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Authors: Lana Krumwiede

True Son (9 page)

BOOK: True Son
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“So the delegation leaves tomorrow,” Challis said. “How are you feeling about going back over the mountain?”

“Okay, I guess. I just hope we can make some progress.”

Challis picked up her knitting and began working on her latest scarf. “I think it’s a good idea. I’m not sure it will work, but I think it’s a good idea.”

Taemon took another sip. He wasn’t sure what to make of Challis’s comment. She used to have precognition, a form of psi that gave her glimpses into the future. Her psi was gone now, but Taemon still wondered if she knew more than she let on.

Just then, Amma came running up to Challis’s porch. She was nearly breathless, and she had a shoulder bag with something heavy in it. “Taemon, I need to talk to you. Can you spare a minute?”

Taemon set his drink down and gave his mother an apologetic look. “I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Remember the book that Vangie gave me?” Amma asked when they’d gone a little ways off. “It’s all about psi, all the different forms. How they work, how they connect. Mostly I think you already know that stuff — probably better than anyone else. But after that . . . Skies, Taemon, there’s some really wild stuff in that book. I don’t know if it’s true or if he was just some klonk-headed nutcake.”

Amma was talking much faster than she usually did. And she was not the type to fluster easily.

“What kind of wild stuff?”

“He tells Nathan’s story in a way I’ve never heard it before. If what he says is true . . .” She shook her head, unable even to complete the thought. “Let’s just say it made me wonder what the Republikites’ history books say about Nathan.”

“From what Gevri said, they think of Nathan as a villain,” Taemon said. “Someone who stole a portion of their land and weakened the soil, causing a hundred-year famine.”

“And yet we revere him as a prophet, with no mention of famines or land theft. It makes me wonder if the truth is somewhere in between. This book certainly implies as much. Anyway, I think you should read the last three chapters,” she said, handing him the shoulder bag. “Tonight. Before the delegation leaves.”

“Okay,” Taemon said doubtfully.

Amma took hold of his arm. “I know it sounds klonky, but the information in this book might just change the way people see the past. And what if that . . . what if that’s powerful enough to bring peace between our two countries? Just think of it — General Sarin could change his mind, we could avoid the war, and we might even be able to get all the books back!”

Taemon frowned. “I don’t know. It’s not easy to change the way people see the past.”

“I know, I know,” Amma said. “But can it really be a coincidence that Vangie brought me this book just before we leave with the delegation? Maybe this is some sort of . . . some sort of gift.”

Taemon looked at the shoulder bag, then at Amma. What if she was right? What if this was what the Heart of the Earth meant when she’d said Taemon would yet act on behalf of Deliverance?

Amma looked back at Challis’s porch, and Taemon followed her gaze. Mam and Challis were watching. “I’d better get back,” Taemon said.

“Read it tonight,” Amma said. “We can talk about it tomorrow.”

Later that night, Taemon sat in his bed with a flashlight and read the words of Kertrand Lasky:

I first met Nathan at the university, where we studied philosophy together. Even then, controversy swirled around him. He maintained that with tremendous effort and dedication, individuals could achieve a level of spiritual connection to the Heart of the Earth. This connection, claimed he, would manifest itself as extrasensory abilities. People scoffed at his lofty ideas. They scoffed, that is, until he began to showcase his psionic powers

Even then, many believed Nathan’s displays of his powers were nothing more than mere trickery. But others, myself included, were fascinated by his theories and became his followers. To us, Nathan preached principles of harmony with the earth and all people. He discovered that though he could not teach us adults how to manifest our latent psionic abilities, he could teach our young children. Words cannot express how remarkable it was to see the youngest and weakest among us communing with the Heart of the Earth in this way. Soon, we followers of Nathan had formed our own church

We followers and admirers, however, were few. The vast majority of the population was fearful of Nathan and spoke of persecuting him — shutting down his church, banishing us all from the Republik, or worse, putting Nathan to death. Much of the church’s energies were spent on reaching out to the community and working to calm fears about Nathan and his teachings

Unlike the general population, the military saw great potential in Nathan’s powers and often tried to recruit him for military projects. But Nathan refused. It went against everything he believed to use his powers to help one government make war against another. The army, however, was persistent. The Nau were spreading from continent to continent at an alarming rate, and the generals were convinced that the Republik would soon become a target

In spite of Nathan’s firm stand against the military, he believed in the Republik’s right to remain independent from the Nau. He struggled with this conflict and searched for a way to assist the Republik that did not involve using psi as a weapon, which was against his principles

After many days of solitude and contemplation, a vision came to Nathan. He saw the future of the Republik, that it would indeed fall to the Nau within five years. Nathan pleaded with the Heart of the Earth to show him a way to change the fate of the Republik. According to Nathan, the Heart of the Earth told him that there was one path that did not lead to complete Nau domination. This path, however, required drastic action and terrible sacrifice. Nathan vowed that if the Heart of the Earth would show him the path, he would do whatever was required to spare the Republik

The path was this: the Republik must be transformed into a weak, destitute nation that would not be seen as a threat or a prize to be won. In order to do this, the Republik must endure a terrible drought that would last for generations

Nathan debated this choice for many months, often disappearing for days and weeks at a time to further commune with the Heart of the Earth, hoping, I think, to be told of another path, one that would not cause so much suffering for his people. But as time went on and as the Nau forces grew stronger, Nathan came to believe that the Republik’s only hope was for him to do as the Heart of the Earth suggested

While he never communicated as much to me directly, I believe Nathan knew that his actions would create an unbreachable rift between his followers and the people of the Republik. Whether it was the Heart of the Earth who instructed him to raise Mount Deliverance or whether this was Nathan’s idea alone, we shall never know. But our few attempts to maintain contact with our brethren back in the Republik have made it clear that they see us not as saviors but as traitors. And so we live as exiles, striving to create a new, peaceful community here on the other side of Mount Deliverance, until such time as old wounds have healed and forgiveness is possible

As Taemon read, the truth of this account came powerfully to his mind. He understood the terrible choices that Nathan had had to make. This explained so much of Deliverance’s past and of the centuries-old conflict between Deliverance and the Republik. And yet the path of the future remained dark.

The future is for you to choose. You must choose your path, and all the consequences that follow. Once the choice is made, you are not free to choose its effects

The Heart of the Earth repeated those words once more before he felt her presence withdraw.

It is for you to choose

Gevri longed for night. He yearned for the soothing grayness of evening. For the calm that came with sundown. For a chance to let all his cares fade into blackness and rest. He tried to imagine darkness, but even when he closed his eyes, everything looked bright red.

They kept the lights on all the time. Bright lights. Sometimes strobe lights.

When they stole his nights, they stole his sense of time. His life was one continuous day, one unbroken stretch of glaring relentless light that refused to yield to the night. How long had his day of captivity lasted? How many days had passed in the outside world? There was no way to know. He had not been outside once since he’d been captured by the Nau.

He couldn’t endure much longer.

The sleeplessness and the endless harassment made it impossible to focus his mind enough to exercise dominion, but that was irrelevant. With or without dominion, he needed to escape. Or die trying. Either option was fine by Gevri.

Gevri tried to shift his weight and grimaced with the effort. At the moment, he was chained to the wall, his arms pulled over his head. He could just barely touch the ground with his toes. If he lowered himself too far, his shoulders burned with pain. If he stood on tiptoe too long, his calves cramped with pain. The only way it was bearable was to shift the pain from one part of his body to let the other rest, and then shift again.

No sleep. Only pain.

No darkness. Only light.

When the doorknob turned and clicked, Gevri knew it was time to do something. Anything. The next person who came through that door was the person he would fight. He would give every last tick of strength in this fight. If he lived, he would be free. If not, he would die. And that was a kind of freedom, wasn’t it?

The door opened, and U. Felmark Puster entered Gevri’s room.

, Gevri thought.
Of all my tormentors, you are the one I would choose to fight

The investigator brought with him a folding table and took his time setting it up. He poured a cup of warm tea from a bottle. He stretched and yawned.

Is it morning?
thought Gevri.
It must be morning
. Anger poured over him again, anger that he no longer had mornings. They had taken everything from him.

He allowed the anger to grow inside him. It would help him do what needed to be done.

“Hello, Gevri,” Puster said. “How are you today?”

Gevri growled.

“I suppose that answers the question well enough.” The investigator casually chose a file from his case, then sat on one of the stools and leafed through it. “Let’s see what our topic is for today. Ah, yes, military movements.”

“No!” Gevri yelled. His voice sounded hoarse and not like himself at all. “Today’s topic is the archons. Where are they? What have you done to them? I’m not answering any more questions until I see them.”

Puster crossed one leg over the other and set his papers on the table. He folded his hands in his lap. “Well, now, Gevri. We’ve discussed this before, remember? There are certain things you’ll have to do to earn that privilege.”

Gevri struggled to find a position that didn’t split his spine with agony. He shifted this way and that, but nothing helped. “I . . . you . . . argh!”

The inspector clucked his tongue with disapproval. “Let me adjust your restraints just a bit. Perhaps we can discuss this better when you can stand on your feet.”

This was a common tactic of Puster’s. Gevri knew it well. Take the prisoner to an unbearable state of pain, then even the smallest act of mercy seems like kindness. This time, Gevri planned to use the tactic for his own purpose. He stopped struggling and sagged with what he hoped looked like utter defeat.

U. Felmark Puster stood up and fished a key out of his pocket, then walked over to Gevri. He fumbled with the key for a bit.

Gevri waited.

Puster jerked the chains.

Gevri waited.

Puster clicked the key in the lock.

Gevri struck. With all the strength he had left, and then some, he yanked on the chains at just the right moment, bringing the shackles on his wrists down. Down hard into Puster’s forehead. The key clattered to the floor. The man crumpled.

Was he dead or unconscious? Gevri didn’t care. He fell to his knees and scrambled for the key. One of the shackles had fallen off, and he used the key to remove the other. He tried the same key on the shackles around his feet and was surprised when it worked.

Completely free of chains now, Gevri bolted for the door. His knees gave out on him. His calves cramped. Every muscle protested, but he ignored them. He picked himself up and limped to the door. It didn’t budge. He hobbled back to Puster and rummaged through his pockets, pulling out a ring with several keys on it. He hurried back to the door and began jamming keys into the slot. The fourth one worked.

He threw the door open and ran. Every step was agony, but he ran down a long corridor to the next door. He jammed key after key into it until it opened. The cell was empty.

Gevri ran to the next door. This time he saw the number on the cell and took time to look for the corresponding key. An old man stared blankly at him. Gevri left the door open and hurried to the next door.

Why weren’t they coming for him? Where were the guards? Half of his brain was telling him something was wrong, while the other half told him to shut up and go faster.

BOOK: True Son
5.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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