Here’s a new excerpt from my SF novel, Questor, this one is from chapter 5:
Jon slipped into a troubled sleep just as dawn was breaking, to be wakened a couple of hours later by Manny, to find Sanctuary in a state of confusion.
While Triena and Jon were out on their patrol, another team had headed for the capital city of Reliff, beside the Mideans’ main base. The patrol had gone to see if they could learn anything from a contact they had in Reliff. The particular Gift of one of the elders, who was a prisoner in the city, was telepathy. He was able to send messages quite some distance, even out beyond the base, which separated the vast forest from the city. It was the only way to get information to and from those held in the city.
The team had arrived back in the early hours of the morning to report the Mideans had learned Triena was the name of the new Spirit of the people.
Apparently, the Mideans discovered the Ritual had a special meaning and had taken various persons from the streets of the city to find out what exactly that was. They’d been tortured, but the Mideans could get very little information. The prisoners died rather than give in. Until the day they took ten children prisoner and threatened to torture them next. Children were considered the Treasure of the future and no one would ever let harm come to a child. The imprisoned elders agreed they must tell the Mideans what they wanted to know, including the name of the new Spirit.
The elders confirmed she’d escaped and was hiding somewhere in the countryside, but they didn’t know where. It was a calculated risk, but luckily, the Mideans believed that was all they knew, and the children were released. It was known the Mideans were now sending out more and more patrols, believing if they could capture the Spirit they would control the populace—and they were right. The Mideans were determined to capture her.
Jon heard this with growing unease. He’d not admitted it to anyone, not really even to himself until now, just how very important Triena had become to him, and the idea she could be in danger was galling to him.
“Sernov?” he called quietly to the old man.
Sernov looked in his direction and walked over to him. “Jon, I trust you’re well this morning?”
“I’m fine thank you, but I couldn’t help but overhear the report from your patrol. Is there somewhere safer you could send Triena?”
“Unfortunately not. All our cities are under the control of the Mideans. There’s nowhere on the planet safer than here. It would be a long trip to the only other hidden place, Haven.”
“Yes, Triena mentioned that. It’s across the mountains, I believe.” Jon was pacing back and forth, unable to keep still.
“Yes, it’s a long trip and a dangerous one.” Sernov said.
“Surely, she’d be safer there than here. Haven is farther away from the base, isn’t it?”
“From this base, yes. There are other bases, but they’re even farther away. The problem would be the journey. It’s a long way on foot, through Midean patrols. While the shield is in place our Gifts are much suppressed, yet without the use of her Gift, Triena couldn’t make such a trip. Only frequent rest allows us to use the Gift for certain periods of time. It differs from person to person. I’d like nothing better than to send Triena to Haven, but the journey would be too much of a risk under the present circumstances.”
“Have you no weapons you could use for her protection?” There had to be something they could do.
Sernov shook his head. “We’ve not used weapons for generations. We’ve had no need of them.”
Jon wasn’t surprised to hear this. It was somehow right for this once peaceful planet. “My friend Manny and I have weapons.” He didn’t say anything further. He probably shouldn’t be interfering, but then again he’d been sent here for supplies his ship desperately needed. Surely offering assistance wouldn’t be frowned upon by the captain; it could only help their cause, couldn’t it? If the Rhiava wanted to take him up on the offer, at least it would be at their request. Who the hell am I trying to kid? When he first got the idea, he’d never even given the supplies a thought.
Sernov regarded Jon closely. He moved his face to almost touch noses with Jon and Jon looked back eyeball-to-eyeball. He’d nothing to hide and he wanted Sernov to see that.
“You’re offering to help again. At the risk of your own life?” Sernov asked.
“I didn’t think of it in those terms,” he replied honestly. “My life is important to me, as is that of my friend. I’m offering to help because I think you need it and I think you deserve it. The Mideans have no right to do what they’re doing here.” He told the truth, just not the whole truth. He didn’t know what Gift Sernov possessed, but the worst that could happen was the old man would know how he really felt. Embarrassing maybe, but that’s all.
“And it could help ensure we agree to your request for supplies?” Sernov asked, pointedly.
“I didn’t know your agreement to our request was dependent on anything other than a fair deal. I wasn’t offering help to coerce your agreement,” Jon replied indignantly.
Sernov looked into his face again and smiled. “No, I know you’re not.”
Jon frowned. Why did he think Sernov meant something else?
“We’ll discuss it. You’d better talk it over with your friend, don’t you think?”