The Deadly Sun
A few days pass and the distribution of the inhibitors is complete.
Chiwan, the healing master, joins them in their work.
Just as he guided the sisters when they left their cave, so he guides the sleepers.
He joins me when I reassemble the masters, to answer their questions about life on Siksa and their mission here.
When their questions are done, they wait for me to dismiss them.
“There were fights between you and the Kizak guards.”
“They’re arrogant,” says Uzel, “and claim that Siksa is already an empire world.”
“Fortunately, none of you used … Read more
The Jiku guards are gone, and the royal compound is nearly deserted.
One Kizak guard brings him back to the ship, and returns his commdisk.
“This isn’t mine,” says Ilaz.
“It is,” says the guard.
“I put it in the storage area myself, and no one else has been there.”
It looks right, but feels wrong.
They’ve switched it, or tampered with it.
His disk is keyed to his unique genetics.
When he holds it, a pleasant trickle of energy circles his wrist.
This disk feels ordinary.
“Prince Ilaz!” says Siya, the director of the research center.
She’s about seventy years old, middle age for the Jiku.
“Director Siya, you’re still alive!”
“You know I’m not that old.”
“I missed you.”
“I haven’t seen you in over ten years.”
“You stopped coming, and then I heard you were in a waking coma.”
“Sorry I never visited or messaged you.”
“Do you have a hug for an old friend?”
He hugs the older woman.
“I never expected you to hang around here like you used to.”
“You were a boy of fifteen … Read more
“I don’t like it,” says her elder advisor.
“There’s no way we can protect you tomorrow when you visit the emperor on his ship.”
“At the moment, they mean us no harm, elder,” says Keela.
“Besides, Berek will be there with me.”
“They are heavily armed, and we don’t know how many guards are on each ship.”
“Berek’s fighting skills are unmatched, but without the web, how can he defend you against hundreds of enemies?!”
“One energy blast is all it takes to kill you!”
The next day, Brewky arranges for me to leave my job, and come to work for the syndicate.
My old boss isn’t happy, but Brewky pays him off.
“I’m surprised he didn’t just take you.”
“I couldn’t say no.”
“I think he wanted to make me happy, and I suggested that he treat you well.”
I begin several days of training at the Boss’s underground facility.
Blika and Brewky give me a new name, Neyima, and an identity chip.
An ordinary chip carries a single name, citizen code, and basic birth data: planet, dates, etc.
It … Read more
Night is the same as day, here in the cave.
Only our inner clocks tell us that the day is gone.
Every Jiku knows whether it’s morning, evening, or night, even in a dark place, with no clues from the sun.
We always know the exact hour and minute.
Time is twisted when we enter or leave a simulation, when we transport from one part of the world to another, or when we move between worlds.
Still, a few seconds later, the inner clock finds its way.
I welcome the peace that night brings, but Dilasa doesn’t want … Read more
Chiwan is not home when I arrive, but I find a message waiting for me.
“Find me, Yagrin, before you release the old ones.”
How does he know?
Did Shazira contact him?
I check the timestamp on the message, and discover that the message was recorded an hour before I left the Watchtower.
The message continues.
Cross two green hills, traveling southeast.
Fly ninety miles straight east, until you reach the barren lands.
Continue northeast for five miles across the barren lands, until you come to a waterfall that feeds a small lake.
At the bottom of
… Read more
Stealing Her Thoughts
Tzina is dying.
I transform myself into Tzina’s exact form, fire eyes and all.
Then I spread my listening body.
This lets me see and feel someone’s thoughts, feelings, and memories.
Shazira has never seen anyone do this.
Flow masters, like Shazira, use masks to change their shape, but never take the form of other Jiku.
It’s forbidden, too difficult, and too dangerous.
I’m not using a temporary mask, or even a flow transformation.
I dissolve my pattern body, and attach myself to a twin of her pattern body.
“What are you doing, Yagrin?”
“There’s no … Read more