Jacqueline Lichtenberg
a Sime~Gen Novel 
From Meisha Merlin Publishing Inc. 
Sime~Gen: Digen Farris ambrov Zeor


 Chapter 3


Laneff regarded the unconscious Gen pilot. He was wearing dark gray coveralls over tough charcoal work clothes. There was a massive ring on his right hand and a wristband on his left bearing a watch. Perhaps twenty-five years old, he showed well developed muscles. His nager, dimmed with unconsciousness and disorganized around the head injury, was still strong for a nondonor of selyn.

"I don't suppose it would do him any harm," she shouted over the noise, "if I tie him up."

The Donor turned, grinning. "Ambrov Sat'htine!"

"Yes," replied Laneff choking back a bitter tear, "even junct, ambrov Sat'htine." Her House was dedicated to health and healing. But it can't heal me now. She got the belt and secured the Gen pilot, using his shoelaces on his ankles.

"How close are they now?" shouted the Donor.

She zlinned arear. "Gaining, uh—what's your name?"


"Well, Yuan," she said, perching in the copilot's seat, "why don't you just land here and let them catch up. It's only Tecton security back there now." Last Year House. She had toured a Last Year House once, seen the ghastly death that awaited any Sime who became junct after their first year as an adult. That vision was with her now. Why didn't it stop me then?

Below them, rolling hills and steep water canyons peeled away one after another. "Laneff—is that what you really want?"

"Is there any choice?"

His silence drew her attention. Their eyes met. "Yes, I'm offering you a choice." He yanked down a set of earphones with attached microphone and twisted them onto his head, then reached over to pluck down the copilot's set. "Put this on so we can talk over the noise."

She complied. "Not that there's anything to say. You've got to get me to a Last Year House before I kill again."

He eyed her sideways. "In a Tecton Last Year House, you'd live maybe ten months or a year. You'd be too sick to work after maybe six months. What of your research?"

Stricken, she met his gaze silently. All for nothing.

"Come with me and live—maybe eighteen months, two years—maybe more. And have a laboratory where you can complete your work, refine your synthesis so others can duplicate it, set up protocols for your fifteen year project, and maybe even publish. In two years, you could do all that!"

"And who would I have to kill to do it?" Her rejection of temptation was visceral, but the temptation beckoned like that Gen's sweet terror. Her body had first known selyn satisfaction coupled to that peculiar kind of Gen fear, and, disjunction aside, that touch of fear would always be the measure of quality in her satisfaction. Why did I have to be renSime!

A heavy rumble shook the chopper. Yuan clutched the controls, glancing futilely behind. "They're shooting at us! They think we're Diet!" He grabbed for the radio microphone, and fighting the controls, reached to dial across the frequencies.

Laneff couldn't help thinking how ludicrous he seemed as he tried to do everything with fingers. Lacking tentacles, Gens had no easy life of it. As she reached to adjust the radio for him, she thought, They were sure I'd establish as a Gen, not change over at all. And if I'd been Gen, I wouldn't now be condemned to death. Savagely, she heard herself add, If it would add a year to my life now, I'd cut off every one of my tentacles!

She found their signal. "…unmarked Straight-Riser, you are assisting a junct to flee the scene of a kill. You will be shot down if you do not land immediately. Tecton law requires that any fleeing junct be summarily executed. You have been warned. Repeat…"

Yuan cut in over their signal. "This is Yuan Sirat Tiernan, TN-1. I can't land this thing! The pilot is unconscious. Help!"

"You can't?" asked Laneff, surprised at her own panic.

"Of course I can. Playing for time." And he tried again, then twice more. But the Tecton voice kept on repeating. Frustrated, he searched the maze of dials around him until he grunted, "Shidoni-be-flayed Diet! We can't get out on the Tecton frequencies! Just like them not to trust their own pilots!" Disgust and contempt vied for nageric prominence with hatred of the Diet.

Another boom jolted them, and Yuan tilted them into a tight turn, righted, and then swept around a looming butte, skimming low to the rolling hills below.

"There they come!" said Laneff. "It's no use."

He ran one finger over the gauges, tapped one triumphantly. "Those choppers won't give up until they run out of selyn in their fuel cells, but we've got to lose them before they call in reinforcements." He shot a frown back over his shoulder in the direction of their own fuel cells. "Another glorious irony!" The frown vanished into a grin of boyish delight. "The shen-be-dunked Diet depended on a selyn powered chopper for their escape!"

"Terrorists don't have to be sane. Their van was selyn powered, too. After all, it's cheapest." Zlinning her death creeping up on her from behind, Laneff wondered how she could be so calm. Then she realized it was Yuan who was calm—tense like the eye of a storm, but nagerically still. "You act as if you do this every day. You're not—not a terrorist, are you?" Or worse?

"No," he answered as another rumble tossed them about.

He's a great pilot for a Gen, she thought. Where would a Tecton Donor get such a skill?

"Shen!" swore the Gen. "I've lost track of the compass bearing. Laneff, you've got to guide us. Listen," he said, his nager vibrating pure sincerity. "The Tecton and its Last Year Houses, murdering juncts on sight, isn't all there is in the world. I know a place where you can live—and not kill. Eighteen months—maybe two years, or more, with your wits about you. Help get us there, and I promise you won t regret it."

The deck rocked under them again, and a tiny hole appeared in the bulkhead near Laneff's knee, air whistling shrilly. No matter who he is, it's a better chance than trying to surrender now!

For the next two hours, she talked at the Gen, spotting the pursuers and keeping them oriented as they dodged up and down canyons. Then she sensed a concentration of nageric fields that whispered into nonexistence as they approached. "As if a number of Gens had dived into a deep cave."

"Diet hideout for sure! Knew it was here somewhere! There! That one?" When she nodded, his nager flared fiercely, and he gritted through compressed lips, "Hang on!"

He swooped high, turning so the pursuers got a fix on them, and then he dived straight toward that cave mouth until the Tecton craft had surely lost them from their instruments and their Sime spotters would be unable to zlin them through the intervening hills. At the very last second, he gunned the motors and pulled the chopper around into a low curve that set them skimming along the course of a stream, their downwash lashing the rain swelled water to foam.

The river gorge twisted and turned, putting solid hills between them and the cave mouth—and the Tecton choppers. Yuan kept low, nearly on the water so the rising edges of the canyon hid them. "I don't believe this; we're really going to make it!"

The boyish delight glowed once again in his nager, as if life and death were all a game to him. Laneff began to like this crazy Gen who was always so surprised at his "good luck"—the result of incredible skill and daring. Zlinning behind, she said, "No trace of the Tecton choppers."

"Unless Mairis himself was with them, we've lost them!"

"He wasn't." That nager, she'd always recognize. As the canyon turned, they both spotted a column of rich black smoke billowing into the breeze far behind them—too far for Laneff to zlin anything more than a dim haze of selyn field against the empty landscape.

"They've attacked the shenoni-be-dunked Diet hideout! Laneff—the Tecton owes you for that one. That base has been a launching pad for Diet escapades in Garby, Peroa, and Zyfnild. At least fifty people have been murdered just that I know of, from that rathole."

"What are you? Some kind of antiterrorist task force?"

He laughed. It was a merry laugh, lacing his nager with sheer delight. "I guess some people might say so. But if so, you're looking at one thoroughly lost task force!"

They had come out onto a valley floor, where spring flowers turned a meadow into a riot of color reminiscent of the Household Square decked out for Digen's funeral. The stream widened into a shallow lake, a few shade trees overhanging it. Yuan worked at the controls until he produced a map on the screen in front of Laneff. "Can you place us on that?"

Map reading had never been one of Laneff's strong points, but a graph was a graph. Matching her innate Sime sense of position with the Gen-drawn map, she said, "North of that section."

He showed her how to scroll the display. They were still flying low, but with reduced speed. Without looking at the gauge, Laneff knew the fuel cells were depleted. Her vast relief at their escape faded. It would be terrible to be left on foot in this wilderness.

"Here!" She set the autocursor onto their position and watched it track them.

Working with the compass, he veered onto a new heading. "We've got fuel enough to get pretty close!"



His certainty made her bones believe it, and tension melted out of her. She buried her face in her hands, scrubbing her tentacles over her forehead and scalp, feeling the tremor in every muscle. And she just noticed she had to urinate.

"What kind of safety?" she asked miserably.

"From Gens who tempt Simes to kill; from Simes who'll murder you for yielding to that temptation." He reached over to grip her wrist, just around the tentacle orifices. He, too, was trembling from the prolonged strain, but his nager was steady. "First thing, I'll give you the selyn you still need. Then, we'll talk—make plans. By the day after tomorrow, you'll be far from here—and you'll have a lab you can stock and design yourself. I promise."

Promises! But despite the painful cynicism, Laneff felt reassured. An hour passed in which they watched the dwindling fuel supply and the unconscious pilot. Laneff endured the backwash of shock and the lingering ache of unsatisfied need. She had been days away from her scheduled transfer. She kept telling herself she wasn't really in need, but it didn't help. It wouldn't take much to make her go for another kill. But Yuan steadied her with his nager.

And then the rotors chugged into a descending rhythm, each individual beat audible. "We're going down!" said Yuan. "Not too bad, though."

Before them was a highland meadow, thickly wooded except for a flat rock outcropping near a cliff face that blocked the eastern approach. They came in from the west and with the very last beats of the rotors bounced to a landing on the flat rock.

Gasping, they laughed together to have survived once more. Then Laneff noticed a wooden cabin built against the cliff. It was old, weathered to a bare gray, the roof beam swaybacked, but the windows were glazed, and new wood shone here and there. A curl of smoke rose from the chimney.

As they scrabbled out of the cockpit to open the cargo bay door, an elderly Sime emerged from the cabin, whipcord slender and tough, weathered to a leathery brown startling against white hair.

Yuan jumped down first and went to the Sime, yelling his greeting, "Callen! Callen! You've got company!"

"What's all this?" called the old man back.

"Excitement—adventure—and challenge. We're going to change the course of history!" As Yuan announced that, the two men met. Yuan scooped the smaller Sime into a quick embrace and walked him toward Laneff, who was sitting on the deck of the chopper, her legs dangling high above the ground. "Let me introduce Laneff Farris ambrov Sat'htine, the most important person in the world today."

"Ambrov Sat'htine?" The old man scrutinized her duoconsciously. "Ain't no one sick here! But if Yuan says you're welcome—then you're welcome!" He turned to Yuan. "Back room is ready—like always. You go on in. I'll fetch some more wood and find something for you to eat." He gave her one more appraising glance.

He'd certainly perceived her junct condition. It was a nageric stigma that felt to Laneff like a deformity. But maybe he didn't recognize it. How many people these days had ever zlinned a junct up close? And there was something odd about his nager, too.

Yuan said, "A meal would be nice, but let's get this chopper covered. And we've got to haul out the transmitter and arrange to get us out of here before the Tecton net closes on us. Maybe—Callen, maybe you should go with us?"

"Nope. This's my place. Picked out my dyin' spot already. Get you on inside before you freeze!"

A brisk wind was blowing dark clouds over the sun, and here the air was somehow thinner—colder than in the city. Flower tipped ground cover whipped in the wind, and a pond at the far side of the meadow rippled with waves on which ducks and geese bobbed contentedly.

Yuan helped Laneff down, saying, "We've got a Diet prisoner inside. Unconscious. Probable concussion. Make him comfortable in the side room, and let me know when he comes to."

"Leave it to me," said the Sime, waving them away.

Again Laneff wondered what kind of people she'd fallen in with: people who casually harbored Tecton fugitives, took Diet prisoners, and maintained secret hideouts. But the wind gusted sharply and big pats of rain hammered into them. "Come on!" said Yuan, scooping her along in the crook of his arm.

They dashed under the roof of the wooden porch, and clattered inside. Here it was warm, with a cheery fire going in an open hearth in the center of the room. Nearby, some books were spread on a rough table, a pair of wire frame glasses tossed on top of them. An oil lamp gave reading light. The walls were lined with shelves of books, making them almost a selyn insulated density. She could barely zlin the outside.

One end of the room held a deep-red couch and a couple of high backed chairs that could swallow a person whole. The other end was a kitchen, with a sink rigged with a hand pump for water, and a foam-and-plastic cooler chest. Herbs hung from the rafters in dry bundles, and racks held a myriad sacks and bottles. Near the hearth, a crockery teapot steamed trin aroma into the air.

Under Yuan's touch, a section of bookcase swung out revealing a heavy door behind which opened a tunnel leading back into the living rock of the hillside; something one only read about in storybooks, a place Gens could hide from Simes come raiding. The cabin could be that old.

"Come on," coaxed Yuan. He lit an oil lamp and closed both doors behind them. Then he stopped at a door on their left, went into a dark room sparsely appointed with rough-hewn furniture, and turned on a heater. "Callen will bring blankets to keep the prisoner warm. Come!"

At the end of the tunnel, a room opened—a natural cave that had been nicely wood paneled and floored. There were two large beds, a studio couch, and two chairs around a small table. A selyn powered heater started at Yuan's touch, and then he had regular selyn powered lights going. In one corner, an opulent antique transfer lounge was surrounded by a heavy drape of modern insulating fabric. The carved wood scrollwork made it worth a fortune, but Laneff liked the sensuous emerald velvet upholstery.

"Like it?" asked Yuan, warming his hands at the heater.

"You can't zlin this from outside!"

"Even Mairis couldn't zlin us if he were right outside!"

"But does it have facilities?"

"Of course, but not too glamorous." He gestured to a door framed by knotty pine cabinetry, enough storage for five people.

She opened the door and found a short tunnel, chill with underground humidity. At the end, a door opened into a dank chamber lit by a bare lamp. The toilet was a raised platform with a hole in it, set over the wash of an underground stream. A pitcher and basin on a washstand and a bathtub ripped from some old hotel, rigged with a selyn powered heater—fully charged.

When she returned to the room, flinging her grimy and tattered cloak over a chair, Yuan said, "Someday we'll get around to decorating in there, too!"

"You like this place, don't you?"

He was seated on the transfer lounge, one hand smoothing the soft velvet. He beckoned her. "It's safe—and comfortable." When she didn't move, he added, "And necessary."

The half-finished feeling she had fought down after the kill was returning. "Yuan—I have to know more about you."

The relentless pull of his nager let up. "I did promise you transfer—as soon as we were safe. How could you trust my other promises if I renege on this one?"

Somehow, the very easing of that pull sent a renewed shiver of need through her. She couldn't suppress a sound that verged on a whimper. "You mean—you meant everything?"

"Zlin me. I don't promise rashly. We're safe now—"

"No. They'll divert the agrosatellite to photosearch for the chopper. They'll find us—"

"That'll take time. We won't be here by then."

"Where could we go? How?"

"First let's complete what you started this morning. Then we'll get something hot to eat and plan the future." She still held back, and he added, "How can you make rational plans while your whole body is screaming in agony?"

"It isn't that bad."

"Fretting in misery?"


In a different tone, he suggested, "Yearning in hope."

If it hadn't been for the need he was coaxing to the surface in her, she'd have laughed at his search for the right inflection on the Simelan noun "need." The tension had drained out of her. What harm could it do me now?

She joined him on the lounge. In a perfectly rehearsed maneuver, he had her reclining, her knees bent over the contoured rest and her shoulders raised comfortably against the back of the lounge. He sat at her side, on the curved projection, as if he were a channel about to give her transfer. But he was Gen. It was her most secret—and forbidden—dream come true. The future and the past fell away, and she gave herself to the moment.

His field narrowed to focus wholly on her. It wasn't anything like Shanlun's attention, yet it wakened echoes of the power she'd often felt in him. With firm control, he drew her hyperconscious. The Gen body hovering over her pulsed with an ever brighter selyn field as each cell in him produced selyn. It was a brightness that lit the room to her Sime senses. The furniture wisped into transparency, the clothes in the closets became perceptible and dissolved into nothing. They were encased in a private bubble of reality. She could not zlin outside, and so there was no world outside.

Her tentacles slid naturally into place on his bare arms, feeling each cord of muscle under the curly hair on his skin, outlined by the richly coursing selyn pulsing through his tissues. In a flash of peak need, she yanked the big Gen down until his weight was almost crushing her slight frame, and their lips met.

Brilliant selyn burst into the dark pockets of her brain. The first abundant gush choked off to a mere trickle. Suffocating, she struggled to draw selyn against that immense resistance. She could sense the limitless supply in him, but not the mechanism whereby he denied her. Furious at betrayal, she redoubled her effort and was rewarded with a tiny increase in flow rate.

But the Gen felt no pain, no fear. No killbliss promise was carried on that current of selyn. Yet the struggle itself was exhilarating. The knotting, cramping tensions of need melted. The sense of cold darkness within evaporated. Strength came back. He made it last long enough despite the shallowness of her need.

She came up out of it gasping, exultant, having won selyn from a Gen despite his resistance. She grinned up into his face, feeling now his body heat against her. "You never learned that from the Tecton!"

"Actually, Therapists sometimes have to do such things for channels in trouble."

Shanlun. She remembered Shanlun working over Digen, coaxing and tempting him. And Digen lax against the fluffed white pillows, dead. All the grief she'd been unable to experience during the last few days welled up, choking her. In two breaths, she was sobbing against the sharp knives of loss and failure, of ending. Clutching Yuan's huge shoulders, she sat up to bury her face in his chest.

He gave a relieved sigh. "So I got you post, anyway."

Between sobs, she gasped, "I've never had it like this."

Reaching into a drawer under the lounge, he produced a box of tissues. "Don't resist. Cry it out."

She could imagine him saying that to the channels he'd given transfer to, encouraging their posttransfer reactions. During need, a Sime was unable to experience the powerful personal emotions because of the interfering jangle of need gearing the whole organism to fight for life. Once need was assuaged, however, the human mind regurgitated all the suppressed emotions in a flood.

Laneff cried for Digen now, as she had not been able to before. And she wept for the life she had known when Digen was rallying strongly and all was well. But as she grieved over the death of that old self, buried that self in a tomb of false expectations, she found a new self emerging, fed on hope.

She wadded up the pile of soggy tissues. "I'm all right now."

"You've always been all right."

She blinked burning eyes. "What a peculiar thing to say."

"Laneff, nothing you've done has been pathological. Any one of the renSimes in that box would have gone for that Gen if they weren't wearing attenuators."

"And why wasn't I wearing mine?" She asked his unspoken question, but her voice crackled with a belligerence that shamed her.

"They told me only that you were suffering from prematurely raised intil, that you had a full five days until your transfer schedule. I assumed you'd taken them off because you felt better."

"No. I took them off to feel better." And she explained how the perfectly miraculous devices only made her feel sick. "I was afraid I'd actually vomit at the microphone."

"I know something about the Farris channels, but that's a new one on me. I didn't have time to study up on you. All I know about you is what I've read in the papers."

"It wasn't your fault."

He shook his head. "If I'd thought it through, I'd have stayed by you as I was charged to."

"Logically, it made better sense for you to get in close to the Gen and work with the channels to shield everyone, not just me."

"But I was set to guard you, not 'everyone.' Mairis will undoubtedly bring charges against me if I ever show my nose in the Tecton again. Laneff, they were after you!"


I could have stopped them if I'd—and because I didn't they've wrecked Mairis's plans. Oh, I really blew it this time!"

He rested his forehead in his palm, a gesture so reminiscent of Mairis feeling the weight of his responsibilities that she had to ask again, "Yuan, just who are you?"

He froze. Then he jerked to his feet, paused a moment with his back to her, and turned, shoulders thrown back, head high. "Yuan Sirat Tiernan, First Order Donor in the Tecton's scale, and erstwhile Sosectu in Rior in the Distect."

"Rior!" she breathed. For months, the peripheral presses had been carrying rumors of a revived Distect movement headed by a self-styled Sosectu trying to reconstitute the House of Rior of legend, the Tecton's traditional adversary.

But within hours of Digen's death, Mairis had received a crisp document purporting to be from this elusive modern Distect, pledging to support him in any move he might make toward Unity. The legitimate press had plastered that news all over the world until rumors of Mairis' next move had begun to fling Laneff into the spotlight.

Laneff's hand went to her mouth, scrubbing as if to erase the whisper of Yuan's touch. The Distect philosophy held that in any transfer situation, the Gen, not the Sime, was fully responsible for the results: the complete opposite of the Tecton attitude she had been raised to. It was said that one taste of Distect style transfer was sure to lead any Sime into going junct.

What difference does it make? For me it's too late. But it did make a difference. She went to pick up her cloak from the chair where she'd tossed it. It was all she had left of Sat'htine, and all she believed in. "I can see why you didn't tell me that before—transfer."

"In the chopper, running from Tecton guns, would you have helped me if I'd told you my identity?"

She zlinned him. His nager was calm, steady, barely diminished by her selyn draw. She remembered the ferocious snarl on his lips as he lowered his head and charged straight at the terrorists holding her. "When you attacked those men who held me hostage, what did you plan? Why did you do it? Didn't you realize you'd probably be shot along with me?"

"Laneff, I'm not the heroic type. I wasn't calculating odds, or even planning. I just saw the shendi-flamin' Diet destroying humanity's last chance at Unity in my lifetime. No matter what, I couldn't let them get out of there with you prisoner. I've been fighting them for a couple of years. They've held some of my Simes prisoner—and what they returned to me was hardly worth burying!"

Laneff dropped the cloak and rubbed the welts on her tentacle sheaths where the Diet's belt had lashed her arms together. If she'd struggled any harder against that confinement, she'd have injured her lateral tentacles and have been unable to take the finishing transfer from Yuan, which had left her more clearheaded than she'd been in days.

A pattern stood out starkly in her mind. She'd ended up in Yuan's care because she didn't want to risk exposure to Shanlun's overripe nager. She'd shed the attenuators because she didn't want to risk vomiting in public. And she'd killed—and then refused to risk injuring her laterals. Augmenting, I could have gotten away—and I'd probably have died before my laterals healed enough so they could get selyn into me.

Chuckling at the grotesque irony, she explained the sequence of her decisions to Yuan. "At each point I've done the right thing, and matters have gotten worse!"

He savored the irony, too, and said, "I've always thought that God has an intricate sense of humor. If we can just go along with the joke, we can often come out with the last laugh. You game to try it?"

"What do you mean?" His oddball point of view made a queer sense to her now.

"I promised you a lab and time enough to do some significant work. I don't pretend to understand neurochemistry or the big project you have to launch, but with us, you can expect eighteen months—"

"No!" she interrupted. "I told you I won't kill—"

He cut her off. "You didn't kill me, and you feel better. Laneff, in the Tecton, the most they've ever sustained a junct's life without permitting a kill is thirteen months. In the Neo-Distect, we have people who have lived three years after rejuncting, have lived without killing, and feel no real need to kill."

"They're the exception, not the rule, aren't they?"

"True. It seems to have a lot to do with finding the right transfer partner." He smiled ruefully. "I'm not the right one for you."

She couldn't deny that. All her daydreams had always centered on the most powerful Donors, trained to serve the Farris channels. Now that she'd experienced such a Donor, she could see it wasn't ideal at all. Her minuscule selyn draw could never evoke any sensation in such a Donor.

"I do have someone in mind for you, Laneff. And there are others who can be asked. We don't assign donors. We let people choose each other."

"What if no one chooses me?"

"Someone will. You are—attractive."

And you're a very attractive man. She leashed back the surge of pure sexual awareness that hit her then, knowing its power was a measure of how good a transfer she'd had from Yuan.

"Yuan, would I have access to the latest journals in your laboratory?"

"Your laboratory," he corrected, nodding. "Certainly."

"And if by some longshot chance I produce a breakthrough, and I put into your hands the ability to distinguish Sime from Gen early in life, what would you do with that knowledge?"

She zlinned him keenly now, using all her sensitivity to discern if he was lying.

"We'd give the knowledge to the world."


"If not instantly. Certainly within the month."

She could find no note of falseness in him.

"Are you really Sosectu? Do you have the authority to make such a decision? Will the others follow you?"

"They'd follow me into death. Some have."

The grave vibration of that shook Laneff's bones. "Why are you trying to convince me to side with you? I'm as much your prisoner here as I'd be prisoner of the Diet."


His indignation was like a nageric slap. He paced. "Laneff, the shidoni-be-flayed Diet lorshes would have forced you to do—whatever they could think of to benefit them. If they could get your research, they'd use it to abort every Sime fetus. If they couldn't get you to cooperate, they'd force you to kill for them and litter the world with corpses marked with your peculiar signature. Their propaganda people could build that into an embarrassment for Mairis that could cost us the whole Unity movement."

True, any competent channel could identify the burn pattern she left on a kill: the searing of nerves before the selyn reserves were barely depleted. "And you won't do the same?"

"No, Laneff. You have your freedom. Say the word, and my organization will deliver you up safe and sound inside the walls of any Last Year House you name."

He'd made her many promises. He'd delivered on two impossible ones: safety and transfer. He really didn't promise what he couldn't deliver. And she was afraid to challenge him on this one. And that told her just how much she rejected the option of giving herself up to the Tecton. So where else did she have to go?

"All right, I'll go with you." But she made up her mind right there to keep a very close score on his promises. At the least suspicion, she'd do her utmost to see to it that Yuan and his people never got their hands on any of her results until Mairis had them safely in his.

He greeted her concession with one of those fresh grins that radiated vitality. "Good, that's settled. Now, I'm starved, and we do have a prisoner to see to. Then it'll be time to get on the radio and make some travel arrangements. This time tomorrow, you'll be halfway around the world."

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