foolish.”

“I know it was, but I had no choice,” he said, frowning as a wave of dizziness swept over him and he realized he was having to force his eyes to focus on the General.

“Destroying the Palace isn’t an option, neither is losing Zsurtul. I have no intention of ruling. I’ll stay and help him, if he wants my help, but that’s all.”

“You’ll leave Kij’ik and all you fought so hard to build?” he asked, realizing, as a false sense of warmth and well-being began to steal through him that Zayshul had laced the drug with a sedative. He sat up, trying to fight off the effects.

“Of course not!” said Kezule, offended. “I intended to convince Zsurtul to continue my plan, but on K’oish’ik. We have more than enough land to accommodate as many Ch’almuthians as want to leave their world to escape the M’zullian raids. As for Kij’ik, I’ll have it towed into the Prime system and manned as a defensive outpost.”

Kezule stopped, and leaned closer to him. “What’s wrong?” he demanded.

“Your wife put a sedative in the hypo as well as an analgesic,” he said, blinking owlishly as he grasped the arm of his chair.

Kezule swore, and reached for a drinking bowl and the jug of water nearby. “I can’t have you falling asleep on me,” he said, pouring Kusac a drink. “We need to refine that plan of yours!” He held the bowl out, helping him to hold it steady. “This is important, Kusac. What did you do when you went into that healing trance? I don’t mean your own mental disciplines, did you do anything else?”

“Like what?” he asked, taking a couple of mouthfuls then pushing the bowl aside. “That won’t help, the drug’s in my blood, not my gut!”

“You used bio-feed back, didn’t you? You obviously know about our Warrior glands because of the drug your people developed. Have you got the same kind of glands?”

“We’re not Valtegans,” he muttered, slumping back in his seat. He knew he needed to rest, but dammit, not now!

Kezule spun his chair round, and taking him by the shoulders, shook him several times.

“Concentrate, Kusac! You’ve been changed, made partly Valtegan, how I don’t know, maybe by that damned scent marker! Have you got those glands? If you have, I can tell you how to use them.”

“Yes,” he said, forcing his eyes open when his head finally stopped moving. “Yes, I have them . . .”

“Then reach inside for them, tell yourself you need to be alert, trigger the gland which produces adrenaline and . . .”

“All right,” he mumbled, reaching mentally inside himself. “I know what to do. It took me by surprise, that’s all.”

“You can’t afford to be taken by surprise,” said Kezule grimly. “You have to remember, and practice, until it becomes second nature — just as using your mental powers is.”

A surge of energy flowed through his limbs, chasing the lethargy before it, then it hit his brain. He shuddered, grasping tightly to the arms of the chair as his senses reeled. When it stopped, he found all traces of the sedative were gone. Startled, he stared at Kezule.

“That was fast even by my standards,” said Kezule dryly. “One of us should have a word with Zayshul about this incident, both about her using the sedative, and how you overcame it.”

“She’s your . . .”

“Don’t — go there,” said Kezule coldly, sitting back in his chair. “For now, we’ re all in a situation we didn’t choose — we’ll make the best of it. I would have thought you’d have sensed what she was planning.”

“She hid it, I was distracted by the pain, and I shouldn’t have been,” Kusac said, equally coldly, more annoyed with himself than her. “I won’t let it happen again.”

“Are you sure you’re fit enough to handle a mission like this?” asked Kezule, his voice returning to normal. “It’s no disgrace if you aren’t, considering your injuries.”

“They’re healing,” he said shortly. They were, and still far faster than was normal.

“I’m aware of that.”

“I have three days. By then, I’ll be more than fit to handle it. As I said, our battle suits are powered.”

“What specs?”

He turned his mind inward, looking where his and Kaid’s shared memories were stored. A moment later he had the information. “They make use of servomotors and gravity dampers to assist movement, giving us the ability to hit a top speed of thirty miles an hour for short bursts, and the ability to jump 2-3 times higher than normal. Weapons are an energy rifle and pistol, and an OC — oscillating — sword. There’s a refractive paint on the suits that renders them all but invisible in low light.”

“Sword?” Kezule looked faintly incredulous.

Kusac grinned widely, showing off the white canines against the black of his pelt. “Useful for close quarters, or when the energy packs run out. The MUTAC is similarly equipped on its jointed tail.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” he murmured. “And they’ll stand immersion in flooded tunnels?”

Kusac nodded as he got to his feet. “They come with their own air supply. One that lasts three hours. I should join the others for third meal now. Jayza will have brought Shaidan up to the mess.”

“I ordered meals to be brought here for us. You can call Jayza and get him to bring your son here, if you like.”

Kusac hesitated for a moment, then shook his head. “I appreciate the thought, but I’ve been separated from my crew for too long. They need to spend time with me. Plus I have to call the Rryuk ship now. And Kezule, I’d prefer it if you didn’t tell Kaid about this mission until after I’ve left to meet up with them.”

Kezule nodded, giving Kusac a curious glance, but said nothing.

When he’d left, Kezule called his son and cancelled the meal arrangements.

“I’ll eat with you, if you like,” M’kou offered. “I’d like a word in private with you.”

“Very well,” he said.


M’kou put his tray down on the table and lifting his father’s plate, set it in front of him.

“Thank you,” said Kezule, picking up his fork. “What was it you wanted to talk about?”

M’kou sat down in his chair and gripped the arms to move himself closer to the table. “What the . . .” he began, lifting his left hand to look at the chair arm.

Kezule glanced over, and froze, fork halfway to his mouth.

“How did that happen?” his son asked, tentatively putting his finger into one of the depressions. “They’re his fingerprints. It looks as if they’re melted into the arm.”

“I can see that,” said Kezule acerbically, putting his fork back on his plate and leaning closer. “Move your hand out of the way.”

M’kou did as he was asked and turned to examine the other chair arm, but it was unmarked. “How did that happen?”

“I have no idea,” said Kezule, probing the marks with his claw tip. “There’s been nothing hot enough to cause that in here.” The marks were deep, each one with the imprint of a claw tip just above it, as if caused by a hand gripping the arm tightly when the surface had been hot and plastic.

“Only Kusac and I have used this chair,” said M’kou, “and those don’t fit any Prime hand.”

“They’re Kusac’s, no doubt of that,” said Kezule with a sigh, sitting up. “More damned anomalies. You’ve read up on their psi abilities – have they any that could have caused this?”

“Not to my knowledge,” said M’kou, cautiously taking hold of the arm again and pulling his chair closer to the table. “But they haven’t been very forthcoming on their psi capabilities with us. And Kusac is different anyway, because he lost his original abilities. Banner told me they only returned after a surgical procedure was performed on him to restore them. Actually, it was about the Captain I wanted to talk.”

“What’s concerning you now?” Kezule asked, beginning to eat.

“Is he fit to lead a team through the tunnels?”

“Not yet, but I believe he will be in three days time.”

“I’d better accompany him to make sure.”

Kezule glared at his son. “You’ll stay here, looking after Kij’ik and the children,” he said forcefully. “Your warrior glands have been destroyed, you no longer have the ability to use bio-feed back. I’ll not have you putting yourself in danger.”

“I’m not staying here,” said M’kou stubbornly.

“It’s an order,” interrupted Kezule. “It’s not open to discussion. And have that chair stowed in my office after you’ve finished eating.”


Character Lists for Between Darkness and Light by on

Compiled by Marsha Jones.

Abbreviations

B
Cabbaran
C
Chemerian
EH
Earth Human
J
Jalnian
KH
Keissian Human
L
Leska
M
Sumaan
ML
mixed Leska
PV
Prime Valtegans
MV
M’zull Valtegans
ChV
Ch’almuth Valtegans
S
Sholan
S/H
offspring of mixed Leskas
T
Touiban
TL
TeLaxaud
U
U’Churian
V
Valtegan
anc
ancient times
f
female
m
male
t
telepath
tri
third member of Triad

A

Aizshuss (L,m) – Camarilla handler of Kzizysus
Aizshuss (L,m) – Camarilla member, friend of Shvosi
Alex (H,t,f,ML) – Leska to Rhyaz

Andy (H,m) – visiting Earth Human doctor
Annuur (C,m) – Captain of Watcher ship with Tirak and his U’Churians
Azwokkus (L,m) – probably Leader of Reformers but not stated. πŸ™‚

B

Banner (S,m) – Kusac’s crew, Second in command

C

Carrie (H,t,f,ML,tri) – Leska to Kaid now, Triad partner to Kusac and Kaid, wife of Kusac
chaiu – Valtegan local anaesthetic which when combined with laoe makes Sholans very amenable (works like Pentothal truth serum)
Chazukk (VM,m) – Leader of 16 Prime bred M’zullians on Kij’ik

Cheelar (PV,m) – kid commando captured in coup by K’hedduk
Chiozo (VP,m) – kid commando who does some catering for Kezule
Chy’tu (VP,m) – Civilian screens operator on N’zishok etc.
Conner (H,t,m) – the Merlin’s real name when he goes to the Brotherhood on Shola

D

D’haalmu (VP,m) – kid commando on Kij’ik
Dhyshac (S,t,m) – son of Kaid and Kate, dark brown color, 10 yr old
Dzaou (S,m) – Brotherhood, Kusac’s crew, was a Sleeper

Dzaka (S,t,m,L) – Kitra’s Leska, Kaid’s son
Dziou (S,t,m) – acolyte youth of Ghyan’s at the Shrine on Kusac’s estate, 17 yr old

E

Emperor Cheu’koh (PV,m) – Prime Emperor, Prince Zsurtul’s father
Empress Zsh’eungee (VP,f) – Empress of Prime world, Prince Zsurtul’s mother

Empress Kszafas (V,t,f) – Valtegan Empress in newly discovered ancient history, responsible for breeding Valtegans into 3 castes, and for creating the Empire by conquering their allies

F

Fingoh (S,m) – Sholan Ambassador on Prime world

G

Gaerat Rhasho (S,t,m) – Sholan Ambassador to London
Garras (S,m) – bonded to Vanna, Estate Manager normally
Gaylla (S,t,f) – Kate & Taynar’s daughter , slightly backward, gray color, 10 yr old
Gelshuk (PV,m) – gene altered thug of K’hedduk’s

Ghidd’ah (VP,f) – Civilian medic and personal friend to Zayshul
Ghioass – TeLaxaudin world and home to main Camarilla Council
Ghyan (S,t,m) – Priest in Vartra’s Shrine on Kusac’s estate, Second to Lijou
Giyarishis (L,m) – resident on Kij’ik, works in Hydro level and with Zayshul in med lab

H

Hkairass (L,m) – main Isolationist party TeLaxaudin on Camarilla
Htomshu (L,f) – Moderate party TeLaxaudin on Camarilla

J

J’kayuk (PV,f) – Civilian, third Court female but no longer visited by Kezule
J’korrash (PV,f) – female kid commando escapee to Kij’ik
Jay (H,m) – visiting Earth doctor on Kusac’s estate, tries to chat up Carrie

Jayza (S,m) – Brotherhood, Kusac’s crew on Kij’ik
Jo (H,f,t,ML,tri) – Leska to Rezac, in Triad with Zayshul
Jurrel (S,m) – Brotherhood sword-brother of Banner

K

K’hedduk / Kheddar (PV,m) – Head of Directorate/his undercover name – is actually the M’zullian Emperor’s brother and a M’zull/Ch’almuthian half breed
Kaid (S,t,m,ML,tri) – Leska to Carrie now, sword-brother to Kusac, Triad partner to Carrie and Kusac

Kayikule (PV,m) – a General, Kezule’s commando son left to lead the other 80 on Prime world
Keeshu (Ch,m) – Ch’almuthian youth earlier, then later becomes a new recruit to Kezule’s military cadre on Kij’ik who is leading a unit practicing just before Hydroponic level fight at end of novel

keffa – Valtegan drink (hot? Cold?) Prefer it a hot drink
Kitra (S,t,f,L) – Dzaka’s Leska, Kusac’s sister of 15
Khadui (S,m) – Brotherhood, Kusac’s crew, was a Sleeper
Khassiss (L,f) – Moderate member of Camarilla
Khayla (S,m) – Kitra and Dzaka’s infant son

Khim (S,t,m) – acolyte of Ghyan at Shrine, 13 yr old
Khioz (VP,f) – Civilian, Lab assistant to Zayshul (reddish markings)
Kho’ikk (PV,m) – captured kid commando on Prime world
Kij’ik – name of Kezule’s Outpost.
Kiosh (VP,f) – Civilian female friend of Banner

Konis (S,t,m) – Clan Lord of al telepath Clans, Kusac’s father, Head of AlRel
korra – Sholan term of endearment to a daughter
korrai – Sholan term of endearment to a son (based on the Greek word, Marsha)
Kusac (S,t,m,tri) – Our Hero with feet of clay, sword-brother of Kaid, Carrie’s husband, Triad partner to Carrie and Kaid

Kushool (VP,f) – Civilian, sensor operator for N’zishok
Kuvaa (C,t,f) – seems to be most senior Cabbaran Camarilla member we have come across so far
kyiu – Valtegan main anaesthetic for surgery
Kzizysus (T,m) – TeLaxaudin doing medicine on Kusac’s estate

L

L’Seuli (S,t,m,L) – Commander and Leader of Haven & Brotherhood Priests there, Leska to Jiosha
L’Shoh – Sholan Liege of Hell – the Judge of souls in their underworld
La’shol – Valtegan fertility Goddess (obviously an ancient goddess not used in Kezule’s time)
laalgo level – slow heart rate, mind turned inward to assess physical injuries

laoe – Valtegan strong analgesic – see above
Lazaik (PV,f) – female civilian on Kij’ik, M’kou’s partner, she scent marks him at some point
Lijou (S,t,m) – Guild Master of Priesthood, do Guild Master of Brotherhood
Lirtosh (VP,m) – Civilian leader on Kij’ik

Liyak (Ch,f) – Ch’almuthian civilian female M’kou asks to drug Kusac for Kezule, and to remove scent marker
Lorish (VP,f) – Civilian, Banner’s lady friend/briefly lover
louz – Valtegan hot herbal drink, good for headaches & shock
Lufsuh (PV,m) – second-in-command of Inquisitors

Lweeu (C,f) – Engineering and weapons – mate of Annuur’s group
Lymuh (PV,f) – Civilian on Kij’ik Outpost

M

M’kou (VP,m) – the diplomat son, very like his father Kezule would have been if less brutal upbringing
M’szudoe (PV,m) – Prime Ambassador on Shola
M’yikku (VP,m) – male kid commando escapee from coup

M’zayash (ChV,t,f) – Ch’almuthian Matriarchal leader and powerful telepath
M’zayik – ancient ship Kezule has, cruiser class – met Kusac in end of last book
M’zikk (PV,m) – Head Inquisitor on Prime world
M’zynal (VP,m) – military, kid commando Security Chief, weapons

Maaz’ih (VP,m) – military, kid commando Navigation
maush – Valtegan drink first mentioned by Zsurtul in Nadir when he’s taken by Kaid to Haven in escape
Mayza (V,f) – Kezule & Zayshul’s infant daughter
Mazzu – the escaping kid commandos’ Patrol Cruise that brought them to Kij’ik

M

Na’qui (VP,f) – Civilian, Zayshul’s medic assistant (green markings)
Naacha (C,t,m) – mystic and telepath of Annuur’s sept
Nadouk (CH,m) – Ch’almuthian recruited Security guard who shoots Kusac
Nassad (S,m) – Brotherhood leader at Anchorage Outpost

Ngingoh (VP,m) – kid commando
Nisho (PV,f) – Civilian, one of the 3 Court ladies Kezule took to the Outpost
Noni (S,t,f) – the wild-card healer and all round good, grumpy girl
Nishon (ChV,m) – male at Ch’almuth spaceport

Noolgoi (PV,m) – military, kid commando, sensors
Nyan (S,t,m) – Kusac’s main house attendant (butler)

P

passageway – a fast transport not unlike a generated wormhole between Kij’ik and Ch’almuth and we think between Ch’almuth and M’zull. Device set into space station at Ch’almuth and on Outpost, allows unit taken from Zan’droshi to be used on N’zishok for fast trip to Ch’almuth.

Q

Q’almo (VP,m) – military, kid commando, Zayshul’s bodyguard at one time, Security

R

Rhyaz (S,t,m,ML) – Guild Master of Brotherhood with Lijou, Leska to Alex
Rishu (S,f) – T’Chebbi & Kaid’s infant daughter Rezac (S,t,m,ML,tri) – originally Leska to Zayshul, now Leska to Jo, and in Triad with Zayshul, Kaid’s youthful father of 25 I think…

S

Schooma (VP,f) – Civilian computer operator on N’zishok
Shaalgo (ChV,m) – another at spaceport
Shamgar (S,m) – Brother at Prime Embassy as above
shan-Q’emgo’h – honorific Valtegan title meaning ‘of the family of’. Q’emgo’h is the name of Kezule’s Emperor and he was a relative of his. Like our surname.

Shartoh (VP,m) – military, kid commando, Engineering
Shaya (S,t,m) – acolyte of Ghyan’s at Shrine, 14 yr old
Shayal (U/S,f) – Jeran and Giyesh’s half-breed one-of daughter
Shaylor (S,t,m) – Taynar & Carrie’s cub, tan color, 10 yr old

Shekkul (PV,m) – one of K’hedduk’s gene altered thugs
Shezhul (VP,f) – military, kid commando.
Shi’Kui (S,m) – Brother attached to Sholan Embassy on Prime world – dies in coup
Shikoh (ChV,f) – Nishon’s wife

Shishu (PV,f) – Civilian, Kezule’s mistress and his main Court lady, also nursery nurse to the Prime children later
Shiya (VP,f) – kid commando, captured during coup, taken off to Kh’edduk’s harem
Shrulo (B,m) – Cabbaran acting as Kzizysus’ bodyguard on Kusac’s estate
Shumass (L,m) – Camarilla Isolationist

Shvosi (C,t,f) – handler of Annuur on Camarilla
Shyadd (PV,m) – Prime Counselor (meaning First) to Prime Emperor
Sokarr (C,m) – comms on Watcher ship, member of Annuur’s sept
Suatoo (T,f) – main female Touiban

Syppesh (U,f) – U’Churian Matriarch of the rryuk Clan and Grandmother to Giyesh

T

T’Chebbi (S,f) – Kaid’s Companion and Carrie’s bodyguard
Tanjo (S,m) – Brotherhood Instructor for Sleepers, currently looking after the 5 cubs at Haven
Throne of Light – Prime Emperor’s throne
Toueesut – Speaker of Touiban hive, owner of Couana

Tooshu – Touiban Mother warship looking like a Contact ship **may need to change that name, awful like one below**
Tuushu Station – Chemerian space station near their home world
Twuleat (T,f) – another female Touiban in the hive

V

Vanna (S,t,f,L,tri) – Doctor on Kusac’s estate, Garras’ mate, Leska to Brynne, Triad with Keeza, bonded to Garras
Vartra – God and general dogsbody for the Camarilla – for now.
Vasih (S,t,f) – Rezac & Kate’s daughter, light brown, 10 yr old
Vaygan (S,m) – Brother attached to Sholan Embassy on K’oish’ik, the Prime world

Y

Yashui (S,t,f) – nurse to Kashini & other children
Yokidi (S,m) – Brother attached to Sholan Embassy on Prime world, dies in coup

Z

Zan’droshi – Kezule’s ancient warship
Zarkil (VM,m) – one of 16 Prime M’zullians
Zaykkuh – (VP,m) – military, kid commando, Captain of N’zishok
Zh’adasho – Prime sister ship to Kz’adul, but needs to be named in last chapter

Zhaddi (S,t,m) – youth who helps in kitchen in Kusac’s villa
Zhaimiss (L,m) – Camarilla Isolationist
Zhala (S,t,f) – cook to Kusac, Carrie and Kaid in villa
Zhalmo – (VP,f) – kid commando, military, comms on Zan’droshi

Zhasho – Prime cruiser 2,000 ton, crew of 50
Zhookoh (PV,m) – Captain of Mazzu though not mentioned
Zoshur (PV,m) – Leader of gene altered Prime thugs of K’hedduk’s
Zsafar (PV,m) – kid commando escaped from Prime world coup (crew of 20 on Mazzu escaped)

Zsayal (S,t,m) – Rezac & Carrie’s cub, sandy color, 10 yr old
Zsurtul (PV,m) – Prince and Heir, called Enlightened One in ref to the throne
Zayshul (PV,t,f) – Doctor on Kij’ik and Kezule’s wife

Four ex slave races of Valtegan Empire

Hrana – 6 limbed centaurs, beaver tails, polar bear body shape, biologists who breed plants to take up metals so no need to mine them.
Mryans – Heavy set, gray leathery skins, ugly, argumentative

Vieshen – tall, thin, bird-like
Delmoi – can’t find description right now. πŸ™‚

Characters Only Mentioned

Commander Chuz (S,m) – Combined Forces Sholan High Command rep
General Naika (S,m) – Ground Troops Sholan High Command rep
Commander Rhilgo (S,m) – Space navy Sholan High Command rep
General Raiban (S,f) – Leader of Military Intelligence and of the Sholan High Command

Khyan (S,t,m) – son of Sholan Ambassador to London and new Merlin
Tirak (U,m) – Captain of Watcher ship with Annuur
Sheeowl (U,f) – Tirak’s engineer
Manesh (U,m) – Tirak’s security, I think
Ghyakulla – Sholan Earth Goddess


Character Lists for Dark Nadir by on

Compiled by Marsha Jones.

Abbreviations

B
Cabbaran
C
Chemerian
EH
Earth Human
J
Jalnian
KH
Keissian Human
L
Leska
M
Sumaan
ML
mixed Leska
PV
Prime
S
Sholan
S/H
offspring of mixed Leskas
T
Touiban
TL
TeLaxaud
U
U’Churian
V
Valtegan
anc
ancient times
f
female
m
male
t
telepath
tri
third member of Triad

A

Annuur (B, m) Head of Cabbaran navigation sept on Profit, indentured crew with Tirak.
Ashok Chazoun (S, m, t) chosen as betrothed for Kitra.
Azkuu (S, f, t) Clan Leader on Council of Seventeen Clans (telepath ruling council)

B

Banner (S, m) Brotherhood member, sword-brother and Companion to Jurrel, bodyguard to Brynne.
burn his memory – Valtegan curse as they bury the dead

C

Chaidda Kaijan (S, m, t) Clan Leader
Chisoe (S, f, t) classmate of Kitra
Chy’qui (V, m) Doctor, Head medical research on Kz’adul, and one of three Counselors to Emperor
City of Light – Palace city of the Primes
Couana – Touiban ship lent to Brotherhood

D

Def level one – U’Churian defense levels
Dzaio Kyushu (S, m, t) Clan Leader
Dzaou (S, m) Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven, tan colored

E

Emperor M’iok’kul – (V,m) M’ezozakk’s Emperor
Emperor Cheu’ko’h (V,m) Primes’ Emperor

F

Fall – Fall of Empire – Valtegan Prime name for Cataclysm they suffered because of Sholan telepaths
Falma (S, m) Konis’ aide in AlRel
Fayal (S, m) Forces soldier guarding estates, killed by feral felines.

G

Ghaysa – Noni’s name for Keeza
Ghaysa (S, f, t) classmate of Kitra
Ghyasha – lowland city where main temple Ghyakulla is

H

Haven – Brotherhood Outpost near Jalnian/Chemerian space, was once ancient Valtegans, part of their defensive network for their empire.
hive – where swarms go to breed, are in the center of their cities and no aliens allowed near them.

J

J’kirtikk – Valtegan world the M’zullians are at war with (M’ezozakk’s ship)
Jurrel (S, m,) Brotherhood member, sword-brother and Companion to Banner, bodyguard and lover to Brynne.

K

K’oish’ik -Prime homeworld
Kathan – U’Churian prophet
Kha’Qwa – Promoted to Tutor now.
Khas’ih Rhakula (S, f, t) Clan Leader
Khayle Laasoi (S, f, t) Clan Leader

Kheal (S, m,) Brotherhood member, Captain of Haven Outpost
Kholgou (S, m) Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven
Khyaz (S, m,) Dzaka’s dead son
Kz’adul – Prime destroyer which captures the Profit and M’ijikk.
Kzizysus (TL, m) Doctor of bio-engineering

L

Leohl Naekoh – Dzahai village elder
Lossa Faezou (S, f, t) Clan Leader
Lydda (S, f) Brotherhood member, aide to L’Seuli on Haven.

M

M’ikkule (V, f) mistress to Prince Zsurtul
Maikoi (S, m) Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven
maush – Valtegan herb tea, calmative effect.
mind-dead, aka brain-dead – a non-telepath or one whose Talent is destroyed.

Mistress Tokui – Head Priestess of Ghyakulla – Formerly Sister Tokui. Elderly, green eyes, high arched eyeridges, rounded ears, swept back mid-length hair, nung blossom ear studs at outer edge of ears, hair brown/black with flecks of light blond of age, wear green shades of clothing.
Mnae Kayan (S, f, t) Clan Leader

N

N’koshoh (V, f) spy
Nara (S, f) Brotherhood navigator for Striker Two, L’Seuli’s craft; pilot is Chima.
Ngio (S, m) Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven

Q

Q’ozoi (V, m) Commander of Kz’adul

R

Refuge – Brotherhood Outpost
Rhio (S, m, t) Guardian, lives in the far west
Rhy Mnyasu (S, f, t) Clan Leader
Rhyasha Aldatan (S, f, t) Clan Leader, Kusac’s mother, Konis’s wife and member of AlRel.
Rraysa (S, m) Forces soldier guarding estates

S

Sanctuary Brotherhood Guildhouse on continent of Nalgalan on Shola
sept – four Cabbarans working together.
Shayaisis (M, m) Captain of Touiban ship Couana
Sleeper – someone who has volunteered to sleep in cryo for a period of time against Shola’s need for special fighters. This has been done for 250 years now.
swarm – Touiban family unit of six males and six females.

T

T’Chaku (S, f) Brotherhood Captain of Va’Khoi
T’Chya (S, f, t) classmate of Kitra at Telepath Guild.
Taeo (S, f) Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven
taiban – U’Churian word for child

Telepath Clans – 17 of them. Chazoun, Arrazo, Kyusha, Nolguu, Kzaelan, Rhakula, Kaijan, Faezou, En’Shalla, Aldatan, Vailkoi, Rhasho, Mnyasu, Chekoi, Laasoi, Kayan, Rhaiduh.
Toueesut (T, m) Speaker for Touiban swarm working on Valsgarth estate
Tuula (S, f, t) Guardian, lives in the Ghuulgul desert

V

Va’Khoi – Brotherhood 100,000 ton destroyer, ancient Valtegan ship re-outfitted. Their flag ship.
Vaidou (S, f, t) promoted to Ghyan’s aide at the Shrine
Vartra’s gate to his realm – 2 trees, wooden door between, triple spiral on door, with blue crystal in center.
Vryal (S, m) Forces soldier guarding Aldatan and Valsgarth estates

Z

Zayshul (V, f) Doctor who was head of med research on Kz’adul till Chy’qui came.
Zhaddu (S, m) Brotherhood member, Second to Captain Kheal, left in charge of Haven Outpost.
Zhiko (S, f) Brotherhood Sleeper at Have
Zhy’edd (V, m) medical assistant to Chy’qui
Zsurtul (V, m) Prince, The Enlightened One, son of the Prime Emperor, sandy colored hide.


Character Lists for Books 1 to 4 by on

Compiled by Marsha Jones.

I’ve received a number of letters and e-mails asking for a list such as this to be included in the books. This is not, unfortunately, possible. However, Marsha and DAW have said I can make this list (compiled for me as a reference source for the series) available here. For those who don’t know, Marsha is involved in the editing process of my novels at every stage.

So for those of you who want to know exactly what a crolla is, or where demon fish live, or which major character met who where, here it is. I have edited it in an effort to not cause Spoilers to those who haven’t read the whole series.

Abbreviations

Skip

B
Cabbaran
C
Chemerian
EH
Earth Human
J
Jalnian
KH
Keissian Human
L
Leska
M
Sumaan
ML
mixed Leska
PV
Prime
S
Sholan
S/H
offspring of mixed Leskas
T
Touiban
TL
TeLaxaud
U
U’Churian
V
Valtegan
anc
ancient times
f
female
m
male
t
telepath
tri
third member of Triad

A to J | K to M | N to R | S to Z

A to J

A

Accommodation Guild – II-347, Guild that provides accommodation that are not specific to any one guild in every town.
Accommodation Guild Houses – II-378
Alan Meredith (KH, m) I- 43, two brothers – Ted and Bill.
Aldatan Clan – one of the 16 Telepath Clans, Liege is Rhyasha Aldatan, Liegen is Kusac, color black (now 17) when worn as outer robe.
Alien Relations Guild – I-204

All Guilds Council – III-53
All-Guilds Council – II-545
Allied Worlds – I-206
Allied Worlds Council – I-127
AlRel – II-7, officially accepted abbreviation for Sholan Alien Relations Guild.

Anders (KH, m) – I-201, member of Eureka’s crew, member of the guerrillas, blue eyes, curly fair hair.
Anirra (S, m) – III-344, medic serving Fyak.
Annuur (B, m) – V-7, Head of Cabbaran navigation sept on Profit, indentured crew with Tirak.
Annie (KH, f) – I-41, barmaid at Valleytown Inn.
Arnor (J, m) – IV- 452, Lord Killian’s apothecary.

Arrazo Telepath Clan – III-307
arrise – II-624, strong, intoxicating Sholan beverage, used in the days before psychic suppressant drugs were available and before Telepathy became the science it is today.
Artificers Guild – III-241
Ashok Chazoun (S, m, t) – V-134, chosen as betrothed for Kitra.
Askad (S, m, t, L) – II-8, member of Leska pair stationed on Khalossa, Leska to Rhian.

Assadou Chikoi (C, m) – IV- 543, trader.
Attitude Indoctrination sessions – II-107
aura scan – II-367
autovid – II-592, self propelling aerial video camera that follows news reporters.
Azkuu (S, f, t) – V-120, Clan Leader on Council of Seventeen Clans (telepath ruling council).

B

Banner (S, m) – V-263, Brotherhood member, sword-brother and Companion to Jurrel, bodyguard to Brynne.
Belamor (J, m) – IV- 228, mage to Lord Killian, gaunt, gray hair, olive skin, dark blue eyes.
Bill Meredith (KH, m) – I- 42, two brothers – Ted and Alan.
bio-feed – IV- 526
bio-monitor – IV- 604 monitors life signs of a patient.

bio-readings – IV- 502
bio-sensor – IV- 517 monitors life signs, can be worn or implanted.
birther – III- 571, midwife.
Blood-rite Challenge – I-132, a Challenge fight to the death, the only such in Sholan law, Telepaths are exempt from this Challenge.
Bob (EH, m) – III- 746, archeologist at Valsgarth.

bond-daughter – II-581 daughter by virtue of life-bonding contract. (daughter in law).
Bradogan (J, m) – III-25, title Lord, Port Lord.
Brotherhood – II-69, see Brotherhood of Vartra.

Brotherhood of Vartra – II-88, Sub-Guild of Warriors Guild, has two leaders: one warrior and one priest, gray uniform with red and black flash over the shoulders worn when on active duty priestly black rob worn at other times or when attached to the priestly side of the sub-Guild, achieves full Guild status after accepting the mixed Leska pairs III-?. After achieving full Guild status, the uniforms have a black stripe on the grey Active Duty jacket, and after gaining En’Shalla status, a purple stripe is added to the greys and the black robe to denote their psi abilities. The black stripe is dropped.

Brynne Stevens (EH, m, t, ML) – II-463, Leska to Vanna Kyjishi (II-536), curly dark shoulder length hair, pleasant face with close cropped mustache and beard, gray-blue eyes.
Building Guild – III-262
burn his memory – V-317, Valtegan curse as they bury the dead.

C

c’shar – I-105, Sholan hot beverage.
Cabbars – IV- 554, alien race that helped build space port on Jalna.
cadduh shells – III-353, crushed to obtain the purple dye for Telepaths.

Carrie Hamilton (KH, f, t, ML) I-7, Twin sister Elise, brother Richard, father Peter, mother died on trip to Keiss, age 23 at start of first book, hair long blond, eyes brown, acquired vertical pupils and nictating inner lids to eyes with narrow amber ring around pupil II-205, aka Liegena Carrie. life mated to Kusac II-503.

Cassandra Project – II-569, Earth project that rented out its services to help find missing persons, etc. by use of psi abilities.
Cataclysm, the – II-72 happened about 1500 years previously, nearly destroyed Sholan civilization, much was lost and virtually nothing is known about the Cataclysm or the time preceding it, caused by Valtegan warship crashing into smaller moon, explosion caused debris to shower down on Shola.

Centralnet – II-591, news network on Shola.
Chaamga (S, m) – III-735, Rrurto’s father, former Chief Elder of tribes.
Chaazu (S, m) – II-5, Sub-Commander on Khalossa, in charge of ground troops.
Chafsu (S, m) – III-257, Guild Master of Science Guild.
Chagda Point – II-515 space station above Shola. Everything on and off-world goes through it.

Chagda Station – I-238, mercantile and military space station orbiting Shola.
Chaidda Kaijan (S, m, t) – V-387, his Clan Leader.
Chaidu (S, f) – III-355, Councillor.
Chakku (S, m, anc) – III-691, one of Goran’s soldiers protecting the monastery and Vartra.
Chakuu Mining Corporation moonbase – IV- 580 moon where Jeran and co. were working.

Challa Kayal (S, f, t) – IV- 174, widow, two kitlings, mate proposed for Esken, first mate was an Aldatan telepath who was interpreter killed in accident on starship

Challenge system I-104
Changu (S, f) – II-395, AlRel student, friend of Taizia.
Chay (S, m, t) – III-228, killed by Fyak’s supporters.
Chazoun Guild – II-279
Chekoi (S, m, t) – III-351, Clan Leader of Kyushu Clan.

Cheku – II-6, Sholan battleship in fleet sent to Keiss to combat Valtegans.
Chelgo (S, m, anc) – III-709 soldier of Goran’s.
Chemer – I-130, alien race (aka Chemerians), member of Alliance, trading partners of Sholans, small, furred, arboreal, large dark eyes, semicircular ears set to either side of face, paranoid, arrogant, and timid.

Chen (S, m) – II-11, Sub-Commander, Tactics, on Khalossa.
Chena (S, f) – II-605, Vanna’s assistant.
Che’Quul (S, m,) – III-517, main house attendant on Aldatan Estate. (UnTalented).
Chertoi (S, m) – III-248, leader of Claws Pack.
Chezy – III-380, called Khezy’ipik by the Valtegans, site of their hatchery in pre Cataclysm days.

Chijuu Liokso (C, m) – III-178, owner of Summer Bounty.
Chima (S, m) – II-148, pilot, member of Brotherhood of Vartra.
Chiort (S, m) – II-236, head of Medical on Khalossa, title Consultant.
Chisoe (S, f, t) – V-74, classmate of Kitra.
Chy’qui (PV, m) V-453, Doctor, Head medical research on Kz’adul, Tall one, wore gray robe, and one of three Counselors to Emperor.

City of Light – V-446, Palace city of the Primes.
Couana – V-521, Touiban ship lent to Brotherhood.
Chiyak – III-689, ancient city, site of third temple.
Choa (S, f) – III-45, Rhyasha’s cook.
Chuz (S, m) – II-7, Chief Commander of Sholan High Command, aka Commander-in-Chief, aka President of Sholan High Command.

Chya (S, m, t) – IV- 450, youngling acolyte of Ghyan’s at Shrine.
Chyad (S, m) – II-28, leader of Sholan conspirators on Khalossa, in Engineering, killed by Kaid after attempting to murder Kusac II- 617.
Chyal (S, m) – III-321, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, Ghezu’s bodyguard.
Clan Heir – II-145, heir to a Clan.
Clan Leader – II-57, leader of a Clan.

Clan Leader Vailkoi (S, m, t) – II-355, Rala’s father.
Clan Lord – II-82, elected leader of Sixteen Combined Telepath Clans, Becomes 17 in book III.
Clans – I-103
clansmales – IV- 230, males of a clan.
Claws Pack – III-250 street gang in Ranz city in the Dzahai mountains.

Commissioner of the Protectorate – II-418 head of Sholan police force.
Communications Guild – II-56, Guild color is green.
comp pad – II-516, a hand held computer type pad.
Companion – II- ?, a publicly acknowledged lover.
Conrad (EH, m, t) – IV- 109, tall, shoulder length curly brown hair, small mustache, youthful appearance.

Consolidator of the Specialized Leska Unit – III-36, Konis Aldatan
Consortia – IV- 140, a professional, highly trained companion of either sex who is often employed as host or hostess for large functions.
Consortia Houses – IV- 163 House which trains Consortias of both sexes.
Contact Deprivation – II-75, when Leskas are separated beyond the fifth day.
Council Administrators – II-581

Council Marriage Hearing – I-62
Council of Clans – II-359
Council of the Sixteen Telepath Clans – II-429, Ruling body of Telepath Clans, becomes 17 Clans in III.
Counselors – I-87
Craft Guilds – II-378

cross-guild knowledge – II-66 Guilds normally guard closely their Guild and craft secrets.
Crossing, the – I-105, Terrans name for journey to Keiss.

D

Def level one – V-90, U’Churian defense levels.
Dzaio Kyushu (S, m, t) – V-389, Clan Leader.
Dzaou (S, m) – V-538, Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven, tan colored.
Dagla – III-271, the name of a guard tarnach at Jalna spaceport.
Daira (S, m) – IV- 153, a 9 year old orphan fostered with Ruth.

David Elliot (KH, m) – I-51, Carrie’s rejected suitor.
Davies (KH, m) – I-176, member of Eureka’s crew, member of the guerrillas.
Delta One – II-63, Sholan fighter craft lost against M’ijikk.
demon fish – IV-171, poisonous fish found off north coast, used for oil for burns, the inflated skin is used as a lantern to frighten off demons during mid-winter celebrations.
Department for Intellectual Development – III-353, Education is done by Guilds so this is a scholars Guild.

Dhaika (S, m. t) – III-368, Guardian of Vartra’s Retreat.
Dillan Powell (EH, m, t, ML) – IV-469, Leska is Nikuu.
Diplomatic Guild – III-255, Not actually a Guild but all senior members of Sholan World Council are on it, like Head of AlRel etc.
Draz (S, m) – II-6, Sub-Lieutenant on Khalossa, member of bridge crew.
Druthi (S, m) – II-591, Infonet news reporter.

Durvan (J, m) – IV- 17, steward to Lord Killian on Jalna.
Dzahai Mountains – II-337
Dzahai Stronghold – II-173, home of Brotherhood of Vartra.
Dzaka (S, m, empath) – II-54, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, lay priest on Khalossa, cub name Dzakayini, mate Nnya and cub Khyaz killed on Szurtha, gray brindled fur, green eyes, father (foster and biological) Kaid Tallinu, mother Khemu Arrazo, lover of Kitra Aldatan.

dzinea – IV- 491, heavenly males and females who come to those rewarded by Vartra, or are sent to tease the overly pious: a term of endearment used by Kaid for Carrie. Also name for all djinn-like helpers of Sholan pantheon.

Dzio (S, m, t) – IV-399, youngling acolyte at Ghyan’s shrine on Valsgarth estate.
Dzyash Liosoe (S, m) – IV-512, Forces Medic on Shanagi Project, killed by Kezule during his escape.

E

Emperor M’iok’kul – (V, m) V-316, Emperor of M’zull, M’ezozakk’s.
Emperor Cheu’ko’h (PV, m) V-532, Primes’ Emperor.
Edwards (KH, m) – I-201, member of Eureka’s crew, member of the guerrillas.
Elise Hamilton (KH, f, t) I-7, Twin sister Carrie, brother Richard, father Peter, mother died on trip to Keiss, killed by Valtegans – I-11.
energy pulse pistol – II-87

En’Shalla Challenge – II-452, must be fought by the two interested parties, result is in the hands of the gods, is to first blood only.
En’Shalla Clan – III-59
Erasmus – I-117, second Earth colony ship sent to Keiss, en route during first book.
Esken (S, m, t) – II-173, Guild Master of Telepath Guild, based in Valsgarth, title Master. Retires after heart trouble in IV.
Eureka – >I-53, human colony ship, now mostly dismantled for materials.
Exotics – IV- 143, slang for Consortia.

eye ridges – I-196

F

Fall – V-511, Fall of Empire – Valtegan Prime name for Cataclysm they suffered because of Sholan telepaths.
Falma (S, m) III-638, Konis’ aide in AlRel.
Fayal (S, m) V-408, Forces soldier guarding estates, killed by feral felines.
Faikal (S, m) – II-380, dissident on Shola.
Faisal (J, m) – IV- 617, Jalnian caravan owner.

Faithful, the – III-88, disciples of Fyak.
faka juice – III-376, is an aphrodisiac for Sholans, that suppresses the females’ ability to control conception.
Falma (S, m, m) – III-638, member of AlRel, temporarily assigned to Valsgarth archaeology team.
Farak (S, m) – III-393, sub-Commander.
Fazzu (S, m) – IV-499, physician.

Ferraki hills – III-369, site of oldest Green Goddess temple.
Fire Margins – III-50, Time and area of fire and disaster belonging to the days of the Cataclysm.
Fleet Pack – III-248, Fleet gang in Ranz.
Forestgate – III-338, Jalnian town
Fryak (S, m) – III-241, Master of Manufacturing Guild.

Fyak (S, m) – III-206, aka the Prophet, the Word of Kezule: long mane of tan hair, narrow face, wears torc with green jewel.

G

Ghaysa – (S, f, t) V-74, classmate of Kitra.
Ghaysa – V-273, Noni’s name for Keeza.
Ghyasha – V-216, lowland city where main temple of Ghyakulla is.
Galrayin – IV-586, Jalnian town, home of Lord Tarolyn.
Garras Janagu (S, m, tri) – I-94, captain of Sirroki, ex-member of Brotherhood of Vartra, former special operative hired by Telepath Guild to assess rogue talents, mate to Vanna, triad third to Vanna and Brynne, was sword-brother to Kaid (busy little fellow, wasn’t he?).

Geshader – I-7, domed Valtegan pleasure city on Keiss.
gestalt Link – II-200, first accidentally invoked by Carrie, resulting in temporary shape change for her and Kusac, permanent result to her eyes with vertical slitted pupils, nictating lids.
Ghaikkuir base – II-301, Valtegan military base on Keiss.
Ghezu (S, m) – II-69, title Leader, Sub-Guild Master, joint leader with Father Lijou of the Brotherhood of Vartra, talents-glamour and receiving.
G’hiled (S, f) – II-395, AlRel student, friend of Taizia.

Ghomig (S, m) – III-34, clan leader in Ghuulgul Desert.
Ghomig nomads – III-313-314
Ghuulgul Desert – II-531, desert region on Shola.
Ghyakulla – IV-165, aka Green Goddess.
Ghyan (S, m, t) – II-346, friend to Kusac, priest of Vartra in temple in Valsgarth, tall, brown eyes, wide cheekbones, ears smaller than average but wide, moves to Valsgarth Estate as priest/teacher.

Giyesh (U, f) – IV-589, comms operator of the Profit.
Goddess of Shola – III-351, aka Green Goddess, aka Ghyakulla.
God-King – IV-502, title of Valtegan Emperor.
God-Vision – II-55, vision sent by a God.
Goran (S, m, anc) – III-407, was a soldier before Valtagans

Grade – I-107, Sholan professional ranking system.
Green Goddess – II-447, Mother of the World, looks after the creatures of nature and after cubs.
Green Goddess Inn – II-393
Green Seeds of New Regret – III-423, name in ancient Telepath Guild records for la’quo stones.
Greg (EH, m) – III-602, archaeologist at Valsgarth Estate.

groundcar – I-174
Guild Masters – 18 of them in All Guilds Council.
Guild Mother – II-354, female in a Guild house who looks after younger members.
Guild of Artisans – II-447, Artists and craftsfolk of all types.
Guild of Medics – I-104

Guilds – I-103
Guynor Chanda (S, m) – I-77, first officer of Sirroki, tan fur, born on Khyaal, executed in II for mutiny.

H

Haven – V-383, Brotherhood Outpost near Jalnian/Chemerian space, was once ancient Valtegans’, part of their defensive network for their empire.
hive – V-304, where Touiban swarms go to breed, are in the center of their cities and no aliens allowed near them.
Hall of Remembrance – II-57, in Governor’s Palace on Shola.
Hanaz (S, m) – III-136, aide to Governor Nesul.
Haram (J, m) – IV-575, Jalnian Lord.

Head Priest – IV-40, Title of Father Lijou, Guild Master of Priests and co-ruler of Brotherhood.
Healer – I-182
Hillfort – I-39, human mining settlement on Keiss.
Hkariyash – IV-497, Sumaan spaceship used for Jalna mission, Captain is Kishasayzar.
Holy Object – II-62, mysterious object sacred to some, at least, present day Valtegans, actually stasis cube containing 2 pre-Cataclysm Sholans.

House – IV-44, see Consortia.
House of Khaimoe – IV-320, Consortia House in Ranz.
Hughes (KH, m) – I-201, member of Eureka’screw, member of the guerrillas, medic.
hunter/kill mode – II-46 when a Sholan targets his/her prey. Is extremely difficult state to come out of without killing.
huntersight – II-45 tunnel vision that comes autonomically into force when prey targeted.

Hunting – II-44
hypoderm gun – I-140 pressurized hypodermic.

I

Infonet – II-574, news network on Shola.

J

J’kirtikk – V-316, Valtegan world with whom the M’zullians are at war.
Jack Reynolds (KH, m) I-10, doctor to Valleytown and surrounding area, short, slightly tubby, thick curly gray-brown hair, bearded/ A tall Pan-like person.
Jafaya (S, m) – III-256, Governor of surviving Sholan colony world of Khoma.
Jainie (J, f) III-563, tavern girl.
Jaisa (S, f) – II-322, kitling who collides with Carrie in Valsgarth shopping area.

Jaisa (S, f, t, anc) III-680, friend of Zashou.
Jakule (S, m) – II-30, trooper, one of conspirators on Khalossa.
Jalna – III-117, humanoid occupied world traded on by Chemerians and several other species, unknown to Sholans till now, local culture roughly medieval, natives (who resemble humans) are prone to erratic bouts of violence.
James Blackwell (EH, m) – II-301, came to Keiss on Erasmus.
Janahi (S, m, t) – II-204, Sholan interpreter on Khalossa.

Jayed (S, m, t) – II-476, brother to Vanna, mate to Kikho, Grade Three telepath.
jegget – II-182, Sholan small furred telepathic animal with bushy tail as long as body, pet to Kris in IV and also Brynne in V.
Jeran Khesrey (S, m) – III-3, Valtegan captive sold to Jalnians, Life Support engineer from Szurtha, pale fur, becomes lover of Giyesh in IV.
Jim Healey (KH, m) – I-47, killed by Valtegans I-48.
Jinoe (S, f, t, L) – II-527, kitling, member of anomalous Leska Pair from Ghuulgul desert, Leska Rrai, dark brown eyes, light tan pelt.

Jissoh (S, f, t) – IV- 241, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, recruited at same time as L’Seuli.
Jiszoe (S, f) – IV- 89, Jack Reynolds’ Companion.
J’koshuk (V, m) – III-1, title Priest, a member of an order of torturer priests not unlike the Inquisitors.
Jo Edwards (KH, f, latent t) – I-61, member of Eureka’s crew, member of the guerrillas, language expert, short hair, forms Triad relationship with Rezac and Zashou on Jalna.
Joaylah (S, m, t) – II-390, priest of Vartra in temple in Nazule.

John Innes (KH, m) – I-47
Jordan (EH, m) – II-301, Captain of Erasmus, Earth’s second wave colony ship to Keiss.
Jorto (S, m, t) – II-421, truthsayer.
Josh Lewis (EH, m, tri) – IV-322, archeologist at Valsgarth Estate, father of Mara’s cub, third to Mara and Zhyaf, sandy hair, dark brows, beard.
jotha – IV- 591, luxury fabric sold on Jalna, produced by U’Churians. Juilmi Rraoud (S, f) – IV- 320, Consortia.

Jurrel (S, m,) – V-68, Brotherhood member, sword-brother and Companion to Banner, bodyguard and lover to Brynne.
Jyarti (S, m, t) – III-232, title Father, predecessor to Lijou as religious leader of Brotherhood of Vartra.

K – M

K

Kadulah Aldatan (S, f, t) – II-202, deceased female telepath, whose death in a Challenge resulted in current laws regarding telepaths being immune from Challenge.
Kaedoe (S, m) – II-28, one of conspirators on Khalossa, killed by Dzaka at Kaid’s order (knifed) II-214.
Kaerdhu (S, m) – III-200, storyteller, started new technique of having people on stage to portray story as it is told.
Kaeshala – V-217, Main continent of Shola where the Valsgarth estate is.
Kaibah (S, m) – III-480, member of Brotherhood of Vartra.

Kaid Tallinu (S, m, t, tri) – II-69 (as Tallinu), II-99 (as Kaid), ex-member of Brotherhood of Vartra, foster father and biological father of Dzaka, former special operative hired by Telepath Guild to assess rogue talents, brown fur, darker brown hair swept back between ears, brown eyes, registered member of Triad with Carrie and Kusac.

Kaladar – III-278, Jalnian town to which Valtegan stasis cube is taken.
Kara (S, f,) – II-474, One of Vanna’s sisters.
Kashini (S/H, f, t) – III-227, daughter of Carrie and Kusac, conceived En’Shalla.
Kate Harvey (KH, f, t, ML) – IV-445, member of second wave of colonists from Earth that landed after Keiss was freed from Valtegans, Leska Taynar Arrazo.
Kathan’s beard – IV-444, U’Churian oath – Kathan is their Holy Prophet.

Keeza Lassah (S, f) – IV-139, convicted murdered, memory blocked and set with Kezule in an attempt to gain information from him, tabby brown hair, gray eyes.
Keiss – I-30, human colony world settled about 12 years before start of first book, conquered by Valtegans 10 years before start of first book.
Kesh (PV, m) IV-? data engineer on Kz’adul.
Kezule (V, m, anc) – III-656, Commander in charge of unit guarding Valtegan hatchery at Khezy’ipik.
Kezule, God of the Sun – II-526, also God of Fire – III-206.

Khafsa (S, m, t) II-370, physician at Telepath Guild in Valsgarth.
Khaimoe (S, f) – IV- 140, Consortia House owner.
Khalma – III-624, ancient Sholan city.
Khalmi (S, m, t, L) – II-524, Leska is Nikuu.
Khalossa – I-71, Sholan survey ship, mothership to Sirroki among others.

Kha’Qwa (S, f) – III-529, Sister of Brotherhood of Vartra, Companion to Lijou, mated in IV, flame curls, titian fur.
Khartu Rakula (S, f) – IV-149, sister to Zhyaf.
Khas’ih Rakula (S, f, t) – V-387, Clan Leader.
Khay (S, m) II-30, one of conspirators on Khalossa, killed II-174 in explosion in shuttle bay organized by Kaid.
Khayla (S, f) – IV-199, cub of Taizia and Meral.

Khayle Laasoi (S, f, t) – V-387, Clan Leader.
Kheal (S, m,) – V-383, Brotherhood member, Captain of Haven Outpost.
Khemu Arrazo (S, f, t) – III-165, mother to Dzaka, pale gray hair and fur, bright blue eyes, small and slim, dying of wasting sickness in Rhijudu village.
Kheszi (S, m) – II-150, dealer in smoke and other drugs on the Khalossa.
Khezy’ipik – III-380, Valtegan name for Chezy, site of their hatchery in pre Cataclysm days.

Khoenga (S, m, t) – II-279, Mentor.
Khoesh Tribe – III-313
Kholgou (S, m) V-538, Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven.
Khoma – II-57, surviving Sholan colony world, governor is Jafaya.
Khomi (S, m) – III-353, Councillor, sub-Guild Master, Department for Intellectual Development.

Khuushoi – III-462, Goddess of Winter, consort to Liege of Hell, L’Shoh.
Khy (S, m) – IV- 199, member for Brotherhood of Vartra.
Khyaal – II-25, one of the two Sholan colony worlds destroyed by the Valtegans.
Khyim (S, m, anc) – III-693
Kidoah nomads – III-314

Kiju’iz – IV-265, Valtegan world on which Kezule hatched.
Kikho (S, f) – II-474, mate of Jayed, pregnant.
Killian (J, m) – III-566, Lord of Kalador.
Kimin (S, f, t, anc) – III-408, Doctor.
kirris – IV-603, Chemerian drink, strong spirit.

Kishasayzar (M, m) – IV-497, Captain of Hkariyash.
Kitra Aldatan (S, f, t) – II-433, youngest child of Konis and Rhyasha, older siblings Kusac and Taizia, amber eyes, pale gold fur and hair.
Kolem (S, m) – II-3, Sub-Commander on Khalossa.
Konis Aldatan (S, m, t) – II-8, Lord of combined Sixteen Telepath Clans, (now 17) head of Alien Relations, member of Sholan High Council, father to Kusac, Taizia, and Kitra, husband to Rhyasha, eyes green tinged amber, pelt blue black like son’s.

Kora (EH, f, t, ML) – IV-469, Leska to Tamghi.
Kris Daniels (EH, m, t) – III-173, shoulder length fair hair held by suede headband, preferred garb t-shirt, jeans and open sandals, pet jegget named Scamp.
krolla – III-75, Sholan animal like a crocodile, used to denote lots of teeth.
Kubi’h oasis – III-313
Kusac Aldatan (S, m, t, ML) – I-13, Leska to Carrie, used last name Alda to enlist under, pretended to be grade five telepath under that identity, Liegen of Valsgarth Estate, Telepath First Grade, Sisters Taizia and Kitra, mother Rhyasha , father Konis, fur black, amber eyes.

Kuushala – North polar area of Shola (not yet mentioned in books)
KX1311 – II-3, Sholan designation for Keiss.
Kysubi – II-453, town.
Kysubi Plains – II-71, on Shola.
K’oish’ik – V-56, Prime homeworld.

Kz’adul – V-445, Prime destroyer which captures the Profit and M’ijikk.
Kzizysus (L, m) V-403, Doctor of bio-engineering on Profit.
kzu-shu – IV- 108, a red-mist warrior state, berserker.

L

laalgo – IV- 504, coma like state used by Valtegan warriors for healing and hibernating.
laalgo level – IV- 02, a mental state necessary to go into laalgo coma.
Lydda (S, f) V-541, Brotherhood member, aide to L’Seuli on Haven.
laalquoi – IV- 185, Valtegan spice (dietary supplement), plant extract that has mood altering effects.
Laasoi – III-209

Laasoi Guildhouse – II-531, Telepath Guild House at Laasoi.
Ladies’ Sewing Circle – I-38, aka the Gossip Shop, meet in Valleytown Inn on Tues and Thurs afternoons.
Laesu (S, f) – II-395, AlRel student, friend of Taizia, slim.
la’quo – III-524, psychotropic drug obtained from Chemerians (they use it as an aphrodisiac), Valtegan in origin.
Lasad (S, m) – III-154, member of Brotherhood of Vartra.

Lawson (KH, m) – II-44
Layul (S, m, anc) – III-409, nurse working with Dr. Kimin.
Leader of a Hundred Swarms – II-327, high Touiban rank.
Lebbu (S, m) – III-251, member of Fleet Pack.
Leska – I-67 a mental partner – see below.

Leska Link – I-? A pair of people with a mental and physical link for life.
Leska pair – I-234 a pair of people of opposite sex linked mentally and physically for life.
Lhafsa oasis – III-313 desert oasis on Shola.
Lhea (S, f) – II-568, Sister, assigned to Vanna and/or Brynne as bodyguard.
Liegen – II- 137, male child of a Liege (clan leader), not just the heir; Liegena is female.

life pod – I-71
life-bond – II-356
Life-bonding Challenge – II-492
lifemate – II-389
life-mate – I-75

Lijou Kzaelan (S, m, t) – II-71, title Father, chief priest of Vartra, Sub-Guild Master of Brotherhood of Vartra, status equal with Ghezu, life mate Kha’Qwa; Master of Guild of Priests in VI.
Limping Jegget Inn – II-560
Link – I-137
Link deprivation – II-472 when Leska’s are separated mentally or physically they suffer physical symptoms.
Litany of Preparation – IV-450 prayers of concentration the Brotherhood say.

Loed (S, m) – II-71, Ghezu’s predecessor as Warrior Leader of Brotherhood of Vartra.
Lokki (S, m) – III-528, young, runs errands for Noni.
Loshul – II-301, probably Valtegan individual.
L’Seuli (S, m) – III-88, member of Fyak’s elite guard, member of Brotherhood of Vartra working under cover, average height, stocky, sandy pelt, becomes aide to Rhyaz.
Lyarto plains – III-314

Lynn Fielding (EH, f, t, ML) – II-473, age 16, dies with her Leska Raill because she is too afraid to accept the bond.
Leohl Naekoh (S, f) – V-268, Dzahai village elder.
Lossa Faezou (S, f, t) – V-387, Clan Leader.

M

M’ikkule (PV, f) – V-532, mistress to Prince Zsurtul.
Maikoi (S, m) – V-538, Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven.
maush – V-445, Valtegan herb tea, calmative effect.
mind-dead, aka brain-dead – a non-telepath or one whose Talent is destroyed.
Mistress Tokui Mnyasu (S, f, t) – V-197, Head Priestess of Ghyakulla – Formerly Sister Tokui. Elderly, green eyes, high arched eyeridges, rounded ears, swept back mid-length hair, nung blossom ear studs at outer edge of ears, hair brown/black with flecks of light blond of age, wear green shades of clothing.

Mnae Kayan (S, f, t) – V-387, Clan Leader.
M’ezozakk (V, m) – II-60, General, commanding M’ijikk, born on M’zull.
M’ijikk – II-60, Valtegan spaceship escaped from Keiss space with Sholan captives and mysterious artifacts aboard.
m’ikkoe – II-69, intoxicating Chemerian beverage.
M’Zio (S, m) – IV-326, one of Vanna’s nurses.

M’zull – II-60, Valtegan world.
M’Zushi – IV-107, family that fostered Kaid when he arrived in the future as a cub.
Mabu’h (S, m) – IV-156, Consortia who is Keeza’s room mate.
Maeshou (S, f, t) – IV-575, Sorli’s aide.
Maikoe (S, f) – II-28, one of conspirators on Khalossa, pilot of Alanti (probably scouter), killed in crash on Keiss II-218.

Mandy Brown (EH, F, t) – IV-172, daughter of Ruth Brown, age 12.
Manesh (U, f) – IV-444, security officer and gunner on Rryuk’s Profit.
Manufacturers Guild – III-287
Mara Ryan (EH, f, t, ML) – III-154, age probably about 19, immature, dark hair, fair skin, blue eyes, taller than Carrie by several inches, Leska to Zhyaf.
Marak (S/H, m) – III-434, Vanna and Brynne’s cub, beige fur, minor heart defect requiring surgery soon after birth.

Maran (S, m) – I-213, pilot of Sirroki, killed in Valtegan attack.
Maro (S, m, t, anc) – III-407
Mattie (EH, f) – III-497, younger archaeologist on Valsgarth team.
Maylgu (S, f) – II-630, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, guards Brynne Stevens.
Mayoi Kyusha (S, f, t) – IV-320, life bonded to Sorli.

media-nets – II-271 information and news broadcasting channels on Shola.
Medical Guild – II-348, color – blue.
medikit – I-217
Meeting Point – IV-573, an inn in Jalna’s spaceport where agents and Traders meet.
Meg (KH, f) – I-22, widow, housekeeper to Peter Hamilton.

Mentor – II-74, title given senior telepath on starships like the Khalossa.
Meral (S, m) – II-163, Warrior, assigned as bodyguard to Kusac and Carrie by Kaid, bond-mate to Taizia Aldatan (5 year bond contract), sensitivity to people and surroundings.
Merchants Guild – III-258.
Michaels (EH, m) – III-349, title Doctor, archaeologist.
Mijushy Rhayfso (S, m) – IV-437, son of Warrior Guild Master, a master smith who made the swords Carrie, Kusac and Kaid carry to Jalna.

mind-poisoners – III-207, Fyak’s term for telepaths.
mind-speak – IV- 448
mind-speech – IV- ?
Miosh (S, f, t) – II-178, attendant and friend to Rhyasha Aldatan, later a Guardian.
Mippik (J, m) – III-563, owner of Silver Tree Inn on Jalna.

Miroshi (S, f, t) – III-3, Valtegan captive sold to Jalnians, probably Grade One telepath, truthsayer.
Misuse of Talent charge – I-142
Mito Rralgu (S, f) – I-93, member of Sirroki‘s crew, communications officer, Lieutenant.
Mnoeshi (S, f) – III-349, Guild Master.
Mnya (S, f, t) – II-9, Mentor, head of Telepath’s Guild on Khalossa.

Modernists – II-526 believers in Fyak the mad priest from the desert.
Morgil (J, m) – IV- 617, Port Controller on Jalna.
Mrowbay (U, m) – IV- 444, medic on Rryuk’s Profit.
Mrs. Fielding (EH, f) – II-72, mother of telepath Lynn, middle-aged, produces herbal remedies.
Myaddu (S, f, t) – III-423, previous master of Telepath Guild, probably now deceased.

Myak (S, m, t) – II-3, adjutant to Commander Raguul on the Khalossa, Sub-Lieutenant.
Mzayb’ik (V, m) – III-2, priest of lower status that J’koshuk.

N to R

N

N’galu (S, f) – II-28, one of the conspirators on Khalossa, killed II-166 in maintenance accident arranged by Kaid.
N’koshoh (PV, f) – V-565, spy who was with Kusac the last night on Kz’adul.
Nara (S, f) – V-382, Brotherhood navigator for Striker Two, L’Seuli’s craft; pilot is Chima.
Ngio (S, m) – V-540, Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven.
Naeul Arrazo (S, m, t) – III-364, current Clan Leader of Arrazo Clan, Khemu’s father.

Naika (S, m) – III-128, General, member of Sholan High Command.
Naira (S, m) – II-524, Warrior.
Naisha (S, f) – II-28, one of the conspirators on Khalossa, killed II-174 in shuttle bay explosion arranged by Kaid.
Nalgalan – IV-157, Eastern continent of Shola.
Nara (S, f) – V-382, Brotherhood navigator for Striker two, L’Seuli’s craft, pilot Chima.

Narwen (J, m) – IV-313, priest, title Father.
Nayash (U, m) – IV-446, pilot of Rryuk’s Profit.
Nayla Kiolma (S, f) – IV-502, Forces linguist, Sub-Lieutenant.
Nazule – II-326, Sholan town across bay from Valsgarth, home of Warriors Guild, contains main hospital for area.
Neban (J, m) – III-27, an animal keeper on Jalna.

Nelson (KH, m) – I-201, member of Eureka’s crew, member of the guerrillas.
Nesul (S, m) – II-581, title Governor (of Shola), elected head of government, member of Diplomatic Guild.
nezzu – IV- 498, Sholan intoxicating drink.
Ngaiu (S, m) – III-263, Guild Master of Administration Guild.
Ngio (S, m) – V-540, Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven.

Niaza (S, m) – II-380, dissident from Rhyaki.
Nickoe (S, f, t) – III-351, Clan Leader.
Nijidi Science Station – III-129
Nijou (S, m) – IV-199, member of Brotherhood of Vartra.
Nikuu (S, f, t, L) – II-524, Leska is Khalmi.

Nikuu Aldatan (S, f, t, ML) – IV- 469, link went wrong and now she is only telepathic with her Human Leska Dillan.
Nishou (S, m, t) – III-230, Mentor of Laasoi Guildhouse.
ni’uzu – II-372, Sholan winter virus.
Nizoh (S, m) – III-251, leader of Runners Pack.
Nnadu (S, m, t) – III-241, Master of Priests subguild.

Nnya (S, f) – II-60, mate of Dzaka, died on Szurtha.
Noni – see Rhuna.
Norris (KH, m) – II-46
Nuada (S, m) – II-55, Lieutenant on Khalossa.
Nuddoh M’Zushi (S, m) – V-262, Kaid’s foster father, and to several other cubs also.

nung blossom – III-91, sacred to Ghyakulla and Vartra, used to make incense.
Nyaam (S, m, anc) – III-407, medical Doctor.
Nyacko Pass – III-241
Nyacko plains – III-314
Nyak (S, m, anc) – III-709

Nyanga (S, m) – III-344, follower of Fyak, executed for military failure.
Nyash (S, m) – III-154, member of Brotherhood of Vartra.
Nyaz (S, m, anc, t) – IV-121, member of Vartra’s research group, seriously injured escaping from Valtegans.
Nylam – III-351, Sholan God of the Hunt.
Nylam’s Dance – IV-229

Nylam’s Day – IV- 187, the day of the Hunt, Sholan holiday.
Ni’Zulhu (S, m) – III-60, in charge of security at Aldatan and Valsgarth Estates.

O

Oathtakers – I-211
Oceanview – I-39, human mixed sea and land farming settlement on Keiss.
Order of Vartra – III-53
Others, the – II-3, the way Sholans referred to Valtegans before they were located and identified on Keiss.

P

pachuv – IV-448, bitter U’Churians fruit, like a lime.
Pam Southgate (EH, f) – III-496, archaeologist, leader of team at Valsgarth Estate, bad tempered and arrogant, iron gray hair cut short, pale blue eyes, tall.
Perry (KH, m) – II-45
Peter Hamilton (KH, m) – I-11, Father to Carrie, Elise and Richard, widower, inn keeper Valleytown Inn, leader of the Passive Resistance against Valtegans, dark beard and mustache, starting to gray, lean build, elected Prime Councillor of Keiss after liberation from Valtegans.

Peterson (KH, m) – I-201, member of Eureka’s crew, member of the guerrillas.
plasmagraft – II-622, grafting technique for bad wounds.
Plateau Hills – I-63
Port Controller – IV-550
Profit – IV-552, Rryuk’s Profit, U’Churian trade ship, Captain is Tirak.

Protectors – II-416, police equivalent.
Providers Guild – III-258
psychic inhibitor – II-309 inhibits use of psi abilities.

Q

Q’emgo’h (V, m, anc) – IV- 184, Emperor, God-King.
Q’ozoi (PV, m) V-453, Commander of Kz’adul.
Quin (EH, m, t) – IV-126, one of two humans chosen by Kaid for Jalna mission, 6" shorter than Conrad and a dozen years older, round face, receding hairline, stocky build.
qwenes – II-150, Sholan prostitutes.

R

Raguul (S, m) – II-3, Captain of Khalossa, rank of Commander
Raiban (S, f) – III-128, General, member of Sholan High Command, head of military intelligence, blunt and tactless.
Railin (J, m) – III-563, storyteller, shoulder length hair, blue eyes, 50 ish, long graying beard and mustache, smokes pipe.
Raill (S, m, t, ML) – II-472, dies because human Leska, Lynn Fielding, cannot accept bond II-496.
rainbow fruit – II-482, star shaped, thick waxy skin, delicately colored flesh shading from lilac to yellow.

Rala Vailkoi (S, f) – II-140, daughter of Vailkoi Clan leader, Kusac’s betrothed, pale gray fur, two years younger than Kusac, killed by Carrie after she declares Death Rite Challenge against her II-615.
Ranz – III-52, Sholan town near Stronghold, infamous for street gangs (packs).
Raul – III-304, fishing town on Nazule Bay.
Rayazou (S, f) – III-364, artist, member of Aldatan Clan.
Raylma (S, m) – III-344, follower of Fyak, executed for military failure.
Refuge – V-415, Brotherhood outpost.

Rezac (S, m, t, L, anc) – III-101, Leska to Zashou, father of Kaid, fur dark brown, long nearly black. In IV, Jo becomes his Triad mate hair, brown eyes, forms Triad link to Jo Edwards on Jalna.
Rhaema Vorkoh (S, f) – II-574, Infonet news reporter.
Rhaid (S, f, t) – III-318, very powerful telepath, former contender for Clan Lord, taken captive by Fyak’s people during attack on Laasoi Guildhouse.
rhakla – II-46, Sholan deerlike animal.
Rhayfso (S, m) – II-422, Guild Master of Warriors Guild.

Rhayna (S, f) – III-538, member of Brotherhood of Vartra.
Rhian (S, f, t, L) – II-8, member of Leska pair stationed on Khalossa.
Rhio (S, m, t) V-217 Guardian lives in far west.
Rhijudu – III-166, village on edge of Ghuulgul dessert where Khemu lived.
Rhijudu Tribe – III-206

Rhioku (S, m, t, anc) – IV- 203, Dr. Medicine of Stronghold, short curling dark brown hair, lighter pelt, long face, low set ears, piercing blue eyes.
Rhudi (S, m) – II-380, dissident from Khalossa, identity assumed by Chyad.
Rhuha (S, m) – III-353, Councillor, Environment Dept.
Rhuna Dzaedoh (S, f, t) – III-91, usually called Noni, non-guild healer, lives near Stronghold, iron gray pelt flecked with traces of original brown, hair snow white worn in single thick braid, brown eyes, old.
Rhuso (S, m, t) – II-54, Telepath Guild Tutor on Khalossa.

Rhyaki – II-128, Sholan spaceship sent to Earth to handle treaty negotiations.
Rhyasha Aldatan (S, f, t) – II-106, Liege of Clan Aldatan, mate to Konis, mother to Kusac, Taizia and Kitra (S, f, t) – II-? amber eyes, lighter amber fur, hair worn long in thin beaded braids.
Rhyaz (S, m) – III-315, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, top tactician in Brotherhood, chosen as replacement for Ghezu as Warrior leader and coGuild Master.
Rhyjidi – III-304, false name used by Kaid to rent vehicle.
Richard Hamilton (KH, m) – I-8, Sisters Carrie and Elise, father Peter, mother died on trip to Keiss, dark beard and mustache, lean build.

Rilgho (S, m) – III-132, General, member of Sholan High Command.
Risho Bay – IV- 144, on Valsgarth estate, east coast.
Risho Point – IV- 144
Rithmomachia – II-296, game Carrie brought from Keiss.
Ross Derwent (EH, m, ?) – III-252, tall, lean, late middle age, brown hair thinning on top, pale blue eyes, Talent measurable but unknown, claims to be guider of souls.

Royal Court – II-62, on Valtegan world M’zull.
Rozoa Mountains – III-314
Rrael (S, m) – II-265, dissident on Khalossa.
Rrai (S, m, t, L) – II-527, kitling, member of anomalous Leska Pair from Ghuulgul desert, hazel eyes, mother Zhiloma, father dead, Leska Jinoe.
Rraysa (S, m) – V-408, Forces soldier guarding Valsgarth estate.

Rreba (S, m) – II – 86, Sub-Commander on Sholan spaceship Khalossa, science officer.
Rrurto (S, m) – III-88, member of Fyak’s elite guard.
Rryabi – II-6, Sholan cruiser in fleet sent to Keiss to combat Valtegans.
Rulla (S, m) – II-148, pilot, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, highlander in prime of life, tan fur, brown eyes, rounded stocky face, ears wider than usual, senses moods of people and whether they are telling the truth, assigned as aide to Zhyaf and Mara, infatuated with Ruth.
Runners Pack – III-250, gang in Ranz.

Ruth Brown (EH, f, t) – IV-151, medium height, fair wavy long hair, Junoesque figure, green eyes, has 12 year old daughter Mandy, runs a halfway house for Carrie, object of Rulla’s infatuation.
Rynara – III-127, Sholan spacecraft at Chagda Station.

S to Z

S

Sara (EH, f, t) – III-243, lover of Brynne Stevens.
Sarak (J, m) – IV- 575, Jalnian Lord.
Sashti (S, f) – II-475, sister to Vanna, mane of brown and black hair, brown eyes, makes massage oils and owns biggest massage store in Valsgarth.
Sayuk (U, f) – IV-445, navigator on Profit, gunner.
Scamp – III-339, male jegget kept as pet by Kris Daniels, white fur with pale brown markings on ears.

Science Guild – III-257
Seaport – I-31, one of the human settlements on Keiss, site of initial landing.
sept – V-7, four Cabbarans working together.
Serif (S, m, t) – II-98, interpreter on Khalossa.
Sevrin (S, m) – II-163, Warrior, assigned as bodyguard to Kusac and Carrie by Kaid, killed by dissident from Khalossa while defending Kusac in Valsgarth underground vehicle park II-415.

Shaku (S, m) – II-426, Warrior, teacher of edged weapons at Warriors Guild.
Shanka (S, m, t, anc) – IV-117, husband to Zashou.
Sharaaza (M, m) – III-268, Captain of Summer Bounty.
Shaayaisis (M, m) – V-532, Sumaan captain of Couana.
Shayola (S, f) – III-495, warrior.

Sheeowl (U, f) – IV-444, engineer on Profit.
Shola – I-71, Sholan home world.
Sholan High Command – I-82
Shrine Room – II-60, on M’ijikk, contains mysterious artifact which is actually stasis cube containing pre-Cataclysm Leska pair.
Shyazi nomads – III-314

Silver Tree Inn – III-562, inn on Jalna, owned by Mippik.
Sirroki – I-57, Sholan scout ship shot down by Valtegans, captain Garras, other crew survivors Kusac, Guynor, Mito, Vanna.
Skai (KH, m) – I-113, dark wavy hair, height approx 1.5 meters, member of human guerrillas, crew member on Eureka.
Skinner, Captain (KH, m) – I-120, leader of the human guerrillas, captain of Eureka, co-chairman of Terran/Sholan Council.
Sleeper – V-537, someone who volunteered to sleep in cryo for a set time against Shola’s need for special fighters. This has been done for 250 years now.

smoke den – II-30, aka smoke bar II-130.
Sonashi Pass – III-439
Sonashi village – III-209, destroyed by Fyak’s people
Songoh oasis – III-313
Sonjhi (S, f) – III-167

Soola Kayan (S, f, t) – II-366
Sorli (S, m, t) – II-279, Senior Tutor at Telepath Guild in Valsgarth, seems to be chief assistant to Master Esken, Promoted to Master of Guild in IV.
Spacer’s Haven – IV-590, Jalnian brothel to which Tesha was sold.
Special Operatives – Brotherhood members sent after rogue telepaths to Observe, Assess, Recruit or Destroy. Basically save them secretly in the Brotherhood if they can. Garras and Kaid were SO’s.
specism – IV-404, species prejudice.

specist – IV-403, one who is prejudiced against a species.
Stealth multipurpose fighter – II-85, type of Sholan spacecraft.
stim twig – II-293, Sholan equivalent of cigarette, an actual twig they chew.
Storyteller – IV-199, professional teller of Sholan myths and legends.
Storyteller’s Theater – II-292

Strick (J, m) – III-273, foreman of a spaceport work crew.
Striker – II-88, Sholan Stealth multipurpose stealth fighter.
Stronghold – II-250, see Dzahai Stronghold.
Sumaan – II-196, member of Alliance, mercenaries, tend to work for Chemerians, reptilian, tall (typically 6 feet at shoulder + 2 feet of sinuous neck + large crested head), nonretractable claws on hands and feet, hands have three fingers and opposable thumb, tail, nearly as thick as thorax carried off ground, earth brown skin, dwell partly underground, see into infrared.

Summer Bounty– III-178, Chemerian merchant ship belonging to Chijuu Liokso.
swamp dragon – I-159, Keissian swamp-dwelling carnivore.
Swarm Leader – II-326, Touiban rank.
sword-brother – IV-253, a warrior partner whom one swears a personal oath to; closer than lovers.
Szurtha – II-29, one of the two Sholan colony worlds destroyed by the Valtegans.

T

Taeo (S, f) – V-540, Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven.
taiban – V-89, U’Churian word for child.
Telepath Clans – , 17 of them. Chazoun, Arrazo, Kyusha, Nolguu, Kzaelan, Rhakula, Kaijan, Faezou, En’Shalla, Aldatan, Vailkoi, Rhasho, Mnyasu, Chekoi, Laasoi, Kayan, Rhaiduh.
Taiba (S, f) – II-395, AlRel student, friend of Taizia, tends to plumpness.
Taira Khebo (C, m) – II-197, Ambassador on Khalossa, kidnaps young mixed Leska paid under guise of rescue.

Taizia Aldatan (S, f, t) – II-311, second child of Konis and Rhyasha, sister to Kusac and Kitra, dark fur, pregnant by Meral III-115.
Tal (S, m, anc) – IV- 388, Jaisa’s young brother.
Talgo Vailkoi (S, m, t) – II-453, brother to Rala.
Tallis Vrenga (S, m, t) – III-4, Valtegan captive sold to Jalnians, probably Grade Three telepath.
Tamghi (S, m, t, ML) – IV- 469, Leska to Kora.

Taradain (J, m) – IV- 288, son to Lord Killian.
tarnach – IV- 582, guard animal on Jalna, wild ones hunt in packs, like dire-wolf.
Tarolyn (U, m) – IV- 639, Lord of Galrayin.
Tashkerra – I-40, domed Valtegan pleasure city on Keiss.
Tayangi (S, m) – III-241, Master of Civil Protectorate subguild.

Taykui forest – III-305
Tayn (S, m) – II-150
Taynar Arrazo (S, m, t, ML) – IV- 445, Leska to Kate, youngest son or Arrazo Clan Leader.
T’Chaku (S, f), Brotherhood Captain of Va’Khoi.
T’chelu– II-6, Sholan cruiser in fleet sent to Keiss to combat Valtegans.

T’Chebbi Kymai (S, f) – II-429, member of the Brotherhood of Vartra, smaller than average, gray eyes, longer than average tabby fur (brindled – III-31), long dark hair worn in a single braid with small neck braids at the sides, of Highland stock, possesses a strong sense of impending danger including the direction it will come from.

T’Chezo (S, f) – II-380, a dissident leader on Shola.
T’Chya (S, f, t), classmate of Kitra at Telepath Guild.
T’Chya (S, f, t) IV-507, Kaid’s mother.
Ted Meredith (KH, m) – I-42, two brothers – Alan and Bill.
TeLaxaud – IV- 554, alien race that helped build port on Jalna> Insectoid looking – bronze spindly bodies, large dual lensed eyes, mandible, floating draperies, communicate best with Cabbarans, use scent and sound to do this.

Telepath Clans – I-233, (may not be first reference).
Telepathic cultural transfer – I-234
Telepaths’ Guild – I-78, color purple.
Terney – I-130, planet on which Sholans and Chemer trade.
Terno (S, m, t) – II-76, Tutor on Khalossa.

Terran/Sholan Council – II-534, on Keiss.
Terry (EH, m, t) – III-243
Tesha Freyash (S, f) – III-4, Valtegan captive sold to Jalnians, communications specialist.
Teusi (S, m, t) – IV- 329, Noni’s attendant.
Tiernay (S, m, t, anc) – III-591, leader of Vartra’s group of student research assistants (consisting of him, Rezac, Zashou, Shanka, Nyaz, Jaisa).

Tirak (U, m) – IV- 444, Captain of Profit.
Tokui Mayasu (S, f, t) – III-255, title – Sister, priest, member of Sholan Goddess cult.
Touibans – II-35, alien race, trading partners with Sholans, high pitched voices, rapid movements, travel in groups (swarms), long thin clawed hands, long bodies, short limbs, pronounced brows, hair sparse, eyes small and set in dark skinned sockets, nose long thin flanged and edged with stiff hairs, wear bright to garish colors and loads of jewelry, brilliant with electronics and computers, communicate partly by scents.

Toueesut (T, m), Speaker for Touiban swarm working on Valsgarth estate.
Town Council – I-62
Tulla (S, f, t) – V-217, Guardian, lives in the Ghuulgul desert.
tree-rhudda – III-241, tree climbing rodent, used in curses (such as son of a tree-rhudda).
Tribal Leader – III-206

Truthsayers – I-211
Turna (J, m) – IV- 576, Jalnian Lord.
Tutors – II-22, Senior teachers in Guilds.
Tyam (S, m) – II-474

U

U’Churian Traders Council – IV-446
U’Churians –, one of the species trading on Jalna, physically similar to Sholans except for longer fur, lack of color variations on fur (all are dark), external genitals on males.

V

Vaidou (S, f) – III-232, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, fair fur, shoulder length amber hair; promoted to Ghyan’s aide.
Vailkoi Clan – III-234
Va’Khoi – V-415, Brotherhood flag ship, a recovered ancient 100,000 ton destroyer.
Valleytown – I-29, one of the human settlements on Keiss.
Valleytown Inn – I-38, inn owned by Peter Hamilton.

Valsgarth – II-70, Sholan town on east coast of major continent, home of main Telepath Guild House.
Valsgarth Estate – II-505, belongs to Kusac, established as home of mixed Leskas.
Valsgarth Medical Center – III-229
Valtegans – I-8, alien race, gray-green, lizardlike bipeds with nonretractable claws.

Vangan (S, m, anc) – III-694
Vanna Kyjishi (S, f, t, ML) – I-91, medic on Sirroki, coat light beige with darker banding on tail and around eyes and ears, eyes chartreuse, promoted to physician II-49, Leska Brynne Stevens, telepathy and Leska Link activated II-536.

Varos (S, m) – II-424, Warrior, teacher of energy weapons at Warriors Guild, very large, tan fur, green eyes.
Vartra (S, m, anc) – III-408, doctor and geneticist, tall, slimmer than most, dark tan pelt, narrow ears, plains born, not a telepath but able to mentally manipulate genes though not consciously until Carrie spots it and tells him, eventually deified.
Vartra – I-19, Sholan deity. Sacred to Warriors and telepaths, Warrior God who fights for peace, credited with saving the Sholans from the Cataclysm; his realm’s gate is 2 trees, wooden door between, triple carved spiral with blue white crystal in center.

Vartra’s Retreat – III-65
Varza – III-625, ancient Sholan warrior god.
Vek’ihk – II-6, Sumaan spaceship accompanying fleet sent to Keiss to combat Valtegans.
Vekki (S, f) – II-395, AlRel student, friend of Taizia.
Viaz (S, m, t, anc) – III-248, Mentor.

Vioshi (S, m) – II-603, Sub-Commander, Sholan co-chairman of Terran/Sholan Council.
Vizoen (S, m) – III-241, Master of Artificers Guild.
Voice of Vartra – II-554.title held by Ghyan as chief Priest of Temple of Vartra in Valsgarth.
Vrada (S, m) – IV-328, young male living at Ruth’s.
Vrail (S, m, t) – II-237, head of Alien Relations on Khalossa.

Vraiyou (S, m) – III-344, chief disciple to Fyak.
Vrall (S, m) – II-380, dissident on Shola.
Vray (S, m) – III-228
Vrazo (S, m, t) – II-391, young acolyte of Vartra at Valsgarth temple.
Vriji – II-6, Sholan cruiser in fleet sent to Keiss to combat Valtegans.

Vriuzu (S, m, t) – III-315, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, wild talent recruited and trained by Brotherhood after Esken ordered termination, strong sender, limited receiver.
Vroozoi (S, m) – II-6, Force Commander, commander of fleet sent to Keiss to combat Valtegans, ambitious and ruthless, based on Cheku.
Vrusa Estate – II-574, belonging to Vailkoi Clan.
Vryal (S, m) – V- 408, Forces soldier guarding Valsgarth estate.
Vusho (S, m, t) – III-228, member of Brotherhood of Vartra.

Vyaka (S, f, t) – III-178, stocky, average height, light gray fur with dark bands on tail and tipping ears, short dark hair, bright green eyes, member AlRel.
Vyaku (S, m) – III-241, Master of Communications Guild.
Va’Khoi, Brotherhood 100,000 ton destroyer, ancient Valtegan ship re-outfitted. Their flag ship.
Vaidou (S, f, t), promoted to Ghyan’s aide at the Shrine.

W

walk the Fire Margins – III-50, En’Shalla ritual, none have so far survived it.
Warrior Guild – II-86, color red, main Guild House in Nazule.
Warrior’s Tomb – IV- 427, At Vartra’s Retreat, tomb where sword-brother’s swear their oath.
Western Isles, the – IV- 157, Western continent of Shola.
Wilderness, the – II-296, artificial wilderness area on Khalossa.

Word of Kezule – III-88, one of Fyak’s titles as the Sun God’s prophet.
World Council – II-295, ruling body of Shola.
World Council – III-12
wrist communicator – I-175, combines functions of time, vid comm link, and data.
wrong-foot – IV- 277, put one off one’s stride, unsettle someone.

Y

Yashui (S, f) – IV- 193, Kashini’s nurse.
Yaszho (S, m) – III-466, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, Lijou’s aide.
Yellow 2 alert – II-3

Z

Zhaddu (S, m) Brotherhood member, Second to Captain Kheal, left in charge of Haven Outpost.
Zadoh (S, m) – III-258, Guild Master of Merchants Guild.
Zashou (S, f, t, L, anc) – III-221, pale amber fur, amber eyes, only named in this first appearance.
Zayshul (PV, f) – V-453, Valtegan female doctor who was head of Med Research on Kz’adul,Small one in gray robe.

Zhala (S, f) – III-395, cook for Carrie and Kusac in their main house on Valsgarth Estate.
Zhaya (S, m) – III-320, member of Brotherhood of Vartra, assistant to Ghezu.
Zhiko (S, f) – V-540, Brotherhood Sleeper at Haven.
Zhiloma (S, f) – III-458, Rrai’s mother.
Zhyaf (S, m, t, ML) – III-74, Interpreter from Rhyaki, dull and stodgy, Leska is Mara Ryan, killed by Kezule during his escape from captivity.

Zhy’edd (PV, m) – V-565, medical assistant to Chy’qui . Wore white over-robe.
Zsurtul (PV, m) – V-453, Prince, The Enlightened One, son of the Prime Emperor; Wore Gold over-robe, sandy colored hide.
Zsyzoi Rakula – II-524, Warrior.
Zyan (S, m) – II-10, Sub-Commander on Khalossa.
Zylisha (S, f, t, anc) – III-623, Zashou’s sister, life-bonds to Vartra.


Short Stories by on

bmagic

Battle Magic

First Published October 1998
ISBN: 0886778204
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

This anthology edited by Martin Greenberg and Larry Seagrif includes a short story of mine called The Jewel and the Demon.It’s set on the world of Jalna from the Sholan Alliance Series, but no Sholans in it, I’m afraid. A Janlnian Mage and a “small but very real demon” instead this time. See Jalna throught the eyes of Mouse, one of the inhabitants of this exotic, alien world.I plan to do more stories about Mouse and her demon friend, and eventually she will have a novel all to herself.


merlin

Merlin

First Published September 1999
ISBN: 0886778417
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

This anthology edited by Martin Greenberg includes a short story of mine called The Wild Hunt. My story is about the old Merlin passing on his position to a very different successor!


spellfantastic

Spell Fantastic

First Published March 2000
ISBN: 0886778786
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

This anthology edited by Martin Greenberg and Larry Seagrif includes a short story of mine called To Catch a Thief This is the second story about Mouse, the young thief who suddenly finds herself an apprentice magic user and heir – to a small but very real demon.


swords

Swords Against the Millennium

First Published September 2000
ISBN: 0-9532260-3-4
Alchemy Press

This anthology edited by Mike Chinn also includes the short story of mine called To Catch a Thief.


historical

Historical Hauntings

First Published March 2001
ISBN: 0886779928
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

This anthology edited by Jean Rabe and Martin Greenberg includes a short story of mine called Warrior in the Mist.


mutant

The Mutant Files

First Published August 2001
ISBN: 07564000X
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

This anthology edited by Martin Greenberg and John Helfers includes a short story of mine called Paintbox.


daw30th

DAW 30th Anniversary Science Fiction Anthology

First Published May 2002
ISBN: 0756400643
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

This anthology edited by Elizabeth Wollheim, Sheila Gilbert and Betsy Wollheim includes a short story of mine called Return to Shola.


wondrous

Wondrous Beginnings

First Published Jan 2003
ISBN: 0756400988
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

This anthology edited by Martin Greenberg and Steven Silver includes a short story of mine called The Jewel and the Demon.


magic tails

Magic Tails

First Published September 2005
ISBN: 0-7564-0288-3
Amazon.com

Fourteen original tales from fantastic authors that perfectly blend cats and fantasy in popular fables with a magically feline twist. From a cat genie who has a problem fulfilling human wishes, to the quest which only Sleeping Beauty’s cat can complete, to a feline desperately seeking to best the devil, these fables are sure to please lovers of cats and fantasy.


women of war

Women of War

First Published July 2005
ISBN: 0-7564-0286-7
Amazon.com

In the real world, many women are still struggling for equality, but science fiction and fantasy provide a stage for the portrayal of women who have come fully into their own. Here, a talented group of writers has taken up the challenge of creating strong, well-rounded female protagonists, more than able to defend themselves and take the helm–whether in space, on distant worlds, in our own future, or in fantasy realms where a civilization’s fate hangs in the balance.


fantasy gone wrong

Fantasy Gone Wrong

First Published September 2006
ISBN: 0-7564-0380-4
Amazon.com

Everyone knows that heroes should triumph, dragons should be slain, and maidens should be rescued. But what if things don’t go according to plan?

Here are 16 fun tales of magic gone awry – from an author whose unicorn protagonist takes control of the story to a person who can hear food talking with strange events and surprising consequences in between.


the future we wish

The Future We Wish We Had

First Published December 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7564-0441-3
Amazon.com

For all of those who thought that by now that they’d be driving along the skyways in their own personal jet car, who assumed that humans would have established bases on the Moon and Mars, or that diseases would have been conqured, the aging process slowed to a crawl, and war eliminated along with social injustice — here are sixteen stories of futures that might someday be reality.


NoMansLand

No Man’s Land

First Published May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-937051-02-0
Dark Quest Books

With a clap of thunder, the Aerospace fighter tear through the sky, while below women warriors cross the hell of No Man’s Land to close with the enemy in fourteen all-new military science fiction stories.


Stronghold Rising Excerpt by on

Stronghold, Zhal-S’Asha (Month of Approaching Darkness), 18th day, 1551

The door behind him opened and closed. Ignoring the soft footfall, he continued to stare out across the Dzahai Mountains.

“I thought I’d find you here.”

“If you’ve come to persuade me not to go, you’ll fail,” he said shortly, trying to contain the anger that had been building now for several days.

“There’s no need for it to be you, surely. Since you came back from Haven, your — health — has not been good. Lijou and Rhyaz don’t even know that the message is genuine. Are you positive someone else couldn’t . . .”

“I’m going”, he interrupted, the other’s slight hesitation not lost on him. “As head of AlRel, you know why I was asked for specifically.”

There was a short silence. “At least delay it by a day or two, Kusac. It shouldn’t make any . . ”

“I’m leaving at dawn, when I know Carrie’s had their cub,” he said coldly. “To delay any longer would be disastrous.”

“Preparations aren’t complete. They haven’t found a way to access the ship to re-provision it yet. Rhyaz says we risk everything if you leave so precipitously.”

The tenuous control snapped and he spun round, ears lying flat and to the side, tail visibly lashing beneath the purple-bordered black tunic he wore. “You risk nothing! Have you any idea of what these last few months have been like for me, cut off mentally from my Leska link with Carrie, and from Kaid?”

“I can imagine . . .”

“You cannot! Now get out of here and leave me alone! You’ve had my answer! I’m leaving as soon as their cub is born! You know I have to!” He spun back to face the window, his gesture an obvious dismissal to the older black-pelted male.

He waited for the sound of the door again before allowing his shoulders to slump in exhaustion. The life he’d lost during his captivity with the Primes was almost within his grasp again, and they were asking him to turn his back on it. More, this venture, which had no guarantee of even being worthwhile, would cost him his reputation: he’d be outcast, branded a traitor by his own kind, unable to return until the outcome cleared his name — if it ever did.

He leaned his head against the glass, welcoming its coolness against his face and hands. Winter was barely three weeks away. Nearly five months had passed since he’d returned from Haven after his release by the Primes, and still he’d not come to terms with what had happened to him. Certain events must be resolved, like the scents only he could smell that had lingered on the message.
He had to leave Shola now, before it was too late for him to get the answers he had to have.

Frustration and anger rose in him again and as his hair and the pelt beneath his tunic started to rise, he began to growl. The torc that circled his neck started to vibrate warningly. Ignoring it and the subsequent brief flare of pain the strong emotion still occasionally caused, he lifted his head, letting the growl become a full-throated roar that echoed round the room. Those who still remained in the almost-empty halls of Stronghold understood its cause — and shivering, turned to each other for reassurance.

As the echoes died away, he shuddered, trying to shake off the remaining discomfort and returned to looking across the moonlit landscape, far beyond Dzahai village, to where Kaid’s home lay. Like images on an entertainment comm, memories of his time on Haven began to form before his eyes.

 Five months earlier

Haven, Zhal-Zhalwae (month of the Sun God) 22nd day, 1551 (May)

With a jolt, sweating and shaking, he was suddenly awake. Strong hands gripped his arms, holding him firmly down on the bed. Terror surged through him as he imagined himself back in his cell on the Kz’adul, held once more by the armored Prime guard. The scent of his jailer, J’koshuk, the Valtegan torturer-priest, was strong in his nostrils. Fear kept his eyes tightly shut as he braced himself for the next blow from the electronic animal prod.

“Kusac, you’re safe on Haven with us”, said a quiet voice in Sholan. “You had a bad dream.”

He opened his eyes: by the dim light in the IC unit, he could see a vaguely familiar tan-pelted face looking down at him. The bed to one side of him moved. Confused, he slowly turned his head, aware of a stabbing pain in his neck as he did. All he could see was an indistinct figure leaning over the night table until the room began to brighten: he recognized her long blond hair instantly. Memory returned in a rush then: he was no longer the Primes’ prisoner, he was on the Brotherhood outpost of Haven, located far from Shola, on the borders of Chemerian space.

Carrie leaned over him, gently caressing his cheek. “You can let him go now, Kaid.”

The pressure on his arms was lifted as Kaid, still watching him carefully, sat back. He opened his mouth to speak, but only a faint croak came out.

“I’ll fetch you some water,” said Carrie, getting up.

Reaching for Kaid’s arm, he grasped it, using his friend’s strength to help him sit up. The sudden movement made him aware of a dull, throbbing headache. When Carrie passed him the glass, he drained it while she piled pillows behind him.

“How long have you been here?” he asked Kaid as Carrie urged him to lean back.

“I came up after the talks broke for the night.” Kaid nodded toward the chair not far from the bed. “I slept there. We’re a Triad, Kusac. Where else would I be but here with you and Carrie?”

Even as feelings blocked off too long by the Primes’ implant began to well up inside him, he felt the warning tingling at the base of his skull. Instinctively, he retreated behind the mental barriers that had given him some little protection from the tortures J’koshuk had inflicted on him. Then Carrie was hugging him, her warmth and scent driving the last remnants of the nightmare away. With one arm, he clumsily returned the embrace, his other hand reaching for Kaid, needing to touch them both.

“I’ve never been alone,” he whispered. “I’ve always sensed others around me. Now there’s nothing. I’m mind-dead.” It was a statement
of fact, like he might say his pelt was black. He felt numb, as empty of emotions as he had on the Prime ship.

“Your psi Talent will come back,” Kaid reassured him. “Until it does, we’ll never be far from you. Getting you back to full health is our
priority.”

“You’re not mind-dead,” said Carrie forcefully. “You just need time for your mind to heal now that the implant’s been deactivated and
removed.”

He remembered the implant and felt just under his jaw for the dressing that circled his neck. Like his head, it had begun to throb. He ignored it: compared to the unremitting pain J’koshuk had inflicted on him, it was nothing. “How much damage did it do?” he asked, trying to remember what Kaid had said the night before.

“Damage isn’t the right word,” said Kaid. “It was — invasive. With Valtegans who volunteer to become soldiers, its normal purpose is to take over the brain’s hormone production and release. It does this by growing tendrils that create their own neural connections in the brain. They’re not functioning now the control unit’s been removed.”

“He’s just wakened, Tallinu, it’s too soon to go into all these details.” Carrie said.

“I need to know,” he said, glancing at her. “What are these tendrils? Could they become active again?”

“Without the external unit, they shouldn’t be able to become active. The TeLaxaudin bio-engineered the implants for the Primes — they’re part device and part a living tissue that bonds with the host. You’re being kept in IC for the time being until the physician is sure your own system has stabilized and is functioning properly again. And in case you have another seizure,” Kaid added, hand tightening round his.

He’d forgotten about that. “Have they found out what caused it yet?”

“Them,” corrected Kaid gently. “You had more than one. No, we don’t know, but you haven’t had once since the unit was removed twelve hours ago, which is encouraging. Kzizysus, the TeLaxaudin physician, helped remove the implant. He’s taken copies of your scans and medical data back to the Prime ship to study, to see if he can discover what caused the seizures.”

“Chi’qui implanted me, he should have some idea,” he said sharply, his ears folding in the beginnings of anger.

Kaid glanced briefly at Carrie. “Kzizysus didn’t actually see you having the first seizure, Kusac. Doctor Chy’qui only called him in to adjust the implant. The subsequent seizures could have been caused either by a failure of the implant to take completely, or by it trying to adapt to your alien physiology. It wasn’t designed for Sholan use after all, only for the Valtegans.”

“Are you saying that there’s some doubt about whether I needed an implant at all? That this Chy’qui could have been lying?” He felt anger surging through him, bringing with it the familiar wave of pain. J’koshuk had inadvertently taught him how to cope with pain. After being cut off from his emotions for so long, it was almost a relief to feel anger, no matter the cost.

“It’s a possibility,” agreed Carrie, reaching out to touch him reassuringly. “We were only able to find out as much as we have because of Annuur, leader of Captain Tirak’s Cabbaran navigators. He was able to translate what Kzizysus said for us. The Cabbarans are old allies of the TeLaxaud — they have a natural talent that allows them to communicate with the TeLaxaudin more accurately than any other species.”

“Why did he do it?” he demanded, pulling his hand away from Kaid’s and sitting upright. “Why implant me if I didn’t need it?”

“To experiment on you and Carrie,” said Kaid. “Chy’qui knew you were a Leska pair, but he didn’t know about me until after Doctor Zayshul had operated on Carrie. He was the one responsible for keeping the three of us apart, and for letting J’koshuk torture you.”

His anger grew, exacerbating the dull aches in his head and neck. As his pelt and hair rose, so too did the pain level until he felt as if every nerve in his body was on fire. “I want to see Chi-qui now,” he snarled, shaking his head in an effort to relieve the pain as he tried to force himself back to calmness.

Kaid put a restraining hand on his arm. “No. It’s over, Kusac. Chy’qui’s been arrested by the Primes, not only for ordering J’koshuk to torture you, but for using you to try and kill Prince Zsurtul. He’ll be dealt with, believe me. I’m going to demand I be allowed to scan his mind later today. I want to know why you were implanted as much as you do.”

Thrusting Kaid aside, he flung the covers back, attempting to get up. “I want to see him myself. Dammit, Kaid!” he snarled angrily, fending off his sword-brother’s efforts to prevent him from rising, “Let me go! If not him, then Doctor Zayshul! I need answers!” In the distance, he could hear the faint sound of an alarm.

“I can’t allow you see any of the Primes while you’re in this state, Kusac.”

The door slid open, a blue-coated physician rushing over to them as Kaid used his full strength to force him back against the pillows.

“I told you he was to be kept calm!” snapped the physician.

His rage spiraled out of control, leaving his body wracked with pain. As the physician leaned over him, he caught sight of the hypoderm. Though every movement, every touch was agony, he twisted to one side, trying to avoid the medic’s hand while redoubling his efforts to escape from Kaid’s grasp.

“No sedatives! La’quo, they gave me la’quo, Kaid!” Then he felt the chill of the hypo nozzle touching his skin. “No! ” He was frantic
now, but as he felt the sting of the pressurized drug being injected, he knew it was too late. Even as he flinched, it began to take effect. He collapsed back on the bed, his limbs robbed of their strength as the drug swept quickly through him. As it did, the pain began to recede.

“Don’t want to sleep,” he said with difficulty, fighting to keep his eyes open as Kaid released him. “Dreams — always bad dreams.”

“There won’t be any, Kusac,” said Kaid, reaching out to run gentle fingers across his jawline. “The Physician knows about the la’quo. This sedative won’t activate any still in your system. I understand your anger at what Chy’qui’s cost you, but you have to let it go. Nothing can undo what you’ve been through, but he will be punished for it, you have my word. Rest easy now, we’ll stay with you.”

As he lost his battle to stay conscious, Kaid’s voice began to fade.


the Kz’adul, month of Zhal-Zhalwae 4th day (May)

The smell of unfamiliar antiseptics was strong in the air. Had they reached their rendezvous so soon? It seemed like only the night before he’d gone to sleep. Automatically, he reached for Carrie with his mind.

Pain exploded at the base of his skull, coursing down his spine then out to his limbs and tail. As spasms wracked his body, he yowled in fear and shock. He was falling, but back arched and limbs rigid, he was unable to move to save himself. He slammed into the floor, the impact knocking any remaining air from his lungs. Wave upon wave of fiery agony surged through his body as he lay there barely able to gasp for breath. It seemed to last forever, then as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped and his body went limp. But the pain remained.

Whimpering softly, he attempted to move his trembling limbs, tried to curl himself into a ball. Every movement, no matter how small, hurt; where his body touched the floor, where his limbs touched each other, it felt as if he was still being consumed by the fire that had surged through him.

He heard footsteps approaching and slowly tilted his head toward them. He knew fear as a scent he’d never thought to smell again filled his nostrils. Blurred images were all he could see because of the tears in his eyes; he blinked in an effort to clear them. The shapes resolved themselves into the hem of a red robe above a pair of booted feet.

“Your name is Kusac, and you’re my prisoner,” the Valtegan said, his Sholan overlaid by a faint lisping hiss as his tongue tried to form the alien sounds. “You have just had your first lesson in the futility of using your mind powers. Unless you enjoyed the experience, I suggest you don’t attempt it again. If you do, the collar you wear round your neck will respond by delivering the pain you just experienced. It also sends a signal to my wrist unit. I will then administer more pain. I control the amount, the severity, and its duration. In short, I control you.”

He tried to speak but his throat was so dry and sore that he began to cough, sending fresh agony lancing through his body. When the coughing ceased, he pushed himself up on his hands until his head and chest were clear of the floor. Reptilian yellow eyes regarded him dispassionately from a pale green face. On his wrist, the Valtegan wore what Kusac recognized as a control bracelet.

“What do you want from me?” he whispered. “Who are you?”

“I am Inquisitor Priest J’koshuk, lately in the service of General M’ezozakk, Planetary Governor to His Imperial Highness, Emperor M’iok’kul, may His name be revered for all time. Now I serve the Primes.” He indicated the guard standing several feet behind him.

He looked, and the sight made the knot of fear in the pit of his stomach swell. The guard stood like a statue, a pistol trained directly at him. Over the suit of black, non-reflective battle armor was a white tabard-like garment. He looked higher, seeing the almost-rippling surface of the face plate. Nausea welled up inside him and he looked away quickly. Where had the Valtegans gotten these allies from?

“Why am I a prisoner? Where are my companions?”

“I have told you all you need to know. Stand up,” J’koshuk ordered.

The pain was beginning to subside at last, and as he slowly pushed himself upright on his still-shaking limbs, he realized just who the priest was. M’ezozakk had been the Governor of Keiss, the Human colony world where Carrie had lived before the Sholans had liberated it from the Valtegans. J’koshuk had been the one responsible for torturing Carrie’s twin sister to death in an effort to gain information about the Human resistance movement there. How the hell had they gotten hold of the Profit and all aboard her? And what of Carrie, and Kaid — and T’Chebbi? Were they even still alive? Carrie must be, despite her injuries, because otherwise — he’d be dead too. Yet he couldn’t sense her at all.

Pain gripped him again, felling him to the floor. His nerves already inflamed by the previous punishment, this time it felt a thousand times worse. He lay there, keening his agony, unable to stop because somehow, it helped lessen the pain. Finally, it ceased.

“You took too long,” said J’koshuk. “Now get up.”

Every muscle in his body shrieked its objections as, still hypersensitized, he tried to move. Hands slick with sweat slipped on the tiled floor, unable to gain a purchase. He clawed at the gaps between the tiles, finally managing to get a grip and lift his head and shoulders. J’koshuk was reaching for his wrist unit again.

“No! For pity’s sake, no more,” he gasped, pushing himself up onto his haunches. “I’ll never stand if you do it again!”

“Pity?” said J’koshuk, thoughtfully. “An interesting concept. I have none,” he said, his voice suddenly cold. He pressed the button, releasing it again almost instantly.

This time, when the brief jolt of energy from the collar surged through his nervous system, his body arched upward and he found himself staggering to his feet.

“See how quickly you learn?” the priest said, turning his back on him. “You’ll follow me to your new quarters.”

“Wait! Where am I? Tell me what it is you want!”

J’koshuk stopped, looking over his shoulder. “I won’t tolerate curiosity in my captives,” he said, brow creasing. “I will not be so lenient next time. You have been told all you need to know for now. As for what I want, you’ll find out later, when you fully realize how dependant on me you are.” With that, the priest gestured to the guard. “Take charge of him.”

The guard stirred, then moments later another, wearing only the black armor, entered. Slinging his rifle over his shoulder, he strode toward him.

His mind seemed to freeze as, swaying slightly, he waited for the guard. It was only when the gloved hand closed round his arm, pressing tightly into his flesh that his mind began to function again. Powered armor. The Valtegans had had nothing like this on Keiss. What the hell was going on here?

He was afraid, mortally afraid, but as he was dragged staggering out of the medical area, Kaid’s training came back to him, giving him something to focus on other than his fear. With difficulty, he pushed it to the back of his mind and concentrated on his surroundings. The corridors told him nothing — they could be anywhere — a space station, a ship, or even a building complex on some world. The air was odorless, scrubbed clean by recycling plants.

Then J’koshuk and the white-robed Prime stopped at the open door of a small room, waiting for them. As he was led inside, he saw it contained only a bed and basic sanitary facilities.

The sound of an electronic translator speaking Sholan startled him, and he twisted around in the guard’s grasp to stare at J’koshuk and the Prime. As he did, the grip on his arm tightened viciously and he was jerked back.

“I will examine him before leaving you to your work,” it said. “I want to check that the drug levels are adequate.”

Drugs? What kind of drugs? He didn’t feel drugged.

“As you wish,” replied the priest.

Abruptly, the guard released him, turning him round before stepping back and unslinging his rifle. He took up a position in front of the still open door.

“Sit,” said the Prime, unclipping a small unit from the belt that circled his tabard.

The fear came rushing back despite his efforts to remain calm. The smallness of the room was amplifying it, making him feel even more trapped and powerless.

“I’d prefer to stand,” he said.

The next moment, he was staggering backward, his face burning from the force of J’koshuk’s slap. Colliding with the side of the bed, he found himself abruptly sitting down.

“When you are given an order, you will obey it instantly,” said the priest, his skin darkening with anger as he displayed a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth. “You will not speak unless given leave to do so. Do you understand?”

Too shocked by pain and the speed with which the Valtegan had moved to answer, he merely nodded.

J’koshuk’s hand lashed out again, to be caught in mid-air by the Prime. “Later,” he said. “I wish to examine him now.”

“He didn’t answer me,” said J’koshuk angrily, pulling his arm free.

“You did not give him leave to do so,” the translator said. The Prime reached out to take hold of him by the jaw. “I wish to examine the implant on your neck. You will sit still while I do this.”

Involuntarily, his hand went up to pull away the Prime’s. As his fingers curled round the gloved wrist, the Prime moved his grip until the thumb and index finger pressed deep into the soft tissue under his jaw, forcing his head up.

“Do not presume to touch me. You are not indispensable. We can get what we want from one of the other members of your crew. You will release me and you will sit still while I examine you, otherwise the priest will use the pain collar again.”

He let go, sitting there while the Prime put a small scanning device up to the left side of his neck. At least he’d gotten some information out of the alien. He now knew that they had everyone from the Profit. A wave of dizziness swept through him, blurring his vision and making him lightheaded. By the time it had passed, the Prime had left and the door was closing, leaving him alone with the priest and guard.

The side of his neck began to itch and he put his hand up to investigate. He was shocked to find a hard, regular — something — attached to the flesh just under his left ear. As he probed it carefully with his fingertips, he began to feel sick. Immediately he stopped touching it, the nausea disappeared.

“That’s the implant,” said J’koshuk, his tone conversational. “The Primes control it, and their drugs control your mind. Already your ability to communicate mentally with other members of your crew is being destroyed. It won’t prevent you trying, but when you do, it will alert the collar. Every time you feel any emotion but fear, it will trigger the collar and my wrist unit. You know what happens then. Pain.”

He tried to take in the enormity of what the Valtegan was saying, but his mind seemed to have shut down again and he could only stare blankly at him.

“You asked what I wanted from you. It’s not what I want, but what the Primes want,” J’koshuk said, moving closer. “Information about your people’s involvement on the Human world of Keiss. And the female they found in a cryo unit like yours.”

That roused him. They’d found Carrie. He prayed she was still in cryo because if she was, then it would be easier for him to face their inevitable deaths. “I’ll tell you nothing,” he said.

Another blow to his face sent him sprawling sideways across the bed.

“I didn’t give you leave to speak. Make no mistake, you’ll tell me everything I want to know. Eventually.” J’koshuk hissed quietly. “Especially if you want news of your Human female.”

As he pushed himself upright again, he realized what was wrong about this whole situation. J’koshuk had known his name. More, he knew about telepaths, and that Carrie was mentally linked to him. How had he found out? Surely none of the others would have told him?

“So she’s a telepath too?” The Valtegan’s voice was silky quiet.

He looked up sharply, realizing even as he cursed himself that he must have spoken aloud. What kind of drugs were they using on him? “She’s nothing to me,” he said, bracing himself for the pain he knew would come.

When it finally stopped, he lay there panting, waiting for the agony to subside.

“You lied to me,” he heard the priest say coldly. “I know that she’s your mate, that you’re linked mentally. You hurt only yourself by lying.”

“Then why ask me?” he gasped.

“Why did your people come to Keiss?”

If you’re taken, don’t try to play the hero, Kaid had said. There’s no one alive that can’t be broken, Kusac. All it takes is time and the right levers. Tell them what you can, what will do us the least damage. That way you might survive long enough to escape. It’s a game that you can only win by escaping or dying. Put a few lies in with the truth. Misinformation will help us, but be careful what you say because if you get it too wrong, they’ll kill you. They’ll know they can’t trust your answers, and you’ll no longer be of any use to them.

They mustn’t find out that Shola hadn’t been destroyed, that was what mattered here, not him, not Carrie. Their species’ survival was at stake.

“We were off-world when you destroyed our planets. We were looking for more of our kind when we found Keiss,” he said. He’d barely stopped speaking before the pain started again.

He felt disembodied, unable to concentrate on what the priest was saying as his hearing and consciousness kept fading in and out. Gradually he became aware of a throbbing in his face as he felt it being repeatedly slapped in an effort to bring him round. Eventually he found the strength to lift an arm to try and fend off the blows.

“We came to find missing crew,” he repeated slowly. “I told you, we didn’t know about the Humans.”

“How is it that you’re able to connect mentally and even breed with them?”

That was easy. “Vartra did it. He made us compatible.”

“Vartra? Who is this Vartra?”

“Our God. He did it. A blessing for some, a curse for others, to be Linked to a Human,” he mumbled.

“Was he your ruler? Did he die when we destroyed your worlds?”

He began to laugh as he squinted up at the priest. It hurt, but he couldn’t help it. Here he was, telling the literal truth, and no one in their right mind could possibly believe him.

“He’s dead all right, died over a thousand years ago!”

Pain exploded through his body again, but this time, mercifully, he passed out.

Stronghold, month of Zhal-S’Asha 18th day (October)

He came to with a start, looking wildly around the room, needing to touch the table then the chair on which he sat before he could believe he was really in the Senior lounge at Stronghold rather than on the Kz’adul. A shiver ran through him as he tried to dispel the memories of the pain and humiliation he’d suffered at the hands of J’koshuk.

In a way, he was grateful to the priest for stripping away the last of his illusions. Up till then, he’d led the privileged and protected life of a telepath, been sheltered from the harsher realities. He now knew the only constant in life was pain, everything else was transitory, a break or brief diversion, like his Link with Carrie. While they’d been Leskas, he’d been freed from the debilitating pain ordinary telepaths experienced if they tried to fight — their own and that of those they hurt. That respite had gone, replaced by something worse — the inability to even try to use what remained of his psi abilities without experiencing the agony brought on by the filaments left embedded in his brain by the Primes’ implant.

Sitting up, he scrubbed at his face then ran his hands over his ears and through his hair, pulling it back from his face. Episodes like this one had been lessening recently to the point where he’d thought they were finally over: he should have known better. He looked at his wrist comm; barely an hour had passed. It had seemed longer. Dawn was still four more hours away.

Resting his arms on the table, he lowered his head down to rest on them and closed his eyes. He needed some sleep before he left for the spaceport, but he couldn’t sleep, not while Carrie was in labor bearing the cub she and Kaid shared — the cub whose very conception had saved the lives of all three of them.

The mixture of drugs and the neural disruptor in the collar he’d worn on the Kz’adul had isolated him completely from his Leska Link with her. She’d not been so lucky. Wakened long before him, the time bomb that was their compulsion to mate every fifth day had been ticking away slowly from the moment they’d brought her out of cryo to operate on the near-fatal wound she’d received on Jalna. Only the fact they’d kept putting her back in a reduced stasis field had enabled her to survive.

As soon as they’d wakened him from cryo, because of their separation, their deaths would have been inevitable had it not been for the fact they were a Triad. Unable to reach him mentally, Carrie’s mind had subconsciously found Kaid’s and begun to bond with him. He’d been there when time had finally run out. Pairing with him wouldn’t have been enough, what had swung the balance was her fertility because of the Primes’ removal of her contraceptive implant. He owed his life to this cub, he had to wait till she was born, not least because as her Triad-father, he felt responsible for her.

He remembered when Carrie had given birth to their daughter, Kashini. She’d been so afraid, and in such pain. He remembered it well because he’d shared it through their Leska Link. He should be there now, sharing her pain with Kaid — he needed to be there! Anger and resentment flared as he thought of the message that had arrived at Haven a week ago. Damn them! All he’d wanted from life was to raise cubs with her and run his estate, instead of which, there she was with Kaid doing just that while he was the one heading off alone on a mission that was probably nothing more than an elaborate trap!

The torc round his neck began to vibrate gently, warning him. He clasped his hand to it, forcing himself to take slower breaths and turn his thoughts inward to the litanies, trying not to think of Kaid, the sword-brother who had taught them to him a lifetime ago. Slowly, very slowly, he became calmer and the vibration ceased.

Dawn was lighting the sky when he heard the door open again.

“Word’s just come from Noni. The cub’s been safely delivered and Carrie’s fine. It’s a daughter,” said Rhyaz.

Tiredly, Kusac lifted his head to look at the Brotherhood Warrior Master. His night’s vigil, haunted as it had been by memories, had exhausted him. “I know. Are the others ready?”

“They’re at the spaceport, yes, but we still haven’t got access to the Couana yet.”

“Then get Captain Kisha onto it,” he said, pushing his seat back from the table and getting to his feet. “If you can’t do it, I’m sure he can find an excuse to get Shaayiyisis out of the Couana long enough for your people to get my crew and supplies on board. Someone’s going to have to so we can take it. Just make sure it’s fully fueled. Three day jumps drain the reservoirs.”

“We’ve a day’s margin yet, Kusac. There is no need to accelerate the mission like this.”

“I’m leaving now,” he said, ignoring the censure in Rhyaz’s tone as he brushed past him into the corridor. He stopped, turning round to look at the Brotherhood Warrior Master. “Do you really want to run the risk of Carrie’s mind automatically Linking to mine again now her cub’s born? You’re the one who insisted I go on this mission in the first place!” He put all the anger and sarcasm he could into his tone.

“That’s a million to one chance, Kusac,” Rhyaz said uncomfortably, refusing to meet his gaze. “If you’re going, you’d better leave now. I’ll speak to Captain Kishasayzar. The disruptor will only give you a two hour window in which to launch the Couana without being tracked and followed by the Forces.”

“I thought as much,” he said, reaching out to place his hand on the Guild Master’s chest. Slowly he extended his claws and grasped hold of Rhyaz’ tunic. “You owe me for this, Rhyaz, and I’ll be back to collect, no matter what happens. Remember that.”


Shola, month of Zhal-Zhalwae 22nd day (May)

“You didn’t have me brought all the way out to Stronghold for a social chat, Lijou. I think it’s time you told me what this is about,” said Konis as he settled himself in the easy chair. “It can’t be bad news or you’d have given it to me at home.”

Lijou handed him a mug of c’shar before sitting down opposite him and placing his own mug on the small table beside them.

“We’ve had news from the Profit about your son.”

Konis sat up, hands clutching the chair arms, ears flaring wide to catch every nuance. “Get on with it, then!”

“I couldn’t tell you sooner because, until last night, we only knew that Carrie and Kaid were safe,” he began, but his friend interrupted him.

“Not Kusac? What happened to him? Is he all right? Where was he?” His questions came tumbling out in a rush.

“Konis, please hear me out,” said Lijou reaching out to touch him briefly. “When I’ve finished, you can ask all the questions you want, even speak to Carrie yourself.”

“Dammit, Lijou! Get to the point! How is my son?”

“He’s safe. We got him back last night during an exchange of hostages.”

“Hostages? They were captured then?” His friend’s voice was hushed now, and laced with fear.

“The Profit flew into a Valtegan trap just before it was due to go into jump. Then, barely a day later, both ships were taken by another craft that had been watching the Valtegans.” He stopped, wondering what to say next. “To cut it short, Konis, it turned out this larger ship belonged to another faction of Valtegans, the Primes, from the world that spawned them originally. They were on their way here seeking a treaty with us against the Valtegans that destroyed our two colonies and took Keiss from the Humans.”

“There are two worlds of Valtegans?” Konis asked faintly.

“More, four in all, but we can discount the fourth. Since their Cataclysm, its stayed at a cultural level similar to that of the Jalnians. The Valtegans we encountered at Keiss are known as the M’zullians, and they’re at war with those from J’kirtikk, their third world. The ones that took the Profit and the Valtegan ship are very different from them. For a start, they don’t have a psychotic hatred of us.”

Konis blinked in confusion, obviously making a visible effort to absorb what Lijou was saying. “It was the Primes who took them and held them prisoner?”

Even as Lijou flicked his ears in an affirmative, he realized he was not making a good job of this explanation. “Yes and no. As far as the Commander of the Kz’adul was concerned, the crew and passengers of the Profit were guests kept confined to their quarters. It was the M’zullian Valtegans who were the prisoners.”

“Then how did my son come to be a hostage?”

“It seems one member of the Prime crew, a Dr. Chy’qui, the medical officer in charge of some of our people, had other plans. An advisor to their Emperor, he was against this hoped-for treaty with us. He used his privileged position on the crew to imprison and antagonize our people to the point where he hoped the treaty would be impossible.”

“Antagonize? How? And how did this result in Kusac being a hostage?”

“It’s complicated, Konis. Carrie was brought out of cryo and healed of her injuries but Kusac was awakened much later and kept separate from everyone.”

Konis closed his eyes. “Their Leska Link! How did they survive?”

“The only way they could, just like Mara and Josh did when Zhyaf died. Because of their Triad, Kaid was able to form a Leska Link with Carrie.”

“And my son? What about him? You said he was alive. Zhyaf had to die for Mara and Josh to form their Link.” His ears were folding back against his skull and his fear was an almost palpable presence in the room.

“Kusac is alive, Konis, I assure you of that. He was kept separately from them because, according to this Physician Chy’qui, he had a series of life-threatening seizures as they revived him. He took the drastic step of implanting Kusac with a TeLaxaudin device in the hope that it would stabilize him. Apparently it did.”

Konis sat there as if carved in ice while everything around him seemed to slow down. Little things suddenly became vital to him, like the sound of birds cooing, the chirping of their chicks, and the ray of sunlight that suddenly fell on Lijou’s face, highlighting the streaks of white in the hair and pelt framing his face.

“Implanted where?” he asked finally in a hushed voice.

Lijou realized Konis had already guessed the answer. “In his brain. They saved his life, Konis,” he said quickly, leaning forward. “But it seems as if he’s lost his Talent.”

“You mean he can’t . . .” Konis stopped, unable to say the words.

“It’s as if he’s mind-dead,” said Lijou quietly. “I’m sorry, Konis. I wish the news hadn’t been so dark, but at least we have him back alive.”

“Without his Leska and his Talent, he might as well be dead,” said Konis numbly, looking away from his friend. “What kind of life is that for him, Lijou?”
“It may not be permanent. During the exchange there was an incident, an attempt on the life of our hostage, Prince Zsurtul. One of the M’zullians was controlling Kusac through the implant to make him aggressive. Kusac – neutralized – him by drawing on the energy of our other telepaths and triggering that gestalt he and Carrie have.”

Konis looked up at Lijou. “Neutralized? You mean killed, don’t you? Perhaps he suffered a back-lash, or maybe fear of what he did is blocking his Talent.”

Lijou could hear the hope in his friend’s voice. “This is my thought, and Carrie and Kaid’s. With the help of the TeLaxaudin physician, the implant has been removed and Kusac is no longer being controlled by it, but it has left components in his brain. Components that even the TeLaxaudin physician can’t remove, though he’s working on it for us. We’re doing everything we can for him, Konis, but we don’t have any Telepath medics at Haven.”

“Then there’s still hope,” said Konis, his ears beginning to rise again. “We have the best Guild Physicians on Shola available at Valsgarth, Lijou. If anything can be done, they’re the ones to do it.”

“They are. We’ve had some good news, though – the TeLaxaudin home world has contacted us. They’ll meet us at Jalna in a few days time to sit at the negotiating table. That means a treaty with them, and an exchange of ambassadors. Which also means an official channel through which to ask them to continue their research into helping Kusac regain his Talent.”

Konis leaned forward to take hold of his mug, taking a sip from his drink “They had a three way Link, Lijou. One far stronger than Mara and Josh had with Zhyaf.”

“I know, Konis. That Link’s what saved them.”

“There’s always a chance that when his Talent returns, his Link with Carrie will re-establish itself.”

“There is,” said Lijou, hoping his friend was right. To have had a love so closely bound to oneself that you knew her thoughts from moment to moment, then to lose that Link . . . He hoped they’d be able to keep Kusac sane for long enough to help him; he hoped that the same thought didn’t occur to Konis or Rhyasha.

“I want to speak to him, Lijou,” said Konis decisively, putting his mug back on the table.

“That isn’t advisable, Konis,” he said. “Talk to Carrie or Kaid. They can tell you more than Kusac at this time.”

Konis frowned. “Why not Kusac? What haven’t you told me, Lijou? Surely there can’t be worse to come?”

“He was only operated on last night, Konis. He’s still under sedation in the IC unit to make sure he has no more seizures, that’s all.”

“That’s not the whole truth, Lijou. I can tell you’re keeping something back. And you said these Primes were after a treaty with us. As head of Alien Relations, why wasn’t I informed?”

“Because we had no word on Kusac,” said Lijou quietly. “I couldn’t tell you that Kaid had led a successful escape, unaware that Kusac was still alive and on the Kz’adul. By the time they contacted us, they’d found out about him from their hostage. The blame is mine for keeping that information from you, but I couldn’t see you live in hope your son was still alive only to have it dashed if he wasn’t.”

“Just how long have you known that Kusac was alive?”
“Five days, but we didn’t know what state he was in.”

“State? I want the rest of the truth now, Lijou,” said Konis, his voice deepening in anger. “Kusac’s not mentally impaired in any other way is he? You said he’d been kept separately. What else was done to him? I had your word you’d tell us the moment there was news of him – I trusted you to do that, now I find you’ve waited five days!”

“His mind is sound, Konis. I told you as soon as we knew the state of his health,” said Lijou. “Till then, we only had a vision of Brynne’s, or the word of the Valtegan Prince Zsurtul to depend on. Frankly, as I’ve already said, I didn’t want to tell you he was alive on the strength of either of those. You’d have done the same to me had our positions been reversed, Konis, you know you would. I was only trying to spare you pain if the worst had happened, which, thank Vartra, it didn’t.”

He’d known his well-intentioned deception would come out into the light of day, and at the time had prayed that his friend would understand. He wasn’t yet a father, but he would be in a very few weeks. He knew what his delay had cost Konis, but he also knew what he had spared him.

“As to what else happened to him, he hasn’t been debriefed yet, we don’t know any details. Look into my mind and see if you wish, Konis. I only meant it for the best,” he said quietly. He didn’t want to lose this friendship. People like himself, a Guild Master of both the Brotherhood and the Priesthood of Vartra, had few friends. Every one he had was precious.

Konis sighed, his anger evaporating. “I don’t need to, Lijou. I know you intended the best. Vartra forbid it, but if there ever is a next time, tell me immediately! What about Carrie and the others? Haven’t you debriefed them?”

“Yes, and I have their report with me, along with the proposed treaty between us and the Primes. I need you to take over the negotiations, Konis. I’m sorry to have to ask you at a time like this, but you don’t need me to tell you what’s at stake right now. You’re our best negotiator.”

“Who’s been handling it up till now?”

“We have, through Kaid. An interim non-aggression pact has been agreed. We need you to go over the treaty proposals before we can send them to Kaid for signing. The Primes want our help against the other two Valtegan worlds. They lost their Warrior caste during their equivalent of our Cataclysm – their Fall. The Valtegans have three genetic strains, or castes, the Intellectuals, the Warriors and the Workers. The Primes have no Warriors at all, only volunteers who are implanted with a device similar to that used on Kusac to boost their aggression levels. Now that Jalna has been discovered by the M’zullians, they fear that it won’t be long till their world is found. Then they will need all the help they can get to protect themselves.”

With an obvious effort of will, Konis asked, “What of their own allies? Presumably they must have some.”

“The TeLaxaudin are slender, fragile beings, totally unsuited to any kind of conflict. What use they are to the Primes, we don’t yet know. As far as we’re aware, the Primes have no other allies. Let’s face it, in the days of their empire, they were busy enslaving other races: they must have made a lot of enemies. Now they use large craft like the Kz’adul to intimidate anyone they meet. So far, it’s worked, mainly because they keep themselves to themselves.”

“What’s their involvement with Jalna? And what do they want from us? Military aid?”

He flicked his ears in agreement. “Yes, in return they’ll give us technology which would enable us to break the Chemerians’ strangle-hold over all the Alliance. I wouldn’t like to guess how much more advanced the Primes are than even the Chemerians. They didn’t lose their technology during their Fall the way we did because it was mainly based in their walled Imperial city and survived their own global civil war virtually untouched. As for Jalna, it’s beginning to look like the Primes were heavily involved in setting it up as a trading port for the Free Traders, probably to ensure those species have no need to venture further into their space.”

“Give me the debriefing report now,” said Konis gruffly. “Once I’ve read it, I’ll talk to Carrie, then call Rhyasha and tell her about Kusac.”

Lijou picked up the comp reader from the table and handed it to him, aware of how close to breaking down his friend was. Only the importance of the task he’d been given was holding him together right now. “Would you like me to leave you on your own for a while?” he asked quietly.

“Yes, thank you, I would,” said Konis, blinking rapidly as he looked up at him. “I’m sure you appreciate that this has all been rather a lot to take in. When do you intend to go public with this? You realize you’re going to need a very strong campaign to sell the idea of friendship with these Valtegan Primes to our people in view of the destruction of our colony worlds by the other Valtegans.”

“We’ll start the campaign as soon as we’ve gotten the treaty sewn up as tight as the proverbial demon fish’s arse,” said Lijou with a slight attempt at levity. “If we call them Primes and paint them as also being victims of the M’zullian Valtegans, it will help considerably.” He got to his feet. “Send to me when you’re ready to contact Haven and I’ll arrange it. Can I get you anything? Some food, perhaps? I know you came straight from the Palace and missed second meal.”

“No. I couldn’t eat right now, Lijou.”

Lijou left the room, closing the door quietly behind him. Outside, Tamghi, an En’Shalla Telepath from Kusac’s clan was waiting for him.

“I sensed you were finished,” the young male said, falling into step beside him. “Master Rhyaz wanted to know how it went.”

“I’m on my way to join him so I’ll tell him myself,” said Lijou tiredly. “I appreciate your personal concern in this matter since your Clanspeople are involved. I succeeded in getting him to handle the Prime treaty for us. He’ll send to me when he’s ready to call them on Haven.”

“The last few months have been a dark time for him and his family,” said Tamghi. “At least events ended happily for his daughter, Liegena Kitra. I pray it works out as well for our Clan Leaders.”

“So do I,” said Lijou with feeling.


Haven, the same day

Carrie watched as the Physician placed his hand against Kusac’s throat, checking his pulse while watching the bio-monitor readings on the screen above his bed.

“I told you I wanted him kept calm,” said Vryalma angrily, glancing at her and Kaid. “Over-stimulation now could cause another seizure.”

“If he’s going to have one, better he has it now,” said Kaid. “He needed to be told what we know about his condition. Leaving it until later wouldn’t have changed anything.”

“He was a telepath. They’re protected, aren’t used to handling the harsher realities of life.”

“He’s a Brother and a Warrior now,” said Carrie before Kaid could. “He wanted to know.”

“That’s debatable,” said Vryalma, moving away from the bed, obviously satisfied with the readings. “I have my doubts as to how much of his early training you’ve actually affected. Deep down we remain what we were when we left childhood, and he was a telepath.” He waved them toward the door. “You might as well leave. He’ll sleep for the next five or six hours.”

“I’m not leaving him alone,” said Carrie.

“I’ll stay,” said T’Chebbi from the doorway. “Am here to relieve you for first meal anyway.”

“This is the intensive care unit, not a gathering place,” growled the physician. “There’s no need for anyone to remain with him, and certainly no justification for more than one of you even when he’s awake.”

“We’re a Triad,” said Kaid. “When he’s awake and I’m free, we’ll both be here.”

“That’s enough, Physician Vryalma,” said a new voice. “You’ve been briefed about their Triad, you know it’s imperative they be together whenever possible.”

Carrie went to greet L’Seuli as, muttering under his breath, the physician left.

“I’m still not used to your new rank,” she said, touching the gold insignia on the Brother’s uniform jacket.

“I’d hoped to find Kusac awake,” said Commander L’Seuli. “What happened? Not a seizure, I hope.”

“No. Kaid told him the full implications of the implant,” sighed Carrie. “He got angry, wanted to leave the sick bay and see Chy’qui. Then he – ” she nodded in the direction of the door Vryalma had gone out, “came in and sedated him.”

“To be fair, it was needed,” said Kaid. “Kusac’s not himself, Carrie. He told me the implant had robbed him of every emotion but fear. Now all the others are rushing in on him as he realizes what’s actually been done to him. It’s not surprising he should be angry and want to see Chy’qui for himself.”

“No one will be seeing Chy’qui, I’m afraid,” said L’Seuli. “When I contacted Commander Q’ozoi about your request to have Chy’qui scanned, he told me that when they reached the Kz’adul last night, the counselor had been found dead in his cabin on the shuttle. He committed suicide, apparently.”

“Very convenient,” said Kaid drily. “Now we’ll never know exactly what he was up to. Why the delay in telling us?”

“Autopsy. They found poison in his stomach and bloodstream, and a capsule on the floor by his body. Commander Q’ozoi is bringing a copy of their findings for us.”

Kaid grunted, nodding at T’Chebbi as they reached the door. “You’ve eaten?” he asked her.

She flicked her ears in an affirmative. “Take your time. I be fine here. Both of you look like you got little sleep last night. You need a break. Take it now while he’s drugged. Maybe not get much chance later. Besides, you got treaty talks soon.”

As they walked down the brightly lit corridor to the mess hall, L’Seuli handed Kaid a sealed document. “Father Lijou contacted Konis Aldatan to give him the news of your rescue and update him on the state of Kusac’s health. He’s agreed to work on the treaty with us. His amended copy of your proposals should be with us shortly. To give you an idea of his recommendations, here’s a draft copy of what he’s compiled.”

“That’s good news.” said Kaid. “The non-aggression pact and basic trading agreements I put together are pretty standard, but the military issues need to be formalized by Master Konis and Sholan High Command. I can only advise. Has Q’ozoi questioned Chy’qui’s staff to see if they know anything about his experiments on Kusac?”

“Underway. Again, he’s bringing a report of what they find out with him.” L’Seuli stopped, taking Kaid briefly by the arm. “Tragic as what’s happened to Kusac is, Kaid, it has put them at a severe disadvantage. They owe us because of it. Use it for all it’s worth. For all you and Carrie suffered too.”

“I already have,” said Kaid, his voice emotionless. “It’s what will secure us the Outposts we currently hold. We’ll have our own private treaty with them before the day’s done, L’Seuli.”

“Well done.”


“The Outposts were Valtegan,” L’Seuli said to Commander Rhyaz, adjusting the comm angle so he was looking directly at his Guild Master. “Part of a defense network that surrounded their empire.”

“Did Kaid discover the location of any more from them?” asked Master Rhyaz.

“No. They brushed his enquiries aside, saying they weren’t concerned with issues dealing with their old empire. They did admit to recognizing the Vah’koi, though. They aren’t interested in reclaiming either the four outposts or the ship and agreed to signing a private agreement with us acknowledging them as ours. Kaid also managed to get them to accept that the outposts, Haven, Anchorage, Safehold and Refuge, mark a buffer zone between Alliance and Freetrader space and themselves – a neutral area that the Brotherhood can guard and police against the raiders that occasionally attack Trader craft. More importantly, now we know the location of the two warring Valtegan worlds that attacked our colonies, and the Prime home world, we can monitor their every activity.”

“At last we know where to find our enemy,” said Rhyaz with satisfaction. “How did Kaid manage to get so many concessions for us?”

“By repeatedly reminding them his Triad had all suffered at the hands of Chy’qui, and that Kusac might still face the rest of his life mentally crippled.”

Rhyaz nodded. “At least some good has come from his suffering. Have you spoken to him yet?”

“I went up to sick bay this morning but he’d been sedated. He won’t wake till nearer third meal.” L’Seuli’s wrist comm buzzed briefly. “I have to go now, Master Rhyaz,” he said. “We’ll have finished discussing all the points in the treaty by second meal and be ready to sign it when we reconvene for our final session afterwards.”


Jeran and Manesh looked up as Sheeowl and Mrowbay approached their table in the mess. “Captain wants to see you on the Profit, Giyesh,” said Sheeowl, putting her mug of c’shar down before grabbing a seat from the adjacent table.

“I thought they were still using the landing bay for the Treaty talks,” said Giyesh, eyeing Mrowbay’s plate of assorted cakes and pastries. “You’ll get too fat to sit in your seat on the bridge if you eat that lot.”

“I’m just making up for the weight I lost on the Prime ship,” said Mrowbay, a pained expression on his face as he picked up a pastry. “It’s months since I had any nice nibbles.”

“Talks have moved into a room at the back of the bay,” said Sheeowl, taking a swig of her drink. “Captain’s overseeing a team of Sholan mechanics checking the Prime repair to our hull.”

Giyesh got to her feet. “I’d better be off. See you later,” she said to Jeran.

Jeran waited for her to move out of earshot before speaking. “What is it you want to say to me that Giyesh can’t hear?” he asked the two black-pelted U’Churians.

“You Sholans,” said Manesh, shaking her head. “It’s impossible to keep anything from you.”

“It’s about Giyesh,” said Sheeowl. “She says you’re coming with us when we leave. That true?”

“Yes. I’ve got nothing, not even a home to go back to. The Valtegans destroyed everything.”

“Is that what Giyesh wants, or just you?”

“Of course it’s what she wants.” He frowned, surprised at her question. “You think I’d want to stay if she didn’t . . .”

“How serious are you about her?” interrupted the engineer. “I don’t have the time to be polite. In a few minutes, she’ll find out the captain didn’t send for her.”

Jeran fought to keep his ears from folding sideways in anger. “I’m serious enough, but what business is it of . . .”

“Because if you aren’t serious, then don’t come with us. If she goes back alone, no one need to know about you,” said Sheeowl.

“Why’s it so important that no one knows about me?” he demanded angrily. “I know she should have stayed on Home and taken her first mate rather than come on this mission, but . . .”

“She took you as a lover,” said Mrowbay, licking his fingers. “That’s the problem. Because of you, none of the males on Home will have her as a mate.”

“That’s ridiculous!” he exclaimed. “She told me you take lovers between mates!”

“Between,” agreed Sheeowl, “but not before the first mating.”

“I know that, but what difference does it make? I’m not even one of your people!” He stopped, eyes narrowing. “Or is that the problem?”

“That makes it worse,” agreed Mrowbay, picking up another pastry.

“She’ll be an outcast, Jeran,” said Sheeowl. “Believe me, none of the males will take her as a mate. Ever.”

Jeran looked from one to the other of them. Were they lying, saying this in an effort to persuade him to stay with his own people? “She said nothing to me about this, and she was the one who suggested I stay on the Profit with her.”

“Is it worth the rest of her life?” asked Sheeowl.

“That’s unfair, Sheeowl,” said Mrowbay, glancing over at her. “You can’t expect him to be responsible for her for that long. His people don’t choose a partner for life any more than ours do.”

“Look, I don’t know what all this is about,” said Jeran, beginning to get angry. “But if you think you’re going to persuade me to leave her . . .”

“Not leave her,” said Mrowbay. “She can’t take you as a mate, but you can. Humans and Sholans do it, why not a U’Churian and a Sholan?”

“You want me to take her as a mate?” he asked incredulously. This was the exact opposite of what he’d expected.

“If she goes back with a mate, it would be seen differently,” said Sheeowl. “Then she hasn’t taken a lover, only chosen her first mate.”

Puzzled, he again looked from one to the other. “But I’m still an alien.”

Mrowbay sighed. “We’re trying to tell you that alien isn’t as big a problem as her not having a mate. It’s a matter of her honor. If you come back to Home with us and you aren’t her mate, then obviously you care nothing for her honor. As for being alien,” he shrugged. “You’re so like us, most people won’t see you as alien. Except for the color of your pelt, you could pass as one of us.”

“Giyesh should have told me,” he muttered.

“She wouldn’t,” said Sheeowl. “She’s young, but she’s a good taiban. She wouldn’t want to put pressure on you to do anything you didn’t want to do. It’s up to us as her family to look out for her.”

“Your people have a contract for mixed matings,” said Mrowbay. “Must have. Look how many have Human mates.”

“Bondings, and not all get bonded,” murmured Jeran, not sure this was what either he or Giyesh wanted.

“Kaid is. Brynne too.”

“Rezac and Jo aren’t,” he countered. “Bondings are a legal and social contract for those wishing to share their cubs, nothing more.”

Sheeowl snorted derisively. “Rezac and Jo would bond instantly if given the chance!”

“If they did, it would only be because they’re expecting a cub. There isn’t anyone here who can conduct bondings anyway.”

“Any of the Brothers currently attached to the religious side of your Brotherhood can. I asked.”

Jeran began to growl as he got to his feet. He’d had enough of them sticking their noses into his business.

Abruptly Sheeowl rose too. “I’ll see you later,” she said as Mrowbay reached out to catch Jeran’s arm and prevent him leaving.

“Jeran, wait,” the U’Churian medic said. “We’ll talk now she’s gone.”

“I think you’ve already said more than enough,” he snarled, really irritated now. He objected to being put on the spot like this by them.

“Not yet. You spent months imprisoned on Jalna, isolated from your own kind, yet you’re ready to come with us because of Giyesh. What’s so difficult about a entering into a recognized mating with her? That’s a smaller step than the one you plan.”

“Everyone I cared about has been destroyed, snuffed out like a candle, Mrowbay! I’m not ready to risk that kind of commitment to another person in case it happens again! She’s a soldier, dammit! She takes risks for a living!”

“We all are. And so will you if you’re with us,” the medic said calmly. “This is only another small risk, of not much matter to you. Take one of your contracts for a year. That would be enough. A year of your life in return for her being able to look our family in the eyes when she returns Home with you beside her. She’s prepared to stand by you without it. Can you do less for her now you know what it will cost her?”

Angrily, he jerked his arm free. “I’ll think about it,” he snarled as he left.

“Don’t take too long! We leave the day after tomorrow,” Mrowbay called out after him.


“He has to be debriefed, Sister T’Chebbi,” said Vriuzu, refusing to be intimidated by the tabby gray-pelted female blocking the door into the IC unit. As Stronghold’s chief telepath, on Brotherhood business, he knew his orders outweighed anything she could say. “What happened to Kusac is unlikely to be of much use to us, but for his sake, he needs to talk about it, get it out of his system and realize his mission is over. You should know that.”

“Kaid did that last night. Commander has his report,” she replied, staring fixedly at him.

“That wasn’t a formal debriefing. This is being done on Master Rhyaz’ orders. Now stand aside and let us enter.”

T’Chebbi gave a small hiss of displeasure as she caught sight of Dr Zayshul behind Dzaou. “Why are Primes involved if only a debriefing? You got no jurisdiction over us, we’re En’Shalla, in the hands of the Gods,” she growled, holding her ground.

“The Brotherhood as a whole is En’Shalla.” He was trying hard to remain patient, but Vartra knew, she wasn’t making it easy for him.

“Only we are En’Shalla Clan. Kusac is our Clan Leader, you know that.”

“The mission was for the Warrior side of the Brotherhood. It’s in your contract, Rhyaz has jurisdiction. Stand aside, T’Chebbi, or I will have to authorize the use of force.” Behind him, he heard Dzaou powering up his gun.

T’Chebbi’s lips pulled back, exposing her teeth in a snarl. “I move when Clan Leader Carrie arrives and tells me to,” she said, raising her arm to use her wrist comm.

“Hold it right there,” said Dzaou, stepping past the telepath priest, his pistol trained on her. “I’ll take your comm.” Imperiously, he held out his free hand. “There’s no need for anyone else to be present.”

As Vriuzu watched, the hair not captured by T’Chebbi’s long plait began to bush out in anger. He was glad he’d brought the Brother with him.

Snarling her fury, T’Chebbi held out her arm for Dzaou to remove the comm.

“I’ll take your gun while I’m at it,” he said, pocketing the wrist unit and reaching for the firearm that hung in the holster at her waist. “Your Liegena is sleeping right now. Circumstances are hard enough for her without disturbing her rest.” He gestured to everyone to precede him into the IC room.

“Not fooling anyone with this fake concern over my Liegena, Dzaou! You’re too xenophobic to care for anyone but Sholans!”

“Bring him round,” Vriuzu instructed Physician Vryalma, as he accompanied Dr Zayshul over to Kusac’s bed.

“Is this necessary?” asked Zayshul. “Surely this could wait until he awakens naturally.”

“My orders are to wake him, Doctor,” Vriuzu replied firmly.


Carrie woke abruptly, knowing instinctively something was wrong. Her conversation with her bond-father Konis some half an hour before had not been easy. That on top of her lost night’s sleep, had thoroughly exhausted her. With Kusac still sleeping, she’d let T’Chebbi persuade her to take a much needed nap.

She lay there, wondering what had wakened her when suddenly, a wave of excruciating pain exploded from her neck down her spine and out to her limbs. It was gone almost instantly, leaving her with the sure knowledge that Kusac was in trouble. Reaching out mentally, she sensed immediately what Vriuzu was trying to do.

Even as she threw back the covers and scrambled from the bed, Kaid sent a questing thought in her direction.

“Vriuzu’s attempting to scan Kusac against his will,” she replied, grabbing her shoes and stuffing her feet into them. “I’ve dealt with him and am on my way there now. He’s got Dzaou holding T’Chebbi at gun point.”

“Rezac’s on his way as backup. He’s met Jeran and is taking him too. Get Kusac out of there — take him to our room. Guard him from everyone but us. I can’t leave this meeting yet.” His mental tone was one of suppressed fury.

She left the room at a run.

The ante-room was guarded by Ngio, one of Dzaou’s people. She slowed down, approaching him as if to talk, lightly scanning his surface thoughts all the while. When the door behind her burst open to admit Rezac and Jeran, it gave her the opportunity she needed: he never saw the blow that laid him out.

Rezac gave a grunt of approval as he and Jeran drew their guns before flinging open the door into the IC room. Unexpectedly, it was Vriuzu, ears flat against his skull, who was being helped to his feet by the Physician. The stench of fear — Sholan and Valtegan — filled the small room. Carrie remained near the door, guarding it as the two males moved in to secure the room and disarm Dzaou.

“You bastard!” Kusac snarled at Vriuzu, as, holding onto the chair beside his bed for support, he tried to stand. “You had to force me, despite what I told you about my mental blocks. Now you know what a Valtegan punishment collar does when you try to use your Talent!”

“I had my orders, Kusac,” Vriuzu said, his voice unsteady. “We needed to know what you’re hiding behind those blocks. Now we do. There’s not a damned thing wrong with your Talent! How else could you have attacked me . . .”

“Shut up, Vriuzu,” Carrie snapped, going over to help her mate. “I made sure you experienced the pain you caused Kusac. You had no right to do that! You violated his privacy — put his health, possibly his life, at risk! Even we don’t dare touch his mind!”

“He’s a security risk! We don’t know what else Chy’qui programmed into him!” exclaimed Dzaou as he, along with Vriuzu and the physician, was herded to the far side of the room under the watchful eyes of Jeran and T’Chebbi.

“That’s not true,” interrupted Zayshul. “I’ve examined the tape. Chy’qui was only interested in killing Prince Zsurtul, nothing more. Kusac is no threat to you. Had my request on behalf of my TeLaxaudin colleague to give him a post-operative examination been granted, I could have told you that. There was no need to subject him to this treatment. I shall be telling Commander Q’ozoi about this!”

“Your objection is noted, Doctor,” said Vriuzu, still holding onto the Sholan physician for support.

T’Chebbi meanwhile, treated Dzaou to an open-mouthed Human grin as she held out her hand. “I’ll have my comm back, too,” she purred.

Angrily, he reached into his pocket and gave it to her.

Carrie turned to look at the Valtegan female, noticing that her usually light green skin had darkened considerably. “What are you doing here anyway? I thought you were involved in the Treaty talks down on the flight deck.”

“Our respective Commanders decided I should be at the debriefing so I could make a full report on what Kusac said.” She hesitated. “And explain what I could of the events to him.”

“And did you?”

Kusac’s hand closed on Carrie’s wrist. “There wasn’t time. Vriuzu did the scan almost as soon as I woke.”

“The bastard!”

“I want this debriefing, Carrie. I need to know what happened to all of us, not just me. But not with him . . .” he indicated Vriuzu with a flick of his ear. “Not with him or the others here.”

“Let Vriuzu stay,” said Rezac unexpectedly, keeping his eyes as well as his gun trained on the Brotherhood Telepath. “He has to or the debriefing won’t be official. I’ll see he doesn’t step over the line again. I know a trick or two that will make sure he doesn’t.” He gave a gentle laugh that held no humor.

Kusac looked at her and she could tell by his expression that he was asking her mutely if they could trust him.

Her heart went out to him as she leaned down to whisper in his ear. “That’s Rezac, remember, Kaid’s father? Yes, we can trust him. He’s like us now, En’Shalla, and part of a Triad with Jo from Keiss. Remember, Vartra said he was one of the first telepaths that he enhanced.” She hesitated, then standing up said more loudly, “Kaid wants us to leave the debriefing and take you to our room so we can keep the likes of Vriuzu away.”

“There can be no debriefing without me present and able to vouch for the truth,” said Vriuzu.

“You’re experienced enough to know the feel of the truth without scanning,” said Carrie, glancing over at him. “And you can drop your link with Jiosha: she’s no business being involved. Tell her not to bother sending reinforcements. It would hardly do for Kaid to disrupt the peace talks over this internal matter, would it?” She had the satisfaction of feeling his shock at her knowledge of the link.

“I want to know what just happened to me, why I felt the pain from the collar again,” said Kusac, leaning heavily on Carrie as he started to sway. “It comes at other times. When I’m angry.”

Zayshul began to move toward them but brought herself up short as Rezac swung round, gun aimed at her. Carrie snapped out a reminder that they were now allies and he dipped his ears in apology and lowered his gun.

“Sorry, Doctor,” he mumbled. “Old habits.” He turned back to Vriuzu.

“He needs my help,” said Zayshul, still keeping a wary eye on Rezac as she came closer. “I think I know what happened, Kusac. The collar Chy’qui put on you wasn’t a regular punishment collar. It was one modified to inhibit telepathy as well. He must have brought it with him from the City of Light. We haven’t used them since the days before the Fall. I can only assume he must have gotten it from a museum.”

“I remember them,” said Rezac with a rumble of anger. “The pain they caused whenever you used psi abilities was excruciating. Like fire coursing through your veins.”

“Just so,” Zayshul agreed. “When Vriuzu tried to push past those blocks, you probably responded automatically, using those areas of your brain where your abilities were. You expected pain, therefore you felt it.”

Kusac groped for the bed behind him and sat down.

Carrie could see his nose creasing in pain as he put his hand carefully to the side of his neck. “You can conduct the debriefing if Doctor Zayshul says he’s fit enough,” she said to Vriuzu. “You,” she said, turning to Vryalma. “Some physician you are! What happened to your oath of healing, to putting the patient first? You were the one who wanted him kept calm to prevent any more seizures! Get out of my sight! And see the ventilation is turned up in here. The place stinks! T’Chebbi, go with him. Bring what drugs you think we might need.”

“Aye, Liegena,” she said.

“Take them outside,” said Zayshul, indicating the group T’Chebbi was guarding. “I can’t conduct a medical examination with them in here.”

“You heard the Doctor,” Carrie said.

“You, too,” added Zayshul.

Carrie’s eyes narrowed as she looked up at the Valtegan female. “No,” was all she said.

Kusac’s hand tightened round hers. “Please.”

She hesitated, torn between what he wanted and what her instincts told her was wise. “I’ll wait by the door, but I won’t leave,” she said. “If I hadn’t been persuaded to rest, this never would have happened.”

“The debriefing was inevitable,” said Kusac, his voice full of pain as he gently massaged his neck. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“Debriefing be damned! This is an official enquiry!” she said angrily. “They had no right to hold one with neither Kaid nor myself present!”

He squeezed her hand again as T’Chebbi returned carrying a tray for Zayshul. “Go, I’ll be fine. It’ll only take a few minutes. Zayshul was the one who helped me on the Kz’adul, remember?”

“I’m not leaving the room,” she repeated mutinously, returning the squeeze before reluctantly letting him go and following T’Chebbi to the door.


“I’ve been hoping to see you,” Kusac said in an undervoice as Zayshul placed herself between him and Carrie’s line of sight.

“You mustn’t touch the wound,” she said, her voice equally quiet as she moved his hand aside and began unwrapping the bandage round his neck. “It will take longer to heal if you keep disturbing the dressings.”

“No one must know that you came to me the night before the exchange of hostages.”

She continued unwrapping the bandage before replying. “I told you, it wasn’t me, Kusac,” she said, laying it aside. Bending over him, she lifted the dressing off. “They did a neat job. Not much swelling. It should heal quickly.”

As she reached for the fresh dressing, he caught hold of her wrist. “Why are you lying? I know it was you, I recognize your scent!” Her behavior confused him.

“Be quiet!” she hissed. “Let me go now, before your mate sees you!”

“Why are you lying to me?” he demanded. “I know why I’m hiding it from my people, but why won’t you at least admit it to me?”

She froze, green eyes blinking slowly at him, the ridges surrounding them meeting in the middle of her forehead. “That’s why the mental blocks, why you don’t want to be scanned,” she whispered. “That’s what you’re hiding from them!”

“What’s wrong?” Carrie called out from the doorway.

Kusac dropped Zayshul’s hand as if scalded, noticing as he did that her non-retractile claws were much shorter than J’koshuk’s had been. “Nothing,” he said loudly as Zayshul straightened up and reached for the dressing pack and new bandage. “She says it will heal quickly, that’s all.”

Once more, Zayshul bent over him, placing the dressing over his wound. She began to wrap the fresh bandage over it. “You recognize my scent?”

Her voice was barely more than a whisper and he had to strain his ears forward to hear her. He made a small, exasperated noise, noticing her skin had paled. “How could I not? You came into my bed, Zayshul. I may have been drugged and tortured, but I’m not stupid, despite appearances at the time!”

“I know you’re not,” she said, sealing the end of the bandage to itself. She took a small flashlight from her pocket, reaching out to take hold of his chin with her other hand. Briefly, she shone it into each eye. “I’ve said nothing, nor will I,” she whispered, letting him go. “I’ve no wish for anyone to know about the . . .” She faltered briefly. “Our night together.” She placed her hand against his neck, feeling for his pulse. “You’re in pain.” She took hold of him by the chin again, turning his face into the light. “Quite a lot of pain.”

He sighed with relief. “You admit it, then.”

She reached for the hypoderm, checking the phials of drugs on the tray before choosing and loading one. “It isn’t easy for me,” she said, administering the shot. “That should take care of the pain. No matter what you’ve seen the M’zullians do, we Primes do not have a recent history of cross-species — liaisons. When did you last eat?” she asked in a more normal tone.

Kusac blinked in surprise, taken aback by the sudden change in topic. “I haven’t been awake long enough for them to give me anything.” As he said it, his stomach growled in hunger.

Zayshul looked across at Carrie. “He’s weak because he needs food. The last meal he had was on the Kz’adul, a day ago. Have something light brought for him. Once he’s eaten, the debriefing can go ahead.”

Carrie pushed the door behind her open and spoke to T’Chebbi.

As Zayshul replaced the hypoderm on the treatment tray, she noticed her hand was shaking slightly with a mixture of anger and fear. How could that damned female N’koshoh have been stupid enough to scent-mark him? It wasn’t as if she could be under any illusions that he’d be kept on the Kz’adul. Everyone had known they were exchanging the hostages the next day. What insanity had prompted her to do that?

A surge of satisfaction that N’koshoh was dead, likely at the hands of Chy’qui, flooded through her, shocking her with its intensity. She wasn’t normally a vindictive person, but for N’koshoh to go to Kusac in the night, callously drug him into compliance then virtually rape him, just to further Chy’qui’s mad scheme to breed hybrid Sholans, was morally unforgivable. Even worse was the fact that she’d been unable to find a trace of the samples she knew had been taken. Now she knew for sure what had happened, she’d have to tell the Commander.

N’koshoh’s marker could be turned off, but not here and now with all his family around them. Besides, she wasn’t sure she could be that intimate with him, even if the opportunity had presented itself. At least the changes scent-marking instigated in males did lessen with time. He wasn’t remaining among her people, he was returning to his own world, likely to live out the rest of his life there now he’d lost the telepathic skill that had made him so invaluable to his own kind — unless the TeLaxaudin came up with some cure. The thought wasn’t as comforting as it should have been as she remembered that he’d already been subtly altered by the implant. There was no way she could check what effect the pheromone transfer would have on him in the long term, unless they confessed the whole matter to the Sholans. And there was no way they could do that without risking the treaty.


Between Darkness and Light Excerpt by on

CHAPTER 1

The Venture II, Zhal-S’Asha 29th day (October)

A message beacon at the rendezvous point, responding only to Kusac’s voice, had redirected them to new coordinates where the destroyer N’zishok was waiting for them.

Captain Zaykkuh instructed them to dock the Venture 11 in the ship’s landing bay.

As they made their approach, Kusac looked round his crew of four. “This time, we really could be walking into a trap,” he said. “I’m prepared to risk myself, but no one else. You can drop me off and go back to Haven.” He still wasn’t sure whether or not he was glad of their company.

“We made our own decision to join you,” said Jayza.

“There’s no way I’m leaving one of our cubs with aliens like them,” growled Dzaou.

He stared fixedly at the tan-pelted male, frowning and swivelling his ears forward. “I’m still in charge, Dzaou, remember that. I want no unauthorized rescue attempts. You’ll not put either the cub’s, or our lives at risk.”

“Kezule’s request could be genuine enough,” said Banner, looking briefly away from his consol at him. “He seemed pretty reasonable, wasn’t at all what I expected.”

“Never forget Kezule is a Valtegan,” he said. “He’s not a Prime. After his escape, he beat his Sholan female companion almost to death then raped her. Don’t be fooled by his apparently civilized behavior toward us.”

“Keeza agreed to go into his prison cell with him,” said Banner. “She was working undercover. He needed to pair with her to save her life.”

“After he’d bitten her to inject a poison that made her protect him while he hibernated to heal!” he said harshly. “Kezule’s dangerous; Valtegans are stronger and faster than us. To them we’re inferiors, not even worth considering as people.”

“How do we tell Primes from Valtegans?” asked Jayza, breaking the small silence that had fallen after his outburst.

“All the females, and all lighter colored males are Primes,” he said moderating his tone. “The only other Valtegans are the M’zullian half-breed warriors like those we have on Shola. Be especially careful with them, they could still have a psychosis about our species.”

“Approaching their landing bay now,” said Banner as the entrance to the N’zishok loomed large in the main view screen.

“Take us in,” he said as they returned their attention to their work.


Wearing his black priest’s robe over his uniform tunic as a way of setting himself apart from his crew, Kusac began to lead the way down the Venture II’s ramp, cautiously feeling the way ahead with his mind. This time there were no psi dampers in the docking bay. He sensed some twenty people in the near vicinity, mostly in small groups of two or three. Just as he focused on the largest, a group of six, his torc began to vibrate gently, automatically warning him that his mental touch was too strong and he was risking discovery. Instantly, he drew back.

The coldness of the deck beneath his bare feet made him shiver, reminding him this time of his return as a Valtegan hostage at Haven so many months before. Dismissing the memory as irrelevant, he put his small kit bag on the ground and watched the welcome party cross the landing bay toward them. Peripherally, he was aware that only one other vehicle was in the bay and that the other Primes present were involved in refueling and servicing it.

“I’ve sealed the Venture as you ordered, Captain,” murmured Banner, coming to stand on his right. “No one but us can get in.”

He nodded, studying the group of four green-clad soldiers that came to a stop in front of them. The lead two, dressed in black fatigues with gold details, were Primes. All carried side arms.

“I thought you said there was only one Valtegan here,” muttered Dzaou.

“M’zullians, like those we have on Shola,” reminded Banner quietly.

“Captain Aldatan,” said the lead male, taking a step away from his people. “Welcome to the N’zishok. I’m Lieutenant M’zynal, head of security, and this is Lieutenant Shartoh.”

He studied the young male in front of him, aware of his hackles beginning to prickle as he smelled the other’s scent. The same height as himself, just over six feet tall, the Prime’s flesh was pale green with a slight sandy colored tint to it. The round, hairless skull was topped by a ridge that began just above the brows. Large eyes, almost bulbous, regarded him unblinkingly. Under a nose with small vertical slits for nostrils, the wide, almost V shaped mouth held scores of tiny, pointed teeth.

M’zynal indicated the male on his left. “I’m afraid I must ask you to hand over your weapons before we can escort you to your quarters. You won’t be needing them while you’re with us.”

He’d anticipated this. The la’quo pellet gun, broken down into its innocent-looking component parts, was stowed in various locations throughout his bag. He was confident that neither it, nor the pellets concealed inside a jar of tooth cleaning paste, would be discovered. The spray he’d left lying in a drawer of personal items in his cabin, hoping by its very anonymity it would pass any search.

“We’re prisoners, then,” he said, reaching for the gun that he carried in plain view on his weapons’ belt.

Lieutenant M’zynal looked slightly shocked, his bifurcated tongue flicking out briefly. “Not to my knowledge, Captain. On the contrary, we’ve been told to treat you with all courtesy. Even we don’t normally go armed on the N’zishok.”

His companion gestured two of the M’zullian guards forward to take their weapons.

“Knives too,” Shartoh said as he watched them hand over their firearms. “You understand, I’m sure, that we’ll have to search you and your luggage once we reach your quarters.”

Dzaou let out an exclamation of rage, silenced only when Kusac raised his hand warningly. “Our knives aren’t considered weapons,” he said, his voice deceptively soft. “They’re eating utensils and the badge of our graduation from the Brotherhood itself. We won’t remove them.”

Shartoh hesitated, looking to M’zynal for instructions.

“Will you give me your oath they’ll not be used as weapons?” the young Prime asked.

Kusac stepped forward, holding his palm up in front of the startled Lieutenant’s face, and tensed his fingers. Five claws, each nearly two inches long, almost as sharp on the inner curve as they were pointed at the tip, slid out from their sheathings in his fingers.

Startled, the Prime nevertheless held his ground.

“You think we need knives, Lieutenant M’zynal?” he asked, a faint purr underlying the words. The claws retracted, his fingers relaxed and were once again a hand. “No more than you do.”

“You may keep your knives,” M’zynal said, his voice betraying only a slight quiver. “As you rightly reminded me, we both have formidable enough natural weapons. However, we’ll still need to search you and your belongings once we reach your quarters.” He indicated the elevator at the far end of the landing bay. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you where you’ll be staying for the next few days until we reach our base.”


Gradually lowering his mental shields and increasing his sensitivity, he allowed himself to passively absorb the thoughts of those around him as they followed M’zynal. During their journey here, as well as erasing Banner’s memory of his masquerade of L’Seuli at Haven, he’d managed to relearn how to gauge the amount of mental filtering necessary to cut out most of the white noise and concentrate only on the minds he wanted. There was little he could glean, though, as he hadn’t yet remastered the skills required to read alien minds, and all the Primes and Valtegans had strong natural mental barriers.

“Your weapons will be returned to you when you leave us,” said M’zynal. “While you’re with us on the N’zishok, and at Kij’ik, our base, your access to certain areas will be prohibited for security reasons. However, you’re free to come and go as you wish throughout the rest of our facilities. Unless, of course, we’re actually working together.”

He could feel Dzaou’s smouldering resentment and turned his head to glance at Banner. Before he could say anything, his Second flicked an ear in affirmation and fell back to take hold of their gunner by the arm. Briefly he wondered what psi gift the other had that was now allowing him to second-guess his concerns.

“What kind of work?” he asked a they entered the elevator.

“Training,” said M’zynal. “And comparative anthropology.”

“What makes you think I know anything about either?” he asked as they began to move upward.

M’zynal’s round yellow eyes regarded him unblinkingly. “We know you’re a member of Sholan Alien Relations and that you were involved in training the twenty warriors we sent to you,” he said quietly. “Don’t underestimate us, Captain. We’re not like the Valtegans you met at Keiss, nor those you have on Shola. You know very little about either the General’s time or the Prime culture.”

He was the one who looked away, uncomfortably aware that the young Prime was right.

“Where is Kezule?” he asked abruptly. “And the Sholan cub?”

“The General and his wife have had to return to our base, but he asked me to tell you that he’s looking forward to meeting you in just over a week’s time.”

He cursed softly. This he hadn’t anticipated. “And the cub?”

M’zynal looked at him oddly and he felt the other’s curiosity that he should be so interested in a hatchling. “With the General. He keeps him with him at all times. Shartoh will show you round once we’ve gotten you settled. The cabins are standard Prime ones with the low form-fitting sleeping mats. Its only for three days, though. Once we reach Kij’ik, you’ll find the beds there are the regular kind.”

“I take it you don’t like the low mats,” Kusac said, glancing back at him. He knew all about the communal sleeping arrangements and mats on the Kz’adul and began to wonder if this young officer was indeed a Prime despite his lighter coloring.

“They don’t suit everyone,” M’zynal said as the elevator stopped.

They followed him down the corridor till he came to an open door. “This is yours and the two next door are your crew’s cabins. You all have your own showers and toilet facilities, and the Officers’ lounge is at the end of the corridor on your right.”

He looked in, coming face to face with another Prime officer. With an exclamation of surprise, he stepped backward into M’zynal.

“This is Noolgoi,” continued the Lieutenant, a trace of pain in his voice as he put a steadying hand under Kusac’s elbow.

“I can manage!” Kusac snapped, pulling away from him and turning back to the room. The other male had exited and backed off down the corridor by a few feet, looking as rattled as he felt. He could smell the faint scent of apprehension from him and realized Noolgoi had gotten as much of a shock as he had.

More cautiously this time, he looked inside. It was a standard single occupancy cabin with a desk and chair, and a couple of easy chairs and table. Beyond it he could see the open doors to the bedroom and the bathing room. It seemed spacious enough.

“Will the doors be locked?” demanded Dzaou before Banner could prevent him.

“Ah, thank you for reminding me.” M’zynal dug deep in his uniform jacket pocket and pulled out a small packet. “Your keys, Captain,” he said, holding them out to Kusac. “There’s one for each of you. The General assumed you’ll want to lock your quarters when you’re not in them.”

Gesturing to Banner to take the key cards, he stepped inside.

“Noolgoi will show you the Officers’ mess and recreation lounge on this deck once you’ve settled into your cabins. If you’ll allow us to do the search now, Shartoh can take you on a tour of the ship before our evening meal,” said M’zynal. “You can join us in the Officers’ mess or eat in your rooms if you prefer, just call Noolgoi on the desk unit and let him know your choice.”


TeLaxaudin home world, Ghioass, same day

“He wakes,” he heard Naacha say quietly.

“About time,” a deeper voice replied. Sokarr’s.

Annuur stirred, feeling a deep ache in every bone and joint. At the edges of his mind, he sensed the presence of his three sept companions, felt their concern for him. Naacha, the mystic, his mind calm as always, his concern masked with his customary gruffness even there; Lweeu, mate and life-giver to them all, her youthfulness betrayed by the constant sea of half-formed fears and worries that she tried to keep to herself; and finally, Sokarr, their nurturer . . .

His eyes flew open and he lifted his head sharply to look at Sokarr, trying not to groan out loud at the pain it caused. His last coherent memory before being thrown from his navigation couch against the far bulkhead had been of watching one of the ceiling struts falling toward Sokarr and Lweeu and being unable to warn them.

“I thought you were dead,” he said lamely, realizing even as he spoke that the Camarilla must have retrieved them. Only on their home world or here – though his surroundings looked like the med level on Anchorage, he knew it wasn’t – was Unity possible without the neural nets.

“I was,” said Sokarr, leaning forward to touch noses briefly. The wave of affection that surrounded him was unrestrained. “Your injuries were greater. Four of our mystics were needed, as well as the TeLaxaudin physicians, to heal all the broken bones and damaged organs in your body. My own were slight by comparison.”

Four? Since their mystic had joined them, he’d never known an occasion when Naacha hadn’t been able to handle healings – even a simple death – on his own. He was one of the most powerful.

“He understates, as usual,” said Naacha gruffly from the end of his bed. “An hour more, maybe two, and I could have done nothing. He’d have stayed dead.”

As sparing as Naacha was with words, Annuur knew better than to discount him when he did speak. Lowering his head, he looked at Lweeu, knowing she was always a good barometer for the mood of the sept as a whole. Her eyes sparkled too brightly and between her mobile ears, her short crest of stiff hair was constantly moving. She was very distressed. He hadn’t realized he’d been so close to death. It had obviously been a near thing for both himself and Sokarr.

Clenching his teeth together, Annuur pushed himself slowly upright, trying to ignore the swirling of the room. Finally he was sitting on his haunches. “We achieved the Camarilla’s goal and survived,” he said faintly, reaching out an unsteady forelimb to Lweeu. “Without risking our U’Churian family.”

Gratefully she took hold of his hand, making soft chittering noises of comfort.

Naacha grunted, dropping back down onto all fours. “Camarilla don’t interfere lightly. More trouble ahead.”

“This was a major intervention,” agreed Sokarr, looking across Annuur’s bed to the window beyond. “They will need us again.”

Annuur followed his gaze. In the distance, the shapes of five Watcher ships could be clearly seen, the sixth shrouded behind a covered armature.

“All will need to be processed,” said Lweeu, following his gaze. “Captain Tirak is not pleased at what we did.”

“Tirak’s awake?” asked Annuur, surprised.

“They could not stay in the ship while it was being repaired,” said Lweeu.

“What’s he said?”

“Nothing, yet. He waits for you,” replied Naacha, trotting round to the side of the bed and rearing up on his haunches again.

“Someone has a sense of humor to allow the rest of our family to be wakened during this time,” Annuur murmured, glancing at Naacha. He found himself unable to look away from the swirling blue tattoos on the other’s cheeks until he felt a hand touch the underside of his jaw and raise it.

Naacha’s eyes held his as firmly as his hand held his chin. “Glad am I you are still with us, Phratry Leader,” the mystic said quietly before releasing him.

Surprise and pleasure washed through Annuur in equal measures. He knew that Naacha had chosen to join their sept out of the many that had courted him, but he hadn’t known till now that their taciturn mystic cared so much for them.

“So am I,” he said with heartfelt sincerity, beginning to sway slightly as his aching body started to tremble with the effort of remaining seated.

Naacha leaned against him, offering him support just as the door opened. The TeLaxaudin Azwokkuss, his bronze spindly limbs partially concealed by the colored strips of drapery that fell from his waist and neck, stood there. A faint thrumming filled the air before he began to speak.

“Your Captain have I brought,” he said.

“Azwokkuss said you were awake,” began the black-furred U’Churian coming into the room. He stopped dead, mouth falling open in shock. “Sokarr! But . . . You were dead! We left your body in the . . .” He ground to a halt.

“Azwokkuss definitely has a sense of humor,” Annuur murmured very quietly as Naacha helped him to lie down.

“The cold, it must have been the cold,” Tirak said, starting forward again. “It put you into suspended animation.” He stopped at the foot of Annuur’s bed, eyes wide, ears disappearing into his mane of black hair.

“You haven’t a mark on you,” he said in a voice so quiet they had to strain to hear him. Leaning down, he grasped the end of the bed for support. “I don’t understand. It’s only been five days, how could you possibly have healed so quickly?”

“Our mystics can do many things beyond navigating or planet-forming worlds,” said Annuur tiredly, settling himself on his side against the soft bedding. He knew that wakening Tirak and bringing him to them had been a small act of revenge from Azwokkuss and the Reformer faction of the Camarilla for making them have to intervene in such a drastic fashion. “Don’t forget we saved your people many generations back when a solar flare would have almost destroyed them.”

“Where are we?” Tirak asked abruptly, straightening up. “We’re not on Anchorage, are we?”

“We’re on the TeLaxaudin world,” said Sokarr, dropping down onto all fours to go fetch a nearby chair and push it over for the Captain. “They brought us here to heal us.”

Seeing the small Cabbaran struggling with the chair, Tirak went over to take it from him, then returned with it to the end of the bed, where Annuur’s head was, and sat down.

“The jump point,” he said slowly. “As we entered it, Sheeowl said it was different. I don’t remember anything after that until I woke here five days ago.”

“Yes,” agreed Annuur. “It was a TeLaxaudin one, sent to fetch us here.”

“Sent?”

“It’s more than a jump point,” said Sokarr. “It transports people and things.”

“Did you send for help? How could you? We were running silent to avoid the M’zullians picking us up.”

“They could see what was happening and came to help us,” said Annuur.

“It was they who slowed you, when you were spinning out of control, – Tirak said slowly. – Why didn’t they take you then, and why take us all? I assume the other three ships are here too.”

“All six are here, Captain,” said Sokarr, unable to prevent himself glancing out of the window at the ships sitting on the landing pad.

Tirak looked, remaining silent for some time.

“A drink, please,” said Annuur quietly to Sokarr. His throat was dry with talking.

Lweeu beat Sokarr to his night table. Annuur’s mobile upper lip curled gently in a smile when the older male deferred good-naturedly to her. Many had doubted his wisdom in choosing one as young as Lweeu, not yet out of her first century, as their mate. Her talent as an engineer had been a factor in choosing her, but Annuur had to admit he’d been drawn to her by her youth and personality. His sept had accepted his choice because it was his right as their patriarch to choose their mate, but little incidents such as this confirmed that he’d chosen wisely.

While she held the glass, he raised his head to sip the drink through the flattened straw. It had a strange tang to it and he glanced quizzically at her.

“Azwokkuss said to give you this when you woke,” she said. “It’ll help the pain.”

All ready a welcome numbness was beginning to creep through his limbs.

“A night’s rest and you should be fine,” reassured Sokarr. “The damage was deep and they wanted to monitor the restructuring process. Stronger analgesics would have interfered with that.”

“The solar flare wasn’t the only time you interfered in our past, Annuur,” said Tirak suddenly. “You stayed very quiet when we discovered that there was a genetic link between us and the Sholans. When did your people interbreed us?”

Annuur waved the glass away and lowered his head to the bed again, closing his eyes. Azwokkuss couldn’t have anticipated this. The TeLaxaudin wouldn’t be that vindictive. How was he supposed to answer him?

“We were not involved with your species before the flare, Captain Tirak,” he said at length.

Tirak regarded him steadily. “Your people turned up very conveniently in time to repair the genetic damage done to those on Home and our nearest moon. How did you know there was an inhabited planet in our system? How could you have the knowledge to help us if you’d never been to our world before?”

Annuur hadn’t expected Tirak’s questions to take this direction. He’d assumed he’d focus on the why’s of their attack on the M’zullian destroyer and the TeLaxaudin part in it.

“And what the hell were you doing attacking the M’zullians and risking our lives and the Alliance to do it?” Tirak continued angrily after a moment’s silence, almost as if he’d been following Annuur’s thoughts.

He was too exhausted to lie. “Thousands of years ago, the TeLaxaudin lost a matter transformer in hyperspace,” he began.

“Annuur, you cannot tell our Captain!” exclaimed Lweeu, her mobile nose twitching in distress.

He ignored her interruption, aware through Unity that Sokarr was already reassuring her that the Captain wouldn’t leave here remembering anything of this conversation. “They searched for it for many years before giving up, assuming that it was gone forever. When we heard of the destruction of the two hunter worlds, we knew that somehow the M’zullians had found it and turned it into a weapon. It had to be . . .”

“Hunter worlds?” interrupted Tirak.

“Sholans,” Annuur corrected himself tiredly. “The transformer had to be located and destroyed. It wasn’t until the M’zullians used it on the J’kirtikkians that we knew exactly where it was. We had an opportunity to destroy it, and we took it.”

“You’ve known all along what killed the Sholan worlds and you didn’t tell the Alliance about it? You were prepared to let the J’kirtikkians die and risk everyone and everything just to get it yourselves? Dammit, Annuur, you’re no better than the Chemerians!” the U’Churian growled angrily, his thick mane of black hair beginning to rise around his shoulders. “If we’d known, we could have captured it . . .”

Annuur lifted his head to look Tirak in the eyes. “Our common enemy is now halved, Captain, at no loss of life to ourselves, and the weapon is destroyed with no chance of them making another. Had we told the Alliance about it, they would have demanded to have one of their own, just as you were about to do. It was never designed to be used as a weapon, Captain, nor should it be.”

“Leaving that aside, when did you intend to tell me this? We’re family! There should be no secrets between us! Now I find out you’re working with the TeLaxaudin, that when we’d barely come down from the tree canopies, you interbred us with the Sholans! How can there ever be trust between us again?”

“Enough!” roared Naacha. “Be silent, Child!”

Shocked by the outburst from the usually silent Cabbaran, Tirak glanced over at him.

As the silence lengthened, Annuur looked up at Tirak again. Their exchange had used up most of the little energy he had remaining and his awareness of the others in his sept had faded. He saw what he expected. Tirak’s eyes were wide and staring, fixed, he knew, on the swirling tattoos on Naacha’s face. As he watched, the Captain began to sway gently.

“Sokarr, support him before he falls off the chair,” he said. “Lweeu, fetch Azwokkuss!”


Ghioass, Zhal-S’Asha 30th day (October)

Shvosi acknowledged Azwokkuss’ mental message with a sigh. It meant the Camarilla was due to convene shortly to make a decision on Annuur’s so-called seditious behavior. As his Operator, her testimony for or against him would hold much weight.

I’ll meet you in the refectory in ten minutes, she sent.

Take transporter and be here now.

I prefer to walk, she replied drily. Sometimes her TeLaxaudin colleague’s reliance on technology irritated her, like now.

We are products of our own worlds, responded Azwokkuss with a chuckle.

Apologies, Skepp Lord, she sent, instantly contrite. Thought was private, not meant for you to hear.

Understood. I get your food?

Please, she said, getting up from her meditation cushion.

Leaving her small indoor conservatory, she scurried round her living quarters to find her note reader. Rearing up onto her haunches, with her spatulate four fingered hands, she scrabbled through a pile of papers on her desk until she found it.

Securing the device in a pouch on the body harness she wore, she dropped down onto all fours again and headed for the door.

It was a balmy day outside, with the sun shining in a lightly cloud flecked sky. Linking into Unity, she searched for the weather report – no rain was scheduled until nightfall. Satisfied, she trotted out of the Cabbaran enclave and headed for the moving side walk that would take her to the main TeLaxaudin center.

Ghioass, the TeLaxaudin home world, and primary home of the Camarilla, was a strange mixture of contrasts. Here, where she lived, the environment reflected the Cabbaran world, one of lush vegetation surrounding the adobe dwellings. Each one had been grown from the raw soil by its owner using only their natural psi talents. Their personal individuality was reflected in the shapes of the buildings and no two were alike. Her people were terraformers, capable of reshaping a world and all its growing things. They could do naturally what the TeLaxaudin had once used their matter transformers for.

Three species lived here, much the same way as they did on the Cabbaran home world, which provided a second, lesser chamber for the Camarilla. The TeLaxaudin population was not large, and was controlled, an easy task when each TeLaxaudin was born male in gender and didn’t develop into a female till half way through their lives. They were one of the Oldest species in this galaxy, and had developed a highly technological life style.

Reed slim and just over three feet tall, the TeLaxaudin were fragile in build. Their body shape and size had placed certain restrictions on them. Recognizing this, millennia ago, they had interfered in the evolution of a larger, more powerful species, one whom they could train to help them. The U’Churians were therefore the second inhabitants of this world. The numbers of these, their Children, were far less than those of the TeLaxaudin themselves. Again, their population was restricted so that it remained at a stable number.

The six foot tall U’Churians lived either in villages adjacent to the TeLaxaudin cities and commuted, or in appropriately sized accommodation provided by their smaller employers. When not working, they were free to come and go as they pleased, and had their own entertainment outlets – shops, restaurants, theaters and so on, in the cities. To Shvosi’s way of thinking, too many of the TeLaxaudin considered them as invisible servants, there to perform a function and no more. They weren’t even granted citizenship of Ghioass. This attitude was part of the reason for the current split in the ranks of the Camarilla.

The third species, and the only other member of the Camarilla, were her own, the Cabbarans. Four legged, when they sat up on their haunches, they were almost four feet tall. They were vegetarians, with forward facing eyes set in a long face that ended in a snout with an almost prehensile upper lip. A narrow stiff crest of dark hair ran the length of their skulls and down their neck, spreading out in a ruff across the shoulders and again over the flanks. On her shoulders, Shvosi’s sandy body fur had been shaved to display the intricately colored tattoos that showed her Family and her rank as a Phratry leader, and her cheeks bore the spiraling blue tattoos that marked her as one of her people’s mystics.

She was passing out of her sector now and into the more modern area of the TeLaxaudin city. Buildings here were also designed to be aesthetically pleasing, to the TeLaxaudin’s more insectoid senses. Their usual low lying buildings were dwarfed here and there by slim organic shaped towers that spiraled high above them. Transparent brightly colored surfaces and shimmering force fields, blended with metal and polished stone, all glittered in the sunlight. A movement to her left drew her attention and she saw that the TeLaxaudin were reshaping one of the civic buildings, adding another level and a tower. As she looked, the outline blurred and the roof split into four sections that suddenly reared up to become the new walls. From one of them, a sloping roof started to form, rapidly advancing toward where the beginnings of a whorled tower was taking shape.

She stopped for a moment to watch properly, rising up on her haunches to get a better view. Reshaping of buildings didn’t happen that often, but when it did, whether by her people or theirs, it never failed to entrance her and fill her with a sense of wonder. Gradually the blurring decreased and the outline became more pronounced until minutes later, the basic reshaping had been completed. This was only the first level of changes, there was more still to be done as the design was strengthened and refined.

Remembering her meeting with Azwokkuss, she dropped down to the ground again and hurried toward the moving walkway.


She arrived at the Council chamber refectory panting slightly, and hurriedly threaded her way between the other diners and through the ornamental greenery and water features till she saw Azwokkuss at their usual table.

“Apologies,” she said, flopping down onto the cushions at her side of the low eating table. “Were reshaping the Assembly House for summer. I had to watch.”

The TeLaxaudin nodded, his eyes glowing as the lenses spun and adjusted themselves to close vision. His mandibles clicked gently and he began to hum. “Never can you resist watching,” he said. “I know this.”

As she composed herself more comfortably, a bronze colored arm as slim as a twig pushed a plate of assorted salad toward her, followed by a divided dish filled with other delicacies.

Her long snout began to quiver as the delicate scent of the rare mushrooms and the bitter-sweet vegetables wafted up to her.

“Azwokkuss, is real treat,” she said, top lip curling back in a smile. Her colleague had chosen all her favorite foods. “Thank you.” She reached into the dish for a slice of mushroom. “Is too expensive.”

The TeLaxaudin watched her eat it daintily and with obvious pleasure before reaching into his own bowl for one of the fried insects he enjoyed. He peeled it carefully, dropping its chitinous covering into the side bowl he’d been provided with for that purpose.

“We eat well now, enjoy now, as no knowing how Council meeting will go yet. Potentialities being read at moment.” One elegant hand waved toward his right where a group of TeLaxaudin sat deep in discussion. “Hkairass and Isolationists plot already.”

She sighed. “How long before he starts change? Then we get few years peace at least!”

Azwokkuss’ humming had an unmistakable chuckle to it. “Irreverent female! Gender change not matter of humor, very serious.”

“Maybe motherhood makes him tolerable, sweetens disposition,” she retorted, eyes twinkling as she helped herself to the salad.

Mandibles trembling, Azwokkuss laughed in his own peculiar way. “Maybe,” he agreed. “But sadly more like him to take his place.”

“Are more of us, and every time he fights us in Council, more commit to our view,” she said. “Today important, Annuur will talk of debt we owe Child race, that their trust of us abused by likes of Hkairass.”

The oval bronze head bobbed in agreement. “I know. Keep fine speech for him in Camarilla Council meeting.”

Her short ears drooped a little. “I find difficult to deal with Hkairass in Council. He intimidates me,” she admitted.

“Does it purposely,” Azwokkuss replied, reaching out to push her bowl of delicacies closer. “You young, depends on it. At home, you rule one hundred of your people. Are you not Phratry Leader, equal to him? Let him not do this, then he will stop.”

Shvosi smiled and took a handful of sliced red peppery vegetables. “Easy to say. Today he wears the reds and yellows of determination, as well as exuding the scents to match.”

“Gives too much away. I wear blues and lilacs of tranquility for me, not to show others. Say to Hkairass you sit on him if upset you,” he advised, nibbling the last of his food.

She looked at him in shock.

“It squash him if you sit on him,” he elaborated, mandibles quivering in amusement. “Think it in mind when he at full flow. Flat TeLaxaudin no menace to you.”

She laughed.

“You not alone today. I there in Unity with you, also Kuvaa, and Khassiss moves nearer our beliefs every time it comes up. Female TeLaxaudin opinions carry great weight with us as are older, more experienced. Also others of our belief will vote our way.” He picked up his bowl of fruit flavored water and gently lapped at it.

“I know,” she began as through Unity they all heard the call to gather in the Council chamber.

Skepp Lord Hkairass has a matter to Speak on that needs urgent discussion before the session involving Phratry Leader Annuur.

Hurriedly, she snatched the last of her delicacies up and stuffed them into her mouth, chewing furiously.

“You choke,” he warned. “Got time. No can begin till all there.”

“Being late won’t help,” she mumbled, swallowing her food down then picking up her own drink and lapping furiously at it.

“How is . . .”

“Annuur fine,” he said. “Took Tirak to him yesterday.” The mandibles quivered again. “Payment for causing so much trouble to us in Camarilla.”

She laughed as she shuffled back from the table then dropped down onto her hoof-tipped forelimbs. “Was evil! Explanations would be demanded.”

“Yes,” agreed Azwokkuss cheerfully as he got to his feet. “Was point. Tirak will forget when all Children are processed anyway. Annuur will not, maybe teach him circumspection.”


Writing the Novels – Books 1 to 5 by on

Turning Point

This was my first novel and was begun way back in 1978/79 when I lived in a small Scottish town called Wishaw and was a member of ASTRA – The Association in Scotland to Research Astronautics. It is a science based society looking at the realities of space flight. We had exhibitions in major Glasgow Art galleries showing wonderful 3D models of Dyson spheres and O’Neal habitats to name 2 of the possible real space living modules.

As well as the exhibitions, we worked with science fiction writer and Nebula Award winner, Chris Boyce, the resident author for the City of Glasgow, and Duncan Lunan, the City Astronomer, on the factually based books, FIRST COLONY, and FIRST CONTACT. It was in this science based atmosphere my Sholan Alliance had its first beginnings.

The novel was three quarters written by the time I moved down to live in Norfolk in 1980 and was shelved while I began a new life. Due to a couple of very dear friends, Marsha Jones and Anne Page, I was persuaded to finish the book in 1987, and I did, in something like 3 months. Marsha took it to show to her sister whom she said was an editor, that Christmas, and I began Fortune’s Wheel, which was finished a year later in time for her to take with her for her sister when she moved back home to New Jersey in America.

Fortune’s Wheel

I finished reworking Turning Point in 1993, and turned to this novel. I had the story of the continuing romance of Carrie and Kusac, but no adventure. So it was back to the drafting board. I decided to try something new and have more than one thread in this novel which allowed me to go to other characters and see events through their eyes and add layers of suspense to my writing. I reckon it was successful. πŸ˜‰

By this time I had a 2 year old son and was desperate to regain my brain and intellect! Those of you who have kids will know exactly what I mean. By now I was a very active member of The Vikings, NFPS re-enactment group and loved sword fighting. It was no surprise my Sholans still maintained a Warrior culture and had ritual single combats. I had sent in the first draft when my editor told me that the Khalossa, the Sholan Mothership, was too Star Trek. She told me to go away and actually design it myself. “You what?” I shrieked after I put the phone down. I then promptly phoned my computer guru Merlin and wailed loud and long down the phone at him. The following night, armed with a load of books and a gaming system, I came home and sat down to design my first star ship. The maths alone had me climbing the walls! I had to decide the outside shape of the ship then choose the displacement which was 200,000 tons, and from that worked out the length and height. If I say math was my weak subject, does that give you a clue?

I did it, and another friend when he saw it said my maths must be wrong because the ship would be 1 kilometer long. “That’s right,” I said calmly. He checked the math, I grinned because Merlin had already double checked for me, and it is 1 kilometer long. Big ship!

I invented the Concourse and the Wilderness for the Sholans as being plains evolved beings they’d have a need for open spaces. And the Wilderness was a sort of Holodeck but with trees and rivers and hunting animals that they could release to chase. Plans of the Khalossa will be available at some point through the fan club web pages as will the other ships.

That done, the ship based sections came to life as my editor had said they would. A very clever lady, my editor.

Around this time I went to Crete on holiday. I have always loved the Ancient Civilizations and this holiday was a dream come true. I will never forget the blue-on-blue sea and sky, the feeling of walking beside the Old Gods of Greece. I could almost hear Poseidon when we took a boat out to Santorini, the modern name for the remains of the volcanic island of Thera whose eruption in 3,000 BC could have destroyed Knossos. It affected me very profoundly, and it is no coincidence at all that the Sholan architecture is pure Cretan with open villas and brightly painted murals on the walls – mind you, they have the climate to match! 100 degrees in the shade and no humidity! I want to live there – at least in the summer!

With books like mine there’s the old argument, is it SF or a kind of fantasy since felinoids might be considered unlikely to exist. A rule of thumb is, If it has a space ship on the front, it’s Science Fiction. So come time for the cover art, I said, Please put a space ship on the front! It’s become traditional now for me when art work is mentioned to say, Don’t forget the space ship!

Fire Margins

If you look real hard, you’ll see the space ship on this cover! πŸ˜‰ I avoid writing anything in stone in my series unless I absolutely have to, and until this one had avoided any mention of how Guilds, Clans and Sholan government are set up and operate. With this one, which has a large political element to it, I could avoid it no longer. For a couple of weeks or so I was to be found pouring over the Parliaments of the world like United Nations, The USA Senate and House of Representatives and Worlds Health Organization. So if you want to know the set up for the Sholans, it’s a mix of all three!

I also had to have my characters time travel, and get highly mystical in this one. That was fun. I went back to the roots of all Earth religions – the Shamanic beliefs of the Innuit. It is recognized as one of the first belief systems and belongs to a Hunter Gatherer society. And my Sholans were just that. Again my love of the Classical came into play, so I took the basics of Shamanism and projected it through to a religion not unlike the Greeks had in respect of the Gods and Goddesses. However, just as in the real Innuit Shamanic belief, religion is an intensely personal experience with each person capable of making their own relationship with their Gods or Entities. and having mystical experiences. No one person holds the key, anyone can hold any part or parts of the truth.

Razor’s Edge

Ah, this one. Well, this one was written in ’97 when I had a really nice birthday. My spinal condition which I’d had from birth and been assured would never trouble me, decided it was time it was noticed in a big way. The result is I had to give up my active life and use a wheelchair when outside my home. That’s life, though. I have had the opportunities to do many thinks actively that others can’t, now I have to take it a little more easily. Luckily it is considered therapeutic for me to write. πŸ˜‰

Needless to say, I was in a great deal of pain around this time and nearly had to pull out of finishing this novel in time for the deadline. Luckily DAW are a wonderful bunch of folk and the support and help they gave me was way above and beyond what I could have hoped for. The book was finished with 1 hour to spare before it went to print! How’s that for cutting it fine? It did mean that the ending had to be rethought by me 4 times because of the physical problems I was suffering. It took doctors 4 months to figure out why I was in such pain and unable to walk or stand for any length of time. This is why there are a couple of tiny leads that aren’t expanded on, but luckily, nothing was lost as issues I would have resolved in this novel were addressed in the next one, DARK NADIR.

Dark Nadir

Hmm. Well, I remember taking this one all the way to Confurence 9 in Los Angeles and virtuously working on it there and at my friends Marsha’s and Ira’s house in Newark – when their cats didn’t mug me! I also remember the re-work stuff came through 2 days before we went on holiday to Butlins, so while my son and his friend played in the pool and made life hell for the jolly Red Coats at the kids’ club, I sat in several hours each morning and after lunch writing away madly! Having said that swimming isn’t exactly my thing so I was glad of an excuse not to spend all day every day in the pool with the two boys! πŸ™‚

The first review I read of it said it was “A fast paced novel with more aliens in it than a Star Wars cantina!” I remember thinking surely not, until I actually got my own Author copy, then I had to agree! It doesn’t come across the same way on a computer screen or on piles of sheets of paper, you know. My book is not really a book until I hold the finished article in my hand. Also up till that point in time, I never really consider them finished. Once I have one copy, then I can let it go and concentrate on the next one.


Sholan Alliance Series by on

Turning Point Book 1

Turning Point

First Published December 1993
ISBN: 0886775752
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

When a human-colonized world falls under the sway of aliens who have already enslaved many another race, there is scant hope of salvation from far-distant Earth. Instead, their hopes rest upon an underground rebellion and the intervention of a team of cat-like aliens, one of whom links with a young woman gifted with unique mind powers.


Fortune's Wheel Book 2

Fortune’s Wheel

First Published August 1995
ISBN: 0886776759
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

Carrie was the daughter of the human governor of the colony planet Keiss.
Kusac was the son and heir of the Sholan Clan Lord. Both were telepaths
and the bond they formed was compounded equally of love and mindpower. But
now they were about to be thrust into the heart of an interstellar conflict,
as factions on both their worlds sought to use the duo’s powers for their
own ends . . . .


Fire Margins Book 3

Fire Margins

First Published November 1996
ISBN 0886777186
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

A new race is about to be born on the Sholan homeworld, and it may cause the current unstable political climate to explode. Only through exploring the Sholan’s long-buried and purposely forgotten past can Carrie and Kusac hope to find the path to survival, not only for their own people, but for Sholans and humans as well.


Razor's Edge Book 4

Razor’s Edge

First Published December 1997
ISBN: 0886777666
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

They had survived the Margins, but could they keep their promise to rescue those held captive on a distant, violence-filled world?

The price of breaking with tradition comes high, as does the ongoing protection offered by the military. And now, Carrie, Kusac, Kaid, and T’Chebbi must undertake a rescue mission to the distant world of Jalna to save present-day Sholans and humans who have been trapped there, as well as a Sholan pair from the age of the Cataclysm. What they can’t foresee is that the Valtegans planted the seeds of destruction on Jalna long ago, transforming the locals into a dangerously unstable race and threatening the telepathic powers of Sholans and Humans alike.


Dark Nadir Book 5

Dark Nadir

First Published March 1999
ISBN: 0886778298
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

CAPTURED!
The world of Jalna had revealed many secrets to the Sholan-Humnan teams sent there on a rescue mission. They had discovered one of the methods Valtegans had used to control other races, had learned how deceitful oene of their own allies had been, and were about to begin negotiations for an alliance with several newly met races.

Yet the planetary conflicts had led to the injured Carrie and Kusac being placed in cryo on a non-Sholan vessel, with Kaid desperately trying to rush them back to Sholan medical facilities. But before they could reach their rendezvous point, the ship they were on was caught in a Valtegan trap, leaving Kaid barely enough time to send Carrie and Kusac’s life-pods into space in the hope that they’d be found by friendly forces.

Kaid was certain he and his people were doomed until a massive vessel suddenly materialized, scooping up both Kaid’s ship and the Valtegan foe. Now all of them were prisoners of a completely unknown people. And only time would tell whether they’d fallen into the clutches of an even more deadly enemy than the Valtegans….


Stronghold Rising Book 6

Stronghold Rising

First Published June 2000
ISBN: 0886778980
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

The Primes are the upper class of the original Valtegan home world, pacifistic intellectuals who are unable to defend themselves from either their own warrior class – the Valtegans who have been making war on the entire galaxy – or any other species. To protect themselves the Primes have made secret alliances wih other races while concealing their own true identities and the location of their home world.

Now, after an ill-advised, accidental kidnapping of the vessel carrying Kusac, Carrie and Kaid, the Primes have been forced to reveal themselves to the members of the Sholan Alliance. But in the midst of delicate diplomatic negotiations to create a new pact between the Sholan Alliance and the Primes, power struggles on both Shola and the Prime world threaten to jeopardize the treaty.

Still recovering from being tortured by a rogue Prime group, Kusac is about to set out on a secret mission of his own, a mission which could see him branded as a traitor to his own kind. And what he discovers could well lead to the overthrow of the Prime leadership and to the destruction of the delicate balance that is the only thing staving off interstellar war . . . .


Between Darkness and Light Book 7

Between Darkness and Light

First Published January 2003
ISBN: 0756400155
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

In the midst of unrest on his home world of Shola, Kusac has chosen to undertake a secret mission of which only those in the highest echelons of the Brotherhood are aware. And even they are not privy to all the information Kusac has uncovered, nor all the plans he has made.

Carrie and Kaid have not been told the truth. So when Kusac flees Shola, seemingly abandoning his responsibilities, his Triad, and his clan, Carrie is devastated and Kaid is furious. Yet Carrie will not give up on Kusac. certain he will one day return to explain his actions.

But whether Kusac and his elite team can actually accomplish their mission and escape with their lives remains to be seen. For to achieve their goal they must rendezvous with the Valtegan general who is Kusac’s archenemy in the hopes of rescuing Kusac’s young son. But even if he succeeds — branded rebel by his own people, struggling to deal with new powers he scarcely understands, and caught between the machinations of his own god and those of a secret and ancient alien organization – can Kusac hope to regain all that he has lost on Shola?


Shades of Gray Book 8

Shades of Grey

First Published August 2010
ISBN: 0756401992
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

The battle for an empire has now reached a critical turning point. With the seat of power of the Valtegan Empire stolen by an usurper and Prince Zsurtul’s entire family executed, the only hope to avoid a galaxy-wide war of conquest is to retake the Palace and the City of Light, and place Prince Zsurtul on the throne. But whether Kusac, his fellow Sholans, and their allies can accomplish this seemingly impossible task remains to be seen.

And with the other two members of his Triad – Carrie and Kaid – on their way to rendezvous point, Kusac will not be able to avoid a long overdue confrontation with those he cares about most.

To make the situation even worse, both the gods and the agents of the Camarilla – the elder races’ secret ruling organization – have targeted Kusac as a pawn in their plans to control the destinies of the Sholans, Humans, and Valtegans. Hailed by all as the long-awaited Avatar, can Kusac break free of manipulation, and chart a new future for all three races?


Avatar

Not Yet Released