by Marge Robbins and Jacqueline Lichtenberg



Sime~Gen (tm) is the trademark of a fictional universe © copyright by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986 , 1987, 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996



Kareen ambrov Zeor, Companion in Zeor, sat in the wagon her Sectuib was driving and focused her attention on the dark clouds above them, unwilling to inflict her worry and frustration on the Channel. I have to get this under control before we get to town.

Beside her, Klyd Farris, all dressed up in his Sectuib in Zeor finest, glanced sidewise at Kareen and she felt his ttention ripple through her body as he zlinned her. That was one of her more recently acquired abilities, noticing when a higher order channel zlinned her. Sometimes, she even thought she could detect Jimin's zlinning.

But it didn't take any Companion's ability to deduce that Klyd was not satisfied with her performance this morning.

He drew himself up, took a deep gulping breath of the damp air and proclaimed, "Oh, it's going to be a fine, wonderful day -- as soon as the clouds clear."

Since no one in his or her right mind ever argued with Klyd's weather sense, she just nodded and tried to keep her attention off the channel.

He wasn't buying it though. He made another effort, a supreme effort she felt, to inject a note of cheer into the gloom. "Ah, Kareen, I feel like a kid again, sneaking away from the walls to run across the hills, unfettered by responsibility-- alone in the vast emptiness of the fields, just enjoying being alive. I can't remember how many years it's been since I got to go into town on a simple errand -- though I have to admit, the occasion doesn't thrill me."

Behind them, more than three quarters of the Gen population of Zeor was down sick or just recovering. For the last week, the most vicious flu epidemic Kareen could remember had felled the Zeor Gens. And though they all recovered within hours under Channel's care instead of weeks as was common among the Pen Gens, she herself had just discovered she could stand without dizziness this morning. "Jimin could have done this errand, you know."

"Yes, I know, white lipped and shaking the whole way. That isn't the impression I want Valzor to have of Zeor. They know about the flu. I don't want them to think that Zeor's Channeling staff is under any strain in handling it. We're trying to sell them on a way-of-life. Hence, the Sectuib is taking the road to do a routine supply run -- ublimely confident that his staff can handle all eventualities without him."

"You're showing off Sectuib. Any renSime could do this job." She studiously studied the black clouds above trying to keep her field neutral.

Klyd smiled sheepishly, acknowledging her point. Then his expression turned serious, as he glanced at the Gen beside him. "Kareen, why don't you just tell me what's wrong? You've been depressed and worried all morning.This isn't like you."

She sighed. "It's nothing you can do anything about, Sectuib."

The channel shook his head. "Perhaps not as Sectuib, but I hope I'm your friend too, Kareen. If nothing else I can listen."

The Companion smiled at that, letting the rush of warmth his words evoked fill her field. "I'm worried about Jimin."She shook her head. "That husband of mine. Something is eating away at him, but he won't tell me what's wrong." Turning in her seat, she eyed the channel by her side narrowly. "Did something happen he's not telling me? I know he's been in your office a lot lately."

"Just discussing business," Klyd replied blandly. "He is one of my best channels, you know"

Kareen tightened her lips, fighting to keep her field neutral. "I don't quite buy that, Sectuib. Something is very, very wrong with Jimin. If you know anything....."

"He will tell you when he's ready, Kareen." KLyd waved a dismissing tentacle at her. "Try not to worry. He'll work it out."

The channel straightened in his seat. "In the meantime I want to know what else is bothering you. You have beenquite hostile lately. I think we should talk about that. There isn't a renSime within my zlinning range -- we're alone out here. Tell me what's on your mind. Besides Jimin, that is."

Kareen him closely. He appeared to be more open than usual. "Will you listen, Sectuib, really listen?"

"Even if Denrau didn't have the flu, I'd have asked you to escort me today -- because I want to listen. I want to understand what's been eating at you."

Without thinking, Kareen put a supporting hand on Klyd's wrist. "I'm sorry if I've been a disruptive influence lately." She let the respect she held for this man color her nager, shelving for that moment the issues that plagued her.

"Not bad," Klyd judiciously allowed. "Now why not tell me what's on your mind?"

"Nothing new. I still don't understand why you won't let me teach the other Companions how to serve a Gen-controlled transfer with added dimensions. It's so much better for the channels."

Klyd recoiled. She felt a coldness where his field had been -- well, not physical coldness. It was intensely unpleasant. "This again."

"Yes again. It's very important to me that you hear -- that you finally listen and hear."

"That is a shendi-be-flayed dangerous practice you are using on Jimin. You and Jimin are a tragedy waiting to happen."

"You are so wrong," replied Kareen, her voice rising. "What Jimin and I have is very beautiful. It's the way it is supposed to be."

Klyd flinched. "Shen, Kareen. The channel has to control in transfer, most of the time anyway. And even when

surrendering control, the results are still the channel's responsibility."

She greeted that with silence. Klyd knew exactly where she stood on this issue.

"You do know you've endangered Jimin with this. He could... " Klyd paused, then, voice low and intense, said, "...go junct. His anti-kill conditioning isn't strong. He's always had problems. You've balanced those problems against each other, and he's been able to function normally... and that's been to the good. But, if I could see a way to separate you two, I'd recommend it."

"Jimin can't kill me. I can control him no matter what." In spite of her efforts Kareen knew stubbornness and anger were filling her field again.

"Kill you? No. Definitely not. You aren't his problem, Kareen. And in a full dependency -- if he were pushed too far, he probably wouldn't succeed. He'd probably die trying, though."

"Is that how it is with you and Hugh?" The words might have been a clinical inquiry, but she knew her field carried a searing accusation. It rankled that he regarded her situation with Jimin as vastly different than his with Hugh.

"So it's OK for you and Hugh to be in a dependency, but not me and Jimin?" I shouldn't have said that. Now it's a fight again, not an argument. Stupid.

"Leave Hugh out of this!" roared the channel. The horses shied at the sudden noise.

Stupid, stupid. Why can't I just talk to this man? Why can't I make this simple point without hurting?

Klyd concentrated on wrestling the wagon back to the middle of the road. Then he said in a more conversational tone, "I control our transfers and you know it. Have you been talking to Hugh?"

Kareen tried again. "And you know that I don't always control Jimin. I only do it when it seems indicated."

"Which is much too often. You are weakening his vriamic control. And psychologically -- oh, Kareen it can lead to tragedy."

Kareen sighed. "Oh shen Klyd, if only you would stop fighting with Hugh and listen to what he has to say. It is NOT the channel's job to protect the Gen. It is OUR job to protect ourselves. In fact, the real secret is that there's nothing to be protected from!"

Klyd snorted. "You have been talking to him. Most Gens do have to be protected because they do have something worthy of fear. Get it through your thick head that very few Gens have the capabilities you and Hugh do. Even the average Companion would be in danger working with the average channel who expected the Gen to control the selyn flow."

"I doubt that. Gens can be trained....."

"Not to do the impossible. Not in most cases. And in any case it is counter-productive. If I allowed everyone to pull your stunts we would have a bunch of dependencies and that would really cripple the channeling staff's ability to deliver services. Remember the week Jimin was sick? You were next to useless...."

Kareen felt her nager doing a slow burn and Klyd fighting against responding to her. "Sectuib, that's only because of your stubbornness. If you would consider direct Gen transfer, the schedule wouldn't be as grueling. No reason why renSimes can't have Companions too. You know as well as I do that the average Gen donates far more selyn

than most RenSimes use. Then the channels wouldn't have to work so hard."

"You know as well as I do, the story of Durst Fennel and Vee Lassiter. It's one of our teaching fables for the five-year-olds for a reason, you know. When Rimon Farris founded this House, he set us on a path away from all that. Love does not conquer all. Just most."

Kareen fell silent and concentrated on bringing her nager down to a bearable intensity. "Look, Klyd," she said softly, "Keon has successfully matched Gens with renSimes. It does work. If Keon can do it, I am sure Zeor can too. You can zlin better than any Tigue."

The channel refused to take the bait. "I could do what Sectuib Risa is doing -- but she has set Gulf on a course into eep and desperate tragedy. The longer it takes to arrive at its natural ending, the more explosive and destructive hat ending will be. It could take all of our dreams with it. It is my responsibility to see that Zeor is prepared to survive the demise of Keon. I've said that to you before, too." Setting his jaw, Klyd stared at the road ahead. Maybe I'm not listening too well today."

Again, without real volition, her hand stole sideways to rest on his wrist. "Maybe I'm not either. But this whole thing makes me furious."

"I can tell."

"I'm sorry." In the distance she spotted landmarks that signaled they were to town. "I bet you can zlin that town from here. It's time to go to work. We have a town to impress and supplies to pick up."

Outwardly, all efficient Companion, she was coming to believe that her Sectuib was the most stubborn Sime on the

face of the earth. Which was of course why Zeor still survived. If not for Klyd's stubbornness, the House would have perished half a dozen times over just in the last ten years alone. But he could make life so much better for everyone if he would only listen to reason. It's just that he's stubborn about the wrong thing this time.

So she thought about how wonderful things would be once Klyd focused his stubborn insistence on making her vision a reality. She took the rush of warmth and joy that vision produced and wrapped the man in a cocoon of protective Gen power. And won a smile as reward for her proficiency.

Though it was early spring, by the calendar, there was a hint of frost in the air. The bare tree branches looming over the road added gloom to the threat of rain. She was hard pressed to maintain her nageric warmth especially when she saw the Green Pennant flapping over the Pen at the center of town. She was out in the junct world now where Klyd literally owned her.

As they became surrounded by junct renSimes on foot, on horseback and in wagons, in houses, and around the General Store, Klyd leaned over and said quietly, under the noise their wagon made: "That's good enough to fool hem, but I can zlin we still have to talk this out. I want to talk this out, Kareen. It is important. But work with me now."

"Yes, Sectuib." He can still zlin my anger. Why does that not surprise me. In all her years as Companion in Zeor he had never met a more sensitive or talented channel than Klyd Farris.

Vaulting down from the wagon, Klyd tied the horses to a hitching post and strode into the General Store without backwards glance at the angry Gen at his side, sublimely confident nobody else around could zlin what he did.

Arrogant. Shen and shid, the man is so arrogant! Kareen's anger spiked again out of control. Klyd strode up to the counter, leaving her to finesse her gaffe into something supportive to the Householding image. She pretended her emotion had been caused by a renSime who had raked her with a measuring glance then zlinned rudely.

An attractive young lady was doing some paperwork behind the counter. Smoothly the junct renSime shook her long blond hair out of her eyes, and then blinked in surprise.

"Why Sectuib Farris! We were expecting one of your other... people." Then she warmed to the famous Farris charm and said softly, and with more interest than was seemly, "What can I do for you?"

"Just picking up the supplies we ordered," the channel said briskly. Taking a slip of paper from his pocket he offered it to her. "This is our copy of the order. As I understand it, it should be ready."

"Well, almost. I'm Leah," She let her tentacles briefly caress Klyd's hand as she took the paper from him. "Perhaps I can offer you some trin tea while you wait?" Her voice trailed off as Kareen came to Klyd's side tanding as close as she could to the channel. "I have a Pen you can use for your Gen. There should be about an hour ....." She let her voice trail off meaningfully as she gazed into the channel's dark eyes.

Post as hell, Kareen assessed. Klyd had that affect on post women. Had that effect on most women, actually. He was handling it smoothly enough, so she looked around at the others in the store. Several Simes stared at Klyd with undisguised hostility. They saw a pervert cutting in on their territory.

Kareen focused her field tightly on the channel. Putting a deliberately possessive hand on his arm, she caught Klyd's eye, silently offering support.

Only Kareen saw the barely imperceptible nod as the channel's show field must have extended to merge with hers.

Turning to Leah, Klyd said gently, "I'm sorry, Leah. I had understood the order would be packed and ready to load by now. We can come back in an hour."

"Pervert", snapped Leah, her demeanor changing to one of total contempt. "What you are doing with that Gen is indecent."

"I beg your pardon. It was not our intention to offend," replied the channel ignoring the chorus of obscene taunts from the juncts around them.

Kareen kept her eyes firmly on Klyd's face, her field totally involved with his. She knew what Leah thought about her and Klyd, but nothing could be further from the truth. She loved the channel with all her heart, but as one might a father or a brother. He was her Sectuib and nothing would ever change that. She thought to herself, Surely he will see it my way sooner or later. She refused to acknowledge at that moment how much hope was laced through that thought because if she had to hope, then there must be some doubt within her somewhere.

"If you would rather not fill our order, I can take my business elsewhere," Klyd offered blandly.

"Oh no!" Leah snarled. Then she took a breath and said more civilly, "Get that Gen outta here and I'll have your wagon loaded in an hour. Supply train just came in. Gotta unload my wagons first, then put your order together from that."

"Good. We'll be back in an hour." Klyd gathered his Companion with a glance and strode from the store.

Outside, Kareen drew breath to express her opinion, but the channel silenced her with a tentacle gesture. "Not now Kareen", he whispered. Then in a louder voice, projected to the watching renSimes loitering about, he said, "Itwould seem you could use some breakfast about now. I know just the place."


Going along with the channel, Kareen replied, "Lunch, actually. Breakfast is hardly a memory."

"The bottomless Gen." Klyd led the way to a small cafe at the end of the street. It was the only place in town where trained Gens were allowed to sit at table with Simes. The proprietor, one Loran Gorgon, embarrassed that hi establishment had attracted the perverts, nevertheless greeted Klyd respectfully and led them to a quiet table in a corner where perhaps the upper-crust patrons would pretend they didn't notice the Householders. Still, Kareen knew that many of those who frequented the place came in hopes of glimpsing the perverts. She let her nager glow with amusement.

Klyd ordered tea while Kareen put away a small bowl of stew and some fruit.

Not wanting to disturb the fragile peace between them, Kareen kept silent, concentrating on keeping her field focused on Klyd. The channel seemed to Kareen's practiced eye to be focused inward as if he was contemplating some major issue. Good thought the Gen. Maybe he's seriously considering what I've been telling him. He just has to. Zeor is wrong; oh, so wrong. But she kept her attention focused, putting on a good show for the juncts.

They had been there for quite some time when Kareen's attention was caught by raised voices near the front of thecafé. A rather well dressed Sime couple was arguing with the proprietor about the charges on their bill. They were accompanied by two attractive daughters, no more than eight or nine years of age. The girls were staring with unabashed interest at the householders.

Catching their eyes, Kareen favored them with a warm smile. The girls whispered together for a moment, then came over to stand a few feet from Kareen's table.

"Good morning," the Companion said pleasantly. "My name is Kareen."

"I'm Shanna. She's Lindi." The child took a deep breath, nervously twisting a strand of her long reddish gold hair between her fingers. "How come you're not dead?" Her dark eyes searched the Companion's face carefully.

Lindi poked her sister. "That was rude", she whispered just barely loud enough for Kareen to hear.

Suppressing a smile of amusement, Kareen glanced at Klyd. To all intents and purposes. he appeared to be oblivious, but she could detect his amusement and a silent invitation for her to answer the question.

Keeping her professional attention focused on the channel, she regarded the children a moment before speaking. "Why should I be dead?"

"You're a Gen," Shanna replied as if that was all that needed to be said.

"Mommy says its indecent the way some Gens are allowed to act like people," added Lindi, a small delicate towhead with the brightest blue eyes Kareen had ever seen.

"Gens are people." Kareen replied quietly, wondering just how much these two knew.

Lindi pointed to Klyd. "Do you belong to him?"

Kareen nodded. "Well, yes I guess I do."

"He's going to kill you, isn't he?" A troubled look crossed Shanna's eyes, while her sister shivered. Kareen motioned for the children to come closer. Leaning towards them, she said very softly, "No, girls, he's not going to kill me. That's Klyd Farris, Sectuib in Zeor. He's never killed and he never will."

Slowly the children came to Kareen's side. "But how can he live if he doesn't kill you?" Shanna frowned. "Mommy says Gens are like food. They make selyn that Simes need to live. Mommy and Daddy have to kill once a month to get that selyn."

Tears came to Lindi's eyes at her sister's words. "I don't want to kill. That scares me."

Kareen glanced at the channel. She knew her field had filled with some rather strong emotions. Klyd merely nodded encouragingly. Explain Zeor to them, she could almost hear him say.

"Have you girls ever heard of Zeor?" kareen asked gently.

They nodded in unison. "That's where perverts live," replied Lindi.

"They call us that because the Simes that live in Zeor don't kill the Gens that also live there." Kareen suppressed a smile as looks of disbelief crossed the children's faces.

"Then how can they live? I know Simes, normal people, need selyn", retorted Shanna.

"In Zeor we have channels." Kareen gestured towards Klyd. "He's one of them."

"What's a channel?" Lindi was staring at the Sectuib in Zeor with an interest far beyond her years. Klyd favored her with a small smile in return.

"A channel is a very special Sime. Sectuib here can take selyn from the Gens without hurting them and give it to Simes. Nobody gets hurt and nobody has to kill", explained the Companion.

Lindi approached the channel, staring into his dark eyes with something akin to awe. "Is it true, you don't kill Gens?"

"Very true," Klyd replied gently. "In Zeor where we live no one kills. Simes and Gens live together as a family. No one has to kill and no one has to be afraid." He waved a tentacle in Kareen's direction. That Gen is what we call a Companion. She's trained to give me her selyn once a month without getting hurt."

Shanna was regarding Kareen with interest. "Does it hurt, giving him your selyn?"

Kareen grinned at that. "No, Shanna. Giving my selyn to Sectuib or any other channel is a very beautiful experience. It feels soo good."

The girls were silent for a few minutes. "Can anyone live in Zeor? I don't want to kill." Lindi was staring at Klyd very intently.

The channel nodded. "Yes, anyone Sime or Gen who wants to come live in Zeor is welcome. If you become a Sime you will never have to kill. And if you become a Gen..."

The rest of his words were drowned out by some rather high pitched yelling. The girls' father was bearing down on his daughters, a rather angry look on his face.

"Shanna, Lindi get away from those perverts now." Grabbing their hands he dragged them away over their protests.


With a sigh, Kareen turned to Klyd who was struggling to maintain his composure in the face of what had to be a hostile ambient. Shen, I lost it again. Hastily the Companion reformed the protective cocoon around the channel. "Sorry Sectuib" she whispered.

A brief smile lit Klyd's eyes as he relaxed again. "You were distracted," he offered understandingly. "And who knows, it might be worth it. I think you have a couple of recruits there."

"And the Sectuib in Zeor has gained another admirer with that famous Farris charm of his," Kareen teased.

Klyd chose to ignore that. "It's about time we got back. They should have the wagon loaded by now." As he paid the bill, Kareen noticed that the place, empty when they'd arrived, had filled to capacity. Pervert patrons were good for business. But she knew how very quickly the mood of a town like this could change -- especially if the Pens were threatened.

Klyd led the way outside.

"Why it is a beautiful day!" Kareen exclaimed as she stepped to his side. The clouds were gone and the sun was shining in a sparkling blue sky.

Klyd smiled joyously. "Yes, maybe spring isn't so far off after all." He strode away, his long legs carrying him away from Kareen.

At the edge of her nageric influence, he stopped in his tracks, zlinning. A moment later, a young Sime dressed in tattered clothing came speeding out of a nearby alley chased by four or five Simes dressed in trail-worn drover's leathers. Wagoners by the looks of them. Our supplies? She thought, worried.

The young man stopped when he spotted Klyd, then angled toward the channel, running as if his life depended on it.

Kareen moved in on Klyd, aiming her attention, blotting out the rest of the world as the channel became all that she knew existed. If he had to give a transfer, she was not going to be caught napping.

The Sime flung himself into the dirt at Klyd's feet and grabbed at his blue cape. "You have to help her, you just have to help her." Tugging on the channel's blue cape he added shrilly. "You have to save her!"

Kareen eased off her concentration and looked at the Sime.

Klyd asked, "Help who?" He lifted the young man to his feet and zlinned him deeply through that contact - though Kareen was virtually certain nobody in this town including the subject had a clue how much the channel learned in those few seconds of contact. Putting a firm hand on the boy's shoulder to steady him, Klyd asked quietly. "Tell me the problem."

"You're a Householder. You have to save her. You don't kill Gens. I don't want her killed!"

Kareen's brows went up in surprise as she skidded to a stop beside Klyd. Why would a junct want to save a Gen's life? The only answers she could think of meant big trouble for Zeor.

"Who don't you want killed, and why?" asked Klyd patiently, even though the pursuit had grouped itself around the mouth of the alley to watch the perverts create a public spectacle.

Kareen called on all her professionalism and supported the channel protecting him from the corrosive ambient.

"Buffin," answered the young man. "You gotta save Buffin." The boy twisted free and tugged on Klyd's cape. "You gotta come now."

He dragged the channel back the way he'd come -- which Kareen now realized was past the livery stable and blacksmith's shop to the end of the street where the Pen flew it's green pennant. For some bizarre reason, Klyd went with the Sime. She hastened after them, aware for the first time that day that she, herself, wasn't really fully recovered.

At the mouth of the alley, they stopped, confronted by the wagoneers. Kareen noted several wagons loaded with cages in front of the Pen gates waiting to be unloaded. "You work for the wagon master don't you?" she guessed.

Startled at being addressed by a Gen, the boy stopped struggling to pull Klyd into the unfriendly mob gathering about the mouth of the alley.

Yes I do," he said to Klyd, "and they're going to kill Buffin." Then he did an extraordinary thing for a junct. He spoke directly to Kareen. "Please make him help her."

"Who is Buffin," demanded Klyd. "If she belongs to the Pen, we can't...-"

"No, no, they want to sell her at the auction and it's all my fault.

"Auction?" Really puzzled now, Klyd zlinned the Pen, the wagons, and around them. Then he regarded the wagoneers blankly, but none of them supplied a clue.

"Start at the beginning," advised Kareen softly. "Tell us who you are and what you have to do with Buffin."

"My name is Darren. I'm a guard for the wagon master over there. We brought a load of Gens for the Pen here.

One was supposed to be mine in payment for my work. But they won't give her to me... because I Killed her - but she didn't die! Now they think she's too valuable to be my fee. But ..."

Klyd again made a quick, superficial but penetrating scan of the youngster. Over his shoulder, he said to Kareen,

"He's not a channel. High field, but it's true, he hasn't Killed." To Darren, he said, "How old are you? Three months?"

"Two. I killed once. But this was so different. Buffin was ... was ... was ... better! She's special. You have to... "

"Darren," said Klyd, "if we can save Buffin and take her to Zeor, she'll become a pervert like us ... at least to these people's eyes."

"So I'll come, too. I can live on Buffin's selyn."

"If you enter Zeor, you will live on channel's transfer ... and become a pervert too. Or leave."

Everything in Kareen protested that decree. Life -- love -- demanded better for this youth and his chosen. But she didn't say anything aloud. She didn't have to. Every Sime in the vicinity was riveted on her . Shen. She schooled herself back to her job.

Darren begged, "Please you gotta help her. Buffin can't die."

When Kareen had the local ambient steadied, Klyd turned to her with one raised brow. She measured the opposition arrayed across the mouth of the alley, then softly, so they wouldn't hear, she rendered the Companion's opinion he was silently requesting, "Sectuib we have to buy Buffin if we can. Deal with all the complications at home, later."

He stared at her. She knew her triumph and eagerness rang in her nager to his ultra-sensitivity. The youth and the distant drovers wouldn't be picking up on that, though. She also knew that, beneath his show field, Klyd was seething over this. He didn't want this complication inside Zeor's walls. It would give her the leverage she had so long sought to spark a fundamental change in the way Zeor did things. Hugh would be in ecstasy.

He was on the verge of saying "no" and walking away from this. She had never seen him deny help to anyone who asked. He had to be feeling threatened somehow. It was probably her fault for picking at sore wounds during the ride into town. All right, then it's up to me to level him again.

"Sectuib," she interrupted his thinking. "We have a chance here to show the town that we turn no one away who sincerely seeks our help." It was, of course, one of the things that Zeor stood for. The pursuit of that ideal had often gotten them into more trouble than they could handle. Right now, Klyd's mind was on the most recent of those troubles caused by accepting refugees -- herself and Jimin on the one hand. Hugh on the other.

She took a deep breath, knowing she'd probably regret what she was about to say, but had to say it anyway, for her Oath and her own sense of self worth. "You have my word, Sectuib, we'll do this your way. Just save these two. Now."

Klyd's expression became totally unreadable. For a long time he just stared at Kareen. Then he zlinned toward the Pens, where the wagons were still being unloaded. Finally he nodded formally. "Very well, Naztehr. You win. We'll buy the Gen. She is pretty spectacularly low field, and I must admit I'm curious."

With that, he swung around and marched toward the waiting drovers. Utterly bewildered by the abrupt shift in the channel's attitude, Darren stared at Kareen. But all she could think was, He could zlin her from here right through me as if my nager were so much tissue paper? And know she's low field? Spectacularly low field?' The one thing Kareen didn't find herself thinking in that stunned moment was, I don't believe it. She'd learned long ago to believe it where Klyd was concerned.

She gathered up the stunned and bewildered Darren and followed Klyd through the barrier of drovers -- who melted aside to let the perverts pass. They weren't about to miss the ensuing show, and closed in behind Kareen and Darren, following Klyd to the Pen wagons where the last of the Gens were being off loaded and herded through the gates and into the chute leading to the showers. In one of the barred cage wagons sat a single Gen.

Klyd bargained with the wagon master who started by insisting Darren's fair share was an ordinary Gen, not a Choice Kill, and this one would pull a top price at Auction. As they negotiated this point, the representative from the Auction House came up to claim the Gen. The wagon master delivered the Gen in question, papers and all, to the Auctioneer whereupon Klyd offered double the absurd price the wagon master had asked, and stipulated, "As is. You'd have to feed her for a month before her field would fetch anything like such a price. What if she dies of this flu that's going around before you can sell her? This is your best chance for a quick profit."

The Auctioneer zlinned the goods in question, played reluctant and didn't fool Klyd, then gave in.

Buffin proved to be a small quiet youngster with flaming red hair and hazel eyes that clung to Darren as if nothing else in the world existed.

Kareen's heart was lost. This couple had to have their chance at a good life. Had to.

Klyd thrust the young woman at Kareen, roughly ordering the Companion to take care of her. Without another word he lead the way back to the General Store where their wagon was loaded and ready to go

Settling the bill, Klyd ordered everyone aboard and silently drove out of town. Other than a few words of reassurance to Buffin, Kareen kept quiet during the long drive home. She knew Klyd was envisioning disaster. It was his primary pastime these days.

Once back in Zeor, Klyd pulled up behind the main building and studied the gathering crowd of curious House members. "Oh shen," he muttered. "why now?" Turning to Kareen he ordered abruptly. "Jimin should be in the infirmary. Go attend him."

"But Sectuib," Kareen protested. "Buffin, I need to...."

"Kareen, attend Jimin. I'll take care of Buffin and Darren."

Doesn't he trust me? That hurt. Subdued Kareen slowly climbed down from the wagon.

"Yes, Sectuib," she replied softly as she walked away. Kareen went first to her room where she ditched her cape and washed up. Then she started off across the rotunda to the infirmary. She hadn't gone very far when her son, Aran, intercepted her.

"Mom. I want to talk to you. Now!" The channel's tone was harsh.

Kareen sighed. By now the entire House was probably aware that Sectuib was unhappy and probably assumed it was with Kareen. Turning she met the channel's eyes. "Can't it wait? Sectuib wants me to attend your father. He probably requires a Companion's assistance."

"No it can't. Dad's just holding the fields in the infirmary so don't worry about him. Come on, we have to talk."

Aran led her to a nearby bench. Sitting beside her, he paused to push back his coal black hair from his steely gray eyes. "What do you think you're doing? Sectuib's not very happy. You have the whole House unsettled. You've been fighting with him again. Haven't you?"

"I did what I had to do. Klyd was being stubborn and unreasonable."

"So it's true. You did persuade him to do something he didn't want to. That's not proper behavior for a Companion. We all rely on his judgement. It has to be unclouded by emotional turmoil. You upset the Sectuib, you upset the whole House."

"I learned that before you were born, Aran." Kareen retorted. "Gens have judgement, too, you know, and upset Companions upset the whole House, too. I merely pointed out to him that by not buying Buffin he was not honoring his Oath to Zeor. Then he started using his judgement and everything went fine."

Aran whistled. "You challenged him on his Oath?"

"Well not in so many words, we were in public after all, but I'm sure he knew what I meant. Darren had asked for his help, and he was about to refuse. You wouldn't have."

"Perhaps you had better tell me the whole story."

Kareen did so, succinctly. "So you see, I had to convince him that it would be wrong to leave Buffin to die and refuse Darren the refuge he asked for."

The channel was silent a moment considering. "Nope, bringing her and Darren home was the wrong decision. I don't think we have the capacity to deal with all the complications this couple will create. You know what it takes to disjunct a renSime... when it wasn't really his idea to disjunct to begin with. Necessity isn't enough for that. Real commitment is the only thing that works."

"But I'm betting she's Companion material and more than worth the price Sectuib paid for her... The trouble those two will cause? I'm betting Darren's love for Buffin will make up the difference for Darren. Sectuib will see all by himself that the solution to most of our problems is matching renSime and Gen in transfer. Sectuib's smart... he's just a bit mixed up over this issue."

"It's going to be hard to train her, even assuming it's possible. In the meantime we have your junct renSime who is going to want Buffin. The longer he's on channel's transfer the stronger that desire will become. You may have led him into a living hell, and unless we are very lucky and she is a natural companion we may have very little to offer the Gen."

Kareen took a deep breath, fighting to keep her field neutral. Sometimes, she thought, my son sounds like a Klyd double. Aloud she said "You are assuming that Klyd will separate them. That would be a mistake so I don't think he'll do it - once he's had a chance to study them in depth. Consider Aran. Here we have a matched renSime and Gen. Living proof that direct Gen transfer DOES work. Klyd can study them. Figure out what it takes to make it work, then we can...."

"Klyd never lacked proof that matching Gen and renSime does work! He knows it can. It's been working in Gulf. That's not the point. It can work- but it's not stable. It's seductive and treacherous and not reliable, not viable for everyone, and so it's not at all what Zeor stands for." As he spoke, his passion rose until he was nearly shouting at the end. As his words echoed off the stone walls around them, he subsided with a dismissive wave of his tentacles. "Zeor means a lot to me. You see."

Kareen sighed. Yes, I've given birth to a stubborn pigheaded Klyd double. "Aran I have to get to work. I'm notgoing to argue about this."

Aran shook his head. "Very well Mother. But you are wrong and the sooner you realize it the better off the entire House will be. I am not at all happy with the way you are constantly arguing with Sectuib these days."

Kareen had had enough. "If you and Sectuib would listen to reason, we wouldn't have to argue so much." She strode off without waiting for his reply.

She found Jimin presiding over a small roomful of sick Gens. His gray eyes lit up. "Hi sweetheart. I've missed you." Holding out his hands Jimin took his wife into a lingering embrace.

Nestling against the channel, Kareen said softly "I've missed you too." Automatically she offered him a supportive field.

Jimin visibly relaxed. Leading her to a seat he said softly, "Is it true what I am hearing? That you and Sectuib had another argument? That you forced him to buy a Gen and bring home a junct renSime?"

Kareen sighed. "Forced is the wrong word. But yes, I did persuade him to bring home a renSime and a Gen who have successfully invented the concept transfer all by themselves. It proves my point that Keon is right about that.Now Zeor can learn how to do it too."

Jimin's lips tightened. "I wish you hadn't done that. It's only going to cause trouble."

"That's not true. You are being just as stubborn and pigheaded as Klyd and Aran if you can't see that this is a great opportunity for Zeor to take a giant step forward."

"No, it's not" whispered the channel fiercely. "It is a big step towards disaster."

Kareen studied her husband for a moment. For some reason the channel's words didn't quite ring true, but she couldn't put her finger on what was wrong. Not for the first time, she wished she had a Sime's ability to zlin. With a sigh she strengthened the focus of her field. "Never mind, sweetheart. You're in need. This is no time to argue. We can take this up after our transfer."

Jimin smiled. "Ever the professional Companion." Gently he dropped a kiss on the top of her head.

Kareen's eyes twinkled as she gazed at him. "Would you want it any other way?" The way the channel snuggled close, head on her shoulder as he returned to the business of healing the sick Gens in the room was all the answer she needed.

Several hours later Kareen awake from a light doze to discover Jimin gently shaking her. "Wake up sleepyhead. It's dinner time."

Kareen yawned and stretched. "I guess I am a little hungry." The tiny bowl of stew for lunch had long since disappeared.

The channel chuckled. "No, you're starving. Go get something to eat. I'll be fine for a while."

Obediently, Kareen went to the dining hall and secured a tray of food, carrying it to a quiet corner where she hoped to be able to eat in peace.

However that was not to be. a few minutes later, Mazada, another Companion in Zeor approached looking very upset. "Kareen, Kareen I have to talk to you."

Kareen raised her head smiling. Mazada had come to be her best friend in Zeor. "Sit down" her smile faded as she took in the other woman's tear stained visage. "What's wrong?"

"I'm leaving Zeor," Mazada, abnormally slim for a Gen, with long dark reddish hair now in disarray, plopped into a seat across from Kareen. "I have had it with Klyd and his smug, arrogant...."

Kareen raised a restraining hand. "Please don't insult Sectuib. He can seem arrogant on occasion, but I've never seen him smug about it. What happened anyway? I thought things were going well for you."

"They were, but Klyd is being strict. I can't imagine what's gotten in to him today. I never thought he'd do this to us!"

"What? What did he do?" Something else to lay at my feet?

"Geoff and I had transfer about an hour ago. You know I have been or was assigned to him on a regular basis."

"So what happened? Didn't the transfer go well?"

"Yes and no. Geoff has been sick, just overwork but...."

"And," prompted Kareen patiently.

"He lost control. I thought he was going to abort."

"So you took control?" guessed Kareen.

"Yep. That wasn't the worst of it. I was just fighting the abort... and winning... which would have pleased Sectuib I'm sure. But then I know I love Geoff."

"Yes, I know." Kareen blinked. "Oh no, you didn't?"

"I couldn't help it. You are always telling me how good it is for Jimin when you let him feel your love during a ransfer. So just happened. I put my feelings for him into the transfer. It was so beautiful and I could feel him loving me back... But Klyd..." Putting her face in her hands Mazada began to sob

"Klyd what? How did he find out anyway? Surely he didn't monitor?"

Scrubbing her eyes, Mazada shook her head. "No. But Geoff has a big mouth. He went and told Sectuib what a wonderful transfer we had. He wants Sectuib to teach that to ALL the companions."

"On no!" That happened today - on top of everything.

Mazada nodded, fresh tears falling. "He took Geoff away from me. We can't have transfer for at least three months. Sectuib said I had to learn how to serve a proper transfer all over again."

A wave of guilt swept over Kareen. "This is all my fault. I never should have told you that could be done".

"It doesn't matter. I'm going to retrieve my pledge and leave Zeor. Maybe go to Keon. I hear Sectuib Risa is more liberal."

Kareen shook her head. "No, don't do that. A pledge is a sacred thing. Not to be retrieved lightly."

"Lightly!" Mazada laughed bitterly. "You call this a minor thing?"

"No I don't." replied Kareen. "But look, not only is your pledge to Klyd it is to the House that he represents. To Zeor."

"So, Zeor is no longer for me. If I'm not allowed to do whatever I can to better serve my channel....." She broke off staring at Kareen. "How can you sit there and counsel me to honor my pledge when you are constantly fighting with Klyd yourself? Is that being loyal to him and to Zeor?"

Kareen thought a moment then replied carefully. "I am fully committed to Klyd and to Zeor. Yes I am trying to persuade him to make some changes. I think what you and I want to do CAN be accomplished within Zeor. I'm not going to foreswear Zeor; to leave the House and Sectuib I love just because it's taking a little bit of work to get him to see reason. He'll come around. I know he will." Besides, there was Buffin and Darren. She wouldn't have to say or do anything. The Sectuib would get it figured out by studying them.

Mazada shook her head. "I remember a time when you wanted to leave Zeor only Jimin talked you out of it.

Remember the first time you controlled a transfer and Klyd got angry?"

Kareen was silent remembering. It had been a warm spring day. She remembered very vividly the smell of lilacs outside her window. Jimin however had been in bad shape. He had lost a patient the night before and hadn't fully recovered by the time he met Kareen for transfer.

Kareen had done her very best to relax him and raise his intil. To no avail. He was still tense and barely responsive, even after an extended time in trautholo. Finally Klyd, who was monitoring, directed her to start the transfer.

Kareen made lip contact and waited for the channel. After a moment Jimin started to draw at a very slow pace, almost as if he didn't care. Hesitantly Kareen began to push ever so slightly. The channel then began to draw at close to his normal draw speed. However the flow became severely lopsided. Kareen could feel Jimin pulling back, prepared to abort.

No! I can't let this happen.. Taking control of the selyn flow kareen worked to balance it. At first Jimin appeared not to notice, then began to work with her in righting the flow.

Delighted Kareen spontaneously let love and gratitude flavor the selyn she was feeding him.

Almost instantly she could feel a delighted response from Jimin as he increased his draw speed to a higher rate than ever before awaking in kareen a much stronger feeling of pleasure that she had ever experienced. Deliberately she reflected this back to the channel as they moved together into the spiraling twin peaks of mutual fulfillment.

Almost as soon as he broke lip contact and retracted his tentacles Jimin burst into uncontrollable tears.

Post syndrome. Good. Very happy that the transfer had turned out as well as it had, Kareen changed the focus of her field to one of support as the channel began raging though the many emotions that had been damned up by his need.

As she changed positions so she could cradle Jimin's head in her lap she glanced over at Klyd. The Sectuib was frowning back at her. "I'm not sure you should have done that."

"Done what?" Gently starting to massage Jimin's temples, she met Klyd's eyes.

"Over controlled him. And all that personal stuff. Not good."

"But Sectuib, I had to do something...."

"We'll talk later. Right how you have a very post channel to deal with. Please don't mess that up too." Klyd strode out of the room before she could answer.

But they didn't have a talk then. Weither Klyd forget, or wasn't sure -- on reflection that Kareen had actually done anything wrong, the Companion wasn't sure. But she was content to let well enough alone.

However, since not only was that transfer the most beautiful, personally satisfying transfer she had ever served, it's effect on Jimin had been remarkable, Kareen was unable to forget. Until he reached turnover the following month Jimin had been more alert, energetic and happier looking that Kareen had ever known him to be. She had to wonder if it was repeatable.

Over the next few months, with Jimin's enthusiastic cooperation she did some experimenting. She discovered thatshe could indeed repeat the experience. Not only could she use the selyn flow to share specifically chosen personal feelings it was possible to take turns or even share control of the selyn flow, thus making the transfer more enjoyable for the channel. He didn't have to worry as much about hurting his Companion when she was in at least partial control.

Finally, one brisk late fall day, at Jimin's urging, they went to the Sectuib and sought permission to teach what they had learned to the other channels and Companions. Sectuib had been adamant in his refusal to allow this.

"We just can't do it," Klyd had said firmly. "In the first place it is too dangerous. Letting a Gen control is like inviting that Gen to his own funeral. I'm not going to allow it. You two are incredibly lucky that it is working so well for you. But I am not going to take chances with the rest of my staff."

"But Sectuib," protested Kareen. "Look at how much healthier Jimin is these days. It's very good for the channel."

Klyd shook his head. "Not really. Not in the long run. You are weakening his vriamic control. What if he kills you? You two have reached the point where neither one of you can have transfer with anyone else. He would most likely die of attrition the next month. That's a fate I wouldn't wish on any channel."

"There's no proof that the two are related. Maybe we have just had too many transfers together," Jimin interjected.

"And look at you and Hugh. The way you two fight, I know you aren't working to please each other in transfer. yet you can't...." Kareen's voice had been drowned out by Klyd's.

"Enough," roared the Sectuib. "My answer is no, and that is final. Leave Hugh out of this"

"But Sectuib," protested Jimin. "Kareen has a point. You and Hugh don't have transfers like Kareen and I do. Yet you two are locked together, like we are. That would suggest..."

"I said enough" Klyd's voice got dangerously low. "The whole point is, what you two are doing, dependency or not, is bloody-shen dangerous. So the answer is no. I'm not risking the lives of any more of my channels.

Kareen had left Klyd's office with a burning desire to leave Zeor and go someplace like Keon where new ideas were tolerated. Mazada is right, she thought as she returned to the present.

Sighing she met the other Companion's eyes. "You're right. I was angry with him. And I did want to leave Zeor. But thank goodness Jimin talked me out of it. I'm pledged to Zeor. I can't leave."

"Even though Sectuib is being a stubborn jerk?" challenged the other Companion.

"Even so. He IS Sectuib. We owe it to the House to stay here, obey him, but keep trying to change his mind. Sooner or later, he will give in. I know he will."

"How can you be so, sure?" challenged the other Companion.

Kareen considered for a minute, then said softly "Sectuib is...."

"Stubborn and pigheaded", snapped the other Companion. "You've said so often enough."

"Yes,....but only because he is very cautious. He gives the appearance of knowing it all and being very sure of himself, but I think inside he has a lot of doubt."

"About what?"

"Everything he does. Everything we do. He is so bloody-shen cautious, so determined to protect Gens no matter what. You did know that the tradition of the Memorial to the One Billion was started in Zeor?

Mazda nodded. "By Rimon Farris."

Kareen nodded. "I think Klyd is determined not to be a Sectuib who has to add very many names to the Book of Martyrs. He's done it several times now, and I know it tears him up inside. So he works hard to avoid that, even when it means protecting us from ourselves. He deeply cares for us, you know, and sincerely wants what's best for us."

Mazada snorted. "I don't believe it. Taking Geoff away from me is not what's best for me."

"In his eyes it is. He loves you and Geoff too much to let you take the risks he sees in what Jimin and I are doing. The only reason he's never tried to separate us is his fear of doing harm to Jimin as a channel. This whole thing is new territory. He doesn't KNOW enough about it. He's unwilling to risk lives investigating."

"So you're saying that I should remain in Zeor because Klyd doesn't know what he's doing?

"I'm saying Klyd, with all his faults, is the best there is, at channeling, at leadership, at everything that makes a House a House. Look, you and I want to make some radical changes. If anyone can successfully bring these changes to Zeor it's him. If we are to ever win the war against the kill, it's going to be channels like Klyd that get I done."

Mazada was silent for a minute. Then meeting Kareen's eyes she said softly, "Unto Zeor forever. I'll stay ."

Almost a month after they'd brought Darren and Buffin home, Kareen was on her way to the infirmary when she spotted Darren sitting on the steps to his dormitory looking incredibly dejected. She had kept her promise to Sectuib and had not attempted to impose her point of view on this situation. She paused, rocking on the balls of her feet, and studied the renSime. Changing course, she took a seat beside him.

"Hi Darren. How's it going?" She studied him carefully while awaiting a reply. He was deep in need, two or three days before transfer she judged. When he didn't respond immediately, she offered a quietly supportive field for him to rest on.

The renSime looked up. "Why should you care?"

"Zlin me," Kareen urged. "I'm a Companion. It's my job to care for and about the Simes around me."

"I wish I had never come here."

Warning bells went off in Kareen's head. Surely Klyd didn't ....he wouldn't.... "Why?" she asked aloud.

"I can't see Buffin."

"What do you mean you can't see Buffin. Surely Sectuib didn't...."

Shaking his head to get his long black hair out of his eyes, Dareen said grimly, "I haven't seen her since we got here. That Sectuib fellow says I can't see her until after my transfer...and that has to be with a shendi-be-doomed channel," he spat, trying to hide the loathing he was obviously feeling.

Guilt washed over Kareen. I should have known. He didn't hear a word I said in town. This is my fault. Carefully keeping her field neutral she said softly, "Let me talk to him."

"You'll never change his mind", Darren retorted. "I should just go back to town. At least there I can get a decent Kill."

Kareen couldn't suppress a shudder of horror at the Sime's casual reference to the kill. "But you don't really WANT to kill. You didn't kill Buffin last month."

"Not for want of trying" the youngster snarled. Then he sighed. "I don't want a channel. I want Buffin. If I can't kill I want my own Gen."

And you should have one thought Kareen as understanding and support flooded her field unbidden. "yes, you hould have your own Gen. Don't worry Darren, one way or another I am going to see to it that you get Buffin. It may not be this month, but I promise you that sooner or later, if Buffin wants you, the two of you will be together."

Hope flared in the boy's eyes then quickly died. "But that means channel's transfer.....ugh" Just as quickly terror was in Darren's eyes.

"It's not that bad," Kareen said reassuringly. "Just ask the Duty channel to assign you to Sectuib, he is the best...."

"No," Darren snapped vehemently. "I can't stand that Sectuib guy. Not him."

Kareen sighed, thinking quickly. "Very well, then ask for Hajene Aran. I'm sure he can satisfy you." As the boy hesitated, she added persuasively "He's my son, and one of our best channels."

Dareen slumped. "All right," he said resignedly. "But you gotta promise me, Buffin next month."

Kareen thought hard. She didn't have the right to promise in the name of this House, but in her own name she said, "If Buffin wants you, that's a promise." Kareen rose. "You'd better get back to work. Do you have an assignment?"

"Yea, I'm supposed to be working in the gardens. Thanks Kareen." Darren ran off under augmentation.

Kareen sighed. Making that boy a Householder is going to take some doing, she thought. Deciding to take the bull by the horns, she changed course and headed for the administration building intending to confront Klyd.

She found him on the steps a very subdued Buffin standing before him, eyes downcast. Two RenSimes stood nearby.

"...and you will stay in your room until after Darren's transfer." The channel hesitated. "Unless you want to change your mind and come to me for Companion's training."

Buffin looked up defiantly. "I don't care about anyone else, I just want Darren. I know I can take care of him."

Klyd shook his head. "No, you can learn how to take care of channels - you have the talent. But I'm not letting you be with Darren. You're from out territory. I'm sure you don't understand how things work here. Or why."

"I understand that Simes need selyn and Gens make it." Her accent was atrocious - actually smacked of Darren's own accent, but she hacked her way through the words without regard for grammar, syntax or the niceties of polite speech. She probably learned Simelan in a Pen wagon. "I understand that I can take care of Darren. Why do channels have to get in the way anyway?" Buffin glared defiantly at the channel.

Klyd gestured to the waiting Simes. "Take her to her room and make sure she stays there." He looked sternly at Buffin. "Because that's the way it has to be. Go now. We'll talk more later."

As the Simes led a silent Buffin away, the channel turned to Kareen. "And what's on your mind?"

Kareen felt that distinctive frisson that indicated the channel's entire attention had come to full focus upon her. She felt like he was zlinning her bone marrow from three feet away. Kareen nodded in Buffin's direction. "What was that all about?"

"She sneaked out of her room and was looking for Darren. She is determined to serve him in transfer." Klyd gazed sternly at the Gen. "Kareen - you did promise not to interfere with this one."

"And I haven't. For weeks. But, Sectuib, now we need to talk." Kareen put her whole determination into her nager.

Klyd nodded. "In my office" He lead the way into the building.

Waving Kareen to a seat before his desk, Klyd said softly, "This is about Darren and Buffin?"

"You have really done it now." Kareen made no attempt to keep her anger and indignation from her field. "Here you have the perfect opportunity and you are ruining it. Keeping those two apart is a big mistake. We can learn so much from them."

"Kareen," began the channel.

"No," yelled the Companion. "This time you're going to listen to me, Sectuib Farris. Every channel in this House is overworked, overstressed and not in the best of health. You are stubbornly refusing to consider two possible ways to alleviate that situation.

"Learn how to make direct Gen transfer work for even some of the renSimes and you have less work for thechannels to do. Teach the other Companions how serve the kind of transfers I do and you will have happierhealthier channels. Buffin and Darren are proof that one method works, Jimin and I the other. But do you listen?

NO! You make Geoff and Mazada even more stressed ... not to mention miserable ... by taking her away from him.You make Buffin and Darren miserable by separating them.

"And all for what? So you can continue to push everyone to achieve more and more in a perpetual quest forexcellence. Well, excellence is my quest too or I wouldn't be in this House, would I? Excellence requires ... Zeor requires ... that we explore and develop the possibilities in renSime/Gen transfer. It is time for Zeor to expand it's horizons. You can't pursue Excellence by just doing the same thing the same way all the time! Why can't you see that?"

"But I do." He took a deep breath and sagged back into his chair. "We've said all these things to each other before, Kareen, at varying volumes and peppered with varying degrees of gutter language. We both feel very strongly on this issue. I've thought about this all month, and I want to try one last time to explain to you where your reasoning has gone wrong. Do you think you can listen?"

There was a very cold chill crawling down her spine. The words, "one last time" echoed in her mind. "I'm listening."

"This is about the roots of Zeor. My ancestor, Rimon Farris, the very first channel, who founded this House, gave us a legacy to carry into the future. It doesn't belong to us, Kareen, but to generations yet unborn. It is a vision of a world in which Simes and Gens live together, everywhere, and there is no Kill. It is a fantasy. A dream. A prayer. It is a goal to work for, and a hope to yearn for. And it is a precious, ephemeral, intangible thing to be defended with life, soul, honor and substance.

"That dream is for a whole world where there is no Kill. Which means that every kind of person there is must be able to find a place in that world. We must build it to have places for people of all kinds. No one can be left out.

"You and Jimin can't be left out either. Which is why -- the real reason why - I haven't tried to do something about your dependency, and why I haven't stopped your dangerous practices. Those practices stabilize you and Jimin. That may not continue indefinitely -- but for now, it appears to be the case.

"But you and Jimin are exceptional - unusual in many characteristics. You are different from most people. You are not unique - you are unusual. Hugh and I are likewise -- unusual. The behaviors that make life possible for us would make life impossible for most people.

"We can't have one rule that fits everyone. People are just too different. We have to find the kind of rule that applies to each individual and apply that rule to them. And that's why I haven't done anything about you and Jimin all this time. I don't know what kind of rule to apply to you. You're new. And you, Jimin, and Aran have made yourselves an asset to Zeor.

"Zeor lives through accepting the new, the different, the challenging. But Zeor has its own special and I can only hope, immutable character. When this House was founded, it was compounded of three pieces -- three main traditions that had to be welded seamlessly into an unbreakable whole. We were a junct community that set its roots deeply in a concept of the Divine as active in this world. And we were a community that abhorred The Kill, included Gens in our decision making councils, and bowed to the power and beauty that is Gen and only Gen, and then into that volatile mix came something else. Something we don't talk about with outsiders. Something our members who aren't raised here may not be sufficiently aware of on a daily basis.

"Rathor," breathed Kareen, fully under the Sectuib's spell.

"Yes, Rathor, founder of the Shrines of the Starred-Cross. If not for Rathor, there would be no Zeor."

"Rathor gave us the Reception. I Received Zeor from my father. I will pass it to my successor -- and I can only pray that I will pass it untarnished, a pure living tradition that can grow and change and become the very dream we all work for. I have a direct knowledge of what Zeor is and that knowledge is - I can't explain in words. I know Zeor. I see -- Rimon's vision. And that of every Sectuib in Zeor since that first day -- a continually changing and growing, living, organic thing -- a dynamic thing that churns and drives change into the world."

"Yes," she whispered. As he spoke, she felt it, saw it, tasted it -- zlinned it with Gen senses. This is my House. This is why I'm still here.

"Kareen, there is no way that Zeor can grow in the direction that you want so desperately to take the world. Zeor eschews the Kill at all costs. All costs, Kareen. That is set into our History. It is taught in the legends and myths we inculcate into our youngest children - the legend of Abel Verrit, the story of Durst Fennel and Vee Lassiter. Maybe none of these people really lived, or really did what our stories recount -- it doesn't matter. These stories are the essence of Zeor. I grew up on them. They are a part of me. A living part. Every life that has been sacrificed is my life. And that includes you and Jimin, Darren and Buffin, Mazada and Geoff -- all the sacrifices made to bring Zeor's vision to the far flung future. It's not just life that's been sacrificed -- not just a Billion Gens who died before we learned not to Kill. It's love, happiness, home, family, and yes, even traditions have died so that Zeor can live."

Kareen was staring at the Channel with awe, unnoticed tears running down her cheeks. She had never considered that Zeor was a living growing organic thing, apart from Klyd himself. He truly can't do what I want. Zeor won't be Zeor if I force him to change that vision.

A stab of something akin to terror shot though her being. I've been attacking Zeor. I have been trying to change something that can't be changed. That shouldn't be changed. Pushing back that thought for the moment, she returned her attention to the Sectuib's words.

"I am not defending a Tradition for its own sake." Klyd was saying softly. "Zeor isn't right because it's old. Zeor may not even be 'right' yet. I am not obstructing change. And I am not being stubborn. I am being dedicated to an ideal that is so far off in time yet that none of us will live to see that day - our names will be forgotten by then. We are nothing in the onrush of time. I will embrace anything - however dangerous, however heretical - that takes the world in the direction of that dream. And I will fight to the death against anything that veers our course away from that vision that I have Received. That's what it means to Receive the House - it's a whole lot more potent and more binding than any Oath.

"And that is why I must oppose you on this matter of renSime/Gen matching. It would take us away from the vision, Kareen - far away. It is not Zeor, and so I am not at liberty to 'give in' or to 'see reason' or to experiment. That is not personal to me, and not personal to my feelings toward you. I'm not being stubborn because you irritate me. I admire you. I cherish you. And I am particularly delighted in the way you oppose my judgement on this matter. You have good reasons, and you speak with your heart and all the power of your spirit. Though I will admit you do irritate me from time to time. Well, most of the time. But that's all to the good, too."

All defenses gone, Kareen let reluctant understanding flow into her field. "You never really had a choice then? About Buffen and Darren I mean."

The channel shook his head. "No, not unless some new data comes to light regarding them. I understand they love each other. I understand that Buffin probably does have the ability to survive anything Darren might do to her -- with a little training anyway. But none of that is relevant to my decision here -- and it must ultimately be my decision and mine alone."

"And Mazada and Geoff?"

"I'm working with them on the problem. In a couple of months, they'll be back together and the stronger for the break."

"You know that for a fact?"

"No. Nobody, even a Sectuib, can predict the future. Everyone here is free to choose, every moment of every day on every issue. Those who choose to stay are here because they choose to be." And with that his gaze and his full attention rested upon her, the implications were as clear as they could be.

He thinks I should leave Zeor. But that was unthinkable. She started to speak, but the channel was rising.

"Think about this very carefully," Klyd said in a deceptively calm voice. "If you can not accept what Zeor is all about, then perhaps you should move on." Before she could answer, the channel left the room and softly closed the heavily insulated door behind him.

Awash in guilt and doubt Kareen sat there crying for a long time. Finally, drying her tears she went to the infirmary to support Jimin who was still working with the sick Gens.

The channel however, immediately knew something was wrong, in spite of her attempt to project a bright and cheerful field for him to rest in. Sending for another channel to take his place, Jimin led her to an empty office and gently seated her.

"What's wrong sweetheart? Have you been fighting with Sectuib again?"

"He thinks I should leave Zeor," Kareen wailed, fresh tears beginning to fall.

"Tell me about it," Jimin offered her his handkerchief as tears of sympathy begin to wet his own cheeks.

Kareen took a deep breath. "He talked about Rather giving the Reception to Zeor.. He sees Zeor as dream, a goal a hope for the future. It's a living, growing organism. The principles that it is founded on, that give it life have to govern his decisions. What he personally wants doesn't really count."

"And what are those principles?" Jimin was watching her very intensely.

Shen what's going on here? He should know this. Aloud Kareen said, "the presence of the Divine in our lives, total eschewing of the Kill, the concept that Gens are people, bowing as it were to the power and beauty he says Gens have." Kareen's eyes widened. "Why Jimin what is it? What's wrong?"

The channel had risen to slam his fist against the wall. "Shen and shid!" he yelled. "Why didn't I see this before? I'm a bloodyshen fool."

Totally bewildered, Kareen went quickly to Jimin's side, wrapping him in a cocoon of Gen love and comfort. "What is it sweetheart?" As he turned to face her, she studied him carefully but didn't see any sign of physical problems. He did however have a very angry and frustrated look on his face.

Jimin took a deep breath, visibly willing himself to cooperate with Kareen's field and calm down. "I haven't been happy in Zeor for a long time now."

Oh shen! Not him too. Is there no end to the problems I cause? Kareen fought to keep her field steady. "Tell me about it." Taking him arm, she lead him back to his seat.

The channel met her eyes. "Now I know why. Klyd is not my sectuib anymore. He hasn't been ever since that day he refused to let us teach our special transfer techniques to the other channels and Companions. I should have known then that Zeor will never grow in ways I'd like it to. At least not in our lifetimes."

Kareen blinked. "You don't mean that." But inside she knew the channel was telling the truth and it frightened her.

"yes, I do." Jimin's reply was soft. "Zeor's dream, Zeor's hope, is no longer enough for me. I have a new Sectuib now."

Shenshid, he can't mean...... Aloud she said, "who sweetheart?"

Jimin took her hands. "You're my Sectuib now, darling. You have been for a long time. I've just been too stupid and too stubborn to see it."

Denial rang through Kareen's field causing the channel to flinch. "No, you're wrong. I'm not anybody's Sectuib. Klyd is......."

The channel shook his head. Yes you are. You have the dream, the vision that Zeor doesn't have. May never have. That's what being a Sectuib is all about. You see a world where all Simes have a Companion. Where there is true equality between Simes and Gens. Zeor's vision does not include that. It may never include that."

Kareen was shaking her head, but the channel went on relentlessly. "Zeor is Zeor. It has a dream, a vision too, but not the one I want to work towards. Not any more. You carry that dream within your very being. My dream, my vision......"

With every nerve in her body screaming in denial, Kareen jumped up and ran out of the room. She just couldn't listen anymore. Zeor is my House. I can't leave. I'm not a Sectuib.

Seeking solitude, Kareen ran outside to a park like area behind the infirmary. There were benches and some playground equipment. Mercifully it was deserted. Sinking to a bench Kareen took a deep breath trying to get her emotions under control.

Now what do I do? Klyd wants me to leave Zeor, Jimin thinks I'm his Sectuib. What a mess! I wish I had neverlearned how to serve special transfers or .....

"But those are the right things to do. I know they are," she said out loud. Nevertheless her internal voice said implacably I can't keep attacking Zeor and that is what I have been doing. Klyd's not the problem. Zeor is. Despair washed over her. She had to do what she knew was right. Yet to leave Zeor was unthinkable.

Suddenly the air was filled with laughter as a small group of children burst into the clearing. Seeing Kareen they rushed over to her.

"Sosu Kareen, wanna play ball?" A youngster named Rosita came over to the Companion and placed a ball in her lap. "you play kickball better than the channels."

Kareen had to laugh at that. The channels rarely played kickball, but when they did, Gens and children didn't have a chance. "I'm not feeling well", she temporized. "Why don't you play while I watch?" She smiled as the other children gathered around her. "There are enough of you for two teams." Her eyes widened as she recognized the two girls she and Klyd had met in town.

"Lindi, Shanna what are you doing here?" Holding out her hands, she beckoned for the two new girls to come closer. Lindi climbed into her lap, while Shanna stood close by her side.

"They ran away from home." One of the older boys offered. "Lindi thinks she's going to be a channel."

"I am going to be a channel." Lindi's voice was determined. "I want to be like Sectuib and help people."

"So do I" Shanna chimed in. "But I'm going to be a Companion like you." Admiration filled her eyes as she regarded Kareen. "Then I can take care of Simes."

"You don't have anything to say about it," scoffed Rosita. "Only God can decide if you are Sime or Gen."

"And it really doesn't matter" Kareen heard herself say. "Sime or Gen, you kids will never have to Kill or be afraid of being Killed."

"Nobody should have to kill." Lindi was staring very hard at Kareen. "Will some people always have to kill?"

Kareen blinked, focusing momentarily inward: ... The park vanished and she was standing alone on a windswept hill in the midst of gathering storm clouds. She shivered pulling her blue Zeor cape more tightly around her. A sudden gust of wind tore the cape from her shoulders and drove it high into the darkened sky. In horror she watched as it dissolved into a myriad of tiny sparkling blue bits that vanished like fireflies when the storms come. A terrible sense of loss came over her. Falling to her knees, she began to weep, though she knew not why. Something precious had been taken from her, but she wasn't sure what. She shivered as cold rain began to beat down upon her.

When the rain stopped, Kareen looked up. Sunlight glowed around her. Rising to her feet she looked around. She was surrounded by a crowd of happy Simes and Gens laughing, talking in perfect harmony. Each Sime attended by a Gen. Each Gen revered and protected by a Sime. A shiver of happiness akin to ecstasy coursed through her body. Yes yes, this is how it should be. Simes and Gens in perfect harmony, perfect equality.

In a blinding moment of clarity she realized that this was the dream the vision she so desperately wanted for Zeor. But it was not Zeor's vision, it was her vision. And in that endless moment she knew what she had to do. She had a vision, a dream, a hope, a prayer that like Klyd before her, she had to nourish, protect and allow to grow to be passed on to generations yet unborn. Not in her lifetime, but maybe in the far distant future this dream must be realized. .......

"Will some people always have to kill?" an insistent voice rang in her ears.

Kareen blinked returning to the here and now. "I don't think so" she said in answer to Lindi's question. "Someday no one will have to Kill." Kareen shivered. "And someday every Sime will have a Companion," she whispered. And knew in her heart and soul that it was true.

Lindi was staring up at the Companion. "I'm going to help", the child said with determination.

Kareen hugged her. "Yes you will. You and your sister, and your children and your children's children. Until someday nobody Kills ever." She smiled at the children around her. "You can all help." Gently she set Lindi on her feet and stood up. "I have to get back to work now."

"Yeah, I bet Hajene Jimin's looking for you." Rosita retrieved her ball. "Come play with us later?"

"If I can," promised Kareen as she left the playground.

She found Jimin in his office. As he raised his head from folded arms, she noticed that his eyes were full of tears. Quickly going into a supportive mode, she perched on the edge of his desk, to take him in her arms. "What is it sweetheart?"

The channel's smile was weak as he met her eyes. "I've been contemplating leaving Zeor."

"We don't have much choice", his Companion responded softly as she began to play with his chronically mussed hair.

Jimin looked up at her in surprise. "But only a few minutes ago you were denying...."

"I was wrong," Kareen replied softly. "You were right. I carry in my heart a vision, similar to Zeor's but different." But not so very different from Zeor's - just incompatible at the moment. Maybe in a thousand years, things would be different. But for now, I have a vision to follow, and like Rimon, I will. 'It's not that I can't follow Klyd - it's that I can't follow.... I have to lead.

"You know you are the Sectuib... er ...I mean Sosectu."

Kareen smiled weakly. "Reluctantly yes. I can see this now. But Jimin I want you to promise me something. I am not going to repeat Rior's mistakes."

"If it is within my power to do so."

"Accept the position of First channel in our new House." Slowly she tasted the words. They felt right. "Yes, First channel with all the same powers a Sectuib has here in Zeor. Complete charge of selyn distribution, transfer problems and the like. There are many decisions a only channel can make."

With a smile Jimin let his tentacles caress Kareen's hands and wrists. "I will do my best Sosectu." He met her eyes. "Shall we go see Klyd?"

A short time later they were seated before the Sectuib's desk. "What can I do for you?" the channel asked formally. But Kareen thought he already knew.

Jimin and Kareen looked at each other, the channel giving her a quiet nod. She took a deep breath. "Sectuib, we want to retrieve our pledges. We are leaving Zeor."

"For Keon?"

"No," replied Kareen indignantly. "In spite of our differences, Zeor is a thousand times better than Keon. I can't stand Risa."

Klyd smiled at that. "So what do you have in mind? I don't know of any other House that is going to accept your radical ideas."

"We're going to start our own House," Jimin said. "We don't know where yet, but we need to be on our own to make Kareen's vision work."

Klyd looked quizzically at the other channel. "What's your role going to be in all this?"

Quickly summarizing Kareen's words in that regard, Jimin firmly met Klyd's eyes. "Will you give us your blessing, Sectuib? This is something we have to do."

"Yes, this has been inevitable for some time now. Your pledges are yours. We'll hold a ceremony when the kitchen can get everything ready for a party." Then he focused his attention on the Gen before him. "Sosectu Kareen, will you accept the sponsorship of Householding Zeor? I would be very honored to invest your new House."

Kareen was stunned, unbidden tears filling her eyes anew. Struggling to match the Sectuib's formal tone she replied, "It will be a great honor to have Zeor's sponsorship. My House thanks you, Sectuib." Tears streaming down her cheeks, Kareen stared in awe at the Sectuib.

Rounding his desk, Klyd perched on a corner to take Kareen's hands, gently caressing her wrists with his handling tentacles. "It is a brave and wonderful thing you are doing Kareen. I'm sure your House is going to be a worthy Daughter to Zeor."

"Even if you don't think we are going to succeed?" Freeing one hand, Kareen dashed the tears from her eyes and made a rather belated attempt to bring her field under control. "Even if what we're doing will be a danger to the world?"

"Even so." Klyd sighed, suddenly looked very wary as if bracing himself for another argument.

Feeling very guilty, Kareen met his eyes. "Sectuib, please understand. This isn't what either one of us really WANTS to do. We love Zeor. Everything you said this afternoon -- surely you know what I was feeling then. Nothing can mean more to me than Zeor."

Klyd smiled warmly. "Zeor undoubtedly will always be a part of you. But the day will come when you will know in your heart that your dream, your vision is more important to you than anything else in the world. You just don't see it yet."


To Kareen's surprise the announcement created a general air of elation in the House. With the flu epidemic long over and spring in full bloom, the ambrov Zeor were in a mood to party. And for what better reason than sending off a Daughter House. She and Jimin were besieged on all sides with offers of help. A few people even asked if they could pledge the new House. Mazada and Geoff were among the first to volunteer to go.

A few days after their interview with Klyd, Kareen was alone in Jimin's office doing some paperwork, when Aran walked in looking very depressed and plopped himself into a seat "Where's Dad?" he demanded.


"In Geoff's office. They are helping Mazada with the supply lists for our new House." She studied her son carefully. He was still in recovery from some difficult functional. Changing to a seat by his side, Kareen enveloped him in a supporting field. "Where is your Companion?"

"He was criticizing you and Dad for leaving Zeor, so I sent him away."

"Is that why you look like shen?"

"Nope. I just had a difficult time with what should have been a simple transfer. I'm confused."

"Tell me about it," suggested his Mother. "I don't promise I have any answers but..."

Aran snorted. "Dad says you have an answer for everything. Remember Darren, that kid you forced Sectuib to bring home?"

"Of course. Don't tell me Klyd still insisted he have channel's transfer? He and Buffin are going to be going with us."

"He's still under Zeor's roof. Sectuib was very adamant. But I'm beginning to think that he made the wrong decision."


"Darren aborted on me several times. He even begged me to let him die. In the end I had to force transfer on him. He's in the infirmary right now, seriously suicidal. I've left orders for Buffin to be sent to him as soon as someone

has taken her donation. I hope that pulls him out of it."

Kareen was shocked. "He wanted to die, even though he knows Buffin is his next month?"

Aran grimaced. "That was no consolation. It felt like my selyn was nauseating him no matter what flavor of Genness I offered him. I don't understand it." Aran's brow furrowed in thought.

Sensing that her son was at a turning point, Kareen remained silent, merely offering a supportive understanding field.

Finally the channel stirred. "Mom, I'm beginning to think you are right."

"About what?"

"Maybe we have been wrong all along. Maybe direct Gen transfer is best for some Simes. I was actually making Darren sick."

Kareen shook her head. "I suspect that Darren was reacting emotionally. Having once tasted a real Gen transfer, perhaps nothing a channel can offer can compare with that."

"Or maybe I'm not the channel I think I am."

"You are an excellent channel," Kareen replied firmly. "It was not your fault what happened."

Aran turned haunted eyes to his mother. "Mom, I have to know. And the only way....."

Kareen flinched at the pain in her son's eyes. "Is to what?"


"Come with you." The channel's tone was anguished. If you are right and Klyd, Zeor is wrong..." He shook his head as tears filled his eyes. "Mom, I just have to know the truth. I'm not going to find it in Zeor"

Kareen, knowing what that admission cost him, put her hand on her son's wrist, strengthening her support. "leave Zeor, the House that you love so very much." Kareen's heart ached for her son. "Are you sure that's what you want to do?"

The channel slid to his knees before his Mother. "Please Mom. Let me come. It's what I have to do."

"There is no question that you are more than welcome. If you are sure that this is what you want." Kareen took her son into a warm embrace.

"It is what I have to do." The channel's voice was muffled against her shoulder, but Kareen could sense that Aran's mind was made up, so she remained silent focusing only on helping him to restore his emotional equilibrium.

Finally he looked up with a tiny smile. "Thanks Mom." Rising to his feet he left the room before she could find the words to reply.

As the elation at having her son come with her wore off Kareen was consumed with guilt. This was another good channel Zeor was losing because of her, right when they were already strained to the limit. 'If only I could change Klyd's mind, I wouldn't have to do this to him.' Instantly she was assailed with doubts - envisioning a world where Zeor wasn't Zeor anymore. No, she didn't want to change Zeor. She wanted to bring it with her. With a tired sigh Kareen returned to her work.

That night her transfer with Jimin was less than satisfactory. She was unable to keep her feelings of regret and guilt from her field. Afterwards, they cried together.

Kareen's depression grew as preparations for the departure consumed more and more of her time. To her surprise Aran came up with a name for the House that showed greater insight than she had given him credit for. He chose CHANEL, the Simelan word for Born to Serve. Jimin contributed the House colors of brown, red and Gold.

Kareen and Mazada designed a logo consisting of a gold lamp of knowledge inside a large red semicircle representing the embracing spirit. Someone commented it looked like one of the letters in Ancient script, and tried spelling the House name in Ancient script - starting with that letter. Kareen adopted it immediately. Old roots for a new House.

Wagons were loaded with supplies. The dining hall was decorated with Zeor and Chanel colors. After much arguing back and forth Kareen and Mazada finally came up with a design for a Householding cape that both felt was attractive. Every seamstress in Zeor was pressed into service to get enough capes made in time for the ceremony. Finally with much pomp the Eternal Flame was brought from the Memorial to the One Billion to reside in a place of honor in the Dining Hall.

That night Kareen was summoned to Klyd's office. She found the channel in a very subdued mood. "Sit down, Kareen. I have something for you."

"But Sectuib. you have done enough. Nobody can be more generous." she protested as she sat down. "You look tired. Let me" Almost without volition Kareen's field, in response to the pain she perceived as coming from Klyd, went into a state of Selyur Nager that brought a tiny smile to the channel's eyes. Her heart ached. Never again would she be able to perform this service for the man she would always think of as Sectuib. "I'm going to miss this," she said softly.

Briefly the channel's eyes lit up. "Me too." Taking a large bag of coins from his desk drawer Klyd crossed the room to sit by the Gen. "This is for you and Chanel. There's enough here to buy some land. If you follow the Mizippi River north, I've heard there's some farmland for sale along the border."

Kareen was stunned. "But Sectuib, Klyd...Zeor can't afford this." She tried to hand the bag back, but the channel refused to take it.

"Let me decide what Zeor can and can't afford. I want you to have it. You - all of you - have more than earned it over the years." Klyd was staring at her affectionately. "You know I wish you the best of luck. I sincerely hope you succeed, and in the process, find happiness."

"I I wish it could be different." Kareen let her love for Zeor fill her field, bringing a smile to the channel's eyes, if not his lips.

"You wouldn't be the Kareen I respect and admire so much, if you denied your own vision and destiny, even for Zeor."

Impulsively Kareen threw her arms around the channel. "Oh Klyd. I'm going to miss you. In many ways you will always be my Sectuib."

Returning her embrace, the channel held her close for a few minutes. Then releasing her, he said firmly, "Go on to bed now. You need your sleep. I'll meet you tomorrow for the ceremony."


The next afternoon the entire House of Zeor met in the dining room, dressed in their party best. Though the majority of the members were dressed in Zeor blue, there was a respectable number of red Chanel capes sprinkled throughout the room.

Kareen stood with Klyd, Hugh and Jimin behind a small table covered with a white cloth. In the middle of the table was the Eternal Flame. Beside it one blue and one red candle waited in silver holders.

Picking up the blue candle, Klyd indicated the Eternal Flame. "This flame which burns continuously stands for the many martyrs in the cause of eliminating the Kill. It is a universal, eternal flame shared by the many Houses who stand firmly against the kill and are willing to do whatever it takes to eliminate it."

Pausing a moment, he picked up the blue candle and lit it. "Zeor's contribution to the Eternal Flame is the virtue of Excellence. Only by striving to be all that we can, both as individuals and a House can we hope to defeat our ancient enemy." He then extended the flame of Zeor to Kareen.

Picking up the red candle, she lit the light of Chanel from Zeor's flame. "Zeor's virtue of Striving for Excellence has taught us many things. It has taught us how to be better than we are, has given us the courage to press forward even in the face of defeat striving always for the best we can be. Yes, Sectuib we will always be part of Zeor. But it is time for us to move on. To make our own contributions to the eternal flame. Chanel's offering to the Eternal Flame is that of Service. Simes and Gens need to learn to live together in harmony, serving one another in equal partnership. Then and only then can we hope to be free of the kill."

Kareen and Klyd then returned their candles to the holders, one on each side of the eternal flame.

The Sectuib in Zeor turned to face the Gen by his side. "Zeor recognizes Chanel the House born to serve, as the next step for those of you who wish to live by the Virtue of Excellence in Service. As Sectuib in Zeor I recognize and support your desire to pursue that facet of the Eternal Flame."

Pausing a moment, Klyd took a plaque that Hugh handed him, and gave it to Kareen. She was stunned. It was a bronze replica of the Chanel logo. "Oh Sectuib," she whispered.

The channel grinned. "Chanel has chosen for it's logo the ancient lamp of knowledge. It stands for light and truth, the advancement of knowledge and progression of the human race."

Facing the audience again, Klyd pronounced, "As sectuib in Zeor I recognize Chanel as an independent daughter House. I further recognize Kareen ambrov Chanel as Sosectu and First Companion in Chanel." Taking Kareen's hands, he briefly covered her wrists with his handling tentacles.

Then he turned to the channel standing beside Kareen. "Jimin ambrov Chanel I recognize you as First channel in Chanel." The two channels join hands briefly intertwining tentacles.

Klyd then invited those who were to pledge Chanel to come forward.

Mazada was first. Putting her hands in Kareen's she said softly "Unto the House of Chanel, I pledge my life, my hopes and dreams, my substance and my children. And unto the Sosectu in Chanel I pledge my love, my trust, my undying loyalty, as I serve the House by serving others. Unto Chanel forever."

With a lump in her throat, Kareen replied steadily "Unto Mazada ambrov Chanel I pledge my trust, my substance and the love of our House, as from darkness to light we walk together. Unto Chanel forever."

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