Molt Brother.  Wildside Press 2003, Playboy, l982  Berkley, 1985 paperback 

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Zref (a human boy raised among the venomous, reptile-like Kren) and Arshel, (a Kren female who had dared to make friends with a human male not knowing what a villain he would grow up to become), meet and join forces to vanquish a threat to the Second Lifewave, their own interstellar civilization.  Their quest for the "Mazeheart Object" is left unfinished, but apparently no longer necessary. 

Read Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 or Chapter 3

What Happened In Molt Brother: Lifewave Book #1
(includes spoilers)

The sprawling galactic civilization of the Hundred Planets was electrified by a new concept, popular historical novels based on actual archeological research financed by the sale of the novels.  

The company behind this scheme was Lantern Tours, making fortunes by selling packaged tours to galactic travelers.  

Everyone thought that Lantern had merely found a new gimmick to generate tourism, for the company made additional fortunes by packaging tours to the archeological finds made with the money from their Lantern Novels.  Few people knew that the entity controlling the Lantern conglomerate was not interested in making money.  She was interested in unearthing a particular artifact dating from the First Lifewave, the original population of the galaxy.  That artifact, the Mazeheart Object, would allow her to gain absolute control of the entire civilization of the Second Lifewave, the Hundred Planets.  

Nobody but she, herself, knew that the Group Mind, the aklal, formed among the readers of those novels would be her major tool in consolidating her power, not even her chief operative, Balachandran.  

On the planet Camiat, two young readers become deeply impressed with the Lantern novels, the human boy Zref Ortenau MorZdersh'n, and -- on the other side of the planet from Zref's home -- the kren female Arshel Holtethor Lakely.  Both  responded to the novels by dedicating their lives to finding The City of a Million Legends, and thus the Mazeheart Object.

Arshel, whose major talent is archeovisualization, a form of psichometry mixed with karmic past-life reading, took a human male, Dennis Lakely, to be her bhirhir.  

To the kren, the bhirhir is a life-partnership relationship which excludes sex.  The bhirhir is responsible for expressing excess venom raised during the course of the day, so that the kren does not accidentally strike and kill.  The bhirhir is also responsible for protecting the helpless kren during mating and molt.  Thus bhirhir is translated molt-brother, molt-sister, or molt-sibling.

As bhirhir to Arshel, Dennis Lakely, the son of famous archeologists who worked under Lantern grants, became inflamed with the limitless ambition infusing the Lantern group mind.  He attempted to use his power over Arshel to gain glory and recognition for himself.

Against Arshel's will, Dennis took her to the school run by the Mautri Priesthood to have her psychic talents trained by the best.  

But when they arrived at the temple-school to apply she was taken inside alone and told that the old Head Priest, a "White Priest," had left a message before he died saying that she would come and must be admitted to their training.  He said that he himself would be incarnated as a human at that time, and must not be admitted to the Mautri Priesthood because his destiny lay with the Arshel who would seek admittance.  Arshel assumes this human is Dennis, her bhirhir, and she reluctantly accepts the training.

With the whole galaxy in ferment, each planet and special interest group searching desperately for the Mazeheart Object, some to gain power and some to prevent "evil people" from gaining power, Dennis plans to use Arshel's newly trained talents to locate the City of a Million Legends.  He pushes her relentlessly to speed up her training.  

At the time that Arshel was just taking Dennis to be her bhirhir, Zref had already been bhirhir to Sudeen MorZdersh'n for some time.  During the time Arshel was being trained for the Mautri Priesthood, Zref and Sudeen were trying to earn the money they need to go to school offworld by working as Cranston Security Guards.  

Zref and Sudeen were planning to find the City of a Million Legends by becoming experts in communications.  They had adopted the theory propounded in one of the Lantern novels that the standing stone circles (called Crowns) found on many worlds were telepathic amplifiers used as the communications network of the First Lifewave.  They believed they could bring that technology into the current civilization and cure many ills.

Zref's parents were famous archeotranslators specializing in First Lifewave languages while teaching at Camiat University in Firestrip.  Lantern gave them a huge grant to translate documents found on Vrashin Island.  The professors Ortenau hired Cranston Security to guard their proprietary secrets and an Interface to help with their work.  

An Interface is a person whose brain has been altered so that he or she can use the vast interstellar computer network, the comnet, as if it were their unconscious mind.  And Interface can think with the comnet the same way a an ordinary person  might create using the unconscious as a source of inspiration.  The Interface can also program the comnet, enter and manipulate data, and look up facts, all much more rapidly than anyone working at a terminal access.  

Believing that the Oretenaus had found the location of the City of a Million Legends with its Mazeheart Object, and in an attempt to divert suspicion from Lantern Enterprises, the mastermind behind Lantern sent a Wild Interface, an Interface she had made using modern technology crossed with First Lifewave technology, an Interface not bound by the rigid codes of the Interface Guild, to raid the Ortenaus' Interface's private files for the location of the Mazeheart Object.  She also sent a raiding party to kill the Ortenaus' Interface, and to kidnap the Professors Ortenau.

Zref and his bhirhir, Sudeen, working as Cranston Corporation Security Guards, foiled that attempt -- almost.  Zref saved the Interface's life, and eventually that Interface led the raid which destroyed the facility for making Wild Interfaces. 

Meanwhile, though, the Wild Interface had stolen vast sums of money via the comnet accounting banks, and had ruined public confidence in the confidentiality of the comnet, bringing interstellar business to a near standstill.  The mastermind had almost won her bid for supremacy without any help.  

During the raid on the Ortenau residence, both the professors Ortenau were killed, as was Zref's bhirhir Sudeen MorZdersh'n.  The girl Zref had wanted to marry if Sudeen would accept her was also killed.  

Zref spent the following winter in paralyzed desolation at the MorZdersh'n residence, under the care of Sudeen's relative, Khelin and Khelin's human bhirhir, Ley.  Khelin was a Blue Priest at the Mautri School, and Arshel was his student, and later he mates with her.  

Then Zref found out that the Interface Guild, in response to the death of the Professors Ortenau, was adopting a policy of not working for anyone doing research into the First Lifewave, in order to slow the rediscovery of First Lifewave technology.  So Zref decided to become an Interface.  

He volunteered for an experimental program using technology the guild had recovered from the computers at the Wild Interface facility.  With this new technique, the guild hoped to be able to make Interfaces out of kren - a feat never before accomplished.  The Guild is skeptical of their ability to turn Zref into an Interface because he has been a bhirhir - but they are willing to experiment.  

Five years later, Zref is as recovered as he will ever be from the surgery, and still he cannot open Interface to join his mind to the comnet in a normal fashion.  After a short interval, he is thrown out of rapport by the memory-echo of Sudeen's deathscream.  

Crippled as an Interface, he fights for and wins the right to go to the capitol of the Hundred Planets to follow leads to the self-declared emperor calling himself "Ossminid" - a name made legendary by the Lantern novels of the First Lifewave.  Many criminal acts are traced to "Ossminid."   

Zref enters the capitol's society using contacts made by his "brother" Khelin MorZdersh'n, who had left the Mautri School and was using his training as a Blue Priest to help diplomats relate smoothly to one another.  

Through Khelin, Zref located Arshel and her bhirhir Dennis Lakely who were working for Balachandran.  Zref began to suspect that Balachandran was also  "Ossminid" and had a new Wild Interface working for him.  

Khelin still had a desire to mate with Arshel (which is oddly uncharacteristic of kren -- one mating is all they usually want), a desire Zref perceived as  love but knows can't be love because kren do not experience romantic love.  

Zref talked the Interface Guild into letting him take the assignment to work as Interface for Balachandran, who was in charge of the hundred Planets Explorer Corps and thus entitled to hire Interfaces.  But Balachandran wasn't satisfied with simply hiring Zref.  He kidnapped Khelin and Ley, and forced Zref to cooperate with him by showing Zref video of Khelin in molt, and Ley held in an adjacent cell, unable to reach and help his bhirhir.  Though Zref was an Interface, and should have no family loyalties left, Zref felt intense anguish.  

 During the showdown scene between Dennis, Arshel, and Balachandran, Zref overcame the drug Balachandran used on him and told Arshel that Dennis and Balachandran are holding Khelin and Ley hostage, apart from each other, while Khelin is in molt.  

Arshel's new training causes her to  remember one of her lives during the First Lifewave and she understood clearly what Dennis had become.  In that long-ago incarnation, she remembered that Dennis had killed her to prevent her from blocking the construction of the Mazeheart Object, and now he was working for Balachandran/Ossminid and cares nothing for her.  

Arshel, actively in molt herself, and neglected by her bhirhir Dennis, raises hate-venom and strikes and kills both Dennis and Balachandran.  She then dashes for her quarters, intending to suicide, but Zref intervenes and - without benefit of immunity to her venom that her bhirhir would have - nurses her through a difficult molt.  

She didn't kill Zref and suicide only because she becomes convinced that Zref, not Dennis, is the reincarnation of the White Priest who had left orders that she be admitted to the Mautri School.  Her regard for the priests at the White level of accomplishment is so great that she accepts Zref willingly.  

This is the first time Zref had attended a molt since Sudeen was killed.   In the process, Zref relives Sudeen's death which unlocks the trauma that has been blocking his unconscious.  

As a result, Zref becomes a fully-functional Interface, but discovers that he also has full access to his own personal unconscious as well as to the comnet.  He is thus unique in all of Guild history.  

Arshel found the City of a Million Legends, and even though the only trace they found of the Mazeheart Object was an engraving saying it has been hidden where nobody will ever find it, the Guild agreed to allow Zref to accompany Arshel back to Firestrip on Camiat, and to serve her as if he were bhirhir to her while she and Khelin completes their mating, after which he will help her complete her training at the Mautri school and become a White Priest -- never needing a bhirhir again, not even during molt.  

Zref cannot "Pledge Bhirhir" with Arshel - a ceremony which includes immunization to each others' venom - until the mating is complete because to the kren, it is chemically impossible to have a fertile mating within a family.  Zref, because of his bhirhir with Sudeen, is considered a member of Sudeen's (and Khelin's) family.  to take bhirhir now, Zref must immunize the new bhirhir to the MorZdersh'n venom.  Since Zref is human, and has no venom, Khelin - his nearest relative in MorZdersh'n - will provide venom for the pledge.  But if Arshel is immunized to Khelin's venom, she cannot possibly be fertile to Khelin.  So Zref and Arshel can not pledge bhirhir until after the mating.  

Therefore, Zref served Arshel during this mating as bhirhir without being immunized to her venom, as a bhirhir would be. This is not very dangerous because during mating, kren can hardly raise any venom.  Thus a mating couple needs their bhirhir'n to stand guard while they are physically and psychologically defenseless.  

By this point, Zref understood how he and Arshel acted during the First Lifewave to create the situation they find themselves in.  

Arshel had been a great artist during the First Lifewave, commissioned by the Emperor of Crowns (the standing stone circles used as instantaneous interstellar communicators) to immortalize their civilization - which she had done by creating the solid gold "Sphere of Ossminid" representing the largest artifact ever created by intelligence: A globe of artificially created suns each with a single habitable planet.  Each planet was an integral part of the government of the galaxy, and the City of a Million Legends, the Capitol city of the First Lifewave, was on one of those planets.  

Zref had been commissioned by the Emperor of Crowns to create a housing for that gold sphere.  He had created the Crystal Crown, a work of art which brought him enough fame that he was able to convince the Emperor of Crowns to let him build the Persuader's Maze next to the Emperor's Crown and to make the Persuaders an arm of the government.  

Arshel led the opposition to this plan, and fought Zref until he swore a mighty oath that rang to the ends of time that he would prove her wrong.  

They have spent lifetimes tied by that oath.  Now, Zref feels no compulsion to prove anything to Arshel.  He merely feels responsible for her, and he's bemused by his satisfaction at standing bhirhir to her.  

No longer sure that this karmic story has any hold over him, he sees their future clearly: he will pledge bhirhir to her and stand by her as long as it takes her to rise through the ranks at Mautri from the Green level to the White where she will no longer need a bhirhir.  Then, painful as it may be, he will keep his promise to her and let their bhirhir dissolve.  Thereafter, he will serve the Guild of Interfaces wherever they may send him.  

But, unknown to Zref, the mastermind of Lantern Enterprises has not given up.  The Mazeheart Object exists somewhere and she intends to find it -- and gain the legendary power it can bestow.   

The End

Read Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 or Chapter 3 

  Find e-book Molt Brother now at

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This Page Was Last Updated by JL  07/26/15 02:24 PM EST (USA)



First Lifewave novels copyright 1980, 1982, 1985, 2000 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg.  All rights reserved. 

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