The Farris Mystique
Valleroy stared after Risa, dumbfounded.
Klyd muttered, "And I was beginning to think she had the makings of a decent executive!"
The woman, her Companion riding at her side, was shouting orders from her horse. The lesser channels zlinned the approaching Gens. The renSime Hugh had seen in the Keon pavilion with Risa regrouped his band of well-trained juncts.
Shouts rose, whips cracked and snaked high, and the herald's horn blew. Whatever else these people might be, they weren't foolish enough to live so close to a Gen border without adequate civilian drills.
This time, the defense configuration was reversed--Simes out front to meet the charge, Gens behind them. "Has she got channels on her point?" asked Valleroy, scandalized.
"I'm afraid so," replied Klyd.
Valleroy sensed the conflict in his friend. It was hard for a man like Klyd to avoid physical danger, allowing others to bear the brunt of attack. But only the Householding that protected its channels and Companions survived. Valleroy knew from personal experience that Klyd was no coward.
The small knot of Raiders was near the back of the lines surrounded by Sime and Gen sentries. The remainder of those attending the fair--mostly renSimes--formed up into regiments, moving out to support the local populace.
The Gen cavalry burst out of the dense underbrush, their uniforms dulled by river mud, their horses ghostly under a coating of sweat. They came and came, seeming far more than Klyd had estimated.
Still beyond the average renSime's zlinning range, the Gens opened fire. But Risa's ranks didn't waver.
Valleroy felt Klyd go into working mode, and knew people must have been hit--pain reaching need-sensitized Farris nerves despite the shield of his own replete field. He fought his horse to a stand. "Let's go help in the infirmary."
But Klyd wasn't listening. He raised one hand, dorsal tentacles pointing, reins twined through his fingers. "There's Risa! Behind the center of the line!"
"If they get her--"
"I hope not. I have to know if she's worth making an alliance with," Klyd replied grimly.
The two forces, Risa's standing, the Gens' charging at full gallop, met and interpenetrated. Simes--even channels--were dying or being tempted to kill.
"Are most of those Simes disjunct?" Valleroy asked, as much to keep Klyd's attention on him as to learn something.
"A good many. More semi-juncts, though."
The battle swirled and churned closer, Risa's side giving ground. Valleroy edged closer to Klyd, who kept drifting away to zlin the distance more clearly. Ediva was frozen in her saddle, tentacles and fingers gripping the reins. Her eyes slid out of focus, betraying the Sime's hunting mode--in which she could attack and kill by sheer reflex. She's disjunct.
"Klyd!" warned Valleroy.
The channel reached a tentacle to Ediva's wrist. As a Gen, Valleroy couldn't zlin the fields shifting to protect the renSime, but for years he'd perceived something when Klyd worked. As Ediva relaxed, he edged his horse to enclose her between the two of them, and locked into Klyd's body rhythms.
Ediva looked from one to the other of her protectors, and then back to the battle before them as if it were a mirage. Suddenly, her eyes widened.
Five Gen troopers in tight military formation were driving their horses up the rise toward the three of them. Two of the Gens had rifles aimed, two had sabers out, and the remaining one--apparently the commanding officer--drew a mean looking blade as they encircled the noncombatants.
In all the years Valleroy had been with Klyd, he'd never seen the channel carry a weapon. Nor would he allow his Companion to go armed. He considered himself a deadly weapon, pledged to save lives, not take them.
Ediva had no such philosophy. Her Householding made an art of personal combat. Their pledge included never being the aggressors, but those Gens were attacking.
Before even Klyd could react, Ediva drew her feet onto her saddle, and, augmenting, leaped at the Gen leader.
The two tumbled downhill as the other Gens spun to cover her. Valleroy never saw what she did, but when the two came to rest, she had disarmed the commander and was holding his own knife at his throat. "One move and he dies, messily."
She said it in heavily accented English, Valleroy's native language. He hadn't known she knew a word of it.
Klyd scanned the frozen Gens. "You have nothing to fear from us," he called in English, dismounting. Valleroy was sure Klyd didn't mean to move so smoothly, to float down like some preternatural menace. He was intent only on getting closer to Ediva, to grasp the fields before she was provoked by Gen fear.
Valleroy dismounted and worked closer to Klyd. He told the Gens, "Battle's over for you--and you're lucky. These folks won't kill you or sell you to be killed." I hope. Even if Risa ambrov Keon had the power to keep these Gens out of the Choice Kill Auctions--would she?
Klyd had reached the commander and Ediva. Valleroy could only admire Ediva's self control. Klyd said, "Carefully now, Ediva, let him go."
She seemed about to argue--Klyd wasn't her Sectuib--but then she sighed and loosened her grip. Valleroy saw the commander's eyes widen as tentacles slid across his throat.
She backed off a few paces, slightly downhill from the rest of the group, her back to the battle line.
Klyd's attention was on the commander, and Ediva's was on Klyd, as the Sectuib in Zeor said conversationally, "Welcome to Gulf Territory. Your stay will be more comfortable if you ask your men to stop fighting."
The man's lips trembled as if about to break into a snarl of defiance. "Only if you deliver to us every last one of those rotten, mother-killing--"
Valleroy interrupted, the man's voice triggering a cascade of memories. "Harris Emstead! Of all--how--you were in New Washington--"
The man's eyes narrowed, emphasizing the fine pattern of cracks weathered into his skin. His gray eyes matched his salt-and-pepper hair, but his figure was still as trim as a twenty-year-old's. Valleroy, too, had aged, having passed forty, but Emstead had a memory like a trap. "Valleroy? The translator? A Turnie?"
"No!" Valleroy went closer, still mindful of the fields. "I'll explain! Just stop the--"
"Mister Emstead," Klyd said anxiously, "you must surrender quickly before someone accidentally gets killed."
Valleroy eyed the channel, stunned. There hasn't been a kill yet?
The commander eased to his feet to meet Klyd's eyes, but before he could respond, Klyd shouted, "Ediva!"
Another knot of combatants was upon them. Ediva was engulfed by mounted soldiers.
Valleroy was cut off from Klyd, fighting for his life amid a forest of horses' legs and bayonettes. It had been years since his time as an Interrogator and sometime Agent for the Border Patrol, and he'd never been particularly good at unarmed combat.
With his field so high, every blow that landed on him would send magnified agonies through Klyd and any other nearby Sime. He dared only to run, not fight.
He rolled, dodged, spun under a horse, bounded to his feet and doubled over, zigzagging, knowing Klyd would never lose track of him.
As he ran, heart pumping, he recalled being held captive with Klyd, used as a weapon against him. Licensed Raiders had done that--supposedly civilized Simes whose business was Raiding into Gen Territory for the Choice Auctions.
But his own business had been interrogating Simes for the Gen Army and Border Patrol--he almost gagged at the memory of caged Simes dying of attrition as he relentlessly questioned them. He had been another person then.
Suddenly two Gen riders came at Valleroy, leaning down as they split to pass on either side. They caught him under the arms, lifted him, then deposited him before Harris Emstead. A blur, and Risa and Sergi were there, a mounted force of Simes and Gens surrounding Emstead's remaining command. Simes flicked among the mounted Gens, dragging them off their horses and disarming them with augmented strength and Sime speed.
Risa, so small she could barely get her knees around the stallion she rode, shouted in piercing female tones which could penetrate battle noise. "Surrender and no one else will be hurt! This is a mistake--you don't mean to attack a peaceful township!"
Her English was strongly accented, overlaid with the Gulf Territory cadence as well as using Simelan vowels for English ones, but her grammar was perfect. Emstead got the message, as four Simes imprisoned his horse, one woman extracting the reins from his hands, pointedly caressing his skin with tentacles.
I hope she's a channel! thought Valleroy, though the woman wore nothing to associate her with either Keon or Carre.
Emstead's lips tightened. Then he nodded, and spurred his horse through the press so he could grab the horn from Risa's herald--who was also Sime.
Emstead blew a single, tearing note that floated out over the churning company. His men stood down, suffering themselves to be disarmed.
Risa edged her horse over to Emstead, explaining in a "be reasonable" tone. "A lot of people have been hurt. We've got to get our medics out onto that field before any more die. When everything's cleaned up, then you and I are going to have a long talk over a good dinner."
Valleroy had wormed his way to Emstead's horse, capturing its nose to soothe it. "She means that, Harris," he called up to Emstead as Risa held out her open palm for the horn.
Slowly, examining her eyes, Emstead handed it over. "Now," said the Sectuib ambrov Keon, "we don't have facilities to imprison so many, so I'm asking your word that your men will stay where they're put and do what they're told. Then I want you to organize your medics. We'll find a tent for you to use as a hospital--ours can't handle all your wounded, but I'll send a few channels to help. Susi," she said to the Sime woman who had captured Emstead, "will you help the Gen medics, please?" Without waiting for an answer, she continued, "We'll take your men with transfer burns"--she used the Simelan term--"into our infirmary. Sergi!"
She had everyone swarming into a new configuration with a few shouted orders. She's a Sectuib all right, thought Valleroy as he was conscripted into her medic corps.
Joining the medics was the quickest way to find Klyd. So he went to work, ignoring the background sound as Emstead's orders were passed down chain of command.
Valleroy knelt beside a channel with a bullet wound near the heart, holding the fields, trying to staunch the selyn loss so the woman could control her own bleeding. Then she was on a stretcher, headed for the critical ward, and somebody told him her Companion was dead.
He helped a renSime, skull grazed by a bullet, one ankle broken, to hobble to the wagon come to collect the less seriously wounded. But where's Klyd?
Working toward where he'd last seen Ediva and Klyd, he stumbled over a corpse three-quarters buried in the dirt, trampled by the horses. It had been a Gen soldier.
He dug a renSime out from under a dead horse--crushed ribs, blood oozing from his mouth, concussion, two broken legs, mercifully unconscious. Valleroy was grimly happy he hadn't given transfer this morning after all. His field was so high, he might even save this one's life.
He took the Sime to the infirmary where a channel forced a transfer into him, Valleroy's field a tourniquet, keeping selyn from pluming away through the wounds. But where's Klyd?
Surely the channel would have spotted Valleroy by now! Exposure to channels simulating need, and to renSimes who'd fought themselves into real need, had his selyn production soaring and his system aching with surplus selyn.
He asked everyone he met, "Have you seen the channel wearing the blue cloak?" But the answer was always no until he asked for a phenomenally good channel, a stranger here.
Then, people answered, "That way." But always a different way from the last person's pointing finger.
The afternoon sun was already slanting from the west as he returned to the infirmary. Someone had raised the wall of the tent facing the old town of Laveen. It made an extended roof, covering the less seriously wounded who lay on blankets or sat waiting for treatment.
Seeing no sign of Klyd, Valleroy asked a man with a broken leg, "Would you know where they've put the injured Gen soldiers?" It would be just like Klyd to dive into the very worst sea of Gen pain and fear!
The man described a tent Valleroy remembered--the shiltpron parlor.
Valleroy worked his way out of the infirmary, lending aid here and there as requested, but intent on finding Klyd. He came out in the west portico area where a channel/Companion team was doing triage while a group of renSimes served blackeyed peas and hot, fresh corn cakes to anyone who could eat. A familiar voice hailed him, "Hugh!"
He turned, and found Ediva lying under a Gen's saddle-blanket, one arm stretched out from her side. Her upper lip was swollen, and one eye was darkening. Her short hair stood up in spikes around her head, and there was a black smudge across her forehead. But relief swept through Valleroy, washing away a tension he hadn't known was there.
"Has Klyd seen you?" he asked kneeling beside her. Her arm, especially the bicep, was swollen and purple, but no bone ends stuck through the skin, no blood. More relief.
"No," she answered. "I thought he was with you."
Valleroy squirmed around to spot the triage team, summoning them with a wave. The channel consulted a clip board. "Oh, yes, the collarbone and dislocation. Get to you in about an hour and a half." He looked down at Valleroy. "You off duty? Sit here then, but be careful, she's a renSime." And he hurried off.
Fully half the cases who had been waiting when Valleroy arrived had been taken inside. A couple of flatbed wagons took stretcher cases away toward the town and Householding. He really couldn't fault Risa's organization, but nothing they did was quite like home. There, at least, he'd never have had any trouble locating Klyd.
"This," he said indicating her arm, "isn't serious?"
Ediva roused herself to answer, "It hurts when I let it, but the channel said there's no nerve damage." Injury to the selyn transport nerves running up and down a Sime's arms could mean death.
"What channel?" he asked suspiciously. For something like this, at home, they'd call in a Farris. But Klyd was the only Farris in this whole Territory--and they had no sense of how to use him. They also didn't know how important Ediva ambrov Dar was to the world.
"The Sectuib--Risa. Hugh--don't leave." Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes, and she was shaking, pain and sudden relaxation leaching away the last of her bravery.
Sergi's hands massaged Risa's back as she stood up from treating another mangled Wild Gen. "He's dead," she whispered, leaning into her Companion's soothing fingers and blinking tears away as the nerve-shattering deathshock receded. Her eyes strayed over the rest of the tent full of Gens, their medics plying their crude--and often needlessly painful--trade. She and Klyd had saved some lives and some limbs the Gen butchers would have amputated.
The Gens were grateful once they realized they were being helped and not just being saved for the kill. Yet they didn't understand the price the channels paid. She'd already sent three others away, saturated with Gen pain and fear. Klyd was still working tirelessly. She couldn't fault him as a channel. He threw himself into the work, and his temper had steadied as his entran was relieved. His need, though, had become ever more obvious to her, if not to his Gen patients.
Klyd was nonjunct, unlike herself, having never killed for selyn, and so under less stress from this kind of thing. But so was Susi Darley, and she'd had to send the young woman away from here an hour ago.
But who would dare tell the Sectuib in Zeor that he was overdoing? Only his Companion, but Hugh seemed to have disappeared. Perhaps she could set him an example, then, for she realized that keeping up with the Nivet-Territory channel had become a kind of challenge, and she could not afford to let such personal feelings interfere with her common sense.
"Sergi, work with Klyd for a while. I'm going to take a break and see how Colonel Emstead is doing."
Sergi seemed about to object, but then followed her gaze to where Klyd was struggling with a Gen thrashing in convulsions. He swallowed hard, and made for the visitor, focusing his attention. Risa retreated toward the door of the tent, pausing to admire Sergi's performance. He had such precise control that she hadn't felt a jolt when he shifted his attention from her to Klyd, and though he was barely four paces away now, she could hardly perceive him.
Sergi got a grip on the thrashing man, holding him still so Klyd could work on his caved-in skull. Risa turned to leave as they began murmuring together.
Outside, a team of children were serving the out-Territory Gens a dinner of peas, beans, and onions, cornbread, citrus juice, and fresh fruit. She heard some grumbling from the men, and caught her daughter, Virena, telling one of them, "Well, if you don't like our food, you can catch a rabbit and eat it like a dog!"
"Vi!" exclaimed Risa. "These people are our guests! You must always be polite to guests, no matter how rude they are to you."
"Yes, Mama," the girl replied, only partly chastened. She was very much Risa's child, looking considerably younger than her fifteen years and showing no signs of changeover, though her birth characteristics had foretold she would be a channel. Risa wasn't worried; she had changed over at sixteen with no problems.
"Apologize to the gentleman," Risa prompted, laying her hand on the back of her daughter's head, tentacles--out of sight of the Gen soldier--twining gently into the child's hair, which was coming out of its braids.
Vi smiled disarmingly at the Gen soldier, and said, "I am sorry for calling you a dog. We have two dogs at home, and they're really very nice." Risa tightened her hand slightly not enough to hurt, and Vi ended her left-handed apology at that ambiguous point.
Harris Emstead came up, flanked by his lieutenants.
"A word of explanation," Risa said to him. "The children are serving you because the adult Gens are with the injured, and I don't want Simes so close to your men just now. We haven't given everyone transfer yet--" I'll be working through the night on that!
Someone had explained the Householding lifestyle to the man, for he said, "I suppose they haven't thought of that." He waved to the listening soldier. "Pass it down." Then to Risa he said, "We can't fault your hospitality--especially after the approach we made--but you did promise a talk. My men are anxious about what's to become of them."
"Oh, you'll all go home as soon as we can spare you an escort to the border. First we must attend the injured."
Before he could answer, Sergi came up behind her, and she turned around. His expression was cold, though his nager was controlled. Vi was staring at her father, not used to seeing him look upset. "What happened?" Risa asked in Simelan, not to be rude but expecting a technical answer.
Sergi replied in English, "Klyd said you require me more, and I was hampering him. I should have told you that would happen, but I was hoping--"
He is hurt! "Was he rude?"
"No tactful. He asked me to find Hugh for him."
To Emstead she explained, "A channel gets used to working with certain Gens. In a critical case, it can make a difference." But to Sergi, she suggested, "Send Dinny to find Hugh. You and I must have a talk with the Colonel."
Sending Vi back to her task while Sergi dispatched the young Companion, Risa decided to invite their Nivet Territory visitors to the conference so they could see how cooperation with the Wild Gens beat fortification against them.
She sent Emstead and his remaining lieutenant to her office under the care of some Keon Companions who'd just come off duty, then took Sergi's arm around her shoulders and walked close to him, telling herself, Pull yourself together. There's an opportunity here--somewhere!
"Risa," said Sergi thoughtfully as the parlor tent came into view again, "Do you suppose, before they leave, you might arrange for me to work more closely with Klyd? Maybe after he's had his transfer? I know I could do it--when he's in condition to have some patience."
Feeling his tremor of eagerness, she wondered why she'd worried about a channel hurting her Companion's feelings. Klyd was the most intriguing challenge Sergi had met in a decade, and what he learned from Klyd, Sergi would teach her. "I'll do my best. But be prepared. I think you'll find he's the semi-hysterical type who overreacts to everything."
He looked down at her. "You think so? I've heard things like that said of Farrises. They're a different mutation from the ordinary channel, you know. That sensitivity is genetic."
"So you've--hey, isn't that Dinny coming?"
"If you say so," replied Sergi.
The light was failing, and Risa realized she'd identified the boy by his nager. "News of Hugh? I hope nothing's wrong Klyd really needs that transfer tonight."
From the way Sergi clamped down on his field, Risa intuited he'd be delighted to give Klyd transfer. Shen, I could really get to hate Farrises! But she couldn't blame a Companion for being attracted, and she didn't dare allow personal feelings to interfere with her judgment of the Nivet representatives.
Dinny, intent on his mission, arrived at the tent a few seconds before Risa. She followed him through the insulating tent flap and stopped in her tracks.
The depressed skull fracture patient was dead, a blanket over his face as if to hide the nakedness of death.
Klyd bent over a stretcher still held by two of Emstead's men, carrying one of the more accomplished Companions in Carre. The ambient nager was ashen with the fading field perturbations of the Companion. As Sergi entered behind her Risa zlinned the Companion, badly nerve-burned by an attacking Sime and thus deep into transfer shock.
Klyd didn't spare a glance for Risa as he muttered at the stretcher bearers, "You shouldn't have brought him here, but put him down. I'll do what I can."
One Gen stretcher bearer grumbled, "Found him in a pile of bodies. Wouldn't turn anyone over to those--"
"Shut up, Norris," snapped the other. "I seen this guy do miracles." And he lowered the stretcher.
Risa, edging forward to get a better reading, kept her field level, masking Sergi to give Klyd a working space. She inserted herself into the nageric pattern, facing Klyd over the supine Companion. There was only one way a Companion of this caliber could have been burned like this--gang attack by Raiders. Maybe they panicked at being put in a Pen? That could have been bad psychology. But where else in town was strong enough?
Then she concentrated on zlinning the problem before them, welcoming Klyd's field control.
Blood pressure too low, capillary seepage around brain and spinal column, pulmonary edema. As she watched, the man's heart went into weak fibrillations, then stopped.
She let up her grip on the fields, fending off the deathshock. "He's gone. How'd this happen?"
A Gen started to answer, but Klyd snapped, "Stand back!" He stripped the patient's shirt off, wrestled the inert body onto its side, and took a grip, spreading his two left hand laterals over the sternum, and his right hand laterals across the upper back, enclosing the heart area.
Risa gasped as the ambient nager split with a clap of inaudible thunder. Everything went black, and when her senses cleared, she was slumped against Sergi.
Before her, the Carre Companion was on his back. Klyd leaned over him, fisted both hands on his sternum, and bore down hard, as if trying to break his breastbone. She was about to protest, when the Companion's heart gave a flop and a whump and picked up a weak but normal rhythm.
She stared, zlinning, as the purple receded from the Companion's coloring and his nail beds took on a healthy glow. I don't believe--. She twisted to glance at Sergi, who was staring at the Companion, equally dumbfounded.
She looked back at the Companion, not healthy but living. Out of her gradual realization that maybe they didn't know anything about what channels could accomplish, came a flash of blinding insight on how to turn this whole debacle to a real profit--to get Emstead to grant them a travel corridor to Nivet Territory so they could send First Year channels there to be trained.
But just then she saw Klyd's lips paling as they had earlier that morning. His eyes glazed over. His face went slack. His nageric control loosened. She pushed Sergi toward Klyd. "Sergi, quickly. He's about to faint."
Her husband caught Klyd's shoulders as he tilted over, and she felt Sergi inducing him to breathe by breathing deeply himself. But he made no attempt to lock onto the channel's fields as a Companion should.
"Sergi--what are you doing? Help the man!" She started to reach for Klyd's arms, laterals extended.
"No, Risa!" Sergi commanded. "You don't know how to handle a Farris, and neither do I! Where is this man's Companion?!"
Astonished at Sergi's vehemence but trusting him, Risa merely zlinned Klyd cautiously, observing without attempting control of his fields. But as she was probing for his problem Klyd was forcing his eyes open, struggling to sit up.
He focused on Sergi. "Thank you," he whispered on a shaky breath. But he retreated from both Risa and Sergi hugging his knees.
"I'm sorry Sergi couldn't help you--" Risa began.
"He did the right thing," Klyd replied, his voice still weak. "He's not trained to cope with Farrises."
Risa squelched her automatic defense of her Companion in favor of diplomacy. "Your patient's doing fine." That was what she'd want to hear, in Klyd's place.
He turned to the Carre Companion, zlinning though his own systems were in painful chaos. "He'll have to be treated very carefully now, or he may never work again. Did anybody ever find Hugh? He's not very far away . . . over there, somewhere." He waved a tentacle, but lowered his forehead to his knees and held his breath. She could feel his plea for Companion's support and Sergi's struggle to resist it.
Risa moved back, motioning Sergi away, and turned to Dinny, who had plastered himself next to the entry as if trying to draw his nager up and become invisible.
The Companion answered from there, "Hugh ambrov Rior is in the main infirmary tent, working, and asking everyone where Klyd Farris is. I told him to stay there and I'd bring him."
"Good," answered Risa, and asked Klyd, "Can you walk?" He'll have to take that transfer now. There's no other way to restore his systems.
Klyd raised his head, bewildered. "No--bring Hugh here. I must treat the patient."
"You can't do him any good in this condition," argued Risa. She admired stubborn adherence to duty, but this was too much. She spoke to the two Gens still hovering beside the stretcher, "Would you two carry the Companion to the infirmary? We've got better facilities for him there."
As the dazed Gens picked up the stretcher, casting wide-eyed glances at Klyd, he struggled to his feet and stood swaying, fending off Sergi's arm. Gradually, the nageric turbulence in Klyd's vicinity died away, and there was a semblance of that cleared bubble he carried around with him when working. "I--think I can walk."
Then, as if putting his hands and laterals into an open flame, he placed one hand on Sergi's shoulder and the other on Risa's. "I could use some help, though."
Klyd became steadier on his feet. Though he was touching them both, his nager barely interpenetrated theirs.
Outside the infirmary, despite the heavy insulation, even Risa flinched at the torrential nageric pain and unfillable need. Klyd, however, walked into the white hot nager as if it wasn't there. And he complained of my guards emoting too strongly? But she vividly remembered how his face had gone white. Maybe his ethics were more offended than his sensitivities? She'd never met anyone who'd faint over offended ethics before.
But she could not deny what she'd just zlinned him doing, nor the awe as he let go of their shoulders and strode through the maelstrom as if it were of no moment. But her original judgment of him stood. His strength was so brittle, so unpredictable, it might as well be a weakness.
Only a few lesser injuries still waited for treatment. Risa automatically searched the ambient for acute problems, and slammed into a mighty, throbbing, seductive Gen nager.
Gasping, she caught at Sergi. They moved to see Hugh kneeling beside that renSime--Ediva ambrov something--his eyes almost closed, the most serene expression on his face she'd ever seen outside of bed, and his fingertips wandering over the renSime's arm.
The woman was breathing slowly, selyn fields twined deeply into Hugh's--not quite a transfer grip, but the most articulated and facile field work she'd ever zlinned a Gen doing without a channel to shape and focus the effort.
It hardly seemed necessary. The renSime was not badly injured. A slightly cracked collar bone, minor contusions and abrasions. Though it looked as if the arm had been painfully swollen--something tickled her memory. She'd examined this one earlier, not recognizing her as the other Nivet ambassador. She'd lost her Householding cloak, and her face had been swollen and badly bruised, her nager reduced from augmentation and some sort of trained pain blocking. A vision of the arm as it had been swam into her healer's mind. Shen and shid! A Companion alone couldn't have--
As Klyd carefully moved around Ediva to face Valleroy, Risa stole a glance at Sergi and reminded herself never--ever--to dictate limits to his abilities.
Seeing Klyd, Hugh sent a smile of unutterable welcome and bone-deep relief washing through the ambient, weakening Risa's weary knees.
Klyd, however, did not respond. His fields were still hardened. Risa could not read a flicker of emotional reaction through that shell-like casing, and so was utterly unprepared when Klyd said, voice shaking with outrage, "Hugh ambrov Rior, how dare you!"
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