Zelerod's Doom


By Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah

[Jacqueline originally wrote 23 pages of ramblings that included material to fill three books. What you see here is what Jean Lorrah plucked from that, rounded out, and made into a novel outline. ZELEROD'S DOOM (working title) is under contract to DAW, and should be written this spring and summer. It's due to be published after Jean's AMBROV KEON, possibly as early as Dec., 1986. Changes have already been made from this outline--a character added, for instance--but it should give you an idea of what was going on in Sime/Gen history roughly 10-12 years after HoZ. All comments are welcomed.]

This is the third book in a tetralogy consisting of AMBROV KEON, HOUSE OF ZEOR, ZELEROD'S DOOM, and SHEN THE TECTON. The last two books are about a power struggle among three ideals--Zeor, Rior, and Keon--represented by three people: Klyd Farris, Hugh Valleroy, and Risa Tigue. The three are in complete agreement that Sime/Gen Unity is the only defense against Zelerod's Doom (the point at which the growing Sime population kills off all the Gens, then dies of attrition). What they cannot agree on is how to bring about, and then safely maintain, Unity.

ZELEROD'S DOOM opens with Sime raiders from Nivet Territory (Zeor's Sime Territory) invading the peaceful garden of Gulf Territory (Keon's Sime Territory)--followed by Gen militia from the New Washington Gen Territory where the Simes have been raiding.

Since Risa Tigue became a moving force in AMBROV KEON, Gulf Territory has achieved an internal unity unlike that of any other Sime Territory. Here the two Householdings are businesses in which thousands of junct renSimes hold stock. There are plenty of pen Gens for the juncts, for fully a third of the Simes who have changed over in the past fifteen years are nonjunct or disjunct, and the percentage grows each year. Gen children of Simes often live with their families, and the Territory government, heavily populated with members of Householdings Keon and Carre, has recently declared freeborn Gens to be free taxpaying citizens (who pay their tax in selyn through channels).

All this is possible because of Risa Tigue's economic theories--she thinks. What Risa does not take into account is how much of Gulf Territory's success is due to its being very small, and located in a semi-tropical area in which food is plentiful and easy to grow to support the Gens who support the Simes with their selyn. Also, the Territory has just achieved this state of equilibrium in the past fifteen years or so; no one has any idea how precarious the balance is.

Although the people of Gulf Territory help to round up the Sime raiders, the Gen army does not distinguish raiding Simes from any other Simes; many Simes are murdered who meant no harm to any Gen. Some Simes then kill in retaliation. One person barely saved from being killed is Harris Emstead, leader of the Gen army, who is taken to Keon. There he sees their way of life and learns of their plans to disjunct the Territory, before he rounds up his men and returns home. When the fighting is over, Risa sets out to see that no such event ever happens again. To find out what went wrong, she contacts the Tecton, which exists in Nivet Territory but not in Gulf Territory--Keon has refused to join Klyd Farris' Tecton because it would bar Risa from channeling; she is disjunct, not nonjunct. (There may never have been a disjunct Sectuib before--Rimon Farris, the first channel, was not Sectuib of a Householding.) Although Keon was originally a daughter Householding to Carre, Carre is now a poor relation following Keon's lead.

Nivet Territory is much larger now than it was in the days of Rimon Farris (FIRST CHANNEL). Over the centuries it has expanded (we saw the first such step in CHANNEL'S DESTINY) across Gen Territories, to join with other Sime Territories into one huge unit. The most recent such expansion closed the Gen corridor down the middle of the continent, now the only such Gen-held corridor east of the far western mountains (on whose slopes FIRST CHANNEL took place) lies a few miles on either side of the Mizipi river. Thus the raiders who were caught on the east side of the river found it easier to try to duck into Gulf Territory for safety than to ride for home.

Members of Keon have been to Nivet Territory before, but no one has ventured very far into the western part. Klyd Farris invites a team from Keon to join him in trying to find a solution to the severe Gen shortage in their Territory.

The Householders knew Zelerod's Doom was approaching. What has accelerated it is a drought that has thus far lasted three years. The whole central section of Nivet Territory has been used for generations for Genfarming--land that had not been cultivated since the Sime/Gen wars that established the Territories has been deforested and planted to provide food for the Territory Gen supply. What they have done, of course, is to create the dust bowl all over again. To add to the problem, they have affected the ecology of Gen Territory as well, and Gens are moving eastward in their own Territory, out of easy raiding range.

In Nivet Territory, as we saw in HOUSE OF ZEOR, the Householdings are barely tolerated. They have little or no influence in government. The Sime population has grown in recent years because of the easy availability of Gens; now the Gen population is dying out through the double problem of generations of inbreeding and the current lack of adequate food. Trouble is brewing.

At Zeor, Risa and her party meet Hugh Valleroy, and for the first time find out about Rior. Risa and Hugh hit it off philosophically at once, although Risa disapproves of Hugh's cavalier attitude toward Gens who are killed: they bring it on themselves. Still, for all the safeguards Keon and Carre use to prevent frightened Gens from coming to harm, Keon practices are much closer to Rior's than to Zeor's. On one point Risa and Hugh stand adamantly against Klyd: every Sime is entitled to direct Gen transfer. Klyd has never been able to understand Hugh's feelings on this point.

Risa has all kinds of ideas about what to do about conditions in Nivet Territory--but there is not enough time to implement them before the Gen shortage becomes critical. Klyd, Hugh, Risa, her husband Sergi, her daughter Verina, Klyd's daughter Muryin, and some others, start out on a long trek to the Territory Capital. It will take weeks to get there--the people from Gulf Territory are getting their first idea of just how huge Nivet Territory is.

Risa's daughter Verina and Klyd's daughter Muryin are close in age, and very rapidly become fast friends. Muryin will be a Farris channel--she could change over at any moment and really should not travel, but how could she be in better company than surrounded by superb channels and Companions? Besides, she is Klyd's only living child; he can deny her nothing.

Naturally, Muryin changes over on the road, but the Zeor Companion Klyd had brought for her has died in some adventure along the way. So who can give Muryin her First Transfer?

Hugh wants to do it, and certainly has the capacity, but Klyd does not want Muryin to have a Rior-style First Transfer. The ensuing bitter dispute brings out the growing disagreements between the two men.

Although having First Transfer from a channel rather than a Companion could impair Muryin's abilities all her life, Klyd prepares to serve her himself--but Risa and Sergi will not hear of it. Sergi is First Companion in Keon with a world of experience--including disjuncting Risa.

But Risa and Sergi are in torluen (supposedly unbreakable dependency). Klyd fears his daughter will be shenned out of her First transfer. However, Risa and Sergi insist that they have managed before, twice in fact, when someone else had needed Sergi more than Risa. (Note setup for Klyd's belief in SHEN THE TECTON that he can break his dependency on Hugh. Anything Keon can do, Zeor can do better.) Yes, it is immensely uncomfortable--but what is misery for a few hours and discomfort until their next transfer together compared to a channel's whole future?

So the heir to Zeor receives First Transfer from the First Companion in Keon.

The party proceeds westward along the Eyeway. Just as they are about to turn south toward the capital, they meet a party of Householders on a mission of mercy to Ardo Pass. Snows have blocked the pass so that Gen shipments could not get through. The news has just come that an emergency shipment was buried under an avalanche. Now, if they can get through to the town, the people will just have to accept transfer from channels to survive, and then they'll get them out of there.

So the Zeor/Keon party join forces with the others, and fight their way through the late spring snows to Ardo Pass, where they meet Sime Militia from the capital, bringing more pen Gens along a different trail.

But when they break through to the small community so famous for its summertime horse auctions, they find Zelerod's Doom in microcosm. Everyone is dead, and the frozen bodies tell a gruesome story: after all the Gens were dead, Sime turned on Sime, the stronger stripping the weaker of selyn . . . and the last ones left died of attrition or suicide.

When they proceed to the capital with the story, however, the government's response is not to listen to the Householders' proposals but to try to use the Householders as scapegoats! Since they have the best and healthiest Gens, and spoil them so they are no good for the kill, their taxes must be increased so that the government can afford Gens for the rest of the population.

In vain do the Householders point out that no amount of money can buy Gens that do not exist. They barely escape being jailed and executed for treason.

Returning to Zeor, Klyd sends out a call for a meeting of representatives of all the Householdings at Rior. The story of Ardo Pass is spreading rapidly throughout the Territory. By midsummer, the Tecton is assembled.

Klyd has learned from Risa that it is indeed possible to persuade juncts to take transfer from channels, saving kills for those in crisis. Risa and Sergi enthusiastically describe life in Gulf Territory. If they can just find some hold over the junct citizenry and/or government, such as Keon's economic hold, they can bring about stability and cooperation--and eventually a nonjunct society.

But Hugh Valleroy, of all people, is reticent. He tries to dissuade Klyd, and for the first time they have a bad transfer together. Finally, the Rior mathematician who has been warning Hugh to hold off completes her calculations: the population and size of Nivet Territory are such that it is mathematically impossible to serve all the Simes who could not be allowed kills each month with the number of channels they have in their Householdings.

Klyd is devastated. The figures are as indisputable as Zelerod's; there is no way to make what is going on in Gulf Territory work in Nivet Territory. Risa can see that the figures spell doom for Gulf Territory, too: hordes of Simes in need will spew out of Nivet Territory and lay waste to everything the people of Gulf Territory have created.

While the Tecton Congress has been going on, more and more Simes have gone raiding into Gen Territory. Now comes word that New Washington has an army marching toward Nivet Territory in retaliation.

In the capital, the Nivet government is also massing an army, and commandeering Gens to support it. The government has also decided that what is bringing about Zelerod's Doom is too many Simes. They have suddenly turned many minor crimes into capital offenses. Worst of all, in the hardest times in Territory memory, they have instituted execution for non-payment of legal debts and taxes! People are buying commissions in the army, as it is fast becoming the only place one is safe from execution and assured of a kill each month.

Risa sees at once that such a government is ripe to be overthrown--but it is Klyd who must find the way to do so, while Risa sets out under a flag of truce to meet the New Washington army with the promise that the Householdings will stop the raids. The commander-in-chief of the army is Harris Emstead, whose life Keon saved the year before. Risa reminds him that no raiders have come out of Gulf Territory in many years, and persuades him to bring his troops up to the border, and destroy any raiding parties--but hold off invading Nivet Territory. She buys time, but returns knowing the figures show that in the end time is against all their hopes and dreams.

Klyd, meanwhile, throws Householding money and whatever favors can be called in by the entire Tecton into the effort to unseat the current government. He ultimately ends up in charge and begins implementing Keon-style plans. For the moment, things settle down. But Klyd, Hugh, and Risa all know that the lull is only temporary. Klyd and Hugh fight more and more, for Hugh insists that only a Rior-style society can survive the coming crisis. Their transfers degenerate.

At every crisis in his life before, Klyd has been able to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last moment to solve everything. Now he is in despair, bad transfers only making it worse--for he is watching the end of civilization and perhaps the human race, and the best he can do is delay the worst by a few months.

Then, working among juncts for the first time in his life, he begins to notice a difference in their transfer characteristics. With Farris sensitivity, he discovers the existence of third-order channels!

Here are the thousands of channels they need to make feasible the eventual disjunction of Nivet Territory! True, these channels have very low capacities, but the problem never was capacity, it was geography. There are enough of these third-order channels to be everywhere! The Tecton starts a massive disjunction/training program. Hope blossoms.

And far to the north, victim of the same ecological crisis that almost destroyed Nivet Territory, Norwest Sime Territory explodes out of its borders--an army of Freeband Raiders combined with once good citizens turned raiders with the loss of Gens to support their need. Like locusts, they are heading cross-country toward New Washington, leaving death and destruction in their wake, their ranks swelling with Simes whose livelihood they have destroyed.

The New Washington army cannot combat them alone. But the Nivet Sime army cannot fight without much more selyn than is currently available. Only if the New Washington army will donate selyn through the channels can the two forces together have any chance against the oncoming hordes.

They do it. But there is not one neat battle--one wave after another of raiders come for months on end, berserk with need and having no hope of survival except to take kills from the armies assembled against them. The fighting is carried on across the fertile fields that normally supply food to New Washington Territory. Just as there is a glimmer of hope that they are facing the last of the raiders, the Gens are in danger of dying of starvation. This is when Klyd makes the famous gesture (described as the origin of Faith Day in UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER!) of giving the Gen army every bit of food the Simes have, in return for their selyn. Then they join forces for one last-ditch effort that destroys the raiders once and for all.

The war is over. The Gens of New Washington expect life to go back to the way it was, except with no more Sime raids across their borders. But Klyd wants Unity. There are almost no pen Gens left in-Territory--to keep havoc from breaking out again, the out-Territory Gens must continue to donate selyn. The Simes are willing to trade food and goods for selyn, eventually forming the kind of economic interdependence that works so well in Gulf Territory. But despite further offers to make no claim to any part of the now-empty Norwest Territory, the Gen government refuses to negotiate. People want the borders tightened, they say. Good fences make good neighbors.

Then Risa suggests telling the New Washington government that Nivet and Gulf Territories plan to unify--and take in that narrow strip of Gen Territory that spans the Mizipi river. They would thus cut off access between the two sections of Gen Territory, and close the vital river to Gen use. With an agreement never thus to unify, they are able to achieve the treaty.

Unity is achieved; now the Tecton must see that it works. Since Klyd's plan did work, he and Hugh are reconciled, somewhat reluctantly on Hugh's part. Their final parting will not come until SHEN THE TECTON. For the moment, the world has been saved, and both Simes and Gens can now look forward to a better future.


Copyright © 1984 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah

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