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Authors: Lana Krumwiede

True Son

BOOK: True Son
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Acknowledgments

At the Ohandai defense facility near the northern border of the Republik, Gevri had risen earlier than anyone else in his unit — all but Jix, that is. The jaguar padded silently at his side as they climbed the spiral steps to the top of the north watchtower. Last winter, Gevri had almost lost her when he had tried to escape to the city of Deliverance. Gevri shuddered. Thank gods he was over his idiotic obsession with Nathan’s City. What a disaster that had been!

“We got through it — that’s what counts.” Gevri reached down to stroke Jix’s ear, and the big cat responded with a soft chuffing noise. Life was infinitely better now that Gevri had embraced his role as an archon, a soldier of the Republikite army trained in the use of dominion — or psi, as it was called in Nathan’s City. He was ashamed to think of how he had once fought against his destiny, how he had turned his back on his own father, believing that dominion shouldn’t be used as a weapon. But that was before Gevri had realized how untrustworthy the people of Nathan’s City were. For the first time, Gevri understood why his father, General Sarin, had pushed him as hard as he had. The general had wanted to prepare his son for the real world — a world in which every person looked out for himself, whether Republikite, Nathanite, or Nau.

Now that Gevri had changed his ways, his father treated him with a new level of respect, even giving him command of a special archon strike force that was the talk of the entire military. They’d been sent to Ohandai on a critical mission, and his father had made it clear that the stakes had never been higher. For decades, the Republik had been at war with the neighboring Nau, who kept using advanced technology to defeat the Republikite army at nearly every turn, advancing farther and farther into Repulikite territory. Now, however, the Republik was preparing to counter the assault with a force unlike any the Nau had ever seen: an elite force of archons trained in the use of telekinetic warfare.

Stepping onto the top of the watchtower that overlooked the Ohandai foothills, Gevri squinted in the light of daybreak. The sentry stationed at the watchtower turned to him with an outward palm, the proper salute for a ranking officer.

Gevri returned the salute with a downward palm. “Anything unusual?”

“No, sir,” the soldier replied. “A quiet night, sir.” He turned away from Gevri as quickly as etiquette allowed, clenching his jaw and tightening his grip on the rifle. Gevri turned to look at the other soldiers posted at the watchtower and sensed the same nervous tension. Some of it must be due to Jix. Even though she was perfectly behaved, people just weren’t used to being this close to a cat who could crush a man’s skull in a heartbeat. But Gevri could guess what was really troubling the soldiers: being this close to an archon.

The archons were the only soldiers who had the psychic abilities known as dominion. After being kept secret for years, the archon units had been introduced to the regular troops a few months ago. Though the regular soldiers were under orders to accept the archons, most were uncomfortable being around people with dominion. Telekinesis — the ability to move and manipulate objects with the mind — didn’t sit well with them. They were even less comfortable around Gevri’s unit, whose archons were the only ones who had other, rarer forms of dominion such as telepathy (the ability to read minds) and remote viewing (the ability to see things many miles from where you stood). While Gevri understood the soldiers’ discomfort, he knew that once they saw how helpful dominion was in battle, they would embrace the archons.

Gevri walked along the wall of the watchtower. He’d never been this far west and north before; the climate was much drier than his hometown of Kanjai. It had been dark when his transport had arrived last night, and this morning he was eager to get a sense of the land.

Sweeping his gaze over the horizon, he saw very few trees. The hills were covered with wild grasses and shrubs. The late summer had turned the rolling hills a golden color that made him think of sand dunes. His military training took over as he surveyed the ripples and folds of the land. If a small group of soldiers wanted to hide from the sentries, they would have plenty of places to choose from. “That’s why we’re here,” Gevri whispered to Jix.

The jaguar stretched her legs out and lowered her head. It was her way of saying she was eager for action, ready for anything.

Ten days earlier, the Nau army had launched a full-blown attack on the Ohandai defense facility. Gevri and his strike force had been far away, assisting in the skirmishes in the northern lake region, but he’d heard about the surprise attack and the heavy losses. The Republikites managed to repel the Nau and hold the facility, but Ohandai wasn’t out of danger yet. The facility was in desperate need of supplies and reinforcements, which would take at least another week to arrive. In the meantime, Ohandai was vulnerable. The Nau could very well send in a small strike force of its own and breach the gates of the weakened facility. It was Gevri’s job to make sure that didn’t happen.

A wave of confidence swelled inside him. His unit was perfectly suited for this mission. Though they were all young — just kids, really — they had been chosen because of their rare powers: clairvoyance, remote viewing, psychometry, telepathy, and retrocognition. It was funny to think that it had taken an infidel from Nathan’s City to bring these archons’ talents to light; before the arrival of the Nathanite Taemon, these young archons had been thought powerless because they didn’t exhibit the usual form of dominion, telekinesis. But thanks to Taemon, everyone knew of their rare and extraordinary gifts — and General Sarin knew just what to do with them.

The general had begun developing dominion in young soldiers when Gevri was born. At seventeen, Gevri was the oldest archon by a good five years, the first one the general had trained. In addition to telekinesis, Gevri had telepathy. As far as anyone knew, he was the only archon with
two
forms of dominion — a fact of which his father was especially proud.

Gevri’s team might be young, but the special archon strike force was skilled. They were trained. And they would not fail.

Six days later, Gevri and his team knew the layout of the Ohandai facility from stem to stern. They had repelled several attacks already, and it was obvious what the enemy was targeting: the transmissions room, the power generator, and the watchtowers. He’d split the archons into groups of two and three to make sure all three targets were defended. The strategy had succeeded so far, but Gevri knew enough to guard himself from overconfidence. One mistake could mean losing the entire facility to the Nau.

The Nau. Two hundred years ago, nine of the most powerful nations of the world had united into one supernation and divided the world into nine regions, each overseen by one of the nine powers. One by one, nations had capitulated to the Nau. Two centuries later, only a few places still stubbornly clung to their independence, and the Republik was one of them. Sometimes it seemed like the Nau had endless resources, but their weakness was in their size. They had endless regulations and procedures to maintain, which meant they weren’t exactly nimble. They took a long time to decide where to attack, but once they attacked, they could be deadly. So far, the Republik had managed to remain independent despite Nau persuasions. But in the past decade, the Nau had gradually stepped up their aggression, and the Republik was on the verge of defeat. Losing the Ohandai facility could be the last straw for the resistance to which Gevri’s family had devoted many lifetimes.

Reinforcements from the Republikite army were due to arrive at Ohandai tonight. If Gevri’s team could keep the facility safe for a few more hours, the mission would be a success. But surely the Nau knew that as well. They would mount another attack today; Gevri was certain of it.

Today, Gevri’s position was on the north watchtower. With him were two other archons, Pik and Mirtala, along with half a dozen regular soldiers on sentry rotation. The sentries kept their distance from the archons, which was fine with Gevri. His unit operated independently.

Pik, who had been using his remote viewing to locate the enemy, took off his glasses to wipe the dust from them.

“I think it’s funny that a remote viewer needs glasses,” Mirtala said.

“Remote viewing has nothing to do with eyesight.”

“I know,” she said. “But it’s still funny.”

Gevri changed the subject. “Any luck?” he asked Pik.

“No, sir,” Pik replied.

Mirtala screwed up her face in disgust. “You’ve been up here four hours. Seems like you could’ve found them by now.”

A few months ago, Pik would have been insulted by Mirtala’s backtrash. But now, the team had gelled and everyone knew this was Mirtala’s way of motivating her teammates.

“Have you ever tried to look
everywhere
?” Pik said. “It takes a long time. It would help if I knew what direction to look in or at what distance — some way to focus my dominion.”

Mirtala grunted and folded her arms.

“Keep trying,” Gevri said, and made a mental note to give Pik a break soon. Four hours was pushing the fatigue point for remote viewing. He directed his next order to the jaguar. “Go down there and scout around for us, Jix. See if you can pick up on their scent, or anything that might give us a clue where they are.”

Jix turned and disappeared down the stairwell. She understood Gevri’s commands through her own animal version of dominion. In fact, Gevri didn’t need spoken words to communicate with Jix; they’d developed a telepathic link some time ago. But using words helped Gevri form his ideas more clearly — and it put others at ease — so he used them when he could.

BOOK: True Son
11.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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