Mahogany Trinrose [Sime~Gen, Book 4]
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by Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Description: The ancient and dangerous secret of the Sime~Gen Mutation threatens to topple the ruling dynasty of the House of Zeor. How much torment can one teen girl take before the fate of the world doesn't matter to her anymore? How much psychic power can one young woman handle? What options can she create when she has no options left? And--can love truly conquer all? As the great SF writer Andre Norton said of this book: "Imaginative and outstanding. It captures the reader and won't let go."
eBook Publisher: Wildside Press, 1981 USA
eBookwise Release Date: April 2011
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [402 KB]
Reading time: 248-348 min.
Below them the town rioted.
Digen Farris sat behind the chopper pilot where he could see the instruments as well as get a full view through the windshield. Dark clouds formed a low ceiling over the sprawling valley town surging with angry humanity. In the town square, three bright columns of flame leaped skyward. He couldn't escape even by closing his eyes.
His Sime senses painted the lurid picture for him. Not for the first time, he cursed his innate sensitivity. The dying happening below reached up to claw at his nerves. From the rioters rose a miasma of anger, terror, and killust which sang through every cell of his body, touching off responses he had to choke back.
He inched closer to Im'ran, who observed quietly beside him. The Gen's nager, the field surrounding his body, was a welcome shield.
"Wellway Central to overhead choppers. Respond." The radio crackled with the static of the storm that had drenched the desert hills for the last three days.
Digen's pilot activated his microphone. "This is Rialite Rescue Service with four choppers over Wellway Town responding to your emergency call. We request further information."
The three rescue choppers flew a tight formation around them, visible as bright green and white forms through the mist and rain. Digen could barely make out the Central operator's words over the noise.
"...afraid you're too late. An hour ago, they broke into the jail and took the prisoners."
Digen leaned forward and snagged the copilot's microphone. "This is the Rialite Controller. May I speak to your Mayor?" He knew now what those pillars of flame meant. The eighteen gypsies, Simes and Gens mixed, had been held in protective custody when the Mayor had called the nearest Sime Territory authority--namely, Rialite and Digen--but it had taken them three and a half hours to get here.
Several minutes later, the radio spoke. "This is Mayor Treldies of Wellway Township, Gartin Territory."
"Digen Farris, here, Mr. Mayor. Is there any way to reason with that mob?"
"If there was, I'd have done it by now. We did our best to protect your Simes, Mr. Controller, but they're all gypsies."
"What did they do?" asked Digen. Normally he wouldn't consider gypsy Simes as under his jurisdiction. However, when a band of mixed Sime and Gen gypsies traveled out into Gen Territory, the resident Gens held the Sime government responsible and here, that meant Digen.
"Townsfolk figure they're causing the rain," the Mayor responded. "They're planning to burn them at the stake to stop the rain before it washes the whole town away."
"The charge, then, is--witchcraft?" It was a statute on the books in some Gen Territories.
"What else would you call it?"
"Have they been legally convicted?"
"Hell--no! That's a lynch mob out there. If you can get your people out, you're welcome to them. You can take them to Carlston, where they can get a fair trial."
But, Digen realized, he wasn't going to get any further help from the Gen authorities. "Thank you, Mr. Mayor. We'll do our best."
Digen thought fast. "Number Two!" he called on his command frequency. "Drop down over the square, moving fast. Find out if they have guns. Number One and Number Three, unlimber your ladders and stand by to deploy on target. Fil," he ended to his own pilot, "we'll circle the edges of the crowd using our downdraft to scatter them."
When the Number Two unit was not shot at, Digen ordered it to follow the others into the center of the square and drop ladders to the prisoner gypsies awaiting execution. The ones on the pyres were already dead.
The maneuver was working, a Sime dangling on the end of each chopper's ladder to cut the gypsies free, attach harnesses, and lift them out, when a multi-branched flash of lightning lit up the hillside above the town. It was only then that Digen caught sight of the wall of water rolling down upon them all.
He grabbed for his exterior microphone and jumped the gain up to maximum. His voice boomed out over the whole valley. "Your dam has broken. Repeat. Your dam has broken. You have approximately ten minutes to reach high ground. Our choppers will assist those stranded. We are calling for outside assistance."
He flipped to his command channel. "Two, keep broadcasting that warning. Three, get those Simes out of here! Number One, as soon as you've secured your gear, get some height and try to punch a signal through to Baker. I'm going to Emergency Channel Three to try to reach any in-Territory help I can. There are over twenty thousand people down there."
By the time he turned his attention once more to the mob below, it had dissolved into hundreds of individuals streaming for the elevated sides of the valley. At the farther edges, heavily loaded farm vehicles worked their way to high ground. He was glad he'd brought the large choppers with full equipment. Each could take on twenty or thirty passengers if they had to.
For the next few minutes, he was busy directing the rescue efforts. He only had time to notice the swarm of cars leaving the Wellway Central building, the Mayor and company abandoning the town. And then he saw the train, heading for Rialite.
It came speeding out of the pass toward the trestle over the river. Clearly, the wall of water which had swept through the center of the town would hit the trestle even while the train was on it.
He pulled his choppers away from the now empty town, broadcasting to all below that two more rescue teams were on the way, and sped downstream. He landed all the choppers on solid ground above the flood waters, and as the rain began sheeting down once more, he directed his crews to use the gypsy Simes who were uninjured to help locate and rescue any survivors.
He hadn't had time to watch the water sweep away the trestle. Already corpses were floating by their position. His Number Two and Three choppers rose, rescuers dangling beneath, hauling panic stricken forms out of the dark waters onto rescue platforms.
Off on the far side of the raging river, Digen sensed a peculiarly resigned Gen nager. It was impossible to see that far through the torrential rain. But by zlinning with Sime senses, he could discern that one lone Gen had been overlooked.
Turning to the knot of gypsies huddled beside him on the bank, he picked two healthy Simes and said, "You--and you--come on!" He led the way back to his own chopper, where Im'ran was down in the passenger compartment unlimbering first aid supplies.
He climbed into the pilot's seat, directing the two Simes to man the rescue platform that had been rigged under his chopper, then he lifted straight up and over the other working teams. Im'ran poked his head through the back hatch. "What--Digen!"
Over his shoulder, Digen yelled, "Stray Gen! Man the ladder!" And then they were in position. The wind was picking up, driving the rain sideways until it was a solid sheet covering his windshield. By Sime senses alone, he held the chopper steady over the victim, who was riding a swift current that would soon dash him into some rocks at the edge of the torrent.
And then the Gen was on the rescue platform, clinging to the Sime who was securing a harness around him, not shocked but bemused. Digen lifted and set down again on his well chosen spot of high ground, cutting his motors. Whew! I'm glad I can still do that!
When he got to the compartment where the nearly drowned Gen was being given first aid by Im'ran while the two gypsies hovered warily at the far end, he had to stop.
The entire compartment was lit up to his Sime senses by this new Gen's field. It had a clear, disciplined quality and a power never seen in an out-Territory Gen. No wonder I spotted him way over there!
He went over to the cot on which the Gen was lying, breathing deeply now with only an occasional cough. Im'ran was saying impatiently, "Well, aren't you even going to thank your rescuers over there...or don't you talk to gypsy Simes?" The gypsy rescuers shrank into the corner.
"Im'!" said Digen sharply. "This man is at least your equal as a Donor!" He turned to the Gen. "I'm Sectuib Digen Farris, Rialite Controller--and I presume you are the new Donor they've been promising to send me all winter. No, don't try to talk yet. You're not hurt, but you could go into shock, so I want you to stay in that bed under those blankets and keep warm."
"No argument, Sectuib," said the Gen. "I am grateful." He eyed the gypsies. "Would you please tell them so for me?"
Digen shrugged. Obviously, the two gypsies wanted no part of this Gen. He went to the two who had helped him. "You did that like professionals. We all thank you."
Eyeing the Gen, one of them said, "Can we go now?"
"You're going to have to ride back to Rialite with us...."
The second objected. "No! We can't--I mean, can't we ride with the rest of our people?" But his eyes were also on the strange Gen, who was now steadfastly ignoring them.
Digen couldn't make out what was spooking them, but he conceded and went to end off the rescue operation and get the injured to proper medical facilities at Rialite, where they were also struggling with the flood tonight. It was going to be a long night.