(Author's Note: This is the first in a series of short stories surrounding the life and times of Ryan Farris who first appeared in A New Beginning and The Sands of Time: Part Nine; chronicling the major points in his rather colourful and adventurous life — read, and hopefully, enjoy.)

By Doreen DaBinett

        Logram simultaneously rubbed his eyes and temples with his tentacles as he waited for his colleagues to take their places around the table. Once they were all assembled, he glanced across at the lovely young woman who was sitting on his immediate left.

        'Denise… Report, please.'

        'Well, everyone I've spoken to seems to agree with you. The crisis will undoubtedly hit him this month.'

        'Good,' Logram acknowledged with a brief nod, 'although I have to admit, I think it might have been better if we had been able to delay it for another month.'

        'Unfortunately we sometimes have to play with the cards we're dealt, and not those we would like.' Tylar, a young Gen from Earth who was sitting at the far end of the table, reminded him softly.

        Logram smiled across at him. 'Yes, indeed we do, Tylar.' He said as his eyes moved to the female renSime sitting on the young Gen's left. 'You've spent some considerable time with Ryan over the last few months, Carris, how do you think things are progressing?'

        'As far as reaching his crisis is concerned, I have to admit that I know very little about that, never having experienced it myself. But I can say that, personally, I've seen very little change as far as his general attitude is concerned.'

        'His general attitude. Can you clarify that please?' Gynon asked from his position on Logram's right.

        'Well, I'd be the first to admit that he appears, on the surface, to have more or less accepted the situation as it now stands. But, underneath I don't honestly believe that his feelings have changed one iota.' Carris said at once. 'Look, I'll be blunt if I may? The one place that a man — Gen or Sime — can't really hide his true feelings, at least not all the time, is in bed.

'Now, Ryan, well— he tolerates me simply because if he didn't he'd probably be suffering a bout of coital deprivation long before now.' She paused and then went on, 'of course he hides his feelings well, but I can also sense that he doesn't really like me or respect me. Why? Well, I believe it's because although I'm Sime, I'm not of this world. Now, if his basic feelings about Logram's people hasn't changed over the time that he's been here; how can any of us, Sime or Gen, be certain that any of his other feelings have changed either?'

        'Yet, when I zlin him I sense no duplicity in him, and neither do any of my fellow Simes,' Logram said at once, glancing across at some of the Simes who were sitting around the table for their confirmation.

        'Yes, I agree with you, as far as zlinning him is concerned. However, although I am Sime, my family are mainly Gen. I got used to reading body language and facial expressions long before I changed over; and it sort of became a habit that I have retained even to this day, so I still stand by my feelings.' Carris said flatly.

        Gynon shifted uneasily in his seat as he felt Logram's eyes come to rest on him. 'I have to admit that I, too, do not feel that Ryan is being entirely sincere. There have been many occasions when I have been discussing various matters with him that I have felt…' Gynon hesitated momentarily and then went on, '…perhaps —I am mistaken.'

        Logram smiled across at his friend, 'perhaps you are. After all, if you could zlin you might feel differently.'

        'Why is he mistaken Logram?' Denise suddenly demanded to know. 'All the Gens that I have spoken to who have come into contact with Ryan agree with Gynon and Carris. Now, I realise that you and all the other Simes are relying entirely on your zlinning abilities, and normally, I'd defer to that, but not on this occasion.'

She paused and then went on, 'I think you are all forgetting one very vital fact, junct or not, Ryan is still a Farris Channel and a First, and no disrespect to you as a Farris Channel, too, Logram but you are a Second. Has it never occurred to you that, even untrained, Ryan might still find it comparatively easy to mislead all of you, should he wish to do so?'

        'It's only a pity Jordan and Vidal are no longer here. I doubt he'd fool either of them.' Carris said softly.

'Carris please!' Gynon frowned down the table at the young Sime, 'Logram may not be Sectuib, but he is our temporary head of Householding, and, as such, deserves your respect.'

        'And he has my respect Gynon, but this matter is far too important for us to allow ourselves to be blinded by the fact that our leader is a Second and Ryan is a First. As such if he chooses to work at it, he can pull the wool over his eyes, too. Am I not correct, Logram?' she challenged.

        'Yes, of course you are,' the Second said tiredly. 'Perhaps I am allowing my eagerness for Ryan to join us to cloud my better judgment.'

        The two Amiz brothers, who were sitting to one side of the table, glanced at each other before Dan, who always seemed to do the talking for the pair of them said, 'my brother, Bewt, and I tend to agree with Logram. Neither of us has ever zlinned any duplicity in Ryan's nager. Indeed, he has always seemed to be perfectly honest and above board in everything he says and does.'

        The other Simes in the room all nodded their agreement, except for Carris.

        Logram sighed softly. 'Well, it seems we have reached a stalemate. My fellow Simes, apart from Carris, feels that Ryan is softening his attitude towards us; while the Gens, my companion included, tend to the reverse view. I might suggest taking a vote on it, but quite honestly I feel it's too important a matter to leave to random chance.'

        'I agree with you there.' Tylar said at once. 'After all, it isn't just a matter of believing “what he says” as against “what he thinks.” It's far more important than that, because on the outcome of that question lies the decision about the amount of freedom we decide to give him, and how soon it is given.'

        'Yes, I realise that.' Logram nodded his head as he scratched his chin with a tentacle. 'Well, at least we don't have to make a final decision until he has actually disjuncted. You know, I truly believe that whatever he thinks — or feels about the project now, will change once that milestone has been passed.'

        Suddenly all the Simes turned their heads to look towards the door as a soft knock sounded, and the door opened to admit a young Gen male.

        'Ah— come in Marcus.' Logram gestured to a seat down one side of the table.

        'I'm sorry to be so late. I got caught up in a slight crisis in the kitchen,' the young Gen explained as he sat down beside the two Amiz brothers.

        Logram glanced around the table before he said, 'Well, if no one has anything more to say about that particular point, then I suggest…'

        'Please, if I may Logram?'

        All eyes turned to Marcus as Logram nodded consent for him to speak.

        'Dan's just filled me in on what you've been discussing. I think I have something that may add weight to one side of the argument. I was going to speak to you privately about it, but now…' He paused and then went on, 'I was talking to Sten last night. He's one of the three new renSimes who joined us two weeks ago. Apparently, Ryan asked him to fetch something for him, and later he tried to talk Sten into helping him get away from here; promising him God knows what for his cooperation.'

        'Hardly the actions of someone who's seriously considering committing to us,' Carris said wryly as she glanced at Logram, 'or don't you agree?'

        'Yes that does put a slightly different slant on the matter,' Logram agreed grudgingly, and then went on, 'but even so, as I said a few minutes ago — let us leave things as they are for now, because I still feel that his priorities, and his attitude, will change once he's disjuncted.'

'And you dare to say Gens are born optimists?' Gynon whispered as Logram sighed and turned to the next item on the agenda.

        'I'm glad you've joined us Marcus, because I want to ask you how you feel about being the foil to Denise when Ryan's time comes? It's one of the main reasons I've let you spend so much time with him this past month.'

        Marcus grinned, 'I thought you had an ulterior motive,' he confessed wryly. 'If you feel I am able to do this, then, of course, I'll do my best.'

        Logram nodded slowly before he said, 'Marcus you do realise just how dangerous this can be don't you?' He paused and then went on. 'Of course. I and another Sime, probably Anton, will be standing by to intercede should he turn away from Denise; but even so, I can't stress enough just how risky this may be for you. Do you still want to do this?'

        'And who else will volunteer if I don't?' the Gen demanded, 'and just remember, no one else has spent the last few weeks getting to know him…'

        'Just because you've become friends—' Tylar said.

        'Hey, I wouldn't go that far!' Marcus replied with a grin, 'but he does seem to tolerate me a bit more than anyone else.'

        'Surely Ryan wouldn't consider trying to take Marcus over Denise?' Belle an older Gen asked, speaking for the first time. 'From the small amount I've read about disjuncting since I came here from Earth; Ryan must realise that if he does turn to him, he'll Kill him! Sorry to say that Marcus, but it's true.'

        'Belle, that's the whole point of the exercise.' Marcus retorted at once. 'To disjunct, a Sime — any Sime — has to face a choice. In Ryan's case it'll be a choice of Denise, who can give him transfer easily, or me, who he knows he can Kill.'

        'And it's only by turning away from Marcus and the Killbliss that he offers, to Denise and what she offers, that he'll be able to disjunct.' Logram added softly. 'And if anyone wants to find out just how difficult that decision can be, then I suggest they ask one of our new renSimes who have recently disjuncted.'

        'Yes, but don't forget one thing,' Carris said, 'all the Simes who we've disjuncted so far have wanted to do so — which is half the battle. Ryan quite obviously does not!'

        Silence momentarily fell around the table as everyone absorbed her words and the implication behind them.

        Belle broke the silence again as she murmured in a shocked voice, 'Do you realise just how dangerous this is? I mean, Simes can move so quickly. Do you honestly believe that you and Anton can stop Ryan before he Kills Marcus?'

        'I know it's dangerous.' Logram conceded at once, 'Centuries ago what we propose doing was practised by most of the new Householdings on Earth, all the time. And yes, I realise we aren't very experienced at this. Most of what we're doing is gleaned from books and not personal experience. But there really is no alternative, it's the only way a Sime, even a Channel, like Ryan can disjunct.' He hesitated and then said softly, 'remember, it has worked as far as the renSimes are concerned.'

        Logram sighed as he watched his tentacles dance through his fingers for a few moments before he went on, 'in many ways I feel that I should be doing this and not a Gen. In the old days the head of House would always shoulder the burden of responsibility.'

        'Agreed; but as I've said before, you're forgetting that in those days the head of House was usually a First. On top of that, they usually had someone else who could take over if anything went drastically wrong. Tell me, if anything happened to you, who would take over — even temporarily?' Gynon demanded logically.

        Denise nodded her agreement as she said, 'Marcus does realise the danger; and like Belle, and I he come from Earth and were brought up by Sime parents. Besides, Logram, you said that you feel that Marcus won't panic, and will be able to hold it together long enough for Ryan to be pulled off him if necessary.'

        'If he can't, then as a final resort, Marcus will have to shen him!' Gynon said bluntly.

        'You do realise that such an action could kill Ryan?' Carris pointed out softly.

        'I don't mean to be callous, but if he fails the test, then it won't really matter will it?' Gynon said calmly.

        Logram nodded his head as he said in a quiet voice, 'Gynon is correct. A junct Channel is of no use to us at all. If he fails the test, then from our point of view, he'll be better off dead. Alive, he would be nothing more than a liability, quite possibly for the rest of his life.'

        Every Sime and Gen in the room absorbed the implication of his words for several seconds before Denise said, 'I must get back to Ryan. He's expecting me, and I don't want to antagonise him this close to transfer.'

        'Yes, I agree,' Logram smiled across at her, 'the time of decision grows ever closer. You must stick to him like a leech for the next week. Remember, from now on do not leave any of our other Gens — especially Marcus — alone with him.'

        'I have ordered that only renSimes tend to him till all this is over,' Gynon informed his friend quietly, as Denise left the room.


        Ryan watched the Gens and Simes outside his small window as they went about their daily chores.

        His anger began to rise again as he reconsidered his predicament. Why hadn't his family found him yet? It was not like his mother to allow things to come to this pass without taking matters into her own hands.

Although, if he was honest with himself, he had little doubt but that she would already have turned the planet upside down to find him. Not because she had any deep feelings for him, of course not; it would be more a matter of Farris pride, that someone, anyone, would even dare to lay a tentacle on a member of her family.

Dermott, of course, the little snake would be in total agreement with his mother over everything she said, but in the quiet of the night he would be cock a hoop that Ryan might not come back, and he, Dermott, would become the legitimate heir!

        Ryan extended his tentacles watching as they quivered in the cool evening air. Logram had warned him about how things could get worse as his transfer approached. Ryan straightened his back as he retracted his tentacles and took a deep breath, expanding his lungs.

He fully intended to pass this test that they had set him; not because he wished to disjunct or even to stop Killing, for he wished to do neither. But simply because he had little doubt that they would give him far more freedom once he had done so, freedom that he would use to his advantage primarily to get away from this place, and take Denise with him.

For while he did not, for one moment, accept everything Logram and his people had told him, he did believe him when he said that Killing itself, was probably the root cause of many of his troubles. Indeed, since he had been taking transfer from Denise he had hardly had any of the many small irritations and mood swings that had plagued him all his life.

Although having said that, he also felt that they were not being totally honest with him when they said that he must never Kill again! How could the odd Kill — just once in a while — affect him so adversely?

As he thought about it, he realised again just how drawn he was becoming to Marcus, even though he knew that to touch him would undoubtedly mean death for the young Gen…and Killbliss for you! His inner voice reminded him. Just the thought of how it would feel sent a rush of ronaplin into his tentacle sheaths.

Oh, yes, he admitted to himself silently, if only he could take Marcus and Denise with him when he left this place he would…but he dismissed the idea at once, for he knew that leaving with Denise would be hard enough. He could not even contemplate taking the other Gen along as well because that would, indeed, be folly.

He sighed with frustration, then a smile suddenly broke across his face as he remembered that once he was home again he would be sending the militia to raid this farm and raise it to the ground. After which they could round up all the Gens and bring them, along with Marcus, to the Farris Farm.

No doubt his family, and especially his mother, would think it strange that he had brought a female Gen back with him, especially when he informed them that he fully intended to keep her for his own personal use.

He smiled cynically because he well knew that his mother — with all her faults — was not a fool, and once she saw that using this particular Gen was keeping him healthy, and more importantly, perhaps, that it would also free up at least a dozen or so Gens a year to be sold on the open market. She would not raise too many objections; after all, she was first and foremost, a businesswoman and knew which side her tentacles were buttered, as did all his family. Yes, once he was back in his own environment he would…

Suddenly Ryan pushed his ruminations to one side as he zlinned the approach of two Gens and two renSimes. He turned to look at the door, moments later after a brief knock it swung open to reveal Marcus and Denise flanked by two renSimes both of whom he had seen before, but had not spoken to.

Without a word the two Simes took up positions against the wall, their hands loose at their sides as though waiting for action. Ryan felt a grin touch his face, what did they expect him to do? Go berserk and attack the Gens? If so then they would be very disappointed, for it was not his style; indeed, he had never had any difficulty at all in controlling himself around Gens. How many times on the Farm had he been in real Need and had stood surrounded by dozens of Gens for hours on end, many with robust fields, only to turn and walk away?

Indeed, his mother had often remarked on her eldest son's control, telling Dermott that he should consider exercising a little more restraint himself.

Marcus followed the two Simes into the room, a smile on his handsome face, with Denise right behind him.

Ryan's eyebrows rose as he stared at the female Gen then slowly and disdainfully looked her up and down, before he turned away from her.

At the moment although she was giving him transfer, she was refusing him sex; which meant Carris was serving him — but once he was home again, all that would change. The cold-hearted bitch would dance to his tune then and be glad to do so, especially when she saw what the alternative was.

On the farm he had the power of life and death over all the Gens. A haughty Gen like her would soon learn exactly what that meant!

'Come in Marcus,' he invited ignoring Denise, 'come and sit down. There's no reason for an escort you know,' he said with a brief smile at the young Gen.

'Logram felt it was necessary,' Denise began, 'after all it's only a week or so to your transfer, and this time…'

'I can assure you that I am well able to wait till the designated time, and as I won't need you till then — you may leave.'

'Sorry I can't. Logram says I have to stay close to you. I don't like it any more than you do, believe me.'

'I can still see no reason why you should remain. After all I'm not due for transfer and you don't offer me sex — not that it bothers me at the moment of course — so tell me, what use are you?' He demanded.

'I'm following orders.'

'Ah, yes, orders.'

Marcus coughed looking embarrassed as he glanced from the Channel to the Gen and back again. 'Would you rather we come back later Ryan?'

'No, of course not,' Ryan said scowling across at the young woman, 'she's easy enough to ignore.' He reached a heavy volume from the floor and placed it on the small table turning the pages with a tentacle till he came to the part that interested him. 'As I recall, you were explaining about life on your own planet Earth, last time we spoke. Please continue—' he said, encouragingly.

The young male Gen nodded his head as he leaned forward eagerly to look at the picture in the book, then began his narrative using the book to illustrate what he was saying.

Ryan listened intently as Marcus explained to him about how the Householdings on Earth had led to the ultimate birth of the Tecton. It was like listening to a child's fairy tale, the Channel thought. A story of how things could be on his planet, if only things were different.

Of course, Ryan realised that it was not really true. How could it be? A place where Simes and Gens lived and worked virtually side by side, and Simes didn't Kill their fellow citizens every month. He bit back a sigh. Oh, yes, it was a nice myth, a tale to enchant children at bedtime, but in reality? Simes were born to Kill — and Gens were their legitimate prey. If not, then why did the “Kill” offer such pleasure to the Sime?

Tuning out Marcus' voice, he surreptitiously zlinned Denise. She was certainly beautiful, for a Gen. Indeed if he was honest with himself she was probably the loveliest female he had ever met. Usually his taste in women ran to Simes, even though he could have his pick of any of the female Gens on the farm.

He also knew that the other men, including his brother Dermott and his late father, had all on occasion taken females from the herd purely for sex; but he had never felt the urge. Indeed his philosophy was simple — Gens were for Killing — not for anything else. Yet this one — Denise — oh she was truly beautiful, and the bitch knew it, too, enough to drive a man mad. Yes, he would keep her confined in one of the holding sheds for his use only, both for transfer and for sex and no one else would use her — not even Dermott would get to lay a tentacle on her!

A few hours later after the two Gens and their entourage had left, Ryan set about planning his next move. The strategy he had decided to adopt was simple, because in a week's time he had to get through this so-called test, or as Logram called it — disjunct.

He paused in his thoughts…yes, he was only seven days from “transfer” as Logram and his people referred to it and also, again according to Logram — this time he was apparently heading for a crisis.

Maybe Logram was correct, or maybe he wasn't, because if, truth be told, Ryan still felt far better than he usually did when he approached this time in his cycle. Indeed, even his turnover day had passed by without him being unduly bothered. Not like in the past, when he had often thought that the very ground under his feet was falling away, leaving him feeling sick and nauseous.

Yes, the people from Earth certainly had something going for them with their so called “transfer” he decided, at least as far as Simes like him were concerned.

At night, even though he rarely slept more than two hours, he was now getting the nightmares that Logram had warned him about, waking up screaming and drenched in sweat. Yet, even in the past, both before and after his changeover in fact, he had experienced nightmares; he made no mention of them to anyone. Although these were undoubtedly far worse than any that he could remember. Perhaps Logram was speaking the truth.

Ryan dragged his mind back to the present, because once he was through this disjunction — then he would have to gain their trust. Pretend that he was no longer joined to the Kill and was beginning to look at things from a totally different perspective...their perspective.

Luckily there was one other thing they had told him that appeared to be true. Logram said he was a Channel and a first. Which apparently meant he was also one of the most talented Simes here. Ryan already knew that that was true, for, since his changeover, he had always been able to easily mislead other Simes whenever he chose to do so; even changing his showfield to suit himself, and not many could do that.

The Gens, however, were a different matter. They could not zlin him so they could not read his nager. More importantly, because of this they relied on other things to decide on what he was really thinking. Often when Denise, Marcus or some of the other Gens were in his vicinity, he would see them looking at him in a calculating way, as though drawing their own conclusions about him. Yes, these Gens from Earth were going to prove the biggest obstacle to his plans, and he must not allow himself to underestimate them.

Standing up, he crossed the small room to spoon tea leaves into the pot and pour boiling water onto them. In the few months he had been here he had been introduced to trin tea. Apparently, Logram and his people had brought seeds with them from Earth, and he had to admit that it did settle both his stomach and his nerves, especially in the days leading up to transfer.

He had already acquired a small bag of seed that he intended to take with him when he left here to return home. He fully expected the militia, when they came here, to capture the Gens, to trample down the few crops that they were cultivating; for they would never for one moment think about saving the seed for future use.

        Sitting down once more, with his glass of trin beside him, Ryan thought back to the night last month when he had taken Logram and some of the others to task. Perhaps he should have kept his mouth shut and been more discreet.


Joining them for the evening meal, Ryan had sat down amongst twenty or so Simes and Gens. Shortly after the meal had begun, Logram had begun to talk about his favourite topic — organising the next stage of the first Householding on this planet.

        Ryan felt the sneer spreading across his face as he listened to his fellow Sime eulogising, as Ryan saw it, on how things might be in the foreseeable future.

        Realising that he could keep silent no longer he waited for a suitable break before he said, 'Excuse me for interrupting, but perhaps one of you can tell me who or what gave you the right to come here to my home world and decide that you'll change things to suit yourselves?'

        Every eye at the table focused on him as the conversation faltered, then stopped completely as everyone looked to Logram for a reply.

        Logram did not fail them as he said softly, 'Surely even you, Ryan, must see that if things do not change on your planet, then your race — both Sime and Gen — are finished.' He said passionately.

        'All right — let's say that I concede the point you're making. Although no one, of course, can say for certain that what you're advocating will ever come to pass. But for argument's sake I will agree with your assessment.' Ryan said, 'but that still doesn't answer my initial question. What has given you the right to say that your way is the only way for my planet? As it happens, I happen to like my way of life just as it is now, as do most other Simes who live here.'

        'And the Gens, do they like it, too?'' Gynon asked quietly.

        'Since Simes are the real people on this planet, the dominant race if you will, then it doesn't matter what the Gens either feel or want. Their sole purpose in life is to serve their Sime masters.'

        'You mean serve them by being Killed.' Gynon retorted at once.

        'Exactly. What other use do they have?' Ryan demanded, anger obvious in his nager, 'if they weren't meant to be Killed by Simes they wouldn't produce selyn.'

        'But that's the point, Ryan! Channels like you and I can take that selyn from Gens without Killing them and give it to the renSimes.' Logram pointed out. 'That is what nature intended.'

        'Don't call me a shenning Channel, I'm not!'

        'No, you aren't, not yet. I agree with you. But once you've disjuncted you can be.' Logram said at once.

        'You and all of your followers are nothing more than a bunch of arrogant lorsh bastards!' Ryan said coldly, his anger getting the better of his judgment.

        Gynon gave a brief laugh as he said, 'Make that “hopeful” lorsh bastards, and I might agree with you; because I, for one, am very hopeful that you will eventually join us.' He paused and then went on, 'why do I say that? Because I don't happen to think that you're a complete moron. You're just spouting the indoctrination and propaganda you've been fed since you were a child. You know, I'm fairly certain that you do have a brain somewhere in that head of yours, Ryan. I just wish that, on occasion, you'd consider using it.'


        That conversation had taken place only last month; and now he had to do a complete volte-face. It was going to be difficult, but not impossible. He had to convince all of them, Sime and Gen alike, that he was seeing the error of his ways, and instead of fighting against them, he was now leaning towards them...cooperating!

        A bitter smile touched his lips. Yes it was going to be a difficult balancing act, but one that he knew he could achieve. Why? Because when he zlinned them they all had one thing in common — hope — and it was that same hope that would play right into his hands. Simply because they not only “wanted” Ryan to change his mind, they also “believed” that he would; that was the main factor in his favour.

        As each day brought Ryan's critical transfer ever closer he found that his temper was fraying more and more with everyone, especially Denise who seemed to annoy him more than anyone else, no matter how much she tried to pacify him.

        This time he needed to Kill someone, anyone. This time he simply did not want Denise, after all she was an un-Killable Gen! Un-Killable, it was a word he had never even heard used before let alone thought about. It was a stupid word. After all, by definition Gens were made to Kill, so how could they not be Killed? Indeed, as far as he knew there was no such word as “un-Killable” in the Sime vocabulary.

        He wanted Marcus. But perhaps Marcus couldn't be Killed either? Ryan laughed out loud at the ridiculous thought. Of course, Marcus could be Killed, indeed he knew that he could…Ryan's tentacles twitched in anticipation, ronaplin running down his arms at the mere thought of taking the Gen in Kill position, but this time he would not be gentle, as Logram kept telling him he should be. He would be aggressive as Simes were meant to be, drawing every last dynopter of selyn from the young Gen's body till he achieved what he most wanted — Killbliss!

        For the last two days he had been kept locked in his room with Simes outside on guard. His only visitors had been Logram and Denise with a Sime escort. They would not let Marcus near him, even though he asked them to do so again and again, while not allowing his eagerness for anything but the Gen's company to show in his nager. But still, they ignored him. Probably because they knew that Ryan could Kill the young Gen, and more importantly perhaps, they also knew that he wanted to Kill him.

        In some of his more lucid moments he remembered that if his plan was to succeed, he must not touch Marcus. He must in fact turn to Denise. Denise, a female Gen who despised him, perhaps he could Kill her? At least he could try. Why not? It was consolation of sorts.

Then at other times, he conceded sadly, that he really must forget Marcus this time. If he passed this so-called test and disjuncted they would let him out of here. If he did not, if he allowed his instinct to take over and tried to get to Marcus, then they would keep him locked away in this room forever. The thought alone was enough to make his tentacles twine together in horror.

Then a cold shudder ran down his back as he walked stiff-legged up and down the small room…if this went wrong, then this could very well be his prison, his cell for how long? — Maybe until the day he died?

A grunt of resignation ran through Ryan as he threw himself down onto his bed and forced every muscle in his body to relax. He had discovered from his changeover, that control of a sort, was the only way he could make it through from one Kill to the next. It was a feat that no other Sime of his acquaintance including the members of his family could ever have achieved this close to the Kill — no, not the Kill — transfer.

What a cold miserable word that was. Kill was so much better — so much more…exciting. To draw every last spark of life from an unwilling Gen, to listen as the last breath left the body to feel his heart stutter and stop; now that was at it should be, as all Simes should…No! No! No! He must not think like that, not this time, not now, shen it — he had to accept Denise — he just had to!

To his horror he felt tears running down his cheeks. He didn't want her, he didn't! But in his heart he knew that he really had no choice. Was this how Gens felt when they knew that certain death was upon them? If so, then for the first, and perhaps the only time, in his short life, he pitied them.


        The morning of his transfer with Denise dawned crisp and bright. Although the undeniable beauty of the day was lost on the Channel who now stood in the middle of the small room, his tentacles dripping ronaplin as he stared motionless at the door willing it to open, yet terrified that it would do just that.

His tentacles were extended as though to grasp life from the cold morning air. How much longer must he wait? Perhaps this time they would just leave him here alone. What if no one came? Would he die of Attrition?

A bead of sweat ran down from his brow to his chin and remained there, suspended like a miniature jewel as he realised that he was, indeed, at their mercy. As the seconds ticked away he found he could no longer control his tentacles as they lashed around uncontrollably. What was the matter with him? He had never been like this before, never. Indeed, once he knew his Kill was waiting for him he was usually surprisingly calm, but now…

Suddenly time seemed to stand still; he froze in position his eyes glued to the door as he zlinned the approach of two Gen fields. Both were familiar, but only one of them did he truly want, and it was not the female.

Moments later the door swung open and Logram stood tight-lipped in the doorway beckoning him to move into the larger room outside the door.

Taking a deep breath, Ryan forced control on himself. He would not allow these people to see him like this. He was Ryan Farris — and he had more pride than that. He was unaware that they could all see that his hair was plastered to his head as the sweat ran down his face and every muscle in his body seemed to be twitching involuntarily as he inhaled and exhaled more and more quickly; his tentacles were still out and quivering in the fields that now surrounded him.

He forced himself to step past Logram, his back ramrod straight. Entering the room he saw that Denise and Marcus were standing against the walls — one on each side. While both Logram and another renSime that Ryan knew to be Anton, immediately moved to stand beside Marcus. Ryan realised that they were both ready to pull him off Marcus should he choose him, rather than Denise.

A smile that looked more like a snarl touched the Channel's face as he contemplated them trying to stop him from going for the Kill, for he knew that they would find that an impossible task.

For a handful of seconds Ryan stood and luxuriated in the twin Gen fields that seemed to pull him in both directions at once, and yet, even though Denise's field was, by far, the more robust, he was still drawn to Marcus — Marcus that he could Kill. He knew he could Kill him, he could sense it in every cell of his body.

His tentacles were already reaching towards him, and now completely hyperconscious and stiff-legged he began to edge towards the young Gen who was standing before him his eyes wide, yet broadcasting no fear in his nager.

At once Ryan began stalking him, as prey ready for the Kill, wild with Need he began to toy with him, yet all the Gen gave him in response was a deep calm. Ryan moved closer still trying to terrify him. Zlinning him deeper and deeper he sensed that beneath the calm there was a feeling of — uncertainty…no it wasn't uncertainty…it was fear!

An instant thrill ran through his body as he absorbed that knowledge — fear — it was what he wanted so desperately to feel. Suddenly, a soft voice broke the silence. 'Ryan I can do this for you, you want me. You know that Marcus can't do it — but I can. This is your last chance Ryan. I want you to come to me.'

'Be quiet bitch! I don't want you! I NEVER wanted you!'

'You know he can't do it Ryan. He doesn't have enough selyn for you…'

'And that's why I want him!' He almost hissed.

'All these months Ryan, all wasted if you do this. Come to me Ryan, come to me, you know you want to.' Her voice crooned the words.

Even as she spoke, the Channel moved closer to the young male Gen — his entire body now stiff with tension and Need. He was so close to him now that Marcus could follow every movement of his tentacles as they waved in front of his face, almost mesmerising him.

For a few brief moments Logram thought that Ryan would make the right decision, then suddenly Ryan's control broke, and in a flurry of movement he took Marcus in transfer position but without completing the final contact point.

For a brief moment the two Simes both stood like statues frozen in time, unsure whether to pull the Gen away, while Denise stared hopelessly at Ryan as they all knew that their one — and only — chance to disjunct this young Channel was rapidly disappearing before their eyes.

Then, just as suddenly, before the tableau broke into action. Ryan released his hold on Marcus — and with an act of will that he had never thought he was capable of — he threw the young Gen to one side where he bounced off one of the other walls before he turned to face Denise.

Moments later his tentacles encircled her arms viciously as his mouth touched hers; forcing her lips back against her teeth and drawing blood as he began to draw faster and deeper than he had ever drawn in his life before. No Gen was un-Killable! The words were repeated again and again in his head as he drew the sparkling selyn from her…

For a short while time itself seemed to stand still as Ryan drew and drew, sensing that her reservoir of selyn was being depleted ever faster, and yet still he drew, feeling her undeniable pleasure as he took selyn from deeper and deeper within her…

Then, just as the last sparkle of golden selyn began to leave her body for his, Ryan knew that he still wanted to continue drawing faster and deeper till he could finally wrench a scream of pain from her as he drew against her emptiness, but Ryan was now replete, and of his own volition the transfer drew almost gently to a close.

Moments later he broke lip contact, his dark eyes staring down into her blue ones. Just as quickly he dismantled his tentacles and she remained perfectly still until he had done so. Then, with a quiet sigh Denise fell towards the floor but was caught by Logram before she could hit the ground. As he laid her down onto the carpet, Anton quickly picked up a glass of fosebine that had been placed on the table in readiness, and kneeling down, held it to her lips.

Ryan watched silently as everyone moved around the room like a choreographed ballet. He was elated on two fronts; first and foremost he had just had the best shenning Kill — no not Kill — transfer — that he had ever had in his entire life.

He had fought his own instinct and had finally turned from Marcus to Denise, so he had won. Oh, it had been touch and go there for a while, the Channel had little doubt about that, and conceded the fact openly, but he had done it!

He wanted to turn cartwheels, and jump up and down like a child with a new present. Yet he could not do any of these things, because now the real pretence began. He must get away from this place, he must go home, and he must take Denise with him.

That evening, a celebration dinner had been eaten in his honour to welcome the new Channel into the fold, and Ryan had played along.

Later in Logram's quarters after Denise had been put to bed, Logram handed Marcus and Gynon a glass of hot trin laced with honey as he smiled almost triumphantly at the young Gen. 'Here, this will settle your nerves and help you to sleep. You did very well today.'

'Thanks. I was worried for a while,' Marcus confessed honestly.

The Channel laughed briefly as he nodded his head. 'So was I Marcus — so was I.'

'You know in the old days on Earth, when a Sime disjuncted they used to have a party that went on all night.' Gynon murmured, 'but to be honest all I feel now is exhaustion and intense relief.'

'I realise that Ryan is already fully versed in the theory of being a Channel,' Marcus said, 'but I also understand that it's not the same as actually doing it. So, am I correct in assuming that you intend to start training him in all the practical aspects of a Channel's duties as soon as possible Logram?'

'Tomorrow morning. I see no reason for delay. Normally I would have started teaching him the practical side of things long before he disjuncted,' Logram admitted, 'but to be perfectly honest I was worried that he would over- control me. He is, after all, strong enough to Kill me should he so wish. I was not worried about my own life so much, but as has been pointed out before, if anything happened to me — who would take over here?'

For a few minutes all three men sat in silence sipping their trin and absorbing his words until Logram stated, 'So we finally won. I have to admit that there were times when I didn't think we would.'

Gynon chuckled softly as he said, 'I wouldn't have put a bet on it either. I've come to the conclusion that you've got the luck of the devil, Logram, my friend. Some of the Farris mystique has definitely rubbed off on you.'

'I only wish that that were true,' the Channel murmured, 'but even though I finally have the outcome I've been looking for. I feel somehow — deflated — my tentacles tell me that something is wrong.'

'What do you mean “wrong”?' Marcus asked as he looked from one man to the other. 'You don't mean I went through all that, and Ryan's not disjunct do you?'

Logram shook his head firmly. 'No, I don't mean that. He's well and truly disjunct I have no doubt about that at all. But there is something else, something that I can't really put a tentacle on…'

'Stop being such a shenning pessimist Logram. Just enjoy the moment. How could anything possibly be wrong today?' Gynon scoffed. 'You did it! We did it! He's ours now!'

To be continued… (Part 2)